Monday's Memory of Mom

6.30.2008

It's been a wild last two weeks. 

First, a devastating flood. Last week, we were to go on a week long camping vacation, but I couldn't go. It was too soon after the flood. I needed to stay here just in case Elizabeth needed me. It just felt odd to go when so many were suffering and might need help. So, we cancelled it and stayed home. 

I spent the cancelled vacation week uploading and building a new forum for The Swap.  The old one was getting corrupted and no longer had support, so rather than wake up one morning and find it gone, Kel and I  were proactive and got a new one uploaded and set up. I knew it was going to be work, but I had no idea the amount of time and thought each decision was going to take. I've been online working on it every waking moment all last week. Some days, I would be on from 6:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night. As Kelly said, "Fried brains smell good!!" Other than some minor tweaking here and there, the New Swap is done, up and running and the Swappies seem to be adjusting rather well. 

What does this have to do with my mom?? Nothing. *wink* Except to say I could hear her voice saying, "Amy...Slow down! Why do you always have to move so fast?" I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going over the last few weeks. The end is in sight, but I have to "move fast" to get the things I need to get done today. And I need to start NOW!!

:o)

"My Sheep," ~ by J.C. Ryle

6.26.2008

My sheep
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John")



"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10: 27, 28

Christ calls His people, "My sheep."



The word "sheep," no doubt, points to something in the character and ways of true Christians. It would be easy to show that weakness, helplessness, harmlessness, usefulness--are all points of resemblance between the sheep and the believer. But the leading idea in our Lord's mind was the entire dependence of the sheep upon its Shepherd.

Just as a sheep hear the voice of their own shepherd, and follow him--so do believers follow Christ. By faith they listen to His call. By faith they submit themselves to His guidance. By faith they lean on Him, and commit their souls implicitly to His direction.
The expression, "My sheep," also points to the close connection which exists between Christ and believers. They are His by gift from the Father, His by purchase, His by election and the effectual calling, and His by their own consent and heart submission.

In the highest sense they are Christ's property; and just as a man feels special interest in that which had bought at a great price and made his own--so does the Lord Jesus feel a peculiar interest in His people.

We should notice the vast privileges which the Lord Jesus Christ bestows on true Christians. He uses words about that, of singular richness and strength.
Christ "knows" His people with a special knowledge of interest and affection. By the world around them they are comparatively unknown, uncared for, or despised. But they are never forgotten or overlooked by Christ.
Christ "gives" His people "eternal life." He freely bestows on them--a right and title to heaven, pardoning their many sins, and clothing them in a perfect righteousness.

Money, and health, and worldly prosperity He often wisely withholds from them. But He never fails to give them grace, peace and glory.

Christ declares that His people "shall never perish." Weak as they are--they shall all be saved. Not one of them shall be lost and cast away; not one of them shall miss heaven. If they ere--they shall be brought back; if they fall--they shall be raised. The enemies of their souls may be strong and mighty--but their Savior is mightier; and none shall pluck them out of their Savior's hands! "My sheep shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand."

Wordless Wednesday

6.25.2008

Adoption Day! 
PS. This courtroom was in the basement of the courthouse, so it was completely ruined in the flood. 
Join the fun of Wordless Wednesday!

Monday's Memory of Mom

6.23.2008

Where did the time go!? I woke up this morning, got my cup of coffee, sat at my computer and the light bulb went on over my head. It's Monday!! The last week and a half has been a blur, but things are beginning to settle down somewhat and we are finding a new normal after the flood. 

As I was getting ready for the day, I thought about my mom and what popped into my mind was Sophie. Sophie is her bichon frise dog. Growing up, we didn't have pets, except for Diane the guinea pig, so it was so shocking to me to see my mom with Sophie. Sophie belonged to my sister, but due to extending circumstances, she wasn't able to keep her, so my mom took Sophie in. I think she originally was just keeping Sophie until my sister could get her back. What I don't think Mom anticipated was how much she would grow to love Sophie and there was no way she would let her go. My mom was a full blown, 100% dog person, but didn't know it until she was in her 60's. Better late than never. :o) She took Sophie everywhere with her. She remarked to me once that she had no idea how comforting it was to have a dog. She babied her. Not in an overboard way like some do, but took care of her and loved her even as Sophie grew older, had lost her teeth and grew some pretty ugly skin tumors on her body. Days before Mom died, she wrote a letter to her husband with instructions to give it to him after the funeral. Toad read it to me over the phone. The ending of her letter was so touching...She said, "I'll see you when you get here. PS, Bring Sophie." 

Sophie is still living with Toad. She is an old gal and close to the end of her life. It will be a sad day for all of us when Sophie dies, however, Mom will be happy to see her again. 


The 500-Year Flood and the Kingdom of Christ

6.22.2008

Last week, my paster began what will be, God-willing, a four week sermon series on the flood of 2008. 

The first sermon, "The 500 Year Flood and the Kingdom of Christ," answers these questions: 

1 - Where do 500-year floods fit in the Christ-centered story line in the Bible?
2 - Where do floods come from?
3 - How should we respond to them?
4 - Where can we find hope?

Listen here.

I will post the rest of the series as they become available. 

He is faithful

6.20.2008

Thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday's work—whether through food-preparation, hands-on labor, or through prayer. God answered our prayers for plentiful work. Our guests were busy from 9-5!

We had an incredible day yesterday doing flood clean-up. I thought I'd give you an update on some of what happened:

You recall that Monday afternoon, we had 50 SBC Disaster Relief workers show up from Texas, needing a place to stay. They were sent up to provide 100,000 meals a day. Someone, somewhere in the coordination chain, overestimated the need for meals. They were not needed to feed people. It was an overestimation on man's part, but not on God's. The Lord had a reason for sending them.

They were on the road yesterday morning, headed back to Texas. But, they were going back tired and worn out from a long day of service. They worked from 10 am to about 5 pm Wednesday, assisting in the clean-up of a Family #1's business, Family #2's home and the homes in their neighborhood.

One blessing in this is that neither family was able to do clean-up  Thursday because they must continue to work their jobs. Alongside their friends and family members, their church and their Baptist convention, it enabled them to get done what they needed to Wednesday, so that they could be free to work Thursday!

We had several church members show up at both locations to work hard at clean-up. (I won't name them all, for fear of forgetting someone.) You know who you are: THANK YOU!

We also had many ladies assist in providing food for the workers. We not only fed all the workers, but we fed many neighbors who were cleaning out their flooded homes.

The E's business is cleaned out to the stud walls. The carpet is out. The drywall is down. They just need to let it dry out before reconstruction occurs. That is a tremendous amount of work for a day.

Family #1 seem to be doing well, given the stressful situation. Mrs. was in tears as she watched the convoy of Disaster Relief vehicles pull into their parking lot. Mr. is deeply thankful as well; "a changed man" as he described himself. Please pray for Family #1 as they make decisions about how to reconstruct inside the building, etc. I will keep you (the church family) updated as rebuilding occurs. I'm sure there will be opportunities to serve next week (and in weeks to come).

Family #2's home is completely cleared. We were able to get everything out and sorted into appropriate piles for the city to pick up. We were able to get their salvageable possessions taken to the place they are staying now.

Please pray for the Family #2. They were both in good spirits yesterday. Still, it has to be emotionally devastating to watch 95% of your earthly possessions be piled on the curb to be hauled to the landfill. Please pray the Lord will provide for all their needs.

One of the biggest joys yesterday was the ministry that we were able to have to their neighborhood. The crew of Texas Baptists fanned out up and down the block on both sides of the street. They went from house to house with a dolly, hauling out appliances. They assisted in hauling belongings to the curb.

Russ B. went from house to house with a pump. He pumped the water out of at least 7 basements.

Others got to sit and listen to, witness to and pray with devastated home-owners.

Their neighbors were so appreciative. It was encouraging to listen to Mr. & Mrs. tell their neighbors that all these people were from their church. It was a blessing to hear the Texas Baptists explain that they were being hosted by Northbrook Baptist. It was a great witness to the compassion of our Savior.

One of their neighbors said, "I'm an atheist, and I always will be." Please pray for him. Pray that he would notice that it was Northbrook Baptist and Southern Baptists cleaning their neighborhood. Pray he would notice that the Red Cross and Salvation Army came through the neighborhood providing refreshment for the workers. Four Christian organizations were on the ground helping them. I did not notice the "Atheist Disaster Relief" workers. 

[Given the rising popularity of atheistic literature, we should not fail to notice that Christian organizations still provide the bulk of compassion efforts in the face of disaster. We should not be surprised. We have a worldview that sees disaster as a result of the fall and knows of redemption from the curse through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we seek to imitate Him. Atheism must hold that disaster is simply the result of living in a chaotic cosmos, through which chaos creates life. What may they imitate?]

The work will continue for weeks and months to come. We must not grow tired of doing good.

Again, please pray that this situation will be used by God to call many to faith in Jesus Christ. If that happens, then the worst thing that ever happened to Cedar Rapids will become the best thing that ever happened to Cedar Rapids.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.

Blessings,

Pastor Eric

*edited for clarity and to protect identities*


Wordless Wednesday - Flood of 2008

6.18.2008


Jesus said:  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Clean up is about to begin!

6.17.2008


Elizabeth and her husband get to see their home today. Tomorrow we plan on beginning the cleaning process, which basically will be getting rid of garbage and salvaging what we can. They will need to make some big decisions on what to do with the house. Tear down and rebuild or fix it as it is. It will all depend on what they find today. 

Latest update:
They saw their home. They said it was a mess and smells horrible, but it's not as bad as they expected. 



These are my new loverly boots. They were sold out of pink ones. I asked. *wink* I got my tetanus shot today, so I am good to go! 

Monday's Memory of Mom

6.16.2008

After a disaster like we have seen in our area the thought of writing a post about my mom when so many are suffering, seems so trivial, so petty...And yet, there is nothing I can do right now. Elizabeth can't get into her home for quite some time. We are all just trying to find our new normal. 

Yesterday was my turn to be in the nursery at church. It was a joy to hold a 3 month old baby, rock her to sleep and give her momma a much needed break. Because my mom had a day care in our home from the time I was 5 until I was long grown and out of the house with a babe of my own, being with babies is second nature to me. My mom always had a baby on her hip and as soon as I was old enough, I did, too. It's second nature to me to hold a fussy baby over my shoulder, patting rhythmically on her back and bounce her up and down while making shushing noises in her ear. It was satisfying getting her to settle down and having her fall asleep in my arms. 

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to settle a fussy baby...

Praise You in this Storm

6.15.2008



Doing our part

6.14.2008

Because of the critical water supply situation in our area, we are to limit our sewer and water usage. Check out our water supply! 

Here is the shower filled with water from the pool. Ready for me to rinse my hair for church tomorrow. 


We are also using paper plates, plastic silverware, baby wipes for clean up and instant sanitizer for our hands. 


Flood of 2008 - pictures

6.13.2008




My dear friend, Elizabeth...

God brought Elizabeth into my life a little over a year ago. Little did I know how much God was blessing me when He did.

Elizabeth is my little "Energizer Bunny" friend. She is constantly moving and busy, usually serving her family, her friends and our church. Rarely herself. She is also one of the most giving and thoughtful people I know. She is ever ready to give a helping hand to others, thinks of others before herself and gives of her time generously. She humbles me on a regular basis, for I am too frequently selfish and stingy with my resources and time, even if only in my mind where no one but God knows. 

Where she humbles me the most is her gratitude. 

Yesterday, she and her family were one of families that had to evacuate their humble home because of the flood that was coming to Cedar Rapids. During one of the many phone calls we exchanged, as she was moving her items to the upper story of her home, she shared this with me:

Elizabeth: Amy, I was telling my husband that I just feel like crying!

Me: Oh, honey...*thinking to myself...It would be so hard to know that you could lose your home and everything.* 

Elizabeth: *spoken through tears* God has been so good to me! People from church are calling me and offering their help. I have real friends! God has given me friends who really care about us... 

I was humbled to my toes...I would have been crying about the possibility of losing my stuff and home, but not Elizabeth. She was crying out of GRATITUDE because God had blessed her with a church family who loves her. 

As of today, her home is flooded. Perhaps up to 7 feet of water is in her neighborhood. Guess what she is concerned about? Getting the church cleaned for Sunday. (She and her husband are the church's janitors.) It will be a week or two before we can get to her house, so I will do what I can and help her with cleaning the church later today. It's the least I can do... 

Bring the Rain

6.12.2008

Father, be glorified....



Flood of 2008

Last night we traveled on hwy 30 and I-380 so we could see the flood. It was too dark for me to take pictures. It's one thing to see it on TV or by photograph, it's quite another seeing it with your own eyes. 

I found this slideshow of photographs of the flooding on You Tube. They were taken last night. Things are much worse now and more is yet to come. 



Update:

The Czech Slovak Museum is half under water. 
Train bridge is gone.
It looks like 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ave bridges have water on them. 
All of downtown is underwater. 
Last night, the water was in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Today, the water is up to the roof.

The crest is due tomorrow. 

Update:
The original crest estimate was 24.4 feet (flood stage is 12 feet.) As of now (3:00 PM) the estimate flood level now is 25.4 feet, so they are readjusting the estimate of the new crest height, which still expected to reach our area Friday morning. We are at the 500 year flood plain level.

The water is up to the bottom of the front doors of this beautiful church

Update:
The new crest estimate is over 28 feet. 3 feet over the flood plain level . More homes may need to be evacuated. 

Update:
The river is measuring 29.32 feet. Estimated crest 32 feet. 

Update:
More homes being evacuated in Cedar Rapids and Indian Creek is now flooding. It's raining again after already getting 6-8 inches of rain already today. 

Wordless Wednesday...Almost

6.11.2008

My husband went to the boundary waters a little over a week ago and took this beautiful shot. 

Join the fun of Wordless Wednesday!

Cheers for Amanda

6.10.2008

There is a special young woman that I am asking for you all to pray for. Her name is Amanda. Her mother, Denise, and I are best friends from high school. Amanda has cancer. They have been fighting this ugly disease for a long time. For a while, she was cancer free and enjoyed a wonderful year of school doing the things she loves, cheerleading and soccer. Denise keeps an amazing blog about their journey. Their faith will encourage you...

Go to Cheers For Amanda, and please join me in praying for her and her family. 

Thank you...

Monday's Memory of Mom

6.09.2008

Once upon a time in a state park full of deep dark caves, my mom lost my children. 

The summer of '98, I became a single mother. If any of you have ever been through a separation and/or divorce, you know that it's an extremely difficult season in a person's life. As a general rule, my two oldest children didn't spend a lot of time staying over night at their grandparent's home, but that summer and fall, they did. I think they needed to get away from their own pain  and from seeing mine. And Grandpa Toad spoiled them rotten by never telling them, "no." 
 
One weekend, Mom and Toad (my step-dad) took them to a fabulous park in Iowa called,Maquoketa Caves. When she told me of their plans, I told her,  in all seriousness..."Take care of my children. Don't let anything happen to them. They are all I've got."
 
Of course, she promised...However, I didn't include my 10 year old son and 12 year old daughter in the equation.
 
After spending all day exploring caves and enjoying the park they were all headed back to the car to go home. Haley, my highly adventurous daughter, asked if Holden and she could cut through one last cave while Mom and Toad took the outside path. They gave their permission and told them to not dawdle.
 
Mom and Toad got to the opening on the other side of the cave and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.  Thinking Haley and Holden beat them out of the cave before they got there and had already gone to the car, they went to look. No children. They began to walk around the park calling their names. No response. They asked everyone they saw if they had seen my children. No one had. My mom was now in  a panic. She and Toad found a park ranger and the ranger shut the park down. By this time, it was getting dark. There was no sign of them anywhere. They were gone...

Meanwhile, Haley and Holden saw some people going in a crack in the side of the cave's wall and decided to join their party. It didn't take long for them to figure out that they made a serious error in judgement. It was dangerous and treacherous in that part of the cave. There were places where they had to use ropes to get from one level to another and it was very narrow. With people behind them turning back was not an option and they didn't have any flashlights. Praise God, the young 20 year old adults in the cave with them figured out that they were in there alone and needed help. They looked out for them and helped them as they "explored" the cave. I'm sure my frightened children put a damper on their adventure.
 
By this time, my mom was in hysterics. She told me later that she kept thinking, "Amy is going to kill me....I promised her that nothing would happen to her children. She is going to kill me." In my defense, I have never gone on a murdering rampage, so I don't know why she thought that. Could it be the glint I had in my eye when I took her face in my hands, looked deeply in her eyes and said, "Don't let anything happen to my children..." Ummm, I suspect that was what caused her to worry for her life. *wink*
 
I'm not sure how long it took for my kids to come out of the cave. Long enough to give my mom a few more gray hairs, that's for sure. When she saw them, muddy from head to toe and not a little scared, she hugged them and began to lecture them for all it's worth. She was MAD! My mom and I have this bad habit of getting mad when we are scared. Haley and Holden were already pretty shook up from their adventure, so mom being upset didn't help matters. I ended up driving to their home late that night, to bring them back home.
 
In the last few months of my mom's life, it was fun to hear Haley, Holden and Mom talk about this little adventure and hear them laugh in the retelling of it. It was an adventure that none of us were going to soon forget.

Thank you...

6.07.2008

I want to thank everyone for reading my account of donating my bone marrow and for the kind words on my story of Hope. I hope I didn't come across as self-serving. I truly want God to get all the glory. :o)

I placed the story in order and placed a link to it on my side bar. My hope is that people will read it and decide to sign up as a bone marrow and stem cell donor. I am always available to discuss the experience with anyone who wishes to contact me.

I noticed the other day that they changed the max age a person can be in able to donate. It used to be that no one older than 50 could donate. I always tell Julee to hurry up and find me a new person to donate to because my age is creeping quickly to 50, however, they changed the max age to 60!! Maybe, just maybe, I'll be another 1 in a million and be able to donate again. :o)

To learn more about donating your bone marrow and stem cells, check out  The National Marrow Donor Program web page.

Thank you,

I won!!!!

6.02.2008

A is for Aiden held a blogoversary contest and I won a gorgeous Down Syndrome Awareness bracelet! 

Isn't it gorgeous!?! 

It's going to look so lovely on Laurie's wrist. :o)

Love you, Laurie!! And thank you, Steph!!

Edit: 

I must confess....The bracelet is so pretty...I decided I had to have one, too, so I bought one. Now Laurie and I will have matching purses and matching bracelets! 

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