Friday, February 25, 2011

Reading Habits

I love to read!

As a kid filling out early job applications, I often listed reading as a favorite hobby. (Does that really qualify? Not sure. But I didn't play softball and I certainly wasn't a cheerleader! So, reading it was. Smile.)

But this morning gave me an all time high reason for reading on a regular basis. You see........

Dad came down for a visit this week to meet his new great-grandson. What fun! But as his single suitcase comes in the door, so do all the thoughts and memories of who isn't with him. Sigh.

Last night he fried fish for dinner; a family tradition when we get together. And afterward, we took lots of pictures with Spencer.

I was fine until we did the "generations" picture. You know - Great grandpa, Grandma, Mama, Baby - four generations. My heart turned to mush knowing that Mom should be in the pictures. Meagan caught my discreet request that Mom's quilt be in them at least.

(What does all this have to do with reading? I'm coming back around, hang on. Smile.)

My heart seemed full of emotional soup all night long. Changes with church, changes in our family, doctor's visits, prayer concerns, miracle-watching. Stir, stir, stir.

I woke at five and finally got up around 6:00 to find some quiet from all the loud thinking.

Good habits are a great thing! Out of habit I made coffee; grabbed my Bible and journal; made room for Gracie on the love seat; and settled in.

My Bible just happened to fall open to April 15th where I had this underlined, "The Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand them over to Israel.' " Beside it I had written, "Don't fear; see a good outcome!"

I love to read many different genres. But my favorite reading involves promises made and encouragement given by a God big enough to do something about them!

Here's to seeing a good outcome on the horizon before it fully appears. How about you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New and Improved

Before I launch into the ramblings of today, a Spencer update.

Last Wednesday evening, Spencer Matthew made his first public appearance at the beginning of youth service. (As John and Joy are the youth pastors, this seemed a most appropriate debut.)

Joy wisely slipped out just before the sermon so that hearts aching to hold the young prince wouldn't be overcome. Smile. It's still flu season around these parts; can't take chances.

It was then reported that a certain junior Schreck attended the opening service of a leadership conference. AND a missions banquet where Dan Betzer mistakenly thought himself to be the main attraction. (Even though Rev. Betzer was the guest speaker, we knew everyone was really there to see Spencer.)

Youth! Leadership! Missions! All within his first two weeks of life. What must the Lord have in store for this young man?!

Whatever it may be, Joy feels certain it will require him to be awake nights. At least, that's what he seems to be practicing for right now. Poor Joy and John. They really miss passing him off to the NY grandparents after the 5:00 AM feeding!

As to my thoughts for this post.........

Have you ever noticed our North American fascination with the word "NEW"? It seems that we are all enamored with NEW or BRAND NEW or better still........ NEW AND IMPROVED!!

Why is that?

Several years ago, I was standing with a group of more established pastors' wives. I stood listening and observing; trying to sip daintily from a cup of punch; praying I wouldn't spill it. Suddenly, one of them turned to me and complemented my blouse.

(It really was a gorgeous gold blouse with a high collar that was pleated and rather unusual. The perfect accent for my otherwise dull, navy suit.)

Excited and eager to offer something to the conversation I replied, "Oh, thanks. I found it at a consignment shop in Raleigh."

Everyone froze!

I immediately sensed that my revelation had made each woman in the circle terribly uncomfortable. And I became confused.

Now in my thinking, snagging such a cute item for a fourth of its value should be celebrated! Careful laundering with my favorite detergent moves that item from pre-owned to totally comfortable.

But those precious ladies' first thought was compassion for another who couldn't shop unless it was in a consignment store.

(No, not pity. Trust me. Nearly every pastor's wife has had her season of being a serious bargain shopper! They should offer a course for all female ministry majors: "Credible Consignment Identification 101". Smile.)

I've pondered that moment many times through the years. We all love when something is brand, spanking new. But does that make it somehow better?

Is a vehicle better because it's new? "The new-car smell."

Or is a dress more appropriate because it's new? "You mean this 'ole thing?!" sans Scarlette O'Hara.

Do our cabinets hold dishes better if they're new? "Look at that wood-grain."

Is a project more important when it's new? "Now this will impact the world."

(I have no answers. These are just questions that have come to me.)

And of course, there is the flip side of having an inordinate love of all things new.

We can easily fall into pride over being the ones content with nothing new. I went through a season of being so proud of my "frugality" that it became a real problem.

While shopping one day with a dear friend, we came across her favorite pair of work shoes marked 60% off. The store even had her hard-to-fit size in several colors. But she refused to buy more than one pair because she was with me. She thought I would judge her as being extravagant. Sigh.

It was a wonderful teaching moment for me. And soon after, my heart went back to Paul's admonition. "Be content with much or little!"

It's not our place to determine how much is "much" or how much is too "little". Our job is to find contentment right smack dab in the middle of either. And the truth is - both require copious quantities of GRACE.

Perhaps the best "NEW" we could reach for is a "NEW ATTITUDE". Hmmmmm.

(Not sure why I felt compelled to share these thoughts. Hope they'll be an encouragement.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Miracle Zone

Dear Friends, how I miss writing to you! And as our under-thirties say around here, "That's REAL!" Smile.

I mentioned in passing that Spencer's arrival has totally upended our lives - true; definitely true.

But we also have several additional events; studies to write; conferences to attend, plan, execute; unscheduled emergencies....... (Wait, is it possible to schedule emergencies? Yeah, I didn't think so!) Well, you get the idea.

This weekend we're hosting a conference which we believe represents a pivotal moment of growth for our church. And while we are extremely excited, we are also a bit anxious.

(I know, I know. "Be anxious for nothing....." I'm working on that too, okay?! Smile.)

And in the midst of all this controlled chaos, I find that my alone time and recreational writing times have gotten pretty pinched! Sigh.

So this morning, during the twenty minutes I've snatched for this purpose (which I'm also using to sit outside and relish the sunrise) I have a statement to share.

I am in the middle of watching for a miracle!

In fact, our entire family is praying and watching and rehearsing Scripture promises and believing God together for this miracle.

"What might this miracle be?" you may ask.

"Who will this miracle affect?" you may wonder.

"Is it really of 'miracle' proportion; or simply something that would make life a little better?" you may ponder.

Well, let me assure you, this is indeed one of those Red Sea-Parting; Blind Eyes-Seeing; Quail and Manna-Providing type of moments for us.

You know, one of those times in your life when you've done everything you know to do. You've obeyed every scriptural mandate. Responded to every prompting that makes no sense whatsoever but you know it's what you're supposed to do. Searched you heart. Your spouse's heart. Your children's hearts. Even the heart of your neighbor.

Now, it's up to God!

I came to that simple understanding earlier this morning while reading Psalm 37. And believe it or not, I had to laugh out loud. Just Gracie, Bella, the Lord and me sitting quietly, reading His promises.

There it was: "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed."

(Now you know why I was able to laugh.)

Frank and I have been here many times through our years of ministry together. We have come to affectionately refer to this spot as "THE MIRACLE ZONE"!! (Please read that again with appropriate reverberation sounds. Smile.)

I would imagine that you've been here too.

Isn't it always amazing how God shows up?! We have experienced some of the most incredible miracle moments through the years. But one thing is certain for each of those.

You must be standing in the Miracle Zone (the place where you have absolutely no possible way to make something happen on your own) in order to experience a miracle.

We've come to view this as both an amazing and exciting moment - the moment just before a miracle takes place. (My sister says our Miracle Zone moments give her heartburn! Smile.)

While I can't reveal to you exactly what we're watching for, I can tell you this. You will know the details as soon as they come about! Remember that I'm a strong believer in the truth: joy shared is multiplied.

Besides, God gets all the praise from these moments and people come to understand how much He cares for us every one.

So, here's to watching, waiting and expecting..........

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just One Look!

It was a truly amazing moment.

Last night, we had a dinner party in our living room for Kristin's birthday. (The dining room was too small for even the few family and friends she invited. Sooooo, exit coffee tables - enter bigger table and extra chairs. Smile.)

She and Frank decorated the room, I cooked, everyone else handled the assistant roles with great enthusiasm! We had the Schreck clan wait and come just at time to begin the meal. Kristin said someone had to be surprised by the lovely table. Smile.

When Spencer finally arrived, everything kicked into high gear. (I don't believe for one minute that his two loud grandmas congratulating one another had anything to do with it!)

It was a "Norman Rockwell" moment if I've ever experienced one.

The arrival; the gathering at the table; the prayer of blessing over the birthday girl; the smiles; the hugs; the laughter......... But those all pale in comparison to a split second that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Joy was holding Spencer who snoozed contentedly in Mom's sure hold. I stepped over and lightly kissed his sweet little head; quietly crooning about how perfect he is and how much Nana loves the boy - all in my lowest pitched, non-startling voice.

That's when it happened.

He jerked his head toward my voice in classic newborn fashion and began flickering his little eyes. I thought surely I was imagining, hoping, fabricating. But when his eyes finally focused, I knew...... Friends, I'm here to testify that the little guy responded as though he recognized my voice!

I could tear-up right now just telling you about it.

Everyone talked excitedly around us. Even Joy was unaware, I think. But in that moment, there were only two people in the room. Spencer and Nana. It's a picture I will rehearse and treasure always!

I didn't even hold him during the evening because the NY grandparents have to get on a plane and go home today. They needed all the snuggle time they could stock-pile.

But I didn't have to hold him. He reached up with those tiny blue eyes and held me.

(Deep Contented SIGH!! Smile.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Awash in Emotion

More than words can say!

What a week this has been. And all I can say is, "You were right!"

The comments you've left like, "Just wait, Sheri." "You can't begin to imagine what it's like." "Our children are wonderful, but there's just something different about grandchildren!" You were right!! I'm done for! No hope for balance any longer! Smile.

Spencer came home on Tuesday with the help of his NY grandparents, John and Linda. I've never experienced a nine pound child taking four adults captive the way this one has taken us. (That's not even counting his two aunts and one "fr-aunt" - friend/aunt, Amanda. Smile.)

It seems every plan starts or ends with the singular question, "When will you be going by John and Joy's to see Spencer?" We've somehow managed to keep church and office work rolling. Although I feel sure that something major has slipped through the cracks, we'll fix it next week.

Right now, we are captivated by every twitch, coo, eyebrow lift, stretch and sigh of this little man. Our conversations revolve around the critical issues of:
  • dirty diapers - number and content
  • nursing - right side, left side, diet of the mom
  • amount of sleep - or lack there of
  • who got "hosed" - Linda is more adept at changing "boy" diapers than are we
  • swaddling, singing, swings........
You get the picture.

Gracie and Bella feel totally abandoned. (Sitting beside me this morning wasn't sufficient. Gracie had to be in my lap for awhile.)

Phone calls checking on my dad have dropped dramatically. (Fortunately, he's been pretty understanding as he just became a GREAT grandfather, himself!)

And we are incredibly thankful that a conference date we had set last year for this weekend had to be moved to next weekend because of a scheduling conflict. God sees the future and will help us out if we let Him. Whew!

I haven't allowed myself to tug on any of the threads keeping my emotions stitched together. I'm a bit scared of unraveling that bag just yet. Every time I take a cautious peek inside my heart, it seems there's too much swirling around still and I need to give it a little more time to settle.

The first hint of a coming tidal wave was when I said at the hospital, "Oh, give me my phone. I need to call Mom and Dad first!" Hmmmm. Two years in heaven and still she is at the core of my deepest emotions.

Today we will celebrate Kristin's birthday.

It takes only a moment for me to mentally relocate to that birthing room in Asheville, NC twenty-eight years ago. My own young husband saying, "Breathe, Honey. Breathe. You're doing a great job. We'll have a baby before lunchtime!" And so we did.

I think of how we've only blinked twice it seems. And now, here we are - rehearsing the honest, heartfelt prayers of our son-in-law as his precious wife brought life into the world.

Such wonder! Such grace in operation! Such divine commentary, "Be fruitful. Multiply. Influence this world until I return."

Incredible that we are included in the plans of eternity!

If winter cold has crept into your heart, I hope you will take a moment and breathe in the warm eternal breezes of our real homeland. Babies have an incredible way of reminding us that we are not of this world. You and I are part of a much grander scheme.........

Six days old and he's already preaching great messages. Imagine what it'll be when he can actually talk!! Smile.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Ah, Friends! Spencer Matthew Schreck has arrived!!

He came into the world late yesterday by c-section - all 9lbs. 1oz. and 22in. of him! As all you other grandparents warned me, he is absolutely perfect and my heart is totally smitten! (This computer doesn't have enough exclamation marks to express my joy this morning!!!!!!! Smile.)

Puffy little cheeks, long fingers, daddy's nose and mom's adorable dimples! He opened his eyes to check out the faces that went with the voices he's been hearing these many months. And when he did, he took total ownership of us all! I'm done for! Smile.

Joy, John and Spencer were all resting for a moment when we finally left the hospital last night around 9. But as we all know it was probably a looooong night for them. So we appreciate your continued prayers.

The hospital will be my new haunt for all free time over the next few days; they stay until Tuesday. But I'll try to post something of substance before then.

For now, I just had to get out the news. God has graced the world with another beautiful baby boy to bring love and delight to all those around. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Linda, WE'RE G-MAMA'S!! Smile!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Curtain

Mrs. Birdie Deal quietly went Home to be with Jesus yesterday afternoon.

I don't expect that Diane Sawyer or Matt Lauer will be reporting on her passing because, like my mom and most of our parents and grandparents, Mrs. Birdie's name was known by only her family and friends. But to those of us who DID know her, the passing is monumental.

Frank and I went back up to the hospital when her family called to let us know. Her side of the semi-private room was filled to capacity with three of her daughters, a son, a "sister", and in-laws who felt like children. A thin curtain separated Mrs. Birdie's area from the space designated for the patient next to her.

When I stepped next to the wall at the foot of the bed, to make room for her family, it gave me an interesting view.

The bed on the right held the precious body of the lady who had just slipped into eternity. The bed on the left held the body of a precious lady sound asleep and still clinging to this life.

They looked very much the same.

White, curly hair crowned both their heads. Brushed straight back by loving hands stroking their brows in an attempt to offer/gain comfort. Faces wrinkled by time, tears, and laughter. Eyes closed; hands at rest.

On the left - machines still whirring; buzzers beeping softly; quiet, labored breathing.

On the right - total peace!

And in that moment, I knew that I was seeing "life" from God's perspective.

He sees our world and eternity at exactly the same moment. Only a thin curtain separates the two. It's all the same "room" from his perspective.

Writing to you this morning, I'm very aware that Spencer may well come into our world as early as tomorrow. Mrs. Birdie slipped to the right side of the room (eternity) yesterday and Spencer will join us on the left side of the room tomorrow.

But God views both sides at the same time.

It brings new meaning to the verse of scripture, "....we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses....cheering us on....." And others that refer to the "thin veil" which separates us.

Doesn't life feel like such a mystery on "our side" of the curtain?! On many days, nothing makes sense at all.

But I take great comfort this morning in knowing that the God who has promised to guide my footsteps, has a perfect view of the entire room! It all makes great sense to Him. And if I can keep my focus on His face, He will lovingly guide me to the the right side of the room in the best possible way.

Joy reminded me, "Ah, Mom. She's more alive than we are!"

True, Joy. So very true. Hope your day is blessed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It seems that much of life revolves around waiting, doesn't it?

Of course, you know that right now our waiting focuses on the anticipated arrival of one baby boy. (I'm laughing about us in my heart. So it's okay if you do too. You would think that Linda and I are the only two women who will become first time grandmothers this year! Smile.)

Joy is waiting for Spencer's arrival. She longs to hold the "answer" to her prayers. It seems that everyone has been waiting forever! We believe his appearance is just around the corner. And bottom line, we can do nothing to rush his delivery.

So are we all just sitting around twiddling our thumbs?

No, way! We are waiting actively! There has been a nursery to prepare. Bags needed packing. Travel plans had to be made. (And because of snow, re-made.) Furniture was purchased then assembled. It was arranged; then rearranged! Plans and backup plans have been formulated in case she goes into labor on a Sunday morning. (Shudder.)

You know the drill.

While pondering this, I remembered a sermon the Lord gave to me years ago. (Too long to record here; but I'll give you the highlights.)

If we are going to wait for answers from God, we must choose to understand that He intends for us to "W.A.I.T." actively.

W. - Watch for the miracle! The father of the prodigal son had no promise that the boy would return. But He believed God was working a miracle, so he watched every day for his son; and was able to run to meet him. Watching for the miracle gives us an entirely different attitude and perspective.

A. - Have an Answer for the enemy! "Did God say?" "Will God deliver?" "Can God heal?" Satan has been encouraging mankind to question God since the beginning of time. We must do our part in a miracle by getting into the Word and finding answers for the questions he raises. "God can not lie....." "My God will meet all my needs according to His riches...." "By His stripes we are healed...." I've had occasion to even shout these out loud a few times!

I. - Invest in the miracle! God loves for us to get involved. Moses raised a staff over the sea; Esther approached the king; Abraham left his homeland; Peter got out of the boat. For every miracle moment in our lives, we are able to point back to a moment of obedience God used to make us part of the work. What can you invest toward your miracle? I promise, He'll show you if you ask.

T. - Thank Him for His Timing! "In the fullness of time....." God is never one minute late. (And He's seldom ever early! Smile.) His timing is perfect! I often like to say that when it seems answers are delayed, chose to trust that God is simply "sweetening the pot". In our experiences, we've watched Him add elements we didn't even think to ask about. He also usually orchestrates things so others are blessed in the process too.

The miracle will come, dear friend. You and I are not forgotten by God; we're being grown by Him.

Get involved and W.A.I.T. with joy!