Tuesday, June 26, 2012
He can hold his own full-sized ear of corn-on-the-cob and clean it as well as four front teeth will allow! His dad, Uncle Nathan and Poppa beamed!
(Seems this talent comes from the Schreck lineage as John's dad uses a specially cultivated bite allowing him to methodically clean each row. We look forward to a command performance soon.)
Unfortunately, Nana wasn't aware of Spencer's gifting so I had only prepared enough ears for the adults. Joy started out sharing hers with him but she's pregnant and needs all the nutrition she can consume.
None of the men stepped forward to share their corn. So Nana handed over her fresh silver queen cob and smiled as the young prince attacked it with the ferocity of a warrior! Next time I'll make more.
More corn will be needed soon anyway, our family dinner number increases by one this Saturday. The doctor has determined that if she doesn't make her appearance by then, it will be better that Abigail arrive via cesarean delivery. (Seems John and Joy make BIG babies!)
John's parents (and our dear friends) fly in next Monday. The regularly scheduled Fourth of July fireworks should be just about right in helping us celebrate.
You see, they had four sons. Linda had only one brother, no sisters. Of all the Schreck grandchildren and great-grandchildren there is only one other little girl. Need I say more?
Abigail Grace is dearly loved already!
But isn't it funny how you can be laughing and enjoying your family with part of your mind and dreaming with the other? That's what happened to me last night.
For just a moment, my mind flashed to the wonderful memories of Spencer's dedication. Of course, John and Linda were there. But Uncle Tim and his new wife Kelly as well as Uncle David were there too. (Uncle Phil was working at a children's camp in Alaska.)
We were all especially thrilled that Spencer's great-grandfather (John Schreck the First) came all the way from New York to attend.
The pictures of the four generations are such a treasure! Great-grandfather, grandfather, dad, Spencer. Four generations standing at an altar, declaring their faith.
I marveled at Spencer's heritage. Aunts, uncles, all four grandparents, seven great-grandparents with lives dedicated to God; praying that Spencer too will serve Christ.
And for just a moment last night, I wished desperately that my mom could be here for pictures with Abigail.
I wished that Joy and I could lay our hands on Mom's hand then crown them all with Abigail's tiny hand for one single snapshot.
I wished for Mom's smile. I longed to hear her coo and sing for her great-granddaughter. I yearned to be four generations of women speaking blessing over this treasured baby girl.
I don't allow myself to WISH for things that can't be very often. But last night I did.
My thoughts didn't wander long. Spencer dug his favorite book out of the toy basket and needed to hear it for the one hundredeth time.
Besides, I felt sure Mom was peeking over the edge of Heaven and urging me to enjoy right now. So that's what I did!
"The lion says, 'Rooaarr!' The dog says, 'Woof!' 'Woof!' "
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
It may sound like an odd statement, but I know it to be true. The ability to work, and to successfully complete that work, adds value to our lives.
God Himself stepped back at the end of each Creation Day, examined His work and said, "That's a good day's work. Well done."
Father's Day 2012 renewed my appreciation and understanding of this truth. Especially in the lives of the men around me.
It started with John's devotional at our Father's Day breakfast. He talked about his own struggle with finding balance. As a hard worker, he often wrestles with wanting things done his own way or in his timing.
John gave a great testimony of discovery from this past year. God delights in our hard work; but He refuses to let us have things our own way or in our own timing. Just isn't in our best interest, John said.
In the main service, Frank delivered an exceptional sermon. He validated the deeper questions that plague the hearts of most men the world over. Then threw out a challenge using a phrase we learned in El Salvador. "Vida Por Vida!" ("Life For Life!")
In our culture, it would reference the fact that Christ gave His life for us, now we live our lives for Him. But it's different in El Salvador.
Frank explained that the ministry we linked with, King's Castle, actually trains young missionaries to understand a deeper significance. For them, "Vida Por Vida!" means- "Christ died for me; I am willing to die for Him." (One young trainee already has.)
We worked alongside young people whose level of passion challenged us greatly! Frank asked the men of our congregation to consider that challenge. And to stand with him if they felt it a worthwhile call.
When every man in our congregation stood - shoulders back, eyes focused, faces set, hands clasped, determination blazing - I couldn't help but cry, I was so moved.
Men need valuable work in order to sense fulfillment. They need a cause. They need validation. It's built into them.
I was still pondering all this after lunch when I watched it play out, literally.
Everyone else was finishing up their meal but Spencer needed to get out of his highchair. So he and Nana stepped outside to wait. The restaurant porch was vacated and allowed me to give him total freedom within safe boundaries.
He tested the boundaries a couple of times. Nana held firm. And with those clearly established, he immediately got busy.
The veranda had comfortable seating, some low tables and several throw pillows. Spencer quickly created a task for himself. The little guy started working. He figured out how to move the pillow without tumbling over. Then he relocated it.
Once that was done, he tested the strength of the tables. He moved the pillow to see if it was more useful on the table. He put his head on the pillow. Then we had to play drums on the table and the pillow. Once the song ended, the pillow had to be returned to the sofa.
Occasionally, he would stop and we would laugh about something he found amusing. Or he would pat the pillow with a definitive, "There! That's done." And I would cheer or offer "Good Boy!"
But for the most part, he stayed very focused and intent on his "work". I could see the resolute attitude I've seen in his dad. I also spotted the determination I witnessed in a little girl who grew up to be his Mommy.
Work adds value to all our lives. God made us that way. And when balanced with healthy doses of validation and rest, work becomes a true gift in our lives.
This past week, Nick Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Frank and I watched his daring act live on TV. Don't mind telling you my jaw was clenched until he safely reached the other side.
(We especially loved the fact that his open mic allowed the millions watching to hear him saying and over, "I love you, Jesus! Thank You for this opportunity! Praise You, Father! You are my God! Thank You, Jesus!")
This was a lifelong dream. The culmination of years of training and hard work. When he completed the walk and stepped off the wire onto Canadian soil, he was met with cheers from tens of thousands who had gathered to watch.
His name will now forever be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. His hard work paid off! The world applauded for Nick Wallenda and called him a hero.
But there are other heroes around us that no one applauds or even notices:
- Dads who help find the missing shoe, again.
- Men who trudge off to jobs that have no glory but simply provide a steady income for the family they love.
- Husbands who chose to keep their eyes focused on their wives instead of the temptations around them.
- Young men who chose God over glamor.
- Little boys straining to understand the life-defining balance of work and play.
You probably have one of those men in your life. Husband, dad, son, brother, grandson, or friend. Take a moment and validate them today.
You'll never know how much that, "Good Job!" may have been needed. Or how far it may carry your hero on his tightrope of life.
Friday, June 15, 2012
My living room is a wreck.
My arms are twitching.
My hair is a mess.
My body is in desperate need of a nap.
Some of you already know. I've been babysitting!
Yes, I just spent the entire morning of my only day off doing what I've wanted to do more than anything else.................hugging, chasing, reading to, feeding, changing, stroller-ing, singing to, listening to one Spencer Matthew Schreck!
And a delightful adventure it has been.
Joy hasn't called on us to babysit very much since she's a stay-at-home mom. (Personally, I think she's nuts. I certainly would have called my mom for help!) When she does call, I jump at the chance.
She spent the morning getting ready for Abigail's soon arrival.
The doctor told them this week that he won't let her go beyond June 30th. That's just fifteen days on any calendar. Fifteen short days and we'll have a beautiful baby girl named Abigail Grace to squeeze too!
Poppa built a tent in the middle of the living room this morning. He used my dining room chairs, a clean sheet, and several couch pillows. Spencer wasn't too keen on going into the tent until Poppa held up his favorite book. That did it.
Spencer ducked down as low as his fat little legs would allow. Big blue eyes shot Nana a tentative look. Then he reached those precious hands toward Poppa's face. We both melted!
The casts came off yesterday and we are delighted to report that Spencer now has TEN precious fingers complete with ten nearly perfect fingernails. (Hence the inadvertent scratches on my face.) Even the surgeon registered surprise at how well his hands are healing.
We know that is the power of prayer!
For five long weeks Spence has lived with the restrictions of casts encasing both hands and reaching to his shoulders. And of course with this being his second surgery, he knew every step of the difficult journey!
While we were in El Salvador, he had an accident and the original casts had to be cut off and replaced. One of the replacements slipped off his arm two days later and he had to endure a third one being molded while Dad held him steady.
When Joy went in to get him this morning, she said he held his hands out toward her with fingers spread wide apart. His big smile said it all! "Look, Mom! Fingers!!"
Yep, I'm exhausted; but this is one grateful Nana writing today. Messy living room and all!
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Last Tuesday, we went to Julia’s house for a Bible Study.
That sounds pretty tame, except………
Julia’s house is located on the side of a mountain in El Salvador. I mean, literally on the side of the mountain!
And in order to access her house, we had to travel forty-five minutes standing up in the back of a truck. We crawled carefully up the side of the mountain by way of a narrow, winding “road” (I use that term very loosely!)
While we laughed occasionally, engaged in sporadic bits of conversation, and dodged low hanging branches, our main objective was simply to hang on and stay in the truck!
Now I do feel confident that if one of us had pitched head-first out the back or off the side, the rest of the team would have alerted the driver to stop. (Fearful screams sound amazingly similar in English and Spanish.) But climbing up into the vehicle was bad enough. I would NOT have wanted to fall out!
Oh, and because I want you to have a full mental picture, please add these details:
- On ministry days, we ladies all wore skirts paired with a team t-shirt.
- I did follow the suggestion of wearing shorts under my skirt.
- Let me not forget the tennis shoes and socks.
- Nor would I want to leave out the fact that my normally “pouffy” hair style took a back seat to barrettes. These made me look like I was fifteen again – with the addition of wrinkles! (Too lovely to photograph!)
Our first truck was a real, live cattle truck that could only be accessed by placing one’s foot on the bumper (which put my foot somewhere near my belly button). We then grasped the yellow rope hanging from the top rail, and pulled with all our might while trying NOT to yell, cry or otherwise indicate that this wasn’t the way we travel every day of our life! (Yes, it was occasionally necessary to have a husband push from behind.)
We all took pictures trying to capture the intensity of this “upward journey”. But I haven’t seen a single shot that accurately portrays what we experienced on the days we went up and down that mountain.
But I digress –
On Tuesday we traveled to the top of the mountain in order to present a program at one of the elementary schools. The view from their soccer (um, “futbool”) field would take your breath away. Truly incredible!
The children tumbled out of six or eight classrooms, eager to see the Americans. They sat in orderly fashion under an arbor serving as a breezeway in front of the small building.
We danced and sang and performed skits; all the while smiling and shaking hands with the beautiful students. At the conclusion of our “Spectacle Evangelism”, a young national worker tied everything together with a clear presentation of the Gospel. Almost thirty of the children prayed to accept Christ as Savior.
After spending time on the playground with them, we waved farewell and headed for Julia’s house and the Bible study.
The truck bumped along for quite a way then stopped beside a trail leading off to the right. We unloaded and followed the local pastor down the muddy, uneven path.
We came up to a small clearing and a low building. This was Julia’s house.
Our hostess stepped to the porch area and greeted each person with a broad smile. It began to drizzle again so we all crowded onto the covered breezeway connecting the two parts of Julia’s home.
To the right, we discovered Julia’s “kitchen”. A low, dark room with a corn grinder positioned in the center, flanked by an open fire for cooking and a simple cupboard.
Julia graciously invited us to take pictures as several team members tried to turn the handle on the grinder. Not an easy task!
Her toilet facilities were simply an area enclosed by tin just beyond the kitchen. A huge turkey resided temporarily in a pen connected to the outside kitchen wall.
A wall to the left of the breezeway marked a bedroom area. No windows and very narrow. A huge concrete cistern located in the center of her yard served the important role of collecting every precious drop of rain water.
The only electricity comes from a small generator and there is no running water.
We brought our own lunch, of course; and invited Julia and her granddaughter to join us. The heavens opened about that time and a deluge began that lasted almost an hour. Raindrops pounding on the tin roof made a deafening noise. Nothing to do but sit quietly; resting our eyes and fanning flies.
As the rain subsided, the pastor spoke to us through an interpreter. He told that his wife and Julia have hosted this Bible study every Tuesday for the past six months. (It means an hour’s walk up the mountain each week for the pastor’s wife.)
Unfortunately, we were rained out. But we made the most of it with a great time of prayer. And a devotional presented by Molly, our team leader.
Molly taught (through an interpreter) using the story of the wise man who built his house on the solid rock. She affirmed the truth that Julia’s house was not only built on the physical rock of the mountain. Her house is also established on the rock, Christ Jesus.
Julia nodded emphatically and whispered, “Amen! Amen!” We were suddenly standing on holy ground.
As I hugged her goodbye, I knew we most likely wouldn’t see one another again until Heaven. Climbing into the back of that truck took a lot of effort. Heading down the mountain demanded huge doses of courage.
But the real lesson of the day came to me as I got ready for our dinner.
Julia had welcomed us so warmly without any fretting, apologies or embarrassment. And I suddenly thought of all the gatherings I’ve avoided hosting because I didn’t have the right tea cup or appropriate napkins.
It’s a simple change. But one I’ll endeavor to make as soon as jet lag releases its grip. We may not have the finest cuisine or the loveliest china. But come on over! We’ll laugh together, find something to snack on, and share life as good friends should.
Julia would be proud!
Monday, June 4, 2012
The cup is full to overflowing and my joy knows no bounds!
When you wait and dream and hope about something; then it finally takes place and you're standing in the airport on reflection mode - well, it's just too much!
(Three sentences in a row ending with exclamation marks - that should give you a hint.)
Actually, I flew back in from El Salvador late Saturday night in order to preach at GGC on Sunday. So I've had a few hours to decompress. Everyone else landed in Miami around 6:30 tonight.
John will pick me up around 10 and we'll join the caravan heading back to Orlando for the rest of the team. (Thanks Greg Rodden and John Williams.)
Our team leaders, the Buccafurnis, both had a rough finish in El Salvador. Dominic became extremely ill the last 24 hours and Molly took a terrible fall. Probably a torn ACL. American Airlines graciously moved her to first class and Vicodin became her travel buddy.
Frank just called and said everyone is in good spirits - although exhausted!
But the wonderful stories - the children that were won to Christ - the work completed - the new friendships developed.......... It's just too much to tell all at once.
I mostly wanted to say thank you so very much for the prayers that went up on our behalf. You have part in every bit of fruit we gleaned for the Kingdom of God.
Can't wait to start the report!
I think I'll start with the story of our visit to "Julia's" house............