Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Grand Day!

It's 8 PM so I have only a few hours to get a fourth post online for June, 2015.

And if you know me well, you know that I really only have about an hour and a half until the "shades start going down!"

While we were in Spain, many of the services and small groups didn't meet until 8 or 9 in the evening.  Even in the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, the culture runs much later into the night hours.

The retreat (our first teaching opportunity) began at 9:00 PM because so many of the ladies had to navigate train schedules.  That meant I didn't start teaching until 10:00 PM!!

Such a momentous occasion, that Kristin took a picture of me holding the microphone and a picture of the clock on her phone to verify it.  The caption reads, "Mom preaching at 10:15!  Miracles still happen!"

As I write, Gracie has her chin resting on my keyboard.  (And she's quite annoyed each time I  attempt to hit the delete button.)  Madison is sleeping contentedly in her bouncy seat on the dining room table; a fitting throne. The occasional coo escaping her perfect little lips.

Frank had a men's dinner meeting.  Nathan took Noah to the park.  Not sure which of those two will come home more tired!  And Meagan is grabbing a rare, quiet moment as a new mommie.

However, the real purpose of this post is rather grand!

You see, today is the day we get to celebrate, for the third time, the birth of one (drum roll please) Abigail Grace Schreck!  

Seems impossible that three years have passed since that ray of sunshine burst into our lives.  But they have.  And in about eight more days, Abby will become the big sister of (as she says it) "Zach-ah-why-ah Aave-wee!"  (Zachariah Avery, to the rest of us.)

June 30,......the birthday of my first grand daughter!  That's why this post is so "grand."  (Why yes!  As a matter of fact,  I did go for the obvious pun.  Try to remember that it's late as I write.)

We celebrated Abby last week because we knew her actual birthday would be very close to the baby's arrival.

As she prepared to open each gift, Abby would look around the room until she located the one who gave it.  Then she'd flash that trade-mark, million dollar smile and thank them sincerely.  There were a few teary eyes because of the genuine gratitude expressed by the precious three year old.

After all the gifts were duly squealed over, squeezed and squirreled away, Abby thrilled her adult guests by quoting the newest scripture Joy has taught Spencer and her.

She stepped to the middle of the room, drew a deep breath, gave another huge smile, swayed back and forth a couple times then recited perfectly the following:

" Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 
I Timothy 4:12  

I could have written it in her precious vernacular, but it seemed that would undermine the wonder of her ability to quote such a lengthy passage.  A grand accomplishment, indeed!

And I don't mind telling you, this is one grateful grandmother. Um, Noni! 

Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Madison Ryleigh

She's Here!

She made it almost full term and weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds 9 ounces!  Noah's baby sister, Madison Ryleigh Smith, a.k.a. the newest cousin of Spencer and Abby, has arrived safe and sound!

(Cue trumpets and angel choir with chorus of "HALLELUJAH!!")

This little angel looks very much like her own precious mom looked when she was put into my arms some 27 years ago.  We told Meagan and Nathan that out of five grandchildren, it was nice to finally have one that looks at least a wee bit like the Hawley side.

(Zachariah Schreck makes his appearance in three short weeks.  It's pretty certain that he will follow the DNA track of his siblings.  He'll look nothing at all like his mom, Joy!  Abby has mannerisms like her mom but those kids will always be recognized as their daddy's children.  Good thing John is handsome.)

Once Meagan had the all clear from her doctor, she started walking and dancing and cleaning.  Any and all activity that she had been restricted from for fear of it sending her into labor, became the very activity she activated.

She was ready to deliver that baby!

Last Monday night after family dinner, the contractions hit a steady three minutes apart.  Around 10:00 pm, she and Nathan headed for the hospital.  By 11:30 we got the call, "They've admitted Meagan.  Madi is definitely on her way."

John stayed with Spencer and Abby.  One of our trusted teens from church came to stay with Noah.  And off to the hospital we went to pray and wait in the designated waiting area.

Being the organizer she is, Kristin brought snacks and drinks.  She also urged us all to bring a blanket and pillow.  Joy brought her experience.  She held Meagan's hand and cheered compassionately.  We were ready for the long night of labor to commence.

But Meagan was blessed with a relatively short labor when Noah was born.  She had every expectation that the same would happen with Madi - and it did.

A little after 2 AM I wandered back over near the labor room.

A nurse came running out, "She's ready to deliver!"

The doctor who was sauntering in that direction was startled, "She's delivering now?!"

"Yes!" was the curt response.  "Right now!"

They both sprinted into the room.

I hurried back to the waiting area and reported the information I'd gleaned through my eaves-dropping. 

And twenty-four minutes later, we heard the first precious cry!

I once read this lovely quote by Carl Sandburg, "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on!"

My heart says AMEN to that!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Frank knows hospitals like an eagle knows flight!

He's totally comfortable in any hospital.  Any where.  Any time.

Me?  Not so much!

He trained and worked in a regional hospital while we lived in Asheville, NC.  Up until recently, my only experience with hospitals was limited to emergency rooms, trauma and the labor/delivery area.  All experiences with more than just a little tension involved.

That has had to change.

Not only do we have numerous church members needing hospital care right now.  We also have two daughters pregnant at the same time.  With due dates differing by only a few days.  With one on bed rest and the other caring for TWO toddlers.  It has had to change.

Suddenly, I'm spending a LOT of time at doctor's offices, talking with nurses, watching monitors, listening to beepers, offering ice chips, even pushing the occasional wheel chair.

Meagan has gone into labor twice (that required hospital intervention.)  She has become so accustomed to the labor pains that she now knows the drill for trying to stop them at home.  LARGE amounts of water, in a warm bath, resting on her side, deep breathing.

She and Nathan have it down to a science.

I've spent most of those moments walking around; quietly trying to help entertain Noah and whispering prayers.

Saturday marked her thirty-sixth week.  Madison Ryleigh is now totally viable and the doctor has no intention of stopping labor next time the contractions again reach three minutes.  (Meagan was a little disappointed that during church Sunday the contractions were only six minutes apart.  Oh, the new normal!)

We've all been focused on Meagan's delivery which has seemed eminent at any moment for the past six weeks.

Last night, the tables turned!

Joy (due July 15th) had been incredibly uncomfortable all day long.  Lots of nausea.  Pressure.  Lots and lots of pressure.  She had seen the doctor the day before and he gave the all clear.  But there was absolutely NO relief for her.

Around 8 PM, he said for her to go to the hospital as a precaution.  You see, Spencer and Abby both liked where they were and  preferred to NOT to be born by regular means.  So, the doctor went in after them.  Joy gave birth via cesarean section.  That means Zachariah will need to be a C-Section birth as well.

When that's the case, the little incubator mommie can't be allowed go into labor as it will cause problems for the little incubating baby.

The Daddy (John) is currently in Miami on a missions trip with students from our church.  They are working long hours in the heat and gathering with other students from all over FL for services in the evenings.  While planning this trip in January, we thought it perfectly okay for him to lead the team as Joy would be six weeks from her due date.


Aunt Kristin and Uncle Cody jumped into action to cover Spencer and Abby.  Noni (who could do without hospitals) and Poppa (who could minister in hospitals every day) loaded up the mommie we didn't expect to take to the hospital and took her to the hospital rather quickly.  In a driving rain, just for added effect!

Fortunately, they were able to stop her contractions with the help of two massive bags of fluids and an IV - which the nurses kept calling her "Date" for the evening.  (Humor.  Always good medicine!)

We finally stumbled home around 1 AM and got Joy settled in bed.  She made the call that John (who was ready to start the four-hour drive from Miami) should stay put and finish the trip with the students and other leaders.

There's nothing whimpy about my girls!

It's true.  I would be perfectly content to never visit a hospital again.

But it's also true that I'm incredibly grateful.  Grateful for the wonderful professionals working in hospitals everyday to give my girls, my church members, my extended family and friends the care they so desperately need in times of crisis.

In just a few minutes, I'll get into my car and drive to a hospital in Orlando to visit a dear church member.  Their situation is not pleasant.  But once again, it's the medical professionals who are making it bearable. 

So as Noah would say, "TANKS!"  (Thanks for ALL you do for the communities you serve!)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Grateful Heart!

Jet Lag is no joking matter!  (In fact, I first typed "Jeg Lat." Sigh!)

No joking matter, but worth every bit of weariness to have experienced the past two months.  My heart is full to overflowing with gratitude! 

If I were a mathematical sort, I would calculate the number of miles I've traveled in just under sixty days:
  • Florida to Israel!  
  • Florida to NC!  
  • Florida to Spain!  
As Mom would say (in a thick southern accent), "Hit's a right fuhr piece!" 

Now I know why I kept praying "Lord, increase my capacity to absorb all I'm experiencing!"  I needed Divine assistance!

Israel was truly the dream trip of a lifetime!  And the fact that our church family blessed us with such an adventure......well, that journey just can't be equaled!

Frank and I talk about it with a sense of awe and extreme gratitude.  We're still sorting through pictures and experiences and emails from our fellow travelers.

The next two trips were mainly ministry.  While in NC, I preached three times in 24 hours.  Spain became a new record for me -  I preached, taught or coached more than 12 times in 8 days.

The last night we were in Barcelona, they sent Molly, Kristin and I to three different community groups scattered around the area.  Kristin with the young ladies group.  Molly with a home Bible study.  I met with the couples group.  We had already met with the church leadership team in the morning and the women leaders for lunch.

By the time we cleared airport security early Thursday morning, we could say with confidence that we had truly left it ALL on the field!

But oh, the adventures of these weeks!  The sights!  The new friends!

We discovered a long lost "daughter" in Israel.  As well as a "son" who gave Frank a farewell hug of epic proportions.

We found a "brother,"  "sister" and "nephew" in Spain.  The Dowson family (who hosted our team) instantly became lifetime friends!   By the middle of our first meal, we all knew the Lord had brought us together for the blessing of a rich connection!  So much laughter!  So many genuine hugs!

Then there was time with the beautiful young couple pastoring International Church of Barcelona.  We had a "family" connection with them during their itineration three years ago.  John and Brandi Carrano are amazing trail-blazers! 

(You should check out the website for their awesome church: icbspain.org  Your heart will experience joy and challenge all at the same time.)

So many stories to share with you in the coming days.  I'm trying to sort them now.  But it felt important to share this thought.

My recent travels have convinced me of a few things:
  • God is still very much at work all over the world! 
  • If we look, we will find Him!
  • Heart connections are powerful!
  • Everyone has something to share with someone!
  • Dreams do come about!
  • Miracles are happening all around us - just look!
May your summer be filled with great moments and experiences that cause you to overflow with gratitude!