Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 134

Dear Friends, 

There are seasons in life when we make plans, knowing well that we are pre-committed to those of the One whose name is Love. This summer, the months of July and August, had been set aside to rest and be quiet here in our beautiful garden. Now into our garden and quiet space, there has come a pain.  We bear it with grace, hope, and confidence toward the One who sets all things in motion.

We received word four weeks ago that our youngest son, Stephen, was undergoing examinations. He's had long-standing back pain which we believed was the result of a rugby accident.  As exams unfolded, it was discovered that the source of the pain was, as he so aptly put it, "that sky-scraper-of-a-word: cancer."  It is solitary bone Plasmacytoma.  From all initial exams, it is in a single location and has not metastasized. 

Stephen was operated on at the University of Michigan Hospital to remove as much of the tumor as possible and to implant a titanium "cage" where the deteriorated 5th vertebra had been. The doctors also fused 5 vertebrae, from numbers T3 to T7.  Thanks to all of you who prayed for him!

He has been transferred to the Cleveland Clinic where his outpatient radiation therapy should start in the next weeks. Stephen began immediately to work hard with the physical therapist to regain the use of his legs.
He and Sarah, and little baby, Laila, have been, with lots of friends to help, sorting all of their furniture and belongings and moving to Phillip's home in Akron.  Philip (our third child) and his wife, Josie, live with their baby, Gabe, only thirty minutes from the Cleveland Clinic. Philip immediately began to make preparations in their large basement for an apartment for his brother. 

It's been a swirl of activity; adjustments, movings, laughter, and tears. Our goal has been for Stephen and his little family to be well-settled before his therapy begins.

I have asked Stephen to write to you in this "Journey", and then to begin to share the writing of future "Rebecca's Journeys" with me. His writing style is beautiful, and what Father is saying to him is even more so. 

I know you will be blessed.

Love, Rebecca

Hello everyone!  

When Mom asked me to write for Rebecca's Journey I really had no idea what I could contribute.  In all likelihood the answer will be: not much. These last weeks have been stressful.  That stress combined with a regiment of Oxycodone and muscle relaxants meant that I had a pretty big chunk of time in which my mental clarity was not what it could be.  Many of the early post-op days are blurred like a half-remembered dream. But I remember a few things clearly.  The most trite was the whole catheter process which was... memorable. The most important was waking up to see my Sarah curled up in a lazy boy next to the hospital bed. Her soft breathing a persistent reminder both of God's providence up until now, and the future for which I must to fight. 

I also remember asking my eldest brother, Matt, to "tilt the bed up a little, please." The exact words that my Mom has said to me so many times. That night I could not sleep and I found my mind wandering across the Atlantic, to Mom in her hospital bed. What an odd thing that as I stepped onto the first step in my stairway of suffering, there was a woman well acquainted with that path praying her heart out for me. The best gifts are usually not fully acknowledged until they have been used and overlooked for years. Seeing my parents endure their legion of trials had been a gift. It had given me a roadmap; and though I'm not out of the woods yet, I am far better off. 

I mentioned "God's providence" earlier. That is another name for "suffering" to those who long to know and love God. Aside from salvation itself, this ironic equation is probably the greatest gift that Jesus gave us.  Because of his suffering, our pain is not only shared by our Creator, it is also dignified and redeemed.  Even a catheter, as vulgar and embarrassing as it may be, is still more "dignified" than the cross. And if our "God of Gods, Light of Lights, very God of very Gods" deemed suffering worthy of His time, how much should we then rejoice?

These are my thoughts, my beliefs, and my constant prayer. 


From Paul: And mature beyond his years!

His e-mail address is: and their their website is:

An account for contributions toward his medical expenses has been set up in IOM. Please put a note on the check: SP Medical, addressed to
PO Box 2140
McComb, MS 39649

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 133

22 April, 2011 (Good Friday)

Dear Friends,

Our mornings have been cold, warming to delightfully, almost-hot, sunny days. However, this morning was the first time this year to be able to have my quiet time in the garden. It was delicious! The presence of the Lord, the birdsong, and morning light creeping across the trees and grass!

The centerpiece of our garden is a flowerbed with a star magnolia bush in the center. Each year I "try" to have pink tulips. Now you might think that's an easy thing to do, but for some reason, whether it be communication or just a mistake, I've had a hard time getting true pink tulips. Now, orange is one of my best colors; I wear it well. But it is my LEAST favorite color to have in the house or in the garden. Well, the tulips came up, began to pop their green heads, and as they opened... horror of horrors! They are ORANGE! At first, I literally felt ill when I looked at them.

Of course I immediately began to choose to thank the Lord for them. He instructs us to be thankful in, and for all things. ("...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. " Eph 5:29, and "Be joyful; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. " l Thes. 5: 16-18.) As I thanked Him it came to me that I could ask Him to change my heart. Now, I didn't want my heart changed, because I really didn't like orange tulips. But the tulips weren't going to change, so if I wanted to survive the spring, I had to change. So I thanked the Lord and asked Him to change my heart, even about orange tulips. For anyone who knows me well, you will know it is a miracle. I love my orange tulips! The sun on them is bright, bringing rejoicing and light to the garden. The pink and rose flowers on my deck won't be planted until later in May, and by then, the tulips will be gone and harmony will be throughout the garden.

And why do I tell you this story right now? To show you my heart, and more than that, His wonderful power. This Easter season the Savior lives. That same power that raised Him from the dead is at work in our lives--practically, daily changing us. I believe it's all been an exercise for me, good practice in reaching out for His power and receiving it even for myself. I would encourage you, if there are orange tulips in your life today, the Savior can change you and give you joy, even in the situation.

This holy week I've been reading the Easter story in all the different Gospels. I love Matthew because he gives us such detail. As I reread the end of it this morning, when Jesus first appeared to Mary, His first word to her was "Rejoice. " This Easter season, let the Savior's words ring out in your house: Rejoice! The miracle of the Risen Lord is working in our lives.

Rejoicing in His goodness,


P.S. Due to my bad planning, we find ourselves short a caregiver in May while Paul is in the States. I know the notice is very short, but would anyone of you inclined and able to come and help May 3-18? I feel sure Father's grace will cover us even in my failure. Bless you and rejoice!

Our next regular need for a caregiver (normally 3 months) begins in September.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 132

Dear Friends,

It's Sunday afternoon, my computer screen flickers and opens. We scroll up to Skype, click the mouse, and we're almost to Missouri. As the picture comes on, there is our son Matthew with Gabriella on his lap. "Grandma!" she exclaims. Later on in the week, the screen flickers again, comes on, and we're in Macedonia. I expect to see Susannah, but, No! The screen is filled with a curly red headed smiling face whose fingers are probing the screen.

I've had many people say they were sorry I was so far away from my grandchildren - many miles and, in some cases, the Atlantic Ocean in between. But how thankful I am for our technological age! I can meet them almost weekly through our computer.

I'm going to start this weekend with Gabriella, our oldest grandchild who is almost three. The Lord has given me the idea of telling her stories. They will be short of course. I'll begin with stories about her daddy when he was young. I know she will be especially delighted to discover that he was sometimes mischievous.

As we consider our relationships with our children and grandchildren, if you're like me, I begin to ask the Lord how I should pray for them, these precious treasures that He's given. I was reading in Matthew (The Gospel) and I came to the parable of the seeds. I realized it's really a parable about soil. I thought about the nurses and people who I pray for everyday. Then I was thrilled to realize I could use the same application for my grandchildren. Even from this early age, Father would give them good soil in their little hearts. When their parents, Paul and I, or a teacher at school, starts sowing good seed, I pray their heart's soil will be rich and ready to receive it, so that the seeds of the Kingdom will begin to grow up in their heart, and eventually bear good fruit.

Let us all take a fresh look at those for whom we pray. Father, prepare the soil of their hearts, break it up, let the rain of Your life fall, Father. Make the soil good, and Lord, by Your great mercy, sow seeds of Your love, of Your person, of Your life in their hearts.

Love to all,


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 131

Dear Friends,

Almost four weeks ago I fell in my room, sustaining a multiple fracture in my right femur. The paramedics came and took me to the hospital. There are so many swirling and divergent thoughts as I try to recall the incident for you. The primary memory is of excruciating pain.

The accident was on a Sunday and no surgeon was available. So on Monday they took me down for surgery, but the anesthesiologist discovered I had a temperature and said it was too risky to do the procedure. I waited yet another day. Each time I was moved, even with heavy medication, the pain was almost unbearable.

On Tuesday afternoon they were able to set the bone, putting in a metal plate, and I began the process of healing. I remained in the hospital for a total of nine days.

The day I was released was warm, with a hint of spring hidden in its corners. I sat in front of the hospital waiting for Paul to bring the van and just breathed the fresh air. There was an emerging sense of relief, almost joy and thankfulness. I really was returning home.

Never has my sunlit room been more precious - or my garden, still locked in winter's grip but with the edges of spring beginning to show.

The next day, Donatienne, my physical therapist, asked, "So, what is God saying to you about all this?" I had to admit to her that I did not know. I was only holding on to what I knew of His goodness. I held this question before Him, "Lord, what is Your heart in all of this?"

In my Bible reading I was in John. I had finished John 14, and couldn't wait until the following morning so I could begin John 15. For me John 15, 16, and 17 are like a rich, delightful treat. John 15 has always felt fresh to me, as if I had never read it before. "I am the real vine, My Father is the vine-dresser. He removes any of My branches which are not bearing fruit and He prunes the branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield." (J.B. Phillips Translation). You prune Your branches to bring forth more fruit! My mind flashed to the vineyards in France. When the vintner prunes in the autumn, he cuts the vines down until they are almost sticks.

As I was reading this passage, I was reminded of what happened just before this accident. Just a few weeks before I had had the joy of leading one of my nurses to Him. After our prayer time together, she just stood quietly, radiantly, and then said, " I've never felt like this before. I feel that something remarkable has happened to me". A wonderful transformation of a human life encountering the God of the universe!

After returning from the hospital I was able to share His love with two other nurses and pray with my physical therapist. Father, is this the kind of fruit You want to see in my life?

I look forward to the days ahead. After seasons of pruning we will see even greater fruitfulness.
He is the vine, we are the branches. I pray that He will give us increased faith to leave our lives in His hands and trust the vine-dresser to prune and care for us as He knows is best, for our sakes and for the Kingdom's - and that He will bring us to greater fruitfulness.

My love to all,


PS We have just received word that the young lady who was coming to take care of me in August and September has to stay on in England for her school and will be unable to be with me. Pray with us for the Lord to provide caregivers from August through the end of the year.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 130

Dear Friends,

This is Paul! Some of you may be aware that one week ago today Rebecca sustained a multiple fracture in her right femur. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and had surgery on Tuesday. Someone from our household has been here with her 24/7, and the hospital staff have been good. She will be released tomorrow. I have the support of the medical personnel for me to take her directly home, instead of the initial plan for her to go to a rehab center for 6 weeks. We'll be able to take good care of her at home. Susannah and Marta will arrive next Friday for a week.

Judy arrives in a few hours, so we'll have a full complement of care-givers. And I've canceled my trip to the States during this period.

I'm in the hospital with R now, and was taking dictation for a note to some friends. Her comments seemed so true and relevant that we've decided to put them here, in R's J.

Rebecca: Thank you for your wonderful faithfulness. Would you please pray for my strength. I feel a deep tiredness. It will be good to get home, and be able to rest properly.

There is a lovely detail that Father took care of, before we even knew we needed it. Jordon Johnson was here as my care-giver for three months last year, and left in November. Then we had a lovely gal from Sweden who came for 2 months. We didn't realize what Father had done in having Jordon come back so quickly. It was perfect for this situation. She knows everything about how to take care of me. We already have a lovely relationship. Right now in the condition I'm in, I could never have trained a new care-giver. Jordon has just slipped in and taken over my care.

Our weather earlier today was very cold, and this morning there was dense fog. I said to Jordan, in the winter in Belgium, when we have this dense fog, it is always followed by a beautiful sunny day.

The sun just now fell across my bed, brilliant rays, as always, have done their work and conquered the fog. So it is with God. When the fog of confusion and lack of understanding (This has been a week of extreme pain; there have been moments when I wondered what in the world Father was doing.) floods over my mind, He is always faithful to be the sun and burn through, bringing clarity and peace.

Paul again! The physical therapist just arrived, so I'll finish the note.

I've said to our children and friends that God's promise, all things working together into His plan for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, is not a post-facto promise to be tacked onto the end of a negative experience. It is the way we are to view life, anticipating the goodness of God in the land of the living. We've found that goodness is principally reveled in Peace that passes understanding, His very own Peace flowing from Him in us. And in joy, which is sourced in Him, not in our circumstances. That is the goodness of God in the land of the living!

Our love to all,
Paul and Rebecca

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rebecca's Journey - 129

Dear Friends,

It is another January, the beginning of a new year! As you know, I like to know what the Lord is saying to me for the coming year and, particularly, if there is something He would like me to do in the coming year. So I spend the month of January with my ears attuned, expecting to hear from Him.

The other evening Annie was sharing, remembering an experience that she had had during my recovery process after my accident. We were in England at that time, and I was in the middle of the surgeries for which we had gone to London. The success rate was very low and my chances of survival lower still. Paul and Annie were waiting together and Paul turned to Annie and said, "Whatever the result of today may be, one thing I know, God is good and He does all things well".

The morning after Annie and I had remembered this event, with Annie's words still ringing in my heart, I came to second Samuel 9:3 where David said: "Is there not still someone in the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?" As I read those words my heart leapt. Oh yes Lord, I want, this year, to show the kindness of God to all whom You bring into my life.

And so I leave these two thoughts with you for the coming year: "OUR GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD", and "TO WHOM MAY I SHOW THE KINDNESS OF GOD?"

As some of you know, none of our children were able to be with us for Christmas. Early in December in my quiet time I had a really good cry about that. Then I knew I must put that away and go on and see what God would do for us. Our holiday was greatly blessed in each moment. Our house was filled with good friends and the abundance of Father's provision and care. I trust now we are all ready to go into the New Year and to see what good things the Father has for us to do.

With my love to you all,


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rebecca's Journey - 128

Dear Friends,

I trust that those of you who are Americans had a blessed Thanksgiving Day yesterday. We celebrated here with folks from several nations: Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, England, Macedonia (Marta, who is half Macedonian), and Canada (Paul, of course.) There were 3 Americans around the table.

Several days ago I could see Jordan, my caregiver, outside my window on the terrace beating our rugs. Her face was determined and her jaw set. She certainly didn't look very joyful. She was in the process of beating one of our carpets. Two days ago we had a friend come visit. She was distraught, and cried and poured out her story. She had been away and when she returned, she discovered her house was full of fleas. Their dog had been in the kennel and the fleas were hungry. She was covered with bites and had spent the morning spraying. We gave her some lunch and prayed with her before she went back to the battle.

The next day I noticed our two little dogs were scratching furiously. Soon I said to Annie, "Would you please take these dogs to the vet and see what is wrong with them!"

To make a very long story short, we had been infested with fleas too! Thus Jordan was beating and spraying all the throw rugs. I felt so helpless. Paul was out of the country; Annie was upstairs, spraying the family room... all I could do was pray. Then I remembered something and called to Jordan, "I really don't want to interfere with just a 'spiritual band aid', but are you thanking the lord?" "For these fleas?!" I hesitated. "Yes! Remember in Ephesians 5:20 Paul says 'giving thanks always and for all things.'" "You're right, thank you for reminding me."

Our fleas are gone now. Our little dogs are happy and we have all been well reminded of a life lesson in our walk. When I say "Thank you lord" (even though sometimes through gritted teeth ;), I'm reaching into the heavenlies and pulling down grace. I'm acknowledging that He is the Lord of my life and nothing can come to me but that which He allows. He is good and wise and He loves me. I am remembering Ephesians 3:20 "All things work together into a pattern for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."

We're sending this out into your homes (for those of you in North America) around Thanksgiving. When I began writing it I didn't realize the timing. Let us be thankful for all things because He is good. Happy Thanksgiving!



Friday, November 05, 2010

Rebecca's Journey - 127

Dear Friends,

Psalm 46, verses 1 & 4:
"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn."
I wish you could have been with me this morning! I was bundled up a bit like an Eskimo. I wheeled my wheelchair, Bible on my tray, out onto the deck. It was about 7:45am. I said to Jordan, my care-giver, "make sure I am lined up on the path going down to the garden because I really can't see very well." It was semi-dark, just before dawn. I went down only to the first turning point (I have a marvelous brick pathway that snakes its way through two turning points and down to the lowest terrace. It was a lovely idea of my dear Paul and our very creative architect.) I usually go down to the bottom of the garden, but this morning, to save the girls coming back and forth in the dark, I stayed at the first level. I was cozy and warm with a cup of hot tea and my Bible turned to the Psalms. "Here I am Father, dear. I am waiting before You, filled with Thanksgiving and anxious to hear from You today". This is the way we begin our day here in the household. I know my beloved Paul is in his room at the window waiting on the Father. Each of the girls, even the one who is assigned today to care for my needs in between the beeper and breakfast has her Bible open and waiting before the Lord. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Recently I read Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong. In this book He describes much of his struggle against cancer. He says to always be sure to do those things that make you know you are alive. This morning was one of those times. As I sat in the cold with the sun peaking into the Eastern sky, I rejoiced in the life that Father restored to me.

Psalm 51:8 says, "Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice". Truly, Father has given such joy, and I have been finding Him anew in the Psalms. I have always read the Psalms from the perspective of David, but this week the Father turned the prism and I realized that it is all about Him. Our gracious, holy, faithful (I can go on and on) God, whose heart is above all else that we might walk in joy and rejoicing. Amen!



PS from Paul: I just returned from the US. During the trip I had opportunity to meet our newest grand-daughter, Laila, born a month ago to Stephen and Sarah -- what a joy. Now we're 4 for 4.

A prayer request: We have been greatly blessed by God's provision of caregivers through the years. We have caregivers all the way through to September of 2011, EXCEPT for the month of July. If you know anyone who might like to come for one month next summer, please let us know. It is hard work but lots of fun (Jordan says it is slave labor ;-) ).

I am so thankful that she is coming back to be with us again in January. Pray with us and we will keep you informed so that you can rejoice to see how beautifully Father provides.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Rebecca's Journey - 126

Dear Friends,

This week I was faced with the realization that I was not able to do what God was calling me to do. That is not a bad thing. When I can't do it, He wants to do it for me, in me, through me. I have been studying the Gospel of John lately, and in the 1st chapter he explains it clearly in verse 14 and 16. "... the only begotten of My Father, full of grace and truth...and of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." Grace is so much more than God's undeserved favor. It is God meeting me at the point of my need and doing through His power and provision what I cannot do myself. Oh what a wonder that I am able, in my weakness, to receive His grace upon grace, doing in me what I cannot do myself. What a wonderful perspective! What a wonderful reality! I am able to approach the future confident that what He calls me to do, He will do in me. When the time comes for the dinner party, with new Parliamentarians, I will have the strength and I will be able to be in that situation all that He desires me to be.

Just this week, I had a wonderful experience with a young man who has been my physical therapist this summer while my regular one was on vacation. I have had opportunity through the months to share who Jesus is, and what He has done and is doing in my life. Yesterday was the last day and I prayed I would be able to bring some conclusion. As he said goodbye, Philippe (not his real name) began to thank me and say how much he would miss being with me. Then I reminded him that GOD is real, and how much He loved him. He said goodbye and walked out of the room. Immediately, I realized I needed to speak again specifically about Jesus! But Philippe was gone; it was too late... Oh, I heard his voice again in the kitchen... a knock on the door. He came in. "Did I leave my jacket here?" "No, but I'm so glad that you came back. I forgot to tell you the most important part! When the day comes and you need to know the reality of God's love, go to Jesus. He is the one who promises to reveal the Father to us". He smiled, leaned down and kissed me. "Thank you, I will remember." As he turned and left the room I felt excited, because I knew he left with the Holy Spirit hovering over him and drawing him to the Father. I could leave him with the Lord, the One who is full of grace and truth, and He is able to bring that grace and truth to him.

It is a wonderful relief, and ever-good reminder, that the weight of doing is not on me, but as I rest in Him, and am willing, grace and truth come from Him and He brings grace upon grace in my life to touch the lives of others and do in me what I cannot do myself.

As you go into your autumn schedule rest in His unfailing grace. He will do in you what needs to be done. May you receive grace upon grace for all that He is calling you to do.



PS By the time you read this, Phillip, Josie, and their baby, Gabriel, should have arrived, followed a bit later by Susannah and her little Marta. What a joy to have them here.

Greetings! This is Paul. Just a quick request for prayer. Our present, delightful, care-giver, Jordan, from OK, will be departing Brussels on 16 November. Rebecca will need a care-giver from then to just before Christmas, when some of our children will arrive. And then the next slot, from early January to early April, is still open. Please join us as we hold this before the Father, seeking His plan and provision

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rebecca's Journey - 125

Dear Friends,

Just a short communication to you on this lovely summer day! As I was at the bottom of the garden this morning, it came to me that many of you will be heading off to vacation, or may already be gone. As I began in my worship (I always begin my time with Him with thanksgiving and praise), I started to sing how much I loved Him. He quickly reminded me "Huh! You only love me because I loved you first." And I stopped to think of His love for me, and I wept, and the reality washed over me of how loved I am. Can you believe it? I'm a twisted, able-to-do-nothing quadriplegic, and before the foundation of the world, He chose me (Eph. 1:4), He said "I'll take this one." And here I am today, precious in His sight and loved (Is. 43:4). I love those verses. Isn't He delightful? And He loves me. And He loves you. As you go on vacation, I felt one thing, that He wanted you to meditate on the fact that you are loved. Meditate on His love. And out of that, your love for Him will come. Bless you. May your summer be rich, full of barbecues, beaches, and a deep knowledge of the love of God.

All my love,


P.S. I know you will rejoice with us that He has answered our request for a caregiver. Jordan Johnston from Oklahoma will be coming at the end of August for three months. Father's faithfulness and Jordan's willingness is a joy and blessing.