Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 46 A

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Genial! We have the windows open in Rebecca's room. In the background is the happy sound of children in the school playground below our home.

Our dear friend Barbara Ostrander has been here for 10 days - what a strength and help. She leaves tomorrow. Stephen left early this morning for his senior class trip. Annie will be back Friday for several days. We're enjoying sunny weather.

From Rebecca: " 'No eye has seen, nor ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.' (I Cor. 2: 9-10)

Almost two weeks ago Josie's nine months with us were finished. She has returned to Sweden and is working this summer before beginning university in the autumn. When she came to us we were so blessed because someone was coming to help. How could we have known the good things God had planned? She has been such a gift to us in every way, and will be a life-long friend.

Stephen said last evening, 'I miss Josie!' We all do. Surely her coming and sharing her life with us was an example of the Scripture above, something we would never have imagined.

I've talked so often about the life-changing events that are thrust upon us, that shape who we are and change us forever. This week I've been meditating on the Scripture I quoted above from I Cor. I've always thought of it as being related to eternity. But I'm more and more convinced that it is for us now as well.

It is the Father's good pleasure to bless us with things, events, and people which will form and change our lives, and bless us beyond what we could have conceived.

We're sitting right now in my new room, looking out over my beautiful garden with its birds and flowers. I so wish all of you could see it! It is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined! My dear Paul saw it in his mind and dreamed it for me. He made it a reality, and how blessed I am.

In 10 days Stephen will graduate from secondary school. How can we tell you what a joy this child has been to us? These last 32 months he has cared for me, and served me in a way beyond what I could have imagined.

A little over 18 years ago we discovered I was pregnant. At 40 this was not what I had planned. I was upset and dismayed. This was followed by a complicated and difficult pregnancy, during which time, of course, I changed my mind, and was looking forward to the baby's arrival. When he was only a few weeks old I held him in my arms with the delight a mother has. The Lord spoke to me, 'I've chased you down to bless you.'

Let's pray today that we will not be running from the very things that Father's preparing to be our greatest blessing. How amazing is His love and His kindness toward us."

Paul again: We continue to be so grateful for your faithfulness in prayer. Please continue to pray with us for the Lord's wisdom and plan for those who will help care for Rebecca during this next season.

Our love to all,

Paul & Rebecca

Friday, May 07, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 45

Dear Friends,

Rebecca's electronic wheel chair arrived last week. What an addition it's making to her mobility. She is able to be up in it for three hours at a stretch, move about the house, and go outside into her garden.

Also last week, Judy returned. She'll be here until the end of June. Josie's time has almost come to an end. She returns to Sweden next week after being here nearly 10 months. She's been an enormous gift and we'll miss her greatly.

Our daughter Susannah will be here for the month of July. At the end of August Stephen moves back to the US. He'll take a "gap year" and live with Susannah and Phillip in Cleveland before starting university in 2005. This will be quite a change for us on a number of levels. He and Josie have been the ones responsible for turning Rebecca every night at midnight. He has been such a servant in so many ways. We'll miss him greatly. We're expectant to see how the Lord will arrange this next season of care for Rebecca.

From Rebecca: "Recently I was talking with a friend who was in despair. After hanging up the phone I asked Josie to get a pen & paper to take dictation. I wrote: 'My hopes have run out through the sieve of my discouragement and disappointment.' Even though this well expressed my friend's feelings, I knew something was amiss in the sentiment. It set me on a quest. What is hope?

I turned to Webster's Dictionary and found: 'Hope is the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good.' I remembered in Romans 5, beginning in verse 2: 'And we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.'

As I meditated on this it seemed that suffering, rather than causing our hope to disappear, can actually produce hope. Could there be 2 different kinds of hope: a natural hope, and a spiritual hope? Through trials we often come to the end of our natural hopes, even hopes that are good. In the beginning this may result in disappointment, discouragement, and even despair. But as we hold on to the Lord, we persevere. I find that this perseverance works character in me. And, almost without realizing it, a new hope is born within my soul. It is Christ Himself, His life and His love 'being poured out in my heart'.

For many of us, we have come through, or are in the midst of, situations in which our natural hope is being tested, and even drained away. But, oh, as we persevere, what a great treasure it is to have fresh hope that will never disappoint us, rooted in Father's love itself.

If you haven't read that first part of Romans 5 lately, I suggest you go back for yourself, and see what riches He has for you there."

As always, our deepest thanks for continuing in prayer for us!

Our love,

Paul and Rebecca