Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 53 A

Dear Friends,

Changing seasons! Autumn is here; the leaves are turning their golds and rusts and browns; temperatures are cool and the sky is grey. Judy departs tomorrow morning. Then Stephen leaves Thursday. Our season with him at home is complete. (I'm trying to save my tears until after his departure.)

Thank you for praying for Rebecca. In the last week she has begun to feel better again. We're grateful for increasing strength and movement, and ability to be up longer in her wheelchair once more.

Rebecca: "'Who would want to be a singleton? Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone.' This is a quote from Lance Armstrong's book, 'Every Second Counts'. I just finished it, and was encouraged by it. I felt he had good things to say about working in a team.

"Here at home we are beginning to experience 'the changing of the guard'. These are always topsy-turvy, upside down times, when everyone is finding their new place, and one another in new ways.

"Stephen is going back to the States where he'll be living with Susannah and Phillip. My dear sister, Judy, will be going home for her son's wedding. As you know, the Lord has graciously filled their slots.

"For the team here to function, we need someone whose primary responsibility is my care. Kristina is filling that place beautifully. You'll remember that Josie filled it before her. Judy has been the cook and head laundry lady. Paul's cousin, Diane, arrived today from Toronto, and will be here for 2 1/2 weeks. Annie will be arriving in a few days, and Annie and Diane will cover for Judy. My dear Paul will be traveling quite a bit this month.

"If we have three people, plus Paul, we're well covered. You've heard from Monique, who comes on Mondays. Laura Christensen comes many Thursdays. This allows for a day off for those who are full-time care-givers.

"You know that Robert and Tracey Vaughan left last week. (My we do miss them!) Wade and Karen Channell have moved into the same house. Wade is helping Paul in many ways, and Karen will help with my care as she is able. (She is a mother of two lovely teenage girls.) Isn't the Lord amazing?

"It is about being a part of a team! We often gather in the morning and pray together, committing the day, and the flow of people who will come, to Him. The Lord has spoken to me so richly from John 15. We pray each day that as He binds us together in love for one another, His joy would over flow so that love and joy would be the expressions of our household. It is a wonderful thing to see the team working, to see each one extending themselves for others, just to lift the load.

"This morning I was sharing some of these thoughts with Judy. She reminded me that we first learned to be a part of a team at home with our Mother. She was a working Mom who had taken over the family businesses after our Father's death. Judy and I knew that doing our part to help lift the load for Mom was part of what it meant to be in our family. Early on, Paul and I realized that our children could resent the demands on our life, and feel excluded by them, so we carefully included the children in our activities. They learned early that when guests came, the children played an important part by serving and helping us receive, entertain, and bless our visitors. They learned that everything that happened in our home was a team effort. We belonged to one another, working together to accomplish the task of pleasing the Lord.

"Who would want to be a singleton' with such prospects. Who indeed?"

Thanks for being part of the team through your prayers.

Love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Friday, September 10, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 52

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Genval! These last days have been warm and sunny - very summer like. I depart tomorrow, but want to get a note to you before I leave.

During the last 3 weeks Rebecca has experienced a downturn in her energy and endurance, as well as increased limitation in the use of her left hand. This is the first significant downturn in over a year. It has been, and is challenging, and we are grateful for your prayers.

Margaret and Andrew Howell, long-standing friends (several decades) from Paris, have been here for nearly 2 weeks and have made a huge contribution during their stay. It has been delightful to have them here. Many thanks, M&A.

Kristina arrives in a few hours. We're all looking forward to meeting her. Her coming is certainly an expression of the Lord's faithfulness.

In October we'll again see an answer to prayer: Annie has made the decision to leave her employment in France and move here to be a permanent member of the team who care for Rebecca. We are deeply grateful to her, and to the Lord for His faithfulness in directing Annie in this. Please keep her in prayer as she processes all that is necessary for this transition.

From Rebecca: "'The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.' (Isa. 50:4)

"I wanted to share with you today about the most important part of my day. In our earlier years the Lord taught us that to walk with Him, to become His 'friend', we had to spend time with Him every day. In all the different seasons of our lives we have carved out early morning hours to spend in prayer and in the Scriptures. Our 'methods' have changed through the years as we have changed and grown. There have been times of prayer lists, intense Bible study, seasons of journaling, etc. Early on I realized that when I came into my quiet time I would lay my cares and worries at the door outside, go into the Lord's presence, and, then, when I was finished, pick up the load again and carry it the rest of the day. What a joy it was when I realized that I could bring them into Him and He would lift and carry them. I could leave them with Him and walk free through my day. He wanted me to process my concerns with Him and then give them to Him.

"For many years I have journaled every morning. Because I am a writer that method of expression suited me. We have several shelves full of old journals in Paul's study - precious treasures reflecting the Lord's love and revelation!

"After my accident, one of my biggest adjustments was to have my quiet time when I could no longer journal freely. For years I have desired to learn to be more quiet in His presence, and better learn to hear His voice. One day when I was crying out to Him, trying to find Him without my pen in hand, I realized I could find Him in the quietness. I don't have the on-going daily chronicle that I treasured for so many years. But how can I tell you the rich treasure I'm discovering in the quietness of His presence, listening to His voice day by day.

"One further thought that is always precious to me: Yesterday's 'manna' doesn't meet my need for today. Isaiah says: 'He wakens me morning by morning' Each day He gives fresh bread. And that bread sustains me through the day. He is the Bread. He is the Manna!"

Love and thanks from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 51

Greetings Friends!

There is a friend who comes every Monday morning to help care for Rebecca. Monique is originally from Mauritius, but has lived in Belgium many years and is married to a Brit. Several weeks ago Rebecca asked Monique if she would like to say something to those of you who get Rebecca's Journey. She said she would, so the following is from Monique:

"It takes a high dose of humility to agree to write a contribution to 'Rebecca's Journey'. I often wonder, after having read either Paul's or Rebecca's notes, what I could add, but I am writing as promised.

"It's been over a year now since I met the Petries for the first time after having read about Rebecca's accident. I felt an urge to contact them and offer whatever help I could give a few hours a week.

"How do you live with constant head pain, in fact so strong that it is sheer agony whenever the comb, or even a gentle finger, touches your scalp on the right side of your head and down to your ear? How do you cope with paralysis when you've been a most active servant of the Lord? How do you come to terms with the fact that you depend totally on other people for help with every aspect of the everyday things we take for granted, like brushing your teeth, getting washed, dressed, turning over to avoid bed sores? And when the pain reaches its peak, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, and it does to the point of crying, how deep is your struggle?

"And how do you react when your body has escaped your control, when you can't tell whether it is functioning as it should on a daily basis? I asked her the question once and she answered: 'I have learnt to shed layer after layer, a bit like the skins of an onion.'

"I think I know the answer: Our Lord is actually using His beloved daughter, Rebecca, for His glory. He is at work in her and through her. I have seen the love which shines out of her that leaves me, and the many other people who are in touch with her, in no doubt.

"I'm sure those who receive a handwritten note from her fully appreciate everything she puts in it: love, words of comfort, encouragement, congratulations. I watched her writing one recently, when she finally could sum up enough energy and courage to do it - the sheer effort of writing (which is quite an organization in itself, as it takes 2 flat cushions, 1 writing support cushion, an anti-slip sheet, her specially designed pen, etc.). She was so physically drained after the effort that she had to lie still for some time.

"I am the richer from my contact with Rebecca, and am still in the process of learning from her. It's hard to describe the life force that drives her. She is a tower of strength for the whole family and those who evolve around her. You can cry with her when the pain gets too strong, but most of the time she is ready to laugh, to cheer others up, to listen, and to enjoy whatever good thing the Lord sends her way.

"Never in the course of this year have I seen her indulging in self pity. Rebecca is always asking everybody (including her nurses) about themselves, and is ready to sympathize when she feels one of them is going through a tough patch or to rejoice with those who share their joy with her.

"If you can't find something in the house, the best person to ask is... Rebecca. She knows exactly where the little blue bottle with a red label can be found on the first shelf on the left in a particular cupboard. And if you haven't spotted it the first time, you had better look carefully (usually the thing is staring you in the face) because the little blue bottle is exactly where she says it is. How she knows beats me. The same goes for almost every item in every room on any floor of the house.

"And please don't think that she just lets herself go because she is bedridden. If you have ever visited her, you would know what I am talking about. You should know that Rebecca prepared herself to welcome you and made efforts to look her best for you. This is a painstaking process of applying make up (including all the necessary cosmetics - just give her left arm a gentle lift to help her reach the upper right side of her face). For me, who makes a real mess whenever I try to use mascara, it's a real wonder watching her apply the stuff on her eyelashes neatly. Once the lipstick is on, she's ready to proclaim: "Don't I look dazzling now!" Who can compete with that? Not me, anyway.

"I think this sums it up: She's dazzling, even with tears swelling in her eyes, dazzling with the light of Our Lord that shines through her. She is a blessing to all those who get to know her. Thanks, darling Rebecca!"

And thanks, Dear Monique!

For prayer: The last several weeks Rebecca has had a down-turn physically: substantially less energy, limited ability to be up in her chair, increased head pain, and diminished movement. We'd appreciate your prayers.

And we have a care giver coming to help this autumn from 9 September to 17 December. Kristina Dalsgard is a young woman from the Faeroe Islands (part of Denmark and located in the North Atlantic). Like Josie, Kristina comes to us through friends in Oslo. We are grateful to the Lord, to her, and to those in Norway who so kindly helped in this process.

Our thanks for your prayers, and our love to and prayers for you all,