Monday, June 22, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 115

It's again the season of the "changing of the guard" here. Most of my caregivers of late come from North America. They come on tourist visas and are able to stay three months. Stacey Maholm, my most recent precious angel, had come to me from Central Ohio. She has been a gift, a great source of strength, and become a great friend, as most of these young women do. Can you imagine how blessed I have been with them?

Someone in my situation must have constant daily care, moment by moment, from 7:00am to 10:00pm at night, then a midnight turn. These care-givers are companions, secretaries, nurses... essentially my hands and feet. We cry and laugh together. How can I ever say the privilege it has been for me to be able to sow into these lives? I say young ladies, and then I think of Mike and Sue Shirley. Mike is a retired Methodist minister who led large, successful churches for years. I'll never forget the feeling I had when Mike would kneel at my feet to change my shoes. I felt so humbled and wanted to say, please let me change your shoes, but I wasn't able. Since he was my hands and feet, he had to do the work.

Stacey was a manager of successful business. How did she get to me? The hand and providence of God bringing two lives together for a momentary touch and blessing to both.

Now Anna Kopechek is here. Anna has been a care-giver here before. When she was leaving the last time, her flight was overbooked and they offered a free ticket to someone who would take the next flight. Anna quickly volunteered and was soon planning her second trip with her free ticket. Anna will be here for the next three months. In the beginning after my return home after 18 months in the hospital, I was anxious about who would help with my care. But, through these years, I have become very confident in Father's grace and abundance in this area.

The events of this past spring have been exciting. We began in May with our dear Susannah's wedding in Macedonia. Many of you know I made the journey and, with your prayers, did so with great strength and joy. What a marvelous occasion! Today my physical therapist said, "Wow, we are back to normal. You are up to full speed", as she worked me hard and left me exhausted at the end of the session.

I've been reading these days in Philippians. The pages are marked and underlined from the years that I have lived in these chapters.

  • Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it."
  • Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus."
  • Philippians 2:13, "It is God that works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." This has been one of the verses upon which I have built my life. I've counted on God to make me both willing and able to do His purpose.
  • Philippians 3:10, "That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death." Surely, another life verse! Paul and I, forty years ago, discovered that the secret of all life is in knowing Him. J.B. Phillips says "that I might discover the wonders of His personality".
  • Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
  • Philippians 4:19, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

In these verses we begin with the revelation that He will complete in us what needs to be done and we end with Him supplying ALL that we need. Wow! Philippians has been called one of the jewels of the New Testament. As I live in it again during these days of transition, I find a quiet resting place for my soul. A place of faith, being able to poise myself toward the future with confidence that the One who calls me is working His good purpose in me.

Much love, in Him,


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 114

"That our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style." (Psalm 144:12)

Vlatko and Susannah's wedding ceremony had started at the high altar of the Orthodox Cathedral (see pics below). Then they moved to the lower altar. Much to our surprise and joy we were now looking into the faces of the bride and groom. Susannah caught my eye for a moment. We both got teary. I looked away. I knew she did not want to cry on this, her wedding day. It was a poignant moment--one I shall never forget. The ceremony continued. It was filled with beautiful symbolism and power. Just the day before, in my quiet time, the Lord had given me Psalm 144:12, "That our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style." Susannah stood that afternoon in her gown, straight and beautiful, as a pillar, as a princess of the palace, with Vlatko beside her as a leader among men and a man after the Lord's own heart! I knew he would love and care for her. O Lord, You have been faithful to our children.

Her wedding day, for me, had such a sense of destiny. She had come to Macedonia nearly two years ago, feeling called to this nation in the Balkans. Then, her relationship with Vlatko developed and now this day had arrived. Father, we stand on the threshold of all that You will unfold in these two lives in this nation.

We went from the ceremony to the dinner at the top of the hill overlooking Skopje. It was an 8th-century monastery, now with a restaurant below it and ample room for dancing and celebration. Vlatko and Susannah greeted and had photos taken with each of the 550 guests. She admitted later that at first the proposition seemed overwhelming, but as the evening unfolded, she began to have the sense of the privilege it was to be Vlatko's wife and serve the people of Macedonia.

After the evening's events, Susannah and Vlatko went away for some days together, while Paul and I, with a group of friends, went for a couple of days to Lake Ohrid--a beautiful little jewel two hours from Skopje. We shared together and reflected on the past days. We were on our way back from Lake Ohrid when the next part of our adventure unfolded.

By the Side of the Road...

It was a loud crash! I looked at Paul and he glanced at me, "Oh dear, Baby, what was that!?" We were driving on a narrow, winding, two-lane road between Lake Ohrid and Skopje. As we passed an old, barely moving truck, we drove over what we thought was a piece of rubber tire. Immediately we heard the clang! Paul then received a call on his mobile phone from David, who was driving behind us. "You better find a place to pull over pretty quickly--you are pouring gasoline!" As we pulled off onto the gravel, the Lord spoke to me, "I love you and I'm in control". The rest of the day was a wonderful adventure. During the long wait by the side of the road, we were together with that overarching sense of His goodness and care. We laughed, took photos, and held an umbrella to keep me out of the sun. After Paul called for a tow truck he picked me some wildflowers. We were able to reach Vlatko, and he sent an ambulance to take me on to Skopje. Paul and others came back in a taxi. What an unforgettable adventure!

I give the above story as an example of the Lord putting us into situations that stretch us beyond our comfort zone. As I consider it, however, I realize that our whole trip to Macedonia was that for me. I remember when Susannah first discussed that the wedding would have to be in Skopje because of Vlatko's place in the government. I realized that day that even though it seemed impossible, I would have to go. I could not miss our Susannah's wedding! The Lord created a situation in which I would have to leave my quiet home, going far beyond what I thought was possible. Many of you prayed, we had a wonderful team to enable us, and the Lord was strong on our behalf.

As I share these thoughts of our adventure, I pray that when Father calls you to step out of your own comfort zone, your "garden", you'll be able to trust Him. The Lord will stretch us if we allow Him. I believe in these days, He is calling us to reach out in faith and confidence toward Him to enable us to do tomorrow what we could never have done yesterday.

With love,