Wednesday, February 19, 2014

God's Not Dead

I am so excited to tell you about something that a group of us having really been working on and praying about since January.  Have you heard about OR seen the trailer to the movie God's Not Dead?  Well, if you haven't check it out here! OR here is a brief synopsis of the movie:

….present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.

 If you have heard about it or have seen the trailer, you can share in our excitement when I tell you it is coming to Oskaloosa, March 21!!   We are trying to get the word out to our community and surrounding communities to come watch this movie.  I spent my morning traveling to four towns hanging up flyers, talking to churches and encouraging them to bring their congregations and youth groups.  So now it's my turn to encourage all of you to go! Help us send a message to Hollywood, along with Christians all over the United States, that a Christian movie can be successful.  As each one of us has to take a stand for our faith at some point in our lives, hopefully this movie will give those in our community a desire to know what they believe and be willing to take a stand in their Christian faith.   Our prayers are that this movie will do huge things for our communities, congregations, and even our own hearts.  So grab your spouse, family, friend, small group and whoever else you can think of and head to the movies!  It is recommended that tickets at Penn Centre Theatre for a group be purchased in advance, as well as for individuals if you want to guarantee your spot on opening weekend.  You can do that in person during their normal business hours or online for $1 more per ticket at http://www.fridleytheatres.com/oskaloosa.html.  We truly appreciate Penn Centre Theatre’s willingness to show this movie in our community.  If you have any questions, please call Central Reformed Church at 641-673-3843 and ask for Andy or Cody, or you can email us at techteamcentral@gmail.com.  Or fell free to leave me a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I have an answer!

Please keep this movie and those it will reach in your prayers.  We are so excited for this and can’t wait to see how God will use this to change the lives within our church and community.  We hope you can join us.





45 Years

On February 14, Don and Glenda celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.  That is a huge milestone these days - so us kids took on honoring their special occasion. All the kids (Don & Glenda's five kids) each had a part to make the day extra special. 


A chalkboard telling of their 45 years together.


This picture makes me smile. We had told them to kiss and none of us were able to take the picture because they kissed so fast.  We told them to do it again, but longer - Don's response, "I don't want to kiss forever!"  Jon must be more like his Mom!!


Our nephew Andrew wore Don's suit while our niece Megan wore Glenda's wedding dress.  Just a little info - Glenda only paid a little over $80 for her dress and vale.  Also when they had the suit pressed - they found a nickel in the pocket.


No anniversary celebration is complete without feeding each other the cake.  My sister in law Shawna and I did the cake.  We tried our best to recreate their original one.


A game of Sibling Squabble (family feud).  It was brothers vs. sisters in who knew more about their parent's marriage.  This was quite comical (and informational)!


The grandkids singing - "Jesus Loves Me", "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Awesome God."  The siblings and spouses also sang a song - "Sweet Caroline" - changed to "Sweet 45!"


It just wouldn't be complete without pop cans tied to the back of the truck!  I would like to know how far they drove before they heard/noticed it!


I can only speak for myself, but they day was filled with so much love, laughter, emotion and just time to honor family.  The slideshow that Jon's sisters made was very touching. One of my favorite moments of the day was when Don and Glenda each read one of the love letters that they had written to each other while they were dating.  Glenda to Don and Don to Glenda.  Some of it was funny, while other parts were truly heartfelt. I also enjoyed listening to them share some of their memories from the last 45 years - even hearing some of their thoughts on how they wished they would have done some things differently.  They have truly been an example to all of us on what's it like to have a God-centered marriage.  Over the last 45 years times weren't always easy, fun or even good, but in ALL things they will both say, "God is good all the time!" 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Special Valentine's Day

So I know what you all are thinking - Jon planned something so romantic.  Well as much as I would like to say that is true - it isn't.  In fact I spent half the day at a tax appointment!  If that isn't romantic I don't know what is!  However, it was our evening that made the day so special.  We spent it with a bunch of sixth graders!  TJ's good friend Joel had another dance in memory of TJ.  I had gotten a text from his mom earlier in January asking if they could do it again.  Who am I to say no when TJ's classmates are wanting to do this.  I guess I should rewind just a little bit.  You see Joel's birthday is February 6 - yes the same day TJ had his first MRI.  So, instead of Joel having a regular birthday party celebrating himself - he instead he joins the class together and honors the memory of his good friend.  Joel is such a great kid!  It's actually a bittersweet kind of thing.  It is a party that TJ would have had an absolute ball at, but in all honesty, I wonder if this party would ever have been planned had TJ still been here.

We arrived a little late and the boys jumped in on the dancing right away.  (Although a little later I found Charlie with what looked like tears in his eyes - he was afraid that he was going to embarrass himself.  I know, Charlie?  I had a little chat and he quickly changed his mind and danced the night away).  We enjoyed TJ's favorite supper - Stromboli, chips and lime green punch.  This year they had 3 Musketeer's on the tables.  They took a break from dancing to eat and that's when another one of TJ's good friend's mom got up to talk.  Her words melted my heart and brought me to tears (I'll share more about this at a later time).  After more time of dancing it was time for the party to come to a close.  We went outside for a balloon release.  They had Jon, the boys and I stand in the middle of the circle (similar to last year) with the sixth grade class and parents around us.  We were given six lime green balloons and then Joel began to talk.  He tried to talk and broke down - I quickly grabbed him from the outer circle and brought him in with us - I held him while he spoke.  My heart was broken - yet so moved by the love he had for his friend.  Although it is very hard to see those kids and think about all the "what-if's" - I'm so thankful they still haven't forgotten about TJ and still want us to be a part of their lives!  Thank you just doesn't seem like enough!



The new shirts they made this year.  The front has TJ's favorite Bible verse.




The 6th grade class (plus Anthony, Will and Charlie)!


Monday, February 10, 2014

A Special Date


I had the honor of taking this amazing young lady out for supper the other night. To me it was so special. You see Elizabeth was one of TJ's best friends. This girl is so fun to hang with - I completely understand why her and TJ were such good friends. But what made it extra special to me was that it was all her idea! I love every chance I have to spend time with TJ's friends. I love hearing what is happening in 6th grade. I'll admit I fight the tears during some topics of conversation. Overall I feel so blessed that TJ had this amazing friendship with her and that now I get to be a part of it. Her humor reminds me of TJ and that makes my heart smile!  (On a side note the gentleman at the restaurant thought she was my daughter! I'd take her in a heartbeat!)  Thank you Elizabeth for making this grieving Mom's heart feel so full of joy - I can't wait until we can do it again!

The Day Our World Got Rocked

February 10, 2012 was a Friday and it was the day we had been waiting for since Monday.  It was the day we would find out what these abnormalities on TJ's brain actually were.  For me - I was really hoping to find some answers as to what was going on with my son.  I don't think I ever really thought it was cancer, but maybe I was in denial.  That was one of these hardest days of my life - the waiting, worrying, praying, anxiety, sadness, anger - I believe every emotion was displayed that whole entire day.  I've blogged about this day before, so I won't go into all the details - I just felt the need to share.  The picture and the words of that day are so vivid in my mind - there are days I don't think I'll ever forget them.  Jon and I have had the conversation this week that we have no idea what it means (or looks/feels like) to live in remission.  We don't know the struggles of ongoing treatments, the constant worry of is it going to come back and when, the continuous fear of is this the last?  TJ's journey was fast, short and hard.  I believe that each journey is different and both are hard.  I honestly can't believe that it has been two years ago that our little world got rocked.  There are days it seems like yesterday and at other times it seems like forever ago.  I know I've shared with you before that the seconds have been so much harder than the firsts.  I'll be honest - we are struggling.  So I guess on this anniversary date I ask for your prayers.  Pray that God continue to heal our broken hearts.  To seek His will and direction in our lives.  And to fill this void in our lives that only He can fill.

I had someone ask me last week - "how do you do it? how do you be happy?"  And for me, there are a few reasons.
     First of all - everything I do - from getting out of bed, continuing life, decisions we need to make - is totally based on the three precious boys I have left in this house.  I NEVER want them to feel like they are less important than TJ, that they aren't enough or that I love them less.  Yes, I still mess up and often my broken heart speaks or acts out before my mind has time to think about it.  But as parents isn't our ultimate goal for our children to have a personal relationship with Christ and to someday spend eternity with them in Heaven?  Well, we have that for one of our boys - why would we stop now?  We need to love, support and guide them just the same as we did with TJ - our job isn't finished.  We must keep pressing forward even when there are days I want to just pull the covers over of my head and stay in bed all day.    
     Another answer to those questions - I CHOOSE to try to look at the positives.  It is a daily choice everyone has to make - do I want to look at the glass half full or half empty?  I've been around people who look at the glass half empty - they are not fun to be with - in fact I avoid these people.  Oh, believe me I have my days where everything is half empty!  This isn't an easy task - but it is something I am consciously aware of and try my hardest to look at the brighter side of life.  In fact Will and I just had this very conversation today!  Once we start focusing on the good/positive things - our attitude changes.
    And the last is prayer.  I know that the only way we ever got through TJ's whole journey was because people like you lifted us up in prayer.  And I believe prayers are still being lifted up on our behalf.  We definitely could still use them.  We've got a lot going on right now - not all of which I'm going to share right now, but one I want you all to be in prayer about - Jon's Dad.  He is still continuing his fight with cancer.  Pray for healing, less pain and strength for Don.  Pray for renewed energy, strength, rest and peace for Glenda.  Prayers for guidance with the doctors.

This journey hasn't been the easiest but I'm thankful I don't have to walk it alone.  I'm thankful for Jon, family, friends and even though there are times I don't feel it - I'm thankful for God's presence and Him carrying us through this walk.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Day Everything Changed

I have been trying to write this post for the last 3 days.  Here you go....

As I sit here I reflect on the day that everything changed - February 6, 2012.  It was a day full of many different things with many kinds emotions..  My Grandpa's 90th birthday!  WOW! 90 years.  Such joy and celebration.  It was the day of Jon's Aunt Delores funeral - such sadness over the loss of a God honoring woman who fought a courageous fight with cancer.  And the day of Thomas' first MRI - emotions of anxiety, worry, fear, nervousness.  Our emotions were all over that day.  I remember Jon and I picking up TJ at the school - that image of him walking out of the building is still so vivid in my head.  The MRI didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped and prayed for and left feeling a little uneasy and anxious for the results - which we figured we wouldn't get until the next day.  We ran a few errands - TJ was to have 4H that night so we decided to grab a bite to eat before leaving town and that's when it all started to go downhill.  He threw up in Subway - which really concerned me.  So we decided to skip 4H, pick up the other boys and head for home.  We had barely left Don & Glenda's when my phone rang - it was TJ's doctor.  I remember her asking if I was with Jon and then from there it was kind of a blur.  I heard abnormalities on the brain, get to Iowa City ER tonight!  We were in shock, confused, scared and everything else in between.  We quickly called family members - Jon's parents were going to meet us there, my parents decided to ride with us and Jon's brother and sister in law picked up the other boys.  It was the longest drive in history (and not the most fun - TJ got sick another time - which required stopping at Wal-Mart for new clothes).  In fact we didn't pack anything - I had no clue what we were in store for.  I guess any other time I had gone to the ER - we had never been admitted - so I didn't think they would this time.  Honestly, I wasn't thinking - my mind was all over the place that night.  We were told to get to Iowa City as soon as possible and that's what we did.  We got there and waited, waited and did more waiting.  They finally called us back to tell us they had no clue what exactly it was and then they showed us the images from the MRI taken earlier.  I think had I not been sitting down - I would have fallen over.  I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing - how could we have not seen the signs earlier?  How were they going to fix and help my precious TJ?  I remember being admitted around 1:00 am into the PICU scared to death.  They started asking questions and telling me what medicines they were going to put him on - but to me it sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown.  What? HUH?  I don't know?  We tried our hardest to get some sleep that night - but it was useless - how could any parent sleep after receiving that kind of news?  All we could do was be brave for TJ, hold on to each other and pray like we've never prayed before.  We had no idea what the road ahead of us looked like - how long we would be there, when we would find out what these abnormalities were or how soon our life would be back to normal.  What I never expected that night  - was that it was NEVER going to be the same EVER again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crazy Busy

Like every other household - it's been busy around here.  The boys are playing UPWARDS basketball again this year - which keeps us busy with practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights and games Saturday.  I've started a class called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey - which I am absolutely loving and learning A LOT!  Jon and I are still youth group sponsors which keeps us busy (a fun busy though).  We are also involved with a couple of small groups - one from our church and another with some good friends.  The calendar keeps filling up and I look forward to those days on the calendar when it is blank.  I guess this could explain the lack of posts I've had.  But in all honesty I know part of it is a lack of desire - just seem to be in a funk lately.  Maybe some day soon I'll share with you what has been on my heart and mind lately (as soon as I can put those thoughts/feelings into words). 

Birthdays and Super Bowl!

Since Anthony and Will's birthdays are about a month apart we typically split the different between the two and have a big party to celebrate them both.  We've been doing this for awhile now (we did the same thing with TJ and Charlie's birthdays).  Well our calendar prevented us from doing that so we actually celebrated closer to Will's birthday (the day before) and decided to include a Super Bowl party as well.  So yesterday we invited my family over for cake, ice cream and presents and for those that wanted to could stay and watch the big game.  Everyone came and everyone stayed and brought snacks!!  Besides the outcome of the game we had a great time celebrating birthdays and just being family.


 
The boys with their presents!
 

 
Anthony requested a chocolate chip cookie cake - shaped in a football.  Will's request was chocolate and white cupcakes with the Broncos and Seahawks on top.  Still can't believe they are 10 and 8 - where has the time gone.  It seems like yesterday they were like this:

These were some that I had on my computer from when they were younger.  Anthony on the left about 15mons old with TJ.  Will on the right the day he was born.  Don't you ever wish you could rewind time?  I sure do.  I remember when the boys were so little all the people that would come up to me and tell me - "these are the best times of your life!"  I completely understand what they were talking about NOW!  Happy Birthday Anthony and Will!!  We love you both so much!