Friday, June 12, 2009

Prayer Cover

UpdateKevin regained conciousness Friday evening and is sustaining breathing on his own. Praise the Lord! Please continue to pray for his complete healing.

Will you pray for our friends today?

Kevin and JD are friends who served as missionaries in Bundibugyo for over a decade. They founded a secondary school. Their four children are the ages of ours.

They relocated to the US last year and recently announced Kevin's new teaching job at a wonderful school in the Northeast.

Yesterday, Kevin collapsed while on a jog with their oldest son. JD found him with no pulse or breathing.

He was revived and is currently in very critical condition.

Please pray for Kevin, JD, Joe, Louisa, Savannah and Nate.

Father, please hold these, Your dear ones, tight. Please heal Kevin, for Your Glory. Thank you for the medical care that was near him and for restarting his heart. Please comfort Joe and JD through the trauma they have faced. Hold them all through the trauma they continue to walk through. Please pull your Body, your Church around them to help them function and thrive through these days. Thank you for hearing us. In Jesus, Amen

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goodbyes and Grace

And here we are again. That word.


In January of 1995 Jeff and I arrived, with our vehicle and 9 rubbermaid trunks to Kagote housing district, Ft Portal. We had no beds. No table. No stove. No furniture.


We also had no friends. In our pockets were two letters. One was for David and one was for the LC5, a local government official. We would eventually meet those two men, but for some weeks, it was just us, two german shepherds and a very foreign place.

Sometime during those first months, on a Sunday, an American drove into our compound. His name was Bob and he and his wife were planning to move to Ft Portal permanently. They were building a house and in the process of adopting their first baby. We quickly made plans to meet up for a meal.

Over the next months we shared many candlelit dinners with Bob and Jennifer. Candlelit because we had to. No power. We lived for those debrief times. Bob and Jennifer were living in two tiny mud rooms. We were carving a niche in a rat and cockroach infested concrete house.

We would talk late into the night about this foreign culture we were trying so earnestly to learn about and survive in. We always had hours of stories between us. Marriage. Language. Electricity. Water. Construction. We laughed a lot. Cried some. Prayed for each other. And hoped. We had so much hope during those days.

We were unlikely friends. Presbyterians thrown together with the church of Christ. Theological differences, varying backgrounds, contrasting personalities.

One Lord.

And that was enough. He is always Enough.

Twelve years and 9 children later, we stand on the other side of our goodbye.

Thankful for Grace.

Because that is what made it all possible. Grace for our differences. Grace for our shortcomings. Grace in a million big and little ways.

How do you summarize 12 years of births, adoptions, burials, birthdays, holidays, victories and defeats?

I don't think I can.

Instead, I take all that those years have given. Give thanks.
And move forward.

Looking towards Home.

God be with you, Chedesters. We love you.

I know His Grace more for walking with you.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Wedding Ring

I love my wedding ring.

It is, just what I wanted.

Jeff and I were poor when we began wedding plans. We were poor and set on living our life in Africa.

I decided that a plain, simple wedding band would suit me just fine. I love diamonds but financially and practically it didn’t seem the time for diamonds. We could save and invest in some gems later.

Jeff decided differently.

One time he asked me what kind of ring I would want if I could choose. Shape of diamond? Yellow gold or white gold? Solitaire or in a larger setting?

Honestly, I answered, “Heirloom.”

I had developed a fondness for antique/old jewelry. Especially, if said jewelry came with a story. A happy one, preferably.

But, I quickly brushed this discussion aside. Plain bands. We had decided.

About a week before my birthday, Jeff began to verbally “stress out” over my empty ring finger. He said that every girl deserved an engagement story. An engagement ring.

He said that he felt like a bum.

I prayed for him. I asked God to help him be content.

My birthday rolled around with big plans for a whole day together. Jeff asked me to dress up and said that we would have a nice lunch at a restaurant of my choosing. He was to meet me after chapel. (I was still in college).

The singing group I was in was singing that day in chapel and towards the end of our presentation, I noticed Jeff walk in the back of the auditorium. He was dressed in a suit.

This made me very happy. It was going to be a nice date!

During announcements, I tried to leave out of a side door, anxious to meet up with my knight and begin our day of romance. Just as I reached the door, my roommate grabbed my arm and shoved me in the chair beside her. I complained and she said, oddly, “Don’t you want to hear them wish you happy birthday?!” (birthdays were announced in chapel daily)

No. I did not care to waste my romantic day waiting to hear my name said over a microphone. And then, I noticed Jeff. He and his roommate were walking down the aisles of chapel. They were both wearing suits, dark sunglasses and had earpieces, like the Secret Service.

I began to feel very nervous. And if my roommate hadn’t had such superhuman strength at that moment, I would have successfully escaped out the side door.

I was scared, all of a sudden.

Jeff went up on stage and called me to the front. Things began to go fuzzy. My face felt on fire. What in the world was he doing?! I was handcuffed and escorted outside for “questioning”.

I don’t remember specifics of the next bit of time. Humiliation blocks memory apparently.

I was blindfolded, driven all over Lubbock Tx, switched from car to car and finally told to remove my blindfold to discover I was in the middle of nowhere West Texas being driven by Jeff’s roommate, also named Jeff. We were turning into a private airfield and there was a helicopter waiting.

A helicopter? We were quickly informed that the helicopter couldn’t fly today. Too windy. (In Lubbock? Wind? Shocking.)

Roommate Jeff shifted to Plan B and drove me to Boyfriend Jeff who was waiting on a dock near a pond in a park with a table, chairs and birthday cake.

I chastised my love. He had shared many elaborate date stories from his own college experiences. But our dating life had, up until this moment, remained pretty low key. I accepted the events of the morning as they were meant. A birthday surprise and a lot of hoopla to cement a memory and have some fun. My embarrassment was just icing on the cake.

Cake. Jeff had made a strawberry cake and we sat down to enjoy it. I assumed all the excitement was over. Jeff served my piece and it looked a little odd.

It was not a piece of cake at all. But a ring box, iced into the strawberry cake.

I was shocked.

And my mind raced. Where did he get the money for this? How did he do this? What did it look like?!?!

He ceremoniously got down on one knee, opened the ring box, took out the ring and began to speak.

“Will you….”

The world seemed to stop for a minute. THE moment was before me.. The words and event romanticized and play acted by little girls for generations.

The Proposal. It was happening. I was trying to take it all in.

I was wrapped up in the exhilaration of surprise and expectantly held my breath.

In that flash of an instant…my dear suitor… dropped the ring.

In slow motion I watched the ring bounce off the deck and into the water. With a tiny little plunk that seemed to echo for several minutes.

Jeff tore off his coat and tie and jumped into the pond. I stared in disbelief.

Who does this? Who drops the ring? Who loses THE moment?

Was it a sign?

I felt sick.

The water of the man-made pond was as thick as the silence around me.

We were supposed to be celebrating by now, tears of joy pouring down our love struck faces. But instead…

Jeff came out of the water overwhelmed with apology. He said we needed to go get his scuba gear. I didn’t have the heart to speak the obvious truth. The ring was gone.

Why did I feel such loss when I didn’t even have my heart set on it in the first place?

We began to load the uneaten cake and the small table and chairs into the car. There were two other presents under the table, wrapped with beautiful bows. He had asked my shirt size the day before and so I figured he had bought me clothes. (he does a great job at picking out clothes for me, BTW)

He asked me to open those presents, at least. He continued to apologize and lament.

I unwrapped the first box, pulled back the tissue paper to see…

A ring box.

A. Ring. Box.

I looked up to the twinkling eyes of my very mischievous boyfriend who innocently said, “What’s this?!”

He took the box, opened it and got down on one knee again.

He said something about me never losing his love and then “Will you marry me?”

I paused longer than he expected.

But then I decided it was safer to get the ring on MY finger before he dropped it again.

I said, “Yes”, which was a decision I had already made through a series of long talks, heart sharing and prayers. Good thing for him. This proposal was turning me every which way but loose.

He gently placed a beautiful, old fashioned, heirloom ring on my finger and then I punched him in the arm. Repeatedly.

Jeff confessed that the first ring was a set up. A Walmart $3 ring he purposefully tossed in the water.


Well. That’s just how he rolls.

The writing was on the wall for me.

This man was a mess. A MESS. He would always surprise me, never be boring and never outgrow his propensity for losing things. (sigh)

But he wouldn’t lose me. True to his word. He has held on and persevered and somehow managed to treasure me through this life.

The ring was gorgeous. Perfect.

His grandmother’s. She was one of our first phone calls after my heart started beating again and I had quit punching him.

She was thrilled to share the story of the ring. As I remember, she said the ring was given to her and AJ (Jeff’s grandfather) by a friend. AJ served as a minister and they never had a lot of money. Her original wedding band was simple and inexpensive. When their friend presented them with this ring, she and AJ were so thankful and thrilled. Grandma Rose wore it for many years.

Jeff’s Mom shared with me once about her Mom and Dad (Rose and AJ) enjoying a cup of coffee together every day when AJ came in from work. Phyllis remembered that as their time. The kids were not allowed to interrupt. Phyllis saw their friendship and their adoration for each other in those coffee moments. And in many other moments too.

When AJ passed away, Rose, grieved so much. Their relationship had been faithful, deep and precious. Losing him was devastating to her.

Some years later, Rose met Francis and he asked her to be his wife. At that time, she passed on this wedding ring to Phyllis. Phyllis had in mind for the ring to go to her daughter Kristi.

When Jeff decided to marry me he asked his Mom if she knew of any heirloom jewelry in the family. Phyllis asked Kristi, who said she would be happy for Jeff to have the ring, and sent the ring to Jeff.

And that is how I came to have Grandma Rose’s wedding ring.

It represents love, faithfulness and the generosity of loved ones. It also represents many sweet moments over coffee.

Jeff and I have been incredibly blessed by the heritage we have in our grandparents. All four sets, loving each other “til death do us part.” Their marital faithfulness and devotion has encouraged and spurred us on as we continue to learn and grow together. We don’t take this heritage for granted.

Grandma Rose was buried last week. She was our last living grandparent. We grieve her passing, and long for heaven. Where hugs, reunion and peace will reward those of us redeemed by Grace.

Until then, we have many wonderful things to hold on to as we journey.

Grandma’s ring and what it represents is one of those things for me.

A heritage, that we will never lose. An heirloom ring with a story.

A happy one.