So here we are back home. Our grandson Will – when we were there at Christmas took to saying “What’s next Gramma?” –so Linda and I have adopted that as a way of getting us to relax a little when we are getting uptight because we are wrapping up one project and it seems that we may have a “challenge” in deciding what to do -- so “What’s next?” – That’s the question of the day and it still doesn’t have an answer.
We have been busy this week and will be busy for several more days just setting things in order – but neither of us want to get so tied up with the business of daily living that there is nothing left for serving God by serving others.
Last evening Roger and Sandra asked us for supper Roger is the preacher at the Pinehill church where we attend. We had a great meal and then we showed some of the pictures we had and talked about our experience at Pascagoula. Next Sunday night at our monthly Sunday evening gathering* Linda & I will be telling our story about the Katrina recovery work in Pascagoula. (*The remaining Sundays in the month we meet in small groups at various places and times)
Jack & Barb King were there as well. Jack & Barb had just been at the funeral of a the 4 year old son of their grandniece – he died very suddenly due to heart failure from an undetected congenital defect. As always it is hard to understand why these things happen – everyone involved has to deal with these questions in their own way and we can only pray that they will find their answers by trusting in God to work good from this tragic loss.
This morning before services I was reading John Dobbs "Hope remains" blog. He was sharing the fact that they were running out of supplies and volunteers. And that they are running out of steam. Those of us who have gone to help but have had the ability to return home tour comfortable lives are doubly blessed. Once through the ability to help (It is more blessed to give than receive) and again by the increased awareness of how much we have to be thankful for in our lives).
One person commenting on John’ blog said that they likened the area devastated by the hurricane to a grandchild. When it gets messy or you get tired you can turn them over to their parents and come home.
I hope that those who have to live with the reality of the “Katrina effect” can stay the course – keep on keeping on and continue to show God’s love in those hurting communities.
It was good to be back at Pine Hill this morning. One of the first people we saw upon arriving was Grace Sloss. Grace had suffered a knee injury and had been housebound for a couple of months before we left and I think this was one of the first times she had been able to make it out to services. The lady on the right is Verna Ray who had given Grace a ride. Verna's daughter Erin Hallam is undergoing treatment for cancer and has been on our prayer list for several months.
There were lots of hugs and smiles as we met and greeted all of our friends here.
I want to mention Karen Morin -- she prepares the bulletin for Pinehill and was gracious enough to email us the news portion each week which helped us keep up withour church family here while we were on the road. Karen's husband Rene is beside her. My brotherRob and Jack & Barb King are in the background of this picture.
I tried to take a picture of the congregation after the closing prayer but it was too washed out to use it. Our building has large windows at the rear and when it is sunny (as it was today) it is very difficult to take a picture from the front of the auditorium. When our son Chris was married there a lot of my video was washed out for the same reason. I’ll try again when it is cloudy so I can have a picture to post.
We went for a walk this afternoon and saw Linda's niece Tracy who had twins on April 13th. Linda was overjoyed that we saw her outin her neighbors driveway because she got to hold these precious new babies - Aiden and Olivia --
We called and talked to David & Elaine Kilbern this afternoon to let them know we were home and to ask how they were holding up. They have been a bit under the weather but had really enjoyed a couple of days away for their 37th anniversary. They were also looking forward to the coming week since they are (for the first time since August 29) shutting down the relief operation for a week. No meals to cook, no interviews and filling out of work orders, no volunteers to dispatch – some time to unwind and recharge – they deserve it and I’m sure in many ways the work will benefit as they return next week with a renewed zeal and passion for “being the best friend their community ever had”. May God bless these dear brothers and sisters in their walk of faith.
We attended our LIFE group study on “The Barnabas factor” followed by an organizational meeting for a Saturday –morning “activities day” for children and youth. (A ”trimmed down” Vacation Bible school- but we would like to find a better name that more reflects the desire to provide Bible lessons in a positive fun way) . This is being spearheaded by Sharon & Mark Seeler. They moved here from Atlanta last fall and are a real encouragement to the church here. Sharon’s parents live in Dapne Alabama so she was able to give us some idea of what we would find when we were making our plans to go to Pascagoula.
I had said I wanted to summarize what we learned from this journey – but maybe I’m a slow learner because it doesn’t seem to have jelled yet. One thing I know is that I am more than ever convinced of the truth of Gen 1:1 –“In the beginning God.. “ God is in control of this universe – I don’t mean by that that I think God is sitting there (an oxymoron since an omnipresent being is NOT “there” in some place but is somehow everywhere in everyplace) pulling levers deciding each day who he will zap with a hurricane or with illness (or with a broken ball joint for that matter – see my posting for March 29) . It seems to me when it says that God rested after he created this “good” creation that the laws of nature and the choice of Adam’s descendents have more to do with what happens to us than a “capricious” choice by God - but I don’t want to get into this type of philosophical debates that tend to be abut people trying to mold God into their image rather than recognizing and responding to the fact that humans were created in the image of God. I do believe, however: that he can intervene in the chain of events to prevent tragic outcomes or to help us work good and find good when tragedy does touch our lives. I say I’m convinced of this for many reasons—the incredible power of a Katrina – the ability of people to who are themselves hurting to sacrificially give of themselves to help others, the beauty of nature – the night sky, the flowers, the butterflies. We have taught all our grandchildren the “Butterfly” song that ends with the lines “Now I can’t make a butterfly- not even if I try—only God in heaven can make a butterfly” – I know there are many in this world who believe differently but it is a question of faith – what are you going to accept based on the evidence—to me there is only one answer. For anyone who is seeking the answer to this “big” question there are 3 sources that I have found helpful.
John Clayton- a former atheist in his youth - has dedicated his life to the “Does God Exist?”. Program. John deals with a rational logical comparison of various explanations for the universe - those that involve God and those that deny God -- and concludes that the more rational choice is “God” – not random chance acting on pre-existing energy.
Ravi Zacharias – Can a Man live without God?. Prof. Zacharias is a critical thinker and scholar who uses a philosophical arguments and logic to show that the existence of God and the truth of Jesus are the only valid basis for a accepting a moral standard
Phillip Yancy’s “Reaching for the Invisible God” - Yancy deals with “inside out” approach. He starts with a belief in God and then deals with the struggle that soften Christians may feel like they have lost sight of God – that he is no longer there.
The books and discussions on this topic are endless and likely beyond what any one person could read and digest in a lifetime so others might well have different – perhaps even better -- sources to address these questions—for me I’m content to move out in the strength of my conviction that :God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him: (Hebrews 11:6)
Well – it is now after midnight –I’ll close for now. I have had some support for continuing this – but it will now before a different purpose. When I started the main purpose was to keep friends and family informed of our whereabouts and activities. While I will continue to record “what’s happening in our lives” –I have found this to be a useful thing for myself – putting my thinking in writing and maybe once in a while getting some push back or affirmation from someone else. If you are reading God bless you and thank you for staying with it.
One other thing – it is Charlie who is the “I” in this blog. My life partner and wife Linda makes up the “we”. I usually know when I can express something as “we” and when it is really ”I” but occasionally Linda may disagree so to be safe if it is something “weird” that “we” think – it probably is just me. You should blame for the weirdness.