Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Look At Our Treasure....

Loving the fact that Ruby can now lift her head and 
move it to the other side...and praying as a 
family that she can hold her own head up 
by Autumn and Karl's wedding....

Check her out!  
The bravest little treasure this side of heaven!

Youcef Nadarkhani

When Dw and I and our kids packed up Dw's law practice 
to head to seminary, we chose to move to Virginia Beach
 so he could attend Regent University. 

had just begun.   In fact, Dw was the very first lawyer 
they hired for their staff!  The very first!  
 Before long, the ACLJ was handling a trial for two 
street preachers in NYCity who had been 
arrested for preaching on the streets.  

My sweet hubby, flew to NYCity to defend them.  
He won the case and it was thrown out of the courts!  
And so we have the 
privilege of saying not only was Dw the 
first lawyer at the American Center for Law and Justice
on their staff, 
but he also won their first case. 
Quite an honor to our hearts!  
Dw only worked part-time as he was in 
seminary as well, and he eventually had to 
quit to devote his time to seminary, 
but still, it was pretty cool!

The ACLJ defends cases around the world.   
And yesterday night, I saw an article that I 
had to share with you. 
 I keep starting to cry, the big crocodile tears. 
It is so easy to get wrapped up 
in our own little bubble and ignore or miss 
what others are facing.  

Please meet 
Youcef Nadarkhani, 
who lives in Iran.  
He is 33 years old and at age 19 converted to Christianity. 
He is married and has two children and he is a pastor.   
Youcef has been  
sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his 
Christianity and for evangelizing those around him.  



{I am copying the article in full to make it easier to read.}

Posted at 04:47 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Youcef Nadarkhani’s case unites people around religious liberty

The fight to save the life of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran for his faith, is truly uniting people of all faiths - atheists too - and political persuasions across the world.
We have seen statements calling on Iran to release this persecuted pastor from President Obama’s White House, Secretary Clinton’s State Department, and Republican presidential campaigns. Governor Mitt Romney was one of the first political leaders to call for Pastor Nadarkhani’s freedom, calling Iran’s actions an “outrage against humanity.”
Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), an evangelical Christian conservative, and Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim and one of the most liberal members of Congress, are spearheading a congressional resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, H.Res. 556. Thus far, 61 members of Congress, including nine Democrats, have signed on to co-sponsor the resolution, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.” We hope and expect the resolution to receive overwhelming bipartisan support when it is brought up for a vote before the full House on Wednesday.
As the resolution states, “[F]reedom of religious belief and practice is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of every individual, regardless of race, sex, country, creed, or nationality, and should never be arbitrarily abridged by any government.”
It has been remarkable to see how religious liberty can unite every side of the political divide. Liberal-leaning blogs like the Huffington Post have reported on the fight to save this evangelical pastor’s life, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin has been tremendously supportive on this issue.
In fact, Jordan (a co-author of this blog) appeared on a liberal radio show discussing this very fact. Conservatives and liberals in America have truly joined forces to fight for Pastor Youcef’s life.
Nadarkhani’s case and the cause of religious liberty have done more than unite differing political parties; it has united religious leaders in America and around the world. In addition to Congressman Ellison’s public stand, Harris Zafar, national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has joined the fight for Youcef’s release, calling Iran’s actions “a violation of human rights and . . . a violation of Islam.”
Diverse religious groups such as the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S., and Hindu American Foundation have called for Pastor Youcef’s release.
Internationally, foreign leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany,Brazil,, European Union and United Nations have spoken out on Pastor Nadarkhani’s behalf. The European Parliament, Australian Senate,Mexican Senate, and Uruguay House of Representatives have all passed resolutions calling on Iran to respect the basic human right of religious liberty and free Pastor Youcef.
At the ACLJ, we have witnessed firsthand this truly immense outpouring of support for Pastor Youcef and religious liberty as more than 165,000 people have signed our “Petition to Free Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.” In addition, our “Tweet for Youcef” campaign is reaching nearly 900,000 people each day in over 87 percent of the world’s nations.
It is amazing what can be accomplished when we refuse to let religious liberty become a political punching bag and all join forces to stand up for freedom to believe, or not believe, across the globe.
We urge every member of Congress to support the resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, and ask everyone to pray for Pastor Youcef, utilize the ACLJ’s “Tweet for Youcef” program, and share his story with friends and family.
The Washington Post’s “On Faith” deserves thanks for publishing, “some of the first major media coverage of Pastor Nadarkhani’s case since his appeal was rejected” by Iran’s Supreme Court on September 21st, 2011 and for highlighting his “pending death sentence” September 27th.
Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice and writes for On Faith’s blogging network at the Washington Post. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ. Anna Sekulow is Director of Digital Policy for the ACLJ and creator of “Tweet for Youcef.”
*****
Remember


when Jesus speaks about the things

 that we are to be spending our time doing? 
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 

Would you pray with me for Youcef? 
For Almighty God to intervene on his behalf?
For his wife, children to be comforted?
Would you pray as a family for him and his family?
Would you join in spreading the word about Youcef?
It's real, it's happening now and it could be you or me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From My Front Door....


There are so many thoughts rolling 
around in my noggin.  
I have seriously started {at length} five blog posts 
and ditched each one for another day.   
ugh.

I guess I need to pray for the right words to share each of my thoughts.  Some things are so exciting, some of the thoughts are weighty and some are, well, just sorta' kinda' needin' to be said...but then you know how it goes, something totally unrelated saunters over and kind of punches ya' in the gut and wham, everything in your head just kind of mashes together.  
In the meantime, as I pray and think...
I do want to share a picture of the bush beside our front door.
Isn't it gorgeous?
My heart smiles each time we come and go.  

Growing up in Buffalo, I could never have imagined just how beautiful the desert would be. 

When I flew out here about 10 years ago to visit friends, I was dumbfounded at its stunning beauty.  From that time on, I wanted to live here.   And the flowers? 
Absolutely gorgeous!

In fact they remind me of one of my favorite Bible verses:

"The grass withers and the flowers fade, 
but the word of our God abides forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Which encourages my heart, because as beautiful as the flowers outside our home are, they will fade.  But my God's word will stand forever.  His word never fails.  His word withstands the test of time. 

And at this moment, I am really, really thankful for that.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Memorial Box Monday: Our Friend Stuart

In the Old Testament God told the Israelites to place stones in a pile as a reminder of something He had done.  They were told to tell the story over and over and over.   

I know I have said this before, but truly, if I didn't remember what God had done in the past, it would be really hard to face some of the things that have come our way without being filled with fear, worry and panic!  

Cause I just know me.  

I can be really forgetful, and no doubt, so can you.

However, when we choose to actively remember His faithfulness, we can face the present challenges with an assurance that He is there, His plans are good {no matter how desperate the circumstance looks}, He will move any mountain, His love knows no limits and He is always, always, always faithful!  

So the Memorial Box Monday story for today is really fresh.

Let me explain.

When Emma and I were going to get Ruby from Uganda this past fall, we made our plans to fly out of Phoenix so we could land and see the neurosurgeon our pediatrician had found.

At the same time, one of our closest friends is a neurologist here in Phoenix.  He has been one of our closest friends for a billion years! 

 In fact I've mentioned Stuart before.  He is the friend who was staying at our home when Karl was in the accident.  He was the one sitting on the porch with Autumn waiting for Karl to arrive to pick her up for church.  And he is the one who the Lord used to look at the CT scan in the ER and convince the trauma surgeon that Karl had to be med-flighted to a closer trauma center in order for Karl to have a chance of survival.   And that decision is what ultimately spared Karl's life!

Well Stuart {our bachelor friend - with two adult daughters} told us about a year ago that he had rented a FIVE bedroom home so we could come visit.  We laughed!  He loves our kids and has welcomed them many times in the past.

Anyway, so when Emmy and I were flying out to Africa, we spent the night at Stuart's home and he drove us to the airport that morning.  When it was time to fly home and land in Phoenix, it was Stuart whom Dw and the kids stayed at waiting for us to land.

   Little did we realize that Ruby would be hospitalized for over three weeks after we landed.  

And little did we realize that Dw and the kids would need somewhere to stay.

But faithful God was already working out the details.   Our gracious, generous and tender-hearted friend Stuart said, "Stay with me.  It makes the most sense!  I have this big home, stay as long as you want."  

We were so appreciative - but come on?  

Who wants a family with a boatload of little ones staying with them for weeks?

After a few days of Ruby's hospitalization, Dw asked him, "Do you want us to get a hotel?"  Stuart assured him he did not.

As it turns out, the sweet neurologist friend opened his big, beautiful home to us for over six weeks - from Dw and the kids waiting for us to land, till many weeks later when the six youngest were staying there waiting for Dw and the big kids to pack our home up and move our stuff to Phoenix. 

Stuart would come home from work and the kids would love on him.  He would get the biggest kick out of their antics...and he even wrote a letter to his family about how much he enjoyed everyone staying all that time and how he would miss us all so much! 

If I had known ahead of time how long we would have to be in Phoenix from landing to into our own rental, I would have had opportunity to fear and panic!  How in the world would we afford a hotel for all of us...and how safe would it be for extended times with the kids on their own?  And how comfortable would a hotel be for all those weeks?  Yet, God was working the details out for almost a year!  Unbelievable!

You're not gonna' believe this, but Stuart even put up a Christmas tree just because we were there!

And one Friday, when Ruby was in the PICU having just had brain surgery, the kids called up to the hospital so excited they could hardly stand it.

Stuart had been gone in the morning and had come home.  He asked Graham if he could help him with something.  Graham said, "Sure"...and followed Stuart outside.   

In Stuart's car he found that Stuart had bought a gigantic TV, a Kinect, XBox and a bunch of games and he wanted Graham to set it all up.  He said he figured the kids were bored 
and would enjoy it all.  
{Which they did!}
Can you believe his generosity?
Who does that?

Single kind-hearted guy. 

Two daughters already grown and living out of state. 

And a really, completely faithful always providing God...through the kindness of our precious friend.

Preparing the place when we would need to stay....



 Stuart spending time loving on Ruby.  




  And Stuart's girlfriend, Jennifer, has become one of my dearest friends....such a blessing...


Actually, many of Stuart's neighbors noticed us taking walks in the neighborhood and always were so very kind to us....Gracious be!  Even one of Stuart's neighbors heard about our situation and came to ask if he could help in anyway!  Seriously.  Only God.

What about you?

How has God done above and beyond all you could think or ask?
Link your story below.  I can't wait to read them!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Craziest Thing Happened....

With Dw and Emmy gone and Ruby out of the hospital,  I have kind of wanted to venture out and explore this beautiful city.

In the back of my mind, I was remembering about a store {Home Goods} that our Abigail had told me about.   When we were wedding dress shopping for Autumn last week-end I noticed there was a Home Goods nearby the bridal store.  I kept thinking how I needed to check it out, since she had raved about how fun it is!

So yesterday morning Savannah, Liberty and I loaded up the little treasures and headed out:  Home Goods here we come!  This particular store was 25 miles from our new home. 

We arrived at the store, unloaded everyone and headed inside.   Ruby seemed immediately like she would like to have her juice bottle so I ran back to the van to get that.  

I know, I know, you're thinking, get to the story Linny, who cares about the juice bottle or how far the store is from your home?  But there is a point to this and I'm about to get to it...

So as I headed back into the store, I found the kids and we started trekking aisle by aisle, oohhing and aahhing at sweet things we were looking at....

We rounded a corner and I glanced back toward the front wall of the store and suddenly I heard:

"Linny?"

I whipped my head back again
and there stood one of the sweetest ladies 
I had known in Durango!

I almost fell over and I'm sure my eyes nearly
 popped out of my head!

What in the world was she doing in 
Home Goods in Phoenix, Arizona? 

Now to back up a bit, once upon a time I told the story of this total sweet-lady-stranger here on Our Place Called Simplicity.  I told how I had seen her several times downtown when we pastored in Durango.  I had been so drawn to her and had begun to pray for an opportunity to meet her.   She just looked like she would be a sweet friend.

Some of you might remember the story.

Anyway, I told how
the Lord worked it out that one day we happened to be 
next to each other at a totally random place and 
we started chatting.  I was giddy, 
the Lord had answered my prayers.  



I had such fun talking to her....we even had something in common!  And every now and then we would run into each other at the same place...it was so crazy!
We would stand and talk until she had to get to work.  She was just as sweet as I had imagined and I always looked 
forward to running into her.  

Eventually we became Facebook friends...

In fact, just a couple of weeks ago I thought, "hmmmm, I need to send my friend a FB message and tell her that we have moved...just in case she would wonder why she never ran into me again..." 
but I hadn't gotten to that yet.

And here, 460 miles from where she lives we ran into each other!  
I still shake my head at the graciousness of the Lord.

I was 24 miles from our new home in a store I had never been in before.  I had gone out to the car to get the bottle and came back in....and the Lord had us both in just the right place at just the right time to see each other.  

We hugged and talked....and I introduced her to my sweet little Ruby Grace {and some of the other kids she hadn't met before}...and we laughed and giggled at "What are the chances?"...

When I told Dw last night on the phone he said, "Only God Linny!! Just think....in a city of 4 million people...your friend is visiting for a few days and is in a store, on the exact aisle you are, at just the right moment, 24 miles from where we live!"
me of how much He loves me!

Sweet friend, should you happen to read this...you are loved and missed by this silver-haired lady with the boatload of kids and next time you are in my new city, let's do lunch - my treat!!
xo

{I'm so bummed I didn't take a picture of my friend and so I had to include pictures 
of little girls enjoying each others company.}

Say "Yes"


{Thankful that I didn't yet have my make-up on for church. 
 The kids and I watched it several times...}

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Date

Did you ever have one of those days where it seems that at every turn a really sweet and unexpected surprise awaits you?


I have been left smiling big time!


Anyway, more on all that soon...but for now...

Many of you have asked when "the miracle wedding" will be...



*Last week-end, before Emma left for Uganda, and while Karl and Autumn were visiting, 
Emmy was able to take a boatload of engagement photos, and yes, the date is set!!*


I just can't stop smiling {mixed with intermittent teariness} 
when I see the pictures...in fact I told poor Karl, "dude, you know how I love to hug and well, I will have to hug you somedays over and over and over...I just can't help myself...."


ONLY FAITHFUL GOD...



Friday, February 24, 2012

So Much More....

A powerful post {with pictures} from Dw and the GO Team currently serving
in Uganda...

A must read for everyone
{the kind that parents and grandparents need to read to their children and grandchildren...to show them the pictures...to think...3 days a week...3 days a week....3 days a week...who can comprehend?}

Click here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some Thoughts on "It's Your Turn"

I actually wrote this post from the PICU the other day...but had to ponder,  pray and tweak awhile before posting it....
so here goes...


Well.

Where to begin.

When I was writing It's Your Turn I just {honestly} 
didn't know if anyone would even respond,
 just needed to share my feelings in my heart...
cause I have often wondered how people 
can stop by for years and never even once say 'hey'.
I am a visual person...so I recognize names I see written...
it might be months or ever years...
but I still remember...
Anyway,  
when a mighty big bunch of you introduced yourselves 
I was truly blown away!

Many of you wrote very thought provoking comments.




Penny:
 I was so tickled that you introduced yourself.  
And can I tell you something Penny? 
 I grew up in a primarily Jewish neighborhood and my 
closest school friends were Jewish...in fact one friend, Carol, and I caught up now years later through Facebook...
I love that she and I have reconnected!  
Growing up I was mesmerized 
by the Jewish culture {still am}.   
Anyway, I am thankful to know you are out there.

Many of you wrote about reading on Google Reader. 
 I don't know how that all works, but it makes sense.

All you who are nursing treasures while reading....
made me smile....
typing and nursing is a fine art, no doubt!  
It reminded me of nursing Graham.  
He was a fussy-gus little guy and I would 
actually nurse him almost all day long 
{anything to keep him from being Mr. Grumpy pants}  
I actually managed to learn to nurse him 
while he lay on the kitchen counter 
and I made sandwiches. 
{No I did not take pictures, 
but this accomplishment would probably serve me well if 
I ever played the game of "Twister" again.}  
Graham was happy.  
The kids eating lunch were happy.  
Mommy was happy.

Psalm45Girl:
Great word picture you painted, 
kind of my thoughts exactly at times.

Tara:
Funny story about you and your old friend and, yes, 
I will answer some of your questions in the days ahead.

becky.coates:

You are so right! It was especially fun to hug your neck in person when we flew through your beautiful country of England! And no, we would not have spent that time together if you had never introduced yourself!

The Beaver Bunch:
Laughed when I read when you sneak read...
I sneak read there as well every now and then.

AlbinoPrincess:
So glad to meet you {again} 
but ummmm, what's your name?

Truth be known, I have come to love many of you by your blogger profile name, but I have no clue what your real name is!

Probably like the coffee shop workers who know someone as "Americano, room for dash of cream" 
or 
"2 pump, 3 shot, non-fat medium mocha", 
right?   

i'm beccy:
Your comment was so sweet...you're right - I do care!
I'm thankful that I was able to hug your neck 
once-upon-a-time...

 Clearly quite a few felt inadequate in conveying their thoughts - which is sad!  Your feelings and thoughts do matter to me.  

Jenny: My bloggy-turned-into-real-life-friend-whose-neck-I-have-hugged - we're so thrilled about Isabella Addisalem!  
Yippee Jesus!

M-Kate:
12 years old?  
Smiling big over here in PICU...and thank you for 
introducing yourself!

Rebecca:
 {with two little boys and two foster treasures}
So sorry that you have been misunderstood and criticized...
yes, I do understand....no  doubt, we have a lot in common!

Justine:  
You have a Memorial Box?  
Sooo grateful!

Sue Mom of Two:
I like how your blogger profile name rhymes.

Wes:
Beautiful scripture....thank you!

Sonya:
So glad you were drawn out!

annaehoward:
the artists on the playlist are so beautifully talented...
thankful that it ministers to your soul...

Joy:
Your "status" made me laugh....and girlfriend - you are definitely NOT old!  I suspect we will still be bringing treasures home in our 60's....so buckle up - cause if you guys are willing - your ride will be a ride with reckless abandon with no regrets - brace yourself!

Katie:
Your comments do count!

PAfarmgirlinCT:
One Word:


Ruthie:
Lovin' that you, little one, are stopping 
by our Place Called Simplicity.



Jan J:
FYI, ummm, yeah, never, ever, not-even-once
 have I rolled my eyes.  
Pinky Promise. 

Susan A.
You are always, always, always a blessing to me.  
I love you sweet friend and I am thankful that the blog world has opened up so much ministry for you to do...faithful God, always hearing each of our heart's cry.....xo

Jennifer:
I loved "your book" you wrote...share your feelings...people need to know that sharing feelings is okay...God made us with them for a reason and for a purpose...so we could encourage each other and no doubt, to also know that we are not alone in what we feel.

Patrick and Jenni:



Would love to share tea face-to-face one day as well.  
And maybe we can...one day.

and

Tracey S:
Every time I see your name I smile.  
You are precious, thank you for putting 
another face to all the treasures in the world 
with Arthrogryposis.

Thank you to all who came out and spoke up.
Now that you have ventured out.....
please don't stay tucked away forever!
You matter to me.
What you're feelin' matters.
What you're thinkin' matters.
And it helps me not feel like I'm talking to air.
Love to each of you!
xo


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Never Once

We left our home this morning at about 3:30am to take 
Emma and Dw to the airport.


Sure is sweet to live in a major city with a major airport.  
Pretty amazing actually.


You know sleeping just doesn't really happen in the ICU 
or in the hospital for that matter.


This mama is pretty weary.


Today the kids and I have laid low.


I think actually I might be sleep-walking.


Last week was something else...


For starters, each of the kids significant others came to visit, as well as our friends from Ghana who were attending the Pastor's  conference at our church.  Several nights we had 18 people eating and sleeping here.  


Dw and Emma were also getting ready to leave for Africa and all the while we knew something was going on with Ruby....so our days consisted of, "Is Ruby awake?  How long has she been sleeping?  Has she eaten anything at all?" 


Finally, the mid-week trip to the Emergency Room to see what was wrong followed by lots of tests, but hours later sent home because nothing looked too out of the ordinary and she had perked up at the ER, making me {almost} feel silly.   {Don't you hate when that happens?  "Honest doc, she was definitely not like this at home!"}


But the next morning after that trip to the ER, she just would not wake up without a boatload of effort.  


And for the next three days she was lethargic 
beyond anything I had ever seen.


But Sunday was the worst.  


On Sunday I tried everything to wake her.  Her exercises {no response}, food {no response}, her bottle which she loves {didn't want anything to do with it}, a massage {no response}, more exercises {still no response} and finally a bath, in which she started to cry and then fell sound asleep.  


About that time, Graham's friend came to visit.  This young guy is 16 and loves the Lord deeply.  He has spent a lot of time at our home as his parents are good friends and had been part of our church in Durango, so he's seen Ruby a lot.


Seeing Ruby totally unresponsive and watching me trying with all my might to wake her, he finally said, "Is she in a coma?"  


That was it.


Graham said, "Mom, let's take her" and away we went.


We know Ruby is fragile, but this past week, again, reiterated just how fragile our little treasure really, truly is. 


Yesterday, on the way home from the hospital, Dw and I met with our friend, Molly.  She is the widow of Leo who was killed in a car accident in Uganda while Emma and I were there bringing Ruby home.  Do you remember me mentioning it?


It was a sobering time as we talked of Leo's time in Africa before he was killed.  I can't remember if I told how Emma and I had sat with Ruby for 3.5 hours on the very road that Leo was killed on the exact same day he was killed.  Knowing that still causes me to shake my head in bewilderment.   Leo and his team had also been staying at the same place Emma and I were staying
although we hadn't crossed paths with him there.   


No doubt, all of life is fragile.


So today, fresh home from the hospital, after a very difficult week, feeling pretty tuckered, knowing my precious husband and daughter are heading to the other side of the globe to minister,  the Lord reminded me of a song we recently sang at our church.  


I found it on You-Tube and thought it would minister 
to some of you as well....


the words are sooo powerful!

 


A song of God's faithfulness.
Let it minister to your soul as it has mine today.


PS Dw is writing on the IVO blog as the GO team's trip unfolds...
you are welcome to follow their journey by clicking here.