Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rebecca's Journey - 122

Friends,

The holidays are passed! We had a lovely time with our son, Stephen and his new wife Sarah as well as Annie, and Alezah. It was a delightful household full of loved ones to brighten our festivities. And now we are into February. After the Christmas tree was down and the ornaments put away, I found myself quite weary and spent. I have rested and feel substantially restored now. In physical therapy the last few days, we've been able to do full exercise again and sit up on the side of the bed. It's quite a sight. I've attached a photo. We're back, working hard, and will see what changes the New Year will bring!

We've had quite a bit of snow and a lot of rain over the holidays. It's cold today and very, very gray. I always like the afternoons on cold and rainy days. I light some little candles and they remind me of the joy and light within.

At the beginning of each year I always ask the Lord, "What are You saying to me in this New Year?" He usually gives me a perspective or goal, something clear, as a nugget to carry with me through the year. (For me this is much better than a New Year's resolutions, which I never can keep :)).

This afternoon I turned to Psalm 40. It's marked and written on, circled and squared. Because of this, I always can tell which Psalm has been meaningful to me in many seasons.

From Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He inclined to me...
Many oh Lord are Your wonderful works
which You have done, and Your thoughts toward me
cannot be recounted to You in order;
if I would declare and speak of them
they are more than can be numbered.
In the last verse it says, "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks upon me." What an awesome perspective for the New Year. The Lord is thinking about me. His thoughts! His thoughts are ever-toward me. Now maybe that's obvious to you, and in one way, it is. But there's something marvelous when I consider, in a world shaken by earthquakes and storms, my Father is thinking about me! And where His thoughts go, His heart goes. May we all begin this New Year with this resting place for our souls. Whatever is happening, whatever comes, One who loves us is ever-thinking toward us. Ask Him for the perspective He has for you for the coming year.

My love to you all,

Rebecca

P.S. We have an unusual short-term need for a caregiver for me from April 1st through May 14th. Please let me know if you would be interested and available. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 121


Dear Friends,

I love meditating during this time of year, from gospel to gospel, on the Christmas story. I never tire of it! Yesterday, as I opened the Scriptures, the Lord said, "Preparation!" I re-read the Christmas story and realized that in every situation, before He spoke or moved, He had prepared all the characters of the drama.

John the Baptist was the first I considered. His lifestyle prepared him for his task 30 years later - preparing the way for Jesus.

And Joseph! I wonder what circumstances God used to prepare this man to receive His Word so readily, and to take the young, pregnant Mary into his heart, and then to lead his new family on a harrowing escape to Egypt?

And Mary! What preparation had He done in that young girl's heart to receive so willingly such a life-changing word, one that would plunge her into misunderstanding within her community, and cost her so much. "Let it be done unto me according to Your word." It may well have had its roots in her family.

The shepherds! Did He even prepare them? They certainly heard the angels! And all immediately agreed, "Let's go!" I wonder how many of them there were? I'll bet there weren't too many or they never would have come to such a consensus so quickly! :-) But, they were ready to go. What did they do with their sheep? Maybe they took them all along, and left them on the outskirts of Bethlehem with one attending while the others went to see the baby.

Of course, the wise men were well prepared. They'd been looking and preparing for many years. Like the others, they were ready to go.

I've had so many people ask me, "How could you and Paul so readily receive Grace for the dramatic changes that came after your accident?" We always say, "He was preparing us our whole lives for that moment. All that went before enabled us to step through, with His grace, into His new purpose."

For that first Christmas morning the Lord had prepared His people to receive His gift. As we approach this Christmas season, let us pray that we will be open to His of preparation and turn our hearts toward the good gifts that He will bring. "Prepare our hearts, Lord, to receive all the good things that You have in store for us."

A blessed and happy Christmas to you and your families!

Love,

Rebecc
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 120 (book now available)

An Important Announcement
from Paul and Rebecca Petrie
Rebecca's Book is Now Available



Dear Friend,

This is to announce a new book from Rebecca Petrie, Falling into His Grace: The Power of a Life Laid Down. You probably know Rebecca as author of a widely distributed inspirational email and web blog, www.RebeccasJourney.com.

Falling into His Grace: The Power of a Life Laid Down tells her personal story and God's overwhelming grace as she lived through an almost fatal accident in 2001.

FROM THE BOOK:

Rebecca was lifeless when her friends found her at the bottom of the stairway. She had been descending the steps following a lady's prayer gathering when she lost consciousness, falling head first down the stairs. She broke her neck at the second vertebrae which stopped her heart and paralyzed her lungs. After five and a half months in the ICU, a number of surgeries, and another 14 months in hospital rehabilitation, she has emerged even more convinced of God's love and all-sufficient grace. This book tells her story. Now, as before the fateful accident in 2001, Rebecca Petrie is a woman of God called to encourage and help those God has placed around her.

This book will be a treasure to those facing life challenges and an encouragement to their journey with God. As Rebecca says about her book,

"I trust it will be an encouragement to you. Not only to those who are in similar situations, but to those who need to know today that Father is abundantly faithful wherever we are."

Gabriella Press has released this book in time for the holidays and it is available at the following link. Ordering options include both UK/Europe and USA based sources. Order yours now!

We are also asking for your personal attention to consider a few very important actions to help us:
  • Please consider buying several books soon to receive copies for gifts during the coming holidays. Order now.
  • Buy a case of books for your church bookstore or small group. For information about bulk discounts, please send an email to info@gabriellapress.com.

In this new-release stage of the book, it would also be very helpful if you would partner with Rebecca. Please share a link to www.gabriellapress.com on your website, MySpace, Facebook, blog site, etc., and please ask your friends to do likewise.

  • Please ask your place of worship or favorite book store to order the book. They can place a bulk order at discounted rates by writing to info@gabriellapress.com.
  • Do you know gate-keepers with e-mail lists of groups like churches, social, political or religious organizations, service groups, etc.? Please ask them to pass on this announcement, with a recommendation to purchase.
  • Do you have any other ideas for getting the word out? Please follow up contacting Rebecca's son Matt Petrie, at matt@gabriellapress.com.

Thank you so much for taking time to help out during this important roll-out week! All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to their continuing work, as well as the medical care of Rebecca. Learn more about Rebecca by visiting www.rebeccasjourney.com.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 119

Dear Friends,


In my quiet moments before the Lord this morning I had a particular friend who kept coming into my thoughts. I prayed for her and went on with my Bible reading. My thoughts went back to her, so I prayed again. After the third time, I took the paper I keep beside me and wrote her name with a note to call her.

Later, in the afternoon before beginning work on my computer I gave her a call. It turned out that she was fighting depression and heaviness. After speaking just a few minutes the phone cut off. In the time as I waited I turned my heart to pray and realized the Lord was already praying for her. How real it is that Jesus is always at the right hand of the Father praying for us--"ever living to intercede." Immediately the phones came on and I called her back, "I am better, as soon as we shared and the phone went dead I realized that my soul was settled!"

There is great power in our fellowship. At the moment when darkness seems to cloud our thoughts reaching out to someone to pray breaks the power of the enemy. Jesus is already praying and when we agree together with Him it is a powerful force.

Love,

Rebecca


PS From Paul!

Exciting news for us: Phillip and Josie are expecting their first child in April! The new year will be a delight with two new grand-children.

This autumn will also be a delight with a number of friends visiting and helping with Rebecca's care. Gordon and Selena Green, from Canada, will be here next week. Then Dr. Timothy and Sharon Henry, and their son Peter, arrive on the 16th for several weeks. Sheila Cole comes on 25 November for 3 + weeks, helping care for Rebecca. And our son Stephen will arrive around 15 December. Family and friends are God's great gift to us all.

And more news: Rebecca's book is now available in the UK and Europe. You'll find purchase information at www.gabriellapress.com. The book is nearly ready in the US but a publishing glitch has delayed it. We'll let you know as soon as it is available.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 118

Dear Friends,

"October 4th is a very special day. It is the 8th anniversary of my accident!" I was talking with my nurse during my regular morning bath. She was shocked that I saw this anniversary as a special day. To her it all seemed a tragedy. "Oh yes," I continued, "you see it is cause for celebration when God gives you a new life. I was going in one direction and suddenly through one cataclysmic event my world was turned upside down. But you know with God, what seems upside down really means a new plan and new direction." I hadn't planned to say any of this, but as it came out of my mouth I realized the truth of it in a new way.

Eight years ago, as you know, I fell in our stairwell and broke my neck at the second vertebrae, leaving me a quadriplegic. My life for the following several years was a swirl that we had never imagined possible. And yet I found that His providence was working to bring about His own good purpose. I believe there are several factors that have brought me to where I am today: Father's love, grace, strength and courage, the love of my family and friends, and over all the ever sustaining prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:11 says, "You help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted to us in answer to the prayers of many." Paul is speaking here of the help given to him by the prayers of many people. My, that's how I feel! Through these years we have been sustained and helped, and our circumstances shaped, by your prayers. It is an awesome thing to realize that our prayers make such a difference. As we come to this 8th anniversary I am humbled--and ever so grateful for you who have supported us, loved us, and prayed for us.

What is on your heart today? What is that for which you are trusting God? You keep praying, and leave with the Father what only He can do. He will bring about the answer and unfold His own good purpose.

With our love,

Rebecca

P.S. -- My account of this experience, Falling into His Grace, is nearly complete, just awaiting some minor corrections. When it is available, we'll forward the details on how to get it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 117

Dear Friends,

This is Paul! Rebecca's reflections are below. We want to take this opportunity to share some wonderful news. Vlatko and Susannah arrive in a few minutes after having spent a month in North America. Susannah will stay in Brussels for her usual week-a-month at the Parliament. Vlatko and I both leave tomorrow. But there's one more bit of joyful information, or should I say one more little person who is coming with them to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Yes, they are expecting their first child in February. They, and we, are thrilled. We will definitely keep you posted on this news!

From Rebecca

Sparkling brown eyes and always a ready smile, this darling young lady has been my almost-constant companion, "my hands and feet", and has become a joy to our household and a precious friend. This is Anna Kopechek, my present caregiver (until tomorrow, as today is her last day). I am so humbled to tell the story of my caregivers.

Early after my coming home from hospital we realized that a quadriplegic must have one person whose job description be to take care of me. Where would we ever find someone to fill that place? At that time I felt the Lord spoke to me and said, "It will be My joy to give them to you. As they care for you they will be caring for Me". In Matthew 25:40 it says, "I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren you did it to Me". And we have seen provision, one after another, of beautiful men and women.

What exactly does Anna do all day? We work together doing all that is required for "the busiest quadriplegic" my nurses have ever seen. My caregiver cares for all my physical needs. She helps our nurse morning and evening in getting me ready for the days and nights. She oversees and organizes my huge supply of medicines--and makes sure I take them. She prepares my meals for me, fills my glasses, opens my curtains and turns on the TV. We write, working on the computer and handwriting notes. We work in the garden and serve tea to my guests. We care for my birds and animals. We laugh and we pray; she supports me when I cry, and encourages me when I need to be encouraged. Notice, I write "we" do all of these things. That is a joke between us; I think of everything that should be done and the others get to do it. And there are hundreds of things to do every day.

Anna is one of so many precious "gifts" the Lord has sent in the amazing flow of care-givers during these last years. I really wish I could write about each one of the delightful, servant-hearted treasures whom He has placed in our lives. All of our caregivers have supported me in ways that I have only begun to enumerate here. How deeply grateful and blessed I am. How thankful I am for, and to, each one. And all have become dear friends.

I'm reminded of the Scripture in Matthew when Jesus turns to His disciples and said, "Who ever desires to become great among you let him be your servant...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26, 28). May the Lord give us all opportunities this week to serve, to lay down our way and to give ourselves to another's need. In doing this we will have the privilege of caring for the Lord Himself.
I'm happy to announce that my book, after many delays, is on the verge of being available. Here's a picture of the cover. We'll be sending out details shortly.

With love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 116

20 July, 2009

Summer has come again to our garden. I sat this morning beneath the tall pines with sun-spots playing on their trunks. Now you might imagine this to be a tranquil garden; but this morning we were bothered? entertained? (I'm reaching for the right verb) by the magpies on the tiptop of the trees. Were they courting? Were they arguing? With magpies you never know as everything they do is a screeching squawk. The bird books say they like to nest in the tallest tree. I fear our pines are the perfect place for them. And so in the "quiet" of my garden I waited for the Lord.

I turned to Psalm 40 - the next one for my day. David was waiting too. He begins, "I waited patiently for the Lord." Isn't that funny? David waited patiently as if the Lord wasn't at home. Perhaps He was out to lunch, or busy in a meeting.

Meanwhile, the Lord inclines towards him. I love the word "incline"! It means to stoop towards or to bend down. It carries with it the idea of listening carefully. "He heard my cry." It goes on, "He brought me up, set my feet on a rock, put a song in my mouth." Let's jump down to verse five, "Many oh Lord…are your thoughts towards me. They cannot be recounted. If I were to declare and speak of them they are more than can be numbered." And then in verse 17 David ends the Psalm, "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks upon me."

Now this struck me that my dear Father--the God of the universe--is thinking about me this morning. I'm waiting patiently for Him while He's already thinking carefully about me. Our thoughts are the precursors for our actions. Action is rooted initially in a thought. Before we act, we think. The two are connected. Father is the same. He thinks about us and then He does that which is needed in our lives. Such comfort and joy! Verse 16, "Let those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, 'the Lord be magnified!'"

As you go about your summer day, whether working in the garden, in your job, or resting on the beach, Father is thinking about you, ready to act on your behalf.

Love to you all,

Rebecca

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,

Rebecca

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,

Rebecca

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 113

Dear Friends,

This is Paul! Rebecca will write a "Journey" update tomorrow, but I wanted to get a little information to you regarding our daughter's wedding and the trip.

Rebecca's first flights in nearly 8 years went well, though not without several complications. (I think these are just the realities of life for which we are to give thanks and exercise faith.) We have been home now for 3 days, and Rebecca is doing remarkably well--His grace really is sufficient for all things!

The wedding ceremony, on 16 May, took place in the Orthodox Cathedral in Skopje, the capital. (Macedonia is an historically Orthodox country.) It was presided over by the Arch-Bishop and the Bishop, with a number of priests. The Orthodox Church uses no instruments, so the magnificent choir provided music throughout, including music for Susannah and me to process. It was a beautiful ceremony, Biblically rich and resplendent with mystery, metaphor, and meaning.

That evening there was a dinner up on the mountain overlooking Skopje, hosted by Vlatko's father. Vlatko and Susannah stood together above the building, by an 8th century monastery, receiving each of the 550+ guests, and being photographed with each couple as they arrived with flowers and gifts. The photographs were distributed to each guest by the end of the evening.

The band was one of the best in Macedonia, and they played none-stop from 8 o'clock PM till after 1 o'clock in the morning. Much dancing and celebration! Among the guests were the Macedonian President, Prime Minister, President of the Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentarians, the American Ambassador to Macedonia, and the Macedonian Ambassador to the US. What a happy and blessed occasion! There are so many more details which we'll try to share in future "Journey" updates.

Of course the press was at the events, and the videos were shown on the evening news, and photos were in many of the newspapers, including two front-page.

Susannah's photographer has posted some preliminary photos, including some which were published in the newspapers, on her blog: http://www.andrejkaphotographyblog.com

Look under archives for Macedonian wedding. The rest of the 1500 photos will be edited and put on a web-site in 4 to 6 weeks. We'll let you know when and where.

It was a joy to see so many of you at the wedding. Many thanks!

Love to all,

Paul and Rebecca

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 112

Dear Ones,

Often at night, just before bed, my caregivers and I have quiet moments together to pray and share. One of the characteristics of Stacey, my present caregiver, is her wonderful ability to ask poignant questions, questions that stimulate thought and conversation. The other night she said, "Where is your quiet, safe place?" She was thinking perhaps the garden, the seaside, or a quiet room. My immediate response was, "My quiet, safe place is within". As I explained, I remembered when it all began.

It was more than twenty years ago and Paul was in a very difficult time in his life. He had experience classic burnout. It was a terrible time for me, too. I have always said that one of the hardest things for a woman is to see her man in great pain. Paul had always been there for me, always taken care of me, and always led me. And now he was unable to do that.

One afternoon we had laid down to take a nap. He had his back turned to me and was sleeping. I began to weep. I felt afraid and disoriented, yet I had to be strong. We had two pre-teens, a toddler, and a baby. They desperately needed me. I had to find the resources to be what I needed to be in that hour. As I laid there weeping, I began to hear the Lord speak. He simply said, "Run to Me, run to Me". How can I explain it? As I ran to Him, He was there for me. We got through that time, day by day, and powerfully. Paul rested and recovered and, miraculously, I had all that I needed. I made a wonderful discovery: I could run to Him, my high tower, my hiding place, the One who prepared me, strengthened me and enabled me. It's a miracle!
You've heard me say that after my accident I was in blinding pain, disoriented, confused, and, in the beginning, really had no sense of the Lord's presence. But, I had a secret! I knew where to hide my soul. I ran to Him. I said, "Lord, I don't know where You are. I don't know what has happened to me. What is this blinding pain? Why can't I move my body? But, I run to You! Do for me! I know You are good. I run to You."

The other day I was in reading Psalm 143: 8-10, "For in You I trust. Cause me to know the way to walk, for I lift up my soul to You. In You do I take shelter. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. For I am Your servant."
Today is a lovely, quiet day - beautiful spring! We are preparing for ME to go to Macedonia for our precious Susannah's wonderful wedding. Now what quadriplegic do you know who travels like this? It's an adventure, and it's a bit terrifying! But, I have a quiet place for my soul. I know where to run and He will enable and give me all that I need.

Run to Him today. Give Him your shaky places. Give Him your broken places. Let Him work his miracle for you.

All my love, Rebecca

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 111

As you know from reading earlier letters, I love the beginning of months, and my favorite beginning is April. The garden is magical. The Mirabella is in full bloom--a cloud of white blossom. The daffodils are marvelous and the pear tree, right outside my window, is ready to burst into bloom.

These days I find myself with praise welling up. Surely He calls us to Himself, and when I come near to Him, I cannot help but praise.

After the accident, six months in the hospital, and a year in rehab, it was finally time for me to come home. We realized there was no place in our house for me to "be." We decided to build a new room. Fortunately, we had space in the back garden. My room was designed and soon became a reality. Paul had said that since I loved the garden, I must live there. So they built my room with two walls of windows. On the south side, the pear tree is so close that one can reach out the window and touch it. At the time of the construction, the architect said, "That pear tree has got to go; it is too close." I disagreed and asked that it might stay. It has thrived!

In all of this, I am reminded of Psalm 42:8. "The Lord commands His loving kindness in the day, and in the night His song will be with me." "Command" is such a strong verb, requiring action to be taken for good toward us. And in the night, when my door closes and I am alone, my room becomes my sanctuary. When I am unable to sleep, His song is there. I love those times! I sing and sing. Now I have never been a musician, so it is truly a "joyful noise." I always have the sense of Father's pleasure as we fellowship together.

As we begin this new month, I pray that you will have the perspective of Psalm 42:8. May you have eyes to see His loving kindness towards you, and the ability to recognize and pull up that song that is hidden in your heart. May the joy of spring and of new beginnings be yours today.

Love,

Rebecca

Hi, this is Paul. We are now just 6 weeks away from Susannah's wedding. It will be in Skopje, Macedonia--and Rebecca will go. She will fly down, and some friends will drive her van down. The friends in Macedonia are being wonderfully helpful.

And, Rebecca's book, "Falling Into His Grace" ... I know hope deferred makes the heart sick. :<) But we do anticipate that the book will be on the market this spring. The last editing, which was done in December, resulted in changes in the book that have taken a while to implement. But it will come!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 110

Judy came into my room this morning and said, "The birds were singing early!" Last evening we remarked that the days are longer. There is an expectant air of spring. What could be more welcoming? I am so amazed at Father's beautiful plan for the seasons. Paul is in The Netherlands. Judy, Anna, Annie, and I are holding down the fort at home. I have been thinking and praying for all of you, and realize it has been a while since you heard from me.

Spring is a season which we always associate with love. We just celebrated Valentines Day - it was the 44th anniversary of Paul's and my engagement. Paul and I went out to lunch Sunday to celebrate. On the day I received two-dozen beautiful, long stemmed, pink roses (my favorite). As I read Psalm 40 today I saw it as a celebration of love. It begins, "I waited for the Lord, and He inclined to me." And it ends in verse 16 and 17 saying "Rejoice! I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks upon me."

He develops these ideas throughout the Psalm. In verse five the Psalmist said, "Many Oh Lord are Your wonderful works and Your thoughts toward me. They are more then can be numbered." Can you imagine that the God of the universe, the One who flung out the stars and orders the nations, is thinking about me? Is thinking about you? That is a wonderful comfort to me. What a marvelous reality. The writer even goes on to say, "My ears You have opened." I cry with him, "Lord, open my ears."

I am thinking about a new book; I am not sure, but it might be, "When God Speaks." I want to recall those marvelous moments when I have heard clearly what Gods is saying to me. Hearing clearly brings us to verse eight, "I delight to do Your will."

Your thoughts are toward me, and that results in Your speaking. My ears are open, and that results in my hearing, which leads to my doing.

As spring begins, we are poised toward You and find that You are poised toward us. We wait with anticipation for all that will unfold

The month of May will be a very special month for this household. My book, "Falling into His Grace," should be out and available through Amazon. Our bigger news, however, is that on May 16, in Skopje, Macedonia, our daughter Susannah will be married to Vlatko Georgev. Vlatko is a Member of the Macedonian Parliament. He is a strong faithful man of God, who loves our Susannah dearly. I have never known her to be happier. We are all thrilled and planning my trip to Macedonia for the wedding. What an expedition! I thank you for your prayers.

Bless you in His grace,

Rebecca

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rebecca's Journey - 109

3 February, 2009

Dear Friends,

This is Paul writing. I depart this morning for a 10 day trip, leaving Rebecca in the good care of Judy, Annie, and Anna.

Below is a commentary by Matthew Henry. Included in it are thoughts by our friend William Watts, an attorney from Mobile, which he sent out for New Year. I forwarded it to some friends who pray for us, and one of them edited and cleaned up the appearance for printing. I got this version last night and thought you all might be blessed and encouraged by it.

Rebecca will probably write again later this week.

Love from her and me,

Paul
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Bill Watts

The Pleasantness of a Religious Life: A Puritan's View of the Good Life, by Matthew Henry. He wrote one of the all-time classic commentaries on the Bible. This little book was one of the last he wrote, in 1714, and was designed as an appeal particularly to "Young People," who, in their pursuit of pleasure, failed to consider adequately the pleasures of life with God, what Henry calls a "religious" life, in a day and age when the word "religion" did not have all the negative connotations it has for Jesus' followers today. As I read it, I was reminded of John Piper's book, Desiring God, and his defense of "Christian hedonism," i.e., God is most glorified in my life when I am most satisfied with Him.

The book is a wonderful read and I found particularly appealing his seven "directions" in the last chapter for increasing the pleasures of our life with God. It seemed good that I put down these seven directions for greater pleasure, and add one of my own which the Lord has been showing me, as a way of encouraging all of us to pursue God with greater eagerness this coming year. As Henry says, "What yields delight cannot but attract desire...religion has pleasure on its side...Here is a bait that has no hook under it...a pleasure that God himself invites you to, and which will make you happy, truly and eternally happy..."


The Pleasantness of a Religious Life: A Puritan's View of the Good Life

  1. Keep up good and true thoughts of God and guard against hard or false thoughts of Him. The mind, and where we place our thoughts, is the fundamental place of freedom in our lives. And unless we get our beliefs right, the rest will not come along. How easily we can slip into thinking uncharitably about the God who is Charity (Agape) Himself. ("I knew you were a hard Master and so I hid my talent"). What happiness and pleasures we loose in thinking harshly of the One who for our sakes gave up everything, that we might be reconciled to Him. Or perhaps, in our lethargy, we begin to take the opposite tack and think of Him as a friend not only of sinners but of sin, as One who is indifferent to whether His will is done. To think about our Father aright will increase our security and joy in Him.
  2. Dwell upon the promises of God, embracing them by faith as given to you personally. Peter tells us that we have these "exceedingly great and precious promises" as the means of partaking of the divine nature. (II Peter 1:4). The divine nature is received and planted and blooms in us by our living on the basis of promise. We relate to God, we encounter God, we are transformed into His likeness, by embracing His promises, trusting Him through His promises. How great is the comfort and happiness of the one who truly knows and rests in those promises. Don't let them go.
  3. Do not make the easy yoke of Christ a burden; be not "overdoing in well-doing." The pleasant way is the way of wisdom. Wisdom dwells with Prudence. Prudence recognizes that to everything there is a season, a time to labor and a time to rest, a time to feast and a time to fast. Doing things out of time, or undertaking things beyond our strength is like over-driving the flocks in one day. Learning to be with Christ in the yoke is a whole lot easier and more pleasant than trying to do for Christ outside that yoke.
  4. Walk in love; maintain spiritual communion with the saints, being of one mind and heart . "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). Be of one mind with others. Find the place of agreement. Avoid quarrels and disputes. Paul exhorts us, "Aim at restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace"; and the result is "the God of love and peace will be with you" (II Cor 13:11) It is psychologically impossible to have one attitude towards God and another towards others. Our life with God cannot be pleasant if our life with others is filled with strife and contention. If we love and enjoy our friends, this will add to the pleasure of enjoying God in this world. "Love itself sweetens the soul, and revives it, drawing love to itself like a magnet, it fetcheth in the further pleasure and satisfaction of being beloved, and so it is a heaven on earth; for what is the happiness and pleasure of heaven but that there love reigns in perfection. Then we have most peace in our bosoms, when we are most peaceably disposed towards our brethren." (Henry)
  5. Be much in the exercise of holy joy; employ yourself much in praises to God. "Joy is in the heart of praise, as praise is the language of joy." (Henry) It is God's command that we "rejoice", and so important that "again" He says "rejoice" (Phil 4:4). By doing so, all other duties become pleasant to us. "Let us live a life of delight in God, and love to think of Him as we do of one whom we love and value" (Henry) Let every stream of earthly delight lead us back in gratitude to the Fountain and Spring of those delights. Do our hearts rise in delight at a sunset? Let us praise the Artist of that great canvass in the sky. And if the stream runs dry, let us hike back up the stream bed, do some climbing, until we find the Spring itself. For even the barren times are meant to bring us into a season of deeper and richer delights, finding our satisfaction more and more in God Himself. "We should have more pleasure in our religion, if we had but learned 'in everything to give thanks' (I Thes. 5:18) for that takes out more than half the bitterness of our afflictions, that we can see cause even to be thankful for them." (Henry) He who knows that "all things work together for the good of those who love God" (Rom 8:28) can find the place to sing praises even in the midst of trouble. So, let us make it our intention this year to "rejoice in the Lord always"
  6. Let us act in constant dependence upon Jesus. We are faced with the choice every day to live on the prideful basis of our own flesh, our own strength, or on the basis of the grace that God would give to us, as His humble ones, through Jesus Christ. Jesus was to be the "consolation" of Israel." And He will be so to us, when we have learned not to look for that in ourselves, which is to be had only in Him." (Henry) The secret of contentment, in good times or bad times, is to do all things "through Him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)
  7. Let us converse much with the glory that is to be revealed. When I go hiking, I like to have a destination, like a waterfall, something glorious at the end of the trail. The anticipation of beholding it makes the journey itself pleasant. A joy anticipated is a joy experienced. "Let us look much to the end of our way, how glorious it will be, and that will help to make our way pleasant.... By frequent meditations on the rest that remains for the people of God (Heb 4:3) we now enter that rest, and partake of the comfort of it.... That is the sweetest joy within us, which is borrowed from the joy set before us" (Henry). The lie the Enemy will give to our senses is that our best years are over. The truth is "the best is yet to come." We have been given a future beyond our wildest imagination. Can we more deeply engage our imaginations with this future that lies before us?

Let us step into Jesus' mission for us to go into the world to make disciples. As one last "direction" for increasing our pleasure and delight in God this coming year, I wanted to add one of my own to Henry's list. I save it for the end because I think our devotion to God, as practiced in the above steps, must always precede toward and prepare us for service for God. We must have a vision to become more like Jesus. Then we will do more readily and joyfully what He did and does, and what He would have us do. But now, in this posture and vision as His disciple being with Him, learning to be like Him, I am ready to hear and enter into Psalm 16:11 which says "At Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." Where is pleasure found? At God's right hand. This is the place of God's authority and power. This is the place of God's activity. David says a little earlier in this Psalm, "I have set the Lord always before me" and "He is at my right hand." So the Lord is at David's right hand and David is at the Lord's right hand. The place of increasing joy and delight in our walk with God will be the place where our activity on earth is God's activity on earth, where what God wants done gets done by what we do. I have often thought and prayed, "Lord, just show me what you are doing and I will join in." But lately I am beginning to think that I will only see what God is doing as I do the good that is set before me to do. I can't answer the question of what God is doing from my armchair, or listening to someone else's opinion, but only on the field of my activity, at the place where I act and see God act with me.

So, can we agree to take some more risks this year in seeking to transform the world around us? We can all surely begin to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest. And I would bet the Lord might answer those prayers by showing us a field of our own, a place of labor, where we will experience the joy of our Master, extending His kingdom.

We can't do any of this on our own. New Year's resolutions are worthless unless you tell someone what they are and invite them to hold you accountable to your resolution. So find one or two others you can meet regularly with this year, before God and before each other, in sincerity and truth. And greater delight in our lives with God will be our portion.

--------------------------------------
This is Paul again! Many thanks to Bill Watts! And a blessed and Happy New Year to you too.

Love to all, from Rebecca and me,

Paul

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 108

Dear Friends,

The tree is up! The house is decorated! We are waiting for our son, Stephen, who arrives tomorrow - our youngest and the first of our children to come home for the holidays. All the family will be together this year. That will surely be our gift to one another.

Every December I read the Christmas story again, day after day, in one translation after another. This year I have been struck by the genealogy in Matthew. We see generation after generation of men and women serving the Lord and building toward an ultimate purpose, toward the revelation of the Son of God. I couldn't help but think of the generations, small though they are, of my own family and Christmas.

When my Mother was little, after her father's death, her mother took in boarders. One Christmas season Mamma saw, in the window of the local general store, a most beautiful doll. That was all she wanted for Christmas. Her mother despaired because she could never afford it. But happily two of Momma's aunts, Daisy and Wilma, together bought the doll and gave it to Mamma for Christmas. All my childhood, Daisy Wilma's china head (for that's all that was left of her) lived in the top drawer of Mammas big chest. It was always a special moment when I could take her out and look at the beautiful Daisy Wilma.

And then I think of my Father, born in 1899, who at 17 went into the military to serve his country in World War I. I think of his Christmas, fighting for his life, in the trenches.

Then there are memories of my own childhood Christmases: making Christmas cookies with Aunt Jean, and the Christmas trees that were always in the same corner of the living room. I wonder how many years it fell over. I can remember, like it was yesterday, lying on the couch with my head on Mammas lap. The room was darkened except for the glow of the tree, "Let's stay up and look at the tree just a little longer."

The Christmas of 1950 was the year my father died. I was only five and my sister Judy 11. What a difficult Christmas that must have been for Mother. She never let us know, but she made it a wonderful Christmas for us girls even in her pain.

And then our own children! So many memories flood in! There was the year we put Susanna's new kitten in a box tied with a ribbon! When she opened the lid the cat jumped out and ran straight to the top of the Christmas tree. We should have known then that we were trouble with that cat.

Giving the wrong gift to a child! One year we gave Matt the same sweatshirt two years in a row. I had brought it back with us to the States the next summer, and then wrapped up mistakenly and gave it to him again the following year. With an expression of astonishment on his face he said, "My sweatshirt! I had wondered where it had gone." Oh I fear I have done it all. But we laughed a lot and enjoyed being together and sharing in the wonderful birth of our Redeemer and Friend, Jesus.

I can never forget my Christmas in the ICU. I lay with tubes everywhere, in pain and a swirl of reality. It was hard for me to not be able to do Christmas for my children and family. But oh of course, they did Christmas for me! They brought a little Christmas tree and sat with me and we sang carols and exchanged gifts together. Laura, my friend, came in one day with a very special gift that has become a life long treasure. She had been worked busily on a patchwork quilt, sending patches to hundreds of my friends. Each one wrote a beautiful word and expression of hope. Front and back were covered with the prayers and love of my friends. What an encouragement, what a faith builder! A Christmas etched in pain.

Christmases come and go. I pray that this year you will be able to create a memory for those you love. There is no greater gift we can give one another.

Paul and I want to thank you for your faithfulness and love. You have followed me on my journey, and supported me in prayer and love. Such an expression of the body of Christ as we stand together in Him.

Love, and Merry Christmas!

Rebecca

PS We are still working on the final editing of the manuscript of my book. The name of it is Falling into His Grace. It is a labor of love of many. Winston Churchill wrote: "Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress; and then it becomes a master; and then a tyrant."

We're at the "tyrant" stage, so it should be through soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 107

November 14, 2008

It is a crystal clear autumn day. My little birds are busily eating at the peanut feeder. I'm sure that when the weather is like this the little guys want to eat often. Oh, Father, may I be the same!

We are all well! Please pray this month as preparations wind up for the European Prayer Breakfast, 2-3 December. We are also in the final stages before the release of my book, Falling into His Grace. It's an exciting time and we will shortly give you information for ordering the book. I trust it will be a blessing to you and to many.

For years the Lord has spoken to me about my mind. In Matthew 15, Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get behind me Satan. You are not mindful of the things of God but of the things of man". I read this verse again the other morning and it has stayed with me ever since. Years ago I prayed, "Lord change my mind, and teach me what is good". Paul and I have known since we were young that the principle spiritual battleground is in our mind. It's there that the enemy places an impression, a word, or an accusation. I hate that the enemy often puts these thoughts in the first person? "I look really fat today." "I'm sure they are talking about me." "God must be angry with me." Oh Lord, give me Your mind, give me Your thoughts.

Jesus goes on and says, "To do the things of God you must lay down your life and take up your cross and follow Me." Could this be the way to have the mind of Christ? When I lay down my own way, lay down my own life, give up the struggle, the selfishness, or my own opinion, perhaps it is then that I can receive His mind.

In Ephesians 4 Paul says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." Here Paul is talking about humility! To lay down my own way is an expression of this humility. It is pride that causes me to hold onto the things that I think. Pride KNOWS that I am right. Peter's pride that day KNEW that Jesus should never die.

Lord, give me Your mind. Show me when my thoughts are the thoughts of men. Teach me to lay down my own way and receive Your mind and Your thoughts.

Wow! I'm feeling such an urgency to have His mind and think His thoughts these days as we go into the holidays when the pace of life increases. I want to maintain His peace and His joy in the very center of my person. I desire to keep my focus on Him. Lord I ask You to take my pride give me opportunities to lay down my own way, and in that process give me Your mind and Your thoughts.

Love to all,

Rebecca

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 106

15 October, 2008

Dear Friends

The other evening Paul and I had a fight. We've known well for years that we must forgiven each other and come to some resolve before we go to bed. (Yes, we have had many very late nights!) It was a hard evening, but a good one, and we went to bed at peace. This morning I was in my quiet time when he came in, dressed in suit and tie on his way to the Parliament. He gathered me in his arms, expressed his love and commitment, and asked me again to forgive him. Of course I did, but, I really think I needed to ask forgiveness from him more than he from me. He left and I turned back to my quiet time. The Lord led me to Ephesians four and five. I know these scriptures are so familiar, but oh, it was as if I'd never read them. "Let no corrupt word (my Bibles' notes say 'corrupt' is literally 'decayed, rotten, as used for spoiled meat') proceed out of your mouths." (Eph. 4: 29).

Oh Lord, my words must have smelled terrible to You!

And then He goes on in chapter 5, "...walk in love, for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth ... find out what is acceptable to the Lord". From verse 15 and on, "Walk carefully, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, and understand what the will of the Lord is."

Oh, Lord, what a wonderful goal, and what a high goal. It really is reflective of You!

For many years I have said that my life is a miracle, and I am so aware that if there is anything good it's a miracle of His grace changing me. I am encouraged because he is faithful and good. Change always begins when He reveals to me what is in my heart. Rather than being discouraged when I see my sin, I need to be greatly encouraged because that means it's on the way out. His Spirit is there filling me with Himself, and progressively making all the changes of Ephesians 4 and 5.

With love, Rebecca

From Paul: Part of His faithfulness is revealed in the wonderful people He sends to help care for Rebecca and be part of our live here. Anna Kopechek is here now, from Columbus, Ohio. She is one of these lovely young women whom the Father has sent. Our thanks to her folk, her family, and her church.

I leave day after tomorrow for 2 and a half weeks in North America. If you think of it, please keep us in your prayers.

Paul

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 105

9 September, 2008

Dear Friends,

These days our minds and hearts here are filled with "journeying" as we finish the last details of my book, Rebecca's Journey. It should be released this autumn. We'll certainly keep you posted.

Once again we're in days of transition as dear Amber and Rachel have finished their time here as my care-givers and new folks will be coming in. The Lord has been so faithful and we are seeing Him supply the needs. As I write this, Paul is on his way home from a trip to the States where he has seen many of you. I'm looking forward, of course, to seeing him!!

I've been reading the Book of Acts recently. It's a real joy, since I haven't read Acts for years. My thoughts on journeying have been confirmed as I've read about the Apostle Paul's. It is a wonderful picture of God's faithfulness and purpose out-worked in one life. It causes me to think of many of you and of your journeys. Each of you is in a different place, many spread around the world, and I believe that today Father would encourage you that He has chosen you, has called you to walk where you are, and has given you the power to recognize His hand working in your life. He is unfolding for you His good purpose to use you and to extend His kingdom.

Ananias, in speaking to Paul after he had been blinded on the way to Damascus, touched his eyes and said,
"The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and hear words from His mouth. For you will be His witnesses to all men of what you have seen and heard." (Acts 22:14-15)
With these words, Paul received his sight and went on to fulfill God's purpose for his life. These events also set the course for the church and the Kingdom of God for all of us. As I continued reading on from Acts 22, I was struck with God's faithfulness expressed in every way. From Governors to Kings, Paul walked through whatever doors God opened and he spoke the truth of the revelation of Jesus, and of the things that he had seen and heard.

The chapter goes on to speak of "4 days later..., 2 weeks later..., 3 weeks later...". I suddenly realized through all of this that Paul was sitting in prison. Was he quietly waiting for God's purpose to unfold? Was he always full of confidence? Or did he have moments of wondering if God had left and abandoned him? I can't help but think of my own "imprisonment". But God's good purpose continues to unfold - regardless of our earthly circumstances . We see God's faithfulness every day, even when it's hard to comprehend and we are confined by "prison bars".

Let us take every opportunity to express His life wherever God opens the door. We must remember that He is faithful throughout our journey. Even through difficult and hard things, we can rest in Him; trusting His goodness.

My love to you all,

Rebecca

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 104

6 September, 2008

This is just a quick note to give thanks to God for His faithfulness. As most of you know, Amber and Rachel, Rebecca's two lovely recent care-givers, have gone, and we had no one on the screen for the next season. I have a packed travel schedule for this autumn, and we didn't see what the next step was to be.

Then two lovely ladies from Cleveland, Sue Postle and Debbie Piper, committed themselves to come from 9 to 30 September.

And just today we heard from Anna Kopechek, the daughter of long-standing friends, that she will come from the end of the month to mid-December. Anna is the sister of Mary Beth Kopechek who cared for Rebecca last year. (Many thanks, Jack & Lynn for raising such a wonderful family!)

How faithful is our Father, and how deeply He works that faithfulness into His family. We are grateful!

Judy arrived back yesterday - a great joy!

Love to all,

Paul

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 103

Dear friends,

We have a matter for urgent prayer and consideration by everyone. For the first time since my accident, we are coming upon a change in season without the help that we need. Amber and Rachel are my dear caregivers and have finished their time with us. Amber left this week, and Rachel will be leaving next week (Sept. 3rd). We are without caregivers to take their place.

I'm excited to see what Father will do and I know He is not surprised. He knows our need even before we ask. Please pray with us and wait with us in expectation to see how Father will fill this need.

Amber and Rachel have been such a blessing to us. We are so thankful for them and wish them God's blessing and best as they continue their journey. The number of my caregivers is so great - a marvelous list of faithful brothers and sisters. I love you each as if you were my own. Paul and I are coming to the end of this "quieter" month. He had trips to Macedonia and Estonia while he was "resting" :) Pray for us as Paul will be going into one of his busiest times ever at the Parliament. Thank you for your faithfulness in standing with us.

All my love,Rebecca

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 102

(At the end of this post are pics from the Christmas season)

9 August, 2008

Dear Friends,

These days in my garden are idyllic. I make my way each morning to the bottom of the garden for my quiet time. The little day school behind our house is on vacation, so the mornings are deliciously quiet. How can I tell you the beauty of those hours with my Father! Recently I've found myself expressing the beauty of my garden in a poem. It's in very loose form and I'm not really a poet, but I'll send you my little offering with all my love. I trust your summer has been, and will be, filled with quiet hours before the throne as well.

Rebecca - "In My Garden"

For church bells pealing the hours of my reverie
I thank You

For leaden skies that do not rain
I thank You

For tall straight pines,
Green cathedral overhead
I thank You

For Mirabella robed in spring-time white
I thank You

For birdsongs' sweet cacophony
I thank You

For tall, pink tulips waving in spring-fresh air
I thank You

For golden sun spots stealing cross new-mown grass
I thank You

For Hydrangeas piled in blue profusion
I thank You

For the slug-war's general, night robe flapping in the morning air
I thank You

For heavy jacket, blankets piled, and mittened hands
I thank You

For loving hands bringing steaming cups of tea
I thank You

For winters blast - driven in at last,
My garden now through window pane
I thank You

For You, Yourself - the reason that I come
Your Presence, Person, and Word
I praise You

Dear all, this is Paul.

First a little explanation: Rebecca's delightful poem follows the seasons, and (hmmm) I'm the slug war General.

Shortly after the last Rebecca's Journey was sent out I received a phone call from our daughter - who had just read my comments about her new job in Macedonia. She jokingly said I made it sound like she was the new Macedonian Ambassador. (Sorry, Darling!!) She asked that I send a clarification. Susannah's OKed this one.

Susannah is working as a "Foreign Associate" in Macedonia's Foreign Ministry. Because of her experience in the European Parliament, she will primarily be working to lobby on behalf of the country through her contacts and relationships within the European Institutions.

I'm actually in Skopje at the moment, having arrived yesterday afternoon. It was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit here. Susannah has a stand-alone AC unit in her D/LR, but the bedrooms were hot. I'm going to buy her fans today.

The inside of the apartment is charming. The outside - an old Communist block building from the '70s; unkempt commons areas; large commercial dumpsters right out front, with people going through them searching for anything they can use; walkways in disrepair; no lock, or even handle, on the front door; the entry has yellow mailboxes - most without keys, old stairs with tiles off the wall and floor; and the ceiling light doesn't work. The elevators (antiques) are tiny and poorly lit.

Then we enter Susannah's place - completely redone, with a red tile floor. It also has decorative tiles outlining the L&D areas. While she was at work yesterday I re-arranged the furniture and the wall hangings, odds & ends. I must say it looks lovely - and balanced. (That's my thing!)

We went out to dinner last evening to a little restaurant in the neighbourhood. This afternoon I'll go get her a mirror, waste baskets, etc. Will be fun!

We'll try to take lots of pics and hope to get some of them out to you. We are excited for Susannah as she takes this next step in her journey.

Love from Rebecca and me,

Paul







Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 101

Dear Friends,

Rachel, Rebecca's new care-giver, arrived this morning. She is a delight! She and our other care-giver, Amber, have been friends for years. Annie is vacationing with her brothers in France. Susannah is in Macedonia signing her contract. She will move to the capital, Skopje, later this month to begin a new job working for the Macedonian Foreign Minister as their Representative to the European government. Her new boss wants her in Brussels every month - and we're not complaining!

From Rebecca: July has come and we have begun the lovely days of summer. (Our weather here in Belgium doesn't reflect our mood of warmth and sun, but I trust the sun will shine and the temperatures will rise before summer's end.) For many of you these weeks will provide opportunities for quiet days and some rest and recuperation from the busyness of winter's activity. This year Paul and I, and our household, will be here at home resting in our garden. We look forward to those days in August.

As we all come into these weeks there are two things I look forward to. The first is that there will be more time to spend in Father's presence. Isn't it wonderful to have time to just BE with Him; listening to His voice?

I was reminded of the second thing the other day. I was reading in ll Samuel, chapter 3. In verse 3 David had just begun his reign over Israel. One of his first acts was to ask if was there still someone from the house of Saul "to whom I may show the kindness of God?" We can look each day for the opportunity to reveal His love to those whom He sends.

Some years ago we took a vacation in Turkey. It had been planned as a special time away with the boys. As I came into the dining room there one morning, I greeted the waitress. I felt so aware that God was smiling on her. I spoke to her and loved on her, and her response was beautiful. As I walked away I thought: I may never see her again. What good is it when I can't share Jesus with her? Then the Lord spoke to me so clearly: "But I love her, and I want to show her My kindness today."

As you go wherever He leads you this summer, remember each day, simply by being who you are in Him, you may show His kindness to those who don't know Him yet. Let Him love them through you. And we will do the same here.

Stephen will be here late July, and we're so anxious to see him.

Much love from us both,

Rebecca and Paul

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 100

Dear Friends,

Rebecca and I send our greetings! A transition has once more taken place. Mike and Sue Shirley have returned to the US. Our deepest thanks to them! It was wonderful to be together again after 40 years.

And Amber Compton arrived a few days ago. She'll be with us until the autumn. We've known her family for at least 30 years. She is another jewel that the Lord has sent.

Please be praying with us now for the care-givers the Lord will send in the autumn. Amber will be leaving early September. And the Lord has another jewel to send.

From Rebecca:

I've been in my garden this morning. I wore a light jacket - and it was too heavy! We are having beautiful summer days. Paul has hung a peanut bird feeder in the pear tree just outside my window. Yesterday the birds found it, and it is swarming with baby birds. This time of year the garden is alive with a cacophony of birdsong. It truly has become a sanctuary.

This past week has been another one of our transition weeks. Pray for us as these are always days of adjustment. Mike and Sue Shirley have finished their time and gone back to the States. They were such a blessing, and we thank the Lord for their lives. Amber Compton has come from Suffolk, Virginia. She is a daughter of our long-time friends Sam and Jennie Compton. Amber has just finished university and will be with us for three months. She is learning all the details of my care very quickly, and is a positive, caring, and delightful young lady. How can we be so blessed! And how thankful we are for Annie's faithful service and Judy's care and cooking in the kitchen!

Last night Amber and I were together just before turning out the lights. A merle noire (alpine blackbird) began to sing. Such a beautiful song! We were delighted. A few minutes later, we began to pray, thanking the Lord for the day and for His goodness. It swept over me as a fresh new reality: while we were delighted by the bird songs at the close of the day, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit were delighted with our prayer. Perhaps the Father said to Jesus, "O come quickly, they're singing an evening song."

Our prayers together are an expression of our delight and joy in Him. Over and over again the scriptures admonish us to be full of joy. He wants this to be one of the primary expressions of our lives. I don't know about you, but for me it's a miracle. My soul is not naturally joyful. When His love is deep and real (John 15) then joy is the result. You don't have to do anything, it just happens. It's like a deep well that gushes up. Some mornings when I wake up with heaviness, I go into His presence and He reminds me of how precious I am to Him. I leave that quiet hour, oh, and the joy is gushing. I am loved! I am precious! I am secure. How can one help but be joyful?

I think that this joy is one of the most outstanding things to our nurses. They can't figure us out. How can a household be so full of joy? (That doesn't mean we don't have our moments :<). How can someone in my situation experience joy? One nurse said the other evening, "This place is weird. I can't figure you all out." But she loves us and we love her. What an exciting adventure for us all.

This summer Paul and I will be staying pretty close to home. You know that suits me well. I'm sure many of you have lots of different plans. My prayer for you is that He will be the thread throughout. On your vacations, and in your gardens, and in your workplaces, He'll meet you in a special way. He'll be there with you, your families, and friends. He'll be the thread and His joy will overflow.

Love from us both,

Rebecca and Paul

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 99

23 May, 2008

Greetings Friends!

This is Paul, and I want to update you on two things before Rebecca shares her thoughts:

~Gabriella Elizabeth Petrie was born to Matt and Stephanie on 28 April. Mother, daughter, and Dad are all doing well! Steph and Gabi were home from the hospital in two days, even though Gabi was born a month before due date. We’ve set up a web cam, so Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Susannah were able to “visit” with our new Gabi and family last Saturday. It’s the next best thing to being there!

~And Rebecca’s book is moving along, slowly. (That seems to be the normal speed of this book - slow.) It is going through another editorial check; photos are being readied; the cover is being worked on. We’re looking now at print-on-demand; soon, we hope! We’ll keep you informed. I hope the “suspense” is just whetting your appetite.

From Rebecca: "Mike, quick, look at that bird. He’s huge, he’s brown, he has beautiful blue wing stripes. He’s a stellar jay. "

These days the Lord has been sending wonderful birds to our feeder. Nothing thrills a bird-watcher more than to coax a timid bird from the forest up to the feeder. As I was enjoying my birds this morning and thanking the Lord for them, He spoke and said, “As I send the birds to your feeder, so I am carefully calling and sending your caregivers.” Now I’m not comparing my caregivers to birds :<), but as the birds have been sent for my delight and enjoyment, so the Lord is carefully preparing my caregivers. Isn’t He amazing? The scripture says that before we even ask, His love prepares what we need.

My thoughts go in this direction because we are once again in the season of transition. Our recent caregivers have been Mike and Sue Shirley. Mike is a friend from our university days who retired 2 years ago. What a blessing they have been. Sue has cared for my needs and become a dear friend. Paul has been especially thankful for Mike. It has been great for him to have another man in the house. Mike and Sue’s final day with us will be the 1st of June.

Mike is gifted in writing and editing, and we have been working to finish the final editing on my book.

Our recent reconnection with Mike and Sue was quite a blessing. I’m going to let Mike tell you how that took place.

"Through the 40 plus years since I left university, I have often thought of Paul and Rebecca Petrie. But 8 months ago, for some reason, I Googled Paul’s name on the internet. I found a picture of a distinguished looking man. I was not sure it was Paul until I did further research and discovered “Rebecca’s Journey”. It was only then that I learned of Rebecca’s accident. I began corresponding with them by e-mail. When my wife Sue and I learned of the need for care-givers, we volunteered! It has been a joy to be with Rebecca and Paul and to renew our friendship.

"I had not seen Paul and Rebecca since we were teenagers! Yet, after 40+ years, it is as if that time gap has not existed. Surely, that’s a gift from a God of great grace!"

Rebecca again! I have recently heard a definition of that “great grace.” It is God working in us and for us. Surely our reconnection with Mike and Sue is that grace well-expressed.

The God of love has surrounded me with those who care for and love me. Not only do we have these dear personal caregivers, but also Annie, Judy, our daughter Susannah, and my beloved Paul. It takes a team!

This weekend, Paul is going to Montenegro for a gathering of Balkan leaders. This is such an important region of the world, and as you see things happening there on your nightly news, pray, and realize God is working there too.

Here in my garden spring is giving way to summer. The blossoms on the pear tree have fallen and now the green leaves of summer cover the tree. The tulips have come and gone, and this weekend we will fill our central flower bed with white, pink, and burgundy inpatients. These flowers herald the coming of summer for me. God’s good grace abounds! He is working for you today too. He is putting together all that you need as you serve Him where you are.

Love from Paul and me,

Rebecca

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 98

17 April, 2008

From Rebecca:

These days I have had on my heart those of you who are in difficulty or conflict. Seasons such as these will always come; and I promise you they will go. When we are in the midst of these times, they feel like they will last forever.

As I read Psalm 138, verse 7 and 8 this morning, my heart went out to those who are suffering. It begins, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies and Your right hand will save me."

The Psalmist clearly defines the situation. He's in the middle of trouble, with angry enemies out to get him. He also defines His hope and confidence in God to work redemptively in the challenges.

Verse 8: "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me." The dictionary says that "to perfect" means to accomplish, to finish, to fulfill, to bring to an end. It reminds me of Philippians 1:6: "He who begins a good work in you will complete it..." (bring it to an end).

"Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever." Here, the word mercy is "hesed", which is translated loving-kindness, unfailing love, or steadfast covenant love. It's similar to the New Testament word for grace. "Forever" means infinity. Referring to that infinite, everlasting expanse which God has created - the expanse of space and of time indicating the limitless dimensions in which God's sovereignty is displayed. As God is eternal, so is His mercy. It endures forever!

These thoughts come from my New King James Bible. It's strengthening to realize the everlasting nature of His love and kindness. Here we have a "view" from the midst of difficulties. When we feel the pressure, the tension, we need to look up and out toward Him and there we will find confidence in His everlasting love and kindness. He never changes. While we are bouncing around, He is the same.

Love to all,

Rebecca

And a little note from Paul: I leave tomorrow for 2 1/2 weeks. Annie, Mike & Sue will be caring for Rebecca. Please keep us all in your prayers.

Paul

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 97

5 April, 2008

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Genval, our little Belgian town. Spring seems to be well on its way. About a week ago, after the daffodils had bloomed, the forsythia was glorious, and the early fruit-tree blossoms were singing that warm weather was on its way, we had 4 inches of snow. It was quite a sight seeing the daffodils with high peaks of fluffy white stuff perched on each of their heads.

As I think you may know, a friend from college and his wife arrived mid-March to be Rebecca’s care givers for this period. It has been wonderful to renew our friendship, and to have another guy in the house. Mike and Sue have found the demands of Rebecca’s care to be more intense than had been expected. They are weary, and feeling that physically it isn’t doable for them to manage 3 months at this pace. So please be praying with us for God’s provision for someone who could come during the month of May. Our next scheduled care-giver arrives on 5 June. Mike and Sue have graciously and kindly said that they won’t leave us without some additional person. But physical limitations are real things. I’ll be out of the country from 15 April to 4 May. Please be praying for Annie, Mike, and Sue during this time as well.

From Rebecca: April 1st is one of my favorite days. I love the month of April! It comes in cold, as it was this morning, and departs warm in the full essence of spring. It always bears the promise of new life.

I’m sorry that it has been so long since I have written. The weeks have been full, and many of you know that I was quite ill for a long period. I had both bronchial and bladder infections, as well as a dangerously low sodium level. Since my diaphragm is partially paralyzed, the doctor’s greatest concern was that the infection would get into my lungs. (I don’t think Father was as afraid as they were :) He brought us through and I am well again, poised for spring!

I am challenged now to catch up on the activities that should have been done in the past month. And I must be sure that I do them with a peaceful heart. It just happens that in my quiet time, I have come to Hebrews. This morning in chapter four, the writer speaks of rest. “There is a rest prepared for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest (God’s rest) has also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9, 10)

When my faith rises, I am able to see clearly. I realize that all that needs to be done will get done. It will be accomplished in the Father’s time. From this perspective I am able to maintain my quiet heart. I remember one day when it came to me: “If it doesn’t get done today, I’ll do it another day.” Ah, what a relief! I get to do Father’s work at a quiet pace. The Kingdom does not depend on me.

Hebrew 4:16 is one of my favorite verses in all the scripture:

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Come boldly, freely, right up to Him who loves us. He is more desirous to help than we are to ask. O Father, change our minds, change our perception of You, that we might realize how ready You are to meet our needs. When we come to You, we will receive all that we need in the time that we need. What joy! What rest! In his love! Please pray with me that I’ll be able to stay in that place of confidence! That is not always easy, at least for me.

Thank you for your love and faithfulness. We remain yours in Him,

Paul and Rebecca

PS Paul again! Rebecca’s book has been presented to some publishers. Rebecca has received the first refusal. We have writer friends who have said they could paper their walls with letters of refusal. This is to be expected, but still is disappointing. We’ll see what He will do with this manuscript.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 96

30 January, 2008

Rebecca and I want to wish you all a belated New Year - as you'll see in her note below. In Europe it is appropriate to wish friends a Happy New Year until the end of January, so please receive a European-timed wish. (Whew! Just got in under the line!) - Paul.

Greetings from Brussels!

It is a very typical winter day in Belgium, grey and overcast. But I'm so glad to say that the weather doesn't reflect the condition of our souls. His joy under girds!

I'm sorry to be so long in getting this new "Rebecca's Journey" to you. I want to be sure to have it out in the month of January so that we can wish you a Happy New Year.

As you know, every January I always seek the Lord for what He is saying to me for the New Year. This year as I've prayed, He took me to Philippians 4:4-7.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus." (NIV)

What a marvelous command this is to me ... just what I need. It begins, "Rejoice in the Lord..." This is a great beginning for my day, every day. It goes on, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is at hand." Well, I understood the first part and I know I needed to show gentleness in every situation, but why is it followed by "The Lord is at hand"? As I pondered this, Father spoke and said, "You can only rejoice always and show gentleness because you know that I am at hand. That joy, born in confidence, produces gentleness."

Then He says, "Do not be anxious about anything." If He is the Lord, and He is at hand, then all I have to do is ask Him and He will care for all that concerns me. The result of this is that I we can take His joy and gentleness into everyday. I'm thankful to be thus armed as I go into the New Year.

Our days here are, as usual, busy. I have a new care-giver, Abigail Walk, from southwest Ohio. She is a beautiful redhead, and a joy. Once again I am blessed in the Father's faithfulness and care.

I received a lovely new blank journal from Annie for Christmas this year. I needed one which would lay flat. She searched until she found a most beautiful one.

When I fell and realized I could not write in my journals, I felt such despair. Journaling had been such an integral part of my quiet times. It has felt like a new beginning to be able to journal again. The writing is certainly not beautiful, but it's quite legible, and I feel as if I've made a new step. Such an adventure we have embarked upon.

Paul and I send our richest love to you and our prayer that you would be able to find for yourselves what the Father is saying to you for this New Year, 2008.

Love from us both,

Rebecca (and Paul)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 95

14 December, 2007

Dear Friends,

"My heart is steadfast O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise...
Awake, my soul! I will awaken the dawn."

Here in, Psalm 37, David tells us to sing to the Lord early in the morning and begin our day with praise and worship. One morning long ago in Bethlehem a baby boy was born. When this Child was given to mankind, the joy was so great that Heaven could not contain it and the angels burst forth to earth to sing praise and to worship, "Glory to God in the Highest...".

These days before Christmas, in my early morning hours, I find the angels' joy overflowing in my praise. I love using the traditional Christmas carols, along with made-up "carols" of my own. I'm always a little embarrassed when I realize that the girls in the kitchen sometimes hear me. But aren't we thankful that I can sing! It truly is a "joyful noise", but I believe my Father loves it and we rejoice together.

In these days before Christmas, when so much of the sound coming to our Father's ears is of disaster and tragedy, let us all bring joy to Him and join the angels with our singing and praise.

We at our household pray for you and yours a most blessed and rich celebration of our Savior's birth.

All my love,

Rebecca

From Paul!

We have some wonderful personal news. Our son, Matt, and his wife, Stephanie, will give birth to their first child in May. And thus present us with our first grand child! We are all thrilled and overjoyed, as any of you who are grand parents can understand. I have such vivid memories of Matt's birth in Germany in 1973. The doctors put him in my arms immediately after his birth. His little face and his expressions are indelibly printed on my memory - like it was yesterday. Now he and Steph will have a child of their own, and the same great joy!

Also, the Lord has again faithfully provided a care-giver for Rebecca for this next season. Abigail Walk arrives in Brussels, with her mother, Robin, on 11 January. Robin will stay for a few days. Abigail will be here for two months. And we are so grateful.

Please be praying with us for the next season, from early March. We, as yet, have no idea who may come at that time. But He does, so we are at rest.

Love, and a blessed and Happy Christmas,

Paul

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 94

15 November, 2007

Dear Friends,

Several days ago Paul and I made plans for me to host a group of friends here before a large event at the end of the month. As we talked, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I couldn't imagine myself doing it. :-) I know you are not surprised to hear this, but I know well enough to leave those "feelings" in the Father's hands.

About three days later, I awakened early in the morning in the Lord's presence. I thought about the luncheon and suddenly... it was okay. I felt confident that with Him I would be able to do it. Where had the change come from? Then I thought of one of my life verses from Philippians 2:13: "For it is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure".

My life has been a miracle! For many years the Lord has called me to do things that I felt were more than I was able to, and each time He changed that perspective in my soul and I found myself with abilities and grace that I knew were not from me. First He works to make me willing. Sometimes I've had to say, "Lord, I'm willing to be made willing to be willing." But that's enough. Then He has worked to do it, to enable me to do the thing that will please Him. It's just a little verse, but God's word is true and works.

As I rejoiced in the changes in me, Father took me to Ephesians 2:10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". It's amazing to me because I have loved this verse for many years, but I had not seen that my present life is His workmanship, which God had prepared for a platform to do good works. "Workmanship" means "God's poem or work of art". Once again He turned the prism just a little and I saw myself in a new way. In my wheelchair with my limitations, I am His work of art!

So today let Him work in us to do what He would, enabling us to do what we need to, and as we do that, we are each His work of art -- His gift to those around us.

Pray for us as we go into this very busy season. How thankful I am for each one of you and your love and care.

Rebecca

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 93

20 October, 2007

Dear Friends,

All is well here in the Petrie household.

Please be praying with us for care-givers for next year. Judy and Jessica return to the US mid-December. Stephen will be here for Christmas. So from early January we will need additional people.

From Rebecca: What a blessing it is to hear from so many of you, and how thankful I am that these emails are a blessing to you.

You know how important that morning quiet time is to me. I wish you could see me these days as the weather gets colder. Our mornings have been brilliant sun and almost freezing temperature. But I am undaunted! I'm actually glad that you can't see me because I am a sight. I have a bright green ski jacket, a red and blue plaid blanket over my legs, orange gloves, and a gray wool scarf over my head. But I am warm, and I can sit in the cold for an hour and a half in my garden. It is the loveliest time of my day.

The other morning I turned to 1 Peter 1:13, "Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." To me that meant that the answer to what I have been experiencing is in these morning meetings with Jesus. (He doesn't mind my wild garb.) And in these meetings His grace is brought to me for the day.

Another place in a footnote from John 1 says,
"Grace is God
meeting us at our point of need
in the Person of Jesus Christ,
including all of His power and provision."
"Meeting us at our point of need with all of His power and provision." No wonder I am better after that time with Him. I go into my day with such reinforcements for whatever comes. I'll be confronted with a situation and feel myself saying, "Whoa, I need Your grace Lord, I need Your reinforcing power in this moment." And He comes!

Yesterday was such a busy day, so many people through the house. Last night sleep eluded me. The faces of all the people that I had been with during the day pressed in upon me. "Lord I need Your grace or I'm going to lie here awake all night." Then I had an idea. I held each face before the Lord, one at a time. And with each face I said, "Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, thank you Lord." I began to unwind and found such peace. Hmm, where did the tension go? Lovely work of grace!

I trust today that you will meet Him and in that meeting you will find His grace.

Love from Rebecca and Paul

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 92

30 September, 2007

Greetings Friends,

Autumn is here, along with its normal cold, damp days, and full schedules. Jessica Heskit, Rebecca's new helper, arrives in a couple of days. She'll overlap with Mary Beth for 6 days, before MB returns home. Mary Beth has been such a delight, and such a constant source of light and joy. We will miss her very much.

Susannah has now started her Master's program. She is also continuing to work at the European Parliament.

From Rebecca: This week I had a discussion with some friends about renewing our minds. I was reminded of something I had written in the margin of my Bible: "Change my mind and teach me what is good!" Often God uses our difficulties to show us where we need our minds renewed.

My accident is a good example of this. Just looking from the outside, one might think, "What a tragedy!" I certainly could be tempted to think along those lines myself. Here began the renewing of my mind. "Lord, Your word says everything works together for good for those who love You." Since that is true, there must be something wrong with the way I'm thinking - with the way I see this situation.

I needed Him to show me what He thought about it and to change my mind - change my thinking - and then to teach me how to see it and respond as He would. I love this, because it works out so practically in every area of my life.

Last week we had some relational difficulty in the house. I felt frustrated and angry. This was a challenging time, but I love it because those difficult situations act like triggers, and when the trigger was pulled, I remembered and saw something was awry. I was not thinking as Father thinks. I needed Him to change my mind. As Father and I looked at it together, He showed me perspectives I hadn't been willing to look at. Of course that included myself! And then, having seen a little clearer, I needed Him to show me how to respond, to teach me. Don't you love that too, when Father gets to teach us, and we get to learn?

I think the process of renewing our mind is one we'll get to do as long as we're living. At least I know I will. Father is faithful and He will do it.

Paul again! Please be praying with us for the Care-Givers who will be needed next year. Jessica will be here till December. Judy returns for her two month rotation in a few weeks. So from late December/early January, we'll need new Care-Givers.

Thanks for your prayers and communications. Grace to you!

Love,

Paul & Rebecca

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 91

23 August, 2007

Dear Friends,

Rebecca has written most of this note, but I wanted to begin with our expressions of gratitude for your faithful support.

Last week I returned from our most recent gathering of the Middle East Project in Oslo. These are amazing people, who have made an amazing commitment to one another and to us. The sturdiness of their relationships is quite remarkable in the midst of regional conflicts. They have decided on a project: Ethics in Conflict, which they will design and then present to gatherings like the Model United Nations, and on university campuses, in the region and in Europe.
Preparations for both the Vienna Gathering in October and the EPB the end of November are going well. The Dutch Prime Minister will be the speaker at this year's EPB - a strong, committed, and articulate believer. The Moderator will be the President of the Parliament - a German brother and friend.

From Rebecca: "Yeah Mom! You did it!" It was our daughter Susannah greeting us as we came in the door from our 10 day trip. Paul is the only man I know who would take his quadriplegic wife on a road trip. As many of you know, at the end of June, we went to Scotland and England. It was quite an adventure as we went by ferry across the channel in both directions. We visited friends from the Parliament so that we not only had a great time together but also sowed to our relationship with them.

As you know, we have a wonderful support team around us here at home. Annie and Sharon Henry went with us on our trip. Sharon finished her three months here at the end of that time and has returned to Congo. Annie, as you know, lives here with us and is our constant support and strength. Mary Beth Kopechek has just joined us and will be here for the next three months. She is already a delight and joy. How blessed we are in these young women.

Since returning, we have had a number of visitors, including two Israeli friends who are involved in the ME Program and who were with Paul in Oslo. I have had some time to rest. Paul is working hard toward preparation for his gathering of European leaders this autumn, and will be leaving next week for the States.

We want to thank you for your faithful support and standing with us. How we love Europe, and what God is doing here. We trust that you have come to love it as well. We are standing together to make a difference.

Love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 90

21 July, 2007

Greetings Friends!

Today is Belgium's Independence Day - lots of fire-works last night.

Bill & Dorothy Leal are here. Dorothy is editing Rebecca's book. They've made significant progress, and are working on a final draft right now. It's been wonderful having Bill & Dorothy here.

Mary Beth Kopechek arrived last week for 3 months of caring for Rebecca. She is a sweetheart. Coming from a doctor's family with 10 children, she's been well prepared for the activity level and numbers of people at our home.

Susannah Coll has been here for a month now, with about 3 weeks left in her time. She has been a delight and a wonderful help. We've been blessed with precious friends and their precious children.

Susannah Petrie is now on the 6 week break at the Parliament and will visit family and friends in the States during her vacation time, returning late August to start her Master's program and to continue working at the Parliament.

From Rebecca: These are day's full of activity and the grace of God! I have been greatly blessed to have Dorothy here. She is working me hard :<). We are moving efficiently through the material and have the first copy of the manuscript. Please pray with us now as we face what may be the greatest challenge of the process - finding a publisher. We know God has the situation in hand, and we look forward to seeing what doors He will open.

This week, in reading Psalm 62, I saw it in a new fresh way: seeing from beginning to end in one sequence.

"Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him only comes my salvation." Here I see a waiting before the Lord, knowing full well that only He can bring about what we need. Only from Him comes the wisdom or strength, grace, or change of heart. He is our Salvation!

Then in verse 5 David says: "My expectation is from Him." As David waits in need, he turns and poises himself toward the Lord. How often have I poised myself toward other people, or toward myself, or towards circumstances? My expectation was in other directions. But here David makes it so clear. Poised toward Him, my expectation for my needs to be met, my salvation is toward God alone.

And in verse 11 (I'd never put this all together before), it says: "God has spoken once, twice I have heard this; that power belongs to God. Also to You O Lord, belongs love". The One towards whom is my expectation is all powerful and all loving.

What would be the good of waiting in expectation for someone who couldn't help, or wouldn't help, who didn't have the strength or care enough to want to help? But the One to whom we look is able and loving. And we are safe. I've been comforted all week resting in these words. And when I've been tempted to have expectations toward other places, I remembered that my expectation is toward the Lord who loves me and is able.

I've been greatly encouraged by our trip to Scotland and England. I've been encouraged by wonderful friends and the reality of the care-givers God's given. I've been encouraged by your prayers and faithfulness.

Love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 89

12 July, 2007

Greetings!

Many thanks for your prayers during our trip. The friends whom we visited were most gracious, and Rebecca had strength for her journey. Annie and Sharon were remarkable, wonderful, and necessary care-givers and traveling companions. We couldn't have done it without them

From Rebecca: How can we say what your prayers have meant for us during these last days? When I got home Susannah greeted us with" "Your did it!
You did it!" And, quite honestly, I can hardly believe we did. I'm so aware that it was by His strength, Paul's encouragement, and your prayers.

We were on the ferry on our way to Scotland, and I laughed to Paul: "You are the only man I know who would take his quadriplegic wife on a road trip." I had such grace and strength for each day.

Our first stop was with dear friends in Scotland. We visited beautiful gardens and sat in their lovely parlor by the fire and had tea, and shared delightful fellowship. They had arranged for my room on the ground floor in a hospital bed - perfect care for ever detail.

Then we went on to the north of England where we were with more dear friends. This normally 3 1/2 to 4 hour trip was stretched into 7 hours by road work and an accident. It was a long time to sit in my wheelchair in the car, but His strength again was sufficient.

Here I had my first formal opportunity to speak publically again since my accident - and it went very well. The trip from there to the ferry for our return was through beautiful Yorkshire countryside. We came back home again on the overnight ferry.

I remembered all along the Scripture that the Lord gave me while I was anticipating the journey. You remember that it was a stretch for me to even imagine. He gave me Psalm 44:3, "But they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You loved them." What a good perspective we have to know that He goes before us, and will enable us to do what, in our own strength, we could never do.

We're home now, and I'm back in my own room and garden. Mary Beth Kopechek, my new care-giver, arrived today. Sharon has returned to the Congo (We miss her so. She has been a wonderful gift from the Lord.) Susannah Coll has been visiting and helping in the interim. It is again one of those seasons of change. I am tired, but the Lord is helping us well.

Thank you again for standing with us.

Love,

Paul & Rebecca

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 88

1 June, 2007

Dear Friends,

On 27 June Rebecca and I will begin her first extended trip outside of Belgium since her accident in 2001. Susannah, Sharon Henry, and Annie will accompany us. We'll drive from home to Ostend, a port one and a half hours north of us. From there we'll take an over-night ferry, which is handicapped equipped, arriving the next morning in Edinburgh, Scotland. Then we'll drive about 30 minutes to the home of some dear friends. The husband is an MEP. We'll stay with them until Monday, 2 June, when we'll drive down to northern England to visit other dear friends, a former MEP. Here they've arranged a gathering at which Rebecca and I will share. Then on Thursday, 5 July, we'll drive to the coast and take another over-night ferry home.

It will be quite an adventure for Rebecca. She's excited, and a little apprehensive regarding her strength for such a foray. Her thoughts are
below:

Rebecca: We worked together and got all my pillows in order; I was comfortable for the night. Annie kissed me, "Sleep well and feel free always to call if you need me." She turned out the light. I could feel that sleep was far from me... the coming trip to Scotland and England in - oh, Lord, could it be? - less than a month! This morning, in my quiet time, the Lord had spoken and said, "Be wise!" I knew what He meant. As always, when Father speaks He says a few words and the meaning is profound in my soul. Faith and courage come for whatever He has spoken.

I understood that the season was changing. In some ways, my years of quiet at home are coming to an end. It is time to start turning out, to begin anew, and I must be wise. You can imagine that I've been fearful, not knowing if I am able to do the coming trip. But now I'm peaceful. There is courage and faith. Somehow there will be strength as I need it. I spent the next two hours planning and thinking, anticipating with joy my coming visit with my friends and traveling again with my beloved Paul.

I shall fast breakfast in preparation. It's not much, Lord, but I feel like it's what You're saying. I want to "sharpen my tools" in preparation for the coming days. It has been five and a half years since the accident. During this time I have been passive - acted upon. It's been a season of pain and brokenness, and a time that I now see as one of preparation. I had imagined that Father would leave me in my quiet garden for the rest of my life. But years of preparation are always for increased fruitfulness. And as I turn this corner, I need to have my eyes open, and be wise.

As I write this, I feel very vulnerable. Thoughts rush upon me: "What if I can't do it? - and now I've told everybody." Oh, Lord, I leave all that with You. You are faithful, and as surely as You call us, You will enable us to do it. God never calls us anywhere that His grace won't keep us. How thankful I am for each of you and for your love, support, and prayer.

Paul again! We hope to get another Journey out before we leave. I'll be out of town for about 10 days, and we have a number of guests coming, so please do pray for the preparation.

Love to you all,

Paul & Rebecca

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 87

21 May, 2007

Greetings, Friends!

I've been gone, twice, since we sent out the last Journey. Thank you for your prayers for both Rebecca and me. How would we manage life if we were alone? The Father created a Body for His Son, of which we are all a part. He's joined us together - different members for different purposes. But always that we might be "together" in Him with some to whom He's joined us. We treasure the relationships God has created.

From Rebecca:

This week as Sharon and I work together on Rebecca's Journey (the book), I felt that these few paragraphs were good to share with you now. It is the introduction to what will be a section about prayer. I know that many of you pray for me and have for all these years. Your faithfulness has made us companions in the journey. Such an adventure of faith and knowing the Father and His ways! Here is the introduction to "Prayer."

PRAYER
------------------------

We learned this week of a clinical study of the molecular structure of people who are ill. The hypothesis is that some bodies have a molecular structure that lends itself to healing and recovery. The gentleman who talked to Susannah about this program asked her if her mother would be interested in participating in such a study.

What an interesting concept! What happens when we pray? As I write this, it will be five years in October since my accident. It has been 5 years of being soaked in the prayers of faithful people. I almost feel that my "molecular structure" has changed as a result of so many prayers. Sometimes we receive e-mails expressing almost disappointment that I'm not walking. But my continued progress is unprecedented, and unexplainable.

I feel there might be things in life better than walking. I feel so very privileged to be the constant recipient of the prayers of those who love me. And God is faithful, working...working...working. As we pray with thanksgiving, our confidence is not in what we see, but in the One who is faithful. In this next vignette, you will see when the prayers of the Father's people carried me through and made the difference.

I remember once - it was early in the morning and I had to go for what they said would be a painful examination. It was cold, and as I left the room, the nurse threw my prayer quilt over me. "You'll need this; its cold out there this morning." Later, I lay in the hospital corridor, waiting. I felt lonely and fearful. I managed to pull the quilt up a little, and as much as I was able, to snuggle up under it. Suddenly it swept over me, "I'm covered with the prayers of Your people, Lord." I knew you were praying, and all was peaceful.

I know that we all are praying for many. Let's be encouraged that those prayers are making such a difference. Father calls us to help one another by standing together in prayer.

Love from Rebecca and me,

Paul

PS In July Bill and Dorothy Leal will be here for two weeks. Dorothy is a writer and editor, who will help with the final editing of the book. Our hope is that the book will be ready to present to publishers by the end of the summer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 86

17 April, 2007

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Genval!

Sharon Henry has been here for several weeks taking care of Rebecca since Jessica's return to the States. Sharon is such a gift from God to all of us. And we're so grateful for all that Jessica did during her time here.

From Rebecca: I've awakened these past days singing the hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness". Several mornings ago I began my quiet time reading from Isaiah. In the commentaries for chapter 2, I came to this: "Learning to abound requires never forgetting that we have been abased, and remembering that God is the only factor who has made the difference."

In reading this, I began to "remember". Paul and I have walked with the Lord for almost 45 years. I went back and reveled in God's faithfulness.
But according to this note, I began to remember also great seasons of testing. Season after season we have seen relational testing followed by great lasting friendships; very difficult pregnancies followed by the joy of our two "little boys"; testings in our health always followed by increased fruitfulness and blessing. My recent accident has been a good example of this.

And then I remembered John 15, Jesus' picture of the vine and the branches.
"Every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes that it might bear more fruit."
I wish all of you could see the vineyards in France, and the healthy old vines there. In the autumn, the gardener comes and begins to prune. Oh no! Surely he's cut too much away! But the gardener knows what he's doing. And it is on the very branch that he's pruned that the new growth returns, and increased fruit is born. Where the vine is pruned, there is abundance of fruit.

We are the branches, and we belong to the Gardener. As we yield ourselves to Him, we can trust Him to direct the seasons for ever increasing our blessing and fruitfulness. Great is His faithfulness!

Paul again: I leave on Friday for two and a half weeks of travel. Please keep Rebecca and the team here, as well as me, in your prayers.

Love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 85

14 March, 2007

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to give you an update on Rebecca's care. A dear and long-standing friend, Sharon Henry, has arranged to come and help take care of Rebecca for the next several months. She is married to Dr. Timothy Henry, who heads a medical work in Central Congo. Their son, Peter, will stay with Sharon's family in Dallas during the time Sharon is here.

Thank you Sharon, Timothy, and Peter! And thank you Father!

Timothy and Sharon lived here, actually just down the street, in '95 & '96 while he was completing his Tropical Medicine course in Antwerp. And they have visited periodically, so Sharon knows the area and speaks French.

One other thought! I don't usually share my spiritual musings in Rebecca's Journey, but one verse in Philippians has been very nourishing for me lately, Phil. 2:1: "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ..." I've meditated on this for days.

What deep, broad and substantive encouragement we have from being united with Jesus! And it's not the IDEA that is encouraging, it is the living REALITY.

Being united with Jesus! The One who loves us, and gave Himself for us, lives IN us by His Spirit. He's not far away waiting to be called to action on our behalf. He's closer than our breath. Courage, heart, confidence, endurance, strength, anticipation of His good purpose, etc., all emerge inside us from His life in us.

More importantly this union gives us opportunity for deep fellowship with Him, as He progressively integrates our lives with Himself. It's above and beyond what we could have imagined. And there's more to come! Great encouragement!

Love from Rebecca and me,

Paul

Friday, March 09, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 84

9 March, 2007

Greetings Friends,

Spring is coming here. The star magnolia at the back of the house is starting to bloom; the jonquils are up; the tulips and daffodils are 8 inches high; and the azalea bush in the front of the house is in full bloom, a lovely pink against the white of the house. Spring always reminds me of resurrection life after the "death" of winter.

Judy is now back in the US for 2 months. And we are still praying for the person who will take Jessica's place when she departs on 10 April. Several friends are praying about stepping into this gap. Please do continue to pray with us about this.

From Rebecca:

"For we are His workmanship ('His poem' in one translation), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10.

When I read this verse this week my heart leapt. I have normally focused on the first part, rejoicing that I was "His poem." But this time, I saw "...good works which God prepared BEFOREHAND..." He has gone ahead of me in all that He calls me to do.

I remembered an experience that I had when I was in Intensive Care. I had had an examination that was extremely painful. Afterwards, to my horror, they said they had to repeat the process. As I faced the second procedure, I was frightened and filled with dread. While waiting for the 2nd exam I glanced over my left shoulder and became aware of Jesus' presence. He was young and strong. As I watched, in this "vision" the doctor did the same procedure on Him. He looked over at me and said, "I will always go before you."

Our Susannah is starting a new part time job and as I prayed for her in this new situation, I realized that the Lord Jesus had "works which He had prepared beforehand" for her to do in that place. And He had prepared them long ago; all she has to do is walk where He has gone before.

Very often, when I go out for an appointment or outing, I feel anxious. I am afraid I won't have the strength to do what will be required. But, every time it goes well and I have all that I need. Every time He goes before me, preparing where I should roll. What a delightful confidence we have in Him who is revealing Himself to a lost world through our "good works."

As you go about your week, we pray that you would go in confidence and awareness that He has walked before you and He will reveal Himself in all that you do."

Paul again! Our son Stephen will be coming for his week of spring break from 18 to 25 March. (Thank God for frequent flier miles!) We can't wait to see him.

Love from us all here,

Paul

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 83

15 February, 2007

Greetings Friends!

I returned home last Saturday - wonderful to be back with Rebecca.

Today, in a very un-Belgian way for winter, we have clear skies and sun shining through the bare branches of the trees. It brings joy to us all! And it reminds me that if we can keep the clouds away from our spiritual atmosphere, we can bask in the light of the Son. The sight of His face, the radiance of His care and faithfulness always bring great joy to our souls.

One important note here: The young woman who was coming to help care for Rebecca from early April through early July has had a change of plans. Jessica, who is here presently, returns to the US on 10 April. Please pray with us about someone who could come during that time. Don't hesitate to communicate if you have any questions. This is short notice but we trust the Lord has someone in mind.

From Rebecca: This week I'm living in Ephesians 3, letting the roots of my heart go deep into the richness of these words.

Today as I was reading verse 7, there was a "substitution" that popped into my mind. Paul says: "I became a minister?". And I read: "I became a quadriplegic according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power." And then verse 10: "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known".

I'm reading from the New King James, and my Bible highlights words and then gives Strong's Dictionary Definitions. Here it has "manifold" defined as "varied colors". "The word 'manifold' pictures God's wisdom as much varied, with many shades, tints, hues, and colorful expressions.' What an amazing God we serve! Each of our situations is an opportunity for God's wisdom to be shown by the marvelous working of His grace.

Today I was sitting with Jessica in the waiting room of the eye doctor. We read together from Ephesians 3. I said to her: "For you verse 7 could say, ...of which I became a 'college student' according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power." Each of us can identify our situations as gifts of His grace (even when the gifts may not be the one's we'd have asked for).

As you know, I'm working on my book. (I appreciate that many of you are praying with us for this project.) It has been challenging for me as we read again through all the early experiences after the accident and during my time of Intensive Care. Those were days of swirling disorientation. We were not at all sure what God was saying, or where it would end. But we fixed our hearts steadily on Him. Now, because of the way God has unfolded His purposes, we can see His manifold wisdom, how He has turned and used this to grow us and bless His people with events that were certainly not what we would have chosen.

In each of our lives there are many situations that must be viewed in this light: a broken or difficult marriage, a child not walking with the Lord, a job that hasn't worked out. There are many scenarios in which we must hold steady and know that we will see the manifold wisdom of God expressed.

It's true for each one of us. Whatever our situation, it's an opportunity for the grace of God to show forth His wisdom. What a wonderful adventure we are on together."

Our love to you all,

Rebecca and Paul

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 82

Greetings Friends!

It has been a blustery few days here in Europe - hurricane force winds across Belgium and many other European countries. But Rebecca's trees have survived, though well pruned of dead branches, still lying on the grass, ready to be collected. Today is one of those dreary Belgium winter days - a delight to be inside.

Judy and Jessica arrived safely - a blessing to have them back. Susannah and I both leave later this week for North America. We'll both be gone for 2 weeks, so please pray for the ladies here (Rebecca, Judy, Annie, and Jessica) during our absence.

From Rebecca: "I'm continuing in John 15: 9: 'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.' To fathom the love of God - how do we mortals get our minds around it? Paul says in Philippians: 'That you would know the love of God...'

"When I was in Intensive Care the Lord kept speaking to me: 'It is all about my love!' I thought He meant that it was about loving others. But I now think it was more about my comprehending His love for me more deeply. Surely it is unfathomable! And yet He wants to reveal some small part.

"The other morning I was in my quiet time, and the Lord said again: 'As the Father loves Me, so have I loved you. I want you to live in that love!' Right at that time our children were home for the holidays. Three of them, one evening, were sitting together with us. I was so stuck with the amazing love I have for them. Could that be just a small sample of the love the Father has for me? Then this past weekend I was reminded of it again through my husband's love for me. As we sat together at a Chinese Restaurant near our home (it is no small thing taking a handicapped lady to lunch!) our conversation covered a wide range of topics - I sometime call it 'wandering' conversation. It's the kind of sharing that to me is the best.

"All of this love is but a weak reflection of His great love. And we are to continue in that love.
"Then in John 15: 11 He says: '?that your joy might be full.' Could that be what the Father is after? His desire is for us to be full of joy. Isn't that the result of being loved? Being loved is a joyful state! Loving is a joyful state! As the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus loves us."

As we send this out I pray that the Lord will quicken to you His great love for you. May it come through your loved ones, or through a beautiful sunset! He speaks to us in so many different ways."

Is there a greater reality, or need, than His love comprehended and experienced? May we know Him better and better.

Our love to all,

Paul

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rebecca's Journey - 81

Rebecca has a new video available. Go to www.rebeccasjourney.com to view or download the video, find photos, other videos, an archive, and more information.
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3 January, 2007

Greetings All, and a very Happy and blessed New Year!

Rebecca and I want to send our wishes for a grace-fill new year, one in which we will all know Him better.

Susannah, Phillip & Josie, and Stephen were all home for Christmas. Matt and Stephanie were unable to come this year. Annie was with us as well. What a wonderful time!

Phillip & Josie flew to Sweden the day after Christmas to be with her family there, and arrived back here just yesterday. Today we de-decorated. (Bill and Susan Hightower and Dennis Coll helped us decorate nearly a month ago!) Phillip, Josie, and Stephen will all return to the States this week.

Judy arrives next week, as does Jessica Camenish, who will be here for another 3 months. We're anxious to see them!

From Rebecca: Our Christmas is passed, and we have been so blessed by these precious days. It has been an expression of the fullness of His life and our life together. We are blessed!

You may remember that at the New Year I always ask the Lord for His perspective and for a word for the coming year. In my Bible reading, I turned to John 15, the Vine and the branches. I always get excited at this place in John, knowing the riches that lie ahead. As I began to read, I realized that this would be my perspective for 2007.

Right at this time Susannah came in to bring me something. Having a rather full day ahead of her, she was moving quickly (as she is often prone to do). "Susannah," I said, "go slowly sweet heart." She smiled and said, "Momma, you know I don't believe in doing anything slowly." I realized that is exactly how I have gone though most of my life.

I flashed to a time when Susannah was about 6 years old. We had gotten into the car on our way to buy a pumpkin. We had planned a very special outing together. She looked at me with a horrified expression on her little face. "Oh Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom. I will hurry really fast!" With that, she jumped out of the car and ran into the house. I watcher her going, her little pig-tails flying behind her. I shall never forget it. The Lord said to me: "You must not rush through life." I'm afraid it was just the first of many such words spoken to me. Could it be that, forty years later, I'm beginning to rest in Him?

Hebrews 4 says: "There is therefore a rest for the children of God." John 15:5: "I am the Vine. You are the branches. He who abides in Me bears much fruit."

One of the biggest changes in me through the process of the last years is that I often find conversation difficult. My voice is not strong, so when there is a large group of people communicating in a lively manner, I can't seem to get into the conversation. I have to be careful or I withdraw and am just quiet.

This happened to me on Christmas day around the table. My dear family was all gathered and having a wonderful time together. I was at the end of the table and began to feel insecure and isolated. I found myself withdrawing. I knew it wasn't right and it was the last thing that they would want. But I didn't want to hinder their conversation and joy, so I smiled and, I'm afraid, withdrew.

Later I talked with Paul and Susannah about it. But when I read John 15:5, I felt it resolve. I understood! Somehow in that kind of situation, my soul gets scattered. I saw a picture of the branches scattered and then I saw the Lord gather the branches together and tuck them securely into the Vine. In that gathering, I found a settledness and quietness. I could almost feel myself drawing all that I needed for the situation from the Vine. As I approach the New Year - and sometimes my soul is scattered - I shall gather it together into the Vine and rest in that place.

Isn't it amazing! What Father wants of us is to be quiet, to be in faith and to draw from Him - allowing Him to "be" all that we need Him to be.

So my new word for this year is an old word with fresh life: rest! Let Him grant us to gather our scattered souls into Him and rest in quietness as we go about our business.

Paul and I wish for you a most blessed and abundant New Year. May it be filled with great grace and may you discover new wonders of His Person at every turn. What an adventure we have together in Him!

With our love,

Paul & Rebecca

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 80

Check out http://www.rebeccasjourney.com/ for photos, videos, an archive, and more information.---------------------------------------------
9 November, 2006

Dear Friends,

Paul is in the States, and we here at home are feeling your prayerful support. We have beautiful autumn days, and peace and joy are undergirding all our relationships.

Recently, a friend gave me a notepad with a scripture from III John 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." This week, I have heard from three of my "children."

Stephen called to say "Mom, I only have a minute, but I had to call you. It's snowing!" He knew I would be delighted to hear of the first snowfall in Michigan. And I received a note from Kristina, another one of my "children." Kristina is the young lady who came to us from the Faroah Islands.) In the note she said that as she was walking across the campus where she is a medical student, the leaves were brilliant colors, and they reminded her of me. When she saw them, she rejoiced in God's goodness.

These two, it would seem, have received my "heart and eyes" to see the wonder of the Lord in His creation. Such a gift to me to hear from them!

And then today, I heard from Victoria, one of Paul's secretaries who worked and lived with us here in Europe in the late '80s. It was a sweet note in which she expressed her appreciation. It seems to me that these three are reflections that my labor in their lives is bringing forth good fruit.

Through the years, God has called Paul and me to labor in the lives of our own children and many young adults. At times I have felt the cost of having so many people in our home. At other times there have been difficulties, relational and interpersonal. Whatever God calls us to "do", there will be moments of cost. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 4 11-12: "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you."

This is the process of "death" in us that brings life to others. Whatever God calls us to do, we can be sure in the difficult moments that He is working and that Jesus' light is being formed in us to be reflected to those around.

Often the process that God calls us to is costly. But whatever it is, we can be sure that He is working, and that Jesus' life is being formed in us. He wants to reveal Himself.
When we feel the pain and are aware of the price, we must wait on Him and the fruit will come: life for others.

Thank you again for your love. Paul will be home in one week, and we will begin the "count down" to the European Prayer Breakfast at the end of November. The days will be as full with the flurry of wonderful activity as the falling leaves around the house. We will be counting on your prayers.They are days that are important for Europe and what God is doing here.

All my love,Rebecca

PS This was written a week ago. Paul is home now. And we are shifting into the Prayer Breakfast mode.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 79

16 October, 2006

My dear friends,

Please forgive me for being so long since our last communication. I have been in a difficult time. Paul was traveling in the States and there have been many changes here at the house. It took all of my energy. Paul is home now and I'm glad to say I'm better. During those weeks I found it hard to create or to think very clearly. I rested in your prayers and in the confidence that you were standing with me.

I held on to a thread! Through the years we have learned the principle that to get from Egypt (a place of bondage) to the Promised Land (a place of liberty, productivity, and responsibility) we must pass through the Wilderness (a place of testing). In the midst of difficult "seasons" the Lord asks us to cling to Him in confidence even when we don't sense Him, even when we feel alone and life is dark.

As we come through these "wildernesses" He is able to bring us into new provision and the abundance of the Promised Land. It helps a lot in these circumstances to have behind me the experience of years and an abiding knowledge of who He is, and of His faithfulness.

We had two new girls come at almost the same time. Such provision! However, six women in the house was indeed a houseful. It was a dark time for me. But the Lord helped us. Annie worked and got everything into a schedule which brought order and quietness to the house. Then Paul came home, and the visitors started (eight the first week after his arrival). But we were ready for them and it's been good.

Susannah returned from her month in the Balkans and now has gone back to the States for a month. Judy is cooking, Laura Beth and Lani are working hard, and Annie at the moment is back in France for some medical check-ups.

My physical strength diminished during this season, but is increasing again. My physical therapy is progressing again too. Donatienne, my physical therapist, and I feel your support.

Autumn is always our busiest season here. Paul will be going to North America again next week and will return for the European Prayer Breakfast at the end of November.

In December, we have twenty-one Israeli graduate students coming for four days. They are all students in Diplomacy. We'll introduce them to political leaders here and discuss EU/Israeli relations.

I am continuing to work on the book, "Rebecca's Journey". Laura Beth is now helping with this project.

What exciting days we live in - days of opportunity and challenge.

With all my love,

Rebecca

PS It won't be so long until you hear from me again.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 78

Dear Friends,

As Paul mentioned in the last Rebecca's Journey, this month we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We thought we would send out a few reflections and today is my turn

When we first married, it was very difficult. We loved each other deeply but how do we live together as God would have us?! I am a strong woman and Paul is stronger yet. Now that is a formula for fireworks, as you can well imagine.

In about our 6th year, we began to hear and understand what the Scripture had to say about the marriage relationship and we realized it was a partnership with an authority structure forged in love, respect and faith. As Paul was set over our home to lead us in love, I was to follow him in faith. Together we would form a solid bulwark to protect our children and fulfill the purpose and destiny that God had for us together.

Now for the working out of this! Could it be that it has taken forty years and we're still in the process? But what a lovely process!

I remember once when Mathew and Susannah were little and I was so tired. Paul had just returned from a trip. He lovingly suggested that he would take the children to church and I could rest at home. They all left and the house was deliciously quiet - but a mess. I began to pick up toys and straighten. I did the dishes and finally went up stairs to rest. Coming into our room, there was Paul's suitcase - still not un-packed. I hung up the shirts and, in frustration, I threw his shoes in to the back of closet. The Lord spoke to me, "It's a privilege to serve a man of God."

It was one of those times when the Lord "turned the prism." Suddenly, I saw my husband in a new light, seeing him as God sees him. From my human perspective, much of the time I saw him as my husband whom I loved but who often was the source of pain and struggle (At that point, I had not yet learned to look at my own sin first, so I laid the blame for most things on him.) However, through the Lord's eyes, he was a man of God, called and anointed to lead me and our home.

Ephesians 5 says that we, as women, are to respect our husbands. In retrospect, this was a critical point in our walk together. There are often many things that cloud our vision of one another. My own selfishness and pride kept me from seeing Paul from God's perspective. By turning my prism, to see Paul more clearly, I found a deeper level of respect for him.

I think today of those of you who might be in a very difficult marriage situation. Even in the midst of that, let the Lord "turn the prism" for you, so that you might see your husband through His eyes. I love what Elizabeth Elliot wrote to a young girl who was in a painful marriage relationship, "Leave with God what only God can change; only God can change the hearts of men."

Through the years, we've seen that in the most difficult situations, He is able to lead us through to ever deeper oneness in Him.

My love to you all,

Rebecca

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 77

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Rebecca and me!

These "Journeys" have been Rebecca's thoughts for the last 3 1/2 years. (And precious thoughts to me and many of you!)

Rebecca and I are about to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary. Susannah, representing our children, asked if Rebecca and I could write some of the significant elements and experiences in our 40 years of marriage. Our kids feel that we have a great relationship - Rebecca and I do too! It is the result of Jesus' leadership though the years.

So Rebecca and I will each be writing a few "Journeys" over the next months about our life together.

I met Rebecca (Becky Kunkle then) in 1964. We were in our first year of university. At the time I wasn't looking for a wife, but when I first saw her, I knew that I would marry her. That moment is imprinted in my mind: she was seated, wearing a cream blouse with a flowing bow at the neck, black skirt and pointed black high-healed shoes. Her hands were folded over her crossed knees, her head raised, with a bouffant 60's hairstyle. I was stunned! She looked like an angel.

With my typical reserve I walked directly over to her and introduced myself, then walked her back to her dorm. Let me say here that she hadn't had the epiphany which I experienced on first seeing her. It took me a while to convince her to marry me. But one of the things that got both our attention early was that we shared a deep commitment to Jesus, and a sense of destiny. We each knew that He had a purpose for our lives.

We began our journey together during those days, focused on following Him, seeking to know His plan, His ideas, His preferences. (We fought a lot too!)

As we approached our Wedding Day, 27 August, 1966, we understood little about a "Biblical marriage". There weren't teachings or conferences on marriage in those days (at least none that we knew of.) We really new only one thing clearly as we said "I Do!"

Our commitment on that day was first to Him of course. But secondly, Rebecca and I committed ourselves "to the others' highest good at our own expense". Those were the words we used, and they represented our deepest understanding of relationship at the time.

As our life together continued, our conflicts became deep and painful, but that initial decision, to be committed to the other person's highest good at our own personal expense, was the guiding principle. Of course, we had a Guiding Person, too, who was faithful to help us implement our commitment.

More to come from Rebecca and me,

Paul

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 76

Dear Friends,

We're in the mist of "full summer" here. Temperatures in Belgium have been in the mid to high 90's F (upper 30's C) for the last two weeks. It is a great break from our long winter, but witheringly hot!

Bill & Susan Hightower are here for several months. They, and their children, have been a delight. Judy is back in the States for this period. Susannah and Annie are here, and I've been traveling some.

In early August, we'll be in De Hann at the beach hotel/hospital where we've spent a week each of the last several summers. Stephen will be here for several weeks, including this time away.

From Rebecca: "I've been through a period of not sleeping well for the first time since my accident. I was becoming more and more tired. The other morning Melissa Christensen, a young friend (16 years old) was helping with my morning care. I said to her: 'O, Melissa, I'm just so tired.' She said: 'O, Rebecca, that's great! The Lord must be developing new endurance in you. That's what it says in James. Our trials develop endurance.'

"I said: 'O Melissa, say it again!' She said it, and I said once more, 'I think I need to hear it again. Please say it once more.'

"That night I was again too warm in my bed. (You see, when I'm in my bed, and I get too hot or cold, there is almost nothing I can do about it myself. Since I have only partial use of one hand and arm, I'm just able, in a limited fashion, to push my covers down a little. I do have a button that I can push and call either Annie or Susannah, depending who's on call that night. But I hate to do that. As my care-givers, who also have many other responsibilities, they are often weary. I know what it means to them to be awakened, so I try not to call them if I can possibly help it.) That morning, I could tell by the light coming through the drapes and the bird songs that it was very close to the time when they would come to get me up. Sometimes someone comes a little early, so I began to pray for this. Often I spend that time in fruitful prayer, but that morning I could only pray for someone to come! In the midst of my prayer the Lord said to me: 'You're looking for deliverance, not endurance,' - after all the lessons of the day before!

"You can imagine that as they were preparing me to go down into the garden for my time with the Lord, I asked to have my Bible open at James 1, that I might meditate on those words to which Melissa had referred.

"This portion of Scripture is underlines and marked, with many notations, because it is one that has meant so much to me through the years. I've studied it particularly in the JB Phillip's translation. At one point I memorized it. But that morning, as I meditated on it, I saw a picture in my mind. I saw myself with a circle drawn around me. It was a circle that represented the extent of my faith. Within that circle I was comfortable and my faith was strong. Then I saw the Lord take me outside that circle into another area. I was shaky and uncomfortable. I realized that my faith level wasn't up for this new experience. I had to endure being uncomfortable until He worked in me a new level of faith. In the process, my circle was getting bigger and bigger.

"'O Lord, give us willing hearts to recognize the trials that you send as opportunities to grow in faith and endurance, as we become all that You would have us become.'

"Let me quote for you this portion of Scripture from the Phillip's
translation:

"'When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you that quality of endurance.
But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed and you will find that you have become men of true character, men of integrity with no weak spots.'"

Love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

PS Bill & Susan and family will be returning to the US mid August, so the house across the street will again be empty. Please pray with us about who should live there in this next season. Bill, Susan, and their children have been a wonderful blessing, a great help with Rebecca's care, and a joy to be with.

PPS There will be two new girls coming early in the autumn to help with Rebecca's care - such a blessing. We're looking forward to meeting them and having them here. Please be praying for them and for all the adjustments that take place with changing staff.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 75

May 23, 2006

Greetings, Friends!

I've been home for about 10 days after a trip of nearly 3 weeks to North America. In the midst of Board and team meetings and a conference, I was able to see Matt & Stephanie, Phillip & Josie, and Stephen, as well as visiting my mother in Toronto. On 7 May, Josie graduated from university, Summa Cum Laude. We are all very proud of her.

And, my, it is good to be home with Rebecca.

From Rebecca: "This past week I was talking with one of my nurses. I was glad Susannah was assisting, because she was able to help me with my French when the concepts became too complex. Fabienne began to tell about a new patient who had suffered a terrible accident and was now a paraplegic. As she spoke, her eyes brimmed with tears, and she said: 'It makes me afraid of what might happen tomorrow. I know that some people go to fortune tellers - and I understand why. But I wouldn't want to do that.'

"I began to talk then about the importance of walking closely with the Lord day by day. 'When we belong to Him,' I said, 'whatever happens today prepares us for tomorrow.'

"I have had so many people ask me how I was able to adjust as I have to my own situation. One is not able, suddenly, to accept difficult things. But day by day the Lord prepares us for whatever good or difficult situations arise. (Paul just reminded me that they are all good, just different kinds of good.) My best preparation for tomorrow is in walking in Jesus' purpose for me today.

"David said, in Ps. 31:14: 'But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand.' What a comfort it is, and joy, that we can rest confident because the One who holds our times in His hands loves us dearly.

"It's been a special season for us to have Susannah with us. As I looked at her this morning, mulling over some of these ideas, the sunlight came across her golden hair, highlighting her square cheek bone. I was amazed at her beauty, and realized, if I had the capacity to perfectly order her day today, knowing what tomorrow would hold, so that she would be prepared for whatever opportunities lie ahead, O how carefully I would do it. How I would orchestrate and plan, and protect her, keeping her for the very highest and best.

"If that is how I feel, as Jesus said: 'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more would the Father give...' O, we are safe in His hands, even in the face of unpredictable weather patterns, terrorists, and unstable political systems We are safe. By walking with Him today, we'll be ready for tomorrow."

Thanks for your prayers, and for your communications. Rebecca is always delighted to hear from you.

With love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 74

13 April, 2006

Greetings Friends,

It has been too many weeks since we wrote - a busy season around our home with lots of visitors. Spring is late! Even though It is now mid-April, we're still experiencing mid-March weather. There are, however, a few daffodils out, the forsythia is in bloom, and birds a-plenty (doves, pigeons, robins, nut hatches, etc.). Now we're anxious for warmer temperatures.

Rebecca and I are in her room. She's sitting up in bed: blue sheet and booties, and a lovely peach sweater that was a gift from one of you friends. Her Bible is open on her tray-table. Some of her birthday flowers are still brightening the room. Outside it is cold and rainy, but greening.

From Rebecca: "One day not long ago, one of our friends was discouraged. I looked out my window and I said to her: 'You know, whatever happens, even though it is struggling this year, spring will come! The daffodils will bloom and the pear tree will bud.' I guess that's why I love this time of year: new life, new hope, new encouragement all around us.

I also love April because it brings my birthday. I love my birthday - even when I'm turning 61 :<) This year my special day was filled with dear friends, flowers, and 67 cards from many of you.

On my birthday mornings I usually meditate on Isa. 46:3&4, and Ps. 139. These are passages that speak of our lives being held in His hands, written in His book, planned in His heart.

This year I turned then to Eph. 1. He had a lovely birthday surprise for me. Verses 4 & 5: 'For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.'

When I read these verses I understood something for the first time!

We have friends who have adopted children from India, and other friends who have just adopted a baby from Central America. In both cases the parents had the joy of going to the orphanages and 'choosing' their wee ones, 'Setting their hearts upon them.' Then the children came home and became their very own. In the first case they became Finnish. In the second, the new baby is now an American. Paul and I have been able to share the wonderful joy of both couples. The Lord reminded me of these experiences, and He said: 'That's how I chose you.' It was as if I could see Him going to some great orphanage before the foundation of the world and choosing me, and bringing me into His family, His Kingdom, and into His abundant plan for my life. I have a new identity, a new citizenship, and I am the joy of His heart. Wasn't this a wonderful birthday gift? I pray that you will be able to touch it for yourself. He chose you before the foundation of the world to be His very own because He delights in you. You are His 'special treasure'.

On another topic, we have some good news to share. Once again, on my birthday, a group of some of you held a 24 hour prayer vigil for me. You prayed specifically for my spacticity to decrease. It has been hindering progress in my physical therapy. The very day after you prayed, Donatienne, my physical therapist, said: 'Your spacticity is almost gone! Are they praying?' It was a joy to tell her that indeed you had prayed. Since then I have had almost no spacticity, and we are moving on in the physical therapy. I have also experienced a noticeable increase in my strength and endurance; and I have been very much encouraged in my soul. What a joy it is to have you continuing to stand with us.

I also want to begin telling you a little bit each time about some detail of my care. This time I would like to tell you about Delphine. Delphine and Olivier, and their two children, live in our neighborhood. We first met them many years ago in France. They moved to Belgium with his job several years ago, and it has been a special delight to have them so close. Delphine comes each Thursday and does all our ironing. What a gift! She has also begun to come on Friday nights to do the midnight turn (a nightly routine to guard me against bed sores) - a great gift for Susannah and Annie to give them a break. I'm amazed when I consider the goodness of the Lord in putting together a team of loving friends to manage my care."

Rebecca and I want to wish you a wonderful Easter. We celebrate the resurrection Him who died that we might become His, the One who gives us life.

Love Paul & Rebecca

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rebecca's Journey - 73

Wednesday, 22 February

Dear Friends,

Paul here! I returned last week from two and a half weeks in the US/Canada. During this trip I was able to visit, among others, my mother, some of our children, and Wade & Karen in DC. I leave again tomorrow, with Susannah, for the Balkans.

While I was gone, Rebecca was well cared for by Judy, Annie, Susannah, and some local friends.

From Rebecca: "The last days before Paul's return were difficult and somewhat stressful. This left me depleted, vulnerable, and weary. I found myself facing anew the reality of my present 'prison' - longing to walk up our street, or around the lake, and feel the spring beginning to come. I wanted to go and visit my children, and felt so desperately the ocean between us.

"Then one morning I wakened and, before the dawn broke, a little bird began to sing. Its warbling notes spoke to me of spring, and thankfulness began to fill my soul. Oh, such thankfulness for Paul's love and care, for Annie's gentle administration, for Judy's constant love and service; thankfulness for all those who care for my needs; thankfulness for all of you who pray and carry me, even through these dark moments; thankfulness for our children; thankfulness, most of all, for the reality in my soul of the Lord Himself. As this thankfulness continued to well up within me, joy replaced the darkness of the days before. His call and purpose for my life today overwhelmed the longing for that which I don't have.

"I remembered what He had spoken to us years ago through C.S. Lewis: to guard our hearts, setting them firmly on what He has given, not sending them after what is not ours for today. When I long for that which I don't have, it makes the joy of what I do have to be insipid.

"I think I've spoken of this before with you, but I felt so strongly to speak of it again, that the Lord would make us be a people who are filled with gratefulness and thankfulness for that which we have, for what He has given.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6."

Our love to you all, and our thanks for your faithful prayers.

Paul & Rebecca