Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Sufficiency of Courage

After settling into our home in Arizona in the year 2000, Terry and I agreed that our Arizona experience needed to include church.  He quickly dispatched me to reconnoiter and find us a place of fellowship - - a commission high on my priority list, but not so much on his :) 

I took my dispatch seriously, so for several weeks I visited this church and that in an effort to locate a good fit.  It was a challenging task because I knew Terry would quickly nix any connection that didn't feel right to him.  That limited many, if not most of the possibilities.

Then, just ahead of Christmas that year came a knock at our front door.  I heard Terry open the door, and then the muffled sounds of dialogue before I heard him shut the door.

As he returned to the kitchen, I could see that he was holding something:  a lunch sack bedazzled with holiday festoons.  He handed me the bag, and quickly announced:  This is our new church.

Seems our neighbors had set upon a mission of their own to provide Christmas cookies to the entire neighborhood, along with an invitation to church services.  Any church with a Cookie Evangelism Program ranked high on Terry's "feel right" scale.

The rest is history ...

Over the course of our ten year Arizona sojourn, we deeply rooted ourselves in Palm Valley Church, watching it grow from some 150 people in early 2001 to over 4,000 when we left last year.  We knit ourselves into several Home Teams (or Small Groups) in the intervening years, but I believe our richest Arizona treasure resided in the young couple that launched and pastored the church.  Greg and Lori became fast friends early on; and more than friends. Many an event, many a Sunday dinner, many a shared holiday and even vacations we came to know and to love them as family, even as we watched their family of four expand to six when children were added to their numbers.

In recent months Greg has endured test after test as doctors attempted to understand some strange symptoms in his body.  A few weeks ago they finally reached a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease - - no pleasant thing, for sure, but far better than the many other possibilities they considered.

Even so, other symptoms warranted other tests, and just ahead of Easter Greg was informed that he has a Parkinson's-like disease that is far more lethal.  Multiple System Atrophy is terminal.  Worse, the disease entails a shutting down of the nervous system.  Slowly Greg will go from robust & mobile, to bedridden.  The process could span a mere two years, or take as long as nine.

I know you can imagine the implications of this; the heartache already being born by Greg's beloved wife Lori, his four children - Jake/14, Zach/12, Josh/10 and Brooke/5 - their extended family, the church at Palm Valley, and a collection of friends that span the globe.

Some of you are already praying for Greg and his family.  Thank you.  I now ask others to join that initiative as we hold out for a miracle.  But know this:  Greg is a noble man that has made noble plans, and by many a noble deed he stands (Isaiah 32:8); and he will continue to stand.

Greg's own testimony begins and ends in a life-verse he chose for himself long ago, and that he lives out so nobly today. How could he have known that a sufficiency of courage would be woven into it with tears?

 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, 
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always 
Christ will be exalted in my body,  
whether by life or by death. 
For to me, to live is Christ 
and to die is gain. 
Philippians 1:20-21

 Please keep this precious family in your prayers.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Karen Lange said...

Will pray, Kathleen.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Have been and will continue to lift them in prayer...may the Body of Christ be Christ hands and feet for this family, as God extends faithful, healing and courage.

KelliGirl said...

So beautifully and lovingly written.
Greg's story breaks my heart. I will pray for him and his family. Some things we will never understand this side of heaven, but God is in the miracle business so I will pray for one.

Blessings and prayers,

NanaNor's said...

Hi sweet Kathleen, What a precious community the Lord led you and your hubby too. I too was once visited by the cookie pastor inviting me to church-still a precious memory. I'm sorry that Greg might have to endure but trusting that the Divine Healer can renew his strength at any time. Keeping them all lifted up.
Hugs, love and prayers.

Sonja said...

I'm so glad the blogging thing is corrected and this post is out there. Know that I stand with you daily in prayer for each of these requests, for this precious family and every need they have. I am so blessed to be able to share in prayer the requests of your heart. They are mine as well.


Kay said...

So sad. There just aren't words sometimes. I will be praying for their entire family as they travel this road.

Just a little something from Judy said...

I too am thankful that I am now able to comment again. My heart feels so sad as I read about this dear family and the huge trials they are facing. I looked at the picture and saw all of them and was reminded again, of the huge role a dad plays in their lives. I just cannot imagine what you all are going through. I don't know Greg and Lori, but I am sure going to be praying for them and for you two, as you walk this journey with them. What an encouragement for him to claim that verse, especially now. Thank you for sharing your heart on this.

The cookie story will stay with me too. What a special outreach for a church.

Peggy said...

Kathleen, Thanks for sharing this. I will definitely be praying for your pastor and his family. So many lives will be touched while watching him trust God as he goes through this difficult time. Keep us posted.

Linda Bethard Vaughan said...

How heartbreaking to hear news of this young pastor being stricken with this terrible disease right in the prime of life. I will keep this dear family in my prayers.

Saleslady371 said...

Your post and prayer request has touched my heart. This pastor and his family will be in my daily prayers; you can count on it.


Flora said...

New to your Blog...What a hope we have as Christians...even in trials.

I also have 7 wonderful grandchildren and 3 children. This fall it will be 40 years for my husband and I!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Just about more than my heart can handle tonight; I can only begin to imagine the shock, grief, and sorrow they are feeling.

We must, must, must live our everyday deliberately... in truth and laid bare before the Father's kind heart. How else can we make it?

Love you, friend.


LisaShaw said...

Precious friend, you already know I'm praying for Greg and his family through our email correspondence, but I clicked on the photo, blew it up and laid hands on him and prayed over him and his family and you and your husband.

GOD hears us all and His plan for Greg in all of this; and the family is more than we can see YET but I know GOD is at work.

I love you. Please pass on to Greg that me and Peter and our Prayer ministry at church is praying for him!