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Goodbye for Now, Sis

March 23, 2016

Feb 24, 2016

Last night my precious sister Becky Clark slipped out of her body and left this world. My first thoughts of her this morning made me laugh as I saw her running in a field with Jesus, in a new vibrant pain-free body, enjoying her next life.

Then the tears began as I realized my big sis was gone, leaving us all with a major deposit of love and some great memories. She bravely fought cancer, that ugly enemy, with great faith in Jesus, regardless of the outcome. Cathy Vincent's photo.

She kept her positive outlook to the end. When I’d ask how she was, she’d reply, “I’m better today.” I smiled when my sister Pam asked, “Have you ever talked to Becky on a bad day? I seem to always call her on the better ones.” 

My daughter said, “I can’t imagine family gatherings without Aunt Becky.” She was Serg in charge, the one who kept things rolling. Becky cared about everyone and always spoke the best of them and went out of her way to help anyone in need. She considered the entire community her family as her loving husband Gary will attest.

Even at the last when it was too much of an effort for Becky to talk, when a visitor came, she would open her eyes and somehow manage a big smile. That counts.

It’s not what happens to us in this life, but all about how we respond to what happens. Becky trusted God even when times were hard. And that counts.

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42

Becky gave this and so much more. And that counts. It all counts on the other side. My friend Anna texted “Death really sucks on this side.” But there is another side, and life we can see now on earth is mighty short compared to eternity. The best is yet to come.

So goodbye for now, my wonderful sister Becky. I love you and admire your life. I’m really going to miss you…for now. But I know we have all eternity to hang out later.

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Truck Buck$

March 23, 2016

Remember how Don rolled his truck? That first week we were praising God that Don had survived. Then a series of trials hit us, and we were visibly shaken. Don’s back was throbbing, and I wasn’t well, and my precious sister died along with some other major hits. Don and I even began re-thinking our entire future.

Trouble seemed all around and within. But why should we be surprised at trouble living in this imperfect world? Jesus said,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                                    (John 16:33 NIV)

One thing we needed soon was to find another pickup. The appraiser totaled Big Red, emailing us the amount of the settlement check, around what we expected. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Overwhelmed, we prayed, “Help, Lord,” and then waited.

IMG_5347     Three weeks later, I was relaxing watching TV when a thought popped in my head– “Go look at the title.”

The impression came out of the blue, and I recognized it as a prompting from God. I wish I could say I always obey His still small voice that speaks within us. I can’t.

But I did this time, dragging myself out of my easy chair and searching through the filing cabinet. I pulled out the truck title. “So what now?” I wondered as I scanned the title, not sure what I was looking for.

Then I saw it. The title said “USED.” Nowhere did it say “Prior Branded” like the insurance company had stated when they made that hefty deduction from our settlement amount.

I snapped a picture of the truck title with my iPhone and emailed it to the adjustor, thinking, “Nah, he won’t raise our settlement amount,” but at the same time, hoping and praying that he would.

The appraiser responded right away (another miracle). Within an hour he had sent a revised settlement statement that was $5790 MORE than the first because of the clean title

Unbelievable! I almost held my breath until the next Tuesday when I actually held this incredible check in my hand. It was then that I realized it was $3800 more than we had originally paid for the truck that we’d driven for six years. And true to God’s faithfulness, it was more than enough to buy the new truck we had found by then.

Listening to God and obeying Him pays. Of course, it doesn’t always come with a monetary reward. But it did this time.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.                                                   (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

Big Bertha

March 23, 2016

Here she is, a fine successor to Big Red whose remains were buried in the junk yard this week after he and Don slid off the icy road and rolled over.Cathy Vincent's photo.
Our truck search is over. I had created a wish list of all Don wanted in a truck (below) so I could help him comb the Internet. We prayed, googled, scouted the lots and papers, and even made a 2 hour road trip to check out candidates.
Too short…not strong enough…too worn out or too classy…not healthy or too gassy…none fit the bill. That ideal truck seemed scarcer to find than hen’s teeth.
A friend mentioned to Don, “I’ve got a truck you might be interested in. Come take a look.” So one afternoon we moseyed across the back yard to Richard’s shed, expecting yet another reject.
There she sat –Big Bertha.
As the guys talked, I began checking items off:

Don’s Wish List
F250 or F350 4 wheel drive ✔
7.3 Diesel engine ✔
Extended or crew cab ✔
Long bed ✔
Year 2000 or newer ✔
<200,000 miles ✔
Under $14,000 ✔
In good shape ready to roll (oops, I mean use) ✔
Located nearby✔
Good looking (my addition) ✔

We ✔’d off every single item. Our truck had been sitting over at the neighbor’s, 100 yards away, just waiting for us to pick her up, (definitely nearby). Once again we were in awe of God’s help in our everyday challenges of life.
Thank you, God, for Big Bertha. May she live a healthy, productive, and long life at the Vincent Homestead.

Cathy Vincent's photo.
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A Trip to the Dentist

March 18, 2016

This is on my “Top 10 Things I Dread” list. When the throbbing toothache came, I did not suspect I would have a new crown and have spent $1200, all by noon the next day.

But to my surprise, my costly trip to the dentist turned out to be quite enjoyable, thank God. He is so into the little things.
First I asked for a neck pillow to create my relaxing spa space. As I sat in the chair waiting for my mouth to numb, I decided to enjoy God right then and there in the messy middle of life.
I began praising God (not outloud) and asking Him to help me make this time count for Him. Then I opened my prayer app on my iPhone and prayed for everyone on it.
When the dentist started drilling, I started singing a song of praise, aware that God heard me, even though my mouth was otherwise occupied. I thanked God for springtime, family, friends, and a sprinkling of His 1000s of blessings for the day.
I purposely focused on Him instead of my surroundings, i.e. the dentist. I took note that others had gone through pain and suffering far more challenging than this-my sister Pam and her bout with chemo, and my sister Becky for sure. Then I considered Jesus. Thank you, Lord. This isn’t so hard.
So I just relaxed and enjoyed God. I embraced life just as it was. The 2 1/2 hours flew by – it seemed like 15 minutes. Seriously. God is so good. Why don’t I focus on Him and ask for help more often?
Last night I began worrying and complaining to myself about the $1200 we’d just spent (might have said “wasted”)
Then I sensed God ‘s Spirit within asking me, “Would you be worried if you had plenty of money? ”
Me: “No if we had lots of money, I wouldn’t be worried at all. It would be fine.”
God: “Then relax. I’ve told you that you would have more than enough for your lifetime. So trust me. I’ve got it.”
Me: “I do trust you God. Help me trust you more. ”
And again I relaxed and focused on His faithfulness, even thanking Him for dentists who keep our teeth going strong. I went back to fixing dinner, no longer anxious, even smiling.
I am still learning to turn my focus on God 24-7 even after a lifetime living with Him and remembering…God is good all the time.

Big Red Is Dead

February 13, 2016

truck  It was a spectacular grand finale. Big Red hit an ice patch, skidded sideways, spun 360°, plowed through a ditch, rolled over and landed on its wheels in a farmer’s field. What a ride! Don had a front row seat. Thankfully only Big Red was totaled. Don walked away with only a sore back.

Big deal, you say– it is only a truck. But Big Red wasn’t just any old truck as you can see from this story from my upcoming book,         YES, THERE’S MORE.”

 Big Red

On a Friday morning, October 10, 2008, Don prayed this simple prayer: “Lord, give Cathy a fresh story she can use for her teaching on ‘How and Why Should We Pray’ at the Alpha Course on Sunday.”

That evening I was heading home from our granddaughter’s volleyball game on a road we rarely travel. In the twilight I glanced at a truck with a “for sale” sign sitting in a field. The thought popped into my mind, “That is Don’s truck.” I sensed it was God’s voice that I’ve learned to recognize over the years, a “knowing” that resonates within me, often with a unusual thought that comes seemingly out of the blue.

Don’s current pickup had 250,000 miles, and we had been on the lookout for a newer one for about a year. Of course, it couldn’t be just ANY truck. It had to be a F350 diesel, 4x 4, one-ton pickup with crew cab, in good shape, around $10,000.

The next morning I told Don at breakfast, “Oh, I found your truck.”

He laughed, “You what? Is it a F350? Is it…”

I interrupted, “All I know is that there’s a big red pickup in the cornfield a few miles up the road, and I think God said it is the one you are looking for.”

 Don was more annoyed than convinced, but after twisting his arm, he reluctantly drove up to take a look. There it was, everything he was looking for, a F350 diesel, 4×4, one-ton pickup with crew cab in good shape.

He dialed the phone number on the sign, and the seller turned out to be the Mennonite pastor who as a stranger to us a few years back, had helped organize a crew of guys to raise Don’s shed when it blew down. It sounded like God was orchestrating another GodStory.

The next obvious question was “So can we afford this? Lord, show me the mo.” The sign on the truck window said $11,500. Maybe we could borrow any shortage because this was a rare find, the truck he wanted at a price he could afford.

We had extra money in the bank from a large job Don had just completed. When I tallied up our bank accounts, adding the $323 bank deposit lying on the table, I shook my head, “No way! $11,581.27.” We had more than enough.

We called the pastor who had blessed us and blessed him back with his full asking price. Then we gave thanks to our God who cares, who speaks, who orchestrates the details in our lives in such a way that we hear, “I love you. I am present, answering your prayers, working on your behalf.”

On Sunday night I passionately taught on “How and Why Should We Pray” with fresh faith and fire as I shared the story of how God had answered Don’s prayer and provided a truck that we planned to buy Monday morning.

The following Sunday night we drove Big Red to Alpha. I ended my talk with this question, “Did God answer these prayers so miraculously because Don and I are special and He loves us so much? Yes and No. Yes, we are special in His eyes. But no, it wasn’t just because we are special. It was also for you. He wanted YOU to hear this story and know that YOU are special. He is illustrating the kind of loving Father He wants to be for each of us.”

My life verse is “The thief comes to rob, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life in all its abundance.” John 10:10 Wouldn’t you know it? We found Big Red in the cornfield on 10/10.

RIP Big Red.  Your earthly mission is accomplished. I wonder what is next.  YES, THERE’S MORE.

Here We Go Again

February 11, 2016

bjgred“I just rolled my truck. Could you come get me?” Don’s voice was shakey, hopefully  due to the 5° Wednesday cold spell. I bundled up and drove a couple miles down our icy road where I spied Big Red standing in the field. The front windshield, tools and truck bed contents were strung out all over the ground.

I was relieved to see Don slowly walking toward me. He explained, “I hit an icy patch and my truck began sliding out of control. It spun around 360°and the next thing I knew I was through the ditch and everything went flying as the truck rolled over. It landed upright in the field. But I think I’m fine.” His back was hurting and I was shaken, but we both felt calm and peaceful. God had walked us through a lot of trials like this one over the years.

A passerby had called 911, and soon an ambulance whisked Don to the ER. The X-rays didn’t reveal any major damage, but the doctor warned him to expect some serious pain for a few days.

We texted family and friends to pray for swift healing and a good outcome from a seemingly bad day. Don’s back pain lightened as the prayers and encouragements flooding in:

“’Wow, what an incredible story of protection…Crazy-life is so fragile…He’s a walking miracle AGAIN…So happy he’s able to snore tonight!… His typically over-engineered ladder rack may have saved his life!!! Made a nice roll bar…He looks really good for rolling a truck…Yikes! Angels all around…Oh my. Thank you, Jesus for sparing Don again…There’s another chapter for Grandma’s book…What a rough way to get a new truck…Don, Don, Don.

Not only were the texts comforting and impactful; they helped us put things in focus. It slowly dawned on us how God had protected us from a day which could have ended much differently. Instead, we lay together in our warm bed, holding hands and thanking God, as we drifted off to a good night’s sleep.

I was hoping Don would take it easy the next day. Fat chance. With only a couple of pain pills, he was back working in his welding shop all day. It’s hard to keep a good man down.

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you.” Psalm 9:1,2

We all have bad days. Do you have a story where God orchestrated a good ending to a bad day?

 

Read more…

Bumping Bullet # 2

April 26, 2013

So how is it going in your tight space called “a home” with your people to bump into called    “family”? As I blogged about “Bumping Into Each Other,” I had a couple more “bumping bullets” to share that Don and I have learned over the past 50 years together.

Bumping Bullet # 2:  Learn to really talk to each other.

I’m not referring to chatting about events and issues but digging a little deeper to share how you feel inside about them. I suggest you talk together and agree to both take turns to listen to and share how each of you feels and thinks about a situation. I’m sure you have heard that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a good reason. Often I’ve found that a disagreement is diverted when we take the time to find out what is really going on in the other person’s head and heart. In our case, we’ve learned we often don’t know why the other person has a certain view until we dig a little and ask clarifying questions.

Here’s a little exercise my friend Ben shared a few years back.  I challenge you to test drive using “The Daily Four” and take turns with this sharing and listening exercise for a week and see what happens.

The Daily Four

  • What are you feeling?
  • What do you appreciate about your partner?
  • What are you thankful for?
  • Then pray together even if it is a sentence or two.

Sometimes amazing as it may seem, trying a little  something different works and draws us closer together!

If it doesn’t work and you are at a standstill or your partnership is going downhill, don’t hesitate to get a little outside help. Try something new, read a good book or article and share with it with each other or get help from another couple, a wise friend, counselor or pastor if you need it (and we all could use help at times). I agree with whoever said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Do whatever it takes. There is a lot of life ahead to live.

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