Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wow...What A Big Family!

Pictures in today's post are more from Vinnie's celebration of life party. So many people loved Vinnie!
Before I begin writing the story God's put on my heart to write tonight, I want to emphasize something...this blog, these stories are NOT about Vinnie, me, or anyone in our little family. In fact, even the post I am about to write, though it may seem like I am writing about people, I am NOT. I am writing about God. That is very important to understand. This is not about me. It is not about me being inspirational or encouraging. It is about God, it's about HIM being inspirational and He wants YOU to be encouraged and reminded that He still wants to work in people's lives. He is the one who gives Hope even in the most difficult situations. This blog is about God and how He can take broken cisterns like Vinnie, me, Michael, and all the rest of our children (and you and yours) and turn them into a new creation in Christ. I know with all confidence, that Vinnie and Michael would be thrilled to know that others can know what accepting the gift of Jesus in their lives has done for them, and those around them. These guys may be in Heaven applauding the ability God's given me to write about Him! Don't miss that! This is about God, not us. If you missed that - please stop right now and read again from the beginning!

I promised my husband before he died, that I would somehow find a way to allow people to continue to be encouraged about God by hearing how God worked in our challenging life together. I made this promise to Vinnie because we both knew and I know, that we aren't special. We've always known that if God was willing to do it for us, He is certainly willing and able to do it for many, many others. It's a world full of people with problems bigger than the size of Texas, and they don't know what to do with them. It is my prayer that this blog reaches and encourages as many people as God wants it to reach. It is after all, His story! I have very deliberately not mentioned our last names, the city I live in or even the name of my church. Those who know me, know many of the stories or some of them already and it helps to piece them together to see a clearer, bigger picture of our lives. But for those who don't know us personally, you don't need to know our full names, etc. It's not about us! I am thankful for modern technology that allows me this media to communicate God's story in our lives to others. For close friends and family this does provide opportunities to reflect and remember sweet times, but please let it also be a time to give praise to God. Look what He's done over the years! It's a miracle! OK. Let me proceed now to tell you about some awesome people - God's people!

I remember Vinnie and I wondering once in awhile if we should visit other churches. After all, we practically grew up in the church where we truly began our journey with God. My guess is that is a natural earthly desire to wonder if there is a benefit to shopping around. I suppose that comes from our society, always thinking that there is bigger, better, and greener on the other side of the fence. But in God's world, there is no fence - God's people are part of one BIG family!

When Vinnie first found out that he had cancer, he would tell me about emails that he received at work from people he'd never met from countries all over the world! That is the Body of Christ! Vinnie and I have been so blessed to be have Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have come along side us in difficult times to help in a multitude of ways over the years. The church family we go to church with and the small groups we've 'done life with' have been amazing! I remember Vinnie saying once, "Well, I guess if anything ever happened to me...[our church] would take good care of you, wouldn't they?" Well, yes, I figured they would because Sisters and Brothers in Christ long to live by the Word of God and see the Word of God made manifest in their lives. In 1 Timothy 5:3 it says, "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need." I know that the people in our church want to be sure that their widows are taken care if they need to be taken care of. Let me tell you how awesome is the Body of Christ in my life!

When Vinnie had his second surgery which was suppose to be the removal of his bladder and prostate and a reconstruction of an artificial bladder, there were many people praying from home for the surgery to go well and for fast healing. But when we found out that the kidney also had to be removed and that it was not going to be possible to reconstruct the bladder, we called the church. Within one hour, there all kinds of people who dropped everything to come pray and be an encouragement to my family. That week people were sending me gift cards so we would could eat at and stay longer at the hospital. When we did go home, there were families that cooked and delivered hot meals day after day. That is a tradition at our church. Bringing meals to a family is a sign of love and concern. Even when a family has a baby, there are families that bring meals from the day the baby arrives home and it goes on for weeks!

The Bible tells us that we are all individual parts of one big body and that Jesus is the head. (1 Corinthians 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.) When Vinnie had pain in his physical body, it effected how well he could function during the day. It is the same with the Body of Christ. If one part of the body is sick, the rest of the Body needs to pitch in to get the weakened part strong again. It is an awesome thing and thanks be to God - it works!

When Vinnie came home from the hospital, I eventually had to go back to work. I only had so much time I could take off. There were people who would come and visit with Vinnie during the day or in the evenings if I had something I had to go do. Occassionally I've had someone volunteer to clean my house. When we learned that Vinnie was going to die from the cancer, we decided to move to an apartment where it would be quieter and there would be less things to take care of. We rented our home to my daughter and her family. The moment I put up a request for help to move, we were overwhelmed by the multitude of people who were ready to help. I was even approached that day by a couple that I'd never met before who heard about our need for help, and they pitched right in. We had meals delivered, we had ladies helping to pack the old place, unpack the new place, clean cabinets, drawers, bathrooms, and people moved furniture all day long. There was enough help to not only move Vinnie and me to the apartment but also to move all my daughter's things in from storage and it all happened in one day! Lunches and dinners were provided for days! Vinnie was on disability then earning 70% of his regular pay and I had stopped working in the last month to take care of him and I didn't get paid during that time. We never made an announcement about our financial needs during that time, but as people prayed about how God might want them to help us, He must have told some families to give us money. I received gift cards to grocery stores, checks in the mail to pay for medical needs, light bills, and whatever we needed. It was amazing!

After Vinnie died, the love and care of the church did not cease for weeks! In fact, on occassion I still will receive a love offering given when someone feels like God prompted them to give. It always seems to be just the right amount to cover something that I wasn't sure how I'd cover it. I am amazed at the generosity of the church, and the sense of Family that overwhelms it's members when there is a true understanding of being One. I am still blown away when I see the Word of God made flesh in the many parts of the Body of Christ. I am blessed to have been on the end of the giver and the end of the receiver and both are a blessing. If you want to know more about this experience of the Body of Christ, or you are curious to know more about what it means to have a PERSONAL relationship with Him, please email me. I'd love to tell you more about it. Maybe my next blog will tell you about how Vinnie and I became Beleivers. God's done amazing things in our family in this regard. Again, they are stories of what God can do - turn prideful hearts of stone into hearts and lives of clay ready to be molded into the people He created us to be! My email is Please feel free to drop me a personal note. I would love nothing more than to be used by God to help you understand how you too may come to know Jesus is a real and personal way, and to allow Him to show you who and what purpose He has created you for.

I am blessed that I have not had to travel any of the difficult things in my life of the last 14 years alone. I've had Vinnie, my family, my church Family, and God and His Word to speak to me and comfort me and take care of me. But it's not because of who I am. It is not even because the people around me are great (at least not on their own). It is about the Giver of Life who pours out his spirit of blessings on his children and shows them how this blessing is to also bless others. I am humbled and in awe that God would adopt me into His amazing Family (Ephesians 1:5 "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...") but I thank Him daily that He has!

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