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Heartfelt Thanks

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart every friend who as much as uttered a single prayer for our family, especially in the time leading up to and during this holiday season. We were all openly dreading Christmas, knowing from all we've heard and all we've read that holidays, birthdays, etc., are especially gut-wrenching for the grieving, and knowing that we would be facing SO many painful yet sweet memories of Levi at every turn. It actually turned out to be a wonderful family time and I authentically credit YOUR prayers for playing the major part in that! Thank you, so very, very much for your faithfulness to us.

I'm not saying it was a day at Disneyland. There were still more than ample tears, sighs and sobs, but, all things considered, it was about as blessed a time as we could possibly have hoped for.

We are so thankful for all who have staunchly stood by us as we've walked through this "vale of tears." I feel as Paul must have felt when he suffered an affliction in his flesh that evidently made him rather repulsive, yet he is able to heartily commend the Galatian saints, because they "despised not, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God" (Galatians 4:14). How deeply moving and encouraging to my spirit you've been!

Some, for whatever reason(s), have distanced themselves, or remained aloof. But this has only served to set YOUR sweet lovingkindness in bold relief by stark contrast.

On another subject, I want to take this moment to take my hat off to a couple of the most courageous people I have ever had the privilege of knowing: my daughter, Carissa, and my crazy little wife-bones, Karen.

Our Sissa was in Israel when I called her with the horrific news of her kid brother. She immediately collapsed to the floor of that apartment in Tel Aviv and hyperventilated for what seemed an eternity to her already emotionally drained dad; her body fighting just to breathe because of the severe, traumatic shock to her brain, while I could only listen helplessly from half a world away. Such love for her Wivs; such a horrible violation to her sensitive protective instincts!

She and hub flew right home, bringing to a shrieking halt the thrilling (and expensive!) Hebrew training they had so looked forward to for months. As if the death of her beloved little brother wasn't heartbreak enough!

And now, despite her continuing health challenges and frustrations, despite the fact she still grieves so deeply it pervades even her dreams, despite apprehensions of tragedy striking again while she is parted from us, she and B.J. bravely boarded a plane once more in the dark hours of this morning, to soldier on with the mission God has laid on their heart.

Burly young men in the prime of health, who can run the hundred in just over 10 seconds in full gear, are paid seven-figure salaries and are nearly worshipped for their manly prowess on the football field. Quite frankly, I have FAR greater regard for the intrepid fortitude of the little 90-some pound warrior I had the profound pleasure of raising from her tiny punky-muffin status of yore.

And as for Karen, my precious wife-bones (Genesis 2:23; Ephesians 5:28-33, KJV); let's just say for now that when we all stand to give account and receive our just rewards (I Corinthians 4:5; Romans 14:10-12; II Corinthians 5:10), I believe some will be honored to have stood by this veteran of battle in her time of trial, and some may just experience a twinge of shame that they did not (lucky thing for them it is "the Judgment Seat of Christ" and not "the judgment seat of Ernst")!

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