Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remembering Barb Gorman

My friend, Barb Gorman, went to be with the Lord yesterday. Late last night when I could not sleep, I wrote this about her. The previous post is an article I wrote after the Gorman's baby girl passed away in October 2007.

Remembering Barb

Rarely do I check email in the middle of the day...especially on my busiest day of the week. But yesterday, Wednesday, March 25, when I came down to the basement to get a school book "something" led me to check my email. There was an email from Barb's husband Chris saying that she had passed away less than an hour before. I sat there in stunned silence because my mind did not want to grasp the truth. Eventually, I made my way upstairs and told the children. That is when the tears came. We did not have any more school that day.

I remember the first time I met Barb. It was at a Sheep meeting (my homeschool ladies group). We were in the same small prayer group and she had recently begun homeschooling her boys. I remember thinking how beautiful she was with her long wavy hair and her smooth skin. I was amazed to learn she had two young adult daughters. She looked far too young to have children that old.

I did not get to know Barb well until she after one of her miscarriages. Since I had, had several miscarriages we had something in common and were able to share heartache and experiences.

I will always remember the day Barb showed up at my door to loan me a stack full of books from her wonderful library. I was delighted, shocked and surprised to see that she was visibly pregnant. We had not actually seen each other for awhile, though we had spoken on the phone and by email, and she surprised me with the fact that she had successfully carried a baby long enough to be able to wear maternity clothes!

Sadly, Barb’s little Faith Evangeline did not survive to birth. Remembering how much it hurt me when people avoided me after we lost our babies, I called her the day after Faith died. We talked for a long time and she shared with me later how much it helped her to talk about it. I remember thinking that the positive side that had come out of losing all my babies was that I understood and could truly empathize when someone else went through the same thing.

The most vivid memory I have of Barb was at Faith’s funeral in October 2007. To this day, I cannot find the right words to describe her sweet, lovely, sad face that day. Her face was beautiful, yet not in the traditional sense of beauty. It showed sorrow, love, peace, tragedy, heartache….all at the same time. Her eyes especially pierced my heart. I can see her face, at her daughter’s funeral, as though it were yesterday.

After little Faith’s funeral, everyone was invited to the Gorman’s house for a meal. Barb shared with me how she had felt she needed more time with little Faith and how gracious those at the funeral home had been about that. She had been able to go to the funeral home the morning of the funeral and hold and rock little Faith and spend some final moments alone with her.

A few weeks after Faith’s death, Barb learned that she had cancer. This time, I felt completely helpless. I knew what to say to a friend who looses a baby. I didn’t have a clue what to say when someone has cancer. I felt that I was not “there” for her in the way I had been when she lost her babies. Yes, I emailed and sent notes and chatted with her when we saw each other, but I just didn’t feel that I was truly the friend to her that I had been before. I just didn’t know what to say or do.

Yet, a week and half before her death, she shared with me how God had sent different people into her life at just the right time. While the Lord has used me to encourage her after Faith died, He used others when she became so ill. It brought me great comfort to hear her say that.

I write articles for a homeschool newsletter and Barb was one of my editors. Through the second half of 2007, when she was pregnant with Faith and after Faith’s birth and death, and all through 2008 while she was battling cancer, Barb continued to faithfully edit my articles. She did not miss a single month. For a writer, my grammar and spelling is atrocious. Barb was wonderful. She caught all my mistakes and she also gave helpful hints and ideas as to how I could make the articles more clear. She also gave me several ideas on how to expound on what I had written. She liked details and personal examples. This month I will be sending in the first article in a year and half of writing them that has not been edited by Barb. This may sound strange, but even as I write this, I wish Barb could edit it. I know she would make it a better article. She always did.

I don’t know whether Barb liked those questionnaires you get by email as much as I did or if she filled them out to be nice but she nearly always returned them. It was fun to learn little things about her that I would have never thought to ask her otherwise. Those questionnaires are the kind that you usually read and delete but how I wish now that I had saved the one’s from Barb.

One thing I will always remember about Barb is how “others oriented” she was. No matter what was going on in her life…a miscarriage, Faith’s death, her cancer…she was always concerned about my life. She always asked about my family and how we were doing. Even during our last phone call, she asked how I was doing.

A week and half before her death, Barb and I talked on the phone for quite a while. Her voice was so quiet and weak that I had to go to my room and shut the door and put my finger in my other ear. We talked of many things. We talked about Faith, about her living children, about how supportive and wonderful her husband was, about financial struggles and about her health. She even wanted to know about my family and how we were doing. I will always treasure the memory of that conversation. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was our goodbye to each other.

See you later, Barb. This is not goodbye. We are only one breath and heartbeat away from seeing you again. Only this time in Heaven, a place where there will be no tears, no cancer, no babies dying.

You are with your little Faith Evangeline again. What a joyful reunion that must have been. Most of all, you are with your Savior. What a vibrant, joyful testimony you have been for Him. May you rest in His Presence for eternity.

Article written the evening of Faith Evangeline's funeral in October 2007

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep.” Romans 13:15

I had another article already written for this month’s column. In fact, I was just ready to send it to my friends who edit for me. After fighting insomnia for over an hour, I finally gave up and came down here to write the article that was on my heart.

My heart is heavy tonight for a dear family in my homeschool group who buried a sweet little baby girl today. The mother’s sweet, sad, beautiful face comes into my mind every time I close my eyes. Having been through a similar experience myself, the funeral was an especially emotional experience as I not only grieved for this family but also remembered my own loss as well.

“That is very sad,” You are probably thinking. “But what does that have to do with homeschooling?”

What I saw at the funeral today had everything to do with homeschooling. As homeschooling families, we often have opportunity to “rejoice with those who rejoice” but how sweet and precious it is to also “weep with those who weep.” This was very evident during the funeral as many shed tears over the Homegoing of little Faith Evangeline. Big strong men wept right along with their wives.

After the funeral there was a reception at the family’s home. At the reception, I chatted with other homeschooling moms. We talked about sorrows we had in our own lives. We talked about the usual homeschool subjects such as curriculum and new ideas we are implementing this year. Another homeschooling mom asked me gently how I was doing with a sin issue that I had shared with her some time ago and I was touched that she remembered and cared enough to ask . What really touched my heart, though, was the way the homeschool community gathered around the bereaved family, supporting them during this very difficult time. Homeschooling moms brought food, sent emails for the family, gave the sweet, grieving mother multiple hugs and, in short, did everything they could to support the family.

Even though homeschooling moms are some of the busiest women in the world, many of them seem to be able to take the time to reach out to others. They seem to reach out to others not only with minor concerns such as “What curriculum do I use this year?” but also with sad tragedies like the loss of a little one.

Our family has had one on-going struggle for many years of our homeschooling. Each time I have attended our local homeschool group, I have shared the same prayer request with my small group. Instead of rolling their eyes and thinking, “Oh brother, she has shared that same request for the past how many years?” they support and encourage me in this difficult situation.

As I saw everyone gather around to help this grieving family today, I asked myself if I encourage other homeschooling mothers. Am I so wrapped up in my own little homeschooling world that I forget that other homeschooling moms out there are struggling as well? Do I encourage my homeschooling friends either by word or deed? When another homeschooling mother gets done talking to me is she encouraged to continue her homeschooling endeavor or does she feel exactly as she did when the conversation started? Worse yet, does she feel more discouraged than ever?

One doesn’t have to belong to a support group to help other homeschooling families. Just an encouraging word on the phone or by email can mean the world to someone. The most encouraging conversations I have had have been in a one-on-one setting with another mom.

There are seasons in homeschooling when others especially need encouragement. The first year of homeschooling is nearly always met with at least a bit of fear and trepidation. After a new baby is born, homeschooling the other children can be a real challenge. After the loss of a loved one, it can be emotionally draining to try to school the children. Sometimes a family member becomes ill. On a more minor scale, my oldest started high school. I had some concerns about whether or not we were doing everything “right.” Several friends who have been through this already helped to put my mind at ease.

What are some practical ways we can help other homeschooling families? Here are some that came to my mind.

1. First and foremost, we homeschoolers need to be in constant prayer for each other. There are times when homeschooling can be a very difficult thing, especially when going through a trying time or when there are friends and family members who are not supportive of homeschooling.

2. Take a meal to a family who is going through an especially tough time such as an illness, loss of a loved one, has someone in the hospital or has just had a new baby.

3. Listen, listen, listen. Often another homeschooling mom just needs to talk. More likely than not, she does not need a lot of advice but just needs someone to listen to her concerns. In fact, even though I have been homeschooling my children for ten years, I have learned never to give advice unless someone specifically asks. The Lord leads each homeschooling family in different ways and what works for one, may not work for the other.

4. Be an example of compassion to your children. Have them help to prepare a meal to take to another family. Perhaps they could make cards for the children in the family when they have gone through a difficult time.

5. Be patient. Perhaps someone comes to you with the same problem over and over again. Keep listening. Keep praying. As I mentioned before, I have shared the same specific prayer request with my homeschooling friends for years and they continue to support me. This encourages me so much.

6. Send encouraging notes.

There are also times when we can rejoice with our fellow homeschoolers. A few examples would be when a new baby is born, when a particular homeschooling hurdle has been overcome, when a broken marriage is healed or when a child graduates.

I don’t know about you but sometimes it is almost easier for me to “weep with those who weep” than it is for me to “rejoice with those who rejoice”. When something wonderful happens to someone, I tend to think “Oh, that is nice,” and then go on with my own life instead of taking the time to call them and send them a note to share in their happiness.

Occasionally, I even struggle a bit with jealousy when something nice happens to someone else. When another homeschooling family has found the big house of their dreams out in the country (which happens to be a desire of mine), it has been easy for me to covet instead of rejoicing with them. When I was going through years of longing for more children only to have one miscarriage after another, it was hard to rejoice with the homeschooling moms who had baby after baby with no problem whatsoever. However, when I really thought about it, I realize that my attitude was ungodly and unbiblical. Instead of coveting, I should have been rejoicing in the blessings of my fellow homeschoolers.

You may have noticed that I have used the word “encourage” over and over again in this article. That is usually a “no-no” for writers, but in this case I thought it was very important to emphasize that word. The best thing we can do for our fellow homeschooler, next to prayer is to encourage each other.

I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of little Faith Evangeline Gorman and in honor of her mother who exemplifies so much of what was written in this article.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joshua's report about his college/ministry trip

College Trip Report

The sky still dark, I awoke at 5:20 am, quickly dressed myself and packed last-minute essentials. Next thing I knew, I was out the door. I was preparing to go on a college trip that would take me to Pacific Garden Missions, Shepherds and Maranatha Baptist College. Seven other teens would be going on the trips as well, in addition to my pastor and his wife. The attendance evenly divided between guys and girls. I spent the first leg of the trip primarily sleeping in an attempt to make up for the lack of sleep I had received the night before. This was a dismal failure.

While traveling, a rather annoying Tom Tom mechanically spouted out direction. We arrived at Chicago early that afternoon. Our tour of PGM did not begin until three o’clock so we decided to take a bus to Navy Pier. I decided very quickly that I hate Chicago bus rides. It was while driving through Chicago that I prophesied that we would die in the van.

We all had a wonderful time at Navy Pier. There were several private yachts docked along the Pier. One even came with its own helicopter. While there were visited a building which archived and displayed things like drug activity and stain glass windows. There, some of the guys amused themselves by running up the down escalator.

When we returned to Pacific Garden Missions a guide by the name of Kent gave us a tour. Kent is possibly the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. Between every single sentence, he would say, “Amen?” and ask that we respond in form. So the tour went something like this, “This is where our overnight guests stay. Amen? It can house anywhere from zero to 3000 people. Amen?” His upbeat attitude got us all excited. When we left PGM, Kent stopped us at the door and prayed with us, on the stop and right in the middle of the hall. He was a great encouragement to each one of us.

After the tour, we got to see an episode of their radio broadcast, Unshackled!, being recorded. After this, we had an amazing meal of meat and mashed potatoes. After leaving, we followed the Tom Tom’s directions to Bethel Baptist Church where we would be spending the night. The associate pastor took us into the gym. We were all impressed by its size and quality. When we commented on this, the associate pastor causally said, “Oh yeah, this is our middle gym. We just got it replaced by a bigger one.” What was big to us was small to them. What else would you expect from Iowans visiting Chicago? So we spent the evening playing basketball and dodgeball.

That night we slept on the floor of one of the classrooms in Bethel’s Christian school. This made me slightly nervous. I was tired. The night before I had gotten very little sleep and the traveling only made me more tired. I wasn’t sure I could survive the rest few days with so little rest. But my God is the one of created the concept of rest, so I prayed to Him and asked my Father to give the strength to get through the week. In twenty minutes, I was out like a light. I don’t even fall asleep that fast home! I praise my Lord for taking care of His servants even in the mundane things of life.

The next day we attended the Sunday school and church services. Both were very God-honoring and thought provoking. The people were very friendly, something I did not expect from a church that size. After the service, we went to a restaurant called Texas de Brazil. At your request, carvers would come with big slabs of meat and serve them to you. Everything from beef and to pork to lamb was available. That was when I realized that I wouldn’t last a day as a vegetarian.

And so, we left for Shepherds, a home for the mentally disabled. We were suppose to sing in their chapel, but they ended up not having the service because the flu was going around and the staff wanted to keep it contained. Therefore, we made our way over to the place where we would be staying. The home was very nice. It had a ping-pong table, an already stocked freezer, three bedrooms, a living room, a separate dining room and more space than we knew what to do with. That night, we had our own little church service. We discussed the previous day. I taught them all to play missionary madness. We had a great time doing that.

The next morning we got up bright and early and went an orientation at Shepherds. Directly afterward, we went to help out at Shepherds Enterprises, where many of the residents work. It was my job to put together boxes. There was this machine that would dispense tape to hold the boxes together. Apparently, this machine had some sort of issue against me. It kept slitting out tiny, little pieces for me. But when the other guy making boxes would come over (he was one of the residents) the machine would give him a nice long piece. Of course, he got a real kick out of that.

After lunch, we headed to Maranatha. There, we received a tour of the campus. That night, after a wonderful supper, we attended an event run by a student group called X-Caliber. X-Cal is an improvised comedy group. We had a great time watching their antics.

That night we stayed in the dorms. One of my favorite parts of that time there was the devotional all the men on the floor had. They sang, prayed and discussed the day’s chapel service. I had kind of interesting experience with the people staying in my dorm. There were three students there. One of them pretty much ignored me. My interaction with the second student was primarily just polite small talk. However, the third one won’t stop talking to me. It was interesting to get all these different reactions.

The next morning, I attended three classes. One was on Biblical exposition. I found that one to be very practical. Many of the things talk in that class were very useful. The second was on church safety. I had to miss out on the last few minutes of that class because I had a meeting with one of the professors. He helpfully explained a bit about the college and what all went into being a student at Maranatha. The final class was on apologetics. That one was very interesting. The man who taught the class was something of a genius. The entire class was very thought provoking.

Soon after the apologetics class, we left Maranatha. Six hours later, we were pulling in at the church. That’s essentially my trip in a nutshell. I’m very grateful that I could go and for all that my Lord taught me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our Day in Omaha by Joseph and Jennifer

Our day in Omaha, by Joseph, age 13

We went to the zoo with Grandpa and Grandma on Saturday. Josh and Josiah got soaked on the trip there. It was raining and the car was leaking.

When we got to the zoo we went to the desert dome. Then we looked at the butterflies. Then we went to the aquarium. Then we went to the jungle. I don’t really have a favorite thing, I liked it all. We saw a movie about the sea.

After the zoo, we went to Spaghetti Works but none of us got spaghetti. I ordered lasagna which is very tasty. I also had a sundae.

After that we went to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. When we walked in two of the cats ran off but Smokey stayed with us. Smokey is very playful. We loaded the car with the groceries that Grandpa and Grandma gave us. And then we went home.

I had a really nice day.

Our Day in Omaha by Jennifer, age 7

I loved Omaha! The zoo was great. First we gave our tickets and then we went to the desert dome. Then we went to the butterflies. They were so pretty. I brought my camera and my Dad picked me up and I took a picture of the butterflies. There was a huge one. It was so pretty. Then we went to the jungle. Hooo Hooo Roar Roar Tweet Tweet There was a funny monkey and it tried to get a leaf that the Mom had. It was a cute monkey.

We were going to go to the jungle trail but we didn’t have time because we needed to get to the movies. It was a movie about under the sea animals. A seal kissed me. It was a 3-D movie.

Then we went to Spaghetti Works and I got a huge lasagna. I could not eat it all so I had to take it home. I had cheesecake for dessert. Mmmm, Mmmm, my favorite…cheesecake!

Then we went to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. The cats ran away except for one cat named Smokey who stood and stared at us. It looked like he said “What are you doing here?” but he didn’t really say that. We played with Smokey. Then we hugged our Grandma and Grandpa and went home. The End

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Many of you know about Barb Gorman, a friend of mine and a member of my homeschool groups. She is also one of the wonderful women who edit my Niche articles each month. The past two years, Barb has gone through more heartache and trials than many go through in a life time. In October 2007, she lost a baby girl at nearly full term. A few weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer. She spend most of 2008 battling a rare, very aggresive form of breast cancer. 10 weeks ago she was declared cancer free. Then, it came back with a vengence. I would really appreciate your prayers for Barb and for her family. Below are two letters. The top one is the last one that Barb sent out. The bottom one is from a member in my homeschool group who is oranizing some help for Barb and her family. Please do not feel obligated in any way to give but I wanted to lay this opportunity out there, just in case God lays it on your heart to pray for Barb or even contribute.

Hi all. Thank you for your prayers, I can't tell you how much that helps strengthen us. We're starting to see doors close and open for treatment options.

Each time of talking with the doctors reveals more information. Most of which I really didn't want to know. They gave me a life expectancy today that I wasn't happy about, and I've decided that I'm not going to accept it or believe it. God is all powerful and can do all things.

At this time we've decided to go to Wichita for vitamin C IV therapy. I want to do therapy that won't ruin my health, but is healing. If nothing else, I don't want the therapy to wipe me out and leave me on the couch nauseous. Pretty much everything we're looking at is alternative therapy. I really don't have a peace about taking chemo again. (the insurance company is probably thrilled! chemo cost them a fortune last year!)

We're doing (my husband is doing all the work) juicing, enzymes, probiotics, Razz Tabs and several other things.

With the complications of the liver cancer, I can't take in all I would like to. The pain is increasing and my mobility is quickly decreasing. With the edema in my legs/feet and torso, I'm uncomfortable most of the time and am having difficulty sleeping. This and the liver are my most urgent prayers because this is where most of my pain is coming from. Please continue to pray for our family and for safe travel. The kids are having a hard time. There are fewer and fewer places they can hug me that don't hurt and to see the hurt on their faces, because of the pain on mine is hard to handle when they just wanted to show me love. Chris is trying so hard to minimize my pain and help out, he's running ragged. He has such a good heart and I was so blessed to have had God give him to me as my husband. Ruth has continued to find new ways to act out and cause turbulence in our home, it's her thing she does when things are stressful. She will be going to stay with a friend for a while to give us a break and a chance for peace around the house. Even the grandmas are needing a break at this point. We praise God for the gal helping us out.

Thank you so much to those who've sent cards and helped in so many ways. May God open His flood gates of blessings to you.

Barb Gorman
God is Good all the time.....All the time, God is good"You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions." Adlin Sinclair


Dear SHEEPs group,

I have been praying about starting a fundraiser for the Gorman family, though I hadn't approved this through Barb yet. I talked with her husband this morning and he said it was okay if that was what I felt lead to do. She is heading to Wichita to undergo Vit. C drip treatments. All of the current treatments they are pursuing are an out-of-pocket expense. This treatment itself with testing will run between $4000-$4500. This doesn't include traveling and all that goes along with that.

I think most of their physical needs are met through family, but I am sure more help would be wonderful in the form of meals, etc. Mostly, parents are watching the children and providing meals at this point. I will provide the Gorman's address and phone number below. The phone number if you would like to bring a meal, you can call and check first. The address if you would like to send a donation. The most important thing we can do right now is faithfully pray for Barb and her family.

If we could somehow lift the financial burden, that would be helpful. My son, is working on a letter to go out to many people and churches in different parts of this country to ask for prayer (the number one need) and any financial support they are willing to give. Any of you could do the same. You could send a letter to your church or family or people you know, explaining Barb's situation and health and need.I am suggesting a gift of $100. I know times are rough, and many people have already given, so I am trying to reach beyond local friends and groups, but at the same time, not exclude local friends and groups.

If you would like to donate, you can just send a check made out to Chris and/or Barb Gorman to their home address. If you would like to donate anonymously, you could just send a money order.

Chris and Barb Gorman
5987 NE 88th Street
Altoona, IA 50009

Thank you for keeping them in your prayers and considering what you can do to help.

In Christ,
Mary Dorin
"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24