Monday, April 27, 2009

A high light of Joshua's Teenpact week (written by Josh)

Josh’s Mathematical Equation

Here’s a math equation worth doing:

1 hearing(TeenPacters) + ties|skirts - noisy zealots = 1 memorable experience

After dodging this for almost three weeks, I’ve decided to sit down and record one of the highlights from my week at TeenPact. It happened Wednesday night. That day during classes, we had been made aware of an opportunity to go to the Iowa House of Representatives and listen in on a hearing for a bill that would do away with the Federal deductibility. Because of my roll as a staffer and my duties at the camp, I just assumed I would not be able to go. However, during supper, the Program Director asked if I would go along. Naturally, I agreed.

Therefore, I got back into my suit and tie, put of my TeenPact nametag and headed out the door. After dividing up into our respective vehicles, we went directly to the capitol. When we got to the floor where the legislatures where located, I was surprised to find an almost eerie atmosphere.

Prior to that day, I had only been at the capitol during the day, usually mid-afternoon when everything was lively and busy. But that evening, the rotunda was almost completely empty. Our footsteps actually echoed in the great room. Over the load speakers, we could hear the seemingly inhuman voice of the Speaker, which was distorted by the electronics.

Our original plan was to go to the galleries located behind the Speaker. However, we soon realized that they were completely full, as were all the other galleries. Therefore, we sent onto the floor and stood behind the representatives.

One by one, people from around the state came up and voiced their opinion on the bill. Many of the students would later comment on how amazed they were to see ordinary people speak before the House. It really made the government feel far less distant than we normal perceive it to be.

After a person would finish speaking the crowd - which was predominantly against the bill - would cheer, hiss, or make their opinion known some way. A couple of time, the Speaker banged his gavel and told the crowd that if they did not remain quiet he would be forced to clear the floor. But the next time around he did nothing expect give another warning.

During the course of the hearing, one of the students had wondered off because he was getting too warm and claustrophobic in the over-crowd chambers. As a staffer, I was sent to find him and make sure he was okay. So, I left the floor and re-entered the eerie rotunda. The only other people there, was the student and a state trooper. While I was out there, I listened to the load speakers. I remember hearing the ravel fall and Speaker announcing that he really was going to clear the floor. Next, I heard a loud uproar from the crowd. The Speaker pounded his gavel, attempting to resort order, but the crowd continued their protest.

I later learned that the local media had reported that the Speaker was forced to call in state troopers to restore order. Well, I have to see the “state troopers get called in.” A man came out of the chamber and asked if the state troopers standing in the hall would come in and help. I found it amusing to see first-hand how things are thrown out of proportion.

While the crowd streamed out, I met up with my fellow TeenPacters. Once we were all together we had a little powwow and discussed the situation. The students decided that, if possible, they would like to stay. Therefore, a call was made to a representative we knew. He agreed to let us in as guests. It was an amazing privilege to be able to hear the rest of the hearing.

When we got back in the vans and headed back, I made a point of reminding my guys that they had just done a wonderful job at representing, not only TeenPact, but Jesus Christ. While, we were at the capitol, several people came up to us and commented on how amazed they were to see young people dressed professionally and involved in government. This allowed us to talk about TeenPact, which then allowed us to talk about Christ. To me, that was the most important part of the entire experience. Through it all, our God was glorified.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Niche "Remembering Barb" article

Here is the article I wrote for Niche in Barb's memory. As you can see, I cut and pasted some things from my previous article about her. This was by far the most difficult article I have ever had to write but also one of the most precious.

Remembering Barb Gorman

On March 25, the Lord called one of His own Home to Heaven to be with Him. Barbara Gorman was a faithful friend and a loving wife. She was also the mother of seven children, five of them her biological children, and two children adopted through the foster care system. One of her adopted children and the baby she gave birth to in October, 2007 preceded her in death. Barb was a wonderful example to so many of us as a Christian, wife, mother, friend and homeschooling mom. I know that I am a better wife, mom, friend and Christian for having known her.

In the days following Barb’s Homegoing it became very clear to me how many lives she had touched. Barb and I belonged to the same homeschool group. After her death, many members of our group sent emails through our homeschool e-mail loop sharing stories and memories of Barb. Several of us also gathered together the evening after her death to share memories, cry, laugh and pray together. Over and over I heard special stories about Barb’s life.

I think the most precious story I heard, the evening we gathered together, was about the family who unknowingly brought about Barb’s salvation. Nancy and Stuart Meyer were Barb’s neighbors. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, they would walk to and from church, pushing their babies in the strollers. Barb and her daughters would peek out the windows from behind the curtains and watch this family walk past. It made quite an impression on Barb that the Meyers were so faithful in attending church and eventually this led to her salvation. The most precious part of this story is that Nancy Meyer did not even know this until a week before Barb’s death. Nancy and Peggy Appel were at Barb’s home praying with her and Barb shared the story with Nancy.

I could write a book quoting all the tributes and memories I heard and read about Barb in the days following her Homegoing but since this is supposed to be an article and not a book, I had to choose only a few. I have asked three homeschooling moms for permission to quote them in this article.

Gina Greene shared the following story, “I loved her very much. She was very dear to my kids and me. I will never forget the day we spent together making Italian cookies. We had millions of them. We were trying to figure out all the people we could dump them on-Oh pardon me, I mean all the people we could bless by giving them to! Lots of laughs that day, and frosting everywhere.

There was the time when no one was supposed to know she was pregnant, and I didn't realize it. I blurted the whole thing over the SHEEP email loop....she could have been extremely mad at me, but she just sat there and laughed and laughed when I ‘fessed up.

Then there was the day she went “sledding” across the street with us. It turned out to be a warm day, and it was more like boating. She was such a good sport speeding down the hard icy hill with a huge smile on her face even when she hit the bottom.... which had turned into a deep pond. With water flying all over the place she was drenched and laughed her head off. The kids looked like mud monsters, and we even made foil boats to float in the river we made with the water and snow. We raced them.”

Another homeschooling mom, Mary Dorin, shared this through our email loop the day after Barb’s death, “One thing Barb said clearly in one of our personal e-mails was ‘this is a win-win situation for me.’ She also said, ‘God doesn't waste pain.’ Her hope was so much that she could minister to others through this situation. We all know that she has done that.”

One thing that nearly everyone talked about was Barb’s smile and laughter. One homeschooling Mom even said that she pictures Barb in Heaven giggling with Jesus. Barb had a joyful spirit and it rubbed off on her friends.

The most vivid memory I, personally, have of Barb was at her baby 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.

No matter what tragedy she was going through in her own life, Barb reached out to others. I remember the day of Faith’s funeral, she asked me if I was okay. She knew I had lost several babies and thought perhaps attending a funeral of a baby would bring back thoughts of my own sad losses. I remember being sweetly touched that, on one of the saddest days of her life, she was concerned about me.

Sarah Heywood shared yet another touching story about the day of Faith’s funeral, “Our due dates were 4 days apart in 2007. We were both expecting very long-awaited and prayed for babies. Throughout our pregnancies we compared notes and bellies. I'll never forget at little Faith's funeral slinking in, trying to hide my big belly because I felt so bad that my baby was alive and her's was not. But the time came that I needed to greet Barb and Chris and I half expected Barb to burst into tears at the sight of my very pregnant self. But she gave me the biggest smile, wrapped her arm around my shoulder and proceeded to tell those around me that I was expecting a baby boy who would be here in just a week! I know she was hurting but she put her sadness aside to focus on my happiness. That's the kind of person Barb was. It gives me great joy to know that today, she's holding her precious baby.”

The verse “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” certainly applied to Barb. She threw herself wholeheartedly into every endeavor whether it was homeschooling, organizing, gardening, scrap booking, living a healthy lifestyle, and most importantly of all striving to live a life that would be pleasing to her Lord and Savior. If Barb knew I was writing an article about her, I know, for a fact, she would not want me to make her appear perfect. She was very open and transparent about her weaknesses.

I not only lost a dear friend but also a wonderful editor. I could not write these articles if it were not for my editors. I have been so thankful for my two “main” editors, Barb and Sarah Heywood who have faithfully edited these articles every month in spite of their busy lives as homeschooling moms. Throughout 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 are atrocious. Barb caught my grammar and spelling errors and she also gave helpful hints and ideas as to how I could make the articles better. She nearly always gave me several ideas on how to expound on what I had written. She liked details and personal examples. This is the first article in a year and half of writing them that has not been edited by Barb. Even as I am writing this article about her, I wish Barb could edit it. I know she would make it a better article. She always did.

Barb was an optimist. Clear to the end, she hoped for a cure and prayed for a miracle. As Pastor Ropp said at her funeral, God answered her prayer by healing her-not in the way that we had hoped- but by giving Barb ultimate healing.

I would be remiss not to mention Barb’s husband Chris. A few weeks before her death she sent me an email that included the following statement about her husband, “He has stood by me and supported me and helped me through things no family should have to go through. He is a blessing from God. I try to thank God and him each day.” At the end of the email that Chris sent out after Barb’s death he wrote, “No matter the outcome, we have decided to praise Him!”

A week and a half before her death, Barb and I talked on the phone for quite a while. Her voice was so quiet and weak that I could barely hear her. We talked of many things. We talked about Faith, about her living children, Jean- 24, Sally-22, Andrew-11, Jeremiah -7, and Ruth, their 6 year old adopted daughter. We talked 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.

My wise, Godly father-in-law had a heart attack last summer and for awhile we thought we might lose him. One thing he said was, “When I go, it will be because I have done all the work that my God had planned for me to do.” As difficult as it may be for us to understand why the Lord would take a young mother who still had young children at home, we know that her work here on this earth was done. She had accomplished what the Lord sent her to do.

At the end of Barb’s emails there was a quote. “God is Good all the time.....All the time, God is good.” Though she had more trials in her nearly 43 years of life than most people have in an 80 year lifetime, she lived her life by this quote.

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