Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bed Rest, Baby, and Brownies

When I was 33 weeks pregnant with Sam I was put on bed rest for 5 weeks. The nurse told me that I’d regret any work I’d done if I had a tiny baby that I had to leave at the hospital for several weeks. My due date was April 16th, so when we were driving to the hospital late at night in pre-term labor on February 26th, I vehemently resolved to take all medical advice I received because I was determined to have a full term, April baby.

Josh was able to take the first week off work at the beginning of my bed rest. Josh’s mom and my mom were able to jump in and help out at a moment’s notice, too.  For those first few days, our little family basically learned how to function without Mom being upright.  Violet, then almost 2 years old, loved it.  Suddenly, Mommy was available to snuggle and read books anytime.  Evy, at 3 and a half, loved it.  We played a lot of Candy Land and watched a lot of princess movies.   But the house didn’t love it.  And the dishes, laundry, housework, yard work, and even the dog began to rebel against my new immobile lifestyle. The doctor said, “Get as much help as you can.”  And that’s when the term “church family” took on a whole new meaning to us.

For the entire month of bed rest, I never spent a day alone with the kids.  Every single day someone from our church family or biological family was at our house to help out.  Friends and family members shopped for groceries, diapers, and kids’ allergy medicines.  Helpers dressed my kids for me, changed diapers, let the dog in and out. Other moms from church brought their kids over to play with my kids while they did my dishes, set up Sam’s nursery, switched out loads of laundry, planted flowers in my yard, or just sat with me on the couch to chat.  Some moms with older kids came over and got down on the floor and played with my kids in between sweeping, vacuuming, and an everlasting stack of dishes.  I lost count of how many saints loaded and unloaded my dishwasher while I explained from the couch where things belonged.  One friend got to church early so that when the girls arrived with Josh, she could dress them, do their hair, and take them to Sunday School while I was home resting.

And the meals!  Friends and family brought over delicious foods and an almost constant supply of brownies (my favorite). Even moms that were pregnant themselves brought meals to us.  One friend was so thoughtful she even brought paper plates and cups so Josh wouldn’t have to do the dishes.

Others helped spiritually.  Prayer warriors prayed diligently for my health and Sam’s health.  Prayers were not only sent up from Bethany Church, but also from saints all over the country at all hours. One warrior woke her husband in the middle of the night and they prayed for Sam and me.

People felt so sorry for me, “Poor Crystal, on bed rest for a month with those little girls to take care of.”  But it was actually one of the most special months of my life.  The blessings were overwhelming, being surrounded by friends and family that loved us so much and wanted to see us have a healthy baby with no complications.  I treasured the face to face conversations that I had with friends who came over to bless me with their help, support, and prayers. I treasured the savory meals and delectable desserts!  I treasured having my “feet washed,” in Pastor Roger’s sense of the phrase.  I was humbled to be served by so many brothers and sisters in Christ through their agape love for our family.

When Jesus speaks to this at the end of Matthew 25—“I was hungry and you gave me food… I was sick and you visited me…”—I think I could add, “I was on bed rest and you came to clean my house.  I was on bed rest and you brought your kids to play with mine.  I was on bed rest and you prayed for my baby.”  This is church family.  This is love.

Samuel Joshua was born a few days after my bed rest ended, April 5th. He was a whopping 8 lbs, 12 oz, 22 inches long, and completely healthy; certainly NOT a preterm, tiny baby.  I blame the prayers, the help, and the love . . . and the brownies.

Crystal Nachtigall

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Do You Know Who I Am?

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Ed worked with the CFO of a large company.  The CFO drove Ed and others crazy because he was so rigid on how all the department heads could spend their budgets.  Ed figured the man was a control freak.  When the company invited the department heads and directors to an off-site planning meeting, one of the activities they did was to share one story of overcoming adversity.  The CFO shared how his family grew up poor, but he managed to escape that poverty.  He then added, “I guess that’s why I am so frugal with our resources.  I never want to be poor again.”  This was a light bulb moment for Ed.  By knowing a little of his CFO’s story, he understood some of his motivation and character.*

We connect with people through common activities or places, such as church, running, reading, or work.  However, connecting does not equal knowing.  Knowing comes when we build relationships.  We learn each other’s stories.  We ask questions that help us see the person, not a position or title.  In starting to know someone, we build the foundation of trust.

This piece of wisdom is a good application of Paul’s words to the Philippians when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3,4, ESV)  Knowing our brothers and sisters happens when we put their story first and learn who they are and where they have come from.  When we have a disagreement, we can trust there is no evil intent in our spiritual siblings if we have built a relationship of mutual concern and knowing.

This may seem so simple, yet it is a foundational piece missing from simple mutual connections.  We think we know someone because we see them all the time or like the same sports team.  We allow affinity to stand in for knowing each other.  It works until someone gets hurt; then the fragile trust is broken.

Do you know who I am?  You may know the public persona, but there is stuff below the surface to learn about me.  The same is true for you.  Let’s make it a point to care enough to truly know each other.  And if we have been separated by a past hurt or sin, let’s make it a point to forgive one another for the good of the whole body of Christ, that we might continue to do the Lord’s purposes in this place together.  Let’s learn to know each other… and let trust blossom.

Pastor Mike Spinelli

 

* from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.

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Sow the Seed

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There is an old song that goes: “Tho April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May.”

I have a single Thompson grape vine that goes 50 feet along the fence at my house. In January it was looking pretty dead. Then my neighbor (a grape farmer) pruned it for me, but it still looked like there was no life there. Then in April, with watering and food it started to green out. Now in May I can already see bunches of grapes forming. Looks like a bumper crop.

The term May Day has a couple of meanings. May Day is a spring festival in many countries. It is also an international radio-telephone signal word used as a distress call. Things happen in our lives and we call out: May Day!!! May Day!!! I think of our own Pastor Roger, who lost his wife on

May 1st of last year. How do we respond to such distress? I Corinthians 15 speaks of the resurrection of the body. When we plant, we don’t plant the flowers, but the seed. That seed seems to have no life at all. But in the spring it breaks forth in all its beauty. So it is with us. The body that is sown is perishable, but it is raised imperishable, in glory, in power, in a spiritual body.

There are people all around us who are calling out, “May Day!!! May Day!!!” It may be a silent cry or one with an outright sign of need. Let’s be ready to sow the seed so we can see new life.

 

Pastor Ed Willems

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