A Christmas Blessing

Posted in holidays on December 25th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Speaking of family outings, we found a fun place weekends ago in Fort Wayne Indiana  – it’s an indoor ice skating place, and they have THREE ice rinks!  But we didn’t have time to try ice skating; our family was more interested in the bouncy castles.  At $5 /  head from 1-4pm, it wasn’t a bad deal.  The only problem was that they had the bouncy castles in the ice arena area, and it was freezing in there!  The kids were ok, but we weren’t able to stay as long as we wanted, plus they were all frozen by the time we left.  If they had just noted their arrangement on their website, we could have dressed for the occasion, but that’s ok, it was still fun.  After that, we had a delicious dinner at Golden Corral – YUM!

But something strange happened there – I was waiting for a man to finish at the buffet, and he apologized for taking so long (he wasn’t) and then handed me a “Christmas blessing” on a folded up piece of paper.  He was vague in the details; just mentioning ‘Christmas Blessing’, so I opened up the paper, and it was a copy of a newspaper article about the man’s family – mainly his elderly mother.  Looking at the picture in the article told me that the man who gave it to me was Raymond, whom you’ll read about below.  Although the article was from 1996, he mentioned that he was with his mother that day at the restaurant – she is doing well here in 2010, 14 years later!  I find the family’s story inspirational, and I thought I’d help the man spread his family’s touching story – the story featuring his mother’s boundless faith and he and his father finding Christ.  Below is a copy of the article he gave me; I hope you find it inspirational reading on this very special holiday.  Merry Christmas!

‘She taught us by what she did’

Thanksgiving this year had a special glow for Arlene Berger, 74, and her family.
They gathered for the holiday meal in the new house the Flushing Township resident, severely brain-damaged in a 1994 traffic accident, shares with one of her sons, his wife, and two children.
Her house was built with funds from her accident settlement and her family is determined life will be as meaningful as possible for the woman left with physical as well as mental impairment.
Her progress has been awesome, as has been the help she’s received from others, according to two of her five children.

Raymond, 47, the eldest of her four sons, and David, 32, the youngest, this week recounted details of their mother’s accident and her life of righteousness.

With 15 years separating them, they hold different views of how their mother’s faith affected them.

“I used to mock her; my other brothers did,” Raymond said of his youth in Flint.

David said, “She was the most giving person, many of us thought to a fault.  I remember a couple of times she didn’t know how she was going to pay her bills, and when I asked her about how she had spent her money, she had given some to this person, some to that one.”

Raymond concurred, “We thought she was being used.  We told her there ain’t no God and to quit giving everything away.  But we weren’t thinking like she was.”

Their Bible-reading Baptist mother was living up to the passage:”Give, and it shall be given to  you.” (Luke 6:38)

“Now she’s on the receiving end.” said David.  “Because of the way she was before the accident, people want to do for her.”

Church members are showing up to care for her to  a degree  the family never could have imagined.

“She gave everything away her whole life, and now her kids all want her to have an enjoyable life,” David said.

It was not just her older sons who derided her faith.

Raymond, a Flint truck plant employee, recalls his late father chasing ministers away from the door.

“He had been anti-religious.  He worked and he drank.  I didn’t really know him until I was old enough to drink, old enough to go to the bars,” Raymond said.

In 1981, their father had a massive heart attack.  His wife’s church prayed for him, and he survived to embrace salvation.

He lived the last two years of his life a Christian.

Raymond said he also has been saved, and has seen the difference faith has made in his life.”That was a miracle,” he said.  “I never thought I’d see my dad in a church.  I never thought I’d see myself in a church.”

David, on the other hand, attended John R. Rice Baptist Academy in Davison and went on to graduate from a bible college.  He teaches at Bridgeport Baptist Academy during the day and works at Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems at night.

He was the assistant pastor at Landmark Baptist Church, where his mother was headed Feb.24, 1994, when her car was hit in the driver’s side by a Jeep Cherokee whose driver had run a red light, he said.  He was notified that his mother had been taken to Hurley Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.

She underwent two emergency surgeries in short order.

A CAT scan showed 11 brain hemorrhages and blood on her brain stem, he said.

“She was in a coma the whole time,” David said.  “After three months, the doctors told us she might not ever come out of it because of her age and the length of time since the accident.”

Her children were told of the probability that she would never be able to walk, talk, or feed herself.

“Well, you ain’t God,” Raymond told them.

After three-and-a-half months at Hurley, she was moved to Riverbend Nursing Center in Grand Blanc, where she stunned David by allowing nurses to walk her in ” baby steps” the first day.

She progressed out of the coma.  Raymond rememberedd first noticing her fingers tapping to the inspirational music tapes her family supplied.

Raymond and David recall the times she responded with an “I love you, too” to each of them.

Arlene Berger received three months of therapy at Riverbend before transferring to McLaren Regional Medical Center to build skills she would need for living at home.

His brothers and sister back David up in caring for their mother, who lost her left eye and use of her left hand in the accident and now has an erratically functioning mind with an IQ of 90.

“A lot of people live for themselves, don’t do for their kids.  And then the kids don’t do for them,” David said.  “She taught us by what she did.”

10 Years, 1 Year

Posted in Everyday Life on December 18th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

December 18 marks two anniversaries of immense personal loss – 10 years ago today, my father-in-law passed away from ALS.  Though some memories are still painful, a decade of time has numbed the pain of his loss a little, and it’s easier to focus on the good times we shared and the countless wonderful things he did for people during his lifetime.  Albeit selfishly, I sometimes wish that Vince was here to meet his 7 wonderful grandchildren, to realize our family’s growing relationship with God and our spiritual journey, and to see how far his son has come in life.  I think he would be so proud.  More about December 18, 2000 was written here.

December 18, 2009 – Last year, on the day that was 9 years to the day after Vince’s passing, our family dog Charity passed away unexpectedly.  She was almost 12 years old but in seemingly good health.  She was fine in the morning, gone by dinnertime.  Not enough time has passed to heal the pain of her loss since she was like a child to us, but there is no reason to dwell on such melancholy topics here in the blog.

I’m thankful that I have a busy December 18 this year, that it’s on a Saturday and that I don’t have to spend it alone.  I’m writing this ahead of time and scheduling it to post itself on December 18 automatically in hopes of maybe not realizing this day of personal infamy until it’s over.  Will the entire day pass without me thinking about Vince or Charity?  Probably not, they and other loved ones lost hold a special place in my heart, and I think about them most every day, especially  in December.  But December 18 this year will have joy of its own as family comes from far away to celebrate the season.  I look forward to making happy memories for December, especially for the 18th, which just happens to be exactly one week before Christmas, a day I’m really looking forward to celebrating this year more than ever.  Losing Charity last year was an awful thing to happen just before Christmas time, just as it was even more terrible to lose a parent / grandparent in our family just before Christmas 10 years ago.  But when I lost Charity, and I realized that I was more curious about God’s plan for me than I was looking to be angry with Him, I knew that I was on my way to having a wonderful spiritual relationship with Him.

For that, I am very thankful, and it makes me want to celebrate this Christmas season for what it truly is: a celebration of the birth of Jesus and an acknowledgment of the glorious love that God has for us.


Posted in animals, Fun Forwards, Pets on August 4th, 2009 and tagged , , , ,

Well, we found a church home in March, and it’s been going very well; we love it there.  The month of August is filled with church opportunities for us – a few classes we’re taking, a carnival for the kids, I’m volunteering in the Welcome Center, and we just went to a retreat at a beautiful Christian campground in Michigan yesterday.  But this post is not about THAT type of faith – it’s about a dog named Faith who was born with only a stub instead of front legs.  They had to remove his stub, and his mommy and first owner rejected him.  His new owner named him Faith and taught him to walk and get along without his front legs just fine.  How cute is this?

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Thanks to Elizabeth for sending this to me!