Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Tribute

How do you write a tribute about a person that shouldn't even be gone?  It has been nearly a month since the Lord took two precious people home to Heaven - Julie and Timothy Kurrle.  Since then I have been "wanting" to write a blog...."wanting" is not the right word.  Who "wants" to write about something like this?  I have been needing to write this blog.  I have been avoiding writing this blog.  I don't feel worthy to reflect on Julie's life as there are people who were so much closer to her than I.  I don't want to have to fully face all of my feelings and fears.  At this point, I am simply compelled to write this blog.

On April 18, Julie Kurrle, a precious friend, and her six year old son Timothy (my choice for Ruth's future husband since the day he was born!) were killed in a tragic car accident while serving as missionaries in Paraguay.  Norberto, husband to Julie and devoted father to Timmy, and their daughter, Anahi, survived the accident and are now fighting to find their way without the light and love of Julie and Timmy shining at their sides.

Norberto and Julie Kurrle with Anahi and Timmy

I am not even sure when Julie and I met, but by our senior year at Anderson University we became roommates, sharing a campus apartment with two other best buddies.  While Julie and I didn't move in exactly the same social circles at school, we had one passion that connected us until now, and for all of eternity...our passion for Jesus!

Julie shared my joy the day that Victor asked me to marry him....that day was Victor's birthday, November 11, 1997, so I had planned on making him a great Mexican meal to really impress the man whom I dreamed of marrying.  (That's a whole other blog post that I would also rather avoid writing...due to the embarrassment it would cause me.  Just think "crunchy rice." :-0)  I had also purchased some sparkling cider to make the birthday dinner extra special.  As dinner time approached, I opened the kitchen cupboard to get out the cider, but there was no cider!  Considering that I had gone grocery shopping at about 2:00 a.m. at Meijer's, I figured I had misplaced the cider.  However, after searching the car, my bedroom, every cupboard, etc., I gave up and forgot about the mystery.  Victor arrived and the evening ended much different than I had planned....with an engagement ring on my finger! 

After getting back to the apartment and telling "the girls" all the gushy details, Julie disappeared and came back with sparkling sparkling cider...the missing sparkling cider!  She, and the other girls, knew all about Victor's plan to propose, including his intentions to serve me sparkling cider (out on the dock over the pond in the park....oops!  that's another blog!).  So, when Julie realized that I had also purchased sparkling cider, she hid mine in the bottom of her dirty laundry bin!  Nope, I hadn't looked there!

Then, spring break our senior year the four of us roomies decided to take a road trip to the Grand Canyon!  OK, so it was over 24 hours of straight driving and we had only one week!  We took turns driving and drove straight through!  We saw the Grand Canyon and then visited another friend in Colorado, went rapeling, caving, snow-shoeing, slid backwards down a mountain road, just about missed Monument Valley National Park by driving through it at night (didn't even realize we would be driving through it, but we got too tired to keep driving, slept parked in a hotel parking lot and woke up in the morning to an incredible sunrise over a spectacular landscape ), had to sit on the trunk of the car to close it, used a snowbank for a cooler (duh, we went camping in March in the Grand Canyon- hadn't thought about that one either and just about froze that first night!), etc.  The most memorable part of the trip?  It soon became a tradition that anytime the four of us reached a goal, did something incredible or simply had just survived another crazy experience, one of us would break into the Doxology.  The other three would promptly stop whatever they were doing and join right in!  We sang the Doxology in the craziest places...the most memorable rendition was right on the edge of the Grand Canyon after having spent the entire day hiking to the lowest point you can reach and get back out in one day.

Julie - we're going to sing the Doxology again with an even more incredible view than the Grand Canyon!  Hold on, girl, I'll be His time!

I hadn't seen Julie in years, but had become to marvel at how similar our lives had become.  I could identify so readily with many of her blog entries about the missionary life, Latin American culture, ministry, work teams, motherhood.  Then, when she and Norberto began the adoption process my heart just about burst!  I thanked the Lord over and over again for having given me friends so many years ago that, although things weren't clear at the time, it was now obvious that our hearts had beaten in synch for a long time!

This past year the Lord used Julie in an incredible way to change lives of people that she has never even met!  Julie had placed a link on their blog to Reece's Rainbow,, an organization that promotes the adoption of children with Down Syndrome and other medical issues.  I came across that link late one night while Victor was gone on a crusade.  I'm not even sure why, but I then placed the same link on my Facebook page.  A few weeks later I got an email from another best friend....also a "Julie".  Julie (Lambers) Faulkner and I had been inseparable best friends in Junior High.  This is another friendship that leaves me awestruck at the way that God gave me friends at age 12 that, 24 years later, share the same passions, joys, tears, struggles and loves as I!  The Lord had used that link on my Facebook page to confirm Julie and Chris Faulkner's call to adopt a child with Down Syndrome...a link that had originally come from Julie Kurrle's was the Julie/Julie/Julie connection from Paraguay to Mexico to Ohio!

Julie and Chris are now in the process of adopting Ryan...thanks to a simple link on Julie Kurrle's blog, Ryan's life will never be the same...never mind Julie and Chris', their girls', extended family and friends' lives!  You can follow their adventures on their blog:


When I found out that Julie and Chris were hoping that Ryan's adoption would be final this summer and that Julie and Norberto would be in the U.S. this summer visiting supporting churches and individuals, I had this hair-brained dream of finding a way to get the three Julie's and Ryan together.  Well, we will still be together, someday, just not when I had wanted, but it will be for all of eternity!

The day Julie and Timmy went Home, I found out about the accident from one of our other roommates, my very best college friend, more like a sister, Janelle.  I just "happened" to jump on the computer real quick that afternoon to make some photocopies She told me life-stopping news.  Julie and Timmy were gone.  I couldn't fathom it.  I still can't fathom it.  We cried.  Then we cried.  Then we cried some more.  The next people I called were my parents. 

And then, I called the other Julie, Julie Faulkner.  Even though she never met Julie Kurrle, their lives will be linked forever and she needed to know that the woman God used in order to make her the blessed mother of Ryan was now in Jesus' arms!

During that phone call I came to a realization.  Julie and Chris know that Ryan, barring a miracle, will not live to adulthood due to his many medical difficulties.  Victor and I know that our Daniel, barring a miracle, will not live to adulthood due to his congenital heart and lung defects.

  Daniel and I

 I told Julie Faulkner on the phone, with tears running down my cheeks and my voice cracking:  "You know, Julie, I had dreamed of the three of us Julie's being together here on earth and enjoying each other's adopted kids.  But now Julie can take care of the three boys, Timmy, Ryan and Daniel, until we are all in Heaven together and the "Julie section" is complete!"

Oh, our human finite ways of trying to understand, grasp, imagine all of eternity with an indescribable God!  But, somehow, it helps!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Birthday Galore

This past Sunday was my 36th birthday!  According to my children I am now "old"....not sure what the magic of "36" is, but I am wondering what they will think when I turn 40!  Words cannot express all that I am feeling and thinking as just a few weeks ago the world lost two precious people, one of my very good friends from college, Julie Kurrle, and her 6 year old son Timmy, when they were killed in a car accident serving the Lord as missionaries in Paraguay.  (I have yet to blog about that, but I will.)  So, while Norberto and Anahi (her husband and daughter) are suffering such unexplainable and unfathomable pain, I am celebrating a super-blessed 36th birthday!  It's not fair!  Yet, I believe that I most honor the Lord by fully embracing the joyful moments, thanking Him for His incredible love, undeserved grace (duh, that's an oxymoron-it can't be grace if it is deserved) and faithfulness.  And, when horrific, painful moments come, I will most honor the Lord by fully embracing those moments, thanking Him for His incredible love, undeserved grace and faithfulness.

I woke up early Sunday morning and found the following arrows leading me to my office upstairs:

So, at 5:45 a.m., by myself in the hallway, I counted to three and opened my door....

Wow!  There were balloons and streamers all over the place, plus lots of signs with loving messages from my kids hung all over the walls and windows!  Of course, by then the tears were flowing freely!  Just as they were getting under control, I saw the mailbox.....

Angie had made a homemade mailbox out of cardboard, painted and decorated it and then had all of the kids write beautiful notes or draw pictures for me, put them in envelopes and in my mailbox!  It was stuffed full!  (I really enjoyed her creativity in sticking the mailbox in a vase so that it wouldn't tip over!)

So, devotions Sunday morning were love letters from my kids....I think the Lord understands!  It was incredible the way each of their personalities came out in their letters and notes!  They each touched me in such a special way, but one that particularly encouraged me was from Alejandro, the most recent addition to our family.  He is 12 years old and quite the handful at times, having never lived under loving authority, which most 12 years old don't particularly like anyway, and even less when structure, order and chores are totally new concepts (along with love, kindness and generosity, rather than revenge, self-defense and an "I'm out to get you" attitude towards the world in general).  In his rough handwriting and misspelled words that appear to be more like those of a seven year old, rather than a 12 year old, due to the fact that he had never gone regularly to school, he wrote:  "Thank you for accepting me because now you are my mom.  Thank you for accepting me because now we are a family."  I leaned back on the loveseat in my office and whispered out loud, with tears on my cheeks:  "He's got it!  He's got it!"  (This was particularly moving because we had just gotten through one heck of a week together...I will leave that part to your imagination!)

Guess what?  Jesus gave me a birthday present too!  I teach a women's Sunday School class at church every week to about 30 women.  It is one of the highlights of my week!  We are wrapping up a series on spiritual gifts and I had been waiting for a particular email from a pastor in Canada with some information that I wanted to include in this week's class.  After having given up hope that he would respond, on Friday morning I opened my email and there were the long-awaited and very-much-needed files!  Praise God!  Well, I didn't download them (blonde error #3657) because, if they are in my email, I can access them whenever, right?  Wrong!  We lost our internet connection on Friday afternoon for unexplainable reasons.  By Sunday morning after having done every trick in the book (unconnect modem, turn off computer, reset modem, unplug everything, turn it all back on, etc.), and after having reported the problem to the phone company....nothing!  I reset the modem AGAIN!  Nothing!  So, I sat down at the computer, opened Word and told the Lord: "OK, Lord, I am going to prepare the worksheet for the ladies with the blanks to fill in, even though I don't even know what goes in the blanks because the answers are trapped in my email.  On the way to church, we will stop by Office Max and I will download the files.  That will only give me 15 minutes to go over the material before we get to church.  Help me out here, Jesus.  You know I didn't get the info until Friday.  You know Victor and the team are gone on crusade, Rosa is sick and I am in charge of the entire Ranch, school, cooking, etc."  I felt total peace and started typing away on the ladies' worksheet.  About 10 minutes later, out of nowhere, I glanced down and my internet signal was back!  I started to cry (for the third time that morning) and actually said out loud:  "Thank you, Jesus, for my birthday gift.....our internet connection....just on time!"

I am full convinced, now more than ever, that when Jesus calls we are to simply obey and He will provide all that we need in order to fulfill that call...even when what we need is an internet connection!  (Albeit, He does provide according to His time frame which, in my opinion, is usually cutting it a bit close:-)

And, now, for the icing on the cake!  Victor and the team got back home at midnight Saturday night from a great Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade to Michoacan.  So, we were all anxious to have some family time together!  Victor surprised me by taking the entire family out to eat at his and my favorite restaurant.  We hadn't eaten there as a family in over two years, so it was a very special outing!  There is nothing that I enjoy more than being with my family and few things fill me with more joy than to be in a public place and have 18 kids of just about 18 different shades of color calling out, "Mom!" and watching all the heads turn!  God is so good!  (Even in the bad times... God is so good, because He just is good...He is the definition of goodness!)

It's the Zaragoza version of "The Last Supper" painting!

Chocolate cake will always make me smile like this!