Monday, March 17, 2008

Thankful

Ya know how sometimes things just seem to come together? Maybe you're thinking about donuts and then your husband brings some home or you're looking at the kids, thinking about how much you love them and then one of them runs up and gives you a big hug? That's kind of how my weekend went. The Island King has a ton of work so he spent most of the weekend working while I re-covered our bar stools, caught up on the laundry and hung out with the Youngest Island Boy, who was not feeling well. I ran to the grocery store Saturday afternoon and even though it was a grey, dreary day I was feeling good. Driving home I was thinking about how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful city, how thankful I was for the groceries in my trunk and just how incedibly blessed I am. There is a water tower between my house and the grocery store and it has a giant American flag painted on it. I passed the water tower as I was thinking about my blessings and once again I thanked God for our country and freedom.
Sunday morning rolls around and the Island Girl and I are sitting in church (the Island King was home with the Youngest who still wasn't feeling good and the Oldest Island Boy was in "kid church") when our pastor announced that we had a guest speaker. Dr. Margaret Nikol. I had never heard of this woman but after listening to her story I will never forget her. She was raised in communist Bulgaria by missionary parents. Christianity was outlawed by the communist regime and even though facing tremendous persecution, her father continued as the pastor in the village church. She told of the day the "police" came to her village and went through each house and church taking every Bible they found. The next day was Sunday and when the congregation came together she said her father walked to the pulpit and for the first time she saw him cry. He apologized for not being able to save his Bible to preach from. An older woman stood up and said that she had been able to hide her Bible under her skirt and would like to share it with those in the church. She went around to each person and gave them a page from her Bible. Dr. Nikol received a page from Genesis. As she was telling this story she held up that page from so many years ago and I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the house. A few years later both her parents and her brother were executed for not renouncing their faith and she was put into prison. The only thing she had was that one page from the Bible. In 1981, after 13 years in prison Dr. Nikol was able to make a dramatic escape and come to America. She landed in California right before Christmas time. She met a woman in the church she began attending in California and the woman asked her what she would like for Christmas. Dr. Nikol answered that the thing she would like most was a Bible. The woman took her to a Christian bookstore to buy her a Bible and Dr. Nikol said that as she walked around and looked at all of the Bibles she kept remembering the little lady who shared the pages of her Bible all those years ago and she began to cry. She laughed and said she must have been a sight because she sat down on the floor of that bookstore and wept for almost half an hour. Dr. Nikol went on to become the President of Impact International - a group that collects and delivers Bibles to other countries. She told of the first time she returned to her village in Bulgaria after the Berlin Wall fell. She took Bibles to the pastor of the church where her father had preached. She said she handed a Bible to the pastor and she said he told her that all of his life he had been taught the word of God but that this was the first time he'd ever read it.

She became an American citizen and she spent the rest of her time with us praising America and thanking God for all of the blessings we Americans have. She asked us to pray for America and for our leaders and our soldiers and to never take for granted our freedom.
Dr. Nikol is also a world famous violinist and holds 4 doctorate degrees in music. She has performed all over the world and it was incredible to hear her play. As she finished her testimony she said she wanted to play one more song for us. She played God Bless America and as she played people began to stand up. In only a matter of seconds everyone in our church had joined hands and were singing along. They were singing loud and strong and as I looked around I saw tears streaming down the faces of just about every man and woman there. Hearing Dr. Nikol speak was one of the most incredible things I've ever been a part of. After she finished our pastor stood up and said that after listening to her there just wasn't much he could add LOL
On the way home Island Girl and I were talking about our blessings and I was reminded of Saturday when I felt such peace and contentment. I am always thankful for the blessings I've been given but hearing Dr. Nikol speak really brought all of that home. I'm really glad that my daughter was able to hear such an incredible story. Teenage years are filled with such drama and angst and it takes life experience to be able to drive down the road on a dreary Saturday afternoon, put aside any problems in your life and just appreciate the blessings you have. She told me that after hearing Dr. Nikol's story that she realizes how unimportant some of the stuff she stresses over is. She said that when we got to church that morning she was hating her hair and the world seemed like a horrible place because she has straight "boring" hair. After hearing Dr. Nikol she said she realized how fortunate she is that her biggest problem is her hair LOL

And in keeping with the thankful theme this weekend - my oldest son has been talking non stop about wanting to live in a MUCH bigger house. We live in kind of a Neverland town where most of the people have more money than Oprah. The Island King and I are both 6th generation natives of this area so we were here long before the people with tons of money found the place. This town was a sleepy little fishing village when we were kids. And it's only because we've been here forever that we can afford to live here. We bought our house back before prices became outrageous and the "elite" took over. Well, the Oldest Island Boy has money fever. He wants to be rich and to have LOTS of stuff and he really envies the rich kids in town. We've tried everything to show him that none of that is important and that in fact it's not good to really envy others. Last night I walked into the living room and he was watching a special on the Learning Channel about children in 3rd world countries. He watched the whole thing and when it was over he came into the kitchen, hugged me and told me that he's very thankful for all of the things he has and that our house is an incredible house compared to the mud floor huts he'd just seen. We talked for a long time about being thankful for what we have and that material things are not important and I could see that the show he'd seen really made an impression on him.
I told the Island King that Thankful seemed to be the theme of the weekend and how every time I turned around this weekend there was something else to remind me of just how blessed we are. And in all of his wisdom the Island King said "well, if you don't let me get back to work, the theme for next weekend is going to be poverty" LOL
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