Monthly Archives: February 2013

Hope Story: Randy Remington

My wife, Dina, will be the first to tell you she never thought I would get to where I am now…

I would have to agree completely.

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“The unspoken subject of adoption was lingering in the air…”

Two and a half years ago, Dina made her first of several trips to Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in Jamaica. After her first trip, she began talking about an 8-year-old boy named Dean. The two of them had quickly formed a bond.

On subsequent trips, the relationship between Dina and Dean grew.

After returning from these trips, Dina would talk more and more about Dean. The unspoken subject of adoption was lingering in the air. I wasn’t willing to consider it an option or even a possibility.

I couldn’t get my heart around adoption for two main (and completely selfish) reasons:

  1. We had two grown children out of the house and a 12-year-old son, Mason, at home. Prior to Mason, we were three years away from being empty nesters… I had already set my sights on the freedoms an empty home would bring and all of the “things” we could do!
  2. There is so much need in the world – I couldn’t understand how this act of adoption would make even the slightest bit of difference. Would my “sacrifices” accomplish anything more than putting the selfish things I wanted to do on hold?

All of this talk of adoption happened during a time when I began struggling to understand my relevance. What am I here for? How can I feel better about myself? Why are my job struggles bothering me so deeply?

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“All of this talk of adoption happened during a time when I began struggling to understand my relevance.”

In 2010, while Dina and Dean’s bond continued to grow, my version of the perfect storm hit me – a “two-by-four moment,” or whatever you want to call it.

Mason and I were blessed with the opportunity to participate in the production of Girders, an original creation that tells the story of Judas, one of the disciples who had fallen away from Christ.

One of the big objectives of the production was to try and reach those who had fallen – or were falling – and let them know that God will always welcome them back with open arms.

Little did I know that I would be receiving the message to “reach one” – which, in hindsight, was no accident.

The summer of 2010 was occupied by rehearsals for Girders. Meanwhile, Dina made another trip to Robin’s Nest and began talking increasingly more about Dean and a desire to do something.

Shortly after Girders was presented at Hope in August 2010, our small group started The Dream Giver series. I had taken this class once before with our group but didn’t quite connect. This time was different. I got it. I began to understand that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and leave my land of ordinary.

I’m not exactly sure when this next event happened, but it marked yet another milestone in my story of transformation…

We were in the car, and Dina was going on and on about Dean, as she often did. I felt compelled and said to Mason, “Well, Mason. It looks like you and I are going to have to meet Dean and see what this is all about.”

Dina’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. This was the beginning of a new journey for me, and for us.

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“If a 12-year-old could get it, why couldn’t I?!”

The final event in my perfect storm was Mason. He and I were traveling to visit my mom during one of Dina’s trips to The Nest. Dina called while we were on the road and we talked about various things, including, of course, Dean.

After hanging up the phone, Mason asked if we had been talking about Dean. I told him yes, and then took the opportunity to ask him if he understood what we were thinking about doing (adoption). He said he did, to which I asked, “Are you OK with it?”

He said he was.

I asked, “Is it because you want a little brother?”

“No,” he said. “Not from what I know little brothers can be like!”

I pushed him further. “Why then? Why are you OK with this?”

His answer almost made me pull the truck into the ditch – and I don’t believe I have ever been more proud of him.

“Because I think it is the right thing to do,” he said.

WHAM! A two-by-four moment. If a 12-year-old could get it, why couldn’t I?!

Girders, The Dream Giver, Mason – my perfect storm. I often say now that in my search for relevance, I found revelation!

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“I see the difference it has made for not only him, but for us, too.”

The process of adoption progressed with Dean, and we were fortunate to be able to get him to America for needed medical treatment.

In the summer of 2011, I had just returned from taking Dina, Mason and Dean to the airport for what we had hoped would be the completion of the adoption process (the trip had come up suddenly and I wasn’t able to join them until the following week).

At worship that weekend when they were away, Pastor Mike talked about transformation. I couldn’t help but feel he was talking to me! I had been transformed – not in an immediate thunderstruck way, but gradually, over a series of events.

I look back on this journey and shake my head. How could I have been so selfish? Why did it take me so long to get here? The question of how I could possibly make a difference seems absolutely ridiculous now.

Now that Dean is in our lives, I see the difference it has made not only for him, but for us, too.

There are so many God stories that occurred during this journey that I would like to one day write a book about it. The stories need to be told. If they can “reach one,” then it is worth it.

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“…it is the right thing to do.”

Changed, transformed – that’s me.

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-news Message

Good morning, Hope-sters!

Here’s a happy reminder as we shovel our way out of yet another winter snowstorm: The 40-day season of Lent – a time for spiritual growth and renewal leading to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection – literally means spring or lengthening of days. Woo-hoo! Let’s hear it for Lent!

Before we celebrate Easter at Hope, all the snow will melt (hopefully). Signs of new life will appear. Brighter days will push back the night.

This time around, as we make our annual Lenten journey, I encourage you to take more time than usual to bask in the warm light of God’s love. Practice the traditional Lenten discipline of quitting a harmful habit, and starting a helpful one. Pray. Serve. Love. Give. Worship. Study & read from The Story (a $20 book available for $8 in our bookstore). Become more biblically fluent. Do it all for the sake of growing closer to God, not religious resume building.

As most of you know, we moved from the Old to New Testament in our weekly Bible readings this week – The Story, Chapter 22. If you fell behind, or you’re new to Hope, this is a perfect time to get on board. Join us and come worship this weekend. I’ll preach at all services on the opening chapters of the New Testament, and you’ll hear some very cool Hope stories, too.

The snow won’t last. God will – and he calls you to get to know him better this Lent.

Peace,
Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Harlem Shuffler.

P.S.- In just one week, you’ve already given enough money to Nets of Hope to send 3,414 nets (along with necessary education and treatment) through our ELCA mission partners in Africa, to help bring an end to malaria … thank you! Remember, for just $10 throughout the season of Lent (spring time, more light, renewal), you can save a life by contributing to this special offering. 100% of your donation will be used to fight malaria. 0% will stay at Hope or ELCA offices.

Pastor’s Corner: The Power of 40

What is Lent? What’s the point?

Cross on HillLent is this season we are in as we journey towards Easter. It is a period of 40 days (take out the Sundays) where we focus on getting ready for the miracle of Easter.

40 days…

Why 40? What is the significance of the 40 days?

Throughout our journey of The Story together as a church, we have seen this number surface multiple times:

  • Noah and his family were on an arc while it rained for 40 days and the flood waters covered the Earth (Genesis 7:12)…
  • Moses spent 40 days up on a mountain with God before receiving the 10 Commandments (Exodus 24:18)…
  • The Israelites wandered for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33-34)…
  • Elijah journeyed for 40 days before receiving a vision from God (1 Kings 19:8-9)…

We will read of Jesus being in the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-11) and the 40 days Jesus spends with the disciples before his ascension and his promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3).

40…

Seems to be a period of time where people waited and prepared for God to move in an incredible and mighty way. Or maybe God was preparing them?

This Lent, throughout these 40 days, take note of all of the ways God has moved – and will move – in your life. He has and he will. It is His promise… to all of us!

Sometimes waiting can be hard. We don’t want to endure the ’40′, whatever that has been for you. But we take heart because we know that He is coming…

We know He has already come, and is with us on our journey.

May this Lent, this season, be a wonderful season for you. May you experience the power and the love of God. May you share that love with the world around you.

A world where so many people are waiting for hope, for life, for meaning, for purpose… For their Savior, for Jesus Christ.

Thank you for being messengers of that love, Hope. You are an incredible church!

Enjoy the journey,

Pastor Jeremy

Weekly E-news Message

Dear Hope Family,

To most of us in Central Iowa – and the entire United States for that matter – mosquitoes are usually no more than a nuisance or irritation.

However, in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa, a bite from an infected mosquito can transmit malaria – and, in many cases, lead to death.

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Click here to find out how you can help!

FACT: Close to one million people die each year from malaria.

FACT: Malaria is fully preventable and completely curable.

FACT: Malaria was eradicated in the United States in 1951.

Yet, in 2013, malaria claims an innocent life in Africa every 60 seconds. That’s almost 1500 children each and every day.

Stop for a moment and let that sink in. In the time it takes you to read this email, a child will die.

Malaria is treatable, beatable and curable. During this Lenten season (and beyond), we have the chance to be a part of something historic, with Nets of Hope, as we join together with other Lutheran churches in Africa and around the world to help eliminate deaths from this disease… for good!

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Just $10 provides a mosquito net – along with adequate training, education and medication – to stop malaria.

And, did I mention that $10 is all it takes to save a life? The cost of two Subway sandwiches can provide a mosquito net – along with adequate training, education and medication – to stop malaria. Imagine what $100 could do? Or, $1,000? Or, even $1 million?

It’s good to be the church – for such a time is this…

Blessings,
Gus Gustafson
Chief Ministry Officer (and Mosquito Swatter)

P.S.-  This weekend at Hope: While Pastor Mike is serving on a college board out-of-state this weekend, Pastor Richard (Saturday at 5:00 & 6:30 pm, Sunday at 8:15 am) and Pastor Jeremy (Sunday at 7:45, 9:15, 11:00 am and 5:00 pm) will be wrapping up the Old Testament for us – providing both a word of warning and a message of Hope!

Hope Story: Dick Beck

Welcome to Hope’s blog Connect with Hope! We are so excited you are here. And, we don’t think it is any accident you came across our blog, either… we’ve been praying for you!

It is our hope to provide a variety of fun, inspirational, educational and reflective posts for you throughout the week… so, be sure to visit often!

Throughout the past 20 weeks, we have been studying The Story in an effort to become a more biblically fluent church. During this time, a number of “Hopesters” have shared their own personal Hope Stories – their testimonials of faith and transformation. Today, we are excited to feature our first Hope Story (blog edition), featuring Dick Beck!

Hope Story {Dick Beck}

In 2011, at age 61, a series of life-threatening health issues tested my faith and resulted in a spiritual transformation.

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“God was at work transforming my spiritual life to move me beyond believer-follower to servant-leader.”

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, resulting in the need for surgery. The surgery revealed that the cancer had already spread beyond the prostate, so my diagnosis quickly progressed to Stage IV prostate cancer, which requires treatment for the rest of my life. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of many life-threatening health challenges yet to follow.

Less than a week following discharge from the hospital, I was readmitted with a saddle pulmonary embolism – a massive blood clot in the main arteries of the lungs. Only 20% survive this complication. I was successfully treated with blood thinners and again returned home, this time with ongoing anticoagulation therapy in addition to the cancer treatment. This was not the end, however; there was still more to come.

A little more than a week later, I was again readmitted to the hospital with a massive pelvic hematoma. The anticoagulation therapy had resulted in continuous internal bleeding at my surgery site. A series of transfusions did not resolve the hemorrhaging. As the internal bleeding continued, my health deteriorated and my strength abated.

As these events continued to unfold, God was at work transforming my spiritual life to move me beyond believer-follower to servant-leader. He was using the power of prayer to inspire this transformation.

Naturally, my prayers had increased in frequency and intensity since the day of my diagnosis (as we all seem to do in times of personal crisis). Throughout the trials of my declining health, I was constantly aware of the Hope hospital visitation team – sitting with me daily, lifting me up to God in prayer on my behalf. These intercessions were truly humbling and inspiring to me.

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“My prayers turned from the need for healing to the need for spiritual guidance.”

On a particularly pivotal day, late in my third hospitalization, as I lay in bed hemorrhaging internally, my wife and daughters holding my right hand and a Hope prayer minister holding my left, another intercession for healing was being made to God on my behalf. Everyone was in tears, including the prayer minister. During the prayer, a comforting peace swept through me as I realized that by surrendering myself totally to God, he would look after my total well-being and his will would be done. With that comforting reassurance, I firmly grasped all of the hands enfolded in mine and calmly reassured them that it would be OK… God was in control.

Shortly thereafter, I received a medical procedure that temporarily protected me from potentially life-threatening blood clots, while foregoing anticoagulation therapy, thereby allowing the surgery site to heal. The healing, recovery, and return of emotional and physical strength began almost immediately.

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“I firmly grasped all of the hands enfolded in mine and calmly reassured them that it would be OK… God was in control.”

It became clear to me, that throughout these trials, the power of prayer had prevailed continuously and resulted in miraculous healing. My prayers turned from the need for healing to the need for spiritual guidance: God, what am I to do with this life that you have allowed me to keep? Now what?

God led my wife and I to a class within the Prayer Ministry called School of Listening Prayer, where we learned new ways of communicating with God – most importantly, how to hear God speaking in response. Prayer is a conversation with God, not merely us talking to God. God has provided numerous opportunities for us to minister to others through the power of prayer.

My prayer to God, “Now what?”, was answered simply… “Pray!”