Goodbye Duke Nukem

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Today is August 31, 2011. It’s a day that’s fairly odd for me emotionally. It’s in some ways the end of the road for the biggest single “event” in my working career. You see, today’s my last day at Gearbox Software. [Read more…]

My Personal Testimony

This document was originally written as part of an assignment in a discipleship course my church offers regularly.  I wrote it back in late March of 2007 when I was taking the course.  I expanded it in July of 2010, picking up where the discipleship course part of this ended, and talked about what’s happened in my life since then.  I hope you enjoy reading this, as it’s been a joy to live it, thanks be to God!

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My Personal Testimony
…or “How I Came to love Jesus”
by Joseph Michael Siegler

Jesus has always been a part of my life.  My problem is that I never always acknowledged it, or even when I did, didn’t give him the attention he deserved. That’s the crux of my story.  I’ve never really let him in the door until very recently in my life.

When I was child, I was raised and taught Sunday School lessons from an early age.  I knew all the things you were taught, I even believed them, as much as a young child could believe things in the same way an adult can.  I had several years of Sunday School perfect attendance when I was around the ages of 5-7.  I could say the Lord’s Prayer at an early age, and I was very much the proper young Christian boy.  As time went on, my parents divorced (at 12yrs), and while I don’t have a conscious recollection of that causing a problem at the time, it likely did, as it did upset many portions of my life.  Not long after that I started to rebel in school, lost focus, and quite a lot of things didn’t have the same flavor anymore.  I used to sneak into my mom’s bedroom on Sunday mornings, and turn off the alarm clock so we wouldn’t have to go to church.  I considered church an imposition on my Sunday morning sleep. At this point in my life, Jesus was never really an active thought.  Not that I actively campaigned against him, or anything along those lines, it just was never an upfront thought in my mind.  Somewhere during this time, I stopped going to church completely, as I didn’t feel connected anymore.

There were a few other moments after that where I had the chance to reconnect, but did not.  Looking back, this was probably Jesus knocking on the door, but i didn’t really answer.  There was a person who ministered to me in a church and asked me if I was saved, and told me that all it would take would be for me to accept Jesus as my Lord and savior and let him into my heart.  I said the lines, and the person said I was saved, but I didn’t “feel it” in my heart.  I also attended a Billy Graham Crusade and came forward at the end to receive Jesus.  That was an opportunity and I didn’t follow through on that, either.

Some years later, my family happened upon another Episcopal church led by a Father Edd Schultz.  Father Edd was the first building block in my return to church in that he was young, and hey – he had Cable TV!  A priest who had MTV was something cool to this teenager, so I bought into it.  I enjoyed attending church there, and continued there until Father Edd left the church to move elsewhere in the country.  At that point I more or less stopped going again.  When I moved to Texas in 1992, and all of that was lost – I never went to church after I moved to Texas for awhile.

I got married in 1996; after that my wife and I attended a service at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Garland.  We felt the church was nice, but due to my general laziness and desire for Sunday morning sleep, we did not return.  At this point in my life, I had pigeonholed my thoughts on religion into this.  If I believed Jesus was savior and my Lord, I would be saved.  I didn’t need to attend a church, and I didn’t need all that other stuff.  I believed, so I was good to go.  It was my daughter who ended up leading me back to church – and she hadn’t been born yet.

Late in 2004, my wife and I decided that since we were having a baby, that we needed to attend a church.  As our families are about 1500 miles away, we needed a support system.  After a couple of attempts elsewhere, we returned to HTEC, as that was the religion I was raised in.  After attending several services, we felt very welcomed and comfortable; so we stayed.  This was a seriously important decision, as it’s here that I found Jesus for good, and let him into my life in a way that had NEVER happened before.  In looking back, I always sort of paid lip service to Jesus.  I believed, or thought I did, but it wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I started noticing that I was feeling more filled, and more excited at attending church.  That had never happened to me before.  I prayed to God a lot during my wife’s pregnancy, and those prayers were answered in the form of a very happy, and very healthy young daughter.  Up until this point in my life, Jesus was mostly an afterthought, and he still blessed me with the best daughter I could have imagined.  It was that realization that started me back without looking for a “way out” like I used to.

The big moment came when I was standing on the front lawn of my rector’s house one evening.  I had been there to fix a problem on his computer, and afterwards we were talking about a discipleship course he was going to soon be embarking on.  I was not planning on doing it, mostly because I was (or thought I was) unprepared for the course.  After hearing my reasons, the rector rather strongly told me I was wrong, and that I was more than ready to take the course.  One wouldn’t think that the turning point in one’s religious life would be standing on the front lawn of the pastor’s house, but it was for me. God gives you what you need, and that’s what I needed – a surprise from an unexpected location like that to get my attention.  On the drive home that night, I changed my mind and decided to take the course.  It was a giant leap of faith on my part, as I really had NO idea what I was getting myself into.

As the weeks went along in the course, I found myself believing and reading scripture more than any other time in my life.  I started being able to recite parts of it, and I found the course was nowhere as difficult as I anticipated it would be.  I found that some of the things we were taught and learned about weren’t the hollow things I thought they were when I was younger – these disciplines like fasting and prayer had real life meaning!  As I let these things into my life more and more, I found that I had a deeper peace about various issues in my life that were never peaceful.  I found that I did not stress internally about things as much as I used to.  Now that’s not to say I can’t still run off the end of the stress meter, and I do from time to time.  But overall, I’ve found great relief in simply allowing problems in my life to be turned over to Jesus.  To a non believer, that might sound hollow, but the Holy Spirit has worked miracles in my heart.

The biggest changes during the discipleship course came in the latter months after I started taking scripture to heart.  Oh sure, I could spend more time with the living word; and I still sin like everyone else, but I have an avenue out.  The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.  An example is that I was lifted of my fear of praying in public.  I used to dread that with a crippling fear that would stop me from any public prayer.  In one of the discipleship class sessions, we had a big prayer group session, and I felt that something happened to me, but I did not know what.  That was answered the next day when I had to take my wife to the hospital, and while driving there, I said a prayer for her healing with my hand on her head.  Shortly after that, she told me that after I had taken my hand off her head, it felt like my hand was still there.  This was a powerful moment for me, because it showed me what God had done in my heart, which was remove my fear of prayer.  And as I’ve learned in James 5:16, “the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect”.  I’ve felt no problems with praying for people any longer, and that is a blessing my life.  I wanted to cry when I realized what had happened to me.

This discipleship course has given me so much more strength and peace than I could have ever believed I was capable of.  Praise God for getting to me through it, as I credit THAT as the reason I now am stronger than I ever believed I could be in Jesus.  My wife has told me that the course has changed me externally too, which is nice to hear, since I cannot see that.

After the discipleship course ended, I found that since I had a stronger belief in God, and the ability to believe in what our culture generally refers to loosely as “an invisible person”, that I’ve had a greater peace about a great number of things.   One of the things that told my wife an I that God was with us was when our church was starting a building fund for a new church we intend on building.  There was a meeting at the Rector’s house to talk about the program, and go over details and whatnot.  My wife and I were there, and we both had decided on a number we were going to contribute ahead of time.  During the speeches by our Senior Warden, the Rector, and the fellow from the fund raising firm, we both had decided to increase our amount the we would commit.  I had decided at that time to give up my weekly bowling league, which I had been in for about 34 consecutive years at that point.  I tallied the fees and whatnot, and it worked out to be a number that was within just a couple of dollars of what my wife on her own decided we should increase our commitment by.  We were both instantly convinced that this was from God, as we both decided this on our own with no discussion amongst each other (and after prayer).  So we were joyous at our being able to donate to the building fund with what we knew was a prayerfully considered dollar amount.

Our newfound prayer and joy was put to the test in early 2008 when my wife and I were expecting our second child, who we had lost to miscarriage.  It was a painful thing to go through, as anyone who has experienced that can tell you, but through a lot of prayer, we were able to get through it.  In fact, the thing that helped us most was being able to name the child (whom we named Vanessa Grace), and turn the whole situation over to God.  Through that act, we were given much peace about the situation.  Oh, it still hurt, but I wasn’t as devastated once we made the choice to give the child back to God.  This was borne out when during the last night of a healing ministries conference at our church my wife went up for prayer, and was given a vision of what our lost daughter looked like.  Obviously this was more powerful for her than for me, but I too took this to heart, and was able to rejoice in that someday we’d get to meet our lost daughter.  This act also caused some friction with some who thought we were “weird” or “nuts” for doing something like naming a child that we lost to miscarriage.  This was mostly people not from our church, as we received lots of support from our Church family over this issue. However, both of us strongly felt we were being led by God to do this, so we honored that call and were obedient in this matter.

After a lot of prayer and support from friends at our church, we were able to get through it and get pregnant again during the late summer of 2008.  Thus began the biggest part of our life with God.  Given we had lost a baby recently, this third pregnancy for us was somewhat more fraught with concern for obvious reasons.  We wanted it to work, and yet we had the loss of Vanessa in our minds, too.  The pregnancy went fairly well, and we were set to deliver our second child, our son David (who was named after King David in the bible) on May 28th.   However, on May 6th, we got a bombshell dropped on us, as I found out that my job of 16.5 years was going away.  I had lost my job after being there for the better part of two decades, and we had a kid on the way.  My last day of work ended up being six days before my son was born, and I have to say, it made that week a complete whirlwind of emotion.   It is said God’s timing is perfect, and I think that’s why I lost my job when I did, because I was able to spend time with my newborn son, and be with my family.  The lack of work was hard (and continues to be), but we think it was a test from God to rely on him, and rely hardly did we ever!

You see, late in 2008, I had decided that we were going to start properly tithing.  My wife grew up in a Ukrainian Orthodox church who doesn’t have the concept of tithing in their church.  This was an alien concept to her when we started attending church.  As everyone knows, money can be a major source of friction between married couples, so I decided not to go nuclear and start tithing fully when we went back to church, but kind of eased into it, building up until we got to a proper tithe in late 2008.  At that time, we had just short of $10,000 in credit card debt to our name, not to mention the usual “real life” things like a car payment and a mortgage, etc..  Our money wasn’t unmanageable, but the credit card debt was a concern somewhat.  Still, I felt it was the right time to tithe.  So we did.  I went and figured out exactly what 10% of our income was, and started (rather happily, mind you) giving that to the church.  When I lost my job, I went and figured out what a tithe would be out of my unemployment money, and continued to tithe.  It felt good, it felt like the right thing to do.  God honored this by keeping us not only solvent through unemployment, but with the means to rid our debt.  When I walked out the door at my old job, I still had about 3/4 of that credit card debt on the books.  You do not expect to be able to get on top of credit card debt when you lose your job, you expect to tread water, or at best hope not to slide backwards.  But we believe our being obedient to the tithe, especially after losing my job gave us the ability to COMPLETELY PAY OFF ALL OF OUR DEBT (save for the mortgage).   Our car was paid off within a month of losing my job, and all of our credit card debt was erased during the summer of 2009.  More evidence of God’s timing was in play when it came to hospital bills.  We received bills for both my wife and my son.  Both times when we got the bill in the mail, in the mailbox AT THE SAME TIME was a check (or checks) to cover the bill.  It was as if God was saying “I’ll take care of it” with his timing.  To make it a better story, I’ve been able to KEEP the credit card debt at zero – praise be to God.  It’s July of 2010, and I can say I still have no credit card debt, 14 months into unemployment.   We’ve never gone without, and still have been able to live a life we enjoy.  Oh, there were cutbacks for sure, and the people who have helped us (both financially and physically) have been a blessing.  We thank God for them too for listening to his call to help us as they have.  We couldn’t have done it without them.

My time of unemployment has taught me several things.  To be reliant on God for everything, and not just “pay attention” to him during Sundays and that’s it.  It’s taught me that obedience brings blessings, as this has been borne out by our ability to remain worry free about money during all this time.   I think that astounds people somewhat, as I took a trip back in March of 2010 to visit my family back home to visit my grandparents in the hospital.  I drove to Philadelphia from Dallas, renting a car, staying in hotel rooms, etc.  Sitting in the hospital room with my mom and my Grandmother we got to talking about money and all that, and they showed concern that I wasn’t going to be able to pay for the trip.  When I told them it was covered already, they were pleased, but what they probably weren’t pleased with was when I said “..and even if I wasn’t, I’m not worried about it, it’s just money”.  To someone as detail oriented as my mother I think the lack of concern about something that is SUPER detailed as money was a shock to her.   But I really was not concerned at all about money – I really wasn’t.  As I was trusting in God to take care of me and my family, the fact that there was a new round of bills to deal with in regards to my trip did not concern me in the least.  On this trip, I was able to pray for several family members (plus some people I did not know), and in a way I found myself surprised at being able to do.  I think I was able to show some people in my family firsthand how much I’ve grown.  At minimum, I was able to show them a side of me they’d never seen before.

I’ve learned to trust in God, and it’s benefited my family so richly, I can’t tell all of it in this short document.  There’s so much more to this story, but I don’t want to write a 20,000 word mini novel here, so I’ll end it with this..

I cannot wait for what else will come on this path I have chosen.  It can be your path too.  It doesn’t take much to get started on the path either, if you have any questions on how, just ask me.  May God bless you, as he has me.

Joe Siegler
July 2010

Malachi 3:10: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

Ephesians 6:18: “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

A Daddy’s Story

As some of you know who are reading this, Lynn and I found out on February 4th that we were pregnant (well, I found out anyway). We unfortunately ceased being pregnant on March 5th. This story is about our lost pregnancy, and how God was faithful to us, even during this time. I decided to put down some thoughts as to what’s happened regarding our experience in losing our baby. I explain some thoughts leading up to our decision to get pregnant, and then several thoughts from Feb 28 (when we first found out we probably weren’t pregnant) until Mar 5 when we had a surgical procedure after finding out for sure there wasn’t a baby – as well as describing some of our experiences in the hospital (don’t worry, no yucky details). This was originally intended to be a short email/blog post, but it turned out quite long, as I really wanted to get it all out.

We’ve wrestled with the decision as to whether or not to be pregnant again for some time now. To be honest, I’ve been pretty scared of having a second child. You see we have autism in the family, and while I know I’m capable of loving an autistic child, I was having major issues in rolling the dice. Before Samantha, we said that if we got through it and there were no health problems, that we’d stop.

Then when Samantha was two years old (her birthday I was reminded of), during a bathroom break at the mall, Samantha got all gushy about a baby they saw, and from what Lynn told me at the time; I knew we would be revisiting the “stop after one” decision.

We wrestled with it for some time. I went back and forth between wanting to have one, and not wanting to have one. My thoughts were very much buffeted by the exact day it was, and what my mood was like at the time. We also had decided that we wanted to have a second before Lynn turned 40, which would have meant we would have had to have gotten pregnant by about March 25th (this month) to fit that in. Time passed, and Lynn had to come off birth control due to an interaction with another drug she had to take. After a time, I had decided to trust the entire thing to God, and then Lynn got pregnant.

After the initial surprise at being pregnant I was quite into all of this. I was really looking forward to being a father again. Samantha also seemed to be into it, she knew what “big sister” meant, and she kept going to mommy’s tummy saying “Hi!” to the baby, and tickling it. It was really quite adorable. Samantha would ask things like “Is that my baby sister in there?” Samantha was quite convinced it was a girl. That was something that both Lynn and I wanted – we wanted another girl. Samantha was even calling it “Baby X” (I’ll get to the name stuff in a bit).

So this past Thursday (Feb 28), we went into the Doctor’s office for a sonogram. It was going to be the first time we saw the baby. So we were prepped, and had Samantha in the room with us. She was going to see “pictures of the baby!” We got started, and the technician doing the sonogram couldn’t find anything. They looked around a lot, and it turned out there was no baby in there. It was quite a bad moment. Lynn and I both knew immediately what it meant, and I was listening quite closely to latch onto something that was said that would be GOOD news. We were told that it could be a few things – we could have gotten our dates wrong and it was simply too early to see anything, or she simply wasn’t pregnant. We discounted the dates thing, because Lynn is too good with dates to mess up that badly. That left “not pregnant”, which neither of us was happy about. QUITE sad, actually. The hardest part about being in the sonogram room like that is Samantha was looking at the screen with me, and she asked several times “Where’s the baby? I don’t see it?” It hurt a lot when she said it. I don’t blame her, she’s just a two year old, she doesn’t know. We eventually got her to stop that by telling her “The baby is hiding.” But we knew better than that, unfortunately. It wasn’t just “hiding”.

They took a blood test before we left the office – there are some levels of “something” that is counted in a woman’s body when she’s pregnant. As you become more pregnant, they’re supposed to up and up. Now I don’t know exactly what they’re counting as such, but if Lynn really was pregnant, they should be (I’m making up numbers here) at say level 75. Her levels were about 20. The Doctor told us that she likely was not pregnant, but was at some point. All the stuff inside Lynn got started because there was a conception. For whatever reason (only God knows that) the embryo did not take, or just stopped developing. When we left the office, Lynn had another appt on Monday morning for a blood test to compare vs. the one taken on Thursday. She also had an appt on Tue to discuss the results with the Doctor, and a scheduled sonogram today (the 6th).

We spent the weekend in agony over this. I can’t speak for Lynn’s feelings on this particular matter, but I was pretty much in a state of shock and grief over the weekend. The sonogram room was devastating, but after spending time with my thoughts, I came to the conclusion that the baby was lost. My brain said there were tests to check, but in my heart, I felt led that there was a problem, and the baby was gone. We told a select few people at church (outside of the clergy), and spent the weekend basically grieving.

So Monday morning Lynn went in for the second blood test, and on Tue morning we got the results of that. Her levels were down even further; if she was pregnant, they should have essentially doubled (or more) from what they were just four days ago. That was it. There was no reason to hope there might be a miracle anymore. This baby was not to be. So a D&C was scheduled for Wed the 5th, and we set up a babysitter for Samantha, and waited.

The folks we told in Church were ones we know were well steeped in prayer. I have no doubt that the prayers of the church for us were extremely helpful. While I was very sad over all these things, I felt a peace about the whole thing. It was no fun, I was not happy, but I wasn’t a “blubbering idiot” about the entire sequence of events. We were thankful for the prayers we had received, but were NOT expecting how they’d manifest themselves on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning came, and our babysitter showed up about an hour earlier than we needed to leave. This was the first of the blessings, as Lynn got a little bit of “girl talk” in before heading to the hospital. The next of our blessings was what Brandy (the babysitter) told us. She did not want to take any money for babysitting. That was quite a surprise; and I had already decided to pay her extra anyway because this would be a longer than usual babysitting job – that’s what you do. Pay the babysitter. But she was quite insistent that we not give her any money for this one. That was most kind. Turns out her employer was also in on this. She works for a bakery (the same one that supplies cakes and donuts for our church), and she was scheduled to work. Her employer let her have the time off at quite the last minute to help out with this – so we’re grateful to Brandy and them; as Samantha loves Brandy, so that all went well.

So we drive to the hospital, and were waiting in the admit area for awhile. After dealing with the usual hospital paperwork, we sat in the waiting room. And thanks be to God we didn’t have much waiting to do. At just about every step of the way, we didn’t wait for more than 5-10 minutes. It was quite the surprise. This was beneficial because we didn’t have too long to sit with our thoughts, which can play games with you at times like this.

Lynn was taken in for prep, and they came and got me. Now once Lynn was taken in, I expected to be waiting for awhile, that was expected. She was prepped to go upstairs, and then they brought me in to be with her for a few minutes. We cried, and just spent most of the time being quiet. The nurses came in for Lynn, and it was all quite rushed. Not that they were obnoxious about it at all, but it was obvious the Lord cleared the way for all this to be done quickly. We asked for a few minutes of prayer, and were given it, so I said a prayer over Lynn, and then it was time for her to be taken upstairs for surgery. I retreated to the waiting room where I had a book and a lot of coffee. I decided to call the parents, as well as our contact at church (Fr Jeff).

Now I was originally going to attend a conference being held at our church from Mar 4-8th (The Anglican School of Healing Ministries) – I had taken off the entire week of work for that. When I spoke with Father Jeff, I was told “we’re all praying for you here”, which was the entire conference of some 50 or 60 people. I’m quite grateful for that, because it was seriously felt at the hospital. So I waited after talking with Fr Jeff. Between coffee, reading, and CNN blabbing about the election results, I finally was called to speak with the Doctor. I found it hard to pray much when I was by myself. Was easy with Lynn, but on my own, I found it hard to do it, so I was thankful to have the prayer coverage I did.

The Doctor and I only spoke for a few minutes, but in that time, I was told that Lynn came through it fine, the procedure went well, and she was coming out of it (she was put under for this). She had the same reaction I did about 7 years ago when I had an endoscopy done – I was a bit loopy and asked the same questions over and over again. Although the first thing Lynn asked after regaining consciousness was apparently “Did you see the baby?” Very nice mothering touch there, but I knew that about my wife anyway. After one shorter wait, I was taken to where Lynn was in recovery. She looked like what you would expect from someone who just came out of surgery. But she really wasn’t that bad, just really tired looking. She drifted in and out of sleep several times while I was there.

Lynn would know more about the other parts than I, since I wasn’t everywhere she was, but from what I saw, the nurse she had in recovery was VERY kind. Her name was Kathy, and apparently she wasn’t even supposed to be there, or in that department. The hospital was short staffed that day, and Kathy came in on her day off. This too was a blessing from God, as this woman was extremely helpful to Lynn, especially with some private issues which aren’t appropriate for here. So God bless this woman for being there when Lynn needed her. Whether or not she was a Christian woman, we never found out – but it felt like God sent her.

In fact, the whole hospital visit went extremely well. Obviously this was not the reason we wanted to be in a hospital, and that subject was mentioned several times while we were there. Lynn got taken up for the procedure about half an hour before her scheduled time, things were going SO smoothly – so thanks be to God for that, too!

Another blessing is how well the surgery went. I don’t know what you about a D&C, but it’s a fairly invasive surgery. There were no complications, and the pain medicine prescription given to her has not been filled; it simply has not been needed. Praise be to God for the lack of pain!

On the way back home, I made sure Lynn got something to eat, as she hadn’t eaten anything at that point in about 16 hours. Stopped at Chick-Fil-A (one of her favorites). We got back home, and after a brief conversation with the babysitter, we were back “home”. I did the Daddy thing, as Lynn was very weak on Wednesday for obvious reasons. Another blessing was that Samantha seemed to grasp that Mommy really needed to be by herself and rest/sleep. Normally after not seeing Mommy for awhile, Samantha will jump all over mommy, cry to be picked up, etc, etc, etc. There wasn’t very much of that. Mommy even got to lie down on the bed for a couple of hours by herself with no felines or no two year old clamoring for attention. Small blessing indeed (although probably a bigger one for Lynn, I’d imagine). The day was full of these kinds of blessings. One of the biggest ones was that Samantha slept through the night with no crying out. Samantha sometimes cries out during dreaming which wakes up Mommy (but not Daddy generally), so that was seriously helpful for Mommy’s rest.

When we got up on Thursday, Mommy felt much better, and we were able to function better as our usual family unit. Mommy still couldn’t pick up Samantha, but praise be to God she was still pain free, although still more tired than usual.

Thursday morning did have one really nice thing happen, and it was with Samantha and Lynn’s pregnancy. Samantha had gone to Lynn and said “There’s a baby in your tummy”, like she has been during the pregnancy. Lynn’s reaction to this was spectacular. This next bit is Lynn’s words (from one of her emails):

“An opportunity arose this morning with Samantha, and I was able to explain to her that the baby was sick, and that the baby went back to God to be well. She said to me, “He put his hands down to get the baby.” (meaning God’s hands) and then asked where heaven is. I was able to get through this talk without crying, praise God.”

While neither of us cried after all this, it was something that moved us, that our almost three year old would grasp that God needed to take the baby because it was sick. Was very VERY moving.

In emails we received from several folks at our church (especially those who have gone through this too), a suggestion was given to us which we will do. We were told that if we had not done it already to pick a name and turn the child over to the Lord. We had already chosen a name (both male and female) about two days after finding out we were pregnant originally. Given how strongly both of us thought it was a girl (aside from us just wanting it), we were also reinforced by Samantha insisting it was a girl. We told her when we were pregnant that “No, it could be a boy, too.” “No Mommy – it’s a girl!” Maybe she knew, but either way, since there’s no medical way to know, we’re going to trust the Lord that this is the right decision. At the moment of conception, there was a soul created then and we needed to give this soul back to the Lord.

Our child’s name is Vanessa Grace Siegler.

We will have a memorial service for Vanessa on Sunday after Daddy & Samantha return from church, I’d imagine. Mommy will be staying home, as she needs more time before dealing with a crush of people, and besides, the few hours will give Mommy a break at home. The service will be small, and just for the three of us in the back yard (weather permitting). The plan at the moment is for all three of us to hold a small white balloon, and release them into the sky at some point. My plan now is to tell Samantha at the time that we’re sending the balloons to Vanessa in heaven, so make sure to blow her a kiss when you send her this. I’m actually tearing up a bit writing this (corny I know, but hey), as the service has not happened as I write this.

This past week has probably been the single worst time in our married lives, and we are so thankful for all the prayers we have received (and boy have we noticed them being received), a mere email/blog post (long though this is), can’t do them all justice. I’m reminded at this time of part of the Bible passage James 5:16:

“The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect.”

At the darkest moments we had this past week, the Lord was there with us, helping us through the pain and the suffering. I doubt we could have gotten through it as gracefully as we have without the Lord being with us, and most certainly not without y’alls prayers.

Thank you and God Bless,

I guess I’m excited

First I said there was no way I could wait till Valentine’s Day, and forced Lynn to call the parents on Monday night.

Then I couldn’t wait three days and started cherry picking telling people at church on Tuesday, as well as telling more family.

Then I couldn’t keep it a secret at work, and told everyone there.

Then I couldn’t stop myself and told the entire church gathering at a meeting at our Rector’s house on Thursday night.

And finally tonight I couldn’t keep it a secret from Samantha.

Lynn is pregnant with our second child. I think I’m excited (after being initially freaked out the first night).

And now there’s no point in keeping it off our blogs, although one of Lynn’s friends posted about it last night. We found out on Monday night. I basically couldn’t keep my mouth shut, and within about 48 hours a lot of people knew. :)

We weren’t particularly trying, but we weren’t taking active steps to stop Lynn from getting pregnant, either. After waffling over the subject for about a year and a half, I decided we should trust God on this, and he let me know I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was trying to tell us. So we’re pregnant. The first official doctor’s visit is in about 4 weeks from now, as Lynn is only about 4-5 weeks pregnant at this point (by her best guess). Her guess on the due date is October 9th, which is one day away from my mother’s birthday.

Anyway, the reason I wrote this entry tonight was that Lynn wanted to wait until the first Doctor’s visit to tell Samantha that “Mommy was pregnant”. We were coming home tonight from a dinner out as a family, and spent a nice moment standing in the back yard looking at the stars in the sky. It was an unusually clear night in Dallas tonight – usually you can see a few stars here and there, and that’s it – if any. But tonight, the stars were too many to count, and they were bright and STRONG. The kind of thing I recall only seeing when you’re out of a large city, and out in the country or something. So when we walked in, Lynn made a remark about something I can’t remember, and ended it with “…because I’m pregnant!” I was pretty sure Samantha had heard that, so I asked Lynn if we could tell her.

She said “OK”, and didn’t seem like she was trying to placate me (which I usually can pick up on), so we told Samantha that “Mommy was pregnant”. Samantha said “OK”, which prompted me to ask her if she knew what it meant “when a mommy was pregnant”. She thought a second, and said “It means that Baby Jesus is growing in her tummy!” That quite frankly stunned me a bit, I didn’t realize her brain would connect the word pregnant with “growing in your tummy”, much less “Baby Jesus”. So I thought a minute, and Lynn lept in with “No, it’s not Baby Jesus, but there is a baby in my tummy”. We then told her there was going to be a new baby living with us soon, and that “you’re going to be a big sister!” The fact that she lept straight to the baby being Jesus tells me that we’re doing something right with her, and our church is a bigger influence on her than we realized.

She seemed excited about it (as a 2yr old can be with that news), and gave mommy a hug. She then asked a few other questions like “is it a boy or a girl?”

[Ed Note: I had to interrupt this story – I just got called to the bedroom as Samantha had a successful attempt at using the potty, so we had to go celebrate. #2 ]

So we told Samantha that we didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl, but after that, she wanted to pat mommy’s tummy, and say “Hi!” to the baby, it was quite cute.

We’ve also picked names, but I think I need to leave something for Lynn to talk about on her blog – if she ever does one, as I’ve stolen her thunder on this at just about every angle. :)

So yeah, I think I’m excited.
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Merry Christmas

I rather liked this message from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria which I read earlier this morning, so I’ve decided to replicate it completely on my site…
—-
Christmas is here again despite all covert and overt attempts to wish it away. The celebration in remembrance of the love of God in giving the Saviour to the world is so important, it cannot be wished away.
Though few human beings rejoiced at the birth of the baby Jesus, the Gospels tell about multitudes rejoicing in the heavens, about a bright star leading wise men to worship the new born king, and they also tell about the trouble his birth brought to those unwilling to have him as their Lord and King.
The incarnation is the divine condescension. The birth of Christ which we celebrate is the decisive divine intervention into human history. By it, history is measured and judged. Before the birth of Christ, all of history is categorized as era ‘Before Christ’ (B.C.) and since then, we have been in the era of ‘the year of Our Lord’ (anno domini, A.D.)
Today, multitudes of human beings join the angels to rejoice. Christians shining as light lead many to Christ and there still exists, great trouble among those who would not have Jesus. Efforts to turn Christmas into a mere holiday season continue unabated all around us. ‘Christmas Greetings’ are replaced with ‘Season Greetings’ as if it possible to have a Christmas without Christ. ‘B.C.’ and ‘A.D’ are changed to ‘B.C.E.’ (Before Common Era), and ‘C.E’ (Common Era) all in an attempt to conceal the fact that Jesus came to save an erring world from sin and eternal condemnation.
The cross of Christ which is the main reason we boast (Gal. 6:14) remains a stumbling block and a symbol of offense to those unwilling to receive God’s free gift of salvation. (Romans 9: 33) Under the guise of political correctness, symbols of Christianity in our daily lives and history are being challenged and subtly removed. All these subtle and calculated attempts of the non-believing world to mislead the unsuspecting believers and make them deny Christ should not deter us from celebrating for we are confident the efforts are bound to fail. As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this year, let us be mindful of the activities of the first celebrants; the joyous angels who while celebrating proclaimed the Good News to the shepherds.
We should also be bold to proclaim to an increasingly secularized world, the good news of the Saviour-born. We call on all Christians in positions of authority and indeed all ministers of the Gospel to vigorously resist attempts to remove Christ from Christmas and His centrality and importance in human history. We should be vigilant and avoid being misguided and misled by their seemingly innocent and socially acceptable philosophy. In being politically correct, we should not join in denying Christ his rightful place. Let all of us unashamedly proclaim the news of the greatest gift of all, the love behind the gift and peace the gift brings to all. Jesus the Christ is our Saviour, Lord, King and the best gift ever given by God to humanity. (John 3:16)
May God incarnate, give you true joy as you celebrate Him this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
Every Blessing,
Signed
The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON,
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.

God Pie

It’s Dinner Roll Time

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Be on the lookout. If you are at a serious function, one never knows when a dinner roll might end up in your lap.
These guys are scary.

Shoes are hot

When you’ve been married for almost 11 years, you find yourself (or I do) in a constant battle not to take one’s wife for granted. It’s difficult at times when your wife has a personality who wants to do things for others. It’s way too easy to allow it to slide and… aw heck, that’s not what this blog entry is about.
Now I’ve posted things like this before, and they’ve usually been as a public apology or something. That is not the case here. My wife just took off to go see the most recent Harry Potter movie, and I have to say when she left, she looked cute – her hair was really nice.
Just wanted to mark that thought as I sit here about to go wake up our daughter from her nap. Oversleeping on naps is probably something generally inherited from me.

All I need, really

Jesus Christ is the light, and the way