I wanted to take the opportunity today to share something with all of you that R. H. and I have been praying about for the past few months. About two months ago, just a few days before Harvey was able to come home from the NICU, we were told that he failed his hearing screening twice. Therefore, we were referred to an audiologist. Six weeks ago, Harvey was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) and we were told that he might not be able to hear. We didn’t share this news very publicly because we didn’t know what to share. We left the audiologist’s office with so many questions, but no answers. We were told that we would know more as Harvey grew and we would do some more tests.
This news rocked our world. When we got home from this appointment, we climbed in bed, held each other, and cried. We just wanted our baby to hear us tell him that we loved him, and we didn’t know if that would ever happen. The next six weeks were spent praying, crying, coming to peace with hearing aids, learning a little sign language, and even more praying.
We went for a follow-up appointment this past Friday to have the same test repeated. We were hoping that maybe there would be some improvement in Harvey’s hearing because we were seeing signs of hearing: sometimes he would flinch at loud noises and once he even woke up crying to R. H.’s alarm clock. So we went to this second test with cautious optimism, not wanting to get our hopes up.
Friends, let me tell you, our sweet baby boy is the proof of the power of prayer! Not only did his hearing improve, but it 100% improved!!! Our miracle baby no longer has the ANSD diagnosis but can hear normally!! This amazing news is still a bit of a shock to us and I don’t know if I have fully come to realize the miracle that this is. We are extremely grateful to all of you who have been and continue to pray for our family. Our little boy is here and thriving because of your prayers! I have learned throughout the years that God does not always answer prayers the way we might hope or expect Him to. In one way, He already answered our prayers when we had peace and started accepting this diagnosis. But God really blew us away with complete healing! We are still trying to glean the whole lesson that God is teaching us through this, but until then, we are just praising the Lord for healing our son!
If you are anything like me, the beginning of September is one of the busiest times of the year. I feel like every year, once Labor Day has come and gone, the calendar seems to flip by faster than I can keep up. Summer ends, school begins, fall starts, and before we know it the holiday season is upon us. This time of year often feels like a whirlwind to me. And I have the tendency to just jump on the whirlwind and hang on with all my strength. The last 4 months of the year always go by in a frenzy and I often forget to slow down and take time for myself, but more importantly take time to spend with God.
As this whirlwind season begins, I want to encourage you all to be intentional about caring for yourself and your relationship with God. Make it a priority to spend time in the Bible and to spend time praying regularly. Don’t let yourself get swept away in the whirlwind; be intentional about your time, enjoy every passing moment, live in the now, and don’t fret about what is happening next week or next month.
FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR BECKY:
It is the great privilege of our Youth Search Committee and staff to announce that Tanya Karn has been hired as our Director of Youth! After an extensive search of colleges, seminaries and more, it became clear that Tanya had just the qualifications we were seeking for our youth ministry:
A real & contagious faith
A deep commitment to our youth
A hunger to create engaging youth programs and mission opportunities
We are delighted to take the “interim” tag off of Tanya’s title and welcome her fully into the ministry of Liberty. Please share your excitement with her, and also take a moment to connect with our great youth team: R.H. Karn, Bekah Hiltz, Shelby Louge and Sandy Scherer.
Becky & John
Starting a new school year can be hard. Especially after a summer immersed in mission work, Bible studies, and hanging out with your church friends. I know that when I was a teenager, I came off my summer breaks with such a “Jesus High”. So going back to school and being surrounded by peers that were not feeling the same was pretty difficult. I learned that I needed to keep myself rooted in Christ throughout my life instead of just during the summer.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 says,
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
I love the imagery in this verse. It gives us a clear picture of what a life rooted in Christ looks like. Even though the landscape around this tree might be dry and barren, the tree is green and flourishing. This tree is getting all that it needs from the river. I want to encourage you this week to work on planting yourself in God’s word and becoming like the tree Jeremiah mentions.
We had two absolutely wonderful interns this summer! This summer was probably one of the most unique summer internships there will ever be, as R. H. and myself were not around much and they were given more responsibilities and duties than we originally intended. These two were so willing and quick to pick up the task ahead of them and run with it. One particular intern caught the attention of a lot of parents and church leaders because of her sheer eagerness to build relationships with our youth, lead them in Bible studies, and help however possible. For all these reasons, we knew we needed to keep her around and let her use these amazing gifts in our youth ministries. Therefore, I am very pleased to share with you all that Shelby Louge will be joining our team as a youth assistant! Next time you see her, let her know how excited you are to have her on our team and keep her in your prayers as she starts her second year at OSU, today.
A word from Shelby:
“I have been a part of the youth group since sixth grade and I cannot explain how grateful I am for the friendships and experiences I have gained. In this group, I found my relationship with God and I was able to strengthen that relationship through Bible studies, mission work, and friendships rooted in faith. Through all of this, I relied on the love and guidance from the youth leaders. I found role models I could look up to and seek advice from. Because of this, I am so excited to be a youth assistant. I am so excited to continue to be a part of the youth group and I pray that I will be the role model and friend that so many youth leaders were to me.”
What is it about music that people love so much? A song is a powerful thing; it can bring tears to your eyes, a smile to your face, or movement to your feet. When your favorite song comes on the radio, you can’t help but crank up the volume. If you hear a familiar melody without the words, you can sing along from memory. Little children can’t help but bounce and shake to a great beat if they hear one. There is just something about music that speaks to each and every one of us. We are wired to love it.
Because of all of this, it comes to no surprise to me that the largest book in the Bible is a whole book of songs. Yes, I’m talking about the book of Psalms. This book is full of songs written by King David, and other authors, to God. There are songs of prayer, songs of thanksgiving, songs of anger, and songs of grief. Some of the most famous and familiar scripture quotes come from Psalms.
During the summer, the high school Digging Deeper Bible Study spent each Monday night looking at some of the youth group’s favorite worship songs and finding the scripture behind each song, sometimes even looking up the whole Bible story that was referenced in a song. The Bible study was so well received that we decided to keep the study going into this school year.
I want to encourage you this week to do something similar: go find your favorite worship song, crank it up and sing along. Then open up your Bible and find the scripture or story behind it (Google comes in very handy here!). Let that scripture sink in, let God speak to you through it. Finally, listen to your song one more time and let all the scripture wash over you and listen to the Lord!
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.”
After a very unplanned time off, I am back in the office. I have been so grateful to all the people who have prayed for us, brought us meals, and stepped into the lives of our youth while I have been out. There have been so many people in our church family who have blessed R. H., Harvey, and myself, that the list would be too long for you all to read.
While we were starting our NICU journey, the verse Philippians 4:13 came to my heart, and I clung to it with all my strength. As I flipped my Bible open to that passage, I was reminded that these words from the apostle Paul were words of thankfulness. Being supported and loved by our amazing church family brought this passage a whole new significance to me; it came alive. As I have been trying to find words to share my gratitude, Paul’s words came back to me once again.
“How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.” ~ Philippians 4:10-14
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!