Category Archives: Faith

Stories of faith

Perfect Pitch – A blessing and a curse – Part 2

Carl’s hopes for a music career and playing his violin were altered June 23, 1998, when his Camry was struck by a delivery truck early one morning as he delivered newspapers–his summer job between semesters at Hillsdale College.  cbk

He describes his recovery.

“Broken bones?” I asked.

Unknown-1   “Many, many, many. If you want me to go from top to bottom,” he pointed to his head: “Traumatic brain injury. My skull was never fractured, so that was a mercy of God right there. What they said, the right side of my brain twisted on the stem and rubbed up against the right side of my skull. That is what put me in a coma. Major gash on the left side of my skull. The scalp was open, so I had stitches there. Going down, my left collar bone was broken.”

I couldn’t resist, “You had your seat belt on, right?” Hey, I’m a mom.  Unknown-2

“That’s what saved my life. I wore my seat belt and the air bag deployed. Both my arms and both my legs were fine, but everything else in my torso was messed up, except for my back. All my ribs were broken, resulting in both lungs being punctured. My pelvis, that’s the big bone, got broken in five places. While I was in a coma, they weren’t able to move my legs until my pelvis healed. Calcium deposits started forming under my kneecaps, completely shifting my kneecaps out of their normal spot. When I emerged from the coma, I didn’t have knees. I had lumps and wasn’t able to walk.”

After more than five months of rehab, Carl was able to go home.

“I came home the day before Thanksgiving. I was so thankful to God that I was alive, so thankful to be coming home, though my emotions were a little dampened. I just didn’t seem…my emotions were pretty numbed.  Unknown-3

“I did start trying to play the violin. I wanted to play for carol sing, like I had done in the past. I tried. I really did. It was frustrating. My left hand doesn’t work. I did play, but I wasn’t at the level I wanted.”

Carl put his violin down after that.

Unknown-5 “It’s neurological damage. Something is messed up between my brain and my hand.”

“What do you think about that,” I asked.

“All right, God. What do you want me to do now?”

He had wanted to be a music teacher.

“And, now I can’t do anything musical, really. I think God was saying, ‘Trust Me, I will lead you.’ It ended up being an experience, gradually learning to trust God. There is still hope that I could play the violin, That has never left.”

Carl took community college classes that fall, then returned to Hillsdale. “I was thrilled to be back, but things weren’t as I remembered.

I wasn’t quite so…I’m a lot sadder, more sedate than I was used to being.”  Unknown-4

He struggled to explain the (neurological) loss of emotion. He did graduate from Hillsdale, a degree in music pedagogy.”

“Music pedagogy was kind of a major they made for me. I have head knowledge, but I can’t do the physical expression.”

Our lunch at Appleby’s had had several distractions. Just then Carl saw a young woman he knew. They bantered about winter break and school being superior to employment.

“Reality,” I said.

“Reality sucks,” he responded.

“Stay in school as long as you can.”

He was sheepish, realizing this was a more candid, present, than the narrative we had been focusing on.

By 2004 Carl was weighing his options.

“Is music still a hope?” I asked.   Unknown

“A very distant hope,” he said. “If I were able to play again, I think I would get back the emotion.”

“The music itself could bring it back?”  Unknown-7

“I think so.”

He’s currently (2005) studying counseling at a seminary in St. Louis.

“What’s happening inside Carl,” I asked.

“I’m really not sure. To a certain extent, I feel a little loss of direction.”

“Do you see purpose in all of this?”

“I know there is. I don’t know. I know there is one. I’ve never had a normal life, even pre-DAO (Divinely Appointed Occurrence). That’s what I call my wreck. God does not cause sin, but he has a purpose through it, and that is a mystery which, this side of heaven, we will never be able to fathom.”

“Are you OK with that?”

“I am more than OK with that.” He paused.

Unknown-8    “I should be honest. There are other things that come into play.” He described social struggles.

He’s 25. It’s a difficult young adulthood.

“What you want back is your passion for life?”

“Yes.” “I think we’re still talking about perfect pitch,” I said.

“Emotional perfect pitch., knowing what you’re missing. It hurts.”

He reflected. I had hit a chord. His friends were IM-ing him again.  images

“Do you mind if I check my phone?” he asked.

Perfect pitch–A blessing and a curse

Carl started playing violin when he was five.

“Isn’t that unusual?” I asked.

Unknown   “Not if you’re a Suzuki student,” Carl explained. “My best friend Michael was playing the violin at 3.”

His teacher Mike Beert was a cellist for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra.

“When did your playing evolve into a career ambition?” I continued.

“I almost gave it up, by the time I was in the seventh grade. I thought nothing was happening. All I could do was play with my mom.”

“But you knew you were musical.”

“I inherited my dad’s ear for music. I have pretty good pitch. I don’t have perfect pitch, thankfully.”   absolute_pitch_image001

“Thankfully?”

He explained, “Perfet pitch is both a blessing and a curse. You hear when someone is out of tune, or whatever. I have  relative pitch. And, I’ve been musical since I was born. My parents pushed me to keep going. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to enjoy playing the violin. I was part of the orchestra at my high school. I was able to audition for District Orchestra, was able to play in those for my sophomore, junior and senior years.”

“How did knowing that you were good affect your ambitions?”

“That kind of solidified my desire to continue music. I was planning on going to college, planning on becoming a high school music teacher.”

Our Applebee’s server arrived. Carl wanted crispy orange chicken. Very good. I ordered the spinach and artichoke appetizer.

He continued. “I was branching out in my musical interests. Exploring Celtic music. I love the style. It’s very emotive. I’m an emotive person. I show my emotions quite readily–wear my heart on my sleeve.”

“Music is a way to express yourself.”

“Mostly as an extension of my feelings. I decided on Hillsdale College in Michigan. I went into it wholeheartedly.”   Unknown

“What sold you on Hillsdale?”

“Mostly the community of students and the professor. That really was what it was all about. Closely knit, wonderful people. I didn’t want to be a number. I wanted to be a person. I guess I’ve always beeen a big fish in a small pond–although my high school was huge. I just had a great time being myself in both high school and college.”

Carl finished his freshman year in the spring of ’98. Everything was perfect. Then the summer of 1998.

“That fateful summer. I was picking up odd jobs doing whatever kind of work I could to earn a little extra money.”

Carl had barely touched his orange chicken. Our server asked if he wanted a box. Carl was focused on telling me his story.

“On a June morning at 5:30 a.m., I was in my car.”

“At that time of the morning, there aren’t many cars on the road, are there?”    images

“But, there are delivery trucks,” he said. “And that is what hit my car.”

His 1995 Camry was southbound.

“All I remember is I was at a stoplight. The truck was heading west to Cub Foods. A refrigerated meat truck. I don’t remember this. I am going by what I’ve been told. According to my grandfather, who saw what was left of my car in the junkyard, it’s a miracle I’m alive. The driver T-boned the Camry. It was totaled. The coroner was called to the scene of the wreck. They didn’t think I was alive, and if I were alive, I would probably die en route to the hospital. And, if I were able to make it, I would die on the emergency room table.”

I had to take a breath. I think I wasn’t breathing as I listened.

“When they finally did get me out of what was left of my car, they did get some faint vital signs.”

“You weren’t having ‘white light’ experiences?”

“I have no idea; I have no recollection whatsoever. The next thing I remember was somewhere two months after that, groggily coming to, as it were, in the nursing home.”

“That first two months, you were in a coma?”

“Correct. All I know is, the Lord preserved me. I have snippets in my mind.”

“Snippets.”

Unknown-1    “Looking out the nursing home window. I remember physical therapy. occupational therapy, speech therapy. Thank God insurance paid for the lion’s share. The lady, the caseworker for the insurance claims said, whatever he needs, he’ll get. That was just a miracle. I am so grateful to God for giving me that.”   Unknown

He recalls his mother’s presence.

“My mother told me, ‘You were in a car accident, Carl. The Lord spared your life.”

PART 2 continues next month.

 

 

Burning bushes, burning faith – Part 2

Unknown-2In 1995, Jane Logsdon and her husband Bean felt called to become missionaries in Israel. Jane’s initial resistance, and statement that it would take a burning bush to get her there, evolved into quite an experience.   Jerusalem-old-streets-Desktop-Wallpaper

I asked her to recap.

“You didn’t hear God say anything, right?”

“It wasn’t that God spoke to both of us thing. I did, for two seconds, think of leaving him. I mean just two seconds. It started on one side of my brain, and that’s how long it took to go from one side to the other,” she laughed, blue eyes sparkling.

“Then I thought, I’m not raising three kids by myself.”

“That’s how much you didn’t want to go to Israel.”

home-featuredcontent
Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill.

“Marjorie, my mom and dad had just moved to Dixon. Grandma and Grandpa in the same town with us! Our friends were there. I had no inclination to go to a foreign mission field. People prepare for that for years.”

Friends suggested they go to Israel to seek answers.

“We bought airfare, told the kids we were going on a summer vacation. Prime Minister Levine was assassinated November of that year. There were bombings.”

The Logsdons arrived August 5.

“You were looking for your burning bush.”   0511-1010-0813-1341_Moses_in_the_Desert_with_the_Burning_Bush_clipart_image-1.jpg

“I was looking under every rock. The Lord wasn’t speaking. I was thinking, maybe it is an Abraham and Isaac thing. Once I give up my will Or maybe when the kids are grown up. Maybe this is a preview.

Unknown    Israel is the sixth most expensive country in the world. Milk is $6 a gallon. Gas is more than $5 a gallon.”

They toured for two weeks.

oldcity3

“We stayed inside the Old City walls. We hired, oh, rented a car. Day trips, mostly around the Dead Sea. Sunday, we went to Church of All Nations, outside of the Garden of Gethsemane, the rock where Jesus knelt and prayed. Where He said, ‘Take this cup from me, and not my will but yours, Lord.’ Finally I knelt at that rock, sobbing. I gave my will over to the Lord. It was so hard. I was 40 years old. I knew I was holding out from the Lord.   Unknown-1

That night, I remember this as if it were yesterday, we had a plan to get some falafels and bring them to the secret garden grassy area in the guesthouse. The church was on the compound. I said, ‘Why don’t we go to church?’

Bean said, ‘Okay.’.

“We looked at the bookstore, and Bean walked up to somebody–the principal of the school connected to the church. Bean had read about the Anglican school and had seen a picture of the principal. He had inquired about David Jeffrey when we had arrived on August 5. David was on vacation.

“He walks up to this guy, with throngs of people, and gives him the story of our calling. David must have thought we were two of thousands of Jerusalem-syndrome nuts. There are a lot of crazy people who go over and say they are John the Baptist, or whatever. It’s (actually got a name) called Jerusalem Syndrome.   jerusalem-syndrome-tours

”David listened to Bean politely, as the British do, and then asked Bean, ‘What do you teach?’

“Then David looked incredulous and walked over to me. After introductions, I said, ‘I am the director and head teacher of a pre-school. They’re waiting for me to get back home.”

David and the Logsdons headed for the church service.

‘Let’s talk after church,’ he said.

The pastor asked David to make an announcement. “David looked right at me and asked for prayer for a family on vacation in England. They had had a bad car accident on August 5.

David said, ‘You know these are two of our teachers. We’re kind of in a crisis. Nigel was our science teacher. Alison was our 3-year old pre-school teacher.’”   Unknown

Jane’s story was spellbinding.

“It’s like when you get a shock. Your insides do a melt,”she recalled.

“We had to go through the whole rest of the church service. That was my burning bush. Bean said I turned to him and had tears running down my cheeks. I don’t remember.”

Within ten minutes, they had housing, schooling for three kids, and jobs.

“The way the Lord prepared for us–it was amazing. We were going to a country we knew nothing about. It’s walking on faith. We were so much in the center of God’s will that we could have walked through fire.”   Unknown-2

Unknown-1They returned home and flew back to Israel eight days later. (I was talking to Jane on one of their furloughs back in Illinois.)

“We know the Lord told us we should come back (once in a while), but not to stay.

“Do you miss (Israel)?” I asked.

“I’m grieving it. Every year has a chapter.”

“Does it take the same call to come back?”

“Missionary work. Your whole mentality changes. It’s how you live your life–relationship building. I’d like to go back. Those are precious relationships.”

Burning bushes, burning faith – Part 1

thWriting about Jane Logsdon is emotional. It’s difficult to find focus because there is so much to tell.

We were dining at Roma’s Pizza in Roscoe, Ill., turning this take out place into a dine-in one. I ordered baked tortellini; Jane tried the stuffed shells with cheese and spinach.

Our friendship over five years had been mostly emailing, so I hadn’t really learned about her background.

th-3   “I’m from a southwest suburb of Chicago,” she began. Her family moved to Dixon, Ill. when Jane was an adult.

“Did you go to college to be a teacher?” I asked, knowing she is a pre-school teacher.

“No, no. Didn’t want anything to do with kids. Now I love it,” she smiles, her blue eyes intense, her smile captivating.

What she studied was French and art.    th-2

“I wanted to be a designer, but didn’t get a job doing that right out of college.” It is easy to imagine this vivacious, trim blonde being in the art world. But she went in another direction.tour-buses-parked-rustic-location-e1366139506980

“I became a tour escort for Senior Citizen Bus Tours, and traveled. You have your fall foliage up the East Coast, Florida in February, New Orleans in February and March,th-1 Door County fish boils in season. You narrate, take care of the seniors, make sure their needs are met, and tell jokes. You probably can’t picture yourself standing up for an hour and telling jokes,” she said.

“Actually I can,” I defended. “I’ve been to Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise.”

Roma’s owner served us our baked pastas.

“Parmesan? he asked, maitre’d style in this humble take-out place. He was creating ambiance for us. And the food was great, even using plastic utensils.

Jane continued, “You cover a lot of miles on a bus. Picture me, and the bus driver, the only ones under 30, uh, under 60. They were good people. They appreciated it. To sit and cover miles with them talking about their life stories…senior citizens have a lot of wisdom and experience. They’re just wonderful, they really are.”

“That’s great,” I said.

“I didn’t know when I should quit. What did it was a New Orleans trip. Feburary, coming up by Champaign, Ill. on Route 55, our bus hit three semis. I remember talking to the lady that did die, she lying in the aisle. The bus hit ice, swerved and swung.”

I listened, rapt

“The thing that saved me, the bars in the front seat.”

“Did you see it?” I asked.

“I don’t remember, the impact was so…I mean you slide then, bam, bam, bam, you’re just hanging on. It happened in a second.”

“I’m always surprised buses don’t have seat belts,” I mused. (They do now.)

th-2“The bus was totaled. What I remember is I always took my shoes off traveling on the bus. It was a long travel day.

“So…I said, I gotta get my shoes out. All of the sudden, these big arms just picked me up and carried me. It was a truck driver. I was in shock. I had walked through the bus, and talked to the lady who was in the aisle, dripping in blood…then I got off because I knew I couldn’t help anybody in the ice storm without my proper shoes. But, this guy just sat me in the cab of his own truck.”   th-3

Jane did one more trip, and then married Bean, in June, 1978.

“Bean (his nickname for Larry) and I went right into campus life, Youth for Christ.”

They did that for 18 years until 1995, when their lives dramatically changed.

“The underlying factor is that God is good,” she said, “under all of the journeys He takes us on, which can be a lot of stress and emotional trauma.I was comfortable doing professional ministry. I had my Bible studies, helped with fund-raisers. Bean had been restless for about two years. He knew God was leading him to something else, but God hadn’t made it clear yet.

“Then Bean heard God’s still small voice, booming: Take your family and move to Israel.”Jerusalem-old-streets-Desktop-Wallpaper

Bean waited two weeks to tell Jane, to see if this thought would re-occur in his mind.

“Marjorie, I directed my own pre-school. I had been a stay-at-home mom for eight years. The pre-school was my baby. I didn’t want to go to Israel, I thought. I didn’t think it would help me to see a rock that Jesus walked on. I even asked Bean, ‘Do they have highways and grocery stores?’ My image of Israel, I’m so non-political. I didn’t watch international news. It was Sunday school picture.”

After two weeks, Bean did tell Jane.

“I was looking up at the bottom of the barrel. My whole world was crashed. I told Bean it would take a burning bush to get me there. That’s where the real testimony comes into power,” she said.

Note: This story originally appeared in Lunch with Marjorie, in The Rock River Times, in the late 1990s.

No rock will out-praise this miracle child – Part 2

I tried to coax Lennox to try my creme brulee dessert at Garrett’s in Rockford. Unknown

He tightened his lips: “No, no, no.” His huge smile returned as he continued his story.

“I was baptized that week,” he told me.

“My mom was at the gate waiting with that look on her face…excited about good news. She knew God was in it from the beginning. There’s a great feeling that comes over one when you have answered the call, stepped out in faith, and watched God fulfill the reason behind it all.”

But, urgency was in his mother’s heart.

“Every year, she was always sick…in the hospital…diabetes, hypertension,” Lennox said.  Unknown-8

A call to the school beckoned Lennox home. His mother was in a coma.

“It was a 10 minute walk from the hospital,” he said.  1376414_10153267426750293_995177309_n

“On my way home, I had this sick feeling. I just broke down. Something about this time. I remember going to the bathroom, kneeling on that (outhouse) floor, and praying…for hours.”

His grandmother prayed with him, and he fell asleep.

“I woke up about 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said.

“All the lights were on. I knew…it was not going to be good. My grandma told me that my mom passed away.”

He felt thrown off course.

“I thought God could not do that. That is not the God I know.”

His grandmother stepped in again.  125877-124720

“God will never teach you to swim so that you will drown,” he remembered, she told him.

“If God throws you in deep waters, He is going to be your lifeline.”

4_Mama-and-Bringle“You were close to her.”

“Oh yes, because my mom was always in the hospital.” His world changed. His retired grandmother’s pension was meager. Not enough to feed one person.

“It’s a third world country; you’ve got your own responsibilities,” he explained.

“I was at the mercy of the government.

“Back at school, I was considered an orphan.”

His grandmother encouraged him. God would bring a breakthrough.

When Lennox was 16, Dave and Julie led a group of students on a Salvation Army mission trip from Rockford, Ill. to the school in Kingston.  atlanta-032

They met Lennox and fell in love with him.

“They said, ‘We love you so much, we just want to wrap you up in our suitcase and take you back with us.’” he recalled.

“They were joking.”

But Dave and Julie woke up every night, feeling God was calling them to do something. Lennox kept coming up in their prayers. They started the process of taking him back to Rockford.

“Why did they fall in love with you?” I teased.

“I would call you ebullient, like champagne.”

“Well I do have joy,” he said.

Paperwork that usually took months came through in weeks.

“What made you want to come here?” I asked him.  2554961592_7650f46acd_m

“Everybody in Jamaica wants to go to the United States…streets of gold…you can get whatever you want..eat whatever you want…peanut butter…ice cream…chocolate…more than one pair of shoes without holes…more than one Sunday best,” he reveled.

“How about when you got here?” I asked.

“I don’t think it was different than what I expected,” he said.

“It was better. I landed at O’Hare. Tall buildings, beautiful cars, big streets, highways, landscaping, no rusted, galvanized zinc fences, no shacks. Clean no trash, but no beach. Shocking and amazing.”  10615626_976858975662756_435037484621016269_n

 

“We do have rusted fences and shacks,” I informed.

“I know that now, but not between O’Hare and Rockford,” he smiled.

Lennox felt like he had a family; he belonged.

“After my mom died, I felt like I didn’t belong. My brothers were older. There were living in my mom’s house. It was scattered for me. I was in a dormitory…wide open with beds.”

His mom had been the thread holding everything together. In his new environs, he attended Rockford Christian, and felt God’s plans were developing for him.

“I had to adjust…learn about myself, my gifts, my talents,” he said.

“I started getting involved in music, learning about praise and worship. I got involved in starting praise bands.”

Various parents of school friends helped him, which segued into participating in praise and worship in a newly forming church.

concert    When Lennox was ready to graduate, his new family decided it was time for him to make a change.   10413425_10152639380458115_633320461112999707_n

He began studies at Rock Valley College, and became part of the household of one of his friends. “It cost $16,000 a semester to be an exchange student,” he told me.

“I lived through each year not knowing if I was going to go back to Jamaica. There were times when my ticket was bought, or almost bought. I have a farewell video,” he chuckled.

A friend’s father found an immigration lawyer who said there wasn’t much to do except go to school…which meant raising $16,000 every few months. Then, she found a solution: Lennox could work as a religious occupant, a church missionary.

“One day my phone rang.” he said.    Unknown-3

“The lawyer asked if I was sitting down.”

He had finally been approved for legal residency.

“Just like your grandmother taught you…” I began.

“God never teaches us to swim to let us drown,” he finished the sentence.

He’s been back to see his grandmother several times, and recently went on a Salvation Army-led mission trip to their Kingston, Jamaica school for the Blind.

“Full circle,” I mused.

“Um-hmm.”

He works as a program director and worship leader for junior high school students at his church in Rockford.

“You were in junior high when all of this started for you,” I remembered.

“I plan on finishing my degree in music ministry,” he said.

“I would love to be a music pastor…getting my master’s in divinity.”

Lennox says he’s a homebody. He has an apartment, but still is a part of his best friend’s family.

People ask him where he gets so much energy.

“I worship with my mind, my soul, my heart, my strength, my whole body,” he explained.   Unknown-2

“I know God for myself. Like David, who went through the worst, God was always there to pick him up.

I watch Americans go to basketball games, football games, and they go crazy.
Why would I cease to move when I am in the presence of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God of the universe…in relationship with me? Why would I just stand? Why am I silent?” his buttery voice increased in volume.

“Jesus said if you don’ praise Him, the rocks will cry out,” he added.  Unknown-1

“The day I heard that, knowing about the goodness of God, His presence, His hand on me…I ain’t gonna let no rock out-praise me. There’s ain’t no way I’m gonna do that.”

(This story originally appeared in June, 2007, in The Rock River Times)