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Through the Cold and the Fire…Look Up


Challenges take place in everyone’s lives.  Some take the form of small events, while others wreak havoc leaving ashes and sorrow in their wake.

Here is the story of what happened to my friends Al and Margo this week.

There was a birthday celebration for Margo last Sunday night with family gathered in Al and Margo’s living room…there was love, laughter and fun shared by everyone.  One of their sons and his family were there, along with their daughter and her family.  Six adults and 6 little girls all celebrating Grandma’s big day.

Little did they know there was a chimney/attic fire starting above their heads.

The fire wasn’t discovered until the party broke up and the families were headed home.  A telltale light in the attic alerted them to the fire…you see, there is no electricity in the attic.  911 was called, and thankfully, the family was able to get some of their photos and valuables out.

It became more tumultuous from there.

It took 40,000 gallons of water from local fire departments to finally put the fire out.  The main floor was still in place, with what was left of the ceiling edges sagging down.  The structure and it’s contents were waterlogged and frozen.  You see, here in Ely, Minnesota, the daytime temps were below zero with a windchill sometimes hitting -26.

On Monday, family and friends salvaged Al and Margo’s washer and dryer, bed frames, some clothing from the front closet (that the fire hadn’t touched), and some more family photos.

On Monday night, the fire roared again…leaving just a pile of ashes in it’s wake.

On Tuesday, their daughter Mistaya commented “God gave us a window of time so we could salvage more items.”

On the night of the fire, the shock and stress brought on a health crisis for Margo.  After many tests and 2 days in the hospital, the doctor told her she could go ‘home’.  On her Facebook page, she wrote:

“Fire has taken my (our) house, we lost so much but some treasures were rescued by an army who came alongside my children, as I experienced broken heart syndrome and was admitted to the ICU in St. Marys while the fire burned down my (our) home. A couple days later, it gave a new meaning to “You can go home today, Margo.” Upon being discharged from the hospital it became the ultimate test of the truth that I know ~ my true home, my forever home is my Fortress & my Habitation: my God.”

As you can see by the testimony Margo gave and by the words of their daughter, this couple’s (and all of their children’s) faith shines brightly.  Al and Margo are the very meaning of the words: loving, faith-filled, humble.  This is not a couple that believes in excess…they’re priority is not in earthly goods.  They also don’t want to ask for more than they need as witnessed by the low amount of money the family is asking for on the ‘Youcare’ site (shown below).  This will not build a new house, this will not even cover their second mortgage, nor will it replace their household goods, but they didn’t want to ask for too much.  Many locals have offered goods and services, but Al and Margo want to wait to see what they really need.  (Building cannot begin until Spring because of our frozen winter.)  Local businesses have been very gracious, thoughtful and generous by giving gift cards to help.

More in Margo’s words:

“I (we) do need help…especially if we are to rebuild and continue our hobby or if I may, our ministry, with Boundary Waters Labradors (AKC certified) as our insurance was extremely minimal, covering one mortgage loan only…and this is why I have turned it over. I have to Let Go and Let God. Romans 8: 28 is what I am holding onto. He will meet that need, as He sees fit. It’s time for new beginnings, even though; my husband and I are 40 years strong, plus I am in the 60 and over club now, both by His grace.

I am (we are) grateful and amazed at how much God loves me (us) and manifests His love for me (us) through his creations – you.   What an awesome feeling to be shown so much care and kindness by so many people! May He bless each and every one of you three hundred fold for your prayers, and gifts. I am (we are) humbled beyond expression.”

**********************

And here is where I ask for your help…

Click on the link below and feel the blessing of helping others.  Give if you can.  Any amount helps…$5, $50, $500.  Even if you can’t donate money, I ask that you keep them in your prayers this holiday season.

Fundraiser for Al and Margo Penke

Thank you for your help…and as you walk through the cold and the fire…look up.  It is by His grace and presence that we move beyond them.

Patty O

Photo Credit:  Cheri Debeltz

Words of Affirmation


One of the blogs I read for it’s entertainment value, faith, and good advice through stories is called ‘Morning Story & Dilbert’.  Here is one that I thought I would share with my readers…because we all need to word on our Words of Affirmation.

Have a wonderful weekend friends…

Now go find a mirror and give yourself a compliment!

Patty O

Father and Daughter, Off to School


This is my favorite ‘First Day of School’ picture.

I actually didn’t plan this shot at all.  I said my ‘Have a good day(s)!!!’, they left via the back of the house, and I headed out the front to put a card in the mailbox.  I looked up as I turned to go back in and there they were.

{Sigh}

Doesn’t this tug at your heart?

It’s especially sweet when you consider the fact that Gabi is 13.  I love the fact that she still likes walking to school with her Dad.  Well…most days.  Once winter comes, she’s not as inclined to head out as early as Tim does (when it’s -20).  I think she holds out hope that either we’ll have a heatwave in that 1/2 an hour that she waits, or that Mom will feel sorry for her and give her a ride.

Right.

We only live 3 blocks from the school.

Not happening.

There are moments that I do give her a ride.  The days that are colder than -20.  Like -30…-40, or if it’s pouring rain outside.

I know…I’m up for Mother-of-the-Year.

Hmmm…

Maybe that’s part of the reason she likes walking with her Dad.  Well…that and I’m sure they talk math and athletics on the way to school.  She is his Mini-Me after all.

{Sigh}

I sure love those two.

 ——————————————————————————-

I had planned on ending my blog there, however, Gabi just sent me a text from her CC Running practice…here’s the conversation:

Gabi…Mum?

Me…Yessssss?

Gabi…Can you pick me up when we’re done?

Me…Why?   (I know, I’m such a loving mother aren’t I?)

Gabi…Cause I don’t want to walk home in the rain and cause you are an amazing mother.

Me…Hahahahaha!  (That was for the buttering up.)  It’s not raining now!

Gabi…Yeah, but I will call you when we are done and then we can decide

Me…Ok

…..guess who’ll be walking home if it’s not raining! 😉

Patty O

ps…for those of you who are new to my blog…my husband is an advanced math teacher and athletic director at our high school.

 

Rewind to Day One: 219 Blog Posts and 410 Followers Ago


Just for fun…and, well, because Gabi wanted to see it, I pulled up my first blog post.

As I re-read it I laughed at myself and thought maybe I should re-post it for those of you that started following recently.   Read more

When Something Touches Your Soul


Have you ever had a smell, a touch, a sight, a sound, or even a taste touch your soul?  Such a poignant touch that tears start to fall, or you revel in a sweet memory this sense brings back to your mind?  I’ve experienced this before, and I had it happen again on Saturday.

Let me explain and share my moment…

I was sitting with my morning cup of coffee, listening to Sirius XM – The Message and the song ‘You Raise Me Up‘ by Selah came on.  My husband and I were in the middle of a conversation and tears just started to flow down my cheeks.  He looked at me with a questioning look on his face, as we weren’t having any kind of earth shattering conversation, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.  “It’s the song”, was all I could say.  Why?  I have no idea.  I don’t remember when I last heard it or why it was so poignant to me.  But sometimes we don’t have all the answers, do we?

In His hands…we’re all in His hands.  And what a comfort that is.

Good times or bad, He’s with us.  Whether we feel Him there or not…He’s there.

May God bless all of you on this Sunday.

He sure has blessed me.

Patty O

 

 

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