Todd Biegler’s Memorial Service

IMG_5170 Last Saturday hundreds in our community experienced a beautiful, sad, and very God-honoring memorial service.

IMG_5187 The Biegler family did a wonderful job preparing for this day amidst such a hard week.

IMG_5243 Mr. Biegler and baby Nickie

IMG_5249 Visitation line

IMG_5288 Mrs. Pratt, (talking to Sarah in this picture), wrote on Todd’s tribute wall, “Now Todd can really turn his eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face!” (“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” was Todd’s favorite song, sung frequently to him during his sickness. He had it on an alarm that went off every three hours.)

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IMG_5217 Todd’s youngest granddaughter. I have come to conclude that this is her default expression. Must be because she has great parents. [smile]

IMG_5251 It was common knowledge that Todd’s favorite color was lime green because he wore that color a lot; however, I will admit that this is the first time I saw Mrs. Biegler and the others wearing lime green. [smile]

IMG_5276 Talking with good friends who drove up from Virginia for this day

IMG_5404 Steven shared about the many things he had learned from his dad. His final point was that his dad taught him to trust in Jesus — both by his words, and by his example. Steven shared that he was blown away by watching his dad go through cancer: never complaining, but steadfastly proclaiming that God has a purpose and we can trust him. “I really loved him a lot,” Steven said in closing.

Jessy, Michael, and Jim (Laura’s husband) also shared about their dad. Their high compliments for their father, and their testimonies of how his standards and godliness formed their convictions and lives, were powerful. No one could leave that service without seeing a picture of a godly father who invested deeply into shaping the lives of each member of his family. As my dad mentioned, “All the fathers in the room should have been convicted.”

From family devotions twice a day to tackling huge projects with his boys to his steadfast commitment and high standards, he paved a path that his family is so grateful to follow.

Todd’s younger brother shared how Todd consistently planted little seeds in his life… how he was there in the hard moments, pointing him to God.

Several other men spoke as well. The gospel was shared beautifully and passionately. Many worshipful songs were enjoyed.

Cheryl Kissling, Deb Biegler, and Edie Dukek playing “The Prayer.” I heard this song first when they were playing it in the hospice house.

The Biegler’s asked Bekah and her sisters Hannah and Leah to sing “Blessings.”

IMG_5476 Afterward the gym was filled with beautiful table arrangements, delicious food, old friends, smiles and hugs, a sense of closeness amidst the sadness, and a gratefulness to God that we do not grieve as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4).

IMG_5445 I got the impression this wasn’t the first time these fathers went through the food line with a 2-year-old. [smile]

IMG_5415 Some lingered in the auditorium providing prayer support … how could we go through such a time without the solace of coming to His presence for the much-needed grace He gives?! Thank you to all who have joined in prayer for the Biegler family.

2015 Bright Lights Conferences

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We are grateful to the Lord for all the pieces He has put in place already to run summer Bright Lights conferences! If “Bright Lights” comes into your mind, please pray that the Lord would deeply touch the lives of girls during these conferences! It is our desire to see the Lord turn the hearts of young ladies to seek Him fervently in their youth. Praise God that He is able to do more than we ask or imagine! There will be a Strong in the Lord Conference and Radiant Purity Conference in each location.

If you would like to help spread the word about these conferences on social media, Hannah Sandersfeld put together these images which can be easily shared via Instagram, FaceBook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogs, Google Plus, etc. (Thanks, Hannah!) She also put together another document with practical ideas for sharing on social media. See that here if you would like.

Note: Click on the above image for instagram or the below image for blogs, etc. The original file will open. Then right click to save it to your computer so you can share it. If anyone would like actual paper flyers [smile] we’d be happy to put some in the mail to you. Just e-mail me and let me know how many you can use!

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Mr. Biegler With Jesus

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Nickie’s dad went to be with Jesus Monday morning. Please pray for grace and strength for her family as they will continue to miss him greatly. As Mrs. Biegler said, “I’m deliriously happy for Todd; not so much for the rest of us.”

It is a happy thought to think of all he is seeing and experiencing now in the presence of Jesus.

I know the Bieglers would appreciate prayer that his memorial service on Saturday would bring much glory to Jesus. Pray that the light and hope of the gospel would be seen by those who do not yet know Christ!

See more information here.

Update on Nickie’s Father

Tood_Deb Photo: Hannah Sandersfeld

I wanted to share an update of what is happening with Mr. Biegler.

He is still alive, though he continues to show signs that it won’t be much longer. Sarah and I have been at the hospice house a lot this week, and I think we have been more encouraged by them than they have by us. There have been many tears, but words of praise and gratefulness are consistently coming from their lips. There’s a definite peace from the Lord.

I appreciated Michael’s words as we were leaving the other night: “We know that God is good—He was good yesterday; He’s good today; and He will be good tomorrow. And we know he has a purpose for this. If God wasn’t doing something great, He wouldn’t be doing it.”

His family echoes the same words of faith.

“I am planning to write down all the ways we have been seeing God’s hand providing for us and given us grace,” Laura said.

Mrs. Biegler often plays peaceful hymns on her guitar, and there have been some sweet times of singing. I’m sure the hospice house does not have many families like the Bieglers. The Lord is using them to be a bright shining light right now in this time; please keep upholding them in prayer—and please pray for those who are being touched by their family right now. They would like prayer for the salvation of others who they are interacting with during this time …

Here is Mrs. Biegler’s latest update (from three days ago):

Thank you for praying for Todd and for our family. Thank you for phone calls, texts, emails, cards, food, music, etc., etc. …

We’ve been here for several days. I have lost all sense of time. Somehow, I see by the calendar, we slipped into May. Todd’s pain is able to be managed for the most part, and he spends time hovering between semi-consciousness and deep sleep. Todd is continuing to decline, and continuing to hold on. The doctor thinks his time is very short – yesterday she said yesterday or today. :-) A few minutes ago, she said normally hours, but could be a few days because he is so strong. God knows.

God is continuing to make Himself evident. There is pervasive peace that is impossible to explain. The support from the staff, from volunteers, from friends – in such a variety ways – is incredible. God is blessing us with verses, prayers, songs, encouraging words, pictures – via email, texts and delivered in person. Food is abundant and delicious. We are being sustained.

Family and friends were here most of yesterday and several stayed overnight. After Todd had been unconscious most of the day, he had a time of being fairly coherent last night. God orchestrated an unpredictable, unimaginable, unbelievable gift. Our entire family was here gathered around Todd’s bed. We spent about an hour singing, praying, laughing… Todd was awake for the first time all day. He joined in for most of it – and he was hilarious. There were lots of hugs, kisses, good-nights… joy, peace. I can’t begin to explain the specialness of it, but it sure felt a little like heaven.

After everyone left the room, Todd was in extreme pain, and right back to the bloody, leaky, messy place he’s been in for so long. There were some intermittent rough spots overnight and this morning. Now he is heavily medicated to help with pain, and pretty much out of it.

I have come to some conclusions. Pain, disease, suffering, anger, fear – are a huge part of our world. Death stinks. Sin is not worth it. And, yet, we do. I do. I don’t think I go five minutes (and I’m giving myself extreme grace in that estimate) without sinful, selfish thoughts, words or actions. It is our nature. My nature. I hate it. Even in the midst of this terrible, necessary season of Todd’s life, of our family’s life, when it seems like there are so many needs, I find myself thinking, “Hey! What about ME?!” Why God would be so forgiving, so loving, so kind…showering selfish, inadequate me with grace upon grace is beyond my comprehension. And to think, because of His love, He paid the price – eternal death – for our sin; for my sin. He died for us. For me. We are forgiven. I am forgiven. He conquered death and rose again. He rose again and He loves all of us with all our unique gifts and faults; and we are to do the same. I am to do the same. Oh, that I could. sigh…

Thank you for supporting us for so long. We are praying for many blessings on the known and unknown pray-ers who are holding us so tenderly.

Deb

Prayers for Nickie’s Father

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Nickie’s family is walking down a very rough road right now, as many of you already know. They are handling it beautifully with love and grace, but they need prayer. Her dad is now at home receiving hospice treatments. They are dealing with episodes of extreme pain. They testify to both their weariness and God’s faithfulness.

Sarah and I visited Mr. and Mrs. Biegler and Nickie in the hospital a few days ago. We shared how concerned we had been. Mr. Biegler (Todd) said, “What’s the concern?” He shared his confidence in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

I think you will be blessed to read some sections from reports that Mrs. Biegler has sent out.

Report from Nickie’s Mom, Earlier This Month:

… I wish I could say he was doing well, but he is suffering. I have to say, he is faithfully stoic as he’s dealing with this. He knows God has a purpose and a plan in everything. He is finding all kinds of reasons to thank God, during and through this. Todd has mentioned several times that his suffering is nothing compared to that of Jesus. God is always with us, showing His love in various ways, depending on the need of the moment. I guess I’m trying to say, things are really hard, but God is really good.

Knowing that God is sovereign and always has the best for His children is easy for me to understand, but is not always easy to live through. I know that this pain and disease will end in healing – either through life or death. I want Todd’s body healed here (and now!), but knowing how great it would be to see Jesus, I struggle with the selfishness of that prayer. Todd has an alarm that goes off several times a day, singing the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” which goes on to say, “Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!” I am fully incapable of having God’s perspective on this, but I do fully trust Him to be at least a bazillion times wiser than I. I have to decide, several times a day, to trust Him with Todd’s current situation, that He knows what’s going on and has His hand in it.

If you are called to pray for Todd, please pray for His faith to remain strong, for endurance, patience, and wisdom. Please pray for healing, for pain relief, for rest.

Report From Nickie’s Mom, This Past Sunday:

… Todd is steadfast, and stoically facing each day. He is not afraid of living and he is not afraid of dying. Our house is usually peaceful and quiet, with soft instrumental music often playing. Sometimes he watches videos for distraction. He knows His God and trusts him implicitly. When he can, we have good conversations about God, life, death, family, the future, the news, big things, little things, whatever. There is a joy and richness that I marvel at. We revel in His blessings.
Last night I was hit by one of those sudden fears the Bible tells us not to be afraid of. Bottom line was I know there is no one who will love me like Todd loves me – and there isn’t, by God’s design of marriage. The potential emptiness was so bleak and dark. The fear was making no sense and was quickly becoming overwhelming. All I could think of was the children’s song based on Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid I will ______ in Thee, I will ______ in Thee, I will ______ in Thee … in God who’s Word I praise.” I could not think of that word that I would do! It was terrible, because I didn’t know what to do when I was afraid… so I praised God’s word. Suddenly I remembered, “Perfect Love casts out fear!” It hit me that that is God’s Word, He has perfect love, and He will never leave me or forsake me. (Even Todd’s love is not perfect. :-) It is going to be okay. I fell right asleep. I knew all those things, but I guess I just needed to live it a little. This morning, I remembered the word – “trust.” :-)
If God calls Todd to mind, please pray for him. I just want for relief for him, and selfishly, I hope for God’s healing here on earth. Jesus says we don’t have, because we don’t ask, and that is what I’m asking for. However, I know that God knows best. Jesus asked to have His cup pass from Him, but more than that, He wanted God’s will to be done. That is what both Todd and I pray for, and that we would walk this walk the way God would have us walk it.
Thanks,
Deb

Report from Nickie’s sister, Laura, this morning:

Thank you for praying so faithfully for my dad, mom and the rest of our family! God’s grace has been so evident in our days and though it has been a long, difficult week there is hope and there is joy. My dad is home from the hospital receiving care from in-home hospice and his favorite caretaker, my mom. He is still often in pain and has had some “episodes” of severe pain. (For those who know the hospital smiley/frowny face chart, the last one he rated as a 10.) Please continue to pray for relief from pain and for healing. We know that God will heal him in His perfect time … Thank you again for your prayers and support! There have been many tears, but there have also been many smiles, times of laughter and blessings. Indeed God’s grace is sufficient.

Resting in Him,
Laura

Happy 30th Birthday Stephen!

IMG_4800-2 Cooking corn-tuna pancakes with Stephen while camping in Rocky Mountain National Park (I think we were running out of ingredients [smile])

Well, my big brother-playmate-counselor is turning thirty today. And he’s not even here; he’s in D.C. for work (photojournalism for The Gazette). So I thought I’d post a few comments about Stephen.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were playing Legos for hours on end in the basement. So much drama happened in those ongoing sagas as our Lego heroes protected their fortresses from the bad guys. It was so funny too (believe it or not)!

Stephen and I are kind of polar opposites in many ways (if you haven’t noticed). Whenever I know something that Stephen doesn’t know, I savor the rare moment and ask him, “Is this how you feel all the time?”

Stephen is certainly one of the smartest people I know, but beyond that, God has given him wisdom that sees through current issues with black and white clarity. I’m excited to see how God will continue to use him in our generation. I appreciate how whenever Stephen shares or teaches at our church, he shares something insightful, unique, and interesting—and communicates with authority.

He keeps our family ministry going in every practical way—coming over here to our office as his “second job” after he finishes his work at The Gazette. Sometimes we barely see each other as we’re both absorbed in our work; other times we’re up late laughing.

Happy Birthday Stephen—I am forever proud to be your little sister! =)

Bible Study Stations: Ready, Set, Go!

IMG_4735 Last Monday night Sarah planned something a little different for our local Bright Lights group. Rather than teaching all of the girls together, she had the older girls in our group lead “Bibles study stations.” The younger girls spent the evening going from one station to another until they had been to all seven stations.

Every twelve minutes, Sarah would play a song on the piano. That was the signal to get up and move on. (We gave each girl a list in advance of the order in which she should move from station to station.)

I thought I’d document it in case any of you other Bright Lights leaders would like to do something similar in your group. (Thanks to Nickie for getting the pictures.)

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Station 1: Word Studies Marie led this group, sharing how it’s helpful to identify key words in a verse or passage and use a dictionary, concordance, etc. to really understand what that word means. My grandpa contributed by bringing a whole box of dictionaries and concordances for us to borrow!

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Station 2: Concordance Abilene taught this station. One girl said it was her favorite station and commented, “We have a concordance at home. I’ll have to start using it.” =)

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Station 3: Meditation on Scripture We wrote verses on 3×5 cards and talked about ways to get them into our hearts–such as quoting them to ourselves, emphasizing a different word each time. Biblical meditation (thinking about Scripture!) is the opposite of what the world thinks of meditation (emptying your mind). If we are thinking about verses while we are doing the dishes, in the shower, and all throughout the day, we will blessed as Psalm 1 tells us!

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Station 4: Observations Layel helped girls use the questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how to deepen their understanding of a passage. I heard that Layel did an excellent job helping them see that they can learn a lot more when they stop and ask a few simple questions about the passage they are studying rather than simply reading straight through. After all, we girls like to ask questions, right?! =)

IMG_4765 The piano is playing! Quickly move to the next station =)

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Station 5: Topical Studies
Mrs. Kissling from our church came as a special guest to help out. She shared how doing topical studies is one of the things that has helped her in her personal Bible study.

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Station 6: Waking up! Don’t laugh–this is a very necessary part of the process and a valuable skill to learn! =) Molly (in striped shirt) gave lots of practical ideas about how to wake up and be alert in the morning. She also created a morning checklist for each girl to take home.

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Station 7: Color Coding Elizabeth (blue shirt on the left) did a great job giving ideas about color-coding key words. She prepared a sample sheet to help the girls get started.

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“What did you girls learn?” Sarah asked as we came back together. It was sweet to see them raising their hands and sharing what they learned.

We overheard one of our littlest girls telling her mom, “Mom! I looked up a word in the dictionary tonight!” It’s special to see the girls experience new ways to study the Bible for the first time, and express enthusiasm about what they are learning.

The Lord is raising up young ladies with a heart for Him and His Word! May we all continue to seek Him in His Word in deeper ways, and pray with David, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:36)!

‘Radical’ by David Platt, Free Audio Download

I recently started listening to David Platt’s book, Radical. I’ve appreciated the challenging and encouraging points he makes, and I like how it’s read by the author.

Some people I highly respect have recommended this book, so it’s been on my “reading list” for a long time. I prefer audio, so finally I borrowed the CDs from a friend. But today I noticed that Christian audio was giving away the book free: see here. I’d really recommend you download this and listen to it — even if you’ve already read the book. =) The offer is only available for a few days.

Also, I posted a bit about a “book review” of Radical that Stephen shared with our Bright Lights leaders on a conference trip here.

(Note: I have been so grateful for the ipod my brother gave me a few years ago because of how much I have enjoyed listening to audio books/sermons the past few years… I strap it to my arm and have found it’s a wonderful way to maximize time when I’m cooking, cleaning, exercising, organizing, etc. A few minutes here and there really add up to a lot of time!)

Resurrection Conversations

On Sunday, we went downtown Iowa City to share the gospel with University students, using the resurrection of Jesus as a conversation starter.

IMG_4728 Our witnessing team for the day

“Hi! I’m doing a little questionnaire about Easter. Could I ask you a few questions?” I asked two Asian students.
“We don’t know anything about Easter,” they told me.
“That’s okay! You can still answer the questions.”
They agreed.
“When did you first hear about the resurrection of Jesus?” I asked them.
“When I came to the States … on a TV show,” the guy replied.
“What do you personally believe about God and what happens when we die?” I asked.
“We don’t believe in God; we believe in evolution,” they both said.
“Well, when I look at that brick building over there and see the design and beauty in it, I know someone designed it. How much more our bodies, and this universe! How do you think everything started?” I asked.
“Through a big explosion,” he said.
“What exploded?” I asked.
“Gasses; chemicals,” he replied.
“Where did those come from?” I asked.
“Well … they were already there,” he said (or something like that).
“How did something come from nothing?”
After a bit of deliberation, he replied, “I guess there must have been a maker [of those original elements].”

Interesting! This Asian student went from claiming to be an atheist to believing in a “Maker” in just a few minutes.

“I’ll think about this,” he told me. He seemed to appreciate the Evolution Vs God DVD.

A few minutes later, I met Katherine and James, strolling down the sidewalk.

“Would you be willing to do an Easter questionnaire?” I asked them.
“Sure!”
“Really?” I said, surprised. (A lot of people had been turning me down!)
“When did you first hear about the resurrection of Jesus? Like … was it Sunday school, or … ?”
“I think it was when I was 10 in California and a friend talked to me,” James said.

About this time, a homeless man walked up and began interrupting the conversation in a kind of strange way. I felt this was likely spiritual warfare and this gave me stronger determination to do the most I could to communicate the gospel to this couple!

I decided to get right to the point. [smile]
“So what does one do to get right with God, and know they will be with Him when they die?”
James and Katherine had an “earn-your-way-to-Heaven” mentality.

“So if you were standing before God and He asked you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say?”
“That’s a really good question!” Katherine said.
“I guess I would ask for forgiveness and try to prove to Him that I am worthy of getting there,” James replied.

After I shared about God’s justice, our sin, and His need to punish, I showed them some verses about how God’s rescue plan is a gift that we can either receive or reject.
“Have you understood this before?” I asked.
“No, I have not heard this until today; no one has ever explained it to me,” James said.

“Would you like to meet up again to study the Bible?” I asked them. There was interest, so I am praying this will work out.

I was reminded how a successful witnessing conversation is not getting them to “make a decision for Jesus” and then leaving them, but rather, giving them a taste for the Word so that we can continue to teach them! It reminds me of Ephesians 4:20-21, which I read this morning: “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus.”

You see, another way of saying that someone “got saved” could be they “learned Christ.” We may not always know the moment of spiritual birth (the moment God detects faith in their heart) but God does! Our responsibility is to teach Christ!  “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”

It is so encouraging to meet students who want to learn about the Lord. One guy that my dad talked with asked for his contact info and told him, “Don’t be surprised if you get an email from me about this.”

I was also particularly encouraged to see the teens on our witnessing team growing in boldness! It’s thrilling to see God orchestrating and working.

St Patrick Search and Rescue

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We are grateful to God for a great afternoon at the St Patrick’s parade on Tuesday.

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About 40 friends gathered downtown to pass out the “History of St Patrick” gospel tract, including many children whose parents were coaching them on tract-distribution.

People love the opportunity to dress up in their funny green attire, and this simply gives us more ways to start conversations with them!

“I like your hat!” my dad told a man with a really tall green hat.
“I like yours too!” the man replied.
“But yours is better,” my dad said. He then explained how we were passing out “The History of St Patrick” at the parade and offered him one of our tracts. The man wanted one, just like almost everyone else does. Many are curious about who St Patrick actually was.

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Cheryl had a good talk with this guy. She shared the gospel with him and recommended a good church in his neighborhood. I was surprised to run into him on a different street corner about twenty minutes later and was able to continue the conversation!

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“I can’t adopt a dog, unfortunatley,” I told this lady after taking this picture.
“But we adopted a son!” my dad added.
“A what?” she asked.
“A son!” my dad said. “From Korea.”
“And that’s how we ALL get into GOD’S family…” he said and continued to share how that can happen to any of us.

My dad especially enjoys going up to small groups of high school guys and asking them “Have you gotten one of these? It’s a history of St. Patrick. Do you know anything about Patrick? Why does Ireland remember him 1600 years later?”

He then tells the story, sharing something like this: “Patrick convinced many in Ireland that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. They worshiped the sun and Patrick told them, ‘If you worship the sun you will die, but if you worship the Son of God you will live, because the Son of God rose from the dead and is alive. You will live forever because the Son of God lives forever.’ So many Irish believed that it influenced the whole nation. They abandoned sun worship and turned to the God who created them!”

My dad then shares how people today remember Patrick, but know nothing of Christ. And only Christ can save us!

When talking with small groups of youth at the parade we find that some are politely disinterested, some are embarrassed, but some have that interest in their eyes.

Our team came back together after the parade and shared about the conversations we had. Several reported how they saw a sincere interest in the gospel in those they spoke with. Praise God!

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My mom sat down next to this lady on the picnic bench and they ended up having a good conversation through most of the parade. This lady was a single mom and shared a lot with my mom about things going on in her life.

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We think this was supposed to be Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster). Haha.

IMG_4603 Little Naomi is growing in her ability to pass out tracts! We are proud of her!

We had a big scare part way through the parade. Little David (8), Naomi’s brother, was missing. He had been doing a wonderful job passing out tracts (had distributed about 400!) but then David got separated from those with him. All of a sudden, our “witnessing team” became a “search and rescue team.”

After about a half hour, as I was scanning the crowds, a lady approached me asking urgently, “Are you looking for a lost child?”
“Yes,” I replied, wondering how she knew.
“He’s in the police car,” she said, pointing.

Someone had taken him to the parade judges, who took him to the police, and apparently the police man had told David to watch for someone he knew.

Poor David was quite shaken emotionally!

We are grateful for the kindness, security, and protection we were given from the police and parade officials. David said his favorite part of the day was “getting found.”

In the same way, may we have great urgency and concern to search for those who are “lost” spiritually, and find great joy in the fact that our Shepherd has found each one of us who has put our trust in Him and brought us to Himself, our secure Refuge!

After everything was over, we set out, tired and hungry, for Chic fil A! =P

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).