Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Day at a Time

My family and I are walking through the grief of losing Jessica. We are approaching our first Christmas without her. We have experienced some pockets of joy in this holiday season, but we also have dealt with loss and despair. Daily I cling to the truth that God is in control, God will bring peace & comfort, God does have a plan. Yet, sometimes my emotions still fight this truth.

I've been reading through a devotional book by Frances J. Roberts, titled Come Away My Beloved. Today really hit home and I thought I'd share it with you. The scripture reference is Matthew 6:34, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Frances Roberts writes - the text is written as if God is speaking to us:
O My child, have you not known the way of the Lord, and can you not trust Him now? [I must admit I'm not sure I feel like trusting God in this current valley.]

Be content with what each day brings, rejoicing in your God, for surely He shall deliver you. [I have experienced this in the past, but again getting my emotions to line up with truth can be difficult.]

His way is discernable to the eye of faith. His heart is surely your strong tower. In His affection you have security. In His love are your hope and peace. Each day holds some small joy that shall escape you if you are preoccupied with tomorrow.

Nothing daunts your Father. Nothing can restore the past and nothing can bind the future, but today you may live in the full blessing of the Father's smile. Hold to His words, for they are like a nail driven into solid wood. All else may seem shifting and transitory, but His Word is firm. [I know this is true -- my feelings and emotions do shift, but God's word has been faithful to me.]

His word is a rock that shall not be moved. It is a firm place to stand. Do not walk in the path of human reason, and resist the pressures that would project you into conjectures about the future. Live one day at a time! For you know that He loves you, and you will find your peace as you rest in Him.

I choose today to remember that no matter how my emotions may shake me, my rock is God and I can trust His word. I will walk day by day, remembering who He is and knowing He will bring peace and healing to me and my family.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reflections on turning 50!

Lou & I both turned 50 this year! Unbelievable, where does the time go? When I turned 40, I could see myself turning 80. I know that sounds silly, but it brought some comfort to know that I was not quite "over the hill". It was my way of rationalizing getting older.

Now that I'm 50, I do have a hard time seeing myself turn 100. So, the realization that I'm in the latter part of my life has hit me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discouraged over this. I am thankful for good health and hoping to age gracefully. My forties were my best decade to date; so who knows what will happen in my 50's!

I have been evaluating what have I done so far with my life and what will I do with the remaining days I have. This has struck me more so in the past few weeks as I have been walking through the valley of greif again. I know that God numbers my days, but it becomes more real when you lose someone. [At least it does for me]. Jessica was only 18 when God called her home; Chris was only 27. How many more days do I have before I go home?

I don't have any answers yet to any of these questions. But, I am clinging to the truth that God has ordered my steps; God will never leave me and is faithful; and God will never hide from me, no matter how dark my journey seems. I have made some mistakes in my first 50 years and I will make some more mistakes in the next 50 years. But, as I continue to grow older, my desire is to serve God and bring Him glory with my life, love Lou & my family with all my heart, support my friends as they walk through life and to finish the race well.

Please continue to keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we move into the holiday season. It will be difficult since Jessica won't be here to celebrate with us. Yet, we have confidence that she is celebrating and enjoying her eternal life and we cannot wait to see her again soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jessica JoLinn Collins

On 1 October, I (Cathy) was cleaning up after our normal Friday ministry night. The phone rang and it was my father. My dad told me that my niece, Jessica JoLinn Collins, had died. She was 18 years old, a recent high school graduate and my brother's only child.

I sat there numb as I began to realize that I won't see her until I leave this world; as I began to realize that my brother won't see his little girl get married; as I began to realize that we won't hear her laugh again. Is this really happening?

God was so gracious to us. Lou began to call people to see if we could get help with running our ministry. I called United to see if we could get a flight home ASAP. Within four hours, we had our ministry covered and a flight to Denver the very next morning. The tough part about living in Germany is being so far away from family. How I wanted to be right there giving my brother a hug and crying with the family as we began to grieve the loss of sweet Jessie. Fortunately, I was home within 24 hours.

It has been a tough week as we said good-bye to Jessica. She was a relational young lady, who was deeply loved. She never met anyone who didn't become her friend. She had a heart of gold, a smile that would brighten the room, and loved life. She was creative, loved to bake, enjoyed volleyball, singing in the car, loved animals and really brought joy to our lives.

Now, we begin to live without her. I know God will continue to bring comfort and peace as we deal with this tragedy. We are trusting in God's soverignity and that He is in control. Our prayers is that He will be glorified through the homecoming of Jessica. But, right now, our hearts ache, in time we will will be a long time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We do remember...we will never forget!

As we get ready for church this morning, we are discussing the fact that it is 911. We reflected on where we were 10 years ago and what we have done in those 10 years. 911 is my generations "JFK assassination." Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing.

10 years ago, we were waiting to meet our movers as we were settling into our home in Colorado Springs. 10 years ago, we sent our new middle schooler off to 6th grade at Challenger Middle School. 10 years ago, we were excited to see what doors God would open up for us in ministry as we began to look for a new church community.

As we were sitting in our driveway, waiting for our movers, we were listening to the radio. The unthinkable occurred....a second plane had hit the World Trade center. WHAT?! We didn't even know there was a first; was this a joke? Throughout the day, with no TV, we listened to a portable radio that one of our movers had. We listened to updates on the pentagon, New York City, Flight 93. We listened to local reports that our bases were being locked down. We were in a daze! What was going on, America was being attacked. Lord, protect our country was our cry!

As the years went by, we all returned to our "normal" lives. Katie continued in school, we continued to work and serve our church. We spent time with family, enjoyed wonderful vacations, life went back to "normal". But, just like every tragic event -- there is always an anniversary.

Now, here we are 10 years later: 9-11-11. Katie is no longer a cute 6th grader, but a senior at University of Northern Colorado. We are no longer living in our nice home in Colorado Springs, but in a ministry home in Kaiserslautern, Germany. We no longer minister to 20 somethings that are just getting ready to start their lives after college; but we minister to the US military as they continue to protect our borders and our freedom.

We are proud to be Americans. We are proud to see how our country has handled this act of war -- it has been a testament of our people's character and resolve. We are proud to be serving God and our country in a very unique way as we open our home to servicemen and women and their families. Despite the fact that our enemy meant harm to us as a nation, we have persevered. God is still in control, He still reigns and He continues to have a plan for the American people.

Pause today and pray for those people who lost loved ones 10 years ago. Pause today and thank God for our freedom. Pause today and pray for the men and women who are currently serving in the military and a special prayer for those who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pause today and remember.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What do you do?

We get asked this question alot: What do you do? We explain to folks that we are military missionaries. We provide a home away from home to military personnel and their families, lead Bible studies in our home, meet one-on-one with people, basically, we just do life with folks, and pray that our lives glorify God in the process. After we answer, people look at us very strangely.

The next question, as they wrestle with trying to understand what we do, comes quickly. What does a typical day look like for you? Boy, that's quite a different question. It's different because it's not easy to answer. Lou was home in Colorado this summer for a family celebration and he was asked this question a lot. So, we have been pondering a good response.

The bottom line....we don't have a typical day. We study for four ministry nights. We study for our discipleship and mentoring relationships. We maintain a home that averages 100 people a week through its doors. We cook meals for our ministry nights. We have commitments for the military chapel that are part of our weekly tasks. To facilitate getting to know people better, we lead off-base excursions. It's amazing what you can learn about someone on a 2 hour car ride to see a church in a cute German town.

We then move into the non-recurring type of activities. Things that just crop up. Sometimes, they are major things -- like our basement flooding or rushing to the hospital to be with someone after their child has attempted suicide.

Two weeks ago was a perfect example. We got home from our vacation to learn that there was a going-away ice cream party for one of our guys who was deploying - THAT NIGHT! We spent some time eating ice cream and hanging out with Chris.

We woke up the next morning to have an email waiting for us from an old co-worker. Her son-in-law had been injured in Afghanistan and was at Landstuhl. We were able to visit him and meet with him a few times that week before he was sent back to the States.

We capped the week spending some time with some friends who were having some struggles.

We experience many joys, lots of laughter and some sorrows in our job. But, it is different every week, every day. We are so grateful for the opportunity do serve our U.S. military and the Lord. It is an honor and a priviledge. All we know is our lives are fun and fulfilled and NEVER DULL!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cathy turns 50!

Unbelievable! Where does the time go? 50 years!! When I turned 40, I remember thinking "I can see myself living longer than 80, so I'm not middle aged yet." Now that I'm 50, I can't really see myself living to 100, so I guess I'm officially middle aged.

I must say turning 50 has been great. I have enjoyed a month of celebration. So, I guess this is a big deal. I really don't feel much different than when I turned 30, despite when I look in the mirror and I see some affects of aging (wrinkles, some gray hair, more aches & pains).

My birthday has been celebrated in many fun ways. The people in our ministry threw me a surprise party. We had a fun BBQ, played some softball, volleyball, and corn hole. We ate good food and had super conversations. Of course, no 50th birthday party should be without a pinata! [Don't you just love the great form I had swinging the stick to break the pinata?!]

I was blessed with some fun and special gifts. I received many birthday cards in the mail. I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. My mother decided to remind all of my cousins, family and close friends that I'm the first to turn 50. So, I received several cards from folks that I typically don't get birthday wishes from. It was really special!

My dear hubby took me on a 50th mini-moon to Slovenia. We spent 2 days exploring Lake Bled. A quaint town with a beautiful lake and mountains. It was wonderful to have a few days to totally relax and be together.

I wish I could say that I have great words of wisdom as I begin this new decade. I have learned that relationships matter most...not my job or my ministry. Relationships are what gets me through the joys and sorrows of life. My relationship with God, my amazing husband Lou, my daughter Katie, my friends! So, as I begin this next phase of life, I look forward to many more years growing deeper in my walk with Christ, loving my husband and daughter more and strengthening the bonds of friendship that I have been blessed with over the years!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Reflections

What does patriotism mean to you? Don't we usually think of that on the 4th of July. Patriotism, fireworks, freedom, independence -- these are the thoughts & ideas we reflect on this special day. Webster defines patriotism as love for or devotion for one's country. I love my country, I love what it stands for, I love the hope it gives me and others. I appreciate my country more now that I'm living in Germany. My pride for my country has deepened since I've been serving the military. Our freedom does not come without a price and I hope we never forget that!

As a child, my parents hung the flag on every national holiday. This was a family tradition and it instilled in me a sense of honor for our country and its flag. Here in Germany, it's very different. In the two years we have lived here, the only time we have seen flags flown is during the Soccer World Cup. Right now, the Womens World Cup is going on in Germany. Now, I must confess we don't know much about soccer. We are a baseball & football family. [I know my brother Chris would be very sad -- since he played soccer.] But Germans love their soccer! They love their teams and when the soccer tournaments are going on -- their patriotism shines.

Here is a picture of one of our neighbors cars. Bob & Liz Motley live right across the street from us. Bob is a retired Army servicemen and Liz is a German national. As you can see, two flags -- American & German -- being flown to show their allegience to their country soccer team.

Yet, it has caused me to think why this is the only time that their flags are flown. Outside of this sporting event, there doesn't appear to be the same love of country among the Germans. So, today as we celebrate our independence. Reflect on what our freedom means to you, reflect on what our freedom has cost others and be proud to be an American!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fun adventures

When we decided to move to Europe, one of the things we evaluated was our savings. We decided to set some money aside to be able to enjoy some special trips while we lived here in Germany.

One of those trips of a lifetime was golfing in Scotland. A few weeks ago, Lou got to experience that with some very special friends. Roger Nielson (Spangdalem House Director), Marko Gittens (friend of ours) and Lou tackled three courses at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Roger really was instrumental in getting this trip off the ground. He found a nice bed & breakfast, worked the tee times and was able to get them on the "Old Course". For those of you who aren't golfers -- this is a really BIG deal.

The weather in Scotland can always been a little iffy. They enjoyed golf in cool, primarily sunny weather. But, they did have to dig out their rain gear for a few holes and when it rained -- it really rained!

We are truly blessed to have a good family, special friends and to be able to explore Europe while we are working with Cadence!

Missing family!

It's been a few weeks since my (Cathy) family has left. We enjoyed three weeks with them. The weather was absolutely amazing -- sunny & warm. The Spring time in Germany can be hit or miss. So, I'm thrilled that they experienced lots of unusual sunshine.

We did do some fun sightseeing and exploring. We nursed my mom's foot back to somewhat normal health. (Long story -- if you didn't hear, let me know and I'll fill you in). But, what was most significant and special to me is what I miss most about not living in the States. I truly miss our talks.

I am very fortunate to have a truly wonderful relationship with my parents -- frankly my entire family. I love the fact that my husband is treated like their son/brother not an "in-law". When I get caught up in my day-to-day routine here in Europe, I don't appreciate this truth. But, after spending those three weeks with them, I was reminded how much I truly miss my family.

Here are some fun memories from our time together. This picture is us exploring Worms, where Martin Luther stated his infamous "Here I stand, I can do nothing else."

We spent some time exploring Bastogne and learning more about the Battle of the Bulge. Here are the "band of sisters" [Aunt Penny, Aunt Mertie & my mom] checking out the actual foxholes that were used during this significant and very difficult battle.

One challenge we had was determining where we were exactly.
Sadly my father wasn't a navigator for the Air Force and I'm very directionally challenged. Because of these factors, it made for some fun and interesting days together.

I'm grateful that we had such a wonderful time with them and I can't wait to be reunited again. Looking forward to more special talks and memories!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What a way to start a week of vacation!

It has been an enjoyable week with my family, but it didn't start out that way. My parents (Cathy) - Chuck & Pudge Collins - along with my two aunts, Penny & Mertie arrived for a vacation in Germany. We were excited to show them some sights in Germany, as we continued to run our ministry. On Monday, we woke up to my dad washing the kitchen floor. When asked to explain why he was washing the kitchen floor, he stated "I'm cleaning up your mother's blood." What?!!?

As the story unfolded, we learned that Pudge fell down the stairs. She cut her foot and was extremely bruised. All this started around 4:00 a.m., I had arose at 6:15 a.m. It's amazing all the stuff that was going on while I was sleeping. We convinced my mom to go to ER, because we were pretty sure she needed stitches.

What I have learned is that it is true - It's much harder to watch someone you love go through pain that to go through the pain yourself. We were at Landstuhl - where most of our military personnel are cared for if wounded in combat - waiting to see the doctor. My mom was truly hoping that she would get a pass on the stitches.

Needless to say, the doctor agreed with the rest of the family. The hardest part was washing out the wound and getting the foot numb. It was really hard for me to see my mom so uncomfortable and in pain. Fortunately, she only brused up her legs and received five (5) stitches. We were grateful nothing was broken or fratured.

This little "trip" cost us a delayed start on our sight-seeing; but Pudge has been a trooper all week. She is a little slower than normal, but we have been enjoying many spiritual, historical and fun sights.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Favorite Night of the Week

We truly enjoy our Sunday nights! We host two different studies. On the first and third Sunday's of the month, we are studying The Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas. We have 8 couples that are involved in this study. On the second and fourth Sunday's of the month, we are facilitating The Truth Project. We have about 20 folks involved in this study.

What we love about our Sundays is that we have a great time of discussion and learning, followed by a yummy meal and then dessert and fellowship. We get to connect at a deeper level with the folks that attend these studies. We get to love on our kiddos more. We have so many little ones that have grabbed our hearts: Kaden & Noah, Adde & Micah, Meadow, DJ, Joy, Greta, and so many more.

The folks that participate get more opportunity to get to know one another and develop some strong Christian friendships. Plus we have fun!

It is amazing the type of conversations that happen over a game of Rummy Kube, Hearts, or Telephone Pictionary. Where else can you go from having a discussion about Intelligent Design and then enjoy a game of Spoons? Only at the Rozmiarek's on Sunday nights!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cadence Family

Once a year, the Cadence Adult ministries gets together for a Staff conference. All of the European House Directors and Womens Ministry Personnel spend time hanging out, studying God's word, and relaxing.

The format is usually the same...we travel on Monday, start our first session on Monday night. We have sessions every morning and evening, with the afternoons open for rest and spending time together. We head back to reality on Friday. Sounds kind of mundane, doesn't it?!

But it is so much more than that! It is amazing to us how many quality people we work with side-by-side. Men & women of integrity and they possess a deep love for our military. At times, we are surprised that we are part of this team -- the people of Cadence are Godly folks and sometimes we feel that we have so much to learn! We are grateful that our leadership team and peers are very patient with us! :-)

The conference is a very special time for us. No one else - besides another Cadence worker - understands the crazy schedule, the demands of ministry, the sacrifice of our families. It's great to get ideas from one another. It's nice to play together and have time with our Cadence colleagues. It is a wonderful reminder that what we do for a living is fulfilling, and challenging; but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pink Eye...what has it taught me?

I woke up on Friday morning feeling like I had fallen asleep with my contacts still in my eyes, especially in my right eye. When I discovered that my contacts were indeed in their case, I thought that maybe I had scratched my eye somehow. I spent the rest of the day dealing with a watering eye and it becoming very sensitive to light.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I discovered I couldn't open my right eye. It was swollen shut. Lou suggested that I call the doctor. As you know we live in Germany now and things are much different here. I said "It's Saturday, there is no way the doctor is going to be in." Well, we called and Dr. Schmith himself answered the phone. I told him what was going on and he said to come on in the office. [It turns out he lives right about his office so he had a short commute.] He determined that I have pink eye. Gave me some drops, told me to rest and that it would take 3-5 days to get over.

I have discovered I'm quite a wimp when it comes to my health. I have been so fortunate to have good health. When I get mildly sick, I become very wimpy and complain a lot. As I was dealing with the fact that I couldn't see well, I was reminded that this is a VERY temporary thing. A inconvience of maybe 5 days! I began to think about my friends and family who have had to deal with much worse health issues and their attitude has been a true inspiration.

We have a dear colleague who has been fighting brain cancer for over a year. Lou has a professor whose wife has struggled with chronic illness most of their marriage. Our daughter has rheumatoid arthritis and has since she was almost 2. Yet, she doesn't let it slow her down much. We have a nephew who has partial blindness in one of his eyes. He is nine years old and has been dealing with this all of his life; I have clouded vision for two days and I am nothing but a whining mess. I have been convicted by the fact that I am quite a weak vessel. A mild thing like pink eye and I found myself full of self-pity. What is wrong with me!

As I have reflected on my friends and family these past few days, I have prayed for them. God has reminded me that I have a blessed life. Yes, it's had its ups and downs, but I'm blessed. I know our Cadence friends have struggled with the whys of her cancer; but we have seen them be honest with their emotions, rely on God and I have learned much from them this past year. They have been a true inspiration to me and many others.

I am very thankful that God has given me good health. I soon will enter my 50's, I hope that He will continue to bless me with good health. More importantly, may He continue to work on my character. I know there will be other things that I will walk through as I continue this journey of life. I want to be able to handle whatever crosses my path with honest emotions, with grace and strength. I know within a few days I will be able to see out of my eye, but I hope that I will see the bigger picture of what God has in store for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Joyful Christmas Season!

We have made it through another holiday season. It was a great time. We had fun serving at the Miskolc Orphanage. The kids taught us Silent Night in Hungarian; we make ornaments and cookies; we decorated the tree and opened up gifts. For some of these kids, this was the first Christmas gift that they ever received!
We followed our trip with a busy Christmas weekend and we might add snowy! Unfortunately, we had so much snow and ice that our Christmas Eve service was cancelled. It's the first time since we have been married that we have not been able to worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve.

We spent Christmas morning with the singles in our ministry. Folks came over for pancakes & presents. We opened presents, ate pancakes & other yummy breakfast fixins! We watched - what we were told would soon to be a Christmas classic - Elf. [Yet we still think It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street are still the winners!]

We ended our day with a traditional Christmas dinner with about 60 folks. Turkey, ham and all the yummy sides and desserts were available for people to enjoy.

We enjoyed a fun time with our Cadence colleagues. We had a party a few days after Christmas. We spent time playing games, eating some amazing food and enjoy the company. We had people from Cadence House ministries, along with Cadence Student ministires. Can you tell which people might be associated with youth? Needless to say, we had a great Christmas season! Despite Bailey's desire to nap after all of the activity; we feel blessed to have so many dear friends here in Germany!