Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cool Story, Interesting...

Taken from the words God gave me to speak at Josh's celebrations of life memorial services.

The first page of Josh’s baby book is titled “What’s In A Name?”  We believe names are very powerful in our family.  The page asks us to write the meaning of the baby’s name.  This is what I wrote January 19, 1995, the day Josh was born:  "Joshua, you have been named after God’s servant who succeeded Moses and led His people into the Promised Land.  Your birth was an answer to our prayers-God specifically created you to do his will.  We pray that you will follow Joshua’s example of obedience and courage."
When Josh was a year and a half old I wrote to him again in a personal journal I created to give him one day:  “God had a specific plan in mind when he chose to give you life!  How wonderful to know that you were so carefully created and then entrusted to your mom and me to raise.”
Even as a young boy, I always encouraged him to rise above his circumstances, to be tough, to practice determination.  I would say “remember son, you are a warrior in training.”

You can’t take much to boot camp.  A Bible, address book, and ten bucks for a haircut.  My wife was a little anxious as Josh's departure approached.  She prayed and asked God to give her a word to share with him.  God gave my wife a word for Josh, Joshua 1:9.  She underlined it in his Bible and wrote him a note.  He didn’t know about this.   

The day before we were to take him to the hotel for his last night in Charlotte we had a little excitement to deal with.  I would call it classic Josh.  He was playing a combination of rugby and basketball in the pool.  All of a sudden I hear him start yelling “dad, what do I do?”  I stuck my head out the door only to see he had dislocated his pinky finger, it was pointing straight out to the side.  He was so mad.  All he could think about is having his trip to Parris Island delayed.  I grabbed his hand firmly and just tried to calm him down some.  Then I believe God directed my hand to ease down his hand and his finger popped back into place.  He said it didn’t hurt but I told him to start icing it anyway.  He slept with his hand raised all night.  He got up early and started soaking it in salt water.  He was hurting some but he was determined to overcome.  I told him that warriors have be able to just pop their fingers back into place and keep fighting.  Where in the world did I get my dad license from anyway?”  But he did it. 

So off to boot camp he went.  I braced my wife for the possibility that he may not write very much.  He surprised me and wrote often, and quite well.  On August 13, Josh wrote a letter home.  It was our 25th wedding anniversary.  Halfway through the letter it said “Cool story, last Sunday something interesting happened.  So I’ve become good friends with the kid in the rack next to mine.  We were sitting together at church and he was reading a letter from his mom.  It said to look up and read a Bible verse, Joshua 1:9.  He didn’t have a Bible so I looked it up in mine and found your note you left in there tagging that verse from months ago.  I thought that was interesting.”

Donna found that quite interesting too and decided to buy both Josh and Brian dog tags with that verse inscribed as graduation gifts. A few weeks ago Josh was talking to Donna and he told her that January 19th was going to be his “Golden Birthday,”  turning 19 on the 19th.  He said that’s supposed to be the best year of your life.  

Brian, called when heard the news about Josh.  He said “Mrs. Islam, I am never taking my dog tag off that you gave me.”  The fact that Josh was about to turn 19 on the 19th along with the verse, Joshua 1:9, inspired us.  We immediately decided to rally around this Scripture.  We had a vision of our family joining us in wearing Joshua 1:9 dog tags to honor him.  So we started counting.  We have become part of quite a large family.  We dreamed of ordering 500.  So we called about bulk pricing.  Then we got to be part of another “cool story.”  The vendor was moved by our circumstances and offered to make the tags at his cost.  He rushed to make them and had them on our doorstep by noon the next day.  Interesting.

Another “cool story” was born at the beach Sunday, Josh’s birthday.  We went to the beach to release 19 “golden” balloons to honor the “golden” birthday boy.  Just after we released them Donna got a text from Jake’s mom.  Jake is his best friend from the baseball team.  He is a senior this year.  She was completely unaware of all the “cool stories” about Joshua 1:9 and the dog tags.  She told us about how she had ordered a painted canvas several weeks ago with her favorite Bible verse on it.  She got it to support a girl in her mission trip fundraising efforts and to put in Jake’s room to encourage him.  She was hanging it on Jake’s wall January 13.  The verse, Joshua 1:9.  We told her to go to the website we made for Josh,  I believe she found it “interesting.”

Still another “cool story” was brewing.  I came across Josh’s baby book in the garage while looking for his yearbook.  There is a place for a special scripture.  This is what I wrote to him the day he was born:

Joshua 1:7,8
Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Interesting…

I am completely convinced that these “cool stories” have a divine author.  He is the one who promised us through his prophet Jeremiah “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11, 13  These promises aren’t just for this life but also for the life to come.

Our family has a lot of "cool stories" to tell.  I believe many more are yet to be written.  

Encourage us by sharing "cool stories."  You can reach us through the foundation website we established to honor Josh:

Please write us and let us share your stories with others.  God's work in the lives of his people are so motivating.  The stories we have received already are amazing. 

Now, be inspired and do well.  We love you all.