Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Love ya' Sis!


Happy Birthday Rachel!!

You have been such a blessing to our family, and esecially to me personally. You are such a wonderful big sister -- as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to grow up and be 'just like you' and I tried to watch you to copy everything you did. As a little girl, I remember you doing my hair and picking up after me. Then as we both grew, we had piano lessons, tea parties and mud 'fights' together. Now that we are both considered young ladies, I treasure the times we have to talk, share and learn from each other - especially at night when the four of us girls all pile on your bed! I think sisters are the best-est!

I pray that you have a wonderful day filled with suprises and special blessings, and that this next year may be one filled with the joy that comes from walking with Jesus.


I love you!
Bethany

Happy Birthday!


Guess who has a birthday today?!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Buenos Dia Amigos!

Mexico -- the sights, sounds, and smells. What an experience we had today as we crossed the border for a few hours of living in another culture! Working with the language barrier was a first for many of us, and gave us a new appreciation for foreign missionaries. Here are a few pictures of our day:



We stopped to watch some workers harvesting in the fields -- and they surprised us with a couple fresh cabbages!

Standing on the Rio Grand River bridge at the American/Mexican line.


Trying out a new Spanish style.


"Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgements.
Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful,"
Psalm 119:137-138

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Night Before a Trip...

Fred -- who has so faithfully helped us through thick and thin, the hard and small.
Thank you Fred! (And Happy Birthday again! :)

Guess what folks? It is 6am, and the bus is almost ready to travel! We take off later this morning, and the night has been a very busy one. Needless to say, most of us older ones have been up all night finishing last minute details. The driver went to bed early (okay, so midnight isn't quite 'early!') and the rest of us have been plugging away at various last minute tasks. So if we look a little scary in the pictures, just remember that we've been up for 24+ hours!

Elizabeth scrubbing sawdust off the ceiling.

Ruth, Matthias and Stephen cutting the foam mattresses for our bunk beds. The foam just came in the mail today! PTL that it arrived in time!

Ruth and I making beds...

The 'boys' room!

But I guess I'd better go finish packing. Daddy wants to be leaving in another hour, so I'd better go tie up my loose ends and get ready to go. Thank you all so much for your prayers as we've worked on the bus, and also as we prepare to head out. It is such a blessing to know that there are people supporting us in prayer. God's blessings to you all!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bus Update


And the bus continues to make steps of progress. Many thanks to those of you who are keeping us in your prayers -- and to our local friends who have been so giving of their time to help. The countdown marches on as we have two more days until 'take-off'! Stay tuned for more photos......

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Home Projects


This past year we have enjoyed using our 'home time' to work on various projects that range from woodworking to making herb lip-balm. Having a wide range of creative interests in our family makes for rarely a dull moment -- and lots of excitement when a project is completed.

Thus, today was an exciting one for me. Last year -- after admiring my grandma's beautiful quilts -- I started a project of my own. And this afternoon I sewed the final seam finishing the quilt top! Working on it little by little over the past year has been a fun treat and I've learned alot:

First -- helping hands make the work go much faster (thank you, Elizabeth, for your ironing)!
Additionally -- it is amazing what can get done in little moments. This truth I am still struggling to learn: each day is made of little moments -- 15 minutes here and there. Big projects can be accompished by using those moments! After all, time is one of the greatest treasures we posses. As Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thought for the day.....




"Lord, that [my] eyes might be opened." (Matthew 20:33)

Opened to the truths in Your Word.
Opened to the areas where You want me to grow.
Opened to see how I can serve my family and others.
Opened that I might see You.


Bethany has enjoyed studying photography this past year, and we have been reaping the benefit of her endevours. Today she snapped these pictures while on a walk near our hometown. Captured moments of the simple things in life.

Only one life - will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Seeing Spots


God's timing is perfect. These couple weeks our family has been enjoying 'home time' -- time for projects (the bus), baking, sewing, story-times, and of all things......chicken pox! Yes, Alaythia has been 'blooming' with spots these past couple days. We haven't had the pox go through our house for several years, so we're all enjoying the 'new look' -- but glad to know it won't last long!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Home Sweet Bus....

A new week has begun -- and with it a new list of 'to-do's on the bus before our deadline next week. We are scheduled to leave for ministry in Texas on January 19th and there is much to be done between now and then! Thank you all for your prayers -- besides a few minor set-backs everything has been coming together very well. Especially our younger guys are enjoying the opportunity to learn and practice carpentry, electric wiring, plumbing, and various other handy skills. Lots of 'hands-on' education every day!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Faith and the Next Generation

Our family was recently challenged by this post from Doug Phillip's Blog. To read the entire article, please click on the link. Some very sobering thoughts about the day in which we live:


Wake Up! We ARE Losing the Next Generation
Observations and data from many different sources is proclaiming the fact that we are losing the next generation. Researcher George Barna believes that if current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, that in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today (Revolution by George Barna).

Dawson MacAlister, national youth ministry specialist, says that 90% of kids in active high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college (The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, Jossey-Bass). Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicate that currently we are losing 70-88% of our youth after their freshman year in college (T.C. Pinkney, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee, September 18, 2001).

Pinkney reported that 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation. See also the 2002 Southern Baptist Council on Family. Pinkney reported the 70% figure, while the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported that 88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18.

Thom Rainer, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched a survey that he hoped would tell him if people understood the gospel. He surveyed asking the following question: “Do you know for certain that if you die today, what would you say to God if He asked you why He should let you into His heaven?” The following percentages of people answered in a way that would indicate they were born again:

Those Who Understand the Gospel by Age Group
Born before 1946 --- 65%
Born between 1946 and 1964 --- 35%
Born between 1965 and 1976 --- 15%
Born between 1976 and 1994 --- 4%
(Source: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal.)

A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church, either never making a confession of faith or giving up on it.

Consider the Enormous Leverage of Fathers for Evangelism
The Baptist Press reported that if a child is the first person in the household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone in the household will follow. If the mother is first, there is a 17 percent chance everyone else in the household will follow. If the father is first, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the house will follow.

Pray for an Uprising of Men.
I believe that a recovery of biblical fatherhood is the greatest and most neglected evangelistic opportunity in the church today. It is not the only legitimate evangelistic opportunity, but it is the most neglected. Imagine an uprising of men who preach the gospel daily to their children.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

En-Progress....




And work continues on the bus as piece by piece it's coming together. Quite an exciting process to be a part of -- at least we have one experienced carpenter on the job (thanks, Fred)!

Roadkill, our bass guitar, and eternal perspective....

Deer season opened Sunday in Nebraska.
Unfortunately, our family got ours without firing a shot.
That's right.
Road-kill.

Actually, truth to be told, we didn't run into the deer -- the deer tried to run between the van and the trailer (not a large space when traveling at 55mph!). And so the deer sort-of hit us.

At first glance the damage didn't seem too great -- a large dent and broken support beam on the trailer.

But later that afternoon when we went to set up for our New Years Eve service, we discovered some additional damage. Josiah's bass guitar had been crushed and cracked in several places. It was still holding together, but our unprofessional opinion was that it's playing days were over. It was a very sorry sight.

This reminded us of an event in 2002 where this same guitar had all but fallen off the back of a flat-bed trailer. Thankfully it was rescued in time, but not without receiving a few minor scratches and dings -- small to our eyes, but very disappointing to Josiah who treasured his then-new instrument. Now as he stood looking at his cracked guitar he said, "I guess those scratches and dings aren‘t such a big deal anymore."

As is often the case, Dad used this example to share spiritual truth with us children. He shared with us how often this example is true in life:

Little bumps and bruises often come our way as situations and events arise into our lives which are unpleasant and often very difficult. These sometimes leave hurts and heartaches -- little 'scratches and dings' in the 'woodwork' of our lives.

But our guitar story helped us discover that there is hope and victory during those difficulties. For when it's all been said and done; when our days on earth are over and we face the magnitude of eternity -- what will really matter? In that moment of time -- the end of time -- I imagine that any struggle we faced in this world will be swallowed up with the sudden realization of the things that really matter in life. Where will I spend eternity? Where will my friends and family spend eternity? What did I do that will endure past my lifetime?

And we will see God's great purpose behind the struggles in this life. [Romans 8:28]

We heard a man share last year who has had many 'scratches and dings' in his life. Of his three children, two needed heart transplants, one of whom also developed a serious cancer which he continues to fight, and the other developed very difficult skin reactions to many household items, forcing them to drastically change their lifestyle.

He talked briefly about these struggles, but his final comment still rings in my memory: "I’ve heard people say that someday they want to ask God, 'why?' for many of the things He allowed to happen. I believe that instead, when I enter eternity and see it all from God's perspective, my first words will be, "Of course -- now I understand."

Of course. These were only minor scratches in the giant scheme of things, and all along our loving Father is using them to draw us to Himself. For, unlike the hapless initial scratches on the guitar, our every heartache and ‘bump’ along the road serves a purpose as He shapes and molds our lives to glorify His name.

And so, our family will soon be guitar shopping -- but in the mean time this little accident has brought a valuable lesson once again to our hearts.

This life is but for a moment. Eternity is forever.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas Snapshots

We thought you might enjoy a few pictures of our last couple Christmas services. May the spirit and wonder of the Greatest Gift -- Jesus -- continue in all our hearts into the new 2006!


"Angels We Have Heard on High"

Nathanael does his best to figure out Mom's dulcimer!


"I want Christ to be the Light that shines through me!"

A quiet and warm moment beside the community's fireplace.