Friday, February 29, 2008

Andrew

Happy 20th Birthday Andrew!

Finally, after four years you have another birthday of your own! [smile] We are so grateful that God sent you to our family, Andrew -- your wit and joyful attitude adds so much to our family. And now as you are a young man, we are so excited to watch the Lord's specific direction and provision in your life. (Note: We're looking forward to sharing some of these with you, our blog readers, soon!!)


May you continue to abide in Christ and His Word, thoroughly equipped for the good works that He has called you to! We love you bunches!!

"Now the God of peace...make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Hebrews 13:21


And a few of Andrews favorites --
  • store - Scheels
  • sports - football, Frisbee, bball, v-ball, weight-lifting, pretty much anything.
  • place to stay - Home
  • board game - Balderdash
  • vacation spot -Orlando
  • restaurant - Olive Garden
  • vegetable - corn
  • Bible character - David
  • Bible verse - Psalms 15

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Week in Review


Thank you for your prayers this week -- these past days have quickly flown with hardly a post for ya'll! (Can you tell we're in the south -- ya'll!?!?)

We were so encouraged by the weekend with Gospel Express, the prison ministry we work with in South Carolina. The fellowship with believers from across the nation, uplifting music, and exciting reports of what God is doing behind prison bars made for a memorable couple days. The Lord is at work in these times!

Since leaving Sarasota, we've been spending the week in Orlando with some good friends of ours. Here's a glimpse of some of our various adventures....

Getting our bus stuck in the Florida sand on Saturday night... until past midnight.

Spending our days getting caught up schoolwork -- and enjoying extra time with our friend, Kori.
Going "red-neck wake boarding"...

...and getting stuck for the second time in 24 hours!!?!

Visiting a nursing home, where a short visit turned into a 45 minute impromptu concert. It is such a joy to share with the elderly -- they love to hear the younger children sing.


And we had an hour of exploring the lakes around Orlando. While the breeze was chilly, several of us braved the water to try out an intense rope swing. Wheee!

Added to this are daily family devotions -- which we've been able to keep consistent on this trip, Praise the Lord!! -- piles of laundry, grocery shopping, music practice on a couple new songs, and seeking direction for the upcoming summer months.

It's been a full week -- but a good one, too. With less than three weeks remaining on this trip, we're praying for the Lord's empowering to finish strong -- relying on His strength and grace. For without HIM we are nothing.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope." 1 Peter 1:3

Grillin' in February

Our friends in the Midwest may need a double take on this post title but yes, we've been outdoor grillin' in February. And for a crowd of 900 hearty eaters!

This past weekend was the Gospel Express Benefit Auction in Sarasota, Florida. We were blessed to share through the evening service -- but also by pitching in with some of the 'behind the scenes' activities.

And watching Stephen help the crew grill 900 chicken halves was a highlight. I've never seen so much chicken in one place!!


They could cook 300 pieces at a time on this mammoth-sized grill.

Pouring the basting broth into the cooker.

Their unique basting brush.

Taking the chicken off the grill and into the waiting coolers.

Chicken, anyone?!?!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Josiah

Happy 23rd Birthday Josiah!

Although over 1000 miles separate us on your special day, we want to send our warmest birthday wishes your way! What a wonderful big brother you are!!! We are grateful for your example of service and dedication to God's Word. We miss you dearly!

Oh, and we want to take this opportunity, too, to share that Josiah is adjusting to bachlor life. This week he not only invited company over to our house -- but he cleaned, cooked supper, did dishes, and entertained them for the evening! Way to go, Josiah! [smile] But we're glad for you that you don't have to throw your own birthday party, too. I'm sure you'll have a special night and we'll be thinking of you!

Lots of love and hugs.....

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8



And because we were curious, too -- here are a few of Josiah's favorite things...
  • store - Cabela's
  • sports - Volleyball, Football, Basketball, and Ultimate Frisbee
  • place to stay - Wherever my family is
  • board game - I think you know this one, SEQUENCE!! Oh ya! you wanna play!?!
  • vacation spot - Wyoming/Montana, Silver Dollar City
  • restaurant - Seward's own "Cafe on the Square"
  • vegetable - snow peas
  • Bible character - Jesus, David, Joseph, Luke and Paul
  • Bible verse - Colossians 3:12-17

Friday, February 22, 2008

Library Gleanings

Yesterday after we set up our sound equipment in Jesup, Georgia I had a few moments to browse their library. I picked up a book by Harlan Popov, a man who spent 13 years tortured and imprisoned for his faith in Christ. I was challenged by his account of coming to salvation:


A committed atheist, he adamantly denied the existence of God. Until one day...

"...[my friend] invited a man to visit us. He read to us from his Bible. He was not an eloquent preacher but every word he uttered proved to me that God existed. He witnessed of how he knew of God's personal presence. When he told of what Christ meant to him, his face shone with the love of God. It was obvious to me at that moment that there was a God.

I saw Him in this godly man."



And so the question begs -- when the world looks at my life,
do they see Jesus alive in me?!

...Do they see Him in you?

"Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Outdoor Adventures

One of the challenges of road life is finding opportunities for our boys to get physical exercise and real 'work and sweat' things to do. This week here in South Carolina they have been elated by several opportunities. Besides getting to work with a local stone mason -- laying footings for a new home -- they also had the adventure of hunting for wild boar!

We discovered the unique challenge of wild boar hunting is bringing the game home alive. This involves lots of action and adventure as the pig routed out by a pack of dogs and has to be grabbed, tackled, and tied before carting it back to the truck.

Nathanael watches the two full-grown sows being released into the cage.



Going over the frenzied details of the 'catch'.

Boar hunting also includes several miles of intense hiking through fields, brambles and streams. So yesterday our guys returned triumphant -- as well as tired and dirty! [smile]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carolina Hills

Last night we turned the bus towards the Carolina hills and made our way through some dense forest and winding roads. Our destination was Fair Play Wilderness Camp -- a ministry working with troubled boys through lots of hands-on outdoor adventures, a loving family atmosphere, and godly men to teach and train in the ways of the Lord.

We went preparing to give, but drove away feeling our cups spilling over. The boys enthusiastically opened the evening by singing us a song -- "This Old House." The rafters rang as their voices filled the room. Then they sat in rapt attention as we picked up our instruments and began.

Dad shared a short object lesson using our various instruments. Using Scripture, he talked about just as each instrument needs to be in tune with itself, so we individually need to be 'in tune' with our Creator -- living to honor Him. As an illustration, they loved hearing each of the instruments played separately, eagerly guessing the names of each one.

Then he shared that in addition to being 'in tune' to the Lord, we are also the body of Christ, corporately-- and each one is needed to fulfill the mission, working in unity. Things don't work well if we all do our own thing, as our ear-throbbing musical "song" illustrated. *cringe!*

It's as we share the love of Christ and work together that HE is most glorified!

What a special evening!


"...Christ --from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:16

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What I Love...

...about family life --

:: smiles ::

:: teamwork ::

:: laughter ::

:: kindness ::

:: hugs ::

:: energy ::

:: kisses ::

:: discovery ::

:: time with eachother ::


"How good and how pleasant it is
when brethren dwell in unity."
Psalm 133:1

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Upheld


Sitting here enjoying the South Carolinian sunshine, I have reason to reflect on the words of a song Dad led us in singing this morning --

"I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart..."

While it has been a full week for our family, it has also been a very good week. We've arrived and settled into what has almost become our second 'southern home' near Abbeville. After making Gospel Express Prison Crusades an annual event for the past four years, it is good to see many familiar faces again and catch up with friends in the area.

In addition to this, our grandparents from Iowa have joined us for the week -- as well as a group of men from our home church. The men have been serving as volunteers in the Trenton SC prison and will continue until tomorrow morning. Please keep them in your prayers as there are over 500 men in the facility with limited time to minister to them before the crusade is over.

On Thursday we shared an evening service in the prison where they (our friends from home) are serving. There was a large group of men in attendance but we could sense spiritual warfare from the start -- the inmates were more distant and cynical than many facilities we've visited. While singing, we prayed for the Lord's Spirit to break down the barriers. God used 'Fret Not' to break the ice and turn their hearts -- and by the time the message of the gospel was shared, they were in rapt attention. Praise the Lord! Several responded to the salvation call as many more came forward for special prayer. We left with hearts filled with rejoicing!

Please continue to pray for the men and women in South Carolina prisons. Tomorrow morning concludes the week of crusades and our immediate opportunity to share with them the love of Christ.

We also were overwhelmed this week -- in a GOOD way -- as we were sent a precious care package from our home church. A huge THANK YOU to our dear friends at Millard Alliance!!! Opening it together was like receiving a warm hug from each of you and we daily thank the Lord for your love and support. We miss you!


"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;
for He is faithful that promised
And let us consider one another
to provoke unto love and to good works."
Hebrews 10:23-24

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A year ago today...

...we were standing in a soggy interstate-side ditch. Marveling at the Lord's indiscribable mercies and protection. As we reflect back once again, our hearts flood with gratefulness. Praise HIS wonderous name!

"...and let those who love Your salvation say continually,

"Let God be magnified!"

Psalm 70:4

Ordinary Days

I'm going to make an assumption. Assuming that you are interested in a glimpse of ordinary days. Those happenings that aren't exactly earth-shattering or life changing, but it is the stuff that trips are often made of.

Namely, this week we have had many adventures...
  • Folding, stamping and labeling our 1,500 newsletters in a small hotel room.
  • Fixing our broken sound board.
  • Spending an afternoon parked at a Home Depot to work on various bus repairs.
  • Making three gallons of granola and 4 gallons of yogurt.
  • Scrubbing up a crock-pot full of beef stew from our new carpet (caution to the kitchen crew while traveling through the South Carolina hills)!
  • Trying to get our clothes clean in a laundrymat with cigarette smoke hanging heavy in the air.

And chool, meals, and family devotions, which are always a steady constant.

We also keep up an additional search -- looking for ways to get fresh air and exercise. This is usually a challenge with an irregular schedule and unfamiliar surroundings. With a surprise birthday gift from Dad and Mom, we've discovered a new favorite form of exercise -- tennis! Now if we could just figure out how to aim that ball!! [smile]





Hopefully we'll have more 'ordinary day' photos to post soon.... stay tuned!


"From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same,
the name of the Lord shall be praised!"
Psalm 113:3

Saturday, February 02, 2008

With Him

This morning I was struck by a verse we read in family devotions --

"And when they had come to Jerusalem...they reported all things that God had done with them." Acts 15:4

Not what He had done for them, but with them. Walking in a relationship together. What a glorious thing it is to labor for the Gospel of Christ -- knowing it is His Spirit that gives the empowering and blessing to our empty vessels. He walks with us.

Such is the testimony of our week sharing in the prisons with We Care. We saw so many precious answers to prayer --most especially when we felt empty and inadequate.

The first two nights we were able to take all the children in with us, excepting Charissa. Especially at the women's prison the younger children seemed to have a big impact. The inmates were very attentive and hungry for the love of Christ and we had a few responses to the salvation message each night.



Then Wednesday came and we were told only those 18 and older could enter the prison. This stretches us tremendously as we greatly rely on Matthias and Stephen for most of our songs.

That afternoon the ministry leader decided to appeal the decision to the warden. Would he perhaps let a 14 and 16 year old join our team? As we arrived and started to set up the equipment, we still hadn't heard the verdict. The boys were dressed and ready to go sitting in the bus. Waiting...praying!

Only ten minutes before our service was to begin, the visitation doors opened and our guys walked into the room! You can imagine our claps and cheers. [smile] But we weren't the only ones rejoicing that night -- less than two hours later, the angels were singing in heaven as a couple more men came forward to surrender their lives to Christ. The Lord was truly with us!



Then came the final night -- and greatest challenge. Only those over 18 were welcomed and we felt very inadequate to the task. We had a short time beforehand to practice adjusting the instrumentation and vocals to our new 'group'. Finally we decided we'd better just stop and pray!!! Honestly, it's moments like that when we gratefully remember so many of you who support us with your prayers. It's really not about us, anyway!

And we shouldn't be surprised when God's strength is more than adequate for our weaknesses! The Spirit of the Lord filled the room in such a sweet way -- and though we noticed a few missing notes in the music, His grace overshadowed. At the invitation around nine men came forward to make first-time commitments to Christ and over a dozen re-committed their lives to Him.


We walked away from the prison bars that evening rejoicing that HE was indeed with us. That He chose to use us. And that He again gave us a tiny glimpse of His AMAZING GRACE!

Note: Photos taken during last night's concert in Boaz, Alabama. Prisons do not allow photos....nor do they have such nice facilities!