Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rachel


Rachel Anna

“ewe” :: “gracious”

One who lays down her own desires to bring comfort and joy to those around her.

“Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness,
with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”
Ephesians 4:1-2

Happy 27th Birthday Rachel!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Behind Prison Bars


Thousands of yards of razor-wire stretch before us. Concrete buildings. Officers. We pull our bus to a stop and step out to unload our sound equipment. Each prison facility is a new experience, with unique challenges, battles, victories.

Going through security can be tedious, but we're so grateful for many patient officers who go the extra mile to allow a group our size to enter the institution. They check everyone individually, looking in the nooks and craneys of our equipment.

Walking through the courtyards its often perfectly quiet, as if to deny the fact that hundreds of men or women spend years of their life here. We smile at each other, silently praying for the evening ahead...


It's hard to believe the week of We Care Crusades are half over already. Last night we were encouraged as we entered the facility and discovered a couple officers working there were also believers! The service was held in the visitation room, where seats for around 240 were arranged in the room. How exciting it was to see the volunteers scrambling to set up more chairs as over 280 men walked through the door!

Singing in front of a crowd such as that is quite an experience. Regulations don't allow photography, so we'll have to surfice by trying to explain. As we sing, we notice a wide variety of responses...

Faces aglow with joy and excitement, it's usually fairly obvious the ones who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus -- they never stop smiling and often jump in with a hearty "Amen!" or "Hallelujah!" In the midst of trying circumstances, how can one explain such joy aside from Jesus Christ?!

Others appear to be sceptical, sullen, or deeply hurting.

How precious it is to know that these are not a mere sea of faces. God knows each one, He loves each one.....and extends the offer of fellowship and restoration to any who would recieve.

What an amazing God we serve!

Thank you all for your prayers this week -- we've really sensed a sweetness of the Lord's Spirit at work in each of the services. Many men have responded to the salvation invitation, with believers also coming for specific prayer needs. Praise the Lord for the victory that is found in Him!


"Thine, O LORD, is the greatness,
and the power, and the glory,
and the victory, and the majesty:
for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine;
Thine is the kingdom, O LORD,
and Thou art exalted as Head above all."
2 Chron 29:11

Monday, January 26, 2009

We Care

There are an estimated 10,000,000+ men, women, and juveniles incarcerated in U.S. prisons or on parole. With a current prison return rate at 70%, this reveals a staggering sum of hopeless, hurting, sin-shackled people within our own country.

Through God's Word, we know that "the Truth" is our only hope for true freedom, and only through Jesus Christ is there power over sin. It is exciting, then, to discover that many Christian ministries are having a real impact within prison walls. Many experiencing an 85% success rate. We Care, is one such ministry....



After packing the bus and driving through a snowy Midwest, we arrived in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday afternoon. In preparation for the week of crusades, we were asked to share in an evening of music and testimony. It was a precious time as we readied our hearts for the upcoming days and worshiped together.

Being the 31st annual crusade, the ministry of We Care has made "Greater Things" their vision and passion for the coming year. Seeking the Lord in prayer for greater victory, deeper love, and more effective sharing of the timeless Gospel.

How easy it is to rejoice in past 'successes' -- and how tempting to grow complacent and loose the driving passion to live God's will to the fullest in every day. How sad that our flesh is too easily content with the religious routine.

And yet God calls us to higher things, and we are praying for His empowering in a mighty way this week. Not only for our family, but for the 400+ volunteers and workers that will be going into the prisons this week.

A few specific prayer requests --
  • An openness and hunger in the hearts of the inmates.
  • A total reliance on the Lord's wisdom, grace, and strength -- not only for our family, but also for the 400+ volunteers who are also serving here this week.
  • Flexibility as we'll be giving a service without our younger children (under 18).
  • Fruit! Pray earnestly both for our brethren behind bars to be encouraged and for the unsaved to be drawn to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!

Thank you, in advance, and we'll look forward to keeping you posted in the coming days!


"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me,
the works that I do he will do also;
and greater works than these he will do,
because I go to My Father."
John 14:12

Friday, January 23, 2009

Heading Out

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

[Our church family 'sending us out']

Our home is a flurry of activity this morning. The guys are preparing the bus, loading box after box of food, CDs, and other items, while the girls are ironing clothes, packing necessary items, and working on the last minute cleaning.

Yes, it's that time again -- heading out. By this time on Sunday we'll be starting our first prison crusade with the We Care ministry, with many other services and opportunities to follow in the coming weeks.

We leave home, knowing that it is far beyond our abilities to bless, encourage, convict, and challenge the hearts of those the Lord puts across our paths. We are again reminded that without HIM, "we can do nothing". [John 15:5]

However, we serve the ONE Who has begotten us to a Living Hope. And it is HE Who goes before us. It is HE who does the work! Thank you in advance to each of you faithful readers who uphold our family before the Throne as we embark on the adventures ahead. We'll look forward to keeping you updated!


"I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
for without Me you can do nothing."
--Jesus John 15:5

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grandparent Joys

This week we had the special delight of a visit from our grandparents! Mom's parents live in northeast Iowa, so our time with them is always a treasured occasion. They haven't visited since we've moved to our Milford home, so we enjoyed the opportunity to show them our new surroundings.

Smiles!

We truly thank the Lord for each of our grandparents and the godly, hard-working, joyful heritage they have given us!


We love you BIGGER, Grandpa and Grandma!


"That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,

That they may set their hope in God."
Psalm 78:6-7

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rejoicing


Oh, the joy of home days!

Having Josiah and Abi close enough to visit often... watching glorious sunrises through our picture window...teaching school around our dining room table...listening to the piano being played...taking walks on our gravel road...pulling out the sewing machine for various projects...these are just a few events from the past days.

We have so much to be thankful for! Have you rejoiced in the Lord's goodness today?!



You shall rejoice before the LORD your God,
you and your son and your daughter...
at the place where the LORD your God chooses
to make His name abide."
Deut 16:11

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Purpose...

"Don't waste your life trying to look good.
Spend your life making God look good."
--John Piper


I've been pondering this quote lately. A life built on self-glorification is a life wasted. A heart bent on personal advancement is missing the whole point. Wasted.

But to make Jesus known in every area of our lives...this is glory! Can people see HIS fingerprints in my life? My conversations? My home? My attitudes?

:: :: :: :: :: :: ::


"Thus says the LORD:
"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD,
exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight."
says the LORD."

Jer 9:23&24

Shopping Day


With just over a week left at home before heading south, we've been treasuring each 'home day' during January. Time to unpack the last of our moving boxes, develop a consistent school routine, fellowship with our church family, familiarize ourselves with the new local library, and...well, you get the picture!!!

AND -- as Dad declared last week -- its time once again to head for the stores in search of new outfits for the coming trip. Always an adventure to find coordinating clothes for our lively array of sizes, we called in re-enforcements (hurray for our dear sis-in-love!) and headed out yesterday morning with a prayer and high hopes!


Hmmmm....will this purple work?!

Matching ties

And we returned with rejoicing -- doubling the amazing Christmas sales with fun new colors, we praise the Lord for a successful day!

"The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song [shall be] with me--
A prayer to the God of my life."
Psalm 42:8

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Weekend Hospitality

With the brisk, winter temperatures freezing our Nebraska landscapes, we just finished a weekend full of warm fellowship and lively fun.

Some of Andrew's missionary buddies from Ukraine joined us for a couple days and rolled up their sleeves to work and play alongside us. [Thanks, guys!!] Between the lively recounting of mission field memories and the ever-energetic conversations, our home was ringing with laughter and activity all weekend!


With thanks to our uncles and a recent deer/truck collision, we had four deer to butcher on Saturday. It was great to have all the extra help!

[Homeschool moment -- "Now children, notice the bone structure here...."]

Scrubbing clean in the icy outdoors. Brrrr!

Our cutting crew -- so fun to have Abi join us!

The guys did our grinding for us.

And the packaging -- sausage, deer-burgers, and canned venison.
It's wonderful to have so much nice, fresh meat!

Sunday afternoon we braved the cold weather for some ultimate football.

"Catch!!"

And the perfect way to conclude the frigid outdoor sports -- fresh donuts and hot chocolate! Mmmmmmm!

The donut-eating crew!

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another"
1 John 1:7a

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!


2008 has come to a close, bringing with it the promise of new growth, joys, trials, and challenges in the new year! But always with the reminder that HIS mercies fail not, but are "new every morning." (Lam 3:22-23)

As we reflect on the amazing hand of the Lord in 2008, we turn to look ahead, rejoicing in His great faithfulness.

Our family shared a final Christmas concert in Hiawatha, KS to close out the year on New Year's Eve. After the momentous task of preparing the holiday program, and preforming it dozens of times in the past months, we treasured every moment of this last concert! What JOY we have to celebrate in the birth of our Savior!


And now we look ahead to the coming months. I am currently working to finalize our schedule for our upcoming trip in February. We'll be in the following states during this six week trip -- AL, TN, GA, NC, SC, & FL. We still have some spots open, so if you see we'll be traveling through your area, please contact us. Stay tuned for our 2009 schedule to be posted soon!

With many thanks, again, to everyone who kept our Branson outreach in prayer, we are excited to announce that plans are underway to return in 2009. Many bus tour companies plan their schedules a year in advance, so we are currently working to prepare materials and a new website to spread the word. Stay tuned... [smile]

And now we're home! Ready to get settled in for a few weeks, enjoy baking fresh bread and goodies, unpack a few moving boxes that still linger in our office area, and just enjoy the fun of being HOME!
And maybe -- just maybe -- I'll get this site updated a little more often since we have access to the Internet! [smile]


"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make you complete
in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen."
Hebrews 13:20-21