Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rachel



Happy 28th Birthday Rachel!!!


R adiant

A uthentic

C heerful

H onest

E ncouraging

L oving

"Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes."
Psalm 119:135

[Thanks, Bethany for this post! Love ya!]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

Yesterday a volunteer told us about a conversation he had with an inmate. The inmate was sharing his passion for Jesus Christ and his personal salvation testimony. He'd surrendered his life to Lord while in prison and was grateful for His redeeming power in the midst of his circumstances.

"I've come to see that I wasn't arrested.
I was rescued."

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19:10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Chains are Gone...

...I've been set FREE!

This song has been playing in my head all week. The wonder of HIS amazing grace.

We're currently in the sunny, windy state of Alabama, just beginning the week of prison ministry with the We Care Program. We met with over 400 other volunteers for orientation on Sunday. The day was filled with challenging messages, stirring worship together, and hearing the testimonies of men who were once in prison -- captive both to sin and in the literal sense -- but are now free. It is exciting to see the radical and passionate life-changing power of the Gospel. We truly have a message of HOPE! This isn't an every-day, ordinary sort of power. The person of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, victory, and life more abundantly!

And as we go behind the prison bars, we see that life-changing power at work. We've experienced it in our own lives. We see it in the eyes of the few inmates who have found Christ in prison and are living radiant, God-honoring lives behind bars. We see it in the tear-filled faces of men and women weeping at the alter. Its that Amazing Grace! And may we never lose the awe of it -- or of the One who sacrificed so much to give it to us.

My chains are gone, I've been set free!
My God, my Savior ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy reigns --
Unending love, Amazing Grace!


"But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the Road Again

We're officially on the road and adapting back to bus life. Our goal for this trip is to somewhat maintain a family schedule with early rising and diligent school and practice. Thus far it's been a huge blessing to see how everyone is pitching together to make that happen!


Last night we had a priceless moment at our concert in Cleveland, Tennessee. During that afternoon Charissa came down with the stomach flu. We felt so bad for her, trying to relieve her stomach while driving through the winding mountain roads.


After setting up sound equipment at the church, I asked Charissa if she felt well enough to sing with us. “Maybe another time” she whispered, still feverish. We figured out a way to work our music so Mom could spend the evening in the bus with her. Even as we prayed for the service together, she was sick.


We started the service -- and without Josiah, Bethany, Andrew, and now Mom and Charissa, we seemed like such a small family! Suddenly, right in the middle of sharing “Daddy’s Song”, I noticed Mom bringing Charissa into the back of the sanctuary, dressed in her matching dress. Mom whispered something and then Charissa took off down the long aisle, arms outstretched towards Daddy. Her face was pale, but glowing as she climbed the steps to the platform and ran into Daddy’s arms. She arrived just in time to be swopped up and sing her part of the song -- “And I your little girl”.


It was one of those moments where we all suddenly had to struggle to keep singing. Her little gesture was so precious as we all knew the effort she was making.


We later discovered that while Mom was caring for her in the bus, she mentioned we were probably getting ready to sing “Daddy’s Song”. Charissa suddenly perked up and said, “Daddy needs me!!” Then, after she shared her song, Mommy took her back to the bus and she promptly got sick again.


The little trouper. [smile]


Today we head south to Alabama in preparation for sharing in several state prisons this coming week through the We Care Ministry. We covet your prayers for each of the evening services as we go behind bars to share the message of Hope.



"Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Romans 15:5-6

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Preparations...

The view outside our window

Today our home is filled with activity:

  • Dad and Andrew just came in from changing oil on the bus -- and heartily covered with the evidence!
  • Ruth is helping Alaythia finish her sewing project. She has been eagerly learning how to sew and recently cut out matching jumpers for herself and Charissa. Aside from zippers and hems, she's completed the projects herself with little help. She's very self-motivated...yes, like Bethany. [smile]
  • Elizabeth has been heading up much of the kitchen preparations today with chicken cooked and frozen, burritos made, and granola baked. Our 'staples' for the bus kitchen.
  • Matthias and Stephen have been practicing music and packing the bus.
  • Hannah is now in the kitchen baking cookies for a friend -- and a few extra for us, too.
  • Susanna and Nathanael have been helping on all fronts and Charissa is taking the action in stride.
  • Mom is overseeing the variety of action and activity while catching up on "thank you notes"
  • Oh, and I'm giving pre-trip haircuts and catching up on everything that needs attention while we still have internet...including -- blogging!

Yes, the signs are everywhere -- we're getting very close to departure. Tomorrow afternoon to be exact. We've had a good couple weeks at home. Time to slow down a bit. Time to seek the Lord for His vision for the coming year. Time to work on those projects that are nearly impossible in the bus. [We have yet to develop a good system for sewing or baking in those crowded quarters!]

As we shared fellowship with our church family on Sunday, we were once again encouraged and challenged with the mission ahead. Pastor shared from Phil. 1:6 --

"Being confident of this very thing,
that He who has begun a good work
in you will complete is until the day of Jesus Christ."

We go in confidence. Not our own -- far from it! We're actually feeling very weak at the moment. Andrew will not be making this trip with us due to his desire to prepare for his own home someday, so musically we're feeling inadequate.

But we go in confidence of HIS faithfulness. Recognizing our need. Requesting prayer. But thanking the Lord for what He will do! We look forward to sharing more in the coming days.

Winter smiles!


"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
...that you stand fast in one spirit,
with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Phil 1:27

One Month Anniversary!


I know we have many mutual blog readers with Bethany's Blog, but just in case you haven't visited her site for awhile, I encourage you to pop over there. This morning Bethany posted such a sweet post detailing their precious wedding day. Isn't it amazing how the mere mention of certain dates brings a smile to your face!? December 19th is certainly one of those dates.

Happy one-month anniversary you two!

God is so good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yogurt Making

Over the past year I had a few questions about how we make our yogurt. Our family can easily consume 6 gallons every week [yes, we LOVE fresh yogurt!], so finding a good, easy recipe quickly became an essential quest in our kitchen!

So here's how it works...

[Recipe for 2 gallons of yogurt]

Add two gallons of milk to a large stockpot. You may use whole, 2% or skimmed milk. Heat the milk slowly over a medium heat (not so hot that it burns on the bottom). It may need stirred a couple times depending on the quality of the stockpot. Heat milk until the temperature is 180*F. It is not necessary to boil the milk.

Note: Use a sturdy, heavy stockpot to heat the milk. It will avoid scorching the milk. We are so thankful for the high-quality stainless steel cookware Daddy got for our kitchen many years ago! Thank you Daddy!

A double-boiler can also be used to heat the milk, if a stockpot is thin.



When the milk reaches 180*F, turn the heat off and let the milk cool to 110*F. Putting the stockpot into a sink of cold water will quicken this step. Otherwise, this is a good opportunity to move on to other projects for a bit!

When milk has cooled to 110*F, add 1 six ounce cup of Yoplait yogurt. Any flavor can be used, because it doesn't flavor the entire two gallons very much.

With a wire whisk, beat the milk & yogurt starter for a minute. It is important for the starter to get completely dissolved into the milk. The milk mixed with yogurt starter is now called inoculated milk.

Once thoroughly mixed, pour the inoculated milk into the desired jars. Fill to the neck of the jar. We use gallon jars - however, for the smaller family - half gallon or quart jars are much easier to manage and work just as well!

Put lids on tightly and place jars into a cooler. It is helpful if the jars fit snugly into the cooler - it all stays warmer and turns to yogurt faster. Warm water [110*f] can also be added to help stabilize the temperature.

Place the lid on cooler and set in a warm place for 3-4 hours. The yogurt is done when it has jelled. This can be easily checked by gently tipping the jar to see if it is milky or firm. If the milk has not become firm in 4 hours, the cooler may not be quite warm enough and it will just need a few more hours. When it is jelled, place in the fridge overnight to completely cool down and set.

Top with fruit and enjoy!

Yogurt has become such a yummy, healthy part of our diet and we've discovered literally dozens of ways to creatively incorporate it into our meals and snacks. The benefits and uses of yogurt could be a whole additional post in itself! [smile]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So true...

Life has been an adjustment without our vivacious Bethany! While she's busy setting up homemaking in her little Virginia apartment, we think of her and Dan often. God was so wise and loving as He designed the family with such precious relationships. Oh, what treasure!

And today is Bethany's blog birthday -- so head on over and say hello!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Website!

Over the past several years we've been so grateful for our dear friend, Mindy and the many ways she's blessed us with her html/design skills. I'm sure she's spent countless hours updating our website! Now she's delighting in a lively home with three young children, so computer time is at a premium!

Thus, we're embarking on the adventure of web design ourselves! The past few months I've been working on a new design and trying to get all the details pulled together -- and now at last it's finished! Hurray! So pop on over to visit our new family site. We'd love your feedback!


"The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him."
Psalm 28:7

Thursday, January 07, 2010

2009 in Review

A few of you have recently requested a 'guest post' from Dad or Mom. As 2009 held a few major changes for our family that I never blogged about, Dad wrote short article sharing some of these details. This week is our family's yearly "Seek the Lord" week, so in light of this new season of life and ministry, we do covet your prayers!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8


Early in my Christian walk this verse in Proverbs became very special to me as I remember this being a new thought. I was not to base my life on my “own” understanding but rather acknowledging Him, which I believe involves recognizing His Lordship. Now this truly results in a walk of faith… especially when your human reason is telling you one thing and God’s Spirit through His Word is telling you another!


This past year has once again been one of these experiences. Many of you are aware that over the years of our family traveling, I have also had a sandblasting and painting business that I have tried to keep going… many times from a distance. This last winter was especially difficult as we were gone from September of ’07 through March of ’08, only being home 3-4 weeks through that time frame. As we got home in March I could see the business had really suffered from lack of attention and I started seeking the Lord concerning all this. At that point, the Lord gave me Jeremiah 33:3 as a call to seek Him. It states:


‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’


As I pursued the directive stated in this verse, to “Call upon Him,” a few days later in my devotional time, God kept drawing my attention to Luke 12:33 which states:


Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.


That following weekend Gloria, I and some of the children went out to South Carolina to visit Andrew. Saturday night as we were preparing for a nights rest, I shared these verses with Gloria. I wasn't sure what they all meant for us, or what God’s time table would be for closing our business of 23 years. We went to the Sunday evening service with Andrew that evening and after the worship time the pastor turned on the overhead to Luke chapter 12! He then stated that verse 33 would be his theme verse for the message that evening. Now that got our attention. Let me state that while I believe it can be dangerous and misleading to be led by circumstances, I do believe that God confirms what He has spoken to our hearts through His Word by directing “circumstances”.


We returned home from that trip and over the next couple of weeks, due to circumstances out of our control, we proceeded to “lose” about 3/4th of the contracts that we had lined up for the summer. At that point my salesman walked into my office and stated, “All I can say is that God is in this… there is no explanation for what has happened except God is supernaturally directing in all this!” I agreed. We then left to be a part of a couple different camp/revival meetings in North Dakota and Montana. The first night at the camp meetings in North Dakota, the speaker preached on the rich young ruler in Luke 18, where Jesus instructed to, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Then, when we went to the revival meetings in Montana, we heard the message on the man who found the pearl of great price who, “went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Have you ever felt like God was using a speaker to speak specifically to you!?


As we returned home, we made the commitment to have an auction and close the business. To be honest, we had very little work scheduled on the books at that point anyway… it seemed the Lord had made our future direction with the business very clear. This season of life was done and it was time to move on. On August 26 we auctioned the equipment off through an internet auction company. The economy as it is, I was very concerned about how the equipment would sell, but the Lord was very gracious and gave us a good sale which was very helpful to cover some of the financial losses we'd encountered last winter.


So now what?… That seems like an appropriate question at this point. We are presently seeking the Lord concerning that very question! Many assume this will mean a greater amount of time on the road -- which might be true to an extent, but we are currently spending at least two-thirds of our time out on the road. We also feel we need to have a certain amount of time for “normal” home life to maintain this type of itinerant ministry on long term basis. At this point, my goal is to simply deepen our walk and message. Our desire is to be more effective with our time when we are out on the road. I have an ever increasing burden for families and we’ll see if God would open more doors for opportunities along those lines. I want you to know that we greatly appreciate your prayers on our behalf and to let you know we daily see the fruit of those prayers.


May God Richly continue to bless each of you!


Loren


You guessed it!


We're home in Nebraska! And just in time for another big blizzard. Its a good thing we have lots of scarves, mittens and hot chocolate on hand! [smile]

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

There's no place like home...

...except Grandpa and Grandma's!

With our final weeks in Branson behind us, we headed the bus north -- but instead of stopping in Nebraska, we turned to Iowa for a much-belated Christmas celebration with Mom's side of the family. Even though it was past Christmas, they kept the Christmas tree lit, baked fresh Christmas goodies, and we all had a jolly good time!


Bethany and Grandpa have always been our 'puzzle-fanatics', choosing a new, large puzzle to conquer every Christmas season. But with Bethany setting up her new home in Virginia, we all suddenly decided to tackle a puzzle to carry on their tradition. In fact, with so many people working at it, we actually completed three!!

Yes, we all pitched in on this one and got it done in lightning-speed time!

Smiles!

And we also shared our final Christmas service. What a joyous season this has been! And a good reminder that those 'tidings of GREAT joy' are meant for more than just the snowy glow of the Christmas season. Rather, it is the hope we rejoice in for 2010. The strength that fills our hearts each day as we pursue that Savior, Christ the Lord!


Our little song-bird [smile]

And after a great weekend, we're back in the bus again -- and guess where we're headed!!?!


"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
Ch 16:31

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Laundry Lady

With Bethany shouldering our mountains of laundry for the past several years, we've been asked who will be her replacement. While we've been taking turns, it looks like we have a little laundry lady in training. Never fear, Bethany -- you've trained her well -- Charissa is being a great helper! [smile]

Loading the quarters at our Branson laundromat

Loading the dryers...

...and trying to unload!