Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dan


Happy Birthday Dan!

Personal highlights from the past year

- Becoming a Dad
- Passing the California bar
- Finishing law school
- Getting a job as an attorney


"Trust in the Lord with all you heart 
and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
 and He will direct your paths." 
Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our Love Story



Where does a person begin to write a love story that seems built on so many vivid, real events of earlier years?! Although Alan and I only met nine months ago, it is incredible to look back on the many, many ways the Lord used situations in my life to prepare me for the joy of falling in love with Alan -- long before I knew he existed.
It has been a full, active, unforgettable adventure, this season called the ‘single years’. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I have had to pour my life into my family, music, and a variety of projects. Yes, there were times when I would earnestly desire the special privilege and joy of marriage. It is a high and worthy calling! But as we begin to share our love story, I want to write a word of encouragement to you single friends:
A life poured out for Jesus is a life of no regrets. 
And honestly, looking back, the only regrets I have were times when I doubted that reality in my life. On many occasions I would remind myself of the quote by Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Even today I desire more of that passionate urgency to treasure and make the most of each season of life! 

Alan and I hope that our story will be a personal encouragment to you. Not simply because we're getting married later in life than the average person. But because we serve an all-caring, all-knowing Lord. He is the God of the impossible and the Author of the very best and beautiful love stories. 

[Alan's story will be writen in plain text, mine in italics]







Alan: Growing up I always assumed I would be like most guys and be married by my early twenties.  As I finished college and began my career, finding a wife was more complicated than I had anticipated.  Either they weren't attracted to me or I wasn't attracted to them or neither of us were attracted to the other.

As time moved on I began to sense a growing restlessness and frustration inside. I began to wonder why it had to be so complicated for me when it went so smooth and easy for so many of my friends.  Eventually I realized that my frustration was a result of not trusting God's power and perfect love for me, so I decided to memorize certain verses that spoke of God's acute awareness and interest in every detail of my life.
I came across Romans 4:20,21 where the example is given of Abraham who in light of impossible circumstances believed what God had said, and the reason for his belief was rooted in who God was.   I also memorized I John 5:14,15 which helped me realize that anything I ask that is according to His will I can be completely confident that He will answer it in the best way for me whether it makes sense to me or not.

Through these truths and others that I found, I concluded that God loves me more than anyone else in the world ever could. So much so, that He gave His life for me and therefore has a very deep interest in every detail of my life. And, like Abraham, I could trust that whatever circumstances He allowed in my life were best for me for that time whether I understood it or not.  And so I was able to surrender that struggle over to Him.  Psalms 62:8 was a verse that I put into practice many times and continue to use as life moves on.

Sometimes it seems like God holds things we really want away from us until we surrender control of it over to Him. And that was exactly the case in the scenario which was about to unfold.


Rachel: I grew up like many of you readers. Dreaming of the day when Prince Charming would sweep me off my feet. I had read the Laura Ingalls books as a girl and decided that 18 was the perfect age for marriage. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought she lived an idealistic life?!)


But ‘eighteen’ came and went. And I decided that I probably wasn’t mature enough anyways. I still had new horizons to explore and a list of skills I wanted to learn. So 23 became the perfect age. Yep, I would be married by 23.


‘Twenty-three’ came and went. I was still single. There had been opportunities for relationships, but it was obvious my Prince Charming hadn’t arrived on the scene. My dream-world was shaken up a bit. Where was the man of my dreams?!


Then a memorable turning point happened in my heart. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in a church concert, listening to my dear friends, the Berge family. Their daughter, Mindy, was sharing her beautiful love story. And my heart was asking, “Why does everyone else have a guy, Lord? What about me?” Mindy made a statement that suddenly burst into my questioning, “Marriage is not the ultimate purpose of life. Our ultimate purpose is to glorify the Lord.”



That comment blew my complaints out of the water and was a new, exciting thought to me. It meant that I could 100% fulfill God’s plan for my life right now! Life didn’t begin with a relationship. It begins with knowing and glorifying the One Who created me. And actively pursuing what He has placed in my path to accomplish. 
The Lord wasn’t worried about my need for a husband. He wanted me to see the open doors He was placing in front of me. Today. Not wasting today by wishing for tomorrow. 
I bowed my head in the middle of that concert and prayed that the Lord would keep me where I could be most glorifying to Him...whether married or single. 
And the adventure and challenge of singleness continued. But this time, however, I could live with the peace and excitement that I was fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. The years passed as I grew -- and truly treasured the season of being able to give my complete attention to God’s call for this season in my life. Music, ministry, and my family. Life was full!
Fast-forward seven years to May 2011. I was only 7 months away from turning the big 3-0. Seriously! How did I get to be so OLD?! *smile*   Life was still full, but in the routine of life, I somehow lost sight of everything I just wrote in the above paragraphs. I began to wonder: Was I really where God wanted me? Maybe He wanted me to go somewhere else so I could find my Prince Charming? Maybe I missed meeting my prince because I was so busy?
It was time for a re-evaluation. A re-focus. And a long, tearful talk with Dad. I spent some extra time just seeking the Lord in His Word. Asking if I was truly in His will. Searching. Struggling. 
But the Lord is always faithful and once again used several verses to renew my vision for investing in my younger siblings and several other local opportunities. He also started to show me that I had become a human-‘doing’ instead of a human-‘being’. Frantically focusing on various projects until the point that I felt the urge to simply be ‘busy’. It was time to slow down and live intentionally. 
I loved it!! Summer 2011 was an incredible time for me! I was once again living with a sense of purpose and joy. I thanked the Lord every day for the opportunity to pursue the things I was passionate about!



Alan: Last July I was at a wedding anniversary celebration for my parents and one of my cousins told my sister that she knew of a girl who she thought might be a good match for Alan.  When my sister mentioned it to me all I remembered her saying was that it was a girl who was involved in a traveling music group.  I all but wrote it off thinking, "How would a guy get to know a girl like that?"  But she was persistent and said that all I had to do was google 'Wissmann Family' and I would be able to learn more about her.  As I began reading the blogs they had posted I was still dubious but then I began to think that most girls I knew by the age of 29 were more than ready to get married and that Rachel probably, at some point, had the same struggle I had gone through.  As I read the blog and watched some concert clips I began to sense a surrendered spirit about her that was very attractive to me. At that point I was convinced. But how does a man get to know a traveling musician? It's not easy.

After much thought I checked their music schedule and saw that the closest concert was going to be in York, Nebraska, in less than two weeks at the York County Fair.  So I decided to go, but I still remember thinking to myself on the way up that I must be crazy driving eight hours just to attend a county fair.





Rachel: Fast-forward to August 4, 2011. I was excited about heading up to the Lake Itasca Music Festival that weekend and Dad had lined up a concert at the York County Fair just previous to the festival. It was a fun, outdoor, casual event where we sang two 45-minute sets. 



After our first set, Dad mentioned that I needed to practice a song with the boys before our second concert. So I headed to find the boys on the far side of the tent. I inwardly sighed when I saw them actively engaged in a conversation with a tall gentlemen -- and started to scheme how I could politely inform them of our need to practice. 


I walked up and eased into their circle of conversation. But before I knew what was happening, the gentleman started directing his questions to me! He was a very pleasant conversationalist, and I answered his questions regarding our music and travels. I discovered he was from the Wichita area and was passing through York during the fair event. Still focused on the duties at hand, I excused myself at the first opportunity and headed to the bus to practice. 
Little did I know I had just met the love of my life!



Alan: After the concert was over I was visiting with two of her brothers and the conversation was going really well when Rachel came over, and being the optimist I am, I thought: "She is going to make this easy, in fact, she must be interested!" She talked for a brief minute or so and then told the guys they needed to brush up on a song before the next concert.  My ego quickly deflated, but when you drive four hours to a county fair a man doesn't give up that easily.  So I stayed for the second concert, but afterwards she was busy at the CD table and so I talked with her dad and then traveled home.  I remember being impressed with the sense of humility and spiritual passion the family exhibited throughout the evening which was attractive to me.  But what does a man do next? Getting to know a traveling musician is not easy.  


As I mulled my predicament over in my mind I began to think that this day and age if I had a daughter and some stranger called her out of the blue I would want to know a few things about the man before I let her spend time with him.  Several days later I decided to call her dad  before they forgot who I was. Traveling musicians meet a lot of people.  The only number I had was the number on the web site which I assumed would be his -- or at least the secretary for the group, which it was. Rachel was the secretary, which I found out when she picked up the phone. I quickly recovered and asked to speak to Mr. Wissmann.  Thankfully she didn't ask who I was and gave me his number.  

When he picked up the phone I told him who I was and why I was calling.  I remember there being a long pause in which all sorts of assumptions ran through my head, but then since he was in the middle of setting up for a concert he said he would call me back.  When he did, we had a really good long conversation, and when we hung up he said he would mention it to Rachel and get back with me.  I remember thinking when I got off the phone that even if things didn't work out with Rachel that this was a man with whom I would like to stay in contact. Our interests were so similar.  After several days he called back and said Rachel was willing to get acquainted and that they were going to be singing at a four day event called Old Threshers' Reunion in eastern Iowa over Labor Day.  They had a place I could stay, and it would be a great low pressure event to get to know each other better.  I agreed but when I looked at the route I realized I would be spending fourteen hours on the road to get better acquainted with a girl who had shown very little interest.


Rachel: One week after the York concerts, I received a phone call from the gentleman in Wichita. Since he wanted to talk to Dad, I figured he was interested in booking a concert. I was pleased because we had an ‘open’ evening we needed to fill in the Kansas area the following month. Perfect!
Later, I asked Dad if the ‘man from Wichita’ called about wanting to schedule a concert?! When he replied in the negative, I instinctively knew why he had called. It was about me. And I actually didn’t think twice about it. I figured that I had plenty of other stuff to focus on. 
Dad had a couple phone conversations with the ‘man from Wichita’ (I still didn’t know his name!), and invited him to join our family for our annual trip to Old Threshers'. Dad was very impressed with their phone conversations and seemed eager for us to meet. I was completely fine with that as Old Threshers' is always lots of fun and action. We could get to know each other without pressure and both still have a good time.



Alan: As I stepped out of the car in Mt. Pleasant and began walking to where I knew the bus would be parked, I began to sweat -- mostly from the hot humid Iowa summer, but also from a nervous feeling knowing that awkward moments lay ahead. But then I remembered something I had heard once. If the relationship is God's will, despite any blunders you make, it will still happen, and if this wasn't God's choice then I should be thankful for that since His way is always best.


As I came around the corner of the bus one of her brothers was just heading into the bus as the family was about to pray before the concert would take place.  I stepped on and everyone looked at me, and I knew the awkward moment had arrived. To make matters worse, Mr. Wissmann reached out his hand and said:  "And your name again?"  My heart sank as I concluded that I was probably just boy number ten who had stepped on this bus.  I figured at least I could enjoy the festivities.  This was a huge step up from the county fair. One thing led to another and as the weekend progressed so did the relationship. Getting to know this traveling musician was getting easier and more enjoyable by the moment!



Rachel: It was around noon when Alan arrived at Old Threshers. Our family was just gathering to pray before our concert, so he stepped in the bus and joined us. As we headed up to the concert location, I welcomed him to Old Threshers' and asked about his trip. (It was a 7 hour drive).
My heart was in neutral in regards to this relationship. Yes, he seemed like a very nice man. And yes, he was an excellent conversationalist. I found myself completely at ease just talking to him -- at least when I had a chance to talk to him!! I was surprised to discover that he seemed to always be hanging out with my brothers or talking to the younger kids. I wondered if he had really come to Old Threshers' to see me?!! 
As the weekend progressed, we had a couple great conversations...and a lot of fun together. I was impressed with his sincere love for the Lord and depth of character -- and was caught off guard by his fantastic sense of humor! I found myself admiring so many things about him.
Our whole family gathered at the end of Old Threshers' and said ‘goodbye’ to our grandparents, Alan, and other friends who had joined us for the weekend. Alan waved goodbye to me, but I had no idea when -- or if -- I would ever hear from him again. Somehow, I had entered the weekend indifferent, but I left curiously hoping I would see him again. Soon!



Alan: When it came time to leave we had not had a chance to really talk about where things were going and since there were others around I just waved good bye and walked away to my car.  The seven hour trip home flew by as I thought back over the weekend and realized how easy and enjoyable it was to talk with her, especially about our relationship with God.  I was enthused but had no idea what she was thinking.  I knew that if she had no interest she would have acted differently, but then again she might have just been showing courtesy since I had driven so far.




Rachel: I didn’t have long to wait! The next morning I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize while I was deep in conversation with Bethany. When I went back to check my messages, I heard, “This is Alan. Give me a call when you have the chance.” My heart jumped!
Unbeknownst to me, Alan had asked Dad’s permission to call me -- and he wasted no time! I eagerly dialed back his number and we had the first of many 2+ hour long phone conversations.


Alan: The next day I called her up and told her I was interested in pursuing the relationship, and she voiced the same.  I was on a cloud.  Better yet, I realized that in less than two weeks they would be traveling through Kansas to sing on the way to Branson.  As they had some extra time the family was able to spend a day and a half at my home getting to know my side of the family.




We quickly moved into a season of friendship as our phone conversations centered around getting to know each other’s family, background, ministry vision, Scriptural insights, and every day activities. I was constantly amazed at how we seemed to be instantly on the same page, no matter what topic we chose to talk about. His depth and insight into life always left me inspired and challenged. He was a leader, but very servant-hearted and humble. I was cautious, but kept wanting to know more about this handsome man.


In mid-September our family was able to spend a few days with him and his family on their farm -- it was our first time to meet any of his family. With Dad and Mom growing up on midwest farms, we instantly had a lot in common with the Busenitz clan. His parents and brother’s family were so welcoming, and we had such a good time with them. Again, Alan and I had some good conversations, and I was reminded how much I enjoyed hanging out with him. 
We were headed to Missouri after our time in Kansas, and I casually invited him to join our family for a day or two in Branson. It was a 5 hour drive, so I figured he probably wouldn’t be interested. I was so thrilled when he messaged me shortly after we left his farm asking if it would indeed be okay to join us?! Our time in Branson was a blast, and I realized that I was sincerely beginning to really like this man! 
In October I was able to spend a week with Alan’s family as they harvested soybeans. It was a fantasic opportunity as he gave me a tour of the Kansas countryside, and we spent several 10-12 hour days riding in the combine. And talking all the while. We shared priceless memories throughout this whole season, through November and into December. I again and again marveled at the godly, courageous, humble, clever, hard-working, funny, wise man that he is. Everything I had prayed for in a man...and so much more!


[Making gingerbread with Alan's neice and nephew]




Alan: One thing led to another and on December sixteen we were engaged.  Looking back I can truly say that God does give exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. I am so grateful for Rachel and I am looking forward to seeing how God will use us together in the future.


Rachel: Fourteen weeks after that memorable weekend at Old Threshers, we were fast approaching Christmas. At the rate our friendship was growing, I was beginning to wonder if I might get a diamond for Christmas?! I had spent time in prayer and knew that if he would ask, I would have full confidence that becoming Alan’s wife was God’s perfect, beautiful, and joyous will for me.


But my suspicions of a holiday diamond were quieted when he told me that his friends were teasing him about proposing on Christmas -- and that he had decidedly told them they were all wrong. So I mentally deduced that it wouldn’t be Christmas. Maybe January before we left on our 2 month tour?! 

Around December 16, my dad mentioned to me that he had to go to Kansas for a business trip. Since Alan was planning to come up for the weekend already, I asked if I could catch a ride south and then drive back with Alan on Saturday. Alan was excited about the prospect, too, so we eagerly planned for a ‘bonus’ day together. He was full of plans to spend the evening in Wichita, looking at Christmas lights. Since most of our time together had consisted of working on the farm or hanging out with my family, this would be our first ‘real date’. I was thrilled! 
8:00 in the morning, Dad suddenly realized there was a problem with the airplane he planned to use. The trip was almost cancelled, but thankfully a repairman got on the job, and by mid-morning we were headed south! Alan picked us up at the airport and we had lunch together before Dad flew to his business meeting. Alan and I headed home and did some farm work before heading out for the evening in Wichita. 
Alan was pretty laid back and asked if I would like to eat first or head to the Christmas lights. Since we had a late lunch, I opted for the Christmas lights. It was a gorgeous display with hundreds of thousands of lights. We walked around and tried to keep warm as we enjoyed the atmosphere and live music together. 
An hour or so later we were chilly and ready for some food, so Alan asked where I’d like to go for supper. “Mexican?...or ...” I opted for Mexican, so he took me to a fantastic spot -- “On the Border." Afterwards, he asked if I’d like to go on a walk around the lakefront. The Christmas lights from a small island reflected down on the clear water and the whole scene was incredibly beautiful. 
We sat on a park bench and Alan mentioned that he had a gift for me. My heart skipped a beat -- until I saw the package and realized it was obviously a book. I unwrapped it and turned the book over to read the description. He quickly reached for the book and turned it right-side up again. This puzzled me as I just wanted to read what the book was about. I turned it upside down again, only to have him right it. Finally, I quizzically opened the book and discovered a center hole whittled out of the book with the world’s most gorgeous diamond ring tucked inside! (Since we were sitting right at the river’s edge, he was afraid the ring would fall out when I kept tipping the book over!!) 



I wholeheartedly said “YES! I would love to!” when he popped the question. And I continue to fall in love with this incredible, wonderful man every day since then. On June 30th I look forward to becoming Mrs. Alan Busenitz and the great and many adventures we will have together. May the Lord be glorified, great things HE has done!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hannah


Happy 17th Birthday Hannah! 

Personal highlights from the past year: 

  • Gaining a new nephew (Asher) and niece (Arianna)
  • Spending more time at home
  • The special times when our whole family was able to be together
  • Helping with Rachel's wedding plans
  • Working in the irrigation fields
  • Helping with the NCHEA Kids Conference
  • Enjoying our cat's baby kittens

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
Phil 2:3-4

Monday, June 18, 2012

Matthias

Happy Birthday Matthias!

                       Personal year highlights:

                                    -Traveling and ministering with the family
                                    -Working for Dad
                                    -Buying his first car 



"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
 a worker who does not need to be ashamed,
 rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Countdown

If you were to pop into our house sometime the last few weeks (or the next few weeks to come) you would probably see a bunch of wedding details spread all over the house! Thankfully the 'to-do list' is getting shorter and shorter as the days fly by. Less than 2 weeks till the special day arrives and we are SO excited! Dan and Bethany arrive in Nebraska this week and we are so looking forward to meeting Arianna for the first time.


Alaythia cut out around 90 circles for some DARLING pew decorations


Add a few more touches and sorry, you will have to wait for a picture of the final project. Don't worry though, they ARE darling and the picture WILL come!


But we will bless the Lord 
From this time forth and forevermore. 
Praise the Lord!
Psalms 115:18


- by Hannah    

Friday, June 01, 2012

Memorial Day



 I wish you could have seen the smiles that were at our house when we found out that we were going to be at Grandpa and Grandma Hager's house for Memorial Day! We usually get to help put up flags, eat the best cookies in the world, play many different outdoor games, drive Grandpa's tractors, read books with Grandma, hear many of the stories of our family history... and this year was no different!


:: We get up early in the morning to put up flags ::


:: We girls get the job of hooking the flags onto the polls ::



:: Me ::




:: Mommy ::


:: The guys had the harder job of taking these huge posts and putting them in the holes. The goal was to try and get them in place before blowing away ::


:: Uncle Duane, the faithful driver ::


:: Susanna ::


:: Nathanael and Charissa ::


:: Go Huskers ::


:: Elizabeth ::


:: Mommy and Charissa ::


:: So many memories ::



:: Charissa was so excited to be able to help put up the smaller flag ::


:: Grandpa riding to the other cemetery on the much wanted seat ::


:: It was so pretty looking at all the flags up ::



:: Grandpa ::


:: Our wonderful Grandparents ::


:: Our wonderful Parents ::


:: Susanna and I ::


Thank you Grandpa and many others who have fought and are still fighting for our freedom!


"I will make you a great nation; I will bless you 
And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing!"
Genesis 12:2