Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gearing Up

The sun is shining, the days are becoming shorter. And excitement is in the air. It must be nearing the Old Thresher's Reunion! After a full weekend of concerts and fellowship, we pulled onto the familiar grounds last night, ready to help prepare for the reunion!

This has become a highlight for our family -- and a true reunion for us. Our grandparents camp with us over the weekend and we get to see many of Mom's extended family. Alan & Rachel and Dan, Bethany, & Arianna plan to be here over the weekend as well. We'll hope to have a host of 'reunion' pictures to share!

But for today, we're jumping in to help with preparations. Our Aunt Gayle is responsible for much of the kitchen duties at the Log Village, so we just spent the morning helping her wash dishes, sort, and prepare the kitchen for a weekend of outdoor, old-fashioned cooking:

Happy dishwashers

Mugs for the school children

Drying and sorting

With time to capture a few smiles!

And, while the grounds are still quiet, we've set up our system and are enjoying the opportunity for some extra practice time. Weekend, here we come! 

"And in that day you will say: "Praise the LORD, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted."  Isa. 12:4

Hope to see you there! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Behind Bars

Traveling in ministry has its moments:

Happy moments of family memories made together. 
Tired moments from full schedules. 
Cramped moments of trying to cook, manage school, and music practice within the confines of the bus. 
Excited moments of catching up with friends and meeting new people. 
Awe-filled moments of watching the Spirit of the Lord move in mighty ways. 

Yesterday was one of those awesome moments. 

We were scheduled to share a prison service in Wisconsin. The chaplain contacted us in advance, letting us know that only 100 men were permitted to attend the service, but 174 men were already signed up for the event. After talking together, we decided to appeal to the chaplain and warden. Would they permit us to present two back-to-back services, enabling more men to attend? 

Upon arrival, we discovered that they would, indeed, allow us to share twice. We were thrilled! We passed through security and set up our sound equipment. The men filed in, dressed in matching prison garb. Some faces eager and excited. Some downcast with pain-filled eyes. Dad, Matthias, and Stephen greeting them, engaging them in conversations while we girls provided background music. 

Each service was almost filled to capacity. We shared 20 minutes of music, followed by Dad teaching from God's Word and a time of invitation and prayer. How do you capture in words the awesome moving of God's Spirit? The hardened eyes, softening; hungering. The realization that there is HOPE in Jesus. 

We stood there, singing; earnestly praying. Marveling as God's hand reached down and touched the hearts of these men. Eighteen men responded to the gospel during the two services. What a joy it was to see the light in their faces as they responded! The chaplain has such a heart to minister to these men. Please join us in prayer over these coming days as he seeks to disciple these new believers?! Pray for the men there who already know Christ, that they might be rooted and grounded in God's Word. 

And finally, thank you for partnering with us as we share God's powerful Word. We're in awe of His goodness and mighty acts. Praise His Name! 

"As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having; 
but O how vain and unworthy it is to live for any lower end!"
David Brainerd

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lake Itasca Highlights

Its been a couple weeks in coming, but we're still recounting the special times at the Lake Itasca Music Festival. Unfortunately, we weren't able to capture many pictures due to our other commitments. But here are a few from a friend's camera to show you a bit of the weekend, along with our highlights: 

Integrity, according to Wikipedia is "a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes." In that light, The LIFMF has utmost integrity! It is such a joy to watch the Berge [plus extended] family work together: serving, encouraging, teaching, organizing, cooking, ministering. And always with a smile and genuine love.

We marvel and seek for more of that selfless service in our own lives. Praying for the love of Christ to radiate from our words, actions, and attitudes. More than just excelling in music -- or any number of areas -- this is the challenge we desire to implement into our daily interactions. Investing in others and cultivating those relationships.

We were able to share several workshops over the weekend: 
Banjo, mandolin, dobro, violin, 
and Dad's teaching on Family Ministry & Revival. 

Hannah at the violin workshop

Another highlight was having Josiah's family join us for the weekend via airplane!

Charissa always enjoys making new friends!

A huge answer to prayer was the pristine weather. All who were present during the downpours last year understand how delightful the sunshine and mild temps were this year! This probably helped to draw the record crowds all weekend.

Working the Snack Shack

And of course -- a highlight for us is always the lively Storybook Theater. The facilities were packed as we transported the eager participants to the colorful land of India. Matthias & Hannah led the singing this year, teaching a couple new songs from our latest project. The children caught on quickly and sang with gusto! 

Stephen and Susanna taught the Bible memory verses, including exuberant actions and practical applications for each verse. How precious to hear children excitedly quoting God's Word! 

The drama followed the life of Ida Scutter, a missionary to India. 

Elizabeth & Hannah in their Indian saris, enjoying time with friends. 

And finally, it was a joy to share a couple concerts over the weekend. Music has such power to uplift, encourage, and challenge. Perhaps that's why the Word instructs to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." [Col 3:16]

Again, thank you for your prayers! We're so blessed to minister together, knowing that many of you hold us before the throne. If you're looking for a great family get-away, mark your calendars for the Lake Itasca Family Music Festival, 2014 -- always the first weekend of August!

"I will praise the name of God with a song, 
and will magnify Him with thanksgiving!"
Psalm 69:30

Friday, August 16, 2013


Happy Birthday Ruth!

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalms 37:4

Dad & Mom

Happy 33rd Anniversary Dad & Mom!!!
We love you!

"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... If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; 
so you will be My disciples."
John 15:5
(Dad & Moms wedding verse)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Birthday Party

This past weekend we celebrated our great-uncle's 80th birthday with a family reunion and surprise party. Was he ever surprised! Everyone showed up at Sunday's church service and stayed for the brunch and festivities afterward. It was wonderful to see friends and family on Mom's side of the family -- and to let Uncle Duane know how special he is to us. 

We were responsible for designing and assembling the table decor. 

Our incredible Grandma with some of the amazingly yummy spread!

Helping in the kitchen

Charissa enjoyed playing with our cousin's son.

Our grandparents & Uncle Duane with a bunch of his great nieces and nephews.

One generation shall praise Your works to another, 
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
Ps 145:4

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Memory Lane

This weekend we were able to spend time with our grandparents in Iowa. What a treat! Growing up our grandparents (on both sides) went out of our way to make special memories with us. Late night ice cream. Tractor rides. Mealtime stories and laughter. Making cookies. Exploring the dairy and picking up milk in Grandpa's big truck. Working in the garden & getting cooled down with the water hose afterwards. The list is endless!

And we're still making memories. Every moment of togetherness is an opportunity. Every hug shared. Every gale of laughter. Every crazy situation. Every tender moment.

Those precious opportunities to tie the heartstrings; to delight in the closeness of 'family'.

One of our favorite activities from our visit was to pull out all the old picture albums and laugh over the moments of time which were captured on film.

Grandpa and Hannah

Time for some hugs!

And a few pictures of our family from the past:

Late 1986


What sort of memories are you creating today?!

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"

Romans 12:10-11

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Darling Equation

1 + 1 = 4

We're rejoicing with Dan and Bethany on another precious addition to their family! 

I will praise You, 
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
Marvelous are Your works, 
And that my soul knows very well." 
Ps 139:14

For more pictures and details, visit Bethany's Blog

Friday, August 09, 2013

40 Hours of Action

We just completed a quick visit home. That tiny space of time, spent unpacking and re-packing again. Our trip to the north country was so blessed. We greatly enjoyed getting to see many of you dear readers and friends in person! Mom is working to write out specific answers to prayer and highlights from the trip that I look forward to sharing -- with pictures -- soon. 

But back to our short time at home. With only 40 hours at our Milford address, we quickly discovered our gardens had been working overtime in our absence! Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, peppers,...yes, produce in wonderful abundance! 

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work! What a blessing it is to have vegetables to store up for the winter meals. How fun and lively it is to have seven girls all working in the kitchen at once; singing, laughing, and racing to complete the projects at hand. 

Our work all cut out for us

Busy fingers!

And jars set to cool in the sunset. 

Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! 
They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.
Ps 98:15

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Alan's Surprise

Hello from Kansas! 

Last week held a very special event in our home and I thought I'd share a bit of the story with you. My favorite person had a birthday last Thursday! {insert cheers and birthday song here}

In the days leading up to Alan's birthday, I decided a birthday surprise was in order. Although most of our home is decorated with curtains, pillows, wall art, and all those homey accents, our bedroom had yet to be transformed from a tidy, practical room into a honeymoon suite. 

Since our anniversary arrived during the whirlwind of finishing these projects, I decided to transform the room for his birthday. It should be an easy surprise: Alan typically comes in for lunch, but then returns to the farm for the afternoon. If I had all the sewing done ahead of time, I would have several hours on his birthday to pull it all together. 

But with a sudden change of events, I was the one to be surprised as a dear friend drove from Nebraska to Kansas to take us out for Alan's birthday lunch. We were thrilled and honored he would go so far out of his way for us, and we had a delightful time visiting for several hours into the afternoon. Alan's brother so graciously hung all the curtain hardware in the bedroom while we were in town. And my window of time to decorate became smaller as we spent the afternoon together. 

On the way home I asked Alan if he still had work for the afternoon. "No, I can just be with you and help you get ready for company tonight." (A birthday party isn't complete without the family!)

Great. How could I pull off a surprise while he's in the house?! 

Our birthday dessert
Maybe all the fruit compensated for the other sugary deliciousness?! 

But my lively, sweet niece and nephews came to my rescue. While they were happily distracting their Uncle Alan after supper, we ladies whisked into the bedroom and started hanging curtains, nailing up pictures, and tugging the bedding into place. In short order, the room was transformed -- all while Alan was obliviously occupied only one room away.

He was surprised. Thrilled! 

And I was so grateful for the many dear friends and family in our lives. Those who go out of our way to encourage us. Travel multiple hours to spend the afternoon in fellowship. Help us with crazy projects. 

Grateful for the godly, wonderful man I call my husband. 

We're so blessed. 

And here are a few photos of the room:

Cute bed pillows

The framed photos contain our wedding vows, by Alan's special request.

So true. 

Difficult lighting. But they turned out oh, so elegant!

Our bathroom curtains. Cute and airy. 

"And he decorated the house with precious stones for beauty,..."
2 Chron 3:6

Monday, August 05, 2013

More to Come...

Last week we drove onto the Lake Itasca Festival grounds full of anticipation. And yesterday, we pulled away with hearts full of gratitude and joyful memories. The Lord really blessed each opportunity for ministry this year. The conversations. The music. The children's Storybook Theater. 

Where does one start when re-counting the Lord's goodness?! It is a continuous thread that weaves through each day. Usually as we step out of the way and let Him work.

We have more pictures and testimonies to come. Stay tuned! 

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, 
and for His wonderful works to the children of men."
Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, & 31