Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Charlie Bit My Finger - Again!

If you haven't watched the hilarious "Charlie Bit My Finger - Again!" video on YouTube, let me seriously recommend it. Even if you have dial up.
We have dial-up and rarely spend the hour it takes to load a few minutes of YouTube video... but this one is so worth it! These two little boys are so... well, just watch it for yourself! : )

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming For A Life of Gathering Gloom

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom:
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

- We Three Kings of Orient Are, verse 4

As we sang "We Three Kings of Orient Are" in church today, this verse of the hymn hit me like never before. Usually, everyone focuses on the joy of Christ's birth - wonder, beauty, peace on earth, joy... these are all words we hear at Christmas time and hear in the carols we sing. We coo over the babe in the manger, the beauty of the scene in the little stable of Bethlehem.

We sing, "Joy to the World. " Certainly, Christ's coming to the world - God with us, in human flesh - was the most wonderful, joyous thing that had ever happened to the world since it began. It was joy - for us. Miserable, sin-sick creatures that had a God and Creator willing to stoop to their level...

But on Christ's part, coming to earth was for the purpose of death, ugliness, to become the vilest thing known to man as He "became sin" and "became us" that we might be made the righteousness of God.

May we continue to rejoice that Christ came to earth for us - the wonder that God should die for me! - but may we ever be mindful that He came not just to bring joy and warmness to hearts of shepherds, but that he actually came to become the vilest of sin that we might have peace with God.

May we live with that perspective. Enough people live carelessly. Enough people abuse the grace of God. May I be one that does more than marvel at a Holy Babe in a manger. May I marvel at the Righteousness and perfect Justice of my God and live my life accordingly.

Christmas Cookies

We had a huge cookie baking day a couple of weeks before Christmas. Friends and neighbors participated, and those who weren't here to help us bake received a plate of cookies the next day. We've never made this many fancy cookies before (I think we made 11 different recipes)... but we found it to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to go knock on a lot of neighbors' doors that we normally don't have a reason to visit! :)

Azarina, Bethany, and Joanna were more than happy to "man" the chocolate-dipping station!

Almost finished... the table is a mess and there's several hundred cookies to package!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Show Us the Golden Harvest There

The whole team spent some time scoping out some property for the family that plans to move over there in January and begin working with the natives.

There really were kids everywhere!

Finally! They have the Bibles, loaded the truck, and went off into the bush to find the schools. (The government doesn't know where most of their school are or who the teachers or students are... They asked the mission team to take pictures and give them a report of what they found!)

And at last, the children were each handed a Bible and book about knowing God. Twenty-two thousand were passed out before the team had to come home at the beginning of December. That's a lot of seed. The boys said it was encouraging to walk through an area where they had passed out Bibles a few days earlier and see people sitting on their doorsteps reading them!

Toward Jerusalem

O Father, help lest our poor love refuse
For our beloved the life that they would choose,
And in our fear of loss for them, or pain.
Forget eternal gain.

Show us the gain, the golden harvest there
For corn of wheat that they have buried there;
Lest human love defraud them, and betray,
Teach us, O God, to pray.

Teach us to pray remembering Calvary,
For as the Master must the servant be;
We see their face set toward Jerusalem,
Let us not hinder them.

Teach us to pray; O Thou that didst not spare
Thine Own Beloved, lead us on in prayer,
Purge from the earthly, give us love Divine,
Father, like Thine, like Thine.

- Amy Carmichael

Pray the Lord Of the Harvest That He Would Send Forth Laborers

The mission team that the boys went with to Guinea Bissau planned to spend most of their five weeks over there passing out Bibles in the schools.

Instead theu spent the first two weeks meeting with governmental officials, getting all kinds of legal documents written up that will (hopefully) ensure them a continued working relationship within the schools as well as give them an opportunity to begin a school for training teachers, etc.

Transportation in Africa is always fun!

Bible study under the tree in front of their hotel

The guys spent a lot of time having Bible studies amongst themselves. And they held services every night out front at the hotel where they were staying. They said that the hotel's main income is usually from the prostitution that occurs there every day. With the gospel meetings going on in the evening, though, the boys said that the usual customers mostly decided to go elsewhere.

'Zaiah down at the port... wishing there was a way to get into the Bibles.

And they spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get their shipping container of Bibles out of the port (the crane was broke, and when it got fixed the operator said he just didn't feel like moving the container, even if they paid him a lot of money!). God finally answered their prayers and they were able to get the container in an accessible location!

"They Have One Thing Right in Africa... Everybody Loves Children!" - Zaiah

Quinn H. attempting to take a picture... What an audience!

Abe with some random little kid...
The kids were always happy for anybody to notice them,
hold them, play with them, love on them!

'Zaiah made friends with somebody's pet monkey.
He jokingly shows the picture off as "the day I met my grandfather in Africa" (evolution!)

Abe trying to relax in the hammock with little neighborhood kids.

When I picked 'Zaiah and Abe up at the airport, of course I wanted to hear all about their impression of Guinea Bissau.
They went on and on about what a backwards country it is... how the people don't use the resources that the U.N. and various humanitarian aid places send them. Many of them live in little huts and shacks, while a spacious new apartment complex stands in town, occupied by nobody because the people can't agree on who should get to live there. It's sat there vacant for a couple of years since it was built and donated to the people. Vandals have stolen the toilets and messed up the brand new building, but nobody seems to realize what a tragedy their wasted resources are. 'Zaiah said that it is hard to even know where to start working in that country because of the corrupted government and the lack of integrity and truth from pretty much anybody.

"But," he added. "At least they have one thing right. They love children. They see the children of Guinea Bisseau as their future and their hope. Kids are everywhere, and people value them."

What a contrast to a tone that has taken over our society in recent decades. The prevailing thought that kids are expensive, difficult, and expendable... Have a couple if you want them, but a poodle or Bull Mastiff makes an acceptable substitute. And heaven help us if we should ever "punish" a woman by not allowing her to dispose of a baby she didn't want!

My old car had a bumper sticker on it that I loved.
It said, "Children... Our most precious natural resource."

The Africans may not have a lot of things right, but I'll agree with 'Zaiah. They have one thing right. Children are valuable and precious!

December Days...

Once again, it's been a long time since I've posted.

No, I didn't get sick. (Praise the Lord!!) Matter of fact, I told one of my sisters the other day, "I can't believe how good I feel when I've had a decent amount of sleep! I could be the Energizer Bunny today!"

Most days the sleep department has been a little short, but that's okay. I've been so immersed in clinicals that I barely have had time to breathe this past week. I love playing the primary role under supervision... I learn the most that way. Who needs sleep when they could be catching a baby instead? : ) And my CPM preceptor is great. She knows what I'm thinking and I know what she's thinking before either of us say anything (usually!). I'm so grateful to have someone to work with and learn from who shares my worldview and with whom I get along so splendidly!

My family has been no less busy with their own projects. Tonight was our bi-weekly Friday night Bible study at our house. We had 21 kids under 10 here! And the house was relatively quiet. That was amazing!

Several of the girls tried to get the year-end letter written this week. But each time they wrote a few paragraphs and then gave up saying, "How do you condense our life into a couple of pages? We need an annual edition of our yearly chronicle!"
Really, though, we have to get it written and print those family pictures and get it in the mail! It's going to be 2009 way too soon!

I wish I was three different places tonight...

Congratulations to my dear friends Halley (in Columbia) and Jessica (in Springfield) who are graduating as RN's tonight!
Congratulations to Allison (in St. Louis) who is celebrating her recent engagement to Brian tonight!
Congratulations to Robyn who graduates as a nurse tomorrow... and really deserves some kind of Purple Heart for managing to go through nursing school, be a midwife, and raise 11 children simultaneously! I wish I could hear her valedictorian speech tomorrow about God's grace in her life in the midst of all of this!
And best wishes to Steff who is hosting a meeting in her home near Kansas City for policy makers focused on fixing our U.S. maternity care system tomorrow afternoon... She's hoping that Tom Daschle makes it there... and so do I!

And I've promised some Africa pictures from the boys... Unfortunately, they are not home this week to tell me if my captions are correct. Anyone who was there or knows is welcome to comment, correcting my captions!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time to read, but no time to blog!

In recent days I've been caring for an elderly lady a lot. She lives in a quiet little house in town and I spend a lot of afternoons with her and some nights. While she's dozing on the chair, I have time to study with no interruptions. It's wonderful!

However, it ensures that I have no spare moments online. Hence, the lack of lengthy blog posts from me in recent days. I hope to figure out some way to make my blogging work while watching her. Maybe one of her neighbors will decide to set up an unsecured wireless network and I can use that??

In the mean time though, watching her has given me time to read much more than usual. (Yes, most of it is exciting stuff like studying all the cautions/side effects of various medicated creams for yeast infections!) A couple of afternoons ago, I put down Varney's and read the whole of A.W. Tozer's "The Pursuit of God." A few quotes were too good not to take the time to share with you!

One of the premises of his book is that our relationship to God (and thus, every area of life and every relationship) must be one of sincerity and humility. I did some soul searching, and asked the Lord to make me more sincere and humble, and He has been faithful to do just that!

The other day I found myself wondering why so many big, humbling, hard things were happening in one afternoon and wondering what could happen next. I felt extremely insignificant and about 1 inch tall. I was watching everyone else receive exactly what I had wanted so badly and see that they were doing a much better job than I ever could have. There's nothing quite like realizing that God doesn't need you and that other people don't find you indispensable either!!

As I was musing on the turn of events in several areas of life I realized something. This was exactly what I had asked for, right? I managed to smile and say, "Thank you, God! I don't like it, but it's exactly what I asked for, and I still want it!"

"[Christ] waits to be wanted."

"Lift up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love, and mean Himself, and none of His goods."

"Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself."

"To be specific, [the] self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them...
They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and power."

"When we talk of the rending of the veil [of Self] we are speaking in a figure, and the thought is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil [of Self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us, and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free...
Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust.... [But] we must insist upon the work being done....
Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when the work is finished and the suffering victim [Self] dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy..."

-- A.W. Tozer

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trying to Stay Well

In 24 hours time over the weekend, I was exposed to (like, kids sneezing on me, hugging me with snotty faces!) a LOT of stuff... a case of measles, a bunch of kids with pinkeye, 3 colds, a nasty stomach bug, a bad fever-and-aches flu, and 2 cases of Strep, between 5 families. I wish people who are really sick would stay home or give advanced warning when they are coming, germs and all! :) I'm all about informed choice, including being given the information that I am about to be exposed to some stuff I really, really don't want to take home to the 11 other lovely people who live with me!

Wow. I'm hoping my immune system is working overtime for me!

I managed to start a cold/sore throat thing last week, and quickly started my Oregano Oil regiment. (Taking 2 drops of Oregano oil morning, noon, and night - I usually put it in capsules since I've never found any pleasure in burning my mouth on Jalapenos OR Oregano oil!) It worked wonders. (Well, plus I added a couple of Echinacea/Goldenseal capsules and abstaining from sugar to the routine.) Within 12 hours I was perfectly fine. I'm faithfully taking my meds again... and I really hope it works as well this time!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting Married Doesn't....

I first noticed this post on Abigail's blog. I guess it's been a hit, though, 'cause I've seen it on at least four or five other blogs in the last couple of days. At the risk of being redundant, I'm going to post it anyway for those of you who haven't seen it. It's a great article.

A quick snippet:

Getting married doesn't instantly make you selfless... it makes you realize how very selfish you can be at times.

Getting married doesn't make you feel loved... it makes you realize love is more of a decision you make than a feeling you feel.

Getting married doesn't take away loneliness... it makes you realize true companionship comes not when you demand it but rather when you give it to another person.

You can read the entire article here.

* * * *

My brothers are back from Africa with thousands of pictures!
I'll upload a few as soon as I get a chance....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Me... A Product of Daily Decisions and Choices

“Life is a long journey, made up of millions of daily decisions. A person’s path can be altered at any time, but the longer he goes on in one particular direction, the more inclined he will be to continue in it….

Every person alive today – whether young or old – is on some course in life and is a product of a lifetime of daily decision making. People are in a constant state of transition: always changing by small degrees in some particular direction….

A.W. Tozer put it this way:

‘Men and women are being molded by their affinities, shaped by their affections and powerfully transformed by the artistry of their loves. In the unregenerate world of Adam this produces day-by-day tragedies of cosmic proportions. Think of the power that turned an innocent pink-cheeked boy into a Nero or a Himmler. And was Jezebel always the “cursed woman” whose head and hands the very dogs, with poetic justice, refused to eat? No; she dreamed her pure girlish dreams and blushed at the thoughts of womanly love; but soon she became interested in evil things, admired them and went on at last to love them. There the law of moral affinity took over and Jezebel, like clay in the hand of the potter, was turned into the deformed and hateful thing that the chamberlains threw down from the window.’ “

Steve Gallagher, Irresistible to God

Liz, The Mighty Hunter!

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The pies were all baked and set away with care,
In hopes that dinner would all go smoothly there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of turkey and pie danced in their heads.
And Liz in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out in the hen house there arose such a clatter,
Liz sprang from her bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the door she flew like a flash,
Tore out into the darkness with a dash.

The moon on the side of the hen house
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to her wondering eyes should appear,
But a great, fat opossum in the chicken nesting box.

Liz screamed for Sam, so lively and quick,
We knew in a moment he needed his gun.
Rapidly, Sam sprang from bed,
And he shouted "I'm coming!" and loaded his gun!

The rest, the sad story of the fat, greedy opossum
Is for you to imagine, and us to celebrate.
No more dead hens in the morning,
No more missing eggs and now peace at night!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Deliberate Gratitude

I had hoped for a chance to write a post of my own for Thanksgiving Day.
After all, I have more than is imaginable to be thankful for today.
And I am grateful, so grateful for what God has given me and for what
He has chosen not to give me.

But after cooking and feasting and visiting with company and washing the dishes several times over, I guess my post will have to wait for another day to be written.

In the mean time, though, Ann Voskamp has once again so eloquently reminded us of the need to deliberately pour the oil of joy and gratitude out in our lives:
Always Enough for Joy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Presidential Debate in Our Home!

Joanna (13) has had the opportunity of doing her schoolwork with our homeschooling neighbors this year. Being the sociable creature that she is, she's always wanted to do school with other people in more of a group setting, so we are all happy for her chance to work together with a couple other girls around her age.
The other girls' mother, Julianna, does a great job of teaching them together and making school interesting. Back in October (yes, I'm a little late posting pictures!), she decided that they would have a presidential debate at our house. She assigned them each girl to be one of the presidential candidates and then the girls spent hours researching the platforms of the candidates and studying their mannerisms and pet words. Then (with some help from several speech writers) they wrote up their speeches and delivered them. Afterwards they took questions from the audience and attempted to out-do one another with their answers!

Joanna as Barack Obama, Azarina as Ralph Nader, and Julia as John McCain

Nader gets a bit of help from his presidential speechwriter.
Obama appears to be busy with his Blackberry in the background!

John McCain (left) is stumped for a minute on the economy and gets a bit of advice
from his chief policy adviser on how to answer the question.
Obama (right) appears to be confident of his next answer.

We didn't always agree with their positions on issues, but applauded when possible! : )

My Lovely Little Sisters

Aren't they cute? : )
Joanna (13), Ruth (16) and their friend, Christy (12) in the Wal-Mart shoe aisle!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ramblings Over Coffee

Liz with some of "her" little people...
Little people too young to do anything but just be themselves!

For once, I have more time than I have things to say here...

I'm sitting in Panera Bread, waiting for my doula client's labor to pick up enough for her to want anybody with her. I guess I could just go home, but that's a long way away if I have to turn around and come back soon. I ended up skipping out on a really fun family dinner at some friends' house tonight because I was told that I would be needed soon... Now I'm wishing I had gone to the dinner, because nothing has happened after all. Oh, well. Such is the wonderful life of anyone who works with pregnant women!

But while I sit here, I'm thinking of the many wonderful ways I've been blessed recently.

As I type, I'm using my "new" laptop. I'd been needing another one for quite awhile since my ancient laptop finally bit the dust and decided to entirely quit working. I really couldn't afford another one. But I really, really needed one. I smiled to myself and thought, "It wouldn't be hard for God to give me one, if He thinks I need it."

But as a few days went by, I wanted to DO something about... let somebody know that I was looking for one... You know, it didn't look like God was busy laptop shopping for me.

But I kept my mouth shut and prayed and waited. And two weeks later, the Lord provided one for me - better than I would have eventually bought myself, all at no cost to me! It seemed as though God was once again grinning and saying, "Prove Me now..."

*** *** ***

While I was sitting here, I got into a conversation with a friend on Facebook who was telling me about her sometimes uncomfortable social situation, dating a man from an impressive social circle. "All the other wives have it so together," she said. "Their lives seem so perfect."

It made me think of something another friend of mine said recently after moving to another state. She was lamenting the lack of friends to celebrate her birthday with. "It's not that I don't have friends here. It's that they are all fake." I asked her what she meant by that. She clarified, "Well, they just aren't real. Everybody has it together, and they all lead such fake lives. Maybe they aren't fake, but their lives are so fake." I've thought about what she said... a lot.

We all know that as much as people may look like it at times, they don't have it all together. Beneath the tinsel and glitter and merry laugh and impressive schedule, there are hurts and tears and frustrations and for some of them, the nagging question of why they even exist.

The more I get to know people, the more I realize that people are crying out for someone who is real. Christians and non-Christians. Smart people, simple people, pretty people, ugly people, slender people, fat people, talented people, people that lead boring lives, people that are in-between. Underneath our facades and smiles and "I'm fine's", we all long to just be real sometimes.

I'm learning more and more to value people who are real, even if real isn't impressive in some ways. It's just good and wholesome and lovable when people are honest. And I'm trying to learn to be more real. Sometimes I really can't explain everything in my life to them, but I can be real.

I remember going off to the Capitol so many early mornings when Mom would gently say, "Just be yourself, Mary. Don't try to impress anybody. Just be real. That's so much more valuable than being impressive."

At first, I would think, "Well, of course..." and then hustle on with my busy day. But as I spent more and more time in the world of politics and began to see that it is all one facade of very little substance and very few people who are real or honest, her words began to ring in my ears more and more every day.

I found myself walking down the halls, trying to lobby. But above the din one thought ran incessantly through my head. "Just be real. They are trying impress. You don't have to be fake. Just be your real self..."

It was some of the best advice Mom ever gave me when I was there, and it seems more true than ever today.

Just be real. Fake lives don't help anybody. People are drawn to real people. The truth is, none of us are real impressive. We're most impressive when we tell the truth about ourselves.

*** *** ***

I think I'll go home now... and hope I get some sleep before my cell phone rings again. :) Or that the call comes before I get all the way home...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Reading on Other Blogs

Ann Voskamp has an excellent post over on her Holy Experience blog -
No Missed Calls

And Natalie Nyquist has posted an update on the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship Blog which starts with a most excellent quote: "Don't waste your life trying to look good. Spend your life making God look good." - John Piper

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Fresh Coat of Paint

Our house has been in need of a fresh coat of paint for a long time... years to be exact. Most of us were rather tired of the boring, dingy gray it has been for so long. Ruth and Sam decided we needed something bright and fresh... and experimented with changing the house colors on a computer program. They finally even sold Mom and Dad on his choice of color - Silver Moss, with white accents.

And while I was gone for a few days this week (hosting a doula workshop) the family decided it was time to spruce things up. I came back home to a newly painted house!

Sam on the front porch roof - painting the trim.

Ruth touching up the window frames.

* * * *

We no longer have any family members who are younger than 13, but that certainly doesn't mean that the house is empty of little ones. Quite the contrary. There are almost always at least 1 or 2 babies or toddlers around, and frequently an assortment of other children. Thus, we had a lot of little helpers on painting day.

Gwen and Elisebeth - two little girls who wanted to help

Liz helps Thor paint the side of the porch.

And the girls hung up Maddox's swing in the nearby tree so he could watch, too.
We have him at our house on weekday mornings...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When Rough Seems the Path...

Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.
- C. H. Spurgeon

If we will look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our Heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessings, has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side. God's jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King's palace and the Bridegroom's love.
- A. B. Simpson

Do not pray for easy lives! Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
- Phillip Brooks

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tracy and Abigail's Wedding

It was cold, sooo cold, but beautiful!

"The work is hard, but the tips are good," the cellist quipped dryly.

Tracy and Abby didn't want anyone taking pictures during the ceremony,
so we had to restrain ourselves and keep the camera on our laps!

Goodbye to her favorite girls...


Congratulations, Abigail and Tracy!

Updates from Africa

As many of you know, two of my brothers, Isaiah and Abraham, are currently on a missions trip in Guinea-Bissau, Africa till early December.
For those of you who know them and want to keep up with their trip, you won't find them writing long, newsy updates... But our friend, Quinn went along on this trip and has been posting updates to his blog. We are so thankful for his updates since their chances to call home are few and far between.
Check out Quinn's Blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The God Who Is Enough

This past month has brought many challenges, struggles and questions in my life, which I cannot detail on a public blog, some of which simply raged privately in my own heart.

Some of the situations were ones that I had never imagined having to deal with. But here I was - things, people, decisions, situations staring me in the face.

I have found myself in a place of desperation over and over, my heart pounding, my stomach in knot. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I fail? What if I respond wrongly to this situation? What if I mistake God's will? Have I got myself in this place because of my own selfish or prideful choices? What will God do with this situation? How? What if I have foolishly ruined my testimony?

Time and again I have found myself in a place where I didn't know what to do. I couldn't fix it. I couldn't even walk on till I knew which way to walk.

Time and again, I have cried out to God in desperation... for answers, solutions, wisdom.

And I have found in Him just what I need. I have watched him turn situations around that I thought only had a couple of bad options. Instead He came through with a glorious miracle. And I have stood back in utter amazement that God truly can create beauty from ashes, not only in my life and heart, but in those around me. I have been shocked to see the work of God in the hearts of people that seemed impossible to reach.

A few weeks ago, I was begging God to deal with a situation and give me answers. And it dawned on me, that God might fix it in a way that would be more painful that I would ever want to imagine. I finally came to a place of surrendering it to God, and asking him to fix it no matter what the cost. I thought of David's response in II Samuel Chapter 24 when God offered him a choice of three punishments for his disobedience in numbering the people of Israel. David asked God to choose, saying that he knew that God was merciful. I, too, chose to fall on God's mercy and asked him to resolve it however He must, only to show me what to do. And God solved the seemingly gigantic problem with such a simple and beautiful solution that I was stunned. Again, the goodness of God, evident in my life.

A couple days ago, I received a shocking and horrible phone call in a very public place. Once again, my stomach in a knot, fighting tears, I could do nothing but cry out silently to my Heavenly Father once again. He has been my Rock. He has been Enough all of my life. I felt anything but peace about what the future could bring. But as my wild emotions churned inside, God gently whispered, "Have you forgotten what I have done for you already this month? Can I not solve this as easily as the other problems you have faced?"

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Ps. 23: 1-3

Though cold, dark winds are blowing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I fear no evil. I have never been in greener pastures than these. Never before have I seen my Shepherd's Hand on my life so keenly. I will walk on where He leads.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Camels and Needles on Election Day

This past month it seems that God has been trying to show me that He specializes in impossibilities....

It was Election Day. I was driving across town, praying for the souls of two men who I have come to care about deeply. This year they were running against each other for a top state government position. Their character left much to be desired. But in getting to know them, I had become more and more convicted of their need for a Savior -- far greater than my need for either one of them win or loose in the election. Sure, their election would affect my temporary, earthly life in some small way. But what about their never-dying souls?

They were both people in "high places" who I felt would be less likely to humble themselves before a Holy God than for "a camel to go through the eye of a needle." I prayed for it daily, but I really couldn't picture it happening.

This day their names were on every ballot across the state. I didn't even know anymore who should win that position. The whole situation was a confusing mess.

"God," I cried out, "They seem impossible to reach. Will they ever come to the end of themselves and cry out for mercy? Will they ever see what wretched souls they are before You? Will they ever see their desperate need for God?"

These men have flippantly joked about "Christian fanatics" and about people who get too serious about religion, the one making it especially clear that he thinks that religion and prayer and God are for grannies, not intelligent, educated, powerful men like him.

So, as my heart was heavy for him, I prayed, feeling useless and senseless and without any direction of what to even pray for him.

And then I got a text... from him. It said (among other things), "If you have any spare moments today, would you stop and pray for me?"

Pray for me?!

That was a weird statement, to be made by a man who doesn't believe in prayer. Why would he bother on the biggest day of his life to ask me to pray for him if he didn't think it would do some good?

Maybe he was starting to believe that God really does rule over the affairs of men. I remembered with gratefulness how this man had a few months earlier heard a powerful and moving testimony of an answer to prayer. I had thought that he couldn't have possibly forgot the story he heard, and I had prayed for months that God would use that story in his heart to remind him again and again of the greatness, justice, and holiness of God.

I replied that I was praying for him, and would continue to do so. But I didn't pray that he would win or loose the election. I prayed that God would use whatever it would take in his life and that of his opponent - winning or loosing (for both of them), to bring them both to an awareness of their need for a Saviour. It was hard not to tell God which one I wanted to win for my own comfort. Instead I asked God to use the election in the lives of these politicians to bring them to Himself. And then I left the results up to God.

The day after the election, the same man (who ended up winning) sent me another message. He sounded so different... humble... not like himself. "Thank you," it said, "For continuing to pray for me. I can't tell you what it means to me."

Wow. The man who didn't believe in prayer was now acknowledging his need for prayer. He has a lot of friends who are powerful and rich and pompous and clever . But he seemed to think that a little nobody like me might have a connection to the God he ought to know? I smiled. There was a glimmer of hope. Maybe a camel would go through the eye of a needle after all!

Once again, I was reminded that God is not limited by the limits of MY imagination or human possibilities.

I'm still praying for him, and asking God to continue bring the Truth of the Gospel before this man who lives in a world of the false pretense of politics. But his sincere requests for prayer have left me with a glimmer of hope that, yes, God can change the hearts of kings and rulers and He can bring them to their knees.

My only job is to be faithful to speak the truth and pray and let God work in their hearts. God can do what I can't imagine, and that is my prayer for both of these men.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Die, Son; But Do Not Sin

Die, son:
but do not sin.
It is too high a price
for living -
if "life" it can be called
to wallow
(briefly even)
in that which God forbids.
Satan has desired you:
he will not use
revolting sins
to lure,
but "lovely" ones,
and "pure"
(or so they seem);
far better you should die
and clean
than craven-hearted,
weak of will
and mean,
your birthright you should sell
for a mere mess of pottage,
squander your inheritance
in wild living,
then fain
fill your belly with
the husks of swine.

Would you trade
fellowship with Him
for tarnished coin
and raveled end of rope?

God's hand is on you, son;
far better then
the furnace, seven-times heated,
the denned and starving lions,
the stones that honored Stephen,
or a cross. . .

The choice is yours:
God grant you
eyes to see
and ears to hear,
a loyal heart
and will of steel,
forged to His will,
sound in His fear.

So. . .
but do not sin;

such death
is not life's end -
but its beginning.

~ Ruth Bell Graham, Collected Poems

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October Reflections

I'm back home again!
I'm another year older!
My brothers just left for Africa till December!
We are about to see a new leader of the free world - scary!
Whew! Life just never seems to slow down...

...But in the moments that I stop to savor what God has given me, I find life to be unutterably good and precious.

My birthday has always been a time of sober reflection, of realizing how quickly my life is passing. But two years ago, my birthday took on a new angle of sober reflection. How long I could have been gone from this earth. After my car accident on my birthday in 2006 where the paramedics told me that I had come a couple of inches of metal away from death, I now have something additional to think about.
This birthday, as I thought about it, I realized that I could have easily already have been dead and gone for the past 2 years. Does that sound morbid? It's reality, and as much as any of us like to think of a full and happy life, the truth is that we only have today. Tomorrow we may find ourselves staring eternity in the face.

If my life were to end tomorrow, would I be happy with the way I have chosen to spend my days?
If my life were to end tomorrow, would I leave behind a clear slate - good relationships with my fellow man, a good conscience toward God and man?

If my life were to end tomorrow, would I find that I had given up much of eternal value only to gain the temporal joys that my heart craves?

Or would I find myself in the presence of the Treasure which I had sold all for?

Monday, October 20, 2008


One quick thought in my absence:
Pastor Jay Folk from New York came down and preached at Bethesda the week after Family Camp. Something he said has continued to echo through my head :

"The soul that stops praising God will stop serving God."

How is your gratefulness meter doing this week?


I'm away from home for a short while, taking some time for studying and working on one of my books. I'm trying to limit answering my cell phone and keeping up with my email, so don't expect to hear from me unless you leave me a very urgent message!

I'll be back sometime next week, after which blogging and communication shall (hopefully!) resume as usual!

Until I'm back, take some time and check out my favorite bloggers - see the side bar. They have some excellent things to say, and I just added a few new links last week.

Have a wonderful rest-of-October!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Think Through Me

Think through me, Thoughts of God,
My Father, quiet me,
Till in Thy holy presence, hushed,
I think Thy thoughts with Thee.

Think through me, Thoughts of God,
That always, everywhere,
The stream that through my being flows,
May homeward pass in prayer.

Think through me, Thoughts of God,
And let my own thoughts be
Lost like sand-pools on the shore
Of the eternal sea.

- Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quotes by Oswald Chambers

~All God's revelations are sealed to us until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God's truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. Obey God in the thing He is at present showing you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. We read tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit when... five minutes of drastic obedience would make things clear as a sunbeam. We say, "I suppose I shall understand these things some day." You can understand them now: it is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens up and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself till you obey what you know already.

~Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. It will cost everything that is not of God in us.

~Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.

-- Oswald Chambers,
author of "My Utmost for His Highest"

Bestest Girlfriends

Mary, Aneysa, Abby, Jemima (Oct. 2008)

The quote, "You'll be the same person you are today in five years except for the friends you choose and the books you read..." often echoes through my head. While perhaps not entirely true, I think it's more true than many of us imagine.

I've been blessed with so many dear friends over the years who have shaped me into the person I am today, not the least of whom are my family members.

I am so grateful that God has placed people in my path to show me what I never would have seen without them, to do what I never would have done without them, and to inspire me to follow God in ways that I never would have without their encouragement.

One of those long-time friends and kindred spirits is Aneysa. As girls, the letters used to fly back and forth between our mailboxes at an astounding rate. Now as grown women, we both find ourselves living at an often frantic pace - her with Suzuki piano teaching, me with midwifery causes. Now, more than ever in the midst of our busy lives and the lack of time to write good old-fashioned letters or even call each other very often, we cherish the moments we have together.

In spite of many of my girlhood friends changing their dreams, loves and ideals that we once shared, I love the fact that Aneysa hasn't changed her love of femininity and womanhood. She and I still both love twirly skirts and old fashioned classics and girly things and love to dream about being wives and mothers someday. We love our big families and cherish the moments we have to spend time with them. Most of all, we both desire to please God more than anything else. And as different as our lives are in some ways, we find that it all comes back to that anyway.

Each of us have a sister a few years younger... Abigail and Jemima, who have been friends nearly as long as their big sisters. So, when we make time for a breakfast out together we're rarely a pair - it's usually a four-some.

Except Abigail is getting married in a couple more weeks. Wow... Time has flown! We spent Saturday at her bridal shower (the above picture was taken there) and vowed to get together at least once more - just the four of us - before Abby's a married woman.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
"What! You, too? Thought I was the only one." - C. S. Lewis

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Camp Friends

We were so happy that the Baldwin family
from Tennessee made it back this year!
(L-R:) Sam B., Matt B., Anna B., Grace S., Ruth U.,
Sarah B., Elisabeth B., Jon C., Mary U.

Abe and Emily.
Sometimes me thinks that we give Emily entirely too much attention...
but she's so cute and funny that it's impossible to ignore her!

Me enjoying Jessa's antics.
With a new baby sister, she seemed happy for some attention! : )