Friday, September 22, 2006

Lessons in Life

After an extremely busy last couple weeks, I'm forcing myself to sit down and at least write a little of something before I take off. For those of you who check my blog frequently, thank you for your patience!! Fall is a hectic time of year because of harvest and canning, and blogging has had to take much less of a priority.

The Lord has opened an opportunity for me to fly down to CO for a week, (I leave tomorrow) where I will be attending a youth Bible school centering on missions and evangelism. As well as having some interesting and inspiring sounding speakers, we'll be doing some college campus witnessing and street preaching/singing etc. I'm looking forward to this for the most part, though I must admit my flesh is trembling a bit! It will be a very stretching, but I'm sure a very rewarding time. Keep me in your prayers if you think of it! I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord wants to teach me, and my desire is to keep a tender, open heart before Him. Hopefully I'll be able to cover the week in depth when I return. Until then, you'll have to exercise patience again as I'll have no opportunity to blog while there. :-)

I was very blessed today in reading a quote by an unknown author off of a friend's blog, and thought it fit so well with what the Lord has been teaching me lately.
"Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping, praying for others when you need to be prayed for, feeding others when your own soul is hungry, living truth before people even when you can't see results, hurting with other people even when your own hurt can't be spoken, keeping your word even when it is not convenient, it is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away."
In a large family, it's easy to identify with many of these feelings, and I think the Lord has been bringing an extra measure of stresses along lately to teach me that His grace is just as abundant and even more so when I have absolutely nothing more in myself to give. What a precious principle and promise that Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness!

I leave you for a bit with a poem that has meant a lot to me. Blessings to you all!

Is not the way to heavenly gain
Through earthly grief and loss?

Rest must be won by toil and pain -

The crown repays the Cross.

As woods, when shaken by the breeze,

Take deeper, firmer root,

As winter's frosts but make the trees

Abound in summer fruit;

So every heaven-sent pang and throe

That Christian firmness tries,

But nerves us for our work below,

And forms us for the skies.

- Henry Francis Lyte

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A gold mine at our fingertips

Precious thing are deeply hidden. Pebbles and stones and autumn leaves abound everywhere, but gold and silver and precious stones are hidden deep in the bowels and rocky ribs of the earth; shells cover the sea-shore, but pearls are hidden in it's depths. And so with truth. Some truths may lie on the surface of the Bible, but those that will altogether satisfy and distinguish us and make us wise unto salvation are found only after diligent search, even as for hid treasure. -Samuel Logan Brengle

I open it, my fingers trace the lines
That Wesley's, Moody's, Spurgeon's eyes have scanned.
Beneath my fingertips a promise shines,
A diamond unearthed by my seeking hand,
A gem that countless saints have touched before
And left among this jewel casket's store.

I searched as one who searches long for gold

And oh, what gleaming nuggets I unearthed.

All that my seeking heart and hands can hold

I gather, and I know their precious worth,
And strange, the vein has never failed, though man

Has mined it's channel since the world began.

The Holy Book, That gives it's wealth unpriced

To every seeker after God and Christ.

-Grace Noll Crowell

Monday, September 11, 2006

Prayer Answered!

Once again I stand in awe at God's amazing ability to answer prayer, and to fulfill the desires He has placed there. For many years, our family and my siblings especially have wanted to take on a second instrument. It has been my dad's dream for as long as I can remember to play and sing together as a family. We've all had piano lessons starting at a young age, but for some, this hasn't really been their area of interest. It's been more of a "have-to" sort of thing, while imaginations were running wild with the dozens of other available instruments.

I remember several times over the past five years visiting music stores, or perusing the ads in the newspaper looking for just the right instrument. A couple years ago we thought we had found a banjo for my brother, but the people weren't as negotiable on the price as we had hoped. Either the instrument has not been right, or the price too high. All have been put back on the display rack with a sigh, and a wistful hoping for "someday."

A couple weeks ago hopes and desires were rekindled in all of us after hearing the Wissman Family play at an event near us, and the house was literally abuzz with plans and dreams of how we could make this happen. Looking at it from our human perspective, it was an impossibility. A second instrument for seven of us! We were having a hard time even figuring out how to manage the badly needed upgrade for my guitar! In pouring out my frustrations to a friend that Sunday, she reminded me of how the Lord brought along my first guitar. That's a long story in itself, but suffice it to say it did not cost me a penny. That guitar was literally prayed in, and I was reminded again that we as a family just needed to bring these desires to the Lord, and trust Him for the fulfillment of them in His time.

That same afternoon that I was challenged to pray about it, I was playing my guitar, and my eyes were drawn to my violin sitting in the corner. I bought this upper model instrument about six years ago in anticipation of taking lessons, but our move to WI shortly after that left me without a teacher, and an expensive violin that just sat around collecting dust. I have tried numerous times in the past five years to sell it, but all attempts have been completely unsuccessfully. About a year ago after much money had been spent in advertising, I felt the Lord telling me to wait, and that He would provide a clear buyer in His own time. I was satisfied with that, and hardly even gave it a thought so completely was it in the Lord's hands.

That afternoon, as I looked, I remembered a instrument catalog that had just come in the mail a couple days before. There was an column on the front advertising the option to trade in your instrument. I had previously tried to sell my violin to them, but had never mentioned trading. I knew that he sold advanced model violins, and I started getting really, really excited when my family was all for the idea. In contacting New Creation Music the next day, he was not very promising as my instrument is American custom made and not in high demand, but he promised to do the best he could. Though he didn't give us much encouragement, we all felt the Lord was clearly directing, and just trusted that everything was going to work out.

That next Tuesday, Mr. Purdon called us back with an offer that left us reeling. Though he wasn't able to compensate all that I had spent on the violin initially, what he did buy it for covered all the costs of a new instrument for most of us. My brother got his long desired banjo, my sister a 1/2 size violin, another brother got a bass guitar, another sister a mandolin, and myself a new guitar, and just this last weekend, we got a hammered dulcimer for my mom from some good friends.

This all has been such a neat opportunity for my siblings (and myself! :-) to see the amazing ability God has to answer prayer. It's been an encouragement to place those dreams and desires of ours more fully into His hands, and trust that if it's truly a desire from Him, He will fulfill it in His time! It's also been a challenge to us to bring even those little things to Him. Today it was raining pretty steadily just as we were driving to an orchard to pick our year's apples, and we specifically prayed that God would stop the rain just long enough so we wouldn't get soaked. It was so exciting for all of us to see how He answered yet another prayer in a very clear, and amazing way! I believe God takes delight when His children trust Him enough to give Him the opportunity to prove Himself to be the faithful, loving, prayer answering God that He is!

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take His at His word,
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved His o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Surrender; A Sacrificed Will - Part 4

This past summer, as some of you have probably noticed, I've been thinking a lot about surrender and how it is practically lived out in a Christian's life. God has been teaching me this from many different angles through many different circumstances, and this last week I've been thinking especially about how this relates in the area of desires. We all know the verse,"Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart," but do we realize that to delight in essence means to desire what pleases God far above anything else? It's to take pleasure in what He takes pleasure in, and as we delight in Him, He then can fill us with His desires and give us a blessing far beyond what we ever dreamed.

I really appreciated how this poem brought this principle out. When we surrender our will and desires to the Lord, He often takes them for a time, purifies and purges them, and then gives them back to us stamped with His likeness and in a greater measure than what we ever thought possible. Just as God gave Abraham back his heart's desire after Isaac was completely laid on the altar of surrender, so God will fulfill His promise in giving us our heart's desire once it is purged of all but a consecration to the Lord's will.

Laid on Thine altar, O my Lord divine,
Accept my will this day, for Jesus' sake;
I have no jewels to adorn Thy shrine,
Nor any world-proud sacrifice to make;
But here I bring within my trembling hand
This will of mine- a thing that seemeth small;
And Thou alone, O God, canst understand
How, when I yield Thee this, I yield my all.

Hidden therein, Thy searching gaze can see
Struggles of passion-visions of delight-
All that I love, and am, and fain would be;
Deep loves, fond hopes and longings infinite.
It hath been wet with tears and dimmed with sighs,
Clinched in my grasp, till beauty hath it none.
Now, from Thy footstool where it vanquished lies,
The prayer ascendeth, "May Thy will be done."

Take it, O Father, ere my courage fail,
And merge it so in Thine own will, that e'en
If, in some desperate hour, my cries prevail
And Thou give back my will, it may have been
So changed, so purified, so fair have grown,
So one with Thee, so filled with love divine,
I may not see or know it as my own,
But, gaining back my will, may find it Thine.

-Morne Wallis

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Place of Rest Amidst the Storms of Life

Many apoligizes for my long absence. Life has been full - terribly full, and blogging has been very low on my priority list lately. With canning season fully upon us, a wedding to prepare for, company, loads of sewing, allergies to deal with, fall perennials to plant, and a trip to CO coming up in a couple weeks, it's been all I can do to keep my head above water. Stress has been high, struggles have been many and varied, but through it all, God always brings refreshing when I need it. Just when I'm not sure if I can take the stress anymore, God drops a couple hours of fellowship with out of state friends, an afternoon of singing with young people I hadn't seen for several months, an unexpected "heart-sharing" with a dear friend, or a kindred spirit found in a new friend. What a blessing fellow-Christians are! I'm so thankful God designed the body of Christ to build up and bring encouragement to one another!

Amidst the busyness, the importance of that morning time with the Lord has been pressed upon me in a new way. As refreshing and encouraging as fellowship with others can be, there's nothing like getting encouragement and strength straight from the Lord in our hour of need. Like an unknown author so beautifully puts it,
"Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night, when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to recieve the refereshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from the quiet lingering in the Master's presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence. ...dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind; so the peace of God does not come forth to rest the soul until the still point is reached."
This quiet heart is not easy to maintain amidst the stresses and strains of life, but like I mentioned in a previous post, having the proper perspective on priorites goes a long ways in encouraging it! He is faithful to give the grace where it is needed, and I'm so thankful for these times of stretching, if nothing else just to prove His love and care in giving enough grace to help in time of need.