Thursday, June 28, 2007

Little Happenings

"She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar....Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." Prov. 31:14, 31

Eight pails of berries....

Three pairs of industrious hands....

An afternoon of labor....

A beautiful "little" sister, so fast maturing into the beauties of womanhood...

...all equals 25 quarts of frozen delights for the rest of the year, and a heart full of gratitude for the blessings of the Lord! For the first time ever, my sweetest of 12-year-old sisters headed up this yearly job with amazing results!! I love you, Lucy!!

And just in time too! Tomorrow, our family heads out west for a four-day mini-vacation, taking in both a family reunion and wedding. Prayers would be greatly coveted, especially as our family mingles and minsters among many unsaved relatives. Our desire is that every word, song, action, and attitude would be a vibrant testimony of Jesus Christ to our dear ones! Our family will be playing and singing together at the reunion, and I am pretty much in charge of the wedding music the day before. We want only Jesus Christ to be lifted up, and in such an obvious way, that no one will be able to ignore it.

I am also feeling desperately in need of a retreat. I don't know how much time this trip will offer, but I'm really praying for enough leisure time to spend some quality time with my family, and with the Lord. I've been nearly working myself sick lately with a hectic schedule, and all of our family just needs some time to step back for a season of rest. I'm really praying, that somehow, somehow amidst some challenging circumstances, that this trip would afford some of that needed rest! I would be very grateful for your prayers, that satan would not hinder this, but grant all of us a more rested, and refreshed frame of mind when we return. Thank you, and the Lord's blessings to each of you!

Unfulfilled Desires

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Phil. 4:11-13

"How would we ever learn contentment if we didn't have unfulfilled desires and longings? If we had everything we wanted the moment we wanted it, we would be satisfied with things of this earth and not have to learn the joy and the blessings of a contented heart that is satisfied with God alone." -Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Through the Furnace

I couldn't resist posting this link to an article that really blessed me. Enjoy!

The Furnace

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Oswald Chambers

"Abide in Me..." John 15:4

Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? It does not matter what my circumstances are. I can be as much assured of abiding in Jesus in any one of them as I am in any prayer meeting. It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord's inner abiding was pure and unblemished. He was at home with God wherever His body was. He never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father's plans and directions for Him.
-Oswald Chambers

As an eagle uses the stormy winds of life to rise to greater heights, so must we use the winds of adversity and temptation to cast us upon a Savior who will bear us up on these same eagle's wings. No circumstance is too difficult to be absent of the potential to be draw us ever closer to our Saviour. Let us view these times of opposition as merely a springboard to be launched into greater depths and heights with Him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Music Update

This last weekend, our family learned a very important lesson. Music stores are dangerous. Deadly dangerous to non-motivated musicians, and similarly dangerous to dedicated musicians. Monotonous practice times fade into nothing when one's gaze is sent on walls full of tempting guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, and dobros, and already enjoyed practice times turn into hours as one dreams of the day when they'll outgrow their instrument and need to buy a new one. Time has no value anymore, as one after another instrument is tested, played and drooled over.

Music stores are also dangerous for the pocketbook. This we also learned. Yet, music stores are good for the heart. There is nothing quite so satisfying as picking up the instrument of your choice, and letting your hands speak of the overflow of your heart. There are few things as enjoyable as a good ol' fashioned family jam, when a song is made through for the very first time. The breathless grins, and then the inevitable outbreak of laughter and squeals of delight when we realized that we just made it completely through a song for the first time without stopping!!!

A music update is long overdue. Since the Lord dropped five instruments in our lap last September, He has greatly, and over flowingly blessed our family. This last weekend was the cherry on top and has left me so grateful for this gift God bestowed upon mankind - the gift of music.

Little did we know when we stepped our foot into Homestead Pickin' Parlor for some instruments maintenance and repair, that we would not see the other side of the door until over two hours later. Time stood still as each of us gently picked up the instrument of our dreams, and thought about 'someday' as we gently brushed it's strings. I couldn't help but smile at my brother, as he sat in the corner for over thirty minutes with a Regal resonator guitar in his lap. He has dreamed of owning such an instrument for over a year, and has been diligently saving every penny possible. He's even gone to the great lengths of hoeing eight hour days in 95 degree heat for those precious pennies. Little did he know, that his instrument is already ordered, and should be arriving this next week for the grandest surprise he has ever had in his life!! Pictures will be forthcoming on that special day!!

Little did mom suspect that we would be leaving with the instrument of her dreams. Hammered dulcimers have always seemed to me a perfect "mommy instrument," and our family has been no exception. Prices had thus far been quite daunting, so when we saw the used but in brand new condition dulcimer in the corner, and for a price we could afford, sparks and prayers started to fly! The long and short of it is, mom now has her dulcimer, and can hardly stay away from it! Finally being able to be a part of the family's music is such a joy for her!!

After prying ourselves away from the music store, our excitement had a little bit
of time to settle down as we enjoyed an early Father's Day picnic. We had forgot our appetites in the music store, but boy oh boy, as soon as we left we were so ready to eat! Fried chicken, chips, cold salads, and cookies never tasted so good before!

Our picnic was cut a bit short by the urgency to make it to our next appointment. The long-awaited senior recital of our dear friend Christina was something we did not want to be late for!! It was all we expected and more. Chopin's Valse Brilliant was performed with flair, and Mozart's complete violin concerto #4 left us breathless. "And Can It Be" was played with my favorite pianist, my own dear piano teacher, and an original composition by Christina was accompanied by Vivace
Strings - the string ensemble I once so thoroughly enjoyed being a part of. A family-sung arrangement of "Be Thou My Vision" left me extremely inspired, and the wonderful recital was topped off with the hauntingly beautiful fiddle waltz, "Ashokan Farewell," accompanied by Christina's sister. Christina's love and dedication to the Lord made all her music sparkle and glow with life, and reminded me afresh of how God can used something solely dedicated to Him.

We proceeded on to her open house, when we greatly enjoyed meeting the Alzen family - some people in our area who we've long been desiring to get in contact with. Their addition, along with Christina's family and others made for a greatly enjoyable musical evening! I feel that we came away with so much!!

And just in time too. The Lord is starting to open doors for our own family music ministry - way sooner than we ever anticipated or feel ready for. Yet, God's leading has been clear, and out of our weakness and inability, may HE be glorified. Just today, we were asked to play at a local county fair next month for an hour. We've been struggling to get ready for a 15 minute onstage performance in August, so as you can imagine this is a bit overwhelming. We are so excited though!! The opportunity to let the light of Christ shine in such a public place by verbal testimony, and the living testimony of a family is awesome to think about. Do pray for us if you think of it! After a two-hour practice session this evening, we all are realizing a little more clearly what this is going to involve! Lots and LOTS of just plain old hard work!! Wisdom is much needed on my end as I'm the chief music arranger and practice coordinator, and patience for everyone!! I'm sure you fellow musicians can well relate!! :-)

I guess I'm just feeling very overwhelmed with God's blessings poured out upon our family's lives. It is far more than we deserve, and I hope and pray that our hearts will remain in the place where HE alone will receive all the honor and praise through the abilities He has given us. I anticipate seeing what HE will do!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Expendable Christianity

Lately, I've been greatly enjoying listening to 'Revive Our Hearts' on my Mp3 player while working in the fields. This quote really, really challenged me. While written to a young man, it is a clarion call to all Christians. May it be true of my life!

As never before, God is calling for expendables. He is watching for men to match the mountains of opportunity; He is looking for youth who will say, 'I will face this hour and find my place in it, and if I perish, I perish.'

We need men who will put God first. I would that we had young men driven along by a mighty vision of what God could do if only He possessed them. I believe young men of today are going to do things that will stagger this generation, but all this will pass. We must have young men to deal with things not of time, but of eternity.

-Henrietta Mears

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

God's Ways

When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty. If it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility.
-Charles Inwood

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Joy Unspeakable

"The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall He rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hath not witholden the request of his lips. Selah. For thou met him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold upon his head...thou hast made him most blessed forever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance." Ps. 21:1-3, 6

This morning during church, a brother read this Psalm, and it immensely blessed me! Life has slowed down for me a bit these last couple days, and as I've been pondering what to post, writer's block seemed to be hitting me from every corner. My heart is full and overflowing, but how to transfer what is there into words has been a challenge for me. However, when this Psalm was read, I nearly jumped with excitement at this "springboard" that was dropped in my lap!

Life has been immeasurably sweet for me lately. To quote a friend's blog,

"If joy is strength, then I must be the strongest woman alive. If mirth is a medicine, then I must be about the healthiest woman alive. If one could die laughing, I am a dead woman."

I had to chuckle at that! It so sums up what I've been feeling the last several months! There have been times recently that I've thought that if God dumps any more blessings and happiness into my life, I'm simply going to pop! There are many days that I honestly feel like I could take off running and just start flying for the sheer joy of living!

I can't think of a time in my life when I've been happier. You may ask why? I've asked myself that many times in the recent past. What has changed? Why is life so immeasurably sweeter than I have ever experienced before?

I think much of it has come from the deeper realization of what, or rather Who, is the source of true joy. Though I have a million things to be grateful for, those "things" are not the source of my happiness. Though at this point in my life, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining, if it were to turn gray and stormy, that Source would remain constant and unmovable.

Recently I re-read the autobiography of Darlene Deibler Rose. 'Evidence Not Seen' is the story of a newly married bride, who, with her husband, were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. Caught in the cross-hairs of WWII, they were captured by the Japanese, and sent to separate prison camps to endure the duration of the war. Darlene endured unimaginably circumstances in her captivity, only to be hit with the news of the death of her husband some months before her release.

Though I had read this book before, it impacted me in a remarkable way this time. I literally wept my way through it's pages - not moved so much by the atrocious things she endured, but because of the evidence of God's loving hand upon her life. As the Hebrew writer states, faith is the "evidence of things not seen," and her life is one of the most incredible testimonies I have read of someone's unwavering trust and belief in a Father who only gives good gifts to His children.

As I read, I also became very excited at what she was experiencing in her walk with the Lord. Though she was locked in a dank prison cell, she stated triumphantly that no one could lock her dear Lord out. Her life and character were not built around the circumstances she was placed in, but in the promises of her Lord. As she chose to yield herself to what He was allowing, she was filled with joy overflowing.

My family brings me immense joy, yet if they were all taken away, I would have joy in the strength of the Lord. I value my health, yet if I were left wasting and sick, I could find fullness of joy in the presence of my Savior. All material comfort could be stripped from my possession, yet the blessings and goodness from the Lord could never be taken away. I could be shut away from all friends and the sweetness of Christian fellowship, yet the joy of my salvation and redemption could never be shut out of my heart. Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone is the source of all joy and happiness, and praise be to God, HE has promised to never leave and forsake me!

I don't know what the path ahead of me holds. Suffering and persecution is promised to ALL that live a godly life. This could be a source of worry. Yet, testimonies like Darlene's has given me the confidence to walk forward, trusting Him for each next step. Life is given to live one day at a time, and sufficient grace is promised to meet each new challenge as it's given!

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part? Ah, with what a rest of bliss, Christ can fill the loving heart! Heaven and earth may fade and flee, Firstborn light in gloom decline; But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Still alive and well

Despite my scarceness lately, I'm still around, just extremely, over flowingly busy!! Between a heavy work schedule, hosting a native missionary family from India, a day pontooning with my family, open houses, music lessons, gardening.....and my list could go on! I won't bore you, but needless to say, I've had very, very little time for writing! Hopefully soon you'll see me around a bit more - for now I'll leave you with several snapshots that should be worth the thousand words that I simply can't write in the 15 minutes before I need to rush off with my sister to a violin lesson!!!

Blessings to you all!!