Sunday, September 30, 2007

God is good, ALL the time!

Story Number One

The day dawned beautifully - with list in hand, accompanied by my two favorite ladies, (mom and sister) we headed off for a day of shopping in a large city not often frequented by us. Necessity was demanding it, and deadlines were rapidly approaching as we tentatively drove into the hustle and bustle of this town we normally try to avoid. Full of shopping centers, but very unfamiliar to us, it took courage for us country bumpkins to venture so far.

My list was not terribly long, but the items on it were expensive. Season changes and an upcoming trip made it seem like everything was crashing down on me at once, and I was not at all looking forward to the huge dent this trip would put in my checkbook. My thrifty, "make-do" nature caused me to balk a bit, yet as I prayerfully pondered everything on my list, the Lord granted perfect peace. I didn't know what the day would hold, but I felt confident the Lord would go before us at every stop.

The day far exceeded my highest expectations. I could go into great lengths describing our various stops. From the fabric store having a huge box out front with the exact fabric we needed, complete with garbage bags you could stuff full for $5, to finding several high quality, normally expensive items, almost brand-new at the thrift store, to a $150 item marked down to $50, to %50 off sales - every single thing I needed was provided in such a way. My expenditure was only a quarter of what I anticipated, and many of the items greater quality than I had planned on purchasing. (When will I ever learn to expect great things of God and cease to be surprised at His awesomeness?!!)

Needless to say, my heart was overflowing by the end of that shopping trip. My excitement at God's blessings was only heightened with a highly-anticipated package waiting for me at home. I felt overwhelmed with this knowledge and proof of God's goodness!

Story Number Two

Anticipation was high as our family busily prepared for our guests. We were hosting our first ever Fall Festival, and everything seemed to be falling together perfectly. 10 gallons of chili were made for our expected 100+ attendants, arrangements were made nearby for hay rides and a trip through a large corn maze, bushels of cider apples and a press were set up, a volleyball court arranged, decorations perfected, 1500 songs printed for our hymn sing, a fire pit prepared, and s'more material ready in abundance. Everything seemed to be coming together flawlessly.

As I sit here at my computer the day after, the rain is coming down at a steady rate. This is what we started experiencing the morning of our final preparations. We prayed, we hoped......forecasts were questionable, and the drizzle that turned into a downpour right before our guests started arriving seemed almost too much for our hopeful hearts to comprehend. We really had no backup plan - we had never fit 100 people in our house before, and really didn't anticipate creating a new record that day.

Nevertheless, our guests started arriving, and it was still raining. Our house soon became full, in spite of our efforts to consolidate furniture and figure out eating arrangements.

I'll admit my faith faltered. I couldn't understand why God had allowed such a drastic turn in events in something that was so clearly led by Him. Why did our hopes have to be let down? Why hadn't God answered our prayers for clear weather? Why wasn't He blessing this gathering with the weather that we needed? What were we going to do? How was a crowded house of people supposed to find anything enjoyable about the event?

The awkwardness of the situation nearly overwhelmed me. I allowed myself to become blinded with the unfairness of what God was doing to us, (so it seemed to me) all while my dear family tried their very best to encourage me with the bright side of everything that I was having such a hard time seeing. "God has a plan in even this," they kept saying, yet I couldn't see it.

Miraculously, later in the afternoon, the weather cleared enough for the hayride. It was beautiful. The bright colors, the restful scenery and quiet, the white-tail deer looking curiously at us, and the wild turkeys all helped to calm my heart and help me face reality. Quietly, God brought the question to my heart. "Am I only good, and are My blessings only evident to your heart when things go the way you want them to? Am I any less of a good, benevolent God now than during that shopping trip you had a week ago? Are My blessings contingent only upon your plans and agendas in life?"Ouch. I needed that hayride. I needed that quiet. And God so graciously used this unwanted turn of events to teach me a valuable lesson. Granted, there are much more important things in life than good deals and festive gatherings, yet I'm grateful for a Father that uses these "little" things in life to teach me big life lessons that will carry me through the harder things the future will likely hold.

Later that evening in the town hall the Lord provided for our hymn sing, the ringing notes of 'Great is Thy Faithfulness,' reminded me again of the incredibly faithful, loving God we serve. He is faithful amidst the happy, blessed times that we understand and easily embrace. He is faithful when the skies turn gray, and circumstances come our way that we didn't ask for. His blessings are still there amidst those hard times. His goodness is still evident to the soul that is looking through the eyes of faith. Truly, God is good ALL the time!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brokenness...

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24

The only way to win our life is to lose it. We think we are giving up so much by dying. But in reality, it is those who refuse to die who are giving up everything.

When we chose the pathway of brokenness and humility we are choosing to receive new life - His supernatural abundant life - flowing in us and through us.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Brokenness the Heart God Revives

I do hope to post something more significant soon - life has been very busy though! I've got a couple things in the works, and am just waiting for time to finish them!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Character




"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
~ Helen Keller

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Beauty of Being Nothing


God creates out of nothing.
Therefore until a man is nothing,
God can make nothing out of Him.
-Martin Luther


The more I see of myself and the more I learn of Him, the more I am astonished that He can ever have given me a place among His children. It is only at the foot of the cross we see ourselves, the world, and God in the true light.... There alone can we form true impressions....
-Hudson Taylor

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days


Once every year, Pepin, WI, one of the homes of the Laura of 'Little House on the Prairie' hold two "Laura Days." Full of traditional crafts, old-fashioned games, a spelling bee, Laura contest, and the famed fiddle contest, it is an anticipated yearly event for our family.




The re-enactments ranged from blacksmithing, pottery, traditional instruments, hand carved toys, rug and basket weaving, candle dipping, and open-fire cooking. Having dear friends as some of the demonstrators was a special treat!



Tasty lunch cooking!

Tasty lunch enjoyed!

This year also held some bittersweet times for several there. Last year, at this same occasion, we shared some of our last memories with Jamie Hilsgen. Killed in a tragic accident last November, his always cheerful and upbeat presence has been sorely missed by many. The family has bravely continued on, trusting the Lord amidst this huge loss, yet the pain will never entirely leave....

Last year, Naomi sat enraptured hearing the fiddles play. We soon started hearing her talk about playing violin. Not really taking her seriously, we put her off. Her persistence continued however, and a year ago at this time, God answered our whole families desire in an amazing way. The incredible story of answered prayer can be read here!


I have observed that there is not a stronger influence in musicianship than an intense interest and desire. Seeing my siblings dreams become reality through prayer and honest work has been exciting for me to watch. Seeing them grow from the required piano lessons into an instrument of their choice has been a delight! Their diligence and enthusiasm is an encouragement to me, and well represents the verse, "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might." This diligence has been re-payed by an ability to 'play skillfully unto the Lord with a loud noise.' Many are the loud sounds in our home these days, and it is such a joy!

Every since last year, Naomi has wanted to play in the fiddle contest at Laura days. Her dream was realized yesterday.... With bow in hand, accompanied by two of her sisters, she excitedly took her place on stage. She had a blast in you can't tell by the picture! Minutes before her turn came, she was actually ansty to get up there, hardly being able to contain her excitement. The meat for breakfast must have worked!!

It must have really worked, for among the 18 contestants in her division, she took second place!! We were so excited! Her motivation has increased tenfold, and she is already looking forward to, and preparing for next year!

I know I've said it before, but it's worth saying again! I'm so grateful for the gift of music! Whether a listener, or a participant, everyone is affected by this wonderful creation of the Lord's. Through the ups and downs of our family's musical pursuits, I pray this truth would never leave our hearts. Like every other gift given to us, it is to be offered back to Him, and used for His glory. Now that is exciting!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Overheard....:-)

Being part of a large family holds it's laughs as so many different tastes and personalities are represented.

This particular morning, 9-year-old Naomi was attentively listening to her violin teacher's tips for the fiddle contest she would soon be playing in.

"Now, be sure to eat a good breakfast. Having an empty stomach will not help your nervousness at all! Eating some protein for breakfast, especially meat would be a good choice."

I could see Naomi's mind racing a hundred miles an hour. Being the type that takes everything ultra seriously, and knowing her fondness for (in our home) rarely seen breakfast meat, I knew I would hear more about this.

Sure enough, that evening she earnestly talks to dad about her required duty. :-)

"Dad, and my teacher said I have to eat lots of meat for breakfast. She said that if I don't eat meat, I'll get really nervous and won't be able to play as well. I would be so embarrassed for everyone to hear my stomach growl up there because I didn't eat meat!"

Update to follow! Her very first fiddle contest is this afternoon and we are excited!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Worship in Everyday Life

So will I build my altar in the fields
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be
And the sweet fragrance that the wildflower yield
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oswald Chambers

When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God's purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.
-Oswald Chambers