Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Sweetness....

Picnics with the family.... 



Beautiful Walks... 


Figuring out the map at the park...

'Twas a full, but very blessed weekend! Hope to be back to blogging at some point!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Life in the Ring of Fire

Volcan Agua from the vantage point of 'Cerro De La Cruz'

I had never stopped to ponder before making my 6-week trip to Guatemala that I was headed to the land of earthquakes and volcanos. It didn't take me too long to become informed. 

Four days after I arrived in Guatemala, I was sitting in class, and at the same time that I heard a bus roaring past, the whole room shook a little side to side. The feeling was similar to the vibrations caused from a large vehicle, but only on a much larger scale. My teacher told me it wasn't caused from the bus, it was a temblor - or earthquake tremor. 

A cloudy bit of Fuego behind the arch. 
These temblors are quite common in Guatemala, and the people welcome them rather than fear them. It hopefully means pressures isn't building up for a catastrophic earthquake that has destroyed Guatemala several times in the past. During my six weeks there, there were around a dozen temblors, but this was the only one I felt. One was actually quite large during the night - made the newspapers and everything and scared quite a few people. I just had to sleep right through it. Yeah - I was pretty disgusted with myself. 

That temblor four days after I arrived is very likely linked to the major eruption Volcan Pacaya saw that evening. This was it's third major eruption in all of history, and shut down Guatemala City and the international airport for a week due to the ash coating the city. Fortunately, only five people were killed, but unfortunately for me, tourism on the volcano was pretty much shut down. This was the #1 spot I wanted to visit as it is one of the few places in the world where you can stand next to rivers of flowing lava and roast your marshmallows. :-) I so wanted to see this in person as shown in the picture below.... Oh well, perhaps this allure will just manage to draw me back to Guatemala some time. :-)
Note - I did not take this picture


Though not nearly as exciting, I did get to see Volcan Fuego which is the closest active volcano to Antigua. It spews out puffs of smoke like this one around every 10 minutes. The one I caught in this picture was a rather small one, but it still gives you an idea.


Last but not least, was Volcan Agua. The best I could understand, this volcano has either never erupted, or erupted somewhere around 1500 years ago, but it's name Agau (water) comes from the crater on the top that once upon a time filled with water, overflowed, and destroyed several towns in it's path. Now, it is simple a "volcano" to admire, take pictures of through the arch, and hike if you have the energy. :-) I just did the two former as shown in the top two pictures.


Someday if I ever return to this land of fire, I want to experience these things a little more up close. For now though, I'll just remember, look up pictures, and dream of that someday.... 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Website Update!

Thanks to the amazing work of our friend Ryan, our website is 95% current again! (The reason I say 95% is that after nearly 4 weeks, I'm still waiting for my camera lens to come back so I can take a new family picture.) Anyhow, we now have music samples, printable media, and a store and link page. Our CD is now also available for purchase there.

We are grateful for the timing of this during a quite busy music schedule. We have a bit of traveling ahead of us yet this Summer. Check out our schedule if you want! It would be great to meet some of  you in person!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The danger of the "Holding Pattern" Mentality

What do I mean by a "holding pattern?" It's the idea that I have often find myself falling into of thinking, "Well, I'm waiting for such and such to happen, and when it does, then real life will finally begin." I'm reminded of a well known quote that states, "Life is what's happening while you are waiting for life to start

Insert anything you want into that "such and such." A new job, graduation, marriage, another child, or the last one gone, a foreign field to serve long term on, a move, a church change, or a million other things. As God has brought different waiting seasons into my life over the years, I'm tempted to think, "When this is resolved, I'll be done waiting." :-) Somehow I'm getting the feeling from God that's He's always going to keep me in a position of needing to wait on and depend upon Him. 

All that said, I wanted to share an Oswald Chambers quote that a dear, faithful friend e-mailed me a few weeks back. It challenges this mentality, and puts our focus back on what God's real purpose is for our life. Not for the future, but life in the present. That is, glorifying God with all my life. Right now. 



What is my dream of God's purpose? 

His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. 

God's training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end. 

God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.
-Oswald Chambers


Sometimes, God doesn’t change the circumstance until that circumstance has changed us. We’re interested in the end result. God is interested in the process.....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weekend Memories

On the shores of Lake Superior

Such a blessing to have time to relax!

What sort of footprints are you leaving?

Peaceful beauty that gave me some needed
time with the Lord. 

Feeding seagulls is a family favorite!

Sweet sister times on the *windy* beach!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Filled


Make me lonely for Thy presence, every earthly friend above;
Make me thirst for Thine indwelling, make me hungry for Thy love;
Till in full and free surrender I shall yield my life to Thee,
Only then, in full perfection, canst Thou give Thyself to me. 

All the beauty that I seek for, every treasure I would own,
Thou art these in rich completeness, they are found in Thee alone;
All the loveliness I long for, all the best that I would be,
I can never find them elsewhere than in Thee, Lord, just in Thee.

Empty me of all my glory, all my boasting, all my pride;
Let my righteousness, my wisdom, on Thy cross be crucified;
Fill me, then, with all Thy fullness, all Thy will work Thou for me;
In Thyself is nothing lacking; make me, Lord, complete in Thee.
~Annie Johnson Flint

To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater, to be filled with all the fullness of God is greatest of all.
-William Bramwell. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weekend With the Wissmanns and Family Festival

After a packed 5 days, I think I can breath again. Though busier than I would often care to repeat, the presence of sweet fellowship with other Christians, family memories, topped with lots and lots of miles traveled makes it worthwhile. The short nights were well worth it!

Wednesday night started off with another stop through by the Wissmann family from Nebraska. We were privileged to host the 3rd annual concert with them in Ridgeland, WI, and I can't imagine anyone went away not being blessed and challenged.

I would highly encouraged any of you who are looking for an evening on good music brimmed with inspiring testimonies both in word and in the lives of this family we can now call friends, do look up their schedule! They travel all around the country, and chances are you would be able to find something, sometime within driving distance!








We thought it was pretty neat they didn't have anything else going on until the next evening, so we were able to enjoy a morning and afternoon picnic at the park with them. Gracious neighbors lent us their kayaks, we pulled out the stops for food, and simply enjoyed some sweet fellowship.






Friday morning found us up bright and early, pulling out of the driveway around 6:00am for the Lake Itasca Family bluegrass festival. After a grueling drive and several stops, we arrived around 5:30 and set up camp in record breaking time. As a family, we have taken very few opportunities to go camping together, and trying to change that habit! It's definitely something we really enjoy!

We chose a primitive camp site, and though the mosquitos were horrendous, we enjoyed the quietness, seclusion, and simply time to be a family. The older I get, the more I am learning to treasure these times together. I know they are not going to last forever.


A stop in Duluth to watch this Canadian Ship go through, as well as Ice Cream at
'Grandma's Boxcar' helped pass the hours of driving. 

One highlight for me was listening in on the wonderful children's presentation the Wissmann children did for the festival. Around 200 children attended, and I'll tell you, every eye was glued to that stage! I enjoyed it thoroughly myself!



Besides songs and memory verses with the children, they wrote a script off of the life of Ira D. Sankey. Some humorous acting, drama, and an inspiring life all worked together to makes this skit a huge success.

 
Putting out the Chicago fire. 
Over 400 eyeballs, waiting for the action to start. 
New Friends. :-)
Boys against girls in singing volume.

The weekend ended nicely with an overnight visit with dear friends in Bemidji. Rachael has a sweet blog here that you can check out. It was a blessing to be able to catch up some after over a year of not seeing each other!

Under a bridge, enjoying some chat time. :-)

Now it's back to home life, some catching up on sleep, and gearing up for further travels this summer. Oh, and waiting for my camera lens to come back from the repair shop! I felt rather crippled this last weekend with just my point and shoot, but I guess I made do. :-)

Till next time!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Scripture Memory

Memorizing Scripture is something that I've done on and off through my life, but have never buckled down and stuck with it. There was the summer two friends and I memorized through the book of Phillipians, and though I am quite rusty on it now, the book still has a familiarity that is precious. Early on in my life, my family and I memorized Psalm 91 together. Then there was the winter another two friends and I memorized Psalm 107. The last big accountability project was with two co-workers. We set the goal to memorize Psalm 119 in it's entirety during a summer. Some of us met that goal better than others. :-)

All of these times hold a special place in my heart. Not just because they were times spent with friends and family, but they were centered around the word of God. They built not only memories, but a greater foundation of Scripture in my heart. 



Don't just take my word for it, though. What encouragement does Scripture give? Here's just a couple of promises associated with hiding God's word in our heart. 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3

"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." 1 Timothy 4:15


There are many more that can be found with a little searching. :-) I was blessed by this quote by Nancy Epperson who appeared on Nancy Leigh DeMoss's Radio Program last January. 

"As you’re memorizing and meditating, everything about it forces you to think on God’s Word. The more you spend time in the Word of God, the more you get to know the Author of that Book. The more you get to know Him, the more you love Him, because to know Him is to love Him. The more you love Him, it just kind of spills out. It just spills out all over."

But, enough of the intellectual, fluffy-feeling stuff. How does this all work? Everyone has their own method and ways of learning and retention, and I would love to hear how some of you incorporate this into your lives. Let me just throw out a few ideas for you if you haven't given this much thought. 

One things I have found helpful for memorizing, whether it be Bible verses, or Spanish verbs and their conjugations, is to write them out on flash cards. You can buy flash cards in a spiral-type notebook, or I've also laminated them, punched holes, and put them on my own ring. I usually have one or two sets riding around with me in my car as driving time is a great opportunity for memory, especially if you are alone and can work out-loud. 

There are a couple of on-line tools that are also very helpful. The first I want to share is a link one of the elders from our church shared with me. He has done extensive memorizing in his life-time, and has found this method very effective. I have used it some myself, and have found it extremely logical. I have retained Scripture, and stuck with memory work using this method more than any other one I have ever tried. 

The last I wanted to share was an online program a dear friend recently showed me. With a simple and basic interface, this site isn't going to impress any computer programmers, but it is thought out, and effective. It includes a grading system to rate your our progress, and the program automatically adjusts the frequency with which you review a verse. It is a great way to keep up with past memory projects. Many Bible Bee contestants have used Memverse, and I am excited to get the word out to other potentials users. Do check it out and sign up!

Again, I would love to hear from you! What has God taught you through Scripture memory? Have you found any methods more useful than others? Wherever God has brought you, and whatever experiences you have had, they are not meant to stop! Keep up the good work if you are already memorizing, and if not, it is never too late to start!

"Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee...." Psalm 119:11

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Perspective




"Whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away your relish for spiritual things -- this is sin.
In short, if anything increases the authority of the world and power of the flesh over the spirit, that to you, becomes sin, however good it is in itself." 
--Susanna Wesley



This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16

Monday, August 02, 2010

The beginning of the rest of this blog....

Wow - where to start? I feel this blog has been far from my desires for it the past few years, but then again, my life has been far from predictable, steady, and even 50% conducive to writing.  Writing is a passion of mine, but unfortunately, one that gets pushed back into the recesses of my priorities when life gets busy. Life isn't promising me any great prospects of slowing down, so I figure as long as there is hope of resuscitating a little bit of life back here, I'm daring to step out on a limb and hoping that priorities can change. 

For starters, at least for now, I'm going to go back to one blog. There is going to be more photos on this one, snippets from life, and a continuation of quotes and occasional articles, hopefully just in a greater quantity. So, continue to stay tuned. :-) I have a packed next couple months, which I'm choosing to look at as lots of blogging material! :-P Till next time!


"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31