Last Saturday was another family work day. Funny that this should be the second post I will have written about days like this so far this year, but to be very honest… these types of days are rather rare commodities.
The vast majority of our weekends are filled with guests, ministry opportunities, and various trips to various places, seeing various wonderful people… and we LOVE it that way. We wouldn’t change it for anything, and are continually reminded what a tremendous blessing it is from the LORD to have our days filled thus.
But an occasional day at home all together to catch up on projects can be a nice change of pace, and that is what we enjoyed this past weekend.
What a day it was! The time flew by as project after project was tackled and accomplished by various Team members.
As the hours passed, however, it was as though the LORD was telling me to PAUSE; to pay attention to the immense number of blessings that were surrounding me; to observe the beauty that He has created…to truly, in every thing, GIVE THANKS.
It brought such delight to my heart. There are so many blessings, so many reasons for gratitude. Here are a few:
1. Glorious, beautiful sunshine! I love winter, but coming inside at dusk with a light sunburn felt most pleasant.
2. Aqua-blue sky wisped with cirrus clouds, which speak of the creativity of our Father (Can you imagine the joy He must get out of designing new cloud formations for us to view every single day?!)
3. Dad, up on a ladder pressure washing the house, with two stalwart helpers beside him, moving equipment around and running errands for him
4. A sister who faithfully weeded around all of the trees, bushes, and shrubs in the yard; and another sister who followed her for hours with a backpack sprayer making sure the weeds stayed away!
5. Mom, and yet another sister, who stayed inside for the majority of the day (thus, we failed to document any of their activities on camera ) accomplishing sewing projects, preparing meals, cleaning the house, reaching a deadline for a computer project, etc.
6. Black, rich, beautiful dirt… and chubby, wriggling earth worms. I’m not really one of those people who just loves gardening for it’s sake alone… but the LORD has given me so much joy the past couple years in taking on the position of “garden manager” for the Team, that I have actually come to get excited over such things. Black dirt really is beautiful… and fat worms are a sign of healthy soil… and so, despite the initial connotations that come to mind regarding them, they both hold immense reasons for gratitude.
7. A manly brother who kindly got his commercial weed-wacker up and running and let me operate it
8. The humor of explaining the difference between rebar and rhubarb to a little sister (and yes, she smilingly gave her permission to post that )
9. Adorable little green houses in which to start some early crops, and the educational fun of constructing them with sweet team of helpers
10. Cold, juicy clementines – the perfect “pick me up” snack
11. Dinner around the fire pit, riding the go-cart, and cool evening breezes
12. Gratitude expressed and displayed by my dear family throughout the day, encouraging me to find and take note of even more of the bountiful evidences of the LORD’s goodness
There are so many other things that could be mentioned… but just remember, as you go throughout your day, to PAUSE and take note of the beautiful things that surround you. Your life is beautiful… because your Heavenly Father has designed it, and He does all things well. May you discover many reasons for rejoicing as you GIVE THANKS for His abundant goodness.
Special thanks to Susanna for capturing the day for us with her camera!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium sized bowl mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate, larger bowl mix together the maple syrup, apple sauce, milk, and vanilla. Once the wet ingredients are well incorporated, add in the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. Cook according to your waffle maker’s directions. Serve with your favorite waffle toppings and eat with loved ones. Enjoy!
Yield: 6 servings
Recipe from allrecipes.com
Special thanks to our dear friends, the Wilkes Team, for giving us the most amazing Christmas gift of a double waffle maker! What once took hours-and-hours to make for a family of our size now only takes a few minutes! My sweet daughter and I had fun making them together.
Snow was softly falling from the sky in amounts that our area of the country had not yet seen this year. Eyes, filled with wonder and excitement, peered out the windows. “It’s snowing!! And it’s actually sticking to the ground!”
A few hours later, a young one came to me, nearly jumping up and down and quivering with excitement, while the words tumbled off her lips, “Guess what we get to do when we finish school?!?! Go sledding!!”
I was working in the kitchen, busily preparing food as the hustle and bustle of people gathering coats, gloves, scarves, and boots began around me early in the afternoon. I began to think how fun it was last year when I spent some time outside sledding and building snowmen with my precious siblings.
Continuing on with the task at hand, I thought to myself, “I really don’t feel like going outside in the freezing weather, and getting wet and soggy today.”
No, my idea of fun is to work on my to-do list.
But then something changed in my mind as I saw another sibling gathering the various paraphernalia needed for playing outside on such a winter day. I thought of how it would bless my younger siblings if I went outside to sled with them, even if it was only for ten minutes.
Relationships or to-do lists. Hmm….should there really be any comparison? Which will matter most a year from now?
I decided: I was going to go outside. I gathered the needed garb to brave the winter wonderland, and, with camera in hand, stepped into the snowy outdoors. Brrrrr, it was chilly, but the fun was well worth it! Sliding down the hill on a sled with other family members, taking pictures of all the adventure and fun, and eventually landing at the bottom of our hill nearly on my head…..it was such grand fun, but the best thing about it was that we did it together.
So, next time you’re tempted to work on your to-do list (and, there are times when that should be your first priority!), when your little brother or sister comes to you with longing yet twinkling eyes and says, “Will you play with me?” or, “I need a playmate,” I challenge you to step back and evaluate: what is really most important?
Treasure the moments, because the days are fleeting by! If you have the opportunity to strengthen relationships, don’t let work get in the way. Yes, work is very important. But, if you put relationships first, you won’t be sorry.
Go out and play in the snow for a while!
A great blessing in my life recently has been the reading of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, as I was until a few months ago, this is one of those volumes that is so thoroughly packed with the glowing, vibrant truths of Scripture about the character of our God, that it is almost impossible to read more than a couple paragraphs in one setting. It is one of those books that I will need to read over and over again so that, by God’s grace, the beautiful realities it presents can be more fully grasped and integrated into my life. I would compare it to drinking out of a fire hydrant – catching as much water as I can handle with each effort to quench my thirst, but being nearly knocked over in the process.
For the past several days, I have been (wonderfully) “stuck” on this quote from chapter three, and wanted to share it with you with the hope that it will bless and challenge you equally as much.
“What matters supremely… is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it – the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.”
May your heart rejoice today as you meditate on the settled truth of your Heavenly Father’s intimate love for and knowledge of you.
Look around you, at the individuality and uniqueness of each snow flake, the magnificent beauty of the trees upon which they fall, the splendor of the pure whiteness of the covered slopes, and see the Creator’s power. Then ponder… that you are known of Him. No painful circumstance, no mental doubt, no uncertain future, can change that fact. His eye is upon you, watching over you and guiding you with perfect wisdom, unfailing faithfulness, and tender compassion.
How precious also are they thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Psalm 139:17-18
But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:14-16
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Another year I enter
Its history unknown;
Oh, how my feet would tremble
To tread its paths alone!
But I have heard a whisper,
I know I shall be blest;
”My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
What will the New Year bring me?
I may not, must not know;
Will it be love and rapture,
Or loneliness and woe?
Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper;
I surely shall be blest;
”My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
-Unknown Author; found on a Christian Light Publications newsletter.
Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:25-26, 28-31, 33
Samuel was a blind boy. He had been away, and was now going home with his father. His father led him, and he walked along by his side. Presently, they came to a large brook; they heard it roaring before they came near.
His father said, “Samuel, I think there is a freshet.”*
“I think so, too,” said Samuel, “for I hear the water roaring.”
When they came in sight of the stream, his father said, “Yes, Samuel, there has been a great freshet, and the bridge is carried away.”
“And what shall we do now?” said Samuel.
“Why, we must go ‘round by the path through the woods.”
“That will be bad for me,” said Samuel.
“But I will lead you,” said his father, “all the way; just trust everything to me.”
“Yes, father,” said Samuel, “I will.
So his father took a string out of his pocket and gave one end of it to Samuel. “There, Samuel,” he said, “take hold of that, and it will guide you; and walk directly after me.”
After they had walked a short distance, he said, “Father, I wish you would let me take hold of your hand.”
“But you said,” replied his father, “that you would trust everything to me.”
“So I will, father,” said Samuel, “but I do wish you would let me take hold of your hand instead of this string.”
“Very well,” said his father. “You may try your way.” So Samuel came and took hold of his father’s hand, and tried to walk along by his father’s side. But the path was narrow; there was not room for more than one, and though his father walked as far on one side as possible, yet Samuel had not room enough. The branches scratched his face, and he stumbled continually upon roots and stones.
At length he said, “Father, you know best. I will take hold of the string and walk behind.” So after that he was patient and submissive, and followed his father wherever he led. After a time, his father saw a serpent in the road directly before them. So he turned aside, to go round by a compass, or a round about way, in the woods. But the compass was rough and stony. Presently, Samuel stopped and said, “Father, it seems pretty stony; haven’t we gotten off the path?”
“Yes,” said his father, “but you promised to be patient and submissive, and trust everything to me.”
“Well, father,” said Samuel, “you know best, and I will follow.” So he walked on again. When they had gone safely around the serpent, his father told him why he had led him off the road.
And so, when God leads us in a difficult way that we don’t understand at the time, we sometimes see the reason for it afterwards.
By and by, his father came within the sound of the brook again, and stopped a minute or two, and then he told Samuel that he should have to leave him a short time, and that he might sit down upon a log and wait until he came back. “But, Father,” said Samuel, “I don’t want to be left alone here in the woods, in the dark.”
“It is not dark,” said his father.
“It is all dark to me,” said Samuel.
“I know it is,” said his father, “and I am very sorry; but you promised to leave everything to me, and be obedient and submissive.”
“So I will, father; you know best, and I will do just as you say.” So Samuel sat down upon a log, and his father went away. He was a little terrified by the solitude, and the darkness, and the roaring of the water; but he trusted his father, and was still.
By and by, he heard a noise as of something heavy falling into the water. He was frightened, for he thought it was his father. But it was not his father; it was only the end of the stem of a small tree, which Samuel’s father was trying to fix across the brook, so that he could lead his blind boy over. It was lying upon the ground, and he took it and raised it upon its end near the edge of the bank on one side, and then let it fall over, in hopes that the other end would fall upon the opposite bank. But it did not happen to fall straight across, and so the end fell into the water—and this was the noise that Samuel heard. He drew the stick back again, and then contrived to raise it upon its end once more; and this time he was more successful. It fell across, and so extended from bank to bank. In a few minutes, he succeeded in getting another by its side, and then he came back to Samuel.
“Samuel,” he said, “I have built a bridge.”
“A bridge!” said Samuel.
“Yes,” he said, “a sort of a bridge; and now I am going to try to lead you over.”
“But, father, I am afraid.”
And his father replied, “You said you would trust yourself entirely to me, and go wherever I should say.”
“Well, father,” said Samuel, “I will. You know best, after all.” So Samuel took hold of his father’s hand, and with slow and very careful steps, he walked over the roaring torrent; they soon came out into a broad, smooth road, and returned safely home.
This story is an excerpt from a charming and character building child’s tale titled “Caleb in the Country,” written by Jacob Abbott and produced in reprint by Lamplighter Publishing.
What a blessing it was to journey northward a few weeks ago to take part in the Gen2 Conference! Hosted by Generations with Vision (taking place at the Creation Museum), this conference focused on the millennial generation and why a large percentage of it is walking away from the faith.
Sweet fellowship with many dear friends —
The sessions, presented by Kevin Swanson, Daniel Craig, Ken Ham, Rick Boyer, Norm Wakefield, Brian Ray, Woody Robertson, Israel Wayne, and many others, left us challenged and encouraged. May we each, in the coming days, not only reject the apostasy that is sweeping our culture, but continue pressing onward in the strength of the LORD, seeking His grace, and pursuing lives of godliness for His glory and the expansion of His Kingdom.
An added joy was that Matthew & Amanda were able to join us for the weekend! We treasured the opportunity to minister in song a couple of times throughout the conference, and having them there to participate with us again blessed us immensely.
Other snapshots —
Special thanks to Sarah Bryant for the use of her photos!
A humble spirit is something that everyone, including myself, needs every day. If I have my focus where it needs to be – on Christ, the perfect example of humility – then I am less apt to have a proud spirit, and more likely to have a day full of joy. On the other hand, if I am proud, then I will probably, at some point, end up grumpy, and struggle much throughout the day.
Here are some questions that I have found helpful to ask myself when I am struggling:
1. “Am I having a hard time because someone is not doing something I think they should? Can I not fully trust God with this circumstance in my life?” God says to rest in Him, and it takes humility to do so, knowing that He does indeed know best in every situation.
2. “Do I have a bad attitude because I am not submitting to the Lord?” Your day will continue on in a bad way, unless you are willing to have a humble spirit, and submit whatever is irritating you to your Lord. “… God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 1:4
3. “Have I done something wrong that I have not confessed?” Keeping sin in your life is evidence of pride, but confessing your wrong-doing to the person you offended, and to the Lord, can put your day back on the right track and will bring true joy to your heart. With no sin burdening you down you can continue on singing and praising the Lord. “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise…” Psalm 108:1
4. “Is this conflict because of pride in my life?” Dr. S.M. Davis once said, “There is not contention without pride.” We cannot bring honor and glory to our God if we are proud about something we have accomplished, and often that kind of pride creates contention with those around us. We must get our focus off of ourselves, and onto Christ and what He has accomplished. May we continually be praising Him. “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 106:1
The trusting heart to Jesus clings,
Nor any ill forebodes,
But at the cross of Calv’ry, sings,
Praise God for lifted loads!
Singing I go along life’s road,
Praising the Lord, Praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life’s road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.
The passing days bring many cares,
“Fear not,” I hear Him say,
And when my fears are turned to prayers,
The burdens slip away.
He tells me of my Father’s love,
And never slumb’ring eye,
My everlasting King above
Will all my needs supply.
When to the throne of grace I flee,
I find His promise true,
The mighty arms upholding me
Will bear my burdens too.
Lyrics by Eliza E. Hewitt
For the past several months, I have been dealing with some health issues. It is physically hard at times, and often I have wondered why God put these problems into my life. Then, as I read God’s “love letter” to me, I was reminded that these are not problems, but plans that He has for me. “God meant it unto [me for] good…” Then He brought back to memory 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Every day, I have a decision to make. Will I become discouraged and downhearted because of things that are really my Father’s perfect plan for me, or will I rejoice that He has chosen me to fulfill whatever purpose that He has in mind? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I am not capable of bearing this alone. Thus God sent me another note telling me to cast my burdens on Him and He will sustain me (Psalm 55:22). What a joy it is to give the King of all, my little burden, knowing that he will take care of me!
Now I can sing with all my heart “Jesus has lifted my load” for “the mighty arms upholding me will bear my burdens too!”