Saturday, December 29, 2012

Anchored in Hope

Our time in the field has been rough.  We have been persecuted, put down and even put off by people we had expected to welcome, love and encourage us.

But God has been our anchor.

Our faith is tested but every time it comes out stronger... the gold refined by the fire.  And as a result, God has put people we never knew in our path and they have welcomed, loved, and encouraged us... more than we could have hoped.

Because God has been our anchor.

Yes, doubt and wonder creep in.  But like David in the psalms... I keep looking to all God has done and I have HOPE for all he will continue to do.  He has never failed before... he won't fail now.  I know this because...

God has been my anchor.

So when I saw a verse from Hebrews 6 shared by a minister and his family after the loss of their precious 5 year old daughter, my hope was renewed yet again... as if my challenges weren't enough, their tragedy is even greater and they know the secret I know:

God is always our anchor.

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

Hebrews 6:17-20a (NRSV, emphasis added)

Be encouraged, whatever we have, we can always have HOPE as an anchor for all of life.

May you rest, anchored, in the sweet Hope of His love and care.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Change is Good

We entered Arizona and almost instantly there was change.  Not that, uh-oh, hold onto your boots kind of change.  No.  More of an almost back to normal change!

We are in Mountain Time again and my map says that the same Rocky Mountain range our old familiar "home" sits in also runs south to Arizona too... but they don't call 'em the "Rockies" here. 

No matter though... they have that same majestic beauty the Montana Rockies have, only without all the snow!  We couldn't' see it until we mounted the pass out of New Mexico and dropping into Arizona.  But there they were.  And at the base of these beautiful Buttes and ranges are...

Cacti and palm trees...

 ALOT Of cacti and palm trees...

With sand where lawns normally grow and sunshine where snow usually falls.

Citrus trees even caught me by surprise.  Standing in between cacti and palm trees.  Split orange and yellow fruits lay on curb sides where I am use to seeing pine cones and Tamarack needles.

For 4 months now we have been traveling, for 6 we have been transitioning.  And for the first time since the rubber hit the road, we are staying put.... on purpose... we are sent and wanted... we are carried by his hope and setting up routines.  And while it may not be for very long, it is for a season.  A wintry-looks-more-like-Montana-summer-kind-of-season... a could be 3 months, could be more kind of season.  But we are here and I am grateful to God for giving us some time to breathe and be and do and see so much new and different while setting up something old and familiar.

The new year lies before us.  Are you feeling 'different' even if your surroundings are the same?  Whether it is a good or bad - a new or old kind of different.... trust in my secret:  Christ is always the same and in Him we can always be comfortable exploring whatever else is around and wherever He leads.

As for this mama... I'm looking forward to teaching, writing and becoming familiar with the "different" even if it is only temporary.  I'm looking forward to my devotion time again and to the infinite possibilities that come when you simply feel the peace of His presence in the resting place he has led us to.

I pray you know the same!


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Saturday, December 22, 2012


We finally arrived!!!!

Through rivers, swamps, deserts and windstorms.  Over mountains and switching timezones... we have finally settled into Phoenix for a season of serving with churches and organizations here.

Pictures not uploaded yet.  Hopefully all the snapshots through RV windows with roadsides whizzing by turn out!  Even this last leg of this part of our journey has had it's shifts and changes.  This past week was most amazing as we saw The Greatest Gift poured out on our lives and others' lives right before our eyes!

I was blessed to use an industrial size kitchen to bake some Christmas cookies:  4 hours worth of work done in 45 minutes!  LOVED It!

We are especially overjoyed to be at our destination in time for Christmas, to meet all of our new friends at such a joyous time.

I look forward to a new kind of routine... a new time of sharing... and a wonderful new year full of His promises and blessings.

I pray you have a most wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.  Hold tight to the Joy this season promises and the Hope that is meant not just for a season but for the life of all those who believe!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Surrounding Us

It has been a roller coaster season in our family.  I can't even say "in our household" as we bounce between houses, RV, hotels and who knows what could be next!  Yup, roller coaster... and not the kiddy kind you find at the county fair.  Nope, the kind with signs like "If you have a pace-maker you may want to consult your doctor before riding this ride". But God is still in control.

I thought I would share some of that rawness today though.  The dingy side of what most see as glamour in a missionary's life.  I know I used to.  But it is not all glamour.  It is more like glimmer... the glimmer of hope when the road is rough and bumpy, knowing God has never failed us and he never will.

The rough side is the financial roller-coaster, the constant concern over well-being of all family members (mom and dad included) and just how are we going to fit the math and spelling in when a steady desktop is as fleeting as the sunset on these various horizons.

The glimmer when help comes from the unexpected, when the family truly-deep-heart-talks and prays together to find peace and when, yes, the lessons get squeezed in (even if not as regular or conventional as this mom would like).

And in all these ramblings, I also find my thoughts on how the holidays don't completely feel like the holidays this year... not in a bad way though.  Simply a transforming way.  No big tree of my own, no shopping, no baking, no parties or traditions or plans. I have tried to throw lights up where we are and enjoy others' decorations a little more!  We have been blessed with some unexpected experiences in others' traditions. But, mostly, God is using this time to remind me of Kingdom focus vs. Kringle focus.  My resign statue packed away in storage has new meaning: Santa bowing and praying before the manger.  Thinking I knew how to put the King first... I am realizing he was actually in line all this time.

So, this roller-coaster post is simply a tumble of thoughts and hopes that you might read and find; we all have our rough patches of life, our transforming patches, and even in the holidays when imperfect places pop up, remembering that Glimmer, that hope, keeps us always close to Home.

Joy is in this place because, even if home isn't a consistent 4 walls surrounding us, it is always 2 Arms surrounding us.

God bless you this holiday season and Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A New Advent Season

The advent season has arrived.  Every year, living in Montana, Ernie (one of Santa's head elves) took the reindeer for a test run and dipped down into our neck of the woods.  He would stop off for some late night cocoa and leave behind a new Christmas movie or book, some ornaments for the children and (our favorite) the Christmas count-down chain.

Each day had an activity to help pass the suspenseful time till Christmas.  We all looked forward to the day's link but this year, not in Montana, Ernie would not be stopping by.  I was trying to decide what to do for advent this year when bright little 9 year old Brooke piped up, "We should count down to Christmas with a part of the Bible story of Jesus on each link."

I thought it was such a great idea!

So, I pulled out my Bible, markers, construction paper, stapler, colored pencils and some notebook paper to make a list and got to work. 

Planning out advent did not go as easily as I expected.  I paused many times to pray over the various recordings of this time period.  I knew in my Spirit that it wasn't just about giving a little girl (and her entire family) a one-liner for the day.  It was about inviting Christ to be part of HIS season by remembering the significance of his life, past-present-future.

What resulted, from my heart-felt prayer, was beyond my own simple hopes and expectations.  And I wondered if it might be something your family could enjoy this season as well.  Below is a simple list of the scriptures and days they will be used.  However, if you want to a) save yourself all the work or b) see how to put it into practice, you can jump over to my other site where I will be putting up a daily devotion using these scriptures.

To read "Advent Day 25" click here.
The short daily devotions will remember the prophecy, hope and life of Christ.  I hope you will join me for this season of celebration in hope, joy, love and the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind!

Day 1:  Pray
Day 2:  Luke 1:26-27
Day 3:  Luke 1:28 - 30

Day 4:  Luke 1:31-33
Day 5:  Luke 1:34-35
Day 6:  Luke 1:36-37
Day 7:  Luke 1:38
Day 8:  Luke 2:1-2
Day 9:  Luke 2:3-5
Day 10:  Luke 2:6-7
Day 11:  Luke 2:8-9
Day 12:  Luke 2:10-12
Day 13:  Luke 2:13-14
Day 14:  Luke 2:15
Day 15:  Luke 2:16-18
Day 16:  Luke 2:19
Day 17:  Luke 2:20
Day 18:  Luke 2:25-35
Day 19:  Matthew 2:1-2
Day 20:  Matthew 2:3-4
Day 21:  Matthew 2:5-6
Day 22:  Matthew 2:7-8
Day 23:  Matthew 2:9-10
Day 24:  Matthew 2:11-12
Christmas Day:  John 1:1-18

Praying you have a blessed Advent season!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Random Faith

Writing and thinking on random thoughts today.  It has been such a random week.  Random tidbits to get done in the RV before we are ready to really launch into full-“mobile ministry”.  Random bits of leftover challenges and expectations unrealized. 

Like the leaves blown briskly from the trees, the randomness whirls around and suddenly lands in the unexpected. 

Like an opportunity to understand what true-deep faith looks like.  Drawn to Hebrews 11 and seeing for myself… it isn’t where we have been, or where we are now, but our focus on where we are going that tends to matter most and draw us through the rough times.

It is our roots, spread into springs and creeks which gives life in season and out.  The springs and creeks which I formally took for granted and now find myself clinging close to and searching deeply through for those nuggets of Gold.

 Like seeing that the phrase “God is my Rock” is more than a beautiful phrase, rather, the true-deep-anchor point of this mission-mama’s heart in these trying times.

What happens when the random events of our lives settle down long enough for us to take a true, deep-heart, close-up look at our God, our faith, and where our strength comes from.  Some of you know this too personally.  Some may be like me… proudly living your faith, believing every single one of these words I type with all your heart, but never truly knowing what it REALLY means to find yourself standing with not much more than your faith left.  All other ground is sinking sand… causing you to pull in tight to that Rock you depend on.

Yup, that is me… even in random moments lately.  I stop, let the randomness settle so I don’t get lost in the ‘clutter’ of daily life, Grab a hold of faith, look to the place I truly belong but keeping green while I am still here, standing on that Rock so I don’t sink and fall on my butt!!

I pray your random moments give way to deep faith revelations, spurring you closer to Him and deeper in love with your someday destination… because here, we are only passing through!

They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
Hebrews 11:13b-16a (NRSV)


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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lessons in Nourishment

It has been one of those weeks... the kind where you wake up on Friday and it feels like Monday!  Hands in the air if you took the week off from schooling just to enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Hands up if Friday came and you found yourself asking, "If this is a break then I need a break from the break!"

Yup, that was me.  And I didn't even host the holiday dinner... for the first time in 20 years.  It was a strange feeling.  The whole week was a strange feeling.  Focusing on RV work/hoping for completion to be ready to go in a week's time.  Cleaning, sewing, etc... etc...  yup.  And I gave my kids leave to not only help (how nice of me, right?) but also to take it easy... no basic structure like most days.

I forget, my kids don't do well with no basic structure.  It doesn't matter that they are older now.  Direction is a good thing for them.  Especially in their Bible Study.  If we are to "train up our children" is it not first and foremost to train them up in the ways of the Lord?  Not just in speaking but also in doing?  If I take time each day for my Bible study, shouldn't my children be learning to do the same?

I pray for them to have a love for God's Word... and He has answered my prayers.  Each school day I rarely have to tell them twice (let alone once) to start their devotions... they just do... and they love it!  But if we don't have that structured, "Do your Bible Study before you start your other work" set-up... it flitters to the side and then this happens...

Ok, other than the fact that I took blurry pictures on Thanksgiving... and Brooke is smiling, notice Ashley.  That isn't an engaged look.  That is an "I'm trying to hold it together but I feel like I am ready to loose it" look.  As a matter of fact, she nearly did loose it.  Why?  Stress and no living water.

If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed.  
1 Timothy 4:6
Stress in our current environment was eating at her.  No Bible Study since last Friday was making her dry up.  If the words of faith and sound teaching are nourishment, then the lack of is... malnourishment.  We starve, wither and eventually die.  

It isn't just adults that need this nourishment.  Children too.  And I saw that so clearly (even with that blurry picture!!) on Thursday as she had a hard time engaging family, so removed from the Spring that gives life.  Our first lesson each day this week shouldn't have been sewing or cleaning or making good use of time unstructured.  No, it should have began with our devotions and prayer and discussion of heavenly things so that all these earthly things can become more bearable.

for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8

That was my big "take-away" this week.  Lessons in Nourishment... not the turkey and dressing kind of nourishment.  No, the living water kind that gives deeper life and deeper meaning.

I pray, as turkey left-overs are gobbled up and Christmas preparations are beginning... that you are nourished from the start of your day to the very end!


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

When Mom is Sick

Mama was sick this week.  You all know what that is like.  When others count on you and meal time is approaching and you don't feel good.  That was me this week.
So I went to the pantry and scrounged for a can of good ole chicken soup.  None could be found.  All the fixins' could be... but not that hearty can of broth and noodle and chicken itself.

This got me to thinking on how different it is traveling and cooking in kitchens not my own or over camp stoves and camp fires.  I wondered... could anyone out there benefit from my tumbling through foreign (to me) kitchens, missing the supplies I was use to having in my own cabinets and pantries?  And even as we prepare to move into the RV for a season of living with a tiny kitchen with limited water supply and even more limited storage space... I won't have all those great kitchen gadgets or pantry stock I am use to.

Maybe, just maybe, my meandering through these trials and learning and discovering could help... someone... out there!

Even thought of a button:


Because as I travel, not always having enough time to write and share a laptop with two other techie people, I needed more things to write about and do... right?


For today, as I think and pray on a new weekly 'theme' for articles while I pray to be regular at blogging again too; today I write about a sick mama, my grandmother's pantry, and the quickest, bestest, get-wellest soup this side of the Mississippi!  Or at least my family thought so!

When Mom Is Sick
Hearty Chicken Soup

What I found in grandma's pantry:
- canned broth (bullion in water works good too)
- canned chicken breast
- canned carrots
- brown rice
(I prefer fresh or frozen... but sometimes, when mom is sick, we just make do!)

Herbs and seasoning scrounged as well:
- 4 cloves fresh garlic diced
- One onion chopped
- dried parsley
- dried sage
(all great for cold and flu!)

It looks strange and green when you first throw it all in together... but don't worry.  It will set right before it's done!

Cook on medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes and....

... viola!  See, I told you it will look pretty!

It tasted realllllly good too.  And I am not just saying that because I was sick.  I had a piece of whole-grain buttered bread and sipped up EVERY single bite!  Yum-bo!

I cooked a pot for 9 people using aprox:
6 cups broth
2 Costco size chicken breasts
1 can carrots
3 cups rice

We had NONE left over and everyone got a good serving (or two!)

I am big on substitutes too!  Extra garlic and parsley is always good for sickies!  Don't forget extra prayer on the side as well!

I hope this helps some sick mommy out there have a quick easy get-well meal when she (or some other darling family member) isn't feeling well.


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Saturday, November 10, 2012

How we school, outside the box

I have been asked... in many instances... since we have begun our travels; "How do you homeschool on the road?"  Especially as we have not been in any one place for very long to establish "routines" which could progress us through workbooks (or any other unit of study)!

My answer:  It hasn't been easy!... but....

I give credit for our year thus far first to God of course!  And second, to how He led me through studying up on the Charlotte Mason method this past summer.  It was her message and Pocketful of Pinecones that taught me to think outside the box more than ever.

Even with one high schooler and record keeping, we are working our way through our lesson plans this year.  One day at a time, step-by-step... and not always as school typically "looks".

Like the week before we left, our travels were "kicked off" with a gift of flying over the mountains that bordered the valley we lived in for 14 years.  Brenden and Ashley both got a turn to learn some Piloting 101 and feel, at the controls, what it was like to battle wind sheers, fly in circles and even land a plane!

As most public and homeschool students began their school year, we prepared for our journey by a week long retreat where the children were daily in P.E. learning how to canoe and even spent time in Engineering problem solving the building of a TeePee shaped fort for some of their toys to "play" in!

We read and played and talked... all in ways that just happened to boost information and skim the top of learning moments at every step.

And as we hit the road, these moments increased.  Journals were brought out, diagrams were made, letters were written and discussion increased.
Such as discussion on government, which Ashley studied in depth last year and the others will study soon.  State capitals, senates and houses... Art was added to history discussion after viewing many of the murals and bronze statues in our state's capital.

And while I could post pictures of geysers and hot springs, I thought I would share a picture of us exploring the unexpected from our geology adventures in Yellowstone: BLACK rock evidence of a volcanic lake.  We were all captivated in exploring this and other rock forms evidence of present and past activity in this region.  (Don't tell the national parks... we started a collection!)  Oh... and I thought I would share a short video of the kids' favorite:  boiling/bubbling mud!

And after crossing the continental divide 4 times in 24 hours... the children were not only seeing the beauty of continental movement, but they were also learning that continental divides can be mountains too!  And we all found that miles of road construction and delays can happen at 10,000 feet just as easily as it can at 3000 feet or below!!

 History as we followed (and even had lunch on) the Oregon Trail...

 ... walked the ruts like many before us did as wagons headed west (even if we were heading east!)  P.E. again hiking around the memorial park to see all the great evidence left behind from more than 150 years ago!

... history at the gateway arch... a bit of meteorology thrown in as tropical storm Issac whipped through!

 History and Geology in the unexpected... simply stopping to use the bathroom at a rest stop in Missouri we found ourselves in a fascinating walk-through display of one of the worst earthquakes in American history.

 Science and history meet at the welcome to Alabama center on I65 where an original rocket from NASA's space program can be seen for miles.

History comes to life as we walk the footsteps of the Civil Rights movement in downtown Birmingham, AL.  Imagining Martin Luther King's speeches on the courthouse steps and the men and women in-mass marching for what was right and true.

Not all of the history we found was on the schedule for this year... but should that matter?  These are still opportunities... and we took them in their various forms.

We journaled our experiences, drew pictures, and read deeper into facts.  We did our Bible Studies, ran through math flash cards when we weren't somewhere to pull out our books, wrote letters, filled out maps and continued reading and discussions.

 Bookwork has happened.  Not always daily... and not always weekly on this trip.  But it has happened on tarps at campgrounds, picnic tables, bedroom floors, library corners, and dining room tables.  Bookwork has happened in the car and restaurants and on porches.  And they are progressing... they are learning.

 They are applying.  Reading Swiss Family Robinson has inspired them to think outside the box for the materials we need.  Like brooms, made from tree branches!

 They are helping and learning how to care for a garden, different then the one they are use to mom growing.  But past experience helped with current needs.

 They are sharing their hearts as they volunteer.  Realizing need did not only exist in our valley back in Montana... but that it is everywhere and their abilities are more then sufficient for the work that needs to be done.

 Experiencing theater in forms new to us all... like the youth group trip to Judgement House at a local church.
 More engineering, raking the outline of a house and all its amenities... life size!

 Applying our observation skills to compare, contrast and then make artwork with local leaves; some from trees we don't have where we are from.

 Applying coordination efforts to learn how to drive a riding lawn mower, Brenden's first experience!

 Shop class with dad as repairs continue on our future home/RV.  (to learn more about this project, visit us on facebook and "like" group412org)

And etiquette was put into practice... yes, even for Brenden... as we all enjoyed a tea party with grandma!

How do we do it?  I don't know... God guides our steps.  We Bible study every day, pray every day, and lean into the Lord to know our bookwork vs. explorations will all balance out for a complete and productive school year.  My wager?  This will be their most memorable year yet!

Don't be afraid to school outside of the box.  It isn't always about the book work or the time spent at the table.  It isn't that you have to log a 'textbook' version of an 8 hour school day followed by 3 hours of grading.  Sometimes, it is simply about just learning... where ever we are.  It is about raising children who will ask questions, always desire to explore the world around them, and see the details in all that they experience.

“A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.” - Charles G. Finney

 Even in our schoolwork!

I pray you are embracing the joy of homeschooling this year... taking time, thinking outside the box, and growing in grace all along the way!


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