Friday, December 9, 2011

The Incarnation

“ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:15-16

Friday, December 2, 2011

Elysia's Going On A Mission Trip!

For the first time in my life, I am going to go on a "short-term" mission trip this winter. This is a new experience for me, since in the past I have always gone as a "long-term" worker. This will be a wonderful trip where each of the team members will be using their varying gifts to serve in Chad, Africa. My husband is very supportive of my going, even though it will mean having Mommy away from home for over a week. I better get busy making some freezer meals for the family before I head out on the airplane!

I would like to share with you a bit about what I will be doing, in case anyone is curious, and would like to be involved in helping me to go. For obvious privacy reasons, I will not go into detail on this blog about where we will be and the organizations we will be working with. If you are interested in becoming a part of the prayer team that prays during our trip, or if you are interested in making a donation towards the cost of this trip, please contact me directly by email or postal service.

I have been invited to serve women in ministry at a retreat by leading the music worship and during the trip to help develop a library at a Christian retreat center in Chad. This African sub-Saharan country is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a very small number of Christian missionaries serving there in part because of its difficult environment for survival and the harsh spiritual climate. Those who do serve in this country have endured great hardships in order to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to more than 140 people groups amongst their 11.5 million people living in the country. The goal of the mission team members is to serve the women who have sacrificed so much for Jesus’ sake there in Chad, as well as to bless their children and families.

The women on our short-term team with be working together to serve those who are bringing the Gospel to Chad. Half of the team will be traveling from my area and half from other countries and areas. Part of the team will be serving the children during the retreat with a VBS Bible program, while the other half of the team will be ministering to the women at the retreat. I will be leading the music worship for the women who will attend the retreat.

During our trip, we will work to finish the library project for a retreat center that serves Christians in Chad through meetings, retreats, and family vacations. This center is the only facility in that area that hosts Chadians and foreigners alike from many different Christian denominations. These books will bless all the guests at the center as they find resources to refresh them spiritually. I am thrilled to serve the Lord in this way.

Please pray as we prepare for this service opportunity coming up this winter.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blessed Are All Who Wait For Him

We are so excited to announce an opportunity Ethan has to teach once again within the context of missions. He will be joining the staff of Training Leaders International as an International Trainer. This position will involve teaching and training church leaders throughout the world who desire to be taught the Scriptures and built up through theological training. Ethan will be traveling several times a year on short-term trips teaching classes to pastors, lay leaders, Bible college students, and congregations. Ethan will also be writing curriculum for classes. These elements of the job, teaching biblical theology and writing, as well as leading teams, are all areas in which God has used him before, therefore, we are excited and very humbled by God's grace in leading us to such an excellent fit with such a wonderful organization. We look forward to seeing how God will work as the Gospel is carried to many peoples.

The Lord has opened up the door for us to continue to serve Jesus in the calling in which He has called us: to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." and lest I forget the most comforting promise from Jesus, "'...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen." Matthew 28:19-20


Friday, October 28, 2011

Lookin' Good!

Peter John has new glasses! He is pretty proud of them. Unfortunately, he has my eyes: astigmatism, and his left eye is weaker than his right eye. A teacher told him it will make him look smart like a professor, so that made him happy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fun With The Cousins!

We are blessed to have my nieces here this weekend while their parents are speaking at a mission conference in Pennsylvania. Their older brothers and my son Peter John are spending the weekend with my parents. These girls are so fun and sweet. They are a bundle of energy and a blessing to have in our lives while their family is on furlough from mission work in Chad, Africa. These girls are close in age to my youngest two girls, Lizzy and Amy. I think Lizzy is having a bit of adjustment to all the activity of other kids in the house. She seems to cry a bit more than usual. It could just be her age, too. Tomorrow we will worship at church and then go see their grandparents and older brothers.

Today Ethan, Gretchen, and I did a lot more raking of the leaves in this yard. It is a huge job. We prefer borrowing a trailer from Ethan's work and hauling the leaves to the dump rather than bagging them. It seems less tedious and less expensive than the traditional method. I think we will be quite sore tomorrow! Even the little girls did a bit of work by stomping down the leaves in the trailer so we could fit more in. They had fun jumping into the leaves and burying themselves! They are all ready for baths, now!

Monday, October 10, 2011

How We Survived Graduate School and Stayed Out of Debt Part 2

Accepting God's will and and doing it. Trusting God and making choices to "not fret. It only causes harm." These are basic faith issues that people in all financial positions must come to terms with. Phil. 3:12-14 states: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I would like to add a few things to my running list of how we stayed out of debt during Ethan's seminary years. I hope and pray for all who read this, that they would know the God who supplies all their needs as they walk in faith and obey Him by faith every day of their lives.

The first five points I made can be found on the previous post with the same theme. Here are some more tips I would like to add:

6. Turn off the lights! Energy conservation is a wonderful way to save money. I am still struggling to train my kids about this, but the principle remains the same. If you are not using that room, turn the lights off. The same applies to appliances that are not being used. This sounds really cheap, but we even use half the lightbulbs in the dining room fixture and bathroom vanity to save money. It looks kind of "poor" but it helps save electric costs at least for now in our lives.

7. Turn down the heat! In the winter we keep the house at 64 degrees F. during the day and 62 degrees F. at night. It feels chilly, but we counter the cold with slippers that are always readily available, sweaters, and throw blankets. When I was a kid, my mom made us wear long johns, too. I haven't quite trained my kids to wear these yet. Some people cannot have a cool house for health reasons, especially older folks, so use caution. It also helps to turn down the water heater to a lower temperature.

8. Follow the advice of the gas or electric company for energy conservation. Last year, our gas company sent a pamphlet explaining ways to prevent heat loss in the house. I tried a few of these methods: close all window shades or blinds in rooms you are not using. Close all window shades or blinds during the night. This made quite an impact on our heating bill! Another great method is to cover windows with 3M window treatments.

9. Potty-train early! I prayed about finishing Amy's potty training at 22 months in order to save money on diapers. It went really well for her, though I know this is not the case with all kids. We worked on it very hard for three days straight (go to the potty every 20-30 minutes, stay there with her, praise her for a job well done), and we have saved a lot of money this way. Many friends of mine use cloth diapers. This is a great way to save, too. I figured that if Ukrainians can train their babies at less than a year of age to use a toilet, I could try to train my little girls early, too.

10. Buy second-hand or season end clearance. Don't be ashamed to accept hand-me-downs from friends for your kids' clothing. The gifts of second-hand clothing has helped us tremendously, and we are so grateful for it. We shop at Savers or Goodwill, as well as garage sales. It has saved us hundreds of dollars in clothing costs.

11. I took advantage of local food share programs. In this town we have bought groceries from AngelFood Ministries through a local church as well as purchased boxes of food from Ruby's Pantry in Inspiration Lutheran Brethren Church in Breckenridge, MN. Ruby's has been a huge blessing to us, and we are so grateful for this ministry.

12. Hang your wet laundry on a clothesline and use homemade laundry soap. Here is a recipe for detergent that I got from my friend, Christine. The only change to the recipe I made was to use Ivory Soap instead of a Fels-Naptha bar. It has saved us hundreds of dollars. Laundry detergent is one of the most expensive items we buy. By the way, I don't hang my laundry on winter days or when I am super busy! I am not that crazy.

13. I use Folgers coffee or even Great Value brand instead of the expensive brand of coffee. This was admittedly a sacrifice on Ethan's part as he really enjoys a good cup of coffee, especially after enjoying Lavazza and Illy coffee in Europe.

14. As a last resort, take advantage of certain government programs such as WIC and government medical assistance if you cannot afford these basic health/medical needs. Our local WIC program has benefitted our small children tremendously.

15. Be generous. Don't quit tithing to the Lord. God will supply all your needs.

16. Reuse things and "Do it Yourself." Hah! My sister-in-law gives the Larson family grief that certain family members wash out and reuse Ziploc bags. I can't help myself! It is a great way to save money! And, the other Larson sensibility in life is to do it yourself. I am blessed to be married to a great handyman, and I have been known to try some things myself, sometimes successful, sometimes not. It has been fun, anyway!

17. Don't use credit cards and avoid taking out loans. Pray and see how God supplies!

18. Did I mention trust in God?

God did supply! Did I mention all the wonderful family and friends who have been there for us during this time? We are humbled and grateful. Thanks be to Him!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How We Survived Graduate School and Stayed Out of Debt Part 1

Graduate School or Seminary can be a very financially trying time for families. God has been so good to us and provided everything we have needed, though I would be dishonest if I told you we did not have moments of panic. God has turned those moments of worry or fear into trust as we see God's faithfulness and care just like a shepherd cares for all the needs of His sheep. We are still waiting on God for long-term employment, but as we work each day and trust God, He is providing our needs. God's word is a shield guarding our minds and hearts and changing our hearts of fear into faith and trust in Jesus, who is rich in mercy.

Recently my sister helped me to see that God may be using these times of our financial leanness for the sake of others. She encouraged me to teach others what God has helped us with to survive this time. In the years to come, more families are going to have to make decisions that are not comfortable because of these precarious times. People cannot afford to live in the luxury they have become accustomed to. The choices we will have to make must begin now in our daily habits. People cannot see their spending habits as a "right" but rather a privilege, and a rich responsibility of stewarding all that God has given them. This takes planning, conservative spending habits, and trust in God and His promises. I hope this will not be a legalistic view, but rather a help to people who are struggling. God did it all, not us, so to His name be the glory. So, here is Part 1 of a list of things that have helped us live debt-free during hard times:

1. I stayed home with the kids. Though some would consider this to be foolish or irresponsible especially during lean times, it has actually given us a stability and saved us hundreds of dollars through the work I have been able to do at home which I will describe in some of the following points. I have some friends who worked to put their husband's through school, which I know they feel is best for them. I do not judge them for that. I admire their devotion to their family in working so hard. For us, though, my staying home was the best option for our young children which we do not regret.
2. Gardening, Canning, and Freezing. We have been blessed to live at my "In-Law's" house during our seminary years, thus providing a wonderful garden plot that has provided pounds and pounds of fresh produce during the spring, summer, and fall. I preserve whatever I can get my hands on through canning and freezing. Some people have blessed us with the gift of produce from their gardens and from local produce they have bought. One family anonymously gave us a box of pears last year which I promptly canned for the winter. Two families blessed us with a large amount of potatoes both years Ethan was in seminary. We kept these in a cool place and they lasted throughout the winter.
3. Only spend money on what you need, buy generic items, and only buy what is on sale or with coupons.
4. Financial gifts and scholarships from Christian family, friends, and churches. The love and generosity people have shown us these years, as well as the support they have given is remarkable and a great testimony of the love of Christ in these people.
5. Trust in God. Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Unseasonably Warm

For those of you who live outside of Minnesota, these pictures may not appear all that odd, but for us, it has been extremely warm for October in Minnesota. The kids and I took some time in the afternoon to enjoy the nearby lake, warm air and sunshine. This is good for all of us.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Twelve Years Ago

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Love Good Theology

As a teenager, I was not mature, but growing up in a good church and with good theology presented to me in confirmation and through my parents helped me to recognize when something was not quite right. I recognized something was not right at a youth camp that I attended with a youth group in high school. The special speaker at the camp gave a week long Bible study on the Blessings of obedience and Curses of disobedience laid out for the people of God, the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 28. The main thesis was, "Obey God and you will be blessed. Disobey God and you will be cursed." Jesus Christ was never mentioned except for perhaps during an altar call to invite people to be saved. At least that much was preached, which is a wonderful conclusion to an otherwise empty message . What should have brought us to realize our totally sinful nature and our utter depravity thus bringing us to the rich mercy offered to us in Christ, was instead a moralistic, hopeless teaching for Christian youth that completely missed the mark.

Yesterday I heard Dr. R.C.Sproul teach on the theme of blessings and curses in the Old Testament and how Jesus took the curse that was due us because of our disobedience. Dr. Sproul explained Galatians 3:13 which states, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' )" There is a biblical theology that is understood through studying the whole book of the Bible, and can be completely missed through moralistic or legalistic preaching. Without a Christocentric, cross-centered, biblical theology, our "Christianity" has no hope. We will continue to go on living in condemnation and legalism and hopelessness. Let us return to Christ.

I encourage you to listen to this rich teaching and be blessed:

A full rainbow appeared in the sky during the sunrise this morning. This is looking out past our neighbor's house towards the west. Peter John noticed it out the window just as we were about to eat breakfast, and we all made our way out into the chilly morning to praise God for it. The kids snapped the photographs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Garden

It has been a productive year...not quite as much as last year, but I am still grateful. We had a raspberry bumper crop, and now the cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans have been steadily flowing from the garden, to my counter, and into glass jars for canning. I have been canning pretty much anything I can get my hands on. So far, I have pickled beets, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, three-bean salad, canned whole tomatoes, and peaches. I also froze a lot of rhubarb and green beans. Today I have been trying to strain the juice from these bags of chokecherries that Ethan and the two oldest kids picked in North Dakota. The juice takes a long time to strain in the jelly bag because it is very pulpy. I finally finished this evening and have about a gallon of juice that I placed into the freezer until I can pick up some Sure-Jell and sugar to make jelly and syrup.

The carrots do not seem to be growing, so I am not sure if any will come out of the ground this year. Much to my children's delight, one of the zucchini plants died. The other one sort of died, but then revived, and has since produced one zucchini. Another zucchini is growing, so we will see what we can squeeze out of that sick plant. The tomatoes have spotted leaf fungus again, but according to my neighbor, Harley, this fungus gets into the soil and will never go away. The only way to get rid of it is to rotate crops, but because I have a smallish garden, there is not room to move the tomatoes to another location. I still have gotten many, many roma tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes, despite the dead leaves. Praise the LORD for that. God is good, and He will provide.

School's Starting!

I have four very bright children who are (sort of) eager to begin school. One of my kids was thanking God tonight for school, but when it was bedtime, the anxiety started setting in as well as the complaints. I tried to give some motherly exhortation, but I am afraid I was a bit short because I wanted this child to go to sleep rather than talking and keeping the others up. We will see how it goes. As I grow and mature, I am realizing more and more the need for a strong relationship with God through prayer.

As I prepare for homeschooling again in this town, I realize that my expectations for what would be this year are quite different from God's plans. I honestly thought we would have moved by now and we would be starting our lives in a new ministry. But as always, our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and I am peacefully embracing God's will for staying put at the moment and beginning another year homeschooling here. I am content with the fact that God is in control. The biggest perk of being here is the School of Choice that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. We had our mom's meeting last week, and I began to be so excited for the material that the teachers and I will be covering both in school and in homeschool. One of the fun lessons will be a missionary biography presented by the co-op teacher every three weeks that will correspond with the historical time period we will be studying. Adoniram Judson is the first missionary, an amazing persevering Christian man in Burma whose story has brought me to tears after hearing John Piper speak about his life. How Few There Are Who Die So Hard is a very honest look at a man who persevered through tremendous suffering for the sake of the Gospel in Burma. Our teacher will use this missionary to correspond with the time period of the Civil War at the beginning of our American History unit this year. We will cover the Civil War to present times in history this year. I especially look forward to all the wonderful material on WWII, a favorite topic of my husband's, who was a history major in college. This is the fun stuff, the facts, that our kids LOVE.

The basics that require practice and rote memory do not appeal to my kids, and we struggle through them. Math facts, spelling, and handwriting are sometimes a "teeth pulling" experience. I pray for great creativity and perseverance in teaching these subjects this year. I am grateful that God has provided some great materials for these subjects. Just last week, I received two free handwriting books, one for Peter and one for Gretchen. These were some things I really needed. Now I am praying for another need, that I trust God will provide in His special way. Let's roll!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Look At 'Em Beans!

I finally got the beans blanched and frozen today. This will not be the last day of doing that this summer. Amy was my wonderful helper!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


We had so much fun at the WOT County Fair last week. Last year my friend, Angie, told me about an opportunity to earn money by entering items into the fair. Angie's kids have entered for many years and won several ribbons. We decided to give it a try, and the kids and I all entered some of our hard work into the Open Exhibition where they give ribbons and awards to the first, second, and third place in each category. The kids entered several of their artwork pieces as well as woodwork, legos, and sewing (Gretchen). For the first time ever, I entered some of the crochet pieces I have done as well as fresh vegetables from my garden. I also entered two of the preserves I have made this summer: pickled sweet beets and rhubarb jelly. We were so surprised by the results!

Wednesday was the official day to enter all your items. It was SO hot that day (about 95 degrees and humid). The lady at the counter who received our items told me I did not enter some of my vegetables correctly. For example, for yellow beans, you must have 10 beans to display, and I had only 5 beans. I decided to go home and return later with the correct number of vegetables and the proper way to display. I had to cut off the green tops of the onions and the greens off the beets. After some more work, we returned, and all was entered. If I ever enter again, I will know a little better how things need to be done, and I will remember to bring plates to display them on! (I forgot this year and had to borrow from the fair ladies).

Here are the results from the items we won ribbons on. Gretchen and Peter John were in the same category for age. Lizzy and Amy were in another category together for age (up to age 7):
Gretchen -
blue, apron sewing
blue, Father's Day poem
blue, watercolor
red, colored pencil drawing
white, Sacajawea poster

Peter John -
blue, woodwork
blue, pencil drawing
blue, colored pencil drawing
blue, freehand painting

Lizzy -
blue, pen drawing
blue, pencil drawing
blue, finger paint
blue, watercolor
red, crayon drawing
red, marker drawing ladybug poem
white, freehand painting

Amy - She entered only one item and was so proud to receive a red ribbon for her pencil drawing!

Elysia -
blue, crochet baby poncho
blue, crochet infant sweater
blue, crochet baby afghan
blue, fresh beets
blue, canned rhubarb jelly
red, crochet baby booties
red, canned sweet pickled beets
white, beans, yellow
white, crochet baby bonnet
white, white onions

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot Days

We have spent the last two days escaping the hot, humid weather at my mom and dad's air conditioned house. Our friend, Connie, is visiting from Minneapolis, so it has been a great reason to hang out at the Frank's house for an extended period of time. Yesterday the older two kids swam in the river below Mom and Dad's house along with their friend from next door. The two little girls swam on the deck in Grandma and Grandpa's kiddy pool. Perfect! Peter John was also obsessed with trying out his new pellet gun. I think Ethan started the obsession because for the past month he has been "hunting varmints" with his shotgun out at my folk's house. Peter John bought a pellet gun the other day, so he has been enjoying target shooting and trying to get pesky 13-lined ground squirrels. Ethan's persistence paid off. Tonight he shot two rabbits in one blow, which we got a picture of tonight. It has been an enjoyable weekend playing games of Scrabble with my mom and Connie, and doing crocheting with the ladies while Granny was knitting in her chair. Great summer fun!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Being with friends who love Jesus and the ministry is always refreshing. Kirk and Mindy Crager, along with their four children, Eva, Sam, Ben, and Annaliese, have begun traveling throughout America to get the word out about their ministry in England. These wonderful servants of Christ have been serving as missionaries in Europe for ten years now. What a blessing they are to the Church and to the world.

We spent two days with the Cragers as they are on their way from Idaho to Chicago. My sister, Anna, is also friends with them so I have a few pictures of Anna included in these photos. Please pray for these dear friends as they will be traveling for a few weeks with four kids. It will be a great blessing, but is always challenging along the way.

Mindy Crager, Anna Everett, and Elysia

Bridgeway Church in Stockport, England (a bureau in Manchester).

More information on the Cragers:

Support Kirk and Mindy Crager and the costs of running a ministry in England at Great Commission Ministries. Type in "Kirk Crager" to be directed to their giving site.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rhubarb Muffins

Since we have an abundance of rhubarb this time of year, I made up this recipe that was based loosely on a blueberry muffin recipe.

Rhubarb Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with oil spray.

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sugar

1 Tb. baking powder

6 Tb. margarine

2 eggs

1 c. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 - 2 c. rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

2 Tb. sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon mixed and sprinkled on top before baking

Combine dry ingredients.

Melt margarine and mix with eggs, milk, and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients and rhubarb to dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.

Bake 18-20 minutes at 400 F. until golden.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Little Sun, Rain, and Hard Work

Summer gardening and canning season has officially begun. Yesterday Ethan and Peter John along with a bit of assistance from me finally got the fence around the garden. We were surprised that we have not had any rabbits trying to eat our lettuce and radishes yet. Thank goodness! As a precaution, however, the fence went up.

As always, the rhubarb has been abundant. I attempted making rhubarb jelly today. Mills Fleet Farm had jelly strainers for a cheap price (only about $9), and I tried a recipe I found at Taste of Home magazine online. I am amazed at how well it turned out! I will definitely be doing this again. I really enjoy strawberry-rhubarb jam also, but strawberries cost a lot around here and rhubarb is free! So, this way I can save some money and have a delicious jelly for little cost.

I am so happy that summer is here!!! We have finished homeschooling, for the most part. Gretchen and Peter John still have one thing to finish up each, but we are steadily working on that.
Other than that, it is so wonderful to be able to get lots of work done each day, and enjoy the beautiful weather, too. I have started hanging up the laundry now, too. Hooray for summer!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

We remembered many of the relatives from Ethan's Mom's family this Memorial Day. We visited Bethel Lutheran Church in Little Sauk, Minnesota today for their annual Memorial Day gathering. Around 50-60 people were there to remember the saints who have gone before them, and to remind themselves of the reason for this gathering, Jesus Christ and the Word of God that guides us throughout the generations. Rick Klukken was the main speaker who shared once again the reason for the hope that we have, and Wayne Larson, who is the chairman for the Bethel organization, led the meetings. It was quite an honor to be there. We also got to take part in a good old Minnesota pot luck with great food from lots of different folks who came out. There was quite a spread!

Bethel church was one of the first Lutheran Brethren churches and was founded in 1901. It no longer has a weekly congregation that meets but this organization of relatives from past members continues to support the building and cemetery where many of their relatives were buried. The kids along with Ethan and I planted some geraniums on the grave site of Andrew and Sarah Johnson, Ethan's great-grandparents. Down the road we planted flowers at Ole and Beret Johnson's grave site, who were Ethan's great-great-grandparents. Ole was a Civil War veteran so that has particular meaning on this Memorial Day.

On the way home we stopped by Kvam church in Dalton, MN to remember the Overgaard family buried there and Knollwood Memorial Gardens to plant flowers for Gustav and Ella Overgaard, Ethan's maternal grandparents. One theme that stands out as we remember each of these grandparents is the faithfulness to God and His word, the Bible. These people lived and died for Jesus and depended on His word for their very lives. We honor them today.