Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Legos and Eyeglasses

I am sorry, Amy, you are doomed to myopia like the rest of us.  It is only a matter of time.  Enjoy your freedom from glasses while you have it!

Our third child picked up her first pair of glasses today.  She is in fourth grade and was living with a completely near-sighted left eye for who knows how long!  We all picked up new glasses this week, too, except the youngest, of course.

The children's Christmas Vacation has been a very fulfilling experience of lego-building and other forms of creativity and expression.  My oldest prepared supper tonight with a bit of help from Mom.  We also had a bright, sunny day today with a high of about 8 degrees Fahrenheit.  I truly enjoy Minnesota Winters for the sheer fact that the bitter cold weather brings with it plenty of sunshine.  I would take that over 33 degrees and overcast plus fog like we had in Eastern Europe any day.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Driving Home With God's Smuggler

Yesterday we braved the snowy, windy roads of Montana to return home.  Ethan drove the car in white, white difficult conditions.  Our family was tired, and admittedly, the two oldest children were bickering and angry several times during the trip.  Our nerves were on edge.  We put on an audio book edition of "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew and John and Elizabeth Sherrill written in 1967.  Andrew's world of 1930s and 40s Holland and then the post-world war Iron Curtain missionary work opened our eyes and our imaginations as we drove.  During the breaks, I read from my book "The Insanity of God" by Nik Ripken.
Brother Andrew traveling behind the Iron Curtain in his blue VW sedan.

The persecution of the Church is heavy on my mind after reading these books.  Brother Andrew told a story about Czechoslovakia where the government frustrated the Christians by sponsoring a new edition of the Bible then refusing the print it.  The other Bibles were not allowed to be printed, only the new edition. So without the new edition, no Bibles were available anywhere.  In one church in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, the congregation of people possessed only seven Bibles amongst them, so they would hold up their Bibles above their heads during the service so that everyone could crowd around them and share the word together.  They would copy the words to hymns on looseleaf notebooks and share those as well.  How may people in our churches even bring their Bibles to church let alone follow along with the reading of Scripture during the service?  We are so free yet so bound in our "Land of the Free."  We value little of what the historical Church has valued, and God's word is no longer precious to us.  Nik Ripken told countless stories of pastors who were tortured and imprisoned for countless years because they were Christian pastors and refused to denounce Christ.  Their families were persecuted and humiliated as well, yet they counted the cost of this and knew that Jesus was worthy of their suffering.  Cause us, Father, to treasure, love, and be devoted to Jesus Christ just as these persecuted Christians were.  You are worthy of our love. Amen.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Montana

Today we drove from Billings to Red Lodge, a rustic mountain town full of snow and lots of skiers. We travelled to Montana Christmas Eve.  It snowed early Christmas morn...I know firsthand because I was driving in it at 2:30am looking for cough syrup for our third child who was wheezing in the middle of the night.  She ended up in the ER on Christmas morn and is doing better with an inhaler and other meds. What a rough Christmas for her!

 Ethan's sister and brother-in-law live here in Billings where Bill is the pastor of the Lutheran Brethren church in town. Their two teenage boys keep us entertained with plenty of jokes and games, especially the youngest's favorite game of Chess.  Ethan's mom and dad came from Arizona yesterday, and we have already played a game of Rook with Mom.  She is a huge risk-taker in Rook and won by over 300 points.  Now we are off to play another game of Rook.

We are blessed to be with family here in Montana.  My mind is reeling with memories since my parents are from this town, and I spent my summers here as a child with my grandparents.  The rural ranches and horses are another world from Minneapolis where I grew up.  The mountains are beautiful and the air is fresh.  But sad memories also fill my mind, and I know that God redeems it all.  We are blessed.

It is a happy Christmas indeed.