Monday, December 7, 2015

Parenting in Righteousness

The Slough of Despond by Edward Callum, BBC paintings, photo credit: Luton Culture

After many conversations with my husband on parenting over the years, one area has never really "stuck" with me.  I flounder when I must stand up and operate under the authority God has given me as a mother.  Knowing my role as a mother to lead and train my kids in righteousness and knowing my kids' propensity to try to gain control brings me to certain "crisis" in parenting every few months.  I know what I must do, but I fail time and again. In frustration and perfectionism, I sink in the slough of despond.

Recently as we have been calling out to God in prayer for our children, God has been leading me to seek Him and to sow seeds of righteousness and steadfast love in the hearts of my children.  I have been renewed in my desire to read the Bible to them and teach them to love the Lord.  Unbeknownst to me, a friend had been praying for us these words from Hosea 10:12:
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
    reap steadfast love;
    break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
    that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
When she shared this with me, it was a timely word…like apples of gold, in settings of silver. Oh, how these words apply to our parenting! God has been listening to our prayers all along.  He will not forsake us and our children.

While I was ironing some clothes for Ethan's upcoming trip, I put on a two-part youtube talk from Elisabeth Elliot on Christian mothering entitled "A Peaceful Home."  I read her book "The Shaping of a Christian Family" many years ago, but the time was really right this time as I listened to her old-fashioned advice and help for mothers.  I especially finally understand what Ethan had been talking about all these years when she described the meaning of "Verbal Authority." Of course, I responded with grief, guilt, and regret as I heard her many wise suggestions for parents.  Immediately, I turned to Jesus in prayer.
Lord, You know how weak I am.  Have mercy on me, Jesus! Help me parent these children.  Transform us.  Give our family peace.  Peace. Peace. May we honor You, Jesus.  May we glorify You.  Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner.  Help me to be the mother, the authority, that you have made me to be.  Teach us to obey Your commandments.
Giving the weight of parenting to Jesus is my only option.  I have already tried to implement a legalistic set of requirements and methods in order to raise my kids in the way they should go. In many ways, these outside rules and lists only take the authority from me as the mother to some outside abstract "way."  This only leads to judgment and joylessness.  The result is not happy, joyful children who love Jesus, but angry little legalists.  Hmm…that is not what we want for them. I want a relationship with my kids that is loving between us (horizontal) and loving towards God (vertical). Raising your children to know the grace of Jesus and the loving, consistent authority and discipline of a parent is entirely different than a list of rules.  I know I have not arrived at a perfect epiphany on parenting, but God is gradually moving me towards Him and giving me back what sin has tried to steal: Love, Joy, and Peace.

Anything this lady wrote or said is worth listening to, even if the video was made in the 1990s.  :)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Drop In A Bucket

If you are reading this, you know the tragedy of lives lost in Paris yesterday. You heard of the Russian airliner leaving Egypt that was brought down by an explosion. Other headlines prevail. You know the brokeness of human flesh as our friends prove their weakness and sinfulness every day. You have woken up to the shock and horror of your own sinful thoughts and actions, and your mind races.  You have seen the headlines. On tragic days, we are shocked and angry. We see how little we are and how BIG God is. There is hope for a renewal of our faith in God and a revival of our hearts during these times, but so often people completely miss looking to the Everlasting God who will judge the nations.  Will we acknowledge our sinful bodies, minds, souls, and receive the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can give? He is the Everlasting God and no man can diminish His power and love. He reached out to you and to me and extended His arms. He opened WIDE His arms and died on a cross for our FREEDOM.

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, 
And are counted as the small dust on the scales…
To whom can you compare God?
    What image can you find to resemble him?
 Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold,
    overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
 Or if people are too poor for that,
    they might at least choose wood that won’t decay
and a skilled craftsman
    to carve an image that won’t fall down!
Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?
    Are you deaf to the words of God
the words he gave before the world began?
    Are you so ignorant?
 God sits above the circle of the earth.
    The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!
He spreads out the heavens like a curtain
    and makes his tent from them.
He judges the great people of the world
    and brings them all to nothing.
They hardly get started, barely taking root,
    when he blows on them and they wither.
    The wind carries them off like chaff.
“To whom will you compare me?
    Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.
The Holy Bible: Isaiah 40:15, 21-31 

Call out to the Everlasting God. Look to Jesus the Messiah in faith, receive His forgiveness for your sins. He alone will make this messy world right again. He alone can make our messy, dead hearts alive again. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Old Recipe Redone

I took my Great-Aunt Maude's Rhubarb Cake recipe and modified it for muffins. These muffins are to die for!  We enjoyed them for snacks this afternoon.
(This dictation is for posterity sake, since I will probably forget what I did.)

Original Recipe for Rhubarb Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream together:
1 ½ c. brown sugar
½ c. butter
1 egg

1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together, then add to wet ingredients:
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 dash salt

Chop and fold in:
2 c. fresh or frozen rhubarb
Sprinkle 1 T. flour over it before folding in.

Grease pan. Pour batter into 9x13 inch pan. Bake 30-40 minutes. Test with toothpick after 30 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean.

After baked, sprinkle with:

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Rhubarb Muffins by Elysia
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together:
2 c. brown sugar, packed
½ c. sugar
½ c. butter
½ c. canola oil
½ c. applesauce

1 ¾ c. buttermilk or milk with 1 T. vinegar mixed in
1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Mix together in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients:
3 ¼ c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Chop and fold in:
2 c. fresh or frozen rhubarb
Sprinkle 1 T. flour over it before folding in.

Grease muffin tins. Use ¼ c. measure and pour into tins. Bake 25 minutes. Test with toothpick. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean. Makes 38-40 muffins.

After baked, sprinkle with:
(To reduce sugar, sprinkle with plain cinnamon before baking.)

Let cool a few minutes before removing from tins with a fork.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Practice of Prayer quotes by Morgan

The Practice of Prayer by Rev. G. Campbell Morgan teaches us about Christian prayer from a man who has studied and taught the Bible by the power of the Holy Spirit for many years in the early 20th Century in England and America. The ideas in this book capture my heart and mind and spirit. Please read these quotes, and listen to God speaking to you through this preacher of God's word.

"God has been reached always through His Son, Jesus Christ. Not that men have always understood this, not that we perfectly understand it to-day, but the fact remains that fallen man has always found his way to God in prayer through the mystery of the mediation of Christ."

Speaking about John 1:18 regarding the bosom of the Father, Morgan explains:
"I am bruised and broken upon life's highway but there is no help for me in the inscrutable might and mind of which I am conscious. But out of the infinite spaces there comes to me a great love song. Out of the bosom of the Father there comes a message of tenderness and compassion. Immediately, bruised and broken as I am, I want to pray. I desire to speak out of my sense of sin and sorrow to the heart behind force and intelligence concerning my need. Agony can sob itself upon a heart. Impotence can trust love. A sinner can turn his face back towards a Father....When my finite heart finds the infinite heart of God I am able to trust my finite strength to His infinite strength, and my finite mind to His infinite intelligence. This then is the first fact in the platform of prayer, that the God of the universe has a bosom, a heart, and that the Son has spoken to men out of it."

"It is when I stand in the presence of God as love that I realize for the first time the real meaning of sin, and I am silent."

"Sanctification is the imparting of Christ to me, grace for grace. That is to say, every grace which is in Him, is in Him for me, and my responsibility is that I appropriate day by day what He communicates in order that He may reproduce Himself in me. When in order that I may be more perfectly conformed to His image, the indwelling Christ calls me to some new duty, some new sacrifice, some new enterprise, I must answer with ready consent. If I do, prayer prevails. If I refuse, prayer becomes impossible."

"In the matter of prayer this is of supreme importance. To pray with prevailing prayer, there must be the vision of the morning breaking in the Eastern sky. It is the man who sees the coming glory who knows what it is to put blood and sacrifice into the business of establishing that Kingdom here. In order to pray prevailingly, I must live in the power of the hope that maketh not ashamed, having my face ever lifted towards the light while I yet look at the sorrow around me, and serve diligently the will of my King."

"The indwelling Spirit knows the will of God and interprets it to the soul in whom He abides. This He does by unveiling Christ, who is the revelation of the will of God to me."

"The frailest bird dying of summer heat or winter cold is not alone. It dies in the company of God."

"Love for the oppressed create anger with the oppressor for evermore....It is the wrath of the Lamb which is terrible, the wrath of One whose very heart and nature are love and gentleness. Wrath kindled by love is the fiercest flame that burns."

"It is the hungry man the devil attacks. If that be true physically, it is preeminently true spiritually. My brother see to it that when morning breaks you go to God for sustenance for your spiritual life. That will make you strong against the allurements of the devil."

"There is nothing God loves and the devil hates more than a man who can forgive."

Saturday, September 12, 2015


My neglect of this blog forces me to list the highlights of our summer in a bullet format:
  • Elysia's garden got bigger this summer with the highlight being a new patch of strawberries, and some additional rhubarb plants from some local farms. We really enjoyed eating the fresh peas, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. 

  • Our cat ran away after only two months of making our home its habitat. We put out fliers, looked for hours and spent time chasing down leads to no avail.
  • An active summer of driving around for appointments, weeks of Bible Camp, and airport runs kept Elysia in the driver's seat much of the time. The time driving aggravated her hip condition and back pain thus changing her mind and scheduling hip surgery for September 2.
  • Ethan spent two weeks in May teaching in the beautiful African country of Uganda. two months later in July, he travelled again, this time to teach pastors in South Asia.
  • Ethan spent Father's Day in bed with pneumonia.
  • Gretchen and Peter John experienced ministry first-hand by loving the poor and serving on a mission trip to South Dakota in June.
  • Amy and Elysia went to the Sherburne County Fair. She rode a Ferris Wheel for the first time!

  • Peter John was our faithful keeper of our yard through weekly lawn mowing and trimming.
  • Gretchen improved her culinary skills (and kept our kitchen hot) by her daily baking and cooking projects.
  • An inch worm got into our A/C Heat Exchange wall unit thus burning out an off-brand Korean machine with an expired warranty and no options for replacement parts. Amazing what a little worm can do.
  • Lizzy and Amy devoured the books on our shelves and at the Princeton Library. We visited the library every Monday on our way to violin lessons. The girls are learning so much from their teacher, Jill Musick Selin, who teaches out of her farm house in rural Princeton. Gretchen has excelled under her tutelage as well.
  • Ethan's sister, Sharon, spent five days with us while her son was at Bible Camp. While she was here, she helped Elysia repaint our basement bathroom a light Aqua color to match the turquoise and pink decor. Yay!
  • Peter John was invited by his Uncle David to spend a week in Utah and Montana with him and cousin Andy which included a backpacking trip to a lake for camping in Yellowstone Park. David put him in the front of the hike because he was a good pacesetter. PJ is almost six feet tall now at age 12.

  • Ethan's nephew, Tim, from Dallas spent some time with us in August so that he could also attend Bible Camp at Inspiration Point. Sadly, Peter John missed camp because of a persistent fever virus. 
  • Lizzy's grandparents flew her out to Arizona to visit them for a few days before our family reunion in August. Elysia gave up her sweet daughter as an "unaccompanied minor" on an airplane flight entrusting her into The Good Shepherd's hands. Lizzy was the first in our family to ever see the Grand Canyon! She took lots of pictures.
  • After some major work on our cars at Integrity Automotive, we packed up Waldo, our little trailer, and took the minivan packed with camping gear for our family car trip to Montana and Eastern Idaho. The first weekend was spent in Billings to attend our nephew, Mark's confirmation and to hear his dad, Bill, preach at Yellowstone Lutheran Brethren Church. Elysia's parents and ancestors are from Montana, so we drove to Sunset Memorial Gardens to visit the graves of her grandparents and other relatives. 
  • We saw Ethan's entire family for our family reunion at his brother's cabin in Eastern Idaho, and we enjoyed Bear and Moose country. What a feast for our eyes. The mountains were lovely, albeit covered in a smoky haze from the western forest fires. After the reunion, our little family rented a forest service log cabin with no electricity or water in the wilderness of the Gallatin Mountain range of Montana.  than was in his happy place. We cooked in cast iron over a fire and brought gear to protect us from the Grizzlies. We carried water from the natural spring in buckets for washing and filtering for drinking. The undistracted, quiet secluded life gave us time with each other, with God, and alone with ourselves. The girls especially enjoyed the natural springs near the cabin, and we all enjoyed mountaineering and playing in the creeks. Ethan, Gretchen, PJ, and Amy made it to the top of Pika Point on a seven-hour hike. Elysia's hips and back forced her to turn back. Lizzy went with her along with the bear spray. Ethan kept the wood stove burning at night, and we awoke to frost outside three mornings in a row. On our hikes each day we saw screeching hawks, squirrels, many small birds, mule deer, woodchucks, gophers, a pair of beavers at a mountain lake, ducks, and horses. The flowers up high on the mountain caught our attention, especially the Indian paintbrush and the lupine. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
    Pika Point, Montana

  • Lizzy got braces!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Bow My Knees to the Father

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…" 
Elysia's dad and sister. He took her to her senior prom.

Ethan at the Civil War Memorial of his great-great grandfather. With our three youngest children.

Ethan's dad a few years ago with our two youngest children.

"...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hitherto Hath The Lord Helped Us Part I

Why are missionaries leaving their posts in other countries? Which of these reasons are preventable? How can we care for missionaries so that Christ's commission to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel" may be accomplished?  I hope to explore some of these questions in a couple of short blog posts, with great help from the research project conducted by WEC titled "ReMap" meaning 'Reducing Missionary Attrition Project' conducted in 1994 and later in 2003 ReMap II focusing on the U.S. as a sending country.  William David Taylor compiled a book titled "Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition" copyright 1997 by the William Carey Library.  Google books has a lot of this book available to read for free online.  The ReMAP research project accomplished much by not only researching agencies from the Old Sending Countries (i.e. USA, UK, Germany, etc.) but also researching agencies from the New Sending Countries such as Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name a few.  Amongst the New Sending Countries, the number one and two reasons given for leaving the mission field were:

1. Lack of Home Support (the financial and prayer network)
2. Lack of Call (a clear call to missions from God)

This is in contrast to missionaries sent from Old Sending Countries which named these top reasons for attrition:

1. Normal Retirement
2. Children  (e.g. education, adjustment issues, etc.)

[Too Valuable to Lose, pg.92-93]

Though the financial support question for missionaries from the Majority World is an obvious danger, missionaries from the U.S. can struggle, too, with making ends meet and providing the necessary support system to accomplish their work for the Kingdom.  Missionaries may struggle whether to go to the doctor or not for serious health issues because they do not have the money necessary to go.  They may have trouble with finding adequate transportation because of needed car repairs or lack of a car altogether. Others struggle with how to educate their children without the funds necessary to do so.  I see two important solutions to these problems:

1. Despite our perceived lack, we put our hope and trust in God, who will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) A deep abiding trust is needed to keep going in our call to serve.  We can learn much from Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 19th Century, on this topic of trust.
Clearly, the highest value for Taylor was that of trust in God, who can always be counted on. Ebenezer ("Hitherto hath the Lord helped us") and Jehovah jireh ("The Lord will provide") became his watchwords.
Through his entire ministry, Taylor's trust was tested in regard to financial support. Inspired by George Muller, he decided to avoid debt like the plague, and to make no appeal for funds except to God Himself. He was not averse to describing a need, but he resolutely let God inspire the giving and saw the blessing, with unexpected finances coming when most needed. "Money wrongly placed and money given from wrong motives are both to be greatly dreaded," he said. "Depend upon it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's sup plies." One time he noted, "We have twenty-five cents and all the promises of God."
[Ed Gallagher, article "Hudson Taylor: the man God shaped for China," Ministry Journal, November 2005]  We have seen this over and over again in our years of ministry.  God will never forsake the righteous.  He is always faithful.

2. Every effort must be made by the Church to send missionaries well-equipped and continue to support them in private and corporate prayer, through adequately funding their efforts, and by providing as much missionary care as possible.  We must look beyond ourselves and look to God whose economy is not ours and from Whom all blessings flow, see where He is working, and become a part of obeying Christ's commission to "Go."  As John Piper has so famously spoken, "Go, send, or disobey." May we store up treasures in heaven by supporting the teachers and preachers of the Gospel both here in our home country and abroad to preach the Gospel where Christ has never been named.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Update from Uganda and from Home

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1

People often ask how we do while Ethan is away for periods of time. This trip is sixteen days total, and he has been gone two weeks so far. I always answer that I support him completely in what he is doing in teaching the Gospel to those who need the training the most. It is truly a privilege to serve the King of Kings and to be a missionary. 
My chaperone group at the musical "Peter Pan" Children's Theater, Mpls.

Mother's Day dinner at Culver's Restaurant

Breakfast made by G and a Lego note made by my two youngest

Fun at our friend's horse show

We saw lots of friends at the horse show

Life goes on….G's recital is coming up.
Nevertheless, with the privilege comes the trials and sorrows, too. The hard work of raising children and tending to their needs, including their ever-changing emotions, can be wearing. In addition, we experience the attacks from the Enemy of our souls, who sends His fiery darts relentlessly.

This relentless pursuit from the Enemy involves attacking our physical lives such as illness or in causing our car, oven, and washing machine to break down on the same trip my husband got his documents stolen and was stuck in London for three days; or it involves our emotions and temptations to sin which we daily battle (uffda, yesterday morning was a tough battle in that regard); or battling our wills to keep praying for the work in these other countries and staying close to God in His word; or distracting us from the real work, which is believing in Jesus whom the Father sent and rejoicing that our names are written in heaven; and finally, and most concerning, distracting us from the glory of our great and beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ, who is our Good Shepherd, our Faithful High Priest, the Alpha and the Omega, the Bread of Life, the Living Water sent from Heaven, the Redeemer, the Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Resurrection and the Life, the Door, the Vine, the Servant, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Judge, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. When these attacks come, we turn to Jesus with the Shield of Faith God has given us to extinguish these fiery darts coming at us from all directions. We are confident because God's word tells us:
Psalm 17:8-9
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me.
Psalm  118:5-7, 14,
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me…The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Photo taken near the campus in Uganda
I have spoken to Ethan a few times through the computer, as the University has a good internet connection. Ethan's classes are at the end of a ten-hour day of intense classes for the students, who are often very tired by this point.  This two-week intense period of classes are offered for remote students, including pastors, who must travel periodically to the University in order to study and take classes.  Ethan spends three hours teaching them, and then the last hour and a half of class is spent at the library working on papers and quizzes, as well as studying.  He has taken some time throughout the class for brief breaks so that the students can keep going.  Africa Renewal University sits in a lovely location with beautiful brick buildings overlooking hills and trees.  Ethan spent time last Saturday traveling to see other parts of Uganda including Lake Victoria, a once in a lifetime experience.  He preached Sunday at the campus church, and is currently working through the last week of classes.  We see him again Saturday afternoon.  Hurray!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Elysia's Artwork (A few things, anyway)

Van Gogh's "Starry Night" made with frosting

Baby Afghan crochet

The Art of Gardening?

I made these school dresses for my girls three years ago.

Watermelon cake :)

Ethan asked me to paint the Lindt bar on his pinewood derby car.

PJ had me paint the Milka bar wrapper print on his car.

Colossians 1 map - calligraphy March 2015

Fill My Cup and Let it Overflow With Love - painted in college

Pastor Vijay - painted this month

Vlad, a Romanian orphan - sketched 10 years ago

My Dad - sketched in high school

My Dad - sketched in high school

My youngest - sketched a couple years ago

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Pearly's Photography

Our oldest daughter created a number of photos over the months.  

Walking on the Lake

Notice the UND head warmer? Both Granddads would be proud.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sowing Seeds 2014

I encourage you to watch this video. You will see where our ministry of teaching God's Word has taken Ethan this past year. We praise God for the privilege to work in His Kingdom.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hymn of the Week

There Is A Fountain

by William Cowper, 1772
Read and Listen to Cowper's biography by John Piper here. (via Desiring God)

Sung by Selah link above.
  1. There is a fountain filled with blood,
    Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood
    Lose all their guilty stains.
  2. The dying thief rejoiced to see
    That fountain in His day;
    And there have I, though vile as he,
    Washed all my sins away.
  3. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
    Shall never lose its pow’r,
    Till all the ransomed church of God
    Are safe, to sin no more.
  4. E’er since by faith I saw the stream
    Thy flowing wounds supply,
    Redeeming love has been my theme,
    And shall be till I die.
  5. When this poor, lisping, stamm’ring tongue
    Lies silent in the grave,
    Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
    I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Spring With the Girls

My oldest daughter and I at our Women's Retreat
Overnights with Friends are the Best!

Friends Forever!

30 second hold. Check.
Taking advantage of free compost at the local Leaf & Brush site.
My spring garden section takes up about ¼ of our huge garden space.
GDG stomp! GDG stomp! GG DD! GDG stomp!