Monday, December 3

We have decided to leave Salem on Thursday. Stay for one more teaching by Steve on Wednesday, finish the last little items on this installation and move on… North. I am sad to leave. This place has become a home for me. I like Salem, the fellowship here, the people.

Thus far, in this journey, there have been two places that I have met and struggled with God. Tucson, Arizona and Salem, Oregon. Both feel like home. I have grown in Salem, become closer to God. Both of these two towns have had difficult moments… change and growth are hard and uncomfortable.

But this place, Salem, has become a home to me. (Tucson is just too hot - it would be really hard to live there in the summer months!!)

Jeff and I look ahead toward Everett, Washington. Last week, before calling the Pastor there, I was full of hope that it would be a haven for our family. Now, we both feel that we must just get in the RV, drive there and be done with it. Our instructions from God were to go to Everett, Washington… so we will be obedient and complete the journey.

But nothing says that we have to stay there for too long. Our plan (today!) is to drive straight to Everett and then to turn around and drive south again. We have to be in Tucson by the end of February and knowing us it will take some time to amble our way to Arizona!

So, we will set off on Thursday, not stopping at any fellowships until we have completed our duty to God. Be obedient and pray that He will fill us in on the next leg of the journey after we have followed His directions and go to Everett, Washington.

But I will miss Salem. I will miss these people, they have become like family to us all. I will pray that it is God’s will settle us to here in the end.

Tuesday, December 4

And do not set your heart of what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 12:29-31

I am getting better at heeding this scripture, I didn't panic too terribly much this time! Again, we were close to the bottom of our resources and God provided. Of course, it didn’t last too long as we had bills to pay, but the bills did get paid! All thanks to the providence of God, through the generosity of this body of believers.

This piece of scripture is so hard for me to believe. No, that’s not it. It isn’t hard to believe, it is just difficult to imagine why God would concern himself with my needs. So, every time we get close to the bottom of our barrel, I panic. God certainly doesn’t want to provide for me!! And yet, He does… always and faithfully.

God is faithful and true, even when we are not. I should be less panic prone - I have experienced God’s provision in our lives over and over again these last eighteen months. And yet… I still weaken at the knees, sleeplessly toss and turn, concerned with the what we will eat and drink - how we will pay our bills.

Lord, forgive me for my weakened and selfish faith. I place my trust in you, yet again and again I doubt and am fearful. Lord, forgive me.

Wednesday, December 5

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near you and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:33-34

Well, it must be December! I was up until two in the morning yesterday, and here it is the crack of dawn and I can’t sleep! All that I can think about are all the things I must do. Last night I was a crazy woman, sewing four fancy “dress-ups” for Eve’s Christmas Gift.

Everything else is done, except… I have yet to complete the backing and quilting on two more quilts (Grace and Jeff’s). That’s it. But my mind is absolutely wide awake thinking about these two items left on my to-do list. I guess since we are leaving on Thursday morning, and I am not going to have the space to sew in after today as a result, I feel just crazed trying to get all my sewing done!

And I thought we were doing Christmas differently!

Funny, how so easily we can focus on the “things” to accomplish rather than the true gift of this Christmas. Even though we are barely “doing” the holiday, I am still painfully focused on completing my list of errands and gifting.

It is a precarious fence… to be in the world, yet not of the world. I want so much to please my family - to provide for them the comfort of “things”. I wonder, where is my treasure in these days of wildness? It could be so simple to wander from seeking the kingdom while traveling through the world in the month of December!

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”

Luke 23:1

Thursday, December 6

Arrgh! I couldn’t sleep at all last night!

All I could do was worry over where we are going next, worry if we will leave on time today, worry if we will be able to get back here to Salem for Christmas, worry over how we are going to have time to stop in Astoria, OR (to help a sister fellowship of this one), worry if we will make any other stops, worry if we will have enough funds to make it the next couple of weeks….

Worry, worry, worry!

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Matthew 6:27-34

I know!!! So I PRAY!

Lord, give me peace. Keep me from this omnipresent worry and concern, for by worrying I affect no change… nothing at all. Lord, I know the future lies in your firm and faithful grip and that my hope is in You. Lord give Jeff a heart of discernment to hear You and to be obedient to Your call. And give me a heart of submission to willingly and joyfully let go of all my concerns and trust in You.

Ahhh Lord. How does the song go…? Your love is abounding, always is surrounding, Your Love lifts me up.

Thanks Father.

So, today we leave. Waaaaa. I love these people and this place. I will pray that it is God’s will for us to return here for Christmas!

Oh my goodness. As I am sitting here writing, I keep hearing a little song… what is it?? EVE! She is singing in her sleep. What a hoot! Eve is always singing… day and night. Her songs always revolve around how much she loves Jesus and her family. And now she is singing in her sleep!

Last night the gal that teaches Eve’s Wednesday night Pioneer Club here at the church, told me that Eve had informed her that since she (Eve) had attended three Wednesday classes she now was eligible to receive a Pioneer Club Book. WHAT? Apparently this is the rule, attend three classes and you get the book.

Eve had remembered this and let the teacher know she remembered! Then Eve asked for a copy of the words to the songs they were singing last night, so she could learn them. Eve is FOUR!! She can’t read! What a hoot this child is!!

Little Eve is such a funny little girl! Last night, as the band was practicing before the service, Pastor Steve set her up on a stool on stage behind the microphones and underneath all the stage lights. Then he played his guitar and accompanied Eve as she sang Jesus Love You. It was the sweetest and most touching thing.

Eve makes my heart glad.

Well, I’d best wake everyone up so we can get started on the packing and preparing for travel. It’s just so quiet and peaceful right now, kinda hate to get things started yet! But maybe that is more a function of my desire not to leave.

I really pray that it is God’s will for us to come back to this place permanently.

Goodbye Salem.

Friday, December 7

Today we are recovering! We had planned on leaving Salem yesterday around “noon-ish”. We were off by about oh… twelve hours!!! Yep, that’s right we didn’t actually leave Salem until 1:45 am… that is AM as in AFTER midnight!!

Jeff had a few details to clean-up on the sound system. Well, a few details led to a few more, then to a few more… until he completed the details at 1:23am!! I did note the time!! It was fine though, he felt good to get the job done and the kids and I were more than happy to give him the space to finish!!

While Jeff was working last night, the girls sewed and watched television. Kurt had an opportunity to go to downtown Salem and do some street evangelism with one of the younger men - Noel, a Pastor in training! Kurt loves to do street evangelism… interesting hobby for a boy from Orange County (Praise God for that!).

After leaving Salem, we drove … gosh … four miles?? Yep, we drove to the nearest - WAL-MART!! So, we are back on the road again - Wal-Mart… here we are! As we settled down for the night, Jeff promised we would leave by 10:00am on Friday. And so we did!!

We awoke and quickly “broke camp”, heading towards Olympia, Washington. We had briefly spoken to one of the Pastor’s at the Calvary in Olympia and offered to help them install an new sound board.

Unfortunately when we arrived here, the board was not yet here! However, they do need some soldering on a patch panel, which Jeff gladly agreed to do for them.  So, we will stay here for Sunday service and then off to Everett, WA.

An amazing thing did happen today! I found that there is another Calvary in Everett. It is on the Calvary Map as Everett, but it is actually in Marysville. I called and spoke at length with the Pastor’s wife, Shannon. WOW!! She is awesome and was incredibly kind enough to invite us to come stay on their property while in Everett.

Jeff spoke with her husband, Dave and will be looking at their sound system. This fellowship in Marysville does not have a permanent facility so the system is portable - one of Jeff’s specialties!!!

So, maybe there is a reason God wants us in Everett? Perhaps I was mislead by my own “self”. When the “big” church in Everett did not need us, I was devastated… but perhaps that was just my need to be with the “big guys”, not necessarily God’s plan!!

Interesting, eh!

Saturday, December 8

I found an interesting book in the church (Olympia, WA) yesterday. I can hardly put it down. It is about the founder and beginnings of the ministry - Gospel for Asia - by K.P. Yohannan. Oh my gosh, it is so challenging to me.

He talks about the spread of the gospel in Asia, led by native missionaries. Another point of his book is the prosperity of the American/Canadian church and how caught in sin we are here! He believes (and I think he is pretty close to the truth) that the Church here is caught in the sins of pride, unbelief and worldliness.

To him who is given much, much is expected. What are we supposed to do with our abundance? There is one answer in scripture - share.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.

2 Corinthians 8:13-14

Dr. Yohannan talks about the cost of spreading the Gospel in the Third World. All we would have to do in the American and Canadian Church is to give a mere dollar a day - nothing really, to organizations that actively share the Gospel.

Not humanitarian organizations - hospitals, food, clothing, etc. - but to organizations that actively spread the gospel… just like the scriptures teach us!!! The great commission is not to feed or cloth or medicate the world, it is to share the GOSPEL.

This book - Revolution in World Mission - is amazing and is certainly opening my eyes to a different perspective on sharing the Gospel and the Great Commission.

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”

Mark 16:15

Something to think about anyway!

Sunday, December 9

It is really cold and damp and gray here in Washington.  We are leaving Olympia tomorrow and heading to Everett.  I am looking forward to finding what God has for us there and moving forward.  Jeff tells me that there is a meeting in Anaheim, California in the middle of January that he would like to attend.  So, it looks like we will be heading south again fairly soon.

I can't wait to see the sun again.

LATER:

I have been so sad and kind of depressed today (and, truth be told, yesterday). It is dreary and gray here, cold and damp. My knee and hip are killing me… thus I have been a little down in the dumps. I even had a pity party this afternoon!

But, I feel much better right now! I just spent half an hour sharing our story with the Associate Pastor. Funny, but talking and sharing the grace and mercy of God just peps me right up!!!

When I am reminded of His faithfulness in my life and can point it all back to Him, my life just takes on a new dimension and joy. The dreariness just doesn’t bother me when I am able to share about the Lord’s touch in our lives!!

Perhaps that was why Salem was such a great place for me… God was so present there, He is moving in that place and I was reminded of His power and glory at every turn in my day. Even though Salem is also a gray and rainy place… God was available to me there.

Or maybe, I was available to Him.

Monday, December 10

I am angry, angry, angry. I don’t want to go to Everett - But I AM! I am dutifully following my husband… even though I am not certain that he is discussing things with and following God. I want to go to Everett and LEAVE. Do what Jeff feels that God is directing us to do, then LEAVE.

If Jeff spent more time in the Word. If he spent more time actively praying and seeking God’s face, this would not be so difficult for me. I would then feel safe that Jeff is actually being obedient to God. I am not so sure right now. How can he be obedient to God if there is little communication?

I know that during worship time, Jeff is not involved in the worship. He is too busy paying attention to the sound system. Same thing with the teachings. Jeff is so involved in listening to the sound system, that he spends little time listening to the teaching.

So, how is Jeff getting his direction? He doesn’t get up early to spend time with God. Nor does he do it in the evening - that’s TV time for Jeff.

I am frightened. That is the truth. I guess I am not so much angry then, as I am frightened.

I know that God’s word teaches me to be obedient to God. Like Sara, follow my husband, even when he is out of God’s will. I know that the Word teaches me that if I am obedient - like Sara - God will protect me.

Was Sara frightened? Did she wonder what was up with her husband? Did she obey Old Abraham with a happy heart or did she experience trepidation and worry?

I am scared… And at times like this, I just want a normal life, in a normal house, in a normal place. I know that is not God’s will for me right now so I continue praying and seeking His face.

I pray for me, not for Jeff. Perhaps all this is really not about Jeff and his time with the Lord, perhaps it is about me and my willingness to submit under any circumstance. How to become obedient with a happy and willing heart?

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:29-30

How do I rejoice and do this (and all things) with a gentle and humble heart, experience this as easy and a light burden?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to Jesus. Okay, I can do that… Jesus, I pray you lift this fear from me, make this burden of obedience to my wandering husband a light and easy yoke. Give me rest from the desire for plans and direction, make my journey easy and light in your sight. Lord, let me rest in your arms. I am weary Lord, please give me your peace which passes all understanding. Because I lack so mightily in the understanding…

Lord, I need your peace.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 11

I am having a terrible morning. Still so angry and frightened. But first, last night…

We arrived in Everett (actually nearby Marysville) and are staying with a great family recently moved here from Temecula, California! When I spoke with Shannon (the Pastor’s wife), although generously she had invited us to stay on their farm, she directed us to stay with this family. (The road into the Pastor’s farm is apparently treacherous for a motor home.)

We arrived around five o’clock and after setting up the slide and finding power, we had a meal of “left-overs”!! Afterwards we went inside and had a wonderful time of fellowship with our hosts (Sherry and Steve) and Pastor Dave and his wife, Shannon.

The kids all had a marvelous time. Each child had another his or her age… it was terrific. A very funny moment came when we first arrived and Sherry introduced us to her children, two girls (8 and 10) and a son (5). Her son is named… ADAM! We all laughed and laughed. Especially Eve and Adam! They thought it was a hoot that they were named like the bible story and they were new friends!!

The evening went very well! This is one of the first places we’ve been where we have actually met and made friends with people our own ages (all of us!!). It is kinda nice to meet women in the same place in life as me!

After a nice evening of fellowship we ambled outside and tucked everyone in for the night. The evening was very pleasant!

But then this morning …

I awoke and grabbed my bible to read a little bit before the day began. I asked Jeff to turn off the television so I could read and I upset him. I didn’t mean to irritate him... but then again... maybe I did.  Am I being judgmental?  

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Romans 2:1

So, I pray that I am not prideful nor judge Jeff during my time of unrest and uncertainty. I pray that I find peace in our situation.

"Pride only breeds quarrels..."                   Proverbs 13:10

 

Wednesday, December 12

It’s morning again… a dark and dreary day in the Northwest.

Yesterday, although began with difficulty, ended in victory! I spent the greater part of the day battling with myself. Trying hard not to jump all over Jeff and be judgmental. I cleaned the house and got the kids ready for the day with tersely held silence. And as we drove to our meeting in Woodinville (with Mackie Industrial) I sat in stony silence.

It was horrible. And Jeff, bless his heart, was kind enough not to question my mood, or force an response from me. He just waited for me to come to a place where I could talk to him. He spent the day waiting.

As we drove away from our meeting with the Mackie people, we talked. I shared my fears about a leader who appeared not to be taking counsel from the Lord. My fears that he had not consulted our God, through the Word, about our future, our direction.

And Jeff, this man with a gentle spirit, listened to me quietly. Nodded his head and agreed. He allowed me to share my fears without a knee-jerk reaction. He listened. He did not turn it around on me, make it my problem. He just listened and then he agreed that time with the Lord had been hard for him to find these last several months.

He has so thoroughly thrown himself into the work of the ministry that he had all but forgotten his personal time of meditation and study of the Word. Jeff acknowledged the difficulty he was having in finding the motivation and time to be in the Word.

Praise God. It was incredible!

This was the first time (that I can remember) where I was able to share my fears, that I did not burst into tears or destroy the moment with accusations!!! It was fantastic!!! AND, it was the first time (that I can remember) where Jeff responded in a gentle, thoughtful manner, giving me great comfort and assurance.

He did not try to solve the problem or make promises, he just listened and agreed there was a problem. WOW!!!

So, I feel much better! And then this morning… what did Jeff do upon rising??? He read the Bible!! Cool!! And… (this is the best part) he woke up first and made the coffee!! Yippee!!! This is great!

So, even though the day outside is dark and dreary, inside our little RV the sun is shining and all is well!!!

NOTE: I am finding that my mood is very definitely affected by the grayness outside. And, this is weird, as soon as the sun goes down, and it is dark, my mood recovers. Odd.

Oh, one more thing!

As we were driving home from our appointment yesterday, we drove past another Calvary Chapel so we stopped in! It was the one I called last week, the one that told us they didn’t have any need of our ministry. Well, the coolest thing is that we stopped and knocked on the door and the Pastor was the one who answered the door!

We shared with the Pastor about our ministry and he showed us his equipment, said they had a few problems and was very sweet and a really great guy!!! He told us if we needed to plug in - to get our email - that we were welcome to use his facilities!

Then, lo and behold, the fellow that I had originally talked to us on the phone last week showed up. He was obviously taken aback to see that we were there, but it was okay!! It was a great experience and nice closure for us… we learned that it was not the Pastor or the fellowship that didn’t need us, it was just the communication style of the staffer that we spoke with.

The Pastor then asked if we would be willing to help another fellowship in Bremerton that seems to be having some difficulties, and of course… we agreed. So, it looks like we will be heading to Bremerton before hightailing it south!!

Thursday, December 13

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up"             Proverbs 12:25

I received a very encouraging email today from my Texas friend.  Thank you Lord for those hands that typed the message, thank you for the encouragement!  Gosh I needed that!

Friday, December 14

Arrgh.  Yesterday was another tough day.  This grayness is wearing me down.  I seem to be okay after dark, it's just the daytime where I seem to be disintegrating.  I spent most of yesterday in tears or on the verge of tears.  I am trying to fight this malaise, but seem to be failing.  What I do not want to happen is that we leave this place because I can't hack it...

God called us here for a purpose.  And I do not want to be the reason that Jeff misses an opportunity to serve Him or have fellowship with the Lord.  I am trying to rise above this overwhelming sense of grayness and I seem to be failing.  Lord, help me overcome this - only in You will I make it through this time.

Last night we went to church and had a very sweet time of fellowship, worship and learning.  Pastor Dave is a very gentle teacher, very easy to learn from.  It was a wonderful evening.

I am enjoying my time with Sherry so very much!  She is a wonderful and godly woman.  And it is so terrific to spend time with another home schooler and see a different way to accomplish the training and educating of our children.  I have never spent a great deal of time with another family that home schools, so this time is very special for me. 

And Grace is absolutely loving it here!  She is totally thrilled at spending time with Sherry's daughters.  They play dolls and dress-up, make-believe and house.  It is marvelous.  Last night when she went to bed, Grace whispered to me that she was so happy to have found girls like her, that still liked to play dolls and not have to act all grown up.  Ohh, Lord... thank you for this time for our Grace.

We are going to have a little birthday party for Grace tomorrow.  She is inviting the girls into the RV, they will watch a movie, eat skittles candy, popcorn and brownies!  She is thrilled to share her special day with other girls!  I will have to go out today and find some birthday candles and streamers to decorate the RV.  This is so good for Grace.  We were beginning to think she was the only ten, ooops I mean eleven year-old girl in America!

We have not heard back from Bremerton, so it looks like we will be heading south to Astoria next.  I am excited about going south.  I look forward to seeing my Mom and Dad, brother and sisters in January as we pass through California on our way to Arizona!  I am longing to see them all, to just give them hugs.

"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

James 3:17-18

Saturday, December 15

Well, it is still gray here.

But… I am getting better! It really helps that Sherry and I have so much fun together! Yesterday morning the two of us went to Costco and today we quilted together. It is so nice to spend time with another home schooling mom who is so very genuine and wise. What a gift Sherry is to me!

Yesterday was a great day. It was sunny all day! In the afternoon, Jeff and the kids and I went to Seattle, looked at the Space Needle ($35 to go to the top was ridiculous!!) and checked out the free stuff in the basement of the Music Museum ($65 for entrance was just outrageous!!).

But you know what? We had a great time doing the free stuff! In fact we had so much fun and were laughing so much at dinner (McDonald’s) that a man stopped by our table and commented on how much fun we were having together! It was a great day!!

Oh, we heard back from Bremerton… they don’t need us to stop by, they hired a guy to tweek their system! That means we can HEAD SOUTH!!! Yeeehawwwww!!!

Monday, December 17

It’s Eight O’clock in the morning and we will be leaving Washington in just a few short hours. I have learned much here. I have learned that this would be a hard place for me to live, but I would survive it. The grayness overwhelms me, but the fellowship of like-minded women shines sunlight on my soul. All things are possible through Christ Jesus!

I have learned that the Lord gives me strength to shoulder my way through adversity and that given enough time, I can find God in the midst of uncertainty. He surrounds me and lifts me, filling my sails with the strong and steady wind of His faithful love and protection.

I have learned that I am married to the most wonderful and patient man on the face of the earth… He’s mine and I am so grateful that the Lord led us together. Jeff is kind and long-suffering. He is loving and all that I am not, we balance each other in all things through laughter and our shared love of Jesus.

Jeff weathers the storms of my emotions with a calm heart and such gentleness. I can only guess how difficult it must be to read some of the things I write about our struggles together, and yet Jeff encourages me to write and to publish. What a humble man.

Praise God for this man of mine. He cushions my falls and expands my life with joy. Jeff’s humble heart and goodness surround my life in a love that is unique and so very precious. Thank you Lord for allowing Jeff into my life. Thank you for giving him the strength to stick with me, even in the darkest hours of my life.

I know that our struggles in marriage and in life are not unique in any way. And that countless women across this great country of ours have these same issues. I am so grateful that Jeff encourages me to share my heart and to minister to my sisters in the Lord.

My husbands humble heart and steadfast love make my knees tremble and my soul swell with love.

The husband and father in the home is to model the love and faithfulness of our Lord. His job is to love his wife as Christ loves the church (remember… Christ died for the church). I have that model in my Jeff.

Cool.

Tuesday, December 18

Yesterday I did the driving from Marysville, Washington to Warrenton (near Astoria), Oregon.  It was BEAUTIFUL!!  I was blessed with sunshine the whole way!  And ZERO RAIN!!  It rained before me and behind me, but we managed to drive safely and comfortably through the day without a drop of rain falling on us!! It was a blessed and marvelous day!!  Thank you Jesus!!!

Tomorrow is Grace's birthday!  She will be eleven!! 

We are staying in a RV Park in Warrenton, OR and it is wonderful!  We have electricity, running water, hot showers and CABLE!!  This is so fantastic!  I will be able to bake a cake for Grace's birthday and cook her the ribs she so desperately wants for dinner! 

Ain't life grand?!!

Saturday, December 22

Well the last four days have passed in a blur. Wednesday was Gracie’s birthday. We had a wonderful day. For breakfast I served her pancakes and bacon - her favorite breakfast. Lunch was cold tortellini and ranch dressing - her favorite lunch. And dinner was ribs and corn - her favorite dinner. And the cake… ah, the final crowning glory of the day… chocolate-chocolate cake (my grandma’s famous recipe!).

After cooking all morning, I took the kids out to see Fort Stevens! We had a great time checking out the batteries and the fort itself. Then we took a spin down to the beach and walked about ten paces before retreating to the warmth of the car. It was REALLY COLD.

After dinner Grace opened her birthday gifts and was enormously happy!! It was a grand day!

Well… the next two days (Thursday and Friday) I spent either holding Eve in my lap or holding her hair out of the way while she threw-up. The stomach flu attacked with a vengeance! Grace was beginning to get sick on Friday and then it really set in for her today! We got the flu big time around here!

To top it off, we spent today driving from Warrenton to Salem. So poor Grace had to deal with the moving vehicle while she was ill. Grace is a real trooper!!

When we arrived back in Salem (at the church!), Jeff went right in and started working on the sound system. They put up the final boards on the soffet and it changed the EQ of the monitors, so Jeff spent several hours this evening “ringing out” the system. Meanwhile, I have been inside the RV - baking Christmas cookies and holding Grace’s hair while she was sick.

It was a lovely evening.

Funny thing - Eve was so jealous of my attention to Grace. She would not stop crying or stay out of my lap. Eve even said that when I rubbed Grace’s back it made her sad that I didn’t love her anymore.  Amazing.  So… lots of loving to Eve tonight and words about sharing and self-less-ness.

I hope they are better tomorrow! There is a special service tomorrow night that I really want to attend as a family… to celebrate the birth of our AMAZING SAVIOR!!!

Well, I am going to toddle off to bed. I have had a bellyful of sick girls!! Pray Jeff, Kurt or I don’t get it too!!!!

Sunday, December 23

This evening the fellowship here in Salem held an evening Christmas Worship service. It was absolutely marvelous!!! The service was held at the old Mill Museum in downtown Salem and well over 500 people came out for the event! It was a wonderful time.

Jeff did the sound (of course!!!), while the kids and I enjoyed the evening of song and praise. The best part was my little Eve. Steve invited her and another little girl to sing the opening lines of a song from stage, kind of a “cuteness” thing. So, Eve of course agreed to do it, the stage is her second home!

Well, the whole evening little Evie kept complaining of a tummy ache. I basically held her in my arms the whole night. I couldn’t take her home (or Grace either, who was also not feeling well), because we only had one car, and stranding Jeff at the Mill Museum would not have been a good thing! So, I held her in my arms and told her not to worry, she did not have to go onstage to sing if she felt ill.

Well, Steve called Eve and the other little girl to the stage and Eve sat bolt upright and said, “I have to go, that’s me!”. So, off she went! That child is such a trooper. She went onstage and with a huge smile sang her part and did just GREAT!! When Steve asked the two girls to introduce themselves, well Eve just grabbed the mic and said, “I’m EVE”, in the biggest and most confident voice.

It was adorable!

After her song she came off stage and crawled into my lap, again sick with a tummy ache. That child is a trooper and a born performer. It didn’t matter that she was sick… the show must go on!!

Wow.

Monday, December 24

I had an interesting conversation with the family tonight after dinner.

We were talking about gift giving at Christmas time. I have such a hard time, trying to balance my need to do the “secular thing” and go overboard on the gifts - ignoring the real reason for the season. This year, each of the kids got three gifts each from Jeff and me.

So, we were talking about gift giving and the truest gift, which is the sacrifice of Jesus and the free gift of Grace that the Lord has offered to us all. I think that giving gifts on Christmas is like sharing a bit of that Grace, giving something freely to those we love - to bless their lives and give honor and glory to Christ.

Grace added something that really hit me hard. She said that when we give gifts freely, especially to those we love that are unsaved, they get a chance to experience a little of that wondrous feeling that you get when you accept Christ and His free gift of Grace.

What an amazing brain and heart my Gracie has, thank you Lord… her life is a gift to me.

Wednesday, December 26

Oh, we had a wonderful Christmas this year! Monday we took the kids to Wal-Mart to shop for each other, they had a great time trying to sneak around and find something that would really bless each other!

On Tuesday, we woke late, opened gifts and spent the WHOLE DAY in our pj’s!!! It was great! We spent our day loving each other, talking about the birth of Christ and His gift to our lives. The girls put on a Christmas Pageant - ala Barbie!! We sang carols and just spent the most wonderful day of family and fellowship!

I wanted this Christmas to be different. I thought that by going out into the community and doing something in Christ’s name - like serving at a mission or volunteering to help others would be the “thing” to do for Christmas.

But that isn’t what we did. We spent the day as a family. We spent time together, loving and talking and enjoying each other. There was no rush or struggle to get anywhere. There was no stress. It was just the five of us - being together.

We spend our lives - right now - serving others, going from church to church, helping and serving. It is a wonderful way to spend our lives together and to teach our kids about living a Christ-like life. We have had so many opportunities to share the love of Christ - in a quiet and loving manner - with the families and fellowships with which we have stayed.

This Christmas was a blessing.

We were able to focus on just our kids and our love for them. It was so right.

Saturday, December 29

I am sitting in the kitchen at the home of the Hopkins family in Salem, Oregon. We have just spent a fabulous twenty-four hours here! Steve and Debbie have taken their daughters for a vacation and gave us the key to their home. At first we were reluctant to use their house, it seemed invasive.

But after discussion, we reconsidered and decided to come over for just Friday night - to watch a movie on a big television and take long baths and showers!!

Well, let me tell you… taking a bath where the hot water doesn’t run out and nobody is needs to “get through” the bathroom (because it is the only hallway in your motor home!) was FANTASTIC!! I took a long bubble bath and absolute luxuriated in the hot water and soap!! All of us took a turn and we are all much happier as a result!!

Then we decided to watch a dvd here - Finding Forrester. Afterwards, the girls begged us to stay the night - it was late and no one felt like driving back to the RV. So, we decided to stay and then… we watched another movie - Pearl Harbor. Well, when we finally finished watching it was nearly 3:30 in the morning.

Ooops!!

It was a great night - totally fun and completely out of the ordinary for us all! We had a great time staying up late and talking about WWII, the movie and history! It is now almost eleven in the morning and only Eve and I are up (no, she didn’t stay up until three - only the big kids did!!).

What a great time and what a generous gift the Hopkins gave us by allowing us the use of their home while they are gone!!

I can’t believe the wonderful people the Lord has given into our lives… we are amazingly blessed.

I pray the God leads us back to Salem to settle. I pray that we can work our ministry from this place and continue to serve the Lord through Jeff’s sound expertise. My dream is that we find a farm, build a house with LOTS of room for visitors. I fantasize about living in this place three months, traveling three months - and so on! I have a picture in my head of property where we can grow fruit and vegetables - and continue to serve the Lord.

I pray that this place the Lord has us going to is here… Salem.

But, mostly I pray that wherever the Lord leads us, that we will always be in His will and serving Him - no matter where we end up settling. I pray that our lives will always reflect Him.

I pray that He is always the center of our lives.

Sunday, December 30

In Judah God is known;

his name is great in Israel

His tent is in Salem;

his dwelling place in Zion

Psalm 76:1,2

Monday, December 31

When we were at the Hopkins house, I noticed on their walls some photos of their daughters when they were just five years-old, or thereabouts. I remembered the beautiful portraits that I had done of Kurt and Grace when they were about that age. More than portraits really, pieces of artwork.

I have nothing like that for Eve.

Okay, I know it is just a “thing”, but I do so wish we had the ability to have made one of those classic portraits of Eve, at this time of her childhood. Funny how sometimes those little waves of wistfulness for “things” overtakes me.

And then... I have a conversation with someone like Tom, a gentleman from Salem who spent his Christmas down in Mexico at the Mixteca Mission. His face just shines with enthusiasm for the people and the work being done down there by Monica and Andy (a missionary couple from the Salem Fellowship, who are manning the mission with their kids in tow).

The people there have needs like; batteries for the mission vehicle, a new 200-foot rope to help the villagers who are hand digging a 130 foot deep well, school uniforms for the 125 village children - without which they are unable to get an education.

So, my want for a lovely (and expensive) photo portrait of Eve is really such an unimportant thing when there is such need elsewhere.

And that is the truth of the matter.

 

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