Wednesday, November 1

I spoke with a very good friend yesterday. She shared that I had hurt her feelings recently by something I said to her husband at dinner one evening. I meant it as a jest, but it hurt her heart. As she told me, I broke. How could I be so unthinking? 

Just when we think we are doing things okay and on the right track, we find a stone in the path. Instead of stepping over the stone, it gets picked up and thrown carelessly aside and that is when the stone strikes someone else inadvertently. I meant to throw the stone, I just did not intend it to hurt anyone. 

Careless and thoughtless of me. I will try very hard to step over the stone and not toss it aside next time. I apologized to my friend, but I felt terrible all evening that I had injured her feelings. I must watch the words that I let loose, lest they cause damage.

Last night was Halloween. Although I was a bit conflicted about participating, Jeff and I decided that as long as the children dressed in fun costumes and not evil or death related costumes, there would be no harm in them trick or treating to collect their favorite food…. Candy!! 

So, I called our friends the Thompson's in Pennsylvania to see if we could crash their trick or treating! Generously they allowed us to join them in the great candy event!

Kurt went as a Marine; he already had the fatigues so that was easy. Grace was a hippie. She and I purchased a pair of jeans at Wal-Mart, cut them up and decorated them with fringe and rickrack for her to wear. She had a sweater her Aunt Katy gave her that completed the outfit in true hippie style! She looked great! 

Eve was the topper! I made her a cowgirl costume, complete with fringe and bandanna. WOW! She was so sweet looking. As we were traveling between houses I asked her what she thought of trick or treating. Her sweet little mouth full of chocolate, she replied, " It’s pretty good!!!!" Pretty Good Indeed!

As we drove to Pennsylvania I listened to a tape from Dr. Cherry about educating children. It was certainly an eye opener. As parents, we must be trained up right first, before training our kids. Our actions speak louder than words to the precious ones entrusted to our care. 

When we truly give our lives over to God, follow his commands and live a life of freedom in his love, then we model for our children the path for their lives.

I began to think about my weight problem. What was I saying to Grace, Kurt and Eve, by being unable (or unwilling) to stay on the protein diet the doctor had prescribed for my glucose intolerance problems? They see me take my medication daily. 

I do not always eat right; the children know when I am cheating. So, what is my message to them when I do this? Follow instructions only half way? Hmmmm. Bummer. I think what I have been modeling is not something I want them to copy.

Okay, so now the next question is WHY? Why can’t I stay on my doctor prescribed diet? It is designed to save my life. I don’t want to end up a diabetic. Arrgh! Am I once again, putting my faith and trust in myself to accomplish something, or am I relying on God’s help in this matter.

Ding, ding, ding!!!!! Right answer Christa! I am relying on me. I am failing. Okay, let’s try it God’s way, I will rely on his love and power and grace to get the weight off and eat the right things!! Here goes…

Thursday, November 2

Arrgh! This has certainly been the week of mishaps! As I was driving to the Thompson’s house in Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon, I modified the RV in a small way. 

I turned on to a very narrow stone bridge and with the  protruding corner of the bridge I redecorated the exterior paint and body of our house! Not only did I leave a rather long scar but…. I also conveniently removed the stairs! It was time to remodel anyway!

Well, it is awfully difficult to launch oneself in and out of the doorway, so a new set of stairs must be installed. Fortunately we found a RV dealer in West Chester, PA who could help us immediately. Most places you have to make an appointment, which would have meant MORE time immobile for our gallivanting family. 

A wonderful gentleman named Ben in the service department was able to get us the parts we need and at the same time install the hitch on the Isuzu so that Jeff and I don’t have to drive in separate vehicles as we travel! We will soon be able to tow the new truck behind our home. Yippee! Together again!

As the repairs will take at least two days, we have taken a short jaunt to Lancaster County, PA. It has always been a dream of mine to go to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania. I remember hearing stories about the area from my Grandfather, Papa Joe, when I was little. 

Papa Joe was a multi-talented man, he could paint beautifully. When I was a little girl, he made me a keepsake box and painted it in an Amish Motif. I treasured that box. When Kurt was old enough, I "loaned" him the box; he keeps his treasures inside, just as I did when I was a child. I miss my Grandpa.

Our first stop in Lancaster County was The Quilt Shop. Holy Smokes, I felt like I entered a holy place! The quilts drape the walls, are stacked on beds, and hang from rods. It is a veritable smorgasbord of quilting. Ahhhhhh!!

A young girl and an older woman, both of whom take time to ask me questions about our "different" lifestyle, staff the shop this evening. We spend a wonderful hour sharing our lives and doing what women do best…. Chitchat!! These two lovely women from opposite ends of the age spectrum share something; they both recently lost an important man in their lives. 

Shannah (20) lost her dad to a brain aneurysm three years ago, he was 41. Irene (not 20!) lost her son to cancer three years ago, he also was 41. Irene is strong in her faith; she stands tall with Christ at her side, withstanding the pain of her loss. Shannah questions her faith. She does not understand why God would take her father away.

We talked about the blessings that come from tragedy. God always uses our lives to his glory. It is hard to understand why sometimes! The blessings are always there; sometimes we just have to wait to find them. Blessings from Tragedy. I share with Shannah that sometimes the blessing is you! How could that be, she wonders aloud.

When I was 19, a freshman in college, I was an idealistic young girl. And I was a virgin. I lost my virginity in a date rape to a young man my family had known for decades. Both the rape and the aftermath were a tragedy in my life. However…. There was an enormous blessing from that loss. I am the blessing

Without the experience, I doubt that I would have tumbled so far and compromised my life so dearly that my only way out was through my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Through the depths of my despair and depression over the slide my life took from an idealistic young girl to a compromised woman, I was introduced to Jesus by a therapist that I went to for help. I went to her a confused and hurting woman trying to parent from a foundation of anger and regret. 

Little did I know that this therapist was a Christian woman who would eventually challenge my faith position (I had none!), and lead me to the gate of Christ.

I shared my message of Blessing from Tragedy with Shannah. I don’t know what her blessing will be, but I am sure that God will make a blessing of her through this loss in her young life. It is His promise to his children.

Friday, November 3

Lancaster County is beautiful! Our first "official" stop for the day is the Mennonite Information Center and Hebrew Tabernacle. A very interesting exhibit and tour! The Center has a wonderful "show and tell" explanation of who the Mennonites and Amish are and what they believe. 

It was well done and easy for the kids to understand. They also have a life-sized replica of the Tabernacle of God (Exodus). It gives the children (and adults) a better understanding of the scale of the Temple (small) and the arrangement of the holy objects within the curtain. We all learned a lot about our Hebrew Ancestors and the book of Exodus.

The Temple was narrated and by a gentleman named Roy Bender. It turns out that he works part-time at the Information Center and the rest of his days he serves as a Mennonite Pastor. 

Roy was very interested in our story and asked to see our home. It was a pleasure getting to know this lovely man. He is friendly, intelligent and peaceful. Mennonites aren’t all that different from the rest of us. Just normal folks, trying to live a life of harmony and service.

Roy suggested our next stop be the Anderson Pretzel Company. So, off we went! We were all entertained by the tour of the factory and sampling of the pretzels! Yum, we bought way more than any of us could eat in a month! We learned that a monk invented pretzels, the shape is to suggest praying hands. This monk used the pretzels as rewards for children in the church school when they learned a new scripture or idea! Amazing.

Afterwards we ambled over to the Landis Valley Museum, where docents play the part of townspeople and craftsmen of the early German settlers in Pennsylvania. The museum is outdoors and in period buildings scattered around the property. We met the farm manager, who told us that the museum is involved in an heirloom seed project, trying to find, save and produce seeds from vegetables that were used in the 1700’s. 

The museum is a working farm, complete with livestock that was typical of the period (pig were half boar!). We had a great time learning about the life of these hardy folks from Germany here in the United States.

This morning as soon as I am able to rouse my family we are off to eat breakfast at a Mennonite Café and then back to West Chester…. The stairs arrived and need to be installed (hallelujah!!).

Sunday, November 5

I never thought I would be so happy to be in a truck stop!!! Friday after returning to the RV dealership that is repairing our coach and putting the hitches on the Isuzu, the children and I sat in the customer lounge for nearly five hours!! 

At last... when the job was done, we clambered into our home only to find that the bike rack we purchased (to replace the one that was damaged in our accident), did not fit. One more night in Pennsylvania.

The next morning, Saturday, we rose to clean house and meet with Ben to figure out how to make the bike rack work for our needs. Ben is a really interesting fellow. His son, Matthew, died of RSV when he was just 2 ˝, several years ago. He died waiting on a lung transplant. As a result Ben is very involved in organ donor programs. 

The blessing from Matthew’s death is Ben. This tireless and fearless father is working hard for parents of children waiting for donor organs, raising money and supporting individual recipients in the donor Olympics.

Ben is also extremely gifted in RV "McGiver-ism". He makes our new bike rack work and off we go, at 5:00pm. Another long day of waiting and fixing! We drive about 20 minutes and Jeff notices we have no brake lights!! 

Jeff, my patient and smart man, spends about three hours in the dark, cold evening and fixes the problems (the mechanic at the RV dealership mis-wired the tow and when we stepped on the brake, it blew the fuse). Off we go.

Finally… we are headed out of the East Coast. After sixteen days of delays, we are headed WEST!! YAHOOO!!!

Tuesday, November 7

Brrrrrr. It is really cold here in Ohio. I can’t believe that people actually choose to live in weather. I guess I am really a Californian. No weather is good weather!!!

As we have left the state of Pennsylvania, I now feel free to comment… It is a beautiful state, but has the WORST ROADS in America!! 

Holy Smokes. We were bouncing across the roads like a bucking bronco! Up, down, side, up, down…. Pennsylvania also has the NARROWEST ROADS I have ever driven on… EVER!! Wow, narrow roads, windy roads, bouncy roads…. You’d think the state had those roads for hundreds of years (duh, Christa… they have!!!). 

In any event, Jeff is now allowing me to drive again. I expect I shall never be the driver in Pennsylvania again… I don’t have a great track record there (especially when it comes to narrow bridges!!).

We are staying in the parking lot of the Wal-mart in Beavercreek, Ohio. Jeff is doing a little service work at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton. This is the nearest Wal-mart we could find, there are NO campgrounds to speak of in the Dayton area, so Wal-mart…. Here we are!! 

We have now been three days/nights on the same tank of fresh water. Our gray and black water tanks are full. We are all looking forward to finding some water and showers!! I am certainly getting good at being a "camper gal". 

We are all learning how to survive on spit baths and bottled water for hair washing. I am looking forward to finding someplace to hook-up so we have unlimited water and power… ah, the simple things in life!!

Last night I did laundry (we were really running out of undies!!), and met a woman named Glenda. She told me her story…

She is approximately 38 years old, has four children ages 16 to 21. All of them living outside her home, grown up. She is caring for her three-year old grandson, as his mommy can’t seem to keep him fed, clothed and clean. This little boy, Steve, has to move from place to place with his mama, while she leaves him for hours alone in her car during her jaunts out with friends. 

The mama forgets to feed her son often. Glenda has taken charge of this little boy. She doesn’t have legal custody, but she keeps him with her most of the time. She gets his welfare check and she gets one of her own. That is how she survives.

When asked if she works, Glenda's reply is, "there are lotsa ways to get around this world without working". Welfare. Glenda has no ambition to work, no need, no desire to support herself. She doesn’t need to, the government is doing a fine job… they have stolen her drive for self-sufficiency.

Her concern is the boy, Steve. As well it should be. However, she is loath to call the authorities on her daughter to gain permanent custody of the child. She wants the child, but she wants her freedom as well. She disapproves of her daughters lifestyle and parenting skills and assures me that her girl is not on drugs. I wonder.

My heart breaks for this little boy Steve. He is caught in a wedge between parental neglect and poverty. I wonder how many children are like this child in the "prosperous" United States? How do we save them? The adults in his life have grown up on Welfare, he will as well. 

Welfare is the natural state of affairs for these families. How to give them back their strength, their drive, their selves. I pray for Steve and for Glenda, and for his mommy. God help them, help themselves. Help them find your path and build their lives. Steve deserves better… he is only three.

Back to Wal-mart for our second night of accommodations here in the Dayton area. Ahhhh, home sweet home!

I took Kurtie my little boy for a haircut yesterday. Wow! I didn’t know there was so much man growing under that mop of hair. He is growing up really fast. He has a faint mustache over his lip… my baby is becoming a man. 

Kurt fumbles around in his growing body, not sure of his place in the world. Is he a child? Is he a young man? Is he ever going to make it through puberty? My heart lightens to see this adorable boy, the child of my heart, as he stumbles his way towards maturity. Still no hair under his arms… we are safe… for a little while longer!!

Jeff and I have been listening to a tape from Dr. John Cherry entitled The Fundamentals of Educating your Children. Cherry is brilliant. He understands Gods plan and relates it to the listener in such a personal way. It is very interesting, his comment is that parenting is laid out pretty securely in the bible. 

Gods plan for parenting is very straight ahead. We need to parent our children as God parents us. He is consistent, loving, and always available for his children. He has laid out clear cut rules and consequences. He is always the same, never changing. 

The fear of God, the fear of your parents, same type of thing. Dr. Cherry lays out the system of parenting so easy to follow, just read the scripture. Amazing.

I wish I could share these tapes with the people I love, but they would think I was proselytizing. Bummer. I guess I could risk the rejection, they’d think I was nutty, but at least I tried to share this great parenting information with them. 

John Cherry is your typical southern preacher, might be hard for them to get used to! But boy, howdy, he sure is brilliant. He is fun to listen to, with his southern accent and colloquialisms. Very engaging and very informative at the same time. He does a little shouting… but that’s the style of preaching. 

Thing is, Pastor Cherry doesn’t sound "preachy", just full of good advice and ideas. Okay Christa, you don’t have to convince yourself, just take the risk, offer the tapes to the ones you love. If they turn you down, oh well, they already think I’ve gone over the edge, this will just confirm it for them!!

We are headed home to California for the holidays. I wonder if I will feel the same about "home". I wonder if it will feel like "home". Our extended family is uncertain about our sanity at this point, watching from afar our travels and growth in Christ. 

It must be hard to see someone you love change so dramatically. Especially when they are embracing a faith that is so foreign to you, so absolute, so engrossing. I remember seeing people I knew become "born-againers". I thought they were looped… completely wacky.

My impression of those totally engrossed and submitted Christians was that they were un-educated and un-informed, that they were odd. I recall feeling sorry for Willie Ames (the actor) when I heard he had gone "Christian" and left the business. Gosh, I was sad for him that he gave up such an enlightened and wonderful career as acting. 

I remember thinking that my sister’s friend Suzanne (a very committed Christian) was really old fashioned and kind of goofy. She dressed so modestly, she was so "out of it". I was sure I would never fall for something as antiquated as Christianity. 

Certainly I was a Christian, but not THAT kind of Christian. I guess the joke is on me… I have become what I thought was too odd for words. And I like it.

Thanksgiving is going to be entertaining.

Wednesday, November 8

I am woman hear me ROAR!! 

While Jeff was at work yesterday, the kids and I decided to fill the propane tank and dump our gray/black water in preparation for our exit from Ohio… BY OURSELVES!! 

I must note: I adore my husband, I honor my husband, and I am so grateful for my husband, and Thank You Lord, that my darling husband is the one that normally does these chores.

Okay, so it appears that the maintenance chores of living in an RV are fairly simple, flip a switch here, pull a lever there, no big deal… right! 

The kids and I clean the coach and ready it for travel by pulling in the slide and yes, I even remembered to take us off the jacks!! Cool! Okay, simple thing, turn the key. RRRRR RRRRR RRRRR RRRRR. Huh? No engine. Battery is dead?

No big deal, right? Right! Kurt and I get out the big red thing to jump the battery. I open the hood (yes, I even knew where the hood latch is located), and there looming in front of me are not one, not two, but THREE batteries. Okay, which one? I go for the biggest one. Ding Ding Ding Ding!!!! I’m a winner!! The engine turns over and I am jubilant.

Little did I know that would be just the beginning of my triumphs for the day!

Off we go towards Lewis RV in Dayton, Ohio. I have my directions in hand and we forge ahead. OOPS, I apply the brakes a wee bit too fast, the coffeepot goes flying. CRASH. No more coffee pot. No problem, Kurt and Grace hurry to clean up the mess as we bounce along the road, laughing at our little mishap!

We get to Lewis and an older gentleman in coveralls fills our propane tank and water tank. He fills our tank really fast using a spray nozzle! Hmmmm. After paying for the propane, the owner of Lewis RV, Ray, gives me directions to the local waste treatment plant to dump my dirty water. Okay, this is a new experience, but I am up for it!

Arriving at the plant, we are greeted by the worst smell on the face of the earth. Grace is holding her nose and complaining…. LOUDLY! After signing in, Kurt and I proceed to empty our tanks. 

Little problem… the spot you dump in is a large hole in the ground, not one of those nifty little fitted things I have seen Jeff use in the past. No problem, I’ll just toss the sewer hose down there, no big deal. SURE.

Kurt hooks up the provided hose to our unit for tank flushing and turns on the water. WHOOOOAAAA. Okay, a little backsplash never hurt anyone. We proceed to empty the tanks. It is ugly work, stinky work, but we prevail! It is done.

Off we go, back to find Jeff and head towards Chicago. As we drive, I ask Kurt to check the tank levels. Everything looks fine. Oh no… We only have half a tank of fresh water… this will NOT do! 

I laboriously turn the coach around and head back to Lewis RV. This time, another older fellow fills my water tank using a nifty little device that removes the air from the water as it flows into the tanks.

His name is Dick. He is a weathered looking chap, with a mustache yellowed by years of cigarette. He fills our water tanks, fixes a broken latch and proceeds in a slow drawl to share a little of his life. He retired as a civil engineer from Wright Patterson AFB, got divorced and found himself needing work. He helps out at Lewis in a ragged and hole filled sweater, offering sage bits of advice about RV repair.

I thank him for all his help, and walk around the RV to the door, we are finally off and running! Huh? The door won’t shut. What? The door is COMPLETELY broken. Oh no! 

I look around for Dick. He has disappeared. Completely and in seconds. Was he an angel? After a few moments of effort, I find him and beg his help.

Dick looks at our door. Yep, we sprung the door, he informs me. WHAT? How??? He shrugs his shoulders and says if it sprung we can un-sprung it. With a crowbar and mallet he begins to pound on the door, on the hinges, on the frame. 

What am I going to tell Jeff? I let a man whack at our home with a heavy metal object? After a few tense moments Dick steps away from the coach and closes the door with a smile. "Don’t tell nobody, just git on your way", he says with a grin.

Yep, the man is an Angel.

Thus ends my day of obstacles. However, I am woman… hear me roar… I prevailed. And never again will I underestimate the value of a husband who does all the dirty work. What a wonderful man I married.

Thursday, November 9

Well, I am woman, hear me roar.... ooops.  I didn't exactly close the valve for the black water tank.  

Jeff went to empty our gray water last night after showers....

Seems something yucky got all over him.  Sorry!

Kidisms:        Kurt came racing into our bedroom, I pretended to sleep, he said, "Dad, Dad... look!  I can see my mustache... I HAVE TWO BLACK HAIRS!!!"Friday, November 10, 2000

We are in Chicago, visiting our friend Jimmy Z. Yesterday we adults just hung out, catching up on each other’s lives. Meanwhile, our little Grace sequestered herself in the RV, parked in Jim’s driveway, and spent the day learning Spanish. She is our conscientious objector to smoke. Jim is a smoker and Grace refuses to breathe in smoke. Period.

I was really impressed with Grace’s ability to find ways to learn yesterday. She spent most of the day working on the computer with programs I have for the children’s school. She worked on Logical thinking exercises, Spanish and mathematics. It really is amazing how kids will learn when given the opportunity.

In the afternoon, Jeff was a gem and drove me to a local quilter’s shop. Ahhhhhhhh. I found lots of help on the quilt I am currently attempting to finish, as well as LOTS of fabric for a few Christmas Gift quilts. I am going to be very busy the next couple of weeks.

Today we leave for Sioux Falls, SD. I hear there is a blizzard or was a blizzard from Muriel, my mother-in-law. She sounded terrible. All the kids are very anxious to see her and Grandpa Norm. Kurt in particular as he was not with us in August when we last visited the Gefke Grandparents.

I on the other hand, although wanting to go to Sioux Falls, am very excited at the prospect of seeing my parents on Thanksgiving. It’s funny, I am not sad anymore about missing them, nor am I anxious to see them because my heart aches. I just feel gladness at the prospect of being in the bosom of my family again.

However, in the back of my mind, I look forward to January when we get to go off into the great USA for another leg of our great trek across this country. I don’t know what 2001 will bring to our little family. I do know that it will bring change and fellowship.

We don’t have a specific route planned; Jeff has no work determining our course for January. I believe that the New Year will bring much introspection for Jeff and I, and a new course in our lives. We really don’t have a plan. That could be good, and that could be bad. Mostly, it is going to be interesting!

I do wonder what Jeff is going to do to support the family. I am not panicked anymore, nor am I worried or afraid. My faith is that God will see us through, as He carries us in the palm of his hand. It’s funny not to be afraid anymore. Mostly I ache for Jeff. I know that he is still looking for his answers.

Jeff has really grown in his faith and leadership of this family. I can see him daily taking on more of the mantle of Christ to our family… as it should be. He is still searching for his next career. Men find fulfillment and validation in their work. I keep a hope in my heart that Jeff finds his soon, I do so want him to be happy.

Contentment. I pray that my darling husband find contentment.

Saturday, November 11

Yesterday was a wonderful day! After waking up, the children and I proceeded to clean house and rake leaves for Jimmy. It was so much fun sneaking around the house, while Jim slept, cleaning floors, scrubbing woodwork, vacuuming. Grace offered to clean the bathrooms, while Eve washed the woodwork she could reach, and Kurtie spent the morning outside raking leaves that had fallen from the gorgeous trees in the yard.

What a wonderful feeling to do something nice for another person. The kids had a great time, as did I! Jim is a great man and it felt good to be able to do something nice in his life. Awesome! The only downer was that Jim gave the kids some cash while I wasn’t present. They didn’t know how to not accept the money. I guess that gives me something to work on with Kurt and Grace. This might be a hard one for kids to learn, doing a good deed and refusing a reward.

We drove as far as Iowa last night, heading towards Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We heard on the radio that it is snowing. We are not prepared, clothing wise, at least. But we won’t be there long, so we should be okay.

After arriving at the first Flying J Truck Stop we could find in Iowa, Jeff and the kids and I had a very cool conversation. We are headed back into "the world" to spend time with people "of the world" that we love very much. It is important that the children understand that the world outside our home is a foreign place, yet it is enticing. How to prevail against the enticing part? Jeff and I wanted them to understand their role in the world as ambassadors of Christ.

Kurt understood right away, Grace caught on after a little bit of discussion. Mainly we didn’t want them to feel badly when Aunts, Uncles or Friends would try to pressure them about the length of our sojourn across America. It was very difficult on the family when Grace returned from her trip to California and could only talk about how much she wanted this trip to last only one year, and that friends and family had actively promoted that position to her.

Jeff explained to Kurt and Grace that they are the Children. And that as children, they have no control over their world. Daddy makes the decisions in our lives. He has a plan for us that we must follow, even if it is sometimes difficult to understand. I told the kids that their job was to have faith in their Daddy, that he had their best interests at heart. Faith in Daddy. No control. Hmmmmm

It sounds a lot like our relationship with God. What wonderful training for the children, for their future as adults, teaching them reliance on God for the direction, purpose and path of their lives. If they understand at an early age that they are not in control, imagine how much easier it will be for them to understand that same lack of control in relation to God. Cool.

Imagine if you could learn at an early age how to have faith in a greater power. How much easier your adult life would become. The relationship between parent and child teaches that faith. It is a great model for their grown-up lives of trusting God.

So....   I am incredibly happy to be back in the Midwest, where east is east and north is north. No more of those crazy freeways (like Washington DC) or skinny roads (like Pennsylvania) or wacky directions (like Georgia and Florida). Ahhhhhh, my sense of direction is back. I feel so much better.

I just looked out the window… the cars parked around us have FROST on them!! FROST!! Holy smokes… we are REALLY headed into weather. Oh man!

Sunday, November 12

Yesterday was a great family day! We were driving down Interstate 80, heading west across Iowa, final destination Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when suddenly Jeff pulled off the interstate and headed north on a little road. He had seen a sign advertising something called "Historic Amana Colonies". So, off we went to explore and learn.

What an interesting little settlement. Apparently, the Amana Colonies were settled by a group of mostly Germans in about 1840. They were a religious group, living in a communal society. They ate all their meals together in communal kitchens, worked for the common good, and shared everything. They earned no wages, and the Colony met all their physical and spiritual needs.

Then in the 1930’s they abandoned the communal living and each member was gifted land and a house to operate independently. The religious aspect of the community remains and they operate and own the major portions of the nearly 26 thousand acres of original land used for the colony. Today, the church is separate from the land management, yet one can easily imagine that the philosophy of "none shall suffer" still exists in the community.

We had a wonderful day ambling around learning about the Colonies. Each community in the Colony had it’s own bakery, smokehouse, tinsmith, woolen mills and communal responsibilities. Today, the various towns in the Colonies (East Amana, Upper Amana, Amana, High Amana, etc.) have a wonderful combination of shopping (Americana and German Goods) and historical demonstrations and exhibits. We availed ourselves of the shopping and got a pretty big chunk of our Christmas shopping done!

We sampled marvelous meats from the smokehouse, admired old architecture and laughed a great deal! After a wonderful afternoon we sat down to a dinner of locally purchased items in our little home. There is where the surprise occurred.

I read the local paper, describing the communities history and customs. It is a cult. For Sure!! They worship Christ, but they also believe in direct communication with God through special individuals. Their belief system is based in mysticism and the Lutheran church. Gee….. we spent the day helping to fund a cult. Great.

Jeff and I had a good laugh as we left the Amana Colonies. This place is cloaked in respectable businesses and operations, but in reality it was begun and is managed by an odd so-called Christian Society. Good schooling today!

After dinner we drove as far as Des Moines, spent the night in a Flying J truck stop and plan to leave early this morning for Sioux Falls. I am really looking forward to seeing Norm and especially Muriel.

Everywhere we go, I still check antique shops for mustard seed jewelry. Nothing. I am determined to find a necklace with a glass bead containing a mustard seed. I just know that the elderly woman I met wearing one last year, is not the only person in the world with such a thing! But no luck thus far, why I have not even find a mustard seed pin, from a regular Christian store, to replace the one I lost at Bolling AFB.  Hmmmmm.  I shall prevail!

Jeff and I finished listening to the Fundamentals of Educating Your Children (by Pstr. John Cherry) tape, last night on the drive. The first step is educating oneself, then when God's commandments, decrees and judgments are bound to your heart, that’s when you can transfer the information to your children. 

We, the parents, have to model the behavior, children learn more from what we do… not what we say! Too true!

So, to raise our children into godly men and women, we must first become godly parents.

Now, there is a goal.

Another point Pstr. Cherry makes on the tape is that children are not corrupted by what is outside the home, but by what is inside the home.  We are not defiled by what is outside us, rather what is inside (and passes through our lips, our actions, our deeds).  

It is essential then that we, as parents, take a look at what is going on in our home, how does it corrupt the young minds of our children.  Do we watch objectionable television, movies or books?  What about our language, is it full of cursing or gossip?  Do we always do what we say we are going to do? Or do we just "modify" our actions?   

That is a whole lot to think about.  How does my behavior as an adult and parent either corrupt or make holy, my child's life?  Arrgh.  I don't want to grow up any more... this is too hard.  Why do I have to do things right?  Can't I just fake it a little bit?  No.  Not according to God.  

There is just no getting around the issue.  We have to be what we want our children to become.  

Waaaaa sometimes I just want to stamp my feet and yell, "IT's not FAIR".  How come I have to do all this?  Why aren't all the other people in my life and world doing this too?  Waaaaa.  There is this little kernel of truth in my heart.  I know that what I am learning is true.  

I have to be what I want my children to become.  I have to.

Sunday Evening

What a day!! (I wonder when we will start having "normal" days, and stop these "what a days"!!) Last night we pulled into the Flying J (Des Moines, Iowa) for an overnighter, and parked next to a white bus covered with "Repent or Perish" signs. 

Perhaps it is some kind of church group was our initial thought. As I was making breakfast for the children this morning (oatmeal, yum!), a man stepped out of the bus. I learned later that his name is Quentin Martin. I opened the window (brrrrrr) and asked him about the bus.

Well, apparently he has been traveling in this bus (or one like it!) for the last six years. His is a billboard ministry. He just travels the country, parking the bus in prominent places, baptizing and witnessing to folks who ask him about the bus. He was a remarkable fellow traveling on faith alone.

Quentin earns his gas money by sharpening scissors; his former profession was as a musician. (He claimed some responsibility for the song "The Mighty Quinn", although he talks so fast I missed what the connection is!) He has seven children (ages 12 to 21) and a wife. Yet he travels and works this billboard ministry.  He has been in jail twice, I didn't dare ask why.  (Kind of sounds like a country song!)

In any event, he was headed to a worship service/bible study and asked if we wanted to join him? Sure. So, we packed everyone into the truck and headed down the highway behind his traveling billboards to a storefront church. We were a little apprehensive upon arrival, as it was just a small space in an office complex. I think we were expecting something larger.

The service started at ten and ended at twelve noon. Funny thing, the time sped by, we were hardly aware of the passage of the hours. The children sat very attentively and were very good considering the length of the service. The congregation of twenty or so adults, sat at long tables and the pastor taught about the marriage of baptism and confession of sin.

What was kind of nifty was that projected behind him were the verses he was discussing. A woman sat in the last row (of three!) and called up the verses on a computer and it was projected onto a screen behind the pastor. I have no idea what his name was; he never introduced himself by name either during the study or after when we spoke with him.

It was a really good message and he was a fairly good teacher. Again, we heard some of the same themes that Pastor Cherry uses, reformation of the church through bible believing and bible teaching.

After our interesting little church experience, we went back to the Flying J truck stop, ate and cleaned house. We were finally ready to get back on the road towards Sioux Falls at about three o’clock in the afternoon.  

Poor Jeff had to empty our gray and black tanks at a rest stop in the snowy cold, the kids got to Play!!!!  Jeff drove the first leg as far as North Iowa City, which’s when I took over and the interesting part began.

I was only driving for about ten minutes when I noticed that it was getting darker and colder and that the snow piled on either side of the road was gently blowing across the highway on a little breeze. It was beautiful. The trees on either side of the road were stark without their leaves, yet there was a haunting beauty to them with a light covering of snow on their naked limbs. Grace and I were both moved by the beauty of creation.

Jeff came forward and warned me about something called black ice. He said that under and on top of bridges there was something called black ice that was very dangerous. If I encountered it, I was to take my foot off the gas and do not brake. Okay, I can do that! 

However, from that moment on a small panic gripped my heart as I approached each bridge. Anything slick looking or dark looking on the pavement ahead worried me as we sped down the road.

Eventually, the beautiful little drifts of snow across the road became bigger. And I mean BIGGER. The left lane was completely covered in white stuff and more of it began falling from the sky. Okay, I can handle this… just drive slowly. Not a problem. Yeah.

Well, the wind got stronger and the snow fell thicker and eventually I was driving a fifty foot long contraption through a SNOWSTORM!! This California girl, who has only seen snow a handful of times in her life, WAS DRIVING THROUGH A SNOWSTORM! 

I slowed to 45 mph, then 35 mph and eventually was going only 20 mph down the highway. Not too many cars or trucks were passing me either. The few other vehicles on the road were also going super slow.

It was dark, hard to see and a little scary. Finally we made it to the edge of Sioux Falls. Light. Everywhere!! I felt like a country bumpkin going to the big city for the first time! I could not believe how light it was at nine o’clock at night. Jeff explained that the reflection of the city lights on the snow was the cause. It was weird.

As it was too late, we decided not to look for our campground and headed for the Wal-Mart. As I drove across the parking lot, we did slip and slide a tiny bit. I was grateful that did not happen on the highway. It was a little nerve wracking. We found a nice parking spot next to a HUGE pile of snow.

I feel good here in Sioux Falls. It sort of feels like home. I called one of Jeff’s cousins to borrow a snow jacket for Grace, hopped in the truck and drove over to pick up the borrowed item. Again, driving was a bit nerve wracking, and I moved very slowly along the roads.

The kids are really excited about the snow and the prospect of seeing Jeff’s parents tomorrow! We all head to bed, a little cold, but with great anticipation.

Monday, November 13

It is really cold this morning.  Really cold.

I woke to the scraping sounds of the snowplow clearing the parking lot of last night’s storm. It is an odd, haunting sound. We didn’t put the slide out last night, as we were not sure what the snow would do to the top of the slide mechanism, so the big kids are crammed in on the floor and the couches.

Eve slept between Jeff and I, oh goody! She certainly can be a "sprawler". I am not sure how her legs get soooooo long at night. She also likes to sleep across the bed, and invariably either my or Jeff’s derričre is hanging out all night long! Ah, what we do for our children!!!

I have been thinking about the baptism aspect of scripture. I wonder if we need to be baptized again? Jeff and I (and the kids) were baptized as babies. But it seems right somehow that as believers, we should be baptized into Christ. I will do some study and prayer on this subject.

Is adult baptism an integral part of salvation? Is it scriptural?

Wednesday, November 15

We are staying at the Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls, SD. We decided not to go to the campground outside of town for two reasons. One, it is outside of town and Two, the water pipes are frozen at all the campgrounds. If we are going to live without running water, we might as well have the convenience of easy access to humanity and necessities, therefore Wal-Mart seems logical.

Grandpa Norman seemed really good on Monday. His spirits were high, he had gained some weight since our last visit, and he looked great! We spent the day catching up with Grandma and Grandpa. In the late afternoon, the children went outside to go sledding. What a great time!!

We certainly have experienced seasons, and all the accompanying chores!! In Chicago we raked leaves. Well, in Sioux Falls, we shoveled snow! Yep. The whole family spent several hours clearing off Grandma and Grandpa's driveway. Chipping the ice that had formed under the snow, was especially pleasant. Not! Kurt and Grace lasted through about half the driveway and most of the front porch and walkway.

It was pleasant work, strenuous but nice to employ all those muscles I have forgotten existed. My back and shoulders will pay. Oh well, it feels good to do something nice for Grandma. At eighty-five, with two bad knees, she should quit trying to do everything… including shoveling the driveway! She is amazing to even attempt to do this kind of work.

Monday night was REALLY COLD. Our batteries in the RV are dead, we are really low on propane and it is really cold! I will say that again… It Is Really Cold! After returning home from Grandma's house, everyone cuddled on the bed to watch the news while I ran into Wal-Mart for a pair of sweatpants for each of us. Thank goodness I did…

As the night wore on, our batteries died, as did our generator. As a result we had no heat. At about four in the morning, Jeff hooked the Isuzu up to the RV and our heat ran off the battery in the Isuzu. By sunrise, we were ready to eat, find heat and get our day going! I dropped the kids at Grandma's house, and Jeff and I spent the rest of Tuesday getting the RV repaired and refueled with propane. Thank goodness, it was even colder last night and yet we were nice and toasty in our hot little RV.

It has been fun watching the kids in the snow. They love this white stuff. Jeff calls it the White Death. He really dislikes the snow and the cold. He is being a really good son, staying here in Wintry Sioux Falls to spend time with his parents.

Yesterday I also worked on submission. You know, it is really easy to submit to my husband's headship of the home when I agree with his decisions. It is REALLY hard when I don't agree or understand. I have always wanted Jeff to be the leader in our home. Sometimes (in the past) he was and sometimes he wasn't. Now, however, he is most definitely the leader.

The nice part, is that when I feel frustrated at the kids when they do not listen, I can defer to Jeff and he pulls the kids in line. He has taken over bedtime, which is a relief to me, as they never got to bed at a reasonable hour. Mostly because, they sensed that Jeff and I were never really united about the importance of bedtime. As a result, I was always getting mad and huffing around to get them to bed. That is over now.

When it is bedtime, I toddle off to bed and get comfy. Jeff makes sure the kids are ready for bed and lights are out at a proper hour. That is really good for me, as I am awake most mornings by 5:30am, so by 8:00pm, I am a wreck and am in no condition to fuss with three children and arguments over "time for bed". When I am tired I have NO PATIENCE. Jeff on the other hand is always patient. Always. That is nice for the kids, not to have to deal with an angry parent every night

However. Jeff is thinking about removing movies from our lives. They are a waste of money and helps to support a corrupt industry. Okay, I agree with that on the surface. But what about Rugrats, the movie? Or The Grinch? Or, the new Fantasia? At first I misunderstood Jeff, I thought he meant all movies. Nope, he is just considering removing anything rated higher than PG.

Gosh, I love movies. But, the truth is that children are corrupted not by what is outside the home, but what is inside the home. Corruption comes from what you say and do, which comes from your environment. So, by removing corrupt and worldly things from the lives of our children, while we still have authority over and responsibility for their lives, we are following God's command to raise up our children properly (Duet. 6:6-9 and Proverbs 22:6) to follow His commands, laws and judgments.

Waaaaa, but I want to just tell them what to do, I don't really want to model the behavior. I want to be a little bad. Waaaaaa. This is hard. Walking this narrow path that God has set before us is HARD, HARD, HARD!

However, what is true is that "what is good for the goose is good for the gander". If we want them to grow up as godly men and women in this world, we must model the behavior for our children. No reason to teach our children to live a compromised life, like ours was in the past. But gee, it is really hard.

And so, this part "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18), is sometimes difficult. I only want to do what I want to do. Hmmm, kind of like my kids! Where do you draw the line? What parts of the scripture do you choose to obey?

Wednesday Evening ….. 11:10 pm

Things I have learned about the snow:

Don't wear mules in the snow, it really keeps your toes cold.

Snow Boots are a must-have!

When driving in the snow, a firm grip on the wheel is advisable.

Always, and I mean ALWAYS wear gloves, no matter how macho you are!

Generators do not like sub-zero weather.

Snow sparkles.

Making snow angels looks more fun than it really is!

Eggs and milk keep hours in the car, while parked outside in the snow.

Don't panic when the wheels spin in the snow at Wal-Mart, you just forgot to take the parking brake off!

Do NOT drop a car key into four inches of snow, it is very difficult to find.

Hail is bad.

Warm is good.

Today, I am down to nothing in the sock department, having no hook-ups AGAIN. So, I wore my Official Boy Scout Socks to combat the cold on my toes! Yippee!! They are ugly socks, green and red, but they sure do the job in cold weather. Hurray for the Boy Scouts.

Snow is really beautiful! We drove up the hill for some sledding this morning before another snow fell on Sioux Falls. The drive was amazing. The bare limbs of the trees were heavy laden with snow. I felt as if we were driving through an enchanted forest, full of beauty and secrets. The snow on the ground glistened and sparkled as though diamonds were sprinkled through the soft drifts. I watched the snow blow softly against the earth, moving as if dancing. The snow highlights and gives hue to the unseen hands of the breeze. It is mesmerizing.

Thursday, November 16

I wonder what the record is for boon-docking by a family of five? We have not been in an official campground with hook-ups since Florida. That was in the middle of September! Man, can we rough it or what?!!! Funny though, it doesn't seem like we are roughing it… sort of!

The day outside looks bright and beautiful!! The world is covered with a blanket of white! Amazing. I just finished reading 2Peter, using the inductive study style. Really cool! I have been feeling a little out of touch with the word of God recently and have started using the International Inductive Study Bible. This approach really gives me a chance to study the word in a different and exciting way. Nifty!!

2Peter is really good! It is a letter from Peter to the believers reminding them (us) how to live and behave in anticipation of God's judgment and the second coming of Christ. This letter also outlines what to guard against in the world of man, how to remain faithful and steadfast in God's word. This is especially good for me right now as we travel towards California to visit with family.

I guess I am a bit apprehensive about the coming visit to California. On one hand, I am really excited to see my family and friends. On the other hand, I feel as though I will be on display and under scrutiny, that does not appeal to me at all! I know that my siblings and parents are concerned that Jeff and I have gone over the edge and into the abyss of overly committed Christianity. They do not understand or like the choices we are making in our lives.

The loved ones in my life (my extended family), do not understand my attempt to patiently wait on Jeff's decisions for the future of our family. The undertones are, "Christa, you are smart, get out there and take charge of your family. Find a job, get back into the world, stop this foolishness." I don't know if that is what they truly think (and I don't really want to ask!!) but that is my impression.

I do not look forward to a month of defending my decision to become my husband's helpmate, submit to his leadership and wait on his decision as he spends this time trying to determine the direction God has planned for our lives. Some of my girlfriends think I am nutty for this lifestyle choice and submission, they do not understand how I can be content.

Funny, even through all the uncertainty and upheaval this life has presented to our family, I feel generally at peace and content with my life. My kids are happy, my husband is reaching for happiness and I am learning and loving Christ more and more each day.

I wish this same peace and love for my mother, my father, my sisters and my brothers, my girlfriends. I wish I could just give them what I have found…

… Got to go to Wal-Mart for a snow shovel, we are surrounded by five inches of snow. We will have to shovel ourselves out of here!!.

November 18 - 22

Travel Days... we spend much of our time listening to teaching tapes from Pastor Cherry, we are getting a great education in scripture. 

Something to note:  I have a large collection of Supermarket "Club" cards.  Every market we go to has a savings card, and I sign up for them all!!  Sometimes I only save a dollar or two, sometimes much more!  The cards are free, so I take advantage of the savings.  Someday I think I will make a collage of all my supermarket cards, frame it and hang it on a wall!!  HA!

November 23

Thanksgiving Day. I have so much to be thankful for in this wonderful life.

First things first. It has been so long since I have been able to write, my mind has been full of thoughts and questions. Our trip from Sioux Falls, SD to California was uneventful. It was rapid, as we left Sioux Falls on Saturday afternoon and arrived at mom’s house in California on Tuesday evening. We took the mountain route, traveling through Colorado and Utah. It was a beautiful drive.

While we were driving, my thoughts were on God’s purpose for my life. I believe, after much consideration, prayer and study that God has been and is calling me to follow Jeff. That sounds so simple. But it is so complex.

I have been educated at the finest Universities, traveled the world extensively, and raised by financially successful parents. I am woman, hear me roar!! My training in life was to be a strong, self-willed woman. To be a leader and a person of direction and decision. Never did my parents train me to be a wife, a woman, and a helpmate.

I firmly expected to spend my life working in a powerful career, have several children, and an equally directed and motivated husband. But…. God had other plans for me.

People are often referred to as God’s Sheep; Jesus is our Shepherd, etc. Why? A shepherd watches over his flock… always. The sheep know his voice and follow him… always. Sometimes though, there is a lamb with wanderlust, one that is just not willing to follow the shepherd. What does he do?

Historically, the shepherd breaks the legs of the lamb, bandages them up and carries the animal on his shoulders until the legs are healed and the lamb can walk again. At which point the lamb is gently allowed back on the ground to walk with the rest of the sheep. From that point on, the wayward lamb will never wander from the shepherd again, it follows him closely for the rest of it’s natural life.

Why does God refer to his people as sheep? Seems simple to me, we were designed to follow the shepherd. To be obedient. To stay together. To listen to His voice.  So, what does God do with a wayward sheep, one that won’t follow His plan? God lovingly breaks the legs of that little lamb.

My legs have been broken. I married a man who has no college education, whose career is odd and different. I suffered through depression and various physical ailments, children who didn’t fit into the education system, a body that won’t mind! I’ve been involved with drugs as a young person, been raped as a teenageer, and lived in a home of mental punishment as a child. Yet, I went my own way… never wondering why God wanted me in line.

Guess what. God was breaking my legs. I just didn’t get it, so he had to break mine several times!!!

When Jeff decided that this trip would be in the best interest of our family, I fought the idea for years. I wanted the material lifestyle. I wanted the things. I paid no mind to the fact that my husband toiled endlessly and without joy to support my lifestyle. I wanted. I wanted big.

After watching my darling husband suffer through every kind of humiliation and disappointment in his business, I finally answered God’s call to shut up and sit down. I listened. Selling our house and driving off to seek our mission in the wilds of the United States was hard. I have spent the greater part of the last four months crying and laughing. Changing and learning. It has been a big change, an enormous challenge.

Perhaps God has been breaking my legs again. Take notice Christa. You have but one purpose right now, to follow your husband. To be his Proverbs 31 wife.

This is the hardest and the best thing I have ever done.

God’s purpose for me… OBEY HIM. Part of that obedience is to heed his direction for my life as a wife and mother. The directions are simple. Proverbs 31 spells it out in a very understandable manner. To obey God, I must obey my husband; I must provide a comfortable home for my family. Keep them clothed and fed, be industrious and creative in our lives.

Amazing. When I figured this out, peace descended over me like a comfortable blanket.

Jeff also has had some leg breaking in his life. He has more to come, of that I am sure. However, I will be here. I will never leave his side. As Christ is to the church, so a husband is to the family and I will honor that with all my heart.

Now comes the beauty part. Now, I get to relax into the care and comfort of my husband and God’s arms. Jeff has much left to learn and decide in our lives. He is still struggling with obedience and headship of the family. But my part is decided. I imagine that I will still struggle with submission to Jeff’s leadership, but at least now I have peace about God’s direction and purpose in my life.

Women have the easy part. We get to be cared for and loved. Our husbands are to be like Christ, servant leaders. They must set the direction and tone for the family. A husband must be Christ-like in his headship. Loving, strong, caring, self-sacrificing. The job of a husband is the most difficult; he is Christ’s representative to his wife and family. My part is to follow and to love, honor and obey.

I am so glad  that I am not a man.  Thank you God.  

Friday, November 24


After three days with my parents and siblings, I am suffering from a serious case of "huh?". Everything moves so fast.  It is all so loud.  Images assault our every moment.  I can not believe all the advertising everywhere.. 

Buy this, Buy that! Credit now, fast Credit here!  

Amazing how anyone could survive here in Orange County, California without going deep into debt. Holy marketing Batman!  

Tommorrow we go to the theatre to see A Christmas Carol.  Thus Christmas begins for the Gefke Family.  We have gone to this play every year since Kurt was three-years-old.  This will be Eve's first year in the audience.  I am thrilled to be attending.  This year our seats were a gift from an amazing friend from Boy Scouts who works at the theatre.  I have much to be grateful for in this wonderful life.

I am busy, working away at my Christmas Quilts (gifts) and beading Keepers.  I think that the Christian Book Store in Mission Viejo is considering carrying my Keepers to sell.  That would be awesome.  The Keepers are a wonderful way to share my faith in Jesus.  

To bed, to bed!! It is after midnight!

Oh yes, today was a milestone day....  Mom and I went to Nordstrom's and didn't buy a thing, not one thing!!  Hallelujah!!  I have overcome?!!!!  

Saturday, November 25

Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend and fellow scouter, Jeff and I and the kids went to see A Christmas Carol, at South Coast Repertory.  

Ahhhh......  Christmas has begun!

Sunday, November 26

I keep thinking about a woman that I met on Friday while at the mall with Mom. She was reading the book "The Mark", part of the Left Behind Series. I introduced myself and asked if she was a Christian, obviously reading that kind of fiction, she affirmed that she was indeed a believer.

I briefly told her about attempts to witness to my extended family. She gave me encouragement and support. Her warm words reinforced my desire to share Jesus with my loved ones. The only way to witness to my family is to be a living example of Christ’s word and deeds. The only way they will read the bible is through Jeff the kids and me. Preaching is not right. I give thanks for this wonderful stranger who comforted me in the midst of my fears and concerns.

Monday, November 27

My mother has worn me out. I am not accustomed to this fast go go life anymore. From sunup to sundown, mom and I have been on the go. Whew! I need a vacation!!! Funny how your body and mind get comfortable in a particular lifestyle. I used to wear my mom out, now she wears me out… reversal that’s funny.

The kids can hardly wait to see their old friends this week. We haven’t been back to Mission Viejo yet, as Jeff and I felt that our family needed to first focus on grandparents, aunts and uncles. There is plenty of time for friends later.

We are moving from Mom’s driveway today to a campground in Silverado Canyon. It will be pleasant to have our own space for a little while. While we are here in Mom’s driveway, I am drawn to the house. Jeff and the kids toddle off to bed around nine or ten and I sit up with my dad until eleven or midnight. He (Dad) seems so lonely.

I adore watching Eve with Dad. She knows when kisses are the best medicine. Eve has spent the last four days bouncing from Grandma to Grandpa, Uncle to Aunt, Mom to Sister, doling out kisses and hugs. She is a one-woman provider of all the love and affection anyone could ever need. She loves to hug on my Dad.

This Eve is a special child. Her whole being is about love and she shares it freely. We all benefit from her touch. Especially Dad and Mom. They just brighten up when she nuzzles up to them with a hug or a kiss. She is very focused on snuggling with Grandma and Grandpa. I love this child immensely.

She is doing what I have never been able to do, love without condition or self-centeredness. My heart nearly bursts with love and emotion over this intensely loving child. I am so blessed.


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