Thursday, November 1

Does a spring send forth fresh water and salt water from the same opening?

James 3:11

We have been working (and staying!) at Calvary Chapel Salem. Our rig is parked in the alley behind the church with an electrical cable snaked across the blacktop to the RV. They are replacing the sound system with equipment that Jeff has recommended to them, a whole new sound system!!

At sound check, just prior to service, they were having some problems with the sound (still using the old equipment until the new arrives). I found myself worrying that Jeff was having a hard time, he wasn’t worried or concerned, that was just me… all me.

I was worried that they didn’t like his mixing, that one of the volunteer sound guys was making it difficult for Jeff, that they would think poorly of Jeff’s abilities. Jeff wasn’t worried, he was fine… I was worrying all on my own.

So, I began to tell one of the women, that “that guy” (the volunteer), was unhappy, who was he anyway? I began to use my tongue in a bitter way, concerned that I had to protect my Jeff.

Oh really Christa.

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

James 3:2

James tells us in chapter 3, that our tongues are like a spark to a forest fire. That if we can control our tongues, we control our entire bodies - not unlike a bridle to a horse. What was I thinking last night? Did I think that God would be unable to handle the situation, one of my own making…

What the heck was I thinking?

That spring James was talking about (James 3:11), is my heart, my soul, my spirit. So truly my heart was (and is) not right, because if it were, good and bad could not come from the same source.

So what to do???

Change my course… change my mind.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:5

The teaching last night, by Pastor Steve Hopkins, was on James 3. I was rather convicted, to say the least!! It kills me that I don’t have faith enough to leave things in God’s hands, that I forget to be quiet and let God take care of things. He is much bigger than that, and sometimes I just put Him in a box to take out and look at once in awhile.

Arrrgh.

What is funny is that during the worship last night (prior to the teaching), I was praying for God to break me, to continue to die to myself so that there would be more room for Him in me. Guess He heard me, cuz I was sure broken last night.

This dieing to self… it’s hard, but it is so good. It feels so right to make more space in me for Him.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace

Romans 8:6

And then…

Yesterday was Halloween. Not wanting to “celebrate” a holiday steeped in the occult and paganism, we tried to downplay the whole thing. Eve really wanted to get dressed up and get CANDY. So, she put on her cowgirl outfit (from last Halloween), and we went to the local supermarket.

They were giving out handfuls of candy and Eve thought she hit the jackpot!! It was hilarious!!! She got a handful of candy from the market, I had a candy bar for her and my mom had sent her some See’s Candies… Eve was in hog-heaven!!

After her little foray into the market for candy, we took off the costume and went to church. I put her in the kindergarten pioneer club (she thought the four year-old group was full of babies), and she had a blast playing bingo and watching Veggie Tales.

Grace went to the youth group for the first time last night. As my darling girl is in 6th grade, she is eligible… (even though she is only ten). They played bunko and had a candy fight… she loved it!!! Kurt of course disappeared into the youth room early in the afternoon to help set-up and … eat candy.

Today we are leaving Salem for Monmouth (twenty minutes distant). We will come back to this place next week, once the new equipment arrives. So, it is off to Monmouth to help the fellowship there.

Oh… one more thing.

Last night we met the Pastor from the Calvary Chapel in St. Louis, MO (he is here on vacation). He offered to host a seminar that Jeff and I are thinking (and praying) about, for volunteer sound operators. Wasn’t that an interesting “coincidence”.

Friday, November 2

I just finished reading the latest Left Behind Book (by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye). My favorite part was this:

“You were born in sin and separated from God, but the Bible says God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. The Bible also tells us that nothing we can do will earn our salvation but that it is the gift of God… not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The only payment for our sins was Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Because beside being fully man, he is fully God, and his one death had the power to cleanse all of us of our sin.

The Bible also says that to as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God by believing on his name.

How do you receive Christ?

Merely tell God that you know you are a sinner and that you need him. Accept the gift of salvation, believe that Christ is risen, and say so.

I beg of you to receive Christ right now.”

These things are in the Bible… Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 1:12. Please.

Did you know that Jesus Christ fulfills over 109 prophesies of the Messiah in the Bible?

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

A Jew wrote that.

Saturday, November 3

We are in Monmouth, Oregon. Staying at the home of Pastor Rick Hopkins and his wife Sharon. What amazing and wonderful people! This journey that we are on has taken us from to the most wonderful and generous hearted people. From home to home, hearth to hearth, friend to friend.

Thank you Lord.

We arrived in Monmouth Thursday afternoon. Rick and Sharon took us to dinner at a wonderful local Chinese place, it was yummy. Then yesterday Jeff went to the church to work on their sound system.

Meanwhile the kids and I spent the day doing school and taking SHOWERS!!! Sharon invited us to spend the day in their house while she and Rick were working. I did laundry and each one of us took a nice long HOT shower. It was marvelous.

For dinner I made a crockpot meal and Sharon made a salad and dessert. It was a great day!!

This morning Jeff left at six to go to the Men’s Bible Study. When he returns we are taking the day off!!! WOW!! We haven’t had a day off together for many weeks. I looked at our calendar and noticed that we visited five different churches during the month of October. And Jeff has helped out at these fellowships every single day this month.

FIVE Churches.

It will be GREAT to just spend a day looking around the town, having fun together as a family. And what a blessing to be able to do it here, in the care of the Hopkins.

Oh, one more thing… it turns out that a young couple from this fellowship recently moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be a part of our covering fellowship. I must remember to send Pastor Skip an email … what a neat “coincidence”.

I recently started putting on our letters to the churches we serve a little line, right under our name - like this:

Mustard Seed Ministry

An Outreach Ministry of Calvary Chapel Sioux Falls

Kinda neat to be a part of something.

Later

Yesterday the kids and I spent the day doing school, catching up on laundry, showers and general home maintenance. Most of the day was spent inside the Hopkins's home. What a blessing, and what comfort I found in doing the mundane.

I remember living in our big house in Mission Viejo. Having all the expensive do-dads and conveniences. I never felt any peace about being home with my children, taking care of them and our home. Yesterday I was hit in the face with how much I enjoyed doing just that…

Being a wife and mother.

Oh, my gosh… what is happening to me!! <grin>

Tuesday, November 6

Yesterday was a WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC, STUPENDOUS day!!! After the kids finished their schoolwork for the day, we decided to go on a field trip. So, off to the farms we went!!!

The first farm we came to was a blueberry farm. I drove up to the barn, but no one was home, so we left. As we were driving down the road, we spied a fellow working in the fields, so we stopped and accosted him!

It turns out that the fellow was the farmer!! He and his family own and operate this blueberry farm - which is the second largest blueberry producer in the state. He and his two brothers, sister and parents all work the farm. His dad and Granddad started the farm nearly fifty years ago with a few fields of hops and some steer.

Now they are this big blueberry farm, it was a fascinating story. We learned all about the care and pruning of the plants. The kids were great, they asked intelligent questions and we had a wonderful experience.

After standing out in the cold, cold field we hurried to get back into the car, and off we went again… looking for another farm.

Well… we found a DAIRY FARM (remember the bull story in August 2000??). Only this time it really was a dairy!!! The dairy is owned by the Platt family and Mrs. Platt was kind enough to give us the grand tour. They milk 1,500 cows, three times a day! It is a twenty-four hour a day operation. AMAZING!!

We had a wonderful time learning about a real dairy farm, seeing the cows, learning about commodities, manure recycling and milk production. After seeing the pregnant cows, I now understand the phrase “as big as a cow”. Pregnant cows are really, really large… and I mean large!!!

We learned that milking a cow and all that happens prior to milking is just like a human woman. It was fascinating!! And…

Mrs. Platt is a Christian!

We had a fantastic two hour visit. I shared our story with her and she shared hers with us. It was a time of excellent fellowship! Then, God taught me another little life lesson.

As we were leaving, Mrs. Platt loaded my arms with several dozen eggs and more beef and pork than I have ever seen! Tons of bacon and roasts, ground beef and a huge ham. It was amazing.

You see, just that morning I was worrying about our finances. Sunday afternoon I had shared our story with Sharon (Pastor Rick’s wife - our hosts) and then Monday morning Rick handed me an envelope with a check inside. I was so embarrassed. I was just mortified.

Most times, when a church gives us something towards our support, they give it to Jeff. I rarely have to deal with my pride. But not this time!! So, I was sure that Sharon had spoken with her husband. WRONG!!

In any event, I was just so worried yesterday about our medical bills and health insurance payments. So, when I got home after our day of “farming” and we shared our amazing story of the meat with Jeff, we prayed thanksgivings over the meat and thanksgivings for God’s provision in our lives.

The amazing thing is that the meat fits into our freezer exactly as if it were planned! Seriously! It fits and there is no extra. It all fits. And this was a huge grocery sack of frozen meat. It is almost as if someone had designed the perfect amount of meat to fill the freezer!!

If we depend upon the Lord, HE will provide. That was my lesson today. Jeff works hard at the churches we visit, the gifts that the churches give us… well, that is how God provides for us sometimes. It’s all God’s providence.

Sharon had not said anything to her husband, Mrs. Platt hadn’t talked to anyone about our situation. GOD spoke to them. GOD provided the means for our provisions. GOD is totally in charge.

All we have to do is RELY on HIM!! He will take care of our needs - entirely.

I can rest in that!

"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ ... For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things....

Matthew 6:31-34

Wednesday, November 7

Guess I am PMS'ing.... had a pity party last night, kinda hard to do privately in a motor home!!  Thank God my family doesn't stone me for not being a Proverbs 31 woman!!!

Thursday, November 8

So, the pity party is over (whew!) and I’m okay again. This being a woman thing has it’s ups and downs (literally, eh!!).

Yesterday Jeff and Eve and I drove back to Salem to check out the progress there on the remodeling (they have some construction to do prior to the new sound system installation). Nothing happening yet.

We figure that we will leave the Hopkins place here in Independence/Monmouth and head back to Salem on Saturday. The new system has to be in place and operational for a Roby Duke (a Worship Leader and Recording Artist) on November 18th. That way if we leave on Saturday we have plenty of time - one week - to get the system installed and I get three more days of showers!!

Showering every day is just delicious.

On Tuesday (that would be my pity party day) we drove to the Oregon Coast and visited Tillamook and Bay City. Of course in Tillamook we went to the cheese factory, which was a nice curriculum item as it finished off our lessons on Dairy Farming.

Then in Bay City we visited an Oyster Farm. Very interesting watching the “shuckers” and the canning process. We learned all about the planting and harvesting of Oysters. The kids were very interested and learned lots!! Visiting Farms is great fun!!! Especially when you taste the product, which Kurt and Jeff did at the Oyster farm… YUCK!!!

Today (Thursday) we are going to pack up the computer and send it in to Hewlett Packard, as there are some problems with the hard drive. Waaaaa, I am going to be unable to get email or access the internet until next week. Waaaaa.

We still have our big clunky computer under the bed, I will set it up (it takes SO MUCH SPACE) for the kids school and for me to write on. It sure takes up a lot of room and is messy looking. I hate messes.

Last night at church the teaching was on Nehemiah. It was interesting, so this morning I started reading Ezra and hope to make it through Ezra and Nehemiah this weekend. Apparently they were combined as one book in the original Hebrew manuscripts.

My sister sent me a pair of her shoes that she doesn’t need anymore… waaaaa, they didn’t fit. But, they were fine for Grace. They are awesome Timberlands, great for this Northwest weather and terrain. My toes are so cold. I have got to figure something out. Right now I am wearing my snow boots to combat the cold, but I look like a dork.

Oh well!!! <grin>

It is nearly nine, I have enjoyed these moments of quiet… guess I better wake up the family and get them started on school!!! I am being selfish letting them sleep so long, but the quiet is marvelous!!

LATER

We had another farm day today!!  After schoolwork was finished the kids and I went for a ride.  First we drove down to the "fishing hole" and skipped rocks... it was a hoot.  Of course this was after Kurt had gotten in trouble with his dad for accidentally hitting Eve with a rock... then I take  him out to throw rocks - good move mom!!

Afterward throwing rocks, we stopped at a farm when we spied the farmer feeding his chickens.  He and his wife filled us in on the truth about pumpkins.  Did you know that the canned pumpkin you purchase in the supermarket is really SQUASH???  Yep.  The farmer gave us a couple of real eatin' pumpkins.  We baked them this evening and I'm a gonna make me a pie, for sure.

This is fun.

Saturday, November 10

Today we left Monmouth/Independence and the warm embrace of the Hopkins family. We have enjoyed our time in this place, it has been a respite of peace and family. I will miss these people and will always carry them in my heart.

Sunday, November 11

Well, we are back in Salem, Oregon at the Calvary Chapel. Jeff will begin installing the new sound system here on Monday. This morning the lesson Pastor Steve taught was from James, chapter 4, verses 11 and 12.

Brothers, do not speak down to one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. ... who are you to judge your neighbor?

Or your friend, or your spouse, or your sister...

Why do we criticize each other? What is the root of this behavior?? If you go to scripture and look for answers it seems clear. Slander, criticism, condemnation, judging... all are a result of rejection. (See Genesis 39, 2 Samuel 17, Genesis 27 for examples.)

Our parents reject us, or a spouse, or a sibling, neighbor, friend.... whatever the source, over and over again, rejection seems to be a root of this behavior. But why does rejection strike so hard, so painfully? Is it that we seek affirmation from the wrong source?

Affirmation... something all human beings so desperately seek. We seek it from our parents, from our husbands, our wives, our friends, our siblings... we seek it diligently.

And when that affirmation is denied or conditional, rejection is felt. Rejected often enough and we sooner or later turn to judge, to slander, to criticize others.

So, what is it we should do??

Turn to scripture.

Jesus suffered rejection from everywhere. He was rejected by his dear disciple Peter (Luke 22:57), John the Baptist (Matthew 11:3), the people of the temple (Luke 4:29) and so many times more. But what did Jesus do with his rejection ? Did He speak unkind words or was He ever hurtful?

Nope.

Why? Because Jesus sought His acceptance not from the world, but from the Father. Because He sought His affirmation from the one source of pure true unconditional love, he never felt the sting of rejection.

What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of our hearts. When we, when I criticize or "speak down" about another, even if it is only in my heart, in my thoughts – privately, I reflect what is in my heart.

What do I want to reflect?

The true and unconditional love of my Father in heaven, who will always love me... always and without regard to my kinks and my flaws.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.

Ephesians 1:11

He knew me and loved me before the creation of the world... He knows me and loves me today. Despite my warts.

Funny, today I received an email that made me feel so badly. I was so sad. It isn’t that she said anything pointedly terrible in this email, just that the tone and the intent were harsh. I was so low after reading it. I nearly crawled away from the computer.

So, I began to write, here in this journal. And I was reminded that my source of affirmation is not of this world, that "I do not accept praise from men," (John 5:41), that I must look to the one that loves me for my source of affirmation and love.

That source is not a sibling, a husband, a friend, a child. It is the one true and amazing Lord of my Life.

Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 12

I have been asked many times why I have not written about September 11. Because one more voice postulating on the horror of that day is just plain unnecessary. That’s all. My feelings about the day are abject sorrow, just like the rest of America.

Wednesday, November 14

We are still in Salem, Oregon. Jeff has begun the installation of the sound system here and we are living in the parking lot behind the church. To conserve water we are using the bathroom in the church as much as possible. I was even able to give Eve a little sponge bath in a really big sink in one of the bathrooms! She thought it was a real adventure!!!

We spend our days mostly doing school and helping Jeff with the installation. It is raining all the time, so we really can’t go outside and play, and field trips are not a whole lot of fun in the rain. I am starting to get cabin fever!!!

I have been mulling over in my mind some of the conversations I have had with my family, via email and on the phone. I am so tired of hearing their disapproving tones regarding our lifestyle choice. I am walk on eggshells in our conversations, dodging both verbal and unspoken bullets. I get tired of the complaints – you wrote this, or that, the kids should be in "real" school, or you should make more money – I am so tired of these hearing these things.

Why look for the bad in another’s life? Why keep harping on it?

The truth is, nothing in my life is going to change until God wills it so. I am seeking only His approval, not that of my siblings or parents. I do love them all, and would like to just rest in that... treat each other with love and respect.

It’s funny, but I realize that my choice to pursue a holy life is difficult for a non-believer to grasp. I know that. By the same token, I find it nutty to spend a life in pursuit of wealth or possessions. Been there, done that... it isn’t a valuable way to live... for me.

What is that song? "Why can’t we all just love each other..." Or something like that. Why this constant judging attitude? Why not just love and support one another and leave it at that. If you are going to read the journal, don’t just look for the things you dislike, find some good or some value as well. Maybe they do, they just don’t tell me that part – I only hear what they don’t like.

I realize that I leave myself open to criticism by publishing on the internet. Funny though, my harshest criticism comes from those that love me and know me best. Odd.

Arrgh.

Okay... I know....

...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Okay, so this is not a huge trial...

Again, Christa... about face and look to who is your comfort, and your assurance, your greatest love and source of eternal affirmation...

Jesus.

Thursday, November 15

Well, today is going to be laundry day – for sure!!! I am learning more and more about living in a motor home full-time. Here are some of my do’s and don'ts:

Do put your levelers down – husbands snore when they are sleeping down-slope headfirst
Four year-olds can bathe anywhere – even in a church sink!
Do bathe at every opportunity (you never know when your next shower will come)!
Do not travel with a chicken... they stink sometimes.
Do pray with your children.

I am starting to think about my thanksgiving dinner. I have never cooked a turkey before, so this is going to be quite an experience. One of the women here at the fellowship instructed me in the finer points of turkey cooking, so I feel prepared (not!).

I am not quite sure how I am going to cook a turkey and all the necessary side dishes in one little microwave/convection oven. This may be a humorous event. But I am up for it!!!

I will make my pies the day before, and they just pray that the rest turns out!!!

All things work for the good...

Romans 8:28

Boy howdy, I am going to hold on to that one next week for Thanksgiving!!!

I just found a wonderful book called; the Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace. I am enjoying it tremendously. Martha started like me... no way, no how and I going to be obedient to "that man". Pretty funny!

I was also thinking about something I read in her book. It was a reference to Genesis 2:18. It is God’s first instructions for wives...

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

So, the wife’s first duty is to minister to her husband. That was the whole reason we were created. Whoa. Puts a new slant on the whole obedience thing. If the reason we were created was to be a suitable helper – or to minister to our husbands, kinda makes you think about what your purpose in life is, in a whole different light.

God created us to minister to our husbands.

Whoa.

We aren’t here as a result of some whim of God. We are here to minister, to help our husbands. How many years do we (me, you... ) search for the purpose of our lives. We go to school, start careers, volunteer... looking for that purpose for our lives.

God already gave us a purpose, it was the whole reason we were created. To MINISTER TO OUR HUSBANDS.

No way...

That could kinda take the wind out of a gal’s sails. You mean, someone already set-up my purpose in life? I don’t have to be out on the sea, blowing about by the wind? I can be safe at home, in the harbor??? Holy Cow...

I like this. I like the fact that God set-up my purpose at the beginning of eternity. That I didn’t have to spend forty some odd years searching for a purpose in life... it was already there sitting in an old armchair right in front of me... my husband. He is my first purpose, my reason, my life, my focus.

I am to minister to my husband. God said so!

(You know, God sure does make things easy for us... if we would just read His word and listen. He is more than happy to answer all our questions and solve our issues in life. It’s all there in His Word.... Pretty cool!)

Friday, November 16

Last night we had dinner with a very nice young couple and their two year-old daughter... it was yummy. We had Elk steaks. A little taste of Oregon!!

I also did our laundry at their home... yippee. It was a real gift - I go crazy in Laundromats!! It is expensive and the machines are DIRTY!!! So I had a wonderful time yesterday!!! However, I forgot to wash my jeans... I was wearing them!

So, just now I washed my jeans in our kitchen sink with dish soap. I am drying them in our dryer (couldn’t wash in our little washing machine - don't’ have hookups). So... it’s going to be interesting to see how they turn out, having washed them in Palmolive!

Ain’t life grand!!!

Saturday, November 17

I spent the afternoon with a couple of gals I met here in Oregon. We drove to Portland and went window shopping. It was a nice get-away for me. Sometimes I need the break.

This is especially true when Jeff is working so hard on a project, like this one at Salem Calvary. He is working very, very hard and very, very late each evening. The fellowship is having a famous recording artist do the services on Sunday, so everything in the sound system needs to be working and sounding really good!!!

One of the women I spent the day with today really taxed my heart. She was so focused on worldly issues and concerns. Everything she spoke about was regarding her home - it’s things, her children - their accomplishments, her life - her stuff. It was a hard day. I kept trying to draw her back, into the Lord, into His concerns.

In the beginning there was no mention of the Lord. By the end of the afternoon we were starting to focus again on God’s desires for our lives, our families. But it was a really long day for me. I wanted to just rest and not talk. But I kept feeling the Holy Spirit tug on my heart - Christa... remind her of me. Christa ... remind her I am here.

One thing that was humorous was our final discussion on children. This woman’s children are in their early twenties. She was trying so hard to give me advice about child rearing. You know, warning me that children would rebel and that they would need to express their individual wills.

I asked, what did God say about our individual wills? Less of us, more of Him. If I raise my children in His Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict them - resisting the temptation to exert my will over them, what does their will have anything to do with it?? It is between them and God. I am out of the picture.

It was funny because I was obviously the younger woman and her frustration with my attitudes on child rearing were evident... just as I get frustrated with younger women when they seem to “know it all” about child rearing. It was funny... the tables were reversed and I was the younger - less experienced parent.

So many times I counsel younger women on child-rearing and here I was, getting counsel and not taking it.. no way, no how. It was funny to me.

I guess we all have to go with our own convictions. I won’t feel badly the next time a younger woman won’t take my advice on her parenting... <chuckle>

Sunday, November 18

Every place we stay is different. I learn something new in each place. Sometimes the learning is about me, sometimes it’s about my kids, or Jeff, or others. Sometimes, and thus it is so in this place - Salem - the learning is spiritual. Salem has been rich in spiritual learning. Thanks in a great part to Pastor Steve Hopkins.

Steve is a good teacher, but then... many Calvary Pastors are great teachers. Steve has a gift of touching the spiritual core of a person. A gift of guiding you to focus on the deeper spiritual aspect of your life. Jeff and I have both gotten so much from Steve... he has been a blessing to our hearts.

Monday, November 19

Yesterday Roby Duke played at all three church services. What an amazing and gifted person he is! His music brings you closer to God, his stories touch a part of the soul that reeks of the Holy Spirit. He reminded me how much God loves me.

What is it that separates us from the love of God? Steve asked that question after Roby played each service. What is that separates the Christian from experiencing the fullness of God’s love in our lives? Is it sin? Fear? Relationships? Work? What is that thing that keeps you distant from the amazing and powerfully unconditional love of God?

Roby said that God’s love is relentless. How true. We can run, but we just can’t hide... His love finds us and draws us into a place of choice. Do I accept His love or do I reject it.

Do I accept His free gift of Grace and Love? What is my choice going to be?

What keeps me from fully experiencing His love?

Pride.

That is my sin d’jour.

Why don’t I share my faith, I mean really share it with others? What stops me from getting down on my knees and calling out to God with a cry from the depths of my soul?

Pride.

It is so deep and so thick, sometimes I can barely see through the pride. I confess, pride is the sin that separates me from experiencing the fullness of my heavenly father’s love.

Pride.... what an enormous waste of time. Lord, wash me clean of this thing called pride, remove it from me and touch me with your healing grace. Amen.

Yesterday after services I prayed with one of the elders about this issue. Then later I had to ask the same man for a reimbursement of a paltry $42 that I had spent on behalf of the church. All I could focus on, when asking for the reimbursement, was how embarrassed I was to have to ask for the cash.

We are down to ninety cents in our check book, so I really needed the reimbursement. All I could think about was that this money will provide the thanksgiving feast my kids so dearly anticipate. I was so embarrassed.

It was pride.

Even after confessing and praying about this sin, I could not just let it go. How frustrating.

I talked to Jeff about my fears (here I am again... worrying about money), and once again Jeff reminded me that God has yet to let us go without. His provision for our lives has been complete. As we travel together, serving the Lord, He has not let us suffer nor has He allowed us to go hungry or be needy.

Christmas is coming. Grace’s birthday is coming. Again, Jeff reminded me that God has never turned His back on us. He has provided for both Kurt and Eve’s birthday’s and He will provide for Graces as well.

Why do I continue to doubt? Why does this fear keep rearing it’s ugly head? Why can’t I just rest in the mustard seed of faith that resides in my heart - the faith in the love and providence of the Father?

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

Matthew 7:9-11

Last night when we went to bed, I asked Jeff how could it be... we live this life of faith, and yet we still find it hard to spend time daily in His Word. What keeps us from loving our heavenly Father enough to be in His Word every chance we get during the day?

Is it pride? Laziness? Worldly concerns... sending their tendrils of busyness into our hearts?

I do so love the Lord. Now, if I can set aside my pride, my willful human nature, just to rest in Him, in His love for me. If I truly love the Lord, my God... I will be drawn further into His word and His will.

And... I will trust in His provision for my life, my family and our future.

Monday, November 19

And God does provide.

Today we received a gift from the fellowship that will clearly provide for our physical needs. More than enough for a wonderful thanksgiving feast, we will be able to retire a few more of those pesky medical bills (from the auto accident last October in Washington DC) and even some to purchase Eve a Barbie for Christmas.

God allows us to reach the end of our rope, once there ... when we have nothing left to hold on to we finally reach for Him. And when we truly reach for Him... He is there.

Tuesday, November 20

Grace.

I was speaking with an amazing young man today about Grace. This young man, named Noel, is destined to be an incredible Pastor someday. We were talking about the difficulties of living as a “PK” (Pastor’s Kid). Although Jeff is not a Pastor, our kids live under similar scrutiny.

We travel from church to church, always on display. Children are a representative of their parents. Their reflection of the love and leadership that they receive in the home (or in the RV as the case may be!!), tells the people around them so much about Mom and Dad.

Kurt and Grace are so aware of their role as we visit each fellowship. Fortunately they are good kids and love Jeff so much. Both are fastidious in their desire to be a positive reflection of their Dad.

But it is a hard place to be... always on display.

We are as often blessed at each new place by invitations into people’s homes for meals and fellowship. It is an enormous blessing to our lives. Gracie is always asking if we could please invite someone over for dinner. You see, the strain of always being a guest sometimes is telling on her.

In any event, I was talking to Noel about the life outcome for these types of kids. Children who are part of a ministry, who have parents that spend most of their time in service to the Lord. Noel share that what he found to be common among the kids that continued to walk strong with the Lord, was that their Father didn’t just preach on Sundays about grace, he also lived out that grace.

Grace.

Well, it is a good thing for our kids that Jeff is their dad. He is a man of grace. His heart is full of forgiveness and love. If I were the dad, whew... well, the grace thing just wouldn’t be so happening!!

Grace.

I need to practice some of this. I am so hard on the kids, on myself, on Jeff. I think that one of the items God is teaching me about here in Salem is just this... grace. I have learned so much about His enormous and eternal love for me from the Pastor here, Steve. And now, here is this young man reminding me about the Lord’s grace.

What is grace?

What is grace?

When King David stole another man’s wife (Bathsheba), Nathan the prophet came to him and outlined David’s sins, proclaiming the consequences for David’s reprehensible actions. Then in 2 Samuel 12:13 David admits his sin against God and Nathan replied,

“The Lord has taken away your sin.”

Redemption.

Free.

This is the gift of grace. Free from God. No cost to you the sinner. No cost to me. Free from God Almighty.

Why?

Unconditional, pure love.

As a parent how do I share God’s love and His grace with my children? Free, unconditional love. Redemption in their transgressions. Notice forgiveness is free, as in David’s story - once he confessed his sin. This grace does not blot out the natural consequences of the sin. Grace then gives us freedom from the death that sin brings into our lives.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Grace.

Monday, November 26

Well this last week has been a good one. I can’t believe I haven’t written a thing the entire week! Suffice it to say, I was busy, busy, busy!!!  I finally finished Mom’s quilt (for Christmas) and got a few other little projects done around the house. But the big news was Thanksgiving!!

We had a MARVELOUS time!! We had our feast in the alley (of course in our RV, in the alley just sounds more romantic!!) of the Salem Calvary Fellowship. I started cooking on Tuesday. Here was the menu and schedule:

The schedule:

Monday - Shopped for the ingredients (thanks to the fellowship in Salem)
Tuesday - Baked two pies (Pumpkin and Chocolate Cream)
Wednesday - Made the side dishes (pre-cooked them) and chopped all the stuffing veggie for the bird.
Thursday - Put the Turkey in at 11:00 and we ate at 5:30!!!

The menu:

Turkey (of course!!) - I can hardly believe a 17 pound bird fit in our little oven!
Ortega Chile Rice and Cheese
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans with Bacon
Darlene’s Incredible Jell-O Salad
Rolls
Pumpkin Pie - made from REAL pumpkins that we picked ourselves
Chocolate Cream Pie
Fresh Whipped Cream - thanks to Kurt’s whipping muscles!!

It was a feast! We had such a great time. I took lots of pictures that I will post on our Oregon page on the Website. We have been eating turkey ever since… truly!!!

We had three days of left-overs, a whole turkey breast I froze and I made a delicious turkey soup last night with the leg (that we will probably eat for another three days - there is soooo much!!).

The kids had a wonderful time and so did Jeff and I!!!

Then on Friday we drove to Portland, to check out a fabric shop there. The church needs fifteen yards of a particular fabric and we are on a quest to find the right stuff! Of course while in the fabric shop (an amazing place called Fabric Depot!), I found the backing for two more quilts and the fabric for Grace’s Christmas quilt.

Grace wants an animal print quilt! Arrgh… it is soooo ugly, but she is so excited! We are getting her two cd’s and the quilt for Christmas. Kurt gets a dvd and two cd’s and little Eve will be receiving a Barbie and some dress-up clothing (that I have yet to sew)!!

It is funny. When we lived in Mission Viejo in our big house, I would shop for weeks for their Christmas presents. Then on Christmas Eve, I would spread all the gifts out on the family room floor and make sure that everyone had equal coverage!! Then I would spend all night wrapping. By the morning I was a wreck!

This Christmas will be different to be sure!

The kids understand that our financial situation is drastically different and that the focus of Christmas is Christ - not gifts. Their lists are so small and simple! The things they used to ask for were in the $50 - $100 range. Not anymore. Their wants are so simple and easy to fulfill - God has done an amazing work in them!

We will also be looking for someplace to serve on Christmas - someplace to do something that Jesus would do - help the lost, serve the needy - something will present itself. I guess it will depend on where we will be at that point in our travels.

Grace is also having a birthday in December - I have been quietly collecting things for her birthday the last month or so. We decided last year, that we would celebrate Christmas quietly (in terms of gifts) and make a big splash on the kids birthday’s… Really celebrate the birth of each child!!

Unfortunately Grace’s birthday is very near Christmas, so her big event normally gets lost in the holiday rush, but not this year!!!

It’s interesting, being on a reduced budget. The kids expectations change and my planning and purchasing changes. Things I used to do at the last minute I must plan for in advance to ensure that we are financially able. It is a whole new way of doing things - I kind of like it… Takes a whole lot of stress out of the whole thing!!

So… our weekend.

After our trip to Portland, we spent Saturday lolling around (I finished another quilt) and Jeff worked in the church for a couple of hours. I also was able to wash all the fabric for Grace’s quilt and do a few other little home projects.

Sunday we had a great time at church - Steve Hopkins is a wonderful teacher. Today he taught on James 5:19-20 - having a heart of reconciliation to those who have wandered from the truth. Steve is such a spirit-filled teacher. I have yet to listen to him teach and not be moved by the Holy Spirit.

This place (Salem) and this pastor (Steve) have added much to my life in Christ. I am grateful for our stop here.

I feel as though I have been softened somehow. Like the corners have been ground off and I am not such a square peg trying to shove myself into a round hole. The fit isn’t quite so tight anymore.

At least for now!

Wednesday, November 28

We plan on leaving here this coming Monday. Jeff should be finished with the installation (and ancillary projects) by then! We are all feeling the urge to move on, all except Kurt. He is fine anywhere there is a big screen TV and Nintendo, such as there is in the youth room here in Salem!!

The kids are doing great in school, I am really pleased with their progress and commitment to finishing each module according to our schedule! I have met a number of home schoolers, and we seem to be an anomaly amongst them. As much as I love home schooling and what the whole home school movement is doing for education, there needs to be some kind of standardized testing or monitoring.

I know that there are many home schoolers that would shout “foul” at this, but so many of the home schoolers we have met are criminally negligent in how they are teaching their children. I met one woman yesterday who tells me she doesn’t use any curriculum - they just wing it. Her third grade child doesn’t read yet.

Home schoolers are an independent lot, but my goodness, what is going to happen to these children? Their education is so eclectic that they seem to be missing some of the basics. On the other hand, what’s to say that they would do any better in public school?

As a result, I guess I am overcompensating in our education style. Jeff and I are rather focused on the kids completing the body of work assigned for the school year. We really want them to learn “how to learn” and to have the options of going to college when we are finished home schooling.

I guess this too is in the Lord’s hands. The key is teaching the kids that the focus of their lives should be to serve the Lord, nothing else is of greater importance.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found.”

Isaiah 55:6f

Jeff received a letter from his mother yesterday asking that we do not come to visit until the spring or the summer. Okay. Don’t have too much of a problem with that kind of timing… considering the level of snow in South Dakota in December.

Jeff is doing amazing things as a Father.

Kurt had asked a family member, on Jeff’s side of the clan, for the option to purchase some collectable items from them, the items were sold without offering them to anyone else in the family. Jeff explained it to Kurt in such a loving manner, he assured Kurt that it wasn’t something personal against Kurt, just a different style of doing things.

Then Jeff proceeded to reassure Kurt that he would always have a place in our home, no matter what happened in life. We are his family and will always love him and be a refuge to Kurt.  It was so awesome. Kurt listened and really took the whole thing in and seemed to process the absolute fact that we are his forever. It was wonderful to see and hear Jeff talk so lovingly to Kurt.

Then later in the day we had a little issue with Kurt and school. He looses his sense of direction, his attention span is so variable. I am not sure if this is a “boy” thing or an “A.D.D” thing. In any event, he is going to need to learn to adapt.

Jeff interrupted his work to guide Kurt through the problem. He was really hands on with Kurt… a great example of a leader. It was so cool!!! Kurt had the benefit of a Dad who was really interested and took the time to redirect what could have been a stumbling block for Kurt, into a great learning experience.

I know that this type of leadership is difficult for Jeff, it isn’t how his dad operated in the family. So, Jeff has really worked hard to learn a leadership role that is something completely divergent from his own experience. I am so proud of my Jeff. He is growing into an amazing Father.

Our earthly father is supposed to be a reflection of our heavenly father. Jeff is taking on that role and blossoming into not just a great father, but a great leader in our home. Hallelujah! I can hardly believe this is the same man I was married to for lo these many years! Praise God.

Change is not without difficulty. As Jeff becomes more godly in his leadership style and approach to being a husband, I also have to modify my responses and expectations. Sometimes that is so wildly difficult!! Prayer is a big deal during these times of change!!!

We women often complain about our husbands - they aren’t this, or they aren’t that. And then as they become what we desired of them… we panic!! Oh, no! I didn’t really want a leader in the home, that means I can’t be the leader anymore. Panic sets in!

The turmoil that ensues is often tragic. But with patience and much prayer, God works it out to the good of all. As our husbands grow and change… so do we. How many times have I looked at an older women, so peaceful she appears, so wise, so gentle. What I am not seeing is the years of turmoil she endured as God molded her (and her husband) into the kinds of instruments He had intended.

I don’t think any of us begin the way we were intended to end. What a blessing that is!!

I was talking to a young man tonight about looking for a mate. We talked about submission and how to determine if the intended bride understands the greatness of the role of a helpmeet. We really explored different ways to determine if that woman “gets it”… questions to ask, things to look for…

The truth is, there is no way to perfectly project what your mate will be or become in a marriage. What is it that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:28?

“…But those who marry will face many troubles in this life…”

Ain’t it so brother!!!

Late - Wednesday Evening

What a hard, hard day. I awoke today at four o’clock in the morning. Couldn’t sleep so I did some writing, some accounting for the ministry and some praying. Jeff and I were out of sorts for the day… just on different plains the whole day. And I cried - all day.

I wasn’t sad about anything in particular, just tired and oppressed. I called the fellowship in the town where Jeff feels we are being called. I couldn’t get past the secretary at first. She just did not want to take a message from me for the Pastor, nor did she really want to hear about our ministry - or how we might be able to serve the fellowship.

Just not interested.

Then she transferred me to the Youth Pastor (more to get rid of me than anything!!). He essentially told me that they had a new building, new sound system and a very qualified sound tech… no need at all for our help.

After hanging up, I just broke down in tears. I was rejected. Why are we going to Everett? The fellowship there doesn’t want or need us. Oh dear, what if God is not calling us there? I was just destroyed.

Jeff reassured me that we were indeed called to Everett, although perhaps not to the fellowship there… whatever the end result, he is certain that God is wanting us in Everett, Washington. And you know what… I am okay with that. I have confidence in Jeff and confidence in God.

A little later I spoke with our Pastor (Skip Collier) in Sioux Falls. Of course, I broke down in tears. Not because I am afraid or uncertain of our calling, but because the rejection (after I was so sure Calvary Chapel Everett was our destination).

Skip reminded me about the Israelites as they fled the army of the Pharaoh. He made me listen…

Sometimes God is calling us to a place that is between a rock and a hard place (or an advancing army and a sea) to get us to really LISTEN to Him. If He can just get us to have faith in our faith… trust in His will… LISTEN to and for HIM. Sometimes it takes getting ourselves into a boxed-in canyon so we can really hear God speak to us.

Perhaps Everett is that sandy shore, with an army advancing behind us and an impenetrable sea ahead of us. I was so sure that I had connected all the dots. Yes, we were headed to Everett to serve the body at the Calvary Fellowship there. I was listening hard for everything related to Everett. Looking for the dots so that I could connect them.

Tonight Steve Hopkins taught that we need to include God in our plans. Allow for His will and divine plan in our plans. James 4:13 teaches us to include God in daily decisions of our lives… have I really done that??? Hmmmm

Have I really done that?

I have just followed along behind Jeff, trusting that he is in touch with God about our future. Not really praying about it myself or supporting Jeff with prayer in the plans for our immediate (or not so immediate) future. Have I included God in the daily decisions of my life?

Nope.

I talk to Him about the Kids, about money, about so many things. But I don’t really ask for guidance regarding our future. I leave that to Jeff. But as his helpmeet it is my job to support Jeff in prayer. Ooopps!!

More and more… do I face God in humility… Father, I have need of you, I cannot do these things on my own. Again, I find myself resting in my pride. Or resting in the pride of having a husband that is so obviously anointed and in-touch with the Lord. Hmmm.

So, here I am…

I find myself wondering if Everett is only a place for me to be still. A place for me to listen for and to the voice of my Father.

I see the impenetrable sea ahead of me. That sea of absolute faith… a commitment to this life of living by faith alone. And behind me I hear the crunching of the boots of the advancing army of fear and doubt…

And so I sit here in the sand, my toes dug into the comfort and warmth of the sands of my plans, my pride, my self-centeredness. I glance over my shoulder… fear. I stare ahead at the sea… faith.

I have only to step forward, take my toes out of the warm sand and in faith walk towards the water.

Faith.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

To be still, a test of faith for me.

Stillness.

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.

Matthew 11:29

Rest in Him.

Stillness.

Friday, November 30

I had a great drive to Portland today! I went by myself and while in town, met a wonderful woman and her husband! I was able to share with them all about this crazy life that we lead and about Jesus.

It was a great time! As I was leaving, I shared that God’s Word tells us that the only way to the Father is through Christ Jesus. That to find salvation, or in other words, to get to heaven… you must believe in Jesus. The woman, a lapsed church-goer, said well, yes… but she preferred to believe that God was merciful.

What about mercy?

Is God merciful?

Oh… He is amazingly full of Mercy. His mercy is that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to take the pain of punishment for you and me… Jesus died for our sins. And as a result of this mercy, we get a gift of Grace… of SALVATION.

So, what about Mercy? Isn’t God Merciful? Won’t we all go to heaven just for being good, do we really have to believe on Jesus????

God’s mercy IS Jesus. And yes, to receive that Mercy, that free gift of Salvation, all we have to do is one little thing…

Believe on Jesus, repent and set our lives on Him.

So simple. It’s just one act of faith to receive a gift of Salvation.

Without God’s mercy we will surely die.

 

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