Saturday, July 31, 2021

To Nationwide Youth Roundup and Back

On July 16th after I quickly did flowers for a wedding (which my sister Keren delivered the next day) we headed out for Nationwide Youth Roundup near Denver, Colorado. Basically the whole youth group from our church went, along with some of us parents. Our van had 6 people in it on the way out and 7 on the way back. There were 3 vehicles in all.

 It is over a 1000 miles one way. We were super blessed to have 1st Christian Church in Norfolk, Nebraska allow us to stay overnight in their building on the trip out. My Aunt Mona attends and serves there and so she and her family came and met us, brought us supper and breakfast and arranged for us to stay there. 

It was so fun to see family and a blessing to have a free place to spend the night.
My Aunt Mona and I holding each other's grandsons. Malcolm and his parents got to go on the trip too and Malcolm was a pretty good traveler.
Cousin (1st cousin once removed) Heidi and Auntie Megan are loving on Malcolm that night.

Saturday we arrived at Roundup Ranch. The campsite we were going to be at was at the top of the hill. It was quite steep to get up there so we didn't try to take the van up but hauled the stuff up in other ways. We got to see some friends and worked at getting set up that night. In our campsite was our group from Bemidji, a group from the church of Christ in Plainview, MN and a group from The Rising Sun Church of Christ near Desmoines, Iowa. Also a few other friends from other places. There were 58 in all.

Hunker Hauser is a fun game and one the Derek and Lars are quite good at.

Several of the kids brought hammocks and they were enjoyed. This is in Molly in hers. Down below is the new shower house that we had right next to our campsite. That was a blessing. I always got hot showers which was quite nice.
Malcolm was very loved at NYR. It was fun to carry him around and have people stop us to admire him. The most frequent adjective used to describe him there was "squishy". He is squishy in an adorable sort of way. I had fun meeting these girls from Louisiana. 
This outfit was one that Mara wore when she was a baby. It made a nice warm sleeper for cool nights.
Malcolm was finding Great Aunt Martha quite funny.
Game playing was pretty common in our campsite.
The music was neat but rather loud so we tried to keep Malcolm's ears covered. That usually seemed to put him to sleep.
Church groups use the same campsites year after year so they also do their own improving of them. This year Bobby, Derek and Benjy worked on steps for the campsite that we were in. It was a very nice addition.
Megan and Gracie in the hammocks.
I was really happy to get to spend some time with my friend Michelle. We met in camp in Iowa, spent time together when I went to college there, then we both lived in Bemidji for a few years, now they have been down in Louisiana for a long time. We do call each other but it is lovely to see her in person.
A unique game that I had never seen before. The kids seemed to enjoy it and it was nice in that it worked for a crowd.
Our friend Nancy from Iowa headed up the cooking at our campsite and did a fabulous job. All the meals were delicious. I enjoyed getting to help out some as well. On Wednesday night we were invited down to the Crowley, LA campsite where they fed us gumbo. It was delicious as well. 
Each day there was a morning singing time and a sermon and then after that there were quite a few different classes for different age groups. I attended to the adult class on Hebrews 11 (and faith) taught by Michael Defazio. I really enjoyed it. Though this is a chapter I have memorized and studied a lot I really felt like I gained a lot from this class. Aaron also really enjoyed the class time with the highschool boys. It made them think about the sort of legacy that they want to leave behind. It really made him think a lot and it sounds like it was very helpful for a lot of the others that went as well. The highschool girls in our group really enjoyed there class as well. It focused some on the book of Esther and about how the decisions we make now can influence the rest of their lives. I also heard really good things about the college age class and the adult leadership class. The sermons were also very well done and super encouraging and motivating. I really was blessed by the teaching that went on at NYR. In the evening there was another time of singing and a sermon. Following that we would have a visiting time with the others in our campsite about what we learned that day and our reactions to it.
Malcolm enjoyed his time with his great aunt Martha.
Our Bemidji group (with a couple of friends from elsewhere).
Waiting for the evening service to start.
We meet, rain or shine. Two evenings we wore raincoats to services. 
Early morning departure. Derek woke us all up a little after 5 am on Friday morning.
We went to Mt. Rushmore on the way back. Hope and Megan there.
Our family at Mt. Rushmore.
We needed to document Malcolm's being there. :-)

Ice cream hit the spot while we were there. It was another warm day.

  I feel so blessed that we were able to take this trip. It was so encouraging to me. We are hoping to go again next year.

 
 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Working on our Basement and other Random Happenings

 
    We have been making good progress on our basement project and I am super excited about that. We have been laying the vinyl plank flooring and we made great headway this week. That was largely thanks to our friend and brother-in-Christ, Justin. Justin and his lovely wife Paige and their four fun kids came over two afternoons/ evenings this week and helped on the floor. Justin has had experience with flooring and was able to help with some of the hard cuts around doors that I was nervous about. He had a special tool for cutting off the bottom of the doorframes so that we didn't have to take all the doors down and then hang them again later. That was a huge blessing!

Aaron has been helping with the floor project as well. We finished up the den and the main room and now just have half of the bedroom left (including the closet) and then we are done. It is very exciting!

 I also got the bathroom painted a lovely blue (paint found for free at the transfer station so that was nice!). Megan helped a little with the priming.

 Last week the cabinet guy came and put the sink and cabinet and medicine chest in. It is looking good.

Tomorrow I plan on starting on the tiling. I am hoping then to finish it next week. I called the plumber to see if they could come the next week. 

That is the progress on the house. It is going good and I am excited to have it done soon.



   I am  trying a new thing to develop a habit of having a clean desk. Before I can go on the computer I have to clean my desk for 5 minutes. I have been able to accomplish quite a bit with this new rule. Hopefully it is helping me to develop a life long habit.
My niece Beatrice is staying in our area (with my parents) for a couple of months. She is working with the boys at the ice-cream shop. She also enjoys spending time with Megan. This week she came over and they did a bunch of baking. Last week she came over and they were working on making corsets. Not necessarily what  every teen thinks they need, but these two do. 
I enjoyed working on the flowers for a wedding last weekend. There is a certain elegance with white flowers and greenery.
Homeschool baseball started for the summer on Tuesday. We are excited about it. Megan doesn't want to come but Aaron and Jonathan and I went. Our friends, the Murrays, who just moved here also came. It was fun to have them there. 

 Next week Aaron and Megan are going to Bible camp and I get to go for a few days too to help out. It should be a lot of fun!


   I hope you all are doing great!


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Trust the Process


Malcolm and I at Lake of the Woods
   I recently finished going through a program called "Pathways Core Training" and while I will save telling much about the program for another post I did want to share something that came from it. In the program as you think about and share so many different things from your life they tell you over and over again "Trust the process". I admit that wasn't easy for me nor did it sit well with me. I tend to want to be pretty independent and a free thinker and what would cause me to trust them? I didn't even know them. We were meeting on zoom and so the whole idea of trusting was hard for me.  

   I don't think it is all bad to be a little skeptical of new ideas and to check things out well but I realized that I have a tendency to want to figure everything out for myself and I really struggle with letting go and trusting. We could debate on whether that was good or not where Pathways was concerned but I know for sure a place that I need to learn to trust completely and not still try to be in control and that is with God.

   Proverbs 3:5&6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

   I memorized those verse as a young child. I know them well and I know that our God is completely trustworthy. I have read of all that He has done that is recorded in the Bible. I have heard the stories of many loved ones who have found Him trustworthy. I have seen Him prove himself over and over again in my own life and still I struggle with trusting.

  This year has been a great one for me to come to grips with how much I struggle in this area, how much I need to grow. And I have been growing. It doesn't happen overnight (at least not for me) but it is happening. I am slowly truly learning to trust. Not just trusting God when everything is going right but trusting Him when it feels like everything is going wrong. Resting in Him, finding peace in Him and counting all the trials as joy.

  James 1:2-4 says "  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,  whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

   Part of me learning to trust God more has been to spend more time looking at the big picture - to truly focus on eternity. A lot of the things that seem really hard here are pretty small in the focus of eternity. A lot of those things are preparing us to be more ready for eternity if we let that happen.

   Last Saturday Aaron was wanting to find a different vehicle because his truck was having issues. He found one he wanted 2.5 hours drive away. I agreed to take him there and then invited Mara and Malcolm to come along. That morning we delivered Wedding flowers, dropped Megan off at work and headed to Mara's apartment. I wasn't feeling great and was wishing I would have taken an ibuprofen while at home. Mara gave one to me but it didn't work. When we went to load up the van to leave, one of the sliding doors was opened and would not shut again. I was ready to give up on the trip but Mara said we could take their car. So off we went leaving the van with the open door behind.

   We made it up safely, I rode in the back with Malcolm (who slept beautifully) and struggled with a headache and nausea.

   We got there to look at the truck and Aaron and I went on a test drive while Mara fed Malcolm. I am feeling overwhelmed because vehicle shopping is completely out of my element. I know basically nothing about vehicles. I had no idea if Aaron was making a good decision or not. I just had to let go and trust.
 

   After Aaron paid the guy (we let our teenagers buy their own vehicles and pay for their own insurance it is a method that we think works well) we head off. A few miles down the road Aaron pulls over and when I go check on him (I was riding with Mara) I found out he is dealing with smoke inside. This does not seem good. The feelings of anxiety and overwhelm waft over me once again. 

   He looks under the hood and we can see something smoking. I had no idea what it is so I suggest that he call his uncle Luke and send him a picture. I also suggest that we could turn right around and take the truck back and I am sure they would give the money back. Aaron isn't interested in doing that. Luke thinks it is just the air conditioner (which is too old to work) and that turned out to be true.


 
 Meanwhile Mara, Malcolm and I enjoy a little cemetery right on the side of the road. Aaron turns the air conditioner off and we continue on. It seems like it is working better.  We went up to the Lake of the Woods and had a lovely picnic there.

   We came home again to face a Van that still had a door that didn't close. But we went over to Keren and Benjamin's for supper and Benjamin went to work on the van and got it closed and then the next day he worked on it some more and fixed it even better.

   Monday I had a lovely, encouraging day with various visits and a Bible study. It was really fun. Then Monday evening the computer  wouldn't work. It said the Hard disk had an error. I took it in the next morning. I learned that the hard drive was completely shot and they couldn't recover anything off of it. Then I learned that our back up system hadn't worked since September. I had lost pretty much all of my business records for this year. It felt a little overwhelming. For a bit I was struggling yet again with trusting. 
    But I am learning to Trust the Process. I know that God is at work. I don't always understand His ways but that is how He said it would be. I am however little by little seeing how God is using my whole situation for His good. And that is a truly wonderful thing. When I take the time to step back and in my limited view attempt to see the whole picture I am truly in awe at how God has worked in my life and how He is working. I can truly Trust the Process. I hope that you can too. And please, if you see me struggling in this - just remind me to step out in faith and trust.

Recently I went to visit a friend that lost her 10 year old daughter to brain cancer this Spring. Losing her has been so hard but my friend has been learning more and more to follow Proverbs 3: 5 & 6. They don't understand why this happened but they know that they can trust the One who does.

   My prayer for you is that you too can trust the process. God is at work.

Aaron and Malcolm bringing beauty to my life
Malcolm's first canoe outing

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Let God Write Your Story with Steve Saint & Jaime Saint

  When I am working on Wedding flowers or folding laundry I will often find educational or uplifting videos to watch on Youtube. I ran across the story of Steve Saint which then led me to watching this video. It blessed me immensely. I hope that you are able to find time to watch it sometime too and that it blesses you and makes you consider whether you are letting God write your story.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Every Moment Holy

   I am loving the spring flowers just now. Lilies of the Valley, Lilacs and Violets are definitely among my favorite flowers. Do any of you all have those flowers blooming now too or are the long gone or yet to come or don't grow in your area?
I love how simple it is to bring beauty to your table and your meals. 3 little repurposed jars with just a few stems each of different types of flowers. No fancy arranging needed - just simple beauty. Do you bring flowers into your home? I know that not everybody responds with joy to flowers the way I do but for me it just lifts my spirits and reminds me of God's love and His amazing artistry when I see flowers.



    Not long ago my good friend, Jennifer, offered to loan me the book "Every Moment Holy" by Douglas Kaine Mckelvey. I looked at it a bit when she offered it to me and I could see that it had a lot of good thoughts. I admit that part of me was a little hesitant about this book. It is, after all, a book of liturgies. A prayer book. Prayers that somebody else wrote out that I could use. I have never been a part of a church group (or any other religious group) that has used pre-written prayers and the idea of it just seemed odd to me. Don't I know on my own what I should speak to God about? Won't the Holy Spirit help me with that? I believe that the answer to both of those questions are "yes" but I have also found many blessings as I had read through this book.

   I absolutely think we should pray from our heart and pray as the Holy Spirit directs us. But in my reading this book I was reminded at how blessed I am when I pray with others and they put into words things that I may have struggled saying, or not thought to say. Praying with others and hearing their prayers causes my prayer time to be richer. Reading this book is a little like that. 

I would like to share a couple of excerpts from this book that really hit home with me....

  "O Christ My Shepherd,
    O Christ My Companion,

   You never promised that I would not walk this bitter road. What you promised was I would not walk this road along.

   When you prophesied to Peter the kind of death he would die - you told him simply to follow you faithfully on the path marked out for him.

   In the same way, Jesus, you do not call me to compare the length or the topography of my own road to the journeys of others who serve you. You call me simply to follow you faithfully on my path, on this path, through the specific events of this one life I am given."

   "O Christ Most Compassionate,
     O Christ Most Wise,
counsel and comfort me now. In the midst of this, my hour of doubt and fear and questioning, remind me of the history of your grace so long expressed to me at every turn of life.

    For what have I ever had to trust you with, if not my fears, my tragedies, my disappointments, my losses, my heartaches? The happier times required no costly trust; the light and pleasant hours asked nothing of my faith. I was the thirsty desert wastes, the long hard winters, and the sudden surging storms that proved the steadfastness of your love, and the certainty of my hope.....

....Grant me such divine, surpassing peace, O Christ. Let me acknowledge and release for good this sense that I am the victim of some cosmic injustice - that I might lay hold instead of the grace that ever holds me."

   It is my mission that every moment in my life would be holy. Including the time spend sanding the drywall down in our basement bathroom as I try to get it ready for hosting with Air BnB.
I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Life is Beautiful


Though this year has been one of the hardest ones in my life there are still so many, many things that make my life beautiful and full of joy.  Here are some of the things that have been making my life beautiful....
Mara and Malcolm. They have contributed in a big way to the joy I feel. This afternoon we went to a baby shower in their honor. My sister-in-law, Molly Bea hosted it. My sister Keren was going to do it with her but she ended up getting sick. Both of those women are an incredible blessing to me and make me so very thankful. Molly Bea bakes delicious sour dough bread for us each week and usually has us over for supper each Wednesday and is just a good friend. Keren and I get together every Tuesday morning to pray together which has been so helpful to me.

I just love this little man. Even when he feels like having grumpy faces. I knitted the sweater he is wearing and it was fun to have him try it on.
I am so very blessed by friends. This is Elaine - a dear friend of mine. She and other friends make my life so beautiful. Also,  you can see Malcolm's cute suspenders in this picture.
Aaron and I went to track and field day together yesterday. It is always a fun day filled with many beautiful things: Sunshine, friends, exercise and the fun of seeing my athletic child excel. 
It is a track and field day for homeschooler put on by a local Mennonite church. Aaron ended up with 3 blue ribbons and some third place ones as well.
Flowers certainly make my life more beautiful. We have one crab apple tree that is just blooming profusely. I had hoped to get it grafted and that hasn't worked out yet but I am still fully enjoying the blooms even though the fruit will be to small to use.
An azalea that Aaron gave me for Mother's Day. I love it.
There is even beauty in Dandelions! On Wednesday night when I was teaching some children at church one of the 3 year old boys picked a dandelion like this and gave it to me and then wanted me to blow it. It was such a fun and beautiful moment to watch his delight.
I love the violets!

A couple of Wednesday nights ago I had my class help plant flowers at the church building. It was so fun to have them help (even though a few flowers may have gotten stepped on) and it brought me a lot of joy.
I do feel so blessed to work as a florist - both on my own and at the flower shop. Getting to work with flowers so often is just so fun. I get to enjoy some of the most beautiful things that God created on a very regular basis.

This song reminds me of what is truly beautiful and wonderful in life and that is Jesus and the way he can work in others. I am so thankful for Jesus!
 

What are some of the things that are bringing beauty to your life right now?

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