Posted by Elisabeth
The past few weeks Papa has been in Texas with a crew from work. As any couple who loves each other would know, such a separation is very difficult. So, Mama went down to join him for one week. That left us children to care for all 13 of each other! What could have been -- under "normal" circumstances -- a terrifying, chaotic situation was actually one of the best weeks we siblings have had together…and we've had a LOT of good times before! The younger ones were very cooperative (and I'm not saying that just to sound good!) and we all grew even closer together as a team.
~ 50th Wedding Reception ~
One of the first activities we participated in during that week together was the 50th wedding anniversary of a very dear couple who attends our Church.
They had requested live serenading from a couple of our talented musicians, and Anna and Christina were delighted to help in making this occasion a special memory for them with their elegant music.
Meanwhile, the rest of us endeavored to practice our manners of propriety for two hours… It got a tad long, but it was good. :)
A daughter-in-law of the couple is beginning a cup-cake bakery and provided a variety of DELICIOUS cup-cakes. Mmmmm!!!
Towards the end of the reception, four of us girls sang a few songs with Anna's lovely accompaniment. She did a great job!
Yes, the boys were out having some "fellow time". :)
~ Take'n a Trip ~
At the end of the week, we all packed up and travelled to meet our Aunt & Uncle and cousins in the Wichita Mountains. Okay, so they aren't "real" mountains compared to some parts of the country, but hey, it was more "mountainous" than our immediate home surroundings! :) We took two vehicles and the girls rode in the big van following the boys who took the lead in Josiah's little car.
Half way through the trip the van began to have trouble. The boys (who were going the speed limit) were quite a ways ahead of the girls (who were carefully going slightly under). All was going well until…we heard a rapid clicking in the engine. "uh-oh!" Suddenly, there was a big jolt and the van lost power. "oh no!" Those of you who are familiar with the workings of automobiles will probably catch on rather quickly. A quaint sweet smell seeped into the air and we promptly pulled over to the side of the highway and turned the van off. I attempted to contact the boys and was finally successful and didn't hesitate in describing our dilemma, "You know that dial on the dash-board that has a 'C' at the bottom and an 'H' at the top? The needle is all the way up at the top in the red!" I supposed Josiah knew what was wrong as he confidently gave urgent instructions not to go anywhere and that he would be with us as soon as possible…which was about an hour later! *If you ever need to get stranded, do it where there is a place NEARBY for your aid to get back on your side of the road. The middle of a toll highway is not a good choice! ;)
We made good use of our time and sang, relaxed, talked, laughed, and enjoyed the pleasant breeze.
Are you stranded on life's highway
With no help in sight?
Are you lonely, lost, forgotten,
Fear the coming night?
Lift your eyes unto the heavens;
Jesus knows your name!
Call upon Him; He will answer
If His grace you claim.
He will mend your broken spirit,
Cleanse you from all sin,
He will gently lead you forward
As you follow Him.
~ E ~
They FINALLY arrived!!!!!!
The tube connecting something to something else had popped off spewing coolant all over the engine compartment. Glad the boys knew what to do to get us up and going again!
The field by the highway provided wonderful space for the children to release some "canned" energy.
Caleb was such a gentleman and kept us ladies well supplied with flowers which we fondly tucked in our hair --as every lady should do with such dainties. :)
After watching him diagnose the problem and pour in more coolant, I'm at least a little more knowledgeable about how to…umm…well…call him again when I have more car trouble! :)
The children all had such good attitudes through the delay even though we were late to the hike.
As a "thank you" we shared some of our snacks with the boys. They were very grateful since lunch had been post-poned.
Thank you, Sirs! Y'all are such a blessing!
~ Hiking ~
We FINALLY made it safe and sound with still enough afternoon to enjoy a good hike! Praise the Lord!!! :)
It was such beautiful spring day to get out in God's creation and enjoy the sunshine!
The fellowship with family and friends brought such refreshment!
Laura was a hero; she hiked all the way down the mountain (save for a few rare precipice hand-offs) with Daniel on her back! Way to go Laura!
We learned even more how to help each other through hurdles and difficulties. Isn't that what friends are for in life?
Even though from a distance certain parts looked easy, there were always unstable rocks and pot-holes that would catch the one who was not walking circumspectly.
Though a few of us got tired at times, our matchless Creator had those "places of rest" at just the time we needed them--some on a peek overlooking the world, some in a hidden "valley" where only quiet peace was present.
When through the woods and forrest glades I wonder
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grander
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze...
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How GREAT Thou art!
"I love to go a wandering…
Along the mountain track!…
And as I go I love to sing...
With my nap-sack on my back!"
We drove to our Aunt & Uncle's home to spend the night, then met up with Papa & Mama at Church the next day. What a glad reunion!!!
~ Heading out… again! ~
That afternoon, we relished the fellowship and cherished being together again…with our dear parents! Finally the time came to hand over jurisdictions and five of us older ones squeezed into Josiah's little car for a trip to Big Sandy for the Regional Family Conference.
It was definitely a tight squeeze, but a golden memory was made.
We had really bonded as sibling during the week without our parents, so saying 'goodbye' was difficult, but we were excited about the week ahead and the opportunity to learn even more about God's plan for our lives…and we would return, Lord willing, to share the insights and messages we received.
~ Big Sandy Conference ~
We arrived a bit weary and wind-blown, and a dear family, the Fleshmens, welcomed us next to their campsite. We thanked the Lord for this sweet family away from family
The first few days were full of joyful interaction, tasty food, and uplifting encouragement.
One evening, we went to a little concert where the Bontrager family did an outstanding job singing and playing their many instruments. God has blessed them with such talent! Their interaction as siblings was also a big encouragement to us.
Anna ~ God knows exactly what we need and will have it ready for us when we need it. This week was a manifestation of this very fact in my life as the five of us older ones were able to attend the Regional ATI Family Conference in Big Sandy, TX. From the old-fashioned fun camping and outside games, to the heartfelt fellowship and encouragement with fellow travelers through this journey called life, to the timely and inspirational messages carefully prepared from God's Word and presented through the preaching and teaching of His servants, every part was exactly what I needed -- even more than I realized until the week was coming to a close. No specific group of individuals is perfect, but there is something invigorating about being among individuals who's passion is to live for Christ in every area of their lives!
All of the messages were very good, but there was one that spoke to my heart which was given by Bro. Gil Bates entitled, "What do you do when you don't know what God is doing?" taken from the story of Elijah when the Lord commanded him to reside by the brook Cherith for a season (found in 1 Kings 17:1-9), and he related it to a time as some of us Christians, right after we have had a high week, are going back home to settle into life with "not much going on", and wondering what the Lord is doing, or why "nothing is happening" and feeling put on the sidelines in our service to him. But Bro. Bates brought up several reasons that the Lord may have us in such a place and began his message with this statement: "What do you do in a time [and place of being on the sidelines]? Focus on what your doing? No, focus on Who you're serving. It is time to focus on your relationship with God."
- 1) It is a time of Preparation,
going through the process of establishing your heart in a strong relationship with the Lord;
- 2) It is a Place of Solitude
to really focus on God and seek His face;
- 3) It is a Place of Humility
submitting yourself to His will and seeking to know His heart;
- 4) It is a Place of Privacy
where you can be alone with the Lord and learn to hear His voice;
- 5) It is a Time of Patience,
giving your desires to the Lord and letting Him be your desire and fulfillment;
- 6) It is a Place of Protection,
an opportunity to embrace the fact that wherever God has you, it is right where He wants you;
- 7) It is a Time of Provision,
trusting that God is providing the lessons for you to learn during this time right now
that will someday be the foundation on which He will set you in the future.
Our job as true followers of Christ should not be that of seeking a ministry, but rather turning our eyes to Christ and letting Him develop in us a life message that will bring honor and glory to Him. No matter where He has us, or what He has us doing, though we may not be able to trace His hand, we need to trust His heart with the knowledge that wherever He leads us it is for our good and for His glory.
Elisabeth ~ One particular thing the Lord emphasized to me was a message by Gabriel Cleator on giving thanks in EVERYTHING (1Thessalonians 5:18). Did you know that unthankfulness is on the same list as unholiness and blasphemy (2 Timothy 3:2)? When we express unthankfulness to the God Who does not allow anything to come against us without His permission, we are speaking directly against God! That's a fearfully striking fact! He went on to say how each irritation we may receive is actually an "invitation" to enter into the presence of the Almighty God in praise and thanksgiving. As I was meditating on that, the thought came to me that my siblings are sometimes actually "mailmen" bringing me "invitations" to praise the Lord. Think about it; the most honored, respected, powerful King sending you a personal invitation through a specially sent "mail-carrier" to come and have fellowship with Him -- such fellowship that can only truly take place through the offering of praise from a thankful heart! So, as always follows a lesson comes a test. Actually, let me rather say, after a banquet comes an "invitation" to give thanks. I was in a hurry to get ready for Church. Quickly approaching my closet I was already thinking of what to wear. So far, I had managed to maintain a somewhat cheerful disposition, (who wouldn't on your second day home?) but I could feel the tendency to waver should something go awry. As I came to the closet, suddenly my "inner man" fainted and I beheld, in a heaped and wrinkled pile there lay half of my nice clothes mixed with toys on the floor (which, by the way, had not been swept for a while). Immediately, I turned to irritably interrogate for the culprit…but just then a little voice inside of me said, "This is an invitation." At that instant, a song popped into my head as I cheerfully announced to my observing sisters, "I have received an invitation!" and we all burst into singing "Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! Let my soul praise him for he is my help and salvation. All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near. Join me in glad adoration." What a glorious time we shared in those few moments! What could have turned things for the worse actually aided in preparing our hearts all the more for worshiping the Lord with his people at Church that evening…I'd even say we got a head start! :) I know that was a very small "invitation", however, doesn't exercising start small? How can I say I'd be ready for a more "extravagant invitation" if I do not begin with the small ones? Ah, let us be done blaspheming our God who does all things for our good and for his glory, and let us begin to take every moment to enter into His presence with thanksgiving!
Josiah ~ One thing that spoke to me was the importance of prayer. Christians have access to so much power if we will pray. In order to have an effective prayer life we must pray, be fervent in prayer, get clean, and we must be persistent. I really enjoyed singing in the choir. Let us give glory to the King of kings!
Laura ~ Dr. David Gibbs' sermon on the power of prayer really emphasized to me the importance of having a prayer list, letting it grow, and praying fervently and persistently. I also really appreciated the message and testimony from Gabriel Cleator. Before I went there, I was thinking, "I know I need to have joy, but how do I get it?". His message really brought it home to the practical ways of living in thanksgiving… By the time he was done preaching, his message had penetrated to the point that I couldn't help but give thanks with joy for all that the Lord has done! Giving thanks brings Joy! The world can fake a lot of things, but they can't fake true joy.
Christina ~ Wow…where do I start! I was really touched by the whole week, but they asked me to share some high-lights: #1. Gabriel Cleator and his message on giving thanks…ALWAYS! Not sometimes, not most of the time, but ALL the time. And he is a good example. :) (You probably got more information above…); #2. I was reminded of this lesson after hearing about the back ground and also personally observing the testimony of a young 10-year old boy named Benjamin whose mother passed away about a year and a half ago. Through the different trials he has faced in the past years, he has still kept his focus on Christ! He told his daddy, when his mother past away, that he wanted to use his ability to play the piano for a testimony of God's grace! God's grace and blessing was very evident in his young life as he played "How Great Thou Art" so majestically during one of the sessions, you wouldn't have thought he was only 10-years old! I was also very encouraged by how the different wonderful speakers didn't just tell us what to do, but they act upon it themselves, and we can see what it is supposed to look like. It is our responsibility to pass it on to our communities, wherever we are -- similar to what Mr. Bates talked about in the last session encouraging us for when we return to our various "worlds of life". The "times of separation" are times of preparation for what God may have in store for us in the future -- which is an exiting adventure if you take your
irritations invitations the "proper" way. :)
"But continue thou in the things which thou
hast learned and hast been assured of… "
2 Timothy 3:14a