Saturday, September 27, 2014

Buffalo Bill Cody and rest

I got you with that post title, didn't I?  I know you read that and were thinking, "What on earth is she going to write about now?!"  :)  Well, I'm not going to write about Buffalo Bill, but I am writing from Cody, WY.  The cabins where we're staying are called "Buffalo Bill Village" and I have NEVER seen more cowboy boots or rodeo signs than I've seen in the past 24 hours.

We have a concert tonight at a church here in Cody and a church service in a nearby town tomorrow morning.  We decided rather than haul the trailer all the way down here (2 1/2 hours) for one night, we just found a cheap little cabin (right in town...looks like a cabin, does NOT feel like a cabin).  In fact, the rate we got was so good and we've been so very busy, we decided to come down a day early.  We drove down yesterday morning, taking the scenic route through the Beartooth Mountains.  It was so beautiful!  What a gift it was to have a day free from responsibilities, just to enjoy each other and God's creation!

Today, we could have gotten up and done some sight seeing, but instead we slept in late and are relaxing in our little cabin.  Sometimes the best kind of vacation is one where you do nothing.
Last week, was a busy and blessed weekend of ministry.  Saturday (9/20) evening we did a concert at our "home away from home" church in Redlodge, MT.  This church body has welcomed us as family from the very first time we shared there.  We are blessed to call them family and were thrilled to spend the evening worshipping and fellowshipping with them!
Sunday (9/21) was a crazy, full day!  We got up early and drove 1 1/2 hours to our morning service, then went to lunch with a sweet couple from the church, drove back to Billings, let the kids run off some energy at a park and arrived at the Montana Pavilion at the fairgrounds at 4pm.  That evening we led worship and Josh played as part of a fundraiser for a local Christian school.  It was a privilege to be a part of that event and we pray for God's blessings on this school's building fund.  (By the time the speakers were finished I was ready to enroll my boys! ;)
Wednesday, we led worship for a "See You At the Pole" evening youth rally at a church where Josh has been sharing music since before he and I met.  The current youth pastor is a friend who Josh used to write and perform with.  Three other youth leaders there are good friends of Josh's (and mine now) from years passed and it was a gift to be a part of their outreach to the youth in the Billings area.
Adam, Josh, Wayne, and Ryan (Critter) - a sweet reunion
This upcoming week we have a couple mid-week events and then another full weekend.  As always, we appreciate your prayers for God to use us and grow us.  I am updating the praise/prayer page on this site today as well.
You may remember from the last time we were at Josh's parents, that they do not have internet at their house.  We have to drive to the library to get online.  Of course when we go to the library, we have a long list of things that must be done on the internet before the boys get restless and we have to vacate the premises lest we be banished!  We will be here for another two weeks, so our internet usage will continue to be limited!  Do you like how I have found yet another excuse for not posting very often? ;)  The good news is, I have my own laptop now!!!!  Yay!  Praise the Lord, this means that IF we happen to be at an RV park that has decent wi-fi, I can blog any time of the day.  Hopefully, this will lead to more frequent blogging....but we shall see! :)
Love to you all!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Update And a Few Random Pics

We have arrived in the Billings area. The last week has been busy and blessed.  We enjoyed both our week in Spokane and our short stay in Missoula!  In Spokane, we ministered at 5 churches that we have been to in the past.  That was a treat!  It's such a blessing to go where we know what to expect and know that we are loved and are a blessing! 
The pictures below are from the new church we went to in Spokane.  This was actually a mid-week Bible study that the pastor invited us to "take over" at his house.  We shared in our typical concert format with Josh playing many fingerstyle pieces and sharing his testimony, and then I led a couple worship songs and spoke about PFM.  It was a fun little house concert and we look forward to sharing with the whole church in the future.

We have been busy with homeschooling, booking, and even a little resting at the end of this week.  Our upcoming weekend is very busy and we'd appreciate your prayers for God's work in and through us.  In the meantime, here are a few random pics of life on the road this time around. :)

Josh's bedtime reading material....BORING! ;)

 Mine!....excellent book, thanks Debb! :)
 Sunrise before my morning run.
 Sunset in Hamilton, MT.  Josh's view while performing an outdoor concert!
 Same outdoor concert
Schoolwork on Grandmama and Grandpappy's dining room table, much more fun than in the trailer! :)
That's all for now.  Love to you all! :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Honesty and Love...or Lack There Of

I was thinking this morning about loving the unlovable.  Who are they and how do I love them?  

Some say the unlovable are those difficult to love because they are different in personality or life circumstance.  For me though, it is far easier to love someone at a distance (stranger or acquaintance) that I don’t understand or even disagree with, than to love those near to me who have hurt or offended me, even in a small way. 

During my morning devotions today, God was reminding me of this sin struggle, this lack of love.  He was bringing to mind specific people I have not loved well.  I was reflecting on my interactions with some of these people and feeling a little defensive, thinking I had not really been unloving to them.  Then the Holy Spirit (as He is so faithful to do) showed me the reality hidden behind my own denial…

He started by reminding me that I am honest. 

Some might think my honesty is a mature character quality, but to be honest ;) I can’t help it.  It’s just who I am.  I remember a night in high school when my mom was questioning me about something.  “Did you ….?” she asked.  I looked at her (heavy with guilt) and said “No!... yes (hanging my head).”  My lie lasted about 1 second.  I just couldn’t do it.

My honesty goes much deeper than simply speaking the truth though, and this is where it gets ugly.  You see, I wear my thoughts and emotions on my sleeve.  Actually I wear them on my face.  If you know me, you can testify to this.   I use to joke about how I could never be a waitress because I couldn’t handle the stress so every customer that irritated me would see it all over my face!  I’d certainly go broke for lack of tips!

This unavoidable honesty means I can’t just "put on a happy face".  The Bible says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34).  In my case, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the face scowls…or glares…or grimaces…or rolls its eyes…” You get the picture.
So, the Spirit opened my eyes to see that there are people in my life, whom I have failed miserably to love…and they have no doubt seen it on my face.

I am sad.  Sad to know that I have used my silence as a defense.  I have believed that if I was not speaking unloving words, then I wasn’t really being unloving.  I have convinced myself that these people I struggle to love are surely oblivious…and now I am faced with the reality that these people are probably all too aware of my attitude toward them. 

As I write, I find myself confronted with the reality that much of the “Love Passage” (1 Cor. 13) speaks of attitudes of the heart, not actions or words. 
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Cor. 13:1-6

So I find myself going back to the original questions...
Who are the unlovable and how do I love them?...and I realize - I am the unlovable.  I am ungrateful and unpleasant and unforgiving and unkind.  I am broken. 
I am the unlovable…and Jesus loves me.   

Jesus loves even ME!?!

So how do I love as Christ loves?

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 Jn. 4:7, 12-13)
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit was is contrary to the sinful nature…But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”(Gal. 5:16-17,22a)

Oh Lord, may I remember the great love you have for me, inspite of me.  And by the power of your Holy Spirit living in me and remembering your ongoing grace toward me, may I love others well, completely, from deep in my heart...and may that love shine beautifully from my face.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wow! The Internet Connection is BAD here!

We made it safe and sound to Spokane and survived our first weekend of the tour. :)

Saturday was driving and set-up day.  It was hard to leave my sister's house.  What an amazing blessing it was to spend those three weeks with her family!  Our travel was easy and uneventful; and considering the fact that we are practically "professionals" at setting up camp at the RV parks, that went very smoothly as well.

Yesterday, we had two ministry events (with a Costco trip and a nap sandwiched in between). Our tour started off with services at two churches that we've been to in the past.  It was a gift to get back into the swing of things, by performing/speaking/worshiping with churches that we know and love!

Today we officially started school!  We are now in 3rd and 1st grade.  I say "we" because I'm pretty certain I'm doing far more work then either of them, so I should get credit for being in the grade as well!  Don't you think?!:)  We had intended to continue school through the summer, but that ended up being pretty minimal.  They both did read quite a bit and we visited lots of state and national parks though.  Our boys are Junior Rangers at four different parks.  I was proud today, though to see how much the boys had learned and retained over the summer!  It was a good day!

We have events tomorrow and Wednesday night.  We'd appreciate your prayers that God would use us as He sees fit at each of the churches He has led us to.

I'll do my best to write again later this week, but let me tell you the wifi connection at this park STINKS!  Between that and sharing the laptop with my hubby, it's not easy to post....I'll keep trying though :)

One other quick prayer request : our oven and stove have decided to stop working :(  Josh spent quite a while today trying to figure out the problem, but so far he's been unable to resolve the problem. (Interestingly, last time we were at this RV park our fridge stopped working...perhaps we need a new place to stay while in Spokane?! :p )

Love from our family to yours!

A quick little side note - If you've been following my blog for long, you have noticed that I don't post many pictures of my kiddos.  When I do post pics of them, I try to keep their faces out of the picture.  I apologize as I know that many of you would love to see more of them.  However, this is a public blog, so I've decided for the sake of their privacy to keep their handsome faces off the world wide web.  Thanks for your understanding! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time Flies When You Are So Outnumbered by Children!

Well folks, I warned you!  I know it's been a couple weeks but let me tell you, I have been a BUSY lady!  As I said in my last blog, my sister Anna had Baby #3 last month.  We parked our trailer at my Anna's house and I've been doing my best to help her with the kiddos and around the house.  That makes 5 kids 8 years old and under....and the four older ones are maniacs!  Yes, two of those are mine! ;)  I am pooped, but the cousins (this is how I refer to any combination of the four) have had SOOO much fun together.  It has been such a blessing to watch the four of them grow as friends.  Not to mention the incredible gift of spending so much time with my sister and her sweet baby girl!  Josh and Scott (my bro-in-law) have had fun playing guitar together a couple times and even let Anna and I take Baby and go on a "date" without the bigger kids.

Our time here is quickly coming to a close.  It is bittersweet.  I am ready to get back on the road.  We're all ready for a little more routine and time with just the four of us.  We're excited for the many ministry events we have coming up on this tour and we're looking forward to seeing our friends and family in Eastern Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho!  However, I am going to miss this precious family time soooo much! :(

We leave Saturday.  Our first week is in Spokane and will be a busy one!  We will readjust to time on the road, begin school, do several concerts/services, as well as all the typical day-to-day stuff.

As usual, my goal will be to blog more frequently.  I do love to blog and so appreciate all of your support and prayers.  I want to keep you updated and included, as your prayers are such an important part of this ministry.  I will continue to strive to write more often!

Love to you all!