What's Happening...
Subscribe to our blog!
Previous blog posts
Search our website
We're on Facebook!

Our Blog Contributors

Myra Balok
Lisa Barber
Daisy Danielson
Stephanie Gardner
Beth Husband
Melissa Lamie
Braelene Miller
Stacey Pardoe
Debby Snyder
Cindy Stewart
Linda Vester

Verse of the Day
Friday
Feb242017

God's Creatures, Great and Small

So many times we wonder if God can use us in unexpected situations where we find ourselves. I found myself in one such situation. I had been called to California when my sister began to lose her battle with cancer. No matter what the doctors did, the cancer seemed to stay one step ahead of the chemo and radiation treatments. John, her husband, brought Suzi home, arranged care to keep her comfortable, and called in the family.

I left Pennsylvania on a cold winter day on January 9th, 2017, arrived in California at my sister’s home in the rain, and was ushered into her bedroom by my brother-in-law John. My sister lay dying, being held in comfort by the morphine she received every two hours. I let the tears stream down my face as I caressed my sister and kissed her. I told her I loved her and to watch for the angel who would escort her into the arms of Jesus. She opened her eyes acknowledging my presence. I spent the next two days sitting with her, talking and reading to her, and praying with her and the hospice chaplain as he prayed, helping her confess her sins.

On Tuesday, late in the morning, I went for a walk around the 26 acre ranch, El Sueno, which my sister and her husband John managed. I walked around the place admiring the beautiful show and race horses there. The trainers, students, and ranch personnel were exceptional. They greeted me with open arms, inquiring about my sister and John, asking also about how I was doing. I felt so much love and comfort from each person. I knew God was with me during this difficult time. Upon leaving the barn, I noticed a trainer leading a rider on a beautiful horse to the arena for training. They had paused briefly for the owner of the horse to catch up with them. I approached the horse and remarked what a beautiful creature it was. The horse stood very still, smelling my hand and looking into my eyes. I began to pet her as the rider shared that the horse’s name was Emily. Emily stood still while I patted her neck and scratched under her chin. When I stopped to answer some questions, she used her head to nudge my chest. I began petting her again. I eventually stopped and stepped away so they could proceed into the arena. I thought nothing more of the incident. 

Later in the evening, another trainer, Debbie, stopped at my sister’s house to visit my sister. She shared with John and me that they were calling me the “Horse Whisperer” at the barn. She and another trainer were watching the whole incident with Emily; their thought was that the rider was going to die at any second. Apparently, Emily was a wild mustang who had recently been rescued from running wild in the Malibu canyons. She was being trained for Dressage and didn’t actually like people. She has only let the trainer, rider, and owner pet her. Emily reacts negatively toward anyone else who approaches her. They were totally amazed that Emily would let me make such of a fuss over her, petting her head and neck, and scratching under her chin. I was totally amazed by what Debbie was telling John and me.

Later that evening, as I sat with my sister and reflected on the “horse whispering” incident, I tried to understand why this young mustang would let me make such a fuss over her. Suddenly, it dawned on me why Emily responded the way she did. As I waited for my plane to arrive in Burbank, I had prayed the God would use me to minister to those at the ranch and to all whom I came in contact with during this hard time. I asked Him to use me as a sieve to let His love, peace, and comfort flow thru me to all I encountered here in California.

Emily was calm during the exchange between her and me because she felt her creator in me. Emily didn’t feel me petting and loving her; she felt God's presence calming her, helping her to relish the feel of human hands on her. Those hands, my hands, brought her God’s comfort and love. I felt privileged that God would use me with this magnificent creature.

This has shown me that God can use us in all circumstances and in situations where and when we least expect it. God has promised He is with us in all situations, at all times. But God can only use us if we give Him permission and open ourselves to Him.

Ellen - Guest Blogger

Tuesday
Feb142017

A Valentine Gift!

I am amazed by the number of blessings, promises, and gifts that the Lord has for us!  I haven't studied that in depth, but I am sure there are thousands upon thousands.

I have been learning about it more as I have studied the book of Ephesians.  In going through the first chapter alone, I counted 40.  (This includes different translations, so each one seems to multipy, as not every translation reads the same.)

As a friend and I were talking about this, we came up with the idea of making a box containing cards, each with a blessing, promise or gift, to use as an illustration for our study in Ephesians.  

So today, I want to share our box with you...

And inside the blessings of God abound!

At our study, we each take a card out of the box every week, and are asking God to reveal more to us about the gift on the card. It has been amazing to see how God answers those prayers and most of the time He does it in the most unexpected way! 

He wants you to know the blessings he has for you!  They are free - all you need to do is receive them.  As a friend reminded me recently, too often we think of blessings as material things God gives to us.  When really what he wants to give us is himself.

Now that's a Valentine Gift that keeps on giving!  For eternity!  

My prayer is that Jesus will reveal His love to you today, and every day!  Live loved, sweet sister!

Linda

 

About the box...

If you would like to make a box for your personal use, or as a gift for a friend, the directions are below.  You also have permission to link back to this site, but not to copy what is here. We are not selling this and ask that you do not either, as it really is a gift from God, isn't it?

The box is from the dollar store. I used a bow I had in my bow box. You can get some of those at the dollar store too! I printed out the gifts onto card stock and cut them apart.  Once cut apart I wrapped the cards in tissue paper, put them in the box, and voila!  By all means put your own spin on it and get creative!  I plan to add more gifts to my box as I find them, which probably will mean a bigger box :)

Download and print:

The Gift

Gifts 1

Gifts 2

Gifts 3

Gifts 4

If you made a box, we would love to hear about it!  Share what you did in the comments below.

Monday
Feb062017

Finding God in Silence

“In the act of silence you’re not waiting for God to make a move. You’re becoming aware of the moves he is making.” – Brennan Manning

 

Patches of crusty dirt-stained snow lay on the grass like a map of continents from some other planet etched on a worn green canvas.  I think I see a continent resembling Africa.  

There are starlings at the feeder, and I’m thankful for even a small sign of life.  

Winter feels like death to me.  

I’m not sure if it’s from growing up in the country, climbing so many mountains in my twenties, or if it’s just the way God wired me, but the natural world feels like home to me.  Going to the woods brings life to my soul, and I often feel most connected with God under open skies.  The first time I really encountered him for my own was in a hayfield.  But that’s a story for a different day.

I love being outside so much that the sting of winter’s reality strips my vitality.  I feel lifeless and unmotivated.

I ponder these things as I watch the starlings flutter over Australia.  Why must there be winter?

A thought about restoration floats across my stream of consciousness, and I let it keep going.  Surely God doesn’t want to speak about a cold, bleak season, and how he intends to use it to restore me.  

I ponder Psalm 23, mostly for a distraction.  The steaming coffee in my hand is like warm medicine.  The baby monitor remains silent.  I pray he keeps sleeping at least another twenty minutes.

The thought about restoration returns, and I can’t ignore it this time.  I let it bounce around the walls of my mind for a few minutes, trying it on for size.  Is it really like God to use cold, hard seasons to restore us?  Isn’t winter more like trial – something to get through, not something to restore?

I’m reminded of the pace of our summers.  Days are filled from dawn to dusk with trips to the creek, hikes through the hemlocks behind the house, afternoons splashing in Lake Arthur, visits with friends, neighbor kids on summer break, and evenings spent catching fireflies and walking along soybean fields in search of deer.  There’s little time to stop, sit, and be.  The laundry piles high, partly because I’m never inside to do it, and partly because each family member muddies three outfits per day.  We eat a lot of pizza and hotdogs.  Lunches are always packed in crinkly shopping bags, intermittently eaten and smeared in the backseat of cars and in the shade of huge strollers, big enough to hold two small adults.

Summer is fast.  We love it all.  But we’re tired, and there’s seldom time to think.

Winter isn’t like that.  We’re inside.  We make crafts and write letters to friends far away.  Toys are strewn across the floor while I pound on a keyboard and redirect the toddler who insists on sitting with me.  There’s time to think about what I learned in the summer months, read long Bible stories, and light candles every night.

The darkness assures we’re not building fires in the woods or racing across the yard in orange sleds past five o’clock.  There’s time for quiet reflection, the writing of new Bible studies, blog posts, and journal entries.  We watch MASH reruns for hours and look forward to Andy Griffith at eight o’clock.

And so, as the starling flutters off to lands unseen, a spark of gratitude rises in my heart.  I’ve silenced my soul enough to be aware of what God’s doing.  He’s moving, even in the winter of my heart.  He’s rebuilding, restoring, and transforming.  I ought to make more time for silence.  And since it’s winter, I think I will.

Stacey

(Visit Stacey's website at staceypardoe.com)


Sunday
Feb052017

It's good to be back!

I don't know where life finds you today, but I do know that no matter where it is, you are not alone.

You may find yourself in circumstances that you never thought you would be in.  Or maybe you think that God has let you down.  Then again, maybe you are having a mountain top kind of day - one filled with joy and abundance!

Mountains and valleys.  The things life are made of.

No matter the place, know that you are not alone.  Your God is there - right with you.  He is fighting your battles. He is dancing over you with singing.  Loving you from before creation began.  And His mercies are new every morning!

Believe it because it's true!

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave
you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8

This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 7:15

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23

 

So as our blog 'begins anew' tomorrow, we want to invite you on this journey with us. You will see some familiar faces, and some new ones. Our schedule will be flexible. We will share our hearts with you as you share yours back with us, all the while looking to Him for what he may have for each of us.  

It may surprise you to know, that even in the year or so we took off - God still was bringing people here!  We discovered that people from all over the globe, including creative access countries, were visiting and reading our blogs!  While we were on sabbatical - God never took a rest, never stepped away, and the gospel was spreading, even from here!  

Invite your friends to join you on the next leg of our journey.  Like us on FB, encourage others to do the same, and share our posts if you are willing.

But most of all, we pray that you laugh, cry, and grow along with us.  On the mountain tops and in the valleys.  So that, in all things, God would be glorified through this place, and in each of us.  Even to the ends of the earth. 

Thanks for joining us!

Linda


 

 



 

Saturday
Dec242016

An early Christmas gift!

We were going to make an announcement in January, but we couldn't wait.  Our blog is going to resume!!  Please enjoy this early gift from us to you - a blog from our sweet Myra Balok about a very special Christmas Eve.  May you have the Merriest Christmas, as you celebrate the amazing birth of our King and our Savior, the most perfect gift of all.

Much love to each of you and be sure to look for more details on our blog in January.

 

Mugzy and the Laugh That Saved Christmas 

I don’t remember much about my Dad’s hunting days, but I do remember Mugzy.  Mugzy was big, adorable, clumsy, loud and my Dad’s hunting dog.  In my memory he looked like a cross between a beagle and a Bassett hound—close to the ground and to five kids’ hearts. 

I don’t know how well he did out in the fields, but I do remember how he loved to “hunt” our big, gray cat Tom.  We were nearly ready to head out for Christmas Eve service.  My dad had sent my two brothers out to feed Mugzy for the night while my Mom, my sisters and I lovingly added the finishing touches to the tree.  The excitement was palpable. 

I am not sure of the logic here, but at that time, my Dad used a large galvanized tub instead of a Christmas tree stand for the tree.  He placed large rocks and coal (he ran out of rocks?) in the tub to keep the tree up.  Straight.  You’ll see why I remember this so vividly in a moment. 

For whatever reason (they were boys?), Mugzy got off his chain, spotted the open back door (they were boys) and a big, gray cat sniffing the cold air.  That was all Mugzy needed.  He took off for Tom who responded in typical cat behavior and headed for the nearest tree to climb. 

I bet you know where I am going with this, right? 

Tom went up the tree with Mugzy close behind. 

Picture the scene:  My Dad is yelling at my brothers.  My mom is yelling at the cat. The girls are just yelling!  The tree came down tipping the tub on the way.  Seven people scrambled around trying to snag either a dog, a cat, or a flying ornament. 

Mugzy was finally caught and returned to his “house”; my dad picked up the tangled mess of a tree and roughly stuck it back into the righted tub; my mother soaked up black water from the floor with anything she could grab; and the rest of us cowered against the nearest wall fearing the worse:  there ain’t no way Santa is coming here tonight!  We didn’t see the cat for days. 

Suddenly, my Dad announced, “Get into the car.  Now.”  We all obeyed.  We were smart kids.  It was a very quiet ride to the church. 

We filed in:  my two brothers first, my two sisters, me, my mom, and, finally, my Dad.  We almost filled a pew!  The service began. 

I don’t remember at what point this blessed moment came, but my Mom gave me a gentle left elbow nudge and a nod to her right:  it was a Christmas miracle.  My Dad was laughing.  Really laughing, just quietly.  Well, the elbow nudge and nod went right down the line until six grateful heads were turned to the right.  There was such a relieved collective sigh that night that we almost blew the altar candles out!  We shared smiles and Christmas greetings as we left the church. 

At home, we kids dug in and re-trimmed the tree (sort of) while my Mom brought out the hot chocolate and her famous “refrigerator” cookies.  Jesus came that night, and Santa did, too.  Neither of them ever missed the Griffith household.  I don’t know what became of our beloved Mugzy although I do remember that my Dad allowed him to live that night.   

Joy comes in many forms and often when we least expect it.  My prayer for you is that whatever tangled mess you might be experiencing this Christmas, allow God to replace it with the joy that is Jesus. 

Laugh. 

Be Merry. 

Christmas. 

God is good.   

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Myra