Why Trump Supporters Love Him

“Braving the rain and the cold, thousands gathered at Lancaster Airport Monday afternoon for President Donald J. Trump’s re-election rally.” – Lancaster Guardian

I conducted a survey on Facebook.  I asked my friends who supported Donald Trump to tell me why.  I received 21 replies which contained 35 reasons.  I have simplified the answers and ranked them by popularity.

  1. Pro-Life
  2. Pro-Constitution, Pro-Freedom, Pro-Religious Liberties
  3. Pro-America
  4. Pro-Israel
  5. Pro-Church, Godly Values
  6. Producing the best economy
  7. Draining the Swamp
  8. Understands business, not a politician
  9. Brought Manufacturing back to US
  10. Building infrastructure
  11. Better and less expensive Healthcare
  12. Improving Private Market
  13. Border Security and Immigration policy
  14. Anti-Human Trafficking
  15. Getting rid of bad policies
  16. Negotiating better Trade Deals
  17. Lower taxes
  18. School choice
  19. Better school curriculum
  20. Personality
  21. Called by God
  22. Appointing good Justices to Supreme Court
  23. Cares about people
  24. Unifying and healing the nation
  25. Not a Democrat
  26. Funding of Historically Black Colleges in perpetuity
  27. Middle East peace treaty (Abraham Accord)
  28. Women’s empowerment through programs for education, jobs/equal pay, maternity leave, etc
  29. Prison reform policies
  30. Strengthening of military and establishing the Space Force
  31. Opening the White House to intercessory prayer and worship
  32. Authentic love of his children – their poise, intelligence and love for him
  33. Surrounding himself with strong, intelligent (and beautiful) women starting with Melania
  34. His ideology has never changed – watch interviews with Larry King, Oprah, Phil Donahue from ’80s and ’90s
  35. Focus on Natural Resources

It is easy to see why Trump has been meeting enthusiastic crowds of thousands of people everywhere he goes. If this list seems too good to be true, our you just love to research and discover facts for yourself, I have two wonderfully thorough and documented articles for you.

30 Good Things President Trump Has Done for America

The TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ACCOMPLISHMENTS
on Life, Family, and Religious Freedom
An Overview of events occurring 2017-
2020

Fellow Americans, Even If You Don’t Vote for Donald Trump, Can You Forgive Him?

Before the last election, I noticed a strange phenomenon that I hadn’t observed before.  I had been used to people praising their favored candidate and criticizing the opposing candidate.  Politics could be hard to debate without arguments.   However, when Donald Trump arrived on the scene, I was surprised by how some people reacted to any mention of his name or any post about him on social media with unfettered hatred. 

There was so much anger expressed that logical conversations seemed impossible.  I wondered why.

                It seemed as those people who hated Trump had been personally offended by him.  It was as if they had invited Donald Trump to dinner in their home and he had insulted their cooking and spit in their faces.  It was as if they had met Donald in the school yard and he had pinned them to the asphalt and humiliated them in front of the other kids. 

                “How can they be so offended at a man they have never met?” I asked myself over and over for the past four years.  The answer began to come as I caught a news-show or talk-show in a doctor’s waiting room, or as I watched a clip of late night television or a video on the internet. 

The media was offended at Donald Trump. 

They would express their disgust and distain for him in a way that evoked a deep emotional response in the audience. The American people were being constantly and consistently conditioned to be offended at the man.  It didn’t matter if the media would tell lies, because if they said it often enough it seemed like the truth.  It didn’t matter if they exaggerated certain facts, left out other facts, and just plain made things up.  It didn’t matter if they took a sound bite out of an entire speech and put a different spin on it. (Click here for just one example of this practice called “journalistic malfeasance.”) 

The media created a thousand different hooks to catch a moral and compassionate person. If a person took the bait, it would keep them tied to the negative words or images that were displayed.  They were caught in offense; hook, line, and sinker. 

                In 2018, the Media Research Center reported that 92% of all mainstream media coverage of Trump was negative.  And it hasn’t let up.  It has gotten worse and worse. 

I had realized many years ago, long before Trump ran for president, not to waste my time on mainstream media, the news or TV shows, Hollywood and most of what came out of Hollywood. 

Why?  Because it filled my head with negative thoughts, glorified violent and immoral images, and presented lies as facts.  Most people in the media did not live lives that I wanted to emulate, and as the saying goes, “You become what you behold.”  I decided that there were much better things to behold such as Jesus, the Bible, good literature, and men and women who had characters that I could trust. I never got hooked by the offense that the media and the left had been generating. I simply didn’t give them the time of day.

Perhaps you feel justified in your dislike for Donald Trump.  That is fine.  You don’t have to like him.  You don’t have to vote for him.  But if you hold on to offense, it hurts you, not Trump.  Offense is just unforgiveness.  We all have the opportunity to get offended many times each day.  It can happen in an instant.

My little daughter will come to me with tears in her eyes, telling a pitiful story of the injustices inflicted upon her by an older sibling. I am immediately offended at my older child, thinking, “How could they do something like that?” Once I hear the older child’s side of the story, usually my offense dissipates as I realize that both children were at fault. I am trying to skip the entire offense process to simply listen and ask God for discernment.

Some things don’t bother us and other offenses we hold on to for hours, days, months, even years.  But WE get to decide how long we want to be in bondage to unforgiveness.  Perhaps the person who offended us really did or said something bad.  Or perhaps we just couldn’t see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Perhaps Donald Trump has done or said things that were bad.  Or perhaps it is a matter of your perspective.  Either way, you don’t have to stay in bondage to that. 

You can forgive him. 

You NEED to forgive him if you want to live a happy and healthy life.

Many health care professionals, neuroscientists, and doctors agree that 95% of disease has a mental/emotional component.  One of the worst choices for your mental and physical health is unforgiveness.  It is like a cancer, eating away at your insides. 

You NEED to forgive him if you want to be forgiven of your own wrong doings. 

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you..” 

Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Matt 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

You NEED to forgive him so that you won’t be blinded by deception. 

What we are witnessing in this country is a large group of people who can no longer discern right from wrong, truth from lies. When I asked God why many in the church no longer defend the Bible or Life or the freedoms of the Constitution, I felt God answered,

“They listened to voices that were not mine.  Those voices stirred up offense.  Some people have been harboring and feeding that offense for four years, and now they are blind.”

About week later Wanda Alger posted a new article and she said this,

“Offenses blind us to the truth and give a distorted view of reality. There are those within the body of Christ who are convinced they are pursuing a righteous cause when, in fact, their cause is rooted in offense, both personal and corporate. Unfortunately, bitter roots only open the door to deception and defilement (see Hebrews 12:15). We must keep our own hearts clear of offense and pray for those who revile us.”

                I asked my friends who didn’t support Trump to tell me why.  I expected them to explain how his policies have been bad for America or point out specific parts of his platform that they didn’t agree with.  Instead I received descriptions of how the man had offended them with his pride, criticism of others, lack of intelligence, promotion of violence and division, and mean words.  They called him things like narcissist, liar, and cheater. They didn’t consider him fit to lead our country.  That is fine.  That is their opinion.  But their offensive is hurting them, and I pray they can let it go.

         Are you offended at Donald Trump?

                Did the title of this article irk you?

                Does the sight of Donald Trump cause anger or disgust to well up within you?

                Do you call Donald Trump demeaning names?

                Do you find yourself wishing harm on him or rejoicing when something bad happens to him or his family?

                Do you get angry when discussing him?

                Do you find the need to tell Trump supporters how awful their chosen candidate is?

                It might be possible that you need to forgive him.

                You don’t need to like him.

                You don’t need to vote for him.

                Just forgive him.

                You could honor his position as President and pray for him!  You might just get a different perspective! 

My First Visit to Pittsburgh Was Spent at a “Let US Worship” Event – written by Areli

I have lived in Pennsylvania most of my life and never had the opportunity to go to the major cities. When I would say I had never been to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, people would give me funny looks. “How could you live in Pennsylvania and not have been to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?” they would say.

                Just recently I was able to travel to one of these cities: Pittsburgh. I went because I heard that Sean Feucht was coming and doing one of his “Let Us Worship” events.

                “Let Us Worship” started on the Golden Gate Bridge in California when it was announced by the governor that the churches in the state could not sing in church. Sean felt he had to do something.

Over 300 people came to worship and declare life over the state of California.

                Over the next several months Sean and his team have brought worship to many cities all over the United States. Some of these cities were Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, and Sacramento.  In almost every place they were met with resistance, but nothing could stop the miracles, salvations, or baptisms. I was so encouraged every time I would read or watch an update.

                These were the thoughts going through my head as I drove to Pittsburg. I was overcome with thankfulness as I passes by the endless Pennsylvania hills bursting with color.

I was going to a new place and worshiping Jesus at the same time!

                After I met my friend (I had not seen her in a long time so it was a joyous reunion), she joined me and we went together to the park that the event was to be located. It was hard to find at first because the park was so big. We passed playgrounds, grass fields, and tree groves before we found the spot in front of Carnegie Mellon University.

                We could hear the musicians warming up as we walked towards the stage. People were already gathered and waiting in anticipation.

                As we worshiped, I could feel the presence of God and the joy that He brings. There was so much freedom as everyone danced and sang at the top of their lungs. The problems of everyday life no longer seemed important.

                Some people were experiencing this freedom for the first time and ran to the front to receive Jesus as the Lord of their life. You could see the joy on their faces. This joy was contagious as everyone who watched celebrated with them.

                Reconciliation was received as people from every race prayed together. People got baptized, dying to themselves and coming out of the water as new creatures.

                The whole night I was in awe of all that God was doing. I felt so encouraged to see that God is doing things in this nation, no matter how bad things seem. That is why I wanted to write about my night in Pittsburg. To tell others that God has not stopped working.

Take heart and don’t let the darkness put out your light.

                Sean will be doing a worship event in Washington D.C on October 25th. You are invited to be there! If you can’t be there in person then you can pray. Pray that God would continue to open the eyes of the people of the United States and that we as a nation would come to Him in repentance.

My Experiences with the Realities of Abortion

As a young teen I was asked if I supported legalized abortion, and I said no.  Then I was asked about cases when the mother had been raped.  My answer was, “Well, in that case it wasn’t her fault, so she should be allowed to get an abortion if she wants to.”  I didn’t understand what abortion really was, what it entailed, or what it meant for the baby or for the mother. 

                At age 14, I had an incredible salvation experience where Jesus came into my heart, the scales fell off my eyes, and the entire world looked different to me. I started going to a non-denominational church, reading the Bible with awe and wonder, and learning to hear God’s voice. 

                After high school I spent a year with Youth With A Mission doing their Discipleship Training School and their School of Evangelism.  I learned so much about God, the Bible, marriage, families, education, homeschooling, and abortion.  We had a teacher, Bev Kline, who ran a ministry for pregnant women in crisis.  They offered support, counseling, and a home to live in.  This incredible woman told our class her story. She had had two abortions and spent many years under incredible pain and guilt.  She found healing through Jesus and now spent her life extending that healing to others.  She tried to talk to women considering abortion, to spare them the heartache she went through.  Bev helped many women keep their babies and see them thrive in their new lives as single mothers. She helped others lovingly give their babies up for adoption.

She had found a purpose and passion in life and was filled with peace and joy.  But she never forgot the birthdays of the two children she had aborted and looked forward to meeting them in heaven someday. Bev is still loving women by running Living Alternatives.

                During that time I saw pictures of the small humans that had burns all over their tiny bodies because of saline injection abortions.  I saw pictures of tiny legs ripped from a tiny torsos by forceps during an abortion. Abortion was becoming real to me. Here are some similar images.

Here is a link with many images of babies post abortion and explanations of the different types of abortions. Please be aware these images are very disturbing.

The reality of abortion is extreme cruelty to the most vulnerable humans among us, not the “evacuation of fetal tissue.”

                We also had another teacher who started a pro-life group.  He explained how abortion was the same to God as the sacrificing of children to idols in the Bible. Some ancient cultures had this practice.  Israel had a period of leaving the LORD and worshiping the idol Molech, and/or Baal who required that children be burned in fire to appease his wrath.

“They have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal— something I never commanded or mentioned, nor did it even enter My mind. So behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.…”

Jer 19:4-6

In America today we are too educated and sophisticated for idols made of metal or stone. Now our idols are called Selfishness, Convenience, Greed, and Fear and THOUSANDS of babies a day are being sacrificed to these idols.

This teacher also explained to us the procedure called “Partial Birth Abortion” which was legal in some states.  

“Partial-Birth Abortion (Brain Suction) – 4 to 9 months of pregnancy

Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby’s leg with forceps. The baby’s leg is pulled out into the birth canal. The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole. The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child’s brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed.”

Wisconsinrighttolife.org

There was no difference between this baby and the baby whose mother wanted to keep him – no different in form or biological structure, no different in value to God.  The only difference was location. The baby who was still partially in the womb could be legally murdered. These babies feel the pain of abortion at least by 20 weeks but probably much sooner.  Here is the scientific proof. https://illinoisrighttolife.org/yes-an-unborn-baby-can-feel-pain-in-an-abortion-heres-the-scientific-proof/

In the girls dorm at YWAM there were no TVs, computers, or phones. So I picked up a huge book about the origins of Planned Parenthood and read the entire thing (I think it was 400 pages long!) I learned that the founder, Margaret Sanger, despised both blacks and Christians.  She lived a very promiscuous lifestyle.  She felt that abortion was the answer to society’s woes: to set women free from traditional morals and of course those burdensome babies.  She also said that abortion would be very useful in controlling the populations of the pesky lower forms of humans, mainly the Negros.  As she began to market her idea, she used the slogan, “Every child a wanted child” and promised that a utopian society would surely follow. 

As we can all see now, Margaret Sanger was a very false prophet.

Planned Parenthood started entering the schools and providing “sex education” which was supposed to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.  Teenage pregnancies began to skyrocket, and it turned out the “sex ed” was actually creating more clients for her abortion clinics.

I knew a woman who had an abortion when she was young. It left emotional and physical scars so that later when she got married, she could not get pregnant. After much struggle and help from health care professionals, she was able to bring one miracle son into the world. She developed an abstinence based sex-ed course. She was invited into many schools.

I also learned from that book that 80% of women who had an abortion reported negative side effects, many long term.

It was becoming clear to me that abortion was devastating to the mother as well.

I have since learned that women who lose their baby before 20 weeks, whether through miscarriage or abortion, have a much higher risk of breast cancer and that risk goes up with each baby that is lost.  On the flip side, for every month a women nurses a baby, her risk for breast cancer goes down.  I have virtually no breast cancer risk after nursing my 10 babies.  What does this tell me?  God created our bodies to work a certain way and when we violate His design, there are negative consequences.

There are so many documented complications following abortion from increases in many kinds of cancer, poor general health, problems with future pregnancies, and on and on. The most concerning is the death rate in the year after abortion.

“According to the best record based study of deaths following pregnancy and abortion, a 1997 government funded study in Finland, women who abort are approximately four times more likely to die in the following year than women who carry their pregnancies to term. In addition, women who carry to term are only half as likely to die as women who were not pregnant”

afterabortion.org

What do you know?  Pregnancy is actually good for women because God’s creation is good and He loves women.  Pregnancy taken to the birth of a full term baby can actually protect a woman from DYING!

A year after YWAM, Chris and I got married and started having babies. We were learning first hand how our babies were being fearfully and wonderfully made by God who was knitting them together in my womb and bringing them through astonishing developments week by week. This was not a clump of cell. This was a miracle!

                In quick succession I had a girl and two baby boys.  My fourth pregnancy produced a beautiful baby girl, Ashlyn, who was diagnoses with a rare chromosomal disorder.  Soon we realized that she was developmentally delayed and had unexpected abnormalities in her body.  Yet she is such a vital part of our family.  Most children like her never make it out of the womb alive.  80% of Down syndrome Babies are aborted in America. In some countries it is close to 100%.

I met a friend a few years later who took a special interest in Ashlyn. She even organized a fundraiser to help get Ashlyn the special therapy she needed.  One day she told me her story.  She was close to her due date with baby number 3 when the doctors realized that her child had some sort of problem, likely chromosomal in nature.  They urged her to abort.  Abortions in the third trimester were not legal in our state, so she and her husband traveled to another state.  The abortion was preformed and she got a picture of her dead daughter.  She and her husband had since divorced.  Her older daughter was practicing self -harm.

I listened to my sweet friend and I heard a torture that I have never experienced in all the hardship of caring for a child who is physically and mentally handicapped.  I wouldn’t wish that type of pain on anyone.

In the last year I have watched the movie, “Unplanned”, story of Abby Johnson who went from Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the year to a Pro-Life advocate. Please read her book or watch her movie. It explains so much about what it is like inside the abortion industry and what it is like to have an abortion.  The turning point for Abby was when she was called in to assist with an abortion for the first time.  It was her job to hold the ultrasound probe so the doctor could see the baby in order to suction it out.

  When the suction tube came near the small baby, Abby saw it recoil and move out of the way.  It tried to find a safe place but the little body could not escape.

                “Beam me up Scotty,” said the doctor as the baby was ripped from the womb and ended up in a bloody heap in the machine.

                Just a few weeks ago I was able to attend a Kick Off Rally for our local chapter of 40 Days of Life, the Pro-Life organization that helped Abby get out of the abortion industry.  I met many precious Catholics who have been standing and praying in front of our city’s Planned Parenthood since 2006. They have pictures and stories of the babies and mothers they have saved from abortion.  I was able to tour Little Bee, a mobile ultrasound unit by Undefeated Courage.  They park in front of Planned Parenthoods in the area and offer free ultrasounds for pregnant women.  Planned Parenthood always does an ultrasound for any client wanting an abortion, but only to determine price.  The client is never allowed to see her baby moving on the screen, never allowed to notice the beating heart. 

Four out of five women who receive an ultrasound on a mobile unit decide to keep her baby.  She can plainly see that what is in her womb is a human child, HER human child.

                I also learned about Rachel’s Vineyard, a local ministry that helps women heal from abortion.  Their pamphlet reads, “One in Four Women will become a victim of abortion by the age of 45.” 

Interesting, I had never thought of it that way.  But now I understand why the woman is a victim too. She is being lied to by her culture, celebrities, media, lawmakers, educators, and her health care providers.  Most of all she is being lied to by Planned Parenthood counselors who are trained to sell a product. They only product they have to sell is abortion.  The pain, grief, guilt, and negative side effects are downplayed or never mentioned.  Her baby is referred to as “the pregnancy”, “contents of the uterus”, or “fetal tissue.” She is never told that her baby is a real human baby, a life worth living, and a life worth saving. 

She is never told that when God gives a woman a baby, it is His way of showing His favor and giving her His highest blessing. She is never told that babies are always a blessing and never a curse, that the child in her womb may become the best thing in her life.

                I love to talk about pregnancy, labor, birth, and everything to do with babies and motherhood.  It is my great passion in life!  Women sense this and seem to open up to me.  I have heard so many stories over the years!  Many times I have heard a woman say,

“I wish I would have had more children.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t have more children.” 

“I wanted more children.”

                I have never once heard a woman say,

“I have too many children.” 

“I never should have keep this child of mine.”

Nepal: The Hardest Best Thing I Have Ever Done! by Areli

                 When I first heard I was going to Nepal for my DTS outreach, I was so excited. Some of my excitement waned as we started doing research on the nation. We found that Nepal is mostly Hindu with only a small Christian population. Laws are in place that do not allow for public preaching of the gospel. This made me think that we would not be very welcome in Nepal, and I did not expect to meet many Christians.

                As we continued to meet and prepare as a team, God started to speak to my heart. I knew we were supposed to go.  I decided to trust that God would keep us safe and provide ministry opportunities.

                After over 30 hours of travel, we arrived in Kathmandu. Everything was so different! The streets were full of vehicles, people and animals. Rising over the noise of traffic was the sound of the Nepali language. The smell of car exhaust and street food filled our noses. There was so much to look at.

                Our first week was spent in Kathmandu. We went to prayer meetings, performed our skit, shared testimonies, did prayer walks, and helped tear down a brick wall. The entire week was full of new experiences and getting stretched in different areas. One of the ways that happened for me was when I gave my testimony in front of Seminary students. I went up to explain our skit and what it meant to me.

I was super nervous and wondered what I could give that the students did not already have. I simply prayed for God to speak through me, and He did!

                Our second week was to be spent in a smaller town many hours from Katmandu. We got all of our stuff onto the roof of a van and started our long journey. Only 1 hour into the trip, the van started to make disheartening sounds. I looked up at the front and saw the driver pounding on the dashboard. This could not be good. Finally the van came to a complete stop and would not be coaxed any further. The driver finally told us that we would have to wait for a new van, which would take a few hours. This was the perfect opportunity for us to get discouraged, and I was tempted.

However, God used this situation to show us how He can turn situations around. We got to take a mini hiking trip and saw a beautiful view of Nepal. We happened to stop on the mountain top and could see for miles. The view was the mixture of jungle and flowing rice fields. Not only that but when the van finally did arrive, it was larger and newer then the original!

The next day we were served breakfast by our host family. They watched us eat with expectant faces. I had never experienced this before, and I almost felt uncomfortable. However, I forgot this feeling as I ate the delicious food that had been carefully made for us.

The place where we slept was a long building made of bricks. Outside was a place to wash dishes, a shower (made of sticks and blankets), and two squatty pottys. None of us were used to this way of living, and it was not easy. I had never felt this dirty in my entire life.

Every person that I encountered in Nepal had so little (compared to the normal American family), but they always gave generously and with a smile on their face. This inspired me to live with more gratitude.

While we stayed in the smaller town, we visited many local believers. Every house would be full of people, excited to meet the team from America. The greeted us warmly and served us drinks. Selected members from my team would give a message, testimony, or Bible story. After sharing we would pray with those who expressed a need.

I loved every part of home visits.  I especially enjoyed getting to hold and love on the children. Through every little moment, God showed me that He loves the Nepali people more than I could ever know.

In Chitwan we got to stay 3 days at an orphanage. This orphanage is home to around 200 children ages two to tenth grade. When we came into view of the gates of the property, we could see the faces of the children gathered to welcome us. As soon as the van came to a stop, we were surrounded. They greeted us with the smiles and hugs. They then took our hands and led us to where we were to stay. A sign that said “Welcome Texas YWAM” was hung over the door.

At 7 o’clock we went to their daily worship time with the children. I loved watching as every single child worshiped Jesus with their whole hearts. One of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Before heading to bed, my team and I got to give all two hundred children a goodnight hug.

The next day started at 5am with worship with the founders. The founders then shared with us about how they started the orphanage. It was not an easy road and they encountered many trials. Many things came to destroy what they were doing and to hurt the children.  Despite all of that, God had protected and blessed them. As they spoke I was amazed at their bravery and endurance.

The rest of the day was spent doing a program we had prepared for the children. We started with everyone together so we could perform some of the clown skits we had prepared.  There was lots of giggling and clapping.

We split the children into two groups: youth and elementary. I was put with the youth. We shared a testimony, a Bible story, and played a game. What impressed me was the sportsmanship and joy they had towards each other.

After lunch we had the youth do intercession with us. Intercession is when you ask God for what to pray for and wait for Him to speak. He can speak in words, pictures, or even a Bible verse. I explained this to my group, and we then waited for a few minutes.  When I asked my group if anyone got anything, I received blank stares. I was a bit discouraged, but I decided to do something else. I asked if they would like to pray for their country. They seemed to perk up at this suggestion. I started praying and then was joined by a few other voices. We still had some time, so I asked if they had any questions for me. They asked me about my family and life back in America. They seemed very surprised and delighted by my answers.

After my group was dismissed one of the staff at the orphanage (he had helped me with translation) told me a bit about Nepali culture. He said that it is unusual in Nepal to share things in a group setting. That was why the children did not want to share during intercession.

This made me realize that I had no reason to be discouraged. Their culture is just different than mine.

That night we had one more worship night with the children. The children had prepared dances for us. We hugged the children extra-long at bedtime because, we knew we were leaving the next morning.

When morning did come, all the children surrounded us as we made our way to the van. As we passed each child, they gave us a hug and a homemade card. The children followed the van. As we left the property, the children ran along the top of the wall. We all cried as we watched the orphanage fade into the distance. The children had loved us like family, and we did not feel we deserved any of it.

It was very hard to leave. As we rode to our next destination, we read every letter we received. I loved reading the sweet messages writing in broken English. I would never forget the wonderful kids that welcomed us with open arms.

Our leaders told us that the next two days would be for resting and team building. We would be doing that by trekking the Himalayan Mountains.

 Slowly we started to ascend the mountain in the rain. We encountered steep stone stairs that had become slick. By this point, my shoes were soaked through and I could hear them squish with every step. A little further up I heard someone cry out in alarm. One of my teammates had encountered a leech. This was even more terrifying then the possibility of falling down stone stairs. I made sure to check myself every couple of minutes for those little creatures.

After going about one third of the way, we stopped to rest. I was very thankful because I felt like my legs were going to turn into mush. I looked up and noticed my teammates were looking behind us. I followed their gaze and was pleasantly surprised. I could not believe how far we had come. You could see the little village we had started, and miles beyond. The rain made it that much more magical. We all forgot our wet shoes and tired bodies, if only for just a moment.

Finally we had to continue on our journey upward. The stairs continued and got steeper. It felt like was hours before we reached the top. Finally we saw where we would be spending the night. It was a cute collection of little cabins and a central restaurant. We changed out of our wet clothes and joined everyone in the restaurant for dinner. The building was very simple and had a traditional woodstove in the middle to keep it warm.

 I got up very early the next morning to see the sunrise. I put on my sweatshirt and went outside to see if anyone else had decided to brave the cold. As I walked toward the grassy clearing, I was surprised to see most of my team already waiting. It was still pretty dark so we all huddled together and waited for the sun. It slowly started to peak over the tips of the mountains. 

I had seen some very beautiful views, but this topped them all.

The sky turned from grey to yellow to orange. The colors illuminated the clouds clustered around the Annapurna Range. It was beautiful, and the mountains seemed so far away. Once the sun was mostly up I heard someone exclaim in excitement. I turned, and then I saw it! The Mardi Himal Mountain clear as day. I could see every detail of the snowy peak. This huge mountain had been behind our cabins the entire time. It had been too dark and rainy for us to see it when we arrived.

After we descended the mountain, we headed to our next destination in Pokhara, a guesthouse called Beth-Eden. It was a cute little compound full of charming little gardens. There was even a tree house! We spent the rest of the day resting.

The next day we headed out to help build a local church. We learned our first task would be to move a pile dirt to a new location. We were given old rice sacks to carry the dirt and got right to business. As the hours wore on, the new pile of dirt got bigger and the ceiling beams were almost fully covered in paint. The sun was beating down and sweat was starting to drip into my eyes.

The next day we came to finish what we had started. What we found out was that most of what they had for us to do, we had finished the day before. We decided to stay and help with whatever else we could. We finished painting the windows, clearing the floor, and putting up the ceiling beams.

We were able to come back the next day and take part in their service. I was able to share the story of the women who Jesus healed from bleeding. I then explained that the women was healed because of her trust in Jesus and His love for her. Then Emma (one of my teammates) came up and gave her message on trusting God. Everything seemed to come together so perfectly, and it seemed to be what that church needed. They were very encouraged.

                The next week we ran an English camp, children in the morning and youth in the afternoon. I enjoyed preforming as a clown and hearing the giggles and squeals fill the room!

                 The third night all of us got invited to stay at different homes. Some of the youth had invited us and we gladly accepted. Kena (One of my teammates) and I stayed with a family that had all of their children in our camp (all the daughters were on the red team with Kena and me).

                The house we stayed at was a simple three room house made of brick and mud. The main room housed the stove and eating area. We were greeted warmly by the parents and given the seats of honor. As we sat watching the mother cook, some other relatives came to see who the new visitors were. A few of them asked for prayer. After we finished our prayers, we were served our dinner. We were given plates with a generous helping of rice, chicken, soup, and cucumbers. The food was delicious and I knew that lots of care was put into the preparation. I ate until I could not eat anymore. I asked if I could help with cleaning. I was kindly refused and shown into one of the bedrooms. There Kena and I watched TV with the family until it was time for bed. The bed that Kena and I shared was a raised board covered with a thin cushion. All the children slept on one bed so that we could have somewhere to sleep.

This family did not have anything fancy, but they were more than willing to give up their bed so that we would be comfortable.  

Our last two evenings of the camp we went with some of the youth to pray over their houses. They had requested that we come and bless them and their families. This made me so happy because many of the youth were the only Christians in their families.

We were warmly welcomed into each home. Many of the family members came up to us requesting personal prayer. We prayed for peace, strength, and even healing.

One of my team members prayed over a man’s eyes and they were healed!

Overall doing the English camp was an eye opening experience. It was not easy, and we were not experts at teaching children. None of that mattered because all we had to do was to simply be, and let God work through us. That was one of the many things that God taught me while in Nepal. I don’t have to make things happen or know everything. When I completely trust and give up control, that is when people are impacted.

 Nepal seemed dark from a distance, but got brighter the closer I looked. I believe that Nepal will turn into a light for the Nations!

A note from Anne: This experience has been transformational for Areli, stoking the fire of God’s love for the entire world in her heart. She is asking God to provide the funds for her to be able to return to Youth With a Mission in January to continue her training. Would you like to be part of this miracle for Areli? You can contribute at Give Send Go. Thank you!

A Return Trip to my Alma Mater, YWAM Tyler

When my firstborn daughter, Areli, invited me to her graduation, my first thought was, “There is no way I am going to be able to leave my family and fly all the way to Texas!”

Talking with Areli on the phone during her Discipleship Training School had reminded me of the raw faith I had when I did my DTS, 25 years ago. Areli had the faith that God could get me to Texas, why shouldn’t I?

I had not taken such a trip without my husband since I had gotten married.  Yet Chris, really wanted me to go.  He felt that to visit my Alma Mater would be such a special time for me. Boy, was he right!  God orchestrated a delightful and refreshing getaway!

My one year old daughter Aria and I traveled for about 8 hours before we arrived in Tyler, but the trip had gone better than I had hoped. One of the YWAM staff picked us up at the airport, and she was beyond friendly, carrying all the bags and taking us to the grocery store.  She dropped us off at the base hotel, and we found the loveliest accommodations waiting for us.  I had been given a small apartment with a living room/kitchenette and a king-sized bedroom.  It was just perfect for Aria and I!

Soon came a rap on my door.  I opened it and there stood Areli, my beautiful daughter that I hadn’t seen in person for 5 months!  Such joy!

Later Areli took me to supper in the new Paris Fellowship Center.  Such a lovely facility.  Such friendly people everywhere I turned.  During my 4 days at YWAM Tyler, I got to meet the students and leaders of Areli’s DTS in addition to students of many other schools.

Each day we took a long walk around the base.  It looked so much the same as it did 25 years ago.  Wide open spaces, beautiful and peaceful. We enjoyed the warm sunshine and the mild weather. 

We visited the charming chapel and the playground by the lake.  We always stopped by the lake to eat a snack.  One day we visited the new SST Village. 

Another day we visited Ag Tech.  I loved it!  What a brilliant way to raise vegetables and eggs for the base.  New and better farming practices and prototypes were being developed, and then taken out to the mission field. What a practical way to bring God’s love to needy places.

We went to the Base Worship on Friday morning. It was a simple affair with voices and a guitar.  The spirit was sweet and God’s presence was transformational.  God gave me a breakthrough in my thinking, perhaps the biggest breakthrough of my life.  I will write more about that in a later article, but it felt almost as if I had been born-again…again!

That evening Aria and I were welcomed into the girls’ dorm to participate in a pre-Love Feast nail-painting party.  It was so fun to be among such sweet ladies.  I got to see the bunk that had been mine in DTS. 

I remembered the good times I had spent in that room with the five other girls, three of whom became my best friends. 

Sue, Charlene, and Maddy above. Charlene, Maddy, and I below.

A year after DTS I traveled to be in Maddy’s wedding, and a year after that she was in mine.  I am still good friends with her and one other roommate, Sue. What a blessing they have been to me over the years.

Saturday was the big day!  There was a Friends and Family Reception where the leaders talked about YWAM, DTS, and SOE.  Leland Paris spoke with his kind and powerful voice, so much the same as he had spoken to my school 25 years ago. 

“We have been serving Jesus together, what could be better than that!” Fran Paris said about their 50+ years of marriage.

I was impressed with the fire and maturity of the leaders.  Areli’s DTS had been very much like my own: same themes; many of the same speakers; same structure with work duties, one on one discipleship, small groups, and intercession groups.  Yet it seemed like the details had been honed to perfection, and the training held the depth of wisdom gained through experience. I was so very pleased that Areli had chosen to come!  I was thrilled that she planned to come back for the SOE!

Next we all chose seats at the eloquently decorated tables.  We were served a lovely dinner by the new students.  Areli told me that the base chef had been working on the meal for days, and it was exquisite!

After the Love Feast, there was worship, and Aria began to do the cutest baby, butt-wiggle dance.  She looked at the young man standing beside her and decided to raise her hands like he did.

We returned to our seats and listened to stories from the Family DTS.  It was the first DTS of its kind at this base, and it was amazing!  Entire families were learning and ministering together.  One of the families I had known from back home.  I was so amazed at how they had sold everything and came when God called them.  The father and son testifed about how the son had heard God’s voice and prayed for a man, and that man had received healing in his eyes!

Then Areli’s DTS took the stage.  I heard a girl talk about hearing God’s voice for the first time.  I heard a young man tell about God’s creative way of showing him how to let go of his anger. I heard another guy tell of when he witnesses a healing after he prayed. The evening wrapped up with the SOE telling their stories, and each student received a diploma. Everyone was overflowing with an awareness of God’s goodness!

Sunday morning we had time to take one last walk around the loop.  I hated to leave this special place. I was reminded of the many walks I had taken with God on this path.

“There was the exact spot that God told me that I was going to marry Daddy,” I told Areli and two of her friends.

Where we stopped for a snack at the water’s edge was where I heard God speak to me so clearly as I prayed about finances for outreach and my future.  He gave me this scripture:

“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jer 17:8

I still remember this scripture and think of it often.  I am not a missionary depending on monthly support, or traveling to strange and exotic locations.  But I do have 10 children, which sometimes requires a leap of faith to just get out of bed each morning!

I recalled all that I had learned here on this base and how it changed the course of my life. My expectation for DTS and SOE was that I would learn about how to evangelize and about how to be a foreign missionary.  Yet almost every speaker who came to our school, every book that I read, every encounter I had with new friends taught me about something different.  Something I desperately needed to know but didn’t know that I needed to know.  Something that would prepare me for the future that God had planned, a future I had never even guessed at 25 years ago.

God taught me about marriage, raising children, homeschool, and His heart for families. I hadn’t thought much about these subjects previously.  I had been focused on getting good grades in order to get into a good college so I could become a teacher.  Once I began my YWAM journey, I fell in love with it!  I continued with SOE and at the end of it, I pictured myself as a missionary with everything I owned strapped to my back.  I was excited to go anywhere.  I prayed about the next step, and all I heard God say was, “Go Home.”

I didn’t understand it at all.  Yet I obeyed.  A month later I was engaged to my high school sweet heart.  A year later we were married.  25 years later we have 10 children. I am living my destiny, and I love it!

Now I can see that God had perfectly prepared me.  YWAM was a huge part of that! I can also see that all my mistakes and missteps along the way just brought me closer to Him. What would I say to the new DTS and SOE graduates?

“God is using everything in your life to prepare you for your purpose.  It is ok if you don’t have a full picture of that purpose, God does!  Whatever you are picturing, it will be totally different anyway! It is usually harder but better!  All your experiences give you something important, even the painful ones, even the ones that seem like mistakes or failures.  Make the most of your YWAM experience!  The time set aside to seek God is sacred and will bring great rewards in the future.”

As we walked back to get ready to leave, I felt so thankful for my Alma Mater.  I felt thankful that Areli was experiencing it too!  Perhaps there was a deposit in little Aria’s spirit that would bring her back here for her own adventure, to this extraordinary place that has brought generations to the feet of Jesus!

The PA Grand Canyon, Family History, and Bald Eagles: 2019 Family Vacation

It was that time of year again. Family vacation time!  This year I had rented a place for an entire week plus a day.  We hadn’t been able to do that since 2011.  I spent months searching for the perfect house, making lists and comparing pros and cons.  I interviewed each child and found that they didn’t care as much about the house as they did about the land. 

They wanted to be far enough away from other people that they could shoot BB guns and have camp fires.

                We finally settled on a farmhouse in Liberty, PA.  It had 6 bedrooms and 130 acres.  I was hoping it would provide the perfect peaceful retreat.

                The week preceding our vacation, Chris had transferred to a new building at work.  He is a UPS driver, and they had moved a lot of the routes to this new building.  His 10 minute commute became 30.  Not too bad especially since he had gotten his own regular route for the first time since he started 4 years ago.  However, the days proved to be much longer, threatening to overtake his 14 hour limit.

                “Did I tell you I saw an eagle at work the other day?” he asked me at the end of the very long week. “It was right there, flying over the Target parking lot.”

                I marveled at that!  Chris had gotten a very busy route in the heart of retail businesses.  Not a place you would expect to see an eagle.  Eagle sightings had become a sign of God encounters to me.  I have written about it in many articles starting with A Hawk, a Vulture, and an Eagle and continuing with Part 2, This is a New Season, and A Surprise Visit from my Marine.  Wow! I really have seen a lot of eagles! I took this fresh eagle sighting as a sign that this new position for Chris was part of God’s plan. 

Though it seemed that it would require endurance and long hours, God would meet him there.

                I was also fully expecting God to encounter us on our vacation, and I was not disappointed!

Saturday

                It sure took a long time to get 10 people packed up and ready to go.  We filled a rental trailer with all of our essentials.  Half of it was food!  By the time we were ready for the long drive, the rain had cleared away.  The journey toward northern Pennsylvania was beautiful, the golden sun playing on the autumn leaves, weaving in and out of the rolling hills.  We listened to the CDs I had checked out of the library, The Penderwicks in Spring. It was the fourth book in the series that we had come to adore, and it seemed just perfect for our family right now.  The oldest girl was away at college (just as our oldest daughter is away at missionary school), the neighbor boy was away in the army (as our oldest boy is away in the Marines) and the other Penderwicks were of many different ages, just as our children are.

                We finally arrived!  It was quite remote and the land was beautiful.  The house was very interesting with an old, quirky charm.  Everyone got unpacked in their new rooms.  Then we cooked hotdogs and s’mores over the fire outside. Such a lovely evening.

Sunday

                Chris drove most of the children to the PA Lumber Museum and they enjoyed the antique vendors, the demonstrations, and the exhibits. 

Chris purchased a book published in 1901 titled The Life of William McKinely.  Many times in the next week I would see Cadin enjoying the solitude of his own room and reading this book. 

Since the Lumber Museum wasn’t handicap accessible, I stayed home with Ashlyn and Aria.  They were so sweet and we spent a happy morning outside in the sunshine.

                That evening Chris grilled hamburgers and we all ate outside.  It was cold!  Chris decided to zip Aria into his jacket.  He still was able pass the football with his boys.

I wanted to hold these family moments forever in my memory!

Monday

                We drove to the Lenard Harrison State Park.  They had a beautiful overlook to view the PA Grand Canyon. 

Soon however, we encountered stairs and Ashlyn could go no further.  We found an employee who showed us on a map the two Handicap Accessible trails.  We stopped for lunch first at the playground.

                Then we drove to the Pine Creek Trail which was at the bottom of the canyon.  The path was wide and flat, good for bikers and horses.  It was gorgeous!  We saw a covered wagon tour pass by.

                We continued the adventure by driving to the other side of the gorge to access the Barbour Rock Trail.  Most of the children were tired of walking and just wanted to stay in the van. 

                “We came this far, I am going to walk to the vista!” I announced.

                Chris came with me along with three of the children.  Chai stayed with the rest in the van.  It was only .7 miles to the Vista and what a lovely walk.  All of a sudden we came upon the vista and it was breath taking. 

I wanted to linger there just a little longer than the boys would have liked.  My patience was rewarded as Chris and I got to see a large bird circling over the gorge.  When the sunlight flashed on the white tail feathers, I knew we had seen a bald eagle! 

Oh to be an eagle and to soar over such a sight!

                The entire day felt like a gift from a loving Father.

Tuesday

                We took the morning and drove to Mansfield, my father’s hometown.  First we visited the house where he had grown up.

The last time I had been there was for my father’s internment in 2013.  The home had looked small and barren, stripped of the magic it had possessed when I was a child.  The current owners must have poured a lot of love into the property, because it looked so charming again.  What relief that brought me!

                Right down the street was Oakwood Cemetery.  I couldn’t remember where the family grave-site was, so we just got out and started looking.  After a few minutes I caught sight of two stones decorated with flowers and birds, the prettiest in the cemetery.  They belonged to my Grandmother and Grandfather! 

And right behind them was my Dad’s and a stone for my mom, ready for her but not yet needed (thank goodness!)  As a child, I had always been very bored when my relatives took me to pay respects in a cemetery.  Now it was a very meaningful part of my family history.

                We drove to the History Center on Main St. and were greeted by the woman who runs it.  She talked to us and showed us around. 

She showed me a picture of my Dad in her Mansfield High School display.  She remembered him!  She said that if I donated something of his, she would put it in her display.  I loved seeing the history of the small town and felt honored that my Dad had been a part of it.  The children mostly just loved the little dog Amos who considered the museum his home away from home.

                We ate lunch at a park that had a swing just perfect for Ashlyn.  It sat in the shadow of Mansfield University where my grandfather had been a professor.  Grandmother and Grandfather had passed away when I was still in elementary school.  Before they died, we would travel to Mansfield only once or twice a year.  We always came for Thanksgiving, and it was always cold, wet, and dreary. 

But on this sunny fall day as I watched my children play at the park, my view of Mansfield was being redeemed.  It was a gorgeous little town!  I felt the sunshine make its way into my memories and brighten up my view of my father’s side of the family.

Wednesday

                Being the first rainy day, we decided to stay at the farmhouse.  There were so many books and games in the library and a large collection of toys and coloring materials in the loft room. 

As Chris was reading about the nearby Penn Wells hotel, he decided that he should take me there on a date that night.  I was actually hoping to return, since it had been the place that my grandparents would take us for Thanksgiving once Grandmother decided that she was too old to cook.

                We drove through the hills and low lying clouds to get to the charming town of Wellsboro.  I recognized so much about the Penn Wells, and I enjoyed being there again.  Memories of my grandparents warmed my heart; Grandmother asking me to sit by her at the meal because she wanted to get to know me better, Grandfather insisting that I turn in the $2.75 in quarters that I had found in one of the payphones in the lobby. 

                After we finished the meal, we walked up and down the main street and took in the display windows of all the little shops.  Dark had fallen and nothing was open, but it was still fun!

Thursday

                The children were so anxious to get out of the house and use some of their spending money, that Chris took most of them to Wellsboro that morning.  I stayed home again with the girls and enjoyed the relative quiet of the house.

                That evening we took a walk and gathered wild flowers for the table.  We listened to Frank Sinatra on the CD player while we made supper.

Friday

                The children had taken every opportunity this week to play outside and explore the woods, the fields, and the 5 tree stands.  They had conducted target practice with BB guns. They had honed their skill with the bow and arrows.  They waged laser tag battles.  This day they decided to craft a tepee/ wigwam!

Saturday

                The week had come to an end.  We had to get packed up and set all things back in their proper places; no small feat with many small hands constantly grabbing and relocating!  We pulled away at 11 am and told the children that we had two surprises for them.  The first came after an hour of driving.  We stopped at the Country Cupboard to partake of their lunch buffet. This was a special place because we had spent two Thanksgivings there.  I groaned inwardly when I saw that most of my children’s idea of enjoying an all-you-can-eat-buffet meant getting a plate of rolls and mac and cheese followed by two plates of dessert.  Finally we issued the proclamation: a meat and a vegetable must be eaten before dessert is consumed.

                After the meal we had fun walking around their large greenhouse and gift shop. The second surprise was just 20 minutes away. We drove along the river to find our way to the Joseph Priestley House.  I looked up and saw two large birds circling directly above the street. 

A pair of bald eagles!   

                We arrived at the lovely house built in the 1700s.  A tour guide was just starting the tour, and we learned all about Joseph Priestley.  He is famous now for discovering oxygen.  He also discovered many other gases and created carbonated water.  First and foremost he was a man of faith and believed that science both confirmed and validated his faith.

                After we departed the historic site, all that was left to do was drive home.  Such a stunning drive!  I pondered why God had allowed me to see three eagles on this trip. What was His message to me?  I think I simply saw them because I was always watching for them.  I expected to see them.  Most of the rest of the family hadn’t spotted them because they just weren’t looking. 

I think that God encounters are around us all the time, we just need the eyes to recognize them! 

And of course, God is just so very, very GOOD!

The Glorious Now

It was a lovely Sunday in August.  A perfect day!  It felt like the kind of day that would be wasted if not spent out of doors.  We decided to be spontaneous and head out for a picnic at Gifford Pinchot State Park rather than go to church. 

It is so hard to be spontaneous with 8 children!  We had to think about clothes and swim suits and towels, diaper bags and nursing pillows and bibs, strollers and chairs and food.  The children were all excited to help, so the preparations went quickly.  Probably the biggest hurdle was myself.  My very non-spontaneous self.  I fretted about this and that, what I would wear that I wouldn’t feel ugly in at the “beach”, what I would feed the baby, how much of the day we had already wasted by sleeping in and taking our time. 

Chris took me and looked me in the eyes, “You don’t need to stress.  Just enjoy this day.”

I was determined to put all worries out of my mind and sincerely try.

The drive felt incredibly long because of closed roads, a crying baby, and a screaming teenage girl (who acts more like a three year old with her special needs).  Chris and I decided to laugh through it, hoping it wasn’t an indication of what to expect on this outing.

The park was beautiful!  We found a half circle of picnic tables under a tree and staked our claim.  Then we went down to the lake to watch the children swim in the murky water.  They had a wonderful time!  I stuck my feet in but didn’t relish the slimy feeling of the bottom.  We took a break and ate our lunch.  Everyone was still happy, so we went back to the water. This time we took camping chairs and sat under the shade of a tree.

I looked out on the lake, full of joyful children. The sounds of laughter and splashing floated through the air. The sky was blue. The sun was shining. The trees surrounding the lake were beautiful. 

A cool breeze kissed my face, and I felt the presence of God.

“He is right here, right now,” I thought to myself. “He is filling me, surrounding me.”

Then it struck me – THIS IS IT! 

This is what I had been longing for all spring and summer.  I had hoped for a getaway to the ocean.  True, this was no ocean with pounding waves and sandy beaches. There was only a small cement embankment to separate the grass from the water. But it was perfect! 

THIS WAS IT!

This was the rest.

This was the vacation I had been envisioning, praying for, hoping would come.  I didn’t have to wait for a perfect moment in the future.  I had my heart’s desire RIGHT NOW! I wanted to just sit in the peace, to enjoy it as long as I could. I sent up a quick prayer that none of my children would get hurt and come running to me with shrieks and bloody appendages.  A few more minutes passed and the peace remained.  The park was crowded with people on such a lovely day, but everyone was friendly and having fun.

Then a new group arrived and set up a very large speaker which began blasting hip-hop music.  “No big deal, it is still a perfect day,” I tried to tell myself even as my annoyance grew.

“Why do these people think that everyone here wants to listen to their music,” I thought to myself. “I would be so embarrassed to intrude on everyone’s gorgeous day like that!”

Just then a new sound came through the speaker. A ukulele.  The sweet and soothing ukulele version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” which had always been a favorite of mine.  It brings the joy of dreaming and the contentment of dreams come true.  In a season of broken dreams, I had avoided the song, as it had become very melancholy to me. 

But today it was the finishing touch on this “dream come true moment” that God had orchestrated for me.

No, I wasn’t at the beach.  I didn’t have all my goals accomplished or all of my concerns taken care of.  It was simply…

THE GLORIOUS NOW!

I was present.

I was content.

I was deeply blessed.

He Will Satisfy My Desires with Good Things

I looked up from cooking in the kitchen and caught a glimpse of something that made my heart swell with an unfamiliar joy.  What was I feeling?  A thrill? A wave of delight?  It happened a few more times that day as I gazed across my home to see the view past the dining room, past the sitting room, and through the large front window to the porch. This strange sensation reminded me of Is 60:5 (NIV), “Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…”

                What was causing this unexpected joy?  I could see four hanging baskets overflowing with pink and yellow flowers on my porch.  MY PORCH!! I had dreamed of having hanging baskets for as long as we had had a porch.  Every spring I thought, “This might just be the year!”  Then every spring reality hit.  Food was more important that hanging baskets, which at their cheapest were $20 a pop.  Yet now I was beholding them in all their horticultural glory, and they made me so happy!

                It seemed rather silly to get so excited about plants. I had just seen them at Sharp Shopper, a little past their prime and disheveled.  I got the lot of them for $24.  Once we hung them up outside, they had bloomed all over again.  It almost felt like a miracle. 

Then I remembered something I had written in my journal last year.  I looked it up and found an entry from 2/2/18.  I had been feeling horrible for about a month and a half with my pregnancy.  It had been just long enough to convince me that I would always feel this way and would never enjoy life again.  I would sit on the sofa trying to be still, taking peaceful cleansing breaths to keep the nausea away.  I found that it helped to close my eyes and picture things that made me happy.  I pictured Chris and me on a Baby-moon to Cape May, sun on our faces, and sand in our toes. 

I also pictured our front yard, landscaped and beautiful.  There would be a raised bed in front of the porch where I could plant veggies and herbs.  There would be planters overflowing with flowers on the concrete blocks next to the steps up to the porch. More planters would grace either side of our lovely front door.  Most importantly there would be hanging baskets all around the porch.  Just thinking of springtime and the beauty and aroma of flowers made me feel better. In fact, I drew a picture of it in my journal and wrote, “Flowers are a sign of prosperity to me, to have the extra time and money to have flowers.” I didn’t expect to see this dream realized for a few years yet.  But it helped me to imagine.

                That is why I felt my heart thrill and rejoice when I saw those flowers hanging outside.  It was a desired fulfilled, a dream realized, a sign of God’s faithfulness to bring prosperity into my life before I thought that He would.

After coming out of a season of disappointment, over and over again disappointment, the thrill that went through my heart felt foreign. I almost wanted to dismiss it as unimportant.  No need to get crazy and all bent out of shape over flowers!  I didn’t want to rush in and think that all my desires would be fulfilled.  I didn’t want to really start to dream very much again.

                Thankfully God showed me scriptures that allowed me to savor this joy, rather than toss it aside. One had been up on my mirror for months.

Ps 103:5 “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Others He gave me in the next week.

Pr. 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desired fulfilled is a tree of life.

Pr. 13:19 A desire realized is sweet to the soul…

                I sat down and wrote down all my desires that had been fulfilled lately. I came up with 14 of them.  Things I had been thinking about, researching, longing for, and praying for. 

                FOURTEEN OF MY DESIRES HAD BEEN FULFILLED!

Just to look at them all in a list lifted my spirit and caused me to praise God.  I was no longer in a season of disappointment. 

I was in a season of desires and promises being fulfilled.

                Yet I almost MISSED IT!  I was so used to being disappointed that it was easy to continue to be.  If I thought of all the challenges that lay ahead, all the prayers that had not yet been answered, I would feel like a victim.  If I thought of my dream journal sitting up in my closet for over 4 years, untouched because I didn’t want to open old wounds, I felt tired and washed out.  Dreaming like that was for the young who have extra time and energy to invest in their dreams. I need to just be happy with my lot and make it through the day.

                NO WAIT! God said that He is satisfying my desires so that my youth is being renewed!

                I am not a victim!

                I am not in a season of disappointment!

                I can look at my world with eyes wide open.  When I see the flowers overflowing – I can let my heart thrill!

                When I see the butterflies and the hummingbirds flock to the beauty – I can be radiant!

I know that God cares about what we care about.  I know that He loves beauty. I know He delights to see His children rejoice because they have received their heart’s desire. I love it when I can give my children a gift that awakens wonder and excitement in them. How much more does God feel that way?

                If we delight ourselves in the Lord, He WILL give us the desires of our hearts.  He is doing it right now, every day.  Let’s open our eyes and notice it.  Let’s make a big fuss over it! Let’s put a smile on our Father’s face when we realize how very good He is!

Candy Wrappers and Fuzzy Tongues: the Influence of an Older Brother

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Having six boys, we have quite a culture of testosterone in our home.  Wrestle first, ask questions later.  As my older boys grow into men, I hope that they will be a good influence on the younger ones.  Teach them to respect their mom, stand up for their brothers, and protect their sisters…stuff like that!

However I have noticed a different type of influence that is not always good.  The oldest boy would relentlessly pick on the second to youngest one.  I would explain to the Oldest that I understand that the Second Youngest can be very annoying at times, BUT the truth of the matter is, “You were very much like him at his age.  You looked very similar and had very similar behaviors.  Your Dad and I didn’t call you mean names or criticize you did we?” I ask.

“No,” the Oldest answers.

“So give him the same courtesy,” I say.

My logical explanation seems to have little effect on his behavior as the bullying continues.  I begin to notice that the Third and Fourth Oldest are learning the fine art of bullying.  I am distressed.

Other behaviors trickle down the line such as writing on clothing or sneaking candy and stashing the empty wrappers behind the washing machine.  A love for fishing, violent video games, and BB guns flourish.  When the Oldest joins the delayed entry program of the Marines, the other boys pick a branch of the military that they will join someday.  Even the Youngest is being encouraged to follow his dream of being a paratrooper.

“I don’t want ALL my sons to be in the military,” I yell out. What is a mother to do?

As the Oldest spends more and more time with his Marine recruiters, training physically and mentally for boot camp, I notice a change in him.  He is maturing.  He is becoming more honorable and more truthful.  He is becoming more respectful…most of the time.

Dental Health has never been very important to the Oldest Brother.  Dental Health is very important to me.  I used to brush each child’s teeth after each meal.  As they get older, they must brush their teeth themselves of course, but I still remind them quite often.

“Have you brushed your teeth?” I call out to the Second Youngest who is rushing out the door for school.

“Yeah, Yeah,” he answers.

I suspect that he didn’t.  I suspect that he hasn’t brushed at all in the past week.  I need to pry open his mouth and check for myself but there he goes…halfway to school already.

One day I witnessed firsthand the power of the influence of the Oldest Brother.  We were all sitting at the dining room table eating a meal.  When we are done I try again to preserve the teeth of my children.

“Everyone, brush your teeth!” I call out.

No effect.  No indication that anyone has heard me speak.

Then a new voice declares, “You should really brush your teeth, you know.”

It is the knowable voice of the Oldest Brother.

“I didn’t used to brush my teeth at all,” he continues, “but then I saw this picture of what happens to your tongue when you never brush. I almost puked right there!  The back of the tongue was growing mold, fuzzy mold!”

“Really?” the younger brothers are very interested, “Show us!  Show us!” they beg.

He whips out his phone, finds the picture and shows them all.

The younger boys do not walk, they RUN to the bathroom to brush their teeth.  In all my years of mothering, I don’t think I have ever elicited such immediate and wholehearted compliance to one of my instructions.

The cool Oldest Brother has a power that even he doesn’t totally understand. May it always be a force for good!  Now that the Oldest Brother is in boot camp, may the core values of the Marines be the driving force behind his awesome power of influence.

HONOR

COURAGE

COMMITMENT

And just a little bit of good housekeeping and proper dental hygiene.