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! 

Our 24th Honeymoon in Cape May

Chris and I got married 24 four years ago. (I wrote about our romance in my article, “Our love Story is my Favorite.”) We honeymooned on Brigantine Island. We spent one day in Cape May and loved the beautiful seaside town. We vowed to go back someday. Many times we talked about it. We even tried to plan it. Finally, after 24 years we were able to fulfill our desire!

Our first honeymoon was in August. We were 20 and 21. We had enjoyed our wedding and celebrating with our friends at the best reception dance party we have ever attended, before or since! We left the worrying to others, and we just enjoyed the day.

Before we set out for New Jersey, we had to return to our apartment. It was full of wedding gifts and cards but little else. When you are young and in love, what else do you need?

Well, for a honeymoon, a little cash would be nice!

We opened up all the cards and gathered the cash. We had enough to eat out a few times, catch a movie, and buy souvenirs.

We felt incredibly blessed!

We had no cell phone. There was no social media. We were blissfully isolated and free to follow whatever schedule we happened upon. I am so glad our spontaneity took us to Cape May.

Many times over the years we have talked about returning. Finally after much discussion, research, planning, and dreaming, all factors converged in a glorious miracle! Two of our adult children were still home to watch the younger seven while friends helped out. Chris got off work. We had spending money to do what we hadn’t been able to do the first time, (such as a historic trolley tour plus a tour of Elem Physick Estate.)

We felt incredibly blessed!

We went first to the Cape May Light House.

When the woman at the top of the light house found out that we had been there on our honeymoon, she gave us a special shell with, “Cape May” painted on it along with free tickets to the WWII Lookout.

We felt God’s Favor!

Once we had descended the 199 steps, we walked to the beach just behind the light house.

We walked over to the Cape May Point State Park and had fun pretending to be wildlife photographers.

Then we ate a packed supper while we watched the sunset on Sunset Beach.

The next morning I got Chris out of bed early so we could watch the sunrise on Broadway Beach.  It was too cloudy for the colors of the sun to penetrate, so we just sat and soaked in the sound of the pounding waves and the peace.

I was sitting in the borrowed beach chair, trying to quiet my mind. I realized that this was it! 

We were sitting in the fullness of a desire fulfilled. 

I tried to let all my burdens go out with the tide and be washed by God’s goodness, as faithful and constant as the waves.  What a year 2020 had been so far, one of our very best years as a couple and as a family.  Then God spoke to me Psalm 128.  It seemed too good to be true, that God was saying this directly to us at this time!

We tried to enjoy every moment of our romantic getaway.  Worries and heaviness would creep in.  The next morning we received a text from a lifelong friend that read,

“I pray you are having the most awesome time away together!!!! You guys are such a wonderful blessing to so many and such a strength to me as my friends. May you be overwhelmed by God’s goodness.”

I felt awe and wonder, to be so blessed with friends that were praying for us while we were on vacation! I was determined to make Psalm 128 our vacation mantra.

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!

    how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!

You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming.

    Enjoy the blessing!

Revel in the goodness!

Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,


    your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table
    as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.

Stand in awe of God’s Yes.

Lunch with an ocean view

 Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!

Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem
    every day of your life.

May you live to see your children’s children

Peace be upon Israel!

Now is the Time to Stand and Fight for Our Country!

On how I love to read!  One of the pure joys of life!  To sit down and read a good book uninterrupted feels like paradise. Lately I have been listening to audio books while I get my work done in the kitchen.  I have to choose my books carefully, because I have so little time.  I ask God to lead my choices and reveal truth.

                Two books I have listened to recently have impacted me deeply and have guided my interpretation of this war we are now in.   This article is about the first book.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

                This was a beautifully written story of normal people living during a time of growing evil.  It centered on an orphan boy in Germany and a blind girl in France.  Their stories were told simultaneously and intersected at surprising points.  This was not a true story but seemed very historically accurate.  It was not written from a Christian perspective and offered no true redemption at the end, but the characters were intriguing and the insight into human nature was compassionate and stunning.

                The orphan boy, Werner, was destined to work in the coal mines that had killed his father, but he had a sharp intellect and an abhorrence to the mines.  As he and his sister grew up destitute in the orphanage, “The Fuhrer” began to institute more rules and changes.  They were told that it was all for their good, but the words did not ring true as conditions in Germany deteriorated.  No one wanted to be noticed, to stand out in any way. To attract the attention of any Nazi official was to bring doom on yourself and those you cared about.  Everyone complied with each new edict and kept their heads down.  When it was demanded that all radios be handed over to the government, Werner decided that he had to destroy the very powerful radio he had built himself.  It was too dangerous to keep it. His sister felt bitterly betrayed.  She knew that the edict was wrong.  This radio had brought them fine music and educational programs from as far away as France.  It had been the only light in their dark world.  In recent days it had brought news from the battle front, news that contradicted the State Approved News Stations they were allowed to listen to with the weak State Approved radios.

                Because Werner’s brilliance with fixing radios became known to the local SS officer, Werner was recommended for the National Political Institutes of Education. This was where Germany’s brightest and strongest boys were sent to be trained to serve The Fuhrer.  I found myself wishing that Werner would go, to become a scientist as he had always dreamed, to escape the dark chasm of the mines. Yet I knew that if he did, they would try to crush his spirit and steal his soul. 

He did accept the invitation and found out soon enough what this new education was all about; the individual meant nothing, the State meant everything, and the State was being run by the cruelest men in the human race.

                Meanwhile Marie-Laure was growing up in France with her father.  She was learning to navigate Paris as her sight left her.  Her father worked at the National Museum of Natural History and she was raised with all the wonder and delight of curiousity and good books.  People were hearing reports about Adolf Hitler in Germany for many years, but few thought it would impact them.  It didn’t seem as though France ever earnestly prepared for a war.  When the Germans arrived, surrender came so quickly that I wondered if France had even put up a fight.  I asked my husband and adult daughter, both of whom I consider almost experts of this time period.  They confirmed my impression of France.

Did they have any idea what they were surrendering to?  Had they any idea how their surrender would affect their own people and the other European nations? 

Soon after, small contingencies of Nazi soldiers would enter each town and occupy.  The German forces were so small that the people could have easily banded together and kicked them out.  Not a single act of courage was displayed.  The people just kept their heads down and tried to stay out of trouble.  They handed in their guns.  They handed in their radios. 

                I felt like yelling at them.  “Stand up and fight!  Don’t give up your country so easily!  Fight with all you have!  Fight to the death if you have to. Now is your chance! You will not have this chance again!”

How I longed to rewrite the story with wise leaders who had insight into the coming evil.  I wanted to add French heroes with stout hearts full of righteousness and compassion, willing to fight for their liberties and the liberties of Europe.

How I longed to see every solider and able bodied person in France take whatever weapons they owned and stand their ground and say, “No Further! This is our land!”

The only courage that arose was the underground resistance, those few who kept their radios and risked everything to send intelligence to the Allies.  Marie-Laure was one of those heroes.

In a lovely twist, Marie-Laure’s uncle who had been confined to him home with debilitating fear after he fought in WWI, finally stepped out in courage once he decided to join the resistance.

Still incredible darkness filled every day in both Germany and France, lasting well after the long war finally came to an end.

What have I learned from All the Light We Cannot See

We are in a similar time to the time before Hitler gained his vice grip over Germany and then Europe.  We are fighting Socialism (which always becomes Communism) and globalism. (Confused about Socialism in America? Watch this interview with Dinesh D’Souza, author of The Unites States of Socialism.) We are fighting all the evil spirits that still shriek,

“The individual is worth nothing!  The State is Everything!  There is no God, no morals – only the Fuhrer!” 

The words we are hearing are slightly different,

“Unborn babies are worth nothing, white lives are worth nothing, police lives are worth nothing, individual freedoms do not exist!  You must yield to the Government to insure the safety of the masses!  You must cover your faces and submit to vaccines! There is no God, no Bible that has any bearing on our society!  Only what is Politically Correct!”

Instead of making us turn in our phones, TVs, and computers; they are attempting to control all the information we have access to. They would like us to turn in our guns and are working toward this goal.

The spirit is the same.  We need to understand the times and have God’s insight into the future. And the results will be similar if we do not stand up and fight NOW!  Now is the time. 

A good guide to the times is Rick Joyner’s Word for the Week.  In his word for Sept 15 he says:

 Just as warriors run to the sound of battle, not away from it, patriots run to the crisis that threaten their country, not away from them. The future will belong to those with that initiative…

  We must acknowledge that we are at war. We need a “clear trumpet call” so that those who hear it will mobilize. We need to understand that we would not be living now if we were not called to be warriors in this ultimate battle. If we are not called to be in the physical battles unfolding, we are called to be warriors in more effective ways to influence the outcome. The pen really is mightier than the sword, but if we are not called to write we may be called to speak. If we are not called to speak, we are called to stand. To stand is one of the commands Jesus gave to those who live at the end of the age. Standing resolutely for what we believe can be one of the most powerful messages of all.

      The costliest war of all time, World War II, was caused by the delusion of weak leaders that they could appease the aggressive, bully spirit rising in their time. It was estimated that Hitler could have been stopped in 1938 by the Czech Republic alone, at the cost of between ten thousand and twenty thousand casualties. This number horrified the squeamish leaders of Britain and France at the time, so they decided to give the Czech Republic to Hitler thinking that would appease him. It did not work, as it never will with such aggressors, and two years later the war came anyway. In that two years, the Nazis had grown much stronger, and the cost of stopping him went to tens of millions of lives lost.

         Appeasement has never worked to contain aggressors. Aggressors always come in the same bully spirit, and you can never appease a bully spirit. A bully will never be satisfied. The only way to defeat a bully spirit is to stand up to it. Many of America’s state and local leaders who are under assault from this bully aggression now are trying to appease it, and in just weeks it has multiplied its demands. Where will it stop? It won’t until our leaders stand up to it, but the cost has already grown exponentially…

So, let us keep in mind that at the end of the Book of Revelation it is the “cowardly” who are the first to get thrown into the lake of fire. There is no place in Christianity for cowardice.

How we each fight is a matter of calling. What is God calling you to do?

Repent!

Pray!

Stand!

Speak!

Write!

Vote!

Get involved!

Don’t bow down to false gods of media, government, politics, pharmaceuticals, medical tyranny, humanism, or globalism!

Don’t keep your head down and try to survive another day.

Lift up your heads, because your deliverance is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

Take up your Sword of the Spirit and your Shield of Faith and fight!

2020 is Still Going to be a Great Year!

Chris and I both felt excitement as the New Year 2020 was approaching.  We had more hope for the future than we had experienced for several years. 

Chris kept saying, “This will be a good and blessed New Year!”

               I was hearing the same message in my own heart and from others in the body of Christ.  Brian Simmons visited our church at the end of January, and his wife said that 2020 was going to be a year of redemption and a year of “a flying eagle company.”

                I loved that word!  I have been searching the skies for eagles for the past two years.  In February our family took a day trip to Gifford Pinchot State Park.  It was 55 degrees, sunny, and beautiful.  The children were fishing, playing on the playground, and throwing football.  I was sitting in the sunshine with my eyes closed, letting my mind wander.  I began to wonder what 2020 had in store for us.  Would Ashlyn get surgery to correct her scoliosis?  Would it go well for her? Would we be able to take a family vacation?  Would we experience prosperity this year?  Or would an unexpected tragedy befall us?  I didn’t know, but I felt safe in God’s hands.  Peace surrounded me.

                I stood and opened my eyes and there it was! 

A bald eagle was flying right above us in the perfectly blue sky. It was so close.

http://Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

                It was my eighth eagle sighting.  Eight is the number of new beginnings.  That same week, God had given me three different chapters of Isaiah to read.  These are the verses that jumped out.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland…” Is 43:18-19

“From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today.” Is 48:6-7

“Pay close attention now: I am creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight.” Is 65:17-18 (MSG)

                LOOK AHEAD WITH JOY, God said!

                All that has happened since February is something new and unexpected.  I never anticipated this “pandemic” or how governments and people would respond to it. Yet I am still looking ahead with joy.

                Our lives have been restricted.  Many businesses had to shut down and many people can no longer work.  We can’t gather or attend church in person.  Yet necessity is the mother of invention, and I see inventions and innovations coming out of this time. 

I see new perspectives, new systems and new ways of doing things.  Businesses, our economy and our country could emerge from this crisis better and stronger than ever. 

                Most of us are told to stay in our homes with our families.  Forced to be with our families: to eat together, talk together, work together, and experience every moment of every day together – wow!  What a novel idea for most modern families!

I love having 9 of my children home with me every day.  Reason # 1002 to have lots of children: you will never be lonely, isolated, or bored during a pandemic.  Reason #1003: you have an instant party to celebrate any birthday or special day that might come around. (Reasons #1-1001 will have to be the subject of another article since they are too numerous and too wondrous to discuss here.)

Families are getting closer and stronger.

We are no longer taking our families for granted. They are our support network, our community, our church, and our greatest mission field.  The family is God’s glory center, and it is the foundation for His next move, His next awakening, His next revival.

It seems as though our enemy has us trapped, yet all the enemy’s plans will be used by God to destroy him (Ps 54:5).  Darkness is being exposed and the light is shining brighter than ever. 2020 is the year of clear vision and things are starting to come into focus. 

It is becoming very evident who trusts in the Lord and who doesn’t.

“There is no peace for the wicked.” Is 48:22

“One who trusts (in Jesus) will not panic.” Is 28:16

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Pr 28:1

Many non-believers and believers alike are realizing that they need to repent.  Many people are seeking peace and seeking God.

Many Christians are moving out of the ordinary into something new…a baptism of fire!  We are letting go of comfort and happiness and pursuing the kingdom.  We are moving away from self-preservation and learning about the wisdom of the cross; to lay down our lives to gain true life, to surrender ourselves to obtain true liberty.

I am praying along with Lou Engle that God would pour out his Spirit on us.

It will be something that only God can do and something we have never seen before!

How glorious for multitudes to turn to Jesus!

How earth-shaking when every Jesus follower confidently declares,

The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim FREEDOM for the prisoners and recovery of SIGHT for the blind.” Luke 4:18

And then not just say it, but actually do it!

As I was formulating this article in my mind, I randomly opened up my Bible to the second chapter of Joel.  The entire book is just perfect for this time in history.  What God highlighted to me was His response to his people after their fast. Tens of thousands of people all over the world have just finished a 40 day fast. Perhaps God is saying this to us right now.

“I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully…Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you autumn rains in abundance…the threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.  I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten…

And afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”

These are Exciting Times!

“That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!” I thought to myself in wonder.  The sun was just peaking over the horizon, I was just waking up, and God had just given me a dream.

                In the dream I awoke at a time that I thought would be perfect for a quiet time, 4:44 am.  I got up and started getting ready before I realized that the clock read 12:44, just a bit past midnight.  After a short time the sun was up, even though it was the middle of the night.  I went outside, heading into a forest to attend a prayer meeting. As I walked into a clearing…

I saw the most amazing rainbow in the azure sky.  Its colors where deeper than a normal rainbow. Instead of making an arch across the sky, it twisted and turned like a ribbon.

I realized that the rainbow was made from brilliantly colored clouds.  I rushed to the prayer group, excited to tell them to look to the sky.  They had already seen the vibrant ribbon, because it had threaded itself through the branches of a nearby tree and cascaded toward the ground.  As the magnificent cloud reached me, I noticed that it had lost its color and had dissipated, like fog. I walked back to the clearing and the sky had turned black with an approaching storm.  Yet the rainbow ribbon was brighter than ever, with the deepest reds and blues and purples I had ever seen.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

It was then that I awoke and thought, “That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!”

                I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. I looked up at my mirror and saw the pages that I had taped there. They were important quotes and scriptures that I wanted to memorize.  The first one was a quote from David Lebo from a prophecy he gave in 2019 titled “I am Setting My Eagles Free.”

                “My eagles are soaring in this time.  You will be caught up in a perpetual, never-ending state of soaring on wings like an eagle in the reality of Isaiah 40…You will not fear the storms in your life.  An excitement will arise within you when you see the storms clouds begin to form.”

                I did feel excitement when I had seen the black sky in my dream.  I read another quote, this one from Rick Joyner from a recent Word of the Week.

                “It has been said that the EAGLE may be the only creature in nature that actually likes STORMS. They have learned that if they approach a contrary wind at the proper angle, it will carry them HIGHER.”

                I was reminded of another dream I had back in October.

  I was working in the kitchen in a large facility that seemed to be hosting a conference.  Rick Joyner rushed through the kitchen on his way to somewhere important when he stopped and looked at me.

                “You are a good dishwasher. You deserve a raise!”

“YOU DESERVE A RAISE!”

Perhaps God was saying, “If you approach the storms in your life in the right way, I will take you higher. I AM going to RAISE you up in this time. I will take you to the next level.”

This is a word for the entire church, not just me. 

The black storm clouds have filled the sky.  Yet the rainbow (promises of God) made of clouds (His presence) are more visible and more stunning than we have ever know before.  If we believe Him, we are living in His promises all the time. 

As a child I would love to run out into my yard when it was a foggy morning.  The thought of being inside a cloud was fascinating to me. However, when I ran toward a solid looking patch of fog, it would seem to disappear when I got there.  Sometimes the promises of God can be like that.  They are surrounding us, but we can’t see them.  In my dream I was able to take in a panoramic view of this mysterious rainbow when I stepped into the clearing.  I think this season is like taking a step back to get a better view.

Let’s open our eyes while we have the chance, while many “non-essential” activities are canceled and our routines are interrupted.  Let’s turn off the TV and put our phones away and turn towards the Lord!  Worship Him!  Sing to Him!  Wait on Him! 

He will lift us higher. 

What magnificent sights He wants to show us!

God’s Vision for Me as a Mother

The first story I ever wrote about motherhood was titled, “My Children Aren’t Perfect.” It told about my original Glorious Vision of Motherhood. I believed that if I poured all my love and time and just the right bits of research, learning, and training into my children; they would be practically perfect. With each passing year the truth became more and more ruthless in wrestling my pride and ignorance. Finally I saw my Glorious Vision as what it truly was – a grotesque idol that must come toppling down.

                When the dust settled, all I had were broken pieces of my dream and a tentative hope – that God could make something beautiful with my imperfect mothering and messed up children.

                Now six years later I am confident that He is writing a masterpiece with my broken life!  Of course He can bring eternal glory out of my flawed motherhood.  Of course He can with yours!  That was His plan all along, and our imperfections are just interesting details that add conflict and excitement to His story. 

                During the drudgery of dirty diapers, emotional outbursts, and broken car doors when you are in a hurry to get somewhere; it is nice to set our sights on something lovely.  What does all our “day to day” hustle really mean?

                When I was feeling so sick with my 10th pregnancy, God began to show me His Glorious Vision for my Motherhood. I had been sitting on the sofa for about a month.  To pass the time I would try to read books.  Still I would have to stop every so often to put the book down, close my eyes and just breathe. 

                “I am fine.  This nausea will pass.  I will not feel wretched forever.  I just need to get through this day, this hour, this moment, this next chapter of my book.”

                Then I would continue to read, to try and escape how I felt, and to enter into another life more pleasant than my own.  Janette Oak books were always a good choice; interesting, sweet, and encouraging.  Perhaps you have read her famous book that began her famous series, Love Comes Softly.  I didn’t read the entire series, but I read one of the very last books, The Tender Years.

A scene at the beginning of the book captured my imagination.  The original heroine, Marty, was now in her 80s.  She was helping in the kitchen with all the daughters and granddaughters as they prepared a feast for a family reunion.  One of her daughters urged Marty to sit down and take a rest, and she did so gladly.  That gave her time to think about her many descendants that were all around her, romping in the yard, or in far-away places.  Marty knew each one by name.  She knew where they were and what they were doing.  She knew their infinite value, carried them in her heart, and constantly remembered them in her prayers.

I counted each name she listed (which included children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of their spouses).  One Hundred and fifty!  That was the number of her progeny.  I was impressed and amazed!  She and her husband Clark had 5 children.  I had 10!  Marty began to fade out of my mind and I imagined myself at 80. I was vibrant and healthy, excited about having most of the family home to eat around our huge tables and play around our large country home. I could have more than 150 in my brood, and I began to get so excited! 

In the moment I was still feeling listless and weak.  But my spirit perked up as I realized that someday I would get my energy back. Someday I would enjoy playing and learning new things with my children again.  Someday even further down the road, it will no longer be me who is pregnant.  It will be my daughters and my daughters-in-law.  I will be able to help and encourage them! 

Someday I will help cook and clean for them.  I will snuggle newborns and chase after toddlers. I will babysit, read books, and do art projects.  I will encourage my children and grandchildren and pray for them by name. I will rejoice with every wedding and every new life! 

And while I am living my normal and mundane mom-life, my descendants will be slowly and surely taking over the world!

I closed my eyes and this is the vision that God gave me.  Chris and I had grown together to become the trunk of a mighty oak tree.  The more we press into God, the deeper our root system grows down into the fertile soil.  We have sprouted 9 strong, tall branches that will produce many branches of their own.  We also have a special branch that is smaller and more twisted than the others. Although she most likely won’t sprout any new branches, her life and her fruit are indispensable to our family. Together we are a magnificent tree, the kind that dominates the landscape and produces much fruit.  The kind that offers shade to the burnt-out, rest to the weary, and shelter to the storm-tossed.

Like it says in Is 61:3, “we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

This vision of the mighty oak gives me strength and encouragement on the hard days.  I am living for the long term benefits, not immediate comfort.  Lots of crap happens in life.  Sometimes storms come and tear off the fruit.  Sometimes the branches are in danger of being cut off.  The floods come and threaten to wash us away.  The droughts come and jeopardize our green leaves. 

I know that as long as we press into God, our roots will always tap into His water, His life, His Holy Spirit just like in Jer 17:8 and Ps 1:3. Those roots are the anchor that keeps us steady and firm.

I got through that difficult pregnancy, got through the difficult labor, got through the difficult recovery and have begun to get my energy and enthusiasm back.  I have been able to enjoy my jewel of a baby girl while at the same time joyfully anticipate the future babies that my own children will have in the coming years.

God took this vision one step further for me recently at church. I had my eyes closed during worship and I was thinking about all the trials we had endured and were still enduring.  Then I saw our family as a mighty oak tree again – tall and strong and green.  I saw our roots go deeper and then deeper still with each hardship.  This continued until the roots hit molten lava. 

Photo by Phil Kallahar from Pexels

The lava traveled up the roots and soon the entire tree was ablaze.  Yet it wasn’t consumed as a normal tree would have been.  It was like Moses’ burning bush; still vibrant, still alive, yet on fire. What a sight to behold!

Then I remembered that I had been asking God to put fire in our hearts.  A fire for Him that would never be quenched. A fire which would burn away all other “gods”, which would give us zeal and energy to pursue Him to our dying breath. A fire that would continue and even increase down through the generations. 

It seemed like God was saying, “If everything that comes your way in this life causes you to go deeper with me, your prayer WILL be answered. It is happening even now.”

A fiery, flourishing, expansive tree reaching the whole earth with its branches heavy laden with fruit – that is God’s Glorious Vision for my Motherhood

It is a vision I consider worth living and dying for.  It is a vision that I know that I can’t accomplish.  I have very little control over who my children marry, how many children they have, or the length or quality of their lives.  I can’t anticipate the wrong choices, the tragedies, or the sorrows that may come.  Nor can I imagine the intensity of the triumphs and joys. 

Yet I know that God will accomplish His purpose for us.  It is HIS vision!  And if I am able to make it to 80 and take in with my own eyes the powerful world-changers I helped to bring forth; it will be all His doing!

Perhaps you don’t have as many children as I do.  Perhaps you have more. You might even have a beautiful menagerie of spiritual children, adopted children, God-children, or step-children…charming, amazing, and exasperating children!  Each family tree is unique and one of a kind.  Each has a special purpose.  Have you asked God to show you His Vision for YOUR Motherhood?  Go ahead…I dare you!

I bet it is GLORIOUS!

My Biggest Breakthrough: Part 2 – The Original Wound

Photo by Miriam Espacio from Pexels

Areli, Aria, and I had a wonderful time in Texas. When we returned home I was still living in the wonder of the love that God had shown me there.  I tried to process it, understand it, find scriptures to support it, make it part of my every thought, and believe it in my every cell. 

                A very curious thing had happened in Texas.  Aria had refused to nurse.  I thought that perhaps it was because I didn’t have my usual nursing pillow and everything around us was different.  I did get a few good nursing times with her in our hotel room…when she was totally asleep.  Surely she would resume nursing normally when we were back home.

                Within a few weeks of returning home, Aria stopped nursing completely.  I couldn’t coax her, though I tried and tried.  It was totally fine of course!  She was 15 months and eating all kinds of wonderful food.

 I just thought I had more time, time for her to be a baby, time for her to need me, time for us to snuggle.  All of a sudden my time was up.

                A week went by and my nursing pillows were still out, my bedroom was still in disarray with pillows stacked on the loveseat in the just the right way for nursing.

                “I need to put the nursing pillows away up in the attic.  Now is my chance to make my room pretty again and get rid of all these random pillows.” I thought.

                The thought made me want to cry.  I didn’t want to be done nursing!  The sorrow hung with me and it was stronger than when my other babies had weaned.  Perhaps it was because with the other babies, I knew in my heart that God had more babies to give me.  This time I do not have that assurance.  I could be done nursing…forever.

                I really did feel that the timing of this was from God, that He wanted me to go deeper with Him.  So I allowed myself to feel the pain, to explore the pain, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  I realized that I was only eating for one again.  It didn’t feel important anymore what I ate.  Do I really deserve the best food and supplements?  Just me?  I am not as important as Aria.  In fact, if I am severed from my children, am I valuable at all? 

                I realized with sadness that I was not, at least not in my own estimation.  Being a mother of many children was never my aspiration growing up.  Being a mother at all was sometime I had given very little thought to.  But after I married Chris, we both realized we loved children and we thought would like to have six.  God blessed us with more children than we had imagined, and I grew to love this destiny that God had for me.  I had found my meaning and value in it.

                Then all of a sudden I saw a picture of myself in my mind.  It was just me, just Anne, floating in an empty universe.  No husband, no children, no past, no future, no accomplishments, no good works.  Just Anne.

                “Did Jesus really die for just me?  Does He love just me?” I wondered.                                                  

                My resounding answer was, “NO! How could that be?!”

                Of course I knew that theologically He loved just me.  Plus He had personally shown me His love!  So why was it so hard for me to believe it?  I went through the next two days pondering this question, filling with self-hatred, teetering on the edge of despair and depression.

                I realize now that I should have taken the focus off my own feelings and my unworthiness.  I should have been praising God, trusting Him, and speaking out the words He had spoken, even if I didn’t feel as though I believed them. 

                Again God led me to the empty universe.  There I was. Just me.  Again the question, “Did Jesus die for just me?  Does He love just me?”

                “No, I am so unworthy!” I answered.  The emotions that surfaced were so deep, so raw. It was as though they had been buried for a long, long time.  They reached back to a time in my life of which I have no conscience memory, yet stemmed from an event that I have recently became aware of.  Compared to the sorrow I was now feeling, all my previous emotions had been superficial.  Finally God had reached down to the root of the matter, the original wound to my spirit, the original lie that I believed. 

He had gently pulled off all the band aids that I had so clumsily put on just to keep living.  Old and infected scabs were being scrapped away and the wound was fresh and bleeding.

                “I am not worthy!  I should not even be here.  I do not deserve your love.” I told Jesus.

Jesus answered back.

Always Jesus answers me this way, but I do not always hear.

Always Jesus answers YOU this way, whether you can hear Him or not.

Can we open our ears and try to hear?

Jesus answers;

I love you.

I love YOU!

I have always loved you.

Before you existed, I loved you.

I have loved you for every moment of your life.

I will ALWAYS love you.

You cannot change that.

You cannot cancel out my love with your disbelief.

My love is always right here.

Will you receive it?

My Biggest Breakthrough

“Take me from where I’ve been into something new.

I’m giving up control.

I need a breakthrough.”

This chorus from the song by Chris McClarney kept playing through my mind, over and over.  Pretty soon I was singing the song to God as I was getting ready in my hotel room. I was preparing for the second day of my amazing, miracle trip to Texas.  A few months earlier my daughter Areli had invited me to the YWAM base in Tyler, TX to attend her graduation ceremony. She was graduating from the Discipleship Training School, the same school I had graduated from 25 years earlier.

My first reaction to her invitation was to laugh!  How could I leave my family and spend the money for plane tickets to travel to Texas for a weekend?  It just wasn’t economical or logical.  Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea.  I would need to take Aria who was still nursing and too little to be without her mama.  I would need to find someone to provide personal care for my special needs teenager before school and before bedtime each day.  I would need to make sure the rest of the children were taken care of and make sure they had meals to eat. I would need to find an amazing deal on a plane ticket.  God would need to provide a miracle of extra money! 

I didn’t say anything to Chris at first because I thought he would shoot me down.  He works long hours and I hated to ask him to handle things at home while I was gone.  I just couldn’t stop thinking about this trip!

When I told Chris about it the following day, he was more excited about the opportunity than I was!

“You should go!  It would be so special for you to return to your alma mater!  I think you should go,” he said.

I was so surprised!  What an amazing husband I have! I started praying that God would put all the pieces together.  Areli started praying.  Areli’s friends and leaders started praying. Within a month and a half God had worked it all out.  Aria and I were going to fly to Texas on Thursday and return home on Sunday.  We were even able to change Areli’s return flight home to be the same as ours.

I was astounded that God would do this for me!  I had never traveled without Chris since we had gotten married.  I also had never traveled with a baby by myself before.  I was nervous but so excited! I felt that God wanted to speak to me on this trip. I got some friends to pray for me, that God would encounter me and Aria and Areli.

Now it was Friday, and I was in Texas.  The two flights the day before had gone better than I had expected.  Aria was much easier than I had hoped for!  I had gotten a bigger and better hotel room than I was supposed to have. The weather was gorgeous! I was meeting such wonderful people.

“Take me from where I’ve been into something new.

I’m giving up control.

I need a breakthrough.”

I continued to sing this chorus.  I was trying to worship God while I prepared myself and Aria to attend the base worship service that morning.  I was feeling so thankful and so happy, yet I became aware of another nagging feeling.  What was it exactly? Guilt? Anxiety?

I realized that I wanted to do everything right on this trip, to make the most of this short time.  I really wanted to be an encouragement to every person I met and to share with the students my perspective of the school 25 years later.  I didn’t feel like I had done that at all. 

I was about to walk out the door to head to the Paris Fellowship Center for worship when I heard God say, “You don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING. Just rest and enjoy.”

It was startling how those simple words changed my outlook.  All of a sudden I felt at peace and ready to enjoy my vacation.

The worship was so simple. Just two women singing, one of whom was playing a guitar.  The spirit was sweet and I felt God’s presence.  I was also aware of a familiar feeling.  The sensation I used to have when I attended base worship 25 years ago.  A self-consciousness that wondered how others would judge me when they saw me.  Was I being too demonstrative in worship? Was I being too reserved? Did I look like a tired, out of shape, middle aged mom? Or maybe someone would think I looked young enough to be Areli’s sister? These thoughts caused a low-grade stress that was so distracting yet so normal.  I thought I had left this type of insecurity behind years ago, but it was still with me.

I just wanted to worship God with my whole heart, without thinking about myself.  All of a sudden I felt as though the space above me opened and I could feel the love of God pouring over me without blockages, without filters.  I had never before felt His love this strongly, this purely.

“You could do everything wrong for the rest of your life and my love for you wouldn’t change. I created you because it made me happy.  I delight in you!”

I felt free of stress, worry, and all pressure to perform. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders that I never knew was there.  For the first time in my life, I felt fully FREE, fully LOVED!!

This was the answer to ALL my problems!  This was what I had always strived to achieve but never knew I already had!!  It was hard for me to believe because it went against my ingrained thought patterns. 

I felt the open heaven close slightly. 

“Oh no!  God, help me to hold on to this! Don’t let me lose this awareness of your love!” I prayed as worship came to a close.

I still felt His love more than I ever had. I remained peaceful in the freedom He had just given me.  I enjoyed the rest of the trip in the afterglow of this experience.  There were certain things I knew were true about me.

I was a dream in God’s heart before He made the world. (Eph 1:4, Rom 8:29)

He brought me into this life because He wanted me. I made Him so happy! (James 1:19)

I brought Him delight before I knew right from wrong, before I ever tried to please Him.

Jesus died for me.  He won the victory for me. He won every victory. It is already done! (1 Cor 15:57, John 19:30)

The redemption of God is stronger and bigger than me.  Bigger than anyone.  Bigger than the world and bigger than the devil.  Bigger than my mistakes. (Is 65:17-25, Col 1:20)

I will spend eternity with God in joy and joy and more joy.(PS 16:11)

I can rejoice now! (Phil 4:4)

I don’t need to worry about anything, ever!  (1 Peter 5:7)

His love is unwavering. (Jer 31:3)

I knew that believing all these truths was the key to actually being able to accomplish my purpose on this earth and love others.  I could never do it by trying hard. The work of God is this, to BELIEVE! (John 6:29)

While I was in Texas this seemed easy to believe. 

“God has answered my prayers and has given me my biggest breakthrough!  To simply live in His love!” I thought.  I was excited to return home and live in this revelation that I had known before in my head but now understood in my spirit. Living in His unconditional acceptance would finally slay the fear of man and insecurity that had always been my close companions.

However, you can’t live on the mountaintop forever.  Eventually you have to keep going and encounter a valley.  And with any new revelation there is always a test.  Why do I forget that there is always a test? 

Heaven and hell both press in to demand an answer to this question, “Do you truly believe what God has just told you?”

I wish I could say that I passed the test, but that was not the case.  I found that my biggest breakthrough could also lead to the darkest valley I had yet encountered…

To be continued…

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!