Thursday, January 30, 2014

Asking the (very) tough questions

I admire the work that Eric and Leslie Ludy have done over the years. Although I don’t believe eye-to-eye on everything with them, I believe they are doing a wonderful work there. And I praise God for the influence they are having on people around the world.

In this short (7 1/2 minute) video, Eric asks some very tough questions. I hope you’ll be able to watch it. This is not the soft, easy-to-hear message many of us have sat under. No, it is very hard. It is something I struggle with on a day-to-day basis. I hope, though, that you’ll be encouraged in the fact that it is possible to ‘take up the cross’ and go ahead following Jesus’ leading.

May you be blessed as you prepare for this new month! It’s amazing how fast time flies—and makes this message even greater in the fact that time is quickly running out.

Many blessings,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let's Talk about Jesus!

I once heard of a small girl and her family, who visited her Grandparents in Michigan.  Upon her return home to Missouri, her parents reported to the grandma and grandpa that their daughter happily kept saying over and over: “Michigan! Michigan!”

Do you know a name that has your attention? Is there a name you love to hear? Do you love to sing its worth?

Back to my story, there was something about that name that attracted her. It could have been the sound of it…or the enjoyable time she had had. It’s hard to tell with a little girl, but obviously that name had had such an impact on her that she could not stop saying it!

Do you talk about Jesus? He’s the reason we live, and move, and have our being. He came and died, and rose from the dead to save us from our sins – is there a reason we should not talk about Jesus?

Jesus should not be the one we just talk about at church; or prayer meetings; or; in personal devotions.  He should compass our entire being; just as the little girl
kept repeating “Michigan”, we, should have Jesus the focus of our hearts and lives. His name is above every name.  He is the Master, Savior, Messiah and King!  What depth does the name of Jesus have!

Let heaven and nature sing.  Let us sing and proclaim his glorious, powerful, awesome name!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Princess by Choice—Part 4

A guest article by Lydia Vandezande.

That game was just the first of many. As Sariah found herself becoming more and more a part of the group, she started changing bit by bit without really realizing it herself. She started dressing a bit differently, more like the villagers, though still well within the king’s requirements. She used words in the village that, though they really weren’t wrong, were not acceptable in the palace. And, when the others in the group spoke of things displeasing to the king, she said as little as she could, not agreeing with them, but careful not to openly disagree.

Sariah also found herself spending less and less time with the king. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be with him or was openly disobeying him, but she felt a little uneasy in his presence. She began to resent the impossibly high standards he held for his family and sometimes the thought crossed her mind that life would be less complicated if he had never adopted her.

Time went on, a time of confusion and turmoil for Sariah. She loved the king and wanted to please him, but felt an ever-growing pull towards the village of her birth. She had friends in the palace that were enjoyable to be with, but also longed to meet people outside and experience a bit of life as they knew it.

Then, Sariah met Danielle. Danielle was a new member of the royal family and as far as Sariah knew, just another poor woman from another poor village. Danielle seemed especially interested in Sariah from the start and one day as they worked together Danielle shared her story with Sariah.

“My family used to be royalty,” Danielle explained, “many years ago. But, someone in the family got tired of the king’s demands and soon we all went to live at the edge of one of the villages. I was just little at the time and I can remember having a lot of fun. We built houses, made friends, and for awhile, life there seemed even better than life in the palace had been.”

“What happened?” Sariah asked.

 å¹³æ°?å?ºã?? by Jakob Montrasio / CC BY 2.0

“First, the villagers started fighting amongst themselves and my family was caught in the middle. Then, there were years of poor harvests, our houses got old, and eventually, we were living in poverty, like everyone else in the village.”

“Why didn’t you all come back to the palace?” Sariah wondered. “Surely living here would be better than that!”

“Not everyone thinks so,” Danielle answered. “Although I definitely agree with you myself. They feel free there, even with their stomachs and hearts so empty and cold. They would rather miss out on all the king has to offer, than let him control them.”

Sariah thought about that for awhile. Finally, she asked Danielle the question that had been on her mind for so long: “But doesn’t it bother you now to be so different?”

“Different from who?” Danielle asked. “I’m different from my family, but now I’m part of the king’s family. Their lives are so empty, Sariah! To me, it’s worth being different!”

…and I shall return again next week with part 5!
Keep looking up!,

Also in this series:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

All in a Day's Work

Once upon a time, in a land south of United States lived 2 beautiful, single women, who were just settling into life living together: one spoke fluent Spanish - the other was just learning! It so happened on this certain day, these young women needed to travel to a little town 15 minutes away (driving distance that is). However in this certain day, one woman would need to use a bike and the other woman would need to ride a horse; because the other bike had been stolen.
Such was the situation one Tuesday as Virginia and I prepared to head out for a day of visiting and Bible studies in a little town called La Palmerita (little palm) Nicaragua.
However before leaving, I attempted to mount the horse. But Perezoso, the horse had an attitude, thus living up to his name of lazy. Finally, I mounted and attempted to try to test ride him in the yard before attempting to take him on the road. However he had a mind of his own, refusing to cooperate and I didn't know what to do. Randy, our pastor, decided to mount the horse to see what would happen. He took the horse to the water tank and left him drink before trying to re-mount him, but to no avail. We decided to finish getting ready before attempting it again. Once we were ready, Virginia attempted to mount him, but he kept backing around. She whacked Perezoso on his rump and mounted him. However when she attempted to go on the road, he refused to go through the gate. Randy led him to the middle of the road and off we went - one on a horse and the other on a bike. However Perezoso simply had a mind of his own and would not listen.
Finally, Virginia was at the end of her tether and she went to visit the neighbors to ask to borrow one of their horses. The neighbor lady lent us Chiquito, one of her horses, and took Perezoso and made him lug water out of the well. Once again we attempted to make our way to La Palmerita. Everything went along rather smoothly, except that Chiquito trotted horribly.
We arrived in the town and began to visit different people. When Virginia went to mount Chiquito, the homemade bridle came apart. I led him to Johana’s (a native lady) house while Virginia, who had been riding, visited with a young lady. I spent time at Johana’s house attempting to use my limited Spanish-speaking ability. After spending time with her, her sons fixed the bridle and we rode to the church to unload our heavily-loaded backpacks.
While at the church, we decided to partake of the wonderful morsels of food before going to visit some other women in this little town. I, who had biked in the morning, now took to riding the horse, with a switch in hand. We rode down Center Street. However we didnt find the girl we were looking for, so we headed over to 1st Street to see if she was there, but she was not. But since we were there, we saw month-old twins, who had been born a month premature. They were so small! Upon preparing to leave that house, one man re-did Chiquito’s bridle, as he did not like the way the young boys had done it. When I went to mount, the stirrup broke apart. Virginia mounted and off we went again - this time up Center Street to visit another little baby.
This was when catastrophe struck to a certain young lady on a bike - namely me.
I had been riding through water puddles all morning and had not encountered any problems. However this next puddle wasn’t so kind. This puddle spanned the whole road and into the field. There was a small dry strip through the center, so I started to bike through, but what I had not realized was the small section that was under water. BUT it was too late now. SPLASH!!! into the water I fell. I called out to Virginia. She looked back but looked away as she knew all too well the feeling of despair!
Embarrassed, I drug myself out of the water and to the side of the road while Virginia went in to see the baby. Maria, the lady of the house told Virginia to go bring me in.  All mud-bogged and wet, I went in and Maria offered me a chair. When we went to leave, Virginia offered the horse to me and off we went, but not home yet, as we had one more class for the day. Returning to the church, we found young girls were waiting for their class. Of course they all asked me what happen and I explained the story.

 We had just started the class when Virginia heard a familiar sound - the sound of the mission truck. But we poor women had been in the sun too long and it had affected our brains, so we didn’t think fast enough to stop the truck. Bone-weary and exhausted, I led Chiquito to the well and mounted him - or rather plopped on his back. Off I went on the horse, trying to go fast enough to catch the truck, but not so fast that I would fall off the saddle. Seeing the truck up ahead and coming up from the bottom of Center Street, I saw Randy and Jason from the mission. After asking them to stop at the church on their way home, back to the church I went.
After class, we cleaned up and soon heard the familiar sound of the truck. Virginia told me go in the truck and she will ride Chiquito home. I got home soon but wouldn’t know till later the issues that Virginia encountered. She apparently was having quite a time.
When she left the church, she worked him into a full gallop out of the little town. When she got to the main road the broken stirrup fell completely off! She dismounted and picked it up and once again mounted the horse and continued to its owner’s place, where she returned the horse and was met by Jason, who gave her a bike to continue the rest of the way home. All in all we had a great day in the little town, but we were bone-weary and sore that night! But it was good memories and laughs for everyone near and far!

This is a true story that took place in November 2009 in Nicaragua, while I was serving as a missionary.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

A note from Esther: Hi, friends. I’m sorry this has taken so long to get up. You’d think that surely on one of those three previous weeks I would have remembered to start this but…well, here I am now. Hopefully I can remember in the future to get these posted! Today’s recipe looks scrumptious. I’ll have to remember to try it some day. God bless, and keep cooking for the King’s glory!

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

Submitters comment: This is a favorite recipe of our family’s. I have no idea where we picked it up from but it’s delicious.
  • 8 Tbsp. butter (one stick) 
  • ½ onion, chopped 
  • 6 entire heads of roasted garlic, skins removed (see note below) 
  • ¾ cup flour 
  • 6 cups homemade chicken broth 
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (see note below) 
  • 1 tsp. sea salt 
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup cream or milk 
  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grated Parmesan cheese (optional garnishes)

Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add all of the roasted garlic cloves and saute for 5 minutes more. Add the flour and stir thoroughly to combine. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the flour is a light golden color. Add the broth one cup at a time, stirring and incorporating very well after each addition. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree soup with an immersion blender or, if you don’t have one, in a regular blender in small batches. However you do it, make sure the soup returns to the saucepan and turn on the heat to low. Add cream. Stir and make sure the soup is thoroughly warmed. Taste it and adjust the spices to your taste. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese, and drizzle of olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, if you wish. Any one or all of these make good additions to the soup.


To roast your garlic heads cut about ¼ – ½ of an inch off the top of the head exposing the individual heads. (If you don’t see some of the lower cloves, that’s alright, you can fish them out later, just make sure that most of them are showing.)

Remove any of the excess papery skin, but make sure you don’t remove it all! Put the heads top side down in a small pan and drizzle generously with olive oil, roast in a 375°F (191°C) oven for 40 – 45 minutes until garlic is golden brown but not burnt (I’ve done that a few times!). Once it is done, allow it to cool unless you are like me and don’t mind burnt fingers! Then squeeze the garlic cloves out from the skin. They should come out very easily. And that’s all there is to it!
The recipe for Italian seasoning is as follows.
  • 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried celery flakes

Shake all ingredients together and store in a jar. This is also a good recipe to use in vinaigrette salad dressings and to season meatballs and sausage. Or anything else you think it might go with!
Also if you have a family of ten like I do six cups of soup is not going to be enough, so just add broth until the soup level is up to the point where you know it will be enough to feed your family. Then just add a little extra flour. If it clumps up a little, don’t worry that will disappear when you blend the soup. And adding a little more broth does not dilute the soup. Garlic goes a long way!

May God bless you as you cook for Him!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Princess by Choice—Part 3

A guest article by Lydia Vandezande.

The king motioned to a log beside the path. “Let’s sit here and talk,” he suggested. “It won’t be dark for a while yet.”

They sat down side-by-side on the log. Sariah looked at her father expectantly.
“It was a cold winter day,” he began. “I had gone to the village often that winter because a terrible illness was afflicting the village. People were dying every day. There was little I could do to help. On this particular day, three little children and a young mother died. None of the remaining family members would return to the palace with me, even though that was their only means of hope. I left the village cold, tired, and discouraged. Then I saw you.” He stopped, remembering.
“Where was I?” she prompted.
“You were lying beside the path, no where near any house. You were wrapped in a thin, ragged blanket and that was all. I picked you up. At first, I thought you were dead, but as I held you close to me, I felt you move. You were clearly quite new, not brand new, but no more than a few days old. It was snowing and the snow had already begun to cover you when I found you. Much longer and you wouldn’t have made it.” He swallowed hard and then continued.
“There you were, tiny and helpless. I loved you instantly. My first thought was to rush back to the palace with you, but I knew I must first try to figure out who you were. I put you inside my coat and went from hut to hut. No one seemed to know anything about a baby. I’m fairly certain I know who left you in the snow, but they denied any knowledge of a baby, just like everyone else.
“I knew than that you were mine. I took you home as fast as I could. It didn’t take long for you to change from being a starving, half-dead infant to a beautiful, chubby baby girl. Everyone at the palace was delighted with you! You have been such a treasure to me. I have often wished I could thank your parents, but those I suspected of being your birth parents died of the disease shortly after I found you.”
Sariah hardly knew what to say. She had never felt rejection before. She had always assumed that her parents had given her to the king or that they had died and he had taken her in. But to think that they had wanted her to die!
The king, knowing her turmoil, put his arm around her and held her close.

Princess (EXPLORED) by Courtney Carmody / CC BY-SA 2.0
“You are my princess, Sariah,” he said softly. “I’ve loved you from the moment I first saw you. Of all the people in the village, you were the one that I was able to help that winter. You’ve never known another life and I’ve been able to shield you from many of the scars borne by those who joined the royal family later in life. You are a treasure, my daughter.”
Sariah wiped away some tears. “Thank you for telling me this,” she choked. “I had wondered about many of those things. It’s so sad!”
“Yes, it is terribly sad,” the king agreed. “It’s sad what the people who insist on living in the villages do to each other. They live in constant heartbreak. I’m so glad I was able to give you at least a happy story!”
“A happy story,” Sariah repeated. Yes, her life had certainly been happy. She had danced and sung her way through childhood. Life had been almost perfect, until just recently. Was that why the king had chosen to tell her the story now, she wondered as they walked the rest of the way home in the twilight. Did he know about the questions that had been haunting her?
Sariah went to the village with the king several more times that spring, She didn’t particularly enjoy being there, but at least it was something to do. Life at the palace bored her more all the time. Each time she went, she saw the same group of five and imagined how fun it would be to join their group, if only they wouldn’t make fun of her. After a while, she started hanging back a little from the king, looking for a chance to talk to them.
Finally, the opportunity came. The king was at the far end of the village helping someone and the children Sariah had been entertaining ran off to something else just as the group of young people walked up. They saw her sitting alone and stopped to talk to her.
“Hey, you’re the princess!” one of them said, not unkindly.
“Don’t you ever get tired of those fancy dresses?” another asked. “How can you do anything?”
Sariah suddenly realized that she was tired of her dresses, but was saved from replying by a third member of the group, who asked, “Want to join us for a game? We always have to play with five, but it’s a lot more fun with six. Or will the king get you in trouble?”
“He won’t care!” Sariah assured them, although she knew that depending on the game, he might care very much. Regardless of any misgivings, she went with them and enjoyed herself immensely.
The king found her with them later and said nothing about it, although he was strangely quiet on the way home. There was nothing at all wrong with that, Sariah told herself. Why should he care if I have a little innocent fun? After all, he likes me to be happy.

…and I shall return again next week with part 4!
Keep looking up!,

Also in this series:

Friday, January 17, 2014

An Inheritance We Must Not Forget

How many of you are home-educated? And how many of you have parents who were also home-educated?

The modern home-education movement was pioneered in New Zealand in the 1980s by the Smith family. In the USA, Michael and Debi Pearl decided to train their children at home in the 1970's. So the movement hasn't been going for more than four decades.

homeschool table by Jimmie / CC BY 2.0

And now a new generation is rising up - men and women who are blessed in that they have never darkened the door of a public school. They have been faithfully trained by Christian parents, learning alongside each other. These families are often not just home-educators - they are Biblical Christians changing their lives in other ways, seeking to conform to the whole counsel of God.

However, as the Botkin family explain in their documentary "Homeschool Dropouts," there are some very specific sins that we, the second generation, can fall into. I won't go into much detail here: you need to purchase your own copy of the movie!

But we can be too proud of our upbringing, thinking that we now know it all; that we don't necessarily need to keep our own children home; that school might not be quite so bad as we imagined it; that it really doesn't matter what we believe.

We are ignoring our inheritance!

We're not remembering the right things! We think that our parents did what was right at the time, and were simply trying to give us the best education available. And so we run the risk of ignoring our inheritance.

Our inheritance is this: that we are serving the Lord as whole households. Not as age-segregated groups learning either what we already know or do not need to learn, but learning through living a normal family life. It is a lifestyle of change, of casting off worldly presuppositions and turning to God's will in order to seek out the truth.

We must not forget the ways of our fore-fathers. That they have sought God's will and found the truth.

What more do we need?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meditations on Monday

This year, let us ask God to dissolve all our hopes into a Single Hope to know Christ and be Found in Him. May this be a year to desire a radically transformed, deeper, truer, knowing of Christ as our All-Sufficient One. 
--Elizabeth Elliot--

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it the most profitable way I possible can. --Jonathan Edwards--

 Obedience...the freedom to be creative under God given authorities.

Everything is ordered by God. he is the God of order. 
--Phillip H--

{In Christ hope is found! He is my light, my strength, my song!}

Learn to say, NO. It will be of more use to you than if you would learn Latin. 
--Charles Spurgon--

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Princess by Choice—Part 2

A guest article by Lydia Vandezande.

By now, they had reached the outskirts of the village. Dogs barked and a crowd of urchins came running to greet them. Sariah reached for the king’s hand. As long as he was in sight, she felt safe. After all, no one dared mock her with him there. He greeted each child by name, sent a disgusted yet compassionate look in the direction of a drunk man slouched in the doorway of a hut, and hurried to where a young mother was struggling to carry a bundle of firewood and keep her children close to her. Sariah followed him and reached for the hand of one of the children, while the king took the load of wood from the woman. They walked slowly to the woman’s hut—a tiny hovel—the woman complaining all the while about her lazy, good-for-nothing husband.

A short walk brought them to the woman’s home. She invited them in for a cup of water, an offer that the king gladly accepted. He sat and talked with her as she prepared the family’s evening meal. Sariah listened at first, but quickly became bored. These conversations were always the same. The woman complained about her husband, her children, her home, about a everything, it seemed, to Sariah. The king replied by offering the woman and her family a home in the royal palace. He offered new clothes, good food, and a whole new start in life. The woman listened politely for a few minutes, but then interrupted, as Sariah knew she would. She thanked the king, but seemed suddenly attached to the life she had been complaining so bitterly about only minutes earlier. The king repeated his offer, but she had no interest in accepting.

Sariah had always found these conversations unbelievable. She looked around at the cold, dirty hut, the whiny children, the rags, the bare cupboard shelves, and wondered why anyone would choose that over a home with in the palace with the king. She thought these people must be crazy to refuse the offer over and over again. Why would anyone not want to be part of the royal family?

Credit: genre by Paula Rey / CC BY-SA 2.0
Then, at the sound of laughter, she looked out through the open doorway to the street outside. There, she saw a group of five young people about her own age, two girls and three boys. They were walking down the street, heads together, obviously discussing something that they found uproariously funny. Just past the hut in which Sariah was sitting, they stopped and stood in a huddle, talking and laughing.

Sariah looked at the king. He was still talking to the woman. She looked back at the young people outside. What fun it must be to be part of a group like that! There were a few young people in the castle, but although they had fun times together, they were too predictable to be very exciting. Sariah looked down at her lovely dress. It looked fine in the castle, but here, she knew it only made her stand out. She imagined herself joining the five outside. What would it be like to dress like them, talk like them, and belong with them?

The king stood up, ready to move on. Sariah said goodbye to the woman and glanced around the hut once more. They were leaving the woman in a dull and cheerless place and returning to the palace, where all was light and warm and joyful. Why would anyone choose this, over that, Sariah wondered. Then she looked again at the laughing group outside and for a moment, she thought she knew.

The king visited two more homes. At the first, Sariah helped a girl churn some cream and at the second, she rocked a baby to sleep. The men of these houses were at home. Both seemed glad enough to talk to the king and accept his help with their work, but when the king repeated his offer of work at the castle, they both declined. No matter that there was no paying work to be had in the village. No matter that their famines were cold and hungry, that the stores of food were nearly gone, that it would still be a long time until harvest. No one, it seemed, wanted to live with the king.

Evening was approaching swiftly as the king and his daughter left the last hut. He took her hand as they walked out of the village. The young people Sariah had seen earlier were no where in sight and Sariah was glad. For some reason, she felt a bit self-conscious about being seen with the king.

They left the village and the quiet of the countryside surrounded them. After a short silence, the king spoke. “The baby you held at that last place reminded me of you at that age, Sariah.”

“Of me?” She asked in surprise. Babies in the palace were clean, well fed, and healthy, while this one was scrawny, dirty, and weak. “Did I look like that?”

“At first you did,” the king answered. “You know that I found you in that same village, right?”

“Yes, you told me that. But was I really that—that pitiful?”

“Indeed you were,” he chuckled, “and more so. What do you know of your story, Sariah?”

She thought hard, digging deep in her memory. “I know that I came from that village when I was a tiny baby,” she told him. “I know you adopted me and made me your princess. That’s really all I know.”

“Would you like to know the whole story?” the king asked.

“Of course I would!” she exclaimed. “I’ve always wondered about so many things. How did you find me? Where was I? Who were my parents before? Yes, please tell me everything!”

…and I shall return again next week with part 3!

Keep looking up!,

Also in this series:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

So let's talk about prayer...

Okay, so let’s talk about prayer…you know that face you make when someone around you gets hurt, or when you realized you did something horrible without even knowing it? I think that writers better than me call it “wincing.” Well, that was what I did when I decided to write on prayer. Not because it’s a bad topic, but because it’s a really good topic. A topic that, well, if I wanted to write a nice, clean, lovely encouraging post about prayer, well, I couldn’t do it honestly.

Because, to tell you the truth, I’ve been working on this whole prayer thing for years…and I just can’t seem to get a hold of it. So allow me to write a messy, honest, down to the grit post about prayer.

What is prayer? And our typical answer would be “Prayer is talking to God.” And then we move on to pray…we thank God for something, we apologize for any sins we know hurt Him, and we continue with our list of prayer requests for other people and then end with our own. Right? Well, most of the time, I don’t get that far. Most of the time, I can’t even get past those first two sentences….

The fact that God calls me to pray, when prayer is talking to Him, makes me stagger in shyness. Because it reminds me once again of God’s boundless love for me and the rest of His girls and boys. Because it reminds me of my too-often bounded love for God. Too often the love I return back to God is bound by conditions and insecurities. And when I finally comprehend that, I am ashamed. And I cry out to God and apologize and surrender…every time I go to pray. Trying to comprehend the fact that He bids my un-agape soul to come to His throne from which proceeds the vastest love in the universe to bring my requests to Him…it causes me to fall on my knees. Through this heart-prayer, I lay everything at God’s feet.

And this is what has happened almost every time I begin a prayer since I committed my teenage life to learning more about prayer. At times, I think that I should be “further” in my prayer life by now. But what I have learned is this: Sometimes God’s purpose of prayer can be to reveal Himself to us. I have learned so much about the faithfulness of God through this almost awkward journey through prayer. I’m still learning so much about Him, and I have seen Him answer the surrendering prayers of my heart so many times. I’m learning to pray for other people, not just by whispering their names in a so-called “prayer,” but I have learned to pray for other people by lifting up their lives with my heart to God. Trust me, prayer is so much more than the words we say. It is more than the list we write at our prayer meetings. The very substance of prayer is who God is. Think about it. He already knows what you are going to say. But He wants you to come to Him and lay everything at His feet. He already knows how it’s going to work out. But He’s your Father and He wants to commune with you.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’m making sense. Hopefully, some of you will know what I’m talking about when I refer to my wincing at the writing topic. I’m sure there are more experienced posts on prayer. I’m sure there are some honest, beautiful expounding posts on prayer. But I can’t put on a face about it. Allow me to be honest about my personal prayer life and what I have learned. Prayer revolves around God and His Word, not around you and your words.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts (or Monday thoughts if you're in the US :D )

Hello readers! :) I hope you are having a wonderful day, serving the one who redeemed us.

Today, I thought I would share with you a few of President George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation. He penned these guidelines at the age of only fourteen! I would recommend the reading of all 110 rules. They are good ones, and should be applied even today! The original spelling is unchanged, for your information.

1st - Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
6th - Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
28th - If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up tho he be your Inferiour, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.
38th - In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein.
39th - In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.
44th - When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.
56th - Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
73rd -Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
89th - peak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
98th - Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.
110th - Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

Blessings to you, dear ladies! Keep pressing on the upward way!!

January Wallpaper!

Hello, young ladies! 

I decided it was about time to get this wallpaper out of the drafts.
Rachel has been busy with her family, and last I heard from her their computer had broken down, so that will explain her absence from here. Hopefully she won't mind that I went ahead and posted this!

(Click and save image to your desktop and enjoy all month long!)
Please do not use these images for any other purpose other than personal enjoyment on the desktop of your computer!
If you enjoy using the wallpapers, please tell us! :)

May God richly bless you this first month of the new year!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Princess by Choice—Part 1

These next few weeks, I will be busy helping my family prepare to move. So I decided it was time to share a story my aunt wrote several years ago and recently gave me permission to share with all of you! Lord willing, you will be blessed by this short story as I was.

     A Princess By Choice—Part 1    
by and copyright Lydia Vandezande

“Sariah, are you ready?”

Sariah jumped at the sound of her father’s voice. Of course she was ready—ready on the outside, anyway. In her heart she wondered whether she would ever again be truly ready to go with her father, the king, to the village.

She was surprised at her own reluctance as she took the king’s hand and walked with him down the hill and away from the castle and down the winding path to the village. She had always liked this path, through a lovely wood near the castle, through freshly ploughed fields farther on, especially at this time of the year when the earth was awakening once again to new life. She loved the path and had always enjoyed going with the king to the village at the path’s end.

The village itself offered nothing to be desired. Smelly, dirty, and disease-ridden, it was home to a lazy and ignorant people. They lived in poverty, in the worst conditions, but although they were constantly cursing their luck, no one ever seemed willing to put forth any effort toward making a change.

The king ruled the village as well as the surrounding countryside. He often visited the village, helping those who needed and wanted his help. He was always ready to help a man carry a heavy load, wash dishes for a tired mother, or tell a story to lonely child. Sariah often went with him and it was her delight to play with the children while the king talked with their parents or to help in some way with the work.

Lately, though, something had been bothering her. She decided to ask the king about it as they walked along.

“Father?” she began.

“Yes, Sariah?”

“Father, I’ve—I’ve been wanting to talk to you. There’s something I don’t understand.”

The king was always ready to discuss with his daughter any subject that she chose. Today was no exception. “What is it, daughter?” he asked.

She hesitated, unsure how to express her thoughts. Finally, she decided to just blurt it out. “I’m just wondering, Father,” she said, “why a princess has to be so different from everybody else.”

She expected him to be surprised by her question, but on the contrary, he didn’t seem surprised at all. He merely smiled and asked her a question in return. “Different from who, Sariah?”

“Different from all the people in all the villages. You know,” she answered impatiently.

“Yes, I do know,” he replied. “It strikes me every time we go to the village together. In fact, that’s why it delights me so much when you visit the village with me. I look at all the poverty and filth and at all the people who refuse the life I could give them, and then I look at you, my princess. There you are, beautiful and clean and pure. You are so precious to me, my daughter! And when I see you there in the village homes, I remember that all is not lost. Your presence reminds me that there are still those in the village who will allow me to rescue them. You fill me with hope.”

Sariah sighed a little. This was not exactly the answer she’d been hoping for. She knew enough of the story of her own rescue to know that she should be constantly grateful. But sometimes it’s hard to be grateful when you feel…different.


…and I’ll be back next week with part two! :)

I decided this year not to do a special “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” post. But I do want to say—I pray that each and every one of you will understand the real meaning for why Jesus came. I’m saddened to think about how many people there are out there who sing all the Christmas carols but do not have Jesus in their hearts. I pray you won’t be one of those! :)

May God richly bless you in this coming year, and I hope you’ve had a wonderful time with your family this Christmas.

Keep looking up!,

Picture Credit:
neuschwanstein castle by Miguel Lima on stock.xchng

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Completely Normal - the Story of a Miracle

Meet Abigail, my older sister and the oldest child in our family, now 16 years old.

At the time this story starts she was 5 years old. She was given a medicine she was allergic to and developed severe eczema. (This is a common enough condition, a lot of people have traces of inside their elbows and behide their knees. But Abbie’s was chronic.) The doctor didn’t realize what the problem was and tried to bring the eczema under control by prescribing a whole lot more of the same medicine. As you can imagine, this did not help! Her eczema got worse and worse.

She was put under a specialist at the hospital but did not improve. At one point she spent a week in hospital on strong steroids but was still not helped. This went on for years.

She got so bad that she could not straighten her legs or arms at all. Abbie couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t sleep properly, couldn’t eat properly and all her body was so traumatized she actually stopped growing altogether. She was always covered in blood and always her eczema itched, so she was always scratching. Her skin was such a mess and so badly scarred and disfigured that she was always completely covered up, even on the hottest days, as she hated people staring at her. She spent months at a time just huddled up in a corner crying.

Life is a journey and we sometimes have to climb difficult hills and wade through deep water but God is always with us. Even at that dark time, there were rays of hope for Abbie. Things like a lady we barely knew but who regularly fasted and prayed for her.

Abbie suffered from this terrible eczema for a total of 7 years. All throughout this time we kept praying for her healing. Once we were in a church service when Brother Yun from China was present. He has an incredible testimony himself and he invited those who needed prayer to come forward. Abbie went forward and was prayed for and told that she was going to be healed at some point and the Lord would receive the glory. She clung to that.

Meanwhile, the specialist at the hospital offered a new treatment to us. It was an experimental technique but since the situation was desperate she suggested we might like to try it. It involved taking drugs to knock out Abbie’s immune system, since eczema is the immune system over-reacting to things it is not supposed to be worried about. If Abbie had those drugs she would need constant blood tests to see if she had caught any bugs because even a cold could be dangerous! It also greatly increased the likelihood of cancer.

Our parents were horrified!!! They said that if this was the only thing left that the doctors could offer, then we would have to forget the doctors. So we discharged ourselves from the medical system and told God that He was all we had left and that we were totally depending on Him.

Shortly after this Mum heard about an evangelist who prayed for the sick and had seen thousands of miracles. We went to visit this lovely elderly gentleman and he prayed for Abbie, for complete healing. He told us that Abbie would be healed.

However, she was not immediately healed. We thanked God for the healing that was coming and waited and the evangelist added Abbie to his prayer chain. It was a couple of months later that the amazing miracle happened.

Abbie woke up one morning in August 2009 and was completely normal. Every trace of eczema had gone from her body and her skin was silky smooth! It felt like brand new skin! Not only was every trace of eczema completely gone from her entire body but every bit of scarring and discolouring that we had been told was permanent, had vanished too! There was no sign that she had ever had anything wrong with her. Praise the Lord!!

~ Bonnie