Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Should You Go First

L.B. Cowman's Consolation continues to be a tremendous source of encouragement for me. This poem is from today's entry:

Should You Go First
Should you go first and I remain
  To walk the road alone,
I'll live in memory's garden, dear,
  With happy days we've known.
In Spring, I'll wait for roses red,
  In Summer - lilacs blue;
In Autumn, when the brown leaves call
  I'll catch a breath of you.

Should you go first and I remain
  For battles to be fought,
Each thing you've touched along the way
  Will be a hallowed spot.
I'll hear your voice, I'll see your smile,
  Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
  Will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain
  To finish with the scroll,
No length'ning shadows shall creep in
  To make this life seem droll.
We've known so much of happiness,
  We've had our cup of joy;
Ah, memory is one gift of God
  That death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain
  One thing I'd have you do:
Walk slowly down the path of death,
  For soon I'll follow you.
I'll want to know each step you take,
  That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
  You'll hear me call your name.

by A.K. Rowswell

My heart needed courage to move forward alone and God used this poem to encourage me to do so. His timing is perfect!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Take Them A Meal

Have you been called to minister to a family in need with hot homemade meals? If so, Take Them A Meal is a quick and effective way to organize a meal schedule for someone and their family. Instead of the time consuming task of making phone calls to fill in names on a calendar, just create a meal schedule on their website and e-mail or even post on Facebook or a blog (such as a CaringBridge site) the link, person's last name and passcode to those that may be interested in ministering in the same way. It's easy! It's amazing how quickly a calendar fills up with very little effort. It's a great way to help someone that just had a baby or death in their family as well as someone that is recovering from surgery or going through treatment. Check it out!

Friday, July 23, 2010


It's been a busy week of Vacation Bible School at our church!

The boys and over 500 other kids had fun at Kidz BLAST where they learned to Believe, Love, Adore, Serve and Trust. This fun-filled week included worship, Bible stories, games, crafts, snacks and a missions project that raised over $3100 for Living Water International, an organization that helps poverty-stricken countries acquire clean water.

I served on the 5th and 6th grade crafts team which was a fun and enjoyable change of pace for me.

We had a blast!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dirty Dog

Belle was naughty today, but she had fun and made us laugh!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grief Share

Do you know about Grief Share? It's a community of people that helps those who have lost a loved one heal from their loss by connecting them to support groups, seminars, personal studies and books. There's even a daily devotional, A Season of Grief, that is free via e-mail. I like starting my day with a hot cup of coffee and a comforting and encouraging e-mail from them in my in-box. Check it out!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

National Ice Cream Day

Do you know today is National Ice Cream Day? Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

Kent liked ice cream a lot, so our freezer was (and still is) always stocked. The boys looked forward to eating some with him almost every night. Blue Bunny cookies & cream and mint chocolate chip as well as my mother-in-law's homemade graham cracker have always been favorites in our house, but we like plain chocolate and vanilla too. We recently made my paternal grandma's homemade strawberry and it was good too . . . even without fresh cream! Last but not least, we've always liked spur-of-the-moment drives on a hot, humid afternoon or evening to Dairy Queen for some soft serve.

Tonight we finished a quart of key lime pie which was last week's flavor of the week at Tastee Top, a revived classic right down the road from where I grew up.

So what's your favorite ice cream?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our camper is home!

After being gone for a week, J and other 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders from our church came home today from Twin Lakes Camp where they kept busy with creek walks, a water zip line, swimming, boating, archery, crafts and, of course, chapel, devotions and prayer. One of J's favorite activities was the mud pit. He's such a boy! Aside from being cold at night and a little homesick, he had a great time in God's great outdoors. We're glad he's home though, because we missed him!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Solitary Way

I'm far from alone at church, but it's where I feel lonely more than anywhere else. I miss walking into the building as a family of five, having help dropping off and picking up the boys in their Sunday School rooms, sitting next to someone during the service and talking about the message on the way home. I even miss being a passenger in our truck! I may look and sound okay, but my heart is still hurting.

Miriam Neff, a widow, author and speaker, once said "loneliness is not descriptive enough of the space that becomes the cocoon of the widow". This is so true.

This poem is from today's entry in L.B. Cowman's Consolation:

A Solitary Way

There is a mystery in human hearts;
And though we be encircled by a host
Of those who love us well, and are beloved,
To every one of us, from time to time,
There comes a sense of utter loneliness:
Our dearest friend is stranger to our joy,
And cannot realize our bitterness.
There is not one who really understands,
Not one to enter into all I feel:
Such is the cry of each of us in turn;
We wander in a solitary way.
No matter what or where our lot may be;
Each heart, mysterious even to itself,
Must live its inner life in solitude.

And would you know the reason why this is?
It is because the Lord desires our love:
In every heart He wishes to be first.
He therefore keeps the secret key Himself,
To open all its chambers and to bless
With perfect sympathy and holy peace,
Each solitary soul that comes to Him.
So when we feel this loneliness, it is
The voice of Jesus saying, "Come to me";
And every time we are not understood,
It is a call to us to come again;
For Christ alone can satisfy the soul,
And those who walk with Him from day to day,
Can never have a solitary way.

And when beneath some heavy cross you faint,
And say, I cannot bear this load alone,
You say the truth. Christ made it purposely
So heavy that you must return to Him.
The bitter grief, which no one understands,
Conveys a secret message from the King,
Entreating you to come to Him again.
The Man of Sorrows understands it well;
In all points tempted, He can feel with you.
You cannot come too often, or two near -
The Son of God is infinite in grace,
His presence satisfies the longing soul,
And those who walk with Him from day to day,
Can never have a solitary way.

This poem came at a time when my heart desperately needed to be comforted and encouraged in my loneliness.

Loneliness is a gift. It's a nudge to assess and possibly re-align the priorities in our walk with Christ and it can draw us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. It's so comforting and encouraging to know I can find in Jesus what I can't find in anyone else.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blueberry Pickin'

E and N had fun picking blueberries at Zylstra's Blueberry Farm today. It was really hot and humid and there were lots of mosquitoes, but we still picked 10 pounds. We're looking forward to making and eating blueberry coffee cake, pancakes, jam, smoothies and popsicles.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Half-Way Home

We didn't caravan home from Nebraska with anyone, so we stopped half-way in Iowa to visit my sister and her family. The boys had fun with their cousins splashing around at their small town's pool. We were even able to watch their church's Vacation Bible School program. It was a short but fun visit!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Farm

We've been in Nebraska at my in-laws' farm with lots of family for the last week where the boys have had fun traipsing around with grandpa looking for work to be done. They've become really good at spotting and digging up musk thistles (or carduus nutans), an invasive weed, in the pastures. J can even drive everyone around on the Polaris Ranger for this task. The boys had fun taking a break from farm work to play with their first, second and third cousins but, as usual, were anxious to return to the farm for their favorite pastime of riding and driving tractors. J even learned how to drive the '62 Ford 2000 which is a nostalgic tractor at this family farm.

It's Belle's first time at the farm and she has had fun here too. She likes jumping in and out of the cattle tank to cool down . . . well, except when the cattle are in the corral. She keeps her distance from them and barks a lot. Most of all though, she likes the fresh air and wide open space.

She has been just as tuckered out as the boys at the end of each day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blueberry Popsicles

Do you know July is National Blueberry Month?

Here's a great recipe:

Blueberry Popsicles
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup skim milk
sugar to taste
8 5-ounce paper cups
8 wooden craft sticks

Blend blueberries, yogurt, milk and sugar until smooth. Pour mixture into eight 5-ounce paper cups. Place foil over the top of each cup. Pierce the center of foil and insert a wooden craft stick as the handle.

Freeze up to six hours. Before serving, dip cups in warm water for a few seconds. Remove paper and foil.

My boys really like these!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Famous Couple of Tractors

Three of the family tractors were in a 4th of July parade today. In line with the Famous Couples theme, our entry was A Famous Couple of Tractors: Henry Ford and Minnie Moline, so my nephew drove the the '51 8N Ford and my father-in-law drove the '57 Minneapolis Moline 335.

I led them with the '58 MM 5 Star pulling a wagon full of family which won first place!

This is the third year in a row we've been in this parade. It's a lot of fun!

Our Freedom

Happy 4th of July!

Like most Americans on this day, we like gatherings with family and friends, parades, cook-outs and fireworks, but the true meaning of this day in history is not far from our hearts.

Dear God,

There is no greater feeling of liberation than to experience this freedom from sin and death that You have provided for me through Jesus Christ. Today my heart and soul are free to praise You. For this I am very thankful.

On this Independence Day, I am reminded of all those who have sacrificed for my freedom following the example of your Son, Jesus Christ. Let me not take my freedom, both physical and spiritual, for granted. May I always remember that my freedom was purchased with a very high price. My freedom cost others their very lives.

God, today, bless those who have served and continue to give their lives for my freedom. With favor and bounty, meet their needs and watch over their families.

Help me to live my life in a way that glorifies you, God. Give me the strength to be a blessing in someone else’s life today and grant me the opportunity to lead others into the freedom that can be found in knowing Jesus Christ.


Author Unknown

This Independence Day prayer really resonates with my heart!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Our Hope in Christ

This is today's entry in L.B. Cowman's Consolation, a timeless devotional that ministers to the hearts of those that have lost a loved one.

For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Those who died in Christ shall be forever reunited with us who wait for Him and them. They shall come with Him. "God will bring them." We, on the other hand, if we are living at the supreme moment, shall be changed and caught up to meet Him, and then, all one in Christ, we shall be forever with Him to go out no more forever.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words
1 Thessalonians 4:18

Sometimes you went away
For just a little while,
And I could scarcely wait
To see again your smile.
I listened for your step,
My hand was on the door,
And what a joy it was
To have you back once more.

One day you said "Goodbye,"
And went to see the King,
His beauty to behold
And precious sheaves to bring;
In eagerness I wait
The while I feel my lack.
I'm looking hour by hour
To see you both come back.

by Edith L. Mapes

Mrs. Cowman is a widow herself and has quite a gift of ministering to the grieving hearts of other widows. These verses are so comforting and encouraging. In fact, two verses preceeding these three are on Kent's head marker though in the NIV version:

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

I'm so thankful for the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ! Even though our hearts grieve the loss of those that leave this earth to join their Lord and Savior before us, we know we'll see them again.