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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Loving the Lilacs

On the kitchen table is a vase of purple lilacs and the aroma wafts through not only the dining area, but also the sitting room.  I love it... and normally I have allergies to smelly, perfumy flowers, cleaners, colognes, etc, but lilacs I love.  The lilacs remind me of a beautiful bush we used to have on the end of the driveway when I was a kid in Whitechurch.  It is also the season for lilacs in this neck of the woods.  I feel like I have been spending a lot of time in my car lately, but that's okay because I see God's glory shining all around - in the greenery, the farm land and animals, the spring flowers and the lilac bushes. 

 Lilacs are not the only sweet thing filling my days though. I am reminded lately of how blessed I am. First - with my own family. Jaxsen and Kylee were here for a sleep over on Saturday night and much to Mom's dismay, they stayed awake til I got home from work at 10:20 pm so we could play walkie talkie hide-and-seek and a short scavenger. Their hugs are the best!!

Sunday was another great service at church, where the youth led worship, testimonies were shared, and the sermon challenged us to love one another on a deeper level. To put the love into practise we broke up in to small group after church and shared soup and buns, conversation and prayer.

After church I joined the Dekkema family for a birthday celebration. I am amazed some days at how they have become like family to me. They really ARE an extended family to me and I thank the Lord for the friends who have become great brothers and sisters in the Lord.

 Yesterday I raced from work to Cookstown KOA to spend a lovely evening with my dear friends and former landlords. Wow, they went out of their way to prepare porkchops, baked potatoes, veggies, and salads. Their friendship has always been so encouraging to me and they are great role-models of God's love and wisdom. Together we read Psalm 103 and delighted in God's goodness. As I drove home during sunset, those purple lilacs popped out once again and made me finish the day saying: "Praise the Lord, O my Soul, Praise the Lord!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Planned and Unplanned Encouragement

The day is only half over and already I have been so blessed.  Early this morning I noticed a memo stuck to the kitchen cupboards that I was to call my doctor.  The lab reports had come back and he wanted me to come in and see him - I found out that my iron is really low.  Finally, I might have some answers as to why I've been exhausted lately.  That's only step one though - GI Track test and EENT visit are still coming up.  Pray that they happen soon!

At 10 am I drove over to Coffee Culture to meet with a wonderful couple who serve with Global Recordings and I was super excited about the children's ministry material they have to use in Africa.  I am able to share Bible stories with the Ugandan children in their own languages and that is awesome.  Simple pictures, well laid out plans, and a clear Gospel presentation.  It was a blessing to meeting with others who have been raising support and serving God overseas for over 30 years.

From the coffee shop I drove over to the medical clinic to meet up with my doctor once again.  While sitting in the waiting room, there was only one other lady biding her time as well.  We started chit chatting about the plants in the room and talking about American Idol (due to CNN).  It didn't take long to realize that this wonderful grandmother was a woman of strong faith.  We had twenty minutes to talk and I watched her pray for other patients as they walked out of the doctors office.  She took my prayer card and promised to pray for my time in Uganda and she would send a donation.  Wow, I am so encouraged!!

O, another sweet encouragement this week came from an old friend in the Philippines.  One of the youth I met with often during my time in Cagayan de Oro emailed and said that even though her and her husband can barely get by with the few pesos they have, they want to be a part of the ministry in Soroti.  They are speaking to their church and hope to sell extra crops at the market so they can help support missions in Africa.  Wow, again, I am encouraged to see God's people pull together around the world to spread the Gospel. 

Just for fun, I want to share my favourite song from the Idol finale... it has a theme of how I want to live my life.  We can not plan for the rapture... I want to live each day serving God to my best abilities.




Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"I do Believe in Miracles"

This evening I was reminding myself that "I do believe in miracles, I do!  I do!"  I am trusting God to guide my path and open financial doors for me to go to Uganda.  I asked Dad who originally said that line and he thought Dorothy was asking the wizard in the Wizard of Oz.  An interesting discussion came up on Facebook - as people guessed from Miracle on 34th Street, Annie, Peter Pan, Sister Act and Oz.  Until I see the scene, I won't know who to believe.

In trying to find the clue online though, I have found a few good quotes though that I would like to take to heart:

"Don't believe in miracles - depend on them." - Laurence J. Peter

"How quickly we forget God's great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our past." - David Wilkerson

"I am not embarrassed to tell you that I believe in miracles." - Corazon Aquino

"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see." - C. S. Lewis

"We must not sit still and look for miracles; up and doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ Jesus, will do anything." - George Eliot

"We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too." - John Calvin (Hmm, that's an interesting one to think about!!)

I do believe in miracles. I have seen God work in my life through amazing ways - whether it's providing a tube of toothpaste when I didn't even have two pennies to rub together - or new tires for my car - or gas that remained in the tank like oil in the widow's jar - or a letter in the mail - or a sunny day. 

How have you seen the miracles of God around you?












Monday, May 23, 2011

Left Behind

The car was unpacked just before 9 pm.  I recall seeing him attached to my yellow back pack when I came into the house.  I went straight to my room, remembering that I still had laundry to fold and a bed to make up with fresh sheets before I crashed for the night.  The duvet took a bit of work but eventually the fluffy cover was thrown over the single bed. 
Being side tracked by the computer and then deciding to take a bath it was probably two hours before I started to realize that something was wrong.  I couldn't find him when I was going to bed.  I thought "oh well, I will see him tomorrow", but then, as I was tossing under the covers I knew I needed to have him in my arms yet again.  I started to search: lifting all the covers, checking out the shadowy spots under the bed, turning on all the lights and climbing the stairs, I search out the kitchen and front hall.  No luck.
I went back to my room and sat on the edge of my bed.  Honestly, I started to cry - thinking, "how could I have lost you?" 
A wave of thought crossed my mind.  At 11:47 pm I tip toe outside in my fishy pajamas and creep down the sidewalk.  Rounding the corner of the house I spot my car and a lump on the ground.  Lying in the gutter, beside the back wheel was a sad looking bear.  Face down, he looked so depressed.  I could hear Bones saying "Karebear, how could you leave me behind for so many hours?  I've been all alone, fearing the rain or the strangers.  I forgive you, but please take me inside."
Picking up my snugly teddy bear I walked inside.  "Bones, I am so sorry" I pondered and peacefully went back downstairs to my room in the basement.  I would sleep much better with him tucked under my elbow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Escapades in Hickville


I'm in a strange stage right now...  desiring to be on the mission field in Uganda, but also wanting to be with friends and family here in Canada.  The only way for me to get to Uganda is to raise the $3425 / month that I need in order to live and serve there.  I thank the Lord that I have already been able to raise 33%, but there is a lot more work to be done and a lot more support to come in before I can go to Africa.
This morning I had the privilege of speaking in Lucknow, at the Community CRC, and I was able to share God's stories with friends from my childhood.  I was a member in Lucknow for the first 29 years of my life and many times my heart still belongs in that old church - where I studied catechism and sung hymns from memory.
 Last night I drove into the area... Leaving home at 7 pm, carrying the promise that God is watching over every step of my journey, I drove two hours west to the area of my childhood.
 While journeying on rural roads, I followed the sun.  I passed young Mennonite woman taking an evening stroll on the gravelled sides, noticed that many solar panels were put up on a certain ten mile stretch of the road, and smelled bonfires on farmer's yards.  Joy crossed my face as I was reminded over and over that the Lord is with me, even when the road is long and "boring", and just like solar panels - I need to walk in the power of the SON! 
Last night I tucked into bed with the sound of frogs croaking and maple tree waving it's branches good night.  Waking up to a little rain, I didn't let the weather dampen the fellowship of old friends.  I drove with MumB to church and was able to share my heart for Uganda after the service.  After lunch with some great friends, I went to visit a wonderful couple whom I have loved since my senior year of high school.  Inviting me into their strawberry kitchen, we sipped tea, munched on apples and sweet cinnamon cake, and swapped stories.
 On the way back home I took a short detour and went to sit by the old Bluevale dam.  My brothers and I used to spend many hot summer hours at this dam - jumping off a dock, swinging from a tree, or splashing on the shore.  (Thanks Mom and Dad for taking us to this cool water spot!)
O ya, I just wanted to share this cute picture taken last Sunday - two of my nephews are riding at the park with the Sliedrecht children.... dear kids who call me "Aunt Karen" in Uganda.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Musical Moments

Sunday morning, I was supposed to lead worship, but I could barely sing.  I read portions of Scripture and words of confession, and I was super grateful there was a team there to back me up.  A challenge arose though... I had promised to sing a duet with Tim Sliedrecht to close the sermon.  My throat was sore and from inside my head, I had no idea how it sounded, but here is a glimpse of our song together.


video

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jumbled Hands

The past two weeks in Grand Rapids, MI have been super encouraging for me.  Meeting with team-mates who understand what it is like to prepare for the mission field. Hanging out with former college mates who share great memories of days gone by.  Friends have surrounded me with love and prayer. 

Two nights ago I met with two people who had lived with me during the summer of 2009 when I was in Soroti.  The evening started out super fun - with giggles and conversation, taco salad and enchiladas... then moved on to a game of cards.  Just as I was thinking it was time for me to go, Amos suggested that we pray together.  We sat around the table and all placed our hands in the centre.  God was in our midst  as the prayers went up.  There was a combination of words and silence and a real sense of unity as we met at the Father's feet.

Now I am preparing for a long drive back to Ontario, and praying that I can keep that sense of peace and camaraderie in my heart.  Going with God today!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Facing the Forest

Last night I moved from my dear cousin Judy's house to some friends who are moving to India with International Teams.  Both homes are places of respite and peace for me.  Judy's home is active with four children, but the conversation is always refreshing and the external world amazing.  Situated on a pond, deer march around the property, and geese guard their new goslings.  Now I'm in a quiet home that looks down in to a bushy wetland, even though the house is built in the centre of Grand Rapids, MI.

For 8 days now I have been on the road, visiting with amazing friends and family.  It's hard to catch up with so many people, but God has provided a way.  Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners... Coffee Times and Bible Studies.  It has been humbling to recognize once again that God has placed so many beautiful people in my life.... not just in Grand Rapids, but in Ontario, Uganda, Netherlands, Philippines, etc. 

I will be in GR a few more days.  I am looking forward to catching up with my team-mates who are home from Uganda for a few months, and on Friday night I will be attending an auction sale for the Tiesenga's.  It seems strange not to be writing more, but I am really just learning to rest and fellowshipping with friends from ages past.  My time has been spent with an incredible amount of children, and if I ever get my computer back from the Geek Squad, I hope to upload some photos. 

As I sit here in the Luth's living room, the forest just beyond the bay window reminds me of my future.  I see God in the trees - His glory, majesty, might and delight.  But I also get overwhelmed... I can't see very far and even though it is an exciting adventure to ride in the Palms of God, I am still learning to trust Him one step at a time.  Only the Lord knows when I am supposed to move on and I pray that I will be able to hear His voice and love His people.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cheering for Michigan

Crossing the border into Michigan around noon yesterday, I started getting excited once again.  Not because of the bumpy roads that are in severe need of a renovation in Port Huron, but because I felt like I was coming home.  I went to college for four years in Grand Rapids, and now I was heading to town for 10 days to visit old friends that I love so dearly.  Fun and fundraising is the purpose of this getaway, but I would almost call it a "Staycation" because staying with my cousin Judy and her gorgeous family feels like home to me. 

Besides people, there are a few other reasons why I am cheering for Michigan today:
1. The deer are numerous and pretty.
2. The trees are much greener in spring blooms.
3. Drivers actually line up nicely when forming a single lane in construction, rather than being pushy and trying to get to the front of the pack before cutting in.
4. Gas is cheaper (although not by much).
5. The sun is shining.
6. The Canadian geese are relaxing on the pond right outside "my" bedroom window. 
7. Stamps are cheaper.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Riding with Royalty

Yesterday morning I met 7 other ladies in the church parking lot for a day away.  I was able to drive Dad's Safari van so that all 8 of us could drive together to the Coffee Break rally in Oakville.  There were over 730 women meeting together for a day of worship, fellowship, guest speakers, and entertainment.  I absolutely loved the day away and soaked in the words of the speakers.  Melinda Estabrooks (CTS) shared her amazing story and I would recommend that next year the rally planners place kleenex in each of our programs.  The stories were hard - overcoming abuse, neglect, immigration, hardships, but recognizing God's love, grace, faithfulness, and goodness through it all. 

On the way home, traffic was crawling due to an accident in the distance.  To the right of the van, there was a car load of young men who were pointing at us with curiousity.  They were pointing and chatting excitedly.  Moments later they took a photo of us.  Now, I must admit, I don't know what these young guys were looking at... I thought maybe there was writing on the side of the van or a sign hanging off the back windshield wiper.  We were so curious.  You must realize that I was driving ladies that ranged from their 40's-70's in age, but we all felt like young ladies being hit on.  :)  A while later down the road another vehicle was pointing at us and also smiling.

When I pulled in to the church parking lot at dinner time, we all got out to check the van.  The panels were clean.  The tires were full.  Nothing was hanging on the back.  Everything seemed perfect.... so...

Here is my take on it (especially since it has been a week full of Royal Wedding media):  All eight of us are daughters of the King of kings.  Yes, the princess theme continues on in my life!!  I have a feeling that the guys in the car beside us knew that we were special people.  Royal Princesses! and that made us picture worthy.  I'm hoping they saw the joy of the Lord pouring through the windows of the van as they passed by.