Monday, August 29, 2011

What Are The Signs Saying?

Billboards and signs along the Interstate can preach a mighty message.

The person paying for the advertising wants results.
They want you to buy the right product,
participate in the right activity,
or show the right moral character.

Advertisers know well how to appeal to the thoughts, beliefs and priorities of a region.

We saw various signs along our journeys this summer.

The Montana Department of Transportation had a serious message
for my carefree Beka Boo.

Not raised in Montana, she isn't aware of the danger of rattlesnakes
who love to sun themselves on rocky hillsides.

She doesn't know how to look for the diamond pattern
 or listen for the baby rattle noise.

So, the DOT was diligent in warning of the danger.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is killing two birds
 with one stone, or one rifle, I guess it would be.

Build family togetherness and ensure safe hunting practices by
hunting together as a family.

As one who grew up on venison, grouse, an occasional moose or elk,
I can tell you, it also saves on the family budget.

Yea, who needs to argue this agenda?

Or this one?

For those of you who have almost been hit by a texting freak,
can I hear an AMEN?!?!?!?!

The North Dakota Ethanol Council proudly proclaims on their website~

"Ethanol—North Dakota’s homegrown alternative to foreign oil."
(You haven't heart about E-85?)

Who wouldn't want to cut ties with overseas oil producers?

Plus, ethanol creates industry for the state.
Remember seeing in the newspapers that people were moving
to North Dakota when the recession hit?

ND had jobs.
ND had no debt.

People shouldtake advice from  ND billboards, I think.


Thankfulness is always a character trait we can promote.

Yes, even thought-provoking messages about controversial subjects
can speak to hearts in a few seconds when  you drive by.

The Lord has used signs to speak to us since the foundation of the world.

In the Genesis Creation account, he calls the sun and moon
"signs" for the seasons, days and years.
Yep, they tell us when it's morning and when it's night.
That's an easy one.
A sign to remind.

The Lord gave Moses "signs" to prove to the people he was chosen
to lead the children of Israel out of bondage.
A sign to reaffirm.

In I Samuel, signs were given to Saul after his anointing as king
 prove the Lord's presence in his new role.
A sign to reign.

In the age of grace,
the Lord Jesus rebukes those who always have needed
He asks us to walk by faith and not by sight.
It was distressing to Him that some people came only to
watch the miracle,
and not
experience the miracle
of the new birth.

John 4:48
Then Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,
you will by no means believe.”

Signs were often given to weak people
who wouldn't trust the Lord at His Word,
but the Lord still wanted results.
We shouldn't be people who need signs.
We should read the Scriptures and obey without further affirmation.

Can we just believe Him at His Word?
When we respond to His offer of salvation,
in faith and not sight,
 we become the billboard.

 A Sign of Redemption.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Not a MESSAGE in the Lord's Bottle...

We've all had those nights when
 and pain
rob us of our
and sleep.

The Lord knows the human heart well.
He looks down with tenderness and specifically penned words
to assure us He undersands.

How poetic,
how humbling,
that the God of the Universe,
the Creator,
the Father of our Lovely Savior,
understands the tears of crying humans.

Psalm 6:6
I am weary with my groaning;
all the night make I my bed to swim;
I water my couch with my tears.

He doesn't just notice our tears,
He saves them.

Psalm 56:8
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?

Then, He turns our tears to a tune.

Psalm 77:6
I call to remembrance my song in the night:
I commune with mine own heart:
and my spirit made diligent search.

The last mention of tears in the Holy Scriptures
tells us His final plans for them.

Revelation 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
 neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.

Tears are a normal part of life.

You can make them a normal part of your worship,
as you daily commit what causes you to weep to Him in prayer.

It's when you thank  Him for counting your tears
precious enough to be saved
that your tears become a song in the night.

Then, you have the courage to keep walking in faith,
and waiting,
for His world-creating Hands
to wipe that final tear from your eyes.

That thought is enough to make me weep.

But, it's OK to cry.
I know where my tears are going.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Want to Make Garbage Bars for Desert?

When my lovely daughter, Grace,
heard what I was going to call my desert, she protested.

"Mom, they're supposed to be called Seven Layer Bars,
not Garbage Bars."

But,  I thought my name more aptly described
the  leftovers in opened bags that had somehow eluded
nibbling, craving, snitching fingers in my pantry.

 Oh, and I can't forget the best kind of fingers in the pantry,
the baking fingers.

Jon used the most of the chocolate chips for cookies,
Grace used the coconut to make German sweet chocolate cake,
and the butterscotch chips were so old I don't remember
what the rest were used for.
Don't worry, though, those waxy things are so close to plastic
they can stay in your freezer forever and not change forms.

But, those snitching fingers can leave only enough
of something  so that it's  good for nothing.

Speaking of snitching fingers,
when all of my Mom's six kids moved out of the house,
she was mystified that her chocolate chips still disappeared.

Dad, you are so busted!

Back to the Garbage Bars.

Take one package of graham crackers and smash them into crumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt one stick of butter in a 9x12 pan,
watch carefully,  it burns easily,
and who can afford to throw out a whole stick of butter?
OK, I only had to do that once,
the last time I made the bars.

With a fork, mix in the graham crackers crumbs,
lightly patting them down.

I don't have a picture, but I think you can figure out the next step.

and drizzle it all over the crumb crust.

Don't go all the way to the edge,
it becomes like caramel when you bake it,
and you'll never get them out of the pan.

Take your opened bags of garbage ingredients and sprinkle them evenly on top.
There wasn't enough of anything to use in any other recipe.

I had to make the ancestral mantra
Waste Not Want Not come alive again.

The real recipe is basically two cups of chips
and whatever else you want.

I use 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate,
and 1 cup of butterscotch, vanilla or peanut butter chips.

You can use  1 cup of  nuts, but I never do. 
Nuts are for squirrels.

I have used little caramel bits, toffee bits,
and this time I cut up extra candy bars into little pieces.

Oh, except for the half of the Almond Joy.
Rebekah Joy ended up eating that.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
The edges need to be golden and the middle can't be soupy.

I always cut off the edges and let the kids nibble on them,
then cut the rest into smaller squares because they're pretty sweet.

If I'm hiding them from the family in the freezer,
not meaning my family is in the freezer,
but the bars are going in the freezer
so the family's nibbling, craving, snitching fingers
can't find them before their time,
I layer them between waxed paper in my 8x8 Tupperware.

They will stay fresh in the freezer for as long as you family doesn't find them.

To save time, I've even been known to make and freeze the crumbs
and keep them on hand in case I need a quick desert.

Ya' know what I love the most about this recipe?
You don't really have to follow it.

You take whatever you have, put it in the heat,
and melt it into deliciousness.

It makes me think about
our gifts,
our desires,
our ambitions,
our talents,
and our abilities.

Today's Christianity may tell you about the degrees you need,
the experience you need, the vast talent you need to serve the Lord.
Most of us moms can't remember to comb our hair in a day
or how we were going to end our sentence.

What do we have to offer Him?

Whatever opened items we have.
An open home, even if it isn't clean and organized.
An open heart, even if it isn't fully mature.
An open ear, able to hear His voice.
An open Bible, with a  desire to know His will.
An open embrace, willing to draw near those He brings your way.
An open mouth, unashamed of the Gospel.
An open calendar,
an open checkbook,
an open mind,
an open   __________.

What do you have?

Don't let the enemy get his snitching fingers in there,
and make you think that you have so little of something
that you're good for nothing.

Mix your open ingredients and apply the heat of the Father's love.
He will prepare something amazing.

I promise.

It won't be garbage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sharing Some Blessing

Last year was a pretty hard year for our family.
We had a few severe trials.

As I am preparing for a new year,
I found myself a little fearful...
...a little worried about what the year would hold.

I'm usually not a worrier.
I don't like to give something to the Lord in prayer,
and take it back with worry.

I usually don't fear the future,
I trust Him for the path ahead.
I've even walked through times past where I had to take a step
and there wasn't even ground underfoot

For a few days fear and worry clouded my spiritual sight.

I began asking the Lord to speak to me through verses on prayer,
so I could trust anew that
He'll hear and answer my prayers.

I also encouraged myself that
trials are good.
Trials are not a surprise to the Lord,
nor are they out of His will.
They are for His purpose and His glory.

I've also spend purposeful time listening to music
that will speak the Truth of God's Word to my heart.

At the recent funeral of a dear friend, Becca,
another friend Jessica, from Blessed Beyond Measure,
beautifully sang "Blessings" by Laura Story.

Most of you probably have heard it.

But you might not have heard the story behind the song.

She shares her amazing testimony of the trial that led her to
write and record this song.

If that isn't enough encouragement, you can read her bio here.

This song was written as a result of spiritual and physical agony,
when she and her husband found the answers they needed
from the heart of the Lord,
they poured this out to others.

Do you think her suffering has borne a lot of fruit?

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
 who comforts us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 
 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us,
 so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

Hmmm....was that the Lord's plan from the beginning?

It was the plan for His Son,
to use His sufferings to minister to others in need.

It can help us look at
our trials,
our sufferings,
our testings,
our struggles,
in a little different light.

If we turn to the Lord in all these hard things,
someday our sufferings will be used in the lives of others.

Instead of fear and worry,
I'm ready again to walk in faith into the new year.

Even if there isn't ground underneath my feet

Making your home sing Mondays

Thursday, August 18, 2011

North Dakota Girl at Heart

In my heart, I'm a North Dakota girl.
 I was born in Valley City, ND
and graduated from...

(with high school best friend, Janet Schill)

and attended college at

in Grand Forks.



Three of my children were born in Fargo,
#1, #5 and #6.
 In between I've moved around,
but have lived there 22 years, a little less than half my life.

Some things have changed, others haven't.

The countryside around Highway 1 traveling from Lakota to Langdon
used to be picturesque farmland. 
You'd see acres of wheat, wheat and more wheat.

There'd be a rock pile on the corner of each field,
but otherwise, crops as far as the eyes could see.

That isn't what you see anymore.

This is what you see along the ditches.


And this.

There's cattails everywhere because there's water everywhere.
Duh, you might say.

But, this isn't a lake, it's one of many flooded fields.
There's been an increase in precipitation, obviously.

Lakes and rivers are threatening towns and homes across the state
 as they expand beyond their normal boundaries.

Even  Interstate 94 the west side of the state is threatened.

Back to the cattails.

Beka was so thrilled to see her first real-live cattail
we stopped at an approach and played quietly in the ditch for a minute.

You can do that in North Dakota.

It was one of those "city girl meets the country"
kinda' moments.

Holding her cattail like a corndog while trying to stand upright in the wind.

Guess what blurred the picture?
Can't guess?
My hair.
My windblown, tangled, mangled mess.

Another thing that doesn't change in North Dakota.
Road construction.
All the metal culverts rusted out, they're replacing them with concrete culverts.
Or would that be cement?

I don't know, but I know the new ones won't rust out.

Another thing that hasn't changed?
The wind.
See those straggly strands?
My hair, again.
I was trying to shoot a better picture
and my hair was whipping around my head like spaghetti in a blender.
Another thing that hasn't changed in ND...
I have a bad hair day EVERY day.

North Dakotans figured out one way to deal with the wind problem.

Wind farms are springing up across the state,
generating energy and a little revenue for the landowners.

As far as bad hair,

there's no solution.

Sadly, there's no solution for the water issue yet,

and it's only getting worse.

Ya' know that whole thing about when life gives you lemons...
if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...

Well, I think I have an idea.

Didja' know you can eat cattails?
One expert claims they're a cross between zucchini and cucumbers.

North Dakotans could harvest the cattails and
open up restaurants with delicacies like
cattail bread
cattail sandwiches
cattail and tomato salad
cattails on a stick
fried cattails
sauteed cattails
grilled cattails...

...and all the restaurants would be floating restaurants,
hovering over the flooded farmlands.

Everybody would be elegantly dining on
sumptuous cattail delights,
watching the hypnotical whirl of the wind towers,
listening to the gentle lap of the waves against the building,
but having really, really, really
bad hair.


Praying friends, please pray with me today for the
 Innocent Man.

If you've been reading my blog since Valentine's Day,
you might know that a dear Christian brother has been
falsely accused
of a crime he did not commit.

He's looking at 12 to 60 years in jail.
(12 years was the initial plea bargain
offered to avoid trial)

In the midst of our despair, we found

The Lord gave me Isaiah 61:1
as my verse for this trial.

We didn't realize how lengthy the legal process can be,
but we've been assured we're on a speedy path.
When you're agonizing over the outcome,
six months doesn't seem speedy.

Today is the preliminary trial.
August 18th, 11:30am Pacific time.

Please pray.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two Brides, Two Bridegrooms

There isn't a more beautiful God-ordained union
than the marriage of a man and a woman.
From the beginning, God planned for two lives to completely entwine
with His, making a cord of three.

Genesis 2:24
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother,
and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh."

It's even more beautiful when you understand
 the earthly union is symbolic of the heavenly union.
We're told in Ephesians 5 that marriage is a picture
of our eternal salvation,
those that trust the Lord are the bride of Christ,
the Lord Jesus is the Heavenly Bridegroom.

Ephesians 5: 31-32
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother,
and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

On July 23rd I had the privilege of celebrating

 two brides
two bridegrooms.

Isenija has been a dear family friend for years. 
She began attending our kids Bible club years ago,
trusted Christ as her Savior,
and has been a radiant testimony for Him.

She met Shane during a Gospel outreach.

 The cliche,
a match made in Heaven,
is true for this lovely couple.

This beautiful bride was joined to her bridegroom
in front of many rejoicing people.

There were tears of joy in celebration knowing
the Lord brought together a couple who will bring Him much glory and honor.

They're a beautiful representation of the earthly union,
a man and woman pledging themselves together for life.

That same day,
some of us were touched by another bride and bridegroom.

A precious believer  met her Heavenly bridegroom
face to face.

Our dear sister in the Lord,
Rebecca Rankin,
went home to be with Him,

leaving behind her earthly bridegroom, Dustin,
two beautiful little girls, Gabi and Karis,
a large family,
and an even larger group of friends.

We grieve, but only for ourselves.
Her fight against lung cancer is over.
Her pain is over.
She will never again suffer,
never again weep.

You might be asking why I would put these two events in the same post...
why not put the wedding in one,
the funeral in another?

My heart was impressed to view these events from the Lord's heart.
We look at the first occasion as pure joy,
the second occasion as pure sorrow.

The Lord said,
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing."

But He also said,
"Precious in the sight of the death is the death of his saints."

Finding a godly earthly bridegroom is a wonderful thing,
but isn't meeting our heavenly Bridegroom better?
The love Shane showed watching Isenija walk down the aisle towards him
is only a shadow, a representation
of what the Lord felt when He brought Becca to Himself.

He loves her.
He sent His Son to die for her.
He longed to have her in His presence.
But, to fulfill the desire of His heart,
He had to break our hearts.

we know by faith  Becca has great gain.

The loss is only felt by those of us left on earth.
Rebecca's homecalling leaves a great void in many lives,
many hearts, many spiritual walks.

During her funeral service, the minister
speculated there'd be many little girls named after Rebecca.
There already are.
After working with her at Box T Bible Camp
we were so impressed
we named out last daughter
Rebekah Joy
with the desire that our daughter would be as faithful
as this dear friend.

But, by faith, in the depths of my heartbreak,
I choose to believe the Scriptures,
 this is in the Lord's plan,
this is for good.
I choose to not let my heartache
cloud the truth that Rebecca is at the feet of Jesus,
worshipping His Holy name,
singing praises in her voice that is
not longer cumbered by coughing and disease.

So, I am choosing to rejoice and praise the Lord for

two brides
two bridegrooms.


Jessica, a dear friend of mine and also
Becca's best friend,
bore her heart through the final celebrations
in her blog, Blessed Beyond Measure.

If you're interested,
click on the links to see how the Lord has been given
the glory due His Holy Name.



Becca blogged at A Cracked Pot.

Here is her first blog.

I've been rereading her life story,
but since I don't know any fancy bookmarking technique,
I just email myself the last link I read so I can keep reading.
Even though you know how the story ends,
it will be encouraging to read.