Zigger Zaggers and Other Unexpected Christmas Blessings

“Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us! That we can become the children of God! And that is who we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him ” I John 3:1

I love the Christmas season as we remember to prepare for Christ’s second coming as well as taking joy and delight in remembering His first coming to fulfill so many of God’s promises. The challenges we have are temporary even though sometimes it seems like it is taking an awfully long time to come up with a solution to the challenges!

One thing our family has learned to do over the years it to put outings and breaks on our calendar regardelss of the current challenge we are facing. Taking a break helps us refocus and have the mental and physical space to access whats going on and what are steps each one of us needs to take.  Many times, rest is the first order of business and eating healty food as well as seeking the support of friends who can pray with us and for us. Sometimes friends have experience or suggestions that help us stay on the best path as we keep on moving in the direction of doing the next right thing.  Rest,  fun and cultivation a good sense of humor,  help fuel resilence and flexiblity. We have often found that in the midst of our pain and disappoinment, we can move from misery to ministry as we keep the focus on God as our Provider.  

 A family tradition is to go to Cannon Beach Conference Center for Thanksgiving. Walks and talks on the beach, good food, an excellent speaker, Ron Cline,  who reminds us that “our battle is not against flesh and blood”  and importance of putting on the belt of Gods truth is of absolute importance!  www.cbcc.net has an audio library of speakers from the past many years.  Lots of good wisdom there!

This year we also had planned for our annual “Perfect Christmas Tree Hunt” to be on December 7 .We had a busy couple of days cleaning out the area for the tree to go and reaaranging things in our house and getting rid of more stuff. SInce I have been sick for the past four months, perhaps it is not too surprising that a lot of things have not been done.  I hired some extra help and we made some good progress. Another lesson I have learned is the value of asking for help and scheduling help.  In the best of times, it is more fun to have friends to work with and a new set of eyes often sees solutions that I miss if I keep pushing forward in my own strength. 

 We attended a local annual Ladies Christmas Tea. The ambiance of the church as they decorated carefully and provided an assortment of savory and sweet treats while intermitantly shopping at the silent auction, set the stage for conversations with friends and acquaintances life’s busyness has pushed away.   I love the singing and the personal stories shared by the guest speaker each year. This year, we had a few extra friends come and enjoy the evening with us.

The Stonewater Ranch Youth Dynamics Christmas Party was a delightful time meeting Clairesse’s co-workers,  playing games, making “sleighs” out of candy canes and other christmas shaped candies, a baked potato potluck and a white elephant gift exchange.  We continued the evening with a trivia game and a Ticket to Ride boatd game.  Sunday morning, we enjoyed Jeffs famous Paleo panckes, packed up and had a short walk in the snow prior to heading back over the mountain to prepare for Jeff’s second cateract surgery. 

We continue to apply the principle of looking for the good things in the midst of life challenges. More to come later

Car crashes and God’s Redirection

img_5947Auto accidents are no fun. They are never convenient nor can they be planned for.  We got the call as we left Moses Lake and Fiddle Camp that our son was in a car accident. We were hours away and he sounded confused and uncertain.  I called a local friend who was able to go and meet him while we drove that direction. How thankful I am for friends who will drop everything and just come!

The car was totaled and adding another dimension of management to my life. Now, in addition to helping my husband sort through his head, hand and shoulder work injuries, a looming medical layoff and retirement details, my son needed to see additional doctors for his head for concussion and his hand that had glass embedded in it. the paramedics did not take him to the hospital for evaluation. Follow up was up to us.  I am so grateful for a good insurance that continues to cover his recovery!  God was really watching out for him from the looks of his car.

Disappointment as this delayed his completing his CDL training as he healed from a concussion and hand injuries. No video, low light and rest quietly. How to do that? God provides in little and big ways.  Our insurance reimbursed for towing charges and is continuing to pay for his doctor appointments. His car was worth enough that he paid it off with the insurance money. Completing his training he is walking the faith walk necessary to find a new job. He got his truck running and his progress continues. God is providing.

Roadblocks to my plans happen in many different ways. After Fiddle camp, I planned to practice music and prepare to record songs I do with kids and a Christmas CD for when we play out.  I planned to write more blog posts, attend the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and follow through with whatever I learned to do there.   I want to learn how to do a whole lot of things.  Just before the conference began, a chronic ear infection that I have been dealing with for the past 2 and 1/2 years flared up. I went to the Oregon Christian Writers Conference taking oral and topical antibiotics. I could barely hear out of my left ear. I did what I could and attended insightful sessions and met some really interesting and encouraging people. I tried to sit so I could hear out of my best ear.  My fatigue level was a handicap but I pressed on while taking a break daily for a nap.  I purchased a new computer I need to learn more about how to use both for writing and recording. At home, I continued to prepare our yard and house to put on the market by taking loads to the recycle, dump and thrift stores.  I gave my goats away because my energy was so negatively impacted.   Preditors carried off my chickens and duck. It seemed like my load was being lightened somewhat. Meanwhile, I’ve helped Jeff to do many things to do as he navigated a medical layoff, forced early retirement and continuing work to help him heal.

A new doctor asked me how long I’ve had a heart murmur. A heart murmur??? No one had ever told me I had a heart murmur.  In preparation for our annual summer week at Cannon Beach Conference Center, she asked me to keep track of how I responded to my beach walks – how was I breathing? Was I able to set the pace or was I lagging behind?  She ordered a culture on my ears. I went to the beach for the last week of summer. For 25 years I have taken early walks to Haystack rock.  I did not waking up at 6:30 to go for walks. I was slowing the pace, stopping to catch my breath and taking daily naps.  My weight had been creeping back up after I had lost over 100 pounds.  Even after many doctors’ appointments, no one had any answers for me even though something was clearly wrong.  The best most of the doctors could recommend was for me to eat less, exercise more and reduce stress in my life.  No one really had any great advice about how to do that with the various challenges my family members face.

A short while later, the results came in that my ear infection is a combination of bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections. Shocked, I prayed for wisdom on what to do next.  I have spent most of my life studying healthy living and choosing to eat healthy foods.  I felt impressed to call Dr. Russell Kolbo at the Mt. Rainier Clinic.  He gave me a free 15-minute consultation on the phone.  He knew exactly what to do.  Just days before we were to fly to Anchorage,  God opened the door for me to see him, get more labs drawn, test our home for mold using a mold kit from Home Depot, complete a stool sample to mail off and follow his therapy prescription twice before getting on a plane for Alaska. He warned me after the first Ozone IV and lavage that I might feel sick because it was killing the yeast, bacteria, and fungus. I remembered my internship with Dr. Jennifer Huntoon years ago training me in how import intestinal detoxification is. This led me to go to Fred Meyer nutrition center in Anchorage to pick up Sonnes Bentonite clay and psyllium seed as well as distilled water. I began making this “cocktail” twice a day in my shaker jar with a Plexus Slim packet. I added Buffered Vitamin C powder, collagen,  Plexus Pro Bio 5 and Bio Cleanse.   I looked up colon therapy in the Anchorage area and found Tina Williams who got me in for an Ionic Footbath.   She gave me a stack of books and pamphlets to read and recommended the book “One Cause, Many Ailments”  by Dr. John O. A. Pagano to read. She shared the story of her battle with a systemic yeast infection. Her story is on her website “Feel Better Naturally” She said she was glad I was working with Dr. Kolbo and I needed to go home and “do whatever he tells you to do.” I read the book cover to cover marking things that stood out to me as we went to meet our cruise ship.

This was a very different cruise for me as instead of walking laps on board ship, taking music classes and interacting with other guests,  I slept fourteen hours a day.  I got up for meals and to see the glaciers.  I met a few new friends from Australia and Jeff had to plan our excursions. We never made it to any of the sit-down dinners and we did not go dancing. Partly due to the fact that the “scenic cruising through the glaciers” coincided with dinner each night.  Who wants to go get dressed up for dinner when they can go see glaciers, whales, walrus, seals and other things? At any rate, I was much too tired to do what I would normally have done.

My next appointment with Dr. Kolbo revealed I was flunking DHEA and Hormones.  I embarked on a new course of therapies including new supplements for DHEA, hormones and a mold remedy made based on the mold test we did from our home.    I continued Ozone IV with UVI light and ear lavage with Ozone.  My ears improved and my energy only slightly. While preparing me one day the nurse noticed my increasingly high blood pressure and my erratic heartbeats.  She asked another nurse to come and count to double-check what she was hearing.  Perhaps another reason for my fatigue.  The doctor added another IV for the arrhythmia after running an EKG on me.  Further roadblocks as my mind struggled to comprehend what was happening to me.  I added other therapy to help heal my body. Infrared sauna, massage, Bowen, colonic irrigation, cardio tests, myofascial massage and visits with other doctors and therapists. Every day became full of something to do or someone to see or someplace to get to.

I notified people that I am on a “health sabbatical”.  This meant giving up music classes, tutoring and subbing in the public schools, Bible Study Fellowship as my doctor and therapy appointments, as well as my energy,  often prevent me from going. I miss my goats and chickens, playing with my fiddle friends and preparing for Christmas Farmers Markets as we get closer to the Christmas season.  I miss my “young friends” and working in my garden. Yet I see the provision of God in many ways.  My Cannon Beach friends Kathy and Tom who have let me and my daughter stay at their home for a night or two each week so we can be closer to the clinic. My husband who is having to learn how to do a lot of things around the house as well as dealing with his own doctors and therapists for his work-related injuries and recovery.  My neighbor helps with our Airbnb and my daughter does too. My son looking for work until he is delivering packages for UPS while following his recovery protocols for auto and work injuries. Times of healing can feel pretty isolating!

The world seems to spin out of control. To say that our year has not gone the way I expected would be an understatement.  Everywhere I look, articles I read seem to indicate that the world is not the safe, sane and peaceful place I would like to experience.  People are sick, governments are not listening to their people, Israel is being bombed again and I am not able to do a thing about any of it. I am reminded of Psalm 37:1-13  “Fret not because of evildoers or be envious of those who do wrong. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good. Dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture. Also, delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD. Trust in Him and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness go out as the light and your justice as the noonday sun. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently Him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in the way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.  Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Don’t fret, it only leads to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. For yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more. Yes, though you look for his place, he isn’t there.  But the humble shall inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The LORD will laugh at him, for He sees that his day is coming.”

I can only do the next right thing. I can do my “work heartily as unto the LORD. Knowing that from the LORD I will receive the inheritance in Christ Jesus.”  I am grateful for the reminders for recent sermons about preaching the Gospel as well as living the Gospel.  As I am in contact with other new and different people, I pray that what I do and say shows them that Jesus loves them and He did the Gospel.  The true Gospel is that no matter what I do or say, I am not good enough and I do not do enough good things to make myself right in the eyes of the Highest and HOLY God.  Only the blood of Jesus can do that.  I am grateful that He chose to be the living sacrifice for my sin. I am so grateful it only takes “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “Confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9) that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Christ died for our sins. He was buried and He rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. (ICorinthians15:3,4)

He came to bring healing and peace to the most important part of me  – my heart.  One thing I notice in the Book of Acts is how persecution served to move people around to different places so that the Gospel could be taught. Maybe that is what is happening for me. I learned in October that my heart needs to be healed physically as it was determined I had a minor heart attack which caused an irregular heartbeat  I am so thankful for God’s direction to a doctor who not only knew what to do for the systemic infection I have been dealing with, he also knew what to do to help my irregular heartbeat. He started me on a series of minerals and other things that brought healing nutrition directly to the part of me that needed it the most. Jesus does the same thing – if we ask Him – through His Holy Spirit and the study of God’s Word.   He has already healed my heart spiritually.  It appears that while it is being healed physically,  this situation has placed me and my daughter in situations that we would not have chosen but we get to share the fragrance of Jesus where ever we go.  This is something to be truly thankful for in this season.



Fiddle Camp – Start to Finish

We escaped to the Washington Old Time Fiddler camp in Moses Lake, Washington. I wasn’t sure we’d make it this year with Clairesse, our main family fiddler, up at Stonewater Ranch and Jeff’s hand, head and shoulder injuries. I came home from our family reunion longing for people to play with me without it being a performance based situation. I believe music is meant to be participatory rather than just observational. I also have seen the value of music in treating various injuries and have observed its value in playing with kids and families as well with Jeff’s mom, my parents and others at nursing facilities. I figured playing the mandolin for Jeff would help him exercise his left hand as he reached for the notes and runs and would help his brain have to work and help the Post Concussion issues. If nothing else, we’d have a good time in our classes and catching up with friends as well as dancing. Most of the old time tunes are dance tunes anyway.

We did stop and see Clairesse at Youth Dynamics Stonewater Ranch. We enjoyed dinner and catching up with her camp adventures as well as good hug.

We pulled into the Moses Lake Christian Academy parking lot greeting fiddle friends as we made our way to chose our camp site.

We moved into the shade the next morning as Moses Lake is known for hot summer days.

Sunday we saw everyone else starting to come in and set up for the week. The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Camp is one of the best deals around for music instruction for people of all ages. Adults and youth, as young as 4 years old, can take fiddle, mandolin guitar, banjo or string bass. There is even a music and movement class for little people and their parents to enjoy together. The price is kept down by the various district fundraisers for scholarships for kids to come. Free camping on the school grounds with showers next door at the athletic center make it a good place to sleep. The jam sessions lull everyone to sleep while there is always a fiddlers or two who starts jamming around 7:30 or so.

Almost my favorite thing is seeing the children and families coming in for the classes to start. It is fun to see the love of music bringing people of all ages together and overcoming the generational barriers for at least the week. Monday morning is the one day that everyone has to meet together to go over the plan for the week and meet all the teachers. This year Corrine Agnew asked for a show of hands for how many years people have been coming. There were a few that had been coming since the start.

I started my week in the Lower Intermediate Fiddle class while Jeff went into the Intermediate Mandolin class. Part of the choice was due to just registering on the Thursday before camp started. My class was a bit to easy for me so I switched to Roberta Pearce’s Intermediate Fiddle while Jeff finished the day in his mandolin class going over applied mandolin theory. The next day, he moved back to the Advanced Beginner class as he discovered with his Post Concussion Syndrome, he had difficulty with the runs and such. Time to review the basics and feel successful. It’s camp after all and camp is supposed to be fun. In my class, I was overwhelmed with the challenges of double stops, slides and slurs. But Roberta Pearce took the measures apart and made each section make sense. Plus in a class of 31 all playing at the same time, I felt like I sounded pretty good!

Lunch is al fresco while we listen to a serenade by a fellow student.

We signed up for a ukulele workshop that was a lot of fun! Jeff has experience because he played in junior high in Hawaii. Particularly appropriate is Jeff’s Hawaiian shirt for the class!

Two nights this week there were square and folk dancing with a few opportunities to waltz. Jeff and I took full advantage of this opportunity. Dancing to live music is the best! [wpvideo 4AlcsUFL ]Other opportunities for music this week include a band scramble in which participants put their name and instrument in a hat and then they are picked out and a band is created. The participants have about 20 minutes to decide on what they are going to play. Then there is a show. Another night “bands” made up of families or friends or whatever, play and the audience votes for the “best band” with one dollar bills. The last night of camp, the teachers give a concert to showcase their skills. This show is a hard one for us to sit still and listen. Several teachers took National at the Fiddle contest in Weezer, Idaho this year. The Clarinet polka was impossible to sit still for!

Friday we had one more day to review our tunes, say our goodbyes to our new and old friends and pack up our camp site to head home and practice in preparation for next years camp. A highlight of the morning was the beginning fiddle class who came in to show us how they could make animal noises with their fiddles. A delightful way to end the week.

Family Rules or Code of Conduct

The Fourth of July found us at our annual family reunion. I am grateful for the fore thought of my grandparents who instilled a love of camping and gathering people together. Hospitality is a core family value. Hospitality that welcomes people and includes them in whatever activities are happening. Hospitality that encourages the sharing of stories, life adventures and challenges while praying, encouraging, loving and helping when they are able in healthy ways.

One thing some of us did this year was to follow the fireworks into the town of Union, Oregon. An online article description led us to park near the middle school while the sound of people’s voices led us to a dark baseball field where small groups of people and families waited in the dark for the show to begin. Off in the distance we heard live music and then someone singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. Abruptly, the sky filled with multicolored explosions of fireworks. If there was musical accompaniment, we could not hear it. My cousins and I enjoyed the show from the comfort of a bench while sharing stories of our past year. The moon was a sliver in the sky. As beautiful as the display was, nothing could compare to the stars in the night sky. Some of the fireworks mimicked the color of the stars but without the staying power.

The end of the show found us making our way back to our cars and looking forward to what a traffic jam in this part of the world looked like. We were pleasantly surprised to see people patiently waiting for their turn to move. We talked about how in Seattle and Portland it can be almost impossible to get out into a lane. Here, people were taking turns. I joked about how “share and take turns” must be a deep seated family rule. We agreed that it was almost an unspoken rule.

At times during my growing up years, I was frustrated and even wounded at times by many unspoken rules that seemed to permeate our home and our family gatherings. Moving so much and seeing family irregularly made understanding the unspoken rules difficult. Perhaps Aspergers Syndrome was already a part of our lives as we navigated the unspoken social expectations.

There are cultural rules that are assumed wherever one goes. Country, city, north, south, east and west have social expectations. School systems have their own code of conduct, dress codes and requirements for each grade level. Disaster could happen as a result of breaking one of these rules or intense feelings of shame and blame would also result because of mistakes I had no way knowing they were mistakes, Who knew when I was five that drinking my soup out of a bowl instead of using my spoon was such a faux pax? Or that joyfully swinging my crochet mallet around would result in my backside being soundly whacked by my uncle so that I would remember not to do something so dangerous again.

This weekend someone mentioned she liked the shape of a certain type of glass and a virgin mixture of a drink. A friend of hers refused to drink water out of those glasses in her desire to avoid all appearance of evil. It reminded me of a time when we we playing Rummy in a little town. My uncle asked us to put our cards away for the same reason. I felt confused because we were amusing ourselves quietly while the adults visited. My grandmother only allowed us to play with Rook cards. My siblings figured out that they could play just about any card game with Rook cards. They also made cookies with food coloring to use in place of chips since we were not allowed to have poker chips. There is always a way to self justify whatever we want to do. Yet God’s Word is the ultimate and only eternal authority.

A question has remained in my mind about the difference between legalism and license, freedom and liberty. Heart changes are more effective than just the behavior. Anyone can act a certain way for a while. But what about consistency? It seems to me that consistency only happens when a heart is changed by the miracle of Jesus coming into it. No good works that I do my best to do will ever be any better than the work the Holy Spirit does when He gave me a new heart that demonstrates my love for Him by my obedience to Gods Word.

Lord, help us to seek Your heart and mind as we learn to do Your will by applying Your Words to our daily lives. Your Words are truth – absolute, unchanging and trustworthy. Thank you that You desire truth in our inmost being and that nothing that ever happens to us is wasted. You take hard things and do amazing transformations in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Help us to maintain our sense of humor while navigating through the challenges with gratitude for Your gracious provision in all things. Amen.

Other things we like to do at our Family Reunions:potlucks, playing washer toss

washer toss competition

Learning curve ahead

This post really could be titled “transitions and other scary things”.  We are learning more about medical layoffs than we ever expected or wanted to know.  So much so that I realized I really needed some solid music time.  We registered for the Washington Old Time Fiddle Camp almost at the last minute. I registered Jeff for the intermediate mandolin class while I registered for the lower intermediate fiddle class. There were no other choices four days before camp started.  A quick phone call response to my email asking about options let me know that we were welcome to come, even with short notice.

The trip to Moses Lake allowed us to stop in and have lunch with Clairesse and hear about her adventures with the horse campers.

Guitar, mandolin, fiddle and ukuleles

The drive across the mountains and through the valleys with the ever changing trees, grasses, rock formations and vast vistas as we came down the mountains to the farm land remind us once again of God’s Sovereign Creativity.

We found a place to camp on the Moses Lake  Christian Academy school grounds.  WOTFA made arrangements for showers with the neighboring health club. We had access to electricity and water. Best of all, we had the joy and delight of having musical neighbors who played us to sleep at night. Not much better than that!

Cathedral Pines Camp

As we are on a journey of transition with Jeff’s work injuries, we decided to go and help with a kids camp in the Idaho Sawtooth Mountains. No point in moping around when there are things we cannot change. Might as well be helpful in some way.

We have been reconnecting with family as we’ve driven across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. A pleasant interlude with our son Joshua and cousins allowed us to attend a cousins wedding on a ranch in southwest Idaho. The hospitality was outstanding! We enjoyed good food and dancing as well as entertaining conversation. From there, we said good bye to our son and started the drive across Idaho to go up to the Sawtooth mountains. The days have been warm without being too hot on this trip. The vistas are broad with changing colors across the landscape. The wind blows with little to get in its way. It is fun to go 80 mph on the interstate with no repercussions.

As we drive, I remember some stories my grandmother told of her trip from Allen, Nebraska to move to Greenleaf, Idaho. She said that her mother was worried they would not be able to make it over the mountains at Mountain Home, Idaho. It makes me think that maybe worry is part of our family DNA. I’m sure there was a sense of relief to see that Mountain Home was pretty flat comparatively speaking. Jeff and I stopped at the historic sign and read that the area was originally called “Rattlesnake”. Someone decided they needed to change the name to make it more appealing to settlement.

This is where we left the interstate and started towards the mountains. The broad vistas enhanced the view of the mountains beautiful with their topping of snow. Our friends had warned us to bring coats as they had had snow the week before. I borrowed one from a cousin while Jeff brought an extra coat Joshua had had in his car. The camp was at 6,600 feet. The coat was welcome as I helped pass out “Bibles” one night as our “special agents” smuggled them from one end of the camp to another. Jeff and I mostly were an extra set of ears and hands for this years camp. The staff was friendly and well equipped with brief cases strategically hidden for campers to find with special assignments if they chose to accept them. Well seasoned cabin leaders lead silly songs for the evening that accompanied the campfire time. Kurt Smalley allowed us to help him with several “Grains Game” lessons that not only entertained but also illustrated an important spiritual truth that went along with the kids being trained as “special agents”. The game pictured here required a camper to choose which cup had a pine cone under it. A win meant a chocolate treat while a loss meant a face full of shaving cream.

Occasional sightings of elk, deer and golden squirrels added to the adventure as did night time star sightings. WiFi was spotty and cell phone coverage nonexistent. We slept well in our own cabin and appreciated the good and simple meals. Bonding with other campers over special diet issues was an unexpected blessing as we shared Paleo pancake mix and maple syrup.

Faith, friends, food and fun. What more does anyone need? We continue to see God’s hand leading, guiding and directing as we put one foot in front of the other and are open to opportunities He provides.

Youth Dynamics Stonewater Ranch

Meanwhile, Clairesse is making the transition to Horse Wrangler in Plains, Wa. at the Youth Dynamics Stonewater Ranch. Youth Dynamics is a non-profit organization that focuses on building positive connections with teens and young adults to hear about and experience real relationships leading to meeting Jesus Christ. In addition to the ranch, they connect with students on their campuses, at sporting events, and other high school hang outs as well as providing facilities for drop-in times such as The Spot” In Stanwood, Washington and “The Mud Hut” in Arlington, Washington. There are also other Youth Dynamics camps in Oregon and Idaho.

Since May 22, she’s completed training in Wilderness Advanced First Aid, started training for the ropes repelling course and training to work as a Horse Wrangler for the summer. Because of our prearranged trip to Prince Edward Island, she missed the training for rafting certification so will most likely pick up that training up next year.

We dropped off a box of art supplies for her to use as there is such a great “scope for the imagination” in the Leavenworth area. I’m hoping and praying she gets time for some watercolor painting. We also dropped off her guitar as she will be doing some music with the campers. A guitar may be a little more conducive to leading music than a fiddle.  

This is an area near and dear to our hearts as Jeff and I spent several years performing with the Enzian Schuplattler group for Octoberfest and for the Maifest as well as cross country skiing trips when our kids were small.

We were glad to see the ranch and the new mustangs. Even horses are tempted by the grass on the other side of the fence!

This week was their first week of camp. The busy schedule included time with the horses as well as some rock climbing. The Stonewater Ranch, run by Youth Dynamics provides leadership training for kids from all over the Pacific Northwest. I’m hoping Clairesse will be able to do a little blogging on her adventures in the wilderness. This is a full-time mission and Clairesse is expected to raise prayer and financial support. Many of the teens who attend camp come from broken homes. Many have never been to the wilderness or seen a horse up close. Please pray for her, the staff and the campers. God’s wisdom, provision and protection as they travel into the back country is always a good thing! If you’d like to support her, the link is https://secure.egsnetwork.com/donate/A5D24F1381F9418

Pastors, Shepherds and other misconceptions

Unbeknownst to us, Jeff’s background check had not yet been received on Tuesday morning.  Thankfully he came to the class with me.  I knew I was going to need his presence to keep these kids moving along. I planned to use Jeff’s medical leave of absence to the fullest.  I asked him to introduce himself to the kids. He started telling them of his 33 years of working for Boeing and all the different kinds of jobs he’d had related to airplanes.   There was sharp intake of breath from the kids as they exclaimed, “We thought you had to be a Village Missions Pastor to be at this conference!” Jeff said, “Well, my Dad was a PK and my grandfather was a pastor. Does that count?” They talked among themselves and decided that it counted and he could stay.  This led to a discussion of what a pastor is and does.  A shepherd who looks out for their sheep by leading and guiding them to good pastures, finding good water and taking care of injuries. People can and do work and do this kind of things for people in other situations.

We moved from our lesson on how God places us in the family, church, neighborhood, and etc to be a light in that situation that points people to Jesus. I shared some of my insights about lighthouses from my trip to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Jeff read the story about the Tillamook Lighthouse which has a rather exciting history full of danger and worth reading about.   I discovered very quickly in the week that if Jeff started the day with a Bible reading and prayer, the whole day went better. We had the kids stand up during the reading of scripture.  Jeff was a willing participant in doing hand motions with the kids as we taught them our Creation Song, The Lords army with two new-to-them verses, and 1 Corinthians 16:13 to the tune of “Are you sleeping Brother John?”

Our focus this week was on the fact that God knew He was going to create them from before the foundation of the world and that He had specific “work” for them to do as they and their families are placed to be a lighthouse in the community they are in.  What is a lighthouses job? It is to be the light bearer and light

shiner.  I shared that my family moved eight times between kindergarten and 7th grade when we finally bought a house and stayed put.  Life still changed as my parents collaborated with a pastor and started a Methadone Maintenance program to help heroin addicts get off of that drug and onto Methadone.  This meant that I as the oldest was left in charge of my four younger siblings as my parents were out long hours supervising the detox.  A hard thing for sure that often felt unfair and unjust especially when I got in trouble for things my siblings had left undone or had done. However, the blessing was moving to a school district that had an orchestra, choir and art program and changing to a church that had an amazing musical theatre program that inspired me for my whole life.

Sometimes God moves our “lighthouse” to a new location or may be moves us to the position of tug boat or buoys that mark the channel so the boats know where the safe passage is. As we go through trials, storms and difficulties that life brings to us, frequently through no fault of our own,  His light shines through us to light His way for others to follow. Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble. But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Ministry affects the whole family.  I guessed that they (the kids) often hear far more details about what is going on in their parents churches than the adults realize.  They confirmed this as one said their bedroom is at the end of a long hall and another said that their room is right next door to their parents room. We took some time to ask for prayer requests and prayed for their concerns prior to starting a watercolor project.

Kids and Conferences


Jeff and I got to bed about 3:45 Halifax time. I remember thinking that I would never be able to get up in time for breakfast after so little sleep. Then I remembered it was only 11:45 Seattle time. I was so tired I don’t think my brain was working.

We slept well and had another good breakfast and got packed and on the road. I had packed as many supplies as I could for the Village Missions conference before going to Prince Edward Island and Halifax but there really was no way I could anticipate everything. Jeff did his best to help me as he packed into our van the boxes of magazines, watercolor supplies, sea shells and pictures frames as well as four large bags of mystery crafts someone had donated for this week as well as my guitar and fiddle and his Mandolin. We still needed to pick up glue and other basic supplies to accommodate so many of the craft and art projects I had planned. Someone gave me four bags of different craft kits that wasn’t sure I would use. I am not so keen on prepackaged crafts.  Later in the week, I was glad to have them.

We had to change the route we were planning to take across the Columbia river at Longview as it was backed up for miles. We headed back to I-5 south and crossed the bridge from Vancouver. We headed to Hwy 26 and stopped in Hillsboro for supplies at the local Joanne Fabrics. Unfortunately, the prices for glue, scissors and other supplies there was going to burn through my $75 budget too quickly. This prompted me to call my crafting expert friend, Charla Frisinger- who does Bible journaling classes with her Charla Frisinger.closetomyheart.com business in Tyler and Jacksonville, Texas. She said, “google a dollar store.” That was the perfect advise and stretched my allowance significantly.

The delay caused by the detour and the time spent shopping made us later than the 4 PM meeting to check in. Further compounding frustration was a miscommunication on who was responsible for getting a background check on Jeff. He wasn’t allowed in with the kids Monday night. Fortunately, I had two other helpers and it was a shorter session.

I stated with some music and a short Bible lesson followed by asking the kids to choose pictures from magazines I had brought that were things they had some kind of an interest in. Too late I realized most of the magazines had flowers, birds and traveling as the main focus. My goal was to use their creations as tool for them to share during a latter session. Fortunately there were a few airplanes and Marvel comics characters as well. We had six girls and nine boys to accommodate interest and energy. I had been warned that these kids were going to be more of a challenge as they were pastors kids who thought they knew all the Bible stories.  God had some surprises this week for all of us.

This was an “early to bed” night as I knew the next day was going to be a very full four hours in the morning session.