Conference Recaps

This year the young people in our family have been able to take in a couple of encouraging conferences. So here are the highlights!

Midwest 26 Below

This was the first time we went to this conference which was in Iowa. We traveled down with a bunch of fellow Minnesotans, braving bad weather and icy roads, and I guess each of the three vehicles had their own creative ways of passing the time (i.e., making up songs about the possibility of ending up in the ditch, etc.).

The speaker for the conference was Micah Tuttle, a missionary to Peru. His message to us over the weekend was “Don’t waste your life.”Each of his messages looked at characters from the Bible who either wasted their life, or didn’t. Here’s a few thoughts from the notes I took.

Jonah–How much more would God have used him if he had yielded. What am I doing with the opportunities God gives me?

Daniel and his three friends–They were taken captive and even their names were changed to change their identity. Don’t let yourself get brainwashed—Babylon will suck you in…and it will destroy. We have to get serious about living holy lives and running from sin. Remember, “I live in Babylon, but I’m not from there.”

Esau, Adam and Eve, Lot, Achan, Samson, Judas–people who got what they wanted, but lost what they had. In their own ways they preferred to gratify the flesh rather than inherit the blessing of God. Sin will render you useless. Do I want God or what God can give me?Jacob–We serve a God of second chances. Sometimes God has to touch you where it hurts most in order for you to not waste your life. Sometimes He has to break you first. Sometimes He has to pry our hands, our heart, away from everything else so we grab onto Him. God touched Jacob’s hip…and gave him a new walk.

Peter–He took some small steps that set him up for failure. He had pride and self-confidence; he was sleeping when he should have been praying; he used the wrong sword for the wrong reason and got one little ear–at Pentecost he quoted Scripture and 3,000 souls were saved (6,000 ears!); he followed the Lord at a distance; he was sitting with the world, looking to be comfortable while Jesus was suffering. Who are you sitting with? Peter could have easily gone like Judas. But he was repentant and was restored.

most of our minnesota crew

A breakout session taught by someone else focused on having a missions focus even while living “here” (wherever that may be). Some notes from that…

If you want to go to the foreign mission field, until you get there God has you here. Where you are right now is your mission field. Different ways to be involved in missions right now include: pray for other people–think outside your own little world; email missionaries–they need encouragement…consider becoming a prayer partner; give and watch God give the increase–don’t worry about how much you give (over-giving); invest in internationals and the least of these in your community–the mission field really starts right where we are.

And a few more odds and ends from the weekend…

Risk is right in God. Don’t waste your life to be safe. — Prayer is wrestling. Where are the men and women who will wrestle with God? — “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” (Jonathan Edwards)

And this would not be complete without a picture of the major snowball fight that broke out which one of the Minnesotans may or may not have been responsible for.And an afterthought is—don’t waste your life Martha-style. Don’t be so busy serving that you lose sight of what is most important, your relationship with Jesus.

For our trip home we had good roads and sunny weather!

And a couple months later…

Vessels of Honor

…for which we are generally lacking pictures.

While 26 Below is focused more toward missions, Vessels of Honor has a different theme each year and has quite a variety of topics for both the main seminars and breakout sessions. This year so many of the sessions kept coming back to our personal relationship with Christ. It’s the most important thing!

Jesus is not halfway about us. He is deeply committed to a personal relationship with us. There is a link between walking with Him and seeing the demonstration of His power. We should ache to be loyal to Jesus.

And, as we were reminded, it’s so easy to replace intimacy with activity/ministry. But busyness (for the Lord) is not godliness. Godliness is walking with Him.

We were also challenged with the fact that often the church is like a mannequin…it looks good with no power. Intimacy comes before power. So start now, and get in the quiet place, seeking Him. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint—you have to continue doing things even when you don’t feel like it. Walking with God isn’t an accident.

There were so many good things that we heard over the weekend, what I shared here is just scratching the surface! We also had good conversations and enjoyed some fun games together.

We are so thankful for encouraging conferences like this, and the freedom to have them!

sharing a meal before hitting the road for home

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

A Year Ago Today

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. …For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:1-6, 11-12 NKJVIt’s hard to believe it’s been a year already – a year since the near-death experience God brought us through – one that we all walked away from.  We are still amazed at it all. It is hard to find words to express how we feel, except that God is powerful and merciful and faithful, and we are so grateful for each other and for life!

What a journey this past year has been as a result of the plane crash! (If you have not read the story, you can find it here.) We were invited to share our story on the radio with Wayne Shepherd, took our first flight after the crash a few months later, told the story and shared the gospel in a public school, connected with one of our EMT’s when we returned to that community, and watched God open so many doors to tell people the story and point them to Him. We’ve shared this story at kids clubs, churches, and prisons. People recognize that our survival was nothing short of a miracle.  We tell them that we cried out to Jesus, He heard us, and that He is real. We are so grateful for this testimony to share with people.

first flight

we were able to share the gospel in a public school as a result of the crash

one of our EMT’s

As believers in Jesus Christ we have everlasting life, which means we know that when we die, we will spend eternity with Him. We were ready to take our last breath. Are you? Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

Praise God for what He has done!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised… The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. …The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. Psalm 18:2-3, 5-6, 46 NKJV

Southwest Travels

After Alabama, we were off to the Southwest!

After a two-day drive, we arrived at a church in Albuquerque where we would be singing the next morning. This church family has been a real blessing to us as we have gotten to know them over the last few years. A number of people were there to help us unload all of our instruments and gear, and after we set up, everyone went out for dinner at a true New Mexican restaurant. Tortillas, beans, green chilies…yum!

Mom started having some back pain and by the next morning it was to the point where she wouldn’t be able to join us for church, which included our concert. It also turned out that on Monday (our planned departure day) Mom’s back was not up for traveling, and our hosts, the Delaney family, were so gracious to us when we had to stay a few extra days. We had a good time with them!

Dad enjoyed trying out Mr. Delaney’s segway

a heart-pounding game of jenga

supper and fellowship!

We walked down to the Rio Grande river where there was a beautiful view of the Sandia Mountains.

Even though our schedule hadn’t gone as planned, it was still a profitable few “extra days” in New Mexico. Dad was able to have a couple of ministry-related meetings, and we three girls were able to join some of the church family in a children’s Bible club at the school. We shared the airplane story with the kids, showed them a picture or two, and sang a couple songs.

Thursday we had a concert scheduled on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, so it was time to say goodbye to New Mexico and the Delaneys. Mom was still having some back trouble but she was able to join us for the concert that night! We were in Tuba City at the discipleship center, and we enjoyed meeting people and getting to know the Haskins who minister there and also put us up for a few nights.

And how can you come this far and not go to the Grand Canyon? A few of us have been there before, but we had never been there as a family. We were really looking forward to going. Being at the Grand Canyon reminds us how small we are, and how powerful God is.

…for some perspective. can you find us?

in the lookout tower

I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen so many selfie sticks at one place. But if you don’t have one, just find a friendly-looking tourist to take a family picture for you!

And we can certainly attest to the fact that while pictures of Grand Canyon are amazing, they don’t even come close to doing it justice.

We had been invited to sing on the Hopi Reservation if we ever were down that way. This was another place that was a first-time for our whole family, and it was a great opportunity to encourage the believers and share the gospel. We had a concert there on Saturday night and then stayed for the Sunday church service. We met quite a few believers there and they made us feel so welcome.

the church door open for all

Sunday morning was a church breakfast, with tortillas made hot off the stove. The morning service was an encouraging time of testimony, music, singing Hopi hymns, hearing the Word, and at the end the believers got up and sang in their Native language, “God be with you till we meet again.” We were so blessed by them.

morning service

The town we were in is in a canyon, and right behind the church is a rock wall. It’s beautiful country down there, and between all the rocks, red dirt, plains, canyons, and other scenery we drove through or past in the southwest, we felt very far away from Minnesota! (And we probably sounded like it too…”Look at that rock! Look at all those rocks! Look at the dirt!”)Everywhere we were at on this trip, people were so welcoming and hospitable, whether or not they had met us before. It’s wonderful to be part of God’s family.

From Arizona we began our trek northward, a three-day drive home. We drove through the Rockies in Colorado, and despite some snowfall and high road elevations, we made it safely through and thoroughly enjoyed the stunning scenery.Our last two nights on the road were spent with our friends the Marinos in Colorado and the Wissmanns in Nebraska who are such an encouragement to us. Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for us and blessed us on this road trip! We know that God is working.  Sometimes we see it, and sometimes we don’t.  Either way, we desire to be faithful and trust that where God gives us opportunity, He is at work.

“That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:6