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Not Alone

by Sarah Langness

I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love all the chances I have to snuggle with my boy throughout the day. I love all the firsts I get to witness: the first smile, the first crawl, the first steps. I love that I can get nothing done but yet know the day hasn’t been wasted because I’ve spent it with my son. Sure, there’s frustrating moments. Times when I wish I could really just make a “quick” trip to the grocery store or post office. There are moments when I wonder if all this will make a difference. But not even the most frustrating times are enough to make me want to change jobs.

Since I’m the one who is home with Zeke every day and because I’ve been given those maternal instincts, I sometimes forget that I’m not Zeke’s only parent, and that I don’t have to do this whole parenting thing alone. That – believe it or not – I’m not infallible. That I’m not the only one capable of taking care of our son. Far too often, I think that everything rests on me. And that isn’t right. I’ve been given a great husband who is a wonderful father and fully capable of changing diapers, dressing an almost-one-year-old, and preparing his food.

Sometimes, I fear we do the same thing with God. We think that we can manage without Him. That the weight upon us is ours to carry on our own.  That we are strong enough to go on by ourselves.  That we don’t need His help.  And if we did ask for help, cry, or show some another sort of weakness – that somehow makes us less “great” in the eyes of our peers. We don’t like to be seen as weak.

But that isn’t how God intended us to live. We are weak. He is strong. We are helpless. He is our help. We are incapable. He can do the impossible.

“‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you by My righteous right hand.'” – Isaiah 41:10  (NASB)

“‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.'” – John 15:4-5  (NASB)

No matter your pain, hurt or sorrow – you’re not alone. You don’t have to try to be strong. Because there is One who is strong for you. Let Him be Your help.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . .” – Psalm 46:1-2a  (NASB)

A Slippery Spring

by Jonni Sliver

I apologize to all of those with sore backs, aching shoulders or just plain blues because of our extended winter; I’m afraid it might be my fault!

I am pretty sure you all understand that leaving Brazil caused a lot of mixed emotions. Two years isn’t very long to be on the field and in some ways it feels like I just got in the groove and it was time to request a new visa. It was hard leaving the children in the Miriam Home, especially knowing that many (or all) of them could be gone by the time I get back. The Miriam Home team is small in numbers and I feel I left them shorthanded. On the other hand, it is wonderful to be home, it is a treat to visit as many of the AFLC families as possible, and the WMF women who have so richly embraced the Miriam Home. AND to make those visits in a beautiful Minnesota spring – what could be better!

I love the idea of escaping a Minnesota winter – not the cold (a good Norwegian sweater and some wool socks and you’re set), and certainly not the incredible fairy land scenery of coated trees, but the roads. I hate driving on slippery, slushy roads. And when you arrive the beginning of April, you expect showers, not flakes. But not this year!

The first three weeks of April have looked an awful lot like January, and though my visits to churches and WMF Rallies have nicely fallen between snowstorms last Thursday I was not so fortunate. Returning to the Twin Cities I started out in an icy rain, turning into sleet. Heading down Interstate 694 the sleet turned to slush. I found car after car passing me; they obviously felt more confident than I did. Then, just past Maple Grove we saw the first car on the shoulder of the road. Within the next three miles there were five more cars on the sides, facing in the wrong directions – suddenly I wasn’t the only car driving 50 mph on the freeway!

I made it safe and sound to Bloomington, arriving with a  reminder of a couple of things I already knew. First, we were not made for fear. There are moments when fear is a real blessing – it keeps us from petting lions or walking in the middle of the street. But in general, making decisions based on fear will keep us from hearing God’s voice and following it. Second, God knows our weak points and He is loving enough to put us in places where we can choose to trust Him. Like on I-694 in the “Spring”.

ALL Things

by Sarah Nelson

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”   Phil 2:14-16  (ESV)

It’s a small word, the word, all.  Yet it is so enormous in it’s meaning.  It’s a tiny word with a big challenge.  The above passage encourages us to do ALL things without grumbling or disputing.  What a tall order.  An order that even with the best of intentions I fail at daily.  It’s easy enough to not grumble when I’m doing what I love, such as reading, writing, or enjoying a good latte.  Switch me over to picking up dirty laundry for the umpteenth time, or re-organizing the fridge that I just had made neat and tidy the day before, and well, I’ll admit it – grumble.  If I’m not careful, that grumbling quickly carries over to disputing with my family members about whose dirty socks were left on the table and who made the decision to put lettuce in the fruit drawer. Such small things that make grumbling all too easy.

Are we not to grumble or argue simply for our own benefit?  No.  The exhortation carries far more purpose than that.  Our lack of murmuring, whining,and arguing about personal preference, ultimately serves to shine God’s grace in and through our lives to a culture and people desperately in need of God’s truth and love.  Does this mean we will never trip up in our desire to live peaceful, contented, and joyful lives among a lost world?  No.  The good news is that Christ’s forgiveness is ready and waiting for us every moment of the day.  When we do “lose it” as we live out our lives, it is so important that we admit our wrong, ask for forgiveness from those whom we have hurt with our grumbling and disputing, and continue on living in God’s grace.

May I encourage you as you prepare for summer happenings to commit these verses to memory?  As we plan VBS weeks for our churches, perhaps attend family reunions, or receive guests into our homes, let’s be sincerely thankful for all of the moments – the ones that go as planned, and the ones that do not.  May our actions and our reactions reflect the peace and joy found in Jesus, the One who gave His ALL.

Emily’s Famous Marshmallows

Original recipe makes 1 – 9×9 inch dish
Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Dust a 9×9 inch square dish generously with confectioners’ sugar.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together white sugar, corn syrup and 3/4 cup water. Heat to 250 to 265 degrees F (121 to 129 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a rigid ball.

While syrup is heating, place remaining water in a metal bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Place bowl over simmering water until gelatin has dissolved completely. Keep in a warm place until syrup has come to temperature. Remove syrup from heat and whisk gelatin mixture into hot syrup. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Continue to beat, pouring syrup mixture into egg whites in a thin stream, until the egg whites are very stiff. Stir in vanilla. Spread evenly in prepared pan and let rest 8 hours or overnight before cutting.

Let’s Pray

by Sarah Langness

I’m grateful for prayer. I’m grateful that we have a God who answers prayer. And I’m grateful that no request is too small in His eyes, no concern of ours is too insignificant for Him. As I drove home from Sioux Falls on Friday, I felt the prayers of family and friends being offered on our behalf. My can’t-sit-still-for-more-than-thirty-seconds boy napped for nearly three hours straight (the longest nap he’s taken probably since he was a newborn); he played well, let animal crackers keep him happy, and all together did great on the seven-hour car ride. Definite answers to prayer. The roads were only wet, not slippery; and we had safe travels the entire 507 miles. Definite answers to prayer. In moments like those, when I see, experience and feel the power of prayer, I wonder: why don’t I pray more?

And not just pray because it’s nice or it makes me feel connected to God or to tell Him about how that lady at the grocery store made me feel. I mean pray. Pray for our nation. Pray for the lost souls surrounding us. Pray for our courts. Pray for the devil’s hold on hearts to loosen and for the world to turn to Jesus.

I’ve realized in the last couple of days how little praying I do. Oh sure, I pray for our families, those dear to my heart and the troubles facing them. But why don’t I pray bigger? With a more far-reaching, worldwide impact? Don’t get me wrong: those prayers for my parents, brother, in-laws and close friends — those are important. But far too often I simply stop there. Why do I fail to mention our nations leaders, abortion doctors and clinics, our church leadership, the souls of the lost, Bible translators, the hungry, the orphans, airline pilots?

Pride, perhaps. But I think what it really boils down to is discipline. Not just recognizing all there is to pray about (and yes, it’s quite daunting), but actually praying. Carving out time in my day to pray. Praying while I do everyday, mundane tasks. Not allowing my mind to wander and daydreams to enter. Being still before Him.

“‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him to knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!'” – Matthew 7:7-11

If you’re like me and disgusted at the atrocities all around us these days, let’s pray.
If you’re like me and dismayed at the acceptance of blatant sin even by believers, let’s pray.
If you’re like me and shocked at the bombing in Boston, let’s pray.

“. . .pray without ceasing . . .” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The Great Physician

by Velma Amundson

I have just brought my husband home today from having a knee replacement. John and I have been talking about all the marvelous things that doctors can do now, or how things have changed from how they were done before, like getting people up and about earlier, shorter hospital stays, etc. It amazes me all the things that they can do. They can take a knee that is painful, and replace it giving the person a new lease on life so that they can continue their daily routines. They can fix hearts and increase the likelihood for premature babies to survive. These and many other miracles are being done every day.

As miraculous as these things are, Christians have it even better. Jesus is known as “The Great Physician”. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we can always turn to him with our problems and our illnesses and He hears us and heals us. He heals us from sin, and from our separation from God. I think if that were all it would be more than enough. But our physician God has compassion on us with our illnesses. We rightly rejoice when we are healed of physical illnesses. Those who have long suffered from an illness know, there is more than one type of healing. Sometimes the healing is a spiritual healing, where God can use us in our weakness to touch others. Never sell yourself short, because the example that is shown when a Christian suffers illness of any form and still puts their trust in God is huge.

Then, there is the final healing. Sometimes when the answer to the illness is death, we think God said “No”, or didn’t answer, or even doesn’t care. But I don’t think that’s true. I think that is the ultimate, final healing. We know that in heaven there are no tears, no illness, and we are at peace, praising God eternally. So, no matter what form of healing our Great Physician gives us, let us rejoice that we have a God that we can turn to, who understands what we go through and has great compassion for us.

Every Inconvenient Opportunity

by Sarah Langness

Editor’s note:  This post was written on April 8.

I really don’t like driving on snowy, icy, wind-blown roads. Therefore, I am still here in Sioux Falls rather than in Fargo on my way home to Beulah. I probably could have made it to Fargo today, but I decided that if things got ugly in North Dakota, I’d rather be stuck in Sioux Falls at my parent’s house than in Fargo. So here I am. To be honest, I really want to be home. I would love to cook at my stove and wash my dishes. To put my baby boy to bed in his own, real bed instead of a Pack ‘N Play. To see my husband and give him a hug. But home is 500-some miles away. And there’s a snowstorm looking like it’s going to keep me here until potentially Thursday.

So, I decided to make the most of this opportunity. To go visit my grandparents now instead of planning on doing it this summer because I don’t know how much time we’ve got left. To maybe look up some friends in the area simply because I’ve got time and relationships are important. To let my little man have these extra bonding days with his grandparents. Even though I am looking forward to home, I’ve got to do something and be faithful with this time I have here in Sioux Falls. I need to do the same spiritually as well.

Sometimes, instead of making the most of the time I have here and now, I am simply looking ahead, to our eternal home. Like when I consider world events. I hope and pray that Jesus will come back soon. I would love for my little man to be protected from so much of the evil happening in the world; to witness the coming of Christ. And I think that as believers, we are to look forward to His coming and prepare for it. But sometimes, it’s easy for us to forget to work while we’re here. To be fruitful for His kingdom. To make His name known to people and in places where His name hasn’t been heard. To make disciples.

“But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me . . . But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is much more necessary for your sake.”  Philippians 1:22-23   (NASB)

While we wait for His coming, while we live on in the flesh – we’ve got work to do. It won’t be finished until He calls us home. May we be a body who is busy about His work, doing what He has called us to do, making the most of every opportunity — even those that seem to inconvenience us.

“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6:10   (NASB)