Archive for October, 2008

The Journey of Faith

October 31, 2008

Yesterday, we had a fascinating encounter with two families who know each other well.  This wasn’t a counseling appointment.  This was an opportunity set up by dear friends in Pennsylvania for us to meet two families who are also living by faith, and to hear their stories.

This morning, I want to share with you a story from the life of Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor who went to Zaire, Africa.  I hope that you share this wonder of God’s provision with your children, and that together you are encouraged to seek God’s face, regardless of your circumstances.

“One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all that could do, she died leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying, two-year-old daughter.

We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. We had no incubator. We had no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding facilities. Although we were living on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “…and it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk; so, in Central Africa, it might be considered no good crying over a burst water bottle. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. “All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.”

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with many of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chilled. I also told them about the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so please send it this afternoon.” While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, “…And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen?” I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel! I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone; so, I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly coloured, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then, there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. As I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be? I grasped it, and pulled it out. Yes, “A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!” I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.  Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too!”  Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone: she had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. One of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “that afternoon!”  “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24


Thursday on Prince Edward Island

October 31, 2008

Friday is scheduled to be our last day on PEI — the boat to the Magdalen Islands leaves Saturday, and we’re praying that we can be on it.  As much as we want to be “across the moat”, we want more than that to be solidly in God’s will.

Home Stretch: Two Days to Go

October 29, 2008

We are thankful for the sovereignty of God. Our trust is totally in Him to lead us.

On P.E.I.!

October 29, 2008

Bless the Lord, O my soul;

And all that is within me,

bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you

with loving kindness and tender mercies.

(Psalm 103:1-4)

We have arrived in Prince Edward Island. Les-Isles-de-la-Madeline –our destination,– is now a 5-hour boat-ride away.

We decided to leave the United States yesterday. We left the motel where we were staying, picked up mail in the morning ($300 – thank-you, Lord!, and a handful of bills – help, Lord!) and headed north and east.  Campsites are closed for the season in most of the northeastern states and provinces, but there was a motel in PEI with a room large enough to fit us all and enough gas in the tank to get us there.

We have several appointments in the next couple of days, and a laundry list of things to do, including changing the oil and winterizing the trailer, so our days will be full, though not too full to spend a chunk of each day in prayer.

Our prayers are full of thanksgiving for the safety and clear leading of God in this year’s excellent summer circuit.  We are enthusiastic about the Godward changes that we hear about via your letters and emails, and that you tell us about in your phone calls. These changes in your relationship harmony, in parenting, and in church life/structure could not happen without prayer and commitment to “do hard work”.

We’re setting up the first seminars for islanders, and ask for your prayers that there would be huge paradigm shifts in their marriages — changes so swift and incredible that they can only be attributed to the power of Christ.



Home Stretch: Less than a week to go!

October 27, 2008


We are counting off the days in earnest, as we anticipate the boat to the islands next Saturday.  The children went online to check the wind speed and the expected cloud cover.  At last check, we’re looking at rain and wet snow, and Gravol.


We’re also counting the ways God is buoying up our spirits.  We felt increasing oppression as we approached the Quebec border, though all signs pointed only to God’s creative beauty –the changing light in the skies over field and forest, the intensity of orange and red hues in autumn’s leaves.  The believers we met in southern Quebec greatly encouraged us and our subsequent time of R & R ( and the warm welcome of believers) in Maine boosted our spirits.  Now, on the eve of entering New Brunswick to travel onto Prince Edward Island (from where we take the boat to the islands), we ask you to support us with your prayers.  This promises to be a faith-stretching week for us. As this will be our fifth year in Quebec, we are turning our hearts to God, tuning in to His desires, allowing Him to bring to mind all the many ways you have been an encouragement to us over the last four years,  and using these memories to bolster our strength for the days ahead.


Thank-you to friends old and new for your presence in our lives.


In George Mueller news, we received $100 in donations this past week, and it was from an unexpected source. God continues to surprise us with His ways, deflating our human reasoning, and showing us His strength, and His plans…in His timing.


And it is always good.





Home Stretch: 9 Days to Go

October 24, 2008

We’ve talked with families in crisis this week, each of which is at the point where they say, “we’ve done everything we were supposed to, and now there’s no longer anything we can do”. 

When you get to the point in life’s journey where the way seems difficult (nay, impossible), and there’s no “next thing” to do because you’ve done everything you could do, you are right in the place God wants you to be.  He wants all of us in the place where we are totally yielded to His will.  Total surrender means that we have completely put aside our own will, our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our logical view of what should happen next, and we wait with resting heart, totally dependent on Him.

We have often been at that place this summer, and all the summers and winters of the last four years –that place on life’s journey where we look at one another and say, “there’s nothing we can do”.  One would think that we would have trust-in-God-in-difficult-moments mastered, but we don’t.  We do know this, that two hearts that say in unison, “let’s trust in God” are so very much more comforting than one heart alone.  To all of those who have contacted us just this week with extremely heart-wrenching, serious counseling needs, you have exhausted your human ability to solve a crisis. You have reached that point of total surrender to divine help, and while that reliance on God alone does not make your world instantly better, knowing that He is back in control takes away the shocking sting of surprise, the mental pangs of confusion and disappointment, and the tears of anger.  And it lets you rest. 

And that rest in His control is priceless.

In George Mueller news, we made an urgent request for our mail to be forwarded and there should be mail here by tomorrow.  We had planned on waiting until we got to the islands to receive our next mail, but needs demanded otherwise.


Sustained energy for long-haul parenting

October 23, 2008

…and let us not be weary in well-doing for in due season we will reap…Gal. 6:9

In this quiet place where we have holed up for four days of peace, we regroup, talk, laugh, and reflect on the summer.  We talk about our observations, and the children remark that so many parents seem weary, and that parenting fatigue is keeping them from pressing on, keeping them from bringing up the younger children with the same intentionality with which they reared the older children, yet the little ones at the end of the pack need the same energy, the same love, the same attention that the older ones received. 

Family Closeness

October 22, 2008

After a great many days on the road working alongside or visiting families of all sizes and backgrounds, we have observed this:  close families don’t just happen.  They are the fruit of hard work, principle-based choices, much prayer, and intentional parenting.

Home Stretch: 12 Days to Go

October 21, 2008

The steps of this summer’s circuit have been unpredictable, some large, some small, some uneven enough to almost throw us off-balance.  We’ve reached the top of the circuit stairs, and it is time to rest.

Rest:  the antidote to burn-out.  We are at long last resting.  Just us, alone in a rented cabin by the lake .  No appointments (after today). No counseling calls (after tonight). Nothing but regrouping, and playing, and reflecting with gratitude on the goodness of God this summer.  With 12 days to go before we arrive in Les Isles de la Madeleine, we are immersing ourselves in the generosity of a supporter’s gift of 5 days of much-needed R & R. 

So starting tomorrow, for the next 4 days, we will write in the mornings, play in the afternoons, and talk by the fireplace in the evenings.

It is really, really, really hard to slow down.  Please pray that this would be a time of great encouragement and regrouping for us.   

George Mueller Report: The mail came in on Thursday, and was received by all of us with great joy:  there were a couple of meaningful letters to encourage us, and a few checks to put towards  outstanding bills! There’s still a lot to pay off before we board the boat to the islands, and there will be new bills ahead, including  gas to get to the ferry, motels along the way, passage on the boat  ($400) and the first month’s rent/security/cleaning deposit sufficient to get us into a house for the winter.

We are reminded daily that God is in control of our financial situation, and we deeply desire to remain in His will, and it is this desire that fuels our commitment to not proceed onto the islands with any bills unpaid. 

We’ve finally put together the needs/wants list so many of you asked for along the way, and we will send it to whomever asks for it now (drop us an email at  The list, which reflects those items which are above and beyond our ongoing faith-based overhead,  is also a way for us to remember God’s gifts, some which we received when we least expected them.  We plan to update the list weekly.  You can see that as of this weekend when we printed our first copy, for example, that the generator which we had prayed for for three years, and which will answer such a huge need for next summer’s circuit, was given to us by a sweet family Friday night, and  the crockpot we had prayed for (equally for a long time) was left on a church doorstep for us Saturday morning. 


A Stop in Maine

October 20, 2008

We have arrived at our last stop before the Maritime provinces.  There are a great many decisions to make while we are here, and we ask for your prayer that God will clearly direct our path.  The days are getting colder, campsites are closing for the season, and we are anxious to be “home” on the islands.