Tuesday, May 31, 2011

‘member that time?

Well, it’s been nearly a week since I posted and I know that ‘member that time?  belongs on Monday, but since I have had no internet access for the last 4 days, it’s goin’ on a Tuesday this time. 

‘Member that time when I had prepared for two days (shopping, making food, securing pet arrangements, packing the car) to go to the lake to spend time with the Haverkamps? And then member how Brent told my parents that the reason we like going to the lake is because it’s EASY?  “You just throw a couple things in a duffle bag and you’re off!” he said.  Member that?

Yeah, well, I told him that if he wanted to have a sweet wife he shouldn’t say that anymore.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Walkin’ the Walk

Today was hard for me.

I got up late and skipped my run because it was raining, family breakfast was rushed, my garbage disposal fell off my drain pipe and flooded my under sink cabinet (I found this after cleaning up and putting lots of food down the disposal), one daughter came home from school crying, and the other fought with her brother in the office regarding the volume of her music, the “great” supper I prepared was actually only mediocre, and I got ganged up on in the after-dinner discussion.

It was kind of a bummer of a day. And I kind of want to be bitter about it all. And I kind of want to have a little pity party and say that I have a right to this and to that…but I know I don’t. That’s why I’m writing this—to convince myself that what God says is always better than what I want.

Today in Utmost for His Highest, O.C. says, “Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight.”

I want wisdom! I want insight! I want to be able to hear His voice! But if I do what feels right to me—claiming my rights, demanding my way—my understanding of His ways will be dulled—cloudy—incomplete. This is the truth.

O.C continues, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.”

I want to live the life of faith. I want to learn to waive my rights joyfully, not reluctantly. I want to be OK with God making the choice for me. I want God to transform the natural into the spiritual through my obedience to Him.

How do I do this when I’m mad and things don’t make sense?

First, I cry and tell God how I feel (He’s OK with that);

Then I give up control when I most want to take it.

I distance myself from the problem and I spend some time in prayer.

I tell myself the truth and don’t believe my feelings.

I remember how unfairly Christ was treated on the very day He died for me.

I remember how I deserve nothing but have received everything through Jesus.

I decide to do what I tell my kids and others to do—I deny myself, my feelings and I walk the high road of obedience…the difficult road of obedience…the best road.

And I win. Christ can change me when I’m rotten because He is beautiful.

Yet this I call to mind
   and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 2:21-23

Monday, May 23, 2011

‘member that time?

Enjoy this little memory from our 2010 family trip to America’s last (or in our case, lost) frontier…

‘member that time when we were in Alaska and we got lost trying to backpack to Denali?  And 'member how we had no idea where we were but since we were so exhausted from bushwhacking our way into the wilderness, we just decided to camp out in the middle of nowhere?  ‘member that? 

And member how I couldn’t sleep the whole night because I was sure one of us was going to have a life- threatening emergency and we had no idea where we were and no idea of how to get back to civilization? 

Yeah.  Well, no one died that night, but I was super tired the next day when we walked through the swamp.

We never did find Denali. But at least no bears ate us. 

And we finally found our car.

It’s ‘member that time Monday again!  Get over to http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/ and share your own sleepless memories!

Friday, May 20, 2011

For Real

I read this dialogue by J.I Packer today and found it fascinating.  Maybe you will too.

“Without forfeiting or reducing either His divine identity or His divine powers, in full and exact obedience to the Father’s will throughout, and through the enabling agency of the Holy Spirit at every turn, the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God who is God the Son, became a fetus growing in Mary’s womb; was born and nursed like any other baby; passed through infancy, boyhood, and adolescence into manhood; knew from the first moment of his self-awareness as a newborn that He was the Father’s son, who would always know and must always do what the Father directed, and did so unfailingly, blended meekness with majesty, seriousness with joyousness, satirical humor with sensitive gentleness, forthrightness against sin with vulnerable love to sinners in a unique perfection of character; modeled wisdom and humility, self-control and integrity, independence in the face of men and prayerful dependence on his Father, in a way and to a degree never seen or imagined before; and finally endured six hours of supreme agony on the cross, giving His life a ransom for many, bearing away the sin of the world, undergoing the Godforsakeness that we sinners deserved.  Then His resurrection displayed His divinity and demonstrated His victory to His disciples, who from then on linked Him with the Father in their worship and prayers.”

After reading that, I began to meditate on the realness of Jesus.  Here are my thoughts:

Jesus was truly God and truly man.  He had complete moral perfection and symmetry of character, yet He understood our weaknesses because He lived here, with us, in this very broken place.  He was God with skin on. 

He arrived in history to the world He created, but the world rejected this very real, God-man with skin on.  They beat and bruised Him until his real skin came off and His real bones were broken.  This very real God-man died a very real and very painful death for our very real offenses and His very real red blood was shed for our sins.  He then descended into a very real Hell because this is where we were destined to go—without His very real, and very loving sacrifice. He really arose and conquered real death and then he ascended back to His real home—we would have been able to see Him going with our very real eyes had we been there.  But we weren’t, so we have to believe what the gospels say is true.

Do you believe it?  He lived and breathed and died—in this world—so we could live in a new world—Heaven—with Him someday. 

And He’s coming back again.  For real.

Believe it.


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
   taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Only Gain

I am sitting outside in the sunshine by the swing set with two of my kids and two of my cats. My dog also lies nearby. The animals are doing cute things, the kids are contently busy, and the sun feels like a healing balm. What more could I ask for right now?  This is only gain.

Why is it that when I get busy, my quiet times sitting at the feet of Jesus are the first thing to go?

It really shouldn’t be this way.

It is at His feet and in His Word that I always experience peace. When I quiet myself and sit with Him, I always benefit,I always learn from Him, I always gain. So, does it not seem strange to you, and to me, that I forgo this sure comfort when my life feels out of control?

But that’s what happens; Satan convinces me that the way to control and peace is by doing more by myself and yielding less of myself to the one who is actually in control.

It is only when I stop and sit that I realize that I am missing the beauty that is God; so this is what I am doing now; stopping and sitting; and soaking Him in.

When I submit to the one who created my life, I only gain. I only gain. I only gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:6

Monday, May 16, 2011

‘member that time?

Family vacations are just around the corner.  You might want to pack some Beano in with your on-the-road picnic.  Just FYI.

‘member all the times when we were in the car and Dad was like, “If you have any more poopy sounds, I’m going to light a match to your rear end?” And member how it was really hard to hold it, but we were afraid of having a burned butt? Member that?

I wonder how big the explosion would have been if we had accidently let one fly.  Probably it would have blown up the car and that would have put a real damper on the annual vacation.


It’s ‘member that time Monday again!  Get over to http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/ and  share your own road-trip memories!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Obedience is always attractive

I was not an obedient child.  It’s not that I didn’t understand the rules, I just didn’t want to follow them.  And it caused me a lot of pain—literally and figuratively. 

Now that I’m and adult, and a Christ-follower, I have seen the blessings that come from obedience and the pain that comes from disobedience.  And I have decided that obedience is always attractive.

Really.  Look how much we appreciate obedient children or well behaved dogs or even reliable friends.

When we are obedient in our Christian life, people notice and they are intrigued by our faith. When we are obedient, we portray Christ accurately and attractively.  When we decisively walk the straight and narrow—not veering to the right or left—but keeping our feet on the path that God has shown us in His Word, we begin to see God in His infinite beauty.  He becomes more and more clear to us—more and more attractive—and of great value.

Obedience is not hard, but it does take discipline.  Our natural ways are often not God’s ways.  Obedience means listening to God when He speaks through the Word, through Godly friends, through scripturally sound books.  Obedience also means doing what we hear God telling us.  James 1:23-24 says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  Hearing and doing must go together if obedience is the goal

When we do hear God speaking, we must obey immediately, because as I tell my kids, delayed obedience is disobedience.  Delayed obedience can also make us doubt that God even spoke at all and it can encourage us to disregard that still, small voice.  When we continually ignore God’s promptings, His voice will get harder and harder to hear.  But when we hear Him speak and we jump to obey, and when we continue to do this, focusing on God’s plan and not our own comfort, God says that we will gain freedom in Him and blessings from His hands, “ But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)

The act of obedience takes a choice.  It involves just doing the next thing God asks of you, again and again and again. Like I tell everyone I meet with, walking as a Christ follower requires a long obedience in the same direction (I actually stole that phrase from a book by Eugene Peterson). It requires an everyday reliance on God’s Spirit within you and a moment by moment choice to die to your own natural inclinations.

Obedience is our path to freedom.

Obedience invites God’s blessing.

Obedience is attractive because God’s ways are beautiful…and beautiful lives point our broken world back to their Father.

Obedience does not guarantee we will know what the future holds, but it does give us confidence in the pure character of God—and the knowledge that His ways are always good.  So, in obedience, we can rest….and trust…and give Him glory.

Obedience is always attractive.

Be careful to obey all the law…do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Joshua 1:7

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amish Addition

Here’s a little math problem for you.  Get a pencil.  And you might need to draw a diagram as well.

A.  If one (1) friend gives you Amish Friendship Bread starter in a Ziploc and you feed it and mush it and babysit it for ten (10) days …

B.  Then if you separate that starter into five (5) different starter Ziplocs but neglect to give any of of it to your friends because you know that they are busy with graduation parties, track meets, and mowing their lawns and none of them are Amish anyway…

C.  And if you bake two (2) loaves from one (1) of starters, but keep the other four (4) bags of starter on your countertop and feed them and mush them and care for them for ten (10) days because you feel guilty about throwing them away even though they make your life stressful…

D.  Then in ten (10) more days if you decide to just stop the cycle of friendship and you go ahead and separate each of the four (4) bags into five (5) starter Ziplocs and each of these starter sets makes two (2) loaves, and if you already have two (2) loaves frozen in the freezer from your first starter, how many cuts would it take to slash all four (4) tires of the car of the person who gave you the Amish Friendship Bread starter? 


ANSWER:  I’m not sure, but I think it might take about thirty-eight (38) less cuts (meaning four (4) really good gashes!) than the forty-two (42) loaves of Amish Enemy Bread that you have in your freezer.

How’s my math? 

Wanna come for brunch?

Or do you need to fix your car?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Adventures at ALDI

Ok.  So I go to ALDIs a lot because it’s cheap (I mean where else can you always get a gallon of milk—any milk for $1.99?) and it’s close.  So, I’ve spent a lot of time there and I’ve seen some weird stuff.  Let me share:

Yesterday I was there just to pick up hash browns for my quiche and who did I see but the Old Woman who lived in the Shoe!  I actually think it was her, except she wasn’t old and I think she probably lived in a house—anyway, those discrepancies aside, she had about 60 kids with her and they were all running everywhere and she kept calling out names and saying, “Caroline, come here!” and things like that.  Then I noticed that she had an entire case of Toasty O’s or whatever ALDIs calls their cheerios, and I knew what all of her hundreds of children ate for breakfast every day—or maybe for every meal.  I felt sorry for this cheerio mom, but she seemed Ok with her lot in life, and with her choice of breakfast foods.

Second story:  One day, late in the afternoon, after I had run and showered and neglected to apply any make up or fix my hair, I realized I needed a few things for supper, so I headed to my neighborhood grocery to pick up the items.  As I finished my shopping and took my cart back to it’s chain gain to retrieve my quarter, and as the gale force wind was blowing my scarf directly in my face, a kindly older gentleman stopped me in the parking lot and said, “You look really nice. That color is really great on you.”  Really.  He said this.  And I looked really bad.  And I was so stunned that I mumbled a quick “Thank you”, but what I was really thinking was “Get away from me you weirdo!” and I was in such a rush to return to my car that I completely forgot to get my quarter out of the little slot .  So I guess I made someone’s day that day with the surprise quarter and all, but from now on when I go to ALDIs, I try to fix myself up a little bit so I can feel good when someone tells me that I look great with my scarf in my face.

Final tale:  So when Tess was like 10 or 11, she was going through this growth spurt where she was really hard to fit, and it was difficult to find jeans for her to wear.  And lo and behold, one day as I was shopping at the aforementioned establishment, I saw a rack of jeans—yes in the grocery store.  They were kind of oddly shaped, but so was Tess, so I thought I would buy a pair and give them a try.  Guess what!  These jeans from ALDI fit Tess so perfectly that I decided to buy her a few more pairs of them in ascending sizes since she was growing so fast.  Tess got lots of compliments on her cute pants and when someone would ask where she got them, Tess would correctly say that her mom bought them at ALDIs.  But then people would laugh because they were sure that she got the store names mixed up and that , surely, her mother bought those denim gems at Aeropostal or American Eagle—but ALDI?  No.  YES!  For $12.99, who could resist grocery store jeans?  Not me.  And I bet not the young, Old Woman, Cheerio mom either.  She looked like she was ripe for a bargain.  Maybe she would buy a case of them.  And then all of her kids would look cute while they ate their breakfast.

That’s all I have for y’all right now. 

So, why don’t you rush right out to your own friendly ALDI right now and have your own little adventure!  I think the colored bell peppers are on sale.  And who doesn’t like colorful peppers?  You could probably even sprinkle a few on your cheerios!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Jesus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

--Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Whenever we put other things before God, there is confusion.

Sometimes I forget this.

And then I wonder why my life seems so rushed and chaotic and…confusing.

Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts says, “Hurry always empties a soul.” When I am hurrying, I am not living in that moment, I am rushing to get to the next..and the next…and the next. This incessant urgency within me to be in control, to show my productivity, to get to the next task, is not about God. It does not glorify God. It does not give thanks to God. Because in my rush to make my life look just like I want it to look, I entertain not gratitude, but discontentment--discontentment about not completing my list; discontentment about having too much to do; discontentment about being stressed out; discontentment with my blessed life. This discontentment is not like God.

This lack of gratitude empties my soul.

I don’t want an empty soul.

As Voskamp says, “ I just want time to do my one life well.”

I want to focus on God and have perfect peace—He promises that peace if I steadfastly look upon Him.  He is right here. Right now. In this moment. And in the next.

Rushing ahead won’t help me see Him more clearly. Rushing ahead won’t give me that peace that I crave.

But putting Him first will.

O Lord, please slow my pace, clear my vision, and fill my soul with You.


Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
   He bustles about, but only in vain…

Psalm 39:6

You will keep in perfect peace
   him whose mind is steadfast,
   because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Monday, May 9, 2011

‘member that time?

Now that you have almost forgotten about our long Iowa winters, here’s a little reminder…

‘member that time when we were traveling in a snowstorm one Christmas and how it got so bad that we had to stop in Blue Earth, Minnesota and stay at a 200 year old motel? And member how Mom laid out blankets on the floor for us to sleep on even though the floor was covered with cockroaches and other bugs? And remember how Mom and Dad got to sleep on the bed with no crawling bugs?

I always thought that was unfair.

It’s ‘member that time Monday again!  Get over to http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/ and  share your own unfair memories!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

And the Answer is…(3)

Tess’ Defense

(dictated to me)

Lately, I’ve seen the overwhelming love of Jesus in my life.  Like several weeks ago, I was really stressed out about many things and I felt like I had too much to do, so I prayed that God would take something away and He canceled a track meet in a way only He could.  It made me feel very loved to know that God cared even about the little things in my life.  I’ve also seen His love recently when I wrote support letters and was nervous about raising the required amount of money.  I decided to pray for the people I sent the letters to, and I quickly received responses back from many generous supporters.  This could only be God.  God shows himself in my life through His love for me.  It makes me smile when I receive one of these little hugs from God. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

And the Answer is…(2)

Shay’s Defense: The Hope I Have

What is the reason for the hope that I have?  It’s simply this; Jesus Christ, His peace, His comfort, His wisdom, and His gift of eternal life that He gives willingly to all who ask.

How is all of this relevant in my life?  How is God daily giving me hope?  God is turning my mind from the disparity of this world and focusing it in on Him.  Through this constant refocusing on God, one of the reoccurring themes in my life has been an unconditional trust in God.  My distrust in God displays itself in worry and timidity.  God is constantly reminding me that He is in total control of my life and worry will do nothing to change my circumstances.  He loves me and has my best interest in mind, and all I need to do is give Him complete control of my life. 

Not only has He shown me how to give up my cares to Him, but when I do release my worries, He grants me peace.  That’s the reason I have hope, because God is in me, constantly changing my thoughts.  He has granted me the peace and freedom that comes with trust, and He is constantly refocusing me on Him, His peace, His comfort, and His gift of eternal life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And the Answer is…

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

1 Peter 3:15

Last week at family breakfast (which we have every Wednesday because it is a late-start day for the kids), Brent told the kids a story about a question he was asked recently.  A business associate had seen an article about Brent and me in our church’s Intersect magazine.  Amazed at what he read, this man asked Brent, “You don’t really believe all of the God stuff you say in there, do you?” And in that instant, Brent had to give an answer—a quick but clear answer—to this searching soul.  Brent’s confidence in Christ and what Christ had done in his life gave him the clarity necessary to say, “I most certainly DO believe it and here’s why…”

After sharing this experience, Brent role-played with each of the kids so that they had to share their faith quickly, succinctly-- off-the-cuff.  We were disappointed in their shaky, clumsy attempts at defending their faith, and we realized that they had really never thought through the reasons for the Hope that they held within. So, we decided to do something…and they got an assignment for next week’s family breakfast:  Each child had to look up the above verse in 1 Peter, decide why they believed in Jesus, and explain how they were different now that they knew Him—all in a clear, minute long answer. 

After a week, a little time to think, and a little study, the kids gave their “reports” and we were much more pleased with their responses. Cole’s is below and Shay’s and Tess’ will follow later this week. 

Now, though they are still in process like the rest of us, they are much more prepared to “give an answer to everyone who asks them the reason for the hope that they have.”

Are you?


Cole’s Defense

Yes, I really DO believe in that [God stuff].  God is my Savior and my Friend. 

God has changed me in many ways; He has given me no desire to disobey what a teacher says, or to swear, to listen to music that I shouldn’t be listening to, or look at pictures that I shouldn’t be looking at.  He has made me not want to do those things.

God has also changed my mind and how I think.  He is teaching me about how not to look at girls, how to be humble, and how to love people who are mean to me.

God is my Lord and my Savior, who sent his Son to die on the cross, and yes, I give my whole life to Him.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Exam

When I was in elementary school in Clinton, Minnesota, in Mrs. DeGroet’s second grade class, I couldn’t see the blackboard.  So Mrs. D. moved me to the front row and she told my parents.

My parents then took me to a optometrist friend of theirs who lived in Montevideo, Minnesota (a town from which we had moved just a few years earlier) who told them I needed glasses.  This was no surprise.

Being the fashion aficionado that I was at 7, I chose the ultra cool rosewood colored aviator frames and I was lookin’ fine!

But, let’s back up a little;  beings’ (this a word that my father uses.  I think this is how you spell it, although he always pronounces it “beans”) this was my first experience at the eye doctor, I remember it very well.  As my little self sat in the big chair, Roger, the doctor, put this awkward looking contraption in front of my face.  It had lots of little circles of lenses surrounding each eyehole and I was supposed to look through it, so look through it I did.  Those of you with glasses know what I am talking about. 

As I looked through the monster face, Roger asked me which lens looked better; 1 or 2; 3 or 4?  He did this over and over, again and again with lots of different lens combinations as I peered through at an alphabet chart on the wall.  It all seemed very strange to me.

When I was done with this clear and cloudy game, and when Roger seemed satisfied with my answers, I got to go out to the “glasses room” and try on mom-styles, librarian-styles, Elton John-styles, and finally, my chosen aviators.  But since the whole ‘Pearl Vision Express’ idea was not a reality yet, I had to leave my adorable frames there until my lenses arrived a few weeks later.  I was crushed since I thought I looked at least 9 in my new specs and I wanted to wear them home.

When the lenses did arrive to the Optometrist's, and when they were placed into my chosen frames, Mom and Dad and I took another trip to Montevideo to pick them up. I was thrilled!

On the car ride home in my new glasses, I could see clearly! I had no idea that I had not been seeing well, so when I put these beauties on and saw individual blades of grass and trees made up of many leaves—not just a big green mass, I was totally awed!  In my excitement, I talked all the way home about all the things I was now “seeing”.  My world had totally changed and I understood it so much better.

I tell you this long drawn out story to illustrate a point:

Sometimes I think that we are so used to seeing things the way that the world sees them—the way that the Devil warps them with his lens--that we aren’t even aware that our vision is clouded.  It is only when we go to the Word of God and put on His “glasses” of Truth and Beauty that we can see the way we ought to live.  When we see our situation through Satan’s lens, circumstances at times seem hopeless and unbearable.  But when viewed through the lens of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we see hope and the opportunity of growing to be more like Him through our trials.

Sometimes, I also think that we need to do little ‘vision’ tests with ourselves to make sure our ‘prescription’ is still up to date.  We need to ask ourselves, “Which kind of music helps me think more lovely things?  1 or 2?  “Are the thoughts going through my brain right now wholesome (3) or unwholesome (4)?  Do the people I spend my time with make God look clearer or foggier? 

When we spend time in the presence of the Lord, our vision becomes His vision and we begin to see things more and more clearly—things we never saw before!  The renewed mind that God promises us becomes the filter through which we see everything.  Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good and pleasing and perfect will. 

And then we will really be lookin’ FINE!


The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23

Monday, May 2, 2011

‘member that time?

Being the youngest of three girls had some great advantages… EXCEPT when Mom bought us all matching outfits.  Can you say “matching hand-me-downs?” 

‘member that time when Mom bought us all those really itchy blue sweater outfits with a frog on the front of them? And member how uncomfortable they were? And member how I wore them for six years straight and how Mom made me wear them for school pictures one year and I look kind of constipated or something? I really wasn’t constipated, I was just sick of wearing the same outfit for so long. Member that?

I will never make my own children wear never-ending sweater pants.


It’s ‘member that time Monday again!  Get over to http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/ and  share your own uncomfortable memories!