Saturday, November 17, 2007


Haze of moonlight on the field,
Cows are lowing soft goodnight;
Hoot owls chortle in delight,
Harvest moon - its magic sealed.
Far below it's blaze of might,
November winds their powers wield
Barren branches refuse to yield,
Their naked arms embrace the light.
Harvest moon, such glorious shield
From harsh winter's coming blight,
Shadows merge with thee this night,
As earth's bustling is stilled.
Soft the hue, such beauteous light,
My loving Maker, oh so skilled,
I stand in frailty, small, yet thrilled,
To share this moment of pure white.
- Jen Christner

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's Go Sailing In A Hot Air Balloon

I took this picture a few days ago while we were out on one of our many deep country drives. I wish that I could say that this is the exact way the picture turned out on my camera, but it is not. With a little help from Adobe Photoshop Elements, I managed to capture the blue that the sky really was. However, I still like my camera. I just have not learned all the "bells and whistles" that go with "pro" photography.

Looks like fun, doesn't it?
"OH, I'm on top of the world, lookin' down on all creation........................."

Thankful Reflections

Dear readers, Here is something I wrote and shared with our church family tonight in honor of the coming holiday. I hope you enjoy!

I am sure that every person has special Thanksgiving memories which they could share, and I wish that time would permit us to do just that. But, since this was a rather spur-of-the-moment idea for service tonight, I will share some things that are special to me at Thanksgiving time.
I have to say that I am sad, nostalgic, and excited all at once this year. Only a person with bi-polar tendencies could experience all of these emotions at once, but I will leave that up to you to decide on! Joking, joking...
I am sad because Daddy will be alone on Thanksgiving — my sister, Ruth, is a nurse and has to work that day. My other sister had other plans. I am 700 miles from home with no way to try to recapture a little of the grandeur which Mother always managed to create for our special holiday.
I am nostalgic because all I have are sweet memories to hold close on Thanksgiving. In the midst of this rather morose litany though, I have to pause and say to you, Isn’t it so wonderful that God has given us memories? I am so very thankful this year that, even as I feel tears running down the windowpanes of my heart, the memories of holidays past kindle the flames of recollection which warm my very soul. I have no doubt that my courageous father will be beside that hearth of memory as well, sitting by enjoying the memories of what was.
I am excited because God has been so gracious to me and has allowed me the opportunity to work amongst people who are gracious and loving. When I wander through the rooms of the parsonage and remember the cramped, cluttered space which we called home for the past five years, I am filled with so much gratitude that you have provided your pastor and family with such a lovely home. I feel so unworthy. Yet, I have to say that I am enjoying decorating and preparing for Thanksgiving.
I love the traditions which surround Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. I love the after-dinner ride into the country for a couple of hours. Now, there was one time when I failed to have much love for the after- dinner ride. Travel twenty years back with me: My family was out on this traditional ride when a rather raucous booming sound announced the demise of an already paper-thin tire. Back then, filling stations, grocers, everything, closed, so here we sat, in the country with a flat tire, thirty miles from home and helpless. My poor father tried the can of "flat-tire fixer" which he actually happened to have along, but it is rather hard to repair something that looks like grandma’s flour sifter in the first place. Then, Daddy found a piece of plastic which fit perfectly in the shred that called itself a tire. Excitement reigned for the space of half a minute as the plastic held on long enough to raise the tire just enough to raise our hopes. Another loud explosion sounded and we all bailed from the car, sure that Daddy was now half the size he had been when we left the house (from being blown in half, of course).
Eventually, my father managed to contact a neighbor of ours by payphone and he drove thirty miles to bring us a spare tire that was in almost as bad a shape as the one which had expired in such an untimely manner. But, do you know what I remember most? I remember the fact that someone interrupted their special day to help us out and the gratitude that filled my nine year old heart when they pulled up beside our stranded family. I was also never so glad to see home as I was that night.
As I said, I love traditions, but this year, I have decided to not be so bound to being traditional that I cannot enjoy some new things, too. So, I am taking a huge risk (not something I like to do as a general rule), and making traditional foods with all-new recipes. I refuse to live in a tradition of heartache over the past when God has given me such a bright present and glorious future. I may have a moment of sadness when I think of what was, but I have every reason to look forward and celebrate life, family, friends, and love right now.
If I were homeless on the street with nothing but the clothes on my back, no money and not knowing where my next meal would come from, I could still find the spirit of celebration in my heart because of this one thing: No matter what happens to the physical body, as long as my soul is safe in Jesus, I have every cause to be thankful. I hope I never have to put these words to the test, but if I should, I hope I will be able to remember this and lift my heart in praise to the Redeemer of all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Happy Autumn Days to one and all! I have spent the last few days perusing my old traditional recipes, shopping for ingredients, checking out new ideas for traditional foods on, and generally getting very excited about the coming holiday.
For those of you who do not know this already: I am not one to do a lot of cooking. One look at my profile picture testifies to the fact that I have indulged one happy meal too many, but when Thanksgiving time comes 'round, all my matronly, housewife and chef instincts come to the 'fore.
This year is so special, as I have such a beautiful home to enjoy decorating with fall decor like the little guy above. Now, technically, I think it is a girl, but all stuffed items are "he/guys" to me :-)
More than that, I am filled with such gratitude at all the things which God has blessed me with - things I did not deserve, yet His gracious love gave them anyway. We are such a blessed nation and people!
Things are fun, but they are not the most important part of life. When I realize what great lengths a holy God would go to so that I could have forgiveness and an eternal home with Him, my heart overflows with thankfulness, gratitude and humility. (P.S. Check out my latest book: Humility and How I Obtained It!) HA! You know what I mean...
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the smell of roasting turkey, baking pies, cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove, and all the excitement of getting ready for our happy day. At the same time, I have decided to branch out in my culinary skills and go for some new recipes this year.
However, the results will be shared after the antacids have been faithfully ingested and the mention of food no longer stimulates a cacophony of groans across the blog world!
Join me in the excitement of planning, baking, and, yes, feasting, as we praise the Bountiful Giver of all things.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Autumn Evening in Amish Country

Treasures in Simplicity

One evening, last week, Alan, Emily and I drove out to Amish Country-only 10 miles from where we live- to relish the beauty of God's marvelous creation in the simple, unfettered setting of the Plain people.

Alan recently bought me a sweet little camera for our 7th Anniversary. It is an Olympus SP-550 UZ. This particular camera has flattened the market for all other point-and-shoot camera's. An SLR expert wrote on "DPREVIEW.COM" that it is the closest thing to SLR that you can get. With an amazing 18X optical zoom, I can reach out and touch someone from quite a distance. So, together, we armed ourselves with cameras (he is a Nikon, SLR fan, while I like something to take video with), and ventured out to roads that are not even marked on any map. Here you see a couple of my favorites from that marvelously fun evening.

We were some distance away when we topped the hill to find these young girls gathered excitedly in the road discussing the next quilting, barn raising, or "happening." I could not resist this nostalgic shot with the buggy in the background and the general pastoral view surrounding these girls.

In the next scene, I screeched for Alan to stop when I saw the absolutely gorgeous light of the setting sun on these flaming trees. The shadow from the ridge behind me had darkened the Amish farm below, but the light still shone brilliantly on those beautifully arrayed trees. And if you are a hopeless romantic like I am, the fence post in the foreground of the picture really makes the picture nice. Oh well, I think its pretty anyway :-)
I have more pictures to share, but I must get some rest for tomorrow is another big day full of exciting adventures. I love the fact that God gives us such a wonderful life when we live for Him. No. Life is not always easy, but it definitely is interesting!
God said, I make all things new! And I believe that includes every day and event in our lives. Hold on to that thought today as Thanksgiving approaches.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Overflowing October Daze!

Hello everybody! It is with red face that I begin this latest update in the saga of our lives. Why? Because, I never posted one thing this last month, but here is why:
I have never had such a busy month in my life, I think.

This past month, we have hosted two missionary families, a college quartet, our ever-expanding youth group from the church, and two Workdays on Saturday the 21st and the 28th. Not only this, Alan also prayed with a dying woman to be saved then conducted her funeral (his 1st funeral) one week later. Also, our church people absolutely outdid themselves in expressing their love and appreciation to our family for "Pastor's Appreciation Month." The first Sunday we received a food "pounding" along with almost two-hundred dollars worth of gift cards to local grocers. The 2nd week a generous love offering was lifted for us. The 3rd week, we received a lovely dinner on Sunday, prepared by several of the gracious ladies of our church. I might add that it was fabulous! Then this past Sunday we received a card shower in which there were many kind and special words of affirmation for us. We are spoiled and well-loved and blessed by the precious people of our congregation. My conclusion to all of this love is that I want to strive to be worthy of all of this blessing and be the best person I can be to each of our parishoners.

As you can readily see, I have been too busy to know whether I am coming or going. I forgot to mention that I participated in a local cooking class, and Alan and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary on the 14th of October. Phew! I am worn out looking at this long list of "happenings!" I have many more things to tell, but for now I will stop and take this up later.

I am thankful for the verse that tells us, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Soul-rest goes a long way in helping you to cope with the busyness of life. That is what I love about my precious Savior and Lord. God Bless You, dear friend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Falling Back Into Blogging

Dear Readers, It has been over a month since I posted anything new. There is a reason for this and it is known as a computer crash. I have finally restored my electronic brain and wanted to post in long enough to tell you all that I am relishing the autumn days that are fast approaching.
The sound of hundreds of birds heralding their annual fall migration, the brilliant gold, orange, and red leaves which are transforming a green world into a tapestry of color, and the nip in the air every morning fill me with energy and excitement. I love God's creation and, for me, fall is my favorite season of the year.
My husband has to work at the car parts store tomorrow, so Emily and I are going to sit by our double french doors in the kitchen and savour the aroma of baking chocolate chip cookies and some fall cutout cookies for her benefit!
I have a lovely pumpkin spice hand lotion which I enjoy using right now. Added to this, I have an elegant Pumpkin Pie scented candle that I enjoy burning in the evening.
Fall is one of those time which cause me to reflect on change and on God's blessings to me. I have many things to be thankful for this year. But that is another post for another day. As you should know by now, my family is snoozing happily in bed while I burn the AFTER-midnight oil. I am almost falling asleep myself, so goodnight one and all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Love People

Good evening everyone! Once again I am taking a few minutes before I crash to review a few things on my heart. I feel a little like a small boy from a neighboring church whose mother overheard her son playing church. He asked his audience of stuffed teddy bears if they had any prayer requests and this is how he said it, "Stuff on our hearts?"
Well, I suppose all of us have "stuff" that troubles us, or "stuff" we wish we could express to someone who understands. That is the neat thing about having Jesus in my heart: I always have someone who cares about my "stuff."
This brings me to the title of this particular reflection. I love people. Tonight was church night for us. We meet for informal Bible study and prayer. I am amazed at the elderly group we have in our small church. One man is on dialysis three days a week, but he always has a big smile, an encouraging testimony, and a bright outlook on life. Another lady in our church is having constant trouble lately with an irregular heartbeat. In spite of this, her million dollar smile would make the saddest clown alive laugh and feel better instantly.
Then, there are people who are complete strangers to me, but I get acquainted with them at the grocery store, Walmart, etc... Tonight, after church I met a woman my age who was a neighbor of my husband when he was growing up. One look into her face and big brown eyes told me a story of a very painful past. We started talking and soon I was able to exchange phone numbers and arrange to have her come to my house to scrapbook. She is a scrapbook manic like myself! Guess what? I am soo excited. While I get to enjoy a hobby that is very special to me, I can also use that time as a ministry tool to reach out to hurting people like this hurting lady.
My husband says I would try to get a friendship established with a signpost and I guess that is true. Case in point: I have a group of very special ladies that I periodically meet with for a three and one-half hour scrapbooking session. I have to back up a 50 car train to the door to unload all of my "stuff" into the fellowship building where this "Scrapper's Anonymous Meeting" takes place. The crazy thing is that I usually never even complete one page. Why? Because I spend my time talking to and listening to these precious ladies who come from all different backgrounds, age groups, and even faiths. It is in these times that I can share my love for people and my love for Jesus with them. I think the church that came up with this idea to open their doors for community scrapbookers is a wonderful way to witness and it also helps we ladies develop friendships that would never have happened otherwise.
Well, enough of my ravings about the wonder of humanity. But, dear reader, whoever you are, I wish I was your best friend and I wish I could get to know you better. If you know Jesus, whether we ever meet here, I will meet you in Heaven some day. Won't that be exciting. Love to all and good night.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Hi everybody! It has been awhile since I shared any thoughts with you. Again it is late and I am enjoying a few minutes of connecting with fellow bloggers out there. I love my new place. I guess I find new joys the longer I am here in this beautiful parsonage which the church has graciously provided for us to live in. Tonight I am particularly thankful for our lovely "lavender" bedroom. Since Alan and I have been married, we have always wanted to decorate a bedroom in lavender and purple. Until now, we have lived in homes that are paneled! The first time we toured this home with the deacons of the church we both looked at each other open-mouthed (behind their backs) because this particular room is painted the EXACT shade that we have always dreamed about. It is painted lavender with white trim and we have hung lavender curtains with white lace valences. This room is in the upstairs area of the home and has gabled ceilings on each side. Then two windows overlook our backyard where three large trees spread their canopy of shade over a large area. Last night, I drifted to sleep with the gentle breeze wafting through the windows, the sounds of crickets, tree frogs, and all those comforting summer night sounds singing God's gracious lullaby into my grateful ears. Then the icing on the cake came in the form of a gentle summer rain trickling down softly through the thick foliage of leaves on the trees outside our house. As I sailed away to dream land I thought of the verse where Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I WILL GIVE YOU REST!" That is exactly what he did for us last night after a heavy day of ministering to hurting people.
As for this pretty room, I think of the words from Scripture which say, Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He SHALL give thee the desires of thine heart!" Now, maybe I am taking things out of context a bit, but it surely applies to my heart tonight!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Peace in the Storm

It seems as if I only find time to write when the rest of my world is sleeping. Can I get a witness from all the mothers out there? By the time you have devotions, fold the laundry, cook the meals, wash the dishes, take numerous phone calls into the parsonage and keep up with the constant clutter that trails the wake of a two year old, you cannot expect to have much time for blogging or anything else! Somedays I do more "slogging" (in the South that means that you are barely getting thru!) than blogging! HA!
For the last few weeks since I moved into this new house which is the first parsonage and pastorate for our family, I have experienced a lot of tumultuous emotions that are very close to the storm which is raging outside tonight. I need to talk to my oldest sister, Rachel. She had so much wisdom and practical sense to offer, but she died almost five years ago. Then torrents of tears roll through my soul and sorrow thunders into my heart without warning when I think about my mother who was a pastor's wife "par excellence" and a woman of grace. I know that she could guide me through all of the mine fields that I keep making for myself, albeit I do this unwittingly. She would know exactly what to tell me. My hand reaches for the phone, but a strike of lightening upon my memory reminds me that pancreatic cancer took Mother out of here over a year ago.
Now that we are all thoroughly depressed, I want to tell you that this storm is very hard to endure, but I have found the ultimate shelter and peace in the midst of this violent onslaught. My source of peace in this wild night of the soul is none other than the "Master of the Winds and the Waves" Jesus Christ. Remember the time that Jesus was asleep in the little fishing vessel on the Sea of Galilee and a terrible storm came up. The disciples were terrified and cried out to Jesus, "Don't you care that we are about to die?" The Bible tells us that Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm with these words, "Peace be still!" We are told that IMMEDIATELY the winds and the waves became totally still and that the storm stopped. Wow! This same Jesus is the Author of Peace and has come into the midst of my storm and has given me a safe shelter and "peace that passes all human understanding. Yes, I have squalls come up at times, but He is there with me and gently ministers to my broken heart and gives me healing and peace in the storm.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

It is late at night and I find myself very happy to know that we survived another Sunday. Considering that we were sick all night with food poisoning on Saturday night, I am relieved that God helped us through this day.
I was challenged by my husband's message this morning from Nehemiah 2. He likened the city of Jerusalem (which is known as the City of Peace) to the spiritual heart of man. It is from this place that we should have the center of our peace through Jesus Christ. Also, Alan compared Nehemiah (who went to view the ruins of Jerusalem's walls in secret) to the Holy Spirit. If the walls of the heart have been broken down by the enemy of the soul, Satan, then the Spirit will often assess the condition of the heart of man before that man ever realizes the gentle work of the Spirit in his life to bring about restoration.
Nehemiah said that the King was behind him supporting his desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In fact, the King provided all the resources needed to repair and restore the walls even better than they were before they were destroyed. The Holy Spirit will remind the man who has fallen away from God's love and the person who has never known salvation, that the resources for building the walls of protection against sin and failure around the redeemed heart have been provided by Jesus Christ, God's Son, through His death and resurrection.
He then closed the message by saying that there is hope for the backslider and the one who has never been saved. But, he also warned believer's to keep a guard on the gates of the heart because if there is even a small breach, then anything can get inside and destroy the soul.
For me, I was stirred and challenged to ask the Lord to help me to keep the walls of my heart well guarded and maintained by consistency in prayer and study of the Word of God. (Yes, we pastor's wives struggle to find time for devotions like everyone else:-) I want the Lord to help me to repair any weak spots that might be present in the walls of my heart. Walled cities in ancient times were built to keep out bad things (enemies) and let in only the good things (riches and friends). In the spiritual life, it is the same way.
Lord, help me to learn from this message and begin to see fruit in my life even this week!
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings, dear reader. I do come by my interest in theological discussions honestly, though. Not only am I a pastor's wife, but I was also raised a "Preacher's Kid." These types of discussions were exciting dinner conversation when I was growing up. I just hope that you my lay readers were able to endure. Good Night!