Winter Hiking

Sunday, November 30, 2014

We hiked Mount Mansfield yesterday, and it was absolutely wild! The temperature was well below freezing, and with a wind of about 40 mph, there was an incredible windchill. We all went bundled up as much as possible, with backpacks full of additional layers just in case - which we ended up needing. Starting the climb at past 3:00 p.m. meant that we would be hiking in the dark, so we all brought headlamps and had to switch them on well before we reached the top. But it was amazingly beautiful! The sun was setting as we climbed the aptly-named Sunset Ridge trail, and by the time we got out of the trees, it was totally dark.

Here are a few pictures...

At this point it began to get extremely cold, and our fingers & toes were muttering anxiously about frostbite, so we were happy to be heading down. :) It was a wonderful first hike of the winter season, and we are looking forward to many more these coming months!

Thankfulness Day 34: Last Thankfulness Series Post!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 

It's been a great experience to do this Thankfulness series. Today I am especially thankful for my amazing brother Isaac who did it with me... we've had a ton of fun together as we've relived old memories, pondered the many things we're thankful for, and occasionally commiserated in that "uh-oh, I didn't post yet today" feeling. :)

And by the way, the end of the series doesn't mean the end of posting - both of us will be back here regularly, so stay tuned!

Thankfulness Day 33: A Thanksgiving Funny

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The weather forecast for tomorrow: 

Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 165F. The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.

During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. Please pass the gravy.

A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway. During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34F in the refrigerator.

Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established. Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50 percent chance of scattered soup late in the day. We expect a warming trend where soup develops. By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone.

Thankfulness Day 32: Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two years ago, the guys bought me a little leather copy of Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" daily devotional. It has changed my life. Seriously. Every day I read in it, and every day I am encouraged, convicted, and reminded again and again and again of God's unchanging Truths. Still can't figure out how I even survived before I knew of this book. If you don't have a copy yet, get one! Now! :)

I have been particularly struck by recent readings, specifically those that deal with Life in the Ordinary. What are we striving for? We must have the faith to live between the mountaintops, to grab hold of the promises that looked so clear on top of the mountain, and keep holding onto them even when we're trudging through Yet Another Valley.

From November 16th: "The great marvel of the Incarnation slips into ordinary childhood's life; the great marvel of the Transfiguration vanishes in the devil-possessed valley; the glory of the Resurrection descends into a breakfast on the seashore. This is not an anti-climax, but a great revelation of God.

"The tendency is to look for the marvelous in our experience.... It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we do not want medieval haloes, we want something that will make people say -- 'what a wonderful man of prayer he is! What a pious devoted woman she is!' .... It takes God's spirit in us to make us so absolutely humanly His that we are utterly unnoticeable. The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is."


Thankfulness Day 31: Memories from Mesa Verde

Monday, November 24, 2014

We have so many great memories from time spent in Mesa Verde last year! Here are some very random pictures... 

Like father, like son

Almost to the top...

Time for a quick rest!

Surveying the valley floor

Apparently there is more than one way to get off a rock.

Love him.

Yours truly

Thankfulness Day 30: The Wisdom of the Elderly

Friday, November 21, 2014

"The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." Prov. 16:31

We love you, Nanny Rose. :)

Thankfulness Day 29: Cross-Cultural Living

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I am so grateful for all the opportunities we have had as a result of ten years' worth of traveling and ministry. One of those opportunities has been to live cross-culturally and experience many different (sometimes extremely different!) kinds of people, places, foods, customs, and languages. It has provided a unique worldview for us, has caused us to have a deep and genuine love for people, and has helped us to be flexible and easygoing. I wouldn't trade our experiences for anything!

Example:  our annual stay in Amish country, while Papa does intensive counseling with those who have come out of Amish and Old Order Mennonite cultures.  Through extended periods of time living among them,  we have developed lasting friendships and have been invited into their inner circles.

For the last 5 years, Curtis has expressed much interest in setting up a medical clinic in one of the more isolated and under-served Amish communities; we all share the love he has for these warm, down-to-earth people.  None of us knows yet where God will open doors for each of us to spread the gospel, but we look forward to serving Him wherever He places us!

Thankfulness Day 28: Our Resident Dove

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I just couldn't resist posting pictures of this naughty little dove who hangs out on our back deck... the Hairy Woodpecker knocks down seeds from the feeder, and this bird-sized vacuum cleaner is provided with a handy lunch. He (or she?) shuffles back and forth on the deck, coos at us through the window, and seems to enjoy taking naps in the snow:

I am so grateful for all the wildlife we have around here (and thanks to Augs for taking such great pictures)!

Thankfulness Day 27: Curtis

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Curtis' birthday today!

What an awesome, incredible blessing God gave us when He put Curtis in our family. 
Amazing brother, best friend, confidant, leader, encourager, gifted evangelist, tender-hearted, strong, fun-loving, discipler of many, fellow coffee lover, solid man of God, future Doctor...
The list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Now in his second year of medical school, Curtis is well on his way towards medical missions, with an unshakable heart for the lost and an unquenchable love for God's Word. Curtis is well-loved, well-respected, and much looked up to by everyone around him for his rare strength of character and integrity. 

He has already had an impact on many lives at medical school, and looks forward to serving God through missions in the future. But Curtis firmly believes that the Missional Life doesn't start when he becomes an M.D.; God calls every one of us to be a missionary, right where we are. It isn't about traveling to a far-away country where the people don't look like you. It is about being salt and light, serving the Body of Christ, and winning souls for Him, right HERE.

Curtis knows what he believes and where he's going in life. I am so thankful to be his sister, and to be by his side, witnessing first-hand the greatness of God and the powerful effect of one man following the ways of Christ.

Happy Birthday, Curtis!

P.S. If you'd like to leave a comment to wish him happy birthday (a great idea!), just click here.

Thankfulness Day 26: An Early Birthday Party

Monday, November 17, 2014

It is Curtis' birthday tomorrow, so the rest of us have been conspiring together for a while, and yesterday we threw a surprise birthday party for him! It was organized by one of C's study partners, and we all had a blast, even if it was SO hard to keep it a surprise. :)

 Ike & Ibs putting up some Christmas decorations

 And the party begins!

 Three of Curtis' classmates - Dale (in the black), Trishul (in the red), and Asaad on the far right.

 Asaad & his wife Jasmine, and Eric with one of his kids

 Lighting the candles, with help from Joanna (Eric's wife)

 Still working on the bonfire...

And a concert by Eric. There were also many games of ping-pong, plus invigorating discussions, much consuming of Trishul's world-famous cooking, and reminiscing over good memories from this past year. It was a wonderful time, and we look forward to many more like it.

Happy early-Birthday, Curtis!

Thankfulness Day 25: Guests from Afar

Friday, November 14, 2014

I am so thankful for good friends who travel all the way from Texas to see us! A few days ago we were privileged to enjoy the company of these wonderful people:

[partway up Stowe Pinnacle]

It was so good to connect with them again, share stories, and hear about what God is doing in their lives. Fellowship with like-minded believers is a rare thing here in Vermont, so these times of encouragement are precious to us.

And of course, a visit isn't quite complete without a game of Speed Scrabble...

Thankfulness Day 24: SNOW!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

[photo taken by Augs]

Thankfulness Day 23: Fellow Puzzlers

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yes, we did make cupcakes after working on this thing for hours! :)

Thankfulness Day 22: Biblical Teaching

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What a whirlwind these past two weeks have been! Between the Islands trip, guests from Texas, the GMHC conference trip, keeping up with normal life, and about two hundred other things, I have been quite busy. I am very thankful for early mornings in the Word, long discussions with family members as we drive, and three amazing days of conference messages. 

There are two themes that stood out to me in the conference - the first is faith, and the second is trust. A couple of things that really spoke to me (from my notes):

"God will give you what you need to be faithful to Him.... God is still doing amazing things in the lives of normal people." (from Dr. Kent Brantly, ebola survivor) What we must do is trust Him and let Him rule our lives, and He will provide what we need in the right time.

Dr. Cook gave an excellent message on finding God's will for your life. He explained that the sin of Adam and Eve came down to self-direction - doing what they wanted and deciding for themselves what they would surrender or obey - and the sin of Cain was similar, deciding for himself what to sacrifice.

My favorite message of all was given by Dr. Tramonte. "Religion and our own 'good works' get in the way of God's love working through us.... You don't know grace if you are still performing, trying to please God.... If you want to get right with God, let go and let Him love you." Wow. How often I need to remember that, to remind myself that it isn't about what I can do on my strength. On my strength, I can do nothing.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to hear Biblical teaching. And here is one more picture, something else I am very thankful for... Mexican food!!

[oh YUM.]

Thankfulness Day 21: A Young French Friend

Monday, November 10, 2014

A couple weeks ago I mentioned Etienne -- a young boy from Les Iles de la Madeleine. I love practicing French with him, his laugh is super contagious, and he always has a positive outlook on life. Here's a little snippet of video to give you an idea of what a Madelinot accent sounds like... :)

Thankfulness Day 20: An Amazing Conference

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Global Health and Missions Conference has been just as amazing as ever this year. We got here yesterday and have been enjoying excellent messages ever since, interspersed with meeting interesting people, networking in the vendor hall, and having amazing times of worship in a crowd of thousands. There is much to write about and I will share my notes here soon, but for now, here are a couple of quick pictures. Disclaimer: they were all taken with a phone, so please pardon the blurry quality :)

Looking out over the main auditorium

Christian Medical and Dental Association members' ice cream social
(and yes, dinner was Chick-fil-A...yum)

Dr. David Stevens interviewed Kent & Amber Brantly this evening. It was fascinating to hear Kent's story of how God has worked in his life, and the opportunities he has been given to share the Gospel through the Ebola crisis.

Thankfulness Day 19: Memories from Pike's Peak

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I was looking through some old pictures the other day, and came across these. In the spring of 2013, we were driving across the U.S. and one of the stops was Colorado. Well, since we were already there, and since it was a Sunday afternoon, we decided to drive up Pike's Peak...

 A quick snowball fight on the way up

After a while, things started getting really interesting:

There were occasional large patches of ice and snow on the road, so we were very thankful for Papa's good driving!

The views were absolutely spectacular.

 Here we are, finally at the top!




And last but not least... the world-famous donuts!

Thankfulness Day 18: God's Creation

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Traveling extensively around North America has given us many unique opportunities, and one of those has been the many examples of God’s creation that we have been privileged to see.  And in several cases, we have actually lived for a while in an area, using it as a base, while Papa works with many churches and families in the greater surroundings. In that way, we have been blessed to experience many different cultures and regions, and we have learned to appreciate the beauty in each place.

Just last week, we were out on some tiny far-flung Islands in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, where the voice of the sea is always present and the salty wind blows constantly… and a few months ago we spent time in the Hill Country of Texas, a dry land of rugged beauty and warm-hearted people… and there are the beautiful rolling-hilled farmlands of Indiana and elsewhere… and the almond orchards of California… too many places to count.

And there is the desert. I have always loved the desert too.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." -Psalm 19:1-3

Thankfulness Day 17: Last Hikes of the Season

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This has been a fabulous season for hiking. The Fall colours were amazing this year, and there is no better way to appreciate them than to see them from above! This picture was taken on the top of Hunger Mountain (which is practically right in our backyard), and as the sign says, it is only a few miles away from Stowe Pinnacle, which wins the prize for our favorite hike this season. One of these days we hope to take the Skyline Trail, which connects the two peaks, and adds several more winding miles through the Vermont woods. Yesterday we discovered that there is already slippery snow and ice on some of the trails... I am so grateful for a wonderful Fall hiking season, and I am very much looking forward to upcoming winter excursions!


Thankfulness Day 16: Safe Travels

Monday, November 3, 2014

This is just a quick picture snapped while we were on the ferry the other day... it was very sad to leave the Islands, yet I am grateful for God's blessing of a fruitful trip and many long miles of enriching conversations. Now we are back in Vermont, and there is a fire in the fireplace, dinner on the stove, and the opportunity to be gathered around the kitchen table as a family again. God has been very gracious to us, and I am thankful for His continued mercies. It is so good to be home!
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