New book available!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bridge to Waterbury is now available for purchase! I will be putting it on Amazon soon, but for now, if you want a copy, please contact me here!

Each copy costs me $8 to print, and anything above that is by donation. 100% of the proceeds go to missions.

Thank you for your support!!

Single Christian girls - Good reasons to work for pay, Part 2

Monday, August 7, 2017

{Joanna Gaines is well known for being a full-time businesswoman and employer in addition to being a wife & mother}

I think we're all agreed that single Christian girls waste their time and talents whenever they pine away for a spouse and live in "waiting mode," filling their time with meaningless tasks and busywork. Life doesn't start at marriage, and there is no guarantee that every single girl will marry, so now is the time to do what we are called to do.

So should a girl primarily volunteer her talents? Or should she use her talents in work that pays her money?

1. Out of her earnings, she blesses needy people by paying them to work for her

Single Christian girls who have strategically earned income reach a financial point where they have enough money to pay another person to do some of what they've been doing, and to teach that person a good skill. Which is smart. And helpful to others.

Every girl has tasks she could farm out: whether it is her ironing, her accounting, her housecleaning responsibilities, her vehicle maintenance... I have friends who hire personal shoppers for their children's clothing, and friends who hire tailors and event planners and gardeners and dog trainers and horse care people.

The more a single girl can delegate to others for pay, the more she is released from mundane tasks and/or tasks she doesn't enjoy doing, and the more she is freed to do the work she was created to do. Her schedule is freed up for tasks of greater long-term importance.

She is also a lot happier because she is blessing others. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

And anytime she has hired help, she has opportunities to disciple that person. When she gives a helper instructions and feedback, she is helping them to grow, and when she shows them kindness and patience, she is showing them the love of Christ without preaching at them.

2. She blesses younger girls by being an example of industry, contentment, financial stewardship, and long-term planning

Hopefully this is true of her: she manages her time and money well, and she has an excellent attitude and great life principles that really stand out in her millennial world.

Every day is an investment in her future. She is fulfilled now, but she is looking ahead to whatever God has planned for her, and she is readying herself for that work. A wise single Christian girl intentionally learns valuable on-the-job skills that will help her to be a better person, friend, and if she marries, a wife and mother. In other words, she is using her talents to gain more talents.

Even if she never marries, she is doing now those tasks that will make her future meaningful. She is certainly not hiding her talents. And she is certainly not biding her time with busywork jobs until she hits some magical older age at which time she will regroup and become the person she was called to be. In other words, she's not waiting to learn the skills of her calling, nor is she waiting to invest her talents in something much bigger.

Too many single girls settle for "lemonade stand" jobs when they are wired by God to do so much more.

My mentor constantly asks me if my current sources of income reflect the work I would do if I knew I wasn't going to get married for another ten years. It's a good question. And, she asks me, am I actively engaged in being a worker in His Kingdom? If I am, my work will spark joy in me.

Yes, it is true that a single girl can be an example to younger girls just by being purposeful with good character and joy in her work, whether she is paid or not. A paid job simply gives a girl more opportunities to bless others with her earnings and her example as she manages those earnings.

Next post: Obvious objections to single Christian girls working for pay

Should single Christian girls work for pay?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Is it better for single Christian girls to volunteer, or to work for pay? Does it even matter?

In my view, the life of a single Christian girl should be all about fulfilling the task God has given her to do. God is her boss: she stewards her talents and her time specifically to please Him.

If God is boss, then whatever paid work or whatever volunteer work she does must fall in line with her life purpose. A wise girl thinks long-term.

It is no girl's life purpose to while away her time waiting for a Good Man to propose.

So what's a girl to do?

First, she looks long-term and beyond the borders of her childhood world to see where she is qualified to bless others, and to see what qualifications she can obtain to bless others.

Her thoughts are not all about herself. She knows that if she works for pay, she has the opportunity to bless others with the earnings of her industry.

Here are two good reasons for Christian single girls to earn money (more reasons in tomorrow's post):

1. She blesses others in the spreading of the Gospel
Every time she shares her earnings with those who are actively spreading the Gospel, she is a partner in keeping missions going.

Whenever she gives any of her hard-earned cash to long-term missionaries, her paid work frees them up to do the work God called them to do. I know what I'm talking about here - my parents have been over ten years on the mission field! We need to keep seasoned and hard-working missionaries on the front lines of remote and difficult fields where their years of experience, knowledge of the culture, genuine love of the people and comfort with the language are valuable assets. Every dollar they receive means more time in evangelism and discipleship and less time raising funds.

An increasing number of millennial girls do this for our family ministry, blessing us so that we can bless others with the Gospel.

2. She blesses her family by her generosity
A girl's financial maturity is evident in how she handles her money. She shows responsibility, service, understanding, compassion, and gratitude every time she helps those who have helped her.

She reaches out to her household - to her parents and her siblings - with her sweet generosity and she deeply blesses them by giving back to those who have given so much to her.

In some cases, a young woman pays rent to her family for her adult lodging. In other situations, a young woman buys things big or small for parents and siblings.

There is no "good girl" rule here: there is no biblical mandate for her to pay rent or to buy needed items for her family.

What she has is a deeply held principle of caring for others beyond herself.

Here's an example: in the Mennonite culture in which my grandparents were raised, acts of generosity towards the home team were common. Nobody applauded when a girl gave back to those who raised her. My grandmother gave entire pay checks to her parents and bought her father an electric mower to make his work easier. My grandfather's parents gave each of their 9 children 40 acres, and when my grandfather left his rural town to work for the government, he gave his 40 acre share to his siblings. This kind of generosity towards the home team was totally normal - it wasn't outstanding.

A wise girl knows that all her money and all her time belong to her Maker: she has an abundance mentality.

Stephen Covey says that singles have one of two orientations: an abundance mentality or a scarcity mentality.

Single girls with the scarcity mentality live with the fear that there is only so much opportunity and goodness and material things and relationships and money out there and that if someone else gets a really big piece of the good stuff, it'll mean less for them. They're afraid to give generously lest they get taken advantage of - they have a hard time giving away money or credit or even gratitude and they have an equally hard time celebrating the generosity or success of other people. They are fearful, insecure, and self-centered, always looking out for number one.

Single girls with an abundance mentality believe that all good things come from God. They are confident and joyful when they share their money and talent.

A wise single girl sees herself as a responsible, generous steward of God's unlimited resources.

Next post: More reasons for single Christian girls to work for pay

We serve a great God

Monday, July 3, 2017

This is what happens when you're driving home at 11:00 p.m. through pouring rain, the freeway is flooded, and you hydroplane at 70 mph, crashing head-on into a concrete barrier and spinning out of control... It happened to a friend of ours on Thursday night after he left our house, but amazingly, he walked away from his smashed car completely unhurt.

Several of us had felt strongly prompted to pray for his safety that night, and now we know why.

We serve an AWESOME God!!!

Are you living in a Relationship Simulator?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

“Hold it a little further to the right,” he said. “Yes…like that. If you want the plane to make a full circle, you have to align the white line on this gauge with the direction you’re heading…”
My eyes locked onto that gauge and its bright readout, then came back to watch the horizon as it slipped past the windows.
“I can see the Shelburne harbor!” I cried. The plane was coming around now and the lake opened out before me, a startling blue beneath the cloudless sky.
The man beside me smiled. “Okay, now have a try at bringing her down. There’s the runway to our right.”
I could see it plainly – a straight black line cutting through the grey-green forest and surrounding businesses that looked like little bug homes from 5000 feet of altitude. I zeroed in on that stretch of pavement. I had to make this.
The altimeter told me I was descending, and there was a jerk as we shifted to the right with changing wind patterns. The yoke was cool under my excited hands, my heart beating a thrilling rhythm. I was getting a taste of my lifelong dream of flying.
“Pull up slightly,” the man said gently, guiding me expertly as the ground came up beneath us. There was a fleeting sensation of floating; that feeling of which I have dreamed for so many years. And then the slight bump as the wheels touched the pavement and we were down.
“Congratulations on making a successful landing,” he said. Then he paused for a moment. “That was really good,” he added quietly.
I let out my breath slowly. Every part of me felt keyed up in a beautiful, wonderful rush. I was living my dream.
Only, I wasn’t. That was just a very, very high-tech flight simulator at a free VT flight academy event.
There’s a reality to the dream of a private pilot’s license: time, effort, and money. Lots and lots of money. Lord-willing, I hope to achieve this dream sooner rather than later! But it’s going to take a lot of work.

A “Relationship Simulator” is a great relationship that mimics marriage, only without the responsibility, without the practical learning, without the reality of joint decision-making, without the deep-level resolution of differences. It is excitement and affection without in-depth examination or compatibility analysis.
I’m not talking about a particular couple here! :) I’m referring to a trend among young people, a situation that church leaders are facing frequently.
Spring has arrived and there is an increasing number of Christian couples who get together and are Just.So.Excited to be “in a relationship!!!!!!!!!” They are naturally so enthusiastic about being liked, about living their dreams, about experiencing the romance of coffee dates and the excitement of phone calls and the beautiful emotional rush of having a special someone to care about, that the real work of finding out if they’re suitable for each other – or possibly the difficult consideration of maybe-this-isn’t-the-right-one – is pushed aside. And when you don’t think too hard about core suitability issues, well, it all feels so right!
Just like in a high-tech flight simulator, there are all the sensations of the real thing. In a simulator like the one I experienced, the whole structure moves (sometimes startlingly) under one’s guidance of the yoke, the brakes work, the flaps cause the aircraft to shift, the ground whirls past below and the wind is unexpected. But one can make a mistake or fail to check the plane over thoroughly and there are no long-term consequences. Ultimately, it is not fully “right”; it is not real. It is a thrill-a-minute without analysis, paperwork, license, or cost.
In the same way, one can experience all the pleasant exciting feelings of being in a relationship, the highs and lows and the minor relational bumps along the way, along with the beautiful dreams of an approaching future as a Married Person, without being fully honest with oneself about the rightness of this person as a lifetime match.
The couples who make it into old age are the couples who get out of the simulator and who save the romance for after the analysis stage.
Their advice to us? Face the hard questions, do the work of relationship-building, and build a solid foundation for a lifetime of love, parenting, and beautiful old age together.
Cheers to awesome, excitement-filled marriages that last!!

A sign of spring...or not yet

Thursday, May 11, 2017

This is what our yard looked like two days ago!

This is what it looks like now:

Yes, those are snow clouds, doing what snow clouds do best: painting our valley white again. We woke up this morning to find a thick layer covering everything, and it was just slightly discombobulating because for a moment, I couldn't remember what season it was. Fall? Winter? Spring? A combo? Huh?

Then I remembered: this happens every year. And Spring IS coming even if it's wearing a white coat at the moment. I know that because 1) the daffodils are still blooming, 2) the grass is still greening, and 3) the Robins are still singing.

Oh, and as I was looking out the kitchen window this afternoon, I saw the very first Eastern Bluebird of the season!! It made me shriek with delight! Ibs can testify to this fact. I LOVE bluebirds.

I'm still waiting for the Indigo Bunting to show up. Any day now...

Back home again

Friday, March 24, 2017

It is hard to believe that our time on Les Iles de la Madeleine is already history, and we are back in our Vermont home again, with only the memories of another trip come and gone to fill our prayers and our dreams.

The time was beyond good. Not only was it a wonderful, awesome adventure - but more importantly, it was an incredibly intense time of ministry, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be a tiny part of God's plans in this remote corner of the world.

If you want to receive email updates and news about what we were doing there ministry-wise, please feel free to contact me!

On the blog-post-able side of things...

{Ike on top of our mountain}

Hiking the mountain beside our house has always been a favorite activity. It's hard to see in this picture, but through all that blowing snow is the vast expanse of the ocean, stretching away on three sides to the unbroken horizon. On sunny days said mountain is a paradise; on wintery days, a wild adventure as hurricane-force winds rip at your jacket, suck your breath away, and threaten to blow you over. Literally.

Going up isn't much of an issue because the wind almost always comes from the North, so it pushes eager hikers from behind as they scale the steep rocky trail on the exposed northern mountainside.

Going down is another adventure altogether. Most often, we opt for the "tunnel trail" - an aptly named slippery chute that points you headlong down through the trees at a 45 degree angle; in the winter this trail becomes a completely iced luge track with only a thin, rat-eaten rope to cling to as you descend at dizzying speed and hope not to hit a tree. It is also advisable to watch for hard, frozen roots poking up out of the ice in unexpected places. (!)

This time around, I avoided the roots, but it had been a long time since we'd slid down the tunnel trail and unfortunately, I did not know that the lifeline rope was broken in one key spot. I hit the place at rather startling speed and felt the frazzled end of the rope jerk through my gloves, dangling uselessly above my head as I hurtled downwards unimpeded over the smooth ice, the trees rushing by in an alarming blur... all except for that one straight ahead that seemed to be getting bigger as I approached...

...And the next thing I knew, my arms were around the tree, my breath coming in relieved gasps, my head inches from the protruding branches, and my ankle in a disturbing twist. Hmmmm. It was very definitely sprained.

But hey - it was our last day on the Islands, so I knew I wouldn't miss many more grand adventures! Plus, I was very grateful that the next two days we were on the road, so I was able to keep my ankle still and let it heal before we arrived back in Vermont, where the mountain tops were covered with five feet of fresh powder and the slopes were calling!

And, a very important fact: a ski boot is a LOT like a cast. :)

Which means that skiing is like medicine. Or something like that...

Leaving for Les Iles de la Madeleine!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This is where we will be in just two days!!!

Tomorrow, in the early hours of the morning, we will leave on an intensive ministry trip to the Magdalen Islands. We are all super excited as well as sobered by the enormity of the darkness and the critical nature of the meetings ahead.

Please pray for strength and wisdom as we minister there!

I'll post an update soon... :)

Snow on the head

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is what you get when you live in Vermont, and approximately 5000 pounds of snow accumulates on your roof, and then the temperature rises and said snow decides it would rather be in your front yard.

At which point it comes down in an unexpected roar of catapulting ice chunks and squashes flat as a pancake whatever happened to be under it. Thankfully those of us who have experienced this phenomenon have lived to tell the tale - but only because a fast dash saved our heads!!!

The other day I came out the front door, glanced up, and saw this heavy pack silently ooching out into space:

But happily, this kind of snow is also ideal for packing!

I managed to score three direct hits with carefully aimed snowballs and then I became the victim of a terrific barrage.

I'll end with a picture of these lovely people, who are some of the few Vermont Christians we know:

Good times, y'all!!

A day at Mad River Glen

Monday, February 6, 2017

There are six epic ski resorts within half an hour of our home. I think Vermonters have realized that if you are going to survive - and stay sane - through the winter here, you have to find a way of enjoying it to the fullest.

Read: Skiing!!!

Thankfully for us, one of those six resorts is an extremely, amazingly, wonderfully, totally, dirt-cheap establishment that makes it possible for cash-strapped Missionary Kids to avail themselves of the mountain air.

The other five are brutally expensive. Mad River Glen is one example: boasting the most challenging terrain in all of the Northeast, its motto is "Ski it if you can," and the prices relegate it to the stuff of dreams for said cash-strapped people. Until the resort is celebrating its anniversary, and offers everyone the golden chance of a day pass for only $3!!!

Yes. Um, yes. Definitely YES.

And so we found ourselves happily skiing at a world-renowned mountain for nearly nothing, riding the historic single chair lift (the only one of its kind in the world), and drinking in the awesome views. Also getting sore legs. It was an AMAZING day!

It started out as a bluebird day - clear skies and frigid temps, with a thick blanket of snow weighing down all the trees and creating a beautiful muffled scene that this picture does nothing to capture.

That's slightly more like it.

Now add to this picture the delumptious smoothness of gliding on fresh powder, the heart-racing moments of skittering across ice patches, and the exhilarating feeling of pounding through fields of moguls. Oh, and free Ben and Jerry's ice cream!!!!

I didn't object.

Curtis and I took a run together that started out as a lazy sort of meander down the mountain; however, this only lasted for approximately fifty feet. At which point we spied an intriguing snowy path into the woods, and dove enthusiastically into a world of deep powder, giant unexpected drops over rocks, stumps, and waterfalls, and brushy trees with about two inches of room between them. Suddenly we were very, very awake.

This is me, deliberating before taking the plunge...

And here is Northeastern tree skiing at its best! That little tiny spot of yellow far below represents Curtis' jacket.

In the afternoon, snow-filled storm clouds rolled in, and the early sunset was blanketed in a thick cover of fresh snow coming down.

By the way: is it just me, or does that tree look like flailing frog legs??

One of the last runs of the day!

Already looking forward to Mad River Glen's $3 anniversary next year...

Texas trip snippets

Saturday, January 28, 2017

We left Vermont in the earliest dawn of a foggy morning, knowing as the plane swept away in an exhilarating whoosh that within just hours, we would set foot on Texas soil. There is hardly any knowledge more pleasant than that!!!

I told myself that I wouldn't cry when we touched down.

I did very well on this resolution...

For two seconds.

At last! Back in Home Sweet Texas!!!!

One of our first encounters was with an ancient rancher who was dealing with frozen pipes after a recent cold spell. We offered to help - here you can see (at a distance) Augs talking with him as he wandered around in his truck and told amazing stories. What began as a random meeting turned into a fascinating hour in which we heard about the price of cattle, the difficulties of Texas ranching, the joys of tomato gardening, and the history of Blue Bell ice cream. At the end, he rummaged around purposefully under a pile of papers, tools, and unidentified objects in his truck, and finally extracted a small, tasty-looking package.

"Deer sausage," he explained, handing it over, then adding in a confidential sort of whisper, "The deer was dead a few days."

Speaking of meat...

A super generous family treated us to the most AMAZING dinner imaginable, at a Brazilian Steakhouse in San Antonio!!

And now here is The Random Collection of pics from the rest of our trip:

Totally unexpected matching day.

Catching up over deliciouso Mexican food...

...and grabbing snippets of time to talk on busy workdays...

One of our favorite people. Ever.

Um...last time we saw this fellow he was a baby; not so much anymore. I didn't mention hamburgers in his presence. It just didn't seem wise.

We were privileged to spend a day out on the Guajillo, listening to stories, catching up on life, and soaking in wisdom from one of the dearest couples we know.

They took us on an extensive tour of the ranch, telling countless old tales of Indians, Texas Rangers, actual battles that took place right there along the Colorado River, and ancient knowledge of plants, among other things.

He is also one of the best cooks I know!

I'll end with this picture of two of my favorite dogs. They are the best. They are fun, they are wild, they are full of energy, they are sweet, they are unruly. I adore them.

Already looking forward to the next time we return to Texas,


Texas Roadblock

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Three of us are in heaven Texas at the moment! And yesterday, driving through the countryside on a beautiful old road, we came across a small herd of cattle that was disinclined to move...

This guy was mesmerized by the headlights, content to stand silently and simply stare. And stare. And stare. And stare...

I kind of took a liking to him!

There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger and live just a little bit better.

Heading to Texas!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This is the view that greeted me this morning. And it was a very good start to the day, which has now turned out to be wonderful and hectic and full and super exciting, mostly because I am leaving for Texas in 9 hours and 7 minutes...!!!

To say that I am looking forward to being there would be the understatement of the year. Curtis has residency interviews down south, and Augs & I are going to keep him company, and also catch up with old friends, and also soak in some warm(er) temps, and also love every minute of it.

On another note, on Saturday we hosted the Christian Medical and Dental Association's annual get-together of students and leaders in the New Hampshire/Vermont/New York region.

Texas is now approaching in 8 hours and 57 minutes!!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

This is what greeted me the other morning as I stood, one hand clutching a hot mug of coffee, the other hand busy flipping over pieces of frying bacon, my toes dancing a little jig on the icy tile, and all of me wishing for a warm blanket to curl up in.

Okay. So 68 degrees indoors is warm for Vermont. Buuuuut, the outside temps make up for all of it by reminding me in every windy blast of snow against the window that I actually live in Siberia!

We had a beautiful white Christmas!!! And I am already much, much enjoying 2017...

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