Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Little Busy, A Lot of Faith

It took nearly all I could do to get the vacation up on here over the last week and since then you haven't heard from me. I'm not going to apologize ever for not writing. The title of the blog is Best Energies, Best Affections and that to me means remembering where I need to spend my time at. And quite frankly it has not been here, or Facebook, or reading other blogs or anything other than basic email lately. 
That being said, here has where I have been- to South Dakota and back, to pick up this girl to come and stay with us for a semester.

I'm not going to go into the whole story of how we got to this point, but V lives in Rosebud, SD on a native american reservation. She is part of an exchange program our church is starting to set up to bring kids here. 
It was made known to us that Satan would attempt to thwart the kids from coming, (He attempts to thwart any plans he knows of, though.) and were asked to pray that they would not be daunted but come. We did not have any difficulties in getting her to come. But on the Iowa end, it's a little different story. 
Early last week there was massive city wide flooding in Ames. On top of the flooding a water main broke, leaving the city with contaminated pressure-less water. What a bummer. We helped out family and friends with laundry. Then we discovered that our freezer was no longer freezing. My ten pounds of blueberries that my mother-in-law so nicely froze for me were turning into blueberry mush. Now they are stored at a friends, but are a solid block instead of individually frozen. Our entire fridge needs to be replaced. Thankfully, another friend is loaning us their old fridge until we find time to go shopping. On top of that, we have meetings and life, etc. The weekend before, when we were at Bill's parents, I failed to mention that I did a little flip over my motorcycle going down a dirt trail in the timber. I have a whopper of a bruise on my knee.
Today, our first full day with V, I tracked down a swimsuit for her to wear, loaded the excited kids up in the car to head to a pool only to discover it was closed! So we tried two more pools and they were both closed!!! At the grocery store I went in to just get a few things but forgot I did not have all of my grocery money, just  few bucks that were meant for the pool and almost checked out way more than what I could pay for. Once home I suddenly didn't know where my billfold was. Maybe I had placed it on the bumper of the car and it was now scattered all over Hwy. 69!! It wasn't, thankfully.
God is always good. I believe we use the word "blessing" to mean only good things but never bad, but if God works all things for the good of those that call on him, are not trials "blessings"? I'm not going to work the Greek to see about that because yes, generally blessings mean good things, but I almost hate the idea that if something isn't labeled as a blessing it must not be ordained by God. Does not James 1 say "Consider it pure joy my friends whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.? 
However, I have tried on my own to get that faith produced and its not getting me anywhere. By God's absolute ...ness of Himself, he has reminded me today of who does the work. Audrey's 180 pastor messaged me this verse. A Bible study friend wrote about this verse. And our worship leader blogged about this similar idea. I think God, in the middle of upholding me, is knocking... Hello? Bueller?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Oh ho ho! I knew when God was tugging at my heart to have a Rosebud student that I was ready to dig in and do. But He said, "No. I will do."  And I'm stopped short. I love what Janel wrote
The way I see it from examples in scripture, God is going to dish out situations to His followers that are completely beyond their own ability to handle. He does this NOT because He wants us to look inward and muster up some extra strength, and understanding, and wisdom to as the saying implies ‘handle the situation ourselves’. How will we ever learn that God is truly our Refuge (Psalm 91:2 ), Strength (Psalm 46:1), Shelter (Isaiah 25:4), and Trust (Psalm 40:4) if we are never in situations when we have to completely rely on Him to get through?

On Saturday, when things kind of came crashing down, I flopped face down on my bed and prayed. Some say God is moved the the physical posture of a person in prayer. Whatever. He gets flopping on your bed. I grabbed my Bible and just opened it up. Well it came open to Psalm 119. And I read verses 49-56

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law. I remember your ancient laws, O Lord, and I find comfort in them. Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law. Your decrees are the theme of my song. wherever I lodge. In the night I remember your name, O Lord, and I will keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. 

I so keyed in on Your promise preserves my life. What is his promise? Eternal life! What is the matter of replacing a fridge? Nothing. A near teen being difficult? Nothing. A schedule gone wacky? Nothing. I have his promise sealed within me forever. Oh Lord, let faith be the theme of my song. I am weak. Be strong.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Last Day

For our last day of vacation we decided that we really didn't have to be home all that early, so we filled the day up.
Our first stop was Split Rock Lighthouse. It isn't used any more for ships passing by because there is this thing now called GPS but it was still impressive.

While we were there we happened to see a great sailing ship come close by. Down in Duluth they were going to have a festival or something with eight of these great tall mast ships coming in. It was very fun to see.

Then we drove a little further down the road and stopped at Gooseberry Falls. Here we didn't have to hike to get to the falls but neither did anyone else, so there were lots of people. The day was warm but nice and we criss-crossed the river several times and walked right up to one part of the fall!

All along this area were people and cameras- nice cameras, nice cameras and lenses and tripods and more! I had a little nice camera envy. However, if my camera dropped in the water, I would just be out vacation pictures and maybe $100. They would be out $$$ and vacation pictures. But it was so beautiful that all you had to do (even if you knew nothing about photography) was to point and shoot. (But someday I will have a nicer camera.)

So we got to a spot where I wanted a family shot and I asked a girl if she would take our picture. She had a nice camera so when I handed her my little point and shoot apologetically she was like "Oh, I used to have one of these before I got this." But she did take a nice picture of us
Then it was time for just the kids.

And then it was time for senior portraits. Audrey and Luke were all up for it.

Ben was not.

So that is why he is not in this fun tree picture.

We took a little hike around the area and crossed a bridge that directly under the highway for our last views of Lake Superior.

Right before we headed out for good we stopped for lunch in Two Harbors which also happens to be the town where 3M first started. I convinced Bill that since we were just blocks away from the first office we should go. So here it is. Now Bill has made the official Mecca trip to the homeland and his life is complete, or something like that. It wasn't open so we didn't go in and I didn't take a picture of him next to the building because that would be dorky.

As we were going down the highway though, we spotted the same boat and pulled over to rush out and see it again, this time with all it's sails up. After that, we were definitely done stopping and just wanted to get home.

So that's it! Thanks for hanging in there. Is this the modern day equivalent to relatives vacation slideshows? I think not since it was completely optional for you to read this, whereas you have no escape when it comes to relatives.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We woke up Tuesday to a forecast of dreary and drizzly so we decided to swim downstream and check out Duluth. We perused all the tourist literature and then took the advice of our neighbors who told us about a big cargo ship you could tour.

The William A. Irwin is a retired cargo ship that used to haul taconite. We toured the entire ship with our tour guide, Matt. He was nice, informative, but didn't think my little Luke asking questions was adorable. Here's Matt in the center in the engine room. Wow! That was impressive! It would get over 110 degrees in there. No wonder pictures of my dad shows him so skinny. He sweat it all off! A very good stop if you are in Duluth.

Then we decided to check out this train museum since it was rainy out. Once we got there, we decided to take a train ride instead. Well, it was nice to sit down for over an hour, but personally we didn't see that much, so instead we took pictures of each other.

On the way home our neighbors again told us to stop at Betty's Pies. So since we needed supper, we did! Yep! Good food, good pies! 
But all that indoorsy stuff made us antsy and we went down to the shore near our hotel. The day before we figured out that if you can do it without breaking your neck, you are pretty much allowed to scramble or climb anything you want to. 

In this next pic, you can see the shore cropping nearest and I figured out how to get all the way up there. It really wasn't that high but you still had to be careful, especially with 4 year olds.

While we were up there, 3 teenage boys came tearing up and knew just where to dive off into the icy cold water! I was going to ask if I could take their pictures, but 2 of the 3 had already gone and one apparently had decided boxers only were good enough, so I left them alone (well, after I gave them my "If your mother only knew what you were doing" eye). Up along that ridge we explored the shore over in that area and found some huge rocks to walk on. I didn't get any pictures there because I was too busy playing (fully clothed)!

As we were headed back to our car, I asked the kids what they would rather do: Go see trains and boats, etc. or go climb rocks, explore trails and skip rocks all day. They chose the second. And that pretty much summed up the difference between our Florida vacation and our Minnesota vacation. The weather was a huge factor in our Florida vacation. It was not nice. What we hoped to do was play at the beach, but instead we ended up driving around trying to find things to do the whole time and it left us cranky. Minnesota was no Mickey, no canned activities, no expectations that this would be the greatest vacation of all time. It would just be Minnesota and maybe we would see a couple waterfalls and a lighthouse and it turned out great.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Travel Sunday

We packed up our things Sunday, said our good-byes, and took off for the North Shore of Lake Superior. We decided to take the scenic route and drove through the Superior National Forest. At one point, we followed what we thought was the right road, but it ended up being this gravel road. IN THE FOREST! I quietly panicked to myself and started rationing the water since the only vehicle we saw was one going out. The kids could only eat half of their Skittles since we might need those later on when we can't kill a moose with our bare hands. What kept my faith alive is that every once in a while we saw an actual road sign. Finally after a good long washboard drive through the forest, we saw the real road. So I told Bill to stop the car (and I silently thanked God) and I took a picture of them.

Then we got back in, got on the real road and found Silver Bay. There’s a scenic outlook you can drive up to. Once we got up there, Luke said “Hey! We’re on the roof!” 

We ate at a nice restaurant for supper, played in the pool at the hotel and I got caught up on my Food Network shows. I did! We don’t have cable anymore and that’s the only thing I kind of miss. So that’s what I watched. (ok- I’ll admit, I actually did jump on the hotel bed in excitement once) I’m good now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ben's First Race

I'm interrupting our exciting Minnesota vacation coverage (yawn) to bring you Ben's first motorcycle race. That's right, folks, Ben, age 7, has completed his first race. Held in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa on a nice warm day with temps in the 90's, Ben raced against 5 other cyclists in the 50 cc class. (I'm not sure what 50 cc means, but I think it has to do with engine size.) They raced for a half hour, trying to complete as many laps as possible during that time around the trail mowed through a grass field. Ben placed 5th out of 6th. 
Let's interview the competitor.

Ben, who was your pit crew?

Were you nervous before the race?

Ben on far left

How were the track conditions?

How was the air temperature?

Your thoughts on the race afterwards?

How well did you interact with the race officials?

Any last thoughts?

I couldn't have said it better myself! Way to go, Ben!