A Few of my Favorite Birds (10): The Tiny but Powerful Hummingbird

Hummingbird. 1I’m here to tell you that it’s just fine to be tiny! Hummingbird 4 Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the smallest birds to breed in the Eastern U.S.,     Hummingbird 11 and although they come daily to feed on the flowers outside my window (sometimes staring in at me as if they’d like to fly through the looking glass), Hummingbird at Hybiscus I rarely get good pictures, because they never hold still for even a second!Hummingbird in Fuschia 07.14.14 In fact, their tiny wings beat 55 (and up to 200) times every second as they hover,  and their tiny hearts beat over 1,200 times per minute! Hummingbird 08.15.14 No wonder they consume more than their body weight (which is just a little over a tenth of an ounce) in nectar every day just to keep alive! Hummingbird 5 I used to keep a ruby-red hummingbird feeder and specialized, red solution  to attract the hummingbirds, but then I read that the red dyes might be bad for them, so I started using my own solution of 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Hummingbird 7However, I then read that the solution should really be changed every day lest bacteria grow in it, with warnings against honey, brown, and raw sugars—which can be deadly…not to mention artificial food reduces the amount of natural pollination of local plants, etc. Hmmm. Hummingbird 10 So much for trying to give these teensy birds a treat! Hibiscus For the past few years, I keep a bright red hibiscus and a planter of purple and red fuschsias on the deck outside my window. Hummingbird 07.03.14 The hummingbirds love these and visit a half a dozen times a day (for a few seconds). Since then, I’ve been able to film them sipping nectar every once in a great while, although most of my attempts are still out of focus!  Ruby-throated hummingbird Just once did I see both the male and female together (couldn’t get a picture, though  :(   ), and after some research, I now know why. Unlike most birds, hummingbird males only mate for a few seconds. (Should that surprise us?) Tiny hummingbird nest  The females lay 1-3 tiny eggs in an itsy-bitsy, cup-shaped nest about the size of an acorn, artfully crafted from lichen and lined with spider’s silk, which will expand as the chicks mature during their 2-3 week nestling stage. Carleen finding hummingbird nest My daughter-in-law Carleen (who’s a great nature lover like I am), sleuthed out the location of a hummingbird nest in the woods near their home in Connecticut, and after the brood had been reared, she carefully took the nest home, thinking it wouldn’t be used again. Hummingbird nest in tree  Actually, hummingbirds usually have two broods a year and typically repair and reuse their nests, but Carlie didn’t know that (since many birds build different nests for each batch of eggs; she’s a super-compassionate person who would help a wounded spider if she found one). Hummingbird in Touch-me-nots I trust the mama with the missing nest was able to build another! Ruby-throated hummingbird 8 Ruby-throated hummingbirds are seasonal residents, leaving to winter in Mexico and Central America, some actually surviving a 500-mile, direct crossing of the Gulf of Mexico! Hummingbird from Back My guess is that anyone reading this knows just what they look like, but in case you don’t: they have beautiful, metallic green backs, Hummingbird impatiens greyish white underparts, brown-black wings, Hummingbird. Tail feathers spread black-with-white tail feathers, Hummingbird. Side. Wings and feet and exceptionally tiny little feet!Hummingbird side. Beek. Green back Their bills are long, straight (slightly down-curved), slender, and up to 0.8″ long, which seems inordinately big given their 3″ body length and 4″ wingspan!Hummingbird Sipping Nectar But, they don’t drink with their beaks. These magnificent tinys actually drink by rapidly lapping nectar with their long, tubular tongues (although my eyes aren’t quick enough to discern this by watching). Hummingbird. 07-14-14 Perhaps the most most unique feature of hummingbirds is their agility in flight. 25-30% of their body weight is muscle, and they are the only birds to have wings that connect only at the shoulder joint, making it possible for their wings to rotate almost 180%! Hummingbird 2 They have been known to fly upside down and are the only birds known to fly backward. So, even though they’re tiny, they’re great at escaping from predators! Hummingbird 12Seems to me these littlest of our neighborhood feathered friends are the perfect combination of being busy as bees with every reason to be happy as jaybirds!Hummingbird 6 And, they’re beautiful! Does it get any better than that?!
So, tiny is just fine, don’t you think?
Ruby-throated humming bird 1“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you” (Joel 2:26).

[The two pictures of the hummingbird nest with Carleen and the picture of the nest in the tree are used by permission of my daughter-in-law. Thank you, Carlie!]

Protect Your Brain. Stop Alzheimer’s Now!

08.20.14 Stop Alzheimer's Now Okay, so that’s a provocative title, and I doubt there’s any miracle cure out there, but when my cousin Jim offered to send me a copy, I was all for it, because my mother developed Alzheimer’s when she was around 75, and that ups my chances considerably…plus that’s only 12 years away for me! If you can read the fine print on the title, it also claims that the book is about “How to prevent and reverse dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative disorders.” Again, that claim seems so over the top that I admit to large doses of skepticism as I turned to the foreward. Still, the author, Bruce Fife, got my attention when he quoted some pretty frightening statistics: more than 35 million people suffer from dementia currently, and every year 4.6 million more cases are diagnosed globally, a quarter of a million of them here in the U.S. Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, effects 1 out of every 8 people over 65 in the U.S. and as many as half the population of those over 85. Fife points out that “While aging is a risk factor for neurodegeneration, it is not the cause!” He believes that “Dementia and other neurological conditions are disease processes that can be prevented and treated.” I think that’s about like saying cancer can be prevented and treated…probably to some extent, but not entirely. Nevertheless, if I can do anything to avoid dementia or slow down neurodegenerative processes in my own brain, I’m ready to try! How about you?

The book contains 300+ pages, and Fife goes to great lengths to explain the biochemistry behind his assertions and motivate people into action, provide recipes, etc., so I can only give you a few quick bullet points, and if you want more details, you can order a copy from Amazon. The super short of it is this:
1. Add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil into your daily diet to help prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and 5 tablespoons per day for patients who are already experiencing symptoms. (Get your doctor’s approval first and adjust slowly to avoid diarrhea.) Among Fife’s many arguments in support of this is a chart showing the global prevalence of dementia: The coconut-eating populations, India and Southeast Asia, have the lowest incidence of dementia in the world  (1.9%, vs. 6.4% in North America, the highest dementia population in the world). Fife explains that natural fats—most particularly coconut oil but also palm, olive, and even butter and lard—are highly important as the super brain foods and are necessary for brain growth, processing, protection, and repair.
2. Eat 5-7 fresh fruits and veggies a day plus plenty of fresh, non-sugared dairy products and fresh cuts of meat (cooked, of course, just “fresh” in the sense of not highly processed, such as deli meats, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, etc.)
3. Avoid sugars and canned, packaged, or high carbohydrate foods. (Fife gives plenty of details for how to figure out diet plans based on individual specifications.) Use whole-grain foods as much as possible.
4. Exercise hard enough to work up a sweat at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes; 5-6 days a week for up to an hour is optimum. “If exercise could be packaged in pill form, it would immediately become the number one anti-aging medicine, as well as the world’s most prescribed pill.” —Dr. Robert Butler, International Longevity Center at Manhattan’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. As Fife reminds us, “Exercise tones the muscles, strengthens the bones, improves circulation, increases energy, and sharpens the mind…Exercise not only slows down the normal aging process but protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”  In fact, Fife goes so far to assert that “Exercise has proven to be more effective than any of the drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer’s.” (Caution: As in everything anybody ever writes about health…always check with your doctor to make sure your body can handle whatever new plan you’re trying to implement!)

So, if we take all this to heart, will we avoid developing any neurogenerative disease in the future? I don’t know. Check back with me in 10-15 years to see how I fare. But meanwhile, I’m on the band wagon. This morning I just took a Northwestern Mutual Life quiz to see what my life expectancy might be. Want to try it? http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan/#0 My profile says I might live to age 99. Whatever the reality, I hope however long I live, I’m able to think clearly, live fruitfully, and take care of myself as much as possible. If you try a daily dose of coconut oil instead of some other oil for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and notice any positive changes…please let me know, and I’ll let you know too!

“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).


The Unique Experience of Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave EntranceToday I want to tell a tale about Lava River Cave, near Bend, Oregon. Exploring Passage in Lava River Cave It’s nearly a mile long—the longest lava tube in Oregon.  Lava River Cave Entrance Unlike most caves, which are formed by water seeping through limestone, a lava tube cave occurs when a river of lava (sometimes reaching temperatures in excess of 2,000°F.) free-flows along a channel until the outside crust eventually cools and hardens (since air and ground temperatures are extremely cold when compared to lava). Lava River Cave Information When the lava stops flowing, the last of the hot lava drains out of the tunnel, leaving a tube-shaped cave behind. Where some part of the roof collapses, an entrance appears! Checking out entrance to Cave  The world’s longest (and deepest) lava tube, Kazumura Cave, is on the Big Island of Hawaii, just under the shadow of Kilauea Caldera. It’s a whooping 40.7 miles long and 3,614 feet underground! I would love to see that cave sometime, although you have to be escorted, and even the best tours encompass less than two miles of cave and require serious caving skills, advance reservations, and $30! Believe it not (or more likely, believe it), even though there 101 known entrances, this world’s longest lava tube gets precious few visitors. Entering Lava River Cave On the other extreme, the world’s longest known cave system is Mammoth Cave, a labyrinth of over 400 miles of passageways that have been explored (plus another estimated 600 miles yet to be traversed) under the Green River Valley in Kentucky (U.S.A.) We toured that cave as a family back in 1996, and it’s truly magnificent. Over half a million visitors tour Mammoth Cave every year, though, so if you want to visit, I hope you’re not claustrophobic either in small spaces or large groups! Eery shapes in Lava River Cave Now, what makes the Lava River Cave in Oregon unique? You tour it entirely on your own, at your own speed, for no extra charge beyond a $5 vehicle day-pass! Climbing steps in Lava River Cave If you bring your own battery-operated light, you’re golden, but if you forget, you can rent a lantern for a nominal fee… It's DARK in Lava River Cave which was lucky for us, since down inside the cave, a light source was truly essential. As in all caves, it’s utterly dark once you get away from the entrance! Jackets needed in cave!And, you’ll definitely want a jacket if you visit, as is true in any caving adventure. Breath in cave The temperature is a constant 42°, which was like a breath of fresh air compared to the 92° heat we were experiencing on the surface. In fact, our breath crystallized into visible puffs as we descended the 150 steps into the cool interior. Floor of Lava River CaveI’ve been to caves in various corners of the world, but I’ve never been to a cave where I was entrusted with the privilege of exploring without any supervision. Lava River Cave PassagewayYes, we tried to be as respectful and careful as possible, and I trust that our family didn’t inadvertently damage anything, but it really did give me a sense of awe to be allowed to wander through the cave without anyone directing me. Shadows on wall of Lava River Cave It made me think about my soul. The depths of one’s soul are like the depths of a cave.  Our souls are deep within us, and we “own” them so to speak. It is up to us to decide how many or how few people we allow to explore our souls, and most of us guard our souls very carefully, only giving “guided” tours, and usually after our loved one has paid quite an entry fee (of earned trust, etc.). Visiting Lava River Cave, OR Is there anyone in the world to whom you or I allow unguarded access to our souls? I was just reading in Proverbs this morning and was struck by this verse: “The LORD’s lamp sheds light on a person’s life, searching the innermost parts (Proverbs 20:27, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Welcome to Lava River Cave Even if there is no one on this earth with whom you (or I) feel 100% “safe,” God explores the depths of our souls…and still loves us! Lantern in Lave River Cave Have you given Him permission to search your soul? He will enlighten us if we’re willing. “For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psalm 18:28). Alan and Kathi at Lava River Cave “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139: 23-24)


Volcanic Vistas: Are You Burned Out?

Forest FireDo you ever feel like a forest fire has swept over your soul, Lava ash leaving your life as barren as a heap of rocky ashes? Lava Butte Volcanic Explosion Ever feel like a volcano has erupted deep down in your soul, Volcanic Explosion spewing billowing clouds of lava high into the sky Rivers of lava and overflowing your life with molten rivers of destruction? Map of Newberry Volcano Have you ever felt like your life has become lifeless and dark…and your soul as hard and impenetrable as an obsidian flow? Lava Butte If not, you’ve very lucky, but if so, may I offer some hope to you?  Paulina FallsWhile we were in Bend, Oregon, a couple of weeks ago, we visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument: 50,000 acres of stunning volcanic scenery containing one of the world’s largest collections of cinder cones, volcanic domes, lava flows, caves and fissures. Newberry Caldara I didn’t realize this, but Oregon has more volcanoes than any state in the contiguous 48 states of America, and from the top of Paulina Peak Trail (which—at 7,984 feet—offers the highest view in Oregon accessible by car), View from Lava Butte you can see all the way to Mt. Adams in Washington State and Mt. Shasta in California on a clear day! (However, this is Mt. Bachelor, taken from Lava Butte.)Obsidian FlowThe eruption of Newberry Volcano happened ages ago, and there are still areas of scarring where no life exists, but the area is so gorgeous that it’s become a national monument, View from Paulina Peak Trailand people come from (thousands of) miles around to explore the heights and depths of the Newberry Caldera. Lava steaming in water  This week I hope to share more about the fascinating geological formations and beauty of that have come from the eruption of the Newberry Volcano, but my first thought is this: Volcano spewing lava The bigger the explosion, the more potential for the future, either in lamenting harm or in marveling over beauty in the healing. White wildflowers growing on volcanic soil I personally have never been able to heal myself (self-soothing is not my forte), but I do find great comfort in falling into the everlasting arms of my Father, God, who does embrace and restore me. Wildflowers on Obsidian Flow. OR May God deliver us from massive eruptions, but if/when such devastations occur, may we entrust the ruined landscape of our souls into His care. He is able to bring beauty from the ashes: Paulina Lake…”to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).

[I took all the pictures, although the ones showing volcanic action and explaining Newberry Caldera were taken of displays at the Lava Lands Visitor Center.]

Rise Up, My Love (98): Golden Bucklers

NecklaceSong of Solomon 4:4 “…the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” No one knows for sure which tower is being referred to in the physical world, but Acts 13:22 gives a clue concerning the spiritual tower that David was: “He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” Oh, to be like David, with a heart to pant after God and fulfill his holy will! Then would our necks be straight, stately, and strong—like the tower of David—and we would work with courage and power.

The tower of David was built for an armory. An armory is a place to store and exhibit weapons, although in I Kings 10: 16-18 we discover that Solomon also stored many weapons in his palace. He put 200 targets of gold and 300 shields (each of which was made from three pounds of beaten gold) along with a beautiful ivory throne overlaid with “the best gold” in palace complex called  his “house in the Forest of Lebanon.”

The weapons were stored up against the day of battle—to protect the king and his people—but they were also on constant display as a remembrance of past victories and an encouragement to future success. What weapons were stored there? “A thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” Bucklers were door-shaped shields that covered the whole body and were used for heavy protection. The term “shield” was often (but not always) used to denote a smaller, round protection carried by light infantry, and more often used during ceremonial displays or in ornamentation. In both cases, the arms were used for defensive purposes.

As King Solomon spoke, he was doubtless admiring his bride’s golden necklaces, displayed in layers around her neck. The term “a thousand” indicated a large, round number, not meant to be numerically accurate, just as today we might say we saw “a thousand” birds migrating south. He beheld his wife’s straight neck adorned by many layers of glittering golden ornaments, and it reminded him of his father’s armory. Throughout his childhood Solomon probably had many occasions to visit the royal armories filled with gleaming shields. What a sense of awe it would have aroused in him as he admired the magnificent display of bucklers that the soldiers used to protect his father…what a sense of security he would feel…what an inspiration as he considered that some day he might use one of those shields and reign over his father’s great kingdom!

The bridegroom’s heart was aroused to see his wife adorned so extravagantly! Her affections, too, were well protected from “assault” by other lovers because of her husband’s lavish provisions for her. He would shield her from a thousand enemies, and she would be his to “have and to hold”—to love, protect, reign over, and enjoy…just as Solomon’s father reigned over Israel…and just as Christ reigns over his bride.

Spiritually, what is our shield from the attacks of Satan? Our faith! (Ephesians 6:16) If the neck represents the faith by which the church is united to her head, the shields of faith displayed on the bride’s neck may represent the mighty victories of Christ through individuals of great faith…such as those heroic people mentioned in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith.” Ah, you say, but look at the end of Hebrews 11:33-39. Most of those faithful souls were martyred. Are they to be displayed as mighty victories?

Yes! Because even torture and death could not overcome their faith. Look at Romans 8:36-37: “As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” More than conquerors! These men and women of loyal faith stand like rows of golden shields adorning the bride of Christ, displaying his matchless victories of love.

Lord, may our faith shine like a gleaming shield to adorn your bride. May our own neck be encircled with a thousand acts of loyal faith that arouse your ardor for us!

The Armstrong Archives (98): The Life of a Third Year Resident…is Better!

Jon with AlanThursday, May 28, 1981   The boys are all well, and the weather’s been fantastic, so they’re just streaks out the door after breakfast. They’re building new playground equipment in back, and today Aaron made Kool-Aid and took doughnuts out to the three men, who have become good friends of his. They look like college kids, and they were most grateful!

Sunday afternoon I have to teach a little seminar to the high school kids on how to hold backyard Bible clubs. They’re leaving soon on a mission trip to southern Illinois.

Tuesday, June 2, 1981 Right now I’m trying to get permission from Dr. Arguetta to “kidnap” Alan early from work this Friday for his birthday and take him out for dinner and over night to Detroit. I have arranged for Vicky to come sit and have reservations…but after about six calls, I’m still getting the runaround, so I don’t know if it is going to work out or not. I’m very hopeful though!!! The kids and I went shopping today and got Alan a racquetball racquet and a new summer suit. (Actually, his first ever summer suit!) Now, if only everybody can keep the secrets…

Well, Michael wants a turn typing, and Aaron wants me to tell him a story. Jonathan is awake, I’m trying to finish my application to Central, dinner has yet to be started, and I’m due to teach the high schoolers tonight at prayer meeting. It rained this morning but is warm and glorious right now. We had radishes and spinach from our garden last night for dinner.

Tuesday, June 9, 1981 Everything worked out just perfectly for our “Kidnap Daddy” plan. He got the whole day off! (He’s on a relatively easy elective.) The boys took him to the Big Boy for breakfast, and then I took him to Detroit for dinner and overnight. We got twelve hours of sleep and sat around by the pool talking and swimming. In the afternoon, we went to the Irish Festival in downtown Detroit and ate lunch at Greek Town before coming home. It was great.

Wednesday, June 24, 1981 Thanks so much for your help and inspiration for my thesis. I’ve found a lovely girl, Cindy Armstrong (not related), who might be able to work three mornings a week 9-12 am. That’s about all the time I can spare and still get my work done, and I’m just thrilled. Tomorrow I’ll know for sure if she can do it. Then, while Jonny naps from 1-3 pm, I’m going to try to work on it too. I would really like to get done this summer if possible. Right now I’m condensing and comparing the material on the boys in four-week periods. I’m on the third and fourth weeks. It’s really fun and interesting so far.

This week is Vacation Bible School. We took eight children this morning, and more want to come tomorrow! The program is about the best I’ve ever seen. The couple who do it have a very elaborate puppet theatre and all kinds of gags and a magician act (today he “ate fire” etc.), plus really excellent biblical teaching —each day on a theme such as honesty—and a series of studies on the life of Daniel. The boys are having a ball…and I am too!

Alan got the boys squirt guns yesterday. I thought “yuk,” but so far the boys have been really good with them. Right now Aaron is trying to squirt us through the second story window!

Friday, July 3, 1981 How are you? Boy, do I ever like having a third-year resident for a husband. He has this whole weekend off (except for working at Mercywood tomorrow night). We went for a hot dog roast and swim in the Huron River today. We call it “swamp ratting” and the boys—even JJ—are great swamp rats. We toasted marshmallows too, and they turned out brown instead of black. Can you imagine??

Just as we got home the sparrow nest (built in the light outside Alan and my bedroom window) fell apart and one tiny baby and half the nest landed on the grass. Alan gently tucked the nesting material and baby back into the light with the rest of the nest and saw three other babies. The parent birds were thrilled, the boys awestruck (it was a tiny baby), and I was delighted that the parents accepted the baby back. Now when we hear the babies chirping hungrily, it’s even more special to us.

Cindy Armstrong is sitting for me. Needless to say, I’m in my glory and loving every minute of it. I hope my professors find my project at least one-tenth as exciting as I do! It’s so fun feeling like a student again with all this research and studying. Nancy has come three times this week for 3+ hours each time. I really enjoy working, and the kids are getting so used to Nancy that they don’t even give her a hard time anymore. Even JJ has stopped crying when I leave. That’s nice!

Last night we had the Grieshabers over for a picnic. It has been in the 90°s all week, and the two big boys practically live in the wading pool. JJ now has a little tan and some freckles on his nose. He is turning into a regular character. He grabs things away from the boys and hits whenever he gets mad. Time for spankings!

With the summer weather we’ve really stopped reading much, although we do use the encyclopedias pretty often to look up, “What is the Marine Corps?” etc. Yesterday I told Michael I thought he was old enough to buckle his own sandals. He said brightly, “Oh, do you think so?” Let’s look it up in the encyclopedia and see.” I told him you can find only most everything there. Aaron is constantly impressed with everyone’s lack of omniscience (except his own) and regularly reminds us of our frailty! John and Sopie(For some reason, I don’t have too many pictures of the kids from this time [maybe we were too poor], but the above pictures are of Jon as a baby and of Jon today, holding his baby, Sophie.)


Wedding in the Woods: Happiness is Sharing Joy

IMG_0821Yesterday Bayer and Elena got married at a beautiful wedding in the woods. IMG_0826I was the official videographer, so I only had time to take a few photos, IMG_0837but I think I’ve got enough pictures to tell you “all about it!” IMG_0858Elena is the daughter of my dearly beloved prayer partner, Cindi, and her hubby. Wabasis Lake Park ShelterThe wedding was held at Wabasis Lake Park. (Lovely campground, too, BTW.) IMG_0840Cindi is an energetic and very gifted organizer as well as a devoted mom.IMG_0804She began preparations as soon as she knew there was going to be a wedding, Jamsincluding such special touches as home made jam for each guest,IMG_0775and a quilt we could all sign as one of her wedding gifts for the newly weds. DSCN6470Her husband, Rex, is equally creative and gifted, and I can’t imagine how many DSCN6483hundreds of hours he must have spent making intricate decorations…for the DSCN6482wedding site, the tables, playful signs, birch bark lanterns, and even a huge DSCN6497frame where anyone who wanted their picture taken could get one free of charge. IMG_0829(My daughter-in-law Brianna and son Dan offered their talents to help on this.) IMG_0827Elena’s sisters were not only in the wedding party, Special Music for WeddingThey helped provide beautiful music for the wedding.IMG_0825Annika used her recently-honed skills from working at a bakery in Denver Wedding Dessertsto mastermind a gourmet dessert buffet of fill-up-your-own tarts, IMG_0845& Ilsa, a highly gifted young art student, contributed her time and talents as well! IMG_0806The list of loved ones who put their hearts into the project just goes on & on! SusanSusan (with whom Cindi and I have a “birthday club”) worked tirelessly, Stevealong with her husband Steve, who actually took 3 days off work to help out! Lynn and SusanCindi’s two sisters came to help as well! Lynn and her husband, RichardRichard, came early and worked long and hard. DonnaCindi’s sister Donna came from New Mexico to help out for several days. DSCN6476I had the fun of working with Susan, Lynn, and Donna arranging the tables IMG_0745& decorating everything using huge buckets of flowers and hundreds? of bottles, Coffeeswhich was—I dare say—tons of fun as well as a lot of work! IMG_0849Are you tired just thinking about all the work yet? Rhonda provided lunch for us, Doug and Bevalong with her sister Bev, who also helped her husband, Doug, with the sound. DSCN6477Even the groom and his groomsmen came to help out with the set up. DSCN6488They were super helpful, and I’m not really sure we could have gotten done in time without them!! What a really sweet group of young men! :) IMG_0766(The wedding party dressed very casually…befitting for the bride and groom!)Tom and LynnTom and Lynnie were the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies IMG_0808and kept everything running smoothly during the wedding. IMG_0763“Our” pastor, Rick, officiated, although one of their professors also participated. IMG_0779Need I go on? They didn’t serve alcoholic beverages, but they had a huge table IMG_0814with so many fun options for various fruity “virgin” drinks, and so there were servers helping out here and there. Caterers
The actual dinner was professionally catered so all the guests could just relax and enjoy the party.IMG_0773 Afterward, they had games and activities for the children, and as the sun set, IMG_0776a friend taught everyone who was interested how to do country-style dancing. IMG_0824
I think it really was a picture perfect wedding, thanks to Elena, Bayer, and every one of their family and friends who lavished love on them!
Working together to bring about something precious and beautiful is really a joy, and so much fun! DSCN6498
Are you living within the framework of a thriving fellowship family? I sincerely hope so!


I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God.

You will notice we say “brother and sister” ’round here,
It’s because we’re a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!  (—Bill and Gloria Gaither)