Blizzard or Paradise…What Would You Choose?

Shared by Jane Anderson with Jed BoyerWith temperatures dropping below 0°F in the Midwest and wind chills as low as DSCN9351-39°F in Minneapolis today, I was especially grateful that Alan whisked us off toDSCN9370 celebrate our anniversary a couple of weeks early…even though it was pretty scary taking off and we weren’t dead sure we’d make it! Also, I’ve had a bad DSCN9383bronchitis since Christmas and some time in the sunshine and fresh air has been DSCN9429a healing balm for my lungs as well as our spirits! DSCN9604 Even though I protested a bit when Alan first suggested that we go, DSCN9577  thinking it was an unnecessary extravagance, it’s been such a delight, and I’ve DSCN9585been thinking about how our “heavenly husband,” Jesus prepares a place for us DSCN9593and then decides when it’s time to take us home. We may protest, thinking it’s DSCN9590too early, or we still have too much to do…or???, but when the time comes, the DSCN9434conditions change, and we find we’re sick and tired…and so ready to take off!  DSCN9578Tonight it’s 3° and snowing in GR, but it’s 72° and clear (literally) in Florida. DSCN9603I hope when the Lord calls me home to heaven, I remember this trip, DSCN9394 and how Alan provided so much more than I ever dreamed I needed. I know our DSCN9392heavenly husband will do even more for each of us who trust in Him. IMG_2269“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:2-3 HCSB).

Rise Up, My Love (69): Misplaced Trust

DSCF7493 copySong of Solomon 3:2 “I will rise now, and go…” Did the bride submit to the will of her husband? No. Why? Because she lacked faith. What did she do? She decided to take matters into her own hands. Where did she go? “About the city in the streets, and in the broad ways.” Could she have possibly imagined that he would want her out in the middle of the night wandering around looking for him? Is there a husband alive who would want his wife out crisscrossing the streets of the city and walking along the highways searching for him? I think not.  Her selfwill was a very foolish, selfish thing.  She was not thinking of what he would want for her; she was only thinking of what she wanted.  She wanted him, and she would find him, regardless of the danger, and regardless of the cost.  She was unwilling to wait for him to return to her.  She wanted him, and she wanted him now.

It is said that true love can wait but fleshly desires cannot. “Charity suffereth long…doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil…beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things…” (I Corinthians 13:4-7). This young bride had not learned true love.  She could not wait; she behaved irresponsibly; she sought her own; she was quickly provoked into foolish action; she doubtless was thinking evil or she would not have left home; and she was unable to bear the separation, believe he would return unharmed, hope for the best, and endure the night alone.

How many times in marriage does a wife not trust her husband?  Truly, human husbands are not always perfectly trustworthy, but that does not give the wife cause to leave home and go looking for him. A wrong action is never justified just because it is a reaction to what is thought to be a previously committed wrong action. Is your husband out late?  Do you fear that he is unable to take care of himself?  If he is in danger, you are most unlikely to be able to help him out.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, your presence would only increase his danger, because then he would have to protect you as well as himself.  If he is involved in sin, seeking him in the middle of the night will not help.  The wife cannot force her husband to “be good” just by exposing his sin.  Only God can change the heart.

What should you do if you awaken in the night and your husband is not there…literally or figuratively? “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”  If you do these things, “it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).  Oh, frightened wife, wait, wait, wait on the Lord, and in the end, you will be able to rejoice in the way he works everything out!  “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).  Do not fly like a frightened quail out of the nest, pursued by Satan’s hunting dogs. Give God your insecurities and anxieties, and continue in faith, hope, and love. Be discreet, chaste, a keeper of the home, sensitively submitted to your husband’s directives (Titus 2:4-5)… “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (I Peter 3:6). Follow the example of godly women who’ve gone before you. Remember Sarah, and believe God’s promises.  What did God say to Sarah when she doubted?  “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?  At the time appointed I will return unto thee…” (Genesis 18:14)

Like Sarah of old, the bride needed to wait on her Lord, remembering that “at the time appointed I will return unto thee.”  How we need that reminder today as well!  Not “I will” but “Thy will.”  Not “I will rise now, and go” but “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

The Armstrong Archives (69): Goodbye, Medical School!

IMG_3068March, 1979 Well, we’re down to just counting fingers ‘til Alan is through with school. The house looks like a disaster area! Piles of boxes everywhere, some full and the rest arranged into playhouses, boats, and whatever. Every morning I intend to finish something, but by the end of the day it still looks just as messy, and you can hardly tell that I’ve packed a lot and thrown out a lot more. Hopefully, by next Friday it will start to look like one solid block of boxes, and we’ll just be minus the living room. The boys think it’s great and are discovering all kinds of odd treasures to use in improvising this or that game. Very eager to “help” too….usually to my dismay. So far there have been no major catastrophes like swallowed poison, but Aaron did get a bad bump on his head yesterday trying to scramble up on to a chair I was standing on to clean out some heavy pans.

As hoped, we’ll be moving to Ann Arbor in June sometime, where Alan will spend the next three years as an intern/resident at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. It is a good compromise of research and clinical medicine, affiliated with U. Michigan (so the teaching staff will be great), but a private hospital (so his weekly schedule is not supposed to exceed 100 hours). I don’t relish being a “widow” for three more years, but on the other hand, I’m grateful the Lord didn’t send him into plastic surgery, like some of our best friends. Steve is now working 120 hours a week: on 36 hours, off 12. Now I ask you, is that reasonable? A colleague of theirs, a 29-year-old surgery resident at Detroit General, just died from a heart attack four days ago. His six-year-old daughter found him in the bedroom. It makes you really stop and think.

Anyway, enough meditation on why no one should be a doctor! On the brighter side, we have a glorious 13-week interlude between the end of school and the beginning of residency, and we are looking forward to spending every minute of it together having fun. Although our plans still aren’t finalized, we’re heading north to see the grandmas and grandpas first, and hopefully with some relatives in tow. Aaron told me firmly the other day, “Mama, I want to tell you my plans. Now, my first priority is to see Grandma. Than I want to go to Disney World…” What a patriot! Anyway, after visiting with our parents, we plan to head south and visit friends en route to Florida, where we are hoping to spend a few days building sand castles and visiting Disney World, then head north to Canada for a week or so at a friend’s cabin. After that plans are pretty loose, but we want to do a bit more visiting with our friends and folks and have a little time to settle in…or I should say find and settle into housing in Ann Arbor. Kensington Feeding DucksLeaving Detroit is not without its nostalgia. I was thinking about all the things we never did here…like never shopping at the downtown Hudson’s just blocks away (who needs to with the K-Mark boutique handy?), never visiting the Bob Lo Amusement Park, never touring the several grand mansions around or the Ford Plant. However, we know just about every park for 100 miles, where to find muskrats and tame raccoons, deer, and geese, we’ve learned when to look for snakes and which flowers will bloom in the woods. I’ve learned to recognize a few of the Tigers (ball players), and we’ve ferreted out some of the best inexpensive restaurants in the state of Michigan. We’ve also heard some of the finest orchestras, concert bands…opera, cantata… seen excellent art and history, visited Greenfield Village, the Detroit zoo, and taken many romantic evening strolls in Windsor’s parks with their breath-taking views of Detroit’s skyline (which is quite gorgeous all alight and reflecting across the river). Best of all, during these four years we’ve grown from two to four and begun to experience real love, based on grace, not works. Love that gives instead of taking, and a handful of priceless friends to share with forever.

D’nB’s B’nB

Dan and Brianna 2In last year’s Christmas letter, I mentioned that Dan and Brianna had moved Mike and Danback to GR, but I don’t know if I’ve told you just how fun it is to have them closer Dan and Brianna..and I’m quite sure I haven’t told you about how hospitable they are! Brianna is Brianna's family the oldest daughter in a family of 10 children…and from a long line of fruitful Brianna's FamilyByrds (e.g.: 2013 summer reunion, and we’re just talking fam and first cousins!). Dan with AmelieAlthough the Lord hasn’t gifted them with children of their own yet, they both Brianna with Illyreally love children! Brianna works as a nurse at DeVos Children’s Hospital, and Dan with Nephewsthey both spend lots of time loving up their nieces and nephews. This Christmas, Dan and Briannawe had all 27 of us together…which is more than one house could sleep, so Dan Brianna making cakeand Brianna decided to turn their home into a B’nB for the holiday season. They 313361_939695457698_1517818213_nworked really hard outfitting their two spare bedrooms to accommodate babies Daniel playing guitar    and even sent cute invitations ’round, inviting their sibs to their B’n’B! Lois by BriannaMeanwhile, someone asked if they’d be willing to sponsor an exchange student Lois and Oh…in fact TWO exchange students. Being as hospitable as they are, they said, Mr. X“Sure!” so they took in Lois (a senior from Sweden) and Oh (a freshman from Dan, Brianna, Lois, and OhSouth Korea) for the year, figuring that helping 2 kids for a school year was a Scripturesgreater good than keeping sibs for a Christmas break. HOWEVER, they still Daniel's 27th Bday by Briannawanted to help out, so they worked like beavers all fall, transforming their Dan and Brianna at Meijer w kids basement into a lovely guest area too, and over the break D’nB’s B’nB made our Jon's + Dan'sbeing all together possible (without costing a fortune in hotel bills). THANKS! 🙂

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Peter 4:9).

A Look at “Chasing God” from the Other Side

IMG_2070Last December I was offered the privilege of reading and critiquing on my blog an un-proofed manuscript by Angie Smith. The book is entitled Chasing God, and it’s just now hot off the press for 2014! For a starter, here’s my impression of Angie’s perfect target audience…IMG_2074If you: 1. Recognize a lot of angst in your life  2. Identify more with Piglet than Pooh 3. Find a kindred spirit in Doubting Thomas 4. Are ADD or have friends who are 5. Have trust issues and don’t like to obey authorities without understanding “Why?” 6. Think a road without rabbit trails is just no fun  7.  Prefer seeing how close you can get to the edge without falling over the cliff rather than hugging the inside track on a mountain 8. Say you’re a Christian but don’t seem to be making much progress as a pilgrim 9. Identify with the title Chasing God and think you might be interested in understanding what the author’s trying to describe  10. Are between 20-40…then Chasing God may be just the book for you! 10 bonus points each for liking Selah or other books by Angie. IMG_2076If you gave yourself 10 points for each “Yes, I do!” above, and you aced this quiz, then I recommend you get yourself a copy ($9.99 Kindle or $14.08 hardcover on Amazon), make yourself a steaming cup of coffee, and dive in… headlong and barefoot. It’ll take some time to reach the far shore, but when you climb out the other side, you’ll be standing on holy ground and need your shoes off anyway, so no use worrying about the January freeze. Just do it! IMG_2078At least, that’s what I did, and I wasn’t disappointed. Not because I got 120% on the quiz (don’t forget the bonus points). In truth, I would have gotten a big, fat 0%=F- if I’d taken my own quiz, but having said I would, I did. You see, I’m not a Doubting Thomas. I identify more with Matthew: “He [Jesus] saith unto him [Matthew], ‘Follow me.’ And he arose, and followed him” (Matthew 9:9). Simple, right? Found by Jesus before I knew to look for Him. Was given  FAITH (in all caps) as a gift at age 12 and have never really doubted since. Sat on the front row in school and church. Took my Bible as my daily bread and have loved sitting at the feet of Jesus every day since. I spent 10 years meditating through the Song of Solomon and experience Jesus as my heavenly husband. I talk to him constantly, and truly He is the One on whose arm I lean as I walk through the wilderness of this life!  Sometimes I argue (oh, and my husband knows how true this one is!), but I will obey, because fellowship with God is more precious to me than anything else in life. He is my life. He’s awesome and mysterious, and I’ll never comprehend Him fully or well, but He’s all I need, and I’m utterly content!IMG_2080So, I read the book because I said I would, but it was like watching someone too far away trying to swim in icy water. I worried about her. It wasn’t until she reached the other shore and sat by the fire singing with me that I knew she’d found the same God who’d found me. Angie is safe, resting in the love of God and in love with Jesus…just like I am.IMG_2075Two personalities—poles apart—but one Savior who’s rescued both of us! And, I delighted in the last couple of chapters. The Lord has given her some great insights. So, I guess even if you (like me) flunked the quiz, you might enjoy the book, particularly if you have loved ones who struggle with faith and feel like they’re chasing God rather than abiding in the Vine. He is. He sees. He loves.IMG_2079If you’re not sure if your spirit is alive or dead and haven’t yet learned to feast on the scriptures, think about giving Chasing God a try. God is so worth the search!

“And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Relatively Good Ideas…

-5Have you ever noticed how ideas about what’s “good” change over time? -9I mean, I grew up in the fifties, but Mom didn’t wean me with Coke -6or beer! -7How about this? Mom taught school. You mean, all she needed was vitamins? -3

…& I’m sure she didn’t think women were “for” cooking. Hackles up yet, girls? -1Here’s an add you’ll never see today. -2And, I mean really, how P.C. is this??! -4Apparently you could soothe your toothache with cocaine drops back in 1885, but today it could land you in jail! -8Smoking has gone from glamorous to grotty… at least in the U.S. -10What’s considered “good” on earth is as changeable as the tides, but what’s considered good in heaven just never changes!

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Snow Sculptures from Breckenridge, CO

-7With the weather forecasters predicting plunging temperatures again, -9 I figure we may as well dig in for a long, cold winter and enjoy the snow! -3 Have you seen pictures from Breckenridge’s annual snow sculpture contest?-8My cousin Jim (who’s spending the winter in Hawaii, poor dear) -5forwarded these pictures to me. -6Aren’t they huge…-1 and magnificent?!-2“Yo, Bob, break’s over.” Guess I’d better get back to work, but I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did! 🙂

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”( Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Rise Up, My Love (68): My Will or Thy Will?

224 NYC SkylineSong of Solomon 3:2 “I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.”

“I will…” Oh, the weightiness of those words. She did not wait on her Lord to deliver her from her woes.  Rather, she took matters into her own hands. She did not heed the admonition to “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way” (Psalm 37:34). Rather, she chose to do things her way.  How many times have we fallen into Satan’s trap of self-will?

Lucifer said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:14-15). The phrase “I will” is found 1,535 times in Scripture!  From Genesis to Revelation we can trace the will of man as opposed to the will of God.  In every case, the will of man fails. In Exodus 15:9 it is recorded of Pharaoh: “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” But did Pharaoh succeed? No!  God blew with His wind, “the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters” (Exodus 15:9). King Nebuchadnezzar willed to have all his people worship a great golden image, but he failed, and at the end of his life he gave this solemn testimony: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase” (Daniel 4:37).

In Luke 12:18-20, God called the selfish, willful rich man a fool because he did not follow God’s will.  Instead he said: “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’  But God said unto him, ‘Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

In the Scripture, there is only one man who perfectly obeyed the will of God.  Solomon was the type of this king of peace, but Jesus Christ alone was the true Prince of Peace. In all the world, there may be many men who appear to be “Prince Charming”…our “Knight in Shining Armor”…the one who will rescue us from all our woes.  Earthly husbands try, but they are only pictures of the true reality.  On earth men are to picture the love of Christ for the Church, but only Christ is the truly perfect one who was not only able to say in every situation…but also willing to do… “not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

Are you looking for Prince Charming?  Look on earth no more; look up to heaven. There and there alone will you find the ever living, ever loving, ever perfect one. Would you have him for your own?  Then abide in him, and learn to say with him, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

The Armstrong Archives (68): Almost Through with Medical School!

147March, 1979 It’s hard to believe that we can count the days Alan has left in medical school on our fingers and toes! Alan has finally recovered from his 95-hour-a-week campaign and is now doing hematology…from the worst to the easiest. He actually gets home early enough to bundle the boys up for a walk before supper, and we’ve been doing all kinds of fun things this past week. Saturday morning Alan took Aaron out to breakfast to visit the hospital where Alan’s working now (and for a man-too-man talk, of course). He even let Aaron choose what he wanted to eat at the cafeteria: chocolate milk, doughnut, and sausage! Oh no!! He’s normal even despite our best efforts. We’ve also had time for tramping through the snowy hiking trails at Kensington (the snow’s gone in town but still hard-packed in the woods) and visiting the art museum in Windsor, Ontario. (Canada is just about 15 minutes away.)

Sigh! I’d forgotten how nice it is to have a husband who only works a 40-hour week! Actually, it’s more like 45-50 since he has to study still, but the pressure is off, and we consider that vacation has already started. Since I’ve always valued time over money (Alan’s), I can see some real advantages to having someone who has a low-pressure, regular-hour job. However, most men seem to have an inner clock that tells them how many hours they’re going to work at something (whether it be job or pleasure), and I notice that most wives have husbands who are very busy regardless of their vocation. Up to a point, I guess that’s a healthy sign. To be active and interested in good things…that’s better than laziness and boredom!

The sky is blue, and the boys and I are about to leave for the grocery store for some packing boxes and some goodies to stock the larder. This afternoon we are looking forward to the arrival of Cheryl (Pryor) W. and her husband, Jack, and brother-in-law, Jim, both of whom are pastors. They’ll be attending the Bill Gothard Pastors’ Seminar while the rest of us get to visit. Of course, we’re hoping to get in on some of the jewels of wisdom they learn. 🙂  The Gothard materials are so scriptural and so practical that I can hardly think of anything I’ve gotten more out of. Alan always says he learned more in the week we went to the Gothard Seminar than he did in four years of college. They’re absolutely four star.

We still won’t know for another week whether or not Alan will do his residency in Ann Arbor or not, but we’re still hoping and semi-planning, lining up a place to store our household stuff, etc. We’ve just about decided to take off April 1st and go traveling for a while (after visiting up North for a bit). Right now it’s in the dream stages, but we’re working very hard on planning a route and writing chambers of commerce for information, etc. In fact, we want to see you, too, if we can, which is a major reason for sending you a letter right today.

The boys are doing just fine these days. In fact, they’ve been well for several weeks running now, so I hope the cold season has passed for another year. Michael is still learning new words every day: cracker, juice, cheese, brush. He is always so delighted with himself that he keeps us laughing and clapping. Water has evolved from “mor” to “gager” and some others are pretty mangled so that only a brother or parent could catch the meaning, but he’s coming, and it’s fun to watch. Aaron’s latest turn in singing is to rephrase things (accidentally), such as “Let us lay before the Master” instead of “Let us labor for the Master” or “When the roll is called beyond her I’ll be fair” for “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.” Out of space! Hope to see you before too awfully long!