Brimming with idea's, and possessing the enthusiasm to carry them out, Mom stepped from her room a few weeks ago and announced that we were going to the Craycroft Center, a shelter for children.
"I've called them, and they are looking forward to our visit. It will be a growing experience for all of us. We need it. " She smiled.
Mom was entirely correct. It WAS a growing experience, and we DID need it. :-)
A few hours later, we tumbled into the car, and away we drove to downtown Fresno. This part of town was the section that young ladies shouldn't be out in at night. I have always been a little scared to be there, but this time was different because of our mission. There were several Rescue Mission buildings all grouped together, with the childrens home at the end of the block. As we turned in at the street, we drove by groups of homeless me. Their heads turned with curiosity as we drove by. Some were standing in line, waiting to enter the Rescue Mission. Others were setting up tents and mattresses, getting ready for the night ahead.
Finally we reached the Craycroft center, and were greeted by several friendly young men who worked and volunteered there. One of them loaded up our donations and snacks that we had brought and led us inside. On the way, he explained that the cheerful little garden by the doorway which had caught my attention was once just dirt and trash. Now, there was play equipment, red, yellow, and blue flowers, smiling up at us, while a carpet of thick green grass invited little bare feet to come play. We stepped inside and I gazed around me with wonder. We were standing in an enormous play room. The walls were brightly painted with huge trains, choo-chooing all the way around the room. Children hurried here and there, bringing out games, puzzles, coloring books, etc. since it was playtime. Five or six blue couches were situated so as to make a cozy place to relax. There were shelves of movies, TV's, a pool table, a piano, tables, and numerous other things on which to play.
For a few minutes we just stood there, Mom, Simon, Jeremy, and I, taking it all in and feeling a little awkward. However, it wasn't long before a dark haired young fellow walked up to us and introduced himself. Right now, his job was to watch the children during their play, and make sure no violence ensued. He informed us that there were about 15 children there at the moment, but they come and go constantly. Thirty days was the limit any child could stay at the home. From there, they would either go to a foster home, or go back to their families. After more conversation, we were treated with a tour of the building. As we walked down the hall where the bedrooms were located, we saw spotless rooms, (they have 'clean room' contests every day) well made beds, grinning children racing down the hall, and a darling little girl lying sick and listless in bed. Our tour guide told us all about the center, including what the children received when they entered, 4 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, 4 sets of underclothes, toiletries, etc. Everything they received while in the home they were free to take with them when they left.
When we had finished the tour, Mom and they young man gathered a few of the older children together to play a game of spoons. This gave us a very special opportunity to connect with the some of the kids who were there. One of the boys began telling us about his Mother who was "crazy". She thought she was from Russia, and forced the younger boys to stay inside. Even to the point of falling on top of him to try to brake his leg! Visiting with these children who came from broken homes, whose lives were torn apart, touched my heart where it needed to be touched. They had nothing! Nothing in the way of possessions or even in love. Yet, the tiny Hispanic six-year old, prancing around in her princess dress beamed us a beautiful smile. She convicted my heart! Whatever do I have to complain about? Or feel sorry for myself about? When these precious ones, who didn't choose to be where they are today, smile!
My time spent at the Craycroft center gave me fresh appreciation and thankfulness for all the blessings the Lord gives me every day. From a loving hug from Mom, to an answered prayer, He gives us so much.
All praise to Him who does all things for a purpose and for His glory!
December 30, 2005
December 27, 2005
...is eating a bowl of Dreyer's peppermint ice cream before bed time! Get it now at your local grocer since it won't last long. I'm trying to do my share of consuming the limited quantity released!
December 25, 2005
Christmas Communion Hymn
Gathered ‘round Your table on this holy eve,
Viewing Bethlehem’s stable, we rejoice and grieve.
Joy to see You lying in Your manger bed;
Weep to see you dying in our sinful stead.
Prince of Glory gracing Heaven ere time began,
Now for us embracing death as Son and Man.
By Your birth so lowly, by Your love so true,
By your cross most holy, Lord we worship You!
Bethlehem’s Incarnation, Calvary’s bitter cross,
Wrought for us salvation by Your pain and loss.
Now we fall before You in this holy place;
Prostrate we adore You for Your gift of grace.
With profoundest wonder we Your body take–
Laid in manger yonder, broken for your sake.
Hushed in adoration we approach the cup;
Bethlehem’s pure oblation freely offered up.
Christmas Babe so tender, Lamb who bore our blame,
How shall sinners render praises due Your name?
Do Your own good pleasure in the lives we bring;
In Your ransomed treasure reign forever King!
Our family likes this hymn because it illuminates many aspects of Christmas. Christ's birth is inextricably linked to His life, His words, His death, and His resurrection. What joy it brings to corporately reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation; God revealing Himself to man in His eternally begotten Son.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
"Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven." (Psalms 148:11-13)
-Max for the family
December 24, 2005
The arrival of our little Jaelynn Grace sent us all into a flurry of excitement! Some of us wanted to jump in car the moment we were notified of her upcoming birth. Others, however, having experienced a long, stressful day providing for the family, opted to wait until she was born, then early the next morning drive the three and a half hours to Los Angeles. ;-) Sure enough, at two-thirty A.M. the phone rang. Mom had been anxiously waiting for the call, and answered it on the first ring. "She is born!" Praise the Lord!
As soon as we could get ourselves together, those who were able, Mom, Dad, Jeremy and I, zoomed up to L.A. to meet this precious little addition to our family. I was filled with an enexpressiable feeling of wonder as I cradled her tiny, but very much alive body. Studying her features, and witnessing the perfect way in which she was knit together by the Creator of the world, I couldn't imagine how anyone could hold this tiny bundle of life and reject the fact of a living Creator!
Jaelynn Grace was born very healthy, with a head of downy soft dark hair. She was 7.2 pounds and 20 inches long! She slept quietly for most of the time, but did treat us with a glimpse of her bright dark eyes every so often, and even showed us her voice right before we left! :-)
Kendra and Daniel were brimming with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement over this precious start to thier family! What a joy for us to witness their love for each other and for their first child! I can't believe my big brother is a Daddy! :-)
I praise God for little Jaelynn's safe arrival, for her life, and for her parents! May she grow into a strong, virtuous young woman, who is willing to stand against the world for her Lord!
Blessings to each of you, dear friends and family, who share in our joy!
Sally, for the Parishes
December 23, 2005
This morning, about 3:00 am, our first grandchild was born. A girl, Jaylyn Grace, 7.2 pounds. I don't know if I've spelled her name correctly.
We thank God that mother and daughter are both doing well. We plan to head down as soon as we can put ourselves on the road.
Scott and Sandy
December 22, 2005
" There are two ways you can live . . . You can live as if nothing was a miracle, or you can live as if everything was a miracle!"
December 21, 2005
December 14, 2005
This last Friday evening (December 9), Max, Simon, Phil Seymour, and I traveled to the Rescue Mission in Madera, California. Max had engaged to speak during their chapel time. It was his first time to publicly proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we arrived, many men were lined up at the door, registering and taking a breathalyzer test. We sat quietly and watched while the room filled up.
They invited us to all sit on the platform in the front.
One of the head men there called everyone to "reverence". They had a reading of the "rules" first - basic behavior (no food or drink in the chapel, drop your weapons off when you come in-they will be returned when you leave, don't loiter around the mission during the day, etc.), rules regarding staying at the mission (one was no shower over 5 minutes long, etc.), and consequences for infractions.
They then took up a collection, each man putting into the "plate" a few coins.
Max then spoke for about 45 minutes.
Here is a very basic summary of his thoughts about Gideon:
* The battle is not to unto the swift.
* Oppression comes into our lives as a result of our disobedience and sin. Jesus breaks the chains of sin.
* Gideon's question: Why am I suffering?
* God's answer: You have not obeyed my voice.
* Gideon's commission: He was part of the solution.
* Gideon's response: humility
* Gideon takes action: he tears down the idols.
* The call of God tonight (Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your heart)
* Repent and cry out to God for deliverance.
Interesting to see some listening intently, some not at all. We were encouraged by the words of thankfulness by a few. We pray that God will bless the Word to these needy men and deliver them.
December 10, 2005
And so ends the second half of our Photo Journal! Although home is always wonderful to come back to, I always miss the dear friends we leave behind! Many precious memories were made, relationships grown, and new ones started. Our hearts were challenged and inspired once again, praise the Lord!
A huge thank-you to all of you who made our journey such a blessing.
P.S. BIG thanks to Brandon Huber and his blogger skills! Our comments are now readable! Hooray!
Monday night, the day before we left Floresville, I rode along with Nathan, Nikkae, Katherine, and Brandon, to their choir practice which was held in a tiny Anglican church. They were rehearsing for a preformance, and I was the privilaged audience, the only audience in fact, for most of the evening. Even a small church feels large when one is alone in the pews! :-)
Their voices blended together beautifully, and I throughly enjoyed every minute of it! Afterwards, we all hopped back into the car to finish the evening at an old historic resturant that was go out of business soon. By the time we were ready to leave, I strongly agreed with their wise decision in discontinuing the resturant. :-) I won't go into any details, but will just say this . . . their service gave us some humor on the ride home! :-)
December 09, 2005
Saturday night we all headed to the little town of Boerne (sp?) for a very special treat. Nikkae teaches a homeschool choir which we had the chance to hear preform! The choir was given a balcony on an old building on which to sing, overlooking the street below. Many people were out and about that night, enjoying the shopping and lights. Whenever they would pass by, or would be near a speaker anywhere, the joyful voices of children, singing praise to the Lord would fill the air!
Before we headed home, Nikkae, Katherine and I posed for a photo. We're a little tired, but still smiling!
Here we are, right before taking off to San Antonio to attend the Nutcracker ballet preformed in the Majestic Theater. It was a delightful evening as we enjoyed the beautiful ballet, met new friends, and saw the sights of San Antonio in the Christmas season. The River Walk was rather crowded because that night was the first night of the season when the lights around the river were lit. The colors were beautiful!
December 08, 2005
We enjoyed so much our Thanksgiving at the Huber's home! The emphisis that was placed on the Lord, and His hand in history was refreshing and uplifting. As we gave testimonies of thanksgiving, and heard Mr. Huber's message on Sunday about thankfulness, I personally was convicted of my lack of gratitude for the everyday blessings that God is so faithful to give me.
Many hands make light work . . . and yummy food! Here, Mrs. Carlson and Katherine smile for the camera while busy hands in the background continue to prepare for the upcoming meal.
Thank-you all who by their effort made this day so special!
December 03, 2005
Below is a Picture Journal that Dad and I put together tonight of our family trip to Michigan. The second half of our trip, which was spent in Texas, will be coming soon.
P.S. The Journal is ordered from the bottom up. ;-)
Tuesday night we enjoyed dinner at Clint and Sally VanSickle's home in Bay City. This is Tamra's father and mother. They treated us to a very good moose stew. You can see that Chase was just waiting to dig in.
Monday night after coming back from Canada, we met Klaty's at Benihana's Japanese restaurant. We had originally planned to go to Mongolian Barbeque, but we got lost, so this was where we ended up.
Benihana's is one of those places where you have a personal chef who comes and cooks your food on the grille right in front of you. He also entertains you with tricks and fancy moves with his knives and spatula. The smaller kids were transfixed by it all.
Here is a picture of the crew as they toured the Glenn Buurma's feed mixer manufacturing facilities. High tech plasma equipment was cutting thick steel plate that day. Very interesting.
Roger, of chicken plucker fame, is standing on the right hand side of picture next to Simon. Roger's brother Eric is on the far left, Stephanie is to the right of Sally, Charlie is to the left of Roger, and Mrs. Burrma is standing in between Roger and Charlie.
Monday the 21st, we went to Canada to visit the Harry Buurma family. Sally has been writing to Stephanie Buurma and we took the opportunity to get them together.
Here is a picture of Roger Buurma's famous home-made chicken plucker. You throw the chicken inside and the motion of the thing, combined with the rubber fingers, takes the feathers off nicely.
Roger has a list of parts for anyone interested.