Friday, August 27, 2010

THE DRY SEASON--by Guest Blogger, Rachel Phifer

I have a picture my grandfather painted of his childhood. The family sits on the porch under the moon and stars. Grandpa plays the fiddle. Mama sits in a rocker fanning herself and the little girl by her side. The boys stand next to the porch with the dog, while Grandma and Papa sit in the porch chairs looking on.

I like imagining what it would be like to live in that world. I have an abundance of things, but so little time. The picture makes me envious – not that I want to go back to a time before antibiotics and dishwashers. But I think I would have sensed God more if I sat every night under the stars. I know their days were hard, but I imagine scrubbing clothes against the wash board and hanging them up on a line to dry. With my body hard at work and my mind roaming free, I think my thoughts would run to prayer often.

In the real time world, my body sits idle at my desk while my mind is in constant demand. It’s why I’m spiritually dry so often. I know for a fact that when I was a stay-at-home mom, my mind did roam free, praying, thinking about God and his ways, even singing along to old hymns while I swept the kitchen or folded laundry with no one but a one-year old to listen in.

That life isn’t attainable to me now. I do have to work in an office. I do have demands on my mind. That’s reality, but I do think that even in our desk-chained, time-crunched world, there’s a way to God.

I read something a while back that’s stayed with me. An overworked woman said her devotions had run dry for a while. But when she went to reading the Bible in short bursts three times a day – a few verses before breakfast, a psalm at lunch and another short passage after dinner, the change made a world of difference. The Bible sang through her day.

Sometimes, it only takes one thing, one change in the routine to make the difference. I just increased my hours at work, and I’ve been more tired than ever. I open the Bible, but before I read through more than a few verses my eyes glaze over. A real devotion seems out of the question.

I lamented my exhaustion to God, wishing that He could be as real to me as in times past. The answer came, Give me two short times a day. Can you do that, Rachel, and not worry about how you feel? Give me ten minutes at each side of your day in any way you can, and I’ll fill the hours in between.

I’ve given God those ten minutes, the bookends of my day, sometimes with my eyes pasted shut with exhaustion while I whisper the words of a prayer I know well. I do it with the sense that I’m giving that time to God so that He will give himself to me. I won’t say there’s been a miracle, but I do find thoughts of God drifting more into my day.

Given time, I think that one change will make a difference. God is there, waiting. If I turn to Him, in just one way, He’ll turn to me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HOUSE GUESTS--by Guest Blogger, Joy Andreasson

My mother's friend, Joy, has a way with pictures that truly are worth a thousand words. That's why Joy's letter encouraged me when my emotions are very, very tired.

My relatives that stayed with us for 3 1/2 weeks have now left to return to their home in Northern Ireland. While I loved every minute of their visit, their leaving has left me with a multitude of conflicting emotions---sadness of times long past, milestones reached that will never come again.

As an immigrant, my relationship with my entire extended family has centered around few get-togethers that are usually only 2 to 3 weeks in length, separated by decades, and bookended by tearful hellos and goodbyes at airports gates.

Of course none of this is helped by fact that next week my husband and I will begin our semi-annual road trip to the prairies to take our youngest son back to college, and the next time we see him, it'll be Christmas.

Where has the time of my life gone?

Dear Christine: MY HOUSE GUESTS by Joy Andreasson

My house guests, or better known as My Squatters spent over a week bringing all sorts of things and dragging them through the tiny hole of a front door and making everything just right.

I imagined them talking to each other saying things like "is this okay?" or "what do you think of that?"

Things quieted down and I assumed the "female of the house" was laying the eggs and sitting on them. Then all of a sudden the monumental task of feeding the babies was on. The diligence of these two sparrows was amazing.

All day long they kept bringing beakfulls of little green caterpillars and you could hear the little ones squawking as soon as they came near the hole.

It brought to mind God's love and his diligence in always taking care of us, in the same way these sparrows cared for their babies. Awesome.

The down side of all this, but also such an example of how wonderful nature is, was that every time they brought the caterpillars they would go in the nest and come back out with the "poop" and deposit it on our patio. After the birds were long gone, your Uncle James got the bird house down for me, and I was quite amazed how clean it was inside. It didn't smell too great, but there was no sign of any debris like egg shells or a mess.

They started building the nest sometime just before July 12th and on August 13th, I realized there were no birds. Thought they should have at the very least done a fly by and said thank you, but we haven't seen a bird around at all since that date.

This last picture is the little bird sitting forlornly waiting for next year.

Love, Joy

Selections from Ecclesiastes chosen by Christine: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh . . . Remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

HARVEST FOR KIDS--Children's Camps International

It happened just as we prayed. Children's Camps International beat the Guinness World record for harvesting a quarter section in record time. I was there. I saw it happen. I felt the goose bumps, and the silent awe of watching 200---yes I said 200 giant, gleaming, combines---harvest a golden wheat field on this warm August 6 of 2010. See it here by clicking on the webcam Harvest for Kids World Record.

People came from all over the world---Anthony Samy from India, Alexander from Belize, to represent just a few of the international camps CCI partners with.

Over 200 farmers gave up their time out of a busy harvest season. Many local businessmen in southern Manitoba gave of their product and time to cultivate, plant, and nurture this wheat field. As I watched the mamoth combines, in two steady rows of 100 combines each, roll in an unwavering line to meet in the center of the section, my heart filled with pride for these God-loving prairie people.

Back in 2006 CCI tried to beat this record. To read about the struggles of that day, including the field being hit by lightning, go to

Today, the Lord graciously rewarded CCI for the faith-testing disappointments of that day in 2006. He couldn't have provided a more perfect day for the event that brought in over 10 thousand spectators, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and dignitaries.

The event began with a group of farmers singing our national anthem and then heading out to their machines. Three yellow crop-duster planes flew in formation over the field. Several helicopters and two other visiting planes also flew overhead. The Lord even sent a gentle breeze to blow the chaff away. A petting zoo entertained the children, and music entertained everyone. It was a great day. And it all happened because of the love of hundreds of volunteers and the handful of CCI staff who want to make a difference in the world.

It just goes to prove that when we step out in faith, with our hearts set on honoring God first, He lovingly rewards that faith. God allowed CCI to gain the awareness they sought through this Guinness World Record.

But why go to all this trouble? Why bring all these people here to witness this event? To beat a record? To win a prize? Have 15 minutes of fame?

No. It was for children. There are many worthy organizations that provide good food and water for kids. Children's Camps International wants to take the needs of children one step further. They want to feed the souls of kids, take the Living Water and the Bread of Life to these little ones---to introduce them to Jesus Christ through the camping ministry.

The bread we eat in this life, and the water we drink will satisfy only for a while, but a relationship with Christ will satisfy for all eternity.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


This gorgeous cactus was started from a piece that belonged to my mother’s friend, Joy. Sad thing is, Joy grew impatient with this plant when it was spindly and taking too long to grow. She got fed up with it and threw it out. Her neighbor, however, knew how to pace her time a little better, be more flexible with time-lines—at least in the case of growing this cactus.

This is a crazy, super-fast summer for me. I’m barely into my new house. There are still lots of boxes to unpack. There are pictures yet to be hung. And I’ve got relatives visiting from Ireland. With all that excitement, the next three weeks will go by in a blink. During that time, I also have to fly to Manitoba for a huge Harvest event with Children’s Camps International. After that, one week of ‘normality’, and my husband and I make one of our semiannual trips to the middle of the country to drop our son off at college. Then . . . summer is over. DRAT.

Lots of fun things to do, great times to connect with family, but little time to work on the two projects that press on my heart—the CCI non-fictional story, and my fictional novel that I’m hoping and praying will be the one to break into the publishing world. It would be nice to actually make a little bit of money for all the writing I do.

You see, I have a timeline running through my head. Push through with the two books in the summer, polish them off and have them ready by November. And then . . . yuck . . . get a day job in December to support the household coffers. Insert heavy sigh, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

That’s my personality. Like all personalities, it has its plus side and its negative. Yes, I’m the kind of person who can work like a piston engine, all steam, push-push-push, and complete a project. You can bet your boots, I’ll finish a thing.

Negative side is—I get frustrated if I can’t get to my work, or what I think should be done. It’s because I worry, I suppose. Worry that events won’t roll off the assembly line of my mind on time. Those time-lines I set for myself are a two-edged sword. Yes, a person needs to set goals—without something to shoot for, you’ll miss every time. But so often I see in myself and in others, frustration welling up, when their expectations are not met quite as they feel they should be.

Impatience is a nasty thing. When Joy sent me that picture of the cactus it spoke to my heart. Sometimes we need to let go of the time-line in our mind, leave it to God, and let Him bring the flowering in his time.

What Jesus says about worry--Matt 6:25-28a "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field, and how they grow...."