“Speak Truth in Your Heart” Book, Finished!

We want to say a big thank you to all who shared insightful comments regarding the font color of Sarah’s new book! You all shared so many insightful comments and helpful thoughts! After much deliberation and discussion, we finally decided on … navy! 🙂 We praise God that we finally have the book finished and now available to order!

We were aiming to have it available for the Answers for Women Conference 2018 and we ended up cutting it super close.

Praise God our printer’s location was directly on the way to where the conference was, so we picked up the books from our printer right after they were finished — one day before the conference!

It’s always a great experience to smell the new book for the first time, haha.

Thanks for all who have prayed for us as we’ve been completing this book. We’re so grateful for how the Lord helped us finish, and now pray that He uses it in lives.

Serious Van Wreck

Our whole family almost died last Friday night on a trip home from Chicago. We are amazed to be alive.

The five of us were together, traveling home from a great-aunt’s funeral. We were having a nice family time in the van, laughing at old stories.

The weather had just changed, and had become a mix of rain and snow, but it didn’t seem especially dangerous. But it was more slick than we thought, and while passing a semi we hit ice and began fishtailing.

“Oh no,” I heard. We were losing control.

I peered up from the second bench where I had been lying down, and saw the front of our van hit the side of the semi we had been passing. The impact of hitting that semi sent our van violently into the grassy median, and I saw that we were now headed towards the gleaming lights of oncoming traffic. All of a sudden things felt really out of control (we were rolling, but I didn’t realize it at the time) and I heard the loud noise of the van roof crunching in on top of us. I yelled, “Jesus, protect us!” and tried to prepare myself, thinking I was about to feel a ton of pain, and we all might die.

However, after a few seconds, we were stopped by the side of the road, and I didn’t feel the pain I had been anticipating.

“I’m okay!” I said, surprised.
“I’m okay,” my dad responded.
“I’m okay,” Sarah echoed.
“I’m in pain,” my mom said. Just hearing her voice was a relief, but she was holding her stomach and her shirt was getting bloody. She was not able to answer questions very well or identify the location of the pain.

Stephen was already on the phone with 911.

I looked around to get my bearings. We had been going west, but now we were on the far side of the east-bound lanes of the interstate.

Here’s what had happened: We had rolled over the cable separation barrier and landed right side up in oncoming traffic. When Stephen (the driver) refocused his eyes on the road after that roll, he saw the oncoming traffic about to hit us and he thought we were all going to die. However, the momentum kept us moving and we skidded across both lanes of traffic. Once Stephen saw we were on the shoulder, he stepped on the brake. He was shocked that we survived.

Back to my mom. She seemed a little faint and couldn’t answer questions very well, but she indicated the pain was subsiding. She was taken to the ER and later I learned that the blood was actually just from a cut on her hand. There was an initial fear of internal bleeding, but the CT scan showed her internal organs were okay. She does have a fractured shoulder, though, and bruised internal organs. The hospital kept her overnight but she is now at home recovering.

In the above picture you can see our red cooler in the median. Apparently it flew out while we rolled, along with other things. Almost all the van windows shattered and even our big harp was part way out the window. We do not have an explanation for how my mom, Sarah, and I (who were not wearing seat belts) did not also fly out the window, except for the Lord’s protecting hand. My mom was right next to the cooler, and she was even leaning against the window when we rolled.

Mom and Dad were very happy to be reunited, and we were all relieved Mom wasn’t worse. It is an unbearable thought to consider all the things that could have (and realistically speaking, should have) happened.

The hospital chaplain told us, “I’ve been working here for five years, and you are the first trauma accident where all the people have lived to tell about it.”

I questioned her, confused. I mean, we all know many survive car accidents. She explained that she only gets called for the serious accidents. And in situations like ours, we were the first family in five years that all survived.

As you can imagine, we were all pretty emotionally shaken. I remember sitting with Stephen in the waiting room, waiting to hear how Mom was.
“Did you think we were going to die?” I asked him.
“Yeah. I thought we were going to die,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears.
The next few days were filled with emotion for all of us. Two days later, my dad was preaching the sermon at church and took the first 15 minutes of his sermon to tell of our accident. It was hard for him to get through it.

Through all the grateful tears, we also have an increased compassion for those that do experience great loss in these kinds of accidents.

Here’s where the accident took place. We were coming from the other way. You can see the cable barrier and broken posts. That’s where we rolled.

Praise God the van structure held up well enough during the roll that the roof didn’t crunch in further.

Sarah’s neck was very sore, and the next day at the junk yard and Detective Stephen discovered a clue as to why her neck hurt so much.

She must have hit her head on the ceiling of the van as we rolled. This is a chunk of Sarah’s hair caught in the van ceiling! Thankfully, the soreness in her neck is already subsiding.

Now our harp…. it didn’t do so well!

As we took off the harp cover, this is what we found. We’re grateful it was insured, but even if it wasn’t, it hardly feels like it matters. We’re alive.

On Sunday afternoon I sat down at our kitchen table with my Bible. It fell open to Psalm 116. I looked down at the verses and read these words: “For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:8-9). The whole chapter was amazingly appropriate. (Amazing how no matter the disaster, there’s a Psalm that will fit. 🙂 )

Stephen showing my mom pictures of the van the next day in the hospital

Right after the accident when I realized my family was alive, I felt such thankfulness to God that it was hard to express. It was this feeling of, “What could I ever do for You, Lord, to thank you for this?!”

Yet, that Friday night rescue wasn’t the biggest deliverance that the Lord had accomplished for me. The much bigger gift was when He died on the cross to rescue me and my family not just from earthly death, but from eternal death in Hell.

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all” – Isaac Watts

The Lord has provided for us in countless ways: A young couple who saw the accident happening (from the oncoming traffic side) stopped immediately and were a comfort to us – they also had their families praying for us. A friend, Craig Rollinger, who lived nearby came immediately to give Stephen a ride from the hospital to retrieve the harp from the towing yard. Our church family showered us with love and met all our needs.

We have yet one more reason to owe our lives to Jesus. And we are reminded that He is able to easily rescue from any danger until He says it’s time to come Home.

Church-Wide Memorizing Marathon

On January 20th, our church family ran a marathon. Only, the entire event took place inside our church building. It was not running miles, but memorizing verses! It was an exciting day! I’ll share a glimpse of what happened.

The morning began with a wonderful breakfast that Cheryl volunteered to provide. (Everyone knows you need good food before a marathon!)

As breakfast was concluding, my dad gave instructions about the morning’s schedule. Everyone chose in advance whether they wanted to do a whole marathon (memorizing 26 verses, all in one morning), a half marathon (13 verses) a 10 K (6 verses) or a 5 K (3 verses). We had 37 participants.

Memorizing 26 verses all in one morning is no easy undertaking! Like physically running a marathon, it requires unusual dedication and perseverance. It helps to know others are doing it with you. Sometimes you don’t know how much you can memorize until you really apply yourself.

No one knew in advance which Bible passage we would be memorizing. The passage was printed out, and everyone was told to pick up a copy (in the version of their choice) as they entered the auditorium to begin.

Silence filled the room as the “race” began and each mind focused diligently on the passage.

That is, until the “Chariots of Fire” theme song would start playing (approximately every 45 minutes) which meant it was time to go downstairs for a quick water and snack break. (How could you run a marathon without snacks? 🙂 )

Some of the girls prepared motivational posters for the little ones to hold to cheer on the memorizes as they came down for the snack break.

After a quick break, we were all back upstairs to keep studying! Each person picked their own quiet, comfortable spot in the church to study.

Chloe found an exceptionally good study spot (her dad’s lap).

Whenever anyone finished their entire goal (whether 26, 13, 6 or 3 verses), he or she would quote to someone.

Naomi worked really hard and did a 10 K all by herself (6 verses). Here she is quoting them to Charlie.

Thomas really applied himself and here he’s quoting his 5 K (3 verses) to my grandpa with actions. We’re so proud of how hard the kids worked!

After lunch we had an awards ceremony! In this picture Stephen is passing out the 10 K medals.

Our “winner” was Laura Howard (mint sweatshirt), who memorized all 26 verses in just 90 minutes and quoted them fluently to my grandpa. Mark Woodhouse, one of our elders, was the second to finish the full marathon. 🙂 Of course, we weren’t actually racing against each other.

The event concluded with some Bible quizzing on the passage we had all just memorized.

The kids were pretty excited to see the adults quiz also. 🙂

We praise God for all the Scripture that was hidden in hearts in just a few hours, and for the joy that accompanied doing it together! We counted up how many verses that were memorized by everyone over the course of the morning and the number came to 500. Praise the Lord.

Sarah’s Birthday + John 1 + Isaiah 40

We had a nice family time at Kava House in Swisher this morning for Sarah’s birthday!

After some nice family discussion, my dad shared some insights from John 1 that he has been enjoying. I’ll try to restate his thoughts:

After John denied that he was the Messiah or Elijah, he explained who he was: the very one Isaiah 40:3 was talking about. That must have been amazing for his audience to hear. The man standing before them was the one about whom Isaiah prophesied! Wow. They were seeing prophecy being fulfilled before their eyes. However, what John the Baptist said NEXT made his previous statement pale in comparison. He said, “AMONG YOU STANDS ONE you do not know, even He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26).

Whoa! If the crowd listening was familiar with Isaiah 40 (and I’m guessing many were) they should have connected the dots, and realized that John the Baptist was talking about Jehovah, the I AM described in Isaiah 40. If they were understanding John the Baptist correctly, it should have registered in their minds that he was saying, “The Messiah is alive today in Israel! The One that ‘the voice calling in the wilderness’ from Isaiah 40:3 was called to introduce is here! He stands among you now!”

“It’s kind of like ‘Aslan is on the move,’” Stephen commented.

And if they remembered any of the amazing descriptions of this Coming One that Isaiah 40 gives they would have been even more in awe. Although John’s listeners didn’t catch on at that time to the implications of what he was saying, praise God WE can read John 1 and Isaiah 40 with understanding.

John the Baptist was a phenomenon that Israel hadn’t seen in 400 years. An angel announced his birth. His life’s work was prophesied. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15). Even Jesus spoke high compliments for him (Luke 7:28). Yet all of John the Baptist’s credentials merely elevate Jesus because John said he was not worthy to even untie the strap of Jesus’ sandal.

Anyway, there are few things better than a good Bible discussion with family at a coffee shop on a cold January morning.

Our Behind the Scenes Hero

Most people who order from our online store don’t know that almost everything is packed by our 91-year-old grandpa! Not only does he pack orders, he keeps the basement organized, duplicates CDs, meticulously proof-reads for us, picks up mail from our PO box, takes inventory, packs and unpacks for our conferences, and meets many other needs (including remembering to water our plants, since we always forget).

Even more than the practical help Grandpa provides, we appreciate his prayers. Actually, he prays diligently not only for all his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, but he prays for each individual at our church by name (while keeping up-to-date with the details of their lives). Right now he is also teaching four Bible studies. 🙂 He keeps a pretty busy schedule. I hope that when I am 91 I will be living the same kind of life. Also hoping that one day I will have read through the Bible 40+ times like he has!

I won’t go into detail about the quirky skills he maintains such as quoting the books of the Bible backwards, naming major US cities in order of population, his detailed knowledge of all the presidents and vice presidents, or his tips for remembering the ten plagues in Egypt, but if you know him you can ask him yourself.

Thanks Grandpa for your godly example in our lives!

“Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man? The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:6-7).

Scrolls Multiplying like Bread and Fishes

Last week a group of young people from our church loaded up into our van to pass out “Christmas scrolls” downtown before a parade.

Here was our team who braved the cold, 23 degree F weather! 😮 The only problem was that we had more helpers than anticipated, and we didn’t have as many scrolls as we would have liked. It’s a disappointing situation to have the manpower but not enough resources to give away.

Thankfully, Edie and Brad Dukek had rolled and brought several large bags of scrolls downtown and had them waiting for us (about double the amount you see in this picture). What a wonderful sight that was. God had fixed our problem.

We had a good hour passing out several hundred of them before the parade. My dad liked to tell people with enthusiasm, “This is the Christmas story FROM THE BIBLE!” and he said people responded with warmth to that–like they were getting “the real thing.” And they were!

I was also grateful for a few discussions I was able to have because of a Christmas questionnaire I used. I thought I’d share my questions in case any of you would find it useful in starting discussions this season. I’d start by saying, “Hello, I’m doing a little Christmas questionnaire — would you be able to answer a couple questions?” Then I went through the first four questions fairly quickly and spent the most time on the 5th question.

1) What was Jesus’ primary purpose for coming to earth as a Man? (John 12:27-28, Hebrews 2:14)
2) Do you know what the name “Immanuel” means?
3) Can you name some of the prophecies that were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth? (Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2)
4) What was the good news of great joy that the angel spoke about? (“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10-11)
5) Jesus is called a “Savior.” What does He save people FROM and how does He do it?
6) The Bible tells us quite a bit about Jesus’ first coming. Do you know what it says about His second coming?

One man named Carlos told me he thought you get to Heaven by faith plus works. I was just about to explain the key concept found in Ephesians 2:8-9 when a drunk guy came up and was a big interruption to our discussion. Thankfully I was able to get back to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Carlos told me he was touched by the encounter. These interruptions at key moments are common and they are a reminder that we are in a spiritual battle and need to persevere in sharing the truth.

We returned invigorated, ready for a warm dinner, and grateful for those who helped us get God’s Word into many hands, and thankful to the Lord who allows us to be involved in His work.

Dad Witnessing At Christmas Tree Farm

After my dad and I picked out and cut down our Christmas tree this afternoon, we began talking about how we should witness to the guy who was working there. We thought that a good strategy for getting into a conversation would be to ask what he thought the second coming of Jesus would be like.

After my dad tied the tree to the top of our vehicle, he remembered he never paid for the tree. 🙂

When he went to pay, he asked his question about the second coming and they ended up talking for 10 – 15 minutes. I joined part way through.

“How’d that conversation go?” I asked dad as we were pulling away.
“Great,” Dad said.
As he began to explain the story to me, I pulled out my camera and started recording, hoping it might spark some new idea for others who might get into discussion this Christmas.

Dad Shares About Witnessing to Christmas Tree Farm Workers from Grace on Vimeo.

Nine Tips for Christmas Caroling Evangelism

A few nights ago we went out Christmas caroling. The girls in our Bright Lights group LOVE doing this. And the elderly neighbors around our church LOVE it when they come.

Here are a few practical tips if you’d like to arrange an outreach like this in your neighborhood or church neighborhood! You don’t have to do it with a Bright Lights group — you could do it with a church group or group of friends. (Our church is planning to do it on a coming Wednesday night.)

1) Don’t take too large of a group – it takes too long to move from house to house. We split into smaller groups of about 12 each. This way we can also reach more houses.

2) Knock, ring the doorbell and then start singing! If they don’t come to the door after one verse, we usually go on to the next house.

3) Have the carolers bring cookies pre-made on little plates (with about 5 cookies per plate) so that you can leave a little treat at each home. Also give them a Christmas gospel tract or Christmas scoll. Give each girl involvement by letting different girls give the plate of cookies to the home resident each time.

4) After you finish the first song, greet the person who came to the door with a warm “Merry Christmas” and explain who you are and what you are doing. (I usually say, “We are from a girl’s Bible study group that meets at the little church around the corner!”) Then we often ask, “Do you have a favorite Christmas carol you’d like us to sing?” However, this is a little risky. It has led to some embarrassing attempts at singing “Silver Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

5) If they don’t come to the door, instruct the carolers not to announce loudly, “I see a man in there — he’s watching the TV!” because walls are not very sound-proof and we don’t want to be a bad testimony or seem rude.

6) If there is snow on the ground, try not to turn their glistening white front yard into a yard covered with muddy boot prints (i.e. take the sidewalk or street).

7) Instruct your carolers in advance to smile!!

Christmas caroling door to door is kind of a thing of the past. Some elderly people remember doing it when they were young and are shocked and ecstatic when carolers arrive at the door!

8) Sing only the first verse of common Christmas carols. The carols my team sang the most were, “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World.”

9) Have one person in your group be the scribe. Take notes of which houses you went to, and which houses were especially grateful. You’ll want to make sure you hit those houses again next year. We have some elderly people around our church who wait for us to come each year, and have been extremely touched.

When you regather inside your warm church (or home) discuss what the Lord did and pray for the people that you reached. Celebrate with hot cocoa and Christmas cookies!

We need more “carolers for the harvest” :). Please leave a comment if you have done this and have additional tips.

Christmas Witnessing Tool

“Have you read the Christmas story from the Bible yet? Here’s a copy for you!”
This is my dad’s favorite line to say in the month of December as he passes out the Christmas account from the Bible.

This year, we decided to order 5,000 “Christmas scrolls.” The scroll is almost entirely Scripture. Our objective is to get people reading the Word of God!

Scripture written on the scroll:
Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-12, John 1:1,14, John 3:16-19 (Scripture quoted from the NASB.)
Old Testament verses contain various prophecies of Christ’s coming.

We like to roll them up and give them out like little scrolls. People receive them as a festive Christmas gesture. Thanks to my Grandpa, who works for us at our office daily (even though he is 91 years old), we have 200 rolled for our next outreach this Friday night: the Peppermint Walk downtown Marion. For those in our area, if you’d like to come and help pass out the scrolls, you’re more than welcome.

The scrolls are perfect for attaching to a plate of Christmas cookies for neighbors, teachers, coworkers, and friends. You can purchase them in packs of 25, 50, 100, and 250 from our online store. (Note: they come flat and you have to roll them yourself.)

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Note: I have not yet mastered the art of carrying these as I’m Christmas shopping (to give to cashiers) and not wrinkling them. If you come up with any solutions to this problem, I’d be interested.