Learning from the wise…

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I am learning that one of the best ways to learn how to share my faith is to glean from the wisdom of those who have been doing it for years. Since I’ve recently been asking the Lord for wisdom and training in witnessing, I was delighted with the amazing way He provided for me today.

Last night, Sarah, my dad and I drove into Darien, Illinois (where my dad grew up) for a Bible Quizzing Tournament this Saturday. This morning, we decided Panera sounded good for breakfast. Just as we sat down with our bagels—surprise!—some good friends walked in, not knowing we were in the area. After warm greetings, we invited them to join us for breakfast.

Immediately they began sharing some recent witnessing stories. Since I kept asking, they kept sharing, and wow—was I encouraged! They shared for 2 hours straight about the incredible ways the Lord has led them in sharing the gospel. From hosting neighborhood children’s events to making friends at local restaurants and stores…they shared example after example of times the Lord brought seeking souls across their paths. I wish I could share it all with you now but I don’t want to make this blog a newspaper.

Later this afternoon, we ran into another good friend and, upon hearing my desire to gain insight in witnessing, he graciously agreed to share his “fishing” advice with me. He goes out “fishing” everyday and is always sharing stories about those that he has led to the Lord. I felt so privileged to have this appointment with this hero of the faith and I bounced dozens of questions off him. One of the major things I learned was how powerful simplicity is. The devil wants to make the gospel look complicated and scare us away from attempting to share it. But Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. (Matt. 18:3)

Family Times…

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Here I am with my cousin, Stephanie. Do we look alike? (We don’t think so.[smile] )

Stephanie and I went out for coffee yesterday afternoon and had a good talk about witnessing ideas. Here’s a good idea she shared with me that I thought I’d pass on to you:

When you are at a restaurant, tell your waitress, “Hey–we are just about to pray for our meal. Is there anything we could pray about for you?”

It’s often difficult to get into a good conversation with waiters or waitresses so I am excited about trying out this idea.

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When you are the youngest ones in the family, no matter how old you get, you never outgrow the “kid’s table” at family gatherings. [smile]

This afternoon, when my family arrived home from church we were all really hungry. Funny how that happens when you don’t have much food around. It’s been a busy weekend and unfortunately we didn’t have anything planned for Easter dinner.
Dad wanted oatmeal, so Sarah started to make baked oatmeal but then she found out that we didn’t have enough oatmeal so she substituted rye flakes. [smile] (My mom often mentions how she appreciates that Dad is so easy to please when it comes to food…)

However, we decided that oatmeal just wasn’t enough 🙂 so we tried to find something else. We remembered that we had a couple steaks in the freezer. After thawing them, we had a little family discussion about whether we should grill outside (in 30 degree weather) or broil them in the oven. We decided to broil them. Unfortunately, they started on fire in the oven and set off our fire alarm, etc. It’s a good thing our family likes steaks well done.

It turned out that we had a very nice (Easter) Resurrection Day dinner and a relaxing Sunday.

Planning at the Building

Almost everyday we continue to have discussions and make plans about the ministry building. There are lots of decisions to make!

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Discussing layout plans

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Can you see the little piece of popcorn in the air? (Nice, Stephen 🙂 )

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Here is our current “office” at the building. Pretty fancy, huh?!

We have been very grateful for the help from Ben Weieneth (at laptop). He is a homeschooling friend of ours who has an interest in architecture. His dad gave him the “homeschool assignment” of drawing floor plans for the building. He drew up some very nice, detailed floor plans and showed them to us.

The very next morning, when we applied to get a building permit, the city requested drawings from us. My dad knew just who to call! We were grateful to the Lord for his provision.

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Tracy Jarmon, (bottom left) is our “contractor” and a very good friend of our family’s. He has spent hours and days working at the building and discussing plans with my dad. He has so many good ideas and he understands what we are trying to accomplish. I don’t know what we would do without him.

St Patrick’s Parade Report

We just arrived home from the St. Patrick’s Parade about an hour ago. It was rainy and cold, but that didn’t keep everyone away! It was funny seeing lots of people wrapped up in their fuzzy blankets waiting for the parade to start.

Some friends from our church and Bright Lights group came with us and together we passed out about 2,000 tracts. It was a lot of fun! –Especially since most people smiled and thanked us, sometimes asking for more. We also got into several good conversations with people.

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A real highlight for me was listening to the stories that were told at a coffee shop afterwards. We sipped our coffee and hot chocolate and listened to reports. My dad told a story about how he had talked with someone for a long time and then they prayed to accept Christ, (!!!!) and Sarah explained about an interesting talk she had had with a young Mormon who was really open and interested in what she was saying.

My friend Nickie got into a talk with a lady who called herself a “born again Christian”, but didn’t really know the Lord. So Nickie asked her, “When you say ‘born again’, what does that mean to you?”
Her response was a confirmation to Nickie that this lady didn’t really know what she was talking about–she just knew some Christian terminology.
“Well, would you like to know what I believe?” Nickie asked.
“Sure” she said.
Nickie explained the gospel, and she was very receptive.
“Do you have a Bible?” Nickie asked.
“Yes” the lady answered.
“I’d suggest reading the book of John,” Nickie said.
“John? Ok.” she answered affirmitively.
Nickie left her with a tract entitled “How Can We Know We’ll Go to Heaven?”. (By the way, I’d recommend this tract–it’s very clear and informative.Click here to read it.)

If any of you passed out tracts today we would all be encouraged to hear about it! Please post a comment and share…

Report

Recently we have been finishing up the Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Coloring Book. We have been retracing and fixing pictures and doing last minute touch-ups throughout the final draft.

Projects are always harder to finish than you think! You know how it is…there are always more improvements you could make, but eventually you just have to call it “done.” Tonight we kept rewording the text on the back cover…but I think we just finished it. *Finally!*

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We’re thankful that finishing this coloring book is a whole lot easier than finishing Before You Meet Prince Charming was!
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Yesterday afternoon, Stephen went through and did all the little games and puzzles we added 🙂 and checked to make sure that all the Scripture references were correct.

We just received an e-mail with a final draft of the cover from Jeremy Fisher, the graphic artist who designed the cover of our two previous books. This time I don’t think we have any more changes to send him! Amazing.

Checking out

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I had no cash in my wallet. I blanked out and couldn’t remember my debit card pin number. The Wal-Mart cashier had already scanned in all my items. Oh great.

“Forty dollars and eighty cents will be your total,” she told me. After a few seconds of frantic frustration I confessed, “I am so sorry—I can’t remember my pin number and I don’t have any cash! Could you hold it while I find my mom?”

“Uh…sure” she agreed.

I began searching for my mom, knowing that finding someone in a crowded Super Wal-Mart is very difficult, and often unsuccessful. To make matters worse, it was about 5pm during the Christmas rush. I’m sure you can imagine. Thankfully, after a minute or two I spotted my mom in another check-out line.

“Mom!” I exclaimed with relief.

“Grace, dear, I can’t talk to you right now, and I need you to leave because I’m buying your Christmas gift.”

“But, mom, I need money—and the cashier is waiting—and there are people behind me in line—and…”

“Grace, just go stand over there and I’ll talk to you when I’m done”

“But mom—”

Oh my goodness. This is crazy, I thought. I considered calling my bank and asking for my pin number, but the bank was closed by this time. After several minutes, my mom finished checking out and I rushed over to her. She had run into an old friend and was busy chatting.

“Mom,” I interrupted, “I really need a check—or some cash—or something. I’ll pay you back.”

Returning to the cashier, I found that she, and the people behind me in line, had been simply waiting all this time. Great. Now they are probably all going to be mad at me.
Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to be upset. I handed the cashier the two $20s and a dime.

“Um, It’s actually forty dollars and eighty cents,” the cashier responded.

Uh oh. I had remembered the total wrong. I was still 70 cents short!

The search for my mom began–again. I didn’t see her anywhere. I can’t believe this is happening. She was just here a minute ago! Why do embarrassing things always have to happen to me?! (“Hmmm…I wonder…” Stephen would answer.)

I must have looked rather silly running through all the self checkout aisles and lines of people. Eventually I found my mom sitting on a bench by the door.

After getting the change and paying the cashier, I apologized for the inconvenience. Then I turned to the lady behind me in line and apologized for making her wait all that time. Thankfully she didn’t seem bothered at all…she just looked somewhat amused. Whew! That was crazy.

At least I didn’t try to slide my driver’s permit instead of my debit card like I accidentally did one time…but that’s another story. 🙂

A few weeks later I was at Wal-Mart again and I noticed someone waving at me. It was the same cashier girl! She was all smiles and we began to talk. We chatted for about 5 minutes and I explained a few things about our family ministry and left her with a tract. Now when I go to Wal-mart I purposely go through her line since we are “friends” now. I am hoping to go back and talk with her more. God is so creative…He uses all kinds of different ways to bring us into contact with people so we can be a witness to them of who He is.

Purity Tea in Massachusetts

Below are several pictures we recieved from a group of young ladies in Massechusetts. They planned a special “Purity Tea” and over 100 mothers and daughters attended. Several different young ladies spoke from different chapters of Sarah’s book (Before You Meet Prince Charming) and they even acted out the princess story with props and costumes. It looks like they did a fabulous job — wish I could have been there!

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Have you ever seen a cake like this before?!

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If anyone would like more details about this event (or suggestions about how you could do something like this in your area) e-mail me grace@radiantpurity.com and I will put you in touch with Emily Eckerson who hosted the event with her sister and mom.

Making Progress…

We are now almost done with the tear out process at the building — thanks to the help of many friends. We had our third “work party” last night, and were grateful to have about 20-30 homeschoolers in the area come out to help.

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Preparing the floor for carpeting and tile.

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Thankfully, Sarah never actually used this 🙂

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Removing drywall–lots of it–as you can see from all the dust in the air making my pictures fuzzy…

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Scraping off rubber left from the previous carpeting

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Of course, snacks are a necessity

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We gathered and prayed for the homeschoolers in California and the crucial court case that is going on right now.

Building News!

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We hit it off with the sellers of the building and we invited them out for coffee as we were leaving the realtor’s office after the closing of the sale. We hadn’t known each other previously, but we are friends now! As our realtors were sorting through all the important legal documents, we were chatting away. (I think our realtor’s thought we were kind of unusual clients 🙂 )
They had a family-run motorcycle shop until the dad of the family passed away a few years ago. They are very grateful that the building is going to be used for a good cause now and they want to come back and see it when it’s “done”.
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Early Saturday morning we found this note on the front door of our new building. They had worked late into the night to clean all of their stuff out of the building and also left a welcome note for us.

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A few men prayed and dedicated this building to the Lord, and we asked for God’s protection and blessing. Several testimonies were given about how we’ve already seen the Lord’s hand in so many ways. Then…the work began!

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First, the guys had to go dumpster digging… 🙂

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The dumpster was an attraction to many, as you can see…

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…but not to everybody.

Below are some pictures I snapped throughout the work day.

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I never knew how much fun it was to “demolish” a building! We had a blast! It’s not every day that you get to go tear apart a building.

We took off all the paneling, carpeting, and tile, knocked out a wall, took out a huge counter, etc. The building seems like an overwhelming project in a way, but getting so much done the first day was an incredible start.

THANK YOU to everyone who gave up your Saturday to come help!!!!