Category Archives: Personal

Honduras Missions Trip

During the month of March, I was able to take my third missions trip. I traveled with Wings Bearing Precious Seed again and had a wonderful time. Missions trips never get old! New cultures, new friends, and new experiences are such fun. This time, I experienced things like airline delays, getting sick, God’s enabling strength, being pulled over by the police (twice!), late night games, and uplifting conversations with fellow believers, to name a few.

Just getting to Honduras was an adventure. A Wisconsin snowstorm and mechanical problems on my flight caused me to miss my connecting flight in Miami, FL. Five of my team members had also experienced delays and missed the flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The six of us stayed the night in Miami and continued our trip the following day. We finally arrived in Siguatepeque, Honduras, late Tuesday afternoon.

Despite our late arrival, we were still able to do much. Wednesday through Saturday, we went out on the streets and passed out copies of Romans and an invitation to special meetings on Saturday and Sunday. The Hondurans were very receptive and rarely did anyone turn down an invitation. I was able to go to a market one morning with several team members and we passed out many, many invitations. It was so encouraging to see God work!

Our efforts were not in vain. We passed out a total of 27,300 Scriptures throughout the week. We had many guests at each of the services and gave 252 Bibles to first-time visitors. The most exciting part was seeing over 25 precious souls accept Christ. Seeing God work through human vessels is humbling. I trust that the wonder of being used by God will never get old.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to know the Snyder family. The Ted Snyder family has been missionaries in Honduras for almost three years. (Fun fact: my family visited their home church years ago while we were on vacation in New York.) From helping at a children’s Bible Club to singing together in church to enjoying a coffee break, it was wonderful to be able to work with this dear family. They are amazing examples of Christ-love as they have taken 4 young Honduran children into their home and are raising them to love the Lord.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to play the violin and piano for each of the services. It was a stretching experience as I learned to improvise piano accompaniments for several vocal specials. Piano playing has never been my forte (pardon the pun) but God enabled. He gave me the strength to play in spite of my lack of ability and despite being sick. Missions trips are a great way to realize how weak you are and how mighty God is.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58

The following pictures are not all mine. Thanks to various team members for allowing me to use your photos.

Waiting for the shuttle in Miami. It had been a long day.

School Outreach

Evening at the Snyders

Services 

Bible Club

Miscellaneous Pictures

Sightseeing Day

 

Travel Day

Guatemala Missions Trip

FeatureImage

I recently had the privilege of going on my second missions trip. I love missions trips! They are a crazy mix of excitement, exhaustion, and encouragement. 🙂 I love seeing God take the impossible and miraculously work through human vessels to complete His plan. It’s thrilling!

During my trip to Guatemala, it was exciting to see God work in so many different ways. He enabled us to distribute over 48,000 copies of Romans to the people of Guatemala. As a result, 175 visitors attended the special services at Iglesia Bautista Fundamento Biblico. Throughout the three services, we saw 51 people accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praise the Lord! We ministered in two different schools and reached hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults with the Gospel. Over 25 people were saved in the schools. A young man from one of the schools came out to the services and accepted Christ.

We walked for miles every day. Sometimes up steep streets, sometimes through crowded marketplaces, and sometimes through bad neighborhoods. Our feet blistered, we got sunburned, and our shoulders ached with the weight of our backpacks. It was exhausting work. We had some early mornings and some late nights. But the discomfort and exhaustion was worth every minute as we saw 10 individuals accept Christ on the streets of Guatemala City.

I came home encouraged and humbled. I was encouraged to see the nationals passionate about sharing the Gospel with the lost. I loved watching the young people of Iglesia Bautisa Fundamento Biblico open a Bible and declare the Gospel during the invitations. It was a blessing to work with other Americans to spread the Good News. Souls were reached for eternity because 18 people chose to follow God out of their comfort zone. God delights in using His children to accomplish His plan. I am humbled to think that God wanted to use an English-speaking girl to spread His Word in a Spanish-speaking country. As I used my few phrases of Spanish to hand out the Gospel and invite lost souls to church, God used me. There is nothing special about me; it’s only Jesus.

If you ever get a chance to go on a missions trip, do it. It will be an experience you will never forget. After I got home I shared with my cousin in a text, “I came home with a renewed love for lost souls, a deeper hunger for God’s Word, and a desire to learn more Spanish so that I can communicate better.” Missions trips will change you. They will change your perspective on life and eternity. They will change the way you interact with people on the street. They will change your walk with God.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8

School Outreaches

IMG_0068

IMG_0096 IMG_0101 IMG_0102

So many of the kids wanted selfies.

IMG_0122 IMG_0129

IMG_0164 IMG_0166

Street Outreach

IMG_0131 IMG_0141 IMG_0145

We walked through so many markets like this one. At the busier ones, you could easily hand out several hundred Scriptures.

IMG_0152 IMG_0198 IMG_0203

Church Services

IMG_0216 IMG_0230 IMG_0232 IMG_0236 IMG_0237 IMG_0243 IMG_0254 IMG_0256

IMG_0277IMG_0294

Fellowshipping in the courtyard after church.

IMG_0288

First-time visitors received a free Bible.

IMG_0286 IMG_0285

IMG_0282

Sightseeing in Antigua

IMG_0325 copy

Yes, that is an active volcano.

IMG_0324 IMG_0334

The streets are all cobblestone.

IMG_0333 IMG_0332 IMG_0328

Fellowship and New Friends (Most of these pictures are from other team members.)
12376850_10209140457728017_7655436751453214750_n

Frisbee in the church courtyard.

12963396_10209176389746295_7288797671023861340_n

Pastor Garcia and his wife, Stephanie

12967397_10206550155055926_6785505009505945321_o

12993534_10209176387226232_1185594044072937569_n

Mrs. Philbrick and I were partners for the week. We had a great time together. 🙂

9578_10209176385266183_8019552798365685667_n

Brittney and Abbey

13001048_10209176388626267_7573737637105914346_n

12998517_10209176455907949_1717627860357884309_n

IMG_0309

IMG_8539

This picture of our entire team was taken at 4 a.m. on the morning we came home. Left to right: Mark and Tammy Philbrick, Jon and Kristi Nothstein, David Lord, Nathaniel Johnson, Chris King, Brittney Johnson, Hunter Philbrick, Luke Philbrick, Dema Johnson, Silas Philbrick, Allen Johnson, Abbie Sikma, Abbey Grimes, and Alan Harris.

13000075_10209190803826638_5276188915079240009_n

Saying “goodbye” at the airport.

South Dakota Vacation | Personal

Life has been such a whirlwind lately. As my siblings and I grow older, it’s a challenge to have family time. The second week in May, we were able to take several days and head to South Dakota. Andrew was unable to join us for the week but we were delighted to have Granny come with us. We had a terrific time together and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills and the Badlands.

IMG_1919

South Dakota had several inches of snow a few days before we got there.

IMG_1913

Shortly after we drove into South Dakota, we heard a loud “pop” and our van began experiencing difficulties. We slowly made our way to the nearest exit only to discover that we were still some distance from a town. We spotted a oil and tire company and figured that they could at least point us in the right direction. The manager graciously allowed our family to camp out in the break room while our van was towed. God miraculously worked out the details and the necessary parts were found and repairs were made in less than three hours! God is good!

IMG_1923

The scenery was breathtaking.

IMG_1924

IMG_1937

Pardon the well-loved and dirty sweatshirt. [grin]

IMG_1961

Visiting Mount Rushmore was one of my highlights of the trip. Pictures just don’t do it justice. The sculpture is just incredible.

IMG_1959

The visitors’ center was fascinating and informative. Did you know that the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had originally planned for Jefferson to be to the left of Washington (as seen above in the studio model)? Due to faulty rock, the original Jefferson was blasted away and moved to the other side of Washington.

IMG_1952

I love this picture of Joseph and Nathan.

IMG_1978

We were hoping to see bison up close and this fellow kindly obliged by standing about three feet away from the road.

IMG_1983

This rock formation, located in Custer State Park, is known as “The Needle’s Eye”.

IMG_2019

We took a day to drive through Badlands National Park. The rugged beauty is amazing. We spotted this sign at one of the viewpoints along the way.

IMG_2023

My lovely parents

IMG_2024

Granny snapped this picture of us.

IMG_2033

Jonathan surveying the land.

IMG_2034

IMG_2041

IMG_2044

This picture depicts the many layers of sediment and rock.

IMG_2068

One of our outings included a hike around Sylvan Lake.

IMG_2075

IMG_2080

IMG_2081

Some of us enjoyed climbing really high. If you look closely, Benjamin is proudly standing at the very top of that rock formation.

IMG_2086

You could see the Crazy Horse Monument from our cabin.

IMG_2016

Goodbye, South Dakota! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

January Update | Personal

You may have wondered where I’ve been for the past month and a half. I took an unexpected but completely necessary sabbatical from blogging. It has been an exciting, sweet, busy, sad, and special time for me. I am definitely looking forward to posting more often now and have several ideas simmering.

Here are a few photos from the last month or so.

I had a delightful Thanksgiving break and was able to spend it with one of my best friends. Hannah and I talked for hours and hours and hours. [grin]

December started off with a most exciting event. I had the privilege of attending my first birth as a doula. Little Rachel was born at 2:47 a.m. on December 1st. IMG_8895 For our family picture this year, we went with a jewel-tone theme. The younger kiddos really look tall in this picture!

My grandfather, Pop Criswell, went Home to be with the Lord after 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital. It was an incredibly sad but sweet time. Our Christmas Day was a special time as we stood around his bed and sang his favorite hymns and Christmas carols. God called him Home January 1, 2015.  His funeral was a beautiful, victorious, God-honoring service. Over 70 preachers and preacher boys sang “Faithful Men” for his funeral. Please pray for my grandmother as she adjusts to life without her husband of 62 years. She has been an incredible example through this entire time. She is a beautiful living illustration of the Proverbs 31 wife.

Scenes of September | Personal

September found our family involved in some fun activities. Between birthday parties, a one-day vacation, and lighthouses, we’ve had a blast!

Our first event featured here is a surprise 80th birthday party for three of my grandparents.

_MG_3244

When your cake fails, make cake balls. [grin]

_MG_3234

Bethany, Nathan, & Anna enjoying time together.

_MG_3288

Jonathan and Anna listening to the various dinner conversations.

_MG_3290

Pop and Granny Criswell–I love this picture of them!

My photography skills are definitely lacking (see above) and I’ve been attempting to learn and understand our camera better. (Book review coming soon of a really helpful photography book!) We went up to Door County, WI on Friday and I tried out a few of the things I’m learning. While the pictures aren’t perfect, I was pleased with my progress. [smile]

IMG_3345

Anna

IMG_3368

One of my favorite stops of our day was Whitefish Dunes State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan.

IMG_3370

Nathan enjoying the scenery.

IMG_3378

The water was beautiful.

IMG_3380

I enjoyed snapping pictures of this cute couple!

IMG_3382

Chloe wrote our name in the sand.

IMG_3383

Joseph exploring along the lakeshore.

IMG_3384

Nathan

IMG_3385

Aren’t they cute!?

IMG_3389

Anna searching for sea glass.

IMG_3401

IMG_3406

More exploring

IMG_3413

Nathan and Mom pause for a picture together.

IMG_3416

IMG_3431

Dad found this stone shaped like Wisconsin.

IMG_3462

The younger half of the family–Chloe, Anna, Joseph, Bethany, and Nathan.

IMG_3487

We also stopped at Peninsula State Park. The foliage was beautiful.

IMG_3494

IMG_3511

I love this picture of Chloe and Bethany.

IMG_3515

This lighthouse, located in Peninsula State Park, was just beautiful.

IMG_3530

Saturday, we had the opportunity to go out to the Milwaukee Breakwater Lighthouse. We know the owners of the lighthouse and they graciously invited us to go out to it.

100_8240

The weather was perfect for a boat ride.

100_8258

The lighthouse

100_8290

There was a sailboat competition out on Lake Michigan.

100_8286

100_8281

At the top of the lighthouse–Anna, Chloe, Abbie and Bethany.

100_8254

Northwoods Vacation | Personal

I got back from a delightful, restful, and fun family vacation last Wednesday. A sweet older lady at our church owns a cottage up in Conover, WI and has graciously allowed our family to vacation there for the past three years. It’s definitely been one of our top vacation spots. We had no internet and little cell service and I thoroughly enjoyed being disconnected for several days.

The cottage is on a lake and we took full advantage of a number of water sports. Tubing, skiing, kneeboarding, swimming, boating, etc. were all enjoyed by various members of our crew. [smile]  I got my WI boating license before we left and loved getting to drive the boat a few times. Hopefully, you won’t mind the picture overload!

IMG_0827 First campfire of the week! The evenings really cooled off and the fire felt great.

IMG_0826

Cuddling around the fire with Nathan.

IMG_0828

Joseph in a contemplative mood.

IMG_2424

Mom and Dad canoeing.

IMG_2410

Eagles were nesting near the cottage. We saw one catch a fish.

IMG_1358

Chloe and Andrew enjoying some time together.

IMG_0841

Fixing meals is fun in the cottage’s tiny kitchen. [grin] We could crowd quite a few people in there.

_MG_2606

Two of my pretty sisters–Anna and Chloe.

_MG_2493

The cottage is so pretty at night.

_MG_2505

_MG_2595

Some of the guys enjoyed fishing. Left to right: Andrew, Jonathan, Zach (friend of our family), Benjamin

IMG_1362

One of my highlights from the trip was ministering through music at Twin Lakes Bible Church. Jonathan, Benjamin, and Zach sang a men’s trio while Andrew and I accompanied them on piano and violin. Video coming.

IMG_0848

Cooking breakfast over an open fire. It was the first time I had cooked a meal over the fire. I enjoyed doing but am certainly grateful for modern conveniences.

_MG_2584

 Chloe getting ready to go tubing!

IMG_20140805_141138226_HDR

Tuesday found us visiting Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan.

IMG_0860

My sweet parents

_MG_2753

We saw a family of ducks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

_MG_2818Zach snapped a picture of our family. Left to right: Andrew, Abbie, Jonathan, Benjamin, Anna, Bethany, Chloe, Joseph, Mom, Nathan, Dad
IMG_20140805_125806412

IMG_0862

Nathan at the falls.

IMG_1368

Our wonderful hostess, Mrs. Corbin, showed us some old slides of the cottage.

_MG_2898

Cooking supper over the fire. Hotdogs, baked beans, and….

_MG_2902

Fresh fish! Courtesy of the fellas.

_MG_2905

We ate outside for almost every meal. Don’t you love the random chairs?

_MG_2911

Joseph and Nathan

IMG_1397

Another of my highlights was boating up to Phelps. Here, Andrew, Anna, Bethany, and Chloe pose for a quick picture.

IMG_1382

We stopped in at Sweets, Treats & More for some delicious ice cream.

IMG_1389

All the girls enjoying their ice cream.

IMG_1402

We enjoyed some [ahem] singing on the way back. Daniel (Mrs. Corbin’s grandson and our faithful boater), Jonathan, Benjamin, Zach, and I sang various songs as we boated along. (Note: Benjamin’s face is not shown here but those two extra hands in the picture are his!) [smile]

IMG_0900

The final day, Mrs. Corbin generously treated the entire group to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Left to right: Mrs. Corbin, Dad, and Mom.

We really had a wonderful time enjoying each others’ company and soaking in the beauty of the Northwoods. Several times throughout the week, I was reminded of the awesome power of God. As you sit and ponder the creation around you, you can’t help but marvel at how mighty our God is!

Buckeye Cookies & Life | Personal

Life has been super busy for me. My mom has been sick for three weeks which left me in charge of keeping the house going. It’s provided plenty of practical homemaking experience. I enjoy doing housework but it can be a bit daunting at times. Laundry, grocery shopping, and meal preparation for 10 people is a lot to keep up with!

We are also busy preparing for Vacation Bible School. Each year, Mom is in charge of organizing the program for the grandmothers. With Mom being sick, however, yours truly has had to fill in. This week found me shopping for and preparing 21 gift baskets to use as door prizes each day. Again, a daunting but good experience.

Next week, my family is heading to Indiana for a family reunion. I am looking forward to talking, laughing, and relaxing for hours with some of my very closest friends. I had a three way video chat with a few cousins the other evening finalizing food details and we were giddy with excitement. [grin]

buckeye_cookies

One of food items we’re bring to our family reunion next week is these mouth-watering Buckeye Cookies. I am firmly convinced that chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best food combinations ever. I created these cookies after seeing a similar recipe on Pinterest. I did not have a brownie mix so made a chocolate cookie base instead. My siblings quickly devoured the test batch. Here’s the recipe.

Buckeye Cookies

Cookie Base:
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Buckeyes:
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Topping:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening

Beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until fluffy–about two minutes. Add baking soda, flour, cocoa, and salt and beat at low speed. Scrape the bowl and beaters and mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by generous tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheet, 12 to a sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes.

While cookies are baking, blend peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Form into small balls. Press a ball into each cookie immediately after you take them out of the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack.

Melt chocolate chips and shortening. Top each cookie with about 1/2 tbsp. of chocolate, covering the peanut butter. Let cool completely and enjoy!

To My Dad on Father’s Day

IMG_2703 copy

I love this candid picture of my dad. The photographer for my brother’s wedding snapped it and it’s become one of my favorites from the entire day. 

Dear Dad,

I am incredibly blessed to be able to call you, “Daddy”. You are the best father a girl could have. You have been actively involved in my life. You have taken interest in me, in what I enjoy doing, and have encouraged me.

Dad, I’m so grateful for your Godly leadership in my life. There have been times in the past when I haven’t completely understood why we did or did not do a certain thing, but I always knew your decision was not lightly taken. I know there will be times in the future that I won’t understand “why”, but I choose to trust you.

Dad, thanks for being willing to be different from “the crowd”. Many times, you have encouraged us to base our actions not on what our peers may say, but on what the Bible states. And you have led by example.

Dad, thanks for showing us what a Godly man looks like. You are unafraid to stand for truth. You are willing to be honest and humble in front of your family. You are a witness to a lost world. You are a wonderful example of the man your sons need to be and the man your daughters need to marry.

I love you so much.

Your little girl,
Abbie