Tag Archives: life

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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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.

Because He Lives

Source

“He is not here, but is risen.” Luke 24:6a

This week as I have spent some time meditating on the glorious truth of Jesus’ resurrection, I’ve been reminded of the beautiful lyrics to the song, “Because He Lives”. It’s because of Jesus that I have forgiven sins. It’s because of Jesus that I can face an unknown future. It’s because of Jesus that I will spend eternity with Him. And it’s because of Jesus that I can live each day knowing that He has made life worth living.

This weekend, I encourage you to take some extra time and ponder the victorious truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

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.

Acorns, Races, & Sin

IMG_2196

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”¬†Hebrews 12:1-2a

It was a beautiful fall afternoon and I was leading my siblings in our daily exercise time. The sun was shining, leaves needed to be raked, and everyone had lots of energy. It was a good combination. I decided to bring some fun into our afternoon activity. A few of us raked a complex path/racetrack through the leaves.

After some footraces in which various siblings competed, we positioned ourselves to begin a relay race. The three youngest siblings would begin by running half of the track and handing their baton to their assigned sibling, who would then finish the race. I was paired with my youngest (and smallest) brother so I shed my socks and shoes in favor of bare feet. I needed all the speed I could get. When the baton reached me, I took off running. Unfortunately, I failed to remember all the acorns that covered my path ahead. As I was running, I stepped on one of those tiny, sharp acorns. I felt the cut but continued running anyway.

When I reached the finish line (second place), I discovered¬†that the acorn had caused a rather deep cut. I couldn’t clean it completely and had to wait until my EMT brother got home. He¬†was able to fully clean and bandage the wound and it is now healing.

As I was thinking over this event, I was struck with a few truths.

#1: As Christians, our lives are like a race (Hebrews 12:1). We began the day we were saved and we are running toward to the Ultimate Goal–Jesus Christ. Each moment, each day is step closer to our Goal. Godly parents and mentors have passed the baton to us and we are to be running toward Jesus.

#2: Sin can be like acorns. Though I knew the oak tree stood there, I failed to adequately prepare myself to run. As fallen human beings, we sin every day. We see sin and its’ effects all around us but how often do we forget how powerful it is? We sin but fail to confess. We can continue limping on in our race but the power is gone.

#3: Confession of sin is like cleaning a wound. Getting my foot completely cleansed of all dirt was painful but necessary. Had I skipped cleaning the wound, it would eventually have become infected and caused much bigger problems. When we fail to confess our sin, it weighs on our hearts and minds. It festers and slows us down in our race. We can only obtain full cleansing and freedom when we confess our sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”¬†I John 1:9

If God is Good | Book Review

Thought-provoking and inspiring,¬†Randy Alcorn’s book, If God is Good, addresses the problem of suffering and evil. Mr. Alcorn presents logical arguments for the coexistence of an omnipotent God and evil. He draws from numerous true life stories and Scripture quotations to show that the God of the universe has a perfect plan and that He can use suffering and evil for good.¬†In the chapter,¬†Why Doesn’t God Explain His Reasons?, Alcorn states,

The God of providence weaves millions of details into our lives and into all the lives around us. Maybe he doesn’t have one big reason for bringing a certain person or success or failure or disease or accident into our lives; in fact, he may have hundreds of little reasons. In order to understand God’s explanations, we would have to be God.

The 512-page book is divided into sections such as, Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering, Problems for Non-Theists, Divine Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice, Evil and Suffering Used for God’s Glory, and other topics. The book, though theological in nature, is written to be understood by the everyday Christian. I highly recommend that every Christian read this book. It’s not a quick read but it is an encouraging read. If God is Good¬†will cause you to view suffering through new eyes.

Disclaimer: Blogging for Books sent this book to me in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review.

 

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¬į 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!

May Update

May is one of my busiest months each year. This year has been no exception. Here’s just a few things that have been occupying my time.

1. Taking my brother’s senior pictures
2. Preparing for said brother’s graduation
3. End-of-school-year teaching
4. Learning a new instrument
5. Helping with graduations at our church
6. Volunteering at our local food pantry
7. Enjoying weekend company
8. Preparing for a Memorial Day picnic with friends
9. Spending time with family
10. Working for my dad
11. Babysitting
12. Updating my blog look
13. Baking projects

I can’t wait to share a fun recipe and a couple new outfit posts with you. I have plenty of pictures but just haven’t found the time to sit down, prepare the pictures and write the posts.

Meanwhile, take a moment to check out my cousin’s new blog: laurencarns.com. Lauren shares “encouragement & joy for young ladies”.

An Open Letter to My Mom

MothersDay

An open letter to my dear Mom on this Mother’s day. I am incredibly blessed.

Dear Mom,

When Mother’s Day approaches each year, I’m usually unsure of the best way to express my thanks and appreciation for you. I can’t always find the right words to tell you how much I love you. This year, however, I have had words swirling through my mind.

Mom, thanks for choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. You have chosen, in the world’s eyes, the less popular path. In my eyes,¬†you chose the loftier goal. Each day that you tirelessly pour yourself into serving our family, you are choosing to know your children’s hearts. You have faithfully done our laundry, cooked our meals, and cleaned our home. And while you have done it, you have¬†learned our likes and dislikes, our struggles and victories, and our deepest thoughts. You have taken time to know each of us.

Mom, thank you for educating us at home. You not only taught us the basics of life and learning, but you also prepared and equipped us to face life’s challenges. You have given us the tools to learn. Our library will testify to the fact that you have fed our mental appetites with good, wholesome thoughts. You have taught us how learn from the everyday experiences.

Most importantly, Mom, thank you for your spiritual example in our home. From a young age, you have instilled God’s Word into our hearts. You continually stressed the importance of a strong relationship with the Lord. By example you have encouraged us to begin our day with the Lord. For several of us, you personally showed us from God’s Word how we could have a home in Heaven.

Thank you for your more than twenty-five years of faithful motherhood, Mom. You are an example to your family, your friends, and the world of what godly motherhood looks like. I love you so much!

Love,

Abbie

Book Review | Growing Up Duggar

I was excited when I first heard the Duggar sisters were writing a book. I had the opportunity to meet several of Duggars a couple of years ago and I enjoyed talking to them. I appreciate the testimony their family has had to millions of people. I requested the girls’ book for my birthday and it arrived a few days after its release. Here are my thoughts on the book.¬†

Book Title: Growing Up Duggar
Authors: Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar
Published: 2014
Genre: Non-fiction
Length: 256 pages

In¬†Growing Up Duggar, as the subtitle suggests, the sisters discuss the relationships that every girl has. For example, we all have relationships with ourselves, with God, with siblings, with guys, with the world, etc. Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger each take turns sharing how they have built relationships. They recount honest accounts of issues they’ve had to deal with. Throughout the book, you’ll also enjoy humorous anecdotes of a family of 21.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on relationships with siblings. As the oldest sister to 10 siblings, it was encouraging, thought-provoking and convicting. The sisters encourage older siblings to find ways to praise their younger siblings. Younger kiddos delight in hearing, “Good job!” from an older sibling. Jessa points out, “As older siblings, our words and actions have so much power–they can either boost or shoot down our younger brothers’ and sisters’ self-esteem.”1¬†

april-pictures-041

Jill, Jinger, Jana, and I–April 2012.

I¬†highly recommend the book for girls of all ages (guys may enjoy it, too). ūüôā Easy and enjoyable to read, you will be challenged and encouraged to build Christ-honoring relationships.¬†And, here’s a bonus. Chelsy over at¬†It’s a Beautiful Life is hosting a giveaway for a copy of¬†Growing Up Duggar. Giveaway ends March 20th.

1. Jessa Duggar, Growing Up Duggar (New York, Howard Books, 2014), 75.