Tag Archives: purpose

Guatemala Missions Trip

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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

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So many of the kids wanted selfies.

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Street Outreach

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

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Church Services

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Fellowshipping in the courtyard after church.

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First-time visitors received a free Bible.

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Sightseeing in Antigua

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Yes, that is an active volcano.

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The streets are all cobblestone.

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Fellowship and New Friends (Most of these pictures are from other team members.)
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Frisbee in the church courtyard.

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Pastor Garcia and his wife, Stephanie

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

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Brittney and Abbey

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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.

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Saying “goodbye” at the airport.

Because He Lives

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“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!

The King’s Blooming Rose | Review and Giveaway

The King's Blooming Rose Giveaway

Last year, I was introduced to the delightful magazine, The¬†King’s Blooming Rose. Edited and published by homeschool graduate, Sarah Bryant,¬†The King’s Blooming Rose “offers quarterly encouragement to Christian girls.”¬†KBR¬†encourages young ladies to “become delightful cornerstones at home, under the guidance of their parents according to Titus 2 and Proverbs 31.” Each issue features themes such as abiding in Christ, contentment, femininity, and Scripture memory.

My sisters and I were gifted with a year’s subscription by a sweet friend and we have thoroughly enjoyed each issue. In fact,¬†we’ve loved it so much¬†that we ordered all the back issues. So, to celebrate 100 posts on The Blue Tree House,¬†I want to give away a year’s subscription to one of my readers.

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with your first and last name. You can enter additional times by

1) Pinning the top picture
2) Sharing on Google+
3) Sharing on Facebook
4) Sharing on Twitter
5) Sharing on your blog

Leave an additional comment for each entry with your name and a link, if possible.

Giveaway closes Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 12 P.M. CDT. Winner will be announced Friday, March 27.

Acorns, Races, & Sin

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“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.

 

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]

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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!

Spoken For | Book Review

Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke was an enjoyable and encouraging read. The authors each share personal anecdotes and Scriptures that young women can relate to.

As a single woman, Spoken For was encouraging in that it reminded me that I am spoken for. Jesus Christ wants to have a deep, close relationship with me. My identity and joy does not come from within or around me but from Heavenly Father. Alyssa reminds young women that when we cling to Jesus, He will comfort, guide and protect us.

Robin and Alyssa are quick to point out that following Jesus does not make life automatically easy. We will still face temptations and trials but through Jesus we can have victory. The lies that Satan tells us can be conquered by fixing our hearts on the truth that Jesus gives us in His Word.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” II Corinthians 3:17b

I appreciated the amount of Scripture that was used in the book but do wish that it was all taken from the King James Version.

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

To My Dad on Father’s Day

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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