Mexico

March 18, 2016

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Mountain in Mexico

I apologize for the confusion this post may have caused those of you who signed up for my email. I accidentally published it before it was ready, so I “un-published” it and got it ready again. So here it is – again!

In my Bible Study Fellowship this week, the opening hymn was Praise to the Lord the Almighty. As I sang it, I realized that it outlined my trip to Mexico perfectly and in almost exact chronological order so that I could use it in sharing my testimony of what the Lord has done in my life recently.

(For those of you who don’t know, I recently went on a mission trip to Mexico for ten days.)

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation!”
When we arrived at the leader’s house on Friday morning, it was suggested that the group from my church (we joined others from different churches and groups) pray before starting. We primarily praised God for us all being able to go, how we were able to come despite adverse circumstances, and for all He would do in and through us.
Our leader has always put an emphasis on the Lord being the Almighty Creator, and he was planning on teaching a VBS (vacation Bible school) all about the Creator in Mexico.

“…O my soul praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!”
We all began the bus trip with prayer for our travels – prayers for safety and for health as we traveled for thirty hours to a foreign country. We had many thoughts about our health, and the salvation of souls in Mexico and beyond.

“All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration.”
On Sunday morning we made sure to wake up in time to go to a Mexican church service at 10:30 A.M. We ‘drew near to God’s temple’ in Juarez, Mexico, and were hosted by gracious Christians who chose songs that were familiar to us Americanos, so that we could join them in glad adoration of our God and Creator. We joined with our brothers and sisters in the most meaningful, life-changing praise of God I have ever experienced before in my life! It was amazing and wonderful.

“Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigning bears thee on eagle’s wings, e’er in His keeping maintaining.”
As we, the very different-from-the-Mexicans, Americans walked through the city market in the afternoon, we were approached by two ladies from the newspaper who asked to take a picture of some of us for the morning news. Later we found out that this made our visit slightly less low-profile than usual. We walked through a rather dangerous street and were shown a poster/display for a young girl who was kidnapped from her Christian family. Our guide told us that five girls are kidnapped each week in Mexico.

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Please remember to pray for girls like Esmeralda

God protected us all that day and through the whole week as we served Him. He maintained us and bore us up on eagle’s wings.

“God’s care enfolds all whose true good He upholds. Hast thou not known His sustaining?”
I experienced this in a very personal way on Sunday night just after I went to bed. I laid down in the top bunk, and immediately, with no warning, I felt like I was going to be sick. I quietly rushed to the bathroom, where I stopped, no longer sick, but now overcome by a wave of emotion. I couldn’t stop crying and thinking of my family, and stayed in there for about ten minutes, crying out to God for comfort. And He did! He gave me the strength, calm and distractions to not be lonely all the rest of the week.

“Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;”
The Lord surely prospered our work! We got many things done even on just the first day. He protected us from all the hidden dangers – car accidents, unfriendly people, major illness, etc.

“Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.”
He also gave us mercy in that no one got any kind of injury beyond a few slivers, or two, cuts, or a big bruise (on yours truly :)). His goodness overwhelms me.

“Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee.”
One of the girls wore a shirt that said “God’s Work, Our Hands.” So true. God worked through the wonderful Christians in Mexico to show me personally His love. They were so friendly and accepting, and my new American friends were so concerned for my (and other’s) health/dietary needs, that I felt God’s love enfold me like a hug, sometimes literally through the people around me. He crossed over language barriers and knit our spirits together with the love of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

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“Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee, fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.”
Again, so many times He works through our hands. The kitchen crew nourished us with food for each breakfast and lunch and then the Mexican ladies took over to prepare us spectacular meals each night. The English speaking people provided us with sweet fellowship and conversation, especially the Mexican Pastor and the hard working grounds keeper. God gave us restoration through sleep each night, fitting us for the next day of hard work.

“Then to thy need, God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.”
This happened with a few of the others on the trip. A young man became ill for a night and morning and God through His grace revealed pride in his heart. A young woman got a few headaches and was given grace to rest, and received many kind words from those who took her place.
He does comfort thee in thy need!

“Praise to the Lord! O, let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!”
My heart is overflowing with praise for my Lord and Creator! Won’t you join me in praising Him?

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“Let the amen sound from His people again; gladly forever adore Him.”
We closed our bus trip on the way home in prayer and praise for a safe, wondrous journey. It was life-changing for many, if not all. May we all, forever, adore Him!

Note: Thank you to all who supported me financially and with prayers. I truly appreciate your part in this trip, and I couldn’t have done it without you. I thank God for you. You had a part in this, and I do not take it for granted. God bless you.

*I didn’t share any names or locations to protect the privacy of any who may desire it.

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Someday I want to be like you…

 This is a collection of letters to my beloved Grandparents. I was pondering their roles in my life this Thanksgiving week, and finally put it to “paper” today. This is my tribute to them, because I am thankful that God blessed me so richly! This is also a “thank you” to God. He is the one who blesses us with all our gifts (James 1:17).


Dear Grandpa Overturf,
Someday I want to be like you. You are a wonderful man. You are caring and understanding, and always keep quiet when it’s unwise to say anything.
You are strong. You can chop wood, even at your age (80 something; no, I don’t keep track), and you carry wood inside in boxes.

      You give Grandma panic attacks with your daring adventures. (Sorry, just had to add that after last year with you going on the roof to clean the chimney!)
You are diligent in everything you do. I’ve watched you work on carpentry projects, stack firewood, read a book, and take a nap – and you do it all well! Nothing goes unfinished, and it is always a nice result.
You are generous. I have three pieces of furniture in my room that are made by you, and one that was redone by you, and they are all beautiful works of art – and I didn’t pay a penny for them. Thank you!
You are skilled. Those same pieces of furniture are crafted with such skill, beauty and quality. They will last longer than me, at least physically!
Best of all, you are my Grandpa! Years ago, you had a daughter, raised her, disciplined her, loved her, and gave her away to a godly young man whom she loved. That daughter did the same kinds of things for me, because you taught her how.

Thank you, Grandpa. I love you!

Dear Grandma Overturf,
Someday I want to be like you. You are amazing to me. Your childhood was so hard, and yet you pulled through in God’s strength and were able to accept Christ’s love and salvation. Your marriage has been long-lasting – over sixty years!
You are the best cook around. You can make the most mouth-watering delicacies to put the most well-known companies to shame, and you do it for everyday meals and desserts! I want to cook like that.
You speak the truth unashamedly. You are bold in your words in a way that I am ashamed to admit I lack sorely. I’m working on it, but it’s hard for me to speak the truth when I know it may hurt others. But sometimes that hurt is necessary to help them, like salt on an open wound that will heal the better for it.
You like to use your good dishes and make a grand presentation of your wonderful meals. I love your sense of style and beauty, and someday I hope to be that way in my own home.
But best of all, you are my Grandma! Years ago, you had a daughter, a blessed surprise of a daughter. You nourished her, taught her to cook like you, made her do hard things, taught her to love working hard, and shed tears as you saw her walk down the aisle on the arm of your husband. That daughter has done most of those things for me (not the part about getting married! :)), all because you made sure she could.

Thank you, Grandma. I love you.

Dear Grandma Blum-Schulte,
Someday I want to be like you. You are a woman of deep love and commitment, and of courageous love unknown to many.
You are one of the best dressed ladies around. You are coordinated, fashionable, and tidy, and I love to look at the jewelry you choose. You are beautiful.
You are generous. I think every gift you given me has been thoughtfully chosen, with your pocketbook opened with not a thought to the hard work you did to put it there.
You are fun to talk to. You always have something interesting to say, and I enjoy hearing the things you do.
You have a great business sense, and I’ve heard a lot about how good you are at bargaining!
But best of all, you are my Grandma! Years ago you had a son whom you cared for, provided for, disciplined, loved, taught, and enjoyed. One day you realized he was in love, and you let him drive long hours with the goal of seeing a young lady at the end of it, so that they could get to know each other. You watched them get married, and you may have shed some tears. Grandma, I’m so grateful that you raised my dad, and that you did all that for him. He’s a great provider, disciplinarian, and daddy because of you and the Lord.

Thank you. I love you!

Dear Grandpa Blum,
I never met you on earth, but I think about you a lot. I don’t know for sure if God does what I ask, but I hope someone tells you every so often that I said hi to you. I started that a long time ago and hope that somehow that’s okay to do.
I miss not knowing you and not seeing your beautiful blue eyes that Mom talks about and wishes one of us kids got. I got to see what they looked like at a reunion last year, as one of the relatives I met inherited them.
Thanks for your part in raising Dad. I’ve heard that you were quiet and strong. I am looking forward to seeing you someday in heaven, after I meet Jesus for a few hundred years, and see if I was ever like you. I hope I am.

I love you, Grandpa.
Love,
Naomi

Wonderful Surprises!

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This week something very exciting happened. But before I can share what it was, I should give some background.

Since October 2014, I have been taking an online art class, learning to draw with teacher Mark Kistler, and have learned a lot about graphite art and how to make things look 3-dimensional instead of flat.

Here's what I used to draw....
Here’s what I used to draw….
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This is what I learned in his December class

I recently discovered that since I am a paying member of his class, I have access to the live video lessons of Acrylic painter Ginger Cook, who is a fantastic artist. You should see the things she paints!

Now, you may not know this, but I have dreamed of painting landscapes and God’s creation for years, and I love to paint flowers, which I learned from a couple of books. (Homeschooling at work!) So when I learned that I had access to this class that uses my favorite media of paint -acrylic- with landscapes and realistic nature being the focus of her talent of teaching, I worked it out with Mom so that I could do the Wednesday morning live class on Mark Kistler’s website. While the rest of the adult ladies in my family were at Bible Study Fellowship, and I was at home doing school, I got to learn how to paint for an hour!

I absolutely loved painting, and learned tons from all the tips and ‘tricks’ she drops in each class session. Here’s an example of what kinds of paintings she teaches.

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I did this in less than an hour.

 

At first I was really bad at all of it, and it looked awful, but I got better, and wanted to get advice about a few things. Now, with it being a live class, if a student has a camera on their computer, like for Skype, they can show their painting “in” class, and get advice. Well, we don’t have a camera. On our computer, anyway….. So I went to the camera we did have, and sent her an email with a picture of this painting I did for a friend of the family who needed some house decor that wasn’t white. 🙂 I wanted her advice, and she kindly gave it, in class!

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I later sent her another email with three other pictures of paintings I had done in her class -including the apple above and penguin below-, and included questions about what I should work on. She kindly answered with encouragement and tips. She really liked my penguin, and even shared it on her Pinterest page.

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Bible Study Fellowship ended and now the computer isn’t as free on Wednesday mornings. But it usually works out okay, with few interruptions, so I keep at it.  In this week’s class on Wednesday, she shocked me with words I never expected in a million years.

She said that I had done a nice job on my paintings, even though I only had one hour to do them in the live classes, and that I had shown determination by sticking with it as long as I had. Then for the shocker:

She gave me a FREE SCHOLARSHIP to her archived video library! I was so surprised! And when I later logged in to the site, I found that I am a member of her video lesson library AND her Wave and Water master class. So not only did she bless me with one class, but she gave me two!

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As I was thinking about her generosity (This is approximately a $150 value) and how grateful I am that I will be able to grow in the talent that God has given me for art, I thought about this verse I have almost memorized and hear often from my Pastor:

 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Of course, this is not referring specifically to my situation, but God showed His heart of love and caring for me personally in this wonderful blessing. This is one of the evidences to me that He cares for His children individually. This is a wonderful evidence to me of His grace in my life. He has given me something I don’t deserve, just because He can, and loves me! Isn’t that amazing?

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I had been wondering about how I was going to continue doing the class on such an inflexible schedule in the summer on a busy farm, and had kind of prayed about it, but I hadn’t really consciously prayed about it more than in passing. But to ask for this?

Nope. Never even crossed my mind.

God is so good!

Do you have something you’ve been wondering about? Worrying over? Praying for? Just think what God can do: if He answers my “wonderings” over an art class, what might He do for you? Just wait patiently for Him and watch what He does ….

for you!

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.” -Psalm 40:1

 

“Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.” -Psalm 37:4-5

 

Side note: As always, it’s great to look up the context of all the verses quoted for further understanding. Read the whole passage to discover the truths of God’s Word for your life!