July 2007


by Martha Stoltzfus

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Your eyes never opened to behold the glorious splendor of a sunrise, or the marvelous beauty of a sunset.  You never smelled the freshness of Spring, the fragrance of a rose, or the crispness of Autumn.  You never tasted the sweetness of an apple, or the crunchiness of fresh harvested wheat.  You never heard the relaxing night sounds, the hum of a tractor, or the neighing of a horse.  You never felt the pleasure of sand between your toes, the joy of holding a child’s hand, or walking through the rain.  You were never able to experience the joys of family life, the encouragement of friends, the thrills and challenges of travelling to distant lands, or the excitement of telling a soul who’s never heard about the glory of our Savior.  You never had to go through sickness, pain, or grief.  You never had to endure trying or difficult times.  You never heard a sermon preached, or had to study to preach one yourself.  You never laughed and played with me when I was young, teased me when I got older, or confided in me your deepest secrets.  Though you never experienced this life, and its joys, sorrows, challenges, successes, and failures, you are enjoying the richest pleasures of heaven, and the joy of resting in Jesus’ bosom.

When you were born 22 years ago, it was love at first sight.  As I held your tiny hand in mine, I could not understand why you did not grasp my finger, wiggle your little toes, or open your beautiful eyes.  I did not know why Jesus had taken you to be with Him.  I wanted to see you smile, get your first tooth, take your first step, hear you coo and laugh, and run and play with me.  Now, all I could do is hold your cold body, and wonder.  You were so sweet, innocent, and pure.  And God chose you to be with Him eternally.  Some day, my brother, I am coming too, and we will embrace for the first time.  Jesus will wipe away the tears from our eyes.  Then we will go and worship at His feet as we cast our crowns before Him.  We will sing together, share each other’s secrets, and walk hand in hand together on the streets of gold.  Maybe our mansions will even be next to each other.  My precious brother, though are not here on this earth, your spirit lives on, and I will always remember you, and hold you close to my heart.

I love you!
Martha

Contact: Martha@AuntBarbies.com

Sometimes the winding path of your life leads up a mountain, or juts down into a deep, lonely valley. Sometimes it walks a lonely trek. Rain pelts your face, thunder crashes around, and fog clouds the terrain of the path you trod on.

Life is never certain, often lending itself to weariness. Strength evaporates like steam clouds rising on a mountain’s stream. Burdens crushing against the heartbeat, hunger eating away at the soul, thirst craving for the melody of a babbling brook.

You will never know what tomorrow holds. You will never be certain about the future. Fear becomes the handhold of your heart and a stubborn hold of uncertainty clings fiercely to the unanswered questions that pervade your mind about tomorrow.

As your trail etches through the wilderness stopping only in the silence of weariness and the pain of grief, what is there? No strength to go on, no answers for the uncertain path that lies ahead, the once bright flame of hope ebbs away and dissolves into a dying ember.

But the One who is forever the same, who declares to be the Great I Am, who holds the future in the palm of His hand and who sees the path you take waits for the stillness when He may come and visit your heart and touch your soul. He fills the emptiness of hopelessness.

And when you take the reins you held on to for so long and commit them to His keeping, He’ll raise you up. You will stand on mountains, you will walk on stormy seas, you will be strong. Because a heart He abides in is a heart that is forever changed for eternity. He says nothing is impossible with Him.

Not even your unanswered questions, not even your doubts, not even the charred candlewick that once burned brightly with your dreams and hopes. Nothing constrains God. He will make you more than you can be, because He is God. He will not be deterred by your helpless inability to understand the torrents of life.

In His sovereignty, He feels your pain. In His strength, He encompasses your weakness. In His fullness, He fills your emptiness. In His love, He raises you up.

And in that moment of complete trust and sheer wonder, you just might glimpse the pinnacle of eternity.

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I have held many things in my hands and have lost them;
but whatever I have left in God’s hands, that I still possess.
–Martin Luther

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In memory of Nathan Steven Taylor
stillborn Wednesday, July 25, 2007.

[Please pray for the Taylor family during this difficult time.]

My dear sister thinks I’m a little touched in the head. 

I love the pretty- the sweet- the soft- the delicate- the extra feminine. 

I’m all girl, no exceptions. 

I often have wished that I lived sometime between 1750 and 1850, when ladies were strictly ladies and gentleman were nothing less than gentleman; when being a lady actually meant something, and life’s little romances were sacred and special–nothing light and frivolous.

 I’ve never desired to be anything other than “girl,” and I’ve never felt discontent with my lot in life.  In fact, I love it! And I’m more than pleased to be who God made me to be.

 My sister, on the other hand, well, is quite different than me.

 Although she is more than happy to be who God made her to be, as well, she is a staunch admirer of the women’s’ suffrage movement,  and many of those who stood behind it. Life void of useless frills would be glorious. 

She can think and act and live [for] herself just fine, without help from, (ahem!) the opposite gender.

 As a matter of fact, we had an argument the other night about whether or not 1Peter 3:4 was solely for married women, in which I assure you, she did most of the talking [smiles]. 

I argue that such principles are always a benefit, whether or not you are a wife (which is not part of her agenda, I might add).

Well, as much as it may appear that the both of us must clash, I am happy to say that for the most part, we do not. Even though I doubt there are two sisters more different from one another, I think we balance each other out well. 

 In order to give a good comparison of the two of us, I’d like to compare her and I to either Meg and Jo March in Louisa May Alcott’s book “Little Women”or Jane and Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice”Me being Meg or Jane, and Rebecca being Jo or Elizabeth. Yes, Rebecca is one of those young ladies… 

(sigh) I generally don’t understand her! 

But then again, what would I do without her???

To lose her would be to lose my best friend and sister.  

I’ll never forget the evening before I left the boonies of southern Mexico, when I called my family say “hello” and “looking forward to seeing you soon…”  

I got my sister on the phone, and she says, “I bought you a gift that you’ll just love! It’s red…” And that’s all she would say.  

Ok… it’s red… hmmm, I really don’t like the color red, what on earth could it be?!

“You’ll have to wait until you get home to know what it is!”

My flights were so delayed on the way home, that I didn’t arrive at my house until quite late… I no sooner walked through the door, when I saw Rebecca’s cheery face, and heard her voice say “Welcome Home!”  while a dozen red roses were thrust into my hands!  

Yes, we may be quite different, but we really do love each other, and I wouldn’t trade my sister for the world!

Who would there be to “stick up” for me, when I might be in “trouble”?!  With Rebecca, I feel like I always have my own  personal attorney…

There’s so much I could say, but words just aren’t enough.  The English language hasn’t produced words sufficient enough…!

(smiles)

I love you, Rebecca

Thank you for your friendship, and for being my sister.  Thank you for being who you are, and for accepting me for who I am…

Thanks for your bold witness for Jesus, and for your zeal for the Kingdom of God! Stay devoted to Christ!!!

~::~ Rachel Marie ~::~

Submitted by Hannah Otterson,
dedicated to her sisters 

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Ah, how good and perfect you have been to me, you—my own beloved sisters—
heart and eyes overflow when I think of you!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The bond between sisters is unique, stretching and bending through periods of closeness and distance, but almost never breaking… Sisters are girlfriends, rivals, listening posts, shopping buddies, confidantes, and so much more.

Carol Saline

There can be no situation in life in which the conversation of my dear sister will not administer some comfort to me.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

I’m so glad that I have a sister to comfort in the bad times. Your love is like a warm blanket to my soul.

Lori Shankle

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Sisters and friends are God’s life preservers.
Unknown

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A ministering angel shall my sister be.
Shakespeare

God made us sisters,
Our hearts make us friends.
Love keeps us bonded
Thru thick and thin.
Though our paths may lead
Down separate roads,
God gave us each other
To help with the load.
God had a great plan,
As He always does.
Growing together
Was the best for us.
I can’t imagine
My life without you
Sisters are for keeps
And forever true.

Joyce C. Lock

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by Katie Marie

Sisters. No relationship like it. Relative by genetics, but bonded by a special love. There are different flavors to each sister relationship depending on age difference, different personalities, different appearances, different likes and dislikes but that just makes it all the more tasty!

My only sister, Jenny is 7 years older than I. She was my second mama from the day I was born. She was present at my birth and was the first to clothe me. I treasure the picture we have in our family album of that moment. She was looking down at me with big sister care, her expression showing she was very serious about her new responsibility. Her baby sister.

I sit here thinking of all the fun times and all the things we did together and am at a loss of how to sum it up. Oh the stories I could tell! I don’t consider myself an overly talented writer but I’ll just put down a few of my favorite snippets of our sisterly times and dedicate it to her!

We shared a room for over ten years  and I have so many fond memories of us whispering sisterly whispers before falling asleep many a night. Our one continuing dispute was that she liked to stay up late and sleep late and I liked to sleep early and rise early! I liked to clean our room in the morning and she liked to clean at night…  maybe that was why our room was so disorganized!  But then again, we did have a clean room at least once a year! We’d get into our Christmas decorating mode and would massively clean and decorate with great enthusiasm! We had a very festive room that time of year!

 One winter after we moved out into the country and were remodeling our house, Jenny and I camped out up in the attic. We had our beds and everything up there. Fall was perfect for sleeping up there but when winter came we kicked into survival mode! There was no insulation up there and we’d wake up to look at the ceiling to find that there was intriguing frost patterns all above us. We had tons of blankets and would sleep with stocking hats on!

We had a wood-stove downstairs and we’d heat up rocks to take to bed with us, we’d grab our hot rocks and dash up the stairs slide them in our sheets and then leap into bed before we lost the nerve to slide in between those ice cold sheets! Once we got in it was quite cozy. Mom would bundle up and come and pray with us and “tuck us in”. In the morning we’d  lay there so nice and warm and work up the courage to get out into the frigid air surrounding us. Upon gathering sufficient courage we’d jump out of bed, grab our clothes and scurry downstairs and dress by the stove! We had a blast! We still enjoy reminiscing about those days! We were the healthiest we had ever been that winter. Must have been all that fresh air.

Then there was the time she let me drive her car for the very first time. Not just the first time to drive her car but for me to drive a vehicle in general! She trusted me and got a kick out of teaching me and enjoyed my ear to ear grin.

We had goofy minutes together and we could pick on each other without either being offended.

She taught me how to do a cartwheel. She taught me how to braid hair. All those little things she took time to teach me. She even taught me how to write my name at age two! She didn’t heed Mom’s doubts and proceeded to persevere!

As we both got older we began to even out. It was no longer a little sister-big sister relationship, just sisters. She got married 7 years ago and now has two little boys but we are just as close now if not closer than when she was still at home!

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We call each other and when one picks up the line we always use is ” Hi! Is this my favorite sister?” to which we reply “Why yes! Is this my favorite sister?” It never gets old and always produces a laugh because no matter what she will be my favorite sister and vice versa not just because we are the only ones we have!

She has always looked out for me and always will. I’ll always be her “Buttmunch!” (that was her endearing pet name for me, I have no idea where it came from but it was special!)

I thank God that he blessed me with my dear sister Jenny!

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by Levi Otterson 

I have 4 wonderful sisters. 

Courtney is the oldest and she is very fun to have around. Unfortunately, she got married and moved away.

Next is Brittney, and she is laid back but she can get out of hand some times.

Then there is Hannah and I think her favorite thing to do is to pick on me.

Last but not least is Tabby and she can be very irritating some times. 

But my sisters are all special to me.

(11 year-old Levi with half of his sisters)

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