One Hard and One Broken Heart

We are blessed by the conferences so far. We drove from Wilkes-Barre, PA, to Oneonta, NY, last night. God blessed the drive, but we were very tired when we arrived. These next two days will be the first opportunity to rest and catch up during the day because we don’t have to drive.

On the way here, we stopped for fuel, and I had a chance to speak with the 21-year-old young man who was the station attendant. I asked him if he knew where he was going to spend eternity, and he told me "hell." I asked him if that concerned him, and he said, "no."

I told him he couldn’t be serious because no one can tolerate that kind of pain. He said he could because pain is something you get used to.

I looked around for one of the lighters that they always sell at check-out counters and said, "That isn’t true. A person could not hold his finger over the lighter flame because of the pain, and that is nothing compared to the pain of hell."

In defiance, he grabbed a lighter, lit it, and put his finger over the flame for a second or maybe two. I admit I was a bit horrified inside as I watched this demonstration of such hardness. He then put the lighter back in its place and said, "See, I told you."

I pleaded with him, "Come on. Be honest. It hurt so badly that you had to quit." To my amazement, he insisted, "It didn’t hurt, but I didn’t want to make a mess on the counter." As he told me this, I noticed how he was pressing the side of his finger against the top of the counter with great pressure in an attempt to stop the pain.

I asked if he had ever read the Bible, and he said he had read it completely. It was time to go, and I asked would he be willing to pray and tell God that if God would reveal Himself to him, He would believe.

He told me he had done that, too, some time ago. He then demonstrated what he had done previously. He turned his face up toward the ceiling and in an angry, hateful voice shouted at God in a vile, cursing way. I shuddered to hear anyone "talk" that way to my God, the Savior of my soul, Who is the most Precious in all the world. To my amazement, he then confessed that within a minute or so of his response to God, the plaster on his ceiling fell in on him.

With a sad heart and pity, I concluded with, "But don’t you see the hardness of your heart and how God did reveal Himself to you? Don’t you have any fear of God?" After he said, "No way!" it was time to go and leave him to his end.

If God should prompt you, please pray for this young man that as his finger continues to hurt, he will think about hell and eternity. We would also be grateful for you prayers as we continue to speak to hearts.

One dad came up after the conference in Pittsburg and asked for suggestions on how to tell a seven-year-old son, who loved TV, that as of that night it was gone from their home. I shared when I had difficult things to share with my children I would repent before them and tell them how wrong I had been and asked them if they would forgive me. I also inquired about personal and family devotions. He then shared with a humble spirit, that from that night on, they would never have a problem having family devotions. Whewwww. That brother did so much to bless and encourage me that night.

These trips can be exhausting, but just one dad, with that kind of courage, fills and strengthens me. I praise God. Please pray for families to forsake the world and seek Jesus with their hearts and time.


The First Day

This morning came quickly (a little too quickly for several of us who stayed up late finishing trip preparations), and we were all excited about our trip. Grandad, Grandma, Nathan, and Melanie came over to say good-bye, and Grandad prayed a special prayer of blessing and protection for us as we travel. Grandad’s prayer is a highlight to the beginning of our trips. (Notice our sweet Golden in the middle? She’s always sad when we leave, but Nathan and Melanie take good care of her!)

praying as a family

After praying and saying good-bye, we headed out for our month-long trip. Dad could tell our trailer was feeling different than our other trips, so he phoned the place where we bought the trailer. Dad shared in a blog post last week about how right before we leave on a trip, the pressures and trials come. This trip was no exception. Dad had discovered an issue with the trailer last week, so he’d taken it in to be worked on. When the repairs were finished, everything appeared fine. (Dad after he had pulled the van into the trailer garage in preparation for the work we thought would need to be done. But, as it all worked out, we didn’t need it!)

Dad - at the repair shop (still smiling!)

As we hit the interstate and were up-to-speed, the trailer began swaying. Praise the Lord for His protection, and Dad kept control of the van and trailer. We drove to the nearby trailer place, and Dad, Joseph, and John worked at reloading the trailer. We knew that improper loading could cause it to sway, and that’s why we had bought a scale to verify the tongue weight. However, we had weighed it incorrectly. Instead of the 700 pounds of tongue weight we thought we had, we only had 200! So, after the guys had re-proportioned the weight to the correct amount, we were set. Dad praised the Lord over such an incredible answer to prayer.

We plan to drive to Dayton, Ohio tonight. Then, tomorrow, we’re on to our first conference stop, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We hope to meet many of you this trip!

Only for Jesus,

I’m glad I don’t have the job of packing the inside of the trailer. Dad is the expert packer!

Inside of the trailer

Dad and the boys had packed all the heavy books and other books last night. This morning they loaded all our personal bags and other things.

The trailer

Set Free! (the squirrel)

Little Chippy (the orphaned squirrel we’ve been raising the past few weeks) was finally released on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. It was quite the event. All of us were in the backyard, along with Grandma and Grandad, to see what would happen.

We had been working to transition Chippy to his new home. It started by buying a little rubbermaid shoebox and drilling a hole in the end of it. We then filled it with wood chips and put it inside his larger cage. The idea was to create a safe home that would be inside his cage and would keep him dry and protected from cats once we had moved his cage into the tree. It took him a day to adapt to his new “shoebox” house – but he did great.

Next, we moved his cage (with the shoebox in it) out onto our back porch so he could enjoy the sunshine and get used to being outside.

The final step was to put the cage (and shoebox) up into a tree. This was a big step for him because we actually installed the cage upside-down in the tree (the cage has a wire mesh top and a plastic bottom). We wanted the plastic part at top so he would have even more rain protection. We took all the wood shavings out and put newspaper down so his feet wouldn’t get caught in the wire mesh. Jesse helped with drilling some boards to install as a base for the cage, and Grandad helped Joseph attach the cage to the tree and the boards:
Jesse drilling some boards.Installing the cage (house) in the tree.

Chippy seemed to quickly adapt to his new surroundings.

Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. was the time for the “opening of the cage”. Joseph and Anna opened the cage:
opening the cage door

It did not take long for Chippy to come out of the cage and begin to enjoy his freedom! What a blessing it was for us to watch as he began exploring up and down the tree – venturing out on each limb. We rejoiced in his freedom, in much the same way the Lord must rejoice when we are willing to surrender our sin and live in wonderful obedience (freedom) to Christ!

Chippy's new-found freedom

Very soon, we found ourselves staring up into the tree to see where Chippy was at (yes, this does put a bit of strain on the neck):
Watching Chippy...

It has now been several days that he has been enjoying his freedom. We haven’t seen him leave the tree yet, but know that he will be exploring more and more as time goes by.

At the door to his cage (the wooden slats across the opening to the cage which are visible in the background were designed by Joseph to keep cats out of the cage and also hold the door open):
Sitting at the door of his cage.

Enjoying a snack on his “front step”:
Eating a snack...

For some reason, he enjoys hanging upside-down in his cage to drink his water!
Drinking water...

We’ve enjoyed watching Chippy in the tree – and wonder if he will be around when we return from our upcoming trip in early October (today is a big packing day!). While we’re gone Grandma and Grandad will be filling up his water and leaving food for him (he – as any good squirrel should – enjoys nuts).

We’ve been amazed as we have watched Chippy naturally "be" a squirrel – following the instincts which God has given him. While we will miss interacting with and caring for him, we’ll definitely notice and appreciate the little squirrels that are around us much more!

In Christ,

Coming down the tree.