Out Of The Sorrow

   I have had so many people ask, how does a Christian’s faith stay so strong in the face of loss?

  Right away, I had to think of our friends, whose precious 20-year-old daughter, died in a car wreck recently.  They KNOW they will see her again, with joy and confidence!  With tears in their eyes, and smiles on their faces, they will tell you so with complete certainty.

  They are pictured below on the right.  We so appreciate them coming to not only the funeral, but the grave service of the memorial service of Papa. It was so hard, and so fresh for them, just a month out.
Ally’s gravestone is right next to our Papa’s…..I find that comforting somehow, even though I know those bodies are empty shells.  They are HOME already!

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   So the service is over, we cleaned out his house this weekend, we have a stack of bills and paperwork to sort through, and life is marching on.

 But it’s just not the same, because there are 3 sons and a daughter, 6 grandkids, and a daughter in law, who miss their Grandpa, Papa and Dad…..

Every. Moment. Of. Every. Day.

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How does life go on?

  Let me let you in on the secret……

It’s Jesus.

Plain and simple.

  It’s hard to fathom for those who don’t know Him personally.  It’s super natural, it’s not of this Earth, our minds can’t handle it.  We can’t wrap our minds around an Eternity in Paradise, in a place with no sorrow and no pain, FOREVER with those we love.
Only ONE way to Heaven, and the ticket is Jesus Christ and what He did on that cross. The Bible says in that it is NOT by works, lest any man should boast.  

  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, lest any man should boast.”

Wow.  What a gift!

  The Father always uses our darkest times in our lives, to make Himself known in the most powerful, undeniable ways.  Papa’s last days on Earth were no exception.

I am reminded of the Hymn we sang yesterday at his church; the church Dale and his siblings grew up in…..

 It Is Well  

Have you heard the story behind this heart grabbing hymn?

  A man name Horatio, a wealthy lawyer with a thriving practice, beautiful family; wife, 4 daughters and a son…devout Christian, successful businessmen.  At the height of their success, they lost their young son, then the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of the family real estate investments.

  Shortly after, this weary family decided to vacation in Europe to take some time to recover from these losses.  Due to a business delay, Horatio sent his wife and 4 daughters on without him, promising to join them in just a few days.

  Several days later he received notice that his family’s ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.  With a heavy heart, he boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on those very seas, close to the accident site, he penned the words to this famous hymn.  It is well in my soul….

Please take a moment to watch?

  Dale’s oldest brother, Kevin, told us he would be going to Papa’s church on Sunday to say something to them from the stage.

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  We didn’t ask questions, just quickly made arrangements to be there and support him.

Here is what he had to say from the pulpit of that church:

“In the final weeks of my father’s life, I felt the Hand of God through the overwhelming flood of love, and support pouring out from my family, and this wonderful group of believers.

  It made me realize I was trying to struggle through this life on Earth alone.  I have spent the last 20 years withdrawing from God, family and from friends.

  When I pulled my Bible out last week, it had a pretty heavy layer of dust on it.  I wiped it off and immediately turned to the 23rd Psalm. {Papa’s favorite}
The Lord IS my Shepherd…..  
And now I am open to his guidance.

  I am up here today, to give thanks.  I want to thank you for the love, support and delicious meals you provided my Dad, and my family.

  I want to thank Frieda for the warm invitation to return to this family.  And John Yoder for the same, his exact words were, “Don’t be a stranger.”

  I would like to thank Dale and Tonya for being there for Dad every step of the way, in his fight with cancer.  And for giving me my Bible that will not collect dust again.

  Finally, I would like to thank my dad, for leading by example my entire life.  And at the end of his, showing me what was missing from mine.
  
  Now, I want to cherish every moment I have with the loving family I was blessed to be given.  And I want to have a personal relationship with Jesus, starting with returning to this incredible House of God, that still feels like home.”

  What an honor to sit there and watch this transformed man on stage.  To hear the amen and applause from the church body, as he stood up before a crowd of witnesses, and gave a profession of faith.

  That, my friends, is the power of Jesus Christ, working through a church that is dedicated to being the hands and feet of Jesus.  The lost lamb has returned to the flock, praise Jesus!  There is great rejoicing in Heaven!!!!!

 I know Papa is so, so proud of Kevin, and so pleased that in the face of his death, new life in Christ was born.

And in the words of the famous hymn:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Out of the sorrow, is birthed new life, new hope, new surrender.

And all else set aside……

  It is well, it is well with my soul.

Thank you, Father, for never leaving or forsaking us!

~T

 

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The Death of Jesus

 

At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.jesus

  At the time crucifixion was the “worst” death.

Only the most dreadful criminals were condemned to be crucified.

The nails are thought to have been driven into His wrist, not into His palms as is commonly portrayed.

Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.  Can you imagine?

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There’s a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.

The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist, that tendon would tear and break, later forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breathe.

Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross.

Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breathe.

Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.  Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.

Yes, over 3 hours!

Can you imagine this kind of suffering?

A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding.

He was simply pouring water from His wounds.

The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood.

He had no more blood to bleed.

But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten.

The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body.

The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face to the point of being un-recognizable.

crucifixtionThe crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp.

Most men would not have survived this torture.

All this plus carrying His own cross for nearly a mile, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones.

  The cross was almost 66 pounds, only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed.

Jesus had to endure this experience, so that you can have free access to God.

So that your sins could be washed away.

All of them, with no exception!

Don’t ignore the reason we celebrate Easter.

easterIt’s not about a silly bunny who delivers chicken eggs.

It’s not about new clothes and Easter baskets.

It’s about the fact that JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOU!

  And would’ve given His precious life even if you were the ONLY person on Earth.  Because He loves you that much!

The truth is that Jesus is the only salvation for the world.

What held Jesus to the cross was not three nails… It was His love for you and me that held Him there to endure to the end.

Acts-2-21-Photo-Bible-Verse

May today we be still.

  May we be in silent meditation, awe and wonder at the ultimate sacrifice;  God’s only Son, the perfect lamb, given as atonement for our sins.  Sins so filthy and so ugly draped across Jesus, that the Father Himself had to turn His face away from His Son.

Or was it because He couldn’t bear to see the agony of it all, lest He send angels to swoop down and save His Son from this slow and painful death?

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending: 

The grave couldn’t hold Jesus for long.  Hallelujah!

On Resurrection Sunday, may you celebrate our risen Lord!!!!!!

He died for you. He would’ve given His life if you were the only person on this Earth.

The reason is….YOU!
Amazing grace, amazing love…….please watch this, it will rock your world today.

Happy Easter to you and yours, I am taking the rest of the week off to enjoy Easter break with my family! 

~T

Here are some favorite Easter Recipes from years past:

Green Bean Haystacks
Sugar Bunny Pops
Lemon Blueberry Trifle
Resurrection Cookies
Coconut Cream Pie Bars

 

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

{Re-posted every year from the 4 little Ferguson’s Christmas archives}

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and with it can come a sense of panic, a need to rush into town, push through the crowd towards near empty shelves, and snag those last few items on your Christmas shopping list. Standing in long lines, being told “Happy Holidays” by the greeter as you leave, rushing around to prepare for office parties & family get-togethers, addressing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and on the busy-ness goes……

Somewhere along the way, the peaceful, quiet days of Christmas past were lost. Somewhere along the way, Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, stole the limelight from baby Jesus, and the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, replaced the leisurely gift shopping of days gone by. Instead, it seems, we celebrate materialism, indulgence and the idea that we need more, more, more.

As a kid growing up, I recall knowing who Santa was, I think he even signed a couple of our packages under the tree a time or two, but I can’t EVER recall a time, that I didn’t know it was really my parents.

I have great memories of Christmas growing up, but you’d be surprised at the ones that stand out most.

I remember the year dad went back to college, and we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, so we decorated the artificial fica tree that stood in our living room, instead. Tiny red apples, red velvet bows and empty mini raisin boxes hung from its branches….To my little girl eyes, it was beautiful!!!!!

There were very few presents under the tree that year, but I don’t remember thinking much of it. Mom kept us busy with special baking and craft projects, and dad kept us in hysterics on Christmas morning, sticking his new electric drill up his nose, stating it could also double as a nose hair trimmer.

As we got older and became teenagers, our finances changed, and my parents got more and more creative in their gift giving…..

One year we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas instead of getting gifts. Another time, Hawaii. One year, we got cash to spend after Christmas at the big sales, teaching us the value of the dollar, and that it could be stretched much further by waiting for a sale day after Christmas to shop. Another year, after my dad sold his trucking business, and things were incredibly tight, we did intangible gifts. We wrote letters of appreciation to each member of the family, and that Christmas morning was not spent under a pile of wrapping paper and boxes, but quietly seated around the fireplace, reading those letters of love & affirmation to each other.

But, the Christmas that stands out the most in my mind, was not the tropical vacations, not the new boom box or new car…..

No, it was the year we adopted a family in need, through a local church. We were given an address to deliver our goodies to them, in person.  So we all loaded up, driving further and further into the oldest part of town, until we arrived in front of a very humble home. Arms loaded with boxes of goodies, we walked to the front door. Once we were done with our “good deed” for the day, we could go back home and have our own Christmas.

We knocked on the door, and were welcomed in broken English. Stepping inside, the first thing I noticed was the home was sparse in furniture. Mattresses serving as beds lay on the floor, and open cupboard doors revealed they were indeed, bare. My heart softened. My “good deed” for the day, suddenly turned into so much more.

Oh, the joy on their faces as we unloaded box after box of groceries, clothing, toys and necessities. I recall tears streaming down the mothers face, as she thanked us over and over in broken English. The father reached out his work-weary hands, silently grasping ours, tears in his eyes telling us how humbled and thankful he was for this, though no words were spoken. Their children ran circles around the old sofa, the language barrier not stopping our interpretation of their squeals of excitement and joy!

Tears filled my eyes, as I looked at the space around me….thinking of the home full of stuff we had left just 10 minutes ago, the gifts waiting under the tree, the food filling 2 fridges. This families Christmas blessing, was my every day life!

I didn’t know a day without food.
I didn’t go to school without a coat, because we didn’t have the money for one.
I never walked to a cupboard to find it bare. We had so much, and they had so little.

Why did I even need the few gifts waiting for me, under the tree at home?

It was then I knew what God was showing me…….

THIS is what Christmas is about.

Giving to others in need, showing them the love of Christ, not receiving! Why, when I had such an abundance, did I need anything? I became more convinced than ever that Christmas was going to be forever different at our house!

Fast forward 15 years, I now have 4 little ones of my own, and the huge responsibility of establishing my families traditions….

From the very beginning Christmas morning has been Jesus’ birthday, nothing else. We feel Santa “waters down” what we are trying to do with Christmas. Our goal is to keep it about Christ, and His birth, and in striving towards this goal, of keeping Christ in Christmas, we chose to exclude Santa from any of our celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong, the kids know who Santa is, and that he is part of the general season of year. In fact, the older two, were playing reindeer and Santa one night!

Playing Santa

That doesn’t bother me a bit.

Neither does letting them watch the evening Christmas specials on tv, about Rudolph or Frosty. What a special treat! But there is one rule and requirement of evening TV watching……

Commercials MUST be muted.

I can’t stand how they try to grab my kids attention and stir up the “Greedy Gimmies” with the ads for the “coolest toy ever“!

But, when it actually comes to Christmas day, does Santa have a part?

Nope, not around here. We want Christmas Day to be sacred. It’s special. It’s a quiet, calm. A peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. It’s not wrapping paper piled knee-high on the floor. It’s not toy fire engine sirens, crying baby dolls and whirring helicopter toys, drowning out all other sounds of worship of our Lord and King, the whole reason we celebrate in the first place.

On Christmas morning, you won’t hear shouts of ”Santa came!” Instead, shouts of, “It’s Jesus birthday!” are heard. {Followed by arguments about who gets to blow out Jesus’ birthday candle after we sing Happy Birthday to Him!} 🙂

After reading the Christmas story, we give each child 3 gifts, representing the 3 gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men. Buying only 3 gifts for each child, keeps Dale and I in check, as we are doing our Christmas shopping, and allows the focus to remain on Christ, not the need for more, more, more.

Later, as our children get older, we will deepen the significance of these gifts, by assigning a meaning to each one:

Frankincense: A gift for spiritual growth. (A new devotion book, Bible or Christian CD.)
Myrrh: A practical gift. (A new pair of jeans, a coat, a laptop for school, a car emergency kit.)
Gold: A gift that fulfills a want. (An ipad, shopping certificate, jewelry, bike, MP3 player etc.)

We celebrate Christmas based on God GIVING us His one and only son, who later GIVES His life as a living sacrifice for us! We want giving and not receiving to be the focus of Christmas. This is why we choose to adopt a family in need, or participate in filling individual shoe boxes, when our church adopts a local school.

What fun it is to stroll through the store, with each of my children clutching a paper in their sweet little hands, with a name.  A name of a special boy or girl, about their age, who we can be a blessing to.

I love to see their faces as they figure out that no, these new toys aren’t for them to keep, they have enough toys at home. These gifts are for a little boy or girl, who might otherwise have nothing new at Christmas!  Granted, sometimes its hard to pack that giant bouncy ball, or sparkly nail polish in the box, for the other child. But, it doesn’t take long for them to grasp, at their level of understanding, the kindness and love they are showing to another child. To understand that Christmas is about giving to others, not asking, begging and pleading for the latest and greatest new toys.

It is my hearts desire for our Christmases to be SO focused on Jesus Christ, from my children’s first memory of Christmas on, that they don’t know it ANY other way!


Keeping Christ in Christmas goes much farther than a “Merry Christmas” greeting to a cashier, only allowed to say “Happy Holidays”. No, it comes from you, Momma, as you set the tone of your home for each and every holiday tradition to come!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

It’s all about finding a happy balance in YOUR home, for YOUR family.  This is what works for us!

~T

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Mercy Ink Heart & Home

The Death of Jesus

  In honor of Good Friday, I am choosing not to participate in Weekend Potluck this week. Thank you for understanding! I’ll be back next week….

The Death of Jesus

At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.

crossgod112

At the time crucifixion was the “worst” death.

Only the most dreadful criminals were condemned to be crucified.

The nails are thought to have been driven into His wrist, not into His palms as is commonly portrayed.

Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long. Can you imagine?

imagesCA8U69W2

There’s a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.

The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist, that tendon would tear and break, later forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breathe.

Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross.

Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breathe.

Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage. Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.

Yes, over 3 hours!

Can you imagine this kind of suffering?

A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding.

He was simply pouring water from His wounds.

The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood.

He had no more blood to bleed.

But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten.

The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body.

The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face to the point of being un-recognizable.

The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp.

pp-crown2

Most men would not have survived this torture.

All this plus carrying His own cross for nearly a mile, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones.

The cross was almost 66 pounds, only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed.

Jesus had to endure this experience, so that you can have free access to God.

So that your sins could be washed away.

All of them, with no exception!

Don’t ignore the reason we celebrate Easter.

bunnyIt’s not about a silly bunny who delivers chicken eggs.

It’s not about new clothes and Easter baskets.

It’s about the fact that JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOU!

And would’ve given His precious life even if you were the ONLY person on Earth. Because He loves you that much!

The truth is that Jesus is the only salvation for the world.

What held Jesus to the cross was not three nails… It was His love for you and me that held Him there to endure to the end.

Acts-2-21-Photo-Bible-Verse

May today, we be still as we think about why we celebrate Good Friday. May we think of the disciples and Jesus followers, who must have been devestated today, as they wondered, what happened to their Saviour and how could he save them if he was dead?!

May we be in silent meditation, awe and wonder at the ultimate sacrifice.  God’s only Son, the perfect lamb, given as atonement for our sins. Sins so filthy and so ugly draped across Jesus, that the Father Himself had to turn His face away from His Son.

Or was it because He couldn’t bear to see the agony of it all, lest He send angels to swoop down and save His Son from this slow and painful death?

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending:

The grave couldn’t hold Jesus for long.

Hallelujah!

This Resurrection Sunday, as you awake, may you celebrate our risen Lord!!!!!! He is alive and He wants a relationship with you!  He offers a beautiful and free gift……

Total freedom from sin. 

Redemption. 

A life eternally in Paradise…..

It is a free gift, all you have to do is ask.

Wow.  Oh how wonderful, Oh how marvelous is my Saviour’s love for me!

Have a Happy Easter!

~Dale, Tonya & 4 little Fergusons