It was Thanksgiving week, so naturally we did some Thanksgiving activities leading up to the big day. The kids watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” special on YouTube. And they watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving special that cast the Peanuts gang as Pilgrim children and showed the hardships and the history of the Pilgrims. It is very informative, and the kids have enjoyed it the last couple of years. It’s called “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers”.
It used to be on YouTube, but Warner Brothers took it off because of copyright. You can watch it on Amazon Prime for free if you have a Prime membership. You can also see it here on Vimeo.
Last year we watched the movie “Squanto”. It was very good and helped round out the characters, so that we understood him and the Pilgrims a little better than before.
We have been doing a study of Texas history through a unit study I got at Currclick.com called “A Gentle Tour of Texas History”.
This week we read about Cabeza de Vaca (Cow Head!) and his men and how they ended up in Texas and the adventures they had as they tried to get back to their fellow Spaniards in Mexico. I started reading the book, Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker, which is a book I have wanted to read for a long time. I believe it’s on the Sonlight list for American History. Now is the perfect time to read it, since we live in Texas now! And it’s a very good book. It happens to be about Cabeza de Vaca. Wednesday, I read Chapter 2, and Kelsey was busy cleaning the kitchen getting it ready for Thanksgiving. The other young ones were listening, and we were all enjoying the story. But I needed to take Shawn to the bank and other things (more shopping for Thanksgiving), so I closed the book when I finished Chapter 2. Kelsey asked me to keep reading because she still had quite a bit of work to do. I wished that I could keep reading to them, but I had to go. I was really glad that they were enjoying the book so much, though.
With the older kids I have been reading Simple Trust Simple Prayers: Life-Changing Lessons from the Journals of George Mueller by Cindy Mallin.
We have seen so many parallels in our Journey of Fire and the kinds of things that he went through as he waited on the Lord to meet his every need in taking care of the orphans.
There were many times that he did not have what he needed in hand until the very moment that he absolutely had to have it. We just finished reading Rees Howells last week, and he led a very similar life of faith.
Our situation was a little bit different in that we have 10 children of our own, and we lost our house and had to go out on the road and across the country with very little money and no definite destination to have our faith tested and developed. But we followed the same principles laid out by George Mueller and Rees Howells. We never told anybody our need. We just prayed and waited on God. We only did what God told us to do.
He was always faithful to us. We were never hungry. We always had a roof over our heads. We always had suitable clothing. Our needs were always supplied. Sometimes we actually ended up with luxurious accommodations. It was hard to enjoy them, because there was so much uncertainty, and it all seemed kind of surreal. We knew our money supply was running out, and nothing was opening up as far as ministry or a job or any kind of direction at all. We felt like we were treading water – really floundering is more like how it felt.
But God brought us through it, and our faith is stronger and more sure than ever before. What we had before was head knowledge. But now we know that God is real and that He can be depended upon in any situation. We know that we can take Him at His Word. We are to take His Word literally. We can use our faith and speak out the Word of God, and it will bring about the thing that we are asking. Our trust and obedience is the most important thing to God. He delights in us and smiles on us. He made us just so He could love us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. These things we have learned through the Journey of Fire.
As we read about George Mueller’s experiences, and as we read about Rees Howells, we stopped quite a few times and discussed the similar experiences we had. I hope that Kelsey and Morgan paid attention during our discussions. They were so young that they were oblivious to most of the stuff we were going through. It was just a grand adventure for them. Traveling from one hotel to another, swimming in hotel pools, seeing new places, meeting new people. It probably seemed like a fun time to them. But it wasn’t to me and Gary. We knew that our money supply was dwindling. We realized that Arizona was not really the place we wanted to settle and the church we thought we would like to attend would not really suit our family after all. We trusted God, but it was really hard feeling like we were drifting along with no direction or purpose. All of our dreams seemed to be leading to nothing. Nothing was working for us. Patrick and Anna were pretty young, too. They were only 10 and 8 when we left Ohio with a week’s worth of clothes for each of us in our too-small van with over 100,000 miles on it and broken windshield wipers and an expired license tag. With no address and no money it was hard to fix these things. We didn’t even have car insurance. You can’t get that without an address. Our twins were only a year old.
But God was with us everywhere we went. He sent messengers to us. Very odd, downright strange messengers sometimes. He provided money, food, clothing, shelter and even toys and things for the kids. He never used the government to help us. We actually went to Red Cross and United Way and asked if they had some place for us to stay, but they wouldn’t help us. God used His people to take care of us. When we came to the end of our resources we went to a park to pray. On the way, we got a phone call from a stranger who told us to meet him at a certain address. A woman from a church we visited had told him about us. The address was his bank. He gave us a $500 check and went into the bank with us to help us cash it. He gave us the address of his ministry and we went there and got some clothes and jackets since it was getting colder and heading into winter. We had only brought shorts since we thought we would settle in Arizona.
A pastor from Limon, Colorado named Bill Wisener was a lifesaver for us. He gave us spiritual advice and encouragement and prophetic words that helped us to know that God was leading us along even though it felt like we were on our own. He also provided a place for us to stay a few times and some money to help us along our way.
Well, as you can see, reading (re-reading) these books has stirred up some memories of our Journey of Fire, and we have enjoyed reminiscing about the miracles and provision of God throughout our journey. We can see things more clearly in hindsight, and we realize that God was teaching us these principles of faith the hard way. We had no Plan B. We had nothing to fall back on. All we had was God. And He was more than enough.
We did a few more Thanksgiving activities that are traditions we do every year.
Kelsey’s Favorite Thanksgiving Book
Thanksgiving Day at Our House by Nancy White Carlstrom
Kelsey read her favorite parts to Morgan and Garrett and Fiona.
Then came the time for the feast!
After our feast, we had our family prayer time, which we spent mostly praising God for the things He did for us over the last seven years.
A card from Risa Lind mysteriously appeared on our dinner table on this Thanksgiving Day. It was a card Risa had sent to us on Thanksgiving of 2005 when we were stranded in Colorado Springs at the home of Sharon Followill’s family (the Christian hotel clerk from the last hotel we had money for) with no gas in the van and no money to buy any. We had to leave the house, because they were leaving to go visit their families for Thanksgiving. Risa sent us a card with $25 in it.
That was enough to get gas to get us to Limon, Colorado where Bill Wisener put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us just enough money to get us to Kansas City. We had found out through prayer that the Lord wanted us to go back to Kansas City, no matter how much Gary never wanted to see that place again. He knew it would be a place of fire for him. And he was right!
My friend, Shari, called us at the Followill’s house the night before we left and said she wanted to send us some money and asked what address she should send it to. So I gave her the address of a lady named Connie in Kansas City who had let us stay in her house for a month for free on our way out to Arizona. We barely got to her house with the money we had. After a few days, we got the check from Shari for $1500. We were able to rent a house for a month with that money.
If Risa hadn’t sent us that card and $25, I don’t know what would have happened to us. Well, I know God would have used some other way to take care of us, but that is the way He chose to do it. And we still have that card! We have lost so many things through all of these moves from Kansas City to Illinois to Pennsylvania to Texas that it’s a miracle we still have this one little card. And I have no idea how it ended up on our dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Maybe I do know, after all.
Thank you, Lord, for reminding us of what You did for us then.
We didn’t sail on a ship called the Mayflower, but we took a journey that seemed like it might just kill us! Seriously!
But, God, You never change. You’re the same yesterday, today and forever.
God is reminding us that good things are coming. He will rescue us and get us out of a place that we’re stuck in.
God is doing a new thing. He has good plans for us, to give us a hope and a future. Watch and see. It’s coming. I just know it.