Friday, September 21, 2018

There's No Place Like Home

From the Archives: This was originally published here on Candyceland 9 years ago today. 😀

I was recently asked to share the story of how Steve and I came to plant the church in Exeter. It actually all started with two Mary Engelbreit tins...

We initially moved to New Hampshire in 1989 to be a part of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashua. We loved this state, and traveled around quite a bit on various field trips. We came out to the Seacoast area often, and one time stopped in Exeter. We wandered around its quaint downtown area. I fell in love with one shop in particular - I think it was called Lilacs and Lace. It was a specialty shop that was very "girlish" and sold Mary Engelbreit products. I purchased the two tins pictured here. The day we visited, the owner was hosting a "tea party" for a mom and her girls on a raised platform in the back of the store. When we came back outside, and were gazing at the lovely gazebo in the middle of the street, I asked Steve: "Wouldn't it be great to someday live in a town like this?"

Years later, Steve finished seminary. We started to pray about where God would have us serve Him. We investigated several options, including planting churches in Salem, NH, and Hanover, NH (home of Dartmouth College). There was also an opening at Magee Presbyterian Church in Magee, Mississippi! I am NOT making this up! But we decided ultimately that since we loved New Hampshire, and there were only a few PCA churches in the state, the wisest course would be to stay and start another one. But where, specifically?

Then I remembered the lovely town of Exeter that we had visited years earlier. Being the county seat at the time, it was a great location geographically for a new church. We moved here in 1994 to begin Exeter Presbyterian Church. Soon thereafter I headed downtown to find Lilacs and Lace, but alas, it was gone. I was so disappointed. I wanted to have tea parties there with my daughters and buy more Mary Engelbreit stuff. *sniff sniff*

Fast forward 4 or 5 years. We were having a wonderful dinner with some dear saints who had recently become members of Exeter Presbyterian. They asked how we decided to plant the church in Exeter. I told the same story as I've just recorded here - about the great store with the tins and the tea party. Leila and Ted were amazed. The store had been owned by Leila! It was only in operation for a year or so, and they never really understood why God called them to start this store and then have them close it down so soon after. Leila cried, and said that "...if the only reason for the store was to lure you here to Exeter to start the church, then that is good enough for me!"

So there you have proof that "...God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." A month from today we will celebrate being in Exeter for fifteen years (now 24 years)! Through a lovely store and two small tins, God somehow directed us to the place where we were apparently meant to be!

Friday, September 14, 2018

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

A Devotional Based on "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" by Lindsay I. Terry

Scripture: Romans 8:26-39

Nay, in all these these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

The story behind this hymn is remarkably similar to that behind the hymn, "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus." Both were born out of dark sorrow. Dr. George Matheson was another of the great preachers produced by Scotland. He was born there in 1842. While still in his teens, he entered the University of Glasgow. He was stricken with total blindness shortly after his entrance into school. But not even the loss of eyesight could stop George Matheson. Before his death, Mr. Matheson recorded his own account of the writing of his masterpiece hymn. The hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of June 6, 1882. He was alone and it was the day of his sister's marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Some event, known only to him, caused him the most severe mental suffering. It has been suggested that he was in love with a young lady and was jilted. This may have been the reason for his extreme distress. The hymn was a fruit of that suffering. He reported that the hymn was the quickest bit of work he ever did in his life. It seemed to be dictated to him by some inward voice. The whole work was completed in five minutes and it never received any retouching or correction:
                                          O love that wilt not let me go,
                                          I rest my weary soul in Thee,
                                          I give Thee back the life I owe,
                                          That in Thine ocean depths its flow
                                          May richer, fuller be.

Terry's thoughts: It is only the tremendous love that God has for us that causes Him to draw a curtain over our future so that we cannot see what lies ahead. Therefore, we must cling to Him for daily strength and daily guidance. Truly this makes our lives richer and fuller.

Candy's thoughts:  If only I could remember this as trials pile up and my feelings go down!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Some Mother's Child

Since first becoming a mother some 36 years ago, I have viewed tragic or pitiful stories differently than before then. When I've seen news of someone causing or being a victim of a horrific crime, I've thought about the parents of both the perpetrator and the victim. If I read an account of girls being freed from the sex trade in India or anywhere in the world, I think of the joy a parent should feel in seeing their loved one rescued. Obituaries always make me wonder if there's a parent mourning the loss of their child, whether it's a young or adult one. For me it's always about the mother and father behind the person who is affected by a terrible event.

Which is why the link I'm sharing with you today struck me so hard when I read it recently. It is written by Bob Bjerkaas, a friend of ours who once labored as a pastor in Vermont and is now ministering in California. (The picture I posted is Bob with Joni Earekson Tada who is one of his parishioners.) As I read Bob's blogpost I wondered if this is the way God thinks of us as He sees us floundering/sinning/hurting/being hurt by others. I think it pains Him as much (or more?) than it pains us as earthly parents when we see our own kids struggling. I'd be interested in hearing perspectives and thoughts from all of you after you read this beautiful story and poem.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

CandyceLand is in VacationLand

Hello friends,

Most of you may know this already, but Steve and I and all the kids are on vacation, so no posts will be forthcoming. I hope everyone is doing well and I look forward to being back and writing again... sometime.  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

Candy's thoughts: It seems as though everything I read these days has to do with the themes of waiting and patience. Hmmm. Is it possible God is sending multiple helps for a persistent sin of mine but I'm just not listening? Yes indeed, I think that is quite likely.

Here is what God put in front of me yesterday, this time written by one of my favorite columnists. For many years I've wanted to compose small articles like Andree Seu Peterson does for World Magazine - brief yet practical. I hope you enjoy her thoughts on the relationship between biblical heroes and a classic '60s camp song.  😉

Monday, August 13, 2018

Soul, Remember, In Your Pains...

"The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice."  Psalm 97:1

Spurgeon's thoughts: "There are no real causes for anxiety as long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord's power controls the rage of the wicked as readily as the rage of the sea; His love refreshes the poor with mercy as easily as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of lightning amid the tempest's horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King."

God is God; He sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, in your pains,
God o'er all forever reigns.

Fear not death, nor Satan's thrusts,
God defends who in Him trusts;
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o'er all forever reigns.

For this life's long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o'er all forever reigns. 

Candy's thoughts: I have to admit that my first response to this devotional was something like "easier said than done."  Not the holiest of impulses, I know. But then I remembered that throwing off anxiety must be active and not passive. I often tell my friends in GriefShare that we all have to "lean into our grief," meaning we have to work hard in order to heal. We can't just try to convince ourselves that losing someone doesn't hurt and so we should stop crying or being sad. Instead, in both grief and anxiety we have to confront our fear of the future and then do something - read God's loving promises to us in His Word, pray for relief and a return to stability, preach the gospel to ourselves daily, seek out godly counsel, find comfort in serving others, etc. We can't simply ignore our emotions or distract ourselves with meaningless activities. We have to "lean into" the trouble we face and "lean upon" the Lord with appropriate action.  Soul, remember, in your pains, God o'er all forever reigns. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lost and Found

Candy's thoughts: Most of you know that our family lost a son and brother to death back in 2007. The truth is, though, that I don't believe we "lost" Sam because I know exactly where he is - in heaven.

I love the writings of J.C. Ryle, a country pastor for 39 years and the Bishop of Liverpool in England for 20 more during the 19th Century. He authored several books, and the one entitled Holiness is my favorite. Here is an excerpt from it in which he reflects upon the reality of what happens to our saved loved ones as they pass from life into eternity. I hope that this is a help to those of you who need some encouragement as to the present existence of those in Christ who have gone before us. They are not lost, but found.

Ryle's thoughts: "Blessed be God, the souls of departed saints are free from the very moment their last breath is drawn. While we are weeping, and the coffin is preparing, and the mourning being provided, and the last painful arrangements being made, the spirits of our beloved ones are enjoying the presence of Christ. They are freed forever from the burden of the flesh. They are 'where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest' (Job 3:17).

The very moment that believers die they are in paradise. Their battle is fought; their strife is over. They have passed through that gloomy valley we must one day tread; they have gone over that dark river we must one day cross; They have drunk that last bitter cup which sin has mingled for man; they have reached that place where sorrow and sighing are no more. Surely we should not wish them back again! We should not weep for them. but for ourselves.

We are warring still, but they are at peace. We are laboring, but they are at rest. We are watching, but they are sleeping. We are wearing our spiritual armor, but they have forever put it off. We are still at sea, but they are safe in harbor. We have tears, but they have joy. We are strangers and pilgrims, but as for them they are at home. Surely, better are the dead in Christ than the living! Surely the very hour the poor saint dies, he is at once higher and happier than the highest upon earth."