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The PFQ Web Log (BLOG)

Last Updated September 14, 2009



Separation

May 15, 2009

I recently wrote back to a friend who had an opinion about "separation of church and state."   He was of the opinion
that the separation was good.   I countered with the following apologetic:

Government is necessarily populated by men, who have some sense of religion.   The letter by Jefferson to the Danbury
Baptists intended to preclude any particular Christian denomination from becoming sanctioned by the US Government.
(You have to be careful interpreting the letter, because it was written much earlier in our history - just like reading the
King James Version of the Bible.   The issue there was that Connecticut was dominated by Congregationalists and the
Baptists were concerned about their representation in government matters - whether one denomination would be favored
over another.)

That our nation was founded on Christianity, there can be no dispute.   It is written into the Declaration of Independence
and our Constitution.   I believe that Islam or Buddhism, being not Christian denominations, would be out of place here
and certainly no officer of the land should hold to those religions, lest we be found a stench in the nostrils of Providence
(borrowing from George Washington), whose favor we seek.

Jefferson's "separation of church and state" is intended to preclude the Government from influencing affairs of Christian
denominations, not the other way around.   This is important!   Since you cannot separate a man from his religion, it would
not make sense to drive the religion from the man serving in office.   Perhaps George went a little too far, but certainly
succeeded in removing his particular Christian denomination from influencing other denominations by virtue of his held office.

If our Government is not directed by Christians, then by whom?   I fear the result of answering that question, if the answer
is "not directed by Christians."   The test of one's eligibility should be Scripture, not Christian denomination.


Plourd - Baker Wedding - October 4, 2008



At about 5:15 on Saturday afternoon, October 4, folks in Kernersville, NC, watched as Ashley Pope rode a horse across a field in the late afternoon sun.   There were gasps, tears and joy as everyone watched the white gowned lass atop the handsome brown horse to the backdrop of Celtic music.   What a beautiful experience!   The theme of the event was "Western."   (Can you tell?!!)
Kevin Winemiller, Chaplain of the National Guard, officiated in full regalia and presented the Gospel message during the ceremony.
Stephen presented, "The Measure of a Man," a song he composed, played and sang for the first time, addressing his fiancee in public.
Miana Huneycutt played "Ashokan Farewell" on violin during the "Covenant of Salt" exchange.
After the couple was announced, colored feathers were tossed in the air in celebration.   Following the ceremony, to the backdrop of more Celtic music, everybody enjoyed a potluck and the new couple cut the cake.   A humorous narrative of the couple's pre-marital escapades was presented by Stephen's sister, Sarah, as annotated by her dad, Stephen and Ashley.   (Ask Ashley how she does the imitation of baby sounds!)   As a special and last minute treat, two young ladies performed Irish dances in the barn.


Photographs courtesy of Stephanie Weberg, King George, VA

From left to right: Alex Mansfield (Best Man), Stephen, Ashley, Stephanie (handsome in a cowboy hat!), Sarah, Lindsey Weberg

Even though there's about 2,250 miles between family members, I have a suspicion you haven't heard the last from PFQ (Plourd Family Quintet?!!)

- Keith


PS - By about 8:30 PM, Buffalo Montana time on Tuesday, October 14, the couple had arrived at their new home!

PPS - I just couldn't resist the following - Jessica Plourd (niece)

All right! WHO's Next?!

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Portland First Assembly of God Centennial Celebration! - June 1, 2008

The third and last day of the Centennial Celebration found us listening to a message on Joshua 3:1 through 4:7 given by Reverend Dennis Maquardt, Superintendent of the Northern New England District of the Assemblies of God.   He encouraged us to ask ourselves whether we were building memorials for the next generation to read, because memorials are for future generations.   He also asked us whether we’re inclined to return to slavery (Egypt), to live in the land of just enough (the Wilderness), or to move on to the land of abundance (the Promised Land).

The Reverend William Mitchell was also ordained at this occasion.   Congratulations - both to Reverend Mitchell and the fellowship for holding the beacon high for all to see for over a century!

After the understandably, unusually long worship service, we car pooled to Kelley the Katerers where PFQ had just hours earlier set up the sound system.   We presented four songs at the very beginning of the program - Ashokan Farewell / Going Home medley, Faith of Our Fathers, Working for the Kingdom and Trust in the Lord.   After the meal, we also presented Sarah’s song, America, Let’s Keep It This Way.   Those in attendance included several officials from the Assembly of God churches and Michael and Paulie Heath, President of the Chrstian Civic League in Maine.

Later this month, on the 28th, we expect to bring music back to Post Office Park in Portland.   There, presenting music to passersby, we hope to encourage some of the local folks to abandon their false hopes and place their confidence in the Rock.   If you’ve a mind to, join us beginning at 2:00 as we present the gospel to a fallen world.

- Keith

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Life on the Ranch and Trio Territory - May 29, 2008

Well, I'm long overdue to post here.   I promise I'll do better.

Stephen has had some interesting, not-everyone's-everyday experiences.   How many of you have tagged the ears of newborn calves, helped breach births, given calves shots, skinned a calf to help a cow adopt another cow's calf, roped a calf from a four-wheeler, branded calves or castrated bulls?   Well, things in Montana are simply done quite differently than what I find here in our little plot of wintergreen (it grows wild on our property - hmmm - maybe a tea market here?!)

We presented a concert at Grace Baptist Church in East Rochester recently.   It was our first as a trio.   We shared personal testimonies and about an hour of music.   Of course, it did not include as much bluegrass as we've done before.

We're looking forward to the Centennial celebration of the Assembly of God Church in Portland, Maine, this coming Sunday afternoon.   We'll be attending their worship service at 10:45 AM and move on from there to a banquet at Keeley the Katerer's set to start at 1:30.

On the home front, we're busy doing serious gardening this year, with fuel and food costs being as unpredictable as they are.   At the same time, I'm looking to see what new job and/or income prospects I can find as my job winds down.

More pictures coming in future posts.

- Keith

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MONTANA!! - January 19, 2008

Shortly after Christmas, Stephen announced that he had found an opportunity to pursue his dream - to learn the ropes of ranching.   He had contacted a rancher in Montana through an online job bank and after a few weeks, all was set for him to go out there and live on the ranch with a roof over his head.   He packed his worldly belongings into his pickup truck and, with his friend Tony riding shotgun, off they road into the wild west via Interstate 90.   Here's a picture of part of the ranch.

After a rough start, the rest of the trip, lasting the better part of four days, went without mishap.   When Stephen first arrived at Tony's home, being very tired staying up late the night before trying to pack it all in, he plowed into a snowbank and some of his stowed belongings popped out of the rear, from under the pickup bed cap - somewhat reminiscent of slapstick comedy movie material!   (I'm sorry, Stephen - your mom has an active imagination and a weakness for slapstick!)   After replacing the threadbare front tires (Dad didn't even notice!), they were off!

Stephen has since found a couple of fellowships in Montana to tie into and, as you can imagine, he plays music for the folks out there.   There's even some indication that he will play for a children's camp in Billings, MT, sometime down the road.   And speaking of roads, the speed limit there is a constant 70 miles per hour, except where you blink passing through a town.

It's now the season for calving.   What with 600 pregnant cows, you can begin to imagine the work load Stephen and his mentor, Milt, are facing. Yes, with 600 calves being born in the space of about two months, that averages about 10 per day.   That means there are some days with 25 or so births.   About 5% of them have to be assisted.   Stephen's learning how to tag, to castrate, to innoculate and to be available 24 x 7.   More later.

- Keith

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Solid R.O.C.K. Free Methodist Church, Claremont, NH - September 9, 2007

This morning worship service was a joyous reunion with these friends we had met for the first time only a few months prior (February).   The folks in this body of believers have a lot of spirit. (Spirit!)   Since it rained that Sunday morning, we couldn't meet outside at the park as planned, so we had an intimate gathering indoors with a potluck following.   Visit them at http://www.srfmc.org/


- Keith

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Cornish Fair, Cornish, NH - August 19, 2007

Here we are, Sunday on stage, ministering for about an hour on the last day of the Cornish Fair.


- Keith

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McDarling Farm, Ossipee, NH - August 18, 2007

Here's a picture of us setup in the field.   The camera snapped at a rather poor moment for Mrs. Plourd, so, I've included another photograph of her below.   She's always the one encouraging the rest of us to smile!

 

Here's the promised picture of Gwendolyn with a can of Sprite in her hand, sitting in the seat of a John Deere 870 tractor owned by Mark Darling.


- Keith

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Atria Kennebunk Assisted Living Home - Kennebunk, Maine - August 4, 2007

We arrived at about 10:15 to set up for our 2:00 PM presentation.   The setup went quickly, so we left at about 11:30 to find some food.   We found a popular seafood place nearby and enjoyed seafood and barbeque chicken.

Upon our return, we went almost directly to our music presentation.   The program we selected was only about 45 minutes, so we filled in with other selections.   We finished with an a cappella rendition of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.   Laraine Zady and the residents were quite excited about our musical presentation and insisted that we come back.   I told them that will depend upon Laraine’s request.

Thank you, friends at Atria Kennebunk! You have a beautiful home there!

- Keith

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Maranatha Ministries Conference Center - New Durham, NH - August 1, 2007

Because we were just returning from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center in Hanover, NH, we were pressed for time, arriving about 20 minutes late for our usual 3-hour setup.   Fortuntely, our dear friend Mark Darling and family arrived to help us in our setup.   Despite my early concerns about balancing the system, Mark succeeded in setting levels and adjusting the frequency response to minimize feedback.   (This information is provided for all you left-brained folks out there!)

After a brief introduction by Chris Edmunds, we started with two signature songs - New England Appalachia and Sowin' Seed.   Chris wanted me to make sure that I explained the label on the Amazing Bass, after having told the story of the weed whacker replacement string.   The families that had attended camp that week were quite receptive.   We also employed children 5 and 6 years old to introduce TurnTable Tune.

After our short program, several families visited with us, including a home-school family.   Several took Home Grown back to their campsites.   We enjoyed meeting the folks and the fellowship.

- Keith

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Maple Root Baptist Church - Coventry, Rhode Island - Morning Worship Service and Evening Concert - July 8, 2007

I first met Pastor Jason Hardage at the church in his Sunday School class that begins at 9:30. He was the “voice at the end of the phone calls” he and I shared in setting up our visit. I am always impressed and grateful when a pastor receives us sight unseen. (He reminded me that we had sent him our CD.) His style of teaching and leading the church involves the people who co-labor with him, something I have alluded to in reference to the Epping Bible Baptist Church with Pastor Ron Townsend. Because an army does not go to battle with just a general in the ranks (he would surely lose the battle), I have confidence that this fellowship will have an impact on their local community. Perhaps they can be effective in restoring to the church those things our Lord wants the church to do (like giving and supporting orphans and widows and providing civic leadership in the community) that other institutions and government have wrested away over the decades that have preceded us.

We were able to set up our microphones using the church’s sound system in the half hour between Sunday School and the morning worship service. During the service, Pastor Jason dissected I John 2:28-29 in a message he entitled, “The Path to Authentic Holiness.” We presented Faith of Our Fathers, Be Thou My Vision and The Whippoorwill Song during the service. There were several in attendance from the wedding the day before, which swelled the numbers that morning. We learned that Edith Sharp and her late husband, Frank (talk to us for more stories about how we met her and her family - she is the “matriarch” of the Sharp and Viele family) had spent many years at Maple Root there in Rhode Island.

We had been invited to the Sharp family retreat at a nearby YMCA camp, and seeing our prior opportunity did not materialize, we gladly followed them to the camp. We were already partially set up at the church. Now, at a picnic is where you can see family dynamics in action! What a privilege to meet these folks from Maine, Ontario, Rhode Island and Texas! And, as you can imagine, there were stories to be told - from many differing (and sometimes apparently conflicting) directions. But, please don’t misunderstand, there was no malice in any of it and some humor to be had in all.

The evening concert went well. We cut the 1-1/2 hour program down to accommodate the evening worship service schedule and included testimonies about our family, home schooling, our affiliations in New Hampshire and our understanding about God’s designs for His children. We even recruited some 5-year-olds to help us say, “All Aboard,” as we embarked on the Turntable Tune journey. We were blessed after the service when several came forward to buy our CD, Home Grown. What they didn’t know is that those funds would provide us the gas money to return home. PTL for His faithfulness!

I shared with Pastor Hardage that in our conversations as we traveled that afternoon, the family agreed that he presented a good message. I also shared with him my delight that he involves members of his fellowship in ministry. Thank you, Pastor Jason, for allowing us to be a part of your ministry in Coventry, Rhode Island.

Thank you, also, Mike and Glory Brewer, for opening up your home to our family. Stephen, in particular, reveled in the farm atmosphere. We also loved the down-home wisdom that you get only where man meets beast and the crops that grow. Stephen also was able to “tet” a whole field of hay. “Tetting” is the process of fluffing up the hay so it’ll dry completely. He drove a John Deere tractor around the field, pulling the 18-foot tetter behind him. As we were departing, we watched from afar as Mike drove the tractor pulling the bailer and the cart onto which his helpers stacked the bales. What a memorable trip!

- Keith

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Daniel and Vanessa Carroll Wedding - New Life Worship Center - Smithfield, Rhode Island - July 7, 2007

Because of the willingness of a Christian newspaper editor to put us up overnight, we were able to arrive in Rhode Island on Friday in time for the wedding rehearsal. When we approached the door, we were surprised that they recognized us immediately! When I asked how they did so, they pointed to the stack of newspapers and said, "Your picture is on the front page!" And so it was. "Today's Good News," formerly "Good News in Rhode Island," had written an article about our music ministry. The article also mentioned our home school lifestyle. The article shared the front page with another article about home schooling - the editor, Larry Lepore, said that this was a fortunate coincidence.

The church building is fairly modern with current worship amenities. The sound technician was quite supportive and simply set up the microphones and saved the settings for later retrieval. He made our preparations quite useful and quick. We were able to practice our three songs after the main portion of the rehearsal had completed. The group of pastors and support friends at the New Life Worship Center in Smithfield were well organized and friendly, putting all at ease.

The following morning, Stephen and I went to the "Carousel" at Goddard Memorial Park in East Greenwich, RI. What a beautiful venue, overlooking the bay. The park also includes pony rides and many other activities. The facilities were well used with many groups in the park. After spending some time trying to get the least bit of amplification out of the sound system we set up, we prayed (why does it happen in this sequence sometimes?) and then discovered the one microphone whose gain had been set too high. After we corrected the error, all fell into place. The reception hall was now ready for the afternoon's reception.

We had stayed the night before at the home of Larry and Cheryl Lynn Lepore, editor of Good News. What a treat to us they both were. If it weren't for the lateness of the evening (we talked for quite some time), I'm sure we'd still be talking into the wee hours of the morning about the direction of our country and what to do about it!

After setting up at the Carousel, we returned to the Lepores, showered and dressed and returned to the church prior to the wedding, which went so well. But for a few minor mistakes we made, the songs were rendered well and I believe honored the bride and groom, the new Daniel and Vanessa Carroll. We were so pleased to have this part in their wedding! They had chosen us months earlier for their music because they liked the pleasant, homey style we presented at another venue.

We were among the first to arrive back at the reception area at the park and waited for a while for it to be unlocked. The mix of our music (many bluegrass selections and our own compositions) and Vanessa's playlist allowed us to "have our cake and eat it, too!" We were able to sit and eat and fellowship with Vanessa's and Daniel's families and friends. We certainly had fun and received many thanks for our music. We returned to the Lepores that night for needed rest.

Larry and Cheryl Lynn - thank you for your grace to us. You certainly made us feel welcome and had a wonderful lakeside retreat to give us pause for refreshment. You're in our book of friends!

- Keith

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Minutemen United - Lexington, Masssachusetts - April 19-21, 2007

What an assembly of committed men! Minutemen United is concerned about the current direction of our nation and is actively engaging our culture to turn it around. They recognize that judgment begins with the house of God and that we must look to Him, His mercy and His grace to pursue a revival and turning around of our nation.

PFQ's part was small, yet somewhat significant. I was particularly impressed with how well our musical selections and themes fit into the themes of the various sessions presented by these leaders of Christion ministries here in the U.S. We were graciously received by the men. Selections we presented included, America, Let's Keep It This Way; Shine Your Light; My Country, 'Tis of Thee and others.

Probably the most significant thing I took back with me from the Convention was the rubbing of elbows with men who were on the front lines of the culture war and who were laying down their all in this battle. These men have battle scars and are not inclined to look back! Some of the statements included: 1) Sodomy is sin. 2) Abortion is murder of the unborn. 3) Islam is not the one true relationship to God because the God of the Bible is a jealous God and cannot tolerate idol worship.

Thanks for your part, Minutemen United! May our Lord prolong His mercy toward us and save a remnant for Himself!

- Keith

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The Bible Speaks - South Berwick, Maine - April 14, 2007

We arrived at The Bible Speaks in South Berwick, Maine, at almost exactly 2:00. Pastor Brown and others of the church met us there in the parking lot. After having spent a day and a half at the CheNH Convention in Manchester, we were beat, so we took a 15- to 20-minute nap. (BTW, we presented two songs at the Convention Friday night and I had a workshop to present Saturday morning, too!)

When we started unloading our instruments and equipment, we heard the distinct sounds of yodeling in the parking lot. And not just any yodeling, it was gospel yodeling about Christ. What an amazing welcome!

First, they fed us. Then, they encouraged us to go upstairs and "do our thing." Well, they were quite a receptive fellowship. After the first song or two, they were clapping to the music. I remarked that on James Kingsbury's recommendation, we had received the invitation to minister to these people. What a trusting pastor, to welcome us on one man's testimony! (We had a good laugh!)

Sarah had been ill, but she presented "America, Let's Keep It This Way" anyway. This song resonated well with these folks, being supportive of marriage as God intended. Being a short program, we were able to cut out some of the songs Sarah would normally do solo and to give her some needed rest.

We met Pastor Brown's wife and his sister, Charlene. Charlene engaged us quite well in private conversation about things of the Lord. What a sweet woman she is! We also came to learn that Pastor Brown and his wife had just lost their son a few weeks earlier, on March 8 - the same day that Bill Hermonat had died. So, here were two men of God who were taken to see their Lord on the very same day, just a few miles apart. I can begin to imagine the conversations they would have with one another.

Well, remarks heard after the concert suggested that we would be back again sometime in the future. If Pastor Brown has his way, the folks on Sunday would hear what they missed. Thank you, friends of TBS! Your welcome and standing ovation has encouraged us to continue presenting our message in song to others.

- Keith

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Epping Bible Baptist Church - March 18, 2007

What an impressive fellowship of believers! We lived right next door in Nottingham from 1999 until 2002 and didn't even know these folks were there.

Imagine, if you will, a body of believers who undertook to study God's design for church government and discovered that He wants leadership by elders (yes, plural). Pastor Townsend remarked that following this prescription has lifted quite a burden from his shoulders and allows gifted others in the fellowship to be plugged in and to strengthen folks by virtue of their individual strengths. Do you want a motivated fellowship? The prescription is simply to discover your members' strengths and gifts and channel those energies to the church ministries in accordance with scriptural direction. (Hmmm, what a concept!)

We presented Faith of Our Fathers and Be Thou My Vision at both morning services. (We didn't know these folks very well at the time.) In between, we were treated to breakfast. How many churches do you know offer breakfast as a ministry on Sunday morning? We also shared personal testimonies about our coming to Christ individually and our music ministry collectively during the Sunday School time. Later that evening Sarah presented for the first time "To Live" - a song about her parents' stillborn child. Others gave testimony of how it brought them to tears, too. Sarah was encouraged to present the song at every concert we give, because of how it ministers to those who have experienced such a loss.

My greatest impression was spending the afternoon with the extended Townsend family. Their three daughters (one unmarried, but engaged to be married) and grandchildren all stayed for lunch, in addition to our four mouths. We could see the joy and comraderie expressed in the children, the young ladies and their husbands, and in the Pastor and his wife. The dynamics of the family were wonderful. Unlike us first-generation Christians, each of them comes from a long line of dedicated Christians.

In addition to understanding matters of church governance and the appropriate use of spiritual gifts (see Romans 12), the Townsends also make good use of Internet technology, set an example for a fully functional family and have an active outreach to the Epping community. Go to Epping Bible Baptist Church Online for details.

Thank you, friends at EBBC. It was a pleasure meeting all of you. I only regret that I'll not be able to remember all your names - the faces should stick in my mind, though!

As we were about to leave, I heard a comment that went something like this - "We had them visit us all afternoon and didn't even know that there were professional musicians in our midst!" To this I have to add, "No more so than the professionals you already have in your midst exercising their gifts, too!"

- Keith

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South Waterboro Bible Chapel - March 11, 2007 - Stephen's 21st Birthday

I have a habit of engaging people before our concerts and this was no exception. I noticed that there were many teens and children, which encouraged us. It only took a few conversations to realize that Pastor Lambertson, who had seen us and our instruments playing at a Pastor's retreat in December, had spoken at length to his people about the Amazing Bass - the four-string bass Stephen and I had crafted from directions we found on the Internet. I also found out that there were other churches invited to this event.

Before the concert, the Pastor invited us to pray with him. Immediately following, at about five minutes before 6:00, Gwendolyn, Sarah and Aunt Anne arrived with something resembling food for us to consume. (We were hungry!)

The church was full, including the balcony. With little preparation (see Keith's blog explaining the week's frazzled events), I believe we felt free because we had been seeking God's priorities throughout the past week. At Stephen's suggestion, we "jammed" a few selections together without intervening commentary, so as to present more professionally and to pack in as much music as we could in the time allowed. This worked well. It took only a song or two before we found some folks clapping to the rhythm of the music.

The first part of our presentation was essentially a demonstration of skill as well as a warmup. (We feel that anything less than skilful would discredit our message.) After several instrumentals, we introduced ourselves and included our ties to CheNH and to Cornerstone Policy Research.

After a ten-minute intermission, we continued with mostly vocal selections - the real meat of our concerts. For the first time, at least that I can remember, I saw folks in the church mouthing the words to songs PFQ had written. It took me by surprise. Afterwards, I learned that a few men had accompanied the pastor to the Pastor's retreat where we had played and had purchased CDs from us. That's why they were able to mouth the words of our songs. What an encouragement, that we are having at least a small impact on our culture!

During the monologues between songs, we explained how we have been bought with a price and that we owe our everything, our works, our time, our resources, all to Him. We shouldn't be pursuing our own pleasure above His purposes for our lives. We also explained that if we don't know what's written in Scripture, we can't get to know Him deeply, because the Scriptures write of Him and explain Him to us. Our ministry in the world may be limited by how well and how deeply we know Him.

At a time when we weren't playing, I met Eric Stockholm, who explained that his family will shortly be moving to Arkansas, since he will be taking up full time ministry with FamilyLife. He said that our message resonated very well with his passion and what he will be doing at FamilyLife. I could tell just in speaking with him those few minutes that he was a man after God's heart. He wouldn't be invited to serve in this ministry if God hadn't touched him with such passion for family.

In summary, God blessed us with bonds of friendship. He also sent us away with a purse that would enable us to pay bills on time and to prepare additional CDs for sale in the coming weeks. Pastor Lambertson explained that this offering was the largest he had seen and that many were blessed with our message in song. Thank you, SWBC, for your encouragement!

- Keith

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Vermont Tour

Sunday, February 11, 2007
At the Solid R.O.C.K. (Reaching Out for Christ the King) Free Methodist Church (www.srfmc.org) in Claremont, we presented a one-hour concert to the folks, followed by a potluck. We were received by the folks with open arms and humor. During the potluck, we played some additional bluegrass instrumentals. That seems to be all that a few energetic members of the group needed. An 85-year-old grandma who had both knees replaced got up and started others doing a line dance to the music. The concert presentation was also recorded and later posted on the SRFMC website. We were blessed by the encouragement Pastor De Rosa gave for folks to support our ministry. Friendships were established, a dinner engagement was made and memories were etched in our minds. Thank you, SRFMC friends!

Later that day, we joined "Gospel Train" at the Woodlawn Nursing Home, where they encouraged us to present a few selections and to participate in their music, too. What a warm welcome from such a responsive group! Later, we were treated by the Gospel Train to a visit to a local coffee house where we got to know the folks a bit better. Another dinner engagement resulted.

Monday, February 12, 2007
We visited Camp Good News in Charlestown this morning, got to see the layout and focus of this ministry and presented a few samples of our music ministry. As a result, we will be presenting a concert on Labor Day weekend, September 1, which is the Plourd wedding anniversary.

We also visited Silver Maples today, where about 8 to 10 women call their home. They, too, were attentive and responsive. These are precious women. We were all moved when, as we presented 'My Country 'Tis of Thee' a cappella, the ladies all rose (which for some of them is difficult) and stood at attention. How precious to see their patriotism expressed visibly in this way. We enjoyed their fellowship. Upon learning of our ties to home education and our family-friendly message, they asked many discerning questions. What a precious little family. May they be blessed as they live out the rest of their days. Thank you, Racicots, for your commitment to these ladies!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Two engagements today! In the morning we visited Cedar Hill assisted living in Windsor, VT. What another precious group! It seems we will be receiving a request for an engagement from another home in Portland, ME as a result of this visit. "You guys are awesome!" was an encouragement we received from some of these folks. When will we be returning? Well, it looks like around Labor Day weekend.

Mount Ascutney Nursing Home, attached to the hospital, was our second engagement of the day. Wouldn't you know it? The caretakers were the animated ones, here! As we sang out several traditional hymns, we saw several residents mouthing the words with us, and not just for the first verse, but for the second and third verses, too. That's an example of one of the results of a music ministry - we are often able to see our music reach in past the intellect and activate some fond memories from the past of some of these soldiers of the cross. Thank you, MANH, for this opportunity. Oh, and of course, you'll be included (at your request) in our tour in early September.

I just remembered. There's a woman named, Judy, who is a resident there at the home. It seems some 20 years ago, she was driving with her little children and had a head-on collision with a vehicle driven by a drunkard. Judy now has only a few teeth showing, has brain damage (can't speak) and must be fed through tubes. BUT, she is enjoying life tremendously! It was precious to see her beaming a smile with those four teeth!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Well, Ashley (Stephen's girl who is on tour with us) gets her wish today. A Nor'Easter hit today, bringing "tons" of snow and drifting winds. We had to postpone our Hanover Terrace visit until Thursday afternoon. We all agreed to have some hot chocolate, read and meditate on Proverbs 14 and Ezekiel 13 (both have something to say about women!), play Catch Phrase and watch a video or two this afternoon and evening. Hmmm. Ministry should / shouldn't be such fun?!

I also had the opportunity to pick the brain of our host. He assumed the management of his parents' trash collection business. Over the next several years, he asked experts how to do various aspects of the business and challenged the industry to change their perspective of the business - transforming trash collection into waste management. The business grew and he sold it some ten years ago. His experience and learning now has him providing consultation to product developers and inventors. He helps them bring their ideas to the marketplace.

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Today we visited Woodlawn Nursing Home in Newport, NH and Hanover Terrace Healthcare in Hanover, NH. Thank you, HTH, for your flexibility to receive us a day later. Friends at the Mount Ascutney Nursing Home took us out to dinner that evening.

Friday, February 16, 2007
We traveled the furthest on this trip to Randolph, VT. Randolph is a very quaint town and reminded us of Wolfeboro, NH in many ways. The folks at the Gifford Medical Center received us well. That evening, our friends at Horseshoe Pines took us out to dinner.

Saturday, February 17, 2007
Again, we had two visits today. We visited the Clough Center in New London, NH and Horseshoe Pines in Newport, NH. The folks at HP were very interested in our music ministry and blessed us with their encouragement. We also met there another homeschool family whose mom shares similar diet restrictions to Mrs. Plourd. As a finale, we were treated to a wonderful end-of-the-day meal at another homeschool family's home in Charlestown, NH. We met these folks a few years back at a CheNH Convention and have had wonderful interactions with them on many fronts ever since. Their children are just a few years behind ours in age, so we eagerly exchanged accounts of experiences in training our children and preparing them for marriage.

Sunday, February 18, 2007
We knew we had a lot of setting up to do, so we tried to arrive early at the church (North Hartland Community Church). Unfortunately, we still didn't have enough time and we had technical problems as a result, overdriving our newly acquired mini-mixer to the point of distortion. We feel so badly about this and will do a few dry runs at home before doing other concerts. But, toward the end of the morning worship concert, we managed to unplug the connection to the electronic keyboard and that made the sound tolerable.

Despite these technical difficulties, we were received so well that a woman I didn't recognize immediately gave us all a good bear hug. I've since committed some names to memory so that won't happen again! The good folks there, with their interim pastor (Andrew Mercaldo), blessed us with a freewill offering and some gas money to send us on our way.

That evening, we sat down in the small WVFA studio in Enfield, NH and responded to Bill Wittik's live, on-air interview. Even though we experienced some technical difficulties (likely from how the CD we used was recorded), all the selected songs played on-air and we were able to explain our ministry to our satisfaction. We look forward to receiving a copy of this interview.

Monday, February 19, 2007
Well, it seems all good things must come to an end. But, wait! On our way home we visited another friendly homeschool family in Pittsfield, NH. There, we were treated to squash soup, some wonderful rolls and brownies covered with Vitamin I (ice cream). Because we've known this family for years, we managed to extend our stay until about 8:30 and again have wonderful interaction about childrearing and preparations for marriage. The children played Catch Phrase and later presented two of the songs we had presented at our concerts.

Trip Observations

So, what was this trip all about? It was about God's Provision, about iron sharpening iron, about stepping out in faith to see whether our Lord wants us to pursue full-time music ministry, about children (Stephen and Ashley) preparing for marriage, about church governance and about cultural issues in what once was a Judeo-Christian culture.

Would we do it again? Probably, since we've scheduled a visit to Camp Good News on September 1. Are we convinced to follow full-time ministry or is that door closed? We don't have an answer yet, but we do have more information. At least we've figured out what the bottom line would be to support us in full-time ministry.

We have made many, precious friends. Our challenge is to remember you all in our prayers as you, too, work through His will for your lives. May He give you a vision as you seek to understand how He created you from the womb and how your life's experiences have prepared you for ministry.

- Keith

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Just this past week, I heard again the concept or principle of putting myself in a place where I'm uncomfortable, to see God work. (Of course, you don't want to go where you're uncomfortable without knowing that God has provided you the direction to go there!) So, as a result of a visit last summer to a small church in Vermont, we were encouraged to schedule a tour of the Connecticut River Valley that both New Hampshire and Vermont straddle. Seeing this as a Macedonian call, we pursued it and began making plans for a tour of the area during the middle of February. (Other families who do music tours, one in particular we know from Orange, MA, usually schedule tours in the south during winter. But, alas, we're the inexperienced type!) Since we're up here in the winter anyway, and since the "concert season" is usually quiet during this time, it seemed like a good opportunity and direction.

Well, it would seem that God has confirmed this direction, It looks like He put the stamp of approval on our plans just recently when a family opened their home to give us lodging during our tour. Their hospitality ministry was to be an essential ingredient for our being able to offer this ministry. It is also an answer to specific prayer. PTL!

- Keith

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Pastors - Do you want to earn the respect of those in your fellowship? Do you want to cause elder candidates to be recognized and rise up from among your flock? Then do as Pastor Edd Cathey of the Grace & Peace Presbyterian Church of Callaway, MD does - have a question and answer period on the day's message. This allows you to sense the pulse and heartbeat of your fellowship. Your folks will also gain a deep respect for your ministry. From I Corinthians 11:

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Pastors - Do you want to avoid burnout? Do you want to spend time doing the things that you've really been called to do? Then do as Pastor John Briggs of Blessed Hope Bible Church in Liverpool, PA does - involve your elders and gifted and skilled faithful in various aspects of your ministry, including the Sunday service. You'll earn their respect as they gain a more intimate vision of your ministry. You'll probably also reap benefits from their insights as they work through difficult assignments alongside you. From I Corinthians 16:

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

As we recently traveled through Southern Maryland, then on to North Carolina and Pennsylvania, we were blessed at each stop with visits to families that are seeking the true God, the God that reveals Himself through the Bible. I continue to be amazed how we are encouraged by fathers whose families are pursuing God's designs and timing - we find ourselves believing and practicing the same things! It seems that those who truly follow Him oftentimes meet together at stopping points along similar paths. What a blessing these men are who don't accept men's interpretations of scripture, but rather want to find out for themselves! From Galatians 1:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.


- Keith

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Yesterday, Saturday, we presented a short, mostly Christmas program at the Maranatha Men's Retreat in New Durham. We had to set up quickly, so we didn't set up our sound system. Besides, we had the harp, the hammered dulcimer, and all our other stringed instruments. There was sufficient time left for us to pray before the music. Chris Edmund asked that Our Lord would bless beyond our expectations. That, He did!

We played and sang seven selections and explained the history of the Amazing Bass, to the amusement of the men watching. We introduced ourselves and explained what we were about, and the pending engagements. The real story, though, is to be found in what happened afterwards.

Chris asked the men if they wanted an encore. Even though I didn't hear what Chris said, it became apparent that they did. We introduced Sowin' Seed, our song about the Four Soils parable in Scripture. That was met with clapping to the timing of the music as we sang the a cappella part.

Sometime during our presentation, I had mentioned that we had some CDs the men could take home with them. After our encore, all the CDs were taken - we didn't have another to give to the waiting hands and had to make a list of requests. (Chris observed that we hadn't trusted the Lord for a big enough blessing!)

One man said to me that he didn't even know we existed. A pastor said he would be calling us on Monday to arrange for a Christmas Eve service at a church where we had been wanting to play. Other pastors indicated they would be contacting us for a program at their churches, including one all day event. Here is our predicament - we are spreading a unique message in a tasteful way, but folks don't know about our ministry. Well, I rest assured in the Lord's timing in such matters.

Another fellow blessed my heart when he recounted how I had addressed a large New Hampshire home school group about two years ago and gave them the following exhortation: If we spend so much time and care training our children at home (years), why would we then want, when they're in the prime of their lives and near the end of our instruction - why should we then want to turn them over to ungodly teachers of unspecified beliefs in colleges and universities, only to be turned from all the principles and practices we hold dear? He said that he and his wife had heeded that exhortation. Somewhere, out there, is a child or two who maintain the beliefs of their parents because of this one, simple principle.

- Keith

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On November 25, we arrived three hours early at the South Effingham Church. We were to play at 7:00 PM. We needed the three hours because we were going to use, for the first time, a small, 8-port mixer we had just bought to accommodate all of our microphones and instruments. We were also going to attempt, again, to set up some monitor speakers so we could harmonize well.

About six weeks earlier, Bill Taylor had contacted us, saying he had found out about us through the Center Effingham Baptist Church. Would we be willing to play a short, half-hour program prior to a Christmas tree lighting, and to lead some Christmas carols just before the lighting? Well, sure! We had a blank spot in our schedule and we enjoy the traditions of Christmas as much as the folks right next to us. (By the way, the Christmas tree sits almost directly on the state line between Maine and New Hampshire. If I'm not mistaken, the state line runs down the middle of the road such that the southbound lane is in New Hampshire and the northbound one is in Maine!)

In the intervening weeks, Bill had seen us play at the Sharp memorial gathering at the Effingham school (see our schedule) and came away with his own positive appraisal of our music from that experience. He and others had observed that the music was tastefully and thoughtfully done. There were several who had tears in their eyes as they heard Wayfaring Stranger, Faith of Our Fathers, and other songs. Meanwhile, I did some research through Google and found that what was about to happen there at the church was a longstanding tradition for Taylor City. As recently as 2002, according to one website, a group of 25 choristers gathered yearly to present a short program before the tree lighting. Bill told me that as of this year (2006), the director would no longer lead the singers for this event. Hence, we got the call.

By the time we arrived at the South Effingham Church, we were told that the entire program was left up to us. Well, we had picked some Christmas song arrangements we played last year and spent a few days tidying them up with practice. We were excited and encouraged, because we knew how and what we were going to do for the folks and they were anticipating our ministry. The songs we had selected, I believe, unabashedly brought the message of Christ's coming into the world in a powerful way. Little did we realize that the occasion would exceed just about everyone's expectations, including ours.

At 7:00 PM, Patty (a Taylor descendent) welcomed everyone and asked if we would introduce ourselves, which we did, and then went directly to our music. The little church was packed with folks standing around the side and in the doorway in the back! One fellow, after the program, said that he had not heard good music like this since he was 14. He told me he's now 72! Bill wasn't able to attend, because he had to man his store until 9:00 that evening, but he did get an earful about the program.

Next year, on November 24, Lord willing, we will return to the little church with a longer program. (That the program was too short was a repeated complaint.) It seems we all had a mutual feeling of appreciation. With the help of the folks attending, we counted down from 10 (as they do at the Rockefeller Center) as loudly as we could, so Bill could hear well enough to flip the breaker for the tree at the right time. (He was on the other side of the building.) To everyone's delight, the 30-or-so-foot tree lit up right on time.

Back at the church a few minutes later, several returned to purchase PFQ CDs while Stephen chatted with onlookers about playing banjo and mandolin. (Dad got to start putting stuff away! Hmm, there's a lesson here!) Several at the event helped us transport our stuff out to the waiting van. (PS - It's a 15-passenger van given to us this past summer for our music ministry. God moves in amazing and mysterious ways!)

Thank you, folks of Taylor City. We look forward to doing it again next year! May the intervening year be meaningful for you and for your families!

- Keith

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