Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yes, Virginia, God is sill alive and well...

Gotta love days where God's providence is readily apparent! A friend who has been trying for several years to get (and stay) pregnant just announced that they're 13 weeks pregnant and due in June!


One of my advisees is having a really rough semester for personal reasons--two of his sisters are very sick (both with a condition that requires a bone marrow transplant, and one with stage 4 cancer) and are at the NIH for treatment. His grandpa is in hospice. And if that wasn't enough, he was involved in a four car pileup, and his car is now totalled. I've been blue just thinking about his circumstances. It's his birthday on Saturday...and the other night he was compelled to pray for a car. It's hard to get home or to the "Be the Match" events he's been running to help his sisters without a car.

And God gave him a car. Not knowing his prayer (and I'm not even sure if he's a Christian), a professor gave him an old car. It needs some work, but is fine for a college kid.

Taking away

Hope has developed definite opinions on what she likes--especially hair brushes, remotes, phones, and anything that remotely resembles a phone (all of the previous objects she holds up to her ear and says "allo?")

Sometimes she chooses an object that isn't safe or that we don't want her to have. But rather than just take it away from her, we try to offer her something else before taking it away. It's a win-win, fewer tears approach to toddler life.

We don't do that with Henry and Harmony. They're old enough to understand that some things aren't for them. Sometimes we give them something else later; sometimes they're on their own.

I realized the other day that I guess we're not toddlers anymore. Every other time we've felt called to leave a church, we've waited until we've had somewhere to go. Even when we moved back from Ithaca, God provided the next church before we left.

That's definitely not what happened this time. We've been church-less for approximately a year, with no good options in sight.

I guess that means that we're no longer toddler Christians...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you find many things to be thankful for today!

And if you've never read it before, check out Abraham Lincoln's original proclamation, declaring the 4th Thursday in November to be a day of national Thanksgiving:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful November: Opportunities to serve

I have been running at full hilt this week, even though classes aren't in session. And my to do list is still really long--I don't even have a lecture ready for Monday OR a lab written for Tuesday afternoon (that needs to be passed out during Monday class). Not to mention two lab manuals to write, a huge stack of grading and a bunch of other stuff that's coming with me to Thanksgiving.

So I was REALLY tempted this afternoon to bail on a commitment to serve a colleague.

But I didn't. And I was blessed.

One of the retired members of our department (yes, it's the same guy as this story) had back surgery almost two weeks ago. His wife died last spring, and he has no family. So while he's very independent minded, he's relying on friends and colleagues to help him do the things he can't--like drive, carry the laundry basket downstairs, etc. He's working on being able to walk the mile into and home from the office so he can have a little more interaction with people, so walking him to the track is also on the list.

I've been organizing people to help him, but have had a fairly dismal response. So I had agreed to cover today. One of the other retired professors who has been doing a lot of caretaking stopped by my office late this morning...and I almost begged least the walking. John agreed to meet us at the track and he would deliver his paper to him and walk, and I'd work. But as I worked through lunch, things came together on that project fairly nicely, and I was convicted of my need to do what I said I would.

We had agreed on 1 pm, so I worked through lunch and arrived promptly. We walked 10 laps at the gym, turned in some recycling, picked up some groceries, unloaded the groceries, helped with laundry, and chatted with him the whole while.

He's lonely. He doesn't know God, and is resistant to the idea of God even existing. But somewhere in him is a God sized hole. And if he can see something different in me, even if it's just a willingess to give up two hours of my day, and wonder why I do's worth it.

Then tonight after dinner, I took the kids to help set up for the Community Thanksgiving. That was fun too!

So today I'm thankful for opportunities to serve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Jen

Tonight I dug some hot dogs out of the freezer for the kids, because I knew they didn't like what I had planned for dinner (and I already made them eat it the first time we had it this week).

Not unusual, right?

Except that the freezer wasn't mine--it's my friend Jen's. She's letting us use a shelf in her freezer

Generous doesn't begin to describe Jen and her family. When we were all sick with the flu, she brought us food (mmm, homemade applesauce!) and prayed for us. They've housesat, traded meals, had cookie and meal exchanges, hosted playdates, gone out on girl nights/guy nights...they're our "family" here in town.

I'm very thankful Jen prays with and for us. We have lots of Christian friends, but few that we pray with, beyond saying grace (and since the kids picked up on my parent's memorized grace, it's often not much of a prayer). Especially without a small group, I need that.

So today I'm thankful for friendship. Specifically Christian friendship...and my friend Jen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful November--digital photo albums!

Tonight I finished Harmony's "Toddler Years" photo album--a gift that I know will be a hit. It seems trite, but I'm so thankful for digital photography--we've saved so much on developing costs, even factoring in the price of the camera. And I love being able to crop, rotate, and do fun stuff electronically.

Henry's baby book is a Creative Memories photo album, but I realized soon after Harmony was born that I wouldn't be able to have the time to do that kind of cropping and journalling.

Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Kodak to the rescue! The prices are reasonable (when you consider that they're hard bound and include all the picture costs), and it takes me about as much time as it takes to do a single page "the old way". We can also print two books--one for us to save and treasure, one for the recipient to love to pieces. When we went on our trip last week, Harmony brought her baby book. It's definitely well loved!

I'm also thankful to be able to take a walk down memory lane while looking at those pictures. It's amazing to think of Harmony as that toddler, and how she's grown and blossomed since then. It's also amazing to think of all the ways God has worked in our lives, both during that time period and since then.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankful November--Home!

Aah, somehow there is nothing better than Home sweet Home!

I'm thankful that we are able to own a home...and the end is in sight for the mortgage.
I'm thankful that it's big enough to host large groups for dinner--we've definitely been blessed with great friends and love having them over for dinner.
I'm thankful that we have an apartment upstairs...and that this year's renters are incredibly quiet :)
I'm thankful for this exercise in thankfulness--every time I don't know what to write, the list is very encouraging.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thankful November--Weekend getaway

We left late last night for a weekend getaway to Southern Indiana! I'm thankful that we have both the time and resources for quick jaunts like this. I know my mom thinks my kids have seen too much (good stuff in my opinion--the beach, NYC, been on trains, airplanes, subways, cabs, etc), but it's fun and builds memories. I'm also thankful for:
--beautiful creations like we saw at the Falls of the Ohio and in Marengo Cave
--talented and funny singers, like Moosebutter
--Patrick's friend, Barb, who watched Hope so we could go to the Moosebutter concert :)
--CHOCOLATE! Especially Schimpff's and their yummy creations. We got to see them make Red hots, and of course, buy more than a few :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful November--a week of NO CLASS!

That's right, we have the full week off of class for Thanksgiving! That's cause enough for much thanks giving--it gives us time to get organized for next semester (like writing lab manuals, which requires having syllabi planned, which means having a text selected, etc...)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful November: Esperanza

Ms. Esperanza is one of Hope's caregivers. I love that they share a name, albeit in two different languages! Esperanza only speaks Spanish to the babies, and they understand her. In fact, when Hope does something good, she claps and says "Baabo!" (Bravo!) which Esperanza taught her.

Ms. Esperanza is moving to South Carolina to be closer to family. We are happy for her, but will miss her (and her girls and husband, who works at our favorite restaurant) very much!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful November: our stockroom assistant

Today I'm thankful for our stockroom assistant. He takes care of ordering and set up for our teaching labs, which frees up HOURS of time for all of us. He's got a even disposition, and does a good job with the student assistants. He greets me with a cheerful "Howdy" whenever I show up 15 minutes before class, trying to pull together a demo. Our jobs would definitely be much harder without him!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful November: sleep

Today I'm thankful for uninterrupted nights of sleep. And praying that I get one :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful November: Hope!

Hope is one today! She is such a wonderful toddler. She's so happy just walking around, and is definitely loved by her big bro and sis. Maybe her second year of life will bring some sleep!

Happy Birthday, Sweet girl!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thankful November: Sabbath at Seven

Yup, it's been almost a year and we're still church homeless. But we have found couches to perch on--so it's more like we're sub-optimally housed than on the streets.

One of our "regulars" is "Sabbath at Seven", an evening service. It's lower key than the morning service, and somehow I get more out of the sermon when there are accompanying pictures. The Holy Spirit is present, and the Word is preached.

So I'm thankful for this service, and that they've recently gone from monthly to biweekly!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday: school

Henry and Harmony brought home report cards yesterday, and both are doing very well. I've already done a thankfulness about Henry's teacher--today I'm thankful for the entire school setup. I thankful that when I drop them off, they're greeted by name and with a smile by the dropoff aids--and that Henry would rather rush in the morning to say hi to the bus monitor (who provides books for them to look at and plays fun kid-appropriate music if they are quiet). I'm thankful that the teachers try to help each child succeed, no matter where they're starting from. They're also really positive and reinforce the good. I'm thankful that the playground is fun and safe, and got new equipment last week. It's cool enough that Harmony won't wear skirts because it's hard to play in a dress.

And I'm thankful that it's Saturday and they don't have school today!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thankful November: cleaning person

Aah, today I came home to a sparkling house that I didn't clean. I don't know how Matilde does it, but she always gets our house cleaner than I can. I appreciate her diligent work and cheerfulness--she obviously loves children and is so kind to our kids.

So today I'm thankful for Matilde!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful November: Parenting

Today one of my colleagues, who is fairly outspokenly atheist, restated his position, with the justification that his wife's battle with cancer confirmed his opposition to God: how could a loving, good God allow bad things to happen?

It was hard to have an answer for him. I had shared my chapel message with him, and he basically was saying he disagreed. He sees suffering as proof that God doesn't exist. That's a pretty hard position to change.

As I went for a run over lunch, God pointed out to me things I've learned from parenting.

Sometimes my kids suffer because of their decisions. Negative behaviors have negative consequences...even if it means that sometimes I have to create negative consequences so the behavior isn't repeated.

Sometimes they suffer because of someone else's decisions. A sad part of life is someone else's bad decision leads to lost privileges.

Sometimes they suffer because that's the way the world works. If you're playing a game and there is a winner, there is probably also a loser...and you're not going to win every time.

Sometimes they suffer because it's part of how they learn. Many times I've JUST finished a warning of a consequence to an action, and the consequence happens.

I could rescue my from their suffering, and often I do. I don't let Hope eat the legos, because it would be potentially deadly. But if I want them to learn and develop character, I have to let it happen.

It doesn't mean that I don't care. If anything, the opposite--my heart breaks as much or more than theirs. When bad things happen, I want to gather them into my arms and comfort them. And when you see them succeed, it's better than succeeding themselves.

So while I'm incredibly grateful for my three wonderful children, I'm also thankful for the opportunity to be a parent. My colleague never had children, so I'm not sure he'd get the analogies, but I sure do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful November: Grandma Holm

Today would have been my Grandma Holm's birthday. It's funny, Harmony was 4 when she passed away, but she often comments about how she misses her. She was a wonderful woman of faith, and definitely had a heart for serving the homeless. I'm thankful not only for her generosity and witness, but also that Henry and Harmony got to know her, though not as well as I would have liked.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful November: Hope

Yipee--Hope slept through the night last night! That's a task she's completed a grand total of 5 nights out of the 359 she's been alive. Too bad I didn't sleep through :)

Tomorrow I'm giving a message at our school's very brief religious chapel. I've posted variations on this topic before, but here's what I plan to say:

Hope came after two miscarriages, several failed attempts at hiring a replacement for me at work, three unproductive trips to the hospital, and five days after my due date. She was born in the midst of a painful decision to leave the church we had been involved in planting.

I think one reason I went into labor multiple times before having Hope was that I was pretty much convinced that she would be stillborn. Maybe it was the previous miscarriages, maybe it was the turmoil at church, but for whatever reason, I was pretty much expecting that Hope would be dead—with all the suffering we were going through, it would have fit right in.

But Hope wasn’t dead. She completely lives up to her name, and daily reminds me of the passage she was named from, Romans 5:2-5:

we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Every night at prayer time, Henry says something to the effect of “Thank you for today, and help tomorrow to be a better day.” Henry’s definition of a “better day” is generallly one where he gets to watch lots of TV, play on the internet, buy a new toy at the store, eat all his favorite junk...and do it all his way.

Even though I’m no longer 7 like Henry, sometimes my prayers sound like his too—-I want what I want, on my terms and in my timing. I still find myself special ordering my life, especially with timing. I definitely had my plans for additions to our family– “wouldn’t the fall of 2007 be nice? I’ll be on leave!” was cancelled via a late, missed miscarriage. My plan for Hope to be born today, on my grandmother’s birthday, didn’t work either, despite my attempts to “walk” the baby out.

So why don’t we get our way? Why do we need suffering anyway? Personally, God needed me to be broken so I could fully appreciate the gift I was getting. I don’t think I would have treasured the third (or my first or second) child had I not had the miscarriages. I wouldn’t have gotten the “pre-requisites” for hope—perseverance and character—had I not had all the prior labor. And her birth in the midst of turmoil and stress over church drama reminds me that really, God IS in all of the messiness of life. His timing IS perfect, even when it’s not mine.

And suffering does have purpose. Whoever said “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” hasn’t read the Bible carefully. God routinely gives people MORE than they can handle on their own—just look at Moses, Gideon, David. God gives us more than we can handle to turn us to Him.

OK. So suffering produces good things in our lives—it draws us to God, and produces endurance, character and hope. I can accept that. But what I find challenging is the line that comes before that. My first instinct is to pray against suffering, or that it be short. This passage definitely challenges that prayer life—We’re supposed to REJOICE!
Yippee! I lost my job!
Yippee! Someone I’m close to is very ill!
Yippee! I’m worried about the future!
That doesn’t seem like a natural response…maybe it’s just Paul talking again. But no, Jesus said it too, in Matthew 5:11-13:
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

I don’t know about you, but I find that challenging. I find it hard to bring up topics when I know it will open me up for attack, to willingly put myself in the line of fire, even when it's for a good cause.

But what I do know is what God has promised in these verses. He promises that suffering will refine us, developing us into the people He wants us to be. He promises His presence through the Holy Spirit. And he promises hope—hope that will not disappoint us.

So Hope was born a year ago, both literally and figuratively. And she continues to grow and bring joy daily, if not moment by moment. May you too have hope in your heart today—a hope not built on circumstances or possessions, but on God’s promises of his refinement, presence and glory.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Appropriate immune systems

Today I'm thankful for appropriate immune systems. While our family fights its share of germs, our immune systems are doing the right thing.

Two things make me particularly grateful for well behaved immune systems today. One of my student's sisters have a disorder that prevents their bodies from "doing the right thing" when they encounter germs, so they suffer from massive infections. On the other extreme, I used to suffer from ulcerative colitis--basically, my immune system was inappropriately attacking me. I am extremely thankful thatI was healed of this, and haven't had an attack since 2006.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thankful November: Students

I'm blessed to have some great students. Friday was our big fall semester recruiting weekend, and several of them did an excellent job interacting with prospective students. Here's hopping we succeed in bringing in another great group of students!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thankful November: Poppies

Poppies, poppies, poppies...

No, not from the Wizard of Oz.

Rather, the VFW was selling them at Walmart. They reminded me of my grandparents, and it brought back a wave of memories.

So though it's not veteran's day yet, I'm thankful for our veterans, especially my grandfather.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November Thankfulness: Harmony's birthday buddy

Harmony shares a birthday with another little girl--they were the only two born at our local hospital that day. Harmony spent the evening at her house tonight--our house was quiet without her.

I'm thankful that Harmony is color blind in her friendships--Emi is Hispanic, and other than noting that they look like the two girls in the Diamond Castle, I don't think she notices.

I'm thankful that Harmony has been praying that Emi decides to follow Jesus. She prays for Emi almost every night about this.

I'm thankful for the laughter and fun that fills our house when they're playing together on Mondays before dance.

Thanks for friends, Lord. Especially Emi. Thanks for Harmony's prayers for her friend. Let Harmony see you work in Emi's life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful November: Mrs. F

Five days into my daily thank you note adventure, and my list of people to say "thanks" to seems to be growing instead of shrinking!

Today was Mrs. F's birthday. Mrs. F is Henry's first grade teacher. Every time we tell someone that she's Henry's teacher, they gush, "She was the best teacher my child ever had!"

Mrs. F promotes working individually and doing your personal best. They have done research reports on dinosaurs and fish so far...this is first grade! One of the projects the class is working on for Christmas integrates entropeneurial-ship and compassion--they're designing and making packs of Christmas cards with their art teacher and selling them to parents. They'll calculate the expenses of making the cards, then use the profit to buy books and backpacks for Christmas presents for the Head Start kids.

So thanks, Mrs. F, for encouraging our kids to do their learn that learning is fun, and to develop compassion for others.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thankful November: The church across the street

While we're "free range" Christians right now, we've settled into some patterns. One of those patterns is that the kids are participating in a Wednesday afternoon Bible program at the church across the street, and I'm teaching the 3rd grade girls. I'm very thankful that this congregation has welcomed us in this capacity, and that they allow neighborhood children to use their playground. On Halloween Evening, I saw the Pastor and his wife walking down the "main drag" where >1000 Trick or Treaters show up, just to support the kids and families.

So church across the street, thank you for your witness to your neighbors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thankful November: Henry's cub scout leaders

Henry LOVES Cub Scouts. And while the pack (or is it den? whichever is the big group) is a pretty crazy bunch of over 50 boys, the leaders do a great job funneling their energy. They make learning fun, and promote character in only a way a Cub Scout leader can. The logistics can't be easy--especially the popcorn sale that is finishing right now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nov 2 thankfulness: benefactors

Today I'm thankful for a benefactor at my college that had the foresight to endow my area of specialty. The endowment has allowed the college to support work in an area it otherwise might not be able to do.

It makes me think about how I can make a difference with my donations. We sponsor a Compassion Child and regularly give to Samaritan's Purse. I also made calls to start a similar fund at my own alma mater.

So thanks, Mr. H, for all you've done for the institution I teach at!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thankful November

I've often done Thankful Thursdays at Grace Alone, but have fallen off the wagon. And somehow it's hard to focus on being Thankful on actual Thanksgiving I'm declaring November a month of thankfulness.

So today I'm thankful for my mom. She's been my laundry fairy, seamstress, childcare provider, cook, book reader, cookie baker...I'd say fairy godmother, but she's my fairy mom!

She willingly drove 700+ miles to our flu-infested house to take care of us.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

This isn't something we can repay, and being sick, we probably weren't as appreciative as we should have been. But Thank you, Thank you, Thank you mom!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Hope, Joy and Peace!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

This verse just really speaks to where I want to be right now. I'm thinking about Christmas cards, and man, joy is where it's at.

So I'm thankful for hope. And that hope gives us joy and peace as we trust in Him. And that no matter what else happens, that claim is ours by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Having faith

Last night I had my standard Saturday night "I wanna church home...but I just don't see it happening" pity party. This morning Hope was sleeping when it was time to go to church, so I stayed home with her. God reminded me of Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I have I just need to have faith. So I'm working on being certain of what I cannot see.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Homeless and wandering

I've never been homeless. But I've volunteered at a homeless shelter on a regular basis when I was in grad school, and I've felt spiritually homeless before.

One of the things about being homeless is that you're limited in how much stuff you can bring with you. You have to haul it around, using what you need each night and praying you don't forget something important before you leave the next morning.

So we're still church homeless. While we've got a rotation of church "couches" to crash on and even have figured out ways to use our gifts, we can't exactly unpack our luggage or get "comfortable" in a congregation.

It feels a little like we're the Israelites, wandering in the desert. I know God is bringing us somewhere, and I'm trying to not complain on the the way...but it's really hard. It's especially hard with kids in tow. We still haven't formally dedicated Hope, and Henry is probably ready to be baptised...if we had a place to do such things.

Sigh. Hopefully it won't take us 40 years to reach the promised land...

All for a bowl of stew

Genesis 25:29-34:
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright."

"Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"

But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

How often do we as Christians trade our birthright for a bowl of stew?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This year we planted two rows of peas, some beans, a couple cucumber plants, several cherry tomato plants, a dozen peppers (of various varieties) two zucchini plants (only one survived) and one summer squash.

I went easy on the squash. The first time my mom planted zucchini, she planted 20 hills...and we were eating jumbo zucchini in every possible form for a L O N G time.

But I must have went too easy on the squash...while we had tons of tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans, we had zero squash.

None. Zip, zero, zilch.

It wasn't that there weren't blooms--there seemed to be new ones every couple of days. I tried manually pollinating them, but that didn't seem to make a difference.

I'm feeling like a zucchini plant right now.

Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Without a close Christian community, I'm getting pretty dull and rusty, not to mention spritually barren. (And feeling like I'm the prior verses--A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day...who wants to be a drippy, annoying faucet?).

I'm not sure what to do about it. My "self-pollination" strategies obviously haven't worked. Our attempts to find a church community here haven't panned out. while we've figured out ways to use our gifts, I'm not sure how much fruit it's bearing.

But then again, plants don't bear fruit in every season. Maybe this is just winter. Here's looking forward to spring...

Lord, sharpen me. Bear fruit in me and through me. Help me be patient. I'm weary of waiting...give me endurance and perserverance.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm hungry, Lord. Feed me.
I need prayer. I need some good teaching.

This weekend God reminded me that the best way to get to feed someone else. Feeling lonely? Find someone lonelier than you and befriend them. Then neither of you will be lonely. Need some good Bible teaching? Volunteer to teach somewhere, and you'll get some good teaching. Need prayer? Pray for someone.

God's economy is totally upside down. The best way to get is to give.

So tonight I'll be getting to know the third grade girls...praying for them, reading the Bible with them, laughing with them, crying with them...being a teacher and a learner all at once.

Thanks, Lord, that your economy is totally different from the worlds. Equip me to both teach and learn, to minister to and be ministered to. Thanks for this opportunity, and may the investment have eternal returns.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary?

I don't know the exact date, but it's been about a year since we found out about the changes that were to happen at the donut church. When the pastor told us what he was doing, what unfolded over the course of the last year flashed in front of me--the broken relationships, people set a drift...and all I could do was cry.

We tried hard to stay, to help those we knew would be hurting. But in the end, we couldn't stay.

What I miss most is the community. We've been working at forming a community here, mostly by having people over for dinner. And while breaking bread together does make bonds, it's not the same as a community that prays with and for us.

I need that prayer. I know God has something for us here, but it's not coming together in the timeline I'd like.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Word Filled Wednesday--Provision

And to this day it is said,
"On the mountain of the LORD
it will be provided."
Genesis 22:14b

This is the view out my window right now. What a testament to God providing!

God provided a great husband who encouraged me to go.
God provided an obvious childcare provider for Hope so she can be with me.
God provided funding through a travel grant.
God provided a friend to drive me to the airport.
God provided me not only a pack and play, but also a ride to and from the airport!
(And now I'm trusting him to provide a ride home from the airport.)

Thanks, God, Jehovah Jireh, when you make your provision for me obvious. Thanks for the opportunity to be here and marvel at the wonders of Your hand and participate in this meeting. Help me trust that you do provide, even when it's not as obvious.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Word filled Wed--Scattered

Dandelion seeds are scattered to spread, well, dandelions.

Sometimes I think God scatters the church to do the same. Though I'm sure it was traumatic to the early Christians who were scattered at the beginning of Acts 8, it served an important purpose in spreading God's word in the "beyond".

I've recently met with some of the people who have been scattered from the donut church. While it's no fun to be scattered, God definitely had a purpose. One is being used in amazing ways with youth, and growing leaps and bounds. Another has had opportunities to lead in ways that would have never been possible at the donut church--too much history followed them there. And another has a much greater appreciation of other church leadership styles. They learned important things, were healed of baggage, and grew at the donut church, but they had to be scattered to really take root.

These meetings are bittersweet. While I'm happy for those who are planted and growing, I also have a twinge of "why not us?" Someday...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Babies might not be able to talk, but they definitely can communicate. Hope has several different cries. There is the "I'm so tired, I just want to go to bed" cry, which is distinct from the "I'm hungry" cry and the "I need to be changed" cry. She's recently added a strange, inhaling cry which means "I see something I want but can't get it" and the "where did you go?" cries.

We think we grow out of that, but I don't. I read Psalm 77 earlier, as I was pondering ths. I cry out to God for the same reasons Hope does--I'm hungry, God. I'm dirty, I need you to clean me and change my heart. I can see your kingdom but can't reach it. I can't see you right now--show yourself to me.

Maybe that makes me a baby Christian. Or maybe it just makes me human. But either way, the psalmist gives some good suggestions when I'm crying out to God. I can remember all the good things God has done in the past. I can testify to his past provision and His mighty arm. I can trust that His love and compassion unfailing.

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.

You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
"Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

Lord, change me. Feed me through your word. Show me Your face. I thank you for all the ways you have provided for us, and for teaching us through our children.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Psalm 77

1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.

5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
7 "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

10 Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:11-13

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thankful Thursday--Poop

I remember when I became a mom, and a fellow new mom commented about how much more time poop now dominated our thoughts.

What she didn't know was how much poop already dominated my thoughts.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I don't know if it was a proper diagnosis--I was under a lot of stress, mostly due to a sinful relationship I was in with a coworker in my research group.

It was pretty mild at first, but continued to get worse despite various medications. I was on Prednisone for most of my pregnancy with Harmony, and still having horrible symptoms. I could tell you where every bathroom was in every public place. It got to the point where I stole diapers from the baby if we were going for a walk farther than a half block from our house. Nothing like having bloody diarrhea in the middle of a Walmart to bring you to your knees.

But I don't know that I really prayed about it, other than the "Oh God, not now!" and "Why me, Lord?"

One day in our Life Group, we opened by each silently reading a Psalm, then choosing a verse to share with the group. I read Psalm 6, and I was just totally overcome when I read verses 3 and 4: "My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love." I basically sat there crying through the rest of the small group.

When it was prayer time, we divided into smaller groups of men and women. I shared how much these verses had affected me. The leader asked, "So how long have you been praying for healing?" and my answer was, well, I don't know that I ever have.

So they prayed for me, laying hands on me and specifically praying that I be healed. I don't know that I felt better when we left, but gradually over the next two weeks, I went from 10-15 trips to the bathroom a day to two or three. One of the people who prayed for me followed up, and I said it was better but not perfect, and she prayed that God would complete his healing.

And He did.

I've been symptom free since then. While the doctors will describe it as remission, I'm taking no maintenance medications, and I know that it's not remission, but that God has healed me.

So this week I'm thankful for the power of prayer, that God really still does heal people when they seek Him, that the Kingdom of God can break through into this broken and fallen world.

And I'm thankful for poop. Normal, plain ol' poop.


Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

"Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:5-7

I don't know about you, but I'm much better about recalling the bad than how God has provided for me. Like every time I see our dining room light, I remember the argument we had with our friend who faithfully helped us with our house for several years. And I know that every time I see this video, I'll be reminded of all the things I did wrong taking it--I should have panned out so you could see Harmony, I missed the first chord, etc.

What I need to be focusing on is how God has already provided for me--like putting Tom in our life for a season when we really needed that help and coaching, for giving us the opportunity to see Justin Roberts three times in one weekend, all free, and countless other ways He's provided in our lives.

So I'm going to try to erect some Ebenezers to remind me of how far the Lord has helped me. But instead of piles of rocks, they'll be testimonies here in my blog. If you want to add your ebenezer, just post a link in the comments!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Word filled Wednesday--harvest

"He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Luke 10:2

Bring spiritual fruit into our children's lives, Lord. Raise them up to be harvesters of souls, not just strawberries, even now.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Today we went to a christening (infant baptism) for a friend's baby. That was tough...a definte reminder of not having a church family to dedicate Hope in.

So after some mis-directed anger and a few tears, I got over it. More like, God reminded me that Hope isn't my child or even our child, but God's.

There is no reason we can't invite to our house to dedicate Hope to God. It's not the place, it's the people--us committing to raise Hope in the Lord, and our friends promising to help us and pray for her (and us).

It definitely makes all these things more work....but maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Word Filled Wednesday

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

Henry got a Bible of his own on Sunday. Tonight I asked Henry to find a book to read...and he picked his Bible. He really wanted to read Ephesians, chapter 4 (this is the exact passage he read). I'm pretty sure he picked the passage from a Bibleman reference, but it is soooo cool to see God working in your child's life!

Lord, thank you for working in Henry's heart and giving him the desire to read your Word for himself. Thanks that you promise that it will not return to you empty, but will accomplish what you desire and achieve the purpose for which you sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Help us to nurture that, and thanks for letting us see it.

See more Word Filled Wednesdays HERE!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Training 'em up

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I'm excited that my peas are doing well--they taste so much better straight out of the garden! Part of growing peas includes training them onto a trellis. As they grow, they send out little suckers, that upon contact, wrap themselves around whatever they're touching--netting, a stick, another plant, even themselves. If they anchor to some kind of trellis, they'll be more upright, bear more fruit, and avoid diseases. When they wrap around themselves, it gets to be a tangled mess.

Maybe parenting is a bit like gardening--you plant the seeds and watch them grow, and pray they bear fruit. You offer scaffolding, untangle them from themselves, and encourage them to attach to the trellis and pray for strength and health.

We ordered a Bible for Henry. He's reading really well (He's read "James and the Giant Peach" and "How to Eat Fried Worms" in school). It's time we give him his own trellis. I'm looking forward to studying with him this summer!

Thanks for growth in our garden and in our children, Lord. Let them attach to You.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms out there--Happy Mother's Day! It really is the toughest job you'll ever love.

To those who have suffered miscarriages or are experiencing infertility--((((Hugs)))).

To those of you who want to be moms someday--enjoy today, and say thanks to your own mom, whether you have a great relationship or not.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby food

Chiquita has started eating baby food. It's pretty messy--I think she's wearing more than she's consuming. she's on the single flavors--rice cereal, oatmeal, peas, beans. It takes her three meals to finish one jar (I only take out a tablespoon at a time).

I started a new Bible study a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like I'm back to baby food--pre-chewed. I'm learning interesting things, but I'm bristling at the format--I'd rather be inducting myself, and videos are just awkward. I'm also feeling like I must not be a woman--the subtheme is "It's hard to be a woman _______" and the issues discussed so far (in another woman's shadow, when beauty is a treatment and in a mean world) just don't fit where I'm at.

But what I miss mose is prayer. We don't pray at all, and it just feels empty. Other than the women I already knew, I don't even know anyone's names, let alone how I can pray for them.

What I need is a life group--where the emphasis is more on praying for each other. God's shown me the direction my study time should take, and Esther isn't really it.

(And it doesn't help that I feel like a distraction, since Hope is with me and she's starting to fade by that time of day.)

So do I stick it out or try to organize a prayer group? I don't want to take people away from their home churches, and I do know a couple of other women that are "church homeless" that I could invite.

So if you could pray for me, then let me know what you hear, that would be great...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

30 Day Shred

A while ago, I was looking for an intense, 20-30 minute workout to help me lose the last 10 lbs of baby fat/flab, and I found the 30 Day Shred. It sat on my shelf for a while, but I got around to trying it. It's definitely a work out!

Vicki at Virtue Alert has organized a bunch of people who are shredding together. One of the other blogs I read, The Preacher's Wife, is also participating, and her post about not phoning it in on the spiritual realm struck me.

I can either let myself wallow in self pity about our church homelessness state, and drift aimlessly. Or I can seek out what God has for us in this time.

So besides stepping up the physical 30 day shred, I'm going on a spiritual 30 day shred, starting next Sunday, May10. I haven't figured out what exactly the spiritual shred is going to look like, but I know that God has already laid on my heart the persecuted church--people who not only don't have a church home, but can't publicly seek one.

Lord, I don't want to phone in my spiritual life. Show me what steps to take to get into spiritually better shape.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

God is not Burger King

Today I realized how wrong I've been for praying what I've been praying. "I want a church home, God. One with good worship. One where Mr. Theophilus and I can use our gifts. With a good Kid's program. Here, not somewhere else. And I'd like it now."

I forgot that God isn't Burger King--you can't special order your life, and it doesn't arrive in less than five minutes.

We went to church at the Mother Church of the Donut Church today. Every time we go, the message is spot on, and our kids end up being the last ones in Kid's Church because we've gone up for prayer. Once again it was right on--you know it's a God thing when someone you don't know points to exactly what the issues are.

They're starting a series on 1 Peter. The message today focused on how to pray in adversity, how to not be tossed around by your circumstances. The answer was to pray NOT for the answer you've generated, but to pray for wisdom and the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control) using Scripture itself.

That's my root problem--I'm so focused on our circumstances that I've forgotten the relationship.

There are millions of Christians around the world who don't have church homes, who not only don't have a home, but live in fear of persecution.

Again, it's not about me. If I get my eyes off me and my circumstances and focus on God, everything will fall into home or not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday--Bible Study

This week I started a new Bible Study at a community Women's Resource Center. Since I don't have a church home, I've been needing the accountability and encouragement to spend time in the Word, and hopefully find some community too.

I was half an hour late--it was on the same day as I have a late meeting (I knew I was going to be late and e-mailed the leader in advance.) I brought Chiquita with me, as we're still nursing, and I can't pump enough for daytime and evening (not to mention that I miss her!)

So I was late. I was stressed. I felt like the baby was distracting. I'm not used to the video format or that we didn't pray for each other at the end.

But God still met me there--He reminded me of truths I had memorized, and the value of a mustard seed's worth of faith.

So this week I'm thankful for:
--Jeannie, for the vision of starting a Community Women's Resource Center
--The presence of this organization, providing counseling and Bible studies for women of all different denominations
--The opportunity to study God's word
--The freedom we have to study, with our very own Bibles and without the worry of persecution or imprisonment

You can share your thanks with Laurie at Women Taking a Stand.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday night struggle

One of the most challenging things about not having a church home is the Saturday Night debate...where are we going to church this week? Before we left the donut church, we were having four day hangovers recovering from attending, and now we have the one day panic attack the day (or hours) before.

There aren't a ton of churches here, yet that almost makes it harder. Where haven't we tried? The hard thing is that we're between charismatic and evangelical, and neither fits us.

Although I've been moving slowly, I am still working my way through Acts. Acts 2:1 really struck me: "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place."

First of all, when I think of Pentecost, I think of the story of Acts--tongues of flames on everyone's heads, speaking in other people's native languages. What I don't think about is why were they all gathered together? I know they were sharing everything, but even sow, just because you're sharing doesn't mean you spend every moment together. Turns out that Pentecost is also a holiday for Jews...the Feast of Weeks, the holy day celebrating the first fruits. That is just too cool, that the first fruits of the Christian "Passover" was the gift of the Holy Spirit!

The other thing that strikes me is that the unity in the church--there weren't separate churches for Peter, for Mark, for Luke, etc. This week I'm starting a Bible Study through a women's center here in town. I'm looking forward to getting know some other Christian women in town...and maybe find a church home too.

Thanks for giving us the first fruit of the Holy Spirit--of reversing the gifting and giving us the gift. Help us find a church home.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ex voyeurism

A friend posted a high school meme on Facebook, and one of the questions was "are you still in contact with your prom date?"

My answers were no and no. Considering prom was the only time I ever went out with my junior prom date (and he asked me in a note), I don't even remember his last name.

But it did make me curious about my senior prom date. We met through 4-H; he lived in a neighboring town, about 15 minutes away. We dated my entire senior year, then I broke it off because I didn't want to be dating someone at college.

Amazingly enough, a quick Google search brought him up, along with his wedding page and he and his wife's (well, really only his wife's) blog. I was glad to hear that he's an electrical engineer, happily married, and running marathons. His younger sister has dyed her hair blonde and is as beautiful as ever. And strangely enough, his daughter was born a couple of days before our Chilita.

I was happy for him--happy things are going well, that he's healthy and has a family.

I didn't have the same response when I've been reading about our old church. They're moving into a new building, and I have a twinge of jealousy about not helping paint. They had a leader's retreat, and part of me thought I should have been laying on the blanket in the sun with friends between sessions. I want to have a church community, and I don't. At least not one that meets on Sunday mornings, or that I see on a regular basis.

So I guess I'm feeling like a dumped prom date. I know eventually we'll find a church home here, and the jilted feelings will fade...I hope someday I can be happy for the donut church, and not feel any of the negatives.

Bless the new donut church as they transition into a new building, and heal our wounds. Show us where you want us, and make us willing to go there.

Monday, April 6, 2009

First communions?

Even though we've had the "just friends" conversation with the neighborhood church and I don't think we'll be there long term, God and our children might have other plans.

Both kids have now had their first communion there.

In the church I grew up in, your first communion was a ritual of fifth grade. After a four week series of classes (including making a special altar decoration and the unleavened bread for the week), we all went down the aisle and had our first communion together (with our families, of course).

While I'm glad for the seriousness that my childhood church took in making sure everyone knew what communion was all about, it was a little artificial. Some children have professed faith years before fifth grade, while others are just going through the motions to make their parents happy.

The neighborhood church is fairly open about communion--the liturgy before communion is something like "all who have placed their trust in Jesus are welcome," and my kids have taken that literally. At the Sunday night service in February, I thought the kids were hitting the snack table while I took communion (Hubby was in the band), but AllBoy had other plans--he jumped in line behind me and took it. Afterwards we had a long talk about communion and what it means--he understood it and wanted to do it, so we decided it was ok.

This Sunday, Princess did a similar thing. On Saturday, we had a long talk about what happens after you die (sparked by the death of a friend's dog), including a profession of faith by Princess. On Sunday in morning church, she wanted to take communion we let her. Though the three minutes she had to hold the cup before everyone was served must have seemed like an eternity to both of us--her because she was so eager, me because I was afraid she was going to spill it!

So I'm taking Jesus at his word... "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Thanks, Lord, for leading my children to you. May their faith have deep roots and last a lifetime.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

And the winner is...

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-04-06 03:27:51 UTC

So Jonell, the PotBelly card is yours...I don't think I have your snail mail addy, so please send it to me! Thanks everyone for playing...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Side lined

Last night my mom showed me some things she had picked out of a catalog for my Sunday School class...which I'm no longer teaching.

Ugh. It feels like I've been sidelined. Hubby has picked up a Sunday night worship gig (before all this fell apart), so he's got an outlet for using his spiritual gifts. I'm very glad for that. And while I'll occasionally generate a lesson to use with our kiddos (and sometimes their friends) it does feel strange to be out of the game.

Not getting to use our gifts was a contributing reason for not going back to the church we were attending before we went on sabbatical. And I'm sure that no matter where we go next, it'll be a while before I'd be allowed to teach Sunday School. But I'm itching to be back in the game.

Give us opportunities to serve You and use the gifts you've given us, Lord.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Breakin' up is hard to do...

Although we've been estranged for a while, we have yet to have the "break up" conversation with our old pastor. It's like that dating relationship that should have ended a couple of months ago, but drags on...though both parties know it's over.

I knew it was time for us to finalize things when I found myself wanting to toss the Manderin Orange Bath and Body Works body wash and Cool Citrus Basil lotion that I got as "thank you's" for teaching at the donut church. And wondering who I could give the gift card to a restaurant that isn't even in my town (another "Thank You" gift). Kind of like cleaning house after a break up.

Hubby was going to bring a letter and have the conversation yesterday, but his car started acting funny--it wouldn't go over 40 mph, then would rev up to 3000 rpm. Instead he headed home. We took it as a sign that yesterday wasn't the day.

So I'll hold onto the body wash a little longer...but does any one want a PotBelly Sandwich gift card? My best guess is that it has $5 on it. I tried to check the balance, but the calculator didn't work. If you're interested, please leave a comment with an e-mail address, and if there is more than one person interested, I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for evidence of spiritual growth in my children, despite not having a regular church home. I'm specifically thankful for:
--AllBoy's weekend report being all about going to church
--AllBoy praying for Princess to be healed from her cough and fever in a hands-on and faith-filled way
--Princess talking about Jesus right and left. Tonight she was asking about seeing Jesus, and how she couldn't wait to get to heaven to see him face to face.

Lord, I thank you for spiritual growth in my children, and for showing it to me.

Just friends

We had to have a "just friends" conversation with a pastor a couple of weeks ago. We've visited several times, and hubby plays for a monthly Sunday night service, and they were excited about a new young family.

And while we've worshipped there, it's not going to be our home church--it's a place holder while we're seeking God. It's two blocks from our house, so it's convenient.

So we had the "just friends" conversation, and it went well...though it's a strange one to have with a church!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Church history

We have an interesting trend in our church attendance history:

Church #1: we attended here when we were dating until we moved. Our first Sunday was their groundbreaking for a new building. They met in the gym of a church school, and moved into the new building the year we were married (the gym wasn't really ready in time for our reception, but we had it there anyway!) They went through a huge transition during this time, with explosive growth. I was a middle school youth counselor, and my husband was on worship team and was worship minister for awhile.

Church #2: met in the Boy's and Girl's Club when we first started attending, and moved into a new building shortly before we moved. I really learned to study my Bible, but we were not well accepted because of my education level and occupation.

Church #3: We knew we were living in this town for only a year, so we wanted to plug in quickly to a church. The church met in a movie theater, then a school gym. They were transitioning from being a college church to a community church.

Church #4: During the year we were attending church #3, we felt called to continue going to that denomination, even if it meant driving an hour on Sundays. The day we committed to that, we discovered a new church listed in a town only 25 miles away. We didn't think it was real--the phone number had the wrong area code, and we both knew that town really well. We called, and that Sunday had been the contact's last Sunday at the old church; they were planting a brand new church. Their first activity was the day after we moved back to the area. We were as close to being on the plant team without moving with the team, though there was a distinct division between leadership that came from the mother church and the "townies". We were life group leaders, I taught kids' church (and coordinated the curriculum) and hubby played on the worship team. We easily could have been "lifers" there, never leaving that church.

So what patterns emerge?
--We must like setting up chairs, since most of these churches have not had buildings and had to set up/tear down each week.
--God has been very active and present, moving these churches to new/different levels.
--Serving is important to us; it's not enough to be a member of the congregation, we need to be actively using our skills.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Moving on

'May another take his place of leadership.' Acts 1:20, quoting Psalm 109:8

Acts 1 ends with the disciples replacing Judas. First they set the criteria, then nominated two men, and finally sought the Lord by casting lots.

Some days I wonder how the donut church has replaced all of us who have left--the worship leader, key board player, singer, hospitality coordinator, several life group leaders and kids' church teachers. They obviously have...I pray they've had smooth transitions.

Lord, I pray for the donut church and for all the new leaders there. May they seek you first, and may You be glorified there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday--Freedom

I grew up going to a mainline church. During grad school, I realized that I was looking to people to provide what only God could. I decided to "marry" Jesus--that He would be my one and only. I set a date, wrote a ceremony, and even bought a special ring.

A couple of months later, I was contemplating dating someone. I wasn't sure if I should or not--did marrying Jesus mean I couldn't marry a human? Was it the equivalent of committing to be a nun? As I prayed about it, I didn't think that it did, but I didn't want to mess up my relationship with Jesus.

As part of my bedtime routine, I always hooked my ring through my watch and set it on the dresser. One morning, the ring was no where to be found. Not on the dresser, under the dresser, under the bed, anywhere. It was like the ring had just disappeared into thin air! Even two years later when I moved out of the house and could really look everywhere, it was no where to be found.

I took that as a sign that I was free to be in a human relationship...and married my now-husband of more than ten years.

So this week I'm thankful for God's amazing way of freeing me from that concern, and making it clear to me who I should marry!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I bought some potting soil tonight--I want to start some tomatoes, peppers and herbs to put in our garden. They'll start indoors, under a grow light with lots of fertilizer and regular waterings. Once they're well established and it's warmer outside, we'll move them to the garden.

If you leave them in the little pots, they won't flower and bear fruit, and if they do, it's pretty wimpy. The roots need a bigger pot to grow in. It's a little stressful on the plant to move, and it can take some time to acclimate. It's recommended that you set the plants outside for a couple of days before actually transplanting them, to help them get used to life outdoors.

I was talking to a friend this week who also moved on from our former church. We talked about how much we had grown at the donut church, and how we missed life group. This image of transplanting a plant popped in my head, and it fit. They had grown leaps and bounds, and were freed of some spiritual bondage during that time. But others in the church didn't necessarily realize that. While getting uprooted was painful, they've been transplanted into a bigger pot, and are growing and starting to integrate, taking on bigger roles than would have been available at the donut church.

God, I'm ready to move off the porch and be planted somewhere. Help us bear fruit and flourish where ever you have for us.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the beginning

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Inigo Montoya is on a mission to find the six fingered man, but has taken a job with Vizzini to pay the bills. After being bested by The Man in Black, Inigo does what Vizzini said--if things fall apart, go back to the beginning. When told to leave by a member of the Brute Squad, he refuses, saying, "Well, this is where we got the job, so it's the beginning. And I am staying till Vizzini comes."

That sounds exactly like what the disciples did. Jesus tells them to hang out in Jerusalem until they get the Holy Spirit, then disappears into the sky. But rather than drinking themselves into oblivion, like Inigo did, they prayed.

This wasn't a dinner prayer; it was a continual supplication. Show us what we're supposed to do, Lord. Send this Holy Spirit thing you've told us about.

That's where we're at too. Ironically, our Wednesday night small group Bible study (of other people in the same boat) is meeting at the house where we first started. On Sunday morning, after the weekly"can't we go back to the church with donuts" conversation, Patrick explained that just like God told Noah to build a boat, God told Mommy and Daddy we're not to go back to the church with donuts, and we're obeying. But now we need to pray and listen closely to see where God wants us to go...or if He wants us to start a house church.

So we visited a church in our Jerusalem (we've been commuting to Samaria for church). The worship was ok, the sermon was good, a little more Pentacostal than we're used to (a time for speaking in tongues during the service, forced raising of hands), but they're growing and Spirit filled.

So we'll continue to pray and listen...back to the beginning, you could say.

Give us ears to hear and eyes to see...and patience to wait for your call.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saying goodbye

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

I hate goodbyes. I hate even anticipating goodbyes--somehow knowing it's coming is worse. I especially don't like being the one left behind--it's much easier to be the one going than the one staying home.

I don't think the disciples saw this one coming. I can see them staring into the sky, thinking, "what just happened?? Where did He go? Didn't he just come back? Will he be back again?"

We just said good bye to a church. It's the first time we've left without knowing where we were going first, so it's a little unsettling. It's also unsettling in that we felt so strongly called to it, then so strongly repelled by it. So I kind of feel like those disciples, wondering, "what just happened here???"

At least the disciples had the angels to explain it. While we don't have that reassurance, we do know God is still moving and working among us, and if we're lucky, we'll get to see his return.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Help us keep looking for what you're doing and join in, church family or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

I'm thankful that we don't know everything...and that's ok.
I'm thankful that God is God, and He is the one with authority.
I'm thankful that we WILL receive power WHEN the Holy Spirit comes. Our God is not an if/then, He is a WILL/WHEN!
I'm thankful that we're sent in concentric rings--first where we are, then to our neighbors, then to the ends of the earth.

And I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my thankfulness with the blogging community at Grace Alone--thanks for hosting, Iris!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not getting it

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6

They didn't get it. Even after Jesus conquered death and spent a bunch of time explaining the upside down priorities of the kingdom of God, they still thought he would restore and rule Israel as a physical nation.

Sometimes I don't get it either. It couldn't have been more obvious that we were to go to our last church...but God's purpose in that was neither for that to be our forever church home, nor to plant a church in our town out of that church.

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

Jesus knew they didn't get it. But he knew explaining it wouldn't help...instead he sent his Spirit to empower them.

Send your spirit, Lord. Empower us to do Your will, not ours.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going to church vs. being a church

One day I hit a spiny bush and got a thorn in the back of my hand. I thought I got it out, but over the next three years, a lump formed in the area, and eventually it burst, expelling the embedded thorn.

I'm discovering that attending a church without being part of a church is kind of like that can hang out for a while, but sooner or later you'll be expelled. When it's done right, church isn't something you can just attend. It's a body; either you're a part of it, or you're a foreign object, and sooner or later you'll be rejected.

This is really challenging when you have kids; even though our most recent church no longer exists, we're trying to give them at least some consistency in church attendance. We've been going to a church in our neighborhood on a semi-regular basis, but Hubby and I know what it's not going to be our church home--we're just attending.

But even our 4.75 year old daughter knows it's not our church home--she asks me several times a week, "Mommy, when are we going to the church with donuts?"

The donut church was more than a place that we attended on Sunday morning; we were a part of the body. And even if we were only a fingernail, it hurts when you get ripped out....even when you're only four. And although we see some of those people on a regular basis, it's different having lunch instead of worshipping with them.

So that's our challenge right now--to figure out where God is moving in our community, and plug into that church body...even if that means building our own.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Kingdom of God

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

It is so cool that Jesus talked to the apostles about the Kingdom of God. One of the things I love the most about the Vineyard Church is it's emphasis on the Kingdom of God. I had originally planned to write a series of Kid's Church lessons on the Kingdom of God for this spring, but that's not happening, at least not for the time being.

So what might Jesus have talked to them about? Perhaps he explained all the things he had already told them, like:
--the parable of the seed and the soil (Mark 4)
--the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4)
--it's righteousness within you (Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17)

Lord, we want to see your kingdom come in powerful ways. Send your spirit to make our soil fertile and give us that grain of faith to live out what you've called us to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dead or alive?

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. Acts 1:3a

A friend's grandmother passed away this weekend. She's having a hard time convincing her six year old son that great grandma is dead--he thinks she's on vacation in Europe.

Imagine how hard it would be to convince adults that the reverse was true--Jesus ISN'T dead, at least not any more.

I saw him die.
I helped bury him.
Someone must have robbed the grave.
You're an imposter--dead is DEAD.

I wonder, what were the convincing proofs Jesus gave? We know he showed Thomas the nailmarks. He probably continued just being Jesus, healing the sick, bringing sight to the blind, and totally turning over their definition of what the Kingdom really is.

Butthe most convincing testimony was the Holy Spirit...the same Holy Spirit that gives us a glimpse of that other Kingdom, that gives us a mustard seed of faith that blooms and grows.

Jesus isn't on vacation in Europe; he's alive and well!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sitting in the dark

Tonight the wind was blowing, and blowing HARD. Hard enough that the power went out...and we were suddenly sitting in the dark. It was a little bit scary, to say the least.

It made me think of the first Christians after the cruxifiction--what's happened? How'd we end up in the dark? Is He ever coming back?

They were scared. They were angry. And they didn't even have the reassurances we have in the New Testament, that Jesus IS returning, and this world is His...He just doesn't do it our way.

We eventually lit some candles, and our eyes got used to dark, and tried to make do. It's hard to hang out in the dark for long.

So tonight I pray that the Light comes soon, that the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing.

Thankful Thursday: Act 1

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach... Acts 1:1

What I love about this passage is the word "began". Jesus' ministry on earth was just the beginning--more was to come. It wasn't over when He died on the cross or even when he ascended into heaven; it was just the beginning...Act 1, you could say.

So with this first post, I'm thankful that God's not done with us yet, that He continues to send his presence and work through us.