Saturday, July 28, 2007

Going home

“This is a nice place. If you sit here long enough, they bring you some coffee and a cookie, and they won’t take my money. They say it’s gratis.”

My grandmother was in the dining room when I found her, eating her dessert from an early dinner. She told me that she was on a trip, and this was not her home.

You’re right, Grandma. This is not our home. Soon you’ll be home with grandpa…and we’ll meet you there soon enough.

How appropriate!

My Bible memory verse this week from http://www.biblememory.usa/:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Can we be excused? Our brains are full.

We're at a training conference for Alpha. When we first started going to RVC, someone said that we'd be great at leading it, and since we've never been involved with it, we thought it might be useful to learn more about it. It is a great evangelism tool, and it really follows the Vineyard way of doing stuff. We also went to a session about a Marriage class/workshop--it's 7 weeks of "date nights"--you serve a nice dinner and do a lesson where all the conversations are within the couple, so it's like a date night with a purpose. There's a real need for that at our church too--so many of the leaders are younger couples who in the last year have moved, started new jobs, planted a church, and had babies--that's a lot of stress for anyone. And if those marriages aren't healthy, it can have ripple effects throughout the entire church's ministry.

But we are only two people, with our own family and marriage that needs attending to. So we both feel like we have more questions than we came with, and not very many answers--Alpha or the Marriage course? At our house or at church? What first, if anything? We did get some clarification at prayertime last night, but we definitely need more :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Invitation

Today we went to Mercy Vineyard Church in Minneapolis. It was planted by the same church as ours, about two years earlier. It was great to worship with them. The message was about Isaiah 58, which highlights why you have to be serving the poor to fully experience God. It was a powerful and motivating message. Then we had an awesome brunch with my brother, Mark, and saw Harry Potter in 3D :)

In my last pout I mentioned dealing with not being, I am self centered. Both Matthew and Luke describe a more important feast, where people will come from the east and the west and feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but those on the outside will weep and gnash their teeth.

Wow. It's my (and your) job to invite people to the party. I don't think I've been doing a very good job, so I'm excited about this Alpha training.

Lord, help me to be a good inviter to your great feast. Use this training to equip us to do a better job of talking to our neighbors about You.

One if by train...

Yesterday was train day of our adventure! It was a 12 hr ride with a one hour layover in Chicago--if we had driven, it would have been about 10 hours of driving, with who knows how many hours of layovers, potty breaks, and run around time. There was an amazing amount of room in the seats on the Superliner--it was better than first class on an airplane, so the kids had lots of room to play. The kids had a good time giggling, looking out the windows, coloring, exploring the train, playing computer games and generally hanging out. We put them in their jammies when the sun went down, and they both fell asleep--Harmony spread out across the seats, and Henry on the floor. I hope all went well when they got to Fargo. There was a church group traveling in the same car as us, and I found a student who was willing to help my mom get the kids and all the stuff (three backpacks, two carsesats, a bag, and my mom's suitcase) off the train.

I actually really enjoyed the train--I had a much better time with the kids than if we had been driving. Patrick described it as "mind numbing", but I thought it was relaxing. And $600 for 4 people sounds a lot better than the $1600 it would have been to fly!

One thing I'm struggling with...argh! I don't think I can write about it without some of you knowing what it is! All right, pray for my attitude when I'm not included. I couldn't have gone anyway, and I know how hard it is to include everyone in everything, so I don't know why it nags at me!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Prayer request

We're traveling by train to MN tomorrow. The kids and my mom are continuing to my parent's farm, while Patrick and I stay in the Twin Cities for a couple of days. We'll reunite in Sioux Falls, then drive out to my aunt and grandma's in Rapid City. Then drive back to the Cities and take the train home. 28 hrs by train, 18 by car in 10 days. Please pray for:
--the train connections to be on time
--us to all get along for that long in confined spaces
--ways to occupy the kids with no whining (by us or them!)
--good times with my grandma--she hasn't seen the kids in two years, and she's 91.

Thanks, and see you in August!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for:
--Laurel's yummy virtual brownies and cookies--no cal are the best! Thanks for hosting this week!
--Community. I've been feeling a little lonely this week, as a good friend and I have been having alternating vacations and I miss her!
--"Duddley Pippin and the No Friend Club" and "Glad to have a Friend like You" from Free to Be You and Me--Jonell, you gotta listen to it! (it's free on Rhapsody though you may have to download the player.) It reminds me that even on my lonely days, I have friends.
--That when we get to heaven, we'll really have a community!
--For my high school's student commitment and excitement about learning--it's so fun to see that again!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

My superheros! (I'm afraid all the great shots of our Chicago trip were on Patrick's non-digital 3D camera...)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Feet washing

It's summertime. The kids want to live in their sandals (or better yet, bare feet). Needless to say, their feet get pretty dirty, and some nights there just isn't time for a bath...and even then, you have to wash their feet before they get in or the bath water turns instantaneously black! I still haven't succeeded in getting Henry's toenails completely clean. And man, the can smell Henry's feet in the front seat when he's sitting in the back row of the car some evenings!

It made me think about Jesus washing the disciple's feet. I bet they were really dirty and stinky too. But rather than complaining about it, he washed the willingly.

He does that with our dirty, stinky sins too--he washes them white as snow with his blood. And if he can do that, then how should I respond to stinky sins in other's lives? Should I take the high road and avoid them? Complain about about the stink? Or help them up onto the counter, turn on the water, and help them get the stuff that's stuck between their toes?

Thanks for washing my stinky feet, Jesus. Help me bring others to you.

Friday, July 13, 2007

From the Micah Challenge

On June 7, Bishop Desmond Tutu addressed the G8 leaders at Kirchentag, a big church festival in Germany right before a G8 meeting with African leaders. Here is a portion of his talk:

I am not an object of pity.
I am a man.
I was created in the image of God.
I am precious with a preciousness that cannot be measured.
I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
I am redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ my Saviour.
You leaders ask me, what I need, what I want.
Well, I am asking you the same:
What do you need? What do you want?
I want the same!

Referring to Luke 16:19-31,

Yes, I may lie at your gate,
covered in the soil of poverty,
in the sores of HIV and AIDS,
in the sores of hunger,
in the sores of ignorance.
Remember Lazarus and the rich man
and what happened afterwards.
I am a child of God.
I am not a step-child of God.
I am an African.
I am your brother.

Duing Sept 2000, all 189 countries of the UN signed the Millenium Development, which broadly had a goal to end global poverty by 2015. July 7 marked the midpoint of the timeframe, and so far, we're going backwards. But here is one of the targets that we can help with:

Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

'The children most likely to drop out of school or to not attend at all are those from poorer households or living in rural areas. For example, nearly a third of children of primary school age in rural areas of the developing world are out of school, compared with 18 per cent of children in the same age group living in cities."

If you're wondering what you can do, take advantage of the Back to School sales and assemble some School Kits for World Vision. With BTS sales, I'm betting each kit costs under $2, yet will enable a child to attend school who otherwise might not be able to. It's kind of a "for lack of a nail the battle was lost"--except in this case it's a pencil. I'm going to send some out in August, and if you want me to send yours with mine, just let me know and I'll get a bigger box :)

If you want to get on this mailing list, check out The Micah Call, sign the petition and sign up for the weekly news letter :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thankful Thursday

Lots to be thankful for this week!
--For our wonderful children, and that they were so well behaved on our trip.
--For an exceptionally great meal at May Street Market--they were so accomodating with the kids. It was a real treat.
--For my husband being a trooper and taking care of the kids while I was at my meeting sessions.
--For long lost friends and the opportunity to re-connect.
--For Bible verses that just resonate with your life--thanks, Bible Memory program!


We're back from our trip. We routinely have "re-entry" issues when either one or both of use have been gone, and I'm sure this will be no exceptions. So pray for us!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I think I need a vacation...
from getting ready for this trip! I have a meeting in Chicago tomorrow and Tuesday, and was up until 2 am trying to get ready for it and Sunday School's hoping we have everything we need! I'm not bringing the computer, so no blogging until's hoping I don't go through withdrawl!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Out of the mouths of preschoolers...
(why can't I title my posts anymore?)

Henry, as we drive by a cemetery: "Harmony, that's a seminary. That's where your body goes when you die."
Harmony, during prayer time: "Thanks that we can [got to] see the Statue of Delivery."

Friday, July 6, 2007

What's the saying? I can resist anything except temptation??

I've actually done pretty well on my goals for the month (one week down!)--no consumption of the six C's (cookies, cake, colas, chips, chocolate, and candy) and eating half as much as I normally do. I definitely am HUNGRY!

It definitely is requiring me to exercise a muscle of mine that has become flabby--my will power. During the workday it's easy because there isn't any food around, but it's more challenging at home. We've been to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I did resist the chips. More challenging is the cookie department--I baked off some dough for a friend yesterday, and Patrick put in a request for some Monster Cookies--I made a quarter batch (which still takes up 3 cookie sheets!) with the caveat that he had to take them to work.

So why am I doing this? Well, a couple of reasons. First is the 40 Day Fast. I'm not doing 40 Days, but I do want to align myself more closely with those who are suffering real hunger. The second is that I've found myself turning to food instead of to God when I'm frustrated. They aren't big frustrations, but if I'm going to the kitchen instead of to prayer, it's an idol and I need to get rid of it. So in that way, I'm doing it more for the reasons that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 9:27: No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Food is a hard idol to deal with. We need it to survive, but how do we decide when it's occupied some other position in my life? It's one of those easy to dismiss sins, like gossiping--where's the line between sharing prayer requests and gossip? I don't know the answer to that one, and there is definitely grey around the food issue. It's a hard balance for me since I have food issues in my past. In 10th grade I was a "Peer Counselor" (who never counseled anyone other than myself, I think). We went to a training on eating disorders, and I recognized myself in 9 of the 10 symptoms for anorexia (the only one I didn't have was being underweight--I was 5'7", 121 lbs--thin but not technically underweight). Food was a god for me then--the planning of how I was going to avoid eating, how far I'd have to run to burn off whatever I just least I was able to recognize myself and change... but I turned to relationships took me several years and a life changing friendship (and breakup) to figure out what I really needed--a healing relationship with Jesus.)

So where is the balance between not turning to food at every minor crisis and not becoming overly legislative about it? Don't have a good answer to that one yet....but at least I'm now able to discern what real physical hunger feels like. I may have to re-think my month long commitment to this fast, as I want to develop some discipline, but not to let food take on some new (or should I say old) god role.

Lord, grant me wisdom about my eating habits. Show me how much discipline is enough to cultivate turning to you instead of a cookie, but not so much that it makes the act of discipline a god in itself.

I don't think they found what they were looking for...

Just for curiosity's sake, I've been using BraveNet to see who visits my blog. I've had some interesting hits, especially from Google searches...
--"stinky washcloth clean"
--husband Bride of Christ
--Blind lost glasses

Somehow I don't think they found what they were looking for! But you wonder what they thought when they found my blog...

God, thanks for random surfing. Please use my little blog to be a light to those looking for something else...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for:
--The Forty Day Fast
--That my worries about feeding my children are about what they eat, not if they will
--How random surfing lead me to be so convicted about global poverty
--For organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, and Samaritan's Purse for being the hands and feet of Christ
--That I've actually stuck to my pledge to cut out the six C's (chocolate, chips, cola, cookies, cake,candy) this month (I know it's only been four days, but those are probably the hardest ones, especially with a holiday!)
--Our freedom to worship publically
--The freedom we have in Christ Jesus
--A child's excitement at seeing fireworks for the first time
--Fireworks--flame tests in action! (Maybe I should buy some sparklers as a demo?)
--Our church's one year anniversary

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wordless Wednesday--Three generations

(Three sets of nested footprints--mine, my mom's, and Harmony's.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Lost Glasses

This morning I got a call from Patrick--had I seen his glasses? Because without them, he was too blind to find his glasses!

I ran home and found them--they were on the floor, half way under the dresser.

I had to chuckle, but it made me wonder, what am I so blind about that I can't even see that I need help with it?

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Good Samaritan?

I'm still haunted. I feel better than I did this weekend, but prayer probably did that.

Tonight I was mad about the photographer not helping the child--how could he spend 20 minutes getting a good shot, and then just walk away? I was reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan, how the priest and the Levite just walked on by.

Then I was many times have I just walked on by? I'm too busy, I'm on my way somewhere, I've got something else to do, I've got tunnel vision and don't even see my neighbor...guilty as charged. I don't have to go to Africa to find hungry people--I can look across my street.

Lord, I confess that I've walked on by. Give me eyes to see the hurting in my community and the willingness to help them.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hungering for righteousness sake

The picture that is the inspiration of the 40 Day Fast is still etched in my brain.

It haunted me so much that I had to know was taken by Kevin Carter, and it won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Did he help her to the feeding station? No. He committed suicide not long after receiving the prize.

Wow. It still just shocks and amazes me that someone can turn and look away. But isn't that what I do every day? I live my happy little life, with a full belly. I try to teach my kids well and reach out to my neighbors, yet millions of people go to bed hungry every night.

It just breaks my heart. This is just not RIGHT! It definitely gives me a hunger for righteousness, justice, and equity in the world. It's ridiculous that we spend more on cosmetics than on foreign food aid. The question is, what can I do about it? I don't buy cosmetics (at least not very often!) and I do sponsor a compassion child. It's such a big problem--it's not like I can solve world hunger and poverty.

Today's sermon definitely met me where I was at--Tony talked about the parable of the feeding of the 5000 in Mark 6. But he didn't take the usual approach--he talked about how Jesus partnered with people to minister to others. He could have just put in a direct request to God for some manna and quail, but instead, he used his disciples. The model we saw Jesus using was:
1) Identify the need (v 35)
2) Recognize the call (v 37)
3) Assess the situation (v 38)
4) Plan (v 39-40)
5) Pray (v 41a)
6) Do something (v 41b)
7) Watch what God does (v 42-44)

So how can I apply this to world hunger? Well, in my assessment of the situation, it's hard for me to have a direct impact on world politics and finances. But I can:
a) Tell you about it, and encourage you to read the posts at the 40 Day Fast
b) Encourage you to sponsor a child through Compassion International or donate to the UN World Food Program (or just click on the bar on the side of the page to spend a company's money to feed hungry kids)
c) Find out more about the Micah Call and if you're interested, sign the petition
d) Adopt another Compassion Child.

I also have the desire to feel hunger--I don't know when the last time I was truly hungry was, maybe after my last colonoscopy :) So for the month of July, I'm joining the 40 day "fast". With kids and a busy family, it would be hard to do a full fast. Instead, I'm cutting out the six C's: cake, cookies, candy, cola, chocolate, chips and aiming to eat half of what I do now. (I actually AM hungry right now, since I've been doing this all day!) My goal isn't spiritual enlightenment about a particular issue, but to bring more discipline to my life, to try and even remotely align myself with the poor, and to continue to PRAY!

I'm also trying to seek what this might mean for the rest of my life. I don't think we're called to be food distributors in Africa, but maybe my research will switch towards cassava...if that's where God wants me to go, he'll open the doors, he has before and he will again :)

Lord, my heart breaks for starving people around the world. Give us the desire to care and a means to make a difference.