Friday, December 31, 2010

A Lot of Words and a Few Pictures about the Last Couple of Months

The last few weeks, I've been so busy living life that I haven't had time to blog about it!  So, for posterity's sake, here's a brief chronicle of the end of November and December.

* I attended a terrific women's conference at our old church.  The speaker was wonderful, and I really enjoyed seeing friends I haven't seen in a while. 

* I celebrated my 40th birthday.  I can't believe I'm that old!  Paul and the girls took me out for Tex-Mex and made me a cake.  Some of the sweet ladies from church made a video for me, too.

* We had a small Thanksgiving celebration with just our family.  We watched the Macy's parade, ate a fabulous meal, and then one of Paul's brothers and his family came over for a while.  We also put up our tree and our indoor decorations!

* One of my birthday presents was a trip to San Antonio!  I've never seen the Riverwalk all decked out for Christmas, and was so happy to finally get the chance!  We ate great Tex-Mex, took in some history, visited with some new and some old friends, and saw the zoo.  I didn't realize how much I needed a break until I got one!

* I had a fun evening at a cookie exchange with some of my friends.

* I helped Faith and Hope with their presentations for 4-H Demonstration Day.  They won first place on the demonstration they did as a team and Faith won second and Hope won third on their individual demonstrations.

*  The girls and I went to see Tangled and absolutely loved it!  Paul joined us when we saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  It was another great movie.

*  Hope did an excellent job at her piano recital!  She played some the teacher version of the duets in her piano book and did such a good job!  I'm so proud!

*  We had fun with our Christmas traditions:  making gingerbread houses, looking at Christmas lights, lighting our Advent candles.

*  We opened our gifts the Tuesday before Christmas since my Mom was coming the next day.  The girls loved their presents, and I love my new Pandora bracelet!!

*  My Mom and my sister and her family came to our house for Christmas.  We had a full house, but we really did have a good time!  (And it motivated me to get my house cleaner than it's been in a while!) 

*  I spent lots of time bringing the Faith, Joy, and Grace to ballet practice for their performance in the Nutcracker!  To their great disappointment, we even had practices over Christmas break.  But those practices paid off!  All the girls did such a good job, and my three were fantastic!!  My Mom, my sister, and my niece got to come to the performance.  It was so much fun watching my ballerinas perform and do so well!!

* We hosted a fun Christmas party at our house for our church family.  (It would have been even more fun if my dishwasher weren't broken!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Never Say Never!

While I do have some serious stuff I'm mulling over, I'm still tired from last weekend's garage sale, the time change, and ALL THE COUGHING (Allergies are no fun!) so I'm going for lighthearted and fun today.

Today I did something I said I would never do:  I bought a pair of skinny jeans!  Until a few days ago I thought skinny jeans only worked on slim teenagers or those enviable women who somehow managed to escape childbirth without the typical hip expansion.  I am neither.  My daughter tried some on, and they looked cute on her, but she wears a size 0, so she can wear just about anything and look adorable!

I got a pair of boots at the garage sale that are really cute and that I thought might actually look good with skinny jeans.  So on Monday I tried some on with a really cute long top.  I tucked the jeans into some black boots I had, and it did look good.  I was surprised.  I got the great shirt, but wanted a second opinion about the jeans.  So last night Paul and I went to Kohl's where I tried some on.  He really liked them!  I was hoping to find a more comfortable fit, so I passed on that particular pair.

I went back to Kohl's today.  And tried on a different pair.  They looked good.  They were comfortable.  And, to top it off, they only cost me $6.72 plus tax!!!  Which totally makes it okay that I bought a great shirt to go with them, right?  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Week(s) at a Glance

Wow!  Life has been full these last couple of weeks!  Our schooling has taken more time, we've had several extra-curricular activities, and my allergies have been overactive!  

We had fun carving pumpkins in late October. Faith did a pretty floral design; Hope did a Border Collie; Joy did a cat face; and Grace did a fleur de lis.  It was fun and messy!

We also celebrated Paul's birthday.  I cooked one of his favorite dinners and we had Italian Cream Cake (minus the coconut - I'm allergic!) for dessert.  I tried a new recipe, and we all enjoyed it.  

Some friends of ours hosted a "Retro Prom" on October 31st.  Faith wore my old prom dress.  Hope found a formal at the Salvation Army store for $5.  And Joy and Grace wore some cute 80s-inspired skirts and shirts from Target that are still fashionable enough for them to wear again.  I wore my old Coca-Cola shirt from high school, and Paul wore his leather pants from back in the day and eyeliner a la Billy Idol!  Everyone had a terrific time!

Last weekend we did something we said we'd never do:  We hosted a garage sale.  The money went to help the college students at our church go to Passion 2011 in January.  The students did most of the work, and we made enough money to be a help to them.  And I hope to never host another garage sale again!  (The late night of getting ready and early morning start time wiped me out!!) 

We also started offering a children's church during Paul's talk time.  One of our families lives right across from the clubhouse where we're meeting, so we bring the children there after the singing time.  I think it's going well and will only get better!

I have some thoughts rattling around in my head about being a pastor's wife and hope to blog about them soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Saturday

It's late Saturday night, and I'm waiting for Faith to come home from a friend's house.  Joy and Grace have been asleep for a while, and so has Paul.  The friend that Hope has over tonight is sleeping on the couch, and Hope is waiting for all to be quiet to try to sleep.  It's nights like this that not having to be at church as early comes in handy!

After hearing so many good things, we went to see Secretariat today.  And we were not disappointed.  It really is a great movie!  I knew Paul would like it, and I was confident that Faith and Hope would enjoy it.  But I wasn't sure if it would be able to keep Joy and Grace's attention.  I needn't have worried; they LOVED it!  We don't see many movies as a family.  With four kids, that would be too expensive, but this movie was so worth it!  And I really enjoyed seeing a movie the whole family really enjoyed and that was so inspiring.  

This evening we were pleasantly surprised by a group of young singles from our church displayed a row of jack-o-lanterns that spelled "Go Jesus!" in our front yard.  Today is Paul's spiritual birthday:  twenty-one years ago he began his relationship with Jesus.  To mark that occasion, these great people decided to gift us with one of Paul's catch-phrases in such a fun package.  It was so much fun!  (Except for the mosquitoes;  those were no fun at all!)  I'm so glad our friends love us so much!

And to top it all off, Baylor won!!!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Why People Have Two Dishwashers

Somehow Fridays have turned into "Try Cooking Something New Day."  Two weeks ago I tried my hand at Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls.  They weren't that hard, but they were messy to make.  I realized that I need a silicon mat for rolling dough.  I had an old Tupperware one that melted when a certain daughter, who shall remain nameless, set a pan from the oven on it.  I made the first batch of rolls on Friday but didn't put the icing on.  Saturday morning I warmed the cinnamon rolls in the oven and made the frosting.  YUM!  I only used half the dough, so I got to perfect my cinnamon roll making skills on Saturday.  (We actually decided we like less butter and cinnamon than the recipe calls for.  And we like the cinnamon and sugar mixed first.)

Last week I finally made PW's Mozzarella Sticks.  I remember wanting to make these at home years ago, but I couldn't find a recipe.  These were also very good.  Except we didn't eat them right away, so they weren't as fabulous as they could be.

Today I made PW's doughnuts.  Hope has been begging me to make them ever since we saw the recipe.  And she was not disappointed.  They're really good.  And easy.  I had to stand in front of the fryer for a while, but it wasn't difficult.

And I've even tried a couple of new recipes during the week:  oven-baked Panko breaded chicken tenders and a barbecue chicken tender dish.  Both were very good.  

And with all this cooking and with six of us eating all this cooking, I've come to understand why people have two dishwashers!  Because, lately, mine is always behind.  But we sure are eating well!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Signs of the Times

A group of us are having a "Retro Prom" themed costume party at the end of October.  So today, in the interest of retro research, the girls looked through my old high school year books.  Joy and Grace just like looking for pictures of Mommy.  Faith, however, was amazed disturbed by all the big hair!  And the high pants!  And the tucked-in shirts!  (I guess the shoulder pads weren't as obvious.)

And really, those pictures do look so dated.  "Why?" I ask myself.  "Why the big hair?"  (OK, that one's easy; there were no flat irons, and I have curly hair.)  "Why the baggy jeans, especially when I was so thin?"  (No answer for that one!)  "Why the puffy sleeves?"  (Maybe we needed them to balance out the hair!)  "Why didn't my hair dresser prevent me from getting bangs?"  

And I comfort myself with the fact that in twenty years, Faith will be asking herself similar questions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Day in the Life

I woke up tired this morning.  Maybe staying up to read just one a few more chapters of the book I was reading wasn't such a good idea.  I had to wake up all the girls so they could get something to eat before we started school.  Usually Hope is awake before I am, but this morning she was tired, too.  (I blame the extreme silliness I heard from her and Faith at about 9:45 last night.

We were reading about John the Baptist this morning, and the girls were quite grossed out by the eating locusts thing.  We ended this morning with enough time for me to spend half an hour on the exercise bike before lunch.  Faith cooked the frozen pizza for her and the twins.  Hope cooked herself a waffle.  I made a meatball sandwich from the leftover meatballs I made Sunday night.  YUM!

I showered after lunch, and then we had a leisurely afternoon of reading and a nap for me and reading and play for the girls.  I did science with Joy and Grace, and all the girls listened to part of a Haydn CD for music time.

I made a big pot of chili last night, so dinner planning was easy!  I did make Pioneer Woman's cornbread (Scroll down for the cornbread recipe.)  And I even figured out the secret for keeping it from getting too brown on the bottom:  don't melt the butter on High!  Not all the girls like chili, so I also "cooked" some chicken nuggets and fish sticks.

Then we were off to the 4-H Pet Show.  Rebecca entered our cat, who did NOT enjoy it!  But Patches did win Coolest Cat!  Of course, we've always known how cool she is.  Hannah helped out with running the pet show.  All the girls loved seeing all the cute pets, and we had to exercise some serious willpower and resist taking home the adorable Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies that were for sale!  I also got to visit with a sweet friend from our former church.

We got home, watched the new David*Crowder Band video, then the girls asked to see this one, and the girls got ready for bed.  Paul went to help a good friend install floors in the house he is building.  

All is quiet now.  Netflix is calling!  (But the dirty dishes are silent!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movin' On Up

Last Sunday, we had our first worship time at our new location!  We are now meeting in an apartment clubhouse.  We had recently been to an event there, and both Paul and I thought that this might be a better venue than our living room.  The apartment manager was very kind and gave us a reasonable rate to rent the clubhouse each week.

The room is much bigger than our living room, so we can more comfortably fit more people.  Paul also thinks that a new person wanting to check us out might feel less intimidated here than at our house.  It includes a kitchen with a great counter for serving coffee or snacks.  There's even a large TV that we hope to use to display the lyrics for the songs we sing.

Our first Sunday went pretty well.  We are still working out a few glitches.  It was way too COLD, for one thing.  I also discovered that fans and florescent lights are a bad mix for me, particularly when I am perpetually on the verge of a sinus headache.  But these things are easy to fix.  (But, just in case, I am seriously considering bringing a blanket!)  

We also have a new guitar player, who has led his youth band in the past.  We may even have a keyboardist and a keyboard!  It's fun to see our church grow!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Our House of Woship Is MY House

I've never been part of a house church, so I really didn't know what to expect.  It's been an interesting experience.  We all gather in our living room, sitting on our couches, dining room chairs, folding chairs, the ottoman, and patio furniture.  If we have a lot of people, we make the children sit on the floor.

We begin with music.  Paul plays acoustic guitar, and we have another guy playing bass guitar.  We sing a few songs.  Then Paul may ask someone to share something about their walk with Jesus.  I really like this part of our gathering.  At the large church we left, it was more difficult to know people's stories.  Then Paul will give a talk.  We then pray and go eat.  

What I like about doing house church:

*Getting to sleep late!  
*How personal it is
*Everyone worships together (No separate place for children) 
*It's very laid-back
*It forces me to have my house relatively clean once a week!
*The freedom to pray over those who have a specific need

What has been tough about doing house church:

*It's kind of odd doing church in my own living room
*I get distracted making sure my girls are not being distracting
*Cleaning my house!
*We usually get a late start and therefore end later  (when we're hungrier!)
*We have to wait until the last person leaves before we can go get lunch

But our season of house church has come to a close.  We have moved to the next stage of Sunday morning worship...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The City Church Meets

Back to our story...

When Paul and I were discussing how the transition from being part of the staff at a large church to being a church planter would work, I realized that we would need to continue to have a worship environment on Sunday mornings.  I knew we would need it, and so would the people who were coming along with us.  And our girls and the other children would really need the continuity.  I didn't think they would do well having a season of sleeping late and making delicious breakfasts with occasional interruptions for grown-up meetings, and then have to get in the rhythm of going to church again.  And I knew our group needed a time to corporately connect with God.  The single adults, many of whom are college-aged, already have a worship/Bible study time with Paul on Wednesday nights.  But that isn't a good environment for families whose children need to be in bed before that time is even halfway over.

So we decided we would have a Sunday morning gathering.  And, since we're just starting out, we realized we would have to gather in our living room.  Which has been an interesting experience.  I've learned we can fit way more people in our living room than I ever thought.  We've had to learn to keep our house cleaner.  I've learned to buy paper cups for coffee or be behind on dishes for several days.

Our first Sunday we had about our family,15 young singles, and one other man, whose wife wanted to give our old church a month to find a replacement to teach her Sunday School class.  In the next few weeks, that family was all able to come, and we had another family come.  We've had a few more twenty-somethings check us out as well.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One Is the Lonliest Number

One thing I don't think I was really prepared for as we began this adventure was how difficult the lack of meaningful interaction with other people, especially my husband, would be.  Even though I came into this venture with few people I felt comfortable baring my heart and soul to, I did have a small group who I could talk to about many things.  I still see many of those women, but in a different context.  We laugh and have fun and maybe share about our kids or families.  But we really don't share about our struggles or what God is doing in our lives.  Which is not really a new pattern of interaction.  We just don't have our small group study time to spark the deeper issues.

And my husband is busier and tireder than I anticipated.  It's so hard to find time when we can talk- when he is home and awake and the girls are asleep.  (Their rooms are close enough to our living room to eavesdrop!)  This journey is taking so much out of him spiritually and emotionally that he is always tired.

And I miss group Bible studies.  I used to do Beth Moore type studies on Sunday nights until we began our small group.  Then I tried going to a morning study.  That was too hard to work out with homeschooling, so I didn't continue.  Then I tried the Wednesday night study.  This was a good fit until Paul began a college Bible study on Wednesday nights and couldn't help with the girls.  

With our crazy schedule, I hate taking another evening off from family time.  And mornings I need to be home to teach my girls.  I've not heard of an afternoon study in my area.  (Actually, I've don't think I've ever seen an afternoon Bible study.)  

I don't know where that leaves me...I don't know that there is an easy answer...I know the right answer is that I'm going to let Jesus be my best friend and trust Him to provide for all my friendship needs either directly or by bringing people alongside me.  That's the right answer, but right now I don't know if it's the REAL answer.  But I want it to become the real answer.  Maybe that's enough for now.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Praising God in Their Storm

I'll get back to the story of the beginning of The City Church soon, but today I want to write about some amazing friends.  This past weekend they received what was probably the hardest news of their lives.  And then they had to face the reality of sorrow and grief in a way they probably never thought they would have to.

Yet they were able to see God's hand and hang onto Jesus in the midst of grief.  I have seen them praise Him in their fierce storm.  I praise Jesus for their faith, for their love, for their authenticity as they walk this difficult path.

Paul and I have been blessed to have been able to pray for and with them and to just be there while they grieve.  I hope and pray our presence and our prayers have been at least a small encouragement to them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Last Sunday

Our last Sunday was the last Sunday before all the children and youth moved up for the next school year.  It seemed fitting that this would be our last Sunday.  The girls' classes would have some goodbye celebrations with their teachers.  I would complete my year of teaching high school juniors.  And the next week everyone would have a new start.

Paul announced our leaving for this new mission, this new journey in all 3 of our services.  Our pastor was so complementary as he introduced Paul and had people gather to pray for us afterward.  And that time of prayer was so sweet!  It was such a great Sunday, that it almost seemed a shame to go.  But we knew God was leading us to a new place, and we had to follow Him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What about the Children?

Up until this point, we had not told our children we were even considering planting a church.  Had they all been older, we might have told them sooner, but we didn't want to tell them until we were able to make it common knowledge.  We felt like keeping something this big (and possibly something very emotional) to themselves would be a burden they shouldn't have to bear.

We told them a couple of days after Paul talked with our pastor the second time, which was only a few days before we would make the announcement in church.  They were all surprised.  They all said they would miss their friends at our old church.   Faith was the most visibly disturbed.  She didn't want to lose touch with the friends she had made at our old church.  But she is also old enough to see that, even in her own life, God is drawing her to something different than she was getting at the church we were at.  We reassured her that we would make a big effort to keep in touch with her friends (which we have done!). 

Joy and Grace really took their cues from us; we were happy so they were, too (except for the missing friends part!)  They were also excited that they wouldn't have to go to AWANA or children's choir this year.  In years past they had loved both of these activities, and they are both so enthusiastic about almost everything.  Usually by the end of summer they were eager for these activities to start.  But not this year!  I knew this was God preparing their hearts to leave where we were and embark on something new. 

Hope was the one child whose reaction would be the most unpredictable.  I knew that she might be sad she didn't get to experience all the fun youth stuff her older sister did.  She might not like such a big change.  True to her unpredictable nature, Hope surprised me.  She was so happy!  She seemed to grasp the importance of trying to reach new people with the love of Jesus.  She couldn't wait to tell her friends!

In fact, all the girls were eager to share the news with their friends.  They were able to tell some of them a couple of days later, and they told the rest during their Sunday School time at church the following Sunday.  I thought our last Sunday might be a sad one for them, but it wasn't.  They were ready to move forward.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Going Public

Now that we both felt confident God was leading us to plant a church, we were ready to share the news with our friends and our pastor. We chose to first share our news with a few close friends.  We really weren't sure how our pastor would react, and we wanted prayer before Paul told him.  Everyone was very positive, and no one seemed surprised by our announcement.  We also asked our close friends to pray about joining us in this mission.

Then Paul told our pastor.  Our church had "mission churches" several decades ago, but we had no context for the modern church plant.  Paul shared his vision and his heart with our pastor, and our pastor was very gracious.  He asked for time to pray about how the church should respond to our church plant.  As we waited, we told a few more friends.  When our pastor met with Paul again, he said that we would be sent out with public blessing and Paul would get a chance to announce our plans on Sunday morning.  The church would also pay Paul's (part-time) salary for the next couple of months.  We were both very pleased!

During this time we also told my family during a visit to my Mom's house.  Even they were not surprised and were supportive.  The support and kind words from so many people were an encouragement to Paul, helping him to take this risk.

Now we were ready to tell our children...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Swimming in the Ocean

While we were at camp, we stayed in some amazing condos on the beach.  I love the ocean, and went swimming in it every day during free time.  Our condo complex also had a large pool complex.  The only time I got in the pool was to dip my foot in to rinse any lingering sand off. 

Sometimes God uses the things around me to illustrate spiritual truths.  The week of camp I began thinking about the pool vs. the ocean.  While I love the vastness of the ocean, and really sense God's presence there, I can understand while many choose the pool.  The pool is clean and chlorinated with no seaweed or fish poop.  The pool is safer with no dangerous tides and plenty of places to avoid the sun's rays.  The pool is entertaining; it has a lazy river, a slide, and fun music.  The pool is easy; you can buy snacks and drinks right where you are.  To sum it up, the pool is a controlled environment.  And God began to cause me to ponder where I was choosing pools over oceans in my life.

The last session of camp, Louie told us we can choose to star in "The Story of Me," which will last only a brief time before fading from memory in the light of the glory of God, or we can have a bit part in "The Story of God," a story which will stand forever.  

The final song we sang was "Our God," and, as I sang, God shaped the lyrics, my thoughts about pools and oceans, and Louie's talk into a cohesive thought:  To stay where I was would be choosing the safety, comfort, and control of the pool over the vastness, majesty, and joy of the ocean.  And, for me, the ocean was joining my husband in this journey of planting a church.  I'm NOT saying that everyone who goes to the church we had been a part of were settling for less than God's story; for many, that IS their ocean!  But it isn't mine.  I knew this wouldn't always be easy or safe, but I also knew God is leading us here, so I have to go.  

As we left the auditorium for the last time, I leaned over to Paul and said, "I'm sure."

**I have nothing against pools or those who love them and choose them over the ocean.  God just used my own love of the ocean to illustrate a point that I needed to know!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Encouraging Word

The week of youth camp progressed.  The worship and teaching were fabulous, of course.  And we were trying to help the students really interact with Jesus.  

Thursday was our last day.  During the morning session Louie Giglio called all the adult leaders on stage and we got to sing a song with Chris Tomlin. This was so much fun!  And now I can say I've sung on stage with Chris Tomlin!  Afterward, Paul and I had the opportunity to speak with Louie.  We were part of the Choice Bible study he led at Baylor, and we have followed and supported his ministry ever since.  He has been one of the biggest spiritual influences on both of our lives.

Louie planted Passion City Church in Atlanta about a year ago, and Paul had already written Louie telling about our potential church plant.  He encouraged us to step out in faith because often God doesn't provide the wind in our sails until we're actually in the water.  He also told us not to be discouraged if things don't work out like we hope and pray they do.  Church planting is a series of major ups and downs, but God wants to be present in all of them.  And after all, even if our new church doesn't make it, no one's going to die!

We left feeling excited and encouraged.  I still didn't have an absolute certainty that we should plant a church, but I was almost sure that this was where God was leading.  And that was enough for me.  But it wasn't enough for God...

Friday, September 17, 2010

And If Our God Is For Us

I know my last post was in May.  Which is 4 months ago!  The last four months were full of summer fun, and now we're back to school.  We went to Disney World at the end of May with some great friends.  We had a fantastic time!!! We survived another year of VBS.  We swam and had fun at home.  Some of us went to youth camp.  The rest went to Winshape C3 camp.  We visited friends and family in Texas.  Where we had Chuys!  And got in a wreck.  We started a new year of homeschooling.  We went to Family Camp.  Oh yeah, we planted a church!

Back in May I still hadn't had any personal direction from God about church planting.  And I went through all of June and half of July wondering if God was going to speak to me directly or if I was just supposed to trust Paul in this momentous decision.  

Paul, Faith, and I went to Student Life Camp at Daytona Beach with the youth group from the church we belonged to.  I had looked forward to going for months.  Chris Tomlin led worship.  Matt Redmon gave a concert.  And Louie Giglio was our speaker.  Who wouldn't want to go?!  I asked God to clarify this whole church plant thing during the week of camp - even if His clarification was to trust my husband.

The first song we sang on the first night was Chris Tomlin's "Our God."  Even though we had sung this song several times at church, I didn't recognize it.  It was as if I were hearing this song for the first time.  And as the words washed over me, God spoke.  "And if our God is for us, then who can ever stop us.  And if our God is with us, then what can stand against."  I felt God telling me that all my concerns - What about my girls?  Will anyone come with us?  Will we have any money? - would be taken care of if God were truly in this.  Not that I thought everything would be easy.  Just that God would work all these details out for His glory.  I still wasn't 100% positive that God was leading us into planting a church, but I felt at peace that God would take care of all the details and questions that sometimes held me back.  At this point I thought God was probably leading us to plant a church.  And I was okay with that.  

But the week wasn't over yet...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


One of the things that concerns me about venturing out to minister to people who are very different from be is that we won't be able to relate to one another.  I have lived a very sheltered, good-two-shoes kind of life.  And, frankly, sometimes I am shocked by the stuff that goes on in the world.  (I try not to let my shock show, but it's definitely there.)

So I wonder how I'll be able to help someone who has a drug addiction when I've never even seen an illegal drug!  How can I encourage someone who is living in the midst of the party scene when I've never even been to that kind of party?   Will they listen to me?  (Just like I might not listen to parenting help from a person who's never had children.)

God knows my concerns.  And this week I read in 2 Cor. 1:4 that God comforts me in my troubles so I can share His comfort with others in ANY kind of trouble!  ALL kinds of troubles!  I looked up the definition for the Greek word for all or any in that verse.  Here's what I learned:  the Greek word pas means, "any, all, every kind of."  So God's comfort to me translates into comfort for people in any and every kind of trouble.  I am not limited to sharing God's comfort only with those whose afflictions mirror my own!  Praise God!  When I am being led by my Father, He can use me to share His comfort with someone totally different from me who has experienced troubles I can't even imagine.  Because it's not about my troubles; it's about my God!  It's not about my own ability to sympathize or comfort others; it's about allowing His comfort to flow through me.  He longs to comfort all of us.  And He can use any of us who are willing to do just that.

 Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2Cor. 1:4 NASB

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Waiting on God

My husband has thought that planting a church would be a good idea for some time now.  And a couple of months ago he felt God confirm this as a God Idea.  He didn't hear an audible voice.  He just knew in his spirit that this was God's leading.

One of the people he has told about our church plant told of a vision from God about our planting a church.  

Meanwhile, I've got nothing!  No vision.  No confirmation in my spirit.  Nothing.  Zilch. Nada.  

So now I we go forward based on my husband's confidence and assurance that God is leading us here?  Do we wait for God to confirm this to me?  If so, how long?  Am I not hearing from God because I am doing something wrong?  

I want to hear from God myself that He is leading us on this journey.  But He may want me to have faith in the husband He has given me.  The second way involves a lot more trust.  Trust in God to lead my husband.  Trust in my husband to hear and follow God's leading.  

And through this journey I'm learning that trust doesn't come easily to me.  I tend to hold back, to protect myself.  I want to learn to trust.  To wholeheartedly abandon myself to God.  Because He is trustworthy.  Even when I am afraid.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Journey

This whole journey into the possibility of planting a church has been a series of stops and starts, of excitement and fear.  When my husband first began to talk about planting a church, I really thought he might be able to accomplish his goals at our current church.  We were making some changes that seemed like they might make it easier to minister to those he wanted to reach.  But I now realize that this may be a longer process than he's willing to endure (and may never happen at all).  

I then went through a period of excitement.  Everything was so theoretical to me at that time that the reality of all that is involved didn't sink in.  We would have fun creating our dream church!  We've often had those "if I were in charge" conversations, but this was different - we would be in charge! (Under God's leadership, of course.)  

Then the magnitude of what we were considering hit me!  And many questions came with it.  Those questions sparked worries and fears.  How will our girls adjust?  Who will keep things organized since neither of us is at all organized?  How will he balance church, a business, and home?  Will our friends help us?  Will they understand?

He had told some of his friends who lived out of town and a couple of close, trusted friends here, but I really wanted him to wait to tell more people until I was more sure. He agreed that this was a good plan.  THEN HE TOLD SOMEONE!!  This totally freaked me out! All the old fears and several new ones came rushing to the surface.  I felt like he was moving too fast.  So he assured me that he wouldn't move forward (in regard to telling people or actually starting the church) until we both agreed it was the right time.

Since then we've had numerous late-night discussions about planting a church.  And my husband is very certain that God is calling him to do this.  So far I have to trust him because God has not given me confirmation that this is what we should do.  

So right now we're waiting. And trying to prepare for things I don't think we can imagine yet.  The preparing isn't too bad.  The waiting is another story... Another story for another post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Husband's Journey

Just a few years ago, I had never heard of church planting.  Now my husband and I are on a journey toward planting a church.  And I need a place to process this crazy, scary, God-sized journey. 

So how did we get here?  My husband began to feel a disillusionment with the church status quo about a year ago.  God began to birth a desire in him to reach all kinds of people with the gospel, not just white, middle-class people who look like us.  And he began to see that often our church and many others put up barriers that make it much harder for anyone who's very different to know Jesus.  (Not intentional barriers, but barriers nonetheless.) God brought people into his ministry that were "messy, " needy and in need of Jesus.  And they responded to Him. Not because of our standard church programs, but despite them.

God also used the book No Perfect People Allowed to help shape his views on how to minister to a new generation of people.  I'm now reading it as well, and it's a real eye-opener.  At first we thought we might be able to create a culture that welcomes all people, even those who live very different lifestyles than we do, at our current church.  But as time went on, he realized that this won't happen soon, if ever.  So he began to read about church planting.  About starting a whole new church from scratch.  The more he thought and prayed and attended conferences and researched, the more he became convinced that this is what God is calling him to do.  And he is very excited about it!

As for me...I'll tackle my journey later!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hope for the Future

Overheard in my car today:

Hope: "I hope the antichrist comes soon."
Me: "Why?'
Hope: "So Jesus will come back sooner."

I have never met anyone, let alone a child who longs for Jesus' return as much as she does. I know I don't. But I want to!

Of course, she may have been anxious for the return of Jesus on this particular day so she wouldn't have to ride in the car to take her sister to dance class.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Fever!

I am obsessed with really like the Olympics. I like rooting for America. I like seeing the stories of the athlete's dedication and perseverance. I really like it when the Americans win! I even like the sappy profiles on NBC. I watch sports during the Olympics that I don't normally watch. Speed skating, skiing, snowboarding, the biathlon, hockey, curling- you televise it, and I'll watch it! (Especially if the US might win a medal!)

The downside of the Olympics is that the television coverage lasts into the wee hours of the night. I have to make myself stop watching around midnight. (OK, it's been 12:30 a few nights.) And I wake up late and I'm tireder and less patient the next day. So the past couple of weeks I've been tireder and a little less patient, and our home is certainly messier.

Now that the Olympics are over for two more years, I'm really going to try to get to bed ON TIME! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

One thing that I've really noticed this year is the athlete's reaction to winning silver or bronze. I loved watching Elisabeth Goergl of Austria ascend the podium for her bronze medal. She was so excited she was jumping up and down. For a bronze. Watching her made me happy. And Joannie Rochette's bronze was so touching. Even Apolo was humble and gracious when another's mistake may have cost him the gold or silver.

And then there's Evgeni Plushenko. Who appeared extremely disappointed about his silver during the medal ceremony. And who then declared that he deserved the gold in a subsequent interview. And who had a platinum medal (now removed) from the Vancouver Olympics on his website. A gracious loser he was not.

But then again, all too often, neither am I. I have never been in the running for Olympic gold. I would be thrilled just to compete in the Olympics! (I would even be thrilled just to watch an event live!) But when I get upset because my neighbor has a better car or my friend is building a beautiful new house or another blogger can afford clothes that are out of my price range, I think the rest of the world would view me like the embittered Russian skater. Most people in the world don't have a car at all. Most of them live in a home a fraction of the size of ours (many with no electricity or running water!). I spend more on clothes than many people make in a year.

I want to live a life of contentment and joy. Contentment when I have little or when I have much. Joy in what God has given me, even He has given someone else more. I want these two qualities to point others to God. And when contentment and joy overcome disappointment, people will notice. I noticed Elisabeth Goergl's joy in winning the bronze and rejoiced with her. May my joy even when I see someone come out ahead be even more contagious. Because my joy isn't in winning a medal or competing well in an athletic competition. My joy is in the Lord!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent Me Your Ears

I grew up going to a church where we had to participate in Lent. I didn't like it, but I did it because I had to. My saving grace was that we could add something good to our lives instead of giving something up. I usually chose to do something like make my bed every day. One year my sister gave up candy. I thought she was crazy! When I was in junior high, we joined a church that didn't celebrate the Lenten season. And I was glad.

In the many years since that church change, I've continued going to churches that don't celebrate Lent, including the church we now attend. But this year God had led me to fast from something during the season of Lent. I wasn't seeking it, He just impressed it on me. And I'm actually excited about it!

I've played a couple of harmless games on Facebook. Nothing bad. I don't even spend that much time on them. But I feel like I could use even those few minutes a day doing something good, be it putting a load of clothes in the washer, reading my Bible some more, making a grocery list, or even reading a magazine to learn new recipes or decorating help. Today I hid those applications on FB, so I wouldn't be tempted by some cool change in the game.

I began thinking about this "fast" a couple of weeks ago, and I now think that what I first thought would be a temporary change may be permanent. Either way, I'm excited about following God this Lenten season not out of obligation like I did as a child, but out of love!

Father, use my small fast this season for Your glory. May I use the time I would otherwise spend in FB games to worship You and serve my family.

Monday, February 15, 2010

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

Yesterday was the Daddy/Daughter Valentine Party at church. The girls have always had so much fun at this event. This year was Joy and Grace's last year. Next year they will be over the age limit (which I wish were older than it is!) Paul got to read the story. The girls made fun crafts. And much sugar was consumed by all!

I started thinking last night about how much I'm enjoying this stage of our family's life. I really enjoy the age everyone is right now and would like to freeze time at least for a little while! We are at that beautiful season where the girls are independent enough to buckle up in the car, but still need to be tucked into bed at night. Independent enough to stay home with Faith while we go on a date, but still want us to say goodbye before we drop them off at dance or piano or church (often with a kiss!).

Faith is in that wonderful stage of early adolescence where she is still more child than adult. Although I see God maturing her so much spiritually and am so loving that, I also love that she can still be a little girl. I'm so thankful she isn't eager to grow up to fast and is enjoying this last taste of the freedom of childhood. I know these days are numbered, so I want to treasure them.

Hope is really growing up, too. She is much more willing to try new things, which has sometimes been a challenge in the past. I also see her taking more ownership of her things and some of her responsibilities. She's definitely still all child, but an older, more mature child.

Joy and Grace are at that wonderful, joy-filled stage of childhood. Life is just so much fun for them! (Which may be more a factor of their personalities than of their age.) They are so fun and so girly!

I know the coming years will be filled with changes. Driving will replace dolls. Wearing real make-up will replace the current sleepover make-overs. School will get harder. But I pray many things will remain the same. I pray they continue to want our input in their decisions. That they continue to be and have good friends. That they still WANT to spend time with our family. And that they retain their childlike faith while they grow deeper in love with Jesus!

Lord, Help me not to get so caught up in the busy-ness of life and school and schedules that I forget to savor and treasure these wonderful blessings You have given me!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Random February Thoughts

If it's going to be cold and wet, I wish the wet were snow (or even sleet!) instead of rain!

Too many cloudy days make me prone to sadness and lethargy.

Sometimes I'd like to take a break from school, but then I know we'd have to go longer in May, so we trudge though.

I hope the rain lets up before our many lessons this afternoon.

Lunch will be way easier when we replace our freezer.

Young Victoria was a really good movie. But it makes being a princess seem much less fun!

I hope when our new modern church service is up and running, Paul will have more time with us!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bruised, But Not Broken

It happened again. Someone said something that hurt and the pain lingered. It didn't matter whether it was inadvertent or if an apology was immediately forthcoming. I still hurt. And I wondered why I couldn't just shake it off, get over it. While I pondered this, an answer came to me: I had a soul bruise.

I define a soul bruise as lingering pain caused by another person's words or actions - words or actions that really hurt, whether they meant them to or not. And just like a physical bruise takes time to heal, so does a soul bruise. There are things that speed up healing, such as an apology and forgiveness, but , barring God's miraculous intervention, I will need time to get over the hurting.

This is not the same as nursing a wound or holding a grudge. It's just pain that is not resolved. I forgave the other person, yet I still hurt sometimes. Like a bruise on my body, when something puts pressure on my soul bruise, the pain is worse. (And often, once the initial impact has lessened, I only feel the pain when something puts pressure on what's hurting in me.)

The good news is that soul bruises do heal and fade. Some take longer than others, but they all do heal in time. And one day soon I will look back and realize that I no longer hurt, even when something has put pressure on where my wound once was. God will heal all of my hurts. I must trust Him and give Him time to work.

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice. ~ Isaiah 42:3