Taking out the Trash

Location: Our dining room table, Indianapolis, the day after tax day: (16 April at 7:02am).

Our daughter, H., loved to take out the trash.  With two in diapers and a rather small trash can, we take out the trash nearly daily, it is a good excuse for M. and H. to take a little “walk,” to get outside the apartment, and to visit the dumpster and the mailbox.

Yesterday we decided to run errands after supper.  My girls had not had an opportunity to take out the trash, and after a couple of stinky blow-outs, it needed taking out!  It was not until we were headed back home about two-and-a-half hours later that M. said, “Oh no, we didn’t take out the trash!”

Her “Oh no!” was nothing compared to what started going through my head.  She did not yet remember what had happened.  However, I distinctly recalled the stinky diapers filling the bag, and I remembered the normal chaos of trying to leave the house as a family for four with two babies under two!  I recalled that as we loaded the family in the car, I set the bag of garbage on the trunk, planning to swing by the dumpster on the way out.  I also realized, with a quickly sinking feeling in my stomach, that on the trunk was the last place I had seen the garbage!

I immediately looked in the rearview mirror as I explained to my wife the sad circumstances that had certainly befallen our diaper trash.  Together, we imagined with dismay someone finding the pulverized diapers that had been in a bag before they had flown off the trunk and been run over by tires countless times . . . We started feeling very sorry for the person who would have to clean it up. . . .

Fortunately (or unfortunately?) that person was me!  As we got closer to our apartment complex, we retraced our path in reverse, finally celebrating when we arrived at the entrance of our neighborhood and finding the white trash bag on the road!  It had barely broken open, and only one diaper had escaped more than a few feet!  Hooray!

Armed with my rubber gloves and a new trash bag, I walked out to the road to save someone else the trouble of cleaning up our mistake!

Talk about grace and mercy!  The Lord is good, and His lovingkindness endures forever!

No matter how bad your past mistakes, nor how stinky the garbage you have carried, the Lord saves and transformes and offers new life!  That is a good reason to celebrate this Easter Sunday, and everyday!

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Baby Steps

Location: Our apartment in Indianapolis on a beautiful 11th of April, at 3:00 in the afternoon.

No, E. is not taking steps yet, he is just over 3 months old!  However, M. and I are stepping out . . . we are going dancing in a little while!  To be more exact, we are going to take some ballroom dancing lessons.  We are very excited about them!

I know, I am still not writing as often nor as high a quality of posts as I used to, nor as I would like to, but I have posted a few times in the past month.  I am making progress!  In fact, we are making progress in several areas.  A few days ago, I finally caught up our email inbox.  We hired two new people in my department at work, which should (hopefully!) help to settle down some of the chaos and strain of being stretched thin for the past month and a half.  We are getting more involved in ministry again, and we had a wonderful visit and discussion with our pastor this morning.  H. was battling an infection followed by a somewhat mysterious rash, and that is mostly cleared up, as well.  We are also socializing a bit more, and we have plans to go to an out-of-state wedding in May.  Besides that, we had visitors today and yesterday, and we enjoyed Sunday dinner last weekend at the house of some gracious hosts in our church.  I have started rereading How Should We Then Live, by Francis Schaeffer.  I am also meeting with a couple of my mentors next week, and another one in the near future.

In other words, life is moving forward, and we are resurfacing.  Even if it is by baby-steps!

We are praying about some big questions in our life, in addition to the little challenges we face daily.  Have you ever thought about these things?

  • What is my role/niche in the Church, and how do I fill it with excellence?
  • Is this the beginning or the end of a season in our lives, and how can I prepare for what comes next?
  • If my walk with Jesus is alive and real, what about the past 24 hours could I share with someone in order to bring glory to God?
  • How do I radically and obediently follow Christ while fulfilling my Christian duty and God-given responsibilities to my family?
  • Am I truly surrendered to the will of the Father in every corner of my heart, every area of my life?
  • What is God specifically calling me to be/do right now, and how do I respond with integrity, boldness, and faithfulness?
  • What should my greatest desire be, and how do I cultivate that desire?

Well, I wish I had as much time to write as thoughts in my heart, but here is a quick start to how we are and what God is doing in our lives.  We have had the privilege of celebrating with several of you lately, and the honor of crying with several others of you recently.  We are praying for you, and we are thankful for your prayers and for your grace.

I will do my best to keep writing updates, but my first priority is to live a life of worship and dedication.  Whether you read anything from me or not, please pray for me as I strive to always put one foot in front of the other in a footprint of my Savior, even if it is only a baby-step.  I bless you in the Name of Jesus!

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Catching up on Emails

Location: Our apartment in Indianapolis; 3 April, 8:30pm.  Here are a couple of pictures instead of writing something, to hold you over while I try to catch up on old emails!

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Tidbits

102_8340 102_8339Location: My office in Franklin, Indiana, at 12:45pm on the 18th of March.

Here are tidbits of an update:

We now have internet in our apartment, so hopefully we will make some headway in our internet communication.

H. had a minor injury at the playground last weekend; please pray for continued healing as we give thanks to the Lord for making children so resiliant! 

We have been enjoying several opportunities to get involved in local ministry, including at an East-side church a week ago, at work, on the playground, in the prayer closet, from home via phone, etc. We found that we had been waiting for the “opportune time” to be who God made us to be, and we realized that we might find ourselves waiting an awfully long time. 

We have been praying lot about who we are and where we fit in. It is exciting to see all the ways in which God is working in and around our local community, opportunities to join Him in the amazing things He is doing. I have been freshly aware of how many people do not know Jesus, people with whom I rub shoulders daily! In my hometown, violence has been on the rise and is spinning out of control. Local groups use this city as a home-base to fight slavery internationally. Dementia and cancer and aging and other health-related concerns leave multitudes of people hungry for grace and healing and love. Broken relationships plague my family and friends as much as any other neighborhood. M. and I are praying daily how we can be available each day to people who have a need. We are also praying how we can best and most humbly and gratefully receive the love and ministry the Lord offers us. 

How about you? How can you be used by your grace-filled God today, where you live, where you are? How can you best receive His love and grace today? Blessings!

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Always More

Location: Conference room next to my office in Franklin, Indiana, lunch break on the 5th of August, Ash Wednesday. 

There is always more to do, is there not? Always more to say. Always more about which to think. 

So much that I think about I would like to record. There are many things I would like to be doing that I am not. This, though, is a season of growing, of learning obedience, of choosing to agree with the things the Father is leading me in and to. You know, at work, you can always push back when your boss asks or expects something, or you can dive into it enthusiastically because you respect your boss and trust his leading. It is the same with God, is it not? My often low understanding of what my Lord is doing in my life should not be an excuse for be to dig in my heels and resist. Instead I should say, “Certainly!” and roll up my sleeves, enjoying the task before me. It is not an easy lesson to learn, and it is even harder to live. That is how you end up where God wants you to be though! 

My mother-in-law arrived home in Romania, to the dismay of our less-occupied apartment in Indianapolis. Our month with her was nothing short of miraculous, and we look forward to doing it again! We talked about trying to extend her visit, but is it not usually our inclination to try to hang on to something wonderful, even if we ruin it in the end? We decided to let the visit expire, leaving memories of a splendid time, instead of trying to stretch it to infinity with the danger of something happening to cause it to end on a sour note. How blessed we are to have the parents we do! How thankful we are that my mother-in-law braved an airplane for the first time to grace us with her presence! 

Our next new normal is underway, and we hope it includes you! We are looking forward to catching up with you as we run the race marked out for us! We are still tripping up here and there, but I have the impression that things are looking up more and more! Our little blessings are growing into bigger blessings, and our marriage remains fabulous. Most of all, we have an amazing, saving God. If you do not know Him, just ask!

Have a great week or month or year till I manage to write next!

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Looking Out

Location: Our new apartment (in Indianapolis) at 5:30pm on the 17th of February. 

102_8223 102_8217Quick facts: All five of us are good–blessed and highly-favored of the Lord. Babies are healthy, mother-in-law is wonderful, and our marriage is better than ever. We enjoy the bad weather from our new apartment’s big window, and we still are off-line and apologizing for not responding to your emails. 

As I watch the freezing rain that canceled our ministry gathering tonight turn to enormous flakes of snow, I am thankful that I arrived home from work early to find a quiet house with resting children and happy ladies. We are SO enjoying my mother-in-law’s presence with us this month, and if I am not mistaken, so is she! We feel so blessed that she willingly weathered the difficult journey to spend this time with us, and the Lord’s favor was on her travels and continues on her visit thus far. Our great God also protected each family member from the rotten cold that kept me home from work two days last week, and H. and E. are taking turns in the spotlight of their grandmother’s attention. M. also benefits from the help around the house, and I just LOVE all of it! “How great the Father’s love for us! How vast beyond all measure!” 

Our new apartment closer to church and closer to my parents is spacious and filled with blessings. We certainly miss Franklin, but we have benefited from the move. If you are reading this, it means I managed to find some internet somewhere to tackle our hundreds of emails. We still plan to line up internet, but we have just had a lot of other priorities in life lately. One of them has been praying for you, and even without access to the web, we pray together for you and miss your company. 

The Lord has been working mightily within us, convicting and growing us, even as we read the updates from you that are awaiting responses. We recall our days of international networking and being on the front lines of our fervent faith, and we realize that the Lord wants more from us than we have been giving. M. and I are both praying about how to be faithful in the situations in which we find ourselves. Our marriage is splendid, by the grace of God, but we feel that we have failed to use it effectively to minister in the world around us. Thus we are seeking the Lord’s leading as we reassess our priorities in prayer and fruitfulness. We are trying to invest ourselves more deeply in our church, and we are speaking to mentors whom God has put in our lives. We are also lifting up our prayer life for the Lord’s reworking. We have had some remarkable prayer times of late, as well as some very humbling moments as the Lord breaks our heart and rebuilds us into His image. 

  • Do you ever feel like God has more for you, if you would only let Him lead you into it? More life, more grace, more love, more wisdom, more blessing, more responsibilities, more challenges, more faith?
  • Do you ever feel like you failed to be obedient at a point in the path, and now you have to pray about how to get back into the center of your Father’s will?
  • Do you ever feel like you have tried your hardest to be a faithful disciple and yet somehow you find yourself like Peter, being rebuked by Jesus, or like the other disciples, arguing who is the greatest, or like Saul, fighting against the very Lord you are called to serve?
  • Do you ever feel like life is passing you by without you acting boldly to sow into each moment for a hundred-fold harvest in the future? 

Oh, how I have missed writing! Oh, how I have missed being in close contact with each of you, listening to you, celebrating with you, grieving with you, praying with you, encouraging you, being encouraged by you! 

My work is going well. Our children are developing beautifully. Our church is moving forward. Our Lord is speaking to us, even as He surrounds us with wonderful friends and family. It is difficult to conceive of the extent of our blessings. 

That also makes it hard to explain why we struggle so much to stay in contact, to be on time, and to do other little things that are normal for most people. Maybe those of you who are parents of small children can identify. Maybe those of you who have lived in a foreign culture or a cross-cultural marriage know what we are experiencing. Maybe those of you who have waded through life’s challenges and spiritual lessons have an idea of what we have faced. 

Or maybe not. Maybe we are weaker than most Christians. Maybe we are less capable than most new parents. Maybe we are less flexible than most international travelers. Maybe we fall more, struggle more, and are in need of more grace. Maybe we just can’t cut it; maybe we are destined to fail. 

I am learning that this is not a bad place in which to dwell. To abide. In my weakness, He is strong. In my failures, He is sovereign. In my frustrations, He is peaceful. I have learned that like the snow outside my window, I like watching His grace, His peace, His miracles. Even if it means I am sitting wrapped up in a seemingly impossible challenge. 

So to answer you question, yes, I am working on responding to your email. I am hoping to start teaching and preaching again. I desire to be a sharp and effective tool in the hand of the Spirit of God. I am eager to have dinner with you, or to meet you for coffee. Or to work in the center of my Father’s will with you. But while you wait on my note or my call, please join me in waiting upon the Lord. Join me in laying our hearts before the Lord, saying, “Behold, Lord, here is my heart, and my hurts and my holy desires. Grace them into a reflector of Your glory, a lantern of your Light!”

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We’ve Moved!

Location: Parents’ house in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 5:55pm on the 26th of January.

Just a quick note to say that not only did we have a new baby nearly four weeks ago, but now we have moved, as well!  Thus, we are spinning as we try to find the next new “normal,” and we do not yet have internet.  So thanks for your patience as we are silent in our replies to your emails, and thanks for your prayers!  We are actually in very high spirits and blessed of God, it’s just hard to get in touch with us!  Talk to you soon!

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Holding the Baby

Location: Dining room table in Franklin, Indiana, in a quiet apartment at 5:04pm on the 15th of January

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Well, as you can see, everyone wants to hold the baby, and this is only a couple of the photos we have taken of people holding Baby E.  H. loves her new brother, and tries to help in any way she can!  We are also grateful beyond words to our Father for His blessings, and to all of you for your extensive help!  Thanks to all of you who have prayed us through a couple of very long weeks that sped by in a blur.  Thank you, also, for the meals, visits, cards, gifts, emails, babysitting, and other help!  We really appreciate it, and we thank the Lord for you!  If you have written us, please be patient as you await a response or even blog posts.  It seems as though we are riding through each day clinging to its coat-tails!  And I will not even begin to try to describe our nights!  We are not only adjusting to being a family of four, but it looks like we will be moving on Sunday, and I plan to go back to work on Monday.  Please continue to pray for us.

We are missing Romania and all of our friends there, and we count it a privilege to pray for you.  Also, we are looking forward to M.’s mom coming to visit in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, the Lord has been working on our hearts, making us holy like Him.  I think we must have a long way to go, for it sure is challenging at times!  We are looking forward to all that God has in store for us this year.  We hope to be more involved in our church by moving closer.  We also hope to do a better job of maintaining contact with all of you, through whatever means possible.  Most of all, we want to go deeper in prayer, to better know the gentle heart of our great Lord, and to dwell in the center of His will, rest, joy, and purpose for our lives.  Thanks for being a part of God’s plan for our lives–we hope you are blessed by our friendship and prayers as well.  Let us rejoice in the Lord always–day, sleepless-night, in celebration, in storm, in every moment!

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Quick Update

Location: Comfortably snowed in, in our apartment in Franklin, Indiana, on the 5th of January, 8:30pm.

Here are a couple more photos, including a close-up of the baby–by request!  Today was a bit of a challenge again, and we are fighting colds on top of “new baby routine.”  However, yesterday was very nice, as you can see in these photos.  Special thanks to all of you who have helped us so much, giving your time, meals, and lending a hand where it was needed!  Thanks especially for your prayers!

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A Photo

Location: Still in the hospital, but not for long! 2:03pm on New Year’s Day.

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Watch for more!  We bless you in the Name of Jesus!

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