Outside of Ourselves

Location: Lunch break at work, not far from Indianapolis, at 12:45pm on the 27th of July.

The Lord has been showing us his lavish favor as He probably always does–I’m afraid it just goes so often unrecognized!  Thank You, Lord!

We recently celebrated our daughter’s second birthday, M. passed an exam that will lead to more independence for her in this country, I have some new opportunities at work, we have been in touch with several of our wise mentors and covered in prayer by so much of the Church.  How blessed we are!  I got to share the truth of the Good News of Jesus at our work again today–I have so many open doors!  Our small group Bible study will meet again tonight, and last night we got to support our pastor who was starring in a local play.  We have had several deep discussions within our family and within our local community of believers about how to live out our faith in this disintegrating world, and what a privilege it is to have a God with such abundant grace pouring His love, protection, and provision over us as He guides us toward His glory!

One of the things that my Father is particularly challenging my heart about today is this: In what ways do I and we (as a family) need to invest outside of ourselves in what God is doing?  I think that it is part of the normal, natural human condition that no matter how zealous we are about anything in life, we gradually, impercepibly lose momentum and head toward a static position of inertia.  In other words, no matter how altruistic or servant-hearted we are, it is not long before we begin considering our own needs again, and those of our immediate family.  This is what challenges marriages, loyalty in the workplace, goal achievement in any setting, and of course, a living and active faith in and discipleship of Jesus Christ.

So will you pray with me?  Will you ask the Lord to show you (and me) how He wants us to step, move, invest in what He is doing nearby, in someone else?  My Lord is gracious unto me and takes care of my needs; my job is to look to His glory and to the needs of my neighbors and my enemies.

Have a great July-end!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

July Photos

102_8825 102_8766 102_8769 102_8784 102_8797 102_8819 102_8820 102_8821To go with the previous post…

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer Began: Abstract

Location: Home Sweet Home in Indianapolis, Indiana at 4:22pm on the 12th of July.

Hoped to have time to write; two babies woke up and changed that! Here is a linear abstract of the past month:

The Zoo

New opportunities at work

A military memorial

God’s Word to family members

Another splash park

Medical-ministry strategies in an Asian nation

Informal marriage counseling

A Cutco knives demonstration

Small-group Bible studies

Lots of prayer

Best friends moved out-of-state

Driver’s license aspirations

Computer virus: Chameleon

Potty training

Fun with out-of-state cousins

Fear of fireworks and sleepless nights

Famliy photos

More dancing practice and upcoming performances

Babies with strep throat and bowel trouble

Babysitting and surprise visits

Blessings from family and friends

One birthday down and one coming up

Lots of answered prayer!

God is good!  Email questions and watch for photos!

Posted in Uncategorized

Racing, Dancing, Fighting, Resting, . . . Living!

Location: Our front veranda on a FANTASTIC June 14th, warm sun and cool breeze, at 3:35pm.

102_8517  For the past month, I have had so many things to write, and I have had so much trouble finding time to do so.  Now, I finally managed a few minutes (with the help of my wonderful wife!), but I have to sort through all that has cluttered into corners of my mind to recall what to tell you!

How about I work backward?

Today, for the first time, my wife and our two children under two years old and I participated in a race together.  102_8582A sore back kept us from jogging as we had intended, but we had a blast, and I think we finished well!  I ran the race last year, but this year gave me the opportunity to include my amazing family.  M. and I have to work to find recreational things we can do together as a couple, because of time, varied interests, and differing athletic skills.  The 102_8579race worked well, but it also marked another huge step: after so much time being humbled by the parenting process, we participated today as a family together in ministry.  The purpose of today’s race was to raise awareness about human-trafficking and to unify people in the fight against it.  How neat it was to be able to stand as a young family with hundreds of other people in condemning and responding to the evil and injustice that threatens to overwhelm us in this world!

Another recreational activity that M. and I recently began is German folk-dancing! 

102_8541

This weekly activity pulls us into an older generation and another culture, binding us closer together with lots of laughter and a good workout!

I wish we had pictures to show you of H. and E.’s first visit to a splash park!  That was a blast!  Not only that, but look at M.’s craft projects that she finished today!  She framed and mounted doilies made decades ago in my family.  Are they not beautiful?102_8585

By God’s grace and in addition to recreational activities, we have been able to reach out in more ministry, too.  I think I mentioned in another post that we started a weekly prayer group against a specific evil to which our Lord called us to respond.  Last week, however, we finally began our small group Bible study that is now meeting at our apartment.  This is something we have been praying about for several months, and we are thrilled with its debut!

102_8545Another victory has to do with sleep.  For those of you who have not seen us in person for a little while, we look a little haggard as we have not slept well for nearly two years.  This week, though, again only by God’s grace, we took some steps toward getting the rest we need.  By following the simple, heart-wringing counsel of a book about the sleep babies need, we survived two terrible nights of establishing a new routine and reaped the harvest of rest on the third and fourth nights.  Praise the Lord!

Less successful was another first: over Memorial Day weekend, we made a five-hour drive to Canton, Ohio for a wedding–our first such trip with two little ones.  We made it to Canton and had a fun weekend, but you would not believe it if I described the things that went wrong that trip!  Let’s just say we learned some ways NOT to do it!

102_8570We have been extremely privileged to walk with some friends through extremely difficult situations, and to mentor others who are the edge of God doing great things in their hearts and in their lives!  This has been a highlight that buoys us while we spend our regrets wishing we could manage our correspondance better, wanting to find time to invite more friends and family to dinner, and dreaming that some day we might tick a few items off our “To Do” lists!102_8577

All this while our heads and hearts are prayerfully asking and listening to the Lord about the present and the future; about overwhelming evils and the necessity of focusing on the goodness of our God; about our governments, suffering people, the culture around us; about stewarding our lives and our resources to result in the maximum investment in the glory of our Father; and about being humbled and broken by our work, our prayers, our relationships, and our lifestyle.

102_8583There is so much more!  Yet I have already written longer than most of you want to read!  So we will pause for now and say thanks for journeying with us.  We heard a neat sermon yesterday that spoke of how often we forget that many times the difficult situations we face are simply examples of God teaching us along the journey, which is just as important sometimes as the next destination!

So we have been learning a lot along the way, and we hope you have, too!  Look forward to seeing you at the next stop! 102_8560

Posted in Uncategorized

Respite

Location: My borrowed blue recliner in Indianapolis on the 16th of May, watching the rain outside my window at 5:08pm.

This week flew by, full of work and with little sleep.  Today I got to leave work early, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with my family.  For the moment, both children are sleeping and my marvelous wife is finishing up some house-chores before we begin our Sabbath evening.  It feels good to sit and listen to the tick-tock of the clock and whisper of the rain.

I have been wanting to write this week, precisely because of our lack of sleep.  God reminded me of something that I wanted to share with you.

I believe it was Monday night, when I had to rise early to go to the prayer group that meets before work on Tuesday, that I hardly slept at all.  Likely due to imperfect parenting, we are still struggling to get both our babies to sleep through the night.  It happened two nights in a row, and then since then, sleep has been something we only dream of in our most real-seeming moments of the blurry mirage we seem to inhabit.

So in the middle of the night Monday, I got up to pray.  I was grumpy about our children not sleeping, and thus us not sleeping.  I say I was praying, but I was really only complaining to my compassionate Lord.  This God we serve, though, was not fooled by my whining, and instead pointed out the lies I was believing, and the Truths I should have been reciting.

Lies:

  • I am entitled to something better than this (my present situation).
  • I have the right to know “why?”!
  • I know better than God in this situation.
  • God, my Father, is not doing what is best.
  • God is not good, nore is He loving, nor faithful.
  • I cannot trust God.

I was complaining about lack of sleep, but it made me think of friends whose family members were murdered.  I thought of terrorist attacks and tornadoes, and all sorts of terrible things that happen, and I recognized that these are lies all of us are tempted to believe.  Have you ever caught yourself believing these lies?

But here is the Truth:

  • Our Father, God, is always faithful, good, and loving!
  • Our Father is always doing what is best in any given situation!
  • My Father is always working for my good and His glory, even if I do not see or understand it!
  • I can always trust my Father!
  • It does not matter “why?”!
  • I am not entitled to anything, for I have been crucified with Christ!

If you never surrendered yourself to Jesus, allowing who you were to be crucified with Christ and the Holy Spirit to live freely in you, then neither are you entitled to anything, because you stand condemned in an evil world, with no hope for pardon from your sins apart from Jesus.

Jesus, though, offers us life.

Christ-Follower, Athiest, Agnostic, are you willing to live on this Truth?  Join me in bowing, burying my whining and grumpiness, and praising my Lord who offered me new life through His grace, knowing and doing what was best for me, for His glory.  Praise to the Lord of all!

Posted in Uncategorized

Here we are!

Location: H.’s bedroom as I wait for her to fall asleep, 9:12pm on the 8th of May.

102_8507 102_8508 102_8489 102_8496 102_8497

Posted in Uncategorized

GoodNight!

Location: Lunch-break in Franklin, Indiana at 12:37pm on the 7th of May, 2014.

The birds are chirping loudly out here on this warm, sunny day.  It is time to celebrate!  Last night was the first night that both of our babes slept through the night without making a noise!  We have been looking forward to that!  Praise the Lord and celebrate with us!

Once again, I have fallen behind in writing, but in part it is because of so much progress in our family life!  I have some great new photos of the children I hope to post soon.  Meanwhile, I do not want this blog to only be about my children, as wonderful as they are!  They are merely one marvelous part of the journey on which God is leading us!  M. and I enjoyed 5 ballroom dance lessons. and we have been planting flowers and tomatoes at our apartment.  While trying to make more time for recreation, we also been more involved at church and ministries.  I made it to part of a work day, and M. plans to head to a women’s retreat.  We are part of a prayer group, a small group Bible study will begin meeting in our home soon (God-willing!), and I have the honor of sharing at another church in a couple of weeks.  I had the privilege of visiting with a local homeless man a couple of weeks ago, and I am watching the Lord do neat things among the Alzheimer’s and dementia population at my work.  M. and I have been more intentional in meeting with mentors and Christian friends who can sharpen us spiritually.  We have also had the joy of involving ourselves in things God is doing in the church in Romania, Syria/Israel, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

What has the Lord been teaching you?  Is your life bearing fruit?  What needs pruning in your life?

What does it mean to be ready for Jesus to return?  Are you ready?  Does He know you?

I have heard several sermons lately on the return of Jesus.  It is good to remember that He loves us so much that He came and, as H. keeps saying, “Jesus died on a cross!”  It is also good to remember that He lives again, and that He is coming back for us.  In fact, as I have listened to a favorite preacher remind us of this, we inadvertantly learned a new habit: the last three nights, H. has fallen asleep more easily listening to sermons preached by one of my favorite preachers!

What better thoughts to have in your head as you drift off to sleep.  What better Savior to have living in your heart!  Goodnight!

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

102_8412 102_8406

Posted in Uncategorized