Wills, News, Romania, and Fruit

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana on one of the first beautiful days of spring weather this year, 8 March, 2015, at 3:42.

Start the watch.

I haven’t managed to blog since Thanksgiving.  I miss it; some of you miss it.  So I am going to write at least a bit.  When the watch stops, so will I!

Life is good, and I wish I knew how to word it in such a way to challenge you to the next step of greatness in your own life.  In fact, life is so good, that I never get to blog!  I was just telling someone recently that I got to a point in my travels where I took fewer pictures because I wanted to truly experience the journey, instead of always living my trips through the viewfinder of a camera, only to go back and reminisce later about experiences that I never really experienced!

That’s how life is right now.  People ask me if I’m writing down all the amazing things our children say and do.  I have a lot of other things I would like to blog about, and even my prayer journal does not get as much journaling as it used to.  Why?  Because life is too rich right now to cheapen it by confining it to words!  When we were married more than three years ago now, we had a lot of zeros–zero children, zero money, zero homes, zero cars, zero good health, etc.  Now, by the grace of God, our Lord has ushered us into a time of abundance!  Though our “To Do” list always remains too abundant, we have so much for which to be thankful!

We always trusted God to provide, and He certainly did!  We have beautiful children, a little money in the bank, a place to live, a car to drive, quite good health, fewer sleepless nights, and much more!  Now we are praying to trust our God just as much . . . don’t we humans always have the temptation of trying to do things ourselves?  With our own power?  With our own wisdom?  So we ask the Lord to not let us forget Him and His sovereignty in the easier times (isn’t it easy to turn to God when things get tough?).  We also know that this “abundance” could transform into challenge or need tomorrow, and so we pray that we can steward this season and the resources we have now to be fruitful and prepared for whatever may come next.  Our one goal is that God will be glorified!

After all, we have so many brothers and sisters in other parts of the world whose faith and faithfulness makes ours look like life in a dollhouse!  People are loosing their lives, their families, their homes, their sanity . . . these are such difficult days we live in!  So what does it look like for us to be faithful here, in the neighborhood in which we live, which is relatively safe, but with just as much desparate need, especially spiritual need!

We have an opportunity to visit Romania again in a few weeks!  How we hope we can use our brief time there well!  May we use our brief time on this earth well, too, that others might know our wonderful Father!  Yesterday, M. and I drafted a will, because we want people–especially our children–to know we love them and prepare for their best, even if something happens to us.  That is our prayer in life, too, that we might live so intentionally and beautifully that you would be blessed by us, that you might see through us to the Father who loves us and offered us–and you!–abundant life through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus!

Ok, dirty bathrooms, a grocery list, a sink full of dishes, and life in general awaits!  Off I go, back into reality!  But may the reality of my heart bleed through these words and point you to the God who has been faithful in my need, faithful in my abundance, faithful in my desparate times, and faithful in the wee hours of my most sleepless weeks!  He is good, no matter what our mainstream news or Main Street morals publish in the press!  We bless you in the Name of Jesus!

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Thanksgiving Culture

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today has been an interesting day of enjoying my favorite holiday. We had great family time this morning, thanking the Lord for all His goodness. We gatherered with nearly fifty relatives at lunch time, and then we have had a quiet afternoon at home while our children nap.

I have several thoughts to share before our children awake…

– This morning, as I was listening in prayer, it seemed to me that the Lord suggested I give up the blog for a season. I am thinking about it and praying about it, but it might be time. I will let you know.

– I had and heard a couple of conversations today that made me think about the differences of cultures and perspective. One young man from South Africa was praising the positive differences of life in the USA compared to corruption in his culture. Another young lady was describing the highlights of her urban, young-professional life. Both saddened my heart as I thought about the evil and corruption that exists in every country and culture, including in the USA, and as I thought about how we prioritize things that really matter so little in the grand scheme of things. I really live counter-cultural even in my “home” country, even among my family, because of the things Jesus is doing in my heart. I do not have all the answers, but I certainly feel the culture shock of being different than the culture around me.

-M. and I are trying to cultivate a culture of thanksgiving and gratitude in our lives and in our family. I was explaining to my daughter today as it snowed that even if every snowflake represented one of God’s blessings to us, they would never come close to representing all the things for which we owe Him thanks! We are very thankful for so many people and things and experiences!

We are praying for you! Please let us know how we can pray for you, specifically. M. and I re-attended a marriage seminar last weekend that had impacted us a couple of years ago, and it refreshed our passion for strong marriages and families, as well as for Christ to have His way in our short lives on this earth. We have a list of struggling marriages we are praying for, and we are eager to watch God work in those and in other difficult situations that we know many of you are facing. We bless you in the Name of Jesus! Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Advent!

(If you do not know what Advent is and are a little jaded by the commercialism of Christmas in the USA, look in to Advent. I think we are going to celebrate Advent very intentionally in our family this year. Join us!)

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Until Interruption…

Location: Our bedroom, Indianapolis, October 24th, 4:28pm.

I’m typing on borrowed time as a neighbor dropped in to visit with M. and E., and H. is napping in the children’s room.

Life is VERY good, and I wanted to tell you about it, so I will type until I get interrupted!  Besides, you are probably growing restless with my blog-silence!

We dropped in to the zoo today; always a great treat for our children!  They are so much fun, and we are trying to enjoy every moment with them!  This fall has been beautiful, and on my days off (like today), we try to enjoy the autumn as a family!

Last Saturday, my wife gave me a special treat . . . she helped me get away for nearly 5 hours by myself!  This was quiet devotional time, one-on-one with the Lord, for which I had been thirsting for quite some time!  In fact, I do not think I had enjoyed any length of alone time (outside of working or sleeping) since H. was born more than two years ago!  What a refreshing time I had with my Father in a local wooded park, equipped with my journal and a Bible!

Speaking of two years, our children are sleeping better finally; THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!  We feel like a new man and a new woman thanks to the little bit of rest we are starting to get!  Hallelujah!

One of the burdens we are praying about is about eight marriages around us that are falling apart.  By the grace of God, we rejoice that our marriage is beautiful and so much fun, but we are devastated by the situations that so many loved ones are facing!  One the other hand, we are thrilled to help our church host a marriage event next month, and we already have a lot of interest for it!  We see God at work in marriages and families all around the globe; after all, what better way to get to know the intricacies of God than to learn to love one another in family relationships?

We also had the privilage of visiting with some missionaries to Romania who are currently in the USA, and last night we heard via email from some long-lost friends I had met in France several years ago.  Today I called another friend by accident; again a friend with whom I have not been in touch recently.  Oh, and I had a bit of an abreviated conversation last weekend with a good friend from college with whom I had all but lost touch for probably a year or more.

Life has been busy as usual, though we are intentionally trying to rest more.  We continue German folk-dancing once a week, but other than that, we do not have regular evening activities.  I am also completing a three-month transition at my work from a position working with residents with advanced dementia, to a new position that will include more aspects of safety oversight in the organization.  The transition has been grueling, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the new position will be a blessing in many respects.

We have been challenged greatly by the world events reported in the news, and our prayer life continues to grow.  We are not only enjoying deeping prayer as a couple, but also in a morning prayer group, and we also have a lively small group that meets in our apartment.  We strongly recommend all three types of fellowship with God and with other believers in your own life.  You will not remain the same!

Meanwhile, privately, the Lord is working on several aspects of our own lives, and especially teaching us new things about such as generosity, rest, and the Spirit-led life.  Sometimes we learn through groanings and trial, other times more pleasantly through the Bible or sermon, but we are certainly being prepared for whatever lies ahead.  Today we failed in some of the paperwork we tried to complete, but we are still working toward a season of life back in Romania, waiting for that opportunity while redeeming our time here for the glory of the Lord.

We are thrilled that the Lord is working so powerfully in our family, in His Church, and in every part of the world.  The problem is that we want to be involved in so much of it, and we have to quiet our hearts and listen carefully to His leading so that we will be right in the center of His will, ready for whatever He asks of us.  We were challenged recently by our pastor who dared us to ask the questions: “Do the people around me feel loved by me?” and “Does God feel loved by me?”  I am afraid that many of you would answer that question far differently than I would hope; thus we are prayerfully considering how our Christ’s love can be more genuine, more visible, and more fruitful in us.  We want our friends and family and even enemies to feel valued by the love of Jesus at work in us.  My wife does that so beautifully with her friends and with the neighbors especially!  Not to mention her husband and children!  She is an inspiration to me!  But we both desire to more effectively love you and the other people the Lord has put in our lives!  As a natural networker, it has been an embarrassing struggle for me to have dropped out of contact with so many people I care about and to watch my inbox gather emails by the hundreds and my blog lie dormant until it gathers dust!  We look forward to constantly improving our investments in relationships!

In fact, my wife recently began getting together with another local gal from Romania, who even spent some time at my wife’s high school growing up (different years)!  Small world, huh!

So God is good, blessing us, challenging us, and glorifying His Name, we pray!

Oops, I think I hear my interruption!  We also have dinner guests arriving soon!  Hopefully we can post more pictures before too long, but hope you enjoy a quick update!  May God get the glory!  He sure is good to us, and He has brought us through some challanging times!

We bless you in the Name of Jesus!

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Son Wanted to Say Hi, Too

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The Missing Photo

Here’s the photo I had tried to attach to the previous post!  Smiles at the Indiana State Fair after German-Folk Dancing performance.

 

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August Update

Location: In my pyjamas at home in Indianapolis, at 3:20pm on Friday the 22nd of August.

For some reason, I am having trouble adding a photograph to this post, so I apologize if there is no picture by the time this is finished.  I also sigh, recognizing that it has been nearly a month since I last wrote.  I have had so many urges to write, but listen to what kind of things have kept me from so doing.

Today is the birthday of two people that we love–one nearby and one in Spain; happy birthday!

M. got her US driver’s license!  How exciting!  She has been doing well, and it has definitely been a help to the family to have two drivers!

Not only did we visit the State Fair (a first for three out of four of us in the family), but M. and I performed there.  I think I mentioned that we have been doing German folk-dancing.  We have participated in a couple of performances, and we have some more coming up soon.

I began a new job at the same place of employment.  I am excited about the opportunities that will bring, but for now, I have been stretched to fulfill multiple roles until we are able to hire my replacement.

Our church involvement continues, and we have celebrated with several people and families we know inside and outside the church who have recently been married or welcomed a baby into their family.

 We have had the sad honor of praying with and providing support for two dear couples we know whose marriages are struggling.  Please pray for these couples!

All four of us have been sick this past week, which has not been a fun way to relax!  That is why I am in my pyjamas.

We have been watching the events of the world unfold as all of Creation groans for the justice of our Almighty God.

 We have been carried along by the grace of our Lord in our own marriage, in parenting, in friendships, in ministry, and especially in prayer and our spiritual lives. The Lord continues to teach us and bless us, to provide for us, to mature us, and to reveal His glory.  May His Name be praised!

M. and I were especially challenged recently when we listened to Joni Eareckson Tada in a message from 2013: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/squeezing-lemon/.  It was about becoming more intimate with Jesus while pesevering through pain.

Well, I have a lot of profond thoughts, but I also have two children that woke up from their naps, and I have to get rid of this illness enough to go to work tomorrow morning.  Thanks for all your prayers.  Thanks for celebrating with us.  Thanks for your love!  We look forward to staying in touch with you, and hopefully more often than once a month!

 

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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!

 

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July Photos

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

 

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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!

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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

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