Friday, March 28, 2008

Breakfast surprise

Have you ever had one of those unexpected shocks or surprises that makes your stomach feel all fluttery and sends mild shock feelings shooting down your arms? I think that feeling is related to the adrenaline rush as your body responds to the unexpected. It's trying to decide all at once; fight or flight? Well that happened to me this morning over breakfast. I've always been a Grapenuts lover; the crunchy little nuggets full of nutty wheat flavor. Natural whole wheat, too, so it must be good for me. As a child I even liked Grapenuts. You can imagine my thrill when I found them at Costco in the economy size box. The worst thing about Grapenuts is remembering that they are very dense and the serving size is just 1/2 cup. But anyway, back to this morning...

We were having cereal this morning and my choice was Grapenuts. We're using rice milk instead of regular cow's milk, just to see if we have any health benefits, so that was all I put on my cereal. A "naturally" great start to the morning I thought. I was eating along when I noticed a very small stickish looking thing in my cereal. Now when you eat a more natural cereal you expect that small stickish looking things might sometimes be found in your bowl, so I was not alarmed, but I did remove it to the napkin and continued eating. Just out of boredom I started playing with the stickish looking thing with my finger and I discovered that it kind of had an underbelly and little legs on the back side. Ew, I thought, I'm glad I didn't eat that. Technically, I guess it is natural, too, but not something I planned into the meal. I took a more careful look at my bowl, digging around and making sure there was nothing else in there. Since I didn't see anything else I decided that I must have dodged a bullet and I continued eating. (Now at this point I'm sure Andrew is reading this and shaking his head, guessing the ending of the story and thinking that I should have thrown it all out at the first sighting of the stickish looking thing. But he's not always right and I do love Grapenuts so much). Several bites later, there it was, another stickish looking thing. I quickly picked it out, confirmed it was a relative of the earlier discovery, and began further digging through the cereal. How could this be? I looked thoroughly and there was nothing! I had to figure out if my precious Grapenuts would have to be wasted or if there was some other explanation for these little surprises popping up. I looked around the room and found no obvious source. I thought maybe they were dropping out of the light fixture while I wasn't looking. Nope, it was clear. I tried the rice milk box, which I knew was silly since they are all sealed up, but still I needed to check every other possibility. The rice milk was fine. Finally I pulled out the Costco sized Grapenuts box that was 1/4 full. I looked inside and immediately saw, there at the bottom, two more stickish looking things, but these two were moving around and had tiny wings. There was that feeling, the fluttery rush of adrenaline and mild shock in my arms; fight or flight? More like gag or puke in this case. Even as I write about the discovery I can feel the fluttery adrenaline feeling again. Or is it the stickish looking things I probably ate squirming around? At any rate, I'll have to buy some more Grapenuts, that box is in the trash! I finished breakfast with Kashi Go Lean, it's "sticks" are part of the cereal and they are much larger so there would be no confusion. The moral of the story... just because it's "natural", doesn't mean you should eat it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Road to Bear Paw, part 2

We left for Washington on Friday after many delays. Despite the late start and threat of inclement weather, we were kept safe the whole trip, up and back.

Saturday was spent at a neighboring camp enjoying their Easter outreach. They presented the gospel twice: one focused on the kids and the other time more for the adults. Even though they had a record turn out they had more than enough donated Easter baskets for all the kids. The leftovers were to be passed out in Spokane to some needy families. I've been apart of assembling baskets in the past, which is a great joy in and of itself, but it was fun to actually see the faces of kids receiving them (even if 3 of them were mine).

Sunday we rose "early" for the Baptist Church 7:30am service in the park. Brrr! We all bundled up and enjoyed worshipping and hearing the gospel message while over looking the Pend Oreille river. After that they served muffins, hot chocolate, and coffee in their mostly finished new recreation facility. Since we had time before the traditional Easter program we walked the streets of Ione. The kids did more climbing than walking, with all the hills created by the snow plows. Josiah was excited to find a screw driver lost in one of them. Then we composed ourselves and joined the service which told the story of Christ's resurrection interspersed with some worship songs. It was nice. Later that night we did the Resurrection Eggs that Family Life has put together. The kids really know the Easter story well so they were able to give share some great details themselves.

Monday was the big day at Bear Paw. We had to request an extension and present some ideas we had as to how to proceed. We offered to manage the camp until we closed on the loan so that they wouldn't have to work on preparing the camp for the season but that option didn't seem desirable to them. The owners and realtors were fairly flexible, and have really worked with us given our unique and complicated situation, but they do want to close this chapter of their lives soon and so left the offer on the table but are free to market the camp in a few days. We left appreciative that we were not just cut off, disappointed that we don't have a move in date still, and with an even hotter fire under our tails to get the sale of our business closed out, which gives us our down payment money on the camp. This is our biggest prayer request right now!

Tuesday we got a message from Gordon with AMF that we were accepted with them as "Approved Candidates on Deputation". We were so excited to get that confirmation and are really looking forward to working with them. Now the work begins! On Tuesday we also had the opportunity to visit the Kalispel Indian reservation and enjoy their new community center. They have a water park-like pool and workout facilities with a medical, vision, and dental clinic coming in the future. The great opportunity here is that they are hiring water aerobics instructors! I was trained and taught water aerobics just before Sierra was born. Although I wanted to teach spin classes and weight lifting, water aerobics was all that was available at the time. Can you believe that a 9 month job I took 3 years ago would be a possible bridge to connecting in our new community?! Praise the Lord!! His plan is perfect.

Any free time we had was spent reading books, playing in the icy snow, and feeding the wild turkeys and deer from the front porch. We had many great pictures so I posted a good portion of them in this slide show. Enjoy!

Easter trip to Bear Paw

So, we'll be packing away and finishing up some sheet rocking and carpeting projects here at home. Andrew will be dealing with all the business sale details and we'll be praying even more fervently for God's will to be done and for him to use us where ever he sees put.

Mountain People

We met many people this Easter weekend up in the Northeast corner of Washington. My first general impressions were that these Mountain people are a great blend of earthy, organic, do-it-yourselfers with a heavy dose of redneck thrown in. What you get is friendly and open people who, in a short amount of time, feel like friends. I'd like to introduce two people that made greater impressions on me.

I met Oscar in the local supermarket. When I see older people alone I like to try to make eye contact and say more than hello. Who knows I might get a good story! Well, with Oscar, I got a few good stories. Everybody knows Oscar. He's 96 years old and uses a wheeled walker to get around (some people think he's only 95 but I'll take his word for it). When I said "Hello" and asked if he had a nice Easter he was a little startled at first but quickly began a conversation as if he'd been waiting for me. When the first person walked by us I noticed him following their footsteps and then chuckling a bit. After a few of these episodes he let me in on his secret. Since he can't see too well he "people watches" by focusing on their feet and how they walk. He described everyone that went by as "waddlers", "lead feet", "tipsy", and even "normal". As I watched with him I noticed a whole new world down there at foot level and we had quite a few good, muffled laughs. Needless to say I couldn't walk away or I might be "categorized"! Long story short, I drove Oscar home (since he had walked to the store in the freezing cold and the whole reason he was sitting there was to warm up and darkness was quickly approaching... I couldn't let him shuffle off out in the elements for even a few blocks!). For my efforts I got to watch some video of him in his younger days playing in a Bluegrass band. Have I ever admitted that I'm a Bluegrass fan? Well, it's out there now! It was fun and I would say time well spent had the family not been worried and sending out the first search party for me. The cell phones are hit or miss up there!

The other people I wanted to introduce you to are a family with 8 kids, one on the way. You know I love big families, too! They have served the Lord with Climbers for Christ and are currently leading a Church in the area. You can feel the presence of the Lord in them; a beautiful balance of peaceful and passionate. I learned through their Christmas letter that they lived well off of $17,000 last year. "Amazing", "resourceful" and "provided for" are words that come to mind. I hope that they will become good friends in the future as we really enjoyed our brief time with them.

We met the rest of the people through Church services and Easter outings. The picture above is of Mia after receiving her basket at a community outreach event. Everywhere we went we were welcomed and felt comfortable very quickly. Several people prayed for us when we shared about our journey in getting to Bear Paw and the last obstacles that we need to overcome. I couldn't help but think, "These new "silver" friends, they're not so bad."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Preparing for... ???

My heart doesn't know how to feel today. This weekend we will go up to the camp and will have to ask for another extension on our closing date. Selling a business is complicated and keeps taking longer that we plan. Selling a house in this market has proven to be tough, too. These obstacles have made it so that we don't have enough down payment money right now and we're due to close in just a few days. In meeting with the sellers we have some ideas that we'll present and hope they will be accepted. We've been praying for creativity and flexibility for both the sellers and ourselves. I'd like to be excited that we could set some time lines for moving and complete the arrangements for how this transaction will finally take place. But, I fear that this opportunity will be taken away from us, as is the sellers right in these situations.
Fear. One of the greatest tools Satan has in his toolbox. It keeps us from moving forward in faith and experiencing God. It threatens to ruin everyday experiences with heart palpitations, sleepless nights, and sweaty palms, not to mention the irritability. Psalm 27 again is what I'm clinging to. Whom shall I fear? The sellers? From my perspective they are in the position to change my future with either a 'yes' or a 'no' on our deal. But are they really in control of my life? Of whom shall I be afraid? From God's perspective this is a moment in time. He has a plan to use my life, our family's lives, for his glory, in a way that uses our gifts and experiences and passions to the fullest. If this door closes, we will know that we did everything we could to get there, we will praise God for all we learned along the way, and we will continue to move forward in faith and knock down every other door we see, until one is opened. Then we will praise God all the more for his provision and direction. But still, we are praying for this door to open and we will go up there this weekend, in faith, with a load of our belongings in the trailer, and we will do all we can to make this happen. Praise God, he already knows the outcome.

Isn't it ironic that all this is happening on Good Friday and Easter weekend! He is risen! Jesus has risen from the dead. He is on the throne. And, he cares about me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Beautiful Fight by Gary Thomas

I've been reading this book rather slowly for just a few days but I feel compelled to stop and recommend it. I was actually looking on for another book that was recommended by a friend but found this one to have higher ratings and I had heard good things about another book this author wrote, Sacred Marriage, which I also purchased. I am only 6 chapters in but have been inspired by the stories of two early Christians who boldly followed Christ despite immediate and severe consequences. The first example was Francis of Assisi who was born into wealth but purposed to see life differently and love the things that God loved. He gave up everything of material value to serve the Lord practically with everything he had. The second example was Vibia Perpetua who was among the many early Christians that were martyred for their faith in God. She knew who her battle was against (Satan) and that she would lose the battle (her earthly life) but win the war (eternal life). The author challenges us as Christians that we will be better known for what we do rather than what we don't do. He also reminds us of God's power. God doesn't sit idly by waiting for the time to come for his return, he is active and alive. Even though we don't live in a time or place where we will be killed for proclaiming our faith in Jesus Christ, we should still proclaim it. And, even if we have little monetarily to lose, we can live without selfish strings attached to our stuff.

I've read in this book about the importance of seeing people the way that God does; in need of a Savior, longing for hope, searching for answers. Sometimes these conditions lead people down dangerous, destructive paths; ones that might even be repulsive or scary to me. From God's perspective I am allowed to see the root of the problem. From my own vantage point I only see the the destruction. When I concentrate on the root of the problem I am filled with compassion, just as God is. He looks at people with love, even in the depths of dark sin.

I was also reminded that we should allow God to use our words to warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak and be patient with everyone (from 1 Thessalonians 5:14). The tongue is a hard beast to tame, this author encourages us to focus on using it for the blessing of others and to proclaim truth. We should allow God to use our words and be willing to risk speaking up.

As I said, I've only just begun this book. The next few chapters focus on "Ears That Hear", "Minds That Think", "Hands and Feet Used by God", and "Hearts That Feel What God Feels", all of which I'm anxious to start reading. Part 3 is the part I'm most excited for though; Embracing the High Call and Duty of Personal Transformation. Intriguing isn't it?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

We had quite the celebrations for Mia this past weekend. One was to celebrate her birthday. We held the party at NW Kids Club which is basically a large indoor playground with a sand box, play fort, jump house, and toddler area, not to mention room to run and play. It was lots of fun and, despite coming off sickness, Mia really loved it, which, after all, is the point these things. The theme was focused around animals, of course, leaning heavily towards horses. When fully dressed she was the sweetest pink cowgirl (thanks to Gramma Linda), but she quickly lost her hat and boots so she could play. In the picture above she's posed with Goldie the dog.

Here she is gathering up "piggies" in the race to put them back in the pig pen. She wasn't satisfied to just bring them back one at a time! We also raced hippy hoppy horses and eventually broke open a stubborn white pinata horse who did not want to give up her loot.

The other celebration took less preparation than the birthday party but also involved a birthday of sorts. Several months ago, Mia prayed and thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for her and for forgiving her sins. Some people call this a "spiritual birthday". Wondering about her understanding of that prayer, I've asked her on different occasions about heaven and sin and what it means to "ask Jesus into your life". She knows as much as a 4 1/2 turning 5 year old can know, that everyone, including herself, "makes bad choices", that she can't get to heaven on her own, and that Jesus died for her sin. That's all truth. Since Jesus himself said, "Let the little children come to me." I knew it was time to celebrate. At our church we recognize new life in Christ with a rose up by the pulpit. This weekend we told them about Mia's prayer and there was her rose, right up front. Praise the Lord! Here is a picture of it, I assume hers is the big one in front!

Friday, March 14, 2008


I recently had a conversation with a friend about walking in high heels. We've all seen women who don't quite have it down. They walk half bent over, in a sort of tip toe form, trying to compensate for the inclination on which their feet are expected to balance while still maneuvering the body to the intended location. On the other hand, I've seen my friend confidently walking in heels even while she was 9 months pregnant! If anyone knows how to do it, she does. So what's her tip? "You gotta trust the heel. Stand up straight and walk like you normally do; heel, toe, heel, toe."
Isn't that a great metaphor for our faith in God? Sometimes trusting God is easy, like walking in a comfy pair of tennis shoes. Heel, toe, heel, toe, no problem, I was born for this. I am confident the shoe is going to hold me and I doubt if I'll fall. Life is good.
But sometimes trusting God requires a great deal more faith, sort of like wearing those high heels. At first stepping out in faith is not very comfortable. "Lord, I am up here on these heels and it is wobbly and I could fall... I could get hurt... I could be really embarrassed." Naturally we want to compensate for our fears so we shuffle along on our toes, bending our knees a bit. Or, maybe we just stand there and not risk walking at all. But, the beauty of the heel is the way it elongates the leg. With the safe and awkward shuffle, there is no elongating or beauty going on. In just standing there, well, you don't get very far. The heels are still on but their purpose has been lost and most likely a sore back or knees will be the result.
So, when God asks you to take a risk, or you feel that life has gotten a bit wobbly; when you realize those risks could result in some pain or embarrassment, trust in God. Stand up straight, walk confidently, heel, toe, heel, toe, like you did when things were more comfortable. One day , walking in faith will feel more natural because you've learned to trust the heels.
Wait upon the Lord. He's the same God that protected you from a fall in the past, he has comforted you when you were flat on your face, and he has your best in mind. Psalm 27 sounds a lot like a guy who knows the meaning of "trust the heels", spiritually speaking. David wrote this Psalm. The same little David who tended the sheep, faced and conquered the giant Goliath, was chased down by a jealous king Saul, eventually became king and who failed many times. The David that God called a man after his own heart. He always kept God on the throne, whether his heart was bursting with joy or breaking with grief. You talk about an elongated leg!

Psalm 27

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Starbucks is coming to Newport!

Hallelujah! The day has come. I had heard rumor that the Safeway in Newport, the city nearest Bear Paw Camp, was planning to remodel and add a Starbucks. In the early stages of pursuing the purchase of the camp it was a tiny confirmation that God knows my needs (I use that term loosely in this case) and enjoys blessing me. It's been 9 months since I first heard the potential of the java juicing giant putting down roots in my future home town, but I just received confirmation from the insurance lady we're working with in Newport that indeed it is under construction this very moment.
This picture is of Mia in November of 2005 but it's the cutest picture I have of anyone drinking a Starbucks beverage. Yes, it's hot chocolate. We were watching the Festival of Lights parade in downtown Salem.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Returning Cans

Today I did my shopping later than usual and it is a Sunday, not my usual day. It was a different crowd than I'm used to which made it interesting. The thing that caught my attention the most was the crowd of seemingly homeless men with carts brimming full of cans waiting so patiently for the recycle machines. Now I haven't recycled my cans for money for quite some time but it reminded me of a time last year, when money was particularly tight. I dutifully tried to gather up the stinky, sticky cans and my three "helpers" with the goal of making it a fun and profitable event for us. I promised we'd use the money to splurge and get a treat. It sounded so great; recycling, building an appreciation for money, teamwork, it had all the components to be a great experience.
First I sorted the cans, plastic and glass to prepare them for each machine. Then assigned the kids a rotation system for loading the cans, one by one into the machine.
The first child pushed the can into the machine. "NOT TOO FAR!!!" I shrieked, "That thing could take your hand off."
The machine took the can, spun it and examined thoroughly to determine if it was worthy of the refund. Is it a brand this store carries? Is it a size this store has sold? Is it in excellent condition? No crunching, squooshing or smashing? OK, 5 cents. Ch-ching. Finally.
During the examination period for the first can, child number two was excitedly beating their can into the little door hoping to get their can examined faster. CRUNCH. I pulled at the can trying to get the wrinkles out. "OK. Put it in there, not too far remember." The machine received the can but quickly rejected it, too smashed. Grr! "OK, let's try putting it in really gently with the bar code facing in to make it easier to read." The machine was not fooled. I tossed it in a bag to retry later. After giving child number two a new can to try, child number one complained that she had already put her can in it was his turn. "That one didn't count, the machine rejected it." 10 cents. 15 cents. 20 cents. Now we're on our way.
"Pay attention, it's your turn." 25 cents. 30 cents. 35 cents. 40 cents. Keeping everyone focused on putting their cans in, yet not getting their hands taken off was taxing. 45 cents. 50 cents. 55 cents. 60 cents. 65 cents. While my efforts were focused on getting the recycling party started, I didn't notice that child number three was in the back of the cart gleefully crunching and squooshing all the other cans. I got an extra cart to isolate child number three and tried to un-crunch some of the damaged cans. Meanwhile world war three broke out in the other cart because they lost track of whose turn it was to feed the machine. I got a third cart to separate the kids. I had a new plan; assembly line. "I'll hand it to you, you hand it to him and then you put it in the machine." "I want to put it in the machine." "OK. We'll switch." "NO!" I popped a couple cans in. 70 cents. 75 cents. I debated whether I should just be the one to put the rest of the cans in, I was the fastest after all, but this was supposed to be a shared experience. 80 cents. 85 cents. "Don't get your hands so close to the machine!" 90 cents. 95 cents. $1.00. What a milestone. We were cruisin' now! $1.05. $1.10. Thankfully, just in time, I saw child number three trying to climb from her cart into the first cart. "Careful!" $1.15. $1.20. By now other recyclers had come to use the machines but were unable to reach them as I had three carts blocking the way. I tried to shuffle our carts out of the way. $1.25. $1.30. $1.35. $1.40.
We were thirty minutes into this experience and had earned nearly $1.50. I could hear Andrew's words, "What's my time worth?" Certainly I'm worth more than $3.00 an hour. Yes, but you can't put a price tag on this experience for the kids. $1.45. $1.50. $1.55. $1.60. $1.65. Much to her delight, child number two discovered drips of old soda were left in some of the cans and was sipping each one before putting them in the machine. That was my limit.
"OK, we're done, throw the cans in the dumpster." Strange that it's located so close to the recycle machines.
"How much money did we make?" three little voices asked in unison.
I took our receipt in, $1.65 worth, cashed it, sanitized everyone's hands and headed to Starbucks. "I'd like an iced grande, non-fat vanilla latte... make it a venti, and three chocolate milks."
There were some great lessons learned that day, it was definitely an experience, but I don't see any reason to repeat it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sick day

This picture is from better days. I woke up sick this morning. In fact, I tossed and turned with the sickness last night and what sleep I did get was interrupted by the girls trading off with their own sicknesses. I had planned to work out with a friend today but now I'm spending my time responding to the whining voices of my patients, bringing fresh water, ice packs, and medicine and playing, Cinderella, Cinderella II, and Cinderella III over and over again. I wish someone was taking care of me and putting my favorite movies in. Feeling sick and sleep deprived and then dealing with sickness is not fun but really my frustration is that I was finally getting that workout schedule in place and the sicknesses are sidelining that. My daily devotions from Proverbs 31 ministries came this morning and what do you know! The author was dealing with the same sicknesses and frustrations. Coincidence? I don't think so. Read it for yourself if you'd like.

It helped me to recognize my feelings of entitlement and selfishness. Last night I caught portions of Supernanny and the one thing I heard the nanny say was "these kids didn't force their way into your family, you wanted to have lots of kids, so don't take your frustrations and parenting shortcomings out on them" or something along those lines. Been there, done that. For today, I am frustrated and disappointed, but nobody asked to be sick. The devotion ended by reminding me that feelings are normal, even frustration, they are apart of how I'm made and the appropriate response to those feelings is to bring them to God rather than let them run wild. It was a good reminder and I love that God doesn't just leave us to get our acts together by ourselves. So, for now, I'm praying for a healthier tomorrow, praising God for our long term health, and asking him to soothe my frustration so I can best take care of everyone and that he'll provide other opportunities to exercise and be with friends.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mark 4:35-41

Today I actually had some uninterrupted time with God to read his word and wouldn't you know it, the passage I read was a direct challenge to my level of fear versus faith. I love it! Have you ever struggled with fear? This small section of scripture follows a time where Jesus has been preaching and teaching quite a bit. Crowds have formed and begun following him around. So the disciples suggest they get on a boat and cross over to the other side of the lake. I wonder why they suggested that? Were they tired and overworked and needed a break for themselves? Were they trying to love and care for Jesus as they saw how much work he had been doing? Were they moving to a new location to share the truth with new groups of people? I'm not sure their motivation but I believe it could only be a pure one. At any rate, Jesus got in the boat and was with them in making the move. And then it hits! The storm. The Bible says "a furious squall came up... waves broke over the boat... it was nearly swamped." I've been there! Blind sided with bad news, a set back, or failure. It is not comfortable and too many times I respond like the disciples did. They ran down to where Jesus was sleeping, woke him up and essentially said, "Don't you care what I'm dealing with?! Where are you in this?!" It struck me that they didn't ask, "Jesus, will you calm the storm?" Isn't that the problem their facing? No, they say, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" I'm not sure they questioned his ability to calm the storm but with these words they definitely questioned his love which is at the root of their faith in him. "For God so LOVED the world, that he sent his only son...", and there he is right in front of them. And for us, "God demonstrates his own LOVE for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
God has truly proven his love, yet still the disciples question it, and Jesus responds to them at that level. "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Ouch. Those words are for me, too. I can read in the Bible of God's faithfulness through generations and generations and generations. I can also look back over my own life and see where God has been faithful in caring for me. Still, even following a day of great blessing and encouragement, confirmation of God's calling for us to serve Him through Christian camping, when I'm faced with a set back, I cry out, "Lord, where are you? Have you abandoned us when we're so close to actually getting started?" And I can hear him respond, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Yes, Lord, I hear you speaking to me. I will set these wild emotions aside and trust you for who I know you are.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Final interview

I am flyin' high today. A small part of it might be the 3 pieces of Dove dark chocolate I ate and then chased with a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, but most of it follows the meeting Andrew & I had this morning with the area director of the American Missionary Fellowship. We had decided that to best run the camp and enter into full time ministry we needed an organization like this that could provide accountability, encouragement, and camaraderie. AMF has a long history in Christian camping ministry. We've met several of the missionaries over the past few months and decided it would be a great fit, so we filled out an application and went through the first steps of applying. This morning we met at the Sassy Onion for our final interview. There is something about meeting with people who have the same vision you have and even similar experiences leading them into ministry. I felt instant connection! They confirmed the gifts that we have and encouraged us, as we begin this next phase of our lives, that God will use those gifts as well as the trials and lessons we've experienced. Isn't it amazing that God can powerfully use our biggest failures or painful experiences for such beautiful purposes as coming along side other people to encourage them in their suffering and to offer those who are discouraged the hope that only Jesus Christ can offer. Pain can just be painful, or it can be useful, and, you learn more from failure than success. We'll find out March 25th if we are accepted.

Lord, may this all be for your glory. Use my life as you will.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Last night I got to meet with some friends from a Bible Study I was involved with a few years ago called Hearts at Home. Some of the women I've kept better contact with than others but, as soon as I arrived, it felt like it was just last week that we had all gotten together, except we had a lot more changes to share. It was awesome to see how God had worked out some of the struggles we had prayed about years ago. We rejoiced in job changes and babies, the blessings for some who had struggled with bad jobs and secondary infertility. I loved seeing how the gifts and experiences of some were being used to minister to other people as now they have become leaders. And I admire the women who shared the ways that they had stepped back and took a look at their lives and made the changes that would allow themselves and their families to thrive. I still marvel at the trials that some of them have overcome and I clearly see how those things have shaped who they are and how they serve other people.

There is so much to be gained from seeing life from a different perspective and all those unique personalities with their own experiences played a part in providing new vantage points for me. As I contemplate moving and not having the easy opportunities to meet with these friends I'm thrilled that I'll take a little part of them with me through the things that they've taught me over the years. I also take solace in the fact that we will have future reunions!
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff