Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Treadmill Dancing

I realize why the video I posted below appeals to me so much... It's what I've been doing lately! And it's why I haven't been in blog-land for the past (almost) week. I've got the ever-turning Mom-treadmill going, the Homeschooler one is gathering speed, the Awana Secretary one is going full-tilt, the Field Trip treadmill was cranked up yesterday, the Phone treadmill beeps at me periodically... I'm dancing from treadmill to treadmill in a well-choreographed, fun, busy (and sometimes dizzying) pace. I'll bet you are, too! I watch my friends doing the same thing. Periodically, one of us will say to the other, "I just don't know how you do it all!" A friend emailed me that exact sentence on Monday. I said it to my author-church planter-friend Mary last week. I thought it as I watched the goofy treadmill guys.

But, what I love is that each of my treadmills was put there by my Personal Trainer. He knows the workout I need. He is directing each step, if I'll pay attention to His choreography. He is helping me learn my routine. As long as I can listen for His voice, soak in His encouragement, stay in step with His 8-count, quench my thirst with the Living Water, and rest when He tells me to, it will all continue to hum along as it should and I won't fall and go shooting off the end of one of those treadmills. The great thing is, even if I do, He'll catch me!

Ok, GO!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I think drill teams all across America should ditch their "chair routines" and roll some treadmills out onto the field!

Forty Days

Forty days... rained on Noah (Gen. 7:4) took to embalm Jacob (Israel) (Gen. 50:2-3)
...Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34:28)
...the spies explored the land of Canaan (Num. 13:25)
...Goliath threatened Israel (1 Sam. 17:16)
...Elijah was in the wilderness (I Kings 19:8)
...Jonah warned Ninevah (Jon. 3:4)
...Jesus was in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-4)
...Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection (Acts 1:3)

... this year that it's been over 100 degrees where we live! (Aug. 24:2006)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back into Action

Two weeks ago today, I posted that we had gone to greet soldiers coming home from Iraq. I'm posting their pictures again today as a reminder that those tired but happy faces we saw arriving that day are the same ones heading back into action this week.

We're heading into the next few weeks of 9-11 remembrances. In the midst of it, I'm going to be praying for these soldiers and all those with them who remember it every day. I'm praying for their families and loved ones who are saying good-bye once again. May the God who multiplied loaves and fish make the two short weeks they shared with their families and the well-deserved rest they had...enough. And may He hold all of them in the palm of His hand.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Terrific Turnout!

What a great start to what promises to be a fantastic Awana year! We had around 100 leaders come to leader orientation. Our pastor spoke powerful and timely words to us about leadership, marriage and sharing the gospel. He not only affirmed all of us in our ministry, but also highlighted Awana's role in partnering with and equipping parents as they spiritually train their children. It was just the encouragement we all needed!

Down the hall, over 60 kids (leaders' children from age 5 through grade 6) enjoyed our 3rd annual "Wild About Awana" party. In keeping with our theme, we had the "Creature Teacher" come out this year and teach the kids about some "wild" animals. She brought 8 animals with her, including a chinchilla, hedgehog, python, hissing cockroaches and a huge lizard.

We also had a dedicated group of teen helpers who really did their part to make the party go smoothly and enjoyed "meet-the-creature" night as well!

Seeing those animals from all over the world reminded me that every country represented also has at least one Awana Club. Kids in those parts of the world may actually see a Senegal parrot or a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach on their way to club! Those wonderful animals not only reminded me of our awesome Creator, but of the people who worship in those far away lands. I'll be praying for those clubs and missionaries as they begin their Awana year as well.

And... as typically happens when hosting an event, Luke and I didn't eat. (We ran out of food, but that's another post...) SO naturally, we hit Taco Bell on the way home. The evening was complete. Dios es fiel! (God is faithful!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For Whom the (Taco) Bell Tolls

I am so easily amused. I just love reading these Taco Bell hot sauce packets! It may mean that I need to get a hobby, but if I do, then so does the curator of The Condiment Packet Museum...

We went to Taco Bell today. We haven't been all summer. Because we haven't had Awana. You see, during the Awana year it's become our family's tradition to drive through Taco Bell after club each Sunday night on the way home. Maybe we started it our first year because we were up there so late and it was advantageous that Taco Bell's drive-thru was open until 2:00 AM. (Just kidding, we're not there quite that late!) Well this weekend we are ringing in our fourth year coordinating our church's Awana club, and as it turns out we drove through "the bell" this afternoon. Here comes a new Awana year, so here comes Taco Bell!

Please pray for us as we have our leader orientation meeting tomorrow and finish registering between 300 and 400 kids these next couple of weeks. It's a big job, but an exciting time for Luke and I as well as our kids who willingingly roll up their sleeves working alongside us, doing whatever we need them to do. I absolutely love being in ministry with my family. I think it's one of the best gifts God has ever given us, truly.

Speaking of those who roll up their sleeves, I am amazed and humbled by those who volunteer in Awana. The Lord so faithfully draws some of the most capable, positive and energetic folks every year. They are more "on fire" than the hot sauce at Taco Bell, and funnier too! Approximately 120 faithful leaders spice up our weekly club meetings with their warm smiles, encouragement for the children, top-notch Bible lessons and crazy games. Sometimes I just stand in the hall and smile, watching them in action.

SO... next time you drive through Taco Bell, think of Awana. Think of our amazing volunteers! (And don't forget to enjoy reading the hot sauce packets...)

Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"There's that chicken!"

We had a wonderful time last night, enjoying fellowship in our home with our friend Dr. Sam from Ghana. He is such a dear man. It is obvious to all who are around him that he walks very closely with God. The Holy Spirit is clearly manifested in the way he talks and in the things he says. He hears from God. He speaks wisdom. He is absolutely fascinating to be with! So we sat last night around our dining room table soaking up what Dr. Sam had to say. I'm still processing most of it, so it will surely come out in my "blogging" at some point.

What I love about his testimony is that he wasn't always a Christian. He didn't accept Christ until well into his adult life. So he's gotten where he is spiritually in relatively few years, which really inspires me. I asked him last night when he began to really seek after and sense God's presence in his life, and when he began to actively listen for the Holy Spirit's "voice" for himself. He told the story of his 12 year old daughter, "W", who is a sweet friend of Bethany's.

When W was four years old, she came upon a dying chicken. This chicken was apparently lying on the ground, paralyzed, to the point of death. Dr. Sam (who is, in fact, a medical doctor) explained medically what had been wrong with the chicken. I'm not sure what he said, but the point was that it was clear this chicken was dying and that was that. Well, not for W. She went over to the chicken, laid her little four-year-old hands upon it and spoke healing for the chicken in Jesus' name. She claimed it, she believed for it. The matter was settled. Well, it was not long before that chicken was up and clucking around with the other chickens! That chicken had been healed! Dr. Sam said last night, "When I saw what the power of God would do for a chicken... I knew he would do that in my life too!"
Last night as Dr. Sam was leaving our house, Kyle showed him this picture that we have on our refrigerator. W drew this picture and sent to us earlier this year. I love that verse, and it is a reminder of our sweet Ghanaian friends each time I look at it. When Dr. Sam saw the picture his sweet daughter had drawn, he said "Ah, yes. There's that chicken!" Though I had heard the chicken story before, I had not made the connection. To me, the chicken represented the "feathers" and "wings" in the verse. But to the artist, it represented power!

Now I see that picture differently. I'm so glad I see the chicken! How often I'm a chicken. Not just a chicken, but one who can't move! If God can be called upon by a four-year-old to bring life to paralyzed poultry, He can certainly be trusted to infuse every area of my life with that same power, when called upon with believing boldness like that of a child.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Gate Called "Beautiful"

Today I was reading the passage in Acts 3 where Peter healed the lame man at the temple. I have always loved this story because of Peter's words, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I do give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk," which of course, the man did. What a wonderful passage! I decided to give it a little closer look this morning.

According to Acts 3, this man had been "crippled from birth" and was "being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts." (verse 2). That's where he was when Peter and John passed by. Acts 4:22 says that the man was "over forty years old." So, according to the text, he had been carried daily, since birth, for over forty years to the gate of the temple. I found a temple diagram here which shows where the "Beautiful gate" would have been located. It was in a prominent spot, where people bringing their offerings would be sure to walk by, making it an opportune place to ask for alms. Being the choice location that it was, I wondered, how many times had Jesus Himself walked by that man? The man was older than Jesus. He could've been laying there, an 8 to 10-year-old boy, when Mary and Joseph passed by with baby Jesus on their way to see Simeon. Years before Jesus uttered His first earthly words, this boy's parents had taught their son the words one uses to beg. Those could've even been his first words. Perhaps he lay there as a young man in his 20's when Jesus-the-12-year-old came into the temple. While Jesus spoke with such authority to the priests inside the temple, the man continued to speak the language of beggars outside. Most certainly Jesus passed him as he came in and out of the temple during his public ministry, when He was healing so many. There the man lay, day after day, year after year when the source of his healing was so close at hand. Why didn't Jesus heal him while He was on earth? Was He unaware of the man's presence or did He just not care? Did the man not make himself known to Him?

Perhaps Jesus knew that the man's healing would pack a greater punch after He was gone. Acts 3:9 says that the people were "filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." Verse 11 says that they "came running" to Peter and John as they continued through the temple. Peter, in his newfound, spirit-filled boldness, used this opportunity to point to the true Source of this man's healing. "Why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham... has glorified His servant Jesus. ... It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." (v. 12,13,16) Peter made no bones about it. He pointed straight to the risen Christ. This man's healing gave credibility to what they were preaching. Christ's earthly miracles had pointed to His deity. This healing pointed to Christ's deity and His resurrection. He had been crucified for claiming to be the Son of God. The story of His resurrection was being doubted. It was not a popular message, and Peter and John were even jailed until the next day for proclaiming it. "But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand." (Acts 4:4) So many had fallen away when Jesus didn't come through for them the way they thought He would. Now there were 5,000-plus who believed! And their souls are in heaven today because of it.

When the apostles were finally were brought before the priests and the temple guard, "they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say." (4: 13-14) The miracles Jesus performed while He was on earth backed up His claim of Who He was. This healing not only further supported that claim, but lent credibility to the apostles themselves. There was nothing more to say, no argument could be made. This was crucial. Additionally, if Jesus had healed the man Himself, Peter would've missed out on the blessed opportunity to be the vessel. The timing was perfect.

Timing. Even the name of the gate points to the timing. Most translations render it "the gate called Beautiful." I found today in Strong's Greek Lexicon that the word translated "beautiful," horaios, comes from a word which means, "belonging to the right hour or season (timely)." It was time.

What I learn from the man's family (who presumably carried him there) is the persistence to daily put myself, put those I love, in the position to be healed and blessed. To go before the throne of grace myself and carry others as well. Ask. Beseech. Expect. Don't give up, even when those around me seem to be getting what I'm asking for. Maybe it's not my time yet. But when it comes, it will most certainly have been worth the wait. Beth Moore teaches that God's "no's" and "not yets" are for "bigger yesses" down the road. Greater glory! Exceeding gladness!

What I learn from Peter and John is that even if I am unschooled and ordinary, others will take note if I've been with Jesus. I need to spend time in His presence, be empowered by His Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus didn't do it all Himself while He was on earth. He left work to be done through me. I need to get to it! It's time.

What I learn from the man is how like him I am. Utterly dependent. I can bring nothing of myself, my posture is that of the lame. Some of what cripples me has been with me for around 40 years- since birth. What carries me is the grace of God, right to the gate which leads to healing and wholeness. That is what I call beautiful.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Yes, U2 can sharpen your leadership skills!

We are so blessed to be one of the satellite churches which hosts the annual Willow Creek Leadership Summit. This will be my third year to attend. In the past I've really gotten some great leadership strategies, felt encouraged in our ministry, have been blessed personally, and have heard some speakers I would not have had the opportunity to hear otherwise. I love our church for holding such events, and for encouraging leaders within the church to go. From the overview (linked above) on the Willow site, this year's event "offers you and every leader on your team a place to rededicate yourselves to God's life-changing work. You'll be challenged to invest your gifts and abilities in the single most important work on this planet—helping your local church reach its full, God-given redemptive potential." Doesn't that sound great?
Well, in the interest of honesty, I'm just going to share that one of the main reasons this 80's girl is going today is Session 6. Here's the video of that session:

Bill Hybels and Bono 1

Bill Hybels and Bono 2

Bill Hybels and Bono 3

I just may have found what I'm looking for in a leadership conference!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bugs for breakfast, anyone?

I just read this to the kids. Kyle thinks it might be why the Yoplait he had for breakfast had a "slightly bitter aftertaste." Hmmm.....

Food for thought!

The Most Thirsty Plant

As I was making the rounds, watering my plants, I came upon this little guy. He looks sort of okay today, but in the past I have found him brown-leafed, dry, drooping... sad. If I were to post pictures of all of the (many) other plants in my house you would see that compared to them, he's not lookin' too good. The other plants in the house are green, glossy, and thriving... but not this one. Of course, there's only one explanation- neglect! You can see that it lives next to a window, so it gets plenty of light, so obviously it just needs to be watered more often. The saddest part is that this particular plant lives on the ledge by my bathtub. Poor thing! He's the thirstiest one in the house, and he lives the closest to a water source! Well, I could reason that when I'm in my bathroom in the mornings, I'm too busy getting ready to go about my day to reach over and water it. At night, when I draw my bath, I am so tired from a long day that I simply don't notice him sitting there. Can I be blamed? Besides, the plants that everyone else sees all over the house look great, so does it really matter? No one hangs out in my bathroom. Every couple of days I fill up my watering can and travel all over the house watering plants on tables, shelves, window sills, entry ways and porches, so often forgetting that poor little guy back in my bathroom. Night after night he gets drier and drier, all the while listening to water as it flows from sink faucets nearby and fills the tub just a couple of feet away... Now, I know I'm being dramatic (and might need to lay off of the plant personification) but it has made me really think about those around me who are so thirsty for the Living Water.

I believe God is really doing a work today, drawing more and more average folks like us into foreign missions. Our family has been forever changed by our work abroad, and are actively praying about our next trip. It was amazing this summer to see literally hundreds of people commissioned from our church alone to go all over the world. I have loved the reports from my friends, including my sweet daughter, who have gone this summer to take the Word to places where it is not being preached, where it has not been heard, where people are so... thirsty. But what about those who live so close to the bathtub? I can't forget them. Maybe I'm too tired, busy, or distracted... but there they sit. Just like my plant on the ledge, they can "hear the water" as they channel surf on their radio and tv stations, perhaps hearing snippets of sermons. Maybe they overhear conversations about faith at soccer games or dinner parties or see "messages from God" on billboards but do they know it's for them? Has it been taken to them? Or do I just expect them to find it because, well, this is the Bible Belt. How can you miss it? Do I just give them a splash every once in awhile when I happen to think about it (like my poor plant) or am I deliberately, regularly, purposefully carrying Living Water to them like I do to those around the world? As Luke and I actively prepare and strategize for our local Awana year, getting it ready for those who will come, am I as ambitious about taking its message- the gospel of Christ- to those in this community who may never come to Awana?

Jesus, may I drink so deeply of You and be so filled with your Holy Spirit that I am well-nourished, flourishing like a tree planted by water. If I am not, then cause me to thirst. Let nothing else satisfy. May streams of living water so flow through me that those I encounter will be refreshed and be directed to the well where they may be made new, to drink deeply themselves. When You prepared my good works in advance, You planned for me to live here in this location and in this generation. Help me to be as purposeful and deliberate as I live my days here. May you, my Savior, be my Water Source and may my food always be to do the the will of the my Heavenly Father. Amen.


In case anyone's keeping track, WFMW is on my other blog today. And if you're not keeping track (because, really, you do have a life...) you're invited to go on over anyway and see what's been going on as we gear up for school!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sacks for Soldiers, Songs with Selah

This morning found us up early, once again driving to the airport as the sun rose. But this time it wasn't to meet family or friends returning from the mission field. Instead we were welcoming some brave soldiers coming home from the battle field. DFW is often the first place soldiers land on American soil after they have served in Iraq and elsewhere. As part of a teen ministry service project, Bethany helped to decorate and fill sacks to give the soldiers upon their return, since many of them will have a layover on their way to other destinations where they will finally see beloved family and friends. We filled the sacks with homemade cookies and snacks, as well as heartfelt notes of appreciation.

The wonderful group of veterans who organize the "welcome home" for the troops have thought of it all- they even had patriotic music playing as the soldiers entered the terminal. I couldn't help but boo-hoo as they came through the door, weary from war and tired from traveling, to the sound of "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "God Bless America." As they would come in, the whole crowd would erupt in cheers. They seemed truly touched by it. I hope so! Some of them told us they totally hadn't expected anyone to be there. This particular group was fresh from Iraq.

Kyle wore his cammo "Superman" shirt, to show them that he thinks they are superheroes!

It was such a privilege to be there to thank them personally for their sacrifice. I asked this young man how long he would be home, and he said, "Two weeks." Two. Weeks. I told him we had been praying for the troops, and asked him how we could pray for him specifically (as well as the others who would be returning in two weeks) and he said, "Pray for us... just because we have to go back so soon."

We're praying for you, Eric. God bless you.

Afterward, we (along with some of our fun friends who were with us at the airport) headed to a local mall for a free Selah concert. This is our third time to hear them. I could've listened to them all day! As we stood on the upper level of an upscale mall singing along to hymns and praise songs, I thought how awesome it was to be standing in a place where things are so often the focus of worship, and lift up praises to the Giver instead. It was nice to put the focus where it should be, right there in that place. We are so blessed in this country to be able to worship so openly. With the faces of the soldiers still so fresh in my mind as I sang, I was reminded that we shouldn't take that privilege for granted.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Please Pray

***Update*** She is bruised, but back at work (today, 8/8) Her car was totalled, and the other person involved in the accident is not being truthful with the insurance company about what happened. Please say a prayer that this will be resolved and that she will continue to heal with no further complications. Thanks so much!!*****

Would y'all please say a prayer for my sweet sister-in-law Mary? She was involved in a car accident this morning. She was in the hospital earlier today but was to be released this afternoon. Nothing's broken (that I know as of this writing), but obviously she's hurting from the impact and shaken up, I'm sure.


Kids are so great!

I just love, love , love my kids. They crack me up every day. Everyday they say something that I need to hear. They are at the perfect ages (12 and 10) to begin having some really interesting conversations. This morning we read about Pentecost, then listened to The Bible in Living Sound version of it, which always adds another layer of understanding, and then had some great discussion over pancakes. We talked about the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues, our future resurrection bodies, which eventually morphed into a discussion of pre-trib vs. post-trib rapture. Fun! Mostly it was Kyle firing questions and then different ones of us bringing up various Scriptures. This morning, right in the midst of plumbing the depths of eschatology, Kyle said, "SO... what do you think would happen if you microwaved a hot glue stick?"

I just love it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Maybe I'm missing something...

but is this really necessary to reach today's youth for Christ?

Don't get me wrong. I love fun. I love games. I love games with kids/youth. In fact, my husband and I coordinate the Awana club at our church which draws 400+ kids (age 3 through high school) each week, and one of the key components is the game portion of the night. We've had kids start coming for the games, then begin attending club each week, which eventually led to the entire family joining the church. Praise God! We've played games on the beach in China and in villages in West Africa. I've seen total strangers come together and, through games, build a rapport and eventually hear the saving message of the gospel. I totally get the idea of using games as outreach. But, some of it has gone too far in my opinion. And I've found out that apparently others feel the same way. Since this was on my mind this week, I did a search and found an article (in its entirety at that was originally published in "World Magazine" back in 2002. I think Gene Veith summarizes nicely why some of the games in today's youth groups, and one in particular that I've witnessed recently, bother me so much:

"What do teenagers learn from these youth group activities? Nothing of the Bible. Nothing of theology. Nothing of the cost of discipleship. But they do learn some lessons that they can carry with them the rest of their lives:

Lose your inhibitions. Young people usually have inhibitions against doing anything too embarrassing or shameful. These exercises are designed to free people from such hangups. For some reason, post-Freudian psychologists—whose “sensitivity groups” are the model for these kinds of exercises—maintain that such inhibitions are bad. Christians, though, have always insisted that we need to feel inhibited about indulging in things for which we should feel ashamed. This is part of what we mean by developing a conscience.
Though being “gross” may not be sinful in itself, overcoming natural revulsions can only train a child to become uninhibited about more important things.

Give in to peer pressure. Defenders of these kinds of activities maintain that they help create group unity. The way they work, though, is to overcome a teenager’s inhibitions with the greater desire to go along with the group. In other words, these exercises teach the teenager to give in to peer pressure. Instead, youth groups need to teach Christian teenagers not to go along with the crowd and to stand up against what their friends want them to do.

Christianity is stupid. Status-conscious teenagers know that those who are so desperate to be liked that they will do anything to curry favor are impossible to respect. Young people may come to off-the-wall youth group meetings, but when they grow up, they will likely associate the church with other immature, juvenile phases of their lives, and Christianity will be something they will grow out of.

Teenagers get enough entertainment, psychology, and hedonism from their culture. They don’t need it from their church. What they need—and often yearn for—is God’s Word, catechesis, and spiritual formation."© World Magazine, 2002. To learn more about World, visit the magazine’s web site at or call (800) 951-NEWS (6397).

Though I'm leery of anything labeled "contemplative" these days (another blog topic for another day!) I found a review for the book Contemplative Youth Ministry. The review (which can be found here) has some interesting observations from the book as well as thoughts from the reviewer:

"Mark writes that youth ministry has often lacked a sense of presence, that instead we’ve concentrated most of our ministries on either the anxieties of young people or the anxieties of the adults within our churches."

"When the anxieties that drive us are those of the young people, (Church is boring, God is about conformity, Christians are boring) then we create programs and events that are all about fun and recreation, the programs attempt to be culture friendly involving frozen chickens, data projectors, play stations and mystery trips but lack the deeper, prayerful and mission action of the Christian faith."

I feel I should say at this point that I really admire those who have committed to work in youth ministry. That takes a special calling and a unique set of gifts (most of which I admittedly do not have!) I am awed and humbled by some of the dynamic folks at my church who serve in our youth ministry, motivated by hearts completely on fire for the Lord. It's wonderful to see! Now that I have a "youth" of my own, our family is directly feeling the impact of those dedicated servants.

But I feel the above authors make great points. I think there is a fine line between purpose-driven outreach and anxiety-driven wackiness. When that line is crossed, the message is lost. As I read some of the ideas offered on the internet on youth ministry websites and observe some of the games at gatherings I've attended personally, I can't help but ask myself, "Is this being done to the glory of God? Can this be done to His glory? Is any of this pointing to Jesus Christ? What are we really teaching these kids?"

Does playing Butt Charades , swallowing live goldfish , or drinking nasty concoctions from a blender do a good job of teaching: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:19)

Maybe I'm missing something...

Works-For-Me Wednesday

This week I'm piggybacking on Shannon's from last week, Map Collection, which I do too (mostly because it's cheaper than Onstar!) Whenever I print out Mapquest directions for my binder-for-the-perpetually-directionally-challenged, I also print "reverse directions" so I can find my way home from said location. Many times, especially in a downtown area, there are one way streets or a different way to get out than you got in. Reverse directions have gotten me out of many jams!

For more great tips, visit: Rocks In My Dryer.

Have a great Wednesday!