Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Yes, we've entered the world of chaos. For the last few weeks we've been meeting with our staff team and preparing for ministry. This is the week. Classes start tomorrow. We had one of our student gatherings on Sunday to get students geared up for the week. Then we did freshmen surveys bright and early Monday morning and stood in the occassional pouring down rain for the involvement fair most of the afternoon. Today was small group leader training where we had around 100 students who are leading Bible studies around campus. After that was the dorm blitz, where we all went out to follow up the surveys and talk to students. Even tomorrow, we will be trying to get more students to fill out surveys and have spiritual conversations while doing that.

This first week is so important because it's when students really start making decisions of what direction their college life is headed. We want to share the Gospel with them and get them plugged in to the body of believers right away. Please pray for us, that we would be having awesome conversations these first few weeks and that students' hearts would be soft. Please pray for our leaders, that they would be excited about where God has them and what he's doing through them. Please pray for us during this transition time for our family. Please continue to pray for the last bit of our support to come in. We only have $210 monthly to go! God has done amazing things to allow us to get this far in such a hard time in our economy. And it will be much more difficult to finish our support now that we're on campus and meeting with students.

I had my first Action Group last night. It was awesome! The first week is always so much fun because we always go longer (since they haven't started classes yet) and we really get to dive into each other's lives and hear how everyone's summers went. I'm working with such a great group of guys. There were 11 of them and most of them I already know pretty well and am pumped to get to know them even more. Melissa made dinner for us, no small feat for 12 hungry guys. They were all excited and decided that they want dinner every week! Imagine that, college guys wanting a home cooked meal! Melissa left us to fend for ourselves so she could go to her own Action Group. She's partnering with Elisabeth (who's leading the group full-time) so that she can meet some of the girls and be involved in their lives.

Ministry is definitely different now that we have Noah. It was especially hard to leave him today, knowing that I wouldn't see him for 10 hours. Melissa and some of the other moms are trying to figure out a schedule for watching each others' kids and finding volunteer baby-sitters. We're really hoping that will work out well so that the moms can have more opportunities to get involved. Please pray for that, baby-sitters and that schedules would allow moms to be on campus.

Tonight was our first OCF/Valor planning meeting. This is the name of the ROTC group that meets every week. We're really praying that this will take off this year and that we'll have huge avenues of meeting cadets and midshipmen to have spiritual conversations. One of the Navy chaplains is actually associate staff with Crusade so he's totally on board with helping out in whatever capacity he can. We're praying for huge things for this ministry because these students will be key leaders in our armed forces, and there's such a need for the Gospel in these places where daily soldiers are sacrificing their lives. We want them to know that they don't need to fear death, especially when so many of them face it on a daily basis.

If you want to see Noah's 1 year pictures, the website is http://gretchenphotography.smugmug.com/. Just click on Noah. We'll be getting a cd to print pictures from, so we're (mostly Melissa, cause she's into that kind of stuff) excited to get some pictures hung of him now that he's one!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Birthday Boy!

Well, it has been an eventful year. Noah weighs 23 pounds, has 5 teeth, crawls everywhere, takes steps here and there, loves to say "ball" and has mastered real food. We had some 1 year pictures taken of him and we're waiting to see how they all turned out. Here's one that Melissa took that day.
We had a party for his birthday, and it actually happened on his birthday! He wasn't very excited about the cupcake, but he enjoyed it nontheless. We decided that this was the only real party we're going to have for him, so we figured we should make it fun. I think everyone enjoyed it. We had it at our church so we could fit all of the families, so it was nice to have everyone play ping pong, pool, play station and more and still have plenty of room to sit and eat. It was a lot of work, but it turned out great!
It's so hard to believe that he's 1 already. For the past year of raising support, I think he hasn't really known at times where he lives. We're closing in though and only need about $200 in monthly support left to go. Now life will change as we're both on campus and we try to figure out a schedule of baby-sitters and other moms to watch him. One of the great things about working with Campus Crusade is that we get to work with awesome college students! So we're hoping that we'll be able to figure out a schedule for some students to watch the staff kids so that the moms can participate in more stuff. It should be interesting either way. I'm sure he'll enjoy the late nights, loud bands and all the college chicks checking him out!
Please continue to pray for us. I imagine it will be a challenging transition from support raising full-time to being on campus and doing ministry full-time. We're excited to be done with support and ready to be on campus. Will you pray that our last bit of support comes in quickly? And that our transition as a family will go smoothly with all of the schedule changes and baby-sitters and whatnot? We're excited!!! Thank you for caring about our lives!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Practice of the Presence...

I'm currently reading "The Practice of the Presence of God," written by Brother Lawrence in the 15th century. It's crushing me.

It is just so hard to practically be aware of God's presence throughout the entire day. Seriously, try it; especially in our culture, I dare you. It seems we've gotten very good, and I the chief of all, at compartmentalizing God. We have "quiet times" and "prayer times" and then we go on throughout our day with little recognition of the reality of MT 28:20 that says "...I am with you whereever you go."

I do this so much that in thinking on it now I almost literally sick to my stomach. My thought is "ok, I've finished my time with Jesus, and I've finished my faithful acts (supporting raising stuff) today, so now I can enjoy myself! What's on tv?! What football games are on, or are coming up? How is my fantasy football team?" God takes the sidelines and Bart's pleasures take the forefront. It breaks my heart. Oh wretched man than I am, who can save me!? Where can I find hope?

I give my life to lesser things; sports, movies and the like. These things are not bad, but they are undoubtedly lesser. The presence of and intimacy with God in all things is a much more noble pursuit. I think you can enjoy God in the midst of sport, and I think you can enjoy God in the midst of games or movies or just about anything; but I just haven't figured out a healthy way to do it. I don't watch football, for example, and enjoy it with the Lord; I watch football and movies because they entertain, because I can shut off my mind and watch. I enjoy the neurological and emotional impulses those things bring. Really, to be completely honest, is it any different that simple self-gratification? Can entertainment of this sort be any different than a drug addict getting his "fix?" Help please, if you have wisdom on the topic. Share with me some insight into how you enjoy Christ in and during sport or television or video games or movies. I could use it.

And how do you not feel as though you are compartmentalizing God? When is entertainment "healthy" for you, and not just self-pleasure bringing?

My problem is we've gotten very good at justifying things. "I enjoy God's creation when I golf" or "I enjoy redemptive stories in movies because it makes me think of Jesus" or "I love reading because it sharpens my mind/imagination/knowledge/whatever which allows me to more fully grasp and love God." Those are very real things and I admittedly feel the same about all of them. But is it very different from "I just love golf" and "I love movies" and "I love books?" Do we just do whatever we like and then twist God into it? Is that really death to self? Is that denying all and embracing our cross to follow Jesus? I find this tension difficult.

Can you help? Do you have any advice or wisdom to offer?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Our update

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies:
Affliction, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.

I can think of no better way to sum up the whole of our hearts than that saying penned by Brother Lawrence in the 15th century. God is good; His grace and mercy overflows our hearts and besieges our souls. God is good, though support be difficult. God is good, though we’ve lost $225 in monthly support in the last two weeks. This time, from His sovereign hand, is a blessing in disguise. He is working and reshaping our character to His good and perfect will. To thee, oh Lord, we bow in reverence.
Oh how we wish we could rejoice with you regarding the finality of our support raising process! God has not willed it so thus far, so we humbly await that grace from Him. To be sure, it has been a very up and down last few months. We have rejoiced at God allowing us to meet new ministry partners, but we’ve simultaneously grieved a few of our bigger partners that have decided to no longer partner with us.
On the whole, we have been raising support for about 13 months, and to be completely honest, we grow tiresome. The passion of our hearts is to engage students with the reality of the historical person of Jesus Christ, to see their lives change, and to watch the world be transformed by these students. From OSU we pray to send laborers the world over, in every occupational field imaginable to shake the world with the humble, love-led Kingdom of God. Since our support has not come in as of yet, we await our entry into this field. We rally partners to this cause and await God’s perfect timing; that we may embark on the quest He has laid before us.
But the school year is upon us! Surely you can imagine the tension we feel! On one hand we are drawn to embrace students returning from the summer, while on the other we are in need of support. This will be a difficult balance over the next few months; but, we trust that this is to God’s good pleasure. We have learned through this process that God’s business is to redeem and grow the character of His people. He is building in us a joy in Him above all else, that we may be patient and discerning. He is helping us to trust in the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives to become wise regarding our time, our emotions and our hearts. James 1:2-4 says:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”