Friday, August 31, 2012


"Then sings my soul, to my savior God.  To thee we sing, how great thou art!"

I think maybe I've slept 10 minutes tonight.  I guess it perhaps still could be considered "tonight" after-all it is only 2:13 in the morning.  We fly out at 6.  That means we get up at 3ish, to catch the shuttle to the airport at 3:30, to get there around 4.  Fun morning (or is it considered morning at 330?).

I just can't fall asleep.  I have a number of things running through my mind and heart, really, that is keeping me from rest.  Did we pack everything?  How are the kids and Melissa sleeping?  I set my alarm, right?  God we really need you, please do big things to calm and lead our family in this next transition.  I wander how many people are praying for us?  Did we ask enough people to pray?  Man, I wish Noah would stop kicking in his sleep! -- and honestly those are only the dominant ones, with lots of littler things mingled in there as well.

I'm pretty excited, and that doesn't help either.  I'm also pretty unsettled.  I think I've learned in the last few years that I can't work in absolute chaos, materially.  What I mean is that I can work in chaos relationally, or emotionally, or even spiritually, but if everything on my desk is cluttered, and papers are piled everywhere then I just have a hard time concentrating at all.  Weird, I know, but that's how I am.  What is hard about that right now is that we don't have a place to live when we get to Venezuela.

Now, we are going to stay in the girls apartment for the time being because the rest of the team isn't there so it is empty, but it still isn't ours, you know?  We can't really unpack because we're hopefully moving out shortly.  We just can't get settled and situated.  And this makes me a bit tense.

That is our big prayer request right now, and honestly our biggest step of faith currently.  Housing is one of those things that is good you may never even notice.  But if your living situation is hard (say with the 4 of us and 3 single girls all crammed in a 3 bedroom apartment) life just gets exponentially more difficult.  No alone time may be doable for extroverts but Melissa and I both need quiet alone time to refresh and rest.  Forget it if we can't find an apartment.

If you are reading this and could spare 5 minutes to pray for our living situation, we would be so grateful.  Then if you could even just comment below saying you prayed it would encourage us greatly.

I opened this post with a line from a popular hymn, because that is where we cling currently.  God is the great one.  He is the one that deserves praise and honor.  He will provide.  Truly he cares for the sparrow and has numbered the hairs on our heads; God the giver will do what he loves to do - show himself as the giver and the great one.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Are we home?

We're back in northwest Ohio.  We'll be spending the next two days here, then five days in Canton, and then returning here for another three days or so.  It kind've feels like we're on very long ride, but we've only just started.

I hope to debrief a bit about the conference in the next day or two, but I have one thing going through my mind/heart currently, and that is a desire for rest.

I was reading through the beginning of Romans this morning and was struck by the typical greeting from Paul.  "Grace and peace to you..." is a greeting Paul gives in almost of his letters, but it hit me this morning probably because of how desperate I am for those things currently; and how desperately I will need to cling to them over the course of the next month or so.

We were hoping that simply upon arrival back into Ohio we would be replenished.  Not openly, of course, because that would be just silly, but at some deepl level we find a desire for rest and peace.  And grace.  Probably mostly grace.

Our lives have been a whirlwind recently and will continue to be for this stage of our lives.  Transitions are never easy, especially ones across continents!  So how can we slow down?  How does one find rest and peace amidst craziness?  My guess, and what the bible seems to affirm, is that it is only found in the gospel.

It is the gospel that affirms our rest is in Christ.  It is the gospel that tells of God wrapping his arms around us, carrying us through.  It is the gospel which affirms Gods kingship and dominion over everything on earth, in the USA or in Venezuela.  It is the gospel which alerts us to the realities that our fatigue, our anxieties, indeed all our weakness and frailty are a result of both a fallen and broken world and our fallen and broken part of it.  Then the gospel takes those weakness and frailties, it takes all our brokenness and that of the world, and brings it before the one that can mend all pain and make all things right.  We go to the one in whom we find our true desires met and the worlds true pain erased.  We go home.  As God looks on lovingly, tearfully - no rather as he runs out of his home to embrace us who are his wayward, tired, and broken children, we find all our unrest and our pain cease.  We find, indeed, grace and peace.

So to that we cling for this next stage.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stint Briefing

Ha!  I wish all of our road trips were this happy!

We said goodbye to our kids once again, and have headed to Chicago for Stint briefing.  This is a conference in which 400 people from around the country gather for one week to get a crash course in how to lead/love/learn/share well for their respective trips.

400 people.  From all over the country.  Gathering for one purpose, to be better trained and equipped to take the gospel all over the globe for the next year.  It hit me this morning how rare this is.  Surely this sort of thing must have been something the Apostle Paul would have just loved to be a part of.  We are sitting in a room of people with some that are giving up 6 figure incomes, some taking their small children, others knowing virtually no-one on their teams, and all taking huge steps of faith to see God honored in the world.  This is a unique conference, and a unique group of men and women.

Throughout the history of the church this sort of thing is virtually brand new - only in the last 100 years or so, but of this magnitude significantly more recently.  Some of these people cannot even openly speak about the locations they are going because the country is that unsafe, or closed.  We speak in code.  This is unreal.  For those of us in Christian circles this may become old-hat, or something we take for granted, but this is nothing short of miraculous.  This group of young men and women, young mothers and fathers, newlyweds some, and still students others--this group is giving a year of their lives to tramp all across the globe with little desire other than to bring others before the throne of the king.  Forsaking riches, some forsaking health, all forsaking the friends and family and comforts of home.

Jesus is love, and grace, and mercy.  He has redeemed us by the blood of His Son.  He has set up a kingdom, and invited us into his family to play a role in his redemption of the world.  He loves us deeply and radically.  We are free indeed.  Because of Him we have been granted new lives.  We have been bought from the slave market, brought through the sea, and into the promised land.  We walk with the creator of the universe and he finds a home in us.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe this is the most normal room I've ever been in?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Stretched thin...

There is a scene in the Lord of the Rings in which Bilbo says something to the effect of, "I feel tired, Gandalf.  Stretched thin, like butter over bread."

Of course, he is referencing the effect the ring is having on him.  It is bearing down on him, heavy and burdensome.  It is such a weight.

In one sense we can absolutely relate right now.  We feel heavy.  We are spending the next day or so finishing packing and cleaning our place and moving out of Columbus.  We have so many memories, so many joyful times in this city.  This was where our kids were born.  This is where we call home.  This is where our church and staff and ministry family are.  In all seriousness, many parts of this city have been, for us, little slices of heaven.  And now we are departing, packing up and moving on.  How can this possibly be done well?

We spent last night having the kids say goodbye to every room in the house.  I had to fight back the tears.  God had moved in this house.  He had run his redemption story through the hallways and through the walls.  He had begun to work and fashion our family to where he wanted it to be.  Now we move on, and I ask again, how can this be done well?

The kids are handling it better than we are, honestly.  And yes I do think that it has sunk in for Noah. More than a couple times this week he has said things like, "But Papa I love this house" with all seriousness across his face.  He will need to grieve as well.  Yesterday he was begging us to take the carpet in our living room.  Believe me little buddy, I want to, and everything else as well.

So we look to our refuge and protector.  Our guide.  The way.  We look to Him who can make and remake all things.  To the love of our hearts.  And we sadly say our farewells to those things and places that have so been a part of His love in our lives as we follow him to a new chapter.  We do this with heavy hearts.  Like butter stretched over bread.

Maybe that's how we do this well?  Maybe by casting our gaze on the one that ultimately is our final resting place, our true home?  Maybe in His arms and care we can find the peace for our currently sentimental hearts?  That must be it.  It's our experience that nothing else compares.  Give us the world, and we'll still be wanting, but give us the Bread of Life and we'll find flowing within streams of living water, we'll find that we never hunger nor thirst again.

Goodbye Columbus and our dear friends.  The one we love is leading us on a different path for now, perhaps we shall embrace again.  But perhaps the embrace we all want is the one found only on distant shores, where the sea turns to glass - and all fades away.  And then we see Him, and joy ever after.