Saturday, June 28, 2008

sleep, glorious sleep

It thunderstormed last we were up for about two hours comforting our fear-striken daughter. When Aron picked her up out of the crib, she was literally shaking all over.
She went back to sleep by 2:30 or so, but by 4:00, she was in bed with us. This half-pint somehow manages to take up the whole bed. At one point she was asleep on top of Aron. I was crowded out by 7:30, and so I went to the guest bed.

At 9:30, I heard a thud - Belle had toppled over the pillow barrier onto the floor. We three layed back down, and back to sleep we went.

This is at 11:30 when we finally awoke for good! I love saturdays!

Belle and I are getting ready to make some blueberry pancakes & aron's heading out to run! He's set aside today to learn his new recording equipment, so hopefully we'll have some songs to share with you soon!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 2 (40 days of Focus)

So I'm almost through day 2 and I haven't prayed for 10 minutes. I'm confessing on my blog so I'll do it before I fall asleep tonight. Also haven't read my Bible today. I'm going to do that right now while Belle watches her nightly Dora show. If you don't know who that "super cool Exploradora" is, just wait till you have a 2 year old. I'm going to go Focus on Psalm 85. Swiper no swiping. Peace.


The Upside-Down, Alternate Kingdom...

I stumbled on this post on Jay Harwick's blog, and I had to share it with you:

From Tim Keller's masterpiece, The Reason For God:

"This pattern of the Cross means that the world's glorification of power, might, and status is exposed and defeated. On the Cross, Christ wins through losing, triumphs through defeat, achieves power through weakness and service, comes to wealth via giving all away. Jesus Christ turns the values of the world upside down...
This upside-down pattern so contradicts the thinking and practice of the world that it creates an 'alternate kingdom,' an alternate reality, a counterculture among those who have been transformed by it. In this peaceable kingdom there is a reversal of the values of the world with regard to power, recognition, status, and wealth. In this new counterculture, Christians look at money as something to give away. They look at power as something to use strictly for service. Racial class and superiority, accrual of money and power at the expense of others, yearning for popularity and recognition, these normal marks of human life, are the opposite of the midset of those who have understood and experienced the Cross. Christ creates a whole new life. Those who are shaped by the great reversal of the Cross no longer need self-justification through money, status, career, or pride of race or class. So the Cross creates a counterculture in which sex, money, and power cease to control us and are used in life-giving and community-building rather than destructive ways." (emphasis mine)
I think it's safe to admit that we have largely lost this ethos as the collective, universal community of least we have in America. The statistics prove it every year...there is virtually no difference between Christians and non-Christians in terms of behavior, values, and relationships.

Just after the Cross, you would have been an idiot to call yourself a follower of Jesus, yet retain the world's value systems and only wiggle your toe in the upside-down, alternate kingdom that Jesus founded. You would have been an idiot because you would have been killed for something you only halfway believed in.

We are headed back to the culture the first disciples lived in after the Cross. Christianity is no longer at the center of American culture. And I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.
Yes, we should speak up for, defend, and fight for a Christian worldview. But maybe before we defend it and argue for it, we should actually try living it. Christianity being shoved from the center of American culture just may be the jolt that we need to return to this upside-down, countercultural ethos that defined Jesus and His first followers.

What if we all lived on less so we could give more. What if we leveraged the power and influence we have for those who have none and never will have any. What if we really embraced the Cross as all the justification we need...we are justified in and through Jesus and Him ALONE! No money, power, or sex can trump the justification of Jesus! What if we rested in that and then ordered our lives accordingly.

This is where I want to live...the upside-down, alternate kingdom of Jesus. I'm begging God to continue to break me of pride, of my need for justification from other sources, and of my selfishness. At the same time, I am begging Him to give me a heart full of His love and grace shown toward me so that I can freely live it and give it to others.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

40 days of Focus

Today I started 40 days of focus. This is just something I made up because I felt compelled to re-focus on God's priorities in my life. 40 days is a pretty common theme in Scripture (i.e. Noah in the ark; Moses on the mountain; Jesus in the wilderness). So for the next 40 days I'm going to be doing the following on a daily basis (except the weekly fasting) :

1. Uninterrupted 10 minute prayer time
2. Fasting every Wednesday
3. Asking God to help me be more loving towards my wife
4. Eating Healthy
5. Exercising 3 times per week for 30 minutes

I'm blogging this to help keep me accountable. I desire to please God in every aspect of my life, and I'm looking forward to how God is going to shape me over the next 40 days. I'm looking forward to losing myself in His love, literally. Anyone who feels so inclined is welcome to join me on my 40 days of focus.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big words for such a little girl

Belle is terrified of thunderstorms; infact, every night it storms here in MI, she wakes up shaking & screaming (thank you rainforest cafe)!

Today it started storming while Belle was staying at BeckyJo's for the day, and as always, she was so scared. However, we were quite surprised at what she told BeckyJo about the storm as she peered out the window...and I quote my 21 month old:

"Thunder make flow'rs pretty."

Aron thought BeckyJo may have a creative imagination (lots of love, sister..I believed you!) when he was retelling me the story. "I just don't know how she would have thought that up," he told me "let alone string that many words together to make a coherent sentence!"

But last week the Little Love & I were home alone & a storm rolled in late in the afternoon. Naturally, Isabelle flipped out; so I took her to the window and showed her the flowers (that she helped me plant). I explained, "Mommy likes the thunder because it brings the rain that makes mommy's flowers pretty."
So, I'm half amazed and half terrified because I'm living with a human sponge who not only hears all, but it seems she comprehends more than we know. Yeah...we better be careful what we say ("booyah, baby" is now part of her vocabulary).
lots of love

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Making Planning A Priority

I'm all full of inspiration after the Willow Creek Arts Conference, but I'll let it out one thought at a time. One thing that really stuck with me is the power of planning. I took a workshop taught by Willow's Executive Producer for all their services. He talked about how they plan every Sunday service four months in advance down to the smallest detail. This allows them to pull off some amazing moments on Sunday due to making planning a priority. It's no wonder their average service is an amazing experience.

People will argue that planning doesn't allow room for God's spirit to work. Or that by planning we are being control freaks. But something that God has really impacted me with over the last few weeks is that He makes planning a priority. In fact, as early as Genesis 3:15, God reveals that he is planning on sending His son to save us.

This may not sound revolutionary, but for me, it was huge. I'm not a planner at all, so I often question the value of planning and what it has to do with God's call on my life. I have found God is calling me to excellence in planning moments of transformation and wonder at church. And this is a biblical concept. Jesus' life and death were well planned thousands of years before he came. God orchestrated the most amazing feat in history-- saving the whole world-- something he planned since the world needed saving. Now that's making planning a priortiy.

"The LORD Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand." Isaiah 14:24

"Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass..." Isaiah 27:36

"But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands." Isaiah 32:8

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 19, 2008

sorry we've neglected you

Wow..its thursday already! We have been swamped this the busyness is definately getting in the way of our blogging!

Aron & I are headed off for a duo dermatology appointment - Aron is going reluctantly, hoping he will get out of the office with his skin intact. I, on the other hand, hope to have a few more moles removed today....(on both of us)....morbid, I know.

We'll catch up soon, friends!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day,...Bob!

On the way to church this morning, I asked, "Who made the moon?"
Belle exclaimed, "GOD!"
"Who made Belle?" I asked.
"GOD!" she shouted.
We sang our Abc's, and then I tested her brilliance again.
"Who made Belle?"
"Bob!" she answered.

"I hope not," I said, "Otherwise Mommy's got some explaining to do this father's day!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

wounds: surface and mortal

Our first fleshy catastrophe: a minor abrasian...but don't tell Belle this.

Dora makes gravel-filled, skinned knees much better...and she also makes little girls very proud.
Along the same lines, I had a monster size wound resurface this week. You know those wounds so deep inside - the ones that for most of your life have left you feeling broken in some capacity. For some of you its inadequacy - do you have what it takes? For others you wonder if you are truly worth being loved. For some its rejection. Still others its abandonment or loneliness. For me...its "I do not belong..." The list can go on and on. But one thing is for certain, Satan (& the forces of evil) know your wound very intimately and will use your life circumstances to "shoot arrows" directly at your weak spot.
You may go months and months walking toward restoration and feeling virtually free of this core heart issue, then - *bam* (there's some onomonopeia for ya) out of nowhere you feel ambushed with a tidal wave of hurt and frustration related to your particular wound.
That was exactly my story the first of this week. It was a rough few days feeling as if all the healing God was working in my spirit was just land blasted by a few expertly planted thoughts and circumstances by my enemy.
I wonder why...and this I do not fully know. But I do know the past two weeks have been a season of transition for our family, I have started a new job and am much busier, aron & I have had less quality time, & for these reasons I am more vulnerable. This is a perfect time for a mortal enemy to attack - and where better to attack than at the area of greatest weakness? I was no where near prepared to fight off the thoughts I heard in my head concerning not belonging. And before I could blink, they were taking residence and made for a miserable few days.
Thankfully, God in His great love, is a warrior like no other. Thankfully, he fights for us when we have no idea how to defend ourselves. And at the end of that battle, he picks us up, and tells us we are His. He speaks truth to the lies and brings healing to the wound. Healing is a process, but as we are made new, our wounds begin to look less like scars and more like a glorious story of redemption.
Remember... when we are weak, then we are strong, because HIS power is made perfect in our weakness.
ps...The Sacred Romance by John Eldridge & Brent Curtis is an excellent book that is so, so relevant to this subject. If you're reading this sentence, you need to read that book. If you're Josh or Marie Young, yes, we still have your copy (sorry, we moved...but we'll return it, someday) & it changed both of our lives.

A Belle Fix for the family

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

nothing profound, but life none the less

The girls are holding the fort down this week in MI. While we desperately miss our #1 man, Belle & I are so enjoying our time together. Today she was my little helper all day long...elmo couldn't hold a candle to momma.

She helped me weed our humble little full shade flower bed & plant perennials (although she hated having dirt on her hands). As I was mulching, she'd pick up the bucket for me & move it to where I was...without me asking her to. We drew murals with sidewalk chalk (she loves to draw the moon), and she even helped me wash floors on her hands and knees (she slipped several times on the wet floor & was NOT happy about that).

After a full day she is ...plum tuckered. (For ye Michiganders...use context clues!)

Aron reported that he is having a blast at Arise; he said that he has been so inspired & refreshed, and is full of ideas and he just needs some alone time to work it all out in his head. All week before leaving he kept saying that he just wanted to see some people he knew at the conference...he actually day-dreamed about seeing some of his old buddies from college there when he was showering Tuesday morning before leaving, but then said aloud, "That's a fantasy, that will never happen" (weird..but true).

But to Aron's great surprise he met one of his most eccentric and "iconic"(as Aron put it) profs from IWU....Suzano (that's his last name...I've never heard his first name). A native of Brazil, Suzano's personality and flair is a rich as his thick accent, and he so happened to be one of Aron's worship profs in college. Together they traveled on a tour of the northeastern united states playing worship music in may of 2005. They embraced, in the bathroom of all places, and Suzano exclaimed that he just listened to a cd they had recorded together & the solo aron played on a particular song was the best he'd ever heard for that song. That made Aron's day.

He also saw another friend from college, Steve Barton...(for all you IWU alumni), who is now a worship leader in Colorado...go figure.

So to wrap it up...Belle & I are hanging in there...thanks for all of you who have called to make sure we're okay! It helps to know we're not completely alone!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm heading off today for Arise, the 2008 Willow Creek Arts Conference. I haven't been this excited about Willow since I was 5 years old and obsessed with medieval dwarf socerers and Madmartigan was my hero. I'm sure I'll have some good blog material when I get back. This Arise theme reminds me of a worship song I wrote recently called "Arise, Shine". It's straight out of Isaiah 60 (Awesome passage; check it out). Here are some of the lyrics:

At first light we lift our prayers to you/ At first light your humble love shines through/ At first light you call us to come/ Come to the light of your love/Come to the light, come to the light/Arise, shine, for your glorious light has come/ Arise, shine, Jesus Christ is the Glorious One/ We lift our eyes, what a glorious sight!/ Nations will come to the brightness of your dawn

Someday I'll have a recording for you all to enjoy. Until then, watch Willow and tell me if Madmartigan is not the coolest hero you've ever seen.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

credit where credit is do

This one's for my man. Despite a whirlwind week of meetings, running Belle to the sitter, and lack of sleep, Aron served our family in amazing ways. Not only did he pitch in around the house to fill in the gaps my 40 hours away left, Friday night he greeted me with a homemade dinner(I was STARVING after working 12 1/2 hours) and a movie. He created his own stuffed pepper recipe, and I have to was really quite good. Thanks so much, babe!
On a different note, Isabelle has acquired a strange palate lately. We keep catching her sneaking into the pantry and eating hard, uncooked dry wheat rotini noodles; I'm talking handfuls of them. Sometimes she crunches on them, sometimes she sucks them until their soft. Either way...pretty weird if you ask me. It's calories though, and the more of those we get in her, the better!

I'm working the next two days, so I'll see you all on Tuesday.
keep it real

Friday, June 6, 2008

What is your SHAPE?

I'm really excited about our next series at church, SHAPEd for service. What is your SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, Heart/passions, Abilities, Personality, Experiences)?

We going to explore the fact that we've all got a role to play in God's redemptive work. He has given us each a unique SHAPE to serve Him.

The Church is God's redemptive vehicle for the entire world. Let that soak in. We (the Church)have been commissioned with telling the Good News and making disciples. God's really been challenging me with the weight of this. Jesus died to save the world, then he established his Church and entrusted them with the responsibility of spreading the Word.

So many times we Americans give the local church our left-overs. Some of us feel like we are left-overs. Let me assure you, the local church can use you. God can make your 'left-overs' feed 5000 (think a few fish and some bread).

I've had people tell me I have a real 'gift' when it comes to music/writing songs/etc. Worldly wisdom says, "Hey man, you've got a 'gift', why don't you try to get famous and make a load of cash and you'll be set." That's from my own thoughts and it's what I once strived for. I even had people-- good, Christian people-- want this for me.

Godly wisdom says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." That's from 1 Peter 4:10. This verse reminds me that the most talented and least talented people in this world are on a level playing field called Service. I'm convinced the most glorious Service Stadium is the local church.

Jesus did NOT say the greatest among us would be the best songwriter, the most charasmatic speaker, the one in the highest position, etc. He said the greatest would be the servant. We are all SHAPEd to serve, but we've got to get into the game. The local church has a glorious playing field waiting. What is your SHAPE?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Aron & I had a conversation last night while lying in bed expressing our frustration with ourselves at the lack of motivation to pursue excellence in our lives. Though we know it is best, both of us have been neglecting exercise opting instead to hit the snooze button & sleep until the last possible minute. We've been putting off our prayer times together at the end of the day until we're both so tired, we just fall into bed. Even our personal prayer times have been not as much of a priority as we NEED it to be. You see, we both believe God has dreams for us, that God has a purpose & plan for each of us. But we also understand that without connecting with him both individually & as a couple, we won't be #1 prepared when opportunities arise and #2 in tune with his heart to know the paths we are to pursue.

In light of this, a scripture from Deuteronomy has been on my heart & it is really speaking truth to our circumstance:
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God is calling us to choose life - to choose Him -in even the smallest decisions. As I contemplate whether to sleep an extra half hour or wake up & take care of the body God has given me for His purposes - will I choose life or will I choose death? I am making a choice when I hit the snooze button, even if it seems ever so small. Those little choices add up.

Now I am not suggesting that there is no grace & no fun. God Himself modeled that there is a time to rest. And there will be days when choosing life means to say no to the busy work & rest or play. But this scripture just highlighted in my mind the importance of the little everyday, seemingly insignificant decisions we make numerous times a day.

So as we walk through our moments and our days, let us choose life, because God in his great love has set before us the opportunity to choose.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How I loathe transitions

I'm trying to embrace seasons of change, weeks outside my comfort zone, but truth be told,
I'm terrible at transitioning through transitions. Someone explain this personality trait to me, please! (I'm an ENFJ with a dichotomous duo set of spiritual gifts: 100% comforter, 100% manager for those of you who understand these things {thank you dr. millard, iwu, & the life calling & leadership department}).
So I started my first day at St. John's Health Network; I'll be traveling to each of their 6 different campuses working on various floors. The benefit: flexibility...I make my schedule. The drawback: no consistency.
All day I longed for my comfort zone at Brown County Hospital (which I really did not like when I first started). After seeing 30 plus docs on the Tele unit today, I seriously ached for my Dr. Kapur (who frustrated me much when I first started at BCGH). When I started BCGH, I longed for the ways of Marion General Hospital. When I began as a Student Nurse at MGH, I just wanted to go back to Clermont Mercy. You see the pattern?
I am terrible with transition. Once I am out of the woods of uncertainity, I am fine. I am trying to see this as exciting. I am praying to live in this moment. I am trying...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dancing Queen

Weekend recap

We've had a busy weekend here at here's the headlines:
Belle's baby dedication at Macomb Christian Church

She received Psalm 9:19 (also her birthday - 9/19/06) as her life verse:"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."

Little Rose upon waking this morning (she is NOT a morning all!)

Saturday we attended the wedding of Brian & Linda Carr.

Here's Belle before the wedding...and another picture exactly one year ago in the same dress...oh the change in just one year!

And finally, see the video above for our little party animal. She wandered all around the dance floor busting a move (her moves kinda remind us of a pirate...argh, matey!)

producer's note: Apologies for the sideways videos...I keep forgetting videography doesn't work like photography can't turn the camera & expect it to tape right side up. Also, all of our videos have been shot from our digital camera; I still haven't figured out how to get our real videos from our handycam to upload! That might explain the poor resolution & overall "jiggly-ness" of the footage. Something is better than nothing for grandparents and the like!