Sunday, October 30, 2011

We made it!

Praise God! After 700 miles, a night in Liberal, KS and countless french fries, we made it to ABQ. The kids did great, and it was an uneventful trip. We rolled in Sat evening and crashed. Everybody's wiped out, and poor Emz just crashed this afternoon with a fever.

But thankfully, our new church family welcomed us with open arms, a comfortable place to stay and a yummy hot dinner. We went to church today and felt right at home. Our new house looks great. Special thanks to all who helped get it ready.

But no rest for the weary, the moving truck arrives tomorrow morning at 8am. The boys will start school tomorrow too. It looks like Emz will miss her first day of her new school. More updates will follow soon...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is it!

The truck is coming in 2 days. It's been a furious week of packing. And now it's time to pack up the computer. So long from KS. We'll see you in ABQ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Groundhog Day

Remember that movie with Bill Murray back in the 80's? Where everything is the same every day? At first, it's fun to relive your life and fix mistakes. But then, it becomes monotonous. Then, torture. I'm at the torture stage.It's torture for Sandy too. At least, she's trying to put a smile on everything.Everyone room looks the same - empty, except for a pile of boxes. Tape, pack, tape, label. Rinse, repeat. The end is in sight, the end is in sight...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our last Sunday

I knew this day was coming. For a long time, it was weeks away. Then suddenly, it snuck up on me. Today was our last Sunday at FHCC. Right now, my life is too crazy amidst packing and moving, for full reflection. I know this will all sink in after life settles down in ABQ.

But for today, I was blown away with the grace and love of God shown to me and my family through our church. I am so thankful and grateful to God for the kind words of encouragement, the acts of service and help and the love of Christ through it all. I am so truly unworthy. Praise God.Andrew's friends from Sunday School were sad to see him go.Emery got one last hug from her gal pals.Sandy, Emery and Matt got a "We will miss you" banner from their Sunday School class. God is good and does good, always.

Friday, October 21, 2011

So what did you do today?

Sometimes you can do a lot in a day, but there's nothing tangible to show for it. Other times, you can see a world of difference.Normally, this bookcase is filled with toys and other kids' stuff. But this morning, there wasn't much left. I think we came to KS with 8-10 boxes of kids' stuff. We're leaving with 6...though to be fair, we have plenty of other boxes that we have added.At the end of the day, the bookcase and a lot of other stuff in the basement was not where it used to be. I have almost the whole basement packed. Man, I'm tired. But it's very liberating to not have so much stuff (out at least). We have moved about 10 or 11 times in our almost 14 years of marriage. There are a lot of challenges to that, but one of the positives has been the necessity of downsizing and simplifying. The less stuff you have, the less you have to do to keep your stuff maintained and cleaned and working properly. The more time you have. I am seriously considering buying a smaller house if the Lord allows us to buy another house.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#22 - Crazy Love

I listened to Crazy Love by Francis Chan on audio book last year. But I don't count that as really reading a book. So I decided to really read it this year with my praise team.I think this book is a Desiring God by John Piper lite. It has a lot of the same themes - the glory and greatness of God, finding our joy in God alone, being amazed by our salvation. But then Chan adds on this call for commitment. If God is as great and holy and powerful as we say He is, then shouldn't that make a significant difference in our lives? If God's salvation for wicked sinners like us by grace through faith in Christ is truly as amazing as we say it is, shouldn't our lives reflect that? If the Bible is as true as we say it is, then shouldn't I live my life according to what it says?

Using tons of Scripture and Chan's straightforward yet non-threatening style, he points out that lukewarm Christianity is not biblical. Jesus did not die for us to live in the comfort and security of the American dream. God wants something so much greater for us - Himself. Not a nice house, not 2 cars, not a secure job, not a pension and lovely vacations. God wants us to obsessed...with Him and His glory.

Here are some gems:
  • It's exhilarating to be part of a group of believers who are willing to think biblically rather than conventionally, to be part of a body where radical living is becoming the norm. This book is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don't want to plateau, those who would rather die before their convictions do.
  • I sometimes struggle with how to properly respond to God's magnitude in a world bent on ignoring or merely tolerating Him. But know this: God will not be tolerated. He instructs us to worship and fear Him.
  • In about 50 years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore. This can be terrifying or reassuring, or maybe a mix of both.
  • You could be the next person in your family to die. I could be the next person at my church to die. We have to realize it. We have to believe it enough that it changes how we live.
  • The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him - and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.
  • Jesus asks for everything. But we try and give Him less. Jesus said, 'Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.' Luke 14:34-35 Jesus isn't just making a cute little analogy here. He is addressing those who aren't willing to give everything, who won't follow Him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless, that it sickens our souls. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even fit 'for the manure pile.' Wow. How would you like to hear the Son of God say, 'You would ruin manure'?
  • My conclusion? Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.
  • Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God's point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one that matters), they're evil. Let's stop calling it 'a busy schedule' or 'bills' or 'forgetfulness.' It's called evil. [Another one I hear a lot is 'I can't' - really? In truth, it is 'I won't.']
  • How many of us would really leave our families, our jobs, our education, our friends, our familiar surroundings, and our homes if Jesus asked us to? If He just showed up and said, 'Follow me'? No explanation. No directions.
This is the kind of book that after reading it, I wanted to go out and do something. Sell my house and go out to the mission field. Ironically, my house is up for sale right now, and I am moving to a place where I don't know anyone to preach the Gospel. And while that has seemingly always been the quintessential Christian ideal of living for Christ, Chan makes it clear that everyone has to make their own choices on how to live for Christ.

It doesn't always mean becoming a missionary or pastor, but loving your spouse in true humility, every night tenderly serving the other person. Saying no to sports or music or whatever for your children so that you can make time to read the Bible to them. Risking your business reputation and sharing the Gospel with co-workers, vendors, and even your boss. Turning down extra work opportunities so that you can faithfully serve at the church Awana program. All of these things and a thousand more are little decisions that reflect a heart sold out for Christ.

I highly recommend this book. But watch out. If you are honest with yourself, this book will change you, for the better.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's for dinner?

Do you ever wonder what you should make for dinner?It's easy now at our house - ice cream or French toast sticks? Ha! Sandy's been doing a great job cleaning out our freezer. A lot of times at this point before a move, you can eat some pretty eclectic combinations of food. But Sandy has kept things pretty normal.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A backpack and a battle axe

I told Matt to work on his math flashcards and what do I find?Guess who loves his new backpack? He's wearing it around everywhere.It's a Mario backpack. Do you remember Mario? Didn't he come out in the 80's with the Nintendo? I swear, there really is nothing new under the son. The funny thing is that we don't own a Nintendo. We've never played Mario. We don't have a Wii. Matt just happened to play something with Mario at a friend's house once.Matt said, "I love my new backpack. It's the best thing ever. Well, my battle axe is pretty good too."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wiped out

I came home from church today, completely wiped out. My allergies have been driving me crazy the last couple of weeks, and I woke up today not feeling the best. But by the grace of God, I managed to teach the college Sunday School class and lead one last meeting with some of my children's Sunday School teachers. Then I came home and crashed.

The boys and I watched "Return of the Jedi" though I must admit I didn't see much of it. The boys loved it while I loved sleeping through it. Matt's favorite part was when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down. Andrew liked it when Jabba got choked to death.I forgot to post these pictures the other day.Can't forget the crazy pic.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy birthday Sandy!

Today was my beautiful honey's birthday. It was a casual day as most birthdays are at this stage in life with young kids. But I did manage to make breakfast and homeschool Matt for her. Then we were off to the "big" city of Topeka where she could do some shopping at the mall. We topped off the day with dinner at HuHot Mongolian Grill. Sandy, the ever frugal one, found a free dinner on your birthday coupon.
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This year, I decided to make a movie for Sandy with the kids. Our theme was - What was mom like when she was a young girl? Guess who played Sandy? Matt was her younger brother Sam. And Andrew played Sandy's dad. The movie had 5 scenes, here are the 2 best ones.
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Sorry Sam - you were the comic relief in this historical fiction. You have to admit though, Matt was perfect casting for that role.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm on a roll...

First, the sump pump, now? The wireless router. I'm definitely NOT a techie. I think I'm the last generation before the cell phone and the lap top took hold. I still use a flip phone, and I plan on keeping my desk top for 10 years, at least. But as the boys and girl have grown, they have started using the computer a little. But 3 others using the internet with Sandy and me, has crowded us out a bit.

So I've been on the lookout for a new lap top for over a year. I wanted to get a real basic one for super cheap. A 15 inch Acer went on sale this week at Staples for $200 off. It's got better specs than my desk top and was only $300. But then I was faced with the dilemma, how do I get the wireless router to set up a wireless network?Thanks to Google, I figured out how to get it running.And ta-dah! We now have a working lap top connected to the internet. I didn't even need to call any of my techie friends! 2 big accomplishments in 1 week. What's next? Should I cook something or work on the car?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cruise control

Don't you love that feature on your car that let's you relax, put your feet up and drive on the highway for miles? I like to drive long distances, but I need cruise control. I'm guessing most people younger than me may be wondering - doesn't every car have cruise control? But I know that everyone older than me drove a car without that amenity among others. My first car was a 1978 Camaro - maroon with black rally stripes. Sort of like this:Man, I loved that car. It had a 305 V8 engine. I washed and waxed it every month I think. But I digress. The point of this post was to talk about cruise control. That Camaro didn't have cruise control.I'm reading The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges right now, and he wrote about a "cruise control" approach to obedience. He wrote, "we press the accelerator pedal of obedience until we have brought our behavior up to a certain level or 'speed.' The level of obedience is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us. We don't want to lag behind them because we want to be as spiritual as they are. At the same time, we're not eager to forge ahead of them because we wouldn't want to be different. We want to just comfortably blend in with the level of obedience of those around us. Once we have arrived at this comfortable level of obedience, we push the 'cruise control' button in our hearts, ease back, and relax. Our particular Christian culture then takes over and keeps us going at the accepted level of conduct...I fear it is descriptive of many of us much, if not all, of the time."

So true isn't it? Bridges goes on, "This is what it means to love God with all our heart and soul and mind. It means to obey Him with all our heart and soul and mind. It means, in the words of Hebrews 12:14, 'to make every effort...to be holy.' Relentless. Intense. Driven. Consuming. Zealous. Passionate. Bridges explained in the rest of the chapter how to love God with all your heart and soul and mind. But I had to briefly share his point as it resonated with my soul. Can we ever give God everything in this life? I don't know, but I want to give it my best try. I want to live and hold nothing back. I don't want to be on cruise control, ever, except when I drive to ABQ.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The letter y

Guess who loves the letter y?This is just one page of several. Emery can get a little obsessive. She even showed off that she could write the letter y with her eyes closed! She's dying to learn stuff at school. Kindergarten is moving too slow for her. Her frequent prayer request at night is to learn how to read.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Proverbs 24:10

I recently finished reading through Proverbs and found this little gem that I never noticed before:
  • If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10
The Hebrew word for "faint" can literally mean drop your hands from work; to be so tired, that you can't lift your hands. Figuratively, that translates to losing heart, being discouraged, not having the energy to keep going. Basically, giving up.

Have you ever felt like that? I feel that temptation every day. Whether it's reading my Bible, praying, trusting God for the selling of my house, leading family Bible time, talking with my kids about having a spiritual perspective regarding something they did, the list goes on and on. I can choose to glorify God and exercise spiritual strength. Or I can give up, lose heart, put it off until tomorrow or faint when the big trials in life come.

This proverb reminds me of James 1:2-3 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." The Greek word for endurance can be translated fortitude, staying power or spiritual toughness.

Trials can produce spiritual strength in us. Or they can show that our spiritual strength is small. But the key moment is the crucial decision point, especially in the little things. We will choose to obey God and take that moment to pray? Will we choose to memorize that verse? Will we choose to read that Christian book? If we do in the dozens of little decisions daily, we will gain spiritual strength, toughness and fortitude by the grace of God. If we don't, we will faint in the big days of adversity and show that our strength is small.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Home ownership

There are a lot of pros to owning your own home. But one of the dangers of owning a home (or anything for that matter) is for that thing, to take hold of your life. Improving it, painting it, designing it and repairing it can gobble up your time. It can eat up your energy so that you spend your time doing good things but not eternal things.

This weekend, I had to do one of those things - replace the sump pump.It was not a pretty picture. I learned about the sump pit when I became a home owner. If you don't know about this, basically, without a working sump pump, your basement could flood. So I got on this one right away.I am not a very handy person so I am very proud that I managed to do this in just 2 trips to Bluestem and 1 call to George. Replacing it is one thing, testing it out to see if it worked is another...
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The most amazing thing on this video is not what happens. It is what doesn't happen! No water spraying everywhere, no flames and no explosions. Phew!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sleep mask

Last night, Emery wanted to sleep with a bandana for some reason. She asked me to fold it up and tie it over her eyes. When I asked her why? She said that there was too much light in her room which made it too hard to fall asleep. She wanted to use a sleep mask like grandma.She actually fell asleep with it on and said today that it worked to help her fall asleep faster. Who knew?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sparkies

I have 2 little Sparkies in my house. They both earned their wings last night and are super excited about it.Matt is in his 2nd year so he has the blue patch and wings. You can't see it, but Emery earned her green patch and wings. They fill in their wings with various red, green and blue jewels as they memorize verses in their books.For every decent picture I take, I usually take about 2 or 3 crazy ones.Thank God for digital cameras. Aren't you so glad we don't use film anymore?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

3rd Quarter Update

Can you believe it's already October? Time is flying by, especially as I try and pack up this house in the next 3 weeks! It's time for my last quarter update before the end of the year. To read the last update on my annual goals, click here.

Goal #1 - Read through the Bible twice
  • I'm still on pace. I just finished the Psalms. Man, they are good. So raw, so real, such deep struggles. But in the end, where else can we turn? Who else can we trust? Hope in God. Wait for the Lord. Be strong.
Goal #2 - Memorize Titus
  • I just finished up to 3:7. It's been getting hard lately. Memorizing has been a bit of a grind lately. I've been exhorting Andrew a lot lately to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. I need to heed my own exhortation.
Goal #3 - Run the KC Marathon in under 4 hours
  • It's official. This goal is tanked. At least, I can console myself that the move to ABQ made this goal unreasonable. Plus, I will be able to train in the high altitude and temperate climate of ABQ for next year...I hope.
Goal #4 - Read 24 books
  • I was struggling with this one last quarter. Thankfully, mixing up the reading diet really helped a lot. I read a bunch of history, fiction and biography which was a very enjoyable breeze. I loved the military history and the leadership book too. I'm realizing that these are some of my hobby topics. And after going through them, it is making the staple of my reading diet - Christian living and ministry books - much more enjoyable and rich. I'm actually ahead of schedule now with 21 done.
This is one of the most enjoyable times of the year for me. I'm headed down the home stretch with my goals, the end is in sight. I am starting to savor the accomplishments of the year and am beginning to anticipate some new goals for next year. Exciting!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Colossians 3:9

Emery is a LITTLE bit excited about being a Sparky.She became an official Sparky with her official vest last week.
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Here's her last home verse for a while as we will be focusing on Awana verses from now on.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gone fishing

I decided to take advantage of these beautiful fall days and take the boys and girl fishing one last time this year.Andrew snagged the first one of the day. He's getting pretty good at it. He used a lure today. I just have to get him to take the fish off the hook by himself.Then Matt caught a whopper.Then a fish attacked Emery. It was almost as big as she was. And best of all for mom, she didn't have to touch, see or smell any fish.