Monday, December 31, 2007

God's Return Policy

This Sunday we had Mark Schaufler come and fill the pulpit for us during our pastoral transition. He's actually been here the last 3 weeks (next week will be Master's Commission, and then maybe I'll preach one Sunday). I thought his sermon this last Sunday was very, very good. He talked from Matthew 5:21-24. It's always fun when you've been studying something, and then you hear the pastor on Sunday talk about what you were meditating on all week. Let me tell you, it's even better when you manage to get your thoughts down in a blog, and then they talk about it. I just wanted to get up on the mic and tell everyone to read my blog for confirmation of the sermon.

Pastor Mark started his sermon by talking about the things we need to do in life, and then he talked about how things like unforgiveness put unnecessary obstacles in our way. As an example he had a lady come over and shake my hand. Then he threw a bunch of stuff out on the floor and told her to walk over again, this time without stepping on anything. Then he talked about Matt 5:23, where Jesus says this:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

What I thought was cool was that Pastor Mark brought out the fact that God says before you even come and worship me, you need to obey me. Without obedience, our worship means nothing to God. This doesn't mean we need to be perfect in order to come to church, but that, as much as we are able, we need to have a right heart before God.

Anyway, just thought that was pretty cool.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Punished for Cleaning up?

I had an interesting conversation with Kadin the other night. It went something like this:

ME: Do you know why you're in trouble?

KADIN: But Dad, I was just trying to clean up all my toys in the living room so you and Mom wouldn't have to trip on them.

ME: Was that what you were supposed to be doing?

KADIN: But I thought you always wanted me to clean my stuff up.

ME: Unless we already told you to get in bed.

KADIN: But I thought it would make you happy...

ME: I love it when you clean up stuff without us asking, it makes me very happy, but I'm even more happy when you do what you're told.

In 1 Samuel there is a story of King Saul. In chapter 13 he was given clear instructions that he was to wait for Samuel for seven days, and that when Samuel arrived he would offer the sacrifice and God's blessing would be upon the people. Towards the end of the seventh day the people started to get restless, and Saul decided that he would offer the sacrifice to God. Here is the conversation that resulted from this decision:

11 "What have you done?" asked Samuel.
Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."

13 "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."

To paraphrase, King Saul said, "But I thought it would make God happy..."

I think an even more telling story is in chapter 15, when Saul is told by the prophet to kill everything in a particular area, and yet he decided to save the best stuff to offer a sacrifice to God. That's when God reveals to him the same thing I was trying to get across to Kadin, namely that doing what He says is more important than doing what we think He wants. Here is the way God put it in the bible:

22 But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king."

God was trying to stamp out the same attitude that caused the Pharisees in Jesus time, and causes a religious spirit today. This is the attitude that made the Pharisees balk when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, or when He chose not to have His disciples fast on certain days like everyone else did. We need to learn to do what God is saying now, not what we think He wants.

With Kadin, his heart wasn't to clean the living room, it was to try and stay up a few minutes longer. I think with King Saul, he wanted to please the people more than he wanted to please God. God is good at exposing the attitudes of our hearts, and He wants a people who a fully devoted to Him, not using Him for our benefit. Ouch.

Learning to walk with Him daily,


Flood Recovery pt 4: Dreaming again

For the first time in a while, I'm dreaming again. I noticed it this morning in the shower. I was standing in there, and I started to think about cool topics for the youth group to cover, and new blogs that I'd like to write, and other things like that. It was a good feeling. I walked into our family room this morning to let the dogs out and I wasn't tripping over tools. There was a clear path everywhere I needed to go. I feel we've finally cleared a path in my head too.

While writing this I got a call from my Grandpa, reminding me of a couple things we still need to do, so I guess it's back to reality for now. We are organizing a work party on New Years Day over at our house, and we'll be painting and pressure washing our shed and making a few minor repairs. We're not out of the woods yet, but there is a definite light at the end. I'm so grateful to my Grandpa and Uncle for all the work they've done, there's no way we'd be in this position if it wasn't for their help. They would say that that's what family is for, but they've been down here three weekends in a row (including tomorrow), taking off time that they could be spending with their families in order to help mine. It's very humbling.

I think I'm gonna use one of those cool blog ideas here in a couple minutes and post a bible study. It's nice that I'm not spending all my time thinking about the house.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

So funny it couldn't be legal

I know this has been done before, but I just can't help myself. So with apologies to anyone I might be plagiarizing from, and with all humility before the bearded one himself:

-Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

-If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

-The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

-Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

-Chuck Norris once shot a German plane down with his finger, by yelling, "Bang!"

-When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.

-Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

-The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist.

-What was going through the minds of Chuck Norris' victims before they died? His shoe.

-Chuck Norris once showed up at Google and demanded that they rename their search engine "Chuck Norris." When they refused, Chuck roundhouse kicked Google in the face, transforming it's bruised remains into Google Dark.

-Chuck Norris affects the price of stock quotes and land values. Wherever he is, prices drop due to the danger of a sudden catastrophe. He bought his own home for 30 cents and one roundhouse kick.

-If you spell Chuck Norris in Scrabble, you win. Forever.

-The following is a short list of things Chuck Norris cannot do: ....

-If you make a list of 10 things Chuck Norris cannot do, he will appear at your house and perform them all. Your life may be forfeit.

-Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the possibility of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

-When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

-Chuck Norris can slam revolving doors.

-Chuck Norris has to maintain a concealed weapon license in all 50 states in order to legally wear pants.

-Chuck Norris Isn't funny, stop laughing.

-Chuck Norris has an unbeatable poker face, concealed beneath an even more unbeatable poker beard.

-While a normal poker face conceals the emotion of its wearer, Chuck Norris’s poker face skips all that and just drives other players insane. As a result, the only way to survive a game of poker against Chuck Norris is to play online, and even then you still might go insane.

-When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

-Chuck Norris was once on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and was the first to spin. The next 29 minutes of the show consisted of everyone standing around awkwardly, waiting for the wheel to stop.

-Q: What’s 30 times Chuck Norris?
A: Oblivion.

-Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

-In conversation, Chuck Norris often quotes himself, and then laughs about it.

-Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

-February 29th only occurs once every four years because Chuck Norris wills it to be so.

-There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

-Chuck Norris really likes the movie 101 Dalmatians. No one knows why.

-In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

-There’s an old Chuck Norris saying: “He who has the Chuck Norris makes the rules.” It’s one of those nonsensical old sayings, since it implies that someone can “have” Chuck Norris.

-When Chuck Norris falls in water, Chuck Norris doesn't get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.

-Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter.

-A man stopped Chuck Norris on the street and asked him to list 100 Chuck Norris facts. Unamused, Chuck Norris raised one eyebrow with such force that the man disintegrated.

-Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

-Chuck Norris once picked a fight with a duck. The duck turned out to have several 10th degree blackbelts, and was the most formidable adversary Chuck Norris ever faced. Funny how random the universe can be.

-When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

-There are no steroids in baseball, just players Chuck Norris has breathed on.

-If at first you don't succeed, you're not Chuck Norris.

Have a very happy New Year! You guys rock.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Flood Recovery part 3: An Update

Well, we're still sleeping in our living room, but other than that things are going great! I wanted to write a quick update for everyone who's been following the blog, to let you know how things are going down here.

  1. Construction: My Uncle and Grandpa came down here on Sunday and hung about 70% of the sheetrock, which means the rooms are close to being liveable again. We've been having a harder time getting the siding dried out, but I'm confidant that it will be okay by Saturday, when they are going to come finish things up.
  2. More Blessings: I neglected to mention our windows when I was writing Neighbors helping Neighbors the other day that our bedroom windows need to be replaced. We were set to do the work and then things happened (you know how that goes) and it was never finished. Because of this one of the windows was only hanging by one nail, and was easily pulled to give John access to the house, so they could get all of our clothes and stuff out. What was once a source of frustration for us has become a point of blessing.
  3. Stuff Stuff: A lot of our "stuff" was ruined by the flood. We filled two trailers full of it. Things like tents and lawn chairs were completely yucked up by the mud, and our weed wacker was ruined when water got in the engine. So a lot of that "Stuff" is gone, but the great thing is that it's all just stuff, and it can all be replaced.
  4. The kids: They've each had interesting an different reactions to our living situation. Olivia (our 3 year old) has become very clingy. She always wants to be sitting on our laps, or be held, or even help out with chores. She just wants to be near us constantly, she has a hard time staying in her room or playing with her brother. Kadin (our over-analytic 5 year old) thought of something that neither of us had thought of. If we don't have a Christmas tree (due to space), how will Santa know where to leave the presents? Lucky for us, my parents know Santa personally and he's agreed to drop the presents off at their house this year, just to avoid any confusion. Living in such a small space with them can be overwhelming, so on Tuesday tiff's parents came down and picked them up, and they'll be up there until after Christmas.
Well, that's the quick update, I'll post more changes as they happen,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flood Recovery part 2: Pics from the flood

Here are some pictures of the flood damage so everyone can take a look at them. Some friends of mine have a video that I'm trying to get ahold of so I can post that here as well, it's supposed to show the flood waters rising up to our house. In all there was about 6-8" of water in the family room and master bed room. If the water had gone up 2" more, it would have flooded our whole house. God is truly in control. Onto the pics:

The front and back doors to our house, after the sandbags were taken down.

(L)There was mud everywhere inside our bedroom, and (R) you can see the
Christmas presents that were hidden under our bed.

(L) Our Family Room was also covered with mud, and the tile at the base of the wood stove is starting to crack. (R) It's hard to see from the picture, but there is a crack on the left side because the ground under the slab was washed away and the slab broke and settled down there.

Both of these are pics of the Family room once we got the carpet out and the sheetrock cut away. We found some weird stuff in the walls, including a pop can (full of something) and a broomstick.

This is some of the fun mold that was growing in our bedroom. So we cut it out, replaced it with some wood from our shed and walked in there today to see more mold growing.

So there you have it, I'll post some pics of the work as it's being done and eventually the finished product.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flood Recovery part 1: Neighbors helping neighbors

I LOVE THE HOME DEPOT!!!!! They are the greatest company ever!!!!! In a time where they should be looking to rebuild their own store, and really could be looking to turn a quick buck, they seem to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. I don't know if this is company policy or was the actions of two very thoughtful employees, but they have a lifelong customer in me because of how they've handled this flood situation.

Over the past week there have been several "coincidences" that have helped me to see the hand of God at work in our current problems. Because of these things several people have commented on how great our attitude has been. It's not too hard to be positive when you can see that God is on your side and working on your behalf. I'm sure I'll forget some things, but here is the short list:

  1. Our Rental House in Stanwood. It didn't sell for several months. We were very worried about it, but God has shown Himself faithful because if it had sold a couple months ago we would have invested the money in our house, now we have money available in case FEMA doesn't cover everything.
  2. Our vacation. We wanted to go on vacation for months, and were really hoping to spend Halloween in Disneyland. Because our Senior Pastor was leaving the church, we took the last opportunity we had to take a vacation and we were warm and safe while everything was happening. I'm sure if we were there we would have stayed too long at our house, and who knows what would have happened to our kids.
  3. Our car. As soon as we get the money from our house we're going out to buy a minivan. I've been dreaming for a while about walking into a dealership with cash and trying to get the best deal possible. But if that would have happened our car would have been underwater in our driveway, which is a little lower than the rest of the house. Instead it was safe at a parkinglot in Seatac. Plus, they detailed it for us while we were gone.
  4. The outpouring of love from friends and strangers. To date we've had about $550 cash, groceries and a dehumidifier given to us, not to mention all of the people who helped us take care of the house while we were gone. One lady overheard us talking at Disneyland and walked up and gave us $20. But the most amazing thing so far has been how people have really stepped up to help us, from John and Susie pulling our stuff out of the water, Melody and the gang getting most of the water up with a carpet shampooer, or my uncle and grandpa helping us get new sheetrock in place, you all have helped us and blessed us more than you'll ever know.
  5. The Home Depot. This was so cool, it deserves it's own line. We had heard that a dehumidifier would really help us, so we went to Home Depot to look for one. The only one they had was $220. Tiff and I couldn't afford that, so we passed on it. The kids were getting fidgety so I took them to the car while she payed, and while in line one of the employees walked over with the dehumidifier and placed it in our cart. When Tiffanney balked at the gift, the lady told her "This is what neighbors are for". In almost a week of use it has pulled over 230 pints of water out of the air and has made the whole house much more livable.
This store is right next to Home Depot in Chehalis

If you can't see the hand of God in all of that, you're trying really hard not to. God has blessed us indeed. BTW, our house closed Thursday and we got the money on Friday. I guess God knew what He was doing the whole time.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I dug through the trash the other day.

Blog posts are supposed to have catchy titles in order to attract more readers, so how did I do? I did have to dig through the trash, but first a little backstory.

In the middle of August Tiffanney and I put our rental house on the market. Since then we've been making two housepayments (no, that's not why I dug through a trash can, we're still getting there, hold on a minute). FINALLY, October 29th we got an offer on the house!!! Yeah!!! We'd spent some time praying and fasting about the situation and felt like God would get us an offer by the end of October, which He did.

The next week I get word from my Senior Pastor that I need to preach on the 11th, only to find out later that he is interviewing at another church (I knew before I preached that Sunday). He comes back and tells us that he is leaving on December 9th.

We've been desiring a vacation for a while now, but making two housepayments makes it impossible to save any money. We decided that we would go on Dec 3rd thru the 8th, assuming the house had closed by then. It didn't. This left us with the hard decision of waiting until we had the money in hand and possibly not taking a vacation for several months (until the new pastor comes in) or putting it all on credit cards and trusting that it would close while we were gone (it didn't).

None of this led to me spilling trash all over the floor in the post office though. Here's the main culprit. On Tuesday afternoon we were running through Toon Town in Disneyland, trying to decide where we should eat after we went to visit Mickey Mouse. Standing on the steps of Mickey's house we got a phone call. It was our Childrens pastor. She said that guys from the National Guard were standing at our front door and were waiting for our permission to put up sand bags around our house. We froze, what could we do? Absolutely yes, please sandbag, but then what? How can we get home, and what will we find when we get there? We didn't make it to see Mickey the entire week.

To make a long story short, here's what the next few days looked like. We called around to find out about changing our plane tickets, but the waters didn't receed until Thurday, meaning that even if we had flown home we couldn't have gotten to our house. We had to trust the people in our church to help us out, and they came through for us in a BIG way. Even during the flood we had people over at our house giving us updates, and once the waters went down a little there was a crew over there moving furniture, building fires and trying to make sure that everything was contained.

We got home on Saturday just after Sunset, and were greeted by piles of clothes in our living room and all of our furniture in our dining room. In all there was about 8 inches of water in the bottom of our house and only our family room and master bedroom were affected. I will detail the clean up process and our interactions with insurance companies, FEMA and Home Depot in other blogs ('cause this one's getting too long), but right now I know you want to know about rubbish.

Before we leave our house for a few days, we always try and make sure everything is clean and that any food that might spoil is taken care of. We also typically eat a lot of the food in our house, knowing that when we get back we'll be grocery shopping anyways. So we returned home not just to piles of clothes, but we had no food and our vacation had been payed for with credit cards, so we had no money to buy food. Add to that the fact that the house still hasn't closed and we need to make Decembers house payment still and I think it's safe to say we were a little stressed out. We called a friend who works with the mission and got some groceries from him, and tried to go to the store to pick up some newspapers for firestarters. First we stopped at the post office and I saw that we got those little circular ads in the mail. I thought to myself, if I got one everyone must have, and everyone throws them away, so I jumped into the garbage can and pulled out all the newspaper I could find. I only stopped when I stuck my hand on top of a moldy banana peel. I was so proud of myself for thinking of this that it didn't even occur to me that it was people's trash until that point.

I'm not used to asking for help from people. Usually I'm going out of my way to help others out. To be in the position where I need help is most humbling. Thanks to everyone who's helped during this time, you've all blessed me so much. Please remember to keep praying for the flood victims here in Washington, we can all use it.

In closing I just want to say that while the majority of this post was probably a little depressing to read, we're doing well and we can see God's hand in everything that's happened all along the way. I just needed to vent and this is one way that I can do that.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Eyes on the prize

Last night while I was reading from the book of Galatians I noticed something that really stuck out to me,

1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by
Jesus Christ
and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

Our Senior Pastor announced on Sunday that he had accepted a position at another church. This introduced all sorts of uncertainty in our lives, but God, knowing my human tendencies, practically screamed this verse at me Sunday night, letting me see that He has everything under control. Then this morning I came across this story from ESPN's Page 2:

Studies of crashes during aircraft landings under difficult
circumstances, he said, showed that pilots who made
bad mistakes
when approaching an airfield and crashed,
but lived to tell the tale, reported that they had been
focused on avoiding obstacles
. Pilots who made
difficult landings without incident reported they had
focused solely on the runway. Business and artistic success,
Costello continued, follow the same pattern. Setbacks result
from constantly trying to avoid obstacles, worrying about
what might go wrong. Achievement results from keeping
your eyes glued to the prize and endlessly repeating to
yourself, "I can do this." Or, as I once wrote, "Keep your
gaze in the distance, and though you will stumble, you
will reach your destination."

God is in control of our lives. He directs the events that happen and He is in everything we are doing. I'll leave you today with this thought from the apostle Paul:

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things.

If we keep our eyes on Heaven, we will not be shaken either.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Christians in Sports

I'm always interested in hearing about Christian Athletes playing professional sports. I loved the story about John Kitna's concussion and how he believed that God healed him. But sometimes it seems like athletes only pay lip service to God (and Christians in general too). Rarely do you hear about anyone's struggles with their faith.

That's why I found this article about Paul Byrd so refreshing. He acknowledges that there are times when Christians struggle, talks about his own temptation to cheat or look at porn, and does so in a way that comes across as real and honest, not judgemental. While you're reading the article, make sure and look at the comments because one guy makes a great point about how Christian athletes are usually reduced to one sound byte, and that makes them come across as being crazy.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


Yesterday I had a breakthrough moment. Sometimes in youth ministry you just plug along looking for a hint of light on the horizon. Sometimes it's tough to see if you're making a difference in the lives of students at all. Especially because none of them seem very skilled in expressing gratitude. And they don't bother to try. Ever. But we don't do youth ministry for the glory, do we?

With the stress of making two house payments and looking at declining numbers in the youth (and churchwide), it's easy to make the jump to thinking that I'm not effective, or I'm doing something wrong. But yesterday I had a breakthrough. God has been calling me to fast on Wednesdays and I've put it off. Until yesterday. While my family was eating dinner I slipped into the family room to spend some time with God before church and instantly I knew that God was there with me. Within a few seconds the peace of God flooded my soul and I knew that our house was sold and things were turning around in the youth group.

Last night we had church and there were 13 people there, but more important than the number (which was average for the last 3-4 months) was the conversation we had that night. I say conversation because I didn't get to preach. Instead we talked about God and just about everyone was engaged the whole time. God was moving in that place.

Recently God has been revealing to me a strategy to win the youth of Oakville to Jesus. I am now more excited than ever that God is going to do something great here. Like I told the youth on Wednesday, sometimes God says yes, sometimes no, and sometimes He tells us to wait. I'm waiting with anticipation to see what God's going to do in the Oasis.


PS: Pray for us, it's off to Youth Conference tomorrow!

Friday, October 5, 2007

About Fasting pt 2

Fasting brings power in our lives. In case you missed it, here is my first post on fasting. I wanted to show an example from scripture about the power of fasting, and I came across this interesting little nugget in the book of 2 Chronicles:

1 After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.) 3 Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.

As you can see there was a vast army approaching Israel and they were given very little warning. Typically they would send out messengers to the corners of the land to raise up an army to defend their country, but with the speed of this attack there was no time to do that. Jehoshaphat recognizes that their situation is desperate and he knows that the only way out is through prayer and fasting.

Sometime during their prayers he must have heard from God, because what he does the next day is VERY strange. Let's pick it up in verse 21:

21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead
of the
army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy
splendor. This is what
they sang:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”

I wouldn't want to be one of those singers! But because of their prayer and fasting, God showed up and delivered them. In fact the army of Israel never had to lift their swords because by the time they got to the battlefield, the armies from the other nations had killed each other off and Israel just walked around and picked up the plunder.

And that's just how God works. In the darkest and most desperate times, He fights for us and provides victories in ways that we can never even imagine. What are you going through today? What are the giants facing you in this life? Through prayer and fasting, God wants to provide a way where there doesn't seem to be one.

About fasting

Wednesday night we had a pretty interesting discussion in youth about the subject of prayer and fasting. I believe that with fasting comes power. God wants us to see that this life is not the end of everything, but the very beginning. If we live with this life in focus then we grab whatever we can now, because tomorrow doesn't matter. But when we live for eternity, we realize that denying ourselves in the short term benefits us forever. The power in fasting comes from giving up something that gives us pleasure in order to focus on what God wants. As I challenged the students on Wednesday, we need to give up something that going to be hard for us.

I love this story in the book of 2 Samuel chapter 24. David has sinned and knows it. Now there is a plague ravaging the country and the prophet has told David what to do to end it. He must go and make a sacrifice to God in a particular spot. The man who owns the field offers to give it to him, but David refuses, and watch what he says:

But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

David recognized that when we serve God there should be a sacrifice. Eternal Life is free, but it costs us everything we have. It's important to remember that it was God who created us for His pleasure. We need to live for Him and see His plans accomplished in our lives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Baptism Service Video

Tyler just finished making this video and I wanted to see how easy it is to post these things online, so here goes...


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's the fun in hiding all the time?

If you've ever owned a turtle, you know they're no fun when they're in their shells. They don't do anything. Tiff and I had a turtle for a while, but Kadin was scared of it most of the time, and our schedule meant that we were always needing people to watch it. The joy of having a turtle was outweighed by the cost of ownership. Especially since he spent a lot of time inside his shell.

Last week was See you at the pole. I had a couple students peek their heads out and it was a thrilling experience for me. I was so excited to see them step out of the safety and comfort of their shells and put their neck on the line by declaring to their friends what they believed. God was moving in that moment, and I hope these students are beginning to see what God has for them. Because this christian life is meant to be lived, not hidden away from.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So much to catch up on

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were coming back from Summer camp, and now we're looking towards Youth Conference. There have been several things that have happened, but nothing as life altering as deciding to homeschool Kadin1. Right now we're taking it a year at a time, but I know this is the right move this year. In about three weeks he's gone from knowing letter sounds to recognizing whole words without sounding them out. He cruises through his easy reading books and in about an hour can read a 25-30 page book (15-30 words per page). He's doing really well and really seems to be enjoying his newfound abilities and confidence.

Football season started this last week and, of course, I'm involved in fantasy football. It makes football so much more interesting because I'm looking at games all over the country, instead of just caring about the Seahawks. Here is a link to the league I'm in2. My team is Coast to the first3. My starting lineup looks like this:

QB- Tom Brady
WR- Chad Johnson
WR- Javon Walker
RB- Larry Johnson
RB- Maurice Jones-Drew
WR/TE- Wes Welker
WR/RB- Jerious Norwood
K- David Akers
DEF- Denver

Now that's a studly line-up4! I've got consistant producers at almost every position, plus a couple of guys who could really break out and have big years. The only thing I'm kicking myself for is picking Johnson over Joseph Addai. I'll let you know how the season progresses.

And speaking of football, the 'Hawks played three quarters of really good football (so what if it was against the 'Bucs). Bill Simmons from ESPN Page 2 picked them to play the Pats in the Superbowl, and you know what? I'd be okay with that. I think the 'Hawks are the best team in the NFC right now, and I don't care what the "experts" think. I guess we'll find out in week 3 if they're among the elite or not (they play the Bengals). BTW, I just finished this season in Madden 2008 and they just missed the playoffs, going 9-7 (the Rams were 15-1 and lost to the Broncos in the Superbowl). Not that it means anything at all.

Well, that's enough rambling for now, tune in next time when I talk about the Super jet!

1- One of my big fears as a parent is that I'm not smart enough to teach him what it means to be a good man. Now I've compounded that fear by assuming the responsibility for his education. Before I could always point at the school and complain about their faults, now all the fingers are pointing straight at me. This should be it's own blog post.

2- Kadin named it league-o, because it sounds like lego. This reminds me of when my sister bought my niece a gerbil, and Kadin told her to name it Abra-hamster. He's very clever about things like that, which brings me back to point #1.

3- He also named the team, which is good, but I keep getting "Don't you mean coast to the worst" comments from my league.

4- This team will be very good, but we lost by 8 in week one. This week we should get on track, although Johnson will be playing the Bears defense, which isn't a good matchup for anyone (see Tomlinson, LaDanian)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vick in the Doghouse

I first saw this image at La Shawn Barber's Corner.

I'm not one to side with Vick, but it seems the hypocrisy of the situation is disturbing. Here is an article by Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN Page 2's Tuesday Morning QB1 talking about how we're all hypocrites for eating meat2. Tim Keown also wrote an interesting blurb about this case in This Weeks List. I link to both of these articles because I think people have lost their heads over this whole Vick case. I know we all like to root for the Underdog3 but I think this is getting a little out of control. As Grant4 over at The G Sides pointed out, there have been several athletes doing things far worse to other people (not dogs) who won't get any jail time at all. Too often we allow the sensation of a story to take it out of it's proper perspective.

I think the part of this story that's hard to take in is all of the horrible things he did to these dogs. I hate dogs and yet could never imagine doing something like that to an animal. It's despicable. But I've yelled at my kids. Earlier this afternoon I poked my two year old girl in the eye while we were having a little shoving match5. I've kicked my dog before in anger6. I guess we've all done things we regret, my question is whether or not Vick regrets what he's done. We'll never know if he laid awake at night feeling remorse about what was happening, or if he was thinking up ways to get a new edge for his dogs the next day.


1- TMQ is a very interesting and informative read, dealing with a wide range of issues not just football. I'd highly recommend you checking it out during the season.
2- He doesn't really go that far, in fact he heartily endorses the eating of meat. He's merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the situation.
3- Although not for the Disney movie, which I've heard isn't very good (interestingly though, yahoo thinks I'll like it). That's him in the red suit and cape by the way.
4- He's Sick of Vick, and who can blame him, but if you're interested in the ramblings of another youth pastor, you should read more of his stuff.
5- She totally deserved it. She's been sporting a little attitude lately, and I thought it was about time to adjust it.
6- But never in love. That's why hate is better and why I can never love my dog, it's too much fun to kick him.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I am on my way to our second ever drama practice. I'm so pumped about this new team. God is really going to use this as a springboard into ministry for several of our students. I can't wait to see everything that God is going to do. Starting something new is really akin to childbirth. There are great struggles, but the joy of seeing new life far outweighs the pain associated with labor. I know I'm speaking from a guys perspective, but I've heard this from the ladies too. Be praying for us as we go through this time, because I know the enemy will try and attack and tear down what God is doing.

During drama practices I always try and play a game to loosen everyone up, and then I have a short bible study and prayer time. Today God has spoken to me that for the drama game everyone needs to try their hand at evangelism, and for the bible study we're going to talk about the game. We may also talk about the importance of purity in the heart of a minister, but we may save that talk for another day. Well, gotta run.


PS: Also pray because we listed our house yesterday, pray for a quick sale!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quotes about Barry Bonds

"Everytime you point your finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointed back at you..." --- My Mom

"We're a nation of cheaters. We chase wrinkles away with Botox, get our stomachs stapled, our fat suctioned out, our noses resculpted, our teeth whitened, our hair transplanted, our assets filled out with implants. We fudge our taxes, swipe pens from the supply cabinet, take 10 over the speed limit, and scarf down pills and potions for everything from restless leg syndrome to erectile dysfunction. There's very little some of us won't do to get an edge. … But, d--mit, our athletic heroes better not cheat. Does anyone detect a note of hypocrisy in this? Does anyone who reviles Barry Bonds as a cheater admit to even the tiniest flaw in his or her own personal code of ethics?" —MSNBC sports columnist Mike Celizic, in the wake of Bonds' record-breaking (and controversial) home run on Aug. 7

1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." ---Jesus Christ, Matthew 7: 1-5

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Mexi-blog pt.10- The finale

We're back home now! After spending 23 hours in a van (including driving 20 miles in 3 hours due to a brushfire in So. California), Tiffanney and I decided that we hadn't driven quite enough and therefore thought it was a good idea to go and see our kids right away. At that point we didn't realize that our 2 and a half hour journey up north would take us 6 hours. By the time our heads hit the pillows that night at my parents house we had been awake for 36 hours and had spent 29 of them in a vehicle, including 9 hours in stop and go traffic.

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, mine began with driving back to Disneyland to see if they had sorted through the hundreds of pairs of lost sunglasses to find the ones my wife had lost a day earlier. After being denied once again (it was the third time we'd tried), I returned empty handed to our hotel to begin packing things up and prepping the van to leave. I also took some time to reminisce about the trip that was and compile my thoughts into what would later become this blog that you are reading right now. (Update: That part really was written the day we left, everything else was written 8/14)

Here is a summary of what happened, including a couple of testimonies:
  • Even before we left Tiffanney and I knew this would be a great trip, but it was far above what we imagined. We had a service on Wednesday night that was just incredible. As worship was getting started I felt God telling me that we needed to pray for the pastors(please take a second to do that right now, too) of the church. We called out to God and His response was incredible. God took us and transformed us into vessels to be used by His hands. We were willing and so God poured through us mightily.
  • There was one man who was specifically blessed that night because not only did God heal his knee pain (meaning that he'd be able to work again), but God healed his relationship with his wife and daughter that night too.
  • Tiffanney preached a great word on Thursday night, and again the power of the Spirit fell, this time in the mission church we were at. I know that God is continuing the work down there even right now, and I believe next year we'll see the fruit of it.
  • God stretched us in ways we never thought possible. Whether it was VBS or learning to preach with an interpreter, God used Mexico as an opportunity to bring us out of our shells just a little bit more. Because of this experience and Summer Camp, God has birthed in the hearts of our students the desire to form a drama outreach team. We did our first human video a couple weeks ago and it was incredible.
May God stir in each of us the passion to follow Him in reaching the lost,


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New website

Well, not quite yet, but I'm thinking about changing the look of our church site. I thought I'd open this up for people to comment on what they'd like to see in a church website. You can look at our current website by going to We will be exploring some different companies for hosting and trying to find the right fit for our ministry. Certain things are obvious, like announcements or driving directions, but I don't want our site to be just a glorified bulletin (Sephie already does a great job with that). Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Links to church member's sites
  • Pastor blogs
  • Online church directory
  • Church "classifieds"
  • Social networking
  • News Feeds
  • Local weather updates
  • Community events
  • Sermon audio (and someday video)
  • Video announcements
  • Highlighted member profiles
  • Groups for different ministries
  • "Help wanted" section
  • Ministry details
  • Event pictures
  • Message boards for members
  • Online devotions
  • Online Accountability
  • Prayer Request Board
  • Praise Report Board
  • Links to other websites
Well, that's my short list, let's see what you come up with.

Update: To see how the new site might look eventually, click here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Getting ready

Packing is always an interesting experience. We're getting ready to go to Indy for General Council and I'm seriously dragging my feet. It's 11:15 right now and we need to leave here by 3, so I've still got a little time. And the fact is Tiff did ALL of the hard work yesterday. (Side note: There is a story on the news right now about cancelled flights and missed connections, I hope this isn't forshadowing things to come.) Tiff really stepped up and got the whole house clean, along with Melody and Alicia. So all I need to do is throw some clothes in a bag. One thing I hate about packing is this feeling that I'm forgetting something. I always think to myself that I need to make a checklist, but then I never do. Well, I guess I need to get started... (Side note again: It looks like it's raining and 90 degrees right now in Indianapolis, *sigh*)


Monday, August 6, 2007

Picking up the loose ends

As I was looking up some links for my last post I realized that the Mexi-blog #10 is still sitting as an unfinished draft. Hopefully I'll be able to finish this on my trip to Indianapolis this week, because Tiffanney will be sitting right next to me for 9 and a half hours (it's not really, but with the time change and a two hour layover in Denver we leave Washington at 8:30pm and get to Indy at 6:00am. I contrast, we leave Indy at 8:30pm and get home at 11:30pm. The time change messes everything up) while we travel and eventually we'll run out of things to talk about. This blog was intended to sum up everything that happened in Mexico and give some testimonies of the incredible things that God did.

I'll try and post some thoughts on General Council, so if you're not lucky enough to be able to attend, check in here for the latest news. Also there are at least two other blogs leading up to General Council that I've enjoyed reading, Future AG and AG Leadership Change. Check out both of those sites for information leading up to the conference.

Lastly, Tiff and I are looking to sell our rental house up in Stanwood, and we've got a lot of work to do in order to get it ready for sale. I'll let you know how it turns out, it promises to be tons of work and tons of reward once it sells.


My view on the third world

One of my main ministry goals is empowering people. If I can do that, it eventually makes my job easier (read: I can take on other tasks, it doesn't actually free up any of my time). Sometimes I feel like it's just easier to do the job myself. Training people takes time, money and resources that I don't always have readily available. I'm trying to teach 3 people to play instruments right now. I know that if I can train up a bass player and a piano player that I won't have to do either, and yet making the time to get together with these guys has been impossible (on my end, not theirs).

So what's all this have to do with the third world? Well, my view of late has changed considerably (to read more about this, check out The mexi-blog pt 8: A story of God's love). Before Mexico I wanted to ship out all of the illegals, because they were criminals (because they had come here illegally). What I found down there is that the American ideals of being able to work hard and get ahead in life don't apply to the rest of the world. Just because you're willing and able to get a job doesn't mean that you will be payed enough to survive, or that you're guaranteed a job in the first place.

So what can be done about all of this? I love that churches are moving towards becoming more active in social issues. I think it's neat that some of the largest churches in the world are leading the charge towards eliminating poverty and disease. Many churches are supporting missions like they haven't in years. And yet the need seems to be so great.

Standing down there in Mexico the need became very specific. As I looked out over the houses I was overwhelmed by the pain, not for the entire area, but for the individuals in the area. How can I help and what can I do to make a difference, not for everyone, but for one person. An idea that's always been of great interest to me is microfinance. This seems to fit in with my love for (or at least understanding the need for) empowering people. The concept is a pretty simple one. A poor person has some sort of skill (say seamstress) but doing it by hand takes too long to make a profit. A company comes in and loans this lady $500 for her to buy a sowing machine, she starts to sell more and earns enough to repay her loan. If it doesn't work out the company is only out $500, but if it does then they've just changed the life of that entire family, possibly forever.

The problem people seem to run into is when the company is trying to make a profit exploiting people who are poor. Those who's businesses don't work out find themselves not only poor but also in debt, compounding the situation. This only works well when it's run through a non-profit company, because I personally would give to this without expecting money back. World Vision is one non-profit that is trying to aid in this effort. Here are a series of articles on microfinance, also put out by world vision. They state that 97% of their loans are payed back!

This story by the Stanford Social Innovation Review makes the point that while these loans might help those interested in starting a business, what of the 90% of the world that doesn't have the drive to make a small business successful? I guess that's why we need companies like Nike to outsource all their jobs, because to someone in Mexico making $5 per week, making $5 per day is like hitting the jackpot.

Proverbs 19:17
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done.
Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

I guess to sum everything up I'd have to say that it's too bad that those that want to work and make there lives better only end up being squashed whereas those who take advantage of things like Welfare get to sit around all day. If only we could export the lazy and bring in those with a drive to do better. Then America would be a lot better place to live.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

They should just burn it all...

Japan is in the middle of a peculiar problem. There have been reports all over the country of wads of cash showing up in random spots. Sometimes it's in mailboxes, other times it's falling from the sky. Each time the cash is accompanied by a note saying that the recipient should go do good deeds. This seems like a nice thing on the surface, but I think there's something sinister going on. Obviously the person or organization instigating this is trying to cause mass panic on the streets of Japan.

Really the plan is pretty simple. Give people money with the understanding they need to use it to help people, when they've never really done that before. Within a couple of days people are so guilt ridden that they can hardly get out of bed because they have no idea what to do with all of that cash. And the people who spend it on themselves are even worse off, because all they see is people in need, now that the money is gone. And what of the reports of money falling off of buildings and onto bridges? An obvious attempt to cause mass chaos when people come screaming for the money. Traffic grounds to a halt and the infrastructure of Japan collapses.

It's really quite an ingenious idea. It makes me wonder which terrorist organization is pulling it off. This is the perfect plan for terrorizing the Japanese people because they are so honorable and upright. They won't want to offend the giver or take something that's not theirs. That's why in the news article it says that people didn't want to touch the money because it was eerie. If they had sent it here to Oakville they would have caused a riot of people trying to get there hands on it, but then we would have gone out and bought ipods or plasma tv's for ourselves, it wouldn't have had nearly the paralyzing effect that this is having.

Car bombs and such are one thing, but this is a whole new twist on evil. Or maybe I'm just jealous.


Click here for the news article

Monday, July 30, 2007

Training Camp opens!!!

The Seahawks are back at it. Training Camp is officially underway and I am so pumped for the coming season. I even started openly asking my wife for Madden 2008 for my birthday (August 26th) and I watched a recap of the Patriots 2004 season, plus a little arena football yesterday. We (yes I refer to myself as part of the Seahawks - 12th man baby!!!) are looking very, VERY, VERY strong on paper. I've been watching news stories and reading articles on this years team, and it may be the best ever. Our defense seems to have been shored up, now if only the offense can stay healthy we may be looking at another Super Bowl run.

One of the things I love about football is all of the analogies you can draw from it. I'm sure we'll run through a bunch of them during the season. I just had a weird thought though. I'm big into fantasy football (you can view or join my league here) and my weird thought has to do with it. For some reason I was imagining Peter and Paul up in Heaven when the Earth League Fantasy Draft comes around. I'm not sure what stats they'd use to determine a person's value, but maybe there would be points earned for witnessing, time spent in prayer, overcoming temptations, things like that. I'm sure that the first draft pick would be some little old lady in Argentina who's been praying non-stop for 74 years. And then it would probably be the guy who gave up his great business to help orphans in Malaysia or something. I think the guys we consider to be spiritual giants probably would be second or third round draft picks, because they've got to be doing something right, otherwise God wouldn't have put them in the position they're in. I don't think that seeing a million people making one time decisions for Christ would be weighted as heavily as seeing one person saved and walking with them until they are strengthened in the Lord. What would you look for in someone on your spiritual fantasy team?


For more information on the Seahawks training camp, check out some of these links:
The Seahawks homepage
Seahawks blogs
The Seahawks Insider

Friday, July 27, 2007

How pure is your water?

What's in your bottled water? Is it pure, clean refreshing water bottled from an artesian spring? Or is it merely tap water that has been put into a fancy package and marked up? Pepsi is looking to clear up the confusion in their Aquafina line of bottled water by putting the words "Public Water Source" on all their bottles. Yep, that's right, it's tap water. For years now I've sworn to people that Aquafina was the very best type of bottled water, because of it's taste. But now I know it's merely average, just like the water I get at my house or maybe worse. I have a friend who works at the Pepsi bottling plant in Olympia. I've been to Olympia hundreds of times, and the water there always has a funny taste to it. Who knows what's in the water supply!

It reminds me of the Pharisees, because everyone thought they were so great, and yet Jesus called them out for being "full of greed and self-indulgence (Matt 23:25)". And that was Jesus being nice to them. In verse 26 He says this: "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

The word of God is compared several times to clean, pure water (Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 3:21) but like the Pharisees if your cup is dirty then it doesn't matter how clean the water is, the drink is coming out muddy.

Sure Aquafina is tap water, but I'll still end up buying it because it's convenient and it quenches my thirst. Plus the bottles are clean, which is something that God is still working in me.


For more on the Aquafina story, click here. Also here is an interesting video about the effects of bottled water on the environment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

God's Masterpiece

It takes a special eye to recognize art. I'm amazed by people who can look at a bunch of trash thrown together and talk about it's genious. No, I'm sorry, it's not genious it's junk, and the whole thing is starting to smell a little. Most of the time an artist has a statement to make. Take the old Norman Rockwell paintings, they are interesting snapshots of a time gone by. Now look at Picasso and tell me what he was trying to say (I don't see anything there, but then I'm the guy who never saw the hidden images no matter how hard I tried.)

There was a story on the news two nights ago about an artist with something to say. He painted a box to look like a candy cane and put a speaker in the top, and then looped phrases like "You are special" or "You are a born leader and people flock to you" or "you are way better than Joe, you should've got that promotion". Okay, so I made that last one up, but you get the idea. The "artist" designed this white and red rectangle to make the point that people are too full of themselves and was hoping that this would be a critique of our culture's narcissism (I agree with him, everyone's too busy looking at themselves to look at me). Instead, people love to walk by it as it spits out compliments, not unlike how we all like to get a fortune cookie after a meal at a Chinese Restaurant. Rather than waking people up to the fact that we're all full of ourselves, he's lulled them to sleep with the chanting rhythm of his words. You can view the rest of the story here.

In Ephesians 2:10 it says that we are God's masterpiece. YOU are His very finest creation. He wants you to be perfect. He painted you to show His glory and to accomplish "good works He planned out for us in advance". Verses 6-7 provide a little more insight into why you were developed. God says that He raised us up "so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of His favor and kindness towards us". Like any other artist, God has a statement to make with the art that is you, are you sending the right message?


Friday, July 6, 2007

The Mexi-blog pt.9- Why there was no part 7

I’m tired of safe Christianity. Why are we content to merely attend church every week? Where have we gotten this idea that going to church and paying our tithe is all there is to being like Jesus? Jesus was a radical! He challenged everything that people knew about God and all of their bizarre social customs. Jesus changed things. He made things happen. I want to be like Jesus. It’s interesting to me that Jesus only once or twice encourages His followers to pray. He just assumes that they will be doing that. He knows that if you want to live a full life like He has for you, then you’ve got to rely on God.

Going on a Missions trip allows us to experience the overcoming life. For two weeks you do nothing but rely on God. You pray, you study and you share about Jesus. Your talk is centered around God. Your thoughts are focused on Him. You absorb yourself completely in learning to hear His voice and trying to see His will accomplished. Everything is about God. And that’s part of what makes mission trips so great is that you can leave normal life behind and focus on reaching people for Jesus.

Missions Trips are like a little Christian incubator, where people can experience the Christian life in a mostly safe way that encourages growth and gives everything you need to survive. Not just survive, but thrive. We get so few opportunities to experience a Christ-following lifestyle like this. I can't think of any other times off the top of my head where we can be completely sold out to God and have a hundred other people urging us on. Think about it like this: When was the last time you saw a blind boy in the grocery store and walked over to him, believing that God would heal him? And yet there we stood on the front yard of the mission (I say yard to indicate location, not to imply that there was any grass present, which there wasn't) praying our hearts out and trusting in God to bring healing. We didn't see that boy healed that day, but I know that God began a work in his life.

What you just read will probably be the introduction to my sermon on Sunday. If you're in the area you should come check it out. If not I will post a link to the audio once we get it up on the internet (it usually takes about a week).

BTW: If you're wondering why there was no post #7, I started to write it and then my power died, but being the good little site that blogger is it saved the 8 words that I had already written. When I got up the next day, I saw that the next post was #8, so I started from there. I didn't realize until today that I had made that mistake.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Mexi-Blog pt. 8- A story of God's love.

I don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling right now, but I know that writing will help me process my thoughts, so if any of this sounds disjointed please understand that right now I am completely broken, and trying to make sense of everything that is going on. I keep seeing their faces in my head. Their big brown eyes staring up at me. The eyes of children who had nothing. When I close my eyes I can see myself walking up to their trailer for the first time, although trailer doesn’t give a very good picture of what I’m looking at. This thing I’m looking at used to be a camper that went on the back of a pickup truck maybe 25-30 years ago. I don’t know where it’s been, but I know where it is now, in the middle of a plot of land no bigger than my hotel room or the foyer of the church I attend. There are a couple of crates outside with a few chickens running around in and around them. And there is a boy there. About one year old, he’s walking around in their yard and his four and five year old sister’s are watching him. I walk towards him and he looks startled. I try to comfort him by saying hello and bending down to talk to him, but he just stares at me. When I hold my arms out to him he starts to whimper, so I back off. I hold his hand and lead him back toward the house, so he can see his mom and know that everything will be alright. But inside me I’m concerned, because I don’t know if it will be. As we’re walking I see a sheetrock screw on the ground, so I bend down to pick it up. This is when I see the house for the first time. The first thing I notice is the size. This trailer was intended to house a few people for a few days at a time, not an entire family. They have somehow cut out the part of the floor where it extends over the truck in order to put a full size mattress on the floor of their ”house.” A couple pieces of plywood have been fastened in place to make the remaining space.

As I write this I’m also printing pictures off for our VBS tomorrow. It brings a little relief to my mind by giving me something else to focus on for a second. However I hesitate to look too far down the page, because I know that their pictures will be there.

Their house was an area maybe the size of my bathroom, and yet housed 6 people. In addition to the small bed for the parents, there were a few blankets on the ground for the kids to sleep on. I see one pot on the wall, and a single burner from a camping cook stove was their only way to cook. There are a few potatoes and some rice in one corner, and a single light hung from overhead. In the middle of the floor was the mom, holding her new little girl.

The baby was so precious, just a tiny little thing, probably about 5 pounds. She had such small features. Every once in a while she would try and open her eyes and stir just a little bit. And her mom knelt, holding her inside this tiny little shack that they called a home. I wonder what she was thinking when she got pregnant again. Was she happy when she found out? They don’t have enough to sustain the two of them, much less any children, much less four. One of the members of our team would point out later that the whole situation made them feel hopeless, because their was so much need it was impossible to know where to start. Another would later comment that this family wasn’t living, they were just surviving. How could she feel anything but hopeless knowing that they were already stretched to the breaking point, and now they have another mouth to feed. What will they do and how will they manage to exist?

Yet I also wonder if there was a glimmer of joy. I wonder if once the cloud of worry passed she thought about holding her baby for the first time, and the child’s first words, first steps and everything that comes with a baby. When I started my computer up I saw a picture of my daughter, she was holding an easter basket and dancing around with the biggest smile on her face. I know that everyone in this world does the best they can with the resources they have available to them. I know that this family will dance and laugh, play games and wrestle. I know that there will be many celebrations and many tears. I know there will be good times and bad times. Together they will experience all that their life has to offer, and that gives me some comfort.

I want to just end this blog right there, on a good note, but I’m reminded of something the interpreters said to me and a testimony that I want to share. Our interpreters grew up where this lady lives. One of them told me that he was that little boy, that he ran around bare foot in the dirt. He had to haul buckets of water from some distance away and he had to boil water so he could take a warm shower. His dad ended up crossing into the US illegally in order to provide a better life for his family, and once there he was able to get a good enough start to be able to provide for his family. Puts a whole different spin on the immigration problem for me.

The testimony I wanted to share is not an end for this family, but it’s a beginning. During the day on Tuesday, June 19th. Tiffanney and I were sitting at home preparing to leave for Mexico when we heard a knock at the door. We walked over to see who it was and there was a lady standing there who we’ve maybe seen a couple of times. She told us that she had heard of our missions trip and wanted to donate some things for the trip. I remember talking to Tiffanney after she closed the door and wondering how we were going to distribute infant formula. You really have to be in the right place at the right time in order to find someone who has a need for it. The thing that keeps echoing in my head is that God loved this lady so much that she inspired someone to bring us formula so that the same day her baby was born she could have formula and give her baby the nutrition she so badly needs.

I’m amazed that God thinks that much of us to orchestrate this whole situation.