Sunday, March 26, 2006


March 20-26
Pictures: Random from the last couple of weeks. I included the ferris wheel because I thought it was really good.

This was a week of relational difficulties. I was confronted about sin and/or upsetting four different people who are close to me. That is not bad, and in reality I highly value having people in my life who are willing to approach me and take the risk of showing me my blind spots. However, it is not something I enjoy while I am going through it. One instance in particular was overwhelming in that there is no "tidy" end in sight. We disagree about issues that are very close to our hearts. I have not been able to explain myself in a way that he can really see the issues from my perspective. I do not have a problem with the disagreement but rather with the fact that I do not feel like I am being understood. I was sharing this with the team last night and asking them to pray that I would learn what God wants me to in this.

I was aware how much this was consuming me. I was waking up thinking about it and going to bed thinking about it; and all day as my mind had a free moment it was going back to this relationship and what I should say in the e-mail and why I am right and on and on... Jesus reminded that this was the case with Him most of the time. Rarely, if ever, was He understood.

It is so interesting to me the attitude He takes when He does this (reminds me of something like this). It is not the way I would be, which is to say, "Get over it, I went through much worse than this." Rather He comes along side and says, "I know how this feels, I can carry you through it, and give you peace in the midst of it." Oh, what a nice sound that is.

However, my response is one of, "How can you do that, for I certainly don't feel it." But then I found myself quickly changing to say, "Jesus, do this work in me, and don't let this end until I have made some progress in it."

And so that is where I am as I write this today. I am not there yet, but I am next to Jesus, and I am expecting Him to work, to change me. We were reminded in our discussion of Waking the Dead this week of 2 Corinthians 3:18
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

I move into the next week with this truth uplifting my heart. Posted by Picasa


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Sunday, March 19, 2006


Fantastic Foursome Posted by Picasa


A boy's imagination... Posted by Picasa


Bucky Posted by Picasa


His favorite candy comes with tatoos Posted by Picasa


The princess Posted by Picasa


Big snow in February! Posted by Picasa


First lost tooth! Posted by Picasa


March 13-19
St. Patrick's Day, 3rd Sunday of Lent, Hayden lost his 1st tooth, my back ached worse than it has since arriving here three years ago.
Pictures: I have just thrown a bunch of random pictures up this week- Hudson and Hayden's lost teeth, our cats taking a funny snooze, Colton is prime form, Hayden's tatoos, and so on...

This was a full week in which Jesus was present in so many ways. The biggest event was our day in court (Tuesday). We entered around 10:30 and finished a little after 4 (with a 3 hour lunch break). The lawyers made their cases, and we won. In the end I still have no idea what was really going on. Now we are praying that they will not appeal.

But the most significant part of the week in terms of my walk with Jesus concerned a 12-year-old boy named Elijah. He is a beggar. He has dropped out of school in order to beg for money to buy food for his mom and brother. His mom works as a cleaning lady at a local college and makes about $12 per month of which $10 goes to pay off a debt. I met his mom and brother this week and saw their home. His mom broke her wrist, and it was not set properly and now the doctors tell her it will never work again.

Elijah generally has a very wonderful smile. He is very responsible and honest, acting much older than his age, which unfortunately, he has to. They never eat meat, usually skip lunch, otherwise eat whatever they can get depending on how much Elijah gets through begging. They do have a house and a yard, complements of the former Soviet system, but homelessness is relatively non-existent except in the biggest cities. Most people are able to use their yard to grow some basic foods but Elijah's mom is not capable of doing any yard work with her broken wrist.

I prayed for them. I have a few ideas that may help, but mainly I was overwhelmed. The lack of a future, the lack of a present, the constant hunger, the fact that they are only three of millions here... The only thing that changed this week was that I saw them firsthand. I have hope that Jesus has brought all of this about for a reason. I am eager to see what He will do. It is amazing what happens when numbers become faces and names...
On another note:

* I was reading in 1 Samuel this week and was struck by the fact that even in Israel's disobedience God still made Himself known to the Philistines as the most powerful God. They took the Ark and put it in the temple of their god, Dagon. The next day Dagon is lying facedown in front of the Ark. They set him back up, but the next day he is there again except this time his hands and head have been chopped off. Also, all the people are getting sick. Amazingly, instead of dropping their god and worshipping the true God they send the Ark back to Israel. So even though the Philistines defeated the Israelites (a sign of whose god was stronger), Jehovah made it clear that, in this case, the stronger God allowed His people to lose to teach them a lesson. How often do people today still drive God away when He reveals Himself to them?
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Sunday, March 12, 2006


Keaton at the park. See description below. Posted by Picasa


March 6-12
Picture: There is a little amusement park in our town that is evidence of how little it takes to make kids happy. It has about 9 rides, three of which are different kinds of swings that go in a circle, a ferris wheel, bumper cars (2 cars), and a couple of other random coasters. Each ride costs about 10 cents. Our kids love going to this place. I took Keaton last week while the older kids has gymnastics practice.

The Week: Court and Relational pain
What has been the biggest issue in my mind the last few weeks, namely the court case, took second place this past week. The hearing is set for this coming Tuesday at 10 am. Only the Lord knows what will happen.

But I received a letter from an old friend this past week that took center stage in my mind. He used to be a very close friend, but we have not lived in the same place (and have only seen each other once) in over 10 years. He has been a generous supporter since we began this life in 1997. He wrote this week to say that he was ready to stop supporting us due to the fact that he disagreed with some decisions we had made. The details are not important here, but it brought to the forefront one of the difficulties in the life we have chosen to live. We are overseas for years at a time and when home, only get to see even our closest friends for very short periods. We have changed drastically in the nine years since we originally left the states. Of course most of our friends in the states have changed as well.

Relationships are the most important thing in our lives, and we can't stay connected to all the people we love. This is probably true for most people, but I think those in our lifestyle experience it more often.

The ending of the support is not a big deal relatively. We will miss it, but the Lord has always taken care of us, and we know He will continue. I don't mean that I don't (and haven't) appreciated their support; I have. It has been a huge blessing. What I mean is that in comparison to the relationship we have (had) the money is nothing. The point is that the hardest thing is the realization that someone who used to be a close friend is now very distant and does not trust us. Apparently this has been true for a while, but I am only just now aware of it.

As I walk with Jesus through this He reminds me that he experienced this kind of thing as well. At the same time I am not really able to see Jesus in it yet. I know He is with me, and I know He is in this; I just have not been able to get past all the voices in my head- defending, accusing, justifying, condemning,...- and to stop and hear the One voice that speaks Peace in the storm. In a sense I am still in the boat yelling for Jesus to wake up because we are going to drown (Mark 4:35-41). So in this I am sharing a story that is still happening. The closure has not come. What does the future hold? I pray for reconciliation- it may take a long time... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Feb 26 - Mar 5
As the picture of Colton shows, the biggest event of the week was Colton getting an EEG. Fortunately all was normal and so that is not the main thing I wanted to focus on this week. Instead I wanted to share what has been on the forefront of my mind for a while now: learning to live with a high level of uncertainty in the future.
Now in reality life is always both very uncertain and very certain. By this I mean that we really have no idea what is going to happen in the next minute. Just ask anyone who was on the beach when the tsunami hit or an earthquake struck or even when they fell in love. These things are not expected and are out of our control. At the same time God is certain. He is good and loving and unchanging and on and on, and I can bank on these things. No matter what happens He is certain. Oswald Chambers articulates this concept and the godly response much better than I in My Utmost for His Highest,
"Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon UNCERTAINTY as a bad thing... CERTAINTY is the mark of the common-sense life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation."
So this all brings me to what I have been feeling of late. Due to the fact that our visas expire this month and our NGO is being taken to court with the goal of shutting us down, I have been living in a sea of uncertainty for a few months now. How many times have I said something to the effect of, "we have to wait to do that until we get our visas"? In the same conversation we talk about renovations we may do on the house next year, and what we will take with us if we are forced to leave next month. I have found that I have grown accustomed to the feeling over time although numb is probably a closer description. I am somewhere in between deep faith that Jesus will be with us and take care of regardless of what happens (due mostly to seeing Him do it in the past), and a faithless laziness that just does not want to deal with all that is going on inside of me.
In many ways, however, I like living this way because it keeps me on the edge. There is the danger of it becoming like that low constant hum of the fridge that we stop recognizing after a while, but that has not happened yet as is evident by the fact that I am writing about it now. I am forced regularly to go to God and seek His guidance for how to spend the time I have here; every decision is made with the thought that we may not be here in a month; I have to wrestle with what faith means in this situation; I have to wrestle with the temptation to stop learning language or putting time into any long-term activity as it will feel wasted if we leave soon. These are all good things. I am learning to appreciate what Chambers says and to even do it sometimes. But I still have a long way to go. I pray the Lord keeps me in a situation in which I feel it so intensely until I have learned it is true even when everything "seems" more stable.
On another note, one thing I would like to include here is books I am reading with comments. This will force me to do this discipline whereas I don't seem to do it otherwise.
Wild at Heart- John Eldridge- God has put three pursuits in men's hearts- a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to win. Man is made to be wild and dangerous. Satan corrupts this and we see abuse and violence and so on. The world tries to squelch it and we see emasculated men. Most, if not all, men have been wounded and most of them by their dads. They were told they did not have what it takes until they believed it.
I agree with a lot of what he says in the book and it speaks to something deep within me. I think most people need to read the book if only for the chapter on the "beauty to win". I think he nails what women want and who they are and how they have been wounded right on the head.
Waking the Dead- John Eldridge- Reading this one for the second time as we study it together as a team. Very similar message to Wild at Heart, but this is to a more general audience. The heart is central to life and most of us have had our heart taken out and so we walk around like dead people. Jesus promised to give us life abundantly. What happened? He uses mythic tales which have three eternal truths- life is more that what we see, their is a battle for our souls taking place, each of us plays a crucial role. He uses four streams to explain how we get the life Jesus promised- Walking with God, Receiving God's intimate counsel, Deep restoration, & Spiritual warfare: the battle for our hearts- and all of these come together as we live in community.
I recommend this book as well. Very significant impact on my life.
Boyhood and Beyond- Bob Schultz- Reading this one slowly. Using it as I talk about becoming a man with my boys. It is not really that great, but has some good solid ideas. I prefer Raising a Modern-Day Knight as a tool for raising boys to become men.
First, Break All the Rules- Coffman? & ?- It is at the office, and I can't remember the authors names. I have not read much management type books so this one may be par for the course, but I am finding it wonderful. In terms of leading my team and running our office it is very helpful. Interviewed over 100,000 employees and 80,000 managers over 25 years and analyzed the data and determined what is key to successful businesses, namely great managers. It is very practical. I don't have time to write everything about it. 12 key questions to ask, focus on outcomes, four things great managers do, and on and on. I tried to do something with our team in terms of goal setting and it did not go well. I was not sure why and was blaming the team members in my mind. I read the chapter that covers the idea of goals setting and saw that I made a common mistake. They predicted exactly what happened in our situation. I saw that I had gone about the wrong way and have since been revising the way I do this with the team.
Jesus, The One and Only- Beth Moore- I started reading this one because we had it here, and I was looking for books on Jesus. I am only reading it now because I hate to not finish a book. It is not bad, but it is definitely written for women. I don't know if all of Beth Moore's books are written to/for women, but this one is. In reading it I feel like I am interrupting a women's time and don't need to be there.
The Treasure Principle- Randy Alcorn- Just started this one. He carries out the idea that it is better to give than to receive. The most joyful person is the one who gives the most. I need to hear this. I am trying to put it into ptractice. We'll see what happens.  Posted by Picasa

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