Thursday, July 30, 2009

Joy Complete

On our way to the mountains last Friday we listened to a woman talk about losing her husband in a diving accident.  Her pain was still so fresh and the subsequent story of her prayers in her hotel room so clear in this truth: trust in Christ brings the deepest, sweetest peace even in the midst of terrible tragedy. 

It consumed our thoughts even as we checked out the new, A-MAZE-ING Chick-fil-a of Clemson.  That night the story and message found it’s way into our fireside chat with Steven Groves (a former/returning RA).   And Sunday, after the story had left my mind, it came back because of a song.

Six months ago I did some deep, earnest praying myself.  I was tormented by a lack of purpose that had haunted me for months.  So I set in my mind one night to pray until I heard something.  Anything.  When praying and crying for hours yielded nothing, I went to bed in a bigger mess than I’d started.  Then, right before sleep, I heard these words whispered deep inside of me:  “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”  In disbelief I questioned whether it had been God’s voice or my own mind trying to comfort itself. 

Ten hours later sitting in church I plopped my Bible open in the middle of worship.  If it was God, I would find exactly where he referred to himself as he had the night before.  I found it:

6He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  Revelation 21:6-7 (NIV)

And just as I was reading those words, the song rang out all around me:  “All who are thirsty, all who are weak…” and, mildly put, I experienced the deepest, sweetest peace from Jesus that morning.

So this past Sunday my mind linked the recent story of tragic loss, that song and my own story into one, and I felt to share it with you.  Maybe in hopes of encouraging you or sharing my most recent joy or pointing you to who has answers.  Whatever the reason, I hope you are encouraged today, wherever the day may take you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Circus

After a five month lull of reporting, this is an epic comeback.  The experiences chronicled here are not for weak stomachs.

Monday was fine:  library as normal and circus books (since that’s the IT theme this week) complete with Dr. Seuss’s awesome If I ran the Circus.  Tuesday- great, Wednesday- off, Thursday- oh my.  Didn’t 100_8960 see it coming.  The little guy loves Mom.  Somewhere deep inside his DNA fireworks went off then the clock struck two and consequently departure for Mom has gotten tougher.  Thursday she hugged and kissed and left, and Little Guy cried:  crocodile, poochie-lip, no-end-in-sight kind of tears.  Such a massive torrent of tears that choking and gagging ensued and then (gulp) vomiting.  And to spare Little Guy any embarrassment, I’ll simply say it was everywhere and was unmistakably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in working with kids.  So glad to report he made a complete recovery when Mom pulled back in to comfort and help wipe up the Nile of tears and chocolate milk (use your imagination).   DSC00088      

  To improve the ratings for the week, Friday the circus came to town (or garage as was the case).   Egg balancing, disappearing children tricks (email if you need instructions), spoon races, tiger tamer, and high wire acts were all part of the show.  And no tears today DSC00096except those shed over not wanting the circus to end!  Not too bad a comeback from the sadness of Thursday I think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nothing changed. Everything changed.

Humbled. Unworthy. Honored. Empowered.  Walking with Jesus often materializes to a series of decisions, lines drawn in the sand.  Some are so small you don’t even think of them as decisions at all; others are huge, bigger than you can imagine.  Jason

Monday night a significant line was drawn for me.  As men & women who’ve had hands laid on them laid hands on me, I felt the heritage of generations who have faithfully walked with God and gone on to be with him, the power and incredible beauty of the calling, and somehow I crossed a line. 

Today I am the same man I was the day before yesterday, but my ordination yesterday was an affirmation and renewal of the beautiful new life God has given me and my commitment to follow and humbly serve him as he continues the good work.  The level of accountability is higher.  The freshness of the mission is clear.  The mystery of God desiring me to be a part of his story is overwhelming.

Praise be to him who loved me long before I ever thought of him.  

---------------------------------------------

I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Journey South

So in spite of MapQuest's estimate of 12 hours, it took us 18 to get from Upstate New York to the Outer Banks.  But to give ourselves some 0627091445credit, we learned to never, ever take back roads if you have any time frame for arrival at all; and three hours of the trip were spent on back roads hunting down the elusive Amish.  Not really elusive, just hard find on the east side of Lancaster amongst all the ridiculous tourist trap stuff.  (I guess by driving hours out of the way to see them includes us in those I just bashed.)  Contrary to our naivety, the Amish do not live by major intersections or 7elevens and there is NOTDSC00030 a sign  that says, “Welcome to Amish country” with fields being plowed by  literal horse-power behind the sign.  We finally found some real Amish; they’re in the beautiful, rolling hills outside and in between all the built up hoop-la of the towns. 

Some observations/questions from Pennsylvania Dutch country:

1. The air has a very distinct and invasive smell of cow dung.  2. It seemed almost a mockery how modernized and dollar-driven it has become when the driving “site” to be seen is the simple and separatist lifestyle of the Amish.  They must feel so invaded.  3. Who pays over $1000 for a quilt???  4. Their homemade bread is wonderful…but expensive.  5. We saw no “work DSC00026smarter, not harder” bumper stickers.  6. Can anyone really visit Intercourse, PA without a snicker and picture by the sign?  7. Do horse and buggy’s have insurance?  8. We’ve never seen so many mules and so few horses and donkeys (for those slower ones of you…mules are the offspring of a donkey and a horse).  9. Wi-Fi in Amish country just doesn’t seem right.  9b. Do Amish teens secretly have facebook accounts?  10. Is all that corn (and I mean ALOOOOTT of corn) really planted by hand?

Enough of that.  We then took HWY 13 through Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia…finally to arrive at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge where we had to pay the $12 toll!!  By this time it was so dark we couldn’t even enjoy it.  We were impressed though by the construction:  probably 10 miles of bridge and tunnel. 

Just before midnight we welcomed the site of Nags Head, NC where we pulled in and crashed…18 hours later. 

Southern Take on a Northern State

 IMG_5433 The deep south has always been home and like camp folklore we grew up on stories of the dreaded north complete with stereotypes of disgruntled northerners.  Somehow we thought New Yorkers would definitely fit the mold.  But to our surprise, whether to be attributed to the beautiful St. Lawrence River many live on or the amazing 70 degree weather, we found these New Yorkers cheerfully hospitable.  So gracious, in fact, they’d put many a southerner to shame!  0627091856

And who said we eat so wonderfully terrible in the south with our homecookin’?  New Yorkers aren’t so different.  Anyone ever heard of poutine (french fries covered in cheese and brown gravy) or Jdrecks subs (half a cup of mayo per sub) or the ice cream shops located every two miles?!  Northerners have their own secret indulgences we see.  And we so enjoyed them too! 

Thank you McGrath family for totally taking us in like your own and giving northerners a very good name!