Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sweet reminders

Shawn and I have had family and friends here for the past couple of weeks and I have been soaking it in!  My sister and her three kids are here right now - they leave tomorrow and we have had a really fun time!  It has been good for the kids to spend some time with cousins that they see far too little and to just enjoy some of the blessings that we have and forget about.  We have been swimming at Rosina's and remembered that wonderful gift of friendship and her unselfish gift of opening her house up to us all the time!  We have been to the Pinebush Nature Center, and I was reminded that this is a beautiful place to live and explore (despite the snow that is going to far far too soon!)  We spent the morning at the Schenectady Church and I was reminded of what a wonderful new church family we have inherited in this place.  We have spent the last several days running in the sprinkler, sleeping all over the house in forts and tents, eating many chaotic meals in the dining room, and doing dishes and laundry together (because life continues on even when you are visiting!) and I have been so thankful again and again for this amazing house to have people stay in!  It is a good thing to have people that have been a part of your life for so long come in and see your life now through their eyes!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beautiful Things

"All this pain -I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth - Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around - Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You"
-Michael Gungor

I love this song.  It so expresses many of the ideas I have been thinking through recently.  Shawn and I have been going through some counseling as we look at going back down to Philly to meet with WHM again for missions stuff.  I thought it was another hoop to jump through - I mean how often can one talk about their past and the way it affects them today?  However, as I have wandered through my history in my mind and in talking with Barbara I have seen exactly how much God takes old, broken, dry ground and is making a beautiful thing out it.  He is healing me, freeing me from lies that I have believed my whole life, and allowing his love to pour in while hope is springing up from this old ground.  He is so amazing!
As I think about the things that we have walked through recently with Anthony's death, I also see this hope.  I am hearing testimony of Anthony's life and his walk with God from all over the world!  I am listening to people pray for his family to know the love and life that Anthony came to know in his last few months here on this earth.  Yes, there is pain and there have been questions - yet even in our limited ability to see it is obvious God is making beautiful things from even this. 
Out of chaos life IS being found.  Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

joy and pain

When we were losing my mom to cancer two summers ago I remember getting on facebook and thinking that life still went on for everyone else.  I wasn’t upset about it- it was just an observation that I had at the time.  I was taking her for chemo, and my good friend was going to the beach for vacation;  I was looking for something – anything- that she could eat and hold down, and another friend was eating chick-fil-a;  I was hanging out with my sisters at the hospital texting each other across the room so mom wouldn’t hear us (though she did yell at us to stop texting about her!) and another friend was washing their car.  This is life – people come into the world and leave it each day.  We have day after day of routine and life-as-usual, but even as we are doing that someone else is dealing with a crisis that changes their world forever. 
This does not just apply to tragedy.  I remember Shawn’s cousin saying to me on our wedding day, “Funny, this is such an important day in your life, but to the rest of us it is just another day!”  I thought it was a strange thing to say at the time, but have thought that several times since as I have gone to weddings!
Some days are filled with both of these things.  Yesterday was one of those days.  When I awoke I was excited to read the blogs of friends in Sudan and hear firsthand about the activities surrounding South Sudan’s birth day!  It was exciting to hear about the dancing celebrations from people who have spent their entire lives waiting for this day.  It was amazing to see signs giving God the glory and relying on a hope that comes from him!  It was history in the making kind of day – in a good way!

Then later in the day I got one of those phone calls that you never want to get.  A wonderful young man from our Compelled Church went missing (and presumably drowned) while kayaking with his girlfriend at camp.  At this time his body is still missing and shock is settled in to everyone.  He was a sophomore at college – a brand new Christian this year.  God had cleared the way for him to meet people who would lead him to Christ in what seemed like a random way, but as I look back I can see His loving hands in the whole thing.  Anthony was a different person yesterday than he was a year ago.  He loved God in a real and pure way, and he had overcome (and was overcoming) many obstacles in his life and in his spiritual journey.  To watch him was at times frustrating and at times amazing.  He was a young man who had become full of hope and dreams for a future – one that included serving Jesus somehow. 

And I wonder…why?  Why, Lord?  I know he is with you now.  But why so short?  Why now?  Why when he was on the cusp of learning to live for you?  We were so excited when he decided to work at a Christian camp this summer and had been praying for amazing things in his life.  I know that You are God and your plan is good – but I don’t understand this one at all. 
Then his girlfriend wrote the words of a song (Anthony LOVED music) and I wept as I remembered:  “All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing- I have a reason to worship.”  I trust you.  You will be glorified in all of this somehow, Lord.  And Anthony is certainly singing and playing guitar with you now in ways that I would never want to take back from him.
Meanwhile life goes on…we will eat dinner, play the piano, weed the garden, go  on vacation... and life will never be quite as we knew it before.  
 How I can’t wait for heaven!!!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Birth of a new nation!

Pull out the noise makers and the party have an excuse for birthday cake and ice cream!  On Saturday, July 9th South Sudan becomes the 196th nation of our world!  Instead of repeating all the info that has already been said much better than I can say it, please read some of the blogs highlighted on the side bar of my blog - they will give you much information and an introduction to some really amazing people!

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...