I've been in Oregon for a year...

I almost can't believe it. In some ways it seems so much longer - in some ways it seems like yesterday. The journey this year has been a good one. Honestly, not always easy but good. There are definitely a few things Steve and I didn't figure in to the equation of what life would be like here...but in the midst of circumstances, we still believe this is where God has called us to be. This is still His time, His place, His desire for us. And so...a year has passed.

It was kind of surreal to watch this day flip over on the calendar. Remembering saying bye to Steve (who was staying in Atlanta to wait for the house to sell), saying goodbye to family and friends, saying goodbye to a dream house, saying goodbye to really almost all I had ever known...and entering a new world, on literally the opposite corner of the country. But all along trusting in the God who is constant, amazing, gracious, giving, and good.

Do I miss Atlanta? Sure - I miss the people the most. I'm so grateful for unlimited long distance, facebook, email, text messaging...you know - those modern technological inventions. And honestly, I miss the stuff that is comfort of living in the big city - lots of shopping options, lots of drive thru options, lots of food delivery options - truly not really important in the scheme of things, but man, it was nice. Noah still asks a couple of times a week to go to Chick-fil-A - then he smiles and says, I know, when we go back to see Georgia.

It's definitely been a year of stretching in more ways than one. Not always comfortable to do. But..."it is what it is"...that's a phrase that has started to stick with me and a couple of our middle school leaders here. Part of me is starting to wonder what it will be like next year when we pass this date...what will happen this year? My bet...more stretching. More trusting. More amazement. Thanks for sharing it with us...


It never fails...

It never fails when I get an opportunity to share during our middle school ministry (I guess I could say "teach" instead of share...but that's so, I don't know...). Anyway - this month at Crash we are talking about purity. Not the easiest of topics to talk about with middle school students. I think there is such a tendency in our society today to just hang it up and not even try to convince anyone (not just students) to live a life of purity. That it's not just about getting to the "aisle" and then whatever...this is a choice of a lifetime. It doesn't change once you have a ring on your finger. Every choice you make can affect your thought life, and then therefore your life. God protect my eyes, ears, speech...May all I do be honoring to you.

In the midst of preparing for the talk last night, I just kept thinking about my own experiences, and all the different people I know who have been a part of my life journey so far. I think about those who challenged me because their view on life was different - and their standards different too. I think about those who encouraged me and their view on life was the same. About those who I have a lot in common with. About those who at one time I had much in common with, and now...well, not so much. And those I get to joyfully journey together with now. And then I think how God continues to paint this extraordinary picture and my life is the canvas. I'm a part of the artistry (which still amazes me), but not because it's about me. It's about Him. There's so much more to this life I can't see or understand. And I don't know that I'm supposed to. But I am supposed to follow. I am supposed to seek Him. I am supposed to serve Him joyfully.

A new blog too...

OK...I think I'm gonna do it... I think I'm going to start a blog for Crash. You know about Crash right? It's the place to be on Wednesday nights in Salem, Oregon...a place where middle school students from all over the area come together to play, sing, dance, goof...and then...actually (for the most part) think about God and how He truly should be involved in every single aspect of our lives. We've talked about so many things this year so far. Belonging, insults, thankfulness, forgiveness, family...currently we're talking about purity. That's where the idea of this new Crash blog came to be. Wanting to continue the talks that we start while we are at Crash...wanting to give students another place to work out their faith - raise questions - encourage one another. So...you'll see a link some time this week for a new place to check out... I'd welcome your comments about it any time... So...students...watch out...can't wait to seek Him more together...


Totally humbled...

...that was today. I'm amazed that we are in Oregon. It's been nearly a year since we moved from Georgia. In some ways it seems like yesterday, it some ways it feels like we belong. Today we attended the "Leadership Forum" at church - basically a huge family gathering for all of those who serve as leaders in all the different ministries at the church. Literally - the entire main floor of the worship center was full. I am not good with numbers, and that doesn't really matter. But what mattered to me was the faces - actually it was the hands.

As I mentioned I was humbled. As one of the "new" members of the staff this year, I was one who got to serve communion towards the end of our time together. I held the glass with the "juice" representing the blood of Christ poured out for us on the cross. Now if I'm totally honest there is part of me saying should I look them in the eye, look at the ground - do I smile or nod? do I move the glass up and down based on people's height? But after just a few people came by I just started looking at faces - and seeing the heritage of our church pass before my very eyes - many who are retirement age, some who are younger (but not nearly as many). Looking at feet oddly enough and thinking the number of times they've walked into their respective ministry areas and faithfully walked with Him there...and about how lovely on the mountain are the feet of them who bring good news... And looking at the hands who serve Him so faithfully. And then remembering, again and again as each piece of bread is dipped, how He knows each name, each heart, each purpose, each unique design, each work, each prayer, each struggle, each joy, each head of hair, each heartbeat. He is such an amazing God.

Then I was struck by the words of one who said that the work that is being done by him and others right now is the foundation for the work He is going to be doing in and through the younger leaders coming along. How they are preparing a new building for "us"...to be about the Father's business unhindered by any number of different circumstances. It was humbling. For such a time as this. For such a time as is to come. For the One and Only God worthy of our praise, adoration and service.

Lord - I am totally surrendered to you and what you have for me here. Lots of it excites me. Some of it scares me silly - which only confirms that it has to be of You, because the only way I would ever do it is because I trust You. Please continue to protect my heart, my time, my life, my family - that I am who you created and designed me to be first and foremost...and that the role you've called me to will completely be an overflow of Your work in me.


What's up with me?

OK...here we go...another somewhat negative blog. Why am I doing this again? Before it was just these random things that were bugging me...now it's just me having a frustrating day. Nope, it wasn't people, it wasn't work or family or the van, it wasn't the rain or Puxsatawney Phil, it wasn't cheating sports teams or missing family and friends, or being in any arguments...

I was just ditzy... Yesterday I was trying to do the right thing and do some laundry and proceeded to wash Steve's cell phone, ruining it...so water-logged. I tried to use the hair dryer...no luck. This sucker is deader than dead. So, while at work today, I asked around and a couple of people may have "old" phones from cingular so we could get him a replacement until he's due for an upgrade...

Then...I get home this afternoon, take a few things out of the back of the van, while I am talking to my mom on my phone, and while closing the back of the van, the phone slips from my hand and crashes on the garage floor. I pick up the back and the battery, put it back together, it turns on and I see a shattered screen (not the glass, but the interior screen/picture). It was like flushing money down the toilet! Ugh!! I busted two cell phones in less than 24 hours. UGH!!

Steve told me all afternoon that I wasn't being me. I just feel stupid. (sorry kids, I know I don't let you say that word). I think I'm a fairly responsible person - I take care of my stuff - why do I get bugged when I do stuff like this? Why is this bugging me so much? Is it because I'm too addicted to having a phone? Being available? I don't think so...I just don't like doing things that seem careless. I know...accidents happen...and the phone is just "stuff" - but man, it really stinks. Especially since we're not close to an upgrade on either one...thus asking friends if they have a leftover cingular/att phone we can borrow for a while.

So...if you call and I don't answer, please don't be upset if I don't call you back. I can receive calls, but if I miss it, I have no way to see that I have a message waiting...and there's no way for me to text. And...I can't make a call, unless I have the phone number memorized (whereas I don't have most numbers memorized, that's the benefit of that thing called an address book).

Oh... kind of a big part of why this is so frustrating ... I got this phone late last summer. I decided to cross-over into palm world last July - and long story short got scammed by a guy on craigslist who sold me a bum phone...and then a combination of a nice person at at&t and an upgrade, etc. got me a new treo. Longer story short, I've had tons of problems with this phone (that when it works right, I really like)...so last week I received from the warranty department my 3rd replacement handset (I'd also received new batteries, new extended life batteries, etc.). And then...my one-week old "new" phone drops on the floor of my garage...sigh...

OK...I just got back to my computer after taking care of Noah. It's a little after midnight, I'm sulking about a silly piece of metal, and my little boy comes in with aching feet and they really really hurt. You know those growing pain cramps you get - I used to get them in my calf - he gets them in his feet. I just got back, and start to read about how shallow I am and how truly unimportant this broken phone is...and how much more important it is to care about the people in my world, or those who suffered in those tornadoes last night, or those who are out sleeping in the rain...I can be so selfish. I almost deleted this whole thing, to just avoid it all together --- but no. It's a process I guess. A continual reminder that I am a work in progress.


I'm not bitter...but I must confess...

OK...there's just a few things driving me a little batty:

1) I'm ready to hunt down Punxsutawney Phil in PA - how dare he say 6 more weeks of winter!?? Many will tell you I was doing great with this delightful extended liquid sunshine that we've received this winter. I was hopeful, fine, ok, enduring, happy-go-lucky...Then...someone had to go and mention that we had 6 inches above normal of rain in the month of December. Then I started to hear the seasoned locals talking about how much more rain there had been this year, and my attitude began to dwindle. I'll take the snow over the rain (sorry Linda). I can be cold and in the snow, but cold and rainy... Now, I'll admit the last week has been pretty good - great sunshine - great view of Mount Hood and Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams - and SNOW! WOO!HOO!! So...sorry Phil, I'm listening to General Lee from good ol' Lilburn, Georgia who says forget the 6 weeks...spring is on the way! Here comes the sun! Actually, I'm really looking forward to the flowers coming into bloom - can't wait for the Tulip Festival and the Iris Festival - when you drive around the corner and see all the fields with the flowers, it's so beautiful! I can't wait!!!

2) My feet are in need of flip-flops. Never in my life have I worn through a pair of socks and I did yesterday. Toes sticking through the socks because I'd worn them out. Did I mention wore them out. Now...this girl from Georgia is not used to wearing socks, not to mention shoes. I am not a shoe girl. Amy would be in shock at the number of pairs of shoes I have. Granted, Steve works for Nike and that's definitely increased our shoe apparrel, but I am not a shoe girl. I pick one pair of flip flops and one pair of sandals and wear them for about 3 years. I had one pair of sneaks that lasted me about 8 years. 8 years - I bought them right after the Condello's moved to Atlanta, and purchased new ones right before I moved to Oregon. My feet are ready to rebel. I know - a real "Oregonian" would be wearing Birkenstocks or some other "green" shoe already and not worried about it...I'm not quite there. Because believe it or not I also have ice feet when I'm home. So this is where I'm going to contradict myself. I love my fuzzy warm socks. The ones you wear around the house when its cold, but even those I just wear for a little while before taking them off...But for me, to wear through a pair of socks...times they are a changin'.

3) Why do people leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store!!??? UGH!!! Just put your cart away. It wasn't even really raining tonight - just barely a sprinkle..and there's a cart leaning up against my van...UGH!!!

Man, I sound like such a whiner. I'm not...just a few things I wanted to vent about...I'll hold in the angst until the Super Bowl tomorrow...and I'll just whine about the Pepsi ads.

I love to LAUGH!

OK...so tonight our friends the Williams' came over. It was a long week and the thought of just being with friends sounded good...so...we're so glad they said yes to coming over for dinner. The kids all had a blast playing in Noah's new "fort" (the deal of the day @ Target getting a 5' x 5' Spiderman pop-up tent/fort for 75% off! - this thing is huge!). OK...way off topic.

Here's what I loved about tonight. We laughed! I don't mean a ha! that was funny. I mean laughed hysterically - laughed til we cried we were laughing so hard! And when Steve really gets to laughing it's so hysterical you can't help but to be in hysterics with him! We were laughing so hard for so long that the kids came in wanting to know what we were laughing at! Honestly, I had no clue. I had to ask Steve if there was something funny. And it was just that we were all in contagious laughter together! It was so much fun!


I love what I get to do...

I love being a wife and mom! I love getting to spoil them - and love them - and have them as part of my life! They are the best! They make me laugh! They stretch me! They spoil me with their laughter and their hugs and their mere existence. And if they weren't enough (which they could be...)...God for some reason gives us a HUGE family with our church family too...

Wednesday night is CRASH!!! It's our mid-week middle school night at church where we talk about the practical things of every day life, and God's view on it...trusting that in the process that these students will see just how madly in love with them God is - how He has a plan for them - how He knows them in and out, good and bad - and loves them, loves them, loves them...and so do we! There is an amazing team of about 25 people who make these nights possible. Leaders from all walks of life and across the age spectrum who are called to this ministry of loving middle schoolers and being God with skin on.

So...in January we talked about the topic of family. Honestly - I loved every minute of it. In so many groups around the youth center students had a chance to honestly talk about their lives - we heard so many stories of students with great relationships with their parents, and students who longed for better relationships with their parents, and so much more. But this week was even more special. Josh shared about how we can all be part of God's family - adopted - chosen - loved - accepted. How regardless of what we each do, He still loves us. How we are His. And while there are still many discussions to be held, and how we can see God at work in the lives of many of our students - 3 of them accepted Jesus that night!

The even more amazing part of it is when they say Thank You for praying with me! Thanks for walking me over to the worship center to pound a white ribbon on the cross! Thanks for helping me commit and surrender to Jesus! And I on the other hand am thanking them - for allowing me to have a front row seat in seeing God eternally transform them... I'm overwhelmed by the joy - and humbled by the experience. These are great great students...and I serve a great great God - who loves me - adopted me - adores me - loves me - accepts me. Whoa!

©2009 Until... | by TNB