Thursday, December 28, 2006

All have left now except for Brad, and my family. Headed back to their lives, their work, their homes. We too, will be on the road early tomorrow morning, as we head back to Tulsa.

It is always difficult to separate. When we have time together, it always seems we do not take full advantage of it. Once apart, the longing for what was returns.

One of the things that "was" this time was a hike. The thing about hiking here at the camp, is that there is enough undergrowth, that sometimes it is not easy to negotiate the path. Body gymnastics don't come as easily as they used to. Bending down is one of those things that isn't as much fun any more. It involves pain as muscles that aren't used to getting exercised are stretched to capacity.

Last night, after we packed Lynae's van for an early morning departure, Rich (her husband) discovered he was missing a key element...his phone. He had planned on using it as an alarm clock...only it was missing.

We verbally retraced his steps through the day. Family keyed in to the times they saw it clipped to his belt. After verbally walking back through the day, we figured out that he probably lost it while negotiating the trail. Great! 100 acres of land, and where might we find it?

It was already midnight, the kids were in bed and the final packing was done. Now we needed to plan a 'search and rescue' mission. We grabbed flashlights, put on layers of warm gear, and headed out to the muddy trail.

Three dim beams foraging through the dark shoals of night, seeking a "black" object that was not likely to reflect any of the light, was not a promising proposition.

We decided where the toughest part of the trail had been and headed down the route, backwards. We would likely reach the area of undulation more quickly this way.

We crossed two bridges and directed the beams into the murky water below. We could see nothing. The leaf litter was continuous on the path, and made it most difficult to see anything clearly.

We rounded bend after bend, silently praying as we searched.

Then, we came over a small rise, turned left, shone the beam down the trail ahead, and there it was. It had dislodged from his belt in rather an open and easily traversed section of trail. A bit odd, that this is where it would be found. We expected to find it under a low thicket.

We rejoiced at our find! It was nearly 12:30 am, and with flashlight beams waning, it was finished.

The journey for so many of our "lost" family and friends is very much like this. They traverse some of the darkest areas of life, reach a bit of a clearing, have time to think things over, and even the dimmest of beams seems to bring glorious Light!

If we are faithful, we have been busy praying, organizing midnight vigils, fasting, seeking the Lord on their behalf. We offer up routine silent prayers...often without real expectation of them being answered. We do so because we are in pain over their plight, and it seems to help.

We should never be surprised that our Lord delivers them through the darkest of circumstances. He is in the business of bringing Light to a lost world.

Please pray for our team of missionaries in Mexico right now who have planned their own rescue mission. The lives of many rest in the balance! Fast, pray, seek the Lord for these and those you know who are doing similarly.

During this season of celebration, some will find eternal life!

Praise God!


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My son,

As another year draws to a close, we have now viewed life for the last 15 months without your companionship. While it has not been what we would have chosen, it has not passed without amazing blessings from our Lord and Savior.

We have seen many give their hearts to Jesus as a result of His utilizing your testimony in their lives. We have heard from a young lady who gave up drugs, alcohol and sex, to live for Jesus. We've seen a former youth worker who fell to moral failure, resubmit her life to the Lordship of Jesus. A significant number of people have served on the mission field as a result of your life.

BJ, I could not be more excited to see these things happen. If but one of these would have happened as a result of your conversations directly with them, I know you would have been thrilled.

In January 2008, the book on your life and testimony will come out. Many are already calling for it, and are most excited about how the Lord continues to use your obedience to draw others to Him. I must confess that I did not believe it was going to happen. I am so proud of you!

This Christmas without you has been quite a mixture of emotions. Your name has come up frequently as we have spent time with family from around the US. I miss your input and gentle loving presence. It is so uncomfortable to talk about our family in terms of being "four," or my now frequent references to your mother and sisters as the "girls," where an implied reference to them as 'my family,' has replaced former terms.

I am most thankful for how you lived your life in obedience to Christ. I am most thankful to have had a son who understood the necessity to be completely sold out to Jesus. Many still do not understand this. Few actually live their lives this way. Your example has become a reference for how a believer should live. Thank you buddy, for loving Jesus so completely. Thank you for reflecting His Holiness to those you touched.

The Lord has opened many opportunities for your family to travel and share your story, your life, your testimony. Many say that we have only seen the "tip of the iceberg," in terms of what impact the Lord will ultimately have through your obedience.

I am most humbled by your selfless dedication.

This next year, most of your friends are representing Jesus, around the globe. They are traveling both domestically and internationally, to share the Love of Jesus with the lost.

A part of your physical being rests high above north Africa, overlooking many villages and Mosques. Another part of you will travel to Peru this summer to remain in the country where Jesus radically transformed your own life and calling...both delivered by your family.

I do not suppose a father could be more proud of his son. Even the song composed about your life by Bart, continues to impact the world. We have heard from many who are humbled by your commitment and your youth.

I love you most deeply. I miss you most difficulty. I anticipate one day being reunited with you with immense desire. Until then, know that you are my hero!

I love you, BJ!


Monday, December 25, 2006

This day is fragile but precious.

So much anticipation culminates in the arrival of this day. Does it live up to expectation? The answer lies deep within each person as they survey what it was they actually sought.

Was it time with family? Yes.

Was it getting certain gifts? Probably.

Was it truly spending time with the One for whom the day stands? Sadly, for many, not really.

Oh, we often pay lip service to worshipping Him on this day, but seldom do we actually give Him our all. For our all seems to be bound within our hopes and dreams of what the season could bring.

Our expectations are bourne of Christmases past or from the ideas we've seen in movies. When will that Christmas dream come to pass in my life, we wonder? We hope for that which has little to do with the coming of the Savior 2000 years ago.

He came from humble means. He was born to a virgin and brought scandal into her life. Rejection from her peers. That rejection would come later to the Savior Himself. Then to those who followed him. Those closest to him died a martyrs death, most by vicious means.

Today, rejection continues to follow in the lives of His faithful. Scorn for those who openly love Him is present at many turns in life. Why do we remain faithful? Why is the price worth the cost of suffering in this world?

Because He really did come to die for you and for me. His death, as a spotless Lamb, provided a way for us to be restored in our relationship to the Father. A blood sacrifice was required, and was given.

It is ours to follow Him. It is ours to revere Him. We must bring honor to His Name, regardless of whether or not all believe. The depth of our relationship with Christ is not dependent on whether or not they believe, but whether or not they believe will be impacted by the depth of our relationship with Christ!

What are we showing our friends and our loved ones, today? Do they see Jesus as the babe in the manger scene on display in the home you're in? Or do they see Jesus as One who came to serve and love others because His reflection is seen in who you are to them, on this most Sacred of Days.

He is worthy of the cost, whatever it might be! Praise Him. Point others to Him. Revere Him! Honor Him! The sum of your life finds its value in how you do so.

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday JESUS!


Friday, December 22, 2006

13 hours after entering the car, we unloaded, 15 miles south of small town, Kentucky. Visiting family we have not seen in 15 months. The youngest at 21 months is fighting bronchitis. Lethargic, hot and coughing constantly, the reminder was unwelcome. The prayer entered into was consistent.

Young Nathaniel did not know me last night. This morning, he grew a little more comfortable. His difficulty breathing did not allow him much fight as he surrendered to my arms so that his parents could tend to other things. The house emptied of adults as there was a walk to go on, and the grocery to visit.

I remember this pose. I held him over my left shoulder. His cries quickly gave way to contentment as we looked out the back window, searching the landscape for puppies or birds.

Soon, he drew close to my chest, tucked his tiny hands under his body snuggling against me, and finding a pillow in my shoulder. I instinctively began to pat his little bottom. Before I knew it, he was softly patting my shoulder, keeping an equal beat.

How well I remember another little man who used to do that very thing. How comforting it was to hold him close, knowing that the sickness was yielding to a return to health. The Lord had touched him.

Soon, he began to get busy on the floor as 21 month olds should.

How precious are the children of the Lord. How carefully He tends to their needs and provides for them. How incredible that His timing is always perfect.

We will be here in Kentcuky until Sunday, and then will head to Indiana to be with more loved ones. Whitney sings at Northside Sunday night. We will gather to listen and to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Again, have a most blessed and Merry Christmas!!!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I was at lunch yesterday with two friends, and witnessed something that was very unusual for our day. A mother and her three children came into the establishment to eat. Mom got in line to get food. Her children were left in the care of her oldest son.

This young man knew exactly what he was doing. First, he found a high chair and drug it over to their table. Next, he lifted his young sister up and placed her gently into the chair. He took care to neatly tuck her coat and dress into the chair with her. Then he moved around to the front and pulled her legs through the slots.

Then he found a booster seat, carried it over to the booth, placed it securely against the wall and lifted his young brother up and into the seat.

His brother and sister did not resist his actions. They understood that he was helping them, that he loved them. This was not the first time that he had served. The whole scenario operated smoothly.

Big brother then began to entertain his little sister. He rolled her high chair back and forth, bringing a giggle to her small frame. Little brother squirmed a bit in his booster seat. He dislodged it from security, and it nearly dumped it's contents. The eldest realized what was about to happen, and came to the rescue.

Just then, Mom arrived. All was ready for her. As she dispersed the meal to each place, her oldest grabbed the cups and made two trips to fill them with the appropriate drinks. He reached up high to fill them with Sprite.

I watched in amazement. This Mother had trained her son well. She never told him what to do, he just did what needed to be done. He knew his significant task, and he embraced it. He fluidly worked through each step as if it had all been planned.

The Mom probably thought I was a stalker. Even though I was with friends, I could not help but sit and stare in utter astonishment.

Obviously, this family is not the norm. Too many times, a worn, disheveled mother enters with screaming children who begin to bounce off of the walls upon entry. They holler to mom and tell her what they want. Impatiently, they inquire if the food is ready. Mom desperately looks for retreat, but only finds judgment in the eyes of most onlookers.

This scene has played out all to often in cities across the U.S. What is so often missing from the landscape are parents who have "trained up [their] child[ren] in the way [they] should go."

At some point this young man realized I was watching. He began to sneak peeks at me to see if I was still with him. He seemed embarrassed. His glances came as he moved through his tasks. He never stopped or rested until Mom arrived with the food, and all was set.

I do not know how old this young man was for sure, but I can tell you he had an "old soul." He had to have been small for his age. He was too competent, too under control, too mature.

He was about the size of my nephew.

My nephew is 7.

He reminded me of another. From and early age, He also did what needed to be done. He knew his significant task, and He embraced it. He fluidly worked through each step as if it had all been planned.

Sometimes Jesus sends people into my path to show me something. While the world is a flawed and sinful place, there are those who have risen above. There are those who are training their children for life. Showing them the way of our Savior.

He came to serve.

So did this young man. So did another. Praise God!

Tomorrow, we head to be with family to celebrate our Savior's birth! We will be here from time to time, but are uncertain when we will have internet access.

Please, have a very Merry Christmas! Be filled with His Peace and the Joy of serving Him! Know that you are loved and lifted up. As my friend from Greenfield often says, "God Bless!"


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I got to be a leader for the Disciple Now at my church several weekends ago. I had a group of six 7th grade girls. I was absolutely terrified at the beginning, but God really used the weekend in my life and I pray in theirs.

The first thing I got to talk about with the girls was Psalm 139. I was absolutely thrilled when I saw this as the first lesson. This is one of those passages that, having grown up the church, it is easy to become a bit calloused to. We have heard it so many times that it loses its meaning. We get into the habit of mundanely repeating these verses, along with others, like John 3:16, that have been drilled into our heads and the power in them disappears. The passion they instill in us is minimal to none.

Psalm 139 has become a treasure to me. As I am learning to stand on scripture to combat the lies that Satan feeds me and I, for so long, have taken in as truth, this passage has helped me to fight. But as I was studying to talk to these girls about who each of us is according to the Bible, and how we are each created with a purpose, God opened my eyes to even more in these verses. I had always fallen back on them as I was struggling with my physical appearance, but there is SO much more in these verses than that.

Verse 15 in the English Standard Version says this, "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. " I love that. God intricately wove us together. It was not a quick throw in a dash of this and a pinch of that. It was a very purposeful process. God labored to make us who we are. Not only on the outside. Verse 13 says "You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together..." Not only what we look like was fearfully and wonderfully made, but God also knit our personalities together. Who we are, what we like, what we don't like, what we're good at, what we're passionate about. The Creator of the Universe took the time to take each part of who we are and knit them all together to create each and every individual being. The King of Kings took time to intricately weave me together, inside and out. It blows me away...

As a daughter of the King, knitted together by the Creator of the universe, I am learning to stop questioning who I am. I am learning that God made me exactly how He wants me to be and who am I to be anything but that. We are to have confidence in who we are not out of pride but because God made us just how He wanted. What more could we ask for?


Monday, December 18, 2006

Good morning... This is Lauren.

The end of the semester was very full and a lot busy... Emotionally, I think I am still catching up with myself. It's quite a change to go from a Crash-&-Burn week of finals and To Do lists to -- TIME, unburdened by academic responsibility, full of leisurely possibilities. I'm searching for rest first, then balance. :)

But even in the midst of all that craziness, God has been doing some great things in my life these past couple months. A couple weeks ago, I was reading a book for a class that talked about waiting for God... I started to think about this concept and what it looked like, or didn't look like, in my life. And He started to stir my heart.

Perhaps I've learned this before, maybe I've even shared it with you. But since I do such a good job of forgetting, maybe you do too. God has begun to show me the importance of savoring life.

So often I find myself looking to the next thing to make life truly great. If only I had _______, then I would really be set, and I'd have nothing else to want. It's a deceptive little game we play with ourselves. Because until we find the value and blessing and challenge in our lives NOW, we will never be happy. We will always be looking ahead, always living life too fast to absorb the truly wonderful things that are happening in our lives every day.

But that everyday... THAT is life. Not the next thing, not even anticipating the next thing. Life is happening now, and we will wish it away and miss all the good things if we are so focused on what might be next to pay attention to what actually IS!

God has given me several specific dreams for my life, others more vague. And they are good. But what He has shown me is this: without Him and His timing, they are not the dreams I really want. Without Him, they mean nothing. And so I do not want to manipulate my circumstances to get what "I want" prematurely. God knows me better than that, and He's working out a better plan.

I still have choices. But the biggest one I have chosen right now is to bask in my life NOW, enjoy the blessings and even the challenges of what God is doing in me here and now.

These things will prepare me for later. But they also make life so interesting!

LOVE! Lauren
(You'll get to hear from Whit tomorrow!)

Friday, December 15, 2006

His red plaid flannel pajamas are snugged in retreat beneath his royal blue bathrobe. Sleep has long left his eyes as anticipation fills his full heart. He bounces around the house sliding in rooms void of carpet. He simply cannot wait.

He has held each gift a dozen times or more. He has shaken them silly. He has ideas dancing in his head of what is in each. Even the ones not belonging to him. He has learned that just because a tag does not bear his name, does not mean what is inside is not for him. He is smart, perhaps too smart.

He fought sleep the night before in hopes of hearing that sound upon the roof that he has known for some time was not truth. It does not matter. There is always hope, there is magic in the air, and the sparkle in his eyes reveals the joy of what every child hopes for this time of year.

Every other day children sleep till...late. Not on this morn. Elusive as the sleep was in coming, it has now departed, yet the sun has not risen. Impatiently he waits, counting the presents, counting the minutes, counting in ascending order, those who wake to join him. Three are up, two can they sleep?

Activity intensifies near the bedroom door of those lazy, groggy slumberers. One rolls over and makes just enough noise to stir the deep hopes of the little man adorned for Christmas morn. Slowly, the door creaks open. Little eyes peek in.

In one jolting bound he thrusts himself to the bed, and begins to bounce between the figures of those he hopes to rouse.

Chisels of light pierce what was left of the night, chasing away any hope for further rest.

Recounting to be sure, five are now present. Let the joy overflow.

Shards of paper litter the floor. Held tightly in his hands being inspected with eyes-a-twinkling is the book he has pined for. Colored more brightly than mom and dad's, his is designed for young hearts.

Preciously, he cracks open the book. He peeks inside. The anticipation within, brimming in every possible way as he contemplates the stories he holds...the Truth he knows is inside.

He will spend the rest of his young life devouring it's contents, drawing closer to it's author. The Truth splashed on those thin pages wash over his thirsty mind.

He understands that the joy of Christmas is held within the Book. It spills into his heart and permeates his life. The full armor of God will soon replace the red plaid pajamas. The twinkle will never leave those penetrating eyes.

Only now, there is no need for the Book. What was held within now stands before him in the fullness of Glory. Wounded once for him, he prostrates himself in His presence. Out of habit, he cannot help himself. He must do it one more time. Slowly, he turns his head, his neck creaking, those eyes full of the same anticipation, he peeks at the One. The One who was born so many years ago, that gave rise to the season, and brought peace to mens hearts.

No longer is there need to wait.

Celebration in worship is on his heart, and the hearts of those who have gone before, that now kneel beside him...for as far as the eye can see.

This is what it is all about. Give this Christmas as the One gave. Give to love. Let His joy fill your hearts.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

There is within us at birth an insatiable appetite. As we grow we learn to fill it with different things. Each of our appetites run in different veins. Part of this causes the world to be such an interesting place. Part of it causes the world to be a very difficult place.

In the years I have been privileged to work with students, I have certainly seen this to be true. God created within each of us a desire for more of Him. He also gave us the opportunity to choose what we want in our lives. How we respond to the choices before us, defines who we are.

There are so many times that we are desperate for more of our Lord. Because our time with Him has grown dry and parched, the way to satisfaction murky, we get off track and fill that desire for more, with the more offered elsewhere. Why?

We do so because we have learned to gratify our desires immediately. There are few things we are willing to wait for. The desert experiences in my life have been difficult. Each time, I thought I would reach the end of the valley soon, so I focused my attention in other ways to occupy the hurt, until I reached the cool edge of relief.

The problem is, I failed to see what the Lord was trying to teach me in the "scourge of aloneness."

Once I have learned to quench my thirst quickly, it becomes harder to want to walk in the slow up an down growth that often typifies our relationship with Christ.

Recently, I have seen a number of students I work with grow frustrated and disallusioned with their church. They have spent a summer on the mission field, and been fed daily, they have been obedient, daily. The distractions around them are much easier to ignore because they have a common goal and are parterning with brothers and sisters that hold them accountable. They have leadership that pour into them from the overflow of their own lives.

The result is a team of "on-fire" young believers that feel equipped to tackle the worst that can be thrown at them. The problem is, when they return home, the "surround sound" of faithful believers are gone. They no longer live day in and day out with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They go home to their brothers and sisters of biology.

Even if those siblings are believers, they have not experienced the same things, they do not understand the disposition and change that has taken place. The missionary starves for what was. The family and friends looking in, see mounting frustration where there had been peace, joy and motivation.

It seems it is only amplified at church. The pretentiousness and materialism that we like to think is void in our tabernacles is more obvious than ever. Combine this with the disconnect between the young missionary who has experienced the 'hand of God' at work and the slow pace and massive disinterest in real growth they perceive among those sitting around them, who are busy cultivating a country club atmosphere, and the seeds of discord are sown.

It is not just the young missionary who experiences this. We all do at different times.

Our needs are different. Our desires are different. Jesus is the constant.

We are part of a world that wants more. We want to ride the spiritual high for a lifetime. We want to be fed and experience real growth constantly and consistently. The truth is that until we learn to have joy in Him when the desert brings dust, intense thirst, pain and severe difficulty, we will not maintain what we had when we walked on the moutain with Him. We must constantly seek Him on our own. We cannot count on others to bring Him near.

This is the place most of us find frustration. We will have times of refreshment, where we stand side by side and fight the good fight together. We will also have times where the only growth we experience will come from our time alone with Him. We must learn to listen, be still, wait on Him.

It is okay if things happen slowly. We appreciate them more and share more joyfully when we have waited and He has made provision. The provision we find on our own is only a diversion. There is no fulfillment in it.

Seek Him while He may be found!


Jason, a friend and teammate from Africa this summer, has had a family tragedy. His sister's husband was killed in a car accident in the Indianapolis area yesterday. They have four year old who is now fatherless. Please lift them up. Their pain is deep, their sorrow long, and it will be difficult to find joy in this season for them. Please join me in covering them with prayer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For the last couple of days, our nephew Derek, has been staying with us. He just graduated from Houston Baptist University. He is six months older than Lauren. Though they have always lived in Houston, and we have raised our children in Indiana, we have been close throughout their lives.

He is a youth pastor at his church. He is a gentle soul, who loves life, and seeks hard after God and His will for his life. Derek grew up participating in missions with his family and his church. He has served in Costa Rica, Mexico and Germany, many times each. He and his family speak Spanish.

A few months ago, he contacted me about something he was thinking of doing. He knows he will serve in ministry somewhere, but is not exactly sure where that will be. The Lord laid it on his heart to explore a possibility after he finished with school. He began to pursue that, and called me when he was in his info gathering place.

I grew excited about what he is thinking. We began to talk, and I was able to make some contacts for him.

Having him here has been a special blessing for us. You can get to know someone so much better when they are alone. I believe all of our previous encounters with him have involved other family members in one capacity or another. That always dilutes the time you have.

He has been very animated and has had much to say. I admit, I have been a bit surprised. Perhaps I did not know him as well as I thought. He used to be the quiet one (he has an older brother, David).

He has been our companion for the last couple of days, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. Such is the impact he has on the lives of students, that he just returned from Germany. He made a very brief visit there for a very special reason. One of the young people he has forged a relationship with there over the last several years was getting baptized.

So important was Derek to this young mans life, that his mother contacted Derek, and flew him to Germany to be present at the baptism. I cannot believe that! That is a huge event on both sides.

Deanna was sharing with me how much she enjoyed her time with him. Yesterday after her school was out, she and Derek went shopping...both for Derek's other up-coming trip, and for Christmas for family.

They laughed and he clowned. This brought back vivid memories for her as she was reminded of the brief number of times she had the same opportunities with BJ. How she misses those. How much good it did her soul, to have this opportunity to once again share in this way. It is amazing how this kind of laughter can bring about sadness. It is unexpected. Yet, joy still fills her countenance as the three of us spent the evening together.

He is headed back to Houston now, where he and his family reside. He is preparing for his next act of service.

He leaves January 5th, and will be gone for 8 months, where he will continue his lifestyle as a missionary. His mother is trying to prepare for this separation. So is his girlfriend. While sadness looms for them, they also well with joy over his decision.

Derek is headed for Peru. He will serve there, working with the Quechua Indians in the southern part of the country.

I am very proud of him. I am very thankful for him. Please pray for Derek as he takes his place in that country, where he will make a difference for the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior!

I just saw him off, he is on his way back to you, Dan and Jolene!

uncle brent

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We are getting settled into our new home. There are a few things on the walls, several boxes left to be unpacked, but mostly, it is starting to feel like home. It is amazing how having "your stuff" can take a place that is foreign and make it your own.

I was reflecting back on the weekend we moved, and am amazed at how things came together despite the worst snowstorm in recent Tulsa history. That the Lord raised up people willing to brave the elements on a weekend that would have been better spent by a fire with hot cocoa, and a good book or movie, still stirs me.

Moving is always...well, a pain. I don't like moving. I moved four times in 7 months. Yes, only two times were with all our stuff, so that makes it somehow least I'm trying to believe that.

I have a good friend from the Indianapolis area who once shared her moving story with me. She and her husband moved from Wisconsin to Indianapolis. Her husband drove the moving van. It was from that national company with orange and silver trucks. At that time, they had a slogan that read: "Adventures in Moving."

She stared at that sign until her eyes blurred, which was not a good thing as she was driving their only car. She began to sob. Sobbing turned into defiant screaming in the quiet of her car.

"This is not an adventure!" she declared. "I hate this, I don't want to do this, I just wanna go back home!"

I don't know her exact words, but this was the idea she conveyed.

I could relate to this. I used the same moving company, and was reminded amid the snow drifts and icy roads, that this was quite the adventure. One I could have done could the 7 or 8 friends who came to help us.

Change is hard for most of us. We resist at most costs. We would much rather reside at the hearth of our comfort, than have our walls expanded to include new adventures we feel ill-equipped to traverse. Especially ones that take us far away from all we know.

It is at these times that we can rest assured that in fact, this is a journey...a faith journey.

I feel no particular gifting for the job I am doing. There are many who are more qualified than me. However, "for such a time as this," God wants me here. He wants Deanna teaching in Sapulpa. He has bound our hearts to others in this area. How and why this has all occurred is something I do not have the vision to see. Everyday, new things are coming our way that are much bigger than we are. It is only by His strength that we are able to meet these challenges.

I only know that this "adventure in moving" is His desire, and ours it to be found obedient. He has supplied and provided at every turn. His provision is ample. This "adventure in moving" is His "adventure in living." Praise God!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Sometime after the Columbine shootings, the Lord called me to that high school. I believe I may have referenced it before. I cannot explain it to you. I do not generally possess a morbid curiosity, but I knew I had to be there...actually to the high hill behind the school, where the memorials were temporarily set up. Six months to the day, I stood atop that hill, seeking the Lord as to why I was there. A visceral ache nearly overwhelmed me. Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott were two of the martyrs from that day.

Then again, another tragedy occurred, years later. I had no plans to go to the big city. I do not like "big cities." Once again the Lord began to tug on my heart, and six months to the day after 9-11, I peered out a window of an adjacent building that the Lord had opened the doors for me to enter, and looked down into the rubble of 2 former skyscrapers. Thousands died here. Many were not believers...probably most.

I do not claim to understand His purposes in these things. I only know He was preparing me. He had something for me to see. He wanted me to be present at these sites.

After the first experience, I returned to the youth group I was pastor of at that time. I shared about my journey. The Lord gripped the hearts of the students as I shared. At the conclusion, one of them came up to me and said, "while you were speaking, God told me that we are supposed to write a song together (now that student travels the world with his band proclaiming the name of Jesus to a lost world...he truly enters some of the darkest places)."

I laughed (not at him, but at the thought that I would write a song). I told him, "then God will have to give me the words, because I do not write songs."

A few days later, during my quiet time, the Lord began to pour through me. I wrote as the Lord put words on my heart. The words would be penetrating. I surrendered those words to the Lord and then that young man.

A time later, he returned to me with music which he had added to the lyrics. As he played, I was overcome with just how haunting this song was.

Later, my wife would add harmonies to the song. The harmonies, almost difficult to listen to, increased the depth of the song. My family took that song and performed it. Deanna accompanied on the piano and she and the girls sang, each taking turns on melody and then harmonizing on the chorus. BJ played the cello along with this.

His cello playing skills had improved over the years, but what he added to this song would once again be "haunting." The instrument was the perfect backdrop to such a difficult song to hear.

Though it somehow seems to cheapen the whole experience to write it, my family won a contest with this song.

As I was unpacking this past weekend, I came across the lyrics. In reviewing them today, I see things in that song I had no idea it would mean on the day the Lord gave them to me.

When I was at Columbine, the passage of scripture the Lord had given me was Isaiah 13. If you read it, you will see how He used it in the lyrics. Here they are:

I sought your face in a time you directed
And quickly threw my arms up in defeat
'Til you told me post a banner on a hilltop
I didn't understand where you were sending me

Some have died and others will follow
Prepare the way your telling me
You have summoned you're warriors to the present
Please fill them and send them in deep

Upon a mountain not a sound can be heard
Until a great multitude of two or three
You draw us together in the presence of your Spirit
Anoint us, send us, set them free.

Some have died and others will follow
Prepare the way you're telling me
You have summoned your warriors to the present
Please fill them and send them in deep

Wail for the day of the Lord is near
We must run before they flee
God has called us to bring His presence
To those who are limp and terror seized

Some have died and others will follow
Prepare the way you're telling me
You have summoned your warriors to the present
Please fill them and send them in deep.

I share this with you to reflect how the Lord had been preparing our hearts for what would come.

Many have given their lives for Him. Many have died without Him. We cannot change what has passed, but we can carry His Light into the future. We can help make a difference in the lives of others.


Friday, December 08, 2006

It is interesting to me how much it means when someone asks about a particular memory of my son. We are at a place where few people know us, and even fewer actually knew BJ.

Yesterday, at lunch I was asked if BJ enjoyed a particular thing. It felt so amazing to have been asked. Usually, I find I struggle with wanting to work him into conversations. Seldom is it appropriate, but often, I will stop listening to the other as they talk, because I will get lost in thought about him or particular memories of him.

His absence creates a need within to keep him alive, at least his memory. I am not talking about spiritual things, necessarily, just everyday silly or fun things that he contributed to a situation.

He continues to be so much a part of who we are, that when his memory fades or is even absent in others, it seems like our responsibility to keep him out in front. I have found that this is uncomfortable in some situations, and is not a practice that is important for most others. I am sure that it is not unusual for parents who have lost children to do so. I am equally sure that most of the world is not equipped to deal with this issue. It seems pathetic at times.

I don't like being pathetic. It is painful, uncomfortable...even embarrassing.

I can honestly say that time is passing so quickly right now, that often I have to convince myself of what month it is.

Seasons are different, surroundings are different, people are different, yet my thoughts seem to reside back in the days when the world made a little more sense to me. When I had three children to raise, to love on, to hold.

The Lord has provided many opportunities for us to love on our daughters, both in person, and from a distance. Sometimes, it just seems like there is something so unfair about it all.

There is a popular fairy-tale movie that carries the line, "I died that day." The circumstances were a world apart from our own, but too often, I feel like the line applies.

There are days when life seems like an out of body experience. I know I am here, I am doing things, even being productive. However, the recovering addict motto of "fake it 'til you make it," seems to be where things are. Just trying to go through the motions of being alive and of value until such time that I really live.

Each day brings new situations, new drama, new dilemmas, new joy, new challenges. But sometimes, the greatest challenge of all, is just truly trying to live, when a part of me has died.

I think I will lose some of you here, but I believe that our lives in Christ are similar...hopefully without the melancholy, and sad tones.

That day that we surrendered ourselves to His Lordship and Saving grace, we gave up our rights to ourselves. It is no longer to be us who live, but Him through us. We impact our world, those around us as a result. We stop measuring time in the same way.

We seek faithfulness, and obedience to Him, and not the pursuit of fulfillment of self. Much of what I have described above is my own inner desire to have the things that bring fulfillment in a way that I no longer have access least not as it once was.

My life now is to be about Christ, and Him crucified and resurrected. Not that it wasn't before Beej's death, but the reality has set in so much deeper, and hopefully has equipped us as a family to be available to minister in new ways...ways designed by the Master.

Yielding control will always be a struggle. Sometimes I just want what I want.

Fortunately, I serve a King who gives me grace, allows me to struggle so that I grow, and finds me to be a little more like Him, and a little less like me, each day.

I am thankful for what once was, what is, and what is yet to come. Sometimes I just need help keeping it all in focus.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

There are times when it feels like there is no rest. When the deepest longing within you is for a little time to repose, it is not to be. Life's circumstances can overwhelm, there is no doubt. What is our reaction to be under this influence?

I received a call at the end of yesterday's work hours from Deanna. She was parked at our home, having just arrived. She could not get her garage door opener to do it's thing. I told her I would be right there.

I closed down the project I was working on, and was off. As you might imagine, traffic was a snarl. I live a mile or so from my office, and traffic was at a standstill. That does not seem possible.

I arrived, sure of my ability to right the wrongs of her remote.

I was wrong, it wasn't to be righted.

My remote would not work either. We keyed into the front door, and flipped the switch. Nothing.

We moved in 4 days ago, I don't think we've had time to miss a payment. Our neighbors clearly had electricity, so the grid was not down. I called a friend to look up the number, as the previous owners of our home took the phone books with them.

I called the Power Company and told them of our situation. After a long experience "on hold," the voice returned to the phone, most apologetic. He insisted they would get someone out to turn the power back on that same night.

Deanna went off to her Bible study at church, and I huddled by the fireplace with all the flame our gas excuse could muster. I had to light some candles as this was not enough light...or heat.

After a period of hours, I heard someone clanking about in my backyard, and saw the stray light beam rush across my wall through a nearby window. Help, at last! I went outside to thank him. From his response, I think he thought I missed a payment.

Celebrating electricity, I went to the kitchen and put on a pot of strong coffee...just the way I like it. Suddenly, I heard a rather uninvited harsh spraying sound. You know when your outside with your garden hose on full blast, and you try to put your finger into the stream, all the way up to the nozzle? That is the sound.

I turned to the sink and saw nothing. Where could this be coming from?

I opened the cabinet doors under the sink and saw a water party happening. Without any drip or warning, a fitting had decided to let go of its responsibility. It had already engulfed the contents of cleansers and paper towels held within.

I quickly cleared this debris and fought with the shut-off valves. They fought back. They liked being open.

After struggling with them, I gained the upper hand...or so I thought. Great! Valves that won't close completely. I was able to slow it down to a steady drip. I grabbed towels from as yet unpacked boxes, and pressed them into service.

I would have to repeat this several times before morning, and one final time before heading to work. I went to take a shower just before heading to the office.

Here in the south or west or southwest, whatever this area is considered, bathrooms are equipped with vents in the ceiling that are also heaters. Deanna likes these, as they add the little bit of extra warmth she enjoys, to take off a cold nights chill.

When I entered the bathroom, I smelled that bad smell. The unpleasant aroma of plastic and wires melting or something. I turned on the vent fan to exhaust the forthcoming hot water steam. Nothing. It did not make a noise. It did not leap into action.

Perhaps it just overheated from previous use. Perhaps it will work again later.

There is a movie from the 80's I never watched called "The Money Pit." I am hopeful that we did not just buy it.

I am not a "Mr. Fix It." I'm pretty much the guy who hands tools to the guy who knows what he is doing.

I am a prayer...I mean, what I cannot fix, I can pray over. So I have been. I know the Lord will guide me to the right people to assist me in this.

Guess what?

The vent fan came back on.

I'll keep on praying. I refuse to let the enemy have victory in this situation. He is not going to steal my joy over what the Lord has provided for us. I do wish he wasn't so persistent.

Sometimes you just want to rest. My rest is in the Lord. My hope is in the Lord. My life is the Lord's. I'll press on.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

His last Thanksgiving was spent at my sisters home in Virginia. Of course we did not know it was to be that, but as things would turn out, it was.

The day after the feast, we set into motion those things families do to make memories and to have fun together. Several people were in the kitchen preparing sugar cookie dough. I love the aroma that wafts through the house when baking sweets. I am filled with anticipation of the incredible taste that is to ultimately come my way.

BJ and Joshua played with light sabers, once again conquering the evil rebellion. It was funny though, how when they played, once the enemy was defeated, they had to go at each other. Surely, a man's vivid imagination gets its start at this young age, where pretending is at its prime.

Recovering from deadly blows from a light saber in 2.3 seconds was the norm. Then they would leap back to their feet and battle on. How did they have that much energy? I got tired smelling the cookie dough as it was stirred and posted into the refrigerator for the obligatory 2 hour chill!

Finally, the time would pass, and we were ready to begin the process of baking what seemed to have taken eons longer than 2.3 seconds to prepare.

The yummy dough would come out of the fridge, and be rolled out onto the table. Suddenly a host of heavenly wee ones surrounded the table filled with excitement over the chance to cut dough into Christmas shapes! Once prepared, off to the oven they would venture.

Then, that smell!!! Oh how incredible it is to have your memories laced not only with the alluring aroma, but also the endearing visions of our children's antics. They danced around the house in great expectation of what was about to come out of the oven!

Golden brown formed dough in shapes of the upcoming season, cooled on the table. Those dancers returned with more enthusiasm. It was time to decorate the cookies.

This thought had been the motivation of the day! Not a single child could resist the temptation of sneaking bites of frosting along the way (especially this big one). All of us stood around the table decorating Christmas cookies. Brad's were the best. He must have gotten most of my Dad's "art" genes. His cookies made the rest of ours look like a bunch of hungry rookies had done them. I guess he just has more self control than the rest of us.

Anyway, while his were the best, a close second in my mind were BJ's. He took such time and care with his. Anyone who has spent time with him at meals knows of his pleasure in the slow enjoyment of food...something he got from my Mom's genes. His cookies were intricately adorned with color and detail. He could take a vision in his head, and re-create it on a silly cookie.

I can still see him licking his fingers as he went. This was good stuff. These were precious times and bring refreshment yet, a bit of melancholy.

There was no way we could know this would be our last Thanksgiving together. I don't believe I could have cherished it any more had I known.

This Christmas, as you gather as family, plan to make memories together. Do silly things like baking, and playing games. Fully enjoy the moments as they come. Resist the temptation to get short with one another. These memories will last you for a lifetime.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I was standing in the back of the moving truck when I heard his harrumph! I looked over at the elderly man standing on his front porch behind tall snow drifts. My new next door neighbor proceeded to greet me with an obscenity laced tirade.

There was no welcome in his voice. He was annoyed. He wanted only to express his displeasure.
One of the precious people who had come to help me move, had inadvertently parked in such a way that their vehicle partially blocked his driveway.

The thing was, you could not see his driveway. It was drifted shut, and no vehicle had come or gone since the snows end two days before.

I apologized to him, and told him we would get it moved right away.

He retreated back into his home, and I got busy getting the car moved.

Perhaps "cabin fever" had set in and he found no pleasure in the current circumstances of his life, but saw only what others were potentially keeping him from doing.

As I tried to process what had just happened, I thought of how many times I have made a poor first impression. I let my own frustrations boil over from time to time and the result is usually one that brings a sense of embarrassment and shame.

I was embarrassed for this gentleman. I do not yet know his story, but it is clear he has needs.

As a believer there are many times that we have the opportunity amid frustrating circumstances, to reflect the love of Jesus. It is what sets us apart. Sometimes we have to work at it, but over a period of time and growth in Him, it becomes second nature. Things we don't like happen, and rather than respond in anger, we are patient, and respond with measured words and emotion.

This kind of reaction causes others to take notice. They will even question how you are able to react in such fashion.

When we see someone lash out in anger, it is a symptom of another issue...a cry for help. One they may not even realize they are making. What will our response be?

I know I need to be available to the man next door. I do not know how or when it will happen, only that I need to be ready. I don't expect it to be fun. It will probably be difficult. But I need to be there when my Savior leads.

Isn't it interesting how many times the reactions of others are easier to identify and respond to than diagnosing our own issues?

I am thankful to have Christian friends. Those who help support and encourage when all else tries to bring defeat.


Monday, December 04, 2006


Well, Praise God, we did close, and we did move!

Yes, it was reported to be the worst winter storm in recent Oklahoma November/December history, but the Lord made a way. It is honestly just amazing how the Lord provided for us. There were so many hurdles. None of it was easy.

We arrived at our storage facility to pick up our things, the proprieter came out and told us the gate was frozen shut, and what on earth were we thinking, trying to do this in this kind of weather. I explained that we had planned it all in advance (save the weather) and this was the day our help was available. She brought hot water out, poured it on the gate, and got it unstuck.

I could literally go on an on about all the road blocks we encountered. There are so many crazy things that happened. Suffice it to say, the Lord provided in the midst of another storm!!!

Yesterday, as we unpacked, we uncovered BJ's 5th grade play, "The Wizard of Oz." BJ was the Wizard. To be honest, we fast forwarded through the early parts of the play to get to the scenes with him in them. We laughed and laughed.

I know you probably remember that BJ was always the smallest in his class. Yesterday reopened our eyes to that fact.

In his first scene, all you could hear was his thundering voice proclaiming, "I am the great and powerful Oz! Who dares disturb me?" He could not be seen anywhere (as in the movie).

In his next scene, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin man, and the Cowardly Lion all return after defeating the Wicked Witch of the West. They requested their prize for their heroic efforts. Oz bellowed at them. The Lion had gained enough courage from the previous event to go after the dizzying, swirling, oversized face which seemed to be the place the voice was coming from. He ran into it, and saw it quickly crumble down to the ground.

Then a meek Oz voice, "could you help me up? No, really, could you help me out of here?"

The Lion sifts through the mess to find the tiniest of people underneath.

Literally, he was smaller than the munchkins!

This sight, and his glued on mustache with tinges of gray hair brought laughter from the audience and us.

As he stood, it was apparent that he was tiny. This huge and powerful voice was coming from the tiniest of frames. Dorothy and her band of misfits were each at least a head taller than this smallest of Wizards.

BJ spoke the line to the Tin Man, "He who has heart, is the one who serves his fellow man."

That line spoke volumes about BJ. Both in his role as the Wizard, and in his role as a servant of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Too often, we do not believe we can accomplish anything, because we believe we are too small, or the foe is too big.

Remember the words from 2Cor 12:9, "His strenth is perfected in our weakness."

It does not matter what our plight is, or what giants stand before us. We can sley them quite easily, if we will but take the steps of faith that move our feet and our hearts to His obedience.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Well, "we're not in Kansas any more Toto!" (Of course, Toto is under snowdrifts right now anyway)

Growing up in the midwest, I have been through many snowstorms...even blizzards. What I have not experienced is Tornado Watches/Warnings simultaneous with Winter Storm Warnings. Then when the winter storm starts, "thunder snow" happens. What an oddity.

We got several inches of snow yesterday and overnight, and the plows here don't plow least not yet. Soooo many people are trying to get out in it anyway, and are stuck. Then they abandon their cars, and walk to safety.

It's kinda scary here right now.

We don't know if we are going to get to close and/or move today or this weekend. We appreciate your prayers to that end. Our office is closed again today, but I came in to grab some boxes, and briefly update.

Please be in prayer for FBC Kellyville, Oklahoma, as we are to share there twice Sunday morning. With all else going on, staying focused is anything but easy just now.

Have a blessed weekend, and know how much we appreciate your intercession!