Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have a Cooking Pot

I was reminded today of a godly woman who studied the Bible with a single lady in New York City. As they were talking the single lady commented on how beautiful the woman's earrings were. She immediately took them off and gave them to the lady. No request was made. No hesitation about whether she would give what she had. No questioning about whether she could give her something that she did not like. She wanted this single mother to have something beautiful in her life.

I got a call today from a mother of ten children. Her kids go to Contact Church. Sarah had made a pot of chili to take to their family. I requested that the kids bring the pot with them to church when they were through with it. She called me this afternoon wanting a phone number, but also to know from where I got that cooking pot. She said that she was in need of something that big to cook soup in. Recalling this special lady from NYC, I immediately offered the cooking pot (careful here, not to say "pot" by itself!). I operated on the principle of it being easier to ask for forgiveness from Sarah rather than permission. Sarah was very supportive of the gift when I talked to her later about the call. I am thankful for people that model unattachment to things. Their acts of caring reflect a worship of Creator, not the created. Their acts of caring inspire us to see God offering the adornment of grace in our lives.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Girls' Camping Trip

In mid-October myself and two other adults took a couple teen girls camping at Sequoyah State Park. The weather was perfect - warm during the day, cool at night and just right for a campfire. The girls had a great time and enjoyed the outdoors - setting up the tents, cooking over a fire, hiking, horseback riding, seeing the stars (amazing!), and campfire devos. We were right beside the water. When I woke up Sunday morning a flock of geese was flying across the water. What a beautiful way to start the day! Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Playing games

Miriam got to come along on the trip. Other than getting sick in the middle of the night :( she had a great time!

Girls setting up the tent

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book give away

In cleaning out closets and shelves at Contact recently I found a huge treasure trove of children's books. They were mostly really great books (lots of caldecott medals!) in really great shape. Sadly, they had been collecting dust at Contact for some time. Since I am always on the look-out for service ideas for our teen girls, this seemed perfect: give the girls a chance to spend time with some kids, and get these books in the hands of children! Yesterday I was blessed to hang out with three teen girls and one adult from Contact as we passed out the books to kids at an apartment complex close to Contact. We met some really special kids who were very happy to get free books, and even happier to have folks stopping and playing with them. It was very encouraging to see our young teens praying about being good role models, and then going out and living it. It's a daily challenge to be Jesus' hands and feet in this world, but yesterday we had the chance to practice. Hopefully, we are learning that service project days aren't the only time to serve...every day is a service day in His kingdom!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"That's a gun."

I have the joy of teaching the 2 and 3 year olds in Bible class every Sunday. I have always loved teaching this age group most of all, perhaps because it is the first thing I ever taught, my introduction into my life calling. This past Sunday I had six sweet kiddos. No one was crying and no one had a potty accident...two signs that it was a going to be a good day! As we began class, I sang a song about getting ready to go to worship on Sunday. The children were looking at the flipchart pictures and singing along to their own music. One picture in the flipchart was of several people walking into the church building and greeting their friends. A little girl in the picture had a Bible under her arm. One of my two year old girls pointed to the Bible and adamently declared, "That's a gun." I hesitated at first. Did she really just call the Bible a gun? Then she repeated it several times. I explained that it was really a Bible. The people in the pictures are taking their Bibles to worship God. She never acknowledged that it was indeed a Bible. It blew me away to think how quickly the idea of a gun came to her mind. This story has stuck with me this week because I think of my own two year old. To Miriam any book at all can be a Bible. (She's been carrying around a German dictionary for months, claiming it's a Bible!) The Bible is so familiar to her. I wonder how familiar it is to the other girl in my class?

This story hurts my heart as I wonder about her home and her experiences. It also reminds me of the the time I sat in an apartment holding a two year while he watched a horror film. No one who lived there seemed to be concerened about what he was absorbing. I feel so ready to march for world peace when I think of these children. What kind of world have we created for them? How are we making the world better, more peaceful? And, of course, it also reinforces my passion to teach even these very little ones to love the Bible. We're going to keep singing about our Bibles, holding them, patting them, hugging them, and learning stories from them. Stories about Jesus, the good shepherd, the peacemaker, the one who turns swords into plowshares.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Miriam funny

I feel like so many funny things Miriam does are funny only to Mama and Papa, or at least only funny in the moment, but this one seemed entertaining enough to actually share after the fact. We recently checked out a c.d. from the library, "All you need is Love: Beatles for kids". Miriam loved it a lot - yellow submarine, Dear Prudence, Octopus garden - all the classic hippie songs. :) But the song she has sung most is, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". The words to the chorus are, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on rah, la, la, how that life goes on..." Miriam's version: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, rah, la, la, put my clo-thes on!" She sings it at the top of her lungs. Aah, the joyous abandon of childhood singing!

Thoughts on Ike

For those of you who keep up with our Contact teen girl happenings, you know that our girls took a much anticipated trip to Houston this summer. Being so close to the beach, they also got to enjoy Galveston. A couple nights ago two girls were over at our house working on their scrapbooks of this trip. While chatting, we started talking about Hurricane Ike, wondering what effect it had on the all the people they met and places they went. The girls got on the interenet and starting reading and looking at pictures. They were awed by what they saw. Houston and Galveston were places they felt connected with, and now much of it is gone. It is truly devestating to look at the pictures and imagine how many lives have been effected. As saddened as I was by it too, I was also touched by the two teens in my kitchen. They felt an empathy for the people in the Houston area that was greatly increased by their own experiences there. Now these girls care about more than just Tulsa, they see Texans as their brothers and sisters too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Service day

Today a few of the teen girls got together to do a service project. They filled gift bags for new babies whose moms are involved in Contact's "Mom's in Touch" program led by Mary Lasarski. Young women who choose to participate in this program go through a series of lessons with Mary about different aspects of parenting. As they participate in the lessons (usually done at their homes) and as they attend church regularly, they earn points. They can then use the points to "buy" baby items. Some items are small (diapers, clothes, books), but there are also larger items as well (strollers, cribs, and car seats). This is such a neat program, as it addresses major parenting issues right at the beginning, or even before, the new babies are born.

Today our teen girls decorated onesies with cute iron-on pictures, and then filled gift bags with the onsies, diapers, pacifiers, and washcloths. It was great to see their creativity as they worked, and to see their desire to bless these unknown babies with something special during the first days of their life. The particular group of girls that gathered today get along well. They laughed as they worked, and ran around the auditorium to burn off some of their youthful energy. Watching them, it occured to me that some of the moms who will receive the gift bags will be about the same age as these girls. How greatly parenting changes a teenagers life! As we prayed over the gift bags, I prayed silently over our teens. "Dear Lord, help them as they navigate these difficult teenage years. Help them to learn to serve others. Help them to keep their beautiful, playful, creative spirit that I see today. Help them wait for motherhood." Please pray this prayer with me!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Family pictures

It's been a while since I've posted anything family related. Here are a few pictures from our summer.

Bob and Miriam love playing in the backyard. They are great buddies. As soon as Papa comes home each day, Miriam says, "Want to play with me Papa?". Sweetness.

Dress-up has been our favorite game all summer. This is Miriam with Judith and Drake, the two kids I babysat all summer. As you can tell, they helped entertain Miriam a lot!

We spent quite a bit of time in our little wading pool. Miriam loves her sunglasses.

This is a picture from the Tulsa Zoo. We are zoo members now, so we are really enjoying getting to drop by the zoo whenever we have time. Miriam loves the train!

God has been so good to us this summer. I pray that you've been able to see his goodness in your family as well.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

God's family keeps growing!

I’ve been eager to write this post for some time, but I wanted to wait until I had a picture to go with it. One Sunday last month, there were three Contact folks who were baptized into Christ. Early in the service a woman who has come to Contact for some time decided to be baptized. Shortly thereafter, her adult son, Trey, decided he wanted to be rebaptized. Trey was baptized first, and then, in a very beautiful gesture, baptized his mother. We were all rejoicing with our new brother and sister, when one of our teens decided she too wanted to become a member of God’s family. Porsche came over to me and said she wanted to be baptized, but “I’m freaking out!” We calmed her nerves, and Bob talked with her for a minute, then he went to get her dad. That morning her dad, one of the first original Contact members, baptized her. It was such a beautiful morning, seeing the commitment and joy in the faces of our new sisters and brother, seeing the connection between our physical and spiritual families. We sang and prayed, and never even got around to having a sermon…the baptisms spoke so clearly of God’s presence among us. Please pray for our new family members as they take their first steps of a new life!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scared enough to change?

We have recently started a second girls' group. It was by the grace of God that this group formed. I did not go out seeking them, but God started sending these older girls to our teen group. Recognizing that their needs are vastly different from the 12-15 year olds I work with, we decided to form a new group. This one is for older girls, still or their teens or early twenties. Some of these girls are moms of one or two kids. We were blessed to have two women at Contact step up and agree to mentor these girls. The group is still in the early stages - just one or two young women each time - but I feel a stong sense that God is working here.

Last Tuesday I had a chance to visit with one of the young women. She has two small children, is living on her own, dropped out of school, no job...a hard situation indeed. She was very downcast all evening. She confided that her brother was recently shot "over colors" (gang stuff). He is recovering, but she is too scared to return to her apartment. If she had been home, she believes the shooting would have happened there. "What about my kids?" she worried. Later she also told me that her babies' daddy was sent to jail last week. She is staying in a crowded house with his family, trying to figure out what to do, where to go... We prayed together. I said things I hoped were helpful, praying all the while that God would put words in my mouth. How hard it is to respond to a situation I can barely grasp, a hopelessness I have never felt!

Later a visited with one of the mentors for this older group. When I told her how discouraged this young woman was on Tuesday, her response surprised me at first. "Good, that's good...maybe she'll be scared enough to make some real changes now". The more I thought about it, the more I heard the wisdom of her remarks. This young woman has had plans before - school, job training, new apartment - but they all fizzled. Now she is at a place to make some real changes. It's no small thing to change your friends, your apartment, your environment, but I believe that is what she needs in order to step out of the life she is in and into the life God is calling her to. Sometimes being scared is a good thing. Thankfully, this young woman has some people who really care about her, who want to help her make changes, who love her where she is, and seek to offer her a hand of hope. Please pray for this young woman and pray for the wisdom of those who seek to offer both truth and grace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Contact Teen Girls Need Your Help!

Many of you may have received the following letter via email. I'm posting it here so that anyone I missed can read about our needs. Please pass this information along to other people you think may be able to help the Contact Girls. Additionally, we are having one more car wash this Saturday, June 28th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Park Plaza church of Christ.

"For the past three months our teen girls have been working to raise money for a trip to Houston. The purpose of the trip is to provide an opportunity for the girls to have new experiences, learn something of the world outside of Tulsa, and open their eyes to new possibilities. The girls, along with their chaperones (Dalene Lawrence, Cathy Gotcher, and Devin Dupree) hope to visit NASA’s Houston Space Center and the Holocaust Museum, as well as journey to Galveston to see the ocean, something none of our girls have ever seen before.

We have had car washes, bake sales, and a big thrift sale to raise money. The girls have worked hard to earn their way to Houston, and God has definitely blessed their efforts. However, we are still several hundred dollars short of what we need to make this trip. This is where you can step in and help! We are having a “No Bake, Bake Sale”. Instead of donating baked goods for us to sell, we are asking you to take the amount of money you would spend on sugar, eggs, butter, etc… and donate that to us. We are grateful for any amount you feel you can give.

Please mail all donations to:
Contact Church of Christ
ATTN: Teen Girls’ ministry
1529 W. 49th St.
Tulsa, Ok 74107

The girls leave on July 10th, so we need to wrap up our fundraising as soon as possible. Please mail all donations by this Friday, June 27th; however, we will continue accepting donations throughout the rest of the summer. Thank you for caring about these girls and helping to make this trip happen for them. We also ask that you offer up prayers for this trip and these very special girls. We especially ask for prayers that this trip will provide them with a new vision of how God can work in their lives."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Sermon Today At Contact

Today I was scheduled to preach at Contact. I had my notes and even a hand-out ready to go. I asked two boys to pass out the hand-out, and then the message changed.

An older lady and her son stood before Contact with Ron, a minister at Contact. She was ready to stop living a lie and be baptized. Her adult son confessed that after being baptized at ayoung age, he had wondered off like the prodigal son. He was ready to be baptized again to start a new life with Christ. He was baptized first. Then he baptized his mother. After she was baptized, she said to the standing crowd, "I'm so thankful that my family (Contact Church) could be here."

During all of this, I'm thinking, "Maybe I've got time to deliver the message. I'll shorten it a little."

Well, one of the teen girls that Sarah has connected with, came up to her, wanting to be baptized. Sarah came up to me with tears in her eyes, telling me the good news. I talked with her, and soon enough we were able to grab her dad. She wanted him to baptize her. A normally very talkative man was speechless before Contact Church. This father got to baptize his daughter, the first person that he has ever baptized. While in the water, he repeated outloud what he heard from the sidelines of the baptistry on what to ask and say. "Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" "Because of that confession, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

What powerful moments all in one day! God's breaking in! People get ready...

And...I get to preach the same message next week!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carrying a Heavy Load at age 4

Today a little boy at a one-day VBS came up to me and asked for a Band-aid. I got one for him and then asked what was wrong. He showed me his finger. A large wart had grown on the side of one of his fingers. Our office manager D talked with him about asking his mom to get him some wart removal band-aids. This four-year old's first response was the following: "She doesn't have money for that. Can you go buy some?"

I am amazed and saddened by how much baggage our youth have to carry at such a young age. They already know the financial situation of their homes at the ripe age of 4. They are so resilient, so tough, so courageous, and so insecure. To all who help lighten their load, grace and peace from our Father in heaven.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Family update

Here are couple recent pictures of Miriam. Summer is in full swing around here. We are enjoying our backyard, the park, and especially the pool. The summer heatwave has already begun!

I'm babysitting a couple school age kids again. They are wonderful helpers and two of Miriam's favorite people. It's a win-win situation for everyone. Bob is headed to camp next week - always a fun week for him, and a long week for us! Please pray for camp, for Bob, and for the two of us waiting at home. We hope your summer is off to a great start too!

Mother-Daughter Tea

In May the teen girls hosted a mother-daughter tea for their moms and grandmas. We were a small group, but it was an encouraging time for the families who were there. One mother said she could't remember the last time she and her daughter had time alone - just the two of them. She is a single mom with 3 other children. Quality time of any sort is hard to come by. But that day they did get to sit together at the same table, drink tea and eat cookies, play a game (which they won), and even play a little basketball. The picture is of a couple of our teen girls. Beautiful, inside and out. It was a rare treat to see them so dressed up! Thanks for praying for the girls and their families, especially the many single parents we know.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Karate and Basketball

As I took my four teen karate partners home, I was trying to make conversation with a guy who just started. It was his second time, and I am just not sure if he is interested. He loves basketball and is very talented in that sport. So...I ask a question that I think will motivate him in this new endeavor.

Me: "So do you think there is anything in karate that could help with playing basketball?"

Teen: "Naw. In karate, you learn how to kick and punch and stuff like that. You don't do that in basketball."

Great answer. Let's hope not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Psalm 14

The Psalmist speaks to those who say "God is gone" about how their lack of faith leads to a lack of justice and relationship. Here it is in the Message translation:

v.4--Don't they know anything, all these imposters?
Don't they know they can't get away with this--
Treating people like a fast-food meal
over which they're too busy to pray?

v.5-6 Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess with the dreams of the poor?
You can't, for God
makes their dreams come true.

v.7 Is there anyone around to save Israel?
Yes. God is around; GOD turns life around.

Here's to a day of living like God is around.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Day in the Life of...

It's been an interesting day. At Starbucks this morning, I was given free coffee beans (Ethiopia Sidamo) from an employee. She said that the beans were good, just not fresh for selling standards. This lady has 15 children. Four of her boys play college football, and she started law school today.

I got to have Bible study in an apartment with five older teens this afternoon. One of the teens, 18, leases the apartment and has two kids. People flow in and out of the apartment through the week to spend the night. We talked about being the salt of the earth. A couple of them have been coming lately to Contact because we offer rides to church. Their former church couldn't bring them any longer.

I picked up three boys to go to karate practice. We rotate on who picks what fast food place in which to eat. Tonight was Burger King. After the three guys ordered, the lady at the register asked if I was their parole officer. Classic. I told the guys about it at the table, and they just laughed.

After getting them home, I came home to my beautiful wife and little girl at about 8:40. Two teen girls helped Sarah bake cinammon rolls for the bake sales to raise money for the teen girls' trip to Houston. One of them was still there getting to talk to Sarah and watching Miriam play "52-card-pick-up.

And, my little girl knows who she is going to marry when she gets older. Jesus. What a day! One of the blessings of life and ministry is the interesting people that we get to meet. Thank you, God, for being with us.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Last Saturday Bob and Matt (another minister at Contact) took a few of our Contact kids to a local egg hunt. It was more of an egg "grab' than an egg "hunt". All the eggs were layed out in a field, and the kids surrounded the area. When they said, "go", the kids grabbed as many eggs as they could as fast as they could. I'm sure you can imagine the chaos! Not quite the egg hunt I was anticipating, but the kids had fun nonetheless. They had their picture made with the Easter bunny and also jumped to their hearts content in the inflated toys. Miriam and I stopped by for the toddler egg hunt - a little slower passed than the grade school hunt, thank goodness!

Happy Birthday, Miriam!

Two years ago on March 21st Miriam Grace entered the world...and changed our world completely! Here are few pictures from her birthday last weekend. We are daily grateful to the God who created Miriam. He has such wonderful plans for you, sweet girl!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Visions for Delinquent Youth

How do you challenge teens that are in juvenile centers to stop their ways? Some teens that I visited recently in "juvie" told me about one minister's following words:

You know, if you guys decided right now to never come back to this place and other teens stopped their ways, they'd have to shut this place (juvenile center) down. The people who work here would get their last paycheck and have to find a job somewhere else. If you never came back, they wouldn't even need this place.

So many times in working with at-risk youth, helping the poor, and seeking justice for wrong, we are just managing the problem. We need more people to cast visions that we would call impossible. Visions that we would scoff at. Visions that we want but cannot see how. These two teens caught the vision, and their plans are never to come back. God help them with the how. Surround them with people who still believe that You can do the impossible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Way I See It #271

Starbucks has provided quotes on their paper cups for customers to discuss while drinking "the beverage you're about to enjoy." One of my favorites is from Colin Powell. He said that every child needs a lap top, one to sit on and be raised with love. Here is another one of my favorites...#271:

The law, for all its failings, has a noble goal--to make the little bit of life that people can actually control more just. We can't end disease or natural disasters, but we can devise rules for our dealings with one another that fairly weigh the rights and needs of everyone, and which, therefore, reflect our best vision of ourselves. (Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and also Limitations)

I think about this in regard to how people view the Old Testament and the God who would give the law and all the punishments that came with them. God established the Torah as the best vision of ourselves--us living out what God is like.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"That Was My Dream"

I heard some reality-facing words today. One of our teens had an altercation (AKA "fight") against another teen. We got the guys to talk, but then I needed to sit down for a talk with the older one of the two. Another minister joined me and asked about his dreams, what he wants to do with his life. The teen has always dreamed of playing basketball in the NBA. He answered, "Yeah, that was my dream."

That word "was" really stuck out to me. This is a guy that is not in school and has never played a game for his high school basketball team. I heard this teen acknowledging that this dream more than likely won't happen. To be honest I am glad. Better is one word of reality than 10,000 words of fantasy, a proverb from a fellow student at grad school. I say this even as an incredible optimist. I like it when we get moments in which we get to see where we really are. I feel like he is in a better position to live out a real dream, a real life with God now. His dream can be to live out how God made him, to carry the cross daily, to be a good husband someday, to be a good father someday. Pray for him and us to see beyond the glitz and glamor of dreams that fall short of the glorious life with God.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Banquet Table

Remember that Bible class song, "He invites us into his banquet table and his banner over us is love...."? I was thinking about it today. I had lunch with a few of the teen girls at Ruby Tuesday. They ordered the most enormous desserts I've ever seen. Massive scoops of vanilla ice cream, covered with strawberries. Warm chocolate cake smothered in chocolate sauce. Complete decadence really, but so much fun for the girls. Watching them dig into their sugar filled bowls reminded me of that song and the banquet table we are invited to be a part of someday. Maybe there won't really be ice cream, but it should be an extra special treat to sit down with Christ.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the road again...

The teen girls have a couple upcoming trips. First, we are headed to Searcy, AR the second weekend in April to visit Harding University. Most of these girls have never visited a college campus, so this will be a new experience for them. I'm excited about the chance to show them what college life can be like. Secondly, we are in the beginning stages of planning our summer trip. This year the girls have decided that they would like to visit Houston...and Galvaston, of course. Who can resist the beach? None of them have ever seen the ocean before...I can't wait to see their faces! Please be praying for our planning, fundraising, and safe travels.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Birthday at 31

Today I got to the 31 year mile marker. It was a great day. I got to eat a couple of donuts in the morning with two of my co-workers at the Contact Church as we chatted about life. I got to eat two hot dogs at the Clinton Middle School cafeteria. I also got to eat some great Mexican food at Ted's Escondido. My favorite eating was done with my daughter. We shared some Junior Mints (as seen in the photo), my favorite candy.

The most fun that I had today was with a girl that my wife Sarah babysits on Wednesdays (as well as her brother). She is in one of the upper elementary grades. (I don't know which one. 4th or 5th.) She is in an operetta about pirates. We talked pirate talk, which then shifted into British accents, which then turned into Scottish accents. For about 20 minutes, she and I carried on a conversation as I proceeded to use my ridiculous Scottish accent. Sarah scoffs at my pitiful attempts at being a verbal Scot. Oh what fun to be silly!

Some of the best gifts that I got were the following: a banner waiting for me on our front porch as well as balloons and a banner inside wishing me a happy birthday(courtesy of my lovely wife, Miriam, Drake, and Judith); my friend Matt Hurley sharing his funny life stories (a request of mine); my friend Ox offering an IOU to lift something heavy for me when needed; my friend Devin offering to sing with her lovely voice whenever I request one; financial advice from my friend Cyrus; a funny joke from my friend Jenn; a chocolate-raspberry birthday cake from my wife, and gift cards to bookstores.

I should add to the title "...in the year 2008." Friends and family wished me a happy birthday by texting on cell phone and on Facebook and by e-mail and even by phone. Things have changed a lot in my life, but there is nothing like a friend remembering the day that you were born.

Thank you to the community of people who enrich my life and remind me of the relational, gracious God that we serve. Thanks especially to my wife for making me feel special once again.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Life with a toddler

Miriam's 2nd birthday is fast approaching, and with it the realization that we no longer have a baby. Our little girl is a full-fledged toddler now. What a bittersweet blessing to watch her grow up! The difficulties of toddlerhood are well-known...the desire for independence, the struggles with communication, the occasional tantrum. I was (at least somewhat) prepared for the negatives. What I didn't hear as much about are the joys of this age. Yes, communication is limited, but -WOW! - she can talk! She can answer questions and express desires. It is amazing to realize we are having "converasations", however brief, with our daughter. Another beauty of this age is watching the imagination bloom. We have pretend tea parties every day. She takes care of her baby dolls with tender care. And her current favorite game, strangely enough, is pretending to sleep. One more amazing part of toddlerhood is seeing her develop a sense of humor. Miriam sends the most magical laughter through our house multiple times a day. Putting a washcloth on her foot at bathtime and pretending it is a baby - that's funny. Hiding behind the curtains and waiting for us to find her- that is also funny. Trying to wake up a "sleepy" Papa - very funny. Yes, there are moments in the post office or the grocery store where I think...."Everyone is looking at us and thinking 'I'm never having a kid'". But most of the time, truly, I find toddlerhood full of beautiful surprises. Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Valentines and Volunteers, by Sarah

Today we had a Valentine party for the teen girls. I’ve been planning this for a while, and accordingly, ordered items from Oriental Trading Company. I felt quite pleased with myself for being so organized and allowing plenty of time….however, the mail system or the company or something, must have sensed my smugness. I waited and waited. No package. I was forced to make a last minute shopping trip to purchase all the items that were sitting in a box somewhere in the post office. The package arrived, literally, half an hour before the party began. Far too late, of course. Nonetheless, we had a great time with the plan B purchases. (And I have learned to always have a plan B!)

We also chose to invite the 4th and 5th grade girls to come along for the fun. This is the second recent activity that we invited the younger girls to attend. The older girls have a chance to show some positive leadership and the younger girls get a taste of “youth group” life. It also helps me envision where this girls’ group will be in a year or two. It’s a good thing.

Our teen girls group has been through some transitions lately, namely 3 of our girls moving. Only one moved completely out of town, but the other two, for various reasons and despite our efforts, are less connected now. They were very much missed at the party today, not just for the extra hands, but also because of what they each add to the group as individuals. We were, however, really blessed to have lots of adult volunteers. There were 4 other adults there, not counting myself. Praise God! Bob and I have often been in situations where we were IT – the adult presence, period. It is through the grace of God and the many good women here in Tulsa that we had so much help today. Having extra assistance is especially wonderful because every girl that comes has to be picked up and taken home. This adds considerable time to every event we plan, and my car will only hold 3 girls. So thank you, Lord, for sending so many kind and eager women my way.

Having a daughter of my own now, I am beginning to see how quickly time passes. These girls will be women in such a short time. Please, please pray for them. They have so much good in their hearts.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trio of sickness

For the last two weeks, Sarah, Miriam, and I have been fighting sickness. First we had a stomach bug. When I say "we," that's what I mean. This is the first time that I have ever experienced us all sick at the same time. My wife has done a great job being a nursing mom even when she feels nauseated. She has been reading some Agatha Christie books, which I believe are her way to discover new ways to get rid of her old husband. Ha.

Now we have respiratory/cold/flu bugs. Miriam is taking breathing treatments and is getting better. We have been watching way more TV than we normally do, especially for Miriam.

Reflecting on these two weeks, I think that God has taught me a lot more about taking care of self and family. I think about the times that I just toughed it out with physical sickness in college and grad school. Not only did I make it tough on my body, but also for those around me that I was contaminating with my germs. I just thought things would get better--eventually. What I did was leave little a less room for God to work. I believed a little less in the providence of God. I see now that if I lay home for two weeks sick, Kingdom work is still being done. Sure I want to get out there and touch some teen's lives. Maybe it's time learn to trust that God is already working. He is doing things that I may not have noticed while in the trenches.

Pray for us.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Buying a Car in the Hood

Last summer, a family that I know through Contact saved up $1500 to buy a reliable car. They have several children and money is tight. I even got to go to one car lot with one of the parents. At the end of the process, they bought a car from a car lot that I knew nothing of--thankfully. The first sign of a problem was that the car was actually delivered to them by tow truck. Second, they drove the car a few miles down the road, and the car started overheating. When they called the guy who sold them the vehicle, he told them to bring the car into their shop. The car was never fixed. I provided them with phone numbers for legal assistance. Before too long, the guy left town.

Today, I found out another sad point to the story. When the car was brought to the "service shop," they (the guy and his buddies) took the car to get crushed without the family's permission. The mom relayed this to me and said that they just counted their losses, moving on. My jaw dropped. How can this happen?!

Lord, may you bring your justice. May your justice roll into their neighorhood and bring what is right into this broken, crushed world.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cell Phone Spirituality

I have finally realized that spirituality comes out in many different forms, especially among teens. How many of you have ever passed on an e-mail or text message forward that says the following: GOD TOLD ME TO TELL U THAT EVERYTHING U R GOING THRU IS ALREADY TAKEN CARE OF. IF U BELIEVE HIM SND 2 TEN PPL? We have a teen in our ministry here at Contact who sends about one spiritual text message forward a week. After being initially annoyed at some of the more "magical ones" (the ones that claim that a blessing or a phone call will happen if you send to ten people), this one struck me hard. I realized that this was her expression of a spiritual life. That text mesage came to her unannounced as a proclamation from God. Forwarding to another person is an act of love and service and comfort. Forwarding is a sign that God is up to something in this world right now. Thanks for sending that one, just don't send me those magical formula ones!

By the way, there is a book out in the Amazon Book Kingdom by the title of this post. Grace and peace.