Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Traveling Storyteller

Written June 13:
We had a great surprise yesterday evening. Our former neighbor (of 5 ½ yrs) came through town on Army business. He made it in time to catch the baseball games, and we caught up a little while they played. Then he came over afterwards to visit. Let me tell you something about Mr. Tony. He is a great communicator. He spends a lot of his time listening, watching, and really observing situations. Then he analyzes things, possibly rationalizes some things, certainly tries to understand people and things, and then PRESTO he has a great story! But the best part is that he can tell stories very well. I’ve heard some of his former Iraq stories before, and was captivated at the time, but I don’t remember him frequently telling stories. So we were very blessed last night that he stopped by and that he was also in a story-telling mood. He certainly had an audience! With the boys, over rainbow sherbert, he told stories of his 3 children (including twins). He had them laughing so hard that sherbert was almost coming out of their noses! He told Will stories of Iraq at the kitchen table while I tended to the baby upstairs. Once she was sleeping, we stayed up almost until the midnight hour listening to great stories about these two Iraqi families that were just recently relocated to the U.S. Both of the men in each family were interpreters that assisted Tony in Iraq, and likely helped to spare his life on many occasions. Their own lives were threatened because of their willingness to assist the U.S., and so they were forced to leave their country and come here. Having only one relative here, they called Mr. Tony after awhile, and he helped to relocate and assist them. That just begins to tell you what kind of people he and his wife are. They are a pair of the kindest, most loving, and giving people we know! They share their lives, genuinely, with others! But back to the storytelling. At one moment during the stories, I thought back to episodes of Little House on the Prairie, when travelers passed through and stayed with families and the entertainment was storytelling back then. Or when Indians came back from hunting the buffalo, and shared their great stories around the campfire. There was no TV, no internet, no CNBC news! There were stories, told be great storytellers. Those who traveled much definitely had the better stories…and those whose homes they visited listened eagerly, being taken to new adventures, solely by human interaction. What an amazing thing they had going for them! Our family certainly enjoyed a bit of it last night! Thanks to Mr. Tony and his sweet wife (for encouraging our meet-up) we were able to share an evening together…the good old fashioned way.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Slide Show Below

So, I can't figure out how to delete a blog, and I accidently posted a few wrong ones. Anyone want to help me on that one?
As for the slideshow below: Instead of going to a professional photographer for Brielle's six month old photos, we asked our good friend (and also undercover professional photographer) Tiffany to take them for us. A result of that was this: tons of pictures! I kept a few favorites back for printing out in a package, but there were lots of great pictures still left over. So I thought I would share a few here:

Brielle Six months old

Monday, June 16, 2008

Simple church. House church.

Simple Church. House Church.
As you may recall from a previous post, there seems to be some misconception out there about what a house church is, how it functions, and why we are a part of it. So, I write this to clarify and explain. Not to justify, as I know that each person has their own views, journey, personal relationship with God, etc… And each of us choose our church family for reasons that we so believe in our hearts. So, in no way am I persuading, justifying, or anything like that. I’m just clarifying and simplifying.
It seems that maybe the easiest thing to do would be to post a link into here from somewhere on the WWW (house2house) or other things that have been written about house churches. But that wouldn’t really tell my story exactly, though I’m sure there would be many coinciding thoughts.
No, when I think about what my church family, what our house church really means to me, I think about the body of Christ. A family of believers. A body that is made of many parts, which makes it functional and useful to the kingdom. A family that encourages each other to grow in His grace and love. A group of brothers and sisters that are interested in reaching the community around them, and touching them with Jesus’ loving kindness. That’s just the core.
When I think about our house church, I think about the individuals, and how it is more about relationship than it is about meetings (although we must meet together to have relationship, eh?) Relationship with our Savior, relationship with each other.
So, to explain, I thought it best to tell a little about what we do, and a lot about the people in our family of believers, who are very dear to me.
We meet every Sunday (usually) at a different house each Sunday. We all know where each other lives, and if someone new comes, they get directions & a mapquest. We send out an email sometime during the week, stating where we will meet, what the main food will be (we always eat together), and what we can bring. We then reply to that email (sent back to everyone in the group) of what we will be bringing for food, so we don’t get lots of the same. We decide in advance who will facilitate the meeting. “Facilitate” doesn’t necessary mean “lead” or “teach,” it just means that someone has a thought, idea, or plan, and sort of directs the group from being led into weird directions. However, if someone has something on their heart to share, a prayer request, or another idea, the meeting can be led into other directions. And usually those are the best ones. We generally always share the things that are going on in our lives, pray for each other, and dive into the Word, then share what God reveals. It’s very encouraging and uplifting. Then, we eat. That is always good too! Sometimes we break bread and share communion, but it’s in no way ritualistic, and can occur at any time during our gathering, including with our meal. Sometimes we sing. Sometimes it’s accapella, sometimes we have a guitar, or two. But we always praise God, worship Him, and give Him the glory for our being, our meeting, and for His Spirit with us. And that’s what matters most. I always leave feeling refreshed, encouraged, and a part of something greater.
Now, that is just what happens on Sundays. More important is the people who make up this wonderful family. And they can be seen shining throughout the week. We don’t all randomly hang out with each other, some relationships have grown faster than others, but we meet with at least one or two other people in our group enough to know that others are meeting with each other. So it’s all connected. Sometimes we do fun activities together, sometimes we do service projects together. Sometimes we fast and pray for a person, situation, neighborhood, etc… on the same day. We don’t have to be together to do that. But we’re connected. Sometimes we call, email, or text each other. You get the idea. It goes without saying, but all of these people are passionate for God, living for Him radicals, who desire nothing more than to grow closer to Him, glorify Him, and live out a life that testifies to His Greatness. So, now having said this, I won’t repeatedly type that for every person, and, here are the people:
Sara: Sara is a fun, very extrovert person. She found our group via the internet about a year ago. She has a great personality and smile, and she fully engages with the people she communicates with. She was involved in ministry to youths before relocating to this area. Right now she works full time while pursuing her masters degree. So I always feel honored that she shares her time with us when she can.
Amanda: Amanda and her husband, Grant, are also pursuing their masters degrees while working full time jobs. Amanda is a very down to earth, and get to the point kind of person. She likes order, and keeps our group organized and adds structure when it is needed. She reveals honesty, humility, and desire to reach the lost. She has a great sense of humor and feels very comfortable in her own skin.
Grant: Amanda’s husband. Grant is a very outgoing person. He was a youth ministry leader in his former career. He likes to laugh and have fun, but takes things (like relationships, outreach, and his personal mission) very seriously. Grant pays attention to what people say, very specifically. Sometimes he will rephrase/restate what someone is trying to say, for his own clarification, and for the benefit of others, which is a blessing.
Phil: Phil desires new ways to reach the lost and hungry, and he is open to new ideas of how to do so. He likes movies, gardening, and music; and not just for enjoyment. He likes to observe, serve, and listen to and enjoy these activities for the purpose of seeking God in them. Which is really cool. He is currently heading up a mission in our area to grow a community garden that will benefit participants and help teach others how to grow. Julie: Julie is so cool that she has a blog of her own. Julie is a person who really knows what she likes and doesn’t like. But she is also really open to new things, new places, new ideas, etc…which makes her very unique. She searches for opportunities for outreach and to minister to others, and when God opens the doors, she is there. She loves to laugh and have fun and its obvious that she enjoys being around everyone.
Elise: Elise is a college student who we know through a former ministry that we were involved in together. She has a very energetic and loving personality. She lights up in a group of people, and she loves being actively involved in ministries, prayer groups, and bible studies. She also loves to have fun, laugh, and joke around. And she always has a hug for someone just when they need it.
Richie: Richie and his wife, Kelly, joined us a couple of years ago when he and an old friend from a college in Nebraska (Grant) ran into each other . Richie is involved in Civil War history reenactments and shines God’s light to the community there within, while also sharing that interest with many of our group. He loves doing fun things and gets so excited sometimes that it obviously ignites others! He takes time to listen to and play with the kids in our group. He also introduced many of us to the world of geo caching. Kelly: (his wife) Kelly is very grounded in her faith. When we meet together and she speaks, it becomes evident that she spends much time in the Word, in prayer, and in meditation. Her excitement about our gatherings is always encouraging and catchy. She takes the time to affirm people when she converses with them. She seeks God in each of the ministries that He has called her to, and intentionally makes life meaningful. She loves nature with a passion, specifically the mountains and woods in Montana, and she is also a birthing Doula.
Dustri: Dustri is Richie and Kelly’s first (and so far only) child. She is a sweet and very special 1 ½ year old. She loves to laugh and is very social amongst our church family. She loves to run around barefoot and has very tough little feet! We have enjoyed watching and taking part in her growth since her birth.
Lana: Lana is a woman on mission for God. We know her from our former church family, which she still meets with. She is married to Chris, and they have two children. She is always looking for ways to share God with anyone who comes into her path, and she is constantly seeking a path for God to set her feet on that would lead her to people thirsty and hungry for Him. Everything she does is with a kingdom agenda. She keeps her eyes open, her mind alert, and her heart ready to serve.
Brooke: Brooke is Lana’s daughter. She is ten years old. She loves to be creative and she is always smiling and talking or asking questions. Grant: He is Lana’s eight-year-old son. He appears to get very excited whenever we meet together and is always offering to help people carry things.
Todd: One day Todd started hanging out with our group and he fit in so easily that it began to seem like he had already been there for a long time. He is a teacher who loves to travel, and Europe seems to be his favorite destination(?). He is interested in the environment, helping out people who speak little or no English yet, and he thinks globally. He inspires the rest of us to do the same. He has a genuine interest in people, community, the earth, and in taking action.
Ken: Ken and his wife Linda actually reside in Ashland City, about a 30 minute drive away. There is not an existing house church already meeting in AC, so they’ve been meeting with us to get a feel for house church, and to see how it functions. That has actually turned into a very loving, family-type relationship with them. They are older than most of us, and it is refreshing that they are so open to a non-traditional relational atmosphere. Linda: Ken’s wife has an amazing open and loving heart. She is kind and compassionate and makes people feel important when she speaks to them. Both Ken and Linda are non-judging, relaxed, and open-to-the-leading of God kind of people.
Tiffany: Tiffany and Tim are the couple behind the vision and motivation that planted this house/simple church. Tiffany loves being around people. She loves working hard, gardening, camping, hiking, building fires, or whatever has to do with being outside, with someone, or in a group. She is a woman of prayer who constantly lifts up our group and individuals to God.
Tim: Tim is definitely a very social and people-loving kind of guy. He is a great organizer, and very much a do-er, not just a say-er. He has read more books than anyone I know, including myself, and he reads things that stretch a person’s mind - he always seems up for a good challenge. He does not conform to the flow, nor to other people’s opinions or expectations. He is himself. He loves to encourage others in their goals, dreams, and talents.
And of course my children are Joshua, Tyler, & Brielle: Josh brings kindness and fun to our group. He is respectful of others and really enjoys anytime we meet. Tyler asks just about every Sunday, “Where are we meeting today?” They both get excited when we are hanging out with anyone from our church family, and they enjoy going new places each week. So far for Brielle, it is the only thing she knows of what a body of believers look like…each family member has watched her grow, from my abdomen growing to her coming into this world, and over the past six months. They all love her, and she loves them.
On a personal note, this wonderful group of people has been a huge blessing to my life and to my family’s life. They challenge and encourage me to grow. They do not let me hide out. They have helped us when we have been in need. They have prayed for us, and for people we’ve asked them to.
Though we’ve never actually done this, when I envision what house church looks like to me, personally, it is this simple: A group of people, standing in a circle, holding hands, and looking to God.
That may sound a little corny…………but it is a three-cord rope, strong, and strengthened by God, and filled by His Spirit with His glory, and all are welcomed in.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How is one "Crunchy?"

Recently, I've been reading on a new parenting forum called GCM (Gently Christian Mothers). I kept seeing the word "crunchy" pop up. I had to ask! Emily (saturnfire16), was the first person who explained it to me. She had very many thought-provoking explanations...and I thought that they were very interesting since she has made them from a Christian perspective. I thought it was very mind-expanding to simply read why she believes what she does, and so I asked her if I could use her responses for my blog, and she graciously agreed. So, here are her takes on being "crunchy":

Well, like AP (Attachment Parenting), being crunchy isn't a list of do and don'ts, or meeting certain criteria. It's just a lifestyle that has certain things in common, and a general life philosophy in common, and takes on different roles for different people. Personally, I believe that God designed our bodies to be healthy, when we eat the food he made and use the cures for sickness that he created. I believe that he designed my body to be capable of giving birth, that he made my breasts to nourish my baby and my hips to carry her. That my children are a blessing, and that I should treat them with love and respect. That he created them with a natural curiosity and love of learning and desire to please. That he gave us dominion over this earth and animals to care for them and not destroy them. So for me, that has led to babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, GBD (Grace-Based Discipline), homebirth, raw foods and traditional foods, homeopathy, homeschooling/unschooling, cloth diapering, not vaxing or circumcising, sustainable living etc. Some of this is new for me too, and I'm always learning! There are a lot of ways I'd like to be more "green," and the cloth diapering will be a new thing with this baby due in July. I just try to always be learning and adjusting, with the goal of getting as close to living the way God designed us to live as possible. But not all of these things are for everyone, and that's ok! And since our culture is mostly so far removed from "natural," I think it is often just a matter of people not knowing the options that exist. For me, it's fun to find out! I'm thinking that crunchy is probably a more liberal, hippy, coastal word, so I'm guessing that there wouldn't be many people using it in the Midwest, but I could be wrong.

*when I asked her to elaborate on some of these things she replied:

I try to eat mostly raw foods, which means eating them in the state that God created them. So uncooked fruits, veges, nuts and seeds. Obviously some things have to be cooked, so I try to eat them in the "traditional" ways. I'm just learning about soaking grains, which makes them easier to digest. I'm also just learning about fermented foods, like keifer and kombucha. Many of our ancestors did this. Our modern day sour cream and yogurt are takes off of traditional fermented foods, but with additives and so processed that it takes away a lot of the nutritional value. I do eat meat and dairy, so I'm not a vegan or vegetarian, though I think these diets are good too. I get my meat and eggs from a local farmer who raises them free-range on organic pastures. I'm trying to find somewhere local to buy raw (unpasteurized) milk, but in the meantime I buy organic from the store. I just joined my first CSA (community supported agriculture), so starting in June, I'll be getting fresh, organic produce from a local farmer. The way a CSA works is you basically buy a share of the crops up front, and then get a weekly variety of whatever is in season.People will argue back and forth about whether it's best to eat raw or traditional or vegan or vegetarian. But the one thing all these diets have in common is that they avoid processed and refined foods, additives, preservatives, excitotoxins etc. Basically, its just eating the food that God made vs. eating food that someone in a white coat in a lab made. For a variety of reasons, some people can handle meat, and others don't feel as good when they eat it. I think that when someone is sick, the first thing they should look to is their diet and see what might be the cause of the symptoms.
Co-sleeping's not for everyone. The important thing is that you and your baby are happy with whatever you're doing. I loved it, because I couldn't stand the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to nurse. We did it for 2 years and probably would have gone longer, except now I'm pregnant, so I didn't want two in my bed. But she was ready for her own bed, and the transition was really easy.
For me, not doing vaccinations is just an extension of the rest of my beliefs. God created our bodies to be strong and healthy, when we take care of them. He didn't make a mistake that only modern medicine can cure. I did research them, and everything I found just convinced me more not to do them.
Sustainable living is kind of like environmentalism, but I don't like being grouped with tree huggers. So things like recycling, less materialism and consumerism. Just living simply. Organic food is sustainable because it doesn't destroy the land.
Sorry I'm so long winded! I guess I just get excited about all this stuff.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The pool

So far. So good. She likes the pool. But that could change, so I am not thrown for a loop. Because the first time we tried infant cereal mixed with breastmilk, she liked it. Then we tried it mixed with formula. She liked it. Then we tried it with breastmilk (literally the third try), she turns red, screams, and acts like it tastes like sour apples.
One of the best advices on baby's schedules, likes, and dislikes was this: "It will change. Girl, just wait, it will change. It's always changing"
It's been great advice because it's kept me flexible. (thanks, Rachel, who also gave me lots of encouragement on breastfeeding in public)
So, maybe Brielle intends to nurse until she leads herself on into solids someday...whatever. Who cares really? She'll tell me, and I'll listen, and we will hopefully live in happiness and not frustration. I don't think I would have neccessarily pursed Attatchment Parenting...but Brielle forces me into it, and I cannot even tell her how grateful I am for that. Thank you God, for giving me instinct to trust You when I personally do not trust even my own mothering instinct sometimes.
By the way, Brielle fell asleep while IN the pool two days in a row already. That is good. But again, it may change (as things seem to do right after I post a blog about them). I'm just staying hopeful, thankful, and aware!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Weekend Camping Trip

We went camping this past weekend. While we were there, I wrote (by hand) as often as I could (about the camping experience). But, I don't have time currently to type all of that in. We are having a slightly difficult week, since we have no air conditioner for the main level of the house and we are doing cubscout camp every day. So I am just going to post the highlights here.

It was HOT at times.

Best thing the kids could have ever wanted to do while camping: ride bikes.

Brielle's first time in a Lake (too bad it wasn't in Arkansas water)...
Josh caught a fish:

Tyler discovered a disabled turtle (his back left leg was not really there). Turns out it made him more cautious than most turtles and he was pretty fiesty!

I was happy most of the time:

Actually, this picture was taken the Friday we got there, and I was pretty happy about being outside. What I didn't know is that the great outdoors would not entertain my sweet baby like I thought it would. I also didn't know that she would dislike the heat that much, or that she would sleep very little, which would cause her to be quite grumpy.
We did enjoy some fairly good meals thanks to some of my new friends at GCM, and we learned how to make campfire donuts! YUMMMMMM!!!!!
There were fierce sets of thunderstorms that roared through our campsite area on the 2nd night we were there and I was certainly reminded of the awesome power of God. I also had a defining revelation while I lay there in amazement and fear. God is so powerful! And He is also so gentle, so loving, so very patient with me.
We were glad we went camping...but I think it may be a while before we get excited about going again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

May Pictures

A Community Garden

Disclaimer: I know nothing about actual gardening, whether it be flowers or vegetables. Anyone can tell you that I don't grow things (those poor house plants) that involves soil, water, and sunlight. I am gifted in other areas that involve creativity, maybe, yes. But not gardening. However, I have some very talented friends and God gave them a love for His great earth and His design for it to produce forth edible vegetation. And they are just wild with possibilities!
I am not sure (exactly) how it is going to work, but they are working on a community garden! They are also partnering with another local house church that has already begun a garden also. They are working alongside them to plant, work, and harvest the produce there. Last Saturday (when I was getting my hair cut) the boys were out working with Phil & Tiff on that garden.
Here are some pictures of what has begun out there: