Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun at the Firehouse

Landen at Pasadena Fire Station 31

Sabbatical Update, One Month Complete

One month ago today we left Cedarville on our sabbatical "loop" around America.  We've driven nearly 4,000 miles so far, been in the Atlantic and Pacific (and a stones' throw from the Gulf of Mexico), and been in or through thirteen states.  The basic theme of most of this part of our time has been "reconnecting."  After one week on our own, we have been with family and friends for much of the last three and a half weeks.  The end of this week will be the end of this theme, as we leave southern California to head north.  The next month will be dominated, Lord willing,' by time alone "refreshing and reflecting."  One week will be at Hume Lake Christian Camps, and three weeks will be on Whidbey Island, on the Washington coast.

Our family at Myrtle Beach, SC
It has been a joy to have time with all our family together--something that doesn't happen often when we live in three different parts of the country.  A year between visits with a grandson leave you breathless with the changes, even when you do your best to keep up on Skype every few weeks.  And phone calls and Skype chats are a poor substitute for time together face to face, even when it's playing games that I continue to lose.  What happened to Dad's ability to win at everything?

With Nonnie and David Jones (my first "worship leader")
after 15 years apart.
We've had opportunities to connect with both of our  extended families, too, which doesn't happen too often with a number of them, and causes me to want to be more intentional about keeping family connections stronger.  I'm from a family That moved a lot, and so connections to previous towns growing up were lost, and cousins didn't stay "close" either, as we never lived near family.  Perhaps we can reverse that disconnectedness just a little bit.  Strangely, one of the little diversions I've picked up (thanks to David Jones, picture on left) is research on, and learning more about our past--who knew Kathy had British nobility in her background (not me, though).

With Michael and Kerry Stream and our gondolier,
Scottsdale, AZ
I don't get many opportunities to worship in other churches, and we've been able to do that almost every week.  It was so special on Father's Day to be standing next to our daughter, Rebekah,  worshiping the Lord with her in her church!

We have also had the chance on our journey to spend some time with friends we have not seen in a long time, and be reminded of the ways God worked in our lives during the times we were together.  Sometimes the busy-ness of the present drives the memories of great times, wonderful people, and God's signal blessings far into the recesses of memory.  Some of those have come back to the front of our minds in powerful ways.  Times with friends from former churches have been used to renew and deepen our thankfulness for ways God worked, lessons that were learned, and the incredible richness of relationships in Christ.  We have had the blessing of offering some encouragements to others as well, but feel much more blessed than those who have been so kind and hospitable along our way.

Well, those are a few thoughts about our first month.  Again, thank you so much to our wonderful Grace family for providing this needed time away--I hope you'll see that you've "invested" in us powerfully through these months.  We've been reminded of the difficulty of being apart through the unexpected homegoing of our dear friend Gerry Shumaker.  We got to tour Israel twice together, but while I showed him around there, he'll be the one who knows the ropes when we are together in Heaven!

And now, we are off to visit a dear friend, and then pick up our grandson and take him to ride on a fire engine--thanks to our host and dear friend, Chip Johnson!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Encouragement

Last week, as we worshiped with The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX, Pastor Shea Sumlin spoke about dealing with "father issues" from a biblical perspective.  One particular point stuck with me that I would share with all dads as we get ready for our "day" tomorrow.  He suggested that there are three things our children need to hear from us often.
"I love you."
"I'm proud of you."
"You are good at this" (whatever the "this" is that is important for their lives).
I don't think he missed the mark when he mentioned that God the Father modeled this perfectly in his repeated pronouncements from heaven concerning Jesus.  The Father said what he said for our benefit, certainly, but we should remember that he also spoke for his son's encouragement in his ministry as well!
"This is my beloved Son" ("beloved"--I love him)
"in whom I am well pleased" (I am proud of him--or even "that's my boy")
"listen to Him" (Why should we listen to him?  Because he's good at saying what we need to hear!) 
Fathers, enjoy your special day, but fulfill your special calling.  Let your kids hear these words that build them up today, and regularly from now on.