Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Isaac & Rebekah

A Godly Marriage.

I feel kind of cliche writing about this, but I guess it's also important that God is teaching me things about it. says Greg and I have 347 days until we get married; this seems like an eternity and in instant at the same time. Tonight one verse in Genesis jumped out at me. It reveals an intimate portrait of a husband and a wife living under God's plan and provision.

Genesis 25:21 "Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer and his wife Rebekah became pregnant."

Isaac knew that he was the blessed child that God had promised his parents for so many years. He knew that God had promised to fulfill his covenant to His people through his lineage, but yet his wife was barren.

Beth Moore wrote an interesting commentary about this passage, "God wasn't about to let such an important promise seem naturally fulfilled. Had Isaac and Rebekah conceived the first year, they would have been tremendously less attentive to spiritual purpose and divine participation."

For some reason, God chose women to bare children instead of men, and too often as our modern society shows, men can become detached from the whole process after their initial participation. God did not want Isaac to feel detached from the importance of the children with whom He was about to bless him & Rebekah. Rebekah could not fulfill God's plan on her own, she needed Isaac to pray over her so they could fulfill God's plan together.

Still, I can't help but notice it was 20 years between their marriage and the ultimate birth of Esau & Jacob. Did it take Isaac 20 years to think God might want him to pray over Rebekah, or did he do it all along, and God just waited to fulfill the promise? Either way, it does show the growth of a Godly man desiring to lead his marriage in a Godly way.

We women in modern America are too often able to "do it on our own." Whatever it is, whether in jobs or raising children or whatever. There has been a trend in Hollywood for late30s and early40s actresses to adopt or have a baby without a man around. But this goes against what God wants for his people. There is a generation of complacent men in America because women have not allowed them to learn to lead.

I am thrilled that I have a man who desires to lead our relationship, and I pray I am never a hindrance in what God is building in him. I love the idea of God blessing him so dramatically that his prayers over me are more powerful than any I could pray on my own.

I guess God does like us to be in community.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Refreshing Relationships

Last night was an incredible reminder of the value and necessity of having Godly female relationships.

Sher Vogel & Katie Pepiot came over to visit Steph & I and have dinner with us. We all met at VT, and at various times we have been together in classes and homegroup and mission trips. Our paths have happened to recross here in VA Beach for a short time, so dinner was required.

Katie returned in August from 2 years serving in the Peace Corps in South Africa, and Monday October 5th Sher leaves for the Peace Corps in Ethiopia.

The night was really relaxed. I enjoyed cooking for everyone because I rarely have anyone to cook for but me. We talked about life now and future plans and memories from back at VT. All four of us have been in South Africa in the last year, so it was great to talk about each of our experiences. It was really good to see how God has been training all four of us in different ways since we left Blacksburg.

Steph, Katie & I wanted to pray over Sher before she leaves next week but she would not allow us to do so until we premitted her to pray over us in turn. That's just the kind of woman Sher is =)

I was so refreshed by the night. There are times I feel like Elijah that I want to complain about being "the only one left". That "no one understands what I'm going through." And just when I start to fall into those states, God reminds me of all those around me who are serving the Lord with passionate and pure hearts.

It is nights like these that remind me how important it is to have a consistent Sabbath and to leave margin in my life. It is only in these times that I allow space for God to change my perspective.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Honestly... I really do like Blogging

I know you wouldn't believe it based on the extended time in between posts, but my excuse this time is guilt. I haven't made time to finish writing about Africa so I didn't want to write about other stuff until I finished. I have now given up on my idealism. I'll post Africa #3 as soon as I can.

The most important part of Africa that I didn't write about is...

I'M ENGAGED! Ok, so all of you who are reading this already know this. I just kept this off the blog for a while to make sure everybody knew.

This is a staged picture, but the emotion is still real; it was only a couple minutes after he proposed. (It was taken by this poor cleaning man whom I think we scared the heck out of.)

We are thrilled to be engaged, it still feel surreal some days. The two Tswana words I learned in the village we went to in South Africa were "mohonyana" and "makoti" those are the words for "bridegroom" and "bride," respectively. That's the closest they could teach us to fiance. I was also told that the $4 ring Greg bought me as a temporary engagement ring, must be worn on my right hand. The Tswana tradition moves the ring hand from the right ring finger to the left ring finger at the wedding.

I absolutely love the ring Greg designed & had made. It is a simple solitaire with a textured band. We got to go pick it up about 10 days after we got engaged. It fits beautifully.

We think we've set a date (barring any crazy circumstances) September 25, 2010. This date honestly came about based on Hokie football. Getting married in Blacksburg in the fall means we had to choose a weekend when there wasn't a game because otherwise there wouldn't be any hotel rooms and traffic would be impossible. 367 days =)

After all the planning and things to prepare for the trip to Africa, I thought that the load would lighten post-trip, but alas, I have an incredible ability to fill any vacuum of free time in my life. Still, it's good fun things. Fuse is relaunching with a big series on October 18th, so that will be a cool day. (Also indecently, the three year mark for Greg & I dating & the Newcomb's 1-year anniversary). And of course wedding planning is now officially in full swing.

Speaking of, I had really hoped wedding dress shopping would be more fun than it is. So many people told me "Oh! I bought the first wedding dress I tried on!" Alright... Saturday was dress shop #4 for me and after at least a dozen dresses at each store I have exactly 2 possible options. And neither of them made me really say "wow!" Aren't I supposed to feel something when I put my wedding dress on?

Anyway, it's not as much of a fun process as I had hoped. Probably a lot of the stress comes from I'm pretty sure I know what I want, I just can't find it. I want to design my own, but that's quite expensive and time consuming. Years ago my mother banned me from making my own dress. She is right about this mind you... too many dances in high school she was helping me hem the dress 10 minutes before my date was too arrive. So I guess I'll just keep hunting.

That's all the fun stuff for now. Sorry for the delay in posting, I'll try to be more consistent. More Africa and a new talk up soon!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Africa Segment #2

Segment #2: Kimiad!

Kimiad itself is a phenomenal story of God’s provision & blessing. I cannot do the story justice, but I’ll suffice to say that the church was essentially given 120 acres of land 45 minutes south of Johannesburg (if you’re curious, google “Heidleberg, South Africa” and Kimiad is a few miles from there.) There was a former retreat center on the land that had fallen into disrepair, but in the last few years Eastside has worked to restore the buildings and grounds. They are still working on what God’s plan will be for the entirety of the land, but for now the restored retreat center will serve as a launching and training ground for volunteers during the 2010 World Cup. After the World Cup, they'r eho

So we arrived late Tuesday night but were warmly welcomed by the caretakers of Kimiad, Piet & Linda, and their daughter Sam. The most dramatic observation we all had upon arriving was that it is cold. Not like late evening September chill, but like a no-kidding, need-a-ski-jacket cold. It doesn’t matter that this country is named “South” and “Africa” both of which Americans associate with being sunny and hot, it is cold. But unfortunately, it’s not cold for long enough in the year to require all buildings to have heat and certainly none of the cinderblock cabins at Kimiad. Night #1: 3-4 blankets.

The following morning everyone came to breakfast in about 4 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, a ski hat and a scarf. Peit led us in studying the Word, then offered us breakfast as he told us the plan for the day. There is a building in the upper part of the grounds that is next on the list for restoration. A church in Virginia paid for drywall and contractors to turn the two large rooms into 14 small bedrooms. Our job was to work around the contractors to prepare the rest of the building. The girls were in charge of painting the roof and the external beams which had rusted over the years. Just before we arrived they had given the metal roof an acid bath, which allowed us to start right in.

When Peit told us our jobs, he said the girls would be painting and the guys would be inside demo-ing walls. I’ll be honest, I was kind of upset because why did the guys get the fun jobs breaking things? Then we saw the wall.

The guys worked in a cloud of dust chisseling at the cement for hours. The girls realized we were grateful to be able to work outside. Once the sun came up, the land heated up nicely and the roofwork was plesent to downright fun.

The second night we got a bit smarter and most of the girls filled up waterbottles with hot water to heat up the bottom of our beds. Night #2: 3-4 blankets, 1 hot water bottle.

The 2nd day was a continuation of the 1st days work, but that night added some complexity. The plan for our first work after Kimiad had been to go to the rural area of Marapane about 2 hours north of Pretoria. However, the day before we arrived in SA, the pastor we would be working with in Marapane called and told us he had spoken to the chief in the village who said their would be riots in the weekend and it would be unsafe for us to come. So as we worked, we started to pray like crazy that God would open the doors we needed to work where he wanted us.

Over the next couple days, God did open doors (really cool story I'll write about later), and we got connected to a young paster and his wife in a rural town called Mametlake. This word is in Tswana, a tribal language spoken in most of the region. I still cannot pronounce the third syllable of this town's name; it requires a significant ammount of spit in the back of your mouth. But you can Americanize it and make it sound something like "ma-ma-clark-ay"

The team worked at Kimiad through Saturday night... Then set off for our adventure in Mametlake early Sunday morning =)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Africa Segment #1

Ok, so much for the constant Africa updates. I tried. Still, in my defense I have had little to no internet access and each day has been filled to about 93% capacity.

To attempt to put into one post the work we have been doing here would make a post too overwhelming to write or read, so I’ll post in a few different segments.

Segment #1:

The plane ride was basically uneventful, though I did almost no sleeping for the entirety of the 16 hours from Atlanta to Johannesburg.

This picture is the first view I had of African land. We crossed onto the continent over desert in Namibia just after the sun was rising. That was the moment I was glad to have a window seat.

I landed the night of Saturday the 18th and luckly Greg had no idea I was coming early. The pastor at Eastside Church, Riaan, lied exceptionally well and was able to get Greg to the airport without him suspecting. Standing in the airport we were discussing how comforting it is to know that our spiritual guide is an excellent liar.

Greg and I had three days together before the team arrived, which allowed for great reunion time for us before we began ministering to others. Greg took me around Pretoria, and I have gotten to put pictures to things he has described over the last 7 months. Sunday we went to church for the morning service, then in the afternoon my host family, the O’Briens, invited Greg and I to their house for a traditionally South African braai. This is essentially a bar-b-que but (no offence American loyalists) hot dogs and baked beans have nothing on South African braai food. I’m going to get a few recopies from Fransie (my host mom) before I leave, and hopefully I’ll be able to cook them back in the States.

After the braai, Greg and I went to a small nature right in the middle of the suburbs where we walked through and met some springbock, zebra, and got charged by an angry ostritch. It was quite a cliché African experience and I enjoyed every immensely.

Monday morning I went with Greg to work to help finalize some details for the team arriving, and then in the afternoon I got to go help Greg work with his boys soccer team at Sunnyside Primary School.

Tuesday we spent the day running errands and Tuesday evening the team landed just after 6:30pm South African time. We loaded up the cars, and drove the team 45 minutes south of Jo-burg to Kimiad, Eastside’s retreat center.
The following morning, work began.

Stay tuned for Segment #2 for details about Kimiad… =)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The older I get, the more I have come to value those who speak truth into my life. I also recognize that it is a rare quality to find, which makes it that much more valuable. Terri Dewey is one of those people who can always speak truth into my life. And she does not just speak truth, she speaks truth with grace and love that serves to soften and heal without diverting the truth itself.

I'm going to be very honest. For the last few days I have been angry at God for everything he has asked of Greg and I. That anger spilled over at Greg as I placed unreasonable demands on him, just to have an excuse to be angry with him. The root of the issue was my anger at God for where Greg and I are. We've battled years of depression together and in the last 24 months, we've lived in the same city for only 2 of them, and for 6 of them we haven't even been on the same continent. We have watched as time after time couples around us have started dating, gotten engaged, and gotten married. Why is it easy for them? We have worked hard to make people feel comfortable around us, even to the point of putting our relationship last. Have we been punished for desiring to serve others?

As I poured this out to Terri tonight, I told her that I recognize that I'm being selfish, and I need to learn to get over all of this. Most of the time I can get a hold of these battles, I can stop comparing us to others, and I can be pleased that we are honoring God through our relationship. There are just times when those get the best of me.

Once I had released this to me she pointed something out that I hadn't even considered:

Have you even grieved about this? I hear you say you're trying to get over this, but is that really offering it as a sacrifice to the Lord? It's ok to bring the desires of your heart to the Lord and pour them out before Him, and it's ok to be hurt when they are not fulfilled. It is when we chose to die to those desires that we are truly making a sacrifice to Him.

What great truth. I had stopped looking at this relationship, our struggles, and this year apart as a sacrifice, and started to see it as a punishment. I must choose to lay the desires of my heart on God's alter, even if I do it in a shower of tears. By definition, I cannot make a sacrifice to the Lord if I give him something from which I've already detached myself.

And if I don't give him this, what else in my life is truly a sacrifice? There is literally no where else that God has asked me to offer to him against the desires of my heart. The rest of my heart is filled and overflowing. My needs are more than met, I have a house, and food, and a car, and friends, and a great job, and a church in which to serve, and a wonderful family... the list could run for pages. With all God has given me, I should be so lucky that I could place even the smallest offering on His alter.

Lord, take our relationship. Help me die to these desires each day - that they might be a fragrant offering to you.

Talk #2

I got to speak at Fuse for the 2nd time this past Sunday. It was exhilarating because so much of what I said was completely the Holy Spirit. Every time I practiced the talk I tripped up. There are a few transitions in the talk that I didn't get write until I said them on stage - that is only by the grace of God.

I still have much more to learn about teaching, and God is continuing to refine me. I don't like my tone of voice or inflection, and I say um to much, but that's part of the learning process. I just pray I have done nothing to butcher Biblical theology or historical timeline.

If you're interested... here goes talk #2 =)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Transformed Life

Right now, our church is reading through the New Testament and God has really been speaking to me in a lot of cool ways. Reading through scripture at such a rapid pace has shown me themes that are not necessarily apparent when reading a chapter or two in isolation.

I am beginning to recognize that so many of Paul's instructions to the churches have to do with how to live transformed. I know that phrase has become a little "Christianese" because of Romans 12:1, but it is everywhere in his letters. I think we as the 21st century church look way too much like the world around us. So many times I give just a little more than my neighbors who aren't Christians, or I act just a little kinder to the outcast at the office, or I serve others just a little more than those who don't know Jesus.

What if I allowed God to radically transform my mind? What if I really lived as the scriptures said the original disciples did - fully sold out, fired up, and honoring nothing but the Gospel? How different would my life really look? Would I spend my money differently? Would I spend my time differently? Would I begin to see and love the people around me as God does?

Still, I know this is a difficult balance. Floating in a balloon 30 feet above the earth may get me noticed, but it doesn't necessarily help anyone join me in the basket. In the same way, I need to live transformed, but walking next to and involved in my neighbor's lives.

What if our whole church did this? Could one transformed life, lead to a totally transformed church, and then lead to a transformed city? God, could you do this here? God, would you start with me?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fishing Nets

My church is three weeks into a series called the New Testament Challenge. This series has two goals 1) that by the end of this 56 days I can spell testament right on the first try and 2) that our church would all read through the New Testament in 56 days.

It has already been an incredibly challenging and enlightening experience. It's been far to long since I've read straight through the gospels and this time God allowed me to see the greater themes Jesus preached about. So many of his teachings revolved around the dangers of pride and the value of humility. Dozens of times he tried to reach out for the intellectual classes (the Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.) but they refused to believe because of their pride. Recognition of Jesus would require them to relinquish their position of authority and most were too prideful to submit to that. Jesus didn't go to the fishermen because he wanted a band of hobo followers - he went to them because they were the only ones who showed true humility.

My friend Cora and I were sitting around talking about how much faith Peter, Andrew, James & John had when they left their nets and followed Jesus. Everything they knew they walked away from because they recognized the power and authority of Jesus. Then Cora said to me, "I wonder sometimes what my nets are? What are the nets I'm holding onto that Jesus is calling me out of?"

I thought that was a great question. We as Christians can run the whole spectrum from leaving all of our nets and running after Jesus to being like the Pharisees and rejecting the call of Christ because of our pride and unbelief. I'm sure at some point in my walk I've been at all stages along that spectrum, but I'm hoping today I'm at least reasonably close to the side with the fishermen. Still, I know I have many nets, for example my job, my comfortable house, my collection of college hoodies (ok... i doubt God really cares about my hoodies, but I'm quite attached to them and it would be difficult to part with them so please don't send me on What Not To Wear because I know they would take them) that if God called me away from them, how quickly would I really respond? The disciples didn't hesitate, would I have the same response?

Interesting things to ponder...

What are your nets?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Post-It Notes

After the printing press, I consider the Post-It to be one of the greater inventions in the last millennia (by the way - it took me so many tries to spell that word, I gave up and looked it up on Wikipedia). Anyone who has been in my office knows there are post-it notes all over my desk, computer monitor, bulletin board, everywhere. They are my ever extending to-do list. My office mate thought they had quite over-run my monitor so he put up a post-it reminder to "Clean up post-its"... it remains on the monitor as I have not completed the task.

I have come to realize, however, that as good as to-do lists are (I would lose my mind and forget everything if I didn't write things down), Satan can really use them against me. It doesn't matter how late I crawl in bed at night, I will still have not completed all the tasks I think I should have. There will still be emails to write, bills to pay, dishes to clean, laundry to do, phone calls to make, etc. For a while this has been a burden on me, I have felt like I'm not being a good steward of my time or otherwise failing at my tasks. But I'm now recognizing that these are some of Satan's lies - "you're not good enough" "you still have things to do" "you are a failure of a leader".

So recently I have been working to accept the knowledge that I will always have a to-do list, but I must not not permit it to consume me. I am no longer allowing myself to send email, pay bills, check my bank account, or do anything related to work or ministry roles in my bedroom. This may seem a bit goofy, but it creates an important boundary. When I go upstairs at night, I am no longer allowed to work on things on my to-do list. I am only allowed to spend time with God, relax, read books for pleasure, and sleep. This makes my room a sanctuary and my quiet times have been infinitely more fruitful since I have instituted this policy.

I'm sure there are more of us task-oriented people out there... what do you do to prevent your to-do list from becoming a monster?

Monday, April 20, 2009

South Africa Support

Hey my very small blog family =)

So I want to share with you the same offer I shared with much of my other church family. Please join with the amazing work God is doing in South Africa.

Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings! I hope life is treating you well. For those of you that may not know, I am now fully settled in Virginia Beach, working for the Navy and living in a house with three great women. I have also gotten involved with Coastal Community Church, a church that has committed to serving both inside and outside our local community.

We have a sister church in Pretoria, South Africa called Eastside Community Church that we have been partnering with for many years.
Eastside supports programs that work with the poor, teach and support kids, and build solid relationships among the local community. My boyfriend, Greg, left in January to serve for a year with Eastside as a soccer coach for inner-city kids.

This July, I have an opportunity to lead a team to Pretoria to help serve alongside Greg and the other members of Eastside. For two weeks, we’re going to get to build relationships with the inner-city kids of Sunnyside School through sports, tutoring, and arts programs. Eastside also owns 120 acres of land outside of Pretoria that they’re working to turn into an orphanage for adolescent boys. Some of our time in Pretoria will be working on restoring an old retreat center on that land to make it a suitable space for the boys. Two members of our team are also nurses and will work to provide free medical support and education for the local children.

Our team is really excited about going to serve, but all of us have been making sacrifices to be able to go. For some, this will be their first trip outside the country and there is a lot of fear involved; for others, these two weeks expend all their vacation time for a year and this certainly will not be a vacation.

I humbly come to you to ask if you would consider supporting our team. I have struggled with whether or not to send this letter, but I hope you will understand my heart in writing to you. We have a team with willing hearts and the time to go, but don’t have the finances to get there. Your support of our team makes you a part changing lives in Pretoria. The programs we are going to help with are giving kids safe places to grow up, a chance at a more stable future, and an open door for them to meet the incredible Savior I have come to know.

So first, I ask that you would pray for us. All the money in the world could not make our trip successful if God has not paved the way. Please pray for our team that we might be unified and have strength to serve the kids we will meet. Also, please pray for Eastside and the people they are reaching in Pretoria.

Lastly, I ask if you would consider supporting us financially. Believe me, I understand that we are in an economy that does not a lot of spare room in a budget, but even a small amount is another step towards getting our team to South Africa.

Thanks for always supporting me.
With much love and blessings,

For more pictures or more information, you can follow Greg's blog and see some great pictures at

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Nice to Be Known

This weekend was incredibly refreshing. Recently I have tried to be consistent about having a Sabbath, but it even if I haven't had any major plans or obligations, I haven't felt refreshed and I couldn't figure out why. This weekend I discovered what I was missing: I got to have a Sabbath from being an adult.

Brittany, Stacy, and I grew up together at Asbury UMC and this weekend Stacy and I flew into Atlanta to visit Brittany. We did some goofy tourist things, but the most valuable time we spent was spent just laughing together. We each live very different lives, but I doubt we'll ever lose our connection to each other. The people that have seen you through 4th grade crushes, middle school acne years, high school relationships, and all the awkward things that comes with growing up are those who have the ability to keep you the most grounded.

Re-living the past is not always fun, nor is it necessary most of the time, but having people around me who understand my past can better ground me in the present, and help me dream of the future. Brittany and Stacy are two of those people for me. I'm now convinced everyone needs to have a weekend like this twice a year. To get with people who you haven't seen in a while and who have known and loved you for years.

My normal life as a pretend-adult is full of responsibilities and logistics and busyness; but this weekend released me from all that and allowed God to really refresh me.

Saturday night as Brittany, Stacy and I sat around talking about how much we all needed this weekend, Brittany described it best: "It's nice to be known"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strange Blessings

Sometimes God's strength comes in crazy places. I am leading our missions team to South Africa in July and I have been very stressed about it. Recently I have been worried that I did not bring this enough before the Lord in prayer and I have worried that this will never work.

But God completely recharged my heart today. First, I had my ipod on at work and was listening to the podcasts of nlcf's latest series on pursuing social justice around the world (they called it "Ripples"). The stories of what people have done and are doing began to open my heart again to God's desire for the Church to be the leaders in bringing justice to the broken places of the world.

There were two verses that stuck out to me...
Isaiah 1:17: "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.* Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

and Micah 6:8 "What does the Lord require of you? To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

Just those could have been enough to inspire me, but God also used something else very odd. Saying this requires the confession that I watch TLC. A guy at my office calls it "The Ladies Channel" because long ago they stopped putting informative programming on there... and most of it's just reality-type shows.

So anyway, there's a tv show about a family named the Duggers. They're the really famous family with 18 kids. They're a conservative Christian family, and though the channel doesn't focus on their faith - it is obvious in the decisions they make. And there are times I've seen this show and it makes me crazy (some of the theological stances aren't entirely accurate...) but today it was exactly what God needed to tell me.

The dad and about 12 of the kids went on a mission trip to El Salvador to bring Christmas presents and food to some very needy families. Watching their missions trip and seeing all those kids and families in need completely broke my heart. I realized that no matter what we do in South Africa - whether it's digging ditches or playing with kids or whatever - we are honoring God with our sacrifice by just not being afraid to go.

Bob Pierce was the founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse and he said a now-famous quote that I want to bring before the Lord,

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

That's why we're going to South Africa. And God is already laying out our steps.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


When I read the old testament sometimes I think, "Really, were the Israelites just dense?" How many times did the prophets say the same things to them, and yet they continued to make the same mistakes.

But I do the same thing. I can look back at my life and see the same struggles, temptations, and immature attitudes repeating like clockwork. It doesn't matter how many well I think I've beaten something, it won't take long before it will creep back in.

In college I fought really hard to learn how to be graceful. It became a great desire of mine to pursue being a woman of grace and humility. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I made great strides. Two years later... here I am again. Yet again I am battling with a heart that knows neither how to be compassionate nor graceful. I stopped being vigilant and I lapsed back into my old habits.

I think ministries have this temptation as well. It's easy for ministries to get stale, clique-y, or misdirected if the leaders are not constantly analyzing the present state of the ministry and bringing it before God.

So my life and the ministries can be just like the Israelites; predictably and perpetually stuck in bad habits. Each day I have to decide if I'm going to continue to pursue away from the bad habits and into the good ones.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My First Talk!

Wow... what a crazy week.

A while ago I posted about how God was teaching me about Hope and that I've been studying it. Well a rare opportunity came up that we had an open night in Fuse where we could choose our topic. James had a really hard message the week before so he asked me if I wanted to speak.

So for the last couple weeks I've been attempting to write a talk about Hope. It has been UNBELIEVABLY DIFFICULT. I have given talks before, but something about this was so difficult to get my hands around. How do I boil such a broad topic down into 20 minutes?

But Sunday night I did it. I always feel that giving a talk like that you never really know how well you did until later when you can listen to it. I was really nervous, almost threw up beforehand (though this is not tremendously uncommon for me when I get butterflies in my stomach), but I did it.

I haven't had the courage to listen to it, but tonight I finally did. Wow. God totally came through. I was listening to it and thinking "is that my voice saying that?" which is so awesome, because that means it was really God speaking through me.

These are only audio - but the only way I could figure out how to imbed them into a blog is to make a video, upload it to youtube, and post it here. So I don't think you can download it - just listen/watch.

I'm trying to get it posted to a podcast, but right now we are having trouble getting our Fuse talks on Itunes. So I'm working on it.

I'd love feedback if you care to give it, that way I'm better next time I do this =)

Anyway, this has been a really a great blessing =)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Month Recap!

It's embarrassing that my posts have been almost a month apart, and it's not because there's not much to talk about; it's because there's too much to talk about and I run out of time to write it down. So here's the month recap:

Fuse: February was a month of challenges and growth. God has really stretched our leadership team creatively, emotionally, and spiritually. It certainly has not been easy, but lots of great changes are happening. Our Sunday night worship venue continues to grow in numbers which is making awesome and scary challenges. Our creative arts team has been trying new ideas to enhance worship with visual interest and sound characteristics.

However, the most exciting Fuse event of the month was the launch of a 2nd Homegroup & with it, Lifegroups. The worship venue is important and valuable, but there's nothing quite as important as community. To recognize that our homegroup community was so successful, that it got to multiply, is a great victory. Having two homegroups will allow many more people to get connected. Our lifegroups are also great because they connect people through intimate relationships and accountability - this is where real growth happens.

Youth Ministry: This month was our winter trip (my last post talked a little about it) where we took 36 middle schoolers and 23 high schoolers to camp for 4 days. I love those settings, because it gives the kids time to get beyond the tough outer shell and start opening up deeper parts of their hearts. Kids I've known for 6 or 8 months finally started to come forward with the stories of things in their past that have deeply wounded them.

One of the reasons so many kids were able to go to camp was because of 2 guys. Two weeks before camp, Dusty & James decided that they hated the idea that so many kids could not go to camp because they didn't have the money. So they set out on a quest to raise $3500 in 2 weeks to get the kids who couldn't afford it to camp. They played golf sunrise to sunset, road beach bikes in the snow for 36 miles, got shot with paintballs, and a dozen other rediclious stunts people paid them to do. Their victory was not only getting these kids to camp, but in demonstrating to them how valuable they are - some of those kids may never have known anyone sacrifice for them. It was so much more than money.

Camp is awesome!

Also exciting this February for the middle schoolers was moving our youth group "Nitelife" from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. On Tuesdays we were stuck upstairs in our classrooms while the high schoolers had the downstairs in the big open worship center. With the middle school averaging 35-40 kids those classrooms were just far to small. Moving to Wednesdays allows us to use the worship venue, opening up awesome room for growth. We hope to be averaging 60 by mid summer =)

As far as work, things are going well, I'm staying busy and learning a lot. My boss retired first of January so it's been a tough period of transition but we're making it. I feel really blessed to have this job, particularly in this economy so I'm trying to pull my weight and work hard.

Today officially marks 2 months that Greg has been in South Africa. Wow, hardly seems possible. It's been cool how God has really given each of us peace about our relationship. It's also been really exciting to see how God has been working through him to battle his depression and serve the kids of Pretoria. If you haven't been getting his updates, he's right now coaching mini-cricket to kindergarten-3rd graders, various soccer teams, and softball to girls age 10-13. This final coaching gig happens to bring out some of the more hilarious incidents. I had to explain to him that the reason the girls are so excited about joining the team and staying after for pitching practice might not have to do with their enthusiasm for the sport. I think they've all fallen for the new young American coach =) This provides great comedy because it makes Greg immensely uncomfortable.

So... That's probably all you possible wanted to read about my February.

Of random notes - I'm speaking for the first time at Fuse next week. I'm quite nervous so if you could be praying that'd be awesome.

Maybe I'll write sooner than a month from now... we'll see. =)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


You know, people at my office think I'm crazy when I tell them that my long weekends are spent chaperoning youth trips. Honestly though, I can't imagine a more rewarding weekend.

I have now spent more than a year getting to know most of these girls and it's incredible to watch them open up. People are often afraid of middle school because they can appear so ridiculous sometimes about the opposite sex and being so cruel to each other. But if you can work hard enough to get through that facade, they deal with a lot of really tough issues. Loneliness, broken homes, broken hearts, abusive fathers, anything and everything that adults deal with, but with potentially greater consequences.

Last weekend gave me an amazing opportunity to show these girls that they are loved. It is difficult for them to grasp God's love sometimes, but if they can see Him through me - that makes all the difference in the world.

I wouldn't do anything else with my long weekends =)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Long Over-due Post

Tomorrow marks 1 month that Greg has been gone. It's been so cool to see how God was preparing the way for him to come to Pretoria. Almost as soon as he arrived he melded into the ministries and programs Eastside is involved with or is starting this year. He's coaching soccer, building relationships with the teens and kids he's working with, and coaching mini-cricket! It's cricket for kindergarden-3rd grade, something like tee-ball is in America. He's learning lots of cool South African phrases and eating lots of interesting new foods.

We email most every day and get to talk on Skype every few days so we've been really lucky. It's still not easy, but it's easier knowing that we're where God wants each of us.

Over the past month God has been teaching me the incredible value of waiting. Today's society has given waiting the stigma that something must be wrong or broken. Think dial-up internet vs. high-speed cable. I get so annoyed when a page doesn't immediately load. What do you mean YouTube won't load?? You mean I have to wait to watch the vintage 21 jesus videos!?! (which, by the way, are hilarious and well worth the wait) But you get the idea.

I am starting to appreciate that good things become better things when you have to wait for them. I was teaching in NexGen the other day about patience and one of my kids said, "Yea - I know what you mean. My dad told me he wouldn't buy me a nice guitar until I learned to play my junky guitar well. I had to work hard for it, but once I earned it, I appreciate it way more than my friend who got a nice guitar right away." Aren't my middle schooler's smart?

One of my favorite Biblical examples is Jacob who meets Rachel and immediately falls in love with her. However, her father requires Jacob to work for him 7 years before he will consent to his daughter's marriage.

"So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her." Genesis 29:20

Jacob found a woman worth waiting for and wanted nothing less. If he had given up early, he would not have had the best.

So I am learning to wait patiently. Not only for Greg, but also for God's direction in my life. I know God has something big planned for me, but I must wait patiently for it to be revealed.

Waiting, however, does not mean I'm permitted to sit idly by. In the Bible, most of the time God did great things through people, it was only after a period of preparation and training.

God told Abram that he would bear a son but did not fulfill that promise for 25 years. God needed to prepare him to be not just Isaac's father, but the father of a great nation.

Therefore, I'm working this year to learn patience and humility and discipleship and scripture. God is doing incredible things with Fuse right now and if I am not careful, I could miss out on it.

So 1 month down, 11 months to go. I have a lot of learning yet to do. This journey should be fun =)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life Successes!

I have stolen this idea. Flat out stolen. Heather Zempel who writes the blog "Wineskins for Discipleship" suggested this (and I think she got it from somewhere else too... so I have no idea the origin).

I'm calling it "Life Successes." At the time of the year when we start thinking about goals, it's also important to reflect on what we've accomplished. My list is surely not filled with "curing cancer" or "brokering peace agreements" but it's still a great way to reflect on cool stuff that I've done in my life.

I'm still working on my goals for the year, I"ll get those out soon. I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, and these are listed in no particular order, just as I thought of stuff... but here you go - here's my life successes list:

Skiied Salt Lake City
Scuba dived a ship wreck off BVI
Helped rescue stranded dolphins
Preached the Gospel through a translator
Helped found a ministry
Marched in the Disney Parade
Did a snow angel on the 50 yard line of the Super Dome
Played soccer for my high school
Worked set crew for a musical
Ate lunch in the Seattle Space Needle
Learned to flat foot at a real Appalachian barn dance
Saw my brother marry the perfect girl
Graduated from college
Led 2 mission trips
Helped rebuild New Orleans
Dipped my feet in Lake Tahoe
Played in a band
Made a CD
Worked as a camp councilor
Ate Ben & Jerry’s at their Vermont factory
Saw a show on Broadway
Ate real Chicago deep dish
Rode the Alaskan rail line from Anchorage to Seward
Ate real Boston clam chowder
Performed in the stage band for a production of “Cabaret”
Played basketball for my high school
Seen Nexgen grow from an average of 5 kids to an average of 20.
Seen Fuse grow from a 6 person Bible study to averaging almost 50.

Kind of fun to look at! (Is it bad that a lot of these have to do with food?)

What's your list?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I'm just going to say I am EXTREMELY excited that I walked out of work today and IT WAS STILL LIGHT OUT! Now mind you, I left a bit earlier than I usually do, but still! I love winter, I really do. But I also love long days. Having the light outside gives me so much more energy to do everything whether it's inside or not.

Go earth go! Continue in your proper orbit around the sun to allow me to have more light!

That is all =)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Community Joy

1 week ago Greg arrived in South Africa. He is enjoying it already and we can already see God providing in many ways.

One thing that has absolutely blown my mind is the way I have handled this. I know that sounds odd, but the peace that I have had has been incredible. It is certainly out of no strength of mine. The two days before he left were really hard, but since then I have been so confident in us that I think I've shed 5 tears max.

I've also gotten to experience something that had not only never happened to me, it had never occurred to me that it would. Over the past few years God has shown me places where my obedience to Him has brought joy and blessing into my life. This week I experienced great joy over Greg's obedience. I had never known that would be possible. I think that this inter-connection would be what God would want among all His communities of followers, but the nature of our society makes this extremely rare. I want to work be so supportive and encouraging of those around me that their obedience and joy become mine, and mine theirs.