The Light Breaking Through

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I took a walk late this afternoon and decided to check the backside of the coach house. We recently had a partial collapse of a wall shared by the Prayer League and our neighboring organization. It calls for quite a restoration. Only after taking this photo did I notice the light breaking through. Pray that even in this unfortunate situation, God’s light might break through finding opportunity to make His glory known. And pray for our properties manager, as he works to resolve the issue.

I also saw these apartment buildings during my walk. Had to stop and get a picture. Reminded me that there is much of this city that I have yet to experience. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and hope I can keep myself to task about biking to work regularly. A great opportunity to drink in the beauty of the city.

We’ve also been spending time with Adrienne’s grandparents. They arrived Monday afternoon and have been having a joyous time with Aelah and Simeon. Now, on into the week!

To Beard Or Not To Beard

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72º BeardThat is maybe not ‘the’ question, but it is ‘a’ question. And an annual question, at that. I seem to ask myself this same thing every year when holy week rolls ’round. I know … an odd question, especially for the likes of holy week. And, in actuality, it doesn’t often take too much thought to determine that I will shave my beard come the night before Easter. Though, there is always the hesitation. It’s become somewhat of a ritual these past few years. Grow, grow, grow in the depths of winter. Then start anew come Easter. I consider it of some spiritual symbolism, I suppose. The resurrection we recognize on Easter ushers in a freshening and a newness. When the whiskers fall and my bare skin senses the subtlest breeze, I’m reminded of the revitalizing that has come with spring.

Yet, just weeks ago, we had a strong wind, and I was able to feel the force of it caught in my beard for the first time. That was a pretty solid experience and made me certainly reconsider whether I should bid my beard farewell this year.

Oh, and did I ever tell you I wrote a simple beard song? (This was a year or two ago). I have yet to record it, but here’s the lyrics …

My beard holds bits of bread and barley
When I’m at a meal – when I’m at a party
My beard holds bits of bread and barley
My beard, my beard

My beard unites me with my brother
With he that feasts – with he that hungers
My beard unites me with my brother
My beard, my beard

And, I must tell you, there is some strange truth to that second verse. It’s a wonder what social walls a beard can break through these days.

So, what do you think? Shall I continue to beard or not to beard?

Remembering Baptism

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There is a wonder in every way of God. We remember His work wrought in the water two years ago today.

There is a wonder in every way of God. We remember His work wrought in the water two years ago today.

It is Aelah’s baptism birthday today. Baptism is one of several, beautiful, God-ordained mysteries that has always tripped me up a bit. Mysteries are like that.

This beautiful, simple splashing of water and this speaking of God’s Word, and, miraculously…

God is there.

Father. Son. Spirit. –all there.

Adoption happens.

Forgiveness happens.

Death happens.

And then…inexplicably…life begins.

How does it work? I’ve no idea. Many questions remain…but I take it to heart when God tells us He is working in it…

So, we baptize.

So, we celebrate.

So, we share with our children the mystery, wonder, and blessing of God.

One Contemplative Moment

The Coffee Trunk
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Once upon a rare moment, you are ushered into a place where reality is inescapable.

This morning, for but a few minutes, I (and others) had opportunity to video chat with the Doyle family (Dieter, Angi, Jarryd, Ashley, Judah) and the team they are guiding into an experience of disciple-making mission from their home of South Africa, through Botswana and Zambia, and into Malawi. Those moments this morning stuck me square in the face of reality. As others conversed and prayed, I was met with a familiar longing (maybe something reminiscent of a calling).

Remember New Dawn? It’s odd. Then and now, it is a calling, not to some specific task or duty, not to some specific place or people group, but to partnership and relationship.

I joined New Dawn (Dave, Carly, Jenny, Luke) after having led them through one month of mission preparation and an additional week of travel on the road. Thinking back, I must consider that God’s nudge to a third year of service with Youth Encounter was so much less about a ministry program with an organization I had come to love, and so much more about the individuals with whom I would walk the way of the cross. It was a call to relationship.

Dieter, Angi, & Simeon

Dieter, Angi, & Simeon

Being in the presence of the Doyle family again (even if only by the wonders of modern technology), sobered me from the stupor of the mundane. I realized, without a doubt, that I miss these folks. Our connections to the Prayer League were forged about the same time of 2012 and since then, we’ve been slowly growing to know one another. Apart from my parents, they were the first to meet Simeon, trekking to the hospital only hours before they were to catch a flight home to South Africa. We’ve camped together, drank a good deal of coffee together, ate Seder together, and walked along together exploring the stranger ways of our faith.

I remember when Dieter and I first met to collaborate and wrestle with the thoughts that had been resounding in his head and which resonated with my own spirit. We walked to a local coffee shop … and, I only realize this now as I write —  I returned to that exact chair this afternoon, and, though distracted by other tasks, my intent was to put words to these thoughts. That my friends, is crazy. Signs … everywhere signs. It seems when they come, they often come in force. God has a way about that. Even at that time, when we first met, I sensed that God might well be knitting a partnership for mission. Ever since, even, there has been a purpose percolating in the midst of our fellowship.

I sense it more and more each day. This morning, in one contemplative moment, I was truly thrust into wonder at what God might have planned for the coming days.

Pray with our family, as we continue to listen and discern. And pray for the Doyles and the rest of the freeWord team, as they soon embark on a journey to Malawi.

J.R.R. Tolkien
The road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet, until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then?  I cannot say.

Lord, lead on. Amen.

Honing Skills

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Reconstructing the Dining Room

Reconstructing the Dining Room

As you can see from the image and the video, Aelah has been busy honing her skills and exercising both sides of her brain. This morning she was reconstructing the layout of our dining room. Whether she had the mind toward interior design or architectural drafting is yet to be determined.

And last night, as I pulled my guitar out for the first time in quite a long time, she took perch upon the piano chair and crooned.

She’s exploring and beginning to enjoy the subtle change in seasons. She and mommy are both ready for some outdoor adventures.

Retreat & Focus

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These past two weekends, we have had opportunity for fellowship with folks within the Prayer League community. Both weekends saw us at camps. Last weekend, we traveled to Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camp in Iowa for the annual Okoboji mission event and heard stories from our fellow workers serving throughout the world. It was a generationally diverse group that had gathered. You could say we had a happy time, as these kids so adorably tell …

Did you see Aelah asking for more at the end. You can now hear her say every so often, when she’s thinking of this song, “More. Jesus.” Too, too cute. May this be the desire of us all.

This past weekend was spent at Mount Carmel in Alexandria, MN with a number of other individuals from our home office staff. Our Pastor was also able to attend and lead us through a look at discipleship as laid out in the book of Matthew. We investigated what it means to live a life worthy of the calling and how, in baptism, we are called to, commissioned for, and coached in the way of the cross. The work of our Triune God – Father, Son, Spirit – is evidenced in the baptism of Jesus and, as His followers, we enter into the same waters that mark us with an identity and direct us in our Kingdom work.