Saturday, August 18, 2007

Heart Improvement

Over the years Bob and I have been able to afford most of our home improvement projects only by doing the work ourselves. We’ve painted, wallpapered, and sheet-rocked. Laid sod, sub-flooring, and tile. Installed ceiling fans, toilets, and countertops. We’ve worked hard and come away with pride at our efforts. Which is all well and good when it comes to home improvement.

But heart improvement is another matter.

This week we settled our daughter into a freshman dorm room two states away. At one point during the ten-hour drive home, I had time to pray at the wheel while the guys slept. Instead of asking (again) why God didn’t space out the events stressing our lives in the span of three weeks—moving a daughter, selling our home, making our own move, going back to work fulltime, etc., etc.—I finally began to praise him for heaping all those things on us at once.

Don’t ask me why. I guess I just knew it was time to stop whining and start praising. You see, even though I’ve recognized these many events as blessings, I've had serious issues with the timing . . .

Not anymore.

As soon as I began thanking the Lord for the crazy, compacted nature of our schedule, my heart exploded with gratitude. Why?

Because his strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Circumstances have forced me to be utterly and desperately reliant on the Father. Or rather, they’ve forced me to admit my utter and desperate reliance on him. It is humbling and freeing and deliciously sweet.

Had things worked out differently this summer, I know for a fact I would have handled them on my own, thank you very much. And I would have been proud of myself for doing so.

But instead, there’s absolutely no way I can accomplish what must be done in a day. On top of that, there’s no reason I should be patient with my family, grow even closer to my husband, and have time to draw near to Jesus. Or confess all this in a blog. Somehow, though, it’s happening.

So there you have it. I’m stinkin’ excited that I can’t manage any of this on my own. That I’m as wobbly as a newborn colt. That I’ve had to abandon any pride I might have salvaged through this transition.

Because the only thing I need is God’s strength. I can definitely live with that.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


This journey we’re on is thrilling, scary, awesome, and challenging, and we are wholly convinced it is Spirit-led. Time and again this summer, the Spirit has spoken clearly past the confusion and insecurity and discouragement our hearts have experienced.

As you may know, we are in an intense period of significant transition: job, school, family, income, ministry, and housing changes. Despite our busyness and worries and distractions, the Father has allowed us to encourage and impact the planting of two simple fellowships in the past few weeks: a home church in Taos, NM and a fast-evolving Bible study group of unchurched and dechurched people in an Amarillo apartment community. We are not the planters in either case, but we praise God for allowing us to actively speak into both groups. Just this week, a young Christian woman invited us to plant a church in her apartment. We are approaching this prayerfully, along with her, and will move forward as God leads.

The Lord continues to refine and focus his call on our lives. He’s nurtured within us a specific vision for simple churches and has actively placed us in relationship with a number of passionate Christ-followers who are similarly called and presently pursuing this kind of ministry. They are patient tutors, enthusiastic encouragers, and wise leaders. We are humbled that God’s faithfulness would be so rich.

Our church planting friends are scattered far and wide, but, praise God, we meet monthly with two other couples in our area who share our hearts. One of them has arranged for our local group of “missional friends” to be closely mentored by a visiting church planter working specifically with house church networks and other multiplying movements in China. We look forward to the coaching he will provide and invite any interested Amarillo-area friends to join us.

I mentioned worries earlier, and I do so to my shame. Please pray that we will trust our Lord completely. He knows that our house still needs selling and exactly what bills need paying with our reduced income and how we’re going to manage all the stressful adjustments August alone will bring.

In everything, we just want to focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and on the Father, who is over all and through all and in all.