Friday, June 29, 2012

A Masterpiece

This post was originally published on November 12, 2011. While on family
vacation I am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

Every night as I put the boys to bed I sing them this song. They both lay there in their bunk beds, sometimes singing along, sometimes being rowdy and not paying attention, sometimes half asleep.

Last night was particularly special as Caedmon was out with Andy so I put Sammy to sleep by himself. Instead of singing to him as he laid in bed, I held him in my arms...his head on my shoulder and arms and legs holding on like a monkey. I love to feel Sammy's love. And to feel him receive my love. It wasn't long ago (only a few months really) that he would squirm to get out of my arms if I ever tried to hold him this way. But now he melts in my arms and loves to be held. As I sang these words over him last night, I prayed that God would allow the meaning to penetrate deep into his soul and that he would know that he truly is a beautiful, priceless masterpiece.

Before you had a name
Or opened up your eyes
Or anyone could recognize your face,
You were being formed so delicate inside.
Secluded in God's safe and hidden place.

With your little tiny hands, and little tiny feet,
And little eyes that shimmer like a pearl.

He breathed in you His song,
and to make it all complete
He brought the masterpiece into the world.

You are a masterpiece.
A new creation He has formed
And you're as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn.
And I'm so glad that God has given you to me.
Little lamb from God, you are a masterpiece. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quiet Time. What's that?

This post was originally published on September 26, 2011. While on family 
vacation I am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

Yesterday was an amazing day at South Bay Church! 832 people, 87 first time guests (who turned in connection cards), 12 first time professions of faith. It was such a great day! We kicked off our 40 Days of Purpose Campaign with a new message series called, "What On Earth Am I Here For?" Over the next 40 days, we are challenging every person in our church to read Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life book and participate in a discussion group throughout the week. I know that God is going to use this season to do an incredible work in individual lives and our church as a whole.

I realize that asking people to find time to spend alone with God every single day for 40 days straight is tough. But the dividends far outweigh the sacrifice, so we just have to be creative and fight to get that time each day. Speaking of having to fight for time alone with God, I thought I'd share with you an excerpt from my journal last Tuesday. See if you can relate! :-)

I feel like I'm out of breath ever morning when I finally have a chance to sit down to read my Bible. Mornings are so busy when you have little ones. It's just now 9 AM and here's how my morning unfolded:

5:30     Alarm - snooze
5:40     Up,  put on work out clothes, notice lights just turned on in the living room but Andy & I are still in the bedroom. Put Sammy back in bed.
5:50     Begin "Insanity" workout
6:10     Sammy comes out again. Put him in pack-in-play with books
6:35     Finish workout. Put away clean laundry. Make bed. Andy showers.
6:45     Shower, get ready. Andy starts breakfast with boys.
7:30     Andy starts his quiet time. I make my breakfast. Distribute vitamins. Change diaper. Clear table.
8:00     Get boys dressed. Comb hair. Brush teeth.
8:15     Play Hungry, Hungry Hippo- 4 rounds
8:25     Get Caedmon's socks on. Finish doing his hair.
8:30     Sit in dark closet with the boys, lightsabers, blankets, and Darth Vader masks
8:35     Caedmon off to preschool with Dad
8:40     Empty dishwasher. Reload with breakfast dishes. Make cup of tea.
8:55     Set Sammy up for room time. Put away puzzle he pulled out in the playroom. Shake my head at the rest of the mess. Clean up a juice spill on the carpet.
9:00     Sit down with tea & Bible trying to still my heart enough to hear from God. The timer is set, though, because Sammy's room time won't last long. So I've gotta hear from God FAST!

How's that for "Be still and know that I am God"?!?! (insert panting & gasping for breath here)

My hat is off to all the moms out there whose mornings look exactly like mine, but then would need to write "Out the door for work". It is not easy, I know!

Prioritizing that time alone with God each day is tricky, but it is what keeps us grounded amidst all the craziness and frantic pace we often live our lives. I am so excited for all of you who are taking this 40 day journey with is going to change our lives!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Preaching to Myself

This post was originally published on August 25, 2011. While on family vacation
I am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

May I just be really honest for a moment?

I'm having quite a time with Sammy right now. I think it's regression. Could just be that he's 2 years old. Could be a personality thing. I really don't know for sure, but I think it's adoption related. All I know is that he's not sleeping well, which translates into me not sleeping well.

Last night, for example, he came in our room at 11:15 PM, 11:30 PM, 2 AM, and 5:55 AM, and then he was up for good. His naps are typically short, some days 30 minutes, some an hour, occasionally he'll do a "catch-up" nap for a couple of hours. This regimen has been going on for a year now...sometimes better, sometime worse. He slept really well through the night for a few months, but now we're back.

This is new to me because Caedmon was/is a great sleeper. At least 11 hours straight at night, nice long naps each afternoon. Our mornings used to be such sweet times of cuddles and stories on the couch as he'd walk around that corner with his messy hair and join me under the blanket where I had been reading my Bible.

But now, the last thing in the world I feel like doing when Sammy comes bounding out of his room before 6 AM is give him a hug. I feel so frustrated because I can't force him to sleep and I don't know how to break the habit of him getting up multiple times a night.

This morning I put Sammy in the pack-n-play in my room when he came in at 6AM. I didn't want to put him back in his bed for fear he'd wake up Caedmon, but I wanted him to rest more. So I just laid there in my bed beside the pack-n-play and spent time praying about the situation, how I was feeling, and how God wanted me to respond. God brought to mind 1 Corinthians 13.

So I preached a sermon to myself from 1 Corinthians 13. Here it is:

Love is patient.
I will love Sammy by being patient with him. Patience is not even required until a situation is challenging. So I will embrace this opportunity as a way to show him how patient love can be.

Love is kind.
My words and responses to Sammy will be kind, even when I don't feel kind in my heart. I can make a choice to give him a hug. I can speak tenderly, instead of harshly. I choose to give grace.

Love does not envy. 
I will not compare Sammy to anyone else. Sammy is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind. Comparison only brings despair and jealousy. I will be thankful for the gift that Sammy is instead of focusing on things I wish I could change. 

Love is not rude.
I will be courteous and respectful of him, realizing that he is a person with real feelings and he notices how I am treating him. I will use my manners when serving him throughout the day, just like I would if another adult was in the room observing me.

Love is not self-seeking.
I will considered Sammy's needs as more important than my own (Philippians 2:3). Even when his needs seem trivial or unwarranted to me, I will choose to lay down "my rights" to serve him.

Love is not easily angered.
I will practice being slow to speak when I feel anger rise up in me. I will seek to understand how Sammy might be feeling in a given situation instead of only seeing it from my point of view.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.
I will forgive. I will choose to let go of the grudge. I will not let a bad night ruin a perfectly good day. I will let my mercies be new every morning.

Love always hopes.
I will remind myself that it will not always be this way. There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And when he is grown and these days are just a hazy memory, I will miss the smell of his sleepy skin as I carry him back to his room multiple times a night. 

Love always perseveres.
Sammy needs to be assured over and over again every day that we will never leave him. We're in this together and we are 100% committed to him. He needs to feel this, not only from what I say to him (that part's not too difficult), but through my attitudes and responses. I will love Sammy with a NEVER STOPPING, NEVER GIVING UP, UNBREAKING, ALWAYS AND FOREVER LOVE...the way Jesus loves me.

I can't love Sammy this way in my own strength, but I have the Holy Spirit of God in me and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. The same power that conquered the grave lives in me!

I don't know who in your life you need to apply this to...a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, a co-worker? I do know that it is God's will for us that we would "Love one another deeply."

Sometimes you have to preach to yourself to remind yourself of the TRUTH that you so deeply believe.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Tangible Faith

This post was originally published on July 11, 2011. While of family vacation
I am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

Yesterday I had a conversation with my friend, Joyce, who is a cancer survivor. A 3 time cancer survivor, actually. The cancer just kept coming back. Her doctor told her recently that she is his only patient to ever survive that. She has been cancer free for 6 glorious years now.

I asked Joyce what faith looked like for her during those dark moments. How did she approach her sickness not knowing whether she would live or die?

The reality is that, when you have a life or death illness, you honestly don't know if it is God's will to heal you in this life or to take you home to give you complete healing in Heaven. We pray for healing. We may claim verses of Scripture that talk about healing. We believe in the God of the Universe who is more than capable of healing. But unless God sends you some type of cosmic email, you really don't know if physical healing is His plan.

So what does faith look like in that moment? Is it my best attempt to believe really really hard that what I want to happen will come true? Is it keeping an optimistic attitude? Is it claiming victory and healing?

I have had my back against the wall in a few situations where I desperately wanted a certain outcome but didn't know the Lord's will. The most recent (and probably painful) of those times has been surrounding the issue of infertility. I don't know whether or not it is God's will to ever give us another biological child. I don't know if I should "keep believing" Him for that, or to close that chapter in my heart.

I don't know what you're faith shaking situation is. We all have them in life. Some promise or desire we'd like to hold on to, but not really knowing what God's will is for us.

Here's what I do:
  • I remind myself that God is completely in control and has the power to do whatever He desires. His hands are not tied. 
  • I remind myself that His ways and His thoughts are higher, and wiser, and better than my own.
  • I pour out my heart to Him, telling Him all about my pain and deepest desires of my heart.
  • And then I end each prayer with, "Not my will, but Yours be done."
It is in those moments that my heart remembers my deepest desire is for God's will to be done. No matter how strong my longing for a given outcome may be, I know that if God's not in it then I don't want it.

My faith is in God, not in some promise, desire, or isolated verse of Scripture.

Our God is in Heaven,
He does whatever pleases Him.
Psalm 115:3

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confession: Public Restrooms

This post was originally posted on June 9, 2011. While on family vacation I 
am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

I am not a germ-a-phobe.

I have been known to eat food off the ground. I do not always wash my hands before a meal. I do not typically sanitize my tray table on an airplane. I don't mind drinking after other people. Double dipping in the queso does not scare me. And I've never owned a grocery cart cover to protect my kids from all the germs lurking out there.

However, there is one place that makes my skin crawl. A place the can literally make me gag just thinking of it. A place I try to avoid at all cost. Where?

A public restroom.

There are varying degrees of tolerability:
  • A friend's house? Acceptable (unless it is, say, a young man's bachelor pad in which case I would resist)
  • Church? The smell freaks me out a little, but I'm still ok
  • Target, the mall, the playground? Only if one of the Littles has an emergency
  • Airplane? Only on an international trip.   
  • Port-a-potty? Absolutely not! I would rather find a tree or, if worse came to worse, wet my pants. That is, sadly, not an to which Andy could testify.

When I was in college I went to China for one month and never used a public restroom! We even went on an overnight trip and I was able to make it. I just dehydrated myself (so unhealthy, I know). I tried one time to use a public restroom while we were there, but the smell was so bad from 15 yards away from the building that I couldn't get any closer. (fyi, not all public restrooms in China are like that. Some are quite nice, I'm sure. But I'm not the one to tell you about them.)

I'm not sure exactly how this phobia developed and I'm sure it seems completely irrational to lots of people (isn't that part of the definition of a phobia?). But, nevertheless, it is where I live.

It is the reason I require everyone to go to the bathroom and/or get a diaper change before we leave the house and I don't offer an endless flow of beverages to my kids while running errands. It is the reason that I thank God (seriously) that He has given me and Caedmon two of the largest bladders known to man. AND, it is the reason why I may possibly be the worst candidate in the world to potty train a child. If it hadn't taken Caedmon so flippin' long to potty train (about 13 months!) we would likely have stayed quarantined to our own house until he learned to hold it for extended periods of time. 

Can you imagine this scene...

We're at Target and the 2.5 year old potty-training Caedmon announces he needs to go potty.

Me: Silent GROAN. "Seriously? Can you hold it?"

We trudge into the bathroom while my exploratory child touches everything he sees. He does not yet realize (like I do, of course) that it is possible to contract a terminal illness simply by breathing too deeply in the bathroom. Fungus and bacteria literally crawl right up your body if you sit down on that germ-infested floor. And you might grow a third eye simply by allowing any part of your skin to touch the toilet seat.

Poor 2.5 year old Caedmon did not realize this, but thank goodness he had a mom like me to protect him!

So our 10-minutes-too-long in the public restroom was punctuated with me shrieking and squealing like a hyena and it's no wonder that my son had such issues with potty-training! It's also no wonder that I've not even begun attempting to train Sammy, although I'm confident he's quite ready. I'm still recovering from the trauma of the experience with Caedmon and keep telling myself that Sammy will be fine as long as we get him out of diapers before kindergarten!

The other day I had a strange combination of emotions (amusement, pride, and a tinge of guilt) as I watch Caedmon use a public restroom. He didn't touch a thing with his bare hands. He lifted the seat with a piece of toilet paper. He flushed the toilet with his foot. He scrubbed his hands vigorously while singing the ABC's and then opened the door with a paper towel! I laughed to myself as a realized that it is TOTALLY my fault that Caedmon is this way.

So, Caedmon, I'm sorry if your friends make fun of you when you get to middle school and they see all of your "routines" when you use the restroom. But take it from me, Son, you're not going to be the one growing a third eye. And who's gonna be laughing then, huh?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Matrimony

This blog was originally posted February 21, 2011. I am reposting 
some of my favorite blogs while we are away on family vacation.

And now for your weekly bit of (unsolicited) advice...

Tip of the Week: 15 minutes and everyone's happier

This piece of advice comes from the amazing Christine Caine, although I'm not even sure if she'd remember saying it. I remember it, though, because when she said it I laughed really hard and thought it was such an insightful piece of advice. Here's what it means...

It is a well known fact that (most) men tend to have a stronger sex drive than (most) women. Andy came up with a great analogy a while back. One night when we were brushing our teeth Andy said, "I think you sometimes feel about sex the way I feel about brushing my teeth." It was a valid perspective. My man begrudges getting ready for bed (i.e. washing his face, brushing his teeth, etc...). When he's ready to go to bed, he just wants to go to bed. That other stuff is just slowing him down. It's not that he doesn't want clean teeth, fresh breath, and good oral hygiene; it's just he's tired and brushing his teeth is the barrier standing in between him and going to sleep.

Women can sometimes feel this way about sex. It's not that we don't want a good sex life or value the significant role it plays in our marriage. It's just that, at the end of a long day, it's the "barrier" that stands between us and getting a good night's rest.

I truly hope that this is not the way you feel about sex every time, but if it's true that a man's sex drive is stronger than a woman's (and I'm pretty sure that's true!) then there will be times when your husband wants to have sex and you're just not feelin' it. That's when this tip comes into play: 15 minutes and everyone's happier!

Women tend to make "sex" this huge barrier with a million excuses..."we haven't connected emotionally, I'm so tired, I've had kids hanging on me all day, yadda, yadda, yadda..." Christine was saying that we have to shrink the barrier in our minds. She said, "Come on, girls! It's really NOT that big of a deal. 15 minutes and everyone's happier!"

When you put this piece of advice into action, you can go to sleep without the guilt of denying your husband (and in the process likely sinning against him, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5) and your husband can go to sleep happy because...well, I think that's obvious! :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Legacy

I have a rare heritage.
In a society where at least 1/2 of marriages end in divorce and fathers are no where to be found, I come from a long line of godly men (& women).
My great-great-grandfather on my dad’s side (Granddaddy Burns) was just a regular guy. He wasn’t a pastor or a missionary or a seminary graduate. But he loved Jesus and he felt compelled that he should pray for his family down to the 6th generation. I’m not exactly sure why he chose the 6th generation or what those prayers sounded like, but those prayers included me, my kids, and my grandkids. Who does that?!
One of his daughters married a man by the last name Bynum. My great-grandfather (Granddaddy Bynum) studied law and was making a fine living as a lawyer. He was actually about to be appointed as the youngest judge in the history of the state of Alabama when he felt God’s call on his life to preach. So he left his career to begin a new one as a Methodist pastor. 
Great-granddaddy Bynum, now grafted into the Burn family prayers and legacy, had five children. One of them was a daughter name Corinne. The blessings and prayers and mercy that Granddaddy Burns had faithfully stored up were being passed down to her. Granddaddy Burns could have never foreseen than Corinne’s husband would not be blessed with the same heritage from which she came. Corinne’s husband, Steve, came from a fatherless home. He had to drop out of school in the 4th grade to help provide for his family when his father left them for another woman. But it seems, in the providence of God, that Granddaddy Burns’ prayers covered Steve too.
Steve (my Granddaddy Cloud) taught himself to read, put himself through Bible College during the Great Depression, and met a beautiful young lady named Corinne who became his partner in life and ministry. Together they served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina. Steve preached while Corinne prayed and took baked goods to every family on their street and loved people with the love of Jesus. Never did a plumber or delivery man or hospice nurse come into their home that my grandparents didn’t share with them about the love of Jesus.
Steve & Corinne had a son, who they also named Steve. Steve was born with a fiercely independent and adventurous personality. Growing through his teenage years, Steve was determined that he would be a big, bad sinner despite the countless hours his parents spent on their knees on his behalf. But what Steve didn’t realize at the time is that he had a great grandfather that had also been praying for him, and God doesn’t forget things like that. Try as he may, Steve would always be a “failure” at running from God. The sin would leave him with such emptiness that he finally reached out for God. He couldn’t escape the mercy that was stored up on his behalf. 
When Steve (my dad) gave his life to Jesus at the age of 18, he jumped in with both feet. He became a youth pastor and then a senior pastor and has served God everyday of his life since he was 18 years old. Granddaddy Burns’ prayers that God would raise up preachers to the 6th generation were now being fulfilled to the 3rd generation.
I am apart of the 4th generation.
My husband has been grafted in to the prayers of blessing that Granddaddy Burns prayed on our behalf. 
South Bay Church is here today, in part, because of the prayers of Granddaddy Burns. He played a role in the 297 salvations that we’ve seen at South Bay thus far. Those 297 people will be in heaven one day and I think that perhaps they will each receive a handshake from Granddaddy Burns, who prayed for their pastor and his wife. 
I cannot tell you the comfort it brings me to know that my children and grandchildren are apart of this legacy as well. While I can’t claim with 100% assurance that none of them will be wayward or turn their backs on God, I am confident that God won’t allow them to go down that path without throwing every roadblock in their way. They’ve been marked. They’ve got mercy stored up for them. And they will be absolutely miserable living a life of spiritual poverty when they’ve got so much blessing available to them.  
One man who loved Jesus and was committed to prayer shaped the lineage of his family. On this Father’s Day, I think it’s quite appropriate to honor a man like that. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Do You Feel Today?

This post was originally posted on April 19, 2011. While on family vacation
I am reposting some of my favorite previous posts. 

Any other P90X fans out there? Andy and I did the whole 90-day program (very strictly) about a year and a half ago. I only missed a handful of workouts the entire 90 days and I got great results. Although we're not being nearly as strict about it now, we still use the DVDs to work out and I must say, I love Tony Horton (the trainer, for all you non-P90X fans). Wish he lived in NorCal because I would totally invite him to South Bay for Easter!

Anyway, Tony says a phrase on one of the DVDs that has become somewhat of a motto for me. He says, "How do you feel today? Do what you can." The point is that you're not going to feel 100% every single day. You're not always going to be in the mood to 'give it your all' when you work out, but you do what you can and you just "keep pushing play." On those days, you may not get the best work out of your life, but it's better than nothing and it's slow, steady progress in the right direction.

I feel like that is true about all aspects of life. There will be days that I don't feel like studying the Bible or spending time in prayer. But I'm committed to "keep pushing play" and trying to read/pray as much as I can.

There will be days that I don't feel like a very creative or energetic mom. But I just keep pushing play and do what I can.

Here's what I know about myself...even though I may not feel like 100% on a particular day (or week), I'm a pretty motivated person overall. It'll come back. I have to give myself the grace to just plod along making slow and steady progress on those days, knowing that I'll feel like sprinting on others.

So, if you feel like you've lost your rhythm today (or this week or this month), give yourself a little grace. Just keep pushing play. Do what you can. Don't give up on working out or time alone with God or investing in your kids or etc... just because your not feeling it today.

Do what you can, and trust in a God who is BIGGER than the whims of our hearts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

(In Parenthesis)

This blog was originally posted February 4, 2011. I am reposting 
some of my favorite blogs while we are away on family vacation.

Andy has been out of town this week, so I've been single-mom-ing-it. I think it must have zapped all of my creative energies because I have had complete and total writer's block. I'll sit down to post a blog and...blank...nothing is there.

But, alas, I've had a bit of an "ahah" moment in mothering this week that I thought I could pass along.

Recently I've been noticing an increase in my frustration with my kids. It seems like someone is always crying or whining. There is rarely a time that I buckle them in their carseats that one of them is not upset about something. I wonder why in the world I need to use windex, carpet cleaner, and half a dozen paper towels to clean up after every single meal. It drives me nuts that my walls are all so grimy. I'd like to make it through a bath time without being as wet as the kids in the tub. And for goodness sakes, could you just hold the door for me when I'm carrying 60 pounds of groceries?!?! The list could go on and on.

Any other moms out there feel my pain?

I realized that these little frustrations were beginning to wear on me, affecting my interactions with my kids and how I felt toward them. I've been praying about it so much and reading some "Mom Books" and here is my grand ahah moment...

Put the frustrating moment in parenthesis.

Normally, these moments where I want to pull my hair out and give my 2-weeks notice for motherhood last only about 5-10 minutes. However, I was letting my frustration from them drag on and on all day. When Andy would ask me, "How was your day?" I'd always just look at him with the expression, "Don't ask." But then I realized that it's not my whole day that is horrible. It's these moments. They should not characterize my whole day (or my whole life, for that matter). I've got to isolate those moments in my mind so that I can enjoy the rest of my time with my kids.

I really do enjoy my kids and love them to pieces...85% of the time. (Is that a horrible thing to say?) However, I was not enjoying my kids 85% of the time because I was allowing the 15% ruin everything for everybody. Now I'm trying to take a few deep breaths, truly forgive my child for whatever the offense was, and then put the moment in a time bound set of parenthesis.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Fun- Vacation Edition

This blog is coming to you from my parents' house in Columbia, South Carolina where I was raised. Our family is home for a visit so I fear I may not be getting to my blog quite as often. I'll try to drop in to add some new photos and updates occasionally, but I'm also going to be reposting some of my favorite previous posts that you may have missed out on the first time around. So keep dropping by because you don't want to miss any of this kind of cuteness...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kindergarten, Here We Come!

Today we have been celebrating Caedmon's "graduation" from preschool. Because we did preschool with Caedmon twice (he has a late bday), this was our 2nd graduation ceremony. But this one was a little more emotional for me as we officially close this chapter of Caedmon's preschool years. He's not a preschooler anymore. Now he's a kid. This evening I will be sewing weights in the hem of all of his pants.

Caedmon's precious teachers, Mrs. Casas & Mrs. Dunn
These ladies have been such an important part of our lives the past 2 years.
Saying goodbye to them was probably the hardest part of the day!

This is Mrs. Dunn's daughter. I told Caedmon I wanted to get a picture of him with his teachers and he told me he wanted to get a picture with his teacher's daughter! I wonder why!!! Ladies' man already!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good News

On Sunday, Andy shared a powerful message about moving from Religion to Relationship. His two main points were:

  1. Religion focuses on what I can do for God.
  2. Relationship focuses on what God has done for us. 
When we are entrenched in "religion" (whether that religion is Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or something else) we tend to judge how we're doing by comparing ourselves to those around us. Is our good outweighing our bad? Are we measuring up? How much do we need to do to repay our cosmic debt? This way of thinking lends itself to either feeling arrogant or discouraged.

People all over the world realize that we are broken. That we have a debt to pay. And many spend much of their lives trying to repay that debt, trying to appease what gods may be.

Once I heard Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter) being interviewed. He was asked, "You obviously care a lot about social crises in the world and have contributed a lot through your philanthropy efforts. What is it that motivates you to do so much good in the world, both personally and through your organization?" His reply was so revealing. He said, "I feel like each of us have a debt to repay society. We come into the world and we take from it and make mistakes and sometimes do harm. I feel an obligation to try to repay my debt."

While Andy was in East Asia, he spent some time with people in a remote village that had never heard the story of Jesus or even His name. This people group has a religious tradition that multiple times a year they will tie a water buffalo to a pole, beat it, and kill it to appease the "spirits" for the wrong-doings in their village. Somehow these people, with virtually no connection to the outside world, have the understanding that their sins must be atoned for. They are desperately trying to DO something to be in right standing with God.

Andy's team was able to share the story of Jesus (from Creation to Christ) with these people. After listening to this amazing story that he had never heard, one man decided that he believed and wanted to follow Christ. He said, "This is such good news! I must go tell my family!"

The next day as Andy's team was reading the Bible with this new believer, he looked up and said with light in his eyes, "So this means that I don't have to sacrifice the water buffalo anymore!" That's right! You got it!  Your efforts to atone for your own sins will never be good enough, but it's okay because another way has been provided. It is truly the best news in the world! 

Whether it's through philanthropy efforts or social justice or non-profit giving or attending Mass or water buffalo sacrificing, all of Creation tends to lean towards religious, man-made attempts to work our way out of debt. The GOOD NEWS is that the debt has been paid by Jesus and relationship can be reestablished through Him!

You can listen to Andy's whole sermon here

Take 4 minutes to listen to Thomas' story and how he moved from Religion to Relationship. It may be the best 4 minutes of your day!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Fun

Caedmon and I have been compiling a list of fun things we would like to do this summer. So far, here's what we've come up with:

  1. Go to Great America
  2. Slip-n-Slide
  3. Strawberry Picking
  4. Water gun fight
  5. Go to the playground
  6. Water balloon fight
  7. Swimming- jump off diving board
  8. Play G.I. Joe
  9. Get frozen yogurt
  10. Get Jamba Juice
  11. Finish reading lessons (my goal, of course!)
  12. Go to the library
  13. Silly string war
  14. Play dress up
What's on your list of Summer Fun?