Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking Flight

This family lived on our street less than 24 hours ago. Chris and Jenna and their three wonderful kids have been a vital part of our five-family house church for much of the past year. John baptized the couple in November and then married them in December. We have watched them make changes that will bless their family for generations to come.

We have grown to love them as our own family and our kids have been the best of friends. It was very sad to see them leave as they drove away Monday for their new home a bit north of here. Chris has been working in pool construction and was away from home quite often. Now he will be doing something that allows him more time with his family - something worth all the stress of moving. We hope they will not only find success with his new job but, more importantly, that they will find a church that will encourage them to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Our small church will strongly feel their absence. We pray rich blessings on their lives and the lives of those they touch. God knows they have touched ours.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Against All Odds

Last week our church began planning a Saturday barbecue for our friends and neighbors. Then midweek one of the five families in our church informed us of their decision to move out of town in a matter of days. We knew about the move but expected to have weeks or months to help them pack and to say goodbye. We were shocked and saddened and thought about canceling the cookout. Instead, we decided to press on.

Our kitchen flooded on Thursday even though it hadn't rained for days. We still haven't identified the source but are waiting for the plumber and insurance adjuster to find it. The wood has absorbed too much water to salvage, so it appears we are facing a major renovation in the near future. We considered canceling the barbecue but decided to press on. The water drained off the kitchen floor that evening.

On Friday the boys and I took a walk around the block and invited many of our neighbors to the cookout. Chris and Jenna, the couple who are moving, were busy packing and weren't sure they could even make it. We also couldn't get in touch with one other family in our small, five-family church. Again, we thought about canceling but decided to press on.

Saturday morning Ben woke up like a bear and was inconsolable. His bad mood progressed into a fever just after lunchtime. Of course, we considered canceling but again we decided to press on. By that time we had invested too much prayer, time, and energy into planning, and seeing it through had become something of a challenge.

Our church members arrived at 4:00 pm - all except the one family we never reached and Chris who was preparing for the move. Also, the girls who live one street over wanted to be here for church and not just the barbecue. We were thrilled to have them. We had a quick meeting then the guests began arriving at 5:30 pm. Among those who showed up were a Jewish couple, a family with six kids, a British fitness instructor and her daughter, and a single mom and her son. It was quite a sampling of our culture and made for an exciting afternoon. The last guests left at 10:45 pm, and by all accounts it was the best barbecue we've hosted to date.

enjoying the beautiful weather with our friends

applying temporary tattoos in the kitchen

enjoying good food and friends

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Teaching Over the Fence

Lately, I've been wondering why God hasn't seen fit to bless our plans to enclose the back patio. My next door neighbor was over for coffee several weeks ago and told me, "I hear you teaching the kids outside sometimes. The first time I heard it, I thought how great it would have been to have had a neighbor like you when I was a little girl." Wow, what a compliment! See, God, even the neighbor recognizes what a worthy cause this little Sunday school class is. We sure could use an air conditioned space before the hot Florida summer arrives.

Then this past weekend we took our kids to their friend's birthday party one street over. I was talking to a couple of women who live caddy corner behind our house and one of them said she has been searching for an affirming church. When I told her we have a house church and they are welcome to come check it out, her partner said, "Ya, I hear you teaching the kids in your back yard." Then it hit me. Of course you do because the class where I teach the kids about Jesus is outside where everybody can hear it.

The kids have been learning through vegetable gardening that rain helps the plants grow before returning to the sky to form clouds. Isaiah 55:11 says, "It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it." (New Living Translation) Each Sunday morning I'm aware of at least two other neighbors doing yard work in their back yards who can evidently hear us too. So I'll just keep on teaching out in the open and hope that God will soon bring these people into our living room.