Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skipping Stones

At our last barbecue I invited seven women to read the book of Mark with me. Sunday afternoon was the third of those studies and, I must say, I am enjoying it. Questions and comments from people who have never read the Bible are very refreshing. The first two studies were at our house but we decided to have a barbecue after this week's class with all the families, so Terry and Maria graciously hosted the event. Their place is bigger and more conducive to large gatherings.

You've seen their patio before:
And you've seen the kids playing at their house:
But here's something you haven't seen:
This is a picture of the guys repairing a sprinkler pump that was damaged when the kids threw rocks into the pond behind Terry and Maria's house. Skipping stones is normally a great activity for kids but the water had receded and the pipes were unusually exposed. As a result, these guys spent a good portion of the evening appeasing an upset neighbor.

In a house church environment with this many children (seventeen at this event), there are relatively few gatherings that don't result in some material damage. At times it's been a challenge to stay focused on what's really at stake here - not just material goods but living, breathing people. In a world that largely values money and stuff above human beings, we strive to offer a refuge where God's priorities and values are paramount. In doing so, we hope to introduce our friends to what life is really about and to share it with them the way it has always been intended to be - in relationship with each other and with God.

Homeschool Convention

John's mom has been visiting this week. We call her Colorado Grandma for obvious reasons but we wish we could call her Florida Grandma. She's a wonderful person to have around. My mom has been known, until recently, as Naked Grandma for not such obvious reasons. She likes to strip the babies down and let them romp without clothes. As Jonah has gotten older he has taken issue with her title and we agree it seems less appropriate for a nine year old, so now we call her Texas Grandma. She will be visiting soon too.

We haven't had a lot of time to entertain Colorado Grandma but we did take her to the beach:
We also treated her to a stay at the Gaylord Palms resort in Orlando:
This year's home school convention was there so we had a good excuse.
It was refreshing to be around hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have chosen to put their families first and really sacrifice to invest in our most precious resource - our children. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." We recognize that teaching others about Jesus is critical but teaching our children is of utmost importance. We're very thankful to have the opportunities we have to spend time learning as a family and sharing what we have with others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day started out with getting up early to make breakfast for the church, prepare for the children's class, and clean the house. That may not sound like a good day to you but there was nothing I would rather have been doing. My entire family works together to invite people into our home on a weekly and sometimes daily basis to share what God has given us.

As a special treat, Maria taught the class that day. Jonah was a bit apprehensive because I'm the only teacher he has for every subject, but he later admitted she was "a really good teacher".
After having the pleasure of sitting in on the class that John teaches for the adults, I gave each child a rose to give to his/her mom. Ben misunderstood and gave his to this guy:
I took it back.Here are all the moms with their well-deserved roses and their beautiful kids:
And here's my favorite part of Mother's Day:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Suddenly we're too large of a group again to meet in our living room so we had a barbecue at Terry and Maria's house last Saturday. We invited thirty-six people and thirty-six people showed up. The kids were especially happy about that:
To introduce our guests to each other, we started off with a mixer. Not everyone was thrilled about the idea but afterwards all agreed that it was a lot of fun.
We passed out a paper with little known facts about our guests such as "I killed a wild animal in Africa" and "I just got into law school". Each person had to find out to whom the statement applied and have him sign it. The first to collect all the signatures won. There was plenty of laughing and conversation. The winner walked away with ten bucks and second and third got some candy.
Then we ate possibly the best food we've had to date: Brazilian barbecue (churrasco), black beans and rice, salad, and yummy desserts.
One woman whom I met at the YMCA a year ago thanked me for inviting her and said she can't believe what's happening in her life. She said she has been praying and that we are offering her what she has been asking for. When I told her I started praying for her when I met her, she teared up and said, "Prayer really works!"
I invited the women to study the Bible and all ten of them accepted. Now I just have to figure out how to get them all together and find childcare for those who don't have it. John also talked to two men who are interested. We are excited to sit down with our friends and share with them why we do what we do and introduce them to the One who makes it all possible. We want them to know why "prayer works". They couldn't possibly know how blessed they are going to be when they tap into the power of God's word.