Saturday, June 26, 2010

Forgiveness and A Movie

This is a friend who works with me on staff at Watermark. It is an AMAZING story of God's work through obedient lives. And most importantly a picture of HIS forgiveness. Thanks Carlos for sharing your story!

AND on the note of forgiveness... our church is in the middle of shooting a movie. Some FAITHFUL & TALENTED folks wrote a script based on the life of Joseph. But set in modern day. They started filming this past week in the Texas heat! Click HERE to keep up with the blog and to see what SEASONS OF GRAY is all about.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Year of the __________!

So far this year I have had 2 experiences with raccoons, and I fully anticipate MORE.
First one happened in January when I was leaving our offices. I was walking with Braun when I saw a raccoon in the parking lot. The poor thing saw me and started HAULING under and around the cars. Headed to the park I think. I have no idea why it was out in the middle of the day. I did get a picture of it... I'll have to post that later.
Second of course is when we had the raccoon visitor in our house. Check out this post if you missed that. It was such a great experience of laughter and adventure for me.
This youtube video is AWESOME... raccoon removal!
And three of my coworkers have set me pictures of raccoons to brighten my day in the past 10 weeks. This being one of them :)

And so I declare 2010... THE YEAR OF THE RACCOON!


The weekend in Kansas was more than I could have asked or imagined. I traveled up there with my parents and met my sister (Stephanie), brother-in-law (Jerry), and my aunt (Pam). The weekend was literally filled with detail after detail of remembering my childhood.
We started Saturday morning with a trip to their FARM. I know it isn't theirs anymore, but it will always be in my eyes. We got to walk and remember. What a gift...This is a grape leaf. Isn't it cool. It really was metallic just like it looks in the picture.This is the shed that they kept the cars that was right by the house.This was the screened in back porch. My Grandpa slept out there in the summer. We would play and take naps out there. We also got to watch the birds with Grandma. And the occasional dear. Which reminds me. DETAIL: 2 different times over the weekend I got to see a deer out in the pasture. My Grandma LOVED deer.The "back pond"! We spent a lot of time playing and swimming in this pond. One of my Grandpa's favorite places to be. I learned this weekend that it is a really clean pond. Apparently my Grandpa built a fence to keep it that way. Richard, in the picture below, is this eccentric naturalist. He loves the place which made all of us really happy! He said he has learned a ton about my grandparents by living on their property the last 1o years.The fam... Steph & Jerry, Mom & Dad, Pam, Floyd (My Grandfather's brother's son), & me! This is the shed that all the horse stuff was in . We spent A TON of time brushing, spraying, saddling, and riding horses right here. DETAIL: When I walked in this shed... it smelled EXACTLY the same.This is the pond that is out from the little pig houses. This is the pond that we would spend time in the winter sledding across it on the ice! It was such a blast. In the summer we would run around the pond to make all the frogs jump in! They would make a little croaking noise as they jumped in. DETAIL: When I walked around this time... the frogs jumped in :) Noise... the same!Richard told us that he has used a ton of Grandpa's old stuff around the farm. Here he put a swing with an old tractor chain! DETAIL: My grandparents had a swing on their front porch and we spent HOURS on that swing.GOOSEBERRIES! We picked a ton of gooseberries together. Grandma made gooseberry jelly! DETAIL: Got to pick and eat gooseberries!We all joked as we walked that we were going to be covered in ticks and chiggers. As kids we pulled ticks off the dogs and ourselves. DETAIL: When we left, I was driving and tried to brush something off my knee. Didn't so much brush off! And YES I had a tick!!! I was so excited I stopped in the middle of the dirt road to show my sister who was in the other car!It poured down rain right before the memorial service... we were a little worried that it would be raining the whole time or real muddy. But it cleared up perfectly and was cooler and sunny! Aunt Pam picked out the "urns" that Grandma and Grandpa would be in. Grandma loved humming birds, hers is the one of the left. And she chose a horse feed can for Grandpa... PERFECT! DETAIL: also got to see a hummingbird!After the memorial service I headed downtown to to see what it looked like now. Most of it has changed. But the streets are still red brick, the post office is the same, and some of the lumber company looked the same. My grandparents worked there for years. We got to help check people out, carry lumber and go to the soda shop! I almost found a way to break in to the lumberyard part... but I was in a dress. Then onto Bruce's farm for a wiener roast. This was such a gift. Grandpa would gather limbs, fallen trees, etc and always turn them into a wiener roast for us. I found out that night that Bruce had built the fire pit the day before! Such a blessing. DETAIL: the cat there looked just like my cat Magic growing up. She crawled up in my lap and stayed there for a little while!Sunday afternoon I went and stalked out the old church. We were there many times a week and had VBS! So many memories. I also got to talk to the present preacher. He had some amazing things to say about my grandparents. A new learning for me... My grandparents took taking care of the preacher of their church seriously. 3 different preachers of this church talked about how they helped them, invited them over, fed them, made them part of their lives.We got to help them change the numbers of the attendance and giving. We always got excited that when we were there their numbers went up by 2 or 4!!! This is the basement of the church where we would have potluck lunches. I think maybe they even planned them specifically because we we were there! DETAIL: smelled the same and I think maybe some of the exact same seating!

I cried a ton at the memorial service. My sister was gracious enough to read what I wrote... I knew I couldn't. But I am so glad it was said. We spent time walking around the cemetery Sunday and had another meal with Ken and Marilyn. DETAIL: We had pizza! Usually the first meal we would have with my grandparents when we got to their house.
It was such a great weekend. We ate meals together and laughed and remembered. I was blown away at how God brought so many little DETAILS to my weekend. I literally could not have scripted it any better. SO very grateful!

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yoked to Him

Again this morning I am completely blown away by God's sense of timing and provision. I woke up at 5:35AM (and let's face it... miracle #1.) I hadn't been asleep that long as we got to see Wicked last night (side note: just as amazing the 2nd time!)
So I wake up and spend time with the Lord processing what is coming over the next couple of days. I have lots of emotions... sadness, fear, excitement, uncertainty. I know there will be LOTS of tears. I will see and experience a lot of places I did as a child with Grandma and Grandpa. And I will be with family that I haven't seen in YEARS! All the questions started flooding in... "Will I be able to speak at the graveside service?" "How will I do at answering the questions... 'What do you do?' 'Are you married?'" "Am I going to feel lonely?"
I journaled a ton and then opened the devotional that I have been reading and here are the verses that I read...
Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Matthew 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,which means ‘God is with us.’”
Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Ephesians 1:4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Ephesians 1:13-14 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Seriously... all of them! It was just amazing to sit here and to be reminded and filled with truth. My job is to rest and trust Him. He has the plans. He KNOWS what will happen this weekend and He LOVES me. I am so grateful for God's word. Grateful that He SPEAKS to us. That He GIVES us what we need.
My prayer... that I would love and serve my family. That all would know that I love Him with all my heart. That I would be able to speak at the graveside service (without my breathing stopping because I am crying so hard... all things are possible right?!!) and really honor my grandparents. That I would take advantage of getting to be with extended family who I never get to see. And above all... that I would be yoked to the Lord and glorify Him in all that I do.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to meet me this morning... right where I am!

Photo not mine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Never Changing

It has been a CRAZY 10 weeks. Probably some of the hardest I have ever been through. Obviously there has been some huge stuff and there has also been some little stuff. (Little stuff that brought on its own would not have cratered me.) And what I am learning about the little stuff... when mixed with the huge stuff... feels like big stuff. (As a friend put it... pebbles that feel like boulders.)

Right before heading out for Estes I ended up in the dentist chair. Telling him to just pull them all out they hurt so bad. He takes some xrays and tells me my teeth are fine... but I have ulcers in my gums. Now I have had ulcers on the outside of my gums, but never IN my gums. And boy, those things were right next to the nerves and so stinkin' painful. I looked like a walking pharmacy with my pain meds, toothbrush, toothpaste, orajel, homeopathic pills and 3 mouthwashes. My car ended up in the shop for 3 days... 2 large checks written. In Estes I got sick... yep, out of both ends (sorry, I know that is TMI!) Then on our way home, my front blinker light falls out of my car. Literally, it was dangling by the light, flapping on the side of the car. And then as I am dropping off the last chica... my keys hit the floor board and the only key lost is to the Yakima box on top of my car that is BORROWED! Truly... things at some point just have to become comical.

On Sunday morning I am toast. I feel it... TOTAL EMOTIONAL DRAINAGE. I got NOTHING LEFT. I literally sleep most of the day. And then sleep in on Monday. Then the littlest pebble of them all! I am taking my laundry to the washer and carrying a cup full of water. As I am going to set the laundry down, I totally forget about the cup of water. It hits the floor, bottom down and shoots water into the air... DRENCHING ME! I stood in the laundry room, ready to burst into tears and I look up and thought, "What? What am I not getting?"

I have this same conversation with the Lord and with my community and ask that question over and over again. I really do want to learn it, I want to GET IT! I really do!

It would be great at this moment if I could tell you that I now know what IT is. But I don't. Now don't get me wrong. I can tell you a lot of things that I have learned. Like... I can't do this. I have to go to Him each moment to be able to make it through. And, people are watching. And, He has already showed me little ways He is using it to impact others. And, all that stuff I tell people... talk it helps and journaling is good... is true. And, His Word is alive and active and really does speak to every situation we face. And, I do BELIEVE. I believe He is real and sovereign.

But I think in the little moments, where I feel like it just won't stop, I feel like I am some how missing something. And so as I talked yesterday, something hit me. I was thinking about being tired. Tired of all that has happened. And tired of needing so much. Needing time, ears, attention, space, healing, understanding... etc. And then I thought, "What if God gets tired of giving me what I need?" I loved that at that very moment Hebrews 13:8 came to mind... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He won't ever tire of giving me what I need to face where He has brought me. He will always be enough. And then I read Ephesians 2:10 this morning... He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. And this is part of what He planned for me and He will give me what I need to walk this road.

It's hard to put into exact words the comfort that I felt in that moment. That I don't have to fear that God is going to stop providing. That every day I can wake up and look to Him for what the day holds. Even when I am tired, He isn't. He is all sufficient. And He knows.

I know I still don't know all that He is teaching me. And the hard stuff isn't over yet. This weekend we are headed to Kansas for Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt's graveside service. We will be burying their ashes, seeing family, and visiting all the places we spent summer after summer with them. It is going to be really hard. But I know who goes with me. I know that He has what I need. And I know that more little pebbles are going to fall and feel like boulders. But I am leaning hard into the one that NEVER CHANGES!

#WMEP10... small addendum

OH... I totally forgot 2 important things...

1) I actually saw a guy complete the "whole milk challenge"! YEP... he drank the gallon of whole milk and kept it down in the hour. It was pretty fun to watch everyone standing around chatting it up, pretty convinced he couldn't do it (me included) and then everyone counting down from 10 as he drank his last swallow! It was AWESOME. Of course right after the moment of victory he threw up... I think 9 times! Oh the joys! And to quote my pastor, "It just never gets old!"

2) We went on a bear hunt... the real bear kind, not my carved wooden one that I still want. . Apparently they are hanging around camp at night, especially by the trash compactor. So a few of my adventurous friends went with me to try and see one. But to no avail! We did get to see the stars... and man are they AWESOME out there! Maybe #WMEP11 !!!


My week in Estes was good, hard, amazing, and hard! I told a bunch of people on the last day that I was so sad that it was over but I couldn't go on another day. Here are some highlights...Caramel apple chips from Laura's! They actually had taken it off the menu. When I told them 400 people were ascending on Estes, and at least 1/2 of them were coming for these, He said... "Oh, you are those people!" YES WE ARE!!!Watching Kaigler dance with Pebo and Bryson!
When poker chips could not be found... splenda, sweet-n-low, and balderdash cards worked just as well! A great game of spades. I did miss Chandra, DK, and Ben!
Brooke and I sported our McKeaigg's shirts supporting their adoption.
Of course... the big slide. Truly the smiles on adults and kids alike were PRICELESS!
Worth every one of Bob Rudy's pennies!
2-5 year olds learned that God's word is SURPRISING!
A fun hike with Brooke, Lucina, and other friends.
Yes, that is Brooke with a chipmunk on her head! Totally took the dare!
Isn't he cute... and of course we did NOT feed them!
I just think ducks are funny!
Adventure Club team.... did an amazing job teaching the kids that they are Created 4 life, worship, connection, and SHINING!
The scene each night as the 3-5 year olds were kept contained until their parents picked them up.
Absolutely one of my favorite parts of Estes each year is seeing Wagner laugh really hard. Ross Boggs... He takes pictures of you when you don't know it!Patrick took down a whole table of adults in Texas Hold'em!The awesome UNCRUSTABLES!Thank you Alexis for my very own... ThumbTrendz! They make texting fashionable! The Family Time drama Crew.... yes, they got hired by Disney! And... yep I signed a child's nose with a sharpie.
It really was an amazing week. What pictures can't capture is the life change that happened. Many, many hearts were changed and relationships built and restored! It is a gift to get to be a part of this each year. And we are going to every year now... so... sign up!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

He Provides

WOW... the Lord has already shown up in some amazing ways. I feel a little selfish, because I feel like a lot of that has been to take care of me! Now don't get me wrong, He has gotten everyone here safely, allowed for amazing fun, and I believe already lives are being transformed.
Saturday night I really started to question whether or not I should be here. I didn't want to be a downer on camp and I didn't want to be a burden. I hate that I am in the position I am in and not able to give 100%. He of course has shown up in awesome ways.
He has provided listening ears when I was crying... and I have already cried a lot.
He preinformed some of those coming up here what had happened the last 8 weeks. (Crazy that camp starts 8 weeks to the day of the last crazy 2 months.)
He has prompted friends to text me while I am here checking on me and more that are praying for me.
He has provided some AMAZING sunsets and weather to energize my heart.
He has allowed Psalm 6 and Proverbs 3:5,6 to remind me that He KNOWS right where I am, that He put me here, circumstances and all.
He has equipped the kid's crew to love on and lead our kids in amazing ways. (I'm not kidding... they are awesome!)
He has given me a boss that wants to protect me, help me, and work together as a team not leave me out on my own.
I really feel like I could go on and on... but bottom line... HE PROVIDES!
Must head to dinner and get ready to love on some more munchkins... and laugh really hard tonight!!
Here are some pics from time here so far...
Beaker makes the road trip with us... Thank you Jason and Chris for the extra cargo space! Life saver!!!
My traveling buddies... Robbi, Paula and Brooke.
Can you say... WOW!
And more WOW!

And the crazy Kid's Crew peeps!