Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prayer Time 4-30-13

"Many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another. Consequently, prayer is not the center. Getting to know a person, God, is the center."  --Paul Miller

So good. One of my favorite ways to get to know God is to talk to him about some of my favorite of his creations--my friends and family, and we have A LOT to talk about today! Please let me know if I can add to the conversation on your behalf.

Blessings in the Gospel today!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Good List 4-24-13

A double dose in honor of the last 2 (quiet on the blog) but amazing weeks:

First--my week with Jared attending The Gospel Coalition Conference in Orlando followed by a couple days in Disneyworld. (I mean, we were already practically there. How could we waste such an opportunity, right? ;-) )

10. A DIRECT flight from Albany to Orlando! Score! (You can't really get to anywhere quickly from Vermont--at least not affordably, so this was a nice treat.)

9. Our crazy hotel upgrade. When we arrived at the conference hotel, we knew we were early, so we planned to just store our bags and come back later, but the guy in front of us got his key, so we figured it was worth it to at least ask. With no expectations whatsoever, we simply asked if there was any chance our room was ready. It wasn't, but the attendant eagerly offered to upgrade us to a "grande suite" for no additional charge (which she *totally* undersold btw). This is what we ended up with: 

Pretty sure it was bigger than our house.

8. The "party" we had in our grande suite so as not to be poor stewards of all that square footage. ;-) Good times.

7. Face to face time and getting to put our arms around many we only interact with via internet most of the time (some that we met in person for the first time on this trip). Always sweet fellowship. 
6. Beautiful worship led by Keith and Kristyn Getty. Particularly soul-stirring to join thousands of other voices in worship. Small glimpse of heaven.
5. Refreshing, uplifting, soul-strengthening teaching from some of our favorite lovers of the Gospel.
4. Spending time with Jared's family, all of whom were there at the same time as us. Bonus!
3. Celebrating sooooooooo many special memories in Disneyworld together. We are utter Disney dorks. We just love everything about it. I know. . . I know. . .

2. Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad during the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. This was a bucket list moment for me, and I don't even have a bucket list. So cool.
1. Being struck by this thought as Jared and I waited for the bus to bring us to the airport to head for home-- Happiness is vacation. Joy is knowing that when vacation ends, I still get to do life with this guy. So blessed and grateful.

And THEN--Spring Break!!! (with Grandmom and Granddad in town!!!)

10. No alarm clock!
9. Amazing weather! Mostly sunny but not hot, CRAZY windy (I love that!), with one massive thunderstorm overnight. I know my Mom and Dad relished the sound of the rain since it seems to be a rare occurrence in Texas these days. Pretty much perfect.
8. Old school parcheesi. I love this game.

7. Blue icees.

6. Listening to my Dad chuckle at Duck Dynasty. (His first introduction to that craziness happened this week.)
5. Lots of living room slumber parties, which basically just means Macy and Grace each claim a couch, and Jared and I stay in there until they fall asleep and then go get in our bed. For some reason, they think this is super special, and hey--easy way to give them an "awesome day." ;-)
4. Gettin' educated about sugarin' with our friends The Severys. So cool! This might have been my Dad's favorite activity.

3. The indoor pool at Okemo Spring House where you can swim during Spring Break even in Vermont. :-D Fun for all ages!

2. The most retro entertainment facility I've ever been to. The kids roller skated, played putt putt and laser tag and rode go-karts all day long. Grandmom, Jared and I watched and laughed. I'm pretty sure this was my Mom's favorite activity. :-D

1. The awesomeness that is giggling with 6 of my favorite little people on the planet, which Lilly sums up perfectly right here. I couldn't have "said" it better myself. :-D

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TGC13 Sound Bytes

This is such a small representation of the immense goodness we've heard here, but these are thoughts I want to be reminded of for various reasons, so I thought they were worth recording to come back to later. Disclaimer: Many of these are paraphrases (or maybe even accidental misquotes by the guys who talked a little faster than I type on my phone), but I *think* I at least captured the correct intent of what they were saying.

From John Piper:

People know things like clouds that can be blown away and replaced by other clouds, not mountains that are permanent and unmovable. We need to know our doctrine like a mountain, not a cloud.

You can't buy truth with money. You can't control truth with power.

(After reciting the lengthy list of references to "God" or "Lord" in Luke chapters 1 and 2) Some wonder where the term "God-saturated" comes from. Are you kidding me?

You have to read the Gospels all the way through. I'm cheating, because they only gave me the first two chapters. How could they assign such a thing? ;-)

Do you have the Holy Spirit? Is it producing JOY in this stunning salvation?

From Crawford Loritts:

Don't discount the reality of demons. The mess that's going on in our culture right now is not normal.

You should never walk around acting as if you're the 4th member of the Trinity.

(Summing up Jesus' teachings in Luke 8:26-56) I am Lord over the devil. I am Lord over disease. And I am Lord over death.

100% of the people Jesus healed eventually died. The miracles weren't about people perpetually living. They're meant to put our focus on Jesus, not just what he did.

Our faith will only grow in proportion to our desperation.

Faith is a verb even when it's a noun.

Inadequacy and suffering are our friends, and they are holy handicaps that keep us tied to the heart of God.

Brokenness is not a state of not being able to do anything. Brokenness is a state of permanent God-neediness.

From Don Carson:

You wanna be a Christian? The cross.

From Kevin DeYoung:

True repentance is as much an act of grace as not sinning in the first place.

We have a God who seeks out sinners and absolutely revels in their return.

Are we feeling contamination more than we trust the power of Christ to cleanse?

No one in the history of the world has been more inclusive of repentant sinners than Jesus, and no one has been more intolerant of sin.

There is an experience of joy and an expectation of joy in the kingdom of God. There is no kingdom where there is an absence of joy.

From Stephen Um:

Do you find hope in your retirement plan, or do you find hope in God?

Are you increasing the Master's assets by investing wisely because your treasure is in heaven?

When we see ourselves as owners rather than stewards, we become robbers.

If money is your lover, it demands your fidelity.

It is the love of wealth, not the amount of wealth, that starves the soul.

(In regard to the way Satan tempts us where he knows we are weak) If only Satan would tempt me to turn stones into bread. I can't even turn water, yeast and flour into bread.

From Matt Chandler:

You are not "the next" anybody. You are you.

All ministers of the Gospel are but servants carrying out their God-given assignments.

When I was going through reformed puberty. . .  ;-)

I need to handle even important theological differences in a way that is distinctly Christian.

If you have built something on anything other than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it cannot be a fruitful ministry.

You can be right in the wrong way.

From Burk Parsons:

If our theology doesn't bring us to our knees, it is flawed theology.

We wouldn't know Christ unless the Holy Spirit caused us to be reborn.

To be truly Christ-centered is to be led by the Spirit.

From Al Mohler:

If there is one thing that is missing from our churches, it is Godly detestation of sin.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why I Enjoy Attending TGC (even though I'm not the target audience)

1. Putting names with faces. Jared and I interact with lots of people via the internet that we rarely get to meet or speak to in person. While I'm extremely grateful for the way technology shrinks the world and allows conversations to take place all across the globe at any given moment, it's always fun to enjoy some of those conversations face and face over coffee or a meal. This year in Orlando we will get to enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters from as near as Vermont and Maine and as far as Dubai. So cool.

2. Fellowship with the "big C" Church. By most standards, our church in Vermont is very small. We believe it is EPIC in quality, but certainly our quantity is limited and likely always will be. Even so, we love it with all of our hearts and hope to minister there for a very long time, but we do enjoy the occasional physical reminder that we are part of something far greater than our congregation. When thousands gather to exult in Christ and worship together, it is a chilling, thrilling picture of the Gospel active and alive throughout the world. We are not alone. Hope abounds, and it is gorgeous.

3. Focused, uninterrupted worship and teaching. I suppose I am partly to blame for this, but I confess that I rarely feel like I can shut out the rest of the world for intense focus on worship and study. To be clear, I *do* spend time doing these things, but rarely without interruption or distraction. There are always chores beckoning, phones ringing, emails waiting for an answer, etc. It is quite a treat indeed to remove myself from distractions and potential interruptions and focus fully with an open heart and clear mind on the worship and teaching before me.

4. Applicable teaching. I understand that I am not the target audience for these events. However, the teaching is certainly applicable to me. I greatly appreciate that. The overarching themes of these events are quite simply the truths of Scripture and how they apply to all areas of life. Some of the break-out sessions focus much more specifically on the role of the pastor, but even many of those are perfectly accessible to just about anyone seeking a greater understanding of Scripture. I can't recall a single session at a TGC (or T4G) conference that I felt was too "pastor-focused" to apply to me.

5. Worshiping *next to* my husband. It is one of the greatest treasures of my life and a true gift and joy to sit under his teaching almost every week. He is my favorite pastor ever. Truly. But that's just it-- Most Sundays, he is my pastor. He is up at 5am needing time alone to pray and finalize preparations for his message. He is then fully engaged in what must take place at church--teaching, interacting with our congregation, following up on things that need his attention, answering questions, etc. By Sunday afternoon, he is wiped out and honestly just sort of needs to be left alone. ;-) We have learned this routine and adapted to it as well as a family can, I think, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite thing about being a pastor's wife. Imagine my joy and delight then, when I get to worship and exult *next to* my husband. When he is being energized and refreshed by the experience rather than poured out and exhausted. When we can talk about it afterwards and reflect on our time learning together. And when we can leave the experience as a couple with energy and joy and refreshment. Such a treat!

SO looking forward to TGC13!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Good List 4-3-13

10. Cumulus clouds. You know--the kind that make the sky look like a massive adventure-filled cartoon. I very much want to frolic in them.
9. Finding Dory, sequel to Finding Nemo, is in the works. FUN!

8. All the little birdies are coming back around. I haven't been home enough to sit still for pictures, but I sure can hear them.
7. All kinds of healthy juices flowing in this house lately. I'm loving it! 

6. Gracie's new pet, Chewbacca Palpatine. (Don't ask me. . .) She literally treats him like a pet. She takes him outside so that he can enjoy the sun and fresh air and "his natural habitat" and makes sure he has plenty of fresh leaves before she goes to bed at night. Crackin' me up.

5. Easter duds. Jared wore a bow tie, which was simultaneously totally dorky and completely awesome. :-D And Macy and Grace were looking so sweet and pretty in their new outfits from Grandmom.

4. My eyes are fully convinced that the sky is bluer in the 802 than in any other place. I know that isn't really true, but the fact that it is so often so blue that the thought comes to mind makes me happy.
3. Several fun countdowns are suddenly really short. Mom is here in 3 days. TGC in 5 days. Disney in a week. So grateful for the exciting and refreshing opportunities on the horizon.
2. Mike has a job!!! :-D We've been praying for this dear friend of ours for awhile now. His employment experience has been quite the roller coaster over the last couple years, BUT he started a new job Monday that seems like a great fit. Praying that it becomes a long-term, stable, enjoyable career for him.
1. Jesus is ALIVE!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Prayer Time 4-2-13

So much heaviness on my heart this morning. So many people I love dearly dealing with some of the most difficult situations. It's easy to feel helpless.

But now the sun is bursting through my windows more vibrantly than it has in months, and I'm reminded of the ONE who is far from helpless. He hears our cries, and He loves it when we call out to him. May we do so today with all of our hearts!

I would love to cry out to him on your behalf today. Please feel free to leave prayer requests in the comments section, and know that these will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.