Monday, January 21, 2008

Welcome to the World Baby Josiah!

                                 David, Taryn, and Baby Josiah
                                  Did she just have a baby?
                   Matthew and I visiting the Stines at the hospital
               Josiah with his too cute for words older brother Isaac   

 Welcome to the world baby Josiah! He was born last Sunday at 8:30 in the morning (his daddy even managed to race to church and preach an awesome sermon later that morning :). He weighed 8lbs. 1.2 oz and was 21.5 inches long! 

     Taryn and David Stine have been two of my best friends since we met in seminary in Virginia Beach in 2001. God planted a dream to plant DC Metro Church in David's heart 9 years ago. Almost immediately after I met David Stine and Matthew Stroia in Barbara Billick's office in August 0f 2001 (they both married their beautiful wives Taryn and Andee later that year), we realized there was a connection between us that was bigger than ourselves, and we started talking about how amazing it would be if we could do life and ministry together. 

     Here we are six and a half years later planting a church together. It has been my dream for many years to walk through life with my best friends and be a part of something that was investing in the lives of others and investing in the eternal - God is so good! I couldn't have chosen more incredible parents for baby Josiah than David and Taryn Stine. I am so happy for you! 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I am enjoying my day off work and thought I would share with the words MLK Jr. delivered in a speech. It was not his infamous "I have a dream" speech, but rather about the One who gave him his dream. Here is an excerpt (you have to picture him preaching this to get the full effect :)...

Do you know my King? My King was born King. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing. He's enduringly strong. He's entirely sincere. He's imperially powerful. He's impartially merciful. That's my King.

He is the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He's honest. He's unique. He's unparalleled.  He's unprecedented. He's supreme. He's pre-eminent. He's the grandest idea in literature. He's the highest personality in philosophy. He's the supreme problem in higher criticism. He's the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. That's my King.

He's the superlative of every good thing that you choose to call Him. He's the only One who can supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the week. He is available for the tempted and tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He serves the unfortunate. He's the Almighty God who guides and saves all His people. He rewards the diligent and beautifies the meek. THAT'S MY KING! 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Fabulous Friends Hannah and David

What I Love About My Sweet Friend Hannah
       She was one of my "bestest" roommates ever. We lived together in Kansas City while at IHOP (International House of Prayer- not pancakes :)) and would talk on our couch almost every night for a few hours without every running out of things to say. We can do "nothing" because if we are together "nothing" becomes fun. She is my favorite person to dance in the rain with, sunbathe in random fields with in Kansas City (we were both beach girls going through withdrawals), and my favorite person to sit across from at Panera (particularly with Alisa when we are practicing our "hellos", discounting Germans, and analyzing the implications of my date's shoes- I still think you can tell a lot by a person's shoes). Hannah sits before the Lord, and when she hears from Him, she steps out in obedience even at great cost. He is her First Love. She has a call on her life to the nations, so I know that the Lord will bless many through her. There are so many things that I love about my friend, but one of my favorite things is how loved she makes me feel when I am in her presence. I love the bittersweet way she looks at me right before we are saying goodbye (although I am not fond of saying goodbye to her) - it is one of those moments I wish I could bottle. Hannah is a gem with many facets that I am still discovering, but she is one who the more you get to know her , the more you love her! When are you coming back to DC Hannah?

What I Love about My Fabulous Friend David

       I love that I have managed to get him saying "fabulous" as a regular part if his vernacular. He is a deep conversationalist, a great question asker and listener- he draws me out in a way that not that many others do (he makes it way above "the above average listener" of seventeen seconds before interrupting- according to David the above average listener can only make it seventeen seconds without switching the focus of the conversation to themselves... How long do you typically make it? :) I first met him when he was in high school through his amazing sister Mary Ruth (who is one of my best friends), but it was our road trip to NY with Matthew Stroia that officially marked the beginning of our lifelong friendship. He is my favorite person to laugh uncontrollably with at staff meetings and my favorite person to get caught in a time warp with at scrumptious Cosi's (Is four and a half hours our record so far David?). He has a tenderness and humility before the Lord but an authority on his words when he prays. The youth at DC Metro are in for a treat to have a leader that will teach them what it means to be one who knows the Lord and His ways in this generation and will model the importance of building a secret history with God. I feel incredibly blessed to call him my friend and to "do life" with him and the other amazing people helping plant DC Metro Church (more about them later :)). 

Thank you Hannah and David for making life richer and more 
F-U-N! I Can't Wait 4 our Next Adventure Together... 

DC Adventures- A Tourist in My Own City


     A couple of weeks ago I decided to be a DC tourist for the day. After all, there are often so many cool things to do in our own backyard (and DC is certainly no exception) that we never get around to doing them simply because they are in our backyard, and we figure we can do them anytime or we feel a little too cool to line up with the droves of tourists in our own stomping grounds. I, however, was becoming embarrassed that friends who came to DC for the weekend had seen more of the sights and knew about the city than I did. Therefore, I unabashedly threw whatever elusive coolness I possess to the wind and became a camera-toting tourist in my own city. 

      My friend David and I decided that if we were going to be tourists, we might as well go all out, so we bought tickets for one of those tour mobile buses that takes you around the city and tells you the history of the monuments and sights (it was a little embarrassing when the tour guide asked everyone on the bus where they had traveled from to see DC and David and I sheepishly muttered, "uh... down the road"). Our dear friend Hannah (the three of us were at IHOP in KC two years ago and Hannah was my wonderful roommate) came into town to tour DC with us- she was our cover for buying the touristy bus tickets, but I must confess that I had secretly been wanting to go one of these tours for months. Unfortunately, Hannah chose one of the coldest days of the year to visit, but we certainly weren't going to let a few bitter gusting winds stop us from conquering the city in a day.

     Some of the highlights were the Holocaust Museum (it was fascinating and yet deeply grieving to my spirit to see how fast a culture could be incrementally and subtly persuaded of the "rightness" of such an inhumane false ideology- a.k.a. brainwashed), the Washington Monument (it is actually two different colors- this is due to a period of twenty-three years in the 1800s when they had to stop building the monument due to the city's limited finances and did you know there has been only one president to up in the monument- good ol' Harry S. Truman?).
     Next we went to the "Pres' Crib"- the DC icon otherwise known as "The White House" (there was a reporter outside who was hoping we would leave after our tenth photo opt, but then he realized we were just getting started- even though we had already tried every photo combination of the three of us short of doing a pyramid in front of the White House. For some reason,  I always have such a hard time convincing others that the pyramid is a good photo option. Any way, the reporter finally asked us politely if we could please be quiet for a couple of minutes while he got a sound check- fortunately I was able to get David and Hannah to settle down :), but I still did not get my pyramid shot), 

   One of my favorites was The Lincoln Memorial (one of our best presidents for sure, who penned the words that would not leave our minds the rest of the day, 'four score and seven years ago!") and of course the prestigious and stately Capitol Building (we got off here for photos because our tour guide assured us that another bus would be coming, but after we realized he was the same guide who had curiously told us different "historical" information about the sights than our other tour guides, we decided that he might not be the most reliable source. We realized that our options (and our coat linings) were thin- we had little choice but to battle the piercingly cold blustering winds, and so we began the walk back to Union Station- I suppose the fun photo opts at the Capitol and the sympathy that you will hopefully give us from our dramatic story were worth it though).

      I am excited for my friends (a.k.a. you) to come and visit DC. I tried to memorize the tour guides' talks so that I can spout off the dates and historical significance of the monuments and museums (or if I forget, I can just make them up- I am pretty sure that is what our last tour guide was doing. Yes, he was the same one who told us another tour bus was definitely coming as he pulled away.) Let me know when you want to book your DC adventure in the wonderful white "grace happens" 4Runner tour mobile.  

Sunday, January 6, 2008

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

I gave my life to Love and He will not let me go. The hymn "Love That Will Not Let Me Go" was written by George Matheson (1842-1906) right before his sister's wedding. He had been engaged himself a few years earlier, but his fiance called off the wedding when she found out he was going blind. He went blind while he was studying for the ministry, and his sister had been the one who had taken care of him. On the eve of his sister's wedding, he was in a place of despair remembering his unrequited love for his former fiance and knowing that he would be alone after his sister married. Matheson said that all of the sudden these words just came to him like a piercing light penetrating his darkness, and he wrote the whole hymn in just five minutes. Here is an excerpt...

"O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day may brighter, fairer be."

I first heard this hymn in college right after "I gave back the life I owe" and something about it resonated deep within. After years of traveling through life as pleasure-seeking hedonist, I had finally found the Superior Pleasure or rather He had found me. After a battle with my desire to settle for mud pies rather than experience a holiday at the sea (one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes), I capitulated to Love. As Jim Elliot said, "I gave what I could not keep to gain what I could not lose."

A.W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God, "Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large, it is yet real." Even though many others have gone much deeper in their understanding and knowledge of our unfathomable God, I know that I want to spend my life pursuing and discovering again and again the Holy Mystery of Unending Love. It was a cold day in February when as twenty-year old Sophomore at Mercer University "I yielded my flickering torch to Him" and found my heart set aflame by the intensity of His burning desire. Something real and indescribable transpired within me, and I cannot extinguish the flame. I gave my life to Love and He will not let me go...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"Auld Lang Syne"

Well, it is 2008, and I have decided to join the world of blogging. I am not sure exactly what inspired me to take the plunge. After the ball dropped last night and we sang the traditional New Year's Eve song "Auld Lang Syne," "Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind," I found myself reflecting on 2007. Different snapshots of one of the most incredible years of my life flooded my mind... 
  • Touring Africa and Europe with Jessica in January and February
  • Celebrating graduation from my Doctoral Program with almost all of my favorite people in the world at the Sandbridge beach house in May
  • Being the maid of honor in my dear friend Jenny's wedding in June
  • Packing the U-haul to move to the DC area to plant a church with some of my best friends- ending my season of six years in Virginia beach to begin a new adventure with God in Alexandria in August
  • Launching DC Metro Church September 9, 2007- Experiencing the goodness of God as we watch Him supply our every need in this journey of faith
  • Becoming a Sixth Grade teacher for the first time and falling in love with my students
  • Our family reunion at one of my favorite places in the world- Figure Eight Island
  • Walking through life with an incredible group of people who have a similar passion to build a God-first culture in the DC Metro area
  • Spending Christmas with my fabulous family in Vero Beach, Florida where the sun is always shining and where I always feel incredibly loved 
    The name of the Scottish folk song "Auld Lang Syne" can be translated as "Days of Long Ago." I have been baffled by the lyrics for years- is it telling us to forget or not to forget?  All I know is that I do not want to forget a moment - the acquaintances, the deep friendships, the memories, and the experiences that have made me who I am today. Perhaps this is the reason for the plunge...