Friday, December 31, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas Season...

Well, here we are rounding out a wonderful Christmas season and saying "Goodbye" to 2010.

It's been abnormal and unscheduled around the ol' Elliott household this week...which was wonderful!

We had a great Christmas. The kids were so excited about the gifts they had made for each other. It was truly wonderful to see them more excited to give than to receive.

Ethan and I's project - a kitchen set for the girls - turned out wonderful (if we do say so ourselves;)! We used some plans from Ana White's website and we think the little stove, sink, fridge/hutch set are adorable!

Now we are looking to return to routine and as-normal-as-we-get next week. How about you?

What was the best part about your holiday? And what does normal look like for you next week?

God bless & Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Unto Us a Child is Born...

Blessing to everyone on this wonderful day - The celebration of our Savior's birth!

As we celebrate this incredible gift with our little family, particularly with this being baby Ruth's first Christmas, we are reminded of the hope and anticipation spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
(Isaiah 9:2-7 ESV)

May we continue in this hope as we know Christ came for us and continues to give us victory.

God bless & Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

There are Elves afoot...

So I've been called lots of things in my life.

Many I can't repeat on this blog.

But one of the most common has been elf - a reference to the legendary Elliott ears (They are the things of legend!) And, whether it was meant to be encouraging or not, I have embraced that title wholeheartedly.

Just check out this little piece of proof if you don't believe me!

So this week, I have really gotten in touch with my inner elf in preparation for Christmas

..and I've got a new son, Ethan.

We've been working night and day behind closed doors making a special gift for the girls. It has been wonderful. Ethan has measured and marked and drilled and sanded; all like a pro! And I have noticed a difference in his confidence and concern for others outside the workshop. I suppose it is his "elfness" coming into full bloom!

Now, of course I can't show you too much yet, but I'll post final pictures after Christmas!

So how are you getting your elf on this week?

God bless & Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Community is...

To kind of wrap up my series of posts on culture, I wanted to relay an experience I had with our Creative Worship Team a couple of weeks ago.

We found ourselves having a Tuesday night where we really didn't have that much planning to do, but since we enjoy spending time with each other so much, we decided to meet anyway and go on a little outing.

As I always like to use the time we are together as a learning experience, I thought we'd visit some places that could teach us something about culture.

So first we went to a local restaurant owned and ran by an Englishman who serves local, sustainable, organic foods as traditional dishes. His desire for his business is to support local community and economy. He wants to build his restaurant into a spot where people come by for food and a good conversation. It was so fun to be greeted with warmth and welcome. Our server was just about constantly with us, answering questions, asking us about ourselves and joining us in laughter. The owner came by a couple times to talk and shake hands. The team had a wonderful time trying all of the unique dishes I ordered up for them.

It was wonderful and refreshing. It was warm and welcoming. As one of us said, "I think I could live here."

After that we all went a couple doors down to a local independent movie theater. As we went into the very humble auditorium, we were all suprised at how rustic and small it was. It quickly became apparent many of the others in attendance were regulars. This fact was accentuated when the movie was about to begin and the manager came in to welcome us and began calling some people by name. He then proceeded to verbally do the announcements and previews before the lights dimmed and the features started.

It was kind of like going to someone's house you didn't know to watch a movie with their friends. But you found them to be the most hospitable and accomadating sort of people. It made you want to go back. It made you want to be a part of what they had.

That community.

As I came out of this experience, I was the most intrigued by how both of these places made it nearly impossible to stay anonymous. In our increasingly self-dependent, individualized culture this type of social interaction is becoming more rare.

And uncomfortable.

And yet, we each found ourselves drawn to these places. I think we all would go back to either one.

So it leaves me wondering, how can I push myself and those around me to face our discomfort and stop being so anonymous.

In that is at least one of the steps towards community.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jesus is Just OK sin?

As I work with young people and our culture, I see a growing belief among young Christians that is alarming.

It is this belief that sin is a given. It's not right; it's not good; but it's just the way things are. I have even seen this thought process grow into believing God "understands" that is the way things are so He is somehow okay with my sin. He forgives me after all, doesn't He?

But I find this to be a gross underestimation of the power of the Gospel. Just this week I was reading in 1 John and came across these words:

"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:4-10)

Strong words.

And the struggle there is we all know that it is true that none of us are perfect of ourselves or we wouldn't have needed Christ's sacrifice.

So here are some questions for us to wrestle with:

What does it look like to "make a practice of sinning"?
Is that different from a slip-up or a mistake or a moment of weakness?
What does it look like to "practice righteousness"?
Does being "born of God" give us a way to truly & totally leave sin behind?
How do we live in a way that is pursuing righteousness/leaving sin behind, yet not trying to trust in our own works to save us?

Look forward to your thoughts. God bless.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Little Cultural Research (Part 2)...

Today I'm continuing my theme on culture as I try to figure out what makes a culture work (or not work).

This week I watched another movie from decades ago - JAWS. This Steven Spielberg directed film debuted in 1975 (the year I was born), was the first movie to be released simultaneously nationwide (creating the Summer Blockbuster genre), and was the first movie to gross over $100 million (which is still a lot of money;).

And even though it is over 30 years old, it is still a great movie. Somehow it overcomes dated special effects and movie making techniques to continue to be a relevant and entertaining film.

My favorite scene is where shark hunter Quint, marine biologist Matt Hooper, and Police Chief Brody are sitting around on this little boat sharing scars and stories. There is something transcendent and real about this interaction that drives to my core.

So the cultural question of the day is:

How does something like Jaws continue to be culturally relevant while other things (see my previous post) do not?

Happy commenting and God bless!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Little Cultural Research...

So my wife and I were cruising on Netflix the other night after the kids went to bed and decided to watch an 80s classic, Roxanne.

For those not familiar, it is a 1987 film starring Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah about a guy with a really big nose who falls in love with a beautiful woman. It's a modern telling of the 19th Century play Cyrano de Bergerac. The movie is nominally okay.

But it sparked a conversation. We noted that for awhile in the 80s Darryl Hannah was one of those A-list actresses who starred in a lot of big movies but now you don't hear that much about her. On the other side Steve Martin is still going strong.

"Why is that?" we wondered.

So we went on through our week pondering until, thanks to @loswhit over at, I came across this:

Now, about 3/4 of the way through this incredibly bizarre video, there is Darryl Hannah...

...hiding her face

...and possible attempts to maintain youth through some facial modifications.

...amid a sea of other used-to-be's, has-beens, and one-hit-wonders.

And this experience left me feeling...

I don't know how it left me feeling.

Maybe sad, sick, nostalgic, amused, confused?

Here were all these people who we once lifted on a pedestal - about 90 percent of them idols and icons from my childhood - and now where are they?

It appears their life has been hard and sad since they left the limelight. And now these once examples of our society's pinnacle of success are reduced to a joke on Swedish TV.

So here are my questions for you:

1) How does this make you feel?

2) What age is the cutoff for this video even to make sense? (As I had a discussion with a room full of teenagers this week in which I found out none of them know who the Borg or Jean-Luc Picard were!)

Happy Commenting!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Had An Ephiphany the Other Day...

So I can't stop thinking about his concept of Advent this year. Partly it's because I'm teaching the youth about it on Wednesday nights so it's on my mind. But for many other reasons, I'm really excited about this ancient practice. Now, for many of us our only experience with advent was opening those little windows on some Advent calendar as a kid. (I only wish I'd had one as cool as this Smurf one I found online!) Advent though, which comes from the Latin term for “coming”, is actually a season set aside to prepare in great anticipation for the celebration of Christ’s coming on Christmas Day. Now for me, my involvement by opening little doors was simply to mark how close I was to the great gluttonly of gifts that happened on December 25th. The reality of Advent, however, is not in the mere marking of time, but rather a contemplative waiting. In our modern rushed society, we know little of this experience. Advent is meant to slow us down, to force us to savor what this season is supposed to represent. So for many still today, we start four weeks out from Christmas taking time each week to reflect on HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE, & ultimately CHRIST Himself! I’m challenging the youth this year to take some time to reflect on these principles. To take extra time to soak in God’s Word and wait for God to speak. To slow down and make this year more than just a rushed day of presents. And instead making it a preparation for the coming of God’s presence. Will you join us?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Traditions...

So my family decided to start a new tradition today.

We loaded up the van, drove to the country (okay, actually Cole's Tree Farm), and cut down our own Christmas Tree.

Yes, I let Ethan have a saw.

But he did have adult supervision.

Here he is with his conquest.

So we loaded it up on top of our van and hauled it home.

Set it up in our living room.

Decorated it with a few strands of brand new Christmas lights...

and some popcorn strings...

and of course the topper!

We even made some homemade cinnamon Christmas ornaments.

It was such a lovely day. So much better than sorting through piles of ornaments and artificial pine needles. It was refreshing and natural and the kids loved it.

I think we'll do it again next year.

So what are some of your family holiday traditions? Anything new you're trying this year?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

...and more from Trale Lewous!

I don't even like Skittles, but I love this!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All is...WELL?

For the first time in my life, I feel guilty for washing my hands.

Our youth ministry just completed the NO WATER DAY! - a challenge to go one day without using water for drinking or hygiene. This event was designed to help make ourselves and others aware of the global water crisis affecting approximately 1 billion people today.

I had no idea how hard this exercise would be!

Statistics say the average American washes their hands 6-10 times a day. It felt more like 25 for me, as I had to constantly fight my natural reflex to reach for the nearest faucet. The truth is that we individually use approximately 4 gallons of water a day JUST FOR WASHING OUR HANDS, while the average person in the developing world may only have 2.5 gallons a day for drinking, washing & cooking. To give you a little more perspective, we may use 100 gallons or more a day for those combined tasks.

So we went without water and then we came together on our Wednesday service to begin the process of figuring out what response we need to have to these facts.

The Old Testament Law says Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus says to give to others out of your abundance.

The New Testament Church modeled giving to everyone as they had need.

So we will prayerful be spending the next several weeks asking God to help us sort out how to apply these truths. I invite you to join us in prayer and discussion as we attempt begin to discern where and how to get involved.

Looking forward to exciting opportunities this next year!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

After much anticipation...

...I introduce to you Ruth Elizabeth Elliott!!

Little Ruthie joined our clan on September 27th a little after 10 A.M. in the morning. She has brought much joy/adjustment/wonder/unscheduleness to our lives.

Now that she is a month old, we are beginning to return to some routine.


Thank you to everyone for your prayers, gifts, thoughts, kind words and patience as we have celebrated this new life God has brought to us.

I am looking forward to many awesome days with Ruth and sharing many of the life lessons she teaches me here on the blog:)

God bless.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little Random Weirdness...

Just to show you how deep the path of weirdness on the internet can go, I'll share with you a little experience my family had this week.

We were watching some Sesame Street videos with Isaac when one had a reference to yodeling. One of my children asks, "What is yodeling?" To which my wife quickly suggests we should show them the goatherd song from Sound of Music. While trying to find that video we stumbled upon THIS video:

Amazing, right? But the weirdness did not end there.

Upon seeing that video, my son Isaac got really excited about sheep. So we started looking for sheep videos....

And we found maybe the greatest piece of YouTube wonder I've seen (at least for this week;):

Hope you enjoyed! What is your favorite internet weirdness o' the week?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What are you leaving...?

I've been thinking a lot about legacy this week.

It all really started when I went to Margaret Boggs' funeral. As I watched the pictures of her and her five children and listened to her son Randy and grandson Randell sharing about her faith and the impact it had on their life, it made me think of my own family. It made me think of how much Randy and his children have impacted my life. It made me think how far a legacy can go.

..And it made me think of what a huge responsibility it is.

On Saturday, our church had a ladies' conference and at one point they asked for who was the oldest lady in the room and determined that it was my wife's grandmother who is in her mid-nineties. And then they asked who was the youngest and found it to be my daughter Shiloh who is just seven. And it just made me realized how truly blessed I have been to enter into a family with a legacy of faith.

But as I read Deuteronomy 6, I realize this responsibility is now in my hands:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:6-7 ESV)

For me this week has been a reminder and an encouragement that I need to be diligent in passing on my faith by word AND example to the children I have been blessed with.

How about you. What kind of a legacy are you a part of? What are you passing on to others?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Orange Leaf

Our Creative Planning Team traveled to a magical place this past Tuesday...

Orange Leaf Self Serve Frozen Yogurt.

Now, for those of you who missed the memo, Orange Leaf is a new business popping up all over America featuring multiple flavors of frozen yogurt conveniently displayed in self-serve dispensers.

This is the way it works: You choose your own cup (either large or mega!). Then you fill your cup with your favorite yogurt flavors. Then you travel through the fixin's bar - complete with fresh fruit, whole nuts, breakfast cereals, entire candy bars and every type of liquid sugar you can think of! And then you place your creation on a scale and pay just 33 cents per ounce! Incredible! Ingenious! Indigestion!

So, since our little Creative Team's goal is to creative better creative spaces, we decided to travel to Orange Leaf for a little cultural research...

And here are my team's top 3 observations on why this place is so popular:

1. "It's shiny and bright" - And who doesn't like shiny and bright, right? Amid such a dreary, dark, difficult world, it is good to add a little color and cheer.

2. "It is simple." - While you have multiple flavor and topping options, you ONLY come to Orange Leaf for frozen yogurt. How many businesses, organizations, and churches try to diversify TOO much and create confusion.

3. "People like pulling the lever." - It seems that today's society likes the ability to have input into what they are getting. Whether it's something trivial like yogurt or meaningful like faith, they want to be able to engage in the conversation about what that's going to look like. They are looking for ownership. They are looking for involvement. They are looking for meaning. And somehow they are finding that at Orange Leaf.

Right behind these comments, the most heard statement from my team was "Why is it called Orange Leaf?" To which Tyler Boggs promptly replied, "Because it's too small to be a tree!"

Whether that is true, I do not know, but I do know that we gained plenty of food for thought about what engages this generation and what it takes to create a creative space.

How about you? What are your reactions to our observations? What are your own thoughts about Orange Leaf or whatever your current favorite space is? And how do these translate to our pursuit of Jesus Christ and reaching this generation for Him?

Look forward to some thoughts:)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Some Advice....

I stumbled upon this video a few days ago.

I was searching for something entirely unrelated (I don't even remember what now) when this caught my eye.

I first noticed it because it was attributed to Baz Luhrmann, the director of some great movies such as Romeo+Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and most recently Australia. I've always admired Baz's sense of story and his mixture of ancient and modern - elements I believe that speak greatly into our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.

But as I watched the video (which I later learned only the song was made by Baz - apparently he put out some remix album back in the late nineties!) I was so intrigued by the tongue-in-cheek humor of this pseudo commencement speech for the graduating class of life.

I appreciate the simplicity while questioning the inabsoluteness.

I marvel at the cheeriness despite the overarching message of hopelessness.

And most interestingly, I recognize the emotional pull of these words, but wonder how much of it actually rings true.

How about you. What are your responses. What is truth here and what is not? Why was this so popular? And what should this tell us about how we approach advice in our culture today?

Just some thoughts. Can't wait to hear yours. Peace.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"I Wasn't a Prophet...

...or the son of a prophet but..." (Amos 7:14)

So this past Wednesday, I woke up early and read this verse. I was amused because I often have heard our Senior Pastor quote this but couldn't have really told you where it was at. Now I knew.

(and knowing is half the battle!)

But I didn't think much more about it as i got ready to head to the hospital to visit with a youth group member who was having surgery. Little did I know that this verse was soon to take a new meaning in my life.

I got to the hospital and had a great visit with this fine young man and his parents. As I talked with them, they relayed how the young man was the only one of their children who was always in the hospital. I identified with that as my wife and I were both very cautious children and never in the hospital, but my sons were adventurous, often leaping before they looked. I conveyed that they were probably going to be, unlike my wife and I, the ones always in the hospital.

The surgery went well, so I said farewell to this fine family and headed back to the church. I wasn't at the church more than a half hour when I received a call from my wife stating Isaac, our nearly two year old son, had fallen and busted his head open and blood was everywhere. Obviously I rushed home immediately. My wife had by then cleaned off the blood to reveal a small gash right between Isaac's eyes. Not life threatening, but definitely ER worthy.

So Isaac and I loaded up and back to the hospital I went...

Prophetic? I don't know, but it is funny how we sometimes say things without realizing they might come true.

Have you said anything this week that came true? Have you said anything this week that you hope won't come true?


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Amish Life Lessons 101

My family has gotten the neat opportunity the last few months for some cooperative farming efforts with an Amish Mennonite family who lives near our community.

It has been refreshing to interact with them and their five watch their different pace of life...and to try to learn something from their priorities of community and family.

This week we were at the farm and got the chance to visit for a few minutes...and I had the most fascinating conversation with the husband.

He was asking me about the mission trip I took to Panama earlier this summer. He was so interested in the climate, landscape and farming techniques found there. He just asked me question after question about the Panamanian lifestyle. As we talked, I related how I was so touched by the relational focus of the Panamanians versus the time & task oriented American lifestyle...

(Now, here is where the conversation got mind-blowing for me.)

..and this Amish Mennonite man agreed. He related how he wished his life could have a different pace and be controlled less by time and the dollar. He went on to share how he feels that his grandparents couldn't have known the types of things that we face and, as much as he wants to live differently, he finds the culture rubbing off on him.


I mean this man farms with his family for a living. They grow or make much of what they use. They don't have electricity or vehicles. I don't think they have house payments or insurance premiums. And they live right in the middle of a cooperative community of like-minded individuals who, by my perspective, could survive together indefinitely even if the whole of American culture crumbled.

And he wishes for a different way of life.

I mean, the way he and his family lives reflects many of the ideals that I have wrestled with how to achieve for my own family. That is what even led us to pursue the small cooperative efforts that his family have so graciously allowed us to partake with them.

And yet his statements so reflect my statements. He appears to be wrestling with the same concepts I'm wrestling with.

So this leaves me perplexed. What does this mean in regards to the pursuit for simple living? I would love to hear any of your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

Looking forward to conversation...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Few More Questions

I thought I'd get in touch with my inner "Question Answer Guy" and put up responses to some more of the questions we received from the Kickoff.

Question #1: If a robot is doing the robot, is it really the robot or is it just dancing?

A great and complex question. First we must establish that we are truly talking about a robot and not some android or cyborg. Obviously if it were an android or cyborg, it would truly be doing the robot since their main function is to try to mimic human action. Therefore to dance the robot would be to mimic a human dancing the robot and thus would, in fact, be the robot.

But if it were an actual robot that would propose a more complicated analysis. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the primary service function of the robot. If he is a bottle-capping robot, for instance, and he makes the motion while capping a bottle, he is only dancing. But if he makes the motion outside of his normal function parameters, he must be doing the robot.

Question #2: What does Elvis have to do with the Gospel?

Ahh...a question that has haunted multiple generations. This dilemma first surfaced as a result of Elvis' famed Gospel tunes paralleled with his druggie, rock 'n roll ways towards the end of his life. For further on this dichotomy, check out

However, this questions has now moved on from poodle skirt wearing grannies to a whole new generation thanks to Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis book. It is a question that I myself have often wrestled with. The closest I have come to an answer was during a recent visit to a local flea market. There, tucked away in a dusty corner, were hanging - not one- but a whole collection of real live Velvet Elvis paintings. And as I realized that I was in the presence of these fuzzy purplish/black representations of the King, I definitely had a transcendent experience....but I can't say it had much to do with Jesus;)

Question #3: How do I get involved?

Wonderful question! I'm so glad you asked!

There are so many ways to get involved at 180, and we really want you to do just that. Let me just tell you a couple of ways that I think are good next steps if you've been coming on Wednesdays.

First is Creative Worship. This gathering every Tuesday from 7pm to approximately 8:30pm is designed to give you input into what happens at 180. At the base of it is a weekly discussion on what God is doing in our lives and our ministry and how we invite our friends into responding to that. Along the way we often discuss our lives and the Bible, and, of course, throw in a healthy dose of randomness. Everyone's welcome, so come try it out!

Second is Sunday School. If you are wanting closer relationships, deeper discussion, and more Bible study, Sunday School is a great place for you to start! It meets every Sunday from 10am to 10:50am.

Well, that is about all the time I have right now. God bless and hope to see you on Wednesday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kickoff Kraziness!

So our annual back-to-school Fall Kickoff was this past Wednesday...and it was crazy!

If you don't believe me, check this out:

For those of you who didn't make it out this Wednesday, we did lots of constructive things like drinking sodas through other people's socks and constructing what was possibly the world's largest dogpile during our little Ships & Sailors game.

We also had some wonderful worship as we sang along with the band and looked at what the Bible says about overcoming.

One of the most interesting parts of the evening, though, was our question answering duo, the Tylers. I only wish we had had more time for them. And I know some of you were disappointed because your wonderful questions weren't picked.

So I thought would answer a couple:

*If a turtle loses its shell, would it be homeless or naked?*

This is, of course, an age-old question much like "which came first: the chicken or the egg?" And, obviously, there are conflicting viewpoints, factions, cults and denominations who remain divided over the matter. Even in my own household, my children all, without hesitation, said "Homeless." But obviously he would only be naked, because he can always find another home.

*Why am I here?*

This is an excellent question, and, much like our first, an age-old, often-debated one! I believe the short answer, though, is because God loves you. In the creation account in Genesis 1, it says about us humans, "'Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness.'" and a little later He looked at everything, but only after making man, and said "It is VERY good." (emphasis mine). And as for you specifically, in the Psalms it accounts of God, "For you (God) formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it well." (Psalm 139:13-14) Know that you are here to know God and His love and to worship Him because of it!

Great questions! I may try to answer a few more later this weekend. I hope you can make it back next week as we start our new series "Life Hurts, God Heals"

God bless.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Blogging!


...after a LOOOONNNNGGGG hiatus, 180's blog is back!

It has been a hectic summer full of mission trips, camps, cross-country treks and other craziness. (I plan on making some posts on these topics over the next few weeks:) I have been surprised at how "normal" things have seemed already just after a few days of school being back in session - even though I don't have any direct ties with the school system. There must just be something about the fall the helps us return to the rhythm that always seems out of whack after a very spastic summer season!

So, now that we've all returned home from our journeys, I pray that we can return to pursuing together what it looks like to follow Christ in our world today and sharing some of our lives with each other as we go:)

If you are new around here, feel free to read our about section and peruse some of the past entries.

As you can see, while this blog is tied to 180 Youth Ministries because of my role there, it also spreads out into other areas of my life and interests. But all posts, I pray, center on the pursuit of piecing together how Jesus speaks and leads and molds and shapes us through this crazy life we live!

I plan on posting AT LEAST twice a week, so I hope you keep up with what's going on around here and leave a comment when you do.

Look forward to doing the journey of life with you...

God bless.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Beautiful Day...

There were so many memorable moments while in Panama, but one of the most special was getting to baptize Becky in the ocean.

She had told our team before our trip that she had never been baptized by immersion and felt that she needed to do that and do that in a large body of water.

It doesn't get much larger than the Pacific Ocean.

Or rougher as it was near high tide and the waves kept coming. Luckily we had David Beltz out there with us to hold off the waves and keep us from being sucked out to sea.

What a blessing it was to be a part of this very beautiful day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So I have been safely back in the States for a few days now. As I've been telling people who ask if I'm rested up, I'm feeling mostly normal now. Although I cry alot.

Not a sad sort of a cry but a "God is overwhelming and continues to overwhelm me" sort of a way.

For those of you who aren't tracking with me yet, a few details. I've just got back from a nine day mission trip to Panama.

This is currently my favorite photo from the trip. I believe it captures some of the mystery and beauty of our adventures.

This is my second favorite photo.

It's pretty self-explanatory.

I'll probably be sharing some more stories over the next few days/weeks. But I mostly just wanted to let everyone know that I was still I haven't posted in (gasp) over a month!

So hello...again. Hope you are still out there.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Singing in the Rain...

We all have a choice everyday in how we will respond to our circumstances.

Today my whole family attending our soon-to-be-cousin-in-law's graduation from MSU.

...and it poured down rain. Like flash flood. Like I'm thinking about building a large boat and putting some animals on it.

And we tried to get all six of us under one umbrella.

And walk four blocks to our van.

Did I mention we TRIED.

And then just when we were almost there (and totally soaked), we had to cross this nearly entirely flooded street. With four small children. Through about four inches of water.

So we got back to the van, wet all over, shoes and socks soaked to the skin.

And you know what my family said?

"That was fun! Thanks for bringing us, Dad!"

My family saw it as an adventure. They just loved being together.

May we learn to stop and just enjoy the wonder of life. God bless.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flying the Coop...

So our family have some chicks.

You know...cute little baby chickens. It's just another one of those little projects we are working on trying to simplify our lives and move closer to sustainable living and be in community.

So we are sharing some chickens with another family. We are housing them for awhile and then they'll move out to our friend's house.

It's a coop co-op.

And then we'll butcher them and put them in our freezer.

Here's my daughter Hannah's response to this idea...

So it is a fun little project. My kids love it. It is bringing us closer to our food chain and the rhythm of life. And they are awful cute also.

So what fun project is your family working on right now?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Are you Prepared...?

In less than a month, I'm going with these people to Panama.

We are PLANNING to go spend the first week of June in the small village of El Capuri and present a Bible School. (But those of us who have traveled to Panama before know sometimes God changes our plans;)

But this weekend, our team spent 17 hours together planning and preparing.

Here are a few highlights & impressions from our time:

Our team already is working so well together. I saw time after time this weekend our team members caring and helping each other. From sharing money to buy their "supplies" at the Salvation Army Superstore to giving their food away to each other to manhandling me and forcing me to sleep on a cot! The care our team showed each other was incredible.

Our team is already vulnerable with each other. Probably my favorite part of the time was sharing our testimonies with each other Friday night. I was blown away with how open everyone was about their struggles and their hopes. We shared laughter and tears together. We loved each other. It was beautiful to see the younger encourage the...ahem...more mature. And then to watch the elder members so beautifully speak into the youngers' lives. I believe it is so setting the stage for the adventure we will take together in just a few days.

Our team is ready for anything! I purposefully kept the details of the training from the members leading up to this weekend. I also purposefully structured the weekend to take us out of our comfort zone. We had to buy our needed supplies from a thrift store. We stood with cardboard signs in downtown Springfield during ArtWalk. We slept on cots in our makeshift "shelter". And through it all, no one complained. They trusted. They savored. They were joyful and excited. What a testimony to their desire to follow and obey God.

So many times God is calling us to do something. To go somewhere. To leave other things behind. And we are reluctant. Closed. Too busy. It was so refreshing to see this team already moving towards that trusting obedience and the expectation that God is wanting to move in the unknown and unexpected.

Probably the most unexpectedly wonderful thing that happened in our training time was Saturday morning. A little before 6AM, I awoke to hearing someone walking around in the church. After listening for a few moments, I began to realize it wasn't one of our team members. As I pondered what to do, I was suddenly surprised to hear singing.

As I listened, I realized I recognized the tune but couldn't quite make out the words. And then I realized why...because it wasn't in English! See the church (South Fremont FreeWill Baptist Church) that so graciously allowed us to hold our training at their facilities also shares space with a Korean Church.

I kind of knew that, but didn't realize that they held services at 6AM on Saturdays!!

So our team was awakened to the sound of "Lily of the Valley" being sang in Korean. And we all held in wonder the sounds of this beautiful service. You can't plan cultural training like that.

We are excited about what God has in store for us this summer. We ask you to join us in praying for the details of the trip and the lives that God wants to change.

God bless.