Fishing With Dad

One summer, I went fishing a few times with my dad at the cottage we used to own in Chaffey’s Locks, Ontario, and those are some of my favorite childhood memories with him. We’d wake up early and be out on the lake by six or seven in the morning, just he and I in our gray, tin motor boat I liked to call the “old tin can” because, well, it was not very beautiful.  Or fast.  But if you sat in very front, it afforded a bit of a fun ride if waves were high and you hit them just right

Finding a good place to cast our lines, dad would get the bate out, hook a worm onto the end of the line, then showed me how to use my own fishing rod.  I still remember the thrill of wondering whether I’d catch something.  There was a lot of patient waiting involved and I remember once we were even caught in some rain but that made the experience all the more adventurous.

Then came a big catch.  On one expedition, we came home victorious with a large bass and dad even showed me how to hold the fish by its mouth.  I felt so proud and important walking up the pathway from the dock to the cottage holding the wriggling fish, so excited to tell everyone we had done it and I had been part of the successful mission.  Accidentally, I dropped the fish once we got inside the cottage and it began flip flopping all over the floor while I screamed in horror but quickly and calmly, dad rescued it.   Then, as swiftly as it was rescued, the poor creature was killed and later cooked for dinner.

I think dad and I enjoyed that bass more than anyone else that night. We caught it after all and there is not more satisfaction than that.  I’m thankful for these memories and for dad including me in what was doubtless calm, relaxing time to be by himself if he wanted it to be.  He only had the opportunity to fish a few weeks out of each year after all.  But he let his adolescent daughter in on this time, introduced me to fishing and gave me memories that will always remain precious.

Thanks dad!  Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The House of Skid Row

An interesting tidbit about our new home – we bought it from the drummer of the 80s metal band, Skid Row!

The first clue was when we looked at the house and I thought, “wow, that’s a lot leather jackets” in the coat closet

And then in the master closet, nothing but black. My mom suggested “maybe they are from New York”

Finally, we discovered a drum set in the bonus room above the garage and came to discover it was the drummer of Skid Row. I thought that was a pretty cool piece of history to the home and got up the nerve to ask him to leave us a signed drum head.

Here is a video if you are unfamiliar with Skid Row:

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Proof

Sunday morning we dressed the kids in all their mostly recycled from last year (my shameful little confession) Easter finery and went to church.  I’ve been to approximately 29 Easter services in my lifetime and as we drove the 25 minute stretch down Peachtree Road, I found myself rehearsing in my head what the sermon would be about and even found myself saying to Rick, “how does a pastor prepare a sermon for Easter year after year and have anything new to say?”  Oh me of little faith.  Oh how I trivialize the story of Christ’s death and resurrection because of my familiarity with it.

Our pastor, in his cozy English accent, decided to focus much of his attention on Thomas, one of the twelve disciples.  He said, “Doubting Thomas is the most unfortunate title given to a man who gave one of the strongest statements of faith in the entire bible when he said, “my Lord and my God” upon seeing his savior for the first time after the resurrection.”  These words often get lost in the rest of the story.

Yes, Thomas needed proof that the man he heard had risen from the dead was indeed Jesus.  He makes this clear when he says to the other disciples, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  But we forget that first of all, he had not been present with the other disciples when they were meeting together and Jesus walked in unannounced, amazing them with his presence.  Thomas hears this story second-hand.

Is it bad that he demands specific proof?  Does this make him a particularly skeptical individual?   I look at this story and think about my children.  Each one of them is different and Micah accepts things without question more than Ellie.  She seeks more proof.   I would say Jesus gave such a gracious example when he responds to the desire of Thomas by showing him all the evidence.  He enters the room and tells his disciple to touch his nail torn hands and put his hand into his side, meeting him where he is at.

Yet Jesus did expect a faith-filled response as he then says, “stop doubting and believe” and “because you have seen me you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  These words are, I suppose, the premise for the title “doubting Thomas” but, like Pastor Gardner said, I think the story is about much more than doubting.  I think it is about a man who is just like many of us…he hears a story that sounds unbelievable and seeks proof which, upon getting, he believes with every fiber of his being.  How many of us would respond exactly as he did?  I’m certain I would.

As a mom, I want to be like Jesus in my response to spiritual questions or doubts, graciously leading my children to the proof without reproving them first while also expecting that when they are given the proof they seek, they will accept it.  I don’t want to promote idle questioning but questioning with the purpose of finding the answer.   As Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote, “God has communicated to man, the infinite to the finite. The One who made man capable of language in the first place has communicated to man in language about both spiritual reality and physical reality, about the nature of God and the nature of man.” 

The Infinite has communicated with the finite through His word and given us infinite proof.  And like Thomas, I pray my children will all see who he saw, their Lord and their God!

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Our New, Future Home

It’s like waiting for Christmas as we anticipate moving into our first home at the end of April! I look at the pictures of our beautiful place every day, dreaming about what colors the walls should be, where our furniture can go, what it will be like to be able to sit on the upper veranda at night after the kids go to bed, etc. This place is more than we could have asked for…WAY more!

While scouring house listings night and day, I stumbled upon the neighborhood it is in when we looked at another house for sale near by. That house was not an option for us but we instantly fell in love with the area…it reminds us of a little town in Connecticut that we visited a few times while living in Brooklyn. A few streets lined with craftsman style homes much like ours, each with their own unique personalities and nothing cookie cutter about them. It is a diverse area both racially and socioeconomically which is what we are used to from four years of urban living and there is just enough of a small town feel to the area to make this city living feel like a great in between.

Interestingly, we have a small bit of backyard but most of our green space is shared with some other neighbors. At first, this worried us but now we feel excited about the opportunity to get to know our neighbors better as we will not be able to “hide” from each other as is easy to do. In the next year, there is a plan to put up a small playground area and another fence which will make things feel perfect for us.

There is much more that could be said but I must run as the kids are about the destroy something so anyhow, come May, this will be our residence! Visitors are always welcome!:)


Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Signs On His Canvas

I am not one of those people who believes in signs.  Not usually anyways.  I know that God usually speaks to us through the bible, prayer and the wisdom of other Christians but, I have to be reminded not to discount His revelations to us through creation.  Always He is showing us that He is the master painter, the grand artist who owns the whole universe as His canvas.  People who have never been told explicitly about God have become His followers simply because they have recognized Him through all He has made, acknowledging Him and worshiping Him.  Sometimes He blindsides us with His majesty, so we can barely speak.

Yesterday morning as I was running, I was given a precious glimpse of His glory.  As my feet pounded the ground at 6:45 in the morning, I was listening to my favorite worship album, lost in the lyrics of one particular song entitled, “We Come to Jesus”:

“I am He, who is alive and behold I died to save the ones I love, to raise them up to life!

Now you are mine and I am yours!  Night has passed, let us go to greet the bright eternal morn!”

And suddenly, before my eyes, I beheld a cross.   In a simple telephone wire I pass frequently, I saw more than a mere two poles fashioned together as I usually do but I saw a cross reaching up to the still waking heavens and the sight caught my breath.  The gnarled branches of a nearby tree seemed to reach like dozens of arms for the hope of creation.  It was one of those moments where I simply wanted to fall down and give thanks.  It was humbling to be reminded so tangibly in the middle of worship that I am forgiven and I am loved.  So loved by the one who died on an object that reaches north, south, east and west.  A love which encompasses the whole world with a promise of hope and rescue.

I had Rick’s iphone with me so I got this picture.  A reminder of the gift I received.  Such a hope makes me feel clothed in love, a daughter of my heavenly Father, my King, my Creator, my Savior.  Everything.  Thank you Father!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” – Psalm 19

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Rescuer

Teaching my children about God is an honor I often fail to grasp. Yet, little old me has the opportunity to daily radiate the creator of the universe to young, thirsty souls who not only need Him but need to truly understand what He is all about and who they are with Him or without Him.

With Him, we are sinners and without Him, we are sinners.  It’s an amazing concept to grasp.  Our God is no respecter of persons but lifts the veil for some so they see themselves for who they truly are and their reflections make them cringe; He breaks them. A work of no one else but a potter who wants His clay to be malleable in His hands, for hardened clay is unavailable to His use and will remain as such unless dashed to pieces.

A few weeks ago, I asked my dad, “What breaks a person?” His answer surprised me as I was expecting a formula from the mouth of one much wiser than I and one who wondered all his early life without a knowledge of God. “You know, it all comes down to whom God has called,” he replied. “I came to hate my life without God and life became depressing but that was because God was at work. One person will continue in the life I was living and be quite happy to do so while I couldn’t continue in it any longer.”

There is nothing innately pretty about any of us and there is nothing we are incapable of doing or being. Yet, His (chosen before the beginning of time) sinners become saints, clean, because of the work of one who became the ugliest sinner on our behalf.  He came to be, as “The Jesus Storybook Bible” reminds my children repeatedly, “our Rescuer.”  And yes, we’re redeemed messes once we become followers of Christ but we’re still sinners and I like to remind my children of that fact. It diminishes the “us and them” gap and reminds them it is the act of pure, unadulterated grace which bestows on individuals the gift of salvation and the ability to see clearly that which is truth. That which we truly are without God’s help. That which we become in Him.

I pray my children will want a rescuer and will not trust in any other person or thing for help. I pray they will be malleable clay in the hands of the potter. I pray they will recognize that salvation does not come because we are so good or because we’ve grown up hearing about God but because we are given eyes to see who we truly are as in a mirror. The depravity of our hearts. The unmerited forgiveness and salvation that is ours in Jesus. The awakening He and He alone can bring.

As “The Jesus Storybook Bible” states so beautifully for my children, “That’s why, before the beginning of time, God had another plan-a better plan. A plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it-a plan to one day send His own Son, the Rescuer.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Defense of Libertarianism

We’ve been watching the Republican primary closely and there is a polarization of Conservatives against the Libertarian wing. Ron Paul is a poor articulator of libertarian philosophy, so I’d like to give it a shot.

Libertarians believe in the principle of inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property – for all people, applied equally. We believe the individual is of supreme importance. Individuals should be free to exercise life, liberty, and property so long as they do not violate contract or infringe upon another person’s rights.

Importantly, rights must be defended for those who are different from ourselves. If we cannot hold to a principle when it doesn’t affect us personally or maybe even makes us uncomfortable – then we have no rights at all, we have only tyranny of the majority. If we do not have the rule of law, applied and respected equally, then we do not have security of rights we have anarchy.

Libertarians believe in principle not pragmatism. Supporting the lesser evil or suspending principle for what seems beneficial  in the short term is unacceptable.

What does this mean practically and applied to policy?

The Christian church in New York has been singled out to be thrown from public buildings, though any other community organizations are free to continue meeting. I find this deeply troubling as a Christian. What if the issue at stake was the freedom of Muslims to meet in schools? A wiccan? I only truly have a secure right to worship as a Christian when those of any other faith have that same right or my right rests on political whim.

The political view of the day is populism which is concerned for people as groups or society as a whole. With this approach, one isn’t concerns for a small percent who are negatively impacted. A Libertarian is concerned for people as individuals. It is better 10 guilty go free than 1 innocent be convicted.

It may seem to us that the measures put in place for terrorism are applied to obvious terrorists. One might say it is ok to detain without trial, because these are people who are fighting for the enemy. But if they are so obviously guilty, we should have no difficulty securing a legal judgment.

To die at the hands of a terrorist attack would be a tragedy. But terrorists are a known risk and a known evil. A far greater tragedy is for the “good” institutions of government to sweep up innocent people and destroy lives because someone mistook their patterns of activity. A great shame it is to definitely lose liberty because one might be impacted by terrorism.

Military use represents the greatest divide between Conservatives and Libertarians. Most Republicans believe government is the problem, they don’t want government getting too big or taking over their healthcare. Libertarians believe in small government at home AND small government abroad. We don’t trust government at home or abroad. We don’t believe government can solve complex problems or build free societies abroad any more than they can at home.

A strong defense is a necessary function of government. But it should be a defense, not an offense. Just as there are many sharp objects and potential dangers in our day to day life, there are many potential worldwide threats. But to run around and eliminate all risk in both cases would be to trade a possible bad situation for a definite loss of liberty.

Ron Paul has some obvious faults, he’s not a great speaker, he’s had some real lapses of judgment, but he gives voice to philosophies of liberty the founders believed in and a growing number of Americans are desperate to hear again in the political dialogue.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Amelia's Miracle Year

Exactly one year ago, on December 22nd, Amelia was checked into Long Island Hospital and, as many people know, the next weeks and months of our lives were spent trying to find answers, seeing multiple therapists and wondering if our little girl would ever be normal and healthy.

Amelia was 8 months old at that point and had stopped rolling over or doing much physical activity.  She had become a poor breast feeder and was not getting adequate nutrition but absolutely refused the bottle.  The joints in her back were stiff so sitting up was almost impossible.  Our doctor hadn’t seemed overly concerned and we kept hoping the situation would improve but it had become obvious things simply were not right and our little girl needed help fast.  So we packed some bags and settled into our hospital room, not realizing exactly what lay before us and that, instead of spending Christmas in Atlanta as planned, we would be remaining in snowy New York.  God knew Amelia’s physical needs were more important than any Christmas plans could be.

After being diagnosed with Failure to Thrive, the one and only diagnosis she was ever given, an ng tube was inserted through Amelia’s nose and down her throat for feedings.  Her energy levels increased considerably, her color improved and quickly, she began rolling over.  It was incredible how immediate the progress was.  It was difficult to see her with a tube obstructing her tiny, sweet little face but seeing the difference in her was a comfort!  We were discharged from the hospital on December 29th and soon after, an intense therapy routine began.  In those first months of physical therapy in particular, Amelia made fast progress and was soon able to support herself on her stomach as well as sit up without help.  Amazingly, her poor weight gain had caused the stiffness in her joints, something I did not know was possible.  She began crawling at thirteen months and was walking by sixteen and a half months.  None of the therapists predicted she would be crawling let alone walking that quickly after all her gross motor set backs!  Their predictions had been that she would not be walking until 2 years of age!

While her gross motor skills continued to improve, her interest in eating seemed to be at a standstill and up until the last two months or so, she was still getting the majority of her nutritional needs met through formula.  And yet, I can happily report that Amelia is blooming into an enthusiastic little eater, downing yogurt, rice, couscous, bananas, cookies galore, goldfish, cheese and other foods.  For us, this is a gift straight from God!  No one could make Amelia acquire an interest in food…we learned that the hard way through months of feeding therapy by a talented, kind therapist that brought about little progress.  Now the time is right and I am continually amazed my baby girl is beginning to eat like a normal toddler!  This morning alone, she enthusiastically ate cherios, yogurt and banana for breakfast.

This year has been more difficult than any other I have yet lived but through it all, I have discovered more first hand knowledge of God’s faithfulness!  He has sustained our family and showered us with his love.  He is our great physician and I have seen him bring my daughter from weakness and frailty to health, energy and joy!  Amelia is a little girl that radiates joy in her whole demeanor and I see the difficulties she has been through have only made her a more resilient girl.  Her brother and sister adore her and I think the months of seeing her in need of physical help and healing made them more compassionate.  For a while, their needs really did have to be put in second place to hers but they got through that tough time and I am proud of them!

And how can I thank my husband enough for the man he has been this year?  He has been my support every step of the way and given up so much of himself to help Amelia.  For example, he used to sit for hours feeding her when we were in the midst of weening her off the feeding tube.  One woman actually got tears in her eyes seeing my husband with his little, tiny precious girl in his arms, patiently holding a bottle to her lips that wanted food but were unable to feed efficiently.  Whatever amount of time it took, he was there for his Amelia and was a picture to me of Jesus with us.  He is our shepherd (as Ellie loves to say) and we are His lambs who He patiently helps and nurtures, enfolding us in His arms when we are in danger.  He never lets us go and a good earthly father will be a symbol of that undying love.  Rick is that father and I am blessed!

God works.  God heals.  God delivers.  We bare testament to this and we will never forget His faithfulness!  “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” -Isaiah 54:10

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Jesus Lives in Brooklyn

(This is a re-post of a piece I wrote about three years ago.  After recent legislation has deemed that New York City churches meeting in public schools must be out of those schools by February 12th, I wanted to bring some encouragement to dear friends at one such church in Brooklyn.)

From a young age, I’ve always had a fascination with New York City. For example, when I was seventeen or eighteen, I read a book entitled “Jesus Doesn’t Live in Brooklyn,” the story of a man named Bill Wilson and his work amongst mostly youth in Brooklyn through a group called Metro Ministries. The title was derived from the seemingly hopeless spiritual situation Wilson first encountered upon beginning his work in Brooklyn…thousands of children growing up in broken circumstances with no knowledge of Christ. He arranged for literally bus loads of children to be picked up and taken to church each Sunday and looked out for them during the week as well. Whether he continues his work today or not I don’t know but Metro Ministries is still active.

The title though really caught my attention and now, living in Brooklyn, I can see why it would be easy to conclude at first glance that surely Jesus does not live here. Like my older sister commented while visiting last week, “I can just feel that New York is so spiritually dark.” One has only to hear about the rough beginnings of our three and a half year old church to know the very real and unabashed hatred towards Christianity in this neck of the woods. As the first urban church plant Sovereign Grace Ministries began (they typically plant in suburban areas), no one knew what lay ahead for our congregation or what particular challenges would be faced. Almost immediately, some became clear: Persecution and hatred.

Meeting in an abandoned church turned apartment building, our congregation first faced obvious hostility from the apartment tenants who would tear down signs temporarily put up each Sunday to advertise our church, do anything they could to disrupt the services with such drastic measures as calling fire trucks to come to the building. They said the worship services were too noisy, continually complaining even after many sound proofing measures were enacted. The tipping point came when they had a lawyer who lived in the building draw up a lawsuit and sued what was then only approximately twenty or thirty members for one hundred million dollars!

Now, a few years later, our church is still alive and a vibrant community. It is a beacon of light in a city that can seem so spiritually dark. We may never be a large congregation so if you count success in numbers, then perhaps we’re failing. We don’t have a church building…sixteen or so schools and other random facilities have been our “home” instead, so if you think four grand walls or an immense church building project deems health and success, we have no hope.

From the stories I hear though, the success Jesus has granted our church is the greatest of all because it is eternal. He has thwarted many efforts of Satan on our behalf. Obviously our tiny band of people poses as much if not a greater threat then a large mega church might because our pastor and leaders are dedicated to bringing a bold, uncompromising gospel to Brooklyn. We believe that “blessed are those who are persecuted.” It is this very act which gives us assurance we are bringing the right message across. Wasn’t Jesus hated and ridiculed for most of His ministry? He said the world would hate us too…it is the inevitable result of truly striving after Him, of not watering the gospel down to make it palatable. Easy and compromised.

So, in a humble elementary school auditorium, His spirit dwells each Sunday and with the passion which fills the place for those few hours, I’m sure throughout the week as well. How incredible that the King of kings and Lord of lords does not ask for a dwelling of gold or silver or bronze. Aesthetics mean nothing to Him. The savior who took his first breaths in a lowly stable and died in the open air asks only for our lives and our hearts. It is with those “materials” that He builds His church.

Now, almost ten years after reading of Wilson’s ministry, I feel truly privileged to be able to bare witness to the fact that yes, Jesus does indeed live in Brooklyn!

“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us…”- Martin Luther.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Last NYC Date Night

(Ya, I know.  I don’t exactly look dressed for a night out watching ballet…I seriously don’t even know how to get dressed up anymore!;)

We have never suffered for enough date nights since living in New York thanks to friends (specific thanks to Elizabeth Wigle and the Hoyts) and have been able to do a lot of things sans children which is always a treat.  Last night, as a last hurrah to New York City date nights, we went to see the show “Jewels” at the New York City Ballet since we had never seen a ballet here.   It was absolutely beautiful, the enjoyment heightened by the chocolate covered nuts I bought from the theater snack bar and proceeded to eat as we watched!;)

After the ballet, we walked around, heard some rather perverse conversations going on around us, saw a guy stripping off his button down shirt for two other guys (I don’t know what was going on yesterday but I saw/heard really weird stuff on the street) and then had dinner at a restaurant across the street from the theater.  Next we found a Starbucks open until 1am so at 11:15pm, we were very happy to find out we could still get some coffee before we had to get back on the subway into Brooklyn and our night had to officially end!

Now, we are preparing to leave tomorrow for a week long trip to Canada.  We’ll start out in Toronto, then head to Ottawa and end in Montreal before heading back to Brooklyn and packing up for OUR MOVE BACK TO ATLANTA! We’ll be moving the first week in November…where to begin with all the packing?  I don’t even know…

Oh New York, we will miss you!  Our time here has been filled with so many blessings and we will always be so grateful for our 4 year adventure in the city of all cities!

“Jewels is unique: a full-length, three-act plotless ballet that uses the music of three very different composers…” -NYC Ballet

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments