Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him


The other day I was singing O Come All Ye Faithful during church and began to ask myself what does it mean for me to adore Christ?

Did it look different for the shepherds and the wise men to adore Christ when they traveled to see him in a manager then it does for me to adore him almost 2000 years later?

Webster defines adore three ways:

1. to worship or honor as a deity or as divine

2. to regard with loving admiration and devotion

3. to be very fond of

I think I really love the line "Oh come let us adore him" because each word has a specific meaning that is truthful!

Come: This invokes action. We are invited through the grace of God to join in the worship of Christ. This word also shows that living for Christ and worshiping him involves us being active rather then stagnant.

Let Us: Being a Christian is not about an individual being alone in their worship and study of Scripture. We are all a covenant family that is called to care for one another and worship him together. At the service on Christmas Eve, stop singing for a minute and listen to the rest of the congregation. Then imagine if it was just you in the congregation singing. There is so much beauty in all the voices gathered together bringing praise, honor, and glory to Christ.

Adore Him: I think I love this phrase because it calls for deep relational love. My husband has told me many times that he adores me, but the love my husband has for me is only a glimpse of the love that Christ has for us. It is because of this love that we can adore HIM! I think Webster's definition was right and adoring Christ encompasses all of those definitions. Adoring Christ doesn't just have to happen at church or during the Christmas season, but it can happen throughout all of life!

-Linds

Painting by a Dutch painter named Matthias Stomer

His Faithfulness is Good!


A few weeks ago my facebook status said "I wish I had built an ebenezer during all of my years of finals weeks to remind me that I made it through." One friend reminded me that I am that ebenezer because I am standing strong even after all of those horrible weeks of finals. I remember in college my friends and I would pray that Jesus would return that night so we wouldn't have to take our finals. I guess the Lord wanted us to learn something from our experiences and that is why Jesus hasn't returned yet! :) Well I am sure there are more reasons then just that.

Well I made it! God is faithful and I feel so blessed to be now standing on the other side of this fall's semester. Both Drew and I have grown so much this year during our counseling internship! I have learned and am continuing to learn so much about myself and my own story.

After our last day we took some time to stop and pray thanking God for helping us to make it through. We blogged about our anxieties before the semester started here, and it is awesome to look back and see his faithfulness.

To celebrate Drew and I will be spending a lot of time resting over Christmas break and celebrating another way the Lord has been faithful, by sending his Son Jesus as a baby to live and ultimately die to pay the penalty for our sins.

I am excited about the possibility of a white Christmas, baking Christmas cookies, playing games, reading books by our Christmas tree that is pictured above, seeing Christmas lights, and hanging out with friends!

"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."
Isaiah 9:6

-Linds

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Togetherness-ness!

So tonight Linds and I met with our small group of couples from our church, and it was awesome. I've been a part of a number of attempts to "make big church feel small" in the past, and with more or less consistency, it just hasn't worked. I am a big goofy guy. I am loud. I like to play and laugh hard. As such, I often feel the need to monitor or censor myself in public groups because, if I am not careful, I can often wind up being "that guy." "That guy" who always speaks up, always has the joke, always has an answer, always prays, always entertains, etc. I don't want to be that guy; it isn't fun and he doesn't have many friends, he's too different to really fit well. But tonight's group was different. We've been meeting with just a few couples for about a year now, and we've just started to expand with a few more joining us. I can't really put my finger on it, but it just works. I realized as we drove away tonight that I didn't have even one thought about questioning my actions with this group: I haven't left a group feeling that way in ages. I was comfortable, and that sometimes feels like a very rare thing. I may still be the tallest penguin in the group, but it's nice to have people to huddle with

-Drew

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Real Life Fiction


Ok, I'll admit it: I'm reading the Twilight series. I like to justify my actions by attributing them to a commitment to staying up to date with teenage interests, or simple investment in the rising contemporary culture, but while these thoughts are true, the fact of the matter is that once you get past all the "smoldering," the story is actually pretty fun. I started the first book as a distraction from all the heavy school reading I had to do, and now I'm on the third, Eclipse. I love reading because if you've resisted having your imagination dulled by the dullness of the remaining strands of modernity and the absurdness of the currently reigning postmodernity, then you can quietly leave your own world for a while and enter into the life of the story. When these stories work as escapes for me from the rigors of work or school it can often be hard for me to come back to real life once again. However, this has been becoming less and less the case with the books I read lately.
A few months ago, after a year or so of hearing people croon on and on about the movie Avatar and the overwhelming beauty of Pandora, Linds and I broke down and watched it. It was very entertaining, and the world the movie created was fun, but as I watched I was reminded of a quote from ol' Clive Staples Lewis that said something like "If we ever saw how glorious we really are as creations of God, we would be tempted to bow down and worship humanity" (can anyone help me with a reference here?). While it is good and right to get caught up in our imaginations in the colors of Pandora, the intensity in Forks, WA, the clarity and passion of Middle Earth, all those adventures from a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away, our enjoyment of each of these worlds should point us back with wondrous eyes to the people we are and glory of the creation around us.
It would certainly be more exciting if Linds were a vampire/werewolf, if we were being watched by the Volturi, and pursued who knows what else, but the excitements of that life and the intensity of that relationship have been helping me to open my eyes more to the adventures of my own life and the intricate passions I share with Lindsey. As Tolkien once said, "A good story is just the truth writ large," and as I read more stories I am finding myself delighting more and more in the truth of the story God has set ME in.
The woods over my back deck have no vampires in them, and I don't pop-corn into a mammoth wolf when I get mad, but even the bark of the trees is beautiful enough to spark entire worlds in the mind of the careful observer, and the passion I feel for my bride could inspire epic sagas that could even do naught but shadow the truth they strive to reflect.
I do love fiction, but fiction inspires an even deeper love for the True story that God has set me in - not to mention the characters that go with it!

"If you want people to hear the truth, tell them. If you want them to know the truth, tell them a story." - Eudora Welty

- Drew


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zechariah


I've been spending a lot of time reading in Luke lately; I've been camped out in chapter one for a while now. This has not been out of any kind of intense super-study or anything like that, it's just that it's a pretty fascinating piece of Jesus' story. I have found myself fascinated with his aunt and uncle, Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptists' parents.

I started in verse 57 today, with the birth and naming of of John. It is amazing to see how committed they both are at this point to trusting the angelic news that Zechariah originally doubted! Because Zechariah can't speak yet, the naming of the child falls on Elizabeth, and she stubbornly sticks to "John," just as Gabriel instructed. Finally bearing a child after so many years of barrenness must have been one of the most powerful signs of God's movement that either of them could have imagined. However, as their reactions demonstrate in the story that unfolds, their primary joy was in what these signs pointed to: the fact that God was coming! If their son was set aside to prepare the way, then the promised Messiah was on the verge of arrival! God's immediate faithfulness in their pregnancy, as mind blowing as it was, was but a sign of the imminent covenant fulfillment promised from the very beginning.

For Elizabeth, her first words to Mary when she visits in 1:39-56 are exclamations of joy at the one Mary carries, delighting in her own pregnancy in the way it reflects the glory of Mary's! For Zechariah, the moment that he regains his speech, he launches into a prophetic psalm about not who his son is (that takes a very minor role), but about who his son will be announcing! Incredible! What hope this sparked for them as they saw not only God's faithfulness in their own lives, but his faithfulness in all of his creation's life. All this is beautifully illustrated in the culmination of his psalm:

And you, child [John], will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord [Jesus] to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of Salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
- Luke 1:76-79

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, as we delight in the gifts that God gives us, we should also delight in these blessings as signs of his eternal faithfulness in working his story of redemption in all of creation!


-Drew

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Quote

Some creative cookie decorating at our house!


Creativity is... seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God.

-Michele Shea

I heard this quote tonight at the Christmas women's gathering at my church. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and a time to enjoy the arts. There was some art displayed, a sweet lady (who happens to be an artist) gave some thoughts on using our creativity for the glory of the Lord, and then we all had the privilege of listening to "Vocal Spectrum" an AMAZING acapella quartet! You should check them out!

I absolutely LOVE the quote at the top! What beautiful imagery of being a playmate with God. Creating something beautiful and bearing the image of the ULTIMATE CREATOR! It is only through his grace that we have the ability to use the gifts that he has blessed us with and work with him to bring beauty into the world around us! I love it! The speaker tonight encouraged us to use our creative gifts in whatever capacity that that might mean for us.

It causes me to dream of all the creative things that I love. Singing, setting a beautiful table and serving a meal to loved ones, scrap-booking, singing (I really love this one), creating centerpieces, taking old furniture and making it into something beautiful, keeping my house clean so that it is a warm place to relax, writing notes to friends, and so many more!

The next creative thing that I am looking forward to is decorating for Christmas at my house, and decorating for the Christmas Banquet for the Seminary this Friday! I am helping with centerpieces and designing the programs!

What do you love to do? How do you use your creativity to bring beauty to your space, your relationships, and the world around you?

P.S. Want to watch something really creative? Check this out!

-Lindsey

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Again!


I used to hate cold rainy days. A lot. Lindsey has always loved them, and I never really understood why. A couple years ago Linds pointed out that she loves them so much because it feels like there has been a big blanket pulled over the sky, and so we have to stay indoors and stay wrapped up in blankets too. This made a lot of sense to me, and since then I have also grown to look forward to soggy grey days.

This morning as we were rolling out of bed, looking out the window it was all grey, there was a slow drizzle, and we knew that there was nowhere we had to go until the late afternoon, and even then our only responsibility would be to eat copious amounts of delectable food. Dare I say it? Yes, this is the perfect fall day, and it is only right that it should be an official day of intentionally thanking God for all the things he has given us. A few items from my list, in no particular order:

1. Pies. All of them.

2. My bride, with whom I continue to learn more about the depths of friendship and the blessings it brings than I have ever thought imagined. Our friendship stands as the solid base out of which our love grows, and the longer we are together, the more I look forward to being around her. Her passion for adventure, delight in creation, and excellence in learning and live are inspiring and humbling to me. I only grow more intrigued by of her thoughts, smile, and voice!

3. The beauty of creation around us, and how even a frigidly soaked tree trunk, darkened by the slow fall of the morning rain, can detail the attention and intention with which God designed this world for us.

4. My cat, Mia, who has more personality than I ever would have expected.

5. The healthy relationships that working with the Global Youth and Family Ministry has brought me with friends, family, students, and even those in authority over me. I have learned so much from these, and I am excited to see how God will keep growing me in these.

6. The privilege of living far away, and the joy of hosting friends and family when they visit and enter into the life we've built.

7. The opportunity to learn what it means counsel others well, as well as to be counseled myself. Learning these skills in relationships has been like seeing a new color, or discovering a new flavor to me! They not only open to me their own new aspects of life, but the skills learned there are bountifully enriching all the other aspects as well.

-Drew

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey, Stuffing, and Pie

This afternoon was the beginning of Thanksgiving break! We are so excited to have some time off of school, and to spend it with Chase who is Drew's brother. We wish we could have joined the rest of the Wilkins family in Hawaii for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately timing and money kept us here in St. Louis.

Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday. I bravely ventured out to the grocery store around 5 p.m. today to buy some items. It was neat to see so many people buying food to prepare to celebrate with friends and family.

When Thanksgiving comes it causes all of us to reflect on what we are thankful for. Here are a few things that came to my mind:

1. God's unending mercy and grace!

2. My sweet husband who works so hard and NEVER complains. His schedule is so full between work, school, and seeing clients. I am thankful for how he takes care of our family, and continues to follow God's calling to becoming a pastor.

3. My warm and cozy apartment. I find so much relief and rest whenever I walk in the door. Now I just can't wait to put up our Christmas tree!

4. The blessing that it has been to study at Seminary learning about God and his work in this world. The Lord has sustained us and also sanctified us so much since starting Seminary. I am looking forward to celebrating his faithfulness at graduation in MAY!

5. The amazing adventures that we have been able to go on since we have been married.

6. The adventure that we are about to embark on as we continue the process of raising support and working as missionaries with MTW. God has been so faithful and continues to guide our steps!

Of course there are a million other things that I am thankful for. The older I get the more I realize how important the simple prayer of thanking God for our food is. Every good and perfect gift is from the Lord, and without his mercy and grace I would have nothing.

Looking forward to joining friends for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. I am making mashed potatoes for the feast! :) I am really looking forward to some apple pie too!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

The picture is the Turducken that Drew and I made last year.

-Lindsey

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Browsing Through The Periodicals


Good Afternoon! I have tendency to get distracted when I think about sitting down to write a paper that I am NOT very excited about. So this morning my distraction led me into the Current Periodical Room in the library at school. As I was browsing through I saw titles like: Toronto Journal of Theology, Mission Frontiers, Presbyterian Heritage, and The Journal of Youth Ministry. This is just a sampling of a few of the titles; oh how I wish I had more time!

I found my way down to the journals about theology and psychology and my eyes were drawn to this particular title. The Journal of Psychology and Theology with an article titled, Evaluating the Impact of Transition Seminars on Missionary Kids' Depression Anxiety, Stress, and Well-Being. BINGO! Drew and I have done a significant amount of research regarding the topic of caring for MKs as they transition back to the states. Unfortunately not a lot has been written, and even in this article the researchers agree that more research needs to be done!

I won't bore you with all of the psychological research jargin (though I confess I find it fascinating!). I was extremely encouraged by the research that was done. I know we have defined before what a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is, but I will remind you again just in case you forgot.

"A TCK is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar backgrounds (other TCKs)" (Pollock and Van Reken, 2001).

We have seen this first hand working with TCKs. They have an extraordinary gift of crossing cultures, interacting with others who are different from themselves, and looking at life from a more global perspective. However, there is also a lot of struggle with growing up in this way. The research done in this study was to see whether an MK Transition Seminar that helps TCKs adjust to life back in the states changes their level of anxiety, depression, and stress, and psychological well being.

The findings are incredible and I think very affirming of the ministry that The Global Youth and Family Ministry is embarking on.

35 recent high school graduates from schools overseas who were attending re-entry conferences in two different locations in the U.S. were tested. The mean age of the participants was 18.11 years. This sampling of students actually represents 28.6% of the total population of students that attended these two conferences.
Two different psychological tests were completed before the conference and after to gather quantitative info. (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales-21(DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), and (Psychological General Well Being Index (PGWBI; Dupuy, 1984).

Like I said above the results are amazing. Are you ready??

For the first test (DASS)-
43% of participants were experiencing levels of anxiety and depression pre-conference and
66% were experiencing levels of stress.

After the conference it was reported that levels of anxiety and depression dropped to 20% and the number of participants experiencing stress dropped to 14%

For the second test (PGWBI)-
Pre-conference 43% reported moderate or severe distress to their psychological well-being
Post-conference this number dropped to 17%

After the conference there was a 57% increase in psychological well being!!!

I know that was a lot of numbers and hopefully you were able to hang in there! At the conference TCKs participated in small group discussions led by a therapist, individual counseling, gender specific discussions led by a fellow TCK, social activities that helped TCKs feel more comfortable in cultural activities, and psycho-educational conversations in a large group setting. They were given opportunities to share their stories and therapists used narrative therapy as a technique during counseling sessions. One of the biggest things that the researchers found was helpful was providing space for the TCKs to connect to other TCKs!

TCKs connecting to other TCKs is so important. This was the purpose for our trip to Mexico in October. MTW also provides their own re-entry conference that Drew and I will be able to participate in in the future.

The life of a TCK can have a lot of joy, but also a lot of pain. Drew and I are excited to do our best to enter the world of TCKs and help them as they fight through the struggle, and wrestle with how the Lord will use them to further his kingdom.

We would love for you to join us in this fight. Please pray about supporting us with a monthly donation. You can find information through our website www.gyfm.org or www.mtw.org. Our support account number is 18294.

Thanks for hanging in there through the research portions of this post. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to raise support to work in this ministry that is so important to the next generation!


Source:
Davis, P., Headley, K., Bazemore, T., Cervo, J., Sickinger, P., Windham, M., & Rehfuss, M. (2010). Evaluating Impact of Transition Seminars on Missionary Kids' Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Well-Being. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 38 (3), 186-194.

-Lindsey

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Update!


The last few weeks have been crazy ones for us Wilkins. We've felt like we've been running around wild without taking near the time we'd like to do important things like, say, updating our blog! Even the last two months or so have carried so much that we would still like to reflect on here. We've been able to attend the MTW's Latin America Area Retreat to serve ~65 students scattered over dozens of countries, we attended a Halloween party as "A Dark and Stormy Night" (look to the right), went to the Global Missions Conference in Chattanooga, TN, we've discussed future potentials for living overseas, we've been plowing ahead through our numerous classes and assignments at the seminary, we've continued our jobs, and we've even seen clips of seagulls tap-dancing earthworms to the surface of the soil! Like I said, it's been a busy last couple of weeks.
Throughout each of these things God has given us a lot to think on and reflect over, and we are excited to be able to continue to bring those thoughts and ideas here to the blog as well! Thanks for bearing with us as we have been delayed in discussing them here.
However, as I've been running since 4am, many of those thoughts will have to come in the near, though slightly delayed, future. There will be much more to come!

- Drew

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Radical-"What part of the Gospel is optional?"

This blog post is going to consist of some raw thoughts. Thoughts that I have been wrestling with for the last couple of years while being in Seminary. Thoughts that often scare me because they mean sacrifice, but nonetheless important things to wrestle with.

I started thinking about these things again because I just started reading the book Radical-Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. I am reading it along with the staff at the counseling center that I am interning at this year. We are using it to better understand the clients that we see and helping us to continue knowing how to push back the affects of the fall as we walk through the process of therapy with them. I am excited, but felt nervous after reading this line in the book.

"You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying the success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him" (pg. 3).

The thought that I have wrestled with for a long time is that being a Christian and following Christ is not "safe." Following Christ calls us to something radical. The standards of the american dream call us to work our way to the top, but Scripture calls us to to intentionally step to the bottom, becoming less so others can become greater. The message we often hear is that we need to overcome our enemies, Scripture calls us to love them. Living for Christ means sacrifice, struggle, pain, service, and so many other things. I often wonder if my commitment to Christ involves these things. I am expecting this book to continue to form my thoughts and challenge my own faith.

The author of this book invites the reader on a journey of more questions then answers. I think my wrestling will continue to be a journey as well. I hope to continue to reflect on this book as I work my way through it.

Luke 9:23
"And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

Lindsey

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Few of my Favs...right now anyway

If you like to exert all your energy at the gym, but don't want to fill up with Gatorade that has sugar and artificial color and ingredients then try this awesome water! So glad that someone finally came up with this idea!


A great snack! Some people might mistake it for rawhide, but don't be fooled. It is simply banana. No additives! :) (This is also my favorite Trader Joe's worker)


The fall has finally arrived and so has some of Trader Joe's holiday items. Stock up on this awesome tea. Enjoy it with a dash of milk and some honey or sugar and cozy up next to a fire place with a blanket!

Enjoy!
I was not paid for this brief advertisement just wanted all of my friends to enjoy them too!

What are some of your favorite items from Trader Joe's or any other grocery store?

Lindsey

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Music Recommendation


If you have never listened to Sandra McCracken well then you are missing out! This is her new album and it is incredible! Such encouraging lyrics set to beautiful music. My favorite song on the album is "Justice Will Roll Down." You can listen to the whole album on grooveshark.com or download some at noisetrade.com

Here is a link to listen to" Justice Will Roll Down." I think that you will find it encouraging!




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Latin America Area Retreat

A week ago today we got home from our trip to Mexico where we had the opportunity to serve all of the missionary kids whose parents are serving in Latin America. It was a really great trip and gave us a small glimpse of what our job will be like once we graduate and have all of our support raised. Some of Drew's roles included teaching three times from the book of 1 Peter, working on videos, leading a small group, emceeing many of the games and other events, and hanging out with students whenever possible. I also led a small group of Jr. high girls, helped to lead most of the games, helped with worship, and enjoyed riding the waves with my small group girls. We had such a great time serving all the students as well as serving with 24 other amazing youth workers from around the U.S.. We are so thankful for this opportunity, and for the beautiful place that we were able to be at for the retreat. It was so neat to see the missionaries enjoy this retreat and use the time to connect with their families, other missionaries, and be refreshed by God's Word. We are thankful for many supporters that helped to make this trip possible for us. Enjoy some of the pics!


All the wonderful leaders!

One of the fountains in the lobby of the hotel


small group

The whole gang


The beautiful water

During one of our large group meetings


There were peacocks and other animals roaming around the resort.

Luchadors (Drew and Brooks)

One tradition during these retreats is to make video skits. The luchador theme was a huge part of the videos. Check them out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnurCT1aeJk

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some thoughts on love...

I remember laying on my floor when I was young listening to the "New Kids on the Block," and being swept away with thoughts of the cutest one on the block. I think it was Joey, but then again I was so fickle it could have changed weekly. Like any young girl I dreamed about the day that my prince would come and sweep me off of my feet. If you ask any of my friends from high school and even college I longed for that day, and used to throw dating books across the room out of frustration. It was like the man of my dreams just could not show up soon enough. But God's timing was perfect, and unexpectedly brought Drew into my life.




I started thinking about these things while I was driving today and listening to Taylor Swifts song "Love Story." Since I work in youth ministry I am constantly intrigued by the music that young girls are listening to and the message that it sends them about, love, men, relationships, sex, and their bodies. This song is really catchy and the climax comes at the end when Romeo gets on his knee to ask Juliet for her hand. They can finally run away together and escape the problems of the world. Even as a happily married woman of 5 years I got chills at the end of the song because there is a God given desire to be known, loved, and sought after in all human beings. This is why so many love songs are written. God has designed us and made us to be in relationship.

The thing I struggle with is the message that the love songs send. Just like me sitting in my room on my "New Kids on the Block" sleeping bag listening to love songs and dreaming of my prince there is definitely something to be affirmed in everyone (and in this case young girls) desires to fall in love. I think there is also a call in all of our interactions with media to look to what Scripture says about what love, marriage, and relationships should look like. There is a message to affirm in Taylor Swift's lyrics. But the false message that it sends is that meeting prince charming takes way all of your problems.

I think part of my job as a leader of young girls is to engage in conversations regarding love and marriage. Helping them to know how to affirm the desires that God has given them, but also pointing them to Jesus who fulfills those desires completely. But by God's grace and design he has made us to be in relationship with others and it is privilege to love and to be loved. I believe that in youth ministry one of the greatest ministries that my husband and I can have is modeling to young people what it means for a husband and wife to love and serve each other according to God's design. Certainly we are not perfect in this endeavor, but we see it as so important and encourage others to do the same.

I will be the first one to admit how much I love to watch romantic comedies and listen to love songs, but think it is important to engage young people and our own hearts in the messages that this media sends.


One of my favs!


I am thankful for my husband who continues to sweep me off my of feet everyday! Going back to the title of Taylor's song I finally got my love story and it was more then I had EVER dreamed! Love is not like the movies, but it also doesn't have to stop after you hit the 5, 10, 15, 20 year mark either. Loving and pursuing each other in marriage is one of the most beautiful things that God has ever designed!



P.S. Pictures and reflections from our trip to Mexico coming soon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reflections on the Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer

It was easy for me to connect deeply with the content of Schaeffer’s letters. There were a number of elements that stood out to me in it, the first of which was the response he took towards the struggle in his involvement with the spiritual coldness of the separatist movement. He says, “I really feel lighter than I have for years. I do not know what this all means in my relationship with the movement, but I have come to this conclusion – that, God willing, I do not want to lose this joy that I have before the Lord” (p. 33). This “True Spirituality” that he later poured into his book of the same title seemed to characterize him from then on. This joy Schaeffer describes in his walk with God is one that is only borne through learning to live well in the face of adversity. We often want to simply fight against the hardships in life and decry the pain they bring - however we must not give in to such temptations. The fruit of joining in the sufferings of Christ, even while in ministry, always yields such glorious joy that it cannot be discounted. This is a point I feel I can always learn more from.


Secondly, the way the Schaeffer depended on God for their finances was incredible! To not actively seek to raise support for what they did, but to wait patiently on God instead was something that sticks firmly in my mind. As Linds and I are currently engaged in the support raising process for our work with Mission to the World the query quoted from Amy Carmichael was particularly inspiring: “Why not ask God to make those who love Him want to help the little children whom He loves, instead of asking help from those who perhaps don’t love him” (p.79). It is hard to imagine living this way practically. Having to wait, trusting in God’s provision when I have not specifically asked for it from any particular individual or organization is something that I struggle to imagine. Even though we have only begun our support raising efforts, the burden of this seems so heavy. Waiting on God’s providence even in the anxious moments is something Linds and I are beginning to learn much more of.


Finally, it was amazing to see the theme of dependence on prayer woven so thoroughly throughout the decades of his letter writing. This was not so much a point of intentional discussion in his letters, but was instead a peripheral atmosphere that all of his words seemed to swim within. Often the letters opened by recording that Schaeffer had already been praying for the recipients and finish with a request that his readers be praying for him as well. The heavy consciousness of their dependency on Christ’s work in response to their prayers seemed to be the driving force behind all of their interactions. It was a blessing and encouragement to see this played out over the Schaeffers' many years of personal correspondences.


In these areas in particular and many others as well, The Letters of Francis Schaeffer did much to provide an inspiring example of what it means to be a person of meekness, boldly committed to the God’s Word, passionate for God’s Truth, and, regardless of who they are, sincerely delighting in the people God has made. The example of Francis Schaeffer's passions is well displayed in his statement that his "joy is in seeing many who have such little hope come to the place of not only of being saved for eternity, but of being more human in the present life” (p. 103, italics mine).


-Drew

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Devotion (I know it's long, but I hope it's encouraging)


The other day I was in charge of giving the devotion for the student council meeting at Seminary. This is my second year serving on the council in an elected position. My official position is the women's rep. and I really enjoy the meetings and the collaborative work that goes on between the council and the staff. Ok, that is not the point of this post, but now you know a little more about me! What I really want to share with you is the devotion that I gave. I have found myself thinking a lot about 2 Corinthians 5:16-21,

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I spoke a little about what it means to be a "new creation" according to the passage. Once a person excepts Christ as their Savior their lives change in the eternal sense. They are no longer called by the name Sinner, but are rather given a new name, Redeemed! The old order of life has passed because, through their union with Christ, they now have the ability to not sin and to live to glorify Christ in all that they do. But if I am honest with myself I don't feel like a new creation very often. I still feel plagued by the brokenness of this world. I still sin against those I love all of the time. I feel pain and experience sickness. BUT, the passage says that we are new creations and it is telling the truth. However, though our newness has been initiated, we still wait to be made completely new. We live in a tension right now between the 'Already' (redemption has come because of Christ's death on the cross) and the 'Not Yet' (though we can see affects of his redemption we won't see the completion of it until he returns). So we wait and we live in this tension. But even in this we live with hope!

The second part of the passage reminds us of our calling as Christians. To bring this message of reconciliation to the world. As I was reflecting on this passage I began to question that, while often we work really hard to bring the message of reconciliation to others, do we ever bring it to ourselves? My pastor recently gave an illustration about a women who faced domestic abuse. She was finally moved to a safe place, but one day the knock on the door came. The abuser had returned, and she was tempted to yet again to open the door and let him in. This was used to illustrate how we often respond when sin knocks on our heart. As I was listening I realized that this not only means the sins that we do, but the sins that have been done to us; the sins that have hurt us and caused us to feel shame, the sins that have caused us to tell ourselves over and over again that we are not worthy of love, that we are stupid, that we are ugly, or that we are responsible. We need the message of reconciliation when we are tempted to believe those lies. We need to shut the door to the continuing patterns that we find ourselves in. The message of reconciliation is one that we need to remind ourselves of everyday as well as we interact with a world that is need of the reconciling Savior.

Lindsey

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Grandpa




I found this picture the other day of my grandpa and me! I just love it so much and it reminded me of all the great times that we had when I was little. He would always stay up late and watch Nick at Nite, and I loved to watch it with him. He had about a bijillion green acres episodes recorded on VHS, haha! During his late night TV watching he would of course always make a snack and sometimes it included BBQ potato chips dipped in BBQ sauce. I always thought that was hilarious! He was famous for putting his coffee in the microwave and then forgetting about it. It was not surprising to open up the microwave hours later to see his cold coffee still in there. He used to play school with me and we would always argue about who would be the teacher (he never wanted to be the teacher :)) I really loved him a lot and I am thankful for this picture to remind me of all the sweet memories.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Change in the Journey


Our pastor gave an illustration this past Sunday that resonated so much with my heart. He began by asking if any of us have ever driven through Kansas in route to Colorado with the longing to see the majesty of huge mountains in the distance. I was reminded of the tiring and long hours in the car, only being kept awake by the rumble strips, as we continued our trek from St. Louis back to Colorado when we were first married. Our pastor had the congregation laughing as he described the painful hopelessness that you begin to feel while in Kansas surrounded by corn and cows. You begin to believe that you will NEVER see the mountains.

BUT then the journey changes. All of a sudden you get a glimpse of the majesty. You see the jutting of rocks into the blue sky and the journey once again becomes hopeful. His words during the sermon were

"Mountains in the distance change the journey!"

How amazing and true! How often we lose hope in the midst of our own sinfulness, the sinfulness in the world, and the sin that is committed against us. But the grace of God gives us hope and as the passage in the sermon reminded us we have the ability (through the grace of God) to say no to sin and yes to life!

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Worship this past Sunday was a glimpse of the mountains. It was so refreshing for me to hear the Word of God preached and to worship with other believers. We also enjoyed dinner and great conversation with friends this week. I would say that the Lord blessed me this past week with a view of the mountains to remind me of his amazing grace!

-Linds

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reflections on Henri J.M. Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus


It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into this book. That’s not to say it was a pleasant read, rather it was an interesting combination of unpleasantly, yet compellingly, true. My heart resonated pretty closely with Nouwen’s portrayal of his life orientation. He had accomplished many things, worked extremely hard, and even found himself working in Boston on the beautiful campus of Harvard as a priest in their divinity school! In this he does not present some image of himself being prideful or arrogant in his position, he simply hadn’t been too stretched in his experiences. That said, his work at L’Arch, a home for mentally handicapped adults, opened him up to so much more, and his words in this book have opened me as well.

I struggled to understand what he meant about not seeking relevance. I work in youth ministry, and with students, if you are not relevant then you are nothing - at least so I thought. Then Nouwen broke my heart. He says that his experience at L’Arch forced him to “let go of my relevant self - the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things - and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments” (p. 28). Wow, I still find myself reeling and even wincing a little as I type that. There is a part of me that doesn't like it. There is beloved sin at risk in admitting it, but I don’t think this way. I can think of a thousand “but"s to insert, and even more correctives about what it actually takes to cross over into youth culture, but those are all simply stylistic points and miss the foundational idea entirely. As Nouwen says in the conclusion of his first chapter, “The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there” (p. 35). Wow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Advice

I recently was given some advice from my supervisor on how to take care for myself this year. The advice that was given to me was that in the midst of seeing a lot of pain and brokenness I need to take time to see beauty. I need to expose my eyes, ears, nose, and heart to beauty to be refreshed! This is one my passions and in many ways the reason for this blog. As I have said many times on this blog, but feel like I can never say enough, there is beauty in the midst of brokenness everywhere because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. In referring to human beings Francis Schaeffer used the term "glorious ruins." All of creation lives in the tension of being beautiful and broken. The broken part is going to be clearly in front of me as I work as a counselor. Therefore beauty is what I long to see and even hope to cultivate as I work to spread Christ's redemption to all of life.

Drew surprised me with these sunflowers the other day. Aren't they beautiful? I love the circular design in the middle of them and the bright burst of color that they add to the table. We usually study at our dining room table so this is the perfect spot for a little bit of beauty. Here is a picture of an early morning reading time. The sunflowers had not entered the picture yet, but you get the gist.
(good coffee is definitely a beautiful thing)

I am excited to keep exploring ways to be intentional at seeking out beauty. I think this weekend we are going to an art fair in the streets of Clayton! I hope you enjoy your weekend and take time to see beauty!

-Linds



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Psalm 139

This last Sunday Tony, the Sr. High Youth Pastor at our church, preached the sermon. His passage was Hebrews 4:12-13,

(12) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (13) And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In a class I am taking this year entitled Pastoral Theology, the culminating assignment is to identify what you believe to be the sin in your life which has the most potential to undo your ministry, and write a 10 page paper discussing what Scripture says about it, how you experience it, and how you are going to resist it. We are also to seek out trusted friends to help give us insight into this, so that we aren't limited to only our own perspective. Hebrews 4:13 suddenly felt all the more real as Tony preached from it.

Tony used as scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan as an illustration. In the scene there is a Nazi soldier and an American soldier fighting in a room at the top of a stairwell with only bayonets as their weapons - the American is losing. At the bottom of the flight of stairs there is another American soldier who still has a gun. He can hear the fight above him, but he stands with his weapon in his arms, too afraid for his own safety to risk entering into the fray and use his gun.

Tony pointed out that Hebrews tells us that Scripture is our weapon, sin is our enemy, and we are often too scared of being cut open and exposed to enter in and use it well. However, he stated, the parallel ends there - the difference being that, while most weapons bring death through their wounds, Scripture, like a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon, cuts through and brings life. With each slice, though you are left exposed to the very core before our Creator and Judge, Scripture serves to cut out the sin, and put you back together again.

To be honest, this is a pretty intimidating project. I have had graduates warn me about it since I first began here. However, as the author of Hebrews (and Tony) reminds us, we use God's Word to cut to the heart of our sin, expose it to our Redeemer, and then be brought back to further health once again. Pray that I would not shy away from using Scripture to evaluate my life and heart. Pray that I would not only be further exposed to the sin in my life, but to the grace of my Saviour as well. Please pray for me as I engage this and many other difficult assignments this semester.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me, and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24)

- Drew

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chicago-The Windy City!

An evening view of Michigan Avenue.
The city from Navy Pier
THE BEAN!!!!
The elevator in our lovely hotel!
City
More city
I hope you have enjoyed a little taste of Chicago this week. It really is an amazing city, and Drew and I hope to visit again.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!

-Linds

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flowers and Skyscrapers

We had a great time on our trip to Chicago to celebrate our five year anniversary. We had a blast exploring the city and we walked so much on Saturday that I had blisters on the bottom of my feet.

We wanted to share with you throughout this week some of our favorite pictures. Drew finds so much delight in walking around with the camera and capturing the small and big things around us. I like this shot in particular because of the angle of the flowers with the huge skyscrapers in the background. There is definitely beauty in both settings.

Linds

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sailing Anyone?


Sailboats on Lake Michigan from our trip to Chicago. Looks inviting doesn't it?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah

I just wanted to share this song with you. It has been ministering to my heart these past couple of days, and brings tears to my eyes because of the promises of God that are so beautifully put to song.

Here are the lyrics (From the RUF hymnal):

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore.

2. Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

3. When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee;
Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.

Ending
Land me safe on Canaan's side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fear
Land me safe on Canaan's side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fears, goodbye

I could not figure out how to link the song to our blog, but you can download it off itunes for $.99.
In the lyrics I hear a plea, a prayer, and anticipation. As the people of God we are constantly crying
out for guidance from the Lord. We are weak and he is mighty and he is the one that leads us through this journey.
The anticipation part is my favorite, because of what I have been facing lately. The promise that we will land safe
on Canaan's side and there will be no more death or destruction. We will be able to say goodbye
to all of our anxious fears because through Christ ALL THINGS will be made new! I hope this song
gives you encouragement today as you face the brokenness and pain of this world, but face it with hope
because God's promises are TRUE!

-Linds

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Entering Into Worship

When you walk through the doors of a church, what are you proceeding in to do? As I reflect on my thoughts as I have grown and matured in my walk with God and engagement in his Church, I recall often thinking that true worship was the sense of personal fulfillment and reassurance in my relationship with God that one feels in singing glorious hymns and being moved and stirred by the sermon. I think it is for the most part the paradigm that I operated out of for the majority of my life. Another way to put it would be that I believed the purpose of going to worship was to receive something from the alter - to be "refilled to be able to face the rest of the week."

There have been innumerable occasions where all I wanted to do was make it through till Sunday, so that I could see my friends, could sing the songs that enliven my heart, and hear the Word preached that invigorates my spirit. This is not a bad thing by a long shot. However, over the last few months, I have begun to see that while it is a good thing, it is neither the whole thing nor the best thing. The issue lies in that this perspective on worship leaves the worshiper to come in merely a passive manor. This is good in that in everything, we acknowledge God to be the one who moves us and directs us, who fills us and completes us, and even who grows us and matures us. But, acting as a passive receptacle, while important in the act of worship, is only the secondary reason I walk through the doors on a Sunday morning.

The primary reason for man to worship is to BRING something to the alter. The only thing that separates us from the rest of creation is our ability to turn our experiences around into praise. As Westminster (via Piper's interpretation) likes to put it, our chief end is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. That said, we go to church in order to bring our praise to him! We sing our songs so that we might express the passions of our heart, directing the heart liberating words to the Lord who made us and set us in his story! We sit and listen to his Word preached so that first of all we might present to him our hearts humbled and bowed in deference to his will. It is then, and only then, that we are able to act as receptacles. Entering into true worship is the act of bringing to God our hearts and lives humbled to his will, praising his glorious character, and then standing ready to further engage his creation!

Drew

Thus It Begins.


Today stands as the last day of summer for all of us Covenant students. It's very interesting to be sitting on the cusp of our final year here. It's intimidating because we are cramming so much into the next nine months that it almost feels insurmountable; it is exciting because of all the opportunities that it holds; it is sad because of all that we will leave behind as we finish; it is joyful because it marks the beginning of the end of a personal challenge and because it marks the dawn of a new stage of our life.

We are both extremely excited about the classes that we will be taking, the privilege of stepping gently into our client's lives, and even the structured schedule that we can live around (the above calendar represents only the weekly recurring events). But it's also going to be a whole lot of very hard work. To be completely honest, we are pretty nervous about the upcoming challenge. Not nervous like an ant looking up at a teenager through a microscope, but nervous like a freshly vacationed runner returning home to his waiting training grounds: it's going to hurt. Please pray for us as we step back into the life of school again. Pray for endurance to stay on task even when it's painful. Pray that our attention spans would be flexible enough to make it through all our books. Pray that our memories would be sharp. Pray that our minds would be creative to engage our papers well. Pray that our physical health would not let us down. Pray that our fingers would be nimble as we page through all the research. And most of all, pray that our hearts would not be so distracted by the labor to forget the tasks we are training for.

We love you guys, and we need your prayers and support so much as we enter once again into the melee of scholastic battle! Over the next few months we'll be updating this blog with not only our thoughts and reflections on the adventures we experience, but on our current needs and prayer requests as well. It has been impressed upon us that as missionaries we have to establish a broad base of support. We are continuing to learn that this not only means keeping you all updated on our thoughts and experiences, but on our needs and weaknesses as well. The fact is, we need you. Will you please help to build us a foundation of prayer?

In His Grasp,

- Drew