Monday, May 31, 2010

The places we have been

Delhi, India

The Himalayas in Mussorie, India

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Colorado at Copper Mountain

Sevilla, Spain

Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Drew and I love to travel and with our job working with missionary kids we will be traveling a lot. We thought we would share with you some of the places we have been in the last couple of years. We are looking forward to traveling some this summer for support raising and then to Mexico in October.

Do you like to travel? What are some of the coolest places that you have been?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Babel or Pentecost?

There is something so wonderfully mysterious about how God works in and through our lives. Living in God's story is messy and is often filled with unexpected surprises. Being a planner, this is often hard and I am constantly reminded of who is in control. The beautiful part about being called to be an active player in God's story of redemption is that we are not alone in our efforts in pursuing this mission. The story of Pentecost is beautiful as the Holy Spirit is revealed and the church begins to spread! A recent article at Faith and Leadership is titled Messy Church by Jo Bailey Wells, and is really interesting. She examines mission through the lens of Babel and Pentecost. In the beginning of the article she highlights how the events of Babel differ from the events at Pentecost.

It was the early church fathers who first saw divine reversal in the events of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2) compared with the primeval portrayal of Babel (Genesis 11). At Babel the one language was confused; in Jerusalem the many languages become comprehensible. At Babel the people were scattered; in Jerusalem “every nation” comes together. At Babel earth tried building its way to heaven; in Jerusalem heaven reaches down to earth. At Babel the human ego was condemned; in Jerusalem the human spirit is renewed. At Babel we saw divine frustration; in Jerusalem we witness divine delight. At Babel we look into a mirror; at Pentecost we gaze through a window -- a window that reveals a glimpse of heaven on earth.

Jesus says to his disciples in Acts 1:7-8, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth." The power of the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples and now enables us to live out and share the power of the resurrection! As this article states, this mission that we are called to is messy and often uncomfortable.

The author asks, "are we formed by Pentecost, shaped by its implications for the ways (nature or nurture) the church is raised and organized?" Is the church pursuing mission like Babel did or like Pentecost. Am I pursuing mission like Babel or like Pentecost? I think these are great questions to ponder. She says later in the article...

The contrast between Babel and Pentecost is not a playoff between maintenance and mission. No, at both Babel and Pentecost we are witness to the lively pursuit of mission. Rather, the difference has to do with how and why mission is embraced. At Babel the mission is human, the goal is measured in bricks, and success means efficiency in a strategy of design and delivery. At Pentecost the mission is not ours, the goal (the throng worshipping at God’s throne) is immeasurable, and success continually demands shunning efficiency for the sake of seeking the least and the lost. Pentecost undermines all blueprints, all formulae, all reduction to principles. Note that Peter did not preach in sound bites -- even to a nonliterate crowd.

The answers include living with uncertainty, holding in tension ambiguities, being patient in confusion, questioning our tendency to streamline for efficiency. They suggest breaking out instead of reining in, reaching for ever more uncomfortable, costly diversity and, more generally, tolerating broad margins of messiness. At bottom, perhaps it is about who is in control. Which is something both Babel and Pentecost make absolutely clear.

I recommend the rest of the article and I challenge myself and others to pursue living out this mission that all believers have been called to with full reliance upon the Lord, allowing ourselves to be ok with the mystery, messiness, and uncomfortableness, and constantly reminding ourselves of who is in control!,0
Painting by: Alexander Sadoyan



Last night we had our Lifeline small group over to our apartment. It was a bit of a challenge to fit all eight of us into our tiny place, but with minimal squeezing we were able to make it work. It was a great evening. We made stuffed hamburgers (stuffed with bacon and cheese), grilled sweet potatoes, and a toasted almond, cranberry, gorgonzola salad. One guest brought along our good friend Schlafly, and the evening was made complete.
I love our Lifeline. There are four couples, each of whom are involved in youth ministry leadership in some capacity. Since we each are able to spend a lot of our time studying and teaching God's Word, we decided to let the emphasis of the group be our friendships. This has been a wonderful plan. The first couple months of our time together we spent just telling our stories and playing games together, simply building a good relational foundation. We've been intentional about sharing a meal together in each others homes so that we can get a glimpse of what everyday life looks and feels like for each other, and it's really payed off...its amazing what you can learn about a person from their decorating styles. In the most recent months however, we've been doing much to move into deeper conversations about the real substance of our lives. Its been neat to see the ways our friendships have grown to naturally have personal conversations grow out of our hang out times. Last night, I was able to talk a lot about the various fears and doubts that I experience as we struggle to find ways to pay for school and look forward to raising our support. I think it's hard for me because my background has not been one of being financially dependent of God's provision. These last three years of seminary and the next couple decades of our work have been and will be another story. It's hard to trust God's provision when I haven't experienced a personal history of his faithfulness in this regard. I say this not to express doubt in God's ability, but to show a weakness in my own faith. That said, the other couples in our group were hugely encouraging in sharing their own stories of God's faithfulness. It is a blessing to be able to rest on the experiences of friends around me when my own experience is still new and weak in certain areas. Being in this Lifeline group has done much to show me the importance of intentionally building strong friendships around my life. I very much look forward to how God will grow and develop these friendships, even though some of us may eventually move to different locations in life. These friendships have been the tangible hand of God in my life, and I have been hugely blessed to have these brothers and sisters stand with me as we serve alongside each other.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trips to Africa, Answered Prayers, and Cute Birds

Summer has arrived for us, but this certainly does not mean the end of busyness for the Wilkins household. We have a lot on our plate this summer, and for me this includes babysitting. I had the opportunity to babysit today for a four year old boy. We had many adventures from flying to Africa and Hawaii to splashing our feet in the swimming pool. It was such a great day hanging out with little people! Kids are so amazing to me. After babysitting today and working at the elementary school I started reflecting again about how easy it is to put myself above children as an adult and therefore I become unwilling to relate to them on their level. There are many appropriate times that adults need to put themselves above kids, as a parent, guardian, teacher, or just an older adult, but sometimes it is neat to think about how I am just hanging out with regular people who just happen to be little.

Before we took off in our plane (his bed, all the other passengers were his teddy bears) today we made sure to strap in the bears and check all the luggage. Sadly one of the passengers decided to smoke on the plane so I was instructed by the pilot (my four year old friend) that I had to send the bear to jail. We decided it would be kind to forgive Mr. Bear since he did ask for forgiveness. After this small incident was taken care of we were off for our African journey. I am so thankful for how I see God's image in these little kids. Their imaginations are amazing. I am just reminded of the importance of treating each child with dignity and respect. Though they are little, they are each made in the image of God.

As some of you might know, Drew and I are working to raise support to work with Mission to the World. We are excited and scared about this new adventure that we are embarking on. Our first itinerating trip is planned for July and we will be traveling to Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. My friend Jenna is on the missions committee at her church in Richmond and has made a connection for us. Drew and I have really been praying that this trip in July would be fruitful and the Lord answered our prayers today. Jenna told me that her missions committee is revamping their whole approach to missions and we seem to fit right into this new vision. As Jenna told the committee about us everyone was really excited about what we have been called to do, and are looking forward to meeting with us. Praise the Lord! Please join us in prayer as we meet with this missions committee on July 6th.

On last note, I am not able to purchase many "extra" things due to the season of life that we are in, but today I found something so cute for only $3.00, so I thought I would share!

(Thank you Amy Roebke for my cute table runner!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fresh Cut Grass

I love the smell of freshly cut grass. It makes me feel like it's really summer, and even the simple act of mowing a lawn brings together that "i've worked hard today" sensation that makes you know it's been a good afternoon. Though I don't have a lawn myself, I am fortunate enough to have some good friends who were willing to let me come over and indulge my mowing passions on their property. They kept thanking me as if I were doing them a favor, but the fact of the matter is that there really is no such things as true altruism, and I was largely directed by my own selfish grass-impassioned motives. I chose to go with a diagonal pattern in the field in the back yard, and all in all I think the effect turned out rather nicely. The rigid angles and lines contrasted well with the circular shape of their enormous trampoline and the organic shape of their ancient sycamore tree. Yikes, I think I've just reached new heights in obscure nerdiness. Bummer.

Last summer I worked on the grounds crew at Covenant Theological Seminary and LOVED it. It was so satisfying to be working outside with my hands and to be able to have immediate tangible results of my work. We worked so hard that year that a couple who were visiting as prospective students remarked to their recruiter they would be attending in the fall because they could see our love for our Creator exhibited in our care for the school property! Earlier that spring a friend of ours commented to us about how she gets excited to garden because, while she is able to honor God primarily with her heart and her mind throughout the school year, she is able to honor him with her physical care of his creation over the summer. That thought has stuck with me, and it was particularly relaxing and invigorating this morning to be able to worship God by mowing my neighbor's lawn.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Tapping to the music

I love music! As a kid I was always humming and recently I tried to listen to music on an airplane and I had to restrain myself from singing out loud. Music is always playing at our house and Drew and I enjoy finding new artists.
These thoughts about the beauty of music came after attending a coffee house concert series where friends who are singer/songwriters performed. It was fabulous! I love to close my eyes and listen to the beauty of each instrument flow together like water. The beat of the music makes my hands and feet tap and I enjoy watching the feet and the legs of the musicians as the music flows not just from their mouths, but from every part of their body.

Music has such power to it. I have cried many times over the lyrics of a song because when no one else understands what I am feeling somehow the artist singing just gets it perfectly. The words of songs can have so much meaning and communicate so much truth. Psalm 46 is beautiful poetry communicating the power of God. The words found in the Psalms were meant to be sung. When you add the beauty of instruments to the beauty of poetry it reminds us of our humanity because of how it stirs our souls. The beauty of music for me is just a little taste of the beauty of redemption.