Monday, April 10, 2017

hike

Last weekend we saw snow, but this weekend was beautiful!  We took advantage of the warm temperatures and sunshine and took a hike.  Megan and Jeremiah joined us after church and we drove the short drive to Peaked Mountain trail.  












Wednesday, April 5, 2017

marriage retreat

 Matt texted me one day and asked if I would like to go to a marriage retreat at Word of Life.  I said I'd love to!  When he came home from the office that evening, the reservations were made.

When the weather forecast showed a big storm we weren't sure what we were going to do!  We ended up bringing 5 of the kids to my parents' house on Thursday and then going back home.  Friday morning we left giving ourselves plenty of time to get there if the weather ended up slowing us down.  Most of what we drove through was rain, but by the time we got into the Adirondacks it was coming down as snow.  It snowed all of the rest of Friday and most all of Saturday!  It was actually cozy and fun to be "stuck" at a rustic, beautiful lodge together!

Matt and I have been to the WOL Inn (now known as the Lodge) a few times before, but never for a marriage retreat.  I now would highly recommend that every married couple goes to one!  We have a great marriage anyway, but left feeling like it was about to get way better!  Seeing marriage as a picture of Christ and what He did for us is so counter cultural.  When Matt sacrifices for me- whether I deserve it or not- he is demonstrating what Jesus did for him!  And when I sacrifice for him it is demonstrating the same thing.  There is no record keeping or build up of resentment.  There can't be.  Jesus doesn't keep those records nor does He resent me when I am not treating Him like He deserves to be treated.  Marriage is all about working hard and sacrificing for each other- then there is complete fulfillment and such joy!

One highlight for us was looking at a wall of lighted cabinets showing the time line and story of how Word of Life began.  It was encouraging and challenging for us to see how Jack Wyrtzen had such a heart for God and for people and how he was faithful to not quit, but give it all he had for God.  And the results?  Immeasurable.  We were both challenged to keep going with what God has called US to and not to let obstacles stop us from moving forward.

We also spent an hour or so in the super relaxing and beautiful lobby of the Lodge sitting in front of the fire place reading through a book about Jack Wyrtzen's life.

It was a very special time away and one that we will always remember~










Monday, March 27, 2017

risking it

In the last 2 weeks, something has disturbed me.  I don't know why I was sensitive to this or why it bothered me so much.  Maybe because coming from the mouths of three different pastors (not my dad and not my own pastor!) it made me doubt.  Made me doubt some of my personal convictions and question if I was crazy.

Matt and I long ago made a decision that we would not watch movies or shows with swears, taking God's name in vain, immodesty, or immorality.  We do not care what others watch, we aren't accountable for them.  And we have our own reasons.  We do not want ourselves or our children to get desensitized to sin.

God.Hates.Sin.  He wants us to abhor what is evil.  He tells us to avoid all forms of it.  He tells us to set nothing wicked before our eyes.  But here's the problem- we justify "wicked".  We justify "evil" and we don't train ourselves to "abhor".  And we don't abstain from it.  The word abstain in the Greek means to be away, absent, distant, to hold one's self off.

I love a good story.  Love it.  And I am far from perfect not even keeping my own standards at times.  I've been guilty of watching a movie, hearing swearing in it, but being too caught up in the plot to turn it off.  I've watched a movie where I skipped over a part with a woman indecently dressed just so I could continue with the movie.  Our family has watched old tv series for weeks before we finally were convicted that the message was not one that was God honoring or was upholding our personal values.  We are not perfect.

It helps to realize we aren't perfect because we have a hard time judging people for their imperfections when our own are in our face.

However, when ungodly movies are spoken of from the pulpit and used in illustrations, I think it gives people justification and a sense of "Phew!  It's okay that I am watching this stuff- the pastor does too!"   And, since my family doesn't know what the pastor is talking about, it may make them/us embarrassed that they/we don't know and have a desire to get with it!

One thing that I personally think is more harmful than good is the Focus on the Family movie reviews.  I tried an experiment.  I looked up a movie that one pastor was using as an illustration in his sermon.  On Focus on the Family, the critic used the words "at least", "compelling" and then there was an entire portion devoted to "positive elements".  He ended with saying that it could have been less "extreme and explicit", but that was after he applauded the cinematography, theme, and the healthy messages in the movie.

I then went to the International Movie Data Base (IMDB) and looked up the Parent's Guide for the same movie.  (IMDB is not a Christian site.  But I always go here, because I've found just facts and not someone trying to justify a movie because of it's underlying message of good triumphing over evil!)  Whoa.  Swears, nudity, violence....  But the message is good??  Why was this pastor using this movie in God's church as an illustration?!

I have been studying Psalm 91.  I've read it everyday this month and have memorized almost all of it.  Today I looked at verse 14 where God is talking.  Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high because he has known My name.  I looked up the words "loved" and "known" to see what God wants me to do that makes Him so anxious to deliver me and set me securely on high.  (which I WANT and NEED Him to do!) After studying the definitions I was convicted sharply that if I were to take part in the watching of those movies (which I was legitimately questioning!) it would not be demonstrating love for God since the sins being glamorized are the ones that cost Him the life of His son.  As far as knowing His name- how can I watch things that He abhors when I know His name is holy?

The more we are exposed to sin the less shocking it is and the harder it is to abhor.  It's a slow descent which is what makes it tricky.

I was talking a couple of days ago with a woman whose son died when he was hit by a train.  She began to cry and said, "Why did he have to be on those tracks?"  I can only imagine what the sight and sound of a train does to her.   In the same way, what was it that cost God the life of His son?  Sin.  And not just mine- the sins of everyone.  So in my watching a movie that is full of sin, I can't justify it by saying that at least I am not the one sinning.  God hates it.  It was why His son died.

So I was questioning.  I asked Matt if we were crazy- being too strict on our stands.  I was almost hoping we were.  Like I said, I love a good story.  But then God reminded me of who He is.  The rest of Psalm 91 almost sounds like a plea, a bribe, a begging.  God says that if I love Him and know His name, He will deliver me, set me securely on high, answer me, be with me in trouble, rescue me, honor me, satisfy me with a long life, and let me see His salvation.  He shouldn't have to bribe us or beg us to love Him and know His name!  But it is so important to Him , He does it anyway.

I want to honor Him with my life.  I don't want to get to heaven and realize I grieved Him, was desensitized to the things that He hates the most, caused other people (my children especially!) to be apathetic in their relationship with Him and lose sight of the plan He had for their life.  One that was essential to His kingdom!

I am not perfect.  I am not responsible for nor do I care about the decisions that others make in this area.  I was, however, shocked to see what an influence pastors had in my thinking and just as troubled about how willing I felt to turn away from my convictions.

Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe I am too strict in this area.  But- I am willing to risk it.  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

missions conference

We were honored to be a part of our church's missions conference this year.  They blessed us incredibly!  The kids had such a great time that Micah actually cried when it was over.  He was sad we have to wait so long til next year!  He got to see Tanner every day!  
We were treated to Golden Corral, Chili's (girls), Chick-fil-A(boys), and the mall's food court for lunches on Wednesday- Friday.  Alissa and I got manis and pedis too!  

Each night we had dinner at church.  We presented to the adults one night and the kids another night.  All of the other times we just got to listen and be encouraged!

On Thursday night we were each given a huge gift bag filled with items personalized to each of us!  It was like Christmas opening those bags.  Our church family was SO generous.


Cameron, Alissa, Jeremiah, and Megan sang one one of the nights.  They were a hit!





On Friday they took us to the mall, gave us money, paired us with a buddy, and let us shop!  Leah and Micah went to Build-A-Bear.  They had never been before!














Matt's birthday

Club Hope for March was on Matt's birthday.  The kids loved the chance to sing Happy Birthday to him and he even got cards from a bunch of them!  



We celebrated as a family the Monday after.  




He is the greatest dad and husband I could ever ask for- maybe even the best in the whole world!  His love for God and also for his family is unmatched.


Here is what Brianna has to say about her dad:
Very seldom does he get the attention he deserves for the hard work he does. We want to give him a shoutout on his BIRTHDAY WEEK! If you ever wondered what a true Jack-of-all-trades is like–it is Matt. His tireless efforts behind the scenes and in the trenches are what the ministry could not function without. I (his daughter, Brianna) have truly never met anyone with a heart as compassionate, generous, or as selfless as he is. I have seen him do everything from dealing with a defiant child at Club Hope,  to cleaning up the spilled sticky juice on a table after an HFK event is over. Dad, without your efforts to win the city of Springfield for Jesus, there would be SO many more children and families without any hope at all. I know I speak for the HFK team when I say we truly couldn’t do this without you–our fearless leader!

spring weather in winter

It was a beautiful day- felt more like April than February!  Validus loved being outside with us.  And Micah and Leah had a blast making their own little playhouse in an empty stall. :)





video

nh

We made a NH trip to pick up Alissa (who had spent a week with Hannah), drop off Caleb and Drew (who were going to spend a week with their boy cousins), listen to Cameron speak in church on Sunday night, and celebrate both Andrew and Nana's birthdays!  It was wild :)

Rubik's cubes all around!

Nanny and NH girl cousins


Bonding....



It is always a treat to go to NH.  We have amazing family!