Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Announcement

I'm breaking my blogging silence to issue an exciting announcement. Tim and I are engaged! Yep, that's right, we're getting married! Very exciting. He proposed in the same place we first prayed together, which is very meaningful for both of us. Delightful!

Bring on the crazy wedding plans... I'm a little nervous that I could become a Bridezilla, but hopefully with even headed people like my mother, father and Tim with me I will navigate the decisions without turning into a crazy woman.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Books of the Bible

One of the greatest tools I gained from my years as a Missionette in elementary school was the songs that help me remember the order of the books of the Bible. As a children's pastor I want to make sure Highland kids know their Bibles too. Tim tipped me off to this excellent song/video put out by The Bigsby Show.

Pretty sure this is the winner. Kids Rock kids will be able to learn and sing this song for Rock Shop Points. Enjoy relearning your books of the Bible.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer Giving Challenge

At the beginning of the summer God drew my attention to how much He has blessed me financially. As far as things in America go, I am not rich. However, in comparison with the rest of the world I am incredibly wealthy.

So I asked Tim to start a money adventure with me. In June, we decided to would take our weekly allotments out of the bank each week, but use as little money as possible. At the end of each week for a month, we planned to set aside the saved money. The saved money would then be given to missions in some way or another.

During our giving challenge, our eyes were opened to God's great blessings in our lives and the excesses to which we had become accustom. We drove less, tried to use less electricity, played cards instead of going to the movies, ate picnics instead of going out to dinner. Rather than buying new clothes or accesories, I became more creative with the things I own. If we did go out to dinner, we just got water and inexpensive items on the menu. Tim and I traded off brining lunches and dinners to work, but most exciting were the times God would make dinner! Numerous times we'd show up to church and be told so-n-so was making lunch for the staff or my dad would take us out to dinner or left overs from a leadership meal or church function were fantastic reheated. We didn't starve ourselves or walk everywhere, we just learned to live on less, a lesson that has continue to have it's benefits after our money adventure ended.

I anticipated saving $20-$25 each a week, but after our month finished and we counted up our money we realized that in just one month we had saved $360! I was shocked and so grateful for God's wonderful blessings in my life that allowed me to give!

Shortly after we finished our "money fast", Tim and I had the pleasure of hearing Charlie Chivers' vision for the future of Special Touch, a ministry to people with disabilities. I was moved to give to that great ministry. I talked with Tim and when I suggested our saved money for missions could go to Special Touch, he was hesitant. When we began our saving we had mentioned giving the money to some missionary friends and Tim had been thinking of them the entire time and thought our money needed to go to them. Then Tim tentatively said words I will never forget, "We could do it again."

The moment he said it, I'm just going to be honest, I was not excited. But I knew it was the right thing to do and he did too. The next day we sent out the money to our missionary friends with great joy and began our saving adventure part 2 for Special Touch. And again, we saw God's great blessing and provision in our lives. It was remarkable. The second time through, I expected we might be able to save $300. At the end of our month, we totalled our savings and the Lord had enabled us to save $390 to give to Special Touch.

I was amazed and in awe of our great God. During the second month of our money adventure I found this verse in a prayer given by King David.

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand." 2 Chronicles 29:14

I cried and praised God when I read this verse because it was and is exactly what the Lord taught me during my great sumer giving challenge and what is in my heart. I am amazed by how much he has blessed me that I am able to generously give. God can do incredible things when we surrender our lives to Him, including our finances.

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand." What a great adventure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspired by kindness

I just got back into town from a fantastic trip to visit my best friend, Julianne, and her family as we all celebrated Julianne and her now husband, Matt, getting married! Pictures and more on the wedding will come shortly, but first I want to share one of the incredible things I was inspired by this weekend: kindness.

Great love and care was taken this weekend and most of that love was shown through great kindness. It was almost overwhelming to me. The way Julianne and her family always went the extra mile, even during such a busy and crazy time as a wedding weekend, to make everyone feel special, cared for and appreciated was remarkable. What a wonderful testimony of God's generosity and character. I am filled with so much love and gratitude for them.

And I am inpsired. I am reminded to look past my current to-do list to the people and lives around me. To find the extra step I can take to show gratitude, love and compassion through kindness to those around me. I'm also awakened to the great kindnesses I am shown by those around me every day.

In Jeremiah 31:3 God said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." That is amazingly true. God's kindness is so true and undeserved and is so often what He uses to draw us to Himself. It is wonderful to be the recipient of His great kindness, to recognize it in His creation and to give it out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lord, I need more of You

Often when I'm doing my devotions I'll get songs stuck in my head, but this morning I didn't have one song, I had several. They all centered on the same theme: More of God. That's what I say I want all the time, but sometimes my prayers, attitudes and actions may not reflect that spoken desire. Today though, it's different.

There are mornings when I have to drag myself to the living room to do my devotions and labor through my Bible reading for the day. But this morning it was a true joy to read the Word of God. It wasn't because I was reading something that was incredibly relevant to a situation I'm going through. I didn't receive divine inspiration for a project I'm working on for worship or for the kids. It was just a joy to be sitting with God and reading what He wrote for me to read thousands of years ago.

And I was just sitting here at my desk and I thought about my desire for God and almost came to tears. There are times when I think about the character of God and it seems like it's just a nice list in my mind: faithfulness, goodness, justice, love, peace. But today His character is a reality in my heart and I find myself just wanting more of Him in my life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Max 7

I just found out about this great new site for children's ministry resources. It's called Max 7 and it's all about helping children and pre-teens live their lives to the maximum for Jesus 24/7. The ministry resources are all free. Better yet, they are creative, great and free. You can get free lessons and videos a lot of the time, but they aren't usually the greatest. I've already found some wonderful videos I plan on using throughout our year in Kids Rock. Check it out.



This is my favorite video so far.



Jesus Crucifixion


video

Friday, August 28, 2009

Like fugitives.

On Wendesday, August 20th my mother and I fled Waupaca racing toward the shores of Lake Michigan. Once we arrived there we bribed the ferry operator to take us across the Great Lake on the SS Badger. It was a rough sea and the salty air filled our senses as we rushed across the lake in the wee hours of the morning, like fugitives.

What a great start to a vacation. Only embelished a little, the seas weren't very rough and there wasn't really salt in the air. Other than that though it is pretty accurate. My mother and I went to Holland, MI to visit her friends, Donna and Jay. Donna, Mom and I did a great deal of shopping. On one of our shopping excursions we came home with 20 pounds of blueberries! Get ready for cobbler, pies and more.



We also brought home some fantastic MI peaches.



Craig and Dad went to Lake Superior for a camping trip and then met Mom and I just west of the bridge in the UP. The UP is beautiful. We enjoyed Lake Michigan, the beautiful landscape and one of our old time favorite places to stay "Dune Shores" motel. The rooms might not be incredible, but the home run restaurant with pasties, ice cream and delicious breakfast combined with the best beach on Lake Michigan make it one of the greatest places to enjoy a summer trip.



All in all, it was a wonderful time away.

No Way!

It has come back! For real! Last night Tim and I drove into my parking lot and he jumped out of his car and was pointing at my garage door. I thought he was saying I needed to park in my garage since my CD player was stolen last night. But he was pointing with more urgency than that and then I realized what he was pointing at! My CD player was lying on the ground outside my garage!

I was astonished! I have never heard of that happening, ever. Crazy! I made Tim take pictures with his phone and immediately post them on Facebook as I called my mother and shared the story with her and my brother and my father! Here are the stories we've come up with to explain the miraculous return:

Mom-The thief was talking to his friend bragging about how easy it had been to get this CD player and is friend asked where he'd gotten it. The thief said, "Out of a silver neon over by such-n-such." And the friend said, "Dude! You have to put that back. That's my pastor's car!"

Dad-The conviction of God got 'em!

Tim-Two kids stole it and their moms found out and made them march straight away to put it back. (This makes me wonder, if my car had been there, would they have re-installed it?)

Nathan-Somebody who knows me was playing a joke on me. (bad joke)

I have two theories. 1) They hooked it up and heard the fantastic Hillsong United CD in it and God got ahold of them and they repented and brought it back and will be in church on Sunday. 2) They read my blog and knew they hadn't stolen it to feed starving children and decided to give it back.

Whatever the reason for the return, I'm happy it's back. What a great story!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jean Valjean and the stolen CD player

I was planning on writing many inspiring things this morning, but then I got to my car and discovered that a thief stole my CD player under the cover of darkness last night! I was very upset. I know that I could have taken better steps to prevent the thievery, but right now I am just upset. I tried to console myself by remembering that I have some extra money set aside. But that was short lived because then I thought, “I shouldn’t even have to buy this! I had one already!” Very upsetting.

I got to work and Tim told me I couldn’t put a sign on my garage door saying:
“To the individual(s) who stole my CD player:
You have done an awful thing. I hope you stole my CD player so that you could feed your starving children like Jean Valjean in Les Mis, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think you stole it because you are greedy.”
Tim said no! Then I asked him if we could at least pretend the thief took the CD player because he was really trying to feed starving children like in Les Mis. He said, "Sure, but I think that's all it would be: pretending." Rough morning.
Tim thinks that maybe we can find one at a rummage sale… I’m skeptical… I don’t think he’s really serious.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Rock Climbers experience

I taught Rock Climbers for the first time on Sunday. Rock Climbers is our kids' church for preschoolers. I was a little nervous because I've heard a few horror stories and the teacher's seem exhausted afterward. So I went in ready for a zoo, but it was delightful! One of the greatest times I've ever had teaching.

I asked what missionaries do and Olivia told me, "They answer calls." I can see it in her mind. A call center room full of missionaries all answering phones. Great to hear her thoughts. During snack Elijah blessed our food by singing the "Thank You, Jesus" song. Beautiful. The worship, the lesson, activities, snack time, all went extraordinarily well. Of course, there were always a couple kids who had a hard time concentrating at our task on hand, but I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

By far the best part of the morning was our little trouble maker. When he's not pulling hair, throwing things or jumping off of chairs, he wants to be the one sitting right next to you or on your lap. Very loving, but trouble nonetheless. This little boy quickly burnt through his warnings and soon found himself in time out while the rest of the class finished their activity. Miss Anna took the kids back to their other room and I stayed back to talk with him for a moment.

I assured him that I cared about him, but that he can't disobey. At this he started to tear up and desperately say, "I want to be good, but I just can't. I try, but I just can't be good. I don't want to be naughty." His little plea got straight to my heart. I told him that Jesus can help him be good. Jesus won't make him be good, but can help him make the right choices. When I asked if he wanted to pray he nodded, folded his hands and started singing the "Thank You, Jesus" song because it's the only way he knew how to pray. He didn't remember any of the other words and looked up in desperation, "I don't know how." So he repeated a prayer after me asking Jesus for help to be good.

I was so moved by that time. Five minutes later he was jumping off of another chair, but that's fine. We'll keep praying together as often as we need to and God will make a difference in his life.

It was a great first day in Rock Climbers.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bubble Tea


After Amazing Family Race Pastor Dan kicked me out of the office for 3 days. Tim was also scheduled to be on vacation during that time and we decided to go spend some time in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I got to stay with my cousin, Heidi, and her husband, Mike, and Tim with his buddy Bill.

Bill is a cool "in" guy. He knows what is cool and "in" so when Bill was raving about how we had to try bubble tea we said, "Let's go for it!" I thought maybe it was carbonated tea. Wrong. We got to the Tea Garden and were offered samples of chilled Royal Tea Latte with tapioca pearls and coffee flavored jellies. You are given these huge straws through which you drink the tea and suck up the pearls and jellies, i.e. the bubbles! I tried to be cool. I tried to be in. But I couldn't stomache it! I'm not a fan of tapioca to begin with, but then in a drink in huge bubble form?! Nonetheless, you have to try it. It was an experience.

I decided to get a honeydew guava cooler sans bubbles and that was delicious. Find a bubble tea seller near you and enjoy... or at least experience.

Phew!


Amazing Family Race has been raced! Last weekend's race was a hit. It was exhausting, but everyone involved loved it. The volunteers, the participants, everyone! The favorite challenge may very well have been the bare handed minnow catching in challenge 10 on Friday. It was great!

Family's had an excellent time and we're looking forward to doing it again next year. Start training now. There was some fierce competition out there. One of my favorite quotes from AFR was Russ Ehlinger's cry to his family as they raced toward the finish line, "Let's beat the Schroeder's!" What a great success.




Thanks to all who made it possible!

For kicks I threw in a picture of what my office looked like in the weeks leading up to the race. Glad that part is over! For more AFR pictures check out Highland Church on Facebook.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Amazing Family Race

I cannot tell you how excited I am for Amazing Family Race. At the end of July Highland Church is hosting this great event for families in our community. The two race days are Friday, July 31 for OT Rush and August 1 for NT Pursuit. 10 challenged Friday and 10 different challenges on Saturday. It's going to be amazing! Families will create a person out of mud, push their teammates across the Red Sea in a wheelbarrow and build the heavenly city out of toothpicks and marshmallows. All taking place at our beloved Highland Church! Trophies, prizes, food, raffles and the race, all for FREE!!!

Things are really coming together well for the event. I'm looking forward to seeing the event take place. It's going to be really neat to see families competing together!

Registration forms and more information are available at our Highland Kids website. Sign your family up!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heaven and Home

I keep thinking about the verses in 1 Corinthians 15 and Hosea "O, death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting?" What amazing poetry that is more than a poem. It's a promise. A promise I get to live in and, someday, die in. And the verse that precedes it, echoing Isaiah, "Death has been swallowed up in victory." That fills my heart with praise to God.

I read in Revelation 21:4, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away, " and my heart longs to be in that place. It's a heartache for a place I have never seen or touched, but that I know in the depths of my heart.

There's a song on the latest Hillsong United album entitled Soon and it is an echo of this same longing in my heart to be with Christ. "I will be with the One I love, with unveiled face I'll see Him. There my soul will be satisfied. Soon and very soon." The entire song sings out what I feel when I read those verses throughout the Bible about life on earth being temporary and the promise of the place He has prepared for me where I will worship Him forever.

I am a blessed woman, with a beautiful life here and I know I will do the work He has called me to do, working with children and worship and serving Him, but I am looking forward to the day He returns and calls me home to my real home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rick Rack Fabulous

Once when I was in 2nd grade I sewed a dress for my Barbie out of black felt and I put white tulling around the top edge for trim and a bow. The dress was very ... fashion forward. It inspired the same quizzical look that I wear when I watch runway shows and see extremely expensive clothing and think, "Hmmm..." I never thought that I myself, would be a costume designer or seamstress. But today, yes, today all that has changed. Today I pulled together costumes to transform two pastors into two superstars.

I researched, cut cardboard, magic markered, glittered, measured, cut, pinned and sewed to turn Pastor Dan from Highland Church and Pastor Al from Evergreen Church into Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock. I am dead serious.

Pastor Nathan, the movie making genius, has written a script and storyboard for "Star Trek: Movies in the Park" the intro movie for the summer's movies at Pfiffner Park. Filming took place today at 3pm. I finished the costumes this afternoon and I must say I was proud of the finished products. Of course, I only created the Star Trek insignias and sewed gold rick rack onto their sleeves and drew eyebrows, but I am proud nonetheless.

Behold: Rick Rack Fabulous, look at those sleeves! And that science officer insignia! Wow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cardboard Testimonies

A couple weeks ago we finished up a series entitled "The Road to Recovery". It was an excellent series, highlighting the 12 steps to recovery used in the Celebrate Recovery program we just kicked off at Highland. Celebrate Recovery is a 12 step program based on the 8 principles found in the beattitudes. It's designed to help individuals overcome the hurts, habits and hang-ups that come with addiction. Our group meets at 6:30pm on Tuesdays.

It was a great series and with it we introduced the song "God of This City" to our congregation. We used the song in various ways throughout the series, but my favorite way was on May 17th when we used the song as the background for cardboard testimones. Individuals from our church wrote out their testimony in two phrases, where they had been in life and where God's brought them, on a piece of cardboard. Then they displayed their testimonies to the congregation. It was so beautiful.

Ron, Jen and Olivia DeWitt were the ones that got me the most. Oh my goodness. I was doing all right during practice and then when little Olivia walked out I started crying so hard that I couldn't keep singing and could barely see the music to keep playing. Pastor Dan walked up from the front row with his testimony; that was an awesome moment too. It really showed the reality of who we are at Highland Church. We've all been broken and are saved by God's grace.

For sound quality purposes, we had to use the Chris Tomlin recording of the song in the video. I wish you could hear the response from the congregation. Their clapping grew and grew until it was tumultuous applause for the great things God has done for people in our church. Enjoy the video. This is a great idea for any church. Everyone has a testimony to share. What would your cardboard testimony be?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Video games and Jesus

The height of my video gaming career was somewhere around 3rd grade when I was playing Super Mario Bros. 2. Then my brother, who is almost 6 years younger than I am, started mercilessly beating me and I gave up on video games.

But a while back, I thought I’d give a new game a shot. So I sat down with a few others to play Halo. Don’t ask me which version, I don’t know. In Halo you are a character and that character walks around and shoots the other players’ characters. No need to worry, I never injured any other characters. I was too busy inadvertently walking off of cliffs, or getting stuck in corners or confusing my quarter of the screen with someone else’s. However, the biggest problem I had playing was not being able to get the hang of the controller. I spent the majority of the game staring either at my feet or the sky, hopping or shooting as I spun in crazy circles. I am not welcome to play with the teenagers again.

This morning my Halo experience came to mind and I thought about this, how often in real life does God look at me and say, “Oh no, she’s spinning around in circles again staring at her feet.”? Probably every time, I take control of my life out of His hands. When I think I can take control and do it on my own, I start questioning everything becoming dizzy with the possibilities, responsibilities and decisions to be made. When I'm trusting God with my life, I still have responsibilities and decisions, but it’s different when I know the one directing me has a bird’s eye view of eternity. He knows my life’s plan even when I feel like I'm wandering aimlessly. When I’m relying on Him and His direction, I can know that wherever I go, He’s watching out for me. How often the Bible reminds us to rest in God, to give Him our burdens, follow His plan.

So this is just a friendly reminder for all of us: put control of your life in God’s hands so you don’t have to spin around in circles or walk off of cliffs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Council


Tim Michalski loves Stevens Point City Council meetings. There was a time when we couldn't go out on the third Monday of the month because he wanted to be home to watch the city council meeting on channel 3. That was before he found out that they air again on Tuesday. We often go to Belts and then walk with our ice cream to the river and on the way we pass by 1516 Church St, the courthouse where the meetings are held and Tim gets excited every time. I love that he is so into this!

Tim's birthday was just a couple weeks ago and I surprised him with a plan I'd been forming for months. I gave him two tickets to the Stevens Point City Council meeting. Of course there really aren't tickets, I created them. Lovely, aren't they?
I was not a big fan of city council meetings. Tim can tell you anything about city council and all that takes place at the meetings, the key players, the city officials and directors and their major actions and plans. I was going because I wanted to see Tim's big dream come true. But let me tell you, last night was riveting! I am dead serious.
They voted on building a new sign in front of the fire station and it was a close vote; all the residents from Lorraine Blvd. showed up to speak against the ditching and swailing projects going on in that area of town. Afterwards I made Tim drive me around to see the different locations affected by the decisions that were made. I really enjoyed it, maybe not as much as Tim, but it was fascinating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Highland Kids video

The New Highland Kids video is finished! Nathan did an excellent job putting it together. The rest of the website will be finalized and updated very very soon. Exciting! The summer's already off to a great start for kids ministry!

Watch and enjoy!


Welcome to Highland Kids from Highland Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning and a rockin' team

Today has been a grand day of planning and strategy. I love it! This morning Mindy Cooper and I got together to start planning the children's Christmas play. It's going to be amazing. We're going to be doing a news cast theme. Mindy and I have amazing creativity synergy. The two of us get together and you know something incredible is going to happen. The creativity can usually be gauged by the amount and volume of our laughter. Sometimes when we're planning and writing together we laugh so hard that when we finally stop, things in my office are still ringing. No lie, ask anyone else in the office.

This afternoon I got to plan the Kids Rock lesson on joy. We'll be using lemons to show that we can have joy no matter what. When life hands you a lemon of a situation, joy helps you make lemonade. Delightful. I also got to plan the Rock Climbers craft and activity for Sunday to go along with their lesson on creation. Our preschoolers will choose an animal picture out of a hat, act out the animal and when the other kids guess it, they'll all color in the picture together and staple it to the creation board. Beautiful.

I just got back from a planning, scheduling and strategy meeting with Suzanne Crueger, my Rock Formations (nursery) director. We're getting ready for our big Dr. Seuss Sunday at the end of June and for the Amazing Family Race at the end of July. It is great to have such strategic thinkers in my pool of kids leaders.

I'm about to go into a meeting to work out more of the details for our Dr. Seuss Sunday and Tale of Despereaux carnival with more wonderful, creative and detail oriented team members. What a fantastic day! There are a lot of events going on this summer, but these events are in capable hands. I get to work with such a great team. Highland Church is incredibly blessed to have this team of leaders putting their time, energy and thought into Highland Kids.

This is an official shout out to the Highland Kids team. You all rock!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dreaming and Moldova

Amy Winkelman and Cristi Schroeder are getting ready to embark on an incredible journey to Moldova. This journey is something that has come from years of dreaming, praying and following. Amy has had a strong pull toward helping orphans for years and years and at a women's conferent last year, Cristi started recognizing the great desire she had to help victims of sex trafficking. But these women didn't just take their deeply felt compassion and sit on it. In only a little over a month Amy and Cristi will be traveling to Moldova in Eastern Europe to work with missionaries and meet with others who help orphans and victims of sex trafficking.

I wish I could put into words how proud I am of these two women for following their God given dreams and passions, to act on what He has placed in their hearts. I wish I could share an ounce of how inspired I have been by their dreams. After "The Worth of One" missions and informational meeting Cristi and Amy hosted several weeks ago I have been more pressed than ever to find and succeed in the dreams and plans God has for my life. Cristi recently wrote , "Because we are following our dreams to Moldova. God is inspiring others to follow their dreams."

The best way I can think to pass on the inspiration and the dream is to ask you to look into their trip at Cristi's website. Be inspired and follow the dream God has for You. If you don't know what that dream is, start asking Him to show it to you.

Please be praying for these wonderful ladies, for their dreams and Moldova.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stories and the why question

I recently finished 1 & 2 Samuel and I'm now in 1 Kings. I'm pretty familiar with all of the stories, but this time through I feel like the story quality of these books has been illluminated to me. The emotion, the fear, the betrayal, the revenge, the love, the jealousy. At first I thought this perspective would disappear after I finished with David's story, but it just keeps on going! His sons, his grandsons, the overthrowing of the throne! It's excellent, action packed reading.

Just this week one of my favorite Bible figures has come onto the scene: Elijah. His story is gripping! He performs incredible miracles, calling down fire from God, defeating the prophets of Baal, seeing rain fall for the first time in over 3 years, outruns chariots, is fed supernatural food by angels, runs for 40 days straight, sees wind rip apart a mountain, witnesses a supernatural earthquake and raging fire and is able to discern the gentle whisper that is the voice of God! But in the midst of all this he is desperate, scared and incredibly lonely. At one point he tells God that he's through and asks God to take his life.

1 Kings 19:14-18 records that on Mount Horeb Elijah cries out to God saying, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too." It's after this that God's answer comes quickly. God gives Elijah instructions and lets him know not only has He been preparing a ministry partner and successor for Elijah, there are also "7,000 in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

What an incredible response! It wasn't instant. Elijah had been feeling all alone in his quest for God for a long time before God answered and encouraged by sending him to Elisha and letting him know there were others who were devoted toe God. God kept urging Elijah along, even when Elijah finally got to the mountain he had to state his case twice. Why?

Why doesn't God answer our questions and our despairs right away? I don't know. But I do know that God is at work even when we are frustrated with Him and want to give up. Even when we feel like we're all alone, His plan is working. He is leading us to Mount Horeb where He will reveal His answer.

Elijah's story is so inspirational because it's finished. We know the end. We know God didn't let Elijah die in the desert or leave him to be killed by Queen Jezebel. It's much more desperate when we're in the middle of our own stories. But there is hope.
Wherever you are in your journey with God, whether you are seeing God bring down consuming fire and drenching a dry desert land in rain or you are slumped against a broom tree trunk in the middle of the desert telling God that you're finished, you can't keep going. He has a plan. He's leading you to the place where He can speak to your need too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chameleons vs. Transformers


What an awesome Sunday! Whenever a month has five Sundays, the fifth Sunday is our all family service. Kids 3 and up join in the adult service. Pastor Dan or Pastor Nathan and I team teach and we create special kids' notes for the sermon, more object lessons and sermon illustrations. Last Sunday was our third time doing it and Pastor Nathan and I pulled out all the stops! We did a message entitled Chameleons vs. Transformers. Our base Scripture was Romans 12:2a "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
There was a fantastic skit, an exploding experiment, awesome notes for the kids AND great content and message! This Sunday had it all, including the wonderful background Nathan created picture above.

I got more comments on Mindy Cooper's portrayal of Kerry Chameleon, a woman who is terrified of standing out in a crowd, than any other portion of the service. Especially emblazoned on the minds of the church was the moment Kerry started trying to make her hair and camo sweatshirt look like my hair style and suit jacket.
Teaching the absolute truth of God's Word in a creative way. What an excellent way to start the week.

It is good to be a part of Highland Church. Love it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rockumentary

I'm a big fan of the mockumentary. I'm also a BIG fan of David Crowder*Band. So when Jeff, our youth intern, told me about David Crowder*Band Rockumentary I was apprehensive. If you love two things and then they come together it can either be great like peanut butter and chocolate or it can be bizarre and not great like chocolate flavored popcorn, or fried pickles and peanut butter, or worse yet the pear flavored jelly bellies. These episodes are definitely like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.




Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oxen

This morning I finished The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg. She's an amazing author. I discovered her through a post on Mark Batterson's blog regarding her book The Sacred Echo. I got the book and devoured it! Fantastic. Wanting more of her writing I found Organic God and started pouring through it as well.

While there were many ways God used this book to open my eyes and get my attention, the best take away is her reflection on Proverbs 14:4 in her chapter on God being incredibly wise. Provebs 14:4 says, "Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest." (NLT) Some parts of every job are stinky. There are parts of every job we'd rather do without, but stick with it because it will lead to profit. Her observation is that no oxen=no poop=no profit OR oxen+poop=profit.

There are parts of jobs and projects I would love to do without, but it's way better to keep at it and reap the benefits of a job well done in the end. Good reminder and a great challenge.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life Themes

I caught this thought from Mark Batterson.

"One part of finding your voice is identifying your life themes. C.S. Lewis said, "Every life is comprised of a few themes." Over time you identify those unique God-given convictions that drive you. For example, there are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. That is one of my themes. A life theme isn't something you know. It's something you ooze out of your pores. It's not something you define. It's something that defines you. It's more than head-knowledge. It's a gut-conviction."

It got me to thinking about what I know about myself. What are my life themes? I'm sure that I have them, but when I ask that question I draw a blank, so I've started to think about it and ask God to help me recognize the life themes of my life.

What are yours?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Disney Princess 1/2 marathon


Inspirational. I saw pictures of a friend running with a tiara on her head and was immediately drawn to find out more! Disney hosts a Princess half marathon every year! You get to run 13.1 miles through Disney World! The medals they give out at the end are tiaras on ribbons and if I register earlly enough my running bib can say Princess Laura!!!
It's in March though. Running conditions are really different in Florida in March than they are in Wisconsin in March... It could work if I could run laps around an indoor swimming pool! Hmmm... something to think about.
Is this possibly a new life goal?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The dream and the reality

Here we go for another try. I have dismally failed on this portion on my New Year's resolution, but I'm picking it up again. Pushing through to the inspiration and determination. Let it be so.

I've been reading the stories of Samuel and the first kings of Israel recently. In my journey, Israel has just made the transition from King David to King Solomon. One of the interesting points I picked up on this time through these chapters is the dream of building the temple.

David is the one who had the dream, the goal, the vision for the temple. He looked at his palace and realized how lovely it was and that the ark of the covenant was sitting in a tent. He started to make the plans and then God said, "Thank you so much for wanting to build this for me, but this isn't your job. Your son is going to build a temple for me."

Years later Solomon, having become incredibly wealthy and wise, remembered his father's vision and God's promise that David's son would build the temple. He picked up the dream and made it a reality. The description of the temple is awe-inspiring. The hundreds of bronze pomegranates, the altar, the 15 foot cherubim! God's house was amazing.

But I wonder, what if David hadn't had the dream in the first place. Would Solomon have built the temple without the dream of his father?

This makes me wonder if there are dreams I have that aren't for me to fulfill or what am I fulfilling that had their start in the dreams of others? We're definitely supposed to have dream and goals that we have and carry out, but sometimes maybe we are just the dream carrier, the dream conveyor and someone else carries out the dream and makes it reality.

David and Solomon's temple building story makes me wonder how many other times God has used someone as the dream sparker and another to carry out the plan.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I am a freak

An event took place recently that brought me to a harsh realization: I am a freak. Our weekly pastoral staff meeting generally starts with a pilgrimage to our favorite table and chairs at the Plover Starbucks, some of our absolute best work gets done there.
It was during one of these Starbucks meetings that the full extent of my freakishness was unveiled. I ordered my customary tall nonfat no whip peppermint mocha and then made a decision that changed the course of the entire meeting. I ordered oatmeal as well. It was prepared for me by the jovial barrista with a little milk and brown sugar. Perfect. But when she handed it to me, I got my first inclination that this was not going to be okay. It was in a thick cardboard container. It kind of makes me cringe just thinking about it.
I have a problem and my problem is wet cardboard or wood products. Wet cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks, wooden docks in lakes. When I was handed the cardboard cup with the delicious but wet oatmeal in it there was moment of panic. I quickly told myself to suck it up and get over it. I sat down in my regular chair and tried not to scrape the spoon along the cardboard as I ate my oatmeal. It did not work. I blanched as the spoon made contact with that stupid wet cardboard and Pastor Dan launched into the topics we needed to cover that morning. I tried as hard as I could to keep eating, but I couldn't. My teeth started tingling and I just put the oatmeal down to try and recover. But try as I might, the mere thought of the hideous wet cardboard sitting on the table in front of me controled my thoughts and physical reactions. No matter how I strained, I couldn't hear a word Pastor Dan was saying.
Finally I knew I had to do something about it. I went back to the counter and told the kind barrista that I had a problem. I had a problem with wet cardboard and, if possible, would like to have a bowl or glass cup to put the oatmeal in. As she looked at me with a puzzled expression, I admitted, "Yes, I know. I am a freak."
And here's the spiritual application. God loves you just the way you are. No matter what freakish fear you might have. God created you and loves you, even if you become petrified at the sight of the Starbucks cardboard oatmeal cup. Amen.