Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Kara!

Today is Kara's 35th birthday, and although I can't claim originality in this idea of sharing best wishes to her on this blog (see her Oct. 9 entry to me), I can claim it's appropriateness though, given our new and extended miles from most of our friends & family and how great of an idea she had. Plus, I'm not the most creative type, so...I'll borrow from her cleaverness. ;>)

First and foremost, for those who know Kara at all, we know of her deep and sincere heart for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This aspect of her life was one of the very first obvious things to me when I first met her some 15+ years ago. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the many things I love most about her. Her heart and love for God is seen evidently through each of the fruits of the Spirit I see in her daily: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. I honestly couldn't pick any one of the nine over any of the others to be more describing of Kara.

The very next thing that comes to my mind about Kara is how great of a mother she is to our two great kids, Samuel and Sarah Grace. Although we are always trying to figure out this parenting thing, Kara has always amazed me with her never-ending devotion towards consistently seeking to not only provide them with the best home, education and opportunities, but even more so in providing them with the best mother she can be ("working" on herself, just as much, if not more, than she "works" on them). Samuel and Sarah Grace will probably never know how great of a mother she is...but I do, and I thank God daily for that. She has sacrificed so much for them and me - but counts it all a joy. She is the consummate mother - she loves them (and me) so much and so unconditionally.

Kara is also my best friend. My favorite times are when we are doing something together. We may not enjoy all of the same hobbies (knitting, reading and singing for her; soccer, chess and football for me), but she actively and regularly supports and encourages me in everything I set out to do - whether it's really trivial or not. And as you can only assume from a best friend, she is my absolute biggest encourager when I'm struggling with anything. Whether it's been the recent job uncertainties I've faced or another long losing streak in chess ;>). The other neat thing about being her best friend, is seeing what a great friend she is to others - which I know many of you can attest.

In addition to being such an amazing wife, mother and friend, she is also so talented in so many other areas. One of her passions is singing. Although she may not be the most talented/gifted singer (but she is good!), the combination of her talent along with her obvious heart for singing and passion to lead others in worship is unmistakable. She also enjoys sharing her passion with children by leading them in this at church as well.

In addition to all of these things about Kara I love, there are so many others as well. First of all, and obvious to most, is that she puts up with and loves me. That in itself deserves a lot of recognition. Secondly, is the way that she deals with her own struggles (Celiac for one). She's the last to complain about such hardships that she must deal with on a daily basis, and it's almost easy to forget she has her own problems (while she's helping us with our own). And finally, I must say, she's definitely one of the smartest people I've ever met. If it had been her desire, she easily could've been and done anything career-wise she would've liked to have done and been extremely successful. That being said, she did exactly just that - she is in fact the most amazing friend, wife and mother there could be.

We love you Kara!
Greg, Samuel & Sarah Grace

Samuel's AT-TE Walker

This is the largest Lego set Samuel has done yet.  It's also his favorite.  Thanks Aunt Kayla and Uncle Jason!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wanna see what we do when we're bored?

We made a Christmas video.  We did it for a "contest" between our family and Dale and Kirsten's.  We had a lot of fun making it with our family and the family next door.   So here it is....but before you hit PLAY,  make sure you have your speakers up and then scroll down to the very bottom of the blog to the music player and click on the PAUSE button, so that you will only hear the music in the video.

Well, I hope that brought some smiles to your day!  


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Addendum to Arctic Blast....

Here are some more pics for your viewing enjoyment!  The dog in the pics is Sadie, the dog-next-door.  She is sweet and a faithful running companion!  The other pics are from Halloween when Samuel and Sarah Grace dressed up as Superman and Supergirl.  I have also included a couple of pics from the Awana grand prix where Samuel's car, 'Spike' won second place for speed and Sarah Grace's car "Ocean on Wheels",  won first place for design.  The kids totally designed the cars themselves and both cars excelled at what their designers had in mind.  It was a fun day.


The Arctic Blast and other happenings....

There is currently about eight inches of snow on the ground outside our house.  All of this winter weather started exactly one week ago with a storm that caused churches and schools to be cancelled for the following week.  Just when the ice and snow had thawed, we got hit with another storm.  This one, it seems, is even worse than the first.  There is a layer of ice about 1/4-1/2 inch thick laying on top of all of the snow that came before it.   The town of Lake Oswego has pretty much shut down.  
Church was cancelled for the second Sunday in a row, so our next-door and across-the-street neighbors all joined at our house for an impromptu worship service led by Miguel (our super nice, very talented next-door neighbor).   We sang songs and read some Advent scriptures and prayed.  After that, Miguel declared he was feeling cabin-feverish and so we all joined him in walking to Starbucks.  Starbucks didn't have any electricity, so they were closed as was just about every other business except for Albertsons.  So we went there and picked up some items to add to the Carne Asada dinner that Colleen is making for all of us tonight.   Colleen, for those of you who don't know, is Miguel's wife and my best friend in Oregon :)!
Greg and Sarah Grace decided they wanted burgers for lunch and so they walked back to the store (which trust me, is no easy task right now).  As I started writing this the snow has started falling again and it's coming down pretty heavily.  I just heard a terrible cracking sound followed by a loud thud and opened up the door to hear some guys walking and talking about how unbelievable this weather is and how they had better be careful what trees they walk under.  Apparently, a sizable limb just fell off of a tree in my driveway!  I will be glad when Greg and SG are back here safe and sound.  

Aside from the weather, we have  just been busy getting ready for Christmas.  We took the kids to see Santa a week ago this past Saturday.  That was at a local rec. center and was a lot of fun.  We have done shopping and we got a tree and decorated it with homemade decorations (since all of our Christmas stuff is in Charlotte).   In many ways, this Christmas has been "simplified" a lot, and you know what?  It's great!  I am missing my family back east pretty sorely right now, but I am also overcome by a deep sense of gratitude for all I have and for how God has so tenderly cared for us these past few months.

Greg is still playing indoor soccer for two teams.   Some of you know, I had taken up running after we moved here.  I have been sidelined for the last month though due to injuries.  I am hopeful to get back to it soon by starting with a steady walking regimen and move back into the running slowly.  
We are getting somewhat active in our church.  I am slated to sing on Christmas Eve in a trio and with the worship team and Greg has been asked to help with communion.  I am also planning (after much prayer) to lead children's worship in the new year.  
We will be sharing Christmas Eve dinner with a couple of other families from our church.  Christmas Day we will enjoy just the four of us being together.   
If I fail to write again soon, I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Moonshine on my shoulders makes me happy!

I'll start by explaining the title.   "Moonshine", aka Kirsten Jones came to Portland for a visit all the way from Charlotte, NC!  She has called me "Sunshine" for years and since one good turn deserves another, I needed to find a suitable moniker for her.  For those of you that know Kirsten, you understand that "Moonshine" fits the bill quite nicely.  While you are catching up on our visit, I have included the John Denver song that I often get serenaded with when I am blessed with a phone call from Mrs. Jones.  Welcome to our world.
She arrived on a rainy Thursday afternoon.  We brought her home, fed her some soup, introduced her to the neighbors (whose children she adores!), and put her down for a nap.  We later went to dinner at Baja Fresh, while the kids were in Awana.  Friday morning was leisurely and after some breakfast and Chai tea, we headed downtown via bus to meet Greg.  We spent the rest of the afternoon trudging up and down NW 23rd Ave, which is packed with cool, trendy stores and restaurants and interesting Portlanders.  We ate a good lunch at Rose's and later enjoyed gelatos and lattes while we slipped out of one store into another.  Kirsten and Sarah Grace got hand massages at some funky soap store.  The smell of the store was so strong Samuel couldn't stand it, but SG was right in her element!
Dark had fallen just after 5:00pm., so we caught our bus back home to Lake Oswego.  We picked up movies and had soup and sandwiches for dinner.  
Saturday we got an earlier start and headed for Multnomah Falls.  Kirsten, Greg and the kids went on the hike up to the top, while I stayed down in the restaurant and did some reading and knitting (I am recovering from some running injuries).  The day started out rainy (as you can tell by the pic), but the sun poked out a bit later when we were headed for Mt. Hood.  Kirsten enjoyed the hike, but in true Moonshine fashion, she got naughty and climbed over the fence onto a cliff at the top of the falls.  Greg got a picture of this as Samuel was making his way over the fence to join Kirsten on the cliff.  I can always count on her to set a good example.  sigh.  
I'm glad there wasn't a park ranger around.
Fortunately, the sun came out and it was around 40 degrees going up Mt. Hood to the Timberline Lodge.  If it had been much colder, I think we would have had trouble getting up even that far, as we did not have chains on the tires.  When we got to the lodge we looked around a bit and let the kids play for a few minutes in the snow.  We couldn't stay long, because we didn't have the proper gear and it was quite a bit colder once we got to the lodge.   Dinner was had at a Gustav's restaurant, back in Portland, that serves mostly German fare.  
Sunday morning we went to church and showed off our Southern friend.  Northwesterners are fascinated with Southerners.  It's kind of cute.  After church we lunched at Players and watched some football while the kids played.  The girls climbed into their beds for naps back at home, while the boys watched TV and played on the computer.  After a walk to the park with Sadie (our neighbor's lab), we went to dinner at the Corbett Fish House in Portland.  They have won various awards for their fish and chips and.....they are gluten free!  They use rice flour, so I can have almost everything on the menu!  It is a very fun, relaxed place with fishing stuff all over the walls and maps and whatnot.  The food is awesome too.  We can't wait to take Kayla and Jason (you guys will LOVE it!).  Anyway, it has been years since I have had fish n' chips and clam chowder soup.  It was a treat!
We hurried home to get the kids into bed and watch "24".  After that, Moonshine still wanted to par-tay, so we went out and got that Untraceable movie that I swore I would never see (I don't like torture scenes).  It actually was pretty cool, because it was filmed in Portland and a whole lot of what you see in the movie, we had just shown Kirsten. 
All in all we had a great time.  Our days were packed with non-stop excursions, but we relaxed at night and enjoyed each other's company as we read to the kids,  chatted and made fun of stuff on TV, movies, etc.  
This morning we bid her farewell at the airport.  We love you and we will miss you Moonshine.  Thank you for coming all the way out here and being our very first guest!  

Who's next?


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can.

The election is over and as much planning as I put into these blog entries (not a lot), I think I can safely say this will be my last political entry.  Since I opened my big mouth last week, it somehow feels irresponsible not to follow up with this entry.  
In short, I am neither surprised or fearful about Barack Obama winning the presidency.  

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."  Romans 13:1

There you have it.  God voted for Barack Obama.  
So is it the Judgment of God, or is it that some of us were wrong about what the best thing for this country is?  Personally, I feel safer leaning towards the "I was wrong" possibility.  That's because I don't like to play God and from everything I read in the Bible....judgement belongs to Him.  I'm just not going there.  I don't think God's judgement can be mistaken for anything other than what it is, so if that's what is coming we will all know.   So let's leave the judging to Him and get on with what our response to this country's problems should be.  

The other day my friend, Paul Smith, sent out an email about what a Christian's response to the election should be starting on Nov. 5th.   The following ideas come from Mark Earley, the president of Prison Fellowship Ministries:

1.  Get involved in the political may even consider for running for office yourself!
2.  Work at a pregnancy care young women in crisis pregnancies.
3.  Volunteer in prison, bring the hope of the gospel to those there that need it and help them to transition to life on the 'outside'.
4.  Speak to lawmakers about bringing Biblical principles into the prison system.
5.  Have a monthy fund-raising party and give the money to charities that are working to heal our culture.
6.  Support attorneys that are working to protect the rights of Christians.
7.  Encourage teenagers into leadership positions such as leading Bible study or running for student council,  or mentoring young children.
8.  Donate your time and money.  The example he gave was supporting school choice by holding a pizza party where the proceeds to to a scholarship fund for poor children....even if just one child is helped out of a failing's worth it!

Mark Earley ends with this:  "Besides being fun and worthwhile, these kinds of activities will help you light a candle instead of being tempted just to curse the darkness."

To this I will add that it is our civic duty to support our president.  It is our spiritual duty to pray for him.  I will be praying for Barack Obama to know the leading and guidance of God.  I am going to be praying for his safety and the safety of his family.  I am going to pray that he and his family will get into a good church and be nourished by the truth of God's word.  I will pray that he will be surrounded by good advisors with sound minds and level-headed thinking.  I will pray that he will grow in favor with both God and men.  Israel had leaders for whom these things were true , and so this is how I will pray for our president-elect.

And finally, these words from Jesus,

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.  
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  Matthew 5: 14-16

Yes we can!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

America is about to get it wrong.

The election is fast approaching.  For much of the past 18 months, I have gone from not caring at all to caring just a little about the crazy political activities of our present and future leaders.  Just when you think the media is going to give you something meaty, something of instead find an article on your homepage investigating the merits of each candidate as determined by pet owners.  This is not a joke.  People are actually writing about that sort of thing.  
The nations are raging.  The economy is in the dump.  Gas prices are all over the map.  Our national debt is through the roof.  People are losing jobs.  People are losing their homes.  BUT....not to worry it's all going to be OK because with a little tax navigation wealth can be shared.  With some careful Supreme Court drafting, legislative loopholing and creativity, gay people can get married and abortions can be obtained with even greater ease than they are now.  I mean, these are the important things in our country's life right now, right?  Oh!  I forgot that new "Fairness Doctrine" thing where all opposing view points will HAVE to get equal airtime in the media.  Hmmm. I wonder how that will be policed and how fair such a 'doctrine' will be.   America is about to get all this and more when we elect Barack Obama as president.

Barack Obama is an intriguing figure, no doubt.  He has far more flair, charisma, smoothness and just all around like-ability than John McCain.  I wanted to like him enough to want to vote for him, but I just never could get there.  He certainly has more money to spend than McCain.  His campaign is more lavish than any I've ever seen or remembered that is for sure.  I do think it's ironic know, that it's the Democratic candidate that is throwing all this money around and is surrounded by all this glitz and glam, while the Republican candidate (who chose to keep his word) took public funds and now can't compete with Obama's media blitz.  It's not ironic that we would see the Democrat spend more....we know that is what they do and I've never met one who denied this.  What is ironic is that the Democrat is supposed to represent the little guy!   Yet the Republican here is the one that is standing ground with the little guy.  

More and more Obama comes off elitest and untouchable.  He is clearly the media darling and I dare someone to argue that point with me.  Aw shucks!  I don't really want to get into a fight about politics.  I really have kept my opinions to myself for the most part.  It's just that I've always liked McCain.  It's true, I have.  I know a lot of conservatives havn't embraced him from the get go, and are only doing so now because they feel they have no choice.  I've always liked him though.
He is more moderate than some would like, but I find it to be a good thing.  A check against corruption if you will.  That is my frustration with an Obama presidency.  More and more,  I fail to see the possibility for moderation in it.  It looks very, very leftist and not very pragmatic.   He has a lot of ideas, so many they make my head many promises.  I wonder if people realize he will not be the saviour they are looking for.  

So why am I going to vote for John?  Well because he's a maverick of course! ;>  Sorry, I just had to throw that in.  I like John because he's sensible and he's not making promises he can't keep.  We don't have to wonder about him....he hasn't changed in 40 years.  He upholds the things that make conservatism truly conservative.  I feel confident that he is the best man for the job especially when it comes to foreign affairs.....and there is quite a bit going on in our world today regarding such affairs.  I don't think our nation's future hinges upon what Europeans think of us or our president.  Uh, have you seen what has been going on in Europe over the last century?  They have enough problems of their own thank-you-very-much.
I think he means it when he speaks of energy independence and I think he could actually help to get this done.  That would be pretty huge.  
Since the congress will be mostly Democratic, John would bring balance, but he would also be able to get things done, because he knows how to work with others and he is respected by others.  He's not giving any easy answers to really tough questions because there are no easy answers.  I appreciate that he hasn't tried to make them up.
Bottom line, he's the real deal and.....NEWS FLASH!  He is not George W. Bush.  The notion that his presidency would be a continuation of Bush's is media-spun hogwash.  

Sadly, I don't think the right guy is going to win it.  The current economic turmoil coupled with  our blatantly zombified, Obamaified media have turned too many voters away from the prudent and pragmatic John McCain.
Go vote your conscience, and remember.....God is sovereign!  

In Him we put our trust.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our house.....

I'm a very visual person.  When I am thinking about or talking to someone on the phone, I visualize where they are in their surroundings.  Before we left for Oregon we made a trip to Orlando to see Jimmy and Tobitha in their new house.  We wanted to see them and they could have met us in Charlotte, but we really wanted to see where they live.  They had already been in that house for 3 or 4 months before we got to see it.  I'm sure to some it seems silly, but it meant a lot to me to be able to see my girl in her home.  Now when I talk with her I can see in my mind her sitting on her leather sofa in the family room, or loading the dishwasher.  When I hear her kids playing, I can imagine what room they are in and what toys they might be playing with.  It helps me feel connected to them.  It helps to illustrate their life for me, and it is a gift.

So I have posted some pics of our home for you.  The house is small, but airy.  There are plenty of windows but the house is surrounded by lots of trees, so sunlight doesn't exactly pour through them.  Speaking of sunlight, there isn't an abundance of it here.  During the summer you get quite a lot of sun and very little rain.  The rest of the year the atmosphere is mostly grey and green.  I hear the leaves are gorgeous in the fall, but they havn't really changed as of yet.  Lately the temperatures have been cool or cold, with an occasional warmer day (high 60's--but today is supposed to be in the 70's!).  

Well, we are going to the zoo today!  Gotta run.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recent Adventures

Thanks to everyone who helped make Greg's birthday special!  He was very blessed.  
The last couple of weekends we have tried to incorporate some fun outing.  First we took the kids to Multnomah Falls.  We hiked up to the falls and back down again.  The air was crisp and the day was sunny.  We all had a great time, and you can see some of our pics.

This past weekend we went to the pumpkin patch with Colleen, Marisa, and KJ of the M. family next door.  
Again, we were blessed with a beautiful day!   The kids had fun with various amusements, followed by picking out their pumpkins and finally carmel apples and hot apple cider.  Yum!  
I have posted some pics of this as well.  The two little kids in the pics that you don't know are Marisa and KJ.  

In unrelated news, Colleen shared with me yesterday about a prayer chain going on.  Christians across the country are asked to take one minute and pray for the direction of our country.  The time for this prayer is 6:00pm pacific time....which translates to 9:00pm for all you folks back east.  Thought I would pass it along.  It doesn't seem like a bad idea, you know?


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why I love this man!

Today is my love's birthday!  He is 39 today.  Most people reading this blog know Greg pretty well.  Most of you have your own reasons for loving him.  Here are mine.

He loves my God.  He is a devoted follower of Christ.  I learn so much from him, and he inspires me to love Him better.  He serves our savior with a quiet determination.  His is not a flashy faithfulness but an ever consistent one. 
He loves people.  He enters easily into other people's lives.  He makes people happy.  He's such a good friend.  If you are his friend you are lucky,  and you probably know that he will always be there for you.  That's how he is.  He's the kind of guy you meet and later say to yourself, "That's the nicest guy!".  He smiles a lot and his smile is contagious.

He loves his family.  He's a mama's boy, did you know that?  It's true!  I tell all my girlfriends that marrying a mama's boy was a really good thing.  He knows how to treat a woman.   He knows that love and respect are flip sides of the same coin and he is generous with both.  He is fiercely devoted to his family which is very big, because it includes his family, my family and everyone else he is even remotely related to!  It even includes some people we are NOT technically related to but have somehow gotten absorbed into our family.  He is devoted to all those people.  He would never disown any family either.  It's not his way.  One of our children could totally go off the deep end, they may get into some unbelievable stuff one day (though we pray not),  and he will always love them.  They will always be his and he will never disown them.

He loves his children.  I know our kids are our family, so I seem redundant right now, but it's special with your very own kids.  He is an amazing father.  He is gentle and kind and when he loses his temper (like we all do), he is remorseful and tries not to do it again.  He's much better at that than me...yet another way he inspires me.  He builds his kids up.  He is always talking to them, teaching them things.  They respect him, and they love him so much.  They still scream "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" when he walks through the door.  They love being with him.  He is very protective of our relationship with our kids.  He is my biggest supporter in our homeschooling them.  While I do the teaching, he is always reinforcing what they are learning.  He is always encouraging me in my mothering and schooling the kids. 
He loves me.  He has pursued me since the day that I met him.  I can be so difficult and so unlovely at times and he still pursues me.  He reminds me, often, of the lavish way the Lord loves me.  No one else reminds me of this the way that he does.  No one else even comes close.  I didn't love him when I first met him, but it wasn't long before I somehow knew that I would...and then it wasn't long after that and I did.  I still feel like there are places to go with our love.  It's still growing, changing and deepening.  I know him better than anyone else on the planet, but I don't know him fully.  There is always more to him and I am really enjoying getting to know him! 
He doesn't let me get by with stuff.  He holds me accountable, and he looks for me to do the same for him.  We are partners.  We're doing this thing together.  He has never once lost sight of that.  That's a big deal, because a lot of times in a marriage one spouse will want everything to be all about know, like centered around them.  I've been like that before, but Greg never has.  Really, he never has.
He gives me more ice cream.  If one of us is going to have 'more' of something, it's always going to be me, because he makes sure of it.  He's always been this way.

There is a lot about him that is really cool.  He plays soccer and tennis and basketball and well just about any sport he can.  He doesn't obsess over any of them though.  He loves the Jaguars.  He's pretty conservative politically, but he gives everyone a fair shot and he doesn't obsess about any of that either.  He's so reasonable.  He's just got so much common sense.  He is really refreshingly smart.  Actually, he's really, really smart but a lot of people don't always know how incredibly smart he is cause he doesn't show off.   And my goodness!  Do you see how cute he is!?

I could go on.  I definitely could, but I know I should stop here and give my readers a chance to ponder my hubby's greatness all on their own!  Seriously, if you are reading this, leave a comment and give him a nod on his birthday.

Happy birthday baby!  I love you!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blue Like Jazz--A review

Here comes my first book review installment!  

I started reading Blue Like Jazz (BLJ) about a week ago after meeting a lady from Rolling Hills Community Church that recommended and then loaned it to me.  She prefaced the book by saying that it would help conservative Christians to love liberals more.  Well, that intrigued me because I am always interested in ways to get conservative Christians to love anyone more.  Of course I lump myself in that group as well.  I decided I should definately read the book.  I'm glad I did.

The author is Donald Miller who is a thiry-something, unmarried, writer/speaker who lives in Portland.  He attends Imago Dei Church in Portland, which is known for being very progressive in it's outreach to our lost and broken world.  Donald doesn't mince words and he doesn't worry too much about political correctness within the Church.  He certainly doesn't come across as a very religious man, although the reader is left with no doubts about Miller's personal relationship to Christ.  His recollections are funny and touching.  I found myself relating a lot to him, as I imagine most Christians would also, if they are honest with themselves.  He uses the term "Christian spirituality" in place of Christianity with the premise that he cannot relate what the term 'Christianity' means anymore in todays world.  I'm not big on renaming things.  Seems kind of trendy, but his essays in the book are so real and down-to-earth,  I was able to overlook the renaming thing.

He touches on a number of subjects ranging from love to tithing, politics to Jesus.  His spiritual journey begins within Christian fundamentalism.  He took some fair shots at fundamentalism without alltogether tearing it down.  Ultimately his journey takes him far....very far from his fundamentalist beginnings.  It is during his time at Reed College (known as one of the most intellectual, yet Godless institutions in the country), where the rubber starts to meet the road with regards to his faith in God.  While spending time in the midst of free-loving, pot smoking liberal geniuses, Miller begins to learn what following Christ is really all about.  Not that those free-loving, pot-smoking, liberal geniuses knew what following Christ was about, they definately did not.  Still, it was in their midst that he began to learn.   This was truely fascinating to read about.  It was eye-opening and convicting.  

Ultimately I have to heartily recommend this book.  For ultra-conservative believers, it is a must read.  Some things are more important than being 'right' and what you will gain from this read is one of those things.   Miller deals with issues that are usually off-topic and taboo in the Church.  There shouldn't be anything we can't talk about in the Church.  We are
 children of the Most High God of the Universe!  We don't need to fear honest conversations...honest questions. 
 Believers have times of doubt.  We deal with crises of belief.  It happens.  God is still God, and if we know Him, we are still His child.  I am reminded of a blog I read recently where a pastor, that will remain unnamed, actually called into question whether or not Mother Theresa was really saved....because she had doubts.  She suffered from the crisis of belief at times.  He pretty much stated that this would not have been the case had she been a true believer.  I had to swallow back the bile that was rising up in my throat upon reading such trash.  It isn't even because I am so sure that Mother Theresa is saved (though if I were a betting woman, I'd say she's probably resting securely in the arms of Jesus right now), it's because who was he, that pastor guy, to say she is or is NOT saved?  What is the point in even discussing something like that about a dead person!?  However, the real problem there was that that pastor, from his place of self-righteous condemnation, was just so un-real.  He was trying to say he has never doubted his faith....never struggled with the crisis of belief.  If that is true, I don't think he is probably a very good pastor.  

Get real.  There is stuff in this book that every believer would do well to read and ponder.  It's a quick read and can most likely be found in any library since it was a best-seller.  I don't know everything about this Donald Miller, but from the bit of research I've done on him, I think he's the real deal.  Does that mean I buy everything he's selling?  No, but I'm a thinking girl and he gave me a lot to think about.  I can appreciate that.

By His Grace,

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I will seek His face

"Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me.  When Thou didst say, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to Thee,
'Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek."  David---Psalm 26:7-8

Sometimes I find myself asking, 'Why did we come here?'.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad place.  The people are nice and the air is fresh.  There is no want for cool places to go and things to do.  It's not hard to find great music teachers...they are everywhere!  We've got great neighbors who love the Lord and have kids to boot.  Greg goes to a job where he earns a paycheck for doing what he likes to do and he gets to come home before 4:00 most days and sometimes even earlier. I don't have to tell you, that ain't no small thing!  Life is good here and I am not complaining.

I still wonder why we are here though.  See, it has to do with more than just the job.  From our fleshly perspective, that is what brought us here, but there is more to it than that.  Our country is in economic crisis.  Job security doesn't exist.  The housing markets are so bad, it is very likely we will not sell our house in North Carolina.  That means we will not buy a house here.  We will not be putting down roots here in that way.  That's a new thing for us.  The truth is, we don't know where we will be living a year from now, or who we will be working for.
So, we have a home in NC and we have a transplanted, possibly temporal life here in OR.   
Well, of course our lives anywhere on the Earth are temporal, but you know what I mean.

To top all of this off:  God is sovereign.
That is what I believe,  which means I believe that none of this is outside of His will.  How 'bout that!?
This is our story.  Anyone reading this is going through his or her own story.  I know for a fact that many of you (my friends) are dealing with illness, relationship issues, job loss, financial crises, and other life changes in your own lives.  When you are going through something and the Lord is doing a new thing in you, have you ever noticed the coincidences that mysteriously start cropping up everywhere?  You know, where it seems like life starts taking on a theme.  It's the kind of thing we later call a season.  There are seasons for ministry, seasons of happiness, seasons of sadness...seasons of pruning.  
Speaking of pruning, it's hard work you know.  Especially if you have neglected to do it for some time.  The last time I pruned my rose bushes, it ended up being a monster of a job.  I had scrapes, scratches and punctures all over me.  See, I had not done it the year before (I wanted to see what would happen).  So the branches were very thick and thorny and unruly.  It was a mess.  They had looked so full and thick before I pruned them, but I knew I had to do it, because they stopped producing roses like they used to.  When I was finished they were ugly and bare and cold looking.  Sad little rose bushes that just hours before had been big, green and bushy...though wayward.  
It was not easy work for me, but it's my job to take care of them and that is what they needed.  It was stressful for them too.  You have to be careful when you prune a plant back.  It's got to be the right season.

And so it is with God and us.  
Pruning is hard and some seasons are more fun than others.  

I don't know what we will be calling this season once it's in the past.  As for the pruning, I don't know how deep the cuts will go.  It's anybody's guess, but the Lord knows.  For now, I know there is to be a singular focus in the Liechty family.  We are to raise up our eyes above the unanswered questions to the One who deserves our undivided attention.

"When Thou didst say, 'Seek My face', my heart said to Thee, "Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek".

By the way, the roses looked great this spring!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

After week one....

Well, we have had an amazing first week here in Lake Oswego!  
We met our next door neighbors the day we moved in with the help of their 8 and 10 year old boys that were very excited about kids moving in next door.  That was Saturday.  By Tuesday, we were attending the 8 year old's birthday party!  Yeah, on Sunday, we were shopping for birthday presents in Target.  Too funny.  It's been a great blessing getting to know the M. family.  The kids either play over at our house or at the M.s' house.  We have visited two great churches in a weeks time.  Today we visited the M.s church.  Yes, they are Christians!  God has been very gracious to us.  We found out the other neighbors on the other side of the street go to that church too.  It was a great church and I think we will visit again.
Last Sunday, we visited Rolling Hills Church.  The kids are doing Awanas there now on Thursday nights.  Greg played on Mrs. M's soccer team last night.  Indoor soccer.   He was thrilled to have the opportunity to play.   
So the kids are adjusting very well to Oregon so far.  We are currently trying to wrap up the search for our piano and violin teachers.  We have a short list of teachers who have made the "cut" thus far and we will be meeting a few more this week and hopefully be able to firm things up and get the kids going again with their music.  I am so grateful for my sweet, talented, and insightful sister-in-law, Kayla, for helping me with this painstaking process!  

Our home here is small, but comfortable and has everything we need.  Downtown LO is within walking distance which is really cool.  It is really a neat thing to learn to live with less...less stuff, less people, less familiarity....even less worldly security.  I can't say I really love that last part, but it is what it is and I know God is doing something in the midst of it all.   It's not as if we are the only one's dealing with uncertainty....but more on that later.  

This is why I put "Traveling Light" as the first song on the player this week.  It's fitting.  Enjoy.

'Til next time....

LYMYWY (love you, miss you , want you),

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Eagle has landed!

Greetings from Lake Oswego, Oregon!  We had a leisurely morning in Twin Falls (we slept in) and got on the road just before 11:00am.  We stopped for a pic along the Snake River.  We finished our Oregon Trail book just as we pulled into the Oregon Trail Restaurant!  It was like Mel's Diner from that TV show Alice (Monica, if you are reading this, that was WAY before your time ;>), only there were animal heads hanging up everywhere.  

After that we made the trek to Portland.  We got to drive along the Columbia River Gorge for much of the way.  Beautiful territory.   I was surprised though, when we first entered Oregon and for the first many miles the countryside was barren and desertous.  It reminded Greg and I of desert hill scenes from the Middle East.  It wasn't until we reached the Gorge that the topography started to change to higher, greener mountains.  

We went straight to our rental house and unloaded a bunch of stuff and then went out to eat at a Lake Oswego favorite of ours:  Five Spice and then ice cream at the Lake Oswego Ice Creamery.  We then promptly took our tired selves to Embassy Suites for our last night in a hotel.  We decided to stay at a hotel instead of the house since it's late and the house is a mess.

3,248 miles, 8 tanks of gas, 10 states, 6 days later and we are here safe and sound.  Thank you for all your prayers for our safe travels.  I will keep the blog up-to-date with all of the fascinating Liechty news that I know you will not want to miss!  So keep checking in!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yellowstone! Wyoming, Montana, Idaho...

It's really late on Thursday evening and we just pulled into Twin Falls, ID not long ago.  The kiddos are fast asleep and we are not far behind them.  
We started our day leaving Sheridan and heading west towards Yellowstone.  We went through some pretty fantastic territory on the way.  We drove through mountains of granite and dolomite.  We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Dam at the Shoshone River.  The water was low as they are irrigating at this time.  The countryside was absolutely breathtaking.  

Shortly before we reached Yellowstone, we witnessed a black bear running along a hillside.  He looked right at us and was not impressed...he took off in the other direction, but we managed to get a couple of good pics.
Once we reached Yellowstone we were all quite serious about spotting whatever wildlife we could.  We saw bison, antelope, peacock, elk, large birds of prey, sulfur springs and geysers, and of course a number of homosapians.  We saw the bison the most.  In fact a couple of times they got really close to our van and Greg was standing just feet away from one that was grazing and kept edging closer to him.  We really wanted to see a moose and grizzly, but they eluded us today.  
Once we left Yellowstone, we made the trek back northwest towards Twin Falls.  We ate in Idaho Falls on the Snake River at a microbrewery called Brownstone.  Night was falling so we didn't get to explore the area too much, but it seemed like a beautiful area from what I could tell.  After dinner, we piled back into the van and headed for our hotel in Twin Falls (about another 2.5 hours in the van).  We are beat!  The good news is we only have 6-7 hours of driving ahead of us tomorrow to get to Portland.  We hope to sleep in, kids allowing.

A few of you have asked what we do while we are driving such long distances.  Well we do school, read aloud in the Oregon Trail and also Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, look for license plates from different states (thanks for the books Mom), watch Planet Earth DVDs and the occasional movie, and do a lot of talking about all the cool stuff we are seeing.  We are having a great time and the kids have not complained ONCE about being in the car for so long.  They are real troopers!  

I was struck today by what a blessed woman I am to get to spend this precious time with my husband and children.  It's truly an experience I will forever treasure.