Monthly Archives: July 2012

Another Update

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The past few weeks have been so full with Clarkston happenings. So, before we head out for a long-weekend-vacation, I wanted to send an update.

We closed on the third house in the subdivision last week.  It’s amazing that we are finally there…being would-be builders has been an education.

Our own timing for moving has been changed.  It’s been hard to find facts about what it will take (time and money) to renovate the bungalow basement in order to feasibly live there as a family as our house in Clarkston is being built.  So…until we can get some clarity there, our house is off the market.  It makes me somewhat sad, but I do know that God’s timing is being worked out so clearly.

One of the ways we’ve seen His timing has been in the way that our dance with the city has gone.  At every turn, we’ve been grateful for the integrity and responsiveness of city officials.  But, we’ve also had roadblocks along the way that have taken time to hurdle.  As of last week, it seems apparent that we will be able to apply for a building permit for our house without encountering the red tape that we’ve been anticipating (due to codes, zoning, etc.).  That is huge, and we’re grateful that God slowed us down in the spring.  We see now that, had we pressed ahead with our dealings then, we would have been very frustrated and tied up in red tape right about now.  Instead, it looks like it could be clear sailing toward starting our house. He does know and He does see!

The remainder of the undeveloped subdivision…

The sweetest thing this week, though, was our first neighborhood gathering.  We had a pot-luck dinner together and had the chance to sit around the dinner table and do the fun and awkward dance of learning about each other.  A meal shared is an amazing platform for relationships to be born.  It was special, and it was hopeful for all, I think.  Each family has come to their place in the subdivision with much  surrender, grace, prayer, and challenge.  It was sweet to celebrate some tangible victory as we sat in the kitchen of one of the homes.

Thank you for journeying with us!

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His Kindness

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The Gospel…

Again…

Please, Lord, teach it to my heart and make me passionate for the real thing.

It’s my strengthening prayer as we move closer to a life-change where someone might actually ask me to give a reason “for the hope that is in me.”

I’m chicken-Christian, no doubt about it.

That whole older-brother (sister) thing is really frustrating.  There’s a verse in the Bible that says that she who is forgiven much, loves much.  Dang it.  I have lived my life in the whitewashed area of the planet / country / city / family, and deep forgiveness is startlingly hard to grasp.  How prideful is that?  Just being honest here…please withhold judgment unless you are a deeply forgiven whitewashed something or other.

Yesterday morning, we went running (jogging / walking / whatever).  Doug and I weren’t talking about deep heart things, but he made a terribly insightful comment that went to my core.  “When someone lies, they are creating an alternate reality for the other person to live in.  So, the other person is living by the rules of a reality that is not true.”

Whoa.  Satan is the father of lies.  I’ve always tended to think of those lies as one-off, temptation-laden, whispery, “eat the apple” kind of lies.  As I considered Doug’s comment, I realized that Satan’s big scheme is creating whole, complete, big-time false realities for us to inhabit.  We’re not usually living in them thinking, “Oh, I know this is a lie, but it feels good, so I’ll continue.”  We’re in there thinking, “This is it.  This is the real deal.  I’ve got to go all out here because it’s the honest framework of life, and I’m here to live it.”  We’re stuck in a whole reality that is not true.  You know, The Matrix. He’s a liar.

Romans 2:14 says the kindness of God leads me to repentance. Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (At hand.  Right here.  Look up. Within the veil.)  It is precious to me to think that God’s kindness in Christ draws me into the light.  He brings me into Truth so that the framework of lies I’ve lived under is exposed as worthless and pointless.  He turns my heart toward His grace so that I can live on the other side of deception.  Live freely in the real Truth.  When His kindness leads me there, when I repent of believing a framework of lies, when He opens the door to a new way, through grace, then I find I am forgiven much.  Then I begin to love much. Then the gospel is His fountain in my heart.

Thank you, Lord, for your kindness that gives us hinds feet for the high places.  For showing us what’s real.  For altering our reality toward Truth.  For Your Jesus.

 

Orbiting the Fragile

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My first teaching job involved teaching 7th grade science.  Those poor kids!  I was 100% humanities trying to teach elementary physics.  When it came time to explain centripetal (centrifugal?…I don’t remember, honestly) force, I resorted to the salad spinner object lesson.  They had great fun swirling small objects inside my favorite kitchen tool. If you take the lid off in time, the detritus inside will fly all over the room. Yipee!

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Often, as I think about what it takes to be a mom, a wife, an employee, an American, a suburbanite, or a responsible member of the local pool, I feel like my sin looks like the salad spinner.  I am dizzily spinning around something that seems a lot like nothing, trusting that the constraints of life on the outside will hold me in my orbit.

Problem.  As Yeats lamented, “Things fall apart / The centre cannot hold.”

When I orbit in this way, there is eventual disintegration because the center is weak and the constraints are false.

Keller says that orbiting anything but God causes us to lose direction, to misunderstand our identity, and to experience isolation.  He says, “Spiritual darkness – turning away from God, the true light, and making anything more important than Him – leads invariably from disorientation to disintegration…We are all orbiting around something else.  And we’re all incapable of changing our orbit, because we inevitably, ultimately, seek to glorify ourselves instead of God.  So we are all on a trajectory toward a life of disintegration.” (King’s Cross, p. 205)

Sad.  Unless…

Unless Jesus.

When the gravitational pull of my idols becomes too weak or too strong; when things fall apart because the center has failed to hold; when the constraints fall away and I fly outward; then Jesus.

Those whiplash moments are His reminder to me that I am only safe, only held together, only home, and only in line with the Love and Laws of Heaven when I yield to Him.  When I acknowledge the brokenness of my gravitational toys and have faith in the power of His strong, centering grace, I am once again held together.  That center will always hold. Amen!

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in Him all tings were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)

“In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” – Edward Mote

Today, where is my center?

Goings on

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Highlights in Clarkston

As I mentioned in “Returning to Say Thank You,” we are beginning to see life and opportunity for more connection in Clarkston. 

A few points of update…

Our friend “G” is still looking for a job.  We have been able to use his help on some of the landscaping needs at the bungalow and in the subdivision, but we’d love leads for him or prayers for his work.  He is a very intelligent, very hard worker.

As of the end of this week, all three of the subdivision houses will have closed!  This is huge – it is an answer to so much prayer and so much faith on the part of the owners of the homes.  I’m so grateful to each family for waiting and praying and patiently overlooking our fumblings and for being willing to move into community there!

Our house building is creeping forward.  We wish for great leaps, but know God’s hand is in the small shuffles.  We are meeting with the city this week to try to answer some questions pertinent to us getting a permit.  Prayers are welcome!

We had a meeting at church last week, where two (and possibly three) families stepped forward to want to become friendship partners with newly arriving refugee families.  Yeah!  We are very excited for this next phase of church involvement and of building community that will facilitate transformational relationship.

We would like to have a work day in Clarkston on August 3rd.  You can pray that God will facilitate that process and give us creativity for what it can look like.

Some youth from church are supposed to be serving in an apartment community in Clarkston mid July.  Please pray that God will open doors for that to take place and to be meaningful.

That’s just about it for now…