"... we are always harking back to some occasion which seemed to us to reach perfection, setting that up as a norm, and depreciating all other occasions by comparison. But these other occasions, I now suspect, are often full of their own new blessing, if only we would lay ourselves open to it. " (C. S. Lewis)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

~ An Open Letter to My Church Family

On this, the eve of our last Sunday with you, I am compelled to write down some of my thoughts. Last night was a wonderful night of celebration with our church leaders, staff and spouses as approximately 60 of us gathered to remember and look forward. Ken and I were blown away by the beauty of the night and the outpouring of love from so many of you. We shared stories and we laughed (mostly at Ken's expense), and every time I tried to say something, I cried. So I decided this might be an easier way to say what's on my heart. (You won't see the tears but you'll hear my heart!) I could write books with all the things I want to say to you, but I will try to be brief. Here goes!

You probably know this story. Thirty-two years ago (1985), this young girl looked into his blue eyes on our first date and said rather passionately and confidently, "I'm pretty sure God is calling me to be a pastor's wife." That young man boldly replied, "Good! Then we can go ahead and date and have fun, because I am never going to be a pastor." Ten years later, you called him to be your Associate Pastor, and this young, confident young girl was not so sure she was ready for that!

Here's part of the story you may not know. Before his first day on the job, we were told eight families left the church before they even met him because he had a background in psychology and counseling. And then, in his first few weeks on staff, he came home, and I could tell something was bothering him. Someone had left a little "bomb" on his desk. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. It was just a few words scribbled down, but they were enough to blow up any illusions I had of what ministry might be like. The words were so hurtful, I have never repeated them to anyone. So began my introduction to career ministry.

In those first few weeks, I remember thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?" I knew right then I couldn't do this thing on my own. I knew I would need thicker skin and a greater capacity to love. I asked God to give me His love for you when mine wasn't enough. He answered that prayer over and over through the years and somewhere along the way, I learned this lesson: when you understand how much you have been loved, you want to love much. And when you truly understand how much you have been forgiven, you want to forgive much! 

In twenty-one years of ministry, you see a lot of people come and go. God gives, and He takes away. There is grieving and celebration. We have loved and lost many. To you who call Community Church home, you are our family. On behalf of our family, I would like to thank you for a few things. 

First, thank you for being a place and a people of grace. This has been our first and only ministry experience. We have grown much in these 21 years. You have allowed us to be exactly who we are, never expecting us to be anyone else. You have allowed our kids to be kids and have not expected them to be perfect or anything other than what and who they are. You have accepted us, weaknesses and all. You have believed the best, given second chances, and extended forgiveness when we messed up. You have extended loyalty to us, and in a day where people make vows and don't keep them or stick around only as long as something is beneficial to them, loyalty is a rare gift. You have allowed us to grow in the areas where God has gifted us. You trusted our leadership. You gave me a platform to do what I believe I was created to do. I will never forget being on stage and seeing your hands in the air and your hearts engaged in worship. It is my favorite place to be. You have understood that there were seasons when I needed to just be mom and wife, and times when family demands made Ken less available. (I want you to know that it was my joy to share him with you!) You have taught us much about grace!

Second, thank you for your generosity. I think one of my doubts when Ken decided it was time to use his gifts in full-time ministry was a hesitation to give up the security of a successful counseling practice. I can honestly say I have never doubted our decision one day since then. God has provided every single thing we have needed and has lavished us with good things. He has used your generosity time after time as His provision for us. Through two adoptions, surviving twins, and having an unexpected little bundle so late in life, you were the hands and feet of Jesus to us. You filled our shelves with everything we needed and gave of your time so unselfishly. Over the years, you lavished us with many good things, and we are grateful for every card, gift, trip, meal, etc... And I want you to know, as we were able, we shared with our children that the meal they were eating or the place they were staying or the gifts they were enjoying were because of your generosity - because you followed God's leading! You taught us and our children what it means to live with open hands! We know without a shadow of a doubt - where God guides, He provides.

Finally, thank you for your faithfulness to the vision for which God called us and knitted us together. It was in the church's DNA before we got here and will be long after we are gone. We will never forget going out into the community with you for The Church Has Left the Building, showing Fond du Lac the love of Christ. How could I ever forget Living Rooms. It was audacious of me to stand before you and say, "I only need 250 volunteers",  but you stepped up and we stepped into the community again to share the hope of Christ with a hurting world! Thank you for helping us fall in love with the people of Fond du Lac, Romania, Senegal, Haiti, the Bahamas, and so many places around the world. Thank you for keeping the vision clear - to become a movement of disciples radically committed to loving others for the glory of God. Ken and I believe that your best days are ahead, and in all of them, God will be glorified. It has been our pleasure to serve alongside you these 21 years. You will always be in our hearts and welcome in our home!

All my love,


Thursday, October 8, 2015

~ Home

My husband is traveling down south with my boys. 

He's been sending me pictures of places that were special to us as children, 

special to our families,

special to us as we were falling in love.

And quite frankly, I don't like it. 

It makes me homesick.

It's a familiar pattern for me.

I start missing my parents and my siblings and their awesome kids.

I start thinking about all the friends and family so far away.

I start thinking about all the holidays and birthdays and football games and baptisms and celebrations we've missed.

I start longing for those gorgeous mountains.

Today he sends me these pictures!

Now all I can think about is how beautiful that spot will be in a few weeks when it is painted with the colors of autumn.

Knowing I probably won't be seeing those mountains anytime soon, I decided to do what I always do when I get homesick.

I grabbed my camera and a thermos of coffee (o.k., actually it was creamer with a little coffee), and I took off in my car to remind myself why I'm happy right where God put me!

I might not have mountains anymore, but there's something quite special about this place I call home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Senior Photo Shoot #1

My son is a senior this year, and I've been waiting for this moment since he turned three and decided he never wanted to wear a sweater - ever again! We packed what seemed like a closet in the trunk of my car. Armed with cameras and tripods and props (and even some ham sandwiches), we headed out for some fun. It was about 65 degrees today in Wisconsin. We kept having to turn the heater on to warm our toes. This is just a sneak peak at some of my favorites!

I was a little hesitant to do his photos since boys can be a little...how shall I say this... stubborn and set in their ways! So we made an agreement:

No sport clothes (yet),

Obey everything the photographer suggests,

And no whining about any of it.

I know boys have short attention spans (unless it involves food, girls, or video games), so I decided we could spend several months doing short little shoots. 

This shoot involved a cemetery near our house, 

some vintage trucks nearby, 

a cement factory (I think), 

a quarry, 

a railroad track,

and some great locations in our little downtown. 

It only took us two hours, and he was a little giggly by the end, but he did a great job. (Thanks to our little helper, Olivia!) With promises of food at home, he cooperated until the very end. 

The best thing about shooting your own child's photos is waiting for that perfect moment when you see the child of your heart!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All You Really Have to do is Love One

Our C.C.P.D. wives (that's Pastor/Director wives, not Police Dept. wives) try to get together once a month to pray for our spouses, children, church and each other. Sometimes, ministry is hard, and we need each other! Sometimes kids are hard, and we need each other. Sometimes husbands are hard, and we need each other! (Just kidding, honey!)

Left to right: Martha (Worship Arts Director's wife), Kristi (Adult Ministries Pastor's wife), Me (Senior Pastor's wife), Leslie (Student Ministries Director's wife), and one of our PW's is missing in this photo, Lisa, (Satellite Pastor's wife). 

When our Worship Arts Director and his wife decided to take Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 seriously by adopting a little girl from China, we walked together through the process, praying for God's provision and favor over our dear friends. God worked miracles, and their little girl is coming home. We decided to shower them with love as they prepared to go get their little girl. We invited the church staff and their families and all the families of volunteers in our Worship Arts Ministry. (Sometimes ministry is just plain fun!)

We decided to go with an Asian inspired theme (of course). We used Chinese parasols and fans, paper lanterns, origami cranes, and, in lieu of the more Asian cherry blossom branches, we used crab apple branches. 

You can find silly phrases here.

Under each plate, we had a card with random facts about China to help familiarize them with their daughter's country. (Many of the facts were silly - like where fortune cookies actually come from and how many chop sticks they use in China every year.) We also had a card with silly made-up Chinese phrases called "Don't Try This in China". 

My son and his girlfriend folded 20-30 paper cranes to hang on the branches and sit on the tables. The little candies on the table are plum candy, (We get them at a nearby Asian Market.) and the little cups held a Wasabi snack mix. 

You can get candy here.

It was too soon to have blooming branches here in Wisconsin. So two weeks before the shower, I cut branches off my crab apple tree. I gave them a fresh cut and plunged them in very hot water. Within 10-12 days, I had blooms! 

Our Children's Director began with a devotional about faith. 

To help our friends prepare for the change in eating habits in China, we had them compete in a Chinese Take-Out Relay Race. They had to use chopsticks to pick up Swedish Fish, rice paddles to carry cotton balls, and wooden soup spoons to carry Easter eggs. 

Mom's team won!

Prizes were a bucket of girly outside toys (so the neighbors will know a little girl has arrived) and a bucket of girly Legos.

My hubby cooking Mandarin Chicken-on-a-stick.

For our menu, we decided none of us were capable of authentic Chinese food, so we went for an "Asian inspired" buffet. 

These Turkey Tortilla Roll-ups from Pioneer Woman are definitely not Asian, but we thought they looked like sushi rolls. They were a big hit!

Recipe here

This Chopped Asian Chicken Salad was my favorite dish. It was so colorful and very flavorful. The Ginger Marmalade Dressing was amazing! We decided not to serve it in cucumber rolls like the recipe, but instead, offered it as a lettuce wrap.

Recipe here

Our friend, Michelle, made the beautiful cake. The fan, crane and flowers were all made of fondant, as was the Chinese symbol for Faith. The little rolled cookies to the right of the cake are Korean Ginger Crackers. They taste like ginger flavored fortune cookies with gingered sugar on the outside. YUM!

For beverages, we served a sparkling raspberry lemonade and southern fruit tea. What can I say? As a southern girl at heart, it's just not a party without fruit tea!

Fortune cookies from World Market. Recipe for drinks here & here.

Before we let them open presents, we gave them one more chance to practice their Chinese. We played Charades. We had two categories. Because we had men at the shower, we included famous "Movie Quotes" by male actors. The second category was "Useful Phrases" for their trip to China. Everyone had to read the phrase in Chinese (pretty hilarious) and then act it out. We had a great time!

It was a great day of celebration! 

No one person can care for all the orphans in the world. But if everybody would just "Love One", the world would be a better place. And more people would know the amazing joy that comes when love decides to cross an ocean to obey God's Word!

Congrats friends! Can't wait to meet Faith!