Saturday, July 19, 2008

Block Party

This is a short post, but I wanted to give anyone interested the link to the newspaper story about the block party our church throws each year. Leslie Draper came up with the idea and this is our third year putting it on. Pat is in charge of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and I run the cake walk. The article isn't bad for our local paper...though...why the talk about mowing lawns? What does that have to do with...?

Schaivon and CC, who are quoted, are two of "our kids" from a previous post with Israel. We're proud of them. There are also pictures of the party if you follow the link on the right side of the article page under the main picture. Maybe I'll get a couple of my own on here in the next few days. We'll see.

What I love most about the article is finding out what our neighbors think about the party. For some reason, it's amazing to me that it seems to be serving its intended purpose: to bring out the assets of our community and bring people of all backgrounds together to have an evening of good, clean fun. It honestly made me tear up to see that people are proud of our community. I don't know the other people in the article, but they have noticed our church's work and that goes a long way for me.

go read the news article

Thursday, July 17, 2008

unlikely ceremony

Today Israel and I went to Jacob's funeral. I sat there, watching this beautiful couple go through such a hard time and dwelt on the fact that nothing is certain in life. We serve a God who offers us no guarantees as to our life's circumstances. I have one friend who is having a particularly tough time with this, as she knows both families who lost infants this summer as well.

I have been thinking about a response to this time. When my friend told me what a hard time this brought on between her and God, I didn't really know what to say. I feel like I thought a lot about the problem of evil in college and went through my time of disbelief then. I told her I tend to just trust that I've already been through the questions. It takes a lot of emotional and intellectual energy to wrestle through such an issue, and I don't have the energy to do that again in life. I know the end result of my time of questioning was that I decided to trust God. But that answer just doesn't quite satisfy even me. After all, isn't that like putting faith in my own past questioning? That surely must be shaky ground.

I decided to think it through a little bit and reminded myself that there are three options: Good God, Bad God, or No God. Either God exists or He doesn't and if He does, He is either good or He is not. The problem(s) of evil notwithstanding, the world makes a ton more sense with God in it than not. And if there is a God, what is there to do besides trust him? We are helpless against him and totally at His mercy. Not yielding to an all-powerful Creator is, at best, not smart. There. I knew I had already thought this through.

But that's not a good response to someone in the middle of questioning. Perhaps it's correct, but it comes off a bit cold and calculated.

At the funeral, I stood beside my friend as we sang songs of worship to God -- songs about how God is good, no matter what, and how we are willing to go through tough times if only to know Him better. And I remembered that this relationship I have with God is just that: a relationship. At some point, I made a decision that I was going to trust God, no matter what. It was a bit like my wedding day: promising to do and be certain big things in the face of an unknowable future. On some level, you have no idea what you're really getting into, but you promise to believe the best about the other person and to fight for your relationship above all other human relationships. And a relationship with God is like a marriage, but the believing-the-best part is made more complicated by the fact that God has ultimate authority and is not ever wrong. If you find yourself disagreeing with Him, then, have some tough decisions to make. Either you can wrestle it through with Him, leave Him, or just trust Him despite your own judgment of the situation. This time, I think I'll take that final option. It's scary, since I know full well that there is nothing about me preventing some similar tragedy from coming my way. But I see how God loves people in the midst of this and that helps. It still doesn't make sense to me that these things happen when God is in control, especially as I found myself saying in the conversation with my friend that continues in my head, "When God takes charge of everything, He has said he will take away all of this sort of thing." But God IS in control now. And why doesn't that piece of heaven push its way into this crummy world? There is no good answer for that. But I look at Jesus, who, having all power, submitted himself to the pain and sorrows of this place and I know that I am to submit myself to whatever comes my way as well. I am to follow Jesus and trust that God knows what He's doing, no matter what happens in my life.

In that way, the funeral was a sort of renewal of my vows.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

We all (including the animals) went to Kentucky for the fourth of July. It was a crazy long weekend, so here's an appropriately crazy long post!

There are no pictures of the fireworks, because we watched them from inside our car in the rain. Israel was able to sleep in the back seat through the whole thing, so we were actually able to enjoy the show, which was a pleasant surprise. Our favorite firework: the kind that shoots up in a thick line, bursts into a rather sparse globe, and then each flame shoots into several smaller ones. We also like the ones that shoot out from the center in straight lines and then veer off in random directions.

We had intended to go on our first real camping trip with Israel the next day, but it was SO humid, and all the wood for fire-making was wet from a downpour earlier in the day and there were attacking bugs that ate us, even though we were wearing bug spray.... So after setting up our tent, we went on a nice hike in Red River Gorge and then took down the tent and drove back to my parents' house. But we got a few good pictures out of it anyway.

Our hike started out at the top of a ridge and went down, down, down. This is the "magical fern place" along the way. (Mange, this is the hike we went on together.)

At the bottom of the descent, we all got our toes wet to cool off.

Israel LOVED the water.

Brandon (my brother) and Corey (his friend) loved the water, too.

Conclusion: Israel LOVES nature! We are so glad our little guy can enjoy the great outdoors with us.

Israel was on top of the world after an evening full of adventure.

The next day, Israel suddenly got sick with a fever. It was sad, because his great-aunt and uncle and his great-grandma (Nana) were up to visit. He let them comfort him for awhile and, if he felt a little better, I'm sure he would have said it was good to see them, but he wasn't much for talking that day.
Israel with Nana

Nana, Uncle Doug, Israel, Mom ("Granna" to Israel) and Aunt Shirley.

In other news, Israel is growing like crazy! He communicates quite a bit now. He can wave and say, "Bye, bye" and "dog," and he points and babbles at everything. (Still waiting for "mom" and "dad.") He claps when you cheer and also when he wants everyone in a room to pay attention to him. His laugh is infectious and he will laugh at all kinds of things. He's such a fun little guy to be around!

Friday, July 11, 2008

beyond understanding

Yet another tragedy happened yesterday: another friend gave birth to a baby who died. His name was Jacob and he lived for a day. His parents go to Muncie Alliance and I taught a Bible study at a youth center with his mom for a couple years around the time Pat and I were married. Kira (the mom) is about my age and she and Scott already have a 15 month old son named Brody. How does this happen to two different people I know in one summer? I don't know. From what it seems on their blog, God is giving this couple peace and is bringing good from this tragedy as Jacob's heart is being used to save other babies' lives. The Bible talks about "peace that passes understanding." It surely does, because none of us understand.

If you're interested, their blog is: