Houseguests Galore

Dear Child of Mine,

You’re seriously missing out on the all the fun! For the past week our house has looked a bit more like a Bed and Breakfast (and Lunch and Dinner). We are so thankful that our New York friends took us seriously when we invited them to visit us in Michigan. It feels like the proof of true friendship to have hosted so many families in just the first two months since moving. We love having this home with plenty of space to accommodate visitors. I adore my large kitchen and those barstools where people always congregate. We’ve had bonfires and taken numerous field trips to Independent Dairy and played in the park and shopped at Goodwill. And it’s felt just right.

Bible Quizzers July 3-4: Thoms (Tara/Catherine/Jacob/Sarah), Allens (Pam/Trinity), Bannisters (Emily/Jayne), plus Calandra and Zach.

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Symons August 15-17: Tod and Anna and their three kids – Charlotte, Henry, and Amelia

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LeBarons August 19-21: Sheryl and the kids – Ashlyn, Brendan, Madison, and Jillian

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Rivers August 23-24: Tom and Marsha (they arrive this evening!)

Here’s some more sweet memories of our time together -

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2014-08-16 10.50.54 2014-08-16 12.07.59

2014-08-15 20.42.49 2014-08-16 11.36.26 2014-08-16 12.08.34

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2014-08-19 18.39.45 2014-08-19 17.34.01

MORE GUESTS!
My parents visited over Fourth of July weekend and Kevin’s brother spent a few nights with him while I was at camp. Our dear Ohio friends, the Lacys (Matt/Elizabeth/Owen), are coming in September! We plan to have the Eccles over soon, and hopefully host a family holiday in the near future. We love being loved with this time together and we hope YOU join the fun soon, Dear Child.

Settling In

Dear Child of Mine,

As previously mentioned, we’ve moved homes 5 times in 6 years of marriage. For this “home body” type, that is far too many times. Even though, by some stroke of God, we’ve ended up back in the same house we lived in before, we’re different and it feels different. Our mentality has changed. “This is our home. Let’s settle in and make it our own and care for it with hard work and dedication.”

Your dad has been working on removing the overgrown plants and weeds from around the house  and he’s making great progress on clearing the cement pad we’ve claimed for our patio/fire pit. I’ve cleaned crevices I only ever wanted to ignore and mopped the kitchen floor more times than I can count. (In two months of living here, the mopping must number at least 8 or 10 times…a record for me, given that mopping used to be lowest on my chore priority list.) Having a wonderful washer and dryer on the first floor, connected to our bedroom, is housekeeping heaven. No more laborious trips to the laundromat – I am so thankful.

And last week we finally began the daunting task of repainting. We’ve only completed one room, but given the continual stream of overnight guests, I think that’s forgivable. Painting makes a BIG statement of our intention: we plan to be here a while. I’ve never painted any other home we lived in because I always had this gut feeling of, “What’s the point? We won’t be here long enough to enjoy it.” So yeah, painting is pretty symbolic.

Originally, I wanted everysingleroom in the house repainted in the first week we moved in. I quickly realized that was completely unrealistic. But I refused to allow the faded wall colors and the wallpaper borders become routine and ignored – like that pile of papers on the desk that’s been there for five weeks. When I learned that a local hardware store was liquidating its products at 60-80% off, I headed over right away. I purchased 4 gallons of Dutch Boy paint-primer-in-one, each for around $11 (compared to the $35 retail price). Score! Color selections were limited because of the store closing, but after about an hour of deliberating, I finally made up my mind. (God bless the patience of the paint department employee.)

That very night I started edging and fell in the love with the color for the living room. I was so thankful for Kevin’s participation in the process. He diligently scraped the wallpaper border as I followed him with the paint. I hate wallpaper, he hates painting and neither of us was stoked about the project. But each afternoon Tuesday through Thursday we can home and worked for about 2 hours. Being together and listening to episodes of The West Wing on Netflix made the process much more enjoyable. Thanks, husband! Now we must move on to the dining room and kitchen…yay?) Looking forward to just being done. I surely love the finished product.

BEFORE (cream/neutral walls, window treatments, floors):
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AFTER (Mossy Log on right/unseen wall, Loggia on front/left wall):
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Love your neighbor

Sometimes, I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. This morning, I was feeling a bit off because there’s military action in Israel, Christians in the Middle East being persecuted and kicked out of their homes, police forces firing on citizens over racial issues in the South, and then a prominent worship leader came out as gay this morning.

What are we supposed to do with all this? What is the response God would ask of us when we see others dying? When nation attacks nation, what is a Christian to do? When people are being forcibly removed from their homes, what do we say? When someone comes out and says that they believe homosexuality to be right and we believe differently, how do we respond?

In trying to deal with these things, I have to admit one thing: My conscience and understanding of God does not rule others. My personal beliefs do not dictate morality, God does. While I would see all wars stopped and all people fed, clothed, and with sufficient shelter…I have no right to tell others what they must do to satisfy my conscience. I can only point to God who judges our hearts.

It would be easy and simple for me to stand and proclaim that war and homosexuality must end. It would be gratifying to assume authority over others and make them follow my convictions. But it would do violence to their spiritual growth. It wouldn’t be right.

Even as a pastor, my job is not to govern behavior. My job is not to tell others what they can and cannot do. My job is to lead them to God, do what I believe to be right, live as Christ lived, and teach them to love their neighbor. I must believe that the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts leads us into all truth, and He is powerful enough to do so even if I do nothing.

So when I’m confronted with people who say that police have the right to shoot civilians to keep the peace, or when I hear of someone who proclaims right what I believe to be wrong, my response should not be to prepare salvos of admonition, pontification, or condemnation.

My response should be contemplation, introspection, and intercession.

What I want my children to understand is this: I want you to understand that God commands us to love others. God does not guarantee that we will never be wrong, or that others will never be wrong. If we claim to love God, we will love our brothers and sisters. I believe that means that we love those in the church and without the church.

Do I believe practicing homosexuality to be a sin? Yes I do. But when I meet someone who disagrees, I don’t want to bring them arguments and accusations. I’d rather bring them love, prayer, and Melanie’s homemade cookies.

Running Rhythm

Dear Little One,

I have a confession to make – after 5 weeks of not being able to run due to an ankle injury, I finally just entered into an honest place of grieving. This may sound totally ridiculous. Why would anyone be sad that they’re missing their runs? But for for me running is a part of my life’s rhythm, the breath of my days. I love to run. And it comes naturally to me which reminds me what a grace it is. It’s as if God is saying

Here, Child. I know you need this. I’m going to give this time and this body and this ability. Use them well. 

Ten years ago if you would have told me I’d be calling myself a “runner,” I never would have believed you. I always classified myself as un-athletic. Looking back I realize how unfair I was being to myself. I had developed this misconception of my body as chubby and uncoordinated, and I became the girl who just wanted to stay out of the way when it came to sports. But had I known I could run, then maybe I would have been brave enough to join the cross country team. (That’s one of my few high school regrets.)

Despite the lackluster entrance into the world of running, I have come to rely on this ability. Not only is running a good workout, but it’s therapeutic. My mind starts going stir crazy when I haven’t spent some time pavement-pounding. Running refreshes my soul, connecting me to my own breath and thus the Holy Breath – the Spirit of God. I don’t need music or the chatter of a podcast, the company of a friend or even a conscious prayer. The rhythm sweeps me into a space of refreshment that soothes my deepest angst all while straining my physical body to the limit.

And I finally cried about it on Monday. The devastation sunk is as I was trying to explain to your dad how taking time off for my ankle means I’m someone who’s not getting to do what they love, what they’re good it, and what’s become an integrated part of their schedule...for well over a month. It’s a loss of sorts.

Child, I tell you all this because I want you to know a few things about me. I want you to know that running is a beautiful part of my life, and I can’t wait to use that jogging stroller I found at a yard sale 4 years ago. I want you to know that running is a talent given to me by God, and I often struggle to use it with humility. I want you to know that I might need to leave you at home with your dad because I just really need to go for a run. I hope you’ll understand.

And in the meantime, I’m praying in earnest for complete healing of my ankle and restoration of my strength. I’m praying for God to be near in my time of withdrawal, endowing me with the grace to wait.

Resting and doing lots of Holy Yoga,

Mama