The One with the Creepy Crawlies

This has been quite the morning. 

First, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. 
I had trouble falling asleep last night (which is a rare and extremely frustrating occurrence) and between that and the fact that this is my FAVORITE sleeping weather, the alarm got silenced many times. 

One of those times, however, I asked Kevin if he had gotten a sub job yet. 
So I said I was going back to sleep, but he could wake me up if he got a job.
As I closed my eyes again, I thought him say something, but I didn’t have the energy or the willpower to ask him if he had.
So back to sleep I went.
A few minutes later he came into the room and I said, “you got a job?!”
He replied, “Yeah! That job I was told you about before you went back to sleep. I got it right away and said so, but when you didn’t respond I figured you wanted to sleep.”
I appreciated his care.
I finally got out of my perfectly warm bed, 
made a cup of tea and a sandwich for my husband,
sent him off to work, and did some yoga.
I wanted to wait until it was light outside to go for a run.
As I waited, I sat on the couch to pull out my Bible.
I have said Bible along with other books in this adorable wicker basket next to the couch.
As I reached down for the Bible, I saw something black moving in the basket.
I said, “Holy Moly!”
I was really really hoping it was just a cricket.
T’hey still freak me out, but a spider the size of the blur I saw would just be atrocious. 
I ran and grabbed a pile of napkins and stacked them strategically in my hand. 
I pulled out the other books and saw that, sure enough, it was a MASSIVE spider.
Black. And Hairy. And HUGE.
At least 2 inches from leg to leg.
But his body was no “daddy long leg” teeny tiny body.
It was dime-sized.
I prepared myself, moved more books, and he ran.
I thought he had escaped but no, he was hidden in the adorable wicker weaving. 
So I moved a few more things and tried to shake the basket just enough to encourage him to come out without making a run for it.
He played right into my plan.
There he sat, right beside my adorable wicker basket and inches from disappearing under the couch. 
I was really wishing he were downstairs where I might be able to convince myself to ignore him.
But no.
He was in the central living space of my home, and I didn’t want him to be lurking around every corner. 
I got into position. 
My heart was beating out my chest. 
I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t want to feel that squish or hear the loud crunch. 
I also didn’t want to step on him and grind him into my lovely Berber carpet. 
So I zoned out and went for it. 
*deeeeeep breath*
I had done it. I had rid my home of the killer spider. 
After that I went outside for a run. 
As I walked down my driveway I noticed my neighbor’s car. 
IN my driveway. 
She’s my age, married, with a little boy, and I hope to get to know her better.
We’d talked before and she told me her window had fogged over and she freaked out. 
I said no problem.

She told me she was inspired by my running. 
I said I loved her outfit.

(Although anything would look better than my running shorts and sweatband. blech.)
I took off and up ahead there was a garbage truck stopping all of the work traffic.
Not cool, garbage men, not cool.
I kept running and soon found I had caught up and passed the line of vehicles. 
I felt a little awesome.
Back home, I jumped in the shower.
When I was done, I heard the answering machine beeping.
It was a lady interested in my elliptical.
Awesome! We’re going to make some money today.
I called her back and left her a message.
Gotta love phone tag. 
Then I found an email regarding piano lessons. 
Just last night I sent a message to all of our teens and parents and church families regarding the music studio my husband and I are working to start.
I taught piano last year–but only got 3 students.
The word of mouth thing takes a while when beginning.
Kevin now wants to teach piano, clarinet, saxophone, and bass guitar.
This could really be awesome. 
Pray this works out for us, will you?  And if you live near Southeast Michigan or know someone who would be interested in lesson, let me know!
In any case, I wanted to encourage some networking and word of mouth action, so that’s why I sent our endeavor info in an email to friends. 
One of those people forwarded my email to her coworkers and I already heard from someone. 

She probably won’t be able to start until later in October, but HEY I’ll wait. :) 
Maybe I’ll get her kids to take lessons too!

I think that brings us up to this moment. 
Now I’m off to bake cookies for our weekly Sunday bake sale and for young adult small group Saturday. 
I’m going to IKEA with Britt this afternoon, 
then doing a practice up-do for homecoming on one of my girls right before Bible quizzing this evening.
And what’s for dinner? 
Who knows!

The One with Frustration and Advice Needed

I keep getting a “server rejected” message when I’m trying to upload pictures. 
I am a teensy bit frustrated. 
A lot bit frustrated, actually. 
Any advice?
I don’t want to switch all my pictures to Picasa. 
Is anyone else experiencing this? 
Will it change? 
I’ve looked at message boards on this and done trouble shooting based on the discussions, but no luck. 

The One with Awesome Things that Happened this Weekend

::Visiting Megan–one of our teens turned college student–at our alma mater, Spring Arbor University
::Having our awesome friends help out with the Friday night youth event, 5th Quarter. Thanks, Britt & Nick, Ben, McKenzie, Ryan, Amanda & Josh! We couldn’t do it without you. 
::Doubling the attendance from the first ever to the second ever 5th Quarter. 
::Having flood lights set up for ultimate frisbee at 5th Quarter. We’re hard core about frisbee.
::Celebrating the 1st birthday of these three beautiful miracle babies
::Running into my awesome friend, Magan at that party. It was a great surprise. Also, it makes me feel old whenever I realize I wasn’t just in college yesterday. 
::Sitting around the camp fire in the perfectly fall air with Kevin’s family camping at Somerset Beach.
::Using my cat as a side table for my paperwork.
::Wearing a sweatshirt.
::Playing Dance Praise (Christian music DDR) with Britt and Amanda and the girls at 5th Quarter. 
::Having 3 brand new teens at youth group Sunday night as a result of 5th Quarter!! 
::Setting another Sunday Night Youth Group record–17 (and 3 regulars weren’t there). We had 22 including adults! (Three cheers for volunteers!!)
::Having one of our families donate an air hockey table! Now we just need a pool table and we’ve got the best table top games–ping pong, foosball, air hockey. 
::Being a part of another week of young adult small group and managing to stay awake way past my bedtime for the 2nd time that weekend.
::Watching one of our teen’s mom walk down the center aisle at church. She’s been wheelchair bound since she was 7. Spina Bifida. She had a risky surgery that saved her life a few months ago and since then she’s been in therapy and learning to WALK. Praise the Lord!!!

The One with the Energizing Roller Coaster

I can feel it. 
There is such momentum. 
We are finally seeing ripe fruit from our labor. 
What I mean is ministry is shockingly long and hard. 
I’ve always loved Jesus and prayed for my friends and made it know that I love Jesus.
But living and breathing the ministry of Jesus is something totally and completely different.

I have to be honest, though. 
I think this is the type of lifestyle Jesus always wanted me to live.

I’m just now beginning to realize it.
His work isn’t to be a part of my life.
He doesn’t call me to lukewarm, casual commitments.
Because that’s what Lukewarm Christians do–they give Jesus part of their lives.
And that sounds well and good.
But in reality that’s not what Jesus calls us to do.
He calls us to forsake all we know and love and hold even a hair above him. 
He calls us to pick up our cross daily–meaning this isn’t going to be easy. 
It’s not always going to be fun.
We’re not meant to live a life of predictability. 
We’re meant to follow Jesus whatever the cost no matter who thinks you’re insane for doing it. 
Wow, that was a rant I wasn’t intending. 
But good all the same.
What I started out saying is our youth group is really on the verge of something amazing. 
Boundaries are breaking down in hearts.
Barriers are falling down in schools. 
Parents and families are beginning to notice. 
These teenagers LOVE Jesus. 
And their leading worship. Teaching children’s church. Bible quizzing their brains out. 
And their commitment to youth group and all activities therein has quadrupled.
It’s no longer, “I’ll come if I have nothing else to do.”
It’s, “I’m definitely coming to everything spiritfire and if I have time for other things then that’s cool. But this is priority.”
And I must tell you.
It’s not us.
We couldn’t force teenagers to change their way of life.
Only God can do that.
We’re just loving the crap out of them and telling them all we know about Jesus and being as real of an example of Christ followers as we can. 
And it’s happening.
We started with 3. 
4 on a good night.
Then we were at 5-8 for quite some time.
That was exciting. 
They were dedicated.
This summer, we broke the 10 barrier. 
We held at 12 for a month or so. 
Now we’re pushing 20 every. single. Sunday. night.
And they’re bringing their friends.
This growth is not because we had kids “graduate” into the youth group.
We added one that way.
This is because local teens are coming. 
And getting involved. 
And bringing their friends. 
And having the time of their life.
And living rightly.
And learning to love Jesus. 
And we’re doing our best to hang on for the ride. 
It’s wild and insane and totally unpredictable, but THAT’S what Jesus has called us to do, and we’re loving every minute of it.
*takes a breath.*

The One with the Clearing Out

We are still doing our best to obediently follow the urgings of Jesus–
as He leads us into a life of simplicity and modesty and even more frugality. 
This lifestyle is to make way for HIM–
for His purposes in our life, 
that we might see Jesus in every person we encounter, 
and be deliberate about doing and giving and being all we can to those who need it. 
We are to be Love. 
Not just to be loving, but to be like Christ, to be holy as God is holy. 
And God is Love. 
We don’t have to figure out where to turn or which way to go next–
it’s already marked out for us. 
And we’re doing all we can to keep looking for the next marker. 
Right now that’s been clearing out our home of the excess. 
Selling a computer, my wedding dress, an entertainment center (anyone interested???)
Getting rid of knick knacks and clutter and clothing that’s just taking up space. 
Clearing out closets and restructuring. 
Cleaning cobwebs off of basement shelves to make room in our extra bedrooms for however God purposes them. 
We moved out of our little cubby hole and somehow found a perfect place for everything. 
We moved a lovely bed and dresser into that “guest suite” and made it comfortable. 
And now we wait and see how God wants to use it. 
I’m not going to decide that. 
I’m going to obediently wait on His next marker for our race. 
It may show up just as we think we’ve lost our way, but it WILL show up.

The One with Lazy Thoughts

My thoughts on this Sunday afternoon. 
God is so faithful. 
I love fall weather. always. 
Teaching a 2nd grader piano is such a joy. 
Seeing the front two pews at church filled with our teens for yet another Sunday was *amazing.*
Crockpots are miracle workers. 
Making real connections with potential Jesus lovers is SO important. 
Rummage sales are ridiculous. 
My basement is now full of canning jars. 
I guess I’ve committed to this gardening thing. 
It interesting how adults can be just as petty as teenagers.
I heart teenagers. 
The new seasons of my favorite shows are finally starting. 
I’m trying to understand football. 
I think I could enjoy it, but never for 4 hours. sheesh. 
Sometimes we purposely let bananas become overripe–just for the banana bread. 
I don’t know how we got here doing all of this. It’s way beyond my dreams and totally foreign to my plans. But it’s so much better

The One where We Let Go

Jesus has been working on my heart something fierce. 
I am no longer content. 
I am no longer content comfortably living out my version of the American Dream and planning for the 2.5 kids (figuratively speaking), white picket fence, soccer mom lifestyle. 
I am no longer content to focus on saving money to be financially secure in the future. 
I am no longer content to do youth ministry (and nothing else) and call it good. 
I am no longer content to sit in my beautiful home and do nothing besides spend my time making my life even more comfy and cozy. 
I have never felt so convicted. 
So moved to action. 
God is plucking me from my luxury and making me realize that so much of my life and my dreams for future have nothing NOTHING to do with eternity. 
And if my life today and my life 10 years from now is not functioning completely around the drive to make a different in the life after this one then there is no point to living. 
I was created FOR HIM. 
To do good works. 
To not merely listen to The Word and so deceive myself but to DO WHAT IT SAYS. 
To take care of widows and orphans in their distress. 
To give all I have to God (not just all I can give. all
To recognize my life for the vapor that it is, and to live my life in reckless abandon for Jesus. 
To not be ashamed of the Gospel. EVER. 
To view every stranger, every prisoner, every cashier, every driver, every beggar, every teenager as JESUS himself. 
And to take the very best care of those people as I possibly can–just as I would for Jesus. 
And Tuesday night, after praying and praying with my husband over all God has laid so heavily on our hearts, I decided not to delay. 
I couldn’t put off the change another day. 
There are people in need. 
And we have so much. 
Now is the time. 
There is no reason (other than purely selfish plans and hopes and dreams) to wait. 
And so, with Kevin off to wrangle high schoolers, I worked all day.
The room we call our office, our living area, our favorite spot–that room is no longer ours. 
It’s 100% God’s.
As is this entire home.
But that specific room has been called for a purpose. 
To offer refuge for those widows and orphans in their distress. 
Or for any other purpose God would see fit. 
So what if my style gets cramped. 
What does it matter if I don’t get as much sleep as before?
Or if I have to share my home with someone who does things differently?
Or if it’s never “just us” again?
My life is not my own. I was bought at a price. Therefore, I am going to honor God. 
Desks have been rearranged. 
A computer is being sold. 
Our focus is shifting. 
From our happiness, our enjoyment, 
to GOD’S purpose. 
And it’s big.
I can feel it. 

The One where the Teens Take Over

This past Sunday morning may be one of the most amazing worship experiences I have ever had.
And I’ve been in a LOT of church services throughout my life.
It was one of those times that make you say, “God is in this place.”
But then, I realize, God is always in this place.
It’s a matter of us acknowledging that and letting go enough to fully encounter Him.
The youth group was at the helm on Sunday.
Kevin and I along with our teens were fully in charge of every aspect of the service.
Announcements, slideshows, sermon, skits, special music, offertory, ushering, and worship.
(I use the term worship to describe the worship in song. Though I believe every aspect of a church service is to be worship.)
We planned and brainstormed for weeks in advance.
Thursday night we gathered together for 2 and a half hours of rehearsal.
And it paid off.
Not only did the service go by without a hitch–even more smoothly than I had hoped!–
but our teens truly led the congregation in worshipping our great God.
It wasn’t about the adults sitting in on a service meant for the teens.
It was a service that happened to be directed by the youth group.
And we heard feedback from the adults that our goal was accomplished.
Some said they were weeping,
they had never felt God’s presence quite like that before.
It was SO awesome.
We are extremely proud of our students and even more thankful for the honor of serving God in that way.
It was so powerful that it took me hours after the service to literally catch my breath. 
My husband preached a powerful sermon.
He didn’t beat around the bushes and I pray many were moved by God to action–
to not be a soldier of God who is in this for what he can out of it (do as little as possible and escape Hell.)
but to be a strong soldier who hangs on God’s every word, who loves Him, and proves it by living a life of bold obedience.
We were thrilled to report 122 in the service–more than we’ve ever had on a Sunday morning (even for holidays!)
Our teens’ families packed the pews, and then everyone stuck around for our awesome potluck dinner.
I’ve heard many comments about hoping to see another youth-led Sunday in the future.
And despite the insane amount of work that went into it :), we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Enjoy the photo journey:

a slide introducing our greeting time:
 Our skit–written by Kevin–based off of a Dare2Share skit.
This was hilarious–and a big hit with everyone!

:don’t mind Pastor Dale’s head. :D
:take a bow:
:leading in worship:
Your Grace is Enough.
Mighty to Save.
Revelation Song. 
Hosanna (by Hillsong)

and a great fundraiser plug:  
enjoying the potluck! 
::(most of) Our Awesome Youth group::

The One with the 5th Quarter

Where was I??
Oh yes…Friday night. 
Friday was spent preparing for the first ever 5th Quarter. 
This is brand new event to our youth group–and totally unprecedented at our church. 
The teens were stoked. 
We were hopeful.
The purpose of the 5th Quarter is not to fool you into believing the football game has run into some sort of illegal overtime.
It’s a pun. Play on words of some sort. 
And I stole it from the youth group I spent my teen years with. 
The idea is to open our home–aka the SpiritFire youth room–to all the teens after a home football game. 
This gives them a place to keep the fun going, 
but it’s safe and it exposes them to the youth group environment. 
Stealth evangelism. 
(awesome invitations created by my awesome friends Sara at Less Ordinary Designs.) 
We had a full snack bar–
complete with pop, bottled water, Airheads, Airhead Extremes (man are those things popular!), bags of chips, Taco Bell Tacos, and all the best candy bars. 
The game system was hooked up to the projector for a HUGE screen affect. 
Teens had free reign of our massive number of games and movies. 
There was also a bonfire going on outside and the irreplaceable game of Ultimate Frisbee. 
Our youth group isn’t quite complete without it. 
Though the numbers weren’t quite as high as expected, we felt it was a successful first night. 
Four young adults helped out–which we are SO thankful for.
Having extra eyes and ears–as well as role models–is so essential. 
The students who were BRAND new to our group seemed to have a great time. 
I talked to one of their moms for quite a while and she was thrilled.
She felt like this was an answer to prayer. 
They have been wanting a church with a solid youth program and they’re thinking they may have found it.
*contains squeals of excitement*
I quickly invited them to our SpiritFire Student Led Sunday Service–the perfect first Sunday to visit–I hope they make it!