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Thanks for your prayers. The meeting last week was fantastic! I received the acceptance packet from the school on Friday. I am impressed by their care and concern for each of my children and their educational success.

The elder three will attend class three days per week while Matt will only attend two days. That means I’ll have him all to myself on Mondays. I’m already looking forward to those days together. And I can already feel some of the weight lifted from my shoulders as well. Katie will be in full bore college selection mode next year. That would have all fallen on me. Now she’ll have expert assistance guiding her through the process. Yes!

I know the children are nervous about the new situation but I also know they’ll adjust and thrive. I’ve talked to them about how we’ve all had to deal with tremendous change the past two years. I’ve explained that this schooling change is different than what we’ve been used to, but that on the grand scale of change they’ve experienced, this is on the lower end.

Now pray for diligence as we press through to finish this year’s lessons by late-June before we head to California for a family camp at Mt Hermon.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…Its a way of life!

The Interview

I heard from the school and my interview with the leadership team there to discuss how the children and our family fit (or not) will be this coming Tuesday morning at 8:15AM. I am relieved to have the meeting scheduled and am now looking forward to it. Please continue to lift up the entire application process and for continued understanding and grace.

Educational Change

“Well, one good thing about a Christian school is that the kids can’t have a potty mouth.” said Luke reassuringly. “…or they get kicked out.”

Matt pondered that statement and then produced this gem, “Well then I’m just going to say a bad word so they’ll send me home!”

“Nice.” I responded. “You’re not even enrolled. This is just a placement test to see where you might fit.”

Today was tough. The placement test proved to be more a gauntlet of emotions to navigate rather than a knowledge challenge. I think we all cried at some point during the day.

I have no idea how they performed, I just know it was stressful on them all and that pulled on my heart. Yet, this feels like the right direction to go. I’ve been exploring this school for a couple of months now and have received a green light at every turn. Today was the next step in the application process. Now I’m waiting for a call from the school to set up an interview to go over the tests. Its my turn for a knot in my gut.

But that means I want this to work out. It is a 2 or 3 day per week program (depending on the grade) and the rest of the lessons are completed at home. Plus we can still be involved in our homeschool co-op. Could I ask for anything better?

Pray for grace…From the school, from the children and for our family. I think this is an environment where they could all really blossom and continue to excel. Its obviously a huge change for us. But its one we need to make.

Mission Accomplished

“To be honest, I’m not really ready to come home.” quipped Katie as I picked her and my parents up Saturday night. “I was just getting to know the students and staff and it was hard to leave.”

I’m sure it was. She witnessed several students and staff receive a healing touch from Father God through prayer, participated in multi-lingual worship, provided international babysitting, whipped up and served late night pancakes (twice) for the staff and students, and survived several Romanian cab rides, just to name a few highlights of the week!

I’m thankful to have Katie home, but more grateful still that she was able to meet and interact with an international cast of believers from Romania, Switzerland, Finland and The Netherlands. While my dad provided the primary teaching at the school for the week, Katie was in a support role, soaking up the Spirit and serving as needed.

I think maybe she realized that people are the best gift you get when traveling for mission work (or any travel). Its not the scenery or the adventure…the mission is the people. To connect with them is crucial if any ministry is to take place. And connect she did. I’m proud of her.

You go girl!

Mission Cluj

Katie and my parents are safely in Cluj, Romania for a week of teaching and ministry at the YWAM base there. You may remember that my dad and I made the same trip back in March 2012, right before Kristi was diagnosed. You can find a video and brief story about that trip by looking at this post from June of that year.

Please pray for all three of them this next week as they bless those around them with the love of Jesus. Pray that they would hear and respond to the leading of their Heavenly Father.

My dad is once again teaching on healing and the foundations of spiritual warfare. Pray for open hearts, open minds and an open atmosphere in which to minister.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed….Its what Jesus prayed.

Choose Yourself

You’ve been picked! You are chosen. The question is, will you choose back?

God, through Jesus, has chosen you. Awesome, right!? But here’s the catch so many miss. He’s waiting for you to choose back. Not just to choose him…that’s the message we hear all the time from the pulpit… but to choose yourself too. We love to say, “Yes, I choose God! Now He’s in control! I’m off the hook.” Its a “whatever happens now is God’s will for my life” outlook. Nice. You just embraced fate.

Your Father isn’t looking for fatalists. According to Jesus he’s looking for friends. Fatalists are a drag, constantly offloading responsibility. Friends walk side by side, sharing the load. Friends are mutually engaged in the relationship. But to genuinely and authentically engage another, you must first engage yourself. Choose to feel, choose to be open and vulnerable. Choose to commit. Choose to trust. After all, you can’t follow the command to love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself.

Kristi and I were friends. I think that’s what I miss most. One year ago today, her cancer showed up again after its brief hiatus. All the surgeries, the chemo, and the radiation had failed…utterly. It was a scary day. We started out the door that morning for her bone density scan when we got the call that her brain MRI was positive for a tumor. Stunned by the news we quickly changed plans and went to my parent’s place to process and pray. While there Kristi had a debilitating pain attack/seizure that demanded a 911 response and ambulance transfer to the ER. As I followed the ambulance on the freeway, tears soaked my shirt while I sobbed/screamed out “NO!” until I was hoarse.

I just looked back at my post that day. It was quite sedate compared to the emotions surging through me. I was frightened, I was hurting for my wife, and concerned about my children. I was angry too. But the crisis demanded focus to deal with the unfolding events. We got the worst possible diagnosis. It was nip and tuck as to whether she’d even pull through the first two or three days. I wept in the arms of friends and family as the process of losing my wife began.

After that she couldn’t choose herself anymore, relationally anyway. I understood. Her focus was on basic physical tasks. As she regressed from mobile adult to requiring infant level care over the next three and a half months, it was that loss of a friend that hurt most. That loss of intimate confidant. The loss of one who vested her full trust in me and I in her.

I’ll be honest, I still miss that today. I think that’s natural. But it left a big void. One that I’m just now starting to fathom in its entirety. And the thought of choosing myself again? Intimidating. Trusting a broken heart is like standing on a broken leg. The pain shoots out, the leg collapses involuntarily and down you go. Yet, making that choice is the only way forward. If I don’t choose myself, I can’t fully engage with my Father. Healing is there in that relationship. Hope and restoration are too. Those have all felt distant recently. Some nearness would be golden right about now.

So I’ll continue to do the heavy lifting of choosing me. Of being present and honest to not only my Heavenly Father but to myself. Choosing yourself means no hiding…especially from yourself.

The apostle John said “God is love.” His compatriot Paul said “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…Love never fails.” That means that as I choose myself and Him, that he’ll bear me up when my strength falters, believe in me even when I don’t, impart hope when mine wanes and stand with me through all the hurt. He won’t fail me.

Kind of sounds like wedding vows doesn’t it? Hmm, maybe that’s why He instituted marriage! But that’s another topic for another day.

Will you choose yourself? If it feels too vulnerable or exposed, I get it. It feels like too much responsibility. But that’s life as a lover. Vulnerable, exposed and responsible.

God has made his choice. What’s yours going to be? Will you choose you? Choose love, choose life.

PS- If you hurt too much right now to be open and vulnerable, that’s ok. Start there. Choose yourself by simply sharing with Him how much you hurt. He’ll take that as a starting point. His specialty is restoring brokenness and healing the hurt. He’s dying to lead you out of that place… I for one am glad to be on that path!

Go for the Gold?

Mikaela Shiffrin capped a stellar year by winning the women’s slalom at the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia yesterday. Already the reigning World Cup and World Champion in the event she added Olympic gold to her collection. Her star is going nowhere but up in the alpine skiing community. Everyone expects her to continue on her rising path, and barring injury, she could become a star in other events as well. There’s a good article on the young lady¬†here.

But what if she made a different choice? What if she said, “You know what, I’ve hit the pinnacle of slalom skiing. Its been amazing! I’m still young, healthy and my life is ahead of me. I want to give back by becoming a teacher and coach.” She certainly has the credentials to do that. Any ski academy would love to have her. I wonder how the press would react. Social Media? I honestly don’t know. It would shock a lot of folks. Someone willingly laying aside the adulation of thousands, a career and endorsement deals and seeking to lift others up.

What if she said this, “I’m retiring. I want to get married, settle down and raise a family. I’ve become the best in the sport, now I want my children to have that same opportunity. I want to be there for them. I want to coach them and nurture them and give them every opportunity to reach their dreams.” Can you imagine the reaction?

Yet isn’t that exactly what her mother has done for her? She has traveled with Mikaela for the last two years on the World Cup, defying the circuit officials in the process, so her daughter had the full support and care she needed as a young teen on the road. Her father was weeping when she won. He’s no doubt been busting his behind to pay the piper for the world cup tours. A prodigious amount of commitment, self sacrifice and love had gone into achieving that win. In fact the article linked above notes how both her father and mother were very deliberate in guiding her to this success.

How would her own parents respond to Mikaela stepping aside to coach or raise a family? After they had labored so many years to get her to this point only to see her lay it aside in order to give back and teach others how to do what she does or pour into her own children…how would they feel?

I don’t have an answer here and I’m not pushing for Mikaela to choose one way or another. I’m simply posing the question to make us think. We love a hero. But a hero who steps aside to lift up others? We’re not sure what to with that.

I’m reminded of this passage: “Though being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but relinquished that, emptying himself and taking on the form of a servant, clothed in humanity.”

It was that type of life that actually beat death. That one who had been at the pinnacle of all things and yet gave of himself to make that life available to all people. And many folks still don’t know what to with Him either.

Olympic Stress

The Olympics have robbed us of sleep. Lack of sleep creates cranky children. Cranky children create stress. Ergo the Olympics create stress. Perfectly logical right?

Right, if you accept that you HAVE to watch at NBC’s proscribed time. But you don’t have to you know… There’s an app for that. I made the easy choice however, and went with the primetime coverage. So the lack of sleep is on me, not NBC. Hmm.

It feels better to blame the Olympics for the rough morning we had today. No one wanted to get up on time, including me. We ended up rushing breakfast, rushing lunch prep, and finally rushing out the door to co-op with everyone’s tempers on edge. Lovely way to start the day.

But I had to own it. So tonight I switched it off and sent them packing to bed. I expect much better energy levels tomorrow.

Own your choices. It’ll help you see clearly what (if anything) needs to change. Its the first step toward loving and living deeply.

The Necessary Thief

The list of necessary items to accomplish is often so long that it steals the time available for doing what’s important. At least that’s how it feels. Ever have one (or several) of those days where your main goal just keeps getting sidetracked because your schedule makes urgent demands on your time that must be met? Whether you’re a parent at home, a business person, a professional, a coach, or retired, we all deal with the inexorable pull of doing what is necessary. And necessary can be an elegant thief.

Because whenever we label a task as necessary, we empower it to usurp what’s actually important. And we do so without the guilt that accompanies procrastination. I mean the groceries had to be purchased, that sales report completed, or the car needed to have the oil changed, right? Absolutely! But the trap is closed when we allows ourselves to then think “Well, I just didn’t have time to get that important task done. I was busy being the responsible adult I’m required to be. And that’s good right? I didn’t waste time today, I did what was required of me.”

With that perfectly reasonable line of thinking, what’s important gets swept to the curb, buried in the detritus of busy-ness and languishes unfulfilled.

Having trouble determining what’s important? You’ll know it when you realize its the item on your to-do list that takes courage and fortitude, grit in your gut, to get it done. Necessary flows easily. It has inertia. What’s important requires intentionality. It makes you stop, gather yourself, focus and then purposefully move forward.

What’s necessary is never-ending, don’t conflate it with what’s important. Choose what’s important today.

I struggle with this everyday. I lost the battle the previous two days. I won today!

Sometimes There’s Pain…

…during and after a significant effort to meet a goal. Pushing and conforming your body (or mind, soul, emotions, spirit, habits) into new realities is rarely without discomfort. Putting yourself on the line for change is risky. That’s part of the pain too. To make a break with the known present and embrace an unknown future, even if its desirable, upsets the status quo. And that too is disquieting.

Pain doesn’t mean you failed…it means you lived.