The Divine Expedition

The theme for our staff conference in Holland (August 8-12) this year was "The Divine Expedition," a journey through the book of Romans.
During the week, we watched a series of video clips of actual mountain-climbers. Sometimes I thought these people were a little insane, putting themselves through all sorts of torture just to reach the top of a mountain. I'm no sure you could make me enough money to climb a mountain.

But here is the thing: God has called me on a divine expedition. Not only as a Christian, but as a church-planter in Spain. As I told my small group during staff conference, sometimes I feel like I have found myself half-way up a cold, snowy mountain only to discover that I am wearing shorts, flip-flops and have not even brought a water bottle with me. HOW DID I GET HERE?

And yet there are lots of days when I feel like not only am I nowhere near a base camp halfway up the mountain, but I am in a valley where I am overwhelmed with the many details of daily life. I feel overwhelmed by the crazy schedule I am going to keep this coming school year with Nic starting school full-time and yet still coming home for lunch. I feel like I don't have the strength in takes to be a consistent parent to an extremely stubborn five-year-old boy who will be plunged into the world of Spanish five-year-old boys and the effects of a completely different environment of acceptable behavior. I worry that I didn't really make any progress this summer in helping Meaghan with her Spanish. I'm physically tired; worn-out from a cold. I know I need to eat better and start exercising again.

It doesn't seem like I am anywhere near ready for an expedition up an ant-hill, let alone a mountain. But I'm going. So that's why the new title for my blog, and the picture of my Mom's favorite mountain in Ecuador where I grew up. I am determined that this year I will do what it takes to find myself half-way up the mountain, with proper gear and finding myself not in too bad shape.

A few years ago our friends Joe & Donna introduced us to a band called Selah
. I have found their music to be hugely encouraging time and time again. This afternoon, these words really lifted my spirits:

"When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize

Clear before our eyes

We find the strength to press on"

(Dan Burgess)

Onward and upward!


How sweet is my Hubby?

I wrote about our anniversary first, but I think my hubby outdid me....

Fourteen years ago today…
I didn’t drink coffee.
we kissed.
I had one year left of college.
you cried.
we were childless.
I spent the morning with my friend Joel.
we exchanged rings.
I sang to you.
we sang together.
I had lots of hair on my scalp and none on my chin.
we had room service.
I merely tolerated secular music.
we spent the night in St. Paul Hotel.
my glasses were large enough to be deemed “goggles.”
Joy’s picture sat on the platform.
I wore a tux with an ascot and you wore a white dress.
we vowed to love each other and stay with each other no matter what.
I saw you for only half the day.
was a day of joy.

I had two cups of coffee.
we kissed.
I still haven’t finished graduate school.
Meaghan cried.
we have kids!
Joel is in heaven.
I can slip off my ring, but I don’t want to.
I fried some bacon.
we typed together.
I have little hair on my scalp, a bush on my chin and some shoots out my nose.
you’re making pizza.
I have virtually every cd R.E.M. has ever released.
we woke up in the Cady Hotel in Madrid, Spain.
my glasses are hip, but with pieces missing because of our demon dog.
Joy’s picture sits on a white shelf in our house.
we’re wearing shorts.
I vow to love you and stay with you no matter what.
I saw you from the time I opened my eyes this morning.
is a day of greater joy.

is in God’s hands, but as long as we’re both alive I’ll still drink coffee with you and kiss you and wear my ring and cry with you and wake up with you and laugh with you and waste time with you. You alone hold my heart, my love.

I think I better keep him!


14 Years!

This morning I was awakened by a small boy who made several trips in and out of our room to bring all the necessary stuff for a proper morning cuddle. This included his pillow, his green blankie, Baby Max (the tiny toy dog,) Baby Max's bed, a toy for Mom, Dad & Nic (a stuffed sheep, a fox puppet and a stuffed Larry the Cucumber) and strict instructions on proper behavior; "Stop kissing my back Mom or I will go sit on the stairs." For awhile I just dozed and enjoyed the morning show. Until the trip to the bathroom and back involved a "Oops, I forgot to wipe! I'm so sorry about that Mom!" Good thing I was planning on changing the sheets today anyway!

Fourteen years ago today I woke up to our wedding day. The morning involved a bath, a trip to the hairdresser to get my hair done, avoiding seeing Troy at all costs, hoping my strapless bra would stay up in the muggy August weather and finally this:

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No laughing! I know, we look like we are about 12 and all that.

So here we are 14 years, 2 children, 3 dogs (only one at a time), 11 dwellings (including one on Troy Street) and quite a few pounds later. We're church-planters in Spain. Wow. How did we get from there to here?

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It has definitely been a wild ride. And although I am not a fan of rollercoasters, I am definitely going to stay strapped in and see where this ride takes us next. I have a feeling that there are still a few unexpected loops and twirls ahead!

Happy Anniversary Rev. T. ILYMTYALTT.


I'm Back

We arrived home on Saturday. Staff conference was great as always, but we came home tired from staying up too late, not having warm enough clothes (I could not get my mind out of Madrid temps when I packed!) and having to get up at 5:30 on Saturday morning to catch our flight.

Our topic this year was "The Divine Expedition," a journey through the book of Romans. It was a great analogy for life as church planters, and one that I plan to keep in mind for me personally during the next year.

I was privileged to be on one of the worship teams this year with my two Kellys (Crull and Wills) and it was an amazng experience to sing with a full band (AND smoke machine!) behind us. Here are a couple of photos.

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Our team during our report

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We are all happy to be back sleeping in our own beds. The dog came home from the kennel this morning and is pathetically pleased to be home. (Although the ungrateful thing shows it by getting in the garbage just now!)