New beginnings

Tonight we had the first Oasis Madrid service of the new year. It was great. We were unexpectedly "unplugged" though :) We had our new sound system, but when we got everything set up, we found out that the clever salesman at the music store had sold us the wrong cables for the speakers. So we put it all away again. Funny. In the past that might have stressed us out quite a bit, so it was really refreshing to watch how we all just shrugged it off and had a good laugh about it.

Despite it being a holiday weekend, we had a decent turn-out. And for the first time in history (if memory serves correctly,) the offering was more than the rent. That felt really really great.

We also changed the service from 7 to 6, and I am loving that. Everyone helped clean up, and we left shortly after 8. That means we got home before the kids melted down, and it was early enough to actually cook some dinner for Troy & I to eat while we watch a movie to wind down. Nice. Quite a few people went out afterwards, which we'll do in the future as well. Of course that will be even easier once we move into the city.

Anyway, it was a really good night. I'm off.


A Few Moments of Quiet

I love wireless :) I'm sitting in the darkening living room with the tree lights on and fire bathing me in warmth for my toes and cheer for this dreary afternoon. It is a very dreary day weather-wise. I woke this morning to rain. I was glad to know that I would be snug at home today.

It has been a great day. We "got crackin'," as my hubby likes to say, this morning before Troy headed to the airport to meet Amy, our new intern. It was a perfect day for the menu of potato soup and fresh bread that I had planned. Nothing like the constant drip drip drip of rain to enhance the smell of onions and garlic in butter.

Amy arrived safely, although her bags did not. So instead of taking her stuff to K's apartment where Amy will be living for now, they came straight back here. We shared the big pot of soup (yes Troy, we had enough!) and two crusty loaves of bread from the gas station. Yes, it sounds insane but it's King's Day in Spain and nothing is open. And believe it or not, the gas station has REALLY good bread!

Then we ate traditional "Roscon de Reyes" which is some sort of sweet bread with nasty fruit on top :) Inside there is a tiny Christ child, and also some sort of joke figurine. If you get the Christ child it's very good for you; if you get the joke, you are supposed to pay for the Roscon. Troy got the plastic-wrapped Mickey Mouse in his piece! After that excitement we all collapsed by the fire with our coffee and tried to keep Amy awake. We were successful, but I almost fell asleep myself. Amy kept up with the craziness in our household despite jet-lag; she's obviously going to fit in just fine!

The house is mainly quiet for now, except the swish swish of my industrious husband who is sweeping, and the distant "Mommmeeee" from Nic who is pleading to be let out of his room where I sent him (and Meg to hers.) They need to go back to school before they kill each other or I kill them. :) The dog is pleased about the fire and is sprawled beside me on the couch. Rough life.

We didn't last long at the parade last night; you would have had to be there more than 1 hour early to get a decent vantage point. It was cold and crowded, and more than Nic's attention could bear. So we watched the rest of it from K's apartment. But we enjoyed the walk to and fro and drooled over apartment for rent signs in neighborhoods we can probably not afford.


More or Less

This morning I was dreaming of new furniture I would love to buy for the new apartment in the city we'll find. And then I was wondering where all our money went. I got irritable. Mind you, I can be irritable and worried about money on payday when we have a full bank account.

I decided that before we went into the city for lunch and the big parade for King's Day, I should have some time with God and get over my irritability.

This is what I read in Psalm 4 from The Message.
"Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more," they say.

"More, more."

I have God's more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day

Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep,

For you, GOD, have put my life back together."

Wow. I can't say that's me, but I want it to be! I think I'm going to add that to my prayers for simplicity. "I have God's more-than enough."



I got a lot done today; laundry, straightening out my closet, some paperwork etc. Nothing terribly exciting but at least those things are off my list.

I find myself really tired tonight; Meg has been in our bed the last 2 nights, first night because she was cold, second night because she had a bad dream "about 3 spiders." Anyway, even though she is better to have in bed than Nic, I still didn't sleep very well.

I aim to be in bed by 10 tonight!



I have too many "hats" to wear. I know I am not the only woman who struggles with this. I always planned on being a "stay-at-home" Mom. Yet I also always planned on being a missionary. I'm not quite sure how I thought those two things were going to fit together very well.

So anyone, here I am, a 37-year old woman, trying to figure out which hat I am supposed to where, and when and for how long.

You know what the list looks like:
Cleaning Lady
Pastor's wife
Daughter (and daughter-in-law)
Administrative Assistant
Computer tech
Leader (of worship, of a community group...)
and it so it goes.

Sometimes it's easy to know what hat to don. When people are coming to dinner and the house is a wreck, I know what I have to do. On Wednesday nights when I get on the train to go into the city, I know I can take off all the other hats and put on the community group leader hat. When the kids are in bed and my hubby and I are cozy on the couch watching a movie, I'm not going to think about updating my budget.

But what happens when it's just before dinner, my daughter just got home from school, the phone rings (a ministry matter) and I still have to meet a deadline for something? Sometimes it's not so easy to figure out which hat to wear.

So I usually end up trying to wear more than one hat at once. I stir the spaghetti sauce, clench the cordless phone between chin and shoulder and try to carry a on a conversation in mime with my daughter. I run up and down the stairs to check email while the water boils. I can be pretty good at multi-tasking. But the trouble with that is that often none of the things I am working on get done very well.

Today, I tried to only wear one hat at a time. At 5:30 when I decided that I should start dinner, I really concentrated on dinner. I like to cook, so I enjoyed the onions and garlic browning with the sausage in olive oil. I snuck some grated carrot and spinach into the spaghetti sauce to get some extra veggies in my kids. I took the time to mix vegetable and whole wheat pasta in the big blue pot. I mixed it all together and melted cheese on top while Troy went for fresh bread. Dinner was a hit. And I didn't check my email once while I was cooking.

Wonder what hat I should wear tomorrow?


A New Year

For the past few weeks I have been asking God what He wants me to concentrate on in my personal life and growth. In many ways I feel like I spent the first 36 years of life learning the basics; and I am just now getting to the "real" lessons. Enough wasting time. I want to start learning the important things that will really make a difference to my soul, my family, my friends, my church, my community.

I tend to complicate things. I can be all about the idea of something. If you give me a project I'm happy to color-code it, chart it, get a new notebook for it, collect colored pens and paperclips to track it and get everything all lined up.

Sometimes, I'm not so good with the follow-up.

Several years ago, before we came to Europe, I read an article about "quiet-times." The woman who wrote it set aside 1 hour every day, and she had all sorts of valuable ideas of what to do in that hour. So I found a 3-ring binder, I printed up prayer lists and Bible verses, put in dividers and all sorts of snazzy things. For awhile, I actually used it, and managed to spend the hour most days.

But the whole "system" became too much for me. It began to overwhelm me. If I felt at all like I couldn't do the whole hour, it became easier to just skip the whole devotions thing.

This is a pattern in my life; not just a one-time thing. Recently, I was working on some personal development issues. I asked a friend to give me some feedback in specific areas. One of her comments was this:
" I think you often set high goals or too many goals that make perseverance nearly impossible for anyone, when you would probably be much more successful if you kept them smaller or sharper focused, really working to stay consistent and persevere on some realistic goals instead of trying to change your whole world at once."

It makes sense to me that God is asking me to simplify. For the next six months, we are basically in transition and in limbo at the same time. Although we will continue to live in the suburbs, our ministry will be in the city. That is going to be hard because we're going to be pulled in two directions. School and kids and home are going to be going the opposite direction of ministry. And my heart is already anxious to make the move.

I could make the next six months a lot harder on myself by making it too complicated. So I am deliberately going to seek simplicity. I'm going to leave the 3-ring binder wherever it is (yes, I still have it and still feel like I should use it sometimes.) Instead, I will take my Bible, maybe a notebook and only ONE color pen, and sit with Jesus and talk to Him and just work on getting to know Him more.

During these next six months, I will throw things away, weed through my possessions and ask God to help me not buy a single thing I don't really need. I will learn to sift through my tasks and find the ones that count. I will spend more time snuggling with my children, laughing with them, helping them learn about life. I will hold my husband's hand more. I will spend time with people I love, and also with people I don't, but need to. I will ask God to keep my greed in many areas in check.

I will not make New Year's resolutions. I will not make any charts to track the progress of anything. I will not buy any new pens until the ones I have run out of ink.

Simplicity. It's out there somewhere.