Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Sacramental Life

I recently read a book entitled Crossing Myself by Greg Garrett. It's Garrett's autobiographical journey from brokenness to healing, redemption and restoration. I resonated with his story in ways that have helped me put into words some things I have been pondering for some time. He says it best, so I quote:

"I think messages from God may come in a lot ways. I'm open now to the idea...that a beautifully written e-mail may change my life. I also think it's possible that I may find insight in a billboard I streak past at eighty miles an hour, or that I may hear the voice of God in an idle line of conversation or in a line from a song from Coldplay. That's what the sacramental vision of the world means to me: If God is in the world, then God can be glimpsed everywhere, if I am only open to the possibility."

Which brings me to some recent glimpses of God. This picture was taken in Fuengirola, Spain on the morning we were leaving. How can one deny God when viewing such beauty?

But, what about the more obscure glimpses?

Like a nearby restaurant that serves locally grown and harvested produce that is free from chemicals and harmful pollutants? I get a glimpse of God when we eat here or buy produce from here. I am thankful that God provides such a place that I can act justly with my purchases and provide healthy choices for our family.

Or a what about a simple walk in the woods and quick rest on a bench to ponder the stillness and quiet. I love walks in the woods here. I love meeting God here.

Or what about other servants who love my children and are willing to give of themselves to invest in them, or even more simply make one happy for a few minutes with a bumper car ride? My heart is made tender when I see others serving one another...and we see a lot of that around here, thanks be to God.
Our friend and Storch dorm dad is a talented artist. I'm drawn into his paintings and how he interprets Scripture. I get glimpses of God through the feelings his paintings evoke in me.

Then there's Ruven, a little German boy on Ethan's soccer team. When Ethan was new to the team and crying at every practice, Ruven befriended Ethan and though he speaks no English and Ethan basically no German, they became friends and he calmed Ethan's fears. In Ruven, I see God's faithfulness to answer prayer.

I see God in a pep talk between teammates as the injured "leader" of the team encourages her friend to keep going even though she's tired and the team is way behind.

I see God in this picture in many ways. It inspires me to lead a simple life, to consume less (bike and walk more), to take care of my temple, to take joy in simple pleasures like an outing with a friend or family member, and to buy and eat local.
Over the past few months, the Holy Spirit has continued to bring Micah 6:8 to my mind. "He has showed you O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." I love this verse. I think about it on a daily basis. I think what the Lord is trying to teach me is that He wants me to live sacramentally and not miss glimpses of Him in everyday events, because it's in those moments that I am transformed to be more like Him.

"The world is charged with the grandeur of God." Gerald Manley Hopkins

Monday, January 5, 2009

Some Much Needed R & R

On December 18th, we enjoyed watching Ethan participate in his elementary school Christmas Concert. The kids did a great job and we were especially proud of how well Ethan performed!

He even had a small solo!

On December 19th (the last day of school) we officially became couch potatoes! We didn't realize at the time how much we ALL needed to rest, relax and be together as a family. We keep such a busy schedule during the year with work/school schedules, ministry activities three nights per week and weekend activities and ministry. After four months of almost non-stop activity, we needed to just do nothing...and that's what we did. We watched movies, played Wii, read, slept late and hung out on the sofas!

We did eventually get up and celebrated Christmas and New Year's with some new friends. It was a little hard being away from family, but we made it a point to have some people over who stayed in Kandern and did not have family with whom to celebrate. It was very enjoyable making new memories with new friends. The pictures below (albeit not that great due to the haze) are of us celebrating New Year's Eve. Our house sits high on a hill and from our balcony you can see all of Kandern. The Germans put on quite a display on New Year's Eve. The grocery stores are full of fireworks of every kind and they buy them in mass. The church bells rang out at midnight and the sky was full of every color. It was amazing!

On New Year's Day we went on a family hike to some nearby castle ruins. We stepped out of our door and in an hour's time we were atop Sausenberg Castle which dates back to 1120!

A few days ago, we went on a day trip to the Alps in Switzerland. We live only two hours away from Lauterbrunnen, a valley town in the Jungfrau region. We then took a cable car and tram up to Muerren in the mountains. It was breathtaking, beautiful, surreal and incredible. I kept thanking God for the opportunity and asking the kids if they knew how blessed they were to be experiencing this.

We rented sleds and did three runs down a winding run with postcard perfect views of the Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau peaks. The kids loved it and we made some great memories together.

Mark really was there! He was our faithful photographer:)

Happy New Year to you all from our family to yours! May God pour out His blessings on us all in 2009.

Blessings and peace,