Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Three Potential Anxieties/Opportunities

I woke this morning with a pit of anxiety in my stomach. I realized what it was as I got ready for the day.
  1. Next Tuesday I fly to Long Beach to speak for a church in Cypress that evening. The event is an amazing one-of-a-kind desert gala centered around Ruby Slippers. I'll speak for 30 min and then sign books. The reason I feel anxiety is two-fold:
    1. Due to mis-communication and the airlines adding one more layover, I have 3 stops before arriving in Long Beach. This means that there is a larger potential for delays and me to not get into town in time. It's so frustrating when the airlines change your ticket without notice and even more so when I want to have the energy, clarity and excitement for the evening event.
    2. I will be traveling alone, which is always more stressful for me. You have to monitor your own safety, unwanted male attention, connections, etc. I need to have confidence and energy for that day.
  2. This week Dale and I are finishing our chapters for an apologetics compilation book, edited by Sean McDowell. Needless to say we want to do this well. The deadline is fast-approaching, but we are seeing how much work we've already done. We are both writing about 5 hours a day to finish in time. Thank you for praying for diligence, we've seen God giving this to us. It's coming together, but it is labor-intensive. Please pray for us to want to help each other with editing and ideas and not just focus on our own chapter.
  3. This Monday, the night before I fly out, is our inaugural Mark Bible Study. We've cleared our schedule this summer (except for the Cypress event) so we can serve in Steamboat. We've decided upon the venue of "Seeing Jesus through the eyes of Mark," teaching every Monday night this summer. I'm eager to begin, but want to find the time to meditate further and put together my thoughts with Dale. Please pray for us to coordinate our ideas and for at least 10 people from the community to make it a priority to come.
It's strange but as I write this, the anxiety has evaporated. Thank you for carrying our burdens with us. We know that much of this weight is evidence of answered prayer. God is using our efforts. We want to savor these opportunities as they come.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Answer! --and request for writing

We finished our two week trip well. When we returned, our bodies certainly felt fatigue. Always on. Getting into the thick of other people's suffering. Always under spiritual attack. It takes a toll.

And your prayers helped. Even after returning, our souls felt strong. We felt that we were doing exactly what we were made to do. People's lives were changed, souls were built. We watched God moving among his people just by our being present with them and using the gifts he's given us. We've already received many student emails from the past two weeks... God give us wisdom to respond to some hard issues these student's face.

That's an answer to pray that we finished strong and that souls were moved. And to top it off, before we even reached home, we watched God's hand in motion. On our long drive from Denver airport back to Steamboat, we decided to grab some lunch at Pei Wei on the West side of Denver. After enjoying a healthy meal (fresh vegetables always seem to be sparse when traveling), we stepped into the coffee shop next door. Waiting for our drinks, a man turned to us and asked, "Are you guys from Steamboat?" Well, yes.

His name is Joda (pronounced "Ho-da") and he had attended one our "Loving God with All of You" seminars in Steamboat earlier this spring. He happened to be in our coffee shop with his father-in-law. After a pleasant discussion revolving around the goodness of God and serving Him, Joda prayed for us. It deeply touched us that wherever we are, God continues to remind us that he is for us.

As he continues to remind us he is for us, Jonalyn and I are each working on a chapter for a book on apologetics for a new generation. Jonalyn's chapter is on apologetics and gender. Mine is on apologetics as soul formation. Our due date is June 1.

We ask for prayer that our thoughts would be organized. We have lots of material and only 4,000 words to cram it into. So pray we would be economical with our words. Clear. Organized. Engaging. Creative. That our words would be the kind that would stir others to action and growth.

We're thrilled to be doing this project, edited by our friend, Sean McDowell (Josh's son). We'll be finishing up our articles this coming week.

Again, thanks for standing with us and reaching the world through your prayers. It makes a difference.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Request from Copperas Cove, TX

Jonalyn and I tallied up our speaking presentations since leaving home for this trip. This morning's talk on how to read the Bible put us at talk number 22. Tonight is our final talk before flying home tomorrow!

Our time in San Antonio finished strong with many students going out of their way with appreciation. Many were refreshed with a larger vision of Jesus and how every faculty of the human person is called into a meaningful walk of love with the Savior. (But we were disappointed in the Prince Caspian movie, which even the teens thought fell short of their hopes and undermined our favorite character, Aslan... but that's a topic for other blogs!).

We are tired and want to finish well. Tonight's talk has a city-wide invitation so there is no predictor on how many will show up. "Living with Questions" is our theme followed by Q&A. It is an open forum event, so who knows what will happen.

Our prayer is for strength and clarity. That we would tell the truth with courage. That the thoughts would flow through our weary minds (I just took a power-nap in the car while we're parked at Starbucks because I just couldn't focus). And that those who come will be inspired to find the King more meaningful than ever before and worth following across this broad world into eternity.

And also pray for a safe return flight home tomorrow. We can't wait to see the "ladies" (our corgis) and our big soft bed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Requests from San Antonio

Well, Forest Lake School turned into a marvelous week. Parents, teachers and students flooded us with appreciation. It's been one of the best responses we've ever received.

This from one student on Thursday (halfway through the week)

"I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to you and Dale speak to us in chapel today and yesterday. I can't wait for tomorrow as well!" She then went on to email us some questions of a more private nature. Other teens have been writing in this weekend with gratitude, more questions, or wanting to be our friends on One girl wrote, "I am listening to you at Forest Lake Christian and I love you guys! Especially the first day of Spiritual emphasis was spectacular! That was most likely the best sermon/chapel I have ever listened to before! Thank you both soooo much for coming and for all that you do! I can\'t wait to hear you tomorrow! Keep up the great work!

We've been built up by their eagerness. And the vice-principal has extended a return visit invitation to be speakers for the Senior Bible Retreat this September. Even the principal announced during the Parent-Teacher night (Dale and I shared about what it means to help your students live with their questions) that he'd like to recruit us to join the faculty at his school if we'd ever consider moving. We were thrilled they enjoyed us so much! Here's a pic of us before our final talk, at our Soulation table (the flowers were from a student).

This morning we woke up at what to our bodies was 4 o'clock (what Dale calls "0-dark thirty") but really only 6 am San Antonio time to begin our Spiritual Emphasis week at Harvest Christian Academy.

Our hostess had already laid out a delicious coffee cake spread and we felt nourished though still tired as we followed her to our next school. We spent from 8:30- 12:25 with about 40 teens, grades 7-12. It was a very good first meeting. Dale was his splendid self, lightening up the atmosphere, sharing and acting out the humorous bits in our talks and fielding questions.

In this next week we have left here's how we need your help. Would you pray for us
  • Though we are tired we've had some time to rest this afternoon. I took a 3 hour nap and it was exactly what I needed. I haven't felt this tired since finals at UVA 4th year. Please pray that we'd sleep adequately and remain healthy!
  • We need the kind of personal, inquisitive, attentiveness for these students as we will be spending all morning for 5 days with them. There's such potential for them to open up their minds and hearts to us, but we must remain attentive for the opportunities. Please pray for us to be "on" when we need to be.
  • Each night this week we have events or dinners planned and we are excited for these, but also need endurance.
  • Sunday we speak in the morning and evening at a church about 2 hours away. Please pray for us to finish this week well as we work with the adults and teens.
We need you to be like Moses' friends, who held his hands up when he was weary.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Prayer Request- Lake Tahoe

Thank you for praying. We feel healthy, rested, well-fed and on the same page as we begin speaking this week. (And I'm 1/2 way through the Chronicles of Narnia!)

We have not been involved in working in very conservative Christian circles in a while, so this week as we minister to our brothers and sisters (both students and parents) at this Christian school we ask for
  • sensitivity to not offend as we also challenge them to think about Jesus in new ways
  • strength as we have a packed few days here, tonight we meet with the teens on student council, tomorrow we meet with the parents to share with them the questions teens are asking, Saturday as we potentially meet with some Christian leaders regarding future events, and during every day we are doing chapels and meeting in classrooms with students.
This morning we shared about faith with the junior highers. We only had 15 minutes, so it felt like a whirlwind, but we managed to step on some toes by sharing the story that Jonalyn left her Christian school to be a missionary to a public school.

God give us grace to know when to make waves and when to be still.