deep thoughts

As winter warms we traded in Chili the Dog’s thick fur coat for a choppy-looking light-weight windbreaker. That is to say, Chili got a haircut. Consequently little dog hairs abound in the kitchen, which is just inside from the patio where the deed was done. Between hairs and crumbs from small children enjoying German bread, the kitchen floor receives much attention. This morning as I wiped up, I refolded the rag in order to keep the hairs inside while I used another part of it. Previously hidden, I suddenly saw a dark, ugly ink stain on the rag in my hands. Just when it was far from my mind, a reminder came: Daddy’s jeans continue their life because this rag took the ugly stain from them. Stain remover would remove the stain from the jeans, but the ink had to go somewhere in the process. In this case, I’d used this rag to absorb the ink as it departed in response to my scrubbing…and scrubbing…and scrubbing.

Unexpectedly I was reminded that I live because someone else took the stain of sin from me. And at the least likely moments sin still raises its ugly head, a reminder that it is vanquished…but not yet fully gone. Sin didn’t just vanish into thin air. It went somewhere. It went into Jesus. What better place to find myself thanking Him than already on my knees. Even in so mundane a task as mopping the kitchen floor, truth can bring us to worship.

We continue to serve here where God leads and often thank Him for those who continue to encourage us and in whom we see Him work. However we still have the sense that this is not a long-term destination: at least two other options still rest on the table (Colorado, Canada) while we actively seek God’s guidance, whether for these options or elsewhere. Would you please join us in asking God to guide us clearly – and if He could do so quickly, we would greatly appreciate that, too!

Thank you for walking beside us and encouraging us on the road. It is a blessing to be part of a body with such members as you.

A swing at the local park.

Last weekend our friend gave us a wedding gift all over again – he hooked up the electricity to our hot tub. In the process, he found some dangerous wiring that needed to be fixed first. He’d done most of the work and now needed a 9-volt battery before he could continue. There was one somewhere in the house. I knew it. I had just put it in…something…not long ago. My search for it took me to all corners of the house. Thinking through what was in Sandi’s office, I wondered if maybe it was in his guitar tuner. Before I barged in, though, I recognized his tone of voice as he talked with our landlord. And it made me stop.

Listening for just a moment before I continued my quest, I heard him share that our friend was willing to work for three days on this house and our hot tub and charge nothing because our friend was also our brother. Just as our landlord had not charged his brother for the work he’d done the week before, so our brother was working for us simply because we were brothers…in Christ.

Our landlord listened a little uncomfortably and attempted a few protests, but in the end, he had to admit that there really must be something different about this Christianity thing – something very different from the world and the “normal” ways of men. All because our friend’s actions…and silence. We thank God for drawing alongside us such unexpected partners in ministry and continue to pray for our landlord…and look for ways to move him out of his comfort zone and toward Jesus.

Over time, the sojourn to Africa begins to make a little more sense to us… The other day Slick had a tiny bit more insight into the great “why” of it all. A voice of experience once told us, if you think God might want you to become a pastor, try every other road first. If He wants you to be a pastor, nothing else will work.

Not long after, both of us reached a point where being in full-time ministry seemed to be the only right response to the immense gift God had given us – the gift of His Son, through whom we can have a relationship with God Himself, which is the very definition of eternal life.1 So off we went to Africa, the quintessential Mission Field, with the wholehearted support of many godly advisors.

Were we all wrong? We know sans doubt that God wanted us in Africa…and we know just as certainly that He led us back to the US a short seven months later. An obvious reason “why” eludes us, but we now see several results. First, had we never gone to The Mission Field, but instead entered straight into traditional ministry, we would always wonder when times were hard if we’d made a mistake – if we were supposed to go be the missionary pilots we’d dreamed of since we were young. Now with assurance born of experience, we say, “no, that is not where God would have us.” Second, our mindset for the last several years has transformed into one of fulltime ministry. Now in a “secular” job, we still view ourselves as fulltime “ministers,” fulltime workers in God’s Kingdom. It is a step closer to how we all know we should think: what we do is irrelevant; who we are is His ambassadors to our little corner of the world wherever that is – and that is our fulltime “profession”.

So Africa has taught us some valuable lessons, but I have to admit that as we heal and move on, we thank Him daily for placing us in a place our hearts humbly and simply enjoy. I think He is pleased with that, too. Slick used to often say, as he watched God work through him in lives and situations, that he liked being a tool in God’s hand. He says that less frequently these days, hoping that as he continues to mature, God would use him as something other than a hammer! 🙂

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.2 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.3

1 John 17:3
2 John 3:8
3 Isaiah 55:8

(We enjoy hearing stories of God working in unique and miraculous ways – and passing those stories on to all those whom we know. God is still on the move! This story happened in New Jersey this past month.)

Robert, a quiet, shy man, has struggled with Leukemia for years. Dad and Jeanette are just two who have been praying for him as he was diagnosed then underwent chemo. Yet through all of that, Robert remained faithful, both to God and to a team of folks who minister at Preakness Health Care Center. Two weeks ago, when Dad was out of town (visiting us!), Jeanette arranged the schedule at Preakness, assuming they would not have a speaker because they’d never heard back from the one they’d invited. But even as she faithfully planned out the day, confident that God would nonetheless be glorified, God Himself stepped in, as He so often does, with His perfect timing and provision: Robert, facing head-on his dread of public speaking, volunteered to talk. Surprised but relieved, the team looked forward to hearing him.

Bravely controlling his anxiety, Robert stood up before the Preakness residents and his fellow teammates and shared with them a little of the battle he’d been facing. The week before, the doctor told him that the chemo was not working and there was nothing left to try but a bone marrow replacement. The doctor, however, had not factored in the power of God’s response to His people’s prayer.

Just before his latest test, Robert sensed God leading Him to join a healing service at the home of a friend even though he was not accustomed to worshiping in that manner. His fellow believers there welcomed him heartily, embraced him warmly and prayed passionately. And God responded.

The day before the service at Preakness, Robert visited the doctor for the results of that last test – all clear! The cancer was simply gone.

Hearing the report of God’s work in Robert’s body, Jeanette danced for joy. Dad, much more reserved, glowed. Not only did God heal, but He did so in such a fashion that no one else could take credit, so that He alone would get the glory. And He acted with perfect timing so that the story of His power would reach the residents of Preakness, some folks in France (us!) and even beyond. The Creator of all people still cares deeply for His creations.

Zoe makes Daddy take a break from running & studying

Slick ran the other day. He wants to run these short training runs at 8 minutes per mile. He’s training for the Paris marathon and he’d like to run it in under in four hours (roughly 9 minutes per mile). But on this run, he initially didn’t have a set goal. He just wanted run and put in a little effort.

But somewhere during the first half of his out-and-back run along the foot of the snow-muted Alps, God led him to set a more solid pace for the second three miles. Without looking at the GPS that told him his pace, Slick simply stepped it up a notch. He noted the time when he turned around.

The whole way back, he just focused on running a good strong tempo, giving it his best effort, but determined leave the results to God, rather than consulting the GPS for feedback along the way.

When he hit “stop” at the end of the run, he discovered he’d run exactly 8 minutes per mile. Not 8:01, not 7:59. His best effort at doing what God had laid upon him to do, plus the empowerment God gave for carrying out His command, was exactly enough, not one iota too much, nor too little.

And so it is with what He sets before us to do. Our best effort, plus His enablement, is exactly enough. Not too much, and not too little. In His hand, our all is sufficient for Him, and in our lives, He is sufficient for us.

At the school, Zoe found a pair of skis that fit her and her face almost got stuck in a huge grin after her first day on them

Some stories have no explanation outside of divine intervention. A friend and fellow pilot experienced many, of which I captured two: God’s math and God’s finger.

In front of the beautiful Delicate Arch, the sunglasses go flying...over a several hundred-foot cliff...

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