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Personal Prayer Updates

Christian, Are Your Doors Locked?

Christian, Are Your Doors Locked?

Tonight, weather-permitting, a bunch of strangers will converge on our backyard for a cookout and a bonfire. We don’t know most of these people yet, but we hope to soon. They are fellow residents of Eastwood, a village in the city of Syracuse, New York.

A Positive Response from the Community After a Double Homicide

Thanks to a community Facebook page someone set up, we invited anyone and everyone in Eastwood to join us for a meal. When I posted the invitation on Facebook, the response was overwhelming. One woman messaged me, offering a $25 gift certificate to a grocery store, even though she wouldn’t be able to make it. She wrote,

You and your husband did something  extraordinary in a cynical world. You loved your neighbors, all of them! Thank you for being a shining light this difficult week in Eastwood!

That’s when I connected the dots. We had planned this cookout weeks before, but in God’s providence, I posted the invite two days after a double homicide in our neighborhood.

A Negative Response from a Church Member Concerned About Safety

While our neighborhood is thrilled by the opportunity to come together, a local church member had a different response:

I don’t think it’s wise. You have no idea who might be coming to your house. You just had a shooting in your neighborhood!

I didn’t say too much in response. I understand where this person is coming from, but here’s the deal:

Jesus didn’t call us to pursue safety; Jesus called us to the task of global evangelization.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matt. 28:19-20).

Is Safety Your Ultimate Goal, Christian?

I’ve wasted decades playing it safe. Praying for safety. Locking proverbial doors, shutting proverbial blinds, and staking a proverbial “No trespassing sign” in the front yard of my life. For years I thought the goal of Christianity was to hunker down and protect myself from the world. (How could I have gotten it so wrong?!)

I now live in a city of 500,000 people. God has tasked me–along with every other believer in this city–to share with them the good news that they have a Creator who loves them, a God who sacrificed Himself to atone for their sin and restore their wrecked relationship with Him. 

This good news is shared on ordinary days, in ordinary places, like backyard barbecues, by building relationships with our neighbors . . . even when we don’t know exactly who we’re inviting into our backyards. 

I wonder, Christian, what is your ultimate goal? Is it safety . . . or is it relationship with and representation of your God?

“Safety is of the Lord,” my parents taught me as a little girl from Proverbs 21:31 (KJV). May we trust Him with the number of our days, and may we swing open our doors in the meantime!

(Here are just a few ways you can pray about our Cookout on Collingwood.)

  • Good weather.
  • Wise, life-giving, Christ-centered words related to this double homicide.
  • Love for God and neighbor.
  • New friendships forged.
  • No hiding the fact that we belong to Christ.
  • Glory to God through this ordinary endeavor.

Thanks so much, friend!

UPDATE: WE JUST RESCHEDULED TO 7/11 DUE TO RAIN.

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We Survived a Home Renovation . . . Almost!

We Survived a Home Renovation . . . Almost!

Four months ago our little family moved into my in-laws’ house, and our home renovation began.

As home renovations go, this one has taken longer and cost more than we expected. Our contractor told us he has seen couples divorce over home renovations. I get it. The stress is high. The decisions are unending.

It’s not just the home renovation. We feel like we’ve been in a pressure cooker for months now.

When Life Doesn’t Give You a Break

Sometimes life just doesn’t give you a break. It’s the need to finally bite the bullet and buy a new car, even as you’re dishing out money right and left for your home renovation.

It’s the trip to the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning . . . and a subsequent hospital admission. (Iren was wheezing and struggling to breathe.)

It’s urging people in our lives to turn from sin and pursue Christ. It’s that ridiculous relational squabble. And on and on and on.

My husband and I are weary. I’ve had a meltdown or two. It usually goes like this, [Sob . . . sniffle . . . “I have no friends!”] Trevor assures me I do, but I have yet to figure out how to find time to hang out with any of them in the midst of all the other demands and responsibilities.

But in the midst of all the pressure, I continue to catch glimpses of just how much God cares for me. For example, here’s how I saw it yesterday.

I was taking Iren on a walk when I looked up and saw an acquaintance. I fell into step with her and told her I need to prepare three messages for a mother-daughter retreat next week. One message is for moms, and I’ve never been a mom of a daughter. So I asked this pastors’ wife of four children what she would say to these women.

Her thoughts sparked several ideas, so I pulled out my phone and took notes as we walked. It was a reminder that God sees my overflowing to-do list, that blank Google document, the impending deadline . . . and He cares.

Would You Pray for Us?

I share all this with you to ask you to pray for us. Pray:

  • God would send us help as we move back home. Our house is far from move-in ready, but we are ready to be home, even if it means dust and disorganization for a season.
  • for refreshment for our weary hearts.
  • that this renovation will allow us to continue to grow in our capacity to extend hospitality to others.
  • I’d figure out how to prioritize and pursue friendships in the midst of all there is to do.
  • the Holy Spirit would guide my thoughts as I prepare these talks–and that I’d find the time to do so.
  • I would love and bless the moms, teens, and tweens I’ll speak to on March 16.
  • Trevor and I will continue to grow in affection and teamwork and kingdom impact. (In spite of the stress of the last few months, I love him more every day. He’s my favorite!)

Thank you, friend. Even the one I haven’t met in person yet. Thanks for reading and caring.

And know that in your own weariness and stress, God cares for you. Cling to these truths in 1 Peter 5:6-7, as I am: 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

PS: A hearty thank you to Dale and Patti Marsteller for putting up with us for the last four months! Also, to all our friends who have pitched in at our house . . . thank you.

PPS: Photo credit goes to our friend Ryan Krahmer, who captured this photo of our dining room months ago as we were preparing to rip out the wall between our kitchen and dining room.

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