Monday, April 29, 2013

What's Really Radical

I’ve been pondering the term “radical Islam” these days.  I know what people mean by the term, but when I hear it lately, I find myself thinking, there’s nothing that radical about Islam.  Islam is just like all the other religions of the world. 

Someone has said that all religions lead to the same place, and there’s some truth to that.  Ultimately, they are all variations on the same theme:  be good and you will be rewarded.  There are different takes on what qualifies as being good (love your neighbor, take care of the earth, eradicate the infidel, etc. etc.), but really, apart from some genuine kooks out there and those who have been blinded by their own greed, there is a general consensus among much of humanity about what it means to live right.

And there are different takes on how we will be rewarded (wealth on earth, harps on clouds in heaven, reincarnation into a better situation, a harem of virgins, etc. etc.).  But there’s the formula:  good living = reward.
Only one “religion” is truly radical enough to defy that.  Radical enough to say, it doesn’t matter one whit how good you are, you will never be good enough to deserve your reward.  Never.  Not a chance.  And really, your being a good person is not the ultimate goal here.  It's a great side effect, but not the end we have in mind.
One "religion" is radical enough to say you can have an intimate, genuine relationship with the God of the universe . . . and that is the goal, plain and simple.  Nothing else matters.  An intimate relationship -- meaning you each know the other exactly for who you are, inside and out.  That we know God in all his glory, as our Creator, our Father, our Friend, our Master, our Husband, our Shepherd.  And we come to him just as we truly are, as a child, a bondservant, a beloved wife . . . the relationship is so complex, there isn't a single earthly metaphor that can encompass it.
But how radical is that?  To believe that we can have an intimate relationship -- talking with him, walking with him, feeling his presence and his delight -- with the transcendent, all-powerful God of the universe.  And that He wants to have that relationship with us.
THAT's the goal.  Being a good person is the inevitable result of that, if we have earthly time left (in fact, it's the only way one can become a truly good person).  That's why Jesus was able to say to the thief on the cross, "This day, you'll be with me in paradise," even though the thief had lived a terrible life.  He got it right at the last minute -- got it right with God.  That's the only reason we're here.
The vast majority of "Christians" don't even get this themselves.  And most of us that get it in our heads fail to live it in our lives. It was G.K. Chesterton who said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."
 It's that radical.


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Exercise Nazi

Now that we have income again (I've been using that phrase a lot lately), the youngest and I rejoined Four Season fitness club, because we were doing a pretty lousy job of working out on our own all winter.  She picked up the brochure with the schedule for all the group fitness classes, and some mysterious bug bit her.  She decided she wanted to try every class.  And not only that, she decided she wanted to try a different class every day of the school week.

Yes, anyone who knows my youngest will see the irony of her suddenly becoming the Exercise Nazi in our family.

I had no desire to drive to Four Seasons and get exhausted and sweaty five days in a row.  But Lord knows, I'm not about to stifle such an unexpected and fortuitous urge to exercise in my youngest.  And so . . .

Monday, we went to Aqua Aerobics at 9am.  With all the senior ladies.  Seriously, even the instructor had gray hair, although she was friendly and peppy and probably in better shape than the two of us put together.  It was more of a workout than I expected, although it paled in comparison to classes that came later in the week.  The worse part for me was all the rigmarole after class to get ready to go out into the cold weather again.  (Yes, it snowed here on Monday.  Insane.)

Tuesday, we did circuit training.  I've never tried circuit training, but I always thought I might like it.  And I was right.  Thirty-eight different stations, forty-five seconds at each station.  The painful, icky exercises went by fast, and we got a good workout.  Problem with this one:  the youngest didn't realize just how long this was going to go and didn't pace herself.  By about two-thirds of the way through, her face was beet red.  I instructed her to sit out a couple stations and rest because I was afraid she was going to pass out  She still said the workout was okay, but next time, she'll take it a little slower.

Wednesday was "Group Power".  I had no idea what this was, but it didn't sound like something I thought I'd enjoy.  Turns out, it's like choreographed weight lifting.  We had barbells and followed his instructions to do various lifts with them to the music.  If I had to do weight-lifting, this is the way I want to do it.  Problem with this class?  It went for forty-five minutes.  Holy cow -- that's a LOT of weight-lifting.  We were so sore afterwards . . .

Yesterday, we went back to the reason we joined Four Seasons in the first place: Zumba.  We really enjoy Zumba.  I like dancing, and I like the music, and I like the challenge of figuring out the new combinations.  Doesn't feel as much like exercising to me.  But after our absence, we did forget how long a one-hour class feels.  Or maybe it was just because our bodies were already exhausted.

I get a Four Seasons break today, because this is the last day of homeschool P.E. for the year, and youngest has conceded to allow that to be our workout today.  (A bike/walk along the river downtown -- sounds glorious now that the weather remembered it's supposed to be spring.)

Apparently I have Group Ride and Yoga in store for me next week . . . and possibly something called "Boot Camp"?  Oh, Lord, help me . . .

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rebuilding the Wall

I’ve been reading the book of Nehemiah lately.  Nehemiah was the leader God raised up to lead the rebuilding of the Jerusalem city wall after its destruction during the exile.  And I’m thinking that the American church needs a wall rebuilt.

I realize this may seem inconsistent with my earlier criticism of believers who cocoon themselves away from the world.  But a cocoon is not a wall.  A cocoon hides you from the outside dangerous world because you are too fragile and weak to face it without being destroyed.  A city wall is a sign of strength.  It has gates (ten that I counted in chapter 3) which allow the friendly to enter and exit freely but are shut securely when the enemy attacks.
Like Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, the church today is shamed because our wall is a pile of rubble that the Enemy can breach at will – and does breach, often.  (How many disgraced evangelists can you name? . .  Have you compared the divorce rate among believers and non-believers lately? . . and this is only the visible tip of the iceberg.)  And we can see in chapter 3, rebuilding the wall is a huge group effort, inspired by a leader but accomplished by devoted individuals.
Individuals like Uzziel, son of Harhaiah, “one of the goldsmiths”.  And Hananiah, “one of the perfume-makers”.  How easy would it have been for men like these to say, “Wall-building?  Oh, I don’t know nothin’ about wall-building.  That’s just not my calling.  I’m afraid I have to leave that to those who God gifted in that area.”  Nope.  They got in there and figured out how to repair a wall. 
Shallum, son of Hallohesh repaired his section with the help of his daughters.
The men of Tekoa repaired a section, but “their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.”  There will always be those who think they’re too good to do hard work, and to proud to submit to authority; nevertheless, the wall must be built.
Most importantly, I think, were the many, many people Nehemiah lists who simply did the work to repair the section near their own home.  Hear that: we don’t need to go to the jungles of Africa or the inner cities to do the work of God.  There’s work to be done right where you are.  Sometimes the work of fixing your own life has implications beyond what you can see.
We must stop waiting for God to “raise up” a leader to rally the troops to the rebuilding.  If you see the rubble, you have been raised up.  The rebuilding begins with you repairing the breach that leads to your own front door – and me repairing mine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

That Me-e-ean God in the Old Testament

Hubby’s reading through the Old Testament these days.  Lots of judgment being meted out there.  The Old Testament has troubled a lot of people over the ages.  I just read about a sect in the Middle Ages who taught that there were two gods; the evil god was the god of the Old Testament, and Jesus came in the New Testament to tell us about the good god.  Quite heretical, but one can see how someone could wander to that conclusion.

But something else I read recently pointed out a detail that we don’t consider much (at least I haven't).  The New Testament covers maybe seventy years of history – certainly no more than a hundred.  The Old Testament, on the other hand, covers four thousand years of history.  An awful lot of the written material is about judgment, but these judgment passages cover forty times more history than the New Testament.  And Jesus and the apostles had a lot of judgment to mete out, too – proportionately, for the time period covered, it may even out. (Plus, some of those judgment passages are reiterations of the same crime that was expounded on in other passages.)
And yes, the Old Testament is quite a bit about judgment.  One of the important lessons that Israel – and every human on earth – had to learn is that righteousness is the standard, and destruction is the consequence, and there is no obtaining righteousness in our own strength.  Only when that fact is abundantly clear, deep in our souls, do we understand Christ and can we really accept him.
Besides, there is one very famous story from the Old Testament that dispels this notion of a hateful, vengeful, unmerciful God.  Everyone knows about Jonah and the whale.  But those not up on their Bible literature don’t know the best part of the story.
When Jonah finally repents and submits to God and is spit out by the “great fish”, he travels on to Ninevah to warn them of God’s coming judgment, as God had instructed him to do in the first place.  Ninevah was an Assyrian (therefore, pagan) city, the largest city in the world for a time.  [A sidenote: scholars for years believed the book of Jonah was an allegory because there was no evidence the city of Ninevah had ever existed.  But archeologists found it. And a lot of connections have been found between the city of Ninevah and fish, including the possible worship of a fish god . . . which adds a whole new dimension to the being-swallowed-by-a-fish business . . . but I digress.]
Jonah hated Ninevah and was all psyched for God to pour destruction on them for their evil ways.  But that’s not what happened.  The Ninevites, led by the king, heard Jonah’s message and became convicted.  They “turned from their evil ways” and “called urgently on God” for mercy.  And God relented.  That was the goal.  God was hungry for their repentence, not their destruction.
[Jonah, on the other hand, wanted destruction.  I think the church would do well to study some Jonah these days.  But I digress again.]
I think this is the only instance in the Old Testament of repentance on the part of a Gentile people, and God's response is mercy.  Why do we doubt he would have been merciful if others had repented?
There are certainly difficult passages in the Old Testament, but they are not as difficult as it would seem at first glance if they are put in appropriate perspective.  As they say, sometimes a little bit of knowledge – of the Bible and of other things – can be dangerous.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Things I Will Miss . . .

Things I will miss when my husband leaves tomorrow to go work in San Antonio:

- Someone to keep the lawn mowed.

- Half of the clothes in the laundry basket.

- Someone to answer the stupid phone while we're in the basement doing school.

- Hearing the garage door open and knowing he's about to walk in the door.

- A tired body in a sweaty t-shirt returning from basketball with the guys and responding to my inquiry with, "Puh, I should just quit and never play again" . . . or "Yeah, I should just go pro now and get it over with."

- A reason to keep peanut butter in the pantry and Diet Cokes cold in the fridge.

- One more person relieving me of one more meal to cook each week.

- The random bad jokes . . . and the good ones.

- The warm body in bed beside me, and the hand reaching over to find mine when the alarm goes off in the morning and I'm still too groggy to talk.

- Someone to keep air in the van's back left tire that leaks.

- A loving voice telling me I'm beautiful all day long when I feel fat, slovenly, and crawl-under-a-rock worthless.

- Someone to do tag-team parenting with when my frustration and exhaustion reaches its limit.

- A pair of eyes whom I want to please motivating me to NOT quit school early for lunch because I'm sick of science . . . to NOT snack on a tub of ice cream . . . to get up and do some exercise instead of playing a few more rounds of Sudoku . . .

- The car parked on the right side of the garage that I have to maneuver around.

- Someone to figure out why __________ isn't working right.

- Seeing his wedding ring when I hold his hand.

- The alarm going off at 5:30 on Friday mornings reminding me that my husband cares enough about his walk with Christ to give up precious sleep and go meet with a couple guys at Hyvee for breakfast and accountability.

- An intimidating presence to scare the boyfriend into treating the daughter right.

- Praying together at night.

- Someone to watch the news with me.

- The hugs and kisses and snuggles, on demand, whenever I need or want them.

SIGH.  Only a couple months.  Thank God for emails, and texts, and Skype, and unlimited long-distance . . .

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Clutter, Carpet Stains, and Baseboards

So, we're getting the house ready for showing -- a couple of realtors are stopping by today and tomorrow.  This process mainly consists of three things: 1) packing up stuff to put temporarily in storage so the house looks less cluttered, 2) covering up the nicks and scratches and other little evidences that human life occurred here, and 3) deep cleaning.  And when I come up for air enough to think about what I'm doing, I have these thoughts:

- This stuff that we're putting away in storage . . . why do we have it?  We have a big house; how is it possible that we could have so much stuff that this big of a house could ever look "cluttered"?  Well, one primary reason is because we have stuff that we attach a sentimental value to and can't get rid of.  Why do we put emotional value on things?  I remember talking about this in scrapbooking classes I taught.  Moms asked me, what do I do about all the pictures my little girl drew, all the papers my little boy brought home from school . . . ?  I said, spread them out on the dining room table, take a picture of them, and toss them.  Put the picture in the scrapbook so you remember what they did.  You simply can't keep everything.  Keep the memory, not the thing.

- Even weirder, we have stuff that doesn't mean much of anything to us, but it was given to us by somebody and it apparently meant a lot to them.  So, we keep it for their sake.  Those people may not ever even come to our house -- or if they do, they may never notice that that particular item is nowhere to be seen.  But we keep it, just in case.  Weird.

- We're touching up paint, polishing wood, attacking old carpet stains.  I have to admit, the house looks nice.  Why don't we care this much about how the house looks when we're just living in it every day?  Why are we satisfied to live in drabness when a couple days of work a year makes it looks so much nicer -- and saves us days of hard labor like this when it's time to sell the house?  We're too lazy to do nice things for ourselves.

- When I'm looking at houses to buy, do I notice if the baseboards are dirty?  Do I see small cobwebs in the high corners of the ceiling?  If I do, do they make me not want to buy the house?  Am I really only interested in buying and living in a house that looks perfect and unlived in?

Okay, that's all the time I have for reflection.  Back to the baseboards.

Monday, April 15, 2013

And Life is Never the Same Again

About thirty-five years ago, my mother was debating whether she could get a microwave oven.  She was a very traditional homemaker and had cooked meals for her family with a traditional stovetop and oven for decades.  She just couldn’t imagine that she would make much use of this new-fangled thing.  But she quickly caught on.  By the time she passed away, I’m not sure she ever cooked in anything but her microwave.

I believe I’m experiencing a similar phenomenon.
We’ve been waiting for many months to replace our family’s broken down cell phones.  Now that employment is pending and birthdays are fast approaching, it was time.  Hubby researches this stuff very well and picked out a couple of phones that were good quality and also happened to be on sale right now.   So, we all trooped to the Verizon store the other night to pick out new smart phones for the girls and I (hubby just received his in the mail from his new company).

I wasn’t sure I needed a “smart phone”.  My cheap little tracphone has served my purposes over the years.  All I wanted was an actual keyboard to type texts on (now that I text more often) and a plan where I don’t have to count minutes.  All this extra stuff did not seem necessary.  I do just fine without it now.
Then I got my Droid.  Oh, my goodness.  This could change my life.
Not only can I make calls on this thing . . . I can check emails on this thing.  I can do Facebook on this thing.  I can keep my calendar and all my to-do lists on this thing.  I can TALK at this thing and it types what I say.  I can play Sudoku on it.  I can Skype my husband when he’s in San Antonio.  I can take pictures and videos.  I can look up directions.  I can find the closest pizza place.  I can listen to music.  But did you catch that most critical fact there, folks:  I can keep my calendar and to-do lists on this thing.  ALL of them!  Oh. My. Goodness. 
I realize this is all old news for many of you.  You’re ROFL-ing right now at my silly out-of-date self.  That’s just fine – enjoy your roll.  And I’ll enjoy reading your snide comments using my FB app on my NEW PHONE.

Friday, April 12, 2013


As I shared recently, the young ‘un and I have been reading in the book of Acts about how the early believers voluntarily sacrificed to help fellow believers who were struggling.  When there was someone in the church who was in need, believers – like Ananias and his wife Sapphira -- would often sell a piece of land or something and bring that money to the apostles to give to those who needed it. 

Only Ananias and Sapphira didn’t bring all of the money from the land they sold.  They held some back for themselves.  They apparently told the apostles that they were giving them all of the money from the sale . . . in other words, they lied.  And the consequence for this?  They were each suddenly and miraculously struck down dead the moment their deception was revealed.

Yep, dead.  Pretty harsh.  If you were reading the Bible to decide if you want to try out this Christianity thing or not, this story would likely give you a good excuse to chuck the idea.  But if you’re someone like me who comes to the story having already concluded that genuine Christianity is the only game in town that makes any sense, then you read this and try to figure out what’s going on here.

Yes, they lied, which was wrong, but all sorts of people lied in the Bible and lie today and don’t get struck down dead.  Plenty of people are selfish with their money, too, and don’t get struck down dead.  I’ve heard it taught that the early church days were a time of precedent-setting, so some things happened then that don’t happen now because the early Christians needed important lessons pounded into their heads clearly to get off on the right foot.  I don’t know that a case can be made for that.  And so the story troubles me . . .
Enter my old buddy Jack – that is, C.S. Lewis.  In his classic Mere Christianity, he writes about Christ’s instructions to us to “Be perfect”:
Some people seem to think this means ‘Unless you are perfect, I will not help you’; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless.  But I do not think He did mean that.  I think He meant ‘The only help I will give is help to become perfect.  You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.’
We often want something less.  We don’t want to be saints; we just want to be nice, decent folks.  We don’t want to be great; we just want to be comfortable and happy.  We (like Ananias and Sapphira) don’t want to be generous, self-sacrificing, and completely dependent on the Lord; we just want other people to think we are.  The fact is, Jesus is an all-or-nothing kind of King.  Partial submission is no submission at all.  So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I will spit you out of my mouth.
We should remember, too, that scripture doesn’t say Ananias and Sapphira were eternally condemned for their deception – just that their earthly life ended.  As my mother was known to say, there are worse fates than death for a Christian.  For all we know, God may have been sparing them a worse fate if they continued to live in their lukewarmness.  Perhaps God decided that, if these two didn’t want any more of Him than this, then there was no point in their continuing on earth any longer, since our life on earth is all about growing closer to Him and drawing others closer to Him.  Again, if you come to the story assuming that God is loving and just, you assume that God sees something we don't in their hearts . . . or in their future.
The sudden death business aside, what I take away from the Ananias and Sapphira story is that I need to pee or get off the pot.  Either I’m a bondservant of Christ or I’m not.  There’s no half-way – no part-time servanthood.  If I'm dissatisfied with my Christian walk, perhaps it's because straddling the line doesn't cut it.

Monday, April 8, 2013


I have a friend named Kim.  I don't remember exactly where we met, but I remember where we became friends -- at a park by Sunnyside Elementary watching our kids play Ultimate Frisbee once a week the summer of 2009.  (Well, her daughter played -- my daughters mainly hung around for the social time.)

We sat in our lawn chairs at the side of the "field" and talked.  And somehow our talk turned to drama.  And somehow we came up with the idea of trying to do a play with the homeschoolers that fall.  I'm still not sure where we got the chutzpah.

Thus began four years and eight plays worth of collaboration.  And it has been a God-ordained collaboration.  I never cease to be amazed at how well we mesh in this endeavor.  I write the plays and run the rehearsals -- doing the things I enjoy and do best.  She gathers costumes and props, manages set building, collects money, makes and copies programs -- all the things that would make me insane, but apparently she enjoys (well, I don't know that she enjoys hunting down people for their money . . . ).  This drama program would never have happened if I'd had to do it alone, because her job would have made me cry on a regular basis and I would have been too stressed to go on after the first year.

And yet, despite our different roles, we think so much alike.  I look at the emails she sends out to the parents every week (and just the fact that she sends them, methodically, every week) and think, "That's just how I would have done that.  Yay!"  When we sit down together at my kitchen table after every audition to cast the show, we both come away awed at how God used our separate perceptions of everyone to pull together a perfect cast.  It never fails about halfway through a season that we make some comment about how there's simply no other way this show could have been cast.

God consistently has taken the fish and loaves we each offer to him and multiplied them to feed a multitude.

Kim never gets the credit she deserves for all this.  Because I'm the loudmouth in front of everybody, I seem to get most of the kudos.  And yet she never complains.  She said last Friday that I was the "face" of the program.  But she is the heart that keeps the blood pumping to make it live.

A mutual friend told me once that she was praying for God to bring me a Kim in my drama ministry at Sunnybrook.  I told her I could use a Kim in every aspect of my life.  My Barnabas.  Thank you, friend.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sweet Gig

I've had a sweet gig here in Sioux City.  I'm in two positions where I get to write scripts that pretty much have a guarantee of being performed for an audience.  And I get to direct those scripts, so I can ensure that they are performed as close to my vision as possible.  And I get to work with actors who are enthusiastic and fun and eager to do well.  And I get to hand off the icky stuff I don't enjoy (sets, costumes, props, etc.) to someone else who does those things well and enjoys them.  Seriously, a sweet, sweet gig. 

Today ends one chapter of that gig.  My last full-length play with the FOCUS Players.  (We're doing a drama camp the first week of June, but that's something new we're trying and won't be a full-length play.)  For all I know, this may be the last full-length play I write and direct ever.  I mean, I certainly never dreamed when we came to Sioux City that God had this adventure in store for me here.  Who can imagine what he has in store for me in San Antonio?  I'm trying not to predict too much, because then I'll end up manipulating things to meet my expectations -- and God's plans always end up better than mine.

At last Tuesday's rehearsal, I was a bit worried about today's show.  My producer Kim and I have noticed that there is always a rehearsal, usually about half way through the process, when we get that panicked feeling that this is never going to come together in time.  Tuesday was that rehearsal.  And two days before dress rehearsal is not an opportune moment for that rehearsal.

But I had faith in my kids.  They are good kids.  They want to do a good show.  They knew they were weak on Tuesday, and they knew what they needed to do . . . and they did it.  Dress rehearsal yesterday raised my confidence again.  Really, I LOVE these kids.

Not that my primary goal is a great show.  That's an obvious aim, but not a primary goal.  My primary goals with the FOCUS Players are 1) that every student grow in some way during each show (in acting ability, in courage to try something new, in relationships with others); 2) that every student come away having had a good experience, even if they decide that theater is not their thing; and 3) that every student sees that drama can be an expression of worship and a means of ministry . . . and if playing pretend on a stage for applause can be worship and ministry, then so can every other gift God has given them -- mathematical ability, mechanical knowledge, people skills, fashion sense -- EVERYTHING that God has given them can and should be given back for His glory.

These are good kids.  I think they get that.  I will miss them so much.  Break a leg, my friends.  You've been a great blessing in my life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I shouldn't be writing this morning, I suppose.  I don't have anything to write about.  Well, I have plenty I could write about, but it is of the to-do list variety -- or the worry list variety -- and nothing anyone would be interested in reading, I'm sure.  But as I've said before, this blog is as much about my being disciplined in writing as it is about whatever brilliance I have to share with the world.

So, here I'm writing.

I could write about the play happening Friday, but I expect I'll want to write about that Friday (and hopefully, we'll have had a good rehearsal Thursday and I'll be feeling better about the play before I write about it).  I could write about the move to San Antonio, but I wrote about that Monday. 

I could write about my adult dance class last night, rehearsing the piece we're doing for the dance recital, to Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall", which was running through my head all night long every time I woke up . . . which was too often.  But I'm ready to get that song out of my head . . . "Out-, Out darned song . . . ", to paraphrase a Much Better Writer than I.

I bet he would have something to blog about this morning.

I could write about my dream I had this morning after the alarm went off and I fell back asleep.  I dreamt I was subbing and didn't have any plans to work with until the bell rang to start class.  Then the plans I got were almost incomprehensible -- three different groups in the class were doing three different things, one having to do with cooking a meal, another utilizing a Bunsen burner.  A Bunsen burner, people!  I was freaking -- I figured I'd burn the school down!  And my mother was there watching me for some reason (like, it was parent observation day for the substitute teachers), and I was so disappointed that here she was seeing me at my worst.

Trying to decide if I should analyze that dream for deep meaning or let it go as a brain fart.  I'm leaning toward letting it go.  My friend was telling me on the way back from dance class last night that she's had a couple dreams lately about taking the wheel of a car from somebody.  Now she's scared she's going to be asked to lead something. 

Have I found anything to write about yet?  Nah, I don't think so.  Okay, I give up.  I'll be brilliant for you all next week.  Prepare yourself -- you will be astounded.  Really.  Mm-hmm.

Monday, April 1, 2013


So, for those who didn't get the word via Facebook, hubby accepted a job offer last Friday!    We'll be moving to San Antonio soon.  Very happy about this job and very happy about the move . . . although a bit anxious about all the details involved.  Moving is a stressful thing, even when it's a good thing.

Because I know I have friends and readers who are also pray-ers, I'm going to be selfish and ask for a lot of prayers over the next few months.  Specifically, here's my list:

1) A new home.  An important decision in so many ways.  And there are some factors of that decision that we don't have much control over.  I would love for us to live in a neighborhood where we connect with the neighbors -- but we won't know if that will happen until we move in.

2) A new church.  Nothing at all against the wonderful churches we've been members of over the years, but personally, I'm kind of tired of the seeker-focused mega-church model.  I'm feeling hungry for something else.  I suspect, however, that we're going to find a lot of the mega-churches in San Antonio.  Everything's bigger in Texas, right?  But, church isn't all about me.  God will lead us where he wants us.  I just hope he leads us there quickly.

3)  New schools . . . ??  Lots of educational choices in San Antonio.  Homeschoolers abound, as do programs for homeschoolers.  The girls could almost do their entire high school career through co-op, plus all the extracurricular opportunities.  On the other hand, there are also a lot of private Christian schools to explore.  And we'll make a point to live in an area where the public schools are good, too, just in case.  More choices are good . . . they also make life more complicated.

4) New friends.  My biggest prayer right now.  It is so hard to make friends.  And we'll be moving in the summer -- a hot Texas summer when people don't leave their houses much.  I so want the girls to find people who get them, who understand them, who connect with them, who will help them grow.  I want that for hubby and me, too, but the girls . . . teenage girls need BFFs. 

Neither girl is happy about leaving Sioux City (particularly the eldest -- the boyfriend can't come with us).  But they do remember the move here: they were DEVASTATED to leave New Jersey four years ago, and yet, they survived -- and thrived.  Hopefully, that memory will sustain them.

I'm sad to leave friends here, too.  But I'm ready for a new adventure.  I'm also ready for sunshine.  Did you know it snowed last night here in Iowa?  Snowed??  On Easter?  Sigh!  So ready for spring . . .