Saturday, September 27, 2008

Athena the Great

December 1994 ~ September 26, 2008
Yes, she was almost 14! and not a gray hair on her. Up until about two years ago she would still jump the fence to get out of the pasture away from the other animals when they were annoying her. These pictures are from last summer at our old house.
Athena, I love you girl. You were my first daughter. You were just a pup, and with me when I met Darrell. You were there when we welcomed two little baby girls into our family. You watched over all of us. You were like a mother to our other dogs Janice and Faith, and even the cats and pigs we brought home for you to care for. Janice and Faith still have not left the spot where we found you.
You will be dearly missed. But we are all so glad to see you go quickly and not have to suffer. This winter would have been rough on an old gal like you.
We love you and thank you for being such a loving and faithful member of our family. You have always been a blessing in our lives.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's your color IQ score?

Ah, the things you stumble across when it is after midnight and you can't sleep. I took a color IQ test. Believe it or not, I got a zero, which means I have perfect color vision. Ha, all those art classes did pay off. Okay, maybe they didn't actually pay off, but at least I did pay attention.

Actually, I took it twice and the second time I scored a four, so I guess my vision is already deteriorating. Oh no!

Try it, you'll like it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just another Wednesday

~scuppernong jam and apple butter~

I haven't meant to keep everyone in suspense about all these fabulous miracles. It really has been a busy week.

This afternoon we are scheduled to close on the land for our community. I am truly amazed at the way God has brought so many factors together to make this happen. I assure you that when this project gets underway, it is fully in God's hands. We have neither the knowledge nor the finances to make it happen on our own. And, quite frankly, I can think of much simpler choices to make.

My husband asked me a question the other day from a book he was reading. If God were to cease to exist, would you continue to live your life the same way? In other words, are you living for God now? If you are, if He would cease to exist, you would change everything about your life, because your focus would change. If God did not exist we would not be building this community. It's not our idea. It is his. I have seen so many houses for sale that I would love to live in. Already built! Available NOW! Simple!!!

But he does exist. And He is going to build an amazing community right here, just like the ones he is building across the world.

.....well, I had better run. Apple butter and scuppernong jam down. Muscadine jam, pear preserves, mixed muscadine and scuppernong jam, and maybe some more apple butter to go. And, oh yeah, I have a closing to go to today....

~what a view!~

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oooops! Did I Say That Out Loud?

A couple of years ago we were sitting around talking with some friends about this plan for a community God had placed in our hearts. Talk turned to spiritual gifts, and we mentioned that God blessed us both with the gift of giving. We had struggled through some very tight financial situations, and we both believed that God had brought us through those times so that he could instruct us on how little we could live on. That way, when He does bless us financially, we will have already formed living habits that will enable us to give more and consume less. Well, I then said something that I almost immediately wished I could take back.

Have you ever said something and immediately had the feeling that God said "Hah, I was just waiting for you to say that. Now I can use you"? Just like the time a friend told me I should teach a class, and I responded "Sure, but God hasn't given me anything to talk about yet". Slam! He suddenly knocked me upside the head with a subject to teach on. (another Homer Simpson d'oh moment for sure).

Well, I told these folks that I was sure glad God had blessed us with a desire to be givers, and hadn't called us to be missionaries in one of those hot places with lots of mosquitoes, or worst yet, martyrdom. Now, aren't you glad God hasn't called you to be a martyr....yet anyways. As soon as I said it, I could hear God say. "Are you sure I haven't? And who is to say I won't?" Wow, I'm not sure that was what I wanted to hear!

That moment has never left my mind. In fact, I have meditated on it. And I have delved deeper yet into my Bible. I think I finally realizing some things.

Do you realize that God never tells us to preserve ourselves in the Bible? Never in his instructions does God say "Do this, unless it will provoke your suffering, or endanger your safety". It doesn't say Love your neighbor as yourself UNLESS he puts his stuff on your side of the property line or raises his hand against you. It doesn't say Thou shall not kill BUT if someone is threatening you it is okay to kill to preserve your own life or to hold on to your stuff. It doesn't say to honor your father and mother ONLY IF they are loving parents. God knows we are going to encounter situations in which we will be tested in our obedience. We will have times when we will be given the choice between honoring God and preserving ourselves. Often we fail. I know I do, and I'm sure that sometimes you do too. Ever wonder why there aren't more martyrs? In moments of suffering we often denounce our faith. Very few people are strong enough in their relationship with God to cling to Him regardless of the personal cost.

What concerns me is how often do we ignore God's instructions and his calling for us because it endangers our sense of comfort or security? Do you think God only calls people in third world countries to be martyrs? Or do you think that in our pursuit of comfort and self-preservation we drown out his calling?

What about missionaries? Aren't we all called to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ - to make disciples of all nations? But how often do we interpret that to mean folks in our own neighborhoods. You know - the ones that are just like us, and already open to receiving the Word. After all, we don't want to step outside our comfort zone, and we certainly don't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. Very few of us are dedicated enough to go into hostile areas, where we may not have drinking water, and there are huge mosquitoes among other dangers, to teach others about the love of Jesus Christ. We don't even want to give up satellite tv and high speed internet! "God, ya know, I would love to serve you and go to Africa to help the orphan children. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to find a Coke Zero there, and I just don't know if I can go without one that long." Sounds silly, I know, but I do that all the time! Do you?

It humbles me when I compare what Jesus did and continues to do for me with what I am willing to do for him. I have finally realized something though. There are no good or bad spiritual gifts or callings. Any opportunity to serve God should bring me irrepressible joy. The greatest tragedy in my life would be to be so concerned with my own comfort and preservation that I would miss such an opportunity.

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said, Here am I; send me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

God Has a Funny Way of Speaking to Us!

Sometimes God has a funny way of speaking to us. Sometimes he uses a sign or a magazine. Sometimes he uses other people or even a donkey. Sometimes he uses soap.
I love making soap. It is one of those activities that satisfies the mad scientist inside me, while still satisfying my urge to cook new, delicious recipes and develop my artistic talents. What an outlet! But some days everything appears to go wrong. I spill. I drop. I misprint. My labels won't peel. And I have a full out toddler's temper tantrum! Last week I had one of those days.

Well, you must know that I include a scripture on all the products I make. I know, what a fabulous testimony to God my temper tantrum must have been. Well, I was making some fabulously yummy emulsifying sugar scrub, and finishing up the labels for these soaps for a fall soap swap I am participating in. And I go searching for THE scriptures that God wants me to place on these products. So, here I am, struggling with scrub and labels, and I just happen to REALLY LOOK at the scriptures that God led me to place on the scrubs.
I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Hmmm! I could use a little patience.

Ephesians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Surely He meant all things but these stubborn labels, right?
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

D'ooh! Okay, I hear ya God! Do you think He might have known I was going to need those later? I just hate it when He catches me in a temper tantrum.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Miracles! Miracles! And More Miracles!

Oh, my goodness! Do you have any idea how big God is? Do you realize that He is truly in control? I know we say it and we sing it, but do you believe it? Have you ever experienced life when you completely surrendered control of your life to God? Have you resisted the temptation to pick up those reigns of control when you feel things racing out of control?

I assure you that when you do, you will see God working in your life. You will see the individual care he puts into personally working on YOUR life. It is truly something awesome to see!

I am awestruck that someone as huge as God, who created EVERYTHING would choose to place his attention on someone as tiny as me. But He does. And He is personally trying to work in your life too.

I am witnessing miracles! True, living, breathing, real miracles! But I don't believe God was able to work those miracles until I was willing to relinquish control. See, He gives us the freedom to make our own mistakes. I think back to when the Israelites kept asking Samuel for a King. He kept telling them that they didn't need one. But they kept pushing. They wanted the illusion of control. They wanted to stick with something that was familiar to them. They wanted to stay inside their comfort zone. But an illusion was all it was.

1 Samuel 8(HCSB)

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His firstborn son's name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. However, his sons did not walk in his ways—they turned toward dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have."

When they said, "Give us a king to judge us," Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the LORD. But the LORD told him, "Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them."

Samuel told all the Lord's words to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "These are the rights of the king who will rule over you: He can take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots. He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground or reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war or the equipment for his chariots. He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants. He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys and use them for his work. He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants. When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you've chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won't answer you on that day."

The people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We must have a king over us. Then we'll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles."

Samuel listened to all the people's words and then repeated them to the LORD. "Listen to them," the LORD told Samuel. "Appoint a king for them."

See, God tells us we are free to choose to do things our own way, but He warns us that the road we travel, if we choose to pave it on our own, will be a rough one. But so often we choose the long, hard, rough road just because we can set the direction in which to walk. But the other road, although it travels into the wilderness, although it leads into territory unfamiliar to us, is riddled with miracles. All we have to do is allow God to direct us down that path and He will reward us with them.

Well, He is rewarding me. Thank goodness I made it through at least the first dark, scary tunnel, and have arrived at the other end to witness the light and the first set of miracles. I can't wait to tell you the story about them. But those miracles are still being performed, and the story is still incomplete. Ah, but what a story it is going to be.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Francis Chan Sunday!

Enjoy these little snippets from Francis Chan, a pastor in Simi Valley, California.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why do churches in this country display American flags?

Why do churches in this country display American flags? I don't mean to sound rude or unpatriotic, but seriously, who are we there to worship? Who are we there to pledge allegiance to? Who are we supposed to look to first...our flag or our God?

Who are we supposed to look upon as our brethren? Christians? Americans? What about the non-Christians? What about the non-Americans? What about the folks that have different beliefs than us? What about the 'bad' people?

My Bible tells me that ALL of us descended from two people, and that our original national affiliation was Garden of Edenites. That means that those people in China are my brothers and sisters....even the communist ones. That means that those folks in Africa and are my brothers and sisters, even though they don't live in my neighborhood. So, why, when I am thinking of Jesus...when I am worshipping Jesus, should my thoughts rest on the flag of the United States of America? Are these the most worthy of my brothers and sisters? Are these the most important of my brothers and sisters? Are these the only folks worth dying for?

Check this out. Choose 'launch movie' when you go to this link.

A Place of Refuge - A Bit on Stewardship

Finally, I'm back to talking about this community living stuff! And you are on the edge of your seats, waiting to read more. Yes? I wrote about sharing and fellowship as two of the major goals and benefits of living in community. Now I want to talk a little about stewardship - both of our personal resources and of our environment.

Whether you believe in the reality of global warning or not, there is the simple fact that we do have limited resources on this planet. Once we push an animal to extinction, it is gone forever. Once we pollute the air, we don't have a quick way to pump out all the filth and replace it with fresh air. We have no choice but to breath in all the pollutants. Do you have a filter on your tap water? Wonder why? In this county it is necessary. You filter your water, or you drink only bottled water...which comes in plastic bottles...but hey, that's another issue altogether.

When we were in Kauai, a man told us that the reason land was so expensive on the island was because they had a limited, finite amount of real estate. But don't we all? We may exist on a larger land mass, but it is still finite. Our whole planet is, and our population is skyrocketing.

One thing we hope to accomplish through living in community is better stewardship of our environment. We hope to accomplish this first through sharing. It is a fact that one lawnmower produces less pollution into the air than ten lawnmowers. And one lawnmower takes up less landfill space once it breaks down than ten. Now imagine the impact on our air and in our landfills once we are sharing more than just our lawnmowers.

We also hope to impact environmental stewardship through the way we live. We are planning on establishing organic gardens and orchards in this community. We hope to be able to make these self-sustaining through composting for fertilization, and the use of honey bees for pollination. And we are also planning on raising our own animals for meat and eggs. It really can be an efficient way to live in more than one family is willing to share in the labor.

There is an additional environmental plus to raising much of your own food. You reduce your dependence on the grocery store. This translates to less gas being used for those once-frequent trips to the store. It also translates to less garbage being produced as your food comes with less packaging. Now your diet is consisting of fresh canned or frozen organic fruits and vegetables, fresh organic eggs, and fresh and frozen organic meats. Very little to go into the landfill, and you have the added peace of mind of knowing what is going into you. Now, we aren't planning on giving up the occasional trip to the store for some ice cream, yogurt, or soy sauce, along with other supplies, but look in your pantry and realize the amount of waste we can eliminate...and eat better quality food to boot!

The layout of the community is being planned with the intent of homes being built in a cluster, preserving the most open green spaces and wooded areas. This too, reduces the environmental impact. And it is just plain prettier to look at.

I hope this idea of community living is starting to come alive in your minds as new pieces are added to the puzzle. I will continue on later on the how living in community effects our personal resources. Have a blessed day and do something amazing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Prom Pictures ~ Arts Evangelica Prom 2008

I just came across these on the Arts Evangelica site today. My husband and I were invited to participate in Arts Evangelica's prom and graduate blessing ceremony this last spring. The first picture is us. The second picture includes our glamorous looking dear friends, Lisa and Grady Kidd. Hope you enjoy!

This was the first time EVER that I have seen my husband in a tux. He cleans up pretty well for a pig farmer!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mighty to Save

What will I do when my mind is gone?

I found this is my archives and thought you might enjoy.

What will I do when my mind is gone?

Will I forget the names of my children
or the contours of their faces?

Will I gaze questioningly at my husband
and call him by another name?

Will people look at me with pity
or with disdain
or will they notice me at all?

Will my friends sit and read to me
and listen to me repeat myself
again and again?

Will my friends sit and read to me
and listen to me repeat myself
again and again?

Or will they grow tired of the forced smiles?

I will still have Jesus by my side.
But will I recognize him or remember his words?

Will I find comfort in his presence?
Will I know he is there?

Will I occupy myself with the hobbies of my past
or try to learn new onew?

Will I be able to learn?
And will they let me use the scissors?

Will I be able to hold my grandchildren
without hovering hands waiting or me to lose my grip?

What will I do when my mind is gone?

Will you still love me?
Will I?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lanterns, Spiders, and Wells

Have you ever read the story of the 'woman at the well'? You will find it in John 4. Jesus stops to rest at a town well. A Samaritan woman is coming to the well at noon to collect some water. Jesus just happens to run into her and strike up a conversation that will change her life forever.

Think about it. Here was this woman heading to the well in the heat of the day for water. Why was she there in the middle of the day? During the time when the sun was at it's highest and hottest? Because she was living in disgrace. She was a sinner. She had been married to five men already and was shacking up with another man she wasn't even married too. Gasp! Living in a small village, I suppose all of her faults and mistakes were known to everyone. Some folks probably even let her know that they knew of her mistakes. Can't you just hear them listing the inventory of all her wrongs? Just in case she forgot. Can't you hear the snickers and see the looks? Have you ever seen or heard them before?

So...was she likely to head to the well at the same time as all the other ladies? Probably not. She probably chose a time of day when the rest of the village was not likely to be outdoors, and less likely to be at the well collecting water. She wasn't looking for a friend. She wasn't looking for a man. And she certainly wasn't looking for a savior....or a Lord for that matter. She wasn't looking for anything but water.

So, along comes Jesus. He is tired and looking for a place to rest. Where to rest? Where to rest? The shady spot under that huge olive tree? Nope. How about right there at the well. So there Jesus sits resting at the 'randomly' chosen well, and 'coincidentally' (because we know Jesus was a part of bunches of coincidences) along comes this huge sinner of a Samaritan woman. Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it? And we thought they originated in the age of television. The Bible is just full of juicy stories!

Jesus asks her for some water, and she is shocked. He is speaking to her! This Jew is speaking to her - a Samaritan. And she probably notices that he is neither winking or smirking at her - treatment she has become accustomed to in her village. Jesus goes on to tell her about the 'living water' he offers and how she will never thirst again. He tells her things about her sins that she thought he, a stranger, could not know. He then tells her that he is the Messiah. Do you think she believed him? Oh yeah!

Then his disciples return and freak out when they see who Jesus is talking to. The woman, immediately recognizing the expressions and the tone of their voices, leaves, running to the village. But she is a changed woman. She is no longer hanging her head in shame, fearing judgement from her neighbors. She has seen Jesus! He spoke to her! He knew her, and all the terrible things she had done. Yet he spoke to her. And as she returned to her village, she sought out her neighbors - the same people that minutes before she was willing to suffer discomfort to avoid - and told them all about the messiah, Jesus. She told them all about this man she had just happened to run into...and took them back to meet him.

I love that story! Ever notice that we never learn the woman's name? It's not important. Or maybe she has more than one name. I believe that all of us, or at least many of us are the woman at the well. She could be me. Could she be you? There was a time when I would hang my head in shame when out of sight of others, perfectly aware of my mistakes. But unwilling to admit my mistakes, I would boldly and arrogantly march before my judgemental neighbors, not willing to let them see the shame that I felt, flaunting my sins at them, daring them to cast a glance or a word in my direction. And I wasn't seeking Jesus. I was perfectly content to live with a mess all around me. I was content going to the well during noon when I wouldn't have to see their stares. Who needed them anyways.

But there was that one day that Jesus happened to be sitting there, ready to blind side me with the truth. Our 'coincidental' meeting. And life would never be the same.

There is this crazy thing about truth. You can live in the darkness, and you can be happy not seeing what is in the dim corners. But once you shine a light in the darkness, you can't remove what you saw from your mind. If you shine a lantern , and there is a web full of spiders illuminated in the corner, you don't walk quite as boldly into that corner again. And then your mind starts doing some wacky things. You start wondering what is in the other dark corners. Then you start wondering if there is possibly a brighter and safer place to be spending your time.

That's what happened in my life. Jesus, who I wasn't looking for in the first place, showed up and shone a lantern into the corners of my life. Surprise! For the first time, I saw the dangers all around me. And for the first time I saw him. And I realized that as long as I walked with him, he would light up all those dark corners for me, and help me to steer clear of the dangers all around. Here is the kicker. The dangers are still all around. He didn't cause them to disappear. But Jesus illuminates them for me, and walks with me every step of the way. He never leaves my side, and he never, ever, turns out the light.

See, I told you it was a cool story!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Picture of unSchool Our Way....

I don't often share daily happenings in our lives with y'all, but I thought it would be fun to share what we are working on in unschool this week.

Alea got a book for her birthday about a young Christian girl who lived during the Depression. She loves those fictional historical diaries. It has a chart in it that details the cost of several items during the 1920's. So we decided to do a comparison of the price of living during the 1920's and today. So first we designed a spreadsheet. Kasi and Alea both got to learn how to design a chart and practiced on the computer designing their own spreadsheets using Microsoft Works. I think we now have in progress a spreadsheet of their Build-a-Bears, and how many shirts, shoes, etc, each of their two animals have. Then we headed into town to spend the day travelling to MANY stores to check on current costs. The chart had food, clothes, appliances, toys, vehicles, and even items such as the movies or a travelling circus, and private music lessons. We should be finishing our charts today. Maybe I will post them next week. It has been quite fun and very informative.

The girls reached their 30 book reward level a couple of weeks ago, but I have not been feeling great, so we have been holding off. Their reward for reading 30 books was a trip to Dan Nicholas Park to do the 'gem mine' and play in the water fountain park they have there. The gem mine is really cool. You are given a bucket of sand with various unfinished 'gems' which you take down to the flume and get to pan for your own gems. They give you a chart for identifying your new treasures. You can even have them polished and made into jewelry.

Alea and Kasi helped me with chores, learning to sort and spray laundry, and what is washed in warm and cold. We were actually trying to stall so that we could head out after lunch time for a surprise visit to Daddy at work. The girls made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, we loaded the van with our lunch, and we surprised Daddy at work. We told him we stopped by to kidnap him and take him with us to the park. He did not resist. We all had a wonderful time panning for gems and then Daddy and I sat in the shade watching the girls play in the water. Ah, the life. We hated to have to leave.

After we got home and ate supper, the girls and I finished out the day by making coconut, blueberry, banana bread following a recipe I found at the Hungry Housewife blog. Yummy! We made one change though - substituting honey for half of the sugar. And I don't think that I reduced the liquid by quite enough to compensate for the change since they kind of sunk. But they are delicious. And honey makes them moist, and adds nutrients. Kasi and Alea each made three mini loaves, so we are going to be swimming in sweetness this weekend.

Well, today we are finishing up our spreadsheets and heading to the library. Tootles! Hope you enjoy the slideshow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quotes from my Babies to Make You Smile...and Laugh

(when saying prayers at night)
"And God, I hope you are safe and happy in heaven."

(after falling down AGAIN)
"Another bruise!" (big grin) "Yeeeesss!"

"I love you even when you suck up."

(after seeing a commercial for a magazine subscription)
"Why would I want to buy issues? Like I don't already have enough issues of my own for free!"

"Aren't these the coolest thing EVER? Magnifying glasses with lights so I can read small things in the dark! They are a little big though. I need smaller ones so I don't look goofy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Place of Refuge...The Importance of Fellowship - A Repost

Living in community has so many benefits, which stem from it's few basic purposes. I already discussed the first purpose, which is to promote sharing. The benefits from sharing are numerous.

Today I want to talk about the second basic purpose which is to promote fellowship. Fellowship, whether we know it or not, is important to us all. I want to repost an article I wrote about fellowship last year to establish a foundation for this topic.

The Importance of Fellowship *originally posted 10/22/07*

Koinonia is often translated as fellowship. How important is fellowship? How important is getting together with other people?

Scientists have studied the longevity of married people versus singles. They have found in every study that married people live longer than people that never marry. They have found that married people have fewer health problems. Now does this mean that a wedding ceremony instantly wipes away illness? No way. The root of the problem is isolation and loneliness.

Think back to when you were in high school. What was your greatest desire? For most of us, it was to belong. We wanted somewhere where we felt like we were a necessary part of a group. Why do you think kids join gangs? To feel like a necessary piece of a puzzle. To feel camaraderie. To belong.

Houses used to be built close together. They had big front porches and front lawns where entire neighborhoods would gather and chat. Folks would sit and greet their neighbors as they returned home. They would sit and share a drink and chat. They would slow down and relax, and invest in the lives of their neighbors. Ever been sick and wishing for a steaming bowl of chicken soup? Neighbors knew when someone was sick, and would look in on them.

Today front porches have been replaced with back decks. Today people want more land, more privacy, higher fences, gated neighborhoods, and bigger houses so they never have to go outside. Everything they need is at their fingertips, in their nice, climate controlled environment. Even the outside hot tub has been replaced with a jetted tub in the privacy of their own bathroom. They don't even walk out to get their mail. They drive the car close to the box, blocking traffic, so they never have to get out of their car.

We complain about how people in the stores are so RUDE. What do we expect? They have no socialization skills, because they never socialize. It is a fact that isolation builds self-centeredness. People have forgotten that other people go through trials just like they do. That is why support groups have become so popular. Deep down we all desire fellowship. We all desire to be a part of something. We all desire to share our hopes and dreams, and struggles with other people.

It was always my dream to buy a big chunk of land, and build a big log house in the middle of the woods. Ahhh, completely silent, but for the sounds of nature. But the more I think about fellowship, the more that big chunk of land and woods seems like a box to me. The thought of having a really neat place, and no one else but my family to share it with, somehow seems inadequate. And then, I think, how will I be able to teach my children about sharing and giving, if I am hoarding, saying 'all this is ours', not theirs.

I want to live close to my neighbors, and have a big front porch with a free soda machine on it. That way everyone with stop by for a drink and a chat. I hope I get so busy chatting that we are forced to eat sandwiches every night for supper, because I got nothing accomplished. That would be living life.

Lately, there have been stories of kids killing. There have been stories of kids claiming their own lives. Do you think these kids had a feeling of belonging? Do you think they had a strong history of fellowship? Do you think they sat around and chatted on the porch with their neighbors? Or do you think they felt isolated? Alone? Different? Misunderstood? Do you think they were loners who sat quietly and unnoticed at school, and came home and shut themselves in their own rooms with their own thoughts?

I want to show my children that the stories in the Bible are not mere stories of what people did long ago, but a blueprint for how we should live our lives. I want to show them that it is possible, in the modern world, to live like Christ. I want to show them that miracles can again be commonplace. I want to show them how to change the news. I want to show them that they are an important piece of the puzzle, and an impact on the lives of others. And I don't want to just tell them about it, I want them to see it in action by the way we live.