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What I learned from the Grinch during Advent 2019

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Everybody knows about the Grinch who Stole Christmas. It’s a classic. I remember hearing it when I was a kid, then reading it when I was older, now reading it every year to my daughter. It’s terrible what the Grinch does, right? He doesn’t like Christmas. That in itself is a little strange to me because I’ve always loved the season. But I know not everyone does, so the sentiment is not too hard to imagine. But he doesn’t just not like it…he hates it…the noise, the presents, the decorations, the singing, the food. Wait, what? He doesn’t even like the feasting that happens at Christmas! It’s just all too much for him, presumably because he has no one with which to share it.
So what’s his plan? He decides to steal Christmas. Um? How does one steal a holiday? “I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming,” he says, in his grinchy voice. And inside, we all chuckle, knowing that no one can literally stop Christmas from coming. So, with the reluctant help of his dog Max (who is dressed…

Home Assignment Speaking Schedule

Here are the churches we'll be speaking in while on Home Assignment, April 12-August 6. We hope to see you!

April 14, 2019, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. (HST): Pukalani Church of the Nazarene, 211 Hiwalani Loop, Makawao, HI 96768 April 28, 2019, 10:45 a.m. (eastern): Knoxville First Church of the Nazarene, 538 Vanosdale Road, Knoxville, TN 37909 April 28, 2019, 6:00 p.m. (eastern): Cleveland First Church of the Nazarene, 2712 Henderson Avenue NE, Cleveland, TN 37312 May 5, 2019, 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. (central): Real Life Community Church of the Nazarene, 2022 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN May 5, 2019, 6:00 p.m. (central): Lebanon First Church of the Nazarene, 812 N. Cumberland Street, Lebanon, TN 37087 May 19, 2019, 10:00 a.m. AND 6:00 p.m. (central): Shelbyville First Church of the Nazarene, 834 Union Street, Shelbyville, TN 37160 May 26, 2019, 10:45 a.m. (eastern): Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene, 5455 North Terrace, Chattanooga, TN  June 2, 2019, 10:55 a.m. (eastern): Chatta…

Amazed

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Luke 2:19 (New Living Translation)
“...but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
I’ve been reading through Luke in anticipation of Christmas this year. What I’ve found pretty interesting is how AMAZED Mary is—not just once, when the angel comes to tell her she’ll have a baby, not twice, when Elizabeth tells her the baby inside her own womb leaped upon hearing Mary’s voice, and not even three times, when the shepherds come to honor the child and no doubt tell about the angels…she is AMAZED over and over again. Those instances are just the beginning. After that, Luke documents her amazement (Luke 2:33) when Simeon, who had looked for the Messiah his entire life, proclaims that Jesus is the one sent from God. She’s then described as confused when Jesus explains why he was in the temple talking with the religious leaders.
So many things happen to Mary in the first two chapters of Luke. Unlike us, she couldn’t see the story set out in front of her, the wa…

Five Things

Five things
*Holiness Learning is the name of the game on the mission field. And not just the “fuzzy” lessons that are neat revelations that feel good. I’m talking about the yucky, “I don’t want to learn this” kinds of lessons. As a relatively new Nazarene, I’m continually learning about what it means to be part of a holiness denomination. That may sound like high church talk, but at its core, holiness is allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you continually in an ongoing re-making into the character of Christ. It’s humility and patience and self-control and many other tough-to-learn characteristics of the Savior. According to the father of our tradition, John Wesley, this change is both “instantaneous and ongoing.” I love this. Marriage has been the best teacher of this concept for me. I made the decision to make a vow to Justin on 10-16-06, but that wasn’t the end. The relationship I have with him continues to grow…some days it feels good and immersive, and other days, we are togethe…

Everyday Miracles

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When we lived in Tennessee, Justin’s job was in corporate IT work, namely healthcare. The company he worked for was not religious or faith-based, not a non-profit. He used his skills in technology to help companies meet the needs of patients and providers while growing their profits. It was a good job. Justin has been a Christian for a number of years, so he represented Christ in the workplace, but seeing God at work was sometimes difficult to do.
On the other hand, Stephanie worked part-time for a faith-based hospital as a chaplain. Not every time, but quite often, she was afforded encounters with patients and families that were significant for them and for her as she bore witness to the movement of God in others’ lives. Even in caring for Amber Joy at home, “God moments” were plentiful and it was not unusual to glimpse the Holy Spirit at work as he crafted our family and its story.
Recently, Justin and I were talking about how, since we’ve lived in PNG, we seem to be experiencing som…

Confessions

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When we moved to PNG 14 months ago, I thought I would never lack for blog topics or things to say. But this past year has been difficult to digest and even more difficult to discuss. I had expectations of what missionary work would be like. Those expectations have slowly given way to reality: the good and the bad. I tried to make sure I was as spiritually prepared as I could be, but cross-cultural living brings up more questions about God’s movement in the world than answers. In some ways, I feel further from God, but I also know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline doesn’t mean punishment, rather “teaching.” Though this year has not been what I expected and it has been one of grief and change, I am learning so much about myself, my family, God’s work in the world, and my place in it. So, for the sake of remembering some of the teaching God’s doing and (hopefully) learning that I’m doing, here’s a list of some of those things in a (sort of) confessional:

I tho…

Uncrossing Arms

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Uncrossing Arms
Deuteronomy 30:19 …I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…
Before we came to PNG, I read several blogs about living overseas, missions, and culture shock. I read about what people had experienced when they lived as expats for the first time: the good, the bad, and the unmentionable. One of the things I read in several different blogs was that it takes a year before you really settle into a new place and begin to see it…Honestly, I didn’t believe it. I knew it would be a tough transition, but surely it wouldn’t take a year?! And suddenly, here we are at the end of 10 months and I’ve never been so wrong. As we close in on one year in PNG, I can say without a doubt that it really has taken me this long to begin to uncross my arms. Let me explain a bit.
The first couple of months here, we were surprised at the level of exhaustion we were experiencing. Every single night, we were ready for bed by 8:30 or 9. We seemed to have only en…