When I was single

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My first time on European soil - Frankfurt Airport, 9-6-2003


When I was single I went back and forth feeling like I wanted more, and then back to being OK being single… obviously I realized at some point that I wanted a wife and family – so that’s what I have today. However, I seriously looked at being single for a lot longer than I was. Back in 2002 when I was first presented with the idea of serving over seas on a year-long mission I was at a place where I was perfectly fine being single, very much enjoying it, and wasn’t actively looking for anyone. Of course just three months before leaving for my year long Polish adventure I “ended up” courting Alexis… it was crazy, and I wasn’t that sure about it either…

The pros and cons of being single are all over the place, and much of the desire to either remain single or enter into a long-term marriage (or for those outside my Kingdom lifestyle, a committed long-term relationship) come down to a person’s life calling and/or goals. However, I think the world, culture, and society put much pressure on people to find that “special” person far too much, and for many far to quickly. Some people mature faster and can enter into a dedicated relationship at an earlier age, but many times I believe (especially in the Church) the maturity factor is looked over and we’re just looking to get people married (so they don’t burn with lust)… instead of focusing on character development we’re simply trying to prevent “embarrassing” sin? This is a bit of an over-generalization and simplification, yet the common approach for many people is still within this kind of basic frame work.

Being single has amazing freedom, and the ability to get up and go when you feel it is awesome. Of course you run the risk of feeling “alone” and “lonely”, yet with the right amount of connections, friends, and most of all, your relationship with Christ, the sky’s the limit. Let the world be your play ground, be content, and step out into new things while you can – heck maybe make a life of it – stay single! The life-long single person certainly is a different breed, yet I envy the idea at times – thankfully my wife and I share the adventurous spirit and call!

I’ve got a travel bug!

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I have a huge travel bug right now, I really just want to go somewhere outside of the Pacific Northwest – if we had the money, we would be heading to Poland for a wedding on November 5th, but unfortunately we are shy of the $2,500 needed for airfare to get our family there – not to mention other travel expenses.  It makes us sad we can’t go… really sad.

I’ve had a couple of work-related trip opportunities but turned them down due to other scheduling issues, I’m hoping to have at least a few more before the end of the year – most so I can move up to the next mileage program status!  But also, because I have a huge itch to just go somewhere, explore something new, see and taste new things.  I love traveling, even when it gets all messed up.  Please God, send me somewhere… dare I saw “anywhere!”?

The picture above was from our visit to Poland just after our Honeymoon in 2006.  Wizzair is a no-frills budget airline that operates flights to/from Eastern Europe, this photo was taken as we were about to board our flight to Frankfurt after a couple of weeks in Poland.

Sustainable Christianity

Created to sustain?

Genesis 1:26-31 [NLT] Then God said, “Let us make human beingst in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. 31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

If the above passage isn’t one of the most “green” passages of the Bible, then I don’t know what is. I’m tired of American, suburban, “mainstream”, evangelical, “conservative”, “Christianity”. I love the Church, but I don’t love the stereo-type “Christianity” that is so prevalent in America, and unfortunately has a loud (and humiliating) voice. As a Christian I see nothing in scripture (nor do I ever hear from God) about politics, lifestyles, or a myriad of other “campaigns” our American evangelical “christian” circles tend to stand (quite strongly) behind.

The translation I used in the passage above uses the word “govern”, other translations say “subdue”, “rule”, “have dominion”, “be it’s master” – etc. It doesn’t say “strip it”, “rape it”, “be greedy and multiply”, “destroy and conquer”, or any other number of things that some of my brothers and sisters would never admit to, but support through their campaigns and political nonsense.

Now, I could continue on and be very critical, and beat up on my fellow believers… many of whom are my friends as well. But instead, I want to point out that I believe (and am convicted and urged by the Holy Spirit) to do my best in sustaining what resources we have (both natural, and human). We, as a Church, should support (and am convinced we are obligated) fair and green trade initiatives where possible and sustainable. The Church should be in support of moving our people around (read: public transit) efficiently, sharing resources where possible (Acts 4:32-37), and realize that we were created to sustain the planet, not abuse it.

There’s a lot of talk about this subject, for now though, I will do what I can.. because ONE (or three) does matter and make a difference. We are working our way to living in a place where we can live as we were created, and govern our lives in a way according to how we were created. Living near our friends, our church, our work; shopping near by from local/fair sources; using renewable sources to power our lives; reusing/recycling what we have; and reducing our footprint in more than just carbon emissions.

Goodbye 2010!

A day of photo-ing in Seattle after Thanksgiving 2010

A day of photo-ing in Seattle after Thanksgiving 2010 – Family Picture by Carlybish.com

Well, the year 2010 is not exactly a year I want to repeat. So many different disappointing and frustrating events, while personally I have learned more than I asked for, and I am thankful for that, I would like to see 2011 be a year where dreams, promises, and new beginnings come alive. I find peace in the fact that through all of 2010’s tribulations, relationally, financially and spiritually I have witnessed and experienced , time and time again, God’s provision and, more importantly, His peace throughout.

So without further ado, I present you my 2010 list of observations, ideas, remarks, etc; basically everything I’ve wanted to say for a long time. Somethings are helpful, while some are not, they are just observations, some opinion, and as usual, not exactly fully baked ideas – if only I had time to write full discourses on my ideas!

LIFE: Well as one of my favorite movies puts it, life really is like a box of chocolates. However, I find that the labels on the chocolates at least work as a kind of guide, as do the stereotypical labels in life, I know, I’m not suppose to like the labels, however, stereotypes exist for a reason. In 2010 I learned that some of the common “warning labels” in life are well worth it, even if others around are seemingly OK ignoring them. We still don’t really know what we’re going to get, but at least we can expect to either have nuts or not.

MINISTRY: 2010 was an interesting year of transition for myself, and family. We went from being involved in 4 ministries, to zero. Watching people, grow as people, in Christ, and with one another is a huge gift. We had originally planned to be in Poland by the end of the year we took the opportunity to hand off and step out of ministry. However, as most of you know, our plans changed dramatically when my overseas employment opportunity fizzled away. At times I miss being involved, and I still check in and watch from a distance the people I have grown to love, and at the same time it has opened up the opportunity for Alexis and I to focus on us and minister to one another and Emma before skydiving into our Poland adventure.

CHURCH: Ministry, God, Life, Church – why write about each of these separately? Well, because they distinctly different aspects of Christian life – interdependent on each other. Each aspect cultivates the others in some way or another. Church is probably the most volatile factor of all, mostly, because it depends on imperfect humanity to actually be listening and obeying God. So, inherit to this condition, mistakes happen, and people either choose to put blame on the church or a leader in the Church. One of my biggest lessons for 2010 has been, God ordained the Church, he works through the Church, and he works through imperfect humanity.

Thus, I choose not to blame the Church, rather I am constantly reminded that all of the “bad” things I see, all the frustrations I feel, and all the negative things people say about “the Church” – is mostly the same as in the world – it’s just “worse” when it’s in the Church because the expectations are high – which is kind of strange considering we are all human, so the expectations should really be equal. God sees humanity all the same, every single one of us. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is this: when we choose to see God as who he really is, and not how the world sees Him, then the Church and the world become two completely different entities. This brings so much freedom, we are empowered to love the Church and the world as equals, and live freely! Because the Church is God’s, not humanity’s.

CULTURE: I have been challenged by the idea of “Kingdom” culture more in 2010 than any other year (maybe that’s the way it works, increasing each year). Living life according to “the kingdom of heaven is like…” can be, honestly, frustrating. We live in such a culture/world that does not honor the ways of the Kingdom, and most of the time, the “Church” doesn’t recognize it either, because, as I said above, the Church is made of humans, and we humans live in this world – we don’t, naturally, live in the Kingdom. We have to be intentional about living super-natural, kingdom culture lives. Contextualizing “our culture” and “kingdom culture” is not easy, and so many  people want to react and make it black and white, when really it’s extremely colorful and requires a patient response, not knee-jerk reactions. Above all, kingdom culture requires living by the identity God has given us.

GOD: Is the same. However, I am not. I’ve realized much more about God this year, including, the incredibly amazing ability He has to comfort, to provide, to supernaturally grant forgiveness when usually it would be “black and white” to the rest of the world to say “screw you”, and a whole lot more. I’m also enjoying Him much more as a “person”, and feeling His heart more often. So much to say about just these two points – let’s just say “give me his eyes” is only the beginning of humility, and in my opinion, the way it ought to be. If you haven’t read “Blue Like Jazz” – do so, now! That song, and that book combined, literally opened my eyes and mind to see people, circumstances, crisis, humanity, in a way which I know, from deep within my soul, is how God sees and feels, and desires us to see and feel as well.

FAMILY NEWS: Since this is already getting to be a very long post, I’ll bullet point this piece.

  • Emma turned two! And she is doing all the wonderful (and amazing) things two year olds do!
  • Emma is speaking in full sentences and learning more every day. She’s also picking up on Polish pretty quickly (at least when Mom and Dad use it, and we need to use it more!)!
  • Alexis and I are looking forward to more time together, with our schedule freed up by less ministry things in our lives, we are focusing this next year on growing as a couple and as a family… yes, we hope to have another child this year!
  • Emma loves the color pink, we tried, we “vowed” to never make her a pink girl, but alas, it has happened.
  • Alexis and I doing some marriage groups at our Church, and so far, the gleaning from other couples has been terrific!
  • As always, we covet your prayers and please know, we are never to busy for you! Drop us a message, have coffee, anything, we’ll make it work!

POLAND: Although our plans changed, the ultimate destination has not, and we will be fundraising (see next section) with hopes of moving to Krakow, Poland by the end of 2011. With that said, we are more excited than before, God has shown us many things in 2010 that will make our move to Poland far powerful than we could have imagined. One new thing on the horizon is that in July we hope to have a “reverse mission trip” with a Polish family we have come to adore and love. We will be fundraising for this, and arranging time for this couple to glean from church leaders, small groups, and other ministry times, so that they can have more tools to do ministry in Poland. The primary goal is to provide a relational support network for them, and connect them to people who can be praying, and also so people here in the States can meet and get to know who we will be working alongside when we move!

FUND RAISING: If we hadn’t attended a support-raising seminar at Foursquare Missions International headquarters in LA back in November, we would be telling you we have fund-raising fatigue! But, rather, by God’s grace, we have been renewed, and starting in January we will be kicking off a full blown fund-raising season. We know that what God has asked us to do is far too important to not ask people to partner in the ministry with us, support-raising is just as much a part of the ministry as is discipling in Poland. We also know that going with 100% of our budget is the only way, if we go with less, than our ministry will be less – sure, maybe more for God to do, and although we know he moves when we can not, we also know that God can move ahead and we can be 100% supported before we go. If you want to know more, simply visit our website at www.reachpolska.info, or to begin donating now (we need people NOW) click here.

MISSIONS: My idea of  what “Missions” is has been gradually evolving, and in 2010 I think it came to look something like this:

Matthew 28:18-20 [nlt]: 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Essentially, go, expose the truth of humanity and God, disciple the people there, baptize them with a clean and pure motive to seek God, all of God. And remember, Jesus is always with us, so fear not. I know this is “over simplification” – BELIEVE me there’s a lot to this that revolves around context, culture, family, etc, but hey, we need to start with the basics and allow God to move us.

TRAVEL: In 2010 we did some traveling, in January we took a three week trip to Poland, a trip with nothing more than to build up the relationships we already had in place. It was a great time of encouragement and laying the ground work for our move.

Then in July we went to the San Juan islands of Washington State for our four year anniversary, it was fantastic and included whale watching!

Lastly, I got the opportunity to be a part of, our friend, Aris’ wedding in Frankfurt, Germany, with that trip I took the opportunity to make a quick trip to visit friends in Nowy Targ, Poland as well – both parts of the trip were incredibly God-ordained!

FINAL THOUGHTS: I like to write, but I fight myself too much on how people might react or respond… I hope people respond rather than react. I hate having to remind people that what I write isn’t a full on discourse to argue a point, but rather, it’s usually a snippet of thought, or concern, to chew on. Anyway, I pray that 2011 is full of love, grace, forgiveness, and truly new beginnings for you and all around us. Remember, there will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, no more fears, and we will see Jesus face to face – the final redemption!

Trip debrief – finally

So I’m finally able to relax a bit, nothing is planned for tonight and I’ve done enough thinking and processing about our trip that I can finally put most of it into words.  In general I feel good about it, we spent significant time with people, creating new relationships, building up our existing ones, and ministering to our closest friends there.  Overall this was the most exhausting trip for Alexis and I, due to the fact that on most days we got up at 6am and didn’t get to bed until around 10pm.  We were getting up so early because we had about a 45 minute commute (via Bus and Tram) to the language school, which was from 9:30 to 2pm each day.  While we were in school the rest of our team tried to meet up with people (not very successfully), prayed for the city and churches, and explored possible future neighborhoods for us.

Speaking of language school, now that we’ve taken nearly a week break, we know we need to get back to studying – and hopefully, God providing, taking private lessons from the director of the Polish school here in Portland.  The course was very intensive and at times frustrating, however, I think we learned the concepts and with some review, and diligence on our part, God will help us get the fundamentals in our head.

Over the course of our first week we came up against some not so explainable health issues, on the first day Alexis got sick to her stomach on the tram to school, so much so she felt she was going to faint, instead she threw up.  Unfortunately the only thing she had to throw up into was Emma’s blanket, the rest of our fellow tram passengers didn’t offer much help, either because they didn’t know how, or the language barrier froze them, or both.  Eitherway I found myself a bit upset that no one offered any help – all I could do was pray, so that’s what I did.  By the time we were at the school Alexis felt better – one of the most stressful moments of my life I think!

Then on Tuesday (I think) Charis got sick (our friend who came to help watch Emma while we were in school) and threw up all night long.  After some prayer with her home-stay host she was able to sleep in, Aris and Brandon took over Emma duty that day at school and by the afternoon Charis joined us.  By then we knew something wasn’t quite right, because there wasn’t really anyway to explain these mysterious sicknesses.  The saga continues with me getting a very strange cramping in my stomach all day Thursday, Brandon getting a nasty head-cold also on Thursday, me having cramps again on Saturday, Aris with a migraine, and when Corey and Jenise joined us on Saturday, Corey got pretty sick around their second day as well.  Through prayer and endurance we didn’t miss what God called us to do, learn the language and build relationships.

In spite of all the sickness thrown at us, and some communication mishaps, God confirmed over and over and through multiple people that the Polish people, our friends, and those that we hardly know, are encouraged, excited, and ready to have more people in Kraków to work in God’s kingdom.  Our commitment to learn the language in advance of our move has spoken volumes to the Poles – and over and over we heard “the single biggest sign that God is calling you here is that he has opened the door for you to learn Polish and you are doing it” – many other missionaries in times past have not taken this important step.  Not to compare ourselves, but to contrast the difference in preparation that we feel God is very specifically asking us to do.

Enough of me blabbering – Brandon has some great photos up on facebook, below are the public links (you don’t need Facebook to see them).




Nowy Targ

Poland Day 5

Poland Day 2

Poland Day 1

Polska w Portland

This Saturday Alexis and I (and I think some friends) will be at the Portland Polish Festival, this will be our first time there.  I’ve heard about every year and every year something has always trumped it, but this year, it’s a go!  Woot!  Can’t wait!  Then the following Saturday we’ll be flying out to Kraków!  

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our trip, and both Alexis and I are very excited, to see our friends, see what God has in store for us and them, and most of all to be in our second home.

We’re still in need of fund raising close to $3,000 (at last official count), so be praying for that.

A week in review.

I’m alive and well!

Here is an overview of what’s been going on in my life.

Wednesday 3/26/03 – CRU day trip/Call in sick because I?m lame and forgot to plan ahead.

The CRU crew met in the Woodinville Top Foods at about 8:00am, we gathered our stuff to make lunch. I made a quick call to Mission Girl, and then we headed off to Gasp Girl?s house. We then proceeded to make our lunches, which was of the most fun I?ve ever had in making a PBJ sandwich. Mission Girl called to say she was ready, so we were off to pick her up!

We leave Woodinville around 9:00am, life is happy, and we head to Mukilteo for the ferry to Whidbey Island, we then proceed to cross the 22 miles across the island to get on another ferry which will take us to our ?final? destination, or so we thought. While waiting for this ferry, we took the opportunity to worship and praise the Lord, on the quiet beaches, and in the bathroom building, it was awesome, the sun was out and the wind a little crisp. Poor mission girl hits poor tulip in the head with a rock, we pray for her, and everything is okay. The ferry boat docks and we drive up onto it. We enjoy our little ride to Port Townsend, at the departure of our vehicle we all agree we are now starving, the day has flown by and it?s a little past noon now. We drive through town, and ask directions to Hurricane ridge, which was going to be our place to eat lunch, we soon discover we are in the wrong town and need to go another 45 miles to Port Angeles, woops, so we eat lunch instead in a quaint little state park of Fort Townsend, it was great, and my car should have been videotaped for a Subaru commercial.

Lunch is over, and now we make the 45+ mile trek to Port Angeles, the drive was beautiful. God is so awesome in his creation. We start the decent to Hurricane ridge, and wow what magnificent views! Amen! Then we discover the road is closed before we can get there? well God had other plans in store for us, physical training! We find a trial head to Angels lake, 3.7 miles says the sign, okay no sweat. 13 miles later, and we read the sign again, woops, didn?t see the trail brake off earlier, and we ended up going 13 miles round trip to no where, but the snow was fun! My back was absolutely killing me for about 1/4 the trip, but all was good, God is good, and the pain went away as soon as I forgot about it!

We head back into Port Townsend for dinner and stop by a family dinner, it was cute, exactly the kind of family diner you would expect in a small town. The $7.95 8oz, baked potato, and salad special was a delight to Mission Girl and Tulip? my burger was excellent. We then trek, many miles, back to Bremerton to catch the ferry straight into downtown Seattle. The views were magnificent! The talks great! And have I ever mentioned that I LOVE SEATTLE!

We arrive at Tulip’s house, we attempt to watch a movie, but I?m exhausted, so I drop dead there on the floor. 🙂

Thursday 3/27/03 – *cough cough* I think I have the flu.

So, since I?m so exhausted from this little day trip, I call in sick to work. I went to bed at 2:00am, and I awake at 2:00pm? yikes. Didn?t do much else, Firefighter boy came over after work, and we grabbed some Starbuck?s then went to young adults, then Red Robin. God blessed my socks off with great worship, and good fellowship.

Friday 3/28/03 – *sniffle* I?m going to rest.

Well? since I?m still absolutely exhausted, I think by this time just from too much stimulation and not enough physical/mental rest, I decided to call in once more. So, this time I make my self productive, I washed all my clothes, cleaned my room, but didn?t get to the rest of the apartment, oh well? it?ll happen some day. Kind of just relaxed, and read the Word a little. When the time rolled around I went to Marysville to see Jordan Munoz in concert at a Starbucks, no cover charge! It was great, talked to Luggie rock, who I hadn?t talked to in a long while, it was good stuff. Talked to the band a little, bought there new EP, life is good! Jordan Munoz rocks this world.

Went to Snohomish after the show to pick up my roommate, then met Firefighter boy for a drink of coffee, which was good, talked a lot. Then my roommate and I headed up to a little cabin just pass Steven?s Pass to meet up with the girls, life was great, watched some stuff, of course we didn?t talk about anything profound, but that?s okay. We stayed there, Boys downstairs and Girls upstairs please pray for a couple of these friends though, I don?t know what to do, I need to talk to certain guy, but I haven?t had the opportunity.

Saturday 3/29/03 ? Leavenworth, and let?s talk about?. Relationships baby.

So we wake up and the girls, ever so gratefully serve me half a hash brown. So, now that I?ve been starved (which is completely my fault since I forgot to get food for my self) we head into Leavenworth (a barbarian town in the Cascades of Washington), which is great, it?s about seventy degrees out, I have to take my jacket off, and we have lunch in a little diner, where I have one of the best French dips I?ve ever had in a long time. We also get Ice Cream and here from our friend in Australia, it?s awesome. We then head home promptly afterwords.

When I return home I have coffee with a very special women of God, and we talk about her relationship with a certain great man of God, it?s great. I love Christian relationships because of the communication, I just pray that some of my friends understand the awesome things which come out of Godly advice, and seeking it!

Sunday 3/30/03 ? Church, fellowship

Pretty much a standard Sunday for me, get up (and actually be on time, unlike the other 6 days of the week). Go to church were our pastor continues his series on Judgment and Discernment, which is great, ask me about it! Then of course a large chunk of us from the young adults group goes out to lunch. Then we go and see a movie, Tears of the Sun GO SEE IT! It?s absolutely amazing! Made me want to be a missionary even more.

After the movie we get this random idea to go to the Kirkland waterfront to worship, it was great, very great! We end up meeting this group of Russian immigrants from an Everett area church. They sing for us some Russian worship music, they sing with us in stuff we both know, it was great. This is what the unity of the Body of Christ should look like! The Holy Spirit was so there, AMEN.

Monday 3/31/03 ? Work, and the Holy Spirit.

I go to work, late of course. Good day at work though productive, and get my back log all cleared up. I then go straight home to grab my bible, then I go to Firefighter boy?s house, and we head up to Camano Island, yeah that?s a long way to go for a Men?s group. This group was great; the Holy Spirit was there in a way I hadn?t really experienced before. Although I can?t find scripture to back up everything which happened there, instead of freaking out about it, I listened to the Holy Spirit. I was being told to just listen and be still, to be my self, and to be moved by God. It was an amazing experience. Praise the lord Jesus. Because I listened I was able to be blessed instead of distracted and upset.

Tuesday 4/1/03 ? Work, School, Worship.

Well, I had breakfast with the CRU crew (at least some of them), and it was great, a great way to start off what?s going to be an awesome quarter. Thanks guys, you are awesome! I?m so excited for this public speaking class, it was great! I?m a little scared too. Our first assignment is to ?perform? a poem, after clearance from the professor, I?m going to ?perform? Switchfoot?s ?Meant to live? and ?This is your life?, I am stocked! The concert is tomorrow! When I got home from a good day of work, I needed to print out advertisements for CRU and for a roommate (please pray for this, we still need one). After returning from campus to do that stuff, I talked to my roommate who is moving out, it was a little on the rocky side, I was just trying to figure out why he?s moving out when he said he wouldn?t until we found a roommate, but I guess I should just let it go, I know the Lord will make good of this and all will be fine.

So, I went to Badger?s house, it was fun, had great worship, and got to hang with a good friend of mine, she needs prayer, physical healing and a convicted sense of where to go. Amen, God is good. Thank God for the body of Christ, Brothers, and Sisters, Amen.