Saturday, May 29, 2010

Paring Down

Things are moving ever more quickly toward our upcoming move to Des Moines and Grace Church.  Thursday marked my last official day in the office here, and Friday Mal and I held our second (and final) garage sale.  Everything left-over was loaded into my truck and hauled-off to donate.  It took two trips, and the second time we showed-up, the volunteer helping us asked with obvious incredulity, "Did all this come out of one house?"  He really would have been amazed if he'd seen everything we'd sold before we started hauling!

Seriously, it's amazing how much "stuff" we'd accumulated.  An estimator for a moving company once told me that teachers were some of the worst in terms of the quantity of stuff they accumulate.  She also told me that preachers are right next to teachers--both professions necessitate lots of files, books, etc.  Add to that my natural proclivity to be a pack rat, and you end-up with a BUNCH of stuff!  Anyway, we've reduced things by probably a third, and we're well on our way toward packing it all.  There's still a lot to be done, but, fortunately, we've still got some time before we actually begin loading.

It really feels good to get rid of so much that we don't need anymore (if ever we did need it).  It's made me wonder what unneeded practices, habits or ideas I've accumulated over the years.  It turns out that moving provides the perfect opportunity for taking stock of oneself.  As much as it helps to get rid of physical stuff, I can only imagine what it will be like to get rid of those things that weigh me down spiritually.  What an adventure life is!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blessings Shared

Our congregation recently hosted a vist from the Children of the World international children's choir, a ministry of World Help.  Composed of 15 children from Nepal, Uganda and the Philippines, the group shared in both morning worship services, then did a full concert in the evening.  The children did a beautiful job, on all three occasions, of sharing the joy and peace they have through knowing Christ as Lord and Savior.

But I want you to know, too, of the response of the people of Old North Church.  By day's end, 61 children around the world had received sponsors.  Beyond that, an offering of over $8,000 was received to help fund clean water in Africa.  At a monthly sponsorship of $30/month, that's a total of $30,000 given/pledged over the next 12 months--in just one day!

Way to go Old North!  That kind of generosity and dedication to making a difference across the street and around the world will pay rich dividends in lives saved and souls won to Christ.  Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grace Bound

So, obviously, the Mac hasn't improved my posting least not by much, anyway.  Oh, well!

For those who haven't yet heard, our family is on the move.  In mid-June, we're planning a move to Des Moines, IA and Grace Church.  We've been out there a couple of times now, most recently this last week. We're excited by what we've seen and what God has in store, but we're not looking forward to saying "So long!" to friends here in Ohio.

The last few years have been very significant and eventful for our family, and our friends at Old North have been very supportive. As they've heard of our plans, they've continued to be encouraging, especially as they learn that this move will put us within just a few hours of family in MO and OK.  My deepest thanks to them all!

As I said, though, we're more and more excited about the opportunities God is opening there at Grace.  The more chances we have to meet people and better understand the heart of the church, the more we can imagine some of what God has in store--and the more excited we become!  Stay tuned for details as God reveals them!

It looks to be another very exciting summer for the Simpson family.  We're looking forward to having Em and Mal back this way in a few weeks (Em for a week and Mal for the whole summer).  Em and Brock are hoping to join us in Iowa for the 4th of July, and Kim and Bobby are planning toward a visit later in the summer.  Brenda may actually get a chance to help Mal move into her new apartment at school this fall. Because of the distance, it's an opportunity she's never had.

Your prayers as we move would be greatly appreciated.  There are, of course, all the details of packing, loading, driving, etc.  Beyond that, Brenda is seeking a teaching position in an area that is currently dealing with significant education cutbacks, so your prayers on that count are especially appreciated.  God will provide, though, and we rest in that fact.

After we moved to Ohio a few years ago, I became aware of a few lines from a song that really expressed what I was feeling at the time..."It's frightening to be swimming in this strange sea, but I'd rather be here than on land."  Transitions aren't always easy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Something to think about...

First, I know I promised more from Vancouver. I'll try to deliver on that soon, but first, I want to share the following from Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. It hit me right between the eyes. Hope it speaks to you, as well:

I think Jeremiah 1:12 is one of the greatest promises in Scripture: “I am watching over my word to perform it.” Most stress is caused by a lack of trust. We don’t trust God to do His job. Why? We’re control freaks. But here is the problem: we can’t do what God has called us to do. Only God can do it. And He will do it. He is watching over His word to perform it.

Take a deep breath. Now let it out. That is the effect Jeremiah 1:12 has on me. Takes all the pressure off of me! I constantly remind myself that I cannot do it. And in some strange way, it helps me relax. It also keeps me in a place of raw dependence upon God. And that is the most peaceful and powerful place on the planet.

Does any of that grab you? I’ll tell you which phrase caught my attention: We can’t do what God has called us to do. “Of course we can,” I thought. But as I reflect on it, no, we really CAN’T do what GOD’S called us to do. We can do lots of things, lots of good things, in fact. But the things GOD calls us to do can only be done in His strength.

So, if I’m doing things in my own strength, am I doing what GOD’S called me to do, or what I’ve chosen to do? Something to think about.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update from Vancouver

Yesterday was our first journey downtown together, though Kim and Bobby had been down there a time or two already. Kim and I headed that way mid-day and caught up with Bobby and one of his childhood friends who was in town for a day or two. After a quick bite at McDonalds, we headed to the Rusky Dom (the Russian Pavilion). It was only a short wait to get in, and it was pretty cool. Russia will be hosting the 2014 Winter Games, so much of what we saw was promo for that. One really neat thing, though, was a short line we happened upon. We checked it out promptly joined the queue. Here's what it led to:

Yes, that's a genuine Olympic torch we're holding! At the Rusky Dom, no less!

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the Saskatchewan Pavilion (got our picture taken with a real Canadian Mountie), passing Canada Hockey Place (some interesting sights outside the arena there), and generally having a good time downtown. Then we headed to BC Place for the Vancouver Victory Ceremony (aka "Medals Ceremony"). We ended-up sitting TWO ROWS from the Mountie honor guard that raised the flags for each set of winners. We witnessed only the second gold medal ever awarded a Canadian on Canadian soil (the place was pretty pumped!), and we got to see, via a video link to Whistler, Lindsey Vonn receive her gold. All in all, it was a huge day!

Today, we're headed back downtown to see the Olympic Cauldron (should get a better view now that the "Free the Torch" campaign has yielded results) and ride a trolley to Granville Island. Then (hopefully) we're going to go help make signs for a children's outreach we're helping with on Saturday. Which leads me to...

I've been so impressed with the ministry I've seen taking place all around. Yesterday, alone, we saw a Gospel of John distribution in what appeared to be 12-15 different languages, we passed the Salvation Army distributing free coffee, and we were approached by a Jews for Jesus volunteer. It's very encouraging to see so much going on. Join me in praying that, through it all, God will be glorified and many will be drawn to Him!

Well, time to get ready to head back out. More to come!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vancouver, here I come!

I'm posting this from my hotel in Seattle as I prepare to board a shuttle later today for Vancouver, BC. Our oldest daughter, Kim, lives and works there, and I'm finally getting a chance to visit! Can't wait to see her, and I can't wait to see Vancouver, especially this week! We're planning to be at the medal ceremony Wednesday night of this week and catch any free Olympic stuff we can find along the way.

I'll try to post some pics later this week.

Until then, U-S-A, U-S-A!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

OK, the new MacBook hasn't quite inspired me to post everyday (obviously), but two weeks is still pretty least for me, anyway.

So last night's forecast called for 5"-7" of snow (part of "Snowmeggadon" or "The Winter Powerhouse" that buried the east coast). When we got up this morning, this is what we found--

Obviously, these Ohio inches are much thicker than those I've seen in other places! Some South Florida friends suggested (via FaceBook) that I "grab a good book." I guess settling in by the fireplace and reading a "good book" would be nice, but since we don't have a fireplace and we've got to be able to get to church tomorrow, I spent the better part of the day moving snow, one of my new "least favorite things."

Oh well, such is life in NE Ohio. All joking aside, it was much worse over Virginia way. At least we don't have anybody without power (that I know of , anyway). Hope it's warm where you are, and, if that's not the case, I hope you're able to stay warm and safe.