Friday, November 30, 2012


       Did you know that the Basque are the OLDEST surviving ethnic group in all of Europe?  Or that scholars have yet to discover the exact orgin of the Basques?  Did you know their language, Euskara, is considered a language isolate?  It is not linked to any other language root in the world.  The Basque country (north, west Spain and into the south of France) is bordered by the Pyrenees mountains and the Bay of Biscay.  This may be why they were able to be isolated and unconquered for so long.  Are you getting curious yet?

The Wonder of it All

"And is this the art of life-to keep awake to the wonders in His Word and this world?"
-Ann Voskamp

       We ran breathless up the station ramp, the double decker one, to reach the train before it pulled away.  A long freight carrying over 100 cars.   In our haste to get to it we didn't realize it was only inching forward with it's heavy load.  Suddenly it screeched, heaved again and abruptly stopped groaning as if it was dying on the tracks.  Still and now silent,  it filled up our whole view on the station platform.  We waited while I warned, Ian on my hip, for the older boys to stand back, it was sure to lurch forward at any moment.  We had never been so close.  
Only a broad yellow paint line infront of the drop off separated us from the frieght.  Ten minutes past and it didn't move.  We walked up and down it reading graffiti marks and examining the steel wheels.  I let Ian down warning them all again to not go near the worn paint line, to not touch the grimy sides of the box cars.  

Ian excited, chattered only words he could understand and walked up the platform slightly ahead of us.  Then, Ian slowed and stopped staring at something on the ground.  It was near the stone wall and massive plate windows.  The windows ran along the entire platform and all the way up to the overhang.  It was dead bird in the shape of a heart, wings folded and head to the side.  It must have just flown into the window breaking its neck while we were further down the platform.  My instinct was to move Ian and the boys along, away from the broken bird.  But Ian was mesmerized.  He thought it was sleeping.  He stood silent and wide eyed.  This thing that had only fluttered way out of reach of his chubby fingers  was now lying still at his feet.  He stared and whispered, hushed and thoughtful.   He didn't try to touch it or get too close.  He sat and looked down at his hands and back at the bird trying to figure out why this one didn't fly away.  A moment earlier I was snapping pictures of happy boys framed by a large boxcar behind them.  I snapped a picture now of this moment.  I had never seen Ian wear this expression, this body language.  His little hands resting on folded knees so calm.       
It was wonder, unanswered and unexplained that stilled him.  For me to explain why the bird was lying at his feet, why it couldn't fly, would have offered nothing to the moment.  He didn't need it explained to know it was sacred.  I love answers.  Days and blog posts that tie up neatly.  Weeks planned and lived out with a checklist in hand.  Lost in the busy rush of the days I forget to stop and look at God's world with wonder.  Especially the parts that are broken and damaged.  I rush past the moments that should have been something else, something better.   Struggle to look with awe at every twig and feather much less the muddy bare spots in the yard.  Can I stop and wonder.  Stop and praise a God who created, and gives and takes every moment we breath in and out.  

 I hope you get to stand in wonder of His gifts today.  I pray that God opens your eyes to see the way He creates beauty in all things even the broken ones.  I want to approach each day knowing it is a gift to be lived out intentionally, with joy and wonder.  Wonder that is not made up of naivety or  choosing to not see what is hard in this life.  But choosing to see it with new eyes.  Stopping to look at what He is doing and has already given.  And being able to say it is good because it is from Him. 

  Against all the hard cold steel, we were suprised to see bright green grass
growing from clumps of dirt on several of train cars.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the
heavenly lights,
who does not change like
shifting shadows." 
James 1:17

Heading back to the van, our five minute stop turned an hour long.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Donostia, Basque

Go ahead and google Basque Country!  We had to when we got the first e-mail.  But be careful, what began as curiosity for us has unraveled into a wild adventure.  Isn't it amazing that over a year ago we had never even heard of the country we are moving our life of three boys to?  Even if you are better versed in geography than we were take a peek.  It is one of the most amazing, dynamic, and culturally mysterious places on Earth.  Our heart strings have already begun to be tied.  We are currently at 20% raised in support.  That is based on a three year committment and with the knowledge that 90% must be raised to be able to leave in June.  When I fisrt started fundraising Jeff Hall from International Younglife kept saying, "It is all about God doing a work in people, it is all about relationship and not about money."  Funny to hear that when looking at the European sized budget.  But he has been proven right every time we meet with someone to share the vision.  We will not go alone.  We will not go with one big check written because some one can.  But with many people joining with us to share who God is and His deep love with the Basque people.  Thank you for reading and praying and asking questions along with us!  Here is a picture of the city we would be moving to: Donostia, Basque/Spain. 


"...the secret I have only now just learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots.  But you can't do that until your life has grown roots."  -John Green
     My blue bottle is a common vessel filled with an even more common clipping.   I bought it for less than a dollar and it has moved with us from place to place.  Every Spring I cut some green off the side hedge that grows unruly and put some in my blue bottle.  The clippings get tossed every two weeks or when the leaves edges turn brown.  It wasn't until an art lesson this past winter that I realised that I hadn't tossed the clipping in the bathroom out in a while.  Eight eager students, oil pastel in hand were ready to draw the blue bottle and green leaves for a still life.  As I was setting it down the light above the table pierced through the cobalt blue to reveal a tangle of roots.  I tried to remember the last time I had put new clipping in.  I remembered the countless times wiping down the smudged sink, finger prints and mud.  I remembered filling it with more water while yelling to the boys to wash the sink after they wash their hands.  It had been at least six months I was sure.  That winter and following spring I continued to wipe down the sink and add more watter to the blue bottle.  I now lifted the bottle to the light each time to see if the roots were still growing.  A year and a half later it is still alive, roots growing and green leafed.
 I cannot paint a more clear picture of what the past years have been like here in Culpeper, Va.  We moved here to start Young Life ten years ago.  We drove through this small sleepy town with a five month old and a five year commitment.  I remember asking if we had to stay the whole five years.  I remember Jeff grabbing my hand and smiling.  And then the ministry started, and more importantly the relationships started.  God began to weave many high school kids,  their parents, and friends into our hearts and lives.  I joke that our front door should be a revolving door.  Luke and Levi have asked why the girls come cry and talk on the couch for hours while the guys stand outside and talk for ten minutes.  We have seen nine graduations, a new high school built, and new start ups.  New leaders, countless camp trips, and early morning bible studies.  We had a Levi, a house fire, a renovation, and an Ian.  And all that time our roots grew.  You don't notice the roots grabbing deep the earth around you.  It happens unseen, quietly.  The green leaves and fruit are way more visible.  

The storms that shake and bring doubt are more distracting.  But all that time they grew.  People have asked why we are leaving.  The work is not done.  It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to be moving on to what God has next.  That the work will never be done until we are called home.  Leaving is easier knowing that roots were securely  planted.  Lives were changed and God did His work in us and through us and will continue to even after the blue bottle is packed up.  God is calling us to grow deep roots where He has placed us.  Most of the time it happens slowly while relationships grow and get tested.  While we tend gardens or have to work in the field.  During the warm spring months or the bitter winter storms. 

 I pray that you are growing deep roots right now.  Right where you are.  I pray that your roots grow deep in relationship with God and each other. And that when He does call you into a new place you will leave behind something of value.  Something that makes leaving a little easier because it will grow even after you are gone.

"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ."
Ephesians 3:17&18