Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Too Small and Too Busy

I have learned that if I am giving directions to our house I can't say "it's across the street from the cemetery".
Not only is it not helpful, I do not want to use the word "cemetery", it creeps me out.
I would much rather say, park, we live across the street from the park.
Fact: Creepy or not, it is the closest landmark.

I can see the wheels start turning and the blank stare.
I quickly start to add other landmarks like the tiny church right next door, hoping not too lose them.
Still, nothing registers.
I start throwing out things that I hope will hook them like, if you get to the stop light you have gone too far and there is a white car and white pick-up truck parked in the car port.

Alas, no one ever notices the church or the cemetery and have no idea what I am talking about.
I often wonder, why don't people see them, they drive past them all of the time?
Are people really that busy?
Are they really too small?

Every once and awhile, I glance out the front window and notice a random car sitting in the tiny church parking lot.
Without fail, I wonder, why is that car there today, it isn't Sunday.
Next thought, is today Wednesday?
Then I remember, oh, the cemetery.
My heart sinks.
It stops me every time.
They are there because someone died.

When we moved in our house it seemed creepy living across the street from a cemetery.
I hate to admit it but, unless I see a car parked there, I don't even notice it anymore either.
I don't even find it creepy.
It is now a good reminder that we need to stop.
Stop, even if it isn't Sunday or Wednesday and spend some time thinking, honoring and reflecting.
Our lives are short and go by quickly.
Hopefully, we make choices that allow our lives to matter so that the only reminder of our lives isn't a tiny little cemetery that no one notices.
It is my hope that my life will be a "place of direction for those who are looking" while I am alive.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tithe and Popcorn

We have a rule at our house about going to the movies.
This rule came about after the first time we wanted to "treat" everyone to a movie and the total bill was over a hundred dollars.

We now "wait" for movies to come to the dollar theater or Redbox.
Even at the dollar theater, we tend to break the rules because we"bring-in" all of the "goodies" to save a few bucks.
Well, more than a few, it is more like fifty bucks for drinks, popcorn and candy.
We do tend to buy popcorn so we don't look obvious.

It is a pretty rare occasion that we go to a "special" movie with the kids and really go over the top with popcorn and drinks.

Have you been at the movies, gotten everybody everything they wanted, gotten everyone seated and think to yourself, "Well, maybe I would like some popcorn after all".
You ask one of your kids for some of their popcorn.
You made the choice not to get any because it was too expensive, only to have them give you a dirty look and say, NO, it's mine!

You hold your tongue (hopefully), get an inch away from their face so the whole place won't hear the lecture.
This is when you say to your kid, "Look, if I wouldn't have wanted to bless you, you wouldn't be sitting here in this movie, with your very own popcorn, your very own candy and your very own drink!!
I didn't ask you for all of it, I asked you for a few handfuls!
Are we on the same page!!
Now fork over the popcorn!

To me, this is the perfect picture of how we can look at tithe or the lack of tithe.
I don't think the Lord has the whole attitude thing goin' on, but maybe this is how the Lord feels when we don't tithe.
Yet, when we do tithe we can't begin to figure out how the economy of God really works.
We always end up getting way more back in return.
I always look at it like a farmer planting seed.
Yes, I know that there is a whole group of people in the church today who don't believe in "tithe".
It's legalistic, it's old Testament...yada, yada, yada.
I know, I have heard it all.
You can give "offerings" when you feel like it because God is such a nice guy that he is good with it all because that's just how nice of a guy he really is.
He did say, prove me in this.

So here is my example of tithe...

Last week, we needed to pay twelve dollars tithe on a plumbing job Dan did.
I made our check out for an even twenty dollars and put it in the offering.
The very next day, I went to a garage sale at an interior decorator's house and she sold me all of this fabric for twenty dollars.
Maybe it was coincidence that I just happened to stop, she just happened to have all this fabric and she didn't have any of it priced and sold it to me for a fraction of what it was worth.

Maybe, but, over the years things like this have happened to me time and time again.

I think He enjoys a couple of handfuls of popcorn as well, not to mention the acknowledgement of the blessing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where Are We At Now?

One of the greatest lessons we are been learning since we moved back from Haiti live WELL where we are at.
By "well", I don't mean "well-off", I mean embracing this time and the people in front of us, without regret or wishing to "be" some place different. I mean learning to just "be" and know that this is the right thing for now.
To rest, to have fun, to take a deep breath and know that this is a good time in our lives.

Truthfully, it has been hard to not feel displaced or in limbo.
On many levels we don't feel like this is home, yet, it is, because this is where we are from and where we are at for now.

Everything has changed, we have changed, church has changed and all the "stuff" still seems overwhelming and pointless at times.

If someone asked "what is the theme in your life right now?"
What would you say?
I would say, God's Faithfulness.
It seems like over and over again, He keeps showing up in such amazing ways.
I feel like it should be obvious by now.
I admit, it still leaves me speechless at times.
How all of this "just happened"!

We are a family who proclaims to be Christians and have served full-time on the mission field and plan to return some day.
Shouldn't we be full of faith by now?
We do know and have seen many of these great acts of faith, yet, there is still a sweetness to God that makes us so aware that He is really on our side, that he has a plan and hasn't forgotten us or the desires of our hearts.

For instance, over a year ago I was in Minnesota speaking at a fundraiser.
While in Minnesota, Dan and I went with his brother Mike to visit some of his friends who happen to be Hutterite's.
We went to see what they had been up to and learn more about them and spend time with Mike.
Turns out they have had a heart for Haiti for a long time and wanted to help us.
They had tons of fabric that they had wanted to give us for the sewing school, but we didn't really have a way to get it all to Haiti.
All 3000 pounds that is.
All this time, the fabric has been sitting in a warehouse in Minnesota waiting for a ride to Haiti.

Last week we got an email from John in Haiti, it seems Big Zach (Real Hope For Haiti) had a container in Minnesota that wasn't full and they needed to fill it.
Could we help?
Dan made a few phone calls, Mike made a few phone calls and guess what!
With the help of Mike, Joel and a few other people the container was full with furniture, kitchen cabinets, fabric and rice.

Again, I am reminded that it is a "living" hope that we have.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Even before the earthquake I often thought how similar the Haitian people are to the children of Israel.

A displaced people...
A chosen people...
A people given provision they are not happy with...
A people always looking for a new leader...
A people who never seems to get to the "Promise Land" and now...

A people who live in tents.

Tent cities are not a new part of what is happening in Haiti today.
There have always been the very, very poor who lived in tents.
In many cultures people live in tents and it doesn't speak of a displaced people.
We use tents on vacation when we go camping.
And yet, I can't imagine a life in a tent.
At the risk of sounding unkind, some of the tents people are living in today are better then the houses they used to live in before the quake.
It isn't a judgement thing, it is just the truth about how poor Haiti really is.

Haitians have an ability to adapt to things like I have never seen.
In truth, it will be a trick in getting people to move out of the tents on their own.
What we would only consider to be temporary, will do just fine for many years for some.
This is not a Haitian thing, it is a people thing, it is called...

com·pla·cen·cy: a feeling of security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation.

This is my prayer for Haiti...
I pray we will help them find their voice.
A voice that will cry out for justice and that some day, just like it says in Isaiah 33:20, they will live in a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken.
I pray for restoration and hope.
I pray that the world will not become complacent.
Not for Haiti, nor any of the other nations needing to find their voice.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Aaron!

It's crazy to have a kid who is twenty-eight today considering that I am only twenty-nine!
He will always be that little blonde headed boy who loved "Kermit" and never wanted to get his hands dirty.
He is a grown up, living in Austin with dreams of L.A. and an acting career.
May all your dreams come true!
Happy Birthday Aaron!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Sunrise from Boutilier in Haiti.
I am not a big fan of getting up before the sun - ever!
However, this is one thing I am willing to get up for and enjoy!
Easter Sunrise Service....I missed having Easter in Haiti this year.
We would get up before the sun, make our way up the mountain to be with others from our church family.
It was one of the few times we would be "cold" in Haiti.
We would sing, have a simple service and pray for Haiti.
After our service we would have a simple breakfast of coffee, hard boiled eggs and bananas.
This year would be different for us and for Haiti.
The meaning of Easter seems even more important now and my heart was so very thankful for what Easter really means.

We wish you a very Happy Easter filled with the HOPE that we have in the cross and the life of Jesus.

Dan, Sheila, Alyssa, Madisen and Parker

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Offerings, Both Big and Small.....

There has been so much given to help Haiti over the last few months it is hard to comprehend.
So many giving, helping, praying and believing for a better Haiti.
There seems to be a debte about what to do with all of it.
I keep thinking, rainy season is quickly approaching and you are still "talking"!
I find myself saying, that's normal for Haiti!
Yet, it shouldn't be "normal" for anyone - ever!
I heard, one out of every two households in America has given money to help Haiti.
That is amazing!
We have been blessed by so many acts of kindness.....both big and small.
Thank you!

I loved getting this...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter....Plastic Bread

Easter Sunday morning at Boutilier, Haiti 2009

As I drove Maddie home from school on Friday she asked if we would be going to church.
Yes, we always go on Friday night, this was Good Friday, it's part of Easter.
Are they going to have Communion?
I guess they will.
Ugh! I am not doing it!
They are going to have plastic bread!
I can do plastic gum and candy, but NOT bread!

We had a good laugh -

I explained it was only symbolic.
She said, they should get another symbol.
Mom, even in Haiti we had real bread.

So much can be said about what our children see and learn about what we do and don't ever really think about.