Monday, December 14, 2009

finals

Hey folks,

Just a quick note... Pete has finals this week and we'd really appreciate your prayers and encouragement. He'll be done Friday. In the meantime, there's a lot of coffee intake, flash cards, reading, praying, coffee... you get the point.

Hope you're all having a great week and are looking forward to Christmas!

Kassie

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the search

Hi folks,

Amidst the ads around this time of year to buy, buy and buy more, we are inundated with pressure to find and receive the "perfect" gift. Sometimes it's a good idea to silence those voices by surrounding yourself in a time you will remember in the beauty of God's creation.
Richard Foster in "Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth", suggests that getting closer to creation, and enjoying things we don’t possess or control, such as natural areas, are two important ways to pursue simplicity.

I just stumbled across this really amazing link provided by the National Wildlife Federation called Nature Find: "Get Outdoors Wherever You Are."

http://www.nwf.org/naturefind/

Just type in your zip code, specify a radius of "x" miles, and it takes you to all the nearby natural areas appearing on a clickable map. (You may have to zoom in a fair bit on the map to space them out). From national parks, to state parks, to tiny 2 acre local non-profit preserves, you can find someplace to get outdoors near you that you may never have heard of.

Here's to getting outside!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanks





"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." -Hebrews 12:28
The plates were stacked, the silverware rolled and the tables prepared for the feast. Early afternoon, a few friends crossed our threshold, bearing food contributions for us all to enjoy... together.
Friends and Family, our hearts are filled with gratitude for you being present in our lives. It is amazing to consider how so many of us are a part of the same spiritual family, and that our fellowship will continue throughout the ages awakening more and more to the fullness of the glorious and great God. His kindness and magnitude are such mysteries. It doesn't seem like enough, but for Him we are grateful most of all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

spirit the dog


"Spirit"
(No, I am not making a statement with this name. It is simply her name. And I did not give it to her. :)

Look at this little joker. One blue eye, crazy huge ears. She is part german shepherd, part husky. No, she is not a part of our family, but she almost was! We spotted this beauty on the Brother Wolf Canine Rescue website. (brotherwolfcaninerescue.org) Thankfully, she found a forever home last Sunday.

If you haven't figured it out, we love dogs. They are incredible in so many ways- they are intricate, beautiful creatures. This is not be a post about how wonderful dogs are. And if you're wondering if this is to pull at your heartstrings, get you in touch with your inner dog-lover, or even to encourage you to rescue a dog... well, maybe. If you think you can provide a loving home for a creature that is in need, go for it. If not, please don't. Instead, encourage those you know who can provide that. I am thinking about this because of an unfortunate experience this week.

I heard a speaker, whom I greatly admire, specifically discourage the endeavor to help our canine neighbors. His argument, in short, was that children are so much more important. We should focus our energy, our money, our overall efforts towards rescuing kids. While I wholeheartedly agree with the fight for the orphan and unborn children of the world- it is, in my opinion, the greatest issue of justice of our time. However, when did helping children in need automatically rule out helping the creatures of the earth? Unfortunately, I have heard this argument often. I will try not to ramble, but let me just say the word "Genesis". I will not begin to argue that creatures are more important than humans. I do NOT believe that. Though I do not think the LEVEL of importance is really the issue. I will, however, remind us of the Creation story and that creatures of the land, sky and sea are mentioned and their existence is certainly very important. Genesis 1:24, "And God said, "let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

I must admit, I fought the urge to capitalize the entire word "good". The text goes on to say that He created "male and female". To paraphrase, God blessed them, told them to increase in number and to rule over the earth and all that is in it. Yes, it says "rule". It does not say, however, to be apathetic towards, to discourage the care of, or to condone the abuse of or to neglect. As a bonus, I think the same could be said of the land, water and sky themselves, but I will spare you the whole of my soap box. Not to mention the incredible, praise-provoking balance and dependence of earth elements and creatures that make up eco-systems that help support life, including that of humans, including kids in need. (Or maybe I will mention it. :) Plants, creatures and humans were all created on the same "day"... all forms of life. This is incredible and hardly coincidental. I don't think anything about God's Creation process was coincidental.

Genesis 2:19-20, "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man (Adam) to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." My thoughts: why should they have names? does this mean they are important enough to have names? is this the first account of humanity's creative expression, connecting with this aspect of the character of God? why should Adam name them?

Regardless, I think this may be suggesting that there is something important between humankind and creatures of the earth. From the beginning, there was an established relationship between them, and it was initiated by God.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

a holy experience


photo credit: Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp- gifted writer and photographer, honest mother, vulnerable child of God allows others into her world, her thoughts, her hopes. She does this by her own blog, which I have found very inspiring. You can visit her insights at:

http://www.aholyexperience.com

Monday, November 9, 2009

bowls of goodness






Mmmmmm. Doc Chey's on Biltmore Avenue. We don't eat out much, but when we do... we migrate towards Doc Chey's! I'm talking, 9 times out of 10.

My favorite: Tofu Fried Rice. Pete's favorite(s): Spicy Thai Basil and Chinese Black Bean. These bowls of yummy, starchy goodness are oh so satisfying. If anyone knows of any in-home recipes that you think might measure up, I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, I will not even pretend to use the chopsticks. I am a fan of the fork.

When we splurge, we go for an appetizer of either Thai Shrimp Rolls or Thai Basil Rolls.

Hours of Operation:
Sunday – Tuesday: 11:30 am – 10 pm
Wednesday: closed (To my dismay.)
Thursday: 11:30 am – 10 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 am – 11 pm

You can also find Doc Chey's in Athens, Emory, VA Highlands, Grant Park (coming Feb. 2010) and Greenville, SC!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

all must be right in the world



You know those moments of bliss- fleeting moments when all must be right in the world? It may be directly following a task where you know you did well, you delivered, you "gave it your all". It may be those first few moments in the morning when the entire house is silent... the only noise around is the buzzing of the refrigerator (which you just don't notice anymore) and the noise of silence, stillness itself. It may be those minutes your child cuddles more when he or she is waking up. It may be as simple as tasting a perfect, sun-ripened strawberry and you are surprised! I have experienced a few of those moments recently, and I just wanted to share them with you. There is nothing exciting or extraordinary about the surrounding circumstances. No awards have been given, no competition has been won, no mountain has been climbed. Just full, almost incomprehensible moments in time experienced.

It seems as though the Fall season lends itself to these moments. I wrapped up a family photo session at the WNC Arboretum a few weeks ago and was headed to my car to leave. I thank God for lifting my eyes up from the path I was hurriedly walking to take in a gorgeous landscape... complete with the sun's warmth, billowing clouds hovering a gentle, sloping mountain speckled with rusty reds, pumpkin oranges and dull golden tones. Somehow the mountain met a line of trees in transformation, and the ground was littered with drifting leaves, advancing toward me thanks to the breeze. It literally took my breath away. This still, full moment. I quickly offered thanks to the Creator, knowing my thanks just wasn't enough.

It happened again. I was on my way home a week or so later, and for a split second as I turned onto our street my eyes were directed to a flat, open field- appearing lime green because of the moon's melodious glow. It was the harvest moon. Something about its fullness and size made me feel a sense of completion. It seemed large and close enough that I could just reach up and scoop it out of the sky. It was unreal looking and framed by, of course, trees in transformation. My breath-gone. My mind, after a day of running the never-ending list of errands, calm.

There have been other moments. Some that you can relate to, some that you can't.
They have each been applauded by a resounding chorus of sighs pushed forward by a thankful disposition. I am sure this chorus is not enough, and somehow I am sure that it is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

cool link

I personally think this is pretty cool...
It is a link to the launch Sunday service for Canvas.


http://www.highlandchristian.com/canvas.html



Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

in a home



I wanted to give an update, as several of you are wondering where we are in the Canvas process...

The Canvas community is in the process of "shaking out". We have held both one-on-one and corporate meetings the last three weeks to further flesh out the vision and answer questions. In essence, those who have shown interest (since the launch at our home church) are in the process of deciding whether or not to become the core of Canvas. Regardless, we are moving forward with the small group of those who are committed. We are entering the "get to know you" process and will begin learning and worshipping together in a home.

This journey, of course, has already held its joys and obstacles. Please continue to pray for us as we desire to walk in a unified direction. Trust with us in the God who authors all things.

to tell the story



The leaves around here are telling their story of change.
So too have I been thinking about my own story of transformation, of reconciliation.

This is a pretty hot topic around our house- sharing the story of Christ in our lives with one another and then wondering how best to tell it to others. Growing up, I thought evangelism was about having a prepared, apologetic argument in defense of the gospel. On one hand, it was simple (sort of). I could memorize scripture and catchy quotes of amazing Christian leaders of my day, guide/manipulate the conversation in the direction of God and be ready to deliver "aha" thoughts and questions that would supposedly cause the other to realize the truth about God and give their life to Christ immediately. It was controlled. It was purely intellectual and calculated.
On the other hand, this terrified me. I questioned if I had the mind or the courage it took to perform such a feat- with each person I came in contact with, day after day.

It seems as though the leaves tell... it's as if they can't help it. But maybe it's the change that tells its own story, upon the canvas of the leaf.

Now, I'm not trying to convince us all to never speak of God and His redemptive plan directly, boldly, intentionally. But perhaps we should pray to be shut up. Perhaps we should actually get out of the way of God telling His story upon the canvas of ourselves. Maybe it can really be that simple. And because of Him making joy and hope evident in our lives will we have the opportunity to answer why.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"they" do!



Pete had the honor of officiating the wedding for our friends Molly & Dave on Sunday! I had the privilege of photographing it... I know we should go on the road, right?!

Anyways, everything about it was incredible- the overcast day (perfect for photography), the mountain view, the community of family and friends in attendance, the obvious love shared between them. I could go on and on. In short, however, we truly enjoyed being a part of their sacred celebration.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

canvaschurch.org



We are excited to announce that the website for the church plant is live!


Over the next few weeks, the site will really fill out with different multi-media elements, and the social network site will also come into fruition. We are very thankful to our friends and fellow brothers and sisters who have donated their time and artistic talents to get this endeavor off the ground.

Also, last Sunday was our official launch! After Pete wonderfully encouraged us all to be a part of God's Kingdom movement (however that may look like), he presented the vision and practical next steps of Canvas to our home church here in Asheville. Pastor Shannon invited members to join our efforts. A hand full of people responded, eager to learn more about how to become involved.

With this, we really need your prayers. Please pray that Pete and I and other team members will know how to effectively and consistently communicate the next steps of Canvas. Please also pray for wisdom. Pete especially feels the importance (and weight) of shepherding this new community. Please pray for divine direction from God whom we are continuing to trust. We are meeting with those interested in becoming the Canvas community the next 2 Sundays.

Lastly, as church responsibilities are revving up, so are school demands. We kindly ask for your prayers helping us balance our work load.

With joy and thanksgiving,
Kassie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's Happening



Just wanted to give an update about the happenings of the church plant. We have been working very hard to complete the website, and it is set to "go live" this weekend!

Also, Pete will be sharing the vision of the plant with our pastor interview style this Sunday at church. Please pray that all of the details of vision presentation will come together smoothly. We are praying for wellness/health, for sharp minds and unity among us in order to affectively communicate. We are trusting that the Lord will continue to do what He has been doing- making it all happen. The following 2 Sundays will be gatherings of those who are interested in becoming the church plant community. During these gatherings, we will be diving deeper into the vision and fleshing out what being a part of this church plant means. We pray and trust that the Lord will guide who He wants to be the core, committed community members. This foundation is so important.

There is a lot more to say, but as always, your prayers and support are appreciated. It is all happening, and we are along for the ride... doing our best to keep our heads above water!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

seeing the unseen




If you are in the Asheville area within the next few weeks be sure to check this exhibit out!

We attended the opening last night and want to direct as many people to this body of work as possible. We had the privilege of speaking with artist Dona Barnett. She was more than happy to discuss her collection of mixed media pieces. This particular body featured crows, which to her represent humans: they live communally, in family units and are always looking for "shiny" things- things that are temporarily satisfying. As the conversation unfolded, we learned that we shared the Christian faith. She has an amazing gift to put into visual, tangible representation ideas such as "the eternal" and "now and not yet".

Like I said, check it out if you can!
Location: Asheville Area Arts Council
Dates: Sept. 4-27
Gallery is open Tues. –Sat. 10am - 7pm and Sun. 1pm-6pm

Sunday, August 30, 2009

INFO





It is amazing what information can do to a person. Just days ago, my sister and brother-in-law welcomed a healthy newborn into this world. They found out the gender at the birth- a beautiful baby girl! This information changed things. It changed them. Now they could choose a name for her (Senorah "Nori" Beth). Now they could refer to their older daughter, Addie, and Nori as "sisters". They see themselves now as parents to two little girls!

You see, ever since her conception, Nori has been a girl. For 9 or so months this has been the case- they just haven't known. Now, and always, we will forever know her as a female creation. This information has been (though for a short period of time) and always will be... and it changes people.

........


Pete returns to school this week. He is continuing a seminary education at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, TN. He will travel to campus two days a week with his computer, packed lunch, books and pens. He is seeking information. He is seeking information that always has been and forever will be... and it will change him. Though this seeking can occur as one builds a home, works in a grocery store, plays with dogs or bakes a cake... for this season of our lives, we will seek in an academic arena.

We have the awesome privilege of diving deeply into information about the person of Truth. Please pray that during this rigorous, academic endeavor that Pete and I will grow closer to one another and especially to the Maker of all information.
As we seek to "...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:18 & 19

Saturday, August 15, 2009

once upon a coffee cup




Once upon a coffee cup.
My hands press into the countertop. I hover over...


visions of fame, fortune, flashing bulbs, fit figure and glittering smiles.
the flash of recognition for selflessness, of praise, of awareness, of confidence. I desire.
This day's hours will not hold.

I breathe in the full, rolling steam.

oh where did my pure heart fly off to? oh when did my humbleness choose another course? oh why did my mind turn to its own idols?

I taste it through my other senses.

oh where will my bleeding heart mend? oh when will my humbleness be restored? oh why will my mind surrender- finally, fully?

Thick cream drips into the black abyss. A swirling cloud rolls forth.

I grow and change: beautifully and disgustingly. This entanglement of good and evil, this typhoon of laughter and despair. This battle of sunlight and lightning.

Where is the perfect marriage of confidence and faith?

Over a full cup of coffee, brimming to the edge.
I drink.

In this moment the depth of Your lips fill the surface of mine. Oh Lord, pour yourself within me. Fill in the crevasses of my inner self.

Friday, August 7, 2009

5th Anniversary!!!




Yay!

Today, August 7th, 2009 is our fifth wedding anniversary! I had big plans to post wedding photos and of course have no idea where the CD is. Woops. Maybe next year. This fun photo will have to do. Anyways, Pete and I are celebrating a state a part, but are still rejoicing together over 5 wonderful and grace-filled years shared in marriage. Pete is honored, on our "anniversary weekend" to be conducting his very first wedding tomorrow! How cool is that?! He is officiating the wedding of his best friend from high school, Matt, and his beautiful soon-to-be bride Leah.

Thank you to all of you, our community of friends and family, who have walked, watched and hoped with us.

To many more years,

Kassie

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

fun on the farm!




photos belong to the Tobias family

Last Saturday we hosted a reunion for our small group. Brian and Julia Tobias, along with their children Hayne and Natalie (4 weeks old!), recently became on Army family! We were so glad to see them again, and to get the chance to all be together.

Photos:
1) Some of the gang venturing into the creek.
2) The Tobias family (minus Hayne).
3) Pete pushing me down our homemade slip-n-slide.

Honestly, I live for these moments... times when we can just soak up the sun and play with good friends and family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

*

Hey All!

Pete doesn't know I'm writing this!

Pete has had several opportunities to accomplish a lot of "firsts". Within the past month, he has led a baby dedication, begun leading pre-marital counseling sessions, and has preached his first sermon! Among all of these things, the Lord is developing relationships between us and the community in ways we are in awe of. The Lord is pulling us closer to Himself and growing us in ways we could not have expected. In it all, we are trying desperately to hear the beat of his heart... hoping in His good nature... trusting Him for everything.

If you have 30ish minutes to listen to Pete's first ever sermon, it will be well worth it. You will find the audio at:

www.highlandchristian.com/audio.html

It is under the series "Cultivating Craving" and is entitled "What Motivated Jesus?".


Thank you for involving yourselves in our lives.
Hope you all enjoy a celebratory July 4th weekend.
We're thinking of you!

Kassie

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life is Beautiful





Isn't it though?
I am up unusually early today.
As I was perusing some recent photos detailing market strolls, frisbee golf outings, family gatherings... I was struck with such awesome wonder about how amazingly beautiful life is. I want to just soak it all up.

Thank you Lord for your creation, human creativity, healthy relationships, cloudy days, sunny days, fresh mountain air and your peace that passes all understanding.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

church planting




Quick update on the church planting process:

Next Tuesday, May 12th, we will be presenting what the Lord has laid on our hearts with our home church's staff. We will be sharing the vision that we have been wrestling with and have been carefully protecting for some time now. We pray that this resonates soundly with the staff, and that the Lord will prepare all of our hearts for this time. We desire for all of us to be "on the same page" and for there to be unity among us as we go forward. Please join us in this prayer. These relationships are crucial.

Additionally, we will be presenting to a church-planting organization in hopes of receiving financial provision for the church plant. This may be happening within the month. Again, we ask for your prayers: that Pete and I will be one , like-minded and supportive of one another, that we will not compromise the vision the Lord has given, and that if this relationship will be beneficial to the Kingdom of God that both parties will choose to enter it freely and confidently.

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with us... to be "in common" with us.

Kassie

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scout



Scout.

Isn't she pretty?
Almost three weeks ago, we said goodbye to this amazing dog.
Words cannot express how dear she was to us.
God can speak so clearly about Himself through His creation. Scout was no exception. She was our constant, loyal companion and protector.

A few facts about Scout:
Pete rescued her at 8 weeks old.
She was named after the character in To Kill A Mockingbird.
She was half rottweiler, half australian shepherd.
Her growl and bark were very convincing.
Her favorite place to be was at Pete's feet.
She lived with Pete in a Volkswagon Vannigan.
She "came alive" in rivers.
She would freak out when it appeared we were in danger: rock climbing, swimming, slack lining...
She was very perceptive of our emotions.
She was an alpha.
She positioned herself to where she could see both of us at all times.
She saw the country.
She was extremely intelligent.
She turned non-dog lovers into dog lovers!

She was the best dog who has ever lived, and much, much more.


Thank you to all of you who loved her too!

Kassie

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring

Man, Spring is so amazing! If you live in the south you are like us and are so ready for this completely irregular winter to be over. I was having such a hard time going from 65 degrees to 20 degrees every 4 days.

Life is good for us as usual. We have so little to complain about and such much to be grateful for. I finished finals last weekend and have been trying to catch my breath this week and transition to all the work that has been put on hold. I still have a few things to wrap up with school, mostly busy work stuff. However, I am enjoying the opportunity to switch my brain full speed to church planting stuff. There is so many thoughts, ideas, to-do's that need my attention, and I am excited to jump in. I am also excited to get to hang out with friends again. We have such an awesome community here in Asheville and I feel like my social life has been on hold for about 8 weeks. I have really been missing hanging out with folks and am pumped to start sharing spring in the mountains with good friends.

Kassie is tiered. She has been helping our friends Luke and Misty with their bi-annual children's clothing consignment sale. Basically they do in 3 weeks what most people do in a year and it is exhausting. She also has had some photo work lately which has been nice. Needless to say we have not seen a lot of each other lately and are looking forward to some reconnecting time in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for all the prayers through finals. Pray that I finish strong with some of this busy work and that I can get a lot of things taken care of for the church plant before getting back into more classes.

Hope you have a great Spring weekend!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

a breather





The above images were photographed by Pete. The first is of blown glass strategically placed on the frozen river behind our home. The glass was a gift given to Pete from his boss. The second image is a detail from a rusty, abandoned vehicle in a field nearby.

These images represent a brief break from the office. Pete has been diligently diving into writing, studying and memorizing for his classes. In order to "catch his breath", he has directed his efforts to photography for study breaks. Please, please, please pray for him as he faces finals at the end of next week. We would appreciate prayers specifically for mental and physical stamina. We appreciate your partnership with us as we approach our first academic milestone together.

We certainly cannot express it enough... we are thankful for you guys so much. Thank you for your encouragement, prayers and support of every kind.

For now, we are buckling down and faithfully chipping away at the mountain of work ahead!

Kassie

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

Just a quick check in. Not a lot to tell new.

It is amazing how often in a day that my mind just explodes with some sort of learning from my classes and I am like "I got to blog about that." Then of course there is the realization that I need to still write several papers and I have finals just around the corner. So my brain "push-ups" turn to that work instead of talking to you all.

Finals are in 4 weeks, that sounds like a lot of time, and during my undergrad I probably would not have even opened a book yet. However, I will need every minute of that time to prepare for these finals. So if you have second, please pray for my focus, memory power, and some extra hours of energy. I would appreciate it.

Single or with someone, I hope you have all had an amazing Valentines day, or Saturday for that matter...

Peace

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Restoration

This stream of conscious blogging may get addicting, be warned!

I was listing to a New Testament lecture last week and the professor used a quote that has stuck with me so deeply over the last few days. I feel like it was one of those breakthrough thoughts in clarity where your paradigm shifts one dial on the nob closer to truth. The quote had to do with the miraculous healing ministry of Jesus:

"Jesus' healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly 'natural' thing in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded." Jurgen Moltman, The Way of Jesus Christ. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 99.

Wow, I had always understood redemption in God's terms as returning things to the way that they were always meant to be at the point of creation, in the Garden of Eden. For some reason, however, I had never allowed the scope of Christ's redeeming ministry to permeate outside of the scope of individual spirituality. Now I have cognitively understood that God at one point in time will return all things to the way they were meant to be. However, I have always seen that as a moment in time and not a process. Redemption in my mind has always been a point, not a journey.

I do believe that we can take many learnings from the healing ministry of Christ: it was a sign of his power and deity, it was to reward faith, it was to create teachable moments for his followers, and it was a natural compassionate response to hurting and dieing people. Yet, when we read Colossians 1:16 "For in him all things were created:" we recognize that so much of the healing ministry of Jesus was simply the Creator returning things to the way that he intended them to be. In my mind this moves Jesus from just being a "great physician" who is making things work again, but he is the source of life who is restoring things to their intended order. A subtle, but I believe profound difference.

This shift in my mind moves Christ's acts of healings out of the category of "improving the recipients standard of living." It redefines his acts of healing as the author of life exerting his will and power of the dismal affects of sin on his creation. I imagine Christ saying in his heart as he healed the blind man "I never intended you to not see," to the lame man "I did not create you to limp," to the bleeding woman, "I did not author you to hemorrhage."

In his healing ministry Jesus gives us a glimpse of what "in the beginning" looked like and he points us to finality of "New Heaven and New Earth." As I make this learning my own I recognize a whole new meaning and motivation in our modern day "social justice" ministries. The work of social justice finds its true heart when it is not defaced by the attitude of obligation, responsibility, or duty. Instead, the work of mercy is given the breath of truth when I recognize I am joining with the original intentions of the Creator. Now my heart can cry out while I feed the homeless "you were not meant to go hungry," as I play with the orphan "you were not created to grow up without parents," sitting with the widow "you were not intended to feel so alone," mourning with the dieing "you were not designed to feel so much pain."

(As an aside, I think we can also apply this understanding of redemption to environmental preservation and restoration. When God said "subdue" - Genesis 1:28 - he did not mean waste, deface, pollute, abuse. When we live out redemption in every area of our lives, then acts of environmental stewardship are no longer selfish acts of worshiping and idolizing the earth, but righteous acts of ordering things to the way the were meant to be and will one day be again.)

Though we may not be able to exert the miraculous healing powers of Jesus at will. We have the privilege of taking the heart of the Creator to a broken and dieing world with the plea, "this is not the way it was intended, this is not the way it will always be." Jesus' healing ministry cries out to us "redemption is happening, and will be fulfilled in all things."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

CPAC

Well I received a bit of encouragement lately about this blog that people are reading and I need to just do more short updates. Now this is a huge exercise of discipline of the will for me. As many of you may know that I am a bit of a perfectionist and highly analytical, so just jotting notes that go out to the masses without a good 20 or 30 proof reads along with a final proof from my wife is almost an emotional impossibility. But here goes, installment 1 of stream of conscious, barely edited blogging!

I really just want to let all of you know how grateful we are for your prayers for us during the last week. Our experience at Church Planters Assessment was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of our lives. I could write pages about the experience. However, the most important thing for you to know is that your prayers were felt and answered. God worked amazing things in our lives over those four days. We received amazing affirmation of our call to plant a church, defined direction of what that church is supposed to "look like," and supernatural encouragement from the people that we encountered and interacted with through the process. So thank you for your prayers. We got home on Thursday afternoon and are about recovered sleep and energy wise. We are looking forward to being able to unpack and communicate this experience more clearly over the next weeks and months, and look forward to sharing some of those learnings here.

Grace and Peace,

Pete

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just in Time



Well my unofficial New Year's resolution was to be more consistent at blogging. So, I have a whole week to spare in making the month of January entry!

Our past few months have been very full. November and December we had several weddings mixed in with the holidays, one that we were witnessing and one that we were photographing. We were able to make a dash to Indiana to spend time with Kassie's family for Christmas. It is always great to get to her grandparents' farm. New Years saw us moving into a new house.

In the mix of the holidays we found a new home to share with my parents. We had been looking around for months for a place that would accommodate the four of us. Dad has been working just outside of Asheville, staying with us during the week, and traveling to Atlanta on the weekends to be with mom. With the current economic situation their house has been on the market in Atlanta for about 15 months and being apart was beginning to wear heavily on mom and dad. When we were starting to feel like we were not going to be able to find the right space, price and location for all of us, God provided an amazing spot just outside of Asheville. It is a great location for dad to get to work and Kassie and I to still get to town in a reasonable amount of time. The house has an amazing layout with mom and dad, and Kassie and I each having our own living area. Its on a river, has a great yard for the dogs, and a great office for me to study and work out of.

In the meantime of traveling, moving, and keeping up with school, we began our Church Planting Internship at our home church. Our internship has kicked off with us preparing to go to a church planters' assessment that will happen this upcoming week (Jan 26th-29th). The process has already been a bit stretching with both of us having to complete 4 different personality/leadership/spiritual gift type tests and a 60 question application. We would really appreciate your prayers as we go through this experience.

Please keep in touch, and let us know how your lives are going.

Pete

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter

Winter Garden
by Shae Cooke


The powdery snow falls silently upon the forest floor,
Blanketing the brushwood in it’s downy softness.
The wind blows lightly causing a slight shiver
amongst the threadbare branches of the stately Alder trees.

Dancing shadows leap across the pallid mantle of snow
As the bright light of the wintry moon
shimmers upon the tips of the glistening tree boughs.

The snow muffles the distant bay of a solitary wolf,
Silently echoing the sentiment of his loneliness.
The trees sway in unison as though
Dancing to the cadence of their cries.

The Winter Garden.
Splendid in its austere exquisiteness.
The snow drifts awash in a palette of
Shades of white, heighten its
Unadorned beauty.

______________________________

It is Winter. And it is beautiful.

This year, I am so thankful for a change in mindset towards this season. Normally, I would scoff at its seemingly monochromatic and dull canvas. As a person who is greatly affected by my environment, Winter's bland offerings do not help lift my spirit and emotions. I have often blamed the season for my overcast moods and fatigue. But a new light has been shed on this holy season. Someone mentioned how Winter is restful and quiet, and that it is integral for life to manifest itself in the following seasons.
Okay, so I have heard this all before, but for some reason it hit me this time. It changed me.

Just a few nights ago, I was awoken. I had no idea why I felt so rested, so ready to wake up during the middle of the night. In fact, I laid there wide awake until morning's light. A thought was brought to me that I believe was from the Holy Spirit. This experience was an analogy for where I am spiritually and emotionally.

You see, for a number of reasons, God has been resting and healing me for some time now. Through the quiet I have gained perspective and have been maturing... my roots have been growing deeper in faith. Now, it seems, He is awakening me. The Lord has opened my eyes from my restorative slumber, and I am awake! There is always a time for me between waking up and getting out of bed when I am still, yet am surveying my rest from the night before and measuring the tasks at hand for the day. This is where I am. I am realizing and am grateful for the rest. I am weighing, with hope and passion, for the day ahead. I am finding myself being propelled by Winter. The stillness, the quiet, the rest will always be integral for life to manifest itself in the following seasons of my life.

I am aware that Winter's canvas returns every year. But next time, it will be welcomed.

-Kassie