Yesterday the boys and I (Beth unfortunately had to work) drove over to Sanctuary and rode a bus to St. Paul to attend the morning worship service that ended our denomination's annual meeting. Our two of our pastors were ordained at it (one of them also having just been elected to be superintendent of one of the conferences in our denomination).

I always love attending denominational worship events. They do a wonderful job of including so many worship elements, but also blending them in one meaningful time. I also love the diversity of them. Scripture was read in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English. Denominational leaders from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa were present and involved in laying-of-hands on the ordinands.

That evening we attending a picnic and worship service with the other church we're attending. Our pastor there also was ordained, so we celebrated with a fiddler and caller. There was a lot of great dancing.

My favorite part was when the boys decided they finally wanted to try a few steps at the end of the evening and danced together. It was very cute.


One Week Later

We've been in the house for a week now. We've still got things to unpack (we're waiting for some shelves for the kitchen cabinets that were on back order), but we're getting fairly settled. We're still adjusting some to the move from the 'burbs to the city. Mainly it's the noise levels that we're not used to: right now there are firecrackers going off in the evening (and afternoon), a lot more bass coming out of car speakers, and our neighbors are 10 feet away.

We're also contending with the fact that ice cream trucks drive by several times a day--the boys learned what the trucks were when my parents were here. Thankfully, my wallet is empty, so I've got an excuse.

We love having visitors (and we now have a guest room if you want to stay overnight). Our friend Amy Mingo (who introduced us to Urban Homeworks who we worked through to get the home) has been by twice. I'm borrowing a few pictures she took so you can see the outside at least. But please feel free to stop by if you're close. Urban Homeworks will be helping us have an open house at some point. We'll let you know when.

We appreciate prayers for us in our new neighborhood as we try to build relationships (so far, I've only gotten to talk with the man who lives behind us; his Ecuadorian accent is still quite thick). But, I should stop spending time here and get back to unpacking and housework. Maybe we'll find some time to explore our neighborhood a little more today, too.


We're Settling In

Just a quick update:

We signed our papers and did all the official stuff (including writing a check for $11.47) for our house last Friday. My parents arrived shortly after we were done and we moved our beds over and slept there that night. The rest of our stuff got moved on Saturday. We had a lot of great helpers with our move. I am very grateful for them all. It went very well.

We're still unpacking boxes (but the numbers are diminishing). We got a small frame built for a garden and a few plants are in and hopefully growing. We're all adjusting and finding our way around the new neighborhood; we're also enjoying a little more leg room to move around in.

We're still waiting for things to get sorted out with our phone line/internet connection. Once that's done I'll be able to provide some pictures hopefully.


Sabbath Afternoon

After church this morning, the boys and I headed down to the farmers' market. We were hoping for some berries. We ended up with a huge bag of lettuce for a dollar. I packed a picnic lunch. We ate it in the back of the car. It was supposed to get up to 75 today. I haven't seen that happen yet. At least it's not raining again and giving the ground a chance to soak things up before more clouds let loose. We then spent some time walking around the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Soon we're off to get some ice cream to take to our other church tonight.


Home Help

We had the opportunity to go over to our soon to be new house this past week and meet some of the crew who had been working on gutting and redoing the building in the past year or so. They call the group "The Quick Silvers" because most of them are retired guys.

There was also a group of high schoolers working in a house across the street that had heavy damage, but is being redone for a single mother of four to move into. Several of them had been in the crew that first worked on our house. The guys from Urban Homeworks brought them over to see our house to give them hope, as those who had worked on it didn't think anything would come of it.

We share a lot of thanks with those who volunteered on our house in the past year. We're blessed to have the opportunity to move into it (we close on Friday and hope to have most of our possessions moved in by Saturday).


Moving Reflections

Lately, I feel like I'm too focused on this move, that I'm missing out on my relationship with God. At the same time, as I think about it, buying our first house makes me very focused on God--even if I'm neglecting the opportunities during the day to connect with Him.
For one thing, we can't deny how God has provided this house for us. It clearly has been His doing. And even though I can grow anxious about finances with it, I know that we'll be okay as God has done good so far. Jehovah Jireh.

It is also is a very humbling experience. There are plenty of months that we stretch things to make ends meet. We've giving up trips to theme parks, vacations and plenty of "enhancements" in our life. At the same time, as I put each of my possessions into boxes, I can't deny how well we have it. Especially compared with other parts of the world we've seen. We have everything we need--plus so much more (too much more?).

It's also been a great reminder that we're not alone. We can't do it alone. Sure, we could hire a moving company (if it was in the budget), but we're doing it ourselves. Except we're not. My family is helping. And many friends have volunteered as well (including one coming from Alaska!). Just another reminder that we need community--and community is an enriching experience.


Man Cannot Live by Pancake Alone

Yesterday at breakfast Anders was having blueberry pancakes and blueberry-pomegranate juice. He kept tearing off a chunk of pancake and dipping it his juice. As he was doing so, he kept saying, "This is my body broken for you."

Some kids play with their food, others have communion.



As I wrote this last night, we had just put the boys down for bed after returning from our second church service of the day. We went to Sanctuary this morning and were challenged by Pastor Efrem to find our Kingdom assignment in this world. We then had a nice picnic with several families from church (the women all get together for a mom's prayer group). My sister stopped by on her way back to Des Moines to see us, and we enjoyed the lovely weather in the park.

Our evening plans with our neighbors ended up getting postponed, so we decided we'd check out another church that we've been feeling a drawing to recently. They were supposed to have a picnic worship service, but it had been raining on and off all afternoon, so they ate and worshipped inside then went outside for dessert, community outreach and a game of kickball.

It's a church that we felt right at home at on our first visit (it probably helped that we spent the weekend with many of the members at Covenant Pines last weekend). It's a very small church (about 50 people, I'm guessing). They operate on Benedictine principles and are very community-focused. The children are incorporated into worship: they're very liturgical, and when they have a responsive reading there is usually lines for the children to read. They sing the Lord's Prayer with actions, and Anders gets into doing it. And has the connection of the community come across in this? They're pretty intentional about community. And despite the fact that they're more monastic/liturgical/introverted in their practices, they also incorporate outreach into the community into their worship gatherings. I think for us, in our world where my wife's schedule changes day-to-day, that living in the church calendar and praying the hours and other such practices could give us a little more sense of having some rhythm in our lives--in addition to connecting us more to each other, the community and God.

So, we'll see what comes out of this (in some ways, it complicates things for us, but in most ways it's freeing to find community).


School's Out for the Summer

Today was Anders' last day of school. His class went on a field trip to ride the street car between Lakes Harriet and Calhoun. Nils and I got to go along. They enjoyed riding the rails (though after the first time up and back on the track, Anders was ready for something else).

We're grateful that Anders has had a great first year. He had a great teacher (thanks, Miss Lehman) and made a lot of good friends (which are going to be hard to leave when we move--thankfully we're still really close). And we're grateful Anders has had a good experience so that Nils is interested in school and education.


Work & Worship

We spent our Memorial Day weekend at Covenant Pines Bible Camp in northern Minnesota for their Work & Worship Family Camp. Basically, you go free (paying a little for meals) in exchange for helping the camp get some work done before their summer camps start. We worked all day Saturday. I scraped and painted a cabin while the boys and Beth picked up sticks (Beth traded off at the end).

On Sunday we had chapel in the morning followed by a "hay" ride. The rest of the day was free time.

I got in on a rousing game of human foosball.

The boys and I went out on a boat and some some loons.

And the boys spent plenty of time playing on the cable ride, play center and other places with their new friends.

On Monday we had a flag raising and Memorial Day. Many people in attendance had family members or friends who had given their lives in the armed forces, served or are currently serving.

I think the part we enjoyed most were some of the relationships we developed in the few days there. We enjoyed the company of several families--most were from the same church, and we got to join them in their own prayer times before meals.

Of course, any time on a lake in the north woods is a good time.