Serving In Small Ways

Last Friday, our Growth Group did a service project where we set up baskets of snacks and bottles of water in the various waiting rooms at Newton General Hospital. We divided into shifts throughout the day, and my mom, Ashley, and the girls took the first shift. Waiting family members and hospital staffers alike shared their surprised gratitude at the treats and the heart of service behind them.

It was particularly special to give the girls an opportunity to serve. I think you’re never too young to learn how to serve others. Here are some pictures (keep in mind that they’re phone pics, so they’re not the best quality):

Ashley sets up a snack basket...
One of the baskets we set up...
The girls help Ashley set up a basket of snacks.
...more snacks...
Kenzie and my mom walk down the corridor to the elevator.

I’d like to challenge you to think of small ways in which you can serve…

An Eventful Weekend

This past weekend was a busy, bittersweet one (with the emphasis on sweet). On Friday, we had my grandmother’s memorial service. Family members and friends came in from all over the country to celebrate and honor her life. I delivered the message (a first for me), and a cousin provided the music. It was a really special time, and I’m grateful to those who helped us put it together. I particularly appreciate our pastor at Eastridge, Scott Moore, along with Linda Miller and ECC’s First Impressions Team for their support. That evening, we had some great family time. Walks in the woods, whiffle ball, and good food. I wish we’d do more things like that as a family.

Saturday was Kenzie’s 6th birthday party! Beyond the fact that I can’t believe she’s turning six this week, it was another hectic, yet fun, time. Did I mention it was HOT? About half a dozen friends and cousins shared in the celebration with Kenzie and the rest of the family. After that, I drove my aunt and uncle to the airport for their flight back to Seattle.

All in all, it was a crazy weekend with a little heaviness and a lot of hard work. But I’m glad to have been able to experience so much rich time with family.

“And I’ll Find Strength In Pain”

My favorite song right now is “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons. Aside from being an incredible three-and-a-half minutes of music, the lyrics are really powerful. I don’t know what the band’s beliefs are, but something about the words to that songs resonate with me.

Tonight, one particular line really speaks to me in a way that is independent of the song as a whole. The second half of the song’s main chorus says, “And I’ll find strength in pain.” I’m finding that to be true this evening.

Tonight I said goodbye to my grandmother for what I can only presume to be the last time. And though my family has had about two months to prepare for it, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. Even though I know in my heart of hearts that goodbye is really a “see you later” as she prepares for heaven, it’s not any easier to do without her presence here on earth. Continue reading “And I’ll Find Strength In Pain”

A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

It’s so nice to get back to what I can only hope to be a normal day tomorrow. This past week was pretty surreal, and it honestly stretched to about nine days, from last Sunday through today. It’s been a most unusual stretch of days.

Of course, the craziness started last Sunday with the threat of winter weather. Add to that my grandmother’s stroke that evening just as the snow began to fall. It definitely didn’t help to have the snow and ice that kept the whole family inside for pretty much all of five days (with occasional trips out). My sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and I all camped out at my parents’ house all week to save on heating and having to walk up and down the hill.

Then Hadley (my 19 month old niece) burned her hand on my parents’ pellet stove Tuesday night, causing an anguished, painful night for her. She got up Wednesday morning, and hit the ground running, not missing a beat, despite blisters, and later a big bandage on her hand. My sister and mom were able to take her to the doctor on Thursday morning. Continue reading A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

A Prayer Request

Please pray for my grandmother. My grandfather called my mom this evening and said they were taking her to the hospital with possible stroke symptoms. Pray also for my whole family, especially my grandfather, mom, and aunts.

Thank you.

UPDATE: She did have a stroke. Needless to say, there’s a long road ahead. Thanks again for prayers, and please keep praying!

God Is Good!

Yesterday morning, my niece Hadley, who just turned one, fell off the bed. The girl’s a fast mover, and she outran my sister to the edge of the bed, where she proceeded to fall. She passed out. Naturally, my sister and my mom, who had spent the night with Kenzie, the five-year-old, were pretty well overcome with fear. Even after coming to, Hadley was listless and not her usual, energetic self.

We went into prayer/adrenaline mode. They took Hadley to the emergency room, where Michael rushed from work to join them; while they were in the triage room, she began to act and look more like herself. The ER doctors concluded that she passed out not from the fall or from a concussion but from holding her breath upon falling. Everyone came home, and Hadley was back to “normal.” Praise God for answering our prayers and casting our our fear with His perfect love!

Twenty Years Ago…

On November 12, 1989, Grace Fellowship Church met for the first time in the home of our founding pastor, Rob Raynor. I’m looking back at that one event now and realizing that it was two decades ago. Twenty years flies by. After twenty years of changes, lessons, laughter, tears, prayers, praises, progress, setbacks, I can’t help but be filled with awe at how far God has brought what is now Eastridge Community Church.

The Flat Shoals Road building
The Flat Shoals Road building

I can remember the early days, the few weeks where we met in the Best Western on Alcovy Road (I don’t even know what motel chain runs it now), followed by the months in the shopping center. I showed that location to a couple of our current staff members yesterday, and they were amazed at the thought of our church meeting there in its infancy. I think it was unprecedented for a church to meet in a non-traditional location in Covington, Less than a year after starting up, we moved into the tiny building on Flat Shoals Road for nine years; looking at that building now, it’s stunning to think that we stayed in that building as long as we did and that it’s still standing. We did double duty in 1998-1999, meeting at Eastside High School on Sundays and using the Flat Shoals facility the rest of the week; we were the first church in Newton County to meet in a school building (that was WORK!). In 1999 came the name change and building the facility we use today.

00 ECC building front
Our current facility

Twenty years is a long time. I’ve watched some of the kids who were here in the early days grow up and serve as adults; now many of their children are active here too. I’ve seen our pastors grow as speakers and shepherds and take on roles they probably never dreamed of assuming. I’ve seen this body of believers weather storms, small skirmishes, core leadership changes, and economic turmoil; I’ve been witness to circumstances that would shake a less grounded family to its foundation but only drove Eastridge to our knees and a greater dependence on Christ. We are truly a testimony that the strength and survival that can only come from God.

It’s not about a style of worship, although our contemporary music and casual style was what set us apart in our early days. It’s not about a personality, though I think for years we were driven by a strong leader and his personality. It’s not about a particular ministry, despite the fact that our ministry programs are strong. What it is about is surrendering to and obeying the will and direction of God and allowing Him to determine the vision and direction for His church. He deserves all the glory and credit for what has been accomplished at Eastridge Community Church for the past twenty years, and I am honored and privileged to be a part of His revolution here.

Looking back at the last two decades and looking forward to what’s ahead, I can’t help but think of some of the lyrics to what has become an unofficial anthem here at Eastridge:

“You’re the God of this city

You’re the King of these people…

Greater things have yet to come

Greater things are still to be done in this city…

Greater things are still to be done here.

I’m thankful for the people of Eastridge Community Church, and I’m eternally grateful to God for what He has done and continues to do.

If you are in Covington this weekend, I’d love for you to join us this Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45 as Lead Pastor Scott Moore shares a special message entitled “Preparing For A Work Of God,” and hang out with us Sunday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for our annual Fall Picnic.

God Is Good!

My family had a major answer to prayer yesterday. After months of struggling, worrying, praying, and working the system, my grandmother was accepted into Benton House, the nicest assisting living facility in Covington, yesterday. This is a huge relief, especially on my grandfather, my mom, and my aunts. It does my heart good to know that she’ll be taken care of in a place that she’ll love to call home and that our visits will be even warmer and more loving. God truly is good!

Kenzie’s 1st Memory Verse

Kenzie recited her first memory verse to me today: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” (Colossians 3:24) It was so sweet to me to see a 3-year-old learn a verse from the Bible, and it got me thinking: if we can get toddlers in on the growth of the church, get all generations involved, we can surely bring about the change that God wants in this community!