Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 266 My Envelope

September 30, 2015
Day 266
Katy Schwartz Photography

There is an envelope. It is my life. My name is the only one on this package. It is as real as I am, yet, until I unpack it, the contents are unseen and unknown. It is full of who I am meant to be. It has my talents, my abilities, my uniqueness, my purpose. Only my thumbprint opens it. Frantically racing to the envelope with my name would be like all of us running out of a store thinking we all have the same key and the first one to my car, drives. However, to run to the envelope with intentionality, purpose and determination to explore, to discover, and to use my gifts is a race worth running.

This envelope is not exchangeable. I can not open your envelope and you can not open mine. I am impacted by your envelope, you are impacted by mine. When one refuses to use their envelope's contents - we all lose.

For in all of history there is no one who will have what I have. Mass production is not the Creator's gig. Specialization is. If I do not use my package the world misses a piece of the puzzle. No one else will add what I have.

To look with envy at your envelope is dull witted. I am to look with alacrity and gratitude at mine. The creator longs for me to use my contents, to positively impact the world in which I live. The far reaching effect is like a pebble dropped in a body of water.

Why am I not using what is in my envelope; my talents and my abilities? The creator waits in expectancy knowing how well suited the gift is to the child. But He forces not.

Why do I sit by my envelope making no moves? What makes me slow to reach in and pull out my talents to use?  Embarrassment? Shame? I must remember, that one person in history, who did that one thing and that other person who thought that pivotal thought, these came from their envelopes. They utilized what they were given and the world changed, forever.

I waste your time when I try to open your envelope. My role is only to encourage you. I waste my time when I want to use what is in your envelope. Your contents are ill suited for my uniqueness, they make me look out of place.

Uniqueness is the creator's gift. I rob you of my uniqueness when I do not reach inside my envelope. I rob myself. Because of our uniqueness we are not in competition. If we had the same material in our envelopes we would have reason to compete. The race then is to unpack our envelopes and use what is in them for ourselves, for each other, for Him.

I will endeavor to use what is in my envelope, be who I am. Will you endeavor to be who you are? There is only one of me and there is only one of you. The moment we leave the planet, the envelope, filled with beneficial contents, for everyone, remains forever locked.

Why do I continually look a gift horse in the mouth? It is rude. The creator longs for but will not force us to use what He placed in the envelope. To see the excitement in His eyes is exhilarating. As He watches moments tick by while we indifferently sit refusing to reach in and use what He has gifted us, is the epitome of sadness.

I want to live. I will continue to reach into my envelope. Will you continue to reach into yours?

To not use is to lose.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 265 Isolation Booth : Addendum

September 29, 2015
Day 265

I call it the Isolation Booth. The place that I feel alone. The point at which I am convinced no one else will understand.  It is probably better that I keep things to myself it might be taken the wrong way. The Isolation Booth is the place where I am not just alone but my options are limited, in fact there is probably only one. The physical circumstances in my life lead and guide me to the booth and my eyes weary. I drop in and curl up in a ball. 

This Booth is invisible and yet I am here because of tangible, physical, and circumstantial landslides. I am sometimes in it while I am with you. This is unfortunate. I know if you would see that I am in it you would give me your hand and coax me out. But I do not speak of this Booth when my soul slinks inside.

Mornings, afternoons and evenings, when I do not actively go to the One who cares, I move closer to this Booth. When I do not confess the wrongs that I have committed but hold on to them, caress them, try to rationalize them, process them, I move closer into the Isolation Booth. When I listen to lies that muddle my thoughts, I race to the Booth. When my prayers are not honest, I sit down in the Booth. When I look at my circumstances with my flesh eyes, I see only this booth. When I do not trust, I slam the door.

A corner, a hole, a booth with no one and no options. There is no one, or so it seems.

He, the Isolation Booth destroyer, silently walked to the one option, the only option - the cross. He was completely alone. No one went with Him. He was isolated even from His own Father who turned His back on Him. He looked like He sinned every heinous sin in the book. So why would anyone want to help him off the crucifixion block? 

He was in the Isolation Booth of all Isolation Booths.
He exploded the booth to bits. Sun poured in, over, all around
and light revealed everything. We are 
not alone. He has placed His loving hand on my shoulder,
on yours, and asks me and you to be His. This explodes us into a life of
spiritual options that sail beyond the physical. He calls
us to trust.

I spiritualy see His canvas of endless options as I trust. My spirit is clean and free. I am not alone, never. He is with me, always. He asks me to look to Him as my hand is in His. And He leads me to you. He loves fellowship. He hates isolation. The more you and I connect with one another, we see beyond the physical. We experience freedom. We learn to trust.

My spirit is now free to roam, frolic, dance with joy and recognize the lure and lie of the Isolation Booth. My spirit is not contained by physical restrictions. It is able to see beyond the circumstantial quagmire and dump. His canvas of endless options and opportunities make no physical sense and He asks me to trust. He asks me to be in fellowship with you.

The Isolation Booth is no place to trust.
There are no windows.

Shall we frolic in trust? It would be ungrateful not to.

Dina Porter adds to the third paragraph - A way out!:

"This where and how I need to direct myself. Mornings, afternoons and evenings, when I actively to to the One who cares, I move away from this Booth. When I confess the wrongs that I have committed and let them go, release them, see the false power I have given them, ignore them, I move further away from the Isolation Booth. When I listen to truth from Your Word, nothing can muddle my thoughts. I race away from this Booth. When my prayers are honest, heartfelt and true, I sit down outside the Booth. When I look at Your power to carry me through difficult circumstances with the eyes of my heart, I lose sight of this booth and see only You. When I trust You completely, I bolt the door shut - from outside. Never to return to this isolation booth."

Powerful, Dina, and a necessary part to this issue - there is a way out!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 264 Overwhelmed

September 28, 2015
Day 264

The word overwhelmed on the internet means: bury or drown beneath a huge mass, defeat completely or give too much of a thing to someone to inundate.

So, If I say I am overwhelmed I am drowning beneath a huge mass. I am completely defeated and I have been inundated. This is serious.  And this, my folks, is the G - O - S - P - E - L!  I AM has overwhelmed me. I am buried beneath a huge mass of intense and disproportionate grace and mercy! I am completely defeated and I surrender to the One who is victorious. I am completely inundated by oceans of love.

I choose life. I choose not to be overwhelmed by my circumstances. They disillusion, depress, deceive, and defeat me. I choose to be overwhelmed by my God who invigorates my soul and has overwhelmed me with His peace and salvation.  I am eternally grateful. For He paid a high price for all of this.

Would you care to swim with me in this ocean of goodness?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 263 Come to Me

September 27, 2015
Day 263

Sweet Mary is a prophetess. Many times we look at one another astonished and often wish we'd be quick enough to write down her words. They are profound, inspiring and encouraging. And her prayers are just the same.

There are others like her, Rachel, for instance. This lady is all about worship and even has us moving. Her voice is soulful and her prayers fly everyone directly to the throne room. For right now, both Mary and Rachel are in Children's church and it is because of children like this that I offer to help. I love being with these spiritually and theologically charged individuals. What an honor, these are the future leaders.

If I were a pastor I would preach to the children and hope the adults understand

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 262 BEST Robotics Competition

September 26, 2015
Day 262

I spent a day with students working on robotics. So much of what they discussed, with their mentoring dads, was over my head, beyond grabbing distance. Though I would love to know all, I must be content with my lack. For if I would know everything there would be no need for their parents. And the interaction with their parents has been beautiful to watch. These students are so fortunate to have them.

I love getting something started and then moving out of the way for it to proceed. I try to give input at these sessions and they are kind to
let me talk, but they quickly move on to their brainiac moments throwing me a patronizing glance as they leave me behind.

Today they reworked their prototype making twenty revisions as they proceeded forward. For their Engineering Notebook they listed the problems and their respective solutions. It is the notebook that receives the most points in this contest. Some of the marketing crew were there as well today. They need to be able to answer questions at the trade show booth the night before the competition. The marketing receives more points than the robot. The reasoning, you can have a great robot but if you can not sell it, who cares?

All of this is wonderful and chock full of real world learning. The students involved in this competition are gaining skill sets useful for this day and age. Wider School is all about learning and this is what I saw in action today. This is more fun than I should be having.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 261 NATURE

September 25, 2016
Day 261

Angelica Stream maintained by Berks Nature
To walk along a riparian zone bordering the Angelica Stream noting the unique and diverse ecosystem with eleven wonderful children from our very own Wider School was and is better than Twin Valley Coffee, you heard me. Children and Nature get me jacked, hyped-up and energized. Do you know how much I love coffee?!

I love children and I love nature. You put them together and I get high! Then you add a biologist, environmentalist, or ecologist, explaining wildlife and its surroundings and well, I'm kinda euphoric. There is something about these particular scientists that make me want to listen to their intoxicating descriptions of insects, riparian zones, ecosystems, habitats, you name it. Their love is not only informative but invigorating. I am convinced there is a required college course that teaches them the art of explaining clearly and succinctly the wonder of it all. They are that good.

Michael Griffith has just joined the staff at Berks Nature and is the Educational and Watershed Specialist. His alias is Dr. Nature. It was a pleasure having him explain that the presence or absence of macro invertebrates determines water quality. He spoke of the poisonous quality of monarchs due to milkweed, the life of a fruit fly in a golden rod, and even led us in a forensic activity involving owl pellets. He gave me one to bring home! Move over Bill Nye.

Wider School Students
Tami Shimp, the VP Development & Community Relations, with whom I spoke with on the phone setting up this field trip, is a wonderful wildlife advocate. She has been with Berks Nature since 1997. Not only did she provide us with an update on the recent name change to Berks Nature and the plans to build an Environmental Exploration Center at Angelica Park but she walked with us adding just as many interesting facts as Dr. Nature. Video games, no matter how virtual, can not compete with pushing over a log looking for life. To not come back to Angelica Park would simply not make sense. You will see us in the spring. Thank you Dr. Nature and Tami for helping us appreciate all things nature.

Michael J. Griffith explaining macro invertebrates to students

Thursday, September 24, 2015

260 Bleary Eyed

September 25, 2015
Day 260

I'm bleary eyed. I must go to bed. Good night. May the God of the universe continue to speak to you and may you be thrilled by His presence.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 258 Wider Robotics

September 22, 2015 Wider Robotics
Day 258

Watching students engage in projects gives me energy. Tonight was no exception as I witnessed nine students, at various levels, come together to discuss the Best Robotic competition on Oct. 23 and  24 that will be held on Penn State's campus in DuBois, PA.

These students have never been a part of something like this before, but you would never know it.  I loved listening to their conversations. Sam and Mallory and Reagan are on the marketing team and the progress they made with Mrs. Spahr's help is tremendous. Lydia and Nicky Sue stared into the computer screen creating templates and pages for the

Though Robots don't eat, humans do!

Nicky Sue on break
Enginneer's Notebook. This is an important job. Daniel, Andrew, Ben and Jesse worked on the computer programming part of the robot.

The design and CAD team sat at the bar on high stools in the basement and discussed their design. They made a list of necessary materials they will need on Saturday when at  9 am they will meet at Cupo's for an undefined period of time.

Best Robotics is an excellent competition and we are so fortunate to have one so near!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 257 Three Solid Women

September 21, 2015
Day 257

These three women, Nicky, Robyn and Marla are married to three friends; Jared, Conrad and RJ. Their friendships bless me. I do not hear or see competition or comparisons among them but instead support going back and forth. They share their clothing, their equipment and their time by way of taking care of each other's children.  They live out how it ought to be.

This means volumes to me. Growing up, I never stayed in one spot for more than four years. I actually loved moving but it meant I did not have solid roots. These three, however, in this area have solid connections that are deep. And I love that they are not exclusive but always include when possible. This is where it is at.

The three of them are pregnant again, and now instead of boys they will all three have girls, how wonderful is this. Their numbers, just like that, will double. Now this is something to write home about.

My prayer for these families is that they will share what God has blessed them with, solid relationships. And that the ripple effect of all the goodness they have been afforded will benefit the less fortunate in the church in which they serve. These women are mighty women and trust me, you don't want to mess with them.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 256 Forget Sin

September 20, 2015
Day 256

The enemy wants to make us believe that there must be something more that needs to be done with our sin. He whispers, "there is no way your sin can be forgiven, no way." This is a lie. The flood of blood, from Jesus Christ, time traveled through all of history like a wave of lava destroying everything in its path. The blood, beyond powerful, sonic boomed through time zones; ancient, postclassical, modern and all the way to contemporary. Not only did His blood hound out the target of sin but obliterated it.

The enemy wants to make us believe that we can take care of our sin. But we do not have enough cash, goodness, justice, understanding or insight to do this. This is a lie. To believe this means looking away from a dying Savior who offered His own perfect body to pay the steep penalty. Your sin was taken care of, destroyed, thousands of years before you committed it. Let that love fact sink.

When you ask for forgiveness you are believing that you have sinned and that He is the only one from whom to seek forgiveness.  You thank God when you ask Him for forgiveness.

To partake of communion is to visibly understand, by faith, that the bread and blood, His Body, course through my inner man reminding that my conscience is clear, that I am clean. We eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of a terrible and painful death. Faith is believing what our minds cannot comprehend, our sins are no more.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 255 Sunday Rest

Sept. 19, 2015
Day 255

I am so looking forward to the day of rest tomorrow. Sundays are wonderful, we just love them and we work really hard to rest. Every week this is our day to contemplate the week before and pray for the week to come. Before any of us leave our bedrooms we offer up a prayer of thanksgiving. This truly allows us to get out on the right side of the bed. On this day, I always use the antique bell I purchased at Anthropolgie to gather everyone around the Sunday breakfast table. We will begin the celebration surrounded by homemade muffins, butter in a crock, quiches from the Martha Stewart Living magazine (The obscure farm in Vermont she suggested to order the organic, hormone free eggs was well worth the $10 per dozen) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Pinterest really comes alongside me in my Sunday preparations. The mouth watering recipes and fabulous pictures they provide are so helpful.

When we are finished with the morning meal, one of our children will read the scripture portioned for the day, while another will recite what they have been memorizing. My heart skips a beat listening to them.

We will head off to church while listening to a combination of John Michael Talbot and Gregorian Chants. Our spirits always soar, they always do while listening to such spiritual fare. After church we try to silently drive home so as absorb the sermon we just listened to. The Sunday dinner (you know I really mean lunch) will have been cooking in the oven while we have been attending church. Oh the glorious smells! After the meal, Lynn will push back his chair and share the Sunday devotional that he has prepared.


So, I wanted it to look like this, I really did. But it has never looked anything like this. Guess what? God still loves the stinking snot out of me and my family. This is what I love, God allows us each to live out our days the way in which we please.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day 254 We are in URGENT NEED of PRAYER!!- Hungary and Refugees

 Crowds of people at Roeszke border crossing
Photograph: DigitalGlobe for Amnesty International
September 18, 2015
Day 254

The following is from a friend of ours who has lived almost thirty years in Hungary. I know many of you are following the refugee plight and this will help direct you in your prayers. I know that all of us are asking the Lord to show us how He wants us to pray. Much has happened since he wrote this on Monday, but you will find it helpful in processing this situation. He writes the following on Monday.

“Leaders of the United Nations refugee agency warned [last week] that Hungary faces a bigger wave of 42,000 asylum seekers in the next 10 days and will need international help to provide shelter on its border” Associated Press

Encouraged by news of Germany’s announcement that it plans to accept 800,000 refugees, as well as reports of the thousands who were given passage to Germany last week, a new “wave” of refugees will arrive at Hungary’s border with Serbia in the next few days....with plans of passing through Hungary and moving on to Germany. The problem?

• As reported by the associated press, this agreement by Austria and Germany last week to forego the necessary paper work and allow passage of the refugees to their countries “was a one-time measure to ease an emergency.”

• Although contrary to EU Schengen rules, both Austria and Germany today began border checks and border control at their border crossings.

• Hungary, in turn, has announced a “State of Emergency”, and is sending troops to the Hungarian-Serbian border with orders NOT to let any refugees cross without being documented.


After months of travel through extreme circumstances, this “wave” of tired and poor refugees will finally get to the border of the “promised land” only to be greeted by a 12 foot fence and an equally tired collection of police and soldiers who have been given orders to keep them from entering. This is a recipe for disaster! In an article in the Daily News/Hungary entitled “Hungary will stop immigrants with brutal laws in a few-days”, one cabinet member honestly predicted: “You have to prepare for ‘hard scenes’
at the Serbian border from next Tuesday.”

As I am sure you have heard, Hungary has not responded well to the refugee crisis...and that just might be the understatement of the year! Hungary’s government has openly espoused a strategy to discourage refugees from taking this route through Hungary to the EU by making their time here as hard as possible. The goal: don’t let them be comfortable, don’t make it easy—intentionally make it hard for them—in the hope that word will spread down through the grapevine that Hungary is NOT a preferred way to get into
the EU.

Hungarians themselves are divided! Some are so fearful of the long term effects of refugees settling here that they cheer the government, while others are ashamed of their government’s treatment of the refugees and have joined forces with civil groups to serve and help in a variety of creative ways....including organizing “baby baths” (I’ll explain the former, and detail the latter, in another letter in 2-3 days).

(Hungary is) speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

While Hungary has done quite a lot to deserve the bad press it is getting, what is not being reported is that Hungary was instructed by the EU to stop the “wave” of refugees, and to let no one through without documentation.

While some EU representatives are publicly lambasting Hungary for building a fence on the border, and not sending asylum seekers on to Germany, other EU leaders are demanding that Hungary protect the EU’s borders and only let documented refugees pass through. Some have gone so far as to say “if our
Eastern European partners cannot protect their borders, maybe we need to re-draw the borders of the EU”. Hungary took this as a not-so-veiled threat of ex-communication from the EU if it did not step up.

Hindering this documentation process are two “truths” which are at odds
with each other.

   1)  The EU’s Dublin Agreement states that refugees are wards of that State through which they enter the European Union. In this case, Hungary would be responsible for everyone it documents/registers. If these refugees are later found to be in other countries, they will be sent back to the original EU country (Hungary). Germany said last week that it will set aside this Dublin Agreement, but was subsequently rebuked by the rest of the EU, as this is the law of the land.

   2)  Those refugees arriving into Hungary make no secret of the fact that they DO NOT want to stay in Hungary. FYI: our standard of living here in Hungary, our socialized medicine, our wages, etc. are not anything close to that which citizens in our neighboring, Western European countries receive, and these refugees simply DO NOT WANT TO STAY IN HUNGARY (neither do most Hungarians, for that matter!). They wish to move on to wealthier locations - the very same locations instructing Hungary not to let them
through. Most arrive without identification of any kind, and refuse the registration/documentation process because that would doom them to remain in Hungary, as per the Dublin Agreement mentioned above.

The result: most refugees are intentionally avoiding that very thing which the EU is demanding before Hungary allows them into the EU —get documented!

This is why soldiers are being sent to the border: no undocumented refugees are to be allowed into the country. While these soldiers have not been granted authority to use weapons, tear gas has already been used a few times when large groups decided to simply go-for-it and rush the border guards. Batons are also a threat.

• Honestly, I am afraid for the refugees. They will be arriving with high expectations, and will not give up....not after everything they have already gone through!

• I am afraid for the tired policemen and border guards....I am afraid they are not prepared to handle this type of predicament.

Again...this is a recipe for disaster!

As I said, I will be sending more within 2-3 days. I started writing about this situation and wrote 4-5 pages...too much to send in a letter. There is just so much to say: Why is Hungary reacting this way? How are Christians and the church reacting? What are we in Barnabas Group/CRM-Hungary about
this? What can you be praying for? All that is coming....soon!

But today, tonight, please pray...

  -for cooler heads to prevail on the border the next few days.

  -that God would miraculously calm both the refugees, and the

  -that the refugees would NOT simply “rush” the border guards en-mass.
  -that God would grace the border guards with compassion (there are
   actually some encouraging stories of compassion, but only the bad stories are getting
  -for there to be no violence, no bloodshed, and no injury (sometimes the
   en-mass rush results in people being crushed).

   Thank You for Praying!

*Our friend wrote this update yesterday, Thursday. Again, he needs our prayers and this helps also helps us to pray with intelligence.
Please pray*!  Monday Tamas Heizer (my Hungarian director) and I shared with the General Secretary of the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance some thoughts we have concerning the need for a* Europe-wide strategy* to coordinate care for the refugees at all points along their journey.  He, in turn, asked us to take part in a conference call yesterday with *Evangelical Alliance representatives from all European countries*, as well as Refugee aid groups working in all of Europe.  Tamas does not speak English, and
asked me to take part in this call.  Mid-way through the call I was asked to share our thoughts.  Honestly, what I shared seemed out of place/out of context....they were mainly giving reports on all that is happening in each country, as well as discussing advocacy concerns.  I actually began to feel bad about what I had shared, as it didn't fit the purpose of the conference call.

At the end of the call, however, the moderator/facilitator announced that they were *inviting a few people to take part in two "Steering Group"*conference calls this Friday and next Friday to discuss "the next steps" (stated goal of call: *“…scope out the role and possibilities for a Christian response to the situation of refugees in Europe.”)*, and *they invited me to take part in this discussion! *  Upon returning home, I checked email, and there were other email invitations to other strategic discussions, too.

*I feel overwhelmed: I know very little about ministering to refugees.*  By God's grace I do know a little bit about strategy, but Tamas is the real strategic genius here, and I feel like half a man without him.  Honestly, *I feel I am in over my head*!  But, I do believe in God’s ability to help, so *please,
please pray* that God would fill me with His Spirit and enable me to make a contribution to this European strategy!  And pray that we do, in fact, come up with *"a Christian response to the situation of refugees in Europe." *

for Praying!!

ps:  Prepping for this Steering Group conference call will set back the
promised follow-up to Monday’s prayer letter by 2 days!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 253 Day Moves Into Night

September 17, 2015s
Day 253

Tonight was not just another night. But it could have been. Instead we reached out, grabbed a moment and made it stop We sat around a campfire making memories. We spoke, we prayed, we laughed. We were enriched. Don't let time go by you so fast. Take time to create these moments. We did tonight. God is good. We will sleep well.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 252 Who is Who?

September 16, 2015
Day 252

Sunshine at dawn-it gets brighter and brighter just like Righteousness
 The enemy is a deceiver. He will corner you, isolate you, and push you into a spot you think you might not be able to get out of. The enemy wants to insult you, wants to confuse you and wants to keep you from having any traction. The enemy wants you to think you are in an isolation booth.

Your friend wants to help you. He wants to give you clarity. He wants you to be in community with others. Your friend will listen to you without shoving thoughts, right and left, down your throat in your mind. Your friend wants to make good use of time and He knows how to do this without you feeling unmerited pressure. Your friend wants you to experience peace in your inner thoughts.

It is important for you to begin to know who is who, in your head. Life is tough. Life will get tougher. Therefore it is imperative that you understand why you are feeling so blue and how quickly it can flee. It is important for you to know that simply calling out the name of Jesus will pull you out of the fog. It is important for you to know that praising Him chases out the enemy, chases out the enemy! Remember, the enemy is defeated. Your friend created peace through His death and resurrection. It is equally important for you to be in His word in a devotional way and in a study way. Imperative!

You are not going to lose the battle. How do I know? I know who fought the war and won. And He fights your battles and wins.He has you covered! Now rest.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day 251 Women's Ministry - ARRGGHHH

September 15, 2015
Day 251

I love being social and hate church socials. I love being with women and hate being herded by a women's ministry team just as much as your cat. Women in the church, can we stop being so unnatural? Can we stop thinking for women?  Who in their right mind looks through the community section for a night out and puts their finger on the local women's church event? I'd rather wear a polyester dress from one of the coupons in the newspaper rather than to sit in a pew waiting to be entertained and stuffed in the "fellowship" hall. "Let them eat cake" is the most fitting phrase for us spiritually overstuffed and underworked women!

Women at IF:Pray at RCC
I want to know you! Who are you? But there is rarely space provided in the church setting to learn about you.You are too shy to be on the Women's Ministry team so you will never be known. And ministry teams are often poor delegators. This is a crime. You, my dear, have something unique to provide, something that no one else has. But we keep feeding the women ministry hogs who do not have the time to get to know you or what your gifts are. And this keeps perpetuating the superficiality.

Last night our church hosted a prayer event. It was so refreshing. A number of us women were involved, many did not know one another before the planning. Our common denominator was Jesus and Him alone and it was all we needed. It was inspiring watching women use their gifts.

The amount of time wasted while we plan boring church events is unacceptable. And when someone new comes through the church doors, we subtly target them and then encourage ourselves, "Look, the community came." When in fact it was only one lonely representative.

Here is the amazing deal. God has more grace, more patience, more mercy for these vaporous events than I ever will. He uses everything, He is the underwriter for going green, for sustainability is His middle name. While I roll my eyes he uses another ridiculous, shallow, women's  event to pull a woman closer to Him. Our God is an awesome God. He puts up with us.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 250 Please Forgive Us

September 14, 2015
Day 250

You are disgusted, you have had enough. You cannot believe the arrogance of Christians in politics, in science, in daily living, on Face Book, with their Tweets, etc. And you can not keep it to yourself. You should be frustrated! We are a sorry lot, there is hardly anything impressive about us. The only thing impressive is the One we follow. I continually question Jesus's wisdom in allowing us to be ambassadors for Him. We do a pathetic job. He should put us in a holding container until He is convinced we truly understand His love.

Team Returning from Peru:Unity Developed
We are told that you will know we are christians by our love. How's it working for you?? It's kinda hard to figure out who we are through the facade, the hypocrisy, the struggle, right?

Do you know how hard it is for us Christians to get along? We let so much get in the way. Funny thing is, we know how to exceed the speed limit but refuse to exceed the speed limit in love and love has no limits!

When you write something negative about Christianity for the public to see you are exercising your rights. Many times we, christians, jump right in with our dukes ready for a fight and respond to you in a combative way. But we are not called to argue, plead, beg or burden you. We are called to love. Argghhhh...We are really slow learners. Truly, our fight is with our pride not you. There are a boat load of issues we will never agree on. But for us to fight with you in a public forum, with a lack of respect to you, is just not appropriate.  It reveals our immaturity.

We seem like brats and it is because we are. Jesus' vetting process is non-functional. He loves humanity and opens wide the gates and so you get a boatload of us with a lack of requirements. I think what disgusts you most is our lack of cohesiveness and consistency. Rightly so.

Jesus brings us to Himself because He loves us, period. We are learners in love which in two words can be summed up:repentance and forgiveness. This is an olympic endeavor and you are privy to the mess we make. The one who has the tarnished look because of our mess is the One who is the most loving, the most cohesive, the most consistent, the most forgiving, the most everything. He should not let us be ambassadors but He is not a micromanager!  Forgive us, we have to do better.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day 249 Lonlieness - The Heart of Worship

Sept. 13, 2015
Day 249

There is a lonlieness that goes to the core. We are alone and those whom we thought were friends, in reality, do not walk with us. There are times when we feel incapable of doing anything about this empty feeling  and then there are times when we fight it like the plague. We try to shake it like some unwanted pest. But, if that does not work, we sometimes go to drastic measures. But do we ever stop to deeply feel the feeling? Do we ever stop to ponder the need for this feeling as a way to help us understand Him?

Lonlieness confirms our walk. Jesus felt this, all the time. He walked this. He knew this, and intimately. Have we taken the time to see lonlieness as a place of holy ground, to be embraced as a gateway, an arbor, a door, a window into His world. Lonlieness is a friend leading us by the hand to Jesus' heart.                  

Lonlieness is a place where worship flows. It is a place where understanding meets with the heart of Jesus. Instead of trying to shrug it off like it is a pest on a hot summer day, it might be better seen as a place of holiness whispering your name to come and do what good friends do; spend significant chunks of time

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 248 The Beginning

September 12, 2014
Day 248

Our first, of three trips, to Penn State Dubois Campus was energized by all things robotics today. If we, at Wider School, want to allow our students to rub shoulders, enter into, and compete with all things robotics, this is the perfect gateway. October 22 and 23 we will compete with the robot we create within the next six weeks.

We knew we wanted to do something with robotics but what? Honestly, I know nothing about this subject I just have a keen interest. But one day on the internet I was led and guided to a particular site highlighting the BEST robotics competition and stumbled onto Dr. Stephen Feldbauer. This man's kindness brought ten students and twelve parents to DuBois today.

Today was the Kickoff; the course was unveiled and the students were allowed to think and ask questions. I watched these Wider Students begin to think about how to build a robot, how to keep an Engineering Notebook, how to program a robot, and how to market the robot. This is just the beginning and I know it will end well even if we do not win because we will learn a lot. Most importantly we have an opportunity to get to know one another on a deeper level, this is always a good thing.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 247 Rainbows Still Speak

September 11, 2015
Day 247

There was nothing foreboding about the day, September 11, 2001. The sun was strong in a cloudless sky. Though Hurricane Sandy would have been the perfect setting for such a tragic event, it would not strike land for eleven years. Instead, this day was all things typical and therein lay the cruelty, no warning for the citizens.

Do not be fooled. You cannot prepare for tragedies. They barge through walls thought to be strong but revealed as paper thin, and this without warning. The best laid plans do not exist, we are simply not that smart. The towers in a mountain of mourning brought this into perspective.

From that day forward life would never be the same. Buildings thought to be secure, stable, and strong, tumbled with the brightest and most talented in the heart of a bustling city. The cloudless day would be pushed aside with black billows of hate. The unthinkable would became harsh reality.

Charred vehicles with blackened smoke-stained buildings were pictures from other worlds, not our favored metropolis. And now we would have our very own horrific pictures. Was this a movie set unbeknown to us? Oh, how we wished. But instead it was to be our reality that would never leave. Our emotions froze as we witnessed the termination of life piled high in rubbles of tragic stories.

Many of us did not "go there." The images were too much; crowded stairwells, tear-filled elevators, floors and towers giving way, window escapes to death, cell phone messages. We, on the periphery, could not imagine while those in the city were chased by nightmarish dust clouds of destruction. We were numb.

Tears continue to thaw fourteen years later. Bullies will be bullies, evil limps along and yet the night before the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11, a rainbow emerges from the newly built Freedom Tower. For in fact, two planes crashing our reality will never change an ancient promise. WE WILL NOT FORGET, HOPE IS ETERNAL.

Though I did not mention the destruction at the Pentagon or the crashing of the plane in Somerset County, PA. I do remember. It pains me to think of the families destroyed, lives still un-mended because of these tragic events. For the sake of the post, however, I chose to just highlight the towers in light of the rainbow emerging from it last night. If you would like to see some of the social media pictures, I included the link. -  .
Thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Day 246 Abuse is Unacceptable

September 10, 2015
Day 246

Abuse is unacceptable.
Your life is yours to love.
You must unpack your envelope,
and love yourself enough.

Your thumbprint is your envelope.
Your name is bright and clear.
Your gifts, your bent, your character;
unleash without the fear.

Abuse is unacceptable.
Abuser must expect,
while you stay true to who you are,
from us they'll lose respect.

To hide, deny, is not for us,
live free and clean and true.
Your envelope is for the world,
the one and only you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 245 The Day Has Ended

Canadaigua Lake at Allison and Colin Hartford's Wedding
September 9, 2015
Day 245

The day is done.
The day is finished.
Tomorrow will be here soon.
Where is the party, celebration?
I see the show of the great moon.

There are people who did not fare well.
There are people given such bad news.
But where was grief collected?
And who will walk now in their shoes?

Tomorrow, let me be aware.
Of those who do not know the joy.
Some will rejoice with the coming of the sun.
While others mourn with the long rays.
But I will try to pay attention and listen hard to what you say.

May those who grieve find the comfort.
May those who rejoice find the peace.
And may they all know the Creator.
Who came to save those in need.

The day is done.
The day is finished.
Tomorrow will be here soon.
Where is the party or celebration?
I see the show of the moon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Day 244 Quotes from "Finding the Abundance in the Shadow of Death"

September 8, 2015
Day 244

Scott Stevenson is a dear man, whom we have grown to love. He often brings us soul food when he comes for his drink at the Coffee Gazebo. Today, he brought me a quote from a book, Finding the Abundance in the Shadow of Death, written by Steve and his wife Sharol Hafner.

"Steve Hayner was serving as president of Columbia Seminary and was healthy and fit when he found out he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He and his wife Sharol embarked on a journey together with their children that soon included tens of thousands of visits from friends and acquaintances via the CaringBridge website. The overwhelming response to their posts on this website attested to the surprising and engaging way that they chose to live in the face of death. As a result they uncovered the remarkable truth that God, our good Shepherd, provides a feast for us when we are in the valley of the shadow of death as well as in the green pastures. Steve was always known for signing letters and emails, 'joyfully.' These pages, including reflections from some of those closest to Steve and Sharol, offer us a hope-filled glimpse into what it means to walk with God in honesty, with joy, even through great pain."

This is a quote from Sharol that Scott shares with me today, "Recently I sat with friends as we studied Psalm 23. I've always separated this familiar into three somewhat unrelated scenarios; first, the beautiful meadow, rich in green grass and quiet waters, an idyllic place of peace and rest, free of distraction and hardship; second, the valley of the shadow of death, where the Shepherd's rod and staff protect the sheep; and third, an abundant feast in the presence of enemies.

But at this time in my life, I read Ps. 23 differently, I wonder if the valley of the shadow of death is also where we are treated to an abundant meal even though surrounded  by enemies. I wonder if it is in that same shadowed valley where the Shepherd offers rest in green pastures, beside still waters.

Perhaps we lack nothing, not in the  idyllic destination, but in the place of darkness, pain and suffering where the Shepherd provides rest and healing."

Before her husband, Steve dies, he writes, "Grace can never be learned once and for all. It must be explored through each new circumstance. It must be experienced recieved and savored. It defies scrutiny but requires reflection." Steve Hayner

This soul food lines up with all that God has been showing to so many of us! God, you do lead, you are the head and thank you.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 243 Brittany

Hopewell Lake in early morn
September 7, 2015
Day 243

The sun has yet to rise and we are in the middle of mist swirling upward from a warm lake. She is as peaceful as the water we glide on in this early morning hour. We sit around a fire the night before and she looks me in the eye and asks, "Tomorrow, are you kayaking?" Now I am, Brittany, if you will go with me.

To kayak with this woman is an honor (truth be told, anyone who will kayak with me-is an honor). But I have watched this lady grow from a scrawny, carefree, energetic, little girl who does not sleep at sleep overs, into a delightfully deep, insightful woman, whose internal clock is on rest mode. Easy is her middle name, her modus operandi. Honestly, to be with her, as friends on the water, is probably more than I would have had the guts to ask for.

I appreciate how drama does not surround her, it just sulks off looking for other victims cause this girl ain't freaking out. Her mentor is her mother, Pam Hopkins, who is the epitome of meekness - strength under control. Drama deflects off her back like water off a duck. Her daughters, all three of them, have learned from the best. To Pam's credit they adore and think she is the classiest woman they know.

Brittany in chill mode
There were many statements Brittany made this morning that I so appreciated. One of them being,"Christian community is so hard to find among Christians." True that. She understands others and situations with such emotional intelligence and this lends to our invigorating conversation.

I love the questions Brittany asks me this morning. And the laughter, she is quick to laugh and refuses to take herself seriously.  I love this in a person. God has given her an ability to see things for what they are and an ability to listen and hear what others are saying. I grow from her insight. She is a gift and I am privileged to know this woman.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day 242 Sunshine on My Shoulder

September 6, 2015
Day 242

The morning hour 
the orange so rich
and steady.

The afternoon
your spirit ever  

The sun appears
your spirit soars
your heart to mountains

The sun shines rays
you see it
through the clouds
on rainy days.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Thank You God 256 - 290

Moose Pond, ME

256. Thank you for the Snider Family living in Philly duking it out in Jesus' Name. ~ltb
257. Thank you for the wonderful time we had in Kensington with the Sniders.  ~ltb
258. Thank you for Dani Cupo, what a privilege to know this lady.  ~ltb
259. Thank you for Jim O'Donohue and his kindness to our family by helping with the Coffee Gazebo.  ~ltb
260. Thank you for Ruby and Monroe and their visit today.  ~ltb
261. Thank you for Ruby and my time together. We eek it out.  ~ltb
262. Thank you for all that Ruby and JP have poured into my children.  ~ltb
263. Thank you for such a lovely day.  ~ltb
264. Thank you for such amazing women in my life and the prayer ministry that is happening.  ~ltb
265. Thank you for the IF:Pray gathering that women at RCC are putting together.  ~ltb
266. Thank you for your kindness and goodness to us Lord.  ~ltb
267.Thank you for Emerson and the blessing it is to babysit him! ~Elizabeth Lantz
268. Thank you that swim season has begun. I love the water and hard work! ~Elizabeth Lantz
269. Thank you for people! I love meeting new people and interacting with them. ~Elizabeth Lantz
270. Thank you for church and fellowship with other believers. ~Elizabeth Lantz
271. Thank you for history and all we can learn from it. ~Elizabeth Lantz
272. Thank you for thank you for the seasons. ~Elizabeth Lantz
273. Thank you for the Bible. ~Elizabeth Lantz
274. Thank you for roast beef. :) ~Elizabeth Lantz
275. Thank you that I can live in America. ~Elizabeth Lantz
276. Thank you for Adventures in Odyssey! ~Elizabeth Lantz
278. Thank you for technology. ~Elizabeth Lantz
279. Thank you for art and creativity! ~Elizabeth Lantz
280. Thank you for friends who love being creative with me! ~Elizabeth Lantz
281. Thank you for saturdays and youth group parties!~Elizabeth Lantz
282. Thank you for David Porter and that he stopped in on Wednesday. Thank you for this boy! ~ltb
283. Thank you for Jamar and Emily and their new baby Augusta Cleopatra. We love the name.  ~ltb
284. Thank you for allowing the Syrian refugees into Hungary. What answered prayer.  ~ltb
285. Thank you for the key randomly appearing for Pam Hopkins out of nowhere.  ~ltb
286. Thank you for keeping little baby girl Wilson insider her momma's tummy still.  ~ltb
287. Thank you for the health of Robyn with her pregnancy.  ~ltb
288. Thank you for Sydney and Marian stopping by and Sydney giving me an update on her schooling.  ~ltb
289. Thank you for all the children in my life.  ~ltb
290. Thank you for the privilege of knowing Ralph and Amy!  ~ltb

My goal is 1,000 entries.  It is inspired by Ann Voskamp's beautifully written book, "One Thousand gifts."

Add to this "Thank You!" list. Send your entry to and I will add it to the "Thank You!" list. Or if you are friends with me on facebook, you can let me know there.

Day 241 Cast Your Cares

Lynn, Nicky Sue, Abigail, Jenifer
September 5, 2015
Day 241

We drive through cement structures trying to avoid reckless, apathetic pedestrians and cars. We are in pursuit of Cast Your Cares. Life feels lethargic on these Philly streets. The barbed wires that roll on top of chain link fences speak of stark measures. Humans sitting on block steps talking on their cell phones and the absence of green growth sucks the oxygen right out of the room. This path brings us straight to Jim and Jenifer's home. We call to them to open the gate. Abigail their daughter greets us as she swings wide the steel barrier and we back into a parking space. We're holding back panic. Not really, but, yeah, kinda.

Men on the street help Abby lock the gate. To "first-timers" we wonder about her safety, our safety. We base our security on the mother and daughter's. They seem calm so we breath a little.  Later in the evening during casual conversation we learn that one of the men was not familiar to them, they did have concerns. Who knew? Their countenance, at the time, certainly didn't betray it. The reality of their life seeps in faster than we are able to comprehend. We choose to think on other things. Why did we raise all that money to send our children to Peru, they could have just visited the Sniders. Respect is rising.

Their little outside cement oasis, the size of a row home, is flowing with plants. The scene is straight out of Italy. Jim has a definite green thumb and has created a vineyard sprawling overtop outdoor tables and chairs. The grapes look fake until the juice of a concord is in your mouth. The contrast is stark behind the chain link fence. It is worlds apart from the man, across the street, lying on the sidewalk. This guy has obviously caved and given into the the dark force. But this family is working for the good force of Light!

Jenifer, Nicky Sue, Abigail
Jim and Jenifer's story is worth a listen. They move from Florida, leave a successful business to do ministry. Jesus calls and they say yes.  It is one of the most dangerous, heroin infested, places in Philly under the "L." And though it takes some time, Jen's heart finally does the journey and arrives here as well. And it is here she creates a lovely space from which they daily minister and raise three amazing individuals, one of whom is still home.

It is obvious Jenifer was born to be queen. There is no one else alive, like this little slender slice of a woman, who can get me to do what they want. "As you wish, Jen!" and off I go at her command. W-i-l-l-i-n-g-l-y! But there is nothing this woman would not do for anyone. She truly is a servant.

Their ministry is called Cast Your Cares. They are always open to donations. In a couple of weeks they are doing a bike ride for hunger. This is a family putting everything on the line. They know time is short, so they figure, why not make the most of it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Day 240 Little Feet

September 4, 2015
Day 240

Little feet so tiny
fit into these shoes
Little legs so firm 
and strong
walk away the blues.

Up and down
and all around
here and there
they go.
Little feet so tiny
fit into these shoes.

Day 239 The Wider Life

September 2, 2015
Day 239

Today our homestead was full of learning, art, wonder, newness, students, and teachers. In the studio the high schoolers were Art entrenched with Mary. They loved it. In the home, Terri, immersed them in ancient history. They were enthralled. And it went on like that till three in the afternoon. You could see the energy.

The Wider journey has definitely been an amazing one, filled with wonder and delight. To be at this day, after months of preparation, was like jumping off of a moving ship hoping to land safely while it was pulling away from the dock. Students thrill me. To see them process, inquire, and reflect is more fun than I should be allowed. I never wanted to be a solo homeschooler and this is a dream come true. There is so much more you can do with a smaller group.

These students are priceless and their individual bent on life is what I will enjoy learning most about as the year progresses. If today is any indication, it is going to be a great one.

Robyn, you are an amazing administrator and teacher. I enjoy working for you. Thank you for this Wider opportunity! To think and plan Wider has been just the challenge I seek.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 238 He Enchants

Sept 2, 2015
Day 238

He is a little boy of wonder, that Theodore James. Last year at this time he had been here only a month, today his old soul is wiser. He speaks as if we understand. He points with assertiveness and we do exactly what he wants. He is cautious with his smiles but full when he lets go. His little one year old body is strong and saturated with good health. His little hands hold the things he is curious about while his little neck moves with agility twisting to see things he must see. This boy truly lives.

Today, Theo and I know one another and communicate with no words. But soon, we will, in our native tongue, express our thoughts and there will be no turning back. Children are a marvel but this boy enchants.

Thank You God 234 - 255

234. Thank you for my daughter Robyn! I love working with her. We have learned boatloads together. ~ltb
235. Thank you for the privilege of doing Wider School and all that it entails. ~ltb
236. Thank you for all the conversations I have been able to have for the last two years with parents affirming and encouraging them in their endeavors. ~ltb
237. Thank you for my family who allows our home to be invaded for  Wider School. Thank you that all of my family members love it. ~ltb
238. Thank you for the new students! Thank you for the honor of getting to know more people. ~ltb
239. Thank you for bringing clarity to my spirit of your deep and abiding truths. ~ltb
240. Thank you for that Jennie Allen blog post today - ~ltb
241. Thank you for the small fire pit Brian gave to us. I so love sitting around it. It makes a bonfire so accessible. These are the nights I love to watch logs burning. ~ltb
242. Thank you that there is a picnic we are going to and that we can safely drive there without fear of bombs. ~ltb
243. Thank you that your eyes see everything. ~ltb
244. Thank you that your love endures. Endures is an indicator of pain. Thank you! ~ltb
245. Thank you for the wonderful time with the Kauffman's Sunday evening! ~ltb
246. Thank you that Rosita was able to make it work so that she could stay to enjoy time with the Kauffmans. ~ltb
247. Thank you for the wonderful Kauffmans! Oh, to know them is to love them! ~ltb
248. Thank you for allowing me to marry into the Kauffman family. So many have heartaches with inlaws, I have only had heartfulls with them. ~ltb
249. Thank you Lynn who goes behind the scenes and keeps making things happen. ~ltb
250. Thank you for Lynn's continued energy and excitement about life. Thank you so much. I praise you Lord for this. ~ltb
250. Thank you for the wonderful kayaking time with Pam, Terri, and Dale. What a joy. ~ltb
251. Thank you for my time with Deborah on Sunday! What fellowship! ~ltb
252. Thank you that Preston made it through the surgery and please give him patience in the recovery. ~ltb
253. Thank you that Nicky Sue has been able to provide Robyn with ever ready help! ~ltb
254. Thank you that the Shoffners wanted to use our backyard for a photo shoot! What fun. ~ltb
255. Thank you for Christopher's writing! The prose last night was a preacher in a pulpit expounding from your loving word.

My goal is 1,000 entries.  It is inspired by Ann Voskamp's beautifully written book, "One Thousand gifts."

Add to this "Thank You!" list. Send your entry to and I will add it to the "Thank You!" list. Or if you are friends with me on facebook, you can let me know there.