done.

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May 31, 2017

Today is my husband’s last day as the Forge Director at Pine Cove.  

It closes out a chapter that is 12 years long.

To be exact, that’s 4,412 days that he’s given to the ministry of the Forge.
Almost 1/3 of his life.

In ministry, you’re on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means 105,888 hours that he has devoted to the mission of training up leaders for a lifetime of ministry.

12 years ago when we began this journey, we had no idea where it would go, what we were doing, or if it would even last longer than a year or two. We sat in a van with 12 students, driving them to their first destination and we looked at each other.  Our eyes said, “What in the world are we doing? What do we do next?”

Over 275 students later, that chapter has come to a close and I can say this:
I’m proud of him.  Exceedingly proud.

I didn’t know until this year, but one of the first things he says to his students on the very first night they arrive is, “Whatever we do, we will do together.  And you can know that you will get all of me.  You’ll get whatever I have to offer.”

And that… he has done.  He has given all of himself to this ministry.  Long days, late night phone calls and emergencies, triumphs and celebrations when his students succeeded, tough days when they failed or suffered or grieved together, thousands of miles on I-20, hundreds of miles hiked in Israel, hundreds of classes taught, over 800 office hours… hundreds of students’ lives directly influenced, and thousands of parents, mentors, mentees, relationships, marriages, children, families, ministries and businesses indirectly influenced by his investment with the Forge.

All that being said, there are two things that make me the most proud.

1. Matt leads people like Jesus did.
2. Matt leads people to Jesus.

Matt asks questions.  He pours into others’ lives, but also teaches them to think and learn for themselves.  He doesn’t spoon-feed every answer, he won’t let you be lazy when it comes to Scripture (or P2, or anything else, for that matter).  He holds Scripture and the gospel in the very highest esteem; it’s the air he breathes and he never misses an opportunity to point people to it.

I’ll be the first to say that people are drawn to this; they are drawn to Matt because the way he teaches and invests in people is unlike anyone else I know.  For a leader, this is a place of great temptation: to see your own appeal and start to think that you are the ultimate, that making disciples of yourself is worthwhile (and it makes you feel pretty good too).  But the thing I am the most proud of in my husband, is that he has resisted this temptation over and over, and continually deflects attention from himself and returns people to the “Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.”

During Jesus’ ministry, people were drawn to Him, yet He continually directed His followers to the Father.  I have watched as students and staff have been drawn to Matt, and he always directed them to Jesus. I know there are countless students who joined the Forge because Matt was there; I know most of them would say they learned from Matt, but what they learned from Matt was the most important thing: that the gospel of Jesus is above all else.

If, in 12 years, Matt has taught anyone anything, it is that.

And that, is 12 years well spent.

Well done. I love you.

Your partner in it,
Darcie

poor moses

We have three kids.  It is very easy to get impatient with them.

Like today.

They were picking on each other, being mean, complaining, whining, fussing… like kids do.  And that’s just two of them – the third is a baby.  He just cries, but it’s not really his fault, right?

Anyway, I started this Bible study 4 years ago.  You go through the Bible one book per week for 3 years to complete it.  Yes, 3 years to complete it.   Why have I been doing it for 4 years?  Because I felt like I needed to start over.  Mainly because of Moses.  He’s my man.

We have three kids.  Moses led a group of millions of whining, complaining Israelites.  We’ve had these kids for 6 years. (the oldest)  Moses led those people for over 40 years.  Complaining.  No wonder he struck the rock instead of speaking to it.  I would have flipped a lid.  At the first mention of “We were better off in Egypt!”, I would have said, “Great.  Head on back.  Have fun with that.”

And what did Moses get for it?  With one slip – taking things into his own hands,  demonstrating his frustration with the people of Israel by striking a rock instead of speaking to it like God commanded, he was voted out.  No Promised Land for you.

I would have been right there with you, Moses.

Then, in thinking about the “great” men of the Old Testament, I started thinking… These men were all called to do these great things.  They are remembered as the “big men” of Scripture.  But they were all called to do jobs that were not glorious, not fun, a lot of work, full of complaints, dirty and without much gratitude from the people they were serving.  (Though we make them out to be glorious heroes, and we make feature films out of them.)

Moses: Millions of dirty, exhausted, beaten-down Israelites.  Ungrateful. Idolatrous at times.  Complaining.  40 years.  In the middle of the wilderness.

Noah: Surrounded by wicked people.  Unrepentant. Physical labor building the largest boat known to man at the time. Exhausting.  With no applause.

Jonah: Sent to speak to an evil enemy nation.  Miles and miles from home.  Traveling in the dust.  Disobeying.  Getting swallowed by a big fish.  Not fun.  No applause.

David: Pursued by Saul who wanted to end his life.  Fighting giants.  Endless battles…

… on and on.  These are the Biblical greats.  All called to hard, endless, dirty, thankless jobs.  God didn’t call them to these jobs because they were good at them, or because they were great, great men.  He just called them.

And he called me to be a mom to these 3 children.  And be patient with them.  And serve them, even when they’re fussy.  Even when they don’t like the manna and quail (so to speak) that I put on the table.  Even when they wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or hit each other, or whine, or wet the bed, or spill stuff… this is the job that I’ve been given.  The job that I wanted.

So… I’ll be starting my 5th year of this Bible study in a few weeks.  🙂  Bring on the prophets!  God’s proof of his patience with us, over and over and over.  And a reminder of the patience I need to have when serving the little “nation” that has been entrusted to me.

what sabbath looks like

About a year or two ago, my husband and I decided it was time to start practicing some type of Sabbath.  It’s something that Americans are not very good at doing, but after going to Israel twice (for me) and 10+ times for my husband, we were hit with the idea of how important it is to have a day of rest.  Watching our Jewish friends practice it there, how strictly they hold to it and protect it, is pretty convicting.

You’d think we’d know that by now… it’s in the Bible from the very first book, just after the very first chapter.  He commands it of us.  (You know, one of the “Big Ten.”)  Jesus practiced rest.

So, we started doing it.  For us, it has meant more like a half day of rest.  We chose Sunday afternoons as our time of Sabbath.  We attend church, we eat lunch (out usually, which means no dishes!), and then we just rest.  Until dinner.

That rest looks like:
Playing with kids in the backyard
“Working” on hobbies or things that are fun for us
Sitting on the couch and doing nothing!
Reading – our own books, or to our kids
Having grown-up talk time while our kids play quietly/nap in their rooms

It also means that dinner is usually:
Leftovers
Popcorn 🙂
A crockpot meal that was started at breakfast or lunchtime
… or something easy like Breakfast for Dinner

It also means that this is what Sabbath looks like…

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If you know me, and you have read The Five Love Languages, then you know that my love language is a clean kitchen. 🙂  So for the first LONG time that we tried this, this drove me crazy.  I couldn’t sit still when there was stuff to do around me.  That sink full of dishes… I was nuts.  I’ve even tried making sure that on Saturday nights before we went to bed, that the house was spotless so I knew that Sunday would come and that sink wouldn’t be staring me in the face saying, “Haha, you can’t clean me today!” (Okay, I still do that sometimes)

Things have changed a little.  I don’t stress about it as much.  I admit, when I went into the kitchen tonight and saw that sink, my first thought was still, “Why are there so many dishes in the sink right now?”  But then I quickly remembered… Sunday.  Sabbath.  It’s okay if there are dishes in the sink.  And I don’t have to do them right now.

And wow.  Can I say what a freeing thing it is?  I know the dishes will be there later tonight, or tomorrow.  And I know that it’s okay that there were toys still on the coffee table when we tucked the kids in.  That wasn’t our job today.  Our job was to rest.

It’s a spiritual thing, for sure, but I’d say I’ve learned even more from it just in the realm of “practical” than spiritual.  It just makes sense to allow yourself to rest and enjoy.

Tomorrow, I can do those dishes with joy, knowing that today I rested.

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Have you practiced a time of Sabbath rest?  What did/does it look like?  What have you learned from it? 

the “old” testament

For the past (almost) 2 years, I’ve been doing a ladies Bible study at church. (I mentioned it  briefly here.)   The basic structure is you study, discuss & watch a video on a book of the Bible per week.  Fast-paced when you have two little kids underfoot and not a lot of quiet time during the day.

It has taken us over 1 1/2 years to move through the Old Testament into the New.  I don’t know why I haven’t done a study like this sooner.  Churches seem to focus on the New Testament more often, and I understand why – That’s where Jesus “is,” and He’s what makes Christianity different from other religions – however, if we neglect what is written before Jesus physically arrives on the scene, we are missing something.

We are missing a lot
… the whole left-hand side!
We are missing pages and pages of Jesus, even though He’s not walking on the earth on human feet.

I’ve been thinking about it more as we lead up to Easter.  Without the Old Testament, we miss the big picture, and what I’ve learned even more in-depth this year… we miss the need for a Savior, and the ever-sweeter-arrival of Him when He appears in the right-hand side.

I know after 20+ years that I was still missing some of it.  I encourage you to take a dive into the “Old” Testament, and look at it in a new way!

messiah

Last Monday night we got to go see a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth.  Then Wednesday night, we had the privilege of seeing Andrew Peterson & friends at the Behold the Lamb of God concert.  I can’t recommend either of these highly enough.  My husband grew up in a home full of music and choir (thanks, Mom Lantz) so Messiah has been one of his favorites for a long time.  I attribute my knowledge of it to him – how he plays it on his iPhone on Sunday mornings as we get ready for church.  I’m glad our kids will now grow up in a home full of music as well.

I was struck by something, sitting at the Bass Hall, listening to the choir sing this passage from Isaiah…

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I think I’ve heard this hundreds of times.
In reading, it being quoted, in song, in sermon references during the Christmas season.

I like it.  Always have.
But I feel like I’ve been missing something.

You see, it says a child is born to us.  A son is given.
Then it says He will be called God and Everlasting Father.
AND, Wonderful Counselor.

I totally missed this picture of the Trinity all these years.
It’s all wrapped up in that one little verse.
The Son, the Spirit (Counselor) and the Father.

When Jesus says “I and the Father are one,” in John 10, He means it.

How else could a child, a son, a little baby born in a manger be referred to as the Everlasting Father?

Merry Christmas!

Had you ever noticed this?   Just a little dose of theology, from someone still learning the basics after 20+ years. 🙂