Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We were a small group this Sunday - - well, we're always kind of a small group; yesterday we were smaller than normal; Jaime and Miriam were out of town on a business trip this weekend, so they were missing
Brett showed up at five o'clock with the lettuce we needed for the salad - -well, it was escarole not lettuce, but it did the job just fine. Rachel and I finished up prepping the food plates in the kitchen as Joshua and Brett transferred the plates from the kitchen into the dining/living room.
The melon went out
and the jamon
and the the leftover roasted red peppers that Brett had brought over the day before when he came over made Joshua and the kids some pork loin and red pepper bocadillos while Rachel and I were downtown having the time of our lives at the (recently discovered by us) Pamplona antique/junk fair.
and the wine went out, of course, and the baguette - - which, as Malachai likes to remind us, is uncut because "Paul says that eating from one bread makes us one body!"
We loaded up our plates and sat around the coffee table with our bibles and our food and discussed our need as the church to speak God's truth into each others lives. we talked about how it seems that, for some reason, all Christians tend to have areas in their lives that are not gospel shaped. Perhaps because we have never really thought about how the gospel could shape that corner of our words or relationships or attitudes, or maybe because we willingly choose to overlook it.
so I'm thinking this week about what those untouched (or even just mildly touched) corners might be in my life, and I'm encouraged as I remember that I'm not in this alone; my church family is there to help me too.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Roman visitors (kind of)

we met Brian and Sarah Bennetch about seven years ago in France at our first ever missionary conference; they were, at that time, church planting in Belgium. Over the course of the past seven years, we have had continued sporadic interaction with them- - through emails, at conferences, women's retreats, or the West Europe city team leader meetings.
This week Brian and Sarah actually came to us in Pamplona, and we had two whole personal Bennetch days! They arrived on Wednesday morning so we towed them right along with us to our local coffee shop,
and introduced them to everyone along the way;
They are Americans living in Rome? my friend Ana asked.
"you know what we're doing here in Pamplona?" I told her - - "trying to rethink religion and tradition and the church according to the bible? Well, that's what they are doing, but in Rome"
"ahaaaa" Ana said. she kind of gets us (we talk a lot)

and we took them downtown, past the bull stadium, through the narrow cobblestone streets of downtown, into Pamplona's central plaza, and then up to the Caballo Blanco - - a cafe on the top of one of Pamplona's ancient citadel walls that overlooks the northern part of the city. We ordered some good Spanish basics and talked, and watched the boys play futbol and dance the robot, and then watched Selma convince a complete stranger to read a storybook to her
It was so good to spend time with Brian and Sara . . . they so clearly love the Lord, his church and his world. They have hurt and been blessed and grown over the course of life and ministry. . . so we listened attentively as they shared stories about their marriage and family and 16 years of ministry in Brussels and about their recent transition to Rome, and we enjoyed as they probed into our lives and ministry and asked us lots of good questions like:
what would you say has been your most fruitful time of ministry in Pamplona and why?
what were the biggest lessons that you guys learned through that "year of pain" that you went through a couple of years ago?

they listened to our answers. . . and shared wise input, and asked more questions
you know . . . the church being the church!
I think next time we should plan for three days instead of two . . .

Monday, September 21, 2009

1. 2. 3.

last week we went down to the Plaza behind our place to spend a crazy, noisy hour outside (keeping things friendly with the downstairs neighbor, you know?)
Selma loaded her cart up with three important items:
1. the baby
2. the picnic basket
3. the flyswatter
way to go sweet girl; always prepared!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a little bit sad about something happy

My sister in law, Gabrielle, is due to give birth to her baby boy soon; my boys and I have been talking about this pretty much every day this past week:
I'll grab Malachai as he's walking by me and we'll snuggle for a minute and pray for the mama and baby
"our first baby boy cousin ever! I remind them over and over again
"you know, having a little boy cousin means that you, the bigger boy cousins need to teach him good stuff; what are you going to teach him?" (Josu says he's going to teach him how to wrestle)
"good morning guys! . . . do you think your baby cousin was born last night?"
this will be Gabrielle's third delivery. When Amaleah, Luke and Gabrielle's first girl, was born I wished I could be with her, and with Julia's delivery too . . . but I knew I couldn't, because I was where I needed to be, and they were where they needed to be, and that (divinely) happened to be across the the ocean; and that was that.
I don't know what it is about this third baby . . .but lately I have this lingering, deeper ache in knowing that I can't be there - - waiting for the girls to be dropped off in the frenzied trip the hospital, or coming into the hospital room and seeing baby cousin for the very first time, or dropping by Taco Cabana on the way to the hospital to bring Gabrielle the food I know she's really craving after so many hours of hard labor.

well, the previously stated facts are still there; and that is that,
we are looking forward to the phone call,
and the outrageous number of pictures that with be posted online,
and to seeing our baby boy cousin en vivo for the first time next summer

will someone please promise me that they will take a special food order for Gabrielle (according to actual craving) when she is in the hospital and take it to her in my name? I would really, really like that!

these pictures were taken in May of this year, when Luke and cute pregnant Gabrielle and family came out to visit us. it was awesome.

Monday, September 14, 2009

when I used to be a bad guy: the gospel for my Josu

I just tucked my Josu into his bed, and prayed for "all his sickness" as requested . . .
and as I snuggled close to him and worked hard at patiently listening to him share his pre-nap thoughts and concerns, I remembered that trip on the train home from Madrid . . .

(first, though, you need to know . . . ) I wonder sometimes how to speak to Josu's heart; I have a hard time captivating his attention with biblical stories; I have a hard time engaging him in meaningful give and take; and sometimes I'm just like - - "what in tarnations did that kid just say? Was he speaking English or Spanish?"
so a couple of weeks ago, at the end of that really fantastic, tiring day in Madrid, I found myself paired with Josu on our train ride home to Pamplona; we were drawing together - - I drew a castle and he drew a knight, then I drew the dragon, and then, inevitably, he drew the bad guy.
bother. he's infatuated with that bad guy.
I tend to gently steer him away from that bad guy.
but not this time.
"you know, Josu, mama used to be a bad guy too", I told him.
Never-ever in my life have I seen my Josu perk up so quickly - - his back went straight - - I could literally see his eyes spark with interest. Seriously - - sparks flying. he dropped his pencil.
"you tell me about when you a bad guy, Mama?" he begged.
And so I told him how I had been an enemy of the the great King - - about how the great King had created me and loved me, but I hated him, and because I disobeyed the great King, I disobeyed my parents and I argued with my brothers and sisters, and I was sneaky and lied to my Mama and Papa about the chocolate that I stole. . .
And Josu listened.
and then I told him the extra good bit - - about not being a bad guy anymore because the great King - - God the Father, sent his son Jesus to be punished for all the bad things I had done, and that I trusted Jesus, and that the great King forgave me and gave me the life of a good guy.

and that was that.
we kept drawing.
and late, late that night, in the parking lot at the train station, as Joshua strapped Josu into his carseat, Josu said to Joshua, "Papa . . . Mama used-to be a bad guy . . . "

Sunday, September 06, 2009

in Madrid for a day

on our way home from Poland, we stayed a night in Madrid so that Joshua could do an important manly missionary job (a meeting with another church planter). Remember what I said earlier about Joshua's mad, mad internet skills? he did it again, he not only kept us within budget, he also put us right across the street from the Reina Sofia - - one of Madrid's nicest museums . . .

I really had the nicest sort of day . . . Joshua left me snoozing in the posh hotel bed, took the crying baby out, and brought me back the largest cappuccino known to mankind (ok, not really, it was just a Starbucks venti, but that seems really, really huge to me when I'm used to a Spanish sized coffee) and a box of doughnuts. I love doughnuts. especially in Spain where they aren't so readily available.
and then we all bathed and lounged around in huge hotel towels (except for Josu, who lounged around in nothin)
once we were all clean and dressed all cultured-like, we headed out to the tourist trap Starbucks in the museum plaza (for the meeting, of course), where the kind Starbucks employees entertained my children with balloons and straws and Joshua and I had interesting, stimulating conversation about the church in Madrid and in Spain. when that was done we headed across the plaza to the Reina Sofia and hung out there until we had to catch our 7pm train to Pamplona.
see? we're so cultured.
so, the point of all that was really to tell you that the best part of my day happened on the train ride home; but now I need to stop writing because the church comes over in an hour for our study and dinner (the Lord's table) and I need to (want to) get ready for them.

I'll try to get to the fantastic train part tomorrow.