Friday, February 29, 2008
The above picture is the most recent glimpse of our new son! We are having a baby boy! And isn't that a cool picture, he's sucking his thumb...so amazing. (On a side note, the new 4-D sonogram pictures are so cool.) Everything looked really healthy, Shey is progressing well, the due date is sticking to July 6. For some health stuff based on Shey being a high-risk pregnancy because of a genetic trait that predisposes her to blood clots, they will probably induce her before July 6, but that's the date for now. Here's another picture helping to illustrate that this is a boy:
Some friends and family have already given us some cool stuff for the baby, and now stuff for our new baby boy. My parents gave us a little blue soccer ball, and a UNC t-shirt, along with some funny little "Momisms" and "Dadisms" books. Shey's folks have started storing up some cool baby stuff, gotten some really cute outfits, and animal place mats. Not to mention that Shey's dad is building a nursery for us in the house we are renting.
Things have been slightly crazy of late, but I'm really glad to have such great family and friends around to support us, and help us find our way through. Shey turned 27 this week, and it was so great to spend another birthday with her. We've almost known each other for 10 years now, wow. I love you so much sweet girl...here's to a fun trip over spring break, and here's to hoping that our son gets the creative, artistic, and generous spirit that you radiate and inhabit.
I'll leave you with another picture:
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Our speaker for the retreat was Jon Middendorf, a youth-pastor-become-senior-pastor at a church in Oklahoma City. Jon is a great guy, let me say that off the bat. We had great conversation, some good laughs, and shared some of the stories that are our lives together. We talked about how we began to be interested in the emerging conversation, and connected our journeys together through books, ideas, and the hopes and dreams of God for our world. Jon is an excellent speaker, casting grand visions of what the kingdom of God is like, how it comes about in the practice of Jubilee, and how it impacts the various relationships in our lives. Whether with God, personal, global, local, familial, or with creation, Jon helped our students to begin to recognize ways that God is seeking to reconcile the whole of creation in Christ. On a side note, Jon is a tall dude...please let this picture fool you into thinking that I am taller than I really am. I am standing on my tip-toes in this picture and Jon is laughing at me. Big thanks to Jon for traveling out to work with some crazy Baptist youth workers.
LivingStone Monastery where we stayed was a seriously awesome retreat location. The artwork around the monastery, the people who took care of us, and the ease with which things flowed seamlessly together helped make the retreat such an awesome experience. We couldn't have asked for anything better. They prepared our meals, they provided space for our worship gatherings, and they provided housing for us to stay. The care for our students and the excellence with which things were done helped make the trip go so well. They were flexible when things ran over time, and they worked with us when we had questions. A big thanks to Chris for working with our groups and helping us make this retreat happen!
Two of the most significant parts of the retreat for me personally were when we sang the theme song of the retreat "Give Reviving" and when we participated in communion together. Give Reviving is a beautiful hymn, redone by Chelsey Scott for the latest Indelible Grace project Wake Thy Slumbering Children. The lyrics of this song brought into an art form, the ideas, visions, and dreams that we hoped to inspire in our students during the retreat. Below are the lyrics and also a video that Stephen took of Kent and Tim playing the song during the retreat from his digital camera. Kent, Tim, and Andrea simply did a beautiful collaboration of work and art to help lead us into worship through images and music. I can't begin to thank these friends enough for their help in planning the retreat and working with us. They helped make the worship gatherings the beautiful experiences that they were, and I hope we'll get to do something like this again together!
1. Father for Thy, promised blessing,
Still we plead before Thy throne
For the times of, sweet refreshing,
Which can come from Thee alone
Blessed earnests, Thou hast given,
But in these we would not rest
Blessings still with, Thee are hidden,
Pour them forth and make us blest!
2. Prayer ascendeth to Thee ever,
Answer! Father, answer prayer
Bless oh bless each, weak endeavor,
Blood-bought pardon to declare
Wake Thy slumbering, children wake them,
Bid them to Thy harvest go
Blessings O our, Father make,
Round their steps let blessings flow
3. Let no people be forgotten,
Let Thy showers on all descend
That in one loud blessed anthem,
millions may in triumph blend
Give reviving, give refreshing,
Give the looked-for Jubilee
To Thyself may, crowds be pressing,
Bringing glory unto Thee
Tag: Give reviving, give refreshing,
Give the looked-for Jubilee
To Thyself may, crowds be pressing,
Bringing glory unto Thee
© 2007 Innocent Smith (admin by The Loving Company)/
Petit Bateaux Music (ASCAP).
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Lastly, our time of communion, and our participation in the Eucharist was one of the most moving times I've had with God in community for a while. After Jon set up our time, he invited Stephen and I to share the bread and cup with everyone. Stephen held the bread as each person came up, broke off a piece of bread as Stephen looked into their eyes and told them, "This is the body of Christ, broken for you." Then each person came to the cup, where they dipped the bread and I looked into their eyes and said, "This is the blood of Christ, shed for you." It had been a while since I've done communion by intinction, and for a few minutes, I felt like I was able to see people as I imagine God sees us. I was swelled up by this sense of hope and love, that Jubilee is possible, that each of us in Christ are able to join together to help fulfill the hopes and dreams of God for our world. For a few brief minutes, I lived in the reality that this was the sense of compassion, love, and hope that Jesus felt for the people he came in contact with during his life. Or maybe it was looking into the eyes of students and close friends, and feeling a deep sense of mystery being enacted, with the locus of meaning found in the reconciling Christ of my imagination and hopes. Whatever the reasons, and perhaps for others than I've mentioned, God seemed real and present in a way not often sensed for me.
There is so much more to share, and for a better break-down of the retreat, check out Stephen's post, but I thought I wouldn't traverse the same terrain, but share my experience of the retreat a bit. I'll try to post some other things today that are happening in the world of Josh and Shey. But I wanted to process the retreat a bit, and catch folks up who were wondering how it went. Thanks to everyone who helped make our retreat such a great experience.
Friday, February 15, 2008
We have asked Jon Middendorf to speak for our retreat, he is the Youth-Pastor-become-Senior-Pastor of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene, and podcast host with one of my favorite bloggers over at Leadership Buzz. He is going to be taking a look at some gospel passages that reiterate and emphasize this imagination of Jubilee, and how we might let this concept inform our lives and impact our world today. Jon has been talking about this idea of Jubilee at his church for a while, and so when we started emailing about possibly working together (a long time ago now), and I asked him how he'd feel about talking about Jubilee, it was a great fit. I'm excited to have a chance to talk about theology, emerging stuff, the change from youth to senior pastor, and just life stuff with Jon. I'm hoping that this will be the start of a new friendship, and will be a wonderful experience for our students.
We will be hosting the the retreat at LivingStone Monastery, a Protestant monastery in Newport News, VA that should be a creative space for reflection, conversation, our worship gatherings, and change. For the record, if you are looking to host a small to medium size retreat, probably no more than 50 people, then this might be a great option for you. For $25/night, they provide lodging, 3 meals, and meeting space. You really can't beat that. They are wonderful to work with, timely in their responses, and helpful to accomplish your goals in setting up your retreat. You can do stuff with those living there, or you can do your own thing, they are flexible and help you think through details. I can't recommend them enough!
We will be having 3 worship gatherings, a chance to put Jubilee into practice through a service opportunity, a question & answer session with the community living at the monastery, and we will watch either 4 Little Girls or God Grew Tired of Us to further reflect on Jubilee on Saturday evening. Along with our speaker, we are bringing in some great friends of mine, Kent & Andrea Jaffrey and Tim Gardner to play music for the worship gatherings. They are fantastic musicians and Andrea while being a Ministries Assistant at our church, is also helping run the videos, and slides, etc. during the worship gatherings. The songs that they have chosen look awesome, the slides/videos are cohesive and powerful, and overall, it looks like the worship gatherings are going to be beautiful.
Sunday, we will head home, stopping for a little relaxation, food, and fun at Chuck E. Cheese after the main part of the retreat is over. I can't remember being this excited for a retreat in a long time. Summit Lake was awesome with Chris Folmsbee last year, but it is fun to craft a retreat with a friend in a smaller setting, and dream specifically for the students I am working with, and build it from scratch.
Here's to a good weekend, great conversation, God's Spirit moving and us being open to hear and see. This is the closing prayer for each worship gathering for this weekend, and sums up well our dreams for where our hearts will be moved towards:
A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make us intruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.