Sending Associates Conference

I (Anne) just returned from one week in Orlando, Florida. Apart from enjoying the Florida sunshine, which coming from the NW I truly appreciate, I was there as part of Campus Crusade's Sending Associate Conference. A Sending Associate is a role within Campus Crusade that works specifically with our new staff applicants. We assess, evaluate, hire and develop individuals and then send them to the mission field. I've served in this role for 4 years, and I absolutely love it. As a mom, I feel that my impact (while limited because of my responsibilites at home) is great because God is using me to influence new missionaries who will serve across the US and the world.

Last spring I was asked by Crusade's National Sending and Recruiting team to help give leadership to this conference. This was one of the largest responsibilities I've taken on in my 8+ years on staff, and I must say, most enjoyable. I felt confident in my ability, not only because of how the Lord has gifted me, but also because of a highly qualified team I was working with out of Orlando. Over the course of 4 days we trained new Sending Associates and fine-tuned the skills of those who have been doing this far longer than I.

I believe in Crusade's process that one goes through in order to join our staff full-time. If it remains one that both serves and develops our applicants, I'm convinced we will continue to send more and more laborers into the mission field.


Alex the biker

I went running last night and Alex rode his bike with me while I ran. This has become something he and I love to do. My dad and I used to do that when I was a kid, and I have fond memories from those times.

Anyway, we ended up going six miles tonight. Alex rode his bike six miles. Yesterday he ran 1.5 miles. He is five years old. Amazing.


So Friday, on my way home from our weekly staff meeting, my pickup truck stalled and died at a stoplight. It has been sputtering for a couple weeks now, but that has gone away as the truck has warmed up. Yesterday, the sputter came to collect.

It was actually a good thing for several reasons. First, I was about to enter traffic on I-84 during rush hour on Friday. This is one of the busiest stretches of road in the Northwest. Breaking down just two minutes later would have fouled up traffic for miles in every direction, so I am thankful that didn't happen. Second, the weather was nice, so I didn't have to wait in the rain or the dark for a tow truck. Third, I have not needed to do any repairs greater than routine maintenance on that truck for almost five years now. It has served us masterfully.

Fourth, Anne and I have been thinking for some time now that we need to replace the truck with a more sensible car. I drive a ton, and the 15 mpg that I get just isn't cutting it anymore. Plus, with sputters and creaks and groans, it is showing its 15 years more regularly than it used to.

Would you please pray for a car for us? We are looking for a four-door, Camry/Accord-style car, although other models would certainly be fine too. It does not need to be new or flashy, but it will need to be in good mechanical shape for use around Portland and during our summer travels here, there, and everywhere. And we would like it to look decent; I loathe the "poor missionary" look that the peeling paint and rust on my truck communicate. We feel that it doesn't do honor to how well God has provided for us over the years.

We aren't in a hurry, yet. But this incident seems to be God telling us to start looking.


My girl

Before we had kids, I wasn't sure how I would do with a girl. I am not the most sensitive guy. I have no feminine side to get in touch with, and I tend to be very direct when I communicate. I am oblivious to fashion, and I have no grid to process cosmetics of any kind, be it makeup, paint, or fancy curtains.

I must say, I have been surprised by Allison. I love to go to her tea parties; I love to listen to her talk about "beautiful stuff" (makeup and hair care); I love to watch her TV shows with her. Tonight she and I watched "The Saddle Club", a show about three girls, their horses, and the adventures they all have together. I had a great time watching it, too.

Laugh at me if you want (but don't expect me to laugh at you laughing at me - my daughter gets a pass that no one else does!). She has been talking about Saddle Club all week. Every day she has asked me if it was going to be on today or another day. Her excitement has been contagious.

I have long thought that most Christians think too harshly of God. Yes, he is righteous and sinless and will judge. Yes, some will be condemned in his sight. But for those of us who stand as children of the Father through a relationship with Jesus, does he not love us exceedingly more than we fathers love our own children?

The Bible says that God "delights" over his people (children). If I delight at Allison's tea parties and girlie TV shows, which believe me are way out of my realm, how much more can we be certain that God the Father loves us, wants us to have good things, and is delighted when we are pleased with his blessings?

I hope that we all can learn to be loved by God the way that he really would have us be loved by him. I hope that just as Allison's excitement was contagious for her TV show, that Jesus' assurances that the Father is wanting to love us and be our True Father will be contagious too.

Alex the speedster

Today at school Alex's class had a runathon to raise some money. Anne showed up to pick Alex up and he was soaked from head to toe with sweat. He ran 1.5 miles in 15 minutes.

I am amazed. His short legs running at a 10-minute per mile pace is incredible! Apparently he was all confidence, too. He told the teachers that he knew how to pin his number on because he has already done a couple races. He also talked about his "next race", a 5k he wants to run in a few weeks.

This kid is already faster than I was in junior high school. I ran a mile in 11 minutes when I was 10.


This is creepy...

I was there when this happened. I didn't see it, but I was right where it happened the night before and the night after. Eerie. Read with caution - it is a fairly graphic news story.


Old beyond their years

I have begun to notice a disturbing tendency in my children. It isn't always obvious, and sometimes I go for weeks without noticing, but it is there nonetheless if I look for it: they are growing up.

Yesterday I had the kids in the car. I flip channels on TV and the radio very rapidly, usually knowning in less than a second if it is something I want to watch/listen to. I was changing the radio stations and scanned quickly through the song "Let's Get It Started" by the Black-Eyed Peas. I had moved on in less than a second when from the back seat:

Allison: "Dad, turn that back. That was the "Get Started" song!"
Me, amazed: "How did you know that?"
Alex: "We hear it sometimes when Mom drives."

They proceeded to sing most of the words, including all the "yeah yeahs" and "uh huhs", spot on. Amazing.

Retreat update

As I mentioned a few days ago, much has happened around our house lately. Last weekend I was away for our Portland Metro Fall Retreat.

Overall, the quality of the weekend was high. Our speaker, Sam Osterloh, did an amazing job of bringing the Bible to life as he spoke about the book of Ruth. He spoke about how Naomi and Elimelech turned aside from their inheritance in Israel to pursue their own life in Moab, a lowly place. When Naomi and Ruth returned to Israel, they were redeemed from their wanderings by Boaz, and brought back into the family of God. Sam drew a beautiful image of sin, repentance, and redemption that will long stick with me.

Worship was good as well. Brian, a friend of Campus Crusade, led a simple but powerful worship set. When the worshipers sing louder than the worship leaders, that is a good thing.

The turnout was poor, however. This year is my first year as campus director, and I have been wondering what role this retreat plays in the overall ministry to the city. Students just did not respond well to our efforts to recruit (admittedly we could have done more, but that seems too much like manufacturing momentum). So, I head to the drawing board to determine if God is signalling a change for the next time around, or if we see this as an anamoly and continue to do business as usual.

Either way, the weekend was good. God was glorified, the Gospel was preached, and we learned a little more about how to do ministry better.


Pictures from the city

The French Quarter seems back to normal. Here are a few pictures I took on a short visit after a day of work. The French Quarter mixes history and seediness in equal measures, as you can see.

St. Louis Cathedral...a truly beautiful building. A psychic sitting on one of the benches asked us where we were from. Irony is funny.

This band is called "The Remedy". They are very good. If you are in New Orleans, go see them.

Stories from the field

Here are a few scattered stories from New Orleans to give a picture of what it is like there...

Have you ever mopped a floor? Do you know how the water in the mop bucket gets brown and smelly really fast? In a hurry, have you ever used the brown water to "clean" the floor? If you have, then you know the smell of a room that has been mopped with dirty mopwater. Well, that is what New Orleans smells like, in my opinion. The whole city smells like it has been washed down with that nasty-smelling mop water. Initially it was hard for me to adjust to the work there because the smell was so bad in so many places, and everything felt sticky. I don't know if that is how it always was before, but it wasn't until we started actually doing service work for people that I was able to put aside my recoil and get about helping others.

The wind-damaged areas of town seem to be pretty much back to normal, in terms of function and population. The flooded areas, however, are obviously still years away from normal. A few brave families have moved back into houses in St. Bernard and the Ninth Ward. Essentially they are camping inside their gutted houses; they are sleeping on cots among the bare studs, wires, and subfloors. They are rebuilding their houses as they have the money to do so...a room here, a room there. In many cases they do not yet have electricity or water in their houses.

The worst part of gutting a house is the refrigerator. They were filled with water when the floods came, and for some reason the water never leaked back out. So, 14 months later, after heat and rot, the "Katrina Stew" inside a refrigerator is among the most overpowering smells one could ever experience. The smell of a breached fridge has caused many relief workers to be violently ill on the spot. Because of this, gutters are instructed not to move a refrigerator until the very end of the gutting process, to avoid spilling or leaking even a small amount of the foul black ooze. Regardless of the warning, I decided it would help my group to move a fridge out of the way of the hallway it was blocking, and sure enough, the door opened and the ooze came out everywhere. I could smell it through my p100 super-filtration mask. I could smell it outside at the street. My group was not happy. Not happy at all. I apologized profusely. Even so, I heard stories about myself later that day from others not in our group - "Hey, I hear some idiot moved the fridge at one of the houses today." "Yeah, that was me." "Oh...that was dumb."

I have never seen so many roaches. It was like science fiction.

My favorite thing is having a hammer in one hand and a crowbar in the other. There is a certain technique that allows you to hammer and pry and remove an entire 4x8 sheet of panelling or sheetrock at one time. It is such a rush. You feel like some kind of man-machine. An entire room can be stripped in a matter of minutes. I literally cannot get tired of doing that.

The act of kicking down a door almost never happens for a happy reason - imagine bringing your baby home from the hospital and kicking down the door in excitement - but it is one of the most powerful feelings when you do it, and it is my belief that we each must take every advantage of an opportunity to do so.

Many of the volunteers who responded to the need are no longer there. The relief effort is hurting due to lack of interest. There are still several years' worth of work to do. The residents have no hope to rebuild apart from the efforts of volunteers.

I stepped on a nail that broke the skin on the bottom of my foot, even through my work boots. It can be dangerous work.

Many residents have no insurance to cover the damage. It is classified as flood damage, which is not covered by most home insurance policies. They must rebuild from their own pockets.

The camraderie from this type of work is intense. Friendships are nearly instantaneous.

New Orleans

New Orleans was amazing, again. I can't get away from how moving it is to work there to help the helpless rebuild their lives. 27 students and 6 CCC staff went with our group, and had a tremendous experience.

We stayed at a Habitat for Humanity shelter: Camp Hope, in the St. Bernard Parish. This shelter is an amazing facility; any of you who plan to go should look into staying there. It is clean, well-organized, has good food, abundant hot water for showers, and air-conditioned sleeping quarters. When you are doing really dirty work like house gutting, these accomodations allow you to work harder and be more effective.

This is Kat, a woman whose house we worked on. Her insurance company cancelled her policy without notice in June 2005, two months before her house flooded. All day she was combing through the pile of debris we were making in front of her house. I will long remember the tears in her eyes when I handed her a picture of her daughter at her Homecoming Formal that had been untouched by flood water.

This is the debris pile at lunch time. We had been working for a few hours at this point, but the pile was twice as large at the end of the day, and there was still quite a bit more for the next day. Try and imagine for a moment what it would look like if everything you owned was piled in the street in front of your house. And then all the sheetrock and insulation and carpeting was thrown on top of that. This pile topped out at around nine feet high and stretched along the whole front of her property. This was a modest house.

Here are some of the University of Portland students on their lunch break, talking with Kat.

Overall, it was a great experience. Next week we will be having a meeting to debrief from our trip. I am excited to hear how they are processing what they saw.

Crazy times!

We are in the middle of a crazy two weeks. I was in New Orleans last week, got back, went to our Fall Retreat, and then Anne left for Orlando all of this week. My mom was in town but left today, my birthday was on Sunday, and Alex has a birthday party today. Which way is up?

Anyway, things are starting to look a little sane again. I am going to give some time today to catching up with everyone on New Orleans and everything else. There is much to share.

Thanks for being patient!


Back from New Orleans

I'm back from New Orleans. I will catch up on posting soon, I promise, with pictures and some stories. Tomorrow I am off to Portland Metro's Fall Retreat, out at the beach.

Anne leaves next week for her national CCC Human Resources Conference. She has planned much of it, and it is almost here.

After that, we are in the routine of life for a couple months. I travel a couple times in Novmber and December, but mostly we will have some stable time as a family.

Have a great weekend!


You always hurt the ones you love

Yesterday was a tough day with Allison. She was low-grade moody all day, and threw an epic tantrum right before dinner. By the time I got home, Anne had had enough. As she was venting to me about her day with her daughter, she said:

"You should take her for a while. She's your daugther. She's just like you: grouchy when she wakes up, loud, stubborn...well, at least she doesn't look like you!"

I found this extremly funny. I have always said that one of my fears was that I would have a daughter that looked like me.

I have long thought that we say things to our spouses that we would never say to anyone else. I actually think that is a good thing, since a marriage should be a place where you can trust each other to say and hear anything.

Even so, that was a good one! (Anne was right on all counts, by the way.)

Oh, and Anne can share some of my blurted-out gems too, if she wants.

Alex gets it

Last week I spoke at two different home Bible studies on two different nights. I enjoy sharing our ministry with others, but it usually drags a little on me because I have to be away from my family in the evening.

This time around I wanted to find out if Alex is finally old enough to come with me to some of my "meetings" (as the kids call anytime Dad leaves the house). I took him along to the first one, and he did great! He was polite and respectful to the adults, he behaved himself, and even cleaned up after himself when it was time to leave. (Seriously, I looked him over to see if someone had injected him with something!)

When we got home I told him he did so well that he could come with me again to my next meeting. He asked me if Allison could come too!

Me: "No, buddy, I don't think so."
Alex: "Why not, Dad?"
Me: "Well, Alex, what happens when you and Allison are around each other sometimes?"
Alex: "Ooooohhhhh, riiiight, goofing around."

Off to New Orleans

So, I leave for New Orleans tomorrow on a flight at the dark hour of 6:10 am. I am excited to go; it has come up on me very quickly. Many of the students who are going are not Christian, so our staff team and student leaders have an amazing opportunity to share Jesus with them. Pray for many chances to do so!

Also pray for our safety and the logistics of the trip. This time around I haven't been the one pulling the whole thing together as I did last time. Students have really owned the planning of this one. Still, we have several different flights arriving both Sunday and Monday, we will be working with two different relief agencies, and our departures are on two different days as well.

I'll have pictures when I get back.


The Pumpkin Patch

We had a beautiful 70 degree day here in Portland so we hit a Pumpkin Patch. Here are a few photos from our outing. Enjoy!


Now, my daughter has done it too...

I (Anne) was checking my e-mail yesterday morning in our home office. Now, I must say our office is not childproof and the kids spend very little time in there. Allison came down to see what I was doing, and I admit, I was focused more on the computer than on her. I heard the sound of 'snip, snip' and when I turned I discovered she was cutting her own bangs with a pair of scissors. Fortunately, I was close enough to stop her after only two cuts.

Later, when Adam asked her about it, her reply was, 'Well, if you guys would have put the scissors away, I wouldn't have had to cut my hair.' Pretty logical for a 2 1/2 year old.

This seems to be a rite of passage in a young girl's life. I've noticed they either cut their own hair, or someone elses'. What I am wondering is why it always seems to happen right around a prime photo time, like a scheduled Christmas card picture. :)

You can see the missing pieces below. The good thing is, we can hide it behind the rest of her bangs.


Clark County update

So we have had a difficult time over the years getting campus ministries established at both Clark County schools - Clark College and Wahington State- Vancouver. But, God seems to be showing us favor this year.

I meet tomorrow with the pastor of a nearby church that would like to explore a partnership with Campus Crusade at Clark College. At a commuter school, it is often difficult for us to find enough students who can lead a ministry at their campus. A church partnership brings an established group of students to build the ministry around. Campus Crusade provides on-campus access, resources like our Freshman Survival Kits, and numerous conference and mission opportunities. This type of partnership can be tough to set up, but has mutual benefits for us and for the church involved and is worth the effort.

Also, I have been contacted by a faculty member at Washington State - Vancouver who is considering being our faculty advisor. All campus student groups need to have a faculty advisor, but this can often be the hardest part of getting established. He was approached in this case by a student who is helping to get CCC recognized at WSU-V.

Putting the pieces together at commuter schools can take time. I have seen it done hastily, and the result is almost always a poor group that has to be regularly restarted, or worse, shut down intentionally. If we are patient for God to assemble the right people and circumstances, we will have a better, more impactful group on campus.

We are looking to do the same thing (start-up in new locations) at several other schools in Portland. Please pray for the right people, circumstances, and wisdom to put them all together.


More thoughts about ministry

In a few previous posts I have recounted my discontent with ministry in the last two years. Read them again here, here, and here.

The next step in the process was the reading of a few key verses of Scripture that I felt addressed my dicontent directly. The first was Daniel 7:13-14. When I read and thought about it, I nearly fell out of my chair:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Jesus made no secret about claiming to be the 'son of man'. Far from being his attempt to downplay his own deity, he was identifying himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy pictured here in Daniel. Jesus was saying that all authority, glory, and sovereign power were given to him by God the Father.

Does that strike you at all? The Christian culture has so over-emphasized the 'Sunday School' Jesus, who is gentle and kind and nice, that we have forgotten that he is also the most shockingly powerful being in all of creation and beyond. I have realized that true gentleness cannot exist wihtout power; when it tries, it is merely passivity. True kindness cannot exist without power; it is merely an empty gesture. Jesus can only forgive sins because he has been given the authority to judge.

This Jesus pictured in Daniel defies the very things I was discontented with. There can be no formula with such power; such power will do what it wills. There can be no passivity, for such power requires action and initiative. It will change anything it touches. Such power cannot possibly be irrelevant, for any force that has authority over life and the human heart will be sought by anyone who understands what it is capable of.

It has changed my thinking about ministry tremendously. As a minister (but really, as a Christian, as I will talk about) I am a steward and vehicle for this power. I am a servant of this Jesus, and he has involved me in his work. Now as I survey my life and ministry, I am constantly confronted with the question, "Is there anywhere, or anyone, who is not under the dominion of this authority, glory, and soveriegn power? Is there any place or circumstance where Jesus is not powerful, or where his dominion has passed? Has the Father taken some back, or failed to give all in the first place?" The answer to that question is so important!

More to come...


After the race

People have asked us how we have felt this week after the marathon. Truthfully, we have felt pretty good! Anne went walking for the first time again on Wednesday, and I ran yesterday for the first time since the race. We are already looking forward to another race sometime.

The photo on the left is after Anne finished, and the one on the right is coming across the St. John's Bridge at 17.5 miles. This is where I started to feel great and picked up my pace a little.

Something that has been fun for me has been how proud my dad has been of me while doing this. It's funny how I am almost 32 and I still get a kick out of impressing my dad.


Earlier this week I posted this:

"At one point the coach from one of the women's athletic teams came up to our table and asked us if we would come to her team and get a Bible study started. She shared how there are a few Christians on her team, and quite a bit of spiritually open women as well. Now one of our staff team members is following that up and putting together a study that we hope will grow to involve other athletes as well!"

One of the women on our CCC staff team went and spoke to the team as the coach had requested. When she was done talking, 12 women, almost the whole team, stayed to get a Bible study organized. Most of them are not Christians, but are interested in talking about Jesus and finding out who he is.

Thank you for praying. Please continue to do so, it makes a difference!


God is powerful even here...

at Lewis and Clark College. Determined by the Princeton Review to be the fourth most spiritually apathetic university in America, LC has a well-deserved reputation for skepticism. I wrote morre about LC here.

Anyway, one of my team members, Joe, recently set up an appointment with a baseball player who had indicated during our outreaches the first week of school that he would like to talk about spiritual things with someone. Joe called him up and they got together.

As Joe talked with Eric, he asked Eric if he wanted to hear about how he could know God and know he would have eternal life. Eric was more than excited to listen as Joe shared his own story about knowing Jesus. A short time later, Eric asked Jesus in to his life!

Joe is now meeting with Eric to help him learn and grow in his new relationship with God. Please pray for Eric as these first weeks are critical for him to become established in his realationship.


Prayer time

Today was Campus Crusade's national Day of Prayer. Our team took the morning and put aside our other responsibilities to meet together and pray for each other and our ministries.

It was very encouraging. In three hours together, we did not have enough time to thank God for all he has done so far in the six weeks we have been back on campus, nor did we have enough time to pray for all the things we see and sense him doing in our ministries.

It is great to be a part of something that God is using so greatly. I have never experienced having so much to pray for and be thankful for that time runs out, but it was really a wonderful experience.

Portland State University

Last week saw the launch of Portland State University. Our team was on campus all day, meeting students looking to be involved on campus.

At one point the coach from one of the women's athletic teams came up to our table and asked us if we would come to her team and get a Bible study started. She shared how there are a few Christians on her team, and quite a bit of spiritually open women as well. Now one of our staff team members is following that up and putting together a study that we hope will grow to involve other athletes as well!

We are seeing quite a lot of 'divine appointments' like this this year. Our staff team has been praying non-stop for God to surface opportunities like this one on all of our schools, and God is definitely being faithful to answer. We are starting to bog down a little in trying to follow them all up, and we still have several schools to launch. This is a good problem to have.

Please pray for us as we discover where God is working in Portland and attempt to join him there!

More kid language

Last night the four of us took a walk in the neighborhood park. We plan to run/walk a 5k with boht kids later this fall, and so we have been trying to get Alex to run a little (a couple hundred yards at a time) to practice a little.

Allison loves to run. She'll just take off and go. Alex doesn't like it quite as much and tends to goof off more when we run.

So, the three of us were doing a slow loop around the park and Alex was being goofy. Allison's advice, shouted at Alex while running as fast as her little legs could take her:

"Just do like I do - run and don't stop!"

Kid language

Allison tonight at dinner:

"When a hippa-ma-potamus poops, it wags its tail!"

She's right, too...they do it to spread out their scent. We saw it on a PBS special. It stuck in her mind. She blurted it out from nowhere, and we all laughed.

Alex's birthday request

I meant to post this last week, but I couldn't find the picture. Anne asked Alex what he wanted for his birthday dinner, if he could eat anything at all. His answer:

"Cream puffs, chicken strips with honey, and a donut."

Back in the saddle

OK, sorry the posting has been sparse lately. The marathon had us pretty full up the week before, and we have both been moving a little slower the last few days. I think we are pretty much up and about again, though, so there should be more coming your way this week.

There is much to report on, too!


Marathon report

Anne and I raced the Portland Marathon today. It was unbelievable!

We will post some pictures in a couple days, but here's the pertinent info:

Anne's goal: 6h 10m Anne's time: 6h 17m 56s
That's walking each mile at an average of 14m 25s. What an amazing woman!

Adam's goal: 4h 0m Adam's time: 3h 54m 22s (Adam's secret goal: 3h 55m)
That is an average of 8m 57s per mile.

Both of us feel pretty good. Anne has a blister, and both of us are sore, but it was a great time.

I was amazed as I looked around. I am no model of fitness, and I did fine. There were a lot of people who were working with less than God gave me and doing just as well as me. Having done one now, I don't think marathons are as inaccesible as most people think they are.

I want to thank my good friend Robb, who trained me for the race. He put a ton of time into coaching me, and every bit was useful and insightful.