To Rally

I am so amazed though not surprised and incredibly humbled and grateful right now. We have been blessed with such a great circle of friends here. I sent out an email a few days ago explaining that Ryan and I are going to be starting classes next month to obtain our Foster Parent license so as to begin the Foster-to-adopt journey. It is 30hrs of classes, spread over 3 nights & 2 full saturdays. Since we don’t have any family in town to pawn the kids off on, the idea of arranging childcare was more than a little daunting. However, within 1 day all 5 ‘opportunities’ to babysit were filled by amazing friends! We still have to figure out when & where we’ll do the First Aid/CPR/blood borne pathogen training class, so the 2 folks who have expressed interest in helping out that haven’t been assigned a day to cover for us, might still have an opportunity. :) So thanks all of you who have so quickly and eagerly rallied. We are extremely grateful. …& I’m sure we’ll need you around for a lot more than just babysitting!

Disciple’s Renewal

I was struck by a pray read in the church service this morning. By struck, I mean that it rang true with my heart and soul. I thought I’d share it with you.

It is taken from Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions:

O My Saviour, help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;

I am in the foothills when I should be in the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.

I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.

Make it my cheifest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.

Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be;
more decision in my character,
more vigor in my purposes,
more ELEVATION in my life,
more fervor in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.

As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;

May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the creator;

Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.

Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously,and in victory attain my end.

Delayed Response-tion

I mentioned more than once while on vacation about a month ago, that I had intentioned to write a “what i learned during my lent fast” post.  Figured it was probably so long overdue or so long since i put real thought to it that it would fall into the “mental compost” blog pile…with the one about how I once saw myself as the ‘bride’ in Hosea and am still brought to (happy) tears when i remember Ryan’s response (during early engagement…when he still had an easy ‘out’) to my divulging the shady past that was my-life-before-you-knew-me-and-ok-some-when-you-did…and many more that i’m sure your better off not hearing, mostly about food probably.  Anyhow, a friend of mine emailed me recently, asking about ‘how I found our church’ (or something like that).  She knew there were no step by step or one size fits all instructions, but it’s always nice to hear how it fares with others.  I shared my opinions on how i feel similarly to ‘finding a church’ as i do to ‘finding a spouse’.  A loose analogy, but it works for me.   I’ll leave it at that for now.

Anyhow, you may recall, for lent, for the first time since…I’m not sure when….I participated in that I ‘gave up’ parts of the social media aspect of the internet (i believe it became even more ‘specialized’ toward the end…as in…i was lame & not hard-core about it).  Basically I did not read my feed reader (i.e. other people’s blogs)..least i don’t think i did…did not twitter (think i cheated there too) & did not visit any forums.  Most noteably the traditional foodie forum where I hold the austere title of “moderator”.  I was true to the last one.  I discovered a few things.  Such as: I thought I would have a slew of ‘free time’ to pursue things like…oh…meditation on scriptures?  However, it would seem I was instead usurping time spent at the lunch & breakfast table with my kids…or time while they napped, that i should have been doing chores or prepping dinner so that I could play with them more when they were awake…ect.  Yeah.  Bring on the mama guilt!  ugh.

But there was more.  If I’ve talked to you in person I have probably mentioned that I had approx. 2.5 friends in my 9 months in florida.  ..and I didn’t have opportunity to spend a lot of time with said friends..though it started increasing just before we moved away.  In part I look back appreciatively to the Providential hand i was dealt….being apparently destined to leave….I’m not sure I could suffer again the heartache i felt when leaving Richmond VA.  The first place I have vivid memory of friends that were women and legitimately, intrinsicly MY friends.  Not born of an aquiantence via a ‘boy’ (i.e. making friends through newly acquired boyfriends, as was my MO in high school/college).  They filled a role in my life I realized I had spent most of my life trying to make a boy fill.  I’m sure Ryan is grateful for the discovery.  His nights are free from chatter about cloth diapers, the virtues of pastured animals (ok..mostly..), and ideas on efficiently yet lovingly running a household..among other less savory subjects (he jokes that if i’m left alone with only women discussion of birth control always just ‘comes up’ somehow).  Not to mention that said ‘Virginia friends’ and I had our kids together.  I mean..not TOGETHER…but ya know…they’re similar ages (& mostly genders too).  I had roots.  Don’t get me wrong.  There was no arm twisting on Ryan’s part.  The Army Brat in me flew the coop with fervor.  Always excited about the next new adventure.   I am grateful for everwhere I’ve been, everyone I’ve met and everything those people and places God used to shape who i am.  However, after i eventually get chickens, perhaps someone should suggest I just dye my hair when I announce whatever new plan I hatch after that one.  I can’t help it. I seem programmed for a need for change every few years.

So, here I am, months into the newest locale…a few aquiantences – with some bright prospects on ‘real’ friends on the horizon – under my belt.  Yet still feeling like i’ve hit that socially awkward wall.  I’m putting myself out there.  I talk to people at the park, I chit chat at library story hour. I go to womanly activity things hosted by women from church.  And. I. feel. like. a. dork.  but lonely?  maybe. I don’t know.  Enter “not forums”.  Ouch.  I LOVE the internet. I enjoy ‘social media’. Especially as one who’s family is dotted across the US (ok mostly dotted across the east coast, with one sibling in Illinios, which I’ve come to realize I don’t know where that’s categorized).  I twitter with the idea that my main audience are the kids’ grandparents, peering in across the continent.  Even as an Army Brat brownie (never made it to a full-fledged girl-scout), being trained with the song “make new friends, but keep the old…” I never kept in touch via snail mail.  I kept in touch with 2 people.  Only because both those people put fort the main effort and put up with my months of no response.  Eventually even they apparently decided i wasn’t putting in my share.  I get easily sucked into my own little bubble of ‘here and now’ and can’t be bothered to write and send a letter (or a blog post it would seem).  However, just after our move to Florida it had – unbeknownst to me – become a crutch of sorts.  The foodie blog in particular.  What drew me in initially was trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my son’s intenstines.  But it became deeper.  Then, as I slowly moved from wandering novice to seeming ‘expert’ (ok, perhaps not expert….’know it all’ perhaps?)…well, somewhere in there I found a family.  As quack as it sounds.  In fact when I realized we were moving here to Washington, I took note of the women on this forum who live in the area.  And I’m happy to say I’ve had one of them over for dinner since we moved here.  So it’s not ALL cloak and dagger anyway.  But it was pulling me away from REAL life.  It was stunting my availability…desire…to really reach out to the inconvenience of figuring out how to fit into other people’s lives.  How to make friends.  Again. Enter the ‘fast’.

I thought it would be a time of being reminded of who God is by the study of his word and hours of naptimes spent deep in prayer.  Instead, I mostly felt lonely…disconnected… and compelled to pick up the…gasp..phone.  It was during lent that I began to spend purposeful time with the women here that I’m becoming more and more connected to.  I am a social creature.  Granted, I don’t like a lot of hubub, playdates, and appointments.  But I like to chat with some girls.  it’s more than that though.  I crave community.  I need eyes outside my own nuclear family to peer in and remind me of things like, “well…did you pray about it?” or, “you know that’s normal, right?”.  People who along with my own family, that I can take a deep breath and stop sucking in my stomach around (not entirely analogy).  Praise the Lord that he pressed upon my heart to ‘unplug’.  I did not find Him in the way I was expecting.  But I found Him in the way he tends to work…people.  His people.

Family Worship

Saw this on another blog this morning. Almost didn’t post it, i mean, it’s clear early on where it’s going & honestly it’s rather painfully convicting…but i figure that’s probably a good reason to post it. Not to say it’s “always us”…but we have definitely not been immune to it.

The Long Update

This post was written on my daily bus commute to and from work. If it sounds a little disjointed it is because the post is really long and my commute isn’t. Therefore it took me 3 ½ days to complete.

This is the post that has been a long time coming. As many of you know by now, about 2 weeks ago the Burns family packed up everything we own and moved to Bellingham, WA. Everything happened so quickly that there are still people, friends even, who don’t know we’ve moved. So, for those who don’t know the story, I’ll try to take it from the beginning.

As most of you do know, in January of 2008 we moved from Richmond to Orlando in order for me to attend seminary at Reformed Theological Seminary. That decision was one that we had labored through for months and month. I had been working on my masters degree for over 5 years through RTS virtual and had not made significant progress. The decision to go to Florida was one that was made with much prayer and council. In the end, we knew there would be risk involved in me going to school full time as well as running my web development business, but we felt a peace in our hearts that God would work out all the “what if’s.”

Well, about 7 months after moving to Orlando some of those “what if’s” began to appear. The most notable was the “what if my business doesn’t grow and I can’t find a job in Orlando to support the family?” During this time I spent hours upon hours crunching the numbers trying to figure out how to make things work. I met with our pastor and some of our close friends. I talked to friends and pastors back in Richmond. Jennifer and I talked… we prayed… and, while I’d like to say that we had a calm and cool attitude, there was more than a little bit of stress in the house. Now, as a side note to that, I want to point out that, while we were stressed we knew that God was going to take care of us… We’ve experienced far too much grace in our short lives to not know that… however, we were still stressed as we didn’t know exactly how it would all happen.

Well, I decided to drop down to only one class and began to look for a job. After a week or two with no luck I got a phone call. “Hi Ryan, this is Dan at Logos Bible Software. Give me a call when you have a chance at _____.”

Now, I had communicated with a couple people a Logos in the past. With my site, goingtoseminary.com, I had worked with Dan and Phil on getting some Logos advertising. During those communications Phil had also mentioned in one of his emails that Logos might be looking for someone to join their marketing team. After hearing Phil’s description of the job I had replied that, “I know someone who would be a perfect fit, be he lives 3,200 miles from Bellingham.” (this was a month or two before we realized I needed a job).

So, anyway, when I got the call from Dan I wasn’t sure what it was about. So, after dinner I stepped into my office and gave him a call. At that time I was unaware that Dan is the Vice President Marketing & Business Development.

When I got Dan on the phone he began to ask me some questions about my sites and some of the work I had done in the past… however, it wasn’t until he said, “so, tell me the best and worst thing about working with you” that I thought, “crap! This is an interview!”

Well, the conversation progressed and ended with him letting me know that he was going to talk with his brother Bob (the President of Logos) and would get back to me in a day or two. The next day I got an email that said, “We’d like to meet you in person. How soon can you get out here?”

I was a little freaked out at this point. It dawned on me for the first time that we might have to move to the entire opposite side of the country (Bellingham is on the coast, 20 min south of Canada!). I remember walking into the kitchen, looking at Jenn, and saying, “How would you feel about moving to Bellingham?”

Like I said, I was a bit freaked out by the idea. I called my friend Jamie and, after a cup of coffee and some sound advice, I emailed Dan and said I could be up there in a week. Seven days later I was on a plane to Bellingham… 48 hours later I was walking back into my front door having caught the redeye back home.

The weeks (and by weeks I literally mean 2 weeks) that followed were somewhat stressful around the house. Jenn and I took the first week to really weigh the offer before us and the implication it would have on our family and future. By the end of that long week we finally decided what we wanted and I called Dan and shared my thoughts with him. He said he needed to talk with Bob and he’d get back to me. A long five days, I heard back from Dan and, after one final weekend to make sure it was what we wanted to do, I called Dan on Monday and accepted the job.

This, of course, was followed by the question I knew was coming, “So, when do you think you can get up here?” Not being one for wanting to sit and twiddle my thumbs, I said we could be there in about 3 weeks. The way I figured it, we needed a week to pack up everything we own, a week to ship everything across the country, and a week to unpack everything we owned.

It was an ambitious goal, but both Jennifer and I were eager to get the show on the road. Thankfully we found an amazing house to rent on craigslist and had that wrapped up on the same Monday I accepted the job. Of course, as is the case with all moves, there were a million details to take care of. We had to cancel all our current bills, ship our minivan to Washington, get utilities set up at the new house, pack everything, say goodbye to friends, and countless other things that I have either forgotten or erased from my memory.

Now, some of you know of my hatred for road trips (6 hours is pretty much my limit). For this reason, there was NO WAY I was driving anything across the country. So, we had our van and belongings shipped while we opted to fly up to Washington.

So, after the final goodbyes we hopped on a plane and took off on our new adventure.

The flight was pretty amazing considering we were traveling with two toddlers. Asher and Grace did so great staying in their seats and not driving us insane. 6 hour flights are very long.

Since our stuff was being shipped across the country we had to blow a little time before we could move into our new house. We decided to use the time to hang out in Seattle for 5 days. It was a really great trip for all of us. We stayed downtown and did touristy things every day (Science museum, children’s museum, Pike’s Place Market, and other adventures). And, while it was fun, I will say that living in a hotel with two toddlers and eating out for every meal can grow a little bit tiring… add the time change into the mix and it gets even more fun.

In all it was a great trip, but we were ready to be home and have a good ole Jenn cooked meal.

After we were done with Seattle and met up with our belongings in Bellingham. The house (technically a condo) is so much more amazing than the pictures. It has a big kitchen that opens to the dining room and to the living room. It is the layout we’ve always wanted. Along with that, the master bedroom, bath, and closet are really big! The upstairs has two bedrooms, but we decided that Asher and Grace will share the smaller room and we’ll use the larger room as a playroom/office/guest room (yes, it is that big). Along with all that space we have a two car garage (half filled with boxes and the other half with the van).

We managed to get everything into the house and unpacked in less than a week. In fact, I even hung up our art work on the walls the Sunday before my first day of work in order to make it 100% official that we were in fact “settled in.”

On Monday, October 6, I started my new job at Logos. For those who are wondering what I do at Logos… well, so am I. Just kidding.

My job at Logos is in the marketing department. One of the things that really intrigued me about the position is that Dan explained that there is a lot of room to really shape the position based on my strengths… so apparently there will be a lot of eating pizza and coding wordpress themes. We’ll ok, those are two of my stronger strengths, but I guess more energy will likely be put into online marketing and possibly some event management. Right now I’m just getting my feet wet and learning the ins and outs of Logos.

For those who would like to know more about Logos.  Essentially it is an amazing Bible study tool that is easy enough for my mom to use, yet robust enough for my PhD candidate office mate, Phil, to use while working on his dissertation. Here is an introductory video demonstration of the program.

As for Jenn and the kids, the seem to be settling in very nicely. Jenn has already made some friends in our neighborhood and there are lots of kids. Oh, and sidewalks! Sidewalks that lead to a playground! Double score.

Jenn is pretty excited about living in Bellingham because she is no longer “weird.” In Orlando Jenn didn’t have a whole lot of people with which to bond over her particular style of food, nutrition, and health care. However, in Bellingham there are natural food stores galore! Along with that, raw milk is legal (I can’t wait till we get some)!

I could go on about all the food and health stuff up here, but I’ll leave that to the expert. I’m sure she’ll fill you in soon enough.

I guess the final note is church.

This move represents the first time in our lives where we don’t have a church home. In Georgia and Virginia, our church home was a matter of my employment. When we moved to Florida, I just “knew” that CrossPointe was home. Now, in Bellingham, we don’t have a church or know where to go. So far we’ve visited 2 churches. One was a 5,000 member mega church that had computers for you to check-in your kids… and the other was a 50 person church plant that meets in the upstairs of a library and used an old school projector. Both were great, but we’re still looking for “home.” And heck, who knows… one of those might be home.

Somewhat related to the church hunt, we are having dinner tonight with a guy and his wife (and 2 year old daughter) who are going to be part of a 2009 PCA church plant in Bellingham… could this be the reformed, missional, pedobaptist church plant I’ve dreamed about? Guess I’ll find out at dinner.

So, there you have it… the not too short update on what we’re up to. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section… which reminds me one of the most common FAQs:

What about seminary?

Well, the Lord knows. Honestly, that’s my answer. Getting my degree has been a dream of mine for about 7 years now. Going to Florida was an attempt to get it done quicker. Our plans didn’t work, well, as planned so we had to drop the plan. Will the Lord allow me the ability to get my degree? Will I return to pastoral ministry in the vocational sense? Will I be able to get a really good slice of pizza in Bellingham? What does the future hold? Well, I don’t know.

What we do know is that this is the door that the Lord has opened for us and we are seeking to be faithful with what we’ve been given. We are excited to be here in Bellingham. I’m happy to be working at a great company with great people and, if you’re ever in the Northwest corner of the great land, then come on by for a visit.

Hebrews brewing

In the middle of May a few gals & I decided to do an online bible study together & to study Hebrews (yeah..that was Dana’s idea). Ryan got wind & put on his ‘web-guy’ hat & made us a nifty little forum to use, which has been GREAT.

So here we are, 3 not super scholarly mom’s (ok, well one of us has a scholarly bent…the rest of us are normal mortals) tackling this rather difficult theological book. Enter commentaries. I have found a lot of my posts have a theme: “uh..what’s up with that?” [enter terrible heresy I've come away with from reading the text], “oh…read a commentary, that makes a LOT more sense than what I came up with”. Heh.

As luck would have it, ryan actually took a class on Hebrews this past semester with Dr. Kistemaker and came away so encouraged & excited about this book, that he scoured used books on amazon & bought his commentary on Hebrews (it’s part of a set that you can’t break when buying new). This has been my commentary of choice for the study. What’s fun is that we’re all using different ones (I think Melissa is using Calvin & I don’t know about Dana…she doesn’t need one. heh. kidding, i’m kidding).

All that being said, when we started we said, “one chapter a week”. Riiiight. It’s been 3 MONTHS & I’m on Chapter 4 verse 2. Just finished verse 2 today (we’re not all in the same spot though, the beauty of the forum is it’s easy to jump around). It’s slow-going but it’s been insightful. I actually meant to post about a fun ‘insight’ from a few days ago, but i rambled on so much about the study itself….i’ll have to save that for another post.

Church Sign Generator

Sometimes I don’t even know how I end up on sites like this:Church Sign Generator… but, alas, I ended up there today. Then I remembered my good friends who have a church plant in Richmond and thought, “They need a sign.” So, I set out to do my best.

Pulling from my experiences on the back roads of South Georgia I pulled out all the stops and came up with what I think would be a really great church sign from my friends church in Richmond.

nice.

Adoption

I was going through the 300+ blog posts that had accumulated in my google reader over the past 4 days and found a link to a great resource for churches looking to start adoption funds.  How amazing would it be if the church took seriously its call to care for widows and orphans?

Adoption lies in the future for Jennifer and I. The who, what, when, where, questions still lie unanswered, but the reality is already in our hearts. As the website above points out, money is one of the hardest challenges to overcome with adoption. While money is a big challenge, it is also a strong and powerful reminder to me of the gospel.  See, the price that Jennifer will have to pay in order to become the father and mother of one who is father and motherless will be thousands of dollars. When I think of this great financial cost I am always reminded that Jennifer and I were adopted by God at the greatest of expenses… the very life of his son (Gal 4:3-7).

Church… adoption beats in the heart of the gospel. Let us take seriously the call to care for the father and motherless. Let us give ourselves and our money to make the grace of God in adoption known to the world.