Archive for April, 2010


Posted: April 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Today, April 28, 2010:









Behold: I’m so grateful that He is the God in charge of weather…and life…and seasons.  So grateful. 


Choosing Joy

Posted: April 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Dear Jesus,

You know that summer camp prank where someone suspends a bucket of water over a door, and the next person who comes in is surprised with a sudden waterfall over their unsuspecting heads?  I think maybe You invented that trick because I know it’s happened to me before with Your blessing and joy.  I’m just walking along and – bam! – waterfall!  Thanks for those beautiful, dousing moments.  I really love them.

Unless You know something I don’t, today is not that day.  I mean, maybe there’s a bucket teetering over a entryway somewhere, but what if there’s not?  What if doors are just doors and days are just days?  Long and dry and ordinary.  That’s seemed like the season I’ve been in for awhile now.


Today I’m choosing to build my own buckets.

Today, I’m looking around every corner and under every rock to find the blessings that bring joy.  And it’s working!

I’m so happy for my kids’ health.  For Josiah’s quick recovery from this flu business.  I’m thankful for a marriage I can count on….for relationships that remind me that I am not alone.  I’m downright giddy about the fact that I live in America – a nation that is wobbling, no doubt, but is still free and full of abundance.  For food and oxygen and for the cute skirt I just put on:  so thankful.  Filled with joy.  Doused by Your goodness.

Today, I’m choosing to stand back and behold the God that sends rain to dry seasons…whether through buckets that fall or sprinklers or hoses or cisterns or streams.  Thank You.



Coming and Going

Posted: April 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m back from a fun-filled, whirlwind trip to Lincoln, Nebraska where I was blessed to speak at the ladies conference for Lincoln City Church and at the church on Sunday morning.  What a loving, fun, open, smart group of women I found there!  They were incredibly gracious to me and I can’t tell you what a joy it is to spend a weekend laughing and crying together over the great mercy of Jesus in our lives.  So, so blessed is what I am.

On my way home, my flights lined up in the strangest way and for our purposes here today, strange equals bad.  Had my first flight been just thirty minutes earlier, I would have hit the first connections and gotten home six hours sooner.  As hard as I tried, however, I could not convince the United pilot in Omaha to bump the flight up.   So, I spent a lot of time in airports and here’s what I did:

1)  Replayed scenes from the movie The Terminal in my head.

Remember that movie?  It’s possible that I made this same face a couple of times as I looked at the departure boards and wondered:  if I take my shoes off and run like the wind, could I make it to gate B75 and catch that connection even though the boarding light is flashing right now?  A phone call to my husband – a renowned world traveler – reminded me that in this era of increased security, you are not allowed to outrun your checked baggage.  So, I kept my shoes on and enjoyed my stay in concourse B.

Speaking of increased security:  I have a new and passionate dislike for Osama Bin Laden.  He cost me a lot of time at  security AND a very expensive can of mousse.

2)  Also, I read this book:

I read it because of my Mennonite root system and found it to be very, very funny.  However, the subject and language is raw and the pervasive philosophy throughout is “smart people don’t buy religion” so read at your own risk.

3)  I saw this girl:

Bless my little Tori’s heart.  She raced to the airport in the one hour she had available between school and work, picked me up and whisked me out of the airport prison for a lovely little lunch at Red Robin where a server named Matt will be forever etched in our hearts for the brazen-yet-awkward way he sat down at our table to take our order.  That was a long sentence to describe a short lunch.  Thank you, Victoria, for rescuing your mama from The Terminal!

4)  I thought.  A lot.  About a lot of things, but ministry weekends always make me think mostly about what I want to be when I grow up.  In the current season we’re in as a family, it’s tough for me to travel away from home.  But when I do, I remember why I do.  Because I love it.  I love speaking with women.  I love seeing new groups of people and witnessing God’s faithfulness in their lives.  I love praying with people I have never met and may never see again this side of eternity.  I love it.  And it’s hard.  But it’s worth it.

So this morning, I’ve woken up to discover that Josiah is sick and I am pretending not to be, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  We’re both kind of pathetic looking and are going to hunker down with Nickelodeon and The History of Christianity respectively.  In spite of sickness or fatigue or anything else I may be feeling today, I am so glad that I went and so glad to be home.

Behold: The God who guards our going out and our coming in.  Psalm 121:8

Rich & Poor

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you:  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”  Acts 3:6

I am learning that God uses physical or emotional lack in my life as a catalyst to get me digging for spiritual treasure.  Peter says, “I don’t have any cash.”  Many people would say the same today.  They would shake their head sadly at the crippled guy and maybe even resent him a little for reminding them of them of their empty pockets.  Peter understands, however, that just because he’s currently living in poverty it doesn’t mean that poverty has to live inside of him. Here’s what I’m learning from this little story today:

  • Just because our economy is weak doesn’t mean I am weak.
  • Just because I have nothing big to give materially, does not mean I have nothing to give.
  • Seasons of lack are so good for us in the church if they cause us to access the storehouse of His grace and goodness, and stop throwing physical stop gaps at eternal issues.

Behold:  Out of His riches, He makes us rich, in all the ways that matter most.

Stormy Waters

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Well, okay, after all my big talk about how Steve and I are braving the waters of a long-distance relationship – I ran into a little speed bump today.

He left.

It’s weird because he leaves a lot, but today was just a day – this particular day – that I did not want him to go.  I have a demanding week coming up with work and then I leave for a speaking gig in the mid west before he gets home and having him walk out the door this morning was just…disheartening.  And I was not brave or a big girl or any of the things I would like you to believe that I am.  I was a baby.  And my eye was twitching violently.  And I got a nosebleed.  Not even kidding.  Stress does the strangest things to me, I tell you.

As the day went on, I kept simmering in my sorry emotional stew and Steve checked on me a couple of times.  He’s nice like that – and honestly, it’s one of the things that helps us do this traveling thing.  He’s very considerate about making sure I’m okay and making sure I know he’s okay.  That’s a win.

Also, the wonderful guy who makes lunch for our interns on Mondays cooked ribs today.  That’s also a win.

Finally, my dear niece, Noel, returned from her weekend sojourn to Salem (Sojourn to Salem:  such a good band name!) and I love when she comes home!

Tonight Steve will call after being on an airplane for a long time and in airports for a long time and in line at a rental car company for a long time, and he will pretend to not be tired.  He will ask about my day and act interested in the fact that I had ribs for lunch.  He will tell me who he sat by on the plane and I would bet good money that he will tell me about a chance that he had to talk with someone who needs Jesus.  My beloved is so good at finding the eternal treasure in the temporary trial.  Tonight, I will go to sleep thanking my Father for days that are filled with stress – because they remind me that my life is filled with His grace.

Behold: He is good on stormy days and His power is perfected in my eye twitching.

Phoning it in

Posted: April 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, here’s one of a bajillion things we’ve had to work on in order to keep our relationship growing while living half our time a whole country apart.  Don’t worry, I promise I won’t blog on all bajillion.

THE PHONE, MY NEW FRIEND:  Typically, I loathe the phone.  I would rather use emails or texts or smoke signals…anything.  Mostly, I’d rather just talk face-to-face and Steve is exactly the same way.  But we’ve had to die to that in order to keep our relationship real and working during seasons of distance.  Here are the current ground rules I’ve set for myself, but they are ever-evolving (as I continue to learn most things the hard way):

  1. NO multi-tasking.   If I’m really busy when Steve calls, I try to get un-busy.  If that’s impossible, we schedule a time for a focused conversation.  Some of the worst moments I’ve had with my dearly beloved have come when we’ve tried to hang onto a call even though we’re too distracted to speak coherently to one another.  We talk off and on throughout the day – but mostly we send mushy texts and save the actual speaking for the evening.  When he calls, I go to our room and put the phone next to me on the bed on speaker phone and pretend he’s right there.  This, I’m embarrassed to admit, is a sacrifice for me.  I don’t like to sit down.  I like very much doing two things at once.  But it’s important and it works so I’m sticking with it.
  2. If possible, save tense topics for later.  The phone eliminates so many of our conversational signals like facial expressions and body language and so it’s tricky to have a discussion about tough stuff in a healthy and effective way.  The phone also eliminates our ability to kiss and make up at the end, so we try hard to avoid fighting on the phone.  Honestly, it’s not always possible.  Stuff comes up and it needs to be dealt with…but I”m finding out that most stuff will wait if I’m willing to let it.
  3. What I don’t say:  I’m beginning to understand that Steve feels really helpless when he’s away and it frustrates him.  When I raise issues on the phone that he’s unable to deal with from the Land of Florida, it only adds stress and loneliness to his already-demanding workload.  He doesn’t really need to know about every light bulb that goes out or every appliance on the fritz.
  4. What he mostly needs to know during our phone calls is that he is loved, appreciated and -this cannot be overemphasized – that we are fine.  And when I really think about it:  we are fine.  Sure, I’d love to have someone to help me pick the kids up from school and I’d love to not take the trash out myself, but we are a well-loved bunch o’ people here at Casa de Stern and it’s good for me to remember that.

Again, I’m still working this all out in my head and in practice.  Sometimes I break every ground rule in one phone call.  Sometimes I say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.  (And just between us, sometimes he does too.)  But the one thing we’re figuring out is that giant airplanes can fly on autopilot, but marriages can’t.  We have to fly this plane…at least 4 kids are watching to see how it’s done.

Behold:  Long distance calls no longer cost $1.25/minute!

Intentionally Married

Posted: April 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

Steve and I have been married 25 years and maybe the most significant thing that we have discovered is this:  we did this on purpose.  We didn’t fall into marriage.  It took dating and planning and money and communication.  Getting married required work, but it was mostly fun work.  Staying married takes work, and it’s not always as fun.  For the first many years of our marriage, Steve traveled for business frequently and then we had an eight-year break where he was home all the time and most of the traveling we did, we did together.  In October, however, he returned to a business that takes him to Florida nearly two weeks of every month.   While it’s been a big adjustment, I can say this with confidence:  our marriage has never been better.   It’s not better because we like being away from each other, it’s better because we have had to look at how we live and get way more intentional about taking care of our relationship.  In fact, let me be transparent enough to say that the past eight years of doing everything together – we shared an office for goodness’ sake – was probably our weakest season in terms of cultivating our friendship and intimacy.

Over the next few days, Steve & I are going to share a few things we’ve learned in the past six months (and 25 years) that have helped us fall deeper in love and become more secure in our life together.    I hope it builds hope in you for the marriage you have or the marriage you want.

Behold: Weddings are easy, but marriage is the prize.