Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

blackout

This poetic piece of awesomeness is a finally-finished post I began writing a month ago… Enjoy!

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A  month ago, we experienced our first Portland blackout. We were without power, internet and phones for 6 hours. <gasp, I know> We couldn’t watch the tele or cook or use the internet or make phone calls or go on Facebook or participate in any other nonsense we need electricity to take part in, and guess what…?

We survived. 

How, you might ask? 

We played outside soaking up our last bit of evening sunlight, we snuggled under blankets and read books by the light of a candle. We talked. We told silly stories. We laughed. We played games with the flashlights… and then we went to New Seasons for dinner.

We survived #Portlandblackout2014 by having fun and going to the grocery store. YES. You read that statement correctly. I said, we had fun going to the grocery store. 

We are experts at surviving blackouts.  

We’ve been thru several blackouts before. From Ohio to New York City. Remember #Northeastblackout2003? Yep. We survived it. We were living in NYC at the time and working at our church. When the city went dark, everything shut down… except for the people. People were still on the move. We responded by handing out water to thirsty tired travelers from the steps of our church in mid-town Manhattan. The city air was thick with August humidity and millions of people sweating their way thru the city. People were still on the move. They needed to get home, to pick up their kids. People had basic simple needs – like water.

The truth is – we are experts at enjoying simple things – such as going to the grocery store. In fact, the simpler, the better. If a task is too complex, detailed or complicated – forget it. Anxiety will overtake me and… the end. I will shut down. 

When there’s a blackout, life shuts down. There are fewer options and simplicity takes center stage. When there’s a blackout, I can only see what’s right in front of me. In the dark sky, I can see the moon and the stars. Oh, how I long to take joy in seeing the simplicity in front of me! Take it all in. Breathe in the wonder. Trace the stars. Stare at the moon. Soak in the sounds of my children. Slip into the arms of my husband.

I come alive when I ‘shut down’ and enjoy the simplicity of who is in front of me… My family. My friends. My neighbors…  The blackout forces life to slow down. To darken our ‘world view’ momentarily. To take hold of what we can see. The blackout changes our lens to purely see. An unfiltered view. To truly see. What is right in front of us.

In the blackout, life can shut down… And in the simplicity, we can thrive.

Do you thrive in simplicity? Please share! Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

All I really wanted this Christmas…

As Christmas day quickly approached a few weeks ago, my house was filled with shrieking, jumping, and count-downing [yes – that is a word, I declare]. The month of December was literally laughing in my face as it slid on by without a hint of showing mercy and slowing down. Our house filled with shrieks, jumps and countdowns expressed by my children – yes… and also, by me.

I was throwing a fit of anticipation, resisting the temptation to be suckered into Christmas anxiety. I was the one shrieking, declaring – I will not lose my cool this Christmas! I was the one jumping, staking my claim – this would be the Christmas I would enjoy every moment of! I was the one count-downing, sweating as each day passed more quickly than the last – with more to do and less time to finish … Christmas.

Finish … Christmas?! What the heck is wrong with this statement???

As December 25th drew near, I almost lost all I really wanted for Christmas. It was subtle, and it crept in momentarily… I was the one setting ridiculous impossible enjoy – every – moment of Christmas goals for our family. I was the one losing myself in the chaos of my mind wrapped up in thoughts of presents, coupons, sales, mailing and wrapping packages, decorating the house, cleaning the house, and planning the meals… I was the one having an anxiety attack in Target, pacing the aisles, waiting… for our eldest daughter to pick out elf pajamas she absolutely had to wear for the Christmas party she was hosting with her friends.

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She does look pretty darn cute as an elf 😉

Snap. That’s when it happened. In the Target aisle.

“I can’t do this anymore! I won’t do this anymore!”

I stopped the madness and took the kids outside of Target. “Let’s go back to the car, pick up the reusable bags I left in the trunk, and start over.”

Okay mom.

They understood. They saw me unraveling and helped me pull it back together. We went to the car, picked up the reusable bags, went back into Target and all I really wanted for Christmas wasn’t lost anymore. I found it – again.

Wonder. The Wonder of Moments. Joy-filled Moments. The Wonder of laughter, peace, simplicity, enjoying each other, being fully present together. (Even while shopping at Target.)

The next day, after the Target panic attack, I went to my women’s Bible study. Just a week shy of Christmas day, naturally the conversation turned to the potential –and sometimes inevitable– stress of Christmas. Why do we always put this pressure on ourselves? To create the “perfect” Christmas? Why do we put ourselves thru this year after year? *One friend described Christmas as an orgasm that never happens. Another friend piped in – I don’t want to fake it! HA! We were rolling in laughter – yes, at our women’s Bible study. Because the truth is this – There’s this pressure to have a grand, unforgettable, life-changing Christmas experience, and sometimes it just. doesn’t. happen.

All I want for Christmas is to be wrapped up in The Wonder of Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us.

Every Christmas, the dreaded gingerbread house taunts me. I suck at making them. The kids have made them at school, and I’m at home, praising the Lord I didn’t have to. It is always a chore. But this year the kids are being homeschooled, and Trader Joes came to our rescue! We decided to buy a Gingerbread House kit from TJ’s and the kids were excited about it. Whew. I stopped sweating over that stress. Every time we went into TJ’s to pick up groceries, the kids would ask – can we get our Gingerbread House this time? No – next time.

Until the next time they were out of Gingerbread Houses!!! Noooooo!!! Say it isn’t Soooooo!!! 

I briefly freaked out and calmed down, and said “Kids, I will get you a Gingerbread House kit if it’s the last thing I do!!!” I scrambled and called the next Trader Joes closest to us, desperation in my voice – “Do you have anymore Gingerbread Houses in stock? Ummm… let me check. (pause – panicked – moments – waiting). Yes, we have TWO left! Okay-can you put it on hold for me? We’ll be there in the morning to pick it up.”

The next day, we went to pick it up and the TJ’s associate I had spoken to went to the back to find it. He came back – ma’am I’m sorry, it was sold. I had your name on it, but someone must have sold the last TWO we had. I almost started crying… no – not really… but he could see the disappointment in my face and the kids. “Is this a gift?” He asked. “No, my kids and I were going to put it together for fun.” …you know, making Christmas memories that could be destroyed and possibly ruined forever if we don’t build a Gingerbread House together!!! “Well, we do have a few left we were planning to donate because the boxes were damaged slightly. If you don’t mind.” What?! Do we mind?! No way!! This is the Best. News. Ever!!! So the associate came back a few moments later with the perfect Gingerbread House box kit just for us. The best part – it was free 🙂 Thank you Trader Joes!!!

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After all the fuss, we had a blast making it, but it didn’t taste very good. Similar to cardboard with sugar on top. Oh well, it was all worth it – no doubt 😉

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All I wanted for Christmas was to lose myself in the Wonder of it all. The first time Jesus came to earth. The first Christmas as a baby. As Emmanuel God with us. God coming as a child. The Wonder! I want to be wrapped up in the child-like Wonder of it all. Now Christmas has come and gone and the New Year is in full swing. Yet nothing about Jesus has changed. He has been, still is and always will be Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us! He is with me. I can forever be wrapped up and lost in His Wonder. And that’s all I want for Christmas ~ and every day in between.

What did you want this Christmas? Did you lose yourself in His Wonder or in stress and anxiety? Please share – don’t be shy – we’ve all been there!

In Him, Leslie

*I hope you won’t be offended – all stories necessary for the authenticity of this post!

the year (or more) I didn’t mop . . .

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So here’s a little confession: I didn’t mop for over a year. It might actually *ahem* have been closer to a year and a half… maybe… But who’s counting when it’s been at least 365 days [or 52 weeks, if you prefer that calculation] since I last mopped my kitchen and dining room floors? We laid down a new floor in October of 2012. We might have mopped it once. If we did mop [and by we, I mean HE – my husband – because I seriously do not remember ever mopping our ‘new floor’] it was only the one time, which by using my impeccable math skills, would mean it’s actually been well over a year and a half of not mopping said floor.  Whew.

…Why am I telling you this? …Why am I sharing this (literal) dirty little secret? …Why did I post it on Facebook? …Am I strange? …Did the lack of mopping happening in my home drive me crazy for at least 52 weeks? …Am I proud of this confession? Yes.

Why + Why + Why + Because = F R E E D O M ! ! !

There is freedom in publicly announcing your flaws. There is freedom in full disclosure. There is freedom in not allowing fear to hold you back from your non-mopping hopes / dreams / desires. You know – I know – there are many of you *wishing* you had the guts to stand up to your mop and say NO. I will.not.mop. One>More>Day>>>. I will skip it. I will procrastinate. And I am OKAY with this!

There is F R E E D O M in declaring — I have more important things to do — like playing Legos, Barbies and watching FROZEN with my children. Mopping can wait until tomorrow — or a year from now.

So, a few days after I publicly humiliated myself and perhaps a few others who hung their heads in shame on my behalf, I chatted with my brother who lives in Oklahoma. The chat was not about my not-mopping skills, but alas he brought up the proverbial ‘elephant on the phone’ and asked me – Do you even own a mop? I had to stop and think of the answer. I was not 100% sure we owned a mop.

Fast forward our lives >>> One. Week. Later. I still have not mopped, AND we are now selling our home to move our family across the country. Fortunately, as our first house showing came upon us, it was a wonderful time to check and see if we did still own a mop. Adam searched, found and dug out the mop from behind all the important crap we keep in our garage. Like our old non-working refrigerator. Because… that’s surely one. more. thing. we need lying around our house right now. Right before a showing. Right before we are trying to move across the country. But ah-ha… He found the mop! Let the mopping commence!

And the last confession is this: I still didn’t mop for our showing. My amazing husband did.

So. The moral of this ridiculous story is: There is freedom in failure. There is freedom in declaring “I’m not perfect!” There is freedom in letting things go. As we are preparing to move our family across the country, we are fully aware of our failures. We are prepping our house to sell it and we are fully aware there is no way it will be perfect. There is no way we can keep a ‘model home’ with 3 small children and all their crap. Plus all our crap. We have lived in the comfort and shelter of an amazing home for 8.5 years. We are grateful for the provision we’ve had. We can not hold on to this place, but we will carry in our hearts always the memories, the mistakes, and moments made in our home. Our kids have grown in this home – We have grown in this home – not just in years, but in heart. But there is freedom in letting go. There is freedom in knowing what we don’t know. Once we sell our house, we don’t yet know where we will be living… There is freedom in knowing we are in good company with the unknowns “…The Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

Sure, Martha was fussy about her housework, but she never mopped her dirt floors. Jesus never mopped. and Mary always chose sitting at His feet. SO, Let us all raise a glass to not over-mopping… Cheers!

And the story rages on… In Him, Leslie 😉

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Have you found freedom in failures? Let us know! We hope you’ll join us on our journey into the great unknown… 

 

The Unknowns

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The truth is… we’ve never been good at sitting still.

The truth is… we’ve never stayed in one place for long.

Geez. It sounds like we have commitment issues, I know…

Nope. We are fully committed. We are All In. Our commitment is to each other, our marriage, our family, God’s leading for our lives and seeing His Kingdom come.

For 17 years, we’ve lived as North American Nomads, moving from place to place, across Oklahoma, Texas and New York City, and Ohio. Our whole lives, we’ve been serving God with a heart for His church and His mission. And now He is calling us into the great unknown… and we’ve never been more certain of anything in our lives.

For the past 10 years, we have been serving the Eastside Vineyard Church community as the lead Pastor and Worship Leader. We have walked through both joy and pain, challenges and freedom, and grown tremendously through it all. For the past few years, the Lord has been stirring a desire to GO. He has confirmed in the last few months, our calling from the current Pastoral role to transition into a Missionary role. As our season in Ohio is coming to a close… we are ready to embrace our next assignment.

This is what we do know ~ The Knowns:

God is telling us to >>>GO>>>.

We know God spoke, “You were made for this.”

We know we can not survive doing anything else.

We are selling our house and almost everything we own.

We are leaving a supportive church, full of amazing people, we have loved and served the past 10 years.

Our new “home base” will be the Northwest. And our mission field, the World.

We will be serving with Vineyard Churches in the Northwest region and going thru YWAM for Overseas Missions.

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What will this next chapter look like? What will be doing for the next 20 years? Honestly, we are not completely sure. We do not fully know how it will map itself out… but God. We put our trust fully in Him. We desire to use the gifts He has given us for His glory wherever He calls us to go …

Serving the least, the last, the lost.

Going into all the World.

Thru…

Worship

Church Planting

Preaching and Pastoring

Teaching and Training

Coaching and Counseling

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Our calling is to Know God and make Him known. 

We invite you to join us on this journey. The story rages on… In Him, The Babs Fam

Genesis 12: 1 “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

How to Join Us in the Great Unknown:

1. PRAY – Commit to being on our PRAYER TEAM and pray for our family regularly.

2. GIVE so we can GO>>>.
As a Global Missionary family we will be 100% supported by your donations. Please consider becoming part of our GO TEAM so we can GO throughout the world to MAKE HIM KNOWN. There are several ways for you to GIVE:

GO TEAM GIVING OPTIONS:

-GIVE to The Babcock Family Directly via check or cash or send it to them @ 440 Hillview St. Pickerington, OH. 43147 ( until departure in late August 2014 )

-GIVE through Eastside Vineyard Church with a Check in-person or mailed to:
The Babcock Family c/o Eastside Vineyard Church.
333 Jericho Rd. Pickerington, OH. 43147
Just write: Babcock Family Missions in the Memo line or with an attached note. *you will receive a tax-deduction through this option.

-GIVE online through eastsidevineyard.org/give/, and in the Designation field choose, Special Offering and then in the bottom box entitled: Notes, type: Babcock Family Missions. *you will receive a tax deduction through this option