We need self-control even MORE than gun control {and no offense, Mr President, our Prayers ARE Enough}

For the moments when this world seems upside down…

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

I have no experience with guns. I have never owned, used or even held a gun. I know very little about ‘gun control’… however I DO know those two words evoke a range of emotions from a range of people. This is not a debate on the pros and cons of gun control but rather a call for self-control.

I have a quick temper. I have wounded many people with my anger in the course of my 38 years, navigating thru this life. I, along with every other human, need self-control. I have clenched my jaw in frustration, raised my fists to bang on doors, cracked a car windshield with my feet, thrown my shoes at the walls, and slung my words in rage. I, along with every other human being on this earth, need Jesus.

We are all vulnerable and fragile people, in need of a Savior. We are crying out for salvation and yet… in the same moment, we are blind to recognize and acknowledge the gaping soul wounds we carry, which only He can mend. The reality of worlds brokenness is glaring at us. We do not have to look far to see the hopelessness and desperation our world operates in. We are scrambling to ‘get it together’… We are scrambling, grasping for control.

The tragedies we are facing daily in our nation are not rooted in gun control, but rather self-control. And with all due respect to President Obama, our PRAYERS ARE ENOUGH

Self control is rarely exalted. But losing control is. Let’s change this! Do we want to see things change? Or do we want to continue bemoaning the same issues with the focus constantly on ourselves? Adults — We need to get over ourselves! The world is not going to change with lawmakers and political discussions, throwing fits about who is right and wrong. The world is going to change with our KIDS. We need to PRAY over our kids!

I have the privilege of working with 200 elementary students, teaching Art and watching over them when they are at recess, in their classrooms and in the cafeteria. Part of my job is having eyes to see when issues arise with the kids, and address those issues before they grow into bigger issues. I support the teachers and help teach the students navigate their own self-control. I help them recognize the responsibility they have for their own choices, actions and emotions as they go thru their days, as they study and work in class, listen to their teachers, eat their lunches and play during recess. Kids have a lot to sort thru as they go about their days. They experience stress as much as adults do. Never cease in PRAYING for our kids. 

My heart along with many others breaks for the senseless tragedy at Umpqua Community College this week. We must honestly ask ourselves – Are we numb? Do we believe our prayers are enough? This is not just another mass shooting. We honor the 9 lives lost too soon. This is another moment in our lifetime to grieve, mourn and cry out on behalf of our nation, our world. To cry out and pray against future mass shootings. To pray for those contemplating using violence in any form to hurt the innocent. To pray for the souls of those who lack self-control and whose actions impact our nation with senseless shootings. To pray, pray, pray and PRAY some more. How are we responding?

If we merely see the surface of this and so many tragedies, we will only see the cracks caused by brokenness. But if you look further… you will see beyond the hopelessness and desperation. You will see beyond the rage of a gunman and see God working thru this tragedy. You will see people rise up in prayer and surrender to Jesus. You will see we have a choice. We can operate from a place of peace and self-control.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of he Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” We are human, we are people born into sin, and we need to learn self-control. We need to PRAY for the fruits of the Spirit to invade our individual lives, and our world. We cry out for YOU, King Jesus, our Savior who is King of all the earth and King of self-control. Show us what it means to operate in the Fruits of Your Spirit, rather than our human sinful nature and terrible tendencies.

If you are a follower of Christ, this is not a time in our nations history to continue the ongoing political debates about gun control and what suit looks best on President Obama. This is a time to pour into prayer for change. To lift our voices for the next generation… for them to walk and RUN thru this earth, bearing every fruit of the Spirit!

It is time for more prayer and self-control. Thank you for reading, sharing and responding!

In Him, Leslie

this old house.

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We closed on our house in Ohio a week ago. We are no longer home owners… Livin’ large without a mortgage… foot loose and fancy free. Or something like that. Seven weeks ago we packed up our old house in Ohio and moved to Oregon. We left our un-sold house with a few random things in our garage, for friends who felt like coming to pick them up. We prayed our house would sell. We left ‘on faith’ knowing God was calling us to GO, to pack our boxes, load the truck and move. People thought we were slightly crazy and perhaps a little irresponsible, walking away from our un-sold home. But we knew what God had asked us to do, and we trusted Him.

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We played the sell-our-house game while moving across the country… we received an offer, gave a counter offer, it was accepted, check. mate. Now the dust has settled, closing papers have been signed, and we have officially sold our first home. We’re rrriiiiich!!! Not really, but that would’ve been cool. Oh well.

Reflecting on the last eight and a half years of the bank owning this old house… memories abound. Bittersweet feelings have engulfed us. We are so thankful for the moments had in this old house… we’ve spent time reminiscing with our kids… so much family time was built in this old house…

Our kitchen ~ We created meals together, inspired by ideas and the desire to try new recipes. We engaged in deep coffee conversations. A space where I spent much of my time, where God met me at the kitchen sink ~ cleaning dishes, enjoying the sunshine pouring thru our cedar windows, He spoke to my heart. Our kitchen was a place to set up “store” and play “cafe”~ an ice skating rink, the girls slipped on their socks and set foot onto the slippery floor, gliding across pretending to be ice skaters.

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Our Dining Room ~ The gathering place, where we nourished and fed our family. A cafe of cozy meals and stories shared around our old table. The dining table served many areas, a place to work on homework, play games, table top ping-pong, Uno and puzzles, play with play dough, or play kitchen.

Our Living Room ~ A dance floor for family dance parties, free to be yourself, to make messes, clean up, relax, take a nap, read stories, share couch cuddles, watch movies. We loved eating ethnic foods on our living room floor, experiencing the dinners of another culture inside our old house. Our living room was a space to worship and learn to play instruments. A jungle gym space to bounce on the couches and climb on the furniture. Explore. Create. Mess up. Clean. Repeat. 

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Our bedrooms, our laundry room, our basement, our deck, our backyard, heck >>> even our bathrooms… The moments we have shared in this old house will forever remain in our hearts ~ Our family grew, our babies grew into kids, our marriage grew deeper. We miss our yard, especially our deck. We loved eating outside, as long as it wasn’t storming and above 30 degrees. Winter, spring, summer or fall we enjoyed this old house. In spite of the work it required, we loved this old house. We will miss this old house and will treasure the stories it has told. But we are ready for the new stories, yet to be written… Our hearts swell with memories, thankfulness and anticipation.

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After 7 weeks of living with our parents, *this weekend* we are moving into our rental house ~ Eeeek!!! Stay tuned for the next story of finding this rental in a crazy housing market. Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

Life’s a beach in Oregon.

We’ve been Oregonians for five weeks now… aaaand… what does it even mean to be an ‘Oregonian’, you might ask? While I’m certain the answer varies from peeps to peeps, for us ‘Life in Oregon’ has been a b**ch. It’s been HARD. but hey, we’ve been to the beach. and that’s really why we’re here. Well, not really. but it helps. It helps to know when things are hard, we can go to the beach :).

When our cars break down… we can hitchhike to the beach.
When we can’t find a rental house… we can live with our parents… who live close to the beach.
When our kids are fighting… we can yell at them… and then take them to the beach… where no one ever fights.
When homeschooling at home sucks… we can go exploring… and learn something new… at the beach.
When we’re stressed out from moving cross-country, living out of boxes in disorganized chaos, living with our parents, starting over, Pastoring at a new church, selling our house we left in Ohio, and homeschooling in the middle of it all… we can say ‘screw it’ and head to the beach!

We’ve been to the beach twice since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been wonderful. I wish I could say things have been smooth sailing, and coasting on over to the beach has swept away all our problems, but no. Since we’ve moved, we have walked on water thru some very hard days. Wave after wave, the difficult circumstances have washed over us. At times, treading water, at times being pulled under. Sooo many days, I’ve wanted to run away to the beach, but there’s been too much to do. And reality is – life is hard – and we have to walk thru trials and circumstances without going to the beach to escape.

Have you ever worn a wetsuit? They are a pain in the ass to put on. Imagine squeezing a watermelon into some pantyhose. That’s me – squeezing myself into a wet suit. The last time we went to the beach, I was so frustrated with squeezing myself into the wetsuit, and I was very close to giving up. Selah was in the bathroom with me, encouraging me to finish putting on my freakin’ wetsuit. “C’mon mom, you’re almost done.” I was so glad she did. The time spent in the ocean was amazing. Although I was frustrated with the work it took to put on the suit, I knew I would regret not going into the water.

If you want to enjoy the Oregon coast, you need a wetsuit. You can dance on the waters edge without one, but if you dare to go deeper, you need a wetsuit. We can dance on the edge of Christianity without a care, but if we dare to go deeper, we need the armor of God to protect us from the enemy. 

As we prepared to move from Ohio to Oregon, I knew we would be swimming into darker, deeper waters of ministry. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I knew our faith would be tested. I knew attacks of the enemy would come. I knew it was going to be frustrating to step into unknown territory. And I knew if we did not make this move, we would regret it.

We are not battling the raging waters. We are in a spiritual battle, unseen to the human eye. In the midst of this move, it has been easy to become distracted with the external problems, shifting our focus from the reason we are here. God prepared my spirit for this battle in prayer. As the trials have come, He has been showing me how to battle in prayer. We are here to know HIM and to make HIM known. There are times, a wetsuit and a trip to the beach seem like the ideal way to deal with the difficulties we face… but Oregon is so much more than a trip to the beach. This is a place full of people living in darkness, yearning for One they do not yet know. And I will spend my life making Him known here.

My armor is on. It is His presence. I fight from my rightful place in His presence. In His strength. His love. His hope. His joy. His peace. 

Our Story rages on… In Him, Leslie

*All water and cursing puns intended for the authenticity of this story.

east to west

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It has been a year… God whispered GO… the time is now. He stirred in our souls a desire to leave comfort and a place we were known and loved by beautiful people, to a place of unknowns. We responded to God – yes, we will go. Unsure of exactly ‘where’, we knew He was calling us to the Northwest to plant new roots. Our hearts were drawn to Oregon, where Adam’s family lives… and to the Nations, our desire to serve in overseas missions has burned in our spirits since we began dating over 18 years ago.

We said ‘Yes’ to the GO. We began the process of discerning the ‘next step’ early summer. We resigned from our church in Ohio in June, and began the process of saying goodbye to the church family we’ve loved for 10 years. We knew we would miss the hell ‘outta them. It was not an easy process. Some people excited for us, some joy-filled for our journey, some sad, some confused, some without understanding, and some angry we were leaving… It’s hard for a church to lose a Pastor. We’ve walked this church thru that loss before. We don’t recommend it just for kicks or anything.

We became very comfortable with the answer ‘We don’t know…’ We don’t know where we’ll end up. We don’t know which country we’ll be going to. We don’t know which church we’ll be joining. Slowly, the next steps began to unfold, along with many more unknowns and many times the answer to questions about our future was ‘I don’t know.’ He never promises us a map of the journey, but He promises us His presence on the path. 

We began to pursue YWAM. Their mission, their ministry and their movement inspired us. We connected with the YWAM leaders at their base in Canby, Oregon and began the next steps of applying and raising funds for the Discipleship Training School. Meanwhile, we connected with many Pastors and leaders in the Vineyard Northwest region, knowing we would need a new ‘home church’ to plug into. “Our plan” was to attend YWAM, and plug into the Portland Vineyard church.

God had a different plan.

Mid-August, a few weeks before we were planning to move, the Northwest Vineyard leadership contacted us, and we learned another Vineyard church outside of Portland was in need of a Pastor. The same week, we learned there were no other families beside ours attending the YWAM. Regardless, we were moving to Oregon. Now, we were faced with a decision before we began the journey from east to west. Which next step were we to choose? Where was God leading us? What was He calling us to do?

We became more comfortable with the uncomfortable.  

We choose to say ‘Yes’ to God, and Pastor the Hillsboro Vineyard Church. We chose an ‘arranged marriage’ of a Pastor and his family to a church Bride we barely knew. We met her once, we took her hands in ours and said ‘We Do.’ This church was not on our radar. This was never part of ‘our plan’, Yet God knew.

The process has been a journey with confusion and clarity, anger and joy, sadness and excitement as our companions along the path. Yet God spoke. You were made for this. Don’t look back. When the road is expansive and the pathway clear, you just drive… and 4 weeks ago, we began driving.

Wednesday, September 10th 2014 – Day 1. We left our unsold, still-on-the-market, only home our kids have ever known, in Ohio and started driving… Adam, in a 16ft box Budget truck with no cruise control, cd player or companion, towing our CRV chained to the auto transport. Me, in our ’97 Odyssey with our 3 wee Babs, all of our crap, and the beautiful mess of our temperaments and personalities. At least I had a cd player… We made it thru Ohio, Indiana and the torrential rain storms and flood warnings to arrive safely in Danville, Illinois. We were blessed to stay with a family friend the first evening. We even washed our wet towels we left home with. I wasn’t particularly excited about traveling for 5 days with wet towels, but we had to take showers and clean the house until it sparkled, before we left Ohio. We were a sweaty mess from loading the truck, loading Adam’s car and cleaning our house to keep it “show ready”. Barf – house showings make me want to throw up… I digress.

Thursday, September 11th – Day 2. Well rested, we drove on I-80 West, I-80 West, …and drove some more I-80 West thru the rest of Illinois, thru Iowa and made it to Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska is a “I was surprised by its beauty” beautiful state. It’s vast and somewhere along the way, I lost all cell phone coverage, so that became torture for me. We just kept – on – driving. I could handle the kids on my own, but without the ability to make phone calls… I began to doubt my sanity.

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Fun at rest stops in Nebraska

Friday, September 12th – Day 3. Somewhere in Wyoming… which is also a beautiful expansive state with barely any people living in it, and with sketchy cell phone service. While driving, we got a call for 2 house showings. Have I mentioned how much I love hate house showings?!? Oh. but this time, I didn’t have to clean for it & we moved all of our crap out of the house – SO bring on the showings! We continued driving on I-80 West, landing in our super cool hotel room for the evening in Laramie, Wyoming.

Saturday, September 13th – Day 4. We found a super cool coffee shop near our super cool hotel. We can deal with sketchy cell phone service, crazy kids and tiring days driving 2,500 miles cross country, but we can. not. deal. with bad coffee. We’ll be coffee snobs, and drive miles away for good coffee if need be. Driving along thru Wyoming, we made it to Rock Springs and we got a call from our realtor and received an offer on our house. BOOM>>>! Oh yeeeee, of little faith. Why did you doubt ME, thus sayeth the Lord? Oh Lord, forgive us! We knew You would come thru! Some 8+ hours later, after driving thru the rest of Wyoming and the blow-me-away beautiful state of UTAH, we dragged our tired selves into our hotel room in stinky, smells-like-manure- Burley, Idaho and came up with a wicked counter-offer. Would they accept it…??? drum roll please…

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Sunday, September 14th – Day 5. I can’t take it any longer!!! We’re almost there!!! How much longer? When will we be to Grandmas? Blah blah blah blah blah! And this is ME (Mom) asking the questions 🙂 In the meantime, was our counter-offer accepted??? YES! They accepted our counter offer and the real fun I mean, real driving began. Selah became ridiculous and no amount of threatening her while flailing my arms from the drivers seat was improving her behavior, so I screamed at her while I was talking to our realtor (thankfully also an understanding friend, also with three small children) trying to work thru all the details of selling our house… WHILE DRIVING CROSS COUNTY!!! We had to pull over to deal with Selahs craziness, and the only place in cow-town Idaho was near a farm with cows and flies. We rolled down the windows for fresh manure air, Adam stood outside the van, staring at Selah to keep her behavior in check, she settled down and I called Amy back to finish talking thru the house-selling details. Did I mention we SOLD our HOUSE >>> WHILE driving CROSS COUNTRY!!!???  Yep. Yep we did. Oh, Leslie – what did you do on Sunday, BESIDES DRIVE ALL DAY LONG? Oh. We sold our house. 🙂

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Late that evening, tired and weary, our bodies in a permanent driving position, we wedged ourselves out of the vehicles we had come to love hate for the past 5 days, 2,500 miles. We made it to Oregon. Thankful for no injuries. No road troubles. No flat tires. No dead car batteries. No sickness. Full of so much to be thankful for. Five thankful hearts arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Oregon.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our half written records. Our story rages on… In Him, The Babs Fam

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