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Sunday, July 20, 2008

A new chapter

I have finally moved away from Blogger, after six years, we now have our own domain reachpolska.info and I have moved my blog to travis.reachpolska.info.

Please update your favorites, RSS news feeds (if needed, depending on what feed you originally subscribed to, some of you may automatically move over, if you see another post after this, that says welcome, then you have nothing else to do), and anything else referring to foodforfish.blogspot.com and point it to travis.reachpolska.info.

Thanks!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It starts now

Okay, so as of right now I am beginning the task of moving this blog over to my own hosted site, travis.reachpolska.info, the address has been changed for a while but the content is still here at blogger. So over this weekend things may get a bit bumpy, I think I have a way of keeping the feed address the same, so everyone who is subscribed in a news reader, or via email, shouldn't need to make any changes.

On another note, the big family things that went down on Thursday is, while very hard to walk out, is probably in the end a good thing. Romans 8:28 is what everyone invovled in (who are Christians) is hanging onto.

Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grieving

My wife and I just learned some terrible news (the kind that gets your hands trembling) about a family member. No one is dieing, and no one has died. The ramifications are huge, the wake from this news will cause many to feel anger (such as I do), frustration (such as I do), and either move people closer to relying on God or cause people to shut down and continue on like nothing happened, yet slowly becoming more cold.

I wish I could explain it, I wish I could express how I feel in my spirit about the fears that have finally become reality, due to people dwelling on the problem, rather than expecting God to fulfil the needs.

The affect this has on Alexis and I will be one of spiritual and relational challenges.

Please pray for understanding, leaning on God's word, how Alexis and I should participate, how the people involved should move, for God's discernment, for healthy confrontation on questions.

Lord I ask for your truth, your wisdom in how I should personally minister in the depths of this event. I know what you have said in my spirit, and I have a tension with others on how to healthily administer the truth. I ask that you give me, all of us, a clearer understanding, and that most of all that circumstances do not tear apart your kingdom. I pray for wisdom in dealing with resources and relationships. I humbly submit to learning a new level of trust in you, and in the people you have placed around us. May the shortfalls of the world NEVER determine the call, relationship, or love we have for one another.

In the power, authority, and love of Jesus I pray. - Amen - Make it so.

The sex fight

For a lot of Christian men there is a struggle to keep sexually pure. Now I realize that there are a lot of definitions of "purity" out there, it seem that some think masterbation is okay, and others think dressing in a sexually attractive way is okay, while some believe that not talking about any of these things is okay as well. Yes, we've heard this over and over, and I am still not convinced that the Church at large (the full body of Christ) has really taken this on. As I speak to more and more men I realize the need for a new Church culture that speaks Truth and Grace into the suxual purity issue.

I guess I take a hybrid, or middle of the ground, approach to these things. I believe that most of the time people don't take a deep look into the reasons behind these struggles. We, in the Church, have taken the appraoch of "think no evil, see no evil, speak no evil". When, from what I observe this has lead us to isolation, shame, doubt, and in many cases deep wounds that fester anger and fear, Jesus instructed us to not have even a hint of lust. Yet he forgives.

You see, I know that the enemy plays with this part of our lives because it is so destructive towards our ability to relate to God, and to others. We can easily become isolated and cut off and then allowing people to Love us, and for us to Love others becomes increasingly hard due to the shame that surrounds our heart. So I ask, what is the root of these "problems", how do we replace these desires with healthy ones? What is a healthy desire?

I am far from the answer, only recently have I began to fully grasp the freedom of exercising true freedom in this area. My past makes it difficult, but I know that He who is in me, is stronger than he who is in the world.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hewbrews 13

While this is a short chapter, it's still full of amazing things. Such as verse 2 " Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" and verse 7 "Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Thank of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do." and verse 17 "Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and tehy know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit."

Wow, some grea things to ponder over, especially concerning the pieces about leadership. Today there is so much distrust in Church leadership (and in many cases well deserved), and to trust takes trusting God first.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Major changes coming....

Okay so with our new Poland focused website pretty much up... I've fallen in love with using Word Press, and have decided to re-launch, re-brand, and re-focus food for fish... I'm kinda sad to see the name change... I might incorporate it somehow.. But I will converting this blog into my own personal blog, called "Living as a foreigner" for now, while I import, design, and tweak, you can see a test version here (right now, it's absolutely nothing but the default install of Word Press).

And sometime in the not to distant future you'll magically be transported to there when visiting this site... and hopefully the feed subscriptions as well.

Stay tuned....

Musing over the past

I have been looking at a lot of my old posts, and boy some of them are embarrassing. However, I have to realize, they are me. Now that we almost have a missions blog up, this place will become more about me, back to its roots. Sure I'll have snippets of our missions things, but in general, I'm ready to start delving deeper into my walk, and my observations of life.

Monday, July 14, 2008

When stuff hits you

So, for whatever reason, my stomach/intestines feel like they are in a knot. I tried the throne room, nothing moved. When random things like this hit, my job becomes terrible. I just want it to go away. I say to "it" - Behave and be normal, in Jesus' name.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Big to do list

Oh man, I have a huge list of things to do, or things I need other people to do...

A lot of it retains to our poland trip(s), donations, database, new website, emails, getting our team together, fundraising...

Then there's the home, fix the bathroom drawer, touch up the paint where the mattress scraped the wall, bleach the living room drapes, organize the garage, vacuum, dust, get garbage service again (that's a story), complete fish tank do-over...

And there's the Forge (our young adults ministry), contact our core team, setup meeting, get schedule for speakers setup, create database, contact new folks, layout messages for the coming year...

Finally the car... ug.... get estimate for fixing peeled paint from dump-truck rocks, get estimate for bumper fix from unknown person backing into me and running, see what the squeeling noise is (buddy thinks it's the timing belt, oh fun), get oil changed.

Thank God we learned what boundaries were at a young age... We do nothing, but what we feel we have energy for, on Sundays, and either Monday or Tuesday night we go on a date, usually something simple like coffee or dessert, but always something.

Things are moving forward

So, we've gone ahead and purchased our own domain name now: reachpolska.info

You'll notice (if you visit my blog) it now redirects to travis.reachpolska.info. I'll be slowly updating everything to reflect this change, for now everything should be pretty transparent. Eventually we'll have information on our missions on the main page of http://www.reachpolska.info/.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

OIL

Okay, so I have some strong opinions on what we need to do about oil, so I am far from un-bias on the subject. However, I feel that I am trying to be balanced and moderate in talking about it as well. Recently I received a letter from United Airlines, it was an open letter to all airline customers and written by all of the major US airlines. It talked about how oil speculation is taxing on $30 to $60 per barrel of oil. Well upon further research the evidence seem to be there. So I followed the link in the email to Stop Oil Speculation NOW, which by clicking this link, brings you to a very easy form that will send either an email or letter to your state and national representatives, you can even customize it. I added a couple of paragraphs on how this is personally effecting my family, and how I also see the need for our government to somehow use oil industry profits, and put more of its resources towards renewable resources and clean-burning (it's out there, - sorry must register to view, but great article!) oil-based energy.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mobile post

Anniversary roses, and fine dining coming up. Praise Jesus for "creative" financing and some anniversary gift money.

2 years, just the beginning

Today Alexis and I are celebrating our 2 years of marriage... Not much of a celebration... but we'll do something. I think anniversaries and birthdays should be paid holidays. It's been amazing, hard at times, but worth the pain. Not much else to say. Time to head home!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ode to Alexis

My wife is a seriously amazing woman of God. I don't mean that she is saintly, or a push over, or just a "nice church wife". I mean she seriously listens, obeys, talks, and has a relationship with God. It's her relationship, not mine, it's her walk and her talk with Him, it's personal for her, and she obeys when He asks her to. She listens for His voice on all matters, and is not afraid to bring up something that might be controversial.

Her passion for our work in Poland and here at home is nothing but excellent, and her love for people, even though it gets hard, never wavers. She may complain, but she doesn't give up, even when she feels like it. Her ability to be a lover, mentor, home-maker, wife, mom, and friend all at once is a feat that goes un-sung.

I thank God almighty for her, and I seek his face in joy for bringing us together, keeping us together, and allowing me to serve together with Him and her. Because of her willingness to learn, be stretched, and to love in spite of her feelings on things, we have become only stronger, and she has become a bright star in the sea of God's children.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Can we ever see the "both" in Christ?

I just read an article that made me sick, sick because it contains both truths and extreams... It also is down right un-graceful, last I checked, Jesus was full of grace. It is true that our God is both vulnerable and has authority. I'm sure that the quote from Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church - Seattle) was not meant to be what the article makes it out to be. The gospel makes it clear that Jesus wants us to be both weak and strong, to allow him to fill our weaknesses in faith, and to allow kill our pride (false strength) in order to love him and people.

In my observation most people in the Church have true points to make, but they get stuck on one facet, they see one side to the whole picture. We serve the infinite God, his ways are far beyond our ways, and personally I would rather keep my sights on serving him where I feel passionate instead of being critical of one another. I believe in correction, but overall I believe in pointing people to a more full picture. Let's make our picture of Jesus bigger than ourselves, He's vulnerable (weak in some people's eyes) and strong, beyond our understanding.

Stay moderate, keep a healthy open view, while listening to the extremes, and gracefully speak truth to the areas that bring a more holistic picture of the true God we know.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

NO WAY!

You know how many times I have heard people say "No way" when I talk about long term missions (heck, even short term missions)? I would say 9 out of 10 times. Sometimes I even get people laughing, like they think I'm joking. So, for those of you who have have laughed when I asked that, let it be known, I wasn't joking.

It boggles my mind that people can be so closed-minded (in my opinion afraid of the unknown, which is what most of our life with Christ is) about serving God in another place.

And then God reminds me, just as much as I don't understand "them", "they" don't understand me. So I digress, I drop little seeds with people to open their minds to hearing God's heart for another people-group. I of course agree there is plenty of work to do here in America, yet if we all took a short-term trip to another place outside our culture, saw another part of the Church, then maybe, just maybe, we would have a bit more passion to be his hands and feet to America and beyond.

Monday, June 30, 2008

It takes dough

This whole missions thing takes dough, the kind that's green and flat (is that unleavened?), but Jesus can make loaves of the stuff from nothing.

Here's a break down of nearly all our donation totals for each trip sent directly to our mission accounts. (It doesn't include team raised funds from some trips).

$9,008 - September 2003 to August 2004 Travis' year

$349 - 2005 U-Turn Summer youth camp hosted in Poland (team funded the rest)

$3,380 - 2006 U-Turn Summer youth camp hosted in Germany, spent extra week in Poland

$5,070 - 2007 U-Turn Summer youth camp hosted in France, spent extra week in Poland

$1,085 - February 2008 - Poland (still waiting on full report)

October 2008 - Poland (still fundraising) donations to date: $748 goal $9,000 for team

I just have to say, praise and glory be to Jesus. At times it's been incrediblly stressful (such as the France year, having a shortage of $1,000 in the field sucks, yet He came through). Each year we remain humbled by the generosity and blessings by so many of you. Thanks for serving your father in prayer and giving.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

5 years ago today.


On this day in 2003 Alexis and I began our courtship. In about a week and a half (July 9th) we'll celebrate two years of marriage. God has been amazing through these years, it has been far from smooth. At times it seemed it would end in disaster, but as long as we hung onto what we knew was true of God we slowly began to realize what God believed in each of us, by using each of us to see our human flesh through another's eyes. This picture is from that very day.


Also Emma will be three months old on our anniversary! Time is flying so fast.

Portland Polish community in the news

Was just searching the internet and found an article in the Portland tribune on the Polish community here. I was looking for the hours of the Polish Cafe and found an article dated June 12th, 2008! Some friends of ours and us are going there today, hopefully we'll be able to check out some DVDs from the Polish library right above the cafe.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Polska w Październiku (Poland in October)

I know this doesn't apply to many of you, but for those that may be available!

We would like to have a finalized team of 4 people for our trip in October (we leave on the 4th, arrive on the 5th and leave on the 18th). While we are leaving for 2 weeks it is possible for you to either come late or leave early during our time there. So if it is vacation time/schedule problem we are flexible! Please, don't worry about the money, the sooner we know the full size of our team the sooner we can properly plan fundraising events. We have only had to self-fund a very small portion of our trips, God provides in so many amazing ways.

So what might we be doing, you ask?

Our passions that we would like to bring to the younger generation revolve around small group ministry. We have been using John and Sonja Decker's book "Holy Spirit Empowered Small Groups" in our own home group, and have seen amazing results with our group going and growing deeper in ways that unhide our shame and speak grace into the dark parts of our past and present.

We will be doing Language School as well, so that will take up a chunk of our time in the day time (Mon thru Fri), our friends who come with us will be watching our daughter, but will be available in any tangible way to serve the Polish people (moving, painting, etc) if there is not anything along those lines than they'll be having prayer walks around the city and whoever wants to join them is welcome.

Also we are open to meet with people/couples for coffee or in their homes, simply to encourage them and build relationships. We envision taking 3 or 4 nights a week doing a home/small group intensive based on the book. The rest of our time and focus would be on language, sharing with our team mates Poland, praying, and serving in whatever ways we can, by meeting with people and anything else that may come up. We want to focus on character discipleship.

We hope to visit the Nowy Targ/Zakopane area on the weekend of the 10-12 (Fri-Sat), but the details of this are sketchy at best. We are looking into staying at a hotel, and are also open to the possibility of staying in host homes, but we do not want to be a burden on anyone, so only if there are people who are desiring to host us, otherwise we are fine with staying in a hotel/hostel.

Please respond only if you are truly interested, for this to work for us, we really need 2 more people. Thanks and blessings!

Friday, June 27, 2008

This sums up my last two days...

Yeah, thankfully I didn't do anything like this, just everyone else around me did... I guess that's what happens when you're the IT guy trying to get an entire network back up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How do you herd cats?

People are incredibly hard to motivate. In fact, while we try to fund raise it feels we are trying to herd cats. This little video demonstrates how effective we feel:



So the question becomes; how do we effectively fund raise? Our resources are scarce and we have even less time.

Here's our list of ideas:

  • Doing a Polish dinner/dessert fundraiser night (people come expecting to donate and hear what we are doing, in person, and relationally based) - requires money to make money and time consuming.
  • Making a video of Alexis and I on what we do in Poland, that we upload to all of our different social web places. - free, except time consuming.
  • Send out support letters in the snail mail (electronic ones just don't seem to be doing the job) - medium amount of time and money.

We may have to do a combination of all of those. Our goal right now is get our airfare paid, it keeps going up, and we can't have more of that!

Gotta pray, gotta ask, gotta receive.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There's going to be a loud explosion.

In a number of places I have a few ideas... now I'm hoping they are explosive, but they just might thud, but that's okay. Taking risks always leads to growth when you're living in the Kingdom.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If only trains worked in America

I love trains, I would love to see high speed, competitively priced trains in America... but we would need so much investment to make it work, and even then Air travel is much more efficient for a nation the size of ours. Now if we all agreed to sell every straight path between all our major cities, and somehow paid for all of this, than it might work... here's an interesting article.

Voice from the past

Every once and a while I browse my archives, sometimes I'm embarrassed by what I have written, and I'm tempted to change old posts, but I never have. Other times I'm in awe of the stuff I've written, and think to myself "what happened"? Then there are some entries that I think, "why on earth did I ever write that"?

But alas, for whatever reason (maybe possession?) I felt the need to write those things and so they will forever (unless Google dies) be here, for whoever to see. These words are me, my past, my present, and my future. The voice of my past, does not define who I am today, nor does it define my future, but it does show the fingerprints of God on my life. Every blessing he poors out I will turn to praise, and no matter what I have, or what I don't have, I will say blessed be his name.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When God speaks... courage is needed.

This morning at church God spoke to me about some pretty crazy things. Asking for sacrifices in mine and Alexis' life that just would never make sense on paper. Could certainly use some prayer on these ones. It all fits into our calling, doesn't change who we are, nor does it look that different on the surface, just requires us to communicate more of our hearts.

Stay tuned, courage is needed because sacrificing hurts.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You want me to what what?

Life (or God, haven't figure out which yet) seems to keep putting me in the midst of inter-relational unrest lately. For the most part this doesn't freak me out, but when it happens at work, at home, at church, and amongst friends, than I get a bit fatigued.

It is in these times that I must remind myself and live by God's prompting that true love is a love that loves through these things. A love that corrects, a love that remains faithful to God's character, a love that is humble, and a love that has no end. Will everyone accept correction, no, but it is still my responsibility to speak what God puts on my heart, but it is not my responsibility for someone to correct themselves. I will speak truth in love with grace.

I will not continue to throw pearls to the swine, I will not continue to invest in those that can't accept the loving truth, but I will plant the truth when the soil is fertile. Even when I am fatigued from the energy of it, for relationships are the fabric of life.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Learning Polish

Alexis and I are trying to teach ourselves Polish, and we can tell you it isn't always easy. There are times where we play an audio track over and over trying to figure something out, and other times where we can't even figure out the directions in our text books.

There are so many things that are different in Polish from English, such as 7 cases... who can tell me what the heck a case is? I only know because of learning Polish... So good luck.

Thankfully I have found some software for our Windows mobile phones, one is a talking dictionary/translator, another one is a flash card program. These are good for the beginning steps, but as time goes, we'll need lots of Patience.

Can't wait for our trip in October where we'll take intensive lessons for two weeks while in Kraków. Hopefully we'll start some tutoring lessons here in Portland too, just gotta find room in the budget.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Radiance

I can only imagine it.
Walking up the hill.
Talking as friends do.

And then a great radiance began.
At first the warmth.
Then being in awe.

It becomes glorious.
To be one of the three.
To stand in the awesome splendor.

To see the radiance of our Lord Almighty.
In my heart it is there, the glory, the light.
In my spirit I am one of the three.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Pastor Factor

James 3:1-2
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

How many of us have been wounded by a pastor? How many of us have witnessed a pastor fail? There is a lot to say about the calling of pastorship. Yet because of our human tendency for shaming and measuring people by their behavior (which is simply being religious instead of relational) rather than their character we become easily jaded and cynical towards leaders in the church. It is true that pastors/teachers in the Church "should" live above reproach, yet, no where do we see that there are two levels of Christians, the ministers verses the followers... we are all on the same playing field and we need to be aware of people's internal character, firstly with our own.

Then the world will know us for our love, loving a person in spite of their behavior is what our Christ did for us.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not centered.

Ever have those days where you feel like you feel as if your different parts are scattered around town? Today is that day for me. I'm everywhere except here. I think it's a Monday thing.

In other thoughts, being jaded and cynical, the death of fellowship?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lack of funds can feel like lack of call...

Alexis and I have been on a fundraising break for a bit, it can be exhausting to always be in fundraising mode. Starting this summer I plan on putting away a bit each month into our missions funds from our own income, but so far we have simply been unable to do that and have depended on donations for 100% of our fundraising.

Then there are times where I feel we need to have faith that God will provide, because he always has. Many times the opposite is also true, Where I think the lack of donations means we're just not suppose to go. But that does not sit well in our hearts at all. So, I contend as James instructs us to have faith in God without wavering.

Currently, for our October trip, we have $640 of the $4550 (includes language school) that Alexis and I need. Our teammates need $1500 each. If we received just $40 from 100 people, Alexis and I would be done!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The reality beyond...

While this blog has primarily been a personal one and focused on my call to Poland, there is a reality beyond that. I have friends who are missionaries in Turkey, and they live in the capitol city where Christian churches are having more difficulties, even though Turkey aspires to join the European Union.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

bing, ding, buzz, ring...

Caller tunes, ring tones, jingles, earworms...

And oh yeah, beeps.

Sometimes I think my auditory circuits could explode. So I finally dived into the twitter thing, still trying to figure out what the heck the point is, but I think I might get into it... maybe. Right now I guess something is broken so my Facebook status and twitter aren't talking, which was one of the reasons I even tried out another social app... But I did find a nifty app for my windows mobile phone so I can "tweet" from my today screen easily. Hmmm maybe there is a windows vista tweet gadget... off to look. I found one, neato. And goodnight.

Just checking...

So my wife sent me this picture. I guess the Gresham fire department needed to see if their ladder would reach our roof and how. One would think that during the permit and planning phase of our townhouse neighborhood this would have been addressed. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I miss Europe!

Gosh I miss Europe so much. There are times where I browse old photos of our trips to Europe... yes I know, some people don't ever get the opportunity to see Europe. Sometimes I seem to live life from trip to trip, with the in between times simply being the means to the end. Then there are times like today, where I avoid looking at the pictures (particularly hard on Facebook, as a number of my European friends post pictures or have profile pictures in Europe) because I get a heartache.

And so I digress, submit myself to what I'm called to do here and now, lean in on what the Lord has for me in the moment and pray for those in Europe. I'm beginning to feel like a foreigner here... and yet, I feel very American there...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Loathing work...

On most weekday mornings I loath the thought of going to work. It isn't that I hate my job, in fact, my job is pretty cool, my co-workers are great, and most of the work itself is pretty good as well. However, for some reason I just hate the thought of going to work. A lot of it is the fact that I do not find any kind of fulfilment in my work, servers are not the most social entities. There are relational perks, but I must work hard at seeking out those opportunities. As a follower of Christ I find it very difficult to find Christ's purpose in my line of work. Nonetheless though, He has shown me favor amongst the powers that be, in pay, and in fringe benefits.

However, the loathing continues, but I do praise Him anyway that I have a job, that it provides for my family, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel coming my way. Maybe this is why I've been so interested in the theory of Star trek economy (a society without money)... yeah can't wait for the new Jerusalem!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

test

test

Hearing God

In the past few weeks I've had a number of people ask me about hearing from God. Or, more specifically, hearing God's voice.

Since it is nearly 1am, I'm not going to elborate to much on this, but I do have a few thoughts.

First I think many of us try far to hard. I actually think a lot of us have probably heard His voice clear and strong, but we either thought it was our own, or too afraid to obey it in faith.

For me, his voice is always the gut feeling, not the fleshly desire, but the inner thoughts that guide me in decisions, letting me know if something is right or wrong. I've learned to tune into this voice more and more over the years, and without doubt, I know it is His voice.

It has taken nearly a decade to come to this point, and I still fail miserably in actully giving time to listen to His voice. But growing up I always had an inner sense of right and wrong, and I believe it was the Holy Spirit, but since I didn't have the relationship with Jesus as I do now I simply thought it was my "conscience".

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Major design changes...

Pardon the dust around here, I've finally gone and taken the leap into redesigning this blog... right now it's just simple. I want to keep it that way, but I also want it to be fresh, be me, and be more defined. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I'm this angered...

God has been giving me a lot of insight into his love of all people. But not the kind of love that the world says, you know what I mean, the one that says we shouldn't disagree with things like pre-marital co-habitation, pre-marital sex, homosexuality... of course those the some of the "big ones".. but along the same line, and as God has shown me recently, his heart grieves the same for those that avoid conflict with people, the people pleasers, manipulators, deceivers, etc.

You see, I have a growing anger inside of me, one that I believe is righteous. Everwhere I look I see broken people, inside and outside the Church. I see people who have been pushed over, "in the name of love", I see people who "in the name of love" argue to the end on politics, I see my friends making choices to please people that just gets lorded over by another person. This anger in me about these things is so hard to walk out though. I want to tell people the truth, but many of them just are not ready for the truth, they see it as shame, hate, or just religion.

If God's people were to truly focus on Jesus, if they were to struggle listening for him, rather than their world desires, I believe we would see a lot more happening. We must focus our dicipleship efforts on brining people into a healthy understanding of faith, humility, and submission in Jesus.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The paradox

Sometimes it seems that I have an energy inside me that has no way of being expelled. I know life has its ups and downs, and that joy is a choice much of the time. So with this extra energy I feel inside of me I hope to go forward and direct it at people. I want to be intentional with my life, and I do not want to direct this overflow onto myself, at least not this time. There are very important times when we need to direct energy onto ourselves, but for me, right now, that's not necessary, but it's not easy either.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Polska REACH newsletter sent/uploaded.

Alexis and I just sent out an updated newsletter about our Poland missions, you can find it here... Lots of good information, and I promise it won't take more than 7 min (I timed it) to read. So goto the break room (or kitchen for those folks at home), get a cofee, or whatever your beverage of choice is, and read about what God is doing. Besides, it has some cute pictures of our daughter Emma!

Love the hell out

True love of others and of God is loving the hell out of people. Not shaming people, but giving them grace to be human, to be selfish, to be well, full of sin. We simply can not expect people who haven't given their life and heart to Jesus to understand our values, principles, and morals. We can't logically argue with a person who doesn't understand living by faith. We can try, but many times (not all) it's in vain. Someone who is avidly pro-choice abortion, or pro same-sex marriages, isn't going to understand the reason having faith nulls those issues.

Faith gives us a much bigger understanding beyond ourselves, it gives us the courage to carry a child even when circumstances are terrible. It gives us the courage to see that our sexuality is more than physical. Faith gives us the understanding that God will take it into his hands when we give it to him. My faith in Him has relieved me of my homosexual desires. Having faith gives us the courage to tithe first and give our offerings even when when our bank account is empty or negative and we still have hundreds of dollars of bills.

So, we must first love people, live in faith, and remind ourselves that Hell is real. When we love people, in and out of the Church, we bring them out of Hell and into the Kingdom of God. That is why Jesus is the savior. He desires for us to be in relationship with him, not stuck in Hell, 100% alone, but with the knowledge that Jesus simply wanted our hearts so he could bless us in our free will to choose him. Those that do end up in Hell, they won't be partying, they won't be hanging out with like minded people, they'll be utterly alone, unable to be in relationship for eternity, yet knowing, and I believe seeing the rest in relationship and living in the glory of God.

So, love the hell out of people. Bless them. Speak the truth. Live in faith. Live the truth of God's love.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The need in Poland

Take a look at my missionary friend in Poland, she's got some good stats up on the need for missionaries, church planters, and prayer in Poland.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Obligation to love

This Thursday I'm speaking at our young adults group, I'm calling it "An obligation to love".

We really don't have a choice to love. Our God doesn't have the choice, He gave us free will so that we would love genuinely. As a disciple in the teachings, divinity, and person of Jesus, I do not have a choice to do anything but love people. For who they are... human. Everyone sins, we all make mistakes, our flesh is weak. And still I must love, I must accept people's faults. None of this is a free license to be walked on, beat up, and spat on. No, that would mean I wasn't loving myself.

To love God, is to give him praise, allow him to speak into my life, and obey Him in his commandments (to love Him and people). To love people is to treat with respect, listen, have sympathy for, speak encouragement, and most of all speak a life of truth. If I notice another brother with red flags in his life (IE, spending habits, the way he talks with girls, etc) than to truly love him I must confront him out of the relationship that I have. Confront someone is not shaming them, it's not condemning them, it's speaking truth where it counts (as Jesus did w/ the woman at the well). If a friend is always seeking to be with people, and is feeling lonely when not with friends, than I may probe into the priority prayer in their life.

For our culture, these ideas usually prompt the response of "it's none of your business" or "that's personal". Yes, I know, and because I love you I want to see you grow in that area. The key to all of this is relationship though, and speaking gracefully, the more grace, and the more relationship we have, the more our love for Him and others can be shown.

We must stop being afraid to love in truth. This is what I believe worshipping in truth and spirit is.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My creed: Worship

Worship for me is not just about music, not just about emotions, and not just about verbal praise. It's all of those things but much more. Worship for me is putting myself in the throne room of God, being right in the heavenly realms. It's serving him as if I'm in heaven. It's praising him as if I am in heaven. It's loving him and others, as if I am in heaven.

I can only imagine what heaven will be like, and it is what I imagine that brings me to raise my hands, sing at the top of my lungs, and allow the emotions to fill my heart. It's what I imagine that pulls me to serve him in truth and spirit. Lastly, it's what I imagine of heaven that bids me to be as humanly close to Jesus as I can be with people, myself, and him. That is my worship.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My creed: What is church to me?

Many people see church from a fairly subjective view, mixed in with bad history, culture, and a lot of bias. Even today's emergent churches, or urban churches, tend to be jaded by the culture's idea of "church".

As I have mentioned before I am tired of the religious people of America trying to legalize morality, it simply can not be done. Instead of using our secular political system to do God's work (which isn't happening) why don't we do what Jesus told us to do? Let's go make disciples, disciplined ministers of God's message of a loving truth.

Instead of constantly focusing our attention on what the "others", the "non-believers", the "non-Christians", are not doing, doing wrong, or on what they are corrupting... why don't we pray, and be God's hands and feet? He sent us to do the job, he's given us authority, he says we can do things bigger than Jesus did!

Instead what I see is large "evangelical" organizations seeking legal actions, posting propaganda, spending millions and millions of dollars on ad campaigns for their politicians...

Yes, I know there are good organizations out there, I just believe we focus far too much on the "other things" rather than on Jesus and individually listening to him and his will for our individual lives. Imagine if every Jesus believing person were to take the call seriously, if we were to see the vision he has for us (yes that one that is FAR beyond your capabilities and qualities), imagine what could be changed, imagine our friends and families being effected by God's people touching the every-day lives of every-day people?

That's what church is for me, it's empowering God's people to do his ministry. It's fellowship with allowing faults and allowing correction all at once because graceful, loving, communication is spoken. It's encouragement that flows out, even in correction. It's worshiping him in Spirit (our deepest emotions being met with acceptance and love), and it's worshipping in truth (our intellect being used for the advancement of His kingdom).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The first official steps

Well this has been a long wait, but Alexis and I have taken the first official steps towards being sent from our home church to church plant, train up small groups, and fulfill the great commission in full, in Kraków, Poland. We have submitted our vision along with our projected startup and monthly budgets.

Read our Polska REACH vision, our preliminary startup budget, and our projected monthly budget. This is all in flux, subject to change, and at the same time very scary and exciting!

Please take the time to read, as we are very open to feedback, suggestions, etc.

In the Lord's name, blessings.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Encouragment needed

I'm not depressed, or even feeling down, I'm not even really that frustrated. I'm just inpatient, wanting to be somewhere else where I can't be right now. I know the grass is not greener on the other side, and that I can be doing the same thing I feel called to do, right here in Portland.

Yet I think I have a good discontentment, yes that's a oxymoron of sorts, and that's okay. I just want to be more, I want to actually receive criticism, I want to better myself, I want to grow in my speaking abilities, I want to grow in my discipleship abilities, and most of all I want to just keep on growing with my ability to reach others with God's graceful truth.

Friday, May 02, 2008

What is love?

"All you need is love", "Love is just a game"

Well, lately God has been showing me a new side to Love. Now I bet most of you think this is about Emma... well in a way it is, but not really.

Yes Fatherhood has shown me a new side of love, and quite possibly this is where these ideas are stemming from. But as I was talking with Marcus at our devo this morning...

You see, lately as I drive around from client to client, the Lord has been showing me people's faces, and giving me a glimpse of how he loves them. It's like I feel in my heart the overwhelming grief, and/or pride he has for particular people. When I think of people I know who have made choices contrary to God's values I get even more emotional and can't do anything but pray for clarity in the person's life.

And now there's even more, you see, I believe true love, is a love that holds people to God's values. A love that doesn't just let our friends, our brothers/sisters slip away into "their own choices", if the choice is made with loving confrontation and loving correction, and still does not honor God's values, well then, the choice is theirs...

But way to often than not I see the opposite. I see people too afraid of rejection, too afraid of confrontation, to talk in love and grace to people about red-flags... those red-flags turn into spiritually killing decisions. If we are going to be known for the love we have for each other, we have got to allow God to work through each other, obey your convictions and your heart when God speak to it. Only blessing and honor and glory can be given to Jesus even if a person makes a decision to walk another path, at least they know the loving truth... and believe me it can be done, and God's name is always given glory, I've been there, scared to death, but I've done it. I've had people still decide, but I've seen people make the right choice as well. The choice is yours.

House cleaning...

Since bringing Emma home our house has kept fairly organized, but it hasn't been vacuumed at all. If there is one thing that makes me feel like the house is dirty, it's non-vacuumed carpet... I can see cat hair everywhere, and when you sit on the ground to play with Emma.... well you get all kinds of hair and other interesting things on your clothes....

So, since the vacuuming is my little part of the house stuff, I guess I'll be doing that before Alexis' mom and sister come in for the weekend. Nothing like a little external motivation.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Verbal vs. Written communication

Sometimes the written form of communication works, especially when emotions or money are invovled. I've had this thing at work bugging me, but due to a lack of face on face time I haven't been able to fully explain the situation to those that need to know. So, instead I wrote an email, I cringed as I wrote it because I usually perfer to talk to people face to face... but it just wasn't going to happen this time.

And you know what? I actually felt really good about, I was able to explain myself, and the best part was I had time to think it out, make it clear, and make my objective points. While sometimes, and maybe in most cases, face to face is better, I do believe at times written communication work best, than a clear line of communication can be opened, and hopefully a face to face conversation will have some good solid ground to work from.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To the 20 or so who read this daily...

According to my feed stats about 20 people are subscribed to this place I call my blog. So for those 20 people I have a question (and hopefully more will answer)...

We are currently in the process of creating our missionary budget, or living and ministry bugets for when we take the plunge and move to Kraków. At the current numbers (preliminary) we have it estimated that we need either 100 people to donate $35 per month or 100 people to donate $26.12 per month (it's just how the math works...) depending on two different support scenarios we've been given by our sending church, which isn't being decided any time soon.

So, with that said. We're beginning to solicit the "for sure" answers, the ones who are fully committed in their hearts (most likely those who really already know us and our mission) to give for as long as we call Poland our home, up to $35 a month. Please don't leave it in the comments section, unless you don't care for others to see it, please email me, or leave a message on Facebook or some other semi-private means of communication. If you don't have that info, leave a comment and I'll send it over to you.

We just want to get a feeling, don't consider this the absolute "yes" just something for us to begin gauging our support base. After this we have the joy of communicating the message to many more people and we could use your prayers that we communicate the need for the Good News in Poland, and the need for training passionate hearted disciples to do the work in their home nation!

Thanks for prayerfully considering!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Living off faith

Sometimes I am in awe of the provision that God entrusts to our lives. I know that we could certainly do better in the area of how we manage our finances, I'm sure we could always invest a bit here, or save a bit there. In fact this month alone I identified $102 of "misc" spending. Nonetheless, I stand amazed at the fact that God has given us so much, that he's figured the numbers ahead of time and knows that we'll be taken care of. He's given us the wisdom to make the right choices and the faith to know that the money isn't ours.

It wasn't long after I began my walk with God that I learned the idea of tithing... it wasn't anything really spoken or asked of me, just something that over the first year I decided that if I was going to put my faith in God and "step by step" follow him, than I needed to put my money where my heart was. There have been a few months where I have neglected this conviction but for the most part I've been faithful to give my gross 10% to my home church right up front, than I do the bills.

About 10 months ago the Lord put on our hearts to give some offerings, above and beyond our tithe to some missionaries... well now that has grown to $90 a month. The past 4 months have been the most we've ever struggled financially, I have had to some very creative budgeting, prayer, and have more faith. We owed more than $500 in taxes, we have a $1000 hospital bill (due to our insurance changing 1 month before Emma's birth, previously we had no co-pay for hospital/maternity stay, than it all changed just before hand, giving us no time to save for it), and back in January/February my hours were cut by 25%, and we're still rebounding from that.

Yet, each pay period bills and needs are met, and God does little adjustments or shows us little ways of making things work. However, we know that this is not the end, we know that as we move forward in our plans to minister in Poland we'll be on the edge more often, so we are thankful for this season, and we are learning more and more what it means to live off of faith, to ask for help, and prayerfully state our needs. It's humbling and also encouraging in a very Jesus kind of way.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting back to me...

Yeah it's about time I've had some "myoptic" time... some time to focus on myself around here, yet let the world in on one person's inner thoughts, thoughts that most people fear to share, and that I have been fearing to share as well.

It's the fear that people who read this may not see the full picture of what I write, they may not know that I am actully quite a graceful and balanced person, but that in the short little paragraphs of my rants I sometimes sound much harsher than I really would be in a true-life situation. The other part of me is afraid of writing about some of the deeper darker things in my life, the thigns I've written about "long ago" that still very much affect me today. Fear that if I am still writing about them I'll be judged or treated differently since I'm still "struggling" all of which I know isn't really true. The fact is that I expierence God more intamatly when I am public about my struggles, yet the enemy has me paralyzed that I'll be either dismissed, judged, and unsupported.

But I know for a fact that if I want to expierence God's power I must confess it before humankind and God.

So now it sounds like I'm leading up to some big confession, I'm not, I'm only confessing that I'm still broken, still need healing, and that I want to have the ability to state that here, so in some reguard this is a confession of my fears, so that it may make the way for greater and more "myoptic" but healthy writing.

Thank you LORD.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jaded and bitter

There is so much talk "out there" on topics such as the emergent church, homosexuality in the church, drinking in the church, how to do church in today's culture, how not to do church in today's culture, and with all of this comes a lot of bitterness, finger pointing, religion, and legalism. I am tired of it, I'm tired of going from one blog to blog, news story to news story, reading about the things people see wrong in the church. Very seldom do I read about the good that the church is doing.

It is easy to be jaded, but much harder to take the higher road and speak the truth of Jesus gracefully and unconditionally. It's easy to see the things we disagree with, with the Christian community, our own church, and our fellow believers. It's much more hard for us to challenge people when we see hypocrisy, well for some it's easy, it's hard to do it in grace and encouragement that Jesus would have (Now leave, and sin no more, the woman at the well).

I believe we are obligated, as disciples, to encourage, with grace, the truth. The key is with grace, we seem to have forgotten what it means to give grace to people. We can not assume people will simply change their behavior, it takes graceful correction, reminding, retraining.

The key is learning to send and receive correction, grace, and to listen to what God puts in our heart for that moment, not simply regurgitate something we have been told.

Update: Ben (in many more words) describes exactly what I'm trying to say, see here...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forward Motion

I'm going to get some forward motion, I am, I am, says I.

I have a number of things in regards to Poland to address, and I would love to get started, but I'm having trouble moving forward. Hopefully I can start things tomorrow once Alexis and I are back on our regular schedule. Polish lessons, mission trip prep, support letter (I'm so tired of asking for money), think of new ways to support ourselves, blog a bit about the tension of missions and being sent and the lack of perceived interest from people. Okay I think that's all for now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lots of pictures of Emma...

Finally did a mass upload, still have more to get from our doula who was with us on Emma's birthday. See the pictures here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just saying hi

Just a little mommy time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Isn't she just cute?

-T

Since this is my blog and my daughter... I say of course.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Recap of the Emma story

Hey so here's the scoop on the whole laboring process.

Alexis was induced on the morning of the 8th (we had to wait due to so many others in the delivery process were in) she was suppose to be induced just after midnight, but instead it didn't happen until 8:00.

Laboring increased pretty normally, and her water broke around 1:30. Labor continued but contractions were not increasing to more than about 1 in 5 or 6 min... not cool when you want labor to progress. So they continued to up the potosin, but contractions just weren't doing much.

As it progressed Emma's heart rate kept dropping during the contractions, but would go back to normal right afterwards.

Alexis was so exhausted, and the delivery wasn't progressing very quickly, and in so much pain she requested an epidural (not what she had planned, but after that amount of time, I don't blame her). The epidural was administered, and it failed... only her left leg became numb (they think it was due to her spinal chord not being fully straight, and the epidural at the wrong point for her). Also, contractions were not getting close enough together for pushing to be effective and all of us were very tired (this is about at hour 20).

At around 3 in the morning, Alexis began to feel the need to push, with the nurse and midwife's instructions she did just that... for about 3 hours she did this and the baby just wasn't progressing.

Finally, after the heart rate dropped a bit too far for their comfort the midwife called in a doctor to assess things, within minutes the room was filled with nearly 15 people, a resuscitation team, a baby care team, a mother care team, plus since it was a shift change, backups for the that.

We had 2 and a half options, 1 vacuum, 1/2 forceps to increase the birth canal and help baby out (but the Dr. didn't like that idea for a few reasons), and the third, if the other two didn't work, emergency C-section... no one liked that.

So w/ the Dr's instructions on the vacuum process he told he had only three tries, and that if the third failed, we would have to go into a c-section.

Emma came out on the third pull! Praise JESUS.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Visitors welcome.

-TVisitors for our local friends are welcome after 4 today. just text me and I'll give you the room number.

Hello World from Emma

Emma Eileen Mielonen April 9th 2008. 6 lbs and 18 inches.

After a long and hard delivery we present Emma Eileen Mielonen. It will be a longer than expected recovery time for Alexis but all is well.

Slow going...

-TIt's been stressful and slow. Our friends had their baby about 5 hours ago. We are still waiting although we expect her in the next 2. Not the easiest birth, so please keep us in your prayers. It's a long story and I'm super tired as soon as we have her and spend our time together pictures and update will follow thanks for the prayers.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stil waiting

Yep now the insanity is hitting us.

-TWe are in the hospital right now. Waiting for some inducing techniques to get going. Andrea and Matt (friends from church) are in a room a few doors down TOO waiting for their son to come! This is all very exciting. Alexis is napping right now. Thanks!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cinderlla, about to enter my life.

I heard this song by Stephen Curtis Chapman this morning...

I can't really describe in words how I was feeling as I drove to work today, my last day before I become a father for the rest of my life. Than this song came on and I lost it... never heard it before... but wow, God's timing is impeccable.



She spins and she sways to whatever song plays,
Without a care in the world.
And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders.
It's been a long day and there's still work to do,
She's pulling at me saying "Dad I need you!
There's a ball at the castle and I've been invited and I need to practice my dancin'"
"Oh please, daddy, please!"

Chorus:
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone.

Verse 2:
She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancin'
"Oh please, daddy , please!"

Chorus:
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew whoa
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone
She will be gone

Verse 3:
But she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowin' and tellin' us all they had planned
She says, "Dad the wedding's still six months away but I need to practice my dancin'
"Oh please, daddy , please!"

Chorus:
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Still waiting for Emma

So, Emma still isn't with us. However, on the 8th we'll be holdering her in our hands, the night of the 7th Alexis is being induced (hopefully w/o the use of Potosin), and at some point on the 8th we'll have Emma with us :P

Just a quickie on that stuff.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Finally a new Poland trip newsletter...

I have finally written a post February trip newsletter, as well as a pre October trip newsletter!

And don't forget, you can always donate via my Chip-in via PayPal on the right!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In repsonse to Marcus... let's go wild.

Marcus got me thinking...
I'm feeling the need to go wild....

Years ago I read John Eldredge's book "Wild at Heart" and it was, at the time, a great read. However I think I need to read it again. I remember a few of the ideas; being free to adventure and including our loved ones, allowing others to love me and allowing myself to love, while all at the same time taking hold of my inner sense of adventure and stepping out into an unknown world.

Gosh, if only I could hold onto those things each day, and remember that everyday is a step in the adventure God has put us. Every major decision we have made has been with our calling to Poland in mind. From the house we live in, to the job I have, to the ministry's we volunteer in. Everything is for the great adventure we know we are stepping into.

But on a day to day basis, work in, work out, the adventure is lost. I have small "revivals" in my heart, times where I search far and long across the Internet at houses and apartments to buy in Kraków, at store-fronts for rent near the city center in hopes of that bookstore or café Alexis and I have talked about, and at times even the adventures of going to Finland (and the other dozen or so nations) with Polish leaders establishing relationships and seeing God bring about similar visions in them as he has in us.

And then.... well it dissipates (to say the least) when the phone in my cubicle rings because someone, oh so important, can't open some attachment in their email.

I strongly believe the job I have is from God, in fact, I know so in my head and in my heart. I know he has me there not just for my own good, but for other's well being as well. This past week was an example of that, in fact March was simply an emergency month, kind of nuts, but good all at once.

I know that when my priorities are met, my relationship with God, with people, and my calling will encourage the adventure to grow in me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Global Warming?

Uh... or global cooling?

Snow in late March... how fun.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The need (okay, desire) to conquer the world!

Okay I'm tired of letting myself down in certain diciplines, lately, for lack of having a study partner, I have been skipping my morning devotions. This isn't good, because at any point in the next two weeks my life is going to change (for the better) when Emma arrives on the scene, and I don't quite know how my schedule is going to work! I have got to stick to the priorities of life, find a way to be self motivated, albeit life is so much easier when you have someone to do it with (morning devotions, working out, being accountable, etc).


Just today I hit that lull in the middle of the work day, and all I wanted to do was go outside and run, bike, hike, something other than sitting in a cube making sure people's servers are running (even the servers get to go running).

I just want to conquer the world, go travel, see places, people, hang out, let the world know I still care, and that there's a savior who still cares too!

I think Mr. Dwight from The Office sums it all up, what do you think eh?

Friday, March 21, 2008

An interesting read...

My buddy Marcus posted about coffee shop community, and I have to say, our society and culture really has lost what the deepest meaning of community is... it's all faux.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

We are all builders in some way.

In some way we are all builders in God's kingdom and we all have some kind of impact on other people's lives therfore we need to pay attention to the relationships in our lives. What exactly are we buildibg in the lives of those around us?

In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Paul says:

But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone's work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone
escaping through a wall of flames.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Testing new phone

I got a new T-mobile wing. This is a test. :))

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In rememberance, the Jews of Kraków

The Jewish survivors of Kraków's ghetto are gathering for the 65th aniversary of the liquidation of the Jewish district of Kraków. This is the city where Alexis and I will serve and live in jew a few years.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Be careful...

So, the last week or so I've been thinking that I'm a bit tired of doing proposals, regular maintenance, etc at work... I realized I actually like doing the "fire fighting" stuff (the emergencies, down servers, etc)... well out of the blue one of our clients loses their server, and everything with, despite the fact that they had redundancy and all of the precautionary things to prevent it.

The funny thing, I'm okay with it, yes it is a little stressful having them breathe down my back (their pretty nice about it though, not talking to the air, yet). I like it, weird eh?

PS... Also take a look at one of my buddy's blog from my small group.

Talking to the air

I think we all know people who "talk to the air" - the kind of people who make comments like "Boy it's hot in here, why isn't the window open?", while these kinds of comments can very well be benign and not mean a thing, many times it should be translated as "I'm hot, can you open the window for me?"

While the example above doesn't have any big consequences other situations do create bad communication and frustration between people. In the example above, I use to either do one of two things, I would either open the window for the person without asking others, or I would ignore the person (since he/she wasn't exactly talking to me anyway) because I didn't care for the window to be opened.

The problem this creates is that someone will not be heard, either the asking person (when ignored) or others... Now when I hear something like that I either ask "Are you hot, do you want the window open?" which allows the person to directly ask what he/she wants to me and others around, or I ask "So, what you are saying is that you are hot and want the window open?" These responses allow full communication.

While the examples are a bit lame, I think the point comes across, full communication is much more healthy and creates a safe enviornment for people to share and fellowship, rather than speaking in codes and adjusting to people's fears.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A tour of Emma's room!

Earlier today Alexis and I created this video of Emma's soon-to-be room. Have fun :P


Sending and recieving... TX/RX

So God has put on my heart lately a lot about sending and receiving... messages that we hear and say to one another. I know that for most of my life I have filtered the things people say through the experiences of my past. I also know that when I say things to people I expect them to understand the message in the same way I would. Again when I send a message it's being done through my life filter.

Over this next week I'll be building a sermon on the importance of being aware of how others receive your messages and how to send messages in an effect way. I figured this is a good place to process since the written word can be much more thought out.

Get the message?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Post Trip review

Pretty much I summed up my trip in my post called "well". But a few afterthoughts have made their way to my head. The first real bit one hit me last night at church, we had a special children's service called "The shared family experience", during the worship time I cried a few tears because I realized that the joy of God and all his goodness was truly understood in these children, and that Alexis and I will be raising our child away from such an amazing ministry. We trust that God himself will be with Emma and that such a ministry is absolutely possible in Poland, it's just that we have an amazing church here and leaving will be just that much harder now.

I uploaded new pictures to facebook (the albums are public), see part 1 and part 2.

That's all for now! (my birthday is tomorrow, here's my wish list).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Home

Well we made it home.

I have lot to say, but I'm at work, and my pictures are on the camera, as soon as I have time at home I'll give a big update on the "little trip that could."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On our way to chicago.

We are ready for Chicago.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Going home.

The view from our room.

This is our last night here I'm sad because I have made some new friends that I want to know better but I know that Alexis and will see them again in October. Praise Jesus for everything it was a short but significant trip.

At the retreat.

Prayer time and devotion.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Retreat time

Well we're off to the retreat, won't be writing much here, I'll do some mobile picture posting, otherwise the next time I write here may not be until Tuesday when we're back home. Thanks for everything! Check back for picture updates. I uploaded some pictures from this trip on my facebook, click here to see. They're not the best shots as I was walking and sometimes running at the same time, most of them are in Kraków, the first few are in Zakopane.

Connections

Yesterday Jordan and I had the privileged to meet a Polish Pastor in Kraków and we had a great conversation. We talked about Polish culture, the church, the catholic connection, the protestant connection, and how it has all looked historically. I was so pleased to speak with someone who is genuinely interested in dicipling his people, who understands relationships being key to reaching people, who listens without giving "ideas" about everything. It was a very pleasing conversation that gave me hope that we have connections in Kraków that are not only in the same book, but on the same page as us and share similar values. The greatest thing was his support of the minstry Alexis and I seek to do in Kraków, to simply create friendships, and be able to sit down with our Bibles in cafe's and homes and grow in Christ's character and power. Ephesians 4 is our calling, and there is a receptive community in Kraków for it, praise Jesus.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bible study

At a small group.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Well...

This has been one of the more interesting trips I've made, and quite an introduction for Jordan to missions and Poland. All of our flights went well, no trouble there, except for checking in in Portland (stupid "easy checkin" wasn't so easy because it couldn't process my passport for our international segments) and we had to wait over 20 min to get help. After the check in was complete everything was fine, we made it to Krakow with out any trouble, all our bags, everything was good.

We stayed in Krakow until about 9pm local time and ran a few errands with Denise, ate at KFC and gave Jordan a quick low-down on ministry, poland, and the week ahead.

Our first full day (Monday) was full of moving everything from the apartment the church here has been renting to Denise's house (about 30 min away). This made for a long day, of multiple trips in her car, she stayed at her place cleaning while we drove back and fourth with all the stuff. On the last trip of the night we loaded up a desk and a table on top of the car and attached it to the rack.

We got a bit over half-way to Denise's house and KABOOM.... something fell off... but it didn't fall all the way off. After we finally reached a good place to pull over (about 1/2 a mile of dragging) we realized that the table had fallen partially off and we had dragged it, one of hte bungee chords we had used to hold it on had snapped. Not only did the table fall off, it busted the passenger side far rear window (not the door window but the one behind it) and at the same time gave a few scratches to the car. To this moment we don't quite get how this all happened, especially the angle at which the table fell, it seems it woudl've taken out the passenger side-view mirror instead. Anyway it's about $190 to repair it... ouch.

So today, I got the pleasure of going to the car dearler and figuring out how to make an appointment, find out the cost, and do all of this in Polish... yay me. Thankfully there was a guy who spoke English and understood my broken Polish when English wasn't working. It was a little challenging but a good one.

Tonight I'm meeting with my old roommate from 2003/2004 who I lived with here in Poland, he's now married and has a daughter as well, so I'm very excited to see them and have a good conversation. This is really what I thrive to do, serving physically is all great, but the relationships, the connections, and the truth that God brings out in all of it is amazing. So with the moving piece behind us (we have one last trip tomorrow, and we did one load today) and the retreat coming up, I'm excited to see Jesus in all of it.

Keep us in your prayers, the broken window I believe is a blessing in disguise for something, not sure what yet... but it will be good. The weather is yucky, it's pretty much hanging around 32-35 making for a nice slushy mess.

Thanks for your prayers, support, and interest in all of this... I'll have more pictures up soon, looks like I'll have time tomorrow to upload some good ones.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Salting the pathway.

A take on being the salt of the earth.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waiting for Denise to pick up up.

Ok we're in Krakòw all is well. But we are tired for sure. Denise is on her way to pick up up. But is stuck in traffic. whoop. We would have taken the bus to her place but she insisted. More to come later.

Next stop Krakòw.

We are tired, and to think it's just getting started!

In Munich. Krakòw next.

Just two more hours and we'll be leaving for Krakòw amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bye bye USA

On board and very full. Got a call from Isaac H and got a little pre trip prayer. Blessings to all! Thanks to everyone who made it possible! Give glory where glory is due.

In DC

Almost ready to get on the next plane to Germany. Than we are onto Poland!

Ready for take off.

Meet Jordan.

Ready to go.

Here we are at Portland airport ready to go through gate E4. United flight 250. See you there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Living in, with, and around sin

With sin all around us, and many times living inside of us, it can be quite daunting to be motivated. Just a random thought... as I am struggling to love, encourage, and speak graceful truth to myself and friends.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Practical stuff

I have a lot to say about a lot of different things.

But it seems the practical stuff, is what people like to read... although to me it's all practical and life applicable... huh... just thinking "out loud", wondering what the next direction for blogging is...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Windows Vista

I am a daily user of Windows Vista, both at home and at work. Yes it's true, and I'm not ashamed. I have had very few problems, except for our home Media Center (due to me being a bit over zealous with some things and breaking the program guide and Media Center's ability to download information for some reason, requiring a re-install, but I'm better off anyway because I did a clean install this time).

You see, I love using the newest stuff, even in beta. I'm a power user, and I just like new stuff. I'm also a purist, I use essentially just Microsoft Software (office 2007, IE7, etc) and google for all online stuff, of course theres a random program made by random, inc. I essentially remove anything I don't use. I don't download random things I don't need simply because they may be "cool". I have free virus protection that runs a scan each night, and that's it, I hate virus scans that are "on" all the time. Most of all I practice safe internet browsing.

Guess what? Everything works, all my hardware and software. Granted it's all new, but both of these computers had XP originally, and they both run perfectly well. Just a little blurb on Vista, because I think it deserves a good look by the "MS haters".

I love it, of course I see past the visual elements, but at the same time, things under the hood make it quite cool. For example when I did a fresh install on my Media Center computer, at first my dual HD tuner didn't quite work right (it detected only one tuner), after about five minutes a little pop-up said "Windows has found a solution to a problem" I clicked on it, and amazingly it realized that there was a new driver, it installed, and all is well. Anyway, I know this won't convert anyone, but I just wanted to be on a soap box for a moment because I like it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Our jaded generation

Sometimes I struggle with the general cynical and jaded attitude of my peers. I'm really grieved by other Jesus followers who look at life as if the glass if half empty. But it goes deeper than that, many times my generation hangs onto the seams of life with just the logical, western mind-set that we have to climb the proverbial ladder of success before we even be in authority over anything. Not that we desire authority, but for most authority for some reason is how they view their confidence and relation to the rest of the world.

The truth is, we have been given all authority, to do even greater things than Jesus did. Yet we let the world system tell us we don't, we need this paper, and that paper, and X years of experience. Bump that, bump it all, we need to realize what we are called to, seek wisdom from those that have gone there before, learn from them and experience it for ourselves!

If you know that you are called (and all followers are called) then step into it. Of course you'll make mistakes, that's why we have mentors (Timothy and Paul), that's why we week wisdom, and that's why we submit ourselves to grace-filled truth tellers (or as I said the other day, butt holes for Jesus) - people who we have given permission to point out the boogers in our lives and the blind spots so we can have more confidence and authority to speak Jesus' gospel.

I was called to be a pastor over four years ago, this created a fear in me because I had never thought about it before and I've always been afraid of rejection. But now, even though I'm not "ordained" or "licensed", I am doing pastoral kinds of things, such as mentoring, being relational with others, and allowing God's voice to be heard and his flock cared for.

PS check out this new blog I found, fits the topic of this post quite well, none the less, I love what he has to say - it's grace filled truth at its finest!

Countdown to trip number 5

On the 16th I and a friend leave for Poland on my 5th trip and his 1st trip back to Poland! This will be one of my shortest trips, but I hope for it to be quite strategic as well. Alexis (encourage her to post some more on her blog) wants to go so badly, and in November we'll be going as a family, so that is quite exciting!

Right now the snow in the southern part of Poland is not unlike being in the cascade mountain resorts. Although avalanches and those kinds of things seem to be more rare, mostly because it's much drier which I think makes it more stable, the weather here in the Northwest can be so unpredictible and change from wet to dry and cold and warm so quickly that avalanche risks are high.

The one thing that I am most excited about is talking with my buddy Chris (Angelized form of his name), he and his wife had a baby last July, so we have a lot to share, plus the Lord has really been brining us together in vision and hope. In fact, I need to email him right now and get a few times to meet on the schedule.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Food for thought...

Now this is interesting...

I haven't quite wrapped my head completly around it, but on the surface this makes sense... of course it opens the door for things which are not a part of God's plan for our lives... and at the same time, we simply can't regulate morality, but we must speak the truth anyway... what a conumdrum.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What freedom and forgiveness ARE NOT

For my generation, especially those that have grown up in the church, or been in it long enough to be jaded by the humanity of it (the imperfect, hypocrites that fill the church) of which they themselves fall into, the idea of “freedom in Christ” has turned into a poison that means “I’ll do what I want, and I know God will forgive me”.

Of course there is scripture that directly rebuttals this, I forget exactly where, but I know Paul does write about the “abuse of God’s grace” – getting drunk, and knowing that you will, and not caring, because “God forgives” is an abuse of grace. God isn’t going to forgive a person for something unless there is a truly repentant heart, unless he or she is convicted in their heart and mind that they will change their behavior, but most of all the heart behind it, that they’ll change their heart response.
Yes we have freedom in Christ, freedom to choose his straight path, and freedom to go off of the path.

We have freedom to do just about anything as long as it doesn’t dishonor God. Yes he forgives, but if we choose to do something dishonoring, knowing that it is, and with the dangerous attitude of “he’ll forgive me” then we have a lot of scary things to come. This is pride at its best, and at worst it’s blatantly defiant to the God of the universe, whose forgiveness is NOT free, and whose forgiveness DOES have one condition, of a repentant heart that is willing to humble itself.

We have the church, in all its crap, all its humanity, and in all its beauty, it is here to help us see what we cannot. I’m sorry it’s hurt so much, I’m sorry I’ve hurt so much, but at the heart of it, there is love.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Got sick?

Yep, I have got sick...

The first sickness in well over a year, possibly two... and it's nasty. Cold sweats, hot flashes, headaches, coughing, and all over muscle pain... not so fun.

Been this way since Wednesday, had a breakthrough on Thursday night where I felt normal after asking for some prayer, but I think God wants me to simply have some rest. And that I am... I've been in bed more than I've been out of bed... Rest is good... A little extra strength Tylenol and at least the aches and pains are gone... and I am a staunch "I don't take medicine" kind of person... but I needed relief.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Birthday Wish List

Okay so here is Travis' official 26th birthday wish list!

1. Money - You can PayPal me :P
2. Brian McLaren's "Everything Must Change"
3. Brendon DuBois' "Twilight"
4. Donations for Poland (see the side bar)
5. Update 1/25/08 as my bride pointed out I also want a digital photo frame, not a huge one, just one to go on my desk so I can enjoy my bride, family, and friends.
6. A Thousand Splendid Suns

Dangerous Territory

I know I'm in dangerous territory when I'm feeling discontent. Sometimes discontent is a sign of moving forward, desiring more from life or a person. But I know that in my current scenario, it is not that... I know my direction, I know where I'm headed, I'm just being impatient.

I'm tired of the IT world, I know there are many opportunities to see people and "be a light" in many different places, but my heart is for discipleship. I know that at any point in time the Holy Spirit could guide me to bring people to Him and he could use me for evangelism and I also know that my gift, my "sweet spot" you could say, is for seeing people grow to new understandings and depths in who they are with and in Christ.

I hate offending people, and I hate the awkward pause or looks when people realize that I'm a "church goer"... but I just gotta be me. Most of all I know that Jesus offended people, I'm okay with offending people with His truth... but I refuse to offend people in the name of a "church" or "organization" that calls itself a house of Jesus followers when really all they are doing is shaming people rather than setting them free with God's grace and truth.

So I'm discontent because computers are 1. Not very responsive to God's truth 2. Certainly don't understand grace and 3. Are not very open to discipleship.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How to stay steady...

HA! I have no idea. Everyday is a new day, and each day brings its ups and downs. But, I choose to remain dependent on God and inter-dependent on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I choose to allow my bride to love me, nurture me, and be my helper, and I choose to be vulnerable with her through my ups and downs, and her ups and downs.

For when I fail any of the above, the downs are never padded and feel like I've fallen hard onto concrete and ups take me way out into an orbit beyond Pluto. Neither of which is very healthy.

So I'll stand and remain balanced holding onto what God has shown me, told me, and provided. I'm here to serve, love, and be loved.

and oh yeah, keep it sweetly simple (new version of KISS).

The drive into work.

These pictures don't give any justice to the glory I witnessed this morning. But believe me it was great.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Am I a jack or do I just feel like one?

As I have grown up, moved out, moved on, and moved away from home I have always had a lurking voice and feeling that I'm "just a jack of all trades, and a master of nothing".

There are certainly some things that I'm close to a master, my career for one, but even in that I sometimes feel stupid for not knowing things at times - but that's all of us in this field of I.T., there is just too much to know, it's better to be specialized.

So, with a baby on the way, there's just one more thing to try to measure up to "good dad". Now I "know" that I don't have to measure up to anything, and I know my wife will think I'm just being hard on myself (which again, I "know" I am) and at the same time I am keenly aware of areas that I need to work on. I know that in God's eyes, it only takes effort for him to call us "good and faithful servant". This is what I need to focus on... another step by step moment.