everything’s up to date in …

Kansas City!  I just couldn’t resist using some lyrics from the musical Oklahoma!  It’s pretty much impossible for me to even say the words “Kansas City” without that song jumping into my head.  Oh well.  This post has nothing to do with musicals.  But I am trying to keep you up to date with our lives, and it is about Kansas City.

Brent and I went to the M15 Conference, which is a ministry conference put on by the Church of the Nazarene.  It happens every four years and it takes place in, you guessed it, Kansas City.  I had never been before and Brent had been once about 16 years ago.  There were big general sessions (and when I say big, I mean about 3,500 people) with worship and preaching.  There were topical breakout sessions.  And, most of all, there was a lot of talking!  Talking with old friends, talking with new friends.  Talking with people we met for the first time.  And talking with friends from college, friends from our days in Dallas, in Minnesota, in Oregon, even Vancouver, WA.  When you run into all of these people, there is a lot of catching up to do!  Of course most people, including us, don’t live in the same place anymore.  That’s one of the realities of ministry life.  Whenever we ran into someone that we knew, one of the first questions we ask each other is always, “So where are you now?”  The truth is that Brent already knows the answer most of the time because of Facebook, but I’m not a Facebooker, so it was fun for me to find out where all these people are living now.

Brent taught a few breakout sessions during the week.  One was on having a process of discipleship, a few on redefining church to culture, and a few on relating marketing strategies to your church.  This last one was co-taught with our friend from Dallas days, Greg Hall.  Of course, they don’t live there anymore.  And their not even in ministry, at least not vocationally.  He and his wife, Frisa, came up from Arkansas to do the sessions with Brent.  Greg talked about marketing and Brent talked about applying it to church.  It was pretty cool, but honestly, I was just glad to have it as an excuse to reconnect with our friends and learn about what’s going on in their lives.

Maybe we’ll go back in another four years.  Or another 16 years, you never know.  When we do go back, you know there will be a lot of talking!

One of the general sessions:

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One of Brent’s breakout sessions (this pic doesn’t include all the people standing in the back):

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Some friends we saw, old and new:

The Hartleys: we know them from Vancouver, WA.  They’re in Alaska now.

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Some new friends:  I’m pretty sure all of these guys live in different places throughout Texas (for now).

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The darling Frisa Hall:

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The Halls and the Hofens:

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And now you’re all up to date about Kansas City!

my culinary tour of Texas

Last week, I accompanied Brent to Texas for a pastor’s conference.  We spent the whole week in the Dallas area.  If you know anything about Dallas then you know that it has an extraordinary amount of shopping and restaurants (especially the restaurants).  No exaggeration, there are restaurants everywhere!  So when Brent was in meetings and coaching sessions, I had a lot opportunity to visit some of those restaurants.  I know, I know!  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.  And last week, that someone was me!

The first evening was a big group gathering at The Rustic.  It has the biggest backyard of any restaurant in the downtown area.  We arrived early in the evening, but it was pretty late by the time we left.  It’s kind of funny that when you’re in a major city, you have to plan your outings based on how you want to avoid rush hour traffic.  There was a lot of yummy barbecue, a lot of music, and a big screen to watch the Monday Night Football game.  The culinary tour had a begun.

in the day

in the day

in the night

in the night

 

Another one-of-a-kind, first-time-ever place that I was able to visit with some of my new fellow-pastor’s-wife friends, was The Bin in Rockwall.  Caesar salad, a beef slider, and fries (half regular, half sweet potato) made a perfect lunch.  I love going to a restaurant that is a totally new experience for me.

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On the other hand, I must admit that I was most excited about some “throwback” places that I haven’t been to in a very long time.  As some of you know, we lived in the Dallas area when we were first married.  We left there when Emma, who is now 13, was just one year old.  So, needless to say, it’s been awhile.  And when I had the chance to revisit some old favorites, I was definitely a happy camper!

One of those “once upon a time” places was la Madeleine.  It’s cute and cozy and Frenchy and they still have my favorite tomato-basil soup of all time.  Thank goodness there are some things that don’t change!  If I could get away with it, I could probably eat la Madeleine food every day of my life.  It just never gets old.

the spread

the spread

Another stop we made was a place that’s not fancy or expensive, but Brent loves their sandwiches and we can’t get it here at home.  So we made sure not to neglect the chance to have some Chick-fil-A.  And they didn’t disappoint!  How can you go wrong with a high quality chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and a drink that even comes with a bendy straw?

I think all those funny cows in the Chick-fil-A commercials would approve.

I think all those funny cows in the Chick-fil-A commercials would approve.

On the last night of Brent’s conference, it was time for another group gathering.  Everybody came to our host’s home for a night of fellowship and funny stories.  To feed everybody, they brought in a pizza oven food truck.  How cool and creative is that?  Good food and good people made for a great night.

The mobile restaurant set up in the street

The mobile restaurant set up in the street

Boards waiting to bring in some piping hot pizza

Boards waiting to bring in some piping hot pizza

The fire in the oven, where all the magic happens

The fire in the oven, where all the magic happens

There were a lot of other places where we ate during the trip, but honestly, after awhile I just stopped taking pictures of them.  At the end of a whole week of eating out, I was starting to get restaurant weary.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for it all, but I just don’t think I could do it all day every day (unless it was la Madeleine, and then I think I could definitely do it!).

 

ride along

Brent has done a whole bunch of traveling this summer here, there, and everywhere.  I’m glad that he gets to share some of his church planting knowledge with other pastors.  I mean, if I was pastoring a church, I would want to hear him speak, that’s for sure.  But after all that time out of town, there comes a point where I say, “OK, that’s enough for now.”  And at this time in the summer, we have reached that point.  And Brent, thank goodness, never argues about it.  So when it was time for Brent to have some out-of-town meetings (again!), I just said, “Ok.  But I’m coming along.”  And so I did.  Simple as that.  

Last week’s trip was a church development day in Salem that the whole church staff attended.  Well, the church staff plus me.  Then this week there was a church planting meeting, again in Salem, and a visit with some friends in Portland who are thinking about starting a church.  This time it was Brent . . . and the wife and kids!  Family road trip!  Doesn’t everybody take ride alongs with their Dad when he goes out of town?  This is how Brent and I see it: our kids share their dad with the rest of world a lot.  I would say, more than you’re average kid.  So we feel like it’s important that they have times when they absolutely don’t have share.  And if that means there are impromptu road trips, then we’re doing it!

On another note, we had a great time with our friends, Steve and Pam, in Portland.  They have such a burden for their neighborhood.  They know every street, every nook, every cranny.  We’re excited to see what God has in store for them in the coming days.  Plus their just fun to be with.  We loved walking around the city with them, taking in some good food and shopping, and dreaming about what God would have them do there.   

  Happy road-tripping!

The kids with Pam.

The kids with Pam.

Some shopping fun.  Lauren is trying to photobomb this shot.

Some shopping fun. Lauren is trying to photobomb this shot.

having church in a snowstorm- part 2

Well, we made it!  The online campus of Mission Church has been successfully launched!  Whew!  After a long night of post-production (something having to do with videos and seams and downloads), we got a little bit of sleep before the sun rose Sunday morning.  We all stayed in our pajamas, ate a little bit of breakfast, and nervously waited for church to start.  Brent got the computer all ready and we just watched the countdown on the screen and prayed like crazy that everything would work.

Then, lo and behold, it worked!  Woo hoo!  There were a few little delay bumps here and there, but it was still a great success.  The songs could be heard, the lyrics could be read, the announcement videos played, and the sermon was great (as always, in my completely biased opinion).  All the rest of the bells and whistles passed the test, too.  There were chats, and prayers, and responses, and sermon notes, and communication cards, and an offering.

My favorite part was singing along to the worship team with the kids and parents all snuggled on the couch.  I also liked reading some of the comments from our online hosts.  I thought they did a great job of moderating the whole event.  Brent showed me a lot of comments on Facebook about attending online.  People seemed to be excited about this new project.  It will be fascinating to see what God has in mind for it.

the snow on Friday morning

the snow on Friday morning

The snow on Saturday morning, can you see the difference?

The snow on Saturday morning, can you see the difference?

ready for some church!

ready for some church!

the supplies are ready: a notepad and some hot tea

the supplies are ready: a notepad and some hot tea

up and running

up and running

a mom and her boy

a mom and her boy

sermon notes

sermon notes

Now this weekend we get to see how it all works when we don’t have the entire church family watching from home (including the staff and leaders).  We’re making it one step at a time.  Some steps seem bigger than others, but we just keep stepping in the direction that God is leading along the path that he has created for us.

pastor perks

One of the best perks about being in the ministry is getting to be with people at some the most important days of their lives.  This weekend, Brent had the privilege of officiating a wedding for a sweet couple from our church.  One of the coolest things about the ceremony was that they were surrounded by their regular families and their Jesus family.  There was a lot of love going around!

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Places everyone!

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Don’t forget to take care of the paperwork.

going to church while we’re on vacation

Each weekend of this trip so far, we have been privileged to worship with a different local church. It’s fun for us to experience a new group of people, a new location, new musicians, and a new preacher. Even though each place is different, they all worship the same Jesus!
You might be wondering why we would even take the time to attend church services while we’re on a vacation. Aren’t we supposed to be taking a break from church? Isn’t that the whole point of this sabbatical? God doesn’t really care what we do on our vacation anyway, right?
We have two very big reasons for attending church every weekend:
#1: The church is global. Some people call it the “universal church” and we are a part of it because we belong to Christ. We are taking a planned break from our specific local church responsibilities, but we never take a break from being members of the family of God. We have been encouraged and challenged each week in every local church we have visited. If we ever did not want to be challenged, that probably means we need it all the more.
#2: Our children are watching us. Visiting a different church when we’re out of town gives us a great opportunity to teach our children about the priority of church, no matter the location. We don’t want our kids to grow up thinking that they only go to church if their dad is the preacher, or they know everybody in the congregation, or the music is catered to their personal taste. And we want to model for them how to set aside the time to go to church, even if we’re not home.
So far, we’ve been to a traditional sanctuary (Hopeton, OK), a remodeled very old church (St. Louis, MO), an old city theater (Wash. D.C), and an online church (lifechurch.tv). Each congregation was unique and wonderful. But most importantly, each was following Christ and trying to be his instrument in their city.
I wonder where we’ll get to go to church next weekend!

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road trip #1

Tis the season for road trips.  We’ve done a few and we have a few more to go.  The first one was a week ago when Brent, Emma, and I (with a few other friends from church) attended the Oregon Pacific District Church of the Nazarene 2013 District Assembly.  Do you think the name is long enough?  Basically, it means that we had some annual church meetings.  It’s always great to catch up with fellow pastor people from around Oregon and encourage each other learn together.  This year’s meetings took place at The Church on the Hill in McMinnville, OR.  They do an amazing job of hosting the event.  They go out of their way to make you feel welcome.  The town itself is pretty fun (we were there just before the UFO convention was starting) and the Willamette Valley scenery is beautiful.  Whenever we go out of town, we like to see if we can find some unique places to eat.  Chain restaurants are for traveling on the freeway.  But if you’re in town, it’s time to explore the culinary scene!  So we were pleased to find a couple of places that had a great personality and some delicious food.  The first was Ribslayer BBQ.  How can you pass up a place with a name like that?  They had a huge custom smoker in the parking lot in the shape of a train engine.  And the second was Al’s, a hamburger joint that actually had a separate room for the pet monkey.  (That is not a typo.  They really had a pet monkey.)  It was a quick two day trip.  We got back into town just in time to get ready for the next trip.  More to come!

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sermon video

At church we are in the middle of a series about relationships.  Last week was about the marriage relationship so Brent and I did this one together.  I was a little nervous about  doing it.  I wasn’t nervous about the content at all.  I firmly believe in what we were sharing.  But I was nervous about the presentation.  Fortunately, Brent kept it casual and comfortable for me.  We approached it as a team, and having him there with me made me feel secure and at ease about the whole thing.

It’s funny watching yourself speak on a video.  I noticed once again how my volume level and Brent’s volume level are not the same.  This is true not only on the platform at church but also in every day life.  It’s probably one of the ways where we give each other balance.    Another observation was the giggling.  I heard myself laughing and enjoying things that  Brent was saying.  Again, this happens in real life, too.

We probably could have come up with another month’s worth of sermons about this topic. There is so much to say and marriages are worth the investment.  Strong marriages make strong families.  And the influence of strong families is almost beyond measure, whether that family has no kids or a bus full of kids.

I’m glad that Brent and I were able to do this together.  Our church family gave a lot of great feedback about the message.  We hope that it’s a blessing to you, too.  By the way, happy Valentine’s Day!

02-10-13 Relationships from Mission Church on Vimeo.

a busy week

This last week was a whirlwind!  But it was a good whirlwind.  After Monday’s homeschool coop where the kids gave a presentation on medieval cathedrals, we packed up for some travels.  The munchkins stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Robinson while Brent and I went to a Ministers and Mates retreat in beautiful Silverton, OR.  We had a great time that was encouraging and challenging.  Plus it’s a chance to catch up with some of our colleagues from around the state.

hiking during the retreat

We were back in town by Thursday, just in time to get ready for our 6th annual Fall Festival.  This has been an event in the life of our church that has given new families a chance to get to know our people in a relaxed atmosphere and help them open up to the possibility of coming to our church.  Plus it’s just a whole lot of fun!

Bullriding- YeeHaw!

my friend’s creative face painting

What a beauty!

taking a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch

Nothing warms a pastor’s heart like a full parking lot. Just kidding, sort of!

We had wonderful services this weekend.  Brent started a new sermon series about surrender.  Who doesn’t need to hear that?  I know I do.  And then tonight, an amazing family in our church got a jump start on October Pastor Appreciation Month.  They arrived at our doorstep with a ready-made meal, including homemade meatballs and zucchini-pineapple bread.  Yum!

fills the tummy and warms the heart

After this week, we’re just trying to catch our breath and look forward to October.  We’ll probably get to start it off with a delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at church this weekend

When you’re married to the pastor, the weekends can sometimes take on a life of their own.  But it’s always full of learning, good fellowship, and fun.  I snapped a few photos of this past weekend.

After a long hot day, it’s so hard to stay awake in church! This is Blake during the Saturday evening service. Another parent even said to his son, “Be still like Blake.” But that was before he realized the he was sleeping!

Despite the sleepyheads (Lauren fell asleep, too), the message at church was great.  Brent was finishing up a sermon series about different worldviews.  It coincides really well with the Olympics.  This week we were learning about a few cults that started here in the U.S.  Some of them might have even knocked on your door recently.  You never know.  It was helpful to understand their beginnings and where we disagree on essential doctrine, especially about Jesus.

I helped in children’s church during the second Sunday service. We were creating a graphic novel of the life of Joseph from Genesis. You can see that Blake and the boys in front are making a coat of many colors.

Then in the evening we had an all-church picnic.  So fun!  We talked, we ate, we laughed, we played.  And we were reminded how much we love being a part of the family of God.  Here are some us trying to get arranged for a group picture.  You’ve got to love controlled chaos!

Everybody say cheese!

I know that for some families, the weekends are all about sports, or all about recreation, or even about projects around the house.  We certainly enjoy all of those things, too.  But in our family, the weekends are all about church.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.