Friday, March 14, 2008

Nature Hikes

Ah, the silly hats we subject our daughter to...oh well, she loves it!

The past few weeks we've been trying to spend more time outdoors as a family, and Vi loves it. Last night we took a little after-dinner stroll, partly for exercise, and partly because the evening air is good for Vi's breathing because she's getting over a bout with croup. It was the perfect evening. Everyone on High St. was out walking, shopping, and eating. We went up to a local ice cream place that carries tons of unique flavors. Nick actually had ice cream that was bourbon-flavored, and I got cheesecake/brownie/blondie ( I didn't get anything too weird since I was sharing with Viola!) We had such a sweet time hanging out. When we got back, Viola wanted to be outside longer so she scampered around the yard until it got too dark to be out. She usually really protests coming inside, but she actually came in without a fight.

It's sort of ironic that now that we're in the most urban setting we've ever been in, we can spend time outside more easily, especially with Viola. Our first house in Louisville was on a busy street with no sidewalks, and we had a great yard, but it wasn't fenced in. Then when we moved to the farmhouse and Vi was of crawling/early walking age, the property had a slight snake infestation (copperheads and rat snakes) due to construction, so we didn't hang outside too much, and again, no sidewalks. After that we moved in with friends with a great yard but who decided to raise some urban chickens who pooed on everything, rendering the yard unfit for Viola to play in. So here we are now, with a quaint little fenced yard, in a neighborhood with sidewalks and just blocks from the park. We love it!

Being outside more has made me think of my love for the plant and growth imagery in the Bible. Scripture that describes our spiritual lives using plants or trees always resonates with me because it simply makes sense. I've been studying John 15, and I love how it begins with the "vine" imagery. Christ in the true vine, and the Father is the vinedresser. We are the branches, by nature barren and dry, and we need to be grafted into Christ to draw from His power and life. The more we abide in Christ, the more we bear fruit and bring glory to God. We essentially feed off of Christ and receive nourishment from Him--He's our sunlight, our water, our soil, our everything. When we don't abide in Him we become limp and wither. Ah, John 15 is such an accurate and easy-to-understand picture of the Christian life.

What's also interesting is how being married to Nick has increased my love for the outdoors. He is the ultimate backpacking and outdoor adventurer who stoops down to my level of adventure to go on walks in the neighborhood :) It's funny how I grew up on a farm but had little appreciation for the outdoors, and now I live in the city and love to be outside. It makes absolutely no sense.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hodge Podge

It's been a long time since I've posted so here's a bit of a hodge podge about what I've been doing, what I'm learning, etc.

First of all, we're still loving being here in Columbus, although I'm looking forward to spring when more people are out and about and we can go on walks together. The fabulous thing about where we live is that we're close to so much we can walk in the winter too because it's just two blocks to the cafe, a block to the dentist, three blocks to Donato's Pizza ( a great benefit!), and so on.

The church plant...hmmm, well church planting is an adventure. It's one thing to read about it being one and another to experience it first hand. But let me be clear, we do not regret our decision to church plant and we are here for the long haul (Lord-willing of course!) One of the things we've been discouraged by is how resistant some believers are toward church planting. It's partially not their fault. It's something they've never done, they don't know much about it, and so it's scary to them. That makes sense. But ignorance is not bliss! Read up, my friends, and see how the Lord is using church planting across the world in AMAZING ways! Anyway, Nick and I wrote a blog in response to the negative feelings many have toward church planting, and it's posted on our church's website if you want to check it out.

One of the hard things about living in a low-kid population area is that poor Viola currently has few playmates. It's really sad. We find ourselves taking her to the play place at the mall just to interact with some other kiddos. This is also an area we need prayer in, for both us and Viola, that we would meet some more families with kids somehow. So far my attempts to find a playgroup nearby have failed, so that has been discouraging. But alas, the Lord is good and I know He'll provide in this area in His perfect timing.

Speaking of sweet Viola, she's just amazing. Despite having few playmates now, when she is around other kids, she plays really well and is really sweet, patient and aware of those around her. She does amazing things every day. We discovered the other day she can count to 5, and this is something we haven't directly been trying to teach her. She's also solidifying her recognition of colors, and she about has red, blue, yellow, and green down pat, thanks to Playdoh. Another way she's surprised us is that she's catching on to potty training and has used the potty about ten times or so. How cool is that?! She's great, not just because she's a genius (sorry I'm in beaming, bragging mama mode!) but she's also so playful,ornery, and affectionate too. One of her favorite things to do now is "feed" her little sister (who's in utero) crackers and give her water and milk to drink by holding these things up to my ever-bulging tum.

One of the awesome things Viola's also doing now is she's taking super-long naps which means I get to be more productive than normal, which is why I got to write this blog. So there's my hodge podge. I think next time I'll be writing about prayer because the Lord's been teaching Nick and I a lot about it through planting the church.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vi, A Big Sister

Viola is going to be a big sister, Lord willing, around the end of May! Today was so sweet because it was the first day she really grasped this fact. We've been pointing to my belly for weeks and telling her there was a baby inside. I recall one time when we were in Louisville at a friend's, I pointed to Sarah's belly (an 8 month pregnant belly) and said "Baby" and my own and said "Baby." She repeated and seemed to understand, until she pointed to Kristin's boob and said "Baby!" That's when I had to admit, reluctantly, that she didn't get it yet.

But today, she repeatedly asked to "see" the baby, lifting up my shirt to see my swelling belly. She would then say "baby" so sweetly, hug my belly, and then give it a big, wet, sloppy kiss! It was SO cute. I think just seeing her love for her unborn sibling makes me cherish both her and the baby even more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lessons in Place

Viola in Front of my Parents' Farmhouse

Home!  I can't believe we're back in Ohio.  There is something satisfyingly haunting about this place.  I can resonate with Karin of Over the Rhine singing in her smoky, lingering voice, "I know the back of my hand."  In my mind, there is an internal conflict concerning being so close to places and people I'm familiar with.  I remember the excitement of moving to Louisville, a place where I could go away from it all, and rediscover the Lord and myself.  There, I could get a fresh start, I thought.  But it was there that I learned both the importance and unimportance of place.  

I learned from the Lord, that no matter where I am, He is also.  Simple enough on the surface, but I learned that moving away physically did not move me away from my past figuratively, but that God gave me the past I have to mold me for His glory.  I also learned there is little value in reinventing myself if my transformation is not focused on inward transformation foremost, specifically gospel transformation.  In these things, physical place is of little importance.

However, in Louisville, I encountered many Louisvillians who are proud of the physical place they're from.  They found value in their roots and loved being integrated into the rich culture that described their home city.  I remember people being excited when I told them I grew up on a beef farm and how I found that perplexing!  I didn't know that was cool.  Through fellowship with other women, I engaged in many conversations about how our families celebrated holidays, how our parents disciplined us, and the depth of our relationships with our siblings.  Through these things, I felt the Lord welling up in my heart a deeper love for my hometown, my state, my family, and my childhood friends.  I'm so glad the Lord started a work in me in these areas to which I'd been numb because He was preparing me to come back.

I'm pretty sure Ohio's not "cool" in the eyes of many Americans.  When we told some we were moving back here instead of to Seattle, I gathered that more than a few thought it was a cop out to be closer to free babysitting.  But, no, my friends.  We are back because we were led the place we know like the back of our hands.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Story Behind the Name

The summer after my senior year of high school, in the midst of preparing to attend the prestigious Wright State University (You haven't heard of it? It's in Dayton, Ohio) I worked at some caverns near my house. "Near" when you live in the country means within an hour of your home, in case you were wondering. In the case of these caverns, they were about 35 minutes from my house. They were, and still are, truly stunning. The other staff were mostly college students working on their summers home, and a few high school students or recent grads. There was one exception older, graying gentleman by the name of Paul. Paul had a youthful side to him though--He drove a brand-new silver Rav4 with vanity plates. And there is one main reason that Paul is awesome: He was the first person to find beauty, elegance, history and rich culture in my name. Every time he addressed me, I was "Brittany: A Province in France." He would always become animated, pronouncing the words with flair but not quite attempting a French accent. In the middle of days spent trying to get the lighter to work so I could burn trash, giving tours to snide bikers or rebellious children, and trimming grass away from the walk with scissors, you can bet that put a smile on my face.

So Paul, if you're out there, thanks man. Thanks for setting me apart from Britney Spears and the other thousands of bubblegum pink teeny boppers named Brittany that spell it incorrectly. Thanks for restoring my name to its original beauty.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Long Time, No Blog

I am so glad that summer's here...the air's getting warmer, the Copperheads are a-bitin' (there's a story behind that one), steaks are on the grill, produce just tastes better, I can no longer make up excuses for not going running...the benefits of summer are endless.

Not too much is new here. Construction continues at the farm, and the place changes so much every day. Nick finished his semester and is going to be done in December! Yes, THIS DECEMBER! I am so ready for him to be done. And Viola does new things every day...she says "Uh-oh!" like it's her job and is already working on furthering her vocabularical skills. She likes to wave at everyone in Target and tries to stand up in the cart even while strapped in. The little energy ball crawls everywhere and likes to eat dirt and coffee grounds off the floor...but despite her little mishaps she can't help but become even more adorable every single day. I can't believe she's nearing her first birthday! I could go on and on about all the amazing things she can do now, but just know that my unbiased opinion is that she is the prettiest and smartest little girl you'd ever want to meet.

I'm not sure if anyone even looks at this anymore, but I do hope to keep this updated better in the future...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Being Honest or Being Holy?

Lately I've been reading 'Out of the Saltshaker and into the World' by Rebecca Manley Pippert. I chose to read it because it's about evangelism, which is something I want to embrace as more of a lifestyle than an event. In high school and college, I was involved with evangelism "events" of all sorts, but lately I feel the Lord wants me to glorify Him by being evangelistic in my everyday life.

I had my qualms about reading this book, since the cover is quite seventies-ish (got my copy at a used bookstore--copyright 1979, baby!) And I get the point about the title, but I thought it was kind of cheesy. Yet I've heard people rave about it, especially in seminary circles, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm so glad I did!

At the end of the first chapter, Pippert put into words a thought that's been tumbling around in my brain for a couple of years now. All I'd been able to process about this vague thought had been that I was feeling uneasy about how cool it is in our culture, and even in the Christian sub-culture, to be "real." You know, like the J-Lo song, the reality TV shows, the t-shirts that label people as being brats, or spoiled, or what have you. Now, I don't really have a problem with J-Lo, or reality TV, or people who want to be called brats, because I see the point of this way of thinking. I cherish honesty far above many traits. I would rather be smacked in the face with honesty than lied to, honestly. One of the most endearing traits my husband has is that he can't help but be honest 100% of the time. But, in the Christian life in particular I've had a sinking feeling that I'm missing something if honesty is such a huge part of what it's all about. Being real. Being up front. Putting yourself out there. Being open. These are not bad things, but they are not everything.

In the book, Pippert shares about how her transparency with a friend was a huge factor in how her friend came to saving faith in Christ. However, she says that we should not put being transparent on such a pedestal that we condone the sin of others. Instead, understanding is key, but the Bible doesn't just tell us to be open with others about our sin. It says to repent of it, as our sin is like filthy rags before the Father.

To further her point, Pippert says "I am not suggesting we share our weaknesses as if we were in a "competitive sinning" match in order to be real. Sin isn't God's brand of humanity: perfect obedience is. But so is humble confession when we fail. So our goal must be to live within the balance of aiming for perfect obedience and complete openness."

Well said.