We closed on our new house today (well, technically yesterday, since’s it’s way after midnight and I should be in bed!), and enjoyed hanging out there this evening. I took lots of pictures, and posted them on google+ with comments and explanations. Since it’s so late, I’m going to just post a link to that album. Please let me know how it works for you, especially if you’re not yet in my google circles.
See pictures of our new place here!

Thoughts on Dwelling

The Lord has been teaching me and reminding me lately that HE is my dwelling place.
In a recent message about the attributes of God, I was reminded-
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

And a couple days later, Papa sent me a devotional with this theme verse-
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

So I was doing a quick search for more “dwelling place” verses, and came to one of my favorite life Psalms (the name of my blog comes from vs.11)
Psalm 84
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 90:1-2
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

And as you continue looking through Scripture, the other aspect of us-God dwelling is HIM dwelling with us. In us, even!
2 Corinthians 6:16
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Revelation 21:1-3
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Ephesians 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Do you see that?? We are “members of the household of God,” and we are His “dwelling place!”

My thoughts turned to my relationship with Jonathan at this point… When I am with him, I am “home,” no matter where we are. He has expressed the same feeling of “homeness” about being with me. When we arrive in each other’s arms after being apart (even for a day), there is often this shared deep breath and sigh that says “Ahh, it’s so good to be home. Everything is going to be okay. I can rest now.” In a sense, he is my dwelling place, and I am his.

And then I chuckled a little chuckle of awe and amazement. Because I had inadvertently stumbled across another example of how the marriage relationship is meant to be a beautiful picture of Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Thanks for sharing my little Scripure-journey! May the Lord bless…

Resurrection Sunday

We had a beautiful Resurrection Sunday!
After breakfast, worship, and teaching with our beloved chapel family at Mizpah, we headed to Carey Park for lunch. It was nice to relax and enjoy the gorgeous day, and I took loads of pictures. In the late afternoon, we headed to Cousin Chelle’s for the Hall clan get together. I have so many pictures I’d like to share that I’m going to go ahead and do a gallery. Sorry about the extra time that takes for viewing… I’d like to find a better option. Enjoy anyway!

Creekside at KBC

When we were out at the camp a couple weeks ago, I took a few minutes to sit by the creek behind the pole barn.

Years ago, when leftovers of the south side of the A-frame bridge were still in place, I had a certain special sitting spot by the creek. In those days, the back side of the gym was much less cluttered, and the old bridge skeleton was a wonderfully quiet place to sit. Countless times I found myself there in need of peace. Of course, the peace didn’t come from the creation; it came from the Creator. I have such treasured memories of this little bit of creation and the grace lavished on me the many times I sat there to seek the Creator.

My favorite sitting tree is still there, though the old bridge boards are now part of the walkway by the tower across the new bridge on Camper Island. I was thankful to capture the current view from my sitting spot.

Have you had favorite spots to sit and ponder? I’d love to hear about them!

Wedding Stuff

Our friends Paul and Bethany got married recently, and while my camera went kaflooey the day of the wedding, I do have some miscellaneous pre-wedding pics to post…

I wish I had gotten a better picture of the gym floor when we walked in the week before the wedding to work on the stage. A scratch-and-sniff would be even better, because this amount of bird doo-doo doesn’t come without some olfactory “benefits.”

Jonathan and the boys transformed four sections of bowling alley floor into a stage for the wedding. After figuring out how the sections were going to best fit together, they removed all the assorted boards, screws, and bolts from the undersides –

Then they used “new” plywood and osb (from the scrap lumber stock in the camp pole barn) to attach and stabilize the sections –

Andrew H. brought concrete blocks which we set up to hold the stage –

And when it was all ready, we took advantage of the bachelor party’s presence at camp to get the whole shabang flipped and in place –

The next Tuesday, in another display of brilliant use of scrap wood, Jonathan built stairs for the stage.
Cutting the stringers –

Andrew and Kate helping put the stairs together (note the AMAZING transformation of the gym in the background… and it was even better by wedding day!)

Andrew helping Daddy and Grandpa Smith –

Big projects take lots of teamwork (as evidenced by the gym transformation wrought by Paul and Bethany’s families on Resurrection Sunday) –

My (other than moral support and inspiration) contribution – the first coat of paint (with help from Mom Smith). Andrew H. finished the paint job the next day and the stairs looked terrific!

And then it was wedding day!!

Pre-wedding beautifications

Lovely ladies

The beautiful bride having her hair done. I don’t think she was the least bit excited when she got dressed that morning, do you?

And that’s when my camera went out, so I have no pictures of the bride dressed in her finery, the wedding, the reception, etc. But it was absolutely lovely and honoring to the Lord that Paul and Bethany serve. A fantastic day!

Space Perspective – A New Family Adventure

In the next month or so, our family of ten will be moving from this house –

to this house –

We will be moving into a space that Jonathan estimates to be about a third of the space we now inhabit. This is neither an accident nor a disaster, but an intentional choice made with much prayer and thought.

We love our current home. We love the house, the property, the community… it has been more of a blessing than I could recount to live here for the last year. If you look through my pictures over the last year, you get a glimpse of how much we love it here. And I will be honest and admit that the thought of leaving is far from easy.

However, this gorgeous abode runs between 32.5 and 42.5% of our monthly income (our rent is somewhat variable according to how much work we do for our terrific homeowners). That is just way too much for us to be spending on housing, and we have been looking and praying about something different for a while now.

In early-mid March, we looked at three different houses. After much prayer, we made an offer on the mobile above and sat back to see what the Lord would do. Because we have a bankruptcy with a foreclosure on our record, a traditional loan was not an option for us, and we were unsure whether the family would accept our land contract offer (though we had sweetened the deal as much as we could and included a down payment that was almost a third of the asking price). We got word a few days later that they had accepted our offer.

Our closing date is set for April 27th, and we will be moving somewhat gradually through (at least) the first half of May. Our new home is a smidge shy of 1100 sq. feet and sits on an acre and a half. The payment will be about 21% of our monthly income (house payment + taxes and insurance; 4 year term with a goal of having the whole thing paid off in two).

The property is closer to town and in a decidedly more populated area (a disadvantage in our books), but we are glad to have a field across the dirt road from us to the north and only one house between us and more fields on the west. We’ll be less than four miles from Kansas Bible Camp, which is something about which we’re pretty excited. We have plenty of room for a garden, and actually have already started working on that with permission from the current owner.

The big challenge/opportunity with this move is going to be an adjustment in our space perspective. The American idea of how much living space is needed per person is pretty crazy, but it is extremely difficult to get away from that mindset.

I have been longing for years for our family to craft a more simple life together, to weed out the extras that weigh us down and to choose a less encumbered lifestyle. Part of that simpler life is financial freedom, which is one of the biggest reasons we are making this move. Another part of that simpler life is “stuff” freedom, and we will, by sheer necessity, be making great strides in that area as well.

From Merriam Webster
Definition of PARE
transitive verb
1: to trim off an outside, excess, or irregular part of (pare apples) (paring his nails)
2: to diminish or reduce by or as if by paring (pare expenses) (the novel was pared down to 200 pages)

I hope to blog regulary through this process of paring down our “stuff” and simplifying our life. I’d love it if you’d join me as I do!

March Memories

I truly am wanting to get back to actually blogging. These picture posts are a bit of an effort to play catch up. There are some pics of something pretty life-changing for us near the bottom of the gallery!

Fantastic February

I thought I had done a February picture post, but apparently I never finished it. Here’s a glimpse of our February!