Friday, February 26, 2010


Today is the first day where I've actually felt settled. Not completely by any means. But enough to feel like this is my home and I can relax in it without feeling guilty about boxes that need to be unpacked. All but 3 boxes are unpacked (and they are for Anthony's office). Today we finished hanging everything on the walls, including some new curtains (!) and we put away books on the bookshelf. Tomorrow we plan on having everything organized enough to make a video and take everyone on a tour... so watch out for that!

Anthony's mom left yesterday morning which brought on a myriad of emotions. On the one hand we had to say another goodbye and we lost our one last connection to home. On the other hand we were finally on our own at our new place. It was so good to have her here to meet people and to help, but there's something about trying to have a "normal" routine. The first half of the week was so busy with unpacking, trips to Walmart (yes, we have a Walmart here), and dinner/lunch dates that we have cherished yesterday and today's quietness.

Since we've been here, both Anthony and I have felt so much affirmation that this is where we are supposed to be. So many people have told us stories about the journey to this point and so many people are 100% supportive of us. This helps so much when the moments of doubt and fear come. It also helps when I start missing home. This hasn't happened too much yet, mostly due to the fact that I've barely had time to think. But then I find myself wanting to call Brett or Little One to see what's going on tonight. Or I want to call my mom and see if we can come over for dinner. Then it hits me. But for now, I'm focusing on the excitement of a new place and a new adventure.

I've also started thinking a little more about what I want to do while I'm here. The more and more I think about it, the more I like the idea of substitute teaching again. For one, it pays almost double what it did in Indiana. Also, I like the idea of a flexible schedule. I can still get involved as much as I want at the church and work when I can. I can also work around Anthony's schedule. However, I was doing some research online today and ran into a snag. They're a lot more strict with subs here. Since I don't have an education degree, I would have to take a class (maybe more). They have a certain number of hours of classes that I would have to complete in order to be a substitute in Iowa. This is a big pain, not to mention the cost. I've already been subbing for 4 months, what could a class possibly teach me? Anyways, this could be tricky timing wise as well. Chances of me getting into and completing a course before the end of the school year are slim. We'll have to see if it's worth doing in the fall or if I should look for something else.

Well I think that's about all. It will definitely be an adventure when next week comes and Anthony actually starts his job. For now we are basking in our weekend of just the 2 of us with no responsibilities.

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We're Here!

Well, we finally made it to our new home in Okoboji, Iowa! It's been a crazy week, even leading up to the move. So much to do and so many details to take care of. But I was surprised at how smoothly everything got done. We finished packing in plenty of time. We had some amazing friends help us load up the truck and pack it so well that we didn't have to leave anything behind. (by the way guys, the oversized chair is sitting comfortably in our bedroom, so you didn't fit it in for nothing!)

Goodbyes were hard, but I won't go into that. Suffice it to say that we will miss our friends and family deeply. I don't even think we realize yet how much we will miss you guys.

The drive was good, but loong! It took us much longer than we thought to get there with the truck. It was a good thing we planned plenty of time. Anthony's mom came with us, for those of you who don't know. She's been a huge help! And part of that was that she drove the truck the entire way! We kept asking to change drivers, but I think she wanted to say she made it the whole way. So that was a big relief to me, because I thought I would be driving it most of the time. After 12 long hours (with only brief stops for lunch and gas) we made it!

We got some time to see our condo before our moving crew got here. It's wonderful! We are extremely happy with it! It's about the same size as our last place, but the arrangement is much better and because there aren't as many rooms, the bedrooms are larger. And the kitchen! I will have space to cook and it even has a bar! We will be posting pictures and maybe even a video soon enough. But anyways, we had a crew of about 20 people from the church come and help unload. Within an hour and a half the truck and 2 cars were completely unloaded. They were so fast! Everyone stayed for a little bit to grab some food and chat, but before long they were gone and we just crashed. We put our mattress on the floor and were asleep by 9. It was lovely.

Yesterday, we spent pretty much the entire day arranging furniture. We got everything where we want it (at least for now) and it was no easy task. Our living room is more on the long side (think Logan Village), so it was a pain trying to figure out what made the most sense. But it's all done now! Also, yesterday, Anthony worked on all his tech stuff and I put away the kitchen. By the end of the day, we were exhausted yet again. We got food at a local Mexican place (yum!), chatted for a long while, and came home to crash.

This morning has been a little more relaxed. We're to the point of putting away all the small things that we're really not sure where they go yet. Hopefully we'll start hanging things on the wall. After lunch, we'll take Anthony's mom around the area to give her an idea of where we will be living. We'll also make a much needed Walmart and grocery run.

That's about all that's happening here. Emotionally, I still don't think it's sunk in yet. It doesn't feel like we're 10 hours away. We've been pretty excited about our new home and getting things put away that not much else has entered our minds. That will all change soon, I'm sure.

Well, this is getting long, and I'm starting to get hungry. I will try to update again soon!


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Packing is one of the more fascinating aspects of the human experience, at least the American one. As a college student who's lived in at least 9 places* since moving out of my parent's house, I'm used to the idea, i.e. of putting together all of your items into stacks and piles, putting those piles into boxes, and putting those boxes into stacks.

Packing definitely has some psychological effects. First of all, the concept of "ownership" that is drilled into our mind since infancy (any three year old knows how to scream "MINE!") is brought to the surface while packing. These are my things. I'm moving out of my house into another house that will me mine.

Secondly, going through that which is yours is sure to bring up memories. Why do I own a cup with a coconut bra on it? Oh yeah, because my then-girlfriend Emily threw me a surprise 21st birthday party that celebrated not only my legal age but also my then-future trip to Hawaii. I find boxes filled with letters, cards, notes, and pictures, each one representing a different event, person, or just a random happening.

So now, as boxes stand stacked to the ceiling in Emily's and my house, I am filled both with memory and a certain sense of pride. It's the pride I certainly have to be cautious of, though.

19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6)
This is the second day of Lent, a time of remembering, confession, and of letting go. As Emily and I move out of this place into the next, with a 16' box truck filled with our stuff in tow, may we never get too fixated on the stuff sitting behind us, but rather on the treasures ahead.

*1st floor Oakwood, Bawa House, 3rd Floor Manges, Jimmy's, Some Older Couple's Guest Room, Spare Room in Church, 1st Floor Manges, Logan Village, Lowell House

Friday, February 5, 2010

The First Goodbyes...

We said our first goodbyes tonight to the Board's. They were gracious enough to come down from Grand Rapids and spend some time with us. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting and catching up, but it was hard to believe that this was really the last time we would see them in a long time. I don't think it's really hit me that we move in almost 2 weeks. It just seems like something we've been talking about since Christmas and can't possibly be here yet.

We have so many people here who love and support us. We are never without something to do or someone to see. Our families are close. Our friends are close. We've never been without them.

Goodbyes are going to be harder than I thought...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: The Book of the Shepherd

 The Book of the Shepherd is a 183 page "fable" written by Joann Davis, the wife of historian Kenneth C. Davis (I Don't Know Much About... series). The story serves as a allegory for discovering "the new way." It's written very much like childrens' literature--very linear story, simple characters, clear breaks and transitions. The tells the story of an orphaned boy, a shepherd, and a freed servant woman, all on their way to a cave to discover "the new way."

The old way was what a Dispensationalist would call the way of the Old Testament--an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth kind of philosophy. The three journeyers all know better somewhere in their heart and so they go on a quest to a cave they've heard about to find out what the better way is. It ends up being the St. Francis prayer, "Make me a channel of your peace/Where there is hatred, let me sow love..." etc. This new way is called "The Law of Substitution."

Now all this seems nice and fits well into a (not very well thought out) Christian worldview. But there are problems and these problems insure I would never would this fable to my children.

1) Though the Bible is clear that Jesus set up a new covenant and that the Law would no longer be written on stone, but rather, on our hearts, it is clear that the same God who visited Mt. Sinai is the same God who visited Golgotha. Jesus fulfilled the Law, He did not abolish it. All humans at all times have been saved my grace through faith (even Abraham). This fable prevents God's salvation as otherwise (or even worse, that the first thousands of years of human history were mistaken and God finally got it right on AD 29.)

2) The author presents this new way--The Law of Substitution--as a way of monks that got the kaboosh by "The Powers That Be." How? She says that a document called "The Destruction and Overthrow of Falsely So-called Knowledge" barred these monks from having meetings and propagating their texts. Oh-so-not-ironically, "The Destruction and Overthrow..." is the title of a five-volume text by Irenaeus that argues against Gnostic thinking. It would seem that the author of this fable is a proponent of Gnostic thinking, proven by her malaligning the church father Irenaeus.

3) It is briefly mentioned that "The One" will be the person by which this new Law takes hold of the world. But then it is revealed that "The One" is each of us, each person who simply does the right thing and shows compassion. This sounds nice, but it is incredibly humanistic and ignores humanities need for a Redeemer. If each one of us could just follow the Law, then what need do we have for a Savior (particularly a risen one)? This seems to be Ms. Davis's point. There is no "One"; it's all of us.

For these reasons, I cannot suggest this book to anyone except as a academic study into how a modern day Gnostic (read: heretic) might think about salvation and redemption. In a word, its humanistic. Not to mention abiblical and illogical.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Emily has a Bad Day at Work = Emily Takes a Day Off Work.

Today was a bad day. I should clarify that statement. Today was a bad day as a substitute teacher. I guess I had it coming. I've been fairly blessed over the past 3-4 months as a sub. All of my teachers have been very organized. Most of the time, I have great kids (there's always one in every class, though!). But today, my friends, was not one of those days.

I was assigned as a music teacher at an elementary school today. I was excited because it's right up my alley (yes, Brett, I am musical, contrary to popular belief), and what can be cuter than kindergartners singing? Well, I walked in to the classroom and quickly realized that the teacher did NOT have any sub plans sitting on her desk. I searched around, checked the piano and any other possible location with no luck. I made a quick jaunt back to the office to see if perhaps she had left plans with them, though I knew it was a lost cause. Sure enough, they knew nothing about my situation and only could wish me good luck.

As I opened the folder full of emergency info (where to go for a fire drill, etc), I noticed that the teacher did have an "emergency sub plan" written out. And though the date was from 2006, it was all I had. Basically, it told me to have the students pick songs that they like and then I can play them (off of a cd) and they can sing along. But I had no idea where the cds were, what time the kids were coming, or even a class list to know their names. And names are powerful to a sub. "You there, sit down now!" is a lot less intimidating than "Anthony Paul, you sit down right now!" Anyways, I digress. I did my best to push my frustration at the teacher aside and instead figured that I would focus my energy on really talking to and getting to know the kids. With a little music mixed in.

My first class, however, proved me wrong. It was a bad sign when their teacher, who dropped them off, left warning me that they are horrible. They did nothing but live up to their reputation. My first 2 classes (4th grade and 6th grade) must have been born of Satan! They were rude, loud, disrespectful, and just plain mean to each other and to me. It didn't matter what I threatened or what method I tried, it was hopeless. I felt completely at a loss. I couldn't send the whole class to the office, and I had already taken their recess away, so I could do nothing but feign control and endure.

The rest of the day got a little better (thank goodness), but only a little. I had younger kids in the afternoon, so they were not as disobedient, but still inattentive. Let's just say it was obvious that they would be turning into my first classes in a couple of years. Soooo, all this to say that I will not be accepting any more jobs at that school and the teacher received a frustrating report. Oh and I also decided to take tomorrow off as a reward to myself for dealing with this horrible day.

Irresponsible? Perhaps? But, Anthony said it was ok, so I'll believe him :) I'll make it a productive day, though. I can start packing some things that I know we won't be using in the next 19 days. (We're moving in 19 days!)

I should wrap this up. But in future news, Board and Dee are coming up Thursday-Friday! That makes me excited. We have a good weekend to look forward to. Alright. I need to get to bed. If you've endured this long story, then you should get a reward. Unfortunately, I have no such thing, so you will have to be satisfied with my praise. Good job!

Goodnight all!