Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weighted Church Evaluation Plan

I am resisting my professional training and personality trait to make a list and being rating the churches. I have already envisioned the Excel worksheet, neat sections for different aspects of church life, cross-sectioned with weightings and then a simple 1 to 5 rating system (10 point systems are simply too broad).

I resist because it seems somehow wrong to find a new faith community in this manner, although I am trying to determine exactly why. Perhaps I feel it is too analytical or cynical, too narrow for God to work through. Nonsense though. God works through anything God pleases--at least that is what I take away from the Word. Maybe it is not fair. Not fair to rate a community gathered to worship God on their music selections that week, the bulletin order or how many people noticed us hovering in our own little bubble. It probably isn't fair, but it is hard to avoid evaluating.

If I do start that Excel file, I can at least start filling out the part on children's church, as that is most of what I have seen the past two Sundays. The girls have enjoyed their children's church experiences at two churches quite a bit, but weren't willing to let me go. I guess I will have to hold off on rating those churches on sermon message content/delivery or the overall service until I see a bit more.

Of course, I want to be wowed by God's presence in the worship and through the people so much that my brain forgets to evaluate and simply listens to a heart whisper that says "yes, here, this one".

Mike says he's found us a church, apparently hearing that heart whisper. The commute will be tough though for any sort of weekly attendance, given the church is in Beijing. I think even my six-year old would pick up on the irony.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kam Sa Hammy What?

MeiLin started Tae Kwan Do three weeks ago. She is thrilled. She is memorizing the belt colors and order. She has already asked how far she can get in the 20 months we are here. She does it with gusto and is very quick with "Yes, Sir".

Maiya has been watching from the sidelines. The move has startled her. She is timid and clingy. She misses Daddy and she hasn't been ready to plunge in. But, she couldn't deny her inner hyper-fairy gymnast for too long. Today, she finally decided to give Tae Kwan Do a try with sister. And, no surprise, she loved it too. She wants to go back tomorrow (Sunday, honey, there are no lessons). We'll have to have the Master order a special outfit for her as the smallest in the studio would have the pant's waistband under her arms.

I love to watch them. They are strong, nimble and co-ordinated. They also listen and respond, quickly. And, on a day like today where we had some really wild, not listening, not behaving moments out in public, I remember that they do know how to listen and behave--really they do. Maybe next time I should take them to Target in their white Tae Kwan Do pajamas.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Once upon a time...

There lived a olive-skinned, brunette maiden on an island barely inside the circle of the north pole. She fell in love with a fairer young shiny knight disguised in chammies and seargent's strips. After treks back and forth around the world seperately and quite a bit of snail mail (alas, this was such a once upon a time that email simply wasn't available for most peasants, maidens or knights), they met again, declared their mutual love and were married.

Many years later, they had built a castle of memories. Memory castles are easier to move and being nomads, they simply couldn't afford to build a stone dwelling. The books were heavy enought to move from place to place. While sometimes parted, they still remained true and faithful. They made each other strong. As time went on, they had children, fairy-like little ones that both glitter and amazed while still also driving them as crazy as gnats somedays. The maiden and the knight grew comfortable together and were parted less oft.

And, then, a challenge was raised. The knight would go far away among strangers for a fortnight while the maiden would unpack the castle of memories and set it up in a rather colder, damper location than the sunny coast they had enjoyed for a few years. The knight left. The maiden began by distracting the spritish children with treats and grand stories. Whether or not the maiden survived the fortnight depends greatly on her resourcefulness, patience and humor. That is another chapter.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Today, it rained. This doesn't seem earth-shattering to many people, but it was refreshing and exciting to us. The girls walked to school with their umbrellas open (fairy purple and cow black and white, complete with ears) even though the rain hadn't actually started.

I remember moving to Carmel in the month of June. Sometime in late fall of that year, maybe November, Mike and I heard this odd sound late one night after the kids had gone to bed. We went and opened the front door: rain! We realized we had not had rain in the months since the move and had not really noticed the change from Missouri.

Now, we back in rain. It is nice, enjoyable and exciting today. In a month, it may be slushy, cold and grey. We'll enjoy it today. And, we may have to get some rain boots.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I have been homesick today, which is strange as I am not missing a place and have no real home apart from where my family is right now. But, I am missing a people, a church, a way of life and a comfort level. I find this a bit of a new feeling. I've missed people before and certainly was sad and nervous and even angry when we moved in my childhood. This is different, though. I can't say why for sure yet.

We visited a church today. It was nice (enough). I find it hard not to compare to the church, the people, the spirit we are missing at Carmel Pres. When we moved last time, we left a church that had many issues, struggled and we didn't quite fit. We were excited about "church shopping" - a chance to find a place where God would use us, where we would fit, where we would feel at home. And, God is amazing--because he put us right where we so desired, blessed us and helped us grow in directions that we didn't even know about.

Now, having left that place, we are grieving. I left the new church today. Mike asked me "what did you think?" "I don't want to church shop. I just want some of Carmel Pres to move here."

Irrational. New place jitters. A bit melodramatic and melancholy. Yet, I understand when MeiLin says she doesn't want to go to her new school tomorrow because she won't have recess (the class lost recess time on Friday for being rowdy at lunch).