Growing zucchinis in our garden is always an adventure. They tend to be ready right as we are gone on vacation. This summer I peeled a way overgrown zucchini that hid while we were gone and shredded the parts that doesn't have the seeds. I made soup and muffins out of the shredded zucchini. But this isn't about zucchini.
When Chris and I got married, we got a lot of comments about being young. We were 22 and 23 at the time. I look back and think, “yeah, we were kind of young at the time.” But we were high school sweethearts. We had grown up together, and we were more than ready to get married. We were committed to living out our lives together.
A few years later when Chris and I started looking for churches to co-pastor, we had it in our heads that we would only go serve a church, if we could see committing ourselves for 10 years in that particular church. I can’t for the life of me remember how we decided on the number 10. It was a good round number. And we moved around during the first five years of our marriage. We didn’t really want that any more. We wanted to be settled into a community.
Today marks 5 years of serving this church and community. A lot has happened in those 5 years. The stuff that happens in a lot of churches. Weekly worship with children sitting in laps or on the heating grates. Babies being born and becoming a part of the church family. New people being welcomed into the church family. Remembering friends and family members at memorial services. We are a community church.
And then there’s the stuff that is uniquely First Baptist Church of South Londonderry. And I’m not just talking about the fire that destroyed the church building 6 months after we arrived. I’m also talking about our church’s 200th anniversary. Or countless SERVE moments. I’m talking about that time that we invited all of our friends to worship last year, and the house nearby had a fire and we had to send everyone home. I’m talking about starting a whole new ministry at Stratton. We’ve had some pretty big things that have happened since we arrived.
We’ve been here 5 years, and to be honest, I can’t not see myself here in South Londonderry. I think that God has given Chris and me some roots here. This desire to stay for a really long time is grounded in our love for the people here and our commitment to serving God in one place. And powder days at Stratton. Just kidding. That's just a bonus.
Chris and I didn’t completely know what we were getting into, when we got married. And we didn’t completely know what we were getting into, when we came here to serve in South Londonderry. Things have happened in our marriage and things have happened in our church that we weren’t expecting. Some of those things that happened have been amazing. Some of those things have been hard. But it doesn’t change that I’m committed to my marriage, and it doesn’t change that I’m committed to my church.
Thank you for the last five amazing years! I am so grateful for your encouragement and forgiveness and love and help and fun. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our future together!
We had a blast yesterday apple picking! Can you tell? We invited our friends, and there were a whole lot more of us than I expected. We only planned this trip last Thursday, so it was last minute. But that's sometimes how we roll. It was a perfect fall day. We hung out at the orchard for a couple of hours enjoying the time we had together. That's one thing that's hard about not having a building. Creating time to just hang out is logistically more difficult. But we try to create ways to spend time together. Because we like hanging out.
God didn't create us to be boring robots. He wants us to enjoy our lives and enjoy our time together. Community is important to us, because God created us to crave meaningful relationships. We're like a family. Well, some of us are family, but that's besides the point. I'm not related to anyone outside of my immediate family. But I feel like these people are my family. And that's a really cool thing.
If you'd like to have some community in your life, we'd love for you to become part of the family! Go here to see some ways that you can check us out. And if you're wondering what worship on Sunday mornings is like, go here. We would love to have you!
Hermit Island is one of my favorite places to visit in the whole world. I haven't traveled a ton. But you know what I mean. Our family goes there every summer. It's pretty much the same thing. Year after year. And still there's a familiarity to it that I find so comforting. The beaches are the same. The amenities (for better or worse) are the same. We camp there. And it feels like home.
It's a funny thing. I don't think that I'm alone, when I say that I like to be in familiar places and see familiar faces. I like to know what to expect, when I go somewhere new. I like being in my comfort zone. I like routine. I'm not one to actively seek out something outside of my comfort zone. That's just who I am. And I think that God made me that way. Why should I?
But then I think about what I'd miss out, if I stayed where I'm comfortable all the time. I would have missed out on seeing Mary Poppins in New York City this year. I would have missed out on running a 5k the last couple of years. I would have missed out on meeting some new friends and going to some new places. I don't want to be the person who missed out on a bunch of things, because I had butterflies. Because, in the end, I really am glad of getting outside of my comfort zone.
When I first came to South Londonderry, I was way beyond my comfort zone. I was nervous about a lot of things. But one thing was so clear, when I became a part of First Baptist Church. It was a place full of friendly people who cared a whole lot about me and my family. And not just because I'm their pastor. I see them embrace new people often, and it warms my heart. They want to share the love of Jesus with everyone. I've been a part of this church for over three years. And it feels like home.
If you're looking for a comfortable place, where you want to be with people who embrace you and care about you, come. It might be outside your comfort zone. But I promise. It will be so worth it.
As I have scanned through Facebook and twitter I have read and saw so much about the marathon. I saw so many people that have written about the terrible explosion. I read about all their prayers for Boston.
I've been praying too. I prayed for those people who I saw and read about. I prayed for Grant, a missionary running to raise money for a Christian camp. I prayed for his wife Miho and their two little girls, who had been planning on going to cheer him on. I prayed for the responders. I prayed for doctors and nurses. I prayed. A lot. And I still am.
I've heard a lot of people say they are praying for Boston. I've seen a lot of people write online that they are praying for Boston.
Friends, let me tell you a little about God, who listens to all these prayers. He is here. He is just as upset as we are. He hates evil. He loves us. He doesn't want us to hurt. He is love. And He loves our prayers. Because He wants us to run to Him right now.
My eyes filled with tears yesterday, when I learned Grant and Miho and the girls were safe. After that I know that God is listening. I cry out to God for all those who are suffering. And I know God is listening.
If you want to know more about this God you've been praying to. If you want to know about this love. If you want to be with people who pray knowing that prayers make a difference. Come join us on Sunday. We will grieve together. And comfort one another. We will pray for those hurt and those hurting.
The God we pray to knows hurt beyond anything we could imagine. The God we pray to has not stood by just watching from the sidelines but is overcoming hurt with love.
An answered prayer. I made two birthday cakes for two very special people! Thank you for your prayers. I cannot express how much your prayers have meant. I am on the mend; however, from what I understand, it's going to be a while before I'm completely back to normal.
I made an applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting for my son. And the picture above is the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting I made for my daughter. That's the one I'm going to write about today.
This recipe is not one I've made before. Sarah picked it out from her cookbook. We made it together. It was special. I used a square cake pan. I know. It doesn't look square. I'll get to that in a bit. When I was flipping it over on the rack, only some of the cake came out. I was bummed. My wonderful husband cut the remaining pieces out of the pan for me. I had a plan, though. I was convinced I didn't have to make another one. I had a vision of piling all the pieces on top. I was convinced that I could make it work.
I knew that I wanted to have a circle cake, so it would fit on the cake plate. I needed something to trace. I used the cover of the round storage container that holds our peanut butter. We don't keep our natural peanut butter in the jar. One of my brilliant friends recommended mixing it, so the oils aren't all at the top making a huge mess every time we make a sandwich. Brilliant. I cut my cake. That went relatively well.
I didn't really want to make a double batch of frosting. I knew that I needed something to make all my pieces "stick" together. Since I had the peanut butter out, I slathered a layer on top of the circle piece. It was a spur of the moment decision. I carefully placed the biggest cake pieces on top. Then I started filling it in with little pieces. They weren't stuck together by anything. I just piled pieces (crumbs really) on top. I told myself, at least it will taste good.
Next, it needed to be frosted. Now the color of the frosting was slightly lighter than the cake, so the crumbs that were inevitably coming off and mixing with the frosting were so obvious. Not to mention that the top of the cake was not even. It was pretty bumpy. Don't forget it was just a bunch of cake pieces on there. I kept telling myself, at least it will taste good.
Since it was bumpy on top and I could clearly see the crumbs in the frosting, I decided to look through the cabinets to find something to put on top. I just wanted to distract from the bumps. I had no desire to go out to the store. I found some brown sugar. I sprinkled some of that on top. I found a few other things to sprinkle on top. I wasn't convinced that it looked any better. At least it will taste good. And maybe it won't look so bad in the pictures that I take to remember this day forever.
My husband said that it looked pretty nice. To be honest I thought he was being nice. We had a nice slice of chocolate cake after dinner that night. It did taste good. Especially with the peanut butter.
But here's the strange part. We had some people over later on, and they remarked how nice the cake looked. And that was after it was cut. I'll admit that I was a little surprised, because I knew how not put together it was on the inside.
I felt like it was all smoke and mirrors. It might look good, but it's just a big mess.
It got me thinking. For those of us who are regular attenders to Sunday worship services, do we feel like our lives as we present them on Sunday morning are all smoke and mirrors? We might look like everything's a-ok, but it really isn't.
For those of us who are not regular attenders, do we feel like we'd have to be all smoke and mirrors to fit in at church? Does that become a roadblock?
I know that the answer may be yes to both. And I know that our God is so much bigger than that. He knows it all. There is no way that we can be all smoke and mirrors to Him who created us. Our church should be a reflection of that.
Let us be a group of people who doesn't feel like we have to be all smoke and mirrors, when we enter the church building (or in our case the town hall). Let us be a group of people who can be honest enough to our friends and family that we don't have pretend that we live perfect lives. We are just a group of people who recognize that we are so in need of a Savior, Jesus. And we desire to follow our Savior, Jesus. Together.
I have this friend. She's the most honest person I know. I mean that in a good way. She's warm and endearing and is willing to say what's on her mind. In a good way. She's a Christian, and she's just plain honest.
Completely changing the subject. Or maybe not. Can I be honest? I'm pretty good at the stiff upper lip. Most of the time. But I'm going to be honest. I need some prayer.
Four weeks ago I got a tickle in my throat. It turned into a cough. Then it just got worse from there. I just went to the doctor for the second time yesterday. The last time I went to the doctor for sickness was, like, a decade ago. I have pneumonia. And now I'm starting my second round of antibiotics as well as cough medecine. Can I be honest? I don't want to be sick anymore.
I'm trying to not wallow in self pity. I've tried to be optimistic. I know that I'm not the only one who is sick. From what I hear a lot of people are. But can I be honest? I want to be healthy. For my children. For my husband. For my church.
I am going to ask you all to pray for me. I just want to be healthy. My little Daniel is turning one on Saturday. I want to make him a cake. Can you pray that I'll be able to make him one? My little Sarah is turning three on Monday. Can you pray that I'll be able to make her a cake? I know I could buy them cakes, but I'd really like to be able to bake them myself.
I want to be honest. This hasn't been easy. But I have to say that I'm so thankful to be in a church family that has already been so good to my family. We've been eating a lot of yummy meals. The family has chipped in to help.
Can I be honest? This is one of the best parts about being in a church family. There's so much to be said for being a part of a community that is just "there" for you. So, if you needed a reason to come check First Baptist out, there is one. Out of many. To be honest we'd love to have you! You don't have to have life all together or figured out to check us out.
And if you're sick, please let me know. To be honest, I'd like to pray for you.
This morning I was trying to figure out what to wear. Warmth was important. There was sweater that was just calling out my name. I've had it for quite a while. An oldie but definitely a goodie!
It reminded me of the time I tried to give it away. That's right. I unsuccessfully tried to give it away. I was leading a group on getting closer to God. The details are a little fuzzy, but we were talking about letting go of our possessions. It was all about simplicity.
The book we were reading gave some ideas on working toward living simply. One was to give away a possession that someone else admires to find out how attached we are.
It's one thing to talk about it. Someone in the group joked around about liking my sweater. After that night I really thought about it. Was I ready to do it?
I really liked the sweater. But I knew what I had to do. I washed it and gave it to her the following Sunday. I'll admit it. It was harder than I thought it would be.
It was a test. God wanted to see what I'd do. I did it, and yet I learned I had an attachment to something that wasn't all that important.
I tried to give away my sweater. She gave it back. She didn't like it as much after trying it on.
Now I have a great reminder every time I wear the sweater. I haven't arrived. I've always got some work to do in my relationship with God.
How has God recently shown you that you've got work to do?
Vacations are great. Getting there. And back. Well, maybe not so much. So we just came back from vacation last weekend. It was great. Except the
massive amount of rain. Anyway, I was not looking forward to the long car trip back. I felt like saying a million times, “Are we there, yet?” It was hot. We had to stop a bunch of times. It took forever. Not really. Just a long
So on our “adventure” home, we stopped for lunch. We ended up at a building that had two restaurants. The choice was pizza or subs. We let our daughter decide which one. It was, after all, the last day of vacation. She picked pizza.
We realized after we let her pick, that there wasn’t a place to sit at the pizza place. It was pick up only. It wasn’t exactly what we had planned! So we tried to find a place to park nearby to eat our lunch. Stick with me, because I’m almost to the good part. We ended up in a church parking lot.
While eating my hot pizza in the hot sun, I gazed upon the building. It looked rather new. I can’t pinpoint exactly how I knew this, but I was pretty sure by the end of my second slice that the building was rebuilt after a fire. When we left, I realized that there was a garden on the other side of the building with a bell in the center. I just had to know. Had they gone through the same difficulties that we had?
I looked it up. I was right. They did experience a building fire. And they have a new building. It was encouraging. To see for myself a church that had one building destroyed and another in its place gave me hope and excitement as we prepare for a new building.
Just this month we remembered the second anniversary of our building fire. I am asked frequently about the new building. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Are we there, yet?” And God answers, “Not yet!” A building will be great. Don’t get me wrong. But there is so much great stuff happening without a building.
God knew my daughter would choose pizza. God knew my family would stop at a church parking lot. God knew that I could use some encouragement.
We may not have a building…yet…but God is building us up a church. It’s so exciting to be just a little part of it. If you haven’t checked us out, please do. See what it’s like for our church to be a church without a building. It’s pretty cool!
I needed some rest. I didn't want to believe it. I thought I could go on and on and on. I'm a type-A-I-can-keep-going-no-matter-what kind of person. My body didn't agree. I needed rest and plenty of water.
Last month I took a day off. Well, as much as a mommy can take off. No laundry. Minimal dishes. Hanging out with the kiddos on the couch. Oh, I was tempted to work on the blog and write some emails and about a million other things. It was so hard but worth it.
Sometimes I forget that it's okay to rest. God made us that way. He wants us to rest. I could write a bunch more about it, but I’m not sure I’ll convince you to do it with lots of words.
I want to encourage you to find time to rest this summer. In fact, I’m going to give you permission to rest. Take a morning and go sit by the pond. Or stay in bed. Or whatever else.
I rested. It was good. Give it a try!
This is written by Kathleen Blackey, follower of Jesus and co-pastor at First Baptist Church.