Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Handshake Song


    I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
    I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
    Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
    For I’m part of the family,
    The Family of God

There are certain songs, church songs, that make me want to walk around the room and shake hands.  That’s one of them.  That’s one of the greeting choruses our home church sings.  A handshake song.  We sing it through once, then we walk around and shake hands and hug each other’s necks, then we sing it through a second time while everyone finds their seats again.  

Last year, we were in Brazil worshipping with the church there.  We didn’t know Portuguese, so we were smiling and nodding quite a bit.  Then the congregation started singing that familiar tune, “The Family of God.”  Of course, the whole thing was in Portuguese, but it was the same handshake song from home.  We sang a verse, walked around and hugged and kissed each other’s cheeks and the men vigorously slapped each other on the back.  Those people know how to have a greeting time in church!  And we felt right at home.  

Though there are many things I appreciate about the church we’re attending here, and I know it is the church God wants us to be a part of now, I realized on Sunday what I’ve been missing.  On Sunday, I was back in Virginia, in my home church with the people who were family for more than 13 years.  And after the worship service began, we stood to sing “The Family of God.”  After one verse, everyone moved around, shaking hands and hugging each other.  I was hugged more in one morning than I have been since we moved in December!  (Well, if you don’t count my husband and children.)  

That’s when it hit me.  It’s what I’ve been missing.  The church we’re going to here doesn’t have a greeting time.  Nobody hugs me when they see me.  They don’t hug each other either, so I don’t think it’s just because I’m new.  Since we started going there, I haven’t seen anyone wrap her arms around a sister and say, “I love you.”  Goodness, even people who don’t really like me at my home church hug me and tell me they love me!  🙂  

The people in this church are open and honest.  They share their hearts and they pray for each other.  No doubt about that.  They live out loving each other.  They just don’t share it with giant bear hugs and kisses on the cheek.  

I’m not saying they are wrong.  I know families are different and show their love differently.  It’s just that I like hugging.  And as I stood in the familiar sanctuary on Sunday being hugged by person after person after person who told me they loved me and missed me, my eyes filled with tears and I realized all at once how much I’d missed their hugs.  The lightbulb went off.  This was one of the reasons I haven’t felt quite at home in our new church family.  

So it led me to wonder.  Is it geographical?  cultural?  denominational?  

Help me out.  Does your church body have a greeting time each Sunday morning?  Do you hug?  Do you shake hands?  Do you air-kiss?  Where do you live?  In the north, south, midwest, northwest, southwest?  Or in another country?  Are you Presbyterian or Baptist or charismatic or reformed or liturgical or Methodist or something else?  Are there 50 of you or 200 of you or 2000 of you?  

Would a big bear hug make you uncomfortable?  Or feel right at home?  What about those handshakes that turn into half-hugs, half big pats on the back?  Does it invade your personal space or is it your favorite part of church?


    I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
    I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
    Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
    For I’m part of the family,
    The Family of God


Filed under Christianity, church, faith


Interface is NTM’s 4 – 6 week college course.  Participants are immersed in tribal missions in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  

I love this one line in this video — regarding what he wants to be when he grows up, the narrator says, “I began to realize it’s not what I want to be, but what I’m willing to become.”  

Even if you’re not college-aged anymore, maybe this short movie will challenge you about what you’re willing to become.  Maybe it will challenge your ideas about what “normal” means.  Maybe it will expand your vision and increase your view of God.  

At the very least, please get a good look at the faces in this movie.  Hear their voices.  See their vibrant church.  Enjoy their smiles.  Jesus loves these people and has placed a love for them within me.  That love compels me.  There are 3,000 more groups of people like this who have never heard of Jesus.  




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Filed under Christ, Christianity, faith, life, missions

More Sara Groves

This is sort of how I feel some days.  



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Sara Groves On Modern Slavery



What will you give up to be a part of this story?  What will you risk to be part of this modern-day underground railroad?


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Our Heartbeat

This is the burden God has placed on our heart.  This is our passion.  This is why we are here. 



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Miscellaneous Monday – 4-14-08

Back by popular demand . . .  Ok, not really.  But it’s back!  Miscellaneous Monday!  

Today the topic is –Your 3 favorite vacations.  Three is the random number I chose for Miscellaneous Monday topics.  But if you only have 2 or you must tell about 4, that’s OK.  

My 3 favorite vacations during adulthood–

1.  My  honeymoon.  We spent almost a week in the Smoky Mountains.  We had our own cabin in the woods.  The whole thing felt so removed from real life — no worries, no responsibilities, just complete relaxation and joy.  I was so elated to be married to Patrick, and the whole honeymoon vacation just felt like a dream.  

2.  Montego Bay, Jamaica.  In 2000, Patrick had to go to Montego Bay for business for two weeks!  He wanted me to come along for the first week.  So Grammy and Grandad and Aunt Diana and Aunt Barbara all chipped in to watch the girls, who were so little back then, and we flew off to Jamaica.  I was in the early weeks of pregnancy (with Caleb), and this vacation was perfect.  We stayed at a quiet gated hotel.  It was not a fancy, commercial, all-inclusive resort — which would be fun under different circumstances.  Our balcony overlooked the ocean.  Every morning, Patrick would get up and get ready for work, and I would lie in bed as long as possible.  Then I would get up and be sick.  Then the waiter would bring our breakfast to our balcony.  I sat on the balcony in my white robe eating a delicious breakfast, looking out at the ocean.  

After breakfast, Patrick would go with his co-worker and their driver to the office where they were working, and I would put on my bathing suit, grab a book, and head to the pool.  I would sit by the pool and read, then maybe swim a little bit, then sit by the ocean and read, then go back up to the pool to read.  Before lunch, I’d go up and change into real clothes, then I’d have lunch at the hotel restaurant.  

After lunch, it rained every day.  Stormed, really.  And the electricity would go out for a while.  It was the perfect time to nap!  So I’d nap for a couple hours.  

Then I’d get showered and ready for dinner so that when Patrick returned, we could go out to a restaurant for dinner.  We ate at the most interesting places.  One night, we had fondue on this creaky old boat.  At one time, in the distant past, it was one of THE places to eat in Montego Bay, as the autographed pictures of famous people on the wall attested to.  I’ll just say those days were long gone.  🙂  But it was an experience.  

Anyway, it was the most relaxing week of my life.  I read like 7 books.  And I cannot explain just how wonderful that breakfast on the balcony experience was every morning.  


3.  Chincoteague Island, Virginia.  Though we gave up our Chincoteague vacation in 2005, God allowed us to go in 2006.  We stayed in this amazing house that had everything we needed while we were there.  That house was perfect!  The backyard had a screened in gazebo, where we had a picnic one evening.  There was a covered sandbox for the children.  The grill was enough to make me want to start grunting and cooking with fire!  The shed had beach umbrellas and toys and everything we could ever imagine needing.  There were board games and toys and videos, which came in handy on a couple rainy days.  Even cooking in the giant kitchen seemed like more fun than work!  

We loved the beach and the lighthouse and the birds and animals over on Assateague.  We loved trying to catch glimpses of the wild ponies.  We really loved the quiet small-town feel of the island.  And we enjoyed trying out all three ice cream places on Chincoteague.  

The children had an excellent time.  We made some wonderful memories.  Everyone behaved better; we were all more cheerful; we enjoyed each other.  It was just a dream vacation!  (And because we went in early June, it was still off-peak season and the rates on the house were cheaper.  We rented that huge house, which sleeps ten, for a whole week for less than a thousand dollars.  We ate almost all our meals there.  We did eat at a local pizza place one evening. And, of course, we splurged for ice cream three times.)  

Some day, we want to go back. 


So, how about you?  What are your 3 favorite vacations?


Filed under Family, life, miscellaneous

Do you dive in or ease in?

When I get down to the pool early in the morning, the moon shining overhead, I am in no hurry to dive in.  Every morning, it’s the same.  I stand on the cement deck thinking how much I’d rather be in bed.  I put down my towel and water bottle and take off my cover-up.  Then I put on my swim cap and walk toward the water.  

As I stand inches away from the unheated pool in the 65-degree air, I rub my hands together and take a deep breath.  Then I begin to inch my way in.  One foot on the first step.  I shiver.  The other foot on the first step.  The cold water swirls around my ankles as I take a deep breath and step down to the next step.  

Little-by-little, I ease my way into the water.  Some mornings I think I’m slowly numbing my body in the cold water, bit by bit.  When I am up to my waist, I take a deep breath and submerge myself up to my chin.  Then I move my arms around and jog in place to warm up.  Gradually I begin to feel warmer and the water doesn’t feel so bad.  

Then I am ready to swim. And I prepare myself to push off for my first lap.  

Of course, while I am working through the motions of my ease into the pool, my swimming partner, Julie, jumps in, sits down on the second step, straps on her flippers, and swims her first two or three laps.  

For the first several mornings, Julie would be ready to swim and I’d be standing on the second step, reminding myself of all the reasons for being out there in the dark.  And Julie would look up at me and ask, “You OK?”  Now, I guess she knows that I’m going to slowly ease my way in. 

The first morning, I tried to jump right in and start swimming laps.  But the cold water took my breath away.  In that painful, my blood is now freezing inside my veins, I really can’t breathe at all, every shallow breath feels like I’m being stabbed in the chest, sort of way.  I couldn’t breathe well the entire half-hour I swam, and I didn’t really breathe normally until after I was showered and dressed and getting the children up.  

The next morning, I tried my easing-my-way-in technique, and it worked much better for me.  Julie’s diving-in works for Julie, but my easing-in works for me.  In trying to be like Julie, I almost froze the breath right out of me.

So, which are you?  Are you like my friend Julie?  Do you jump right in and get moving?  Or are you like me?  Do you ease your way in, bit-by-bit getting used to the water?  Or do you have a completely different way of getting in?


Filed under exercise, life