Friday, July 25, 2008

One last trip

We're off again for our final trip of the summer...also known as the beginning of football season for the Ransleben household. So for those of you who know me's time to kick up the prayers a notch or two for me!

We're headed to San Antonio for a few days of hanging out together...I'll be back with lots more time to write here since Wayne will be gone every evening!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Update on Cassie

She's doing great! They had no bad moments really...just sat in a stuffy hotel room watching everything blow! She said it was amazing to be in...though that will do her for another 18 years. I, for one, am glad to hear it!

It was kind of fun to get to call her throughout it and get updates on what the damage was and what it was like. Much different than when I was her age and dependent on landlines.

They have decided since power will be out for an indefinite period of time to leave today to go to San Antonio...which might sound like fun, except that our whole family will be there starting this weekend! She'll be our advance scout, I guess. I'm hoping she got pictures for us...we'll let you know...

We are grateful that God chose once again to keep her here for a while longer! He gives and takes away...and no matter which He chooses, His Name is to be blessed...

Mama, I'm super!

One of the things I love most about Katharine is how much she delights in her children. They are so unique and she makes the most of what God has given them. So, she kicks balls with Henry, plays pretend with Emma Kate and puts all the toys back in the basket so Lauren can joyfully take them all out again.

Katharine and Henry at Lake Burton...

So, it was no surprise to me when she held up her newest sewing creation...a red and black (How 'bout them Georgia Bulldogs!) superhero cape for Henry! You see one day he came in to her with a blanket draped around his shoulders and said (Say it slowly and put as much southern drawl into this as you possibly can!), "Mama. Look at me! I'm super!" She laughed again as she told me the story and returned the praise to him, "You sure are, Henry!" So, of course, she said she had to make him a cape...and well, we're going to the lake where we'll be with Henry's cousins, Will and Drew...can't leave them out. And if they all have one, there's no way Emma Kate won't want one...and then only Lauren would be left out! Well, there you go. Can't have that!

So, with the help of God Himself (right, Katharine?!), we packed up the car with the four of them and the three of us, all our luggage and her sewing machine! And off to the lake where Katharine took the precious hours that the kids were asleep to make them all feel super.

The Super Kids in their super capes...with Pops looking on proudly...

Which is not really surprising. She's really excellent at making those of us around her feel super...about who we are...about her delight in us...about her delight in what the Lord has made and done in her day...and about her delight in her Savior.

God has gifted her in the same fashion he gifted those long ago for his tabernacle...
And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting...and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests...Exodus 31:6b,10a
He still gives amazing and varying gifts to His church to complete the task appointed to us. I'm so grateful to witness Katharine following these great men in the task of making finely worked garments for our sons (and daughters!) and their service to the Lord. Another gift from the Lord through Katharine in my life that spurs me on to running harder after my Savior by serving others with great creativity.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Building up by digging deep

Mark & Amy, Sarah, Molly, Cassie and Wayne

As I mentioned last week, Wayne and Cassie returned from the Ukraine. In the beginning the thought was that our sister church in Bila Tserkva (about 30 miles southwest of Kiev) would have their new campsite completed and our team would join them to put on a camp for kids. Then about a week before leaving, they learned they would instead be working in order to get the camp ready for kids to come later. So, out went the playdoh and in came the work gloves and clippers.

When I think of a camp, I think of cabins for sleeping...a larger area for meeting...a kitchen and eating area...maybe a nice outdoor rec area. That's pretty much what Wayne found last year when he went and worked a camp with them. But that one was just rented for the time they were there. Now they have their own...or rather they're building their own. One day they'll have it all, God willing. But for now they have just the skeleton of it.

The sleeping cabins... Wayne's the guy in jeans walking in. The ladder got you to the only place there was cell reception!

It was ironic to me that last year it was mostly guys on the trip...Mark and Amy's two sons, Alex and Nick, went along. They got to play with the kids. This year it's construction and God put together a group of girls to go. I'm so grateful to say that Amy said the girls did a great job clearing the soccer field...literally by scooping up one shovelful at a time and clearing out the weeds, grass and rocks.

The youth pastor from our "niece" church praying at the camp (our sister church has planted a church!).

The Ukrainian youth girls took what he was sitting on, these huge pillars made of brick and concrete, hammered the bricks apart, sorted the materials and made...

Ukrainian building supplies...

Wayne and Mark had another job...digging trenches. This is where the language barrier can be a little frustrating. They were shown with hand signs to dig a trench but couldn't quite get the idea of what it was being built for. Later they realized that they needed not only lines for plumbing and electricity (neither of which was available this trip), but they were mostly building retaining walls for the pad that the cabins were sitting on. Some of the columns were left intact and lifted by crane into the trenches and then re-filled with dirt. They are amazing at using what they have to do what they need done.

It's wonderful what the Lord can do when His people get together. Our team went really not knowing what they'd be doing, not speaking the language...and returned missing friends already. Wayne came home talking about what we could do as a family next year there. What supplies we'd need and how much Russian we can learn between now and next summer. Cassie is helping me with my pronunciation of what she's picked up already. The trip has grown her, changed her, firmed up so much of what God has been showing her. Aisley just came over my shoulder to say, "I can't wait to get there and see everyone." Brennan is so excited to finally go.

And me? It's just the answer to a prayer begun over 8 years ago for God to reach my husband and give him a heart for the global church that he might lead our family into missions in some way. That's all. Now it's easy to see how He has prepared Wayne all of his life to do this very thing. So, I'm so grateful to God they went...I'm grateful that He saw fit to bring them home again...and I am crying even now in gratitude that He might give us a heart to go again. We are no different than anyone else, stuck in this day-to-day distraction. Every now and then, though, by His grace, our eyes lift to the end and we remember why we've been left and what we're to be about...

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

And what we are working towards...

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rest in a storm

(UPDATE: I just realized that the nifty little picture I had from the National Hurricane Center was updating itself...great idea...unless, of course, like me you wanted to show just the one shot! Here's the one I meant it to have.)

See that "H" on top of the red border of Texas? The spot where they're expecting the hurricane to hit? Yeah. That's where Cassie is...South Padre Island. She's on her annual trip with our good friends, the Cables. He attends a medical conference and brings along his wife and three boys. Cassie has joined them for the last 3 or 4 years to babysit so they get some alone time and Jill gets help with three amazingly energetic boys! baby in a hurricane zone...what would you do? Where does your mind go to find rest? How would you sleep at night? How much TV would you watch to track the storm??

I could rest today in the wisdom of Christian Cable to see to their safety...he is an oncologist, after all...a smart, wise man who knows the value of life, loves his family, cares greatly for Cassie. I could trust in the wisdom of those in charge of the evacuations down there. They've been through this before and learned many lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I could even think about Cassie. She's a great young woman, wise in her understanding of situations like this. She's definitely one to look to in a crisis, level headed, can-do personality, caretaker.

But this is futile thinking and will bring no peace. It was never meant to. Weighing the situation to determine the wisest course of action is one thing. Placing my trust in the wisdom of man to alleviate my fears is another. The Bible is clear:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6
Thinking about situations and weighing options are different than leaning on them...what I can see can not bear my weight. It will not hold me up...especially in my fear. It is one thing to think about the Cables and Cassie. It is another to make what I know my place of rest. God alone will be my rest and He will not give that glory to another. But He's not surprised that I try again and again to turn to others instead of Him for rest and confidence. He told me I would...
For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and in trust shall be your strength."
But you were unwilling...
Isaiah 30:15
To know God is to know our only place of rest, of quietness, of trust...but I am often so unwilling. This morning He was gracious to me as He caused me to arise with His Word in my mind. Here's what the Lord reminded me of...
Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, "Thus far shall you come, and no farther and here shall your proud waves be stayed"?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say, "Here we are"?
Job 38:8-11, 16, 25-27, 34-35

So, I went to His Word and read all of Elihu's words in chapters 36-37 and then kept reading to the end of Job. I needed not understanding of my world and certainly not a better understanding of the storm, but a reminder of who God is. I needed to ask myself: Who is this God I serve? Theology...the study of of no value if it doesn't inform us, change us...especially in our fears.

This doesn't mean that there are not decisions to be made today as Cassie plays on the beach even as I write these words. But it does mean that my perspective of that storm has changed. I feel no fear for my eyes have seen the Lord of Glory and I am undone. By His grace alone, I will not walk according to what I can see, but by faith in the One who made this all to be.