Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Garden Blessings

Last summer we set apart a 10 by 30 foot area in our backyard - the perfect spot to have a veggie garden again. Our son, Lance, came out and helped us prepare the soil, and border it with 4x4 cedar wood to set it off from the rest of our yard. 

All the preparation of the garden spot last year made it so much easier when it came time for planting this year. Gary planted our veggies, and also some decorative flowers in late May/early June. The straw covering the garden soil (from the year before) kept the soil so moist and fertile. I'm thankful for my hubby and his "green thumb"! The garden is so productive, and also so beautiful. 

We just arrived back from two weeks at our staff conference in Colorado, and hoped that our garden had survived the heat of the past two weeks. How exciting for us to find that the garden had not only survived, but had flourished! (Thanks to two "angels" who came and watered our garden faithfully while we were gone - thanks, Tim & Audrey!)

I had picked out some ornamental pole beans to try this year - they add such a beautiful touch to the garden! They look great climbing up the teepee frames that Lance had made for us last summer.

Our first day home we enjoyed some fresh goodness from our garden - cucumbers, green beans, and potatoes. A wonderful welcome home!

Thanking God for His gifts to us ...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cru Staff Conference 2013

We always look forward to our every-other-year Cru Staff Conference, and this year was no exception. And this year was our eleventh trip traveling to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, for this valuable time of training and learning together with other Cru staff. Our time in Fort Collins was broken down into three different segments.

 Cru High School Ministry Days

Our first few days were spent together with other Cru High staff from all across the nation, and some from around the world. Such a rich time: hearing from our Executive Director, Darryl Smith - always pointing us to First Love ... Level 316 leading us in worship (such a great time of worship!) ... and learning from other staff through discussions around our tables and over meals together. 

Finishing off our time together with ice-cream sundaes

Legacy Track

Next, and overlapping with Cru High Ministry Days, was the first-ever Legacy Track. A few days together with other staff who are over 60 - and yes, we qualify for that category! We loved our time of sharing and learning from fellow staff in the same season of life that we are in. It was one of the many highlights of our time in Colorado.

Visit with Uncle Sherwood & Aunt Marion

We had a morning and afternoon free after the first two segments of our time came to a close. We drove from Fort Collins to nearby Loveland, where we met up with Uncle Sherwood & Aunt Marion - a special treat to spend some together with this sweet couple! 

Cru Staff Conference

Our six days of all-staff conference started out with a County Fair - especially enjoyed by the families present. It brought back memories for us of when we attended conference with our kids ... all six of our kids were with us for our very first staff conference in 1991! And now, we are attending as "empty nesters" - how the years fly by! 

One of our Cru Omaha staff families enjoying the ferris wheel ...

Our next six days were filled with sessions - mornings, afternoons, and also evenings. A very full schedule of listening, learning, and connecting with staff. We took time our first full day to have lunch together with our Cru Omaha staff team - what a treat to have each of them there with us!

Mornings and evenings found all of staff (about 5,000!) in Moby Arena for great times of worship, and valuable learning times as we listened to our leaders (Steve Douglass, Steve Sellers, Mark Gauthier, and more), and also to speakers such as Alistair Begg, James White, and many others. Our journals are filled with notes, and we will be processing and integrating all that we heard and learned in the coming days and weeks.

Welcoming the new staff who have joined Cru since our last time together two years ago

An especially memorable time was when we were led through worship in some very creative ways, culminating in the lighting of candles signifying Jesus lighting our lives with His love. A breath-taking time as the creative team led us through the time of worship, using several different tangible objects to give extra meaning to truths of God's Word.

Afternoons were spent attending various seminars that were offered. We attended some very helpful ones, giving us new ideas for ministry partner development, more ideas on using technology, and thought-provoking insight on connecting with our changing culture and being able to love people and draw them to Jesus. 

We thank and praise God for allowing us to serve together with other staff of like-mind. A wide variety of ministries under Cru (the U.S. division of Campus Crusade for Christ) - and many different focuses - but all, with a common vision and common purpose. And what we love and appreciate most of all in serving with Cru is that we are always pointed to our First Love, pursuing Jesus with our whole hearts. And all the serving and ministry is an overflow from this.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Beginnings

As we drove to Colorado earlier this month for our every-other-year Cru Staff Conference, we asked God to use the next eleven days for whatever purposes He desired. Eleven days of a break from our normal routine ... eleven days to listen to God through speakers, music, and to other staff from all across our nation and around the world. And we desired to learn all that God wanted to teach us. 

From those eleven days ...

God has filled us up with Him, with truths from His Word, and with new insight and encouragement as we return home to family and to ministry. From the Cru High Ministry Days, to the Legacy Track Days, to the six days of Staff Conference - God has given us much. We will be processing, and integrating all that we have heard into our hearts and minds in the days and weeks ahead, asking God to use it all for His purposes.

And a new beginning ...

In the past we had a blog where we shared photos and news from our home and family, as well as from the ministry He has called us to. When the providers of that blog closed their services down about two years ago, we lost our family/ministry blog. 

Since then, our Cru Omaha blog has become our new online home for sharing Cru Omaha news, what God is doing in the lives of high school students through Cru in the Omaha area. And now, today, we are opening up this new blog to share news from our home and family, and also from our own lives as we are involved in ministry. A place where we'll keep in touch with family and friends, as well as with those who pray for and give financially as we serve through Cru.