Sunday, October 29, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Today along with folks from the EPC and UGA we had a couple of family members from the great white north (New Hampshire to be exact). They worked with Fran, who is still in a FEMA trailer 14 months after Katrina hit. Here is her house, which had 14 feet of water in it. We work along side many people, some who might not be browsing the web much, but who are skilled carpenters none the less. Aunt Carol, who really got the hang of tearing stuff up. The whole crew of which LPC supplied 2, the one behind the camera, and the one in the front right. Thanks for the help -- there is still a lot to do, come down and visit if you can!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
It was a good day today sharing what God is doing in the Bay. I was able to speak at my home church Willow Creek (Orlando not Chicago). The senior pastor, Pete Alwinson, was away and while I really enjoy Pete's preaching whenever he is not there Steve Brown is. Steve is one of my heros and it was a joy to be there this morning with him. He teaches at RTS Orlando and has a Nationally Syndicated Radio Broadcast. You can check him out at www.keylife.org I spoke at the three services and was able to talk with a lot of people about our work. It truly is an infectious report, not because of what I said but because of what God does. You can see people light up knowing that there might be more to what they experience...and they want some of it. There was talk of setting up several trips between now and April. I was also able to connect with people who are connected with people who can give us stuff-like construction materials; carpet, tile, laminant flooring,etc... Please continue praying. I have three appointments tomorrow.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thomas Wolfe declared it, experience shouts it, and Scripture gives authority to the reality, "You Can't Go Home Again." Yesterday Kelly and I arrived to what I believe is the most glorious and beautiful state in the nation, Florida. I used to think that no matter where I was, in whatever country or state, I was defined by the state that was my home for almost forty years. In South Africa I was a Floridian. In Mississippi I am a Floridian. But I can't shake the haunting words I heard both African Americans and South Africans use to describe their existance and identity to a geographical place. When asked where they lived their reply was, "I stay in Kenilworth," or "I stay in North Biloxi." For some their reply is rooted in a lack of ownership but for others it is the reality of life. They are not bound by any one place, rather live life within a broader community. I live simultaneously in The City of God and The City of Man. In the City of God I am a citizen. My home is elsewhere, as C.S. Lewis described, with the "Emperor Over The Sea,"with God Himself. In the City of Man I "stay," a resident alien. Here I am no more a Floridian than I am a Mississippian. I have been in Orlando two days now and it is true, "You Can't Go Home Again." As much as I want to make this place my home it truly is the place I stay. The best places change. Here I am a stranger and an alien. One day, some day however it will not be so. God promises it and Jesus assures it. The Cross reminds me that the redemption which is individually know to the Saints will one day be revealed to all of creation. The effects of the fall will be undone. The curse will be removed. All things will be restored. My deepest heart's longing for "that place" will be known and experienced. Until then, the redemptive work of God's Lagniappe advances through the proclamation of the Gospel, the renewing of individuals, families, and communities.Please pray for our time in Florida. We will be speaking to churches, leaders, and presbyteries- seeking prayer, recruiting teams, and encouraging the Saints with reports of God's work in the Bay.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
"Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them (Pharoah and his chariots). "In your mercy you have led forth the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. Exodus 15:11-13 You would have to go back to the early blogs to see some of these pictures. We talk about where we have come from but it's so easy to forget. Today I pulled out my old digital camera and found these pictures on the memory card, circa early May. Like the ancient Israelites, looking back gives confidence for the present and the future. Memorials were built, songs were written, festivals were established, all to remember. Here are our "Lagniappe Memorials," along with commentary. Remembering the promises of God and His mighty deeds.
Jean and Mike "The Man" Polombo, Lagniappe's friend from Home Depot. Seen here Jordan is hauling debris from the pad where many of our bunkhouses now sit. There was so much debris that we didn't know there was a concrete slab. 18 semi-tractor trailers were necessary to haul the debris to the landfill. The top photo shows completed bunkshouses on the site.
Outside the bathroom. Note the plumbing to the left. A platform was build, elevating the floor and providing 22 showers, 12 toilets, and 10 sinks.
Today: Commercial bathrooms plus two walk in freezers donated by the manufacturer. The truck belongs to John Henry our worship leader, a recent MS State graduate and worship leader from RUF. He "just" showed up, having taken a job with a local civil engineer firm in Gulfport. His arrival is just as significant as building completion.
Commercial kitchen incomplete, sunroof open, side door not yet installed, and makeshift kitchen. These were great but crazy times.
A friend from Jackson with staffer, Andy Chapman. One hundred new mattresses were delivered for the hundreds of volunteers scheduled to arrive in June. At this time there were only one or two bunkhouses completed, an ability to house a mere 88. Were we stupid, ambitious, or trusting? Maybe all of the above.
Debris everywhere. We didn't go anywhere without a can of fix a flat.
Rejoicing that we could pay for supplies.
A comfortable place to relax solo or a place to debrief with a team at the end of a long day.
This is what it looked like when we moved in. Sean Loften, demolition expert and friend from Chatanooga. Actually Sean is a grad student from Chattanooga and the creator of the Lagniappe promo video. Seen here Sean is tearing down offices from the old West Building.
Before. Jean posing while Carson Day looks on from above. Carson came to serve and left with a wife, all within a period of several months.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Last night, we had tour buses pull up and start to unload. I didn't get photos but it was great to see folks back in the Bay, helping do the work of the Kingdom. For all of you that are thinking of coming, and planning to come for sure, it is a HUGE encouragement to drive around and see volunteers out working again. On my way across town today, I (for the first time in a while) saw 2 groups of volunteers working on houses. I hadn't noticed any work being done by volunteers in a while. It's great to have you all here, and I look forward to seeing many more of you down soon. Special shout-out to Parker and Mason -- good to have some Jackson boys, Kalberkamp pres continues to represent!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Yesterday Jean and I drove 3 hours to speak 10 minutes at a presbytery meeting in North Florida. Last month I spoke in Asheville and Atlanta and Saturday to a ladies group in Hattiesburg. At the end of this month I drive to Orlando, once again to tell the story of what God is doing in the Bay. I feel like one who has just returned from Narnia, telling others to remember that such a place really exists, the place where Aslan walks and speaks clearly. I can see in their eyes the excitement they once knew and have now forgotten. "Yes, there really is such a place," I remind them. Jesus is so very real. There is such deep joy, but there is a price because there's no resurrection without death. There's no joy without loss. That's the paradox of Christianity, the law of inverse affects. The way up is the way down. It's when I'm weak that I'm strong. It's when I seek to save my life that I loose it yet when I loose it for His sake I find the abundant life that He promised. And I'm so very afraid...that one day I'll be sitting in a pew somewhere, with someone telling me to remember...that I will one day forget, having been away from Narnia for too long. Please pray for the work here. Sometimes it gets very hard. Please pray for our speaking engagements. Jean speaks at a missions conference this weekend. Please pray that God would ignite the hearts of his hearers with the vision for the work here, and that yes Jesus walks and speaks clearly in the Bay. May it be so everywhere one day.
Monday, October 09, 2006
June may have been the last time that I have posted on this here Blog. Curt seems to be very faithful at blogging but I blame that on the coffee. If I averaged six shots of expresso a day I also would need many outlets for all that caffiene. Today I blog so as not to be one of the nine. Jesus heals the lepors and only one returns to thank Him. Not being one of the nine is a common expression here at Lagniappe, that along with many other expressions but that is a whole other blog. The thougth is not to forget to thank Jesus for the many blessings and incredible happenings that He is working right in front of us on a daily basis. A high percentage of the posts on this blog are about just such things. I often posted after a day that God's hand was evident, but now I haven't posted for some time. Today, we had a couple from Wisconsin that we had worked with earlier back in the Morrell days stop by and want to work with us for the week. I had just hung up the phone with Mary Perkins, who if we could finish the hanging, mudding, and taping of the sheetrock on her house, which was just started last Monday, she had someone who could finish the painting and texture the walls, moving her so close to getting in her home. Two volunteers show up and are the answer to prayer that this homeowner wants answered so desperately. I do not want to be one of the nine and I will praise God for even seemingly so little workings in the big scheme and number of volunteers that run through this place. Its not that these things do not take place anymore, its just that I have probably nine times out of ten not returned to thank Jesus and 1 out of 100 times not blogged about these things. Continue to pray for Lagniappe but thank God everytime you pray for this place because He has already done incredible things and will continue to work His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I don't recall exactly when we adopted Festivus. I think it was during Spring break when Jean and I were talking at Lagniappe's first staging site, a peninsula in the back of Buchaneer State Park in Waveland. Knowing the interpersonal challenges we would face we determined to establish a weekly forum for repentance and reconcilliation. Since I am able to recall more movie and tv trivia than Scripture references, I told Jean how that sounded an aweful lot like Festivus, the fictional holiday made famous on an episode of Seinfeld. At Festivus families and friends gather at the dinner table for "The Airing of Grievances," a time for shouting all the ways a person has disappointed you over the past year. This is followed by "Feats of Strength." Lagniappe Festivus is the application of Matthew 18. We don't shout how people have disappointed us or wrestle them to the ground. We humbly go to a brother or sister who has hurt us, seeking restoration and reconciliation. It is an attempt to establish a pattern for repentance to God and to each other. As a testimony, I believe Festivus has kept us from devouring one another. Several times I have come to Festivus with anger and resentment and left with a renewed love for Jesus and deeper love and respect for my brothers and sisters. If you want to learn more about Festivus check out this website: http://www.vidlit.com/festivus/
Monday, October 02, 2006
Meri Spencer (Wisconson native- yellow shirt and cheeze on the head above) was the recepient of a 'surprize' Packer party tonight at Lagniappe. Thanks to Kathy Spencer for the hard work and the Brats!
A few years ago someone sent me an e-mail called the "Quarter Life Crisis". By way of background it was one of those 'forward it to a friend' e-mails and essentially was being forwarded around to the "twenty-somethings" who we're asking the big questions in life. I wrote a 'counter-point' to the Quarter Life crisis. A good friend asked me today for that e-mail. The response is what follows. ********************************* The Crisis of the "Quarter Life Crisis" Somewhere along the way someone promised everyone 'tomorrow'. Somewhere along the way we were supposed to make more money than our parents, be happier, more fulfilled, wiser, more sensitive and more open-minded. Somewhere along the way we decided that the script was up to us. So we planned... and we dreamed... and we educated ourselves... and we got the best degree... and we made all the contacts... and we shook all the hands... and we smiled at all the parties... and we started climbing to the top... We defined the 'top' It was money. It was success. It was happiness. It was marriage. It was children. It was every page out of every L.L. Bean catalog we've ever seen. Sitting by the fire with a golden retriever. Having a snowball fight with a model. Having a coy look at our fiance on a wharf in Nantucket. Sipping cider from a $225 cast Iron pot with a pine cone painted on the side of it. That was the top. But on the way up something happened. We met people coming down. Money wasn't enough, or there fast enough, or it was just spent as soon as it was acquired. They weren't successful at being 'sucesses'. People wanted them to work, labor, sweat, and earn respect. A college degree and 2 years of Poly-sci wasn't enough to make them the office expert. Hapiness was making them very unhappy. Sad things happend to them. They weren't supposed to- other people got cancer, other people's parent's divorced or died, other people had their hearts broken. But we started to realize we we're the 'other' people. Marriages were tumbling down. There were friends with 2 year old children who had step mommies and step daddies. The 50% divorce rate was not supposed to affect my life, my friends. I never dreamed that half of the weddings I was IN would end in divorce. There were lots of people on the way down, lots of them. And so we hoped for tomorrow, a better day, a better job, a better marriage, a better life. Somewhere, someplace, somehow we would get to 'hapiness'. Everyone else must have been wrong. It must have been them. It must have been their parents. Everyone else is screwed up. But in the back of our seared consciences there is a nagging thought, like a hair in our mouths, that maybe, just maybe, it's us. We've seen glimpses of it. Anger, Selfishness, Bitterness, Pride, Envy, and deceit. But we ALWAYS plugged our ears. And it never went away- a hollow groan from our souls telling us that it WAS us. We used to joke with friends saying, "It's all about me." But it really was. Depressed. Lonely. Sad. Discouraged. Let down by our own dreams. And we we're only 20-something. And then someone called it the 'Quarter-Life Crisis'. And we said, "Yes!" That's it! That's how I feel! That is my life! There's just one question: Are you sure it's "Quarter-life"? Who promised everyone tomorrow? Why is today not your 1/2 life crisis or the 3/4 life crisis or the 'life' crisis? Somewhere, even in our diagnosis, the disease shows up again. It's only 'Quarter-Life' we say. It won't always be like this. Keep climbing. Keep going. The people coming down are the exceptions, not the rule. It's only 'Quarter-Life'. Maybe the echos of emptiness from all the relationships, jobs, and toys were just shallow echos. Maybe this isn't the way up, maybe this is actually the way down. Maybe the broken empty people are closer to the truth, than the idealistic ones on the way 'up'. Maybe the bottom is much further down. There is a "Mid-Life" Crisis you know. It comes after the "Quarter-life" crisis. How could that be? Could it be that things get worse, not better? Could it be that after all these crises we're still NOT there yet... Why do old people talk so much? Why do they sit in parks and watch the birds? Why do they take an hour to eat a meal? Why do they still write letters with paper and pen? Maybe they know what Solomon knew. Meaningless, Meaningless, he said. It is all a 'chasing after the wind'. Money. Jobs. Marriage. Good Kids. Vacation homes. Nice cars. Ski boats. and Happiness. When you grasp for them you grasp at vapor, nothingness. There is nothing solid except Him. Over and over Solomon says in the Book of Ecclesiasted that all things lack meaning UNTIL we see God as the author of all things, all times, all places, all seasons and all lives. That same God has promised tomorrow to no one. Neither has He promised you 'today'. The breath you breathe today is a gift from Him. The life you live is a gift from Him. The crisis is not a 'Quarter-life' crisis. It is a Life Crisis. It is as old as solomon. It is a Life Crisis of living for tomorrow, for 'things' to get better, for it 'all to work out'. Today is yesterday's tomorrow. Is it better? Has it all worked out? Does it really help to know that an entire generation of people are as miserable as you are? Maybe your script was wrong Maybe your plans were miscalculated. Maybe it was just 'all about you.' Maybe the script wasn't up to us. Maybe the 'Quarter-life' crisis was a part of His script.Maybe God hasn't left me, maybe He's left me with only Himself. Maybe the emptiness of 'Quarter-life' is a greater blessing than finding out at 'mid-life'. Not in a preachy, funky, churchy way, but maybe, just maybe, Jesus was right. Maybe when He said, "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly..." He was right. Maybe the emptiness of everything you have been grasping was to leave you with only Him. You don't have to forward this. You don't have to send it to 5 friends. Just ask yourself, what is the meaning of the meaninglessness? Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life.