Monday, March 12, 2007

God's Creatures Good - Visitors Bad

God's Creatures Good - Visitors Bad

Leslie and I ended up with an unwanted visitor on our apartment balcony. Over the winter, we kept our bikes, some patio furniture, and a cooler under a tarp on our 2nd floor apartment balcony. The weeks leading up to our trip to Peoria for three weeks, we heard some noises outside our windows, but I (Mike) didn't think anything of it (Leslie did, but I continually calmed her by saying it was nothing). When we returned from our three weeks away, I went out onto our balcony to see if we could store something inside our cooler. I lifted the tarp to reveal debris. As I lifted some more, I saw some excrement. I thought to myself "How in the world did a cat get up here?" I pulled the tarp a little further and saw some dark fur and two large eyes staring at me. IT WAS A RACCOON!!!!

Knowing enough about raccoons, that they can be dangerous when cornered, I threw the tarp down and ran back into the apartment. I went up to our leasing office to find out if they had any ideas. The complex owns a live animal trap (as our complex is completely lined with trees, raccoons are apparently a common occurrence). Leslie was out grocery shopping, so I called and had her pick up a can of cat food (as apparently raccoons love cat food). Who ever knew cats like Salmon, Tuna and seashell stuff. Leslie was overwhelmed by the variety to choose from- much less, what would a raccoon like?

Dave, our maintenance supervisor brought the trap over to our apartment and set the trap on our balcony. We then waited for nightfall. We heard a couple of different noises on the balcony, so we decided to take a look. We discovered the can of cat food outside of the trap and completely empty. That raccoon was smart.

On Saturday during the day, I decided to see if the raccoon was still there. I lifted the tarp as I had done before, and didn't see anything. It was then that I discovered that the debris I had seen was the foam that previously had covered the handle bars of my bike. I lifted more of the tarp to discover that both of the seats on Leslie's and my bike and been eaten through and the foam centers were part of the debris on our balcony.

Not seeing the raccoon under the tarp, I began to pull the tarp to the other side of the balcony to reveal the total extent of the damage. I got to near the end of the tarp only to discover the raccoon had wrapped himself up in the tarp like it was a blanket and he was taking a nap after a nice big meal of cat food.

I dropped the tarp once again and ran back into the apartment. My bravery (or is it my stupidity, I'm not sure which) built up and I took another stab at pulling back the tarp. This time, the raccoon lazily got up out of the tarp and back into the corner.

At this point, I was determined that we were going to catch this guy. Leslie went to the store and bought a couple more cans of cat food. This time we decided to secure the cat food can to the cage. Around 7pm Sat. night we heard the raccoon stuck in the trap. "Ah, Poor guy" Leslie would think but then "you little stinker" for chewing our bikes.

Rest assured the raccoon was taken to a garage for safe keeping till the wildlife people could take him and release it FAR away. That's the story of Rocky the Raccoon adventure in the newlywed's (Rebs) abode.

Super What?

Volume 2 - Issue 3
Super What?

Last month while in Peoria for a support trip my sister-in-law, niece and I (Leslie) had a girl’s night out. We attended a minor league hockey game with a Post-game concert, Superchic[k]. I want to share with you my experience at this rock concert , as I think it will give you perspective about Keynote bands. Oh yes, I need to add that Superchic[k] is a Christian band. My niece was ecstatic as she stood among all the teens jumping up and down waving their lighted cell phones in the dark arena. Wow, to think these teens were having clean-fun at a Christian rock concert!

The 5 member band was authentic- in that clothes they wore- the fans could identify with then, as well as the aggressive style rock music. One of Keynote’s values is authenticity. An audience is quick to pick up on if the artists are real or faking it. (As Mike would say he can’t pull off wearing an earring.)

Although, a gospel presentation was not given at the Superchic[k] concert, the lead singer, Trisha, did share from her heart. Keynote offers 2 styles of concerts, Pre-evangelist and Evangelistic. Pre-evangelistic is where the band does a concert sharing personal stories from stage about life. In an Evangelistic concert a personal story is shared but it doesn’t stop there, the full gospel presentation is then given.

Prior to Superchic[k]’s encore song, “Stand in the Rain” the singer explained how the song represents the culminating events (struggles, trials, heartache, death of loved ones, brokenness) in the bands lives over the last few years. Trisha put it so succinctly, “This song resembles journal entries of our experiences.” As the stadium stood in silence she continued, saying in the “hard stuff, God is what kept them going. We have hope in our faith and in God.” How incredible admist this rock concert the musicians proclaimed their hope in God.

Sidelined & Sanctified

Our hearts were struck by a sermon we recently heard “Sidelined Saints.” We want to share this with you. The idea of sidelined is best seen in an injured football player who sits on the sideline for the season. That player might not be on the field, but they can encourage their team and play a valuable part of the team.

As we have been raising support together since getting married, it’s been a time of challenges, growth, disappointments as well as blessings. Our main focus and responsibility at this time is to raise our financial needs goal as a couple. Why you may ask? Campus Crusade for Christ desires/values to see that their staff are fully-funded laborers sent to the field so they can fully focus on the ministry.

In the same way as the football player, we may feel like we have been sidelined during this time, but this is the ministry that God has called us to. We have not been sidelined. God has us right where we are. We are grateful for this gift of time to grow and minister to each other as a newly married couple.

We have seen God work on our character- transforming us in our spiritual walk with Him. We believe God is just beginning something amazing in ministry as we raise our support together right now! The Lord has blessed our first 7 months of being newlyweds.

Mike spoke at the Bradley University, Campus Crusade meeting.

While visiting our sending church, we had the opportunity to share prayer requests and give a ministry update at a Sunday evening service.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Return Home

Return Home

Leslie and I just returned home from spending about 3 weeks in Peoria (Mike's home town). It was a fun time getting together with some current ministry partners and them introducing us to some of their friends through hosting a dinner. It was a lot of fun to get together with so many different people. We were challenged at the same time as we spent 3 weeks on the road and we were challeneged through the sermons we heard at my (Mike's) home church. You'll hear more about one of those in our upcoming newsletter.