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Strength for today

strength for today

“Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

When Hans and I began talking about starting a blog, of course the first hurdle was coming up with a name that would be catchy as well as capture the essence of what we would like to communicate with our life. As I tend to overthink everything, I figured it would take us weeks of tossing around ideas before we figured something out, so, to be honest, I was dreading it. It just so happened that the word ‘strength’ had been on my mind for another possible blog of my own. What does it mean to be strong? Where does that strength come from? How are we meant to use said strength? I decided to offer up the idea to use ‘strength’ somewhere in our blog name. Hans liked it, and somewhere in our deliberations one of us (I don’t remember who it was, though I would love to claim the superior creative genius in our partnership) said “strength for today”. It was perfect because it was catchy and called to mind the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. If there is anything Hans and I have learned in our life together it is that God is faithful.

At the time, I did not say anything about the deeper significance this beautiful hymn has for my heart. I was just pleased that it was going to be a part of our blog. Then, Hans started to hint at wanting me to write something. You will learn this about me, but I am a control freak and afraid of feeling like a failure. I didn’t feel like I should write anything until I had something “important” to say. That is one reason the line from this hymn is so relevant. Whose strength do we have each day? Ours? I hope not… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have been singing this hymn as the prayer of a broken, exhausted woman for more than six years. It has carried me through some of my darkest moments of fear and has in many ways become a my theme for motherhood. You see, I have sung that over each of my children in the middle of the night, when I have known that I am at the end of my strength. When I was pregnant with our first child, a woman at a baby shower gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me. She said I should pick a hymn for each child, and sing/pray that hymn for that child. I was really struggling with being pregnant because it had not happened the way I planned (like I said – control freak). After James was born, I found myself singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as I paced the floor of our tiny, dark apartment with a crying baby and overwhelmed by feelings of fear and inadequacy. I honestly don’t know who was soothed more, me or my baby. When Joanna was born, I tried to think of a different hymn, but always came back to the same one. She screamed because she was hungry and we had not yet figured out that I was not producing enough milk for her and made the switch to formula. Her screams made my ears ring and filled me with a guilt and a deep sense of inadequacy as a mother. At eight months pregnant with Ezekiel and still raw from Hans leaving on a deployment a week before, I held an almost two year old croupy Teddy in the middle of the night as he struggled to breathe through his terrible cough. I held him and sang. I cried and sang for myself, for my sick child, and for the child to be born with his father on the other side of the world.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

This is real. This is truth. When the world around us is spinning “out of control”, this remains true. God does not change, Nothing is out of His control. He is faithful. He is good. His promises are true. Fix your eyes, your mind, your heart on Him and who He is. Preach truth to your heart.

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

I have fallen in love with Psalm 104. The psalmist cannot contain his praise for God who not only created the world around him but is also intimately involved in its care. All of nature depends on Him to sustain it, and He is faithful to do so. Root yourself in the truth of God’s character and how His character is played out in how He cares for the world which He made. How much more does He faithfully care for all of the needs of those He calls his children?

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

What a blessing! Through Jesus, our sins are pardoned, and we are brought into His family to partake of the promises God made to Abraham. We can enter into His presence to find strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). I can rest assured that though I do not see the end of each valley, “[m]y help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). With that assurance, I can, with trembling body and voice, trust my God and sing:

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Blessings to you. I pray that this blog is a blessing to those who read it as the hymn that inspired the title has been to me.

Rachel

 

The Appointed Times, Pt. 1

Shofar and Menorah
Ram’s horn shofar and two menorah from Hans’ trip to Jerusalem

This year, we are celebrating the Biblical feasts, AKA “Mo’Edim”, or “Appointed Times”.  Leviticus 23 is one of the texts that gives us seven “appointed times”, several of which are called feasts, which God’s people are to observe each year.  This year will be the first year we will be celebrating all of them, and we are super excited!  We have three of them all happening this month!  Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, otherwise known as the Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), respectively.  Yom Teruah starts tomorrow night — (the eve of 9/10/2018) — and I have my shofar ready!  I bought a shofar in Jerusalem last year when I was blessed to be able to visit the city last year during a cultural/educational event.  I’ve since found out that most of the shofars sold in Jerusalem are actually imported from South Africa, but no matter.  It’s pretty hard to play, especially since I’m a string player, not a brass player.  I have no “chops” for a trumpet made out of a ram’s horn.  Still, I can blow it and make a sound, which is enough for me and the kids love because it is loud.  Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy loud sounds and a trumpet made out of a sheep’s horn?  Yom Teruah is translated literally as “Day of Shouting”, and traditionally as “Day of Trumpets.” In other words, it is a celebration with loud noises, probably involving blowing of trumpets.  The trumpet blast was used to announce important events, as part of celebrations, and in battle for intimidation, signalling, and posturing.  Exodus 19:5 depicts that the giving of the commandment was accompanied by the sound of a trumpet blast.  So the significance of the trumpet blast also represents the presence of God, the giving of the Torah, and God’s covenant to his people.  The trumpet blast will also one day announce Yeshua’s triumphal return! We are so excited to be observing the Biblical “holidays” this year!  We can’t observe them perfectly, but we can observe them in remembrance and “practice” for the real thing! There is so much to be learned and understood about our God by simply being willing to obey Him and follow his instructions! Rachel and I have grown so much in our love for, and our understanding of God’s Word, his grace, his love, and his character.  By simply humbling ourselves before God and submitting to him, to walk obediently, we have grown in our intimacy with the Father and have seen His blessings poured out on us.

Leviticus 23:23-25 says, “And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to Yahweh.”  

For those of you who are confused at all by the calendar, it’s fairly simple.  The Hebrew calendar is based on the cycles of the sun and moon, and also based on the crop cycles.  Each day begins at sunset, when the sun disappears and the next day begins (Genesis 1).  Each month begins at the time of the New Moon, when the moon disappears, and the next month begins (Ex 12:2 and others).  The beginning of the year is determined by the first new moon of the barley harvest, though there is debate regarding whether it is the first New Moon AFTER the ripening of the barley or if it could just be the New Moon CLOSEST to the time of the ripe barley.  There are also debates as to whether the month begins at the conjunction of the New Moon, when it is still dark, or whether it begins when the first sliver is seen AFTER the New Moon.  Point is, the New Moon is tonight/tomorrow, and it has been 7 months since the barley ripened, which makes tomorrow night the beginning of the 7th month.

agriculture arable barley blur
Ripe Barley

Ten days after Yom Teruah will be Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement — which is considered a “High Sabbath”.  The ten days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur are called the “High Holy Days.”  (High Sabbaths are Sabbath days that Yahweh commands us to observe in addition to the weekly Sabbath.)  On the 15th day of the seventh month, we have an 8-day festival called Sukkot — Feast of Tabernacles — when we will follow the instructions from Leviticus 23:33-44 and build a “booth” to live in for 7 days, followed by yet another High Sabbath and “holy convocation.”  More on this later as these days approach.

All of the instructions for the feasts can be found in the Torah, which is our source.  Blessings.

Hans out.

Repentance: weeding the garden

In Hebrew the word is שׁוּב (shuwb), as used in Ezekiel 18:30b: “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.”  “Shuwb”, translated as “repent”, means “to turn back, (hence, away) […] with the idea of return to the starting point.” — (Strong’s definitions.) In Greek, as used in Matthew 4:17, the word is “metanoeo,” meaning “to change one’s mind.”

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” The act of repentance is more than just a cerebral or trivial change of mind.  Repentance involves a deep commitment to real change that may start in the head, but is acted out in one’s life through choices and which will be seen and experienced by others.  When repentance truly occurs in the life of a believer, that believer must make changes that some might consider radical, extraordinary, unpopular, and even strange.   True repentance sets us apart — that is, it makes us holy to our God.  If you claim to be a disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), and yet you do not turn away from sin, you lie, and the truth is not in you (1 John 1:6).  Those are harsh words from John, but we should not be afraid to gently stir the pot in order to expose the sin in our lives and the lives of other brothers and sisters.

Repentance is not just turning away from one thing to another, like changing the channel on TV.  The Hebrew root of the word gives us the understanding that it is turning BACK to our original state — returning to our starting point.  What is that original state?  I believe the Bible teaches that our original state — our starting point — was one of perfect intimacy with the Father — trust, love, complete satisfaction, and perfect devotion to our Father in heaven.  This is what Adam had with God in Eden.  This is what Yeshua has with the Father.  This is what God wants for us.  Yeshua set an example of intimacy with God by his life of submission, love, and humility.  As I repent in my life, I look to his example and follow him.  Yeshua shows us how to live.  In Matthew 4:17, he says “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” I think another way to say that is “Come back to the ways of God, His door is open to you.” All throughout the Scriptures, we have instructions for righteous living.  I will just highlight a few verses from Ephesians 5.

“3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

There is so much I could get into with these verses, but I will only touch on a couple things.  First, we can please God (v. 10).  Coming from my background in one of the conservative, reformed traditions, the notion that we can actually please God was foreign to me.  It was nearly heretical.  I always understood that Scripture teaches that there is nothing that I can do that can gain God’s favor (which is true, but misunderstood).  I was taught that no effort or actions on my part meet with God’s approval or pleasure — it is only Jesus who has ever pleased God, and if I am saved, then God sees only Jesus when he looks at me.  While there is a certain element of truth to this, it also has untruth in it and is misunderstood, misleading and can be damaging to many believers.  Galations 2:20, for instance says that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”  And Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous acts are as filthy rags.”  This is a complex topic for another day, but this is what I used to understand based on my upbringing — that I am unable to please God.  While true in one sense, it does not remain true forever.  Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.”  It doesn’t say it is impossible to please God. It says without FAITH it is impossible to please him.  So then, we CAN actually be please our Father.  Where I come from, this was not taught, at least not like this.  But this also means that as children of God, we have responsibility that actually means something and has real and practical application.  Our lives and our choices actually do mean something to God.  Repentance is the key.  Turning away from sin is radical and life-altering, and the choice to repent must be made by the believer — no one else.  Repentance, which is an act of faith, is pleasing to God, but also, it is not just “an act” as we will see.

When we understand “repentance” to mean “turning away from one thing and returning to our starting point,” is it any wonder that as we look at the “Old Testament”, we see a pattern of God calling his children back to holiness by repentance?  The purpose of repentance is to bring us back to our original state — a state of holiness — a state of being set apart to God — different.  God gives his children instructions for holiness and righteousness, called Torah.  He desires his children to walk in HIS ways, not the ways of the nations around them.  He gives them His “kingdom rules” much the way a dad may give his kids “house rules.”  These are God’s instructions to his children for righteous living.  They are our Father’s blueprints for how to please him.  Even if you don’t believe that we should continue to follow the Torah, is it not clear that our lives ought to look different than the lives of those who reject God?  If you claim Kingdom citizenship, how can you behave as though you have no King?  The passage in Ephesians 5 doesn’t say, “cut back on the unfruitful works of darkness”.  Rather, it says “have no part” in them and “expose them”. It doesn’t say “reduce filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking” but rather, “let there be no filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking.”  The language is not permissive.  If  we have a permissive attitude towards these kinds of things (and others), we will eventually permit them in our lives to some extent which can grow into full-blown rebellion and apostasy.

I have had many friends over the years who subscribe to a version of Christianity that is very permissive of the ways of the world.  When we think of a believer living “in sin,” we, in the church only think of one thing: sexual immorality.  There are very few who openly live “in sin”, by this definition, and continue to claim Kingdom citizenship.  The church simply does not accept it, and rightfully so.  But I submit to you that there are many who don’t realize they are living “in sin” because they don’t have a clear understanding of sin or their responsibilities as an image-bearer of the King.  For example, do you break the law by speeding?  Do you know any Christians who drive over the speed limit?  Jesus says to submit to the governing authorities.  If you have a permissive attitude toward speeding, you encourage lawless behavior and deny Christ.  Do you listen to songs or approve of TV shows that encourage and celebrate lustful behavior, selfish ambition, or self-worship? If you have a permissive attitude regarding such things, it is a matter of time before you partake of them and bear that image.  If you have a permissive attitude toward filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking, you encourage unholy living and bear that image.  But Paul tells us that as saints — that is, as disciples of Yeshua — we have no business having anything to do with those kinds of things.  The “unfruitful works of darkness” must be exposed, not encouraged, allowed, or ignored.  This will make a young Christian wildly unpopular among his friends, but the disciple of Yeshua is called and expected to stand apart as a testament to his royal identity and loyalty to the kingdom.

Repentance, you see, is radical, because it means making big changes to little things, not just the big ones.  Let me leave you with a picture that I have used for some time, which I find to be a very good and applicable analogy:

I love to garden.  When weeding a garden, the goal is to rid the garden of the unwanted plants.  In order to effectively remove the undesired plants permanently, the roots must be pulled out of the ground.  It is not enough to simply cut the plant back to ground level.  The roots must be removed as well.  It is normal to start the weeding process by removing the largest weeds visible.  This produces a satisfying sense of progress early on, being able to see a visible difference right away.  As soon as the largest weed has been removed, there are two more that have now become the “largest weeds” in the garden.  Those are pulled, followed by the next and the next and the process continues.  It is normal, when the first few “large” weeds are pulled, to feel that the weeds are multiplying, because the smaller weeds are in much greater number, and now appear bigger because they are now the biggest weeds in the garden, when in fact, they are the same size the were to begin with.  But there is always a “largest weed” in the garden — a “biggest sin” so to speak.  After some days or weeks go by, a shoot may pop up from the original large weed that was pulled up first, giving evidence that there was still a remnant of a root still in the ground.  The weeding process must continue, and each time, an attempt must be made to pull them out, roots and all.  Repentance is like weeding a garden.  It is not enough to simply cut back on worldly living.  Unholiness and sin must be pulled out by the roots and thrown away.  As soon as the first “big sin” is addressed, we see another and another and another.  It may be tempting to simply dump mulch on the sin through charity or effort, or to take a weed-eater and cut it off so it is not visible, by singing in the choir or volunteering to teach Sunday School.  But if the root is still there, it is only a matter of time before it pops back up, stronger than ever.  Just as weeding is an ongoing process and the garden must be maintained, repentance is a way of life.  It is not enough to just do it once and move on.  The garden which is our life must be constantly maintained for any roots or seeds of ungodliness which can sprout into sin.  Over time and faithful practice, the remaining roots become fewer and fewer, and maintenance doesn’t require such effort and time as it first did.  Instead, the time that used to be spent pulling weeds can be spent nourishing the soil, planting good plants, or even helping your neighbor pull his weeds.  I like this analogy because it works.  And because it is complex and flexible.  Some weeds aren’t very visible, but the roots are hard to remove and require deep cuts in the soil.  Some weeds are large and visible but have shallow roots, and are easy to remove.  Some come back over and over again even after being pulled.  Some might think it is a lost cause, but I enjoy it weeding my garden, because it reminds me that just as my garden must be maintained and tended, and the weeds must be pulled up by the roots, I must repent daily and remove any leaf, root, or seed which does not belong in the Kingdom of Yeshua.  I must repent and change my mind, turning back to God’s ways and living a life of holiness which is pleasing to God, leaving “no foothold” (Eph 4:27) for the roots and seeds of the devil.

Blessings, and happy weeding!

Hans out.

Why Torah?

In our family, we believe that God’s instructions for righteousness, known as the “Law”, or Torah, are for His glory and for our good today just as they were thousands of years ago.  We believe that by keeping the Torah, we show our Father that we love him.  We do NOT believe that keeping the Torah saves anyone, or ever did.  We follow His instructions because we love Him.  It is an honor and a blessing to obey God.  That’s why we do it. I am sure that right about now, there are many of you that have a whole array of arguments, questions, and counters to what I just said.  I’m ok with that.  I have asked all those questions myself, and although I love discussing the Scriptures and these subjects, I have neither the power nor the compulsion to convince minds and illuminate hearts.  I do not want this blog to be centered around debating doctrine.   But since it does play a major role in our identity, it is part of our story and does warrant a post of its own. It is also the most important part of our lives, which is why it is the first subject of real content we chose to breach.

Now that I’ve told you WHY we keep Torah, let me attempt tell the story of how I got to this point.

Both my parents grew up on the mission field and met at a Bible college.  They were Baptist/non-denominational…ish. While at Bible college, my dad became exposed to reformed theology at a Presbyterian Church under James Montgomery Boice.  So I was born into a strong, reformed, Biblically grounded, Christian household, and baptized as an infant — a “child of the covenant.”  I was homeschooled through highschool, went to a small private college where the entire focus of the school is to teach a worldview from a theologically reformed, Biblical perspective. It was a liberal arts college.  We took classes with such titles as “Christian Mind,” “Cultural Heritage of the West,” “Doctrine,” “Old Testament,” “New Testament,” and others.  It was indoctrination, plain and simple, but it was well done and taught us critical thinking.  Some of the smartest people I know taught and studied there.  It was very important to me to not only believe the right truth, but also to know exactly why the truth I believed was the right truth. I was fairly competent when it came to understanding and explaining doctrine according to the tradition of my church and denomination.

But I wasn’t satisfied.  Perhaps the college I went to did a little too good a job of teaching me to think critically without personal bias, because I started to notice things that didn’t seem consistent.  The sabbath day was a big one.  That may have been THE big one that got the ball rolling. And I heard a friend that I barely knew say something about “Shabbat” which planted a seed and gnawed at me for weeks.  After the seed was planted,  I was curious. Curiosity led to a series of growth phases: Investigation, Realization and Excitement, Application, Testing, Perseverance, Transformation, and finally, Confirmation.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that the hardest part of that process was the Testing and Perseverance phases.  These are the phases that happen when you start to tell people something because you’re all excited about the things you’re learning and feeling hurt and confused because your church didn’t teach you these things, and everyone looks at you like you lost your marbles, or better yet, tells you that you’ve rejected the work of Christ and fallen back into bondage (yes that was said to me).  That was the hardest phase, especially because between my Realization phase and my Transformation phase, Rachel and I suffered a marital trauma during my Testing phase that nearly destroyed my family, and which caused me to doubt everything I had been learning.  But I could feel in my bones that this was right.  Despite the traumatic events that nearly ended my marriage, I was convinced that the problem was not with what I was learning, but with my fear of people and my unwillingness to actually accept and apply these truths to my life.  When I began to apply them and live by them, I almost immediately saw a visible difference in my own life, and by extension, to my family.  At some point, I stopped trying to convince people of what I now knew to be true; I realized that I couldn’t convince anyone of anything.  The most effective witness is a life in action, not words.  So I just focused on minding my own business and being an obedient child of God.  I prayed for months that if this was from God, he would confirm it, and that if it was not from God, he would confirm that and bring me back to the truth. Some months later after a lot of prayer, my wife confessed to me that she was fully on board with this direction that I had taken.  That was a shock, but a welcome and amazing shock.  It drove me to my knees in thanks because after the crisis that should have destroyed us, I didn’t think I would ever have her trust or respect again. I thought I had lost the chance to be the leader in my house. But she told me that she could feel, see, and sense a difference in me, and she knew it was a result of what God was doing in me.  This was one of several significant confirmations.

familyreading001

I’ve told you why we keep Torah. I’ve briefly mentioned some of the events that led us in this direction, but what does it actually look like?  How do we keep Torah in this country, in the 21st century?  There are actions to take, but the first and most important step is to pray that God would open your eyes to the truth of his Word, and then to start reading the Bible.  Also, it is important to be genuinely willing to change — to submit yourself to God, even if that means some radical stuff.  Have the humility to ask God to remove the scales from your eyes.

Hans out.

P.S. One of the catalysts to give me a final push in this direction, by God’s grace, was the traumatic event I mentioned that nearly capsized my marriage.  In the aftermath, I made a commitment to Rachel and to God that I would do whatever it took to “fix” what I had broken.  It sounds a little silly now, and not necessarily theologically sound, because I know that it is God who brings restoration, but I didn’t know how else to express what I meant.  I was willing to do anything — ANYTHING — to change and to recover for the sake of my wife and family.  I was willing to quit my good job that I had just gotten.  I was willing to move to a new location even though we just bought a house we really liked. I was willing to separate from my wife for a time if it was what we needed and if it would have been good for her and for me.  I knew I was lost, and that I was dragging my family down with me.  There was no change I was not willing to make for my family.  Rachel’s terms were that I get help and that I get right with God.  I don’t think she quite expected this, exactly.  I know I didn’t.  Thank God for his severe mercy.

We are the Andersons

Hi. We are the Andersons.  This is us.  I’m Hans (with the sunglasses trying to get Ezekiel to look at the camera).  Rachel is my amazing wife laughing uncontrollably at our multiple attempts to get a good photo.  James (6, on far left) is just being James with one eye closed.  Joanna (3, sitting on my lap) automatically becomes a perfect primadonna anytime a camera is nearby.  Theodore “Teddy” (2) up in front just as cute as can be.  And Ezekiel, though only 9 months old, already has the most personality and energy out of all four.  This is a little blog about us, our adventures, stories, tears, laughter, projects, thoughts, and fun. Mostly, however, it is a little place for us to store memories, pictures, and be like a little family journal that we share.

family001

Sometimes I will write.  Sometimes Rachel will write.  It’ll be a place to store our thoughts.  It might get personal, but hopefully it will be a place of blessing, comfort, and encouragement.  But first, let me explain why we decided to start a blog.

  1. To have a place for us to store our thoughts and make memories for ourselves.
  2. To reach people and to provide support for those out there who might be in similar situations and need help, comfort, encouragement, or simply a different perspective.
  3. To be a creative outlet for both of us.  We try to stay off Facebook because it tends to get crazy, but we both need some kind of platform from which to voice our thoughts, ideas, questions, complaints, etc.  Sometimes, you just need a place to express ideas.  Even if this doesn’t reach anyone, it will be worth it to us.
  4. As a foot in the door to various other venues and opportunities.  I do some woodworking and music.  Rachel writes and makes cool stuff like soap and lotion.  We figure this is a decent place to market some of our goods.

Now let me give you, in a nutshell, who we are.

First, we claim royal identity — that is, we are children of the King of kings.  We were both raised Presbyterian but are now Torah-observant followers of Jesus (Yeshua).  We LOVE following Torah.  It is one of the most liberating and life-giving paths we have ever taken.  It wasn’t easy starting off, but there will be a post coming up dedicated to this subject very soon.

I work as a Police Officer in a medium sized city, but it is just a job.  I also have worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor for the past 9 years in the Marine Reserves, but again, it’s a job (and maybe a bit of a calling).  I am a musician at heart, having been classically trained as a pianist and cellist from the time I was 7 years old.  My two great loves are music and woodworking, though I’m just an amateur when it comes to the latter.

Rachel is a “stay-at-home-mom”, although she really doesn’t stay at home all that much.  She teaches the kiddos at home, and doesn’t have a paying job.  I’ll let her tell her perspective in her own words in her own post, but let me just say this: she is the most amazing person I have ever known, and I don’t know where I would be without her.  She affirms me, encourages me, lifts me up when I am down, cooks amazing food every single day, takes care of the kids when I’m gone, shows me love and respect every day, and even holds my hand like we were still dating.  It sounds cliche to say “I don’t deserve her”, but for real, I don’t.  There have been mistakes — and that is putting it mildly.  I may have won her when we first met, but dating was child’s play.  I don’t have to try to win her anymore — I did that already.  Now, I try to do what pleases her because I want to show her that I love her.  Some people think I must be overbearing or have some kind of unhealthy manipulation over her because she really does fit the old-fashioned, traditional stereotype — pregnant, barefoot, in the kitchen, raising the kids — but she doesn’t want it any other way.  I’ve asked.  And the grace and joy that this woman carries is nothing less than inspiring.  I don’t do nearly enough for her, but somehow, I still get to be the one she runs to when she’s scared, sad, lonely, confused, or angry.  I still get to be the one she wants to curl up with.  How? I have no idea.  It’s an honor, that’s all there is to say — it is an honor to be this woman’s husband.

We dream of moving away from the city soon, buying a plot of land where we will have space to grow a garden (a big garden), raise animals, have a workshop, raise the kids, and see the stars at night, living in a house that we built.  It’s a dream, for now, but one that we are working toward.  All my projects in my current house are just practice.  I’m learning.  Building the cabinets for the kitchen, building furniture, fixing the plumbing, even doing some electrical work (scary) — all just OJT for when we build.  In the meantime, I won’t quit my day-job.  For now, we take care of what we have, learn, grow, and enjoy.

Rachel fell asleep on the couch waiting for me to finish writing this.  Now that I finally got moved to 1st shift, we actually get to go to bed together.  I think it’s kinda sweet that she waits for me.

Hans out.