Sunday, March 27, 2011

A brief 360 of iMMERGENT

A lot of you are praying for us down here and ask questions about the church, our building, so, here is a quick 360 I took with my phone video camera, so as you think of us and pray for Montrose, you can have a 'picture' in your mind!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ready to serve.

Driving on a hot summers day, the air conditioning blasts, a cold coke sits within hands reach, condensation rolling down that 44oz cup. You're singing. Songs of praise and worship. As you slow for the red light, you see him, old, rugged, skin - sun baked, dry, holding his sign: 'Need help, homeless'. Junkie. Alcoholic. The first thoughts in your mind. You think about the cash in your bill fold, would he just use it for his addiction? The light turns green and it's too late. You leave, but something nags, you feel uncomfortable. His face stays in your mind for weeks, months. Every time you pass that spot, you look, is he there?

It's cold. You're on your way home from Christmas shopping, trunk loaded, Starbucks close by in the drink holder. You see her. Bundled. Arms wrapped around tight, shivering. Face worn for pain, hurt and abuse. You blame her. There is help if she wanted it. But she's choosing this, why should you help, when she wouldn't help herself? Yet, you can't help the guilt, the shame, as you go home safe to your loving family and friends.


iMMERGENT has started a wonderful new ministry. It's not what you would imagine. It's phenomenal. Every second Saturday, Mrs Leslie Smith appears at the childrens church with boxes of supplies. Toiletries, socks, blankets, t-shirts, bottled water, snack bars, fruit, gift cards.

She has each child pack a bag. The child makes a craft and then places in also in the bag and says a prayer for the person whom will receive the bag. With childlike joy and compassion, they eagerly await an opportunity to give.

The bags sit in the car. The first two months, the bags went to the same two men. Frank and David. They always slept in the same spots. So we would pull up. Josh would go out and give them the bags and pray for them. Well, Frank liked the prayers, David didn't. Then they were were gone. The girls wept. Where were they? What had happened?

So the bags sat. One day. We stopped at a red light. There a lady stood, forlorn, gruff, the beautiful person created in God's image hidden below years of hurt and anger. My heart leaped, we grabbed one of the bags and handed it to her, with the cut out heart and message from Esther. The girls whooped and cheered. Their faces shining with a joy that came from the deepest part of their beings.

The next week, once again, an old man. In a wheel chair. Eyes blood shot. He looked dangerous. He'd been waging a war his whole life against himself and it had led to destruction. He still belonged to God, this man, the apple of his heavenly Fathers eye.

This time, the girls shouted 'Mommy! The bag! Give him the bag!'

It dawned on me, what must in mean to these people, even the most hardened, for a bright eyed child of 2 or 4 to have personally made them a bag and card. To have prayed for them.

What must it feel like, to know, that a stranger, had prepared something, just waiting for God to place you in their path so they could share. Even if it touched them for just a few minutes. It's worth it.

Oh the faith and love of a child.... what it can fathom and accomplish that we adults cannot.

In my heart, it was amazing, no battle, no calculating what was in my purse, no lowering my eyes to avoid that look; the 'lady, can't you give just a little, even if it is for a beer, because it would help me feel better' look.

We were ready to serve. Thank you Leslie. Thank you for making our family ready to serve.

We are all equal, all precious, all worth time, patience and love. Because we are made by God, a personal God.

No one should be written off or given up on, because God never gives up on us.

How humbling... how convicting... how liberating.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Compassion Photography

I first saw Mia's work through a mutual friend. She has an stunning talent for capturing atmosphere and personality. She adds her creative flair, bringing out the art and simply beauty in life.

What is more stunning, however, is how she is using her unique gifting from God to encourage families struggling with the reality, pain, heartache and struggles of having a sick child in and out of hospital. She knows about this experience first hand...

Mia writes:

"Especially close to my heart are families who are battling the illness of a child. My daughter Lauren, spent a lot of time during her younger years in and out of children’s hospitals, due to the dysfunction of her kidneys. We were showered with love and support during those days, but it was still the most difficult time of our lives. From the desire to give other families the same loving support and compassion we were given, Compassion Photography was born."

Compassion Photography is working directly with Cooks Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Compassion Photography is a non-profit company. Working directly with Cook Children’s Medical Center, it is our earnest desire to provide professional photo shoots -at no cost- to families in the midst of battling an illness. At such times as these when money is tight, emotions are untamed, and the world seems upside down, familiy pictures aren’t exactly at the forefront of your mind. But it is essential to take some time away from the stresses and fears that come along with this life experience. A session with Compassion Photography allows you to step into a new scene for a while and just enjoy your family. During the time we spend together my main objectives are to make you smile, share some laughs, and tell a beautiful story of your family with my camera. Though times aren’t feeling so great for you right now, sometime soon you will be able to look back at your Compassion photographs and see that His arms were, indeed, wrapped tightly around you when you needed Him most."

You can see more about Compassion Photography's vision, see Mia's work and learn about their sister company 'BeCompassion' at

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friends, Rye Crackers, Eggs and The Barry Farm.

Today we spent time with Renee Smith and her sweet children Layla and Seamus. Renee brought some delicious food! She made rye crackers, FRESH in my kitchen and then served them with a delicious Quinoa salad. You can find some of her delicious recipes at

Afterwards, we took the children for a walk around the lake, looked at the ducklings, threw rocks and played some more.

Renee and her husband are quite an inspiration. In addition to growing their own produce and having egg laying hens in their yard, they have recently leased a plot of land and begun a community supported farm that has become Houston's newest and only pastured egg CSA, filling a much needed gap.

I encourage you to visit The Barry Farm at and to head over to the Barry Farm at on Facebook. and 'like' them!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 2 : Lentil by Robert McCloskey

The girls are really getting into the stories and anticipating 'school'. Sometimes Rachel joins in, sometimes she doesn't, it depends on her mood and the activity. Esther has amazed me with her attentiveness and dedication. So far she is an excellent student, soaking everything in and jumping right into the story. Last week we lived and breathed 'Ping'. From discussing life lessons and human relationships, geography, music, art, math, science to eating a rice cross-legged on a low table while drinking jasmine tea.

Lentil had the girls asking 'again, again!', they laughed at his funny singing, they empathised when they too couldn't whistle, they got frustrated at Sneep's schemes, they celebrated when Lentil used his unique gift of playing harmonica to save the day. The story is wonderfully rich with lots of beautiful illustrations and a plethora of discussion points.

When I was writing up tomorrow's lesson plan, I realised how much of the topics we had already discussed since, we read it three times today alone! Plus, now the girls are looking for details in the pictures and story, asking questions, we get carried away!

Here is a video of the girls playing harmonica along to 'She'll be comin' around the mountain', the song that Lentil played for Colonel Carter! (Right after we'd played the instruments in the bath tub, to see why that was Lentil's favorite place to play!)

Spring has sprung!

Spring is my favorite time of year. Warm days. New Life. New beginnings. Each sunny day full of promises of things to explore, hills to roll down.

On friday, we spent time with Charity, Rowan and Reese. It's fantastic because Rowan and Esther are both 4 as well as Rachel and Reese being 2. Plus, they are all blond and blue eyed. A beautiful band of girls who are often found strolling and skipping hand in hand in hand in hand...

Later on that day, we saw new baby ducklings with their mummy! It was wonderful! We spent a lot of time just watching them and talking about them. Every day we look out the window in the morning to see if we can see swimming with her babies in tow. We counted EIGHTEEN! That's a big family!

Also, we have seedlings! Our seeds are GROWING! A flower bloomed on our Jalapeno plant today too! The chives and rosemary have not germinated but I am still optimistic. Soon we will have fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, strawberries, oregano, cilantro, basic and thyme for our kitchen but some beautiful flowers to sweeten our day. The girls run to the porch window after looking for the ducklings to see how much growing their plants have done. Last week they took sang to the plants. Today, they played the harmonica for them and also the plants are prayed for nightly. No wonder they are doing so well!

We also went to the farmers markets at Pearland and Froberts, how wonderful to have honey from local beekeepers and locally grown fruit and veg. On saturday, I shopped the stalls while Josh and the girls played 'soccer' on the adjacent field. Yes, spring has sprung and I plan to enjoy it before the long, hot, Texas summer...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


For some time I have been praying over and pondering Lent and what I would 'give up for lent'. It's actually the first time I have done this and it's something I am excited about. 'Sugar' has been on my heart. I love sugar and I know it's bad for me, yet that isn't enough to stop me from my indulgence.

I have tried to give it up on my own strength and failed.

Something I have mulled over for a while also, is why do I struggle to run to God, to the cross when I am in a time or situation of hardship? It seems to be a running theme in my life.

Blurry eyed, disorientated and surprised that it was already alarm clock time, I reached for my Bible to read a my morning psalm. It's a rule I have to help me start my day off with my mind on Christ before a small child lures me from my warm blanket cocoon.

I read:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62: 1-2

The reason to give up sugar this Lent, my first lent, is because I do not always find rest in God, I don't plant my feet on Him and allow myself to sand firm. Instead I eat. I eat sugar.

Tea with cookies. Ice Cream. Coke. Cake. I bake.

When something goes array, when I am emotionally shook up, I think about comfort food. Sugar. The warmth and comfort of that sugar boost. The sweet, familiar taste. Then I feel better. Temporarily.

Yet, the problem in still there, the hurt, the worry, the concern, the fear, the sin. I just sunk it deeper within me. To wait and fester until it get so big, it isn't a little prayer to resolve, but I hurtful, difficult problem.

So this year, while I resist temptation, I will be receiving something even more wonderful than my so called, seemingly trivial, 'sacrifice', compared to Jesus's... I will be learning how to run to God. The enemy will loose this foothold he has in my life.

God you will be be the rest my soul needs. My Rock. My Salvation. My everything.

I am truly looking forward to what God teaches me, on the first lent I have observed. Perhaps I don't understand all the Theology and related liturgy, but I am already learning something more about how to be closer to Jesus. How to receive the Grace and Mercy, that are mine, ours, through the Cross.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Home Cooking, Part 1: The value of a well stocked fridge and pantry

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of ingredients presented in homecooked meals. Looking down the recipe one quickly feels their bank accounts emptying in order to fund the supply of both exotic and familiar foods that are vital to the success of the much coveted home cooked dinner steaming on the table, greeted by a wide eyed, smiled husband and hungry children.

It doesn't have to cost the earth however to home cook and it doesn't need to be fancy either. There is a small investment at the onset, but that is exactly what it is, an investment.

A well stocked fridge and pantry.

Filling the refrigerator and pantry with an assortment of commonly used items that are used for multiple recipes drastically reduces the cost of each meal when spread over the course of days, weeks and sometimes months.

Here is a good list starting list (much more could be added!):

• Dijon mustard • Olive oil • Red wine vinegar • Balsamic vinegar • Plain flour • Self-raising flour • Cornflour • Confectioners sugar • Brown sugar • Cocoa powder • A variety of dried pasta • Egg noodles • Chickpeas • Kidney beans • Tinned chopped tomatoes • Rice (your choice or a selection) • Almonds • Chicken, vegetable and beef stock cubes • Soy sauce• Dried Basil • Table salt • Black peppercorns • Ground cinnamon • Dried oregano • Bay leaves • Ground cumin • Chili powder • Curry powder • Baking soda • Vanilla extract• Baking powder • Nutmeg • Honey • Oatmeal • Mayonnaise • Ketchup • Cinnamon • Ginger • Cloves • Garlic • Cumin • Peanut butter • Butter • Sour cream • A selection of cheeses • Cream cheese • Whole wheat flour • Almonds • Yeast • Black Beans • Potatoes • Onions • Sea Salt • Table salt • Black peppercorns • Castor sugar • Dried oregano • Bay leaves • Ground cumin • Chilli powder • Plain Yoghurt • Coconut Oil • Lemon Juice • Apple Cider Vinegar • Bread Flour • Pearl Barley • Molasses • Cayenne Pepper • Vegetable oil • Tabasco • Eggs • Dried Thyme • Dried Rosemary • Ground sage • Dried oregano • Raisins • Various nuts/dried fruits • Maple syrup. • Worcestershire Sauce • Apple sauce

With these basic ingredients, you are ready to make *almost* any dish with the addition of the needed fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. In Home Cooking, Part 2. We'll talk about selection fresh produce and meat, how to shop for it and optimizing it's use with a meal plan.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week 1, Day 1.

WOW. What a day. What a start to the week. God is so good. We started day one of officially homeschooling with volume 1 of 'Five in A Row'.

Each week you read a classic 'living' children's book. Each book explores different cultures, country and concepts and encapsulates geography, history, language arts, religious studies, science, social studies and art.

This week we began with 'The Story about Ping' which is about a little duck who lives on the Yangtze River in China. He decides to avoid a consequence by running away but learns that being away from his family is much worse.

At the beginning of every day, you re-read the book so that the child is able to not only be reminded of the story but is able to pick up on new aspects that they might have missed in prior readings.

Today, we introduced the book with an explanation of where the title was, who the author was and the illustrator. We discussed concepts such as discernment and also that it's best to face up to our mistakes than avoid dealing with them.

We also introduced Esther to the world map, showing her the locations of friends and family around the world and marking them with a star. We also located our first picture disc of Ping in China. We found a the Chinese flag and colored it in.

Esther then continued the lesson with her curiosity 'Mommy, what kind of music and dancing do they do in China?', so we quickly did some searching on youtube for videos of traditional Chinese music and dance.

She is so excited, tonight she thanked God for 'school' and told Him she can't wait to learn more about the place where Ping is from.

I think Josh and I enjoyed ourselves as much as she did. It's so much fun to learn as a family. We are learning knew things too!

Making the most of it...

I've dreamed of my own vegetable garden for a long while. Fresh veggies, hens roaming, perhaps a peach tree, apple tree, small children devouring their harvest with wonder... a herb garden infiltrating my lungs with it's aroma, flavoring the food I lovingly create... a lilac bush sprinkled with butterflies... climbing jasmine over a seated arbor in which me and my love read and talk in the evening sun... lavender sharing it's perfume which sneaks in through my windows to greet me in the morning heat.

But, I had no where to make this dream come true. So, I gave up and waited for my garden.

My decision to try and grow on the tiny balcony was somewhat because Esther asked me if we could grow something. I didn't want to deprive her of that experience because in my heart I couldn't have the paradise my selfish flesh desired.

I needed to let life and beauty grow and nourish our families souls, even if from a plastic pot on the porch of a city. Indeed, perhaps there is something particularly special about green springing from the potted earth in a jungle of bricks, gray and telephone poles.

There is something miraculous about a seed germinating. An event so beautiful from something so unspectacular appearing. A brown or black seed is put in dirt. Every time I plant, I wonder : Can something grow? Will something grow from the dirt?

Yet, moist soil, air, sunlight and water combine and bring forth the bright green of new life surrounded in an otherwise lifeless pot of soil.

What joy and wonder a little garden on the balcony brings. So many teaching opportunities and also a reminder that, like a seed soaks in the basic elements contentedly and grows unhindered, beautiful, that we too should take what we have, no matter how basic and contentedly use it to bring joy and beauty instead of grumbling with dissatisfaction, wanting more and shunning what we have.

"Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:8)

"Besides You, I desire nothing on earth" (Psalm 73:25)

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment"
(1 Timothy 6:6)