The Giver of Life

I transplanted about a hundred dead plants. By dead plants, I mean truly withered and brown. They have not seen life in several weeks. This will be one of the most stupid and embarrassing things I have ever done up to now, unless it is of God.

Dead plant closeup.     97 dead plants

What happened is that I seeded my flowers (vinca) as I do every year, set them outside to acclimate to the weather, covered them with plastic to keep them safe from frost, and created a severe greenhouse effect that killed them off in the noon sun the following day (which I don’t do every year!). If you want more details about this whole process, read footnote (1) below, otherwise continue reading.

Because I believe in a God who has the power to raise the dead, and I was still in the denial stage of grief, I prayed for God to raise the dead. I commanded my dead plants to live, in the name of Jesus. I continued to water them and care for them even after all reasonable hope was lost. But none, save four, showed any life.

About a week ago, as I was continuing to pray about it, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me. (See note (2) on the Holy Spirit below.) He said, “If you want them to live, plant them in the ground. Then, post this online.” Really? It is one thing to believe that God can do miraculous things, and another thing to sacrifice a few hours of my time transplanting dead flowers, but then another thing altogether to put myself on the line by posting my apparent foolishness to the world. What if I am wrong? What if I misheard Him?

So, here I am posting this craziness. Why? Why would God choose to breathe new life into something I killed? Why would He ask me to post about it online? The message He gave me is this: He is the giver of life, and He is going to breathe new life into the Church. He is going to answer prayers in a new and powerful way. The Church often looks weak and powerless, because of our lack of faith. Many of us are facing situations – some are consequences of our own mistakes – that are hopelessly impossible to resolve. While we know that God can do the impossible, we struggle to believe that He will intervene when we ask. Many of our prayers seem to have been unanswered, and our faith is faltering. But now, the Spirit of God is moving. He is going to do the miraculous in our lives. These vinca are a witness to His desire to breathe new life into our lives. He wants to answer your prayers. Even when you have doubts, as I do, step out in faith as if you believe, trusting that your doubts are unfounded. Even when you question yourself, pray for the impossible, expecting God to be glorified through His answer to your prayer.

While there is a part of me that wonders if I am just a ridiculous fool, the Holy Spirit has used extremely unlikely events to assure me that this is His will, so I expect to update this with a photo of blooming vinca (with 4 basil plants mixed in somewhere, see note (3)) sometime this summer.

(1) In March, as I do every year, I carefully seeded 120 vinca flowers (they should look like the Pacifica Burgundy Halo, Pacifica Punch and Pacifica Polka Dot varieties shown here) and 18 basil in Biodome starter kits, with the intention of planting them in our flower beds and herb garden. A few weeks ago, I needed the biodomes for peppers I wanted to seed, so I transplanted everything into cups and set them outside to harden off (acclimate to outdoor conditions). I had successful germination with 97 vinca and 4 basil, so I had 101 Styrofoam cups out on the patio. Since it was going to get down close to freezing that night, I put some old plastic over them to create a makeshift green house that would keep them safe for the night. The next day after church I went to check on them and found that creating such a small greenhouse with no airflow was a bad idea: the air under the plastic was so hot that water vapor was literally steaming off of the cups. My precious plants were roasted like a turkey in November. I pulled the plastic off and tried to save them, but only 4 survived.

(2) The whisper of the Holy Spirit makes me nervous. The Holy Spirit speaks to different people in different ways. For me, His whisper makes me nervous primarily because I worry that I am making things up in my own head. I describe myself as critical in my thinking, because I don’t like to believe something unless there is solid evidence for it. The whispers that I hear from the Holy Spirit sound remarkably like my own thoughts, and if I were a secular psychiatrist, I would have several very plausible explanations of how these thoughts would creep into my mind, and none of them would rely on anything supernatural or divine. Therefore, I often question myself: Am I deluding myself? How do I know that this is the Holy Spirit speaking, and not my subconscious? (I sometimes go so far as questioning, is my whole faith in Christ a farce or just wishful thinking?  But then, I remind myself of the very well-reasoned defenses of men like Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, and others, and my doubts about Christ are once again laid to rest.) My doubts about the Holy Spirit’s whisper are not as easily tamed, however, because even if the Holy Spirit is real and does speak to us, how do I know that in this instance, it is really is the Holy Spirit, and not my own fantasy? But these whispers often significantly contradict what I think, and often contradict what I want to be true. So, I have taken to putting the Holy Spirit to the test: If I hear something that I think is from the Holy Spirit, I have decided to assume that it really is the Holy Spirit, unless it clearly contradicts the Word of God. In most cases, there are no serious consequences if I am wrong, because He has not entrusted me with knowledge of any great power or influence. In a worst case scenario, I make myself look foolish. But, if it really is the Holy Spirit, I get to grow in my faith, and in communion with the Spirit of God, whom God promised to be our helper or counselor, and whom Christ promised when He told the disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans.” In other words, the rewards significantly out-weigh the risks.

(3) After the plants were all withered, I couldn’t tell which was which, so the basil is planted somewhere among the vinca. If my flower beds bloom with vinca and it is simply a matter of reseeding somehow from last years plants (not likely), there is no chance that 4 basil plants will be mixed in. Last year’s basil was planted no where near the vinca.

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Short term missions trip to Haiti 2012

I am writing to invite you to partner with me as I follow God and take part in a short-term missions trip to Haiti. I will be part of a team from my church, Bucks County Community Church, heading to Haiti. Our team will head to Haiti this December.

While in Haiti, our team will partner with full time missionaries to support their ongoing ministry. Currently we plan to focus our work on reconstruction to address the immediate needs of the people of Haiti. However, needs change quickly and we will adjust our focus if needed.

I am writing to ask for your support in one of two ways:

  1. Become a Prayer Partner – Prayer is a vital aspect of this trip. We cannot minister effectively without first asking God to go before us.
  2. Become a Financial Partner– The total cost of the trip is roughly $1,700 per person. I am trusting God to move in people’s hearts, leading them to donate toward this missions trip. If you feel that you could participate in this way, please:
    1. Make your check payable to Bucks County Community Church
    2. Mail you check to me. (Contact me if you need my address)

* All donations are tax deductible. Any donations received after I reach my goal will be directed towards the total team budget. The deadline for donations is December 8, 2012.

Thank you for taking the time to consider joining with me in this experience. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 215-750-0794 or email me at rdmsgl at I look forward to hearing from you soon.

With thanks,


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Serena’s First Day Of Preschool

Today was Serena’s first day of Preschool. 

She was a little nervous, but mostly excited.  The drop off went well enough, it’s at our church and she knows her teacher, she’s never had horrible reports from Sunday School teachers or MOPS workers (other than that she sometimes chooses to sit in the corner and cry until she’s ready to join the rest of the class, but then all is well), and her big brother has always had glowing reports from all his school experiences, so I was a bit taken aback when I went to pick her up and her teacher asked me to stay after to talk!!

I waited patiently as she dismissed the other children (there are only 5 kids total in this Pre-K class, which is very cool!) and listened as she told each child’s parent what a great day he/she had and how wonderfully he/she did.  I just couldn’t WAIT to hear about MY child.  (Those of you who know Serena are probably smiling and nodding, but seriously, I thought things were going to be OK with her.  I mean, girls are usually GOOD in school, right?  Calmer, more attentive and obedient, right??)  And besides, how could anything with ponytails as cute as hers be trouble?

So, I walked in to the classroom where Serena was waiting for me.  She didn’t look red and puffy, so that’s good.  She didn’t look overly pleased either, but I tried to keep my curiosity at bay while I hugged her and asked, “How was your first day?!”  She looked straight at me and said, “I screamed THREE times.”  Now, you have to understand, she doesn’t usually describe her sounds as screaming.  The sounds are MOST DEFINITELY screams, but she will usually refer to them as merely “crying.”  So for her to actually call it screaming… ooh, I was getting more nervous.

Her teacher is a friend of mine and we’ve discussed our middle children before, always giving sympathetic and understanding looks, because we “get” the drama that unfolds in our houses on a regular basis, while parents of more docile children just don’t.  But, as I said before, Serena’s drama has not tended to spill out all over other adults in charge of her.  Let’s just say that her teacher got pretty wet this morning.

The first thing was that Serena had to go potty and didn’t want to go alone.  So she screamed.  When the teacher suggested she take a friend along, she screamed and refused.  So, she had to be dragged bodily to the bathroom, where she did end up doing her thing just fine.

She didn’t want the juice that was offered to her at snack time, she wanted water instead.  So she screamed.  The teacher explained that as soon as she was ready to ask nicely, she could have her water.  I’m not quite sure how long it took, but she did eventually ask nicely and got her water.

She didn’t want to put paint on her hand to make a handprint craft to give to her mommy.  Then she forgot to put glue on the little heart that was to go on the palm of the handprint.  So she screamed.  The teacher explained that sometimes she will have to do things she doesn’t want to do, but that she needs to obey anyway.  And that it’s OK if she forgot to put glue on, the paint was sticky enough to do the job. 

I can’t really remember specifics about Micah’s first day of preschool, but let’s just say that I probably won’t be forgetting these all that soon.

I love that she has the teacher she has.  She handled things exactly as we handle them around here.  (It’s not like obeying authority should be a new concept for this kid!  We are used to her “eruptions” and have been trying to deal properly with them for years.  I mean, I could write a book about Serena, starting with, “And she didn’t WANT to leave the womb.  So she screamed…)  Anyway, the teacher made sure I agreed with how she handled things and assured me that she is not at all concerned about Serena.  She knew she had to establish right away who was in charge, and that it will take a little while, but that the two of them will have a great year together.

So on our ride home, I reminded Serena of the 3 ways to obey (right away, all the way, in a happy way) and made it very clear that this applies to ALL adults who are in charge of her. 

When we were eating lunch, I looked at the papers in her folder, and I found the painted hand one.  It was cute.  It didn’t show evidence of the screaming that it apparently required to prodcue such artwork. 

After she was in nap, I called Randy to tell him about her day. 

And I screamed.

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Micah's First Day of School

Today was Micah’s first day of 2nd grade. 

He was pretty excited. 

He got Elias to put his little backpack on and rather unbeknownst to me, told him that he could get on the big bus with him and go to school with him.  Not realizing the the 2yr old takes the 7yr old very seriously, Micah went on his merry way as we walked to the bus stop, until I realized the full extent of what was about to happen when said big bus pulled up, if Micah himself did not re-explain to Elias which children were ACTUALLY going to get on the bus.  Micah did explain, and Elias was a little bit disappointed, but he got over it pretty quickly.

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Another Test Post

We can’t commit to doing an ACTUAL post, but maybe someday. 

Here are some pictures of Micah and Serena at swimming lessons a few weeks ago. 

We're Ready!


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test post

This is a test post. Shari would like to post something, but wanted me to make sure it would work for her before she tried.

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Fall Orchard Trip

OK, so I don’t want to talk about this too much, but the baby reset my clock and I tried to FIX it so that we wouldn’t miss out on those precious 5 minutes of sleep, and somehow I made it so we got up an HOUR early.  Yes.  So, we’re doing something fun with our time – talking to those of you with Google Reader, since no one else would have any reason to check this yearly blog!  So enjoy our photos.

We go to our local orchard every fall to get apples and pumpkins.  Usually we need to wear fleece and hats and all that warm stuff.  So, being one for traditions, I faithfully forced my family to gear up in their finest softness, only to humbly carry the fuzzies back to the van after like 5 minutes.  Oh well.  It was fun, and we got some great shots of bumpy squash too.

(Ok, this is a message to our Tech Support, since we know that you have Google reader, WHY WON’T IT TAKE ANY MORE PHOTOS!?! We go through the same procedure as we did for the beautiful picture just 1 inch above this here complaint, and it tells us in nasty red ink “The uploaded file could not be moved to the upload folder.” This is not promoting our self-esteem. (Perhaps if it said it in a nice way, like with soothing green text saying, “I am so sorry, but I cannot accept any more photos from you for completely unknown reasons. I hope to be able to better serve you in some nebulous other circumstances.” Nah. We’d still have to rant.)

So if you want more photos, click on the picture and it will take you to our Picasa Web Album. (If the blog is feeling obliging.)

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