Wednesday, October 20, 2010

St. Louis Gateway Arch

The kids had last Friday off from school, and their Auntie Kat was visiting, so we took a trip to the Arch! I had been up in the Arch many times as a kid, but Dave had never taken the trip up. We had thought about going a few times over the past years while we were in St. Louis to see family, and the boys had always been a little fearful of the idea. Well, they were all very brave, and of course Grayce was the bravest. Nothing fazes her! I think it comes from the security that comes with being the youngest- there is so much comfort from being surrounded by family. Here are few pics I took from my camera phone.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kaldi's Coffee and Sanctuary

I'm sitting in Kaldi's Coffee right across the street from our Concordia Seminary campus. Our babysitter, Emily, is watching Grayce. The boys are at Vacation Bible School. I have a lot of work to catch up on- life has been crazy busy, and I have had little motivation to work!

I come to Kaldi's to work. I come here for inspiration, for motivation. To get away from our home office and it's reminder of how overwhelming life is right now: too many dirty dishes, cereal on the floor, clean and dirty laundry everywhere, stacks of bills, and of course those last few boxes I never unpacked. I come here for Sanctuary.

I walk into Kaldi's and I am greeted with warm smiles from both customers and employees. Everyone there looks different: some have on business suits, some have tattoos, some have kids running around. There are young students intently studying, listening to Ipods, a grandmother with here granddaughter, people of all ages.

The one commonality is that everyone is accepted as they are. We all sit in this place of refuge, surrounded by beautiful, comfortable furnishings, great music, and each of us holding in our hands whatever makes us feel calm in this crazy world. When I come here, I feel like I can recharge enough for life to go on.

Dave and I have been visiting different churches, and I have come to realize that I am looking for many of the same qualities in a church. A comfortable, peaceful environment where all types of people of all ages can come together and feel accepted as they are. Where there is something to stimulate all the senses: great music, art, beautiful surroundings, a place to sit alone or a place to sit and talk. A comfortable seat to sit in and drink my coffee while I meditate on God's Word. Great childcare so that meditation is possible!

But most of all a Sanctuary. A place to forget how crazy life is at the moment, and give us a glimpse of our eternity in heaven. A place where communion with each other and the Lord is not determined by man-made standards of what church "ought to be", but instead is a reflection of our Great God. Our God who did not wait til our children were able to sit quietly in church, who did not wait until we were able to sit in church without getting up three times to get coffee, who did not wait till we could find the proper shoes to wear to church. He did not wait till we could follow the liturgy well enough to understand what we were singing. He did not wait for us to understand what "sacrilegious" meant, let alone how not to be it.

Our God reached down to us "while were yet sinners" and pulled us out of the deep, dark hole with the death of his Son, Jesus. Jesus Christ met people "where they were at" with his love and acceptance. And because of this total love and acceptance, because of his victory over sin, we can be free. We can have "the peace that surpasses all human understanding".

I think that many people who come to coffee houses are searching for that peace and acceptance. And while they may find it for a while, it will always be lacking. Christian churches have the most amazing gift to offer: the true peace, love, and acceptance that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. True freedom. And yet many of our churches are such a poor reflection of this that many will never enter their doors. And if they do, they will never return, because it's just too hard to get past the rules, expectations, and "noise" of church to hear the Word of God.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Grayce's Room

I LOVE Grayce's room. It started six years ago, when we first moved in, and I wanted to paint the room the perfect shade of pale blue for little Matthew. This was the first time we were able to choose what color to paint our walls! The room instantly became the most peaceful room in the house, with that beautiful shade of blue.

The boys moved to our third bedroom, and the blue room became Grayce's when she was born. It transferred seamlessly to a girls room. Now we are moving to an apartment with walls that are some shade of beige.... and we need to sell much that is in Grayce's room: her beautiful white crib that I traded for a photo shoot, the turquoise tufted velvet chair that I LOVE, her beautiful crib bedding, her pretty white curtains with the pom-pom trim.

So I'm in Grayce's room, taking pictures for Craigslist (although she doesn't know I'm taking pictures to SELL her stuff), and I got a few cute pics of Grayce in her room for our last week here. So precious! I'm going to miss this room....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Letter to the Church

This is the letter I read in Church on Sunday Jan 24th

Hello everyone,
It has been seven years this month since the Hardin family arrived here at First Lutheran, and Matthew was only two months old. Jill and I have enjoyed the many blessings of friends and community here in Venice. After three years, I started feeling God’s call towards Pastoral Ministry. In the summer of 2007, while visiting family in Missouri, we made a bold move to look into what it would take to respond to this call and we visited Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. It was a great visit, but Jill and I both felt that God was not calling us to that place at that time. When you hear God calling it is best to respond. We understood that trip as God affirming that the great ministry we were involved with in Venice was where he was continuing to call us at that time. But the calling to pursue pastoral ministry didn't go away. I looked into another programs towards ordination and I found Concordia Irvine had a Multicultural Program. This program would allow me to continue in the ministry at First Lutheran while I studied to become a pastor. I applied and went to the interviews and felt very excited about the idea of starting school and continuing to minister here at FLV. As Jill and I looked at the idea of school and a four-year workload it became evident that this was not the answer. Last summer, Jill and I both felt God calling us to look into the Seminary in St. Louis once more. As I have ministered here at Venice several things became clear to me. I wanted to learn more about Scripture and I wanted to develop my skills as a leader. I have poured over the class schedules at the Seminary and I have found myself excited to dive into full time study. As much as the idea of moving cross county and becoming a full time student sound like an insurmountable obstacle I feel confident that this is the best for Jill and the family as we look forward to the future. I remember a Bible verse from Romans 11:29 “for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.” God has called us to Venice for many blessed years. God is now calling us to a new place to continue ministering in new ways. We invite you to support us with your prayers and financially if you wish, for we will be at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis for two years while I am a full time student. On the third year, Concordia will place me as a full time vicar in a congregation. I feel blessed to have Jill who shares my joy and call as well. Whenever Jill and I have separately prayed to God for direction, He has always given us the same answer. It is my hearts desire to answer this call from God. I feel humbled by this call and by God’s grace I will answer. Again, please pray for us as we work to make this happen. Classes start this summer in early June and we have many things to figure out between now and then. We will continue to minister here at First Lutheran until that time, and work towards a smooth transition for the Youth and Family program here at First Lutheran Venice.
Blessings and thank you,

David Hardin

Heading to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

So David is out in the garage, packing? Sorting? Welding a bike rack to haul our bikes to St. Louis? I'm not really sure, but he sounds industrious. I'm sitting in the midst of a million empty boxes, ready to pack, scattered among my studio lights, backdrops, and canvases ready to be mailed. So much to do in preparation for our new life, and yet still so much for me to finish here!

Trying to measure every item we are taking, in order to determine if it will fit in our 26 ft. Penske truck, and then, to fit in our new apartment. Thank God (and the nice housing people at the Sem) that we got the four bedroom apt.! Thinking about unpacking all those boxes is really motivating me to get rid of more stuff before we leave...

Trying to figure out how to fit in time with all of those we love before we go. Family farewell (Dave's family lives in Orange County), Ladies Night, date night with good friends, play dates with kids.... Everyone here is like family to us, and there just doesn't seem to be enough time to share with everyone.

As hard as it is to leave all of those who have become our family over the last seven and a half years, I remain so motivated by these words in Romans 10 - v.9-"if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. v.13-15"for 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"

Hmmm, seems pretty obvious, huh? So here we are, following God's call. Preparing to preach, so that they may hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and believe.