Friday, 20 December 2013

one week 'til snow

A warm sunny greeting to all our friends in the snowy northeast U.S.!  As I sit here typing, we are in the home of the Seeley family, who we have introduced to you before.  Our washing machine has been broken for about 12 days now and we simply couldn't wait to do laundry any more!  Mindy kindly offered for us to come out and use her machine, so here we are.  Once again, God uses friendships to provide for all our needs.  This weekend Tim and Mindy will be playing the roles of Simeon and Anna tomorrow night and Sunday night in our Christmas presentation, "Hope Has Come."  Their sons Logan and Zach will also be busy on stage with worship team, choir, and narrator roles.  We are so thankful God has not only brought them to 21/7, but made them such active members of our church.  They will also be joining us at our home, along with the Moss family, for Christmas day festivities.  We will have a happy house full of 15 people this Christmas and we look forward to all the fun!

 Though it's Christmastime, we are in what we call "early summer" or "winter" by your calendars.  Early summer here delivers, on average, an 80 degree day, sunshine, and lower humidity.  Not too bad.  Unless you're hoping for the tradition of Christmas snow.  This is the time of year we have to work at creating our own "

Look what came all the way to Nassau!!
Santa's throne and the mall Christmas tree

festive mood" if we're going to fully engage in the joy of the season.   Though there are some decorations out and about town, mostly things look much the same to us.  Beach, ocean, traffic.  Normalcy for an island.   Slightly sad it is when reds and greens on Christmas decorations hung out-of-doors quickly turn to pinks and yellows due to the high sun exposure.  But with the constant sunshine, fading occurs.

Yes, fading occurs in our hearts too.  For all of us, right?  Whether we live in the tropics or the cold of North Dakota, the fervency of our love for God, our love for others, and our love for pretty much anything (except maybe...ourselves?) begins to fade with time if we're not careful.  Upkeep is necessary, though it may not sound very poetic to say so.  The damage of the intense sun here is something I had never really experienced before, having lived mostly in a northeastern U.S. climate.  At first,, it amazed me how quickly the sun could fade our clothes if left out to dry too long.  Beach towels have long ago faded from the vibrant pinks and blues they once boasted.  Bathing suits, with the added enemy of the pool's chlorine, fade very quickly here unless they are constantly washed out and hung inside to dry.  And in our frail human bodies, the intense sun also can dehydrate our systems and create a malaise in us, even with the best attempts at staying "watered."  Upkeep is necessary. I see how my love for right things can also diminish if I leave it unattended.  Daily time with God, reading his word and in prayer, are necessary routines for keeping love for Him alive and vibrant.  And thankfully, the time we've lived here so far has been full of that routine, even when all else fails!  Yes the only begotten Son does not diminish our vibrancy like the created sun.  He is life-giving and ever-replenishing us.

One week from tomorrow, the girls and I (Kristin) will travel to Butler, PA to spend two weeks with my parents.  This year a wonderful friend is helping to pay for this expensive trip, and my parents are paying the rest.  Since this is probably the hardest time emotionally to be on 21/7, with missing family and traditions, we thank God for providing this outlet, both this year and last.  While we are back stateside, we will get in some visiting with friends, much-needed shopping, and some relaxation time after our busy Christmas season at church.

May this be a blessed season for you as you reflect on the One who came, breaking the silence of centuries, to speak Life to His people.  Hope has come.

Friday, 29 November 2013

beauty everywhere

About two months ago, our Kingdom Life friends the Deans took us on a little excursion to a family island, Andros.  A "family island" just means another island in the archipelago of Bahamian islands.  Andros is the largest of the Bahamian islands and is one of the largest land masses in the Caribbean.  Calvin, our host on this little retreat, was born and raised in Andros.  Now, before you think all exotic and begin to ooh and ahh over our "excursion" to another island, let me clarify.  Calvin and Keisha are trying to build a business; a car parts and hardware store, in Andros.  For them, this trip was mostly work.  They paid for our 15 minute flight (20 seat plane) and hotel.  Don't worry...I took plenty of pictures. 


This was not a functional buffet, but just some interesting décor
Let's start by showing you the hotel. Above you see the cute little walkway and gate that leads out to the office and parking space.  But this is just the beginning!  Check out what else this place had to offer:

Our room was the second door

this was such a desolate place...looks like winter
Two cranes just watching us...a pair of lovebirds?
At sea level, burial is done above ground...creepy...and beachfront!
Bahamian Bush...road to nowhere?
Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole...125 feet deep
Approaching a "settlement" on Andros

Termite nest...common but cool

    A beautiful old church, burnt but still standing


I could go on and on with the pictures, but this should give you a feel for Andros.  There was beauty, but it seemed harder to find in such a desolate island.  Austere.  Dark.  Wild.  Small settlements, suspicious of us.  Overcast conditions for the majority of our stay.  No developed beaches.  Convenience stores offering the only grocery shopping.  Keith kept saying how similar to his experience in Cote D' Ivoire, Africa this trip was.
We have to say that after seeing the landscape and lack of amenities in Andros, we felt much gratitude in returning to Nassau


When my husband and I were in college, the term "gratis" was used for the unreimbursed work you would render to the college if you broke a rule.  Examples of gratis would be: cleaning communal bathrooms, raking leaves, sweeping sidewalks, etc.  Of course, neither Keith nor I ever had to give "gratis" because we, ahem, never broke rules.

The funny thing is, I never really thought about the word "gratis" and what it meant.  I knew it had something to do with grace, but I couldn't figure out why the college administration would call punitive action "grace" when you were caught doing wrong.  You broke a rule, you would pay.  What's gracious about that?  Now I realize that it was really the student who would be offering "gratis" or free work to the college as a penalty for their crime.  But this actually defies the definition of gratis.  Wikipedia defines it thus: 
the quality of an action where the action is willingly provided without any requirement by the provider for compensation or monetary remuneration.

The students at our college were receiving something for the gratis work they did: forgiveness.  By doing the gratis, their record of law-breaking at the college would be wiped away for them. 

At this time of year where obvious blessings are being counted, written of and spoken into microphones at churches around America (or is that only at my parents' little Baptist Church in good 'ole Butler, PA?) the one I am most aware of is the gratis work of Christ.  Remember, gratis is the quality of an action where the action is willingly provided without any requirement by the provider for compensation or monetary remuneration.  Every other gratis work or gift ever given has been completed by someone who stands equally in need of true gospel gratis.  Gratis receivers can become gratis givers.  But Christ never needed gratis.  He defines it for us; in his his death.

Remember in this season, no matter what gifts you are given by friends or family, that though they are gratis to you, they do not ultimately compare to what Christ has given.  These earthly gifts have come to you by those who know what it is to need.  They may feel sorry for you, or identify with you in your need. They want to help alleviate your lack.  Ultimately, they want you to experience the good that they themselves have.  But Christ gave to us from a full cup that never grew dry.  He gives things that don't grow old, or stale, or evaporate.  He gives life and healing and hope and joy.  Eternal things.  He gives from his fullness and it never depletes him.  Gratis.  Unspeakable gratis. No payment required.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

it's actual, it's factual

Recently, an American friend made a comment on our facebook page asking, "Aren't there any Taco Bells there?"  Well the answer is "No."  So in this little lighter-side post, I thought we'd just give the run-down on what American things there are and are not in this new country of ours.  Today is our 17 month anniversary of living in Nassau, so in honor of those months, here we go!

American restaurants:

Burger King
Marco's Pizza
Domino's Pizza
Dairy Queen
Dunkin' Donuts
Johnny Rockets (Atlantis area, prices are of course NOT American prices!  But not astronomical)
Carmine's (Atlantis area.  Looked in, too expensive)
Subway (this one is back and forth, has been called "Bahamas Subs" and "Subway")
Outback (Woo-Hoo!  This is brand spankin' new.  Cheapest dinner is $19, but maybe for a special night like our upcoming anniversary?)

I think that's all.  Quite a few, actually.  As long as you like fast food!

Now as for stores, SORRY.  Nothing American here.  NO WALMART.  NO TARGET.  If those things existed here, Bahamians probably wouldn't leave the island nearly as much!

The closest thing we have to Walmart is a place called Solomon's.  It actually looks like the old blue Walmarts, with the little red star under the word "Supercenter."  Unfortunately it doesn't have the Walmart prices or variety!  We also have a CostRite, which is like a Costco, but obviously much smaller and with much less variety.  The prices are of course, not American either, but there are some deals to be found.   Some simple price comparisons for you are as follows:

gallon of Milk: $7 and up
loaf of bread: $3.40 and up
doz. eggs (on sale) $1.87
Coffee, small can of Folgers Classic Roast $7
Starbucks small bag of coffee: $12
5 lb. bag sugar: $2.49 and up
8 oz. bag choc. chips: $6
10 oz. bag of chopped walnuts: $9
1/2 gallon Breyers Ice Cream: $11 and up
Small jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter: $4.79 and up
6 oz. bag of Doritos: $5
Pack of Oreos: $7
individual cup of yogurt: $1.21 (.89 on sale!)
Pack of Andy Boy Romaine lettuce: $4.89 ($3.69 on sale)
Apples: .89 a piece
Grapes: 3.99 a lb., $2.99 on sale
12 pack of soda: $13.49
Spaghetti sauce: 2.79 for Can of Hunt's

All in all, not terrible for most things.  You can see that snack foods (or junk food) is where they really get you, as well as certain produce like apples.  The only time I buy apples is if I see them on clearance, packaged together.  The only time we buy things like Doritos is for Birthdays or if they go on major discount.  We never buy anything like Breyers ice cream.  Chocolate chips are only bought if it's someone's Birthday or a special holiday.

We so appreciate all of our friends who willingly bring us treats from the states!  We would feel much more "cut off" from normalcy if there weren't some occasional times where we get to have the treats we once took for granted back in the U.S.  God is good.

Monday, 18 November 2013

thankful theorem

Today was one of those days...the kind where one sees mostly good things for which to be thankful.   A perfect day, not too hot, very low humidity, blue skies.  We lit candles, put some premature Christmas music on, and felt a little skip in our step.  This came at a very opportune time, I assure you.  In my flesh, there is much I could point to as discouraging right now, but God has been working in my heart, quite unexplainably.  Or maybe not so unexplainably?  Lately I've felt the call to pray more and more, unceasingly.  Living overseas has many more challenges than I ever imagined.  Is it possible that we are under specific enemy attack by seeking to promote the gospel in this place?  We think it's quite likely.   And quite honestly, we have grown pretty weary of comments about us living in paradise.  Sinfully, I often bristle at such comments and wish for a moment that the "paradise" experience of having a tarantula run up their leg or a cockroach run across their neck in bed would happen to the person making said comments.  I assure you that if you were to live here for about a month, your ideas of "paradise" would be shattered.  Perhaps that sounds corrective, but surely we should all realize that any tourist spot we've been to has two sides: reality and fantasy.  The fantasy side is what sells.  The beauty, the charm, the fun, the entertainment.  But once that wears off, reality is all that's left. 
And that is when the work of being thankful for the hard realities begins.  Here are some of the realities for which I have really just begun to learn to be thankful:
  • no family to support us, but a church family that truly cares
  • friends who still don't know us well, but are trying to understand us, just as we are trying to understand them 
  • scary experiences (snakes, tarantulas, criminal activity) that cause me to run to God for peace and protection
  • financial difficulties which cause me to press into God further, trusting Him to provide for bills we cannot pay
  • crazy hot weather that reminds me this world is truly the closest I'll ever get to hell, since my hope is in Christ.
Recently we have seen God provide for us in amazing ways.  It's often the little things that "wow" us the most, because we know nobody could have known our need in a certain area but our Heavenly Father.  So when he prompts another child of His to give to us in a specific way, we are amazed!  Just a few days ago, we were praying that God would financially help Kristin's parents to secure plane tickets for her and the girls to visit over the upcoming holidays.  Within a few hours, a friend, somewhat "out of the blue" communicated that they felt led to help us in a particular way that day.  We knew immediately that God was using them to help offset the cost of the plane tickets.  That day also happened to be Kristin's dad's birthday.  How fun it was to Skype with her parents that day and let them know how God had supplied financial resources to help with the plane tickets!
Another moment of provision recently occurred when Keith was in Florida visiting family before and after the Sovereign Grace Pastor's Conference.  One family member happily passed on to us not only a laptop computer they no longer needed, but also an ipad!  Keith was so excited to show these surprises to the girls when he arrived home.  A few years ago when we first saw how an ipad worked and the opportunities for assisting in church music it could provide, we prayed that God would someday make it possible for us to acquire one.  Now God has generously supplied us with one, free of charge!! 
Another blessing by God through his people came recently when our guest Elisa Pawson came bearing gifts her family had sent.  Chocolate chips, nuts, and coffee are high-ticket items here, due to the rates of duty imposed on them, so when Elisa unpacked her bag and handed us these gifts, we were so grateful!  God cares for us in the most specific ways.
So my thankful theorem is this, usually in the midst of the hardest of times, there is a threshold we will cross. We will either give thanks in the midst of hardship and hold on to hope, or begin to complain, tired of the suffering.   So many times, I fail to express thanks to God in these difficult times and just after I "give up" on ever seeing and end to the difficulty, God supplies an answer or a provision.  I then wish I had held out in faith, believing God without doubting in that last moment.  I shared this recently with our Care Group here, and my faithful friend Keva said, "that's because you have to come to the end of yourself before you're ready to receive what God has for you."  Hmm.  Maybe she's right?  But perhaps there's a way to come to the end of myself without losing patience?  Without doubting?  Without giving up on God?  Still working on this "thankful theorem."  Consider these verses from the Hebrews "Hall of Fame" passage:
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


I'm not sure we ever realized the number of visitors we'd be receiving here in Nassau when we transplanted ourselves!  A few of these globe-trotters did not stay in our home while visiting, but we had them over for visits, overnights, or meals during their stay on the island.  Here's a list of all the visitors we've hosted in the 17 months we've been here:

  • July 2012: Tom  and Cindy Ryan (Gaithersburg, MD)
  • August 2012: Paul and Jackie Bunting and Jesse Ramsdell (Keith's parents and nephew from Florida)
  • Sept. 2012: Aron and Ellie Osborne (Orlando, FL)
  • Feb. 2013: Alyssa Waite (Terre Hill, PA)
  • Feb. 2013: The Privitera Family (Lancaster, PA)
  • March 2013: Chris Jessee (Orlando, FL)
  • April 2013: Anthony and Yvette Rood (Frederick, MD)
  • June 2013: Kim, Nathan, Philip and Jack Fernandez (Keith's sister and Family Warner-Robbins, GA)
  • June 2013: Neal Cypher (Kristin's brother, Atlanta, GA)
  • June 2013: Kevin and Becca Deming (Holly Springs, NC)
  • August 2013: Gracie Brown (Niceville, FL)
  • August 2013: Chris and Stephanie Jessee (Orlando, FL)
  • Nov. 2013: Elisa Pawson (Lancaster, PA)
  • Nov. 2013: Next Week: Randy, Tina, and Phoebe Wenger (Lititz, PA)
  • Nov. 2013: Week of Thanksgiving: Kevin and Diana Bunting and Matthew Ramsdell (Keith's brother, sis-in-law, and nephew from Orlando)

Ticket-holding visitors so far for 2014

  • Feb. 2014: Addison, Dana, Alyssa, Zane, and Mikaya Waite (Terre Hill, PA)
  • Feb. 2014: Doug and Brenda Plank (Millersville, PA)
Hospitality has become something we long to do better.  Currently, the home we rent is fairly well laid out for hosting visitors.  Starting early spring, we will begin looking for a new home to rent.  Our current landlords want to move back into this home. While trying to keep costs as low as possible, we still want to be able to offer beds to sleep in and bathrooms to use for our many guests.  A pool is a nice bonus, but not a necessity.  And along with our house-guests, we also show weekly hospitality through care group, youth group events, meals with church families and friends, and friends outside the church.   Will you pray along with us that God will provide something in budget that will bless those who come to visit? 

Just as God, through Christ, welcomes those both near and far into his kingdom, we want to reflect his character in the way we welcome others.  This is a work in the making, I assure you.  As you pray for us to find another rental home here, pray also that God will continue to equip us with skill and open hearts to receive all the dear ones He brings our way.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

though godless men conspire

Early in the morning of November 6, one of our dear church members lost his 34 year old sister and 14 year old niece to violence here in Nassau.  The news is devastating.  Allegedly, the person whom the suspects were attempting to kill was also in the home, but survived with only a gunshot to the leg.  The perpetrators opened fire on the home, leaving bullet holes everywhere.

As time progresses, more information will reveal the truth of what took place in those early morning hours, but the fact remains that murder was attempted and the innocent were killed in the wake.   

Years ago, when we travelled with a college singing group, Keith and I used to sing the song "God is in Control."  Here are the words I remember most right now:

God is in control
Though godless men conspire
His will unfolds
Though some are left to doubt
His ways are higher than our ways
So even through the fire,
Take heart and know...
God is in control

Does it seem, like the world
Is chaotically turning?
Sin and shame, un-arraigned
While godly men are adjourning?
Well our fathers warned that it would come to this
But just "hold your hat" and know that the final truth is...

God is in control

When life seems to make anything but sense, this is what we cling to....God Is In Control.  Nothing is outside his power to control. 

Please be in prayer for our dear friends at Kingdom Life...the Ingrahams (in-grams), as they grieve this terrible loss.  And also, please pray for our church as a whole...that God will bring good from this to stir our hearts for the lost, unite our hearts in compassion and brotherly affection, and cause us to examine our own response to the Savior.   We know there are many in our church who do not profess to be saved.  They come week in and out, sing the songs, yet do not want to commit their lives to God.  Pray that in moments like these, they will consider the life they are leading and see that "today is the day of salvation."

Thursday, 31 October 2013

beware of what you cannot see

We laugh a little now...a VERY little, at the naïve thinking we had about certain aspects of the Bahamas.  One obvious misunderstanding we had was the critter/bug population on this island of "paradise."  Staying at Cedric and Alexine's home both times we visited (our senior pastor and wife), we never saw more than some bees and "no see-um's".  But if you've ever seen their house, you'll understand why.  Critters can't get in.  It's a 3-storey home, high off the ground, and has very little "bush" on the property.  They also, for the most part, keep their windows shut.  Well...after living here for 16 full months, we can honestly say we've seen the good, bad, and the ugly of the animal kingdom here. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I am used to spiders, smallish snakes, mice, ants, get the idea.  The first time I ever saw a cockroach was on vacation in Myrtle Beach when I was a teen.  Soon after moving in here, I began seeing little black specks in my drawers: silverware drawer, linen drawer, cookware drawer.  Under the kitchen sink there seemed to be some sort of party of little black specks.  Then one day, a few weeks after moving in, I saw my first roach running across the floor.  I screamed and asked Keith to kill it.  Who was that woman?  I laugh now.  How many cockroaches have I killed?  Several dozen, I am sure.  Big ones, little get the picture.  My worst experience was having one crawl on my neck in bed at night.  As you can imagine, I screamed, threw on the lights and beat the bed sheets 'til it ran out.  It is an ongoing battle.  Even with an exterminator, there is really no insurance we won't have them.  They live in the sewage drains and climb up the pipes, which is why we find them often in rooms with sinks and tubs...I can only imagine what they are tracking in!

Ok, moving on.  Let's talk about snakes.  The girls had seen several little brown racer snakes on the property, which look like this:
Photo: google images

I also had seen one while putting the laundry out to dry.   But nothing could prepare me for the one I literally stepped over without seeing one hot July day.  A Bahamas' Boa Constrictor, about 6 feet in length and 3 inches in diameter.  He was soaking in the sun on my hot little cement side porch, tucked up under the door's threshold.  I stepped right over him, saw a flash behind me and there to my wondering eyes, was a snake just like this:


 Photo: google images

What's really amazing though is that just inches above this snake was my ripped screen door... In other words, one little poke, and this guy could've been in my house.  But God kept him out.  We realize the reason this snake was hanging out on our property is that there are numerous rats living under our porch, beneath the rock-scape out front, and of course, in and around the trash cans outside our gate.  This boa was merely following his instincts to rid the yard of pests.  I just wish he weren't quite so big and intimidating.

Which brings me to my next critter: the rat.  They make 'em bigger here.  Early on, our adopted Bahamian dog, Kali, seemed to enjoy pinning and killing these pests, but lately she's lost interest.  And the thing about the Bahamian rats is they aren't all that shy.  We now have 7 screens in our house in which rats have chewed holes...meaning, they have been inside the house.  Yikes.  I have seen the rats that climb through the kitchen screens.  Usually it happens at night, when we're sitting in the living room,  I will hear a ruckus and see a tail as the rat slinks back out of the hole in the corner of the screen.  But one night, we witnessed a real escapade.  As we were sitting on the couch talking, I heard a commotion in the dining room and all of a sudden a rat, airborne, plopped down on the rug in our entryway.  This thing had jumped down from the windowsill in the dining room, and across 6 feet of room, no easy feat!  This brings new meaning to the word "cheeky" I would say!
And finally, the pest I most fear: the tarantula.  Yes, this is the one I have feared most throughout my life.  Tarantulas are what I picture when I think "Amazon rain forest." I honestly never thought I would see one that wasn't behind glass at a zoo or a pet store.  I was wrong.  Not only did Keith have one climb up his leg while working on the yard (which, though at the time he didn't realize what he was swatting at, he killed successfully), but about two months ago, I got to have one of my very own under my bed.  It was 11:30 at night.  Keith was asleep on the couch, and I tried to wake him, saying, "I'm going to bed."  As I went in, realizing I still had some laundry to fold, I noticed a black shadow under the headboard by the bedside table.  I thought it might be a sock I dropped.  I walked away for a minute to see if it would move.  It did.  And this time, it's silhouette was obvious...tarantula.  I froze.  I called on the Lord.  I calmly went out and told Keith.  He wondered how he'd ever catch it or kill it.  With bug spray and broom in hand, he went in.  I stayed out in the living room, praying and trying not to worry as I heard the whacking sounds.  Finally Keith emerged, laundry basket in hand.  "I killed it.  Do you want to see it?  It's about twice the size of the one that crawled up my leg!"  Keith said.  "No thanks," I said.  I didn't want the image haunting me. 
It was a few nights before I could sleep in my bed.  And every night since, I check that same spot as I enter the room.  I wish I could say that my heart is settled when the sun goes down and darkness settles in on our yard and house.  But I continue to live with a keen awareness that critters are alive and well, and most likely lurking around the next corner. I don't think I've slept through the night once since the tarantula and cockroach episodes.  But God has kept me.  Where once I couldn't kill my own roaches, now I can...if I'm fast enough!  A degree of bravery. Keith recently included our critter experiences in a sermon he preached.  Our church could not believe the number of things: bugs, snakes, tarantulas...we have dealt with.  Without exception, NOT ONE of them has had this number of things happen to them in their entire lives here in Nassau, let alone within the course of only 3 months, as we have.  Some of them still aren't convinced I had a boa on my porch!
So as you think of us here, "in paradise," remember that we live in a place that crawls with critters.  Remember to pray for us.  Pray for our peace of mind.  Pray for our protection.  Pray that we simply would not have critters invade our house and property.  God can do that!  He's the only one who can.  And so we rest in His power.  We might be afraid of what we cannot see, but the God we worship sees it all and is never caught off guard.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

a literal Genesis means a literal Savior

Two Sundays ago, Oct.13th, Kingdom Life had the privilege of hosting Jay Seegert, founder of Creation Education Center, and his wife Amy.  Jay spoke for a young adult weekend at the Adventure Learning Camp and was gracious enough to speak to our church Sunday morning as well.  While there was so much information it felt as if we were "drinking from a fire hose," (Jay's words), I sat marveling at the awesome power of God.  Jay has dedicated the last 27 years of his life to studying all he can about the creation of the world, the inerrancy of Scripture in direct correlation to Creation and cross-referencing the biblical account with archaeological and scientific discoveries.  It all began when he went away to a secular college and realized he needed to know WHY he believed what he believed about God and His Word.  According to statistics, 50-75% of young adults leave the faith they once professed by the time they leave college.  Jay said he had a professor who had anyone who believed in God and the Bible to raise their hands.  Jay did.  Then the professor said, "by the time you're done with MY class, that will change."   This is sobering, but common in our secular education system today.  Sadly, even many professing "Christian" education institutes are beginning to promote  this type of teaching. 

"The literal truth of Genesis is the only way the literal need for a Savior exists" Jay said.  The more I pondered the book of Genesis, in all it's "firsts" (first account of earth's existence, first man, first woman, first spoken words of God to humans, first sin, first judgment, first promise of redemption...) it struck me, really for the first time, how true Jay's statement is.  If Adam and Eve were not literally created and did not literally sin just as Genesis records it, then there would have been no need for a Savior.  Christians who talk about the possibility of a mix between Biblical creation and evolution are missing this.  There's so much more I want to say about this, but I will hold off.

We were able to spend lunchtime with Jay and his wife Amy, together with the Mosses, Seeleys, and Humes.  This was a nice getaway from our usual Sunday afternoon.
(at the Moss home)
Kristin, Antja Humes, Cedric and Alexine Moss, Mindy and Tim Seeley,
Amy and Jay Seegert, Keith, and David Humes

Keaton and Kendall, Debbie Johnson (the Moss's niece), Logan and Zach Seeley,
Kara, and Abby Moss

Friday, 11 October 2013

free to homeschool

In light of recent events making "Homeschool News" (aka...the German family who had their children removed from their home over the illegal choice by the parents to homeschool), I realize that I can be SO thankful to God that we are living in a country (The Bahamas) where the right to homeschool is protected by law.  Since we are not citizens of The Bahamas, I don't think our children would be permitted to attend the public school system (nor would we feel extremely safe doing so), and we definitely can't afford the private schools here (about $10,000 a year per child), so it was providential that we were already homeschooling when God brought the possibility of moving here to our attention. 

We have a Homeschooling Association that meets here several times a year.  Most meetings are for moms to give and receive support.  But a few Fridays ago, we had a "Back to School Bash" at a neighborhood park for all the kids.  I believe there were about 180 people in attendance that day.  It was HOT, but fun, seeing the kids engaged in many "field day" type games such as tug-of-war, balloon relay races, and three-legged races.  I helped out with the 10-13 year old group and we had plenty of laughs together.  This is the first event that our girls were able to go to and I think they were surprised at how many homeschooled students there were on this island!

Kendall, Abby, Kara, Keaton (right of picture)
I met some wonderful moms that day, most of whom are Christians.  Next Friday, Oct. 18, we will be opening up our pool for a homeschool hang-out day.  Here are some pictures showing you the fun we had at our field day.  ENJOY!
Kara in the pink pants...we're about to do the hula hoop game
Kristin making sure the circle remains unbroken
Abby Moss (far left) and Keaton in the teen group
About to do a relay...Kristin on the right
Relay in action...Tense!!

Monday, 7 October 2013

backtrack post

I was waiting to post about our youth group pool party night here at our home on Sept. 28th because my friend Mindy took pictures for me I wanted to include.  Now that her post is up on her own blog, I'm borrowing the shots she got of our fun evening.  Counter Culture is the name for our Youth Ministry at Kingdom Life, and this year has gotten off to an exceptional start.  We thank God for Clarence and Demetria Rolle who serve our teens week in and week out in this way.  They serve tirelessly in this role.  Not everyone chose to swim that night, but it seemed like a great night for fellowship.  Keith led a discussion called "What's on your ipod?" and it really opened up many lines of thought and discussion for how these young people are interacting with culture through the venue of music.  Many teens had good insight into what they classify as "bad" music, "amoral" music and "helpful" music.  We were blessed to see God at work in the hearts of this next generation, and we pray He continues to grow them spiritually as they enter adulthood.  As with many churches, the 20-something crowd often seem to leave church altogether after either graduating high school or college.  We pray that this new group of teens will not fall to that cycle, but will with God's help, be builders of the church in the years to come.
Logan led us in a short worship time
Our small, but great group of teens listening to Keith
Logan, Joshua, Zach, Schneider, and Clarence (our fearless leader!)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

a pleasant surprise

Yesterday afternoon Keith called from the office to say the Seeleys  had invited us over for dinner.  This brought a smile to my face.  If you recall earlier posts, we have introduced the Seeley family and talked about their work here as missionaries. You can find them here:

It was a good night of food and fellowship for us all.  Our friend Jen Rogers (whom we've also written of) and Marion, a missionary here from France joined us at the Seeleys as well.  In the midst of the many hurdles we've recently been facing, it was so helpful to be together with like-minded believers and talk about our challenges and our faith for being here.  The Seeleys arrived on 21/7 back in January and life here has been a whirlwind for them.  Trying to get a full-fledged camp ministry up to the bible camp standards they're used to back in Minnesota is a tiresome job.  Many demands seem to pull at them from all sides.   But although they would not choose this tropical location (like us, they prefer mountains, lakes, and places to hike!) they love the Bahamian people...and so they stay.  Hearing from them, as well as talking through our own challenges in living here helped us regain some perspective.

One of the things we evaluate from time to time is how effective our ministry is here.  Is it bearing fruit?  Are we doing things that reflect the culture?  How can Kingdom Life Church proclaim the gospel through music more effectively?  The Seeleys helpfully, yet simply explained that for them, our being at Kingdom Life was a draw for them to join the church.  Having a "multi-cultural" church with representation by two very different pastors helped them to feel comfortable in our church.  This was helpful to hear.  Since January, God has added three new families and one single to our church...all of whom are Caucasian American/Canadian.  Though we long to see God bring Bahamian people to build the church up, this is not how He has chosen to work right now.  Though many Bahamian visitors have come through the church doors, they do not come back week after week.  Why is this?  What can we do to change this?  We pray, asking for God's guidance.

We thank God for the ways He is working and we want to continually treasure the means of grace, such as biblical fellowship, which he provides in surprise moments like last night.  Our Father knows exactly what we need and when... He is trustworthy.
Left to Right: Logan, Keith, Kristin, Zach, Keaton, Kendall, Kara, Mindy, Tim
Front: Marion and Jen

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

prayers answered and requested

Can't believe today starts a new month...October!  It's been nearly a month since we last posted here.  So sorry for the long gap.  September was quite a month for us here on 21/7.  News about many things, both happy and not so happy seemed to be the theme for the month. 

Happy News:

  • Delta is beginning a non-stop flight, Nassau to Pittsburgh, beginning this December.  This is a DIRECT answer to prayer for us.  Since Kristin's mom is oxygen-dependent 24/7, she needs a quick and direct way to travel here due to the difficulties of travelling with oxygen on planes.  This option of a direct flight is the only possibility for her to ever visit us here!  We praise God for bringing this into being.

  • We have been praying for a way to cut expenses, and realized our home is the only thing we can cut back on.  However, knowing our lease was for 2 years, we figured we were locked in until this coming July.  BUT.....Our landlords want to move back into the home we are renting from them, provided they are able to break the lease of the home they themselves are in.   If we are able to find something cheaper in a safe locale, we could be looking at moving as early as January.  This will save us money, with the trade-off being we lose the "home away from home" we've had over the last 16 months. But the plus would be that we may be able to afford to turn on the a/c once in a while during the hot days and still save expenses.
Not So Happy News:

  • Funds need raised in order for the Buntings to remain here at Kingdom Life.  If you want to hear a detailed break-down of what Kingdom Life is trying to raise to fulfill our salary through June, listen here and go to the sermon from Sept. 22nd. 

  • Our van is grounded for now.  Transmission issues as well as old cooling system issues resurfacing are causing us to look at possibly selling it for what we can and looking for something very inexpensive for Keith to drive to and from work.  (He was pulling for a little scooter-type thing, but out of great love for his children and his wife, he's decided against it.)

  • Two days ago, Sunday the 29th, Kristin needed to go to the hospital here for an emergency endoscopy.  After sitting down to a meal we were hosting for the College students that attend Kingdom Life, Kristin began having swallowing issues.  This is something that's gone on for 22 years, but never to this extreme.  After 6 hours of trying other means to no avail, she was taken to the OR for the procedure.  Clearly it was the only solution, because when the doctor went into the esophagus he found all manner of food trapped in the path.  This will continue to be an ongoing issue due to the way her esophagus is unusually narrow and ribbed.  We praise God for helping us resolve this scary episode.  We thank him for the 2 doctors who attend Kingdom Life and their willingness to help us decide on what to do, as well as be an advocate for us once we entered the hospital.

We're SO glad you asked!!  Here's what we are praying for...please join us...
  1. For funds to come in to support us here.  Pray that whether it be from Kingdom Life, or anonymous donors somewhere, God will supply through his people, the means to keep us on mission here.  We have faith to continue and we would not want something as trivial as money to stand in the way of fulfilling what we believe God has brought us here to do.
  2. For a solution to our transportation needs.  Whether we try to fix the van or find a used vehicle, we will need God's help.  The size of the van was a true blessing here, where we do a lot of transporting people to and from church as well as transport visitors when they come!  If the van cannot be fixed, it is unlikely we will be able to replace it with another van.
  3. For our insurance company to make good on payment for Kristin's endoscopy.  In the midst of all the other financial challenges, this trip to the ER was expensive.  The funds to pay our deductible weren't even something we had in reserve, and we really need for the insurance to pay the rest.  The hospital was "out of network" for our Aetna International insurance.  But it is the only option we have here.  Pray that God will give our situation favor before the insurance company.
Well, hopefully this was not a "downer" post.  We want to keep our U.S. friends and family abreast of the situation here without focusing on only the challenges.  We know that if God truly wants us here, He will continue to make a way in the desert.  He is MORE than able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think.  All praise to Him.

Monday, 9 September 2013

a growing community

Keisha, Kristin, Keva, Jen, Karen, Aniah, Mindy, Demetria
We're so thankful for the ways God is knitting us in at Kingdom Life Church. And we're seeing God bring a beautiful combination of people to make our "home away from home" family. Two weekends ago we were invited to a birthday party for our new friend, Jen Rogers, who moved here in June from Denver, CO. (We were atonished when we found out Jen was a member of the Denver Sovereign Grace Church!!) She happily began attending Kingdom Life from the very first Sunday she was on the island. As a single lady in her mid-life, Jen is an excellent example of pursuing others rather than waiting to be pursued. She realized that celebrating her birthday could be a lonely time here if she didn't take advantage of the new friends and church family God was placing in her life. When she sent out the invitation to come for cake and fellowship, I was thrilled to see her reaching out to her new church family! And what resulted that Saturday afternoon was much more than a little birthday celebration. We laughed, we explored the native fruit trees at the camp where she lives, we talked of God's provision...we made some great memories. All because Jen reached out. Hope you enjoy the photo fruits of that day!
From left to right: Logan and Tim Seeley, Keith, Clarence and Demetria Rolle, Adalbert and Karen Ingraham, Kristin, Keva, Back row of picnic table: Kara, Mindy Seeley, Kendall, Aniah Ingraham, Andre Rolle.  Front row of picnic table: Jen Rogers, Alexandria Rolle, Keaton
Left to right: Mindy, Jen, Faye, Karen, Demetria
walking in the beautiful wetlands area
We stopped to look at the horses and donkeys at the Learning Center

Thursday, 22 August 2013

for those of you who are visual...

Here ya go, folks.  A choice of videos for your viewing pleasure.  Both show re-caps of our wonderful week of Music Camp.  The first one is shorter and very well done by our own Clarence Rolle from church (works for Ministry of Tourism here).  The second was produced by the Metro Life team and is quite a bit longer (and also shows a lot of their personal mission experience).


Saturday, 17 August 2013

finding our rhythm again

Happy Saturday to you.  I am so thankful for the last few weeks of busyness and guests in our home!  Just when we need it, God fills our lives with great people and wonderful experiences.  Music Camp, the crew that came to serve from the U.S. Sovereign Grace Churches, and having Gracie Brown stay with us over the last two weeks were God's provision to us. 

Gracie is a kindred- spirit- friend of Keaton's whom she met while we were at the Pastor's College.  I will never forget, upon leaving Lancaster for the PC, John Haughery telling us of his special childhood friend whom he had met years before when HE was a boy in Gaithersburg.  Same type of PC training model...families together for months, then sent out to churches all over.  John's boyhood friend ended up being a friend for life and stood with him on his wedding day.  Keaton had no such hopes for her year at the PC...yet God blessed her with Gracie.
Having her visit with us for two weeks was a reminder of how God can alter the course of our lives through relationships...and we never know when or where we are going to meet people who may become forever etched into our future. 

These past weeks and days, we've also had the chance to bond more with Chris and Stephanie Jessee.  Chris is the director of worship, youth, and children's ministries at Metro Life Church in Orlando.  He stayed with us back in April? when the Orlando prophecy team came.  We met up with he and his lovely wife and kids during our short stay in Orlando this July. Then we were able to work together during our week of Music Camp, and host them for a few nights after the rest of the team headed home. 

We also met some wonderful adults and teens from Niceville, FL, Philadelphia, Clearwater, FL, Miami, FL, Charleston, SC, and Gainesville, FL.  We were blessed to the gills when mission team members showed up with bags of coffee, 9 containers of Goldfish (which my girls requested), toiletry items, books, chocolate chips...the list goes on.  They already were serving us so amazingly just by coming to help staff our Music Camp, but they went above and beyond by bringing us treats!  God continues to amaze our children by the way he provides gifts like this that we often can't provide for ourselves.  It's our "manna" we tell them.  Can't keep it and horde it, but while it's here, let's enjoy it, share it, and give God thanks.

I meant to give a resounding "THANK YOU LORD!" for the amazing turnout we had at our Music Camp held August 6-9.  All in all, 97 children came at one point or another to our camp, with an average attendance of 85 each day.  Only 15 of those were from our church.  So...70 or so visiting children were exposed to the gospel each day.  Along with that, we had 83 children perform Friday front of all their parents, siblings, and extended family.  I have never seen our church so full!!  We pray God will water and fertilize these gospel seeds that have been planted.  In conjunction with this Music Camp, Keith would like to begin a Community Children's Choir with practices held in our church either weekly or bi-weekly.  He mentioned this idea at the concert last Friday night, and it was met with hearty applause from the parents.  This would be a way to provide underprivileged kids with an opportunity to belong to something positive and skill-related.  They would receive musical training, social connections to Christian children, and ultimately be exposed to the gospel weekly.  We pray God works out the details and provides all that would be needed for such an endeavor.  Will you pray along with us?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

filled to capacity

Kingdom Life Music Camp 2013 started off with a BANG this past Tuesday at 9am.  With over 80 kids in attendance the first day, we realized God had answered above and beyond the prayers we prayed for this camp's attendance.  Today was day 3of 4 and we are still in the 80-85 marker for kids coming.  WOW.  That's a lot of kids, you know? 

It feels as if every inch of our church building is filled with humanity.  It feels as if every inch of our strength is being called upon to love and serve these kids the best way possible this week.  Broken and spilled out...I think I said that a few posts back.  We are so tired we can't think straight at night (sorry, 'cause nighttime is the ONLY time I have to blog!)  I would love to be more eloquent, but for now I'll leave you with some names, numbers, and pictures.  

J-quan, Dave, Savannah, Maquanda, Stephen, St. Clair, Jermaine, Samuel, Keni, Kennae, Alisha, Ephraim, Paris, William...just a few of the many beautiful children I get to love on this week...pray for them...pray for salvation...for their parents too...

85 children!  We prayed for 60 and God gave us 85! 
6 hours a day...long come early and leave late....
24 hours...24 hours from now the camp will be over, the concert will be over, and we will have shared the gospel with 85 kids and all the moms, dads, aunties, uncles, grandmothers, cousins, and neighbors who came to see them perform. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

community day

WOW!  It is hard to imagine that just a year ago, we were doing our mall "Community Day" presentation for the first time.  Keith's parents and nephew Jess were here for it.  Today the same bench where they sat was just across from our booth, and I looked longingly at it, thinking, if I just stared long enough, Jackie would re-appear there.  But she didn't.  She's with Jesus.  And I wouldn't take her away from Him for anything.

  In honor of her, I wore the blouse we bought her for her birthday on that trip.  I was able to reclaim it on our trip to Florida last month.  And how Jackie would have loved to hear our Children's Choir singing today...  And maybe she did?

We must have handed out a hundred balloons today, greeted many families, and invited their children to our upcoming Music Camp/VBS this week.  I believe we received about 15 more registrations today, bringing out grand total to 69.  We were praying for 60, and 69 would be wonderful! 

Our worship team sounded exceptionally good in the mall, proclaiming the goodness of God and the kindness of our Savior.  Many people gathered around for songs such as "How Great Thou Art" and "Blessed Assurance."  Keith was even interviewed on a Christian Radio station!  He had mentioned to the radio guy in passing, that this kind of religious activity would never be welcomed at a mall in the U.S.  The man found that interesting, so they began interviewing Keith. Cool?  I think so.  It also provided an opportunity for him to pitch the Music Camp one more time!  God's ways are definitely higher than ours. 

All in all, we had a full but wonderful day as a church.  Gracie Brown, Keaton's dear friend she met at Pastor's College in 2011 is here for 2 weeks, and already she's been a blessing.  We look forward to our time with her and all she will add to our mission this week!

The girls and I will be serving dinner again out at Adventure Learning Camp this week, filling in for dear Mindy who just had her knee operated on.  Have no fear, the Bunting Girls (and Gracie) are here!  The camp is where our mission group from Florida is staying anyway, so by cooking out there, we'll only get to spend more time with them! 

Pray for us as we step into this week of serving, morning, noon, and night.  We know we will make some amazing memories and see God move in ways we haven't yet.  Pray for stamina, safety and health, resources, children to be saved, and for those of us who know Christ to be drawn closer to Him.  We couldn't do this without you all praying!! Keep up the good work.  'Til next time...

Keva and Kristin...kindred spirits

Beautiful Tia...2 weeks 'til college!

Kendall and friends
Donovan loves Pastor Keith!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

though the fig tree should not blossom...

I've always treasured these words of Habakkuk,

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, YET I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."

After our precarious homecoming (see last blog post), we knew we needed a fresh vision of why God has placed us here on 21/7.  There is always a period of adjustment when we come back home to Nassau, as we are re-entering a developing country with many inconveniences we do not experience back in the U.S.  

At first, our prayers seemed to be counter-productive.  Instead of our eyes adjusting to all the blessings of living here, we began to see more of the challenges.  Our refrigerator would not return to working status after the power had been cut for 24 hours, our van wouldn't start, and when it did finally start, it was blowing lots of gray smoke out of the exhaust.  The pool guy was not returning our phone calls and so the pool continued to be a rich green color, playing nursery to many tadpoles.  We were quickly reminded of the happy mosquito population inside our home as we pulled out the OFF spray. 

Then Saturday came.  It was "Spread the Word" Saturday to advertise our upcoming Music Camp-VBS which begins August 6.  We had been expecting at least 20 people or so to come and help canvass the streets, yet only 13 of us arrived at the church.  Other than the Moss and Bunting families, we had only 4 people come to "Spread the Word."  We knew there was a birthday party taking place that had been planned before we set this date, but we didn't realize HOW MANY people it would involve!  So the 13 of us prayed, equipped ourselves with water and sunscreen and hit the streets around our church. 

The two hours or so we spent canvassing the church neighborhood were two of the best hours we have spent living on this island.  I have previously posted about the Kemp Road is a low-income, "don't be there at night" type of neighborhood.  But what joy we found there as we met people, invited them to our Music Camp, and just walked the streets together!  Heaps of trash were just a part of the ambience.  As I got down to talk to one little boy, I was struggling not to eyeball the old shoes, abandoned refrigerator, and countless discarded cans and bottles that surrounded us.  Another boy was ingeniously making a basketball hoop out of an old crate and hammering it to a telephone pole.  I picked up his ball, dribbled it, and shot it through his new hoop.  He stood looking in disbelief that I, a middle-aged white woman, would play with him.  I was touched by how much they wanted to hear what we had to say, people coming to gather as they saw us standing amongst their neighbors sharing our invitations.  Two unknown ladies said they wanted to help spread the word and took a small stack of invitations to hand out as they walked in another direction.

At one home made of plywood, two mothers stepped out with guarded looks at first.  I quickly smiled and said, "We're from Kingdom Life Church and we're having a FREE music camp August 6th through the 9th..."  They took the invitations and began looking at them. Children in a group of 6 or 8 suddenly were there at our side, saying "I wanna come!"  "Me too!"  One young lady, who said she was 17 said "I'm comin' too!"  We looked at each other, knowing the camp is supposed to be for ages 5-12 and said, "Go ahead and come.  There'll be other teens there helping." 

I can't even tell you the good it did our hearts to interact with these wonderful people....people God made and desires to save.  Even now, my heart is full and my eyes are weepy to think of them.  Homes that don't have running water, homes that are ramshackle and surrounded by rubbish.  But people with beautiful smiles and hearts eager to be loved by somebody. 

We hope to go out again this coming Monday, when the team from Metro Life will be here to help.  Honestly, next to Sunday meetings at church and serving out at Adventure Learning Camp, this is the biggest highlight of living here so far.  "For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever." Ps. 9:18

Pray that God will urge the hearts of these mothers to send the kids, and that the kids will remember to come.  Pray that hearts will be fertile ground for receiving the gospel next week.  Pray for souls to be saved.
Keaton, Kristin, and Leslie caught in the rain as we canvass the church neighborhood

Thursday, 25 July 2013

welcome back, or not....

We have made it safely back to Nassau!  And it is no small thing.  Thank you to all who have prayed, provided, and partnered with us in the last 16 days.  Our trip back to the U.S. was a whirlwind of visiting with friends and family, hours and hours of driving (which we don't need to do again for a long, long time!), and shopping for things to bring back to Nassau.  We were feeling pretty eager to get home yesterday, sleep in our own beds and just relax after all the activity of traveling, but alas; that was not what our Heavenly Father had in store for us!

After boarding the plane at 12:30 and sitting grounded for over an hour, we realized we would not be leaving the U.S. when planned.  The plane had mechanical issues.  We were thankful the pilot never tried to leave the ground.  Eventually the flight was rescheduled for 4 pm. The flight was smooth and safe and we were able to land, go through immigration and customs without any incidents.  This is no small thing, I assure you!  Every time I have traveled back to Nassau in the last 12 months, there have always been issues at the airport, usually at immigration.  God was answering our prayers for a smooth re-entry, and we are so grateful.

 We arrived back at our house around 6:45 last night, having been taxied by Cedric back to his home, where we had left our car (and a receiving a wonderful dinner to take home with us from Alexine!) All of us are a little under the weather with colds, and we were anticipating a few hours of relaxing, after the long travel day, little sleep the previous night or two, and a general need for down-time.  Keith was eagerly hoping for a dip in the pool to cool off before going to bed. Once home and walking up to the front door, he noticed a  yellow sticker on the door, announcing that our power had been shut off that day due to an unpaid balance.  Ahem....the power company here doesn't give warnings or make deals with you, they just shut off the power a few hours before nightfall...and're in the dark.  Since we are renting, all our utilities are paid through our landlords.  If we don't receive the bill from see what happens.

 We also quickly saw that the pool was filled with algae and debris.  It was a lovely greenish color.  OK, not so lovely.  We were confused as to why this would happen, since we had a pool service man taking care of things while we were away.  Apparently, he did not come over the last 16 days.  So the pool is in dire need of chemicals and cleaning, and won't be up for use any time soon. 

We made a few calls and realized we would need a place to stay for the back we went to the Mosses!  What would we do without them?  They gladly put us up for the night and here I am in their guest room, typing this blog post this morning.

As we reflect back on our trip home yesterday and all the details that surrounded it, we see a few things.

1: God is faithful and our lives are filled with obvious blessings.  He took care of us.  He sustained us through all the driving, flights, and changes we could not have planned for.  He provided a smooth entry through immigration and customs, easier than ever before.  Cedric was right on time to pick us up and drive us to our vehicle.  Alexine had a lovely blessing of a warm dinner prepared for us to take home.  We can celebrate the kindness of friends, once again.

2: God is faithful when life is full of unplanned disappointments.  We cannot ever assume things will go as we've planned or that we'll find comfort when we think we need it most.  God speaks through the difficulties, however small and insignificant they be.  A rescheduled flight, a power-less home, overgrown yard, algae-filled pool and having to ask for help yet again, may not be the comfort we were seeking, but they are what God gave, alongside all the positive aspects of yesterday.  Blessings in disguise, I am sure. 

This morning we were able to take some time and pray, asking God to help us have clear sight as we return to life in Nassau, embrace the busy weeks ahead, and get our home back in order.  It was a grace-filled morning after a series of unplanned moments yesterday.  It can be our tendency, as fleshly people, to only speak of the negativities in life.  And of course, in the fallen world, there are many.  But it takes grace to speak of the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  And that is what we want to communicate.  GRACE.  God's riches at Christ's expense.  Always.  In every trial.  In every unseen event.  GRACE.  We live in it, are redeemed by it, and stand because of it.