He has risen!

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We have found our church, and Sunday we went.  We were dead tired from being up all night but we love this church so much that we rarely miss a chance to go.
When it was time for the sermon, our pastor declared it time to pray for those who need healing in their bodies, souls, or spirits.  I perked up, since I had just told Hj I would like to have someone pray for my arthritis in my knee.  I’ve had it for about 5 years, but recently it’s been getting worse fast and I wasn’t sure how to manage the pain anymore.
An usher delivered a little white paper to the front, and the pastor announced that someone received a word of knowledge from the Lord that this is the day to pray for knees, hips and legs.  I perked up a little more, and I squeezed Hj’s hand ‘real good,’ because they said “knees.”
I raised my hand when they said to raise your hand if you wanted prayer.  A little girl came over to pray for me, except that she is the associate pastor’s wife and she has three kids (she looks nice and young).  Jesus came to me too and He got right in my face, with a pretty strong message.  If you have ever had those blazing eyes of fire right in your face, you will know what I’m saying: never the same.  
I heard the pastor asking if anyone received immediate healing and I remembered my knee.  I grabbed it to check, and I was so stunned because the lumps were gone, the pain was gone, the loud popping and tearing noises were gone.  I had tangible evidence in my hands, but my brain kept saying: “probably a fluke,”  “I’m imagining,” “the pain will come back.”
I don’t know what God counts as faith, but I don’t have much.  I don’t naturally believe the best.  I don’t hope all things, endure all things or believe all things.  I’m struggling through the Bible this year, because I have such a hard time believing all those crazy tales.  My heart has been crying, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!  I want to believe You are good.  I want to see Your glory.”
This week we received gut-wrenching news.  Terrorists at the airports, again?  Please, no.  A young widow and baby girl trying to breathe through an unspeakable loss.  Jesus, where are You?  Babies murdered, slaves abused, believers tortured.  I am tempted to wonder why He wasted His power on my silly knee and failed to rescue those innocent lives.  I don’t understand.
I don’t have to understand.  All I know is that God is always, always good.  Like a cloud by day and fire by night, the covenant that He established with me is heavy on my heart.  No matter what is behind me or what is before me, my feet are on the rock that cannot be shaken: “God is unfailingly good.”

Church shopping

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We call it church shopping, but I wonder if that’s really the best term?  Like, where can you get the best deals?   How’s the loyalty program?  Who has the cheapest coffee?  You know what I’m saying?  It doesn’t seem like a good term for church.
I’ve never lived in such a religious place before; there are hundreds of churches in Colorado Springs.  Yellow Pages gave me 565 and I bet it doesn’t know the little house churches tucked among the steeples.  You can even get reviews on yelp.com or Google, if you don’t want to go visit them all in person.  “The worship is great and the people sing passionately.”  “This place is AMAZING!  The pastor is funny and a real person.”  “The music is so loud it drowns out all other sound.” (5 stars!)  Of course they don’t all get five stars.  “Largest brainwash facility in the Springs” is one of the kinder one-star reviews.
Colorado Springs is sometimes called the Mecca of Christian organizations.  I was trying to read at Starbucks the other day and two guys next to me were having their spiritual accountability meeting.  We went out for pie and the girl behind us was telling her parents about people getting gloriously delivered from their generational iniquities.  (I can’t help it; I eavesdrop.)  All this to say, it’s a pretty Christian city and you have a wide selection of churches.
We tried not to visit too many, as it can be overwhelming.  Off the top of my head, I’m counting eight that we’ve been to so far.  It’s given us a slightly broader perspective of the church in America, or at least the church in Colorado Springs.  We prayed for God to lead us to one that we could join.  We laid down some of our misgivings and some of our desires.  We talked about how to choose a church– what’s important, what’s not?  Really, how do you choose a church?
Do you choose the church that has the soundest statement of beliefs?  Do you choose the church where you feel at home and the people are friendly?  Do you choose the church that supports missions?  Do you choose the church that has a big emphasis on community?  Do you choose the church because the pastor is funny or the music is so loud it drowns out all other sound?  Church was a really big deal to me, growing up.  All of life revolved around it.  For Hj, not so much.  He went to church but a lot of life was lived outside church too.  So we prayed and talked a lot.
If you’re waiting for my epiphany, here it is.  Last Sunday the preacher said something that helped me visualize what church is about.  He gave the analogy of a stone foundation or wall, where each of us is a “living stone, being built into a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:5  He challenged us to look at the church and ask ourselves, Where can I fit in seamlessly?  Where can I put my stone so that no one will notice me, because I am perfectly fitted for my spot?  I love to picture that strong foundation where Jesus is the Cornerstone and all us lively stones are aiming to give our best, to fit into our calling and gifting, to make sure the whole church is strong and perfectly fit together.
I think I’m going to write about apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists next, but in the context of women.  Audacious, eh?

Community Life

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Sometimes people ask what it is really like living in community.  I suppose you could visit a Hutterite colony to find out, or better yet, come spend a week with us.

We live in a former hotel, two stories tall and spread out wide.  There are several wings to this big bird; we live in the 100’s wing, which is mostly long-term staff housing.  We, the Fouserts, have two adjoining rooms, as hotels sometimes have.  One room is our bedroom and the other room serves as our kitchen/livingroom.  A lot of people here cook in the bathroom, but we are blessed with a few cupboards and a sink in our living area.  I cook with a crockpot and an electric skillet, mostly.  Sometimes when we have guests and I want to bake an apple crisp, for example, we take it to one of our generous neighbors who have an oven.  I make yogurt, lasagna and baked oatmeal in the crockpot.  I’ve made carrot cake and paninis in the waffle iron.  It’s really nice.  I like limitations; they force me to be creative and innovative.

There’s a community dining room where we could eat 3 meals a day, but we probably average 3 meals a week there.  We have to pay per plate so it isn’t the most economical, besides being an overly stimulating environment for our kids.  As staff, we have to help with lunch preps and clean-ups every quarter.

Mondays and Wednesdays we have community worship and intercession in the ballroom.  Ellie is especially fond of these times, when she can dance and sing and wave a flag for Jesus.  I am usually trotting after young Adam, but I love the moments I get to hear from God or pray for someone. Once a month we have prayer and fasting all day in the ballroom.  The last one was very creative, and included beautiful loaves of freshly baked bread!  A very interesting twist to fasting, don’t you think?  There were several stations where you could be creative with your hands, including woodworking.  The kids loved it.  Benjamin, who is 11, was eating a slice of fresh bread with great joy and his mom asked him seriously, “How are you experiencing God in this delicious bread?”  His answer was astounding, but I won’t tell you because you should find your own 11-year-old and ask him a similar question.

There are coin laundries in every wing, with a sign up sheet to reserve your time.  I only do laundry once a week since it is a little production to reserve my slot, take it all upstairs and then run up every half hour to change loads, each time with two toddlers in tow.  They love to help but they don’t streamline the process, if you know what I mean.

Across the hall from us is the boutique: our very own second-hand store where everything is free.  This has proved especially wonderful for Adam, who loves to explore new things.  Every week he gets a new noisy toy!  I’m not sure when he’ll catch on that his old ones disappear at a similar rate.  The gym is beside the boutique and that is where we have ladies’ boot camps twice a week.  The same personal trainer also runs with Hj, in the beautiful Yute Valley.  They lift weights with boulders and cool stuff like that.

We have an online communication system, a virtual bulletin board for the base.  People post all sorts of announcements.  The other day someone posted a notice that three eggs were missing from her carton in the community kitchen.  She had written her name on the box six times, plus a note inside, and yet three eggs mysteriously disappeared.  That is part of the clumsiness of living on a big YWAM base.  You hear quite a few pep talks about taking ownership, being good stewards, turning off lights, helping with the bills.

Most afternoons someone knocks on our door.  It might be the kids who want to play with Adam and Ellie, or someone popping by for a visit, or inviting us to come along to the park or go for a walk.  One at a time, we are inviting every household in our wing over for a meal.  But you know how it goes?  We had one family over five times already and some of the others we’ve not even talked to.

That’s part of community too.  You connect with some people very easily, but not everyone, and that’s ok.  We are finding our places, feeling more settled.  I made a friend at the park and one at church.  I even invited myself over when I felt like it: the perfect antidote to loneliness!

The other day Hj was talking to Susan and Alison and they discovered that among our three households, we had all the ingredients to make borscht.  So Friday night we all met at Susan’s house and cooked together.  Susan is a Mennonite magnet; she is always telling me about all the Mennonites on base.  While we were talking, a new student popped in and said he is a Mennonite too.  They mostly have last names like Thiessen and Fehr.

We will show you the rest of our community when you come visit this summer.  🙂