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Thursday, April 23, 2009


What a special evening. Tonight we had supper with some Crossroads friends, the Skiffs, for the first time. Now you understand that this is a family with five kids and a crazy busy life that made time in their schedule to invite us into their home. That means so much to me, that someone finds my family valuable enough to allocate an evening of their time for us. It is such an honor.

But here's the even cooler part. One of their sons is in my class. He has been excited about me coming over all day long. During a special assembly today, he raised his hand like he had a question and the speaker said, "Yes sir?" and he said, "Mrs. Kemp is coming over to my house for dinner and we're having cheesecake."

We had a great evening. The kids had lots of fun running and playing. Two big families make for a bit of awesome chaos. We got to know each other's families better, and I most definitely ate a huge slab of the best cheesecake I have EVER eaten in my entire life.

Right before we left, my student said the most touching thing, "Mrs. Kemp maybe you could come spend Christmas at my house. We might get you lots of nice presents if you came." I don't even know how to explain how touched I was by this comment. He loves me that much and was so excited to discover that I could come to his house. He's ready for me to spend the holidays.

So I was thinking this over and thinking about how special and honored I felt to be invited into someone's home. I'm pretty sure that our busy lives that keep us from having perfectly clean homes also keep us from practicing Biblical hospitality. It is a critical component of Christianity that we have long ignored. In the last year, I have improved with opening my home. I can't begin to tell you how blessed I have been by the experience of having people regularly hanging out at our house. Something almost magical happens in relationships when you invite people into your home. Maybe it's just harder to wear a mask and play pretend in your own home. It is easier to be real and genuine and that creates beautiful relationships.

So a super evening. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthin' Babies

It's been a blast the last couple of days hatching chicks in my class. We now have about 10 chicks and 3 ducks hatched with more on the way. This morning before school I got to see a duck hatch from start to cool!

Unfortunately, my chicks are "special". I had the old leftover incubator that the temperature was not regulated well in, and you can tell. We have two live chicks from my incubator and they are both now in their own special room in the aquarium tank. They were being pecked by all the normal little baby chicks. Definitely some life lessons there.

We have laughed until I'm sore about the chicks and the kids watching the chicks and all the drama surrounding care of the chicks. It's probably the coolest thing I've done as a teacher. It's noisy and wild and crazy and makes it hard for the kids to do any work, but it's awesome, too. What's been tons of fun is trying to finish up my end of the year TPRI (reading test for those of you non-teachers). I retested three children who bombed the test yesterday during the hatchings. They did much better today.

This afternoon I did have the nasty job of disposing of a chick that half-way hatched, but whose internal organs were on the outside of its body. Apparently I'm the only girl on the first grade team willing to commit murder of a chicken. Voted most likely to kill the chicken since I'm from Arkansas!

More fun tomorrow. We are setting up our duck habitat and will be watching more eggs hatch. I'm having trouble teaching because I'm way too excited about the chicks. Yes, I'm a dork. Even still too wound up to go to sleep yet. And poor Shawn, he's exhausted from a day in kindergarten. He fell asleep around 7 and woke up (groggily) for a little bit after I got home at 8:30. So he's not interested in hearing all my chicken excitement right now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

King of Kings

I had a thought at the SENT conference. I was thinking about God. About God being THE king. Perhaps living in a democracy has tempered my view of kingship. I tend to think of God's commandments as suggested guidelines for life. I like to vote on God's direction in my life and consider my friends votes as well. Democracy is a great thing. I am glad that I live in a country with considerable freedom. However, God is not an elected official, he is a king.

When you consider God as a total and complete King of all that has ever been or ever will be, it changes your outlook on life. I was especially dwelling on this in respect to his command to go into all the nations. I lived many years expecting a "call" to international mission work. Instead I finally realized that it's a command. You don't have to wait for the "call". It is simply a matter of discovering opportunities that you can take advantage of, seizing the moment, and going. It's a matter of being obedient to a King-given command.

I also have been contemplating the part of the Great Commission that addresses local responsibility. I live my daily life focused on doing my job, taking care of my family, cleaning house, and generally drowning in the urgency of all the stuff that has to be done. I am praying that God will help me to see my daily life with a greater degree of mission minded eyes and with a more open and humble heart.

I want to live as a loyal subject to my King. Course the awesome thing about my King is that he is not a King drunk on power, anxious to yell, "behead her". Instead he is a King who rules with grace. A King whose guidelines are designed to create the best possible life for his subjects. That is the nature of my King. The King that I want to learn to serve.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days over the weekend at the SENT conference in Houston. I listened to so many speakers talking about people around the world who have never heard of Jesus. It reminded me all over again of God's heart for the nation.

I still remember the first time I totally grasped the importance of reaching the nations. I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before, but it's worth a repeat.

A couple of year ago at Christmas, I was sitting in a small church in Mexico. It was cold, mostly because they left the door open to the street so that people would be able to hear the worship service and might be enticed to come in as they pass by. It was in standing room only. And we sang together, the congregation in Spanish, and the mission team in English. I didn't have a clue what they were saying, but worship is a universal language.

As I watched, I became overwhelmed by God's heart for the nations. You see, thousands and thousands of years ago, God confused the languages at the tower of Babel. Since that time there are literally thousands of languages that have never been used to worship God, because they have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. In God's throne room, he can hear praises lifted up to him around the world. I'm sure it's a beautiful chaotic symphony of praises in different languages....German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, English, Afrikans.......But I have to believe that there's a bit of sadness for the languages that are missing. That cannot praise because they do not know. That's when I get overwhelmed with emotion. What would it be like to live your entire life and never have the opportunity to worship God?

The SENT conference reminded me of all the people who need to hear. And the urgency to get the message out. I regret that life distracts me from being completely sold out to God's agenda. There has to be a way to do more for kingdom purposes. There has to be a better way to balance all the stuff in my life so that God's mission can be a bigger priority. Praying about that!

I will confess that I skipped a session, snuck into the auditorium, and played on the Steinway for a bit. It's probably been about 20 years since I last touched a Steinway. The night before, I laid awake in part due to drinking lots of coffee but also because the music of my thoughts was too loud to let me sleep. I was desperate to get it out. I don't know when it all started, but my thoughts, emotions and memories tend to be accompanied by strange and haunting melodies. Usually not songs that have been written yet....songs that belong only to me. Yeah, know that sounds a bit weird....but that also explains why sometimes my English is so garbled. It can be challenging for me to find words buried under the music. And so when I am feeling deep emotions that I want to talk to God about, I have to play it on the piano.

My head was so full of hurt for the nations and spinning with conviction about my lack of involvement due to my fear - not for my safety - but of the unknown, and my busy crazy life that keeps me from being able to put in the hours of ministry that I would like. I spent a long time pouring all that hurt and frustration out on the piano, along with a bit of confession about the sin in my life that distances me from God and keeps me from feeling worthy to be a part of his big plans in the world. I am having an intensely profound and personal moment as God is in return pouring out His love on me. He reassured me of his plans to do big things, and to let me tag along. He spoke to me about waiting for his timing. Being patient with my life where I am and sitting back and watching him do the impossible. It was a beautiful moment. One of the most incredible 30 minutes that I've spent with God in a long time.

Most of the time, I was totally alone in the auditorium. Occasionally someone passed through, and there were sounds of people working on stuff backstage. But mostly they went away. When I was done, cheering erupted from the balcony. My husband and a couple of friends had slipped in to listen. Because of the intimate nature of the stuff I was pouring out to God, it felt like one of those dreams where you show up at work and forgot to get dressed first! However, it is good to have balcony friends. Those people who cheer you on. I love the crossroadies! If I had to have an audience, can't think of anybody I would have rather had listening in.

Monday Morning 4.20.09

Another awesome Sunday at The Crossroads! Every week we continue to see new faces. It's exciting to be a part of something as amazing as The Crossroads.

Shawn started a new sermon series called "God on your iPOD." Today he spoke about "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. I really liked this sermon. It was cool to dissect the song and see some of the thoughts in the song and how that related to God. My favorite thing he said was this, "You can't get into heaven by what you Do, you get in by what Jesus has DONE." You have to check this one out at later this week once it's posted.

Good worship set today:
Opener: Praise Him (Crowder)
Middle Set: Unchanging
God Of Wonders
Grace Like Rain (Todd Agnew)
Closing: Your Name (Paul Baloche)

My favorite was Grace Like Rain. Mostly because I really like the idea of Grace falling on God's people like rain. (But also because it has a yummy D minor chord.) In fact, I have been recently in much trouble because when I pray for God to rain down his grace on Anna, it flash floods. I think it's an awesome promise from God that he is getting ready to do big things in Anna. My friends mostly think it's just rain. Because it's spring.

Funny story:
Our children were learning about Joshua marching around Jericho. They marched around 7 times, yelled really loud, and the big padded walls to the nursery fell down. BOOM! Rachel and I jumped up and ran over to fix the walls. I was frantically praying "Dear God, please don't let me fall down in these ridiculously high heels as I run over to fix the nursery walls before any small children get smushed." And good falling! I was very relieved.

I enjoyed the day, in spite of feeling pretty crummy.