Sunday, March 29, 2009

Small Groups

Last Monday at small group our pastor came and interviewed the people in our small group about what small groups has meant to them and he showed a video he compiled of the interviews today during church. He was talking about how important it is to surround yourself with people who are committed to your spiritual growth and that you are committed to theirs. He talked about Proverbs 13:25 "He who walks with the wise will grow wise but a companion of fools suffers harm." Walks means shares life with. Wise means lives life skillfully. A fool is someone who doesn't live life skillfully. Suffers harm - even if you don't become a fool if you area companion of a fool when the grenade blows up in their life you will suffer harm.

An often quoted family phrase in the Whitings' family is "Your friends determine the direction and the quality of your life." How true this is. As I think over my life my friends at different phases have definitely had an impact on the direction and quality of my life, both positively and negatively.

We are truly going to miss North! God has used our time here in great ways and we have made relationships that I never want to lose. Small groups have been a huge part of that. We came to North because they had AWANA but we stayed because of the 9 non-negotiables and the relationships that we have formed through our small groups and other ministries we've been involved in. We have had the privilege to be a part of 2 small groups. Out group from last year was getting to the size that it needed to multiply in order for it to grow. Multiplication is painful because you lose the close connection with the people that were in that small group but we have been super blessed by it because we have been able to meet all of the people that you will see in this video who never would have been able to fit into our small group from last year and they wouldn't have been able to come anyway because of their school/ work schedules. We have had relationships like we have never experienced before and it has been so precious to have these amazing people impacting us and our kids as well as the privilege of impacting them. Small groups wasn't something that we were looking for in a church when we moved to Rochester but as a result of our time in our two precious small groups that we have loved so much we have grown a lot. Even if our new church does not have a small group ministry we will start meeting regularly with other believers in these kinds of purposeful relationships. Hebrews 3:12-13 says "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." THE WAY to keep from having a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God is relationships. They are the only way to keep from being hardened by sin's deceitfulness. How thankful I am for the relationships God has brought into my life and the accountability and prayer support they have been. I don't ever want to be an island again!

Ok, I am done blabbing, you can watch the video now :)

Maas Small Group Interviews from David Whiting on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring has Sprung?

Today was one of our nice "Lamb" days that we sometimes get in March in New York. I love it when they fall on a Sunday afternoon when we don't have anything scheduled and time change has already happened!

This afternoon after our Sunday afternoon naps we....

* Played outside.
* Raked our yard (it isn't as fun in the spring because you can't play in the leaves but we still made it fun and it feels nice to have the yard look better).
* Aired up the tires on our bikes.
* Took a ride around the block. Everyone enjoyed getting out their helmets and taking a ride on two wheels (well, Lydia has 4 wheels with the training wheels and Abigail has 3 on her tricycle).
* Glenn and Abigail took a trip to AutoZone and bought starter fluid and sprayed it on the air intake (I think) and the Burb started!
* Glenn took the Burb around the block.
* Generally enjoyed being outside without winter coats!

Is spring really here? It is doubtful because this is New York but days like today give me hope :)

We are now inside with the sun almost down (it is almost 8 o'clock - I DO like the time  once I have adjusted to it) and we are getting ready to eat popcorn for supper and play a game. What a great Sunday afternoon!

Our favorite parts of the afternoon:
hannah: ride my bike
Lydia: I'm glad we could go biking today and I was gooder than Abigail going biking with Daddy but I thought Abigail was funnier.
Caleb: Going on a bike ride.
Abigail: Bicycle riding.
Glenn & Sonja: Hanging out outside.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Unexpected Blessings

Many months ago we decided with the Bertrams, a family from our church, that we should swap babysitting for date nights since we have 4 kids and they have 3 it seemed a pretty even match. Glenn and I don't really go on dates often because of all the hassle and expense of finding someone to watch our kids, etc. Going on dates as a married couple is something that I often recommend to others as one of those "do as I say, don't do as I do" type of things. I know it is important but I have unfortunately never made it a priority. We have often discussed kid swaps with friends but have moved before we ever actually did it. Anyway, we finally got dates down on the calendar - they watched our kids last night and we will watch theirs next Saturday. That was blessing #1 - a night out to ourselves with no kids (and no mission - the last 4 times someone has watched our kids for us it was because we needed to move or buy Christmas presents or go car shopping!)

After dropping of the kids we went to Home Depot. It is fun to just wander the store with nothing that we are intending to buy but just to look and think about what would be fun to have in a house, etc. I think that it was an idea that we got from our 52 Dates for You and Your Mate by David & Claudia Arp years ago (the first one we've tried!) Then we wandered over to Staples just because we like the smell (right Grace?). We had a coupon for TGIFridays for buy one entree get one free so we headed over there next. When we got there there was an hour and 15 minute wait to get a seat. We put down our names and then wandered the mall and found jeans for the girls and a shirt for Caleb on clearance at Macy's. We were finally seated and when they brought us our orders they brought ribs for Glenn instead of the steak that he had ordered. Realizing their mistake they took them back and told us that they would "rush" a steak for Glenn. It took a while but I didn't mind because Glenn and I had a lot to talk about and when they brought us our meal they told us that the steak was on the house because it had taken so long. That was a surprise for which we were thankful but we were already getting one of our meals for free so it didn't really matter that much. A couple of minutes later the waitress came back and told us that she remembered our coupon and talked to the manager and told us that we could still use our coupon! How exciting! We figured we'd still have to pay tax or something but when the manager brought us our ticket the total was $0.00 - wow! The original bill was about $40, what a blessing! We left our waitress a tip and we left. Thank you God! We got 2 free meals and an extended time of conversation for so little! I have been struggling with wondering how God is going to work out all the details of our finances and housing, etc through medical school and this was a little hug from God telling me "Sonja, I know, I care, I will take care of you and provide for you in ways that only I can, and will bless you beyond your understanding." I am so thankful for my great and generous God who is in control and can be trusted!