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Archive for March, 2011

When David and I got married (3 years ago), we made a unique decision for two 24 year olds, we decided to not to purchase a television for one year. Because we developed our relationship long distance, we had a very strong communication bond. And honestly, our communication felt so sacred and special we didn’t want it to change it at all.

Three years later, we still don’t have a TV, and we love it! Now we aren’t religious nuts who think television is evil. We do watch TV. We just don’t own a TV. We watch tivo-ed programs at David’s parents once a week (like my Buckeyes football). We also rent seasons of different TV shows and watch them on our laptop. We aren’t legalists about it, but we have found our lives more enjoyable without it.

5 Reasons to throw away your TV.

1. Other media is less time consuming and more mentally stimulating.
It has been proven that your brain isn’t very stimulated while watching television. Check out reading the news, articles, books, and blogs. We listen to a lot of radio and music in our home. We also listen to a lot of podcasts and sermons. We stay informed, just in other ways than television.

2. Consumerism is easier to fight.
Television feeds consumerism in our culture. It makes us want things. It tells our hearts what to desire. It tells us how to spend our money. It tells us what kind of relationships, sex, appearance, success…etc. that we should desire out of our lives. As Christians we all fight the fight to desire the right things, but for us not having a TV helps.

3. You are more unique.
When I used to watch TV, I spent a lot of time watching things that I didn’t really care about. Maybe there were some things I found interesting or entertaining, but there was a lot of time where I watched things that were popular, out of boredom, or things I didn’t really care about. Without the distraction of TV, I’ve found myself able to focus my life more on things that I do care about. This focus makes me more unique or maybe just more like the person I really am.

4. You get control back.
Sometimes TV can be easy, entertaining, and restful. Because of those qualities, it can begin to hijack your rest. I truly believe one of the most important decisions you make every day is what you go to when you feel stressed, hurt, or in need of rest. These are very vulnerable moments in our lives each day, but it is also the opportunities we have each day to experience true joy. It’s important that God, real relationships, and quality moments fill the times in your day where you are stressed, hurt, or tired.

5. Quality and quantity.
Not having a TV enables you to have quality time and conversation in great quantity. For our busy lives it makes it worth it for us.

So maybe you aren’t ready to throw away your TV, and believe me that’s totally Ok! Maybe some day we will decide it’s a right time for us to get one. Even if you aren’t ready to give it up, take some time and evaluate what place TV has in your life.

Also, I’d love to know what your favorite TV show is and why?!

Here’s mine:
Favorite Show: Chuck, 30 Rock (Because they are HILARIOUS)

Favorite Channel: National Geographic Channel

The show I hate to admit I like: 16 and Pregnant

What I refuse to miss: Olympics, Buckeye Football

Reality TV show: Once Every Minute

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With the increasing busyness of our culture and the lowering of our attention spans, it is becoming more and more difficult to set aside times in our year as sacred. It can seem difficult to keep Jesus in the center of our lives. This is why this year we as ministry and community of Christians have chosen to take part in the ancient Christian tradition of Lent.

This year for forty days, from Ash Wednesday, March 8, to Easter Sunday on April 24; we are going to take a corporate journey during which we will seek to remind ourselves of the miracle of Easter: that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again. We will be starting a sermon series entitled The Sacred Way, during which we will study the unique messages in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But we want our Lent season to go far past our Tuesday gatherings.

Lent is a time when we can collectively set aside distractions like social media and entertainment, for the sake of remembering the One who set aside the comforts of heaven to rescue us. It is a time to fast certain food and drinks, for the sake of being satisfied in the One who became for our sakes. It is a time to pursue our God in scripture and in prayer, for the sake of God’s son who pursued us while we were yet sinners. It is a time to repent of our sin, and rejoice in the hope of resurrection. Lent is a time to center our lives on Jesus.

With all of our hearts, we want the 2011 Easter holiday to be the most meaningful Easter you have ever known in your life. For this reason we ask you to take this journey with us. Pick up a Lent Guide at one of our North services and don’t miss this exciting new series.
by David Ritchie

“The Gospel of Matthew” – the fist Lent sermon

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For several years, I have participated in some way in Lent. For me, Lent has been a time to focus more fully on the death of Jesus, the power of the cross, and the life I have in in Him. I simply celebrate by taking something out of my life that I turn to for rest, comfort, and/or pleasure. For 40 days, I choose to remember Jesus when I would normally turn to that particular thing. Lent is not just about abstaining from something, rather it’s about choosing to fill yourself with something different- SomeOne eternal and lasting.

Psalm 16:11 ESV
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Do you celebrate Lent? Why or Why not?

KR:)

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The bus lowered us into the ground a little at a time. It rocked over potholes and piles of trash. Slowly we sunk into the cloud of burning trash. The trash swallowed us up, and my heart sank.

We passed cows, goats, men, women, and children picking through the rubbish for something to salvage. Our bus snaked through piles of smoldering garbage that towered high above our bus. The aisles were lined with shanties where the families lived.

My chest felt tight. Something inside of me wanted to jump out of the bus and run back up the hill. It was a burial ground for every object under the sun. I wondered if this place was hell.

Romans 8:38-39
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(The memory verse we prepared for the first day of VBS at Oasis De Esperanza)

photo by Natalie Balderson...my sweet friend 🙂

The following morning our bus took us to Oasis de Esperenza in a neighborhood bordering the dump ground. When the guarded gate opened for us to enter the yard, it was hard to believe I was at a school. Smiling faces pressed against the windows of our bus. I was nearly carried off the bus by several hundred small children hugging, kissing, and hanging from my every limb.

Many of the children had stories of hunger, abuse, and slavery. I heard stories of kidnapping. I heard stories of children being sold for less than I pay for my Starbucks coffee every day. But I’ve never seen such happy children. It was hard to believe that these children lived in the shanties at the dump ground. My week with North putting on a VBS for the children at Oasis de Esperenza was like being in Heaven. The children were full of joy, their eyes full of life, and their hearts full of love.



washing all 500 children's hair!

Pastor Wayne and Elaine MacGouirk once lived in Amarillo, Texas like me. They worked at and attended my church, Trinity Fellowship Church. They used to travel to the dump grounds in Managua, Nicaragua to see those precious children. They saw the children living and working in the dump, they heard the stories, and they saw the death.

Five years ago Pastor Wayne and Elaine started a feeding program and school for the children of Managua. They left their family and comfortable lives, and moved to Nicaragua. Through their ministry a generation of children are being fed and educated that would otherwise not, but that is not why they are there. Pastor Wayne and Elaine want to see these children pass from death unto life.

John 5:24
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my (Jesus) word and believes him who sent me (Jesus) has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

They brought the children the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the One who left His throne in Heaven to come to this place of sin, pain, and death. The One who willingly sacrificed His life. He carried all of our sin, shame, and pain. He came not as a tyrant God to shake His finger at the world, but He humbly took our punishment and pain. Jesus experienced horrific death, so that through faith in Him we can have joy, peace, hope, and relationship with Him. Jesus came to give us life.

He is now shining in the eyes of those precious children. They are better because of food and education. But they have a new life because of Jesus Christ.

Video David took of the kids worshipping and dancing to Jesus! Click HERE
Pictures from our trip! Click HERE!

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David, myself, and a wonderful team of people from North just landed back in Amarillo from a mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua. Expect a thorough and complete blog this week, this photo blog is just a sneak peak. Please enjoy! 🙂

our sweet missionary friends, Wayne and Elaine MacGouirk


Check out Wayne and Elaine’s website for their ministry, Saviors Tear.

Managua's dump ground- where all the children live.


school is in session!


eating lunch in the prek classroom- rice, beans, and bananas


trying to cheer this little sweetie up- she was crying 😦


children from the school Wayne and Elaine founded- Oasis de Esperenza

some sweet girls and me


we washed all 500 kids' hair one day!

david holding one of the baby twins at the orphanage


me holding one of the twins at the orphanage


standing on top of a volcano!

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Melissa and her husband Joseph

Many people can identify with prayer being something that doesn’t come natural. I’m finding prayer is something that takes cultivation, diligence, patience, and most of all – faith. There have been numerous times in my life when I’ve prayed to show off, but I also know there’s been many times that I haven’t prayed at all fearing it wasn’t good enough.

Every struggle I’ve had in prayer points back to my failure to look to the Gospel and really a misunderstanding of what prayer truly is. You see, my fears are based on the idea that God won’t hear me unless I petition my needs with this look-how-amazing-I-am-at-praying sort of thing. Then God, being impressed by my awesome praying abilities, will act on my behalf.

I used to consider myself a pretty prayerful person. I wrote my prayers out in a journal everyday. It was generally an easy thing for me. I thought I had it down. But when prayer was pushed out of my comfort zone and into a group of people, I lost all ability to pray. Or so I thought. It was my true fears coming out. They had always been there, but I had never recognized their depth until I would be standing in front of other people praying for the Gospel to go forth, and all I could think about was how scared I was to pray. Now I realize how silly that sounds.

I knew it was silly. I knew I was being insecure but knowing what I was doing wrong wasn’t enough. I needed the truth of who I am in Christ to become present in all situations. I needed my way of thinking to be changed. I needed to take my focus off of myself and place it where it belongs. I mean really, If ever there was a time to focus on God, wouldn’t it be when I was praying? That just goes to show how unbelievably selfish I can be.

Usually, I must have everything “just right” before I pray. I think through my motives and my reasoning and wonder if what I wanna pray is selfish, theologically correct, or just stupid. Generally these thoughts are enough to shut me down completely and make me want to come back to prayer when I have it all figured out. But the problem is, I’ll never have it all figured out. The even bigger problem is that God isn’t the center of my prayer – I am. Prayer isn’t sounding eloquent for the purpose of getting God’s attention or the attention of others. If that becomes our purpose in prayer then we are no longer praying.

So what is prayer? Prayer is calling on a personal God, a father who knows his children’s needs. It’s asking for the will of the father over our own. Its asking for our daily needs along with pleading for people around us in need. It’s asking forgiveness of our sins and forgiving those that have sinned against us. It’s asking for strength to resist temptation. It reminds us that this is God’s kingdom and not our own. Here’s one of my favorite quotes about prayer.

“If i turn myself into a spectator of my own prayer performance, if i am giving a show for my own benefit, I may enjoy myself just like a pleased spectator or I my catch myself praying and feel strange and ashamed. The publicity which i am looking for is then provided by the fact that I am the one who at the same time prays and looks on. I am listening to my own prayer and thus I am answering my own prayer.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here’s where we need Gospel Centered Praying. This isn’t mere petition, it’s praying with God as your focus. It means that the motivation of our prayers is to glorify our father because we see his goodness. This frees us of all of our fears in praying. We no longer have to worry about looking awesome or having fear of not praying well enough, or even not praying with good intentions. If God is our focus in prayer we no longer have these things in mind.

So here’s the solution I have found. To have no view of myself at all. To pray what comes to my heart, and stop thinking about myself constantly.

Melissa and I in NYC in October!

Melissa Schlabs is a frequent author on A White Stone Blog! She and her husband are dear friends of me and David, and they serve as leaders at North (where David pastors), the young adult’s ministry of Trinity Fellowship Church.
Melissa is also a part of A White Stone Cause, and she goes with me into the strip club to minister to the dancers. (Read about it.. “Return to the Strip Club, & The Deathly Hallows”)

On Love by Melissa Part 1
On Love by Melissa Part 2

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Recently, David and I purchased an upright bass. It’s a beautiful instrument. One I see as a beautiful addition to my living room. Something David has always dreamed of owning. It’s been an excellent source of enjoyment and rest for my husband, who quickly has become proficient. And I must say that nothing makes me much happier than watching and listening to him play.

David and I spent the last several days together in Dallas, Texas. The weekend was a chance to catch our breath during a very busy time for us. David had the opportunity to play a couple worship shows with a few friends and put to practice his recent hobby. They were able to play a home show for a young adult’s Bible study and at the Crooked Tree Coffeehouse in uptown Dallas. I know this is a shameless plug, but you should really check out our friend Patrick Schlab’s music here.

A Picture from the show at the Crooked Tree

I had a restful and fun weekend being my husband’s groupie. The music was great and so was the fellowship. We got to spend some time resting together and seeing our sweet friends Chris and Morgan Myers. And we were able to make a visit to The Village Church.

Our sights are now set for North’s Spring Break Mission Trip to Managua, Nicaragua. We leave early on Saturday morning with a team of 24 people from North to do a VBS at a school/feeding program that our church, Trinity Fellowship Church, funds in the Managua’s city dump ground. The school was started by some people from our church to feed, educate, and minster to the children who lived and scavenged in the dump grounds. The school now facilitates almost 500 children! We will also be spending a day at a home for children who have been rescued out of sex trafficking. We will be throwing them a birthday party!

I’m so thankful we had the chance to rest, because I know this trip is going to be one of the most exciting things David and I have ever done! Please pray for us and for our team. 🙂

Lots of love, Readers!
KR 🙂

Interested in North’s Spring Break Mission Trip last year?? Read my blog about our trip to El Salvador last year, “Reflections on our El Salvador Mission” ! 🙂

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