Thursday, July 31, 2008

A week and counting (down)...


We just got word that our c-section appointment is next Thursday 08/07/08 at 9:00am!!! The crib is set up, the car seat is locked in, and the baby clothes are washed and folded in the drawers... We will keep you updated (not that you were worried:) with pictures and tales to come...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Together we burn...


1 Thes. 5:19 (NIV) Do not put out the Spirit's fire;

Tonight I began my hosting duties at the Firs Conference center... As part of staying in the house for reduced rent, I will be doing some evening hosting of groups. I had some time to sit by the fire after the camp students had gone to bed, and in this particular outside fireplace, we are not allowed to pour water into it. So, I spread out the fire that was roaring, and slowly, slowly the wood began to stop burning. The embers grew darker and the wood slowed to a burn... It was something I had always known, but watching it really hit home the importance of fellowship and church and accountability to a Christian who longs to burn with passion. We need each other, for better and for worse, to set ablaze the love of Christ in our hearts. With the technology age making sermons easily attainable and Itunes giving us all the worship music we need, it is easier than ever to just have church at home. In addition, it is easy to just go to church and watch like a movie or a play, and leave without ever setting ablaze other Christians or allowing your heart to be set on fire. Summer is such an easy time to skip out on church and never notice a difference...

Is going to church enough to know fire ablazing in our hearts? Are you on fire? Is the Spirit aflame in your heart? Are you in fellowship, deep fellowship with people who know you and can challenge you and who together you love Jesus more and more? May we kindle afresh the fire of the Spirit so we may be warmth and a warning and a light to the nations... May we never forget that the love and joy of Jesus is greater than anything this world can offer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whew...

I am not sure what "whew" means exactly, but what I am hoping it means is something that is hard to put into words, let alone a blog title, is something like the words "Wow, what a full week" as you fall effortlessly onto the couch. I think you know what I mean. We were so busy (how busy were you?) that I don't think I blogged a whole week (gasp...) So, I'm back with stories and pictures for all...

The beginning of the week we had a Sigafoos Family reunion on Sunday and then stayed and spent a couple of nights with Stephanie's parents and her brother and sister-in-law. What fun we had. They are so great with the kids and are good friends of us as well. I haven't laughed so much in a long time. What a refreshing time. Stephanie's mom Carol makes Martha Stuart look like an amateur and Jay is about the coolest father in law a guy could hope for. So, we enjoyed our time with them a lot.

Than we left and came home on Tuesday and then left for Bellevue on Wednesday for a wedding to officiate and friends and family to see.

On Wednesday, I had a great meeting with Doug Nichols, the founder of Action International, and Bruce Ingram, the director of Pastor Leadership Development International arm of Action. There is so much to write about that I think I will wait for a separate email. But, part of it was around www.equippastors.org, the new website that I have developed for this ministry that I have been doing in Africa and than am helping in its beginning stages worldwide while I am home.

I played some golf that afternoon with my brothers and my dad. My brother Doug who lives in Houston was in town for business, so we had a little family golf time. After all was said and done, I ended up winning. I had more points than anyone else, actually by a lot. We had an Allen family dinner, complete with cousin's acting and singing for their audience, good food and nice conversation.

Thursday... I hung out with my good friend Matt Chapman, probably one of the last before he heads off to New Orleans. What a blessing that a student I mentored since he was in sixth grade has become one of my best friends. We had a rehersal and then rehersal dinner for the Swope wedding which I am officiating. The wedding was on Friday evening, after another full of day of seeing friends and having kids belated birthday parties with their friends.

The wedding was really fun. Here is a great picture but I will let you see the rest of the pictures at this link

It was a great wedding and it was such a joy to be a part of it... The girls loved being "the" flower girls and when we got home, Kamryn said, "I can't wait to get married. It is soooo much fun!"

Saturday was a Allen extended family reunion and some more time with friends...

We got home Saturday, went to church and then Stephanie had a shower today with friends from Northlake... It was a neat time and the Collin's family sure blessed us by hosting it.

So, I think you get the idea that we had a full week. We have this week in Bellingham, the following week I am teaching at a camp and then 08-07-08, our little baby will, Lord willing, be entering into our world...

Thank you for your continuous prayers for us, our ministry and our growing family...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Walking on water and other happenings...


It has been a full few weeks with camps, reunioning, niece visiting (walking on water with my daughters was only of the fun things we did), weddings to prepare and officiate and camps to prepare for... Stephanie is growing in the belly area and we have a projected arrival date of baby _________ (yeah, you wish we would tell you her name:) of August 7, 2008... She is tired and ready to hold the baby... We are doing well as a family and are thankful for your prayers!

As for missionary Pastor Leadership Development (PLD) work, we are making some progress...

I have had made a good first step of progress made with our new website: www.equippastors.org
Being home with internet that works, is reliable and fast enough to download and upload, I have put together this website to help pastors equip pastors... Check it out and if you want to minister to me (and the world), I would love it if you could peruse and offer good constructive helps with style, grammar, and/or ways to make it more readable...

I had a great meeting with LOGOS bible software at their Bellingham headquarters as we spent about 2 hours talking about how to get bible software into the hands of pastors around the world. Having been to Africa, and now helping the PLD internationally while I am home, we had an amazing time thinking through how we can equip national pastors, missionaries and pastors going to equip pastors with bible software that can help with providing Bible Training, sermon preparation and much, much more.

And then tomorrow, I have a meeting with Doug Nichols and Bruce Ingram with ACTION PLD in Seattle to discuss the website, fall and winter conferences that we are planning on going to help network with pastors and professors and ultimately, develop a strategy for the next steps in the direction of getting pastors and teachers here, overseas to equip the 3.2 untrained pastors in the world...

More details to come...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

College Campout




It was great fun teaching my former youth grouper's this past weekend. We camped out at South Whidbey State Park and enjoyed amazing weather, great talks around the campfire and a fun afternoon at Double Bluff beach. The talks went well as we discussed the Holy Spirit, answering the question, "What would happen if the Holy Spirit removed himself from the earth? Would we even notice?" We discussed what the Holy Spirit is, how he should work and what a life would look like that was filled with the Holy Spirit. What made it even sweeter is that many of these same students will be the counselors at the Crossroad's middle school retreat called Summer Safari where I am teaching in three weeks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Angels in Africa

Here is a letter from our good friends, the Whitfields, who are missionaries in Zambia. Wow is all I can say! Praise God for his angels that protect us...

Dear Friends

Do you remember the Amy Grant song: “Angels Watching Over Me”? Tonight we can testify that indeed God has His angels watching over us everywhere we go. Around 5:45 PM our time I received a phone call from Elise letting me know that she was in a head on collision with a box truck near our home here in Lusaka. She assured me that no one was injured, she was in the vehicle with our four children, but that the vehicle was totaled. As I arrived on the scene I was even more amazed at her report as the damage was much worse than I had imagined. Apparently this individual, who we believe was drunk, driving the box truck swerved and came over the median separating the four lane highway and became airborne as he made contact with our vehicle. The amazing thing is that instead of t-boning our vehicle, which he should have given his trajectory, his vehicle simple grazed and slid down the side of ours. Elise and Emma where seated on the side directly impacted by the truck and logically should be critically injured or dead. Thank God that he is not a God that functions in the logical but rather in the supernatural as He showed us so faithfully again tonight. Elise, Macie, Emma, Payton and Tazi walked away without a scratch or cut on their bodies (glory be to God). In fact I received the worst injuries, slight cuts on my hands, as I climbed in and out of the driver side window. I have included some pics that do not do justice in showing how bad the accident should have been. Rejoice with us as we marvel at Jehovah’s protection of our family yet once again (He is always faithful). We would like to ask you to pray that we might use this opportunity to share our faith with those God will put in our path. Thanks for your prayers and mediate with us on the great promise found in Psalms 91:11,12, For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Amen Amen Amen). We love you all very much.

Resting In His Peace And Grace

The Whitfields <><

Monday, July 14, 2008

An update of our baby of a day...

We survived a long day down to Bellingham and back with good news in store... The baby is active and is "normal" in heartbeat and activity. We are very pleased. It looks like we will be delivering on August 7, 2008 if all goes well. We were tempted to do see if we could do a 08/08/08 birthday, but I think 08/07/08 will be more than cool! We found out a few minor medical conditions that Stephanie has that would have gone unnoticed which require a lot of medical jargon to understand. I'll post an email Stephanie sent out to a friend to help explain it:

Last week when I was there they took 6 vials of blood to run a thrombosis panel (I passed out when she was done). He felt it was necessary based on the possible fetal maternal hemmorage with Julia and the fact that my dad had had a DVT. Anyway, turns out my protein S numbers are low (but these can be skewed during preg., so he will test again 12 weeks. after delivery.) Also, I am homozygous. The way I understand that is that I have two genes which predispose me to blood clots.....and also can lead to neuro tube defects and congenital heart issues. He said it's nothing to stress out about, just want me to be taking a baby aspirin a day, and will give me a shot of heparin after delivery. He also said I need to be on folic acid for the rest of my life. His terms were all very medical and that's really the best I can understand."

It is a blessing to be home to be able to have the doctor care to help us forsee these events which could have led to further issues... Thanks for your prayers and support!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Oh, Baby...

My baby with our baby sang today in church. It was so good to hear her singing again... We got lots of stuff of the past week to update, but we are waiting for the pictures to be emailed. So, as you have to wait for that, I just wanted to let you know that we are going down for a battery of tests on the baby and the mommy. We would appreciate your prayers and we will keep you updated!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Baby Update...

We just wanted to give you a baby update... It has been kind of a crazy couple of weeks and after a series of tests last Monday, we are indeed glad to be home as the things we have found out would probably not have been discovered in Zambia. Due to previous history with Julia the perintologist's (Doctor who specializes on the baby before they are born) Stephanie is seeing does not want her to stay in utero past 37 weeks which puts our C-section during the 1st week of August. I'm currently on a diabetic diet and monitoring my blood sugar 5 times a day. There are also possible signs that the baby may have fetal anemia which I guess means she could be losing blood somehow. They will monitor again next Monday at my appt. with an ultrasound to check that. If that is the case, she could be coming even earlier that 37 weeks...we'll see. She is already 6 lbs. and I'm only 33 weeks today. That's a big baby!!! Good thing I will have a C-section!!
And, she has HAIR!!! My babies have always been bald. And, long legs...surprise, surprise!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Do Hard Things


So, I just finished the book "Do Hard Things" written by Alex and Brett Harris. I can't recommend this book enough. (But before I go there: Alex and Brett are brothers of Josh Harris - "I kissed dating goodbye" and their website therebelution.com has over 15 million hits). Do Hard Things is written by teenagers for teenagers and it is well-written, funny, biblical, insightful and challenging (even for non-teenagers!) If you have a teenager in your life, whether a son or daughter, nephew or niece, neighbor or friend, run, don't walk, to buy this book! I really think this book will be a catalyst for the next generation, or at least I hope it will. I feel like it is my message to the teens told in a better way that I could ever say it. But, before they read it, I encourage you to read it. Then, let it be a sparking point for conversation. And if you want to hear the behind the scenes story from their dad, Gregg Harris, you can check it out here on my asermonaday.com website. The last 15 minutes, especially, of this talk helped me understand what makes kids that think and write and live the way they are living.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Shoes, blogs, money and known realities



We have been asked countless times how it is being back. I use the same word pretty much every time: surreal. It is interesting how living missionarily has a way of shaping you in ways you don't expect. And I am finding that it is conflicting to live here now that I have lived there. It affects how you spend your money and your time and your days. And, it is hard to live here the same when there still exists the same. Though time has a way of dulling a bit of the experiences and emotions and feelings especially when it is only 3 weeks or a month, it is hard to stuff away nine months of experiences. As I have said once, I will say again, that I feel like in some ways, I have been born again by my experiences. I just am shocked at how easily I spend my money as part of the culture. I have been challenged to think literally about this idea of loving my neighbor as myself. If I spend $25 dollars on a dinner, shouldn't I give $25 dollars a way so someone else can have a dinner, too? What if everything we spent on our money on, we gave the same amount a way as well. What if we just even did that on the wants of our lives instead of the needs? Would that curb our spending? Would it make us more generous? Would we catch the true joy that comes when we give instead of just receive? What does it mean to live like the third world exists? What does it really mean to bear the burdens of those who we would want bore if they were us? How do we live like Heaven is real? Welcome to my world. Really, welcome, for those who want to continually allow your comfort zone to be continually reduced under the fire of injustice, inequality, suffering and reality.

I say welcome because I confess, I have done it again. I have started another blog. Well, sort of. I mean it is a blog, but I am not really writing. Just copying and pasting articles of suffering that is existing in the world and maybe a few thoughts here and there with how we should think about it... If we want to bear the burdens, we need to know them. And, whereas they all may not be causes for which you will act and give money, perhaps one will... If nothing else, will you allow your heart to be broken for the things that breaks God's heart...? Check it out and send me your articles as well... Let's learn to live like the third world and our neighbors really exist. www.walkintheirshoes.net

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Stephanie and gestational diabetes

As you know, I (Steve) have celiac disease which means I can't digest Gluten. In Africa we learned that my three girls have a gluten intolerance as well. Yesterday we had Jay, Stephanie's father over for lunch and he has a heart condition so that he can't eat any fatty foods so that limits his eating. And then yesterday we found out that Stephanie has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes so during the rest of her pregnancy, she has to limit sugar and carbohydrates. So, it was a a bit comical us all sitting around the table, and it made for a complicated meal trying to make all these things work. Please be praying for Stephanie as we have to now try and make sense of how to adjust for her diet and ours and protect her health as well...