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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the church. Wondering where we are spending our time and energy and wondering even more about where we are not spending our time and energy.

I have interviewed almost 70 college-age students over the past month, all applying to work on our summer camp staff. And I feel like I have gained so much insight from these pretty candid conversations with men and women from many different denominations who are committed to follow Jesus.

So I’m going to take some time on this blog to flesh out some of these things I’m thinking about. Because at the same time I’ve been doing these interviews, I’ve been sharing a facebook conversation with a long-time family friend who started our conversation by asking me three questions:

– What about organized religion or orthodoxy intimidates some people? Small house churches are becoming popular, mainly lead by lay people, which can have real positives as well as sketchy theology…what scares people away from organized religion?
-How do we draw people into the doors of the church?
-How do we make the worship appealing and relevant to all ages?

I’m ready to dive into this conversation. And I’d love for you to join me!

We are driving back from Minnesota right now, after soaking up a whole weekend of family love. We went home to celebrate Rory’s mom’s birthday and celebrate we did!

I just have to say that I have the best family-in-law. And I fully recognize how fortunate this is. The three Groves boys are so great. Marlene and Madison raised three sons who grew into faithful husbands, all active in their faith and living their life out loud. And it is so fun to be a part of this! Lisa and Sara and I all married into this clan, and I am so proud to call them my sisters. I love every family get together and this weekend was full of them!

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We’ve got friends who absolutely embody the word hospitality. Whenever we show up to their place we sit ourselves down at their counter and watch them make some unbelievable meal for us. They love to cook, and we love to eat and this seems to work well for everyone.

As we sit at the counter and catch up, this magical cutting board ALWAYS appears with the most incredible cheeses, dates, figs and raisons. I tend to squeal when John lays it on the counter.

The meal they were preparing this night was Short Ribs in a red wine sauce. Come now. Just look at this meal we ate. (Completely worth of getting my camera out to document.) I’ve got a great story that goes along with this evening of eating, but it’s a good one to tell in person…so ask me about the short rib night sometime. You’ll be glad you did. We love you John and Shannon!

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Rory: Papa, how many years were you married to Nana again?

Papa: Oh, now that I don’t know. But I can tell you they were good years. (pause) Excellent years. (longer pause) Well no, not excellent. But good years. They were good years and we loved each other well.

Rory looked at me and we smiled big. We got in the car and made a toast to many good years ahead. Not excellent, but good ones.

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I’m 28!

March 23, 2009

flowers 041 I had a wonderful birthday, which is saying a lot because my birthday bar is so, so high. (it really isn’t fair to those around me.) Historically, my mom has made this day the greatest, most anticipated day and then passed the torch to Rory who quickly picked up on the importance of this day.

My co-worker, Kristin, made me this delicious cake (one day I’ll post the recipe…so, so good). And Rory took me to the French Cafe, a lovely restaurant in the Old Market. Our waiter made us banana foster tableside and it was delicious.

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The absolute best part of the day for me was when we came home and I opened presents over skype with my sister and her family in Montana. She had emailed me earlier in the day telling me the girls would come to my skype-party in their birthday suits. They came fresh from the bath, wrapped like burritos, but over time, lost their towels and wanted to show me their flips on the furniture. I laughed so hard watching their legs disappear behind their heads as they threw their birthday-suited selves over the back of the couch.flowers 052

Ben Folds. wow.

March 23, 2009

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He’s rocked the suburbs and last week he was rockin’ Omaha. Ben Folds is UNBELIEVABLE on the piano, he is a PHENOMENAL story teller, and FANTASTIC in concert. They guy never stopped…for two hours. He never took an intermission and would pause for a half-a-second between his songs. Literally, he never came up from the piano (he plays bent over with no bench), didn’t drink any water, and didn’t talk between the last 10 or so songs. I was tired for him.

The funny moments of the night were when the entire audience would belt out lyrics in unison and Rory and would look at each other and say, “yeah, we don’t have that album…”

Icon_Blue_256This may be the biggest news of our year…and probably part of the reason life has seemed so charged and busy lately. After 18 months as a one-man-band programming the software, building the webpage, creating user forums for clients to connect with each other, writing a detailed 100 page user manual, figuring out the payment process and vendoring at his second trade show, Rory has crossed the finish line!

The program he wrote has over 63,000 lines of code that he hand typed. When I look at this code it looks like emails that my niece Mara types to me. But every backslash and abbreviated word means something. If you were to put this code in book form it would be a 1,000 page novel.

The release went as smoothly as anyone could hope for. Rory has received incredible feedback from his former subscribers, thrilled and overwhelmed at how improved and impressive this new software is.

So check it out!  http://weatherdefender.com

So it has been a month since my last post, and I’ve got some catching up to do. First, Arizona. We spent a week in Mesa with the Harrington family and it was the best. All of us live in different states now: Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana and Washington. So to get mom and dad, and us three kids with our families all together for a whole week was the greatest. We stayed at Venture Out, a snowbirds community where my Grandma Bredberg has been spending her winters for over 30 years. We enjoyed lots of sun, swimming, golf cart rides, naps, and eating which all made for some super special family time.

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