Monday, November 26, 2012


well, I'm just gonna jump right in here. I have two three year olds on nap time strike and my son has decided to do some kind of crazy craft at the table involving a lot of construction paper and so much glue. seriously, so much glue. I'm really hoping he doesn't start casting glances at the glitter because I don't know if I'm up for a glitter mess today. it sort of makes me nervous. funny thing is, this is the best time I've got to sort stuff out and jot stuff down. 

so here it is: we've been out here in colorado for about a year and a half, and we've been to church after church after church after church. and we're trying so hard (so hard!) not to nit-pick every church we go to. we've been to several very nice churches, with very nice pastors and very nice kids ministries. we've been to the "cool" churches in the city, we've been to one absolutely crazy church with a pastor who is (for real) holding "excommunication meetings." (and yes, we were unofficially excommunicated from that one- the formal "excommunication meetings" hadn't started up yet). I wish I was joking about that last part, but I'm not. 

all of that to say, we have been seriously trying to find our spot here in denver colorado and it's rough. 

if you're reading this, you probably know ricky and I and maybe you're wondering "well, why don't you guys plant a church?" and a few months ago, we started wondering the same thing, which is pretty funny because we are not your typical church-planters. there's nothing type A or detail oriented about us, we don't have money or a church sending us out, we hardly even know anyone out here. all we have is a nutty love for the people of denver and a serious desire to see people walking in victory with Jesus. 

to make things even more interesting, as we've prayed together and talked about this stuff we've discovered that God has given us some very passionate convictions regarding church, prayer and discipleship. it breaks our hearts to see so many churches doing church without having any sort of prayer meeting going on- from where we're sitting, you can have a church with a rocking worship team, dynamite teacher and amazing children's ministry, but if no one's praying what's the point? 

for real, what's the point? 

about a year ago we started really laying that question down before the LORD. and then we read some books that might be a little dangerous if these convictions are already hanging around in your head- books like Church Planter by Darrin Patrick, Whatever Happened to Worship by A.W. Tozer, and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. 

it's been a really neat season of soul-searching and hanging out with Jesus. He's saying stuff and we're pumped. 

so in january we're starting a weekly night of prayer, worship and Bible study in our house. maybe we're planting a church, maybe we're not- we don't know. but we know that Awesome Stuff happens when people get together and cry out to the LORD. Revival comes when people pray. 


the reason I'm typing furiously at this keyboard right now is just to ask for somebody out there to pray for us. we've been away from our church and our people for coming on two years and we so don't want to find ourselves kooked out. ricky works some pretty demanding hours, I'm homeschooling for the first year and we have three kids under four years old. but if the LORD is attracted to weakness, He's gotta be attracted to us! 

dude, we need mercy. like a heaping helping of MERCY. 

and wisdom. if you've got some, give it up! we want it. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

the Chubs.

This Sunday, November 11 our very first kid and only son is turning eight. 

It's totally a big deal. 

Eight years ago so many things about our lives changed. Maybe it's because we were younger and still figuring out a lot of stuff, but having that first kid was like a kick in the face. An expensive, sweet smelling, never sleeping and always wailing, gloriously precious kick in the face. 

We totally didn't know what we were doing. Like at all. That poor kid- I'm glad he doesn't remember his whole first year of life. Praise the LORD, Chubs is resilient and marvelously forgiving. I love that kid. Caleb Andrew Bender is one special and spectacular guy. He's also extremely cool. 

When he was three we lived in Oxnard, CA and went to church in Carpinteria. After church we would almost always go cruise around Santa Barbara, get some cheap food and just enjoy the beach and each other. One day we were downtown, eating some ice cream or something and Chubs leans against a wall, sighs and says "Dad, I'm just a kid trying to be a man." 

I'm totally not joking. I don't know where that came from, but it was awesome. And as he's grown up, that's him. He's eight going on 30. Unless he's being a turd. Then he's eight going on four. But for the most part, he's always been this kid just trying to be a man. 

He's magnetic. I don't know if you've met him, but he's so stinking charismatic it sometimes makes me crazy. Caleb's whole approach to life is that everyone is already his friend- they just might not know it yet. Sometimes it's great and sometimes it stinks but that's Caleb- he doesn't discriminate based on age, race, gender, you name it. I could learn a lesson from him. Seriously. 

When he was brand new and I would pray for him in that weird, foggy, exhausted new mom way (seriously, he would not sleep), I frequently prayed that God would nurture the gift of evangelism in him. I'm not trying to get kooked out on you right now, but I earnestly believe that the LORD in His mercy gives mamas who pray for their kids insight. And as he's grown up, I get to see how faithful Jesus has been in making Caleb who he is. 

We moved into our new house just over a month ago, and while Ricky and I have met a few of our neighbors, Caleb knows them all. The other day he had this conversation with a little boy on our cul-de-sac named Calvin. Calvin's four and loves Caleb. 

Caleb: "Hey Calvin, have you ever heard of Jesus?"
Calvin: "Nope."
Caleb: "Oh, He was God's Son and He came to the world and healed a bunch of people and stuff."
Calvin: "Wow! That's a cool story!" 
Caleb: "But then the people killed Him and He died on a cross."
Calvin: "Oh no! Then what?"
Caleb: "Well, it's awesome, because then He came back to life so that we can go to heaven with him. "
Calvin: "Oh wow! That's a really cool story!" 

He gets it. Our son gets the gospel. Enough that he wants to share it. 

I'm not trying to brag. For real, we have screwed up with this guy more than we've done right. He's like the crash test dummy of our kids. But by God's grace we have one of the kindest and coolest dudes I've ever known. I'm so glad that he's our very first kick in the face. 

Love you, buddy.