Monday, December 31, 2012

Level Complete, Keep Playing!

A few video games have been played in our house this Christmas vacation.  I can hear the kids playing now - or at least the bickering anyway.  Jeff has been trying to complete one over the break, too - even having to listen to some tutorials online about how to get through certain parts.

I'm about the furthest thing from a 'gamer,' but here are a few things I've observed about video games:
  • The games are challenging.  If Mario could take a leisurely stroll right up to the Princess without jumping over barrels or worrying about Donkey Kong, what would the point be?  If you could see the end and walk right to it with no bumps along the way - it would probably be considered a pretty lame game.  Would you improve your 'gaming' skills at all?
  • Some games are easier if you have someone else to partner up with to help you through, give you hints or cheats, or work together to complete something. (As I hear Emily instructing Evan what to do as they try again.)
  • Most games have complex levels/worlds/tasks to complete within the big game.  Once you have completed one, you go on to the next and you don't go back to the one before.
  • There is an end, a prize, to all of them.  Whether it is a fun little song or your character dancing around, there is a sense of accomplishment when you have completed all the tasks, mastered all of the side-stories, and defeated all the enemies.
Looking back over this past year, we can probably identify several tasks and side-stories we had to complete and enemies we had to fend off.  We've been given second chances, or new lives, or forgiveness over and over. Other players have come along side us to help us through a hard spot so we didn't get hit in the knees by a rolling barrel or fall off the road into the dark.  We've helped other players, too, realizing that we are all playing together on the same team and for the same attainable prize. We've stumbled, we have fallen, we've made bad decisions, we have done the opposite of what we are supposed to do - and can't explain why.  We have learned something new each time we tried which will make it easier the next time. We have consulted the Writer of the game to see what He suggested we do - and feel privileged that the Creator of the game cares about how we play it.  It's best played if we don't look back to completed tasks, knowing that we can not change what has already been played and it will only distract us from our current performance.  Occasionally we've looked up and have seen the goal and it became downright overwhelming and we wondered if we will ever get there.  We've wondered if we should even continue!  Putting one foot in front of the other, picking up coin after coin monotonously became tiring at times.  Trying to figure out what the next step was has been painful.  We have been reminded that, as chosen players, we have a unique advantage - some 'cheats/help' which are already inside of us - in the form of our Helper.  As we've pressed through in level 2012, we have made improvements in ourselves, our abilities, our wisdom, and our skills. We have gotten one step closer to the prize and more like the One who wrote the game.  Our prize isn't just flashing lights and fun music - although I'm sure there will be a Light and music like none other!  Our prize is the ultimate Prize. And to hear the Writer say, "well played!" will be amazing!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Kissel Family!

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been a fun year of 'getting our feet under us' in our new area, grieving the loss of old, and enjoying the excitement of new!  We are happy to say that God has been blessing us richly with good friends and feelings of being 'at home' in North Carolina!  We may not have everything we want or desire, but He provides for what we need!  Here is the 2012 Kissel Family update - which we just know that you’ve been waiting for!

We have enjoyed our new church home - we've gotten involved and have met a lot of awesome people.  We’ve been so excited to host many of our ‘old’ friends and our family in our home this year - so many fun memories have been made!  We’d love to have you stay with us if you are out this way!  We've explored a bit around this area and hope to do more in the coming year.  

The whole family is growing in faith and patience, as we still own our Indiana home.  Amy has been actively applying for jobs since the summer with no offers.  Even though things haven’t panned out exactly as we thought they would here - we are still undoubtedly here for a reason that God has not revealed to us yet.  We’re thankful that He has given us peace about being here, when everything else is an unknown to us it seems.  We are enduring.  God is a rock to lean on in times of trouble.  He has helped us through.  Try Him  out if you haven't! ;)

Emily has played more seasons of soccer and enjoys her junior girl scout troop.  She enjoyed a weekend retreat for kids from her Sunday school recently and was baptized on December 2nd!  Emily's sweet and adventurous spirit and pretty smile is going to knock some boys off of their feet.  Fifth grade is upon us and she will soon be going to middle school.  We don't know where time has gone as she approaches her eleventh birthday.

Evan has continued to play baseball and enjoys playing with his legos and his friends.  Always active!  He is a good student in the second grade and always has a smile, a joke, a laugh, a hug, a compliment, or a fart for you!

Jeff spends a bit of time driving to and from work, but has done a great job with his team and still enjoys his job - most days.  He is co-leading our LifeGroup and got to assistant coach Em’s soccer team this year.  Flies his IU flag on his truck proudly and has some stellar Hoosier pride in this Tarheel State!  Still cooking, baking, smoking, grilling, and trying new beers! 

Amy does mom and wife and friend stuff mostly- which is exactly what she loves to do!  She has continued to blog about her thoughts and experiences since we moved - Still passionate about connecting women together to other women in order that all feel the love of Jesus - you are not alone!  Whether that is through lunches, or groups, or get-togethers, or school functions, or ministries - she loves it!  

We truly hope that your family is well - in all ways!
Have a blessed and Holy Christmas!
Jeff, Amy, Emily, and Evan

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Never Say Never

I have spent over a year pouring out my heart about my spiritual journey as we have made the transition to a new life in North Carolina.  For many years now I have enjoyed writing and sharing small devotions and encouraging others.  I've made a few changes to my blog and I hope to reach more people.  I invite you to 'follow' my blog, subscribe to updates, leave comments/questions, and share it with your friends.  I am human...I am imperfect - I promise to humbly share my heart and what God is doing in me - you in turn, won't feel alone and can say, 'I'm glad I'm not the only one!'

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What are You Doing God?

Relief mixed with fear, embarrassment, and pain as I read the email last week.  The job that I had applied for and interviewed for with five different people - the one that I was qualified for and had experience in - was not going to be mine.  As I continued with my quiet day at home, I took a few moments before I told anyone and asked Him, "What are you doing God?"