Big Steve

Just a man trying to become a better Christian following Jesus and those that follow him.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Time Was Here Again!

Ahh! Christmas time was here again and I must say it was awsome. A number of things made this Christmas special. Here are just a few. First, this year it has been great just to spend time with my family. Last year as I prepared to go to Africa my schedule was very hectic. Alasha was pregnant with Jonah and headed for Louisiana for a visit and I was busy singing with BlueLineMax. Because of the way things worked out we were apart for a month. So needless to say I have had fun just being with my beautiful wife. Second, this was Jonah's first Christmas. He turned 10 months on December 23rd and on Christmas Day he did the same things he always does: laughs big so you can see his two fron teeth, screams in joy, crawled around on Pearl Howarth's floor like a mad baby, and helped us eat our Christmas dinner. It was very exciting to see and Jonah did not disapoint. He had so much fun with us that he didn't even play with all of his Christmas toys. I watched basketball and Christmas music concert shows. I will say that the best thing for Christms this year was the fact that Christmas was on a Sunday. I was able to speak in church and we had great time. We talked about the fact that we celebrate the life of Christ everyday and remember his sacrifice with communion every Sunday. This time we got to concentrate on His birth even more. I know there is a big contraversy about not knowing for sure if December 25th is the birthday of Christ, but as I heard it once said; if anybody deserves to have a day to celebrate his birth it is Jesus Christ. Anyway, we had refreshments, singing, praising, worshiping, and words from the Word about the Word (see John 1). Alasha, Jonah, and I spent Christmas with Pearl Howarth. We had a great time and Pearl was a very generous host. I suppose it was sort of bitter sweet for us with the move, but God was good and we really appreciated just spending time with each other.

I pray that your Christmas was just as rewaring. I pray that this coming year will bring for you more blesssings from God, friends and family. Until next Christmas - God bless you and have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Take the Time!

I don't expect to get many comments on this, but I will say it anyway. Take the time to REST! OK, so in some cases I am speaking to the choir. I guess the thing that surprises me is that in a lot of cases I am not speaking to the choir. It's as if resting has become a lost art. It's as if the worries, trials, task list's, and other things of this world have us going so much our entire life is a fast food drive through. Drive through to get some sleep, a little work done, time on the computor, to get something to eat, and so on and so on. It starts getting scary when it becomes driving through to get time with the children, time with the spouse, time with friends and then the ultimate - time with the Creator of Time - God. What gives? When is it time to chill and do a lot by doing nothing. I know one of the things I face is that my mind is going so much that sometimes I can't rest my mind enough to rest my body. The funny thing about this is that I have it modeled for me daily by my beautiful baby boy - Jonah! He sleeps throughout the day and I don't. Now granted I have work to do, but I wonder what kind of work I would get done if I would just rest.
Oh well! I guess I wrote this now because, Lord willing, you will get some time with family this Christmas season and you guys will just sit around and talk about "the here and now" or "the way it used to be". You will take time to eat together, then play games, watch sporting events, and sleep between all of that. And during that time you will be resting. Yes, that is what it feels like. Now, some of you are saying - Steve, you don't know my family - this is not the time to rest. And to you I say, TAKE THE TIME! Find it somewhere! You will be blessed and those around you will be blessed also. (Since the roads are sheets of ice - now would be a good time to try it out)
Until next time - Have a Merry Christmas and God bless you and your life lived for Him.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Maxwell Transition.

Alasha and I are planning to move back to the Southern part of the US to be closer to family. It is something we have been thinking about more and more with the birth of our first child, Jonah Tobias. Jonas is now almost 10 months old and we have had a challenging year just wanting to be closer to family. The best part about this year has been God’s consistency and friends being there at exactly the right time. Mmm, I wonder if that has to do with how awesome God is. (The answer is “yes”, just in case there are any questions.)
We will leave having spent just shy of 4 years here in the great Northwest. We will miss it. It has been both fun and challenging. The most challenging aspect is what led to our decision to be closer to family. I have learned so much here in the Northwest and this is my second stint here. The toughest thing for me will be the fact that most of my closest friends are located here in the Northwest. We will both miss the incredible relationships we have made here.
PUMP church has been one the most incredible ministry experiences I have ever had. I will miss PUMP church in a big way. I love working with children and their parents and this has been the opportunity of a lifetime. My co-wokers have shown me love and I love them back. There is nothing like doing ministry pedal to the metal for periods of time to help strengthen your character. The friends and family we have gained here are priceless and will be sorely missed. Of course, there is so much of God’s beauty here to see, that you would have to come here and travel exclusively to take it all in so you can bet we will be back out this way again to visit friends and blend that with some coast and mountain visits.
I will continue to work in full time ministry. The need is growing 10:1 for people of God to do their best to spread Jesus so I will continue to do that in Arlington, Texas. I will be the Associate Minister at Park Row church of Christ working in the areas of worship and community outreach. I will share more about that in later posts. For now you can visit the site and keep us in your prayers. Alasha and I are excited about working with the Park Row. I have enjoyed working with both PUMP and Park Row in this transition. Park Row has come out for the past 3 summers in a row to work with the PUMP Summer Program and they have been a blessing. If I can remember I will post sometime about how PUMP and Park Row’s relationship started. I am blessed to be blessed by PUMP and sent into the next phase of our ministry. Sometimes that does not happen, but God is good and always faithful. Thank you, PUMP.
We will be moving sometime in April so again we solicit your prayers. It will be crazy moving 2135 miles back across the US. Pray that we get chance to visit and tell a lot of people how much we love them and will miss them. Pray that God continues to use us here in Portland until it is time to leave. Pray that we can do as much pre-packing as possible. Pray that we will continue to grow as couple and just pray that we make it through a move with a 10 month old. Alasha and I are going to try and go to a retreat in Southern Louisiana before we get started at Park Row so pray that we can pull that off financially along with the other financial responsibilities we want to put in order before we leave. Finally, at least for now, pray that God continue to give us the strength to make it through this holiday season. It will be the first for Jonah and we are excited. He won’t know it from any other day this year but – Lord willing – we will just be together this year as a family.
Remember we have 4 months until we move so we would love to say goodbye to as many of you here in the great Northwest as we can. With love and peace that only Jesus can bring – God bless.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Missing it!

Man oh man! I am sitting here at home and I am blessed. My son is giving his "Evenflo" exersaucer a work out as he jumps in it, and my wife will be home soon. If I take the time to think about it I can truely count my blessings, but there is still a part of my heart that is in joyfull sadness. That sadness comes from the fact that I won't be in Africa this year. I will miss the people, the smells, and the fellowship. I will pray for the Graul family and wait for God to send me back. Alasha has said she will make the trip with me next time, and for those of you that know my wife; you know that is big. So keep us in your prayers and pray for our brothers and sisters in Afrcia.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Make Me Wanna Dance

OK! Let me first tell you of a story that happened to me when I was in Acappella. We were on tour and I had not too long started singing with the group when we found ourselves in Chicago, Illinois. I can remember driving through Gary, Indiana coming into Chicago from the South side and being in awe. You have remember we visited city after city so it wasn't that this city was so much different than the others I had visited it was that we were about to enter Oprah land. Ok, so I am kidding. Now to the real story.

I was listening to one of my new albums and like a good album can do, it led me to another artist. Now the thing about music is that you can find out about people who have been right under your nose the whole time and you just didn't know it. I was listening to Kirk Franklin's album "Hero" and I came across cut #8 Could've Been and I became a little "undignidfied" as my man Avery Stafford would say. The beat drops on that track and if you are like me; a big country smile comes on your face like that guy in the Buger King commercials. Then the singing starts and you are hooked. This song has a secret weapon at the end of it which also guess vocals Tye Tribett . It comes in the form of an intoxicating tenor voice. I tried to ignore it at first but ya'll know me. It wasn't long before I was researching the person behind that voice and it led to me to someone who has been around for a little time: J. Moss. J. Moss has been in gospel for a while, but has also worked with people like Boyz II Men, Waner Brothers Films, Mary Mary etc. He is one third of the hit making producing duo PAJAM. Paul Allen and Walter Kearney are the other two.

I am still worshiping with this album. I must tell you that this album makes me want to be a complete David (2 Samuel 6:14). After a few more listens andI will review it for ya, but I have to let it marinate a little more. I'll get back to ya when I can.

Oh Yeah! Thank you to my Mentee' for the gift of J. Moss. God bless you!