Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Country Living!

An exciting night last week- some men from the church came over to grind a stump!!! Now, to you adults that might not sound like a big deal, but to my boys, it is AWESOME! BIG equiptment, lots of noise, wood chips and dust flying everywhere.... does it get any better than this?

... and they even got to go for a ride on the gator a few times! What fun!

On Saturday we finally made it to Brown County State Park! It is about 40 minutes from the house but well worth the drive. It is absolutely beautiful- it feels like you are in the
mountains ...though Josh says, technically, based on the actual feet above sea level of the highest point, they are just large hills. Whatever, they are beautiful and nothing we would ever see in Michigan!

Here's Josh and the kids looking at the map- notice the great view of the "hills"

You will not be surprised to hear that this innocent walking in the creek led to falling and playing in mud!

Marcus was already naked after a horrific diaper explosion on the way there, so I was glad to let him join in!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This really sums it up!

When we got here we received this great big pile of welcome cards from the First Graders at the school. Mostly done in crayon, cute pictures of the school and kids mixed in, they are absolutely great. For example,

The kids seem to be just as welcoming as the adults. But kids also have their way of stating the obvious when everyone else is too polite to do so- To me, that explains this picture on the back of one of the cards:

Notice how little that poor little stick figure is compared to the enormous eyes! Haha- and we sure know how he feels!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Firsts for the Cook kids!

Every day is a new adventure here in Indiana- especially for the kids. Here are a few of the latest pictures.

Daddy reading in the living room (I happened to catch a quite moment between the wrestling match that tended to start every few pages or so.) Notice our wild new furniture! Next to the chair is the entertainment center- see how it beautifully hides the plasma screen Monster!

Aggie and Marcus wrestling in the living room. (Notice the brown suede- the couch and the loveseat are this color and very soft- i love it, except that the boogers show up really well!) Each kid likes to have "Marcus time" now, which usually consists of rolling around with him on the carpet. As you can probably imagine, this does not go well with all three of them trying to do it at once- it has now become a privelage for the well- behaved.

This is one of Marcus's favorite new pasttimes- saying hello to Otis. He can easily pull himself up to peek out the window (this is the storm door off the kitchen facing the back yard.) I have to be careful to make sure the door latches- one day he was trying to crawl right outside!

We stopped for a snack in the "memory garden" by the church the other day. Lorraine was the only one that felt like taking pictures. It has been so hot here we usually try to get out to the park before nine! That way by ten we can seal ourselves up in our air conditioning until evening.

This is another shot of the memory garden- it is absolutely beautiful!

At the church playground- as soon as I took that picture I thought "my mom's going to love this one." One of those cheesy sister pictures that we can retake every year- Amy, you understand!

Marcus wonders why in the world he is out in the heat during his morning naptime.....

The city girls meet their first snake! I am glad they got to meet a dead one first! They were quite amazed- Lorraine got very wide-eyed and said "I didn't know there were snakes around here...."

First rain dance!

The weather here is much different- Josh says because we do not have lake-effect like in MI. We get sudden downpours, then sunshine, then more downpours.

The girls get a kick out of playing in the grass (this is in our backyard between us and the church and cemetery). Obviously they forget about the threat of snakes every now and then!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

snapshots of the journey

We have now officially been here for a week and the house is calm enough for me to post some pictures of the moving adventure. These are of moving day- the truck came at 10am, we were loaded by about 3 and to Indiana about 730. The kids had a ball while we worked, playing with the Beckers and the Morgans (see the picture below of all the kids!) We were so grateful to have so many people willing to help- it was a LOT of work!
A 35 foot trailer - you would think that would be plenty of room! But trust me, it took a bit of creative thinking (and climbing) to get everything to fit!

The kids sat in the lawn watching them load everything on the truck for a long time. They were quick to notice when the grown-ups took a break- that's when the kids get to run like maniacs in and out of the truck! What fun!

The girls reluctantly said goodbye to the house, the tinkerbell room, and the kitty.

The Cook family's last picture on Elm St!

When we finally arrived in Indiana, a large crew was waiting for us with casseroles, housewarming gifts, and strong men to unload the truck. It took four hours to load and less than one to empty! They even set up the beds for us!

A new morning tradition- every morning we get up and sit on the front porch to enjoy the country sounds, and say hello to the horse across the street. I drink my coffee, snuggle the children, and listen to the birds sing (rather, every now and then I hear a chirp over the toddler in the world do they have so much to say at 6am?)

This is one of the reasons the kids love it here- there are other children EVERYWHERE! Every day is like a party- they are always meeting some new friend!

One evening we took a break from unpacking to take the kids for a swim!

This is our front window- yes, it will be impossible to keep it booger free, but is sure is fun for the baby!

What a GREAT hallway for cars and trucks!

Chalk on the back patio- they are relplacing this patio for us next month, but in the meantime, the kids are making it beautiful!

Thanks for the flowers Nana!

One of the most fun things for me this week has been putting the finishing touches on the rooms. Of course this means getting out old photos, scrapbooks, gifts, and other things I haven't seen in a long time. I love walking through the house seeing family pictures and gifts from people I love all around me. Though the house itself doesn't feel familiar enough to be home, I am surrounded by the love of family through these little reminders. We are truly blessed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


For those of you who missed the ordination service, or who loved it so much you just want to relive it, here is the service itself. I find the Scriptures and prayers very encouraging- now that we are finally here in White Creek I am realizing what a daunting job Joshua has in serving this large congregation. It is so very encouraging to know that the Lord goes before him (and all of us) and with us along the way. He calls and equips, and He is faithful. If you think to pray for Josh, I mean Pastor Cook, the prayers at the end of this entry are a great guide.

SERVICE OF ORDINATION of Joshua Hawkins Cook
June 15, 2008 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hillsdale, MI

P: In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
C: Amen.
P: Beloved in the Lord, Joshua Hawkins Cook has been called by the Lord of the Church into the Office of the Holy Ministry of the Word and Sacraments. He has been prepared for this ministry by careful study and prayer. He has been examined and declared ready and prepared to undertake this sacred responsibility, and, by the guidance of God the Holy Spirit, he has in the Church’s usual order been called to be pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, White Creek, Indiana. According to apostolic practice he is now presented to be ordained and consecrated to this office established by God.
Stand (the candidate kneels)
P: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful people, and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Through the diversity of tongues You gathered together the nations, in unity of the faith. Alleluia!
Hymn 498
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And also with you.
P: Let us pray.
O Lord God, heavenly Father, by the blessed light of Your holy Word You have led us to the knowledge of Your Son. We humbly implore You to replenish us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit that we may ever walk in the light of Your truth and, rejoicing with sure confidence in Christ, Our Savior, be brought to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

P: Hear what Holy Scripture says concerning the institution of the Office of the Holy Ministry.
Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

P: Hear what Holy Scripture says concerning the responsibilities of the Office of the Holy Ministry.
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17

I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:2-4

P: Hear what Holy Scripture says concerning the strength and promise God gives to those in the Office of the Holy Ministry.
[Jesus said:] “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

Continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
P: Dear brother in Christ, the Lord grant that you receive and keep these words in your heart so that you may be strengthened and encouraged in your labors.

God gathers His Church by and around His Holy Gospel and thereby also grants it growth and increase according to His good pleasure. That this may be done, He has established the Office of the Holy Ministry into which you have been called by the Church and are now to be ordained and consecrated by prayer and the laying on of hands.

P: In the presence of this congregation and before our Lord God to whom you must give an account now and at the Last Day, I now ask you:
Do you acknowledge that the Lord has called you through His Church into the ministry of Word and Sacrament?
R: I do.
P: Do you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
R: Yes, I believe and confess the canonical Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

P: Do you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds, namely the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?
R: Yes, I believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds because they are in accord with the Word of God. I also reject all the errors they condemn.
P: Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord – as theses are contained in the Book of Concord – are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?
R: Yes, I make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God.
P: Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions?
R: Yes, I promise, with the help of God.
P: Will you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you? Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel? Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?
R: Yes, I will, with the help of God.
P: Finally, will you honor and adorn the Office of the Holy Ministry with a holy life? Will you be diligent in the study of Holy Scripture and the Confessions? And will you be constant in prayer for those under you pastoral care?
R: I will, the Lord helping me through the power and grace of His Holy Spirit.
The candidate kneels. The presiding minister lays both his hands directly on the head of the candidate and says:
P: [Jesus said:] “Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Joshua Hawkins Cook, I ordain and consecrate you to the Office of the Holy Ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen.
C: The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The newly ordained stands and is vested with a stole.
The presiding minister and the newly ordained turn to face the congregation. The presiding minister says:
P: Beloved in the Lord, Holy Scripture says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Will you, the faithful, according to the Church’s public confession, and speaking for the whole Church, receive Joshua as a servant of Christ and minister of the Word and Sacrament? If so, then answer: We will.
C: We will.
P: Let us pray.
O eternal, merciful God, You have spoken through Your own dear Son, saying that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers few and that we should ask You, the Lord of the harvest, to send laborers into Your harvest. Hear now our prayer on behalf of Joshua, who this day is ordained and consecrated to be Your minister in the Church. Strengthen him mightily to take up the Word of truth and faithfully to administer Your holy Sacraments.
O Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, You gave Your own life to be a holy and perfect sacrifice for us and for our salvation. Grant Joshua a heart zealous for Your people and boldness to guide, comfort, admonish, and serve Your congregation with gentleness and wisdom. Fill him, Your undershepherd, with Your love that in Your name he will seek the straying and bear up the weak. Give him the heart never to grow weary in the service of Your flock.
O Holy Spirit, strengthen and keep Joshua in the Word of truth and life, and support him in every time of trouble and distress. Make his labors fruitful and, when the day of labor is ended, grant him to come with rejoicing before Your presence to receive with all the saints his portion in eternal salvation.

To You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor, both now and forever.
C: Amen.
P: Go, therefore, and be a shepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock. Preach the Word of God; administer the holy Sacraments; offer prayer for all the faithful; instruct, watch over, and guide the flock among which the Holy Spirit has placed you. Do it not for earthly fain but with great joy, for you have been called not to lordship but to serve His flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
The almighty and most merciful God, the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you.
C: Amen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'M BACK!!!!!

What a day and night and all day today- my dear husband fighting against technology and all that is evil in the world to get us an internet connection. He began tinkering yesterday afternoon, which turned into working, which turned into obsessing and possibly cursing as he worked until 1am this morning. And still the beast was not conquered- he fought and strove and sweat until 4 this afternoon, at which time he proudly declared that I have the SMARTEST husband in the world.

He is now completely exhausted, wearing his pajamas (it is 430 in the afternoon) sitting on the couch with a bag of chips.

It is SO GOOD to be connected to the outside world again! The past week has been so much actual work; moving, lifting, organizing, cleaning, etc... I have missed virtual world!

So that I do not turn this post into an entire novel, I am limiting myself to a few observations about our first days in Columbus- more to come every day or two if things go to plan. We actually unpacked the last boxes today! (though josh still has a few to go through, but he's been busy...) It does not feel like home yet, and though ordination day was quite emotional (more on that later) I don't think the reality of the distance has hit me yet. I have been too busy with the details and work- and I am completely ok with that. So now that the house is in order I might have to go looking for other work... :)

We are nice and dry here in White Creek, though the city of Columbus is still recovering. I hear the hospital will be closed for at least 6 months! (We would go to Seymore, about the same distance from the house). Our house is BEAUTIFUL- It feels huge now that the boxes are unpacked, and it is VERY country. Every morning the kids and I sit on the front porch and listen to the birds, say hello to the horse across the street, etc- just drinking in the summer morning.

By the way, we are certainly in SOUTHERN Indiana. I notice the accents quite a bit (I am sure they do with us as well) - Like "I'm from White Creek" sounds like "A'm from Waat Crick" Or "My great grand mom was a Waat Crick'er, my mom was a Waat Crick'er, my dad went to Waat Crick school, and now I live in Waat Crick." The kids are already picking it up- last night Lorraine said her shower felt naaace (nice)!

I will post more later, including pictures- Just wanted to let you all know I am officially back online! There's something homey about my gmail account and blog- everything around me might be new and different, but my precious social world on the internet is just the way I left it!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Thoughts on "call night"

For several months we had no idea what our future would hold. I tried to keep all things “on the altar” so to speak, trying not to even form opinions about our future knowing it was completely out of my control. Then a dear friend told me “It is ok to tell God what you want, He can always tell you no!” So instead of making pathetic attempts not to have wants or opinions about our future, I began to make a list of requests regarding our new place, learning to be bold in asking and trusting that the Lord knows when to say yes and when to say no. At the top of my list was being placed 2 hours or less from family (Grand Rapids would be great!). I also requested a dishwasher, a nice yard for the kids, and other more practical things. In one of my more fanciful moods I even asked Jesus to throw in a climbing tree or a tree house (I loved climbing trees as a child.)

We gave our input to the placement professor and I continued to give my input to God. We got to a point where there was nothing left to do but wait. The last three days before call night I spent trying not to worry but worrying anyway, and finishing up things at Alpha Omega. The night itself was stress and joy mixed together. Joy began to break through the stress even before the call as I felt the love of family and my dear husband who bought me a corsage for the occasion. My mother came to watch the kids, and Josh and I went out to dinner before the service. I was feeling adventurous (or trying to make myself feel adventurous) so I ordered something other than my usual lasagna at Olive Garden. This is a very big deal.
The call service itself was torturously long, and I was so grateful for Robyn sitting next to me. The whole day felt like being strapped in a seat of a roller coaster and slowly going up the hill, clickclickclickclickclickclickclick, then sitting at the top to WAIT and sing a few hymns. My mind frantically grasped for the peace of the Lord, trying to hold onto it with shaking hands and a pounding heart. Then came a call to Mount Olive Church, five minutes from my mother’s house…for someone else. Then Josh’s name, and my heart stopped. When I heard St. John’s White Creek Lutheran Church, Columbus, IN, my first reaction was a panicky “that’s northern Indiana, right?” No it is not, in fact is it only about 1 hour from Kentucky. I did not cry, but I did think of mother crying at home (she was listening to the call service on the internet.)

The name of the city was all I knew, as I sat through the rest of the service thinking of everyone at home on Google and Mapquest. I was glad to know something concrete, but I did not yet have enough details to form strong feelings about it either way. Josh had the call papers with all the other information, but we had to wait until after the service to open them. When I finally found him after the service (there were quite a few bald guys wearing black that night) we opened the papers and started reading the details. A lady came up to me and said “I have been to your parsonage- you have a beautiful kitchen!” Josh talked to her husband for a minute, then another woman asked me if that was “Pastor Cook” and I was a little confused, but said yes. She waved to someone, and all of a sudden we were surrounded by at least 10 grinning people from the church in Columbus.

I cannot put into words the warmth of the welcome. They drove 2 ½ hours to come to the service, and even though they had to drive back that night, they were happy to stay and visit with us. They were so excited to meet us, took our pictures, and gave us tons of pictures and information about the church. Josh had to meet with the president of the district, so I went with the crowd to drink coffee and chat. I felt right at home with them while they were talking to me. Where do I start to count the blessings of this place- a growing church, a thriving Lutheran school, out in the beautiful country but close to a city, a great parsonage, a generous and energetic congregation… I see God’s fingerprints everywhere- right down to the treestand in our yard!

We are confident that God has placed us exactly where He wants us. When I look over my list of requests, there are many YESes, a few NOs, and some I am waiting on. But He is a loving Father, and He is going before us and with us. He has assured us time and again of His great love for us. During these years of seminary (and Iraq right before that) this family has had to rely heavily on the Body of Christ to meet many of our needs. We have truly lacked nothing.
We have been constantly upheld by your prayers, time, gifts, and love. I am amazed as I think of all the people God brought together to help carry us through these years of training: dear friends and family, fellow Christians at Alpha Omega, the love and generosity of the church family at Prince of Peace, the churches and people who “adopted” us during seminary, and of course our church family at St. Paul’s.

I pray that everyone reading this, everyone who has helped us bear the load over the years of training and waiting, will also now share in our joy as we follow the Lord on this new adventure.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Prince of Peace goodbyes

Last sunday was our last day at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. It is very difficulut to leave: we have come to love that church family like our own family.

This is Marcus with Julie, his God mother.

When we first came to the church, Seth was a newborn. Eveline spent many sundays with him sleeping on her lap. Now Seth is a bit to big and wiggly, so here she is with Marcus. And of course, Aggie had to join the party!

Josh and Sharon- that's the church in the background. (No, that is not our beloved clickety clack boom- that is Sharon's VW)

Other loved ones from Prince of Peace:

Ah yes, our calm, well behaved pastor's kids :)

GOODBYE Prince of Peace!

Though it is hard to leave, it is good to know that goodbyes are never final for Christians. In the meantime, we trust God will provide for our loved ones in our absence.