We drive down a tree-lined gravel lane that seems to appear out of the blue in rural Wisconsin. The closer we get, the more we can hear the sounds of children. As we pull into the yard, we are met with the sight of happy chaos - nearly a dozen children jumping on trampolines, riding bikes around the yard, and running in and out of the house. Beautiful children with all shades of skin tone, from the fairest of fair to deep ebony.
At first glance, one might think they’ve pulled into a daycare, hidden deep in the woods. But they would be wrong.
These children are one big, beautiful, love story.
Our society is awesome at drowning us in the notion that the "perfect body" is not only something that’s expected of us but is also something that’s attainable. A couple months ago, I was taking a pleasant little nature walk up north, looking for the perfect instagrammable leaf. After walking around, leafless, for a good 10 minutes, I realized that I had painted this predispositioned picture of the "perfect leaf" in my mind. There were none to be found, as even the seemingly "perfect" leaves were discolored or dismembered somewhere. The perfect leaf was not attainable.
What if I told you that perfection will never be attainable for our bodies either?
The following was submitted during the open call for writers from the Appleton Alliance congregation.
After dropping my son off, I was walking to my vehicle when I spotted a good friend across the parking lot. I smiled and waved only to be greeted with a half-hearted wave and maybe a smile. I was going to approach her and chat, but this response made me hesitate. Very quickly the thought entered my mind- I wonder why she's mad at me? followed by a host of insecurities and negative thoughts.
My hair stood on end on a beautiful 80 degree day. This wasn’t the first time it had happened that week. On day nine of what I had been referring to as the “trip of a lifetime” to Israel, I found myself standing in an empty tomb.
This wasn’t just any tomb but was the suspected tomb of Jesus- the place where the burial and resurrection took place. I had seen it on flannel boards and raised my hands in remembrance of it with the Easter Sunday choir over the years, but to stand in that place was a powerful reminder of the cornerstone of my identity and faith. The spiritual significance of the moment sunk deep into my being…..
I knew after hearing God loudly on a trip to Africa in 2014 that Burkina was the place where I was always to return. Having that knowledge, I signed up for the very next trip leaving AAC in 2015. However, due to turmoil and unrest in Burkina as well as prayer and discernment, the decision was made to pause trips to Burkina from AAC. Our original team was offered another opportunity to go on mission to Peru in 2018. I didn’t feel any particular call to Peru, and other family conversations led me to decline this offer.
Then in late November 2018 I got an invitation to facilitate a trip to Peru for 2019 – my immediate response was, “No. If it’s not Burkina, I’m not interested.”
Over the past month we have received many thoughtful and inspiring blog submissions from our AAC women. The final deadline for submissions is October 4th, and we still want to hear from YOU.
If you have something you would like to publish on our blog site here are a few qualifiers:
Maybe you’re facing a backward roll into dusky waters right now. It could be the disorientation of a cross-country move, losing a parent to a long illness, struggling with addiction or that sinking feeling that life just hasn’t turned out the way you’d planned.
For me, it was being side-swiped by infertility with the unshakable feelings of confusion, anger, and pain. There is physical pain of tests, treatments and fist-fighting with your own body. The rollercoaster each month of surging hormones and the exhaustion of devastating disappointment. There is the emotional pain of feeling that hole in your heart where you know a child belongs. Facing friends and family who appear to have the family of your dreams. Realizing no amount of hustle or positive thinking can fix it or make it happen. There is the spiritual pain of having big questions for a God who seems silent. Crying out to God in the disappointment of broken dreams. Feeling like I’ve followed the rules and this is what I get for it?
Our blog has been up and running officially since February 2019! Our writing team comes from various backgrounds and circumstances, so hopefully we can speak into a broad range of topics that affect the women at AAC.
Some of you have asked if we would take contributions from you as well. The answer is “yes!”
We all want to make a difference in this world, but sometimes we feel so small and insignificant. Here at AAC we want to encourage women that you were indeed created to make an impact.
I want to introduce you to Lori Loux: She is a wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, and she attends AAC. Lori recently joined the AAC staff part time as an administrative assistant with Global Connections.
I graduated from college and two months later began the greatest journey of my life. Four airplanes, an overnight train, and thirty-six hours took me to a place I never would have imagined I could call home.
I spent the summer teaching English in what is considered one of the “four ovens” of my host country because of the high temperatures and humidity. My days were spent teaching elementary educational methodology to local teachers on the fourth floor of an unairconditioned concrete building.
The remainder of that year had me in three layers of winter clothes in the far northern corner of my host country teaching spoken English at a private university. Both had me completely out of my comfort zone, but to date it remains one of my favorite years of life!
Cheryl began working on staff at AAC in 2007.That was also the year doctors discovered Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer in her body. Cheryl had three months of radiation treatments that seemed to take care of it, but in 2010 a remaining tumor was discovered above her left eye.
Our AAC Women’s Ministry staff hopes you had a refreshing weekend with your girlfriends at Encounter: A Weekend for Women! Speaker Sharon Jaynes explained that even though we have lies thrown at us daily, through Christ we can capture those thoughts and be reminded of our identity as God’s daughter. We hope you carry this truth with you into the hustle of everyday life. Check out some highlights and comments from Encounter 2019 below.
It started out as a normal summer day and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Hubs and I had just purchased our very first home. And it was yellow. I had prayed for yellow. Moving day was set, our boxes packed. We were moving right along with our list of goals: New house, check. Jobs, check. Furniture, check. Search for a dog, check. Our future was looking bright.
And then it happened. Something didn’t feel quite right. My energy started to fail and I found myself getting easily fatigued. Over the next few weeks my knees began to swell until they became the size of cantaloupes. As the swelling increased, the pain grew. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand, it hurt to move.
I spent my 30th birthday and a good part of that year battling a crippling disease. Instead of gracefully waltzing into a new decade, I hobbled my way through. Within two weeks of our move I became confined to our couch, utterly fatigued without even enough energy to make myself a sandwich. Even hobbling across the floor to the bathroom became a tremendous feat. My body was rapidly breaking down before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.
We have many godly older women at our church that have encouraging faith-filled stories to share with us. This is the testimony of Marion Koepke as we interviewed her about her life. May it inspire you as it has me.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FOR YOU AS A WIFE AND MOM IN THE 1960’S?
I was married to a successful businessman in November 1959 and we had 3 children. During the 1960’s most women did not work outside the home unless they were divorced or single, so I stayed at home with my children. Don was gone a lot for business and I was left to raise the children practically by myself. Not only that, but the business world proved to be a big temptation for Don and he became an alcoholic.
It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!
Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.
Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was slightly disturbing and fascinating all at the same time.