May 2016 Retreat: Wright & Dori Doyle on Marriage

Note:  The lack of posts to this blog hasn't been because not much is going on. Quite the opposite ... too much has been going on to capture it all and report on it!  Much of our focus has been on Wittenberg 2017, but we're very happy to post this entry about our most recent CTR Retreat ...

On May 21, Wright Doyle spoke about Marriage - the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.  He spoke extensively from his marriage of 48+ years to Dori, and she also gave some reflections during the afternoon session.  Thank you Wright & Dori!


Recordings


Teaching Notes

Here is a link to a folder that has the notes, a suggested reading list, and other resources.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/l0jpj2dgc95mnct/AAAvIHxsFV-UjOf-ECDPI7BOa?dl=0

Enjoy!


Postscript:  This was a special teaching for me, because Wright is my uncle (he married my mother's sister).  And it was conversations with Uncle Wright in Taiwan in 1988, when I was 20 years old, that God used to lead me to pursue a certain Amy Craver for marriage.  Happily, she accepted my proposal, and we were married in 1990!

I just finished scanning in my slides from that 1988 trip to Taiwan, here are a couple of "blast-from-the-past" pictures:

Uncle Wright & his daughter Sarah in Taiwan, 1988

Uncle Wright & his daughter Sarah in Taiwan, 1988

My Aunt Dori at Tian An Men Square, Beijing, China, 1988

My Aunt Dori at Tian An Men Square, Beijing, China, 1988

Me at the Great Wall of China, 1988

Me at the Great Wall of China, 1988

30 October Photos: Moscow, Prague, Augsburg, Malta/Gozo, Rome

I was traveling in Europe for almost all of October.  God really blessed all of this pilgrimage!  Here are 30 of my favorite photos from the trip.  Since they are just images I like, with no particular theme, I'll drop a bonus video at the end that shows highlights from the Wittenberg 2017 gathering in Rome, which was the ultimate purpose of the trip.

New Jerusalem Convent, Moscow - from the airplane

New Jerusalem Convent, Moscow - from the airplane

Fr. Peter & Fr. Vasily, Tabor Square

Fr. Peter & Fr. Vasily, Tabor Square

Avi leads the Shabbat blessing of the bread, Tabor

Avi leads the Shabbat blessing of the bread, Tabor

Prague subway station

Prague subway station

Last thing I expected to see in Augsburg!

Last thing I expected to see in Augsburg!

Boat at night in the Malta harbor, from the airplane

Boat at night in the Malta harbor, from the airplane

Door knob & keyhole, Valetta, Malta

Door knob & keyhole, Valetta, Malta

Noah back flip, Hondoq Bay, Gozo, Malta

Noah back flip, Hondoq Bay, Gozo, Malta

Cotitas on the Citadel, Victoria, Gozo, Malta

Cotitas on the Citadel, Victoria, Gozo, Malta

Cielo on Gozo!

Cielo on Gozo!

Tori at the Azure Window, Gozo, Malta

Tori at the Azure Window, Gozo, Malta

Kara & Caleb, Gozo, Malta

Kara & Caleb, Gozo, Malta

Censor hanging from the Mosta Dome, Malta

Censor hanging from the Mosta Dome, Malta

Selfie with the Mileys, Ariccia, Rome

Selfie with the Mileys, Ariccia, Rome

Jill overwhelmed by the beauty of God and His church, Catacombs Chapel, Rome

Jill overwhelmed by the beauty of God and His church, Catacombs Chapel, Rome

Crater Lake at Ariccia, Rome

Crater Lake at Ariccia, Rome

3 Rome tourists, Vatican City

3 Rome tourists, Vatican City

"Just doing my nails", Vatican Museum

"Just doing my nails", Vatican Museum

Cylinder of Sennacherib, Vatican museum

Cylinder of Sennacherib, Vatican museum

Pines of Rome at Sunset

Pines of Rome at Sunset

Vatican statues & fountain

Vatican statues & fountain

Vatican sunset

Vatican sunset

St. Peter's at night, Rome

St. Peter's at night, Rome

We're about to try to get on this subway in Rome!

We're about to try to get on this subway in Rome!

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Amy takes my picture in the JPII statue, Rome

Amy takes my picture in the JPII statue, Rome

Stained glass dome, Church of St. Mary of the Angels & Martyrs, Rome

Stained glass dome, Church of St. Mary of the Angels & Martyrs, Rome

Family playing red light, green light outside the Diocletian Baths in Rome

Family playing red light, green light outside the Diocletian Baths in Rome

Cars & scooters rarin' to go, Rome

Cars & scooters rarin' to go, Rome

Bridge of the Angels through an arrow slit in the Castle of Michael the Archangel

Bridge of the Angels through an arrow slit in the Castle of Michael the Archangel


Summer Photos

I am far behind on reporting on the events of the summer.  It's not because nothing's been happening, either!  In fact, it's been so busy I haven't had time to blog ... but I'm making up for it on Labor Day.

As usual, I'll follow the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words.

We subscribed to a CSA basket over the summer, and many of our community meals were inspired by whatever came in the basket that week.

We subscribed to a CSA basket over the summer, and many of our community meals were inspired by whatever came in the basket that week.

Duane Grobman, president of Wittenberg 2017 in the US, visited us in June.  It was a wonderful and blessed time of sharing, praying, and planning together ... and as usual some really good meals as well!

Duane Grobman, president of Wittenberg 2017 in the US, visited us in June.  It was a wonderful and blessed time of sharing, praying, and planning together ... and as usual some really good meals as well!

The next generation, dancing before the Lord during Bridge Prayer.

The next generation, dancing before the Lord during Bridge Prayer.

The next generation ... helping to prepare CTR for the Actions of Reconciliation retreat.

The next generation ... helping to prepare CTR for the Actions of Reconciliation retreat.

A young couple from a Baptist church in Elgin organized a 2-day praise in the park event, at Memorial Park in Elgin.  We are seeing evidence that God wants to further unite the churches of Elgin in prayer and mission.  However, there are also barriers that have been erected over the years.  Pray for God to move mightily in Elgin - the Walls Will Come Down!

A young couple from a Baptist church in Elgin organized a 2-day praise in the park event, at Memorial Park in Elgin.  We are seeing evidence that God wants to further unite the churches of Elgin in prayer and mission.  However, there are also barriers that have been erected over the years.  Pray for God to move mightily in Elgin - the Walls Will Come Down!

Amazing storm sweeping over CTR.

Amazing storm sweeping over CTR.

We were blessed to have the Martins stay with us before they left for Germany.

We were blessed to have the Martins stay with us before they left for Germany.

Kay Hart suggested that we put up a task board, so that visitors could find a job to do while they are at CTR.  No sooner said than done!  (Well, actually it took a couple of weeks, and one of the first tasks on the task board is, "Finish the task board"!)

Kay Hart suggested that we put up a task board, so that visitors could find a job to do while they are at CTR.  No sooner said than done!  (Well, actually it took a couple of weeks, and one of the first tasks on the task board is, "Finish the task board"!)

Justus in the prayer room.

Justus in the prayer room.

Praying for the Martins the night before they left for Augsburg.

Praying for the Martins the night before they left for Augsburg.

Duane in the prayer room.

Duane in the prayer room.

Dear friends writing love notes to their mothers

Dear friends writing love notes to their mothers

We've had lots of frogs with all the early summer rains ... this one jumped up on our large frog sculpture, at the entrance of CTR.  Frog on frog!

We've had lots of frogs with all the early summer rains ... this one jumped up on our large frog sculpture, at the entrance of CTR.  Frog on frog!

Installing a series of hand-painted signs along the entrance to CTR, to give visitors an idea of what to expect upon arrival.

Installing a series of hand-painted signs along the entrance to CTR, to give visitors an idea of what to expect upon arrival.

Peggy & John Patrick helped me rearrange the prayer room

Peggy & John Patrick helped me rearrange the prayer room

One of the great joys this summer has been welcoming the Doyles into our community.  Seasoned ministers of the gospel of reconciliation, they have added a lot to our prayer times and gatherings.  We were privileged in this prayer time to welcome another visitor, Chris, who was introduced to us through a friend from Imagine Art & Austin Stone.

One of the great joys this summer has been welcoming the Doyles into our community.  Seasoned ministers of the gospel of reconciliation, they have added a lot to our prayer times and gatherings.  We were privileged in this prayer time to welcome another visitor, Chris, who was introduced to us through a friend from Imagine Art & Austin Stone.

Artistic shot of water bottles in morning light.

Artistic shot of water bottles in morning light.

Occasionally we find our table covered in arrows ... a small price to pay for having such wonderful teens in our community!

Occasionally we find our table covered in arrows ... a small price to pay for having such wonderful teens in our community!

Dawn light coming down the hall to the residential area in CTR

Dawn light coming down the hall to the residential area in CTR

Jim's mural reflected in a cake server.

Jim's mural reflected in a cake server.

Sunset light on the beautiful sculpture that John Michael gave to CTR.

Sunset light on the beautiful sculpture that John Michael gave to CTR.

Amazing article in the Catholic Spirit paper, published by the Diocese of Austin.

Sr. Mary Paul from Austria, handing me Peppa Pig, which we left in Austria last time we were there.  The handoff occurred at a TJCII meeting in Dallas.

Sr. Mary Paul from Austria, handing me Peppa Pig, which we left in Austria last time we were there.  The handoff occurred at a TJCII meeting in Dallas.

And Peppa is finally home!  Making her owner very happy, as well ...nothA

And Peppa is finally home!  Making her owner very happy, as well ...nothA

Another homecoming.  Peggy, former (and current) AHOP intern, spent 3 months working with Mother Theresa's group in Calcutta, with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, and many parts between.

Another homecoming.  Peggy, former (and current) AHOP intern, spent 3 months working with Mother Theresa's group in Calcutta, with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, and many parts between.

We are happy to have Peggy back as intern, her gifts of hospitality are wonderful!

We are happy to have Peggy back as intern, her gifts of hospitality are wonderful!

Mark preparing potatoes before the August community dinner, following our retreat & prayer time.

Mark preparing potatoes before the August community dinner, following our retreat & prayer time.

Another skilled chef ... Patrick is not as crazy as he looks in this picture.  (Wait, maybe he is :-)

Another skilled chef ... Patrick is not as crazy as he looks in this picture.  (Wait, maybe he is :-)

Bridge Prayer with the Hamiltons, who stayed at CTR while their house was being made ready, and also Mike, a special visitor from Fort Worth.

Bridge Prayer with the Hamiltons, who stayed at CTR while their house was being made ready, and also Mike, a special visitor from Fort Worth.

CTR now has a lawn mower ...

CTR now has a lawn mower ...

... and a weedeater, donated by a community member (thank you!)

... and a weedeater, donated by a community member (thank you!)

Is this what you call a "beehive" hairdo?

Is this what you call a "beehive" hairdo?

Another hair picture, this time at Landa Park in New Braunfels.

Another hair picture, this time at Landa Park in New Braunfels.

Good to the last drop ...

Good to the last drop ...

CTR youth on a fun trip to Prince Solms Tube Chute ...

CTR youth on a fun trip to Prince Solms Tube Chute ...

... and surfing down the chute, into the rapids.

... and surfing down the chute, into the rapids.

Our outgoing intern, Emma, playing with John.  You did a great job as intern, Emma!

Our outgoing intern, Emma, playing with John.  You did a great job as intern, Emma!

Another passing of the torch ... Joelene praying a blessing for Caroline, that the "financial anointing" would be passed on to our new bookkeeper!

Another passing of the torch ... Joelene praying a blessing for Caroline, that the "financial anointing" would be passed on to our new bookkeeper!


The Storms of 2015

We had it easy here at CTR during the big storms, especially compared to so many in Wimberly and along the Blanco River, in Houston, and elsewhere in the state and throughout the midwest.

(By the way, if you're not familiar with ADRN, you should be .... these guys are mobilizing the church to be the front line reponders in times of disaster like this.)

What we did get was some amazing sunsets, rainbows, and one story of a little mama bird.  Enjoy!


Cielo 'Round the World

And now we take a break from our usual blog entries for a word from our sponsor ... Cielo water!

Here are some fun pictures of Cielo in various places around the world ... some close to home, some not so much.

Light Fjord, Norway

Light Fjord, Norway

Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Singapore

Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Singapore

Central America

Central America

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

Vienna Café

Vienna Café

Tokpaki, Istanbul

Tokpaki, Istanbul

Prince Solms Tube Chute, New Braunfels

Prince Solms Tube Chute, New Braunfels

A monk

A monk

A frozen waterfall

A frozen waterfall

Worship at Hope Chapel

Worship at Hope Chapel

From Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

From Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

South Africa

South Africa

Taco Deli, Austin

Taco Deli, Austin

Berlin

Berlin

Prayer room in the Middle East

Prayer room in the Middle East

Singapore skyline

Singapore skyline

Party!

Party!

Wittenberg, Germany

Wittenberg, Germany

Brujfells Sea Cave, Norway

Brujfells Sea Cave, Norway

Singapore

Singapore

Genuine Joe's, Austin

Genuine Joe's, Austin

Rjukan from Gaustatoppen, Norway

Rjukan from Gaustatoppen, Norway

A priest!

A priest!

Norway

Norway

At a famous picnic

At a famous picnic


February & March Happenin's

Wow, a lot has happened in the last two months at CTR!  So much that I haven't had time to post any pictures.  So ... I'm making up for it by posting a bunch of photos, in these categories:

  • Visitors
  • Singapore
  • February & March Retreats
  • Daily Life around CTR

Visitors

Powerful women of God having breakfast together

Powerful women of God having breakfast together

Andy & Ryan from Phoenix

Andy & Ryan from Phoenix

Sr. Helen Prejean visits CTR!

Sr. Helen Prejean visits CTR!

Visitors from Turkey and KC IHOP join in with Bridge Prayer at CTR

Visitors from Turkey and KC IHOP join in with Bridge Prayer at CTR

Craig praying for Noah & Kara

Craig praying for Noah & Kara

We were honored to host Pete from Christ Together Austin

We were honored to host Pete from Christ Together Austin

Russ & Erica from Florida in Bridge Prayer

Russ & Erica from Florida in Bridge Prayer

Noah with an autographed copy of Dr. Jackson's book

Noah with an autographed copy of Dr. Jackson's book

Pat Bailey preparing for the retreat

Pat Bailey preparing for the retreat

Andrew working to strengthen our picnic tables

Andrew working to strengthen our picnic tables

Cotitas leading Bridge Prayer

Cotitas leading Bridge Prayer

Jack & Jill

Jack & Jill

Cotitas (and John) watching a beautiful sunset

Cotitas (and John) watching a beautiful sunset

 

Singapore

Clara drew me a "map of Singapore" which I took with me on my business trip

Clara drew me a "map of Singapore" which I took with me on my business trip

God arranged it such that I could meet a Papal Nuncio!

God arranged it such that I could meet a Papal Nuncio!

Another divine appointment in Singapore

Another divine appointment in Singapore

God sent back the eagle that I saw two years ago in Singapore

God sent back the eagle that I saw two years ago in Singapore

My friend and driver, Herman

My friend and driver, Herman

Look closely at the name of the bridge ... "Elgin Bridge"!

Look closely at the name of the bridge ... "Elgin Bridge"!

Mr. Fuji at Sunset, from the plane

Mr. Fuji at Sunset, from the plane

Angel-like sun at 35,000 feet, above the Pacific

Angel-like sun at 35,000 feet, above the Pacific

Plane's shadow while landing

Plane's shadow while landing

 

February Retreat

Dr. Andrew Jackson teaching about the Eastern Church

Dr. Andrew Jackson teaching about the Eastern Church

Two powerful women of prayer

Two powerful women of prayer

John leading worship

John leading worship

Prayer during the retreat

Prayer during the retreat

Judy planting pine trees

Judy planting pine trees

Brett and a shrubbery

Brett and a shrubbery

 

March Retreat

Morning worship

Morning worship

During Pat's afternoon teaching on reconciliation, Clara got up and danced in front of her ... "pay attention to the children"!

During Pat's afternoon teaching on reconciliation, Clara got up and danced in front of her ... "pay attention to the children"!

Youth playing Apples To Apples

Youth playing Apples To Apples

A moment of solitude on the land

A moment of solitude on the land

Talking & praying with Pat around the table

Talking & praying with Pat around the table

After community dinner, the youth had fun with balloons

After community dinner, the youth had fun with balloons

A vision (?) in yellow

A vision (?) in yellow

 

Daily Life around CTR

Christ the Reconciler at dawn

Christ the Reconciler at dawn

Morning light on the Celtic cross

Morning light on the Celtic cross

Light beam

Light beam

Foggy dawn

Foggy dawn

Andrew in the prayer room

Andrew in the prayer room

Asleep under the tree during staff prayer

Asleep under the tree during staff prayer

Seek God for the City!

Seek God for the City!

A river of Cielo comes out from the bottling room

A river of Cielo comes out from the bottling room

Experimenting with balloon ping pong

Experimenting with balloon ping pong

A new stove for CTR!

A new stove for CTR!

The old stove went to the metal recycling place, along with a bunch of other scrap metal from CTR

The old stove went to the metal recycling place, along with a bunch of other scrap metal from CTR

Singing the Texas state song on March 2, during Thomas & Phillip's birthday party

Singing the Texas state song on March 2, during Thomas & Phillip's birthday party

Two stylish ladies

Two stylish ladies

Enjoying sunset from the containers

Enjoying sunset from the containers

Tori X 2

Tori X 2

Amazing light!

Amazing light!

The moon & Saturn

The moon & Saturn

Fading evening light

Fading evening light


Photo Phun

Some recent photos from CTR happenings ....

Thomas & Amy were privileged to join Fr. René, Rev. Carmen, plus Dan & Joann for a prayer service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Austin's Catholic Church.

Thomas & Amy were privileged to join Fr. René, Rev. Carmen, plus Dan & Joann for a prayer service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Austin's Catholic Church.

Thomas attended the Annual Pastor's Prayer Summit at Camp Buckner.  The theme set by the leadership was Unity ... sound familiar?  It was great connecting with new friends, and renewing long-term relationships with pastors from around Austin.  Ross Parsley of One Chapel and his team did an outstanding job leading us in an extended time of worship.

Thomas attended the Annual Pastor's Prayer Summit at Camp Buckner.  The theme set by the leadership was Unity ... sound familiar?  It was great connecting with new friends, and renewing long-term relationships with pastors from around Austin.  Ross Parsley of One Chapel and his team did an outstanding job leading us in an extended time of worship.

Spontaneous prayer-room dance during Bridge Prayer for Israel

Spontaneous prayer-room dance during Bridge Prayer for Israel

Winter sunrise at CTR

Winter sunrise at CTR

Our "frog of welcome", enjoying the sunrise.

Our "frog of welcome", enjoying the sunrise.

Prayer at the Martins, for Sr. Joela, who was speaking at Auschwitz on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its liberation by the Russian army.

Prayer at the Martins, for Sr. Joela, who was speaking at Auschwitz on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its liberation by the Russian army.

John Michael checking out a book from the CTR Library.  He and Diane had a weekend retreat at CTR, which was awesome!

John Michael checking out a book from the CTR Library.  He and Diane had a weekend retreat at CTR, which was awesome!

Michael checking out two books about the Eastern church, to help prepare for Dr. Andrew Jackson's visit on Feb. 21.

Michael checking out two books about the Eastern church, to help prepare for Dr. Andrew Jackson's visit on Feb. 21.

Children presenting artistic reflections on reconciliation, at the January retreat.

Children presenting artistic reflections on reconciliation, at the January retreat.

Our good friends at Campus House of Prayer at UT, donated this lovely dining room table to CTR.  Thank you, CHOP!

Our good friends at Campus House of Prayer at UT, donated this lovely dining room table to CTR.  Thank you, CHOP!


Foundations of Reconciliation

We had a wonderful retreat on Saturday.  

Phillip, Emma & Michael leading the community prayer time after the retreat.  (Look carefully, who is that in the kitchen?  More, Lord!)

Phillip, Emma & Michael leading the community prayer time after the retreat.  (Look carefully, who is that in the kitchen?  More, Lord!)

I only took that one picture, because (a) I was speaking, and (b) I wasn't feeling very well.  But in the absence of photos, enjoy the recordings of the teachings!  These two teachings are the first two in a series Foundations of Reconciliation, which I feel is absolutely critical in our understanding of our calling.

We don't have video of Amy's talk (yet), but we do of mine ... which is helpful because unlike Amy I used some powerpoint slides.

Or, if you prefer just the audio, here you go:

Abundant Life at CTR

I've had a hard time keeping up this blog up, with all the life that happens here at Christ the Reconciler.  So this blog will have lots of pictures, from the last month (plus a little) ... enjoy!

Bridge Prayer - what happens here changes the world!

Bridge Prayer - what happens here changes the world!

My mom's sister Dori and her husband Wright came in from Charlottesville, VA to stay at Christ the Reconciler for several days

My mom's sister Dori and her husband Wright came in from Charlottesville, VA to stay at Christ the Reconciler for several days

Wright & Dori led us in a night of prayer for China

Wright & Dori led us in a night of prayer for China

Wright & the land

Wright & the land

Dori cooking fish chinese style ... yum!

Dori cooking fish chinese style ... yum!

Geri cutting sweet potatoes in preparation for Thanksgiving

Geri cutting sweet potatoes in preparation for Thanksgiving

Peggy prepares a perfect pie

Peggy prepares a perfect pie

Our friend Mark invited two young Chinese students to join us for Thanksgiving dinner ... here we are introducing them to the game Pit

Our friend Mark invited two young Chinese students to join us for Thanksgiving dinner ... here we are introducing them to the game Pit

Nightly advent prayer was a joy!

Nightly advent prayer was a joy!

We have trained our cat to blow out the advent candles (just kidding)

We have trained our cat to blow out the advent candles (just kidding)

Speaking of cats ... Sam received a kitten for Christmas!  He named it as suggested by Steve Hawthorne earlier in the day:  "Magnificat"

Speaking of cats ... Sam received a kitten for Christmas!  He named it as suggested by Steve Hawthorne earlier in the day:  "Magnificat"

Praying for Sam on his birthday

Praying for Sam on his birthday

Sam's birthday ping-pong tournament

Sam's birthday ping-pong tournament

We love it when the prayer room is crowded!

We love it when the prayer room is crowded!

Siblings

Siblings

Young aunt & uncle

Young aunt & uncle

Christmas dinner #1, with lots of family!

Christmas dinner #1, with lots of family!

Grannie Annie playing Apples-to-Apples

Grannie Annie playing Apples-to-Apples

The Cogdell tradition of sleeping under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve

The Cogdell tradition of sleeping under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve

Spinning in a Christmas dress

Spinning in a Christmas dress

Another Cogdell tradition is the treasure hunt, where clues are left around the house that eventually lead to a present.  Playing in Christ the Reconciler was fun because there were so many great places to hide clues!

Another Cogdell tradition is the treasure hunt, where clues are left around the house that eventually lead to a present.  Playing in Christ the Reconciler was fun because there were so many great places to hide clues!

Of course, with all the presents, it's still the box that gets played with most!

Of course, with all the presents, it's still the box that gets played with most!

Christmas dawn

Christmas dawn

Dawn light through a frosty window

Dawn light through a frosty window

Light on an ornament

Light on an ornament

Wise men, lit up

Wise men, lit up

Jack on the rock wall in evening light

Jack on the rock wall in evening light

The three archerketeers

The three archerketeers

Sunset reflection

Sunset reflection

Clara is enjoying playing the drums during Bridge Prayer

Clara is enjoying playing the drums during Bridge Prayer

Bridge Prayer with John leading worship

Bridge Prayer with John leading worship

Another 16th birthday party at Christ the Reconciler!

Another 16th birthday party at Christ the Reconciler!

Sweet 16

Sweet 16

Praying for the birthday girl

Praying for the birthday girl

We had our hay cut and baled, much to the delight of the kids!

We had our hay cut and baled, much to the delight of the kids!

The league of powerful women of God!

The league of powerful women of God!

Jason flew in from Phoenix for a multi-day retreat at CTR.  One special day was when we got to pray with him during staff prayer.

Jason flew in from Phoenix for a multi-day retreat at CTR.  One special day was when we got to pray with him during staff prayer.

Whew!  If you made it this far ... pray with us for God's glory to be magnified at Christ the Reconciler!

Renewed Life

Before I get to the main part of this blog entry ... two fun new ways for visiting children to play were added to CTR during Christmas.

Swings for the young children!

Swings for the young children!

Ping-pong for the teens!

Ping-pong for the teens!

We hope that these continue to make CTR a spiritual home for children, as well as their parents.  It is important to have places for them (and us) to pray, as well as play :-)

When I was a boy, I mostly played with my younger sister Christina.  I remember close fought tennis matches at Bailey Park ... and also laughing until it hurt with her.  She now lives in Davis, California, but visited us last week.  On Christmas Eve, before driving her to the airport, we went to Bastrop State Park.  The park was ravaged by a massive, incredibly damaging fire in 2012.  Since the primary attraction had been its pine forests, I wasn't sure whether it would be a wasted visit.  It wasn't.  There was new life springing up in the burned out wasteland of the former park, and it was beautiful!  I took lots of pictures ...

The road into Bastrop State Park

The road into Bastrop State Park

Hilltop panorama

Hilltop panorama

New life springing forth

New life springing forth

4 "vert-o-ramas"

4 "vert-o-ramas"

Group picture

Group picture

The hikers

The hikers

Cuteness #1

Cuteness #1

Cuteness #2

Cuteness #2

Me & my sister at the airport

Me & my sister at the airport



Advent Retreat - Ora Et Labora ... et St. Nick!

Prayer & Work was the theme of AHOP's Advent Retreat, held at Christ the Reconciler last Saturday.  If you were not there and thus missed Amy's brilliant teaching ...

... you can still read her subsequent blog entry, and enjoy seeing some pictures of the activities.  Enjoy!

Prayer (the "Ora" part)

Prayer walking on the land

Prayer walking on the land

Examination of Conscience

Examination of Conscience

Prayer for Maricela

Prayer for Maricela

And all the various "Laboras" ... starting with Kids Painting Christmas Wrapping Paper!

Journal Making

Jewelry Making

Crocheting

Candle Making

And a very special visit from St. Nicholas!

St. Nick tells his story

St. Nick tells his story

A blessing from St. Nicholas

A blessing from St. Nicholas

Michael, Joelene & Meridian receive a blessing

Michael, Joelene & Meridian receive a blessing

And ... St. Nicholas had bags of gold coins for every child!

And ... St. Nicholas had bags of gold coins for every child!

The Great Tree

Since we laid eyes on the Great Room at CTR, we've been looking forward to cutting the Great Tree at the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm.  It happened yesterday.  I'm taking the opportunity to stroll down Christmas Tree Memory Lane ...

1988 - Zilker Park Tree

1988 - Zilker Park Tree

1990 - Newlyweds in Santa Fe

1990 - Newlyweds in Santa Fe

1998 - Sleeping under the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve

1998 - Sleeping under the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve

2001 - First visit to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm

2001 - First visit to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm

2001 - Good friends and a big tree on Canterbury Street

2001 - Good friends and a big tree on Canterbury Street

2007 - the famous (and spontaneous) Gourd Tree

2007 - the famous (and spontaneous) Gourd Tree

2011 - It was cold this year!

2011 - It was cold this year!

2011 - John Patrick ready to cut

2011 - John Patrick ready to cut

2012 - Noah hoists the chosen tree

2012 - Noah hoists the chosen tree

And we've reached 2014 ...

2014 tree 4 - bound and trussed.jpg

And to see it decorated ... come and visit!

Park Pics

The day before Thanksgiving, my son's friend Elisha was over so we visited one of Elgin's fine parks.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.

The boys went slacklining.

I enjoyed experimenting with time-lapse panoramas on my iPhone.

And of course we had our Cielo with us!

Thirst quencher

Thirst quencher

Cielo playground

Cielo playground

Cielo water tower

Cielo water tower

We have much to be thankful to the Lord for.  Good friends, good place to live, good water, and good hard fun ...

Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

Sodastream & Marianna

We have a new blessing at Christ the Reconciler ... a Sodastream!

Why do we have a Sodastream?  (Besides it being another nice amenity for our guests?) Well, because Marianna came to visit!  Last time I saw Marianna, in June, I described Christ the Reconciler to her, and she said, "Oh, you need a Sodastream ... it's an Israeli product, you know?"  Well, I didn't know that, but the day before Marianna arrived in Elgin, I purchased one to honor her and support Israel.  I must admit I was not prepared for the wow factor of carbonation, check it out:

Carbonated Cielo is really good.  Adding syrup is fun, too:

Marianna's visit was wonderful.  Her teaching on Israel (click here to download or listen) was very helpful for our community.  And she's just filled with the joy of the Lord ... my children love being around her!  

It was very special to have her bless her own room at CTR:

Here are some other pictures from her visit.

Marianna introduced us to the concept of a Friday night Shabbat celebration

Marianna introduced us to the concept of a Friday night Shabbat celebration

Friday night dinner, before Marianna spoke about "Israel the Widow"

Friday night dinner, before Marianna spoke about "Israel the Widow"

Marianna is a very good cook, and blessed us with a wonderful meal on Saturday night

Marianna is a very good cook, and blessed us with a wonderful meal on Saturday night

Parents and children gather for Open Table with Marianna

Parents and children gather for Open Table with Marianna

Snacks for the trip home ... courtesy of Buc-ees!

Snacks for the trip home ... courtesy of Buc-ees!

Pastoral Blessing

I've been wanting to write about this for some time, but haven't been able until now.  One of the true highlights of this year was the Pastoral Blessing for Christ the Reconciler.  On the 18th of September, a wonderful group gathered and prayed for God's blessing to rest and remain on Christ the Reconciler.

It was appropriate, and very honoring, to have pastors from various streams of the Body of Christ join together for this blessing:

From left:  Candy & David Mills, Family Worship Center; Dan Davis, Pastors in Covenant; Jerry Edmon, Family Worship Center; Kay & Brett Hart, Hope Chapel; Fr. René Constanza, CSP, St. Austin's; Matt Ryniker, Hope Chapel.  Not pictured:  Joann Davis, who as usual was off praying with somebody!

From left:  Candy & David Mills, Family Worship Center; Dan Davis, Pastors in Covenant; Jerry Edmon, Family Worship Center; Kay & Brett Hart, Hope Chapel; Fr. René Constanza, CSP, St. Austin's; Matt Ryniker, Hope Chapel.  Not pictured:  Joann Davis, who as usual was off praying with somebody!

Fr. René chose a wonderful liturgy from the Catholic Book of Blessings, which was a blessing for the founding of a new monastic house.  We were touched that this is what he chose, and amazed that the scriptural readings were ones that we have been praying into for years at Austin House of Prayer!

After the service was over, the heavens opened and rain poured down - about 3 inches in an hour or so!  This was a beautiful blessing, but also made navigating out of the parking places a little tricky.  Thankfully, Joe Bland's amazing driveway held up admirably in the downpour, and everyone was able to get home.

Open House

We were so blessed during the Open House.  We prayed for God to bring exactly whom He wanted, and for each one to touch and experience His love and peace.  Well, God was faithful to answer those prayers.  We made new friends, spent time with long-time friends, and prayed with each one.  We saw Christ the Reconciler used as a place of retreat, a place of refuge, and a place of reconciliation - all during Open House!

First, the ribbon cutting!

And here are a few pictures that help to communicate the Open House experience.

A wonderful welcome for each guest

A wonderful welcome for each guest

Please sign the guest book

Please sign the guest book

Rob, Sue and Terry from the Elgin Crisis Pregnancy Care Center

Rob, Sue and Terry from the Elgin Crisis Pregnancy Care Center

The amazing Mills Tribe

The amazing Mills Tribe

3 generations of powerful women

3 generations of powerful women

John Patrick leading Bridge Prayer

John Patrick leading Bridge Prayer

Yummmmmmm ...

Yummmmmmm ...

Really yummmmmmmmm ...

Really yummmmmmmmm ...

And ahhhhhhhh ...

And ahhhhhhhh ...

Phillip explaining the virtues of Cielo water

Phillip explaining the virtues of Cielo water

Each guest was a privilege ... in this case Caroline's father Royce and his wife Carol

Each guest was a privilege ... in this case Caroline's father Royce and his wife Carol

Conversation in the Library

Conversation in the Library

Well, we did pray for each guest to feel God's peace!

Well, we did pray for each guest to feel God's peace!

And the sun goes down on an Open House

And the sun goes down on an Open House

We owe so many thanks to our community who have been working for months to prepare for this day.  Also to the Carters (Jeff at Prosperity Bank with his great set of co-workers, and Gena - with Peggy of course - at the Elgin Chamber of Commerce).  And Joe Bland.  And George & Hanna Miley.  And the list goes on and on ... beginning and ending with God our Father who cares for us so well.

Newsletter Pictures

Here are larger versions of the pictures in the newsletter, with some captions as well.  Enjoy!

(if you're a regular reader of this blog, you've seen almost all of these pictures appear in earlier posts ... enjoy again!)

The Great Room & Dining Room.

The Great Room & Dining Room.

Dining Room with Jim Janknengt's Bread of Life mural

Dining Room with Jim Janknengt's Bread of Life mural

Queen bed in the George & Hanna Miley Suite

Queen bed in the George & Hanna Miley Suite

Young worshippers in the prayer room

Young worshippers in the prayer room

Prayer meeting for young workers in God's harvest field

Prayer meeting for young workers in God's harvest field

Linda, our first official guest at Christ the Reconciler!

Linda, our first official guest at Christ the Reconciler!

Patrick on the Cielo containers, next to the intern's bus

Patrick on the Cielo containers, next to the intern's bus

The new AHOP intern preparing to bake communion bread for her family's church

The new AHOP intern preparing to bake communion bread for her family's church

AHOP staff prayer time

AHOP staff prayer time

The day we got the key as new owners and arrived to unlock the gate for the first time, a beam of light appeared from the sky right over the house.  Coincidence?  I think not ... :-)

The day we got the key as new owners and arrived to unlock the gate for the first time, a beam of light appeared from the sky right over the house.  Coincidence?  I think not ... :-)

The day we packed our stuff up and left Austin to live in Elgin, when we arrived at Christ the Reconciler the sun was lighting up this dramatic cloud in the east.  Coincidence?  I think not ... :-)

The day we packed our stuff up and left Austin to live in Elgin, when we arrived at Christ the Reconciler the sun was lighting up this dramatic cloud in the east.  Coincidence?  I think not ... :-)

No amazing timing "coincidences" here ... just an amazing sunset with a half-super-moon. This picture is taken from the top of the containers, where we want to build a deck so that all visitors can have such a splendid view of the sunsets.

No amazing timing "coincidences" here ... just an amazing sunset with a half-super-moon. This picture is taken from the top of the containers, where we want to build a deck so that all visitors can have such a splendid view of the sunsets.


First Visitors

Even as the unpacking and arranging of furniture is happening, the ministry of Christ the Reconciler is beginning!  Praise the Lord!

Linda F, from Tyler - our official (and wonderful) first guest!  She brought us a lovely cross, which we put up at the entrance to the prayer room.

Linda F, from Tyler - our official (and wonderful) first guest!  She brought us a lovely cross, which we put up at the entrance to the prayer room.

The first family to visit was the amazing Geraci clan! 

The first family to visit was the amazing Geraci clan! 

We were happy that, though the Geraci children were nervous about coming, they made themselves at home and didn't want to leave at the end of the evening!  In fact, at one point the 11-year-olds snuck away and we found them worshipping together in the prayer room ... awesome!

We were happy that, though the Geraci children were nervous about coming, they made themselves at home and didn't want to leave at the end of the evening!  In fact, at one point the 11-year-olds snuck away and we found them worshipping together in the prayer room ... awesome!

Visitors from Hope Chapel in Austin, gathering for an evening of prayer for my son Noah & his wife Kara

Visitors from Hope Chapel in Austin, gathering for an evening of prayer for my son Noah & his wife Kara

Sunset over Christ the Reconciler

I took this panorama with my iPhone from the top of Cielo's containers ... where we hope to build a sunset-watching deck soon!

Sunset with a (half) super moon

Sunset with a (half) super moon

And here's the moon over CTR from the previous evening ... it's starting to look like a welcoming home.

Moon over Christ the Reconciler

Moon over Christ the Reconciler