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This spring has been an active season for tornadoes in Iowa and throughout the U.S. (2008 could be record breaking).  We had an EF5 tornado level Parkersburg, IA (see ATM video of the tornado ripping apart a house).  Attica, IA was hit as well.

Last night we had tornadoes to the south of us.  This is something that we are used to in Iowa.  We get tornadoes pretty frequently, but not as much as say Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas though.

I was watching the Weather Channel this morning, and they were saying… we haven’t seen a weather model setup like this since 1974 – which that day had, if I am remembering this correctly, 39 tornadoes.  Eating a late lunch I found this blog post that said “Historic tornado outbreak expected today!”  Take a look at this map below.

Actually on the Weather Channel that “high risk circle encompasses more of Iowa, but regardless, Des Moines is in the high risk area.  Reed Timmer of Tornadovideos.net said on his blog today:

A 60-80 knot low-level jet, 3000+ J/kg CAPE across the entire warm sector, and 40 knots of wind shear in the lowest kilometer will create a perfect environment for strong, long-track tornadoes from southern MN south to Northwest Texas.  The hodographs look absolutely perfect, rivaling May 4, 8, 2003, when significant tornado outbreaks struck the Great Plains.  Not surprisingly, the SPC has issued a high risk across the entire warm sector from MN south to KS, and will likely be extended southward from there.  This is a very dangerous situation for the residents within the risk area outlined below (above).  If you are a resident of this area, stay tuned to local media for watches and warnings.

Oh happy day!  I’ll keep my camcorder handy.  I always thought it would be cool to do some storm tracking.  I’ve never seen a tornado in person… I saw a weak waterspout on Biscayne Bay when I lived in Miami, FL.  It’ll be interesting to see what comes to pass, and prayerfully we’ll avoid any loss of life and property today.

In you have never seen a tornado in action before, here is a video shot on May 4, 2007 (some offensive language… so beware).  These guys were crazy chasing this tornado in Ellis County, OK.  At one point they were only 50 yards away.

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I know everybody has pet peeves, but I have to say that fast food restaurants tend to push my buttons.  Case in point… Cheryl got home from work and watched the American Idol finale (which she is very happy that David Cook won).  She didn’t have dinner yet so she asked me to run to Subway.  The closest one for us is on E. University Ave in Des Moines… probably about four miles from our house.  The stated closing time on a Tuesday night is 10:00pm.  I get there at 9:51pm.  I’m sure that customers like me are one of their pet peeves, but that is beside the point.  I had a whole nine minutes before closing time, and they were CLOSED – doors locked, but the lights were on inside.

I knock on their door because I see them in there with someone who is clearly NOT a Subway employee.  One of the employees opens the door, and I show him my cell phone with the time, and I say, “what gives?” 

“The manager called and said to close at nine,” he says.

I am thinking… “you guys are still here?”  So I think a call to the manager is probably in order for tomorrow if I think of it.  In my mind there is nothing that screams out “we don’t really want your business” more than stores that don’t stick to their advertised hours.

Plan B – go to Burger King.  I called Cheryl to find out what she wanted, and I decide to get a BK Veggie Burger… got to watch the boyish figure.  BK Veggie Burgers come with mayo, ketchup, lettuce and tomato already on it.  I don’t work there, never have, but yet I know this.  I order it – “hold the mayo (because what would be the point then?), add pickles and add onions.”

I get home and pull it out… no tomato… ugh.  Moral of the story?  Eat at home!

So what are your pet peeves?  You can also share your fast food horror story here.  Please feel free to rant, let it out.  May this blog post be therapeutic.

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Last week had been a rough week for us.  The week before brought us some challenges, but in light of the news we received last Monday it was minor.  Cheryl’s aunt & uncle were in a car accident in northern Minnesota, they hit some ice, went off the road, rolled the car into a creek.  Cheryl’s uncle drowned.  Cheryl’s aunt was taken to Duluth and is currently recovering in an ICU.  So if you would please pray for Cheryl’s aunt Carol for healing and for comfort.  Pray for their children, grandchildren, and families.

We can rejoice that Cheryl’s uncle is now in the presence of Jesus after living a full 71-years.

This week started off well, I had the Sunday off from preaching (so no podcast this week).  I had the privilege of baptizing my youngest daughter, Lily at Valley Church.  She placed her faith and trust in Jesus when she was five, but chose to be baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized.

Cheryl and I chose this verse to share at her baptism.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, (Proverbs 31:30, ESV).

Our prayer is that both of our daughters would grow in their walk with Christ and that their inner beauty because of their devotion to Christ would be far more attractive than their outer beauty.  Below is the video of Lily’s baptism.

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I’m at a retreat for youth pastors at Hidden Acres Christian Camp and we’ve been discussing spiritual growth for leaders with Larry Austin, who is currently the pastor of missional discipleship at First Evangelical Free Church in Ames, IA.  In particular we talked about silence and listening prayer tonight.  How often do we just quiet ourselves before the Lord so we can hear His voice?  I’m afraid I don’t do that very often.  I have noise all around me… and if it isn’t external, then it is internal.  Ticking off my to do list, thinking about a recent conversation I’ve had, a problem I have to solve, or even a disagreement I’ve had with my wife.

But we do need to slow down, we do need to listen.  We had a chance to put it into practice tonight, and I admit it was very hard to do even for an hour.  But I do intend on practicing this discipline on a regular basis.  I need to.

Consider the following Psalm.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress, (Psalm 46:1-11, ESV).

Even when our world seems to be collapsing around us.  Even when we are going through trials.  God is our refuge!  He is our strength!  He wants us to rest in Him and just… shut up (my kids are now horrified as they get in trouble when they say this).  He wants us to know Him, but sometimes we are just too busy to do just that.

Is it hard for you to slow down and be silent?  Is this a discipline that you regularly practice?  Am I the only one who struggles with this?

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I have learned in my walk with Christ that the Christian life is not pain-free.  There will be obstacles, pain, loss, and suffering.  Sometimes it is suffering for righteousness’ sake, (Matthew 5:10).  Other times it could be part of just living in a broken, decaying world.  Other times for followers of Christ it could be an attack of our ancient enemy, Satan who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV).  My main point is this… God never promises us, on this earth, to be healthy & wealthy.  He does promise suffering, hardship and trials however.

The Vander Hart clan had a doozy of a day (I had better be careful since it isn’t over yet as I write this).  I don’t know how to qualify this.  I can say we are not suffering persecution, but I don’t know if what we face today is natural or supernatural.  It doesn’t really matter though because our response will be the same.

It started last night when Cheryl suddenly fell ill.  She felt dizzy and nauseous.  It was so bad that she couldn’t walk, so her supervisor drove her home.  When she got home she threw up which is something she never does.  We prayed and sent out a prayer update to some friends on Facebook, and she later that night started to feel better.  Enough so that I felt comfortable leaving to go to my Bible study at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center.  Later than night after I got back she still didn’t feel quite herself.

In the morning we had an answer to prayer, she was able to get an appointment today with her ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor.  He goes to our church and he did sinus surgery on Cheryl a couple of years ago.  Great guy… Dr. Marshall Grieman – if you ever need an ENT and you live in the Des Moines area.  Anyway they had a cancellation so they were able to squeeze her in.  We were thankful that she didn’t have to wait.

Cheryl felt well enough today that she ran some errands with the kids.  She calls me around lunch time to say – “the door fell off the van.”  After repeating that since I didn’t think I heard her correctly.  I left to go meet them at Burger King where they had stopped to get some lunch.

Just some background, the van is a 2000 Ford Windstar.  Do you know what FORD stands for?

Fix

Or

Repair

Daily

But I digress.  Anyway, I have images of getting there and finding the side door lying in the parking lot.  Fortunately one cable was keeping it from falling.  After determining that the van was likely not safe to drive even the 3-4 miles to our mechanic we called a tow truck.  You know I’m beginning to realize after this year that our decision to spend a little extra on towing insurance was well worth it.

I got a call from my mechanic later, they got the door back on, but we can’t use it anymore.  The track is too worn, and it can’t be fixed.  Nice.  At least we have two side doors – oh wait!  The other door won’t open… so now we have to get that fixed.

Back to my wife, she was feeling dizzy again and car rides were making her nauseous so I drove her to her doctor’s appointment.  We thought perhaps she had an ear infection or possibly some fluid behind her ear drum.  It turns out that she has Meniere’s Disease.

Meniere’s Disease (MD or endolymphatic hydrops) is a disorder of the inner ear associated with a change in the volume of fluid inside a portion of the inner ear called the labyrinth, which includes the membranous labyrinth and the bony labryinth.

When the head moves, endolymph fluid in the membranous labyrinth shifts, telling nerve receptors to signal the brain about the body’s motion. If the amount of endolymph increases, doctors believe, the membranous labyrinth can balloon or dilate. If it then ruptures, endolymph fluid can mix with perilymph fluid in the bony labyrinth, causing Meniere’s symptoms. The underlying cause of Meniere’s is still unknown, though many hypotheses have been advanced.

Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, unsteadiness, a sense of fullness in the ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), headache, abdominal discomfort and hearing loss, which can increase if the disease progresses. These symptoms occur in three stages of severity, as the disease advances, and can happen with varying frequency, duration and intensity. Usually, attacks are sudden and may last several hours. The very first episode may last longer than 24 hours, but subsequent episodes do not. While children can get MD, it most commonly affects men and women between 20 and 50.

Basically there is no cure.  There is treatment for it though:

Treatment focuses on managing vertigo, reducing the frequency of Meniere’s attacks and, primarily, preserving hearing. Eliminating alcohol, coffee and salt may help make attacks less frequent and eliminating tobacco and stress may make them less severe. Medication can reduce symptoms, and several surgical options are also available.

But really they don’t know why it happens.  Dr. Grieman ended up giving her a prescription that will basically knock her out if it gets really bad.  He said it usually takes a week to feel 100%, and it comes on without warning – which makes us concerned about driving, etc.

This may not seem like it is bad to you, but this is on top of Cheryl having palindromic rheumatism, hypothyroidism, and other illnesses.  We like to kid and say, “Doctors love her because she is like seven patients in one.”

So in life we get curveballs thrown at us.  How are we handling this?  Prayer.  What else can we do?  Nothing.  We can rely upon Jesus who is in control of this situation.  We’ll lean on Him and remember that this earth, and its trials, are nothing but a blip in light of eternity.  Also we will remember that Jesus can use these curveballs in our life to develop us to be more and more like Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, (1 Peter 1:3-8, ESV).

We would certainly appreciate any prayer on our behalf.  Thanks!

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Last Sunday I was invited to speak in between a couple of bands for RockFest, a Christian music event in Pella, IA.  I was there to represent my ministry, Serve Our Youth Network.  I thought I’d share the video with you since I had a friend there who recorded it for me.

I have to say, this has to be one of the most distracting venues for speaking with people moving around behind you and people getting up and walking around, but there were a few who stayed put to listen.

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If you are a regular reader of this blog you likely have noticed some layout changes to this blog.  With Mike Huckabee leaving the race I needed to take some of that information down… so I felt it was a good time to change the look.  Clean it up a bit.  I also wanted a theme that gave my trackback address by the comment form if people wanted to send trackbacks.

You may notice that the blogroll to the side is much shorter.  I made a decision a couple of days ago  to only have blogs who reciprocate links highlighted there.  All of the other blogs that I like and read I’ve created a blogroll page for.  Reciprocal linking blogs are also listed there… so you get listed twice, how cool is that?

I made this decision for a couple reasons – my sidebar blogroll was starting to get pretty long.  Also, I think reciprocating links is a matter of blogging courtesy whether it is done on a sidebar blogroll or on a created page for links.

Also regarding linking to blogs, I do try to reciprocate, but there is some criteria I use for my blogroll either to the side or on the page (this is subject to change).

  • I don’t link to blogs about blogging and driving traffic to your blog.
  • I don’t link to blogs that about wealth development, starting an at-home business, etc.
  • I will not link to blogs with pornography or other explicit content.
  • I think the blog is interesting and will read it.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a daily read, but I am not going to throw links to blogs that I wouldn’t want to read myself.

Anyway, for the few of you who may be interested in that… there you go.  If you read this blog and want to exchange links just leave a comment.

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