Tag Archives: Restoration

Backyard Hidden Treasure

Backyard Hidden Treasure

Since we bought our first house about seven years ago, we’ve been getting to know the ins and outs of what makes our house and our property unique. At some point, we borrowed a metal detector from a family member and had fun wandering around our yard with various boops, beeps and low ding sounds.

If you’ve never played with a metal detector, I highly recommend it!

(Also if you’ve never seen the show “The Curse of Oak Island,” watch it first and you’ll be super motivated to go on your own treasure hunt around your yard. I hate to get you hooked, but season nine is kicking off now on the History Channel.)

So after watching these real-life treasure hunters wander around an island and discovering 400 year old treasures with their metal detectors, we were excited to explore our back yard.

What we learned:  we think our back yard used to be someone’s burn pile. Not so romantic. Deep down below the surface, we’ve discovered lots of nails, old toy guns, tin cans, bottles, bottle caps, broken pipes. And ash. Lots of ash.

But the most beautiful discovery was an old china set—a teacup and saucer. They both suffered damage from the flames of a fire, but incredibly, I was able to scrub them down and superglue them back together until they looked restored.

Next, I headed online to see what treasure I had discovered! Perhaps they were super old and worth something! Perhaps part of a long lost set or some royal collection!

But—no. Just cheap china from the 1960s. There was a reason they got thrown out. No monetary value, no sentimental value—just someone’s trash. They were probably buried just a few years before our house was built.

I took a picture of my little restored china and later deleted it. And after a few years of sitting in my cupboard, I threw the cup and saucer away. I discovered it had neither monetary value nor sentimental value to me.

God’s work of restoration could not be further from my backyard discovery.

He doesn’t need to search for us—He knows exactly where we are.

While we may feel buried and lost and forgotten and disregarded, His value for us is one exponentially greater than money or sentiment—He is our Creator! He formed us in our mother’s wombs and knew exactly who we would be and are, even before time began.

He does not hide us away. And while it may seem we are covered and ash and dirty and broken, His Word says in Isaiah 61:3 that He, “bestows on [us] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair… a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Did you catch that last part??? Even after He fixes us and makes us beautiful, He plants us to display His splendor! Not like me and my restored china that I hid away in the cabinet until throwing it — He displays us, His restored people, to His own splendor.

It’s kind of like that old saying—if God had a refrigerator, He’d have your picture on it.  But more like ‘if God had a china cupboard, He wouldn’t just have you stored on the shelf inside collecting dust—He’d have you in the most prominent place in the middle of His banquet table on top of a beautiful place setting, all cleaned and shined and ready to be adored over by all in attendance.

God’s restoration is for. His. Splendor. And He takes great delight in restoring His people.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media


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    Personal Restoration

    Personal Restoration

    In June of 2018, our oldest son and our entire family fell hard and fast into deep pain, fear, and sadness. A beautiful young life was lost, and so many lives changed forever. If I could create a picture, I was Humpty Dumpty scattered into millions of fragments. I wanted my old life, my old self back. I wanted this for my entire family, especially for our oldest son. How could I go on with this brokenness and why couldn’t God hear me crying out to him to fix this situation for him and my family?

    Every morning I walk around my town’s perimeter. I’ve walked this path for so many years rarely missing a day. On September 18th, 2018 it was a beautiful sunrise, early fall temps and my music was playing in my ears. However, I couldn’t see or feel any of this. I was lost in my thoughts about how I wanted my old life back. Why was God putting this in my path? What had we done so wrong that my family must suffer so? As I walked along the far side of town, I happened to look over, and I saw something I hadn’t seen before. A cross, tucked back behind the Cowboy Church, nestled into some evergreen trees. I was drawn over to the cross and as I came straight on to the cross, I saw the most spectacular sunrise and painted sky. In that moment, I truly felt Jesus Christ was there telling me, I am with you, I have never left you. I heard Jeremiah 29:11 in my head “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” and I cried. Not the tears of despair I had cried so many other times but the tears of relief that I finally understood that Jesus was my restoration and the light out of this darkness. That life would be restored, was being restored, and that I needed to let go of my version of restoration and let my life be led by Christ because it would be better than it was before. I began to pray differently. His will, His way, His timing, not mine became part of my daily walk and talk at the cross.

    So unlike Humpty Dumpty, I started to come back together that day piece by piece. Slowly but surely but in a new way. Letting Christ lead me down a new path as he did in September 2018 helping me to pick up pieces of myself along the journey. One of the ways in which I have been restored is through attending the Saturate Group and connecting with members of a newly formed small group my husband and I attend on Sunday evenings. I’ve been able to tell my story, as authentic as I have ever been, sharing that l still have cracks and wounds as we all do, and I have support in putting the pieces back together. Through our small group’s acceptance, prayer and sharing of their own personal stories of faith, I recently acknowledge for the first time in a social media forum that I have a child in prison. It was on the second anniversary of his incarceration, and it was important for me to share how much he is loved and missed by his family and what great hopes we have for his return home. It has also given me the strength to connect with others who are navigating the challenges of incarceration and reentry by sharing how Jesus has impacted this journey for me and my family. I have also felt called to reach out to a non-profit organization focused on helping inmates reenter society after incarceration called Inside Out Reentry of Johnson County.

    I’ve always loved the saying “we are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” I think in my case the light of God gets in and part of my personal restoration is to make sure that the light also shines out to others from those cracks and holes that make me real. That is what small group does for me as well as my daily trip and stop at this cross where I know Jesus is always waiting to restore me.

    Beth Brown
    Part of the Cedar Hills Community Church Family

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      A Story of Restoration

      A Story of Restoration

      Steve’s sermon last Sunday really got to me. I can’t stop wondering about a question he raised. What if we are the innkeeper, and what if Jesus keeps bringing us hurting people, and what if Jesus supplies us with everything we need to restore the hurting? Think about that as you read this story of restoration from Luke 10:27-37:

      Just then a man stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

      Jesus answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

      He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

      “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you will live.”

      Looking for a loophole, the man asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

      Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.”

      “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’”

      “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

      “The one who treated him kindly,” the man responded.

      Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

      Kent Landhuis
      Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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        As I reflect on restoration I am once again drawn to share about our latest house project. Cathy and I recently refinished some of the wood floors in our house. When we wrapped that project up we decided the stairs looked like finished hardwood under the carpet so we decided to rip it up. As Cathy peeled off the carpet, we found out two things; first, that they use a LOT of staples to attach the carpet and second, two of our steps didn’t match the original wood. Wow! What we thought might be a simple refinish project just became much more challenging. I think this is like the Christian life. As God peels back the layers of sin in our lives we find the restoration project is much more difficult than anticipated. God peels back our superficial sins and we find underlying selfishness and self-centeredness that was hidden under those surface level sins. Personally, the more closely I follow God, the more time I spend in His Word and prayer, the more I become aware that like these steps I have real problems. I have a flesh deeply corrupted by sin. God’s restoration process has begun, but will not reach completion until one day I receive a new body, one that is not corrupted by sin. Paul describes God’s restoration project of us this way in Romans 6:4-5: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

        Our hope for complete restoration lies IN our hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is in the power of His death and resurrection. This is why our Apostles’ Creed ends with more than the forgiveness of sins. It also includes resurrection and eternal life!

        I believe in…

        “the communion of saints,

        the forgiveness of sins,

        the resurrection of the body,

        and the life everlasting. Amen.”

        Steve Poole
        Director of Youth & Young Adults

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          Sock Dilemmas (Again)

          Sock Dilemmas (Again)

          I don’t know why socks are such a big thing at our house. They are literally EVERYWHERE like… all the time. I think my family walks in and slowly sheds a sock as they pass through the door, through the kitchen, down a hallway and into the living room. The simple trek is lined with dirty socks. Socks that have gotten wet, socks that stink, socks that have gotten dragged through the yard, socks that made someone’s feet too hot in the heat. I think they get shed for all sorts of reasons.

          And their match is always missing. Does your household have a place for socks that have lost their match? I have a small bin on the folding table in my laundry area where socks go to hopefully one day be reunited with their match. Some socks have been in this bin for *shudder* years. But I leave them in there with the high hopes that some day, some how their match might appear. (Of course, as soon as I throw one away, the match always does appear!)

          But oh that day! Oh that celebration! Oh that moment when a long-lost sockie appears and finds its match! It melts my heart in a deep move of satisfaction and enjoyment. I smile, I jump for joy, and happily fold the two socks together and return them to their rightful owner. Safe, secure, and happy.

          If I can find such silly but real enjoyment in a lost sock restored to its partner, imagine the even greater joy, the unsurpassed life-changed-forever-and-eternal joy that God feels when one of his lost children finds HIM and is restored to HIM.

          His pursuit of us has always been about a restored relationship that we were MADE for. We weren’t created to be separate from Him, but were created for eternal fellowship with a real God, a real Abba Father—a relationship unlike any other. Without Him, we are just a lost sock in a bin, completely missing our true and created purpose.

          And the beautiful thing? It is He who is searching out us, waiting and anticipating that beautiful moment of restored joy.

          Leah Carolan
          Director of Worship & Media


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            The Return of the Visitors

            The Return  of the Visitors

            In the fall of 2019 a new couple walked through the church doors. They had kids about the same age as mine and I invited them to the Parenting Together class. It felt like a connection had been made. They seemed to recognize that connection was important to one’s faith. They never came to class but they did come back for a few weeks. Then, we never saw them again.

            Situations like these make me wonder if there was something we could have done differently as a church body. My article from last month’s newsletter on shouldering ministry failures flows from these types of encounters.

            Fast forward to earlier this year. This family walked through the door, again. Again, several people invited them to Parenting Together and they started coming and chose to dive into relationship with those in class. I was blown away by this change in behavior.

            Currently, they are in the Saturate Leadership class where

            they are doing life together with others in our church body. This Saturate class teaches how to live out life (eating, celebrating, resting, and blessing) with others while doing ministry all along.

            My husband and I have the privilege of getting to know this couple. And our kids are thrilled to have new friends to play with. We are continuing on our sanctification journey alongside this family, as we try to live out our faith in this world.

            God knows the big picture and He is restoring all things.

            Lindsey Ungs
            Connection & Communication Architect

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              Celebrate Beauty

              Celebrate Beauty

              Last week Mary showed me a video of the singer Nightbirde. The singer told about her recent struggles with cancer and then she shared an original song, “It’s Okay,” about her experience. As I watched her sing, tears welled up in me. Her beautiful voice and authentic performance struck a chord. It was beautiful.

              This is not the first time I’ve cried while enjoying a performance, or reading a book, or watching a movie. (Or a commercial.) I used to think that my tears were in response to sadness. But I’m starting to wonder if they are more likely tears of joy and hope.

              The writer Alain de Botton noted, “The moment we cry in a film is not when things are sad but when they turn out to be more beautiful than we expected them to be.” Alain is on to something.

              We are the kind of people who believe that God fixes broken things. When God sets right what is wrong we call that restoration. We believe in restoration. We pray for restoration. We fight for restoration. We celebrate restoration.

              Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “God makes all things beautiful in his time.” When I see something ugly or painful or damaged become more beautiful than I expected – it makes me cry. Tears of joy and hope.

              The theologian Cornelius Plantinga wrote a book about sin entitled Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be. The world is not supposed to be ugly or painful or damaged – it is supposed to be beautiful. We are the kind of people who celebrate every time God makes the world a better place.

              Here is the video of Nightbirde if you want to celebrate with me!


              Celebrating the beauty of restoration,

              Kent Landhuis
              Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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