pecaspers: a Blog in transition

March 15, 2011

In Memorium of Malachi Peterson-Caspers

Filed under: My Life in General,New Home — pecaspers @ 12:00 AM
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I sat down in my recliner and my cat didn’t come try to jump in my lap. That made me sad.

I went to the back bathroom a little while ago, and there’s not a litter box in there anymore. That made me sad.

I went into the nursery earlier and as I left it, I realized it didn’t matter anymore if I left that door open. That made me sad.

I swept the kitchen this afternoon, and now there is no more little bits of cat food in the corner, because there is no longer a food bowl there. That made me sad.

I put the body of my most constantly present and unconditionally loving friend, comforter, and confidant (except for the Holy Spirit of God) into the ground today. And that makes me sad.

But we do not mourn like those who have no hope! (1 Thessalonians 4:13) And we are blessed in our mourning because we shall be comforted! (Matthew 5:4) That gives me comfort.

Jessica, Peter, and I gathered in our back yard today to have a funeral for our beloved cat Malachi. If you find that strange, then I pity you for having such a small and hard heart. If you question the validity of a Christian funeral for a cat, then you need to keep reading because what follows is the essence of my message at the funeral, albeit more fully developed here.

God, in His Word, has not clearly revealed the eternal destiny of animals. In the beginning, when God made everything, He spoke animals into being and they were formed out of the ground (Genesis 1:24, 2:19). That is to say that they are made from the same dirt from which Man was made. The LORD did not breath into them his spirit, but he did put the breath of life into them. And everything that the LORD made was declared good; there was no sin, there was no death, all that God created was meant to last for all eternity. Man fell, and all creation was cursed, but in the beginning, even cats were meant to live forever.

Scripture is clear that though the animal kingdom has been placed under the authority of Man, all creatures belong ultimately to God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He feeds the ravens and the lions, He knows every time a sparrow lands on the ground (Psalm 50:10, Psalm 104:21, Psalm 147:9, Matthew 10:29). God displays His goodness and glory through the way he has made and provides for his creatures (Job 38-41, Matthew 6:26). Animals are part of God’s good creation and He cares for them, and this is clearly taught in Scripture.

Isaiah speaks of the new heavens and the new earth as having animals, re-created and living in peace just as God’s people are (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:17, 25). In Revelation 21:5 the Lamb of God calls out from His throne, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And so we might yet hope to see our beloved pets made new in the eternal Kingdom of God.

In this life, Malachi was a good kitty. He was well-behaved and well-loved, and he brought a great deal of happiness to our home. We are thankful to God for the gift of the time we had with Malachi. And he will live on in our memories if nowhere else. He is in no more pain. He died wrapped in a blanket he loved to sleep on, warmed by the morning sun, breathing fresh spring air, hearing birds sing, outside…and without anyone telling him to get back inside.

Now Malachi sleeps in death, and this is the way of all things. We were brought forth from the ground, and to the ground we return. But while I don’t know for certain if I will ever see my cat again, I do know for certain that my eternal destiny is clear. Jessica and I know that Jesus Christ has died on our behalf. Our bodies will one day “sleep,” but we will never truly die. THIS is our joy, that while we lay our kitty-friend to rest, we know that our own souls will one day loose these mortal coils and rise to be with Him who has already risen from the dead.

And we rejoiced at the amazing grace that God has given us. Then I placed my friend’s body in the ground, still wrapped in that blanket, with almost every appearance that he was merely curled up asleep in that cardboard box. And I covered the box with dirt, and I planted a tree over him. The tree came from the yard of our first home, and so now we will leave both a part of our first home and a part of our family here if/whenever God calls us away from this place. But like I said, this is the way of things. And we do not mourn like those who have no hope.

Do you have that same hope? Malachi does not bear the weight of moral responsibility like you and I do. While they have to endure the same curse placed on Man who was given authority over them, animals will not stand and be judged by God. Malachi will either be present in the new creation, or he won’t. You will rise and be judged, though. All fall short of God’s standard of perfection–all but God Himself, which is why the Son came to this earth as one of us. It’s why He lived a perfect life (a life you could not live), so that He could die as a perfect sacrifice (to pay completely a penalty you could not pay eternally). And that is why He rose from the dead, because He had paid it all, death could not hold Him. Death cannot hold you if your trust is all and only in the shed blood of Jesus. But if it’s not, then Death already has you. You are held morally responsible by God because you bear His image. You are not just an animal.

It will be a hard thing to get used to not having Malachi around. I think that’s what makes me so sad. I’ve really enjoyed his presence for the last almost three years. But life goes on, and we’ll get used to life without a cat now. So there’s the transition.

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June 15, 2010

Recentish Stuff

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 7:41 AM

Well, I just looked back at my last post.  It hasn’t been THAT long, but much transitioning has occurred.  We have moved.  We’re not totally “moved in” yet, but it’s even more livable than it was when we bought it.

In the bedroom, we’ve painted, laid new carpet, moved our bedroom furniture into the room,  and hung some semi-shwanky curtains (TJ Max: $7 each=deal).  We even busted out a comforter that’s been unopened since our wedding (two years, for those keeping count).

We’ve got the “great room” (our living room/dining room combo), more or less like we like it.  There’s still a bunch of extra stuff in it, but the main furniture and makeshift entertainment center (actually a coffee table and end table combo) are where they are staying for the foreseeable future.  We haven’t painted the great room yet, that’s a big task that will include much sanding, painting not only the walls but the ceiling as well (perhaps even untexturizing [a pox on you squiggly line, that should totally be a word] the ceiling…somebody got a little overzealous with the plaster up in here), installing new baseboards, and will likely serve as the best chance to put a major cleaning on our fabulous parquet floor.  We did find an AMAZING 8’x12′ rug at the Wetumpka Lowes for under $70; that’s a crazy-go-nuts deal on that much quality floor covering for those of you who haven’t been rug shopping in a while (I think it was originally priced at around $160).  It was nice to find it there too because we were actually there on our second trip looking at carpet for the bedroom, but the “while supplies last” had run out of the clearance priced stuff we were interested in just like it had on our first trip.  (Note:  While I was typing above, my cat tried to puke on our nice rug.  I was able to get him to the parquet, but not all the way to the kitchen tile.)

The bathrooms are serviceable, but not much more.  The kitchen is as it will be for quite a while, with the exception of the refrigerator still not fitting under the cabinets yet.  I might get on that next week…maybe.   The new washer and dryer are in (THANKS Papa and Nana!!!), but I need to hang Jessica’s requested shelf over them.   The nursery is still somewhat filled with random stuff, much of which needs to go to my study.  My study is not yet fully functional, which explains 1) why I still have stuff in the nursery, and 2) why I’m sitting in a recliner in the living room posting this and not at my desk.

I’ve mowed the lawn 1.9 times.  The first time it took me 6 hours solid, and that is not counting time for lunch and water breaks.  That included chopping  through between 5 and 15 feet of kudzu around 3/4 of the perimeter of the yard.  The second time, yesterday, I pushed myself to the verge of heat stroke, but had the good sense to stop.  Note for the future: Don’t mow your massive yard all at once when it’s 98 degrees outside.  I’d like to have finished it this morning, but Jess and I are headed to Auburn in just over an hour, and I’ve got stuff to get ready before we go…so it’s not likely to happen today.

We sold The Container (that’s our old trailer).  In fact, we had a buyer the night before we closed on the house (I think I’m remembering that right), and they moved it out the following Tuesday (it rained on Monday).  PTL!

We survived  Vacation Bible School 2010.  Jessica taught the “pre-K and kindergarten” class, which included a range in ages from an old-2 to a young 7.  They averaged around 14 each night, I think.  I taught the youth, obviously.  We had either 6 or 7 most nights.  That’s not counting the 7 who were helpers in other classes.  There might be a VBS recap post coming soon…or not, we’ll see.  For now, we’re capping off our BBQ chicken fundraiser on Friday, looking forward to Student Life @ Orange Beach, and then to the Alabama Baptist Convention’s Youth Evangelism Conference.  I hope little Paul Fitzgerald Caspers (not a final choice, just seeing how it looks in print) stays in his mommy’s belly through all the stress and excitement.

Jessica is always in transition.  One moment she’s excited, the next she’s anxious, the next she’s crying because she thinks I’m mad at her because she’s anxious, then she’s just tired and/or hungry.  Speaking of hungry, I am.  This is where we’ll stop for today.

April 28, 2010

The Obligatory “I Haven’t Posted in a While” Post

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 10:01 AM

Yeah.  It’s been a long time since I posted.  But remember, the title of this blog is “a Blog in transition.” Life in transition doesn’t always allow for consistent posting. At least I’m not a missionary in Africa or elsewhere having amazing adventures but refusing to keep my stateside friends in the loop (You know who you are :P).  If I were awesome, I’d go back and see what the last thing I posted was and fill you in on what you missed.  However, I’m pretty sure that if you’re reading this, then you are also keeping tabs on me via facebook or even in real life.

We’re about to move.  About 85% of the stuff from our current home is in boxes and/or in an Extra-Space Storage unit (give them my name, and I’ll split my bonus for recommending you).  We’re movin’ out.  Like the Billy Joel song, not to be confused with “Movin’ on Up” from the Jeffersons.  We are planning to close on Friday.  So there’s a transition for you.

We’re also having a baby.  I think most all of you know about that.  You can read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. Jessica is about three and a half months from popping. It’s a crazy time. So there is another transition for you.

We’re working on an number of…um…things to be done in addition to the things that have always been done at Liberty Baptist Church.  I didn’t say “changes”.  I also didn’t say “I” was the one working on them.  “We” are trying to implement some different (if you’ll permit that word) stuff into the stuff that Liberty does well.  Of course, my ultimate goal is to get the sanctuary painted a flat theater black, hang lighting and speaker racks, sing songs exclusively written in the current year, switch to “small groups” instead of Sunday School, make everybody use The Message, and drive all the gray haired country folk away.  (THAT is, of course, sarcasm.)  Mostly, we’re just working on having more ways to bring people into the life of the church, i.e. additional classes, outreach events, service projects, etc.  So there’s some more transition.

We are about to dive into summer ministry activities.  We’ve got a pool party, VBS (the youth portion I am solely responsible for planning), Student Life Camp @ Orange Beach, the Youth Evangelism Conference in B’ham, and a big UBC (that’s United Between Churches, an area wide interdenominational youth ministry) event toward the start of the next school year.  So there’s a nice long chain of transitions to come.

I’m looking forward to it all.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to having a study in my home.  I’m convinced that having a place set aside for me to put my laptop, a nice chair to sit in, a quiet place where the TV won’t be on unless I want it on,  will help me stay in the habit of writing on here.  It’ll also help with daily prayer and bible study.  No, I’m not saying that having a study makes a person more disciplined.  In fact, I’m saying just the opposite.  I hope, since I’m not disciplined enough, having a dedicated space will keep me from being so easily distracted.  Hey look, something shiny!

What was I saying?  Oh well, this has been a good obligatory “I haven’t posted in a while” post.  Pray (if that’s something you do) that Jessica and I will have a smooth transition to our new home, our new town, and a new pattern of life.

P.S. – If you know anyone looking for a cheap mobile home, I’ve got one I NEED to sell.

P.P.S. – You should totally go to ChristianAudio.com and pick up Jonathan Acuff’s audio version of Stuff Christians Like, and then start reading his blog Stuff Christians Like. It’s delightful.

January 14, 2010

Speaking of transitions…

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 1:32 PM
Tags: , ,

Much has happened since my last post.

I’ve really started to settle into my role as Youth Pastor. We’ve successfully had non-disastrous results at a few different events. In late December, my wife and I loaded the church van with 5 youth (4 girls, 1 guy) and went to Connect 2009 in Pigeon Forge, TN. The speakers were great; the musicians were excellent; our youth behaved predominantly well; good-times were had by all. This was a wonderful and wonderfully inexpensive youth conference, and it would have been worth it at twice the price. We’ve already got some stuff planned for the coming months and are working on getting things lined up for spring (especially Spring Break) and summer as well. I’ve also been given the opportunity to preach 3 times. The first two times went very well. I felt less than positive about my delivery of this most recent sermon after having only a few days (two of which I was also working taking graduation pictures) of lead time since Pastor David came down with bronchitis. Nevertheless, a number of people said they got a lot out of it, so I guess God is still in the business of using what we might reject as worthless for his grand purposes.

Jessica and I have been in the process of trying to buy a home in East Tallassee for months. We found the 2008-model, double-wide, manufactured home sitting on an acre of land which we are trying to purchase back in September, I think. We liked it when the Realtor showed it to us, and it was in far better condition and gave far more square feet per dollar than any of the houses we looked at. However, at that time, we didn’t think we could pull together the money to make it a reality. In November, things were looking better for us. Long story shortened: two potential buyers had fallen through and the home was still available. We paid our earnest money and started trying to get a loan. The first loan company wasted our time and got bought by another bank which wasn’t going to handle mobile home loans. One good thing our loan officer DID do for us was find us someone else who could help us. Our new loan agent is doing her best, but having more than a year between graduating from seminary and going on staff at Liberty is causing us all sorts of problems. On top of all the usual financial info they need (bank statements, tax records, etc.), we have now also supplied them with: a letter from Lakeview Baptist Church saying I’ve still been working (both paid and volunteer) with them since graduating; a letter from Liberty basically saying that I’m going to keep my job there; a letter each from me and Jessica explaining our recent work histories; a simple listing of each of my and Jessica’s recent work and education histories; an additional bank statement showing the check for our earnest money leaving our account; pictures/scanned copies of Jessica’s Auburn diploma, my Auburn diploma, my Southern Seminary diploma, and my certificate of ordination. At one point, we thought every time we got a call from this company we’d be hearing either a “yea” or “nay” on our loan. Now, we are just expecting to be asked for one more random thing. So we’re frustrated with this whole process. Still, I know that God has a reason for the delay. If nothing else, it has kept us from having to pay lot rent on our current home on top of a mortgage payment on our new one.

Another change, I’ve gotten a new car. Well, it’s new to me at least. Jessica’s mom got a for-real-new Hyundai Santa Fé, and they gave me her 1999 Toyota Solara. I’m totally grateful and thoroughly enjoy driving it. We were able to sell my 1992 GMC Jimmy for a whopping $800. I miss the Jimmy, but it made much more since to sell it than to keep it and have it rot from disuse and keep paying insurance on it.

I’ve saved the biggest change of all for last. We’re having a baby! Read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. (WordPress faithful don’t hate. Jessica had it set up on Blogspot before I could stop her.) We go for her first official ultrasound tomorrow. I say official because one of the nurses at the women’s clinic where Jessica volunteers did one just for kicks and giggles last week. So yes, as Jessica said, I’m now part of “The Daddy Team.”

And the changes just keep on coming. Now if we can only find a buyer for this container we live in now.

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