https://twitter.com/#!/MichelleWegner
Jun 30 2014

Introducing…

Us!  The Wegner’s.

Wegner JeepWe moved from Indiana to Kansas on May 2.  Every single day since then, I have had a lesson in the form of humility from one source or another.  Every place I go, I have to rely on Siri or my instincts to figure out where I am and where I am going, and how to get there.  The days I rely on my instincts, I get lost.

Other than daily getting lost or finding myself driving down the wrong way on a one way street, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kansas.  Our new church family, Westside Family Church, has welcomed us with grace and peace and so, so much kindness.

Every day is a new introduction.  A new something somewhere.  I am a deeply settled person.  I enjoy roots, predictability, and the peace that comes from knowing what happens next.  Learning the in’s and outs and shortcuts will take time, I’m sure.  

As I am being humbled by learning all things new, I thought I’d take a minute to blog about what I DO know. These are the people I know best in the world–their in’s and out’s, their shortcuts, what makes them who they are.  I’d like to introduce my family.  Understand these are bird’s-eye-view introductions. Each one of us is incredibly complex.  Our girls are very spirited–The dynamics of raising three girls in one family are intense, insanely fun, and keep Rob and I on an incredibly high learning curve .

Rob and got married 21 years ago when he was 21 and I was 19.  We were close friends from the time I was 12 and he was 14.  I still remember clear as day the first time I saw him.  He radiated joy and warmth and he was the funniest person I knew (besides myself, of course)

Rob at Jenny LakeRob is a phenomenally gifted communicator and teacher of Jesus and His ways.  He is a wonderful husband and amazing father to our three girls.  He is patient and kind with them, leading them by his example and courage to follow Jesus wherever He leads.  Rob is a guitarist and musician. Music oozes out of him wherever he goes.  It’s in his soul and spirit.  He’s a dreamer of really big dreams, and a huge believer in helping others implement their own.  I’m proud to be his wife.

Maddie-CameraMadeline (Nick names:Maddie, Madalina, Madeliney, Mads, Matt, Mattie Mick…etc)

Maddie is 15. She is an old soul in a young body. She’s an introvert, a Noticer, and deeply compassionate.  Maddie is wise beyond her years and can spot a faker in a second (someone who says they are one thing but really are not who they say they are).  She’s deeply intuitive and an amazing photographer.  She’s hilarious and fun, practical and precise.  She is a wonderful role model to her younger sisters.  I am so proud to be her mom.

Whitney-Headband

Whitney (Nick names Whit, Whitster, Whitaker, Wick)

Whitney is 14.  She is the tallest of our girls, and is made of solid muscle.  She’s a strawberry blonde beauty.  She’s intense, incredibly fun, an extremely strong leader, bold, loud, confident, and courageous.  Whit is the kind of kid who is a friend to literally everyone she knows and an underdog for the outcast kind of kids.  She has a gift for making those around her feel loved, included and important.  Whitney makes me laugh every day.  I’m so proud to be her Mamma.

BelleIsabelle  Joy(Belle, Isabob, Corndog, LIttle Mac, Is., Peanut)

Belle is 10.  She exudes joy and life like no one I’ve ever known.  From the minute she wakes up until her head hits the pillow at night, she oozes life and radiates joy.  She is so much fun, non-stop.  She is a Rainbow Loom genius, making bracelets and crafts several hours a day.  She is deeply sensitive, is easily hurt, but comes alongside those who hurt because she knows how it feels.  Belle is a best friend and buddy to whomever she is with.  She is the definition of joy.  Her smile and laugh light up a room like magic.  I’m so proud to be Belle’s Mamma.

Michelle-HeadbandMe – I’m 41.  I’ve written for several magazine publications over the past 10 or so years about family life and spiritual matters.  I am a mega introvert.  I need lots and lots of time alone, and people often misunderstand this part of me as snobbishness or aloofness.  I promise I am neither of those.  I love people.  I love Jesus.

I love my family with all of my heart.  I love anything artsy or creative or fun.  Driving my Jeep with the top down, taking photos along the way with the sun on my face (or even in the pouring rain) fills me up.  I’m often in nature alone, photographing stuff that point me to my Creator.  I see Him through my camera lens, and hear His voice in the wind.

That’s enough introducing for now. Your eyeballs are probably tired from this very, very long post.  Go take a nap and give your eyes a break.  It’s been so lovely getting to know you all.  Thanks for being gracious and kind as we humbly get to know you back.

~Grace and Peace.


Oct 1 2012

Twenty Years In The Field Of Dreams

Twenty years ago Rob and I moved from the South Side of Chicago to the middle of corn on the cob land Indiana.  We had lived in Chicago our whole lives–my time in college right in the middle of downtown.  We loved the city.  We loved driving from the suburbs on a Friday night just to visit one of our favorite ice cream places downtown.  We loved to go to the zoos and walk down Oak Street Beach.  We even made an appearance on an early airing of the Oprah show (well, we were audience members in the very back row, but our faces were visible on T.V. for 3.5 seconds, so it counts, right?)

Immediately after Rob graduated from college in 1992, he began working for Granger Community Church.  At the time, we met in a movie theater just between Main St. and Grape Rd.  Only there was no Main St. at the time.  There was also no Starbucks, Walmart, Target, Fridays, or Uptown Kitchen.  I do believe there was a Ryans, and a Chili’s–no Meijer, Barnes and Noble or Five Guys.

But, there were endless fields and wide open skies everywhere we looked. And we liked it.

A Move to The Wide Open

In our years of South Suburban living, we were Cubs and Sox fans–an issue that still divides us today. Rob has always been a White Sox fan, me, a true blue Cubs fan. We both pulled for the Bears, the Bulls and occasionally the Black Hawks.  We attended a few of our own high school basketball games. We never watched college football or watched high school basketball on T.V.  I’ll never forget turning on our 16 inch T.V. propped up on a milk crate in our first apartment and seeing high school basketball airing.  I was dumbfounded.

Growing up in a big city, no one in our circles of influence talked high school or college sports.  No one.  Unless you were the one in the sport or their close family member–It was all about the local teams. The worship of high school and college sports in our new home town was something completely foreign to us.

My high school was multi-ethnic, multi-racial, full of students and teachers from every socioeconomic place you could imagine. I had friends who were very rich, and extremely poor.  My first impression of Granger was that the women looked like they had just walked off the set of a soap opera and the men from the golf course.  When I went to the grocery store, I was shocked to see women in high heels with perfect make-up pushing shopping carts adorned with perfectly made up children.  This was different.

What surprised me the most in moving to this sprouting metropolis was the friendliness of people wherever I’d find myself.  People would look me in the eye, talk for a minute or two–just chat to be nice.  This was so odd and unfamiliar to me.  Where I grew up, you walked in a place, kept your head down, got what you needed and left as quickly as possible.  This new friendliness intrigued me. It still does.

I was nineteen turning twenty and my whole world changed by planting ourselves only 90 minutes away from home.

Watching it Grow

Living in this community at first, I realized that no one was “from” here.  Well, a very few…but it seemed as if everyone was from somewhere else. In Chicago, our family had come off the boat from Holland some 150 years ago, settled on the South Side of Chicago and never left.  Everyone we knew was “from” Chicago with very few exceptions.  People who lived in Michiana were mostly not from Michiana.  They had pulled up roots from somewhere else to move to this born from the corn-on-the-cob land Indiana, just like us.

In our first five years here, the community around us began to sprout up quickly.  More and more families moved here.  It seemed as if every time we turned around there was a new housing development being built, and the next time we turned around, it was full of bikes, baby strollers and people mowing lawns.

New streets were paved and a new restaurant or grocery store went up every other day.  The rapid pace of growth and change was exhilarating for everybody.  New schools were built for all the new families. New subdivisions erased traces of old farms, fields, and endless skies. We threw away countless irrelevant street maps every year as the community grew and changed. (Young people, note this was before GPS–we did actually have to use street maps to get around)

Calling It Home

With the economy slowing down a bit (mild exaggeration, I know) in the past few years, we’ve seen the progress around us slow as well.  Some of those shiny new shops and restaurants we saw go up so quickly are now boarded up, sitting empty, or have shifted ownership a few times. It hurt to see those around us hurt from this big slow down.  It was around this time I realized I had become attached to this community–I had become a Hoosier.

Our newly shared history as a community is something we know we all have built and grown with dreams and hard work. We are proud of it, and we should be. The longer I live here, the longer I love the history of this place and the now-reality of it.   I look at the schools my girls have had the privilege to attend.  I see their teachers smiling at them, cheering for them, expecting their best, and I am thankful.

 

 

 

A Part of The Dream

 

The barns I drove past twenty years ago are aging as every rough Michiana winter passes.  I have become obsessed with photographing these old barns, hoping to preserve some of their beauty and history in film. One of the barns I photographed last autumn is now laying in a shambles, crumbled under its own rotting weight. I hope the photos will tell the story of what once was and how these fields changed and grew into what so many of us now call home.

I took my girls for a drive down Main Street in Mishawaka yesterday. I told them, “None of this was here when your dad and I came. It was all a field of dreams.”  Of course they rolled their eyes at my sentimentality. But it was worth it.
Those endless fields have now been filled with men, women and children with hopes and dreams of their own.  I’m glad we planted ourselves here twenty years ago.  I still don’t wear high heels to the grocery store, but I do have a sort of growing affection for high school and college sports,

but definitely never the White Sox.

 

This article appears in the October 2012 issue of Michiana FAMILY magazine, which in my opinion is a part of the field of dreams as well.

 

 


Aug 27 2012

20 Year Celebration

Twenty years. Twenty years is a long time. As our twentieth anniversary at GCC has been approaching, I have been amazed at the comments people have made.  Ones like, “No one does anything for 20 years anymore.” Or “Did you start ministry when you were 10?” Generally people have been shocked, not realizing Rob and I have been at GCC for that long.

I was 19 when we came to Granger, Rob was 21.  Mark and Sheila Beeson have given us a place and space to grow and change over the decades, finding ourselves, finding Jesus, and leading others in the Jesus way all the while.

Last Friday night, we celebrated our 20 year anniversary with some friends from GCC in literally “The Party Of The Century.”  We were humbled, amazed, honored…there truly are not enough words in the human language to express the way our hearts exploded with the outpouring of love from the staff, friends, and family who came along to celebrate.

Several friends sent video messages, Pastor Paul Wirth from Relevant Church in Tampa, Florida, Dustin Holiday from Christian Fellowship Church near Washington DC, and Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California. Rajendran from India recorded a message about how grateful he is for Rob’s faithfulness when it comes to serving the people of India…it was all so very meaningful.

There was an amazing media piece with stories from our lives told by others, photos someone had stealthily stolen from my house (with a little help of 3 young accomplices) draped on a clothesline at the GCC property. It was stunningly artistic, and took our breath away.

Our girls had made a secret media with the help of Elle White and Kristin Baker. It brought both Rob and I to tears. It was so beautiful and funny…we are so grateful.

Rev. Dan Gute, our youth pastor made a surprise appearance, speaking words of life and hope into us, and his lovely wife Dianne came too.  We could not believe it.  Both sets of our parents came, along with Rob’s sister Lisa, our brother in law Jim, and our niece and nephew.  What a blast to have all of us in the same room together!

The Senior Management Team each took a minute to say a kind word to Rob and I, and we were humbled by the gracious things they said.  The Culps made a special Rob and Michelle tribute, and we laughed so, so hard.  I was touched when the Culps were transformed back into Dan and Lisa, and they sang the Song “Captivate Us” by Watermark, and played the You Tube video I made of my Instagram pics.  It was a fabulous surprise.

The shock of our lives came when Trace Rorie and the GCC band began playing an old school Petra song.  Those who know Rob well know what a huge influence Petra was on his early faith in Jesus. Whenever he tells the story of how he deditcated his life to Jesus, he talks about the Petra songs that sunk deep down and made him think, change, and grow.

As Trace began singing the song, all of the musicians started looking sort of nervous. I felt bad for them because I thought these old Petra songs must be “new” to them and they might not know them so well.  I felt even worse when they really messed up and had to stop the song. Then it clicked. I put my hand over my mouth as Trace said something about “Four time Grammy Award Winning Artist…” and JOHN SCHLITT FROM PETRA WALKED ON THE STAGE!!!!!”

I don’t know if either of us will ever be able to recover from the shock. John Schlitt is a super-mega-famous Christian Rock star, and has been for decades.  BUT, to us, he’s way more than that.  We went to his concerts as high-schoolers and middle-schoolers ourselves, acted crazy and had fun…but always left profoundly impacted by Petra’s love for Jesus and their compassi0n for kids like us.  John Schlitt was the guy who sang to us while we worshipped Jesus alone in our rooms, or  listening to headphones while walking to high school.  Petra’s songs literally ignited our faith and gave us courage to stand up for what we believed in. The voice of Petra brought each of us to our knees in countless moments of standing before Jesus.

John Schlitt’s presence with us there on Friday night was so symbolic of our lives coming full circle.  It was crazy.

 

 

I have to tell you, one of the funniest moments of my life is captured in this photo below, where Pastor Dan (our youth pastor), and Rob’s mom are talking with John Schlitt.  His mom is telling John how she “put up with that loud music” for so many years, and Dan was telling John how he used to drop us off at Petra concerts and drive around the block about a thousand times so he wouldn’t have to stay and listen to the loud music.  John just laughed and laughed and thanked them over and over again for doing a great job in raising us.

I respected the man from afar for all these decades, but when I saw him speaking to these two, I was deeply moved. I was standing next to John when he spoke to my own dad. He spoke to my dad like they were old friends.  He thanked my dad over and over for allowing us to listen to his music growing up.  He said, “I know Chicago was a dark place to grow up. Thank you for allowing your children to listen to our music, hopefully we brought a little light.”  His words were profound and heartfelt. He spoke to each of our girls with respect and admiration, thanking them for how they celebrated us as their parents through their words on the video, and the letters they had each written us.

John’s humility and compassion were so obvious, and we are so, so blessed by the staff of GCC for allowing this to happen, and for everything they did to make us feel loved and honored.

Our worlds were rocked…literally…on Friday night.  Thank you to each person who came and celebrated with us, and those who celebrated with us by watching the service live stream at gccwired.com .  Our lives are permanently rocked by this amazing celebration.

 


May 11 2012

Birthday Fun

I turned 39 yesterday.  It was a magnificent day, beautiful weather, hanging out with my favorite people ever–my family.  Rob was so kind and got me an Ollo Clip for my iPhone, which has a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, and a fun fish-eye lens. I had so much fun taking photos of all kinds of things, getting an entirely new perspective on what I see every day.  I’m so blessed. I love Jesus, love my family, and am so grateful for the beauty God put around us to enjoy everyday.

 

 

buzz buzz….   🙂


Aug 3 2010

Blank Canvas

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As most of you know, we traveled to India this summer to gather the stories of the church planters we have been working with for the past 8 years.  Their stories are so amazing and compelling, I’d pretty much have to be brain dead to not convey these stories to you with words that have power and meaning. 

So, I’m sitting here staring at a blank canvas, asking for your prayers of hope and courage as Rob and I blaze the trail of writing down these stories for lots of lots of people to see. 

These stories have impacted us deeply and forever, and our prayer is that they will do the same as others read them.    Pray for us now, and in the coming months as this book comes together.  Thanks!


May 4 2010

Who Are You Following?

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~Follow me as I follow Jesus

1 Corinthians 11:1