Making Space


My gas tank light flashed on.  Ugh, I heaved. What an apropos picture for what I feel like right now.  The morning was still dark and I was driving to meet with three seventh grade girls whom I was supposed to be “mentoring.”  But I felt out of gas. Runnin’ on empty.  Like I had nothing to give.  I should NOT be doing this!  What in the world do I have to offer them?  I feel like I’m barely holding it together and they’re supposed to look up to me? Yikes.  I pulled into the parking lot and saw one of their moms pulling out.  Another whammy to myself: not even on time.  The mini-van slowed and the mom rolled down her window.

“Caitlin, hi! How are you?”

“Uhhh.. great,” I faltered.  This particular mom had actually mentored me for the last several years.  She must be thinking ‘why am I letting my daughter be influenced by this girl?’  “Grace,” I spit out before I would think the better of it. “I’m actually feeling like I don’t have much to give.  Like, I am a mess.  And..” I trailed off.

Grace smiled.  She has one of those reassuring smiles, one that serves as a reminder that everything will be a-okay. “Oh, Caitlin, what a perfect place to be in… for you’re aware that it’s not really about you offering YOUR wisdom or joy, but offering a place for the Lord to work.  You’re making yourself available, and that’s all that’s necessary.”

Ah ha. Right. So I didn’t feel adequate.  Well, that’s not the point.  Or maybe in part, it is exactly the point. HE’S adequate. And He’s in me.  So in I went and we had cinnamon crunch bagels and talked about middle school life.

Later, I walked out with those three darling girls and realized how refreshed I was.  There was a mysterious exchange that had taken place in that last hour.  My weakness, His strength.  My crumbs, His bread of Life.  And honestly it was a gift to be with them and to realize, hey, it is not about me right now.  Self-forgetfulness can be a relief.

I think back to the many women who have been involved in my life over the years.  Each of them lovely, each of them wise.  But what was most impactful to me was their availability, the space they created in their lives to allow me to join.  I remember sometimes jumping in the car and going grocery shopping with one of them.  She invited me to just come alongside her amidst her to-do list.  In my highschool years, I would often meet with a mentor, now a dear, dear friend, at Panera.  We’d order cinnamon crunch bagels.  I know she offered me a lot of wisdom, but what I remember most is just that she was there. She kept showing up every week at Panera.

In the beginning, God created time and space.  And I think He grants us the ability to create specific time and spaces in our own lives.  Creating time and space to walk alongside of other people – whether we are the “mentee” or “mentor” – is an invitation for us to do what Jesus did: invest in relationships… make disciples. He knew we needed one another, knew that we weren’t made to do life on our own.  Our retreat speaker Dale Keuhne’s words come to mind: “human flourishing requires a constellation of relationships.”  Those words have swirled around in my mind for months.  A constellation of relationships… what could that look like for us at Restoration as we consider investing in one another?  Maybe it’s much simpler than we make it out to be.  Maybe it’s about just showing up.

Please join us to discuss the topic of mentoring at the next Women’s Unscripted. This is a chance to hear from different women’s stories, gain practical tools for being and/or finding a mentor, and learn about new avenues to get to know other women at Restoration.  7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 24 (NEXT TUESDAY) in the Fellowship Hall.  Hope to see all Restoration women – and their friends there. All welcome.

~Caitlin Staples for the Women Unscripted Team


Fall Retreat 2014: Register today!

Click here to sign up now for this year’s retreat. We’ll be heading to Massanetta Springs October 18-19, 2014 and would love for you all to join us. The retreat will begin at 9:30 am on Saturday and will end by 12:45 pm on Sunday. Register before September 1 to get the early-bird discount. 

“I accepted Christ when I was a child and have attended church all my life. However, since joining the military over 10 years ago, I have not found a church family to call my own. That changed last October.

My brother, Isaac, and his family attended Restoration, and I would come to service with them on occasion. Everyone was nice, but I was always just a visitor. Then in the summer of 2013, I went through a terrible breakup with my then fiancé. My family helped me through the initial pain, but we all knew that I could not heal on my own, that I needed to belong to something. So, with their advice, I gave Restoration an honest try–for myself.

During my second service, I read the announcement for the 2013 Fall Retreat. It was decently local, it was supposed to be a lot of fun, and my sister-in-law, Julia, wanted to go. But, what I really noticed was the date. October 18-20–my botched wedding date. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I remember choosing that date because it is my favorite weekend of the year. Looking down at the announcement, I knew that I did not want to be alone or sad on that beautiful weekend. I remember thinking, “What a great way to spend that time. I won’t be in pain, and I won’t be thinking about myself – I’ll be with Christ and His family in the mountains… I have to go.”

The retreat was wonderful. I had never met such nice, Godly people. Julia, my niece Parker, and I shared a room–I was so thankful to have family with me. But, I left the weekend meeting some of my now closest friends. I was able to spend time getting to know them and hear their stories. We went to a pumpkin farm, a lavender farm and a winery. This was not your typical church retreat! But, I needed that. I needed to experience worldly things with Godly people. At the retreat, we sat around a bonfire for hours. I was able to get to know the people I now call friends, and probably unknowingly, they were able to help me understand the changes going on in my life and heal a little more because of it.

I realize that because of that retreat last fall, I am now a part of something. I walk into service and am able to say more than just “hello” to people. I still love that my family attends Restoration, but now I have my own identity there. I have since healed from my breakup, and I now realize that the Lord sent me to the fall retreat on that third Saturday in October in order to begin a different type of new life – one with Him and my new “extended” Restoration family, and it is still my favorite weekend of the year!”

– Lori Simerly


God and the (single) woman

Last Tuesday,  7.30pm 51 women met at LFPC to listen, chat, think and pray around the idea of being a woman of God who may be single; and how we can encourage one another to grow into all that God has for us individually and collectively.IMG_0666 The panel: Leigh McAfee, Barb Hagerty and Connally Gilliam were outstanding – they made us laugh and think as they called us to revel in our womanhood, delight in our maker and allow God to minister to the hurts and longings that we feel. Some of my favorite quotes from the evening include:

  • “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (quoted by Barb)
  • “I want to live out of wholeness not longing” (Leigh)
  • “But Eros, honoured without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon” CS Lewis, The four loves (quoted by Connally)
  • ‘Fill yourselves with thankfulness” (Barb)
  • “How would I live if I knew for a fact in five years I would/would not be married?” (Barb)
  • “My singleness is only part of my identity” (Leigh)

What was your favorite take-away from the evening?    Do continue the conversation…


1) Last call for the Women’s retreat: sign up closes this Sunday. Connally is our speaker – the book is Philippians and we will be thinking about hope in the chaos of life. It will be fun!

2) March 18, 7.30pm LFPC: ‘God and the (sexual) woman’. Similar format. Send questions in advance to Liz Gray

Happy New Year!


I’m a guy who likes to look back and to look forward, to review and to plan.  I appreciate the opportunities to read back through my journal, to remember what I was feeling, to wonder if any growth or change has really happened.  🙂

I hope you get a few minutes in these opening hours of 2014 to give thanks and to dream.  At dinner last night, my family talked about the things that happened in 2013 that we want to KEEP doing in 2014 and we talked about the things that happened that we want to STOP doing.  Keepers are things that enabled us to talk and be together.  Stoppers included ‘when Daddy is grumpy.’

Where does your imagination go as you dream about 2014?  What are you asking your Heavenly Father to do in you?  What are you looking forward to?  What are the dates you have already circled because they will be hard or full or joy?  Can you find an hour to take a walk with Jesus and tell him your hopes and fears?  Can you steal away for a bit to write in your journal the things you are anticipating for the year to come?

Here are the categories I think through at this time of year:

  • My companionship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit:  Last year I used the Mc’Cheyne Daily Reading Plan.  I coupled it with D.A. Carson’s devotional on the readings, For the Love of God.  Like I said, I need a plan and it really helps me to wake up and have a clear plan for what I need to read that day.  Kept me on track.  You can get both the Mc’Cheyne reader and the Carson devotionals for free in one place right here.  Works really well on an ipad.
  • Financial:  Was I as generous as I could be in 2013?  Are there any budget categories that I can practice the discipline of restraint and simplicity–  because it is good for my soul?  Any places of spending that are really out of control? Did I stick to my budget (do you have a budget?) in 2013?
  • Exercise:  I enjoy exercising with folks.  I have a few races I like to do each year.  I have some mileage goals and pace goals.  For me, it is the 30-60 minutes a day that puts my brain ‘somewhere else’.  Every time I go for a run, I ask God to give me one good idea–  and He is really faithful.  My best ideas have come when I am gasping for air at the end of some run.  I need a goal to get me out of bed.  It’s too easy to just jump in to email or work or rolling over and going back to sleep.
  • Relational:  What are the significant events in the life of my family this year?  How will I create space around them to be present?  What is the daily, weekly, and quarterly time I need to be ‘just with Laurel’?  (yes, we have to plan all 3!)  What are my prayer goals for my children?  What kind of help will my parents need?   Which part of my character do I want to see the most growth?
  • Vocational:  for me, this is about Restoration.  I am thinking about moving in to our new building.  I am excited about our 2 trips to Asia Minor and the visit we will receive from on our partners there.  I am dreaming about the beginnings of church planting in partnership with our diocese.  I am excited about telling the story of redemption and restoration to follow on the chapters of creation and fall.  I think we are going to have some terrific small groups this year.  So how do I need to pray?  What do I need to learn?  What do I need to write?  Who do I need to talk with and get to know?  What will be the consistent topics that come out in my speaking and preaching?
  • What are the things that I ‘never got to’ but really want to have in my life?  Anything I can do to make them a reality this year?  For me this includes some house projects, music, language, and backpacking.  Can you and I create some–  ‘it’s really important but I never have time’ time?

Happy New Year my friends.  I am so grateful that I get to live this next one with you.


2013: what’s your happiest memory?

1 APEX and friends packaging meals

1. APEX and friends packaging meals












2. january 2013 vestry retreat

2. January 2013 vestry retreat












3. quincy snacks Jan 2013

3. N Quincy ST snacks Jan 2013









4. Cherrydale spring park clearance

4. Cherrydale spring park clearance










5 women's retreat feb 2013

5 women’s retreat feb 2013










6 palm sunday 2013

6 Palm Sunday 2013










7. Easter 2013

7. Easter 2013









8. April at LFPC

8. April at LFPC












9. mens retreat april 2013

9. Mens retreat April 2013












10. Clay's ordination may 2013

10. Clay’s ordination May 2013









11 pre demo prayer summer 2013

11 pre demo prayer Summer 2013









12 summer ladies happy hour

12  ladies happy hour: Summer 








13 APEX - AFAC summer market

13 APEX – AFAC July Farmer’s market










14.  July WVA team

14. July 3-7, WVA team












15 demo aug 15

15 demo aug 15










16 burger bros summer 2013

16 Burger bros summer 2013









17 love Arlington at Courtney's House sept 2013

17 Love Arlington SG at Courtney’s House Sept 2013









18 Fall retreat

18 Fall retreat: October 









19. November: Operation Christmas Child

19. November: Operation Christmas Child









20 advent 2013

20 Advent 2013









21 Liz's ordination

21 Liz’s ordination









22. building 2nd floor

22. building 2nd floor at N Quincy Street












23  End of 2013

23 End of 2013












Feb 21-23, 2014 the AWESOME women’s retreat

February is always a long month.  I guess it is the shortest month, if you’re counting days, but for me, it never feels like the shortest month.  The excitement of the holidays is long past and I’m ready to shed my winter coat.  I’m tired of the early darkness and spring break is too many weeks away.

What is the solution to this February drag? The Restoration Women’s Retreat!


Last February, I was stuck in my traditional February rut and the ladies of Restoration helped to pull me out of it.  Our weekend of learning and hanging out was so rejuvenating for me.

I wrote in my journal during the weekend, “It’s amazing when I can really see God at work in my life – during the most frustrating and chaotic season, he has sent me inspiration and guidance.”  That inspiration and guidance came in the form of lessons and wonderful friendships that were forged at the Women’s Retreat 2013.

During the Women’s Retreat in February 2014 we will hear our own Connally Gilliam speak.  There will be plenty of time to chat by the fire, time for getting cozy and relaxed with a book, and opportunities to be adventurous in the Pennsylvania outdoors.  Most importantly, it will be a weekend surrounded by some of the most wonderful people.  What is better than that?

Join us! February 21-23, 2014 at the Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA

You can sign up here or here …do it today!

Liz Baar


From our Cairo Correspondent

Working in Cairo this week, I got back to my hotel room late Tuesday evening, I found a large bouquet of flowers and a bowl of fruit, and wondered why the hotel had given me that? The card that came with the flowers told a different story: it was a welcome gift from the Stephen’s Children ministry: I had arranged to meet one of them on Friday, to hand over the check representing Restoration’s Easter collection. I thought of King David when three of his warriors fought their way into Bethlehem to fetch him some water (2 Samuel 23), and David was awestruck by the generous spirit of these men, putting themselves at risk to bless David. Perhaps not quite the right analogy, but such a generous gift from a ministry working with the poor – I almost cried, and felt very humbled!

Today, I had the privilege of visiting of the many ‘garbage cities’ on the outskirts of Cairo– of the 90 or so locations where the Stephen’s Children ministry runs schools for the poorest of the poor. This ‘city’, home to perhaps 900 people – predominantly Christians – is in a dusty, stony hollow away from the road. Nothing grows there – there is no soil. None of the buildings has more than one level: the materials they are made from would not really support more. There is no electricity. Running water was made available about a year ago (this has attracted more people to move in). In the school room perhaps 40 girls aged 6 to 15  sat in rows on benches, learning the alphabet with great excitement. Nearby, I visited a study group for boys. Half a dozen squatted in the shade of a rusty corrugated iron gate as myriad flies buzzed around, and listened to the story of the cripple who had sat by the pool for years, waiting for a miracleThe back yard was buried in rubbish – plastic bags mostly, which are burned down to produce a hard black mass that can be sold for recycling (an adult and four children scavenging can earn perhaps $1.50 a day doing this).

Stephen’s Children employs around 1,500 staff to run kindergartens, and now one school, for some 30,000 children, visiting them weekly in their homes to support a holistic ministry of education, teaching on basic health and hygiene, and the bible. Many of the children, and some of their parents, are not officially registered, through ignorance and discrimination.

This was not a miserable place to visit. The children were happy as they learned. A little girl smiled broadly as the teacher washed her feet (this is done to teach hygiene, and to check for cuts and infections in little feet that at best have flip-flops to wear). Adults were welcoming. The ‘motto’ of the ministry is: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (phil 4:13). The children and their families are being given hope, not just once or in theory, but day by day, week by week, year after year. I am lost for words, but full of admiration, and very blessed to have seen God at work through his people in such a way.

Simon G.

Love One Another


They are often some of the most fulfilling and the most challenging aspects of our lives. Friends, spouses, parents, roommates, kids, colleagues, siblings — all have ways of bringing out our best and our worst selves. Figuring out how to cultivate healthy relationships is hard, good work. And it’s what we’re going to be talking about over the next five weeks.

There are about a million books out there on healthy relationships, and probably nearly as many sermons. So why are we adding to the pile? Because we’re convinced that there’s something fundamentally different about what it means to cultivate healthy relationships when you’re part of a church community. Marriage looks different when you’re part of a church. So does friendship. Parenting, too. And while we don’t pretend that we’re the only ones to have ever had this insight, we know how easy it is to live as if all those things weren’t true. And so we think it’s worth spending some time digging in to these questions and seeing what it might mean for the ways we live together. David, Clay, and I will be sharing this series, and we’re all really excited for it.

Jesus’ approach to relationships was summed up in three little words, words he shared with his disciples at their last meal together: “Love one another.” It’s a deceptively simple instruction, because I think it actually contains a wealth of wisdom — on what it means to be part of a church community, on how being part of that community impacts all of our relationships, on what it means to love someone at all. Those are great questions to ask together, and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing between now and Thanksgiving. So join us.

– Erin


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