Sunday, November 4, 2012


I suppose you wonder if the Frues fell off the face of the earth?  Not quite, but we are certainly in another world!  We only moved 2,250 miles, 37 road hours, 8 states, or 3 days away from our cozy little condo in Cali, but life is dramatically different. The pace, the place, the people (don’t-cha-know)—all the unfamiliar that is beginning to become much more familiar.  I still rattle my head when I’m reminded that we live in Minnesota, and I still refer to California as “back home”. I look at people funny when they say “put your things in the beg” (bag) or “here’s your name teg” (tag), and they look at me funny when I say “stoked, ya’ll”, but slowly Minneapolis is becoming our own.  We are in love with the city and the diversity and the new things to see and explore and do.  We are overwhelmed by the sincere love and care and friendship that has come from the families in Todd’s seminary, our church and our neighbors. Our home is a haven in a humble quiet neighborhood where you can turn right to go into “the forest” as Lion calls it, or left to a view of the city’s skyline.  We’ve been uprooted from the sandy soil of SoCal and replanted in a special place…and are beginning to take root again.

Now just so I don’t paint a rosy picture of utopia and perfection, we may have left a few things back west, but our sin and habits and hang-ups came with us, for sure.  It’s taken some adjusting, and stretching, and releasing, and (gasp) repenting to settle us into this new way of life.  Some rocks had to be dug up, some weeds pulled, some pests (ahem, habits) killed so that we can wiggle our feet into the new soil.  It isn’t easy, but it’s good.  In a lot of ways, although challenging at times, I feel like the Lord had us under the rake for awhile in order to make the soil we’re in the perfect place to grow.  Or to put it another way, if the year prior was a muddy mess of awkward uncertainty, confusion, and painful pause, this year is emerging from the soil and seeing sunlight. 

The summer garden we inherited and it's caretaker
It’s no coincidence that I’m using planting metaphors to describe the season of life that we’re in.  As Todd unpacked his seminary textbooks, I unpacked our homeschooling curriculum and realized that we’re settling into a fresh field for an altogether new beginning for our family. And just why am I so enthused about the planting, and growing, and seeds, and root talk?  Well first, Todd has begun seminary, which is derived from the Latin word seminarium, or seed bed.  It’s name is defined not only as a place of theological education, but also “a place or environment in which something is developed or nurtured.” Next, we have begun kindergarten with Lion, which is German for “children’s garden” and preschool, otherwise known as “nursery school” (think plant nursery) with Bear.  And Bees, well, he’s busy eating dirt and bugs…which begs me to say our home is a garden and we are all growing!

So what exactly are we watering?  Zucchini?  Tomatoes?  Faith.  Plain and simple, by grace Todd has answered the upward call to the knowledge and fear of God, which has already taken him deeper than any Navy dive he’s done and has really stirred up (and healthily challenged) his faith.  And as a mom I’m (fumbly) engaging the role as seed planter in my children’s hearts for the love of God and of learning, which has equally challenged and stirred up my faith in and dependence on Jesus.  It is not beautiful (I’m often in my pj’s well into the afternoon) nor breezy (Todd’s school work is more than a full-time job), but I know that the Lord is cultivating in us something that I believe will be fruitful and worth it. 

(Not coincidentally, “cultivate” is the word God impressed upon us when we started dating):

tr.v. cul·ti·vat·edcul·ti·vat·ingcul·ti·vates
1.a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
   b. To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants).
2. To grow or tend.
3. To promote the growth of.
4. To nurture; foster.
5. To form and refine, as by education.

Honestly, I can’t get away from the metaphors.  The last several weeks of homeschool with the boys was first about the sun, how it gives life and light to everything, then later about leaves and how plants grow and are dependent upon the sun, and last week was about apples and how it begins as a seed, grows into a tree, and bears fruit that proliferates more seeds…I really think God in nature has a theme running here…

Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table…”  Psalm 128:1-4 

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants…”
Psalm 144:12 

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” 
Psalm 37:3

What’s most encouraging to me in the days that I just want to go back to bed:
“Do not become weary in doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest of blessing if you do not give up.” 
Galatians 6:9 

And I'm reminded that we aren't really the growers here, but God who began a good work in us and who will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6). "So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:7

"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. . .If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (Todd's theme verse)
John 15:1,5

So just as Jesus said, “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God", pray that by His grace we'll be focused, with our minds fixed on the row in front of us, able to nurture the little mustard seeds of faith in Christ that God has planted in us.

Oh, and did I mention there’s literally something growing in me?

We’ve got a new seedling a-sprouting in May!

And that’s why we’ve fallen off the face of the earth--it’s hard work to grow a person from a seed, you know!  (Not to mention, I'm definitely experiencing "growing pains" in this first trimester, so please keep us in prayer for healthy perseverance!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sandcastles to Snowballs

Remember when I mentioned Todd answering God's call to drop his nets and follow Him? I must say it wasn't hard to drop our nets on the sandy shores of Southern California.  "I could like it here, Jesus, good call."  Then came a little blurb on one of our favorite websites,, about a brand new, purposefully small seminary out of our favorite Bible teacher's church.  Great!  Just what Todd was longing for: one-on-one discipleship, teaching, learning, and loving Jesus with his mind in order to be equipped to care for souls.  "Perfect.  So, where exactly is Bethlehem College and Seminary?"  In the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I gulped, "Can you do it online?"  Unfortunately, no.  But watching the invocation and visiting this newborn school filled our hearts with an excitement and a quiet peace that this is where Todd and our family belongs.  Todd wasn't looking for a seminary degree--if he was, there are plenty of opportunities for that along our golden California coast.  But in his heart he felt a longing for learning for the sake of loving...and BCS has a matching pulse.

"Okay," so I ask, "how do we get there?"  Be accepted.  "How's that?"  Apply.  "Doing what?"  Write extensive essays and papers, answer probing heart and passion questions and have your pastor and wife send their own private responses to what you are pursuing.  "Mmmkay."  Two months and whole lot of heart searching and writing later, out goes the application and a prayer (or two).  "Allllrighty. How hard could it be?"  They only accept 15 students.  "Hmmph.  We don't even have a prayer."  Then came the interviews.  "How'd it go, Todd?" Fumbly and humbly he admitted, "If I get in, it won't be because I interview well." 

So after a year of dreaming, six months of forehead rubbing, and a few hundred-thousand soul-searching prayers for God's will for our little family...he got a call.  Then he called me.  I was standing at my favorite beach park gazing out at the beautiful Channel Islands...

 ...Deeeeep breath...

God willing, and it seems so far that He is willing, this summer we're moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota to live and study among the people of Bethlehem College and Seminary!

Mennesooda, eh?  I'm still flabbergasted.  And need warm socks.

For those of you having trouble lifting your jaw from the floor, may I share with you what I privately sealed and sent for the BCS Spouse Questionnaire?  My hope is that you will join me in lifting my jaw from the floor to my hands in the air...

I am thankful to have been asked to share my reflections/excitement/concerns about my husband studying in this M.Div. program and moving toward full-time Christian ministry.  In order to do that, I must put my feelings in context and give glory to God for what He has done to get us to this application process.  Before I boast in the Lord, I will tell of my husband, only for you to see that at his highest worldly accomplishments were his lowest moments of spiritual failure, and at his humblest points of repentance are the Lord’s greatest works of grace that have brought us to where we are today.

Todd Fruehauf is a thrill seeker and I knew it from the beginning.  When we met he was a Navy diver a year out of the Academy, stationed on a minesweeper as Damage Control Assistant working his way to bomb school.  On our first date he took me surprise skydiving.  Soon after he gave me a hot pink helmet so I could ride with him at mach speed on the back of his motorcycle.  For fun with friends we kayaked to an abandoned ocean oil rig and I watched him leap from the top of it. We surfed and built bonfires on the weekends.  Triathlons were a side hobby.  But the most poignant fact I know about him he confided to me on our first dinner date, “I don’t know if it’s a spiritual thing or an actual wartime role, but I long to lead men into battle.” 

Granted, Todd is a grounded thrill seeker.  As we dated we read together, by his leading, books by John Piper and discussed the exciting new thoughts, one of which was adoration—chasing sunbeams up to the sun.  The worship of God on the way home from skydiving was a greater and more memorable experience to us than falling 120 miles per hour from thousands of feet in the air.  We had a taste.  A seed planted.

Fast forward, we married and were immediately whisked away to EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) School and he was thrown into the intense demands of learning with little margin for error.  Todd graduated at the top of his class but was spiritually sinking.  In a whirlwind we were transferred to San Diego and the vigorous work of jump school and tactical training, where he fell in love with backflipping from airplanes and jumping into the ocean from helicopters.

Our first son was born while Todd began his assignment as Officer In Charge of an EOD Detachment, who would eliminate Improvised Explosive Devices and Roadside Bombs in Iraq.  Our family was being built while preoccupied with the training workups for war.  In Iraq Todd lived his desire, leading men and creating explosions from terrorist ordnance that NASA saw from space.  He earned a Bronze Star medal for his bravery but had little victory over the terrorist of his own sin nature. 

Upon arrival home we were transferred to Point Mugu, California and he came to such a place that he doubted his own salvation.  Then he read Finally Alive.  I witnessed a new birth in him—a transfer from the duty of religion to the delight of knowing God personally and experientially through His mercy in Christ.  This was the seed breaking from the shell and pushing through the dirt.

Then with our second son on the way, came the invitation to screen for SEAL Team Six, an elite Special Operations military command.  This was his hardest, greatest, ultimate desire and dream pursuit.  It meant being called upon, as a tier-one asset of the Commander-in-Chief, to act at any hour on any day for any mission in any part of the world for an untold number of days of which his family would not be privileged to know.

I watched as my husband pushed himself beyond the limits to pass the rigorous requirements to join this team.  He was a freight train I couldn’t stop so I just got on board regardless of what it meant for our family…and I prayed.  Then, halfway through the week of intense physical, technical, and mental screening, the psychologist asked, “What does your wife think of this pursuit?”  Todd didn’t know.  Which caused Todd to question, “what does the Lord think?”  Todd hadn’t asked.  With his final interview before the board the following day, he hit his knees and searched the Word all night long with the same vigor that he had given to this special command.  God was faithful to answer, “I want you to pursue Me and My Word with as much passion as you have this position.” When the sun came up Todd faced the Review Board in his Service Dress Blues uniform with his answer: “Thank you for this privilege; I’m going home to my family.”

The freight train came to a screeching halt…and changed tracks.  You can imagine this thrill-seekers delight upon his discovery that “at His right hand are pleasures forevermore,” and that not only was it okay to seek God for his own thrill, it was what he was made for—to enjoy Him.  Utmost joy.  Utmost delight.  Utmost satisfaction.  And it’s right.  In doing so it is loving God.  And it is an endless reward—not bronze, gold, or silver but Christ Himself.

When once Todd’s passion was for his own glory and pleasure, he now undoubtedly and perseveringly has a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.  Where the seed was planted years ago now stands a green olive tree thriving in the house of his God.

As his wife, I have been baffled by his transformation and the passion with which he pursues the knowledge of God.  He couldn’t finish a brochure before all of this; now he flies through Christian literature faster than can deliver them.  His heavy weight lifting is benching Grudem’s Systematic Theology (for training in godliness).  He keeps Greek flash cards on his person like a concealed weapon.  Where he used to surf on dawn patrol he rises early for prayer.   We have to budget for his coffee shop meetings with brothers.  Most notably Todd is the Officer In Charge turned tender pastor of three little men and their mommy.

Bethlehem Seminary is Todd’s SEAL Team Six where he is trained and equipped to lead men into battle.  But this pursuit is markedly different from all the rest; it’s not for a glory job or from misplaced passions.  He’s not seeking position or his own pride.  And he certainly doesn’t flex his spiritual muscles for anyone.  He just wants to enjoy Jesus on a deeper level and see that many are awakened to His joy.  

I whole-heartedly stand behind Todd in this pursuit. It is a decision we made and prayerfully sought together and I happily trust God for what it means for our family.  If the Lord is willing that we attend, I know it’s going to be a challenge on a whole different level; Todd hasn’t written a works-cited paper since the Naval Academy over nine years ago and that was probably over a yawner of a discussion of Naval History.  But God has been writing His Word on Todd’s heart and exciting him about His story, which is absolutely no yawner.  And if I know anything about my husband, the intense and demanding rigor of a Bethlehem Seminary education is, to him, an invitation to know Jesus--his ultimate thrill.

Groundhog came out of his burrow...

I know, I know Groundhog Day was exactly one month ago...but it took me that long to get back to blogging after laboring over this little paper child and licking all the envelopes to deliver him ;)  
Or in other words, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2nd and went back in for four more here ya go! :)

Really, I just wanted to wet your whistle for more news to come of God's faithfulness and perfect timing! (I promise I won't go back into my burrow before I post the follow up!)