Monday, December 11, 2006
However today I just had to blog about our Small Group last night. We had a time to go around and each share a way in which God has grown us this year, or made Himself known to us. It was a wonderful time of reflection and sharing. Here is what was impossible to miss - although we are 8 families in different life stages we are all journeying a similiar road. Coincedence? Maybe.
The central themes running through our discussion last night centered on: contentment, surrender, witness and relationship. We may have used different words but the themes kept colliding. I have expressed before in this blog that I am thankful for the friendships we share with our coworkers at Central and I am. I am also thankful for the friendships in this small group. Few of us would have naturally just bonded due to age, bible class, life stage, interests, synergy - but here in this mini-version of church we have come together and are able to laugh, tease, cry, kick each other with our big heels (sorry Steven) and know without a doubt that people have our back, all because of Jesus. Powerful. Energizing. Intimate. Refreshing.
Got my Christmas fever blister erupting beautfully off my lip - most big events in life are graced with the onset of the old stress revealing fever blister. I will blame this one on the 15 page paper from Lev. 25 that I submitted today,because surely it would not be from the glad tidings and joy of the Festive Season!!!!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Seriously, there is a lot to boycott Walmart over: Environmental practice, Monopoly, Sweat Shops, Building practice, Employment practice - all worthy of our effort....but we still shop there and enjoy the smiley face every day low prices!
However, the Christian community is up in arms about Sams and Walmart giving a percentage of profits this holiday weekend to the Gay and Lesbian community. Here is the deal - if we are prepared to call out "sin" and "take a stand" like this, surely we will boycott everytime someone greedy, prideful, arrogant, drunk, untruthful, unethical, racist, uncaring to their parents, profits from anything that Walmart does. You get the picture.
Living in a capitalistic, western society makes carrying these "boycott ideals" impossible to live up to. You can not travel too far down this road until you are made to look like a fool. Take investments for example: if you want to invest your money with a mutual fund that only has holdings that are green, ethical, biblical (one may say) you will not make too much money. These funds are outperformed in the market constantly. I do not see many in the Christian community boycotting the big daddy investment choices and opting to lose money on their investments by "taking a stand."
I herald those who are trying to be as consistent as possible in every aspect of trade they participate in - talk to anyone involved in this lifestyle and you will see it takes time, effort and extra dollars to live this way.
My issue lies with a group of people who see the word gay or lesbian, throw a hissy-fit and think God would have them boycott a store as His way of being the Kingdom. Please.
"Congratulations TO ALL THE KIDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because...... WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have PlayStation's, Nintendo, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms. WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
School sports had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TODEAL WITH IT ALL!"
Thursday, November 16, 2006
2.My friend from Indianapolis, who shall remain nameless, called a Tumbleweed a "Freakin' large dead bush." She is way too smart not to have identified said bush correctly, she is just way too embarrased to admit she lives someplace that has Tumbleweed!
3. I am the only human being I know that did not watch Dancing with the Stars, but I did catch enough news about it to be excited that Emmitt won. He is a personal favorite anyway. I wonder what kinda' moves Dieonn Sanders could produce for a show like this - hmmm.
4. Studio 60 is still on my "Best of TV" list for all times. Although I share this with perhaps only 5 other people in the entire nation. Its future appears precarious.
5. Red Robin's hamburgers are too greasy/fatty/rich for me. Proved this to be true after eating only 1/2 of one yesterday. Enough said.
6. For parents of school going kids, November/December is beginning to resemble May - way too many things going on.
7. Snopes.com should be mandatory for anyone sending on a "Forward." So much right wing fear and conspiracy theorizing could be laid to rest, among other issues.
8. My friend was diagnosed with cancer, had her first chemo treatment, lost her hair and now her pathology reports are supposedly clear. Short version of very long story. She now is struggling with the question....misdiagnosis or miraculous healing? Should not be a forward you receive or on Snopes - true story.
9. If you do not ordinarily see R rated moves, Borat is not the one to get your feet wet with....or (ahem, cough cough) so I am told, from say a friend, who may have perchance seen the movie. Yuck. You should be okay unless you are female, from a Jewish background, are sensitive to the plight of the marginal, Christian, morally upstanding....so far the tally is not in my favor.
10. My husband won his first Fantasty Football game of the season last weekend. It has been a long and dry season for him. Victory was sweet. Moral of the story, maybe South Africans should stick to Rugby.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I can tell though. I know that my faith walk is in part about me and God and I have that connection. But a huge part of it is the community of faith. I feel disconnected and I hate that. I have missed the power of worship together. No, it has not stopped me worshipping, but one of my primary pathways to God is through the engaging presence of God among the body.
I am thankful today for worship and preaching that you miss when you don't experience it. Now there' s a gift.
Monday, November 06, 2006
There is quite a controversy brewing in both churched and unchurched circles around the sincerity of the confession from Ted Haggard because it seems more reactionary than proactive etc. That is not where I want to camp. This whole "bruhaha" has got me thinking about some things.
1.It seems to me that so often this stuff is not really about sex, but about power.
2.We sometimes set people up by placing them on such high pedestals that they are tempted to think they are "above falling."
3. Linked to the attraction of power goes the thinking, "I will behave this way because I can."
4.Appearance is what we value in church, not struggle.
5.Whether this applies fully to Ted or not, we have so burdened those with the guilt and shame of same sex attraction that they feel out of God's grace.
6.Ministers are sometimes the last to seek accountability in spiritual friendships.
7.We do not practice truth telling.
8.Satan routinely attacks spiritual men (all men really) with Sexual temptation.
9.Once we begin living a lie, it takes a life of lying to cover it up.
10.Our actions always have repercussions that hurt the ones we love the most.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
"By the way, your blog says "What I'm thinking even if I don't say it..." Give me a break. An unspoken thought? You?"
Shut up! Uh-huh, and this from one whom I love. Way to go, "Elder" Scott, that's the way to build up the flock. Okay, so technically I am not your flock. Seriously, I just love the whole friendship thing and the intimate knowing of another soul and sharing the journey together and yada yada yada.....
Monday, October 30, 2006
Well today I decided to make Lemon Poppyseed bread for our School teachers, Ministry Assistants and Custodial Staff. I thought the yellow and black of the bread would be fun for Halloween. And on the little cards I wrote, "life would be scary without you!" Okay so, Poet Laureat I am not. But, after I made peace with the cheese factor of what I had written, something really hit me. Life really would be scary without all the people inbetween each and every process and product that we take for granted. For every Ministry Assistant that keeps church offices running, thank you. For every person that handles a loaf of bread from the harvesting process to make the flour to the stocking of a loaf at my local Walmart. Wow. It is amazing to think what it takes for us to have the conveniences we have.
So from a cheesy gift attachment to a serious reflection. Life would be scary without all the people inbetween that we rarely get to see or acknowledge.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Today David and I spent a good 2 hours talking about some issues related to Obama, the potential for him to be President and other political stuff. Here is the quandry we find ourselves in. I think David has seen a spark of hope from Obama. Something that looks different to the usual political package. He sees him as having the potential to influence the beast called Government and shape it - even a little. I, on the otherhand, although incredibly impressed by him feel cynical enough to doubt that real change can be affected. Just being part of the political machine seems to make me doubt if you can affect real change. It makes me wonder if people like Oprah and Bono could do what they do if they were tied to Government. Hmmm....makes me think.
Neither of us being citizens means that we don't get to vote. But, for the first time in a long time I think America may have someone in view that would be worth voting for. Seeing as though David Palmer was killed off during the last season of 24.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
I have just had the final weekend block of the class I having been taking with Gailyn van Rheenen. It was fabulous on every front. (Church Planting and Development). My head is full of soundbites, my fingers have typed over 60 pages of notes and I have done 6 papers with 1 big daddy one to go and I have had 2 weekends of lecture and intense discussion. Needless to say, and here it comes, ...."I need somewhere to land this stuff." I need to dig through it all to get my thoughts in order and have some solid principles established. But, there is so much to think about. It hurts.
My desire is to think theologically about missional church and about discipleship. I have thoughts gathered from Gailyn, from books by Ogden, Frazee, Webber, Stetzer, Rainer -so none of this is original to me. It's a tapestry of others thoughts that I am processing.
It starts with Missio Dei - the very nature of God is that He calls and sends. He forms us into distinctive communities that reflect the redemptive reign of God (Kingdom) in the coming of Christ and in the becoming like Christ (Incarnation). Together we journey(Community), maturing into Christ formed followers (Spiritual Formation) who in the power of the Spirit begin shaping others into Christ formed followers (Equipping).
I know that these are clumsy sentences, but this isn't a neat little simple process either.
Yikes, it's time to pick up kids. Wanna-be theologian out...Mom in!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
"Mom, .....(school friend who shall remain nameless) is always pushing and shoving. He is not very nice. The teacher keeps telling him to keep his hands to himself but he doesn't. I bet he won't go to heaven."
Oh my gosh!!!!! My stomach landed somewhere in my throat and I began a discussion about the difference between not knowing and following Jesus versus just making some poor choices. Seriously, we are not judgemental, dogmatic, intolerant people...really, we're not :-)!!!
These are the two things that I am moved by. The first is the idea of God running, looking for us. It is the image of God always being a seeker of humanity. He does not need us, he wants us as Mark Hall from Casting Crowns writes. The second is the fact that He is our overflow and the fountain of our heart. What a beautiful image and a challenge for life.
God, You have done great things
God, You give grace to the weak
And bless the brokenhearted
With a song of praise to sing
You reached down and lifted us up
You came running, looking for us
And now there's nothing
And no one beyond Your love
You're the overflow
You're the fountain of my heart
Let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
You're the faithful one
When the world's falling apart
Let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
How deep, how wide, how long,
how high is Your love
... is Your loveHow deep, how wide, how long, how high is Your love ... is Your love
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
All that to say that my leaning toward "all things reflective and deep" has taken me to a weird place recently. This may appear quite juvenile and very "middle school" to the casual observer, but hear me out. I had a dream that has been the catalyst for reconnecting with a few people that have been significant to me...as David, so maturely calls it getting with all my old boyfriends. Not true, exactly. I did have a very special friendship with one of the missionaries' sons who worked in the town where I grew up. Him and I were like best buds on many levels for years and we meddled in the "relationship" water as young teens, but because of the type of friendship we already had, that was less than successful. The collision of several circumstances led to great distance between us and that has never been repaired. While telling someone part of my faith story recently it struck me that he was such a huge part of the story. I can not tell that part of my life without talking about him. It was gut wrenching to me to realize that I had allowed time, space, distance and unexplained situations ruin that relationship. I need on some level for all of that to be okay. I have uncovered an email address for him and have sent him a message, so who knows. I needed to say sorry about some stuff and at least tell him how important he has been in the story of my life.
Now, the other is a little more "soap-operish", but still very valid to me. During this same early teen time, I had a short 3 month relationship, that was very intense emotionally for our age and maturity level at the time. I ended it for reasons I am not sure of now, but that "someone" has been my brother-in-law for 20 years. Oh so complicated and inappropriate. Within the year of this little 3 month thing ending, I began dating David and well the rest is history. His brother (just to clarify, he is single - so I am not complicating anyone else's life)and I have had many reasons to be together over the years and there has always been a "weird" thing between us. Now given, it is 25 years ago and it was only a 3 month teen thing, it was never really resolved. Without all the details, I have internalized a tremendous amount of stuff from this relationship and never dealt with it. Well, I made a cell phone call on Saturday to him (given it is my brother-in-law, people - talk about feeling lame) and we talked in general terms about stuff and I put the phone down knowing that he is okay with me and relieved to find out that we both have a mutual family love for each other and he has not spent the last 20+ years hating me.
Now for those of you who think I have a counselling project to do (or I need counselling), or that I am dying from some deaded disease - I am not, that I know of. But, I do think this big birthday that is looming ahead of me, has me reflecting on what is important and what has shaped the first 40 years. Regardless of how small or irrelevant these two relationships may seem on the outside, they have played a part in shaping my heart and I needed to make peace with them. The people involved are too important to me to let it go anymore.
I feel so much better and who knew?
Friday, October 06, 2006
Here's the thing. Yesterday while making plans for today's lunch a class buddy and I discovered that Harold's was no longer in business. We could not believe it - you mean we came to Abilene to take a class for nothing! But, the truth will set you free, people. It was a rumor - just a pesky little rumor. So, today we went over there and indulged in the nectar of the gods at Harold's. But we did come to find out that he is trying to sell the business or have someone take it over. If that does not happen, it will close. You realize that this will change the trajectory of dining in the immediate future. Surely, the powers that be will not let it happen. Hmmm.... maybe ACU could acquire it. It could be the new facility for the College of Delicious Lunch Sciences. Okay, maybe not.
Now for those of you that think I need therapy because a bbq lunch has made such an impact on me, you are probably right. And I will try to get there right after picking up a brisket sandwich!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Crikey Mate! "The crocodile hunter" Steve Irwin, died in a tragic accident this past weekend and it has really bothered me. Obviously I do not know this man, but from a distance - through the screen, across the ocean and literally halfway around the world - he was able to create intimacy with his viewers so that it felt like you knew him. I think the planet has lost a passionate animal lover, a keen conservationist, fun Dad and good husband.
It is official, Rachel Ray is aiming for world domination. Not only is Miss Super Perky the queen of the 30 minute meal, $40 a day, celebrity food talk, travel, magazines, cook books...now she is hosting a talk show. It makes me smile, because I like Ms. Rachel, she really gets food. Her "yum" is always said with the same intensity of mine.
Now about Survivor. I do not know what to do. I am frustrated that they are dividing the teams by race. Regardless of the outcome, it is just in bad taste. David (who is always so balanced in his views) is encouraging me not to judge before I see it. His advise is to watch, wait and see. I on the other hand feel almost boycott-esque in my view as a protest of the concept regardless of how it plays out. Now you know, the TV execs across the nations are worried about losing my one viewing vote :-) !
Hopefully this stream will run a little deeper tomorrow.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
But, today was so much more. Our preacher swapped pulpits with the preacher from Washington Avenue Christian church today and their preacher came and preached for us. It was fabulous on so many levels. He is a funny, gifted and engaging speaker as well as an insightful teacher. The lesson was great. But the power of the experience was not in the "quality of the speaker or the message." It was in the actual event. It was unity taken a step further - not just a nice goal that is never acted upon, it became an action before our eyes. At the close of the service our elders embraced Jim and he them and they stood arm in arm as we closed singing, "We are the body of Christ." Powerful. Powerful.
The time of worship in song was full and glorifying and our worship leader was able to create a worship environment that drew me in close to God. I feel like I "did" church in a huge way today which helps me "be" church for the rest of the week.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
I couldn't believe that I was wiping away tears induced by animated vehicles who talk. Perhaps that is another blog post for another day. Tears aside, the powerful message about relationships is what is so fantastic about this movie. It really celebrates how we become fully alive only when we are involved in people's lives. It shows a life that has become tired and bitter because of hurt and disappointment turn around and become one of engagement and contribution. It shows another where pride and arrogance are replaced with consideration, love and joy. It shows how we need the involvement of people who love and care for us so that we can blossom into who we are meant to be. Okay, tractor tipping aside - there are some deep messages in this movie.
Oh, and the flies and bugs are all little cars with wingy things - so cute!
I've been meaning to post about Curious George and have not done it yet. Another one I loved.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
When I heard the voice of the "customer service" person on the other side, I thought - Yikes, this is not going to go well. The poor lady sounded like she was having trouble staying awake at best. Anyway, I asked for what I needed and she became rather chatty and the process of purchasing tickets by phone continued fairly well. Almost at the end, she says "hold on a minute. I have a discount card in my purse that they gave us last year when Disney on Ice came through town and I would like for you to use it." I hear random scratching through her purse and a joyful "found it" on the other side. She comes back on the phone and precedes to tell me that it will save me $5 per ticket and she would like to do that for me. I was thrilled as you can imagine - okay so the $5 is not the issue (actually $15 on the 3 tickets) but it was the fact that she wanted to help me that way.
Now those of you that know me, know that I love a great deal. Free if possible. I am the self-proclaimed coupon/rebate/freebie queen and this was just my cup of tea!
Monday, August 21, 2006
I can easily flip flop between Delirious and Caedmon's Call just depending on my mood. I love the new indie band out of Seattle, Hyperstatic Union. On my more "adult, mature days" I love Casting Crowns, MercyMe or Newsboys. On my even more mature days (I am prepared for merciless mockery) I tend to throw back to Philips, Craig and Dean or Dennis Jernigan.
It would be inaccurate if I left out TobyMac. Our house is often rocking with a TobyMac dance party. You can create your own visual for this. Both Spencer and Michaela have some classic moves. Both David and I were blown away by TobyMac in concert - awesome!
I am always a rowdy fan of Tree 63. They birthed and grew out of a Community Church just 45 minutes from where I lived in South Africa. That national pride thing kicks in quite fanatically. Some of my favorites are By The Tree & Telecast. I grew up listening to Pop and Rock that was British and so there is little wonder that I am drawn to the British sound in Christian music.
Then I have my moments, when all I want is that single voice leading me in worship as I sing along. Hands down I love Chris Tomlin. But there are moments when it is Matt Redmon or Bebo Norman. Currently, I am playing my Aaron Schust CD constantly because it is my new favorite and I love every song on it. So many of the songs are great new worship songs I think. Oooh, but that makes me think of the "2 guys with a guitar genre" and I have some favs there too - Monk and Neagle (go Amarillo boys) & Shane and Shane.
So, that is my dilemma. I enjoy a wide range of Christian music, not just one genre. It just depends on the day and the mood. But these that I have listed really are some of my favorites. There are probably more that I have not thought of.
All this to say that on any given day, I love Mat Kearney. I have both of his CD's, Bullet and Nothing Left to Lose - fabulous! This morning I woke up thinking of a few lines from his song Bullet. It's about the cost of true discipleship just put into newer language. Most days, I don't think I reflect this..."I would take a bullet for you, I would cross any line, I'd swim across the sea, I would take a bullet for you, I would take a bullet for you, I would lose it all, I'd take my fall, To show you it's for real." This radical declaration of faithfulness and discipleship is really pulling at me. I think that God is calling me to something more costly in my life.
It took this much of a post on this one type of music. Don't get me started in the larger genre. I literally can flip-flop between... the great musicals (Phantom, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Aspects of Love, Mama Mia, Blood Brothers, 42nd Street, Cats, West Side Story, Joseph, Starlight Express, Sunset Blvd, 5 guys named Moe or the Buddy Holly Story, of which I have seen them all and often spent dollars I did not have because I simply can not resist a great musical)...to Kanye West, Jack Johnson, Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, Phil Collins, Vivaldi, Bee Gees (old stuff) and back again to Andrea Boccelli. Go figure. Music certainly is a gift from God for our pleasure and enjoyement and a return offering to Him.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
"Okay, I'm going to ask.What you are about to read is a first. Could be a last!I need to raise at least $100,000 by October 31, 2006 in order to pay the required acceptance fee to the State of Texas to receive our low-income, housing tax credit award, to keep our architects working on our City Walk @ Akard project and to pay down our food supply account at the North Texas Food Bank.
I have resisted the urge since beginning this blog to use it as a promotional fundraising tool for the work I attempt to accomplish.Actually, I am not giving up on that standard as I make my unusual request.Let me lay out my thinking.Lots of people who visit here on a fairly regular basis express strong opinions that people of faith should really play the leading role in ministry and uplift to the poor in our nation. Others express slightly different views, but no one has said that people of faith should not be involved.Then, there are lots of people who visit this space whose lives may or may not be shaped by faith. I can't really tell. And, of course, everyone is welcome--we need everyone and every perspective here. Still, folks without faith care a great deal about the plight of the poor and underclass in our country, as well as around the world.So, let's all get down to business.I need to raise $100,000.
Here's how you can help me do it.Stop reading.Write me a check.Or, if you prefer, reach into your wallet or purse and pull out a $1 or a $5 or a $10 or a $20 or a $50 or a $100 dollar bill and mail it to me right now.I guarantee that every penny will go toward the fulfillment of our vision for City Walk @ Akard, our housing development in Downtown Dallas designed especially for low-income and homeless persons, and toward paying for food for low-income families.I believe in the power of grassroots movements.I don't think we will be successful over the long haul if we don't have that kind of involvement and "downward" engagement as we move forward into even larger, more costly and demanding efforts.So, if you really care about the homeless and the poor in Dallas, send me a contribution.It doesn't matter where you live. We need national help to create a model that others can use, adapt and act off of. You can help us build it.
You may or may not care, but every penny given is tax deductible and you will receive a written record of your gift, if you include your address.I want to see how serious the readers in this blog community are about the poor.Make your checks payable to Central Dallas Ministries and mail them or your cash donations to:Larry James' Urban Daily, Central Dallas Ministries, P. O. Box 710385, Dallas, Texas 75371-0385.Oh, and one more very important part of my very serious request:Please forward this post to everyone you know who cares about poverty and real life solutions to its pain and challenge.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.By the way, you can read more about both projects by scrolling back in the blog archives or by doing a search of my blog for "Resource Center" and/or "City Walk @ Akard."Thanks for considering my direct request to join our team as a contributing partner. Such requests won't be frequent. However, when I make one, you can know that it is serious and important."
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Armchair Mystic. It would help me focus the "alone time."
4. One book that made you laugh: Soul Salsa - I love the intensity of Len Sweet's style and the dry humor.
5. One book that made you cry: Nelson Mandela - a Biography. I am proud to say that this man was the president of my country. Potentially he is the only person who was capable of presiding over a country during the years of transition from Apartheid to Democracy, and he did with grace.
6. One book you wish had been written: "10 easy steps to moving churches from institutional to missional" - teehee, just makes me smile thinking that any of those steps would be easy.
7. One book you wish had never been written: Baby Wise. It just about put my husband and I in the grave trying to put a two week old baby on a schedule. We celebrated by "trashing" it and going with our gut!
8. One book you’re currently reading: The Young Evangelicals by Robert E. Webber
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren
10. Tag 5 others: Amy Grant, Angela Bruce, Dena Johnson, Don Eudayle, Gina Robinson - Bek, if you could find your password I would have tagged you too....
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Habitat House Post:
Don, this is a picture of the completed house. Giving this family the dignity of a place to call home is truly kingdom work.
Amy Stroup Post:
Jim, it is amazing that you know the Stroup's. Our children's minister, Ken Danley, has been a family friend of theirs for years. I know we laugh about this, but it is one of the cool things (most of the time) about churches of Christ - there is no real degree of seperation.
Have a blessed day.
Friday, August 04, 2006
If you are thinking of doing a concert and need a good artist, get hold of Amy. She is really growing her career as an "inde" artist and you will be blessed by the depth of her lyrics and the singability of her music. Check out amystroup.com (the site was having some issues, so if you don't get it first time, keep trying).
Amy grew up in Abilene and she has written a song called "chasing greenlights." She tells of how often when driving down Tredaway Blvd. in Abilene she would get caught at every red light. Soon enough she learned that if she drove at 28 miles, she could catch them all green. Her point is that when we allow God to drive, he enables us to hit the green lights and we can make our way through life (not for one minute saying it will be a road without struggles, but He will walk with us). However, when we are in control and keep wanting to yank back our life control we so often just hit red light after red light.
That seemed pertinent for me today. I think I will spend the rest of my life having to hand back control to the real driver.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Yes, this has been fun for me, but most importantly, I think we get to witness a family gain some dignity as they begin a new life in a place they can proudly call home.
Friday, July 28, 2006
I believe the major thrusts of the book are two fold. The first thrust being the barriers to living in authentic Christian community. Namely the implications and consequences of Individualism, Isolation and Consumerism. And the second thrust being the rediscovery of what it takes to initiate and enable authentic community. Namely, commonality in purpose, place and possessions.
This is not my first experience with this book and I am still not completely convinced that I fully embrace the model in its entirety. There is undisputable truth revealed in the discussion, as well as examples that appear to be somewhat common in all North American contexts currently. However, I think the real strength in the work will be the ability to contextualize the essence and not try to mimic the model.
While there is an overarching need in North America for real community experiences it seems we would oversimplify the issue by saying the need is the same no matter the context. Frazee writes this book out of the context of Arlington, Texas. Metroplex city sprawl has people crying out for community because their lives have been reduced to work, travel, home and non relaxing entertainment. However, there are boroughs in our largest cities that still have a powerful sense of community. People who live in the Bronx and Queens who have shopped at the same family owned deli and grocery for years, who still live in row housing, who walk to work or bus stop do not have the same level of community need simply because of their setting. They have roots with history and meaning. Here in Amarillo, the culture is such that generations of family units live close and work in family businesses and attend the same churches. They still have need for authentic biblical community simply because that is how God created us to be, but the needs are different once again. It would be an oversight not to realize that people are moving into both neighborhoods in the Bronx as well as Amarillo, Texas and thus their needs for community will be greater than those whose history has rooted them in natural community.
If community in any form was the goal, I could see the book not applying in certain settings, but the goal is authentic Christian community. And for most church going believers in North America in 2006 they can not escape the consequences of Individualism, Isolation and Consumerism on their faith. Thus, the barriers he delineates are pertinent to the conversation if we are to take seriously the living out of church and discipleship on a daily basis. We may even be able to ignore them if our position is merely to “go to church” but we certainly can’t ignore them if we want to “be the church.”
The implications of Individualism are too extensive to discuss exhaustively in a blog post but in essence I believe we have been left incomplete because of it. Our language, our experiences, our faith and our families are functioning at a sub-par level because we do not look like the one who we were created to reflect. God in essence is community. Three in one from the beginning. Jesus’ model for church life, church planting, mentorship, teaching and sharing life included community groups of differing sizes. In the darkest times, he was away but not alone. He communed with the Father.
As we recognize the impact of America’s history and the “rugged individualism” that emerged because of it, the idea of becoming a communally-dependant society is a Kingdom value and not a typical American one. Frazee suggests commonality of purpose as the key to overcoming this barrier to community. The idea is that when we come together around shared beliefs, values and practices we begin the sacred work of transformation. People begin to look like Christ and that is the central mission that draws together a community of Christians. The focus of the spiritual life is to not to satisfy our own needs and desires but to love God completely and out of that source we love each other. I am very impressed with the 30 core beliefs and the small group covenant that Pantego use to shape their people for community. I value the idea of a developed, intentional and articulated statement of belief. It is no surprise that people are able to identify with it and feel connected to something larger than themselves. It is also important to note that this is not merely a cognitive exercise for these believers but rather it is one that intends to saturate their life so that the way they live and see life is changed. I also believe in the model of multi-layer groups. Belonging in larger settings like corporate worship experiences, mid-size settings of Bible Classes and small intimate home groups all fulfill a specific role and need.
However, I have questions and struggles thinking about the practical implementation of this model for church plants in post-modern America. I do not believe for one minute that Frazee was intending to map out a system for church planting, but I am reading this material in relation to application for church planting. Understanding that this has worked well at Pantego and that I have never planted a church, I am hesitant to present myself as a critic, but rather a learner with question. And so, I wonder about taking post-modern thinkers and trying to unite around common beliefs as step one. Generally this audience is quite skeptical about organized church and how it is presented. Uniting around core beliefs would seem to be several steps along in the process. I also wonder about where theological teaching happens. Pantego’s answer was in the midsize groups and I think this is probably best. However, in church plants do we have the luxury of this type of system, or do our home groups become both intimate community and learning laboratory? I embrace the ideas as concepts but wonder how they look fleshed out in church plants.
My mind is pondering this so much that I will stop here and leave the next 2 barriers (Isolation and Consumerism) to rattle around in my head and not on my blog.
I am not sure that the model of small group community presented in this book is attractive to me (can I say that without being labelled consumeristic?). I understand that missional living and true community can happen best when lived out authentically in one's place of business, school, work and neighborhood. I get that. I am not sure though that I can fully embrace the intensity of it. Bottom line, I get bored too quicky. If I feel like I have to be with the same people, all the time, I tend to flee. It is a very strange trait, and I know that already. I have a circle of friends that I share great intimacy and community with. I love that, but it seems so spontaneous and creative still, compared to the "mandated" manner in which this small group system of Frazee's appears. Bottom line, I think I tend to lose interest and get bored with something (even as necessary as communtiy) when I am backed into a corner and have no option for change or reinvention.
Having said that, I understand the point of the system laid out in the book, is to make community "all of life" and not a system or a program. It is a way of being in the world, the church and in life. I know that in my head, I can't get my heart to go there completely.
But here is one thing I have loved from this book. Frazee talks about community forming around common belief. It is a rare thing to truly share common beliefs on theological issues. He sees this as a barrier to community. I have never thought of this and sometimes even pride myself on "being different" to the group. So, I have explored this idea and pulled the "30 core beliefs" from the Pantego church website. The reason it is making me excited, is that I think I have a core of things I want to teach my kids. Not that they have to flesh out the same way, but so that we can hold up these things and say, "this is what I believe." I love this. It is perhaps the start of them developing a true theology & ecclesiology.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
Last night while watching Anderson Cooper 360 (I just love saying that phrase) I heard an Israeli tour guide, who is also a Christian, commenting on a well visited tourist site which recreates a village from the time of Jesus. He was noting the obvious drop in tour groups coming to the area given the current situation but then made a profound statement..."for me, peace is in my heart and it does not matter about Jew or Arab. It is Jesus that gives peace."
Wow - I struggle to say that on a daily basis living in a time of peace. Or is it that I am living in a time of peace, and that is why I struggle to say it?
And secondly. I hear that in reference to stem cell research the President does not want to use tax dollars to destroy life. Hmm, and Iraq would be... and the cuts in health, housing and welfare budgets for the most marginal in this country would be...
(just my opinion - no one send me hate mail).
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Here is the dilemma. I am not sure I love seeing the impact of Disney channel on my 10 year old. Her whole life has begun to revolve around the characters of these ubiquitous tween shows. Some of this is normal "girl-of-her-age" behaviour but it seems a little extreme. We have limits about how much can be watched etc...but all of her friends are also watching these shows and so their conversations revolve around episodes etc also.
So, we are asking these questions:
1.Do we get rid of dish and go back to the standard 5 channels - which essentially leaves nothing for Michaela to watch because she is too old for PBS kids and too young for most anything else on evening TV.
2.Do we ditch the TV completely and go TV-free. (Both David and I could do this fairly easily)
And here is the bind...
1. We do not want to appear "holier than thou" and out of touch with reality to our kids and make them resent our lives based on something like TV.....(okay, so now are we Amish..)
2. We do not want to be so far removed from our culture that we do not have connecting points with people.
3. Is Michaela showing regular behaviour that we do not recognize because of cultural differences in how we grew up in South Africa and how kids grow up here. Is it normal to have several lines from several episodes memorized and be able to quote them at any given moment. Is it normal for her and her friends to spend hours talking about these shows, their characters etc etc.....
Our primary concern is not making our kids happy or having them like us. We will do what it takes to make the best life choice for them. It's hard to know which choice that is...
Help me people...
Friday, July 14, 2006
I'm in the middle of one of these phases right now. And it has me thinking. When Jesus does His business in us a similar thing happens. He cleans us all out, reshapes, reorganizes and puts us back together and we start new. I love that. What's better is that His Spirit protects what He reshapes and maintains us.
I can keep cabinets straight. I am so thankful that it is God's powerful work that keeps me straight.
Going to hear Rob Bell speak tonight...so excited!
Monday, July 10, 2006
World Cup soccer is probably a bigger deal to us immigrant types who now reside in the US than the average American population. Notably the rest of the world has literally come to a grinding halt while the games were played. Soccer truly has a power far beyond the ball.
If you happened to catch the final yesterday you had to see the foul that will remain the talk of the soccer world for years. A French player, literally head butt one of the Italian players in the mid torso for no apparent reason besides perhaps reaction to some sport trash talk. The jury is still out on the reasons behind the behavior and some interesting factoid may arise, but nothing that would warrant such a thing. This was not just any player either, it was a legend. A hero to millions of kids. One of the all time greats. His retirement is marked with a game ejection and the world looking on in disbelief.
It got me thinking about how I treat people. How I handle their hearts. While my actions are appropriate, are my words headers to the heart? When I walk off the field for the day, have I left chaos in my wake or have I been able to pour soothing oil over the broken? Have my judgments disguised as concern ripped into already hurt souls. Have my intentions and motives been checked so that what I say and do reflect the one to whom I direct my praise?
Here is the main difference between what I saw yesterday on TV and my life in Christ. Even when I do not conduct myself in the way He desires, God does not eject me from the game, ever, no matter what the situation. I am never out of chances and I can not foul out the game. That's already covered by the gift of blood that He gave. And the best part is so counter cultural that its hard to explain. Because of the blood, I don't really want to foul anymore. I want to play hard but well. I want to live up to His reputation. I want to represent the team well. I want to ache when I think that my words or actions were headers to the heart of another.
Friday, July 07, 2006
I am not sure if my current self reflection posture is due to the following things or just a phase.
1. I came through a really hard set of surgeries earlier this year that have taken a toll on my emotional state.
2. I see my 40th birthday looming early next year and I can not fathom that I am going to be 40. I know that is not old, but it seems like I would feel like an adult by now.
3. My baby goes to Kindergarten in the Fall.
4. My firstborn has a body that is developing and looking way more like a 14 year old than a 10 year old.
5. I am in a place where I am not comfortable with my shell - I am heavier and just frumpier than ever. That is in the process of changing because I have begun to take charge of that department!
6. I have come through some Spiritual growth and change this last few months.
Well there - I feel better already :-)!
Because Spencer will begin Kindergarten in the Fall I am having to decide what the next phase of my life will look like. I need to find a part time job to begin stashing away more college $ for these "chickens" and for us to save to go home every couple of years. That would be the responsible thing to do, hey. Well, not what I've chosen. I am going back to school. I am going to pursue my MA in Ministry from ACU as an off campus student. I came to this after almost 18 months of toying with the idea. If I am entering the phase of life when I am realistically going to rejoin the work force till College bills are paid I need to be doing what I am passionate about. I am passionate about Ministry. My Undergraduate degree in Bible was fabulous but I just doubt it is going to get me the kind of ministry job I am gifted for. So, I will hit the books again and probably be 100 by the time I finally graduate.
This decision has led me down the road of asking a set of questions about myself. What am I good at? Where do my gifts lie? What inspires me? What drains me? All of these answers intending to lead me to make a good choice in the next chapter of life. The jury is still out on some of the stuff. But here is what I think today. I think my gifts lie in the area of "shepherding." I love people and have a heart that is inspired by people, their story and their struggle. I am energized by deep and intimate times with people. When I look at my history and how I am currently functioning I think the evidence supports this claim. I have some other marketable skills but when I look at how I hope to function in full time ministry one day, I think I have found my sweet spot. Eldering or Shepherding may not be the role, but I can see myself as a "Minister of Congregational Care" or "Body life Minister."
Who knows what the future will bring. If I have learned anything I know that we don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Who knows how much of this degree I will actually get done or if it will lead to full time ministry. All I know is that I am being thrust into a new phase of life that is requiring me to look at some things and make some choices.
Some of the ways I have previously defined myself:
1. Stay at home Mom of preschooler aswell as elementary school child
2. Thinking of myself as a peer to young adults who actually see me as their parents friend :-)
3. Non student
4. & more...
These definitions are changing..... All of which seem wrapped up in the question, "Who Am I."
Friday, June 30, 2006
So much has taken place here that my head is swimming with thoughts and ideas, questions and plans. I love that the 2 streams in our fellowships have taken 2006 as a year to make an effort to work together and act like family. I love the hope that it holds out for the future. I love the impact it is making all across the world as mission teams unite (Mozambique, Kenya etc), as American churches serve the hurting together (Gulf coast), as US churches merge (Seattle, Washington) and as others partner to pray and get to know each other. No one is asking for us to give up our unique congregations and be one but we are being asked to work alongside each other so that God is glorified. How cool is that!As Jeff Walling said last night, it is time for us to stop acting "nice" (emotionally removed, pleasant but distant) and start acting like family (intimately connected at the core).
100 years of division and family feuding is not taken away in a one year unity effort, but I can testify that more has been accomplished over the last 6 months than either Rick Atchley or Bob Russell could have dreamed of. Last night Jeff Walling and Dave Stone (preacher at SouthEast Christian) swaped bibles and so did many others representing our churches, colleges, worship teams and other organizations. The stage was full of people hugging each other holding each others bibles as symbols of unity with tears streaming down their cheeks. It was history in the making - a new chapter. One that I am proud to hand down to my kids. We were there. Wow.
There was so much more. I can barely recount at a keyboard all that took place. I am thankful to have been a witness to it and to have the plea for unity for God's glory on my heart.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Last night while watching the final game in the NBA playoffs I was struck by something, and it was not an airball by the Mavs. I am a Mavericks fan and I think they have come a long way. I like Mark Cuban's off the wall ways and I think Avery Johnson is a gem. Do wish he would smile a little more often. All that time spent with Tim Duncan has left him a little emotionally comatose in my opinion. Love Tim too...however. Given that I am a Mavs fan, I am saying this with all due respect for what they have accomplished.
The Heat looked like they believed they deserved to be in the finals last night. Their body language, their comments, their focus - all told the same story. The Mavericks acted like they were lucky to be there. Their demeanor was markedly different to Miami. In some ways it was like they had won a spot in the game and not earned it. I am not a sports psychologist or analyst but if I could see this surely anyone could.
It made me think about how we live our life in Christ. Do we live in such a way that we believe that God loves us so passionately that He sent His Son to die for us and the world? Do we see ourselves as cleansed in Him? Do we believe that He pursues us with a love like no other? And as Max says, do we believe that if God carried a wallet, our picture would be in it?
I think that when we are living a life that reflects the power of the spirit and the unconditional love of Jesus, we truly advance the Kingdom in ways that He desires. We join Him in the work that He is already doing and we become His mouthpiece, hand, foot, arms etc.
However, when we live in such a way that shows the world that we only half think we are worthy of being a Christian and we don't really embrace the idea that God desires to be with us we do little more than hinder the work He is already doing in the world.
I am not suggesting that we live in arrogance and pride, but I do think we can confidently know that God is God and He knew us before we were born, and has great plans for us that will make our lives more complete in the Kingdom and He in the quite, longs to sing over us if we will be still long enough to hear Him. God makes us worthy.
Monday, June 19, 2006
I just got back from a few days in Chicago at an Arts Conference at Willow Creek Community Church. I have been there before in 2000 and was quite amazed and "gob-smacked" at how they do church. In fact as one friends says, it takes about 3 months to reacclamate to normal church after a Willow experience. However, this year I was doubly amazed and even more "gob-smacked." Obviously, they pulled out all the stops with a crowd full of Artsy folks. In many ways it was like drinking from a pool of refreshing water that was inspiring and regenerating. In other ways it could be the most depressing thing to contemplate that "we'll never be able to ...."(fill in the blank). It depends on how you choose to look at things and see God working. Instead of depressing me this time, I think I was able to see God's mighty hand all over Willow and how they inspire others to be just a little better and then to see what the potential is for us. Delirious recorded a live CD and DVD on the Tuesday night and we got to be part of that. It was fabulous - awesomely incredible. Yes, I liked it. Although it was a quick day and a half it was great.
Fathers Day rolled around on Sunday and church was literally more than I could bare. I miss my Dad obviously (29 years later, and there is still an ache there). But the clincher was our theme of being "Fathers to the Fatherless." Wow, it was incredible. Dan preached through the texts that call us to be champions of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the marginal - the Fatherless. They showed a video piece from World Vision that outlined the millions of children around the world who are left fatherless from AIDS. Christian Relief Fund was there and they had packets for people to take and adopt a child. Dan in his alter call, asked if instead of walking down the aisle to save ourselves, we would walk down the aisle to save the life of another. The aisles were packed - Christian Relief Fund ran out of packets there were so many people waiting to be a Father to the Fatherless.
My friend Missy has infected toes from a youth trip, Elevations. She jarrred them so much while coming down the mountain in Colorado that her toes are infected and in fact her feet are too. She had no downtime between Elevations and Youthwave, so she called me from Urgent Care in Austin last night to tell me the toe news. I can barely stand the thought of that pain - sore feet are bad enough.
And the final random entry is about the new look of the blog. My friend Angela, who has been moonlighting as my tech support dropped a site meter on my blog and set up my link list. We discovered that I needed a new template because of issues I was having with the old one and so this is the new look. It is so much fun to have someone who knows what they are doing and I just email her and tell her what I need and then magically it appears and works. I am trying to get her to do the same with laundry, house cleaning etc, but she hasn't taken the hint.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
In South Africa and other British Colonies they are known as Marie's. I believe in Mexico, Guatemala, Spain and several other Latin countries they are called Maria's. In Paraguay they are called Mana's.
But here's the thing - the packaging looks similar no matter the country, manufacturer or language. The actual cookie (what we would call a biscuit) looks the same no matter the country, manufacturer or language. The taste - yes, the taste. You guessed. The same. They are not overly sweet, perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea. They are a deep cream color, round in shape and about 2 inches wide, with a Greek inspired imprint around the border. They are perfectly crunchy without being too well cooked. This single layer delight needs no filling, icing or chocolate to make them delicious.
It is hard to ignore how soccer unifies the world during a World Cup year and as one famous coach was quoted as saying, "Soccer is not life and death, it is so much more." I agree - this sport played in more places that we can count, and this World Cup, watched by more people than any other event in the world is something.
But can you imagine the potential for unity if we all brought our Marie's, Maria's and Mana's to the table with a good cuppa' tea?
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Churches of christ were not havens for these kinds, I promise. My Dad was our "song leader." That meant he sat on the front pew, thumbed through the blue book and selected a few songs and lead them. But, short of that, there was no room in the inn for those who God gifted in this way. I saw it and noticed that he didn't really fit in, but what were the options?
Last night, and tons of times in the last 5 years I have been able to say, "this one is for you, Dad." Our Wednesday evening summer program began and we do Central Perk, which is a worship, experiential themed evening each week. While moving between stations, a lady from our congregation came to me, just sobbing. She is an artist. All she could say as we prayed was "thank you Jesus, for us being able to do this" over and over again. The heart of the artist was touched and she felt like she could be free and authentically herself. If nothing else significant happens during Central Perk this summer, it doesn't matter to me. One spiritually starved artist among us in this fellowship was able to sit at the banquet table and feast last night. I know God has more for us at Central Perk this summer because He always does, but I am filled from just that. That one was for you Dad.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I have mentioned before that we have a special friend, who now has a blog, and her name is Bek. She is not only a friend of mine, but a friend of our family. She jokes that she hired us here at Central, and in some aspects she did. She was on our search committee and became a heart friend about 5 minutes after we met. Bek and her family have become our family. I do not mean that in the "cheesy" way that we sometimes say that about general people we go to church with. They have become our family. She is not old enough to be my Mom, but she acts like a grandparent to our kids, she guides and mentors us like a parent, sister and friend. Her home is like home for our kids. Yesterday we went over to have a coke together and visited for a while, she invited the kids to stay while I ran some errands. They of course didn't want to and I had to force them. HA! They jumped on that plan - staying with Bek is always first choice. However, she had already offered to keep them later that evening, so David and I could meet with someone. Well, of course, they landed up fanagling a way to stay with her through dinner and until 10:30 infact. When we picked them up, I hugged and thanked her and tried to express my appreciation. Her response was, "hey, I love to do it - I'm standing in the gap." I have tears running down my face as I type this, because of how much this relationship means to me. This is community.
One of the reasons for the kids being with Bek was so that we could go to Starbucks to visit with Dan and Amy. David has been away for 10 days and so he needed to get caught up on what was happening at the office and I really needed to visit with Dan about some things at church. He is our Senior Minister. David and him work very closely together in ministry and so this was work and play really. However, as we sat and talked about the work of ministry, the joys, the frustrations, the current challenges etc it was evident that we were authentically sharing our lives. This is community.
Today, my friend Missy leaves for 3 weeks. It is summer, Adam and Missy are in youth ministry - need I say more. I think they do Elevations, Youth Wave, and Trek back to back. That translates to them being physically gone from Amarillo for 3 weeks. The rest of the summer will also be frenetic at some points, but at least they'll be home. I am excited that they get to grow our students by sharing these life changing events with them, but I hate not seeing her for all that time. I know that this is nothing compared to her moving to Antarctica say, so I am not trying to be a drama queen. But we have talked about the fact that some days we will talk 5 times on the phone, and we can share whatever is on our hearts in detail. And frankly, just knowing that I don't get to do that while she is working for the next 3 weeks scares me. This is community. (or weird-stalker-like-bad-boundary-friendship you make think :-))
In other words, I am the best version of myself because of the love, support, and friendship of those around me. That is community.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Today however, I was very moved. Whenever I try to break down what made up a service that was so moving, I am unable to do that. That is because I think so much of it depends on where your heart is at the time and what the Spirit is doing in you. Today, I loved the honesty I heard from Dan (not that he lies other weeks :-)). The sermon today served as a mirror for me. The worship time was simple with nothing overly creative, but it touched me deeply. My sense is that God had been invited to participate through every song and prayer and He did. I was moved as I reflected on our church and where we have been over the last 5 years. I was moved as I realized that the path we have chosen (staying down town, new vision and mission etc) is not the one to rapid growth or external success. I was moved when I realized that God has worked and is working and in just a few years I have been witness to life changes in people and a church who has tried to change its image and reputation. Obviously as a part of the ministry team here, I share my husband's frustrations about "the life and work of ministry" and it is easy for me to get aggravated at times. But today I was struck by what a huge task this has been to turn this "country club church" ship to something more on the course of "outpost for the Kingdom."
I confess that sometimes it is easier for me to be irritated by the pettiness of people than to understand them. I confess to also being "covetous" of how other churches do things and have longed to be like them. I confess to having feelings of pride that make me want to be at a church that is more forward thinking, more progressive etc. I try to teach my children that "stuff" does not make a person great. Yet, I tend to rely on "stuff" to enhance my church experience instead of relying on God to transform me. Today I am convicted that God has placed me here in this place to work, live and love along side people who are flawed just like me. My focus today is to see God working here in this place at this time with me as a part of the plan and not the problem. Somedays this is easier for me to embrace and believe, and other times it is rhetoric. Today I can say this with a convicted heart.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Spencer: "I wish we could live in Abilene"
Me: "Why, Buddy?"
Spencer: "Because it's more better"
Me: "What makes you say that?"
Spencer: "They have much more water than Amarillo"
Obviously I have missed the tropical, nautical appeal of Abilene! Now I know that Amarillo is dry, but this was a little alarming to me. So I pressed the issue with questions like, "do you mean they get more rain?" and so on. His response was just, "no, they just have more water." After using my best detective skills and trying to figure out what he meant, I realized. He was talking about the pool at the hotel. Aaha! I was so relieved that I had not spent almost 6 years living in Abilene, only to find out what an oasis it was after I moved.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
But I am thinking about love and marriage today. Mainly because my man is far away in Paraguay and I am missing him terribly. Only 4 sleeps to go...Woohoo! I taught my kids to count in sleeps when they were younger because it seemed to go faster, I count in sleeps for a whole other reason but that should probably not be blogged about :-)!
Innuendo and fun aside, I really want to pay tribute to David today.
He is an altogether great husband and Dad. I am constantly amazed that he is grown into such an incredible human being after coming out of a family system that did not equip him with the tools of trust, certainty or unconditional love. He has struggled to overcome abandonment issues that tend to permeate ones life in unexpected ways. However, having said that his family has grown too and they are my family too now and we love them!
The easiest way for me to describe some of these awesome characteristics of the man I married 20 years ago is by list, so here goes:
1. He is unselfish with his time and energy. He will put the kids and me above everything else including TV, golf, work etc (maybe not "24").
2.He has deep faith. The kind of faith that makes him never waiver in belief. Considering how "flaky" I can be this is so good to me.
3.He is intelligent and quite a thinker!
4.Although an introvert he has a heart for people and sees the value in stretching his "normal" to make himself more of a people lover.
5.Once per week he eats lunch with a 4th grade little boy at an impoverished school just to be a good influence.
6.He loves a good practical joke, of which I am usually the recipient. You know the type who takes their 5 year old son's slimy lizard and places it between the sheets for his wife to feel as she crawls into bed.
7.He is a "foodie" like me and we can both enjoy a good meal and/or preparing one in the kitchen.
8.He makes the meanest cup of hot tea ever!
9.He loves me in such a "covenant" kind of way that it is not just about me, but an act of worship for him.
10.We have fun together and love to travel and experience new things together.
Oh there is more, but I will stop here. Thanks for indulging me today.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Yesterday was Michaela's awards assembly at school. She got 19 of them! The academic ones were a given but we loved the ones voted on by peers. Some kids got "most responsible" some got "most athletic" some got "most creative" - I love those. Michaela was voted as "most friendly girl in her class" and "best singer." Those meant as much as "Top Math Award" I promise! It was fun and I was a proud Mama.
However, it is what happened after school that is the best. She scored the big dollars during her birthday and has been saving them up for something special. She decided she wanted a Tamogotchi v3 (virtual pet/person thingy). They are $15 and she has way more than that. She did buy a few things at a concert, the new High School Musical DVD (so my DVR can be released from that prison) and some other stuff. Well, off we go to Toys R Us to make the purchase and she decides to buy one for her friend also. Apparently, the two of them are the only two 4th graders on the planet who do not have one. Her friend's parents are going through a divorce and so she decided it would be a nice surprise to get her one "because of what is going on at her house." Wow - this is my child who is tighter than bark on a tree. I was so proud of her. It was huge. It was fun and I was a proud Mama.
And then last night there was American Idol. Seeing as Chris and Elliott were voted off in some obvious conspiracy (why else would my boys have been taken out, I mean taken off?) I was so happy that Taylor won. He is the quintessential "drunk dad at a wedding" guy who has so much fun it is infectious. But then, not only did Taylor win, Clay Aiken made an appearance. I was sitting just grinning at the screen. At times to protect my reputation I have been a closet Clay fan. Yes, I own the CD and his book. He makes me happy. Well, last night I realized what a huge fan I am. I was all alone watching the show clapping at the screen and smiling at it as soon as I saw him on stage. Gosh, I am going to be harrassed by this confession if my friend Angela reads this.
It was so much fun and I saw all those AI contestants had really proud Mama's!
It doesn't take too much to keep me chipper - a few awards, a good dose of generosity and a song from Clay!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Why this is blog worthy I am not sure, but here goes anyway. We usually eat cereal, toast, english muffins or similar fare on an average morning. However, Saturdays are different. I love it. It is the time when the bacon, sausage, biscuits, pancakes and all that good-for-your-tastebuds but bad-for-your-life-expectancy food comes out. But each week, I smile as I look at my plate because I imagine some of our friends responses. In South Africa, a "Full Breakfast" is based on an English Breakfast. That typically includes fried tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, baked beans. Just in case anyone is tracking the food groups by Venn Diagram as I compare and contrast cultural breakfast food experiences, Pancakes and Waffles are dessert foods at home and not a typical breakfast food by the way. Of course it also includes a fish called a Kipper or Haddock which we do not routinely make here just because we can't find it. So don't worry if we invite you over for breakfast we will leave out the "vegetable" portion.
The point is, I love the fact that we can slow down enough to eat a yummy breakfast, mess up the kitchen and wonder around in pj's longer than we should.
Friday, May 19, 2006
But before anyone is offended, let me just explain that we have lived in the US for 15 years total,
6 of those on "student visas" 4 on "religious worker" visas and the last 5 as "green card holders" - never illegal! And, paying taxes the whole time (except when we did not earn enough as student employees).
I have tried to contain myself during the last month or so as people battle out the issues and implications over immigration. I have a lot to say, but would like to maintain my friends so I am not saying it all, but this is crucial.
1. When we become gloabl citizens, we see that people are just like us. Kids in Lithuania watch MTV and post on MySpace. Moms in Jordan order Pizza on nights they are too tired to cook. Families in South Africa, New Zealand, Greece - picnic in the park and enjoy days on the beach. Mothers and Fathers in Sudan, Paraguay, India, Rwanda cry the same tears when their children are taken in death. When you see people and realize they are just like you, you are more likely to care about their plight and want to do something to change it!
2. When talking about the current issues of limited borders etc, remember that regardless of your take on people flow across the world, no human being is ever illegal or illegitimate. Their status may be in question but their humanity is not!
That was a little preachy and so I will end now!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I think when I look back at my life I notice a trend. I have used my outgoing personality as an excuse to hide from solitude with God. I get my biggest buzz from corporate worship experiences in various settings or from serving and being with people. I have admired those who appear to be "closet Episcopalians" and thought that their excercises of silence, solitude and silent retreats must be very helpful for them. But, with great certainty I have always known it was not for me. That was my first mistake!
During the current journey I am on, I have been wrestling with a new understanding of prayer and how it plays into our ecclesiology. One of our ministers is providing some spiritual direction for me as I struggle through this stuff. He suggested the book and some additional things for me to do.
This is what I love about the book. It is realistic. It acknowledges that personalities like mine will probably never fully embrace the life of a contemplative, but it explains why a personality like mine needs to incorporate aspects of the life of a contemplative. For the first time in a long time, I feel like the times I am spending with God are truly intimate and not "work."
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Here's the thing. If you happen to like a pair of jeans that, say, your single nice looking Young Adults Minister is wearing. Rather ask the make. Or, you could decide just to look for yourself and pick up his shirt, check the brand name on the waistband and move on. Of which I chose the latter and almost had him in cardiac arrest. My abovementioned friends burst into instant shrieking laughter and all the other ministry staff present were more than a little amused also.
But here's the thing. My intention was to not have to interrupt his conversation or even embarras him with the compliment and further questions about where he bought them etc. No, I chose to horrify him in discomfort and embarrasment all at the same time. My plan was good, the execution lacked a little finesse and perhaps a boundary or two.
Geez Louise, when will I learn.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Usually you can catch me humming a worship song from Chris Tomlin, a ballad from Bebo or something from Casting Crowns, MercyMe or Newsboys (I can get the accent on this one). Lately, it has been "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter. I've been known to even get the Wiggles, Barney or Dora stuck in my head for days. Hot potato, hot potato.....
However, this morning it's a little different. Tell, me why the brain of a middle class, anglo mother of two, minister's wife is stuck on Ridin' Dirty by Chamillionaire! Yikes - for everyone else's sanity and my personal purity I am praying this one departs as quickly as it arrived.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
But here is the cool part. As a ministers wife, involved member at our church, ministry leader etc I have been able to share these feelings with some friends and they are not having a cardiac arrest or wondering about my salvation and or impending doom. How great is it to be able to share your authentic struggles and feel safe enough to know its okay! Besides a few girlfriends & my small group I have found community in our church staff workmates. I had lunch with one of our elders wives and then with all respective appropriateness today I had a time to share my heart and struggles with our worship minister. I count him as a special friend, in fact I wonder if we were separated at birth (10 years apart :-)) I found a safe place there in the midst of him being able to point me to truth about my thinking that needed changing. I was also able to seek the counsel of our young adults minister and have him guide me in my pursuit of a different understanding of prayer. I admire and respect both of these men greatly and they extended the same to me today. I love being able to serve a church with a ministry team that is seeking community with one another and desiring to live truthfully together. I was able to walk away from both of these encounters today knowing that none of these people thought less of me, and both love me! Thanks guys.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Michaela loves hanging out with friends. She is a gifted singer and a piano student. School is easy for her and academically she is very advanced. She is detail oriented and very logical in her thinking (way more like David than me).
We love all those things about her, but most of all these are the things I love and admire about her.
...she always make a point to befriend the new kid in school.
...she likes and is liked by most kids who meet her, but it does not matter that her crowd is not the popular crowd.
...she is a concert rat.
...she has a keen sense of humor that is maturing all the time (wit can so easy sound like "cheek")
...she does a lemonade stand each year and donates the money to our Outreach ministry.
...she is a fabulous big sister and her and Spencer really love each other!
...she is a growing child of God and I can not wait to see what He does in her life.
...she loves foreign travel and soaks up anyplace she goes.