30 March 2007

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us

that we should be called children of God! (I John 3:1) Wow, that's amazing. And today, I'm amazed that because I belong to Him, he gives me lots of sweet little gifts too. And mostly, I'm thankful that today He gave me eyes to see the gifts - because that in itself is marvelous grace. Too often I miss the beauty, but not today! Today I see beauty in things like sitting outside last night enjoying the breeze, Greek food, Greek music in the background, laughter and random but real conversation. I'm thankful for a good night's sleep topped off with sweet dreams. I loved listening to music this morning and reading John 1 and 1 John 1. Putting on my jeans to wear to work on this Friday, it's a teeny little good thing. I loved the 30 minute pause walking my dog on a cool pre-summer morning and hearing birds sing. Seeing my favorite balcony in my apartment complex with their kitschy Easter decorations, plants, table clothed table with their hot sauce where they actually eat, their clock radio, their home country flag hanging. I love thinking about the fact that they actually do life on their balcony! So goofy, but I love walking by this totally pimped out blue shiny long Cadillac with big silver wheels - definitely my favorite car today. The news in an e-mail that one of my friends is moving back to Turkey. Hearing of another friend getting surprisingly engaged. Real friendship, gosh I love that. Just all little bits of gifts - the gift of enjoying this life. Jesus has done so many more valuable and precious things for me, but the fact that He knows me today. That He knows me. That He gifts me enjoyment in Him - that is beauty.

His Word is true. He does satisfy the longing soul and fill the hungry soul with goodness. (Ps107:9) So...has He given you any gifts today?

28 March 2007

Men and Women

Okay, so I didn't write this and I don't have a clue who Roger is. Actually, I do know a guy named Roger, but I like to refer to him as RajMajal. Anywho, you're going to love this...

A Guy Named Roger

The value of effective communication in a meaningful relationship.......

A guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of commitment that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward... I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: ... so that means it was... let's see ... February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means ... lemme check the odometer ... whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: he's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a darn garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90 day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumbags.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a darn warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their...

"Roger", Elaine says aloud.

"What?", says Roger, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have .. Oh God, I feel so..."(She breaks down, sobbing.)

"What?" says Roger. "I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Roger.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.

"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just that ... It's that I ... I need some time", Elaine says.

(There is a 15 second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes," he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

"Oh Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Roger.

"That way about time," says Elaine.

"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Roger", she says.

"Thank you," says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering
every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, you've known Elaine longer than I have. Did she ever own a horse?"

18 March 2007

Rodeo Rainstorm

So this past week was spring break. Meaning kids off of school, my sister and brother-in-law both off work (since they are serious educators), and moi stuck in the office! Sad for me! Actually, it wasn't sad at all. I had a great week. The office was super quiet and relaxed. I did some manual labor (just taping before the painters came) in the new youth space, and just kind of chilled in the office. Friday afternoon we all made coke floats (all 5 of us who were here anyway!) And then of course, we made our annual trip to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo!

Last year was my first time to go in AGES, but it was so much fun, we decided to go again this year. Of course, Houston weather didn't quite seem as excited about the rodeo as we were. There were terrible rainstorms all morning and afternoon, threatening gloom and despair on our best laid plans. But alas, the storm eventually eased and Kasey and I trooped on. (I started writing this on Sunday and finally getting back to it on Wednesday!) Anywho, we had a rip-roarin good time. As I guess the photos prove, I am a Texas girl after all...

Believe it or not, this is Elsie the Cow, as in "THE ELSIE", the Borden Elsie! I'm not kidding, it's really her. She wasn't about to give me the satisfaction of smiling for the pic. She seems a bit snobby at first, but she's actually a real cud-up. Get it - cud up!!! I continue to crack myself up.

The proof's in the stick - yep, I guess I'm not man enough to eat the whole Turkey leg.
It's not a true rodeo experience without eating some really fattening food.

Woman enough to take the cheesy pic - My mom LOVES this one!

My favorite pic of Kasey from the night. She's about to purchase our deep-fried oreos.
I'm telling you -sounds gross, tastes amazing.

Some people say you're either single for a season or single for a reason -
I don't think there's any doubt which one I am...

02 March 2007

The Fount

The other day I was burdened just thinking about several friends who have family members who are running every direction except toward Christ. Heartbreaking. So many people, so many of our kids, deceived by the world, by themselves, ultimately deceived by the enemy into thinking that other things are better than knowing Him. Thinking that sin of all things is better than Him. What! How foolish we are. I had been reading and praying these verses from Proverbs 28...
9If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination.
13Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
14Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

I had been praying that God would have mercy and turn our hearts to the law so that He would hear us. These are kind of hard words, ya know. It doesn't look good for those who turn away from Him and his Law to do their own thing and seek their own way. Scary when you think about it. What will come to them if they don't repent. And so I was just burdened because my friends had tried to speak truth into their friend's lives, but they just wouldn't listen. We try every week to get students to "get it," to see God for who He is, to seek Him, to at least care about knowing Him. And yet, so often it doesn't seem to be working. His Word never returns void, but it's just not always evident to our eyes. But the thing is that all of this is just more proof that it's not about what man can do. It's only about what God can do. Only He can change hearts. Only He can blow on the lives of people. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" Zech. 4:6. That's why we have to pray. That's why even when I don't feel like, we have to pray. There's no other way to see the hearts of people turn to him. It doesn't matter if it's students who have grown up in church in Houston, Texas or the people being loved on by my sweet friends in Afghanistan who are hearing about Jesus for the first time. It's ONLY by the Spirit of God. ONLY He can do it. ONLY He can "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ." ONLY He can cause the blinded to see and the deaf to hear and the dead to live again. We were all dead in our sins before Christ. Obviously, students living here have infinitely greater opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. Yes, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. But alas, here or there, it's the same power of God that brings people to Him. Yep, it doesn't take any more power to raise a dead person to life in one place than in another place. He can do it. He wants to. He will do it. He LOVES TO DO IT. He wants it more than we do. So, why do I worry? I don't need to fret at why He's not doing it when and how I want Him to. Why do I doubt Him? He's GOING TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE. He just is. Yes, I have to share truth, and yes, I have to pray a ton. But that's just so there's no doubt about it. He's the One that's gonna do it. Not me, not you, not us, not our good ideas, not our programs, not our strategies. He's the fount. He's the source. Just Him. His way. His time. His power. His plan. His glory. period.