10 December 2008

Winter is here!

I cannot believe I haven't posted ANYTHING since October! I truly don't want to be a blogging hasbeen, but I'm slipping that way very very fast. Yikes!

Today is one of those rare and wonderful really cold days in H-town (well, that's 35 degrees cold, which for the likes of us is quite chilly!) Unfortunately, it's a bit chilly inside the office as well. Thankfully, I brought my scarf to bundle up at my desk. Apparently, these Baptists have a very high addiction to air-conditioning.

And now, a couple hours later, it's actually snowing here - even getting some decent sized snowflakes. I'm trying to muster up more excitement about it to match everyone else's, but it's kind of hard. Guess I've spent too much time in Kentucky, Turkey, and New Jersey to be overly impressed! Still, I am glad it actually feels like winter here instead of the 75 muggy degrees it was yesterday.

Here's a few pics from last week when my friend, Rebecca, was here! I got to meet her little boy, Samuel Porter, for the first time. He is absolutely beautiful, sweet, and precious! Too bad none of the ones of me and Becca turned out too good...but here's some of Porter and his Aunt Becca.

Apparently we have lots to say to each other in this one. Here are Blake and Brayden, Rebecca's nephews with me. I've known them both since they were babies too! :)

31 October 2008

Happy Friday! Don't forget to vote!

Can you tell we're sisters? :) Kate and I went out for a very fancy dinner at The Melting Pot to celebrate her birthday. It was an amazing amazing meal of everything (except salad) fondue style that you cook at your table...breads and raw veggies in cheese, about 4 kinds of meat and ravioli and potatoes and broccoli and mushrooms that you cook in a flavored broth, and the ultimate desert experience of life changing bananas foster fondue with cheesecake, regular and chocolate marshmallows, sponge cake, bananas, strawberries, rice crispie treat, brownies dipped in the banana white chocolately cinnamony gooey goodness. The entire experience was so much fun and there's noone else I would have wanted to share it with!

Kate getting ready to dip some bread in the fancy cheese...

and me being cheesey (HAHAHAHAHA)

And then last weekend our junior staff here at church had our second annual Hallo-Wii party. We had sooooooo much fun even though we did wish Scott and Abby and Will and Kristi and Rob and Lynda could have all come back for the event! The costumes were amazing...couple of rednecks, James Bond, Kris Kross, Ed McMahan and prize winning housewife, Hurricane Ike and tree-trimming, electric repair man, Sarah Palin, a very very young olympic Chinese gymnast, and yours truly as a Starbuck's barista with her very HOTT cup of Venti Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate!
Yep, here I am getting my crunk on during the worst ever attempt at Guitar Hero.

Me and my cocoa. Is she absolutely fabulous or what?!? She was simply amazing and has already inspired at least 3 people to copy her idea...it did take some work for us to convert that laundry basket into a very authentic looking cup of coffee complete with cardboard sleeve. Yep, that STIR STICK was all my doing.

Not sure if you can see my fake nose ring...you know, part of my emo barista look!

My favorite pic from the night. How cute is she?

17 October 2008

The Z-Man

So, you know I live with my newly 10 year old nephew, Zach...well, I also live with my sis and her hubby, but they aren't nearly so entertaining. At least not this week. So just for kicks, here's a recent convo shortly after Z-Man comes running into the living room after he's taken his bath. Side note: he's always running because there is only one thing faster than a speeding bullet. Z-Man taking a bath. We're not exactly sure what happens in there or even if any soap actually touches his body, but all we know is that he comes out wet and running. He is willing to sacrifice cleanliness at the altar of things that are much more fun in what he must think of as "anythingsbetterthanhavingtogotakeabath" world. But I digress, so here we are in the living room when he comes running in with his usual fervor and wet head shaking and I'm contemplating taking a much longer and more thorough bath of my own...

ME: Dude, uh, I'm just wondering if I'm gonna find any of your dirty clothes on the floor in the bathroom?

Z-MAN: nope

ME: So, did you hang up your towel?

Z-MAN: yep

ME: So, is the floor all soaking wet?

Z-MAN: nope

ME: What about any poop waiting for me in the toilet?

Z-MAN: hmmmmm, I'm not sure about that one, I better go check!

And off he goes running to the bathroom and my sister and I soon hear flushing. Guess that was an affirmative. Man, I love that kid.

10 October 2008


So, you can finish playing the dirge for my long lost blog. I know you thought it died with the summer, but alas, I'm trying to revive it once again. Mostly just with pics, but hey, I gotta start somewhere letting you know what I've been up to the past couple months...First, was a mini-vacation up to Louisville, KY to visit my good friends Will & Kristi and Kari too :), as well as my seminary buds Alicia and kiddos and Rob and Chandi and more kiddos. What did I love most about the trip? Leaving Houston, dining at the cute tearoom, whipping up on Willimo on DDR, hanging out with Farmdale BC youth, eating Krispy Kreme donuts, praying with Kristi, spending the day at C.A.L., eating salmon and playing with Rob & Chandi's sweet girls and watching Sarah Beth and Chandi sing at rehearsal, and chatting it up with Alicia over Tony Boombozz and laughing at her hysterical children!

And then, over Labor Day I went to Louisiana to see my friends Billy and Elizabeth who I knew from Turkey - I hadn't seen either of them since their wedding about 5 years ago! And I had never met their sweet children. We survived one Tunisian and one Hurricane Gustav and spent most of the weekend in Tallulah once we evacuated to safety thanks to Angie and her parents! It was a crazy weekend, but so much fun and so good to catch up on the past 5 years! Liz and I promise to do better this time around!

And well, then we had our very own hurricane here when I got back known as Ike, but I'll get to that next time...(Hey, I know this is a lame post, but I've gotta start somewhere!)

07 August 2008

Do you need to believe this today?

Isaiah 30:18 (Amplified Bible)

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

26 July 2008

Now, not yet

I had a professor in seminary who talked often about the "now, not yet" promises and prophecies in scripture. It seems that God has made promises to us in his Word, many which we can already see how they have been manifested in our current reality, and yet many others that have not been fulfilled yet. For instance, God has made me righteous through what Jesus did on the cross. However, He is still in the process of making me righteous as I believe and obey and He transforms me with the washing of the water of the Word. So, there's an aspect that has already happened - the "Now" and then there is the part that is still happening, the "Not yet." It's not exactly rocket science I suppose. However, I've spent much of the past few days thinking about my life's story and feeling a bit discontent as I wade in the shores of the "now, not yet." I'm frustrated. I feel stuck in this inbetween. I feel like I'm loitering. It's like I can't get my brain to rest as I look at scripture and try to believe it by faith and yet when I look at my current circumstances or even looking back to what God has and hasn't done in the past, it's sometimes really hard to see how it's actually been true. I believe God's Word. I have chosen to accept it's truth and claim and authority on my life. I know by now that just because something doesn't feel true to me, doesn't mean that it isn't true. I know His Word is true even when I can't feel. But, you see, this is all what I know, but not what I feel. My heart just feels a mess with all this sometimes. I stare at the words on a page in the Bible and say to myself, "Okay, this is truth." But then my heart says, "But God, that's not true." This feeling of schizophrenia is unsettling. For instance, Psalm 145 says that God satisfies the desire of every living thing. Then why do I still long for what I don't have? Why don't I feel satisfied? Why am I still hungry? I just don't get it.

And I know God keeps telling me to trust Him. How on earth do I do that? I know He is faithful. I know He is good. I have seen his faithfulness in my life. I have seen his incredible goodness. I don't want to ignore all these places in scripture, all these things I've understood as promises and yet haven't come to pass. I want to be real in my faith. I want to be authentic in what I say I believe. I really just want Him to bring fulfillment, to satisfy, to provide, to show Himself incredible. I really want Him to answer some long awaited prayers. I'm tired of feeling stuck and not seeing Him come through for me in some ways I really want Him to. I know, I know that I don't have any right to demand anything of Him. I know He has done enough. I know He is enough. I know I shouldn't ask Him to prove Himself to me. I know that I should trust, that I should be satisfied in Him, I know that He should be all that I delight in. But what on earth am I supposed to do when I don't feel like He is enough. When I still want a man to love me one day. When I'm trying really hard to trust and yet my heart is so confused. When I don't know which path to take. When His Word doesn't look true. I try to tell myself that it's not about my feelings, that I choose to believe by faith, not by how I feel. But, really, come on now, how am I supposed to separate my heart from my head? Don't you feel like this journey of following Christ demands all of you? Even the demons believe. I don't just want to mentally assent to believing that He satisfies me. I want to actually be satisfied in all of me - heart, soul, mind and strength. I want my whole self to trust Him. I don't want my heart to feel squeezed when something happens differently than I wanted it to. I don't want to feel jealous. I learned today from two places in scripture that covetousness is really idolatry. Yuck. I don't want to covet. And I for sure don't want be in idolatry, to want, need, worship anything other than Him. But that's what I'm doing when I feel jealous. When I am sad when someone else has what I think I want. But, I don't know how not to feel jealous, ya know. How do you stop something that isn't an action? How do I tell my heart and my head to obey and stop thinking and feeling a certain way? Actually, I do tell them lots of times, but they don't seem to listen to me. And see, then again, I know that it's only by God's Spirit that I can be whole and righteous and that it's only in his power that I am free from sin. But so, what is taking Him so long? Why won't He make my heart and head line up already. Why does He keep me in the "not yet"? I so wan the now. And so even now I say to myself, "Because it wouldn't take much trust if you didn't have to learn to wait." Which I know is true. But honestly, that can be so frustrating.

I feel like Mary in John chapter 20 who is standing there talking to Jesus after He has risen from the dead and yet she is grieving and weeping because she doesn't know it's Him. She is staring the Truth in the face and yet she can't even see it. Don't you think that's crazy? She's sad for no reason. At least not for a true reason. What she thinks is true isn't. She thinks that someone has taken his body from the tomb and she doesn't know where they have put Him. Jesus isn't where she thinks He's supposed to be. Jesus doesn't look like what she thinks He is supposed to look like. And yet she even asks Jesus who she thinks is the gardener to tell her where they have put him. I know too well that I am often like Mary. I know that I can see and believe things through my limited skewed perspective and miss the truth that is staring me in the face. Perhaps God is speaking to me and yet I just don't know it's Him yet. I guess Mary didn't believe (or perhaps just didn't understand) Jesus when He told them that He was the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). And I guess I'm not believing what God has said. I'm not really believing that his Word is true. I am choosing to believe what things look like through my earthly finite lenses. I choose to believe what my eyes can see instead of what faith will let me see. Mary finally gets it, finally sees Jesus for who He is when He says her name. He says, "Mary!" and she knows it's her master. She recognizes this man that she has known. She has had relationship with Him and in that really cool moment, He reveals his glorified self to her when He calls her name. He knows her too. He has had relationship with her. It's that relationship, that intimacy, that brings the revelation of truth. She sees Truth for who He is. She couldn't see it before, but now she does. He says her name. He knows her. She knows Him. Oh, I'm so thankful that I can know Jesus. And not only that, but I do know Jesus. And more importantly to me today is that I am also fully known by Him. He knows me. He knows my name. He knows my mixed up head. He knows my foolish heart. He knows my blind eyes. He knows my skewed perspective. He knows that I trust Him and don't at the same time. He knows my frustration. He knows my puny faith. He knows my questions. He knows my insecurities. He knows my heart. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). He knows me. He knows you. He knows, He knows, He knows. And He reveals truth. He reveals Himself. His word is true. Every word. He has satisfied me, He is in the process of satisfying me. He is making me hungry for Himself when other things don't fill me up. I may be stuck in the "now, not yet" but He is the Lord. He will do it. I believe. And yet, Oh God, help my unbelief.

11 July 2008

New Charlie Hall CD

As Kasey's always saying..."Get excited!" And here is something that I actually am really excited about. Charlie Hall's new CD coming out soon! Here's what Charlie Hall says about it..."The Bright Sadness is the accepting of the brokenness in myself and in the world around me but always intertwining the overarching thought of Christ's closeness, his free fellowship, his redemption and compassion, his brightness." Truth in music. What's not to love about that?

09 July 2008

I was just thinking...

that my brain may have had enough space the past couple days to actually think about posting. And I was thinking that I wasn't sure what to talk about and yet, there's so much I could talk about at the same time. My life has been extremely full since I last wrote and there's so very much I'd like to tell you about. And I was thinking about a scripture that might sum up my life the past month and yet, nothing jumped to mind so a thought came to me (hmmmm...wonder from Who it came?) why don't you read the psalm for today. You know, today's the 9th so how bout starting with Psalm 9. The first couple verses stopped me in my tracks. AbsoLUTEly perfect! God seemed to know exactly what my heart wanted to say...

Psalm 9 (The Message)
A David Psalm
I'm thanking you, God, from a full heart, I'm writing the book on your wonders. I'm whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I'm singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You took over and set everything right; when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

Wow, my heart is thankful for all that I've seen God do the last month or so. When I was completely empty, overwhelmed, and unsure, He took over and set everything right. He was right there when I needed Him, taking charge. I love that He takes charge. I don't know if it's just because I'm a woman or just because I'm so aware of my neediness and smallness, but I love it when He takes charge. Just makes me feel...safe, protected, sure, at rest. That's something God's teaching me these days. To rest. Just rest. You know, the opposite of striving, fretting, stressing, even doing. God truly has given me a time of rest both physically and spiritually and it is wonderful. It's part of why my head feels like I have space. I don't know if that makes sense to anybody, but sometimes my head can be so full of details and to do lists and analyzing and keeping up that there's no room to actually think, ponder, meditate, breathe. Weird I suppose, but my brain needs to breathe every now and then. And so, I feel like my body and my spirit and my mind have finally found time to take a deep full breath. Ahhhhhh. Wonderful.

And so after all that, I still haven't really told you anything, have I? Well, first of all, I made it through camp. Actually, I did more than make it through. God's goodness and supply were abundantly sufficient. Most of you already know by now that our camp speaker wasn't able to come at the last minute and so several of us found out the Thursday before camp that we'd be speaking for one of the big general sessions. Wow, that was a stretching experience - the journey of speaking to close to 400 people. Yikes. God was amazing! He taught me SOOOOOOO much. He convicted me. He changed me. He gave me strength. He breathed life into me. And He breathed life into dry bones that night. And the entire week was simply amazing. The sunshine and thunderstorms, the brilliant full moon, watching kids' faces, seeing their tears, seeing their laughter, just being able to stand back and watch it all was amazing. God was at work and everyone knew it. It's like He worked in such a way that no one could take the credit. It was all Him.

And even outside of and after camp, God has just been so, I don't know, just real to me. Speaking to me! Listening to me! And letting me know that I actually am hearing His voice and letting me know that He actually is hearing mine. Incredible. Teaching me things. Showing me things. For instance, last night I went to our college Bible Study and we were meditating for a few minutes on the Lord's Prayer. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus tells us to pray, "Give us this day our DAILY bread"? Just our daily, not what we need or want or think we will need next week or next month or next year. But just to ask for his daily provision. What do I need today. I've often thought about God giving grace and provision like manna, on a as-you-need basis, not on a excessive-more-than-you- need-today basis, but I never thought about that's how we should pray and ask and expect. Today. Don't worry about tomorrow. Ask for today. Or, learning that the Lord's Prayer shows us so much about who God is - Father, Holy, King with a kingdom and purpose and will, Giver, Forgiver, Leader, and Deliverer. Huge. Revealing Himself to me. Oh man, I'm so grateful to be in this time, here, right now. I've known silent times and dark times and questioning times and so I'm thankful for this time in a broad place. A place with space. A place of faith building and rest and trusting and hope and recovery. So thankful. I feel like so many of you feel stuck in different places and God won't seem to let you leave. I simply don't know what to do with that other than pray that you will soak up all who He is in your time, in the time that God has given you. He is a God of purpose. He reveals Himself in all things, even silence. Hang on. I really believe the dawn, the wide open space, the broad place, the safe place,really is coming for you. Because whether you feel like it or not, his Word is true. He is there when you need Him, taking charge. Rest in that today, friend. Deeply breathe it in and rest.

And just for fun and because I love other people's pics, here's a few...one of those crazy pics I love to take myself after a fabulous lunch catching up with Annetta and Amanda, my senior girls who are LEAVING ME in another month or so, and my nephew and I and my new Turkish friend, Ozge, who spent her first night in America with us before heading down south for a few months. It was so much fun speaking turklish with her, and she even brought me some visne, that's cherry juice and it was one of my most favorite things in Turkey! It was so guzel! :)

07 June 2008

Headline News

Since my last pathetic sounding post, I've been wanting to tell you how good God has been to me. Sometimes, I wonder if I'll begin sounding redundant talking about His incredible goodness and how sweet He's been to me. Then I remember these words from Psalm 145 (The Message)...

I'll bless you every day,
and keep it up from now to eternity.
3 God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
4 Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.
5 Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
I compose songs on your wonders.
6 Your marvelous doings are headline news;
I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
7 The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
your righteousness is on everyone's lips.

So, apparently I can't say it enough. And as I continue to discover in my own life, "There are no boundaries to his greatness." Ever since the sun set on Black Monday, I've been having a wonderful week. Still incredibly busy, still intense, still lots of work to do, but really great. God has been my shield and protector and my joy. He has given me the gift of a much healthier perspective on life than that which I possessed on Monday. He has just been good. I KNOW that I have seen Him at work in me because of so many of you praying for me, and I cannot begin to say how incredibly grateful I am to each of you. Prayer has made a HUGE difference in my life this week. I've had God just surrounding me with so many people loving me, listening to me, laughing with me, encouraging me, and working alongside me and playing with me. What fabulous, fabulous friends He has given me.

One of the highlights of my week happened Tuesday morning sitting at my desk when my cell phone rang. Wonder of all wonders, it was my sweet friend Abby calling me all the way from Kurdistan! Wow, so great to hear her voice and just get caught up. She had read about my Monday saga and just wanted to see how I was doing. How precious is that? (side note: Please, please, please be praying for God's goodness to bring complete healing to Abby as she's feeling sick again.) Then on Wednesday I had a three hour therapy session...Also known as an hour and a half in Starbucks and another hour and a half in the car after we got kicked out with my incredible friend T. We decided that the price of a Tall White Chocolate Mocha is a lot cheaper than seeing a therapist. Seriously, I love those times to listen and be listened to. :)

And really, God just continued pouring goodness into my life whether it's laughing in the office, getting excited with Kase about her new Chaco's, setting up for a meeting, playing cards last night, my sister giving my dog a 3 day haircut (trust me, that's love), or enjoying seeing so many people I love at our Camp Sponsor Meeting today. But wait. There's more. Back up to last night when I saw that my brother-in-law was planning on making a huge batch of guacamole to take to their family outing today. I grieved a bit down deep in my soul knowing that I wouldn't be partaking of the much loved guacamole. Thing is my b-i-l makes THE best guacamole on the planet. I'm not kidding. And trust me, I'm a guacamole snob, but Terry has a way with avocados that just can't be explained. I even meant to leave a note this morning begging them to leave me just a teeny little bit for me. But alas, I don't think too well before 8 in the morning and I forgot. Sad for me. So as I'm driving home, I find myself secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, they left some for me. I was hoping, but yet trying not to get my hopes up at the same time. (Not that it ever works, but I sometimes try to push down my "hopefulness" in an attempt to prevent disappointment in the end. Still haven't figured out how to balance hope and faith with wisdom and realism in the midst of the "inbetween." But, are we called to be realistic? Or is that a defense mechanism...hmmm...maybe those are thoughts for another day.) Anywho, so then I pull up in the driveway, let the dogs outside, and then tentatively making my way toward the fridge. I open the door and don't see anything. And then, I see it. It's there. The most beautiful tupperware you've ever seen with green fluffy goodness inside it. Sigh. And it's not just a little dab either. It's enough to really have some guac, ya know. And then I realize we even have tortilla chips. Yes, there is a God! And his love never ever quits.

02 June 2008

Sowing and reaping

Psalm 126:5
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!

It seems like I'm doing a lot of sowing these days and longing for the reaping. I'm pretty stinking tired of sowing at the moment, and especially sowing tears. I'm just not super happy or spunky today, mostly just overwhelmed, stressed-out, and in a bit of a funk. Sowing tears today and I don't like it. I don't like my job at all today...which is extremely rare for me. And I'm not a huge fan of being 34 and single today either. I've felt really alone today, even though I've been with people or answering the phone nonstop. Today has been hard and I'm just plain empty. God has been good even in the moments I couldn't see Him. There have been a few moments where even with my poor attitude I could see Him. Like when rummaging through a drawer I randomly found a sheet I tore off my calendar from August 25 with the following...

Psalm 107:27-30, "They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; so He guided them to their desired haven." Do you feel threatened? Tell God. Cry to Him. He is never deaf to the cry of His child. Because you are His child and He is your Father, your well-being is His responsibility.

So, yeah, that was good, but it still didn't exactly make the past few hours smooth sailing. Oh well, such is life in the inbetween. The "inbetween" my faith and my screaming reality. Sometimes they don't match up, ya know. Anywho, I'm taking courage in the fact that as I sow in tears, I can look with hope to the moments when I will reap in joy. I know I will. I've seen God be faithful too many times in the past to doubt that it's coming. And let's face it. I'm in pre-camp mode. And not only is that crazy stressful and busy, but spiritually, it's just a lot more intense. And yet, the reward will be so great too. Oh, if I can just make it the 14 days until June 16th when I wake up at Camp Eagle to the beautiful sun coming up over the hills and on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday when I get to watch all that God's going to do. It will be worth all this. I am confident of that.

So, if you're hating life today for whatever reason, if your sowing in tears today, take heart for the reaping will come. And if you're life is all daisys today, then maybe you can say a prayer for me that I'll find ways to rejoice while I'm stuck in the "inbetween."

Praise Jesus, here's where I'll be in two weeks! :)

23 May 2008

Two, well maybe three things...

GUESS WHAT??? God healed my air-conditioner today! I'm not kidding! He really did. I know it sounds kind of silly, but trust me, I didn't feel silly when I was soaking up all that cold air goodness at 5:00 pm this afternoon as I was driving home. I left work around 4:20 pm with my big cup of ice in one hand and my cup of cold water in the other. After a few minutes in the car, my jean legs were folded up, my hair was pulled off my neck, and the windows were down. The outside temperature read 89 degrees. I hit a brief traffic snaffoo and was starting to get a little bit irritated and my good attitude was waning. I quickly pulled out my I-pod nano and got my earbuds in place to chill out to some Robby Seay. That's when it happened. This teeny tiny voice in my head said, "Hit the AC button" (or something like that). Well, let me just tell you I've done this about a zillion times since it went out several weeks back. Sometimes, I do it three times in a row, maybe once a day or once every couple days, I'm not too sure. Anywho, let's just say this wasn't the first time. But, it was the first time for the little thought that seemed to come out of the blue. So, I hit the button and the happy green light comes on!!!! This means it's working! I hold my hand up to the vent to see if the air feels cool. It doesn't at first, but slowly starts to get colder. I immediately start freaking out and yelling, "Shut up!" Must be Kasey's influence. And I'm thinking, "Wow, God! You have GOT to be kidding me." He wasn't. It's true. He healed my AC. It worked all the way home. I finally had to turn it back a bit because it was full blast at 68 degrees and I forgot that I still had the cup of ice between my legs. I was actually getting chilly! I even stopped for two errands on the way home and it was still working great. Isn't that amazing! The really fun part is that even though I'd asked God to fix it a time or two before to fix it if He wanted to, it wasn't until Wednesday afternoon when the youth staff met to pray that I actually prayed out loud for God to heal our cars. My car isn't the only one that's been a distraction lately. I figured if God can heal people, He can heal cars too if He wanted to. So, yeah, I'm not sure why God decided to have mercy on me today, but I'm so thankful He did. What a great encouragement!

And I don't want to fail to mention my great thanks to Cliff and Teresa who were going to let me borrow one of their cars that they have been trying to sell and aren't using. Cliff assured me it was one of the coldest AC's he'd ever seen. Well, I finally agreed to take them up on the offer and pick it up next week. They were even going to let me keep my car at their house! Wow! But, unfortunately for Cliff, he called today with the news that when he got it out of the garage today to wash it, etc. he realized the air wasn't working. Oh geez. Poor Cliff. Now's he's got to deal with that. So...maybe after you spend your daily hour in prayer interceding for your family, friends, and the world, you can feel free to pray for Cliff's car, along with J & T's car, along with Micah's car....It's an epidemic lately.

Again, why on earth would God want to take care of my car? I often wonder at why God answers some prayers and yet not others. I will never figure that out. Trust me, I know my car AC working again is not as important as so many other things. So why? And it's not because of my faith that's for sure. I honestly don't think I expected Him too. I did expect that it would all eventually work out and that I can trust Him to take care of me. Why did He do it? I truly don't know. Maybe He did it just to show me that He actually can and wants to provide for me. That I can trust Him to take care of me. Sometimes I feel a bit out on a limb being a single woman. A bit uncared for at times. But not today. Today God showed me that I am cared for. And that, ladies and gentleman, makes me cry. I love Him.

Okay, and lastly, I'm heading out tomorrow morning with 22 other youth leaders, college students, and youth to Paradise08. We'll drive all day tomorrow to Fort Scott, Kansas (yep, I'm thinking 12+ hours) where we will spend the night. Sunday morning we'll head to a giant empty field in the middle of Kansas to worship our King Jesus with at least several thousand young people. No speaker, no band, no agenda, no t-shirts, no organizations, just Jesus. He's the only big name this time. I'm pretty excited. I have no idea what to expect, but definitely have an expectant heart. I'm sure I'll have something to say about it next week. We drive back Sunday night and Monday. If you think about it, pray for us and all the other groups who will join us. Pray that Jesus is honored and we are humbled.

20 May 2008

Thoughts on driving in Houston, Texas in the summer without any air-conditioning

Like my title? I used it because it sounds like something John Piper would title something. Of course, the rest of this won't sound like him, but you gotta start somewhere, right? :)

Okay, so here's the deal. Last month I spent over $400 on car repair and maintenance. So...when Red Velvet's (my 1992 Buick LeSabre) air-conditioning decided it didn't want to work a few weeks ago, I decided to ignore it. Actually, not so much ignore it as intentionally decided to look the other way. Thankfully, it has been an unseasonably cool spring for Houston and we've had lots of really nice weather the past couple weeks. The circulated outside air has proved quite sufficient most days. However, reality is that it's summer in Houston which means that today it is 94 degrees. Yes, that's Fahrenheit. And if you've never been here I can't explain the humidity, but let's just say when you step outside you feel like you've been submerged into a really big deep broiler. It's warm. It will get hotter of course, but let's just say for now it's not a wimpy kind of heat index. So, on my commute home this afternoon I began thinking of the essentials I've added into my routine to make the drive much more endurable. But before I get to that, let me just remind you that I drive about 35-60 minutes home on the I-10 Katy Freeway at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Oh, and did I mention the bumper to bumper traffic? Or the construction?

My new essentials:
1. God's grace which comes to me in the following ways...
2. A good attitude which in itself is a gift and is greatly enriched by the following items...
3. Remembering that I have friends all over the world who drive around in cars with no AC and more than that walk everywhere and take buses stuffed with a hundred other people who consider deodorant a luxury item. Also, these many friends don't have AC in their apartments either.
4. Remembering that I have life a million times easier than most of the world's population...I have clean water, I have a safe place to sleep, I have food everyday, I am not sleeping outside for fear of earthquake aftershocks. And frankly, for some weird reason I feel like it's good for me learning to do without something that I usually consider a "have to have" to survive. I'm not entitled to air-conditioning and maybe it's healthy for me to suffer in this teeny weeny way.
5. Being thankful that I will not be spending eternity somewhere really hot.
6. Okay, enough of the philosophical essentials...first tactical item in my survival kit: my i-pod nano and accompanying earbuds. This is extremely important to maintain #2. Radio is insufficient because with windows down and traffic blaring by, I simply can't hear it. With earbuds in place, I can sometimes listen to an entire album creating a joyful if not worshipful experience.
7. A large cup of ice to hold in my lap. I owe Jerome for that handy tip - it makes a world of difference.
8. An insulated cup of cold water to sip and cool my insides.
9. Dressing in layers to work so that I can take one or two layers off before I head home.
10. A rubber band. Any kind will do. To put my hair in a ponytail of course.
11. Sunscreen. This is a newly implemented essential I added today because I noticed my left arm getting much browner and frecklier than my right arm. Plus, I don't want to suck it up driving around without AC because I know it won't kill me and then ending up with skin cancer. Definitely not worth that!

So, any of you living without AC? Any tips you want to share? Or maybe how you try to keep a good attitude with your personal irritations of life? BTW, don't get me wrong. Sometimes I have a better attitude about this, other times I'm grumbling and complaining the whole way like this morning as a matter of fact. Of course, perhaps that's why I realized this afternoon that this list really is crucial. God gives us grace. Sometimes we just need to use it.

05 May 2008

He really does

God really does answer prayer. Really. He does. He answered a prayer of mine today and ya know what, it just feels good. It's not even about the outcome as much as it is that I apparently needed the reminder that He actually hears me. It doesn't even matter today that there are many other prayers He hasn't answered yet. It's just so amazing that He listens to little ol me. He is gracious. He actually listens to me when I call. He acted on my behalf. He defended me. He answered in such a cool and tangible way for me today. I am so grateful that my God, my Friend, my Savior, my Lover answered me today.

So if you're praying and it doesn't seem like He's listening, I hope you can take encouragement from this knowing that if He hears me, He can hear you too. I know He's silent sometimes. Trust me, I KNOW. But my friend, He is listening. He will act. In fact, He probably is already acting on your behalf. Sometimes it's days, months, or years before we see the fruit. But you CAN trust Him. And remember, He is faithful not because of you or what you deserve or what you do or how hard you pray or how much faith you have. He is faithful because that's who He is. It's his nature. He can't help it. He really is faithful and that means you really can trust Him.

18 April 2008

Stargazer Lilies & My Office

My lilies early in the week...

Today's beauty!

My favorite thing about my office is that amazing view of the trees!

Please ignore the boxes under my desk...it's a sign that summer's coming and
I have no where else to store stuff!

17 April 2008

I'm in love

Thought that title might raise a few eyebrows! Hopefully I didn't give anyone a heart attack! Okay, so some might say it's been a slow week, not as in boring or moving slow, but just as I ponder the highlights it kind of seems like maybe I need to get a life. Problem is, I like my life and don't really want a new one. Give me a minute and you'll see why...

1. I received a love letter from Seth Langford this week. It was kind of creepy with scrawled out writing and a pencil drawing and a cut out magazine photo of Brad Pitt, but still it was fab. His t-shirt said, "I heart Rebecca." Seth is every woman's dream - or at least he should be - he's got rugged good looks, real convictions, and just a few quirky flaws. He's loyal to a fault, loves like it really matters, fights for the oppressed and doesn't have a fear of commitment. ;) Trust me, Seth is worth the wait. Mind you, I'm still waiting since he only exists in my heart and soul for the time being. But trust me, in my heart and soul, what we have is very very special. (Gosh, I'm trying to imagine someone stumbling upon my blog and being very very weirded out by me right now!) Okay, okay, so he also exists in the mind of a friend I am honored to have and also in the pages of an amazing novel I just read, The Calling....and to meet Seth for yourself...

2. I had to call the IRS early this week because I my return was rejected several times because the Taxcut software refused to accept my electronic signature. There's a lot of boring details I'll leave out, but after about 40 minutes on hold listening to scratchy Tchaikovsky and enjoying sitting on the parking lot they call I-10. Finally, I hear a beep and soon this deep and very monotone voice says, "This is Mr. Smith ID487964378." No kidding! His name was Mr. Smith! You have to admit that's pretty funny that Mr. Smith works for the Internal Revenue Service. I can just imagine him in a support group..."Hello everybody, I'm Mr. Smith and I'm addicted to boredom." I really shouldn't make fun, he was very friendly and at least somewhat helpful. The really humorous part is that after he confirmed that the figures I was entering were actually he correct, he must have said three times, "Well, I don't know what to say...uhhh...I'm not sure why it keeps being rejected." What? Are you kidding me. You were obviously born to work at the IRS and yet even you don't know what's going wrong? Strange, but true. And lest you worry about me, I was eventually able to resubmit by printing out a spiffy little form and sending in my signature the good old fashioned way.

3. Yet another highlight in my week is that I've been so crazy productive at work. Seriously, it's been amazing. My to do list is getting longer and longer these days, but instead of shrinking back in fear, I'm bravely taking the bull by the horns and crossing things off that list left and right. Simple pleasures, right? I love the joy of quantifiable results.

4. The best for last. A very sweet and very good smelling friend of mine brought me a couple of stargazer lilies on Monday. Each day they've become more and more beautiful as they continue to bloom and gift me with the best fragrance ever. Seriously, people walk down the hall by my office and stop to ask where the amazing scent is coming from! I think these may be my new favorite flower. The beauty has been making me smile all week and the thoughtfulness behind the gift makes makes my heart sigh. I know I'm being total total cheese, but I don't care at the moment. I love the flowers. And even more than that, I love real friends who bring you flowers even when you tell them not to.

11 April 2008

I have to tell you

Sometimes I miss living overseas really bad. I mean a whole lot. The past few days have been like that. I'm not sure why, but I just do. Last night we were eating at Pei Wei when several muslim families met up outside, the men warmly greeting each other and the women with their head coverings double kissing each others cheeks, and beautiful children will heads full of dark curls. My sister asked if they were Turkish. They weren't. I'm not even sure how I can tell, but I can. My guess is Iranian actually. I don't know what it is about seeing women with head coverings that - warning, I know this sounds weird - but it just gives me a warm fuzzy. I just want to walk up to them and ask them to please be my friend! I live in an incredibly international city and yet I don't have any international friends. How can that be? What is wrong with me? I miss that so much. I miss bad English. I miss warm hospitality. I miss spending hours at the table during a meal. I miss the muddy streets of Adapazari. I miss our phone friends. I miss being busy spending time with people, not busy with things. I miss the craziness that is Istanbul. I miss riding the boat across the Bosphorous. I miss Sunday afternoons at the Taylors. I miss my friends. I miss being so dependent on Jesus. I miss catching a glimpse of what outside of America looks like. And I miss people and a culture that are different than me. Exquisitely different.

Now I know I'm sounding romantic about it all. I remember the hard things too and I know my life is easy here. I enjoy fitting in. I enjoy owning the cultural cues and language. And I know I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I know God has called me here. To Houston. To live with family. To be a youth ministry secretary. I love my life. I love my job. I love being where God wants me to be. But oh, sometimes, I really long to go back.

P.S. I almost "borrowed" - more like stole some pictures that I randomly found on another blog just now in my search for Istanbul photos. Instead, I thought I'd let you take a look for yourself...ISTANBUL DAILY PHOTO...so fun, huh?

03 April 2008

Hey mom, this one's for you! :)

As I was saying, last Friday night my sister's family and I headed out to a beautiful park in old Katy with about a million other people (okay, maybe just half a mil) for the west Houston Relay for Life. Basically, it was just a chance to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, show support for cancer survivors and their caretakers, and raise some money for the American Cancer Society. My sister and I had been wanting to do something like this for a while and were excited when her Sunday School class was getting a team together. I think we just felt like it was important to be involved in this whole cancer thing (I still don't really know what words to use for it) and I guess just be a part of the huge community of individuals and families who have been hugely impacted by this disease. So...my brother-in-law, nephew, sis and I put on our walking shoes to go see what all this hubub was about. Let me just say my sister and I were completely unprepared for what the night would really be like. We just didn't expect it to be emotional. I'm not sure why, I guess we just didn't think about it. However, there were so many aspects of the evening that seemed to get down inside of us. Seeing so many people in their matching Relay for Life t-shirts had an impact. Seeing all the people wearing their purple shirts signifying they are "cancer survivors" had an impact. Listening to the personal stories people shared had an impact. Hearing announcements of the youngest survivor (11 years old I think) and the oldest survivor (An 82 year old man who drove his family to the event) had an impact. Seeing hundreds of lit up luminaries in honor and in memory of those who either have fought or are still fighting cancer lined up all along the pathway had a powerful and significant impact on both of us. I think the most emotional part of the evening for us was watching the group of survivors kicking-off the night as they made their initial trek around the path. We all stood on the sidelines and cheered for them as they physically took one step after another and also to encourage them as they bravely take steps along such an arduous physical, mental, and spiritual journey of life after a cancer diagnosis. Huge. My sister and I, with just a little bravery, tried to hold back tears and smile and clap as they all walked past us. Our mom was far away, but seemed very very close in that moment. It was so powerful to both of us to feel a connection with this community of people who have been impacted by cancer - people who have felt just like us, who were completed blindsided by this intruder into their families, who have cried together, who have experienced defeats and triumphs, people who have shared this journey. At moments the weight of it was unbearable to think of all the pain and struggle these people have and continue to walk through. Yet somehow at the same time, the burden seemed a little bit lighter when shared with so many people. Belonging is huge, even when it's a club like this one. So, we did our little part and walked our hour together from 8:00-9:00 p.m. as the sun began to set. As always, my nephew was the life of the party as he walked, did fancy dance moves, played on the playground and drank 4 mini smoothies! We walked with the crowd and read the names on the luminaries. We ate barbeque. We laughed. We sang along with the entertainer singing, "I Will Survive!" We were proud of our mom. We shed a few tears. We shared in the moment of silence. We prayed. We listened. We watched. We participated. And mostly, we just belonged.

28 March 2008

I hate being tagged

And honestly, I think this is the first time I've actually complied! I guess it seemed short enough and well, Elizabeth, you do have a special place in my heart since you got me started doing this whole blogging thing and all...so here's to you!

Ten years ago...I was plowing through my first year in seminary and loving springtime in Louisville!

My to do list today...
1. Get to work on time - check.
2. Get summer calendar ready to mail - working on it.
3. Join my sis in the Relay for Life tonight to benefit America Cancer Society.

What would I do if I suddenly became a billionaire...
Travel the world for a year!

Three bad habits...
1. hitting the snooze.
2. procrastinating...especially when it's something I despise like dealing with car stuff.
3. going to Target....it's kind of a love/hate relationship.

Five jobs I've had...
1.worked a couple summers at a preschool.
2.worked at a psychologist/psychiatrist office.
3.worked in Pediatric Cardiology at TCH.
4.taught conversational English.
5.my sister hired me to teach dance...I only lasted one day!

Five things people don't know about me...
1. I took 4 years of French.
2. I can stand on my head.
3. I had open heart surgery when I was 17.
4. I love the movie Man On Fire.
5. I want to write an essay for This I Believe.

And I'm not going to tag anybody and laden them with peer pressure and guilt, but if you're at a lost for what to post...what's stopping you?

20 March 2008

March Madness Madders

Okay, so here's the thing, let's face it...I'm not that into sports. I couldn't care less about who's winning what and who's playing what and who's in what conference, blah, blah, blah. Unless of course, I have some personal investment in the team, like when the Rockets are playing for the championship or it's the Astros in the World Series or it's my niece kicking serious tail in soccer or my nephew busting heads in football, or some of our Stratford kids in Playoffs, or even Kasey's age-old buddy who's grad assistant coach for the SFA guys basketball team....but I mean, other than all that, I don't care. :)

But alas, March Madness comes around and I lose all sense of not caring. I'm sucked in. Suddenly the fact that I have committed to a bracket makes me insane with curiosity about who's winning at all times. I can't begin to tell you how many times I checked the status of games today. AND IT'S JUST THE FIRST DAY! Sheesh! What am I gonna do with myself? Suddenly, I'm watching the live game updates online during the day at work and hitting refresh every 5 seconds just in case the game has turned. I didn't even know bulldogs were from Georgia until they failed me in the last quarter of the game today. What's wrong with those guys anyway? You try to pull for the underdawg and look what happens! You get BURNED, that's what happens! I mean, really, those guys are an embarrassment to the game, fouling all over themselves, missing free throws, just lame. period. And yet, speaking of lame...why do I care? Well, because they cost me a vital point today that's why. It's March and I'm mad. Just plain mad. This is why I don't do sports, the stress is just too much. So, for a brief reprieve from my obsessive compulsiveness, I decided to do something different, you know, distract myself with something more positive and productive and beneficial to society.

I updated my Yahoo Avatar. What can I say? I'm officially a March Madness Memphis-lovin Mess...but what a great outfit!

18 March 2008

What a day of rejoicing, of rejoicing that will be..

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Well, while I am not in heaven today, I am certainly very very very happily rejoicing. My mom and dad received GREAT news today after meeting with the oncologist and going over all of her reports - she does NOT need to have chemo! How awesome is that? I can't tell you how excited we all are to be at this place in the journey. When I talked to my mom earlier today she sounded more excited and more like herself than she has in a really long time. The e-mail update she just sent said she felt like doing a cartwheel and a somersault she is so thrilled! And I don't know how to explain the huge sense of relief I feel...my eyes are beginning to tear up, but not because of sadness this time! I'm just so thankful for good news and thankful for God bringing me and us through to this place and thankful for incredible doctors and science and medical technology and thankful for so many of you who have shared this with me. Mostly, I'm thankful that God does answer prayer and that He has been so gracious. And I'm thankful that so many of you are giving Him glory too today because of my mom. That is awesome. I'm grateful for His love that never quits. And, even if she had needed chemo and even if the journey was different or longer or even if a multitude of things, I know that God's grace is always sufficient and that He is always the same and that He is always enough. His love never quit! What a wonder! So if you picture me today, picture me grinning. "Oh happy day...."

17 March 2008


Yep, a week ago the three cowgirls - Kasey, Janelle and moi - headed out for our third annual trip to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo! Such a great time, such beautiful weather, such fun animals, such cute bull riders, such great food, such a rich cultural experience, and such a great excuse to wear the cowboy boots and hat!

Getting out of the city and getting my rodeo on...about 5 seconds earlier I said, "Man, I can hardly see with this hat on!" Now we know why.

I cannot even begin to explain how big he was - I think his name was Peter the Great!

City Slicker goes country!

"Come on little buddy, if I can do it you can too!"

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a look of sheer joy...the deep-friend-oreo and I meet again!

And yet, just in case you missed it the first time, here's a closeup of just how happy I am!

When you see the next picture of happily fed piglets,
you'll realize why she has that look on her face!

Indescribably cute.

You've heard of a wolf in sheep's clothing, but what about a sheep in leopard's clothing?

John Deere never looked so good.

"She's a loooooong taaaaaaaaal Texan and wears a ten gallon hat..."

13 March 2008

His love never quits

This morning on the way to work I was listening to David Crowder...”Joy and pain, sun and rain, You’re the same, Oh You never let go.” Last night in our youth leaders meeting Chuck shared with us from Psalm 136. We read it out loud responsively from The Message. I’d encourage you to read it out loud yourself. This morning as I was writing my mom back in response to an update she sent, this is what came to mind...What a gracious God we have who grips us with his steadfast, covenant-deep, lovingkindness. His love never never quits.

When things are going well

His love never quits

When my mom had her biopsy

His love never quits

When she believed for God to heal her

His love never quits

When she talked to the doctor and found out she had breast cancer

His love never quits

During Christmas when I was there

His love never quits

When we had to learn to use words like cancer, chemo, radiation, oncology...

His love never quits

When we all had meltdowns

His love never quits

When she was encouraged

His love never quits

When we all cried

His love never quits

When we couldn’t sleep

His love never quits

When she agonized over her decision

His love never quits

When people continued to ask how my mom was doing

His love never quits

When we were so afraid

His love never quits

When I bought a plane ticket

His love never quits

When I saw the sunrise from my window seat on the plane

His love never quits

When my mom had the lumpectomy

His love never quits

When people prayed for her and for me

His love never quits

When my mom was so chatty after surgery

His love never quits

When I had to say goodbye

His love never quits

When she was brave for the radiation

His love never quits

When Kate went to see her

His love never quits

When we all waited and waited and waited

His love never quits

When I had to teach Deuteronomy 7

His love never quits

When God met with me on the Katy Freeway

His love never quits

When his Word didn’t seem to true to my eyes

His love never quits

When I crawled into his lap and looked into his face

His love never quits

When we heard 9% chance of it coming back

His love never quits

When we realized that meant 91% chance it WON’T

His love never quits

When my mom waits again to talk about chemo

His love never quits

When Kate and Zach did a little devotional last night

His love never quits

This morning

His love never quits