Friday, October 29

Happiness is...

...discovering a Peruvian restaurant nearby

...meeting up with family and friends to give it a try

...and then getting to eat this plate of deliciousness:

This, my friends, is Lomo Saltado: Beef, Onion, Tomato, Cilantro, and French Fries is a gravy-ish sauce, served with rice. Carbs, what carbs!?! I would challenge anyone to take a bite and not swoon from its goodness.

My sister and I also shared this:

Papas a la Huancaina: Potatoes with a creamy cheese? sauce. Oh yum. Believe's yum!
These dishes made my night.

My sister and I have been to Peru twice on mission trips. There were the foods we loved when we were there and now that I know that goodness is nearby, I'm going to have to go again! (These are not my photos...alas! I forgot my I found these on the internet.)

Monday, October 25

Books to read

I like to read. A lot.

When I was younger, I would get so lost in books that people would have to sharply and repeatedly say my name so that I would snap out of the little world, created by my book. I loved that!

I don't get as lost into stories as I used but I still love a good book and would almost always choose a good book over a TV or a movie. One thing that I look forward to in the future is to read a book together with my husband and to read to my kiddos, if the Lord wills.

Anyhow, I got to thinking of the few books that I found really good, that I thought I'd share with you:

  • Eric Liddell: Pure Gold by David McCasland--This is a biography on the famous "Chariots of Fire" runner. Not only is this book interesting and easy to read but very enriching. I found myself challenged by the life and devotion that Eric had for God. If I could encourage you to read one book, it would be this! He is one person I cannot wait to meet one day!
  • A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue by Wendy Shalit--I read this book in Germany and found it very good. Admittedly, it's a bit wordy and dry at times but if you keep reading you'll keep finding good nuggets throughout it. As a secular Jewish woman, Wendy writes about the need for modesty in our society and how the loss of it is dangerous. Her research is very thorough and surprising. You'll come away campaigning for modesty! (Warning...her cover is a bit "scandalous.")
  • Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life by Lauren Winner--This book is story of the journey that Lauren Winner experienced in her relationship with God and self. A child of a nominal Jewish dad and a complacent Baptist mom, Lauren choose to be convert to Orthodox Judaism at a young age. During her early college years, she was wooed by Christ and became a Christian, forsaking all things Jewish. Missing the rhythm of Judaism, Lauren has found how to incorporate her upbringing into her relationship with Christ and this book shares that journey.
  • The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott--Okay, honestly, I don't remember much from this book. I had to read it in college but I remember really liking it and feeling like I was understanding the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) more clearly. It's on my "must read again" stack.
I'm sure there is many more great books I could share with you but I'm drawing a blank now. What good books have you found worth reading?

Sunday, October 24

Living in tomorrow

I know it's good to live in the moment but right now, I'm living in tomorrow.

From March 25-April 11, I am going to Germany and to Holland. I have about 8 kiddos who are graduating BFA this year and I want to see them before they disperse world-wide. So one week in Germany and then up to Holland to see my Dutch friends for a week. So excited. I can't wait to give hugs, have chats and coffee times, laugh and laugh and laugh some more, take photos of my small 6th graders now tall 12th graders, have yummy German and Dutch foods, and just be! Plus by that time, I'll be all done with my Master's degree! Yep...all done! So nice.

And then...

I found out yesterday that a college friend of mine, who lives one hour north of Toronto, is getting married next summer. I am so there! I haven't seen him since 2004 and I am so happy for him! So naturally by going to Toronto, I already know that I'm going to (hopefully) see another college friend and his family, and a couple BFA friends and their families! Then I checked to see how far away Barrie, ON is from Toronto, ON and found out in the process that Toledo, Ohio is so close to Toronto...only 5.5 hours away in fact!!! Who is in Toledo? My dear co-workers/supervisors/home-away-from-home/friends from BFA! What's a 5.5 hour drive when I'll be so much closer than on the average day!?!

It's overwhelming and exciting to think of all these wonderful people that I will get to see within the 5-10 months, Lord willing!
*Happy sigh*

Thursday, October 21

Relationships are funny things

  • Ever wonder why there are some people you just naturally click with; others that you like but have to intentionally pursue depth; and others still that you just don't connect with? I've reflected on this from time to time. When I was in Germany, I didn't naturally click with anyone. I liked the people around me but felt like I had to really work to create friendships. It was worth it but just took time. Then there's people, like my friend Erin, who I knew the first time I met her that we'd be good friends and get along great! Interesting, isn't it? I hope I never give up on a relationship because it doesn't come easily.
  • I found out this past week that one BFA friend of mine is now engaged and a church friend is now pregnant. Both of these girls have waited, and yearned, and cried, and prayed and now, they have seen God answer their prayers. Having walked these journeys alongside them, I couldn't be happier or more excited for them.
    • Naturally, my second reaction is longing...and prayer.
  • I've been concerned about my brother for a few years. He grew up attending church, just like I did, and even asked Jesus to be His Savior when he was 7. He has since stopped living for the Lord or really even wanting anything to do with church or God. My guess is that he either sees a lack of relevance or he is not willing to surrender his life to what God might ask of him. Anyhow, I was starting to wonder if he even believed in God. So two weeks ago, at Sunday lunch, I asked him if he still believed in God. He stated that he would rather not get into it there, at the lunch table, but that he wasn't sure and would be happy to talk with me about it another time. I was very pleased that he left the door wide open. Now I just pray that God will provide such a time and give me the ears to hear and words to say...
  • When I was a kid, my parents put in the AWANA program. In case you don't know AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, II Tim 2:15), it's a Christian kids program where you memorize Bible verses, play games, have lessons, etc. I did AWANA from age 5 to 12. I am helping out with AWANA this year "part-time" and it occurred to me last night that I've been singing the AWANA theme song and pledge to AWANA flag for 26 years now. So funny! Even though I went through AWANA and did all the workbooks, I am still amazed when I listen to these girls rattle off verse after verse. Last night one of the girls recited a verse and afterwards I said, "great verse...this is a really good verse to know." She looked at me briefly, said "oh" and then proceeded to her next verse. I had to hold back a chuckle. I often pray that these kids hold onto these verses better than I have.

Tuesday, October 12


I hate that stifling, almost choking, feeling of being overwhelmed.

Lately, whenever I look at my work/personal calendar, that feeling has crept up and I end feeling close to panicking and crying.

Between working 40 hours a week, trying to make progress in my thesis paper, squeeze in exercise, visit my Dutch friend, chiropractor appointments, church commitments, accommodating my co-worker's always pending/changing schedule, spending time with God, a movie with my sister, sleep, eat, and have a mental down-time or two, can you blame me for feeling overwhelmed?

So, my action plan: Yesterday I postponed or cancelled two of this week's commitments, which helps. I think I'm going to have to tell my friend that I'll only be able to see her once or maybe twice this week, until the weekend. As for exercise, I still have it penciled in but I might reduce how often I go. I brought my computer to work today to utilize my lunch hour, which is something I haven't done in a while. I'm planning and prepared to "fight" my co-worker to have Friday off work and maybe Monday, which would really help!

I know things will get done...they always do. So I am trying to not worry about it and just take a deep breath until the panic passes but what I'd like to do is to run off to Hawaii with my school work and just work on that and be! One can dream, right?

Oh one side note, my last Master's class (with the exception of the looming thesis paper) starts next Monday. Hooray!

Monday, October 11

A Weekend in Review

This past weekend had been in the works for about three weeks.
I must say that I was only ever mildly looking forward to it. I knew it would be a good weekend but also tiring and a bit inconvenient.

One of my Oregonian friends was invited to a wedding in Canada that was on Sunday. She didn't want to travel alone and thus recruited her sister (my BFA friend) and me to come along for the trip. Our excuse for going...was to see Rich and Lynn...a BFA couple who are so special and dear to us. (As a side note, BFA is the Black Forest Academy, in Germany...a boarding school for missionary kids that we all worked at.)

On Friday, my friends arrived to the area and we met up to go swing dancing, something they both enjoy. I was so lost. I didn't feel adventurous on the dance floor with my zero amount of lessons and/or experiences. Plus I practically went from zumba to swing dancing that night so after an hour of watching and laughing, I was pooped. I danced all of three dances. The poor sap who first asked me to dance was so gracious. I was very upfront that I had never done this before and didn't even know what to do. So he tried to teach me. The last dance was with my friend Amy who was by far a better teacher than the two guys and it was a fun way to end the 2am.

On Saturday, we left my place around 1:30pm and drove up to Rich and Lynn's. I haven't seen them since 2007 so it was very good to see them again! I still say that Lynn is one of the four people who got me through my 2nd year. They fed us such great Greek food, made me a latte, and all of us talked and talked and talked...about Germany, about our present and future, and about God. Since our time was short, we talked until 1am.

On Sunday, we went to church with Rich and Lynn and then back to their place for a quick lunch, which actually ended up being not so quick. We got to talking again and stayed perhaps a bit later than we should have...but it was so good! After a hug goodbye with a promise to visit again, the three of us tromped off the wedding. It was a bit strange attending a wedding for someone I didn't know but it was still lovely. Immediately after the ceremony, we started the drive home. We didn't get to my place until 6:30pm and after a quick change and bite to eat, we all left; my friends back to Oregon and I to another friend's house. My dear friend from Holland is in town for 2.5 weeks and last night was the first chance I had to get to see her. My previous late nights made me super tired by 9:30pm so I headed home with plans for the upcoming weeks. So excited!

Partly due to my personality and partly due to my schedule, I find it easy to allow myself to become a bit reclusive...not necessarily intentionally but it happens. Then one day, I find myself cranky, weepy, and restless and I realize that I need to get out and be with people. The chance to love and be loved, the chance to hear and be heard, and the chance to laugh and laugh and laugh some more. While this weekend may have been slightly inconvenient, it was so good and exactly what I needed. I realized on my way home from Canada that I felt refreshed, even after shortened sleep amounts and a busy weekend! It's amazing how that happens, isn't it?

All in all, a good weekend!

Thursday, October 7

Mindy's Amusing Moment

At my apartment complex, there are several garbage "stations." In each station, there are two garbage dumpsters; one for garbage and one for recycling.

My sister and I have a box in our apartment that we throw all our recyclables into and then we alternate times to take it out to the dumpster. (Amy always notifies me when it is my turn to do it...bless her heart...and then she keeps reminding me until I actually do it...isn't that lovely?) So this morning, I grabbed my work bag and the box and tromped outside.

I should mention that the station closest to our apartment is right next to people's apartments. I mean, their windows are right behind the station, which I'm always aware of since the only time I take garbage and recyclables out is in the morning, before leaving for work, at 7:30am.

So I walked to the station and started to tip the recyclables into their dumpster. A glass bottle immediately fell into the dumpster making all kinds of loud racket as it hit the metal bottom, which made me all the more "nervous" for those poor people in the neighboring apartments. So I quickly decided that I would just put the recyclables in my car and take care of it after work when I come home.

This didn't strike me as odd or crazy until I walked out of the station, carrying my garbage, only to encounter two other people walking to their cars, who must have thought that I was a garbage diver or a cleaned up homeless person. Clearly, when you leave the garbage station, you are supposed to leave the garbage inside but no, I'm taking it with me. Needless to say, I was slightly embarassed but then started laughing as I got in my car.

C'est la vie!

Wednesday, October 6

The pastry case runneth over...

My sister works at Starbucks. I wish I worked at a coffee shop. I worked at a coffee/ice cream shop for a year after returning from Germany. It wasn't the best work environment but I loved the coffee part of it. Did you know that that they have barista contests? I think that would be the funnest thing.  Maybe one day I can work at a coffee shop again and better my barista skills...but this is about my sister.

At lunchtime yesterday, I got onto facebook and my sister's best friend, who also works at the same Starbucks (how cool would it be to work with your best friend!!!), had posted that someone ordered 30 petite vanilla scones for delivery on Tuesday. However, instead of 30 scones (3 boxes), the person accidentally ordered 30 boxes...300 scones! Oops!

Can you imagine? The delivery guy shows up and box after box THERE ARE MORE SCONES!

I'm sure they called every store in a 5 mile radius asking if they could use more scones for the day! I know they also sample food sometimes so I bet those scones were the samples of the day! My sister has mentioned her co-workers' abilities to talk up different products, meeting store goals. So I can only imagine that every customer was given a "petite scone" pitch. Plus, my sister brought home two boxes of scones (as if we need that but yay!).

You see, the scones only have a one day shelf life allowance. They had to get rid of all the scones or toss them at the end of the day. Sad, isn't it?

Anyhow, I have yet to connect with my sister to hear how things turned out. Hopefully the person who mis-ordered isn't in too much trouble.

Tuesday, October 5

Thesis Paper...apology and elaboration

Back on 09/24, I wrote:

I'm sure I'll elaborate on this a bit more later on but I do find it amusing that about 8 of people included the statement that "God does not give us more than we can bear." This statement isn't Biblical and why wouldn't God give us more than we can is in those moments we will turn to Him and rely on Him for help. It is in those moments where His strength works through our weaknesses and ALL glory goes to Him. (I feel a soapbox coming on so I'll I said, I'll probably tackle this thought later on.)

It occurred to me last night that the way I wrote this sounds too confident and very likely condescending and judgmental. Let me apologize. I spoke out of line or at least should have followed up with my reasoning instead of just leaving it hanging. If I have offended, forgive me please! A friend of mine, who is very sweet and gracious, read that post and asked for more of my reasonings/thoughts behind what I wrote. She did so in a very open way but through her email, I was convicted.

I will quickly and honestly admit that I have not done enough research on I Corinthians 10:13..."No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I haven't researched Greek words, read commentaries or anything of the sort.

The most common way I hear this verse quoted (as was quoted in my survey) is that "God does not give you more than you can bear"...however the verse above does not exactly say that. Instead it says that "God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." Does tempted mean the same thing as suffer/pain/endure? I don't know.

If you read verse 13 in context, verses 1-12 have to do with the Israelites sinning. They were God's chosen people and yet willingly chose to disobey and walk away from God. Because of this, God dealt with their sin. So how I read verse 13 is that when I am tempted to sin, it won't be a temptation that I just can't won't be a temptation that has such power over me that my only option is to sin. Instead I think it means that no matter what temptation is facing me, because of God I have ability to resist it, to be free from it, to turn away.

In regards to suffering, I believe more along the lines of this Corinthian passage: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul pleaded for relief from this thorn. But through his weaknesses and through his times of great pain, God's power was made known!

As I mentioned back on 09/24, why wouldn't God take us to end of our limits...perhaps even to death...just to bring glory to His name! In my weaknesses, He is made strong! In my shortcomings, His faithfulness shines brighter. If I am crippled and broken in the process and still manage to look to God and trust in Him, how much more glory would that bring him than if I could endure the whole thing in my own strength!

I do believe that God walks with us through hardships. In both of the interviews I shared about on 09/29, they both reach the point where they begged for death or thought they would die and cried out to God. He carried them through that experience although physical relief still didn't come right away.

Anyhow, these are some of my thoughts. I am very open and willing to hear any of your thoughts/reasonings/agreements/disagreements. I have much to learn still.

Monday, October 4

Double Edged Sword

I love my former senior pastor...he was a good preacher. Even after 30 years, his preaching was still relevant, full of truth, and able to cut to the core.

Since he's been gone, we've had several guest pastors come in along with our elders, to oversee the preaching rotation. In order to maintain some "normalcy" in the pulpit, our elders have decided that we are doing to do a series on Timothy. I have been so challenged by these sermons.

Week one: (I'm actually just now listening to this sermon since I was gone then.) This is on Acts 16, when Paul and Timothy first join. Timothy had the kind of characteristics and traits that Paul was looking for. He was a young man of character which was most likely seen in his day-to-day interactions with others.

Week two: This sermon was on I Timothy 1:1-11. The main thing I got out of this sermon was that the gospel message is going to offend. So often, I think I hold back from sharing anything about the Gospel because I don't want to offend others. However, that is going to happen to some people anyways. Better to share and offend than to always keep quiet and offend God by my disobedience.

Week three (yesterday): This sermon was on I Timothy 1:12-20. This was on my call to call to service. It was one of those sermons where it felt like it was written and preached just for me. While I have a lot of uncertainty over my future and career and destination...the only thing I have been certain of all along is that God has called me into ministry. The main thought here was that in order for God to call me into service, I need to be called to Him first. Any ministry I will have will stem from my relationship with God. This means I need to feed and enrich my relationship with God first and foremost.

I realise these are all fairly common insights but I needed to be reminded of these lessons. God first, in all things. God first, over the risk of offending others. God first, as the sanctifier of my character. And God first, with ministry as an extension of that relationship.

Amen and Amen!

Friday, October 1

A Childhood Desire

I don't know when exactly I first came up with or realised this dream of must have been around 5th grade or so. But I remember thinking how I'd like to buy a really big house.

Not one of those huge houses that only has three huge rooms and closets the size of a garage but a huge house with lots of bedrooms and a decent sized yard (although I don't want to do the mowing). The reason why? So that I can take in kids who need a place to live...a safe place...a home...a place to just be and to connect with others and to grow...a place in which they could be wanted and loved.

Foster kids, adoption, or however else they came to me...I didn't care. I just wanted to mother the needy, abused, lonely kids in my community.

At that time, this huge home was located, right here in Washington but as I've become older the location for this home as become more global as I've become more missions-minded.

Give me a home in Africa for a bunch of AIDS orphans or child solders.
Give me a home in Asia full of abandoned kids or sex-trade victims.
Give me a home in America for the lost and broken all around us.
I want to hug and love on them all!

Honestly, my dream hasn't changed too much however the location is now negotiable.
Perhaps one day, I'll see that home but right now, I'm still dreaming...