Wednesday, March 30

Short snippets

Running out of time.
There once was a girl. Who had to submit a paper by a deadline. The deadline quickly became just hours away. She sat waiting for another person's input. And prayed. And tried not to stress. However this wasn't just any deadline but THEE deadline of all deadlines. Moral of the story...checking your email every 10 minutes doesn't help.

Whither thou goest.
I've been reading a few blogs lately that have talked about not necessarily waiting for neon signs or voices from God but rather moving forward in life, trusting that He desires to use the abilities and heart-tugs that He has given you. This has really spoken to me and challenged me. Moral of the boldly go wherever, not allowing my insecurities or questions to stop me.

We've burned your ticket.
Dear boss, I am having fun on vacation and feel back at home. I am making cinnamon rolls, have my elbows deep in laundry, and making runs to the school for various reasons. And I'm visiting and hugging and laughing and loving it all. A lot. And they want me to stay. So it's time we must part. Amen and good bye. Moral of the story...the grass is greener...literally.

Sweetness personified.
Worship comes in many forms. It comes through singing praises to God. It comes in serving people in times of need. It comes over cups of coffee and shared stories. It comes in listening to heartache and pain. It comes in hugs and recalling memories. It comes in prayers and tears and laughing-so-much-your-stomach-aches. Moral of the story...chicken soup may be good for the soul but worship is better.


You know those people that just get you. It doesn't matter what you say because it's like you both are on the same wavelengths. Then whatever they say, speaks straight into your heart because it's the verbiage that connects with you.

I'm presently at one of my home in Germany. Where I worked/ministered for two years. It feels different being back but good. Changed but the same.

Anyhow, there is a missionary here who is the dad of one of my kiddos from 2005-2006. So I got to know her parents back then but had an opportunity to really spend time talking with her dad in 2010 when he came to my church on a missionary tour. During that visit, I got to share about my time in Germany and feel like I was really heard and understood. It was very encouraging. Anyhow, this couple is working at the school to spend this year with their daughter, as she is graduating in June.

I got to see both the husband and wife momentarily in the last couple days and made plans to spend time with them later on. But even in those brief moments, I felt that connection, that understanding, that likemindness. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to spending in-depth time with them soon! I anticipate being encouraged and challenged! Oh that we all had more of those types of interactions!

Thursday, March 24

A wee story of a girl

Once upon a time, there was a simple family, who lived on a simple farm. It wasn't huge and there was no extravagant barn or house. Just small unpretentious buildings.

The youngest of this family was a small girl. If you saw her, you wouldn't necessarily think that she was anyone super special. She was neither beautiful or ugly. Her mousy brown hair hung down her back. Her eyes were hazel and attentive. Her nose was small and upturned. Her clothes were plain, often worn-in hand-me-downs, from her older sister and sometimes even occasional clothes from her older brother. She was the type of girl who could blend in because she never drew attention to herself. To top it all off, her name was Annie...a simple name for a simple girl.

Annie knew she was often forgotten or overlooked, not by her parents, but by those in the town. Her sister, Rebekah, was the family beauty. Everywhere she went, people's eyes followed Rebekah as she moved with grace and poise. Random people would open the door for Rebekah, allowing it to shut immediately after, which almost always was in Annie's face. With a small sigh and great patience, Annie would calmly open the door and catch up with her sister.

Annie's brother, Thomas, was also well known. He was clever and could fix just about anything. Anytime there was a problem, Thomas had suggestions. Plus, if being clever wasn't enough, Thomas was also an entertainer. Everywhere he went, he'd make comments, tell jokes or stories, or do some little trick that would have people laughing delightfully at his antics.

But lest you think Annie sad or neglected, there were two specials thing about Annie that made her stand out. She didn't stand out in great ways to lots of people, like Thomas or Rebekah, but in small ways that meant great things to a few people. These few people were also often neglected or overlooked: like old Mrs. Hanson who lived down the road, with her family a state away; or her classmate Paul, whose own parents didn't love him; or the mother across town, with three little children, whose husband had left. To these few people, Annie was their angel. Better than anyone else in her family, Annie had the ability to listen and a compassionate heart.

She would often run over to old Mrs Hanson house to help her sweep the house and bring in the firewood. She regularly invited Paul to come to her house for dinner and to play. She would even help him with his homework, when she could. And Annie would ask her parents for extra eggs or muffins and run them over to the mother across town, and then spend time watching the children while the mother cooked or cleaned. With all of them, she spent time listening to their pain and their stories. Then out of compassion, she'd help or pray or encourage them to keep trusting God. Each time Annie came, it was as if a fresh summer wind blew in their door and brightened their day.

Once upon a time, there was a simple family, who lived on a simple farm. The youngest of this family was a small girl. If you saw her, you wouldn't necessarily think that she was anyone super special. But if you really saw her, you'd find out that despite being simple, she was quite special indeed.

Wednesday, March 23

Words I want to say, part 2

I wish I knew you better
I wish you knew me better
I don't have all the answers
Why did we lose contact
Thank you for believing in me
Your words aren't helpful
I just want your presence or a hug
Can you help me
How can I help you
Can I pray for you, right now
Will you teach me how to...
That hurt
Can I tell you about my Jesus

**These words are for nobody in particular but on the other hand, they are for everyone that I know and love. Often I let opportunities pass me by to say these words...words that have the ability to enrich and build up others...words that have the ability to heal and forgive. May I be more intentional about speaking love into people's lives.**

Monday, March 21

Words I want to say

I care...I genuinely do
If only you knew how much God loves you...really loves you
I may not understand but I'll listen
You mean so much to me
Talk to me, tell me more
What is God teaching you
Tell me your story
Can we be friends
Why is life so difficult
I think you're wonderful
I'm sorry
How can I help
Thank you, so much
Knowing you has changed me
Will you forgive me
I wish I could ease your pain
Can I give you a hug
What can I do to be a better friend/sister/daughter
What makes you tick
I love how you make me laugh/think/feel
Can you stay in my life forever
I love you

Friday, March 18

Life is a bit chaotic.

Next Friday, I leave on vacation for two weeks. (Hooray! Can't wait!!!)

However, I also have to submit my infamous thesis paper by March 30th, in order to graduate this May. I was hoping/planning on having it all wrapped up and submitted by March 25, next Friday, but I'm thinking that's not going to happen. Here is what remains to be done:
  • I am waiting to hear back from my advisor on chapter 4
  • Revise chapter four and then submit chapter 5 (plus the revised chapters 1-4) to my advisor
  • Wait to hear back from my advisor on chapter 5
  • Make final revisions on the entire paper
  • Submit the final copy to my advisor for approval
  • Wait to hear back for his approval
  • Then submit the whole kit and caboodle to the class/committee.
Honestly....*big sigh*....I don't know. I keep thinking it HAS to get done. My biggest "hang-up" is waiting for my advisor to respond. I can't revise and can't submit the next thing until I hear back from him. Oh, how I am praying he returns chapter 4 to me today or tomorrow, at the latest. I'm running out of time.

Plus, seeing as I'm going on vacation, I have to tidy up my desk, trying to wrap up as many things as possible, so that I can effectively transfer everything to the lady who will be overseeing my desk while I'm gone. Work always gets more stressful right before a least in my experience.

Plus, I teach Sunday school this Sunday, which I'm 90% ready for.
Plus, my friend's last Sunday is this Sunday so there is a special commission service for them Sunday night.
Plus, I offered to make lemon bars and 7-layer bars for the food part of this service.
Plus, I have to renew my rent before leaving next week or make plans to move back into my parent's house come May, which is up for sale. ( parents would love that...oh least I get a chuckle from this!)
Plus, Plus, Plus

But (strangely?), I am, for the most part, at peace.
Is it because I'm making good use of my time?
Is it because I'm seeing progress on my work commitments?
Is it because I'm spending more time in prayer each day?
Is it because I recognize that there are some things outside my why worry?

All I know is that God is good. He is faithful.
And despite the chaos swirling around me, He is very much in control.
I'm so thankful for that!

Wednesday, March 16

A Reflection on Baptisms (and Germany)

I've been thinking about baptisms lately.
Partly because I am studying Jonah, which I get to teach to middle-schoolers this Sunday. Partly because I witnessed eight youth get baptized last night.

I love the symbolism of old-self/new-self, old life/new life, death/resurrection, identity in world versus identity in Christ. I cry at every baptism because it's sweet, wonderful, exciting and powerful.

Let me tell you about some baptisms that I witnessed that have become among my favorite:

Setting is Germany. Black Forest Academy.
Everyone who is baptised comes out on stage, gives a testimony about their relationship with God and why they want to be baptised. Then they get in the little tub-thing and two other people come out, whether it was parents, respected staff members, friends (if it was an adult getting baptised), and/or the pastor. One of the people reads a selected Bible verse, chosen for that person...either a verse that speaks a blessing or encourages growth or speaks into their life situation. Then either the same person or the other person will say a prayer for that individual. Then they baptize. Then clapping, cheering, crying, laughing, hugging, etc.

I love hearing testimonies and think they are (or should be) a key part of every baptism...baptism is a symbol of identifying with Christ. This means that to the world they are going actively choose to speak and live with godliness. Will they mess up? Yes, of course but what baptism should communicate is that they are not going to resort to their old lifestyle where maybe they hid their faith like wall-flowers. Sharing your testimony at your baptism is a practice run, so to speak, of that commitment.

But I also love the idea of having people speak into your life, through God's Word and through prayer. The people are chosen (at BFA) because of the key mentor-like relationship that they have with the individual. What this communicates is that the relationship we have with God isn't meant to be lived alone. We are meant to journey with others. And I don't know about you but I need other people to speak into my counsel encourage or challenge rebuke me. As I grow in my faith, I should seek to be mentored and to mentor others.

So there you have it. What's your favorite part of baptism? What elements does your church include in baptisms? Do you cry at every baptism like me? :)

Tuesday, March 15

A prophet and a people

There once was this man who had a special relationship with God.
God would talk, the man would hear.
Until one day the man heard a message that repulsed him.
He loved God but just didn't like what God was saying...what God was asking.
So he turned his back toward God.
He dug in his heels, like a stubborn child.
He fled, trying to hide, as if one could hide from God.
Maturity to immaturity in seconds.
But wither he went, God was there.
And the man knew it.

He saw God in the storm.
And he saw God in the beast.
Finally, while held captive and finally heading the right direction
he humbled his heart and agreed to do what God asked.
So he went to speak those who were awful
to put himself into the "lions dens", people who neither knew or feared God
And he shared God's message.

With a sinking realization and a growing resentment
the man watched the people hear the message.
He watched as they too repented to God
changing their ways, and bowing in worship.
Instead of the impending destruction that he hoped for
Grace and Forgiveness abounded
Where death was imminent
Life prevailed.
And the man hated it.

So what happened next?
We don't know. The story ends here, for now.
Did this man and God continue to have a special relationship?
Did the man finally come to accept God's decision?
Is this just one flawed moment in the midst of many God-honoring moments?
Or did this story change things between God and the man?

A story of reconciliation
has the bad people drawing close to God
and has the good person stepping away.
A story of promise
that regardless of what you've done
or how far away from God you are
Grace and Forgiveness is yours
if you but ask.

Friday, March 11


I'm applying for this job...whose application is a combined total of 12 pages. This doesn't include the references which is a total of another 10 pages. I think this may be the longest application. Needless to say, as I am working full time and trying to wrap up a thesis paper that is due March 25, I don't have lots of extra time to complete this I've been doing a few questions a day. I'm making progress.

In the meanwhile, my friends who are moving to Mexico want me to pursue their same ministry...potentially to even work with them, which would be delightful! As I am genuinely interested in learning if I am "qualified" or if this ministry has potential for a person like me, I'm also checking into this too.

I feel like singing a Mindy-related song:
oh where, oh where, will this girl end up?
oh where, oh where, will she be?
in this state, this country or somewhere else?
oh where, oh where, will she be?

On a different note, I had a fun little John Grisham-esque investigation yesterday. This one pecan company that we oh-so-briefly worked with, owes my company $4000. Well, I've been pestering my contact about payment...he kept putting me off saying his owner needs to write the check and that he would connect with the owner. (I believe this contact is genuine!) However, the last I heard from him was Dec. I've emailed once a month since and he hasn't written I started to wonder if this pecan company was no more. So yesterday, I called every single phone number I could find and they were either disconnected or the call could not go through. So then I typed the company name into a search engine and found the owner's name and their CPA's name (I guess the CPA's name has to be filed for any business least in TX.) So then I did a search on the owner who also has one other company...again, none of the phone numbers work. So then I went after the CPA...guess what? Out of business...not only that but his license was revoked back in 1998! I think this is when I started laughing. I ended up calling the state of Texas...the department that issues business licenses...and all they could tell me is that it shows in their system as a still-valid company "in good standing" but she had no phone number for them. Then my boss wanted me to see if I could find my original contact's home phone number. No such luck...not that I blame him for the dud companies he's worked for. Anyhow, I told my boss that I'm pretty certain we are out the $4000 unless he wants to send them to collections or file a lawsuit...which will probably cost our company at least that much money. This ended up being a fun little addition to my day.

Lent...I have not normally observed Lent. It's not something my church promotes, encourages or even talks about really. But this year, I found a devotional that someone put together and so I decided to go for it. I removing a couple distractions and adding some designated prayer time. Three days far so good. I think this will be a good experience, emotionally and spiritually.

Tuesday, March 8

Struggling with Scripture

One passage of Scripture that I have a hard time grasping is Luke 18:1-8.

It's the story of the persistent widow. A widow had a wrong committed against her but lived in a town where the judge was known to be self-absorbed and uncompassionate. The widow repeatedly went before the judge asking for help and was repeatedly denied. However, one day the judge got so annoyed by her persistence that he decided to grant her request just to be done with her.

What, pray tell, is the moral of the story?

Often I have heard that God is the judge and we are the persistent widow. So, does this mean that I need to daily bring my requests to God until He gets tired of hearing my requests and decides to grant them? Somehow, I don't think God works that way. Moreover, I don't necessarily want God to grant my requests just because I begged/beseached daily for years...I want Him to grant the requests because it is a part of His will and desire for my life. If prayer is the focus of the story, then I might be inclined to think that God doesn't listen to my prayers...this contradicts many passages in Scripture where He asks us to pray! Plus, I know God isn't like the uncaring judge because He has proven Himself to be so good.

So maybe this isn't really about prayer after all.

Verses 6-8 make it sound like it's about justice...righting the wrong that was done against the widow. We live in a sin-filled world, full of people who have been hurt or are hurting others. Does this parable mean that when we have been hurt or persecuted or cheated or slandered that God will provide justice if we asks repeatedly? If there's one thing that I am learning through my thesis paper, it is that God's ways are not necessarily my ways...meaning, that what seems like injustice may be setting a stage for something greater than I can imagine or that God may want to use my pain to bring glory to His character or that justice may not be granted until we are with Christ in heaven.

So maybe this isn't fully about justice either.

In my reflection on this passage, I've concluded that the link to this whole weird little story, is the very last line:
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
The widow demonstrated faith by continually going before the judge even after receiving no after no after no! She didn't give up...she didn't figure that it was hopeless (which by all accounts it certainly seemed to be). She continued to get up each day and present her case before the judge in hopes that today would be the day that he would hear her and justice would be delivered.

If the story is about faith, then suddenly I can make sense of the story. Suddenly, I can wrap my mind around the fact that God wants me to demonstrate that He will work things that He will hear my prayer even when it seems like He doesn' that He loves me infinitely more than the incompassionate that where I am is where He desires to use me.

Now I know that there are things about God I will never fully grasp or understand...and I'm okay with that. So I admit that this little story could indeed be about prayer or justice, which means I don't fully understand the application...and that would be okay too. Maybe He can explain it to me when I get to Heaven. But until then, this is my current take on it...and I think God is okay with that.

Wednesday, March 2

23 DAYS!!!

Today is March 2nd, people!
I leave March 25th for my visit to Germany!
That means I have 23 days to finish my thesis paper!

Prayers appreciated.
And encouragement.
And laughter.
And coffee.

Tuesday, March 1

The Biblical character that Christian women "hate"

Yesterday I addressed the Biblical "Mr. Right." Today, I'm going to write about the Biblical woman that makes most women squirm. As I said yesterday, hopefully "hate" is too strong of a word and not even applicable.

But if I could choose one woman in the Bible who is the epitome of godliness and feminine perfection it would be the Proverbs 31 woman.

She makes clothes, in delight
She chooses good food to eat
She gets up early to prepare food for her family
She buys fields and plants a vineyard
She is strong and healthy
She doesn't forget to fill the lamps with oil
She remembers the poor and helps those in need
Again, she makes sufficient clothing for everyone in her home
She is modest
She makes extra belts and garments to sell them
She is known for her strength, dignity, and pleasant disposition
Her words are full of wisdom and she is a model of kindness
She is never idle

I don't know about you but I read this list and already feel tired. Whew! What a woman!

Umm...unless we are talking about crocheting scarves, I sorely lack in clothes-making department. I'm happy to do the laundry and even happier to cook but don't ask me to sew...if you do, no guarantees as to what you'll get (ie, think Denise's shirt for Theo). I may not ever make my own clothes or clothes for my own family but what I love about this woman is how her focus is on those around her: her husband, kiddos, and the poor/needy. She is something who puts others before herself.

Another thing I appreciate is the industriousness of this woman. In this modern era of feminist movements, we have a group of people who cry out for woman independence and freedom from archaic stereotypes but this Proverbs 31 woman was a hard worker, bought and worked her own land, sold products in the markets, and was known for her character. This description dates back before is about as archaic as you can get and yet it speaks of her ability to be productive, frugal, opportunistic, and contribute to the health and status of her family. Her husband and kids didn't stifle her personality...rather she allowed them to inspire her. She was free to be who she was and to serve her family through her energies and talents.

But thing I appreciate the most about her is her character. She delighted in providing for her family. She was modest and respectful. She was strong and wise. She embodied love. Because of that, her husband and kids adore her and realise that they are blessed to have her. She mirrors godliness even in the midst of her crazy busy life.

She may seem like an impossible ruler to measure one's self against but overall, if you simplify the list, the calling isn't much different from what you and I face. I may not be married or have kiddos like she does, but that doesn't change the fact that I am still able to mirror godliness, allow God to use the talents He's given me, and to allow myself to address the needs of those around me.

Perhaps, she's not that intimidating after all.