Tuesday, August 30

Defining words: Hallelujah

One website that I visit on a somewhat regular basis (once a month, approx), is http://www.dictionary.com/. I am a bit "attentive" about spelling words correctly and so will often go there to check spelling. Or sometimes I go there to see what a word means, mainly so that I don't use it incorrectly. Two weeks ago, I explained "prodigal." Today, the journey continues...

One word that is said quite regularly, in my opinion, is Hallelujah!
Especially if you attend church regularly, Hallelujah pops up in many many songs. However, interestingly enough, it is only in 4 verses of the Bible, according NIV and NASB translations, and all four times are located in the book of Revelations, in chapter 19. Interesting!

According to http://www.dictionary.com/, the word Hallelujah originates in the Hebrew language and quite wonderfully means "Praise Ye Yahweh!" or more modernly "Praise the Lord!"

And while humanity has liberalized the word so that it might mean:
  • an expression of relief or a similar emotion
  • a shout of joy, praise, or gratitude;
when you break the word down by origin, the word still means "Praise Ye Yahweh!"

So last week, my "atheist" co-worker responded, by email, to a situation that we had been working on by saying "Hallelujah! Have a good Friday."
Imagine my delight and chuckle!
Praise the Lord indeed!

Monday, August 29

A Young Man Lacking Sense

*I am doing a guest post (eek!) over at BetaChristian, a New Yorker who enjoys coffee and discussing spiritual things as much as I do! Every Monday, Moe has a running feature called Usual Suspects where he introduces a "lesser-known" Bible character. And this time, I got the privilege of contributing to it. So below is the start but then be sure go over to read the rest!

**a narrative adapted from Proverbs 7:6-28

They say it takes a village to raise a child.
I'm not sure our village can do any more for my neighbor's child, other than to pray to Yahweh.

My neighbor has a son and oh, the heartache this son has brought upon the heads of his parents. His father shakes his head. His mother wrings her hands. They continually desire to show him grace. They continually encourage him to walk in the way of our beloved King David, a man after God's own heart. But nothing seems to get through.

Even simple choices...things that are prudent and helpful...it's like he doesn't even consider those things that would help make life easier. He lacks common sense.

Continue reading...

Thursday, August 25

A Thoroughly German Post

I am having a "I miss Germany" week.
Along with "I miss Germany" comes the "I miss the Black Forest Academy." But this is about Germany, not BFA.

A colleague that I rarely work with just returned this past weekend from Germany, which probably started my whole "I miss Germany" week...thanks a lot Phil.

Here are some of the great things about Germany, just in case you've never been. And if you've never been, you should go...like right NOW...like start checking out airfare and get that passport renewed. And if you have been there, share in my love of Germany...let the great things of Germany wash over you until you, like me, are having an "I miss Germany" week (what a mean stinker I am!). So without further ado, the great things about Germany:

Okay, I don't have a lot of destinations, to be honest. I sadly didn't get to see a lot of German places as it is quite a large country and so many other equally interesting neighboring countries. But of the places I did go, I miss:
  • Berlin. This destination currently holds the coveted "best place I've ever visited" title. It surpassed all that I expected (which may be why I loved my time there)...mainly because I went with low expectations, really going for the company and not caring about the history or tourist opportunities. It was A-MAZ-ING! Ich bin ein Berliner!
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This little gem of a town is not super easy to get to, unless you drive in. It's a walled in city having it's roots start back about a millennium ago. If you go, you must eat a Schneeballen and go on the Nightwatchman tour. They have an English tour every night...it's interesting, funny, and completely worthwhile.
  • Freiburg im Breisgau. I know I'm completely biased about this city seeing as it was the closest German city near me but I think it's wonderful. The cathedral is beautiful. The area is surrounded by cobblestone streets and quaint cafes.
  • Grocery Stores. I know that nobody ever visits a country dreaming of visiting the local grocery stores but I love German grocery stores. I love the random non-food-related items you'd find in there (why yes, I did need a garden shovel! and of course it makes perfect sense to find it right next to the cheese!). I miss the German words swirling about me as I walk up and down the four or five aisles. I miss the unique food items that you simply cannot find over here. I miss the race to load your cart as fast as possible due to the itty-bitty counter. Good times, good times.
  • Schnitzel with spaetzle...the epitome of goodness. Don't think about the calories...just eat!
  • Pretzels...crusty and salty on the outside, soft on the inside.
  • Apfelkuchen mit kaffee...the perfect "coffee date" recipe
  • Pizza brotchen...there are these frozen pizza things you can buy at the grocery store. It's an individual serving of pizza on brotchen (a roll of sorts). We always had a box or two or three in our deep freezer for staff lunches, after-school snacks or random weekend meals. So good.
  • Schokomusli...the combination of chocolate and granola. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or any snack in between.

  • Spargel (Asparagus)...okay, now you're thinking "Mindy, good news...asparagus isn't just in Germany!" But what you may not know is that you rarely find green spargel. You will more likely find fat white spargel that come in April or May and become the featured guest on every restaurant menu. Pour a little hollandaise sauce on it and yum!
  • Apfelshorle...a combination of apple juice and club soda (I think?)...all I know is that I've tried to duplicate this to no avail.
  • Bratwurst. Before I went to Germany, I didn't mind bratwursts...it was okay. After Germany, I sometimes find myself standing in the bratwurst section at my grocery store, wondering if I should indulge myself or walk away, and missing the Germany bratwurst selection.
Extra German goodness:
  • Quaint cafes and/or outdoor seating. I know this isn't German specific but having lived most my life in a cool often-rainy area, sitting outside at a restaurant or cafe, rarely happens. I think it was in Germany where I sat outside for the first time and LOVED IT!
  • Autobahn...Yes, it has the reputation of "no speed limit" but it is a very safe place to drive. And not only that but Germans are very particular about carrying out good driving rules...rules I often wish for over here in Washington (like only being in the right hand lane to pass!!!!)
  • Castles on the hillside. Seriously!!! Nothing in the States compares with that.
  • Sparmuhl. The "get rid of your junk for free" day and a day to go "free junk shopping"....love it!
I also miss the short business hours, everything closed on Sundays, and various year-round markets and celebrations. I'd even be willing to put up with the humorous and slightly ridiculous garbage rules again.

Yessir-e-bob...I think I need to go back there one day.

Wednesday, August 24

These Whirlwind Days

I've allowed my schedule to get busy...much busier than normal.
Part of it is in the fact that I'm trying to take full advantage of the summer season before the rainy season returns (some time between mid-September and mid-October).

I used to think that Washington had four seasons...as I've aged, I've changed my mind. We have about 2-4 weeks of real winter, 2-6 weeks of real summer and then the rest of the time is the rainy or overcast season. Yes, spring and fall can have some really lovely days...the kind that makes us glad to live in Washington. But then the grey skies return and the heavens open with rain...which isn't completely awful, despite how I just managed to make it sound gloomy.

So anyhow, as I was saying, I'm trying to take advantage of the few remaining sunnier, warmer days. And, since I'm moving at then end of the year, I'm trying to be intentional about investing in relationships. And I've also decided to get involved in some community service...more on that another time. The busy schedule isn't bad and right now, I'm not feeling too stretched or tired but it is a bit astounding (to me) at how full it becomes.

I think I'll end with a random question...
I have friends coming for dinner on Saturday. Usually planning a menu is one of the exciting elements of inviting guests over, for me anyways. But this time, my mind is blank. I think of one dish...no excitement. I think of another dish...no excitement. I'm running out of time and need to go shopping for said meal. What should I make??? I wish I had a BBQ grill...I could get excited about that!

Wednesday, August 17

Defining words: Prodigal

One website that I visit on a somewhat regular basis (once a month, approx), is http://www.dictionary.com/. I am a bit "attentive" about spelling words correctly and so will often go there to check spelling. Or sometimes I go there to see what a word means, mainly so that I don't use it incorrectly.

**Side note: I often think of the scene in the wonderfully clever movie The Princess Bride, when Vizzini says "Inconceivable!" one too many times and Inigo Montoya responds with "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Yesterday, I looked up the word "prodigal." Not sure why...I guess the story of the "prodigal son" came to mind and I wondered, after hearing that word for years and years, what it truly meant.

**Another side note: all of this seems very familiar to me...so this may all be very similar to something that was recently published that I may have read (Francis Chan, maybe?). I'm not trying to steal anyone's thunder...not that anything I say would be new under the sun. Moving on...

Anyhow, the word Prodigal!

It's an adjective, meaning:

  1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
  2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with ): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
  3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.
Recklessly extravagant! Giving profusely! Lavish! Abundant!

So back to the story of the prodigal son, in Luke 15:11-32. Yes, the son was certainly a prodigal...the very inheritance that the father gave to the son, was recklessly and wastefully given away. The passage doesn't say how long it took the son to squander the wealth that he had. But it is apparent that his inheritance meant nothing to him outside of gratifying his immediate desires.

But we also see a prodigal father. In the face of his youngest son's demands for the inheritance, the father still gives. And when the son returns, penniless and oh-so-needy, the father runs to the son and welcomes him back freely and wholly. The father lavishes love and forgiveness on his son, offers his son a robe, sandals and a ring, and a party with choice meats. No conditions, no contracts, no hesitation. The father gave again and again to this immature and reckless son. A son that didn't earn or deserve anything.

The story of the prodigal son is just a story...a parable told by Jesus, that reflects some amazing and humbling truths. I am the wasteful, reckless, immature, and undeserving son. I often demand my own way, do whatever pleases me and then in humility, crawl back to God asking for His help. God is the extravagant and lavishing Father, who loves with a reckless abandon. He gives freely and wholly, continually offering love, redemption and forgiveness, to all who ask.

The makings of a wonderful love story.

Friday, August 12

Joy in pain

lessons that teach
community reaching in
words that encourage
knowing that God is still there
moments of release and relaxation and even laughter
the ability to feel, care, love, grieve
seeing the good, despite the bad
learning more about my strengths and weaknesses
being able to see transformation
learning how to communicate and handle conflict

Thursday, August 11

Larger Radiant Joys

sunshine bursting forth through grey clouds
the depth and richness of nature's colors
being wooed by the Savior
memorizing Scripture
meditating on Scriptures as it makes it way down to my heart
sister bonding time
getting inside a closed-up car, warmed by the sun
wind blowing you like a giant hug
farmer's markets lined with produce, flowers, and knick-knacks
sparkling waters
books that charm, encourage, challenge, or delight
grand stately mountains
the pleasure of using the talents that God has given me
planning excursions and reunions with friends
signing up to once again cook for 20 people
strangers and friends who offer up their homes

**what are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, August 10

Joys During Singleness

college life
dormitory living
college degrees
living with my grandparents for a few months
Black Forest Academy/my kiddos
living in Europe
ministry experiences
cooking for 15-20 people
friendships from all over
working in a coffee shop
able to give freely
hospitality in my apartment
silence when needed
Godly lessons on trust, patience, responsibility
falling in love with the Word
revisiting Germany and Holland
a vision and future beyond my expectations
working with middle school students
having a sustaining hope
able to serve spontaneously
last minute plans to see friends
coffee dates with girlfriends
not having to talk after watching an emotional movie
being cultivated by God
rejoicing in other's blessings
sleeping in on Saturdays as needed
minimal criticism on my cooking
satisfaction of accomplishing jobs

**I'm chuckling over this list, because honestly I was surprised at how much I came up with...should that surprise me? God has allowed me to remain single thus far...would He not choose to bless me during this time...my singleness doesn't negate the fact that there is much to be thankful for! Amen and amen!

Tuesday, August 9

Little Tiny Joys

raindrops hanging on windows or plants
breathing in eucalyptus-mint scent
chubby newborn cheeks
freckles that speak of uniqueness
a beautiful picture
an idea to encourage
prayers that remind that God is powerful and good
fresh berries as a gift
excitement over fun plans with my sister
laughter...delighted, full-body laughter
receiving packages
other people praying on your behalf
skype phone calls with distant friends
apfelkuchen from a friend
hearing stories of what God is doing around the world

Monday, August 8

Joy comes in the morning

I know I've done similar things before but after reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, I have been challenged to be a joy-filled person. To discover the joy in all circumstances, even the mundane.

In all circumstances includes:
  • bringing God into the simple tasks of taking care of laundry, washing dishes, or dusting (and I truly dislike dusting)! 
  • finding joy in the crappy, horrid, pain-filled moments...knowing and seeing that even then, God is still there!
  • as well as every moment in between!
When we choose to be thankful in our days and moments, we can be transformed by joy while inviting God to show Himself and to speak to us in ways a closed-off, un-thankful heart cannot hear or see.

So I've spent some time over the last two weeks, compiling a few lists of which bring joy. I'll be sharing these lists over the next few mornings. Feel free to share anything that you are thankful for and brings joy, if you'd like.