Thursday, August 17, 2017

3 little stories.

Scenario 1. a group of kids want to meet the president of the united states (imagine a fictitious president if you need too lol, I did). So they write him letters and invite him to visit their club cause they really want to meet him and experience his life, see what he's doing and observe how he works. They want to be like him someday. But his schedule is pretty booked for the next year, so they don't get to meet him.

Scenario 2. a group of kids wants to meet the president. They call around and find out he's going to be in Dallas for a weekend. So they ask if they can see what he's doing and how he works. So he says, "sure! Come to 1414 Roadway at 2pm", But their parents don't want to take them... it's too far and too expensive to drive the 2 hours to Dallas. And the traffic will be awful. And they'd have to ask for time off work. So they convince the kids that very few regular people get to meet the president... the picture they have of the president on their clubhouse wall is as close as most people get to the president.

Scenario 3. a group of kids wants to meet the president. they hear that he's going to be in Houston TODAY. they call him up and they ask if there's any way they can meet him. "He says, "Of Course! Meet me at 1515 highway Dr. at 4pm". Their parents don't want to take them, Houston is even further. But the kids continue to beg and plead, so the parents decide to send them on a bus; give the kids what they want and they don't have to be inconvenienced. The parents make sure to tell the kids not to do anything outside of what they're supposed to; ride the bus; take a taxi to the address, meet the president and then come straight home. So a couple hours later they're at a stop in Lufkin and a motorcade drives by. The kids immediately recognize that it's the president and they run to flag the driver down. 
"Mr. president, Mr president can we ride with you?". 
"Of course, but I must warn you, sometimes it's dangerous to ride with the president. People try to do terrible things to the leader of a nation, as well as the people closest to him. I promise you this though, I'll be right next to you the whole time."
This scares quite a few of the kids, they remember learning about Kennedy and Lincoln and other presidents and government officials that have been shot at. Plus, their parents would probably be upset if they change their plans without their permission and put themselves in danger. So most of them get back on the bus and stick with the plan. But one of the kids decides it would be crazy NOT to go with him, after all this is why they started their club to begin with, it's what they talk about at every meeting! But now he's alone cause his friends are on the bus. His parents will be upset he didn't follow their plan, but he remembers that they voted for him and he's heard them say he's a good and trustworthy and very powerful man. How could this be wrong?
He breathes in deeply, take the presidents hand and steps into the car.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Stuck in Forward?

I like analogies. I like painting a picture of a concept so that I can see it and grasp it with a little bit more understanding. Sometimes, though, the pictures I come up with are quite silly.

I was thinking through some stuff we've been reading, talking and thinking about and I was imagining the process of trying to explain such a shift in thinking and what it would look like to others. could I be more vague? possibly. During all this vague pondering, into my head pops an image of MATER. Ya know, Tow-Mater, from Cars, lol. Lightening McQueen has only ever driven forward, doesn't even have review mirrors, and then there goes good ol'Mater, freakin' him out by driving backwards.

Sometimes the things we step into look backwards to others. Sometimes the things we've devoted years to, look like they're moving forward but feel backwards. And sometimes you just have to stop and ask which way you're actually going and really examine whether or not you are actually heading toward the intended destination.

clear as mud?

Tha's alright... Mater doesn't mind a little mud either.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Home Again

Rested from hours and hours of travel with one bag unpacked and one still fragrant with the colors of indian spices waiting to be incorporated into this American home. Morning chai consumed and here I sit with a whirl of thoughts in my heart and mind, yet the numbness of jetlag requires an added effort to form them into comprehensive statements.

We arrived at our final destination and took rest. A short time later we watched the littlest ones practice writing letters and numbers. Then evening brought the next wave of kids home and we were once again all reunited. The following day was filled with more rest, chai, coffee, tasty kabobs and belated Christmas presents of coloring books, stickers and various small toys. In the days following we took lunch to a leper colony, went to the grocery store, drank chai, played with kids, sat on rooftops, drank chai, ate corn... yummy yummy chili lemon corn, talked, watched silly indian shows on tv, drank chai, ate good food, rested, drank chai, visited the kids preschool, ate more good food, fasted and prayed, celebrated, colored, drank coffee, laughed, played, drank chai, tickled, read, wished good mornings, afternoons and evenings, studied for exams, watched movies, drank chai, lived.

The tough part about going to a place like india is it's not always easy to communicate exactly what it's like. once you've been, well then you understand. almost like camping. imagine you've never been camping so someone tries to explain to you how it's like regular life, but different. you still cook, but by different means and with different tools and an altered menu. you have shelter but it's different than a house. it's simplified living really. you only take what's necessary. you dont have all the conveniences you might have at home, like a normal toilet or a printer, but you have everything you need. and you'll do stuff you don't normally do, like walk through woods, or swim in rivers, or fish, etc... or simply hang in a hammock or watch birds. it's just different. but it's not so different.

Of course one might simply call it a vacation. I've heard this said of short term missions trips. folks questions the benefits. I dont call it a short term missions trip. I call it stepping out of my normal context and learning abroad. learning other ways to live. other ways to love. other ways to pray. other ways to rest. other ways to eat. other ways to play. other ways to rely on God. other ways to see the world. other ways to see my world. and what I've learned comes with me, changes me, inspires me, motivates me... it helps me pause to think, it helps me question the status quo, and it gives me courage.

now to process what's next... what adjustments should be made... what things should be pursued. and not necessarily for years to come, but simply for the next few moments.

I'd like to extend many thanks to you if you were a part of this journey whether through prayer, finances, time, energy or encouragement. You all played an important part and I appreciate it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

2 years

I was focused on our road-trip and then Artlife and then dove into a mural for three days (you can watch a fun little time-lapse video of it here if ya like) i missed the 2 year anniversary of moving into our house.

But I did have a moment of reflection when facebook reminded me it had been two years. Two years since downsizing (aka we still have more than enough room) and moving into the not so great part of town (aka an awesome neighborhood where everybody knows everybody).

and what i realized is that even with the determination and even the "right" conditions... minimizing our consumption and clutter is a non-stop job; and i've totally let it slip. Where once there was an open space, is now filled with stuff. Some important and some not. Some that's hanging over my head to take care of and other stuff that just doesn't have a place and so on and so forth.... ether way it has weaseled its way into our house and I don't like it.

So I'm really hoping that these last few weeks of summer I'll be able to tackle this stuff and get back to freeing up space.

bye bye stuffy stuff.

Meanwhile, painting the mural helped a bit, cause of course I had to rearrange the living & dining room furniture. So now we're weird and our dining room table is in the living room and the living room is sorta spread out but we all like it, so we'll see how long this latest arrangement lasts.

Monday, June 27, 2016


It felt strange to walk into the house last night, mostly because it was clean, HA! OK and also cause that's when I notice how "old" it smells... like a resale shop... and I like it. Call me weird, but it's familiar and comforting. We've been in Mountain time most of the past 9 days, so i expected to wake up later than normal, but the friendly crickets outside my window made sure I didn't sleep in late. gee. thanks. :)

Looking back I just want to acknowledge and thank all the amazing people we got to visit and stay with; revisiting old friends and making new ones's quite evident just how much of an impact people have in our lives. We shape and form each other more than we realize. We saw some amazing sights out there, but it's the people I treasured most.

And I have to say, the kids handled the trip phenomenally ...including hot temps, hot winds, freezing water, nosebleeds, schedule changes, and tight quarters for miles and miles. They enjoyed the humor of Abbot and Castello, the excitement in reading a map, the grandeur of the mountains, the magnificence of God's creation, and the reward of hard work. They made instant new friends in other states, and also graciously loved each other through the bickering, differences of opinion, stepped-on pillows and tiring days.

Monday, May 16, 2016

"...All for love's sake became poor"

This evening my daughter, Annabelle, wanted to sleep out in the living room on our "new" couch...

... that would be the one I found this past weekend at a thrift store with beautifully retro fabric, absolutely no signs of wear-n-tear and a price tag no one could refuse...

One of the benefits of being out in the living room is of course her close proximity to where our dog, Bandit, spends his evening hours.

At one point I had gone out there and noticed he had finessed his way up onto the couch with her. I gently reminded her that he wasn't allowed on the couch. (I know, I'm so mean)

A couple hours later, when it was time for his final nighttime "outing", I strained to see in the pitch blackness of the room, but I could tell she was no longer on the couch. She was in fact on the living room floor.

The hardwood floor.

The uncomfortable hardwood floor.

The dirty and uncomfortable hardwood floor... right next to Bandit's pillow.

Sunday morning we sang the song, "Here I am to Worship" and this image of my sweet girl laying on the floor to be close to her puppy reminded me of the lyric from the song that reads,
King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor.
What a truly simple example of what love does. When we weren't able to be with God because of our sin, He came to us. He left his rightful and glorious place to be with us on this dirty and uncomfortable world.

And what an equally simple reminder of what our obedience as Christ's followers should look like. I can guarantee you, Annabelle didn't even give a second thought to what she was giving up in order to be close to her dog. It only made sense that if she couldn't bring him to where she was, she would go to where he was.

1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
      Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Luke 6:20-36
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bible. Time.

So I had read about a new website that was launching this year and thankfully I remembered to look it up again on New years Eve. It was (which is actually connected to a couple other website as well... one of them being The Bible Project which actually has the reading plan on it). After perusing the sites, I found that the plan looked very practical and I immediately knew that I wanted to implement it with the kids, whether it was a part of their school hours or as a family in the evening.

I shared it with the hubs and he was all for it, but asked, "what do we do if we miss a reading?" to which i replied, "we don't". :D

Of course I know that's very impractical to expect a flawlessly executed reading plan. I know it's difficult to maneuver around schedules and activities of SIX people. On the days when our evenings are filled with a commitment, the kids and I make sure to read and pray earlier in the afternoon.

All that to say, it's day 12 and I want to give an update on how it's going. So far we've missed one day. It was because without thinking, three kids were sleeping over at a friends house and I had neglected to think about it early enough since the first kid was gone by noon. We reviewed/skimmed the reading we missed and just picked up where we left off the next day.

Here's what I've learned/observed in the whopping 12 days we've been doing this... (i figured it'd be nice to record my thoughts early on, to compare with my thoughts a few months from now).

1. It takes time. and this is a good thing.
I think most reading plans and devotionals tend to promote that you can get it done in just a matter of minutes. you can get in, get out, and get on with your day. but this causes two problems (for me at least). One, it makes it a whole lot easier to allow the excuse to skip a day to come in with, "Oh it's just a few minutes, i can catch up tomorrow"... but then never do. and two, there's just something so great about actually taking time... i mean actually investing it in the word. I don't actually know how many minutes it takes us, its at least 30-45 (which sounds minuscule when I type it out)... but so far not a single person has complained that it's taken "too long".

2. the kids love it.
We take turns reading chapters (it's about 3 or 4 a night, plus discussing/praying through a psalm). We stop and make fun of silly or hard to pronounce names like "Oholibama" and we make wise cracks and inside jokes about war babies and share crazy thoughts about crazy things that were done back then. but the way i KNOW without a doubt the kids love it (besides a complete lack of moaning and groaning, which i fully expected to hear)... is that every time we pray, someone will say "thank you, Lord, that we got to be together tonight" or "thank you, Lord, that we got to spend time reading together".

3. it messes up our plans. and this is a good thing.
Because it's not just a quick, bible fix... because it's not something you can drive thru on the go, you have to lay aside other plans to make it happen. Too often we want to have our cake and eat it too without much effort. When we go through life kicking and screaming and doing everything possible to hold onto our "american dream" cake, it's really difficult to consider tossing it out for something else when our eyes are so fixed on what we want. but now, i find myself on the other side of the table... we have this veritable feast in our hands, no way do I want to toss it aside for a measly crumb of cake.
see, i dont think God was being a meanie pants when he said you can't serve two masters... he knows how we click, he knows that either we'll invest in ourselves, or we'll invest in the kingdom... there is no "balance" possible between the two. we have allowed our churches and its members to believe the lie that we can live in selfish pursuit and still call ourselves Christians. it doesn't work. all it does is wear you out, stress you out, and burn you out. and I'm afraid it leaves too many families wondering what the heck happened.

4. I really hope we stay consistent because I really am enjoying it as well. 
and if we do royally mess up and get way behind, it'll be ok because we'll demonstrate what it means to press on despite "failure". we'll pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and keep walking. keep learning. keep reading. keep praying. keep asking questions. keep investing. I'm not afraid of messing up this family reading plan, because i know that my God is faithful to multiply and bless the time we invest in His word.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.