Saturday, June 30, 2007

4th of July and Going "Home"

I grew up in a small Texas town. Well, for Texas standards it isn't that small. Growing up there were about 12,000 people, but we have had a poplutation boom and now there are over 15,000 people who call Belton home. Belton is located in the "heart of Texas" along I-35 between Waco and Austin.

Belton was established in 1850. Apparently it was quite the place to be back in the Civil War. However, things changed with the railroad came through Central Texas. The Santa Fe Railroad Company decided to go around Belton and built a new town, Temple, across the river. I am assumming that is were the rivarly began. (Who knew, I always thought the rivalry was centered around high school football!) The courthouse that stands in the center of town today was built in 1886. Needless to say Belton is steeped in history.

Growing up in Texas had its advantages and disadvantages. You have to be careful about not getting into the mentatlity of everything is bigger and better in Texas. However, you learn about patriotism and the 4th of July celebration is a prime example. It all kicks off this weekend. On Sunday there will be the First Baptist Church's 44th Annual God and Country Concert. Growing up we would all end up at our Minister of Music's house for homemade ice cream. I think now there is a smaller gathering that goes one. The PRCA rodeo also should be in full swing. On Wednesday the 4th there is the 83rd Annual parade. I'm talking every baseball team and horse in the whole county will be in it. There is also the fair and all sorts of other festivities.

I will board a plane bound for Austin, TX on the 3rd. I will be one of thousands of people at the parade on Wednesday. I will then get to spend several days with the family. I know your anticipation is mounting. Don't worry, I will be armed with my camera and will share all the adventures along the way...Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Journal Entry 4/12/07

I wrote this about three months ago when I was down at the beach. I have never been a big beach person. I have always preferred the mountains. (I think that was one of the reasons that I loved China; they had the best mountains and I got to hike through them!) However, since moving to Florida I have really begun to appreciate the beach and the ocean. The sunsets on the water are incredible. The feel of the sand between your toes, but I digress. I hope you enjoy reading just a little excerpt of what God taught me while I was at Ana Maria Island. (Oh, and that picture in my header...I took that while I was down there!)

This morning I am watching the waves crash against the shore. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the beach and ocean. However, the more I am around it, the more it grows on me. When you look out, all you can see is the water. It does not appear to ever end. I know it does, but forgetting that minute fact, I see the ocean much like God’s love for me.

It never ends. It is deeper that I can even possibly imagine. It surrounds me in all that I do. At times it is calm while at others times it is a little more choppy, rough even, and feel completely overwhelming. At times it can be scary, yet I know that I am completely safe. God’s love always carries me and sustains me. Often it moves me from one place to another. Sometimes slowly with a pulling and leading here and there, like floating on raft and suddenly realizing that you have drifted further than you thought. Other times it knocks me off my feet and by the time I am able to regain my footing God has moved e to a completely different place. These moments are the scariest. You have no control, and at times it feels like I am not going to even survive the experience- that this process may literally kill me.

I guess you could compare it to drowning. At times you are taking in so much water that panic ensues. You cannot catch your breath no matter what you do, and when you get a breath it is not life giving oxygen you crave, but rather sea water. The saltiness of that water is not pleasant. It burns as it goes down, but like a dehydrated child needs sodium to balance their electrolytes, the salt water has a healing effect. While you cannot even imagine that is doing any good, if you did not receive it you would die.

When you have been in the ocean you can feel the salt all over your skin when you get out. As a matter of fact even a walk down the beach can leave that salty, sandy residue all over your body. It is the same with God’s love. You can feel the difference having been in His presence and many times others can tell as well. They might have to get close and reach out touch you to feel the difference. However, there is no mistaking someone who has been in the presence of God. They have a glow, a radiance about them, like someone who has been at the beach all day.

Whether you have been swimming in the ocean or just strolled down the beach, the sand and salt residue remains. You can feel it, see it, and taste it. It affects all your senses. The scent, the taste, the feeling, remains as long as you don’t take a shower in the “world.”

The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea--the LORD on high is mighty.
Psalm 93:3-4

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
Isaiah 43:2-7

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It All Began February 9th

You might be asking what began then. Well, that is when my Bible Study group began our study of Daniel. We have been going through Beth Moore's study ever since then. I know typically her studies last 12 weeks, but we are a little slow and will have stretched it out to 24. That and we only meet every other week. It has been a really good study, and I have gotten a lot out of it. I mean she almost made me want to write in my Bible. For those of you who know me well, know that the temptation to write in my Bible is HUGE! (Don't be too excited, I didn't succumb!)

This week has been especially good as we have been studying chapters 10 and 11. I would like to share just a few quotes from this week:

"Sometimes the complacency of 'home' is not conducive to the most life-altering revelations...Have you ever noticed that some of the most life-altering moves God has made in our lives have come when we were away from our homey surrounding. Often our most defining spiritual markers happen at conferences, retreats, on mission trips, vacations, or work-stints far from home rather that in the usual places. The daily-ness of home is crucial, however, because there God challenges us to believe and persevere in what He often shows us elsewhere."

"You see, you never can tell when God will reveal Himself most powerfully to us. True God-seeker do not outlive their usefulness. If we're still here, God's still working. His greatest revelation to you and His most life-altering move in you life may be ahead."

"God doesn't mean for us to have integrity just for integrity's sake. He want us to have integrity so we can be trust with responsibility. Christ didn't set us free just for freedom's sake. He sets us free so we can get out there and do what He's called us to do. Daniel represents more than character. He represent a life God can use wildly in the worst of circumstances. Daniel's intense relationship with God fills me with a holy jealously. I want what Daniel had. I want to be a person God can use to show Himself mighty."

"...a Daniel life - out there and exposed to God's glory - quickens every nerve ending. It's not the pain-free life. It's not the safe-at-a-distance life. But, Beloved, it is life most alive. Life most abundant."

Most of this comes from days 1 and 3 from session 10. I too want to be a Daniel. I want to be faithful in the things that God has called me to do. I want to experience life the way that God intended.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow...I will actually share something that I wrote!

Where Oh Where did the Internet Go?

That is an excellent question that I have no answer for at this time. However, when my internet service reappears, I will be back because I have several thoughts to share!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Introducing Stumpy!

I'm not sure that the blogging world is quite ready for this momentous occasion, but just maybe...

It all began back in February. I received this strange phone call from my mom. She explained that she had bought something for me and had it shipped straight to me. This really isn't such a strange occurrence in my family. Several months earlier I got a Kitchen Aid hand mixer in the mail. No explanation, nothing. My mom added to her phone call that she hadn't lost her mind, but it was probably the strangest thing she had ever bought me.

That same day I received the infamous package at work. I found a two foot log inside. Apparently it was a "special" log called an oriental totem pole that had already been growing for twenty years.

There was a fairly extensive list of directions to go with my log.
  • Remove the wax from the bottom of the log
  • Place upright in two to three inches of water
  • Change water two to three times a week
  • After leaves begin to sprout place in a pot
  • Leaves will begin to sprout in six to eight weeks
  • Will grow for the next seventy years and up to seven feet tall

I confess I was sceptical at the whole thing, but I will tell you that I have been pleasantly surprised at my little stump, which I now call Stumpy.

I will admit that I do not have a green thumb, but I think I am doing pretty good. Another branch has broken through at the base and there are three other branches that should begin to break through in a couple of weeks. Just a little over sixty-nine and a half years to go!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lessons from a Three Year Old

We can learn a lot from kids. I know I have learned a lot from nephew Jacob. I know I am his aunt and partial, but he is such a smart little guy. Especially when you figure in that he will turn four in August.

In the last three years, he has taught me to love in a way that I didn't know was imaginable. He is taught me what it looks like to have faith like a child. He has reminded me about the power of prayer.

He is currently going through that question phase. I am talking about a hundred questions an hour. The majority of them begin with why, but my favorite are the ones that start with what. If he hears a new word, he doesn't even think twice about asking what it means. Of course he spends the rest of the day using the word incorrectly, but hey he is only three!

Jacob has become quite the music connoisseur in his short little life. He can distinguish the sound of a french horn from a trumpet. He can recognize different artist by just the sound of their voice. He recognize a song in just a few notes...He really is remarkable. His favorite singer right now is Chris Tomlin. You should hear him sing "Indescribable, uncontainable, you put the stars in the sky and you know them by name..." Needless to say, he has an impressive vocabulary.

Recently he asked my sister-in-law, "What does it mean to be holy?" This was followed by, "Well, what does it mean to praise?" He received his first theology lesson as she described that holy means to be special and that praise is when we tell God how much we love Him.

When was the last time that I really thought about the words of the songs that I am singing? Just another lesson from a three year old...

Trying Again

Here goes my second attempt at blogging. I failed miserably the last time, but I am hoping to do better this go round. I guess only time will tell...