Monday, October 28, 2013

10 Ways You Know You're Not in Kansas Anymore

 #1 - Gigantic Shoes

#2 - Prayer & Smoking Rooms

#3 - Unique In Flight Entertainment Systems

#4 - The Domestic Terminal (Yep, I flew out of here)

#5 - More on-the-job Naps

#6 - Open Market Fruit & Veggie Stands

#7 - Fondly Referred to as...Squatty Potties

#8 - Different Method for Making Krispy Kremes

#9 - Bicycle Rickshaws

#10 - Goofy Glasses & Wonderful Women!

Thanks to those of you who prayed while I traveled!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Safety of Pickles

When traveling around the world, especially in third world countries, security is of the utmost importance.  That's why I was extremely comforted to be assured that nobody would have any rogue pickles in their carry-on baggage on my flight from New Delhi to Amsterdam.   No guns, knives, pepper spray, ammunition, or...pickles.  Whew.

You can never be too cautious.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Disturbing Discoveries

I've had a few life changing discoveries during my time here on earth.  The first one came when my son was very small and I realized, listening to one of his kiddie toys, that the ABC song and Twinkle Twinkle little star were, in fact, the same song.  Unbelievable!  I felt somehow cheated out of a song and dare I say, my whole childhood.

Now tonight, my second, and perhaps just as important discovery.  Hot dogs and bologna are the same thing, one is just squished flat and one is in a tube!  Luckily for me, I can claim ignorance because it's been more years than I can count since I ate a slice of bologna (thank goodness).  But my son has been on a kick lately and tonight, when he made me try a bite...the lights came on. 

This makes me wonder how many other injustices and travesties of this nature are lurking out there and how long it will be until I discover the next one.  For now, maybe I'll go have a bologna sandwich with mustard and relish.  On second thought...I'm good.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Look Out!

I'm not sure what it is about a sparkling, crystal clear swimming pool.  I love them.  I can't resist them.  The smell of the chlorine and the clear glassy water draw me in...literally.  On Saturday, I spent the afternoon at the water park with my son and his friend. The weather was nice, but it was a little breezy, so when the boys ran and jumped in the wave pool, I delayed and perched on a lounge chair.  But the draw of the pool proved too much.

Just as I waded carefully in, the wave machine started up and the water came to life.  I was still cautiously getting used to the cool temperature, when I heard frantic yelling, "Look out! Look out! Look out!" I turned to see a kid boogie boarding on an air mattress straight toward my head.  The next thing I knew I was inhaling water on the bottom of the pool.  I bobbed to the surface, snorting and a little stunned, wondering what just happened.

This isn't the only time recently I've been knocked off my feet by the unexpected.  Occasionally life throws something my way and before I know it, I'm on the bottom of the pool wondering what just hit me...although it's not usually a boogie board. But God is good and before too long, I find myself bobbing to the surface.  I might be stunned, but I'm back on my feet; snorting, but I'm still breathing.

After the initial shock of being run over (by the way, the boy apologized profusely), the water actually felt pretty good.  Maybe it's the same with some of life's circumstances.  The first impact is difficult, but in retrospect, I'm able to say, "Come on in...the water's fine".

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The One-Track Mind

When my little brother was young (now he's old and foot taller than me), my parents always used to complain that he had a one-track mind. At 4 or 5 years old, he would get on an issue and absolutely not let it go until I wasn't sure if mom and dad were going to kill him or themselves.  I'm not sure if his one-track mind was just that much more prominent than mine or if it's only been in my later life that I've developed my own one-track mind skills.  But, either way, I have definitely hit my stride.

Typically, my single-mindedness has surrounded technology.  The smallest inkling I need something, quickly turns into a full blown obsession. First I have to give it a lot of discussion and thought, weighing whether or not I really need the thing.  But needing something is so subjective, I usually make it past that stage and on to the justification of why I need it.

Then comes the shopping, price-comparing, and bargain hunting...followed by another strong dose of justification. Once I actually order the item, the obsession turns to tediously watching my email for order updates, shipping notifications, and tracking information.  Tracking the package is an art all its own, the details of which are beyond the scope of this article.  

All aspects of this process, from my first sentence of, "Hey, I wonder if I should get a ..." to my ceremonious opening of the package and meticulous reading of the owners manual, drives The Pastor nuts.  However, over the past few years, this model has served me well.  Usually, beginning at the discussion phase, The Pastor is already so sick of hearing about it, he comes forth with "Just go buy the dumb thing already, will ya!"  This helps speed things along, as it cuts down the justification phase a bit.

 But last week I sunk to a new low. My one-track mind focused not on a new computer gadget, not on a trendy decoration for our house, or a even a new espresso machine.  The subject of my all encompassing thoughts...cheese.  Costco was sampling Dubliner Irish Cheese and I made the mistake of trying a piece.  It was an awesome mouthful of cheesiness.  But, the thirteen bucks they wanted for a brick of it put me squarely over my budget.  I denied myself the cheese.  But all week long, I found myself craving it.  I couldn't stop thinking about that stupid cheese.  So much so, that I had to make an extra trip to Costo (which is 40 minutes away) just to go get it the next weekend.

By my latest calculations, I spent $32.47 to get that cheese, and I have gained eight pounds in three days eating it.  Maybe I should have spent just a little more time deciding if I really needed it. Maybe I should just start making my own cheese.  Ooh, maybe I should get a.... nah.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Get Out of the Boat!

Last summer we got a new boat.  Well, not a new, boat, but new enough for us.  Not long after we brought it home, we pulled it down to the lake near our house and took it for a spin.  The Pastor would rather stick his nostrils together with Crazy glue than go swimming, but my son and I went prepared with our suits on, because we know that, as much fun as it is in the boat--sometimes it's even better to get out of the boat.

Our Sunday school lessons for the past few weeks have been a video series by Ray Vander Laan, called In the Dust of the Rabbi.  (If you've never heard of Ray or seen one of his videos, look him won't be disappointed)  In the Dust of the Rabbi is about being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  Set in the Holy Land with Mr. Vander Lann teaching about the specific location and what it meant to be a disciple, it is humbling and thought provoking.

In a recent video, he stood at the edge of the Sea of Galilee and taught about Peter walking on the water with Jesus.  He summarized the lesson with this powerful statement: "If you're going to follow a Rabbi who walks on water, you're going to have to get out of the boat."  Ouch.

I don't like the idea of getting out of the boat.  I'm not much for risks.  I only take them if they are carefully calculated and I feel I know the outcome.  That doesn't make for much of a risk.  I want my Christianity to be safe.  I want Jesus to be safe.  Here's a clue...he's not.  But as Mr. Beaver says to Lucy in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe "..'course he isn't safe! But he's good."

If I really want to be a disciple of Jesus, if I really want to follow him wherever he might lead me, even if I can't completely see where I'm going, I better learn to take some risks and get out of the boat. ...And learning, I am.  Three weeks ago I packed up six years worth of files, books, and notes.  I moved from my office with a nice big window into a nondescript cubicle in a corner, and I watched as a new Information Technology Manager came through the door of Quest Aircraft to take my job.

Near as I can calculate, I've been in I.T. for almost 18 years. It's a bittersweet thing to walk away from.  My new title at work is "Marketing Specialist" and I've reduced my hours from 40 to 24 in order to provide me with the time to volunteer with Partners International Women as a Servant Leader, part-time missionary.  Let me tell you, I am way out of the boat!

On the Sea of Galilee, Peter could see the wind and the waves.  I'm sure he could easily calculate that it wasn't safe to attempt to walk on water.  But even more than that, he knew Jesus was good.  Like Peter, shakily walking on the water toward Jesus, we can take the steps of faith that God calls us to, with assurance that even if we begin to sink...He is good!

It's time to get out of the boat! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I've Been Blogged!

I received a message from the Partners International Women office last week that said, "You've been blogged!".  Each month PIW features a Volunteer Spotlight, a brief interview with one of their volunteers.  This month I was the lucky candidate.  Thanks to PIW for giving me the opportunity to be involved!  If you're interested, you can check out the post HERE!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hard Places

I'm in constant awe at my own ability to misjudge a situation.  It was very easy for me to think that I was going to pack my bags for Africa, and because I truly felt like God called me there and my friends and family were praying for me, that everything was going to go without a hitch. 

As great as this trip was, there were still plenty of challenges involved, and certainly different ones than I anticipated.  I think there's two reasons.  First, because he loves us, God wants to stretch and teach us.  In His wisdom, he often calls us out of our comfort zone to do this. When we can't rely on our own ability, we are forced to rely on His.  Those are truly the teachable moments.  I know they are for me...

Second, Satan is most certainly not happy about the Kingdom building work we do.  He's looking to attack on every kill and destroy.  He will do everything in his power to discourage and dissuade us from doing the work of our Father.

There were times on this trip where I was uncomfortable and had a clear understanding of why the call it Mission "work", but thankfully, God doesn't spare present pain or comfort for eternal profit.  Whether or not I was comfortable had nothing to do with the success of the trip.

The goal of this trip was to equip and empower God's women across Africa.  Despite the minor discomforts and challenges, that objective was wildly successful!  God proved Himself faithful and showed up in Ghana in a mighty way.  The 30+ women we worked with were absolutely amazing and I built wonderful friendships over the two weeks I spent with them.  They were so excited to learn how to teach the Women in the Window Inductive Bible Study method and take it back to their own countries and communities to pass on to others. 

Many of these women really know what it's like to be uncomfortable.  They truly live in the "Hard Places" of this earth.  Some have been displaced, persecuted, and even feared for their lives.  Yet they "press on for the prize for which they've been called in Christ Jesus".

Are you working in a difficult ministry or circumstances?  Don't be discouraged or confused because things seem hard.  Those "Hard Places" are exactly where God will do His mightiest you!

Press On!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

God's Purpose For My Life

Here is an article I wrote for the local newspaper last June.  It's a good reminder to myself as I consider the new year ahead.  Maybe you could use the reminder, too...

* * *

The other day I was digging in my junk drawer for a rubber band or some other trivial item. Not finding what I was looking for, I got frustrated by the amount of useless pieces and parts in the drawer and piled it all on the counter.

“Do you have any idea at all what this thing is for?” I asked my husband as I held up a small plastic doohickey. After examining it closely, he said it must be something very important, although, admittedly, he had no idea what it was. When he looked away, I tossed it in the garbage can.

The Bible says that I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared for me in advance (Eph 2:10). Not only did God create you and me as his unique masterpieces, He gave us a special purpose, one He’s had in mind for us from the beginning.

Sometimes we agonize to figure out what that purpose is, and how we should fulfill it. But the Bible tells us that’s not our worry…God will do it for us. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Your love, O Lord endures forever.” And Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Try as we might, we can’t fulfill our own purpose. God must do it for us. We need his guidance and control in our lives. He will do it in his power, his timing, and his way.

Besides promising He will fulfill our purpose, God also tells us what the ultimate objective is. “…by his power, He [God] may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith…so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) God’s goal is that He will be glorified in us. He wants us to reflect His image to the world we live in.

The final confidence we have regarding our purpose is that God always finishes what He starts. In Philippians 1:6 it says “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” God assures us that He has a purpose for us and we will not be stuffed in the drawer and forgotten about, only to be discarded later. His plans for us are too important.

Don’t be discouraged! God has a plan and purpose for you. He will bring it to pass. In the meantime, I think I’ll clean out that junk drawer.


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