Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Weekly Pic--(Micro)Chip Off the Ol' Block

Now that's some quality dad/daughter time!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm Not as Random as You Think I Salad

Ok, so Elizabeth and I were discussing ideas for future blog topics yesterday, and while she has hers planned out for the rest of the year, I've run into a bit of a blogger's block. It seems as if the things that float around in my head either won't materialize into coherent ideas or divulge symtoms of mental/spiritual instability which I'd prefer to not make public to anyone who might still think I'm normal. Therefore, here is a list of thoughts that might or might not become future blog topics.

1. Our book club is reading "The Shack". Its billed as a modern day "Pilgrim's Progress". I have no idea what that means (I guess it probably means I should also read "Pilgrim's Progress")

2. Last night we went to dinner at Sambuca in Dallas and heard "Hard Night's Day", a Beatles "cover-up" band. (Sorry, Precious Oldest Daughter, I couldn't resist borrowing your phraseology.) It was great food and music, but the Beatles were actually only the tip of the entertainment iceberg. Let's just say there was an abundance of silicone, botox and alcohol in the room. Not to mention the creepy man who kept "accidentally" going into the women's restroom. Oh, and speaking of the restroom, think "360 mirror" on What Not to Wear and you'll understand why I slowed down my water consumption so as not to warrant a return trip.

3. I love "quotation marks"...and I also love using the ... (dot dot dot) to encourage the reader to finish the thought for themselves. (After seeing Mamma Mia, the "dot dot dot" brings another picture to mind) Still, I think I'll continue using the dotX3 because it implies an open endedness that periods don't allow. When you end a sentence with a period, its so final. However, the dot dot dot provides one with a chance for reflective pause, rebuttal or even an "amen". (I also love parentheses)

4. Hannah's birthday is coming up soon which I'm sure will lead to some heated discussions with my husband over what to get her. He always goes overboard and I always argue that our kids are spoiled and would rather play with the "box" than its actual contents. Can't talk much else about that now, because she might read this before the big day.

5. I wish Ceasar Milan would come to my house and help me with my two dogs. Of course, I wish "Clean Sweep" and "Nanny 911" would come first to get my house and kids ready for Ceasar's visit.

6. No matter how long Joel is gone on a trip, its always 1 day too long.

7. Dr. F says Hallie's tonsils have grown back. Seriously? Is that really possible? Should I consult the ENT who performed the surgery just a little over a year ago? Or should I contact Ripley's Believe It or Not?

8. Is it awful that I love Facebook so much that I added it to my phone so I can always be notified of my Friends' status? Speaking of Facebook, don't even get me started on my addiction to "Pieces of Flair". I'm pretty much convinced that Flair is the new Hallmark. There's always one that says just the right thing. I've always wanted to write a book of catchy sayings that I learned growing up (like, "You've found a teehee nest with haha eggs in it") as well as those I've coined on my own as a parent (such as, "A door (for your room) is a privilege, not a right.") Maybe I could incorporate those thoughts into my obsession with Flair. Perhaps, my book will have pages resembling a corkboard and be entitled "Wisdom With Flair"... Of course it will include lots of quotation marks, dot dot dots and parentheses!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Weekly Pic--A Sign of the Times

Last fall, Joel and I were in Pennsylvania. It was our second time in Amish country and I continue to be intrigued by this group of people who forsake so many modern conveniences to live a simpler, plainer life. So when I saw that the Amish Farm & House were located, not in the middle of corn field or dairy farm, but right next door to Target, it made me snicker. Of course the Amish Farm & House is a museum, not a working farm. Still, I found it ironic that while my hometown in Northeast Texas cannot support a Target, Amish country folks can.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekly Pic--Jump for Joy

I love this picture. I took it in 2006 on our first trip to Peru on the beach in Pacasmayo. HannahKate had surprised and impressed me with the way she'd handled herself on the trip. She was only 10, but had demonstrated wisdom and maturity beyond her years. One evening on the beach, I saw her knelt down thinking, observing and looking very grown up. I wanted to capture that moment, however, the instant I snapped the picture, she gleefully jumped up unexpectedly. What a sweet reminder of the innocence of child-like wonder!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Random Peru Lesson 2 (and also 3 & 4)--Be Careful What You Pray For

People ask, “How was your trip?” to which I reply, “Good…(long pause)…intense.” This is the point where most folks smile politely and change the subject to something safer, more comfortable. I can’t necessarily say that I blame them. I’ve been on many mission trips, even been to Peru before. This time I asked God to show me something different. I wanted to gain more than just an appreciation for how blessed I am to live in the USA; more than just the understanding that even though these people are poor, they love God with their whole heart; and most of all, more than just the inner satisfaction of knowing I stepped out of my comfort zone to share the gospel. All of these are indeed valuable lessons, but I specifically asked God to allow me to be part of something that only He could take credit for. And so, this trip became an exercise in faith…a test of whether I really believe what I say I believe.

We worked in two relatively new areas. In Alto Trujillo, a man who’d lived much of his life battling drugs and alcohol before his conversion to Christ, opened his home for us to hold our meetings. His house consisted of two rooms with dirt floors and a patchwork roof. There were 30+ women who attended Bible study in the back room while over 120 children joined us in the front room for VBS. Services were also held there each evening. God asked me, “Do you really believe, like Julio, that everything you have is a gift from Me? Will you allow Me unlimited, unconditional control of all that you have?”

The second place we worked was New Jerusalem. This area was much poorer, not only their living conditions, but also their spiritual conditions. The people were not as receptive to the Gospel as previous groups I’ve worked with. They were more difficult because they were neither as gracious nor grateful for our presence. We saw little return on our investment. In fact, we did not go back to that location for our final evening service due to concern for our safety. It was at this point, I heard God’s voice saying, “I love these people, too. They desperately need Me, too. Don’t dismiss them because their hearts are hardened.” I realized that He was asking me to examine my motives, “Are you spiritually mature enough to do the right thing even when you don’t receive the instant gratification of seeing dozens saved or feel the gratitude of the people you are serving?”

The final, and possibly, most difficult test came our last day in Peru. As we were preparing to go home, Ms. Mola, a precious lady still serving Jesus at age 85, suffered a fatal heart attack. It goes without saying that one does not really think something like this will happen while on a mission trip (especially not a trip on which you’ve brought your twelve year old daughter). For a split second that morning in the hotel room, I was afraid. I had assumed that God’s protection included safe passage for all of us. It frightened me to suddenly come face to face with the reality that His ways are not our ways. It was as if He said, “Do you really trust Me? Do you understand that I do things for My glory that may seem tragic? Can you accept that you will not understand many of those things this side of eternity?”

The verse I claimed for this trip was Isaiah 26:8, “Yes, Lord, walking in the ways of your laws we wait for you. Your name and your renown are the desires of our hearts.” I asked Him to teach me something new and allow me to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I learned that claiming His name and His renown as the desire of my heart is not always convenient, comfortable or even safe; yet there is no place I’d rather be than waiting for Him while walking in the ways of His laws.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weekly Pic--The Magic Bean

I love Chicago! (Especially Giordanno's Pizza) This piece of art is called "Cloudgate" which sounds very majestic for something that looks like an oversized baked potato in tin foil.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Calm in the Storm

I was pretty certain they had become mortal enemies, my soon-to-be-13-year-old and my 8 year old who wants to be 13. They can agree on nothing. If one likes something, the other doesn't. If one likes something that the other does, then one of them will suddently profess not to like it. (Planning meals is especially challenging.) Being an only child, this love/hate relationship has always been a mystery to me; but even moreso these days when there is more "hate" than "love" between these two. My husband warned me about this, speaking from the experience of having a brother. I shrugged it off by saying girls are different, and at least now that he and his brother are grown they can enjoy the occasional golf game or ski trip together. Yet this sibling rivalry is wearing thin. For the first time, when the girls have been apart this summer, they don't seem to miss each other. HannahKate and I were gone for two weeks and she never got to the point where she admitted she missed Hallie. She left again for another week and Hallie never stopped talking because there was no one there to "shut her down". So many people tell me this is normal, but it still breaks my heart. (I guess I could go off on a spritual tangent and relate this to how God must feel when He sees his children squabbling, unable to get along, but that seems pretty obvious and not what I set out to write about today.)

This morning I walked through our house and was caught off guard by two people sitting on the swing in our backyard. My first thought was that one of the girls had a friend over, but upon closer observation I saw that they both belonged to me. I don't know what prompted it, but there they were, sitting side-by-side, talking, laughing and genuinely enjoying each other's company. It caught me so off guard that I stood and watched for a long while. It caught me so off guard that I didn't even think about yelling at them for taking my good couch cushions outside to use as pillows. It caught me so off guard that I had to get my camera to preserve the moment. And while the quality is not the best, it caught me so off guard that I had to post this picture and the wonder of this moment as a reminder that maybe they do still love each other and won't disown each other the moment their father and I are no longer around to referee.

By the time this is posted, they will have already lapsed back into their competitive states and argued about no less than four different topics of absolutely no importance. But at least for me, the calm this morning will help me brace for the impending storm.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Weekly Pic--The Narrow Way

Ok, so I'm not a very good, photographer. I would like to be, but that would probably involve reading the manual for my camera which doesn't really excite me. So instead, I'll just continue fiddling around with the settings, taking dozens of pictures in hopes of getting one really great one that captures "the essence" of whatever moment I'm trying to immortalize. I've decided to start a Weekly Pic thread in which I choose one photo to post. These are the photos I say to myself, "One day, I'm going to enlarge this one and frame it." Of course I don't really ever do that, so maybe this will help me feel a bit less guilty about all those amazing pictures that are hung in digital Purgatory on my computer.

So, for Week 1, I present "The Narrow Way". It was taken in Pisaq for no other reason than that I was fascinated with the Incan water canals. I think it turned out pretty good considering I was in a bus traveling down a street almost as narrow as the one pictured at about 50 mph.