Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Year Later

What a year it has been. A year ago, I decided to visit Houston's First Baptist Church just to check it out. A co-worker recommended a class and it was a perfect fit. After six months of juggling two bodies of believers, I made the decision to worship at First. Making the decision to make this move has been one of the most difficult, beautiful blessings of my life.

In the time being there, I have learned so many lessons so far. I thought I would briefly share the things that I have learned and am continuing to learn. Here is what the Lord can do in a year:

- Learning the love of the Lord for me more deeply
- Learning the love of the Lord for others more deeply
- Learning freedom in both of those loves
- Seeing unity in the body of Christ across denominational lines
- A deep respect and appreciation for a strong foundation in Christ
- The difficulty of trust it takes to let someone follow where the Lord is leading them
- Learning to trust the Lord in all things
- The need for community
- The power of prayer
- The understanding of scripture afresh

Each of these lessons are significant on their own. Together, it changes your life and how you are interact/love others. I can't wait to see how the process of learning these things plays out over the days to come. Today, I am so thankful for what has past and anticipate with eagerness the days to come.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Book Thief

One of my favorite things about summer vacation is the opportunity to read. For the past few summers, I have chosen a series of books and have read through the entire set. I also loving going to Barnes and Noble to peruse the summer reading tables for the high school students. There are usually a few classics that I haven't read or a new on that catches my eye. Two summers ago, I noticed a book called "The Book Thief" with a picture of a domino chain on the cover of it. I read the back, was intrigued, and brought it home. I tried to start it but could not get into it. Fast forward to a month ago and I decide to take it off of the book shelf and give it another go. It is the story of a young German girl and those around her living in Nazi Germany. It is about how books help her survive the war and find the beauty in the midst of despair.

It has been a very long time since I have read a book that has so incredibly taken my breath away. This is it. This is the book that I have - and will continue to - recommend to every person that I meet. On the cover is a line from a review from The New York Times that says, "Brilliant and hugely ambitious....It's the kind of book that can be life changing." At the time, I thought that was WAY overly stated but tonight, as I get ready to put it on the shelf, I already miss the characters. My mom tells me that the first time I watched the movie Annie, I cried because it was over. I've always thought that was silly but tonight, I wipe my tears because there is not a next page. It is devastatingly beautiful in a way that only a book can be. It is taking everything in me to not immediately begin reading it again. It is the most beautiful example of the artistry of words that I have ever read. Below is a four minute interview with the author, Markus Zusak. Watch it and then GO READ THIS BOOK!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rodeo 2010

In learning growing intimacy with God, there are certain verses that I think we often use as token verses. One that comes to mind is the one that talks about how he knows the number of hairs on our head. Yes, it is neat to know that when I brush my hair, God know how many came out and are now on my bathroom floor. However, to be honest, I find the fact that he knows my unspoken inner places and unrealized needs better than I do is what blows me away. He is the Sovereign Lord of all I am and all I need. This weekend is yet another example of just how he shows up as I need him.

Last Wednesday, I was driving back to Grandpa's house fighting the age old battle of trying not to slip into a pity party. I just wanted to go home and I was driving back into an emotionally draining situation. I was trying in vain to psych myself up for the evening when my phone rang. A friend of mine, Lisa, called me to invite me out for a girls night. A student had given her a Rodeo package that included a suite and tickets to the rodeo for four people for Friday night. I think I may have startled her with the enthusiasm of my acceptance. It was the umph I needed to get me through the rest of the week.

Friday afternoon, we met up and trudged our way through Houston traffic. As we were checking in, we discovered that a mistake was made and there were no tickets for the evening's rodeo. After much ado, we were given (and accepted) the offer for an additional night at the hotel (room rate = $589 per night and we got it for FREE both nights) and tickets for the next day. Once everything was settled, we decided that as nice as the room was, we would split the rodeo into two days. So we were off to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for the evening. We went to see the quilt and art competitions, animals, vendors, tractors, walked the carnival, had our first experience on the Light Rail, and ended up at The Chocolate Bar (not really a bar but one of the best dessert places I've ever been to). Of course, there was no early to bed with four girls staying in a hotel suite together. Overall, such a fun night! Since there was no rush to check out in the morning, we indulged in sleeping in, breakfast in the hotel restaurant (again, part of the package), and visiting/reading/napping. We got dressed up again and made our way back to the grounds and the rodeo/concert. After the shows, we walked around a bit more and made our way to get steaks (in honor of the rodeo). Then, of course, back to the hotel to stay up too late talking. We got up this morning, had breakfast, and headed to church.

Now, I know that most people would not look at a girls weekend to the rodeo as a sign of a Sovereign God but I guess I'm not most people. I really wanted to go to the rodeo but because of how things turned out, I knew it would have to wait until 2011. God provided. I knew that I was at my breaking point emotionally and just needed an escape. God provided. We took Lisa's car so I was completely unable to feel guilty for not being elsewhere. Mom and Dad came in to stay with Grandpa so I did not have to worry about him. God's provision. Instead of a night of fun, God provided a whole weekend of fun and rest. He provided safety as we walked around. He made a financially impossible impulse stay-cation pretty much free. He very sweetly and powerfully met me each morning in my quiet time.

So yes, I can say with full assurance that God in Sovereign - even at the Rodeo.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Checking In

It has been a few weeks but I'm still alive. I've been staying withe Grandpa the past couple of weeks with a small break here and there so I've been removed from the world of blogs and facebook. I feel like I've seen and heard more about my grandparents than I ever knew possible. I have sweet and heartbreaking stories about it all. I'm so glad to have been able to help out but I have to be honest - I am completely overwhelmed. I know I shouldn't complain but I really could use all of the prayers I can get. I'm going back tomorrow for a few more days and I'm more overwhelmed than I can say. Physically, mentally, emotionally - I don't think I have much more to give.

One of the blessings is that I have had to lean on the Lord more in the past two and a half weeks than I have in years. He has been so gracious to provide strength in our hour of need. He has carried burdens when they got heavy and He has provided for every need we have had. He has held us up when we felt like collapsing and I know He will do it again. I have seen Him answer prayers and be our Comforter. I love and serve a faithful God!