Monday, October 29, 2007
Yet, the Lord continues to teach me - using my folly for His glory.
After taking my students out to dinner to thank them for their hard work on the Service Project committee, I found myself driving on a busy road. I was admittedly distracted, looking for William Cannon Street, when I noticed the taillights illuminate the back end of a Ford. Into it I crashed, with airbags exploding and windshield breaking. It took a few moments to understand what had happened, but when I did, a scrolling marquee raced through my mind, "This did not just happen to me."
But, it did happen. No one was hurt. But, there were some dents and scrapes. I'm hoping GEICO is as endearing as their commercials...I'm still waiting on the english muffin, gecko man, but I haven't heard back.
Lessons: there are many. The policeman assured me this "happens all the time." But, for all the times that's been said, I couldn't get the scrolling marquee to leave. I was convinced these kinds of things just don't "happen to me." I was sure I had gotten over the young-convinced-I'm-invincible phase, but I realized otherwise as I wandered about aimlessly and waited for a ride at the corner 7-Eleven. What a night!
The Lord has provided. That is indeed the tale to tell. Not only was I safe, but He has provided and continues to provide ways for me to go to work, church, and even some social functions. I realize I deserve no sympathy, which makes my heart all the more grateful for His provision.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
So, my brother is graduating from basic training this weekend. Over the past four months, I have come to respect and love my brother more than I ever knew how before. He's not my little brother anymore. He is growing up; a man of God that desperately wants to seek God's design and glory in his life. Beyond words and explanations, I have been learning from this man. I have read his letters and listened intently on short, sporadic phone calls to hear about his encounters with the seekers at his base.
I see the Lord softening and refining him in a way that reveals who God Himself is. If you had asked James who he was before he left for basic training, he might have given you more than you wanted to hear. He is opinionated, knowledgeable, and openly invites discussions and debates alike. He had an opinion about everything. Though I'm sure he is no less opinionated, I know my brother has grown in the confidence of his faith. He is firmly established and rooted in the love of Christ (Eph. 5), where he gladly places his trust.
Whether friendly debate or heated defense of his faith, James is ready for any conversation. I so admire his willingness to 'fight like a man' in the arenas of faith and morality, when his peers are completely convinced he is wrong.
I know he will seek the Lord in his plans for college next Spring, but I also know that he will treasure every minute with family and friends until he leaves.
I praise God for him!
My brother Will casts a giant shadow, though you wouldn't think it to look at his stocky, wrestler frame. William is a man of his word; a man of integrity; a man of wisdom. I've known this for awhile, I guess, but just lately I’ve taken interest.
In his subtle (sometimes silent) way, William delights in what is good. And he really delights – ask anyone who has been around to hear him giggle! Everyone seems to know he is invaluable for any project one might attempt - whether it's shingling a vertical roof or organizing groups of rowdy kids or fixing anything with an engine (we’ve all at some point taken advantage of his mechanical abilities). But, press on he does: determined to make each project a new challenge and success. He works hard and requires little gratitude, making his efforts reflect his devotion to the Lord.
For the past couple summers, he has completely donated his time to growing a small rural camp in order to bring the message of the gospel to children in that area. Every single counselor would take a bullet for him, but they would have a hard time stepping in front of Will to get there. He is as protective as he is inclusive; and I’ve learned much from the brotherly love he gives to anyone he meets.
Maybe my most treasured blessing in William is his character. He has been patient with me even in my foolishness. He has encouraged me in the midst of confusion. He has called me out when I least want to hear it.
What a blessing he is!
My brother Samuel is a coach; not for a job, but as a lifestyle. After mixing his Creatin drink when I was in 8th grade, I remember his praise meant the world to me then and still does today. He is 4 years older than I am, but when I followed his footsteps to
I’ll admit he was a bit rough around the edges when I was growing up, but now that I’m living in
I remember the excitement of meeting
Samuel has committed to ‘coach’ by pouring into everyone in his life: his wife, his family, friends, students, and co-workers. I still call him for his coaching every once in awhile!
So these are the brothers God blessed me with - and oh how blessed I feel!
Look next for "my sister; my sanity" coming shortly:)
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sure, there are some things you could never have too much of: a surprise on your doorstep, sweet words from a friend, hot air balloon rides. But, I've found out that some of the things I love most are exactly the things that can cause severe indigestion and misdirected weekend days.
I suppose an explanation is due.
Anyone who knows me even slightly is familiar with my deep, green love for lima beans. It all started when I was very young. Baby lima beans were among the home-grown treasures my grandma pulled from her garden behind the Econo Lodge. I spent many a weekend checking in guests at the front desk, skipping and cart-wheeling in the long hallways, swimming in the pool with my (secretly purchased) first two-piece swimsuit, and playing among the growing things around back near the gazebo. The strawberries, green beans, and lima beans found an avid admirer in my rosy cheeks and bright eyes. I would often sneak spoonfuls straight from the simmering pot before we sat down for dinner. I think we called it "taste-testing."
Since I've left home, I've searched for ways to bring my Iowa home to wherever I am. Lima beans have become a solid standby.
So, when I moved down here, I searched the markets and frozen sections for my baby limas. I finally found them and last weekend I cooked a delicious pot - all for me. I ate little else that Saturday and every bite was delicious...
and then I started to feel funny. Sunday it seemed like my system was acting a little strange. It was Wednesday before I felt like my body was back to normal. Did I learn my lesson? Well, I'm still eating lima beans. But, I'll think again before making it my only food source.
A similar thing happened after my birthday last year, in Chicago. Only that time, my grandma had sent my favorite candies: sugar-free coffee Nips. I love the little gooey things! But, within the course of a couple days I ate too many. My stomach was making weird noises and my body was saying "slow down on the sugar-free business, girl!"
In some ways, a similar thing happened last weekend with a good thing most people know as 'free time'. I don't usually have much of it and that's generally okay with me. My mom and I both love being busy and feeling needed. So, when the opportunity comes for free time I am so flustered I don't know what to do with it. The result is not indigestion, but laziness. Instead of tackling postponed craft projects and engaging in some much needed cleaning, I watched football and ate lima beans.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed another Saturday rooting for some of the greatest college football of all time.
I guess what I'm saying is: when "good things" are material, then too much is the same as too little. Neither one satisfies.
I wrote awhile back about revisiting my definition of 'good' (august 8, 2007). I realize I need a healthy dose of heavenly good to remind me just exactly why I'm here. The heavenly good should really be the only thing informing my food and free time choices.
Just between you and me, I think heavenly good choices will still include lima beans and free time.
I will just pray for grace to know limits:)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I was home for just slightly over 48 hours and every minute was wonderful! At first I was a little thrown off by the unseasonable heat and humidity, but this morning I woke up and gladly donned a sweatshirt before entering the crisp morning air.
I recently wrote about my deep love of the Midwest… there’s a well-worn groove that runs in my marrow that leads to and from a geographic home. And returning to a deep love is like breathing in familiar air. And breathe I did. A big, Texas-sized breath with the people of home and the landscape of my growing up years.
The primary reason for buying this last-minute ticket formed as I was listening to a sermon on a CD two weeks ago. The pastor of my home church announced that God had called him to a church in St. Louis. Despite the surprise, shock, and sadness, I felt a need to encourage and support his decision, as well as express my gratitude for his insistence in preaching the whole counsel of God. Worth a plane trip? Absolutely yes.
Yesterday listening to Terry's sermon, “The Sovereignty of God in the Life of the Believer,” my gratitude only swelled. With all my heart I say, "YES! It's about the LORD!"
In a conversation that morning with my dad, we talked about discovering who God is. My understanding grows as I get older and especially as I seek out fellowship in community with believers where I live. I have learned to expect and insist that my shepherd guides in the ways of the LORD.
Partly because my flights are confused and partly because airports give me headaches, I'm going to end this before I should. I will try to come back to this this weekend and write with the credit it deserves. Until then..
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I miss fall in Iowa. I miss the colors in Michigan. I miss football.
I don't have a problem admitting it. I've been romanced by my geographic roots and there's no distance capable of thieving my love of home. But I'm learning about 'home.'
I was talking with my grandparents this weekend and I mentioned how obtuse it seemed that with each move (Michigan, Wisconsin, Chicago, Austin) my heart wanders across the distance to the fields of cass county. I'm not homesick, per se. I'm not ready to pick up and move back to midwest meadows. But, with each day I grow to love my upbringing with a deeper and wider appreciation.
I would be a fool to think that geography alone ties me to any certain place. In fact, I am positive geography is the backdrop, the soundtrack, for life lived in relationships. It is what helps my heart find home, no matter where I find my physical self.
'Home' here in Austin is Sunday night worship. It's sitting at Wahoo's after church, laughing together and daring dreams. 'Home' is being comforted, challenged, refined, and hugged. Home is admitting failures, saying things with your eyes, and writing smiling emails at work.
'Home' is getting bigger for me. I have to take a big breath (the kind they tell you to take when you are overwhelmed) before I can think about how my four walls are expanding across states, yet still feeling comfortably crowded.
I think of my brother yelling encouragement and instruction to his football guys in Holland. I think of my sister, his wife, who is every day searching for joys in work and school. I think of my brother giving crazy determination and faith at Fort LeonardWood. I think of my sister pressing on in her cube of office space in Des Moines. I think of my brother standing tall at Iowa State and learning about the Lord's pursuit. I think of my mom and her unwieldy commitment to her CAM students. I think of my dad and his willingness to be refined as a leader in the church.
I think of my uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents... friends...
I think of these and I am home. What a blessed, beloved community.
Breathe. What a privilege. Breathe.