Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exhaustion that's worth it

This was my column that was supposed to run in the paper today but the wrong one ran so I thought I'd put it in my blog....

As I sit to write this column I am tired and worn out yet energized. I know that needs some explaining.
This past weekend, I helped with my church youth group’s Disciple Now weekend. We combined with 13 other churches with more than 200 middle school and high school students for a weekend in-town retreat and camp experience.
I was assigned to a house with nine 13- and 14-year-old girls. This is where the tired part comes in. They kept me up later than I was used to, talking and watching movies and several episodes of "Hannah Montana." If you haven’t been around kids that age very much, they either don’t talk much or can’t stop talking. We had a few of both in this group.
They were a bunch of good girls and a lot of fun.
During the weekend, we went to three church services at three different churches, attempted an amazing race that got rained out and ate lots and lots of junk food. This is why I’m a bit worn out. We carted these kids back and forth and all over the place.
The excitement for our amazing race across town fizzled when it started pouring down rain. The girls ran into one location and when they got in the car they were done with the race experience. In their words, they were wet and yucky and had enough of the rain.
Out of all the teens we had at many different houses, we didn’t have a single discipline problem. They were exceptionally good kids.
On Sunday morning, the youth had an opportunity to get up in front of their peers and talk about their experience. This is the energized part.
When a teenager gets up to talk, you never really know what to expect. You don’t know if they are going to go on about the prank they pulled on their friend, the food they ate or give short responses like “it was fun” or “I liked the music.”
While they did talk about the fun stuff, they focused on the meaningful experiences during their weekend. Some spoke of not wanting to go at first but realized they were meant to be there.
Others talked about being comforted and having a new feeling of belonging. Some talked of wanting to go out and make a difference, to be intentional about knowing who they were becoming.
In all, they all seemed to have a desire to want a deeper relationship with God.
When teens go to camp, they often talk of a “mountain-top” experience that fades quickly after they returned. These teens were not only aware that the fade can happen, they spoke of trying to make efforts to keep it from happening.
I have to admit, as I heard them speak, I couldn’t help from letting the tears fall. These are kids I have seen grow over several months and even years. To see their development and maturity blossom touches my heart. To see them not just get up and talk about the fun stuff but to authentically express their hearts and spiritual experiences, it was a joy to behold.
Many people ask me why I spend so much time working with youth. This is one of the reasons why. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for them.
Watch out world …here they come.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thoughts on God and cheeseburgers...really it makes sense when you read it :-)

Recently I have been rereading "Desiring God" by John Piper for my devotional time. It brings to my attention that I delight in way to many things other than God. If I focused more of my thoughts and energy on Him, then I wouldn't be concerned at all if I miss an episode of my favorite TV show or wonder who's done what on Facebook. If I would spend so much less time on these things and keep my focus, worship, mind and heart on God, how much more joyous would my life be. If true joy comes from God then why am I so caught up and wasting my time on such trivial things? Just the thoughts I had after reading tonight.

And...I found out today that a hamburger with pimento cheese on it may sound kind of gross but it was actually very yummy...random thought for the day :-)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lazarus come out

I heard a lesson about Lazarus this morning and a video was shown that I don't think told the whole scope of the story. Jesus plainly says in scripture "this sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."
The video seemed to infer that Jesus was surprised in his ability to raise Lazarus and was a bit scared. I think Scripture plainly states that Jesus knew exactly what would happen and spoke with authority, His authority as God for Lazarus to come out of the tomb.
The lesson stressed the friendship of Jesus and Lazarus as the focus of this scene in Scripture. But it was about a lot more than that. As stated above from John 11:4 this was more about the glory of God as displayed in Jesus. Although Jesus loved that entire family as friends when he heard Lazarus was sick he waited two days for him to die. He could have went to heal him when he was sick but waited to show the power and Glory of God in raising Lazarus from the dead.
Yes, they were friends but this story (as in all stories in Scripture and the stories of believers ever since) is about the Glory of God. Let us not forget the power of the Almighty as we struggle with our own views in humanity.
Let us voice with the same assurance as Martha saying "Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ,the Son of God who was come into the world."
To God's glory, the point of all things.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ding dong the mouse is dead....

Today started with the disposal of the mouse I wrote about in the last post...yuck. I have to say I believe in the division of man's work and women's work and that is most certainly man's work.
After the unfortunate disposal of the mouse I had a lovely lunch with a bunch of friends. One of my friends recently had a beautiful little baby girl and we were invited to lunch to celebrate her. It was delicious and I had waaaayyy to much fancy cake for someone on a diet. Million dollar coconut cake and chocolate rasberry...yum...the coconut was spectacular.
The rest of the day I cleaned,went down to the farm to visit the folks, did a little shopping and now I'm going to make a necklace, hang out with the dogs and watch Battlestar Galactica (original not the remake that ruined it :-). See...I told you I wasn't sure this blog would be very interesting. My days are usually filled with boring hum drum activities with the occasional hint of excitement.
Tomorrow is church. I get to help with the greatest bunch of youth on the planet...well at least I think so. I work with all of them but on Sunday morning more specifically with seventh grade girls. They crack me up. Tomorrow I'm bringing grapes as a treat. Don't ask me why but they get excited about's the little things that excite them.

This week's column

I think the phrase “you learn something new every day” holds true for most days. In fact, I learned something very interesting the other day.
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about Curious George last week, and before you think I’m some sophisticated person who regularly reads the WSJ, I will confess that I read it because it was posted on a friend’s Facebook page and it sparked my interest.
The article not only talked about how the funny little monkey was created but how H.A. and Margret Rey, the authors and illustrators of the character, escaped from Nazi-occupied France.
In their escape, while on a train to Lisbon ,officials were suspicious of them and thought they were spies. When their satchel was searched all that was found was manuscripts of children’s books, including an early draft of “Fifi: The Adventurous Monkey,” who would later become George himself.
Because the contents were so trivial the Reys were released.
The art of the books is now on display at an exhibit titled “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey” at the Jewish Museum in New York and will soon go on tour to other museums.
I was engrossed in the story, but then again, you have to remember, I am a history nerd and eat this stuff up. I found yet another story about the Reys in a March issue of Pulse that gave even more interesting details to their life story.
I read the Curious George books to countless kids and never knew the story around their creators. The article even said that George’s many escapes drew a parallel to their escape from the Nazis, and the colorful backdrop of the illustrations speaks to their new American home in contrast to French art of their life in Paris.
It made me conscious of the fact that everyone has a story. From famous children’s book authors to the person down the street, everyone’s life has storied significance.
Nine times out of 10, when someone is interviewed for a feature story they will say, “But I’m not really that interesting.”
It’s after pen is put to paper and they see their story written in black and white that they realize their lives really do have some interesting aspects to them.
Some are elderly people who have had a series of interesting things happen in their lives, some have battled many obstacles or illnesses, and some are children who have interesting talents or have taken on responsibilities. These are stories of faith, stories of perseverance and stories of happenstance.
Life is a series of stories weaving in and out of lives, connecting to some and passing by others.
Any life has a story to it. Some lives have books written about them, some have movies made about them, some are featured in the news and some simply go on, living out their stories in day-to-day life.
So take the time to stop and talk to people in your life or even, in a non-creepy way, the person standing in front of you in the grocery line. You might get as engrossed in their stories as I did in the story of the Reys.

Friday, April 16, 2010

So...I started a blog

I thought I'd give this blog thing a shot. I'm really not sure anyone will read it but who knows...someone might find it interesting.
Tonight starts with the discovery of a second mouse in my house. Ugh...and no one but me around to get rid of it after I caught it. I've lived here for three years and this is the first time I've had mice.
Does that bother anyone else out there? It bugs me. And the thing is I have two dogs roaming around in the house that seem to be completely useless when it comes to scaring off a tiny little mouse.
That's why I could never warm up to the movie Ratatouille...I mean it was a food. It wasn't a cute, happy movie in my was gross.
So tomorrow will be filled with cleaning and disposing of grossness and a hope that it is the last of them. I mean it's spring time, aren't they all supposed to be headed outdoors to play in the fields?
Tonight also finds guilt. I think I yelled at the poor little guy at the McDonald's window tonight. You see, I was very tired after a long day at work and a women on a diet who is having her first hamburger in weeks doesn't really have the patience for someone who can't function without their cash registers. See, I knew what the meal that I ordered cost and didn't think the tax would be three times as much as it should be. But convincing the little guy at the window to actually use his head to add instead of trusting a computer screen was beyond his reckoning. I probably didn't talk to him very nicely and was way to tired to convince him further of his mistake and just took my overpriced meal with me instead of haggling over a buck fifty. But I still feel guilty for being less than nice.
I try to live my life in as kind a way as possible because I feel, as a Christian, it is important to live out my faith. When I have little episodes like tonight...I feel as if I failed in that respect. I know of all the people that passed that drive through tonight many probably acted worse than I did, but I still feel a bit bad about it.
So tonight, I head to bed tired, a little guilty and thinking about getting a cat to take care of the mice.

So how did I do on my first blog?