Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Surprise Idol

I just thought this was a good reminder. Read on...

A Surprise Idol

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen…” Rev. 2:4,5

Our Lord is not comforted by the respectability of our idols. He is not less grieved when we choose a more dignified god to make love to. Imagine a husband discovering that his wife is having an affair with a wealthy, highly respected man in the community. He confronts her and she admits her guilt. But then she adds, “But he’s a great guy, very intelligent, fun, and quite well off. At least I didn’t fall for a janitor or a gardener or someone like that.” Would he take solace in the status of his rival lover? Would his heart be less shredded because she had given herself to someone highly respected? Of course not.

And this, it seems to me, is exactly what is happening in this passage. “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” are not words of minor correction, but the heart cry of a wounded Lover. What was the church of Ephesus guilty of? Idolatry. Or in other words, spiritual adultery. But the rival lover was so respectable, so dignified, that one would be easily tempted to write it off as a slight misstep. But Christ sees it as no mere misstep, but an out and out fall. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen…” Let me say it again, our Lord is not comforted by the respectability of our idols.

So what was the idol of the Ephesian church? Money, sex, prestige…? No, something far more seductive to committed Christians - ministry. Significant ministry. Christ-focused ministry. Ministry which received our Lord’s commendation. “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” But ministry, important as it is in the believer’s life, can still become an idol. A highly respected idol. A highly accepted idol within the church. A highly praised idol by other believers. But an idol is an idol is an idol. And it still grieves the heart of our Savior because it is still adultery against Him any way you slice it. And what an astonishing, astonishing truth all this raises. Our Lord desires intimacy with us over service by us. (Lk. 10:38-42) He yearns passionately to be alone with us, to enjoy the intermingling of our spirit with His, and waits eagerly for us to join Him in the dance of the ages. But to join Him in that unrivaled dance, we must turn our back on the myriad of other partners who would woo us away. And perhaps the most seductive of all those partners is ministry. Certainly it is the most respectable. But good as it is, it is still an it. And our souls are made for a Him.

Copyright © 2010 Kindling For The Fire. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas brings hope into this world. I went to a concert a couple weeks ago, and the following lyrics were sang:

Could something good have really happened here?
A baby's turned a stable into holy ground

God is holy. I think too many people forget that God is to be revered. When we pray the Lords prayer, a model prayer, we begin with,

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name..."

The first thing we do is state His holiness, we honour Him, we glorify Christ! Why is it that in many contemporary services, the first thing people do is sing songs about How great God is because of what He did for us? This is the number one reason I do not like contemporary services, as a general rule. The services are self centered, and not God centered. It's not bad to be thankful for what God has done for you, but first we are to hallow His name; and by consecrating His name, we are glorifying the King!

In reading the Bible, it begins with,

"In the beginning God..."

It does not begin with you or me. The New Testament begins with

"The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah..."

Once again, it begins with Christ. In a world filled with selfishness, a Christmas season, where people forget to hallow and glorify The King, my favourite Christmas carol this season is, "The Little Drummer Boy."

Come they told me (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
A newborn King to see (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
To lay before the King (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
So to honor Him (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
When we come

Little baby (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
I am a poor boy too (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
I have no gifts to bring (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
That’s fit to give a King (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Shall I play for You (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
On my drum, on my drum

I play my drum, I play my drum for the One who saved me

Mary nodded (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
I played my drum for Him (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
I played my best for Him (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Then He smiled at me (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Me and my drum, me and my drum

I play my drum, I play my drum for the One who saved me

I write this blog for the One who saved me...I spend time in the Word for the One who saved me...I serve others for the One who saved me...What do you do for the One who saved you? How do you glorify the King? How do you hallow His name? What gifts do you bring our Saviour?

Friday, December 24, 2010

30 Before 30...

Everyone has goals and desires, things they want to do. In Stuff Christians Like, one of the challenges was to come up with your own, number of things you want to do, BEFORE, the age of the number of things you want to do. I liked this and thought I would share my personal 30 Before 30. I turn 30 in 230 days. So...in the next 230 days these are things that I would like to accomplish. Please note, these are in no particular order.

  1. BQ--Qualify for the Boston Marathon
  2. PR--By qualifying for Boston, I will make a personal record
  3. Continue having fun running
  4. Run a 3:30 marathon--8:00 min/mi pace
  5. Consistently weigh my ideal weight
  6. Eat proper and healthy
  7. Enjoy continued good health
  8. Be a better bump skier
  9. Learn to pole plant and use my poles when I ski
  10. Have a group of girls who love me enough to tell me when I'm outta line...I desire an accountability group, a core group
  11. Disciple a young woman
  12. Share Christ with someone
  13. Find a good community in H-town
  14. Be more involved with local missions
  15. Go on another short term mission trip
  16. Be a better math teacher
  17. Be a better cook
  18. Play more cribbage
  19. Save $8,000 (ideally $10,000, but once I put money in my IRA, I don't think this is going to be possible)
  20. See my Grandma and extended family on Mom's side
  21. Spend time with my Grandparents and extended family on Dad's side
  22. Be a better daughter to my parents
  23. Be a better sister to my brother
  24. Be a fabulous sister to my new sister, Molly, Levi's fiance
  25. Be a better friend
  26. Be in a dating relationship
  27. Spend more time with God
  28. See God more clearly
  29. Love God more dearly
  30. Follow God more nearly
So there you have it...my 30 Before 30...who needs New Years Resolutions with lists like these? :) What's on your list?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teenager talk...

I thought I would share some quotes from my students...each of these is interesting to me, as it shares a piece of their culture.

  • When I told the students they were not allowed to eat in the classroom, including cupcakes, a student retorted, "Miss T, you need to eat about 20 cupcakes. Men like thick women."
  • I have a student that likes to greet me with, "Hey girl!" At first this bothered me, now I find it kind of amusing.
  • After asking a student about her father, another girl chimes in, "Miss T, black people don't have Daddy's."
These are just a few of the things that I hear on a daily basis. I ask you to pray for each of my students.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Broken expectations

Once again, Jon Acuff writes a very timely entry.

The soft X.

I cried in the Chicago Airport.

And these were not tough guy, lumberjack, I just punched a mountain lion in the face with my bare fist kind of tears. These were sad and tired and give up tears.

I was flying home from a conference in Chicago. I had been the closing keynote speaker and it had gone really well. That’s not what I was crying about though. I was crying because of what I knew would happen when I landed.

I knew I would take the train to my car, grab work clothes, change in the handicapped stall and then disappear into a sea of cubicles. I didn’t hate my job, not at all, it just wasn’t what I felt called to do. The Stuff Christians Book wasn’t out yet, but the site was doing well. I had this completely different life starting to develop and it was hard to go back to work and act like Chicago had all been just a dream.

This was long before the opportunity at Dave Ramsey. This was a doldrums period where I was just writing and writing and writing, but things weren’t happening the way I thought they would.

I sat in meetings about TPS reports and budgets and would get frustrated with God, wondering if he even saw me. Wasn’t he the one who put this burning in my heart? Wasn’t it his call that I was answering? This wasn’t how life was supposed to go.

Have you ever felt that way?

Has there ever been a situation where you had an expectation that you felt like God simply wasn’t meeting? I think most of us have experienced that.

Right now, someone reading this blog is mourning a marriage that fell apart. You wanted to be the first in your family to have a grandkid for your parents, not the first to get divorced.

Right now, someone is in a gray cubicle and the degree they got, the passion they followed in college is a million miles away from how they spend 40+ hours every week.

Right now, there’s someone struggling with an issue that refuses to release it’s talons even though you’re occasionally able to shake it for a few “good weeks.”

Right now, someone had to send out wedding cancellation notes, because it’s off.

Right now, there’s a man who feels a lot less than a man because he doesn’t have a job and can’t provide for his family.

Right now there are a million different versions of “Don’t you see me God?” happening. And so we doubt and get angry and lonely. But we are not the only ones with expectations that go astray.

In Genesis 48, the same thing happens to Joseph, of the double rainbow coat fame. He has brought his two sons to his father Israel for his blessing. We don’t understand this culturally because we don’t really do this anymore, but this was a critical, massive thing that was about to take place. Manasseh was about to receive Israel’s blessing. That was what should happen. That was what Joseph expected.

Joseph the faithful. Joseph the former slave, former convict, former saved all of Egypt from death and destruction. Joseph had a great track record at this point. He was a deeply wise man of God. He knew what was about to happen. By lineage, by tradition, by faith, Manasseh was about to get blessed by Israel.

Only he doesn’t.

It doesn’t happen that way. Instead of doing what he should have done, Israel crosses his arms and forms an X, placing his hands on the heads of the wrong children. He blesses Ephraim, the wrong son in Joseph’s mind.

And in 48:17 we see what happens: When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

Joseph has lived his entire life with one belief about how a blessing is passed down. This is his, “I got my Master’s Degree in teaching, I should get a teaching job” moment. This is his, “People get married after college, that’s what they do,” moment. This is what he’s always been ready for and it goes the exact opposite way.

So Joseph, like me or you trying to fix a mistake, says, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

And how does Israel respond? Does he say, “Oh, I am failing of sight and made a mistake?” Does he reply, “Thank you for correcting this situation?”


He says simply, “I know, my son, I know.”

And that is an incredibly tender thing to say as someone’s expectations crumble.

And I think it’s something God still says to us, even today.

“I know, my son, I know. I know, my daughter, I know. That thing you wanted is not going to happen. Not the way you’ve always dreamed. I know this hurts. I know this stings. I know you feel like I am distant or not aware of where you are and who hurt you and what you think life was supposed to be like. I know in moments like this you doubt that I can count the hairs on your head or have your best in mind. But please, I am not done. I have barely started to reveal your life to you. I am the God who satisfies your desires with good things. That is me! And when it comes to your hopes and your fears and your dreams, I know, my son, I know.”

I think of this moment as the “soft x.”

I think of the tenderness of Israel with his arms outstretched and crossed. I think of our desires and our dreams and the times they don’t work. And above all, I think of a God who wants to tell you he hears you, he loves, he knows you. He is not disconnected or disinterested in who you are and who you want to be. Today, he says,

“I know, my son, I know.”

I am excited for my brother--and happy that he is getting married, although, it is difficult for me. He is my little brother. My friends in High School always thought I would be the first to get married, and have children, rather, I am not even dating, and I am the last. I like men, I keep my eyes open, and I gladly accept a date. Although, I have not found the correct man. I love Molly, Levi's fiancee--she is a beautiful woman, trying to live out life, honouring Christ.

As happy as I am for my brother (and Molly), it hurts to see him have what I have wanted since I was a little girl. It feels as though God is laughing at me. My brother will be the first to get married, my brother will have the first grandchild, what's left for me? This past year in a half has been filled with so many broken expectations, and each one of them bite, sting, and cause great pain! How about you put a little more salt on these hurting wounds?

The only thing I can do is cling to the fact that God is not done. He has just begun to reveal my life to me. I know God provides, and I know He has given me dreams, hopes, and goals for a reason. I must remember He is the God who satisfies my desires with good things.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

San Antonio Marathon

Race: San Antonio Rock n Roll Full Marathon
Distance: 26.2 miles
Goal: Have fun! (I knew I could complete the 26.2 miles--I had just finished my first marathon three weeks prior!)
Goal Time: 03:45:00
Actual Time: 03:43:28 (8:31 min/mi)

Miles 1-8, I ran with my friend, Bee, and my new friend, Ed. Bee had a hamstring owie, so I chose to keep on going without her. Somewhere between miles 10 and 20, I sped up...oops, I should've kept pace. Around mile 17, a friend from church, Christy, saw me, and cheered me on! At mile 21.5 give or take, Mom and Dad came out and cheered me on. It was really cool when Dad started running with me! He asked me a couple questions--this was pretty much the only time I spoke during the 26.2 miles. It was fun to hear my Dad compare me to the energizer bunny. :) My last two miles were the absolute hardest, and I was ready to quit, although, I saw a friend, told him I needed some encouragement, and he encouraged me to keep on going. I can't remember what he said, it does not matter, he believed in me.

The last two tenths of a mile were difficult. We had to run up a little hill. As I was ready to quit, a woman looked at me and said, "look at all these men you've already beat, keep on running girl, you have it in you!" That little comment brought me to the finish line. Mom and Dad were able to get a couple pictures at the finish line. Mom even had a picture of me and a man wearing a shirt that said "Stop Forest Stop" right as I was crossing the finish line. Too bad that was on my phone, and my phone was stolen; I cannot share the picture.

I am thankful for all the encouragement I receive from people; I am thankful for people that believe in me; I am thankful for people that care for me. I am thankful for an incredible running coach.

Pictures...maybe later? They are on Dad's camera. He was able to get some great shots! :)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One thing at a time...

I've been going to a Thursday evening worship service, and one of the things we've been discussing is our sin and the positive and negative consequences directed to both ourselves and others. I also regularly read Jon Acuff's blog, "Stuff Christians Like."

He recently posted the following.

My friend used to deal drugs.

I tell you this, not to add an element of excitement to his testimony, as we are prone to do when we encounter someone who has a really crazy, Jason Bourne like testimony.

I tell you this, because two weeks ago he taught me an important lesson about faith.

We were talking about a famous singer who recently got arrested for having a bag of cocaine on him in a bathroom. The singer told the police that this was the first time he’s ever tried cocaine. When I told my friend that, he said it wasn’t true. He said it was virtually impossible for that to have been his first time. Knowing that my friend didn’t follow this musician or really have any knowledge of him, I asked him why he could be so sure of that.

Here is what he told me:

“No one carries drugs with them the first time they use. No one has the lack of fear it takes to carry a few grams of coke the very first time you try it. No one is alone in a bathroom, carrying a controlled substance the first time they have it. It starts slowly. You’re at a party where it is present. There are a few lines at a friend’s house. Somewhere you bump into it casually. You try it that way long before you decide you’ll be out at a nightclub with a bag of it in your pocket.”

That makes sense to me and more than that, it feels a lot like every other sin in my life.

Nothing I’ve ever done, whether lying or drugs, pornography or gossip, started out with a bag in a bathroom. As I’ve said before, no one wakes up on a Tuesday morning and says, “Today, I’m going to embezzle!” No one says, “At lunch, I’m going to get 10 DUIs and go to jail!” The path to completely destruction never starts out that way.

And neither did the Prodigal Son story. I can’t write about that story enough. It’s the perfect example of small steps to big stupid. In that story, we often like to think that the son got his inheritance from his father and then took a G6 jet straight to hookertown.

But that’s not what Luke 15 says. In fact, this is what we see in Luke 15:13

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Did you see that? The Prodigal Son packed. For days, he packed his bags before he left the father’s side. He took small steps. He made small mistakes and then he left.

So my question to you today, my question to me is pretty simple:

Are you packing?

Right now, today, are you packing your things to leave the safety of the father? Are you getting your things together for a disastrous trip to somewhere you’ve been before, down a path that will leave you wounded and beaten? Is your luggage laid open on your bed and you can’t get things together fast enough?

Are you packing?

If you are, tell a friend. Tell someone who knows you. Did you ever notice that about the Prodigal Son story? He had no friends. Other than the father and the older brother, no one cared that he was gone. His was a friendless existence. He packed alone.

Let’s put the luggage down. Let’s release the baggage. It’s time to stop leaving and instead start living.

Are you packing?

It makes me think about the things I do that I should not. I decide something's okay, just this once, just once more, and just once more--it becomes a habit. I am poking pins into that water balloon. A bunch of pins can create a gash the size of a knife over time.

I am thankful for accountability partners. I am thankful for the time of confession at church. I am also thankful for the assurance of forgiveness.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Full Marathon: Chosen Marathon for Adoption

Marathon Tidbits
  • I have wanted to run a full marathon (26.2 miles) since I was 14 years old.
  • I chose to run Marathon for Adoption because the money went to families that are adopting and to an orphanage in Ukraine. A piece of me is forever in Ukraine.
  • I have been training to run this full marathon since February.
  • My first run with my club (Run A-Way Club) was 10 miles. I was already running 30 miles/week when I started running with the club.
  • I have the best coach ever, John Purnell!
  • I am blessed over and over through Coach, other runners, and with amazing health.
A year ago, I could hardly walk. Not because of my legs, or even my lungs, rather my epinephrine was sky rocket high. I was in fight or flight all the time. I was exhausted, terrified, and wanted to jump out of my skin. I wanted to die so that all those awful feelings and odd happenings in my body would go away. Jesus didn't let this happen. He gave me the best mother in the world, who refused to let me play sick, and forced me to walk, even when it was at 0.5 mph on the treadmill for 2 minutes at a time!

People run for many different reasons. My marathon was a 15 year dream come true. It is also a testimony to Gods healing power. Training has been intense--I went from hardly walking, to jogging, to running 15 miles per week, to running 30 miles per week, to running 60 miles per week. Some people describe me as intense, others describe me as dedicated or driven; the dole juice box describes me as daring and playing. However you choose to describe me, this race was a personal victory! Oh and why do I run? For fun! =)

Race: Chosen Marathon for Adoption Full Marathon
Distance: 26.2 miles
Goal: Have fun! Complete 26.2 miles!
Goal Time: Under 4 hours
Actual Time: 04:04:37 (9:20 min/mi)

Before the race I was nervous, excited, and ready to go. I was bummed that it was super humid and 80F outside. I decided my goal time might need to be revisited (it never really was). The course was quite hilly as well. I train on the flats--San Antonio and Houston are flat.

When the race started, it was still quite dark outside--this was awesome! For the first 2.5-3 miles I just ran. I had no clue how fast or slow I was going. I just went, and loved it! Early morning runs, where you just go, without looking at the heart rate, or pace, are my favourites. The first few miles were glorious in my opinion. I stopped and drank water at every water stop.

I think it was somewhere between miles 9 and 12 I was poured on. Yes, it was raining. Yes, it made the course slick.

As I approached "the summit," (up a huge hill) the half way point, I was told that I was the third female. I saw my parents, my brother and his now fiance, and my two good friends, Lauren and Steven, cheering me on. This was one of the best moments in my life. Not once has someone gone to a race of mine to cheer me on or to watch me. I think the best part of it all was Dad taking pictures, and then running about 1/10 mile with me. It took energy to hold back tears of joy. I am blessed with a family and friends that support me! I kept thinking you have 13.1 more miles to go, you cannot cry, too much energy.

The next 13.1 miles were pretty enjoyable, minus a few details.

Mile 21: My left foot went numb, and I had a really bad side stitch, and I stopped and relieved myself.

Miles 22-24: These were hard, the hills were really getting to me. I never felt like I could not run, rather I felt like I could not run another hill.

Mile 24: I was passed up by the female that won third place.

Mile 26: I could hardly believe that I was about finished! I crossed the finish line smiling. I had no clue what my time was going to be--I was happy and disappointed at the same time--4:04:37. I really wanted my time to be under 4 hours. But...I ran a good race, and my time is nothing to be ashamed of. Upon completing the race, Dad came and gave me a hug. I came in smiling, although when Dad gave me a hug, I cried--tears of joy, tears of completion, tears knowing that my family loves and supports me! At the finish line were two of the women in my club--Lisa and Tina--they had walked the half in their goal time!

This past week I have taken it a little slower, although, I was trained well and was not all that sore. Monday I ran 8 miles, Tuesday I ran mile repeats, Wednesday I ran 4 miles, Thursday 8 miles, I took off Friday, and ran 11 miles on Saturday. I am looking forward to another week of running, and my race in two weeks.

Other tidbits. I told my Mom and Dad that I would be shooting for a much slower pace. I figured given the heat and humidity, I was not going to be able to run like I had originally wanted to. I warned them that I would be slow at getting to the half way point. My mother was reiterating this to someone, also stating that it was my first full marathon. Many were pleasantly surprised when I reached the summit, and it was stated that I am a legitimate runner. :) This was a great comment to me! I'm legit!

Running is fun! =)

My fabulous fan club! Mom, Steven, Lauren, Levi, Molly!

Still smiling after 26.2 miles!

4:04:37! 4th woman to finish, and 2nd place in my age division (18-29 Female)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Confession: I'm terrified that Jesus will abandon me

Nor let my hope be lost. I know that safe with Him remains, protected by His power, what I've committed to His trust till the decisive hour.
--Henry Drummond

Sarah, a friend of mine from HS, posted the following in her blog; "I will not lie, I'm terrified that Jesus will abandon me, but that's against his character and against his word, and I know that to be true." I could not agree with her more!

I have accepted a teaching position at Westfield High School, in Houston, Texas. I moved to Houston on Wednesday, 22 September 2010. The Lords hand has been in this situation, since the interview. I have been blessed in numerous ways! I would love to share those blessings, but many I am not comfortable sharing on this medium, due to state laws, etc. Feel free to ask me anything in person.

Blessings I will share in this public forum:
  • Great interview
  • People reaching out to me in Houston
  • People from San Antonio, reaching out to help me
  • People that used to live in Houston, reaching out to me
  • My brother introduced me to a friend from college, that has been a great friend to me!
  • A friend from UTSA's Methodist group, Upgrade, has continued to bless my life with friendship and a place to stay, while I was looking for places to live
  • Multiple teachers have reached out to me, and tried to help me in any way possible!
  • A great department chair
Those are just a few of the incredible blessings I have received this past week. Thank you family and friends for continued prayers! Please keep them coming, as starting mid-year can be quite the challenge. I want prayers for joy! Each and everyday, I want the students to see joy in my life!

Rejoice the Lord is King, your Lord and King adore. Mortals, give thanks and sing and triumph evermore. Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice! His Kingdom cannot fail, He rules o'er earth and heaven. The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given. Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
--Rejoice the Lord is King

Monday, August 30, 2010

Risk Taking: Mission and Service

During a sermon I listened to on the way to church yesterday, the following statement was made. Life is built on character (the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person). Character is built on decisions. Decisions are built on values. Values are built on faith. How are you glorifying Christ today through your actions?

Our sermon at First Presbyterian was about Risk Taking: Mission and Service. One of the points made was that mission and service always includes risks. During the prayer of confession, we prayed the following:

We have not loved neighbors as you commanded. Instead, we have done that which is safe, convenient, and comfortable. Help us to be willing to take risks to serve you faithfully in mission and service.

My actions chose to quit my job and move overseas. I took multiple risks. I planned on teaching for the year, and then loosely planned on staying and teaching for more than a year or two, and eventually coming stateside, continuing to teach. I also plan on marrying a wonderful man and starting my own family, preferably within the next few years. I have dreams, goals, and desires.

Teach me the mission appointed for me, what is my labor, and where it shall be.

I am paying the consequences of taking risks. I am without employment. I continue to search daily, for where God wants me to labor, and what it shall be. My search is nationwide. I have considered leaving the teaching field. In the sermon, the positive consequences were discussed, but not once were the negative consequences discussed, and how we deal with them, when they arise. Not all risks we take reap positive rewards.

My response you ask? I continue to pray that God will place me where He wants me. In the meantime I pray that I will serve Him with a joyous heart, while I am unemployed. God has given me this time; I want to glorify Christ through my actions today!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update to Power of God

Wow! I have been positively overwhelmed both by God's answer to my pleas and to individuals complete generosity in so many different ways and forms.

  • The original rash has gone away! I have replaced that rash with road rash, due to falling off of a bike during a triathlon. At least I know where this road rash came from! :) I owe a huge thank you to Ben, who cleaned my wounds after I finished the tri (Yes, I was able to get back on the bike, blood streaming down, determined, and in utter pain), my brother who cleaned my wounds with dish soap and water and then hydrogen peroxide, and lastly, my mother who then has cleaned my wounds daily, and dressed them with Aquaphor. Thank God for Eucerin, as I am not allergic to it! During this time of injury, I've had insult on the injuries, thanks to allergens. I am so blessed that each of the wounds are healing up quite nicely.
  • My ankle is still hurting, and I also hurt the other ankle, a tad bit. I have not run for a week due to the road rash. I will start up with Saturday's long run! I can hardly wait, it's hard not to run!
  • Subby is on it's way to the crusher! No more good times with the 1998 Subaru Forester. On the upside, thanks to the deer hitting our car in Idaho, I will soon be driving a Ford Freestyle. I am thankful for a vehicle to drive.
  • I am still searching for a job teaching secondary mathematics. And not just any job. A fabulous job with wonderful co-workers and a great administration, like I had at Mac Arthur HS, in NEISD. I know I am an excellent teacher! (I just copied and pasted this from last time!)
  • People have generously offered me clothes and bought me new items! Wow! Thank you, thank you!
  • My personal faith: Two prayers have been answered. I had been praying for three months that I would find something, and I found both items within a short time period. What a blessing! It was good to know that God has not forgot about me, nor my prayers.
In closing, I want to share another great hymn.

God be merciful to me, on Thy grace I rest my plea. Plenteous in compassion Thou, blot out my transgressions now. Wash me, make me pure within; cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin. Gracious God, my heart renew, make my spirit right and true. Cast me not away from Thee; let Thy Spirit dwell in me. Thy salvation's joy impart, steadfast make my willing heart.
--God be merciful to me

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Power of God

In April, I posted some random thoughts and prayer requests. I am still praying for the same things. Below you will find prayer requests, thoughts, and other random ramblings.

He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. --Deuteronomy 10:21



God is in charge, we are not seeing past our problems.
Love you, Mom

  • I continue to struggle with both my faith and physical health. In many ways I am the healthiest that I have ever been, and in other ways, I am worn and exhausted, and it is taking a toll on my body. Physically--doctors have no answers, and my body continues to reject itself on different levels. Nine months ago, up until about three months ago, I could not use soap on my body, as it caused me to break out in a painful rash. There was nothing I could place on my skin. This ran it's course and once again, I am able to use soap. Within the past month, I have developed a different rash, that has turned into hives, and is now calming down. I am tired of my body rejecting itself. It is painful--both physically and emotionally.
  • I hurt my ankle at Grouse Mtn., therefore I did not run for a week. I have to be careful with it, although that does not keep me from running now. I also managed to hurt my neck while on holiday, but thankfully I have a fabulous chiropractor, and Dr. White fixed me right up.
  • I still wish I could afford a new car. The 1998 Subaru Forester has 234,000 miles on it and I had AAA tow it from our house to the automotive store yesterday. Subby is very sick. :(
  • I am still searching for a job teaching secondary mathematics. And not just any job. A fabulous job with wonderful co-workers and a great administration, like I had at Mac Arthur HS, in NEISD. I know I am an excellent teacher!
  • I would love to be given someones gently used clothes they don't want/wear anymore. I was blessed with some new shirts this summer! Now accepting dresses, skirts, pants, really, anything you would like to get rid of.
  • My personal faith--I am struggling in remembering the great things God has done and continues to do. I am having a hard time seeing beyond my own problems and looking to His power.
This past month, I quit reading my bible and praying. I decided it just didn't matter if I prayed or not. It wasn't changing anything. After months, none of my prayer requests have been fully answered--I still do not have a job, I am physically hurting, the car is worse off, I would really like a dress or two (I wear the same ones over and over!), my dreams are still quite vivid, and I feel that no relief has been given to me. I find myself hurting more and more--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I shared this with four people. Each of them encouraged me to open up my bible and get back into the Word in one way or another.

Life with its way before us lies, Christ is the path, and Christ the prize. Fain not nor fear, His arms are near; He changeth not, and thou art dear.
--Hymn, Fight Thy Good Fight with all Thy Might

I picked up my bible and read. And then the next evening, the sermon was on the text I had just read the night prior. I do not remember what the text was, as I have been reading my bible daily since, and I can only absorb so much.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
--James 1:2-8

We exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
--Romans 5:2-5

Why have we decided that when we're hurting, we must be doing something wrong? Trials and tribulations are not always because of our wrong doing. One lady in Sunday school, who had battled many years of cancer, said it so well. She said something to the effect of, I still hurt, I still struggle, I doubt, I fear, the angst is still there, and sometimes I am angry, but I am grounded in the hope that Jesus Christ gives us, and there is nothing that can take that away.

Psalm 911: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"
--Psalm 91:1

As I was reading in Mark, I found a note in my bible that read, "I am not called to be successful; I am called to be faithful." At the same time, every little girl likes to dress up as a princess and pretend that they are successful, intelligent, beautiful, and loved. I am still a little girl. I still pretend. Maybe I need to change my view of successful.

As I have shared some of my struggles with my Mom and Dad, both of them have individually prayed with me. These are special moments in my life. God is powerful!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Unconditional Love

Happy Birthday, America! :)

Friday morning, my first conscience thought was, "Thank you, Jesus!" This was all I could say for about 20 minutes. I am not sure what spurred this on, nor am I sure why it was all I could think for so long, but I found myself simply saying over and over, like a broken record, "Thank you, Jesus!"

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Loving God and loving people is an action--it is a definitive choice. We are called to teach His Word, talk about His Word, bind His Word, and write His Word down. Loving God is personal (clearly, not private) and it is a commitment to employ oneself in loving service to Godhead--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Paralleling the scripture above:

I bow my knees before the Father so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14, 17-19

Looking at these scriptures, as Christians it is clear that love must be the foundation for ALL we do! When you die, what do you want to be known for? I've heard it said, LOVE! I agree, I want to be known for love!

This past week I was blessed to have my roommate from Ukraine, come and spend a week with myself and my family. I am grateful that we were able to share Christs unconditional love with/on Masha! God is so good to my family, and being able to share that love with another person is beautiful.

Masha and I at Sea World

Faith and Shamu

Masha and I in front of the Steel Eel and then in front of the Shamu car

Masha and Mom

Pretty flowers

Masha and I after the Shamu show

Grounds of the Alamo

Rio River Cruise on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Dad playing with the timer on his camera...Myself, Masha, Mom, Dad

Myself, Levi, and Masha at KSAT

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hope That Does Not Disappoint

I read this devotional this morning and I am encouraged by the hope that shines through the power of love!

Hope That Does Not Disappoint

Romans 5:5
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Today, we express hope as if we can’t be sure what will really happen. We say, “I hope I will win that prize. I hope it won’t rain tomorrow. I hope everything works out well.”

But “hope” in the Bible is a confident and positive expectation of good. God wants you to have a confident expectation of good because as His child, He favors you. Because Christ is in you, the hope of glory (Colossians1:27), you can expect the glory of God to shine into every area of your life, including your family, job, ministry, health and finances!

God’s Word says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” You may have experienced disappointed hopes, but there is a hope that does not disappoint when you are conscious of how much God loves you. It is a hope that springs from the heart of God, who loves you very much.

It is interesting that the first mention of the Holy Spirit in the book of Romans is tied up with the love of God. The book of Romans is considered foundational for Christians. Could it be that the first thing the Holy Spirit wants to do is to establish in our hearts that God loves us? Many people think that the Holy Spirit has come to teach us about power. But the truth is that the Holy Spirit has come not to reveal the love for power, but the power of love!

My friend, you may have just lost your job. But if you can say, “Jesus loves me this I know,” you can also say, “I believe that I will get a better job tomorrow.” Your girlfriend may have just left you for your best friend. But because you can say, “Jesus loves me this I know,” you can also say, “I’ll meet a better girl.”

When you believe that God loves you, you will have a positive expectation of good. You will have a hope that does not disappoint. So be careful what you hope for because you are bound to get it!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Wrath of God

This past Sunday our sermon was about grace and the wrath of God. I love the dichotomy presented here by the loving God we serve. God cares about what is holy, just, and right, so much so that He will NOT compromise with evil!

"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
2 Corinthians 6:17

To be separate involves being equally yoked, using the world without loving the things the world loves, and exhibiting Christlikeness.

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body
1 Corinthians 6:20

Isaiah 43:7 tells us that we are created to glorify Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us that we are to glorify God in our bodies. My question to you is how do you personally glorify Christ, sharing Gods character, each and every day?

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him
1 Corinthians 6:17

Monday, June 28, 2010


This weeks Pastor's Ponderings could not have come at a more timely season of my life. I have been given the opportunity to financially support the child, Yodalis Florentino, that I have been a writing sponsor of for the past couple years. My original thought was, "No way! I have no income. I am still seeking employment. I don't have enough. My car is dying (it's not even in driving condition right now). I do want some money in savings. I am about to go on COBRA. I don't have enough." And then shortly after that, I felt a tug in my heart saying, "You have plenty. I have given you all that you have and I continue to bless you. You will be provided for." Below is a snip-it from the Pastor's Ponderings found in First Press.

I recently read of a missionary who heard a knock on the door of the hut he occupied in Africa. When he answered, he found one of the native boys holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, "Reverend, you taught us what tithing is, so here--I've brought you my tithe." As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the young lad, "If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?" At this the boy beamed and said, "Oh, they're still back in the river. I'm going back to catch them now."

I too have nine more fish to go catch. I am ready to give my firstfruits to Yodalis to watch him grow and flourish, as a child of God. I am going to trust that God will continue to provide for me.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
Winston Churchill

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heart of Texas Triathlon #3

I completed my second triathlon this morning--a sprint tri. I was number 100, the last person to start. Ashley, who works for the race director, gave me a smiley face on my arm. She was excited for the double 0's. :)

Swim--300 meters, I cut my last swim time by 2 minutes and I actually passed one person in the pool.
Bike--12 miles
Run--2 miles, I was amazed at how fast I ran these two miles!

The triathlon was fun and I enjoyed the challenge!

Kathleen, myself, and Anna
(We run in the same club!)

I am on the far left, my running coach, John, behind myself, and then Kate, another friend from the running club.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Holy, Holy, Holy

How many times have you read and heard the scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6? If you're like me, you've seen it and heard it more times than you can count.

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."

I've read my bible, in fact, I've read these words many times, as well as the scripture following, but last night, in conversation with a friend, I stopped and went, "Whoa!" This is awesome!

Proverbs 3:7-8
"Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones."

Romans 5:3-5
"We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

This past year has brought on trials and tribulations, and I have tried to follow the wisdom brought forth in Proverbs 3:5-6; trust and acknowledge Him. As I reflect on my past year, I know God is faithful! My physical body continues to heal, and day after day I am becoming more whole and refreshed again.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
Holy, Holy, Holy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy Bride; with His own blood he bought her and for her life He died...One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses with every grace endued.
The Church's One Foundation

Two thoughts come to mind--what beautiful imagery, and I love the unity!

On a different note, Ephesians 2:10 coupled with Isaiah 43:7 gives us our purpose in life--to glorify Godhead! I love how God uses His word both throughout the OT and NT to teach us.

"For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10

"Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed even whom I have made."
Isaiah 43:7

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heart of Texas Triathlon #2

I competed in my first triathlon this morning. My running coach is the race director, and I thought it would be fun to try out. I've wanted to compete in a tri for quite a few years now, but have never done it. A friend from my running club, Kathleen, allowed me to borrow a bike, as mine is a mountain bike, and I could not ride my mountain bike as fast as I could one of hers. In fact, yesterday, I went over and rode three different bikes, determining which bicycle to borrow for the event. Thanks Kathleen for your generosity! :)

Before the race I was quite nervous. I was thankful for Kathleen's help, encouragement, and explanations of everything going on, how to handle it, and what to expect. She's an experienced triathlete. She helped me park the bike, put the towel down, take the bike for inspection, register, and everything else a person does in order to prepare.

I do not own a tri-suit, nor am I making an investment, so I felt kind of silly to say the least in my bikini bottom and sports bra, but at least they matched and it worked quite well for my purposes.

I was the very last person to start...number 115, as per my request. I know I am not a strong swimmer, or not anymore at least. Our swim was short, 300 meters, which took me 13 minutes! Swimmers started every 20 seconds. Number 105 went off, and then I had to wait, 20 seconds, 20 seconds, etc. until Number 115 was called. The people in between did not show up. I waited nervously for my number to be called so that I could start. And I started way too fast. After 50 meters, I was worn out. You swim up and down the lane, and then under the lane, and up and down the next lane. This goes on for six laps. The swim was tough for me, and I wasn't sure I wanted to even finish half way through them swim. Thank God for encouraging people all throughout!

When I finished swimming, I looked at my watch and kind of laughed at how bad I was. The next two parts were by far, my fav! I love riding and running, so with flip flops on my feet, I walked across the grass, took off the flip flops, put on my shorts, shirt, socks, and shoes, and helmet, and was ready to ride. The ride was 10 miles. It was relatively easy--I even passed some people! Wahoo!

After riding, I took off my helmet, placed my bike on the rack, and started to run. Wow! That was the hardest run I have ever done! The first 1/4 mile I was trying not to fall over and trip. No wonder people say that bike to run is difficult. I kept a nice clip on my run. I was surprised that I had ran the first mile in the 8's. I was able to pass a few more people on the run. The run was 2 miles, and I finished the entire race in 1:11:10. Surprisingly, I won an award. You can see a picture of the medal below. After the awards ceremony a group picture was taken, this picture will be on next weeks t-shirt. Guess I'm doing another tri!

As you can see, I am number 115. I am proudly wearing my medal!

The medal I won at my first triathlon!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Carrabba's Half Marathon Race

Race: Carrabba's Half Marathon Race
Distance: 13.1 miles
Goal Time: None
Actual Time: 02:08:27 (9:48 min/mi)

Mile 0: I looked for Emily, one of the girls I normally run and pace with, but did not see her. Oh well. On the other hand, I saw the girls relay group and military mens relay group from my club. I also saw Leroy, another one of the guys I run with. Since this race is chip time, I have no desire to start "on time" therefore, I waited a good 3.5-4 minutes before starting. This allowed people to go crazy fast, and other people to separate and move out of the way, as this race was quite crowded. I was able to run immediately and not start off walking or dodging people.

Loop 1: This was the longest of the four loops and I felt good upon completion. It was nice to be cheered on by John, one of the guys in my running club! In fact, he cheered me on for three of the four loops!

Loop 2: This loop went by relatively quickly and I was surprised in some ways when I had finished it. The longest "half" of the run was over, and I had finished in under an hour. I was pretty happy with my timing.

Loop 3: This was by far a challenging loop for me. I never really like mile 8. Even in training runs, they just don't seem to mesh with me.

Loop 4: Stopped for a restroom break. Wished I was a guy and could go anywhere. Alas, God has blessed me as a woman.

Finish: 2:08:27

My time is good, considering the heat and humidity here! I am pleased to have finished with that time and tomorrow I will do my first Triathlon.