Sunday, October 29, 2006

Family Reunion

1600 people gathered in one room singing praises to God.

Not so incredible in other parts of the country. At Harding, there were more than that in chapel each day (though how many were actually singing is up for debate). At College Church and Richland Hills and many others in the Bible belt, that would be low attendance. But for us in the Northwest, 1600 is incredible.

Welcome to TLC Sunday. Once a year, most of the Churches of Christ in the area meet together at the convention center for a family reunion of sorts. Today's was fantastic.

From the singing to the lesson to the fellowship to the singing (did I mention the singing?), it's good to gather with family. I especially appreciated Randy Harris' interpretation of the story of the prodigal son-- that the story was told to those in the religious world as a rebuke for their disdain toward sinners. Fast forward to today and we have the same problem. It's a message I've heard a hundred times, but still fail to carry out. I so love hanging out with my sisters who are nice and clean and pretty well mannered that I don't carve out time to eat with sinners.

The family reunion was made a little sweeter by the fact that my parents were there, just back from a long trip.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One Down...

There are a thousand things keeping me from writing right now...
  • shopping for insurance
  • building the church website
  • car shopping
  • teaching French
  • teaching violin
  • homeschool studies and activities
  • Singing and signing for concert
  • time with friends
  • TaeKwonDo
  • laundry
  • dishes
  • and all the rest.
So many good things to do. So little time in a day.
Tonight, I get to cross off one thing. Maybe that will make some time for writing.
One thing down.
I bet you can guess which one.

Monday, October 23, 2006


With all the preparation of getting a shuttle into space, the excitement of smashing a bottle of champagne against the bow of a ship, the fanfare of revealing a new ad campaign...

I am pleased to announce...

the totally reworked, reworded, and reinvented website of the Vancouver Church of Christ...

...has LAUNCHED!

Thanks to Judy Sword, Lori Davis, Brian Snyder, Jurgen Achterbosch, and Bonnie Miller for helping get it all together.

Check it out!

(feedback welcome)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Never Again

Never Again, we swore when we walked off the car lot over five years ago. Never again will we buy from a dealer. Never again will we let ourselves get desperate for a car.

Well, guess what?

Entropy happens.

And we need a new car.


We know what we need. We know what we want. We know how much money we have and somehow those three factors don't jive.

I've spent approximately 4,793 hours this week looking at cars on the Internet, but haven't found the right one yet. Not even at a dealer.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One in a Hundred Million

Today, the population of the United States hit 300 million. 39 years ago, in 1967, it hit 200 million... and Edwin was born.

In 39 years, what has changed in America?

Our life expectancy and standard of living are up... our morality is down.(or is it just that we're less tolerant of hypocrisy?)

Our Hispanic population is up... I know I'm thankful for at least one guy with Spanish blood.

We've gone from LPs to 8-tracks to cassettes to CDs to mp3s; from board games to Atari to XBox 360.

We've seen the invention of the computer, the Internet, and grape jelly in a squeeze bottle.

Houses are bigger, yards are smaller and we own a LOT more cars.

We stopped using party lines and Ma Bell-provided black rotary dial phones and went cordless, then wireless.

We sent men to the moon, a probe to the sun and a camera beyond the limits of our solar system.

We became the only remaining superpower in the world and we felt the responsibility that brings. But we also lost some humility along the way.

We stopped being the most Christian nation on earth and we felt the burn of persecution, not so much from foreigners, but from within our own ranks.

An important milestone, reaching 300 million. Coincidentally, Edwin's little truck is turning over a new milestone today, too. He thinks it's 200 thousand, but I say it's got to be 300. (believe me, if you saw it, you'd agree with me)

And Edwin's turning 39.

He's one in a 100 million to me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Book Review: Bad Idea a novel (with coyotes)

It's been a long time - years, even - since I've read a book good enough to consume an entire Sunday afternoon. I changed into pyjamas at 2 o'clock, brewed a pot of tea and enjoyed a good, long read.

In Bad Idea, the Hafer brothers combined the angst of the teen years with enough humor to pull the reader through a difficult story. The main character and narrator, Griffin, reminded me of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye in his sarcasm and intelligence. Unlike Holden, though, Griffin sees the good in people of true faith and he despairs of ever reaching their level of goodness. He logics his way to self-mutilation as a means to salvation or something near it.

The book is set on a road trip Griffin is taking with his dad and his dad's cliché, I mean, fiancé. But most of the story doesn't happen there. In a masterful use of flashbacks and inner thoughts, the Hafer brothers tell us all about Griffin, from the smart Christian teen he appears to be to the tormented, lost child of divorce that is his reality.

Bad Idea steps outside the bounds of a novel you would expect from a Christian book publisher, but not in a bad way. It's smart and it doesn't skirt the fact that Christians face real temptations and succumb to real sins that destroy themselves and those around them. If you read Christian fiction to escape the problems of real life, you may not enjoy this book. But if you'd like a ride inside the head of a teenager whose security has been jerked away from him, this is one the best books I've read in a long time.

Don't even ask about the coyotes. You'll just have to read it for yourself.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Missing Out

This weekend is the World Missions Workshop in Lubbock, TX. I've never attended one in Lubbock, but I've been to similar workshops in Abilene, Searcy, Nashville, Henderson, and Malibu. And no matter where they take place, it's like a big family reunion.

College students, fresh blood, excited to get out there and change the world.

Missionaries with a little experience under their belts, eager to share newly gained wisdom.

Older missionaries, whether still on the field or not, trading war stories and seeking out new recruits.

Missions committee members, teachers, family and friends-- dreamers all. These are the people who not only imagine the world as a better place, but who march out to make it so. These are the people who stand up for what they believe and who change lives on every continent. These are the people who, whether in ignorance or in faith, set aside their own temporary comfort for the eternal comfort of souls. These are the people who hug their children good-bye at the airport, cheering and waving and hiding their tears until the plane takes off.

I love these people. They're my family.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

lessons learned addendum

Another thing we learned at the electric company is to never approach an opened transformer box. Back away and call 9-1-1. Apparently a man in our county had never been on this field trip, though.

The front page of this morning's paper showed a picture of a transformer station, 2 EMTs and a stretcher carrying a covered body. A man broke into the station to steal copper wire and was electrocuted. He died.

Lesson learned.

lessons learned

Opposites attract.

All water flows to the ocean.

It takes more energy than my kids can generate to run a hair dryer.

Natural gas prices affect us, too.

It takes a lot of children to equal 1300 pounds.

These are all truths we learned on our field trip to the public utilities district.

Of course what my kids learned was, morning field trips are great 'cuz then you don't have to do math.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

First Date

Does every couple have a bad first date story? We had dinner with some friends this week who told us about their first date-- his car broke down so he caught a ride to her house, but she thought they were meeting somewhere else. Her little brother insulted him, he had to ride the bus to get to where she was and, to top the evening off, he had to accept a ride home from a "guy friend" of hers and watch her ride off with the other guy at the end of the date.

For my first date with Edwin, he showed up at the door with Calla Lilies and Mom opened the door and asked, "Who died?" Then, as part of the date, we went to the mall and called his family from a pay phone.

The first thing my dad ever said to my mom (he denies it) was, "You're cute but your dress is too long."

Maybe there's something to facing awkwardness and foibles right up front. These 3 couples have been married 13, 18, and 42 years.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More on the Status Quo

A couple of days ago I explored the physical things I think I need. Turns out very few of them are actually needs. Most are attempts to keep up with the expectations of society, to find ease and safety. But if I flip my priorities the right way around, I find the truth in Jesus' words: it is difficult, if not impossible, for the rich to enter God's kingdom. If I ever want to fool myself into thinking I am not rich, I just have to open photo albums from Africa to remember what poverty looks like.

But what of the soul? What does my spirit crave? What do I need to thrive?

  • Food - "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. " (John 6:35)
  • Water - "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" (John 4:13-14)
  • Clothing - "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)
  • Shelter - "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 63:7)
  • Health - "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Why, if God offers not only what we need, but abundantly, overflowingly more, do I still feel hungry? Why do I thirst yet not drink of what he offers? Why do I feel tired and weak?

I think I, and probably many others, have gone to the wrong source. I attend church on Sunday and expect to be fed. I drink from cultural books about the church and I still feel thirsty. I look for safety in the company of friends only to find that they are flawed and feeble, too.

When I started the first part of this the other day, I was going to conclude with, "the church needs to do this, be this, change this," to meet people's needs, but as I've let my thoughts spill out, I realize that my emphasis was misplaced. If I go to the source, the spring of living water, to fulfill my needs, I will be filled with the overflow of God's rich gifts-- and I'm not talking money here. If I'm overflowing, then I've got something to share.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Status Quo

Is it possible to be content in all circumstances, yet dissatisfied with the status quo?

When the apostle Paul talked about being content in all circumstances, he spoke of his financial situation. He said he'd learned the secret of contendedness whether rich or poor (and, a little more pointedly, whether the Philippians sent him money or not, but thanks for finally sending some). But I don't see that he was content with the state of the church in so many places he visited. He hoped for something better for them-- for freedom from sin, for love toward each other, for growth in the spirit.

Doesn't it feel like we get that upside-down sometimes? I know I do. I find myself complaining about what I can't afford (right now it's the $2500 transmission job that our van desperately needs or another van to replace it), forgetting that there is really very little that I NEED.

  • Food (Even rice and beans is all I need, I certainly enjoy a variety of tastes.)
  • Water (At some point, clean running hot and cold water inside the house became a necessity in the West, but it's really not a need. It's a convenience.)
  • Clothing (In so many places, people have only the clothes on their backs. I can't even keep up with the mounds of laundry we go through around here.)
  • Shelter (A roof, some warmth is nice.)
  • Health (I'm not sure where the idea came from that we should be able to live completely pain-free lives. I like the idea, but it's just not a reality for most people.)

I complain so often because I can't afford this or that, I can't sign the kids up for such-and-such an activity because it's too expensive, but I really have all the physical stuff I need, and more.

In my spiritual walk, though, I sometimes feel like I'm settling for less than what God offered. His grace is abundant, his peace is beyond comprehension, his joy bubbles up and overflows. But I sit back and pat my belly. "No thanks, I'm stuffed," I say, like I'm on some kind of starvation diet.

(to be continued)