Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do You Need to Get Trained to Live Out the Gospel Better?

I am a copy cat. I just got home from church tonight and saw Angela had written a little promotional blog post about the upcoming Get Trained semester that is about to start at Stone. Sounded like a good idea, so I'm doing a little push myself... Classes start 2 weeks from today! Yeah!

Austin Stone's Get Trained Ministry exists to stir the heart and renew the mind in order to move you to ACTION... Classes cover all kinds of topics, but the underlying heartbeat is to help you get educated, inspired, and motivated to LIVE MISSIONALLY outside the four walls of the church. For the full list of 29 classes click here,

But to whet your appetite, here are just a few highlights from the roster...

Sovereignty of God in Salvation (women's class), taught by Angela Suh & Amber Gentry... a 7-week class that not only teaches you about the Biblical, right-thinking about how God calls people to saving faith in Jesus, but also gives you some how-to-share motivation for those in your life who do not yet know Jesus.

Mercy Ministry, taught by Logan Gentry... this 6-week class will be half learning about and half practical application of ministering to broken lives through word and deed. If you find God has been starting to stir in you an awareness of "the last" and "the least", this class will help show you how to respond.

Crossing Cultures, taught by Joey Shaw, Troy Alexander, & Hilary Pepper... a 9-week class that focuses on building skills for cross-cultural interaction in your neighborhood, your workplace, or around the globe. Look around you-- if you know someone economically different, ethinically different, religiously different... those are all cultural differences you can learn how to more easily bridge in conversation and relationship.

Gospel Christianity, taught by Todd Engstrom & Kevin Peck... a 10-week class that examines how the gospel is not just about our receiving salvation, but how it also has implications and applications for our daily life as we represent Christ and fulfill His commands to the world around us.

Encountering the World of Islam, taught by Joey & Krystal Shaw (& me)... a 10-week class that both educates you about the religion of Islam and inspires you to be a beacon of love through relationship building with the Muslim people. With almost 2 million Muslims living in the United States, we need to learn about these neighbors so that we can love them well.

All of the classes I have highlighted above help you to simply make FIRST STEPS in each of these topics. You don't have to know anything about the subject, you just have a learner's heart and a willingness to grow and be stretched. And there are 24 other classes to choose from if those didn't jump off the page at you.

SIGN UP soon, they fill up quick!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Call to Action / How will we answer one day if we fail to intercede?

Last night, my good friend Jen Hatmaker came to speak to the women of Austin Stone. The message she speaks so clearly is one that has been haunting me for the last several months. And with each passing day, the emotional angst I feel about it boils hotter and hotter inside. Somedays, I literally could (and do) scream it is tearing me up so badly. I don’t know how else to let out some of the steam but to stand alone in my house and just yell at the top of my lungs… to no one. Somedays, all I can do is wail in tears, writhing on the floor, the couch, the bed… wherever. Last night was one of those nights. I came home from her talk, and I boo-hoo’d on my couch. Then went and boo-hoo’d in my bed and ended up crying myself to sleep. I am surprised I could even fall asleep because the emotions that stir in my heart about this subject make me feel so restless inside. So, what the heck did she talk about, you ask?! Our generation’s call to action.

In an excerpt from her book, Ms. Understood, which she used in her talk last night, she says: “If you are a woman [or man] born into wealth (meaning you make more than $2/day unlike HALF the world) & part of the next generation, I believe you were chosen—before the foundation of the world—to BE an answer to problems unsolvable until now. This generation was selected for THIS time—a time so promising & passionate, it has never been rivaled. There is a holy calling awaiting this generation. We are the ones.” (p. 178)

“Jesus said that His gospel was good news for the poor, sick, orphaned, and oppressed because His people would BE His hands and feet. We are part of the reason the gospel is good news. If God instructed His millions of followers to care for the poor, and those followers have every resource to do it, then the impoverished have hope. [Conversely, if God instructed His millions of followers to care for the poor, and those followers have every resource to do it—and we DO NOT, woe to us for the wrath that will befall us!] We are the Almighty’s plan to alleviate suffering. Help is on its way.” (p. 180)

Enter you. Enter me. Enter the church awakening from her violent slumber. How will we answer one day if we fail to intercede?
‘God, I didn’t know’?
‘I didn’t have any resources’?
‘I was overwhelmed’?
‘I didn’t think You were serious’?”
(p. 180)
I could also add: ‘I was too busy’?
‘It required me to change too much of how I live life’?
‘It required me to give up too much of what made me comfortable’?
‘I was distracted by work, internet, boys, or church activities’?
‘I didn’t know where to start’?

“Never has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few. (Let’s quickly redefine ‘wealth’: if you make $35,000/yr, you are in the top 4% in the world. $50,000/yr? Top 1%.) The skills, resources, & opportunities for social revolution are unprecedented. With the extraordinary advantages of global communication & technology, there isn’t an international problem that cannot be answered by this generation. We are economically, ecologically, & electronically sophisticated. We are globally organized, positioned for action, & dead serious about social justice & the intersection of the church.” (p. 177)

The only answer for our generation is to BECOME the hands and feet of Christ. Jesus said, ‘From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked’ (Luke 12:48). Let there be no doubt: Our generation has been entrusted with more resources, wealth, opportunities, and knowledge than any before us. God must think highly of our potential. Let’s not squander our legacy on self absorption or chasing the American Dream, a dream the rest of the world cannot even afford. But may we hear from our Savior one day: ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matt 25:40).” (p. 181)

This kills me. And yet, I haven’t quite figured out how to wholly deal with it. Hence, the unrest and inner turmoil that is plaguing me day in and day out. I cannot see how I can respond without changing EVERYTHING about how I live… which feels terrifying. But I have a feeling that it will be the most liberating, satisfying, and peace-bringing shift of my life.

I pray that the Holy Spirit brings continual conviction upon my heart. And I pray that God fills me with boldness to move forward. I pray that He brings the same sense of holy fear into your hearts as well… that He might move you to action. I don’t want to waste any more time. The Bible says our life is a vapor and we do not know when our time is up… I don’t want to end my life still trying to figure out what to do with all this.
To purchase, Ms. Understood:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm Now Sharing Jesus Online!

I recently heard of the coolest new (to me) ministry ever!!! Two weeks ago, I was opening up some mail from a Christian organization when a little 4-color flyer fell into my lap. Because I saw a veiled woman in one of the pictures (my heartbeat), I actually read the flyer... and was immediately so excited! Here's what it says:
In case you can't read that: "Millions of people search for God everday--online. Global Media Outreach, an internet ministry ... that has websites where thousands of people everyday learn about the good news of Jesus and connect with volunteers through email. Would you like to help respond to emails from people seeking Jesus? Apply to be a volunteer today!" After reading this, I think I inadvertantly let out a little squeal! Then, I flipped it over to find out more...
It reads: "Here's your passport to the world--without ever leaving your home! Easy-- if you can send an email, you can share the gospel! You control how many emails you receive. You decide how much time you spend online. Safe! No one sees your email address and no one can spam you. We provide the training and resources."

How easy and stinkin' COOL is that?!?! I immediately ran and showed the flyer to Andy. He knows better than anyone how -- although I LOVE the church, and ESPECIALLY Austin Stone -- I love the nations and wish I could be used more "out there." With Andy actually working for the church, I know and believe Austin--and Austin Stone--are where we are called by God in this season. He is always re-confirming that in our hearts (its actually pretty neat). But I also have this strong desire to be a light and presence to this world (especially all the parts that look nothing like me and don't resemble my culture). I can go on several short-term trips a year (and I do), I can have international friends who live here in Austin (and I do), but now I could ALSO be a part of sharing Christ across the globe right from my own living room during all the times I am at home. Pretty amazing, huh!?!

This past spring, I heard a girl from Sudan's testimony of coming to Jesus and having to go into hiding. She was from a prominant family in Khartoum and grew up with a strict Arab-Muslim family culture. When she became a believer, they tried to kill her and she ran away and lived in an apartment with a missionary family in town for several months before she got safe passage out of the country. During that time, she wasn't allowed to leave the house (or even walk past the window) and she told me that she spent her days online... learning about her new faith and going to chat rooms made up of people in the Arab World (and particularly countries closed to missionaries) and shared Christ online. That was about the coolest thing I had ever heard of (can yall tell I think this is "cool"? I keep saying that.) At the time, I wondered-- how does someone get involved in that? Now, I know... (I am in no way implying that my Sudanese friend volunteered for the organization that I am now volunteering with... she just had a similar outreach.)

I went to the website on the flyer ( and did some more research... watched their videos, read all the scoop on how it works, and then decided to pray about this opportunity. After a week of prayer, I applied to be a volunteer in their ministry. I completed the application & references, was approved, and finished the training all within 48 hours. Then last night, I got my first email from a contact! Here's me re-enacting responding to emails last night at midnight:
I was pretty excited! The whole thing was super easy and such a neat way to pray for and encourage believers beyond my reach. Here's me, being REALLY excited about this new ministry AND excited to tell all YOU out there about it... I want to rally some more volunteers from my readers:
If you want to read some stories about volunteers and their experiences serving in this minsitry, click here: And if you want to read some stories from people across the globe who have found the evangelistic and discipleship websites and written in, click here:

I sincerely hope that some of you who read this SIGN UP!! What a cool (there I go again) way to be used by our God in this new age of technology and global accessibility!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Miniatures... of Food??

I had dinner with a friend tonight at Kerbey Lane and when we were walking out there were two plates set out at the hostess podium (ones like you might usually find specials of the day displayed). But the plates were almost all empty and white. So much so that it caught my attention. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that-- in fact-- they WERE displaying food. Miniature food. I was so tickled that I whipped out my phone to record this RANDOMNESS!
The picture above is of 3 meals served at Kerbey and a QUARTER from my wallet to show scale. The hostess said all the displays are actually made from the food they are meaning to display. On the left, pancakes/eggs/bacon/garnish... in the center, french toast with powdered sugar sprinkles... on the right, a hamburger with sweet potato fried.
Above, is a close up of the miniature of the burger (dressed with lettuce) and krinkle fries.
Above, is a close-up of the pancakes (with butter and syrup), bacon, and scrambled eggs. I guess Tuesday nights are slow...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boy Bonding

We had a band retreat this weekend at the lake (I was the honorary girl/non-band member) and I just have to laugh at the way boys bond sometimes. What did they do? Played pool, fished, beat up their bodies by pulling each other on the tube behind the boat, as band-boys they play songs for each other, and... they play on the internet, together. Two of the guys stayed up till almost 5am showing each other funny videos on Youtube. I busted Joe and Andy at one point with both laptops on the arcade console Facebooking (each other). It reminded me of a picture I caught of them 2 weeks ago in our living room... sitting in the same room, both laptopping. It cracks me up. Girls just don't bond this way.
This weekend.
Two weeks ago.
Side story-- our two boy dogs copy each other in their expressions and poses. It's not exactly "bonding", but it's two boys so there is the similarity in theme. ??? Here are some random pictures to show you what I mean.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Applied for a PAL

Before you start wondering if my social life has dwendled to such a place that would necesitate me "applying" for friends, let me explain... PALS is a program offered by the International Office at the University of Texas, Austin.

PALS stands for:
Partnerships to

The program was started in 1993 to introduce international students to American students (now evolved to include any Austinite) for the purpose of practicing language. It has now evolved to be not just a language practice program, but also a culture sharing opportunity for both parties. You apply (online or in personal at the International Office), you get in their system, they match you with an international student, and then whammo-- you have a PAL. You can even request a PAL from specific countries or native languages. You meet with your PAL once a week at the time yall choose, the place yall choose, to do the activity yall choose. That's it.

It is a fabulous way to WELCOME one of the almost 4300 undergraduate international or 7250 graduate international students that come to UT each year. Statistics indicate that vast majority (if someone can find the stat, post it in the comments) of international students never step foot inside an American home-- EVER-- during their time in the states. To me, that is a sad and missed opportunity to love on strangers in this foreign land we call home.

If you live in Austin and want a PAL, I highly recommend you signing up. It's easy. It's fun. And the semester starts around the corner. They will begin matching students the first week of September. Check out their website, , for more information. If that doesn't work, try this:

I Can Still Water Ski**

(pictured above is a UT Water Ski Team member, NOT me!)

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are in... I can still water ski**. I started skiing when I was about 5... if you define skiing by nestling between my mom or dad's skis while the boat pulled them up and then I'd stand on their skis while they balanced and moved them around. I first learned to slalom (on my own) when I was in 6th grade. I kept trying all summer by using my double skis and trying to drop one. It wasn't working, so finally I borrowed my high school-aged sister's professional slalom ski and popped right up on the frist try. After that I was hooked. I can't tell you how many hours I would ski. It was my favorite passtime.
By the time I went to college, I felt enough of a pro to try out for the University of Texas' Water Ski Team. Much to my surprise-- and EXCITEMENT!-- I made the team my freshman year. We had tournaments almost every weekend, playing big public universities from Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. We had to practice at least twice a week too... it was quite a time commitment!
Ski Team Tournaments were comprised of 3 events: 1) the slalom course (my event), 2) trick skiing, and 3) the ski jump. This is the website that describes the rule of tournament "play". For the slalom course, basically, as the boat went up the center of the lake, I was to zig-zag back and forth, looping around bouys that were pre-set a certain distance apart from each other. When you finished your first pass at the course-- without error-- the boat turns around and you make a second pass, this time 2 miles/hour faster... and so on and so on until a certain speed and then they start shortening the length of your rope. I was decent. Before the team, I thought I was a rock star water-skier. After being around seriously good teammates, I realized I was just okay. But is sure was fun! I was only on the team for a year before I decided (sadly) that partying was a more important time commitment in my life. I quit the team, but I still skied-- just with family and friends.
When Andy and I were dating, we would go skiing some, but I was embarrassed to ski in front of him (I am not exactly sure why), so I kind of stopped skiing. Then 2 summers ago we had our "motorcycle" accident and my foot hasn't been the same since. It was my left foot that was crushed in the accident, which was my frontward ski foot. I never regained complete control or balance in that foot and was certain that it would mean I wouldn't be able to grip my foot well enough to ski.
But today, I went into Andy's office and declared: "Let's go skiing this afternoon!" Shocked, but up for the adventure, he agreed. After my frist attempt, I realized my foot was not as much of a problem as my complete lack of arm strength to hold on to the rope as the boat pulled me up. I didn't get up. But on the second try, I managed to emerge from the water. (Now this is where the ** comes in) I stayed up for almost 45 seconds. I stayed inside the wake the whole time. My arms were getting weaker by the mili-second. I dropped. But I did it! Now I know it CAN be done... I'll just need to start working on my stamina! It has only been an hour since we went skiing, but the backs of my thighs are already killing me, and my arms shake whenever I try to hold them up. It was worth it though!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Funny in Farsi

After finishing such a heavy read earlier in the week, I picked up "Funny in Farsi" by Firoozeh Dumas. This book is a gem! I found myself up till 2am last night trying to finish it. It is worth the sleep-dep. To sum it up-- it is the memoir of an Iranian woman growing up in America. The way she interpreted and saw American culture through the lenses of her own experience and her family's are just priceless. She moved to the U.S. when she was in 2nd grade and is now a permanent resident, married to a Frenchman, with two kids, living in California-- so this book spans from the 1970s to today. Chapter after chapter she writes about the hilarious esapades of immigrants trying to figure out and appreciate America. This book is so worth your time if you want to instigate a perspective shift in your own mind about what the foreigner's experience is like as they try to adjust and live in this "great" land of ours. Ohhh, and get ready to laugh!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Elderly Boyfriend Died

I am having a hard time with the changing face of our neighborhood. Last weekend, I was driving down our street only to find an estate sale going on at one of the houses. I knew this meant bad news. It was the house of one of my favorite old folks... our neighborhood is full of 'em. I'd regularly drive by seeing him out on his front porch smoking and waving at the cars. He was precious and, in my head, was the sweetest old man there was. Andy dubbed him my "boyfriend" and would tease me saying that I would one day leave him for this old man.
So last weekend, I walked through his empty house (pictured above). The estate sale workers confirmed he had passed away last month. I knew I hadn't seen him out smoking in a while, but we've been gone a lot this summer. Each room was full of old people furniture and nick-nacks. I found a stack of old records selling for a dollar. I bought a bunch that were of old organ playing and hymns. He even had an ooooollllldddddd Billy Graham crusade on LP. I got that too. Then I found his stash of pipes. There were about 30 of them. I bought the cleanest looking one for Andy to remember my old boyfriend by.

As I drove away, I got even more sad. Not just because the sweet old man had died. It was that, PLUS what it represented in our neighborhood. Change. Like I said, our neighborhood is full of elderly people living in their old houses on big lots of land. Our street is old farm land complete with 80 yrs old green trees and a big creek winding through it. The houses are on average 1000 square feet. But the land is cause enough for circling buzzards in the form of real estate speculators. Especially given we are less than 5 miles from downtown.

A house not one block from the old man was torn down the year we moved in and NINETEEN homes were put in its place (complete with a skinny road splitting the property down the middle to gain access to all these new homes). Pictured below, this land went from ONE to 19. It not only squeezed every square inch possible into the development, it also paid no mind to the required 5 foot-to-lot-line rule.
Last year, a tiny old house was bought and "added onto," making it one of FOUR houses in the line of a single driveway. They advertised it as "Luxury Homes in the Trees," even though after construction I can only count 2 trees on the once copious lot. Then earlier this year, the cutest little farm house on our whole street was bought. The developers promised to ship the house to a new place, but one day we drove by to see it being dismantled in a way it could never be rebuilt. Today, it is a construction zone for a major development of town homes. Here's the link to the site plan: where you can see how many homes they are placing on a lot that used to be one precious farm house. Pictured below is the construction in progress.
I know times change, but this just makes me sad. Plus, Robin had always planned to one-day buy that little farm house so we could be neighbors.

The lot next door to the old man who died is the latest victim on our street. It was an 800 sq foot home with an equally old lady living there, but the land was well over an acre. She died this year. The "house" was sold, immeidately torn down, now the land has been cleared and a new sign announces the coming of "SIX Unique Luxury Homes" and the development is called "The Park". Pictured below is the cleared lot, ready for building now. I am scared my boyrfriend's house will be next on the chopping block (he's on at least 2 acres).
It feels like pretty soon Andy and I will be defending our old pecan farm from the vultures as well. Not that the vibe of our street will be worth fighting for anymore after the evolution continues to suck the life out it.

Feeling Nostalgic for Harwood

Today I went to show our rent house to a potential new tenant. Since we've started renting it out, I never get to step inside; but today, I took full advantage. Walking through the empty house was like a walk down memory lane for me. Andy lived in this house when we first met and all throughout our dating years. I can still remember where all the furniture was set up, I remember his dishes and hysterically boyish pantry items. When we married, he moved. But it was only after many hours spent together laboring in love to make this charming little house what it is today.

When Andy bought the house years ago, it was already a project waiting to happen. As a single fella he took his time working on one bit at a time. He redid the kitchen, added a laundry room, ripped up the floors, among other things before he met me.

My favorite story is of Andy opening up the giant box in his front yard one day to find his latest ebay purchase: a claw-foot tub to match the 1940s vibe of the house. It was well after dark and he was just getting home after a late night at work followed by some music at S. Congress clubs. Knowing he wouldn't be able to move it alone (and no one would help at 2am), he decided to at least climb in (fully clothed) to see how comfy it was. The answer must have been "pretty comfy" because he fell asleep and didn't wake up till his neighbors were all headed out to work the next day, pointing fingers at their crazy new neighbor who sleeps in bathtubs in the front lawn.
Once I became his girlfriend, I was looped into the project too. Thus sweet and funny memories were created. As I stood in the "red" room today, I remember the first time I realized what a perfectionist Andy was when--as I helped him paint the room red--my lines along the trim were not quite straight enough. Standing on the back deck, I remembered his absolute need to paint the ceiling white-- at 11pm one night. So there we stood, illuminated by a single flourescent bulb from a floor lamp, cricking our necks back and roller painting the ceiling--with drips falling all over our faces.
As I tried to explain the color of the exterior to the renter in question, I found myself laughing at the debacle that was our paint choice. We had hoped for a nice soft green for the siding and a complementary grass green trim. But after hundreds of dollars of already purchased paint and several hours of hard labor, we took a step back only to realize the house was now a lovely tennis ball/highlighter yellow-green with pea soup trim. But we were already committed at that point and so it stands today (luckily it has faded with time). Then I remembered the day before we left for Australia, furiously trying to finish the last minute painting, when Andy droped a bucket of paint on my head from the ladder above my designated painting spot. I had flourescent green paint in my hair almost the entire month we travelled abroad.
I certainly love where we moved after getting married. But I do love the memories of that old house.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Makes Me Think

One week down and “The Caged Virgin” is finished. I told yall it was a page turner. After dinner with Angela this week, when she made fun of me for calling Ayaan Hirsi Ali “one of my favorite authors” (since she’s only written 1 other book that I read), I realized I should probably clarify. I guess I would say that Hirsi Ali is one of my favorite thinkers. Many in the international arena find her extreme, provocative, and troublesome. She has definitely ruffled a LOT of feathers. One of the most horrific stories of how people in the international community oppose her exercise of free speech includes the murder of a man who produced her documentary exposing the harsh realities of extreme abuse of Muslim women… the man was stabbed to death in the streets of Amsterdam in broad daylight. And a letter addressed to Hirsi Ali was pierced through his chest with a knife (see photo of crime scene below). I would say that qualifies her as a very hated woman.

But to me, she is an inspiration. Do I agree with all her viewpoints—no. But her passion and determination to use her mind and her voice to speak out against human rights violations of women on the global stage is powerful to witness. She was born a Muslim, but is now an atheist. She lives in exile under 24 hr armed guard because of the threats on her life. Yet she speaks. And continues to speak. Because she believes that fighting for women who cannot yet fight for themselves is a moral imperative.

“The Caged Virgin” is a collection of essays she has written on the topic she refers to as “The Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam”. The writings run the gamut from an indictment on female circumcision to the punishment of a woman for her own rape… from democratic countries turning a blind eye to the “cultural traditions” of their Islamic immigrants (even when they break the laws of their new home country) to a healthy discussion on why Islam resists critical evaluation of its own beliefs and culture. Each chapter is smart, thought-provoking, and, at times, painful to read—because to hear stories of women who do experience suffering simply breaks my heart (and she tells the stories of countless women she’s met).

Although the battles Hirsi Ali fights are inherently good, to lump the whole group into one is a generous, yet limited description. One thing that I have learned in my personal encounters with Muslim women is that there are no two alike. They do not ALL suffer from domestic abuse, they do not ALL have husbands with multiple wives, they don’t ALL bear the scars of childhood incest, etc. But what I love about Hirsi Ali’s fight is that she awakens me to have compassion for, think of, and to fight for women who are suffering these injustices. She says, “I invite the advocates of the multicultural society to acquaint themselves with the suffering of women who, in the name of religion, are enslaved in the home. Do you have to be mistreated, raped, locked up, and repressed yourself in order to put yourself in someone else’s position? Is it not hypocritical to trivialize or tolerate those practices, when you yourself are free and benefit from mankind’s progress?” (p.7, “The Caged Virgin”).

Reading her book doesn’t make me want to accuse every Muslim woman I meet of being a miserable, unhappy victim and blame every Muslim man for her plight. Instead, it generates in me a longing to reach out to those who are oppressed, who do suffer, and who bear the burdens of pain and loneliness. I want to love them and care for them as Christ would. The problem I see in that plan of action is that those who do suffer in this way are encouraged by society or culture to keep it a secret. Typically, you don’t advertise the painful things you are going through. Especially as an immigrant in America, where are the places these women can even turn to? So, how will I ever know who they are ? How can I ever help them?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Own Personal Stalker

I have my own personal stalker. His name is Lucky. Everday I sit at my desk to work on my computer, the blinds open so I can look outside. And everyday, he is there.
He sits perfectly at attention and just stares. He can actually see me and if I move, his eyes follow me. I put words to his thoughts sometimes: "Open the door, open the door, open, open, open! Plllleeeeeaaaassseeee let me in... I just want to beeeee with you, mommy!"
He cannot stand to be away from me. Andy and I joke about his "separation anxiety," due to his "abandonment issues" (he has a history of these issues: see below, it started YOUNG!).
Joking aside, when I sit at my desk and just see him out there pleading, I must give in. I let him in, while the other dogs gleefully remain outside playing all day. He just wants to be where ever I am. I run to the store, he's dying to go with me. I move from my office to the living room, he follows. I literaly step 2 feet from my kitchen sink to the stove and he gets up to move closer. It is sad. It is precious. He is my stalker. My little Lucky.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Luke 2:34-35

I've been chewing my way through Luke chapter 2 for the last two days and am finding myself drawn over and over to verses 34-35 (NLT): "This child (speaking about Jesus) will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But He will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."

This is a good reminder for me as I continue to love on and build friendships with people who don't know Jesus. Many people will reject Him. That makes me so sad. Those who reject Him have either witnessed Him for themselves or heard the stories about what He's done, yet they turn away from their one, true hope. Somehow, this Scripture encourages me to press on in reaching out to those who do not know Jesus as their Savior... because regardless of where they fall after the experience of encountering God (in this case, through me), their hearts will be revealed through the encounter.

My hope is that Jesus will be their greatest joy, and not their undoing. This keeps me going.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I hate to say it, but I am putting a book down... unfinished. For the record, I am a "rule-follower" and, for whatever reason, that also translates into my reading habits. If I start a book-- no matter how much I hate it, am bored by it, or don't understand it-- it MUST be completed. If I give up and stop reading, I feel like a quitter. I try to press on at times because I just keep holding out hope that somewhere in the pages ahead it somehow turns a corner and gets good... and if I've stopped reading it, I will never know if it turned out to be great in the back-end.

But yesterday, I gave myself permission to to put down a book I've been squirming through for a month now. (That should have been my first clue because it rarely takes me that long to read anything). The book: "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. Cue the tomato throwing-- cuz I have heard it is a great book. I heard it was slow in the beginning and was assured it DOES turn that corner I was talking about. But it's just not doin' it for me. Even the fact that it's trying to do it for me, isn't doin' it for me (name that movie quote). So, done with "Three Cups of Tea" (name that movie quote). I'm moving on.

I started "The Caged Virgin" last night (by one of my favorite authors, Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and just two pages in was HOOKED! Now, that's what I'm talking about!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Turkish Henna Night

Tonight, Michelle and I went to the Turkish American Women's Association Coffee Night here in Austin. These are Turkish women living here in Austin, but they miss their beloved Turkey. So once a month, they invite their Austin neighbors/friends/coworkers to come for a night of learning about Turkish culture (plus eating Turkish food and drinking Turkish coffee).

Tonight's theme was "Henna Night", which is traditionally the night before the wedding when all the women celebrate with the bride. She dresses in a red dress, they since songs and dance, they try to make the bride sad and cry (because she is supposed to be sad to leave behind her family to move in with her new husband), and they henna her hands. Henna is a natural pigment that, when applied to the skin, leaves a stain (plus it smells great). Michelle and a few other familiar faces all volunteered to play the role of the "bride" and have their hands henna-d. (So did a lot of the already married Turkish women there--- because it's just plain fun!). Enjoy the photos...
Michelle, Anneke, and Laura with Gulsah (the TAWA president, center) and two other ladies from the coffee night.

Michelle (who was forced to wear the bride's crown) shows off her henna hand-- she was the first to try it... because IIIII volunteered her!

Anneke being painted by a super talented woman while Summer looks on.

Laura, posing with her henna artist... her henna was green colored and really beautiful!

Psalm 19

"The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.
They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.
The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight to life.
Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep me from deliberate sins!
Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer!"

Psalm 19 (New Living Translation)