- Watching my "n-th" endless hour of news about the economic crisis. Wavering between total trust/peace and lamet/freakin' about how we might have done things differently. Plus spending too much time listening to the same analysis over and over.
- I am (overly) interested in seeing how Palin fares verses Biden on Thurs given my personal bent towards caring about foreign affairs. Kinda an unfair match up in that category.
- Lunched with Heather and Angela today... Angela came with Malachi in tow (per her usual) and I brought Lucky to test the dog-love affect on recovering patients. Heather loved both. I feel inspired to take Lucky around to hospitals for visits because he's so wonderful. But in all honesty, he'll probably stay reserved just for my friend in recovery (I'm assuming there's dog-hospital training).
- We leave for Turkey three weeks from tomorrow. Yes, I did NOT studder. That's basically tomorrow which freaks me out about every other hour.
- Andy and I went to the Turkish American Women's Assoc end of Ramadan Iftar dinner last night. So honored to be invited and loved getting to spend the evening with our sweet friends from Turkey, living right here in Austin. Got my dolmas on... all readying my tummy for Turkey in 3 weeks.
- I talked to Robin today, in the D.R. She is sick and homesick. Everyone out there who knows who I'm talking about, pray for her. She's fought a LOT of illness so far this semester and it makes for hard times down there. I am so glad I got the phone when she called. Lots of tears, prayers, and just needing company. Send her an email!!! PS-- I MISS HER!!!!!!
- Storytelling Group is rockin' my world. I am so glad that God is stretching me in this area of life... how to talk about Jesus to people who don't know Him in a way that is not limited to Scripture quoting and formal explanations!
- I am super curious about how Bush & Maris' day went today, meeting the birth mother of their soon-to-be baby boy. I keep blog-stalking waiting for the update.
- I tried "two-a-days" today at the gym... just getting sick of being unhealthy. But was so ravenous by dinner I ended up having sushi with white wine... but followed by 2 100 cal paks of cookies. I went over my Weight Watchers points. Buggar! Even with the "activity points" I earned from working out twice. Will this weight ever come off?
- Andy and I have a new TV sitcom stand in till our favorite shows come back: King of Queens. Laughing lots. Surprised we like it. Ok, love it.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
James 5: 16b-18 says, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again."
So, I was intrigued. I cross-referenced my way back to the story in the Old Testament and was enamoured with it as though it were a page turner. Here's my "storyteller's version" for you.
When King Ahab was king of Israel’s northern kingdom—which was full of God’s people, he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord than any of the other kings before him.” What did he do, you might ask? Well, God had given His people a command, “You shall have no other gods before Me” and “you shall not make any idol or likeness to worship or serve because I am a jealous God and I show will show mercy to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
But King Ahab didn’t keep these commands. Instead, he married Jezebel (who wasn’t one of God’s people) and began to worship Baal (Jezebel’s god). He built a temple and altar for Baal and he set up places of worship and sacrifice to this false god. He led all of God’s people into a state of rebellion from God, and led them to worship Baal as he instructed. He really distracted God’s people from worshipping Him.
So what does God do? Well, without much fanfare or announcement, the prophet Elijah bursts upon the scene and, per God’s instruction, predicts a severe drought will come during the reign of King Ahab. Elijah goes to the King and says, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives—the God whom I worship and serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years unless I give the word!”
The no rain thing had a two-fold purpose: 1) a consequence/punishment for disobedience to God (by worshipping other gods), and 2) it was an exercise in redirecting the Israelites’ heart and focus on God.
Elijah prayed for no rain… for so long… and when the people’s attention was assuredly gained, he goes out to meet King Ahab. When the King sees Elijah, he says, “So it’s you, is it?—Israel’s troublemaker?” But Elijah replies “I have made no trouble for Israel. You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshipped the images of Baal instead.”
Elijah says to the King, come, I challenge you to a test to determine once and for all which god is the real god. When all the people were assembled on Mt. Carmel, Elijah addresses the crowd saying, “How long are you going to waver between 2 opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is god, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. The sting of the truth shut them up for a moment.
Then Elijah sets the scene for the dual. There will be 2 sacrifices. One prepared for Baal, and one for God. Each group will call to their god asking him to consume his sacrifice. And the God who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God! So the 450 prophets of Baal called to their god all day, all the way until evening, but nothing happened. The sacrifice of the prophets of Baal did not produce a result.
Now it was Elijah’s turn (1 prophet to their 450). As he prepared the sacrifice, he even drenched it with water to make it even more difficult for a fire to start and he dug a trench around it and filled it with water too. Then Elijah prayed “O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, prove today that you are God and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this AT YOUR COMMAND. Oh Lord, answer me! Answer me SO THAT these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
In a fire-y display of power and majesty, God consumes the offering of Elijah’s sacrifice, proving to the on-looking nation that He alone is Lord God. Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull (the sacrifice), the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch.
When the people saw it, they fell on their faces and cried out, ‘The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” THAT is the result that God desired from Elijah’s prayers. God had wanted His people to return their affection to Him. Having done so, Elijah immediately went and fell on his face praying that God would now release the rains on Israel. And He did. Now that God had regained the focus of His people, He allowed the rains to return. And the people knew it was by His hand. The grass turned green and all the crops began to grow again. And the people worshipped God once again.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
But now to the really cool part... In just my first 30 days, I responded to inquiries from:
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Turks & Caicos
- and 12 different states in the U.S.
Ya! That's right!!!! I got to encourage new belivers, or recommitting believers, or people who were seeking about Jesus from ALL THOSE PLACES in just 30 days. I mean, how stinkin' cool is that!?!?!? (you set up how many emails you get a week, so you could get fewer if you don't have as much time).
Bottom line, you all should sign up to do this. It is such a joy for me to get to do this everyday. Whenever Andy comes home for the night, I am always jumping to tell him-- "guess where I got an email from TODAY!?!?" It puts me in the best mood. PLEASE SIGN UP... you will love it!
WANNA SIGN UP TO DO THIS TOO (or learn more about it)? Click here!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Anywho, I just finished my latest article on my Ordinary People blog and its about Jamie. She and Aaron are bleeding hearts for the country of Haiti and would love to tell you why you should care about Haiti too. If you haven't found their blogs, yet-- check them out (Jamie and Aaron). Or you can go to my Ordinary peep blog and read more about her.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Today, my good friend Toni and I sat down to watch a documentary we had Netflix'd called "BEYOND BELIEF". We found the website for this documentary while we were training a group of 10 women to go to Egypt this past spring and made mental notes to rent it when it came out on DVD. It arrived in my mailbox last week, and we set up a date-day to watch it together. I woke up this morning, turned on the news while I brewed coffee, and realized our date-day was TODAY- the anniversary of 9-11. And the documentary is about two 9-11 widows and what they did in their grief to reach out to the widows of Afghanistan, where our troops were sent in retaliation from the Sept 11th attacks.
The Netflix package reads: "Two strangers, Patti Quigley and Susan Retik, formed a common bond in their grief when both lost their husbands on Sept 11, 2001. This documentary chronicles what they did with that unimaginable loss, traveling to Afghanistan to meet women there also widowed by violence. Director Beth Murphy follows Quigley and Retik as they discover that although they are worlds apart, they share a kinship with the Middle Eastern counterparts."
The two women started a non-profit organization that helps provide grants to organizations that work with widows in Afghanistan. They train them in skills that help them provide for their families, give them micro-loans, and check-in on them after they've completed the programs. These two women started "Beyond the 11th" with one fundraising bike ride from Ground Zero back to Boston where they lived with their families on the anniversary of 9-11 in 2004. It took 3 days, but they made it back and raised $140,000 to give to Afghan widows. Then in 2006, they travelled to Afghanistan to see the faces and hear the stories of the widows they had compassion to help. After meeting these desperate women across the world, they vowed to return home and keep raising money to help provide a means for these ladies to press on despite the challenges and horrific circumstances under which they live.
Rent this film on Netflix... Go to the Beyond the 11th website and read more about their stories... Donate to help provide food, care, education, and aid to the widows of Afghanistan.
http://www.principlepictures.com/beyondbelief/ (the documentary's website)http://www.beyondthe11th.org/ (the non-profit they started to bring relief to Afghan widows).
Sunday, September 7, 2008
My heart for the Ordinary People - Extraordinary God website is to share the stories people I know personally, or have a close degree of separation from, who God is using to do His work... the point is, God can (and does) use anyone who is surrendered to His will. You don't have to be a super-star Christian, a high-ranking influencer, or even a paid church-staffer. The only requirement is you have to be a follower of Jesus, sold out for His glory. God loves to use ordinary, normal people because it is through the weak that He shames the strong. Read these stories and BE INSPIRED to fulfill His unique call on YOUR LIFE. No believer is exempt from an amazing call to serve and love as Christ's ambassador. Believe He can use YOU...
If you have missed some of my past articles on that websites, here's a short list that you can click on, depending on your interests...
- Today's post: KATIE-- Middle Eastern Baby Catcher (newlywed and new parent, Katie, heads to the Middle East to be Christ's light to delivering mothers)
- CARA-- A Broken Heart for the Local Community (a video testimony of her work at the Hope Community Outreach Program)
- HILARY-- Teaching Strangers in a Foreign Land (she's an adult ESL teacher in Austin welcoming internationals from around the globe)
- JEN-- Side-splitting Voice of Our Generation (Christian author and speaker living in Austin who's calling women to action for Jesus)
- WAHIDAH-- A Matchless Ministry to the Handicapped (An Arab woman who opened a daycare facility for mentally and physically handicapped children in North Africa)
- CAROLINE--India's Orphan Ambassador (local Austin-ite turned non-profit hero who's goal is to care for all the orphans in India, one at a time)
- ROBIN-- Answering His Call One Day at a Time (an Austin 20-something living in the Dominican Republic working for an educational development program for Hatian immigrants in the D.R.)
- ABRAR-- Inspiring Me to Expand My Ministry (an Arab woman living in North Africa that does evangelism ministry on Satellite TV yet still spends her days in the slums of her city reaching out to poor women)
- AMOS-- Just Your Average Guy (a look into how Amos' story, from the Bible, shows us that God uses unsuspecting people to accomplish His purposes... the conception of this whole website's vision)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The more I prayed about how to do this, God kept encouraging me not to go it alone. I sensed that this was a growing theme in some of the women's lives that I know. For us to set out to figure this out together would be even more fruitful. So tonight, our little Storytelling Experiment began. There are seven of us that are gonna meet every week for the next several months to begin figuring out this concept together. Every week we will each learn a new Bible story, practice telling it during our group time, then go out and and share it with someone outside the group each week... all with the goal of firming up this skill so that we will have an entire repertoire of stories ready to go when an opportunity presents itself in everday conversation.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
We walked Mt. Bonnell, took pictures with the river backdrop, then pictures with the city skyline backdrop,
then pictures with the steep stairs you climb in the backdrop. Next stop, we drove to UT to show her the Tower and the stadium.