Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloweens of My Past

A few weeks ago, I was thumbing through a few old childhood pictures and stumbed across my Halloween costume from 3rd grade. I wanted to be a BELLY DANCER, so my mom made this costume. I remember wearing it to school and freezing cuz it was late October (obviously) and having to wear a white cardigan sweater half the day-- which really disappointed me cuz it ruined the whole outfit (again, obviously).

Looking back at this now, I find it extremely interesting that even back then, I had a fascination with far-away cultures and women from abroad. Who would have thought that 22 years later, I would be studying and spending time working in some of these very places I used to dream about. Huh?!

  • But while we are strolling down Halloween memory lane, I thought I would brag about some of my other costume choices over the years.

In 4th grade, I dressed up like a giant PANCAKE. I wish I still had a photo of it. My mom and I made it with 2 giant pieces of foam cut into circles the size of me and yellow & brown spray paint bought at Home Depot. We painted the foam in the park across the street from my house. trying to acheive the perfect brown-yellow mixture that said "Golden Brown Pancake with Butter & Syrup"-- which was tricky.

In 8th grade, I dressed up as a PICNIC TABLE (I have no idea where that idea came from). I bought some red & white ginham checked fabric, stretched it over my shoulders with a broomstick balancing it squarely. Then I stapled plastic forks/knives/spoons, paper plates, and napkins in a 6 piece place setting on it. Topped the whole thing off with giant rubber ants that I also glued to the fabric. I won the middle school costume award that year-- as well I should have! However, sitting in class was a challenge.

My sophomore year at UT, was the same year that the KA fraternity got busted by a local news station for duct taping a drunk pledge to tree in the front yard of the frat house to keep him from stumbling around and hurting himself. So, gutsy Anna showed up to the KA house Halloween night dressed as "THE DRUNK PLEDGE DUCT TAPED TO A TREE". I copied his whole outit from the news-- jeans tucked haphazardly into rubber work boots, a confederate flag Tshirt (of course), and a bright orange ski mask/hunting mask, with duct tape wrapped around my mid-drift, carrying a bottle of Jim Beam. When I showed up at the house, the joke did not go over well when they first saw me, but when I ripped off my mask to reveal "its just Anna", I somehow got away with it and ended up being asked to be in 1,000 pictures that night with people who thought it was hilarious.

Finally, my most recent award winner was MARGE SIMPSON from "The Simpsons." I think I was 25?? Anyway, I made a bright green tube-dress out of random fabric from the thrift store, wore bright red high heels, donned an eye-catching blue bee hive wig (I already owned for some unknown reason), made a red necklace out of sparkly red puff balls from the craft store, and topped the whole thing off with 2 inch wide, flat google-eyes glued tothe lenses of John Lennon-style glasses. My cousin and I were celebrating Halloween that night at a bar in Houston and won the best dressed "couple" award... he went as a fireman (the year of 9-11).

Those are by far the most memorable... will I ever dress up again??? How could I possibly top these, so probably not.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Last night I finished reading Khaled Hosseini's latest novel (although its now been out a while)-- "A Thousand Splendid Suns". It was beautiful and tragic. Spanning over 30 years, the book follows the stories of two women living the painful, war-ravaged, daily life of Afghanistan.
Experiencing such things as loss of family, loss of friends, loss of love, loss of country... births, deaths, war, regime change, hunger, abuse, poverty, oppression, freedom, and lastly, refugee life... the whole picutre is painted of what this upended country has been through. To read the "official blurb" describing the book, click here for Barnes & Noble's notes:

I highly recommend picking it up. Separately, in the closing remarks, author Hosseini encourages readers to click on the following link: to check out the United Nations work to help with the growing needs and circumstances faced by the world's refugees. Check it out.

Hosseini's first book "The Kite Runner" was also a page-turner. He is a very gifted writer and paints an honest, even though tough, picutre of life in his home-country. This book was made into a movie that came out last year. It created quite a stir because of the rape scene of a young boy. So much so that the actual Afghan actors who played the boys had to be moved out of their country to escape cultural threats. Check out this article that mentioned their situation...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Road to Turkey (A Journey Delayed)

Today was our departure for Turkey. But here I sit in Dominican Joe’s sipping my favorite vanilla latte and checking emails. I haven’t written much about our trip to Turkey on this blog because, well, there’s not a whole lot I can say (so excuse me if even this post seems incomplete in explanation). Bottom line, Andy & the band (Rufus McGovern) were going over to play some concerts in clubs (or as a Turk would call ‘em, “Rock Bars”) and we made the decision to post-pone our trip after Joe (the guitar player) was in an accident Sunday that left him with a broken arm.

We’ve been working with our Turkish friends, planning this trip since spring. So today is bittersweet, knowing that the plane we were to be on is now flying en route to the land that we have been longing for. The verse I have been clinging to from the Bible is Proverbs 16:9—“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

There has been a lot of turmoil surrounding this trip for the last 6 weeks and I feel I have inappropriately questioned God through it. I repeatedly wondered, “Is this God trying tell us to delay our trip for our own good, or is this the enemy trying to prevent us from going?” However, that mindset negates that God is ALWAYS in control. Today, I can tell God I am sorry for questioning Him, and ask Him to refuel my trust in His plans for my life.

If we had just been experiencing these trials in general daily life (without a trip on the horizon), I wonder if I would have been filtering them the same way? I think the fact that we had a decision to make—“to go or to not go?”—really muddied my interpretation of the attacks we were experiencing. Because I kept wondering, “should THIS affect our decision?” or “is THIS supposed to change our plans?” etc, I was forgetting to FIRST apply the truth that I believe as a follower of Christ, which is: God is the author of all things.

As Michelle gently reminded me on Sunday, “it would be ‘mystical’ to wonder who was causing these things to happen, and followers of Jesus are not mystics—we believe He is always, sovereignly, in control.” Her comment helped to redirect my affections to God. Instead of wondering, “By what hand are these afflictions?” and having that influence our choices, our doubt, and even our joy, I should have grounded myself in who I know God to be.

I went to the Desiring God Regional Conference this weekend, on the subject of JOB: When the Righteous Suffer. A few things that stood out to me, and NOW feel I could apply to these current circumstances, are this:

1) Even if God allows Satan to test us, the enemy is ultimately only the middle man (for lack of a better description). I had always read the book of Job thinking it was the enemy afflicting Job with God’s permission. But even JOB, himself, viewed GOD as the author of his trials.

2) Suffering: the devil uses it to accomplish his goal of ruining your faith, and God uses it to accomplish His goal of strengthening your faith.

3) “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord and not receive adversity?” (from Job 2:10)

4) Spoken from God’s perspective: I don’t use my power capriciously—I have a purpose in all that I do.

5) God is doing 10,000+ things in your life at one time—not just one or two. Even though you may only see one or two or ten at a time, He’s still doing 10,000+. When you are suffering, consider that you only have a glimpse of God’s big picture for you.

My friend, Fabs, also sent me an encouraging email reminding me of good truths in the midst of things that are hard to understand: “I’m sure you feel like all your plans are slipping away… but no plan has been lost. God is on His throne and all plans are just being executed by a hand too mighty to be seen and too kind to let us make our own plans… God has prepared good works for us to do, and He will be faithful to see that we do them to the best of our ability…” I can only add: IN HIS TIMING He will work in us to accomplish the plans He’s set aside for us to accomplish. Not my timing.

For now, we are left to increase our affections for Turkey from right here in Austin.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ordinary People Post

New updated post on my other blog... a testimony of Jonathan & Lauren, partners at Stone who are preparing to move to Sudan in 2009. Picutred to the right is Jonathan, helping to baptize a new believer in Sudan on one of his trips there.

Click HERE to read the blog.

Andy's Guitar Player, Joe

Many of you might have already heard, but I wanted to record the info here for those who've missed the news in the last 24 hrs. Yesterday, Joe, Andy's guitar player, was driving home for a quick nap between the AM & PM services. He was exiting off 183 at I-35 when some sun glared in his eyes, he squinted, (must have swerved a little) refocused, thought he was gonna hit a fire hydrant, swerved to compensate, and slammed head-on into one of those tall, giant cement pillars that hold up the freeway fly-over. The wreck was bad. He is truly lucky he had on his seat belt (cuz if he'd flown through a windsheild he would have connected at 50 mph with that cement pillar). The ambulance took him to the hospital and he broke his arm pretty bad.

He officially broke his radius with a jagged fracture. They tried to reset the bone last night so his arm could at least be put in a sling until surgery. They will have to put screws and plates in his arm. Next, he dislocated (at least) a bunch of the little bones in his wrist/hand. When they reset the bones, some went back into place, but there is still some displacement b/c of swelling. And some of those little wrist bones were chipped (shattered would be too harsh to say, but definately chipped). He can move his fingers and feel them-- which is EXCELLENT NEWS! Tomorrow (Tues) at 1:30, he has a consult/dr appt with the surgeon and they will schedule his surgery probably for Wed now.

The picture above, is Joe's arm in the ER... the part under the orange is his deformed hand, the S-shaped thing in the middle is his forearm, and his real elbow is under the sheet. YU-UCK!

His car is officially totaled, according to the wrecker. And his insurance company has found a loop-hole to deny him a claim and are not paying for any of it. He had a car note, so that stinks. But after seeing the car in person, it truly is a miracle he survived, so the whole insurance/car note dilemma seem small in comparison.

Everyone please keep him in your prayers. Joe makes his living by playing guitar. So now, he's out of work, fixing to have surgery, and will have a long road of rehab. He will need his church family to come around him with love, prayer, and support.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Strange Sounds of My Neighborhood

I decided to work outside today so I could enjoy the gazebo while I punched away at my computer. And boy am I noticing all the bizarre sounds that circle the air in my neck of the woods. Here is just a sampling (remember, we live in South Austin which is queen of weird).

  1. The lady who lives in the back corner of our property is a past life spiritualist, and I am pretty sure she is chanting a ceremonial spell right now. Its this weird trilling, singing, chanting noise coming from the back corner. When we first met her after moving in, she gave us her card which declared her divining services offered for a fee.
  2. The family that lives just out our side door raises peacocks and today, they are quite chatty... peacock noises are pretty freaky if you don't know what they are. Its a strange combo of a honk, a squeal, and a scream. In fact, several homes in our neighborhood have peacocks (don't ask me why this is a trend in South Austin), so when mating season comes along, Lord have mercy-- there is some serious squawking as they try to find each other!
  3. We are one block away from the train that cuts through downtown Austin, so as I have sat out here for the past hour, I get serenading with the warning honks of the incoming trains.
  4. It just started raining and I am sitting under our tin-roofed gazebo... I love the pitter-pat of rain on a tin roof.
  5. The neighbor just down the hill from our driveway is unemployed and sits in his driveway all day and listens to talk radio turned up real loud (not Conservative Talk Radio, just radio stations that talk) and drinks beer... from around 11am till dark. Everyday. For the 4 years we've lived here.
  6. There is a day care about a block away, but up the hill, so you can always hear the gleeful noises of children playing trickle down towards us.
  7. Our neighbor on another side has converted his yard to, essentially, a junk drop for old cars and motorcycles. Right now, he's working on one of the engines so every few minutes he revs up the motor to check the progress.
  8. And lastly, it wouldn't be South Austin without the faint noise of music playing somewhere... In the condos that butt up to the far back corner of our lot, there is a musician practicing guitar in his amp. They all have to believe no one can hear them if they're in their own home, but we all know its true. No complaints from us though, becuase tomorrow it will be Andy's turn to add to the mixture of noise in our neighborhood.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Classic Dog Shots

French Friends

This week our French, church-planting friends, Nicole & Vincent were visiting from Europe. She's a Scot and he is a native Frenchman and they are working in the South of France. They've been church planters for about 10 years (the first 8 in Scotland, the last 2 in France). They are precious to us and we love every time they get to visit! These are a few snapshots from their week here. We got to celebrate their new baby (born after 8 years of trying with no sucess), they got to celebrate my birthday, and we all got to celebrate Robin, who surprised us all with a return trip to the states for the week (sadly due to being sick, but we will gladly take her any way we get her!).
This is the girls, hanging on the gazebo till the "wee" hours last night (Nicky's favorite Scottish word). Lady tried to get in the shot, demanding she too is one of the girls!
Robin loved getting to play with little Etienne (French for Stephen and named after the first martyr for Christ in Acts 7). He is 8 months old and mobile beyond his years!
Vincent loves our dogs, and to hear him speak to them in his French accent is hilarious! This is him trying to convince Lady to sit instead of lick his face... "leh-deeeeeee... seet!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Year And A Day

A family portrait for my birthday yesterday.
Everytime we tried to self-timer the dogs would jump on us...
Only ONE obedient dog pic... the only problem is their backs are to the camera.
Just mom and the kids on her birthday.
Andy and I out at dinner celebrating my big 3-2!


I am wondering how many of you out there (who go to the Stone) have been tempted to go out and have a Chicken Biscuit yet this week? With Matt talking about it on Sunday AND putting a picture on the screen, we were all were doomed...

Andy woke me up this morning at 10:15 saying, "wanna go get breakfast with me?" (FYI, I sleept 19x later than Andy each day and he's always having to peel me out of bed after he's been working for several hours already and is ready for a break.) I sleepily replied, "okay, where?" To which he says, "I don't know...hmm...what about Chick-fil-a?" Ahhh-haaa! Subliminal advertising DOES work!

Long story short, Chick-fil-a serves up another satisfied customer. Thanks Matt-- my diet got a hiatus this morning!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Feeling Too Lame for My Musician Husband

Today, Andy put iTunes on my computer and sync'd my baby ipod. He gave me an ipod last year for my birthday in an effort to get me up to date with this generation. I loaded a bunch of old sermon CDs I had in my bookcase onto it and that was it. But today, he wanted to teach me how to input music CDs in case I decide I want to have some of my old CDs on this fancy ipod thingy.

Now, as if I wasn't already feeling pretty uncool because I am married to a musician and never listen to music... now I was outed that I only had sermons on my ipod... and thirdly-- and this is the worst part-- I flipped through my old (pre-wedding) CD wallet to find a CD I wanted to import during Andy's teaching demo for me and I was flat out imbarrassed! Mind you, I have never been a big music person. Always perferred movies to music, but for your laughing-pleasure, here is a sampling:
  • The Wedding Singer, soundtrack
  • Dido, no angel (not sure I've even listened to it)
  • Jack Ingram, jack ingram
  • 10,000 Maniacs, our time in eden
  • Pretty Woman, soundtrack
  • Madonna, ray of light
  • The Wedding Singer, additional soundtrack
  • Dirty Dancing, soundtrack
  • Will Smith, willenium (funny side-story about karoke-ing this in front of Andy's parents the second time I'd ever met them... a story for another day)
  • Footloose, soundtrack
  • Singles, soundtrack
  • Jerry Maguire, soundtrack
  • Titanic, soundtrack
  • The Bodyguard, soundtrack
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, californication
  • Some Kind of Wonderful, soundtrack (yes, the movie from 1987)
  • My Best Friend's Wedding, soundtrack

Are you all laughing yet? Cuz, you should be. Let me continue...

  • Austin Powers, soundtrack
  • Forest Gump, soundtrack
  • Charlies Angels, soundtrack
  • Natalie Merchant, tigerlily
  • Moulin Rouge, soundtrack
  • GoGo's, greatest hits
  • Field of Dreams, soundtrack
  • The Living Sea, (IMAX) soundtrack
  • Dixie Chicks, fly
  • INXS, welcome to wherever you are (font is old school dos format)
  • The Cranberries, everybody else is doing it (i cannot even tell you one song on this album)
  • Elton John, CD single of "The One"
  • Pretenders, last of the independants (I think I saw them on SNL one time)
  • Dave Matthews, under the table dreaming
  • Rusted Root, when i woke (I am not even sure I remember who they are)
  • Honeymoon in Vegas, soundtrack
  • Reality Bites, soundtrack
  • Dazed and Confused, soundtrack

There. I am a musical D-O-R-K. Just for your laughing pleasure.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TURKEY Here We Come!




I just bought the band tickets to go to Turkey. We leave three weeks from today. I am feeling so thrilled inside (although I might could put partial blame on the coffee I had an hour ago-- the first in a week). I am realizing what a weight that was putting on me. I have been feeling so burdened and heavy about the Turkey details coming together, and now that a MAJOR part of the puzzle is complete, I feel a huge sense of relief!

Plus, I budgeted for $13,000 for all our tickets (translator's too) and came out spending just $8,422. Talk about a major break since we are behind in our fundraising!!! That is H-U-G-E savings! We still have a lot more money to raise, but I am trusting God to provide.

I am just simply in the best mood now and wanted to share with my friends...

(FYI, I almost took a picture of my e-ticket to add some visual element to this post, but figured that was overboard, even though I am trying to adhere to Angela's blog rules of "always try to include a visual with your text cuz ONLY words can be boring".)