Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Dress-Up Days

I talked with a friend recently who has decided to not let her kids participate in trick-or-treating festivities this year.  She said she had been doing a lot of research on Halloween and its history, and her and her husband felt strongly that they did not want to encourage their children to be a part of it.  She shared some of her research with her older child, but the younger one is still upset that they will not be able to go door-to-door.  Instead, she told me that they told their kids that they could still dress up, but that they were going to have a special candy festival at their own home.  They've decided to do a candy hunt, similar to an Easter egg hunt!

I highly respect my friend for her and her husband's decision to take responsibility for what their children participate in, and to educate them on why they have made their decision.  She is not trying to shelter them from the realities of life, but to present the realities in a safe environment for them to be able to fully understand them, and to learn how to react responsibly to them. 

It has been fun at my church this past weekend, though, because it was the start of our 2011 Missions Convention.  Obviously I'm a big fan of Missions, so this is a very special week to me.

In the light of my friends' decision about Halloween festivities, I'd like to share another fun way to dress up: participate in my church's Missions Convention.  For the last 2 years, we have opened up the convention with incredible stories of how lives are being changed all over the world because of people who care to share God's love.  Our choir has taken the role of representing as many countries as we can within our own attendance.  We each choose a country, dress up for that country, and carry their flag through the church and onto the stage where it sits in a slot with all the other flags.  Talk about fanfare. 

Don't get me wrong, the purpose is not to put on a show.  The purpose is to express our excitement and joy in sharing God's love and being a part of changed lives all over the globe.  And the purpose is also to share that joy so others can know about it and be a part of it. 

One of the fun things we get to do is to dress up for our countries.  Below I've shared a picture of me and two of my friends.  In order, we represent Switzerland, Japan, and Germany.

If you're interested in the whole thing, wait a few days and the service will be posted here:

I hope you all have a wonderful October 31st - whether you decide to dress up or focus on other things!  Seek God's purpose for how you should remember this day, and please share if you have more great alternative Halloween ideas!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eduador: Flooding in the Rainforest

It has been a little while, and I'm looking forward to sharing some thoughts I've had in the past couple of weeks. 

One of the most incredible things I've seen in a while has been a video the Davalos' found and shared in their latest e-mail from Ecuador. 

While in the Jungle myself, I was mesmerized by the incredible Rio Napa at the Port of Misuahualli, Ecuador.  One day we took canoe rides down the river to see some of the river towns.  The water was nice.  It was smooth sailing.  On our way in at the end of the day, a rain storm was brewing and the sky was getting dark.  This is no surprise in the Rainforest, of course. 

A steady rain started about the time we tethered the canoes, and we climbed up the stairs from the beach to the river walkway (about 15 feet of steps), and walked back to our hotel, which was about 3 blocks from the river walkway.  We had dinner that night, I laid in a hammock under the tin roof and watched the rain and the stars behind them.  Another guy on our team was strumming on a guitar and it was probably one of the most memorable times I've had in a foreign country. 

We woke up the next morning, and there had been a steady rain all night long.  A walk down to the river showed that there was no more beach.  The stairs we had climbed up the day before were submerged.  The river had risen about 15 feet overnight.

How would you have felt?  Another 12 hours of solid rain, and the whole port would have had to find higher ground. It was quite humbling and awesome at the same time. 

Here are some notable times in the video below:

At 1:50, you will see a line of street lights.  These lights lined the river walkway.  As you can tell, the river has risen higher than it did for us when we were there.

At 3:30, you will see a pan down a street.  I am not sure, but this might have been the street our hotel was on.  The hotel was right across from a large open soccer/recreation stadium, which I believe might be on the right hand side of the screen.

At 5:50, this is the type of steady rain we had all night long when I was there.  Imagine that on a hard tin roof with no insulation.  Talk about a noisy night!  Still, I slept the best that night than I had in a long time!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Follow Up: America and Illicit Industry

This is a follow-up blog from my post on September 28th, 2011.

Dare I say I'm proud of American families?  Well, I'm certainly thankful to God for conviction He placed on the hearts of families that "play" together.  And yes, by "play", I mean "watch t.v.". 

The notice recently came out about NBC's TV show "The Playboy Club", being cut after just 3 episodes.  According to Reuters, the Parents Television Council stated, "We're pleased that NBC will no longer be airing a program so inherently linked to a pornographic brand that denigrates and sexualizes women".

Here's the full article from Reuters:  Parents Television Council Crows About 'Playboy Club' Cancellation

For the record, I'm no follower of the Parents Television Council, and so I don't promote their work in general.  I appreciate what they've stood for in this instance, though.

Here's the call from Parents Television Council to its followers regarding 'The Playboy Club': 
Stop NBC Airing [of] The Playboy Club

Most of television is driven by numbers, so we're told.  I wouldn't disagree.  But, I'm not naive enough to believe that God had no part in it.  I'm also not naive enough to believe that Satan is no longer king of the earth.  I am, however, gutsy enough to believe that people are still moved by the things that God cares about - whether they know this as the reason or not. 

Inside each of us is a place where God, alone, can fit.  And in this God-spot, there is a piece of His spirit infusing us with Him as we allow Him to do so.  It's a spirit-transfusion, and it's constant.  This is the place where the injustice of allowing degrading t.v. shows and abusive situations continue is questioned and is fired up.  This is  the place where, when we've located it within ourselves, we know that we can make decisions based on what we know to be true there. 

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There's a God-shaped hole in all of us
And its a void only He can fill

-Plumb, God-Shaped Hole 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning about Judgment

I have been reading Joyce Meyer’s book Battlefield of the Mind* for about a year.  In chapter 13, she talks about loving other people and how our judgment denies our love for them.  She recounted a story about how she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick during one of her later pregnancies, but that God reminded her of how she had judged another lady a few years before for the exact same condition.  Only, she was condemning the lady for a lack of self-discipline.  When Joyce realized this, she confessed that she had been wrong and was back to health in no time.  

It was just a page.

All it takes sometimes is a few words to remind us of our own deficiencies, doesn’t it?  

I was greatly moved by this passage, because it challenged me to think about my own past and times I’ve judged people, later struggling with the very same issue they were struggling with.  Needless to say, I was quickly reminded of how imperfect I am.  

I wouldn’t call myself someone who is quick to judge others, but it is obvious I can be, and I have been.  Seldom have I met a human being that is not quick to judge.  It’s not intentional, but it’s certainly evident. 

For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. Matthew 7:2

My prayer today, then, is this:
Lord, PLEASE make me aware of the times I start to judge someone!  Help me to remember that I do not ever see the big picture, and please warn me to stop before I complete the act.  I do not have the “luxury” of judging others since I am just as easily in the wrong.  Make me aware, every time, of your advice in Matthew 7, and give me grace to look past the situation and love the person no matter what.  Thank you for your reminders of how to better love others, and better serve you. 

Do you have a special reminder to help you make good decisions in these “judgment times”?  What advice can you give based on your experience that has helped you walk away from a judgmental situation?

*Meyer, Joyce. Battlefield of the mind: winning the battle in your mind. Faith Words Edition. Pgs 139-140. (c) 1995.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fruit in Ecuador

I am so so so very excited to share with you some pictures and updates on Ecuador.  In 2008, I had the opportunity to go with a team from Florida to a jungle in Ecuador.  We did several different things, but one thing I want to share a little bit about today was the construction work we did in the middle of the rain forest!  While we were there, we got up in the morning and spent about 4-5 hours working on the site, before the daily downpours came.  Some days we just waited for the rain to end so we could finish the project before we went home.  We did 3 main things in the jungle construction project:  we set the foundation and roof for a storage building, we built some footpaths, and we worked on setting the electrical outlets up in a building that already had cinder-block foundation in place. 

The tough thing about working in the jungle is this:  you have to do almost everything by hand.  Therefore, all concrete was mixed, transported, and laid by hand.  Hard work! Especially if you're not in that industry, like me.  :)

Here's a picture of half of the sand/dirt/river rock we used to make our concrete.  You can see some of the team in ponchos as it was a bit messy even before the rain came each day.


I can't tell you how thankful I was to have hard-working men on the trip with us!  Now, the ladies worked hard, but there's just something about having a hard-working man around. Things always go more quickly! 

Mixing concrete in the street...

And just to give a quick glimpse of our route to the storage building site from the concrete mixing site at the street...

And the completed project (which was just 4 chalkstrings in the shape of a foundation when we started!!)......

It is always exciting to see the fruit of what you've started: to see that you participated in something so much bigger and longer-impacting than yourself.  This trip was a huge deal for me, but I didn't have to go to Ecuador to make a difference.  I do what I can where I'm at to make a difference.  I would challenge you to do so as well.

One last thing I'd like to share is a video from the missionaries we worked with, Roberto and Charmai Davalos.  Since our trip in 2008, they've completed the original school building and are building another facility that will assist in the enlarging of their jungle school.  It's neat to see the same bridges and roads I drove and walked along in real-time motion.  I thought you might enjoy to see the faces that this project is impacting.  If you'd like to learn more about the work they're doing in the jungle, I'll include their website below the video.  Enjoy!! 

Website for It's About Jungle Kids:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

When a bad day comes....

When you are having a bad day, read this:

O Lord my God, I cried to your for help, and you restored my health.  You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.  Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise His holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!  Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:2-5

Take heart in new beginnings, and try to remember that what is bad now is only temporary.  As horrible as it is, it will not last.

And let me know, so I can be a friend to you today.