Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What are you hanging on to?

Last night I had a dream about going water skiing. Now I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. Slalom by 12, barefoot by 16. I was also a ski instructor for a Christian Camp. I love it.

This dream was weird because we spent so much time figuring out what was wrong with the rope. Apparently, it was broken. We had gone out on the lake with a broken rope! We ended up on the other side of the lake still trying to fix this darn rope.

The other strange thing about this ski trip was that I did not know these people I was with from Adam. They were two older, fairly heavy-set women. Maybe one of them was a man. It really wasn't that important for me in the dream. All I knew is that I didn't know them, but they were trustworthy people.

Well, I ended up working on this rope for hours and hours. It was something about the handle. I couldn't get one side right. I kept trying and trying, but it just wouldn't work. By this time we were almost to the bridge (you obviously know where that is if you know my dream). I kept cutting the rope shorter and shorter just committing to start over so that it would be right.

I finally got it to where I wanted it. It worked! So we headed for the boat. (Somehow we had gotten on shore at this pig farm to fix the rope). When I looked at the rope however, it was way too short! I couldn't ski behind this! Great! But, I decided to try anyway...then I woke up.

DREAMS!!! Can't make sense of them sometimes.

As I was washing dishes this morning...the interpretation came to me. Here it is. Who is taking you for a ride? What are you going to hang on to? Just trust the rope and stop trying to fix it!

Here is what I make of it. The ride is toward God. Jesus is the rope! I need to stop tinkering with the rope, which is hindering my riding toward God. The people taking me on the ride are trustworthy people who know the way. They have been there before me.

Simple. Easy. So, do it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More Rantings on Silence

Well, I am still limiting my talking. While I could probably speak double bass right now, it is better for recovery that I still not talk. This is hard! But, I am still learning from this little challenge.

When you talk with someone in a soft voice, they calm down! It seems like it is relaxing to them or something. People I talk to with my voice like this automatically begin whispering themselves or at least talking softer. It is funny to watch.

Their whole demeanor seems to change as they seem more patient and receptive to what I am saying. It is like this person to whom I am talking actually stops in their tracks to listen. A few have even forgotten what they were talking about because they were trying to hear me.

The lesson for me is to talk softer on a regular basis. People might start listening to me more. Anyone can learn from this, especially if they regularly find themselves in intense-filled, argumentative situations. Begin talking softer and watch patience and understanding creap into the conversation.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Laryngitis musings

I lost my voice on Sunday night! It still is not back as I write. It is different not being able to talk. I really do talk a lot more than I would have guessed.

Thinking about this for a day now, I have learned a few things. Among them is this: I don't have to raise my voice for Kayla to understand what I am saying. In fact, I almost don't have to talk. She understands my body language a ton! Hand motions. Looks on my face. Raising of the eyebrows. Standing up. All of this communicates a ton.

I have realized that I need to rely less on my voice and more on my actions. They really do speak louder!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


What does it mean to submit? Is submission something that we should practice on a regular basis? If someone submits to someone else, does it mean that this person is weak? Or is it a sign of strength? How does submission line up with the message of the gospel? Can someone be led to submission? Under what conditions? Where does trust in the one to which we submit come into play?

I ask these questions because I wrestle with asking students to practice the discipline of submission.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dentyne Fire Challenge Questions

I have started something that I find a little challenging.

One of my professors in graduate school would start off his class with something he called the "Hershey Challenge Question." Being a greek class, it typically dealed with some nuance of the text we were reading that week. It was never an incredibly easy question, but if we put time into preparation for the class we would have some clue as to the answer. Whoever got the answer he gave a Hershey bar.

I decided to start doing this on Wednesday and Thursday nights. While I don't have Hershey bars, I do have a bunch of gum to give away. Thus, I am calling it the "Dentyne Fire/Ice Challenge Question." I think it is a fun way to challenge students with questions.

The challenge for me is to come up with good challenge questions. Do I tell the students the topic a week before and ask something in line with what we are discussing? Do I just do random biblical knowledge? Do I ask questions on what was said in church?

I'm leaning toward something dealing with the class that is about to be taught, but we will see how it develops.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Hamburger Lesson on Blessing Others

Yesterday we had our weekly ministers lunch. We went to a fairly normal place, McKensie's, and had a stinkin awesome hamburger! Something happened to make me remember that I am thankful for life.

We ordered our burgers as normal and went to the table with beans and our drink waiting for the order. As we left, there was a group of correctional officers were standing around waiting for their burgers. They were very vocal about how long it was taking to fill their orders. One was laying into the new girl at the front about how she was filling the orders. Apparently, they were watching her take the orders. She waited til she had 4 or 5 orders before giving them to the back. The were groaning and moaning until their food came out.

It was really annoying to me. I couldn't help but think about their conversations back at work. "Can you believe how long they took! This girl didn't have a clue! This place is horrible! I'm never going back there again!" I thought about how sad that is. Really great hamburgers forgotten and supposedly "ruined" by not getting selfish expectations of fast service met.

What happened was a really big phone-in order came in. This just put them a little behind. No big deal...understandable, in fact. Nothing to get upset about. I wish I could have told the one vocal lady about.

This morning I woke up with a little sore throat. I also feel a little weak. I hope I am not coming down with something. I will take something when I go home for lunch.

I could complain about it all day, sucking everyone else into my OWN world of self pity. Putting myself in anothers' position (a good practice for everyone), I would not want someone to go on and on about how bad their situation is. I would not want to hear little groans here or little groans there. "I wish I could talk better." "I wish I would feel better." "Look at me" "Look at me." I can't stand being around this, so why would I want to put others through this?

Let's accept our situation and bear it quietly. In doing this we bless others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Friday Retreat Thoughts

I really enjoyed the retreat this last weekend. It was about an hour northeast of Huntsville, so not too far. The place was really pretty. I loved the scenery.

There were only 17 students who came, but that was a good number. We started out on Friday night with ice breaker stuff, which turned out to be incredibly funny! Courtney did a great job getting all those together for us. What stuck out to me that night was our prayer at the very end. We circled up and held hands. If someone wanted to pray out loud, they could. If they didn't, they would squeeze the next person's hand. I invited the women of our group to pray and was amazed at who was moved to offer prayers! Praise the Lord! Our prayer lasted about 20 minutes and I was encouraged by every word.

As we were unpacking, Tanya came and asked me where all the refrigerator stuff was. I just stood there knowing that I didn't get it. We brainstormed for a bit and decided that it would be less expensive to drive back to get them rather than buy all of them from the local store. With everything ending about 9:30pm, I knew it was going to be a late night for me.

While many students asked to go with me, I told them I would go alone. This ended up being exactly what I needed! I really had not spent good time praying for the weekend. Preparing for lessons and getting all our plans set consumed my time and energy. So, because our vans don't have working AC, I had the windows rolled down as I made the trip back to Huntsville.

I prayed for each student by name. I prayed for their life. I prayed that God speak to them this weekend. I prayed that he encourage them. I prayed that he change them. So I brought each student before the throne of grace as I traveled the dark roads. It really renewed me and got me on track for the weekend.

God heard my prayers too! This year was not full of cliques and people who gravitated to their own group of friends. Everyone was mingling with everyone else. It really was amazing to witness. We actually looked like a group of people dedicated to glorifying God and removing all hindrances.

I praise you, Father, for that time of prayer on Friday night. Thank you for letting me forget the fridge stuff. You use so many things in such strange ways. Open my eyes to see more of this in my life.

Fall Retreat

We just got back from our fall retreat. We went to the same place we went last year, Pineywoods. It was a great retreat! God was glorified and we were able to really get focused on waking up to the life that we have in Jesus. I will probably post more about it later on today.

I wanted to say that I have that same feeling that I had in college after a full week of 5 or 6 major exams. It is over! Praise the Lord. I was able to teach three different sessions on Saturday and then a brief lesson on Sunday morning. It was good, but I am glad it is finished. May God continue to give us energy to glorify him in our life.

Receiving my blog via email

Well, I think you can now receive my blog posts via email. Let me know if you are having a problem with it. I will just add you to the list. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Praying New

I must tell you that this last week has been a great journey in prayer for me. With the help of Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline I have discovered praying with imagination. Let me explain.

He uses the example of praying for a husband and wife and their marriage. The husband has been having an affair for some time and it has become public. You commit, he says, to pray for their marriage over the next thirty days. Using you imagination to pray for their marriage. You imagine that every time the husband sees the woman with whom he has had an affair he is filled with disgust. You imagine that when he sees his wife he is overwhelmed with love for her and wants to do everything he can to mend their broken relationship. You see them able to laugh together again, you hear them discussing hurt feelings, you imagine the pain of the affair being taken away.

I decided to try this new type of praying out. Kayla has been a pain in the rear, Tanya has had enough, and when I get home I feel the stress in both Kayla and Tanya. It has not been good. In fact, it had grown to a point that I was feeding off it too. Late one night I prayed with my imagination. I saw Kayla waking up without screaming while beating on the door she can't open yet. She was filled with contentment and ready to discover another part of her world. I felt the joy that Tanya felt when she would see Kayla in the morning when she got up. I saw the smile on her face. I imagined that breakfast and lunch were pleasant without whining and asking for "appi" (apples) all the time. I went through the whole day imagining what I prayed for. It was actually hard to do. And it took a long time to do it! But, when I came home asking how the day was, I knew the answer already because I had already felt it and imagined it before it happened. It is unlike anything I had experienced before.

When I told Tanya how I had prayed, she was encouraged. I told her that I was happy to work with God that day to make the day go so well. That is how I look at it. I am working together with God through my imagination to bless others. Wow! That is what it means to be "God's fellow workers" (1 Cor 3:9). I can't wait to tell other stories of how God and I have worked together to bless others. Until then...may God give us wisdom.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

God Through Us

I send this in a recent email to our group:

"God led me to challenge all of us to empty our wallets for a little girl with cancer, Melissa, and her family. Her dad has passed away some time ago leaving her mom to take care of 3 kids. Recently, Melissa's mom quit her job to be at home with her, and paying bills was not a concern for her. Without any government support because of their undocumented status in the U.S. she faithfully said, "God will provide."

And that he did through us. On one Thursday night God offered this family (through us) $500.11 plus a gas card with just over $5 on it. When I got the final number, I almost couldn't believe how good our God is.

When I gave the money to the social worker last Friday, she was brought to tears. She couldn't believe it! God truly is an amazing God. And he is working through you to do amazing things!"
I got to thinking about when this happened. Thursday night is the night in town when the abnormal college student goes out to get plastered. They will go to wherever and take in a substance that causes them to lose control of their body, spending a sum of money to engage in this abusive activity. In start contrast to this, we were spending that night being controlled by the Spirit of God. We willingly submitted to the power of God to reach into our wallets to offer (not spend) money to God.

Think about the joy that both types of students experience from these two activities. One's joy is completely gone, a long forgotten thing of the past. Being overtaken by drugs, they might have done something stupid that lands them into a place that produces anything but joy.

The other's joy continues as they point to the God who did all this. They have something inside them that sustains them to pour their lives into others. The joy is stirred to an equal state every time they remember what God did through open wallets.

When we chose to let God work through us, we make a choice that lasts much longer than any other choice we can while here on earth. Choose to be used today.