Monday, May 30, 2011

Hagg Lake Saturday

Memorial Day weekend this year was one for the books. We spent the weekend with some extended family, though by the end of the three days they became good friends. I'll write more about the whole weekend later, but Saturday afternoon pictures couldn't wait. We spent that afternoon about a half an hour from where we were camping, in the canoe, with no agenda. It was a wonderful few hours and though only one fish was caught, and jumped off the hook before it got in the boat, we all left satisfied.

The boats, all piled up on the shore.

Our trusty canoe, resting at the dock.

It was so gorgeous there. And so calm.

The view from the car, canoe loaded on top.

Tristan and Landon, kicking back on the lake.

The warm blanket was a little more appealing than fishing in the cold wind.

If you want more info on Hagg Lake, you can click here for the website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Without "However"

The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart... King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharoah's daughter - Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 1 Kings 10.24 & 11.1-3
Solomon had everything, literally. The power of his rule was wide, the wealth of his kingdom was unmatched, and the wisdom in hi heart was supernaturally bestowed. He had the ear of the entire world, and was vastly respected. And yet there is a 'however' in his story. There is a 'but.' Solomon was led astray by his lust for women and ultimately lost everything. God had given him all that he had wanted, including infinite wisdom, but because he would not let go (literally and figuratively) of these foreign women, he lost it all. He would not let go of the company he was keeping, he wouldn't let go of the unhealthy relationships. God removed his blessing because of Solomon's prostituted heart. Solomon traded communion with an infinite God for earthly pleasure. He traded intimacy with his Creator for immediate gratification. Its a huge tragedy, really...
And yet, isn't this a familiar story? People, on a daily basis, trade God given gifts for fleeting joys. They trade their marriages for quick kicks. They trade the health of their families for more hours on the job to accumulate more stuff. They trade intimacy with the One true God for earthly idols that will only prove false and devoid of lasting substance in the end. And these 'people' are us. These people are me, you, Christians. Its easy to think its a 'secular' problem, but the chasing and lusting and 'intermarrying' with earthly idols transcends ever walk of life and every cultural or social border. The packaging just looks different from person to person.
How do we ever expect to love on other people, to have healthy families and marriages, and to see lives restored if we have such a basic and foundational principal so messed up and out of focus? I heard in a conference recently, "You can only minister out of the overflow of your own life." This is glaringly true, but we have to look with clear eyes and the right perspective to adequately and truthfully evaluate this. Its not only important, its absolutely vital for the world.
Let me not be blinded by my idols any longer.
Let there not be a 'however' written into the story of my life.
Lord, please open my eyes. I don't want to 'hold on in love' to things that You have already called detestable and unacceptable. Forgive me for prostituting my heart and running after things besides You. Thank You for Your grace and love, but please help. I love You and don't want to be the same tomorrow. Grow me. Amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Such a Challenge, Such an Honor

At the end of Spring Break I began helping with the youth group at our church. My good friend was already a youth leader and she needed some help with a girls' all-nighter event. I said I would come and hang out, and honestly, had a load of fun. Sure, by 7 a.m. I was exhausted and so thankful to go home and sleep, but I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations, silliness, and fun we all had together. A week later I began helping as a 'youth leader,' a semi-official title that essentially means I get the great joy and challenge of mentoring, loving on, encouraging and offering advice to middle and high school aged students. This isn't brand new territory for me. Until the past couple of years, I had been helping with youth group in some capacity since I was 18 years old. Its offered tons of growth opportunities, tons of challenges and tons of joy. There have been moments of intense frustration, crying out to God that I'm not cut out for whatever was happening in the moment. But there have been moments of amazing celebration, as well, rejoicing with the students as they see the goodness of God demonstrated in their lives. I am not a parent, but it must be something like that: trying to do your best in that places you don't feel equipped or ready for, but also feeling overwhelming pride and joy as you witness success. I am challenged on a weekly basis by questions that are difficult, situations that seem out of control and lives that are too important to overlook. But I am also honored to have these students to pour into, as well. Its a heavy and light sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sisters and Brothers

I wouldn't trade any one of them...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In a Day

In the past day or so a lot has happened. Words have been spoken that have floored me, riveting me to attention, causing me to realize the beauty and pain that life often affords in unrelenting duality.
A patient:
He commented on the stiffness of the ER stretcher. Hitting my biggest pet peeve nerve of my workplace, I casually respond how I normally do: "At least we have stretchers. At least you don't have to sit on a concrete bench while you wait." I proceed to tell him about how in Gulu stretchers are only given to two kinds of patients: those going in for surgery and those who have died, and even then, the stretcher is literally a rolling metal table. No cushion. No hydraulic back release. He agrees, "Someone can always be in a worse situation than you." I ask him if he can stand, he says: "No, I'm a paraplegic. My legs don't work." I casually ask him what happened, as I notice the large scar on his back. He proceeds to tell me how some 40+ years ago he got in a bad car accident with his then wife and two friends. He is the only living survivor, and he has been paralyzed since. In that moment I wanted to take back all I had said about the stretcher. I wanted to reverse the whole last five minutes and not say such ridiculous things to someone who had endured so much. I was reminded that even my best assumptions can be drastically wrong.
My family:
All I can say is that I admire the love I've witnessed, the steadfastness of a wife, and the humility amidst brokenness.
A student:
"I want to adopt because I am adopted." Spoken by a student, while our small group was discussing having children, prompted by the pregnancy of another leader. I held my composure in the moment, thanked her deeply for saying what she had, and sat there stunned by her honesty and frankness in that moment. She is one of five adopted kids in one family. She has two little brothers who are African-American, a sister who is Caucasian, and she looks to be American-Indian. I love the verses in the Bible talking about us being adopted sons and daughters of God, but this student understands that on a level I never would be able to. She's lived it, breathed it and reconciled it. She just taught me more in that sentence than I've gleaned from years of studying. "I want to give hope because I received hope. I want to give love because I am loved. I want to believe in someone because I was believed in." I owe her a thank you.
I'm reminded of the joy and grief of life, the beauty amidst ashes, the life that comes through death.
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. Ephesians 1.4-6

Little E Man

Ezra was born just over a year ago. His birth story was incredible, and you can read about here on my sister-in-laws blog.
Well, this past weekend we had the great pleasure of being invited to his first birthday party. It was so fun, and I love this little boy more than I can express in words. These are a few of the pictures I was able to capture during the party.
Happy 1st birthday Ezra!!