Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking to '09

It's been a crazy year. I keep thinking, "As soon as things slow down, I'm going to _______." But things never do slow down, do they? If I'm going to ever ______, I really just ought to jump in and do it. I so easily get overwhelmed. I seem to forget that I'm not really in control. I don't have to sweat this stuff so much. I can relax a little now and then. I'm from a long line of ADD folks, so it takes an effort to focus on one thing at a time. But I know I can. I am equipped to handle anything that comes my way, because God will get me through. I don't deserve His love and grace, yet there it is. My prayer for 2009 is that I remember all He's done and promises to do, and that I keep His Word ever in my mind and heart. I want my actions and reactions to be colored by His presence in my life. Happy New Year, everyone!

1 Peter 1:18 (NLT)

"For you know that God paid a ransom for you to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tomboy's New Clothes

The Setting: Houston - bright sunny day; Mom - loves to find a good deal; Extra jingle - I didn't get that second job for nothing; Talbot's Outlet - heaven.

I can't remember the last time I went shopping with any intent to buy myself clothes. I've been existing for years on hand-me-downs and presents from Mom. So this was exciting, but scary - what will I find? what do I need? what if I choose wrong? where do I stop? :)

Oh, but I love Talbot's clothes! So - I got two pairs of pants and one pair of capri's (my first) for a grand total of $50 (regularly priced at $144). I was looking for a top to go with the capri's, but I didn't find just the right thing, so I stopped. It's silly, but there's just something about having clothes that are for me that were never anyone else's first. Am I giddy? Just a little...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Christmas Crunch

Wow! Once again, I'm caught off guard as Christmas is just around the corner (like, Thursday!). It's hard to think Christmas when it's 80 degrees outside (even though it did snow here about a week ago. Is that a pre-cursor to the end of days - snow in Houston?!). But there's a cold front coming tonight, so the week should feel a little bit more wintry, and I hope to get those last minute Christmas things done a little sooner than the last minute.

We discovered water on the bathroom floor last week, which turned into having a hole cut in the bedroom ceiling downstairs, another one in the upstairs closet, the bathroom tile pulled up, the bedroom carpet removed and a whole bunch of fans and dehumidifiers running as I type. It ain't fun, but I never liked that tile anyway, and I have such big plans for what I'm going to do to that bathroom next. Granted, we'll have to do it in about 50 phases to afford it, but I'm hoping maybe by next Christmas?

I've got three more shows to work at Theater Under the Stars (helping in the gift shop), and then I can focus on cleaning up some of this mess and getting ready for my folks being in town. I love being so close to my family! Of course, I still have day job at X-ISS which is going very well. But I'm taking off from Christmas day through New Year's. Mike is learning the "other" show at the Space Center so has extra training days on his schedule right now. And being the new guy, he's getting some of the yucky days (i.e weekend after Christmas), but he's hanging in there, and really does enjoy it.

Not much time for anything else! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Survey

Here's the survey, my answers follow. If you want - copy it to the comments and fill in your own answers. Just for fun!

1. Fresh Tree/Fake Tree?
2. Favorite Ornament?
3. Favorite Christmas Song?
4.. Favorite Tradition?
5. Favorite Gift Ever Received?
6. Favorite Christmas Meal?
7. Favorite Christmas Cookie?
8. Favorite Place to be?
9. Favorite Memory?
10. Favorite Christmas Movie?

My Answers -
1. Fresh Tree/Fake Tree? Fresh!
2. Favorite Ornament- One my husband made for our first Christmas. It's our wedding picture in a little frame and he painted it and put glitter on it and everything!
3. Favorite Christmas Song- Immanuel sung by Amy Grant
4. Favorite Tradition- Wrapping the presents my Dad gets for my Mom. He's a great gift selector and I love to see what he gets her before everyone else does!
5. Favorite Gift Ever Received- One Christmas I got a "My Friend Mandy" doll. I loved her until her head popped off (I was devastated). Apparently, though, she was under warranty or something, because unbeknownst to me, Mom sent her back for repair. When she came back, Mom wrapped her up and put her under the next Christmas tree. Receiving that doll the second time was the greatest gift ever!
6. Favorite Christmas Meal- Dad's fajitas, with Mom's pintos, "sticky rice", tortillas and guacamole.
7. Favorite Christmas Cookie- Those silly iced sugar cookies.
8. Favorite Place to be- With the family, wherever that happens to be
9. Favorite Memory- One year my husband and I opened all of our presents about a week early. It was great! I loved it, even though I didn't have anything to open Christmas Day, I'll always remember how much fun it was to be so naughty!
10. Favorite Christmas Movie- The Santa Clause

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I don't know why this has been on my mind today, but I think I need to spill it here.

Several months ago, I was listening to a conversation about heaven and how everyone has the option to go there, just some will never choose that option. [I agree with that, by the way. I don't know why it's true, it just is - the Bible spells it out pretty clearly. Some people just do not want to have anything to do with God - so heaven wouldn't be that great a place for them anyway.] So one of the people involved in the conversation said he just didn't think it could be heaven if all of his loved ones weren't there. If God really loved people, He would let everyone in.

I had a very cavalier comment to that (though I didn't say it out loud), but God doesn't make it a secret about how to get to heaven. He's real upfront about it - put your faith and hope in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9). That's it - it's not be a good person, eat your vegetables and follow the ten commandments. No one would get in, if that were the case. Anyway, it ain't hard - just trust in Him. So if someone isn't in heaven, it's their own fault - their choice. You can't be mad at God about it. Besides, it isn't about us - it's about Him. He gets to do things His way - not our way.

But today, I got to thinking about how sad I would be to find certain important people from my life were missing from my eternity in heaven. I suddenly understood where this guy was coming from. I still believe it's their own fault, but I also understand how this person could say that he wouldn't want to be in heaven if his friends and family weren't there. Sure, sure - I'm a member of the family of Christ - I have millions of new brothers and sisters; but it's not the same. I want my husband, parent, sibling, friend to be there, too.

So I've come to this conclusion: Trust God. He made us the way we are, with our need for each other and our emotional attachments. He knows us. Somehow, whether the friends and family get a second chance or whatever, God will make it ok. Because He also says there will be no more sorrow when we get to heaven (Revelation 21:4). So I just have to let it go, pray for my loved ones, and know that God is in control.

Friday, October 17, 2008

So be truly glad...

1 Peter 1:6-7 says -
"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

I've been staring at these words for a while now. Some key phrases pop out at me:
EVEN THOUGH - in spite of, regardless - so , be glad not because things will make you happy but because you have hope
HAVE TO - not may have to, but have to - no getting around it, this is pretty much a guarantee that we will suffer
MANY TRIALS - many. Ugghh.

So verse six can be discouraging if you focus on the have to and the many trials, but we're supposed to focus on the first part, the glad part which comes from earlier in the chapter about what Jesus has done for us. So, this is supposed to be encouraging - not sugar-coated, but hopeful. Cool.

And then there's verse seven. What stands out to me in this verse is what it doesn't say. It doesn't say "all trials are tests from God". However, it does say "trials will show your faith is genuine". So this doesn't really answer why we go through trials, just that we have a responsibility to endure for God's sake. For God's sake! It's interesting that the why is not answered (the question we always ask).

Now the part I don't get - apparently enduring and remaining faithful through many trials will bring personal glory. Isn't that what it says? "It will bring you much praise and honor and glory" - I find that odd. I mean really, it isn't supposed to be about our glory but Christ's glory, right? I'm almost embarrassed at the idea of gaining personal glory from being faithful to Him. He has changed my life; I owe Him everything; He should get the glory. But what it says is I will get the glory. Hmmm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Moving On

Well, we were at my folks place for 10 days until we got notified that my office had power and there was work to be done. So we came home. No power at our place, though. It was five more days before our power came on and another five more days before we had hot water (we're on a community boiler). Other than that, we survived without a scratch. Pretty amazing really, when you see the damage others are having to deal with. There are still piles and piles of tree limbs and other debris along every street, just waiting for crews to get time to pick them up.

Mike's ministry basically came to a standstill, as everything he does depends on his access to electricity and his computer (special software), so there hasn't been a new "Rock Shop" since September 13. He's working on it as I write this, though. So, be prepared!

In the midst of all this, Mike got a new job -- he's now in training to be a Missions Briefing Officer at the Space Center. The MBO does the presentations (at the visitor's center) that explain how the astronauts live in space and what the current missions are. Very interesting stuff, and Mike's having a blast.

In a new twist, my brother has moved into our front room for a few weeks or however long. We stayed with him for 6 - 8 weeks when we first came to the Houston area, and we're happy to be able to return the favor. If anyone knows of a job opening for a talented video editor and graphics guy, let me know!

I continue to be amazed at God's provision. We don't have a lot, but He always makes sure we have what we need.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike Update

Mike and I (& Penelope) met up with my brother and his son in South Padre Island to ride out the storm with my folks. Sounds weird, but South Padre Island (down by Brownsville, TX - not the Padre Island up by Corpus) was not in the "cone of uncertainty". The water was pretty high, though, yesterday.

Anyway, updates from our friends and neighbors in Houston say our place looks fine. There's still no power and possibly no water. Not sure when we'll try to head back, but I'm checking in with work to see when they get their power up. We're starting to hear about power coming back up in various locations. Apparently it was pretty scary, and we're seeing lots of horrible stuff on the news, but everyone I know seems to have weathered Ike pretty well. Lots of downed trees and debris everywhere, but no major damage. God is even blessing us with a coldfront, so we can survive the heat an humidity until we can get the a/c back.

I'll check in again after we get back home!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, AGR! is celebrating 2 years of internet ministry! Mike launched the site September 1, 2006 when he uploaded the first "@ The Rock Shop" program. To date, there have been 97 episodes. People have tuned in from all over the globe. It's quite a wonder. The current show is a look back over the past year, playing bits and pieces from different shows and replaying some of Mike's original dramas and some of the contributions from other playwrights that have been featured on the program.

I really encourage everyone to sit down and give it a listen. Though Mike takes a light approach, it's been a struggle; but it's what Mike feels called to do. God has given him a vision, a gift, and a way to make the truth available to the world. And I feel called to help him, so there it is., our baby, by the grace of God, is two years old. Almost to the potty-training stage (whatever that means).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Draft Day

Today was draft day for my fantasy football league. This will be my third year, but this time I'm the commissioner of my own league. We have 8 teams - me, mom, dad, brother, husband, mother-in-law, uncle, and cousin. The draft alone was really fun.

My uncle and cousin are veteran ff players, and are trash-talking like you wouldn't believe. My brother practically chose the entire Houston Texans team. My husband is all strategy. MIL let the computer auto-pick for her (and got a pretty good team). Mom went mostly Cowboys. And Dad started with the computer, but couldn't just sit by and watch, so jumped in at the end. Now we all have to wait two weeks for the season to start.

So one of the best things about moving back to Texas from the Pacific Time Zone is that the football games start after church here. In Reno we would have to go to Saturday night church during football season. But here, we can just squeak in the Sunday morning service. It's great!

Looking forward to the out-of-town fam coming in for big brudder's b-day tomorrow. It'll be nice to see everyone and have the long weekend to do it. It'll also keep me distracted the week before football season starts. Did I mention I like football? Anyway, so far so fun!

Monday, August 25, 2008

LPL Report

We got back last night from San Antonio. I attended a Living Proof Live event led by Beth Moore. It's hard to explain what this is - kind of a rally - but more like a Christian retreat. It's an in-depth Bible study crammed into two days. If you look past the 10,000 attendees and the rockin' worship music (although that really sets the mood), it's just a sitdown study with Beth.

The topic was "Inheritance". And we looked at God's promises from Old Covenant to New that reference an inheritance. It's a real big deal - God promises not some kind of ethereal, spiritual eternal existence, but a real tangible physical life that we will live with him and others in a real physical kingdom with real property and real relationships. As Christians, we are co-heirs with Christ. True story! We are heirs of God. So, back and forth we went from scripture to scripture seeing what God had revealed for Beth to teach us. It was awesome.

Afterward, I got to go with 1000 of my closest friends to an area backstage to rub elbows with other readers of Beth's blog and attend a Q&A with Beth and her daughters. It was really neat. I also hooked up with my friends Phyllis and Carolyn with whom I sat for the Fall Bible Study I did at First Baptist. It was nice to see them and catch up a little bit.

While I was at LPL, Mike was taking in the sites - his first trip to San Antonio. He spent a good five hours walking around the river walk (dining and drinking coffee and checking out the shops). We met up Saturday afternoon to take a river tour. It was really fun. Mike wants to be a river boat tour guide when he grows up. We had a great dinner on the river and got back to the hotel in time to watch a movie on the Hallmark Channel (we've been without cable since we got to Texas). Sunday, our plan to go to Six Flags was nixed because we were just too tired. So we took the long way home through Fredericksburg and Austin and called it good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I actually finished the entire Bible study I was doing this summer ("No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter)! It's not that I usually quit, I just get distracted (yeah, that's it!). Or I find myself just going through the thing to get to the end without getting anything out of it. But not this time! This time I was diligent, thoughtful, intentional -- and it wasn't easy. I got behind a couple of times, but managed to pull back. I highly recommend this study, but I have to say there was a lot it showed me that I didn't like.

What made it the most fun, and what really kept me going, is that I did it with a group online. Being a follower of Beth Moore's blog, I signed up for doing this study via the web. Every other week Beth would post a video, encouraging us along and throwing out discussion questions from the book (some people actually met together). Then we could post our comments after we'd met (although there were a great many people like me who went single). There were literally hundreds of us doing this study together. It was way cool. Today, the writer of the study posted a message on Beth's blog and it was cool to read her encouragement and some "after the book" revelations. This was such a strange and wonderful way to encounter God and learn about myself. I thought it was weird at first, but it really seemed to work. It was accountability without the legalism.

Anyway, this weekend is the Living Proof Live event that I get to go to in San Antonio. And as a bonus afterward, Beth Moore and her daughters have coordinated a little get together for people who are readers of her blog. So we get to meet each other and hang out for a bit. I'm really looking forward to the whole weekend. And Mike is going with me to SA (not to LPL, he'll hang out at the River Walk or the Alamo during the conference). We will get to spend a good amount of time together still. I'm so excited!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Did I mention it was hot?

Wow! Hot! It only reached 99 degrees today, but it was a wet heat. Man! We went to the church this morning to help out with some grounds keeping. We were there 3 hours and were mostly in shade, but it was just so hot! I've never been much good at pulling weeds, but I did my best. I could barely get up off the sidewalk when it was time to go. I'm not even 40 yet! Whew. So we came home for lunch and never made it back. I took a shower and slept for about 2 hours. It's embarrassing how actual labor wipes me out.

Anyway, it did feel kinda good to be working on someone else's stuff instead of our own for a change. And our little stretch of "grounds" that we worked on does look much better now than this morning. Too bad we wimped out. It was disappointing that we couldn't accomplish as much as we wanted. Sad, too, that the "new people" made up a quarter of the entire work force that came out. Maybe I just didn't see everyone, and they got the cushy inside work, but it seemed pretty slim. I sure had hoped to test that "many hands make light work" idea.

So tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 101 degrees! Won't that be fun! Good thing we got the a/c fixed. Unfortunately, we're going to be getting a bill for that....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good-bye Dolly

I think it ended up being a full week without electricity for Mom and Dad. The good news is they were able to come up to Houston for half of that. We benefited from their company and their refrigerator (plus, some lovely dinners out). The bad news is now they have to deal with the after-Dolly clean up and repairs. They lost a lot of shingles and have water damage in the master bedroom from the ceiling caving in (lost shingles + horizontal rain = lots of water getting in). After they deal with all that, they can more clearly assess the rest of the house. Both of them were safe and unscathed, PTL. The cat is grumpy from having to travel to Houston, but we think she's ok, too.

Would love to have some comments here from friends in Reno who are dealing with some natural disasters as well. Everyone riding out those earthquakes ok?

I know it's all part of God's plan, but these kind of things are pretty scary. It does bring up a lot of those why-type questions, which tends to get me back into reading my Bible a little more, so there's the positive spin. It also allows for believers to step up and put their faith into action - reaching out and helping people who are suffering, showing them the love of Christ. That's what it's all about, isn't it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Easy

Painting a small white room (i.e. a closet) with white paint sounds like it would be quick and simple. It's not.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Run! Run! Run!

Last night we went to Bible study at White Oaks Baptist down the street. Pastor Michael played a video for us where the leader takes a group of people to a Greek ruin - an arena that sat 40,000 people where they would hold the games. He talked about how the athletes in the games ran for the glory of their gods (and then for Caesar when the Romans adopted the practice and decided the emperor was a deity).

The point was that the apostles (especially Paul) often explain Christianity as a race (see Hebrews 12). And they used this example for the non-Jews because society understood the games. You run to bring glory to Jesus. You don't run to win, you run like you want to win; you do your best - whatever that is. You're cheered on by a crowd of witnesses. The key is passion - don't hold back; give it everything; let go of the things that hold you down. Run! Run! Run!

It was awesome. He also made some interesting references to Elijah. But I'm still pondering it all. Next week they're luring us back with promises of ice cream!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Harmony and mutual affection prevail - mostly

We're moved in and back online. The painting is almost done. Really, we're so close! We've had all kinds of little snags along the way, but I do believe we're going to like the place. And, thanks to hiring movers and having help from the family, our marriage is still intact!

We went to the little church down the road on Sunday. It was good. We enjoyed it and even got invited to lunch! Believe it or not, we actually accepted and had ourselves a great time. Maybe we've found a home. That would be cool.

I've been doing Bible study using a book by Kelly Minter titled "No Other Gods". It's very well written, and it's really helping me see some things about myself that I need to address. For example, I've fallen into a pattern of expecting God to disappoint me - like He's picking on me or something. And I'm afraid to find out what He'll do next. Now, I know this is not correct thinking, but this study has helped me see that I act like it is. Anyway, I'm hoping God will continue to show me the truth and help me get over myself.

There were some specific verses this week that hit me:
Psalm 112:7
Proverbs 3:24
John 14:27
and really bringing it home - 1 John 4:18

Just thought I'd share.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Second Thought (Third?)

Well, I'm pleased to tell you that cooler heads prevailed. What we thought to be wisdom, others believed to be over-reaction, and the townhouse deal went through. We are now homeowners once again (Mike's swearing "never again" to the contrary). The move-in is scheduled for this weekend. We've actually hired help this time which should also strengthen our marriage considerably. I'm hoping to get the folks or Gerald to take some of them fancy digital pictures for me, so I can show everyone. It's a about 1100 square feet, 30 years old, and not too smelly. :)

Even better, it's only 5 minutes from my office. So tomorrow is my last "commute". This morning there was a terrible accident with fatalities that shut down all lanes along my regular route. The good news is, Mike brought me to work today so he could do some stuff on the house - that meant we got to drive in the HOV and get around the problem. It's not nice to think of these horrible accidents as traffic inconveniences. Someone's life just ended, and the rest of us are irritated because it took an extra hour to get to work. I'm grateful to be getting out of that mode of thinking, sad that the problem continues.

Anyway, Mom and Dad and Gerald are going to help us paint the place before we move in furniture, so I guess we need prayers for harmony and mutual affection! I'll write later about the results.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I don't know who made the coffee at the office this morning, but immediately upon my first sip I was back at my dad's office in Harlingen, TX when I was about 7 years old. All they had was coffee, and when we would go down to the office with him on weekends, my brothers and I would drink heavily doctored coffee. So this morning I added a large portion of powdered creamer and Sweet-n-Low (no sugar cubes here) and toasted some good memories.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I was going to title this entry "Retraction", but I just did that a couple of weeks ago. Today we decided to withdraw our offer on the townhouse I was talking about. It's really disappointing because I thought we were finally putting in some real roots here by purchasing a home. Things just weren't coming together right, and it was starting to feel like moving forward with the purchase would not be a wise decision.

We've been praying for direction for so long, I don't know that we would recognize an answer if we got one. But I do think God gives us wisdom when we need it, even when we don't want to listen. I mean, I really wanted this townhouse purchase to happen. I recognize my tendency to force things, so I tried to step back and let Mike decide. But that sweet man doesn't want me to be disappointed, so he was wanting me to decide. Both of us knowing that we should back off but not wanting to face the decision. But we did.

Anyway, this makes life hard (isn't it always?) as we've already given our notice on our apartment, and even without buying this townhouse, we need to still move somewhere closer to my office. So we're apartment hunting again. Yuck! I really should keep packing, but I just didn't feel like it today. Maybe I'll have some renewed energy tomorrow.

For now, I'm simply going to re-read Psalm 31.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Boy

Isn't he a cutie? This is my nephew who is graduating from high school tomorrow - twenty years after my own graduation. And I get to be there! I'm so excited to participate. Congratulations, Will!


After our last home-buying experience, we swore off the practice as something totally unnecessary. After all, who ever really owns their home anymore? The bank owns it, and makes a fortune off of it. And yet, you are totally responsible for the maintenance, insurance, pest control, etc. And these days, it ain't a given that the thing's appreciating in value. It's what we ex-Nevadans call a crap shoot.

Welcome to our new plan - the "owning" of a townhouse. Unlike a "real" house, other people are responsible for the lawn and bushes, the roof, the stucco, even the water heater (ok it's a boiler, whatever that is). I'm still not clear on who is responsible for exterminating the rats (I haven't actually seen any, but I've heard rumors). We pay for the inside insurance, they cover the outside. Granted we pay a fee for that stuff every month, but around here there are HOA fees when you buy a house, too.

So, we've made an offer. It was countered. We countered. She accepted. Addition to contract made; she signed. We might actually move in by the end of the month. I can't even tell if I'm excited - I think it's shock. The best part is the location. It's less than five minutes from the office. No more books-on-tape during my commute.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


OK - so Mike worked for the man for a week and that was it. Poor guy could hardly walk on that last day. They had to put him on the "DL". He's feeling very sad and unwanted right now. However, he did get his show up on Saturday and he's well into production on this week's. His current theme is faith - very appropriate (isn't it always?).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mike's Working for the Man

Mike went out and got himself a job. Not that he wasn't working - he spends hours and hours and hours putting together his internet radio show. However, there isn't a lot of income from that endeavor. So he's found a job that he believes will allow him to continue his ministry and bring in some money, too.

Mike is now (drumroll, please!) a concessions supervisor at Minute Maid Park for the Astros games! Cool, huh? So he only works when the Astros are in town, although his work days are around 10 hours long. Starting Monday, he'll do seven ten-hour-days in a row. Then he's off for eleven days. He'll have to be more organized so that he can get ahead on the show when he has days off from the ballpark, but he's confident. (Of course, it's his show, so if one's a couple of days late, it isn't the end of the world.)

No, he's not carrying trays of peanuts and cotton candy; his job is to supervise several of the concession stands, keeping up inventory and doing cash drops and managing the workers' breaks and things. Not a lot of excitement, but he certainly keeps busy, and he gets to be at the ballpark. He's very happy about that. After baseball season, who knows? Maybe he'll go to Reliant Stadium for the Texans games or the Toyota Center for the Rockets. A world of options!

Living Proof Live in San Antonio

I just wanted to gush a little bit because I am getting to go to the Living Proof Live event in August! It's not that the tickets are hugely expensive, but we are really counting our pennies, and some of the little extras are having to be passed on. Anyway, I'm an avid reader of the Living Proof Ministries Blog. One day Amanda was writing about the event coming in San Antonio where they are holding a get-together afterward with people who read the blog. She mentioned that someone had an extra ticket. I responded, and she's giving it to me! (I almost missed it because her email telling me I could have the ticket got sent to my junk mail ARRGH!) I can't believe it! I'm so excited. And I'll be able to go to the get-together, too (or the Siesta Fiesta, as they call it)!

I still have to find a way to get there and a place to stay, but I think I know a couple of ladies who are going, so I may be able to bunk with them. Who knows how it will all work out, but I'm thrilled!

Anybody else want to go?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Attempt to Answer Inevitable Questions

Why believe in God?

At some point I recognize that I am not in control. For a while I fake it and try to force my will on the world around me, but I fail. If I don’t admit that God is in control, then I must admit there is only chaos and therefore, no hope. But if I do admit there is a God, how do I deal with that? How can I make him accept me and get me through? I can bargain with him that I’ll be good and follow the “rules” in exchange for His good graces. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work, because I am incapable of being good all the time and following all the rules. So I make another deal to make sacrifices and/or work off the bad things I do and rules I break. But I don’t do that either. I can’t even keep track of all the rules I break, much less the work to make up for them. (It also shows that I’m still trying to be in control.) This brings me to the Good News. God knows the trap we’re in. He sent Jesus to do the work and make the sacrifices on our behalf. Because Jesus had nothing for which he needed forgiveness, God accepts Jesus’ work and sacrifice for me. And not just for me, but for anyone who will ask. It’s that big! God even gives me the faith I need to come to him and ask for forgiveness. All free.

Where’s the catch?

Well, there really isn’t a catch. It’s just a matter of believing it and accepting it. Of course, if I don’t think I have anything for which I need forgiveness, then I really still haven’t recognized that I’m not in control. The trouble comes when I try to still buy my way in, “OK, God. Sure. I’ll believe whatever you want me to believe, if it’ll save my bacon later.” That’s not really belief; it’s trying to buy insurance. Usually the way you can tell it’s true belief is because I’m so blown away by the implications of this whole thing that I become sold out for anything God is doing. I want to help. I mean, look what he’s done for me? The least I could do is get to know the guy, see if he could use me in some capacity, let other people know what’s going on.

What about baptism?

Jesus told his disciples to go into the world baptizing and making disciples. Almost everywhere in the New Testament of the Bible, when people come to believe in Jesus, they get baptized. But nowhere does it say that if you don’t get baptized, you void your salvation. It doesn’t say that! As Jesus was dying on the cross, one of the criminals dying on a cross next to him admitted to the wrong he’d done and then said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (That’s in Luke Chapter 23.) Jesus didn’t say, “Somebody get over here and baptize this guy before it’s too late!” This leads me to believe that God is in control. He does what he wants regardless of our attempts to earn his favor.

So if a person won’t get baptized because they’re stubborn, there’s probably an issue there with their faith. But I can’t know that for sure. I’m not in control, remember? If they won’t get baptized because of extenuating circumstances, I think they’re ok.

Is it ever too late?

There will come a time when it’s too late. But since I don’t know what happens as a person is dying, I don’t know when that too late moment is. Who knows but as a person lies on their deathbed completely unresponsive to the people around them, that they may be having one last chat with Jesus? It’s not like he wants them to jump through a bunch of hoops or get a perfect score on some arbitrary test. Accept that you aren’t in control; admit that you’ve screwed up and deserve punishment; accept Jesus’ sacrifice in your place; and believe! I see it as a moment of clarity when a person breaks down and asks for forgiveness. Then Jesus reaches out and takes their hand and walks them into eternity.

I believe God wants everyone to spend eternity with him, but he won’t make them. Some people don’t want God in their lives or their afterlives, unless he plays by their rules. They put him in a box and decide how he should behave. They refuse to let God be God. I guess some of us still won’t admit, even at the end, that we’re not in control.

Why wait?

Really, waiting until the end is kind of playing with fire. (Ha Ha) Especially since, I can say from experience, life is hard. God is in control. Instead of fighting for the reins, let go. Follow where he leads and rest. It's not easy; it's not all sunshine and roses; it does bring peace. And yes, I still have a really difficult time with the control issue.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Green Things

Things grow here in Houston. Lots of green stuff - everything from mold to pine trees. It's very different from the desert I'm used to. Not bad, not good, just different. Mike and I went to an arboretum today. Kind of funny - there are woods and growing things all around us, but we went to an arboretum to wander through the local flora. Anyway, at the arboretum, everything is labeled. Plus they have some very deliberate "displays", benches, paths, a hedge maze, creeks and fountains.

There are really tall pines here and funny vines growing up into the trees. We've decided we like bamboo - there are all kinds of it, too. And bougainvillia, hibiscus, and begonias. Mike likes to think about gardening. What he would do if we ever have a yard. He wants a big rock and a rock pathway to grow Irish moss around. I think the path would look better with dwarf mondo grass. And I like gerbera daisies. Always have. Mike was somewhat disappointed by bluebonnets. I told him they look better in huge numbers across a hillside, but I'll have to show him that some other time.

It was fun to get out and walk around. I don't do "outside" much. It isn't too hot yet and the mosquitoes have only just begun to "gather" (as one of the warning signs put it). It was a nice outing. We'll do it again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why Go the Extra Mile? It's Fun!

We had a company meeting today, and one of our project managers was complemented for really going the extra mile at a client site recently. He commented that it was really fun to do.

I really like that perspective. It's fun to be challenged, to do your best and to exceed the expectations of others. And it really isn't that hard. In today's culture, it's rare for anyone to take responsibility for anything. Most people act completely inconvenienced by having to acknowledge someone other than themselves.

So, amaze the masses by noticing someone or caring about your job! Or try this - pick up a piece of trash off the ground and throw it away. You might win an award or something.

I saw a newscast one day interviewing people in a nearby town who were irritated at a business that had set up shop, trashed the area, and left. Comments like, "I have to drive by and look at this every day! Someone should do something about this. It's been like this for months!" But not one person, after months of looking at trash laying around this empty lot and being outraged that this had happened, not one person ever considered walking out there one day and picking it up themselves. Shoot, if it bothers you, do something about it. But we'll call in a news crew! That'll fix it.

Why not jut take pride in your work, your home, your community. Make an effort. You might even surprise yourself.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I love the rain, especially thunderstorms. I can't remember a time when I didn't love the rain. Even when I'm stuck in traffic going 10 mph on the freeway because of rain-induced slowdowns, I love the rain. I think some of it has to do with mostly living in deserts my whole life. But really what I feel when it rains is a sense of awe. Thunder and lightning are incredible and powerful and dangerous, making God seem BIG like He should seem; like He is. And rain is indiscriminate, life-giving, and makes the world seem smaller, softer. I love the smell of rain and the sound of rain. I love watching the clouds roll in and the sky get dark. I love the rain.

I have so many memories tied to rain. Living in Brownsville when I was little and being scared and excited by the thunderstorms. Being on campus in Arizona when a "monsoon" hit - it was unreal. Camp in New Mexico listening to the rain ping on the tin roof. Afternoons in Canyon when it would get so hot and then the thunderheads would roll in, the cows would line up single file and start walking home, and then big fat rain. Doing the show in the rain. Avoca, NY where if it wasn't snowing, it was probably raining. Riding the Judge Roy Scream at Six Flags with the rain like needles. I love the rain.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Coming Out

Some of you will find this very strange, so I hope you'll just bear with me. The fact is, I've been hooking up lately with a lot of old friends who I haven't seen in AGES, and I've started to realize that I may have been somewhat guarded with them, even dishonest.

I grew up in the church and always stayed pretty involved all the way through high school, but I was never very verbal about my faith. In college I experienced my rebellious period, so those friends wouldn't know a thing about my walk with the Lord. So now that I've started reconnecting with some of these old friends, I think I need to come out of the closet and let them know that I am a Jesus freak. There, I said it. You were probably already pretty suspicious.

Not to get completely of track, but I've had several friends come out of the closet and tell me they were gay. This makes me very uncomfortable, and they know it does. The truth is, it even sometimes makes me angry. However, it doesn't stop me from being their friend. In fact, I'm somewhat honored that they trust our friendship enough to tell me. Here's where I'm going with this - I know my being a Jesus freak makes some of my old friends uncomfortable. Some of the things I talk about even make them angry. But I sincerely hope it won't stop us from being friends. I love you guys, and I love hearing about your lives.

I find it interesting that when a life-changing diet or book or recipe or cleaning product comes into my life, it's easy to tell my friends - in fact, I can hardly wait to tell everyone. But when Jesus turned my life upside down, there were actually people I was afraid to tell. Why is that?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've been ponderin' (that's Texan for "considering") the word "Surrender". I believe part of my struggle with surrendering myself to the Lord is my perception of that word. Surrender brings to mind quitting, giving up, giving in, losing, capitulating, waving the white flag. These are not good things to my mind. So, I started ponderin', and I expanded my definition a bit to be stepping aside, stop fighting, hand over the reins, release, get out of the way, join the winning team, throw yourself on the mercy of your enemies. These seem to be gentler, more positive, and that last seems a little odd, but true. Until we surrender to Jesus and accept His sacrifice, we are enemies of God. Thankfully, His mercy is vast! So I ain't quittin'! But I will get out of the way, stop fighting and hand over the reins.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quandary (aka whining)

How do you live for Jesus, but live in the US at the same time? It seems to me that in the US, more than anywhere else, you have to have money to survive. If you don't have serious cash, no one takes you seriously. How do you serve the Lord and still make a living? You can't serve God and money, right? The more Mike and I focus on serving God, the less money we have. We've cut the bills as low as we can, and we still can't come close to making ends meet. So we have to focus back on making money for basics, and then we're dropping our focus off of God. And back and forth we go.

Some not so gentle friends have suggested that if we're truly doing God's work, God will bless us financially. I think that is only sometimes true. God promises to take care of us but doesn't say anything about giving us money. And we always do seem to squeak by, but we never have any cushion. It's hard, and it's frustrating. More and more I've become suspect of people with financially "blessed" ministries, too. It's probably bitterness, but I wonder if they are serving with pure motives for bringing glory to God or if the money's just good.

It breaks my heart to see my husband having to consider giving up his ministry because it is not well-supported financially. He's doing something he loves to do, and he's doing it for God. Then we have to go around and around and ask if his motives are pure. Is he really doing this for God's glory, or does he just get a kick out of it? We think it's about God, and Mike happens to get a kick out of it. But what if we're wrong? How can we know?

I've finally reached a place where I don't want to make a decision, not because I'm afraid of choosing wrong, but because I don't believe it will make any difference. Whatever we do, we seem doomed to struggle. (Jesus did say that in this world there would be trouble, but why does it seem so much harder for us? I'm whining; I know.) Are there really any right answers?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Prayer Questions

Our pastor is doing a sermon series on prayer. This has always been hard for me. Not that I don't pray; I do - often. I don't think I could hold it together without that communication with my Father. The thing I struggle with is praying for something specific - like physical healing or weather changes or finances.

I know the Bible says we have not because we ask not, but I also know that God has a plan. So regardless of my prayers, He's working His plan. What difference does it make what I want Him to do? I believe He's going to work it all out, so my praying is more like whining for my way. Really I just want Him to do what He will do, and isn't He going to do that anyway?

I listen to a local Christian radio station that is always calling on listeners to pray for people who have called or emailed in prayer requests. It seems weird to me. They say things like "Pray that everyone's going to be ok" or "keep these families in your prayers". I really don't get it. Will God change His mind about what's happening because more of us are praying?

And we all have a different idea of what "ok" is (as far as everyone being ok). I think "ok" would mean God worked His plan in my life. That might mean I am physically injured or suffer a loss or fail in some way. Or it might mean the opposite. Other people see "ok" as being unaffected by potentially harmful events. Others interpret "ok" as suffering only minor scrapes and bruises. So how can I pray for everyone to be "ok" when most people won't be satisfied with "ok" as I define it?

Obviously I have some questions that need answering. So....pray for me!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Voice of Truth

"The Voice of Truth" is a song by Casting Crowns, I think. I should google it to be sure, but I am almost sure, so I'll go with that. Anyway, that's my current favorite song. I don't have the CD (or I would know 100% if it is Casting Crowns), and I should probably open up the iPod I have and see if I can download the mp3, but that's not why I'm writing this. Quit getting me off track!

THE POINT is that the song speaks to our situation right now. It's about being David against Goliath, or having the faith to step out of the boat and walk on water - that kind of thing. The knowledge that something just really isn't possible, but doing it anyway because God is in charge, not you. It's an encouragement to listen to the "Voice of Truth" instead of the voices of the world.

So the world is telling us right now that what we're doing makes no sense. There's no possibility of success according to the world's standards. And yet, we are choosing to ignore them because we believe God has called us to do what we're doing. Besides, we're not seeking success according to the world's standards. We're just trying to be obedient.

So this little blog entry is the up side of my mood swing (the last blog was the down side). I just keep praying that God will allow me to stay here for a while. And I thank Him for inspiring Casting Crowns (or whoever) to write and record "The Voice of Truth."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just to be

I'm selfish. And I can justify it because everyone else is just as selfish or more so. So there.

Really, I don't know how people deal with their lives. All I have to do is go to work and then come home and take care of the home and the husband. And even with just that, I long for a whole day of having nothing to do. And I mean nothing. I don't want to clean anything or put anything away or cook anything or drive anywhere or talk to anyone or feed anyone or pay anyone or answer the phone or email or plan anything or decide anything. I just want to be - for one day.

But I don't see that ever happening. It would probably be boring. (But I still think I want to find out.) Maybe I'm just lazy. I know I'm tired.

Then I think about my brother. He's a single dad with one full-time handful of a teen aged son and one part-time responsibility of a 5-year-old princess. He never gets a break. Seriously, it's one thing after another. If anyone's tired and needs a real day off, it's him.

So, I think if I ever come across a day when I can just be, I'll give it to him. He really deserves it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Mellow Day

I'm not having any profound thoughts lately - not that I ever actually have any. But sometimes I feel more compelled to share than others. And sometimes I don't share because I think no one will really be all that interested. But this isn't about anyone but me, so what's the difference?

Anyway, today was a pretty nice day. We went to church at The Met (it's about the fifth visit, I think), and we attended Sunday School for the second time in the Salt Mine class. They're studying Micah. It was almost completely different people from when we attended last time, so I guess the class is bigger than just the dozen or so we first met. And they like to speak up, which is always nice. Otherwise, Mike and I can pretty well monopolize a discussion and really frustrate a teacher. The study was good, too short, and everyone was really nice. I always struggle with trying to fit in what with Mike and my age difference and then the fact that we don't have kids, it just seems like we don't have a lot in common with most folks. Of course, none of our friends are like us, anyway, so I don't know what I get all worked up about.

The service was good. Pastor Sal is gearing up for a series on prayer, which has always been a struggle for me. So I guess we're going back for the duration to see if he can inspire me to new prayerful heights. I don't mean to sound sarcastic (that's just the way I always sound), but it's hard to stop and open your own mind sometimes. Nevertheless, he did have some interesting things to say (based out of 1 Kings, surprisingly), and I look forward to the next few weeks. There's also a daily Bible study that goes along with the series, which I think is pretty cool.

I'm trying to find a women's Bible study to go to, but the one's at The Met are all during the day. The stay-at-home mom is the newest trend it would seem. Beth Moore's current study over at First Baptist is "Breaking Free". I could go to that one, I guess. I'm sure I would discover some things from which I need to break free, but I feel like it's not the time and I would be crashing the party. So, I'm still looking.

Coming home, we decided to take the long way and ooh and aah over all the monster houses in Champions Forest (unbelievable!). And we saw a Gringo's Mexican Restaurant, so we stopped for lunch. (There's a Gringo's over by my brother's that we've been to, but we didn't know there was one by us.) It was pretty good, and I have lunch for tomorrow, too!

Unfortunately, the day turned ugly when we got home and the Cowboys ended their season with a disappointing loss to the Giants. I even put on my Cowboys t-shirt, but it just didn't seem to help. So my favorite pastime is, for all intents and purposes, over for the year. I'll still probably watch the games next week and the SuperBowl, but my heart won't be in it. Maybe March Madness will be good. We'll see.

That's about it. A day in the life...