Monday, December 20, 2010

Sing Off Fan

I never watch reality t.v. It's annoying. And "talent" shows are the worst. Especially with the "America decides" voting crap-o-la. And YET, I still gave Sing Off a try because I really like a capella groups even if I can't spell it (and it replaced Chuck). And even with Nick Leshay hosting, I loved it! Tonight's the big, cheesy finale with the finalists getting to perform with famous people (and the judges), but it hasn't been too bad. I can't wait to see who wins! (Mike just changed back to the football game because now Nick is singing, and that's ok. We can go back when that nonsense is over. Wow! Brett Favre is playing and they're winning!)

Anyway, America didn't get to vote until it was narrowed down to the final 4. I really think the judges did well narrowing it down. I missed the show when the Wiffenpoofs got axed because I didn't know they were doing Mondays AND Wednesdays, but still I'm not upset with who's left. I really like "Committed" - they are TIGHT! But the final song last week that "Street Corner Sympony" did was my favorite! So if either one of those win, I'm happy. (I don't like the "Backbeats" at all - I'm rooting against them.)

So, is this totally silly? No redeemable value?

Committed Won!!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Retreat Resolutions

I love this time of year because I'm a huge fan of the cheesy holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. I could watch "a twist on Dickens' Christmas Carol" a thousand different ways. I cry and cry and cry. But that's not why I'm here...

Last weekend was our women's retreat, and it was great! The theme was "Chaos" or really, Jesus' peace in the midst of chaos. What a perfect theme going into the holiday season!

There were some great testimonies. Personal histories always surprise me. It's like somehow I don't consider people having much of an existence prior to my meeting them. (Look how arrogant that is all written down like that!) But I honestly don't typically give people much credit for where they've been - I judge on the teeny tiny slices of life I happen to see in passing. I've rarely taken the time to get to know people enough to hear their stories - I'm so caught up in my own! But when I do - when I happen to be at the right place at the right time - and am privileged to hear a small part of a person's real story - it's so humbling!

I think quite highly of myself (in case you hadn't noticed). So it's such a shock to find out other people are interesting, too! And complicated! And amazing! So the humbling part is to find out that other people are MORE interesting and complicated and amazing than me. And I am so grateful for my own story - simple, safe, and relatively uneventful as it is. God has been so good.

I've heard it said that if we all could throw our problems in a pile and pick up someone else's, we would all take our own problems back. I think that's true. When I see what other people have gone through or are going through, I gladly embrace my own little plights and trials.

So as Thanksgiving races closer, I am hoping I can follow through on a few "Retreat Resolutions" (I got that phrase from one of the testimonies):

1 - Don't create my own chaos
2 - Cut people some slack - I have no idea where they've been and what they're going through
3 - Maybe take the time to find out where they've been and what they're going through (that one's hard, so it's a "maybe")
4 - Remember I hold the secret to peace - but it shouldn't be a secret, it's Jesus!

The End

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Incompetence or Indifference?

OK, first of all I don't hate men. I'm just calling it as I sees it. But male leaders (generally speaking) tend to ignore details, take no responsibility for the process of accomplishing a vision, and are then angry and down-right surprised if things don't get done. They are great at casting vision and all that inspirational stuff, but if a woman doesn't step in and actually see to getting it done, it don't happen. What drives me crazy is the assumption that things will just happen with no responsibility taken if and when it doesn't.

Maybe it's not just men, but that has been my experience. Although I have met some men who are the detail guys, they are never the leaders. Maybe the details take too much time and energy so there's no time left for leading. But leaders should at the very least hire or clearly designate a detail person to see that things get done. Or don't get sputtery and all flustered when things fall apart!

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mike's Summer - Looking Back/Looking Ahead

Since it's officially football season, I'm going to go ahead and call it "Fall". Even though I'm still dripping with sweat from a trip to the mailbox, it is about 10 degrees cooler than a week or so ago. So as I look forward to another great fantasy football season for my team, the "(Paper) Clippers", (and hopefully a great real season for the Texans), I would like to reflect back on our summer. It was good - hard, but good.

Mostly it's been about Mike:

Mike got let go from the nursery as anticipated at the end of their Spring season. He was hired as a "seasonal employee", after all. He was ready for it. It was just too hot and too exhausting. Plus the timing was perfect because the next week he started teaching a Sunday morning Bible class at church (with a reprise every Wednesday) and attending his first Bible college class on Monday nights.

The class he taught centered around Simon Peter, but like all good Bible Studies it was really about how to study the Bible, the life-changing power of the gospel, understanding the Christian worldview, and how to apply it in your own life. And of course, Mike is in love with Power Point and baseball analogies. Which worked out pretty well with a group heavy on Astros fanatics. He never does anything halfway, so he spent hours and days studying and searching for the perfect visuals. He did a great job. And finished up by doing his presentation of "Simon Peter:I Witness" for the last Sunday. There were well over a hundred men, women and children in attendance. It was great to see him glue on the old beard once again.

He had a love/hate relationship with his "Hermeneutics" class, struggling with the teaching style of the instructor, but really getting a lot out of the class in the end. He hasn't seen his grade yet, but anticipates a B+ or an A. Not bad for an old guy. Last week he started his next class on "An Introduction to Systematic Theology". 5 required books! He's really excited about this one. The ultimate goal is a Masters in Biblical Studies. Yes, that is a Masters in B.S. Appropriate, yes?

And lastly, he's been involved with an advisory team at our church which is really going through some difficult times (the church, not the team). He's getting to know the pastor and some of the other guys, and is taking it all very seriously (for him, anyway).

The hard part in all this has been the no paycheck thing. He gets embarrassed when people ask what he "does". And even when he can explain it, they generally ask something to the effect of, "does that pay well?" So God seems to be "refining" my husband through a season of humbling. It's been tight, but we're squeaking by. I'm actually extremely excited about the direction we seem to be going now.

Mike has always told as part of his "testimony" the story of being called to be a pastor when he was first saved. He was literally called by the Church of the Brethren, and he pastored a couple of little churches for a few months (he was still a teenager and a baby believer!). The Church, of course, had every intention of providing him with a seminary education, but Mike ran from that idea as fast as he could. And he's shunned and disdained the idea of seminary "credentials" ever since. However, 30 years later, he's realized that the church did not call him, but God did. And even though he's ignored that call, it's still what God has called him to do. So, he's going to give it a try. What God will do after that, only He knows. But I can't wait to find out!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Dear Dez Bryant,

As a Dallas Cowboy fan, I have been reading a lot about you lately. Obviously, your achievements to date are impressive. Having you on the team will give us greater depth and a hopeful future for even more post season play.

However, we really weren't doing too bad without you. You could be a nice addition to the team, but only if you can remember that you aren't the team - you've joined a team. You can't win by yourself. Ask T.O.

Arrogance is ugly on anyone. But coming in as a rookie with so little respect for the veteran players around you and the whole team dynamic is just sad. I don't wish bad things for you, but it's my opinion you need to be taken down a few pegs. Anything else could be really harmful to the organization. Maybe you should find some humility on your own before you're made to find it in front of everyone.

I'm just sayin' -


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lesson from Ruth

I've been studying the book of Ruth this summer with a study guide by Kelly Minter and some friends from church. (Kelly does great studies - even includes recipes!) The overarching theme of the study is that Boaz redeeming Ruth is a representation of how Jesus redeems us.

What I came across this week was a concept I had not considered before. Boaz announces at the city gates in front of the elders and many townspeople that he will marry Ruth the Moabitess widow. He is completely unashamed and quite delighted by this.

So I just realized that Jesus redeems me knowing full well that I would be considered unworthy, unattractive, and beneath notice of anyone else; yet He is not ashamed - in fact He is delighted!

It never occurred to me that Jesus might actually look directly at my sin and shame, my unworthiness, even announce it, and be delighted to take me in, to cover me with His protection, to bless me. I hadn't really thought of it before, but somehow assumed that He redeemed me with a different attitude. I guess I thought He just secretly stepped in out of duty and honor, cleaned me up, and then presented me as His, shaking His head when I stray and trying to ignore my shortcomings - maybe growing to love me eventually. I don't know, it sounds dumb when I put it into words.

I know (the Bible says!) He loves me. And yet so often I behave as if I don't really know that. So which is it? Does He love me or not? He does. Do I believe it? I'm working on that part.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How bad Habits Create Boring Stories

How bad Habits Create Boring Stories

The above link is to an article by Donald Miller. This says something I've been trying to put into words for some time. Even better, it confronts me with my own bad habits. Will I have the drive to change them? That is the question.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ladies Tea 2010

The Ladies Spring Tea was held at the church on Saturday. I'm not much of a girly-girl, but I really do enjoy attending a tea.

This time I hosted a table, so I could make good use of my great-aunt's china. The tablecloths, treasure chest and Bible were provided by my friend Thelma Norwood. The Bible was the one her husband carried with him in the army. It's not easy to see in the picture, but it's leaning up against the treasure chest.

This angle is better:
I borrowed the bronze flatware from my brother (it was given to him by our great aunt also) - it's from Thailand.

The tea was very nice - great chicken salad! The guest speaker was Jeannette Clift-George, Christian actress, author, director. She shared her testimony and some words of encouragement; she was very enjoyable.

My favorite part, though was the "opening act" - Chelsea Holmes. Chelsea is a member of our church (20 year old drama major at U of H). She so moved me last year with her monologue about the woman charged with adultery where Jesus says, "Let those who have never sinned throw the first stone". And everyone leaves. Then he tells her, "Go and sin no more." This year Chelsea went with a comedic monologue about women and the many hats we wear. It was hysterical! She did a wonderful job! Great "range"!

The theme of the tea was "Treasure" and that we should treasure God's word about all else (the verse is from Psalms). All the decor focused on things we treasure - memories, family, riches, and most importantly His word and our salvation.

So I have a bunch of pictures of the different tables (still learning this camera). Someday I might take pictures of people, but I'm not ready for that yet.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Random Easter Musings

Easter celebrates the most significant event in human history - Christ's resurrection. It is something that Christians celebrate in their hearts every day, but Easter is the one time a year when we focus on nothing else. The Easter bunnies and bonnets and all that never really distract from the point - all that Jesus said is true. I love hearing, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" He keeps His promises - and there are a lot of them.

I understand being angry with God. He lets things happen that are painful - like death. If He's so all-powerful and good, why would he let people suffer? The answer has to do with the world being cursed, and the gift He has given us of free will. And it isn't that He can't, but that He won't - which sounds like He's really mean, and that is not true, either. We all know that parents who really love their children must say "no" sometimes, maybe even lots of times. It's difficult, if not downright impossible, to see things from a God perspective. We have no idea what the big picture is - what good He is really working in the world. But He did provide a future and a hope.

Christ died painfully; God sacrificed His only Son. And then Jesus came back to life on the third day - death has been conquered. FOR US! We are forgiven and accepted by God because of what He did for us. Life can be hard, but we don't have to worry about that. God is with us.

Yes, churches and church people can be disappointing - they should but rarely do behave any better than anyone else. But a believer is meant to be with other believers - living and learning life together. I drift toward solitude, but find it brings me to a self-centered and depressed place. I am so much happier when I'm in the group focused on something besides myself. Anyway, I'm thankful for Easter that brought hundreds of people back to church to celebrate. I hope they stick around.

Check out Mike's Passion Vine - the first bloom was on Good Friday -

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reflection on the Number 40

Well, I've been 40 for almost a month now, and I'm kind of getting used to it. It's not like it feels any different - I've been having those aches and pains for a while now. And I started my forgetful phase a couple years ago. (I've always been at the head of the class.) But the number 40 is a really big number!

If life is a bell curve, I guess I think of 40 as the number on the top of the curve. Literally all down hill from here. Now, I enjoy down hill. Much easier bike ride; and with no brakes, it can be very exciting! But it also means the end of the ride is coming - and it seems to go by so much faster than the uphill part - same distance, but at high speed.

I'm not saying 80 is the end. And I honestly don't think I want to live that long anyway. I love life, but I have an inkling that what comes next will blow this life away. So, I'm not that concerned with hanging on here indefinitely.

No, it's not a fear of death that has started my melancholy reflection on the number 40. I'm just wondering how 4 decades have gone by, and I don't have a whole lot to show for it. I'm not even sure what I mean by that. I don't know what I expected to "have" to show. I have a great family; wonderful husband; roof over my head; a cat. Oh, and a lime tree!

Check out what my wonderful husband got me for my birthday!

Anyway, I'm 40 now. I can handle this. "Hi, I'm Gena, and I'm 40." See? No problem.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


So today I'm staring at 1 Peter 2:8, and I don't get it. My NLT version goes like this:

"And, 'He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them
fall.' They stumble because the do not obey God's word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them."

I get that Peter is quoting Isaiah in the first part. I get that "He" is Jesus. What I'm struggling with here is the "fate that was planned for them".

I know we're all on a dangerous path to Hell and the only way out is Jesus. But is that path really the "fate that was planned"? I can even go with the whole idea that Jesus causes people to stumble. I hear it all the time - the biggest problem people have with Jesus is His claim to be the only way to God.

In this chapter, Peter is talking about Christ as the cornerstone, and His followers are living stones of a spiritual temple, holy priests, a chosen people. So those who stumble over Jesus are left to their fate; those who embrace Christ are called out of the darkness.

This really, really makes it sound like the whole free will idea is false. God calls us - chooses us. Does that mean we don't have a choice? Did Peter just leave out the part where we answer the call? Or is that the part about obeying God's word - we have to choose that, right?

And if we're chosen, then that means God also chose (planned) those who would go to Hell. But Peter also says in 2 Peter 3:9 -

"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent."

I think that's pretty clear that God's choice is for all to return to Him. And if some don't, it must be because God lets us choose. So what's up, Peter, with this "fate that was planned"?

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Spring" Cleaning

Well, you do it when you have the chance. Saturday was living room day - moving furniture to get all those cat hair dust bunnies, cleaning out the fireplace, taking things off shelves to dust. I even emptied a box that has been living in the corner since we moved in and had just not been unpacked yet.

So today was kitchen day. Ick. I pulled the stove out. This apparently has never been done before. It was disgusting! But it's much better now. The good news is the dishwasher is screwed into the counter, and I didn't mess with that one. Now I'm tired and my back hurts (go figure). Maybe I won't have to do this again for a while!

I can almost feel comfortable with the downstairs if someone happens to drop in. Almost.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year

Happy New Year! I'm only a week behind....

So, the big holiday event this year was not Mom and Dad's trip up to see us in Houston and my bro and fam in Dallas. It was their change of plans that was big. Dad got home from a business trip to EP in time for a doctor's appointment the week before Christmas. They didn't let him go home until the day after Christmas, 5 days after a triple bypass. But he did go home! Mom is thrilled (I think Dad is pretty happy, too).

So, we all had our own little individual Christmases, with anticipated "in person" gifts having to be shipped late, etc. But it was all ok. Quiet. Personal. And then, Mike and I had the opportunity to go down to the island to see M & D for the New Year's weekend. We didn't want to be a burden, but I really wanted to see for myself that they were doing ok (see how I make it all about me - it's a gift). And we were invited, so that sealed the deal.

I am happy to report that they really are doing fine. Dad's moving slow, but is able to go up and down the stairs, etc. He gets tired easy (but I don't know if that's new!). We watched a heck of a lot of football, some basketball, and played Rummikub. I got Mom's Wii set up, and we bowled and golfed a bit (Dad preferred watching and laughing to actually playing).

I got the news yesterday that both of Dad's doctors (the cardiologist and the surgeon) have given him a clean bill of health. He's only cleared for desk work, but I don't think he minds too much. And the doctors don't want to see him for two or three months. (I think that's a good sign.)

So, 2010 is a fresh new start. And I'm calling it a new decade (after all a decade is ten years - there are no rules about when you have to start or end it). Who knew we'd live this long? It's all bonus time now, so it has to be good!