Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Windy City

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been! Last week Ben was gone, we had summer missionaries staying at our home, the church had a sports camp every day and we had something to do every night.

Yesterday mom, dad, Tim, Tori and Sam went to family camp with their church. They will get home on Saturday. Today after work Ben and I will head to Fort Collins to do some work at our church. Ben needs to put some office time in and I am going to organize/clean. We will come home tomorrow night.

On Saturday my aunt, uncle, grandpa, grandma and all seven of us are flying out to spend the weekend with another aunt in Chicago. Ben and I will be gone until the 5th, the rest of the clan comes home the 8th. I will pick them up at the airport, take them home and then go to the wedding of a dear friend, Rachel, in Colorado Springs.

When I look out at weeks like this I want to cry and laugh. Laugh because I am excited to go and do everything that I have planned. Cry because I know that I will be so tired, sleep less and spend less "quality" time in God's Word. Ah, the joys of life and learning how to balance them all!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Grandpa's Technology Skills

Many years ago when computers invaded every home my grandpa promised he would never own one. He did not see how they would help simplify his life; he thought they would only be a complication or another piece of equipment in the house. Besides, didn't they take up a whole room?

Grandpa could not believe it when my dad brought over a laptop. He asked so many questions about what it was doing and how it did it. He did not understand how so much information could be in such a small machine. He was even more blown away when I introduced the concept of instant messaging. AND furthermore, when I told him that I could communicate on instant message with my friends around the world, he would say I was making it up. His favorite word to exclaim was, "IMPOSSIBLE!"

Then, a few years ago, my aunt bought him a computer. He was intimidated and ignored the thing for several months. Finally, we sat down and gave him a lesson. We wrote down step by step instructions of how to do documents, check email and his favorite- search the map program. Things that were second nature to me I now had to teach my 78 year old Grandfather!

How do you explain "double click?" How do you help him do it when his fingers do not move that fast anymore? How do you teach him common phrases like "x out," "file," "open the program," "sign online," "screen name," etc.? It was difficult, but he eventually got the hang of it.

Then I taught him how to use instant messaging. I showed him the Buddy List with all our names on it. I said, "Now, when I go home and sign online, if you are online too, my screen name will appear in this box and your name will be in my box. You click on my name and another little box appears. You can type inside that box and press 'send' and it will send me the message. Then I can reply and we can talk. Do you understand?" His response? "Impossible."

But he is getting better and faster. For a while he would tell me, "When you sent me that message I had no idea where it came from! All the sudden there was this box and you were talking. How did you know I was on the computer?" I would laugh and explain the whole thing over again, to which he replied, "Impossible."

So I instant message with my 80 year old grandpa. He loves it. Usually, when we say goodbye and I get offline the phone rings. Grandpa. He is calling to tell me that he enjoyed talking to me and that he cannot believe we can talk like that over the computer. So, even though instant messaging is free long distance, my grandpa calls long distance to tell me it was nice to chat for free. Silly gramps.

A couple days ago we were chatting and he said this ( I have left it unedited):

I hope all is weelll, and not any ailments in your house. Sam is OK, and Tori and Tim going fast. What a surprise when I saw them last. The are sprouting like Ben did. And what a lovey mature young person you have matured too. Keep upo the good work. Granps, is leaving and going to get ready for bed. Hope you have joy in your heart.
It makes me go "awwwwwwwww" every time I read it. He is so cute and I love him so much. Now, if only I could teach him how to read my blog... :-) Rumor has it he owns a digital camera now too! For another story about Grandpa read this post: Grandpa's Influence.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scripture Memory 101

Have you ever thought memorizing God's Word was an imposible task? I know I have. I would write verses everywhere, carry them with me and even hang them in ziploc bags in the shower. Seriously.

Then I met Daniel Oh, a man who trains missionaries all over the world. He was a teacher at the mission class, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, that I attended. As he closed the class he said that he wanted to leave us with a passage from Philippians. He did not grab his Bible nor did he pull out an index card. No, he began quoting from chapter one, verse one. One minute passed, one chapter passed, seven minutes passed, two chapters...

... and then he stopped because the class time had ended. He stopped at the end of chapter two and told us to read the rest of Philippians on our own. I sat there mesmerized with the ability he had just demonstrated and the passion with which he had quoted a large part of Scripture. He did not stutter or fumble. It sounded like God was talking through him. And He was. After class I rushed up to Daniel and asked enthusiastically HOW he memorized Scripture (or anything!) like that. He said, "It's is quite simple." Ha, I thought, I have heard that many times before... but this time he was right! He explained that when we memorize verses like this:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Ephesians 1:3
we are causing our brains to work harder than need be and we are only retaining the information in the first level of memory. He grabbed a piece of paper and began writing the same verse above like this:

E 1:3-P b t t G a F o o L J C, w h b u i t h r w e s b i C.

He explained that memorizing with the first letter of each word allows your brain to store the information at the deepest level of memory possible. Your brain is an amazing organ that can fill in the words faster than if you tried to memorize it using the full word. He said that it helps to keep punctuation, including capitalization, so that you are able to break up the structure easily.

After you have memorized a passage of Scripture with the above look he said to move on to the first letter of each prase, which for Ephesians 1:3 would look like the following:

E 1:3- P, w.

So I have been trying it. And it works. I began memorizing Ephesians 1:3-10 last night at about 11PM. Several months ago it would have looked like this:

"3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."

Now, it looks like this:

3- P b t t G a F o o L J C, w h b u i t h r w e s b i C
4- F h c u i H b t c o t w t b h a b i H s. I l
5- h p u t b a a H s t J C, i a w H p a w-
6- t t p o H g g, w H h f g u i t O H l.
7- I H w h r t H b, t f o s, i a w t r o G g
8- t H l o u w a w a u.
9- A H m k t u t m o H w a t H g p, w H p i C,
10- t h p i e w t t w h r t f- t b a t i h a o e t u o h, e C.

I am boasting in Christ when I say that I have this passage almost memorized. It only took me twelve hours- eight of those I was sleeping and another three I have been at work. I am so excited that God has given me a tool that allows me to memorize His Word to the depth of my soul. Now, I will say this, I have been studying this passage, so I know that some of it has flowed easier. BUT, I did try other random passages to test myself and it worked on them too! Another thing I do is get a visual picture of what is happening in the passage. I also imagine how the person might have sounded if they had been talking to me.

Tonight, I hope to write out the passage like this (first letter of each phrase):

3- P, w. 4- F. I 5- h, i- 6- t, w. 7- I,t, i 8- t. 9- A, w, 10- t- t, e.

After that it is down to the first letter of each verse:

3- P 4- F 5- h 6- t 7-I 8- t 9- A 10- t.

If you don't believe me, try it. Mr. Oh has 25 books of the Bible memorized this way. He did Romans in two months and Philippians in a few weeks.

And hey, I did Ephesians 1:3-10 in about 30 minutes.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pleasure Reading for Geeks

I love to read. If you know me at all, that was definately not a shock to you. In the distant past I read The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins and even the old Nancy Drew books. As I grew up I began to read romance novels by Janette Oke or Lori Wick and mystery stories by Frank Peretti.

Somewhere, though, I turned into a hardcore geek. Pleasure reading these days consists of The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, The Pleasures of God by John Piper and Bible commentaries. My "light" reading right now: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.

Don't laugh- I'm serious.

The commentary I am reading right now is on Ephesians by John MacArthur. I read through Ephesians a couple weeks ago as apart of my "through the Bible in a year" plan. As I read it I was struck with the depth and beauty that is woven into every chapter. Christ is exalted, the church is admonished and the believer is encouraged.

MacArthur does an wonderful job of explaining every detail in each verse. I have read two chapters in the commentary and have only covered six verses.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before
the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless
before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through
Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise
of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness
of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he
lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known
to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose,
which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
Ephesians 1:4-10

I cannot even begin to grasp the depth of this passage. I am blessed, loved, chosen, accepted, holy, blameless, redeemed and forgiven. Every spiritual blessing in Christ is mine. I was chosen before the beginning of time to be like Christ.

Many people have a hard time with words like "chosen" and "predestined." Many people have a hard time thinking that God would choose some and not others. Yet, how amazingly beautiful to know that God saved me. When everything that I have done seperates me from God, the thought that God reached down and pulled me out of the depths of despair is more than I can fathom. I am grateful for His grace. I want to swim in His redemption.

So this is is what geeks read and think about in their spare time. I'm not ashamed of it for I was made to be staggered with the knowledge of God's character!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Meeting Missionaries

On Sunday I had the privilege of meeting a missionary from Central Asia. He is a close friend of our pastor and is staying with them for a couple months this summer while he is on furlough. He will be coming to our church and helping with ministry... for a true servant of God never tires of doing good, even when they are "home" to "rest." A bonus for Ben: he plays the djembea VERY well! It adds so much the sound of music when a little drum beat is included!

This man is one of the most amazing missionaries I have ever met. You can see the love for his calling in his eyes when he speaks. You can hear conviction in his voice when he talks. He is gentle and fun, serious and a jokester.

I was able to spend more time with him yesterday when the youth group from Canyon Ridge (my church) went to the mountains. We talked of missions, ministry in the United States and our fondness for a good tasting banana. When we were entering the state park I told Ben to make sure to pay for the missionary man. He, comically quipped, "Everyone thinks I am special." The tone of his voice and the look on his face was absolutely HILARIOUS! He went on to explain, of course, that what he meant was that people treat him differently because he is a missionary. They want to pay for his food, his entertainment and baby him. I said, "That's good!" He said, "But I am no different than anyone else." I told him, "Yes you are- you are out serving God in a difficult part of the world, giving of your life and should be spoiled when you are home!"

Anyway, I look forward to getting to know him while he is here and hopefully blessing him with encouragement before he returns to the field. Please pray that God will revive his passion and give him renewed strength. Pray that God will be with the people he left behind. Pray that revival will come to the people he is serving!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Unbelievably Exhausted

Like this poor pup in the picture... I am so tired I could giggle, laugh, scream and cry all at the same time. My mind is stretched to the limit, my heart is emotionally weary and my body is dying for six straight hours of sleep. No time to nap today, either. I feel like I just stepped off a trans-Atlantic ten hour flight. Why am I feeling all of this, you wonder?

For starters, last week was busy. Then, Thursday, Friday and Saturday my parents and I attended the Colorado Home Educators Conference. All day for three days. I was able to sit under wonderful teaching from R.C. Sproul Jr. and Doug Phillips.

Saturday night we went to a graduation party and did not get home until 10PM. Ben and I were up and out of the house at 7AM on Sunday on our way to Ft. Collins. We took my dad out to lunch for Father's Day and as soon as we arrived home our house guests arrived. Maxi and Olivia are summer missionaries to Colorado through NAMB. They are working at my dad's church for two months and are staying at our house this week.

Today I am taking them to the moutains to meet up with a larger group. We are going to hike around the state park, eat dinner and arrive home... extremely exhausted... I am sure.

Ahh, the joys of being young, adventuresome, a night owl and a pastor's daughter- all rolled into one person- can make for an interesting life!

Posts to come:
- The Obese Bride
- What is Education?
- A Fool's Textbook and Your Children
- Pleasure Reading for Geeks

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lessons from Johnny Depp

PLEASE, whatever you do, do not take the title of this post too seriously. I was not really thinking of what Johnny Depp as a person has taught me, no, but what his character, James Barrie in Finding Neverland "taught" me. I love this movie. I saw it for the first time only two weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much that I bought it. Truly, any spiritual wisdom comes from Christ, but He used this movie to remind me of my weaknesses and where I need to grow. As strange as that sounds- it is true!

As someone who has been known to be quite serious when the rest of the world is having fun, this movie reminded me to dream and imagine. There is beauty and adventure in life through Christ. Every tree, flower, apple, animal and river can be turned into a magnificent arena to praise God. There is a point when imagination can go too far, but as long as the imagination gives God praise and exalts Him above all else- dream away.

Peter, the ultra serious of the four boys, has a hard time using his imagination. He sees everything as concrete. At one point he declares (paraphrased), "That is not a bear it is just a dog." James Barrie (Johnny Depp) responds by declaring, "What a hope-dashing word. That is like saying, 'He cannot climb that mountain, he is just a man' or 'That is not a diamond, it is just a rock.' Just. Just."

So, Jaclyn, relax. Learn from Johnny Depp- Dream. Imagine. Have fun...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beautiful Memories with a Beautiful Friend

::Phew:: I know that this post is WAY overdue, seeing that I have been home from California almost two weeks... Oh, it is amazing how time flies!

A Tale of Two Girls
Once upon a time there were two girls. One lived in Colorado and the other was going to school in California. They met because the one at college, Dawn, began dating Matt, who was a friend of the girl, Jaclyn, in Colroado.

For many years- almost 6 to be exact- they cooresponded via snail mail, email, instant messaging and phone calls. They talked almost every day, hours at a time, sharing: stories, feelings, dreams, secrets, spiritual growth, pain, sorrow, laughter and tears.

Theirs was a relationship like none before them and none after them. They felt a deep bond that words cannot describe. The only explination either of them could give was Christ and Christ alone. He was their passion, their love and their driving commonality. He was the center of countless conversations. He was the one that allowed and ordained their paths to cross in the first place. He alone was to be praised for giving the girls to each other.

Then one day Matt asked Dawn to be his wife. They were wed surrounded by family and friends. Jaclyn, to her sorrow and distress, was not able to travel to the blessed union ceremony. A year passed... and on another memorable day they called Jaclyn and told her they were expecting their first child. Much joy and excitement was experienced by all in the celebration of a new life. Jaclyn decided it was time. It was time to purchase the plane tickets that would bridge the gap between keyboards, cell phones and envelopes.

It was time to meet her bosom friend face to face. And Dawn, of course, had no objections!

So the plane tickets were purchased for two months after the baby boy, Judah, was expected to arrive. Jaclyn figured that since she had waited so long to meet Dawn face to face, that she might as well delay that day a couple more months in order to see the precious baby her friends were to bear! The months, weeks and days seemed to drag by as they both counted down to the time when their two worlds physically united. Three months. Two months. One month. Two weeks. The clock ticked by. One week.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. This is how their last online chat ended:

(PureandSimple is Jaclyn, Opportunity is Dawn)

PureandSimple: and tomorrow we will see eachother face to face
PureandSimple: ACK!
PureandSimple: weird :-P
Opportunity: ::stunned::
Opportunity: yes
Opportunity: weird
PureandSimple: do you want me to call tonight?
Opportunity: I have no idea how I'll react now
Opportunity: only if you need to
Opportunity: or if you want to
Opportunity: I dunno!
PureandSimple: of course I want to
Opportunity: ack!
PureandSimple: but we have not talked in the phone in a while
Opportunity: or we could just save it, dear
PureandSimple: maybe it would make us feel better :P
PureandSimple: lol
Opportunity: lol
Opportunity: so you really are nervous?
PureandSimple: ok, whatever you say!
PureandSimple: yes
Opportunity: ok I"m glad
PureandSimple: and I haven't been until yesterday
Opportunity: but WHY are we nervous?
Opportunity: me either!
PureandSimple: I don't KNOW!
Opportunity: ::nervous laugh::
Opportunity: what weirdos are we
PureandSimple: maybe because we share deep, dark secrets but have never looked into each other's eyes? :)
PureandSimple: you know more about me than a lot of people
PureandSimple: but we have never met
PureandSimple: and it is just weird :)
Opportunity: and I was so gonna say something about knowing each other's deep secrets :P
Opportunity: anyway
Opportunity: you get going...I'mgonna go feed my awake son...and maybe get him back on his usual schedule
PureandSimple: alright
PureandSimple: see you tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Opportunity: I think my heart just stopped :P
PureandSimple: ack, I need to quit thinking about it :P
PureandSimple: me too!
Opportunity: me too!
Opportunity: LOL
PureandSimple: ha
Opportunity: ok
Opportunity: good BYE
PureandSimple: that's scary
Opportunity: Love you so much
PureandSimple: will we do that in person too, finish sentances???
Opportunity: and I am DEFINITELY excited now!
PureandSimple: ME TOOOOOOOOOO!
Opportunity: I knew it would come :)
PureandSimple: I love you soooo much too!
PureandSimple: BYEEEEEE!
Opportunity: don't eat chocolate ice cream tonight...I want to see you tomorrow!
Opportunity: bye!
PureandSimple: lol
PureandSimple: :P
Opportunity: ;-) bye


The day had finally arrived. My bags were packed. My tickets were in hand. I was boarding the plane in Los Angeles that would take me to the arms of the girl that knew more about me than most. I was nervous, excited and tired. The plane touched down and my stomach was in my throat. What do I say to her? Will I cry, laugh or stare? I took a deep breath and headed to claim my luggage. I peeked around the hallway into the baggage claim area but did not see Matt and Dawn. I stood waiting for my bags, looking for my friend when I spotted them walking down the hallway towards me.

My heart began beating faster as I raised my hand and waved. I could see the expression on her face was nervous excitement too and it made me feel better! I walked to her, on wabbling legs, all smiles as we embraced for the first time. We hugged for a few moments until I realized I had left all my bags unattended. Opps. I claimed my checked-in suitcase and we were off to the car.

It was an odd mixture of strangeness and normality to be in her presence. As I looked at her with my friend Matt, carrying their son, Judah, I was struck with her beauty. Her eyes are stunning. Her face when she smiles is full of joy and light. I wanted to stare at her and soak in everything about her. I knew I had five days, but that did not seem like enough time to catch up on the last six years... or to save for the next six.

It was five of the best days of my life. I will treasure them forever.

This is a picture of Dawn and Judah during a morning feeding. It was incredible to watch Dawn as a mother. She and I have known eachother since we were both young, single and dreaming of marriage. Now she IS a wife and mother. And an amazing one at that. She is gentle, fun and patient. She cares for both Matt and Judah with grace and honor. As I watched her and looked around her home I could tell that she takes joy and pride in being a homemaker. In all of our conversations she displayed herself as one who loved homemaking, but being in her home and watching her in action confirmed that she takes seriously the role of womanhood that God has given to her. She was a wonderful example, encouragement and hope for me!

Darling, fun, cuddly, cooing Judah was so much fun to play with. He is one of the most beautiful babies I have EVER seen. I am so glad that I waited until he was born to go visit!

What words can go with that picture? He is the picture of a happy, content, well-loved and cared for baby!

The Saturday I was there we went to visit the beach. It was beautiful, windy and cold. We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch on the sand while listening to the roar of the waves. It is such a relaxing, refreshing sound! Dawn and I walked to the water and it was soooo cold! Granted, it was not as cold as the river glacier water I play in here, but it was a lot colder than I thought it would be.

Matt and Dawn had asked me to watchJudah while they went to see X-Men III. I was honored and delighted to be Judah's first baby-sitter! We had a good time playing and singning. Amazingly, I took this picture of him and I looking at eachother!

Bath time!

A Palm Tree near their home... and Dawn and I in our Sunday best after church!
A view of the countryside on the way back from church.

A family picture the morning of the day I left.

The day come for me to leave and how sad I was inside to have to part from my precious friend. Every day was full of joy as I stepped into her world, held her son, teased her husband, cleaned her kitchen, cooked her dinner (with Matt- that was fun!), cooked with her, watched her TV, slept in the room next to her, walked with her, shopped with her, laughed with her, sang with her, worshipped with her, drove with her, played Mancala with her, listened to her coo with her baby, watch her cook, sit with her as she nursed, watch her talk, see her smile and gaze into her beautiful eyes.

Overall, she was exactly as I had always imagined she would be. Except... she was better! I cannot begin to describe my feelings and emotions while I was there. It was surreal. It was amazing. It was a blessing!

What do I take from my time with Dawn? So much... One, her eyes and smile. When I close my eyes I can see hers as they light up when she laughs. Two, as I looked around her home, watched her with Matt and Judah, I realized how much she delights in being a woman. She takes seriously the role of wife and mother. She is delighted to work with her hands to make sure that Matt and Judah are cared for and that Christ is honored in their home. Three, the ride to church on Sunday morning when Dawn read aloud a chapter from the book she and Matt are reading (Sacred Marriage). As I listened to her read, I soaked in her voice, influction and conviction. They are a young couple that are truly putting Christ first in their marriage and family. I knew, in words only, before I went to California, but was then able to see firsthand that it is true.

So, I will say the same thing about Dawn that she said about me: She is what she says she is. There is meat behind all she tells me about her life. She is real. She does not pretend to be perfect, she knows she is not. She does not only have outward beauty, she has beautiful depth of character. She does not just say she loves Christ, she does and you can tell. I could go on and on and on with sappy feelings. Dawn alone will be able to understand the deep emotions of what she and I experienced.

Thank you, Dawn, for being who you are. Thank you for your undying friendship over the years. Thank you for your shoulder to cry on, your listening ear, your encouragement, love and example. I had so much fun being with you. I wish it never would have ended. I didn't expect to miss you as I do. I didn't expect to feel overwhelming feelings of love for you.

You are a treasure. You always have been. You are more precious to me now than ever before.