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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Homecoming.

Let me just start out by saying that I have been exhausted lately. Like I-can't-keep-my-eyes-open-please-let-me-take-a-nap-at-school exhausted. So when we had early release yesterday, I naturally used my extra afternoon time at home for a much-needed nap (after unsuccessfully trying to read some more of Twilight, which has taken surprisingly forever for me to read). I set my alarm for 4pm. A 45-minute nap is long enough, right? Wrong. I woke up at 7. Ah, but it was nice.

Fast forward to my actual point. Since we were already planning on going to the homecoming football game, we went (despite better judgment that warned of ridiculous crowds and obnoxious middle schoolers). I don't know if it's just our community or if this problem has simply become more widespread in recent years, but when did it become commonplace for parents to live so vicariously through their children? I don't really have the time nor desire to get on my soapbox about this "Child Worship" or the "self-esteem movement" right now, but it's getting to the point of absurdity. People disgust me.

On a better note, it's a good idea to go to Chicken Express right before they close.
Here's what we actually ordered:
  • chicken tender snack pack (2 tenders and mashed potatoes),
  • a 4 tender dinner (4 tenders, mashed potatoes, and a large sweet tea),
  • and a small side of fried pickles (don't judge, they're surprisingly good).

Here's what we got:
  • 12 tenders,
  • 2 family-sized mashed potatoes,
  • a family-sized order of fried pickles,
  • 2 fried pies,
  • and the rolls, which I still can't decide if I like the switch from biscuits.

So here's to gluttony.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update.

Since it seems I post approximately twice a YEAR, it appears to be about that time. That's right, folks (or, uh, "folk" since Matt will probably be the only one who reads this)... it's update time!

First things first, after my last post (i.e. after our return from Venezuela), we went straight into Charlie Brown mode. Maybe I should be more specific. Okay, back up... Kendra, Matt, and I (and countless others!) took on a seemingly-harmless project starting, oh, around January when we decided that we would start a theatrical community outreach through our church. That "simple" project turned into a much bigger production, resulting in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which surprised (almost) everyone with three nearly-sold-out performances at the end of July. I like to think that we dreamed pretty big with the project from start to finish, but in reality, I have to step back and realize that God had better plans (imagine that...). He brought the church together for a common goal, got the church out into the community, and overall accomplished his work despite our best efforts.

Somewhere in the middle of musical madness (and as a direct result of Matt's persistence), we adopted the most precious little mutt ever from the SPCA. Okay, so we think she's a lab/chow mix, but it's taken us a couple of months to finally come to that conclusion. (Truth be told, sometimes I think she's also part Tasmanian devil, but that's another story.) Her name is Nutmeg (aka Meggie) and she's now 5 months old. Isn't she the most precious thing you've ever seen? She loves: car rides, vet appointments, playing chase after stealing socks and underwear, taking walks, meeting new friends, and peeing on said friends. She hates: being brushed, taking baths, and being alone. By the way, to all the people I ever made fun of for treating their dogs like their children: I officially apologize.

Summer ended WAY too fast, thus bringing us to the beginning of school. Did I mention that I changed classrooms? Note to self: do not move entire teaching-life without help. I love my new room, but quite honestly, this year has been weird. My first class of sophomores is now in college, my favorite class of sophomores is now seniors, I'm in my fourth year of teaching (still can't believe time has gone by so quickly), and the feeling that I can change the world has worn off. Don't get me wrong, I do love my job and I don't know what else I'd rather do as a profession (yet), it's just that the first-year enthusiasm has diminished while reality is slowly setting in. I've learned that: there really are some kids I can't reach, you can't force motivation, some teachers will always be negative and incompetent, and there really is such a thing as a stupid question (namely if I've answered it 5 times previously). On a better note, I love my teaching team (yay, English II!) and I do have some pretty great students. I can't complain.

Last thing, I promise. Fall is my favorite season, and more specifically, I adore the month of November. Seeing as how I live in Texas, I know I miss out on the brilliant color changes one might see in New England, but I love that even in this season-less state, fall still represents change. We shift gears from off-season to in-season soccer, we enter "the holidays," it gets relatively cool outside, I get my cool weather clothes out of the attic, there are changes in governmental leadership, and it always seems like something unexpected happens every autumn.

Let's see what this one brings...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Missions is Not God's Ultimate Goal, Worship Is

I know it's been awhile since I blogged, but I was inspired to put my thoughts in writing because we just returned to the U.S. after spending 10 days on a church planting trip on Margarita Island in Venezuela. Our team (comprised of many from Grace Church and others around the country) saw the Lord do amazing things, however, He's put a lot on my mind over the past few days.

This was my fifth international mission trip, and I don't mention that to boast at all, I mention it because my emotions after returning home after a "mountaintop experience" such as a mission trip have run the gamut.

I remember that after my first trip in 2002, which was to Venezuela, there were so many stories I wanted to share with anyone who would listen. I was incredibly emotional and excited about the work of God and when other people weren't equally excited, I was offended and took it personally. I wanted to immediately go back to where my emotional high took place because "no one here in America could possibly understand."

Three years after that first experience, I went on my third trip, this time to Romania to teach English for two weeks. I came back to the United States with a renewed vision for the future, believing that at some point God would call me to live overseas and teach English. (For the record, Matt and I are still completely open to that possibility.)

This brings me to my current state. Bear with me by first reading a quote from John Piper's book, Let the Nations be Glad:

Missions is not first and ultimate: God is.

This truth is the life blood of missionary inspiration and endurance. William Carey, the father of modern missions, who set sail for India from England in 1793, expressed the connection:
When I left England, my hope of India’s conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on the sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God’s cause will triumph.
Carey and thousands like him have been moved and carried by the vision of a great and triumphant God. That vision must come first. Savoring it in worship precedes spreading it in missions. All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions is not that goal. It is the means and for that reason it is the second greatest human activity in the world.

It's so easy to get caught up in pointing others toward Christ that our passion becomes "winning souls for Christ" and "going into all the world to share the gospel." Please don't get me wrong. We were commanded to do so in Matthew 28:19-20, but let's not forget that the Lord Himself should be our number one priority. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). And in remembering this, let's also keep in mind that Jesus Christ made an impact in his own community by living among the people and serving them in love. We're all given an opportunity right where we're at to love people and serve them, just like Jesus did. When did it become less important to minister to those right around us that we feel like the only way to serve the Lord is to go to a foreign country? There are countless people that I come into contact with every single day, and I simply overlook the opportunity to be "salt and light."

I'm getting a little rambly, but I just wanted to share my conviction to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and to "love your neighbor as yourself" no matter where that may be.

**If you're interested in reading more from Let the Nations be Glad, there's an excerpt at http://www.reallifeboston.com/getinvolved/LetTheNationsBeGlad.pdf