Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Thoughts

There are so many thoughts accumulating as I've entered this new life. So many. But I will start here:

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' "

Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands."
Haggai 1:1-11

This was the passage my new pastor preached on this morning. He's been doing a series called "Little Books that Pack a Big Punch". He began by telling the story of his family in Colorado - they spent a week there mainly for the purpose of hiking. It was rainy, cold, and at one point started to snow (in August). As the sun came out the snow melted, which created ice. (All this while they were trying to hike.) At one point, someone in his family said "I hate this!" They were out that day expecting to have a wonderful time together as a family in the beautiful setting of the Colorado Mountains. Instead they ended up cold, wet and miserable.

I think you might know where I'm going with this.

Sometimes we start with an end goal in mind, usually a goal that will make us happy and a goal that we feel is God's will. We typically want to make the journey to get their a happy one, too. Sometimes that journey is not what you expect it to be. The Israelites were building their own houses and not the Temple. They faced opposition in their initial attempts to rebuild, and assumed it was not God's timing to continue on. So they chose to focus on their own homes instead. When God's blessings didn't increase as their worked on their homes - guess what? Their expectations were not met.

I think God wanted me to hear this message this morning because my journey this far is not what I want it to be, and before I arrived in the sanctuary this morning my heart was frustrated by this. In fact, I was angry and disappointed things weren't going my way.

Then I realized this journey may not be what I expect, and that it may not even be fun. But I must enjoy God, enjoy his people, and remember that following God's will does not always promise a simple or easy road to walk on.


Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be your name

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Promise

Wednesday night on my way to church for my last praise team rehearsal, I accidentally took my usual route, forgetting that two weeks ago my usual exit was closed for construction. So instead of taking an alternate route I ended up having to drive about 4-5 miles out of my way. And as I turned the corner and drove down this strange road I realized why.



I was overcome with emotion. (That tends to happen when I'm driving.) I had to pull over, pause, take a picture and let my heart be filled. I don't think I've ever been so scared and so worried about anything in my life as I am about moving to St. Louis, starting a new job and beginning my seminary education. I'm not having second thoughts; I'm not even worried that I might have made the wrong decision. I'm worried about how I will adjust, and how I will make a new and completely different life for myself. I will be desperate for my home, my friends, my family and the comfort my current life provides. I am worried I will let that become too much for me.

So basically, I just think the next two years will be too hard for me handle.

But then this rainbow appeared. It appear in front of me and all five colors were breathtaking and they disappeared up into the clouds. Then God reminded me that this next step is what he made me for, and the joy of what is to come rushed over me.

"Nothing worth doing is ever easy", I wrote years ago in a goodbye letter. And for the last few weeks I'd forgotten that truth. I took the wrong way to praise team rehearsal because God wanted to remind me how much he loves me and how abundant his promises are. He will never leave me nor forsake me, though I've done that to him many times. His grace is enough to cover me...

And I will stand on that promise.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Boys Town Gang

Can't Take My Eyes Off of You



This was the best 4 minutes of my day.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

I brought you in the world and I can take you out.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Reason #4 Why I Love Nebraska



The corn.

The picture was my view as a child. I grew up on a farm, and spent my summers irrigating with my brother. I'd pick up irrigation socks, watch him fix pivots, and driving through corn fields like this one.

When the sweet corn was tasseled out and ready to be "put up" as my grandma would say, we'd gather all the neighbors' kids and whatever cousins would be staying with us for the week and hop on the back of my dad's truck with huge Rubbermaid trash cans. He'd set us loose in the field, with the object of filling up the trash can and dumping it in the back of the truck until it was full. Back and forth we'd go, racing to fill up the truck. Foxtails would stick to the bottoms of our jeans and socks, mud would cake our shoes, and the early morning breeze would keep us cool... but not clean.

I remember the smell of raw sweet corn... sweet and juicy. But the smell of the cornfield always made me sneeze and by the time the back of the truck was full I would be stuffed-up and miserable.

Dad would drive us back home after the truck was overflowing with picked corn. We'd sit on the edges of the pickup's back end and we'd start shucking away, watching the husks and silk blow away in the wind. In the back of the truck we'd stay, until all the corn was shucked. Then I'd get stuck cleaning the corn in the ice cold water... brushing and scrubbing the silk away. (It drove me crazy!).

10 minutes of boiling and another 10 minutes of cooling later, the electric knife would come out, and the corn would come off the cob and be vacuumed sealed into bags for freezing. Piles and piles of bags are what I remember... and the smell of cooked sweet corn. And sticky hands. Really sticky hands.

I will miss the corn.