Saturday, October 31, 2009

the ghost of halloweens past.

I keep forgetting that it is Halloween today.

Except for when my mom and I went to tea house in China Town this afternoon, and the Asian girls serving us behind the counter were dressed as a lady bug/butterfly and some sort of death victim with face scratches and a mysterious hickey.

Halloween just came up so fast this year. It sneaked up on my mom too, who ended up dressing Connor in his Batman costume from two years ago, so that he has long black socks and a long-sleeve shirt to cover up his 3/4 length sleeves and pants that come approximately to his knees. We look so rich.

Last year, I was still in college. Thus, I was planning this event for some time. You see, my roommate and best friend, Tahni and I felt the need to top any of the crazy stunts and photo albums we had previously published. And that meant taking our Halloween costumes to drastic measures. It all started in a Goodwill. Our eyes landed on wedding dresses. We looked at each other, and we knew what needed to be done.

Tuxedo pants, heels, a painted stache, and a strand of pearls later, we were on our way to win a costume contest. And win we did, my friends.

All we have left of that crazy escapade is a couple of albums of photos on facebook that will "haunt" us for the rest of our lives. But mostly just make us laugh.

I told Tahni recently that I thought about our wedding pictures during Obama's speech to high school youth in Virginia this year, when he said, "be careful what you post on Facebook." "Whatever you do," he told them, "it will be pulled up later in your life."

Fortunately, this year, Tahni really is engaged to be married. It is truly her turn to be the bride. And hopefully now, people will not mistake us for a couple.

Connor did have some fun tonight, however. While I was putting out fall decorations at the front door, he and my mom used the smaller pumpkin to carve a jack-o-lantern. This is something that my mom had been promising him for a couple of weeks.

And when that toothy grin was completed, and ready to be lit with candles and placed on the table of decorations, my mom asked Connor what he wanted to name him.
"Heather", he responded immediately.
"Heather?" my mom asked. She wanted to be sure.
"Yes, Heather."
"Okay.... Is there a reason you want to call it Heather?"
"I really like that name."

Connor, you never fail to surprise us. I love it.

Me, Connor, and Heather.

"Wedding photos" by Meghan Garner.

Friday, October 30, 2009

the west coast is calling.

Well, I am very excited right now, because I just booked a ticket to San Diego! It was my first time to book a ticket on my own, to take a trip on my own, to visit a friend. So I am very pleased.

I am going to visit my good friend, Susan, who is currently serving as an Ensign for the U.S. Navy. I have truly missed our weekly college "lunches", where we would spend hours catching up on life, family, friends, relationships and what God was teaching us.

Do you ever have people that, after spending time with them, you feel refreshed and spiritually encouraged? Susan is definitely one of those people for me. Though we had two very different college experiences - she being in the corps, and me being involved in a lot of church activities, it felt like we went through a lot of the same seasons of busyness and stress. And we learned a lot of the same things. It was great being able to encourage one another, pray for each other, and know that God was taking care of us.

I always looked forward to the end of the week when I would have lunch with Susan, and we could share/vent about everything that had happened that week, and relax some as we looked forward to the weekend. So now, I get to take a weekend in November to relax with her yet again.

I am sure our time will be full of some exciting activities and new adventures. And I am sure I will get laughed at more than once for doing something stupid along the way too. Never fails...

I have never been to California, so I look forward to getting to see and try some new things. I love getting to travel and see the way that people live in different areas. The culture can vary even from city to city - as I can see even in Houston versus Austin. So I know California will have its own unique flavor as well.

The nice lady at Continental helped me find tickets that I could cover using my miles, and she even scored me window seats both ways. Yesssss.

There is a first time for everything. California, here I come.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jesus, our healer.

Living in a house of sickness the past few days, my mind and prayers have been on healing.

My mom had a terrible case of meningitis, my dad's knee began hurting terribly so that he could barely walk, my little brother, Connor came down with swine flu, and I then caught swine flu from him.

I have been praying with Barak each night for healing from various ailments for my family members lately, as well as for others we know in our church bodies and beyond.

I know that there is tremendous power in prayer. And I know that we have a God who heals. He also honors faith in healing. To the woman who touched his cloak, to the blind man who cried for mercy, and to the persistent woman on behalf of her daughter, Jesus declared that their faith had healed them.

Throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus healed people of all kinds of illnesses and disabilities. And from his words and actions, we get the impression that he enjoyed doing so. That it was his delight to rid these poor souls of their infirmities, of those things which had been plaguing them, or their loved ones. That he desired to restore what had been broken by sin and the fall of the world. To return things, even if just for a moment during this vapor of a life on earth, to the way they were originally intended. To the way we were created to be.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:36-38.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. I remember reading this sentence one morning, and weeping. How could he look out, as a righteous and holy God, over this broken world full of disease and destruction due to our own sin, and have compassion on us? He did not feel disdain or repugnance. He did not feel anger or frustration at these people who were wandering around in ignorance. Rather, he felt compassion. And as a result, he called his disciples to action, to ask for more to lead the helpless. To show them the Way.

I am so grateful to have a God who can heal. But even more so, I am thankful to have a God who wants to heal. Who wants our faith to move mountains. And ultimately, who gives us the best kind of healing possible: permanent healing. From sin and death. The healing Jesus performed on earth was merely a physical representation of the healing he wants to do in our hearts. He gives us life anew, this one being eternal.

And we have so much to look forward to.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

faith and faithfulness.

Speaking of faith, I love the fact that my faith in Jesus is always validated by His faithfulness.

If I had to pick one term to define God's role in my life, it would be faithful. And whenever I am tempted to doubt Him, or whether I am truly His, a favorite mental recourse of mine is to remember all the times He has demonstrated His power and constant faithfulness in my life.

His provision. His guidance. His peace that surpasses all understanding.

I can look back at countless situations in my life when I know that the Lord was guiding me. When I know I accomplished things only by His power. When I am confident that He was behind certain events all the time, no matter how difficult or fruitless they seemed at the time. When I saw that only He was able to turn a bad situation into something good. Something beneficial in the end.

I am reminded of a song that I love. One of my favorite hymns is "Great is Thy Faithfulness", and Sarah Groves sings a rendition called, "He's Always Been Faithful" that is beautiful and full of truth. My dear friend Jenn used this song as she walked down the aisle, and it was such a wonderful testimony of God's grace and provision. I think if I ever were to sing a song in church, which some have encouraged me to do, it would be this one. I love the words.

I will leave the lyrics for you to enjoy...

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me.

When tempted to worry, I remember this promise.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life... Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Matthew 6:25-27.

That is so true.
Also, I hope I get to fly in heaven.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

daniel the model.

The word "faith" has been in my head a lot the past few days.

I have been reading Daniel lately, and I am simply amazed by this man's faith. Of course, his famous triumph is Daniel in the Lion's Den, the cause of which was his refusal to interrupt his Three A Day prayers to God. I bet Daniel looked forward to his time with the God of Creation like I look forward to eating my One A Day sour gummy vitamins. I don't know where these were when I was a little girl poppin the Flinstones, but I can tell you that my life has changed. I even try to convince myself that they are my dessert when I am craving sugar. And sometimes, it works.

But I see Daniel's faith developing from the very start. God "grants him favor and compassion" in the eyes of the commander of the officials, and even gives him "knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom"! I wish I had had that in college. I know that it is God who creates us, and that He grants wisdom that comes from Him, but I never think about it in terms of intelligence or academia. Makes my literature degree seem more legit somehow...

He was even able to understand "all kinds of visions and dreams". Now I don't know about you, but my last dream involved a swirling paisley storm that Connor had to hide from in a jar of peanut butter on the back porch. So in my eyes, that gift would be extremely useful.

I love the response of the Chaldeans, magicians, and sorcerers when Nebuchadnezzar asks for both his dream and the interpretation. They say that no man could declare it, no one has ever asked anything like this of them, what he asks is difficult, and...

"there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh."

Now this statement jumped out at me. The dwelling place of gods is not with mortal flesh. I am so glad that this is not true. That the God who did actually answer the king's request, who saved me from my sins, who continues to lead me today, does dwell in mortal flesh.

He physically dwelt in mortal flesh in the body of Christ, and the end result of this dwelling allows Him to dwell in us as well. His wonderful Helper dwells in us, as believers.

God's Word says that when the wise men were decreed to be slain, Daniel replied with "discretion and discernment." In faith and confidence, he asks the king for more time, trusting that the Lord will provide the answer he needs. Then he goes to Him in prayer with his friends. When he receives God's answer, He immediately praises and blesses Him, knowing that it was only by His power and authority.

I would like to model my spiritual walk to be more like Daniel's. To respond to dire situations with peace and discretion, to walk in boldness as God's child, to go to Him in prayer immediately for answers, and to respond to His provision in jubilant praise, knowing it was only possible by His hand.

I want to be be more like Daniel. And I am thankful for his example.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

okay google, take my soul...

Dear google, I converted to gmail, and often encourage others to do the same. I google to a fault. I reference google books. I use google reader to "keep myself up to date on current events", but mostly just to read friends' blogs. I love gchat. So go ahead, be my blogging provider as well. You are taking over the world, so why not my life?

I decided it was time. I have been reading and keeping up with friends' blogs for some time now. I always enjoy hearing what is new in the lives of those I love, discovering what they are learning, and simply reveling in the beauty of words and pictures which can say so much.

When asked what hobbies or activities I enjoy, I often list reading and writing among them.

Since graduating from college (whoop?), I have enjoyed the freedom of being able to read books for pleasure. That is probably my favorite thing about not being in school. Well, that and no tests.

I just remember always feeling guilty for picking up a book if it was not a textbook. But now, I can read whatever I want! Currently, I am finishing up the Mark of the Lion series. I loved the first two books, but the third has been harder to get through. I read A Thousand Splendid Suns in the middle of it.

Reading has been wonderful, but I cannot say I have been as faithful in writing. Thankfully, I get to use writing in my job currently, writing press releases, but I also feel it is important to write out what I am learning and how I am growing as God refines me. I like looking back at old journals (though I have never been consistent with them) to see where I was in life in that snapshot moment in time. I like knowing that I have matured some since then, and that God has been guiding me the whole way. Whether I was faithful or not.

I was caught by a strange older man on a bicycle one day when I tried to run into a convenience store in College Station to buy a spice for my hummus. If I came away with anything good out of that hour plus conversation, where I was trapped between my car and car door trying to escape, I am thankful. But I do remember that after I told him I might want to use writing after college, he asked me, "When did you last write?" I said, "Well, I guess a week ago or so. I had a paper due and..."
"No, no, no", he said, "If you want to write, you need to write every day. Every day."
I left feeling confused and a bit ashamed, but that admonition did stick with me.

So here I am, a blogger at last. You won, google, and crazy old man at Aggie "Kwik" Stop. You won.