Sunday, September 30, 2007

The heart of God

Today, I had lunch at McDonald's with my grandfather, uncle, and three youngest cousins. The youngest of all, Nolan, three-year-old, shared his art project: a big, blue fish with Jonah inside. This colorful and surprisingly precise picture prompted a discussion on the rest of the story. Nolan was amused to discover that after three days and the repentance of stubborn Jonah, the big fish spit him out onto dry land! What appetizing dinner conversation, indeed.

As Nolan went back to his chicken nuggets, I reflected a bit more on the rest of Jonah's story that is not typically included in the average Sunday school lesson. Though Jonah did go to Nineveh, as instructed, to pronounce judgement on it (and--in fact--bring repentance. That's what God can do!), he was cranky and self-righteous. He couldn't believe that God would forgive and bring new life to such a guilty people. He sulked on the outskirts of town under the shade of a vine provided by the Lord until it shriveled up. Jonah was not happy with this moment either.

In the face of this man with whom many of us could relate, God showed His heart in Jonah 4:10-11.
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did
not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But
Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their
right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned
about that great city?

The story of Jonah and the journey through which God took him is fascinating and makes for a great lesson. But one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture comes after the popular narrative. God cares so deeply for and deals so gently with those He yearns to save. His perspective is not defensive or insecure, but omniscient. He sees them as not knowing their right hand from their left, lost, and desperately needing a savior. Such compassion is beautiful! This same God cares for me today, too. He asks me then to love others as He loves me-with compassion and grace.

Pretty profound for a Happy Meal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's an honor to invite others.

I enjoyed my first official appointment with prospective ministry partners last night! It was a wonderful time of laughter, sharing, love, and encouragement. It is a privilege to invite others to join God in His work in me and in Hungary! Others will receive blessings as they trust God to care for their needs and recognize His desire for their lives and finances. Time to get back to it.

Love to all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

O me, to be in class!

I miss my students. I miss the much-repeated question, "Why are we learning this?" and the look of understanding as the story comes to a close. Teenagers are a marvelous breed of human--exuberant, creative, funny, and open to those who care about them.

Well, for now I will simply pray for former students now in college and future students spread all over the world. And--since I am an English teacher without an audience--I think I'll leave you with a little Whitman. No pop quiz or sentence diagrams from me, just this from Leaves of Grass:

O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here--that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

the new normal

Whew! I am back from New Staff Training near the Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters. I have officially been commissioned by Campus Crusade for Christ as an International Representative, so everything is in place to develop ministry partners. I am terribly excited about this new stage in life. My awareness of dependence on God is heightened. My sense of purpose for Budapest and also for the Body of Christ here is strengthened. And finally, my valuable time of waiting is over. A whole new version of "normal" life has taken over, and I must say that I totally dig it.

Training itself was intense and exhausting but amazing and thorough. I am so thankful for the care and wisdom of the CCCI staff. Fellowship with fellow new staff was sweet. Some highlights: darling roommates I will love forever, a wonderful couple who currently live 12 miles from me, a supportive group of international ministry folk headed to all kinds of places including Germany (near me!), a young woman from the Ukraine who seriously considered the truth of Christ for the first time, and the gift of time with people who love God and each other.

Now, I am back in El Paso forging ahead with the hope of getting to Budapest by the end of December in order to teach this coming semester. Please join me in prayer for this goal. It is far quicker than most support schedules predict, but God is able to do much more than I could ever ask or imagine. Please also pray for my personal schedule--that it would be focused, purposeful, diligent, and joyful as I get to share what God is doing in Central Europe with those who surround me and as I catch up with friends far and near.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The time has finally come, and I am attending the much-anticipated Campus Crusade for Christ New Staff Training!! Why am I not sharing the beautiful moments and piercing lessons of these ten days? Good question. Our fabulous hotel charges $10 per day for WiFi! My poor little laptop has been in its case all week. How quickly I have grown accustomed to it.

The teaching and fellowship as well as the bold outreach opportunities have been wonderful as we are learning to glorify God and prepare for the new version of "normal" life on international staff with CCCI.

I got here on Friday, September 7 and will be back at the 'rents' house on Sunday, September 16 to begin developing ministry partners. Thanks so much to those who have been with me since May!!

Love to you all. I can't wait to share what God is doing and how you too can join in!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I am so glad that salvation is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and not on my feelings in the moment. Life purpose does not sway with a whim or an insecurity. Today, I had to face some troubles in my heart as around me circumstances didn't look "easy" for this whole international ministry thing. I had to consider that at the same time, I am of incalculable significance because of the Holy Spirit in me and of no worth whatsoever because of anything I can offer--and that's a great thing. Security is in Christ alone. And He is more than enough.