Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesay In Telegram Style

I wish I could write a detailed description of "A Wednesday In My Life," but I am utterly exhausted right now and desperately in need of my bed!

Here's a brief overview of the day in telegram style:

Quiet Time

Prepared for the Day

Crazy Work Day at Care Net!

Dinner with the Family

Lots of Wedding Discussions Around the Table

Practiced Songs with Katelin for Upcoming Special Music Presentations

More Wedding Discussions with Mom at Kitchen Table (Food for the reception is proving challenging to decide on.)

Made Lunch for Work Tomorrow

Purchased Airline Ticket for Trip In December

Went to Bed!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Tuesday In My Life

6:30 a.m. - ring-ching went the alarm!
I wish I could say I felt as "ring-chingy" as my alarm sounded, but alas! It was more like yawn-yawny. :-)

As with yesterday, I started my day with prayer and Bible reading. Today's passages included more in Zechariah (that really is a fascinating little book) as well as 1 Timothy. Then, it was off to the shower!

As Mema finished toasting the bread for breakfast, I had time to glance over a few of the newspaper's headlines. The article about nuclear warheads in Iran especially caught my attention. Hmmm...maybe the "last days" the Bible speaks about are not too far away.

Breakfast finished, I packed my bags and bid farewell to Mema and Papa. Their hospitality to me every Monday night is a blessing!

My day at work began once again with a few housekeeping necessities like taking out the trash and restocking the bathroom with various items. After a brief conversation with my boss about vacation time this year, I slipped into the chapel for morning devotions. Today's chapel music included a song that I absolutely love entitled In Christ Alone. These lyrics speak so beauitfully of the entire Gospel story:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Back in the front office, I completed a few tasks like disinfecting doorknobs (it's flu season!) and printing various papers before it was time for morning prayer. Then it was on to a full work day of phone calls, computer data input, faxes, mail-outs, greeting clients, and more phone calls! I was also quite busy today assisting clients who came to watch parenting videos.

The other side of my office, viewed from my desk.

At our pregnancy center, we have a class program called "The Mercy Project." When clients attend the parenting or Bible study classes we offer on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, they earn "credits" that can be redeemed for brand new baby items in a store we have. For example, by attending one class, a client will earn 8 credits. These 8 credits can "buy" her a package of diapers or several outfits. Clients can also earn credits by watching videos from our library or checking out books.

Today, two Hispanic women came in for the last video on their list and they also wanted to visit the store. I always enjoy getting to practice my Spanish with them, and they are very patient with my feeble attempts at their language!

I thought I would give you a pictoral tour of one half of the pregnancy center (what I call the "south wing"), with the other half to follow tomorrow.

After passing through the lobby, this is the hallway you enter. Three out of four counseling rooms are locoated off this hallway as well as the board room .

Counseling Room 1

Counseling Room 2

The Board Room

This is the other hallway in the south wing.
The Ultrasound Room

The Playroom

The Maternity Closet where clients can receive free maternity clothing throughout the duration of their pregnancy.

Hannah's Closet where gently used baby clothes and other items are sorted and stored for those in need. My mom and our dear friends, the Williams, keep this room running!

More from Hannah's Closet.

After another long, but good day at Care Net, I headed home. Dinner was a lovely affair spent with my family as we sampled various sundry food items Mom was trying out for the wedding reception. Then, we sat around the table and discussed how our numbers were looking for the big event. A calculator and invitation list proved handy at this time!

Before long, a knock sounded at the door, signifying the arrival of my piano student, Ariana. She has been taking lessons here for over 3 years, and is a joy to teach! God has definitely blessed Ariana with a musical gift. She started piano with me at age 9 and has progressed quickly!
Tonight, we started with scales and Hanon exercises, followed by her musical pieces. Ariana is currently playing a Musette piece by Bach, River Flows in You by a Korean composer, and Music Box Dancer. Soon, we will be starting in on Christmas music as well as hymn improvisation.

The above video is the song River Flows In You. Ariana was gracious enough to let me film her playing, even though she only started this song 3 weeks ago. While there is much room for polishing and smoothing, she has done a great job tackling a rhymically challenging piece and playing it with feeling!

After bidding good-night to Ariana and her mom, I concluded the day with a nice, long phone call to my adopted family in Peru. It was wonderful to visit first with Sarah (18) and then with "Aunt" Becky. They are SUCH dear friends!

Well, there you have it. Tuesday in a nutshell!
Sweet dreams!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Monday In My Life

In order for this post to make sense, start out by reading yesterday's post entitled "A Lofty Ambition."

The day started out this morning as most others with the cheerful singing of my cell phone alarm. 6:00 a.m. seemed to come especially early!

I sleepily forced myself out of bed so I wouldn't accidentally fall back asleep (which I've been known to do a time or two!) and padded out to the kitchen for a drink of water to complete the waking-up process. :-)

The first hour of my day is spent with the Lord, and is a time I greatly treasure. I generally like to divide it in half between prayer and Bible reading.

Since I'm studying the book of Ezra for Bible college these days, I decided to dive into the minor prophets that lived at that same period. Haggai and Zechariah proved much easier to understand than I anticipated due to all the background knowledge I've been gleaning from Ezra. I also read a couple Psalms in my Spanish Bible for the sake of practicing Spanish. Then, I finished up with the book of Jude.

I found the whole book of Jude to be quite intruiging, but the last few verses are always favorites: "Of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."

Aren't those powerful words?

Following my quiet time, I spent the next hour going through the usual morning routine: shower, breakfast, personal grooming.

Next - "hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go!"

Monday mornings, I stop on my way to work to pick up free bread and baked goods from Kroger for the pregnancy center. Today, there were two shopping carts full, so I loaded up my trunk with the goodies!

Care Net Pregnancy Center, a Christ-centered crisis pregnancy center where I work as receptionist, is about a half-hour drive from home. I usually listen to Dr. Tony Evans on the radio while I drive. I've heard a lot of radio preachers over the years, but Dr. Tony Evans remains one of my favorites! His sermons are always full of energy, insight, humor, and great Bible teaching! This morning, he preached from the story about Jesus walking on the water, relating it to the storms that God sends into our lives to test/strengthen our faith while making His presence available in the midst of it all.

It was a timely message for me to hear considering that our family has been enduring several "storms" of late in regards to wedding preparations. It seems that we have hit one trial after another. Whether these difficulties are the result of enemy opposition towards the amazing marriage that's in the works or whether they come from God as testing points for our character/faith, I don't always know. But one thing is certain; God's presence is our refuge and it is to Him that we cling when the skies thunder and the waves roll.

Just as Dr. Evans wrapped up his message for today, I pulled into the parking lot at work.

Welcome to Care Net!

The first thing on my agenda today was to unload all the bread and arrange it nicely in the board room where clients could do a little "free shopping!"

Next, I vacuumed and tidied the lobby in preparation for a busy day.

Beyond that glass window is my desk.

This is my office. It may look quiet in the picture, but it is a regular beehive most of the time with copy machines humming, phones rining, and clients coming to the window all day long!

For the first hour before opening, in addition to a bit of housekeeping, I also checked voice mail and email, sent messages out to the staff, and spent time in prayer for the day with fellow staff/volunteers.

With the last "amen," it was 10:00 and time to open!

I spent the rest of the morning tending to all manner of responsibilities: answering phones, scheduling appointments, updating the appointment log with new counselor schedules, responding to emails, greeting clients who arrived for appointments, preparing ultrasound paperwork, and troubleshooting wherever needed.

The morning flew by, and before long it was time for my half-hour lunch break. Boy was I hungry!

I grabbed my laptop, retrieved lunch from the refrigerator, and headed back to the chapel room to work on school while I ate. I'm writing a paper right now with the assigned title, "He Retstores My Soul," and I have to quote from a multitude of verses. My whole lunch break was spent looking these verses up on an Internet Bible program and copying them over to a Word document. The original composition will have to come later!

With lunch finished, the rest of my work day was spent answering more phone calls (always!) and inputting client data into our computer database. With each client who comes for an appointment, we open a file under their name. In that file are numerous pieces of paper containing information about the client that their counselor gathered during the appointment. After the appointment is over and the paperwork has been completed, it comes to me for input into the computer. It's a time-consuming job and one that I'm always working on!

At 5:00 p.m., my work day was over. I went back to the board room to check on the bread status and found that nearly all the loaves had been taken by clients. This is always good to see! I handed out the remaining few to staff members, and then packed up for the day.

Since it's Monday, I drove to my grandparents' house where I spend every Monday night. Mema and Papa had a doctor's appointment today down at the Medical Center, so I actually arrived here a few minutes before them and let myself in with a key. Once they got home, we prepared and ate dinner together - tortellini and salad - yum! Following dinner, Papa went out to fill Mema's prescription at the drug store (she has a bad rash), while Mema and I visited at the table for a long while.

Then, I ordered them out of the kitchen while I did dishes. (Don't worry - I did the ordering nicely!) We ate dessert together while watching the final few innings of the Astro's baseball game. It was nice to see them win for a change!

I wish I had a picture of Mema and Papa to post here, but I didn't think they'd probably be up for having their picture taken after such a long day.

Now, I am sitting at the desk in their guest bedroom clicking out this post and hoping it doesn't sound too much like rambling! I don't anticipate all my posts this week being so long...but we'll see.

It's 10:30 p.m. now, and my body is longing for bed.

Thanks for joining me for a typical Monday in my life! I hope you all had a wonderful day as well. Good night!

(To see other posts in this series, "A Week in My Life," click here, here, here, here, and here!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Lofty Ambition

In case you haven't noticed, my poor blog has been rather quiet these days. Suffice it to say, I've had very little bloggish-inspiration. Add to that a very busy life, especially with a wedding on our hands. Uh --- make that a wedding which is only 6 weeks away!

Yes, my poor blog. It's the last thing on the priority list under such a pile!

But there comes a point when the blog itch returns to my fingers and something must be done!

So - what to write about?

Well, the blog over at YLCF has featured several posts of late on the topic of "a day in my life" from their various team members. Since I enjoyed reading those posts so much, I thought I'd do the same on this blog! Only instead of the topic being "a day in my life," I thought I'd try "a week in my life."

It's not that there's anything particularly fascinating or amazing about my weeks. But it's in the every-day happenings that life really takes place! And if you're anything like me, reading about these every-day occurances can sometimes be the most enjoyable.

I plan to tote my camera around with me this week and do a little snap-shooting since pictures communicate the thousands of words that I surely won't have time for. :-)

Until Monday then...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoughts From Matthew 18

"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

The question was posed by curious disciples. After all, Jesus should know! He had lived in heaven for all eternity. Who did He consider the greatest in His kingdom?


The disciples knew the stories. There were so many "great" men and women of faith that graced their history books! Surely, Jesus could tell them who the very best of them was, so they could start copying that person's way of life and win more status in Christ's eyes.

Rather than answering their question, Jesus did something very curious.

"And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them."

I'm guessing the disciples probably watched this with both bewilderment and frustration. They had just asked the Master a most important question - at least in their estimation - and here He wasn't even answering them! He didn't even seem to have heard the question!

I imagine at this point, Jesus is kneeling in front of the child speaking kind words to him with smiles. Then, He may have stood and, placing His hands on the child's shoulders, looked around at His circle of followers with a piercing gaze.

"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Converted from what? Lord, we have always followed the Jewish laws and traditions of our fathers! What is there to be converted to?

I can only imagine the questions that must have been swirling in their minds.

Become as little children?
How am I supposed to become as a child?
I am an adult now! I have been through Hebrew school, completed my Bar Mitzvah. I have a wife, and children of my own! What is this nonsense about being as a child?

Doesn't Jesus understand? The kid is cute and all, but really! We were talking about great heroes of the faith! Who is the greatest? What does this conversation have to do with anything we've been discussing???

In Jesus' estimation, the issue was not "who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The issue was, "Are you even going to be there?"

Don't get caught up with being better than another! Don't seek to be a religious celebrity. You can't be the greatest in My kingdom, if you're not even there.

Are you going?
Are you going to heaven, O disciple?

Except you be converted and become as a little child, you're not going. You shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Converted. It means to turn around; to turn back. (Sounds like repentance!) Turn around from your sin! Turn your back on the road to destruction! Go the other direction. Turn back to God, your Maker, with the humility of a child. With the neediness of a child. With the desire to be reconciled to Your Creator, the Father.

Turn away from a life of faith in your good works, in your Jewish traditions, in your keeping of the law. Be converted to faith in the Savior - the only One who can deliver you from sin, death, and hell!

Become as a little child! Children will believe anything. You tell them dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, they'll believe you. You tell them that monsters live under their bed, they'll believe you. You tell them that a jolly old man travels the world one night a year in a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer, they'll believe you.

Become as little children in the sense that you'll believe whatever God tells you. You'll believe the stories of His Word as true. You'll believe His promises no matter how impossible they seem to human understanding. You'll do as He commands because you are His child.

Finally, after voicing these more important insights, Jesus answered their question...His way.

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-4)

No name was given as to the greatest; simply a principle.

Most likey, it was the disciples' pride that motivated the question about greatness. And Jesus delivered an answer that cut right to the problem. "Whosoever...shall humble himself..."

Children are humble. They don't have hidden agendas. They don't have motivations to be famous and make it into the hall of faith. Children are children. They like to play, to work, to be needed, and loved.

I imagine that right up there with the faithful "greats" of the past, Jesus values the little boy Samuel who conversed with God in the night, the little maid from Israel who served Namaan's wife and told of the prophet in her homeland who could heal leprosy, the young boy Daniel who stayed true to God's laws in a pagan land, and the small lad who gave his lunch in child-like faith that it could feed a multitude.

Be like a child, O disciple, and you will discover the secret to greatness.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More on the Bridal Shower

Welcome to the Riddells' cozy home!

Have you ever seen such adorable decorations?

Katelin took a special liking to the groom. Hmm....I wonder why? :-)
The tables were all decorated so beautifully! It took several tables to fit the whole crowd.

Tara preparing delicious hot apple cidar.
Elizabeth made us the most gorgeous corsages!
Katelin and Mrs. Barnett, a dear, sweet friend of our family's.
Tara led us all in several fun games. This one is called, "Who Knows Katelin the Best?"

Kelly is a most talented photographer!
You can see her pictures from the day here.
One of the games we played was a competition between four teams of making the best wedding dress and veil in 5 minutes...out of toilet paper.
Making a toilet paper bouquet.

Washing dishes with a smile! :-)
The main gift of the shower was a Vita-Mix that runs on 220 voltage (necessary for Ukraine). Katelin is really excited to have this great tool for her future kitchen! Not only does it work as the most high-powered blender ever, it also works as a grain mill, and can even make steamy soup right in the container!
She was also given food supplies that aren't available in Ukraine.

A few people also blessed her with several additional gifts for her kitchen.

Thank you friends for such a wonderful party!
The Bride-to-Be had a blast...and so did the rest of us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Peek at Bridal Shower #1

Yesterday, we had a most delightful time of fellowship at Katelin's first bridal shower, hosted by our dear friends, the Riddells!

It was a wonderful day spent with sweet friends and family who wanted to bless Katelin in a special way. The Riddell ladies poured an amazing amount of thought, creativity, and hard work into the event! Their labor of love blessed us tremendously as their home overflowed with warm hospitality and the presence of the Lord Jesus. What a refreshing time it was!

More pictures and details will follow soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Love Letter From God

On Thursday of this past week, I returned to my desk at Care Net Pregnancy Center, having just finished a counseling session with one of our clients. A bright pink bag sat on my desk with a card bearing my name. Since it wasn't my birthday, my curiosity was piqued.

I opened the card and discovered that it had been written by a young Hispanic woman I didn't even know. She had come by to view one of our videos on the topic of birth and delivery and brought me this gift and card while she was at it.

Here is what the card said.

The first time I talk to you I was totally confused and lost. Knowing that I was pregnant shock me...but you were there on the phone without any idea who I was.

Today Isaac and I are very, very happy and excited about our future. We love so much this little baby girl!!! (still in the womb)

Thanks for support on the phone on May 2009.


I was amazed. Here it was four months later...and she still remembered a phone call I had long forgotten.

Holding her precious note in hand, I read it again and felt as though the card had come directly from God as a reminder of His love.

Inside the bag was a set of candles that smelled heavenly. The box the candles came in contained the words, "New Beginnings." How appropriate.

A little while later, Roxana came by the front office on her way out. We had the chance to visit. With the the radiant glow of an expectant mother, she showed me pictures from her last 3-D ultrasound of the beautiful baby girl who is growing inside of her. Roxana is due to deliver in less than two months.

Thank You Lord for the reminder that You are always at work in ways I could never imagine. Help me to never underestimate seemingly "small" opportunities for sharing Your compassion with others.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And now...the rest of the story!

I finally finished uploading all my pictures from Haiti to a Picasa web album. So...if you want even more details from the trip, click here!

Worth a Chuckle!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Glimpse of Miami

Upon our arrival back on American soil from Haiti and the D.R., Bridgette and I realized that we had a 4-hour layover in Miami. Since the idea of sitting around the airport for so long definitely did not appeal to us, we decided to be adventurous and get a glimpse of the Miami Bayside while we were there. (I had never seen Florida before!) We secured maps, talked to the man at the airport bus station, and before we knew it, were seated on a Metro bus heading downtown - and feeling very grown up about it all!

(I have taken public transportation numerous times in other countries - but never in my own!)

After a 45-minute jaunt to the downtown bus stop, we hopped off and walked two blocks to the Bayside where shopping, eateries, and beautiful water abounds! We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to drink in the sun and sights. Lunch on the water was delightful - then it was back to the bus stop to catch our return bus to the airport.

What a contrast to the hovels of Haiti.

It was a grand way to end the whole adventure!