Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sojies 2009

2009 Sojies

To be honest I wasn't really keen on doing this this year, but I'm a sucker for tradition and this is year four.

I'm not sure I can pin a specific moment. Not in a debbie downer way, but I'm not sure. I took a couple of personal days to just go out and spend time outdoors, which was wonderful and provided me a lot of clarity and re-centering.

My church firing the preacher I loved and the ensuing (and ongoing) consequences.

Perseverance is hard.


SONG FOR 2009?
"Still" by Zoe Group has meant a lot to me.

I don't know. Um... Benjamin Button or Up. I'm not sure if Benjamin Button came out this year, but I saw it this year.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller really impacted me.

30 Rock is hilarious to me. I'm compare myself to Liz Lemon too often. I also finally caught up on Lost, which was fantastic.

There were times I should have kept my mouth shut.

Several times I had to purposefully decide to do nothing and wait. I'm terrible at that, but it was the best decision.

Church has changed a lot. Work has changed a lot.

Keep on keeping on.

To do better. To balance work and relaxation. To abide.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Joy to the World

I am a serious Christmas elf. Post-Thanksgiving I totally get into the holiday spirit.

I've been thinking about why that is, and I think it's because this is the time for hope. It feels magical- like anything can happen.

And maybe it feels like that because of the stories, the decorations, the traditions... but to me it's because 2000 years ago God fulfilled a promise that came in the most unlikely, unsuspected turns of human history. And if God can bring the greatest joy to the world and live and dwell among us in that way, then I can be hopeful that he will fulfill good things in my life that I can't even begin to anticipate.

Joy to the world, indeed. :)

I shot this video last week and it's been stuck in my head since then. Can't say that I have minded, though. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Entering courts with praise

Ah Thanksgiving. In years past I have made up a little excerpt of things for which I'm thankful, but this year I want to take a slightly different approach.

I am so thankful for worship. I feel like the Lord has opened up my heart to be able to worship him more fully in the past few years. And I've realize it truly is a gift of God.

A few months ago one of the ministers at our church was preaching on healing at a very difficult time, and he talked about how, as he looked around the auditorium, he felt like some people were finding their only peace in worship. When they worshiped, they were able to transcend the weight of the world that holds us down and meet God.

I am so grateful that the Lord provides such beautiful music to bless both us and Him. That there are people who have gifts for leading others in worship. I'm thankful for the revival that is bringing the singing of scriptures back into worship. I'm thankful for the freedom to show emotion in worship. I'm just so thankful for those moments of joy and solace.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reasons to not blog

As I've hinted at before, this has been kind of an eventful year. At the same time, this year I have become an uber-lame blogger here at ol' Surprised by Joy.

I've thought about why this might be, and I have two main theories.


I use this blog as a reflective place. Writing is therapeutic for me to process through events and happenings, understand them better, understand myself better. However, through the trials of this year I am not quite to a place of reflection with many of the situations yet. I'm still in the thick of it.

I can't tell you how many drafts sit in my little queue from the past year. Dozens. I have written so many blog posts that I just can't finish. I don't know how to finish them, because the situation isn't resolved in my mind. If they can't resolve in my mind, I can't resolve them in writing.


Sometimes it's not appropriate to write about things on a public blog. Well, that's my opinion at least. Church, work, friendships- these things aren't really conducive to playing out on a public internet forum.

This is also something I think about down the road. I'd love to write a memoir or non-fiction piece about my time in Japan, but when my stories involve real people, how can I do that fairly? When anyone writes about actual situations, they are writing their perspective on the person, place, time, and actions- not necessarily factual. It very literally plays out the cliché that perception is reality.


These are all things I'm trying to balance. Because of my work, everyday I see people play out situations and say things online that I think they will probably regret one day, and I don't want to be that person.

Hopefully in the months to come as situations resolve I'll be able to look back in hindsight and have more to say. Thanks for sticking with me regardless. :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Turner Falls

As a preemptive strike against going crazy during this busy week, yesterday I took the day off and went down to Turner Falls. I'd never been, and it was blissful. I went on the PERFECT day- weather was perfect, foliage was perfect, and there were maybe 15 other people I ran across the entire day. Thank you Lord!

Here are some of my favorite pics. All of them can be seen in my Turner Falls Album.

The first thing I noticed and was entranced by all day were the falling leaves floating along in the water.

And of course the waterfalls. Turned the corner and there it was... breathtaking.

And I met some little bug friends.

This little guy car surfed on my windshield for quite a while!

This was a "messed up" shot that I thought turned out really cool.

And of course... sunset.

What a glorious day! I kept just singing to myself and God all day long, since no one was really around to hear me. Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

71 Days

71 days. That's how long this year has to turn it around.

I'm not going to lie. 2009 has been rough. I feel more strongly about it than that, but I'm trying to not fall entirely into the swirly twirly darkness of self pity.

But back to the issue at hand- 2009. It just feels like it's been blow after blow- emotionally, physically, spiritually, and professionally. Probably least of all professionally, but that in and of itself has so skewed my worldview. Since when do I look to my job for stability I can't find in any other area of my life? That is so not me.

I was telling someone the other day that this year my faith has taken a beating more than any other, including the years I was so sick. It feels like that was one large trauma, whereas this year has been a multi-front attack.

And it's just exhausting. Everytime I feel like I start to secure my footing, something else- usually major more than minor- flies out from under me. I'm just overwhelmed.

I've tried for quite a while to avoid the pronouncement of flushing the entire year down the proverbial toilet, but sometime last month that dam just burst and now I can't get it out of my head. And the bad part about that is it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, ya know? So that is a catch 22. If I keep saying 2009 sucks, then I'll focus on only the sucky things that happen.

So hence the title. 2009 has 71 days for something(s) fantastic to redeem itself.

I'll be watching and waiting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Letting go

Sunday I said a very tearful and sad goodbye to one of my best friends. One of those rare, true friends.

This may sound strange given the past few years, but this is one of the hardest friend goodbyes I can ever remember saying. I've said my fair share over the past few years, but most of them were by my own choosing as I moved hither, thither and yon. And that is different, because when you're on the leaving side, you have many new, wonderful adventures awaiting you, as I know my friend does.

It's hard to not be selfish. I want to be sorry for myself as she leaves. Growing up also means you realize what a treasure true friends are. This year especially has been so difficult, and she offered such stability and security when it felt like everything was falling apart.

But I can't wait to see what the future holds for her. She's following her dreams and the path God has laid out. And even though it is so painful to let go, my prayer is that my joy for her future will be greater than my own sorrow at her loss. And I think it is.

Perhaps that should be my prayer for the year. That the joy of hope will outweigh the sorrow of loss.

*Interestingly enough, this picture was taken the day that we met.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's your story

It's amazing what an encouraging word will do.

A few weeks ago I was telling one of my favorite stories from Japan to Scott Lamascus, who was chair of my department from OC when I graduated, and the next day I received a hand written note via campus mail from him, encouraging me to write my stories down.

Also, last week I heard Donald Miller speak (via the webstream from ACU's Lectureships), talking about the importance of story- ours and the world's- in spirituality.

This is something I have been meaning to do for a loooong time. Especially the Japan stories. Now I'm almost 5 years removed, which has given me time to percolate the experience. It's also fresh enough that I can still remember the stories with some clarity.

It's already more daunting than I could have anticipated. But rather than cower away from it like I have done every time before, I'm going to try to journey through this.

Not sure how this is going to play out on the blog, but who knows. Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lake House Pt. 2

I also went inner tubing for the first time ever this weekend. Whee! It was a little more intense than I imagined. I think I pulled a muscle in my sternum.

Never did I imagine one of my elders would be flying across a lake on an inner tube with me! Haha... what a blast.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

This was pretty much the story... I held on for dear life while Steve was a pro.

We bonded!

Rebecs was good!

Here was our weekend theme:

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Lake House Pt. 1

No, not the stupid movie with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. This is my awesome weekend with two of the elders and their wives from my church and several good friends.

My friend Tara won a weekend lake house getaway at the missions auction earlier this year. We were hosted and spoiled by the Hopkins and the Odors, and had a blast.

Here are some photo highlights. My grandad taught me to fish at an early age, and apparently I haven't lost my skills. :) I caught the first three from the boat in short order! Woo hoo! And no, I wouldn't touch the fish. Eeeeew.

Doesn't it look blissful? Aaah.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

People like cats

A message from Penny Lane.

I hear that your blog has been a little heavy lately. I disapprove.

If the internet has taught us anything, it's that people like cats. Such a shame I'm bashful.

PSYCHE! Here I give you pensive.

I call this one blue steel.

Okay, this is absurd. Photo session over.

Back to your regularly scheduled drivel.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Christians and the internet

I work on the internet. Rather than a technical job, mine is almost like a sociologist, observing how people behave and use the internet, especially to interact. Let's just say I have some experience in observing online behavior. These are some things I've seen that are "part of the job" for me as a marketer, but deeply concern me as a Christian.

And from this I have concluded that the internet is one of the the biggest temptation sinkholes for Christians.

Nope, not talking about p0rn0graphy. Not online gambling or even internet addiction. I'm talking about sins much more subtle than those. These are the sneaky sins that bubble to the top of Christians' internet usage which we overlook or accept.

Let me preface that I have struggled with all these, and some I still do, although my job has been therapeutic for many of these since I see the bad fruit of them daily.


No, you may not be spreading stories about people online, but do you read tabloid blogs? You are giving them your attention and mind share. And frankly, each time you visit you are putting money in their pockets by triggering the ads on their site. Might as well buy the Enquirer. They are profiting from your curiosity.

Remember my Facebook sabbatical? I also touched on this there. Maybe you're not telling stories about people, but do you try to put together pieces of their private lives from what you "overhear" online?

Here's another- do you spread information without making sure it's factual? This happens often in email. is a great resource to make sure what you're saying is true. Take a second to check before you pass it on.

Passive aggression

Blogging hit mainstream about 5-6 years ago. With blogging people found an easy way to express their thoughts to virtually the whole world. In some ways this is a powerful, unifying tool. But as with any good thing, Satan is able to counterfeit it to use it for evil.

I manage our university bloggers, and this year I've added a clause in my guidelines about passive aggression. I shouldn't have to, but because of the example set by so many people in "the world" AND "the Church", I felt I should. I basically state- "If you have a problem with someone, you will not use your blog as a vehicle to vent or rant against them. You will deal with them as the Bible instructs in Matthew 18. I will be more than glad to walk through that with you."

Do you write things for an audience about a person, a business, an organization that you wouldn't say to their face? Do you handle conflicts in a manner worthy of Christ, or do you do publicly disgrace them? (This is one I struggle against daily and still fall into; Twitter is like a petri dish for this right now in the name of "customer support".)

And here's one I see a lot. Do you anonymously comment on blogs and say things that you would never attach your name to? If you won't attach your name, then you need to seriously re-think what you're saying. Seriously.


I work in marketing, which is the hub of self-promotion and self-righteousness. Well, I guess it rivals ministry in that way. Heh... sad joke.

Anyway, it's good to have healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, but to call someone out for the purpose of making yourself look better is not right. It is pride in its purist form. Again, I touched on this in my last blog about a balanced work ethic. Pride and humility are enemies. You can't serve two masters.

In conclusion (wow this is a long blog), my advice to you would be the same as what I'm constantly reminding myself (with varying degrees of success depending on the day and my mood).

If you hesitate, don't post it.

If you wouldn't say it in person, don't type it.

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. :)


Sorry to ride the soap box, but this is what I deal with day in and day out and has been heavy on my heart lately. Sometimes the whole "being in the world but not of it" is hard!

What do you think? Am I the only one who struggles with these? Did I forget any that are common?

Let's hold ourselves to accountability and honor God with how we conduct ourselves online.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Balanced Work Ethic

As a teenager, I never was really typical. Yes, I had more than my share of immature moments and impulses, but for the most part I kept my head on my shoulders pretty well. So when it came time for young adulthood, I mentally psshaw-ed the fact that I would succumb to the temptations that come with early professional life.

I feel very blessed to have a job I enjoy and that I do well. I never really expected for either of those things to happen. But still I find myself at a crossroads of deciding where this road is going to lead. Not my career path, necessarily, but what kind of a person am I becoming as I develop professionally.

Sometimes I think, "I should really invest this time that I'm single and childless into doing the long hours and heavy legwork into laying the foundation for my career." Well, that may be true, but at the same time I don't want to look back at this time and life and realize that my primary focus and accomplishment was professional. I want to look back and say, "Thank God that I was sowing seeds of righteousness to grow in my relationship with God!"

Now I'm not saying that pursuing a successful career and a relationship with God are mutually exclusive. They aren't! I believe and pray that my career successes (and sometimes failures) grow out of my faith. I believe firmly that any skills I have are not my own, but something God has entrusted me with at this time to glorify His name.

I think one of the ways I can glorify His name by being good at my job is by not doing business the way the world does. Already (and in increasing measure) I am finding myself doing battle with the beasts of pride and jealousy. In hindsight, it was so naïve to think that I would be above these, but I almost daily catch myself responding with anger to some way I feel someone is slighting me or disrespecting me. It's such an ugly thing, and I want to emphasize it is a constant battleground.

I've also faced the fact that sometimes, if you choose to die to yourself and live the way of Christ, you will lose by earthly measurements to those who act only in their own interest.

But I have great peace with the fact that regardless of what happens, and no matter how difficult it may be at times, if I sow the seeds of righteousness now in my professional life, there will be a spiritual harvest to reap. But really, tilling up the ground is the hardest part. And this is only a process I am now beginning. Many more rows to hoe!

Don’t be misled- you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
-Galatians 6:7-9

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wildlife Refuge

This weekend I skipped out of urban life and went to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Lawton, Oklahoma.

I went hiking, although that was not nearly as serene or peaceful as I might have imagined seeing as how it was 100+ degrees and I forgot sunscreen. :) But I still had a great time! It was so enchanting to see purebred longhorn and buffalo up close! And I saw some of them quite up close.

I had a slight mental breakdown at about 2pm when I was sooooo hot and tired and realized I was getting sunburned, but by about 5:30pm I was back in the game and made one last victorious feeling hike up to the tower by Lake Jed Johnson for a beautiful view in golden light.

If you go, I recommend you check out the lakes (Quanah Parker was my favorite), Mt. Scott, and the Parallel Forest.

Below are a few of the keeper pictures I took. You can also click here to see them.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And then I prayed some more

At the same time of transition and prayer, several other key things were happening as well.

As I mentioned previously, my church was going through a very tumultuous time. Our singles ministry took the summer of 2007 and visited each elder and wife in their home and prayed over them. It was awesome in a very holy sense of the word. The Spirit was so moving and the presence tangible. It was one of the first times I felt the power of prayer.

Because of the experience of prayer in this setting, I wanted to learn more about prayer. I started scouring the scriptures. And in case you were wondering, the Bible says a lot about prayer. :)

My prayer life to this point had never been strong. I would classify it somewhere around average, and I believe it was very weak. But to read how all of God's children- especially those who were pursuing the Lord's heart- lived and breathed prayer made me realize that I was missing something great.

Our class at church was studying Acts with the specific perspective of considering it not "The Acts of the Apostles" as it is commonly known, but instead "The Acts of the Holy Spirit". I felt like Paul after his conversion in Acts, when the scales fall from his eyes and he can see again after being blinded. It was like a new Bible with fresh stories. I can't explain this other than through the Spirit, because I had been a diligent student of the Bible all of my life. For goodness sakes, I had a degree in it! ;) (As I re-read this paragraph, I realize just how much I did have in common with Paul [sans persecuting the church])

One story that I remember being especially striking to me at this time was in Acts 12. James had just been killed, Peter is imprisoned and the church is in a time of persecution. The church had gathered at Mary's house to pray, and the Lord intervenes, Peter is freed by an angel, and he shows up at the prayer meeting. But the church is shocked when he shows up.

The church prayed, and it changed things. Not in a psychotherapy, self-help, placebo effect way, but in a real way. And this happens over and over and over in the Bible.

So I kept reading the Bible with these fresh eyes, and the Lord continued to turn my little world upside down.

To be continued. Again. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Your kingdom come

The past two years of my spiritual life have been beautiful and difficult and wild. For whatever reason, I finally feel called to kind of journal through or talk about some of those things that have happened here.

2007 was a very transitional year. In January I had decided not to move back to Brazil, then moved back to Oklahoma City. Much of that year was spent looking for and changing jobs and trying to figure out what my career path would be. I started attending my church at a very tumultuous time in their history. I joined a :::gasp::: singles ministry. It was a difficult time in the amount and intensity of change, but it was also a very blessed time.

I remember in July of 2007 I was unemployed, and it was terrible. I was so depressed. But every morning I would walk around my neighborhood and pray. And in particular I would pray the Lord's prayer and meditate and elaborate on each phrase as I felt compelled. And I remember so often being stuck on the phrase "your kingdom come."

So often I would repeat that phrase- Your kingdom come, your kingdom come. And I'd ask the Lord to open my heart to what it meant. Since I've always had a heart for oppressed people, I thought perhaps it was about that- bringing the justice of the Lord to the earth. But little did I know what I was praying for and the answers I'd soon receive.

To be continued. :) But in the meantime, what does "Your kingdom come" mean to you?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Freely you have received

It's been a year since I got back from Honduras, so you know what that means...

Not the most flattering picture, but woo hoo!

So happy to be able to donate again!

As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. -Matthew 10:7-8

Monday, August 03, 2009

Family Photo Friday- Dearly Beloved

Now that looks like a couple who is going to have some beautiful children. :)

What, you say? It's not Friday? I don't know what you're talking about...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Facebook Sabbatical

If you don't use Facebook this may not make any sense.

I'm a little bit impulsive. Those who knows me well know this. So it came as no surprise to me when Friday morning on the way to work I was struck with an impression- to shut down my Facebook page for a while. It felt like a pretty strong compulsion, so by the time I got to work I was pretty resolved. I thought it was temporary, but wasn't sure how long it would be. So by Friday afternoon I deactivated my account.

More people than I anticipated mentioned it, so I thought I might take a moment to explain why I wasn't surprised when I got the impression and chose to follow it.

First being I work in "social media." This is the Facebook, the Myspace, the Twitter... :) And so when you do something at work, it become very wearing to use it also at home. I'm not going to burn out in my career that way.

The next points are going to incorporate things I have learned through my work in social media in both professional and personal use.

I quit to avoid the temptation to get into other people's business. I think about a year ago I made the conscious decision to not snoop through other people's lives on Facebook. I find it very disingenuous to try to learn a person's life and happenings through what people are saying to them or what they are saying to other people. So even though I've stayed quite well to that personal conviction, it is still tempting. Plus, people have drawn conclusions about my life from what they may see other people saying to me or I say to other people. I don't like that.

Also, people behave online in a way that they generally wouldn't in person. I think there are several reason for this. One, electronic media let you act as quickly as your emotions come. That can lead to many unwise things said, etched in cyberspace for all eternity. :) Two, in person to person contact, there are social mores that help us get along. We change topics of conversation and tone for the person we are with. However when you are mass communicating with one voice, that can become a mess.

Finally, Facebook is a gigantic time suck. If I find myself with extra time, I find I can easily waste it by surfing through Facebook. And generally in those times I find myself violating my no-snooping rule. Already in the 2 days sans Facebook I have found so much more valuable things to do. I have read, listened to sermons, made a stronger effort to hang out with friends. It's been good.

So there you have it. I judge no one for using Facebook, but knowing myself, my weaknesses, and my tendencies, I found it necessary to take a break and re-center my time priorities. Like I said, I think this is only temporary, and will probably be back in about a month.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fine Print

Each week we have a theme, and tell a few stories along that theme...

When I was in high school, the What Would Jesus Do bracelet fad hit the scene. Since I was already a "Jesus Freak", I figured the least I could do was wear my dedication for Christ on my wrist.

At some point in there I read the book on which the slogan was based- "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon. The story is simple and dated. Simply put, a small group of members at a traditional, evangelical, conservative church decide to live their lives by not only considering what Jesus would do in the situation, but then actually doing it. The results were fantastic and powerful. (I highly recommend this book.)

I remember I got to the end of the book and was thoroughly perplexed. I was always a "good Christian", very involved, very law abiding. :) But to follow Jesus, even when it's confusing, even when it turns your life upside down, even when it makes no sense to you or the world around you... that seemed a bit much to me.

But at some point the Lord finally broke through my hard head, and I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:

Well, I don't know if I really want to commit to this lifestyle. It seems scary and hard. Who knows what I'll end up doing.

Oh crap... I am a Christian. I gave my life to Christ. This is not a decision yet to be made; this is a decision I already made. I'm following Christ.


That moment, to me, was one of those moments when something cosmic happened. I believe that that small confession of faith was a time when the Lord seized something deep within me, and has grown that mustard seed since.

There is a beautifully dangerous song called "Upside Down" by Luke Wood that prays-
Turn my little world upside down... Into your hands I commit my Spirit.

I had no idea what I was getting into as a 15 year old committing my life to Christ. And now as I wake up every morning and renew my mind in the Word and in prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to lead my life, I still don't know.

But it's exciting. And it's valuable. And it's significant. And it's the life that I was created to live.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Family Photo Friday- Sue

Sue was technically my second cousin, but she was really like an aunt to me. She gave me my teddy bear that was my prized possession for many many years on my first birthday. She was fun and charming and sweet and had such a dear heart. She loved her family ferociously.

She died long before her time when I was a senior in college. I really do miss her.

I recently found these photos and love them so much because they're so expressive of the youth, beauty, attitude and mystery of her.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Only the Lonely

This is probably one of the most honest and vulnerable blogs I've written, so we'll see if it stays up until tomorrow...

I have never wanted to be the stereotypical anything. So when it comes to being the stereotypical 20-something single, this applies at least doubly.

But lately I feel the Lord has been pressing me to pray about the fact that- despite my fervent denial- I am lonely.

I live alone. My closest family is 5 hours away by car, in another state. I have good friends, but most of them have their own families and all of them have their own lives to be concerned with. More often than not, between the time I leave work and go back to work the next day, I haven't talked to anyone. And most of this is by choice- I am an introvert and that both serves me well and is a stumbling block.

I probably have less of a problem than most when it comes to going places alone. I have always been independent, but at the same time it is painful still to sit alone in a sea of families of many sorts. There's also a healthy dose of pride hurting there as well, I can't deny. I hate to feel like people pity me, although it's probably more my paranoia than reality.

Please understand, my family loves me dearly and I have more amazing friends than I could ever deserve, but it's the small things that make up life no one really knows.

My coworkers have heard more useless anecdotes of my life than they can probably count, simply because when I come to work, there are people- really the only people I see interact with regularly. I have things I want to share with someone, and they are my friends and they are there. And graciously they haven't told me to shut up yet. :)

Life is made up of the little things. Our victories are primarily small victories, and those small victories often have stories behind them, so if no one knows the stories, how can they share my victories? The same with defeats.

I think that the recent, ongoing issues at my church have contributed to this feeling and realization.

And perhaps through partly this urge to remain un-typical and greater part due to God's work in me, I refuse to wallow or make myself comfortable in this feeling of loneliness.

Instead it becomes a call to prayer. And not the formulated, Sunday school prayers, but the honest cries of a child to her Father. I believe that when we talk with our Father honestly, he is thrilled to be invited into our hearts and begin his work in us.

And I realize that this is certainly not a issue that singles alone face. In fact I think in many ways it is a much deeper pain to feel lonely in a marriage or in a family, and there are sadly many who feel that way.

But God is both good and faithful, and I will trust him alone to fill the loneliness I feel rather than trusting in the counterfeit company the world suggests or provides.

Title blatantly ripped off from a wonderful, highly recommended sermon series at The Village Church in Denton, Texas by Paul Matthies, which can be heard here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Photo Friday- Mom

It's my mom's birthday. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful mom. She has taught me so much about selfless love and I hope to be close to the woman and mother she is.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of her.

My mom in a great jacket, my grandmother, my dad

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


When I was very sick a few years ago, much of the time while I was in the hospital, I was NPO, which meant no drinking and no eating. I received my necessary nutrients through IV. Throughout my months in the hospital I'd guess that I went at least a month at a time without being able to eat or drink.

Even though I was receiving necessary nutrition via IV, it was terrible. The hunger eventually went away, because I don't remember being hungry very often.

But the thirst. Ooooh, the thirst. I was always thirsty.

My mind was like an Ozarka commercial on a constant loop. I wasn't a big water drinker before then, but so many times I remember saying to myself, "After I get better, I could drink crystal clear water for the rest of my life and live in bliss."

My poor parents could tell you stories of how I would beg for something to drink. I was really unfair to them, but I was desperate. "Just a sip." And even though I thought just a sip would satisfy this primal need, it only made me more thirsty. A taste of water was never enough, and only left me longing for more.

God has brought this to my mind often in the past year. I think it's been to teach me of how I approach His heart.

We're all thirsty, and too often try to satisfy it through cheap substitutes for what we really need. Still our souls become more desperate for pure water. And once you get a sip of the living water, it only leaves you wanting more.

Praise God that He promises us streams of living water flowing through us in His Spirit.

Revelation 22:17:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

John 4:10 & 13-14:
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water... Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."

John 7:37-39:
"Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him.

From Misty Edwards, Lovesick:
Happy am I to live a hungry life
And blessed am I to thirst
My desire for you is my gift within
And I am blessed, I am blessed among men!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Photo Friday- Cousins

My cousin and I were born almost exactly a year apart, me being older. In fact, I was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Spoiled much? :)

They liked to dress my cousin and I alike.

I'm on the left, which I think should be obvious. I have been told I was a very happy baby. :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blood donors saved my life

I decided to sit down and record a short message explaining why I am so passionate about blood donation.

Super short version? Blood donors saved my life.

Please give if you can.

If you are in the OKC area, I'm organizing a blood drive at my church this Sunday. You get 2 free zoo tickets! Comment for details.

Also, on August 3rd I'm eligible to give again (post-Honduras). I plan to go then and I'd love to take someone with me to donate!

Thanks for taking the time to listen.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My trip to Prague... Oklahoma

For the past 10 years as I drive between Oklahoma City and Texas, one sign has teased... nay, beckoned me.

On I-40, at Exit 200, there is The Shrine to the Infant Jesus at Prague.

The signs face both eastbound and westbound, and say nothing but the title, and "The more you honor me, the more I will bless you."

Every single time I pass by, I want to stop, but never have. But last week, my friends, oh I stopped. But little did I know what a charming town awaited me in Prague!

First of all, I should clarify this is Prague, Oklahoma, and pronounced "Pray-ge", not like the European city. But truly pictures tell 1000 words, so here you go- Polaroid style.

This first pic sums up Prague. Trains, Czechoslovakia, and Jim Thorpe. "A small town with a large heart"- and I believe it!

KOLACHE FESTIVAL! Some day I hope to attend this. Maybe next year!

This is truly one of the most charming church signs I have ever seen. I can't put my finger on why, but I really loved it.

And lest you think they don't know how to have a good time in Prague...

And the main attraction! The Shrine to the Infant Jesus at Prague. See video below for more detail.

Thanks, Prague. I really did enjoy my short stay. I hope to go back to visit.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Land Run

Not quite a Family Photo Friday.

I went down to Bricktown (in downtown Oklahoma City) and had fun taking pictures of the Land Run statues down there. I aged them for fun.

I like the silhouettes of downtown in the background of this one.

I like that he's gazing towards the Sonic headquarters.