Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Surfing...


It's hard. Pretty much as hard as it looks, but a tad bit harder. I have this horrible sports complex that kicks in no matter what the physical activity, that convinces me I should immediately catch on to basics, and by the end, be a pro. Not so much the case with surfing. I went about 30 minutes and then retreated to the beach. Happily. Maybe its progress... or defeat. Who knows.

There's some things just worth leaving alone. And others, worth fighting for. Determining between the two I imagine are harder more times than not. But I have identified the following as things in my life worth fighting for:

- Intimacy with God.
- My husband's heart.
- Developing my gifts and talents
- Loving others and building community
- Taking risks that utilize my talents and edify others characters
- Joy despite circumstance
- Taking care of my body
- Prioritizing and providing for family

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I will be Sappy just this once...

"No greater love than this, but that a man lay down his life for his friend..." -Jesus






I really love God. I also really love my husband. They have two things in common, they would both lay their lives down for me, I don't take that for granted. We were joking with a student at school this afternoon that Matt sleeps with a knife under his pillow when we travel via hostels and he doesn't sleep, he's like a watchdog.

A couple pics from V Day... Pizza, Lunch, Flowers, Chocolate. Note: Pizza... kind of a tradition in the making, after we got stuck in a snow storm in Duluth for our first Valentines married and ended up at a Pizza joint on the side of the road... oh and my stab at poetry in Spanish. It was more comical than romantic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thoughts on Significance

After being in the sun, even light seems dim... I wrote that in my notebook when I came back into the classroom after my 10:30 am break in the garden of the school. It only took a minute or so before my eyes adjusted and the yellow light seemed normal again, even bright.

When I spend intentional time with God, I usually read scripture, think about it, reread it, journal some about it, reread it or portions of it that strike me as odd, or perfect, or baffling... and then I pray about them. Sometimes I don't pray (mostly because I forget too, after being pleased with myself that I once again determined how to apply the word to my life and fit it in a soundbite...) but other times, I have real time with God and pray about the scriptures, and my emotions, and my thoughts and I ask God to make sense of it all. And in those moments of asking, I forget that I cared I wanted it all to make sense and I just become thankful that I am talking to the God of the Universe. That He is all knowing, and redeeming and He loves me and He is listening.

The night before last, I didn't sleep much. I write it as a point, because I consider myself to have the gift of sleep. I lived with a friend for a year who took sleep pills several times a week. I determined I had a gift after falling asleep midway during praying that the Lord would help her fall asleep. My real point, is that I was in and out of sleep the night before last thinking about how I needed my life to count for something. The question of significance just kept flying back and forth across my mind, I felt like I could see the words almost, and I just wanted to grab them and make them stop flying...It was not of God. I am sure of it. I felt the questions so thick, and heavy and urgent, but mostly, selfish.

There is a book by Robert Mcgee called, "The Search for Significance" and I remember students raving about it when I was in college. I googled it, to make sure I had the author right for this entry, and the internet says millions of copies have been sold, and there is a matching journal and devotional you can buy with it too. Guess I'm not the only one who stays up at night thinking about it. John Piper's book and movement- "Don't waste your life" has sold thousands of copies.

At 10:31, once my eyes had adjusted and the yellow light became normal, it hit me. I may not even notice when I am settling for imitations. I forget how bright the sun is, once my eyes adjust to indoors. It only takes a moment to be outside of truth, to be swept up by it. To appreciate it even. My God.

I search for significance more often than not, not because I am concerned with how to glorify God, and make him beautiful through my gifts and talents and show others his perfection, but I search (at times) for significance because I have stepped just enough out of his divine security and heart filled worship, that my vision is dimmed and I begin frantically searching for security, and purpose... and I settle to the adjustment of fulfilling it. Instead of simply being in the sun. I don't care about basking in the fact that I am redeemed, and loved and listened too, and that He knows the desires and gifts of my heart and how best to put them to use more than anyone... instead I want a soundbite, a plan that I can share with others and then stamp God's direction on it. I start obsessing over a business plan, or networking, or I start staying awake at night thinking about what I am going to do so I don't fall through the cracks, and people don't forget my name.

And here's the kicker, the future God has for me may very well be the elaborate business plan, but if my heart is self serving, God is not glorified. And since God's measure is my motive, not my profit, its pointless. I can do the right thing, but with a bad heart and ruin it all.
Joseph became the prince of Egypt and never had a business plan. Moses preserved a nation and freed them from 400 years of bondage with no political power... No personal orchestration, just obedience, courage and faith.

"Commit your ways to the Lord, and He will establish them." Prov. 16:3 ... I realize now that "ways" is my life, before my business plan. I commit my life, my daily thoughts and interactions to God, moment by moment, and in that He establishes me. He provides, and sustains, and lifts up and abases -as necessary-for His glory and my joy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birthday Fiesta

Saturday our friend Gabi was throwing her 26th birthday party. Her parents happen to have their birthday in the same week so it was a family celebration. We met Gabi's best friend, Mariana, downtown San Jose around noon and then caught a bus about an 45 minutes outside of the city to the party. It was a lot of fun. Good Good casado, ensalada, musica, queque, bailando... We got home a little after 10 I think...




Back to normal...

...The last 2 weeks have been full of backpacks and pictures and immigration crossings and "do you have the passports or do I?" ... so now, for the sake of our pockets and my husband's blood pressure... we are back to somewhat of a routine. I will start schooling back up tomorrow morning. I need to do some cost comparisons with the office there, but I am pretty sure I will be splitting the group class setting with private lessons, if not all private lessons. Matt is opting out of school for February and will be volunteering at an orphanage near by- about 20 minutes walking from our apartment.

Keeping in prayer how I am going to fill the in between, but I am thinking a little bit of exercise, job searching, writing, reading...I have an over due art piece to finish as well.

We have confirmed with the missionary family in Mexico that we will come and assist in their community outreach starting the end of March. We were able to work it out with our landlords to cut the lease short. We also have received exciting reports on the growing youth involvement with several initiatives (basketball, guitar lessons, dance lessons, ESL, bible studies) and there is a strong chance that a purchase will be going through on a new building to use for community activities. Matt is hoping there will be some construction projects he can get started as well. We will be there through June for sure. Rod Fry and his family are one of the main CAM missionaries there. Here is his blog link if you are interested in hearing more about the ministry we will be a part of: www.ixtapalucafryed.blogspot.com

With late March being our leave date from Costa Rica, that leaves me less than 2 months to take advantage of formal schooling. I would really like to get through all the advanced levels. I had a rush of encouragement this morning during church. With traveling we missed the last 2 weeks and they were eager to hear updates on what God had been doing in our lives. I am not sure where it came from, but the words and the conjugations just started flowing... I didn't sweat as much as normal either. I was able to share the Diego story too! Even Matt leaned over after and congratulated me... Of course, we offset the victory by spending the rest of the evening speaking English with our good friends Dave and Jenna watching the Superbowl (Jenna used to attend the language school, her husband Dave runs a call center in Escazu a little outside of San Jose) at a restaurant called, "Time Out Tavern."It is American owned and they play Futbol Americano in English on big screens. Took a pic or too...

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Reflections from Cuba


I think one of the most memorable times of the trip will always be the moment I was wishing we had 50 extra dollars so we could go to the Cuban ballet...and I decided to sell an old silver chain bracelet we had but never wear. We stopped at a jewelry stand on La Rampa and I tried to sell the bracelet to the guys. They weren't interested but they directed us to a small Joyeria down the street. So we follow their instructions and we find ourselves in front of an old garage with a hand written sign that says "Joyeria." There is where we met Tim. Very nice. He took the bracelet, disappeared for a moment and came back out with head strapped magnified glasses, his chin tipped up and the bracelet hanging from between his left hand fingers , while the right one inspected it through the lenses. After about 30 seconds, in Spanish, he explained that it was real, and nice, but he only bought gold and wasn't interested. I continued on a goose chase for another hour, stopping by the local street market around the corner from our hotel, trying to find another Joyeria who would buy the thing. Turns out, Cubans are about their gold. So, no ballet performance, but we did hit the National Cuban Ballet Dance Studio and the museum...close enough I suppose..and only 2 CUCs to get in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reflections on Cuba





We are back from Cuba. 5 nights, 6 days. We stayed in "New Havana." Unlike the Central American Carribbean, this vacation was more history and site seeing. We decided from the get that this trip would be tightly budgeted, but we had a financial curve ball after airport taxes, currency exchanges from Dollars- Colones-Euros and finally to CUC. Then we were forced to buy Cuban health insurance... and the minor detail that we couldn't pull out money while we were there...this to say we had a $50 daily budget. I think it was divine. Simple equaled real for us. We met people, we walked every where, from Old Havana, through Central Havana to New Havana..along the Melacon shoreline. We caught a few taxis, but even then we learned quick how to catch the cheap ones.

Our hotel's highlight was their breakfast buffet. We made lunch using the bread buns and ham and cheese from the scrambled egg line... we wrapped them up an ate them around 2 to tie us over until dinner. We ate mostly in the Univ of Costa Rica town..cheap, good food and really good "cafe con leche." The young educated scene bred interesting convos. Here is a little journal entry I scatted on some sketch paper I had after one evening at the U's cafe:

Cubans are happy on the outside, but not so much in their hearts. That's what the guy at the cafe on the corner said. He said they have free health care and education, but not freedom of thought. He said the government monitors everything. Everywhere I look in Havana, I see " Long Live the Revolution" I see, " Libre" and " Viva Fidel"... But I wonder what the revolution has done? The man at the cafe says 'nothing,' as he looks over his shoulder. I am not sure where the bias has settled. The man on the street across from the Soda says that the US Government is terrible, only a few people have all the wealth. And I realize, we fear what we don't know. The Cuban man on the street fears democratic capitalism. The middle class American fears communism- and both are scary. Both mean some lack, both in the name of progress, of revolution and change. The same leader that celebrates freedom from Spain and Victory over the US, now enslaves his own people. Maybe he doesn't know? Maybe he leads with the same fear as the man on the street? "Perfect love casts out fear..." I want that type of leadership. That lays down his life for his people, versus neglecting the people of fear that he will lose them. I have never met that perfect balanced leadership in a government. But I have met it. "..and the government shall rest on His shoulders..."

As much of a real, simple, fresh view of Cuba we received, we did get some tourism in. We went to a jazz show the first night at the famous " La Zorra del Cuervo," Day bus/ferry tour around Cuba, Cigar Factory Tour, National Cuban Aquarium w/ Dolphin Show, Museums... We left with 5 dollars in our pocket (and still hit are 2 goals: to buy a pack of Cuban cigars and dance Cuban Salsa under the stars).

All in all, mad respect for Cubans. They are happy, VERY peaceful people. (Felt safer on the main strip in Cuba at midnight than I do at 7 here in San Jose). Some of the most beautiful shades of skin color all in one place, with songs on their lips and jiration in their hips, soul and freedom in their hearts, even if they do not have it in their government.

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