Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Filbert Hosts Ukrainian Party

Today Filbert hosted a little party so he could share some of his favorite snacks from Ukraine with his friends in the Offices of the President in Wycliffe's USA headquarters.

He served a unique beverage as well as both sweet and savory treats. Now, I will quickly admit that his favorites are not exaclty MY favorites -- but all of the things he shared were fun to try and (thankfully) easy to bring home in a suitcase.

I've posted all of the photos from the party in a Facebook album which you can view by following this LINK. Besides photos, you can read captions about the snacks and the party participants as well as the decorations.

Jesus didn't journal...or blog, or twitter, or have a Facebook profile

I've been reading Nancy Ortberg's LOOKING FOR GOD: an unexpected journey through tattoos, tofu, and pronouns and greatly enjoying the experience. As I said on Facebook yesterday, it is a well-written and delightfully engaging look at the ways that we connect with God which are less "typical" than your standard 20th Century American QUIET TIME. I recommend it without reservation -- though, as with most books, with more enthusiasm for some of you than others because it will "work" better for some than others. It works really well for me.

In the opening chapter she addresses, head on, the notion that to properly connect with God one must have a quiet time -- in the morning -- that is 30-minutes long and which involves Bible reading, prayer (following a prescriptive adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication model) and journaling. Nancy suggests that this is not the only way. She does not imply that this is a wrong way to connect with God -- only that it does not work as well for some as it does for others and that there are other ways to connect. Her point is that relationship is not entirely prescriptive.

I've heard this notion before (in the book Sacred Pathways, for example) and it resonates well with me both theologically and experientially.

Her point is not that because Jesus didn't do something, we shouldn't do it (aka "journal") and I'm thankful for that. There are a whole lot of things that Jesus didn't do which I do all the time (including driving a car, listening to music recorded on an iPod, and drinking Diet Coke over ice).

One of my application points as I'm reading this book is to not get so hung up in the weeds of how I connect with God, but rather to focus on God. To actually connect with Him. Am I reading His Word and praying and yes, even journaling? Yes -- but not "religiously." I'm trying to find a way to maintain a discipline for these things that does not suck the joy and life out of the relationship.

We do this with all of the relationships in our lives that matter to us. I've got a lot to learn and and miles to go before I can call this one "done" -- and I'm okay with that. I'm okay with that mostly because I know that I'm not going it alone. Jesus himself promised to be with me in this journey, even to the very ends of the world. Even if I'm not journaling. Even on days when all I can do is stare at the sun reflected off the lake and sigh, He is with me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Photo Fun

On Saturday night while I was watching Harry Potter (and the Sorcerer's Stone -- movie #1 in the series) I found a fun website that uses digital technology to manipulate an image that you upload (basically a mug shot of you or your friend) and an image that has been created by some designer type to create images like the one above where I am grafiti.

If you click here, you go to my Facebook Album where I've put the ones I've created. Me as a tatoo is pretty fun.


There are a few that are less than appropriate for children (you've seen things like this if you watch television commercials, view billboards or read any secular magazines). I'd not let kids go there unsupervised myself. And some of the banner ads are questionable. Yeah, really...not for kids.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I experienced my first cup of coffee brewed in a Keurig machine this week. Now I've been on line looking at the options and weighing the cost v. the "goodness" of that cup of coffee. What do you think my chances are of finding one of these machines at a garage sale? or of winning one as a door prize for being the "magic number" customer somewhere? Yeah, that's what I think, too.

Silly how stuff can be so...consuming.

I could make a quick list of the stuff that I can really easily get consumed considering, including the new 24" iMac and the new G3S iPhone. (Apple has long been one of my distractions. That may be why, despite the fact that I have a Mac and an iPhone, I don't let myself upgrade at every opportunity. Maybe I'm afraid of losing the bit of self-control I have.)

10 Things about Nancy

DISCLAIMER: To say that this is a birthday tribute is to make it more than it likely in fact is -- or it at least raises expectations somehow. This isn't a "top" or "most" or any other sort of scientifically measured and carefully calculated listing. This is just a list of 10 things about Nancy. These are things that I like about her, that is true. And this is her birthday weekend. But, anything else beyond that and you're putting emphasis on the wrong syllable (and if you didn't read that last phrase incorrectly, you need to go back and read it again).

1. Nancy has great printing. I love distinctive or consistent or expressive handwriting. Nancy's is all of that -- AND she uses that force for the good of others.

2. Nancy enjoys McDonald's iced coffee with skim milk and without liquid sugar.

3. Nancy runs. (I can say this "officially" because she has successfully completed more than one 5K race and has the t-shirts to prove it.)

4. Nancy sometimes wonders WWJD? (As one who has never watched an episode of 24 myself, I can't fully relate to this. Hey now... don't judge me and I won't judge you.)

5. Speaking of judges, Nancy's brother is a judge.

6. Nancy is a big fan of creative packaging and is not afraid to admit it.

7. Nancy is very good at connecting the dots. She sometimes sees dots that others miss.

8. Nancy likes this quote (and I know this because she said so on Facebook) from author Annie Dillard (Teaching a Stone to Talk, Harper & Row, 1982):

"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."

9. Even though Nancy is a Florida Gator, she does not think any less of me because I am not.

10. Nancy celebrates.

Friday, June 26, 2009

JUNE 09: e.postcard update

As always with these postcard updates, click on the image and it will open in your browser window at full size and then you'll be able to read it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ruth in Ukraine: Facebook Photo Album

I went on vacation in June for ten days. Thanks to Delta's frequent flyer program, I traveled to Kiev, Ukraine to visit Mark and Charlene Canada who have been there since November studying Russian language.

Click on the title of this posting and you'll be transport magically to my photo album on Facebook which you should be able to view whether you have an account or not. The photos are captioned (most of them) and tell a good bit of the story of my 10 days of vacation. I had a fantastic -- relaxing -- refreshing -- fun -- educational -- and vision-broadening time.

And then there was the drinking chocolate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keeping Up with the Joneses

I'm not sure if this is cyclical or whether I've hit the capacity wall. My blogging has decreased significantly in the past few weeks -- and the only thing I can say that I've added to my daily routine in that time is Twittering. Now, I'm not a voracious twitterer and the posts are 140 characters long. Period. But I'm realizing that the content of the twitter is often more like blog content than like my Facebook status updates.

Is anyone else having trouble keeping up?

So, I think that while I'm on vacation starting on Friday I will stop with the twittering and stick with Facebook -- my reach is broader and more inclusive on Facebook. We'll see if I miss the twit-bit. I anticipate I'll return to my tweetdeck when I return to the office, but am considering changing my priorities there so I leave myself room for blogging.

I have no expectations that people are sitting around unfulfilled because I'm not blogging -- I am not sure many have noticed, actually. I mostly know that I enjoy blogging. It gives me mental space to reflect and rejoice and remember -- all things that are pretty critical in life. Jesus seems to put a priority on all of these activities (though he certainly does not specify a medium for doing them).

I have no idea whether the Jones family has a blog and a Facebook page and a Twitter following actually. If they do, though, I've decided that the goal is not to keep up with their frenzie. The goal -- for me (and for most people I know using these things) -- is to connect with people who matter and to continue the dialogue that matters.

Friday, June 05, 2009

JESUS Film Ministry in Nicaragua

A friend who works with JESUS Film just sent this story in an email.

On the evening of May 4, 2009, Chema Lopez, a JESUS film team leader, sat with his young daughter outside their home. A young man approached Chema and told him this story:

“My name is Gabriel Antonio Madrigal, I am the oldest of four brothers. I came from a very poor family; my father was a heavy drinker, and he always treated my mom very badly. … it was very hard, very sad, very painful. Seven years ago you [Chema] were in my school on the 4th of September, 2002, and you brought a movie called ‘Jesus for Children.’ That was the day I prayed and gave my life to Jesus. I was in the 5th grade. I arrived at home and told my parents about the movie I had seen, and I remember as well the gift you gave me of a little book … and I also presented that to my parents.

“My father did not change, but one month later in the morning, my father was in the living room reading this little book and crying. That was the day my father gave his life to Jesus. … My father became more responsible—he didn’t return to his drink, nor did he return to mistreating my mother. He conversed with us, gave us counsel. … I give thanks because I was the first in my family to give my life to the Lord, and through a movie and my word, my testimony and a little book [the whole family believes].”

Praise God for the fruit of His work!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Filbert & Ruth in Brazil

I traveled to Brasilia, Brazil for as the representative of Wycliffe USA at the Americas Area Leaders Meetings. This year the focus was on mobilizing the church into the Bible translation movements. We arrived on Monday afternoon and had meetings beginning Monday night and continuing through Thursday night. We flew home on Friday evening and overnight, arriving in Orlando on Saturday. That gave me a bit of time on Friday to drink coffee and sit by the pool.

Our meeting room was on the top floor of the hotel where we stayed. At the hottest time of the day, the fact that the room had windows on three sides was less appealing that all the rest of the day and evening when it was glorious. The temps in Brasilia are moderate year round. In May, as the dry season is just beginning, it is just about perfect -- sunny and dry enough (but not yet uncomfortably so) and "just right."

At break time, it was nice to grab some coffee and a snack and then head out onto the patio on the rooftop. You can see that Filbert and I liked to "catch rays." We were also likley catching some breeze, too. And look at that sky. It really was that color!

One of the things that is my reality at meetings that are conducted primarily in Spanish and Portugese is that I spend a good bit of the time wearing an earbud and listening to English translation of the presenters. I'm so grateful for the technology and the people who are multilingual and willing to serve in this way.

At first, Filbert thought these were radios and we were all listening to music or baseball/soccer games. He was slightly disappointed when he found out it was all business.

Filbert in Brazil

One of the things that Filbert enjoyed while we were in Brazil was the ability to keep up on what others were doing and thinking through Twitter. Here he is checking Twitter Traffic on my iPhone. I, on the other hand, was paying attention to the meeting.

Monday, June 01, 2009

QUOTE: G. K. Chesterton

Jesus promised His disciples three things: they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.