Saturday

woohoo college sports!


My brother in law gave us tickets to see the Texas Tech Lady Raiders play SMU tonight.

So Jenny and mom-in-law and the nipper and I went and just had a bast!

The United Spirit Arena is a beautiful venue and, of course, the Lady Raiders pulled out a nice win 75-70 for an exciting game. Deacon learned to cheer and yell "Go Raiders!" and he even 'caught' a mini-basketball that a cheerleader walked up into the stands and gave to him. Of course I forgot the camera. Argh. But I can assure you he was decked out in full on Red Raider apparel.

Oh, as for the considering others...I actually took care of Deacon that whole day because Jenny had to go to 2 funerals that day. And I guess it's not as hard to consider your son as more important than me. I mean, at this point it's pretty one way. But it was a great exercise to actually think about what that looks like in every situation.

Friday

It's a Wonderful Life

I'd never seen it.

So my mom bought the DVD for me. And Christmas Eve Jenny and her mom and I wrapped presents (I am officially the world's slowest present-wrapper) and put that movie on.

Aside from the wacky God-is-a-talking-star part, I have to say it lived up to the hype.

I know Jimmy Stewart was a great actor (he really was) and that Frank Capra directed some quintessential American films so I figured it would be good. But - and if any of you know the story of why they made it, do tell - I had no idea how many Biblical ideas were in it or if they were on purpose. I mean the whole point of it is the incredible, inherent value of a person. And that it's more important to be generous than it is to make money. That it's more important that other people live well than that I live well.

How revolutionary is that?

Now I'm a republican and a pretty conservative one and I see the value of capitalism within our representative republic - it works fairly well. But it's still man's attempt to make the best of a fallen world that he has been given the responsibility of running. And it's flawed, just like every other government. Every world system is temporary. But in this movie, one guy takes his dreams and his desires and he puts them aside for the benefit of other people. He serves people to his own apparent detriment. He has the chance to make the big bucks and turns it down because other people would be hurt by it. He considers others as more important than himself.

Can you imagine this present world, fallen an broken, waiting for its King to return and make it all right - can you imagine if the servants of that King actually did that: considered other people as more important than themselves? What would traffic look like? What would politics look like? School? Church?

Talk about a revolution.

Now I know that this is idealism - I know. I know that there are evil people bent on destroying other people and if those people are considered more important than you, they will probably blow you up.

But that's making an excuse. What about my neighbor? My family (even the one's that make a scene at Christmas?). What about my co-workers and the people I bump into at church? What if we started there and considered those people more important than ourselves? What if I considered YOU more important than ME? What if I lived like I was really a servant serving other people?

Well...for me - today - I'll give it a go. We'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

I'll let you know how it went.

Monday

Man, that Christmas feeling

I think it was yesterday. But to be honest, with my son's and wife's birthdays a day apart and our daughter arriving any day and general Holiday Over Busy I'm not sure. Yeah. It was Friday I think.

I felt "Christmasy" for the first time. Those of you who have known me for awhile will know that this is my favorite time of year. It's always been. I love it. I play Christmas songs from the day after Thanksgiving, I like to over-decorate the tree and hang up lights and cram decade old ornaments in with new ones and I like to stuff shelves with snowmen and garland and Christmas Scented candles (who knew Christmas had a smell?)

And Saturday - ah! it was Saturday - I finally got to finish shopping for my lovely bride. I was zooming around town listening to...worship music.

Not Christmas music.

Just regular old worship.

You know, songs about Jesus and God - like "Worship His Majesty"

And I felt it. For me, honestly, it's cooler than downhill skiing. Cooler than hiking the Rockies or running headlong into the surf. I felt the joy of dwelling on Immanuel. God with us.

God did it. And I asked myself, as I do every year, "Why would You do that?" Because, to be honest, being out among the masses 3 days before Christmas does little to endear me to humanity. And when I ask, He always says, "For I so loved the world..."

And things change. I see these people scurrying about and cutting me off in traffic and going into debt for silly presents and - and instead of getting frustrated - I want to talk to them and let them see who God really is and I want them to celebrate God with me. And I look for ways to encourage instead of scorn. Help instead of grumble. Serve instead of sanctify myself.

And I think about eternity. And how many of these people will be there with me?

Do you think we'll have Christmas in heaven?

I do. And I hope you'll celebrate it here with me. If only for a little while. Until I get too busy or tired or disoriented. Until I forget and have to be reminded that the Joy of Christmas - it's not just some man-made feeling. Hallmark didn't make this one up. God did. And it's not everyone who feels it because, well, life is pretty dad-gum hard sometimes and it's easy to get overwhelmed. But it's a lot less hard when we're in it together. God with us. Immanuel.

At least for a little while, it's nice to get a glimmer of what will be forever.

Wednesday

I love ya baby!



Happy Birthday, Jenny. I am so thankful that God gave you life and I am so thankful that He has given you salvation which you have embraced with all your being. I am so thankful that He grabbed a hold of us and grew us up so that we could marry and live happily ever after. You fill in all my gaps. And I am certain that when the Lord looked at me and said, "It's not good for Brandon to be alone", He made you because he knew we'd need each other down the road.

Today is the day that we celebrate YOU and my goodness, we could celebrate all year long. But we have to cram as much of it in on this day. Except for me. I get to celebrate you and be thankful for you and serve and love and honor you every single day. And I still will never get tired of it.

I love you.

Tuesday

Fixed!

So my blog was out for a few days. It's back! I changed the time from Guatemala to CST in the states and that seemed to fix it. Sorry for the outage!

Thursday

What does it mean?

SO I was reading on a great blog and a discussion was opened about what it means to be in love with Jesus.

What does it mean to you to "be in love with Jesus"?

I have a LOT to say about this, but I want to see what you all think first.

Tuesday

Fears and whatnot



I'm not a worrier.

At least not a very good one. Although there is more for me to worry about now (than say 5-10 yeas ago) I guess I just don't really like it much. That's not to say that I never worry or that things never weigh on me...

Ever get afraid of something?

Like standing in the shower and a thought comes to your mind of what could happen and it feels like a very full Rhino just nestled down for a nap on your chest? I think this never happened to me before I was married and the Rhino has grown quite a bit as we have had one and now 2 kids. Sometimes the Rhino just bumps into me and I get a little heavy-chested and then I remember, "Hey - none of this has actually happened" and he mosies along.

Sometimes he comes along and sort of headbutts me and I remember that, "Hey - he's really big and has a horn - maybe I should do something." Those times are usually actually good because it's something like I need to get life insurance or a will or put a new lock on the front door. Or maybe it's that I need to pray for someone or something that is happening right then or I need to pray for my kids or help Jenny with something.

But then there are times when the Rhino barges in and runs me over and the sun gets blocked out by his enormity and I go from tooting merrily along to getting squashed beneath the Brobdingnag bulk of whatever the Rhino brings. And I wake up after a second and it's dark and stinky (rhino's are not clean, you know) and I'm...

Scared.

Fearful.

Worried.

It is then that Someone within me, a someone who was over the waters and the darkness, who was and is and is to come, who cannot be crushed by the Rhino - who made the darn Rhino - it is then that this Someone whispers faintly to me in the dark.

"be anxious about nothing"

And then - silence.

No flashing lights. No bell tower bonging. Nothing.

But in that nothing there is a lot of something. That silence is not my Savior being absent. It is not Him withdrawing His Spirit or His power and NEVER His love. It is, in great wonder, the Creator and Sustainer of all things - waiting. Waiting. Waiting for me.

To trust Him.

He is, after all, the Teacher and when a teacher asks a question, does He not allow time for His pupil to respond? Does He not let the silence hang? Does He not let the obscene stench and the crushing weight of that rhino continue? He waits while I make a decision. A decision to focus on the rhino - to examine and ponder, to go from blind fear to the terror of knowing that Rhino's every gnarl and hair.

or

I talk to Him. And He helps me see the Rhino through His eyes. As something there to help me trust Him. As an obstacle to be victorious over. As an instrument of growth.

And the longer I wait, the bigger that Rhino seems and the harder it is to utter a word and listen. But never has nor ever will that Someone, My Lord, My Jesus, never will He abandon me beneath the crushing beast.

And listen will He always when I whisper faintly, "help"

Sunday

Brrr

Cold in Lubbock! It's cool where we live in Guatemala - but it won't get much above freezing here for a few days. I'm very thankful we have a warm home to be out of the cold.

Did you know I'm a fan of the hand bell? I don't remember there being a hand bell choir around at church when I was a kid so I have no nostalgic connection. But at church this morning a hand bell choir played a great arrangement of "Carol of the Bells" - a second place to the actual choral arrangement - but still great.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that I like so much, but it's a lot of fun to hear. And you don't even have to know how to read music to do it. It's not that it's easy - I actually have no idea - but it looks like fun. And it's a great picture of folks getting involved in the worship service.

I think we get too caught up in being 'good' when we get involved in the body. It's not skill that makes service special. It's just getting in there and doing what you can. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing talented people singing and playing or preaching or whatever. And I appreciate talented people all the more because they are making themselves available. But it's easier to get involved when you know you are good at something - when there is less fear of failure. But when I see someone making an announcement during the service and they are really nervous - I get so proud. Proud for that person, for their courage at making themselves available.

So to all of you who have ever served just because you love the Lord and not because you thought you would be good at it - my hat's off to you. I'd proud of you.

Stay warm out there.

Thursday

Does this thing still work?

Well, it's been awhile. I'm certain I'm supposed to have something profound here - but I don't. Hopefully this will end the blog drought.

The topic today is:

Christmas lights. Anyone ever know that there is lead somewhere in them? I was getting ready to stick some on the tree and read the label that touching the lights exposes you to lead. Anyone know what part has the lead in it? wiring? paint? Bah. Now I'm not a you-can't-touch-anything kind of guy and someone has to touch the lights (no, I didn't wear gloves) to put them on the tree and it sure won't be my pregnant wife or toddler, so I did it. And washed my hands afterward. And I figure I'll be ok. But is there REALLY a danger there? Do Christmas lights have enough lead to actually cause a problem outside the state of California or is it just people covering their rumps with a legal warning? Because if there is really a problem, make them without lead and if there is not a problem, please don't give me something else to worry about - we've got psycho teens shooting shoppers and hormones in our milk and not enough veggies in our school lunches to worry about having to wash lead off our hands after we deck out the tree!

Whew.

All that to say, I'm glad to be typing again. And hopefully there will be something worth reading a little later. :-)

Friday

Free at Last

Robert, Jenny's dad, passed away Wednesday afternoon.

We're in Lubbock with the family and everyone is doing ok.

There's a lot of tears and the ache of missing Rob, but underneath the grief, like a river thawing winter's ice, is the understanding that Robert is with his Lord, walking and laughing and free forever from the pain of this body. And free he is. Jesus told us that anyone who believes in Him will live, even if he dies. So Rob is living - finally really living. His life has just begun.

Thank you for your prayers and love.

The service is tomorrow at 10:30 here in Lubbock. So please please pray especially during that time for Jenny, her mom and brother.

How amazing is the joy and peace and hope that comes from the Lord. Man. It's indescribable.

Wednesday

Witch one is better?

So here's a funny cultural dynamic.

Today is Halloween. The day for folks to dress up in all kinds of costumes and do stuff. No, not prom, that's more expensive. And in the spring. More in a later post on the similarities between prom and Halloween. Anyway - so we have a child and we're in the USA and so we're rolling with it.

Deacon will be a turtle. If you have a religious reason for Deacon not to dress up as a turtle, please enlighten me. And it's not a Teenage nor a Mutant turtle - just a turtle. With a velcro-removable shell. And a little turtle helmet.

So here's what's funny to me. We're looking at what to do so Deacon can experience a little American culture and we have two options: Trick-or-treat, or Harvest Festival.

Trick-or-treating involves dressing up, going out in a neighborhood (with us, of course) and going door to door asking for candy. We both did it as kids and it's sort of a threat-for-candy ransom. You knock on the door and tell the occupants that they have 2 choices. Either they give you some candy (because you dressed up in something cool or cute or scary or funny) or you will do something bad to them (typically vandalism - named for the Vandals who sacked Rome). I mean, that's what it is. And I had a hoot at it as a kid. After you fill up your plastic pumpkin or pillow case or whatever, you return home, check the candy for razorblades, and eat until you slip into an insulin coma. At least that's how I remember it.

A Harvest Festival is the Christian equivalent. Held at a church or somewhere public, kids usually dress up as something (but not usually something scary) and attend fun, harvest themed events. Go home, don't have to check for razorblades, and eat until they slip into an insulin coma. This is an alternative to celebrating Halloween as a pagan holiday. Or a safer alternative, which is a good idea given all the sickos out there. But the alternative to celebrating Halloween...is it really?

I'll give you that there are some people who celebrate All Hallow's (All Saint's) Eve ("hallowed be Thy name" - same word there. fascinating) as the night for evil before a day of good. I know Wiccans and druid type folk are about and that there really is evil out there and that celebrating evil is always bad. But going to a Halloween party versus a Harvest Festival - what's the difference?

I don't see any...anyone have some insight?

We're doing both.

Monday

Oh, just stuff

We have been in Lubbock in the great south plains of Texas. It's fall here which means the weather is beautiful and the sky is blue.

Jenny and I had the enormous pleasure of attending a Texas Tech football game. What a joy! We threw 4 interceptions, one of them ran back for a touchdown, and so lost to those pesky Buffaloes of Colorado, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. What a great sport, college football. I must admit it is one thing I enjoy more and more as I get older.

Jenny's dad had a pain pump put in and the Lord brought him through the surgery Friday. Hopefully this will lower his constant pain to a more managable level. Some days it seems he is being tortured by his own body, pressed down by the full weight being a human in a fallen world. But not all days are bad and I have been able to hang out with him a good bit. He is proof that the name-it-claim-it crowd is just plain wrong.

We begin our orientation with CAM on Sunday. Looking forward to that. It will be a busy 2 weeks. Then Thanksgiving. We are just really, really, really (is 4 too many?) enjoying time with our family. God has blessed us with wonderful everyone. And if you're in the DFW area, we'd love to see you too. Just give us a holler. If you don't know what that means, well, you have some learnin' to do.

Tuesday

Tuesday

I can't keep this up forever, but there is one more thing you folks in the US should appreciate:

Water fountains

They don't exist in Guatemala. But here, I can walk through the mall or a school or a church and if I find myself thirsty - refreshing, clean, potable water - for free - right there near the restrooms. And usually it's cold water! If we just put little signs above them and said, "In the name of Jesus, please have a drink." think how much we would be rewarded. That was only partially tongue in cheek.

Jenny and I went to church Sunday. And we heard a sermon and we worshiped and we did it all in English. Now I know that English is not the be-all of languages, but it is and will always be our heart language. And oh, we have missed it. We sing to the Lord and hear sermons in Spanish, but at this point, it is just not the same.

What a joy to sing and not have to translate! To hear and listen and think and understand at the pace of the speaker, to understand more than 70% of a sermon - sheer bliss! I forget how good I am at English. And please don't take that as arrogance - it's just my heart language, the language I know and from which I filter everything. I don't think in Spanish. I may speak it and read it and even dream in it, but when I sort something out, I do it in English. It was just refreshing to worship again in English. I look forward to the day when I am that comfortable with Spanish, bt that days is not today.

And, by the way, please enjoy his weather. This is, temperature wise, similar to where we live in Guatemala. But the crispness is not there as it is here. We don't get cold fronts. Today is like biting into a crisp, cold apple. Refreshing! Enjoy it and enjoy the Lord in His creation!

Thursday

And we're back

We landed at DFW tuesday afternoon.

It's a very big airport. And clean.

I have noticed a few things that are different from my home in Guatemala:

- houses are really big here. If you live in a house here, chances are it's pretty big. Yards are big too. If you have a yard - get out there and enjoy it. Lots of folks don't have one.

- things are really clean here. streets, parks, parking lots, cars, people. All of them clean. And someone has to clean all those things! Thank you to all those people who keep the FlowerPlex clean. It looks really nice.

- Tom Thumb is expensive. Wow.

- The roads here are things of beauty. Have you seen 3040? Goodness. That's a magnificent road. Nicer than any road in Guatemala. A lot nicer.

- Tex-Mex is a culinary delight. I ate my weight in chips and salsa. And queso - it doesn't just mean 'cheese'. Yum.

- People drive in the lanes here. At least mostly. I was turning into the grocery store and found that I swerved and slammed on my brakes to careen into the parking lot. My lovely wife reminded me that we weren't in Guatemala so I didn't have to drive like that.

- People mostly stop at stop lights. This is nice.

- It's very quit here. No buses blaring, no political slogans blasting, no cows or dogs or other critters making critter noises. No one ringing the door bell to sell me avocados or limes. Kind of miss that one, actually.

- You have lots of beautiful trees. Please enjoy that.

- The power stays on here. All the time. That's very nice.

- our family is here. I think that must be the nicest thing of all.


I am going to get the car registration renewed and the car inspected today. In Guatemala this would take 3-4 days or maybe a week. I am bringing a book to read and I will not ever complain about how long it takes at the DPS again. I mean, if it takes half the day, IT ONLY TOOK HALF A DAY!

I'm actually kind of excited about it.

Monday

In Transit

SO.

We are going back to Texas tomorrow.

Right now Jenny and Deacon are taking a much needed nap and I am in the snazzy business center typing this little blog. It has been a really busy few weeks. But we are ready and will get on a flight tomorrow to eb away from our home for 6 months. We will return to Guatemala in April 2008. whew.

I would say we have learned a lot these two weeks, etc, etc but mostly we are just tired. But all the to do lists are crossed off and I will finally slay the Telgua dragon this afternoon (Telgua is the phone company here) and be done with it.

I suppose we are in for some reverse culture shock but I have no idea what that means. When we return to Guatemala we will be with a different organization and our puppy will be a dog. We will have 2 kids instead of one. A lot will be different but for now it is just life. And life = different.

But we are looking forward to seeing our family and our friends and the tons of people we love and who love us.

So...hope to see you all soon.

Sunday

What's that they say about change?

Well, for those of you who do not know, we are changing organizations.

We have resigned from RMI and will attend candidate orientation with CAM International in Dallas in November.

We will return to the States October 16th - a mere 8 days from now - for a long time. About six months - during which we will attend orientation, have a baby, and attend more training before heading back home to Guatemala to begin our new ministry here.

I will be training and discipling pastors here in western Guatemala and I could not be more excited about it. But that seems like a REALLY long way off today and I'm just trying to get our house in order before we have to leave it for half a year.

So...

That's about it for now.

Oh, by the way, Jesus is incredible and He will never lead you astray. I promise. Just listen to Him and things will be ok.

Tuesday

In brief...

Been a little busy.

And we don't have internet at our new place. Kind of a long story. We are moving still but just about done getting pictures up, etc.

All is well - Jenny's healthy and definitely pregnant now.

Ok, sorry for the drought - more a little later.

choices

Given the two choices, which would you pick:

1. Move from one house to another. Pack it all, move it all, unpack it all.

2. Someone offers to pack, move, unpack everything for you as long as they get to smack you in the face with a rubber hose.

I love moving.

On a happier note...

Lysol kills so many things. I'm not sure when it was invented (anyone know?) but it is just so versitile. Mildew - dead. Mold - dead. Trichophyton mentagrophytes - dead.

And has anyone noticed that the Cowboys are 3-0? And scoring. A lot. No one here in Guatemala cares. They are the Vaqueros de Dallas. But they still put pictures of their cheerleaders in the paper. Funny.

Ok. I do have more serious things on my mind but those must wait for later.

ramble done.

Monday

Happy Monday

People hate Mondays. Since I'm people too, I tend to turn a sour face when Monday comes around.

So, Monday, take this:

Oh, if possible, please read aloud. It's short - you won't get fired.

Psalm 150

1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah!


What a way to start the week!

Sunday

Missing the point

I read this article interviewing a guy who read the Bible and decided to follow all of its rules for a year.

He previously wrote a book where he spent an entire year to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, so he thought he would try this with the Bible. It's a really interesting article and I can't wait to read the book. He observed the Sabbath and wore only white and tried to do a lot of other things - not sure what all. I don't think he killed any sheep, but he did grow a beard and throw some gravel at an admitted adulterer.

But somewhere in there he missed the point, didn't he? He talked with Jewish leaders and met with a Jehovah's Witness - of course they don't really read the Bible - and all seemed well and good to him. He missed the structure of the law when the year was over.

But remember that guy who asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is? Remember what Jesus said?

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and the second is this: love your neighbor as yourself"

Now, granted, I haven't read the book, so maybe he goes into that more. And the fact that the guy read the Bible is great. But he said something that i thought was interesting:

"One thing I learned is that the outside affects the inside, your behavior shapes your thoughts."

And at first blush, that sound right. Right? But that's not what the Lord tells us. He says that it's what's inside of us that affects us. He wants to transform us, not by having us behave correctly, but by us loving Him. Behavior follows love. Just like works follow faith. It's not the other way around. And this poor guy - he missed the forest for the trees. He missed a relationship with God for the rules of religion.

Any thoughts folks?

Friday

We have a lot of plants

I didn't think we did, but after moving all of the plants on our terrace (which is on the 3rd floor), I put the number of plants we have at "a lot".

A friend helped me move them. His name is Wilson. And, of course, he was hardly ever even winded but graciously acted tired when I needed a break.

The best part was the two 30 gallon planters with some sort of evergreen and a eucalyptus tree.

Lesson learned: Put trees on the first floor.

Yeowch.

Oh, and I forgot what sore meant. Why did this not hurt so much 10 years ago?

So we're moving

Well, we're moving!

To a different house in Xela.

We asked and the Lord just provided.

For those of you who have visited, we're moving out of La Esperanza and into Xela, pretty close to where the mall is. For those of you who have not visited and have no idea what I'm talking about: we're moving.

I'll try to post a few pictures. For now, I am the sole member of the Scott family capable of lifting heavy things. So I have a lot to do. But Jenny is a packing whirlwind! It's amazing, AMAZING that my wife can, while 6 months pregnant and taking care of a freakishly active 21 month old, pack up almost the entire upstairs while I'm out running errands. She is - well - amazing.

And we'll have a guest room ready for you.

Sunday

A bad prayer still counts

We went to church this morning.

It's a small church - maybe 30 people - and we walked there in 10 minutes.

We like it so far and they seem to preach sound doctrine from the Bible. I say 'seems' because we only understand 70-80% of what they are saying and there could be something wacky in that 20-30%.

We are, of course, the only white people in the service. We have not been able to attend regularly because we're out of town a lot on Sundays. So when we're there they make a big deal out of it, have us stand up, thank the Missionaries for coming, and we wave and look embarrassed and point to the ceiling trying in some way to deflect the attention back to Jesus.

Today the service went a little long. They had a guest preacher. He was 70-80% great. Deacon got a little restless and Jenny took him outside. So there I was all alone on the front row. The preacher (not the guest one, the regular one) gets up and starts to pray. And they pray loud here and say, "En el nombre de Je-SUS...AMEN!" a lot and so I think it's fun because most US churches I've been to seem afraid to get excited when they pray. Not that getting excited is the point, but sometimes, talking to God should be exciting, right?

Anyway.

So a couple comes up and the preachers (guest and regular) are up there with them, and the regular preacher asks me to come up and pray for this couple.

I look up.

He says, "venga" - "come", and waves me up front.

I walk up front and quietly ask the pastor what these folks want prayer for because, well, I wasn't paying full attention and when you multiply the fact that I was only half paying attention with only understanding 70% of what he was saying - well, I was no math major, but that adds up to not getting what's going on. Certainly not well enough to pray a Big Missionary Prayer for these folks. So the pastor tells me nothings wrong and that they just want a blessing.

And so I pray.

Now, I wasn't really listening to myself, but I'm pretty sure it went something like this:
[word-for-word translation] -- this is what I said - there are no typos.

"Holy Father, thank you for your love and for life eternal. Thank you for your son and that because of him we have life, because of his blood. And thank you that gave us eternal live on this planet and for all eternity. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for my sister and brother and I pray that you to give them power and grace and your life. In the name Je-SUS...AMEN"

And there were some "amen's" out there. And the pastor patted my back and pointed to my very lonely front row seat. And I went back and sat down.

Normally, when we enter the service, everyone knows we are missionaries and so we get sort of this wow factor: people sort of look up to us. We don't like it, but that's how it is.

Not so much anymore.

You know when someone says something that doesn't really make sense or apply to the situation, you know the look people get? THAT is the look I got today. And usually when we visit this church and the service ends folks sort of crowd around us and everyone shakes our hands.

Not so much today.

And so, finally, I managed to knock us (or at least me) off the Missionary Pedestal for now.

We'll see if they ever ask me to preach.

Saturday

To search the unsearchable


This morning I started down one of my favorite paths. Like a well traveled trail through the woods, I remember things from the moment I enter - the crunch of the leaves, moss-smell trees. Distant critters romping through the underbrush. And the tingle of the adventure ahead.

Psalm 145 begins the ecstatic climax to the book of Psalms. Each of the last 6 Psalms are a praise. The last 5 all begin with, "Hallelujah" - "Praise God!"

I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless, and I will praise your name forever and ever. Today, I can begin to practice what I will do for all eternity - praise God forever and ever. And oh, the many ways we can praise Him!

But then comes this:

3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
5 ...And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

And here's the impossible. God's greatness is unsearchable and yet we can seek Him! That's impossible! How can you seek the unsearchable, know the unknowable?

Paul tells us this in Romans 11:33,

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

What an adventure! How many times has someone told you, "You can't do that" or "That's impossible"? How are other people so certain what is possible? And we are we so afraid of the impossible? What do we have to lose?

I read the other day that mother Teresa's diary has been brought out and it reveals a life of deeply troubled faith. She is quoted as writing,

"The damned of Hell suffer eternal punishment because they experiment with the loss of God. In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist."

She did not let her doubts keep her from her duty. She doubted and oh the torment it caused her. And she is not alone! The Psalmist cries out in Psalm 88

Why, O LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?

The walk of faith is not a stroll but a journey. And each one of us walks a different path. Some days that path is familiar and we are excited and hopeful. Other days that path is and dark and we tremble with the deep fear of unknowing. There are days for praise and there are days for fear and doubt and sometimes those two things seem to happen all at once.

And yet the Lord tells us, "this is eternal life, that you may know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." and "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart". An invitation to know the unknowable - seek the unsearchable.

So take courage today! If you are excited and hopeful - rejoice! If you are scared and tired and full of fear - take heart! Do not fear the unknown - seek Him! And embrace the tension of walking ahead. For even the unknown can become familiar when we hold onto the One who knows what lies ahead.

Thursday

And a new day cometh

I was reading Psalm 144 this morning.

Verse 15b says, "How blessed are the people who's God is the LORD"

I thought, hey. He's right! Who is my God? It's the LORD! That's the name for Yahweh in your Bible - it's the name that God gave to Moses when Moses asked, "Who shall I say sent me" It means, "I am that I am" and it's such an awesome name that the Jews wouldn't even speak it.

Who is my God? The One who Is. The One who created everything and holds everything together. The One True God. There is no other! Only one person is worthy to be God and that is God himself. The Triune God, the only God, and He blesses those who worship Him.

People make lots of things their god's. I had a post a few days ago where I talked about an actress who pointed to her Emmy and said, "this is my god now" See, she will never be blessed by that. It's just a shiny pretty thing that someone made. Some people worship their job, or even their 'ministry'. But those things aren't God either. And they will not be blessed by that. Some people worship their spouses or their children or (and lots of people do this) themselves. What a silly thing to worship! I love my wife and I love my son. But they make very sad, silly gods. They really do. And me? Goodness - I make a really puny god. I can't even hardly take care of myself. What kind of god is that? Some people worship feelings or things or their country or freedom or clothes or popularity or food or sex...if you can think of it, chances are someone worships it.

And none of them are blessed because of it.

But to worship the LORD, to worship Jesus Christ - that is to be blessed! So who or what is your god? I was reminded this morning that only when I worship the One True God, only when I look to Him and say, "You alone are God - everything else is not YOU and therefore cannot be my God. So I worship You alone" only when I do that am I blessed. And that's the incredible part. God should be worshiped just because He is. And yet when we look to God and say, "LORD, you are my God", He doesn't just say,
"That's right - I am - you should have bowed down a long time ago."

NO! He blesses us for doing what we should be doing anyway. How incredible is that? How incredible is God?

So, today, put all those things that get in between us and the Lord aside and proclaim His majesty, His greatness. Proclaim that He, the Great I Am, who shares His throne with no one - is your God.

And you will blessed!

Tuesday

The world in which we live

Today is September 11th.

I am sure all of you reading this blog remember exactly what you were doing that day. I was in a deli on the first floor of the office where I worked. I was talking to Jenny on my cell phone when the 1st tower fell. I too drove home in the silence of plane-less skies, a silence that filled my ears like cotton. I too remember how I was reminded of the way things are in our little world.

At least the way things are for now.

I found myself on a news website today. Not much about 9/11. Not surprised. I found this article about Kathy Griffin's Emmy acceptance speech. She eloquently stated:

"a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

I was not upset at her. Saddened, I guess, more than anything. Her god will help her little when she stands before the King of kings, the Risen and Exalted Christ who made all things and holds all things together by the power of His hands. But stand she will, as will we all. And her trophy will give her no fame. No glory. No hope. Indeed, without the Lord, she has received her reward in full.

But there will be a day when no one will utter contempt. When the treasures of men will have no hold. When evil men will not kill mommies and daddies and humans will live as we are meant to: in peace.

But until THAT day...

wait we must.

Monday

Prayer, elections and independence day

I was reading Psalm 141 this morning and I just cannot get out of my brain how bold David was in his communication with God. He talks to God, asks rather forcibly that God listen to him, asks Him to help him and then, get this - he expects God to do what he asked Him to do.

How revolutionary is that?

I've read books on prayer and heard sermons on prayer and some of them are good, others great, others heretical. But can you imagine a person, a Bible study, a whole church praying to God and then actually expecting Him to do what they asked? I'm not talking about people asking for a fancier car - I'm talking about people who have been given direct access to the very throne of God through the sacrifice of Jesus - I'm talking about those people asking God to work here and now on planet earth. James tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. So the question I got hit with is what am I praying for? What is there that God is not able to do? Am I praying in such a way that it cannot be answered except by God?

More on that at a later date.

The presidential elections were held here in Guatemala yesterday. I know, elections on a Sunday, but hey, it's their country. There was only one incident where a mob of 3000 stormed a voting place, took the ballot box, and burned the ballots. Apparently they thought the guy running for mayor brought people in from El Salvador to vote. I think the mob got to one or two other polling places before the riot police hosed them with tear gas. I read that there were 30,000 riot police on patrol yesterday. Guess it worked. Not sure who won yet but with 13 candidates I believe there will be a runoff.

Sept. 15th is independence day for every country on Central America. The Spanish gave them back their countries in 1821 (I think) so there will be lots of parades, etc and fairs where we can go and have a little cultural experience. Look forward to sharing some of that later.

Did I mention I watched the Cowboys play last night? Maybe nothing for you - but that's the first Cowboy game I've seen in Guatemala. A landmark day, really. And those announcers - wow - they speak Spanish INCREDIBLY clear. It was amazing. I wish everyone spoke Spanish that clearly.

Oh, and I had an interesting discussion with a drunk gentleman at my front door this morning. He rang the bell (a very common occurrence ) and wanted a Quetzal (or a 'Q' - the Guatemalan currency). It's about 1/7th of a dollar so whatever that comes out to in dollars (just checked - $0.13) and he wanted one. Unfortunately he was quite obviously drunk and I wasn't about to give a drunk guy money. We discussed this for awhile (well - I told him "sorry, sir, but no" 20 times and he asked for a Q 20 times). I told him that I would not give him any money because I could smell the alcohol on his breath and he was drunk. He said that he had a job. I asked him why, if he had a job, did he have no money. He said he had money but he spent it all on booze. We both laughed at that and I had to give him credit for honesty. Then I told him no way would I give him a Q.

He was a very nice drunk at least. Most of them are.

Saturday

The Majesty of College Football

For those of you expecting something uber-spiritual this morning...sorry.

I have lots of spiritual things going on in my little mind but on a Saturday morning in September, well, it is the Ramble Zone.

I love college football. I believe it to be the greatest sport in the history of mankind. A close second is Calvin Ball or maybe Racquetball, but I digress. I am unabashedly Texan and as a Texan I was bred on Football. For those of you not familiar with Texas, please let me clarify:

A lot of people in Texas go to church on Sunday morning and worship at a church. In West Texas, 80-90% are in a church building come Sunday morning. But, and I say this only slightly tongue in cheek, more people worship Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a stadium temple with grid-iron carpet where the coveted back row is the 50 yard line about 15 rows up. A book, Friday Night Lights (later a movie and now a TV show) was written about the phenomenon of West Texas football and the Odessa Permian Panthers. It's not a joke. Football in Texas, particularly in small towns, is as deeply felt as the price of cotton, cattle and West Texas crude.

I live in a country where football is futbol and is played with a spherical ball on a larger field and on every plot of land flat enough to stick a dozen kids and two goals. Here is it Football Americano Colegeio and the papers don't write about it and no one talks about it and on a Saturday in September no one cares. I have moved from a land where a game was sewn into the fabric of my being to a land made of a different thread, a different pattern - one of its own beauty and grace. Still beautiful but different, foreign.

So today, one day out of seven, for a dozen or so weeks in the fall, I celebrate my heritage. I was woven with the strands of football - they help make up the earthly Brandon - and while they hold no eternal value (at least not much) they, like barbecue, bluebonnets in the spring, red oaks, and pizza on Christmas Eve are the things that gave me a place to call home. And to reject them would be silly. To reject all other things would be tragic. And so I hold them both and relax in the tension. And I follow a game that means very little, but matters much.

Wednesday

Tropical Depression

No, I'm not sad. Well, maybe a little.

Hurricane Felix slammed into the norther coast of Nicaragua as a terrifying Category 5 storm. The predictions brought it directly over us in Guatemala as a Tropical Storm. We were ready. Water, food, gas for the stove, fuel in the car, candles, batteries, hand-crank short wave radio, windows sealed, hatches battened - we were set to go.

And now?

A Tropical Depression. That may not even reach us. A really big thunderstorm. Not even a really mean one, just large.

We sent out an e-mail asking folks to pray. Really, I should not be complaining. Really, I should be thanking God for answering all those people by protecting us even from heavy rain that, here in Central America, can be devastating.

But I'm a little - although just a little - disappointed. And it's silly, I know. Next time there is a Category 5 hurricane coming our way - someone remind me that it's better to NOT be slammed by a monster storm.

So today, their may be a little rain and then, from our end, some thankfulness is in order.

Because someday, the storm won't fall apart. Someday it will hit. Someday it must be endured. But not today.

Thank you, Lord.

Monday

God bless the internet

I know that technology can be used for good and evil alike. And the internet, for all the evil it has been used for, allowed me to listen to my Red Raiders put it to SMU today. It's Labor Day in the US but here in Guatemala it's just Monday. ESPN carried the game on nationwide coverage but that doesn't include the nation of Guatemala. We DO get ESPN but they are playing the US Open instead - great sport but far from college football.

How did you enjoy your Labor Day?

Friday

Buds

Deacon has a best bud.

This is them playing in a 'house' we made from an old TV box. It's cute now. In 15 years, not so much, but for now it's safe.

Miss M is the Coreano's little girl. She's about 6 weeks older than Deacon and couldn't be a whole lot different. She's generally quiet, will sit and color for 20 minutes, is very intentional in her movements - all opposites from Deacon. But they love each other and get so excited to see each other.

So, here's to best buds - no matter what age. Does anyone here still have contact with a friend you had when you were a toddler?

Wednesday

This one goes out to the one I love

I know...it's a lyric.

10 quetzales to anyone who knows where it came from.

I just wanted to say that my wife is a pioneer caliber woman. You know how people always say that those people (meaning pioneer folks) were tougher than we are? Well..if you're comparing Brandon to a pioneer fellow then you will get a hearty, "amen". But As for my sweet little bride - i don't know.

There is a Jackopierce song called 'capable girl' that Jenny just loves. One of the highest compliments I can give her is to trust her to be able to do something. Which makes it pretty easy for me to compliment her. I've always said that she fills in my gaps (which are many) but through 7 years of marriage I have come to realize how dependent we are on each other. We actually need one another. And I think that's one of the most wonderful things about marriage.

See, Jenny doesn't have to be a pioneer woman for me to see how capable she is. Honestly, just being pregnant with a toddler like Deacon is enough to make me cringe. Add in the fact that she is a missionary wife and I just stand amazed. Why? Because she remains a woman of grace and calm in the midst of it. Now she ain't perfect, but goodness I respect that woman.

Deacon had some sort of bug yesterday and had a case of the pukes which lasted until midnight or so. What do I do when he's vomiting (or puking, hurling, blowing beets - how many epithets are there?). I get all flustered and edgy and want to make him better right there. Jenny? She is calm and nurturing and peaceful and like cool water to a burn. What a wonderful thing.

We are in the midst of a little tumult - maybe less tumult than just life-as-it-is-on-planet-earth. And Jenny is reciprocating trust back to me. And to have such a woman say, "I trust you" when I'm pretty sure she could do a better job herself - that's humbling in the best sort of way.

So thanks, babe. I love you.

Tuesday

A wonderful thing about God

He's relentless in His love.

Now, that's not the ONLY wonderful thing about Him. But its my current favorite.

I have been going through several prayers in the New Testament, mostly from Paul's letters, and I have been praying them for me and other people.

Here's one:

Phil 1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Now take this prayer, inspired by the Holy Spirit through Paul for the church at Philipi, and put your name or someone else's name in there.

"And this is my prayer, that my (or Jenny's, or your's, etc.) love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that I (or Jenny or you) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God."

I mean, WOW. What a thing to ask God to do.

But here's the point - it's all 'to the glory and praise of God'. See, it's all about God's glory. The point of praying that (or any prayer, really) is not so that I will be able to discern what is best or even that I may be pure and blameless. Those are all wonderful things - but they are secondary things. The primary thing is God's glory. And out of His glory - He wants to love us. And He loves us relentlessly. Rich Mullins called it the "reckless, raging fury", this unstoppable love God has for His children, even for a whole world in rebellion against Him. And I can not only be loved by God because of Jesus Christ - I can impart His love to others. I can be a conduit, a vessel of God's love to His creation. A creation that is desperate for it. A creation that is full of horrible evil, and even horribly evil people, but a creation God wants me to love. And this is the responsibility of every believer. Every believer. Even more, it is our opportunity. It is our purpose - to love others to the glory of God.

And that is a wonderful thing about God.

Sunday

Too tired to nap

This is the first time I have had a chance to sit at a computer since August 16th. We had a team come in and my oh my is that a busy time.

I tried to take a nap this afternoon. Ever tried to do that? I'm not the best napper. I need it dark and quiet and mostly I need my mind to get out of gear and coast into a rest stop. Not today.

There are a lot of things going on that require my immediate and full attention. But I must confess that I am so utterly exhausted that I cannot seem to stand up to the task. I read this on Mike Messerli's blog. It's Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.

I like how it says to trust God, "from the bottom of your heart" because that's about where I am today. I'm on empty. And yet empty is good with God because where I run out, He is. I have some big decisions to make and I must make them sooner that I would like. And the process has worn me down to a nub. But God turns nubs into masterpieces, doesn't He? He is the Master of the worn and the tired. He is a redeemer of things, of people, of situations. And it's not my job to figure everything out. Just to trust Him. And to listen to His voice. Because I have to tell you that when it comes to making decisions I hear a lot of voices. But I only need to listen to one of them.

"Listen to God's voice in everything you do."

Oh, and that is what I need. Because when I am listening to His voice, all the other's either line up with His or they blend into static, like a radio station out of tune. O, Lord, tune my mind, my heart, my will to the frequency of Your voice! And join me as I worship at the sound - the voice of the Shepherd, the Father, the Spirit.

Still here

My apologies to those of you who come here actually expecting updates. We were out with a team and I didn't have my computer with me.

Oh, hey, my mom is here visiting! We're really, really excited. It's just cool. And Deacon is getting great time with "grammy"

It's strange to come back and hear all the news from back in the States. Bridges falling, Ian Thomas went home, Bonds hits 756, the Cowboys won a game. Strange.

Well, I have some things I'd like to blog about. Today though, we did pretty much nothing. I took a nap. It was nice. Hopefully I will have time tomorrow.

Friday

Recovery of Factory Default Software

Sigh.

This is what I am doing.

The laptop wouldn't boot up this morning. So I went online to troubleshoot. I did what I could, safe mode stuff, but to no avail. So I called tech support and they re-did all the stuff I had done. No dice.

The tech guy asked me if I had all my documents backed up.

That's a horrible question.

I said, "Well, not all of it."

He said, "You might want to do that sir."

So I spent the next 4 hours moving files and pictures and whatnot from the laptop to the desktop. And I think I got it all.

The laptop is telling me.

"Now recovering. Please wait."

Sigh. And of course the office software is in another country.

Sigh.

Technology: mankind's most binding freedom.

Wednesday

Neighbors

Apparently neighbors are important.

I mean, Jesus told us that the 2nd most important thing in all the world is to love them so, I guess that bumps them up pretty high.

Let me tell you about my neighbors.

Our side of the street:

Vilma and Wilson and their daughter live right next door. Vilma helps us around the house and also works for the guesthouse. She's great and wow - she makes fun of me a lot. We take it as a compliment. Her husband catches a bus at 6:15 every morning (m-f I think) and gets home about 8 or 9. He's a mechanic and he works really hard. We trust them enough to let them watch bela when we're gone so, hopefully that's alright.

The next neighbor I know is Alfredo. He is a carpenter and went to the US when he was 13. You read that right. And he lived there for 6 years learning to be a carpenter. The CBC team knows that he knows what he is doing. He's very talented. Not sure if he knows Jesus yet so we're working on that. He has a wife (who we haven't met yet) and a son. And I envy his power tools.

That's all I know on that side of the street. There is a typing school and someone lives above that - we buy empanadas from them but, sadly, do not know their names.

The other side:

Just across the street lives a family with a grandma and a couple with 2 small children. Don't know their names either. But Mario also lives there and he's getting married in December. Jose, Mario's brother, lives next door and he owns a body shop. He's the guy I asked to help me get the dog house on the roof. That whole family is believers and Jose is on holy fire for Jesus. It's a lot of fun. Jose speaks a little English but Spanish seems to work better for us. They are a really neat family. Jose's daughters (and some other girls) keep picking flowers and trying to give them to Deacon while he is taking a nap. If we don't answer the door bell they cram the flowers under the door.

Next to Jose lived Rigo and his family. I actually don't know his family, only him, and I don't know if he is a believer or not. Better ask Jose. He would know. Rigo is the guy that hung off our balcony. Very brave.

There are 3-4 other houses down that way and I recognize the people but, I just realized, I don't know their names. That's sad, ain't it? I just haven't met the rest of them. With time. A friend gave us the idea of buying a ton of hotdogs and having a block party. I think we'll plan that.

On the far corner from us is a tienda (a little store) that sells all the stuff you need from day to day: water, soap, snacks, drinks, brooms. We buy a few things there but we buy tortillas in another place.

Last, and the best, are the Coreanos. They are the other RMI couple here with us and we literally share a wall. They are helping us understand the meaning of neighbor and we could not be more thankful to God for them. Without them, we would probably have left Guatemala already. We work together, but more importantly we live life together and that has made us friends. Their daughter and Deacon are only a few weeks apart. We borrow movies and whatever from them. If they are not home when the trash guy comes we take out their trash. When they weren't home and it was raining I went to check to make sure their house wasn't flooding. It was, but that's what towels are for. We live next door and we love each other. It's - wonderful. And it's just a little taste of how good the Lord is to us.

Tell me about your neighbors! And don't be shy - I don't know half of mine yet either.

Darkness and Light

I heard two things yesterday.

I heard from a tiny speaker two horses gallop: a mare steady and deep and a foal sure and quick; side by side, running with joy and health and hope. I heard the tiny heartbeat of our baby blended with the heartbeat of my wife. Two hearts: one tiny and strong and fast. The other calm and strong. One giving life to the other. I saw the light of joy in Jenny's eyes as she heard that tiny thump and felt what I will never feel: a life inside. The hand of God knitting together a life to our great awe and wonder. And I worshiped.

I heard the phone ring at six past eleven. A friend's voice quiet and sure. A man we know, a friend, we rent houses from him. He is dead. He was amable, kind and honest. He was 23. He was gordo. He is dead. His life taken from him. No answers. No reasons yet. His horse gallops no longer. We scramble to ask our neighbors what we need to do. How do you mourn here? And I wept.

For tears and hope speak all languages. Cross all cultures.

And today I have them both.

Sunday

A little ramble

I have not posted much lately because, well, I have not sat down and done it. We have teams coming in right now and there are really a lot of things going on right now that require thinking.

Frankie a.k.a. ugly, was put to sleep last week. A sad time for mom and dad. But like when all pets die you think about how good a life they had and that you loved them as best you could and you cry and miss them and then after awhile it's not so sad.

We got Bela vaccinated for whatever the vet vaccinates for in Guatemala. Get this. It cost about $15. not bad. Too bad we have to wait 4 days after her flea treatment to bathe her. Whew.

Jenny is doing well with the baby. She's tired a lot but remains the most amazing woman ever. She's just fantastic. You should try her home-made cinnamon rolls. Mercy. I love you Jenny!

Deacon is like a puppy just let out of his kennel. He either runs or sits. Walking is not in his locomotive vocabulary. But he's so sweet. I never thought I could love someone so much after only knowing him 18 months.

Well, that's about it for now. No deep thoughts. I reckon I have them in there but they can wait for another day. Enjoy your week and your freedom in the Lord! And give someone a hug so big it they squeak a little.

To the folks of CBC

I apologize for the complete lack of posting. Been very busy.

July 3rd - 10th we had a team of 5 from CBC come to build bunks for the guest house. How marvelous to spend time with you all. So Faith, Bridget, Julie, Nate and Mike -thank you.

Here's a look at what happened.

They built these amazing bunks. And yes, girls use power tools just as well as the fellas.












































And yes, that is Mike Farney laying down on the Job :-)














But they also had a little time to relax, enjoy Guatemala and get to hang out with our neighbors. Who LOVED it. Oh, and they broke in our chimenea.


























So thanks you guys. You made us realize a little more why we are here and also what we really miss in Texas - the people we love.

Tuesday

How do You Get a Doghouse on the roof?

SO.

I bought a doghouse.

We have a dog, a lab, Bella, and she spends time each day outside on the 3rd floor of our house which happens to be a patio. It is divided into 2 sections. One for the dog and for hanging laundry, one with plants and a table and a chiminea, dubbed the Adult Patio because, well, we need a place to sit and talk and not have dogs and kids.

During the day, instead of being in her kennel, Bella goes to the roof. It's rainy season so when it rains everyday she doesn't have anywhere to go. So we bought a doghouse for her.

a Big One.

It's 4x4x4 feet with a little tin roof and it's great. Except for one thing: The doors are only 3 feet wide. Now I know that it's a great idea to think through things before you do them. But the doghouse was a good price and we needed one ASAP and so when I drove by the guy on the side of the road who was selling them I bought it. And it fit in the pickup. Barely.

So I bring it home and it weighs probably 200 pounds so I think about things for a minute and think about things a little more. And I figure I could get it up to the 3rd floor if I had a good enough rope and a good enough back and a little luck. So I tied a nylon rope to the doghouse and the other end to a table on the roof and went up to the roof and tried to pull the house up.

It didn't work.

I couldn't even get it off the ground. So I'm 3 stories up trying to pull a 64 cubic foot 200 pound doghouse up to my roof and I stop to think a little more. And I see Jose, my neighbor, working on his new auto repair shop. I trot downstairs and ask for a little help. We tie little more rope and both go up to the roof and pull and get it about 6 inches off the ground before we decide there must be a better way. And we come up with 2 options:

1. Take the thing apart - requiring lots of time
2. Get more guys.

We go with option 2.


Jose (that's him in the blue) calls his brother Mario over and their neighbor Rodrigo and I borrow a REALLY big rope from Enrique and we tie the house off and Jose and I start pulling. After laughing and not getting it off the ground, we bring the other two guys up.




And we have liftoff.



Notice the size of the thing. I know. It's way too big. It's big enough to sleep Deacon in. But I already bought it and so I had to do something with it. So 3 of us haul the thing up to the edge of the roof.






And Rodrigo hops onto the ledge 30 feet up to haul the thing over.

We were legitimately scared that he would fall. He didn't, but we were really scared that he would. So we get the thing to the edge and flip it over. Once we got it up there we still had to heft it over another roof because the house is too big to fit through the new doggie gate. And after that we put it on the roof. I asked Vilma, another neighbor, what I could do to thank them, because, come on, that's a lot of work. And she said, "Tell them thank you very much. And maybe get them some water." Jenny asked what they wanted to drink and they wanted a Red Bull (gives you wings) and so we got them some. And that was it. No big deal for them. They laughed and made jokes about the house and went about their business. They expected nothing. That's just how Guatemalans are. But when they knockon my door and need a little help - I'm going to help. It's the least I can do.


I hope the dog enjoys it.

Sunday

Happy Sunday

Whew!

Do you like Sundays?

They are, most of them, relaxing around our house. We try not to go out too much for errands (groceries, etc) and like to cook easier meals so we don't have to clean up too much. It's amazing what not having a dishwasher will change. We spend time together and play with Deacon without having to worry about being somewhere or doing something else. It's just nice. Not always a 'day off', but nice. Makes us miss our families, though.

We don't really work 9-5. I mean, "ministry" is not monday-friday and "mom", well, that's darn near 24/7. And Deacon has been sick so, you who have had an 18 month old with a really bad middle ear infection know that that's like. Just awful.

We have our first team of the summer coming monday and there is an amazing amount of things to get done. We and the Coreanos have been running on all cylinders for about 2 weeks now and we have 3 more weeks until a break. Maybe a mini-break is in order today. We'll see.

So, I don't know what you do on Sundays, but try to do it today. Whatever you do to rest, do it when you can. Sometimes you can't and that's, well, that's life.

I consider any day where I can take a nap a day of rest. Or a day where I can just sort of do whatever I like - which might be working around the house or building something or just playing with Deacon and taking a nap when he does and watching a movie with Jenny. Maybe it's a state of mind...I don't know.

Actually, what do YOU do to rest? It might be nice to get a fresh idea out there.

Saturday

Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing?

What I mean is, are you doing what God created you to do?

Now I'm not talking about specifics like are you supposed to be a dentist. I'm talking much grander than that.

What's an apple tree supposed to do? Make apples, right? When an apple tree isn't making apples its, well, just a tree and maybe a dead one because healthy apple trees only do one thing: make apples. Now they make leaves and bark and shade and flowers but these are all just supporting roles so that the real show, making apples, can go on.

So what are we supposed to be doing? And why am I asking?

This morning I read Psalm 103. I mean, wow. Do you know this one? It starts like this:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name"

And then it goes on to tell in history's most amazing poetry who God is.

Like this: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

Now, I am not like this. Some days, maybe. But most? Not hardly. But God ALWAYS is.

And we all have heard this:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

What does hearing that make you want to do?? Does it make you sad because you have sin? Does it make you feel small? Don't feel those things! Because He has removed our transgressions from us. Oh, soar with that information!

The Psalm finishes with this most glorious command; a cosmic call to worship:

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Are you doing what God made you to do? He made us to worship Him! To bless Him. To praise Him. To know Him. To Love Him. To Serve Him. Just to be with Him. His whole plan in creating us will be accomplished by what Jesus has done. And we get to worship Him because of it. I don't care how you pay the bills. That's a job and won't last forever. But worshiping God because of who He is - that will go on forever!

So today, Saturday, take time to look at who God is. Talk with Him. Listen to Him. And when you read something like Psalm 103 or watch a sunset or laugh with a little child or paint or take a photo or play a trumpet or see a thunderstorm or just sit and in the stillness, in the quiet think about what God has done and what He WILL do - and praise Him. PRAISE HIM. How you do that is between you and the Lord. There are LOTS of kinds of apples, right? So make today what ONLY YOU can do. Special praise to God from you, the only you in all eternity. God wants your unique praise, your one-of-a-kind worship - because He made you to do it!

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Friday

A simple thing



Yesterday we ate at Wendy's.

While very normal in the States it was quite the treat. You see, a new Wendy's just opened in Xela, just across the street from McDonald's. The first Wendy's in town.

Yesterday I ate a Wendy's #1 with cheese and fries and a Frosty. A FROSTY.

Wow.


Today things seems a little more right with the world.

Wednesday

June Rants and Raves

I haven't done this in awhile. Please add your own! Only Rules:

1)Must end on a rave.
2)Must have more raves than rants.

Rave - the climate in Xela. It's called the Land of Eternal Spring. It's, well, y'all in Texas come down to cool off.

Rant - Guatemalan tap water. Parasites. It wears on you.

Rave - Toddlers. Mine in particular. I love how you explore and live and run and laugh.

Rave - Sleep. You make the day much better.

Rant - Sleep. I would like a little more.

Rave - The internet. Holy smokes. Because of it we can make and receive local DFW calls.

Rant - The cost of electricity here. Whew.

Rave - That we don't need an air conditioner.

Rant - Stinky garbage. Man, I wish we had a dumpster.

Rave - The garbage man. For $3.50 a month you take away the stink. Thank you.

Rave - Activa yogurt. I know it's a dollar a bottle but you help us stay healthy.

Rant - Our lack of a yard. Dog poop + concrete patio + rainy season = nasty

Rave - Hammer drills. When you live in a concrete block house it sure makes life easier.

Rant - Cheap masonry drill bits. Arrgh. I know they are only $2, but come on.

Rave - My brilliant wife. Thank you for being 80% of our collective brain.

Rave - Guatemalans. I think they are just nicer than most folks.

Rave - Lysol. You make mildew die.

Rant - Guatemalan construction. Please, please make it right the first time. My neighbors and I are tired of mopping up every time it rains.

Rave - The Body of Christ. Nothing compares. really.

Rant - Entropy. Why can't things just keep working?

Rave - The sun. Thank you for drying our clothes and making the plants grow. Oh, and keeping the planet warm.



Any you want to add? Try it. It's fun.

Monday

Just enjoy today!

Yesterday was Father's Day and I wasn't able to call my dad or spend any time with him. That's one of the most very crummy parts of living in another country. But I was able to spend time with my little boy. He wasn't even in the best of moods yesterday (maybe a new tooth?) but that didn't matter too much. All he wanted to do was be held or cuddled or touched in some way even if it was just to sit in my lap and read the same book 25 times or watch elmo while he woke up from his nap. If I set him down to do something and he had to be away from me be fussed and reached his little hands up in the air and tried to get in front of where I was going and grab onto my pants and climb up me. He was only satisfied when I paid attention to him again, when I was just with him.

Psalm 97 says this:

11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous
And gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.

It says, "be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones." I'm only righteous because of Jesus - but that means I'm REALLY righteous. How much more righteous could a person get than for God to say, "You are righteous"? So that means I can 'be glad in the LORD'. Just like Deacon was only satisfied when my attention was turned to him, so should I only be satisfied when MY attention is turned to God. Because His attention is turned to me, to you, to each one of His children. I can be glad in Him, I can sit in His lap, talk with Him, and give thanks to Him. He sows light for us to enjoy and plants seeds of gladness into our hearts. What better way for those seeds to grow into big huge Gladness Plants that bear huge Gladness Fruit than to spend time with the one who makes it all anyway?

To be glad means to, "experience pleasure, joy, or delight, to be made pleased, satisfied, or grateful; marked by, expressive of, or caused by happiness and joy, or causing happiness and joy."

God invites us to experience pleasure, joy and delight in Him and to be a people marked by happiness and even to be people who cause happiness and joy in others. How? By experiencing our Heavenly Father! By being unwilling to accept anything other than genuine fellowship with Him. By spending time with Him and listening and learning and being 'made glad'

So be glad today! Enjoy today! Let the Lord cultivate those seeds of light and gladness. Spend time with your heavenly Father today and let Him leave His aroma of gladness all over you so that others can enjoy Him too!

Thank You Lord!

Thursday

Woohoo Earthquake!

So we had an earthquake yesterday.

We're good. We we sitting down to lunch when, well, things started shaking. A picture fell down and the kid-gate on the stairs rattled. The lights on the ceiling, which are on chains, started swaying and Jenny said, "What's going on." I yelled, "It's an earthquake!" and we stood under a support beam while Deacon wolfed down meatloaf.

Sort of cool.

Tuesday

Lets get dirty

I was reading a blog I like the other day and came across this:

"I think that our society - especialy the church - tends to disregard addicts of any kind and turn their back on them when things start to get a little too real. They offer what looks like hope, what looks like support, but only until somebody has to actually take a look at themselves. They offer a helping hand, but it's attached to a very long pole.

By the way - it doesn't help. It makes everything worse. The church is supposed to be God's hands here on earth - but not the back of His hands."

I really liked that.

I've read "ragamuffin gospel" and I'm a fan of Rich Mullins. I think he would agree. More importantly, I think Jesus would agree. Actually, I know He would. Because who did He hang out with? sinners. Dirty, rotten sinners. The Pharisees didn't like it because religious folks aren't supposed to do that. They're supposed to be clean. But the heroes of the Bible, they're not clean. They are redeemed by grace.

Look at this list:

Abraham - child out of wedlock is the father of the Arab people
Rahab - a prostitute
Moses - murderer
Jacob - liar, polygamist
David - adulterer, murderer, polygamist
Peter - liar
Matthew - fraudulent tax collector

And this is a very short list.

I mean, read this:

Matt 9
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

WOW! How different is that from how so much of the church deals with people? We're really not very good at it. And I'm not sure why. Do you know?

Anyway. If the grace of the Lord covers it all, let's get out there and tell it to the people who need to hear it. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. That's revolutionary! And it's - well, it's God. He's pretty revolutionary and we get to get dirty with Him. The coolest thing about it will be when we're all worshiping at the feet of Jesus - all clean, because he came to us sinners to pick us up and make us like Him.

Monday

I needed that

Please read aloud:

Psalm 93 (New Living)

1 The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty.
Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.
The world stands firm
and cannot be shaken.

2 Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial.
You yourself are from the everlasting past.
3 The floods have risen up, O Lord.
The floods have roared like thunder;
the floods have lifted their pounding waves.
4 But mightier than the violent raging of the seas,
mightier than the breakers on the shore—
the Lord above is mightier than these!
5 Your royal laws cannot be changed.
Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever.


No matter how loud the oceans roar, how hard the waves pound or how high the water gets, God, my God, the LORD, my Savior, my King - He is mightier than all of them. He roars louder. He stands firmer. He cannot be moved and so I stand on HIM because the waves, the thundering crushing pounding waves - they come, oh they come and I need to know there is someone who can hold me while they roar.

Sunday

Confessions of a short tempered man

Those of you who know me well probably know this already, but I'm not the longest-suffering fellow. Well, yesterday I had the opportunity to demonstrate this.

We have not had curtains in our bedroom here - ever. So at 5:30 the sun is shining in like Shachina glory and it's really hard to sleep in past 6:00 or so. Oh, and the fact the that neighbors can see in our bedroom causes a multitude of problems.

So yesterday I get the opportunity to finally hang the curtains. Not an abnormally difficult job. However...

The walls here are all reinforced concrete block which means you have to drill holes with a masonry bit and a hammer drill, set anchors, and then screw things into the wall. Should not be too hard. So I make marks for the curtain rod holders and commence drilling. And hit re-bar.

Now re-bar is not good on drill bits and so after I bent the 3/16 bit I was using because that was the anchor size, I continued to try to use it because I did not want to go find other anchors. Of course, a bent drill bit does not a clean hole make, so the anchors didn't fit anyway. And I couldn't drill deep enough to set the anchors correctly. So I got frustrated.

And I stayed frustrated while I tried to drill in other locations, all unsuccessful. And this began my downward spiral. When I finally got an anchor in, and tried to put the screw in the anchor, the head of the screw twisted off rendering the whole apparatus useless.

Instead of stepping back and thinking things through, I just got angry and hollered about the ridiculousness of re-bar and how cheap the bits were and how if people made things correctly, if quality mattered in this country, that none of this would have happened. And this continued for 20 minutes or so until my lovely and patient wife came up to see if I had given myself an ulcer and needed medical attention.

I am certain this was the Lord giving me an opportunity to be patient and trust Him for patience and to not become angry at silly things. It was an opportunity that I most thoroughly missed. And in missing it I missed out on a lot of things.

Jenny came up and very sweetly told me (after I had cooled down) that when I was yelling, Deacon pointed upstairs and said, "Daddy."

Sigh. So that hit home pretty well.

I don't want to teach my son that daddy's lose their temper at little things. I will lose my temper again, but I don't have to. When the Lord says that the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God He's not kidding. When he tells me that a fool always looses his temper but a wise man holds it back, He's not kidding either. So I have a choice to make when it comes to losing my temper. Losing my temper. It's more like I found it and then sprayed it all over the room. I don't think I lose my temper more than I let my temper dictate my actions. And that temper can be held back because the Bible tells me so. And when I am relying on the Lord and dealing with life through His ways and not mine, then patience is the fruit instead of anger.

So, for all us short tempered folks out there, just this next time, let's hold it back by asking the Lord the help us. When you feel your blood pressure rise, step away and sit and ask the Lord to help. My wife suggested that. Since she's my helper (and oh wow, is she) I think I should listen.

Oh, and the curtains look great.

Even if they are a little crooked.

Tuesday

Volver

I hadn't been in the Bible much for the past couple of days and that's never a good thing. So this morning I finally dragged my lazy tush out of bed at what was supposed to be 5:30 but ended up more like 6:00.

Because of that I only got a few minutes before the house woke up, but man, 15 minutes is a whole heck of a lot better than 0.

And I read Psalm 88 which is maybe the saddest chapter in the Psalms if not the Bible.

Here's how it begins:

1
O LORD, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.

2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of trouble
and my life draws near the grave

Now that's sorrow. And a lot of Psalms start out that way. People just raw before the Lord. People in real trouble. The difference with this Psalm is how it ends.

16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.

17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.

18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.

No resolution. No happy ending. No release from the tension. Why? Because, for a time, that's how life is. I'm not trying to be hopeless but a lot of people feel this way and there doesn't seem to be much of a way out this side of heaven because God's promises are not just for this life - they are for eternity.

But the wait for eternity can be a long one.

And one thing I've found out is that it's a whole lot better to wait together. The psalmist ends with the deepest of sadness that "you have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend" I don't know much about Heman the Ezrahte, the author, but the man understood that suffering and suffering alone are worlds apart.

So this is dedicated to those of you who suffer. Unless you are in Guatemala, I cannot give you a hug or take you to coffee or sit and cry with you. But I can pray for you and ask the Lord to send someone your way. And I can ask that anyone else reading this, if you know someone whose closest friend is darkness, reach out to that person. In Matt 8 when a leper asked Jesus to heal him, Jesus reached out and touched him, shattering every social and religious no-no by the simplest of actions. This life is too short to be this long. Let's help each other through it.

Friday

Mother in Law's

My mother in law, Debbie, is coming to Guatemala tomorrow. And we are so excited. I am one of those few husbands blessed to have fantastic in-laws. They could not be better.

So, if you don't hear from us for a day or two its because we are enjoying time with her. Its her first time out of the country and we could not be more pumped to show her our new home country.

Thanks for being wonderful, Debbie.

Thursday

And yes, God is still good














On the way to San Jose...Actually Comitancillo, we went through a town called San Marcos.

We don't care too much for this town because it's really difficult to find our way through. The streets are narrow, crowded and steep. Every time we drive through it we take a different route because we can't remember how we got through the maze last time.

Enrique was pulled up at a light. I was behind him pointed at about 2 O'clock because I was going around a parked taxi on my left. The light turned and so did Enrique. To our right a chicken bus was trying to wedge his way past me. The only problem with that is I was actually IN his way. So I honked and honked and screamed in spanish but, like always, he didn't hear and continued to scrape by me. Most of the paint washed off the dent due to the rain but it was a really pretty red and green.

So as we (Jenny, Deacon and I) are getting pushed into the taxi and the fender scratched by the bus, I remember thinking, "Hm. Not much I can do here."

After the bus had 'passed' I got out, locked the doors and calmly, thanks to Jenny's prayers, looked the damage over and watched in disbelief as the bus drove off. The taxi driver wasn't that upset and thankfully the traffic cop who witnessed the whole think seemed to think I was not at fault.

Enrique and I then went with the cop to the bus company owners house (weird, I know, but it's Guatemala) and talked to him. Then we went to see the actual bus owner while Enrique called the insurance company. We have bang up insurance. No pun intended. Well, maybe a little. Oh, Jenny, Chrissie, Deacon and Marissa were safely locked up in the trucks waiting for our return.

So the guy who owns the bus company talked just slightly more mumbly than Mush-Mouth from Fat Albert.
I was trying really hard to understand him but there was just no way. I got about 40% of what he was saying and I figured that he just wanted to pay us for the accident instead of going through the insurance. Why? Because that's what people do in the states. But we're not in the states so I brought Enrique in to help. The guy just wanted to make sure we knew he was available in case we had any problems. That's all. I have a lot to learn.

After that we loaded up and went to Comi. The pastor's seminar was just fantastic. The Lord really brought it together. Well received, no one fell asleep. A wonderful time of ministry. Thank you for your prayers. Praise God for His faithfulness. Wreck and all, He proves He is still good.

I do have some sort of bug - trying to figure out if I should wait it out or blast it with something. Es la vida.