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.