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. :-)