Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking like John Wayne

If you see me and I am walking like John Wayne, it is because we having been doing a lot of biking lately and it is killing my tookus.  Today we rode over 12 miles and I think my rear started seriously protesting at about mile 7.  When I am riding with the girls, we ride fairly slow, so 12 miles of biking is a LONG time on the ole bikero.  I think I am going to have to cave and spring for some padded bike shorts.  And maybe even a new seat.  And 50 inches of foam padding.

Whaddya think??

My Trip to Austria

In May I was blessed with the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Austria and also do some touring of the country.  I know what you are thinking:  Mission trip to Austria??  Well yes, it was a mission trip, even if it was what someone teased was the "sissy mission trip".  I was serving at a Christian institute outside Vienna, TCM International Institute as a short-term worker.  TCMI provides seminary training to students from eastern Europe and central Asia, providing an education that otherwise would be out of reach.  TCM's short-term workers provide housekeeping, hospitality, kitchen and groundskeeping assistance to the full-time staff of TCM, who in turn are serving the students living and studying there.  It was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to go back.  It was awesome to meet the students and faculty of TCMI and hear about what God is doing in their home lands.  Our group was extra fortunate in that we were able to attend this year's graduation ceremony.  Here are just a few photos from my time there.

Haus Edelweiss - the "big house", which holds the kitchen & dining room, student and staff housing, and a large classroom.
Our pastor, Aaron Brockett, giving the commencement address.  Graduates are seated to the left.  Isn't this room amazing??  It is in a very, very, very old monastery just up the road from Haus Edelweiss. 
A very happy graduate and his family.  His name escapes me at the moment, but he is from Hungary.
Me and my fellow Hospitality peeps.
Another building at the Haus Edelweiss campus.  With the red and green door, it looks like Santa's cottage. 
A view of Vienna from most the way up one of the towers of St. Stephens cathedral.  It was 300 some small winding steps up to this point.  Notice the overcast day - this was order of the day most the time we were there.  Except when it was raining.
Coffee at a real Viennese coffee house!!  The stuffed animal is Hannah's, like a not so Flat Stanley.  Also note the huge piece of apfelstrudel.  Yum!
One of the never-ending amazing views from the train on the way from Salzburg to Innsbruck.  As a native "flat lander", I could not get enough of the mountains.  So beautiful. 
Looking down the street in old town Innsbruck.  Can you imagine having that kind of view everyday??  I don't think I would ever take it for granted.  (Did you notice the blue skies?!  God was very good to provide sunshine for the tail end of our trip.  I think I appreciated the beauty of everything so much more because I was so grateful to see the sun)

Okay, that is all for now.  I have billions of photos though, and will show you more later.  (I'm sure you can't wait!)

Monday, June 28, 2010


My parents split up the summer before I went into 5th grade.  Actually, we had been living in Florida and my brother, sister and I flew by ourselves from Florida to Indiana on the day our new school started.  (Mom and Dad were still in Florida at that point.)  Imagine starting at a new school in a rather small town (the day after everyone else) and dealing with the separation and being away from your parents and being in that wonderfully awkward 5th grade place all at once.  It was a not-so-stellar time in the life of me.

I don't remember my parents fighting, ever, but I do remember in 4th grade sitting with my mom on a plane and asking her if she and Dad were going to get divorced.  As an adult, I figure there must have been something I had seen/heard/picked up on, but I have blocked it out of my memory.  I considered myself pretty observant or sensitive or something (to have picked up on this impending change to our family) until I had this recent conversation with the girls:

(We are biking through the neighborhood)
K: Momma, are you and Dad going to get divorced?
Me: (almost flipping over the handle bars of the bike) Noooooo.  Why?
K: Well lately, you have been fighting a lot.
Me: No we haven't.  When?  We have not been fighting.
K: Well, you have...
(commence argument about arguing; honest I can't recall any recent argument with the hubby)
Me: Me and Dad are fine.  And we haven't been fighting.
H: (to K) ALL married couples are supposed to fight.  It's like a rule or something.

And, I guess that's how it is.  Who knew.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Monon Moments

Took a family bike ride down the Monon Saturday.  Some random thoughts:
  • From Kaylie:  "You know what I like about the Monon Trail?  Number 1, the restaurants where you can stop and eat.  Number 2, the shade from the trees.  Number 3, the signs.  And number 4, the line." (with special emphasis on lii-iiinnne)
  • We rode 11 miles.  I didn't think this was that long, but anytime the hubby tells someone they say "Wow!".  Did we really ride that far, or do people just think he's out of shape?
  • I am concerned about all these people walking the trail in flip flops.  I hope they are not walking far.  Don't they know this is bad for their feet?
  • Saw a dude with baggy bike shorts.  How does that happen?
  • Saw another dude with a pocket in his bike shorts, right on his lower back.  For some reason, I found this really icky.
  • I think I need a cushier seat.
  • I love strawberry frozen yogurt.  (oh, yeah, we stopped for a snack)  Remember how popular frozen yogurt used to be?  Does TCBY even exist anymore?  (If so, where is the nearest location??)
  • HOW do people do multi-day 25+miles per day rides?  They must be made of steel.  Or marshmallow.

(I know this qualifies as one of those inane, who really cares posts, but it is my blog and no one is forcing anyone else to read it, so I can say whatever I want (within reason, of course).  Right?)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A closer look at Esther

I am a big fan of the biblical heroine, Esther.  Have read a few commentaries on the book, but this was a very unique way of examining her life.  I liked this book, it made Esther and her contemporaries very real and led you to think of her story a little differently.   

Ginger Garrett’s retelling of this classic story gives new perspective
to one of Scripture’s most beloved figures

Based on the historical account of Queen Esther of Persia, Chosen, by Ginger Garrett, is a contemporary account of this beloved and ancient story. Uniquely written in first-person diary format, renderings of Esther’s thoughts and experiences are interspersed with current-time news excerpts, which show how Esther’s tale is woven into our own lives.

Chosen tells the story of Queen Esther, the young woman with the future of her nation in her hands. Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living. Quick of mind and strong in spirit, she refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him as queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future—and that of an entire nation.

Here is the video book trailer:

Chosen, by Ginger Garrett from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music to Move By??

Interesting music choices in boot camp aerobics Monday.  First we are holding these squats while David Crowder Band is singing "forever and ever and ever..."  Not like it didn't already feel like I had been holding that position forever already.  (Here's the song if you don't know it.  The "and ever and ever and ever and..." part comes near the middle of the clip.)

Then, further into the workout some song is playing about living for today like you are going to die tomorrow.  Me, I just hope I don't have a heart attack in the middle of class.  Course, if I die tomorrow it means I survived today's class, at least.

Going to have to ask instructor if he plans playlist this way on purpose... (at least it gave me something to think about other than sore thighs.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cool VBS or Sunday School Project

Operation Kid-to-Kid™ Blankets a Hurting World with God’s Love

Tonight in countries around the world, children will go to sleep hungry and cold, without parents, without homes...without hope. Now your ministry group can send a simple, tangible expression of God’s love to those in need.

Group Publishing, the premier publisher of children’s Bible curricula, including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children who are experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. Through the Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K) program, Group partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like Biblica (formerly International Bible Society) and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God’s love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. In 2009 alone, Operation Kid-to-Kid reached almost one million children. Since its inception 12 years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted over 4.5 million kids and their communities all over the world. Highlights include:
  • Over 100,000 care kits distributed to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Albania
  • More than 380,000 gift boxes sent to needy children worldwide
  • Over 310,000 pairs of shoes and 200,000 pairs of socks given to orphans across the globe
  • Over 1.5 million Spanish Bible books delivered worldwide
  • More than a million cuddly prayer bears and copies of The Survivor’s Bible provided free of charge to underprivileged children all over the world
“Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service,” says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. “Children learn by doing. It’s one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers.”

This year’s OK2K project is a simple no-sew fleece blanket that proclaims “God Loves Me!” right in the fabric. Each 56” by 42” blanket will also include a hidden surprise—a little white heart concealed between the fleece layers. The heart is a sweet secret kept by those who create the blankets, one that symbolizes God’s love for the world and our love for others. Project participants are encouraged to pray specifically for the unknown person who will receive the blanket as they tuck the heart inside.

The OK2K blanket can easily be incorporated into any Sunday school or VBS curriculum. This year, the “God Loves Me” blanket is included as a special activity in Group’s two new 2011 VBS programs, Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace and High Seas Expedition. The multi-generational participants will learn about the 40 million children around the world who are desperately vulnerable because of the AIDS pandemic and the effects of extreme poverty. Through Group’s partnership with World Vision, blankets created this year will reach children in Africa coping with the pandemic’s effects on their communities or families, including those who have been orphaned. Instructions for delivering the blankets to World Vision for distribution are included with each blanket kit. To make the gift extra special, churches can send a personalized “God Loves Me” coloring book with each blanket.

Over the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. But the ministry opportunities are not just for kids. Between recent natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and the lingering effects of the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for Christians to show the love of Christ to others in need—and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year. Because the “God Loves Me” blanket project is so simple and practical, it is a perfect fit for a variety of ministry opportunities, from youth or women’s groups and short-term mission trips to neighborhood outreach initiatives and ministry to the homeless. With a little imagination, a ministry group of any size and age can customize the project to support its own ministry vision.

“For many of us, a mission-focused heart is something that develops over time. Like any aspect of Christ’s character in us, loving others like Christ loves them takes practice. This is a lesson for adults as well as children,” says Schultz. “Hopefully, OK2K service projects like the ‘God Loves Me’ blanket will encourage Christians of all ages to commit greater time and resources to missions.”

To find out how you can get involved, visit www.ok2k.org!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Meeting of the Waters

Here is another book you may want to check out...

The Meeting of the Waters takes a look at seven trends that will impact the future church

A young Christian from Ireland moves to India—not to evangelize but to help girls escape prostitution. A retiring missionary in Brazil who long ago left all remnants of home encounters a thirty-year-old, laptop-carrying family man who rarely stops texting friends in the States. A Kenyan pastor struggles to connect with a congregation that watches a mega church pastor on the Internet every Sunday morning.

The community of Christians around the world—also known as the Global Church—is stunning in its scope and spiritual impact. But what is happening to the Church as technology, generational transitions, and cultural shifts make their mark?

In The Meeting of the Waters, Fritz Kling identifies seven trends—mercy, mutuality, migration, monoculture, machines, mediation and memory—having an impact on today’s Global Church. Equal parts travelogue, character study, and global documentary, this breakthrough book is for anyone eager to make a difference in a changing world.

The Meeting of the Waters is the result of Fritz Kling’s intensive research of the global church. Kling has spent the past decade in the heart of the global Church, traveling through villages and cities in every corner of the world. As a foundation executive, he has worked alongside both high-level leaders and grass-roots workers and has an insider’s story to tell. In 2006 alone, Kling conducted 151 hour-long interviews with church leaders in 19 developing world countries which is the basis for The Meeting of the Waters.

“Over the past eight years I have met with more than a thousand indigenous church leaders from forty different countries. I have earned Premium Elite status on United Airlines, bounced through endless van rides, and drunk gallons of coffee, Coke and chai in both slums where you could not drink the water and skyscrapers. Secular commentators have long written about globalization’s wake, and I have witnessed it firsthand—through a Christian lens,” explains Kling.

Kling’s travel experiences are truly fascinating. “During my travels, I have walked where Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci walked in 16th century China. I have accompanied an Australian nurse as she tended to the elderly in an Asian leper village. I have learned from Russian preachers who were jailed during communist times. I have been spellbound by Ugandan underground church pastors as they described private audiences with heinous strongman Idi Amin,” Kling recalls.

He goes on to explain, “During those years, I have also had the privilege of meeting hundreds of people like Mission Marm. These people are my heroes. I find it impossible to travel the world seeing firsthand the sacrifices and fruit of past Christian workers’ efforts and not feel humbled and grateful. In difficult years past, fully expecting to live out their days in their new country, missionaries left port for their assigned country with their belongings packed in coffins. I can relate to 1950’s U.S. statesman Adlai Stevenson who, after visiting mission stations in Africa, was asked about what impressed him most. ‘The graves. At every mission station there were graves,’ he said.”

Fritz believes that God is on the move globally like never before. Neither an institution nor a bureaucracy, the global Church is incredibly adaptive and vibrant. It has long been the world’s most effective relief agent, meeting needs across the globe through justice advocacy, material aid, counseling, biblical proclamation, education, and more. That’s why understanding the seven global currents discussed in The Meeting of the Waters is so important.

The Meeting of the Waters by Fritz Kling
David C Cook/March 2010/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6484-3/233 pages/softcover/$16.99
The Meeting of the Waters, by Fritz Kling from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Unlikely Disciple/The Jonah Project

So I just finished reading the book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University.  The book was written by a Brown student who decided to go undercover for one semester at Liberty University, a Christian liberal arts college founded by Jerry Falwell.  The author, Kevin Roose, wanted to have a cross-cultural experience and, rather than travel abroad, he traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia to learn more about a subset of people a world away from his: evangelical Christians.

As an evangelical Christian who attended a Christian liberal arts college (Taylor University), I was a little scared to read this book.  I was afraid it would be mocking and sarcastic, and make the Liberty students out to be extreme caricatures.  I was pleasantly surprised that he seems to have presented the students and professors pretty fairly.  It is disappointing that Kevin had some of the experiences he did have - those that make me cringe and give Christians a bad reputation, and with "Christians" who inaccurately represent what living your life for Christ really is all about.  But it was encouraging that Kevin did learn something and grow from his time at Liberty and Kevin seems very sincere about his desire to learn and desire for people to come together.

One way the author is showing his sincerity about bringing cultures together (as well as his book-promoting ability) is a project he began called The Jonah Project.  With this project, Kevin Roose is encouraging people with philosophic, political, religious (etc) differences to come together and have a conversation (not a fight), and then share what they learned (or didn't learn) with the blogosphere.  (Oh, and they each get (and presumably read) a copy of Kevin's book).  Not sure how much will be gained from it, but I think it is a pretty good idea.

Below is a speech Kevin recently gave about the book and the Jonah Project.  It is long, but gives a good overview of his experience and the tone of the book.

Love to hear if you have any thoughts on this, or if you have read the book and want to share what you thought.

Kevin Roose at Gel 2010 (author, The Unlikely Disciple) from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peanuts on a Plane

How do you feel about peanuts on planes?  According to a recent AP release, Federal officials are once again considering banning peanuts on planes.  Is this really necessary?  Do we need to legistlate all these little details of our lives?   Even though the girls have a peanut allergy, I still think this is a little extreme. What is next?  The article estimates that 1.8 million Americans are allergic to peanuts.  That is a lot of Americans, but it isn't even close to being most or all.  Once we outlaw one thing that poses a threat to a minority of Americans, it opens the floodgates for anything and everything that might threaten anyone and everyone to be outlawed.  (I do think that airlines should take seriously requests from passengers who are extremely sensitive and provide some viable alternative, but that is far different than a blanket ruling).

And that is what I have to say about that.