Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You know that I love you

Since the day I got married I haven't gone a single day without repeatedly telling Sarah I love her. We say it in different ways - from calling each other "Habibi" (which means beloved in Arabic), to cheesy text messages, to a simple "I love you". Of course without me saying a word she already knows I love her, but I also know she delights in me telling her so. And saying it often makes me smile. I get reminded of her beauty, her love for me, and God's grace in blessing us with each other.

In John 21, Jesus takes a stroll with his disciple Peter and asks him three times in a row: "Peter, do you love me?" After the third time Peter says, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." I picture him thinking something like, "C'mon man, you're omniscient. Why do you need me to tell you that I love you?" But Jesus wanted to hear Peter say it, not just feel it inside. And it was for Peter's benefit as much as for Jesus'.

I've been learning over the last few months how conscious repetition leads to rooted truth. Taking communion weekly at Cumberland Community Church reminds me of Christ's sacrifice and my participation in the Body. Praying with my wife every morning before I leave for work contributes to a more peaceful, Spirit-filled day. Wrestling every Tuesday night for the Lord's work among the nations keeps me globally-minded and in a mindset of prayer. And telling my wife "I love you" many times throughout the day only serves to increase that love and strengthen the hold the Spirit has on our hearts. And expressing my feelings verbally has got to have a direct correlation to why nowadays I laugh louder, cry more often(I'm on a 4-day streak), and grieve more deeply than I ever have before.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Introductions

First, let's welcome Jonathan to the world of blogging. Since we have a new dream to write a book while traveling around the world, Jonathan wanted to start blogging. I convinced him that blogging together was a very "one-ness" thing to do. He's great!

Second, I'm a dog blogger. Ali is much of the adventure in our lives right now, so, at risk of being nerdy, I'm embracing the life we live, and writing obout Ali.

He's been sick the last week, and no one can figure out what's wrong. It all started out with him polishing of a 10'' rawhide bone in about 20 minutes. In the following days, Ali become more docile and inactive, as well as moaning night after night, causing his parents to be thankful they don't have an actual baby. He also squirmed all the time, and would stretch his entire body in effort to get comfortable. We took him to the vet on Monday, and spent an exorbitant amount of money on x-rays, etc. to figure out the problem, but went home with some meds and a question mark about his illness.

Yesterday, he finally began to perk up, sitting in his usual perch at the window barking at any moving thing and sleeping through the night again, to the delight of his parents. I even came home yesterday to find him chewing on one of my shoes. Rather than disciplining him, I congratulated him on feeling almost normal again.

Here are his ridiculous positions:

Shocking... Amazing

A well-known story in the news this month has been about an incident in Florida where a 16-year-old girl was beat up by 6 other girls who lured her to a house and videotaped everything to post on YouTube. The girl even lost consciousness and woke up to more beating. Shocking to even hear about, I had my mouth open in disbelief as I saw portions of the video online. What would drive those teenagers to do something like that?

This morning I read this, in not-so-new news:
"They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him." (Matthew 27:28-31)

Even behind the counter at the coffee shop I wept as I read those words. A group of guys surrounded and beat up my savior... why? What would drive them to do such a thing? And as I thought of answers to that question I was reminded of a greater truth: Jesus loved them. No matter what they did or why, he would still go to the cross and die so that they might live. The Christ - the unblemished lamb who was slain - extends amazing grace to all. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day


Seeing as how yesterday was the official Earth Day (though I personally believe that every day should be earth day)...

what are you doing to save the planet???

I once read a quote by Dwight Moody on his environmental views: "Why polish a sinking ship?" I'm hoping that we, as a society (and followers of Christ) have moved past this perspective, and are learning to care for the land God gave us.

Here are some stats:
  • The average American contributes 1,859 pounds of air pollution to the atmosphere each year.
  • Running a refrigerator and freezer for one year can produce as much pollution as driving a car from Chicago to Las Vegas.
  • Each mile a person travels in an airplane accounts for 1.08 pounds of greenhouse gases.
  • Every minute, 37,000 empty soft drink bottles are thrown away in the United States
  • 70% of the grain we grow in the U.S. is fed to farm animals, and 50% of the water we use is for farm animals.
  • The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth.19 About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone.
  • It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of edible animal flesh.
I believe there are simple things we (myself included) can do to care for our planet (and the people on it). Here's what I'm doing:
  • Using re-usable canvas bags for my groceries, rather than plastic.
  • Going vegetarian--not only because of the resources wasted on feeding the animals, but also due to the unethical treatment of the animals raised to be eaten.
  • Turing off lights (duh)
  • Driving with windows open instead of a.c.
  • And, of course, recycling plastics and papers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Friends

Jonathan and I have been enormously blessed to have some of our dearest friends visit within the last couple of weeks.

Kylene spent a week with us before heading to Russia, and a friend of hers came from Knoxville, TN for a few days too. It was a week full of laughter (as Kylene is one of the funniest people I know), good stories, and prayer for the nations.

Here we are at Cafe Istanbul. It's a Turkish restaurant that made me feel like I was back in Egypt again. And of course, a meal like this is not complete without some sheesha and Turkish coffee!



We spent last weekend with Eric and Allison, two of Jonathan's friends from South America. When I am with Eric and Allison, it's like I'm in the presence of Jesus Himself. Jonathan and I both came out of it feeling more refreshed than we'd felt in months, and inspired to dream even bigger for our marriage.

We also got to see the Braves beat the Dodgers!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting the Hang of It

Yesterday was a spectacular day. We relished in a great week with Kylene and sent her off to Chechnya to change the world, we celebrated Chris and Jess finally getting married, we made a plan to spend a year traveling the world and loving the poor, and I saved someone's job!

On Friday, I got a call saying one of my clients had been fired for "letting a TV walk out of WalMart" while he was watching the door. Perhaps that could be grounds to firing, but not when this person was actually trained to stock and has barriers preventing him from the ability to do "door duty" during the night shift. He and I were able to set up a meeting with the WalMart manager and talk through the problem. Long story short, I was able to advocate for my client and put it in clear enough terms that he couldn't fire a man from a job he was never trained or hired to do, and couldn't actually do with his personal barriers. We left after 45 minutes with the manager inviting him to come back to work that night and promising he'd move him into his stocking position as soon as possible! I was thrilled--this is exactly what I came to Goodwill to do. I was able to fight for the rights of someone who couldn't defend himself. Had this guy lost his job, he very well could have lost his home, insurance, etc. It's wonderful to believe in what you work for!

On another note, as Jonathan and I said goodbye to Kylene, we began to list off all of the countries we want to visit and the people overseas we want to love through serving. As we dreamed, it hit me: why not save up for the next 2-3 years, and spend a year traveling the world? We already live simply because we don't need much, so why not cut a few more things out

Thanks to generous family and little desire for grad school, neither of us have any debt, and we're both making more than enough for us to live on. So, we're going to start setting one of our salaries aside monthly to put toward the big adventure (big adventure=cool name coming soon). As I think about the generosity of God through family and friends, I'm continually overwhelmed. We were able to set up our entire house through wedding gifts, and are both making BANK (wink, wink) working for non-profit organizations. We don't have/need/want cable, and I still can't understand spending $10 to see a movie, or even $5 to rent one, so we only go to the $1.75 cheap theater. Jonathan doesn't really shop, and my convictions about sweatshop labor have increased, so I'm making efforts to use my 25% discount with Goodwill for anything I may "need." This way, all the profit goes to helping people find jobs and maintain an income, rather than the sweat and blood of an oppressed woman or child in a country that doesn't have much value for life. We can justify coffee since the coffee we buy pays Jonathan's salary. What more do we need? Assuming birth control does it's job, we're on our way in a mere 2-3 years (or once we're released from our commitments here).

So, what do you think? Oh, and the wild part about this, is that we're going to try to get a proposal to write a book about our adventures while we do it. I mean, could anything be any better than this? This is an example of how, in being married to the best guy ever, doors are opening that would not have otherwise been opened.

Life is good, and God is unfailing.