Saturday, August 30, 2008

For the Illumination of the Masses

It's 16 hours until Trent Monk plays live in my living room.

I am understandably a-twitter. And in this case, I'm not talking about the web application.

However, since my older son recently left the nest, flew the coop, or, in a bit of high-tech humor, RTSed, we have been cleaning furiously for a couple of weeks. Nothing like eleven years of clutter to motivate you, especially when Son the Younger decides to switch rooms. They are now almost Zen-like in their simplicity and lack of clutter.

No, you may not see pictures. Chiefly because why would I take pictures of that? (Here I am referring to the "before" state.)

But this evening, I was telling Robin that I needed to clean up my bead room. She apparently did not realize why one would need an entire room just for beads.

Apparently she has not been introduced to my obsession hobby. So, for anyone who is unfamiliar, here is where I put things on string. Yes, it is a mess. That's why I needed to clean it up.

This is a closer shot of the bead boxes you can see in the above photo. You can tell here that each type of bead has its own little place to be. Ah, order!

And here is a shot of a single box. In this one there are gemstones (moukite on the top left, lapis at top right, plus a few others), and a lot of glass, including some millefiori (glass beads with flowers in them; the word is Italian for "thousand flowers") next to the moukite.

Now just imagine this box multiplied by... [leaves room to count]... let's just say more than 20.

Then imagine that I now own a torch and prefer to make my own beads from molten glass (any of the lampworking posts will show you more), as opposed to beading, i.e., stringing other people's beads.

Sad, how many beads there are. I should string some of them or something.

But first, I think I'll sleep. And then clean some more. So that that cool musician fella has a clean house to play in.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Good" of "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"

Today you get the good stuff, especially if you weren't there -- I'll share all the notes I took from Beth Moore's talk in San Antonio.

There are lots of other places to get this in the blogosphere, of course, especially since there were 10,000 women there. There's actually a list of people who have posted about the conference. Happy surfing!

Beth talked about the concept of INHERITANCE throughout the weekend. The anchor scripture she used was Psalm 16:5-6 from the ESV:

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cups; you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

The term for inheritance or possession or heir is mentioned over 310 times in the NIV. It is not a concept; it is a principle. God gives us something; he doesn't just get us out of trouble.
Examples found in Gal 3:8; Gen 22:17-18 (the first mention in the NIV); Ex 32:13; and Num 13:16, in which Moses renamed Joshua.

Concept repeated throughout was: I AM AN HEIRESS OF GOD. We need to know who we are so that we don't give ourselves away so cheaply! Jesus knew who He was -- He came from the Father and was going back to the Father -- so He could wash the feet of His followers.

God's inheritance is distinct but completely the same throughout the Bible.

There are three elements of God's inheritance:

  1. Presence: Gen 26:23; Josh 1:9. Usually someone has died.
  2. People: Gen 12:3; Gen 22:17-18; Deut 4:20; Ps 16:3; Rev 7:9. God's way is relationship.
  3. Property: Num 26:52-56; Matt 25:34. We will have a place.
    1 Chr 28:8, 20

And now for her main points. Hang on -- there's some crazy stuff in here!

  • I am an heir of God. My life is not left to chance. God watches over every part of our lives, even seemingly insignificant things: chance encounters, tiny details. You are important enough to God that He looks after every detail.
  • I am an heir of God. I am inheriting a kingdom. Matt 25:34; Col 1:11-14; Dan 7:18
  • I am an heir of God. He is my portion... Ps 16; Deut 10:8-9; Lam 3:24; Ps 73:25-26 (and here's the mindblower) ... and I am His. Deut 4:20, 32:9; Eph 1:18 I think she blew us all away with that one. We are God's portion? Seriously? But look it up -- it's in there (read carefully). WOW. And that's how we ended Friday night.
  • I am an heir of God. The down payment has been made. Eph 1:18, 1:11-14; Rev 22:4. In Eph 1:14, "deposit" is a portion of the purchase price paid in advance, forfeited if the purchase does not go through. This is also where Beth talked about the discus thrower I talked about a couple of posts ago.
  • I am an heir of God. My boundary lines form a pleasing place. 2 Sam 23:1. The diagram she drew is below. Here is what she had to say:
    Your boundaries will never go higher than your intimacy with God. Never allow ministry to take away that intimacy! Your past and your life experiences, as much as you may not like them, are yours, and they make you unique. Use them. (Didn't note what she said about Gifting -- sorry!) 1 Cor 12:7 -- what God has called you to do is beyond your natural ability. It will require God! Eph 4:27 -- Do not give place to the devil. Anyplace God is not on your boundary lines is occupied by the devil. Nature abhors a vacuum.

  • I am an heir of God. The will has been activated. Heb 9:15-17; Gal 4:4-7
  • I am an heir of God. I can be secure. There are two problem areas here: affirmation and affection. It's easy to make someone a false Christ who affirms you in an unhealthy way. When we train ourselves to crave affirmation, or exhaust ourselves in service (and broadcast it), that's not what God intended. Affection is also a problem -- fairly self-explanatory how unhealthy affection can be, and I didn't take notes on it. Col 3:23-24 Never pray for an easier life; pray for power to live your life!
  • I am an heir of God. I have a beautiful inheritance. Is 61:1-3, 7: Joy is the experience of receiving the inheritance. The double portion mentioned in v. 7 belongs only to the first born son. In the case of us and God, Jesus is the rightful heir of the double portion, but in v. 7, God makes it clear that we will inherit the double portion -- Christ shares it with us! 2 Tim 4:6-8; Heb 11:16, 39-40; Eph 3:6
After Beth finished speaking, the praise team came back out. I headed toward the floor to catch the Mamas (Boo and Big, a.k.a. Sophie and Melanie) to get the pic you've already seen. But first I got this picture, which sums up worship time pretty well.

The conference ended with an a cappella version of "Shout to the Lord." At the end of the song, the praise team and Beth quietly walked off stage. Very nice.

Because I don't know where else to put these pictures, and because there is no good way to do that transition, I will now share with you the other people I met.

In the picture below is Vicki Courtney, Melanie (Big Mama), Cindy (StillHisGirl), and me. This was taken by Cindy's friend Gayle on Friday night. Unfortunately, I didn't catch up with Cindy again on Saturday. I've read her blog for a long time and exchanged email with her on several occasions. Cindy is even more beautiful in real life than in pictures, and oh, that hair color! What I wouldn't give...

I caught up with Amy Beth on both Friday and Saturday, and she's just as cute in real life as she is on her blog. I haven't been reading her blog as long as Cindy and the Mamas, but she's just the sweetest thing, y'all. I just had to get a picture. (Thanks to my friend Anne [no blog] for being my photographer!)

I really do feel like an amateur in the blogger world, and it was nice to meet some of the women I look up to and respect so much. That, plus Beth's "drink from a firehose" teaching, made for a very full weekend. Very full, and really awesome.

So what do you think? If you went, did I miss anything in my notes? If you didn't go, did you learn anything from my notes?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The Bad" of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"... Well, Sort Of.

If I were blogging "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" of the trip to San Antonio, then I guess my last post would have been "The Ugly" -- the part where I didn't necessarily want to show off my nasty underbelly. But to show what God's up to, you have to show what's being cleaned up, right?

So today we'll move on to the only part of the weekend that made me a little sad (i.e., "The Bad"). I didn't get to attend the "Siesta Fiesta" portion of the weekend. There are two reasons for that. One, apparently I live under a rock, so I didn't know about it. (That's what I get for not reading Beth's blog.) The other reason, which would have overridden the Siesta Fiesta anyway, was that a good friend of mine had a significant birthday, and I had to be back in Austin to help her celebrate.

I mean really. Could you possibly say no to this face? No way.

Yes, that's right. Jo turned 29 (or was it 21? I can never remember ages), and I got to be there with her to celebrate out at a friend's ranch, one of my favorite places on earth.

This is her husband Randal admiring the table with her, who set up the whole surprise party. I was so impressed by him! He got a party planner, called lots of people for email addresses to make sure he invited everyone, and even set up a smaller decoy surprise party for the day before (which was her actual birthday) in case anyone slipped up and blabbed the surprise. He hired a band, brought in a bounce house, and had the whole thing on the ranch where there is a creek, a wading pool for the smaller kids, and all sort of food and fun.

This is a man who loves his wife. And Jo is a good friend and has been for ten years (since our church started). So if attending Jo's party was the "Bad" part of the weekend, I'll take it!

Next up: the "Good," i.e., my notes from Beth's talks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

San Antonio Stuff... Part 1

I feel like writing one of those essays, like you'd write in the fall, "What I Did This Summer," only mine would be "What I Learned From Beth Moore in San Antonio This Weekend." I have purposefully kept away from the blogs of others that I know were there because I want to say what I want to say and not be influenced by the thoughts and words of others. I certainly want to know what everyone else thought, but I had to process my own head first, before I could write about it. And I am DYING to know what some of these other people had to say.

Let me start by saying that, unlike a lot of the women there, I wouldn't characterize myself as a huge Beth Moore fan. I've never done one of her studies, and I've read one of her books. I enjoyed it, but I really didn't know what to expect in San Antonio.

Let's just say that Beth goes to 11. If you haven't seen "This is Spinal Tap," and therefore don't get my reference, then go watch it. Or just watch the clip.

The conference was Friday evening from 7 - 9:30, and Saturday morning from 8:30 - noon. I can detail Beth's notes in a later post, but for today I'll talk about what I personally got out of it. Or the biggest chunk of it, anyway.

On Saturday morning, I had forgotten my notebook in the car and walked back out to get it during the worship time. Now, before anyone chastises me for missing Travis -- and I thought Travis was awesome -- I didn't know a single song until the very last one, so worship wasn't that great for me. I didn't figure I was going to be missing much by walking out to the car. As it turns out, it made the weekend for me.

As I walked out, I was praying for the event, for Beth, for the women, for the atmosphere, that God's Spirit would move in the hearts of everyone there. Then my mind wandered a little as I thought about the 10,000 women -- TEN THOUSAND -- that were there. I thought about Beth and her life in the spotlight. I thought about two of the wonderful bloggers that I had met the night before, BooMama and Big Mama. These two ladies had reserved seats on the front row of the floor seating, smack dab in front of the stage, since they blog for LifeWay and this was a LifeWay event. I thought about how they get 200 comments on a blog post and I get maybe 4. And I turned a little green.

Now understand, these are two ladies that I have looked up to for a long time. I love them, I respect them as people and absolutely as bloggers. I have wanted to meet them for a long time. I really don't get starstruck anymore since someone I consider to be a truly stunning musician came to be music director at my church, but in my secret heart of hearts these two are my pretend BFFs. I admit that I envy their blogging success, as much as I've cheered for them as it has happened for them. I admitted it to myself and to God on Saturday morning, and I'll admit it here.

And then on Saturday morning, I straightened my shoulders, and I told God, "I don't want Melanie's call for my life. I don't want Sophie's. God forbid, I don't want Beth Moore's. I want MINE. God, I want Your plan for ME, not for them." I prayed this all the way back in from the car, clutching my notebook.

What do you suppose Beth had to talk about that morning? She told the story of Stephanie Brown-Trafton, the Olympic gold medal winner in discus (and first U.S. women's discus medal winner since 1932). Stephanie grew up idolizing Mary Lou Retton, wearing a Retton leotard in her childhood. That didn't last long, since Stephanie grew to 6' in junior high school. She had to find her own way to be a world-class athlete, and clearly she has, with a stop in basketball along the way. The point of her story was to stop trying to be someone else. And it was the first story she told after God and I had our little talk.

Coincidence? Don't believe in it.

I did stop long enough after the event on Saturday to take a picture with the two Mamas before we all ran off in separate directions. From L-R, it's Boomama, me, and Big Mama (or Sophie, Lisa, and Melanie). Yes, I'm short.

I'm not there yet, but I'm working on accepting being just li'l ol' me, and not BIG SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER. God put me where I am for a reason. I'm certainly blessed to have been in San Antonio this weekend, and it was great to have met these two lovely ladies (and others -- more pics later).

God is good.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Murphy in the Mail?

The story opens with a package my hubby had been anxiously awaiting. It was supposed to come yesterday or today.

Today, he opened our cluster mailbox to discover the exalted key -- the KEY! -- to the parcel box. Huzzah! Today was the day! The package had arrived!

But it was not to be.

He opened the parcel box with great joy, only to find someone else's package. On examining the parcel boxes, he found that there was another key missing and quickly deduced that our mail carrier must have mixed up the keys.

He went to the address to make the package exchange, but no luck: no one was home. Oh well. He was home early. He could be patient. A little. (If you know my hubby, you know his patience doesn't extend far, and he'll be the first to tell you so.)

He went back a little while later. He found the boyfriend of the package owner, who informed him that the homeowner works until 9; he should come back around 9:30pm.


He went back at 9:40, and one of her children told him that she was in the shower. Once again, DENIED. Once again, hubby came home with head hung low.

At 10pm, he left the house for the fourth time to retrieve the key -- the EXALTED KEY! This time, he was victorious. Huzzah!

But I'm afraid Murphy works for the U.S. Postal Service. Poor hubby came home empty handed yet again. They key would not turn in the lock. He fetched WD-40 to try to coax the lock. I went with him. We whispered sweet nothings to it, but it did not yield to our overtures.

Defeated, we came back home, and I composed a love note to our mail carrier:

Sigh. Someday our package will come...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Lowdown on a Mother's Best and Worst Day

I am a bad blogger, for I forgot to take my camera to take Son the Older (hereafter referred to as StO) to college. You will have to rely on my words.

His dorm is the ONE right in the middle of campus, the campus being Texas A&M (WHOOP!). There are many dorms on northside; there are many dorms on southside. There is one in the middle. When we went to unload his things, we found out just how very wise he was to have chosen Hart Hall. Or more correctly, as we walked and drove around later in the day and saw the utter chaos in the other dorm areas, we thanked God (and our son) for his dorm location far from the crowds.

When hubby and I attended A&M, lo these many years ago, Hart was a non-air-conditioned dorm. Yes, you read that correctly. When we were there, the non-AC dorms cost $332 a semester, ladies and gents. Quite the bargain, if you don't mind sleeping in a sauna for portions of the school year.

Two of those dorms were torn down, and the two that remain now have window AC units. I wondered how efficient that would be -- until I walked into StO's room yesterday. Wow -- seriously cold! When I looked at the AC unit, I found it was on the medium setting, and it was also on energy saving. It wasn't even working hard! We were pretty sure we could make it grow icicles on the ceiling if we wanted.

The joys of the 80-year-old dorm are many. I will list them here:

  • There have been so many coats of paint that where it is chipped, the thickness is measurable.
  • There is a RADIATOR. You folks in the north are used to this; in Texas, it's almost unheard of.
  • Because the bunk beds are up against the radiator, the closet door doesn't close.
  • They put in electricity after the fact. The wiring is attached to the walls. That's one of the big reasons I wish I'd had my camera.
  • There are multiple sets of wiring: the first set of electricity, the set for the AC, and the wiring for the CAT-5 (internet) cable.
  • The floors are cement. Not stained concrete, just plain old cement. That's a great way to wake up in the morning, when your feet hit the icy cement. (Remember the super-cold AC? That's some cold cement, boys 'n' girls!) We bought the boy a broom for this floor. Any bets on how soon (if ever) it gets used?

The true joys, of course, are that there is a hundred-year-old (or at least reallyreally old) oak tree right outside his window, and it's a minute-long walk to the MSC (the Memorial Student Center, or the student union building on most campuses). It's less than five minutes by foot to virtually any classroom building where he will have to go. And it was the cheapest dorm on campus.

His roommate -- not a freshman -- is a Fish Camp counselor. You Aggies and/or Texans know what that is, but I'll try to explain for the benefit of anyone else who might not know. Aggie freshmen are known as fish and are given the option to attend Fish Camp, which is an indoctrination into Aggie life and traditions. Hubby and I didn't go (he by choice, since he'd lived in College Station for a couple of years; and me because of financial reasons, being the daughter of a single mom), but it's a great way to be introduced to A&M and what it's all about. StO declined the opportunity, but I'm quite sure his roomie will take care of his lack of knowledge. Son is an introvert; roomie is an extrovert. I hope they will get along.

This is the day that, as a mom, you look forward to and dread in equal measure. Your child has grown up, is flying the coop. So why does it feel like a hole in the middle of my chest, like someone has taken part of me away, removed it? I look forward to the independence and the discovery that college means for him. His life has been pretty sheltered up to now, and I know in many ways he'll discover who he is. I look forward to that for him. But he's my boy, even though he's so much taller than me, and I miss seeing him, even just today. I'm sure that will get worse before it gets better.

And, since someone will ask, I did not cry when I left him. Crowd of guys hanging around and all that. I miss him, though. How long until he runs out of laundry a couple of times and wants to come home to do it here?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I Knew It Would Come to This

But just because you know something is coming doesn't make it any easier.

Today has been spent sorting, packing, cleaning, organizing, shopping, and trying not to think about tomorrow.

This is what's in my kitchen:

It's the last box, with the last few things, and the backpack with Son the Older's shiny new college computer in it.

Who knew that 18 years of existence could be packed into four boxes and a backpack? I sure don't think my mom got off that light. I know she didn't, in fact.

Tomorrow we'll get up and drive to College Station, where we'll move our son into a dorm that wasn't air conditioned when hubby and I went to Texas A&M. Yes, that's barbaric in central Texas. Now there are window units. Hallelujah!

I'm not a crier, but even I might well up a little when it comes time to leave my former baby boy at his new home away from home.

He's such a serious student, my boy. Did I mention he'll be majoring in engineering? You can see here the SERIOUSNESS of the lad leaping off the screen at you, can't you?

That's my boy. I'm so proud.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gonna Be a Busybusy Week

So... my Taiwanese co-workers are coming to Texas this week. And I have about a thousand things to do before I leave for Houston to meet up with them.

Here are several of the thousand -- complete!

If you were wondering what those beads were for earlier, this is the purpose. Three of my co-workers arriving today are female; two are male. For the men, I made necklaces for wife and daughter for one co-worker and for fiancee for the other. My friend Jo came over to help me today -- thanks, Jo! She is a fabulous jewelry designer, and I was thrilled to have her help.

I will likely be really busy for the rest of the week, trying to show these folks the same kind of great time that they showed me when I was in their part of the world. Have a great week, y'all!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Didn't Get to Go to Leadership Summit...

But I'm living vicariously through the twitters. Thanks, Les!

If you read this much after August 8, you'll have to go back quite a ways to see the content I'm talking about... Les is pretty much broadcasting his notes from the conference. Amazing stuff.

Again, I just love the internet.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Do I Love Thee, Interweb? Let Me Count The Ways...

Sigh. I've been absent from the blog for a very long time. If you've been reading, you might wonder what in the heck I've been up to. Well, here's your answer.

Sorry for the less-than-stellar picture. Hubby is off at a training class, and he took the good camera with him. Son the Younger's camera is cool, but it doesn't have a macro setting, and I can't figure out how to turn the flash off. So this is the best I could do.

Anyway, if you consider that no bead in the above picture took less than 10 minutes, and some of them took more like 45 minutes, you can see where I've been.

What are they for? Hmmmm. It's a mystery. I'll tell you later.

In other news, if I haven't mentioned lately how much I LOVELOVELOVE the interweb, then I was wrong. Oh so very wrong, and I would like to hereby apologize to the interweb for not professing my love more recently or more strongly. Did you hear me, interweb? I LUUUUUUV YOU!

It's been an interesting couple of days.

Yesterday, I was thinking of one of my college roommates, with whom I completely lost touch after I left school. As in, I haven't talked to her at all in, well, let's just say a really long time. So then I figured, her name isn't all THAT common.

After looking her up on, I had to take that assessment back.

Googling her proved to be much more straightforward. Turns out she's the most famous person with her name. When we were in school, she wanted to be the head vet at the San Diego zoo. She isn't, but she is the head vet at another highly respected zoo. Not a big surprise to anyone who's ever known her.

With the location info, it was easy to figure out which of the dozens of people with her name was really her. I wasn't sure it was ok to just call someone up out of the blue after years and years (and years) of silence, but a few friends encouraged me, so I did.

It's funny: when you talk to someone you've known since you were a teenager, someone who you were really close to, the years just melt away. It was just as if we'd stayed connected all along. Her twisted sense of humor was exactly the same. We laughed and laughed. This is the roommate who used to awaken me at 3am if she dreamed of a good pun; she has not changed a bit. Her professional picture looks like she hasn't changed a bit since college, which makes me a little bitter. But anyway.

One of the things we talked about is how she'd lost touch with another friend of ours. They became roommates when I left the dorm. I stayed in touch a little better with this other friend, who occasionally sends Christmas cards, but I hadn't heard from her and her hubby (both pediatric sub-specialists) in a few years, and I told Ms. Vet that.

Imagine my shock when I found an email from Mr. Doctor in my inbox today. I quickly sent my phone numbers, and he and I just got off the phone after an hour-long conversation (Mrs. Doctor, unfortunately, was working a long day and was unavailable, so I'll have to catch her another day). They have moved from the midwest to a southern state, which makes Mr. Doc very happy, as he is a heat lover. I got to hear the voices of several children during our conversation (they have four), and I really got the urge to take a trip to visit them. The last time I saw this lovely couple, Mrs. Doc was pregnant with their first. It's really sad to me that I haven't met the children of these friends that I love so dearly... but it was so great to catch up a bit on the phone this evening.

So, two evenings, two hour-long phone conversations with dear friends, all made possible by our friend the internet. Say what you will about its evils, but right now I'm singing its praises!