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Archive for January, 2010

the wonder of it all

I have been blessed to have several “moments of wonder” in my childhood.  I don’t know if other children have them or recognize them, but for me they were significant.

Fall is normally my favorite season of the year.  The golden aura of the days sometimes finds its way right into my very soul.  I can feel myself stepping through the golden sunlight, swishing golden leaves, crossing the portal into a golden heaven.  It is an amazing affinity.

But I have an appreciation for other seasons as well.  I’ve been known to appreciate the beauty of an ice storm as the world lies in silent white wonder. 

The summer panorama of lush green hills from the plateaus around our town or the pockets of wildflowers waving happily in the wetlands.

Or the day when I had overslept for school.  Just another regular school day.  There was nothing special going on in my heart or in the schedule.  This morning of hustle and bustle in our trailer was about as plain as any you could imagine.  Having gotten up late, I was rushing around trying to get ready for school.  I had not yet realized the value of planning your wardrrobe ahead, so I was even being slowed down by the simple process of choosing clothes for the day!

What a mess..hurry, hurry, hurry!  Gather those books and papers!  The bus just passed the house on the far corner of this country block…is there anything to take to eat on the way?

Where the bus is right now, gives me just enough time to power walk the lane and be at the stop when the bus is…Uhg–my coat!  Where’s my coat?  Can you believe this?  I might just make it!  Swoosh, the door flies open–slam shut and I’m running—

Whoa!

My perceptions are faster than my sight and as I look up and all around me, I stop.  Completely.  Still in my actions and in my being; finding myself brought almost instantly to tears as joy erupts within.  I have absolutely no thought of the big yellow bus.

I am enveloped in sweet, comforting green.  The buds on the trees have popped just enough to raise their green sprouts in praise; the mist of the morning reflects the hues of the grass.  Glorious streams of sunlight poke through the haze here and there.  The calmness of the world invades my heart as I notice a lone bird singing.  As I attempt to grasp all of this into myself to store away to experience again internally, the grandness is nearly overwhelming.

This is God, the glory of God, God’s handiwork in fullness speaking directly to my heart. 

And the bus driver honks the horn.

I remember nothing else about that day or even that Spring.  I often remember, no re-live, that truly awesome morning.  I remember and revel in the thirty seconds of worship that felt like eternity on earth.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now I’ve shared this moment of wonder with you, please take a moment in the comment box to share yours with me!

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hints of heaven

I realized it some time ago.

When there was no church calendar, when a missions conference was needed, when Kingdom Kid’s pre-school co-op needed field trips.  I realized that I have the spiritual gift of administration.

I truly love organizing events, groups, functions and watching the moments unfold with hints of heaven hidden within.  The newest administration thing I’m working on is the women’s ministry.  This is one, however, that is challenging in ways that I didn’t foresee so the dynamic of pulling this together is quite different.

But the reward is IMMENSE!

We had a gathering on Saturday.  Our gatherings have been a variety of things: game night, scrap book night, spa night which included a journey into the experience of foot washing, and Operation Christmas Child box compiling night–complete with piles and piles of wrapping!

Saturday was a prayer emphasis night with a dear sister sharing some of her insights about prayer–and then we prayed.  We prayed for the hurting nation of Haiti and we prayed for the college/military young people of our church.  What a blessing that was to join our hearts together for these things!

And then we enjoyed our “hang out” time.

There were numerous humorous moments during the evening.  There were serious discussions.  There was sharing of information.  But the thrill to my heart, as I observed first one group then another, was the underlying foundation of love — and the strengthened bond as we took time to just be together.

As we laughed, shared, cried and prayed I believe we each experienced moments with hints of heaven hidden within.

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I was thinking about this question today.  It’s interesting isn’t it?  I’m wondering what you would answer to this?  Please as you think about it, I would like to know what you think.

In the meantime, what does seeking God look like?

Well, I have observed that seeking God is taller than I am, by several inches in fact.  Sometimes, I am intimidated by the height of others.  But in this case, the height isn’t an issue because the heart is humble.  There is no desire whatsoever to tower above others, to appear larger than life.

Seeking God has dark hair and lively eyes.  Sometimes those eyes are dimmed by pain, but always those eyes are loving and observant.  Those eyes are reading the Bible, they’re watching–looking for Godly role models, closing in serious prayer.  Never do those eyes judge me; they question me sometimes, seeking to know the heart of the matter.

The character of seeking God — what a character!  Loving friends, enjoying good times and good pranks, helping others, praying, laughing.  Always willing to be a help.

The heart …seeking God has a hungry heart.  A heart that longs to know Him more, to be with Him, and to do things His way.  I have seen few hearts so hungry as this one.  It is amazing to me the eagerness and growth I’ve seen in this heart.

When I picture seeking God, I picture my friend Charlotte.  I pray for her often and am amazed as I watch God work in her life.  In the time I’ve known her I’ve been blessed to see someone who truly wants to be what God wants her to be.  She is continually aware that we need to “lay aside the old man” and become a new creature. 

As I think of Char, I think of a butterfly breaking out of the cocoon.  What a struggle it is sometimes to shed that skin; but what beauty awaits when that glorious creature finally takes to the skies.

Seeking God, seeing Char.  You Go Girl!

28 Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

 29 He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.

 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
       and young men stumble and fall;

 31 but those who hope in the LORD
       will renew their strength.
       They will soar on wings like eagles;
       they will run and not grow weary,
       they will walk and not be faint.

From Isaiah 40

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I’ve just come downstairs from having a truly delightful time with friends.  I’d been running about a week behind and suddenly realized that our women’s meeting will be happening Saturday evening and there was no structure to it.  So the planning meeting was quickly scheduled and then moved to my house.  I  had not been excited about doing this meeting … not that it seemed like a burden, but there was just no anticipation.

The girls arrived and we got to work.  We laid a plan and threw in suggestions for ideas on how to make our gathering Saturday flow well and be enjoyable.  We talked about the plan for the evening, talked about refreshments, and wrote notes to some of our college students.  And things kind of slowed down.  And this is where I typically get nervous … how are we going to bridge this “meeting” into a fellowship time.  The planning is needed, but the necessary thing is for the women in our congregation to get to know each other in small groups and bond.  I didn’t know how that next step would happen.

As it happens, one of the girls began asking funeral questions.  It became apparent that a tour of the facility was needed so we went out to the other room and began sharing about the remodeling of the facility and other things.  And soon, the conversation turned to the portrait in the “green” room of our first child; and the conversation became a living testimony to God’s grace.

I got to share a multitude of “baby” stories; a new friend shared some of her experiences as justice of the small town to the north of us and of her missions trip experience; one of the other girls shared about her trip while the other two got to talk to Bud who had just come in from a Lion’s meeting.  (Remember the one who started it all by asking funeral questions?  Well, I directed her to the expert and she kept him talking for some time! 🙂 )

I believe that fruit of the evening is a connection I got to make with this newest friend.  We could have talked and talked, but alas the evening had to end sometime … text from her husband —

“must be some humdinger of a planning meeting…have you solved the world’s problems?”

response:  “no, but we’re working on it.  The brownies will be a help.”

from her husband:  “chocolate solves all problems women have.”

Well, chocolate got the credit again.  Actually the fellowship, laughter, and joy in the Lord solved all the issues we approached tonight.  When we have our world peace meeting, we might need the chocolate too.

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trip saver

While we were away for our anniversary we did something kind of different for us.  As we were at the rental car desk, the agent asked if we wanted a GPS.  We looked at each other as we considered the daily cost of the little gadget and nearly simultaneously reached the conclusion that we’d buy our own.

So upon leaving the airport, we stopped immediately and bought one of those darling little things.  I thought it was just going to be a toy for Bud, but it turned out to be peace of mind for me.  I don’t navigate well; let me rethink that.  I don’t navigate well quickly.  I need time to ponder the map and understand what is happening where we currently are driving compared with where we need to be.

And usually something happens to require a “snap decision” — I’m not sure where that phrase comes from.   But it’s an accurate description of the process that occurs as you’re zooming along in the midst of traffic, see a sign that seems to be telling you the information you need and suddenly you find yourself following it.  And the navigator must find that place on the map and verify the accuracy of the decision–and if she’s not quick enough she will have to navigate an alternate route in the event decision was wrong.

I don’t know how those responsibilities are shared in your vehicle, but I suppose you’re getting the idea of how it works in our car.  And I usually don’t respond well.

So, back to the GPS.  We got our handy, dandy little gadget and found ourselves amazed and RELAXED!  San Antonio is definitely a city with highways and interstates coming from multiple directions, veering and overlapping.  It can be a truly crazy experience!  But “Tom” handled the situation quite nicely.

Of course, a couple of times we just couldn’t bring ourselves to trust him.  One of those times, we were trying to get to our hotel and Tom decided that we needed to see a different part of town than we had when we made the original drive from the airport over to the hotel.  The area looked too questionable, so we turned around and tried it ourselves.  In the end, we gave up and did it Tom’s way and found that if we’d just waited a minute longer we would have been in the back entrance of our hotel, rather than the front “one way” entrance. 

At times, we found ourselves making comparisons with our spiritual life.  We continue on our path as we think the Lord would have us.  But then something comes up that looks questionable so, in a panic, we turn around and try to navigate the process on our own…leaving our purpose just one or two intersections short of fulfilled. 

When we did those trip diversions, Tom didn’t say anything until it was evident that we didn’t take the instruction.  Then the gadget would just calmly say, “As soon as possible, turn around.”  And if we went beyond those directions, it would launch a recalculation…calmly, of course.  Sometimes we had to go some distance out of our way or through some areas of which we were unsure.  I guess that’s the price you pay for not listening.

And once we were back on the right track, the gadget just picked up the route as though nothing had happened…no berating, no condemnation. 

When we make mistakes in life, God urges us to repent, to follow His direction.  He is always waiting for us to come back onto His path and come into line with His directions.  Sometimes there are consequences to our diversions, but never condemnation in Christ.

It is an interesting analogy, not meant to diminish our Great God.  Our God is truly an infinite, all knowing God.  But isn’t it amazing that He allows us to make choices — whether good or bad –along the way?  He is always there to affirm His love even when we didn’t do things right.  Never, never is there condemnation.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, . . . Romans 8:1″

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early events, first day

The AF prepares an orientation meeting scheduled very early the first morning of the festivities…very early.  The start time is 7:00–which doesn’t seem so early, but if you arrive after 6:30 you’ll probably get sent to the overflow room and have to watch it on the television sets.  The experience definitely is not as good.  So get there EARLY!

We ended up in the overflow room, in case you didn’t deduce that.  About 7:30 it seemed that someone decided that the orientation was over or something because we started departing the room.  I didn’t really know why I was following the person ahead of me.  In the end, I concluded that if I’m not going to be able to hear the informaton because of poor sound quality and all the people shuffling out to leave, then I was definitely going to get a good place to watch the “Airman Run.”

Airman Run – 8:00 a.m. — This is the military, right?  Precision, timliness are normal for them….wrong.  But while we were waiting they made announcements.  The most important of which was “Don’t run after your airman!”  I’m thinking, “What a dumb announcement, who would do that!” 

So we waited and waited, and we shouted an AIR FORCE roar to psych them up — we could hear them getting ready for the run, so probably they would hear our roar!  The route was set up so that they would run past the crowd two times, once each direction.  And boy was I ready to find my airman–had to get that first picture, you know.  I had a clue he would be near the front because one thing I did figure out from Orientation was that the flights who did the best in their physical training would be running in the front sections…that put Titus’s flight near the front.

Some people made signs in the hopes that these would catch their airman’s eye as they jogged past.  And there was sure to be alot of shouting, which really turned out to be useless because the airmen do their own chanting during the run, so they really don’t hear much.  So letting your airman know that you truly had arrived would be next to impossible without one of those really cool signs.

Finally, they were coming!  Over the bridge and down the street…closer, closer …. where is he!  where is he!  AH THERE!  There he is! DON’T RUN AFTER YOUR AIRMAN! — Now that makes sense!  There is an exhilaration in seeing your airman for the first time that can irresistably compel you into the formation if you’re not forewarned and if you’re not on the opposite side of the street from him! 

Thank goodness I was on the opposite side of the street!  What an embarrassment I would have been — to my family, to myself, to my airman!  Joy, oh Joy!  There he is!

So they ran past, making the route to go around a block further down the street and return.  So, how would I ever let my airman know where his family was standing in this huge crowd.  The beauty of it was that he was on the outside column and I had my plan.

Back they came, chanting about sagging dog tags–I never did get all of that.  Each airman’s eyes were glued somewhere on the back of the head of the airman in front of him — kind of.  Occassionally you could see them doing a quick scan of the crowd.

Closer, closer — and I leaned my head into the street at about knee height and he looked down!  He saw me and winked!  That was so cool!

And I didn’t run after my airman.

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sleeping arrangements

We did rent a house. Which in itself is not a bad idea because we have always had success with this approach to our vacations. The house was fine, but this was not really a vacation.

One approach you may want to consider is to get a map of Lackland AFB and draw a circle around it going about five miles out…this is a good range for lodging. Further is okay, but we didn’t really enjoy driving. (Remember our 1600 mile excursion just to get there!) Our house was about 13 miles out from Lackland; having a choice to do this over, I would spend more time on researching commercial lodging closer to base.

In the five-mile range you have many commercial lodging options — Comfort Inn Suites, Marriott, Holiday Inn, etc. (There is lodging on base, but it is limited.) There is a Carefree Inn at the base entrance. Since we didn’t stay there, I can’t comment, but the pictures on the website look alright.

Plan on dining out, unless you do simple stuff in your room. We thought having meals “at home” would be really great…and the meals we did have there were good; but if you don’t find a house you will have to eat out.

Regarding finding a house that close in San Antonio. Good luck. It can be done, but the cost may be prohibitive. The greatest thing about our house is that since we had so many people in our party, everyone had their own space and we didn’t feel thrown together. This was a good thing after a three day road trip!

If you do choose commercial lodging, find a place that has a comfortable public lounge. You are going to want time to visit with your airman (he’s a trainee until graduation–then he gets a title promotion to “airman”.) Visiting in restaurants is difficult.

Also, there are a few things that your airman will desire — one may be a good two hour nap. If you have a nice place to hang out while he sleeps, it will make the wait easier on you!

Do your research, call the base hospitality center/travel agent regarding nearby lodging.

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