Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Week of December 2008

On Sunday, December 21, the NBC choir performed a Christmas concert. It can be listened to at nbcshawnee.org Log In: Christ Password: ismyLord I will always think of it as "Miracle on 42nd Street". I arranged the concert and prayed that God would do what I couldn't. Bill came back 2 weeks before the performance and polished the group. The men's quartet is my favorite!

On Monday, Dec. 22nd, Bill and I celebrated our 27th anniversary by going out to Red Lobster. We thought about the many anniversaries that we had in the air while flying home for Christmas. Saturday, we saw, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". Fantastic movie!!!

On Wed., Dec. 24th, we had dinner at Mom's with Galen and Sondra. While enroute from CA, they had car trouble and Jason picked them up in Clinton, OK. Roger's family didn't arrive from CA until 10:00 pm due to a major snowstorm in New Mexico. After spinning out, they lost their transmission and AAA towed them to Shawnee. They were still in good spirits! They are now in Branson at the Kimberline Resort (sp?) in the Presidential Suite recovering. Sad! Ha!

Christmas Day was one big party at our house! Noel's family arrived from Springfield that morning, as well as Uncle Johnny. In addition to the family, 4 SEI students joined us. That meant that I cooked dinner for 18 people! We had smoked ham, potatoes, vegetables, salads and yeast rolls. I baked cherry, pumpkin and pecan pie, and choco chip cookies. After dinner, we took turns playing the piano and everyone sang. There were gifts under the tree for everyone. Bill and I gave "Crockpots forTwo" to each of my brothers. We gave Mom a subscription to the Shawnee Newstar for next year. Bill gave me a necklace that he bought in Singapore. It is a real orchid overlaid with gold. He also gave me some perfume made from the Passion flower that he bought at the Raffles Hotel. We had spent two vacations there in the past.

Today, I took Bill to have a colonoscopy at the new Surgery Center in Shawnee. It's beautiful!! The overhead lights are covered to look like a sunlit sky. All of the emergency equipment is hidden behind works of art. Bill had two polyps removed and is doing well. Kirk and family are due to arrive this afternoon in time for dinner. They will stay for our annual New Year's Eve party and leave on Friday. They went snowboarding in Flagstaff, AZ yesterday and had a great time! Keri and Kelli got together in Michigan for Christmas. They have been snowbound. Mom gave me a special cookie cutter kit to make cookies with the grandkids next summer. Fun!

Oh yes! Last Sunday, my Bible study class had grown! We are now up to 13 people and planning a party next week. I really am more of a facilitator than a teacher. They inspire ME! Our lesson was about Paul's conversion and the lengths that God will go to in order to get our attention. I prefer God to whisper rather than have to yell at me. "Be still -- and know that I am God."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's correction time. I do know how to spell poinsettia. Sometimes when I reread my blogs later, I can't believe the mistakes I have made. To those who actually read my writings - please forgive me. It keeps me humble!

This week has been very peaceful, and what I often think the Christmas season should be. God spared our area from having any ice or snow. Since we have Christmas choir practice next Saturday, we didn't want to have to make up our classes this weekend. It's been cold, but no problem at all! Speaking of classes, Tony (our new directior) volunteered his teachers to write lesson plans to be published. Since I am the only elementary trained teacher among the group, I was asked to write plans to be used with our "preeemies". Those are the students who come with no previous English training. We've been told that we will be compensated nicely.

I have made a deliberate choice to enjoy the whole Christmas season this year. Each evening, I have sat by the fire, enjoyed the lights on the tree, drank cocoa or spiced tea, and watched a Christmas movie. I love "Charlie Brown" more now than when I was a kid! I realize that many people have depression at this time of year. There were Christmases when I had forgotten the true meaning, and didn't plan well. If you are Giving more than you are Getting, you will not have time to be depressed. Ian has a birthday this week. Bill is giving him a Rodent Rapper dressed in a Santa Suit. He dances as he raps.

We are expecting 17 people for Christmas dinner this year. Roger and Julie are driving their 3 college kids from Calif. There will also be Galen and Sondra (and Jason's family), Noel and Janice and Mark, Mom, Bill and myself. I have done most of the shopping and am ready to make my kitchen dance!!! Everyone has reserved hotel rooms at the new La Quinta and Mom is going to be surprised!!! We have also invited some of our international students who need a place to go.

I saw that Rick Warren will pray at Obama's inauguration. Kelli has written on a regular basis for Rick Warren, and interviewed Obama at Saddleback Church when he was just beginning his candidacy . It is very interesting!

I only sent a few cards this year. If you get one, count yourself extremely special!

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15, 2008

Second Week of Christmas

I love Christmas! I bought a plastic table cover to protect the new tablecloth that Bill brought me from Singapore. It's a beautiful linen cloth with lace around the edges and embroidered red pointsettias. I had put lighted boughs of evergreen over the French doors, so I added tiny red pointsettias to bring the room together. I was Suzy homemaker this week. I also made a chocolate cake for the SEI student Christmas party which is always at Anne's house because she and Dan have a new mega home with a pool. We played Christmas charades and Dirty Santa. It was my students' first Christmas and their first time to party with girls. (Saudi Arabia doesn't mix.)

Saturday, Bill took me to see the movie, "Australia" which we both really enjoyed. Afterwards, we split up for awhile in the mall to buy gifts. We always try to buy things that will be treasured in years to come. After shopping, Bill and I met at The Santa Fe Cattle Co. for dinner. We enjoy throwing the peanut shells on the floor because we are both neat freaks at home.

Our SS class is growing every week. They are a "talky" bunch! The topic was "generosity" and knowing when and when not to give to others. After worship service, the church had a potluck that rivaled Golden Corral. The new fellowship hall looks like a first class restaurant. After eating too much, the choir practiced for next week's concert. We lost some members due to illness and I was concerned, but God has left us with 16 very talented singers. My favorite song this year is "O Holy Night!" Sherry sings the solo part, and she is great!!

I'm excited because three of my brothers - Galen, Noel and Roger are surprising my Mom and coming to Oklahoma for Christmas. I will cook Christmas dinner at our house for everyone. My son, Kirk, called and said that he and Tamra are bringing their two sons for New Year's Eve after a ski trip in New Mexico. Kirk is our "movie star". He was filmed by ColdWater productions - NBC while ministering to druggies and prostitutes in Los Angeles. Kirk does "Christmas" year around and their was no acting involved for him. Sofia, Keri's 4 year old, called from Chicago and sang all three verses of "Away in the Manger". She was on key, and just precious! Our world would be so different if we could all have the heart of a child!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Thoughts on the Character of God - Details/Righteous Anger/God's People

This morning, Bill continued reading to me from Exodus about plagues in Egypt. I commented on how the people of Israel obeyed God without question when Moses told the people of God's final plague. Bill felt that the people obeyed because they had seen God in action previously. I began having a flashback to our years in the Cayman Islands. Jonathan Bain was in my third grade class. I had taught Jonathan in second grade as well, so I was not a new teacher. Every time our scheduled changed due to an assembly or a special project, Jonathan would be at my desk wondering how we would manage to get our lessons done. He wanted all the answers in detail!! Finally, I told Jonathan to sit down and trust me to take very good care of the class! I looked up and said, "God, forgive me for needing to know all the details. I will trust you." Jonathan grew up and is a wonderful music teacher in Indiana. I bet he remembers me. Ha!

A week after arriving in Nairobi, Kenya, Bill and I decided to walk to a museum not far from our apartment. It was 2 p.m. and we were walking along a busy avenue. We saw a group of young men sitting on a wall enjoying each others company. We smiled, nodded and kept walking. One minute later we heard feet running behind us. Two of the young men that we had seen were facing us with strong sticks. Bill was bigger and taller and starting fighting one of them. However, I was the short weak victim. My attacker also had a knife and cut my fanny pack from my waiste with a single motion. When he ran, his friend followed while taking my money and my reading glasses. I wished that I had taken a weapon. If Bill had been in trouble, I would not have hesitated for a minute to use any weapon available. Having a nice talk with these fellows never went through my mind. I think that God uses His weapons when His enemies attempt to destroy His people or thwart His plans. God gets angry and is not a wimp. He is to be loved and respected. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It doesn't really matter ultimately what you or I think. We are only human and should remember such. I would NEVER want to make the mistake of telling God that He doesn't exist, or what He should do. I guess that's why the Bible says that we must come to Him as a little child - full of humility and faith.

Who are God's chosen people? Isreal was chosen in the beginning to bring about God's plan for salvation. God already had a plan set in motion with Abraham. I'm amazed that the birth of Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament. It was so acurate! Isaiah and Micah got it right! Wow! God was not going to let anyone get in the way of His plan to save mankind. He loved us that much! After the death of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, God made it very clear that Jews and Gentiles alike were accepted as God's people. Now, God will protect Israel because He promised that Jesus will return to Jerusalem. Israel will see more war, but they will not be destroyed.

The Bible says that every person will be judged according to their knowledge. I don't believe that God will judge all men the same. I do know that God has put it into the heart of everyone to seek God and worship. There is not a nation on earth that has not attempted to know God. Religion is just a bunch of rules with condemnation. God represents forgiveness and salvation and wants to have a relationship with us. Unfortunately, fake Christians are all around us. The Bible Belt is full of them!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts about the Character of God

I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about the different facets of God's character. God is just and seeks to balance His world and His people. Unfortunately, many children have grown up to think that the world revolves around them and what they want. They have not learned to respect wisdom and the experience of older people. I often observe children talking back to their parents and refusing to obey! These same children will grow up to rebel against all authority, and especially the notion that there is a God to obey. They are not learning the rewards of discipline and patience, and reject the notion of a God who disciplines. As one of my friends said, "He is God! He is our creator! Who do we think WE are to tell Him what He should do and not do!" God is extremely loving and merciful to put up with us! Yes, God has wiped out nations, but perhaps He gave them chances to change their ways and they refused. God is just and merciful. But, when He gets enough He lets loose! I experienced that in my classroom last week. My 17 year old student decided to play around and wanted to tease me. I let it go for awhile. But after some time of warning, he became obnoxious to me and the other student I was trying to teach. Fahhad had only seen me be patient and kind. Was he surprised when I raised my voice, told him to sit down and threw my eraser on the floor! He made the right choice. He sat down, apologized and started learning. I seldom do such a thing as a teacher, but I couldn't get his attention any other way. God must feel like that sometime. I, personally, want to have the favor of God in my life! Some people are so full of pride that they will NOT humble themselves and pray. They miss all of the good stuff and go through life third class.
Monday, December 8, 2008

First Week of Christmas

After spending 6 years in Tokyo, and 4 years in Yokohama, Christmas is very special to me! Being a Buddhist country, Christmas is NOT on the Japanese calendar and is not celebrated as such. Retailers have learned in the last 5 years to celebrate winter and have begun to use lights. Each year, I taught my Japanese students the meaning of Christmas and how to celebrate. I'll never forget laughing to myself when I saw their first effort at the nativity. Twin Japanese girls were Mary and Joseph. The baby Jesus was dressed in a red and white Santa suit. I knew that I had lots of work to do! Ha!

Bill arrived in OKC last Wednesday via Tokyo and Minneapolis. It was 88 degrees when he left Singapore, so it was a shock in many ways. In spite of the money, he knew that he had a made a mistake to go to Singapore almost immediately. The administration had all grown up communist in Beijing. He quickly learned what it's like to live in a godless world. He gave them 3 months notice, wrote a music curriculum for them and left.

Friday, we had our faculty Christmas dinner at Gliori's Italian Restaurant and played dirty Santa. Saturday, we decided to take a drive to Ada and had lunch at Golden Corral. That evening we attended OBU's Hanging of the Greens concert. Sunday, we had Christmas choir practice after the worship service. Today, it's back to work. SEI asked Bill to teach full time since one of the teachers left for South Africa. I am teaching 2 Saudi Arabian students every afternoon from 1 to 3 pm. We have been invited to more parties next weekend! Fun!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gary DeMar vs. Bart Ehrman

My brother, Galen, just received an email with an article written about a debate between Bart Ehrman and Gary DeMar in Florida. According to DeMar, Bart Ehrman prides himself in studying documents to find error. It is ironical that such a man cannot write a book himself without misspelling people's names and places. After several printings, the man still has not corrected his mistakes. It seems to me that Ehrman is one of those people who went to church and studied the bulletin for mistakes, but never heard the message. It's possible that the people who wrote the Bible did not see the events exactly the same. However, the message is consistent. The Bible was not written to be an academic study. It has a spiritual message that can only be understood with the eyes of the heart. We look for errors in others when we want to distract people from our own weaknesses. To the proud and selfish, the Bible is a threat. To those who recognize their failings, the Bible is a message of forgiveness and love. I'm cautious of people who pat themselves and their friends on the back for "having it altogether" and making themselves into little gods. We have a choice: cover our guilt; ignore our guilt; or admit our guilt. What comes next? The Bible has the answer from Genesis to Revelation!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 1, 2008

Last Thursday morning, Mom and I began our drive to Springfield, Mo. to join Noel's family for Thanksgiving weekend. The drive went smoothly until we reached Tulsa. A tanker had just tipped over and the Joplin exit was blocked. It took some doing to find my way back onto I-44 East. When I saw the James River Freeway I knew we would make it for dinner!

On Friday, I wasn't feeling really well but didn't want to miss Silver Dollar City. What a place! Dickens Christmas Carol is SO professionally done at the Opera House. The highly technical sets give it a "movie" feel. Then, we listened to Tracy Heaston. His hands literally fly across the piano. He also played a combination marimba/chimes solo of "What Child Is This". With the Christmas setting and lights I was transported.

Friday night my tummy pains kept me from sleeping, and Noel drove me to a walk-in clinic at 7 am. Between the medication and the TLC I received, I was able to recover quickly. Noel and Janice always give us private bedrooms and have a fire going in the livingroom. Sweet people!

Sunday AM we woke up to snow flurries. I followed Noel to church on the Kansas Express Way. As I prepared to follow him through a green light, an ambulance seemed to come out of nowhere from the opposite direction. He hit his brakes and so did I. Because of the wet snow, I was losing control. I managed to bring the car to a stop in the left turn lane and didn't rear end Noel! Steve's family (Noel's son) joined us at church. We all had something to thank God for!

After church, Mom and I started home. At the first toll booth on the Pike, traffic backed up for 2 miles. After a 10 minute wait, we were all waved through without paying. Yeah! It snowed until we reached Tulsa, then rained in Seminole. When I reached my driveway it had already rained and was dry. I felt like Noah! God had brought me through sickness, bad weather and a near accident! I'm ready for Christmas!!