Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Important Is Prayer?

I wrote a blog for Compassion today. You should check it out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life Update

Here's a little update of our lives.

We've been going to the same church since April and really enjoying it. The pastor is right up our alley, as he's kind of a study nerd. His sermons are expository, and he puts a lot of study into each one. It reminds me of my college days of really studying the Scripture closely.

There are a lot of young couples at the church who are social and very active--like marathoners and triathaloners and hard-core mountain bikers. I'm going to consider myself cool by association. Yesterday we went hiking to Catamount Reservoir with a couple from the church who just finished doing 50 of the 14ers. They say they're not hard core, but you can't do 50 14ers without being hard core. Here's our pic.

In the spirit of being hard core, I've been biking to work. Just one day a week so far...so I guess I'm soft core. It's a beautiful 50 minute ride on trail the whole way--no roads! I take the Santa Fe trail through forests and meadows and by streams. It's ridiculously beautiful. I'm going to try to bike it 2-3 times this week.

Today, Mike and I biked from Woodmen to the Templeton Gap trail and across to Palmer Park. At the end of the ride, we had a delicious Froot smoothie. But then on the way back, Mike got a serious flat tire that couldn't be fixed with my little hand pump. So I, like the daring and brave hero, biked as hard as I could all the way across town to get the car and pick him up. The whole way I was praying, God please let me find Mike OK and don't let it downpour on us. As soon as I heard the first thunder, I got to our car. And, like the hero, boldly drove across town to find Mike. I found him, and the second we got in the car, the hugest downpour and hail storm started. I was very thankful.

Mike is taking a bit of a rest from home work right now, as he's physically tired out, and I'm mentally tired out. He's working on editing a sermon series on marriage into a book for our church. I've been working on an article for RELEVANT magazine on gender inequality and female infanticide. But now my assignment is done, and I'm going to take a mental break for awhile.

My 31st birthday is coming up, which seems a bit anticlimactic. 30 was exciting. But 31? What are we trying to say with 31? I'll have to come up with some awesome significance for it. We also are having our 6th wedding anniversary soon, which is also not as exciting as 5. But these two anticlimactic dates seem appropriate as we slip into our new adult life here in the Springs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Worship God

Bible Ramblings, continued
I don't have much time to blog these days, because we spend about 1 hour reading the Bible each night. I'm not saying that to brag, more to whine really. 15 pages of the Bible a day is a lot! 

Random thought of the day: We should worship God because he's God. That's it. Period. If we listen to worship songs, so much of them are focused on what God has done for us and how we feel about that. (Songs about how he's merciful, how he's loving, how he's patient, how we love him, how we are free because of him, etc.) God has done a lot for us, and we should worship him for it. 

But our worship can't only be motivated by and focused on this. Because what about the days that I don't feel like God is doing anything for me? And the days I don't feel so good about him at all?

In reading Genesis, it struck me how the people who did choose to worship God did so, seemingly, purely because he is God. That is enough. Not because he's nice or because he's loving or because he's forgiving. Because he's God. 

Is that enough? If God never sent Jesus to die for us, should we still worship him? Yes, because he's God. Period. The pagans know this. 

So, while being deeply and profoundly grateful for God's character and God's goodness to me, I want to worship him not only because of this, but just because he is the one and only God. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bible Ramblings

Mike and I are still attempting the 90-day reading of the Bible. It's so interesting! I really recommend it. It's giving us different perspectives on various stories as you read them all so closely in context to one another.

One thing we're noticing is how human all the people are. Many of the leaders chosen by God were not whom we would have chosen for their impressiveness but seem to be thoroughly human.

This also emphasizes the honesty of the Bible. You're not reading about Gilgamesh's and Beowulf's here...(Maybe with the exception of Samson.) Genesis mentions the Nephilim, who seem similar to old time epic heroes--big dudes--"heroes of old, men of reknown."

These are the types of guys one would expect old legendary religious texts to record. But they only get a line or two, which imply that God really wasn't into them.

Instead, we get chapter upon chapter of Moses, one thoroughly human.

Moses cracks me up, in a good way. He repeatedly tries to tell God that using him is a bad idea. He occasionally whines. He on several occasions just begs God to kill him--"If this is what my life is going to be like, just kill me." He's often thoroughly annoyed with the Israelites.

Despite his testiness, God continually uses Moses and was with him like he was with no other. It's encouraging. Ultimately, Moses had what God wanted--someone who would obey him. Moses occasionally whined, but he did obey. Verses Saul, also flawed. But his flaws of vanity led him to disobey God, and seemingly care more about himself than what God wanted. Interesting to read about which failures God gave grace to and which made God say, "No. I won't use you."

Bald Beauty

It's pretty easy to make my day.

As seen from our 3rd floor window and as taken by Becky Tschamler.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Floor Makeover

The home renovation is still going on. Mike works ceaselessly on it. Most recently, we've had our windows replaced (which were pretty much like having saran wrap over your windows), Mike has replaced the first floor carpet with wood laminate, he's painted, and replaced the baseboards.

These rooms had been carpet--doggy, musty carpet with suspicious stains, along with pocked and slashed vinyl in the kitchen. The baseboards looked like some cat had used them as his scratching post for 20 years. This is what it used to look like:


And this is what it looks like now, with fresh paint, new baseboards, new windows, new light fixtures, new laminate floors, and of course, Mike's tile entryway:

The kitchen looks about twice as large, without being divided in half by carpet and vinyl.
Mike did all the work himself (except for replacing the windows, of course). He bought the flooring super cheap online, that wheeler-dealer, and put them in for about the fifth of the cost. Go Mike!

Next up, there's all the little paint touch-ups and corners and borders to fix. Then we'll probably be staining the kitchen cabinets with a gel stain, now that our cabinets don't match...Each project leads to another project!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Bible and Cultural Context

Every person alive and who has ever lived has grown up in a certain town or country or church or time that has shaped how they understand and interpret everything around them. That's culture, and we all have it. It colors everything.

For example, tell a boy from America to brush his teeth, and he will go to a tiled room, turn on a faucet, and rub a plastic thing in his mouth. Tell a boy from Bangladesh, and he will step outside, get a bucket of water and a branch.

When approaching the Bible, some people would say that we should take absolutely no thought of culture--the culture in which it was written or the culture in which we now live--because to do so would be namby-pamby. That we should simply read the Scripture bereft of any trifling concerns about culture.

If we could all do this, I agree, it would be excellent. Sola Scriptura.

However, this presents one huge problem. To assume we approach Scripture empty-handed and empty-minded is foolish, and in my opinion, phenomenally arrogant. Sometimes we Americans can think we are neutral. We don't see the way we do things or view things as weird or different, but just the way things are. Because we subtly perceive ourselves as the neutral and normal ones, we then think we can approach Scripture as blank slates.

It's simply an untruth. Every person has their own culture which has shaped how they understand words and concepts. Say "family" to us, and we're going to think of one dad, one mom, and three children living in a little brick house somewhere. We will interpret any verse we read about family based on what we think "family" means.

Say "family" to a person living in some parts of Africa, and they will think of a much larger group of people. Grandmothers, aunts, cousins, all living in one compound. That person will then read and understand any verse about the family in this context. He therefore might have a very different understanding about it than I would.

Neither of us would have intended to interpret Scripture based on our own culture, but our own failure to acknowledge that we have culture and that it affects how we view everything would in fact be what allowed our culture to sway how we understand the Bible.

We are foolish when we assume we are the ones who approach Sola Scriptura without hauling behind us a huge suitcase full of culture.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Big Debut

Oh my gosh, guess what. I'm famous. It's my big acting debut. It's about 3 minutes in. Now someone watch it and please tell me my voice doesn't really sound like that.

In other news, Mike got an exciting freelance job. The pastor of our church wants to turn one of his message series on marriage into a book, so Mike will be editing these. This was a big encouragement for us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Letter From Kenya

We are going to have a young man from Kenya stay with us for two weeks this summer. He is a graduate of Compassion, and was awarded a scholarship at Moody Bible Institute. I wrote him to tell him he will be staying with us, and this is what he wrote me back. I loved reading his joie de vivre and thought you might too.

Dear Amber,

This is great! The sun was lazy to wake up this morning causing the weather to be mildly chilly and have a welcoming overture to the day. This is the beauty of God's love; to suprise us with good things everyday.

In my born days, God has suprised me beyond my wildest childhood dreams. His suprises never cease now that Amber Van Schooneveld will be my host on this maiden journey to the United States of America! These are memories I shall preserve my whole life.

I am excited about these coming days and joy is written all over my face. What else, really, can we say than to thank God?!

I am humbled and also glad at heart to know that I shall be your guest this Summer! Pass my regards to your husband...

Blessings,

Jimmy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Miracle Summer

This summer seems like a miracle summer.

In the long light of our afternoons, we've been trodding up the hills behind our home. It's stupid pretty. It's "I can't believe it" pretty. Each week, a new kind of wildflower has poked its head into the sun. Today we stepped over bushels of mountain bluebells and yellow "butter and eggs," with the occasional exclamation of an Indian paintbrush. The hillside is a showoff, flaunting how many wildflowers and how many fuschias it can produce. One feels the need to run through it like Heidi.

This uncommon rain has made the scrub oaks grow thick, and we tunnel through them. The rustling in the oaks always sounds like a large cat, but it's always just a little chickadee poking about. Hummingbirds whir and dive overhead. Cottontails hop across the path to hide in the bushes. Two white deer tentatively place each foot as they pass us, like ladies.

Like I said, stupid pretty. I feel at each step like I've come through the rusty old gate to The Secret Garden. My own Narnia, and Mike must be my personal faun.

This summer seems like anything could happen. The surprise rain awakens old hopes. The improbability and vulnerability of a field of wildflowers makes anything seem possible. But even if my dreams are still deferred it will have been a miracle summer, in just the curve of a milky yucca flower and the grace of a white deer's neck.

One Million

I wasn't at work on Friday, and I missed a big celebration. Here's a video about what I missed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Stars At Night Are Big and Bright

I'll give you two guesses where I'm going to be for the next four days:



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

'Rents and Tents at Bents

An update on the reading: Still keeping up with the 90-day reading of the Bible. Right now I'm reading about what to do with mildews and who not to sleep with. I could think of some deep metaphors, but I won't.

Tomorrow is bike to work day, which I'm going to participate in. My brother-in-law asked me not to be "that person" who bikes for the first time on bike-to-work day, so I biked in Friday. Took me 1 hour there, 45 minutes back. If I keep this up, I could eat so much more!

This weekend, the 'rents came and we went to Bent's Fort. I'd gone there as a kid, then read this book (which I recommend), that rekindled my interest. Bents Fort was a trading post, the last stop on the Santa Fe trail before Santa Fe, and the first (white) settlement west of the Mississippi. Here are some pics.

Two carts. Get it? Juxtaposition.
Mike called it weird that I was taking a picture of this man's lower half. I called it artsy.
'Rents and tents.
Counting the stars on the flag.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Ride on the B-17

My dad asks for brown socks for Christmas almost every year. He's a giver, and when it comes to himself, he just doesn't usually want that much. So my family hasn't always had the relish of seeing him open a gift he just loves. I mean, how excited can you get about socks?

But today, he had one of his great wishes fulfilled.

My grandfather was a pilot in WWII and flew a B-17. He died shortly after the war, in a car crash on his way back from training, so my dad never knew his father. Growing up, we never heard my dad talk much about him. Now, at 62, he's learning more about his father and connecting with him through the book of love letters my grandmother compiled.

Part of that connection, for him, is the B-17. In past years, he's gone to Centennial Airport to watch the B-17, that you can pay to fly in for a hefty price. Then for Father's Day this year, we caught him a ride on the bomber. When we told him, he couldn't speak. He stood there blank for a few seconds until he started crying. Crying, my dad. I've never seen him cry except a funeral once or twice. When he told my grandmother he was going up, she cried too.

So here are some pictures of our special day. There was a tank, and guys dressed up in WWII garb. They had a mic. And announced I was giving out free hugs. (I turned several men away.)
This is me showing the way to Paris to some lost GIs.
Someone gave me a gun.
Here's dad right before getting on. That's a happy man.
Taking off.
Here's a shotty video of the B-17 taxi-ing. I got distracted halfway in and stopped watching, which is why it drifts off. But this is the triumphant return video.

video

Remembering Roselyn

I wrote a post today for Compassion's blog about this sweet little girl.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Book

Guess what...I wrote a Bible study that just came out!

This is actually a book series that I developed at my last job. (What a cool job. That means that I came up with the format/flow/etc. of the books.) Then I was hired to write this one on patience.

I'm the least patient person alive, so I figured it would be a good topic for me to study. I really enjoyed studying more about it and writing this. You can actually download the first chapter on the link above.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day One

Thus it begins. Today is Day One of our 90-Day reading of the Bible begins. Do you want to join me? If so, pick a Bible, and divide the number of pages by the number of days. I'm very excited to begin. I'll be no doubt posting some of my random ramblings here. I've already done two days of reading, and I can already tell you that it's changing my viewpoints and thoughts. (But don't worry, I'm not too far ahead; today, I only read 5 pages, so you'll catch up quick.)