Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Well, we've been back in Louisville now and back to normal life for 4 days now. I guess I lied when I said "more updates to come" in my previous post on our vacation. Sorry.

The end of a vacation is always bittersweet. I am usually a little sad to leave wherever we are or whoever we're visiting and return to normal life, but there is also a twinge of relief to be back home in my own bed. I'm thankful for this feeling of relief (however small it may be) because it reminds me why life should not just be "one big vacation". It is good to love my home and want to return to it. It is also good to have work and responsibility to return to. By God's grace, I was actually looking forward to returning to work and being productive. Rest and vacation are wonderful things - gifts from God - but all of life is not meant to be spent in recreation.

The Bible speaks to this in Proverbs 21:25, which says, "The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work."

Proverbs 12:11: "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense."

There are plenty of other places in the book of Proverbs as well as the rest of Scripture that attest to the Lord's good design for people to work.

Now, obviously, work looks different for different people. I am not speaking here of only the "conventional" definition of work. Dave's 84 year-old grandma is a beautiful example of one who fills her days with "work" without bringing in a paycheck. She spends her days volunteering at various non-profit organizations and functions at her church, as well as knitting scarfs, baby blankets and other items for her great-grandchildren and people in her church. She is always on-the-go and is incredibly committed to all her various activities. It is so encouraging to me to witness her use the gifts God has given her to be productive and to benefit others when she could just as easily (and understandably) spend her days resting her aged body. As a side note, she is also the healthiest 84-year-old I have ever known, and I'm sure this is due in large part to her days spent in productive activity all her life.

I am thankful for the way the Lord uses vacation time to remind me of His goodness in normal life. I am reminding myself of this even now as I anticipate going home from work and having to finish unpacking our suitcases (from 4 days ago!), pay bills, and attend to dishes and everyday work.

I can thank God for sweet and restful vacation time, but I can also agree with the author of Proverbs that it is good for my hands to work!

Oh, and just for fun, here's a little video - inspired by the title of this post - for your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vacation Update

Well, we are on the last leg of our trip. We have two more days here in Tampa with my parents before we head home to Louisville on Sunday. We have had a great time so far - both in Texas, with our friends the Gangers and Davis' and in Keystone Heights with Dave's family.

Here are a few pictures from our Texas adventures:

This is us with our dear friends, Daniel and Joy Davis (in the middle) with their sweet kids Reid and Annelise, and Tim and Sarah Ganger (on the end). We all had a great time catching up, since the Davis' moved from Louisville to Texas a couple months ago.

Dave and I had fun loving on Reid and Annelise Davis.

Aren't they amazingly cute kids! I thought about sending out our next Christmas card with this picture in it, but that might be a little weird...

We left Temple, TX where Daniel and Joy are living, on Saturday morning and headed into Houston. Here is a picture of the Houston skyline:

It is quite a spectacle (even from inside the car).

We drove straight into Pearland, TX, which is about 15 miles south of the city of Houston. (This is the area where we are looking to plant a church.) There we met a local youth pastor at a hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint and had some delicious Texas BBQ. Dave was quite impressed - which is a big deal. He's a bit of a BBQ snob.

This pastor, Jason, then gave us a really informative tour of Pearland. He was extremely knowledgeable and helpful and is very excited about what we are hoping to do in Pearland. The Lord was very kind to provide him and we are very thankful for a like-minded minister in the area. After this the six of us (Gangers, Davis', and Ainsworths) drove into the city of Houston for Part 1 of our tour (since Dave and I had never been to Houston before). We drove through downtown, straining our necks to see everything that was being pointed out to us. We stopped off at a Jamba Juice in Rice Village, and Dave and I experienced the wonder that is the Strawberry Surfrider smoothie. We can now join in on the Jamba Juice ravings with our native Texan friends. We ended the evening at Sarah's parents' home in North Houston and stayed the night there. They were wonderful hosts - providing all sorts of refreshments and snacks and a very welcoming and gracious home. Dave was just so thankful for their abundant supply of diet coke.

On Sunday morning we headed back into Pearland to attend Sovereign Grace Church. Dave, Tim, and Daniel had met the pastor of this church at the Together For the Gospel conference in April, and they had been able to keep in touch with him and let him know we would be there. We very much enjoyed worshipping with this body of believers in Pearland, and they were all incredibly loving and welcoming to us. Grady, the pastor, had us all over for lunch after church - which was no easy feat considering his wife was out of town and he was cooking for the 6 of us, one other couple from the church, and his 6 kids! He pulled it off quite well though and the time with him and his family in his home was refreshing to us all. He is a very wise man who has pastored for more than 20 years. If the Lord has us in Pearland to start a church, I know this man will be a wonderful source of godly wisdom and guidance.

The rest of Sunday included tour of Houston: Part 2, including the Galleria area and dinner at Chuy's a local Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious.

Sunday night was spent mostly savoring our last evening all together. We prayed for the city of Pearland and Houston and for the Lord to lead us in the coming year to accomplish all the He desires. It was a sweet time and we were all sad to part the next morning.

We all headed our separate ways on Monday morning: the Davis' to a family vacation in Colorado, the Gangers back to Louisville, and Dave and me to Florida to visit family.

We have had a wonderful time with family, and it's not over yet. More updates to come...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chipmunks, Bunnies & Squirrels, Oh My!

Here's a light-hearted post for your reading enjoyment:

It never fails that I see at least one bunny and a few chipmunks each day outside my window at work. And whenever I do see them, I am compelled to exclaim, like a little child, the name of the animal. Just this morning I walked right past a chipmunk on my way to the office and before I know it, I hear myself exclaim "chipmunk!" a little louder than is socially acceptable. This can prove somewhat awkward when others are around. Yet this does not seem to deter me, and I will continue, day after day, to joyfully exclaim the names of all my little creature friends at work.

I included a picture of a chipmunk for your viewing pleasure. I have decided that chipmunks are amazingly cute animals and surprisingly un-gross for being so rodent-like. Basically, I am delighted with them and would be very open to having one as a pet. I would make him a little sweater and teach him to sing and he would travel the world getting into all sorts of skirmishes... oh wait, that's already been done... in the form of a cartoon - an excellent cartoon, I might add.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Texas Bound

In 3 days, Dave and I will be making our first trip ever to the Lone Star state. As many of you know, we are prayerfully considering moving there (specifically to Houston) in a year to assist with a church plant. As this will be the first time either of us has ever set foot in Texas (aside from the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport), we are not entirely sure what to expect. We do, however, know to expect heat. And more heat. But then, we lived for 20+ years in Florida, so this is nothing new. Unfortunately, my being accustomed to being hot does not equate with enjoying the heat. In fact, being hot often stirs my comfort-loving heart to complaining and discontentment. When I grumble at the heat and my subsequent discomfort, I am grumbling against the Lord.

It is as if I am saying, "Lord, I don't believe that this heat and discomfort is for my good. I have the right to be comfortable at all times. I am entitled to live in a place where the climate suits my desires perfectly and to complain when it doesn't. In fact, my comfort is of utmost importance. It is more important than being hot for the sake of the gospel of Christ."

Ugh. Just writing that is shameful.

There are many preparations left to make before we leave on Friday. The obvious ones include washing and packing clothes, and carefully packing our carry-ons free of liquids or nail files or suspiscious items (for fear of being manhandled and interogated by the TSA). But there are also spiritual preparations to be made in my heart. As I seek to prepare my heart, I am looking to Philippians 2:14-15:

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world..."

Would you pray this for me as well? That I would do all things, included visit Texas, without grumbling, that I might shine as a light in this crooked world. Houston, TX is part of this crooked world that needs lights to shine with the truth of the gospel. Hot people in Texas need Christ. I pray I will remember this even as my sweat-soaked back and humidity-frizzed hair tempt me to grumble and question.

Would you also pray for wisdom and discernment for Dave and me as we seek to determine if indeed the Lord would have us move to Houston in a year? Your prayers on our behalf are much appreciated.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We Have Dominion

On his blog today, Dr. Albert Mohler commented on a New York Times article featuring the late Leona Helmsley, a woman who made billions in New York real estate and was infamous for material excess. Ms. Helmsley made the headlines last year after her death when it became public knowledge that she left millions to be used for the care of her own dog. This time, she is making news as it seems she desired for her entire trust, somewhere between $5 and $8 billion be used towards the welfare of dogs in general.

I encourage you to read Dr. Mohler's response to this, as he makes many insightful comments from a Christian worldview. Of course, I cannot come close to responding as thoroughly as him, but I do have a few thoughts to share on this topic:

I think it is rather fitting that this is my very next post after that announcing our cat's death. And for those of you who did not gather this from my previous post - the cat was put down (which is a nice way of saying that we chose for her to be euthanized because she was sick). Although it was a very sad decision for Dave and me to have to make, and we love animals just as much as the next American, it was a rational decision in light of the fact that it was a cat.

Sometimes, Dave and I would jokingly tell Gloria that we have dominion over her. It was kind of like when your mom or dad would tell you to do something "because I said so." So, we would tell Gloria to do things (or rather, not do things - like jump on the table) "because we have dominion over you." This was always said in jest, but it was nontheless true. God gave humans dominion over animals (Gen. 1:28).

Even non-Christians who are unfamiliar with the creation account in Genesis recognize this to be true. And this is a small part of why it is so unfathomable to people, as demonstrated in the writing of this NY Times article, how Leona Helmsley can leave billions of dollars to care for dogs over against people.

Rather than simply gawk at how "crazy" it is to leave billions of dollars to dogs (which I have done my fair share of), we should be moved to sadness at how very wrong Ms. Helmsley's priorities were.