Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saunders County Fair

This was Dayna's first year in 4-H as a Clover Kid. She entered the maximum 5 projects, and really enjoyed the "family and citizenship" focus.
Her peanut butter pine cone bird feeder.

"See What I Can Do" - Chinese calligraphy numbers.

Scrapbook page from the day she came home from China. Her journaling: "I'm glad I came home from China to be with my American family."
A family celebration poster: Chinese New Year.
Her tie-dyed T-shirt. Oh, am I happy they make these nifty little spray bottles for projects like this!

Knowing Better, Part 2

While the first day of the conference was convicting, the second day was more uplifting. It was...well...even better.

We learned that better is better
  • When better is the Blood.
Beth contrasted two mountains in the Bible: Mount Sinai, where sacrifices were continually offered and man lived under judgment; and Mount Zion, where Jesus mediates a new covenant in His blood.
  • When better is a Savior.
Knowing better is not about having better behavior, it's about knowing Christ.
  • When better is God's love.
We can't love God until we accept that He loves us. We can't be in His will if we aren't abiding in His love.
  • When better is a way.
I don't have a lot written here, but we can choose to love again, even when our hearts have been broken. We need to look to Christ...He is the Way.
  • When better is a country.
God has prepared a city (Zion) for us. Even now, we are longing for this better country.

God has planned something BETTER for us....will we choose to keep moving forward, or living in our past, where the better makes us bitter?

Disclaimer: many, many Scripture references were given in the course of the weekend. I'm happy to share if you ask...just didn't included them all in these posts.

Knowing Better, Part 1

Last month, I had the opportunity to take a friend to the Beth Moore conference in Lincoln. I've never done a Beth Moore study, so I didn't really know what I was getting in to. The time spent getting to know my friend better was priceless. The worship was amazing. And the message was timely on so many levels.

Beth did a word study of the word "better." She had done a poll via Twitter about the connotation the word "better" had for people. I scratched my head and thought, "how can better be a bad thing." Then she shared ideas like "you can do better" or "I'd be better off...."

So she started with the thought that there is a better that is bitter, and there is a better that is better.

This post will focus on when better is bitter.

Better is bitter

  • When better is before. That is, when you are caught in the past and can't take a step forward.
This one gave me cause to ponder. How many times do I compare my current circumstances to life before I moved here? It's not that Nebraska is so horrible. It really isn't. But it's also not Oregon. However, is the Oregon in my memory the Oregon that would be reality for me if I lived there? Probably not.
  • When better is someone besides me.
Ouch. How often do I play the comparison game? I'm so competitive, and it's hard for me to let go and let someone be better than me. Do I think of others as better in a prideful (bitter) or humble (better) way? Someone being better doesn't make me worse, it makes me second. That's an interesting way to think about it.
  • When better is the route I didn't take.
How many regrets do I have that are eating me up? Beth shared that the word "better" is used most by Solomon. He said it 21 times in the book of Proverbs (better is ____ than _____). This was when his life was working out pretty well. He also used it 23 times in the much shorter book of Ecclesiastes. This was written after a time of chastisement from the Lord, and he was very depressed. (I would have been better off dead...)
  • When better is what you should have known.
Yeah...I kick myself all the time for stupid things I say and do, knowing "better." There's a difference between when you should have known better (foolishness) and when you did know better and did it anyway (failure).

So...little did I realize just how bitter I could be when God had something much better in store for me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stir-Up Days or Bust

Dayna participated in the Kiddie Parade for Ashland Stir-Up Days last weekend.

First we cleaned the wagon.

Then we bent some wire.
You can do it, Dan!
Duct tape works on everything.
Front of the wagon.
Back of the wagon.

There she goes...Stir-Up Days or Bust.

(For the record...she tied for 3rd place AND got her picture in the paper.)

A Visit from Papa and Nana

We just had a fun week-long visit with my parents. We went to the zoo, enjoyed the Stir-Up Days parade, went bowling, shopping, played way too many games of Uno and just had fun.

All wet after the parade.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


For those of you who know me, this probably isn't a huge surprise. I like to be in control. I hate conflict. If I can resolve a conflict, I will. It will cause me no small amount of anxiety, but I will try to find a solution. I will lose sleep (not necessarily by choice, but when you're an insomniac, it happens) until it is resolved.

Earlier this summer, I got some news. The news stinks. It's not good for myself or the other music teacher. Ultimately, it's not good for students. The two of us involved tried every which way to resolve the situation. We spent hours coming up with a solution...and it was a pretty good one, too. But the solution was rejected. Flat out ignored. We're reeling, losing sleep, getting angry and feeling betrayed. Numerous emails have been sent, they are read and left unacknowledged. We have tried to arrange a meeting, to no avail.

So our summer continues with no resolution, and the school year is about to start. We're already stressed, and the passive-aggressive nature of the person involved who has the authority in this situation is driving us crazy.

Please pray for me that God will work what I can't...and if He chooses not to, that He will give me the strength, stamina and creativity to proceed (with a good attitude).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Micah 6:8

Wow! What a great message today. We're studying the Minor Prophets this summer at church. Today we were talking about Micah. I remember singing a worship chorus to Micah 6:8 when I was in high school...but I've never really thought about it before.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

You know, most days, I think I've got the "act justly" part down. I mean, I try to do the right thing. I become "righteously indignant" over the wrong thing. But that "love mercy" part...I'm not a merciful person. I'm a judgmental person. You know...the kind who wants to exact justice. And "walking humbly with God"...there's just so much there that I haven't got figured out.

Case in point, I'm becoming increasingly irritated and distracted by certain behaviors at church: kids playing with their DS during the service, adults playing solitaire or checking email and Facebook on their smart phones. Let me tell you, I get so chapped sometimes I have a hard time following the service. And I still believe these behaviors are absolutely out of line.

Well, when Lucas was speaking today, a cell phone started ringing during the service. It just kept going and going. Annoying as can be. Lucas got distracted while speaking, then finally left the platform, confiscated the phone from a junior high student, and smashed it with a hammer on the stage. Did he act bet! But did he love mercy? Absolutely not. Point made. Painfully...because it's the very issue of phones and gadgets at church that is getting under my skin.

And you know what? That's between them and God. Is it really any of my concern?

So I started thinking about my upcoming school year...already fraught with stress. I think of the unreasonable person I was last year. I was all about "acting justly" with my students, and even coworkers. But I didn't "love mercy." So, here is my new logo:
I plan to post it where it will be easily visible to remind me that my duty doesn't stop with my version of justice.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America

Some challenging thoughts from the sermon yesterday at church. Thanks, Pastor Mark.

  • Government has been ordained by God to preserve order, protect citizens and promote righteousness.
God doesn't endorse any particular form of government (i.e. monarchy, democracy, etc.), but he does ordain government. He does not necessarily endorse every person in authority, but he allows them, for that season and His ultimate purpose, to hold that position.
  • Christians are to cooperate with their government whenever possible, challenge their government whenever necessary and pray for their government at all times.
This one was my "ouch" moment, and I think may be for you as well. Do we spend more time ridiculing and criticizing our leaders, or praying for them? This is sin.

1 Peter 2:13-17 was written when Nero ruled Rome...probably the most evil leader the world has ever seen.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, the first thing Timothy was told to do was pray for authority.

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
  • God is King over all the earth and no respecter of nations.
America is not more loved or favored by God than other nations. We are indeed a great nation, but God shows us no greater favor than England or Zambia or Malaysia. I think of this a lot as I desire Dayna to be proud to be American AND Chinese. I would never want her to believe that we brought her here because we're better than her family and country of origin.
  • Our ultimate allegiance is to Christ, and our highest calling is to bring the good news of the gospel to bear on the whole world.
Our citizenship is in heaven. Period.

So today I will celebrate being American. I will remember to pray for our leaders. And I will exalt our Great High King.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


A dozen eggs.

A dozen cookies.

A dozen cupcakes.

The Dirty Dozen.

A dime a dozen.

Baker's dozen.

Nineteen to the dozen.

Happy 12th anniversary, Dan! It's been a delightful dozen years.