Monday, November 28, 2005

Glen's Grandpa Bargen

Glen's Grandpa is almost 103 years old... he is such a sweetheart. (That's him with Benjamin, in case you were wondering who the baby is.) Last night he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Please pray for him and for Glen and his family.

Blah

Yes, this is our LOVELY guest room. Sigh. Wouldn't you love to come and stay? It actually looks worse in person. This is a picture of the NICE walls. I bought the paint for it around a month ago... I just can't seem to get motivated. It's SO depressing. You should see the ceiling. How did these people manage to bang up the ceiling I ask you? There is a hole in EVERY SQUARE INCH of that room! I finally managed to finish patching the walls this afternoon, with Benjamin's help, now I just have to sand the WHOLE STINKIN' ROOM. Blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blahitty blah blah blah. Blah. I guess I'd better go do some sanding. Blah.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Nephew Noah

Just TRY and tell me this isn't the MOST adorable baby in the history of the world! TRY IT. I dare you. I miss him so STINKIN' much... it's KILLING me to have to wait for Christmas! AND he's a wonderkid. He's nine months old and he's WALKING! He's cute AND talented!

NEWSFLASH! Noah has a blog! I just found out! Weeee! Check it out!
noahbraun.blogspot.com

The Ocean Has a Shore

Sigh, once again I have to credit this post to something I read on Marc's blog. Here's part of Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest that addressed some things that I've been thinking about...

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God —1 Corinthians 10:31

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow.

To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, "A disciple is not above his teacher . . ." ( Matthew 10:24 ).

Make a determination to take no one seriously except God. You may find that the first person you must be the most critical with, as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.


Just this morning I was reading through some blogs and comparing them to mine, never a good idea, and I was thinking how shallow I must look compared to a lot of deep theologians out there. My blog is a fairly accurate reflection of my thoughts, and I was feeling pretty down on myself for not having very many deep ones... Actually, it would be more accurate to say that this morning I was feeling just plain stupid compared to a lot of people out there in the blogging world. Some times I don't even "get" what they're saying. Sometimes, I have to confess, when I see a theological post I don't even read it. I don't want to make my brain focus enough to understand what they are trying to say.

It just seems like my brain is tied up with so many surface matters that I never "go deeper." That doesn't mean I don't think about spiritual things... It just seems like I'm still struggling to comprehend so many things that seem so simple and straight forward to other people. In bible college I remember leaving classes with my brain hurting, literally. I never push my thoughts so far that my brain hurts anymore... Well almost never.

I think about things like: how pretty the snow is, how cute Ben looks talking at the window to the world outside, am I having a boy or a girl, what am I gonna get my parents for Christmas, whether or not to return a shirt I don't really NEED but really like so I can have some extra cash for Christmas presents, am I having a boy or a girl, how excited I am for Mikey to come home at Christmas, how excited I am to see Jonathan and his completely lovable family, am I having a boy or a girl, should I get Benjamin the flu shot? See what I mean? I'm not pondering the deep things of God that often... I'm usually safely near the shore splashing in the shallows. It's so fun, but am I missing out by not scuba diving down to see the mysterious world far beneath the surface? (OR do I just think I should go deeper so I look smart for other people?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Some Early Christmas Shopping

We got to do some early Christmas shopping tonight! Weeeeee! Samaritan's Purse sent out a Christmas Gift catalogue with a difference... Here are just some of the many things available for bargain prices:

Rescue a Child from Bondage & Abuse
Forgotten by most of the world, millions of children struggle to survive under the most desperate circumstances imaginable. The victims of human traffickers, they are forced into virtual slavery as child soldiers, sweatshop labourers, or worse. From Africa to Southeast Asia to Latin America, Samaritan’s Purse sponsors many Christ-centred programs to protect, rescue, and rehabilitate children from a life of bondage and abuse. Your gift helps one of these children find a safe haven where they can begin life anew and find true freedom in the Gospel.
Suggested Gift: $50.00

OR

Help A Family Survive Disaster
Survivors of the tsunami in Sri Lanka or the genocidal war in Darfur take nothing for granted. In the struggles of the day, they welcome a small stove, cooking pots, a water bucket, and even soap. On a cold, dark night, they are grateful for warm blankets and a lantern. For $65, Samaritan’s Purse can assemble items like these into a kit to help a family devastated by conflict or disaster. As they start life anew, we can help them find hope for tomorrow in the Lord’s unfailing love. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV).
Suggested Gift: $65.00

OR YOU COULD EVEN

Feed A Hungry Baby For A Week
Few things are as heart-wrenching as the cry of a hungry baby. Sadly, it's a familiar sound in famine-stricken communities in countries like Niger, Nicaragua, and Bosnia, where starving infants cry themselves to sleep. Worse yet, their poor diet causes severe health problems such as bone deformities and stunted growth. God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13, NIV). That compassion is put into action through feeding projects that care for the physical needs of babies and the spiritual needs of their families.
Suggested Gift: $14

Isn't that AMAZING? There are gifts that range anywhere from $5.00 to $30000.00! (For all you big spenders!) You can buy anything from soccer balls to whole church buildings for people out there who have next to nothing! Weeeee! If you'd like to browse the full catalogue check out:
www.samaritanspurse.ca

I love the idea of being able to pick exactly where I would like my money to go... I guess the only problem we ran into was trying to pick which "item(s)" to purchase... What a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and share the light and love of Jesus Christ with people whose lives are filled with darkness and despair. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Some Shameless Advertising

I only mentioned this once in passing... So I feel like it's okay to remind all of you that Benjamin has a blog.


My psychotic sister has also started a blog...
... So if you are in the mood for the ramblings of a lunatic her blog is the place for you. (She has also started a blog for her cats, but I honestly don't remember the address for that one... I'm sure she'll come on here and tell all of us.)

My dad is working on starting one too... He hasn't picked a permanent address yet, but I will let you know when he does.

I'm such a trendsetter!

Learning My Lesson

Imagine your child comes to you and says, "Dad, I screwed up. I did something really dumb. It's all my fault and the only way out of this is if you help me. I need you to fix it Dad. I can't do it myself." I think I would want to help.

But wait.

Now imagine your child comes to you saying all of the same stuff on COUNTLESS occasions, and every time it's because they were careless or stupid. Should you help them? Aren't you just enabling them if you do? Shouldn't you be teaching them to stand on their own two feet instead of constantly running to you every time they mess up? Because you can't always be there to bail them out. You can't fix everything, right?

This is what's puzzling me... I have a heavenly father who doesn't seem to be following the rules of good parenting. I have gone to Him on COUNTLESS occasions saying the same thing... Over and over... Here are a few that stand out in my mind:

  1. During my "Christian Life" final in bible college: This was supposed to be the easiest of all exams... I barely read over my notes, which is more than most of my classmates did. Seriously... people were CRYING during the exam. And I prayed... "God... I should have studied! I know! I screwed up! Even though I know I don't deserve your help, PLEASE HELP ME REMEMBER WHAT I READ!" And He did... the answers literally popped into my brain... I scored 110%.
  2. When I idiotically slacked off on one of my last required university courses: Right before the final exam I suddenly realized that my procrastination had finally caught up with me. Unless I scored a 90% on the exam, impossible, I would fail the course and I would not get my degree that year. This time I prayed something like... "Why do I keep doing this to myself? How could I do this? Please help me... Except maybe you shouldn't, I need to learn my lesson." Do you know what happened? The prof inexplicably cancelled out all the late penalties on a paper I handed in WAY too late and suddenly I only needed to score a 30% on the final exam. I didn't get taught a lesson after all.
  3. When I erased ALL of Ben's baby photos off of our computer before checking that the disc I'd burned ACTUALLY WORKED... Which, of course, it didn't: This prayer went more like this, "Oh God! I'm so stupid! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Oh... why am I so stupid? PLEASE! Oh God! PLEASE!" After trying to load the disc AT LEAST 50 times... it suddenly, and again inexplicably, started working.
  4. When I lost my wallet with all of our credit cards and money in it while staying in Saskatoon last Christmas: Anyone who knows me well knows that I rarely carry a purse and often leave my wallet in dumb places like the yarn section at Walmart, or recently, in the garbage at McDonald's. In this instance I prayed... "Please help us find my wallet God. I know I never take care of my stuff and this is the result of me being stupid AGAIN, but PLEASE if you could just help us find it..." The next evening some lady called who had found our wallet lying in the middle of the road in front of my sister's house.
  5. When I deleted my blog: Enough said.

The thing that ties all of these occasions together in my mind is that if there was ever an idiot who deserved exactly what they got that person is me. On all of those occasions I was faced with the reality of my incompetence and my helplessness. On all of those occasions I knew God could work a miracle and I begged him for one, but I also knew if He didn't help me I was only getting what was coming to me... the consequences of my careless, thoughtless stupidity. Every time I came to Him feeling like He must be up there thinking, "Good Grief! AGAIN? This child is so hopeless. When is she ever going to learn?"

Wordly wisdom tells me that God is enabling me to be careless. Instead of letting me live with the consequences of my actions, He's bailing me out... Over and over. Worldly wisdom tells me that a smarter parenting technique would be to let me experience the consequences of my actions... so I LEARN MY LESSON.

So what's God doing? Why does He keep bailing me out? What's the point? Maybe there isn't one... or MAYBE God IS trying to teach me a lesson. Maybe the lesson isn't how to stand on my own to feet though. Maybe He's trying to teach me to depend on Him and not my own competence, because unlike my earthly father, He will always be there to bail me out if I need it. He can fix everything that needs fixing. I know this doesn't mean I have a limitless "get out of jail free" card, I know God won't fix everything so my life runs perfectly...

I'm starting to think I've been missing the point. I've been feeling like an idiot when I have to depend on God and that I'm bothering Him when I come for help, but I'm starting to think maybe He's finally got me just where He wants me... a dependent... for life... like one of those kids who never leaves home.

Now, if only I could remember to check with Him BEFORE I screw up...

In other news...

Last night was the first time I felt the baby move... Well, actually I've been feeling stuff for a while now, but last night was the first time I was completely 100% sure it was the baby and not some muscle spasm or something. Thought you'd all like to know!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Girls' Night Out

Last night some friends and I rode in a limo to the big city of Regina to see the musical Chicago. It was fabulous. We've been saving our money and plotting every detail for a LONG time now, so the anticipation was pretty high last night when we FINALLY made it into the limo. You know how it is when you anticipate something for so long that when you are finally in that moment it is a big let-down? That's what my grad was, ONE HUGE LET-DOWN. Last night wasn't like that. It was even better than I was anticipating...

The limo ride was fabulous. (Aside from the part where the driver hit on Donna... Actually, that part was pretty funny, so I'll say: Aside from the part where the limo driver asked us for some of our food... Actually, that was pretty funny too...) The two hour drive felt like it took half an hour. Tammy brought champagne for toasts. We had snacks. We got dropped off right at the door and best of all picked up right after the show. (Which meant no long walk to a cold car to be stuck in the parking lot for half an hour...) I think I need to always travel by limo.

We had a lovely supper with lots of laughs and stories I cannot repeat here because my dad reads this blog. I love, love, love girls nights out!

The show was excellent. I love musicals. Any musicals. The only downer was that I definitely need to get myself some glasses. By intermission my eyes were watering and bloodshot from straining to see... I think I'm getting old. (Okay, I know I'm getting old.)

But, my absolute favorite moment happened when we first arrived at the theatre. Before I get too far into this story I need to share one of the emails that was sent out during the plotting stage of our trip... From a person who we'll just call... "Donna".

so I am at my brother in laws..
and he happens to have a copy of the Regina Leader Post...
and I'm flipping along..
and I tune in to the 'entertainment' section..
and I see an ad for "Chicago"
ahem.
WHY did no one tell me that TOM WOPAT is the leading man?
hello?
Am I not the girl that used to watch him on Dukes of Hazard when I was 11?
Was it I that stood up and said that "Luke Duke" was so much cuter than Bo?
hello?
yes!
It was I!!!!!!!!!

Do not be surprised if the show stops because he spots me.
granted...
he looks much older..
and grayer..
and perhaps wider..
but it is still him.

ahhhhhhhhhh
I need a cold shower

Anywho. Back to the story. When we arrived we proceeded directly to the souvenir table. As we were looking at and discussing the merits of the t-shirts and hats this singing salesman behind the table says to us, "I'm not selling any of that stuff, I'm selling these CD's." (Or something like that, it's all a bit hazy.) "Donna" turns to the guy with, I can only assume, some snappy comment and cries out, "You're Tom!" There is a moment of mutual astonishment and then somehow Tom has his hands on "Donna's" face and they are gazing into each other's eyes. (Tom's look had a bit of fear in it... But only a little.) All of us then proceed to tell Tom how "Donna" has been looking forward to his performance... And how she talks about him in her emails... And, really it is a bit blurry... The next thing I remember is Tom remarking, "That's the biggest houndstooth I've ever seen!" and then we're walking away and Tom is blowing a kiss to "Donna" and we are killing ourselves laughing and... What a moment. I'm still laughing. Isn't it just fabulous how life works out sometimes? My only regret is that I didn't have my camera on me to capture the moment for all time. It will have to live on in our hearts... And Tom's...

Anyways. That was my night out. Mostly. At least the "rated G" bits of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Another Shantelle Update...

Here is another email from Shirley... please remember to pray for Shantelle and her family.

Hi everyone.
Sorry that I haven't sent an update sooner than this. Thanks for praying, and for being concerned. Shantelle had 2 tumours removed from her brain on monday. She made it through the surgery, and the Doc's were able to get it all (PTL!!) They had to remove some extra tissue in her brain to ensure that they got it all, and they were concerned about changes in her personality because of this. But so far it seems that she is completely her normal wonderful self. That is good news. The doctor reminded the family yesterday that this is one of the most deadly forms of cancer that you can get, and she is not out of the woods yet. They have moved her to a different hospital and she is waiting treatment (Chemo/Radiation).

She now has a blog/website up and running for daily updates. Feel free to check in on it if you would like. http://www.prairierascal.piczo.com Thanks friends for being my prayer partners in this !! I appreciate you all.

Love, Shirley

As for me... Today I accidently threw my wallet in the garbage at the Walmart McDonald's. Don't tell Glen.

In other news... Tonight I am off for a wild night in Regina with some hussy friends of mine to see Chicago. We're going in a LIMO! It's my first time! I'm so excited! I even got a new outfit for the occasion. I know! Will wonders never cease?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?

My blog is back! ALL OF IT! (All except for the posts I wrote while it was gone... I need some time to figure out how to put them back up with all the lunatic comments from Trav and Shirley... Wackos.) CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? (For those of you who haven't been around for the last little while, I accidentally deleted my entire blog... the previous 5 posts were all written while I thought I'd lost everything I'd ever written... it all seemed so hopeless... sigh.)

I have a new hero. His/her name is Robin from blogger support and I LOVE THEM! When all of this happened I, of course, wrote the support staff a pathetic email PLEADING for help. I thought it was hopeless. I prayed one of my desperate prayers... More about that later... and then I cried because I was sure there was no hope. But today I received an email from Robin (my hero) and this is what it said... "Hi Becky, I was able to restore that blog to your account, so you should see it the next time you log in." Then it said some other stuff that was interesting to me, but wouldn't be to you... Anyways... If you are considering getting a blog somewhere... HERE IS A GOOD PLACE! It's free and the support team is obviously... FANTASTIC! Not counting the long weekend, I got a personal response, AND was RESCUED, only FOUR, count them, FOUR days after I deleted my blog... And I did that at 11pm so the first day doesn't really count cause it was almost over... So that's only THREE days... And I got the email from Robin this morning, so today doesn't really count either, so that's only TWO days... And actually they sent out an email asking for clarification the very first day so that day doesn't count either... So that's ONE DAY! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? Oh, Robin, whoever you are... You're just the GREATEST! (Can you tell I'm excited?)

Anyways... I said I would say more later about my desperate prayer... And I will... But right now I need to go call my dad and tell him the good news! YEEEEEEEEEE!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I've slept on it.

And I've decided I agree with myself last night. I think I will not blog here anymore... I think I need to start fresh. Glen's gonna make me a new website. Till then you can still see cute photos of Ben at bentron.blogspot.com.

Here are the comments that Trav and Shirley left for this post...
trav said...
beck... you're throwing off my blogging.... i don't know if i can handle this change.... i want a sandwich!!!
12:32 PM
Shirley said...
Now I'm grumpy.
7:09 PM
trav said...
lol shirley... me too
8:41 PM
trav said...
i still check this blog everyday hoping that there will by some slim chance be something new... but it has yet to happen.... **sob**
10:15 PM
Shirley said...
Ya...me to. Sad isn't it? I think we're obsessed. Somehow it's a comfort to know that I am not the only one stalking Becky with eager anticipation. Maybe you and I could keep this blog alive, whether Becky likes it or not. Haa Haaa Whaaa haaaa haaa. (attempt at evil laugh)
2:48 PM
trav said...
lol... i'm down with that...
beck... your blog will never die muahahaha
3:31 PM

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stinkin' Stink

I don't know if I have the motivation to start all over. This is so depressing to me. I don't even know how to explain it. I don't think I can start all over... I can't face this huge empty space for a while at least... I hate computers. Or at least, I hate me on the computer. I think I should stick to a pen and paper journal... There are no delete buttons.

Seriously...

I hate computers.

Seriously... Is this really happening?

Did I really delete my whole blog? Did I really delete all that stuff that meant so much to me? Can it really be that I can NEVER go back and read my first post again? Can I really never look back and see all my work... all those posts and pictures and comments from all of you. OH! The anguish. I can't believe this is real. Even my template is gone... all that work to make my blog look pretty... all my links... all those settings that I finally had working just right. WHY OH WHY can't someone invent a time travel machine?

I can't believe I just did that.

Gone. It's all gone. Everything I wrote. Everything you wrote. All gone. With the push of one stupid button. Sometimes I'm so stupid I amaze even myself. I think I'll go vomit now.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Today Benjamin and I got up to beautiful snow! I love snow. I don't love -35 snow blowing in my face, but I adore big soft fluffy snowflakes floating down and sticking to everything! It makes everything look so PRETTY! Aside from a lovely fall day, a day like today is my very favorite sort of weather! Ben had a little trouble walking in it this morning, I had to clear paths for him or he'd cry...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Everything happens for a reason?

Okay, prepare yourselves... this one might get a little long... I've been mulling some things over lately. I've been troubled a bit by the way life seems to screw people over sometimes. (There's Shirley's friend Shauntelle, there's my friend Janie... I'm sure you could add your own people and stories to this list.) I also watch way too much Oprah. I'm the first to admit it, but sometimes her shows really help to hit me in the face with reality. Not my, normal, boring, Yorkton reality, but the reality of evil in this world. The reality of bad things happening to good people and good things happening to bad people... And I am left with this huge echoing question... "WHY GOD?" Why is there so much sadness and hurt? Why don't you step in and just do SOMETHING? Why can't you just reach down and fix it all?

Recently, I read about this story online. Pastor Kyle Lake was electrocuted during a baptismal service on October 30th while adjusting a microphone. He was just 33, and he left behind his wife and their three children. It just seemed so pointless to me... I mean, if God can perform miracles then why couldn't he have saved this man's life? I ran accross some excerpts from a book he wrote, Understanding God's Will, and what he wrote made me feel a bit more clear... I'm not saying everything makes sense to me now, or I'll never question God's will again, but I think I might be on the way to understanding...

Here are some of the things that Kyle Lake wrote that touched my heart... I know this looks really long, but if you've got the time, it's worth the read. (I've highlighted a few parts that really stuck out to me...)

"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 NRSV

There is perhaps no more redemptive verse in all of Scripture than Romans 8:28. For when our lives have come unraveled, this is the passage to embrace. And, unfortunately, this is also the passage that's done quite a bit of damage through the years when referenced by well-intending individuals who chose to quote it at the most inopportune times. For instance, imagine how this verse sounds when quoted to someone who's just experienced the unexpected death of a family member or close friend. Or when a husband and father of four has just lost his job with very little in savings and zero alternatives. Or when a 15-year-old girl has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

There are, in fact, times in life when Romans 8:28 can evoke animosity rather than hope for the future, because some Bible translations present the passage from a different angle. The New American Standard translates Romans 8:28 in this way: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (emphasis mine). In other words, the passage has a different feel because, in the verse, God has been placed before "all things," rather than "all things" being placed before God.

Naturally, people who have found themselves in a place of crisis won't need any help attributing their current predicament to God. They'll be more prone to hearing the passage read, "And we know that God causes all things" and stop there. Immediately, their anger will be stirred, because God is the one who's just taken the life of their family member or fired them from a job or placed a tumor in their brain.

In fact, one of the more popular translations of Romans 8:28 could easily be equated with folklore. "Folklore," or "folk theology," is a term a friend of mine uses to describe an age-old phrase that many people say all the time but no one knows from where it came. He says there are all sorts of phrasings and anecdotes people use today in casual conversation that, for them, function as scripture even though they're not actually found in the Bible. Tragically enough, they've just been assumed. The particular folklore reading of Romans 8:28 might then be, "Everything happens for a reason."

But did you know that "everything happens for a reason" isn't a Scripture verse? It's not a proverb or a psalm, and it's not an admonition from Ecclesiastes. And in this respect, it can take on even more authority than Scripture itself precisely because it's found on the lips of people inside and outside the Church. It's global, and yet it's not actually written down anywhere, alleviating it from actually being examined. It's practically assumed by all as unwavering truth - that is, until you find yourself trying to make sense of unspeakable tragedy or until you begin applying this "creed" to every detail of your life. So, unemployed fathers of four and cancerous fifteen-year-old girls, "everything happens for a reason," so try to figure it out.

A further look at Romans 8:28 might render a different translation, though. First, let's back up and look at the bigger picture of where Paul has been headed in chapter 8. In most translations, this specific verse falls within a section of verses beginning in verse 18. "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18 NRSV). The subject matter Paul is dealing with here is that of "sufferings," times of despair all of us encounter at some time or another. It's almost as if you can hear the question being posed, "So what do we make of all the times in our lives when we encounter suffering, tragedy, and despair? What do we make of distresses, losses, or failures that overtake our lives, often times unexpectedly?"


Then, in verses 26 and 27, a beautiful passage is offered that communicates the Spirit's action during these times. The Message recounts these verses in this way: "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God" (Romans 8:26-27).

It's in this context of suffering, then, that verse 28 is found. Again, there are some differences among translations about which phrase comes first in the sentence—"God" or "all things." But whatever the case, I think the intended meaning remains the same. It's important that we take the entire verse in view. To stop short of the last word would create an entirely different message. We can't stop at "God causes all things." Nor can we stop at "all things work together for good."

There are many, many intelligent people who firmly believe that God does in fact cause all things to happen in today's world, even tragic situations. And they haven't come to this conclusion flippantly. Many believe this to be true after diligent study of the Scriptures. However, that is not my belief. I believe tragedy, chaos, and disease are natural consequences of the Fall when humankind was given freedom of choice. Yet, no matter who you are or where your theology stands, all people who strive to thoughtfully deal with God and life are forced to live within the tension of God's providence and a chaotic world.

Still, no matter where you stand on the issue, Romans 8:28 still proves to be a redemptive passage: "We know that all things work together for good Â… " After reading the passage, a few pivotal questions to ask would be:
What are "all things"?
What kind of "good" is Paul talking about?
Who is this "good" being created for?

What are "all things"? Again, does this statement mean that God is currently causing all things that happen in the world? No. Within the context of chapter 8, Paul is referring to all of our experiences of suffering, disappointment, loss, and failure in this world. In other words, we live in a fallen world where poor, unethical, impaired decisions are made. We live in a world where no one is exempt from illness and disease. BUT, in all these things, God can create good out of disaster.

So, what is this "good"? Does this mean that if I consistently pray, God will automatically alleviate disaster, heal disease, and create tranquility around me? No, although that could very well happen. God's definition of "good" is often different than ours. Previously in Romans, Paul states, "And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us" (Romans 5:3-5 NRSV).

"Good" does not always mean "good" by our standards. Instead, "good" by God's standards has to do with the continual process of becoming a learner of Christ where our lives are being formed into people of humility, compassion, self-control, respect, patience, contentment, etc. It has to do with learning the very best way to live. If we open our eyes and our hearts during the most difficult times in our lives, then even in those times, God can bring about some of the most beautiful things within and around us.

And for whom is this "good" being created? Does the "good" just happen on its own? It explicitly takes place "for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." In other words, this "good" happens within those who have clearly and intentionally set their lives on the path toward becoming a whole-life learner of Jesus. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it doesn't just happen. Life transformation isn't an accident. It's a deliberate attempt by those who love God to allow every experience into the interior of their lives, and in the process, hopefully, see God's redemptive activity: friendships restored, renewed reliance on God, an awakening to the beauty of life, clarity of purpose, renewed compassion for others Â…

So in light of chapter 8, I would interpret Romans 8:28 as saying this: "Disappointment, failure, and suffering are simply facts of life. But for those who are actively following God, He can turn disappointment and tragedy into new life."

Copyright © 2004 Kyle Lake, Understanding God's Will: How to Hack the Equation Without Formulas (Relevant, 2004)

Now, if I can just remember some of this stuff the next time I want to shout to the heavens, "What's going on up there? Don't you see what's happening? Don't you care what's going on down here? We could use a little help!" My problem is that I'm a control freak, and I want everything to work out my way. It's a good thing it doesn't though, I mess things up all the time. I need to remember that there is someone who loves me in charge, and He cares when I hurt and even if He doesn't take away all the bad stuff in my life, He's ready to stand right there beside me and help me get through it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Update on Shantelle

Here is another email I got from Shirley. It turns out Glen knows Shantelle from his College and Career days at Forest Grove... Such a small world.

Thank you everyone for praying. We went to the hospital yesterday with little hope, but another day is here and Shantelle is hanging on. The doctors have found 2 large tumors in her brain. They believe that one of these tumors is the source, or starting point of the cancer. The hope now is that Shantelle will hold on long enough to remove these tumors. She is scheduled for brain surgery on Monday. They believe that if they can remove these tumors in her brain, they can kill off the several that are on her spine through radiation and chemo. So that is hopefull. The tumors in her brain have caused a blood vessle to burst which is affecting her vision and her speech. So please keep praying, she is definately not out of the woods yet.

We only got to see Shantelle for maybe 20 seconds, but we were able to see her husband Joe, her extended family, and friends from the Moose Jaw Church. We spent time talking and praying together. Thanks for your prayers. It is hard to see someone you love, and someone so young (30) going through this. But God is in control!

Amen, Shirley. We're praying with you!

I don't get it... (No Patsy* jokes please.)

Okay, Scotty D tagged me. I wouldn't have done this if it wasn't an excellent opportunity to rant a bit. I'm supposed to tell you the five things people around me do that I don't get.

1) I don't get Smoking: (Especially smoking with Asthma.) I know it's addictive, I know it's hard to quit, I know you'll probably gain some weight, I know everyone dies eventually, but why wouldn't you want to prevent cancer or emphysema if you could? It just really makes no sense to me. Also it makes things smell gross. Also you have to go outside in the cold of winter to do it. I'm pretty sure if the only way I could eat chips was to go outside in -30 I would finally be able to ditch my chip problem.

2) I don't get Minivans: They're ugly and irritating and they seem to make the people who are driving them dumber. I know they are easier with kids and they're cheap, but so are stained sweatpants and do-it-yourself haircuts. To me minivans scream to the world, "I give up!" (I know a station wagon isn't much better... but it's still not a minivan.)

3) I don't get People Who Don't Signal: Just plain irritating and often dangerous. How hard is it? Once you get in the habit you don't even have to think about it. I have serious road rage and nothing irritates me more than careless drivers. (Also, it seems like people in gigantic trucks seem to be the worse culprits... and they're the ones who will crush you if you are in their way... how are you supposed to get out of their way if they don't signal? How I ask you?)

4) I don't get Going for Coffee: Why do people do this? I don't drink coffee and I hate being asked to "go for coffee." It makes me uncomfortable, I feel like I've turned into one of those old people in Martensville Family Restaurant who sit there all day glaring at teenagers. Why can't people just get together without the coffee? What's so great about coffee anyways?

5) I don't get Forwards: I don't get why people keep sending me email forwards with cute little poems or stories, that tell me if I love my friends, or if I don't want really bad luck I have to keep the message going. I hate those things. I never read them. I get all excited that I have an email from a friend and then it is not even from them. It's just a generic, usually cheesy, chain letter. There must be a reason people send them. I get TONS and TONS of them all the time. WHY PEOPLE? WHY?

There you have it. I want to know what Shirley, Trav, and my dad don't get. Shirley, because I know sometimes she doesn't know what to write about. Trav, because he almost never writes. Dad, because it will be funny. (Dad doesn't have a blog, even though he should, but he can just leave his on the comments section of this post.)



*For those of you who don't get the Patsy part of the title... In a musical a few years ago I played a dumb blonde whose most memorable lines were, "I don't get it," and "Can I go to the bathroom?" (Not my proudest moment... speaking of musicals... Why do people in Yorkton line up for EVERYTHING at least 2 hours in advance? Even the doctor's office? WHY?)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Urgent Prayer Request

I got this email from my pastor's wife, Shirley, this morning and I thought I would share it with all of my online friends... I hope that's okay with you Shirley...

Hi everyone. On Sunday Harv and I came home from church to an email regarding a close friends of ours from Moose Jaw. Joe and Shantelle are the pastor couple of the church plant we helped with while we attended Caronport. We became very close with them, and spent a lot of time together. Shantelle had been experiencing back pain for the last 2 weeks. When they did a CT scan on Friday to investigate they found multiple tumours on her spine. They did emergency surgery on Saturday night. We found out last night that the tumour had regrown to pre-surgury size and that they found one in her brain now as well. The doctors are saying that she may not make it through the day. If she does lives until noon, they may try another surgury option, but it does not look good. Harv and I are heading down to Regina to be with Joe and friends from the Moose Jaw church today. I don't know if we will even get to see Shantelle. This feels devastating to us personally, and to the church plant as well. Please pray. Pray for Joe who is absolutely devastated, and for their 8 year old daughter Mikayla. I will update you when I can.


I'll update you all when Shirley updates me... Let's all keep this family in our hearts and our prayers.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tricks and Treats

Here is our little bumble Ben... I wish I had a good picture of him from the side... his costume was stuffed and he was nice and round. SO cute! Glen and I really enjoyed ourselves... Glen said it was his best Halloween ever, can you blame him though? This was his very first time trick-or-treating. (Actaully, it might have been my favorite too, and I've done plenty of trick-or-treating.) We looked like complete lunatics with our digital camera and video camera documenting every precious moment. Ben of course had no clue what was going on. He was just happy to be outside and allowed to walk right up the driveways to people's houses. He seemed to think that he should go right into each house when the doors were opened.

Our neighborhood has lots of older people who seemed to really be enjoying all the little ones at their doors. Our neighborhood ALSO has lots of older people who go completely over the top when it comes to the candy they hand out. I thought our chocolate bars and Chiclets were plenty generous, but I think we probably looked pretty cheap compared to the rest of our neighbors. At Ben's first stop he got THREE bags of chips and TWO chocolate bars... it sure didn't take very many houses before he had way too much junk...

Here's a funny, and TRUE, story from the night: We stopped for a bit at my friend Staci's house to show off Ben and, while we were visiting, a group of kids arrived with a lady "supervising" them. My friend's husband Andy put a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, and some gum in each bag. (They live in our outrageous-over-the-top neighborhood, and are apparently fitting in better than we are.) The kids started walking away and the lady (40ish and not dressed up) holds out her hand and says, "I'll just have some chips." Can you believe that? Can you? Andy said, "I don't think so" and shut the door. Lol. I can STILL hardly believe it happened.