Friday, December 14, 2007


I'm going home for Christmas!!


There are snow flurries in the air in Budapest!!


I'm going home for Christmas!!

And I'll be home for New Year's Too!!!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Rainy days are not lazy days

It's raining in Budapest and it feels as though I've been out in the rain all day. Oh yeah, maybe it's because I have been in the rain all day. I wish rainy days could always be lazy days like when it snows and there's a blizzard and all you can do is stay inside all day. Rainy days are perfect lazy days. Read a book, drink some coffee, get your favorite blanket and curl up on the couch.....ah. But unfortunately in the real world, rainy days are not lazy days.

It's 8:15 pm and I just returned from Chris and Renea's. They already left for the states but are kindly letting me store my stuff in their flat. I'm taking a few bags over every chance I get and on Thursday after staff meeting, Nori and the guys will help me take the rest of the stuff over. When I get back in January, I'll stay in Chris and Renea's flat while they are gone until I find a new flat.

My roommate, Anna, is moving to a smaller city outside of Budapest where she teaches English. It's a great move for her. She'll be closer to the school and the community of Hungarians she has come to love, but it's too far and not practical for me to move there with her. Everything I do (except for Hungarian lessons and High school club) is about 10 minutes from where we live now. I have to say that I'm going to miss the girl. She's probably one of the best roommates I've had. Quirky, funny, kick-back and just plain adorable. It's been great. I will treasure the memories with village girl.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Unfailing Love

This morning I awoke to a subtle sense of God's unfailing, unconditional love. 

And now as I think about it - what enables the heart to know that there is such a thing as "love"? If it were not possible and true, then we would not desire it. But that's another blog for another time.

If God could physically greet me with a kiss and breakfast in bed, He did that this morning. My whole being came alive as my mind was captured with thoughts of God's incredible presence in my life.  He is so real. His love is reliable, constant, steadfast, unfading, boundless, and tireless.

The funny thing is - I'm not always reliable, constant, steadfast, unfading, boundless and tireless in my love for Him and in my love for others.

I don't know about you but sometimes I get tired of people. It's easy to love people when it's on my terms. God is not like us at all. His love is not ambiguous. It's not limited or restricted to God's good days. God doesn't have any bad days. For that, I'm thankful.

The opposite is also true. People get tired of us. I don't think I really know how much love costs until I do something stupid and hope that the love of family or friends doesn't wear out. It's in these moments that I realize I don't know how much unconditional love is worth until I need it. 

Unconditional love is difficult to comprehend. This kind of love is not subject to any conditions. I realize I'm very conditional by nature. If certain things aren't done a certain way, sometimes I hold back. What is that? That's not unconditional love.

Unconditional love is wholehearted. So many times I am half-hearted.  I may limit or restrict or reserve some of myself so that I don't get hurt. Out of self-protection I am guarded. Yet, God holds nothing back. His entire essence and purpose in our lives is clear and plain. 

David Crowder sings that he will be "even more undignified" in his love for God. But I think that God is often what we might consider undignified in His love for us.  Sometimes our lives are just not pretty. But God loves us through all the mess, all the "jank" and continues to lift us by that love. That's amazing.

His love should leave no doubt in our mind about His intentions toward us. He is not ambiguous but very clear that He is committed to us for the long-haul and He won't turn back. His love should be indisputable, undeniable. He has made it clear and plain. His love is not open to our interpretation. 

What Jesus Christ did on the cross is a settling and sobering thing. 

He left us no doubt. What will we do with His unfailing love? First, I believe I must allow it to penetrate my life and transform my thinking. God's thoughts and His ways are not my thoughts or my ways. And finally, unfailing love is worth giving away! Find someone that you can tell or share His presence with today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fun times...

One of our team members, Chris Gill (whose wearing the Santa hat) leaves for the states next Tuesday. His wife, Renea, is having their first child in December. So, Chris wanted to have the high school Christmas party early. The students are having a really fun time. It's evident when Chris asks them, "What was the highlight of your week" and the answer is "English Club" that atleast in the minds of these few kids, something is working. I believe the students feel God's love and concern through us. And we are not what they may associate "religious" people to be like so that's actually really great.

For the Christmas party, I was Betsy Baker - fun Christmas bread, banana bread and oatmeal raisin cookies. We were able to use the very nice "Klub" room. Chris had a box of swiss miss hot chocolate so we brought that and shared with the students. I don't think they appreciated it nearly as much as we did. It was the hot chocolate with mini-marshmellows too!

We sang the 12 days of christmas and feliz navidad. I even did a guitar solo! (ha ha)

Thanks for praying for the high school and for great things to happen in the spring. Right now Tina is the only girl coming. Believe with me for more girls!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Multi-tasking in chaos

My mind is an amalgam of organization and brinks of chaos. My day planner is riddled with a list of things to do. Yet other things often come up and I don't take the time to write them down. I just add them to my mental checklist. I have to incorporate them into my world and a lot of them are "time sensitive." Sometimes I start thinking of someone I need to get in touch with about something and so I follow it up. Or there's something I have to do and pursuing it takes time.

Today, in the middle of doing 4 things (organizing a plan with Nori and Chris seperately through text messages, making stuff for tomorrow's high school Christmas party, studying for my PT course and packing for the US), I thought about following up on a hotel reservation. I arrive into Chicago on December 15th and I'm so grateful that a friend booked a hotel for me. But I need to find out if there's a hotel shuttle. I know, I know. Why did I have to do it right then? I didn't. That's the thing. But I wanted to know in that moment and so it became the "tyranny of the urgent knowing".....So I logged onto skype and gave a call to the states. That's a lot of random things to be doing all at the same time. But this is how my brain works.

I get a lot of things done, which is important to my personality type....I'm proudly a Sanguine/Choleric, (fun test to take.. but sometimes the world around me looks more like a whirlwind with a destination than the calm in the storm.

still packing
figured out a plan with Chris/Nori
still preparing for Christmas Party
started a load of laundry
texting a few girls to meet this week
still studying

Am I driving anyone crazy yet?

Abraham Lincoln Quote

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln.

So true. So true.

A daily choice.

Some days are easier than others.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's raining, It's pouring...

It's pouring outside and my coat is soaking wet. Thank God last year I got a coat that keeps the cold out and the warm in, with rain rolling off the jacket like water on a ducks back.

I love the sound of rain. On days like these, I want to just hop in bed and stay there but i'm only here for a little while until I have to go back outside. So, I'll sit here now with a cup of hot coffee with creamer and honey, listening to music, and rest under the covers with enough time for a lil' reflection and writing.

I love the rain because it washes away the junk on the dirty streets of Budapest.

I love the rain because it just makes everything seem "fresh."

I love the rain because everyone gets wet!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Valerie Burton Archive

I love this woman! She is practical, she writes well and asks you tough questions that you can actually move forward into a better future. I'm loving her stuff and have purposed in my heart that each morning I will read one of her short articles as I drink my coffee, read my Bible and pray.

Let me know what you think.

thanksgiving and christmas

Abraham Lincoln once said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be or something like that. I agree.

I do have to say that getting a plane ticket home for the Christmas holiday is right up there on the list of delightful things. 

I'm already starting to compile a list of things I need to get while in the states. Peanut butter, tuna, starbucks, bath and body works lotion, ink cartridges, bargains at Patagonia outlet, Neil Anderson book about breaking bondages, and a ton of other books I need to dig out from underneath mom and dad's staircase.

I'm looking forward to seeing how much Savannah has grown. And the Scofield kids are always a ton of fun! And of course, every opportunity to kiss mom and dad and siblings and tell them thank you is a good thing in my book, especially as the years just keep going by.

Last night my brother Greg called me on Skype. Funny thing is we found out I have a camera! We had fun. I got to show him my apartment and introduce him to my reluctant roommate who didn't feel camera ready. 

Sometimes it's tough to cross the ocean of distance between two places I love so much. But thank God for skype, blogspots, cameras on laptops and the list goes on. 

And THANK YOU God( and know who you are) who provided for me to get home this Christmas!  Thanks Lord. Really. 

Friday, November 30, 2007

Darwin Awards - Lawn Chair Larry

"A man can't just sit around...." Lawn Chair Larry

At Thursday night English conversation group we talked about a new television program that will be airing here in Budapest based on the "Darwin Awards." You can go to their website ( and you'll see that based on Darwin's "survival of the fittest" it pokes fun at how people do very stupid things to "chlorinate the gene pool." Yet, not everyone has to actually die to win the Darwin Award. Some people actually live to tell about it.

Take Lawn Chair Larry, for example. Addison shared his story on Thursday night and we laughed like crazy. Here's his story:

Lawn Chair Larry
1982 Honorable Mention
Confirmed True by Darwin

(1982, California) Larry Walters of Los Angeles is one of the few to contend for the Darwin Awards and live to tell the tale. "I have fulfilled my 20-year dream," said Walters, a former truck driver for a company that makes TV commercials. "I'm staying on the ground. I've proved the thing works."

Larry's boyhood dream was to fly. But fates conspired to keep him from his dream. He joined the Air Force, but his poor eyesight disqualified him from the job of pilot. After he was discharged from the military, he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead.

He hatched his weather balloon scheme while sitting outside in his "extremely comfortable" Sears lawnchair. He purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawnchair dubbed the Inspiration I, and filled the 4' diameter balloons with helium. Then he strapped himself into his lawnchair with some sandwiches, Miller Lite, and a pellet gun. He figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend.

Larry's plan was to sever the anchor and lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard, where he would enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. But things didn't work out quite as Larry planned.

When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawnchair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn't level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 16,000 feet.

At that height he felt he couldn't risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, for more than 14 hours. He crossed the primary approach corridor of LAX, where Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines pilots radioed in reports of the strange sight.

Eventually he gathered the nerve to shoot a few balloons, and slowly descended. The hanging tethers tangled and caught in a power line, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes. Larry climbed to safety, where he was arrested by waiting members of the LAPD. As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover the daring rescue asked him why he had done it. Larry replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around."

The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused. Safety Inspector Neal Savoy said, "We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, a charge will be filed." © 1994 - 2007
Submitted by: Ed Greany, Douglas Walker, Walter Hecht
Reference: UPI, Stabbed with a Wedge of Cheese by Charles Downey



Gloria Jean's Coffee House

If a coffee house could feel like your livingroom or some other part of your home, it would be Gloria Jean's Coffee House at Hero's Square. One of my favorite rooms to come and write is wallpapered in large, antique looking black and white flowered wallpaper. Comfortable striped chairs are in each corner near a plug. These have been my favorite spots to plop down with mini-round coffee tables where you can set your books and laptop and write away!

Lest you think I come here all the time, I have to say that the last time I was here was over a month ago. I only frequent the place when our internet at home goes out and I'm desperate for world wide connection.

This evening as I entered the coffee house from the very cold weather, I noticed an incredibly beautifully decorated tree with fake presents under it. The place is festive and I feel like I'm in America. Of Course, the original Gloria Jeans opened as a small coffee shop in Chicago but has now spread to over 26 nations. I recently discovered that they are a major sponsor for Mercy Ministries, an organization that helps women with eating disorders. I think that's pretty cool!!

Well, I was shocked as I walked in from out of the cold to a beautifully decorated coffee house AND I was greeted in English with a very friendly, "Jen!"

I actually said, "Huh?...What did you say?"

And they repeated it. "Jen. How are you Jen. Good to see you Jen." Not only did Csoba and Richard remembered my name, but I haven't been here in ages. I was absolutely taken off guard and just felt so loved. Isn't that funny? I'm loved and known at Gloria Jeans. I belong. My world is complete.

But seriously, in Eastern Europe customer service isn't quite what I'd call consistently good. Not that it's always bad either. It's just you never know what to expect. But I can expect the best here at Gloria Jeans. It's a little pricey - ok, a lot pricey - paying over $6 for a coffee and a semi-chocolate muffin, but hey. I'm not asking for the world. Just a little love.

Good Quote

"Life is not about reaching goals. It's about passing milestones."

Jack Hayford

A big duck in a small pond ? Jack Hayford's Humility

Jack Hayford has been a Christian for a long time. And in all that time he has never had a negative report of falling into sexual sin, financial sin or anything else. He is now the current president of the Foursquare Churches International. He is also a best selling author and pastored one of the largest churches in America for several years.

Jack Hayford recently spoke to Every Nation leaders about his life and ministry. This is vital because in an age when several men and women have fallen into sexual, financial and other sins, Jack is one of the few who is running this race and has not been stained by these things. THANK GOD. So encouraging!!

If you have a minute, you will not regret listening to Part II and III. It's absolutely encouraging and interesting. I think it's important to learn from older men and women and it's important to hear their stories. This is part of Jack's story and call into ministry and faith. As many of you know, both my sisters and my brother-in-laws are part of the Foursquare in Reno. Personally, I have been encouraged and strengthened in my faith through the Foursquare in Reno when I was home this summer.

You know, Jack Hayford's life encourages me. He is a steadfast, faithful and loyal man. THANK GOD FOR MEN LIKE HIM!!!

As I watched this I realized that I want to be a woman who stands in her 80's telling the next generation that it's possible to live a steadfast, faithful life for Jesus. I want to love one man for a lifetime who loves Jesus more than me, that together we can serve God for a lifetime, build a family and extend God's kingdom around the world - for a lifetime. I'm inspired.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We see with our eyes. God looks at the heart.

Funny isn't it that we see other people, our life circumstances, etc, etc, only with our natural eyes.

Yet, in David's case, God saw the heart of a young boy and his potential.

What's going on in my heart? It doesn't matter what my life looks like on the outside. It's all about the heart. That's good news really because I'm not living surface level Christianity, but God goes for the juggler. He's going after what really counts. A heart set apart. He aligns us to Himself when He looks at our heart. He's not satisfied with mental assent in anything.

I'm finding my faith challenged in a few areas and the biggest challenge is not to look with the natural eyes but to see things from His perspective - from His heart.

Thankful for the journey.

Hungarian lessons

My teacher, Gabi, looked a little frustrated at me.

She expects me to learn all these new things AND remember all the other stuff she taught me?

Ugh! My brain is on Hungarian overload.

Oh, it's no longer there....

This hasn't been the first time that a shop or a place I needed to go to here in Budapest that was once open and thriving is now shut down completely, or being renovated or has moved with little or no notice.

I guess this is where I realize I am a creature of habit.

I like to wake up with coffee, creamer and honey in the morning. It's part of the routine. I like to have time to read in the morning and focus.

I like to know that certain things are not going to change. For example, for convenience when I need to make copies and I go to the copy shop just before english conversation group. So, when the only copy shop you know of closes down and moves away....and you can't read the signs of where they kind of pushes some frustration buttons.....Found out later it moved just down the street. Found that out after I went to another place where I was hoping to find a copy machine. Got there and the copy machine was broken. OK, no big deal really. Isn't life about flexibility?

I like adventure. I like the unknown and the surprise of changes....atleast I assent to it in my mind. Then, I have to meet a girl at a McDonalds that is in a thriving area but come to find out all the lights are out and reconstruction under way. It looked fine to me before. So in the cold Budapest weather we are looking for another non-smokey area to meet.

It's actually really funny when you think about it! One time within about a week a small shop around the corner from my house just "appeared." Then another one a few blocks away suddenly shut down. When I first arrived, the internet cafe I was going to shut down unexpectantly and quickly became a shoe store......

So yeah. Life is like a box of chocolates in Budapest....You never know what you're going to get and sometimes it's just no longer there!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Pictures

Addison and Lisa hosted the Thanksgiving party at their house. Addison is technically savvy and posted the pictures from Thanksgiving. Here's the link for pictures.

They ordered two beautiful birds from this guy (you have to special order Turkey) and you can see them in the photos. Most of the Hungarians liked all the traditional American Thanksgiving food but yams seemed to be least popular.

It was exciting to see 9 girls from English conversation there. Trusting it's going to just build on great things from here. Attila, who has been coming to church for two months (I think mainly to be around Americans....He is determined to get to America, though I'm hopeful there will be more....) even sang the National Anthem on our glorious night.

I think he asked every one of us to join him until he finally convinced Peter to help him out.
He was a little disappointed when he asked me if we sing the National Anthem every Thanksgiving and I had to break it to him that actually we never sing it on Thanksgiving. It's more a football game tradition.

What's that smell?

Cleaning out my fridge recently I realized that there were a few items my roommate and I kept in there way past their expiration date. Smelly food is just not appealing. Once it was creamy white milk that you pour on your cereal or put into coffee. Now, it's curdled and has become a completely different substance. Leftovers from a previous nights delicious meal sit inside plastic wear and slowly become something else over time.

I started thinking about how many times I've held onto expired things in my life - attitudes that no longer serve me well, ideas and thoughts about people and things that are way past their time and must be released, hurts that I've allowed to sit and grow into something else over time.

Once again, it's time to clean out the fridge again both literally and in my personal life. There will always be things that need to be renewed. Life is about maintenance and sometimes we have to do some cleaning out to make room for new things. Here's to a winter cleaning.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A cultivator? A promotor?

"Your husband is your maker. His name is the LORD of Armies. Your defender is the Holy One of Israel. He is called the God of the whole earth."
Isaiah 54:5

Recently the thought crossed my mind. Why would God call Himself our "husband."? For men, this might be strange, so if you need to "check out" now is the time. But it must be God-inspired if it's in the Bible. There's something in the definition that is meant to encourage all of us as believers.

Looking up the word husband and husbandry, I found a lot of different meanings.

At sea, a husband is the owner of a ship who manages its concerns in person.

With money, a husband is a good manager. He knows and practices frugality and looks at ways to develop a profit.

In farming, a husband is a cultivator; a tiller of the ground. To husband something is to direct, manage, use or employ in the manner best suited to produce the greatest effect.

So lets break that down to God as a husband in our life.

He owns our ship.

He manages our concerns personally.
(He doesn't send someone else to do His dirty work. He gets in there and gets it done.)

He's developing eternal treasure inside of us.

He's a cultivator. He sows His seed in and helps it mature.

He's a promotor. He develops the crops within you.

God takes this role seriously and is willing to place himself in this definition to put an exlamation point on His willingness to clarify His purpose in your life. I find it interesting and encouraging.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


normal physical functions suspended or slowed down for a period of time;
as if in a deep sleep;
asleep, resting, inactive, passive, latent.

toilet paper

I don't think I'll ever get used to grabbing your toilet paper before you go into public stalls in schools and stores here in Hungary. Yes, that's right. Don't forget your toilet paper on the way in.

Atleast it wasn't the cardboard toilet paper found in some places in Hungary.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shut in and renewed

Yesterday I woke up feeling miserable. I don't think it had to do with eating thanksgiving turkey twice (once at the Bullocks and once for a special Thanksgiving event we hosted for Hungarians) although I'm sure the slices of pumpkin pie, apple pie and pecan pie didn't help.

Yesterday I stayed inside my flat all day long, except for once when I ran to the store to get water and milk. I sat in bed and read, organized papers, thought about lots of things. I think it was time to get caught up in my body, heart and mind, if that makes sense. A day of rest was desperately needed.

"Faith is an energetic art."

I came across this quote. This morning I have the desire to re-engage in my faith. The strength and faith it takes for living in our world can't be underestimated. Sometimes we just need to sit and think, rest and pray and then engage our faith in the real world. So, that's where I'm going today. After going with Gabor to this school, I will meet with Ezster, Peter's sister who is interested to hear more of my testimony. I told her a little at Nori's baptism last weekend and she was curious. Our team has been believing and praying for Peter's sister.

I'm thankful for God's presence.
I'm thankful for His purpose in our life.
I'm so thankful for a new day to practice the energetic art of faith and believing.

It's 6:45 am...

It's Saturday morning and I'm up early. I'm going with Gabor, one of the students who has been coming to English club since we started last Fall, to a city 25 minutes from Budapest so we can teach english to a class of elementary students.

Do I need to prepare, I asked Gabor yesterday? Nope. Just show up. That's all I know. Meet at Nyugati at 8:15 am and you'll receive further instructions.

Sometimes life is all about just showing up. Other times preparation is necessary for success. Either way, it's much too early to be writing but it brings me comfort and I enjoy it.

Why are men happier?

Men are happier people because.....
...their last name stays the same.
...the garage is all theirs.
...they can never get pregnant. mechanics tell them the truth.
...the occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. shoes don't cut, blister and mangle their feet. conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
...they know stuff about tanks.
...a five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
...they can open all their own jars.
...if someone forgets to invite them, he/she can still be their friend.
...the same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
...they only have to shave their face and neck.
...they can "do" their nails with a pocket knife.
...they are unable to see wrinkles in their clothes.
...they have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache.
...they can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24th in 25 minutes.

OK, so maybe this is a lil' exaggerated on some points but I'm sure there are some half-truths if not whole truths mixed into this one.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful in Budapest

I want to write. I have many thoughts but I have no energy. It's been a long couple of days filled with some good things. All I can say is that I'm thankful here in Budapest.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Diamond Anniversary!

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrate sixty years of married life on November 20th. That's a long time. Elizabeth was a 21 year old princess and Philip was a 26 year old naval officer when they first married. Four children later, the Queen is 81 and Philip 86. They've shared a glamorous but rough life together in the public eye, and they are still standing. More than 2,ooo people are expected to attende their anniversary service at Westminster Abbey.

"They've always leaned on each other,' says Pru Penn, who is older than the Queen by three months. "How else do you think she managed to cope so incredibly well through such tough times? Whatever people may think, they haven't had an easy life, especially in recent years, but they've had each other, and they still need each other. I was watching them teasing each other and giggling just the other day and I thought, how lucky they are to have each other. They've always been different - he's sharp, decisive, bold, and she's cautious and slow to make up her mind - and they don't always like the same things, but they fit like hand in glove."

Interesting thing is many people didn't think he would be a good suitor because of his background. Yet the Queen laid eyes on him 8 years prior and thought to herself, "That's the man I want to marry." I guess when you're a princess and daughter of the King of England, you can do that! To this day, she still looks at Philip with a glint in her eye whether he's barbecuing on the terrace or at a public engagement. Love it!

Although Philip came from royal blood, many feared he would not make it with the rigors of royal life but instead turn back to his father's example as a gambler and womaniser. Many thought Philip to be too rough and uneducated. Yet, 60 years later, here they are. And apparently they do still sleep in the same bed, despite the rumors going around that they don't.

In a world of quickie solutions and broken relationships, I'm thankful to hear of their 60 years together. Not only is it possible, it is happening in the world today.....Congratulations Queen Elizabeth and Philip.

Two couples I spent some time with this past summer also hit a milestone - the 50 year mark. I love hearing their stories. It gives me hope for the future, that it is possible. I'm sure it takes a lot of work, patience, perseverance, mutual respect, encouragement and a ton of other components but it sure looks inviting! To say you've made it to 60 years is quite a huge accomplishment.

A Thankful Heart!

I have found myself all over the place these days. Thankful, frustrated, full of joy, fearful, ready to persevere and lay hold of all that is ahead knowing that I can't throw in the towel now and yet coming to moments where it sure is tempting. Yet there's no where else to go. I really wouldn't want to go anywhere else anyways. As Peter told Jesus, "Who else holds the words of life?" No, not one other does.

It's time to get up from under emotional waves of uncertainty and realize that God is at work.

How can I maintain a thankful and joyful heart? In my natural temperament, I think I definitely live on this side of being thankful and joyful. But outside of temperament, when life throws you curve balls and things are unclear, how do you walk not after the flesh but after the spirit - thankful, joyful? I've been asking myself and others how to maintain this. Cultivation. Incubation. Saying NO to stagnation. Oh, Lord. I want a thankful heart this Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Imagination, Sanctification, Exaggeration

Is it all in my imagination?
This mind of mine that surely needs sanctification.
Oh Lord, I hope it's not all an exaggeration.
Now and then I'm feeling a bit of frustration.
When will this anxt turn to sweet elation.
In the meantime, I'm getting a lot of revelation.
And I know that you help me through every trial and tribulation.
Please come and be for me my vindication.
Sometimes I feel as though my heart is on full publication.
But through these things I'm finding a fresh education
As you teach me about love being patient and kind
As you teach me about love's full design.

night time dentistry

Things you'll never hear in the U.S.

"I have an appointment tonight at the dentists" my roommate recently said to me.

"Really? What time?" I asked.

"Around 6:30 pm."

"Are you nervous?" I asked.

"A little. They are going to replace a root canal on my tooth. I just don't know what to expect in another country, but it's Rita's dentist so it should be OK" said Anna. (Rita is a fellow Hungarian teacher and friend to Anna.)

"I'll be praying that all goes well" I said.

"Thanks." said Anna.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Life Journey....the Alps

This morning I read a Spurgeon devotional giving an analogy that the way of life is much like traveling through the Alps. The Alps mountain range spans the distance of several European countries including France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and even little old Liechtenstein. The vast mountain range brings constant exposure to unclear mountain paths and one's feet can easily slip at different points along the way. This is true with any mountain range, I suppose. Not only is a life traveler exposed to pitfalls, the unexpected challenges of both rough and smooth terrain, but trouble comes with knees that get weak, feet that get weary of walking, changes in climate, dehydration and I'm sure the list goes on.

Thinking in terms of a mountain range is a bit of a shift for me. The analogy of being a long distance runner has always been an inspiration to me. Maybe this analogy has been most liked because the path is clear and it's all about endurance. Whoever just keeps running is going to make it to the finish line. Yet life is often much more about climbing the mountain. I don't think I really like that. Sometimes I would much prefer to know what I'm getting into rather than take on the unexpected. Yet I pride myself on being "the adventurous one."

As I thought about this analogy one truth came to mind about this climb called "Life's Journey". When you are fastened into unchanging truths - it's much like owning the equipment that avid mountain and rock climbers use - there is something settling that takes place in your life. Even when I lose my grip or the terrain is worse than I thought, my life is fastened into the unchanging love of God. I find the "tools" I need to get through. Whether that means glacier glasses or ice axes for mountaineering, I can get through everything and anything with His strength in my life.

His love, His faithfulness, His strength does not change even when everything around me is chaos, even when everything in my circumstances look unclear. I will make it to the top of the mountain and live to tell about it.

When I have difficulty climbing the mountain, I have to remember that I am fastened into His faithfulness and I have got every tool I need for success. It's because of my relationship with Him that I can make it to the top. I'm not going anywhere, even if I'm just hanging off the side of the mountain, swinging back and forth. I will wait for Him to come and help me. I don't care if it looks foolish. I'm not going anywhere because I want to make it through and to the top. He is there for me and He is there with me in this mountain climb.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life in the Pest Today

Some of the staff went to lunch at a place that was supposed to be "Mexican" food today. Umm, no. That's all I have to say about it was not. OK, actually I have more to say about it. One of our team members said this was the recommended Mexican spot by a Hungarian restaurant reviewer. This reviewer has definitely never had authentic Mexican. Oh well. I still had a great time.

A few days ago, I pulled out the thicker jacket and I definitely needed it today. After staff meeting, the temperature had dropped atleast 10 degrees and it was freezing! I realized that Lake Balaton is going to be even colder. For three days in that cold weather I will need a second layer if I plan to run. So I packed it tonight. I was informed that I'll have to get up super early if I want to run because basically, we will be busy from 8 am until 11 pm at night at this "Let's Talk" English Intensive with Hungarians. It should be interesting to say the least.

I still have neck pain so I haven't been in the water since last week. I'm sort of bummed about that but what can you do? Bike and run, which is what I've been doing. Swimming is the least strenuous in some ways but when your neck hurts and you have to breathe on both sides, it's kind of impossible.

I sent out an invitation to about 15 girls for a movie night and I've been getting emails/text msgs from girls today and most of them have been confirming for this Saturday. So far, 9 (or 10?) are coming. Nori is going to help me shop for snacky food. We are going to have a great time! These girls have only come around to English Clubs so I'm hoping they will see something different as we hang out and that it will be a segway to life and faith.

I met with Nori tonight for over three hours! Wow, that girl is at such a great place. I LOVE being around people who are just coming into the faith walk and are hungry for God's truth. She's such a sponge. She wants to know it all. It's so exciting to walk with her through the basics of faith - the foundations of faith in Christ. Hmmm, I love it. She wants to get water baptized and so we are talking about doing that this month! I love being with new believers because I'm reminded of what God has done in my heart. God surely has done a lot.

I'm excited to have several days away from internet access at Lake Balaton. I'm sure I'll be on people overload after the week ends but I'm curious about meeting professional Hungarians who want to increase their english speaking skills. Life in the Pest - I guess it's never "boring."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Training this week

I was planning to swim and bike early this morning on Margaret Island but went to bed and woke with pain in my neck. So, instead I'll do the stationary bike and lots of stretching exercises at the local gym where aerobic classes shout "Harom, ketto, egy....". Not quite sure what happened to my training partner, Nona, but she sent a text to say she is out for about 10 days and needs to focus on stretching/recovery. Hope she's OK. I'll call her later.

Then I read online news Saturday that Ryan Shay who was set to go to the Olympics and compete in the Marathon event died on the event qualifier race Saturday. Apparently, he had an enlarged heart. How sad because he was so young and no doubt just starting out with his Olympic goals. I read is that his father had considered coming up and surprising him Saturday morning but second guessed himself and stayed behind. Now he says he regrets it. Wow, that sucks! So much to be thankful for each day. All we have is today and we should live it well.

Anyways, it's amazing how our bodies are affected by every little thing and things we don't even understand. But I guess pain is an indicator that our body is telling us something. So, with my neck I wasn't about to push it and try and swim.

I'm thinking ahead to how I will train when I'm at the English Camp at Lake Balaton Wednesday through Friday. I wonder if there will be marked out paths so I'll atleast get a few good runs in. I was just starting to get back into the training groove and I don't want to lose it.

I found a sprint triathlon in Dubai, UAI, but it's December 14th and although I would love to go, I'm still not sure what will be happening with my passport/visa by that time. I have a feeling I won't have it back in hand by then....Also, my hope is to get home for Christmas or just after Christmas so all of my fundage is going in that direction. Still hoping to find a sprint tri perhaps by March? We will see.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Joy comes

The alarm goes off at 6 am and I'm well aware it's early. I fumble out of bed, change into running clothes, heat some water for coffee and open up my Bible.

Yesterday I was wrestling with random thoughts and feelings of discouragement, fear and even sorrow. Thoughts about my visa, the girls who have started to come around English club, Christmas and whether I will get to go home, my future and on and on. Not wanting to go to bed in this funk, I tried to chase down these unexplainable thoughts and feelings. Here's a quote that's been a good thing for me. "Our feelings and our experiences are not the sum total of truth. God's word is truth and we need to cling to that when what we can observe tells us otherwise." Then I opened to Psalm 34.

He frees us from all fears and those who look to Him for help are radiant with joy - that no shadow of shame will darken the face - and desperate prayers, oh yes. They are welcome because those who trust God won't lack one good thing!

The water is heated so I make a cup in the french press and drink it as I re-read Psalm 34 this morning. Great stuff to chew on. I get my running shoes on, lace up my house keys and grab the i-pod. I'm off for a good run.

It's 7:20 am at Hero's Square and other than a few tourists milling around, there's not a lot of activity. With leaves still falling and painting the roads with crushed orange, firey red and bright yellow leaves, I'm in awe of God's creation. He made all of this for me (and you)? Wow.

Songs I'm listening to as I run include "Shadowfeet" Brooke Fraser, "Speed of Sound" Coldplay, "No One" Alicia Keys, "Check for Us" Cross Movement, "Lead me to the cross" Hillsong United, "Signature of the Divine"Needtobreathe, "Yellow" Coldplay, "Put Your Records on" Corinne Bailey Rae, "My Hope" David Crowder, and "Keep Holding on" by Avril Lavigne.

I ran for about an hour....with a few times 1 minute stops to walk out the cramp in my neck and back. Excited to see what the future holds. I'm releasing my fears to Him. As I look to him minute by minute, I am radiant with joy. Joy comes in the morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

God loves ugly

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a weekend trip to Krakow. Among the highlights was an evening event that my friend Diana helped coordinate that was put on by the Polish Gospel Choir. Yes, Poles sing gospel and quite well, I might add. Besides being moved by Diana's solo where the woman sang with such soul, (she was off the chain.....whatever that means) I was most incredibly provoked by Arek's solo.

Arek is a quadriplegic. He has very limited use of his hands and absolutely no use of his feet. Maybe it was a combination of the visual and audial message that God used as He sang with an incredible voice. His solo came from Psalm 121 called MY HELP and after the choir and song leader sang this psalm gospel style, there is a reprise which Arek sang "my help, my help, my help, all of my help, cometh from the Lord." I was undone.

I can't imagine what it must be like to get up every day and need the help of others to do your basic and ordinary life functions. But this is the life of the quadriplegic. When I was in college my junior year, I was an RA and there was a girl named Susan in my dorm who God sovereignly placed in my life. Through our friendship, I was able to see what it's like to live as a quadriplegic and it is definately NOT easy. To make matters worse, my friend Susan was a quadriplegic because her mother didn't want her at birth. Can you imagine that Susan's mom failed at trying to self-abort Susan? Talk about painful knowledge of your past. I know that this is graphic, but that is the ugliness of sin.

Anyways, I believe there is so much value in the lives of Areks and Susans. They remind us unashamedly that God does not look at the outward appearances but He looks at the heart. Some people have it all together on the outside but inside they're just ugly. Then other people are shunned by society as misfits and ugly. Yet God takes these lives and He promotes, He loves and He enjoys them as His treasure!

Oh that we would be changed inside, that our view of people and things would go beyond the natural eye to see things from a heavenly perspective.

That night as tears streamed down my face I was reminded again that "God loves ugly", as Christa Black sings. "He doesn't see the way I see...God takes ugly and turns it into something that is beautiful....Apparently, I'm beautiful...Cause you love me...."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

2010 Triathlon World Championship Events Hosted In Budapest

I find it so ironic that the world championship events will be hosted here in Budapest in 2010. Althletes will compete through the heart of the city from what's been printed about the event and no doubt there will be training activities on Margaret Island. Budapest truly is an incredibly beautiful city - set to be a World Heritage Site as well.

Sometimes I can hardly believe I live here. And other times I quickly remember like the last few days as Hungarians celebrate the day of the dead. Needless to say, what an inspiration. I'd love to be around and see these events!

The Passions day of death


The Passion.
Every generation seeking His heart in a heartless world.

Watch. Pray. Stay here. Pain. Agony. God’s love. God’s calling. The tempter’s voice. Deceptions call to turn away. His destiny. An unseen burden carried. The world on his shoulders. Souls saved. My soul saved. Great expense. Another way? No, Your will be done. Evil’s question “Who is your father?” The snake sent to bite. The snake crushed. Death, where is your power? Betrayal for coins. No fear in His eyes. The kiss. Confusion. Fights. One pair of eyes in flaming fire. Healing a bloody ear. Will you have ears to hear? Not by the sword. Love alone conquers. Conquered and beaten. A man of strength and love. No angels rescue. A crown of thorns. No father’s intervention. Pain at the hands of man. Demons taunting. Judas remorse. It’s not a party. Prince’s death begins. Unlawful questions. Unfair treatment. A son’s childhood memories but now a man or more than a man? Questions revealing. “Are you the messiah, son of the living God?” Only one answer. “IAM.” Roaring crowds. Peter’s betrayal. Confusion and anger in the city. Beatings survived. Demons taunting Judas. Cursed to death over innocent life. Pilates questions. Jesus answers “My kingom is not of this world.” Pilates solution. More beatings. Herod mocks. Pilate’s wants to release Jesus. Barabus gets a new life instead. Jesus’ sustaining love. Road opens. Blood-stained and heavy cross. People taunting. Mary weeping. Disciples remembering. Life blood. Life words. Pondering it all. Will you carry my cross with me? Darkness covers. A hill above the city for all to see. Hands are pierced. Feet nailed too. Cross is lifted. Earth’s gift is His love. Dark clouds gather. Hopeless thief on the cross gets second chance. Lightning flashes. Left alone. Rocks split. Sword pierces. Graves open. Jesus dies.

All is still. Lifeless earth.

Heaven welcomes. Celebration. Good will towards mankind. Wonderful God. Counselor. Prince of Peace and peace on earth. Mighty God. Resurrection crowns Him. Words remembered. New life imparted. Words carried like a torch. Pain forgotten. Fires lit by the love in His eyes. A people set ablaze. Every generation seeking His heart in a heartless world. The Passion.

Hosanna (which is an expression of adoration, praise or joy!)
Hillsong United
I see the king of glory
Coming down the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes
I see his love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing,
“Hosanna in the highest”
I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
I see a new revival
Staring as we pray and seek
We're on our knees,
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what is yours
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Halloween Here Just "The Day of the Dead"

So as children and adults in the U.S eat candy corn and other delicious treats while running around in costumes, Eastern Europe won't be as delightfully interesting. Many Eastern European countries celebrate All Saints Day to honor dead ancestors. This official holiday creates time for the country to visit graveyards, attend family celebrations together and light candles in honor of the dead. In Hungary it's a national holiday so everything shuts down. Tonight I went grocery shopping but the lines were so long, I decided I really didn't need to eat tomorrow.

According to Eastern Europeans who are of the Catholic persuasion, this holiday is a time to pray for your dead relatives to make it to heaven. Basically, Catholics hope that their prayers will help their relatives make it out of purgatory (a place of holding between earth and heaven) and into heaven. There are many customs associated with All Souls Day and in Hungary the day is known as Halottak Napja, "the day of the dead." A common custom is to go to your relatives grave, bringing flowers. It's also a time to stay with family and invite orphans into their family, giving them food, clothes, and toys.

The metro, the streets, the sidewalks, the grocery store were all extremely busy tonight. It was interesting to watch people on the metro and the streets as I traveled to our last English Conversation club before the holiday. People in the city look even more rushed as they prepare for the long weekend with their families. I'm sure people enjoy having a long weekend, but I wonder how much all of this means to them. My Hungarian friend Nori is taking her grandparents to see their relatives graves a few hours from Budapest. They will spend the day there and stay the night with relatives, coming home on Friday. I find all of this very interesting! It's been wonderful people watching today.

Quick Tri Update

After two weeks of being "off" in tri-training -
first week - the Texas team here; extra commitments in the mornings and evenings so no time
second week - went to Krakow and was a chicken - didn't want to venture into Polish communities not having a map and not knowing what I was doing
- I am beginning to get back in the groove this past week and it's been great. I LOVE staying fit. I want to be the old woman in her 70s still taking water aerobics classes or something.

Anyways, my new friend Nona is an amazing resource of information and random tips for tri-training. I'm so glad I found her on a blog and emailed her. She's been amazing!

Today she really challenged me in swimming. We completed a 1/2 mile swim by doing the number of laps (give or take because of the size of the pool). We raced on a few laps, which was great fun and we tied. Granted, she is out of shape compared to her height in triathlon competition so it doesn't really say a lot for my ability at this moment in time, but I hope to follow her on the upswing of her recovery and get in on the benefits of all she's learned over the years.

We also biked it a bit this morning. I still need to get a bike and her husband is going to help me build it out.

So I have three goals at the moment:
1) continue in the groove of tri-training
2) learn Hungarian
3) follow up with all the students we met a few weeks ago and see some great things happen!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Peanut Butter, bananas and quotes

This morning I realized just how much I LOVE the taste of banana chunks smothered in peanut butter. YUM! The Texas team brought a container of my favorite brand - Jif Creamy. I'm truly diggin' it and diggin' in with bananas.

Here's a quote I've been ruminating on especially these last few weeks as I've been "feeling" a lot of different things.

"Our feelings and our experiences are not the sum total of truth.
God’s word is truth and we need to cling to that when what we can observe tells us otherwise."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Krakow Trip

Krakow is an interesting city. The city center is gorgeous. It's a smaller city center but so warm and inviting. I was so impressed and encouraged to see the Every Nation church completely run by national Poles yet started by an American couple, Jeff and Ana Bullock, who are now leading the Budapest team.

I stayed with my Polish friends Diana and Dominika (she's pictured here where we were waiting for trams). Dominika was the first girl who came to believe and trust Christ over eight years ago in Krakow. She's like the Hungarian version of Nori. Wow! It was powerful to hear about her life and see how God is using her to impact many, many other Polish women today. She is one fruitful woman!

One of the highlights of the trip came in the form of a Polish Gospel Choir. My friend Diana was one of the main organizers of this event. She sang a solo and sounded like a "sista". She also was an MC, interpreting from Polish to English. There were over 700 singers in the choir.

The best part of the choir performance was a song that Alek helped sing. He's pictured here if you look closely and as a quadriplegic, he sang a song about God being the strength of his life. Wow. I couldn't hold back the tears. It was powerful to hear him sing it because I know what he goes through just to do the things we easily take for granted. Everything from showering, dressing, brushing your teeth, have to be done with the help of others. So, to hear him sing the solo about God being the strength of his life, I was impacted!

I also had a great time with the Bullock Family. I truly appreciate their family and their input in my life. All around it was an amazing trip.

Show off!!!

My roommate, Anna, is a total show off. Yes, I'm jealous. The girl has only been in Hungary since August and she speaks more Hungarian than me.
I have been taking lessons since I arrived in August 2006. Yep. Pretty much that is just NOT right. Show off!!

She made up this song in Hungarian that I can't get out of my head. It's actually quite catchy and funny. But the funniest thing is that I like to sing it wrong and she corrects me!!! I can't believe it. What a show off!!

I'm laughing as I write this because the girl is crazy. She's sort of from Texas and Florida. That explains a lot. And she has these cowboy boots that she just cut up and is going to make them into a denim skirt. Crazy, creative, and a total show off! She makes me laugh like crazy! I'm so thankful that we are roommates right now......The girl is a show off!!

This week is Fall break for most high school and university students. Guess what my roommate is doing? She's going to live in a village with a family that our friend Peter knows so she can learn the language better and be surrounded by Hungarians. Show off!!! I'm just jealous because I wish I would have thought of the idea first. But she really has the determination to learn this language. It's impressive.

The funny thing is we have been joking because one day this past week when I was marveling at her decision to go to this unknown village she said in Hungarian, "One day YOU TOO can go to the village...." I laughed so hard because she said it with these funny eyes....It reminded me of the kool-aid guy in the states who was kind of crazy and killed himself with a bunch of other people using Kool-aid........My roommate could have said something like "One day Jen, you too can drink kool-aid."

She's killin' me. I don't know. I guess you have to be here to understand that I'm so proud of her, challenged by her.......and yeah. She's a show off!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life is short and then we die. So live well.

I've found myself a bit emotional this week. I've been thinking about how this life is really short and there's so very much we have to be thankful for every single day. This past week I have realized that on a few different accounts.

When I heard the news that Tennyson died, I was shocked. I wasn't very close to Tennyson but I did get to know him over 7 years ago when we lived in Los Angeles at the same time together for six months. Also, a friend of mine dated him for awhile but they just couldn't seem to work it out, partly because of his bi-polar. Now she is engaged to someone else. This got me thinking about God's sovereignty and how He knows everything and in some ways this was the mercy of God for my friend. It still sucks to think I won't see him again here. And so I've been a bit emotional about it.

My brother is fighting the "witch" fires in San Diego. Seems appropriate as this week is Halloween. I called him through Skype, but he is such an "untouchable" that I didn't get a bad report. I worry when I hear that there have been some firefighters injured. It's his 30th birthday coming up and I'm going to miss it. Looks like HE might miss it too....atleast his party.

Then I think about being here in Budapest. What an incredible time God has opened up for me. I love these Eastern Europeans and I can see how God's hand is at work to move them to himself. I met with Nori tonight as we are talking about building her foundations and wow. It's so exciting to see the hand of God on her life. I LOVE it.

I don't want to have any regrets. I'm trusting that God is going to make my life fruitful and full of life. I'm trusting that His promises are true. When He says that if you leave all to follow Him, He will give you 100 fold back of all you've left -- I'm trusting that this is true. When you truly stop and think about this life it is really really short --maybe 80 years. Then we die. But the question is how do we live? or how then shall we live?

I want to live well, laugh often and love much. This is my life motto.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Rocky Mountains....

I just arrived back from Krakow tonight with a variety of news on a myriad of topics. South Africa won the Rugby Cup. I could have predicted that. I don't know why...just had a feeling. The Red Sox are going to the World Series. I predicted that too. Although I will say that I did have to hold my breath and hope for the best over the weekend. Boston is going on to play Colorado.........Colorado. Why Colorado?

This brings me to the tragic news. A guy friend I knew from Colorado was found on Friday with a note on his body "I can't take it anymore." Tennyson had struggled with bi-polar all his life and had been on medication for it. He was tired of taking the medicine and so he stopped. Some of his friends said for about a week after he got off the medicine he seemed great but then it turned for the worst (which it always does when you're bi-polar).

I don't know how these things work. I would love to study the human body and how all these things work together. I really believe God has mercy on people with mental illness. Yet I'm still pondering this thing...talked to a friend in the states who knew him is still so very hard to see someone as bright and loving make a decision that ultimately affects so many other people around them.

For me I think the moral of the story both with Tennyson and Red Sox is this.....It doesn't matter how dark it may get. Just wait awhile. The sun will shine tomorrow! Things can change in an instant. Even when it's really's usually because dark clouds are hiding the sun.

But I do pray for Tennyson's family and friends, that God would hold onto them and lead them through this tough time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm gonna tri

This morning I met Nona for the first time. She's an American girl married to a Hungarian-Romanian and the "tri" expert I've been hoping to meet who is willing to take me aside and help me with everything.

The crazy thing is this Brooklyn girl was on her bike crossing the Brooklyn bridge last year and involved in a hit and run. It's a miracle she's alive. She's been recovering and wow. Can you believe that? Someone hit her on her bike and left her. Anyways, on her road back to triathlons, she's willing to help "little old me." I'm so glad about that!

Learned a few things today.

1. It will be possible for me to get a bike and not pay an absolute fortune right away. (the key is right away....) Apparently, there is just no way around "trickin'" out your bike as you prepare for the tri....but it's not a priority right now.

2. I've been hitting the 30-45 minute running mark. Apparently, Once you break through this you can just run and run and run....

I will believe that one when I do it!! ha ha.

But Nona also didn't like the running part as much as swimming and biking at first. She said that changed over time and running became her favorite. Interesting. We will see but for now, I just need to keep building a base of running.

3. I'm right where I need to be in training, with perhaps a few things to begin to adjust so that was encouraging.

4. There's a group of runners called the "hashers" who drink and run. No it's not hash and run...but they sound hilarious. It's kind of like adventure running where they mark out a path for you and you have to follow it. In between they have beer breaks. According to Nona, most of those who participate are grumpy Brits in their 40's. I find that hilarious. They end with pizza and more beer after their run. Beer and running. What a funny combination. Apparently, the hashers aren't just in Europe either.

Well, back to training. Not sure what I will do for training while in Krakow. Probably a few neighborhood runs......I'm gonna try to get a few runs in.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A great week (but no tri-training)

So here are some pictures from this weeks events...The Texas team arrived last Sunday so my body hasn't felt the rigors of exercise since Sunday. Sun up to sun down we've been running around Budapest but it's been great. There have been lots of new relationships formed with Hungarians and other internationals in the city.

I have to say that the team from Texas were like a shot in the arm, reminding us that this next year in Budapest is going to be amazing.

Of course the whole idea of getting something free on campus was a big hit and students were willing to hang around for a few minutes to talk with "native" english speakers - especially Texans!

There were a few new girls who came from campus to Thursday nights regular conversation club and really seemed to enjoy themselves!....and one of the best questions asked ...."what's more important money or love and why..." Lots of great insights and thoughts as Dora said, "what's the point in having a ton of money if you have no one to share it with? Money won't make you happy." So true. Thanks for your prayers for all the students we met on campus and in the high school. Seeds were sown. It's going to be great.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thank you, men.

I'm writing this to thank all the men in my life whom I admire and cherish for truly walking in your manhood. A four-pillared man. No, not a monster; a modern day superhero.
a man of character and vision – a king.
a man of strength and power – a warrior poet.
a man of faith and wisdom – a mentor.
a man of heart and love – a friend.

Thank you for being an example of a real man. Thank you for being today's William Wallace, fighting for the honor of women and children through your thoughts, words and actions. It seems to me that shouldering the burden of manliness in this generation is a tough mandate. Choosing to be different and walk in the way of a William Wallace is not a path that gets much applaud these days. So I want to applaud you.

Thank you for broadening your shoulders—and walking in the discipline of heart something unseen but known in your thought life, and allowing your actions to reflect genuine manliness – everything from thinking rightly about women, opening doors, offering to carry things, listening with joy to our stories and being a protector of feminine mystique and dignity.

Barlow Girl's "Guy Song"recently reminded me that this world has tried to discourage and distract you. Yet it's so powerfully attractive and admirable when you live with a bigger purpose than just what teyes can see in the natural. There's something so admirable about a man who does not conform his lifestyle to this world which devalues things of faith and real life. Every time you embrace a way of life that's counter-cultural, by what you choose to do and not to do, you are speaking volumes to so many watching eyes. You are to be admired, valued, and highly esteemed because you choose to look straight ahead and meditate on healthy things. Your life cannot be equaled to the man who just indulges his flesh. You far surpass this man on every level!

I want to applaud you. You mean so much to me! This kind of man walks with confidence to protect and provide a place for women to flourish in feminine beauty. Because you're willing to be a warrior and fight for a woman's honor and beauty, you are a king, a warrior poet. You don't indulge in porn or empty relationships to make yourself feel like a man. You choose to say no to these things and yes to real relationships, building with women as individuals and seeing them as image bearers – God's creation reflecting something of God's purpose and character - God's daughters. You guard and cultivate this in the women around you because you are God's son.

Thank you men. To those of you who are fathers and husbands, thank you for loving your wives and children with a supernatural love and choosing to be a king, a warrior poet, a mentor and a friend to your wife and children as well as the men and women around you. To those of you who are my single brothers, thank you for honoring women by not taking advantage of their emotions or their physical bodies for your pleasure. Instead you have chosen the harder way, seeing women as hand-crafted for a unique purpose, who need to be prized and treasured, our honor kept intact. You are a man of character, vision, strength, power, faith, wisdom, heart and love. To all the men in my life! Like the "Guy Song" lyrics sing….."This world distracts you, lies to you and hopes to keep you from your call….don't be fooled….you can stand up to it all…..this is your day! Don't let them take it away…."Thank you for fighting the good fight, taking the narrow way and clinging to God's promises which keep you from falling. I admire you, I respect you and I want to honor you today. Thanks for being His four-pillared man.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Think Jack Sparrow and Pirates of the Caribbean. This story has a point.

I recently heard the story of Barry Clifford a 12-year old boy who was intrigued by his uncle’s stories of pirates treasure off the coast of Cape Cod. As Barry grew older he worked as a lifeguard on Cape Cod and became an avid scuba diver on weekends, searching for this “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Barry found his first historic shipwreck in 1976 but in 1984, Barry and a team of experienced divers found the infamous Whydah (WID-uh; a slave ship that was pirated by “Black Sam”, a former British sailor turned pirate) off the coast of Cape Cod.

Over 100,000 objects from Whydah were found including gold bars, silver coins, rare jewelry from Africa, ivory and jewelry that Black Sam and his crew stole from more than 50 other ships. The pirates treasures dropped to the ocean’s bottom when a storm in 1717 broke the ship in half and took it down. I’m sure this wasn’t the way these pirates hoped their treasure would be stored…..for over two centuries. I wonder if a Jack Sparrow type threatened to cut someone’s heart out if they didn’t help him find his wanted treasures.

Doesn’t that sound like the making of a great Hollywood movie?
I’d go see that one for sure!

Over 2000 years ago, someone else was interested in storing up treasure. He said wherever your treasure is your going to find your heart…So eat your heart out Jack Sparrow….or cut it out….but if your treasure is sunk at the bottom of Cape Cod you’re not going to find it….or yourself……. for atleast a few centuries.

It was Jesus who said in Matthew 6:20-22
… store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If your treasure is in booty (in and out of shallow relationships), your education, your abilities, having a good time, finding reprieve in the bottle or some other form of mental alteration….your life treasure is sinking to the bottom of the ocean even as we speak.

Live for something greater than yourself. Find your treasure in something that can’t sink to the bottom of your life when it’s over. There isn’t much that lasts beyond this world but there’s one thing that is building a treasure chest in heaven and that’s a very real relationship with the living God.

This relationship, when understood correctly, is an absolute treasure. He changes your perspective and outlook on everything. But get ready! He moves into your house and re-arranges the furniture. I’m not talking about Jack Sparrow because unlike Jack, this man doesn’t rip anything off from you, pirate style. No, he rebuilds broken hearts. He gives you a new life. He’s worth living for because he is that great treasure that doesn’t fade away. He is one of a kind, one in a million and truly worth your entire life.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A thousand other things....

I have to get up in 7 hours to help host a team of Texans who are here this week. I'm thinking about the week and all I have to do (this is how my brain works) from Hungarian lessons, staff meetings, outreach events, English club, English conversation groups, Bible Study; not to mention working out and spending time with the team in social avenues.

Fortunately, I don't have to ride the pink tourist bus with the team tomorrow. Been there, done that and, well, Hungarian lessons got in the way this time! *awe shux, darn*

Then I'm struck by the thought....yes, I know I will read a little in the morning for inspiration, that good and righteous book, and feel a bit closer to the one I'm living my life for.....but what about actually spending good, serious, long time with Him? Hearing His thoughts? Allowing His heartbeat to be heard through my veins? Wow. Hmmm. What about that?

A thousand other things.......... are calling and I'm just now thinking about a time to really be with Him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Joyful Obedience

Recently, a good friend was telling me about a process she has been going through where she has been asked to lay down a dream that's been in her heart for years. Over the years, this dream has ministered to others and she has seen great things come of it. But, in this season, she realizes she has to give up her management and development of this dream on a larger scheme in order to focus on what God has for her now. Yet this dream is of something that stirs her heart so deeply.

My immediate thought was the story of a little girl holding crushed dandelions in her hand, reluctantly making an exchange with God. Have you heard this story?

I don't remember all the details, but basically this little girl is asked to give her dad what's in her hand. She doesn't want to let go because they are some dandelions she hand-picked. Yet, by this point they are crushed because she's holding onto them so tightly. She finally, reluctantly decides to give them back to her daddy when he gives her, from behind his back, a colorful array of beautiful flowers for her enjoyment.

In a similar way, I have been meditating on what it means to joyfully obey all of God's commands and thoughts towards me. Sometimes I do a better job than at other times. Many times, like those crushed dandelions I hold tightly to what I think will bring me the greatest joy. Isn't this beautiful, though? Shouldn't I hold on? And he says, let go and let me. This can be very hard to do.

So what does it mean to joyfully obey? I guess it means, in a way, throwing all your concerns, your thoughts back on Him so that you can remain joyful - lighthearted, radiant, cheerful, in good spirits. And then it means complying with the wishes, orders and authority of the one asking and doing it without attitude.

Last night at Bible Study we were talking about SIN being "I" at the center. When you are at the center of your life, this is the best description of sin. But when you open the door and let God in, when you give him the keys to unlock every basement, attic, and hidden cellar and let Him re-arrange the furniture and decorate your house, doing it with you, you are beginning to realize what it means to joyfully obey.

OK, I have so far to go on this. But thank God life is a process and a journey and we are in it for the long-haul like a long distance runner!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Egy, Ketto, Harom, Negy

Oftentimes there are very funny things that happen when you live in a country that doesn't speak your language. After awhile, it just becomes par for the course.

But I laughed out loud, I think tonight when I was leaving the little gym I found just down the street from my flat and the step aerobics teacher was yelling out 'EGY KETTO HAROM NEGY....ONE MORE! ONE MORE!! EGY KETTO HAROM NEGY ONE MORE!!"

1,2,3,4 ONE MORE!!

My roommate thinks that maybe the instructor got it off an old Richard Simmons video the "one more" part. She might be right.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Genius Brother.

OK, even though I've been living in Eastern Europe for a year, I still can't figure out the afternoon time schedule unless it's 13:00 hour...That's my favorite one because it's one hour after 12 noon. But let's say I read something or we print an invitation and it says Thursday in Hungarian and then 18:00. I end up counting from 13:00 hour (usually on my fingers) because I know this one so well - - 1 pm - - to get the time of the event.... 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800.....Ok...6pm. Make sense?

Well, last night while talking with my brother on the phone he said, "Jen..just minus 2 from whatever number you have, look at the number on the right and that's the time."

So for example, if the hour is 23:00 - 2 it is 11 pm at night. Whoa!!! So great. You'd think I hit the lottery.

My Genius brother who is just now finishing the paint job we started back in August. He's been out fighting fires but using military time every day so he's quite familiar with counting two hours back to find his time......

My genius brother. And now I don't have to waste countless seconds trying to figure out the time here in Hungary....Thank you Greg....It was mental torment, really!


Recently I was talking to my best friend about my future. I was asking Him some very specific things and wanting Him to give me very specific answers as to what He thought about it all. Instead, He spoke generally but His encouragement couldn't have been more timely. It was all about being secure and confident, no matter what it looks like in the I digress but I'll come back to that thought.

Being in Eastern Europe there are specific insecurities that come up being a woman. Ladies dress to the hilt just to go to the post office. I mean, they are decked out, beautiful, skinny.....some guys might say "they're hot!" I'm not insecure around other women but there's this weird thing that happens where the men are checking every girl out and you feel those roving eyes. It's kind of creepy.

A funny thing happens on the trams and metros too. Because I'm a people watcher, it bothers me so much as I watch it over and over again, but I must say I'm absolutely intrigued as to what must be going on in the hearts and minds of the people.

For example, a guy and a girl will be on the tram or metro displaying their love for one another by how close they stand and the lip service they give each other, quite literally. Then, another girl will come on the tram and if the guy looks at her, the girl in his arms somehow feels she has to try harder to keep her man's attention. Again, it's weird. How sad. How twisted. No doubt these girls feel insecure.

I want to know that I am the only woman my husband is going to look at. Of course, most of these couples are in and out of relationships just as quick as....well, I won't go there, but I think we have to be careful to guard our eyes and I've never been more sensitive to that than being here in Eastern Europe.

My dad was a really good example for us girls, setting the standard. I remember many times my mom saying "I've never been jealous of your father because I know he's only looking at me." No extra winks, nods, or flirtatious stuff going on with ladies he was around, which is a good thing because He was married to my mom! I like that. I want that.

So it brings me to this thing of security. This best friend reminded me that my future is secure.....and what I will do in my life is secure. I don't need to worry, fear, or feel threatened.

Something that is secure is free from danger or threat; it's fixed, fastened so as not to give way, become loose, or be lost; it is certain to remain or continue safe and unharmed; contains a feeling of safety, stability, and freedom from fear and anxiety.

I rest in that. I rest in the knowledge that no matter what it looks like, my future is held in my best friends hands. Because besides being my best friend, He created the world, holding it in His hands, spinning galaxies and keeping oceans tide at bay. I think He can handle my future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Brooke Fraser - Interview

Been inspired by her recently....she sings with Hillsong but came out with her own CD Albertine as well...

and here's the rest of her interview.

Music that brings you to Him

There are times when the lyrics to a song completely captures the essence of your heart at that moment. This past Saturday I went to the Hillsong United concert in Budapest and worked the product table. At one point during the concert, the table was really dead and there were a few girls watching the products, so I went inside....just in time to hear Brooke Fraser singing "Lead me to the cross."

The lyrics alone are enough to bring you to your knees. It's quite devotional and inspirational.....with the epiphany line....lead me to the your heart....Hmmm. His heart....More of Him, so much less of me.

Apparently this CD has been out since the beginning of the year so for all of you who have heard this song over and over again, bear with me. This was the first time I heard it. And it's led me on a journey to find more of her music. Apparently, she has a few CD's released on Itunes Australia. My mind, my heart and all of who I am have been encouraged and inspired by the lyrics of Brooke.

Life and death are in the power of words. Lyric words are my favorite kind. Thank God for a melody, a harmony and all the other notes in between mixed with words that speak life. I love it. I put a few of her videos on this site. Enjoy.

this first one is off the Hillsong United, "All of the Above" CD.

these next two are from her CD only available, I guess in Australia called "Albertine". Both good....But the second one is powerful to me...a reminder that when God expands our world, we have a responsibility to be His voice...