Saturday, December 27, 2008

He's Always On Time



Walking the streets of Budapest recently, I began to marvel at the really cool street clocks as pictured here. These clocks are atleast 100 years old and brought an element of modernization when placed on the streets of Budapest at the time. Today, I captured their look because they look like something out of antiquity.

As we stand on the brink of a new year with new possibilities, what will be written in this next chapter? I came across this remarkably simple but encouraging quote and was reminded that there are times and seasons for everything.

Take courage that God holds your life in His hands. And although not everything is clear today for your future, these 70 plus years, if blessed with that long, belong to Him. He is in control of our days. He gives us breath to breathe. So shouldn't we trust Him with all our tomorrows? I think so. Our times are in His hands.

"The time came for the baby to be born." Luke 2:6 NIV

Jon Walker writes:
"We manage, waste, spend and save time. We wish it would come...we wish it would pass..we see it fly and we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars, creating the illusion that somehow we control it. God controls time.... Do you think He was surprised that 'while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born'? We're surprised by unexpected developments...God's never surprised, even by the most disastrous turn of events."

How would your faith be, if you knew God wasn't surprised by your circumstances and is working towards a holy and healthy conclusion?

George Mueller once waited on the dock for a special chair to be delivered because he had a bad back and needed it for his ocean voyage. When departure time came and it still hadn't arrived his friends offered to buy him one, but Mueller said,
'Either God will provide...or...give me grace to do without.'

Then, just like a Hollywood ending...the chair arrived...right on time!

How would you act, think, and live differently if you were absolutely certain God was at the end of your deadline...even if there were only seconds left?

The Bible says, 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8 NLT).

Time doesn't diminish His love, or His power to work within your life.

He was there in the past; He's here now, and He will be there in your future. A thousand years are like a few hours to Him.

He's interested in bringing you into eternity, not just getting you through until the weekend." When you see it like that, it changes the big picture, doesn't it?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

While In Reno today....


ha ha ha. Well, I actually did go inside the store. So, technically, I was in Reno today - a Hungarian shoe store. I'm missing the PEOPLE aka MY FAMILY I love so much in Reno, so I thought I'd take a picture :D

Here's me in Reno. :D Boo hoo hoo.

Merry Christmas ya'll.

Jen

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seeing Red in Romania



I thought you might get a kick out of this news.

Bucharest (not Budapest) set a Guinness record, representing for the Holiday season. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7794716.stm

I was in Bucharest in October and I'm excited that this nation organized this event. There was so much poverty it was really tough to be there and see it. The darkness of Nicolae Ceau┼čescu's rule and reign over that country until he was murdered by the people is seen in the high level of poverty surrounding the "Palace of Parlaiment", the 2nd largest building in the world next to the Pentagon. Anyways, what a great way to hand out presents to people and set a record. Kind of fun for them.


Here in Budapest I've seen Santa in a VW and a Hummer. Both were pimp my ride nice. In a time of economic decline that's hitting the auto industry, it seems Santa upgraded his sleigh for a sleeker ride in Budapest.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rest is the best


All day long I've been lounging around my house resting without much of a care in the world. I made an incredible thing of Texas chili and can't stop chomping on it. I pulled out some books I have been wanting to finish, one of which is called "The Scottish Chiefs" by Jane Porter. Although it's a novel, it has been said that she was a true historian of this time period in Scottish history and that this book is one of the more accurate. One biography on her life notes that for this book "She took the cold facts of history and warmed them with the flame of her genius to a warm, throbbing story describing the intimate lives of her characters."

The primary character in the book is Sir William Wallace. Books have been written on his life and many tales have been passed down about him as well. Of course there's the famous "Braveheart" movie (which has some inaccuracies) that live on to tell the story of a noble Scot who rescued Scotland from the hands of England. I'm enjoying the read and of course all of the wonderful honor and nobility that these men portrayed in rescuing women, defending a country and living out great adventures for a nation that had been pillaged and raped of its destiny. Something in my soul cries out to live in more honorable times or atleast among honorable men and women that made up these hard times in the late 1200's. Believe me. I'm not saying I'd like to go back to those rough times. I much prefer the comfort of internet access in my living room and grocery stores down the street but hopefully you get the picture that it's nobility I'm after, a sense of honor and duty when living life.

Call me idealistic but I do believe in the nobility and honor of men and women. Many things have been lost along the way and robbed if you will of our identity and our capacity to live this way. That doesn't mean it isn't true and real and worth cultivating. I'm on a bit of a soap box for this maybe because I'm all caught up in the moment reading this delicious book but honestly I'm quite tired of the stuff that Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City is made of. Where's the fun in that? Such base living. There's got to be more.

And these are the thoughts on a restful day....Resting and reading is the best.

Well, here's to living and living well, laughing often and loving much.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sifting through stuff and other random thoughts

As I look ahead to some exciting changes for 2009, I sit here in Budapest looking at all the "things" I've collected that will no doubt be a part of the New Year clean out sweep for me. I'm excited to give away a lot of things that I really hold no attachment to anyways and downsize so that perhaps everything I own can fit into three suitcases when I travel back to the US in February. Is it possible? Well, I tell myself I've become a minimalist but we'll have to see how this goes. I'm hopeful though. Truly hopeful.

I'm learning something about myself. I like flexibility in life. I like being open to new things. Although I hold many traditional values, I'm not a traditionalist. I enjoy the surprise of the unknown, on most good days.

When it comes to this workout plan, I like being able to mix up the workouts and don't get too caught up if I'm not able to get everything done for the day that's on my workout list. I can always scratch it for that day and add it to another day. I'm talking about a training plan which includes 30 minute bike rides here and there and 4 and 5 mile runs. I'm trying to be ready for a 1/2 marathon in March and a Sprint Tri in April.

This holiday season is usually a bit reflective for me. I enjoy looking back over the past year and thinking about things. I enjoy praying and looking to God for his encouragement about the future and I enjoy living in the moment, realizing this is life. And I am fully living it and enjoying it!

Government bailouts the same as socialism?

I haven't put an incredible amount of thought into this, but I'd like to consider how government bailouts on a federal level are basically another term for socialism. In a free market society where things either sink or swim on their own, you have to decide the levels of supply and demand and provide goods and services that people are willing to either save up their money to purchase at a later time, or spend their money in that moment to buy. The point is, people's wants and needs in a relatively afforded society give them the ability to manage their money and be responsible for what they want to purchase or not purchase and what they can pay for. They're not going to get in over their heads.

Unfortunately, corporate America has begun a spiraling process since the 1970's of thinking bigger, spending bigger, and producing bigger than what can really be afforded. Some things in history are interesting and understandable perhaps. Take for instance the bailouts of our national railway in the 70's. Airlines were just beginning to really take off and business nearly collapsed for supply and demand. However, national railways are somewhat of a connecting point for the nation and so the government chose to bail out the railway But when you get to the place where you're bailing out the car industry just to save jobs when there isn't a demand for cars, what's happening? This is beginning to look a lot like socialism. Not sure I like it or agree.

http://www.thetakeaway.org/stories/2008/sep/17/the-long-history-of-federal-and-corporate-bailouts/

Monday, December 15, 2008




Lara (in the middle) recently moved back to the United States from Lithuania. She's the first to touch down. Lara and I have been friends for years and were once roommates in Los Angeles. She was living and working in Lithuania for a Christian church and ministry there and she finished her time last week.

Anna (on the left) is leaving tomorrow morning and I'm sure going to miss her. We were also roommates here in Hungary and we've had some incredible memories. It's so awesome to have someone who can share with you the memories you've had in a foreign land. I will miss her tomorrow. I will miss the laughter, the tears, the hilarious. She leaves at 3 am in the morning and my last act of friendship this side of the continent is to help her get out the door and to the airport with all her crap. Someday that will be me and I hope someone has mercy on me and helps me get my stuff to the airport too. Oh yeah, I am a minimalist and have become even better at this over the years. (Yeah, who am I kidding!)

I just have to say something about friendship. There's nothing like genuine, authentic friends who you can live with and encourage and have fun together and also follow Christ together!

Take care.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

beautiful Budapest


As things are winding down on campus and in the high schools for Christmas break, I've had a little time to do some things this past week. I've really enjoyed spending time with my friend Anna who is staying with me for her last week in Budapest. I'm so glad we became friends and were roommates for six months. She wanted to do a few things before moving back to Texas on Tuesday. One of my absolute favorite nights was earlier in the week when we went to the Christmas market downtown, got a glass of hot wine, which is a traditional Christmas wine with cinnamon and cloves, and then walked down by the Danube River. We took this picture while sitting by the Chain Bridge. She will be one person who will always understand the best and worst of Budapest and we'll be able to understand this experience, the people, the culture, the language when we move on from this place.

Anyways, this is the most famous bridge in Budapest. We've had some incredible times of laughter and nostalgia while walking the city. I will always think that Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Garlic dip addictions


I can't explain to you the absolute and complete transformation that I've had in my attitude towards garlic. I am a mincing queen really. It doesn't matter what time of the day, I will eat almost any vegetable with this incredible garlic concoction that my friend Anna introduced me to. I absolutely LOVE it and I'm absolutely addicted.

Try it. See if you like it. Here's what you do.

Get a bowl and mince or chop into little pieces 3 cloves of garlic or more if you'd like.

Add olive oil - lots of it

Put 3 or 4 shakes of salt and 3 or 4 shakes of pepper

Wash some fresh broccoli or cauliflower or zucchini (or almost any veggie for that matter...It's great with tomatoes too.)

Happy dipping!! Make sure you get the chunks of garlic in each bite for the full affect.

All I have to say is that this is probably not the best way to get a boyfriend, but man is it ever delish!! :D

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December's cold in Budapest


It's been really cold in Budapest the last few days. Every time I get out and run or bike I'm absolutely and ridiculously freezing. I don't like the cold weather at all and I'm trying to find a face mask that I can wear to keep my cheeks from freezing off. It's actually really funny but I want to stay on track with training and if this cold weather continues like this, I don't see how I can do it without a face mask.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

is it really December?

I keep pinching myself when I realize it's December 5th. The colder weather is an indication for sure but I can hardly believe it. My favorite part about Budapest at Christmas are the lights that line Andrassy utca and the quaint, old Christmas market downtown. I also need to make my way over to the Danube and see the lights of the city that way because it's always beautiful around this time. I will have to take some pictures and post them very soon. Anna is coming to stay with me for her last week in Budapest and we are going to try and do all her favorite things before she moves back to the motherland.

Other than that, I'd rather be spending my nights and weekends with family.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finding strength in His shadow

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

"If you say, 'the Lord is my refuge' and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.......Because they love me,' says the Lord, 'I will protect them for they acknowledge my name." Psalm 91: 9,14

You can say He is your refuge but you must make Him your dwelling.

What does that look like? How do you do that?

Dwelling - Not only is a dwelling the place you live or dwell, but when you dwell upon something - you think, speak, write at lenght about it. You linger in your thoughts on whatever it is you're dwelling upon.

What are you dwelling on these days?

My mind needs renewal and I find strength in His dwelling place.

A Noble Man

In an effort to understand the opposite sex and to continue trusting God for a noble man, I came across this article that really encouraged me. All of us have our stories and I have mine too. In the end, I'm determined that the noble man exists and will pursue. It's only right and biblical. Unfortunately today I don't think men or women are being schooled in Biblical truths of pursuit. Instead most of what I see going on in the church is either entirely non-existent or looks like a dumbed down version of Sex in the City. What's happening? Well, call me naive or blindly hopeful, but I am trusting God to instill within the men of this generation a desire for nobility, to be men of intention, to stand out from the crowd and pursue.

The Noble Man by Carolyn McCulley, Author & Contributing Writer
Once when I was praying about a man I liked, the Lord
brought to mind the Scripture address of Isaiah 32:8. I
looked it up eagerly, and read: "But the noble man makes
noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands" (NIV). I had no
idea how to apply this Scripture to my prayers, so I waited
and watched. Over the course of time, I came to see that
this man was not being purposeful in our friendship, that
noble plans were not being made and the deeds I observed
were careless, not intentional. However, as I later studied
this passage, I saw several ways to evaluate whether a man
would be commended by the Lord as a noble man. This verse
concludes a passage about the kingdom of righteousness that
reads:
"See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will
rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the
wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in
the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and
the ears of those who hear will listen. The mind of the rash
will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be
fluent and clear. No longer will the fool be called noble
nor the scoundrel be highly respected. For the fool speaks
folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness
and spreads error concerning the LORD; the hungry he leaves
empty and from the thirsty he withholds water. The
scoundrel's methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to
destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy
is just. But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble
deeds he stands." (Isaiah 32:1-8 NIV)
I realize this is a prophetic passage about the Messiah, and
not anyone's husband. But because here in Scripture we find
the characteristics of a noble, godly man contrasted with
those of a scoundrel, this is a useful passage for women to
study to understand what God calls godly.

A noble man (The scoundrel)
Is a shelter from the wind (Speaks folly)
Is a refuge from the storm (Mind is busy with evil)
Is streams of water in the desert (Practices ungodliness)
The shadow of a great rock (Spreads error concerning the Lord)
in a thirsty land (Makes up evil schemes)
Makes noble plans (Does nothing for the hungry, thirsty)
Does noble deeds
A noble man is a hiding place from the rough elements of
life, a man who offers protection and shelter. He does not
leave you exposed - either to ridicule or to harm. He is
refreshment in a dry place, bringing much encouragement. He
flows with streams of living water because he is a man of
the Word. He is shade in weariness - reflecting the strength
of the Rock, Christ. When a man is making noble plans toward
you, he wants to offer you covering. He will offer to serve
you, help carry your burdens, and pour the Word into your
dry soul. His deeds will be noble, not common. He will show
evidences of cherishing you, protecting your boundaries and
standards. He won't touch you like a common object, and he
will exert himself to care for you and to notice your needs.
Most importantly, a noble man is a submitted man himself. He
serves his King wholeheartedly and makes himself accountable
to other men. In my opinion, this should be one of the first
characteristics we look for in any man who pursues us. In
the happiest marriages I've seen, the husbands have other
men in their lives who observe them, offer correction, and
ask them how they are doing serving their wives and
children. Without that community of accountability and
authority, a couple has no one outside themselves to appeal
to for help in unresolved conflict. Author and pastor Andrew
Farmer writes:
"A woman should evaluate a man's respect for authority. In
our society, the godly man is most distinct from the worldly
man in the way he has put away prideful independence and
pursued humble submissiveness. A man who is independent in
his faith and does not seek the counsel and oversight of
pastors and other mature men, will be a failure as a leader
(and therefore as a husband) as defined by Scripture. See
the story of Abigail and Nabal for a sad example of an
arrogant man not worthy of his virtuous wife (1 Samuel 25)."

The Intentional Man
If you are fortunate, you know a few tested, noble men. What
remains is whether or not they are being intentional toward
you. The "problem" with godly men is that they are so
markedly different - gentlemanly, kind, attentive - from
most men in our culture that it's hard not to receive it
personally. I see that over and over again in my church as
new women join. Inevitably, one of the guys will offer to
walk a woman to her car after a meeting. These women usually
have one of two reactions. Either they will refuse the offer
because they think the guy is interested, or they will light
up like Times Square because they think he is interested.
What they don't know is that there is a third option: he's
not interested, he's just extending gentlemanly care.
Because they don't know the culture, it's easy to be
confused.
The point is, an intentional man makes his purposes known.
He tells you what he's doing, and where he's leading. He is
clear about where he wants the relationship to go. When he's
not clear, when he's not saying anything, when he's enjoying
the friendship but not moving forward - he's not being
intentional. Period. You don't see noble deeds because he's
not making those noble plans. You may have the greatest
friendship in the world, but he's just hanging out in it. In
fact, one man called this half-hearted testing of the water
"the buddy approach."
I know how tempting it is to hang out in these undefined
friendships, where the best you can get is a blurry,
part-time boyfriend. At least some attention is better than
none, right? Nope, sorry, I'm no longer convinced of that.
For one, I find it challenging to guard my heart and keep my
peace before God in these "hopeful friendships." I'm always
in danger of closing my fist-of-demand over the friendship,
instead of leaving this friendship in open hands before the
Lord. Second, it tempts the men to passivity, in my humble
observation. It provides them with the out of "Oh, maybe you
misunderstood me, we're just friends." If we women would be
better about guarding the amount of time and attention
invested in these close friendships, we might see our
reserve rewarded with pursuit instead of passivity. After
all, we don't want to manipulate the situation and then live
under one of the three things the Bible says makes the earth
tremble: "an unloved woman when she gets a husband"
(Proverbs 30:23).
When is a man interested? When he says so, and his actions
back up his words. Anything less is at best merely friendly,
and possibly even uncertain or inconsiderate. If he's a
noble man who's made noble plans, one of his noble deeds is
letting you know about it!
(A shout out to the guys still reading this column. See? It
really does come down to those three little words: Talk. To.
Her. I also hope you are not discouraged by the points
above. It's worth stating again: Perfection is not the
standard. We only want to see you taking biblical standards
seriously and attempting to apply them in your lives. I
often receive letters from guys saying there's not much
material out there for cultivating godliness as a single
man. Yes, it does seem that most materials are for single
women. Though I do not presume to fill that void - it's
better that you are equipped and discipled by other godly
men - I do hope that by eavesdropping here you've derived
some benefit and have some points to discuss with the guys.
We women are praying for you!)