Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Holidays just aren't the same when you become an adult. I woke up today and it seemed like any other normal day, but then I realized that it's actually Halloween. The fact that it took me time to realize it was a holiday was the first sign to me that I am officially an adult. When I was a kid I loved Halloween with all of the candy, pumpkin carving, dressing up in a costume and trick-or-treating. It was so much fun to see how much candy I ended up getting. Oh and what fun it was to become someone or something else for a night! I'm looking forward to the day when James and I have kids so that holidays will acquire the same old fun and kid like excitement again. We'll have little ones to celebrate with...I guaranteed our kids won't let us "realize" it's a holiday.

I remember some of the characters/things I dressed up as for costumes throughout my childhood. Here they are...enjoy!

1. My Little Pony (I had one of those plastic suits that my parents got me from Rite Aid and it fell apart in my kindergarten class so my teacher made me wear a makeshift costume out of paper bags.)
2. MAC Machine (Yes that's right. A "Money Access Center" parents made it out of a box that I put over my head. 5th grade.)
3. Blonde Joke Book (I pasted sheets of paper with blonde jokes written on them to a box and wore the box. Yes that's right. I wore the box with blonde jokes on them...don't ask)
4. Union City Cheerleader (I remember going to our church for a gathering of parents that would line the wall and hand out candy as all of us kids went by and went "trick or treating". The Christian version of Halloween. Anyways...I was a little cheerleader.)
5. Union City Homecoming Queen (My senior year I was homecoming queen for my high school. That year I dressed up as a terrible looking homecoming queen and went trick or treating with Chewy. Classy I'm sure.)
6. Eastern University Soccer Player (My junior year of college I was a EU soccer player. Boring.)
7. Goth Girl (My sophomore year in college Scott Craig and I dressed up as goth people. That was the night I was introduced to Chai Tea at the Gryphon changing.)

8. Bear (When I was in elementary school I was a big bear. I loved that mom made it for me. Probably my favorite.)

Ok I'll spare all of you, my faithful readers, with more details. I hope you all enjoy this holiday however you decide to celebrate! Trick-or Treat!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exodus 14- Parting the Red Sea Revisited...

I love reading the Old Testament. The stories in it are amazing evidence of the power of the Lord; His strength and His faithfulness. My favorite old testament story is when Moses leads the Israelites through the Red Sea.
The story starts with the Israelites camping by the Red Sea because God instructed Moses to take them there as part of their exodus out of Egypt. After their exit from Egypt, it is said that Pharaoh's heart was harden
ed and he regrets letting the Israelites  go. He gathers all of his army together and they begin pursuing the Israelites, because they know they're on their own, a great opportunity to attack them and bring them back to Egypt. So the Egyptians begin their pursuit of the Israelites out in the wilderness (Ex. 14:3). From here there are 3 main ideas that jumped out at me.
1. GLORY- I love how God uses His enemies to glorify Himself. As I was reading, I realized that I limit God and put Him in a box that says only Christians truly glorify the Lord, but this is not true. In Exodus 14 when the Egyptians are pursuing the Israelites God is speaking to Moses and He says, "I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord" (Ex. 14:4). When I read this it seemed totally new to me. The concept that the Lord actually does work all things out for His glory
 really hit my heart. I believe it's also significant that the Lord mentions this 3 times within Exodus 14 (Ex. 14:4, 17,18). 
2. FAITHFULNESS- Not only does God use His enemies to bring Himself glory, but his faithfulness is demonstrated in this story numerous times. First, while the Israelites are camped by the sea they see the Egyptians coming toward them. In the midst of their fear, they cry out to the Lord and He sets the angel of the Lord that was before them, behind them. And He also moves the cloud by day/pillar of fire by night behind them, so there's a barrier between the Israelites and the Egyptians (Ex. 14:19-20). They were totally protected. 
In the midst of this, God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. And the sea begins to part. *Interesting note:  I always thought of this part of the story as Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments where he holds his staff in the air and the Red Sea magically parts instantly. According to Exodus 14:21 an east wind comes and the sea parts throughout the night, while the Israelites are protected by the angel and cloud. 
Once the sea is parted, the Israelites cross on dry land with a wall of water on each side of them (Ex. 14:22). The Egyptians come after them and the Lord causes their chariot wheels to swerve and their driving to become difficult in the midst of the path through the sea. He then commands Moses to hold out his hand to the sea and the waters crash down upon the Egyptians, destroying the entire army and saving the Israelites. He is so faithful to His people!! In the midst of the Israelites' fear, the Lord provides an impossible way out and completely saves them. How often does that happen in our own lives and yet we still struggle to believe He is faithful?
3. POWER- God can do anything He wants. He uses his enemies for His glory. He parts seas and destroys entire armies. Exodus 14:31 says, "When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in  theLord and in His servant Moses." He is a God that is to be feared and trusted. Even when things look ominous, like when the Israelites see the Egyptians coming after them, the Lord provides His faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bonjour! Parlez vous Francais?

A month ago James and I were able to go to Paris, France for 12 days. Oh the beauty of old brick streets, quaint cafes and beautiful buildings. There's nothing like the architecture of a french cathedral or the Eiffel Tower. Amidst perfect little shops and historical sights is the Seine River adding its touch of charm to the city. The entire experience was breathtaking and very surreal.
We had the privilege of staying with James' cousin Steve and his wife Rikke and two girls Claudia and Rachel. It was the perfect situation because they are so fun and easy to be around. Their apartment was beautiful and literally right across the street from Luxembourg Gardens. What a life...walking out the door of your building into the gardens for your morning stroll or jog. It's truly amazing.
Not only did James and I get to experience the Parisian highlights such as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (where we got the see the one and only Mona Lisa...that was a big deal to me! We also saw Napolean's apartment...below is his dining room. Looks just like ours except our table's a bit bigger),

The Pompidou Center,

Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coure, Luxembourg Gardens, The Arc de Triumph
and the Palace at Versailles (where we rented a boat and rowed on the lake in King Louis' garden....lovely).

We also got to escape to the french country side for a few days.
The little town of Amboise hosted us in a darling little bed and breakfast. What a fun break it was to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life into the peace and quiet of France. I loved the little cars, streets, shops and...the chateaus!!!!! They call them "chateaus" but they're really castles from centuries ago. I wonder what it would have been like to live in a castle...maybe someday I'll know this side of heaven. If worries, my name means "God's princess" so I'm hoping for one in heaven :)
Probably one of the best things we did was visit the Chateau de Chenonceaux. It was so beautiful and tucked back in the forest. To get to it you have to walk down a lane of huge, gorgeous trees that takes about 10 minutes. We went in all the rooms and had some of the best ice cream ever outside...what fun!

One thing I really learned to appreciate about Paris is their subway system (The Metro). It was very intimidating to me to learn, but once I did...I loved it! It truly saved us some nights from walking miles. It made me think of that part in
You've Got Mail when Frank says, "Name one good thing that comes from technology." I would have said, "The Parisian Metro!"
I almost forgot to talk about the amazing little church we went to. It is actually associated with New Life and the Ost family. During our time in Paris the spiritual climate didn't necessarily seem "dark" as so many people describe it, but rather "absent". I noticed that my desire for the Lord seemed to dwindle while I was there to where it almost seemed hidden. When we went to this little church the power of the Holy Spirit hit you in the face. I just stood drinking it in as these fellow believers worshiped the Lord in french. It was the exact reawakening my spirit needed. It's similar to when you don't even realize you're thirsty until you start to drink a glass of water. Once you realize how thirsty you can't stop drinking until you're satisfied. That's how I felt in this church. Highly recommended.
Not only was it an awesome experience to see Paris and Amboise, but to do it with James was the best. He is so adventurous and draws me out of my comfort zone. In the midst of it, I'm usually not too happy, but looking back I'm so glad he doesn't let me settle for "safe". We had a great time together and it truly was romantic being in the city of lights with my husband of a year and half!
I suggest that everyone should go visit Paris at least once in their life. If it seems financially "impossible" start saving up'll be well worth it. Au revoir!