Monday, October 08, 2012

This week is already passing by quickly, and if I don't get this down, I'll have forgotten all that's swirling in my mind.

This month we celebrate several new minestones. First, I finished my MA WOOOHOO! So good to be done, but I'm already swamped in PHD work. We did stop to celebrate yesterday, driving up the mountain to eat with good friends, and talking for hours on end. It was good.

This Saturday, we completed 9 years in Spain. How is that possible? But more on that in a second.

And finally, this Monday will be Andrew's birthday. We are going to have a loud, obnoxious, so much fun the neighbors are jealous steak barbaque. Can't wait.

But back to the 9 years in Spain. We are so grateful, so happy, and so amazed by how God has kept us here. How has He done it? by giving us an incredible community of insane friends, at church, at the gym, and now at the university and our students and of course, Triatomix, the triathlon team.

All of these groups are intrinsictly linked, and a bunch from each will come and join us on Sunday as we celebrate Andrew's birthday but also their friendship to us, and helping us stay here for 9 years.

Seeing this picture again, reminded me of what our journey has been like. There are several mythical road cycling routes here in Granada, most of them sharply slanting up the mountain, one of the most famous, is called the Purche. When the guys did the Half Ironman this summer, one of their friends spray painted the road. One of our collegues went to do the Purche this weekend, and found it still there, 2 and 1/2 months later.

It says: Vamos (Let's go!) Juli, Iker, Dani and Nacho

Not only has our community here in Granada helped, encouraged, prayed, laughed, loved and kept us here, but there are MANY MANY MANY people around the world that do the same. We miss you all, but we are immensely grateful for technology that keeps us closer. Thank you all for spray painting the road ahead of us, so we can see how you are cheering us on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I woke up this morning thinking about a friend of mine, who wrote last night on her Facebook last night, "Sitting next to my brave sister." This sister has cancer.

I started thinking about the word sit. It's not something we do much, or we do too much. Now, most of us work in front of computers, tablets, or desks, and we sit. Some studies show sitting too much is killing us. Google has bouncy balls and creative chairs to help computer programmers as they sit. I actually have a ton of pain sitting to long, and have to get out, walk, run, swim, cycle, stand on my head, or do something every day that I sit and study/read/write.

But sitting with a friend, brother or sister, parent or any other loved one, that is something else. Sentarse is the verb for sit, Sentir is the verb for feel or emotion in Spanish, strangely enough, they are very similar in sound, which just one phoneme differenciating them.

And I think, sometimes, they are close to one and the same. Job's friends sat with him, and felt with him, even though they tried to rationalize his pain, and that's why the story of Job is so sad. His loss is immense, but his friends accusations take up the bulk of the book, and that's what makes is so powerfully sad, and when God comes at the end, He too "sits" with Job, but insteads show Job His creation, and care.

So, perhaps sitting and feeling with someone is one of the more powerful things we can do, either positive or negative. Although far away, today, I am sitting with my friend, and I want her to know I feel her sadness, even from far away. I love you Mel.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So as not to keep you, dear reader, in suspense, a short report on the Half Ironman I volunteered for a week ago.We had ten men in all that started and completed the race without any injuries other than sore muscles and lots of cramps, which is completely normal when you keep moving intensely for 7 hours or so. They are amazing, my heroes, and I got to see them at different points in the race.

We started first below in the pantano (water reservoir) called Canales. They warmed up. lined up the HONK, the horn sounded and they were off. Beautifully off. It was like a piece of art. As they swam, we walked up a STEEP hill (where last year I felt like I almost died and realized I was too fat and started training much more in earnest) and stopped to take various pictures. Then the guys finished the run and started to walk up. We took a few pictures. This one is Juli, our team trainer as he runs up in 5th place after completing the 2.5 km swim.

Below is a video of the whole race as they take off from the finish line.

Then we went up to watch them do the transition. There they put on their shoes and helmets, grabbed their bikes and went off to the do the 90 km cycle. There was an accident, quite serious along the way, but fortunately our guys completed the ride without a problem.

Liz and I went and watched the guys come up the Purche, a very steep hill, one of two that they had to do before making it up the other steep part to the village where they would transition again, taking off bikes and helmets and clipless shoes in exchange for running shoes and usually hats.

But before we could see the guys make it to the village, we dashed up the mountain in the ski lifts to the highest part of the race, about 2600 meters, or close to 9000 feet above sea level.

The four men, decided that together they would do the race. They waited for each other at key points, and encouraged each other. Several times they had to stop and get off the bikes and massage out cramps or stretch out the tired legs. Dani, Iker, Nacho and Jesus are my heroes.

Gerard finished strong, with a constant smile.

And Manu, finished 6th in the general rice, 1st in the bike. He is a machine.

Liz and I didn't see them finish, but we saw them at one of the worst points, after having run uphill almost 14 km. They could barely speak, but there we were, cheering loudly and handing out a cup of water.

I don't know if I'll do the volunteer thing again that that race, I missed seeing them finish. But isn't that life, sometimes all we can do is give a cup of cold water. Jesus talks about that, and how important it is, the small things. Since you all know I follow Jesus, I hope that through my life and writing, I can give you a cup of cold water. Sometimes, that's all we can do, and sometimes we miss the glorious finish, but we are supposed to be part of the encouragement along the way.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This weekend, almost 20 of my teammates from Triatomix will complete either the Olympic or the Half Ironman in our backyard, the imposing Sierra Nevada. Today, 7 of them completed the Olympic, 1500 meters swimming, 40km cycling and 10 km running, most of which is completed above 1500 meters or more above sea level. Just standing up there watching them finish I feel the lack of oxygen and my legs complained of little pressure and felt quite swollen.

This race is one of the most physically demanding in the world, and is incredible to watch, let alone participate in. I'm going to take pictures tomorrow with my husband, and with a bunch of the girlfriends/wives or other friends, hand out water at the halfway mark for the Half Ironman. They guys will already have swum 2.5 km, and cycled 93 km and run 11 km by the time they reach our water/fruit stand. They will have another 11 km to run before finally crossing the finish line.

The men in our team (this time we have no women competing) are amateurs. They do this for their hobby, their down time from jobs like IT, businesses, doctors, office workers, teachers and we have a few students, (both undergraduate and grad level)most of whom completed today's race. We have several that are at pro level, and could compete on a national level if they so choose. However, most of the time they compete with us mortals and encourage us to push harder, faster and better.

Maybe those of you who follow my blog are tired of me using this as a metaphor, I hope you are not, and can hang in there with me for just a few more minutes. :)

These men who have trained all year, have accomplished numerous races in the process, have trained for this very moment. For several hours, mostly like 8 or so, their bodies will be "on" and they will be in constant motion. They have cried, sweated, eaten pasta until they burst, swum hundreds of kms, cycled thousands of kms, and run again and again and again until their bodies are so finely tuned, you can see every vein and muscle even if they are wearing shorts and a tshirt.

Paul talks about this in I Corinthians, and one of the triathletes actually quoted the last two veres of the below passage to encourage the teammates this weekend. I would like to look at it and take a slightly different look at it.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (I Cor 9:24ff NLT)

Disqualified. A horrible word. One you fear most as you compete in a race. In a tri, several things can happen in which can disqualify you. You can touch your bike before putting on your helmet, you can run off course (cheating) in an effort to try and finish sooner, etc, etc etc,

When was the last time you thought about how you could disqualify yourself from the race of life? In my personal reflection, how do I, as someone who has set my face to serve God, be declared disqualified?

I've watched it happen. I'm not that old yet, but I've watched people who have dedicated themselves to a task, and two, three, four or more years down the road, throw in the towel, quit, either physically or emotionally, and they are finished. They walk off of the race, and disappear.

I do believe in second chances. I do believe there is more than one race to win. And I recently have watched friends NOT complete a race, and have to try and supersede that barrier in the next race. It is painful, but can be done.

And even more so in the race of life, I believe in a God that wants to show me and you what it is to run the race with Him as our trainer, leading, guiding, encouraging, and running with us. I'm so happy He doesn't just watch and cheer from the sidelines, but He too ran this race, and runs it with us daily. Come, let Him run with you, and see the difference in how you run this race.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

For Jody

Portions of my thesis to wet your appetite. Perhaps what we spoke of yesterday will make more sense. Everyone else can listen in. :)

Culturally, Shame in this paper is  defined within the context of Judeo Christian values but we can also see the values of the definition of shame within the Asian cultures to expand our understanding of shame, although it is obvious within the Spanish culture, there is a combination of both shame and guilt cultures. It would appear there is a combination of both due to Judeo Christian values as well as shame culture. This is why in the Med this looks differently than in the Middle East or the Asian world. It is a moral obligation and not a cultural obligation as in Asian cultures. It would appear from the literature that shame in the Med looks more like Shame in the Middle East as both major cultures have had a lot of cultural contact, linguistically, socially, culturally and even politically.
We can see from the literature review in psychology that we sense and experience anxiety and/or motivation as a result of our shame. Anxiety in second language acquisition has been studied in depth, and we are well aware of its causes and effects on the brain, emotions and learning abilities. However, anxiety is one of the result of shame, and a narrow aspect. Shame can also be a positive aspect in second language learning as we will see. If one is ashamed that he or she cannot communicate, one of two possible outcomes may occur. 1. A person will be afraid to make a mistake in language and will be overwhelmed and cease trying.2. A person will be afraid to not be able to communication and will be motivated by lack of ability to hone his or hers ability in language. However, what seems to be more likely than not is that shame is a barrier to second language acquisition and most students, when confronted by this barrier actually are impeded by it, and do not advance in their language studies, specifically in the area of speaking. Many will continue to study, but without self awareness in this area, they will not become advanced speakers in their second language.

Definition of Shame from an Eastern Viewpoint
Although shame is still shame in either a Western or Eastern context, the intensity is quite different. Everything that I have discussed and will continue to discuss is Shame from a Westernized context, but it is noteworthy to briefly discuss shame within an Eastern context.
In order to be thorough in research on shame, one cannot ignore that the the society in which shame is most powerful used and felt is Japan.  Ruth Benedict’s anthropological work on Japan is not new, but is still one of the foremorst ethnograpical sketchs still refered to by many. Even though some view her ideas on shame in Japanese culture biased, her thoughts are still quite thorough and for my purposes, adequate to help define shame in general.
In the forward in Benedict’s definitive work, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, Ian Buruma summarizes Benedict’s ideas on shame culture by stating, “Shame comes from not living up to social obligations…Shame depends on the observations of others.” (Buruma 2005 p. x) Previously he discusses the author’s personal struggle of trying to make sure that there was a definingly line between a guilt culture (like in the United States) and a shame culture (like in Japan). Benedict distinctly shows that these are stereotypes and that not every person in these cultures falls into one or the other categories, but that these categories aid one to  understand culture.[1]
                Benedict’s main ideas about shame state that shame cannot be absolved as guilt can by confession and forgiveness and so it’s feeling of chagrin is very powerful and unbearable. She believes that shame is caused by an exterior force, that produced by societies expectations placed upon the individual by stating that,  “true shame cultures rely on external for good behavior…Shame is a reaction to other people’s criticism.”(Benedict 2001 p. 222-223)  She believes guilt to be produced as a result of an internal action that “may be relieved by confessing …sin.” (Benedict p. 223). She further elaborates on shame stating that the Japanese equate shame to virtue and that a man without shame does not possess virtue and that a man with shame is a “man of honor”. (Benedict p. 224)

[1] Benedict was commissioned by the US government in order to write a defining work on the Japanese culture in 1944. She tried to do so as objectively as possible. Her previous counterparts, including ambassadors, had nothing positive to say about the Japanese culture, calling them “barbarians”  and “savages”. Her definitive work changed the way the West thought and still thinks about the Japanese culture. (Buruma 2005 p. vii-viii)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

I've written a lot lately about our journey to become triathletes, and I've realized that there are so many parellels to life as you work through things physically. Today, I'm laid up at home from church with a sprained ankle and a torn up knee, and I didn't even do those training! I merely slipped and fell walking with some girlfriends this week and boy has it hurt! I did two triathlons and hundreds of kms of training this year, and I hurt myself walking. Sigh.

However, this has given me time to reflect and think and stop and be still, which is still a very important part of life, one that's really easy to bypass as we think "being productive" is the only way to do live.

Last weekend I was in England with Andrew, and we went to our friend's ordination service. I'm not an Anglican, but I can very much appreciate its form and traditions, and staying power, even through the midst of war, crisis, plagues and you fill in the rest of the blanks.

This service was powerful, as we watched a good friend who has gone through his own personal hell, see a miracle realized, and become ordained as a deacon (the first part before becoming a priest) in the glorious Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. I imagine he is still pinching himself a week later.

What can be easy for us in the midst of a miracle however, is to think that all is solved, and that there will be no more hardship. But, the parking tickets, and the sprained ankles and the frustrating moments, and the atm card not working still continue and sometimes overshadow the incredible miracles God has permitted to occur in our lives. We see this in the Gospel of John when suddenly a man can walk, and all anyone can focus on is why he was lame in the first place. Darnit! He can walk, and they were still focused on the past.

I'm just as guilty. I've had an incredible year, full of blessings beyond my imagination. Seeing our friend ordained was another one of those blessings. But when I sprain my ankle, and my bank account is dry and I can't go to church cause I'm hobbling around like a horse with no knees and I throw a party and 30 people can't come, its easy for me to forget about things like I've done two triathlons this year, I'm stronger and fitter than ever. I've come to the almost end of a MA and am looking forward to a PH.D. Andrew has found his niche in so many ways, and we have amazing students and new friends and new adventures...

So. Stop with me today as I continue my wanderings, but in quiet reflection of all of the good things that "overflow my cup". And that I continue to feast even in "the presence of my enemies" and that my God is the King of Glory that humbled himself to perform miracles, not to erase our past, but to bring Glory to the Future Kingdom. Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This last Sunday we had another triathlon, a harder one in Almeria, on the very edge of the Almeria desert on the coast. The sea was choppy, and the distances were longer, and it was hot!

The "sensations" were the same, nerves, anticapation, excitement...the transitions went well, but the swim wasn't very much fun, I didn't enjoy it it all. The feeling of being surrounded by so many people and the choppiness of the sea and too much sediment and algae made it for not so fun of a swim. I also had to run up 400 meters barefoot to get to the bike, that made it not so fun either.

It was hot running, I almost passed out as I passed over the finish line. And I was last. The medic poured water over my head, and I almost felt human again.

This time, our friends raced after us, and so they loudly cheered us on. I mean, loudly. I think one guy, Enrique was omnipresent. He was by the sea, the bikes and the finish line. Believe it or not, it was incredibly humbling to have them all saying GO GO GO, VENGA, TU the very top of their lungs.

While they race, Andrew and I did the same, his booming voice reaching out hundreds of meters, not just to our team, but to others.

And as I stood by the finish line, watching these incredible people come in during the heat..I wept again. Hard work, endurance, patience, and waiting for Paloma, I decided to run the last few meters with her. As she finally rounded the corner, both Juli (the trainer) and I realized she wasn't doing well. I ran with her some, encouraged her, and let her finish alone. She collapsed at the line practically and they whisked her away to hospital. Appendecitis, they caught it with antibiotics, but incredible she finished. So did my friend Almu.

Racing is hard, exhillarating, and tough. It seperates the men from the boys, the women from the girls. I came in dead last in our race, but I finished.

Later this week, when my muscles quit complaining, I put on my shorts and helmet, and went for a bike ride. It was my birthday, and the weather was incredible, the flowers glorious and the birds happier than ever. Its been a hard race lately, and somehow I've thought that doing an MA and trainging for a tri, pretending to learn Latin, and still being married and having friends was somehow going to be easy. It hasn't, and maybe in somethings I've come dead last, but I'm still finishing. I am in awe of God, and how He constantly paves the way, even in choppy seas, and hot weather. This year has made me stronger, physically, mentally and spiritually as I've finally run the race that I"ve prepped for in a long time.

Some of you who read my blog maybe don't believe the way I do about God, how He loves you and wants to be not only your Lord and King, but He wants to call you His friend. I believe this. I hope somehow this year I've been able to communicate that, by my actions and my words. If I haven't, I'm sorry, and I hope to do it even more this new year.  I love you all, and I hope somehow you all know that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Race

I've had any number of people ask me about our first race in Sevilla, and I've promised some more details, so here they are for anyone who would like to know.

Both Andrew and I returned from the US two years ago absolutly drained after watching his mom slip to the next life. I returned 10 days before Andrew, and my friend April realized it was not good for me to be alone. So one day, she dragged me out of my house and said, let's go sign up at the new gym.

We had a wonderful time exploring the gym, going to the pool and jacuzzi and steam room and so I signed Andrew and I both up without telling him. I didn't tell him for weeks how much we were paying, becuase I knew how important it was for us to go. Two or three times a week, we'd find ourselves there and it really helped us through those first blurry months back in Spain.

As we started to go, we realized that one of our friends from church, Julian was a trainer there. His wife Liz and I attended a bible study together and got to know each other better, and bit by bit, we became better friends. Juli talked Andrew into swimming with the team, and later, I started to join them.

Then last May, we went to a triathlon to take pictures of Liz and Juli, and enjoyed the day cheering them and the team on. We went again last July to take pictures in the Sierra Nevada, and walking up from the swiming part, I realized how fat and how outta shape I still was.

So while Andrew decided to do a race in Motril, I decided to keep working and keep getting skinner. I had a car accident in October and it set me back, as I could barely swim or run until January.

Little by little, we began to train more in earnest. In January, I heard there was a race in Sevilla, a super sprint, and decided I had four months, I was going to do it. Andrew got talked into doing the same.

We trained, we suffered, we had setbacks, but continued. Andrew was sick for a great deal of this spring, so he decided to stick with the super sprint as opposed to the sprint, which was twice as long of a race.

We got bikes, Andrew just one week before the race. I wasn't worried, he's a pro.

Day of the race, we drove to Sevilla. I had dreamt the whole week about the race, trained diligently, and heard about everyone else's mistakes and decided, even if I crawled over the line, I would finish. I was not nervous, just ready to go.

We checked in, and got our arms marked up with numbers. We changed into our "monos" or outfits with our team, MBIKES. Without the team, encouraging us, I don't know if Andrew and I would have ever done such a thing~!

We watched our teammates as they particapated in olympic and sprint races. Olympic is 1.6 km swimming, 40 km cycling, and 10 running. Sprint is 750m swimming, 20,m cycling and 5 running. Ours, a super sprint, was 350m swimming, 10km cycling, and 2.5 running. I was confident about the first two, and reluctant for the running. But I knew it was possible.

We jumped into the water, the river Guadquivir in Sevilla. Bleh, it was gross. A plant swished by my leg, just as I had dreamt it would. Heebie jeebies done and conquered.

We stood wating, I got nervous, and then we were off!!!!! Jogging to the waters edge, SPLASH! and waiting for the whistle to blow. 300 plus, mostly men. I found a spot closer to the back, which I later regretted. Andrew and I both realized that we were such good swimmers, we should have pushed to the front, and left everyone else behind. Since almost all were "newbies" most came from running or cycling as a background, and not swimming, and so they couldn't swim! I ended up passing all sorts of men as I slowly swam around them, and Andrew ended up fishing a team mate out of the water as men around her didn't notice her.

I had several moments of feeling suffocated and not quite panic, but getting there. I finally realized I could go the long way around everyone, and found a bit of my rhythm, although I went further than I needed to. I crawled out of the water, and walked to my bike, put my shoes and socks and helmet on and by this time I REALIZED THIS WAS IT! and I swished outta the boxes grinning like a chesire cat. The crowd laughed and cheered when they saw how much I LOVED IT!

10 km went by fast, 30 minutes in all. I drafted for the first time, and that helped. I was worried about a flat tire, as so many had had one that day due to the poor road. No flat. Happier than a clam as I passed men! Arrived back to the boxes to stash bike, bike shoes, and helmet, and slap on the running shoes and hat.

Running felt so slow after the fast bike, and I slowed to a walk at least a half a dozen times. I don't run well, but when I saw my times, I actually ran the fastest I ever have! Some people shouted encouragement to me as they passed, and one woman actually ran with me for part of the time. As I came close the finish line, my team was waited and cheered and yelled and..yah, that was the best part.

After I walked to the finish area, I got some fruit and drink and my shirt, and they all came to find me. Of course I was the last teammate, but so many had waited to congratulate and cheer me on. Our biggest, best athlete at 6 foot 6 inches, who races like a demigod, came and hugged and kissed me on both cheeks and said CONGRATS! and so did everyone else. Besides greeting my awesome husband who had just done the same race in 7 minutes less than me, THAT WAS THE BEST!

There are so many parallels to life than can be drawn, but the one that impacted me the most was the finish line. Not only did I finish, but my team stayed to make sure I did. These men and women are the true athletes, I'm just trying to be like them, but they know the importance of being a team, and so they stayed to cheer me and the rest on. Not much that I"ve experienced in the world can compare to that feeling of love and support of knowing you aren't alone.

And so, that wraps up my report. My question to myself all week since the race has been, where am I encouraging others who may finish behind me in different aspects of life? Where have I decided to stay by the goal and cheer people on? Sometimes, those of us who believe in the next life, only think about what it will be like to cross the line into the next life. Good, great. But we live here now. My Bible says that we God, as we love ourselves, and then love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

So, how did I love someone else today like God loves them? Did I cheer them onward, did I run the race a little with them? Did I cheer when I saw them happy? Or, did I try to push them down while they tried to swim? Did i trip them as they ran over rocky roads?

May we run this race loving and cheering everyone else that runs with us.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

It's holy week again. In our part of this world, it's a huge todo. Lots of floats, parades, processionals, people in the street, statues of virgin mary and jesus died, alive, tortured and crucified.

It makes me sad because the Jesus I know, came into town not with music and fanfare and carried by 50 men, but on a donkey. The children cut off palm leaves and cried, Hosana! Which means, save us now.

And the Jesus I knew was pulled in so many directions. They wanted him to save them from their political and economic crisis. They wanted bread and a new governement. He didn't deliever. Instead, he died a wretched death on a horrible instrument, and then suddenly, people said he rose from the dead. He had over 500 witnesses, and he didn't do huge massive miracles as a resurrected Jesus, he just appeared and ate bread and fish.

I'm not here in Spain to convert people, I can't do that as a human being, only God changes men's hearts. But I am here to talk to people about important things, one of which is, who Jesus really is. I don't know all the answers, neither do I want to. God is mysterious, and mystical, and one of the things I like here about Holy Week is somehow, you still catch that feeling in the smell, taste, feel it in your chest...and its good to remember that Jesus was a real human, and died a horrible death.

But He lives.

And He still changes lives. He's changed mine. I wasn't the bad kid, I didn't rebel, I went to a good Christian Bible school, but that doesn't mean I've escaped a crisis in what I believe. I've had several, some quieter than others.

The worst one, when people I loved and trusted felt like I wasn't up to snuff. Good people. My name got a lot of mud slung on it. I thought, God, how could you do this to me? I still do sometimes. I'm still not completely healed....but I am in process....and that's what's key.

You see, what I've that God wants to heal us. Us, with broken hearts, with messed up lives, with wounded souls from what others have or haven't done to us. He wants us whole. It's why Jesus died, so that we can have life, and life it to the fullest.

There's an old movie, Chariots of Fire, and in it there is an athelete, an Olympian runner. He wants to run, and his sister is really upset, because he also wants to be a missionary, but puts it on the back burner while he becomes an athelete. She comes one day angry and upset, and yells at him.

He calmly turns and says, "When I Run, I feel God's pleasure".

When I live here, work here, talk to you about who Jesus is, I know God is happy with me. And for me, it's enough. I'd love to talk with you more about it all, but I want you to know, I'm not going to change your mind. I'm going to do what God wants me to do, and ...He will talk to you.

I know this man, a man who came on  a donkey, who ate bread and drank wine with his followers, and who died so we could live. .....and that live, full to the max, I would never trade for anything. All its pains, frustrations, and yes, freedom, you can have to. Let's talk.

Monday, February 27, 2012

First thoughts for my MA thesis.

Emotion is a strong element in our perception of the world. It is difficult to ignore and harder to quantify. One of our strongest and most powerful motivating emotions is shame. Shame is the first emotion mentioned in the Bible, that has Adam and Eve realized their nakedness, they covered themselves out of shame. Wars and conflict and battle all have been fought over honor and shame. Strangely enough in this modern world, we neglect the existence of this most base emotion, and instead we often move blindly through our world motivated to protect our honor and compelled to the beat of its drum to always avoid shame.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art by Jason Jack Soen-Photo by James Stickings

Monday, February 13, 2012

I wrote a note to a friend today, and thought this would make a good post. Edited for public viewing and expounded upon.

Sometimes we think everything is supposed to happen instantly, work, job, cultural adapation, friends, family, etc, etc, and everying is limited to this thing we call time. Its awful, but something I've learned specficially when Andrew's mom passed away two years ago, that there is a time and place for everything. For us, there was a time of intense grief, and then a time of healing, but that doesn't mean that we still have grief and still need healing, but there are times and places for it all.

Yesterday, I sat church, with my own grief. Grief of time lost. Grief of loss of relationships. Grief of saying goodbye to my aunt and uncle as they move onward to Cyprus. I stood and sat in church as I used to watch my uncle do, and let everything wash over me. When I first watched him, I wondered why, and yesterday, I completely understood.

My collegues in the worship band sang their hearts out. They sang about God being our hope, our fortress, and how much we need him. Yesterday, I desperately felt that need.

And even more so as we sat down, as the men next to me silently wept with me. They too have felt keenly the large hole made by my aunt and uncles absence.

It is  overwhlelming, becuase moving out of an "old" time period into a "new" one, is exhausting. Physcially, mentally, spiritually, but its vital and incredibly necessary.

And so the preacher stood up. Not surprisingly for our little church, she was a woman. Eloquently she spoke passionatly about Jesus' charge for us to humble ourselves as children, and depend upon God.

What struck me most (besides the fact that she had an incredibly well prepped and arrange sermon, even to this jaded sermon listener) was that she talked about the price of the Kingdom.

Those of us who believe in Jesus and believe that His Kindgom is not physical, but spiritual, long to see more people understand what the real Kindgom of Heaven is. Its not pearls from the Carribean lining walls of churches, its not Big Bibles being thumped by passionarte preachers, its not reams of paper devoted to theologies and ideas of what man thinks God might or might not be, and its not even our revered Scriptures that tell us the Story.

It's God living among us. Its God's Spirit showing us what is good and perfecct. Its life here and life to come. Its knowing who Jesus was, is and what He will be. Its understand a God in three persons, yet fully God.

And this Kindgom will increase, but it means we have to decrease and become like little children dependent on God. But at the same time we must understand the price.

Because its far easier to think of the positives and present and future glories, rather than the price. I thought long ago I paid my price. I left my country, my comfort zone, my suburbia, and I came to live here, in Granada, en el Zaidin (my neighborhood). I left my family and friends, and came here. 

Strangely enough, even though I left most of my family, I was given a small bit of it. Peter and Deb and Sam. Together, we learned and grew and cried and prayed and saw the best and the worst of each other. We gave and sang and worshipped and complained and wallowed sometimes too.

But as of last week, that moment is gone. It was a vital and important moment. But it is finished. And for both us and them, this is part of the price, the sacrifice, the sadness that is necessary to see as Jesus prayed, "your kingdom come...."

May the price we pay be so insignifanct, that we forgot it all and see only "His will be done..."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Last year, I found myself in a new group of friends, triatheletes. They are a werid bunch I tell you. Working out 3-5 times a week for fun and then they go on 100 km bike rides over the weekends. Sheesh.

And I wondered why. So last year, Andrew and I started to take their pictures. There is nothing more educational about a group of people than suddenly whipping out a camera. As they got used to us, we began to learn why they do this.

I'll never forget the sensation of walking amoung the atheletes as they prepped for a half ironman or long distance race in the Sierra Nevada, the mountain that towers over Granada. You could feel the buzz of adreneline, and the excitement was palpable. We stood with Liz and Juli, the trainers of this club that are some of our best friends. Juli usually actively particapates, but this time, he was an organizer of the race, and so he was just an observer and a coach.

As everyone got into the water, and stood there waiting for the minute warning, he got all excited and said, "CAN YOU FEEL IT?" and then he turned to me and said, "wait till you hear the sound, the sound when they leave is intense."

Woosh, woosh, woosh, four hundred people are started a 2 km swim was an intense sound. You could, taste, feel, hear and smell the push of adreneline. Truly Amazing.

And as that race came to an end, you could see how everyone had suffered and was so glad to finish.

And in every race I've watched, the end is the most incredible. Men and women alike suffer to the end, cry, pray, dance, and rejoice as they finish. Sometimes they pick up a son or daughter and run with them in their arms, or the little person runs along side them. The last race I watched was a half marathon, and after Liz left me to find her hubbie, I sat there and sobbed outloud as people finished.

It was intense. I was looking for friends I knew and rejoiced when they crossed the finish line. The crowd of specatators would break into shouts as they saw their dad or sister or brother or mom or whomever cross the line.

Two years ago, Andrew and I, and the rest of the family were spectators as we watched Andrew's mom Cross the Finish Line. She passed away after almost 4 years of fighting breast  cancer.

There are lucid moments I have when I know that the Other Side is real. When the veil is thinner between the worlds and we know that those who have believed, are saved. We know that seperated by time and space, we are never seperated from God's love.

And so, my own journey here continues. Crazily enough, I ran a 5 k over Christmas break. The sensation of having everyone cheer you to the finish line is intense. Sometimes you feel exhausted and unworthy of their encouragement..but you know you must finish. I always wondered why people did races, and now I know. Because doing one is like a shallow reflection of this life, and sometimes we need to remember, we are in a race, and  I hope to finish well. I think Mom would be proud to know that the race goes on, and we look forward to seeing her at the finish line.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I like teaching English.