Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We just wanted to share some photos of this summer in the States. The boys are getting bigger everyday and we love watching them grow!
Thomas was able to grill a lot while we were home and he really enjoyed the freedom of grilling in our own backyard! Of course, one of the fun things Thad did this summer was ride the golf cart and here he is sitting with Salil, the VCS student we brought home with us for a portion of the summer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ich bin ein Turfuhrer "I am a tour guide"

They asked me to give the new staff a tour of Vienna. So I pretended to be an expert for a few hours (they are all new and so if I said anything that was incorrect it's not like they'd know the difference anyway).

The above picture is the Rathaus. I know that doesn't sound like a place you'd want to hang out but auf deutsch (in German) it's city hall. It is without a doubt my favorite building in Vienna. When I look at it I see beauty...elegance...it literally puts me in awe. I realize that someone designed it and that many people spent time building it. Tour guides have to be very observant.

I'm reading a book right now called The Velvet Elvis by a guy named Rob Bell. You should all read this book. I don't agree with everything in it, but it has been a breath of fresh air in terms of "Christian" books. One of the things he talks about is the kavod of God. Kavod in Hebrew means glory but actually denotes weight or significance. Isaiah says, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. The Earth is filled with His glory."

We can see the glory of the Lord all around us. David said, "The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it." And later he prayed, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence."

Rob Bell points out in his book that some people think missions is "taking God somewhere." While I somewhat see what people are saying, if we have truly understood the scriptures we realize that God is all around us. Not in some pantheistic way, but to quote Steven Curtis Chapman, the "fingerprints of God" are all around us. And not just for us believers, but unbelievers as well. The Earth is literally FILLED with His glory. Look for it.

Paul understood this. He brought the truth and the Word of God, but he also pointed out everyday things. He was a tour guide. If you read Acts 17, Paul observes that the Athenians had many gods they worshipped and thanked for all of the good things in their lives. Paul tells them that there is one God and He is the source of all of these things. He even goes on to quote one of their poets in sharing the truth with them. Paul meets the Athenians where they are and speaks to them in a way they can relate to. He infuses all of the life experience and practice of their reality with meaning by linking it to God, the most real thing.

I'm learning that I'm not taking God anywhere. He's really big and doesn't need a ride from me. He is already intimately involved in what is going on in the lives of my kids. In Colossians it says that in Christ all things hold together. In a sense, anything we do or experience involves God's active presence.

As Christians maybe we need to stop trying to "take" God and start to "observe" what God is already doing. In Romans it talks about all people having a knowledge of God from what has been made. Let's start relating to people from the good things God has placed in their lives. The things that surround them that they can't deny. Let's speak the truth to them in love and make ourselves available to God for His use in other people's lives.

So this weekend I was a tour guide. I think I'll keep trying to be one the rest of this year.

Gettin' Oriented

One of the parts of being a teacher that I have never enjoyed is Staff Orientation. I know that it is a fact of life that whatever job you have, at some point you have meetings about how to do the job you already know how to do. We all deal with it. I am not special.
I mention this to tell you that at VCS my experience with orientation is completely different. So far we have spent time dealing primarily with figuring out how best to integrate our English as a Second Language kids into our school in a better way. Because of the international student body makeup, teachers at VCS face many unique challenges. As a staff we are committed to helping these new kids integrate into VCS so that we can share God's love with them.
Please pray for our school as we integrate new staff and students into this little corner of the world where Christ is building his Church.

We're Back

You're probably wondering why you are seeing a Taco Bell logo on our blog.
Let me tell you a story.
We've been back in Vienna for over a week now but actually arrived a day later than scheduled because we missed our flight from Washington DC to Vienna thanks to a ground stop. After spending 3 1/2 hours waiting in line I found out that the airline wasn't going to put us in a hotel. This was slightly disheartening. Mollie, having spent the time taking care of two little boys, by this point was bordering on insane.
God took care of us through the aid of a stewardess who had noticed Mollie's plight and had been helping her with the kids. I let her know that the airline wasn't going to help us and she immediately made one of the United Reps give us hotel vouchers. It was awesome. Sometimes God uses the most random people to bless you.
We finally made it to the Dulles Holiday Inn and unloaded everything. All was well. Except for the fact that we hadn't eaten since around 3:00 and it was now 11:30 and of course the hotel restaurant was now closed.
Being the gracious provider that I am, I set out on foot in search of food for my starving family. Burger King and McDonald's were closed but just around the corner shining with a neon brilliance that would've rivaled the Las Vegas strip was a Taco Bell. Two Mexican Pizzas, 3 soft tacos, and 3 regular tacos later all were all stuffed and soon asleep.
Our flight to Vienna went off without a hitch and we arrived early on Sunday morning. It was 65 degrees when we landed for all of you in Mississippi. :-)