Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sukuun- an unusual lesson in Arabic

I should be sleeping. I woke up early and have been running non-stop all day. Writing. Translating. Voice recording. Shopping at Sam's (oh joy). Eating a granola bar for dinner. Talking. Listening to music. Smiling. Washing laundry (not by the river though...*phew*). Cooking. Thinking. Driving. Classical music to calm the soul. Practicing my Arabic homework, right to left, many-many "HA-ja-KHa-ha" variations of the same "h" sound to me.

So this is my one thought for the night. I learned a "marking" in Arabic. It's called a sukuun. It's not a word nor a letter. Not a vowel and not a consonant either. It's not even a sound. So why bother to learn it? It's a small little circle the size of the top of a needle. You write it on top of a letter and it means "silence, stillness, the absence of sound". My jaw dropped a little as I stared at my beautiful Egyptian teacher. She must have thought, "what is YOUR problem looking at me weird like that? is this too hard to grasp?" I was just amazed. I found God (or Allah) in my Arabic lesson today. I found a small little reminder in the middle of my crazy day that means, "shhhhh....." Silence. Stillness. You want to jump and make a sound, but just stop, stop the vowel and stop the consonant. Don't say any more! Like someone placing their finger on their mouth to call for silence. Like someone covering your mouth with their palm. Be still. And listen to the next letter. The next sound. The silence in the middle of the word, speaks volumes!

So with that, I go to bed and think about the small little circle called the sukuun. My dryer is making noises, but I will try and think of sukuun. Perfect lesson right before our Silent Prayer retreat tomorrow. Buenas noches, Inés

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:14

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Wonderful Surprise Visit!

Yesterday, I got a call from Erica Schroeder, a dear friend of mine from seminary who out of the blue says that she's in Little Rock this week! Too cool! Ines and I had her and my mom over for dinner (followed by a visit to Shakey's). We all enjoyed catching up on the last 5 years and laughing about old times.

Erica is the first seminary friend of mine that I've seen since leaving Chicago in July 2003. She now lives in Memphis and is getting married this summer in Tuscaloosa, AL (only 30 mins away from my mother-in-law's family). Ines and I look forward to more spontaneous visits and fun times!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Un nuevo amanecer

I'm going thru a difficult time. And what better time of the year to suffer yet a little more in life, than on Good Friday, when the ultimate sacrifice truly, really happened. My pain. How can it compare to my Lord's? It doesn't. BUT- my pain: was carried BY my Lord! so on Friday (well, you know, not quite 2008 years ago), my Lord was carrying this pain on the cross. He looks down on me today and reminds me, "I know. I carried it. I was there. Remember? I know how painful it is. The burden of the whole world was on my shoulders. BELIEVE me. I felt it. The sins you committed against me. And also the sins committed against you. Now, please let me continue carrying it for you. No need for you to be nailed on the cross."

So my wise father tells me, as hot tears run down my face, in Spanish of course it sounds more beautiful, "Every great sunrise, has a really dark night before." It doesn't quite rhyme in English, "Cada buen amanecer, tiene un gran anochecer." So, I'm looking forward to that dawn of hope. Sunrise that brings life. And I'm SO glad that God has brought me not only eternal life, but abundant life on earth (and the best part is that the Greek truly means, "soul life"). So, though my circumstances are painful, I wasn't promised happy circumstances, I was promised a soul full of hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, temperance, self-control. Oh Lord- do I need patience and self-control today and the rest of this year!! Crucify my flesh Lord and let me be risen with You today! I desperately need you because you are risen. Help me rise above.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Top 10 Tithe Check Memo notes...

10. Gross, not net—as usual!
9. Hush Money
8. Casino winnings!
7. For voice lessons for worship team!
6. Thanks for last night…
5. This equals 12%
4. Don’t cash before Wednesday
3. $1 less for every minute past noon
2. Please don’t spend on crack, again.
1. NOT for children’s ministry!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am a liar sometimes

Last Spring a bunch of us sisters dug into 1 John and spent hours and hours listening and imagining all that the apostle John had "seen and heard and touched" concerning the Word of life. Like when you know someone who knows someone famous and you're in awe at their 'luck' of meeting them and taking a picture with them. Or like when I met the Queen of Spain and presented her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her into our little developing country, Nicaragua...I was so star-struck that all I could say was "Welcome to Nicaragua, Your Majesty!" and then kissed her on both cheeks as is tradition. Then I just stared in awe of this woman of Greek-descent who was literally like one of those fairy tale stories with a crown and everything, and couldn't say anything else, but smiled really big! The little nun who was standing next in line to me quickly bumped me out of the way as if saying, "okay little girl, my turn if that's all you can say". Watch out for those nuns....That's my 5 seconds of fame! I've got the picture somewhere.....*oooh* where is it? I must scan it so you can laugh. I've got bangs, braces, blue/white suit representing the colors of the Nicaraguan flag, and cheesy WHITE pantyhose *ugh* But I can say I've seen, I've heard her voice, and I've touched her Majesty's cheek and I'll never forget that at 12 years old!

So when John said, "my eyes have seen Him, my ears have heard Him, my hands have touched Him...." I'm jealous! and I wish I had someone to picture in my head! So we began the study claiming that there were 2 themes in 1 John: love God and love others. But by the time we got halfway through, or maybe even before, we realized there was only one: love God=loving others. You can't live out one without the other. So here's the verse that shook me the most,

20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God
should love his brother also (1 John 5)

I tried to find an exception or righteous justification for not being *able* to do this sometimes. But it's crystal clear. If you can't love a brother or sister, you don't love God. Sometimes we pray and pray and romantically beg of God, "oh God I want to love you mooore! show me!! show me!!" and it's clear here, "then love others". "No! but those others aren't more important than you! I want to love you!" Honey, did you hear what I said? "Oh God! help me love you without having to deal with those people!! I just want to love you!!oh Lord this world needs your love, have you seen the news lately? ohhh! time to not do anything at all!" and we miss it by a mile.

Another vision that God showed me is that if I want to see God, I should be able to see Him when someone else is loved in His name. If I love another person in word and deed, God is manifested right then and there. I had never seen it quite like that....more of God through each other. I find God in Scripture, in nature, in music, in a poem, in pretty much anything on my own without anyone's help-- but I forget to look for Him in the desperate eyes of a hungry child, and then further in alleviating that hunger-- there's God! for me and for that child! together we see Him, but apart we cannot see Him, or only see a glimpse of Him. More of God though each other.

More of God by loving and serving another. Who are your "another's"? do they all look like you? do they have to meet certain criteria in order for you to love them? Last week my friend Amy shared how God told her years ago to house a girl who was a drug addict, in her home. She said she felt inadequate to minister to her, but that she clearly heard God's voice telling her to do this. So off she went housing this "other" person. The girl had never been loved like that by anybody, because she had already burnt so many bridges. Some time later she came to Christ, was mentored by someone who had walked in her shoes, got married to a believing man, and now he's been called to be a minister.....all because Amy loved this other person. That just rocks my world and leaves me in awe. I've seen Him! My ears have heard Him! My hands have touched Him! Love appeared! Amy was not a liar like the verse above says! She claimed, "I love God, I hear His voice, I will obey it, and I will love this girl". The rest is up to God. What stops us from loving? results? laziness? prejudice? flat out disobedience? complacency? envy? jealousy? anger? pride? lies?

I love this piece of song from good ol' Ross King,
I'm thinking back to when He said the sinless shall be first to cast the stone,
so maybe....I'll just lay these rocks of condemnation down, and that's why Grace is
not just for me, it's for everyone...