Monday, July 30, 2012

The Origin of the New Blog Name

I suppose some of you may be wondering why the blog has changed it's style and name.  The answer is simple:  I don't live in Tennessee anymore, so "Down in the Tennessee Hills" didn't quite work :)
I'm so excited about the next stage of my life, and am eating up these last couple of weeks at home in Waynesville, being with friends and family, and breathing in the smell of fresh air and summer in the mountains! 

A Psalm and a song have been playing through my mind for the past month, and was the source of the new blog name: 

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Do you know what really struck me about the line in verse 6?  A sacrifice, in itself, is something you give up.  More than that, in biblical times, it meant that something died.  And Christ calls us to die to ourselves daily, and to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.  So this concept of offering sacrifices with shouts of joy struck me.  It speaks of something deeper, something fuller and more real than the brief life that we live here on Earth.  We offer sacrifices, we suffer loss of what is temporary, with joy, because we know that it is an investment in something eternal.  I hope that my life looks more and more like that - pouring out sacrifices with shouts of joy, living in the reality of my true life, which is beyond this world. 

And the song that has been playing through my mind, based on this psalm:  Fellowship Church's "Everlasting God"  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


A few clips of East Asian food, for those who are interested :)

Sweet and Sour Fish at a fancy welcome dinner that our school hosted for us
 (note the cute palm tree made out of veggies in the background)

Shao Cao!  (a.k.a. bar-b-que)  Our favorite street food - everything fresh, from goat to lotus plant to tofu!

An up close look at the Shao Cao - all of that red stuff is spicy red pepper!

Salad dressing. Flavor?  "America is the Juice" 
We had fun with all of the funny translations of things into English.

Boiled pork and cabbage dumplings with spicy dipping sauce - one of my favorites!

Funny animal-shaped cakes at a coffee shop in our town.

Sizzling rice in a stoneware bowl with yummy veggies, chicken, and apples on top - also one of my favorite meals!

Basically, I LOVED the food in East Asia and wish I could have brought back samples for you all - I guess these photos will have to suffice :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Changes, They're A-Comin'

As you can see, I have changed the design of my blog, which seems appropriate, to go along with all of the other changes taking place on my life.
It is hard to believe that in a little more than three weeks I will be moving to the Chicago area to work on my Masters of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and keep working with Cru at Loyola University Chicago.  I'm ready and excited, but a little nervous and scared to move so far away from home and start school again (I haven't studied or written a paper in 4 years!)  But God has been so clearly at work in the process that I know that I just need to take the plunge and trust Him to continue to provide. 
And there's so much to be excited about!  Getting to live in a totally different part of the country with a different culture.  Freezing cold winters that I'm choosing to believe will make me a tougher person.  Getting to study the Bible more in-depth and learn more about doing ministry.  Getting to continue doing ministry with Cru while I go to school.  Living near a huge city for the first time in my life.  The REALLY good food in Chicago.  Getting to be on campus again as a student, with the peers and community that comes with it. 
I'm pretty sure that those are only a few of the things to be excited about, so suffice it to say: this is looking like a good move! 

In the meantime, I will enjoy my last few weeks in my hometown, with friend, in the South, even, and try to live fully in each moment. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

America Really IS the Beautiful

There's nothing like being out of the country for 6 weeks to remind me of how much I love being home.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE travelling, and am constantly amazed at how blessed I have been to be able to travel as much as I have in my life.  I love being in a different culture, experiencing new and different sights, sounds, tastes, smells...all of it.

But there's nothing like hearing that "Welcome Home" from the customs official in the airport as I come back into the States.

We had an absolutely amazing time in East Asia, and literally saw God transform lives while we were there.  I hope I never get to a point where I'm no longer amazed that I get to be a part of such incredible works of God in the lives of others.  It is truly a priviledge and incredibly humbling. 

I'll be posting more photos and stories from East Asia soon - but here's a couple of photos to whet your appetite!

My team - such a great group! 

An aerial view of our campus.

The sweet daughter of the owners of our favorite restaurant - she had put her ring on my finger!

More to come soon!