Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To my three followers, and anyone else who might happen to read this blog, I have moved my blogging efforts to another blog service. Henceforth, you can find me at www.hungarianrhapsody.wordpress.com. Hope to see you there!

Growing Pains

This is a young plant. Why a picture of a young plant, you ask? It's because I feel like a young plant. Little, weak, and very, very green! And growing. And cultivated by a gardener. And slowly but surely putting down roots. But unlike a piece of greenery, I had an epiphany today. I was reading I John, and though I've read this particular epistle many times before, these few verses were especially relevant to my life right now. "This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (I John 3:19-23)". The truth is that I have a problem with doubting that missions was a good idea. Of thinking that I'm way off base and that no one else will be interested in what I'm doing. Or, worse yet, they'll think I'm only in this gig to get away from home or because of other less-than-pure motives, and that fear becomes what I assume to be reality. But God is greater than my heart, and he knows everything - the full spectrum of my motives, other people's opinions of my work in Hungary, what I will accomplish during my time there. But he also knows that, given my skill set and experiences, this is how I can best pursue the goal he has set before me: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love other people. Because I am trying to keep this commandment and do what pleases him, I am learning confidence before God that I will receive from him what I ask, and I'm asking to be in Budapest in time for the new school year. That's another reason I feel like a little plant. I've put out a little bud of faith - not in my abilities as a teacher or any right or worthiness to be supported, but in the reality that God will get me where he wants me to be in time frame he wants me there, and most of all that, for right now, this is indeed what God has asked of me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just a few pictures to help you visualize where I'll be....such a beautiful city!

And a map to help orient you to my surroundings in eastern Europe....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I am going!

I'm moving forward. I keep on chipping away at the mountain of tasks before me, but even the fact that I'm moving and chipping is a small miracle. Let me describe it like this. If you've ever done much hiking, you know that there are smaller foothills, plains, and valleys that you will encounter before you tackle the big mountain. These smaller features can be lovely, and when the mountain looks so big, sometimes it's nice to rest there in the foothills. Even if you want to climb the mountain, you're maybe not sure where's the best place to begin the ascent. So, you keep on picking around there in the foothills, knowing you have to begin climbing, but hesitant to set foot on that first big boulder. That's how I feel about support-raising. I know I have to do it, and I do want to do it, but for so long, I just wasn't sure where was the best place to begin climbing. But I am climbing now, and it happened almost by accident. I was talking to a man I had just met, and he was showing an eager interest in my new work in Budapest, so I timidly told him that if he wanted to become a supporter, he'd be warmly welcomed. He rejected the offer, and I slunk back into my shell a little bit. But there I was, a few steps above the foothills, with my foot on the next boulder. I realized I could do this whole support-raising bit, and more importantly, rejection, while awkward and a little painful, was not going to kill me.
In the meantime, I keep walking. I find it's harder to stare up at the pinacle, so I keep my eyes on what I've got to do today. There's a lot of things in the works. I made a phone call today to try to nail down a date for a benefit concert I want to present in aid of myself. I started pricing travel arrangements for the training in Chicago that I must attend in June. I'm making appointments with different small group leaders at my church so that I can visit their small groups and tell them more about Budapest. Those are all boulders that I've climbed over. Thus, in the words of the one and only Sara Groves, "I'm past the wishing. I don't wish that I could be, I am being. I don't wish that I could do, I am doing. I don't wish that I could go, I am going. By the grace of God, I am going."

Monday, March 28, 2011

But I tell you life is sweet, in spite of the misery, there's so much more...be grateful...

Do you ever stop and think about how precious life is? How fragile it is? I've been thinking about this recently, first because my mother's sister passed away a few weeks ago, and now because my 6-year-old nephew spent the night in the ER tonight because of some heart problems. I know this life is not all there is, but this life is still precious. I know that in heaven there will be no marriage and giving in marriage, but I think the relationships we have here on earth will reach their eternal zenith when we are eternal and sinless. I know we are called to store up treasures in heaven, but it's during this life that we have the opportunity to collect, store, and harvest. I read and article awhile back about the sanctity of life. I don't remember much of what the article said, except for the final paragraph, in which the author shared this perceptive insight: no matter how you translate the action performed by the Spirit of God just prior to creation, it has a sense of hesitation. Brooded...hovered...hesitated. There could have been no illusion what man would choose and the awful price that our sin and subsequent reconciliation would demand. It's as if the Trinity mused amongst themselves if they should go ahead with the plan, or if the cost was too great. In defiance of all sense, they chose to create. A world of automotons would have made more sense, but not only was man created free, but free with immense capacity to think, create, enjoy, and live. The article concluded with the thought that despite the pain we would cause the God-head, God still chose to create man, and if God thought life worthy to be created, surely it is worthy of protection and preservation, and yes, even enjoyment. And so he has given us every good thing, not the least of which being the relationships we cherish. And they are so easily snatched away! God alone knows the length of our days, and he doesn't tend to tell us our 'due dates'. And I know my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness, and I know this world is not my home, and I know that I'll swing out into eternity trusting Jesus, that is all, but this life is precious all the same. So revel in the company of the ones you love. Let them know you love them, because sometimes they're gone so fast. Maybe you think I'm just a sentimental fool, but Jesus didn't love half-heartedly, and I don't think he meant for us to love that way, either. Plus, when he said that he came that we might have life to the fullest, I think he meant eternal and temporal life, even if it is just a breath. So savor this life and the people who populate it - that's your calling, afterall.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Delinquent Blogger

The original purpose of this blog was to write updates on a plan that I hoped would come to fruition, but didn't know if it would actually happen. Actually, I was pretty sure it wouldn't happen. Nevertheless, I've been offered a position teaching elementary music at the International Christian School of Music. If all goes well, and if the Lord wills (and by that I mean, if I get all my support raised in time), I'll be leaving at the end of July for Hungary. My time there will predominantly be spent in teaching elementary music, as I said, but I will also have the opportunity to teach private voice lessons, lead choirs/Bible studies/drama clubs/whateverelseImightwantorfeelledtodo, and teach whatever other classes the school needs a teacher for. Currently, that need includes middle school music. I understand from the principal of the elementary school that the middle school music teacher is expecting another child, and while I don't know the due date, I'm guessing that she'll probably be delivering said baby in September or October or so. And then there's maternity leave. And between the two, teaching could be a little difficult for her. So, it looks like I'll be teaching grades 1-7ish, and I'm guessing that means about 16 classes per week, plus private lessons, other groups/clubs I end up leading, lesson prep/grading time, and any involvement at a local church. So that's what's new. I'm going to try to write on here more consistantly so that if you want to know what's going on with my work in Hungary, you can check this out. That's my Spring resolution.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm actually writing right now because I am insomniac, and the clock says 3:01. I've already been awake for half an hour, and I read somewhere that if you can't sleep for more than 20 minutes, you should get up and do something because you're more likely to fall asleep that way. So, I am writing my thoughts to anyone and no one at the same time. I don't know who reads this (obviously, you are!), but readership is not really my objective. I write because there's always so much whirling around my brain that it's got to get out somehow, and most people don't care to listen that long about my varied opinions and theories and whatnot. Hey, their loss :) So, here's a sampling about the things I think about. Most of these thoughts come to me while I am at work, so I think a sad percentage of them have to do with Subway.

- Club sandwiches - which club first declared the ingredients of a club sandwich? Is a club sandwich, defined at Subway as turkey, ham, and roast beef, the same no matter where you go (outside of Subway, that is. We all know how Subway prides itself on its consistency no matter where you eat. I call that boring.) I consider this question nearly every time I make a club sandwich.

- It's funny how strong the human desire to belong is. I find that if one person accepts a rewards card while I am on register, that a whole bunch of people will accept a rewards card. However, if that first person turns it down, several people in line will do likewise. Oh, the herd instinct that governs even the points cards at Subway!

-Subway Hottie - Well, his name is actually Michael, but we haven't really worked up to a first-name basis yet. But he always gets the chipotle steak and cheese or a meatball sub. And we flirt! He's quite awkward really, but I think he works for Worley-Parsons, so my guess is that he's really just a cute computer/tech geek who learned to dress better than most of his compatriots.

- You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. When applied to the workplace, it means simply that your employees with work a whole lot harder for someone who notices and congratulates a job well done than they will for someone who simply criticises. You think that's obvious? I wish.

- The best part of Christmas music is that it focuses my thoughts off my job and on to the reality that God became flesh and dwelt among us. I will miss this aspect of Christmas once the season is over.

- I find that many times in life, I try to make myself responsible for things that God has not asked me to care for, and when I try to make those things my responsibility, the burden is so great that it becomes debilitating. However, for those things that are truly a task given to me, I have plenty of energy, resources, and strength to see them through to completion. Here's to a little more slacking off in the New Year!

- The song that I end up singing once a day, on average: "Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by. Trusting him whate're befall. Trusting Jesus, that is all." Here's to a little more trusting in the New Year.

- Faith is an amazing thing. As a Christian, I have banked everything on the surety of God's promise that my acceptance of his son's death, burial, and resurrection on my behalf is all I need to have any hope before his throne. And yet, as I consider the reality of death (my aunt is very sick with cancer, and two people close to me have had miscarriages lately), I find myself not doubting the reality of that hope, but very mindful that faith is indeed a gift. What if we are actually the object of a cosmic joke? I can't help but think that as various saints approach eternity, they view it with some trepidation. Even as a horse-healthy 23-year-old, I find myself thinking "what if I was wrong about all this?" And then I find myself echoing the sentiment, "my heart is leaning on the word, the written Word of God", and I realize again what a gift faith is. The companion thought to this thought is, "what if heaven isn't really all God made me think it would be?" So often, the foundational fear is, "what if God has lied?". That's when I realize again what the reality of faith is: I have placed all my trust in the promise that God has given to me that he will do so much more than save me from hell. The problem is that I don't know what the so much more will look like, and when all I know here is already tainted by sin, how can I conceive of something totally beyond my present reality? How can I understand sinlessness? Nevertheless, as a child of God, I will swing out onto eternity on that hope.

- I hate the humiliation of my job. I am more educated than this job calls for. I am starting to have some success as a professional musician. People probably think I'm a high school dropout with no life instead of a college graduate from a fairly prestigious institution. Nevertheless, Jesus both created the universe and holds it together, and he was a carpenter, and he never complained. I guess I should shut up.

- Subway is really stingy with its cheese portions. Nope, it's not just you.

Well, I've managed to burn an hour. It's now 3:54, and I'm a little more sleepy than I was, so I guess I'll try my luck, shut off my computer, and roll over. If there's another post beginning at 4:30, you'll know what happened :)

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!