Monday, February 16, 2009

Our New Blog

My husband and I started a new blog, so I'll be posting there from now on. Come visit!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Messianic Jewish

First on our list was a Messianic Jewish congregation. We had wanted to visit for quite some time, so we cleared a Saturday (Shabbat, or Sabbath) to attend the worship service. The building is modern with some tell-tale signs of Jewish influence, like the giant menorah sculpture on the front lawn and the beautiful Ark of the Covenant replica in the sanctuary.

The service began with singing and blessings. The elders, wearing yamakas and prayer shawls, blessed the large scroll with the Torah and it came out of the Ark. Then the rabbi paraded the Torah through the aisles, while celebratory music played. People brought their own copies of Scripture, touched it to the scroll, and kissed it. Torah readings commenced, one a somber reading, one sung in Hebrew (incredibly beautiful), and a New Testament reading by the mother of a baby receiving dedication that day. The elders extended prayer shawls over the children as they were blessed and dismissed to "Shabbat school." The rest of the singing was half in Hebrew and half in English, and interspersed with prayer and responsive readings. During the songs, a group of women led dancing. A dancer myself, I was deeply moved. And at one point, nearly half the congregation was dancing together, arms around each other, celebrating! The prayer books are in Hebrew on the right page, and English and phonetic Hebrew on the left page (we got a little confused at first until we remembered to start flipping the book from the right, not the left!).

A guest rabbi spoke on the importance of welcoming Yeshua (Jesus) home. He related his personal story of conversion from Judaism and the hope he had found in Yeshua the Messiah. He spoke of healing and reconciliation in very meaningful ways. We found his message particularly poignant for our lives.

We felt God moving here in a spirit of joy and healing. We loved the celebratory atmosphere of the whole service and the family-oriented feeling of the congregation. There was something almost mystical about the experience... perhaps because so much was new or unfamiliar to us... but I think it was more than that. I felt a homesickness for Israel that brought me to tears. Having visited Jerusalem at age 17, I often think back to being there. But this was a homesickness for the Israel, and world, that will be whole again when Christ returns... When we welcome Yeshua home.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Church Tour

My husband and I have decided in the past few months to visit several churches in the area. We want to see how God is moving in the Church, how local bodies minister, and how we can grow in the process. We could be critical of each place, but that's not the point. I'll be blogging about our "church tour" here and intentionally focusing on the positive aspects.

So far, the process has been fascinating. We're excited to see what happens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cool Things I've Done in Houston, Part Two

31. James Turrell Skyspace
32. Dynamo games
33. Astros games
34. Miller Outdoor Theater
35. Kemah Boardwalk
36. Lights in Hermann Park (hope it comes back!)
37. Greek Fest
38. International Festival
39. Mad Potter
40. MFA Iranian Film Festival
41. River Oaks Theater
42. Bayou Bend
43. Lawndale Art Center
44. Contemporary Craft Museum
45. Theater District Day
46. Museum District Day
47. 11th Street Park
48. Memorial Park
49. Houston Arboretum
50. Old Town Spring
51. Brazos Bend State Park
52. Chinatown
53. Forbidden Gardens
54. Movies the Store
55. Dickens on the Strand

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Houston List - A Work in Progress

My husband and I started a list tonight of things we still want to do in Houston. We've done so many cool things already, but so much left to do! If you have any suggestions for obscure/eccentric activities, please comment!

* The Orange Show
* Museum of Printing History
* Aeros Game
* Comets Game
* Buffalo Soldiers Museum
* Beer Can House
* Mad Potter (I've been there, he hasn't)
* Wine2Wine (make your own wine place... probably a racket but sounds fun)
* Domy Bookstore (never actually been inside)
* Farmer's market
* Bayou City Art Festival
* Italian, Chinese, and other cultural festivals (only been to Greek Fest and I-Fest)
* Attend a service at Beth Shalom (Messianic Jewish) and the Greek Orthodox church
* Ride paddle boats at Hermann Park
* Ice skate at Discovery Green (no one has done this yet!)
* Canoe down the bayou
* HMNS observatory

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finish This Sentence

(thanks Daniel)

i am: hopeful.
i think: about everything all the time.
i know: that Christ loves me most.
i want: to change the world.
i have: an incredible church community.
i wish: i didn't have chronic health issues.
i hate: racism and sexism and a bunch of other 'isms.
i miss: my sister and my parents.
i fear: losing my independence.
i feel: overwhelmed a lot of the time.
i hear: city noises that make me smile.
i smell: city smells that don't make me smile.
i crave: chocolate, fairly constantly.
i search: for new opportunities and adventures.
i wonder: what my kids will be like.
i regret: regretting anything.
i love: my fiance and everyone in the world.
i ache: for marriage.
i care: about people.
i always: have trouble sleeping.
i am not: a quitter.
i believe: that Love wins.
i dance: because it makes me feel free.
i sing: at church and with my fiance.
i don’t always: give people the benefit of a doubt.
i fight: injustice.
i write: from my soul.
i win: scrabble, a lot of the time.
i lose: risk and trivial pursuit.
i never: smoke.
i confuse: people who put me in a box.
i listen: to my mom.
i can usually be found: trying to solve the world's problems.
i am scared: of never finding complete physical healing.
i need: respect.
i am happy about: Life, Love, and hope.

Okay, your turn!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Three Funerals and a Wedding

In the last two weeks I've been affected by three deaths... one, the son of a woman in my church; two, my mom's first cousin; and three, my mom's first cousin once-removed.

Meanwhile, my wedding is three months from today.

I'm having a hard time taking it all in and making sense of it. It's hard for me to understand why my life is so idyllic--great family and fiance, great opportunities, great support. All three of these people died in tragic circumstances and unmet potential. For the funeral in my church I helped with childcare and watched the kids run around and play with such innocence, and saw their parents pick them up after the service with blurry eyes and hold them really tight. The day after that funeral I attended a baby shower for a child who entered the world the next day.

In my cousin's funeral today I cried and cried because of our utter shock about her death. It was totally unexpected. The pastor prayed that we would remember the good things about her life that would make us a better person. She encouraged us to grieve together. I only saw this cousin once a year or so, but every time I did she spoke of making her life better for herself, and she was trying. I left the family post-gathering to spend the evening with my fiance, whose birthday is today. We went downtown with friends and laughed and walked around and celebrated his life.

I won't be attending the third funeral. I never met this cousin and it will simply be a small graveside service. My mom and a handful of family will be there, mourning his death while I celebrate with my fiance. She said it should be my priority to spend the day with my him and his family, in honor of his birthday.

Hebrews and Native Americans and probably many other cultures conceptualize time in a circle, as opposed to our Western linear ideas. This makes more sense, and seems more Biblical, and feels more like God. Babies are born in our lives the same week 17 year olds are killed. Loved ones celebrate their birthday on days we lose other loved ones. God notices the sparrow that falls and the sparrow that hatches.

Today the pastor said she doesn't believe that God takes us into death, but when we die He is there to receive us. I agree with that. I don't believe that God kills kids or takes people before their time. But I do believe He has this great, incomprehensible balance in the created world. We have to have death and birth, and somehow even the most tragic deaths are beautiful. Life is short enough and long enough all at the same time, and God grieves when people die and rejoices when people are born.

All the things I'm feeling today, He feels them all, in much bigger ways, and that's what I'm clinging to right now.