Thursday, September 25, 2008

Four Days of Victory.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.—You knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Lamentations 3:26; Hebrews 10:34-36; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Monday night at my small group meeting, we talked about returning from exile. See, we are living in Post-Katrina New Orleans, and have been displaced as a body of believers ever since the storm hit. Now, over 3 years later, we are on the verge of moving into our new building and being all together in our new home for the first time. It is a very exciting time...and a very sobering one. We aren't the same people or the same church we were 3+ years ago. Time, trials, and a somewhat nomadic existence have taken it's toll. Some of us are shining ever more brightly for the trial, but me...well, the shine's come off.

During the course of the meeting, we were asked to describe our Post-Katrina walk with the Lord in one word. The word I chose was "discouragement". Even now, saying (or typing) that word causes a lump to form in my throat and tears to sting my eyes.

The truth has that effect sometimes.

But God...

Over the past few months, I've seen the depths of my discouragement and it's effects. More than that, I've seen how it has caused me to rebel against and accuse God. I've seen how this heart condition has effected my thoughts, my habits, my motives, my responses to circumstances and people. And, I've tried to change. I've made vows, laid out plans, tried to talk myself into feeling and thinking and behaving differently. And when all of that failed miserably...I prayed.

I cried out to God and asked him to intervene. I asked Him to deliver me. I asked Him to change me. I asked Him to restore and revive me. Then I worshipped Him and thanked Him for keeping my heart tender despite my exile and rebellion...and for His faithfulness despite my own unfaithfulness. Finally, I thanked Him for what I knew He was going to do.

I prayed that several times a week for months, seeing no fruit, seeing no change, yet still feeling an intense desire to plead my case with my Deliverer. And then...this week...fruit.

This week I've seen the realization of all of those prayers and cries for mercy and help. This week, I've seen obedience. This week, I've seen change. And, I am so thankful!

He hears! He knows! And, He never forsakes His own!

For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It'll be like a vacation with my sweetie!!

I'm just so excited, I can't stand it. Within the next month or so, I have not one, not two, but three photoshoots lined up with couples from my church! Me and my new love (a.k.a. my camera) will get to traipse around town with dear friends and pose them and try to capture cool angles and sweet expressions and silly movements. It'll be just like having our own living dolls to play with.

I wonder if they'll let me dress them up in different outfits?


In the meantime, my sweetie and I have had great fun roaming the neighborhood near my office and finding all sorts of things to add to our My Pictures directory (which is growing exponentially, I might add!).

Like this...

And this...

I should probably take pictures of some more masculine things...or just abandon the whole "my camera is my man" thing because its. just. wierd.

Or so my friends tell me.

The Hope of Holiness

The "openness" that is often praised among Christians as a sign of true humility may sometimes be an oblique effort to prove that there is no such thing as a saint after all, and that those who believe that it is possible in the twentieth century to live a holy life are only deceiving themselves. When we enjoy listening to some Christian confess his weaknesses and failures, we may be eager only to convince ourselves that we are not so bad after all. We sit on the edge of our chairs waiting to grasp at an excuse for continuing to do what we have made up our minds long ago to do anyway. The Lord is ready to forgive sin at any moment and to make strong servants out of the worst of us. But we must believe it; we must come to Him in faith for forgiveness and deliverance and then go out to do the work He has given us to do. "Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1 Cor 13:6 AV). Let us be willing to call iniquity what is really iniquity, rather than to call it weakness, temperament, failure, hangups, or to fall back on the tired excuse, "It's just the way I am."

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me. (Ps 51:10 AV)

--Elisabeth Eliot

Monday, September 22, 2008

Adventures in Bridesmaiding

My "middle" brother got married this weekend. I say "middle" because he is #3 of us 5, so he's the cool, creamy center to our oreo cookie...if people were oreo cookies...and oreo cookies had 2 layers of cookie on each side.

Ok, I didn't think that analogy through very well...I apologize.

Anyhow, he got married and, as the only sister, I'm legally obligated to stand in my brother's weddings. But, as a not-so-thin woman, I'm also genetically predisposed to fear bridesmaids dresses, fittings, high heels, and walking down aisles in unflattering apparel. It's a scientific fact! So, from the moment I got tapped to be in the wedding party, I started hyperventilating and I don't think that stopped until about 2 hours before the wedding.

Fun, right?

First, there was the dread of the dress and the shoes and the eyes on the fat, unwed older sister.

Then, there was the dread of the actual dress which was sleeveless and accentuated the midsection. (I comforted myself with the thought that at least the color was flattering on me.)

After this, there were the shoes. Four inch, skinny heels with nothing but a beaded band across the toes and an ankle strap to keep me in them. Being the good sport that I am, I tried them on. I tried to walk in them. I tried not to look terrified. I tried not to break an ankle (but thought, for a second that if I did, I might get out of this whole wedding thing).

Finally, there was the lump that formed in my throat at the thought of walking an aisle for someone else's wedding...again.

But because I loved my brother and his soon-to-be bride...I quickly got over my sad, sorry self and said yes to everything but the shoes. Which, doll that she is, my soon-to-be sister-in-law was fine with.

So, two showers, 200 ribbon-embellished invitations and 300 ribbon and charm embellished favors was the weekend of the wedding. I'd found shoes I wouldn't die in and make-up I thought would accentuate my eyes and set off to go get my hair done.

I left 90 minutes later, on the verge of tears and looking like I was ready for my Senior 1990. Or, perhaps a nice potluck at the Senior Center.

At least it only cost me $30.

I thought this would be the easy part. Certainly easier than the shoes and easier than the awful dress fittings out in the middle of the bridal shop. But, no. This was worse. I got back to my car, a mere 90 minutes away from having to take photos with the whole bridal party and looked in the rear view mirror. Then I cried. I went into the salon with visions of Christina Applegate's soft, wavy, tousled bob in my head and I came out looking like a really bad dance picture from my high school yearbook. All I needed were giant, poofy sleeves...and mood lipstick...and perhaps some neon blue eyeliner.

When I got to my destination, I walked to the house in the rain. I didn't care that my hair got wet, because, hey...things really couldn't get worse at this point. The other bridesmaids tried to be gracious and say kind things about the way I looked...but I wasn't buying it. Only my sister-in-law was willing to speak the truth. She took one look at me and said something like "You paid someone to do that to you?"

Filled with gratitude for someone who felt my pain, I gave her a kiss and a hug.

Thankfully, a neighbor lady who (forgive me for speaking so bluntly) seemed to have no concept of fashion or style for herself came to my rescue. She had done a really cute up do for one of the other bridesmaids and was more than happy to help me out of my coiffure quandary. In the end, I was very pleased with my hair. It wasn't the tousled bob I was hoping for, but it also most certainly wasn't bad 90's prom pic hair either...and I was glad.

I gave her a kiss and a hug, too.

After that, it was smooth sailing. The wedding was beautiful and the reception was a blast. Oh, and I have another sister.

Sweet! hair has fully recovered.

Thanks for asking!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Picture Post

Yeah, predicted, I've spent most of my spare time with my beloved new dSLR. I'm not know...I like to give 100% to all I do!

Yeah, that's it...

Plus, it's been good because I go out on my breaks at work and walk around to take pictures. Walking...well...that's exercise.

Exercise = good.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

So anyway, here are a few of the pictures I've taken whilst simultaneously doing the good thing called exercise.

A song.

Out of the depths, O Lord, I cry to You
When I am tempted to despair
Though I might fail to trust Your promises
You never fail to hear my prayer

And if You judged my sin
I’d never stand again
But I see mercy in Your hands

So more than watchmen for the morning
I will wait for You, my God
When my fears come with no warning
In Your Word I’ll put my trust
When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit
I will wait,
I will wait
for You

The secret mysteries belong to You
We only know what You reveal
And all my questions that are unresolved
Don’t change the wisdom of Your will

In every trial and loss
My hope is in the cross
Where Your compassions never fail

So more than watchmen for the morning
I will wait for You, my God
When my fears come with no warning
In Your Word I’ll put my trust
When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit
I will wait,
I will wait
for You

"Out of the Depths" from Psalms
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A poem

Joy is Thy gift, O Father!
Thou wouldst not have us pine;
In darkest hours Thy comfort
Doth aye most brightly shine;
Ah, then how oft Thy voice
Hath shed its sweetness o'er me,
And opened heaven before me,
And bid my heart rejoice! --PAUL GERHARDT

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello, Love!

Friends, family, flower beds, zoo animals, and strangers on the street, beware!

I am now the owner of a Digital SLR camera. The world may never see my face without a camera attached to it again!

I promise to use flash as little as possible.

I played around with it during my lunch break and...well...honestly...I'd marry it. I would. I'd marry it and take it on a Paris honeymoon and have it's little camera babies.
Um...or maybe I'll just try to not break it and take some half-way decent pictures with it. That's what normal people would say, right?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Evacuation: The rest of the story.

Monday Morning
We rose early, checked out of the motel and headed over to Nanan's in Plaucheville. Nanan is my 80 year old great-aunt and my maternal grandfather's only sister. Her given name is Grace, and I really like that.

After we got to Nanan's, my brother's decided to fix us some breakfast. I figured this could take a while, so I took a walk through the town. I headed out of my aunt’s property and down the road, to the cemetery. Now, I realize that for most people, a cemetery isn’t a big attraction. But for an amateur genealogist visiting a town that is over 200 years old, the cemetery is the place to go.

Several generations of my family lived their whole lives in this small town, and are bured in this small cemetery. Achille & Ella Soldani. Edovic & Florida Lemoine. Alcadus Rabalais. Estine & Angela Lemoine. All lived their entire lives in this growing village, just like Nanan.

She was born just down the road, or “Down Choupique” as they say (meaning “down Bayou Choupique”). She was the last child and only girl in her family and she is my maternal grandfather’s sister. She married my grandfather’s best friend, another local boy and left home for the first time on her honeymoon, traveling all the way to Monroe (about 2 hours away). They bought a house in Plaucheville, which is just about five minutes up the Bayou and had 2 children, one boy and one girl. Her husband served in the military and then became Postmaster of Plaucheville, then he came down with kidney disease and died in his 30s. She remained a widow for until her children were grown, then married another local man (who is also a relative of mine) and he moved into the house we are calling home for now, with her. A few years back, Nanan became a widow again, is now a great-grandmother and still rarely goes far from home.

I don’t blame her.

Her house is small but comfortable. It is very quaint and as Plaucheville has grown, she really has everything she needs right within walking distance. When I was growing up, Plaucheville was a few family homes, many fields of corn, sugar cane, soybean and cotton, and pastures for cows. They also had an elementary and secondary school, the church, church school and the post office my Uncle L.V. used to run. Later in my teens, they added Bordelon’s Superette, a small grocery store/gas station. Now, the post office is a tanning salon, Bordelon’s has been joined by Pilgreens across the street, across from that is a beauty parlor which features manicures and pedicures, and they have a branch of Cottonport Bank, a pharmacy, an embroidery shop, and some apartments. It’s almost “town”.

But it is still light-years away from what “town” looks like back home. Everytime I come here, I just breathe easier. I love the quiet and the wide-open feel. I love how simple life seems here. I know it’s not, really. People here still struggle with things like we do in the City, and have family drama, and money problems, and all of that, but the slower pace is just really nice.

So is having a neighbor with a front-loading tractor...but I'll get to that later.

Monday afternoon
It started to rain...and rain...and rain. By 6pm, it was storming pretty heavily and we were without power. At some point during the height of the storm, the neighbor's tree fell and knocked the powerlines down, which also ripped the electrical lines and panel box from Nanan's house. As a safety precaution, we called the police to inform them of the potentially dangerous situation and they came out with a few guys from the VFD to check things out. On their way out, one VFD truck got stuck the the bayou that runs under Nanan's driveway. This provided us with a few hours of entertainment and light courtesy of the headlights from several other emergency response vehicles and a large fire truck. In the end, they left but the truck stayed stuck.

Tuesday Morning
There were more attempts to free the stuck truck, but in the end, it was a neighbor with a front-loading tractor that saved the day. As the neighbor lifted the pretty banged up vehicle from the bayou, my brother Brad sang "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy".

We all laughed. And, I agreed. :)

The rest of our time was spent sitting on the porch, enjoying the cool breeze and coffee from Nanan's old-time drip pot. Oh, and I had a grand old time raking Nanan's yard. I had a grand old time just being there, really...even without the modern conveniences. I enjoyed the quiet, the simplicity, the stillness, the way everyone knows each other, the Superette that opened though they had no power not because they could make some cold hard cash but because their friends and family needed what they had. I can understand why Nanan never chose to live anywhere else.

Wednesday Morning
Day 3 without internet or electricity or phones...and doing quiet nicely, actually. Well, except for the disturbing dream that stuck with me into the morning...and the flooded driveway.

Yep. Though we had the all clear to return home, there was no way out. So we dripped some more coffee and I raked some more leaves and then we sat on the porch and enjoyed the breeze. We were all wondering if we might not be flooded in through the end of the week, until we saw Nanan's son-in-law in his big truck plow through the flood waters. He drove our cars across a neighbor's property which was basically just sloshy mud held together by grass and tree roots. But he got them out without too much damage to the yard and we were on our way home.

To what, we had no idea.

While we were in Plaucheville, we had only a few scattered text messages to connect us to the outside world. No phones. No news. No clue what home looked like, if we had power or running water, and when we might expect to have them again. But home was where we headed...and prayed for the best.

As it turned out, we made it home and all but cable/internet had been restored. I was able to shower and sleep in my own bed...and see the kiddos the next day. In fact, I had the kiddos Thursday-Sunday, and never have I been so glad to negotiate a tantrum or wipe a hiney or sleep on only 6 inches of my queen size bed.