Friday, July 31, 2009

the practice of the presence of god...

i recently read this little book while i was on vacation. it is a short read, 60 pages at most, but the contents within were priceless. through these conversations and letters with brother lawrence, i was reminded that i live in presence of god, the god, the creator of all, the one in control. i don't just live in his presence when i am praying, reading my bible, or at church. because of the cross, i am in his presence all the time and i can know him!!

this book challenged me as to what i think about, what do i fill the dead time with, where do i let my mind wander? i found that i all too often rather than having a conversation with my god, i would rather have on music that just lets me escape. or i will daydream or replay a conversation. but i realized how unfulfilling that is when i could be spending time with my lord, the only one that can satisfy me. i mean after all, my entire purpose of existence is to glorify him and advance his kingdom, so why has this not been a priority before. why do i only spend time with him for a few minutes in the morning and then go on with my day and think of him occasionally.

this was easy to do on vacation, but now i am trying to figure out to do it when i am busy with life. i need your help jesus! i want to walk with you throughout the day! i want my thoughts to dwell on you! i bet i would worry and fear much less...

you should read this. it is worth it!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

the valley of vision...a collection of puritan prayers and devotions

this little book of prayers is incredible! what a great resource. i have never grown up with liturgy and have always been one for praying my own prayers, but i have learned much from this book! there is a collection of tons of old prayers and let me tell you, these dead people knew how to pray!! i have cried so many times reading these and praying these! the lord has used them to comfort me and challenge me. these prayers are all oriented toward god and it has made me realize how me oriented mine are or the selfish motives i have behind my prayers. these really are so powerful! you should order this right now! you will not regret it!

austin's own frozen banana stand...

yes it is true - a real frozen banana stand! for those of you who are arrested development fans, you understand my excitement! for those that do not understand my excitement, that is okay. you can be excited for a different reason - they are soooooo good!

it literally is a banana on a spoon that is frozen (much healthier than a popsicle) and then dipped in chocolate, vanilla, or peanut butter or all 3. then they sprinkle a variety of toppings on in it and it is a party in your mouth. i went yesterday and i got the afternoon delight, which was dipped in vanilla, drizzled with chocolate and peanut butter and then sprinkled with nuts and graham crackers! it was pure awesomeness! you can get a whole or a halfsie. this banana was my dinner so i went whole. they also have some vegan options for choose that lifestyle.

where is this great place you ask. it is in a movable shack on barton springs, just east of lamar, in the parking lot of jack and adam's. the hours are a little different, so check the website before you go. you can also follow them on twitter @bananarchy_atx for fun things like arrested development viewings along with your bananas!

word of warning: cash only folks! but "there is always $$ in the banana stand."

oh and one more cool thing, as i was doing research on this, i found out that one of the girls who helped start this is using some of the $ earned to raise money for her world race project, which is a missions deal for 9 months (i think).

anyway, it is cool and there is NO reason why you should not try this place out!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

fx...week great is our god!!!

so today was our first sunday of fx and it went well... INCREDIBLE! i mean production and program ran smoothly, but something way bigger was happening in that room. you could feel it! i had goosebumps and tears in my eyes many times as i watched kids dance with joy in the aisles and parents jump and do motions to songs with their kids. kids and parents raised their voices to the king together today and his name was lifted high!!

our bottom line today was, "when we think we know better than God, we reject him as king." we talked about how Israel so desired a king because they did not think God was enough and then we talked about how when saul did not wait for samuel (and the lord and his timing) he thought he knew better than god. next week, we will talk about king david, and then on to jesus as king. our hope is to build to the climax about what it looks like to live as a part fo god's kingdom.

thank you for your prayers! please keep praying for families, in our church or yours. one of the coolest moments for me today was when we were singing God of this City together. how cool for parents and leaders to be singing that with and over the kids. as we were singing “greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city,” it hit me. these kids, this next generation will be the ones that these greater things will be done through. these kids are part of the future of a redeemed and renewed austin, and we are getting to sing about it now!!! can’t wait to see what these guys are like in 10 years!

please pray for parents this week, even right now that they will continue to talk about what they learned today. that they will apply it to their family's lives. pray that the Lord surrounds them with his word and truth so much that they cannot help but talk about it! pray against feelings of inadequacy or defeat! the enemy would want nothing more than for parents to feel that they are no good at discipling their kids so that will quit. or to feel so uncomfortable that they give up. pray that God will ignite something in these families these next few weeks!!

and if you are in austin, come join us for fx!! you don't want to miss what God is doing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

the family experience...a catalyst

for those of you not in austin, you may not have heard, but for the next four sundays at church, we are having a family worship service called KidStuff FX. this has been a long time in the making and we are excited!! sure there is a huge castle in our foyer, some characters and lots of bright colorful shirts running around, but our excitement for fx is bigger than that. i am excited for parents to see exactly what we do in kidstuff so they can know what in the world their kids are talking about, but that still is not the driving force. i am more excited about the possibility of creating an environment where the family can encounter christ together. i recently returned from a mission trip to the dominican republic. i led a team of 2 families with elementary school kids. one of my favorite things about the trip was seeing the family serve together, struggle together and spur one another on. the bonds built on that trip between the families run deep! i am actually a little jealous of it, and wish my family had the opportunity to do the same. conversations happened that would not have otherwise. parents got to coach their kids through teachable moments, discuss highs and lows and even REAP through scripture together. it was incredible!

the longer i do children’s ministry, the more i want to foster situations like this. that is what we are most excited about for fx. the whole family can come together to worship. they can sing songs of praise to God together (and even talk more about what they mean afterward). How cool for kids to see their parents worship and vice versa! What an incredible opportunity they have to use that to teach them more about how and why we worship. they will also get to enter into the kids world and see the skits they talk about each week. This might help some things make sense! smile And then they all get to enter into a Bible story time that everyone understands. And how great to be able to talk about that for the rest of the week. Imagine families later talking more about their favorite part of the skit with thier kids, or the hardest part of the Bible story. Or even being able to hold each other accountable for what they have learned and apply the scripture. oh I get excited just thinking about it!

my prayer is that during these next four weeks of fx, the Lord will change some families lives for eternity! that a culture to discuss and experience spiritual things will be created or enhanced in each family. that fx will be a catalyst for families on mission. a family that worships together becomes a family that lives on mission together. can you imagine the future of the church if your kids start thinking and living missionally in elementary school? greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city…

please join me in praying for fx and in fighting for our families!! we will be doing fx, july 26th, august 2nd, august 9th, and august 16th.

more info can be found on our website as well! here is a video we made for church a few weeks ago about fx:

KidStuff FX from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

focusing on the cross...

so lately as the lord has been healing me, he continues to reveal to me that the gospel is just as much for me today as it was when i became a believer 20 plus years ago. in fact, i realize my need for it more now than ever. if i am not reminding myself of the gospel, the good news, then my life quickly spirals out of control. either with pride and arrogance or despair and despondency. i have been reading a reason (a chapter) from this book each day and meditating on it. it has been so helpful to spend time literally dwelling at the foot of the cross each day. i highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

i need your love...

so recently, as i have learned that my value is not set in people, i have been having to relearn to love people. some are easier than others, but i have really been struggling. you see, when i place my value and worth in what others think of me, one of the many side affects is that i cannot love them without some sort of selfish motive on my end. the lord has been revealing to me the difference between my selfish love (if we can call it love) and his never ending love. and i keep trying to love people out of my own strength and flesh, but i can't. so the other day as i was dwelling on his love, the stark contrast between mine and his was obvious. here is what the lord revealed to me. and it is written to him.

you are love. if i abide in you then you abide in me. and i need your love in me. your love does not put up defenses and analyze.

your love is patient. i have felt this as i have failed over and over again and i stumble constantly. you never give up on me.

your love is kind. not plotting or sarcastic like mine. it is your kindness that leads us to repentance.

true love is not jealous. well i think we know that my love fails there constantly - if i need someone to value me, i am of course jealous if they are valuing someone else over me.

your love does not brag and is not arrogant. unlike mine that likes for everyone to know just how much i have sacrificed or given up for them and then i think i am better because of it.

your love is not rude. my love is rude because it will do whatever necessary to be noticed, even at the expense of others.

your love does not seek its own. in contrast, mine, even under the mask of servanthood, is for my own name so that people will think well of me.

your love is not provoked or easily angered. and as we know, i am angry a lot and good at holding grudges internally toward those who have wronged me.

your love does not keep a record of wrongs. i, however, love to keep a record of wrongs so that i can look down on others and feel better about myself and my sin. at least i am not as bad as they are or at least i do not struggle like they do. i am also really good at justifying my sin and excusing it, but holding others' sin over their head.

your love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. my love does two things. it either overlooks unrughteousness and may even rejoice in it so that i can be loved and accepted. or it rejoices that someone else is struggling with unrighteousness so that i feel better about my own. rejoicing in the truth is hard and it may take awhile. it sounds great, but all too often i am not willing to make the sacrifice or time and energy.

your love bears all things. my love gets tired of others and their needs really quickly (unless it is making me look good). my love does not like to inconvenienced.

your love believes all things. mine is skeptical and second guessing, and constantly playing out the worst possible scenarios in my head. all the while, underestimating the worth of each person and forgetting that your love is working in ways i cannot see.

your love hopes. my love has no hope apart from you and cannot offer any sustainable hope to anyone.

your love endures all things. my love wants the quick fix and i not willing to suffer long for anyone else.

your love never fails. mine has yet to succeed.

lord if they will know us by our love, i need your love now more than ever!!

1 john 4:7-21

1 corinthians 13:4-8

we're back...

thank you guys for your prayers. after leaving the makarios house at 8:30am yesterday morning, we finally made it home last night around midnight. aside from being a long day, the travels went really smooth! we were all exhausted last night and it was good to sleep in our beds, but i think we all could say that we miss it. what we experienced in the DR changed us! there will probably be a few more blogs in the near future about what the lord has taught me on this trip. thanks for your support and prayers.

for more blogs about our trip, check the wright family blog.

Friday, July 10, 2009 six in the DR

beach day. today was our final full day here and we celebrated at the beach!! on our way to the beach we stopped at a bakery for some brunch and it was awesome! after that we spent the rest of the day in the sun! you can definitely tell in my pictures that i am "sun kissed."

after playing at the beach, we had dinner with the mak staff. not only was the food good, but the company was incredible. there were many laughs and great fellowship shared over this meal. have i mentioned that i love the staff??
here is a ladies pic.
glad D got to come with our team and help the mak team. it was fun having him here with us.

when we got back to the house, we had our devo time. and it was sweet! tears come to my eyes as i think of the things the Lord is teaching these kids (and me). tonight we read isaiah 42:11-12 and talked about how big our God is and that he holds the all the oceans in his hands. we can hold ocean water in our hands and no one will notice a difference, but if God dipped his hands in the ocean, it would be empty. and that as big as he is, he still cares for his sheep. that we have no need to worry. it was a great followup to playing in the ocean. the kids had even mentioned that there were times today that the waves hit them hard and knocked them over and even scared them. we then used that to talk about how powerful God is, that holding all that water in his hands is no big deal to him.

then we spent some time reading psalm 146 and praising the Lord! one of our kids said that it brough her great comfort to know that the Lord reigns forever!! i cannot describe to you the privilege it is to get to talk about the truth with these kids. as i try to break it down for them i am often taught a lesson as well! "out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger." psalm 8:2

"how blessed is he whose help is the God of jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God. who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever. who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. the lord sets the prisioners free." psalm 146:5-7

the lord is doing great things in the this country!! please continue to pray for the makarios staff as they are poured out as a drink offering here. have i mentioned that i love it here? and if it is up to me, i will back here lots!

thank you guys for your prayers! we leave tomorrow to head home. please pray for safe travel for us. much love from the dominican republic!

Thursday, July 9, 2009 five in the DR

today was our final day at the school. we had to get to the school early this morning and i thought for sure i was going to have my chance to see the chickens killed, but alas, no luck. we had our final graduation ceremony for the second class. then we went out to a field and played soccer and frisbee with the kids. it was super hot, but really fun! again it was cool to watch our kids jump in with the other kids.

here are our kids with our gua gua (van) driver, juan. he is the best!

jumping rope with new friends.

then we went to see the new makarios house that is being built. the structure is fully done, but they need more funding to finish it out. it is going to be pretty stinking sweet!

here is everyone on the roof. it will be awesome!

the third floor (roof) is my favorite!

see why i love the roof so much!

after touring the new house, we went down to the malecon and walked around. then we got ice cream as a treat. it was not only sweet, but the ice cream shop had air conditioning, something we have not experienced since we have been here.

tonight we dwelt on psalm 8 and the majesty of the lord. we had the kids read it tonight (which is pretty sweet. if you read the psalm you will see why) and then we spent some time looking at the moon and stars (v. 3-4) and talked about how big god is and how powerful he is to control all those things. we did have 2 little ones fall asleep during the devo and prayer. the cool rooftop in the dark was too much to resist. what a sweet time!

thanks for your prayers. please pray for us as we relax and debrief at the beach tomorrow. i know i know, what do we need prayer for at the beach. pray that as we relax we will be able to process and debrief what we have learned about, especially with the kiddos. that we won't miss out on anything god has shown us here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 four in the DR

serving. as you can see in these pics, the kids have been active participants in serving on this trip. they are not just observers. sure it has taken some creativity on our part to find ways that they can serve, but it has been cool to watch them do it. and even cooler to hear them talk about it at night during devo time. their highs and lows have been pretty stinkin' cool!!

one of my favorite stories today was a kid named isai. he really wanted to be friends with one of our kids. he spoke a little english and made a huge effort to get to know him. he even was helping him speak in spanish. it was incredible!

today, we did the second bible camp for the second class. it ran much smoother than monday. we taught the lesson, made bracelets, played a game (competition is always a hit), and tie dyed shirts again! the tie dye has been a big hit even among the makarios staff.

speaking of makarios staff, the Lord has some studs working down here! they love people well! more than the groups that come in, they love the kids and their families well! it has been super challenging to watch them. to see them go into the villages and know the kids and families and all that is going on in their lives. to watch them be so patient with kids who constantly push the limits. they truly are lights to the people here. everyone knows them in the villages. they love because He has first loved them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 three in the DR

today we had our graduation ceremony for one class. families came out to see their kids graduate from bible class. their teachers were pretty proud too.

hanging out in chichigua. one of the villages that makarios works with.
again it was cool to watch our kids get out of their comfort zone and play with the kids. from soccer to jump rope to tag. its not easy, but it is awesome to see.

my little buddy in the red shirt that i am holding is wilson. wilson is known for his big heart! wilson also happens to be the child that kidstuff sponsors to go to makarios. our kids offering each month goes to support wilson so that he can attend colegio makarios. it was really sweet to meet him face to face and play with him today. i just couldn't help but pray for this little guy as i hugged him over and over again.

in the evenings, as a team we have been reading through and discussing different psalms that talk about the Lord's power and majesty. tonight we ready through psalm 29 and it was awesome!

thank you for your prayers. tomorrow we are doing the bible camp again for the other bible class. pray that the gospel will fall on fertile soil tomorrow!

Monday, July 6, 2009 two in the DR...

today was our first day of bible camp. we headed to the school to setup our stuff and get things ready. (part of my preparation was going with robin to get some "fresh chicken." freshly killed and plucked! we have come good footage of this, but none from my camera, unfortunately.)
it was really cool to watch our kids serve the kids in colegio makarios. they of course were a bit timid at first. after all these kids look different and speak a totally different language than they do, but by the end of the day they were playing with each other and trying to learn speak each other's language. we experienced a lot of "firsts" today and these kids did great!! it will be great to see how their confidence in what the Lord can do through them grows throughout the rest of this week! we took some time at the end of the day to tie dye some shirts with the mak staff and our kids (an activity we did with the makarios kids earlier that day).when we got back to the house, we sharpened tons of pencils for the school. i am apparently a weakling, as i came away with a large blister.

then we walked to a little store to buy some carbonated beverages.

tomorrow we are having a graduation ceremony with the kids and their parents. pray for the families as they get to hear their kids share the gospel with them as they share what they learned. also, pray for our kids (and us) as they get out of their comfort zone again.

one of our little guys said today that he was going to wear the bracelet we made so the he would remember the dominican republic. he was also excited to get home and tell one of his friends all about it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009 one in the DR

we made it safe and sound last night. we had a fun adventure and long in the miami airport. after chillin in the admirals club, our flight got delayed 2 more hours due to weather. but we were a little skeptical about the actual reason. robbie's face may explain how we all felt.
strutting her stuff through the airport! love this sassy girl.
daddy's girl!
today we got up and went to church with makarios staff and then headed to some of the villages here. d thompson showed up to surprise the staff. he is here to help them out this week. it was fun having d in the mix.
in one of the villages we went to a store that had items made by haitian women. all of the money that we paid for stuff goes directly to the women so that they can provide for their families in healthy ways.

riding in the gua guas.

then we headed to panch mateo to walk through the village and play with the kids a bit. visiting pancho mateo was all our kids' high for the day.tonight's debrief time was sweet! to hear what god is teaching all of us (including all of our kids) was incredible!!

we miss jodi and wish she could be here with us! more updates to come hopefully tomorrow! oh and have i mentioned that i love it here and i LOVE the makarios staff! kindred spirits for sure!