Archive for September, 2010

Packing Up for Lowell, MA

Hey, Siestas!

This week I never even put up my big fat red clumsy suitcase. (It’s got to be big enough to carry my fan. I never, ever leave home without my fan.)  I just pulled out the jeans from last weekend’s Wyoming trip and started putting in speaking clothes for this weekend’s Boston trip. Good thing I like to travel. Travis, the LPL team, Michelle and I are looking so forward to being in New England this weekend. Can you imagine a more perfect time than early Fall? I wish I could stay a while!

I love Boston. I had one of my very first grown up feelings there many years ago. The whole nation was in a financial slump at the time but that part of the country was in deeper despair than we were. Houston was still afloat in a puddle of oil. Keith got the idea to fly to Boston and interview men with experience in home services (plumbing, AC, etc) who might be out of a job and willing to relocate. Turned out to be a wise move. He asked me if I wanted to go with him and in those days I never left home unless it was for a well-scheduled-in-advance speaking engagement. They were mostly in Texas in those days and within driving distance for my Chevy station wagon.(By myself in a car with no cell phone. It amazes me now.)

By strict routine, I was gone two Friday nights a month and no more. This was the hook Keith used to reel me in like a fish: “We’ll stay in a hotel and everything.” It was a date. I got my Mom to help me with the girls (in elementary school at the time). Keith and I hopped on that plane and flew to the Northeast like real grown ups, which we were but didn’t know it. He conducted interviews for two days while I took the city on foot and must have walked ten solid miles visiting one historical sight after another.  I do love some American history.

I got my own map, chose my own sights, bought my own tickets to three tours and made friends with perfect strangers. I relived every scene at every spot in my wild imagination. I don’t know why that first trip to Boston stands out in my mind so strongly. I guess because I went straight from my mama’s house…to the dorm room …down the church aisle… to the hospital where I had one baby…and then another. Independence was not even a word in my vocabulary.  That day in Boston, I realized – for just the merest moment – that I was an individual. Not just somebody’s daughter, sister, wife or mother, as much as I cherished those relationships and would not have traded them for the world. For two whole days I just did what I wanted to. I didn’t have to please another soul. Not a great way to live but, oh, sister. It can be a great way to spend a day. It was beautiful those two days in Boston, Massachusetts and icy cold and I warmed my hands on a continuous drip of good dark coffee. And I did one of my very favorite things. I learned stuff.

And then I got homesick and went back home. Back to being somebody’s daughter, sister, wife and mother. And I was glad but I never forgot those two days in Boston when I pulled my big hair back in a pony tail, threw caution to the wind, and got rocked in the Cradle of Liberty.

I don’t know. It was just fun.

Lord have mercy. Where did that come from??

Here’s what I got on here to ask: Are any of you heading that direction for our Living Proof Live this coming Friday and Saturday? Or do any of you wish you could but don’t have the money for the ticket?? Well, that’s exactly what the Siesta Scholarship Fund is all about.

Call Living Proof Ministries at 1-888-700-1999 during work hours on Thursday or Friday and talk to either Kimberly or Susan. They’ll fix up the first 15 or so of you who call.

I love you guys.

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Happy Place

Good and glorious Autumn morning to you, my sweet Siestas! Would you believe that it is actually under 112 degrees here in Houston? Everyone in the city is in such a great mood. Even at a four-way stop, drivers wave for you to go right ahead and turn in front of them. No one even tried to run me – the leading cause of road rage in America – off the road for my slow driving. The first few days of cool after a long, hot, humid summer in Houston are like Heaven on earth. All 3 million of us are so happy.

I’ve been on an excursion since I last talked to you. My man and I had planned a four-day getaway to our favorite place on the planet for this past weekend but the evening before our flight out, he had to cancel over a work issue. I was heartsick. My son-in-law Curtis felt so sorry for me that he told Amanda he wanted her to book a flight and join me. We couldn’t find available seats on Thursday so I went ahead and she joined me on Friday.

The Teton Mountains are my happy place. Years ago a group contacted the ministry and said that if I’d come and speak, they couldn’t provide an honorarium but they’d put me up in a modest condo for a week. I’d never been to Wyoming before and I asked a well-traveled friend about whether or not he thought I should go and he answered me with one question, “Are you out of your mind?” So I went. I had one of the strangest sensations of my life when I stepped off that plane for the first time. I felt the word “home.” I still can’t explain the feeling but I get it every time I go and those visits are now way more than I can count. I wasn’t raised in the mountains so it doesn’t make sense. Don’t get me wrong. I know what beautiful looks like. I was raised in the rolling hills of Arkansas in a home perched amid the piny woods. My older sister and little brother and I practically lived in a tree house built between two tall pines by our Dad and our Papaw. When our feet touched the ground, we shaped rooms out of pine needles in our imaginary house. We never played in doors in those days. Such good memories of bag swings and beetles. I love my home State. But for some reason I have the soul of a mountain girl.

So do my daughters. As my plane began its final descent into Jackson Hole on Thursday afternoon, I – a consummate rule-keeper – longed so much for Amanda and Melissa to be with me and feel the thrill that I – yes, I – slipped out my I-phone and clicked a picture (on airplane mode) from my window seat. It was this:


Michelle had made my flight and rental car arrangements. I’m not much of a car person and usually don’t know one make from another but it was so much fun to walk out to the designated spot down the Avis aisle and discover a cobalt blue mini hummer. I didn’t get a picture of it but AJ did later in our trip. Maybe she’ll insert it here later.

I drove straight to Albertsons and got a few necessities then drove out to Teton Village and checked into a hotel. Things can be really fancy out there and art work is a pretty big deal. For some reason, though, this piece of fine art in our hotel lobby amused Amanda and me. Sorry it’s not centered better. I was getting ugly looks while taking it.

Hmmmm. A fine piece indeed.

You don’t go to the Tetons to sit in your room so as soon as I dropped my stuff off, I headed straight into Teton Park. God was so sweet to me. I was sad that our plans to spend a long weekend in the mountains together (Keith and I) had not worked out but God went out of His way to tell me He was there. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that within 20 minutes I’d seen a juvenile bear, a female moose, and several bull elk. I tried to get pictures with my cell phone but it was nearly dark and, needless to say, I couldn’t get close enough to get them to say “Cheese!”

The next morning I headed to my favorite bagel place in the area. It’s in Wilson, Wyoming and they make their bagels and stir up the cream cheese right there on the premises. They scorn toasters and hang a hand written sign on a  chalkboard that says “We don’t toast our bagels. We serve them (all caps like this) FRESH.” OK then.  I won’t have mine toasted. I love to get a Honey Sunflower bagel with Honey Walnut cream cheese and sit out at one of the picnic tables in the back to eat it. I took this from that spot:

I kept an eye on my watch while I ate my bagel and drank my dark roast and gave myself plenty of time to head to the airport to pick up Amanda around noon. I was the kind of happy to see her that you are when you haven’t seen your loved one for a year. It had been one day.  We were hungry so we headed into town to eat at one of our favorite little restaurants. It’s called “Sweetwater” and the cranberry chicken salad sandwich on toasted raisin bread could almost give you a lump in your throat. We paid out then walked the square but weren’t really in shopping moods. The woods were calling. But, we did see these in one store and reflected on them for quite some time. There are times when the only word that comes to you is “Why?” The hand model is AJ.

We dropped Amanda’s stuff off at the hotel and headed straight to Jenny Lake. I cannot count the times I’ve hiked around that gorgeous place, often alone and other times with Amanda and Melissa (Keith is not quite as taken with hiking as we are. Maybe because I can out-last him in the altitude. He’s very athletic but I have him there. No brag. Just fact). Melissa was a dizzy mixture of happy and sad while her sister and I were in the Tetons. She’s wanted to join us so badly but couldn’t make the schedule work. She kept texting us with messages like, “Send me a pic!” with tandem feelings like, “No, don’t! Yes, do!” These spots on the hike do NOT do justice to the scene but I’ll show them to you if you’ll magnify them in your imaginations by about 100 times.

Yes, that is the Grand. She’s far more powerful in person.

It is already autumn in the Tetons.


The next day we hiked again a much longer way and had the greatest time. We love to eat at Signal Mountain Lodge after a good hike and watch the sun go down over Jackson Lake. I don’t have a picture of it because I’ve taken a thousand of them over the years but imagine it lovely. It’s main attraction is Mount Moran. On our last evening after dinner, Amanda and I decided to take a little stroll around Teton Village and see some of the houses that had been built since our last visit. We got to see a house we’d rented for Thanksgiving several years in a row way back when and also stood in front of the house where “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” was taped. It brought back so many memories. Some good. Some painful. It’s just painful material. While we were walking (in a housing development no less) we somehow got into some mud. Amanda kind of freaked out and bolted from her shoes lest she perish in Teton quick sand.  Don’t scorn her for not wearing boots at this point. We were taking a stroll through a neighborhood. Not climbing the Grand.


This is her in the aftermath before I braved the quicksand and retrieved her shoes. She looks like she did when she was about five years old in this picture.


While we were on that very walk with no expectations but to gaze upon dreamy mountain cabins, God had delights for us.


Foxes. And, yes, that close to us. It was getting really dark when I took this one and I had to enlarge it and crop it for you to get the idea. It’s not really post worthy but I might as well show it to you. They were just chillin’ at this point.


It was not the trip I had planned but it was a wonderful trip nonetheless. God was so gracious to us and the weather was spectacular, the sights restoring to our city souls. Thank you for taking a stroll back through it with us.

So, that’s my happy place. What about yours?

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Context is King

Yesterday I was doing some work on James 1.17: Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow (NASB). I was doing a search on the Greek word ἄνωθεν, which is translated “from above” in the translation above. Somewhere in the middle of all this I got distracted and went off on a tangential search when I saw that the same word, ἄνωθεν, is also used in John 3.3.

The NASB, which is the version I typically use, translates John 3.3:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And for the Greek readers out there, the Greek reads:

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

So, my question, after looking at the Greek of John 3.3, was, why isn’t John 3.3 translated “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Then, I started going through the English translations to see if this was something that the various translators offered as a lexical possibility. And, lo and behold, these were my findings:

NIV In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
ESV Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
NASB Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
NET Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
NLT Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
The Message Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
CEV Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
NAB Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
NRS Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
KJV Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
NJB Jesus answered: In all truth I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
HCSB Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

** The English rendering of the Greek word ἄνωθεν is in bold in each instance.

You do NOT need to know Greek in order to be able to see where the interpretive issues are in this verse, all you have to do is make a chart of the various English translations and compare them.  Start asking the question, “where do the translations differ from one another?”  Of course, comparing the translations doesn’t resolve the issue entirely but it can give you a really good idea of what issues are at stake. Learning to ask the right questions is a major part of exegesis.

Sure enough, after glancing at a couple of lexicons, I found that the word ἄνωθεν can mean both “from above” and “again.” BDAG (Frederick William Danker, ed.  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature 3rd Ed (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000), 92), the standard Greek Lexicon, gives the basic semantic range for the word ἄνωθεν as the following:

  • 1. in extension from a source that is above, from above
  • 2. from a point of time marking the beginning of something, from the beginning
  • 3. for a relatively long period in the past, for a long time
  • 4. at a subsequent point of time involving repetition, again, anew

Our verse, John 3.3, is listed under categories 1 and 4. In other words, the immediate context of John 3.3 is suitable for both meanings (1 & 4) and not even BDAG, the Greek Lexicon par excellence, knows, unequivocally, which meaning is best. BDAG says that John 3.3 is “designedly ambiguous.” But what does “designedly ambiguous” mean, exactly? This seems to be the same question that another lexicon has when it says the suggestion that both meanings are meant “is superfluous and unprovable” (Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Vol 1. Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 378).   But to this ostensible skepticism, J. Gerald Janzen quips, “The charge of superfluity in a gospel that abounds in double-meanings is supercilious” (“How Can a Man be Born when He is Old? Jacob/Israel in Genesis and the Gospel of John,” Encounter 65 (2004): 323-343).

Welcome to lexical study, Siestas.

Isn’t this fun?

As you can see on the chart, the NET Bible translates the word ἄνωθεν “from above.” In a fairly extensive footnote the editor explains to us the reason for the translation:

The word ἄνωθεν has a double meaning, either “again” or “from above”. This is a favorite technique of the author of the Fourth Gospel, and it is lost in almost all translations at this point. John uses the word 5 times, in 3:3, 7; 3:31; 19:11 and 23. In the latter 3 cases the context makes clear that it means “from above.” Here (3:3, 7) it could mean either, but the primary meaning intended by Jesus is “from above.” Nicodemus apparently understood it the other way, which explains his reply, “How can a man be born when he is old? He can’t enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” The author uses the technique of the “misunderstood question” often to bring out a particularly important point: Jesus says something which is misunderstood by the disciples or (as here) someone else, which then gives Jesus the opportunity to explain more fully and in more detail what he really meant.

I often recommend the NET Study Bible to people (you can also find the entire text along with notes online), because even if one does not agree with the translation at various points, the notes are plentiful and invaluable. They really give the reader an idea of what is going on in the translation process. Just picture yourself as a little fly hovering on a brittle old papyrus in Daniel Wallace’s office when you read the notes.

It’ll be fun. Kind of? I mean, if you like this sorta thing.

Just in case you got bored and/or distracted but are somehow still reading out of compassion for my mental health, the bottom line is that we do not know whether the word in John 3.3 should be translated “from above” or “again” or if the word is providentially ambiguous in light of its double meaning.

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “The meaning of anothen in John 3.3, 7 has been a matter of debate among scholars. It can mean that a person must be born “again,” but it can also mean that one must be born “from above.” Perhaps we do not need to choose between the two, for when we are born from above (i.e. born from the Spirit of God), we experience rebirth (i.e., we are born again)” (Verlyn D. Verbrugge, ed.  New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 56).   Similarly, William D. Mounce says “the ambiguity in the word beautifully covers both concepts” (William D. Mounce, ed. Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 274).  Sounds to me like a very nice way to say, “Get a grip, folks. Stop bickering about minutiae because both renderings end up meaning exactly the same thing.”

But, then again . . .

:)

So, just to clarify, here are the major interpretive options:

1) In the context, the meaning of ἄνωθεν is probably “again.”
2) In the context, the meaning of ἄνωθεν is probably “from above.”
3) In the context, the double meaning of ἄνωθεν is intended; it is intentionally ambiguous (I am not sure how these folks would translate the verse into English since they can still only choose one English word)
4) Considering the context, it really does not matter if ἄνωθεν means “from above” or “again” because ultimately the theological meaning of being born again and being born from above is exactly the same.

So, who do you think is right?

This is just one (relatively insignificant) example of the issues translators have to deal with on a regular basis.  Perhaps we should pray for them.  For real.  I recognize that this is fairly tedious at some points, but I really want to know what you think. Given the data, what do you think is the best interpretive option for John 3.3? Try to carefully examine the immediate context of John 3 (I would read all of John 1-3 to be safe).  As the exegetical pundits like to say, Context is King.  What does the immediate context tell us?  There are things about the immediate context that support the translation “again” but there are also things that support “from above.”  What are they?  Also, don’t forget to survey the four additional verses in John’s gospel where the word ἄνωθεν is also used: 3:7; 3:31; 19:11; 19:23.   What do these additional usages tell us, if anything?

And, oh yeah, I am not going to tell you what I think.  Mostly because I am totally open to your persuasion.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

{Actually, let’s be honest, there is a right or wrong answer, but none of us are going to know it on this side of eternity}

Talk to me.

P.S. I think I’m going to start calling Christ followers “born-from-above-Christians” just to be annoying.

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Catch Up and Commissioning

Hey there, Darling Things!

How are you? I hope so much your week is going well and that Christ is continuing to reveal Himself as your sufficiency. He is simply never more obvious to us than when we need Him desperately. I’ve needed Him desperately a few times lately and I bet you have, too. Life’s just like that.

For the last couple of months I’ve been trying to take the Tuesday following an event off. (Don’t know how much I can keep that up once I get into full fledged writing but it’s a joy and a relief for now.) On these two Tuesdays a month, I sleep in a bit longer and sip my coffee a little slower. It’s a beautiful thing.

I didn’t get dressed today until about 10:30 then my man and I headed half way across town to a cool little breakfast and lunch place called La Peep. We mostly just threaten to eat over there but never really make it. Today we followed through. They whip up about the best Belgian waffle in town: crispy edges, soft inside, sweet enough to eat without the syrup but you don’t and served with hot, melted butter in a tiny container to drizzle on the top and you do. It was so good, you could tear up about it. After nearly licking our plates, Keith dropped me off and went to run errands and I sat at home and stared at stuff in a daze. Star kept dropping her tennis ball at my feet so I finally shook off the sugar, got up off the couch and played fetch with her. She really is the best dog on earth. A Border Collie is a LOT to manage the first year but by the second year you begin to have the pet of your life. This is where you can usually find Star. Right in front of yours truly.

Don’t feel too sorry for Keith’s bird dog. She is spoiled rotten. This is how we found her a few evenings ago. No, we did not arrange the pillows under her. She did all that herself.

Where was I before I got side tracked on those ridiculous dogs?? Oh, yeah. My day off. After I threw the ball a few times for Star, I headed over to Amanda’s, picked her up, and we rode together to get Jackson and Annabeth at Mother’s Day Out. Amanda and Curtis somehow managed to have two of the greatest kids a pair of new grandparents could ever picture. They see us constantly but, every single time, act like it’s the biggest thrill since Barnum and Bailey. They do the same thing with Curtis’s parents. They’re just wonderful kids. They were delighted I’d come with Mommy today and had a hunch a treat was in order. They were right about that and we made a bee line over to Fresh Berry for frozen yogurt and toppings. Our nearly twenty month-old Annabeth is appropriately trying a little independence and wanted to have her own cup and eat out of it with her own spoon. You can imagine that all four of us had been well baptized in vanilla swirl by the time we left. Star keeps licking my right arm so my one lone wet-wipe may not have done the trick. She’s just as glad.

When we got back to Amanda’s, Jackson had a big surprise for me. It was THIS!

That boy can ride his bike like nobody’s business! I was just squealing from the sidewalk (while also trying to balance AB on Jackson’s old trike because she would not be left out). It was ten times the sweeter because I was watching my own firstborn run behind hers. It was just yesterday that I flew behind my two as they took off on wheels for the first time. And then they just kept going. This is the consolation prize:

These are exciting days for Jackson because he’s just started soccer. He’s had two team practices so far. He is so cute in his royal blue uniform with his shin guards on that I can hardly stand it. AB didn’t care for soccer practice last week (I think because they weren’t selling concessions yet) and hardly let her parents watch her brother so this week I kept her at my house while sports took full sway. Something awkward happened just before hand that has caused some mild amusement in the Moore house. Amanda very gingerly said to me, “Now, Mom, if you’d rather  come to soccer practice and help us with Annabeth there on the sidelines, you can.” She knew I was bursting at the seams to come but her speech was suspiciously tentative. After hem hawing around a spell, she picked up with this: “But I just want to let you know that Curtis and I really aren’t cheering loudly yet or anything. You know, they’re not really playing any games yet. It’s just practice and it’s really not the best place for a lot of…”

Translation? “Mom, please come if you want to but if just maybe you could refrain at first from cheering as enthusiastically as you did for me and Melissa when we played sports, well then, that would probably be good.”

Just take a moment to imagine what I was like. Don’t judge Amanda on this. Feel sorry for her.

I told Melissa about it the next day and we got so tickled we nearly spit our coffee all over our concordances.

Oh, what my girls have been through. I wasn’t the angry, negative parent in the stands but I have been known on occasion to look for something good to say when a play was bad. It was not unusual for me to yell, “You look so cute in your outfit! That uniform is just your color!”

When I was at the airport in Chicago about to board the flight home, I saw a fellow family enthusiast waiting for her plane. I felt like she wouldn’t mind if I, with admiration, clipped a quick pic, texted it to Amanda and told her not to worry about a thing. I’d limit myself to this for now.

Well, Keith wants me to get off of here and watch Duck Commander with him so duty calls. One last thing! I don’t want to wear anybody out any further about the simulcast but the ministry is getting a lot of requests for the commissioning we did in pairs at the end. My hardworking staff said it would be so much simpler if I could just post it on the blog so here it is!

My Dear Sister,

Your God has called you

To use that mouth of yours

For His great glory.

Don’t just add to the noise.

Become a real woman

Who opens her mouth with wisdom.

God wants the Law of Kindness

On your tongue

And the love of Christ

In your heart.

Never forget:

Kindness is not a weakness!

When you’re wearing down

Head to Christ and His people

And let them build you back up.

Always remember:

His yoke is KIND.

Make sure

It’s the only yoke you wear.

It’s time to go our separate ways

But we’ll all meet up again

At the glorious epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Until then,

Let the One who led you here

Lead you on with cords of kindness.

Now, get out there

And build a welcoming fire

In a cold world.

Live by the Law of Kindness!

I love you guys. I really do.

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LPL Simulcast – Chicago

LPL Simulcast Chicago from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

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Because it’s the weekend.

Happy Friday, everyone!

It has been a great work week, but oh my word, my brain is utterly fried.  I am tired.  I have absolutely nothing of any sort of substance to share with you.  Just some very random pictures coupled with commentary in like fashion.  I was going through the camera roll on my iphone today and decided I would share some of them.  I love to scroll through the pictures my friends take with their phones.  I think you can learn something new about someone by looking at the little things they like to capture throughout their day.  So the following jumbled mess is a string of some pictures or moments that I have captured over the past few months.

Eatin’ breakfast across from my love.

A perfect mid-morning, continued.

One of my favorite areas in Atlanta: West Midtown.  It is raw and industrial; it provides all kinds of inspiration.

Piedmont Park, midtown Atlanta.  One of the many Atlanta parks I frequent weekly.

A good friend of mine recently made approximately one hundred individual origami butterflies and strategically arranged them on the wall one at a time. The pattern is brilliant.  I’m in love.

But not quite as in love as I am with the real thing. This butterfly was showing off for me. If I were a butterfly, I would want to spend my afternoon perched near these flowers, too.  Little kaleidoscopes of colors bursting with oranges, pinks, and yellows.

My **favorite** sandwich from Alon’s.  Roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, sliced tomato, cold chunks of fresh mozzarella, and homemade basil pesto all held together with whole wheat bread. Insane, I tell you.

Columbia Seminary’s Library . . . One of my happy places.

One benefit of having the window seat. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19.1

The moon testifies, too. One beautiful night I slipped out for a walk and the moon was so bright, one could nearly have mistaken it for the sun. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever . . . who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever . . . the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever”(Psalm 136.1, 5, 9).

Tomato Juice?  I warned you that this was going to be random.  I don’t even like tomato juice but for but for some odd reason I have a fierce loyalty to it when I’m on the airplane.  Maybe the recycled air changes its chemical composition or something. Also, I really wish they would go back to serving peanuts.  The one meager little package of tiny pretzel sticks leaves a lot to be desired.

My nephew and a Stetson box.
Now you see him.

And now you don’t.
Sort of?

My little niece.  This may seem like a random picture to you but it thrills me to no end because she looks so much like Amanda here. Her lips and eye shape are identical.  I keep praying her eyes are going to turn sea green like Amanda’s.  Okay, you caught me, I haven’t actually been praying about it. But, I’ve been hoping.

Dear Chicken and Fluffy Biscuits, I could eat you every night of the week.  I was Colin’s hero when I made this dish.

A few evenings ago I was running in my neighborhood and I was struck by the way the light was plummeting down through this tree like a lightning bolt.  The leaves were so illuminated that it was nearly impossible to discern their color.  A few of them looked like brilliant white snowflakes.

My crazy Dad and his portable but sizable hunting blinds. This was my first glimpse of my parent’s house upon my arrival into Houston a few weeks ago. Needless to say, it felt good to be home. Never a dull moment in the Moore house.

Um. Yes, please do.  This might be the most profound graffiti I have ever seen in a bathroom stall.

A pretty church in our neighborhood. I love the rose window. Makes me feel like I got off at the wrong Marta stop and magically ended up in Europe.

Our local bagel shop, Belly General Store.  They make the BEST olive oil and garlic bagels EVER. Also, the style and design in this little shop are out of this world.

The side of Belly General Store, equally as aesthetically fabulous.

Typical Melissa and Colin.

Mom, Annabeth, and me in Houston. This picture was originally taken with a DSLR camera but I decided to throw it in the mix because I saw it today and it made me smile.

Working in the Living Proof Office in Houston. And, sipping on coffee, of course.  The coffee that we were guzzling that particular day is called Stumptown Coffee.  Stumptown Coffee is Kelly Minter’s favorite coffee roaster.  Evidently it makes her long for the New Jerusalem.  She has got some good taste.  We were licking our coffee cups when we weren’t busy taking turns running laps around the office in a caffeine frenzy.  Apparently, according to several Siestas from the Northwest, Stumptown Coffee is from Portland, Oregon, but it also has locations in Seattle.

Today I went to run an errand and when I went to pay the parking meter (downside to intown living), I noticed a little note.

It blessed my heart that someone took the time to write out this little message for a stranger.  But I did wonder where he or she got the scotch tape.  I don’t typically carry scotch tape around with me but maybe I’ll think twice about it next time.  Anyway, after I saw the little note, I went to look at my parking spot and lo and behold, I had parking spot 601.  Gotta love it.

I will end this late night tangent with a picture my Mom just texted me from Chicago. If you look super closely, you can see the sky-line in the distance. You can definitely see the Sears tower (or Willis tower?) to the right. Also, you can tell the leaves are going to turn for fall soon. Oh be still my heart. I wish I were going to be at the event tomorrow! Not to mention, Chicago is my favorite city in the world.

Have a wonderful weekend, Siestas. Whether you are busy with work, church, high school football games, or just hanging out at home, I hope this weekend brings each of you peace and restoration and that whatever you are up to, you are supremely blessed by God in the midst of it.

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Anybody Going?

Hey, Sweet Things! I am taking the quickest possible lunch break with a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats because my head in deep in the books today. Well, actually the Book. I’ve been studying for the Living Proof Live simulcast on Saturday and finished most of my commentary research yesterday afternoon. Not because I was satisfied, mind you, but because time was up. It’s always hard for me to finally go, “OK, that’s enough. Now start organizing what you’ve got.” At that point it’s time for the monumental task of sifting through, setting aside, writing a skeleton outline, then building the sessions on the material that made the cut.THEN, compiling illustrations.

All of this is a difficult process (oh, yes, it is difficult and it tends to get more so with time, not less) and woefully dependent upon the Holy Spirit. I desire so desperately to hear God accurately and with sensitivity but, needless to say, life and self can shout loudly over the small, still voice. Leaning in while everything pushes back can take every ounce of energy you’ve got. We are jars of clay pleading for that all surpassing power that can only come from Jesus. I rarely return from a conference where I taught copious material that I don’t think, in retrospect, I probably should have used that and not this. Said this and not that. Over-analysis is the suffocating tomb of teachers and, if we get trapped there, really good teachers can have pitifully short tenures. Those of us who are going to serve God for the length of our days (oh, Jesus, I want to! please help me!) have to make a choice to move on, whether or not the last lesson went like we hoped. I have to repeatedly ask myself one question: “Did you, as well as you knew how, take them to the Scriptures?” If no, I need to repent. If yes, I have to move on.

Anyway, I’m in the part of the process now where it’s Jesus, my Bible, my notes and me and the sessions are beginning to stand up and take some shape. This can be the most unsettling part because sometimes it doesn’t take shape until the midnight hour. Other times I’m not sure it ever did. It’s a faith walk, Girlfriend. I promise you that. But it is so worth it. Jesus is so worth it. I love the study process and any sense of His presence through the words on that page is what I live for. I am praying the material I feel like God has given me translates well on Saturday but I can at least tell you that I’ve gotten some private tutoring from it. He’s speaking very specifically to me about a particular challenge and changing how I deal with it.

I’ve got a long way to go in preparation so I can’t tarry on here today but I thought it would be so much fun to hear from those of you joining us on Saturday for the simulcast. If so, be sure to tell us the city and the location because it may be that several of you Siestas end up unexpectedly at the same place. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet each other face to face? I’ll also dearly love knowing that you guys are out there, in James 1 terminology, “scattered abroad.” (Which reminds me, we have 27 churches in Canada signed up for this simulcast! We were floored! So happy.)

Oh, before I get off of here, I have to tell you how much I loved your responses to the last post. It was a blast to hear all the ways you planned to stay in the Scriptures this Fall. I was familiar with many of the materials and most of the teachers but some of them were brand new to me. I stacked up some great ideas for future studies I want to take on my own. As my mentor always said, let’s all stay under many teachers! One helps bring us back to the center when another sends us over a cliff.

I love you, Sisters. I think of you every day.

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Hey, Everybody!

How is my favorite blog community? I’ve been keeping a close eye on all of you for the last week but I intentionally left our blog wide open to Amanda as she went on mission to Guatemala with Compassion International. I am so proud of her. She went way out – I do mean W-A-Y  O-U-T – of her comfort zone to take that kind of mission trip and see those horrible conditions  with her tender heart. Don’t get me wrong. Amanda’s always been courageous but she has as sensitive a heart and conscience as anyone I’ve ever known. It’s part of what makes her the wonderful person she is. She can’t look intently at something without taking it on. The only thing further outside her comfort zone than going to those projects and that vulture-infested dump was then asking if anybody wanted to help. That’s the thing about taking a trip like that. Your comfort zone is forever changed. I think God means to get each one of us to a place where we’re more comfortable asking for help than we are with closing our eyes, turning our heads, and letting things stay the same.That applies to any dimension of life, really.

We are convinced that God wants us to take time out of our regular routine around here at least once a year to highlight specific world needs and offer opportunities to help. You are never under compulsion. These are just opportunities for those in search of some. A platform of this kind comes with serious responsibility and stewardship and is meant for more than a social outlet for an isolated sanguine. It’s a frightening prospect apart from the grace and mercy of God. About four or five years ago, Travis and I also heard distinctly (and separately) from the Lord about giving to the poor at our Living Proof Live events. There are so many great opportunities for giving that we’ve chosen to spread it out a little bit through the various arms of this ministry. At Living Proof Live, we partner with Samaritan’s Purse. Here on the blog, we partner with Compassion International and, through the Wednesday broadcast, we partner, of course, with Life Outreach and Mission Feeding. Our efforts are pathetic if God doesn’t add the increase through the power of His Spirit but we trust Him to do so. After all, it was His idea. He is the one who said,

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Praise His faithful Name.

We’ll move now from the sacred to the virtually meaningless and then hopefully back to the sacred. Since I talked to you last…

*I’ve had a weekend off. Got to sleep in. Read, read, read, and go on a walk and, afterward, drive over to see my dear sister, Gay, where she serves Jesus. I am so honored to pursue Him with my very own blood kin. She was the dearest thing in the world to me growing up. We shared not only a room but a double bed. That’s what you do in big families with small bank accounts. The word “mine” wasn’t in our vocabulary much in those days and we were the better for it. We shared the same dolls and were dressed in matching home-sown outfits a good bit of the time. We were inseparable till life took its grievous toll. Believe me when I tell you that we both earned the right to self-destruct. We never quit loving each other even through periods of hurt and silence. We just quit doing life together for a while. God is restoring to us the years the locusts have eaten. That’s another story for another time but one of the biggest things going on in my personal life. I love Jesus so much for what He’s doing. (OK, so that one didn’t turn out meaningless at all. Often when I write, I mean to head one direction and end up in another.)

*I’ve had a fancy dinner with my man. Colin and Melissa gave us a gift card for Keith’s birthday to a steakhouse in Houston that we really love and we shared a crab cake, each got a wedge salad with crumbled blue cheese, steaks (mine 6 oz filet, his, a honking – or shall I say mooing – rib eye), cheese grit souffle, green beans, and croissant bread pudding for dessert. It was incredible and so much fun. My man was so handsome sitting on the other side of that candle-lit table.

*Keith shot in two sporting clays’ tournaments over the weekend and won first place. The man can shoot. I love it when nothing perishes.

*Curtis and the kids flew back from his parents Saturday night and I got to see them Sunday at church. I so enjoyed just sitting with my son-in-law in the worship service. It’s rarely ever just the two of us and I am such a fan of his. We are blessed beyond measure to have the two sons-in-law our girls brought us.  I got to have Jackson all afternoon until Curtis grabbed him to head to the airport to get his mama. I would love to have had Annabeth, too, but she’s pretty tanked after Sunday school and church and is most blessed by a nice, long afternoon nap. I’m the same way most weeks. I get to spend many Monday mornings with her anyway so that’s my consolation.

*Jackson had his very first soccer practice last night! Yes, Amanda and Curtis have entered the wild world of children’s sports. He was so proud of his shin guards that he slept in them the first night.I love the little dude so much.

*It’s still 100 degrees in Houston.Do NOT send me any pictures of autumn leaves. Melissa tried that yesterday and I called her mean names.

*There is a rat in my garage.

So, what are you guys up to this Fall? I’d love to hear about your plan for victory over the next several months! What Bible studies are you in this semester? Are you engaged in a small group or are you going solo? Do tell!

Sorry I’m all over the place. I think I’ve had too much coffee.

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A Whole New World

Written on Saturday, September 11, 2010


Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. Spending the day with my new Compassion child, Stefanie, was amazing. I did see some hard things during the day, but I gave myself permission to feel the joy fully because I knew what was coming next on the agenda.


This morning I woke up with a bit of a weak stomach. I knew we were visiting the city dump and the people who lived and worked there. I wanted to see it – well, sort of – but I was very nervous. I had a mental image of myself wandering through the homes in sackcloth and ashes and wailing at the top of my lungs. I wasn’t sure what that was going to do for anyone. I was also a little concerned about losing my breakfast in front of the team. That was a real possibility. My mom and sister have both been down that road before and I didn’t want to complete the humiliation triangle.


Our team got on the bus and immediately started chatting away. Somehow we got on the subject of weird foods and I was repulsed to the point of nausea by something about sheep brains on toast. I could have gone my whole life without hearing that, I thought. Moments later I was asking Shaun Groves to sing along to A Whole New World, which was playing on the radio. (Remember Aladdin and Princess Jasmine?) Shaun still hasn’t blessed us with his vocal talents and we’ve been giving him a hard time.


It wasn’t long before we arrived at the settlement on the dump. Why would anyone want to live on a garbage pile? That was the question on my mind and you’re probably wondering, too. The people who live there don’t pay any kind of rent or taxes on the land. They only pay for power and water. It is very cheap, but they pay a high price in countless ways. The families who live there arrived in desperate situations. Eight years later, they are still living in dwellings made of tin, cardboard, and blankets.


We had a very tough visit with one family and then began walking to another home. On the way, I saw a light-headed girl Annabeth’s age in the alley that we were walking through. She was very dirty and was playing with a filthy plastic doll. She never turned her face to me, so of course I pictured my daughter’s. I could have gone my whole life without seeing that, I thought. Ironically, within those few minutes we heard A Whole New World playing on a radio again.



We went deeper into the dump to see where people sort through garbage to find things that can be sold. The trash went on for two kilometers. I looked up and saw one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen. Circling above us in the sky was a whirlwind of vultures. Hundreds of vultures. I could have gone my whole life without seeing that, I thought.

We ended up driving to a cemetery where we could look out over the dump and get a better view of the settlements where 20,000 families dwell. The cemetery itself was fascinating. All of the graves were above ground, so it was just tomb after tomb after tomb. I’d never seen anything like it in person. It was ironic that the dead were housed better than the living people we’d just met.




A short walk took us to a cliff that overlooked a sea of filth. Below us, trucks were driving in and out and men were unloading trash at a frenzied pace.



The tombs were all around us and vultures were resting in groups on top of them. Hundreds more were circling above our heads. I was so thoroughly freaked out that I hid under the overhang of a sarcophagus. I could have gone my whole life without seeing this, I thought. I feel like I’m in hell. Thankfully, because of Jesus, that was the closest I will ever get to it.




I was desperate to get back in the van. I couldn’t take any more. The smell, the horror flick reality, the freaky birds, the desperation, the children living in the dredges of a sinful world. Stick a fork in me, I was done. When we finally returned to the van, I pressed my forehead on the back of Ann Voskamp’s seat and cried.


What if I had gone my whole life without seeing that? What if I anesthetized myself so much with wealth that I was convinced this wasn’t so? It needs to be known.


My original title for this post was “To Hell and Back,” but I didn’t think anyone would stick around to read it. If you’re still here, please stay with me because I want to take you to the “and Back” part.



It was time to visit the Compassion Child Development Center that serves the children who live on the dump. We were put to joyous work right away, serving lunch to the children and workers. The children eagerly approached the serving area where Lindsey and Lisa-Jo filled their bowls with rice and soup and Ann ladled lemonade into their cups. I was in charge of handing out tortillas. Dos o tres tortillas? I asked. The tortillas were very warm and so was the atmosphere. My sadness and hopelessness began to fade as the joy of doing something to help took its place.






Our leader, Patricia, brought bags of shoes to be given to the children in this community. I had brought a few of Annabeth’s shoes from home and stuffed them in the bag with the others.




At one point I heard someone calling my name and motioning for me to come. It was a mother holding her baby girl who was wearing Annabeth’s black mary janes. Oh, thrill of my heart! She was absolutely precious and medicine to a homesick mama’s heart.


We were invited to visit each of the classrooms and interact with the students. There were boys and girls ages 3 to 16 spread throughout the building. As we walked through the halls, it was like a breath of fresh air. The church was clean and spacious. The children had room to play in safety, under the watchful eye of loving adults.






We entered the room with the teenagers. Most of them were boys. I was thankful to see that because boys in these neighborhoods are very likely to join gangs. The child development program is a HUGE deterrent for them. We had met a handful of strong, godly fathers during this trip and seen a big difference in the disposition of their children. I have hope that these boys will grow up to lead their families in strength and godliness.



Before we left, we had the pleasure of hearing the pastor’s testimony. He said he had lost seven years of his life to drugs. When he was 21 years old, he came to faith in Christ. He sought out a church and during the altar call, he laid on the floor and surrendered his life to God. When stood to his feet, the need and desire for drugs had been completely taken away. Now he only needed and desired God. He has been a pastor for ten years. His wife is a doctor. Can you imagine what a great team they are? The pastor has a heart for the people of this community because he knows what it’s like to live in desperation. He knows what it’s like to live in redemption.



God is at work in the desperate situations. Honestly, when we were in the dump today I couldn’t see Him. I was blinded by buzzards as Satan hissed in my ears that God is not powerful enough to deliver these people. That He must not really love them. But when we walked in the doors of the church the lies were dispelled. We saw the salvation of our God.


Did you know that on average, 500 Compassion children around the world give their lives to Christ every single day? Isn’t that mind-boggling? You can be a part of giving spiritual, physical, and emotional hope to a child living in a desperate situation. Please consider supporting a child through Compassion International. If you’d like to change the life of a child from Guatemala, click here.


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Joy

Joy is stuffing toys, clothes and school supplies in a backpack for a four-year-old girl. Joy is filling a gift bag with household items, toiletries, a Spanish Bible, an Esther book, and a Texas A&M ball cap for her parents. Joy is going to visit my new Compassion sponsor child today.

Joy is being so nervous to meet little Stefanie, but being greeted with big hugs and smiles at the door.

Joy is finding a baby doll at Target that speaks Spanish.

Joy is seeing a little girl so eager to share her new things with her baby sister. Joy is being told that Stefanie is a girly girl who dreams of growing up and wearing beautiful dresses. Joy is telling her that I love beautiful dresses too, and one day we can twirl in them together for Jesus.

Joy is Stefanie’s mother asking me to pray for her as she prepares to enter school next year. Joy is telling her that I’ve been praying the same thing for my son.

Joy is a having abuelitas who care so much.

Joy is meeting Stefanie’s big brother who is dressed up like a cowboy. Joy is telling him that I live in a place known for cowboys and teaching him to say “Howdy, partner!” Joy is showing the kids a picture of an armadillo.

Joy is Stefanie’s mother telling me that in our family photo, my son looks just like my husband. Joy is spending the whole day with a little girl who will grow dearer and dearer to me through the years. Joy is seeing that she’s a daddy’s girl.

Joy is now having family in Guatemala.

Joy is eating Dum-Dums together in the bus. Joy is being given a Guatemalan headband and wearing it right away. Joy is Stefanie’s father saying that we are two peas in a pod. Joy is him saying that I look happy.

Joy is Spanish coming back to me after a long time. Joy is feeling like I would take 7 more years of Spanish classes just to get another day like this.

Joy is visiting the student center where Stefanie and her brothers are nurtured by godly men and women.

Joy is drawing pictures of rainbows.

Joy is playing with balloons. Joy is missing my Jackson but having tons of little boys to play with.

Joy is meeting several college students in the Leadership Development Program who have had the same sponsors since the age of six.

Joy fills my prayers for God to give Stefanie the grace to do well in school and enter the LDP program one day. The ultimate joy would be to continue sponsoring her and attend her college graduation.

Joy is the promise of writing letters. Joy is having to say goodbye to Stefanie, but knowing she will continue to be taken care of in Jesus’ name.

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