Almost Christmastime and It’s Cold Outside!

Christmas Tree

After weeks of wonderfully mild weather, it turned cold overnight. No snow, but lots of fog. It makes me feel like I’m back in Shafter where I grew up. Of course the cold came the evening that I had free to go the Christmas market.

My friend Tracey and I bundled up and headed out braving the chilly temperatures. It was fun and this year they have a display of small nativity scenes that I really enjoyed. It was late in the evening (the only time we had available) but about half the booths were still open and we enjoyed the kolbász (sausage) and kürtös kalács (a sweet bread made over an open fire). I hope that you are making holiday memories with your friends and family!

Nativity

Cats and Christmas Continued

Finn still loves the tree and climbs it whenever I’m on the phone or busy with something that doesn’t involve giving him my full attention. I changed the type of lights on the tree so at least now he only tries to eat the branches and I don’t have to worry about him chomping on light bulbs. (The small LED bulbs never got hot and were perfectly bite sized. The new ones are too large to munch and get warm enough to deter his interest).

Finn and Tree

Gus is still being so good in regard to completely respecting all of my decorations. It gives me hope for Finn.

Hey, if anyone tells you that citrus keeps cats away because they don’t like the smell I wouldn’t believe it. Finn chews on the dried orange peels and Gus lays right next to the fresh oranges. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Gus and Tree

I am planning on taking the tree down before I leave. I can’t imagine what it would look like if I left Finn alone with it for a couple of weeks. 🙂 Do you have any pets and Christmas stories?

Journey 12-11-06

Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” Acts 26:29

Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32

I read these verses the other day and I started thinking about all I had recently read in Acts and Paul’s response to his trials. Paul had been in prison for years without being formally charged. He could have bribed his way out, but he didn’t. I wonder if he got discouraged, if he ever questioned what God was doing, leaving him in prison when he could have been set free. God’s plan included serving while in chains. I imagine that Paul would have rather been serving in freedom. The same day I read these verses in Acts I got an e-mail with the following quote.

“Since the Lord often does the unexpected in our lives it is easy to think of him as being undependable instead of uncontrollable. Just because he doesn’t finish our plans our way doesn’t mean that he can’t finish his plan his way.” Roy Wisner

Sometimes I wonder about God’s plan. It doesn’t always seem to make sense to me because it isn’t the way I would do it. But God is in control and He will finish His work in and through me. It is comforting to know that when God does the unexpected and takes me down unknown paths that He has the end in sight and that He knows exactly what He is doing.

Cats and Christmas Trees

Finn at Christmas

It has been a very long time since I had a young cat at Christmas and to be honest I’ve never had a cat that was particularly interested in the Christmas tree. I usually put the soft ornaments on the bottom of the tree and they would play with those but this year I have an eater and a climber! In fact, Finn could care less about the ornaments but He loves to climb the tree, eat the branches and chew on the lights.

Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
Cute, cuddly and Christmas tree destroyer all in one.
Maybe he’ll grow out of it by next year, you think?

Gus at Christmas

BTW – Gus is a perfect angel as far as the tree in concerned. Amazing!

What is Success?

This morning I was praying for several people that are going through tough times. I realized that I was running late for school and I started getting ready while continuing to pray. Then I looked in the mirror as I was putting on my mascara and realized that I was crying. (One thing you have to know about me is that I often cry when I pray. Prayer is a beautiful thing where all of my emotion can be released before the throne of grace because I know that God hears and He cares.)

Sometimes I get so involved in life and in my routine that the hurts, the burdens, the frustrations just get tucked away where I don’t see them. Kind of like applying mascara without first seeing the tears. I don’t want to miss the reality for the routine or choose the safer path to avoid the hard things.

And one of the hardest things about where I am at the moment in living in Hungary and learning a new language is that I am making more mistakes. The more you take a step forward and try, the more you make mistakes and fail. I’ve always been a perfectionist and honestly I’ve spent a good portion of my life avoiding situations where I did not think I would excel at doing what was expected. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. It was far safer to only try things that I had a good chance of succeeding in.

But one of my favorite quotes by CS Lewis reflects that God isn’t safe, but He is good. God asks us to do things that aren’t safe or comfortable or easy. We might not succeed in men’s eyes, but if we are obedient, then we succeed in God’s eyes. And that is the success that matters.

Journey 11-30-06

Thankful

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

Last week was Thanksgiving and I spent some time counting my blessings. Sometimes in the midst of struggles, challenges and changes it is easier to count trials and situations of trouble than it is to remember all of the blessings of the Lord. But I have been abundantly blessed and I am so thankful to God for His faithfulness to me, for His kindness, His mercy, His grace, His patience, His love….

Last Wednesday I was getting ready for Thanksgiving. After a miscommunication getting home from school I arrived home a little tired from school and language communication misunderstandings. I started bread dough for the Thanksgiving rolls and sat down at my computer. My computer shut down and told me Windows was recovering from a serious error. Not words I particularly wanted to see. I read the windows help on the error message and started to work on fixing it. In the meantime I was still getting up to work on the various stages of the bread. One batch had especially active yeast and overflowed it’s bowl. Bread dough is sticky, no fun to clean up. In between running from the kitchen to the computer Gus got sick, twice.

Then I got the computer working again (after three more shut down errors) and got the bread in the oven, started the carrots and noticed that the kitchen rug was all wet. This led to the discovery that the water heater in the kitchen had broken and was standing in a cupboard full of water. God was faithful to protect me as I worked to get the heater unplugged without electrocuting myself. I was standing at my kitchen sink – water to the kitchen finally shut off, 12:30 am now, and thinking about how Thanksgiving day had arrived.

I wasn’t feeling particularly thankful at the moment. I was thinking of all the things that have broken and gone wrong since I moved into this apartment. (The list is amazingly long). Then I started thinking about the timing of each one and how it often seems strategic that things happen when they do. That is the biggest reason that I ask for prayer for peace and protection in my home. I don’t believe in coincidence. Trials come and they often come at times when I am trying to focus on something else, like a ministry need or God’s goodness, etc. I need the full armor of God and His powerful presence not only in my life but surrounding me in my home. God has protected me from many, many dangerous situations this past year. I am so thankful for His protection. It was a reminder to me as I entered into Thanksgiving day that I need to choose to look at all that God is doing and be thankful rather than just focusing on the frustration of the moment.

God has truly been good to me and it is a message of rest for my soul even in the midst of challenges.

Embarrassing Moments

One of the things I’ll probably never get used to is how many times I embarrass myself through language misunderstandings. Today was a prime example.

The other day I was talking with a girl in my language class and she asked where I lived. So I told her the names of the cross streets and she didn’t seem familiar with them. So I then told her that I live near Peter’s Bridge (PetÅ‘fi Hid). Then she named a common store and said near the church? Well I live close to one of those stores and a large Catholic Church, so the answer was yes.

Well today as we were leaving school it was raining and she told me her husband had come to pick her up and that they would like to give me a ride home. She confirmed, you live near PetÅ‘fi and I said yes, near PetÅ‘fi Hid. Well all was fine until he started driving another direction into Buda. I was so embarrassed to tell them that obviously I hadn’t understood her (and she hadn’t understood me). PetÅ‘fi is a common name and there is a street near her house by that name. So after making them understand that I was sorry and had misunderstood I asked if they would drop me at the bus stop, but they were very kind and brought me all the way home instead.

It’s hard not to get really frustrated with my limitations and mistakes. As we left she was also apologizing and I hope she doesn’t end up frustrated with herself as well. It is nice when people are so understanding, but at the same time it is so hard to realize that this won’t be the last time that a misunderstanding happens and that I need to just roll with the punches, get up and try, try again.

Journey 11-17-06

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19a,22a,23

This section of verses in my Bible has been titled “A Call to Persevere.” It captured my attention this week. Because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us we can draw near to God in FULL ASSURANCE. What a blessing to not have to hover in the doorway of the throne room wondering if we will be invited in. Because of the blood of Jesus we are not only accepted, but we are welcomed. And because we have this assurance, because we have this great salvation, we should hold to the hope we have with perseverance. We should unswervingly hope. Why? Because the one who has promised, the one who has redeemed, the one who loves us – He is faithful.

Zwieback Anyone?

zwieback

Tonight we had a baby shower for Angelika at our English Home Fellowship group and I made Zwieback for the occasion. The thing that amazed me was that three people came up to me right away and said “Wow, Zwieback!” Then they asked what my Mennonite connections were.

It was kind of fun for me to realize the many ways in which we have things in common with others. Since moving to Hungary I have met people who have lived in places that I have lived, know people that I know and even recognize Zwieback when they see it.

It’s a small world after all. 🙂

Why I Don’t Like Going to School

smoking

What are the common reasons for not wanting to attend class? I have better things to do. I don’t feel like it. I’ll never use that material. It’s too hard. It’s too nice of a day to be inside. The list goes on and on. But I think my reason is fairly unique. I hate coming home reeking of smoke!

Of course they don’t smoke in the classroom, but the whole morning there is someone, usually several people, standing in the hallway just outside the classroom door smoking. It’s winter now, all the windows are closed and the CLOUD of smoke makes it’s way into the classroom where it attaches itself to my clothes, adds it scent to my hair and makes my eyes water.

I love my class and learning. And I’ve gotten used to the fact that smoking is the norm here but when the smoke lingering in the room is thick enough to be easily visable then I find myself wishing they would take their smoking to the inner courtyard instead of the hallway by my classroom. I’d even take the cold from an open window. It is kind of comical that no one in my class smokes and we have attempted to open the window but since they are running the heat it can’t stay open long. Oh well. It’s a new reason to add to the list of excuses of why not to go to school.