Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fun Weekend

One of the reasons I love Austin is because of all the unique events you can attend.  This past weekend was SXSW and the kite festival.  Jessica, Autumn(college friends), and Maggie(co-worker of Jessica and Autumn/new friend) were all in town.  Saturday we spent the day at Town Lake canoeing and playing frisbee.  Then we took a trip to Mt. Bonnell.  On Sunday we went to the kite festival.  
At the kite festival there were hundreds of people flying kites.  The skies looked amazing! It is so refreshing to spend time with good friends. 
Here are a few pictures from the weekend.  I really hope to have a better camera in the next few months, but for now these were taken on the iPhone :)

*top of Mt. Bonnell overlooking the Lake.  I love these girls!*

*Maggie's uncle has a sweet house on Lake Austin.  This is Ryan and I on the dock.*

Friday, March 12, 2010

Invitation to Celebrate

*Noori,(bday girl's father) telling everyone how thankful he is that they came to celebrate*

Last Monday night we had a knock on our door and it was our neighbor inviting us to come to a birthday party the next night for his daughter's first birthday. We said we would come, but we had no idea what a huge party this was going to be! There were about 30ish people at this party, a huge cake, lots of sweets, and very loud music.
The family is from Iraq and they have lived in America over a year now. By most people's standards their life looks sad and depressing, and in many ways they have suffered things I can not fathom. They have left their homes and families to come to a new, unfamiliar place and get jobs that pay $8 an hour at best. However, on Tuesday night the only thing felt around the swimming pool of our apartments was joy and celebration.

*sweets and women*

I started thinking about parties and celebrations and what our lives look like as believers. I will admit, I can be pessimistic and often see the hurt and pain in life before the joy and celebration. However, I was reminded that life now is hard and there are struggles but we must learn to celebrate in the midst of it all. Not celebrate as if there is nothing bad happening, but celebrate because we know of the joy that is coming and celebrate the present joy we experience because we know Jesus.

Isaiah 25:6 Says:
-8But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he'll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
He'll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!

(the Message)

*Hamdia(mother), Noor(bday girl), and me*

A great feast is coming and our King will reign and make all things completely right one day. Yet we still are living in the Kingdom of God right now. This has always been a mystery to me(and many others I am sure.) The Kingdom is among us and yet bombs are killing people everyday, children go to sleep with no parents, people are starving, and women and children are forced to be sex slaves. What does this all mean? I am definitely not a theologian, but I believe God will make all of this completely right. He will do away with all this sin and injustice. This is what Isaiah says. But what about now...well we are the body of Christ in the world. I pray we become Kingdom workers who fight for these injustices in our everyday lives. I think understanding that God (not us) is the one who will actually make them right gives us the freedom to celebrate and have joy in the midst of such sorrow and ordinary-ness of life today. We know the end of the story will redeem all the regular, hard, and even boring parts. So party on...with all of your heart!

"We need to understand that God does at times give us an infusion of joy even in our bitterness and hard-heartedness. But that is the abnormal situation. God's normal means of bringing his joy is by redeeming and sanctifying the ordinary junctures of human life. When the members of a family are filled with love and compassion and a spirit of service to one another, that family has reason to celebrate."
Celebration of Discipline- Richard Foster