Some good friends bring a little bit of Germany to us!

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Over the past couple of months, we have welcomed visitor after visitor from Germany. Most recently, these guys graced us with their presence:

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Last year we all made a trip to Texas together for vacation and had so much, we thought we’d go for round two this year. Although, our full time jobs made the dynamic a little different, this year was still one for the books 🙂

If you ever get the chance to see your hometown/country through the eyes of a foreigner, do it. It will make you see everything in a new and often hilarious way.

Our first adventure started at the lovely Sprinkles cupcake ATM.

We though the ATM was a quirky American thing, and we were right. But we ended up not even getting something from the ATM. There are no cupcakes in Germany (they’re called muffins) and I was having a hard time describing a cupcake and what would be coming out of this weird ATM. So, we decided to go inside and show them a cupcake. When we got inside, a girl came up to us and said,”If you say ‘we the people’, you get a free cupcake.” We stood outside thinking about this for awhile, because I didn’t really believe her. But my dad went in and asked, and even asked, if our guests could say it in German. Turns out, Sprinkles does a password of the day on a regular basis, and you can get different cupcakes or promotions, if you know the password. (So, like them on facebook and get free cupcakes!) We each said in IN ENGLISH and then the server took our order IN GERMAN. It was a great welcome back to America experience and now Diana thinks that America is the land flowing with free cupcakes 🙂

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Diana pretending to be Marilyn Monroe.

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Ingo checking out the Harley Davidson shop, trying to figure out how to get one of these back to Germany.

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Galia and Ingo wanted to see what my dad looked like as a younger man. And so while he wasn’t looking, my mom pulled out their wedding album.

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Over the weekend, we visited Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio. Definitely a super cool experience. Chris and I are hoping to go back and cave dive. Anyone else in? (Side note: I obviously took WAY more cave pictures than this. Maybe that will be another post for another day!)

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After the caves, we went to the Riverwalk in San Antonio, ate Mexican food, and took a Riverboat ride. Chris and I attempted to translate the whole time, but the tour guide took things a little too fast for us to keep up. So, the Menzels received a sort of abbreviated version of the history of the Riverwalk.

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Obligatory Cannons by the cannon photo.

The next morning, we woke up in Austin, checked out the Capitol building and the Menzels ate chicken fried steak for the first time ever.

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#nofilter

And our final big adventure was watching the sunset over Dallas at Reunion Tower. It was beautiful and a really good last adventure, before they headed out!

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Oh, and we can’t forget our (now we can call it a) tradition of a last meal at BJ’s the night before they fly. This little girl had tears in her eyes, as they boarded the plane and admittedly, so did I! This trip was just a reminder of how thankful we are for all the people that we love on both sides of the ocean and how much we can’t wait to be together again!!

 

The Prodigal // book review

The Prodigal is the story of a mega church preacher who was at the top of his craft and the peak of his career. And he makes one mistake that changes everything for him. While the one mistake seems devastating to him, it turns out to be the one thing he needs to find true faith and reconnect with God and his family.

I really appreciated the point of view shared in this book. It was honestly refreshing to hear a down and out story from the point of view of a mega church preacher. The story overall was pretty interesting and I am intrigued now to read Ragamuffin Gospel, based on the message of the Prodigal.

I would definitely recommend giving it a read.

 

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One Word for 2014

You may have noticed a recent movement going around called One Word. The idea is simple, yet powerful. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that often fall flat or stop after just a few days of trying, the challenge is to choose one word that you will focus on for the entirety of the year. One word that help you focus more on your relationship with God and draw deeper in to your intimacy with him.

Even though I am about a month late, I wanted to share my one word. This word was actually a little surprising to me, because it didn’t feel like a typically “spiritual” word. But, I connected with it and knew it was what I needed to focus on in the coming year. That word is:

AVAILABLE

I connected with this word on two levels. The first level was that most of the time what people need from you to grow spiritually, to heal, to learn is just to make yourself available. So often, we feel like we need to know a lot of stuff, but most of the time people just need someone to bounce ideas off of, to listen, to work things out with. I want to spend this year making myself available for moments like that in life. It was so easy as a missionary to be available. It was my job. Now, I have another job and lots of other commitments that make me unavailable. This year is learning about becoming available even when it feels like time won’t allow it.

The second level is God’s availability. I want to spend this year remembering that at all times, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to me. During moments of heartache, frustration, and insecurity, God’s strength is available. During moments of happiness and celebration, God’s joy is available to me. And most of all, during moments of uncertainty, God’s peace is available to me. In the places where I am most lacking, God is available to pick up the slack.

All I have to do is remember that truth and call upon it. That’s what I want my 2014 to be.

 

When we acknowledge that we are all just beggars at the door of God’s mercy, God can make something beautiful out of us.

– from The Prodigal by Brendan Manning

A Response to Why Young People are Leaving the church

why millenials are leaving the church as posted by Krista Cannon on chrisandkrista.org

I couldn’t disagree more. I just recently read this article about why young people are leaving the church. It is not the first of its kind and is most definitely not the last. We are getting the message that what young people want is a church that is catered to them. They want lights and sounds and fanfare. And that we, as a church, should come in to the 21st and accommodate them.

I couldn’t disagree more. This is not what young people want or need.

I am 26 years old and have been a member of the Church of Christ, well, my whole life. I grew up living and breathing the church and having the same dissatisfactions with the church that you discuss in your article. You’re right. Its outdated. Its based on the past and its hard to let go of traditions. And that’s frustrating. But the thing that is making young people leave the church is not the lack of “wow!” when you walk in the building. Its the lack of “wow!” we see in the church members’ lives.

Growing up the in the Church of Christ, we were given a lot of information. It’s true. We were taught about who Jesus was and how he acted. We read beautiful stories of God transforming people’s lives…over and over again. Then, we were old enough, and it was time to take action. I, personally, couldn’t help but get on the mission field. Its what I was called to do. And its very biblical. After college, I left to spend two years in Germany telling people about Christ.

In Germany, the churches are small and atheism is rampant. The biggest Church of Christ congregation was about 50 people. This was a big change from my church of 2,000 in Texas. Yet, the community found in this small group of people was amazing. The kids were all friends with each other. They spent holidays together and always knew it and felt it when someone was missing from worship. There were no YouTube videos or 3 screen setups or lights to dim. We just had a Bible, a songbook, and our voices. There was no money for anything else. In fact, this church right now can barely raise the money needed to build a new church building that is inevitable based on the age of the building and growth of the congregation.

The church in Germany was full of people who had given up a lot, some including their families, in order to follow Christ. And of course, they are churches like this all around the globe, in places where its much more dangerous even. Yet, the gift of Christ was so precious, so transforming to them, that they were willing to sacrifice whatever it took to follow him.

And how did the transformation occur? Through missionaries. Missionaries who were living it. They had given up their comfortable lives in America, in order to live as foreigners, learn the language, and minister to the people. Their willingness to sacrifice meant that they had something special. They had something worth sacrificing for and the people they were ministering to could see it. There are hundreds of thousands of stories like this from so many missionaries around the world.

And that’s the difference.

Young people, millenials, don’t want fanfare. We don’t want a three screen set up with Youtube videos to experience Christ. We want to be in a room with people who are willing to give up everything in order to be Christ to the world. We want to be in fellowship with doers not talkers. Our language is not lights and sounds- its action. Actions speak louder than words. We want to be a part of a church that is so sold out for Christ that they can’t help but live every moment proclaiming His glory to the world. We want a church that shouts the name of Christ from the rooftops. We want a church that celebrates Christ through sickness and in health. We want to see the fruits of the things that we are talking about.

We are the most educated generation on record. We know that studying is important. We have no problem taking in information. But that information is false, if the lives that have received that information are not transformed. We don’t want it to be false. We want to be the first century church that risked everything, because what they believed in was so real and true and good.

We don’t need a three screen set up to meet Christ, if we are meeting him in our brothers and sisters every day.

So, to the older generation, if you want to keep your kids and grandkids in the church, think about what it is God is calling you to sacrifice. Not everyone is called to be a missionary. But, everyone is called to something. Everyone is called to take up their cross daily and follow Christ. No matter the sacrifice. Stop talking about it. Start doing it. And your children will follow.

 

Small Disclaimer: Based on the response to this article, I wanted to just give a small disclaimer. I am in no way opposed to using technology as a tool. Also, I have the highest respect for James Nored and the suggestions he makes in his article. This article came from a place of wanting the younger generation to be represented in a different light. And if you couldn’t tell, I do feel quite passionately about it, but do not intend to disregard anyone else’s opinions, rather just be part of the conversation. Thanks so much for reading and responding!

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl // Book Review

You have to read this book.

There is a new movie out. You may have heard of it. Gravity with Sandra Bullock. The beauty of this movie is that it brings back the wonder of cinema.

The beauty of this book is that brings back the wonder of God.

“Imagine a poem written with such enormous three-dimensional words that we had to invent a smaller word to reference each of the big ones; that we had to rewrite the whole thing in shorthand, smashing it into two dimensions, just to talk about it. Or don’t imagine it. Look outside. Human language is our attempt at navigating God’s language; it is us running between the lines of His epic, climbing on the vowels and building houses out of the consonants.”
― N.D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World

The title of the book is appropriate, because the writing style makes you feel like you are on a Tilt-a Whirl, like you a speeding through the author’s thoughts and discovering along with him how great our God truly is and how unfit we are to describe His wonder. And yet, how our existence is His masterpiece, is the proof of His greatness.

My words are insufficient. You have to read this book. You have to see your faith through these eyes and view God from the Tilt-a-Whirl.