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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Most Precious Heartbeat

Yesterday I heard the most precious heartbeat I've ever heard - the heartbeat of the child I'm carrying.

I am currently in my eleventh week of pregnancy, almost done with my first trimester. And the second trimester can't come soon enough! While many women go through their first trimester unscathed, mine has been marked by extreme fatigue, nausea, headaches, aches, pains, and bloating. I finally started feeling more "normal" last week, enough so that I could actually do some cleaning and get through a day at work without wanting to crawl under a table. I'm still running to the bathroom for a bout of nausea now and then, but it's nothing like it was before.

And here's where I need to give a shout out to my wonderful husband. Garrett has been taking wonderful care of me, doing a lot around the house, and even took over clean up duty after an unfortunate incident when I didn't make it over the toilet fast enough.

Now that's true love. You know you've found a keeper when he's willing to clean up the remains of your day, so to speak, without complaining. His only comment was, "You don't know what I just went through in there." You're right, darling, I don't know. And I don't want to know unless you're willing to see a repeat performance.

But I digress.

We're finally at the point in the pregnancy when I'm comfortable telling the world about the baby we're expecting. To say that we're excited would be an understatement. I've been wanting a baby since I was 12 years old, so once you do the math you'll see that's 22 years of longing. Garrett has wanted to be a daddy for a long time, too. We agreed when we got married that we would wait a year before trying. Well, we got the baby itch sooner than that, so we were already in our seventh week of pregnancy on our first anniversary. Which meant that we celebrated a very quiet anniversary since I was absolutely exhausted all the time.

Our families are super excited, too. This is the first grandchild on my side of the family, so my parents are just beside themselves that they don't have to adopt grandchildren, after all. My brother an sisters are ready for a little niece or nephew and have already started buying little presents.

Incidentally, when my brother found out I was pregnant, he called me (which is unusual enough because Eddie, you don't write, you don't call...) and said, "So, I hear Garrett got one past the goalie." Nice.

Yesterday I went to see my OB for a little procedure to check some stuff out. She surprised me by saying that we would get to hear the heartbeat. I knew that Garrett would be disappointed since he wasn't with me, but I just had to hear it. Easier said than done. About 15 minutes, two rooms, two nurses, three Dopplers, and one very sore tummy later, I finally heard clear evidence of my little sweet pea.

What a moment. Those first couple of months of pregnancy you're thinking, "Is there really something in there?" I took three pregnancy tests and still wondered. So hearing the heartbeat was just overwhelming. I started crying, which kind of freaked out the nurse. She asked, "Oh, was I not supposed to find it?" In my head I thought, "Stop your crazy talk, woman! I've been waiting for this baby practically my whole life!" But I just shook my head. So then she rightly guessed that this is my first.

I tried to keep from crying too much so that she could get the baby's heart rate. It was 180 bpm! Pretty fast, but still within the normal range.

Next week we have our first ultrasound. Garrett and I are so ready for it. We want to see our little one and hear that everything is ok.

Then over the Christmas break I'll start cleaning out the guest room, which will be the baby's room. We need to get some painting done, but I'm not planning to buy anything until we find out if our sweet pea is a boy or girl.

Right now we're just praying that the baby is healthy and strong.

Friday, December 5, 2008

He Just Can't Keep From Singing

I've owed the two or three of you that read this blog (hi mom!) some music for a while now. In a previous post, I bragged on my super-talented husband and his beautiful voice. He had just given a vocal recital and blew us all away with some beautiful music. If I'd had a bit of forethought, I would have found a video camera and recorded it. But, due to some stuff going on in my life right now that I'll talk about later, I've been a bit scatter-brained. And sickly. But that's another post for another day.

A couple of wonderful readers rightly pointed out that I should post him singing. I envisioned a video of him singing "Bring Him Home" since it brought tears to our eyes. But we would need someone playing the piano. And I'm afraid that my piano skills don't extend much past making the same mistakes in "Fur Elise" over and over again. Considering that's a song easily mastered by twelve-year-old girls the world over, I'm not the person for the job.

And let's not forget the minor issue of not having a video camera. I thought about taking the video with my regular digital camera, but realized that it just would not do. We plan to gift ourselves with a video camera for Christmas, but that doesn't help me right now.

(By the way, if you have thoughts on a good video camera, or even a video camera not worth purchasing, I'd love to hear them.)

Now back to our story...

Garrett remembered that he had an old recording of him singing with the choir at First United Methodist in Austin, Texas. I listened to it and thought that it was real purty, so I'm offering it up to you for your listening pleasure. There's no accompanying video, but this will just have to do for now. It starts out with Garrett singing a capella, then the piano and choir come in. He comes in again later with another solo.

You can listen to the song here. Some lyrics are below, but they're not exactly the same as the version in the recording (there's a verse missing). Enjoy!

How Can I Keep From Singing
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul —
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I know the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway clears
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of God restores my soul,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am loved —
How can I keep from singing?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Natalie Grant - Wow!

Tonight was the Casting Crown's Christmas Celebration concert at the Berry Center. It was a blast from start to finish. All the performers knocked it out of the park.

Although everyone did a great job, the stand out performance was by Natalie Grant. Let me tell you, that woman can sing! If you haven't had a chance to hear her, you need to look her up and add her to your playlist. People who know me are probably in shock that I am so impressed with a particular performer because I am like Mikey from the Life cereal commercial; I don't like anyone. I think my professional career as a soloist, producer, and director has made me so darn picky.

This was my second time in the past year to hear Ms. Grant sing. What makes me so impressed with her is that she brings pure emotion to her voice. I can feel the Holy Spirit flow through her and into the crowd. There is no doubt that she is a genuine servant of God. Listening to her arrangement of "O Holy Night" brought tears to my eyes. I felt as if I was literally kneeling at the manger and looking into the face of God.

"O Holy Night" is a song that has been recorded by many artists. In my humble opinion most of the time it's done poorly. Up until tonight, there was only one person that could do that song justice. Congratulations Natalie, you are sharing the top of the hill with my mom. You both sing from the heart and with Christ as your center. I can't wait for your next stop in Houston. Have a merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Which I Brag About My Super-Talented Husband

In one of my favorite YouTube videos, we see Paul Potts audition for Britain's Got Talent and blow away the judges and audience with his talent. When he walked on stage, no one expected what they were about to hear. But in the end he ended up winning the entire competition.



We had a similar experience this weekend.

This past Saturday, we had a new advisor party for Garrett. My sweet husband recently changed careers and became a financial planner for Waddell & Reed. He spent the entire summer studying for his various licensing exams, passed them all with flying colors, and has been in training the last couple of months as he works to build up his business. One of the things that Waddell & Reed encourages its advisors to do is to have a party to announce the career change and to encourage friends and family to refer his services to others.

Because we need to pay the bills, y'all.

As a thank you for those that attended the party, Garrett decided to hire a piano accompanist and give a little vocal recital of some of his favorite songs.

Because the man can SING.

And I don't mean the "he has a really nice voice" kind of singing. These days anyone with a guitar and a decent voice considers himself a musician. No, my Garrett is a bonafide college-trained professional singer. He has a degree in Music Education from the University of Texas and was a choir director for 12 years. (He was encouraged by his professors to change his major to Vocal Performance, but he wanted to make a living, you know?) Besides his musical training, Garrett also helped start a muscial theatre company when he lived in Austin. He directed and acted in many productions and got great reviews. So his great voice is backed up with great showmanship.

Let me put it another way: I love Chris Tomlin, buy his CD's, and have high respect for his talent and giftedness. But I think we would all agree that Chris Tomlin is no Josh Groban. Right?

Garrett is my own personal Josh Groban. Except Garrett is a tenor and not a baritone. And Garrett's hair is short and straight and not long and curly. And come to think of it there are many more differences than I could possibly communicate, but since this paragraph is already way longer than I'd originally intended, let's just move on, shall we?

Anyhoo...

I've told my friends and family about how talented Garrett is, but they've never had the opportunity to hear for themselves. We've been married for almost a year and were together for a year before that, but funny thing is that life doesn't typically give you an opportunity to break out into show tunes. So they were all a little curious. I think that they may have expected the "he has a really nice voice" type of musician, but boy, were they in for a surprise.

He sang seven songs, starting out with "Love Is Here to Stay" and "In the Still of the Night". One of my favorites was "Bring Him Home" from the Broadway play "Les Miserables". Take a look at Colm Wilkinson's rendition of it.



By the time Garrett finished, everyone was in tears. Such a beautiful song.

He then sang "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", which really is a very cute song, followed by "Embraceable You". For the second half of the song, Garrett knelt down in front of me and sang it to me. And I teared up. And he teared up. Then I started crying. Then he started crying and could barely finish the song. When I was praying for a husband, I asked for a man that loved music. God answered that prayer in such a big way by bringing me a musician husband that can serenade me. God is truly "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

Garrett also sang "It Had To Be You". Here's Harry Connick, Jr. singing it, although the version Garrett sang was less jazzy.



Garrett's final song was "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" from "Guys and Dolls".



Garrett's musical theatre experience was obvious in this song as it displayed his showmanship. I actually think he did a better job than the guy in the movie. But I'm a little biased.

I was so proud as I watched him singing. He was in his element, and as I was watching him I had the distinct impression that I was watching a man do what he was made to do. If I had my way, Garrett would have many more opportunities to share his voice and entertain others. Maybe in the future. Right now we're just doing what we have to do to build a foundation for our family.

As for the reactions of those that had never heard him sing before - they just couldn't believe it. My mother informed Garrett that he would be singing at family weddings from now on, my father wants him to sing "Bring Him Home" at a Veteran's Day event, and one of my sisters wants us to get a karaoke machine so that Garrett can sing for us whenever we feel like it. 

And my brother was going to request that he sing that song "Do It For Your Country" from Grease 2, but we weren't putting on that type of show, yo. Children were present.

One of my friends was surprised that Garrett is good enough to sing on Broadway, and yes he is. He could sing on any stage in the country, and that's not the exaggeration of a woman in love with her husband. He's just that talented.

Maybe one day he'll sing for the masses. For now, I'm honored to be an audience of one, enjoying all his funny little made up songs. I look forward to the days that he'll sit at the piano with our children, teaching them their scales and hand signs. And to evenings of family talent shows where I'll serve as the adoring public. 

But it was nice that, for a little while, others could see him as the super-talented special guy that I've known him to be all along.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Being A Newlywed Isn't All About Romance

Garrett and I have been married for less than a year and have already experienced our fair share of Major Life Experiences. Shall we do a quick recap?

  • November '07 - Wedding (aka 101 Ways To Drive Yourself Insane), started sharing a bathroom with one sink.
  • December '07 - Traveled to Dallas for sister's graduation, traveled to Austin for recording job, hosted a Christmas get-together.
  • January '08 - Bought a house (aka Take All My Money, and Some That I Don't Even Have).
  • February '08 - Got the house ready to be lived in, traveled to San Antonio for conference, traveled to Austin for recording job.
  • March '08 - Moved into new house.
  • April '08 - Traveled to Vegas for cousin's wedding.
  • May '08 - Garrett finished his last year teaching, Garrett sang the National Anthem at an Astros game, traveled to Austin for recording job.
  • June and July '08 - Garrett hit the books and studied for his Series 7, Series 66, and Life and Health exams.
  • August '08 - Garrett finished taking his exams and started a new job as a financial advisor, traveled to Austin for recording job.
  • September '08 - Experienced our first major hurricane together and a disaster situation in Houston.
But I can't complain. We have everything we need and experienced no major damage from Hurricane Ike. And we even got our electricity back after less than a day. We eventually were able to restock our pantry and refrigerator and eat something other than PB&J, and were able to get gas without sitting in line forever. So life is good.

It's been a week since Ike visited town and disrupted our lives, so it seems like a good time to consider what we did right and what we did wrong in this hurricane situation.
  • Right - We filled huge buckets with water for flushing the toilet, even though we ended up not needing it.
  • Wrong - We waited too long to get plywood to board up our windows. By the time we made the trip to Lowe's all that was left was the really expensive stuff and the not-quite-thick-enough stuff. We ended up going with the latter because we're cheapskates. We got lucky and had no window damage.
  • Right - We gassed up my car before the hurricane hit.
  • Wrong - We didn't gas up Garrett's car.
  • Right - We had plenty of bread and PB&J.
  • Wrong - PB&J got old after two meals. Should have bought more snack (comfort) food.
  • Right - We got plenty of cash out of the ATM before the hurricane hit. And it's a good thing because Walmart only took cash afterward.
  • Right - We had candles.
  • Wrong - We used the candles and set off the smoke alarm. But hey, at least we know it works!
  • Right - We bought a hand-crank emergency radio that received radio stations, the audio of television stations, and even had a light and emergency siren built-in.
  • Wrong - We listened to the radio for far too long and heard the same old information over and over and over again.
  • Right - We hid out in our pantry during the storm, along with the dog and cats. Safety first!
  • Wrong- We hid out in our pantry during the storm, along with the dog and cats (not in cages) and kitty litter!
  • Right - We began our self-imposed seclusion in the pantry with prayer, leaving everything in God's hands.
So there you have it. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come Major Life Events and Natural Disasters. But we're praying that we'll be able to announce the coming of a baby in a baby carriage someday soon!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hunkered Down

Hunker. What a word. It feels thick in my mouth, chewable. I just looked it up in Merriam-Webster and it's defined, "to settle in or dig in for a sustained period." That's us.

We spent yesterday and this morning preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Ike, an unwelcome visitor. When Ike arrives, he can expect to find our back windows boarded up, our patio furniture in the living room, and us hiding in the pantry if he gets good and mad.

Right now Garrett is in our living room taking a nap on the mattress pad that we brought downstairs for a little extra comfort. He wants to get a few hours sleep in so that he can stay awake tonight when the hurricane arrives. We're nothing if not hospitable.

We're pretty far up in northwest Houston, so we should be ok. This website says that we can expect maximum sustained winds of 86 mph. Our major concern is flying debris. And doing without electricity. What's a curly-haired girl to do without her flat iron???

But many are in a bad situation. Some waited too long to evacuate the coast and can't get out now. Others don't understand the seriousness of the situation and refuse to leave. They need our prayers. Reminds me of Psalm 91. This will be my prayer during this ordeal.

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

5 Reasons Why You Need a Financial Planner

Hey folks,

I am up and running at my firm. After learning so much, I want to help each of you with your financial planning. In today’s world, a plan for the future is key for success.

5 reasons why you need a Financial Planner

5. Social Security isn’t that secure anymore.
4. Got kids? You need a college savings plan.
3. Help with maximizing your savings.
2. Easier transition through life stages.
1. A financial roadmap that is tailor made for you.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your life. Now is the time to get serious about your future. Let me guide you to your dreams.

Garrett Maddox
Financial Advisor
(281) 893-6020 ext 117
(281) 224-7464

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Hot Date" or "How to Analyze All the Fun Out Of Something"

Tonight I have a hot date with my husband. "Hot" as in we're going to an outdoor concert...in Texas...during the month of August. Sizzling.

Seriously, I'm totally excited about this. It's a MercyMe / Natalie Grant concert, so good times are expected. Garrett surprised me with the tickets as a way to celebrate my birthday. Isn't that sweet? Alright everybody, say it with me now..."Awwwwwwwwww!"

We've never been to a concert together, so don't really know what to expect from each other. What is appropriate concert behavior? I suppose it depends on the artists involved. So a MercyMe concert, whose concert-goers will be 99% Christian, will have a different atmosphere than, say, a Bon Jovi concert. Not that Bon Jovi fans can't love Jesus. I love Jesus and "Livin' On A Prayer" holds a special place in my heart simply for being the catalyst of many a daydream during my high school years.

Anyway, I digress. Tonight we're expecting to hear songs like "I Can Only Imagine," "Word of God Speak," and "Held." So as far as behavior goes, I foresee much swaying and closing of eyes. Singing when I remember the words. Maybe even the appearance of a couple of tears. *sniff*

What can I say, I feel deeply. Truly. I am a deep well of boiling emotion. It's gotta come out sometime, whether it be pretty or ugly. Since tonight is a "date," let's hope that it's the former and not the latter.

Wait a minute, what am I saying? I've got the ring on my finger, so he can't escape no matter how ugly I get! I OWN him! HUWAHAHAHAHA!

Not that I don't appreciate him and all his cuteness. Being on a date with my husband always reminds me of the first time we met. As I sat looking at him on that sweltering November day (it's cold in Houston for all of 5 minutes), I thought to myself, "Could I kiss those lips?" I'm happy to say that I have kissed them many, many, many......MANY times. And I plan to get kissed again tonight. *wink*

So, being a list person (aka NERD), I've composed a list of the behavior I expect to experience this evening:

  • Sweating in the sweltering Houston heat.
  • Singing off key.
  • Swaying.
  • Closing of eyes.
  • Tearing up.
  • And a whole lot of kissing.
Good times.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I COOKED

Saturday morning I made this for breakfast (one of Pioneer Woman's recipes) with a side of ham. We liked it so much that we had it again Sunday morning. I can't begin to tell you how much I ADORE this breakfast. Sure, it looks extremely fattening with all the butter and all, but I made it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and it was JUST AS GOOD! It's our new fave. It can be a little tricky to cook it long enough to toast the bread but not to the point of totally cooking the yolk. A runny yolk is a plus in my book.

I've gotta say I felt proud of myself for cooking a mighty tasty breakfast. It made me feel all wifely and all. Like such a little homemaker.

Sure, other things around the house need some attention. But I COOKED. And it was GOOD.

I hate laundry so much that Garrett usually does it. But I COOKED. And it was GOOD.

My feet are so jacked up that I dare not show them in public. And I'm too lazy to give myself a pedicure. But I COOKED. And it was GOOD.

I forget to turn on the dishwasher until we get to the point that we can't fit one more dish in there. But I COOKED. And it was GOOD.

I drove my husband crazy yesterday telling him how I would do math problems. And he hadn't even asked. But I COOKED. And it was VERY GOOD.

So thank you, Pioneer Woman. Thank you for sharing a recipe that makes me feel like a wife. Thank you for a recipe that makes me forget about my failings. And thank you for a recipe that makes me feel like I did Something Worthwhile that day. I will be forever grateful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Day Should Start at Noon

I'm not what one would call a Morning Person.

I don't bounce out of bed with hair perfectly in place, breath as fresh as a spring breeze, and a smile for every person or creature that comes my way.

My mornings look a little like this:

  1. Slowly wake up.
  2. Decide it's too early to be awake and quickly fall back asleep.
  3. Wake up again, watch my husband walk around getting ready, and feel guilty.
  4. Fall back asleep.
  5. Wake up again and throw the covers off.
  6. Fall back asleep.
  7. Wake up again and throw my body into a sitting position.
  8. Climb out of bed and try to remember how to stand.
  9. Smooth the back of my hair down so my husband doesn't fall on the floor laughing.
  10. Creep to the bathroom to answer the call of nature.
  11. Grunt a hello to Garrett. Or maybe just grunt.
  12. Taste my mouth and reach for the toothbrush.
  13. Kiss Garrett good morning after a good tooth brushing.
  14. Sit at my vanity and try to spackle and paint my face until I'm presentable.
  15. Try to remember what I wore during the past week so that I don't put on a duplicate outfit.
  16. Creep downstairs, trying not to trip over a cat or dog, in search of sustenance and a cup of coffee.
  17. Do a little Bible reading, journaling, and praying.
  18. Drive to work.
  19. Read email and plan my day.
  20. Start thinking about lunch.
  21. Fully wake up.
So there you have it. It's not pretty, but it's honest. Maybe when I have kids I'll grow up and make the most of my mornings. I can only hope.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

All in a Day's Work

This morning I took a trip to Ye Old Medical Lab for some routine blood work. The blood work itself was routine, but it messed up my own routine by requiring that I fast this morning. FAST. As in No Breakfast For You. On a morning that I was especially Hungry. I thought about sneaking a bowl of Fiber One cereal since the large amounts of fiber (hence the name) don't allow the food to stay in my digestive system for very long, causing minimum impact. So that's kind of like fasting, right? But when I thought about it a little more I realized that my hips don't lie and maybe my little fiber theory isn't entirely valid. WebMD does not a doctor make.

(At this point I'm sure that my Physician Assistant baby sister is reaching for her cell phone to scoff at my lack of medical knowledge. And maybe I should be going to her for medical advice. She's got the degree and all. But every time I look at her I see the little girl with pigtails, pointy BX glasses, and a look in her eye that said, "I'm trouble - with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool!" Although she's not much of a pool player. But I'm a Music Man fan and couldn't resist. Any Music Man fans out there? Anybody? No? Oh, nevermind.)

Anyhoo...

I digress.

So I left the house, escaping the Fiber One lure, and eased on down the road (what's with the musical references today?) to the medical lab, or, as I like to call it, the House of Pain. You see, my veins take on a cloak of invisibility when they sense the presence of a needle. Those inexperienced with The Needle use me as a pin cushion until I'm on the verge of passing out. So whenever I'm confronted by a new lab technician, I wonder, "Do you know what you're doing?"

So I walk into the lobby area, sign in, and chat with the technician for a few minutes. She asks me if I'm fasting, and I say yes along with an "I'm ready for a cup of coffee!" She agrees with me but tells me that she can't have coffee because she's going through a detox.

Say wha?

No, no, no, this can't be good.

We've established that I do not have a mind filled with medical knowledge, but I'll go ahead and say that I do not think that people undergoing detox are, shall we say, well-fed. And I'm of the mind that a well-fed person is a happy person. And only happy people should be wielding needles. Especially if those needles are directed toward my person.

We continued with the chit-chat and I relaxed. I tried not to think about the needle, like I was sitting in the funny chair with my sleeve rolled up just because I considered it to be comfortable and a good time to make a fashion statement. I was very pleasantly surprised that the detoxed-yet-wonderful lab technician got what she needed with one stab.

I feel that it's important to compliment good work, so I told her that I appreciated her expertise and the minimum of pain. She shared her secret with me - you may not be able to see a vein, but you can feel it. She simply knew what she was doing. And I realized that if you want something done right, you've gotta go to the experts.

Words to live by, my friend. Words to live by.

So I went on my merry way and rewarded myself with a trip to Starbucks for a biscotti and tall skinny vanilla latte. Actually, I tried to convince myself that I deserved a full sugar latte, for the pain and suffering and all, but Myself didn't buy it. So I got the skinny latte...and totally forgot about the biscotti. Coffee on an empty stomach. Nice. Pouring salt on the wound, so to speak.

That's how my work day began - little food, a lot of blood, and a very boring story to share.

Thank you for reliving the experience with me.

Good night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jesus - The Action Figure

So Garrett and I are in the public library, enjoying the quiet as he studies and I do some blogging and reading.

I'm sitting across from him and peek up every now and then to watch him. Right now he's leaning his forehead on his hand and highlighting something Very Important in the book in front of him. He's mouthing the words as he reads (I do the same thing when I'm concentrating), but sometimes he'll pucker his lips.

So cute.


Anyway, a few minutes ago he went on a little walk to take a mental break and brought back this picture for me.

Please allow me to introduce you to Jesus, the Action Figure.

Notice that he is in the "I'm floating up to heaven" pose.

Just to be clear that this is no ordinary action figure, we see the following near the bottom of the package.
Yes, you may pose Jesus any way you want. Rather than floating up to heaven, you may pose him in the "turning water into wine" pose, or the "I heal you" pose, or the "go ahead and give us a hug, little leper" pose. You have complete control.

But isn't that the way we treat Him sometimes? Like His actions are under our control? Like a cosmic Santa Claus, there to give us whatever we want. And if He doesn't come through (in our estimation), watch out! We'll show Him, give Him the silent treatment by not praying for a while. Maybe stop attending church and put our Bible in a drawer. Although we're more than willing to invite Him to our pity party.

Thankfully, He is not under our control. He does not require direction from me. He is God. He knows what He's doing. And this isn't scary to me because He is also kind. His actions are always for my good, and for the good of those around me. So rather than trying to control His pose, I'll choose to place myself in a position of submission to His actions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back in the saddle again!

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be a student again, I would have laughed in your face. But, here I am studying (if not cramming) in a community college library. Welcome to my fantastic summer vacation.

Being around academia takes me back to the days at The University of Texas (Hook 'em!). Back then I was just a kid and such a party animal. Focusing on my studies was low on the priority list. Don't get me wrong, I got decent grades, but could have done so much better.

Being a middle school teacher for 12 years has given me a better perspective on school. I've heard a ton of excuses from my students (some of them I had used myself at that age) and they all sound lame to me. It more sounded like whining. I've caught myself chewing kids out for not taking school seriously. How ironic for a person like me huh?

Now that I have the opportunity to "go back to school", I have put my whole heart into it. I've been reading, making note cards, reviewing, and taking chapter tests. The magical thing I have discovered is studying works! It is a REVELATION!! Well, at least for me.

It hasn't hurt my efforts to have a successful studier in the family to give me some tips (That would be my lovely Leslie). She has been so supportive and helpful with this transition. I couldn't have done it without her.

I hope to be able to take my first exam in about 5 weeks. Wish me luck or better yet, give me some tips. What have you done to help you cram? Any extra insight would be highly appreciated!

New Addition to the Blogosphere

Sometimes I think that if one more thing changes, I'll rip my hair out by the roots and run screaming for my life, leaving behind a dust cloud in the shape of my running form. This past year has been filled with wonderful changes (multiple moves, engagement, marriage, new house), but for someone that likes routine, it's all been a bit much.

HOWEVER......

Let's add one more change to the list. For the last couple of months I've been posting Bible study lessons based on Psalm 23. But I've decided to move them to a new blog that I've created. The new blog is here, and its purpose is to help and encourage Sunday School and Bible study teachers.

I would surely appreciate it if you would let people know about the new blog, especially Bible teachers. It'll be fun only if folks participate!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

God's Will....not mine.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in God's world and not mine. If I need a little help remembering that, He is always there to give me a loving shove back into reality. I know it is a struggle that we all face and it isn't easy.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I am changing careers to financial planning. I am really excited about helping people realize their dreams and financial goals.

In May, I put in an application with Edward Jones Investments. My dad was confident (if not completely convinced) that they would hire me because he was an employee. He even had his regional leader flag my application to keep an eye on it. I went through the entire interview process (about 4 weeks of jumping through hoops). The only part left of the process was to get the job offer. The HR person I was working with told me I would be getting phone call on Friday (5/23). Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Which was OK because it was Memorial Day weekend and people leave early.....blah, blah, blah. On Tuesday I sent her an email just to get an update. Her response was straight and to the point. They decided not to offer me the job and good luck with my future endeavours.

What!?!?!?! This was a sure thing. I have the drive and ambition with a successful track record to boot. I just had to show up and get the job. What in the world happened? To say the least, I was bummed out. My dad was disappointed with the news as well because he (and everyone else) knew I was perfect for the job. His regional leader did some checking around to see what happened. He found out that I wasn't offered the job because I lacked sales experience and didn't have the "entrepreneurial spirit" that Edward Jones was looking for. That felt like a slap in the face because I was a co-founder of a non-profit corporation and ran it for 7 years, rebuilt 2 Austin choir programs into award winning groups, and started an award winning choir program from scratch. In a nutshell, I am a successful entrepreneur and they didn't recognize it.

I remembered all the prayers I had made about being hired at Edward Jones. My last prayer before the bad news was something along the lines of "God, if this isn't where you want me to go, then let your will be done." I can't say that my initial reaction was heavenly motivated when I got the "We regret to inform you" email. I was feeling let down.

My wonderful wife comforted me about the news and suggested that I look for jobs that would give me sales experience. I was reluctant, but took her suggestion to get on monster.com. I filled all the info out, posted my resume, and did a job search.

A company popped up called Waddell and Reed. I'd never heard of them before, but I checked them out. It looked like they had a format similar to Edward Jones. They were looking for financial advisors with no experience necessary. I sent them an email and my resume. The next day I got a call from the district manager and he wanted to interview me on Wednesday. The interview lasted almost two hours and I felt it went really well. He told me that the next step was to fill out a career assessment online. If it looked good, he would call to set up another interview. After a slight pause, he said that he knew I would do fine and scheduled the next interview anyway. I went home and read all the materials on the company he gave me and realized that it is a better fit for me than Edward Jones.

Although I may not get this job, I feel that God is reminding me that He is in control and will bless me with the right position.

Please pray for us. We are so anxious about where my career is taking me. If you have any words of encouragement or advice, I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

City Slickers

I always say that I won't go camping unless there's a hotel room involved.

We came pretty close to that ridiculous statement at The Retreat at Artesian Lakes this past weekend. We got a one-room log cabin for a couple of nights, which came with a couple of beds, table, kitchenette, but NO TV.

Since we didn't have the distraction of a TV, we did things like read, play card games (Speed, Rummy, Poker), and sit on the porch and talk.

We had a visitor to our cabin...

...but he didn't stay for long.

We even walked around outside for a while (I believe outdoorsy people call that "hiking").

Just to prove that we actually got out in The Nature for a while, we snapped a few shots to chronicle our experience.

The Nature

Not a cloud in the sky, which meant The Nature was HOT!
Garrett in The Nature


Some of The Nature is kinda gross (those are bugs swimming around in there!)...
...but some is rather pretty.
What is it about a country road that makes you want to see what's at the end?
And what is it about a wooden bridge that makes you want to cross it?
Is it just me, or does it look like someone added food coloring to this lake?
I had fun with you, sweetie!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday School - Psalm 23 Lesson 3

“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2a)

I want to roll around in a muddy field. I think that it would be fun to play like a kid, get covered in mud, and not care. Maybe I’ll get my chance when I’m a mother. With a kid I could play it off like, “Hey, just trying to relate to the child.” Without a kid, I might be committed.

Doesn’t that look like fun?

I guess “green pastures” are a’ight too. Soft and pretty. And undoubtedly filled with bugs. Consequently, I have no interest in playing in a green field. No ma’am. Wouldn’t want a Horton Finds a Who thing going on.




Sheep, on the other hand, are quite fond of a green pasture.

This picture reminds me, in an opposite kind of way, of our yard. When we moved into our house, the yard was brown and filled with weeds. Bushes were overgrown or stunted. The flowerbeds were filled with rocks. So my darling husband got to work. He went to Lowe’s and bought all manner of lawn equipment. Weed killer, fertilizer, mowing, edging, and a good soaking provided a major improvement.

But there was more. One Saturday morning, while I was sleeping the sleep of angels, Garrett headed over to Home Depot (twice before I ever woke up!) and bought bricks, mulch, and more fertilizer. Then came the physical labor - pulling out bushes, digging up rocks, laying down fertilizer and mulch, and placing bricks.

Our front yard started out like this.

And ended up like this.

And it’s still not finished.

But there’s only so much a body can do in a day. Garrett's back reminded him for days that he’d poured himself into the yard project. But it was totally worth it for the pride he felt in a job well done. Years from now when our future children enjoy the yard, they will have no idea of the work that went into making it beautiful.

My favorite Psalm 23 book of all time reminds me of an important fact: green pastures don’t happen by accident in Palestine (where this psalm was written). Shepherds cleared fields and planted tasty sheep treats in order to provide nourishment for their flocks. Shepherds were active, not passive, in the care of their sheep.

In the same way, God is at work around us all the time. He is not like Dr. House –enjoying a soap opera while ignoring the tragedy filling the building. Our lives are much more than a soap opera to our Creator. Last weekend I wrote about how He prepared me to enjoy the man He had for me as my husband. But I wonder how else he’s worked in my life. How many times has He protected me from a car accident? Or from a negative friendship? Or provided an encouraging friend at the moment that I needed it? Things that some might ascribe to coincidence or chance but that we can ascribe to a God that is active in our lives.

Questions:

  • How do you work for the welfare of those that you are responsible for (families, employees, pets) in ways that they don’t see or understand?

  • They say hindsight is 20-20. Looking back at your life, can you recognize how God was at work around you, even when you didn’t see it? What’s an example?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

I have finished all the interviews for Edward Jones. I am now awaiting an answer from the company. I hope to hear something tomorrow, but it may take until Wednesday of next week. Ugh! The waiting is killing me. Please say a little prayer for me to get the job. I know in my heart this is the road God has prepared for me.

Have you ever been in an interview situation where you really wanted the job? Post some interesting stories about a job you were itching to get.

Enjoy your upcoming Memorial Day weekend!

Bloggy Giveaway Winner

Hello peoples,


Sorry it's been so long since I've posted and announced the winner of this lovely gift. I've been sick for the past week and just haven't been up to blogging. I'm now on the mend and ready to give something away.


And the winner is (sorry this is so difficult to see)...
...Julissa! Congratulations!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Falling In Love

I sat on my balcony in the darkness, ignoring the parking lot below in favor of the moon and scattered stars above. The moon – what a good idea! The genius of a heavenly night light provides both beauty and function. After noticing the change in position from the night before, I moved my attention from the moon to the few stars visible in the city’s glow. I saw three stars in a row – surely they must be part of a constellation…

These internal dialogues were the catalyst for a sweet relationship with the Creator. I learned what it was to delight in Him by enjoying and acknowledging the genius of His creation. Wonder over creation in general moved to wonder over being created. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) My trust in His love and care for me grew until I was confident that He would not keep anything good from me.
Including marriage.

I approached my Creator with my desire to marry. Every night in my prayer journal I wrote, “Please send my husband soon.”

And something unexpected happened.

My prayers transformed from pleading requests to confident expectation. On August 27, 2006, I wrote, “I feel like the Beloved in Song of Songs 5 – my heart is awake. I feel as if I’m ready to fall in love. First waiting. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I am.”

As I waited, an image formed in my head of the type of man that I wanted to be with. On November 2, 2006, I wrote that I would like “someone that adores me, that respects me, that I can respect, smart, smiles, loves Jesus, loves his church, loves animals, friendly. Love of music would be a plus. But, most of all, someone that You have designed for me and that You have designed me for.”

And how would I meet this man? On October 3, 2006, I wrote, “Pease send my husband soon. I have the feeling that it will be in a way that I don’t expect.” Truer words were never spoken! Although out-of-character for me, I grew excited about the idea of online dating. This was so unusual for me that I knew that the Holy Spirit had a hand in it. God was up to something.

In November of 2006, I embarked on an online dating adventure. A friend took some pictures and I posted them along with an “I want only Jesus boys” profile. At first things didn’t look good. Most of the men that contacted me were decidedly NOT Jesus boys, and I couldn’t dredge up much enthusiasm for the others. But Garrett contacted me two weeks into the process. He was the first and last of my online dates.

Garrett and I were married six months ago today. Our lovey-dovey behavior often prompts people to ask if we’re newlyweds, which we are, but I suspect that we will always be cheesy in love. I respect Garrett for his character, intelligence, musical talent, and work ethic. I adore his smiling blue eyes, dimples, and generous smile. His humor is medicine to me, his voice my music, and his arms my home. I am proud to be Mrs. Garrett Thomas Maddox. I love you, sweetie. Thank you for asking me to be your wife. It all began with me learning to delight in God, and now He’s teaching me how to delight in you. I pray that He gives us many years to delight in each other.


Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Works For Me: Bible Study Software


I love books. I really do. I love to look at them and touch them. Sometimes even smell them. I am an official Bookworm.

Preparing to teach a Bible study provides ample opportunity to be surrounded by great books, what with commentaries, word studies, and the Greatest Book of All (the Bible). But there's a better way. I have grown a love that is wide and deep for Bible study software. Here are my favorites:
  • PC Study Bible - I use this to prepare for any Bible teaching endeavor. Noteworthy features are numerous Biblical translations, original word study, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, pictures, maps, and concordances. You can copy text from the software to your notes and even get a reference with the copied text. You install the software on your computer, so you don't need to be online to use it. It's a little on the pricey side, but I've found it to be well worth the money.
  • Bible Gateway - This is a nice online tool that you can use for word searches and Scripture lookup and several different Bible translations. I like to use it to link Scripture references from my blog. They also provide the html code to add the search feature or a verse of the day to your website.
  • Crosswalk Bible Study Tools - Crosswalk provides online access to the same types of tools as the PC Study Bible. One noteable addition is that the Strong's lexicon provides an audio file of how to pronounce the word in its original language. Here's "psalm" as an example. Also, since these are online tools you can link to them from the blog. Since I'm doing Sunday School lessons on my blog this is a nice tool to use.

Check out Shannon's blog for more tips!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

(BLOGGY GIVEAWAY) Sunday School - Psalm 23 Lesson 2

[Enter a comment and you will be eligible to win this beautiful print. Deadline is Saturday, May 17, at Midnight CST.]

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1, NIV)

“THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.” (Psalm 23:1, The Amplified Bible)


Sometimes I daydream about what I would do if I won a million dollars (I’m shallow that way). A few things come to mind.



As you can see, I’ve given this topic some serious thought.

But Jason Castro (channeling Neil Diamond) gives us a little reminder about money.



(Isn’t he a cutie? I want to squeeze his cheeks every time I see this.)

(And take scissors to his hair. Please, Lord, get the boy a fauxhawk.)

(And the thing about blue jeans? They can be quite expensive these days.)

Anyhoo, when David said, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want,” he wasn’t declaring God to be a disburser of winning lottery tickets. As a matter of fact, when a rich young man came to Jesus asking how to gain eternal life, Jesus told Him to give up physical riches to gain spiritual ones.

So as our Shepherd, what does He provide for us? We’ll be learning more about this in the weeks to come, but here’s a few examples just to get us thinking:

I’m a computer engineer (i.e. NERD), so of course this idea of “lacking nothing” reminds me of computer games. (What, you too?) I like the type of game where you travel through a mythical land, pick things up along the way, and solve puzzles. When I reached a puzzle that I needed to solve to continue in the game, I would look at everything I’d picked up and see how I could use them to solve the puzzle and move forward. (“Surely I must be able to use this used bubble gum and bungee cord to find the invisible map!”)

In the same way, if I stay connected to Him, God gives me everything I need along the way to fulfill His purpose for me. Be it wisdom, a particular skill, the right friend at the right time, or even some much needed cash, it all comes from Him. And if I don’t think that I have what I need? Well, I know where to go to find it. It’s amazing how Scripture can speak to my specific situation during my quiet times and give me an idea or change in perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t turn down a million dollars. (Cash please.) But it will not meet all of my needs. Instead of looking at the cash, I look to the Shepherd. And He’s worth much more to me than a lottery ticket.

Questions:

  • What do you want or need?
  • How has Jesus met your needs?
  • What skills, abilities, experiences, and relationships has God given you to equip you for your future?
  • Do you feel comfortable approaching Him to meet your needs?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Knock, Knock, Who's There?

I am in the interview process with Edward Jones. I've passed the initial 2 phone interviews and background check. Today I completed the next step in the process. It is the experience of being out in the field. I had to go door to door with a simple survey. I went to businesses and residential homes around where I live and ask them questions about how long they have lived here, what do they like about the area, etc. I will tell you that I had a good time doing it except for a few things.

1) The inital look of "Oh crud, what is he up to?" from the people I approached - You know that look because we've all been in that situation.

2) People not being home. - I had knuckle cramps from all that knocking.

3) Not having the ability to tell them who I represent. - I think it would have disarmed them quicker had they known who was asking me to do the surveys.

Once the interviewee knew I wasn't trying to be shady everything went fine.

I know how frustrating it is when someone knocks on your door to try and sell something to you. Edward Jones' corner stone of success is doing the door to door approach. Once hired they will train me how to be successful with talking with prospective clients.

Now I want to hear from you. What do you think makes a good or bad salesman? Any input would be helpful because I want to try and avoid those things that turn people off.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sunday School - Psalm 23 Lesson 1

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)

The long day eases into a cool night. I crouch near the warmth of a fire and allow the murmur of conversations and the warmth of the blaze draw me into a thoughtful state. As my mind drifts from thought to thought, the sounds of muted chatter and crackling campfires give way to the strum of a harp. Music! The perfect companion to a melancholy mood. I come to my feet and search for the source of the melody. A large crowd surrounds one campfire, with all eyes directed toward the center. Could it be David? I’ve heard David touches hearts with his voice. Now is my chance to hear for myself.

As I approach the crowd, I hear the first words of the melody - "The Lord is my shepherd…." My heart catches. David sings with conviction and something else..gratitude...relief? Or are those my own feelings? As I reach the crowd, I see David's face illuminated by the glow of the fire. He sings with eyes closed and head thrown back to revel in the care of an unseen Shepherd. I then look at the faces around me. Some shine with tears, others soften with tenderness. All reflect the power of revelation. After all, this group knows the life of a shepherd...

Sheep go baaa. That’s about all I know about those critters, other than they’re tasty and provide wonderful wool skirts. And shepherds? Well, in my mind, the word "shepherd" inspires a vague image of someone herding sheep with a big stick. Wikipedia offers me more information than I ever cared to know about sheep and shepherds, but the over-share prompts only a “Look at the pretty sheep faces!” from me.


The psalmist David did not require Wikipedia or pretty pictures. The word "shepherd" brought to his mind, not a vague image, but memories. Before he became King David, the young man with ruddy appearance and handsome features lived as a humble shepherd. It’s likely David expected to tend sheep for his entire life, but God had another purpose for him.

God used David’s time as a shepherd of sheep to enable him to become a shepherd of men. As a shepherd, David learned to provide for the physical needs of his sheep, to protect them from enemies, and to care for the weak…all worthy lessons for a king-in-training. David would also need the heart of worship that he developed in solitude to lead a nation in worship of God. There quite possibly would not have been a King David if there had not first been a shepherd David. And from the offspring of David, the Shepherd King.

God prepares each of us the same way that He prepared David. God determines when and where each one of us will live so that we will know Him better. He uses our past experiences, skills, abilities, and gifts in order to serve others and to make Himself famous through us.

An awesome book gave me an interesting tidbit: shepherds cut distinguishable notches into the ears of their sheep to mark ownership. The mark of ownership is obvious from a distance. Though I do not bear a physical mark to distinguish me as a Christian, I bear a permanent spiritual mark. The Holy Spirit marked me and sealed me as belonging to Jesus. Life provides many opportunities to hide that mark, but Psalm 23 instructs me in how to keep it obvious by reminding me of the character of the One that cares for me.

I don’t know much about human shepherds, but my heavenly Shepherd teaches me about Himself in Psalm 23. Good-bye Wikipedia, hello Scripture. Holy Spirit, please teach us.


Questions:

  1. Has there been a circumstance in your life that God has allowed in order to bring you to a greater understanding of an aspect of His character?
  2. Can you recall a time when you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Shepherd? If not, what has held you back?
  3. If Jesus is your Shepherd, would you say that it’s obvious to the world that you belong to Him? How?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Works For Me: Prayer Journal

I like to journal my prayers during my quiet time, otherwise my mind will drift from, "Father, thank you for blessing me in so many ways," to, "Should I wear heeled or flat sandals with that skirt?" Writing helps me stay focused.

I usually buy my own journals, but my former Sunday School class gave me my favorite journal of all time. We'd spent some time studying the names of God, so one of the class members pasted the names we covered with their meanings into the inside cover of a journal. With this handy-dandy list, I started opening my prayers each day using one of the names of God. I started at the first name listed and rotated through the entire list. It was amazing how often the name for that day reminded me of the part of God's character that I needed in that moment. With Jehovah Mekadesh, I was reminded to ask God to sanctify my attitudes. Calling Him Jehovah Jireh reminded me that God provides me of Himself. And saying "Jehovah Shalom" reminded me that He will give me peace if my sould would cling to Him. It works for me!


Go to http://www.rocksinmydryer.net/ for more tips!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday School - Psalm 23 Introduction

Email forwards are a fact of life. All manner of truth or fiction make their way into my inbox. If it’s not Obama and the US flag, then it’s a scare about telemarketers calling our cell phones. Every once in a while an email drops into my inbox with “facts” about the Psalms – Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119 the longest, Psalm 118 the center, and Psalm 118:8 is the center verse. Knowing that I can’t believe everything that I see in email forwards, I googled and came across this, which contains this quote by James Montgomery Boice from his Psalms: An Expositional Commentary (Vol. 3):

“What do you suppose a middle verse should say? Shouldn't the middle verse of the Bible be John 3:16, or its equivalent? Or something from Psalm 23?”

It turns out that Psalm 118 isn’t the center of the Bible, and neither is Psalm 23. I thought that it was a little strange that Boice classed Psalm 23 with John 3:16. After all, John 3:16 is about life and Psalm 23 is generally saved for funerals. However, deeper study reveals that Psalm 23 does not speak of death...it glorifies the Life Giver. Worth taking a look, don’t you think?

Before studying Psalm 23, let’s take a look at the Psalms in general. The transliteration for “psalm” is mizmowr, which can be translated as “melody.” According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the Psalms are “A collection of songs of praise that are theological statements and poetically represent human dialogue with God.” They were originally set to music and reveal God’s heart for us and a heart for God. Think of them as some of the favorite songs of the Hebrew people.

If you’re like me, you have several favorite songs. As a matter of fact, my current fave depends on my current mood or the occasion. TobyMac provides ideal work-out music (or so I imagine, not having been in a gym in many a moon). A romantic evening with my husband calls for something classical (no words so that we can speak sweet nothings into each other’s ears). And during Bible study, anything written by Shane & Shane helps me to dive into Scripture (those guys are deep!). My iPod holds many playlists for my many moods. After all, I’m a complicated woman. (Ha!)

But men can be complicated, too. Enter David, writer of psalms. As a teenager, David didn’t have the (debatable) luxury of an iPod, so he wrote his own songs. As a matter of fact, 73 of the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Bible, including Psalm 23, are attributed to him.

David enjoyed a reputation as a gifted singer, despite spending his days tending his father’s sheep. His music even provided a king relief from an evil spirit. He reminds me of the young man described in the song “Killing Me Softly”, written by Roberta Flack. The song describes a young man with the ability to make his listeners feel like he’s baring their souls to the world. David achieved the same thing in his psalm writing. Psalm 13, Psalm 32, Psalm 63, and yes, Psalm 23 are just a few of the psalms that tell my life in such a way that I want to look around and see if anyone is watching. They were written thousands of years ago, but they speak to my life right now.

“Now wait just a minute,” you may be thinking. “I’m a busy mom, or a member of a cubicle farm, or a student dreading an upcoming test. I don’t exactly relate to people in the Bible. Shepherds? What do they even do? Is it, like, dirty?”

Questions like these reveal that a culture gap often robs us of the true meaning of Scripture. Take a look at The Twenty-Third Psalm according to the Khmus Tribe of Laos. Now don’t laugh too hard. Our 21st century culture also paints pictures of the 23rd Psalm that are not accurate, relegating it to the dead and dying. But the truth is that it reveals Jesus as our Shepherd, Savior, Provider, Defender, and more.

In the next few Sundays I’d like to scratch away our cultural assumptions and study Psalm 23 from its culture of origination. Please join me in sitting at the feet of David, the shepherd king, as he sings to us about the Shepherd King.

Questions

  1. What is your favorite song? Why?
  2. What Psalm speaks to you where you are right now?
  3. How would you translate Psalm 23 from the point of view of your own culture?

The 23rd Psalm?

I got this from a missionary at a Perspectives class. I don't know if it's real or not, but it's interesting to think of how a cultural gap can lead us to misinterpret Scripture.

The 23rd Psalm
(According to the Khmus Tribe of Laos)

The Great Boss is the one who takes care of my sheep,
I don't want to own anything.
The Great Boss wants me to lie down in the field.
He wants me to go to the lake.
He makes my good spirit come back.
Even though I walk through something the missionary calls the valley of the shadow of death,
I do not care.
You are with me.
You use a stick and a club to make me comfortable.
You manufacture a piece of furniture right in front of my eyes while my enemies watch.
You pour car grease on my head.
My cup has too much water in it and therefore overflows.
Goodness and kindness will walk single file behind me all my life.
And I will live in the hut of the Great Boss until I die and am forgotten by the tribe.

(If anyone can tell me where this originated from please let me know!)