Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baby Beach Bum

This little guy is having a terrific time digging in the sand. He has no intention of taking a nap at all!

Oil painting
February 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are you hungry yet?

Hi guys, I was listening to this awesome speaker, Ravi Zacharias. He is possibly one of the best Christian apologists of our time. I then decided to read some of his blog. This was such a fantastic read, I thought I'd share. I highlighted the portions that were especially meaningful, although the entire text is good stuff! A very nice pick-me-up--read to the end!

The Hungering Spirit

I have pondered long and hard the question of why people turn to God. I remember a woman from Romania telling me that she was raised in a staunchly atheistic environment. They were not allowed to even mention the name of God in their household, lest they be overheard and their entire education denied. After she came to the United States, I happened to be her patient when I was recovering from back surgery. When I had the privilege of praying with her one day, she said as she wiped away her tears, "Deep in my heart I have always believed there was a God. I just didn't know how to find him."

This sentiment is repeated scores of times. More recently, I had the great privilege of meeting with two very key people in an avowedly atheistic country. After I finished praying, one of them said, "I have never prayed in my entire life, and I have never heard anyone else pray. This is a first for me. Thank you for teaching me how to pray." It was obvious that even spiritual hungers that have been suppressed for an entire lifetime are in evidence when in a situation where there is possible fulfillment.

Although I agree that the problem of pain may be one of the greatest challenges to faith in God, I dare suggest that it is the problem of pleasure that more often drives us to think of spiritual things. Sexuality, greed, fame, and momentary thrills are actually the most precarious attractions in the world. Pain forces us to accept our finitude. It can breed cynicism, weariness, and fatigue in just living. Pain sends us in search of a greater power. Introspection, superstition, ceremony, and vows can all come as a result of pain. But disappointment in pleasure is a completely different thing. While pain can often be seen as a means to a greater end, pleasure is seen as an end in itself. And when pleasure has run its course, a sense of despondency can creep into one's soul that may often lead to self-​destruction. Pain can often be temporary; but disappointment in pleasure gives rise to emptiness—not just for a moment, but for life. There can seem to be no reason to life, no preconfigured purpose, if even pleasure brings no lasting fulfillment.

This is why I believe that the intertwining of pain with pleasure is at the root of the human dilemma and at the core of the hungering spirit. People in pain may look for comfort and explanations. People disappointed in pleasure look for purpose. But this is where, I believe, the West has lost its way. In our boredom, we may search for an escape in the strange or the distorted, while God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Only in the Judeo-​Christian worldview is every person understood to be created in God's image, for God himself is a person. Likewise, each person has relational priorities that are implicitly built in, not by nature but by God's design. Consider the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Even in that stoic culture, where community rises above everything else, each one who wept was grieving the loss of their own loved ones: They were not grieving just for the total loss of life but also for their personal loss. This is real. It is not imaginary. We stand before the individual graves of the ones we love more often than we stand before a graveyard in general.

But there is more. Personhood transcends mere DNA. There is essential worth to each person. In Christianity, the essence of each and every person and the individual reality of each life is sacred. It is sacred because intrinsic value has been given to us by our Creator, who has revealed himself in the starry skies and upon a nail-scarred cross.

The more I reflect on my own life and interact with others, I am fascinated to see the design God has for each one of us individually, if we would only respond. The truth is that I have known people who in the peak of their success have turned to God, and I have known others, drowning in pain and defeat, who seek God for an answer. Either extreme leaves haunting questions. God alone knows how we will respond to either.

God has created us for his purpose, and relationship and worship are built into this design. God alone can weave a pattern from the disparate threads of our lives and fashion a magnificent design. Perhaps today, if you will stop and reflect on it, you will see that Christ is seeking your hungering spirit.

All for now,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hannah sings first solo for church service

We interupt this normal blog reader's schedule to announce that Hannah Rose Williams sang her first solo at the Grand Prairie Seventh-day Adventist Church February 18, 2012. Williams sang Someone Worth Dying For (artist/band: Mikeschair) as special music for the 11 o'clock service. The Burton Adventist Academy junior high drama club was presenting a skit for the congregation and Williams was "volunteered" by her drama coach, 7th grade teacher, Carlos Rodriguez.

"He just pointed to me during drama practice," the 6th grader said, "and said he'd volunteered me for special music. I blushed and said okay."

Asked if she was nervous during her performance, the 12-year-old stated, "My knees were shaking so badly, I was afraid everyone could tell!" But many church members, who shook the junior high schoolers' hands as they filed out of the sanctuary, remarked on Williams' great composure as she sang, and complimented her on her voice, and using it to serve Him.

Perhaps the proudest people in the room were, of course, Williams' parents. "I cried like a baby," Mrs. Williams admitted. And Daddy Williams? He just beamed and beamed as he videotaped from the back of the church.

"We're looking forward to the next time she sings," said Mama Williams, smiling through her tears. "We love hearing our daughter lift up her voice for Him."

byline: Tricia (Mama) Williams

Birthday girl is 12

Well, I thought I'd share some birthday photos--our girlie turned 12 years old February 8. Hard to believe! I had thought maybe she would feel having a birthday cake (Photo #1) with candles was too "little kiddish." My mistake. She looked a bit crestfallen when I said I wasn't sure if we would "do cake." Boy, oh, boy, did I remedy that! ha! I guess everyone, at every age, pretty much likes cake. Lesson learned! :)

We had her good friend, Adam, over for the celebration (the day before her actual birthday). He's always been such a good chum for her. Instead of trying to figure out which girlfriend to invite to our smallish apartment, I decided to just invite Adam over instead, to change things up a little. You can see in Photo #2 we had a great time!

Then on her birthday, our dear friend and neighbor, Darla, brought Hannah some wonderful gifts. She found Hannah an I Love Lucy Monopoly game! What fun! We were all excited about that one. She also created the coolest gigantic tissue paper flower (Photo #3), and on the inside were goodies--candy, chapsticks, etc. Kinda of like a fancy pinata that you don't hit with a stick! ha!

After I picked Hannah up from school, we went to Build-A-Bear where we bought some clothes for her bears. She picked some really cute outfits out, including a cute pink Rangers T-shirt for one! All in all, a fun time.

Still can't believe she's 12 (sniff, sniff). My baby. My precious. My love.

All for now,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hannah's essay

Just found a paper Hannah wrote for 6th grade Bible class. I decided to share. The content actually surprised me because she's never given any indication she would like to teach. And I don't think John or I have ever said anything, positive or negative, about teaching in the Adventist church. If she does choose this as her path 10 years from now, we will sit down and tell her all the good, the bad, and the ugly of what may lay ahead of her. But it will be her choice and we will stand behind her 100%! Ultimately, if she's following His guidance, she can't go wrong.

"What I want to be when I grow up is a Seventh-day Adventist teacher, teaching at an Adventist school.

The reason I want to be a teacher is because I'm pretty good with kids. I mean being with kids all day long can be tiring, but God would help me get through. With the Lord's help and guidance, I would be able to help, guide, and teach throughout the day.

Dear Lord,
Guide me as I go throughout my life in helping others. People keep telling me that I'm a good kid, but I know that, that's just You within me. Help me to honor and count my blessings. I want to teach for You, not just to teach to teach. I want to be a good, kind and loving person and teacher.

In Your Name I Pray, Amen."

Read this on the couch just now, feeling a little misty-eyed thanks to my nearly-12 year old daughter. Sooooo thankful for her.