A trip to Home Sweet Texas

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sometimes everything combines at just the right time to make the perfect trip: great company, a wonderful destination, good chocolate, a head-full of fascinating topics to discuss, and Texans. 

That’s what happened exactly 4 weeks ago today. Curtis and I boarded a lovely large jet bound for home sweet Texas, and it whisked us away to a beautiful hot land of amazing sights and smells and tastes and even more amazing people. 

This post is a small interlude between series-posts, which will continue soon (when I can catch a snippet of time in the midst of packing, labeling, and stacking piles of moving boxes). 

(where, you might ask, am I getting the time to write this post? Well, it happens that it’s about 9:00 at night, I have just finished a massive day of said packing, and now everyone is catching up on life for a few minutes.)

So… need I say that it was good to be back? It would be the understatement of the year. Just arriving in Austin, getting our feet on solid Texas soil again, and hearing the rustling paper-shuffling sounds of grackles outside the airport was incredible enough. Curtis and I exchanged smiles. I cried. We filled our lungs gratefully with the good strong hot air of a Texas afternoon, and we were very happy.

That was only the beginning! Here are a smattering of pictures to give you an idea of our awesome time! Note: I didn’t get any pics of what we actually went to Texas for, which was for Curtis to check out the orthopedic residency options… but those would simply have been pics of the outsides of buildings. Not very interesting. Just thought I’d mention…

"Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong....." Sigh...

Enjoying some much-anticipated R&R time at the home of some of our favorite people...

...As well as enjoying lots of music with friends. Okay, a note about this picture: in case you are wondering why in the world Curtis has his pants rolled up, it's because (after a LONG day of appointments), we had the privilege of sitting outside in the Texas afternoon/evening with our feet in the pool, solving the world's problems with another of our favorite people!

Yet more music...

...And a very ingenious way of enjoying s'mores without mosquitoes! :)

I don't think it gets more idyllic than this, unless you add wonderful friends into the picture (which was true for us), in which case life is about perfect.

We arrived early on Sunday morning to help get breakfast ready. I LOVE this church kitchen! I think they have everything you could possibly need, all organized beautifully. Somebody has really thought ahead about this. I'm very impressed.

Our beloved adopted Grandmother... we love her to bits, and miss her like crazy!!

A good man, among bluebonnets. I see the beginning of a song. It's going to be epic.

Speaking of epic, this ride! Wow. We were so happy to be able to spend some time with a wonderful couple who live out in the middle of nowhere; their stories are incredible, their lives fascinating, and their testimony inspiring. It is SO encouraging to see couples who are still strongly committed to each other and still loving each other after 50+ years of marriage. I want to be like them someday.

I also wouldn't complain if I lived in Texas someday. Is this amazingly beautiful or what?! Just looking at it reminds me of the smell of that grass, and the trees, and the sounds of the goats nearby... aaaahhhh....

And here we are, back in the airport again, heading home to Vermont. What a trip! I wonder if I could convince Curtis that he needs to check out some more residency programs in San Antonio?? :) If so, my bags are packed (and I have a feeling that one of them would contain a little-sis stowaway)......

Standing firm against the secular tide: Part 2 of 5

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This is typical of Quebec. 

This is what Christian Quebecois are up against, and this is the message that non-Christian Quebecois are saturated in, all.the.time.

Dominique works at a prison; I asked him recently if he has opportunities to witness for Christ at his workplace.

“Yes,” he said, “but the opportunities are rare. Everyone at my job knows I am a Christian but none of my coworkers truly believe in Christ.

“I have preached the gospel more than once to many different coworkers over the years but I have never yet seen anyone get converted at my job; some are not interested at all, and have asked me not to preach to them anymore. Others have been more receptive and have allowed me to talk about Christ.

"But I never try to accommodate the truth in order to please them. I preach the gospel as it is and let the cross be an offense to them. I am not afraid of the scandal of the cross. I am not afraid of being tagged negatively by some of my coworkers because of Jesus. It is not always easy to make a stand for Jesus-Christ when you are alone, but by God’s grace, I stand firm. 

"I have been confronted with many situations at my workplace: One example was when two of my colleagues wanted me to help them provoke an inmate who was a real rascal to say something in order to beat him up. I told them I would not allow that and would not lie to cover it up if it happened. One of my colleagues went to the trade union and talked about me negatively, saying they could not trust me. So the president of the trade union asked to meet me and tried to convince me that I should lie to cover my fellow co-workers if something bad happened. I told them that they could not ask me to lie and that I would not lie.
"That episode alienated me from a few colleagues who did not appreciate my stand and saw me as a threat; some co-workers have even tried to reason with me about not letting my religious convictions interfere in my work, but I have always told them that Jesus Christ is my life and I will always obey God first. 

"Time has passed since that episode and I feel like most of my colleagues accept me now, but I know some are still reluctant to work with me. Yet I always recall what Jesus said: ‘And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake’…”

Do you have a strong church?

“Well, that is not easy to answer. I could say yes and no at the same time for various reasons.

“I could say no because there are not many people who have good biblical discernment. I could say no because I do not find many men who could drive me toward more holiness and Christ likeness. I do not see anyone who could encourage me or who strive to be more like Christ in every aspect of their lives. 

"However, I could also say that I have a strong church because we have a new pastor who has begun to preach God’s Word powerfully. 

"Our new pastor is trying to preach on God’s law, which is very good, but at the same time, I fear that he will downplay some of his teachings over time when facing opposition in the church. That has already begun to happen. 

"Our new pastor is also more aware of the importance of the family and children and is open to parents who want to keep their children with them during the worship service. But that was not always the case before that pastor came in; I have witnessed personally a brother in Christ who was threatened to be under church discipline for keeping his children with him during the worship service. 

What is your vision for raising a Godly family, despite being surrounded by such darkness?

"My only vision is Jesus Christ crucified. All I want is for my children to know the Lord and follow the Lord; I want my whole family to serve the Most High with all our hearts, soul, might and strength. 

"It is very important for me to be involved in every aspect of my family’s life. I am always improving as a father and as a husband. I study the Bible in order to know what a biblical father and a biblical husband must be and what he should do to lead his family. 

"Raising a Godly family in an environment that is hostile towards God takes time and a lot of investment. 

"We are at war and the war is spiritual. It is an honor for me to raise an army of soldiers for Christ."

Standing firm against the secular tide: Part 1 of 5

Monday, May 9, 2016

Meet Dominique and Cynthia.

Part of the 0.06% of evangelical Christians in Quebec, their story is a testimony to God's awesome faithfulness.

Why? Both of them lived completely secular, godless lives, with little or no exposure to Christianity, before God gripped them with His love in a powerful way.

Now, as Quebecois Christians, they are very alone. 

Their faith makes them a target for mistrust and criticism, and their family values make them look totally out of touch with the secular culture. Cynthia wrote recently, "Here in Quebec, when you tell someone you are a Christian, that person will probably think you are in some sort of sect..."

"We are seen as bizarre and naïve, or as freaks."
"When you speak about God or Jesus or the Bible, people get annoyed or frustrated quickly... and you can be sure that from now on they will try to avoid you. Some people are more honest and will tell you they simply don't want to hear about your things (that's when they are very polite). But a few persons will ask questions to know more about our faith and God."

"We have a great need in Quebec for pastors who are committed to real doctrine and to the Scriptures," Cynthia says. "Christians here tend to live their lives like "good" non-Christians... They need to hear the Word of God preached with power, and they need more Christ-centered families to look up to."

And one of the biggest ways that Christians in America can help is to pray. 

“Please pray that Christians in Quebec may glorify God in their life,” Cynthia wrote, “and that they would be committed to Biblical doctrine. Also, pray that Christians in Quebec would share the Gospel with non-Christians even if it is very difficult.”

Tomorrow I’ll post on Dominique’s perspective – about their tiny church, his secular workplace, and what it’s like to raise a Godly family in a difficult land.

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