Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

YES! It Took a Year and a Half...

... and I finally did it! I conquered ZUMA!

Zuma Level 13

now what am I gonna find to do?

God Day at Natchez Trace

Katie and I spent the day at Natchez Trace yesterday doing Bible Study and simply enjoying God's Creation.

It was a good day weatherwise...sunny and bright. Mid 80s and little to no humidity. Absolutely a wonderful day!

We were able to prepare for our SaLT Group study and also did some of our current in depth study on holiness.

Oh and we were able to PRAISE THE LORD FOR KATIE'S NEW JOB! She will start with Career Services at Union University on August 1! This is a very exciting and anxious time for her, but IT'S GONNA BE AWESOME!

God did it!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Caught Speeding

YES! There is something very satisfying about watching a police car pull over a motorcyclist, who just minutes before, had passed me like I was standing still at 55 mph.

Katie and I literally clapped for the officer when we drove by.

Thank you to all police officers working to keep the highways and streets safe for us.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

God Can Not Forgive...

God can not forgive excuses. God can not forgive alibis. God can only forgive sin. And God will make you clean again.

I've paraphrased what I heard in an Adrian Rogers message on the radio today. I thought it was cool.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Sue and Katie Show Teaser

ListenClick HERE to HEAR!

This is what the producer of Online Christian Talk Radio came up with as a teaser for The Sue and Katie show. It gives one a taste of some of our podcasts and soon to be radio show that will be aired on Fridays, beginning Friday, July 20, 2007.

Check it out!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Christian Talk Radio

New Internet Radio Station and you can actually hear Katie and I on it!

Check it out!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Spontaneous Drive-In Movie Night

After dinner conversation turned to drive-in movies and the waitress, overhearing our conversation, mentioned that a new Drive-In opened in Camden, TN.

We decided right then and there to go! Spontaneity! You gotta love it!

We came home, Googled the Birdsong Drive-In Theater in Camden, TN, printed a map and directions and we were off! The picture is what we looked like (obviously straining to get all three of us in the pic) when we pulled out of the driveway!

An hour and a half later we arrived at the theater and enjoyed popcorn and a movie from the comfort of my jeep! Drive-Ins...what makes them so fun?

They are less expensive for sure, partly because you get a double-feature! (Of course, for the gas we spent on the 90 minute drive one way we didn't really save anything! That, and we didn't stay for the second movie or we wouldn't have arrived home until after 2am...waaaaay too late for us!) Also, the comfort of the car is nice, although I'm not sure the person in the back seat would say the same. Being able to adjust the volume by way of the radio dial is nice too! Concessions were also reasonably priced.

Things I forgot in the nostalgia of remembering drive-in movies would be the fact that people are constantly walking around, and sometimes in front of your car. Lights are an issue, and we were getting a double feature with a remnant fireworks display being shot off in the neighborhood. We were parked in the rear of the lot and therefore pretty far from the screen, so The Transformers looked pretty small to us! Toward the end of the movie, the windsheild started fogging up and blurred the picture! Ugh! It was one of those hot and muggy summer nights when its hard to find the right balance of defrost and air to keep the windshield clear.

All and all it was a blast! We laughed and had a great time as a framily!

Woohooo! Yay for spontaneous drive-in movie night!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Our small groups this summer are working through CJ Mahoney's book "Why Small Groups". (You can download a pdf version here.) In this second week, Chapter Two, the topic is on fellowship, and is called Fellowship Rediscovered. John Loftness, the author of this particular chapter, points out that today's church has redefined and simplified fellowship to mean any warm human interaction. But, this is NOT biblical fellowship.

SaLT MeetingThis study is requiring those of us in small groups, or in any Christian community, to examine what we are doing to foster real, biblical fellowship. Fellowship is not a small group bible study where we meet together to discuss theology and learn about Biblical truths while we sit in a room together. It is not attending a Women of Faith, or a Promise Keepers gathering where emotional stimulation is high and we are surrounded by hundreds of others in the faith. It is not friendly conversations with other sisters in Christ who share the same interests like blogging, gardening or movies, nor is it a men's social gathering to watch the Super Bowl or go whitewater rafting.

At our church we have FWF, First Wednesday Fellowship. This is a meal we share together the First Wednesday of every month, and it is usually a potluck type deal. We eat together and mingle with one another sharing stories of our week, laughing about various experiences and simply sharing what's going on. I believe the purpose behind this is noble because the intent is for believers to "break bread" together and work to build relationships. Unfortunately, building relationships, even with other believers, requires effort, and too many of us aren't willing to commit to relationship building in the way God intended.

Truthfully, I don't much enjoy FWF and rarely attend. One reason is it's all surface stuff, it's all "small talk", and introverts like me don't ever really enjoy that kind of stuff anyway. I don't think anyone over the years has ever asked "So, what is God doing in your life these days Sue?" Although there are exceptions, because I know for a fact there are good, sound, and biblical relationships being fostered at my church, the word fellowship, in general has come to mean food and small talk. The many SaLT Groups (small groups) in our church that meet weekly will have a good half hour to an hour of "fellowship" before the study begins, and that means we share a light meal together before bible study. Christians toss the term fellowship around like it is some sort of an event, when it is much more than that.

So what is fellowship? What does God intend it to be?
"Fellowship is a uniquely Christian relational experience. No one but those born of the Spirit of God can have fellowship"... "participating together in the life and truth made possible by the Holy Spirit through our union with Christ. Fellowship is sharing something in common on the deepest possible level of human relationship -- our experience with God himself."
In order to have fellowship with each other, Christians must first have fellowship with God. God is the source of fellowship, and fellowship is manifested through the Holy Spirit directly in our hearts, and the work of the Holy Spirit through other believers. God is the source and He designed us to work together in His love and mercy, to grow in knowledge of Him. He designed us to use the spiritual gifts he gave us to encourage one another in the faith, lift one another up in prayer, work to restore one another to fellowship when one strays from the faith, carry one another's burdens, and worship Him.

Fellowship isn't all roses. It's dirty work. It's sacrificial work. Sometimes it hurts.
John 15:12-13

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
If we are commanded to love each enough to lay down our lives for each other, then, as the leader of last weeks group said, "changing diapers shouldn't be anything". When a couple you know is struggling through a difficult time in their marriage, maybe it is time you took their kids for a weekend so that they might have some alone time to work things through. Maybe it is time you volunteered to pick up the "shut ins" from your church and get them to a worship service, and really get to know them on the way. Maybe it is time to listen to your friend without offering your words of wisdom. Maybe it is time to go to your friend who you suspect is involved in some type of sin, and talk to them about it, and be willing to carry that burden as well. Go to that AA meeting with them, hold them when they cry, and not think about yourself.

Fellowship is an investment in each other. Love God first, then love others. This is what Jesus taught, this is what Jesus did. When we do this, we are most like Christ.

Justin PraysHave you listened to a list of prayer requests in your community of believers recently? It strikes me that many of the requests are for physical healing of self, family and/or friends. I can also recall a number of times people have requested prayer for a non-believer they know, that they may come to know Christ. But, how often do you hear a fellow Christian ask for prayer about a spiritual need that they themselves have? Are we sharing each other's burdens like we are supposed to? Why?

We can't share each other's burdens unless we reveal that we have any! Fellowship, true Godly fellowship, would foster an atmosphere that would allow freedom to worship and freedom to confess! Freedom to confess without fear of judgment or condescension! If we can't fellowship as God intended, how will we ever be successful at discipleship?

What can the church do to be proactive about fellowship? Be careful to understand that doing any of these things will not automatically produce fellowship, these, instead are "means of fellowship". This is a list from Chapter Two:
  1. Share about our spiritual experiences.
  2. Confess our sins to one another.
  3. Correct one another.
  4. Serve on another in practical ways.
These are some of the discussion questions, and some of my own, that conclude the chapter and really gave me some things to consider. Maybe they will for you too.
  • Can you name an activity you once believed to be fellowship, but which actually is not?
  • Which spiritual gifts do you think you possess? How might these promote fellowship in your small group?
  • Do you know the spiritual gifts of the members of your small group? Are those gifts being utilized in your group?
  • Do you know about the major spiritual experiences of the members in your group?
  • Self-sufficiency, formality, bitterness, elitism; Do these categories suggest any sin you may need to confess?
  • Do you know how God is currently working in the lives of the members of your group?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Our Marvelous Albania Mission Adventure Part III - Culture Shock!

Taking in the city of Tirana that first night made me wonder if what I was feeling wasn't so far from what a newborn feels when he opens his eyes and sees his new surroundings for the first time. As tired as I was from travelling, I could feel the biggest adrenalin rush kicking in. My eyes must have been as big as saucers as I examined my new surroundings....street signs in Shquip, shopping centers and buildings very different from home, new trees, mountains, streets, cars, exits, and TRAFFIC quite different from what we have been accustomed to here in the US. My mind was filled with curiousity, amazement, anticipation, and a bit of anxiety at the scenery that was anything but familiar to all I had known my entire life. I remember how exciting it was when we saw the Coca-Cola factory and the welcome signs to President Bush as history was made in Albania (by the first visit of a US president whom they love VERY much).

As the bus transported us the place where we would be staying (a place that I had never seen before), I couldn't even begin to absorb all of the obvious cultural differences that were becoming apparent to me. The biggest shock was the interesting means of getting from one place to another.

The Albanian government is in a reformation process. They have only been a democratic nation since the 90's. Prior to the reformation, they were under communist rule. The streets were merely a means of military mobilization and only a handful of government officials owned vehicles. So, the streets are not marked well and the drivers are VERY inexperienced at organized driving! (Surprisingly enough, I witnessed NO accidents during my entire stay in Tirana.)

There was a mixture of gasping, screaming, and laughing going on for much of our traveling time in the city. At times we thought we were going to die. At times we thought we might be witnessing a pedestrian being flattened beneath us. At times we just laughed in sheer disbelief.

The first real eye-opener occured as we were driving down the alley to our new quarters. We learned that first night that the best plan was to park the bus on the main strip and walk to the Christian center! Let me explain...

It seems that there are a few unspoken rules that every driver in Albania must understand. We learned the first of those rules upon arrival at the Christian center.

Rule #1:
There are no one way streets. If the traffic is going one way down the alley, and a driver wants to go the other way, you play chicken. The submissive vehicle will back out or there will be a serious traffic jam that will require the lollipop of authority (a policeman who has a stick to direct traffic with).

So, there we are...twenty tired missionaries, four members of our host family, and one great, humble, merciful, Albanian bus driver who attempts to get us as close to "home" as possible. As we squeeze our tour bus down the narrow alley, and approach the door to the gate of our new "home", we find that we have a bit of a problem.....

Traffic has entered from the other direction and wants us to move out of the way. How did we do that? We, THE BIG GIANT TOUR BUS, submit to the iiiiiitty biiiiiitty BULLY sedan as he "encourages" us to get out of his way. Several other vehicles begin to line up behind him as we graciously squeeezzzeee BACKWARDS down the VERY NARROW alley way!

Making a very wise decision, the driver as well as our host, determine the best plan to be letting us all unload two weeks worth of luggage and gifts from twenty missionaries, and carry it all down the alley through the courtyard of the center around the main building to our living quarters in the back! That was quite the experience.

It was nice to have our first taste of Albanian food when our hosts ordered pizza for us as we were about to settle in for the night. Shortly after scarfing down several huge, delicious pizzas (that were deemed better than American pizzas by my son the pizza pro), we began to have our next cultural and bathrooms!

The streets are very dusty in Tirana so the custom is to provide "house shoes" for guests who come into your home. Shoes are taken off at the door and are replaced by the house shoes. The shoes are basically rubber sandals. As we brought out things into our rooms, Cindy pointed out that each of us had house shoes and lots of bottled water under our beds (water is not safe to drink in Albania and we had to swap house shoes with each other in order to find a pair that fit the closest).

Next, Cindy showed us our "bathing quarters". There was one restroom for every two rooms. Since there were two of us in each room, that meant that the restroom was shared by four of us. Each restroom was different but they all (with the exception of Wayne and Lisa's "honeymoon suite") doubled as showers. That's right. There was the sink, toilet, mirror, and the curtain, no shower door. The shower hung on the wall in the tiled bathroom and the bathroom was also the shower stall! Did I mention that all the bathroom doors were textured glass? Needess to say, it was a unanimous decision amongst the four women sharing this particular "shower", to go on a search for garbage bags and duck tape!

It's time to get something to eat so I'm going to call it a night for blogging. Stay tuned for Day 1 in Tirana and more rules on accessing the streets of Albania by vehicle or by foot. Oh, by the way, there are NO CARS in Albania. Car is the equivalent of a very bad American four letter word. They drive vehicles or automobiles. Say the word car to an Albanian and you might find yourself in a bit of trouble! Also, you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle if you ask somebody to let you take their picture. We have been told that picture in Shquip (the language of Albania) is a very derogatory term decribing a man's private parts! So,if you ever visit Albania, take photos, not pictures!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

This Excites Me

I mean this REALLY excites me.
"But in my opinion, the movie will be infinitely better than the book. Essentially we’ve taken the major, real life characters from the book, and gave them a story all their own. The end result is provactive and humorous and in my opinion quite moving. I cant wait for people to see the film." -Donald Miller

Read more about it at the author's blog.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our Marvelous Mission Adventure Part 2 - Welcome to Albania

The flight to Albania was brief yet seemed like a long time due to the baby who screamed the entire two hours. Praise God for my mp3! I failed to mention in my previous post that there was also a screaming baby during the 7 hour flight to London. That baby however, found time to sAlbanian Sunsetleep whereas the baby on the way into Tirana never ceased exercising his lungs to the fullest!

Aside from the screaming baby, I managed to fully take in the georgeous sunset behind a range of mountains as it reflected across the Adriatic! I saw the beautiful coastline of Albania and it all finally became real to me. I was there, in Albania.

For almost a year I doubted. I didn't believe it would happen. But, God knew. He had it planned. I worried and stressed thinking that the funds would never be raised to send my entire family. But, at the last minute the funds came in. I don't know where they came from but they were there.

Albanian MountainsI remember trying to back out so many times. So many things happened to make this seem impossible. However, I have learned that with God nothing is impossible. Our group leader never stopped believing and wouldn't let me give up. He was such an awesome source of encouragement. My family doctor, who is also a member of our church, said that this was something my family needed to do and he never gave up. He said we should not worry and that God would provide and he was right.

With tears streaming down my face, I felt the wheels of the plane touch down on the Tirana runway. We were surrounded by the most beautiful mountains that seemed to give us the warmest welcome. It was almost as if Tirana was giving us all a huge hug.

We had some troubles getting checked in due to some fines that we were unaware of which had been paid but airport security didn't seem to understand. Poor Patrick (the group doctor) really got stuck after we were all already checked in. There we sat, watching as the debate kept going between Rob, Security, and Patrick. There were some questions as to Patrick's name on the list. So, as Rob called our names, one by one we lined up on the wall to prove that the number of people on the list matched the number of names...including our precious doctor (who we would all be VERY thankful for later), Patrick.

Loading BusAfter we all got checked in, we were warmly greeted by the Wright family. Once again I felt overwhelmed by emotion at the disbelief of it all. I could not believe I was there, in Albania on my first mission trip...with my children. There are no words that can express the sheer joy of sharing this experience with my kids as well as the brothers and sisters in Christ who would grow to become a very special part of my life over the next 12 days. As Cindy and I embraced, tears of joy were flowing. I remember sharing with her about the miracle we were experiencing simply by being there.

As we began loading our luggage onto the bus, we had no idea that we were about to get our first cultural lesson. We were told that the most dangerous task we had to overcome in Tirana was crossing the street. I was about to understand why.

So the door opens for Part III. For a little taste of the next blog, refer to the previous post on Driving in Albania = White Knuckles!