Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bedford Tournament

The Bedford Speech and Debate Tournament, February 22-24, was amazing...

There are no pictures from the first day and a half due to someone (ok, it was me :-) misplacing the camera, but here is what I do have.

Paul cross-examining Joel in Lincoln-Douglas debate. They happened to discover before this round that they were born on the exact same day in the same county (different hospitals, though).

They're still smiling later =D!

Alex and Lauren--two cheerful girls who I am honored to know.

Daniel and Paul. Daniel was in speech and debate until he graduated two years ago. Now, he's back on the other side of the table judging.

Austin Rhetoric Club (ARC). I love 'em all!

Chit-chatting with Jessie. You do enough talking when you're competing, but you do at least 50 times more talking when you're not competing. Jokes, theological discussions, small talk (why do they call it "small" when that amounts to the largest chunk of talking a person does?), getting-to-know-you talk, tons of "Hello's", and, of course, bushels of laughter.

Conversing with the world's greatest speech club coach (in my highly unbiased opinion:-)

Defending the faith through Apologetics.

Paul S. and Paul H.

Anxiously listening to the tournament director annouce "breaks" to find out who will advance to the next level.

Paul and Nick Elledge. I couldn't begin to name all of the awards he's received, but awards don't really matter anyway. What counts is what you've learned through earning those awards, and how you apply that in the world to make a difference.

Adam, Sarah, Christina, and Rachel. Adam, Sarah, and Rachel have all gone to the final round at the National tournament in various speech events. They are super talented, super humble, and super on fire for God. I've never heard any of them bragging on themselves, yet I've heard all of them talking about how good God is. And boy, is He ever!

My mom and Mrs. Hardy. The guy in the picture above (Adam) is Mrs. Hardy's son.

On Sunday, we visited our sister church in Dallas so my mom and I decided to kidnap this cute baby girl named Sophia. I've always wanted to have a sister! Don't you think she'd make a lovely addition to our family?

In a MacDonald's playscape. I haven't been in a fast food playground in ages. It brought back so many memories...


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Valentine's Day--what a perfect day to talk about love. When you hear the word "love", what comes to mind? Is it some picture of fuzzy romance? Yet the truest love isn't a fuzzy romantic kind.

1 Corinthians 13 is often thought of as the love chapter, and it is a really amazing picture of love, but my favorite passage about love in the Bible would probably be 1 John 4:7-21. In both verses 8 and 16 it says, "God is love". It doesn't state, "God loves" or "God is loving" but that God is love. When you think about that it can really blow one's mind away. It is impossible for God to go against what He is and so it is impossible for God to stop loving me... the wretched sinner that I am. "For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."~Romans 5:8 (my favorite Bible verse).

I could talk on and on about God's wonderful love, but I now want to look at how that affects our own love. In verse 19, John says, "We love because He first loved us." Our first love is to God which we give with our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love to God is one that calls for surrendering everything to Him. Even our own life. Whenever I hear a martyr story I'm always astounded by the commitment that person showed to God. Then the question usually passes through my head, "Do I have that much love for God? What would I do if I were in their shoes?"

From a love for God flows a love for others. Verses 20 and 21 state, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." That may seem harsh to some, but those words ring as true as the fact that I'm breathing. The longest lasting love for others is a love that comes from the outpouring of a heart filled to the brim with a love for God. That's the only kind of love that comes close to the 1 Corinthians 13 ideal.

No, I'm not anywhere near that point and I won't be for a long time yet, but I've seen it in other people's lives. Sometimes when I'm at the top of a spiritual mountain I feel like I've reached it, but then I go downhill again. It's as if my love is like a flower in the winter... sometimes blooming strong and sometimes closed up for long periods of time.

1 Cor. 13 says, "Love never fails." The only way to find out if something will fail or not is to test it. I guess that's where trials come into the picture. This past summer my family experienced trials that tested love and trust unlike any I have ever experienced before. Paul called it "The Summer of Betrayal". Four different instances that shook our lives and I doubt the way we look at others will ever be the same. Two of them were at the expense of someone's life. Could we still love those who had betrayed everything we had believed about them? Could we still trust that God had everything under control and that He knew what He was doing?

I believe that through every instance God brought everyone in my family closer to Him and to each other. We had to trust that "All things work together to them that love God and who are called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28. We were (and are) still working on the loving Him part, but we know that we must rely on Him as our refuge and strength, and we can believe His promises that He would encircle those affected with His all sufficient love.

Love. So are you still thinking about the fuzzy romance? Love is a picture of a Father turning His back on His only Son. Love is a picture of a Man hanging from a cross between two murderers. Love is what God the Father sent His Son to do for us. That is real love...