Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Let it be done to me..."

"Let it be done to me ..."

Those were Mary's words in that incredible moment when Heaven came down and kissed earth and the Son of God was conceived in her.

"Let it be done to me ..."

It was the ultimate "Yes, Lord" -- a moment of true and total surrender of a human will to the will of the Almighty. Isn't that what we all as believers should be moving towards?

And yet this: "Let it be done to me ..." does not mark an accomplishment or arrival in Mary's life. This "Yes Lord" was just the beginning and it would come with a great price.

But can a young girl possibly understand the price? Can any of us?

Perhaps she had counted some of the cost. A young woman turning up pregnant while only betrothed? We can rest assure there were whispers, askew glances, silent judgements that proved all too articulate in the dark corners where gossip festers like encroaching mold.

Perhaps her visit to her relative Elizabeth came at an opportune moment for many reasons. It's good to get a break from the accusing glares and raised eyebrows. But Mary had said, "Let it be done to me... " And she meant it.

Wasn't that enough?

Then at time when she needed her family most -- a time when a mother, sisters, aunties consult, confide, and comfort. She had to leave them all and go the Bethlehem with Joseph. Here on the cusp of giving birth for the very first time -- the birth that had resulted from her saying, "Yes, Lord" In the place of her greatest weakness and highest need, she had to leave everything she knew and travel into the unknown.

As they approached the city, she must've felt the first contraction. But having never experienced a contraction before, she couldn't have been sure that that's what it was. How she must have longed for her mother, sister or aunt for guidance. Alone with her betrothed as the pain consumed her, together they had to figure this birth process out -- in a stable.

But this was her lot when she said, "Let it be done to me..."

Was not God in control of all things? Couldn't He have orchestrated this a little better? Why did it have to be so hard?

And still it did not end there.

As the blood of massacred children began to flow in the streets, Mary had to wrap up that precious child and run away to save his life. As this promised child's life hung in the balance, the young family had to leave everything, and race away in the middle of the night from their homeland and culture into a foreign land, into Egypt. They were refugees, people without a home. And as refugees, as strangers in a strange land, they had to figure out how to survive.

Why did have to be so hard? She had said "Let it be done to me..." That's not an easy thing to say in all honesty. Wasn't this enough?

But God would make it still harder.

After those harrowing early years, life may have settled into common routine, for awhile. But Mary's greatest hardship was yet to come. The nightmare that haunts every mother's secret place... the terror that reaches deeper than fear to utter loss ... Mary, who said, "Let it be done to me", had to watch her son, her first born child, be tortured. She had to watch as His blood dripped into the dirt of the ancient street and coagulate into a murky grotesque mud to be trampled underfoot.

She could only double over and cringe at the clank of hammer pounding iron as the nails tore into his flesh.

She could only remain at the foot of the cross and cry as he died. For although He was Savior of the world, and she may have had a glimpse that reality, He was still her baby.

The greatest reality in her mother's heart was that the baby miraculously conceived in her, the one she had nursed in difficult times, carried to Egypt, brought back to Israel and raised -- that precious child now hung dead before her.

"Let it be done to me..."

Those words of total surrender did not represent the culmination of her walk of faith. They were but the first step.

"Why does have to be so hard?" We all ask when we experience only small hiccups on the road of faith.

Why? Because sacrifice cannot exist without pain. Surrender cannot occur without loss.

Because, in the end, discipleship was meant to be costly.

May we embrace the costs this Christmas season and faithfully say, "Let it be done to me."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Épít egy jobb egérfogót

Az epikusz egérháborúk folytatódnak.

Ma én eldobtam a Tesco egérfogókot. Nem működik. Legalább nem működik a falusi egéreken. Lehet az Anglia egérfogója tul kifinomultak a magyar falusi egéreknek.

Az magyar falusi eger okosabb, erösebb, gyorsabb, mint az brit egér.

Az Anglia egér kövér, béna, és boldog. Azért az alsóbrendű Tesco csapda működik mert az egérek nem nagyon ügyes.

De a magyar falusi egér nagyon nehéz élet van. Csak a legerősebbek és legokosabbek életben marad. Tudjak hogyan hogy lehet nyalni egy csapdatisztitást. Tudjak hogyan hogy lehet tavol tartani magát ay ragasztótól.

Ők a felsőbrennű egérek!

DE nem eleg ügyes illatos habórúkert!!!!!! Vagy ugyhogy gondaltam. Nem láttam a sértő rágcsáló bizonyitékát hetek allat. Eléggé önelégültnek éreztem magamat győzelmemben.

Tegnap az önelégültsegem osszetölt mikor az irodája hosszában levő Russell tisztitás. A tartalékészlete alatt sportzoknijú, felfedezte ay egérvécét. Kaka mindenhol!

Ami sok, az sok!

Mert egy okossabb egérem van, nekem kell epitni egy jobban egérfogót.

Segitség magyar barátom! Mi az a titok?

Mi az a legjobb magyar falusi egércsapda?

Minden ötlet drágult.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

YIKES... discovering the literal translation

I am taking this opportunity to take a break from the epic thriller known as "The Chungarian Mouse Wars" (brought to you only in some strange version of Hungarian) to reflect on some of my latest strange and mysterious discoveries within the Hungarian language.

(besides the mouse has gone into hiding so there is nothing to write about that.)

I have peacefully lived within the shrunken borders of the lovely and illustrious nation of Hungary now for a total of 7 years. This should render me fluent in the language, but as my blogs all to eloquently demonstrate, I am not.

I have as of late stumbled upon some truly troubling aspects of the language which revolve around how the Hungarian people choose to express themselves. These nuances are often lost in translation as translations are rarely literal transformations from one word in one language to another, but instead are conceptual.

Let me illustrate my point with 3 examples:

1. I have for years known the Hungarian word for "@" used in email addresses to be "kukac". In my American brain, I translated it "at" as we would speak it in English email address. But recently I had the all too rude awakening of discovering what I was actually saying is "maggot".

That's right. All Hungarian email addresses are full of maggots!!!!!!! I am thechunclanMAGGOThotmail.com.

I was horrified.

2. For years I knew that the word for bra in Hungarian was "melltarto." And I did not give much thought to it. "Bra" in English is such a subtle, sensitive, unassuming word. You say it in public with creating unwanted word pictures.

No so in Hungarian. I heard Andi and Niki speaking about their "tolltarto" (pen holder) and then it hit me. When I say "bra" in Hungarian, I am actually saying "BREASTHOLDER". Well, that leaves little to the imagination now, doesn't it? We might as well resort to the Jr. High Boys locker room and resurrect the old phrase: "Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder."

3. Finally and most recently I discovered that the Hungarians have a colorful word for "cohabitation". You would never know it as anyone translating for you would just say "cohabitation," which sounds almost clinical. The Hungarian term "vadhazassag" literally translates: WILD Marriage. That puts an interesting spin on it.

However, I don't know if this is a good word for it as I know a number of legally married folks whose marriage could be classified as WILD!

Who knows how many more of these words exist and I may even use them and never understand what colorful, all-to-descriptive, things I am saying!

Feel free to horrify me and expand my horizens with examples of such ....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Chun-garian Egérháború (Episode 2)

Az icipici egér futott a lépcsők alatt. Ő egy udvarias egér volt, úgyhogy integetett a hölgynek, ahogy futott. A nő annyira kedves volt, hogy ételt adott neki azokon a kicsi fából készült platformokon.

A nő zihált. Dühössé vált. Nem csak egy egér a házában. Most az egér kigúnyolta őt!

És úgyhogy az egérháborúk kezdődtek.

De ez nem volt szokásos egér. Baratsagos volt, de Ő egy természetfölötti értelmek. Ártatlanul ehetné a csalétket egy csapdán és soha nem gáncsolhatná el azt! Benne valami mély, azt mondta neki, hogy tartsa távol magát az egérragasztótól.

Ez nem volt egz tipikus egér. Mint a sárgarépák a kértben ez az évben, a nő biztos volt, hogy ez egy mutans egér volt.

Tegnap, a nő egy nagyon erős tisztitóval mosotta a padlót. Ennek olyan szaga volt, mint a fenyőnek. És egy egér nem szerette azt.

De az egér nem hagyta el a házat. Felment.
Egy kis lany szobaja nagyon kellemes hely! Az egér alapul sok papír fészkelni.
De ma az gonosz nő egz nagyon erős tisztitóval mosotta a padlót fent! Minden erősen szagol fenyő.

"Hehehehehehehe," a nő gonoszul nevetett. Remélte, hogy végül az egérnél okosabbá vált.

Időben tudni fogjuk.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of the Chungarian Mouse Wars!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Chun-garian Egér

Egyszer volt, hol nem volt egy ici-pici egér. És az icipici egér egy nagy házat Mikepércsen felfedezt.

De egy család az házán lakik.

Az icipici egérnek nem volt kifogása azellen, hogy részesedjen. De a család nem akart reszesedni. Volt egy nagy problema.

Először az icipici egér gondolta, hogy a család nagyon vendégszerető volt. Földimogyoro vajkrémet adtak neki. Neki adták az ételt egy furcsa fából készült platformon. Egy kevés ragyogó fémmel és dróttal díszítették a platformot! Nagyon barátsagos család, az egér gondolta.

Az egér kövér evő mogyoróvajkrém a csapdákan lett. Az egér nagyon nemes evő volt. Sikeresen nyalta a mogyoróvaj egészét. soha nem gáncsolta el a csapdát. Ő egy icipici egér volt.

Boldog és kövér, ez icipici egér lakta Mikepércsen.

Egy napon a család az egérnek adott valamit ujat. Adtak a finom etélt egy nagyon szép piros papiron. És az étel körül valami ragyogó és ragadós volt. Az egér gondolta, hogy ez nagyon szép. És ...

Remélhetőleg holnap meg fogjuk tudni, hogy mi történik aztán az "Chun-garian egér" epikus történetében.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Judging Judges 19 -- Part II

See Judging Judges 19 -- Part I (below)

As we push forward with Judges 19, we move into verses 3-5. Four months after she left him, this Levite comes determined to "persuade" his concubine wife to return, or as the Message version puts it: "Then her husband decided to go after her and try to win her back."

Perhaps he was a smooth talker. Perhaps she felt an obligation as his wife, but clearly she is open to prospects of reconciliation. The hows and whys can only be dismissed to speculation. But she brings him into her father's house. The father greets him warmly and an interesting display of hospitality ensues. Consistently, the father urges his son-in-law to stay, day after day. It seems to reach beyond simple hospitality into perhaps a paternal desire for his daughters happiness and perhaps even her protection. But in the end, the girl is this Levite's wife. And when he leaves, she must leave with him. Ironically instead of protecting the girl, the late start proved to be only the first in many events that led to her demise.

So off they go. It's too late to make it all the way home in one day now. The Levite is convinced that they will be safe lodging in a Israelite city and so they push forward to the Gibeah in Benjamanite territory. Inns did not exist in all cities at this time and so travelers had to rely on the hospitality of kinsman or locals for lodging or just camp out.

Things are looking dim as the sun begins to set and no one has offered them a safe place for the night. Perhaps they grew edgy at the thought of sleeping out in the streets unprotected. But what choice did they have?

Finally, a local who was originally from their area of Ephraim stumbled upon them and offered them hospitality at his home. What good fortune! An eleventh hour rescue. Yes, all would be well now.

In the "get to know ya" conversation between the Levite and hospitable local, the Levite explains, "I went to Bethlehem of Judah, but I am [now] going [home] to the house of the Lord [where I serve], and there is no man who receives me into his house."(Amplified)

Where did that come from? This is the first time God has been mentioned in this man's whole story. For some reason he feels the need to put a spiritual spin on his predicament.

Have we ever been guilty of this? We like to pretend that we are "acknowledging the Lord in all of our ways" but in reality, we acknowledge Him only when it serves our purpose, makes us look good. He wants to make sure this guy knows that HE is a LEVITE, a man of the cloth.

The man invites the Levite and his entourage into his home and all is looking good ... until there is a knock at the door. The evil men outside demand the guest. The Levite and his host's response is enough to make us wonder if there were more evil outside that house or inside. The Message records it this way:

A gang of local hell-raisers all, surrounded the house and started pounding on the door. They yelled for the owner of the house, the old man, "Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him."
He went out and told them, "No, brothers! Don't be obscene—this man is my guest. Don't commit this outrage. Look, my virgin daughter and his concubine are here. I'll bring them out for you. Abuse them if you must, but don't do anything so senselessly vile to this man."
But the men wouldn't listen to him. Finally, the Levite pushed his concubine out the door to them. They raped her repeatedly all night long. Just before dawn they let her go. The woman came back and fell at the door of the house where her master was sleeping. When the sun rose, there she was.

The world truly becomes an ugly place when " there was no king ... [and] every man [does] what was right in his own eyes."

Here our religious leader of the day, the one who should be helping to establish and hold up the moral fabric of society physically forces his wife out of the house to be raped to death in order to save his own neck. What's worse, he seems to feel no remorse over the whole affair as he still managed to get a good night's sleep that night.

We want our pastors, lay leaders, even Christians in general to be heroes. But they fail us. We all fail each other. While we are repulsed by this story, the fact remains that we are each capable of all kinds of evil when we depose of the King in our lives and chose to do what is right in our own eyes.

And it is ugly. It leaves me cold. But this story from Judges does not end here.

The Message version describes the next scene of this tragedy this way:

It was morning. Her master got up and opened the door to continue his journey. There she was, his concubine, crumpled in a heap at the door, her hands on the threshold.
"Get up," he said. "Let's get going." There was no answer.
He lifted her onto his donkey and set out for home. When he got home he took a knife and dismembered his concubine—cut her into twelve pieces. He sent her, piece by piece, throughout the country of Israel. And he ordered the men he sent out, "Say to every man in Israel: 'Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!'"

"Get up"? "Let's get going"? Hello! You just allowed your wife to be raped and abused all night long, you find her collapsed on the doorstep and THIS is how you respond?!?!??!?!?

What's with this "man of God"? It truly makes me sick to my stomach. But the fact remains that evil is capable of infecting even the clergy. And when that happens many innocents suffer on many levels.

And that's exactly what happened here. Never having repented for the role he played in the tragedy, the Levite makes a self-serving call for justice. In violation of Torah law where desecration of the body is forbidden, he cuts up his wife's body and sends it to the tribes, a dramatic, if not grotesque, call to vengence. He was angry, not because they had hurt his beloved wife, but because they had broken his stuff. It was the offense against himself that concerned the Levite most.

The result: War, widespread bloodshed, nearly complete genocide of the tribe of Benjamin, and then in a last ditch effort to save the tribe, widespread kidnapping and rape of countless young women from Shiloh.

The tentacles of evil reach far, wide and deep.

By including this story in Holy Scripture, God acknowledges how the evil of this world reaches out and tears into lives and souls of individuals simply trying to survive this journey we call life. The concubine, the girls of Shiloh, the countless lives slaughtered in this altercation in the name of justice, but motivated only by selfishness and evil -- their blood testifies that when we depose the King and do what is right in our own eyes, evil triumphs.

Very often it is the events of evil in the world that drive people to give up on God. How could a sovereign God of all goodness exist when such tragedies like this occur?

But Evil is not proof that there is no God. If anything it is proof that there is one. If there is no God, then there is no real right or wrong. There is no sin and no real evil. There is just what is. And this story is just a story with no lesson, no bad guy.

But this story IS so unmistakably horrid. There is so much undeniable evil seething from all angles of it that we are forced to recognize that evil exists. And many of us can recall events of evil in our own lives that hurt us very personally and very deeply. It was not just some amoral event of our lives, it was sheer Evil. To explain it away any other way would be to denigrate our suffering.

Since that fateful day Adam and Eve ate from the tree, our world has borne the infection of evil. And it ravages mankind with sorrow and suffering. Perhaps, in light of this, the real question is not "If God exists, why is there so much evil in the world?" But instead, "If there really was a "fall," how do we still manage to "see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living"? (Psalm 27:13). How can there be so many glimpses of goodness in such an sin-infected world?

Granted, there are times, when those glimpses all but disappear as they did for that poor concubine on that night in Gibeah as the dark cloud of evil got its chokehold on her through her husband's betrayal and violent men's abuse, dragging her to her own demise.

As Christians we are not immune. We too may face the darkness of tragedy. What then? How shall we respond when God seems so alien and Evil all too intimate?

CS Lewis put it best in Screwtape Letters: "[Satan's] cause is never in more danger than when a human -- no longer desiring but still intending to do [God's] will -- looks round upon the universe from which every trace of [God] seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

That is the moment of truth. For it is at that moment that we are forced to truly exercise the faith we claim.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Judging Judges 19

Have you ever read Judges 19? If not, read through it before going on here.

This is a passage that the bible-bashers love -- just because it is so ugly. Rape, murder, mutilation. "Why would God allow such horrors?" one cannot help but ask as they read it. But such questions are not limited to this obscure, unpleasant fraction of scripture. Many realities of life drive us to the same question.

In this light, the very fact that such a horrible event is recorded in holy scripture suggests that God, Himself, is not some "pie-in-the sky-by-and-by-when-we-die" fairy creature. Quite the contrary. He is a realist. Perhaps He is the ultimate realist as he comprehends all dimensions of reality. He knew and knows that we will all face the ugly realities of this sinful world -- some of us more than others. And those are the times simple pious pat answers just won't cut it for us anymore as we cry out, "Where is God in this utter injustice!?!?!?"

With that said, let's take a little look at this sordid story of scripture. Judges 19.

"In those days Israel had no king." This is shortened form of the theme of Judges, repeated throughout: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."

They may have been God's chosen people, but they failed to make Him King. They failed to allow Him to regulate their lives. Instead, everyone pretty much decided right and wrong for himself.

Hmmm. So this is the opening concept for this story. Where do we fit in? Can we relate? Can we be called "Christian" and yet never give God the throne of our lives? How often do we fail to allow Him to regulate our concepts of right and wrong and simply come up with our own formulas, paying minimal homage to scripture when it conveniently supports our gut instincts.

The male lead in this drama is a Levite, that is, of the tribe of Levi. You remember, the ones "consecrated to the service of the Lord," as Easton's Bible Dictionary puts it. The guy was supposed to be a religious leader of his day.

The female lead is a concubine. Yeah, the whole concubine thing has a lot of baggage. But back then it was culturally common and accepted. A concubine was not a mistress, but an unendowed wife, or secondary wife. Perhaps a wife that came with no dowry. Being a woman living at this time and a concubine to boot, she starts out the story at a disadvantage and it only gets worse for her from there.

Verse 2 tells us she was unfaithful and left her husband, fleeing back to her father's home in Bethlehem. We are only at verse 2 and we'll find respected Bible commentators clashing and raging in abject disagreement over the proper lesson to draw from the story.

John Wesley and Matthew Henry, likely heavily influenced by the culture of their day, see it all quite simply. And with pious pat answers state almost matter-of-factly that the woman was a whore and got what she deserved. As we read through their commentaries we can almost feel the sting of fire and smell the stench of brimstone as they essentially say: So you women better not go awhoring or you too might well end up like the concubine who was raped to death and cut into pieces.

A convenient and zealous, if not completely compassionate or accurate interpretation. Not all Bible scholars buy it. Dr. Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, points out while the Hebrew word "zanah" can infer sexual infidelity it can also mean “to be angry, hateful” or to “feel repugnant against.”

He argues if the woman had committed adultery, she would have been stoned to death. Period. End of story. Her jilted husband certainly would not come, hat-in-hand, determined to woo her back. Jewish historian Josephus concurs with this interpretation, and considering the fact that Josephus would be more culturally in tune with what was really going on here, his views should hold the most weight.

Now, we are only at verse 2 and a little investigation has modified our take on the whole story. We do not have a whoring wife flaunting a sin spree in the face of her devout pastor husband. Instead we have a common Jewish woman who became a second class wife (maybe because her father could not afford a dowry) to a "religious" guy who lives in the middle of nowhere.

By what Josephus records, it would appear that this husband did something to offend this wife. We do not know what. But it was bad enough to drive this woman to flee her husband and somehow travel a significant distance through clearly dangerous lands to seek the protection of her father. I find it interesting that I have yet to find a commentary that speculates on how the wife made this journey or even comments on the difficulty of the undertaking, not to mention the risks involved. Women did not travel alone. She had to be taking her life into her own hands.

How bad was life as this guy's wife? Did she fear for her life? (Not an outlandish question considering what ultimately happens to her). Whatever happened in this Levite's household remains shrouded in mystery -- as is the case ultimately with pretty much all marital discord. The full story will likely never be known. Still, we are left with these characters where they are.

A second-class wife has fled. Four months later, the husband comes to win her back. That brings us only to the first part of verse three. But blogs aren't meant to voluminous. So for today I will stop here.

(Judging Judges 19 Part 2 ... coming soon, comments welcome).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Building a Playhouse in Mikepercs

In June friends gathered at the Chun House for an old fashioned barn raising. I guess it was more like a playhouse raising. Here are some photos from the event.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tapasztalatok: A Feleség Munkaja

Mindenki tud nagyon szeretem magyarországot. És nagyon szeretem a magyar embereket is.
De (sajnalom) mostanában tapasztaltam valamit nem szeretem magyarországon.

Ez egy kicsi dolog, de kifejez egy kulturalis elfogultság hogy szerintem elfogadhatatlan van.

Nő vagyok és szeretem épitni. Nem nagy ügy.

A ferjam szeretem kertezni. Nem nagy ügy.

De szerinti jo magyar barátunk, ez furcsa. Micsoda? Miert?

Nem jo kertez vagyok. Ha én a kertez vagyok, akkor minden noveny és minden virag az orias veszelyben van. Amikor probalok kertezni, minden meghal. Mint egy levéltetű vagyok.

A ferjam nagyon ugyes kertez. De nem puhany. Nem nőis ferfi. A ferjam katonaság volt (24év). Kettő háborún a közelkeleten a ferjam harcolt. Iranyitott raketat lelőt Iraqban. Ferjam legferfiasabb ferfi! De szeret viragok és nőveny. Hawaii-bol.

És a ferjam nem szeretni épitni. Most épitek egy jatszoház a gyerekeknek. Nagyon szép lesz.

Gondoltam ezt elfogultság volt csak a barátunk problemját, nem egz magyar problemát, akkor elmentek a Baumaxxba. Vartam az épites fa mellet, de senki sem jött segitni. Az Baumaxx dolgozók nezetnek rám. De senki sem jött.

Elmentem a vagas pult (amikor a fát a dolgozó vag). Vartam. Vartam. Senki sem jött. Végül egy közeli egy dolgozó jött.

"Jo Napot Kivanok!" ordittam reménytelenül.

A dolgozó nezet rám meglepődve. És az kezdő ijedtség utan, nagyon barátságos és hasznos volt.

És akkor megértem. A baumaxx dolgozó nem probalt lenni fargatlan. Csak furcsa magyarországon ha egy nő akar épites fát.

A világom, nem furcsa. És remelem a zsírkirálysirályságos játszóház épitek utan, mindenki Mikepércsen fog érti-- NEM FURCSA HA EGY NŐ ÉPIT -- csak nagyon kiraly!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Discovering "Falusi" Simplicity


The word has a derogatory connotation.

When something is simple, it is too easy for me -- not up to my intellectual level.

When a person is "simple," as many times people from Hungarian villages are easily labeled, we mean they are backward, unsophisticated, "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" so to speak.

Last week the simplicity of Hungarian village life poured into my home in the form of dirt. I arrived home late after taking our girls to their dance/gymnastics lessons only to find a definite layer of dirt all over the downstairs of our home. Although I was wearing house shoes, I could hear the grit under my feet with each step.

I quickly grabbed a broom and swept up enough dirt to plant a small, yet fertile, garden. "What happened here?" I thought to myself.

When Russ came in, I asked him about the layer of muck. I knew he always brought the boys home for icecream after baseball practice, but everyone takes off their shoes before entering a home in Hungary. It just did not make sense.

When questioned, Russ looked at me sheepishly. "Everyone took off their shoes," he insisted.

I shrugged my shoulders and commented, "I guess you guys played so hard they just got dirt inside their shoes."

Then Russell laughed a little. "Well actually," he stammered. "They took off their shoes and ran the bases in socks today."

My eyebrows raised into a large disbelieving arc. "Why?"

My husband threw his hands in the air. "They are 'falusi' (village kids)," he explained. "They said they run faster without shoes!"

I chuckled a little. "I hope they don't do that at a game in Budapest," I commented, thinking how embarrassing that would be.

Yeah, they are simple. But is that really so bad?

In 2005 17-year-old Steve Terret was found shot to death and shoeless in an alley on the south side of Chicago. Later investigation confirmed that he was killed for his $110 Nike AirJordan shoes.

That which these "simple" village kids so quickly lay aside, some city kids in this world have killed over.

Perhaps the village kids are on to something that could teach us a little about the Christian life. There is a reward in the laying aside of things. Of course, for these kids the reward was running faster. But for all of us so caught up in "acquisition" we often fail to ever understand the benefits of surrender.

"If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means,"
Oswald Chambers noted, "You have become a Christian based on your own terms."

For the simple, surrender somehow comes easier. It is not clogged up with all our intellectual rantings, and analytical questions. Simplicity is able to recognize the point of stumbling AND willing to "cut it off" (Mark 9:43-45).

The Christian life in its fullness is simple surrender of everything we hold dear -- our very lives, that God "will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go." (Jeremiah 45:5 )God cannot give back what has not been fully given to Him.

"Once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth..." Oswald Chambers comments in today's reading of My Utmost for His Highest. "If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough."

Maybe we all could use a touch of "Falusi" simplicity. Let's surrender our soles and run in the dirt for awhile. Maybe we will discover how much faster the surrendered soul can run.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fűszeres Háború

Itt van Tavaszt!

Ez az idő jatszani a kertben.

Ez az idő palántákat átültet a kertben.

És ez az idő gyilkolni a kertben is!

A férijam, Russell, az Amerikai katonasagban volt. Most nyugdíjas. És Russell nagyon szereti kertezni. Russell nagyon komoly kertész van. Minden éven, a szép rozsájat jönn elpusztit a gonosz levéltetű. A zöldellő növényt elfogyaszt a komisz hangya. És a gyümölcs fát lerombol sok bogarok!

A Russellnak, ez jelent háború!

De Russell nem szereti a kemia háborút. Ez a tavaszt, Russell csinal fuszeres háborút!

De nem mindig sikerül. Pedaul, a férjam tanult a interneten amikor a hangya eszik buza darat vagy grizt (cream of wheat), puffaszt a szemcse. Ezt eredményeként, a hangya kirobban! PUUFF! Russell kacag örömmel.

De amikor probalt, nem mükadik. A hangyak egy finom vacsorát élveznek. És a kutya nagyon szereti a fehér port. A kutya a fehér port szipákol mint kokain! Lehet buza darának rabja a kutya! Szegény kutya.

Russell probalt ujra. És egy masik fehér por mükadik! Nem, nem volt kokain! Hintőpor volt. A gyümölcs fa biztonságos.

Ma Törszvezér Russell felfejlődik az új stratégia -- FOKHAGYMA, ERŐS BORS, ÉS SZAPPAN!

Ez magikus főzettel Russell remel a rozsát megváltni és levéltetűi tömegsirt csinálni! (Gonosz kacag, he, he, he)

Vigyazz! A Chun csaladi kert egy nagyon veszelyes hely! (a rossz bogarnak).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spiritual ADD/ADHD

Confession: Last night I lost my temper.

It was ugly, but perhaps necessary. Niki (our eight year old) had homework and chose NOT to bring it home. An ill-conceived plot to avoid work (a skill Niki has perfected into a veritable artform). Luckily, her sister is in the same class, so I photocopied Andi's homework page and forced Niki to sit at the kitchen table and pour over it.

Niki is a classic ADHD. Her brain pilgramages to far off lands when academic exercises lay before her. I think many at school have written her off as not too bright. And granted she loves to play the helpless, the needy, the intellectually challenged in a masterful scheme to manipulate others into doing work for her.

Niki would rather be running outside collecting ladybugs and butterflies, composing her own off-tune ditties and frolicking around as she performs them, or just cutting up to win the affections of the kids sitting near her. To close her mouth and focus on reading or arithmetic: UGH! That's a fate worse than death.

But there she sat as I forced her to read the instructions aloud. She read ... poorly.

If course it was all Hungarian so I could not understand. The problem was she could not understand it either. As she made the sounds of each letter her eyes would drift away from the text, away from the paper, and soon she was making sounds for letters that did not exist.

"FOCUS!" I directed. I read the word aloud and asked her what it meant. She could not tell me. I had to call Andi over to translate and give her the instructions. Still, I kept my cool. I had her repeat the instructions and she said she understood.

"Okay, Niki I am going to read with Andi and when I return you should have the first one done. READ EACH WORD and underline the right ones," I directed.

When I returned, I noticed she had underlined every word and now pretended to toy with question 2. "Niki, did you read each word?" I asked.

Niki looked at me sheepishly. An incontestable wave of guilt rushed over her face. "I read the first one," quietly slipped from her lips.

The mercury of my internal thermometer shot up so quickly it broke the glass. "So you just guessed?" I snapped. "You did not even try?! I have NO patience for this!" I exploded. Niki burst into dramatic tears. You would have thought the world was ending. But I know that "Niki trick" all too well and I wasn't falling for it. I showed not even an ounce of sympathy for her life-shattering plight.

After sufficient verbal reprimand, I sat down beside her with fire still in my eyes and what do you think happened? With the exception of some struggles in reading the instructions, she whipped through the rest of the homework almost effortlessly.

I truly wanted to pull out my hair. She CAN do the work. Why must we reach such an ugly crisis point before she will chose to move forward in her academic duties and development?

Everytime I reach that point where I teeter on the brink of losing either my temper or my mind with one of my kids, it as if God taps me on my shoulder and whispers, "That's how you are with Me." And I can almost hear the gentle chuckle in His voice.

ADD/ADHD -- Attention Deficient Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a common struggle of adopted kids. Is it any wonder that we, who have been adopted into God's family, face a spiritual form of it?

So easily our hearts drift from the duties and development our God has placed before us as we would rather chase the brightly colored, twittering things of this world, focusing on our own self satisfaction rather than our sanctification. We would prefer the admiration of our social circles to the inspiration of the Spirit. How easily we drift away.

And for those who are big "do-ers", you can throw the "H" (hyperactivity) into the equation. Always busy. Very often busily doing good things, but wrapped up so tightly in insatiable activity, we find ourselves doing everything EXCEPT that homework that sits before us on the kitchen table. We may have even purposely stuffed it away and left it in our desk at school hoping to avoid having to deal with it at all.

Still, God, our Heavenly Father, stands over us and places the homework before us. But even in this close enviroment our eyes dart about the room. We may work through the first question, but we are sloppy and just guess rather than taking the time to properly work through what has been laid before us.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father does not lose His temper. But He is sometimes willing to bring us each to a crisis point and it may be an ugly one. Out of His great love for us, He brings us to that place of breaking and draws us through our own salty tears to move us ahead in our spiritual development.

I hate the ugly crisis. I hate the raised voices, the tensed muscles, and the desperate sobs. Ahh, but what joy comes when Niki completes her work and does it well. She looks up at me as sheer delight twinkles in her big blue eyes and all that is left of the tears is salt-stained cheeks. She throws her skinny little arms around me and hugs me tightly. And I am truly proud of her.

Let's take some time to FOCUS and overcome our own spiritual ADD/ADHD.

Let's push through the exercise the Heavenly Father has placed before us this day for our own spiritual development and when it is complete and we have come through the crises, He will wrap his strong carpenter's arms around us frail beings and say, "Well done, my child. Well done."

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Szemüveg Epikus Kaland

Andi a szemüveget szükség. Ezt nem egy tragedia. Sok gyerekek a szemüveget szükség.
És nem lepetés meg nekunk volt. Én szemem nem működik jol, és Russell gyakorlatilag vak! Azért, Andi genetikain kudarcra ítél volt.

De nem tudtam hogy megszerezni a szemüveg Andi-nak, kell beszállni egy epikus kaland. A kaland tartalmaz sok, sok időpontok.

Első lépés: A védőnö az osztaly egy szem vizsga ad.

Masodik lépés: Andi nem sikerült. Kell menni az falusi orvoshoz. Az orvos az ugyanaz szem vizsgat csinal. Az orvos mond, hogy kell menni az szemorvos. Csinal a papir.

Harmodik lépés: Varunk, varunk, és varunk -- harom vagy négy hét-ig, akkor a szemorvos időpont jön.

Negyedik lépés: A szemorvos időpontal, MEGINT Andi csinal az ugyanaz szem vizsgat. (Harmodik szor). Mindenki egyezik, van egy problem Andi szemevel. Az orvos nem ott. De az alkalmazottak mond, hogy nekunk kell visszajönni. Andi szemcseppet 3x minden nap 4napnak szükség a következő időpontja előtt.

Ötödik lépés: Visszajövunk a szemorvoshoz. A szemorvos nagyon kellemes ember mond, hogy "Igen Andi szemüveget szükség." Nekunk kell visszajönni MEGINT a recept kapni. MICSODA!?!?!

Hatodik lépés: A szemüveg receptot elsajátítunk a szemorvosbol.

Hetedik lépés: Megyunk a szemüveg boltba és a szemüveget rendelunk.

Nyolcodik lépés: Visszajövunk a szemüveg boltba és a szemüveget kapni.

Ez a héten, Andi és én hatodik lépés befejezni fogunk. Sok, sok hét előtt, az epikus kaland kezdődtunk. Nem elkészült megnem. Nem tudom ha ez kaland sikerült leszunk vagy nem.

De biztos, ez egy epikus kaland van!

Kiraly-Siraly ez a magyar élet! Szeretem!

Monday, March 2, 2009

For the Non-Hungarian Speakers: The Hospital Adventure

Recently, I had to brave the perils of the Hungarian medical bureaucracy. Let me preface this blog entry by stating that I have come across many fine doctors in the Hungarian system whom I would trust implicitly with my health and the health of my family. However, getting to these accomplished professionals requires something akin to a Safari deep into the jungles of Hungarian medical bureaucracy, a treacherous journey with no guarantees of safe arrival at your desination.

My daughter Niki, a drama queen in her own right (with hypocondriac tendencies) announced to her teacher one day that her heart hurt. Of course, the teacher, being a responsible adult quickly called me deeply concerned about Niki's well being. I knew immediately it was simply heartburn, but proceeded to have her checked out as she has a history of gastrointestinal issues. After an initial visit to the village doc, whom we all love, we were sent into darkest jungles of Hungarian medical bureaucracy known to Hajdu Bihar county: Kenezy hospital, pictured below in the previous blog.

It is a sprawling campus of nondescript concrete building all sporting various shades of communist-era gray. A few maps exist, but they are far too confounding to provide legitimate assistance to the layperson. Niki and put on our brave faces, bundled with hats and coats and set out on our expedition to find pediatric gastroenterology. The wind stung our faces with its icy chill as we left the main building and began to wander.

I felt very much like a rat trapped in the maze of some sick psychological experiment. Along the way, I asked for directions several times and pleasant faced doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers happily directed me to precisely the wrong building everytime. It was as if there were some grave conspiracy afoot and I can't help but wonder if the "helpful strangers" plotted data as they watched with grim grins as the foreigner (rat) struggled through the impassable maze in a desperate search for health care for her child.

Finally, at the furtherest end, we found the tiny building. I put a pathetic look on my face (which wasn't hard at this point) and used my canned Hungarian phrase, "Excuse me, I only speak a little Hungarian and I do not know what to do here."And I handed the hospital worker Niki's paper.

Once we finally reached the gastroenterologist, she proved to be a kind and professional doctor, reading through Niki's volumous medical records with interest and sympathy. And as we proceeded to the blood test, Niki charmed them all with her announcement that she was brave and would not cry when stuck with a needle. And she proudly kept that promise.

But the best was yet to come. We were sent back across the vast campus in sub zero weather to get a sonogram of her digestive tract. After much trifling with that "rat in a maze" scenario again, I found the window where I must put in my paperwork. I stood in line dutiful, as any civilized human being would, but when the window opened, the little old lady behind me pushed ahead and shoved her paperwork in front of mine.

These little old ladies are tough. They think they have a right to push to the head of the line. And to a great extent, they get away with such behavior. But on this day, after being played like a rat in a maze, I was not putting up with it. I may not be an old timer, but I am no pushover either! Enough already.

She might have age on her side, but I was not unarmed. I had a cute eight year old girl and I wasn't afraid to use her. I placed the paperwork in Niki's hands and pushed her in front of the old lady. We all watched with anticipation to see who would get their paperwork in first.

And then it happened. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles. The lady in the window took our paperwork first. Ha! That will teach that little old lady!

It was a day of great victory, not only for Niki and myself, but for peace-loving people everywhere who have been pushed out of line by little old ladies, trained to become masters in this art during the communist era. Who can compete with that? I will tell you who! I can. I did! I reveled in my victory.

But then the woman at the window proceeded to give me instructions. "What?" I said. " I am sorry, but I do not understand. Can you say that again? ground floor? What about the ground floor?" I melted into helplessness and that little old lady whom I had so artfully subverted turned to me in her kindest Hungarian and said, "It's alright, darling. You just come with me I will show you..."

Alas! How short lived a victory! Now again I find myself at the mercy of Hungarian little old ladies.

Perhaps it is my destiny. Little old ladies rule the world and I should accept this. But bear in mind, I am watching their technique closely and learning from the best.

And so this is my consolation: I may have to squirm at their mercy now, but one day I too will be a little old lady. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Korhazi Kaland/öreg néninek hatalmában

Ma Niki és én a Kenézy Korházba elment. Niki egy időpont van gasztroenterologia tanszekban. 

Én nem szeretem jonni a Kenézy Korázba. Ez a lehetetlen hely. Kenézy mint egy labirintus. És amikor ott vagyok, Úgy érzem magam, mintha kísérleti patkány lennék egy őrült tudományos kísérletben.

Fél ora kerestunk a gasztroenterologia epulet. Kérdeztuk öt emberek, de senki tud ahol a épület van.  Ketto ember szinlelt tudni.  Iranyitnak a rossz épület!

Nagyon hideg volt. De jo testmozgas! Kenézy nagyon nagy kampusz.

Az orvosi vizsgalat utan, nekunk kell menni a ultrahang tanszek.  Az ellenérdekű fél Kenézy kampusz, PERSZE!

Niki es én nagyon szépes sorban all az ablak elott.  De mindenki nem mint a szép! Egy örég néni benyom  engem előtt lenni.  "Micsoda! Mit Csinálsz?" gondoltam.  "Nem rajtad a sor!"  De a néni fütyül rá.  Eltökélt engem előtt lenni!  

Elég! Lehet nem öreg motoros vagyok, de nem gyümölcskrém vagyok akármelyik!

"Oreg néni vagy, de fegyvertelen vagyok.  Arányos kis lányam van!" gondoltam.  Adtam Nikinak a fontos orvosi papirt es kuldtem Nikit az ablakra.  A néni ha'tte'rbe sorul!

óriási győzelem volt! Sok eves a neni zsarnokok elnyomtak bekes embereket. Ma a békes emberek visszaütés. Ma a győzelem nap!

De akkor a ablak hölgy magyaraz valamit es en nem ertem! Hova megyunk? Nem értem? Foldszint? Micsoda? Megzavarodott voltam! Segiseg valakit!

Az öreg néni jött es mondj hogy, "En segits. Gyere, drágam."

Nagyon gáz. A diadalam nem édes most. Megint, az öreg néninek hatalmában vagyok.

Lehet végzetem; öreg nénik a világ uralkodnak. Csak vigasz, egy napon én is egy öreg nénit leszem!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tapasztalatok: Első osztály, felfedezés, és műszélszorulás

Két lanyam van. Mindaketten első osztályban most.

Első osztály nagyon érdekes idő. Ez tanulni idő, felfedezni idő.

Andi és Niki tanultak hogy a betűk tudnak csinalni szavak. Csodalatos!

A lanyok matematikat felfedeztek. Megragadó!

De ez a hét, Andi és Niki valamit nagyon érdekes tanultak. Egy fiu iskolában, Aron, tanult nekik hogy csinalni faragatlanas hangok a hónaljjal! A csunya zaj a hazban visszahang folyamatosan. Most a hazam egy bástyat műszélszorulásnak. Persze sok kuncogás is. Köszönöm szépen, Aron!

Szerintem nem csak én hazam szenved ezt a végzettől. Minden elsős haza is! Én biztos minden anya Mikepércsen mond hogy "Bakker! Ez GAZ! Nem a szép dolog iskolaban tanulni!"

De minden elsős kell tanulni a fontos dologok. Amerikaban vagy Magyaroszagon -- a fontos dologok marad ugyanúgy. És mi az több fontos egy elsősnak mint tanulnak csinalni műszélszorulás?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today, I am a Grouch!

I don't need anyone to tell me. I know that's what I am today. I have no patience for anyone. No one can live up to my expectations. I am simply a grouch.

Oh, yes, I could blame it on being female. You know, hormonal moodswings and the like. But at the end of the day all the excuses in the world don't change the fact that I'm just a big fat grouch!

It's cloudy and cold -- but not cold enough to snow. It's just that damp, miserable cold that can only be redeemed by a hot cup of tea and a good book. But today, even tea, with all its mystical powers, cannot cheer me up. I'm grouchy. And I'm tired and can't seem to get anything worthwhile accomplished.

I am annoyed with the IRS who cannot seem to spare a single human being in the vastness of it's nearly 90,000 strong bureaucracy to answer my letters and deal with our 2007 return.

I am offended by those who have lied regarding their wellbeing in order to exploit the local church and ministry to their own ends, and seem to show no remorse.

I feel trapped inside some ministries where I have not been equipped with the necessary God-given gifts, and trapped outside the ministries where the gifts I have are more of a fit.

In a nutshell, I am just one big grouch today. I likely am not seeing things as they really are -- as grouchiness is one big black ugly cloud, which only skews vision further. And I know that in my brain, but in my emotions, I want to be mean and out-right audacious. I want to say something shocking, full of audacity, to the liars and to the IRS. GRRRrrrrr. I'd like to be so, so ... UNchristlike and revel in it! But that would be a bad choice.
So, instead, I will keep my mouth shut, and simply confess by way of blog that I am a grouch.

Thursday, January 29, 2009



We hear this cry a lot on the mission field. Sometimes it’s because someone has recognized their spiritual state and they cry out to the only God who can do something about it. But more often, and especially in the face of the recent economic crisis, it comes from people who are looking for people “help” them out of their own financial straits.

Of late, we’ve heard a great many cries for help. Desperate people in desperate situations. And since much of our work is with orphans – some now grown and on the own – they do not have the safety net of family to fall back on.

They have all made choices that have brought them to this point; many of those choices terribly unwise – not unexpected of a youth with no parents who was raised by the state. But as a result, a girl in her twenties wonders how she will feed her two year old in the months ahead. A boy, not yet 20, huddles for warmth in the local homeless shelter. And even in our village a poor family tries to figure out how to pay for their son’s chemotherapy. He has stomach cancer.

“Help!” they cry, wanting the cash they need to meet their basic needs. And those needs are all too real.

But cash is the easy way out.

How do we truly help them? For the orphan kids who are now grown, cash handouts only perpetuate the problem. They have always lived off the social welfare system. No one has ever been there to teach them how to rely on God and take responsibility for themselves. And yet we cannot sit back and allow them to starve.

Right now we are working through a process. Understanding that God has always, since the very beginning, been all about relationship, we realize that we are called to be in relationship with these. We must walk beside them, listen to them in their suffering, and hold them accountable.

For the young mother, we are striving to teach her how to be on her own and think through the things she must think through (childcare, budgets, etc) to be a responsible adult, helping her with the basics (food, firewood) along the way. But that alone is not enough. We must also teach her how to rely on God to meet her needs – which is a tall order for those of us who aren’t so good at it ourselves.

Perhaps here the teacher becomes the student.

Do we really believe God can supply all our needs? Even the needs of a poverty-stricken young mother, a homeless grown orphan, and poor village family with a son suffering from cancer? Can God truly supply even their needs?

If we truly believed it, perhaps we would spend more time in prayer about it and less time throwing cash at the problem.

Cash giving in some cases has its role – but perhaps more significant is the giving of time on our knees, time in fellowship with the suffering and time teaching those who have never had a chance to learn the basics of life – in the physical world as well as the spiritual. Perhaps more important than cash is what we give of ourselves.

And so in this spirit, I wish to ask all who read this blog to give a bit of themselves by praying for Reni the young mother who needs both childcare and a job. Pray for Arpi who needs a home and work, and the Olah family whose son Norbi suffers from stomach cancer. Pray that God would show each of them that He, himself, – not some ministry nor some person – is the one who supplies their needs, according to His riches in glory. And may this lesson be a testimony to all of us. Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To Touch a Broken Girl's Heart

They all looked up at me, some in expectation, many in skepticism, perhaps all secretly hoping that this weekend would bring some peace to their wounded worlds. This past weekend was our conference for the girls of the Miskolc Children's Home. We brought them to our village -- a good two hour trip from their institutionalized home.

The walls were raised high and perhaps re-inforced when they arrived of Friday night. Many were determined not to let anyone in. And it would be naive of any of us involved in the planning or ministry to expect that a 36 hour getaway to break through walls erected by more than a decade of hurt and pain. Our ministry is not a weekend, a series of sessions, or even the bible study Russ leads every week. It has to be long-term, consistent and loving, or it is worth little. These girls have experienced affection for a moment, but have not known a love that truly endures.

And so we talked a lot about love last weekend. Yeah, we talked about boys, and what they want. We talked about ourselves and what we seek in a relationship. And the difference between the two. But if there was any message that I pray the girls took home with them, it was the message of the last session -- the message of God's love for them.

We looked at several true stories from scripture -- Leah, the ugly one who was unloved all her days; Hagar, the used; and David's daughter Tamar, raped by her own half-brother. They are harsh stories, dysfunctional families that remind us all too poigniantly of how imperfect our world is. They are stories to which these girls could relate.

We looked at Mary and Martha and wondered together why Jesus arrived too late. And we discovered what Jesus does when he sees us in our pain. Just like with Mary and Martha, he weeps for us. The God who created heaven and earth sees us in our pain and his heart breaks. And he weeps.

But he does not stop there. He also longs to bring us restoration, but he will not force it upon us. We must be willing to take him to that ugly place where we have buried all our pain. We must be willing to roll back the stone so that he can bring resurrection to the ugly rotting dead things of our lives.

I left the conference wondering if it was even worthwhile -- if any message broke through. I watched as many of the girls left with those walls still strongly barricaded. But as I look at them, perhaps I am looking at the wrong place.

Isaiah 45:22 challenges us to: "Look to Me, and be saved". Through this conference we continually directed the girls to look to Him. We strove to show them they are now alone in their suffering, and more than that, there is a God who truly finds them precious -- like treasure. And his love does not fade. It is truly Agape.

Maybe I need to stop looking for instant gratification in spiritual ministry. Instead, I need to simply look to Him. "Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God," Oswald Chambers wrote in his devotional slated for this date. But other things vanish too: our arrogance, our insecurity, our need to be a "success", our need for instant gratification in our spiritual walk.

The Lord cries out, "Look to Me." Why do I look everywhere else except at Him?

I only need to lift my eyes and I am made complete in the spectacular view.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Do You Know What You are Asking?

"You don’t know what you are asking!" -- Mark 10:38 (NLT)

In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus healed a blind guy named Bartimaeus. It is a story most of us have heard from childhood. You know the story:

Jesus sees him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“My rabbi,” the blind man answers with the obvious, “I want to see!"

On Sunday, our pastor, Bodi, who is also a medical doctor, explained exactly what would have to happen in the intricate complexities of the eye for a blind man to completely receive sight instantaneously.

First, consider how complex the eye truly is:

"The human eye is enormously complicated - a perfect and interrelated system of about 40 individual subsystems, including the retina, pupil, iris, cornea, lens and optic nerve. For instance, the retina has approximately 137 million special cells that respond to light and send messages to the brain. About 130 million of these cells look like rods and handle the black and white vision. The other seven million are cone shaped and allow us to see in color. The retina cells receive light impressions, which are translated to electric pulses and sent to the brain via the optic nerve. A special section of the brain called the visual cortex interprets the pulses to color, contrast, depth, etc., which allows us to see "pictures" of our world. Incredibly, the eye, optic nerve and visual cortex are totally separate and distinct subsystems. Yet, together, they capture, deliver and interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages a milli-second! It would take dozens of Cray supercomputers programmed perfectly and operating together flawlessly to even get close to performing this task." (Lawrence O. Richards, It Couldn't Just Happen, Thomas Nelson 1989)

So Jesus would have to heal the man in a way that brought all these complex systems into proper order, restoring all damage. But that alone would not be enough to restore his sight. Even if the eyes were instantly healed and placed in proper working order, he would not be able to see until the brain re-learned how to interpret all those impulses, like an infant learns to see in its first few months outside the womb.

So the healing had to reach far beyond his eyes and into his brain. And it did. Instantly, everything fell into perfect working order, all damage restored AND the brain supernaturally knew how to interpret all these new signals.

When Bartimaeus cried out, "I want to see!" He did not know all that he was asking of Christ. He wasn't thinking, "Hey Jesus, could you get all those millions of cones and rods in my eyes to start working properly along with fixing the problems with the retina and optic nerve and then make sure the brain can interpret the signals so I can see." He simply wanted to see. Jesus understood the complexities of what he was asking but He did not bat an eyelash. He just did it. And Bartimeus eye's instantly beheld a world that he had previously known only by sound and touch.

However, in the scene before this (Mark10:35-40), two of Christ's disciples made a spiritual request. They wanted to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. It is not necessarily a bad aspiration. Aspiring toward spiritual greatest on some level is a good thing, right? And Christ does not chastise them for the desire, but instead He responds with chilling sobriety, "You do not what you are asking."

Indeed there is a price to be paid for spiritual greatness, for it is not like the greatness of this world, regardless of culture. It requires humility, sacrifice, and pain. A tough journey. It was a request that involved what Christ would have to bring them through. And Christ appropriately responds, "You do not know what you are asking..."

But as I reflect on these two requests, I begin to realize that in all those requests that we so readily throw up to heaven, we rarely truly know what we are asking. Even the little things that do not seem so remarkable or miraculous, those things our Lord does not hesitate to answer, often require his workings in things far beyond what we think we are asking.

And all the more in our spiritual requests. We see only the glory and not misery and wilderness we will have to pass through to reach it. We do not know what we are asking.

Perhaps we would do well to reflect a little more on the magnitude of God's workings and what He has called us to in this life.

May we begin to grasp with sobriety what we are asking as we utter supplications to our Lord. For when we begin to understand what we are asking, we will begin to understand more of who He is.