10 Mar 2009

Just Married: Honeymoon Pt. 1

Submitted by Paul Brown

To record some of our memories from our honeymoon last week and to let some of our friends and family share in the experience, Holly and I wrote up some of what we did and saw. Here is Part 1. I am also working on uploading photos.


Paul: After leaving the reception and stopping by our condo (yes, now it is ours since we can live together now!) to get changed and pick up our suitcase, we drove over to our hotel near the airport. I had reserved a studio suite at the Residence Inn, and it was great! The room was very comfortable and had plenty of space to unwind. We were close enough to walk to a restaurant for dinner, where the manager decided to give us free dessert for our honeymoon.

Holly: Mmmm... that's making me hungry.

Paul: After that we went back to the hotel and pretty much went right to bed. For some reason it wasn't the most restful sleep I've ever had.

Holly: I think the pillows were too soft. *wink*

Paul: Right. After a good breakfast and coffee barely stronger than discolored water (even I could see that), we headed to the airport.

Holly: It was downright crappy coffee.

Paul: Our flight to Vancouver was the first time both Holly and I had traveled in first class. It was nice but not as great as I might have expected. I guess I'm not sure what I expected, but the main perks were more leg room and a tasty complimentary lunch. But the armrest between Holly and I didn't go up, which was kind of a bummer.

Holly: The sound didn't work for the movie, so we had to make up our own dialogue.

Paul: That was probably better than the actual dialogue for that movie. I would have taken a nap for sure. What was that movie, honey?

Holly: The Secret Life of Bees

Paul: Right, a total chick drama. When we got to the Vancouver airport, I had a pressing need to find a little boys' room, but you would not believe how far it was until the first one. Seriously, I'll bet we had to walk a mile over these walkways directing us to the customs checkpoint. Naturally, Vancouver is proud of their Pacific coast rainforests and Native Pacific coast heritage, so they had several displays with flowing water, the sound of rain, fountains, and so forth. Very helpful.

We finally got through the line at customs and retrieved our bag (Holly: they pronounced it "bayg"; Shannon would fit right in here!) and went through a labyrinth of construction zones and parking garages to arrive at the public transportation terminal at the airport. We fought our way through three different bus lines to arrive downtown at our hotel.

Holly: That makes me miss Shannon. You forgot to mention that we got to go by a lot of rainbow signs on Davies Street. The condom emporium (see photo) made me laugh.

Paul: Our hotel in Vancouver was not quite as nice as their marketing materials make it look. Although it has been updated well, it still feels like it was probably built sometime in the 1970's.

Holly: I like the bed. And I like you in the bed. Oh, wait, erase that.

Paul: The pillows are nice and firm. Good for side-sleepers.

Holly: heheheheheeee. We had the best pizza for dinner. That guy should start a pizzaria in Denver. I'm really hungry....

Paul: My first impression from walking around the West End of Vancouver was just how many ethnic restaurants there are. I don't think I have ever seen so many diverse eateries anywhere else that I have ever been. Greek, African, Korean, Ukrainian, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, German, Middle-Eastern, Brazilian—all side-by-side up and down the street.

From the time we arrived, I tried to figure out what the "Vancouver accent" was, but I'm not sure there is one. It seemed that almost everyone in Vancouver was from somewhere else. We had pizza served by a guy who looked and sounded like he was from Greece, and a team of Asians served us a traditional American breakfast at a small diner called Teresa's.

Holly: The coffee in the hotel in Vancouver was exquisite.


To be continued....
Part 2
Part 3

26 Feb 2009

This week at youth, Bob talked about how important it is to have a vision for relationships. In order to navigate those turbulent emotional waters, a young person needs to have his or her compass clearly set on the direction that he or she wants to go. That means, according to Bob, knowing the purpose of dating as well as knowing oneself. One of the ways that I tried to guard my heart from being interested in the wrong sorts of young ladies was in setting in my mind a clear picture of the kind of godly young woman that I hoped to marry someday. I found this entry in one of my old journals:

10 August 2004

One thing I was thinking about tonight was what sort of person I would need to meet to be able to marry her given my current life trajectory. Here's what I think (not serious, just off the top of my head):

  • Christian, sold out for God, conservative Baptist
  • lover of people (even if introverted like me)
  • of a positive attitude, one that assumes the best
  • motivated for evangelism and missions
  • willing to travel, not bound to people, places, or things
  • flexible, able to take things as they come
  • not needy for personal comfort, happy poor
  • able and accustomed to taking pleasure in work
  • quick with a smile and a kind word
  • sympathetic and understanding when bad things happen
  • realistic about limited resources
  • humble and forgiving
  • growing in her awareness of God's holiness, her own sinfulness, and her need for Christ

Bonus:

  • loves music, listening to it and making it
  • good conversationalist, articulate
  • beautiful and intelligent
  • good with kids
  • enjoys walking and being outside, in parks, in creation

Of course, this is a rough sketch of perfection, no one will ever fully meet all these.... ?

Holly scores off the charts in every one of those areas and is an immense blessing to me. However, I know that making a list doesn't magically make a person matching those characteristics waltz into one's life. In fact, it seems to me that it is wholly by the grace of God that I'm marrying Holly this weekend; God condescended to answer my prayers and desires not because I in any way deserved it, but because he is a good and gracious Father to those who trust him. I am honored that the Lord has entrusted Holly to me and that Holly herself has chosen to trust herself to me. Still, I think that some credit for finding a good wife must be given to the clear vision that I had of who I was waiting for and what dating was for.

I hope that the students in the youth group will take Bob's message to heart. I pray that they will get a clear enough vision of what can be and what ought to be in the area of relationships that they will have the discernment to say "no" to the wrong things and "yes" to the things that will please and honor the Lord—and be good for them.

18 Feb 2009

Can I light a fire?

Submitted by Paul Brown

February has been a slow month for posting here at the blog. I think that with my getting married at the end of the month, I have had such a mish-mash of thoughts and emotions in my head that it has been difficult for me to articulate any thoughts other than simple facts and to-do lists. I have noticed this especially in my teaching responsibilities with the youth and at Regen over the last month. It seems like I can put together a reasonable outline in my mind, but when it comes to delivery, everything seems to come out all jumbled up. This last week has gone better in that regard, I think mostly because I have become aware of the difficulty and gave extra prayer and effort to overcoming it.

And now for something completely different!

A warm fire on a cold day

Here is some simple information that may be helpful to those of you who live in the Denver metro area: How to know if air quality conditions allow you to have a fire in your fireplace or not.

First, the regulation: If you live in the seven-county Denver metropolitan area (including Denver, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson, and areas west of Kiowa Creek in Adams and Arapahoe counties), you are subject to mandatory residential burn restrictions during "red advisories". Unfortunately for us, the same cold weather that often makes us want to light up a nice, warm fire also brings with it the atmospheric conditions that tend to make our smog worse and thus bring on a red advisory.

To know if a mandatory residential burn restriction is in place, you can check the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advisory page or call the Air Quality Advisory hotline at 303-758-4848. What I did, to make it even easier, is I created a Denver Air Quality widget (click to add) that I added to my Google home page. Now all I have to do to see if Holly and I can light a fire is pull up Google in Firefox. Could it be any easier?!

28 Jan 2009

A Prayer

Submitted by Paul Brown

This past week and the next few weeks have me preaching twice at Regeneration and once for the Sunday morning youth service, all of which is much more frequent teaching than I have done in the past. It also comes at a time that the anticipation and emotion of getting married soon is increasing day by day. Last week as I felt weak to go before Regeneration and teach on the incarnation, I lifted up this helpful prayer from The Valley of Vision, entitled "A Minister's Bible":

O God of truth,
I thank thee for the holy Scriptures,
     their precepts, promises, directions, light.
In them may I learn more of Christ,
     be enabled to retain his truth
     and have grace to follow it.
Help me to lift up the gates of my soul that he may come in
     and show me himself when I search the Scriptures,
     for I have no lines to fathom its depths,
     no wings to soar to its heights.
By his aid may I be enabled to explore all its truths,
     love them with all my heart,
     embrace them with all my power,
     engraft them into my life.
Bless to my soul all grains of truth garnered from thy Word;
     may they take deep root,
     be refreshed by heavenly dew,
     be ripened by heavenly rays,
     be harvested to my joy and thy praise.
Help me to gain profit by what I read,
     as treasure beyond all treasure,
     a fountain which can replenish my dry heart,
       its waters flowing through me as a perennial river
       on-drawn by they Holy Spirit.
Enable me to distil from its pages faithful prayer
     that grasps the arm of thy omnipotence,
     achieves wonders, obtains blessings,
     and draws down streams of mercy.
From it show me how my words have aften been unfaithful to thee,
     injurious to my fellow-men,
     empty of grace, full of folly,
     dishonouring to my calling.
Then write thy own words upon my heart and inscribe them on my lips;
So shall all glory be to thee in my reading of thy Word!

Though perhaps specially relevant to those who are entrusted to teach the Word to others, it is a great prayer for meditation on Scripture in general.

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