Austin Bucketlist

50 things you must experience in Austin! I went through and marked off the ones I’ve already done since I first came to Austin in 2005 (most were done more recently). The ones checked off in teal are the ones I find extra special.

Austin Bucket List
adapted from etsy.com

This is only 50 of the endless amazing must-do’s  in Austin, so what’s on your bucket list?

My Graduation Staycation

It’s finally here! On May 19, I graduate with a Master of Education from The University of Texas at Austin. As a reward, I’ve decided to take a couple days off work for a 4-day weekend, and I’ve planned a much-needed staycation. Recommendations are welcome!

STAYCATION ITINERARY:

FRIDAY, MAY 18

Breakfast @ The Omelettry
Yoga at Umlauf Sculpture Garden
Reading/Swimming @ Barton Springs
Mani-Pedi
TeXercise Class
HEASPA Celebration
Family dinner

SATURDAY, MAY 19

Graduation
Time with family and friends

SUNDAY, MAY 20

Austin Stone Service
Viva! Streets
Stand Up Paddling on Town Lake
Food Trailer Hopping

MONDAY, MAY 21

Brunch @ South Congress Cafe
Violet Crown
Reading/Swimming @ Barton Springs
TeXercise Class
Painting with a Twist

Sinner’s Prayer

Try Googling it.

There are so many variations of the prayer, it’s impossible to know which prayer is the “right” one after doing a quick search. I suppose that’s the point. According to Wikipedia (yes, I’m referencing it), the sinner’s prayer is any prayer of repentance, spoken or read by individuals who feel convicted of the presence of sin in their life and desire to form or renew a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. For me, the desire was to form a personal relationship with God. And that, I did.

So, as of January 26, 2012, I’ve been saved!

I’ve been with an all-girls Austin Stone missional community for one and a half years now, and it has been the greatest blessing of my life. 2 months ago, I felt compelled to spend time with Nina, one of the girls in my group, so we watched the BCS National Championship game together at Third Base. Amidst loud cheering from LSU and Alabama fans, she asked me one of the simplest yet most difficult questions: “Have you been saved?”

For 1.5 years, I had been ignoring the most fundamental act of the Christian walk–being saved–because I had been afraid of it. But why? The free gift of salvation is something everyone should/would die for (literally)! Well, I wasn’t dying to be saved because I feared the end result, or lack thereof. I had been going to church, reading the bible, and actively seeking a relationship with God for almost 2 years. When it came to being saved, all I could think was, “What happens when nothing changes? What happens when I feel no different? Does that mean it’s time to give up?” I wasn’t prepared to deal with that situation, so naturally I put it off. But God has led me to this point by putting the girls of my missional community in my life, motivating me to attend the Austin Stone week after week, and giving me the desire to know him better.

I’ve invited Jesus into my heart wholeheartedly, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

God loves you

The Austin Stone Church – God With Us
April 3, 2011

Yesterday’s sermon was really touching. It focused on 2 facts that, as Matt says, our hearts are underwhelmed by:

  1. God loves you
  2. God is with you

You hear these statements all the time, so they may not mean anything to you anymore. Ideally, one should feel complete security knowing that God is with them and that God loves them no matter what they do or don’t do. God’s approval is not moved at all by your wrongdoings and failures, and nothing will ever change that. Matt related this to his relationship with his 6-year-old son; his love for his son is unwavering, no matter what. This made me think of my Dad and how my Dad loves me so much. My Dad loves me so much that he’s always thinking about me when he goes grocery shopping, he’s always wondering about me and how I’m doing, he’s supportive of everything I do, he forgives me for all my wrongs, and he (to his own detriment) can never say no to what I want. I feel so secure knowing that my Dad will love me forever, and it hit me in that moment that that’s the security I ought to be feeling about God, the father. Matt said that God has promised unending aid to his children, and he will fulfill.

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. -Genesis 28:15

I’m starting to think that God’s promise is a pretty sweet deal.

Rez Week at The University of Texas

Coffee house performances, free speech boards, and prayer tents galore!

Prayer tent and crowd in worship with UT tower background. Photo credits: Alex Wang

This year is the 16th Annual Rez Week, held for Christians of different backgrounds, denominations, and traditions to get to know one another. I walked by the displays this morning on my way to and from the gym, and I was pretty impressed with all of the set-up. Somehow, they’ve managed to create a warm, cozy feel to the Gregory Gym plaza by setting up a prayer tent and tables/chairs for a “coffee shop” and hanging artwork donated from various individuals. I walked into the prayer tent for a minute to sit and think, and the reason I felt comfortable doing so was because it was such a welcoming environment.

Most notable are the huge free speech boards that are standing in place with colored chalk. Members of the campus community walk by and write responses on the boards to a set of prompts (e.g. How do you feel about absolute truth?). These are meant to create dialogue and help people understand what students think and feel about their faith.

Free Speech Boards; Photo Credits: Alex Wang

Today’s the last day for all festivities, which makes me realize that I’ve missed out on a pretty sweet set of activities that I would have really enjoyed. Maybe next year!

The Bible Doctrine

I’m back!

With a little nudge from Chris from Spiritual Insight, I’m back! I never realized how difficult it is to not just blog, but also think up content for the blog.

I’ve been reading Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem recently, suggested by Matt Carter from the Austin Stone. You can find it on Google books (amazing, huh?). It also helps that my boyfriend owns a copy! It’s been a great read so far, helping to answer a lot of questions I’ve had along the way. It’s also bringing up a lot of interesting things I didn’t realize I believe.

For example, chapter four asks and answers the question, “How do we know that God exists?” It claims that humanity has an inner sense of God; we all have a deep, inner sense that God exists and that we are his creatures. I believe this one pretty wholeheartedly. I think human beings feel and know of an existence of a supreme being who is watching over everything and has control over things which we don’t. I like the idea because it’s comforting to think that what you have no control of is in the hands of someone who is all powerful and very good.

Most people know God exists because of a feeling they have. It can be an innate awareness, an unexplainable feeling or event(s), or a miracle. My friend recently commented that she has been going through an eye-opening spiritual experience after her faith was shaken recently.

So, how do you  know God exists?

Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz

I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. -Donald Miller

Who knew that religious inspiration could come from reading a funny book on a stair master every other day? I just recently finished reading Donald Miller’s book, “Blue Like Jazz.” There were so many times in his book that I felt like I could relate to the feelings or thoughts of different characters, including Don himself.

There was one part that really gave me the heebie-jeebies. Don told a story (and illustrated too) of Don Astronaut who wears a special suit that he can survive in without water, food, or oxygen. He gets stuck in space after an accident, and no one comes to save him. As a result, he orbits the earth for 53 years before he dies, alone and crazy. His helmet is black because his hair has grown so thick that it completely fills the helmet, blinding and suffocating him in the end. Don Astronaut’s experience is apparently what Hell is like….

Yay. Read the full (short) story of Don Astronuat here.

Demon possession

Mental illness or demon possession?

I went to Gandalf’s (a prayer cafe) with my missional community to serve food to the local East Austin community. Overall, it was a really great experience, and Gandalf’s is doing a great thing for the community. There was a lady that was roaming the area who had a very apparent mental illness. She was talking constantly to no one and everyone and yelling occasionally at us and others. She came to get some food from us, rambling and yelling along the way and throughout the night. She was also pretty rude about how much food she got. One of the girls with us suggested that this lady was demon possessed, that Satan was possessing her to scare us and others away from something good.

Do you think demon possession exists? I’m not so sure…

P.S. I just google image searched “demon possessed” and really scared myself.