Saturday, March 27, 2010

For I know the plans...

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Sometimes plans change.  Sometimes things don't go the way I expect them to go or want them to go.  When this happens I get frustrated.  I like to know what is going to happen, when it's going to happen and how it's going to happen, so when it goes different, I get frustrated and upset.  However, once I calm down, I begin to realize that even though my plans didn't work the way I expected them to, G-d's plans were being worked out in ways I couldn't imagine.
Last night I really really wanted to go see the sunset out at the lake. I'd even asked a friend with a car to take me to the lake (She likes the sunset too) and she had said she could and would...It appeared a rock solid sunset-watching at the lake plan...until about 6pm. She couldn't bring me anymore.  She had a previous committment that she had forgotten about.  I put a desperate plea out on facebook for someone to watch the sunset with and I started calling people who I thought might be interested.   I found someone.  Once again I had a rock-solid sunset-watching at the lake plan...except it got cloudy and there really wasn't much of a sunset.  Either that or we were just too late.  I was frustrated.  All I had wanted to do was watch the sunset.
Looking back, even though the sunset-watching at the lake plan had failed, it was a good night.  We drove around semi-randomly and found some places that would be good for future sunset watching at the lake, we went to Wal-Mart and had an adventure. I got some new detail brushes. We talked. We listened to music and sang along. We got to hang out and just be friends.  It was good.
I must be a slow learned because last night was not the first time in the last two weeks that G-d has taken my plans and turned them on their head.
New Orleans.  My plan was to go and spend the week serving others.  I did not plan on spending 4+ hours in the hospital on Monday.  Nor did I plan to be so out of it Wednesday that I couldn't even come close to doing my share of the work.  G-d however planned that I would learn to lean on other people and develop new friendships.  I don't think it would have happened if G-d hadn't slowed me down first.  Sometimes it takes a lot to get me to slow down and listen.
This week Wednesday I planned on going to be early and sleeping long.  I did not plan on going to Nine.  I did not plan on playing badminton at midnight...G-d planned for me to be at Nine and it was amazing.  The words spoken and the songs sung were exactly what I needed to hear.  And playing badminton at midnight...I like to think G-d planned that for a purpose too, even if it was just to have fun.
G-d's plans are so much bigger than mine.  It's easy to write this, but so much harder to live it.  I like to know what is going to happen, when it's going to happen, and how it's going to happen.   I need to learn to lean more on G-d and trust him more fully..."For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11
What we saw instead of the sunset I had intended on seeing....

Thursday, March 25, 2010


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Just a little something I wrote about turtles...It's nothing fancy or profound, but it's something and I'm not even sure it is finished yet. Pictures are just random ones I found online...
I am a turtle with a shell
As hard as
I start to trust you and
I begin to
And like a turtle in a shell
I can hide just as well.

But even little turtles learn
Although their insides churn
That hiding in their private shell
Doesn’t work out quite so well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

NOLA snapshots

A few snapshots from New Orleans
Five years after Katrina, there are still areas that have not been touched

Umbrella hanging by what is left of the door

doing landscaping at the Slidell church

Sunset over the Mississippi

tearing up tiles and linoleum to get to the original flooring so it can be repaired and replaced

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Last night, while the prednisone induced kangaroo in my brain was taking a nap, I had an internal discussion about walls.  It all started when a friend gave me a word picture of some super fortified walls with me on the inside and people trying to scale the walls and get in.  If the environment had been different, we may have had a discussion about this word picture, but as it was, I had the conversation with myself.
Basically it boiled down to one main question:  Are walls good or bad?
I feel that walls sometimes get a bad rap.  People are always encouraging us to "tear down our walls" and be unified.  We are told that walls divide us along lines of color and creed, and this in a negetive sense.  When some one is closed off emotionally, they are said to have "put up walls".
I agree with the fact that walls divide and separate.  One of  the definitions of wall (according to Merriam-Webster) is "a material layer enclosing space".   Walls, by their very nature, enclose things and separate things.
I'm not sure however that this separation is inherently bad. A wall around a school yard keeps the children from wandering into the street and getting hurt, and it also keeps bad people from getting in.  It's a good thing to have a wall.  A wall around your heart keeps it from being broken by careless people, but it also keeps it from being loved by people who care.  It's both a good thing and a bad thing.
I think I need to examine the walls in my life and determine which ones are good and which ones are bad. I don't think it's wise to assume that all walls are bad just because they are walls.  However, by the same token, I don't think it's wise to assume that all walls are good.   I think somewhere there has to be a balance.  Maybe what I need is a good gate, a gate that is selective in what it lets in and out, but nevertheless lets things/people in and out.
I have more thoughts, but I just fed the kangeroo and it's waking up, so I'm going to stop now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Returned-short version

This is a shorter version of the previous post.
We returned safely from New Orleans (NOLA) last night.  The trip had its ups and downs, but was overall very good.  I'm still a little tired and not necessarily completely coherent.
Here's a quick recap of the trip:
Friday night/Saturday: Travel to NOLA, settling in at the two churches where we would be staying.
Sunday:  Church in Slidell, alligator watching, St. Patrick's day Parade, tour of NOLA, College student Walmart run.
Monday: First day of work projects, spontaneous hymn sing at the big chuch before we left for work projects.  Crawfish night.  I learned that I am very very allergic to crawfish and that I have great friends who will take me to the hospital and make sure I get taken care of.
Tuesday: Second day of work projects.  Due to my benadryl and steroid cocktail I slept most of the day.  Amazing small group and worship time about resting in G-d's arms.  Found out I'd been accepted to Western for next year!
Wednesday: Third day of work projects.  Again I slept most of the day.  College students fed the homeless and went out for dinner.
Thursday: Fourth and last day of work projects.  I was awake for more of the day, but still slept most of the afternoon. We left for home at about 11:30pm.
Friday: driving home all day.  Again, I slept for most of it. Arrived safely back in Pella at about 5:30 pm, just in time for it to start snowing.

Work projects:
Gerald's house: siding, flooring, hot water heater, weeding-finished. Hallelu-JAH!
Arthur's house: painting the porch, staining the floor, replacing screens, replacing glass in the door- finished.  Hallelu-JAH!
Slidell church: landscaping, weeding, planting shrubberies, mulching-finished.  Hallelu-JAH!
Thrift store: not sure, painted a mural on the wall, did other stuff-finished.  Hallelu-JAH!
Other church: painted and other stuff- finished.  Hallelu-JAH!
Other projects: dirt moving, soffitting, painting, weeding, etc- finished.  Hallelu-JAH!

If you want more details, read the long version of this post.

Returned-long version

We got back from New Orleans yesterday evening and I considered writing a post then, but in the interest of coherency, I decided to wait until after I had slept. That said, the coherency of this update might still be lacking. I'll do my best though.
We left Pella at about 8:30pm Friday night or so, with 6 vans, 4 of which were pulling trailers. In the vans were about 21 Central students and recent alums, and a whole bunch of high school students and chaperones, for a total of 80 some people. We were definetely protected by angels as we made the drive from Pella to New Orleans and all the vans made it safely. I slept most the way as a defense against motion sickness. Part way down our convoy was joined by a car with 2 adults (Sue and Donna) who were joining us on the trip but had left early so they could do the trip in 2 legs, instead of all at once. Just before New Orleans I transferred to the car for the crossing of the "big scary bridge". The big scary bridge was about 40 miles long over a lake and was very very wavy. I was very glad that we did not go back across it when we left New Orleans. Being in the car helped avoid some of the waviness and thus helped the motion sickness.
We arrived in NOLA Saturday afternoon and spent some time unpacking and showering before eating. The highschoolers and their chaperones stayed at the big church and the college students and recent alums stayed at the little church, Pastor Charles' church. This meant that the majority of college student girls got to sleep in bunk beds as opposed to air mattresses on the floor. It also meant that we had to get up earlier than the highschoolers and go to bed later because we had to drive between the two churches.
The college students were paired up to lead small groups of highschoolers and I was paired with Jordan. Jordan and I had 7 highschoolers in our group and by the end of the week I knew all of their names and could match names to faces, even though I misses small group twice. I count that as a success.
Sunday we went to a church in Slidell. Amazingly we were considerably early and instead of waiting around at the church we went to look for alligators. We did not see any, nor did we feed anybody to them. We learned an important lesson about not having 50 people on the end of a dock though.
After church we ate our bag lunches and went into Slidell to watch the St. Patrick's day parade. The most interesting thing about the parade was that the people on the floats would throw vegetables at us- potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions, etc. I'm not quite sure why, but we did end up with a considerable pile of vegetables and lots and lots of beads.
After the parade Pastor Charles took us on a tour of New Orleans. It is amazing how much damage remains after 5 years. Some of the houses looked fine on the outside, but when you looked inside you could see that they were just shells of houses. Other places, especially in the 9th ward, had not been touched at all in 5 years and you could tell that they were exactly as they had been left. I have some pictures and once I get my memory card back from Niki I will post some. It was very heartbreaking and after awhile I could not look anymore.
After dinner Sunday night, we had small groups and worship time. Then the college students made a walmart run to get some important things like sunscreen, aloe, ear plugs, and waterbottles. Some of us had forgotten that it was no longer winter in NOLA and had failed to bring sunscreen and aloe with us. Even I was a little toasted Sunday night. (I'm a wonderful shade of tan now) I had a small seizure Sunday night, but my friends had me in bed before it hit and it was short, so that was a blessing. I blame the excess sun and lack of water and lack of sleep for that.
Monday was our first day of work. As can be expected, things did not go according to plan and we were severely delayed in leaving the big church for our projects. However, G-d worked in an amazing way. While the leaders were out trying to figure out how to hook up trailers, rest of us were in the sanctuary having a hymn sing. We got Ashley to accompany us on the piano and we just sung hymn after hymn. And a bunch of praise choruses too. And some random songs. I was super impressed with the high schoolers and their patience.
When we finally left I was on the Gerald's house crew. I was supposed to be siding, but did a lot of other stuff instead, such as weeding, tearing up old flooring so new could be laid, marking studs, and sitting in the shade drinking water and taking care of myself. There was a creepy ice cream truck that made daily visits to that site. Gerald has a little son, Genesis, who was very excited when he came home from school and saw us working on his house. I wasn't able to go back to that site later in the week, but I have heard stories of Genesis running around screaming "Thank you" at the top of his lungs over and over again. We finished siding the house, and laying the new floor and installing the hot water heater. Hallelu-JAH!
Monday night was crawfish night. I was excited for it. I have never had trouble with shellfish or any seafood and I had discussed with Diana how it was prepared and fully expected to be fine with it. I even liked it. However, it did not like me. At all. I had eaten two crawfish when my mouth went numb and my throat started swelling. Benadryl and Ventolin were not enough to pull me out of it and my amazing friends stabbed me with my epi-pen and brought me to the hospital. Thankfully Pastor Charles was with us and knew how to get to the hospital very quickly. By the time we got there I was semi-conscious and breathing and we proceeded to wait and wait and wait and wait. Pastor Charles ended up leaving, and Jordan and Niki stayed with me. After about 4 hours or so I finally saw the doctor who ordered a shot of benadryl and a shot of steriods, since I was headed into a secondary reaction by that time. The nurse was amazing and gave me both shots at the same time so it felt like one. It was two shots because there were two needle holes in my hip. I don't remember a whole lot after the shots. Jordan and Niki told me that I got really goofy and said some random stuff. The IM benadryl wasn't as fun as IV benadryl (no cherry smell), but it was still good stuff. The doctor also ordered a 12 day course of oral prednisone and 50 mg of benadryl every 6 hours for the next 24 hours. Tuesday was pretty much a blur because of that.
Tuesday morning they let me sleep in a bit, which is good because I don't know that I would have woken up with everyone else. High dose Benadryl does that to me. When they picked me and Ali up at the little church to take us to our job site, I got into the van and Sue said "I want to be the first to congratulate you" I was uber confused. Usually I don't get congratulated for going to the hospital and being strung out on drugs. Eventually she elaborated. As a Western alum, she knew Mark Poppen and knew my application for seminary had been reviewed on Monday. She called Mark Monday night while I was at the hospital. The Benadryl/steroid cocktail I was on made it hard for me to show how excited I was, but on the inside I was very very excited. I've been accepted to Western! I will be moving to Holland, MI next year! A few people got very excited texts from me on Tuesday before my cell phone battery died all the way.
My work project on Tuesday was Arthur's house. I'm not sure what the overall project was, but I know I weeded and made screens, and cleaned the floor so it could be stained and slept in the van. (Sleeping in the van became my project for rest the week, thanks t0 benadryl and prednisone). I also know that we painted the porch at Arthur's house. Whatever else was supposed to get done, we got it done. Hallelu-JAH!
In small group and worship Tuesday night we talked about resting in G-d's hands. It hit home hard. I'm very much a go-go-go-go person, so it was a good reminder just to sit and rest. And it was what a very good friend of mine had told me to do before I had even left for NOLA. It was very good.
Wednesday was a rough day for me. The Prednisone makes me very dizzy and nauseous, and it makes my brain really jumpy (hence the lack of coherency). I also had some seizures on Wednesday. So even though I was at the thrift store project all day, I really didn't work. I slept a lot and talked with my new friend Mandy. I'm not even sure what our project was at the thrift store, but it got done. Hallelu-JAH!
Wednesday night the college students took the night and went and fed the homeless (I slept) and then went out to dinner. I was awake for most of dinner. The neatest thing at dinner was that we each got a letter from a faculty member who had been praying for us all week. That was really cool. Then, when it was really late and no one else was left in the restuarant, we went back to the little church and slept.
Thursday was our last work day. I was on the crew that went to the church in Slidell and did landscaping type stuff. We weeded flower beds and then planted new shrubberies. Mandy and I may have accidently spent a long time pulling out what we thought was a weed only to realize later that it was a baby shrubbery. In the afternoon we spread mulch in all the flower beds. I slept on the floor. When we left, the flower beds looked beautiful and there were new shrubberies planted. Hallelu-JAH!
Thursday night we cleaned up both churches, packed all our bags and had some pretty sweet small group and worship time. The college students who got back to the little church first were rock stars and rolled up everyone's sleeping bags and started cleaning, so that when we got back later all we had to do was shower and pack up the last few things. We left NOLA at about 11:30pm and I copiloted until 3am. Thanks to the prednisone, I don't sleep so well at night without help. After 3am I slept pretty much all the way to Iowa.
As we arrived back in Pella, it started to snow. Ickyness. I'm ready to go back to NOLA. It was warmer there and they had sunshine and no snow.
Other highlights of the trip:
JayJay: This little bundle of energy must have lived close to the little church because he was there all the time. He was 7 years old (maybe) and just loved to hang out with us. On Thursday night we sat on the porch of the little church and I told him stories. I miss telling stories. He also had a really cool toy that was like a magna-doodle but used light instead. He let me play with it. He took down some of our addresses, so maybe we'll get letters from him.
Finishing other projects: I'm not sure what all we did, but I know a group moved dirt, another group painted a different church, some group did something called soffeting, and in general we got a ton done. Hallelu-JAH!
Amazing community: The group was amazing. This was my first time on the NOLA trip and it was just incredible to work with everyone and take care of everyone and be taken care of by everyone. Lots of hugs, lots of "doing it for Jesus", lots of praise. Hallelu-JAH!
Safety: there were no major injuries, all the vans made it to and from NOLA safely, and no one got super sick (there were lots of colds and some stomach flu type stuff, but nothing major). Hallelu-JAH!
When I have pictures I will post some, but right now Niki has my photo card.
Be blessed!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Let the springing and the breaking begin!

In a very short while I will be leaving for New Orleans with campus ministies!  Spring break is finally here!
In about an hour or so I will pack up with everyone else and embark on the really long drive to New Orleans.  I'm not quite sure what we will be doing, but I know there will be 80 some people, college and high school students and we will be doing stuff.  I'm excited for this trip.  I haven't been able to go on a missions trip since Reynosa sophomore year. 
Overall it's been a good week.  I've made it through midterms once again, papers all got turned in, and, (the bestest part) Mommy Lisa came for a visit!  It had been far too long since I last saw her.  We had a marvellous visit and everyone here thinks she should come back soon.  We were even safe, with the exception of a small mishap during craft time that involved my thumb.
My bags are packed, Sampson is staying with Snowball and Finkelstein for the break (he decided he didn't want to come to New Orleans and he didn't want to stay in the room alone since Sheepy was coming to New Orleans), Lazarus and Houdini both have water (though I am doubting there is any life left in Houdini) and it's time for me to go get some supper before we leave.
Everyone have a great week!  If you are spring breaking, break safely.  If you are have a "normal" week, have it well.
Be blessed!
Sampson (left) will spend spring break with Finkelstein (middle) and Snowball (right).  The three are good friends and should get on just fine.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Just an Ordinary Sunday

I don't have any creative artwork or craft project to show for this weekend. I don't have any masterful piece of poetry or a retelling of a Bible story.  I just have me and a relatively boring weekend.
After averaging no more than 5 hours of sleep a night all week, I crashed after watching Theatre Central's production of "Urinetown: The Musical", not bothering to set an alarm for Saturday morning.  Surprisingly enough, I woke up on my own about 8 hours later and began a productive Saturday. My domestice urges overcame my urges to be studious, which went well for my laundry and general room cleanliness, not so great for my paper, but it all got done. It is now Sunday evening and my paper is finished, as well as all of my reading for tomorrow, AND my room is clean. 

Highlights from this weekend:
  • Walmart.  You never know what will happen at Walmart. You just might find giant cups and saucers and feel compelled to take pictures of your friends pretending to drink out of them.  Or you might get distracted by shiny utility knives.  Or you might have a conversation about mission trips with someone in the shampoo aisle.  Or you might do all of the above and more.
  • Baby Andrew.  He's 1 week old today and I got to cuddle him after church.  So precious and so tiny.  I even got permission from his sisters (and parents) to come cuddle him during the week.  Me and Andrew, we're gonna be friends.
  • New earphones. Earphones don't work so well after they have been sat/stepped on or otherwise smashed. So I have new ones now. They are blue.
  • Urinetown: The Musical.   I like musicals. A lot.  I like watching my friends be in musicals.  Little Sally, you still make me smile.
  • Friends.  I love being reminded how much my friends love me and that they only ever have my best interests in mind.  I also love that they can be just as stubborn as me.
  • Sundae Sunday.  We definetely had a floor activity this afternoon that involved ice cream Sundays.  and my RAs definetely bought Joy-friendly ice cream.  and I definetely ate far too much of it. 
Things I'm looking forward to this week:
  • Mommy Lisa is coming on Tuesday!  I am very very excited about this.  Very very very excited.  I haven't seen her in far too long and she is on spring break this week so she is coming to see me!
  • Playing Bible Volleyball with Mommy Lisa.  Again, it has been far too long.
  • Warmer weather.  According to my computer we will be up to 10 (C) or 50 (F) by Wednesday.  Spring is on the way.  Soon, we might actually be able to see grass and flowers and all manner of other things.
  • Spring break.  need I explain?
  • New Orleans.  I'm leaving Friday evening with a group to go do work in New Orleans for spring break.  I'm rather excited about this adventure.  We shall see what G-d has in store.
Things I'm not so sure about right now:
  • My midterm tomorrow night.  It involves remembering information from 13 chapters of a book.  I'm  not so great at the remembering thing. I think it might also involve group oral discussion.  Another thing I'm not so great at.
  • Summer.  I thought, for about 5 hours today, that I had plans for at least part of summer.  I was even fairly confident that these plans were in line with what G-d wanted from me since it had been affirmed by separate groups of people, independent of each other.  Evidently it wasn't supposed to be that way, at least not that way the way that I thought it was going to happen.  I'm back to square 0 for summer plans.
  • Life after Central. I will hopefully know after spring break if I got accepted at Western. The next day that they review applications is March 15, so I definetely won't know before then. Sometimes its hard to trust that G-d has this all under control.  I get rather impatient at times.
  • My IRB application.  It's a lot of work and it needs to get finished this week and it's not quite on schedule.  I'm a tad bit overwhelmed by it to be honest.
Parting words:
The second last song we sang tonight at Calm was "Sing to the King"  (the last song was "I'll Fly Away" which also made me happy) and it just filled me with joy, especially when a friend hugged me halfway through and told me she had just been praying that song over me. (If you want the lyrics click here.)  The song just gives me so much hope that Jesus is coming again and that until he comes, no matter what happens, we belong to him, and he's already beaten the enemy.
Good night all!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Patience is a virtue...

...a virtue is a grace, and Grace is a little girl who wouldn't wash her face.
Sometimes I am not a very patient person.  Not so much with other people, but with myself and life in general.  It's something I definetely need to work on. I want things now and I don't want to wait for them.  I get more impatient about somethings than others. Here are things currently at the top of my list:
I am impatient:
  • for spring to come.  We are having wondeful maple syrup weather, which tells me that spring is close, but I want it to hurry up.
  • to hear back from Western.  This will determine largely what I am doing next year and I really would like to know sooner rather than later.
  • for my crayon blanket to be all the way done so that I can post a completed picture of it. I'm to a point now where I can't work on it and read at the same time so it's not progressing as far.  Here's a picture of where it is at right now...
I used this pattern as a suggestion, but added two more crayons, added rows to make them longer by about 8 inches, did the lettering differently and put them together differently. I also have plans to do another 8 crayons and sew the two sets together in such a way that when you fold the blanket it looks like a box of crayons.
  • for school to be over.  Senioritis has set in a little sooner than I would have liked it to and it's really hard to stay focussed on school and homework and papers and readings..
Enough about being impatient.  It won't change anything anyways and it's time to run get some lunch before classes start for the afternoon...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Paint goes on Paper not People

About once a month the bell choir plays in church.  Since I am in the bell choir I have to be at the 9am service to play.  Since I am a college student, I typically stay for second service too before going to lunch.  So, about once a month I get to hear the same sermon twice in one Sunday.  This is not neccessarily a bad thing, because it means the second time around I can listen differently and reflect more.  Both very good things. 
Yesterday's sermon text came from Colossians 2:13-15 which, in the NIV reads: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Pastor Jon talked about a lot of things, but what I focussed in on was verse 14: "having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."  I liked verse 15 too, but verse 14 stuck in my brain.  Pastor Jon talked about the written code and explained that it was a very technical term. 
In New Testament times, when Paul was writing this letter, if you needed to borrow money, you went to the equivalent of a loan shark and told them how much you needed to borrow.  The money lender then had you sit down and write out, in your own hand writing how much money you were borrowing, when you were going to pay it back, and what was going to happen if you didn't pay it back.  That way, when you failed to pay back your loan, he could take you before the judge and show the judge the agreement in your hand writing...there was no getting out of it.
With that understanding we looked at the passage again.  Pastor Jon said that satan had a type of written agreement against each of us.  A list of our sins and short comings and he uses that written agreement to condemn us.  After all, it is in our own handwriting.  However, Jesus wrestled that agreement away from satan and it was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  He took our condemnation upon himself.
The first time heard the sermon I just sat in that truth (and made faces at the super cute baby sitting behind me).  The second time I was already dwelling on that truth when Pastor Jon got to it. While he was talking a line from a song popped into my head (as lines from songs are prone to do when I am being comptemplative) along with an image.  So I grabbed a note card and made a sketch. 
I spent rest the afternoon painting instead of doing my homework.  I think painting was clearly a better choice.  Now while I was painting, the hockey game was also going on so I was following it, and I got a phone call so I was also talking on the phone, and I was listening to, remembering the rule that paint goes on paper not people got a little tricky.  I ended up with large amounts of orange paint in my hair, and lots of other colors on my arms and hands, but it happens.  Here's the results of yesterday's comptemplation:
Christ took my "written code" and nailed it to the cross.  I bear it no more.  But he didn't just take my written code, he took everyone's written code...they are all on the cross and we bear them no more.  I know of no better news.

Lazarus and Houdini

I have two plants.  They are very special plants and even have names.  Lazarus came to school with me in August.  He got frostbite from the air conditioner on the way down, but recovered relatively quickly.  Lazarus is a special plant because he is very resilient.  I knew that when I brought him down here.  What I didn't know was how resilient he was. 
When it was time to go home for Christmas I made arrangements for Lazarus to stay with a friend for Christmas.  It seemed safer than trying to bring him home on the bus and back again. Unfortunetely for Lazarus, the day that he moved, it was minus a bajillion degrees out and in the walk from the dorm to the car and the car to the house, he froze.  My friend made a valient attempt to preserve him, but two weeks into break she emailed me and informed me that he was indeed dead.  I was sad, but asked her to hang onto the pot so I could plant something new in it. She tucked it away in a safe place and forgot about it. Shortly after arriving back on campus (4 weeks after he had froze) I got another message from her.  Lazarus had leaves again!  She brought him out of hiding and started watering him again.  I was happy.  Then, a short time later I got another message.  The cats had gotten Lazarus.  There were no more leaves and his stem was in two pieces.  He was most definetely dead.  Last week or so I finally got over to her house and I picked up my pot with the remains of Lazarus in them.  He most definetely looked dead.  I watered him anyways.  This is a picture of Lazarus this morning:
They are tiny, but they are leaves.  Not only are they leaves on the main stem, but there are also leaves on the stem portion that the cats had broken off!  Lazarus is alive!
That brings us to Houdini...When I learned that Lazarus was dead and that I was being driven back to school instead of taking the bus, I took a cutting from Lazarus's parent plant and tried to bring it back with me.  However, transferring a fresh cutting, in sub-freezing weather, for 14 hours, is not a wise idea.  When Houdini arrived at school he looked more dead than alive.  However, being from the same stock as Lazarus he pulled through and for awhile was looking almost healthy.  Then I knocked him off the fridge and he landed upside down on the floor.  The one leaf that he had left withered and he looked dead.  But since I was watering the dead looking Lazarus, and Houdini didn't look quite as dead as Lazarus, I watered him as well.  Here is Houdini this morning:
That is indeed a shoot of green sticking out of the dirt.  Houdini is alive!

Houdini and Lazarus and their stories give me hope.  They both looked quite dead and some had even given up hope.  However, under the deadness, there was life, and life was persevering.  It gives me hope for two reasons. 
Reason 1:  Spring is coming!  There will be new life.  Yes is it snowy and cold outside.  Yes everything out there looks dead.  But under the deadness, there is life and life will persevere!
Reason 2:  I have awesome friends who sing me songs.  Last night a friend was singing me "Jesus Paid it All"  The bridge in that song is: "Oh, praise the One who paid my debt, And raised this life up from the dead."   Wah-pow!  If a lowly plant can come back to life after being dead, how much more is my life worth?  It's worth so much, so very much, that Christ paid my debt, (all of it!) and raised my life up from the dead!   I could back this up with countless Scriptures, but I'll just stick to three: 
Romans 5:8 "But G-d demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 
Ephesians 2:4-5 "But because of his great love for us, G-d, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."  
Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your sinse...G-d made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins" 

I was dead, with no hope of life, but Christ took me, in all my deadness, and gave me new life.  Praise the Lord!