November 22, 2010
However, just because I'm not SUPER into Thanksgivng, don't think I'm not thankful...I'm thankful for Christmas! Jk, I'm genuinely thankful for a million things. In fact as thankfulness goes, I'm at the top of the class. I'm prepped and ready for a fun-filled Thanksgiving dinner with my favorite Canadian friends on Thursday.
This is not a pity-party. Oh, it's certaintly not. It's actually the opposite of that - I've found a whole new appreciation for Christmas. On top of celebrating the precious birth of my Saviour, enjoying the unity of the giving season, and Starbucks holiday drinks, this year, Christmas means family! I'm going home in a couple weeks and after Christmas, my in-laws are coming here to visit us. Spending Christmas and the New Year with my family is the best Christmas gift I can recieve.
And so, some may scoff at my premature Christmas spirit, but with every Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider, I inch closer to my new favorite holiday. Everytime I hear Bing Crosby sing The Christmas Song, I get giddy with excitement. And with as much uncertainty as our lives hold, I love the certainty that in 32 days, 12 hours, 1 minutes and 27 seconds, Christmas will be here. I'm thankful, for all of this.
October 2, 2010
Grace and Truth are like Batman and Robin. Together Grace and Truth are unstoppable. Hollywood gives grace. It's a twisted, political and controversial grace, but it makes people feel accepted. The Church has THE Truth. Unfortunately, we've preached the truth on this subject with fists in the air and billboards dripping with condemnation. I'm still pondering why we have ready-grace for some sins, and others we draw a hard black graceless line on the concrete. Maybe it's all too personal? I don't know. What I do know is that if we, the Bride of Christ, would come to our gay friends with boundless Grace and unyielding Truth, we would have a much better chance of representing ourselves as those also saved by grace.
And then to this equation, we add Love. Who truly loves this broadening community of people? Hollywood loves the cause. The Church hates their actions. I'll tell you who loves gays, God does. At the San Diego Pride Festival and Parade, every year there are people with signs that read "God Hates Gays" and I want to tackle them. In reality, sometimes it seems like He's the only one who really loves them.
If we are going to claim to be Christians, you know, "like Christ" then we need some introspection. We can't be afraid of Loving. We must remember the Grace we received. And we can never walk away from the Truth that set us free.
August 27, 2010
So here I am today, thinking about those friends. As I washed dishes this morning, I walked through some steps to relationship recovery with myself. Step 1: Forgive them. I have heard it said that true forgiveness means being able to wish the offender well. To bless them. Well this took a bit of work, but the 5 years that took place in between most of the drama sure helps. I started remembering the good times, and oh, those times were good. Fun and youthful. Step 2: Remember grace. As I worked through "How could they...", I remembered King David. God REALLY trusted this man and yet he shacked up with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. Bad news. And there's Noah- built a boat, survived annihilation by water, and then got drunk and naked. Boo. Oh my, thank you Lord for the reminder. My biggest beef with my friends came from the fact that they were a part of something awesome. God used them in their gifts. They saw people saved, changed. And then they left ministry to pursue...other things. Well, so did David, Noah, and so many others. God is graceful. He forgives and he uses us in spite of...us. That brings me to Step 3: Who am I? Better than them? No. In many of these cases, I only made things worse. God's kindness leads his children to repentence, and I was not a good example of this to many of my friends. I am so sorry. I have been focused on my hurt and my lack of understanding, that I failed to be loving, gentle, kind, peace-making, yada- yada. I realize that I am a different person than I once was. I occasionally remember how I handled situations in my past and I cringe. I definitely lacked gentleness and grace. I aspire to be better at those qualities now.
God, let me be graceful and humble in my relationships. Those qualities are much prettier than the ones I have previously exibited. Stay tuned...in 5 years I'm gonna write another blog like this.
August 26, 2010
As I drove through the metroplex cities of Dallas/Fort Worth, hot wind sweeping through my hair, Audio Adrenaline blasting from my CD player, darting in and out of 5 lane traffic; I knew my life was different already. I spent the next 6 years in a place very unlike the one I grew up in. Dallas was hot, flat and full of life. I found that the city was exciting; concerts, restaurants that were open all night, shopping, celebrities, skylines, the only reason that I was ever bored was because my gas tank was empty and/or I was a poor college student. Texas was full of surprises for me like fire ants, traffic, HEAT, Tex-Mex, stolen CD Player(s) from my car, a sweetheart turned marriage, a whole new Texas family, 4-wheelers, jet-skis, poor inner-city children, Certificate of Ministry, and a bunch of beautiful friendships that I will cherish forever. It was 2007 when my circumstances began changing and I prepared for new scenery. Adam and I opened our hearts to another adventure, telling the Lord that we were willing to go anywhere.
In the Spring of 2008, my husband and I drove across the southwest states of our great country to our new home in a quiet suburb of San Diego, CA. Alpine was beautiful. The weather was perfect. I remember commenting that the Garden of Eden may have been located in this precious town. Over the course of the past 2 years, I have fallen in love with many elements. I love the harvest of fresh fruit that falls off of the trees at this time of year, 300 days of sunshine a year, the view of the rugged mountains, sunsets, Palm Trees, and of course the sandy beaches that line the Pacific are a glorious addition to my life. Out on the west coast, I often feel like the world is at my fingertips. Big Cities and beaches, what more could I ask for?
Here's my dilema. I know what more I could ask for. Dogwood trees in full bloom. Indian summers. Noisy holidays. 4-wheeling through arcres of undeveloped land. Evenings spent watching deer run in pairs through open fields from the backporch of my uncle's farmhouse. Buttermilk pie. Family. BUT, if I went back to Missouri, I would long for the sound of the waves and the fair weather and the big cities with their cultural blends. Moving is not the answer. My problem is that I am now a compilation of all of these places. I am in love with San Diego. And Dallas, Texas. And Neosho, Missouri. These places and the people in them have shaped me into who I am, and yet I don't fit perfectly into any of them anymore. Who have I become? I am a nomad without a home, without a permanant residence.
1 Peter 2:11, "Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it." What a reminder! I am often homesick, but where is my ultimate home? Not here. Not even on this planet. As much as I long for the changing seasons of my youth, how much more do I long to spend eternity with the creator of the rain, snow, and sunshine. I long for Heaven.
Being a Christian means giving up the right to becoming comfortable here. As lonely as I often feel, I am anchored by my mission. I gave up my right to choose where to live a long time ago. My prayer is that God uses me as much as possible during my short stint on Earth. Because of that, I will be a nomad.
Along the way, I am thankful for the precious experiences held in each place He has given me to enjoy.
July 10, 2010
Adam and I were pulling into our apartment complex tonight when we saw it. Adam saw it, I heard it. Two cars collided, one while screeching on its side after tumbling throught the air. As Adam screamed, I looked to see the aftermath of a horrible accident. We both jumped out of the car, running to the scene; me, with my cell phone dialing 911. A semi-elderly couple were climbing out of the chrystler clutching various cuts and possible broken bones. I told the 911 operator our location, what the cars looked like, and what I had (hadn't) seen. She asked "Does it look like there is anyone trapped inside?" I looked toward the car accident and saw a picture that haunts me. A small river of blood ran down the street toward my feet. "Yes. Someone is trapped inside", Adam was walking away from that river with tears in his eyes. The events that followed, the sights I saw, I cannot share here. What I will share is that the lady in the white car didn't make it. She was alive when she passed Adam and I driving down the street an hour ago, but she isn't alive right now.
I am changed. I keep thinking about this young woman that I don't know, will never know. Who was she? Are there children who are motherless now? A husband who lost his love? Will someone be called on Monday and told that she won't be at work? More important than any of that right now is where is she now?
I walked into our living room and sat on the couch quietly. I was going to get on Facebook, then maybe go swimming, drink a soda. None of that even mattered anymore. Where was this woman spending eternity? That is what mattered. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. She was totally gone. The chance to tell her about the saving power of Jesus Christ was in the past now. Her decision had already been made. What a crater there is in my heart. My gut has been wrenched. See here's the kicker: today, I spent 5 hours sitting in front of Albertson's Grocery store, the hub of my little town. There is a greater-than-normal chance that I saw this woman today. I might have looked in her eyes, shook her hand, even watched her walk in the far entrance of the store in order to avoid the rowdy teenagers selling baked goods in front of the store. That's not what gets me, what gets me is that IT DOESN'T MATTER IF I SAW HER TODAY. I told no one I saw about the eternal security of my Saviour. "God bless you" did not save anyone's life today. The brownies we sold had a greater chance of giving someone food poisening than it did give someone a chance at hope. I was focused on my day, my responsibilities, not my real mission. As someone who knows the TRUTH, I must be aware of my surroundings. God, don't let me miss an oppurtunity.
Lady in the white car, I'm praying for those who loved you.
June 28, 2010
I don't know exactly why people do this. I have been guilty as well of attempting to move people through the stages of life very quickly. As the person being asked the questions, the whole proccess gets old pretty quickly. You feel like you are being rushed to take the next step in your life that will lead to ...? More happiness? Satisfaction? I'm not sure. What I do know, is that every stage of life has it's joy and pain. I am a fan of enjoyingit all. I look back now on these portions of my life and think things like: what if I would have succombed to the dating pressure instead of enjoying all of the things that come with being single? I would have missed hanging out with friends til all hours of the night, making all of my own decisions, even being lonely. And what if Adam and I would have listened to my mother (jk, mom) and all of the other voices telling us we should have had kids right away? Our lives would be different now. And I'm happy the way my life has been drawn. Is it possible for us to enjoy every season with our frinds, relatives, and aquintances? I hope I can, because in reality, I ask myself "What's next?" enough for all of us.
June 19, 2010
Clara was a beautiful, confident and independant woman. She was tough and dignified, known for working in military offices, starting right after her graduation from college during WWII and working her way to the highest position a woman in the 40s and 50s could ask to be in. Clara was respected by many and was good at her job. She was sassy and never intimidated by the pressure of working in the Pentagon, surrounded by men no less. Her days in DC were exciting and full of adventure. Sworn to secrecy about the projects she worked on, she took all that she saw and heard with her to her grave.
After several years in the military, Clara moved back home to Joplin, MO. Clara went from working from an expensive desk in DC to the trenches of a social service office. For the next few decades, she worked on behalf of families and children, spending every free moment caring for their needs.
Clara Laird was a spectacular woman, but I knew her best as Aunt Jeannie. I learned several things from Aunt Jeannie:
1. A well styled bob is always a classy choice.
2. A packrat is only a negaitve term if you are not in LOVE with every item you own.
3. Stubborness keeps you living on your terms.
4. Generosity from a packrat (see #2) keeps your guests giggling.
June 9, 2010
The ground is moistened and a cool damp wind hisses through the trees.
The smell of rain mixed with the pleasant air, fills my lungs.
With it comes the calm before the storm.
The green plants drip with the cold water from past rains as another soft gust of air passes me by.
The land is covered with a light wet fog of moisture.
The light gray clouds swirl into a distant, dark, angry sea of sky.
Aside from the soft sway and hiss of the trees; dead silence.
This calm hush over the land is a tranquil getaway for the mind to be at ease.
The land, in all of its complexities, awaits with me for the inevitable storm.
The sound of distant thunder breaks the silence and slides across the darkening sky.
The clouds above take the light from the sky as if they envied the sun's presents.
Almost like an invisible snake, another cool breeze slivers though the distant field of grass and peacefully caresses my shoulders as it passes by.
I try to soak up the remainder of this peaceful moment, as the storm moves ever closer.
The air is now filled with a slightly agitated sky, the storm, towering, impermeable, and determined to destroy this placid moment, stretches and pulls to fulfill its mission.
The still calm and peaceful land seems to know as well as I, that there is no stopping this darkness that is soon to come.
The storm is now almost upon me and it smothers the remaining land before it with a thick curtain of water.
Only the hope and faith that the storm will be over to reveal another peaceful moment are now left.
The hope and fact that there, as inevitable as the storm's path, will be another peaceful moment worth seeing, feeling, and living is all the reason to wait through the darkness.
Author Unknown by me.
May 6, 2010
We ministered this week in a tent community. On Monday as we walked to the field where the tents were, we passed through the neighborhood where most of the people living in the tent city, used to have homes. It was very green and private, low walls were present covered by vines and flowers. It was a Caribbean ghost town. Some houses stood, while others were leveled. There was the faint outline of three walls with a cracked sign in the front reading "Baptist Church" in Creole. In this community there was an elementary school that was still standing, in the field nearby was rows of tents. I was nervous to go in at first, after all, the people we were about to personally encounter had been homeless for the last four months, and I knew the spoiled life that I live. My nerves were soon put to rest, the Haitian people were warm and welcoming.
We brought a soccer ball and some other games for the children. We brought our prayers and support for the adults. Adam, a few other members of our team, and I walked around the community with a translator, talking with people about the earthquake and their lives since. We heard dramatic stories of life and death. Many heroic stories of mothers saving the lives of their children while suffering great injury themselves. Over the next several days, I found myself laughing and crying with my new Haitian friends. I couldn't hide my sadness as I listened to tales of hunger, loneliness, and physical pain. Several teenagers and young adults expressed their need for schools to be rebuilt, and education to be started again.
As the week progressed, our AIM team compiled our skills into a fairly organized visit each day. Members of our team constructed a VBS (children's teaching time) each day and the children watched Bible stories being dramatically acted out, learned scriptures and made crafts. At the same time, Adam delivered a word of hope and encouragement, with the help of an interpreter, to the adults under a large tree at the entrance to the community. In the midst of our language barrier, our relationships deepened and we became very close the people in this community.
One day we were surprised by a visit from UN Military. Apparently, one of their helicopters had flown by our tent city and saw a large mob gathered (in line for medical care), so they sent troops to check it out. They walked around our community for a bit with their large guns and ammo, but left when they were satisfied that we were holding a peaceful gathering. It was nerve racking having so many soldiers from all over the world so close with such dangerous weapons. That was the ONLY time in Haiti that I was fearful for my safety. And they were the good guys.
Even as I sit here and write, I am sitting in the midst of 30+ beautiful Haitian children who are learning a Bible verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life." It's a beautiful sound. I've been hugging and kissing these precious kids all day. Today Adam and Mark (our team leader) talked to the community leaders about our organization buying chickens for them. When we do, they will be provided with fresh eggs regularily and they will reproduce, giving them a financial and substancial source. We won't be here to see them delivered, because the process will take a few weeks.
Today I visited a very special young man. His name is Evansbord, we nicknamed him Invincible. His family of seven lives in a tent of probably 15x15. Evansbord had a seizure when he was 2 months old that left him nearly braindead and paralyzed. At 15 years old, he makes a few noises, his eyes jet around side to side, he has little use of his limbs. We call this young man Invincible, because when hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the earthquake, "Invincible" survived more than 24 hours under an enormous pile of rubble. His mother found him with only a broken hand and a few bruises. Even so, meeting Evansbord broke my heart. Until today, I've never really seen skin and bones. His shin was about the size around of a silver dollar, maybe a quarter. He layed curled up on a blanket on the ground, and this is how he lives. My heart was moved for Evansbord, and also for his mother who suffers with Malaria, is criticized by her community for continuing to care for her invalid son, and who is the sole provider for her 6 children and her orphaned and sick nephew. Yes, my heart was moved to say the least.
This journal entry was recorded on Wednesday. Please see my blog entitled "Miracle" for more on Evansbord.
May 4, 2010
Acts 2:47 "And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved."
We got off of the plane into the muggy Carribean climate. At 7:30am, it was already 85 degrees. Stepping off the airplane we were greeted by the sound of a local Haitian band playing for tips. It was pleasant and several of the airport personel were singing along quietly. As we traveled through the airport, I became immediately aware of the presence of military, many different countries were represented. I felt proud to see Us military men and women, a part of a worldwide effort.
When we finally arrived at our base, I could ponder - this whole earthquake thing was worse than I thought.
April 24, 2010
April 8, 2010
I'm going to Haiti in 2 weeks and I'm not prepared. Adam and I decided to go about 6 weeks ago. We didn't have the money and we knew it. We sent out letters to friends and family asking us to help us go on this trip. Not surprisingly, God has provided for us. I should trust Him more. I was pretty stressed, but He provided everything we needed. Actually, we were preparing for Haiti and we found out that our taxes were going to be like $1500 and I got very stressed. I knew we couldn't do it all, there was no back up plan but God's faithfulness. In the end, God has provided for all of it! We will step into May debt free! I'm so thankful for a God who directs my path. He is certaintly loving and kind. It's not the financial side I'm concerned about. Emotionally, I'm not sure I'm fully prepared. Everytime I see photos or read articles, I weep. What if I go to Haiti and cry for 7 days straight?! I don't know if I will be taken seriously, but maybe I will be taken more seriously. We will see. I've been looking at the daily photos from picturesofhaiti.com/photos. The pictures give me an idea of what I will encounter, and of who I will encounter. God give me hope, so I can deliver it to your people.
January 12, 2010
I lean into the boulder and watch the ocean go on forever.
The great Pacific always becomes the sky.
I can no longer tell the vastness of the bold and deep ocean from the weightless open sky.
I find strength in the repetition of the waves.
They are timeless; crashing on the same rocks daily, hourly, momentuously.
Only changing with the tide and wind, but returning none the less, tomorrow.
There is no sound that roars in my ears like the furious waves -
beating their brothers
for a chance to reach the shore.
The wind whips the water,
becoming friend or foe of the chaotic torrent.
The salty aroma draws me out.
I close my eyes and become a fisherman lost at sea,
engulfed in my senses...in love with this adventure.
I come to the cliff at night.
When my world has drifted into darkness,
and I cannot see so clearly.
I hear the pounding of the waves
I smell the damp ocean air
I feel the wind whip through my hair;
and sense the effects on the waves below.
But I do not see the deep blue sea.
I can no longer make out the breadth of the majestic ocean in front of me,
I only trust that it is still there.
I have seen it before.
My senses tell me that this time
seeing is not believing.