Subscribe: Tangled Up in Blue
http://tia-blue.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
asked  back  children  day  felt  god  heart  hope  kids  knew  life  love  people  romania  things  time  trip  wanted 
Rate this Feed
Rating: 3.6 starRating: 3.6 starRating: 3.6 starRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Tangled Up in Blue

Tangled Up in Blue



The musing of my off-kilter mind and whatever else decides to escape.



Updated: 2018-04-12T19:39:52.539-04:00

 



Outside the Tribe

2018-03-09T14:06:40.654-05:00

Last night as I lay awake in bed, something of a blog-type post began to write itself in my head. There was a sense of freedom and knowing that it's time to start writing again. Not just the snippets in my journal, but the kind that forces me to put deeper questions and revelations into words that I can look back on and may just encourage someone else along the way.

My whole life I have mostly felt a little on the outside. Slightly introverted perfectionists who feel less than self-confident usually don't draw a crowd. On the periphery of this group here and on the edge of that group there, left me standing in the middle feeling very alone.

For the first several years of school, it wasn't this way. My earliest memories are of building forts, riding bikes, and picnic lunches with my neighborhood buddies. I belonged. I didn't question it because I just knew - they were my friends and I was theirs. We celebrated each other.

When we moved and 5th grade started, kids started to shift into groups of popular and smart kids and the like. I didn't know where I fit in anymore and friendships became more complicated and hard to maintain. For the next 30 years, it seems I've been searching for a tribe of sorts, or trying to piece-meal one together without lasting success. There are times I just look up and ask, "Why?"

Over the last fours years my life has taken a not-for-the-faint-of-heart side road, up mountains, down into valleys and plopped me down into the land of parenting a preteen (dun dun dun...) While friendships for my son may look wildly different from mine, they are equally important. Unlike I was, he is 99% extroverted and in many areas slightly over confident. He could easily draw a crowd, but no one seems to be coming to the show.  I want him to be invited to the party, asked over to a house, or invite someone over without having to beg. I love that I'm his best friend right now, but I also know he needs more. He needs to feel like he belongs to a team. How do I help him when I haven't figured it out for myself yet? It breaks my heart.

How do I and how does he find a way to illuminate that grey area in the middle to see the others who might also be standing there trying to figure out a way into the group? Perhaps, when we see we aren't alone, we find our tribe.





Holding Hands with a Stranger

2015-03-20T17:07:34.662-04:00

Some say that a stranger is a just friend you haven't met yet. Sometimes that person might become a life-long friend or maybe just the one you need to get you through a leg of your journey. Last Sunday, I had an early morning flight from North Carolina. After spending two whirlwind days with lots of different people (and loving every minute) with a long evening ahead, I was looking forward to some introverted recouping time and maybe even a little more sleep on my short hour and half flight home. I learned a long time ago that when I am tired, I am a lot more open. When I am too exhausted to get in my own way, the walls come down. And that is usually when God wants me to learn something. So getting little sleep the night before may have been just as much His doing as the late night slurpee. Sitting next to me is a Chinese woman, I would guess to be in her early 20’s. As the plane began to leave the gate, she leaned over and in a quiet voice I could barely hear above the roar of the engines asked if she could please hold my hand. Flying made her nervous, even though this was not her first flight. I told her I understood. My sister is the same way, I said. I tried asking her questions to help take her focus off the plane, but as soon as the plane began its takeoff she became statue still and held tightly to my hand. Once we leveled off, she let go and thanked me for my kindness. I went back to playing my game. A few minutes later we hit some minor turbulence and suddenly she had wrapped herself around my arm and laid her head on my shoulder. Once again, I put my game away and spent the rest of the flight getting to know my new friend. Between the broken English and her quiet speech, I gathered that she was flying home to China to return to work after visiting her husband in the states. So I asked her how long she had been married. Ten days she replied, she just finished her honeymoon but now needed to get back to work. She spoke so matter of fact, not like newlyweds here who are all giddy and gushing. She works for the Chinese government, something to do with retirement. She tried to explain it but she struggled with the words. I just nodded as if I understood. She also shared some of the pressure from the family she is facing due to her husband being in the states.  About halfway, the plane hit some significant turbulence. She tightly grabbed my hand again and turned to me and asked, “How are you so brave?” I explained to her how I thought of the bumpy ride like a road with potholes in the sky. (I think something might have gotten lost in translation on that one) We settled into a comfortable silence for a few moments, quiet but still holding hands. It’s as I am praying for her silently that I see/hear/sense it. THIS IS A GIFT It was a gift to be able to give comfort and strength. It was a gift to be able to pray for her. It was gift to share a few moments. It was a gift to connect on a human level. I can't explain it, but it was a holy moment. This flight. Sun Ling next to me. It was God’s gift. To us both. We are made to connect with one another. Me in Michigan, you in China, South Africa, North Carolina or wherever… for 1 minute or 100 years… we need to connect. We need to offer the gift of our presence more, look someone in the eye, give a pat on the back, a big hug or just agree to let a stranger hold our hand. As I sat there I was so thankful I was offered such a gift and chose to accept it.   And hey, if I ever find myself in Peking, China, I already have a friend. [...]



UNCHARTED

2015-01-01T17:48:35.037-05:00

Looking back, 2014 was my turning point after spending the last 15 years wandering a wilderness I knew how to survive but failing to thrive. I had few expectations of the year back in January. I almost didn't dare to even dream for anything different, but halfway through the year I came upon a bend in the road.

I honestly believe I was only able to reach the bend because even when the days were long and seemingly monotonous, I kept walking. Even when I got sidetracked and lost for a time, I kept walking and found my way back to the road. In May, I was dared to dream, encouraged to run, and reminded to embrace the unexpected. Perseverance became my word for 2014. But it wasn't just for that year... It was a testament the years of wandering. It was inspiration to keep going, the breath of a second wind. The bend was coming just ahead. I ran all the way through December.

Now 2015 is beginning... Uncharted

While I likely won't be headed overseas for the first time in 5 years, I will be traversing new territory. A mission of love into a potentially hostile land where endurance, perseverance and dreams are desperately necessary. On paper, I may not appear to have the experience one might expect, but I see the ways God has been preparing me all along, day by day in the wilderness.   

If I've learned one thing is that I will stumble and fall many times along this path. There will be days that seem long and monotonous. I will get sidetracked and lost at times. And it's okay  as  long   as  I  keep  walking (and maybe even running).

I don't have a map to navigate the year ahead, but I do have a compass. It always points me to the One who has the map!

As I round the bend in the road, up ahead I see the starting line for a next leg of life.

Life... uncharted. Let's go!   






Where to find Hope

2014-12-05T09:03:42.410-05:00


Hope.

Have we lost it?

The month of November started with the death of a beautiful, young woman. While many applauded and spoke of a courageous victory, I ached.

News of suicide attempts over the Thanksgiving weekend. While many shopped for the latest and greatest, I wept.

I read a book, while fiction, still represented so much of the “right to die” acceptance that I felt heavy from it. At the end while others said, “What a great book,” I raged.

People resorting to violence because their sense of justice wasn’t satisfied. Women being told that giving life to a child who may have a “defect” is unloving… and it goes on and on. I prayed.

I still can’t let it go.

Honestly, I know a little bit of what it’s like to feel that desperation to have some control over the pain, especially in November. I clung to hope.

And here we are now in December. A month to celebrate the Life and Hope that came into the world.

With all this in my heart, I wonder… Is this happening because we have lost hope?

When did we toss aside the only real Hope for a get-what-you-want-right-now gumball machine that will run out?   

Hope didn’t come into the world in a box with pretty tissue paper and a bow. He came amidst a mother’s pain. He came bloodied and weak and crying. We will find the seed of hope in the very place where it hurts. It’s the only place to find it.

Hope is not in the boxes under the tree, we must look up and see Hope hanging from it.

As I pass the lighted houses and bell ringers at the beginning of December, I hope.



The Journey Towards Home - A reflection of the last year

2014-10-25T11:03:23.603-04:00

Almost exactly a year ago, I spent a week in Romania. The trip was supposed to force me out of my comfort zone and be something like a life-reset. I anticipated an experience where I saw the hand of God at work through me, soaked in his presence, was given revelation and I expected to be re-filled with joy. That wasn’t what I experienced. Instead I felt physical and emotionally alone, led to the wilderness and left there.

 Romania was my desert journey.

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. (Psalm 106:9)

The sand dune days that followed sifted by.  Like the unbelieving ones who died in the wilderness, old thoughts and patterns had to die in the desert. Remember this post. There were still things I was holding onto. Sometimes it takes the slow process of wearing those desires down with sandpaper. Eventually they become so smooth, they slip away. When you reach an oasis, you discover you've left them behind

Six months ago, I found an oasis. With fresh water, I regained strength and life. The joy I had been searching for was poured in. The sand of the desert had blasted off the old layer, leaving a new empty heart to be filled. With life and joy, hope and new dreams were able to thrive. The parched land of my life was flooded.

South Africa was my crossing of the Jordan.

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing...So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.  (Joshua 3:15-17)

Since then I've been watching God win the battles before me. Giving me a place to make a home, a family, a future. I am not the same person who was crawling through sandstorms alone on her knees a year ago. Today I am a desert survivor, river crosser, giant defeater, milk & honey savor-er, so very thankful daughter of the Universe Maker.

I’ve entered the Promised Land... home.

But he brought us out from there to being us in and give us the land that he promised... (Duet 6:23)

Stay tuned because next year will be a crazy brave adventure!



Never Joke About Snakes

2014-09-07T00:07:45.073-04:00

The idea was to get some good shots along the water, but when we finally found a place to stop there wasn't anything interesting to photograph. Still, I didn't want to come away without a picture as I had been the one to push for us to keep driving out further along the peninsula. I spotted a little outcropping of rocks down near the shore and asked my sister to carefully climb down and pose on them for a photo. Despite the look that clearly indicated she was not enthused by the idea, she proceeded to try and make her way without falling into the water. With some help from Dad, who was more appropriately shoed for this little rock climbing adventure, they sat and posed for my photos.While not the beautiful landscape I had planned for, a wonderful photo of daddy and daughter to commemorate the visit was success. I walked toward them as they stepped off the rocks. I noticed in the grass a large brown lump. At first I thought it was just more goose droppings, but for the size it would have had to been a pile of goose poop. Then I realized it was a snake, coiled up in the grass.And so, as my sister was about to cross the grass back to the path I am standing on I warn her. “When you step, watch out for the snake right here.” (you know where this is going, right?)She steps right in the direction of the snake, the snake moves and lifts its head. My sister screams and jumps several feet in the air and lands on the path.“I told you to watch out for the snake.”“I thought you were joking,” she says.For the life of me, I can’t figure out why she would think this. I know I’m funny and enjoy teasing her, but snakes… I never joke about snakes.In life, there are all kinds of hidden snakes, many whose bite are toxic. There have been times in my life that someone has called out to me. “Hey, there’s a snake over there. Avoid that direction.” Ignoring them, I continued heading toward danger. Often I've been bitten, and the "anti-venom" has been a painful process and never a quick fix. Why does it often take the stinging bite or the scare of a near miss for us to heed the warning? People who've been bitten before… they never joke about snakes.[...]



Thoughts from a Family Reunion

2014-08-01T14:25:55.058-04:00

Family. A word, concept and people that have brought much joy, sadness, confusion, support, and love throughout my life.  Somewhat unexpectedly, God has been reshaping me and rebuilding family around me. Life is always moving forward. We joyfully welcome new generations at one end and wonder how long we have left with the generations beyond us. There has been reflection on past memories and a look toward the changes coming in the future.Last weekend I attended a family reunion with my dad and granny. As the oldest one there, Granny seemed to be the one everyone wanted to meet. I was proud to be there with her, to hear her say, “This is my granddaughter Tia.” One day she may not remember. I got to hear stories from her cousins about growing up that she can longer remember. But I can remember them. Once again I was reminded of the power, purpose and love of family.  I have so many wonderful memories with Granny, some big events and others just little moments. I remember… she always called me Alice because of my long blonde hair. It always made me feel special and incredibly loved. (I asked her last week if she remembered that. She said she did and that I was still Alice to her and still in Wonderland.) …when she gave me my stuffed dolphin for Christmas (his name is Bubbles and I still have him)… the Christmas we had up north with everyone. It made her so happy to be in her home surrounded by her family.… I went on a road trip out east. One afternoon her and Auntie told me stories of their teens and early twenties and gave me (unsolicited) advice. At 19 some of the conversation seemed a bit awkward at the time, but what a gift to be poured into and loved like that… the trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon where we saw a coyote and Tiff and I took a different trail than we expected and weren’t sure we’d be found. … the back and forth banter between her and Grandpa that sounded harsh, but in a weird way expressed their love for each other… being able to spend Christmas Eve with Granny and Grandpa in the hospital, our last Christmas with him. Back at the house that night, Granny, Tiff and I put on trash bag dresses and modeled them, laughing hysterically. … while driving Granny home from a doctor’s appointment asking her to tell me honestly if I was the favorite grandchild. She replied, “If I say it’s not you, you’ll drop me off and leave me. Of course you’re my favorite.”  No offense to you other grandkids. I hope you can accept your fate ;)and so many more…I have to admit, these days it can be a bit draining to spend time with Granny. Sometimes I still see the sassy, spunky grandma I knew and sometimes I only see the woman in a fog surviving day to day. That’s what makes it hard and hurts my heart. God alone knows the number of our days, both hers and mine. As long as there are days left, I want to make the most of them. Every opportunity I have to honor her, respect her and show her I love her I want to choose to take no matter what it cost me. The sacrifice is temporary, but the memories last. I may have over 30 years of amazing memories already, but I am not done making them yet. [...]



It could be better

2014-07-22T12:10:51.463-04:00


I watched a recent episode of Extreme Weight Loss. At the beginning of the episode the girlfriend was not happy about her partner losing weight. She was comfortable the way they were and afraid of what else might change in her partner. She was more concerned about her own status quo than the health of the one she claimed to care about. Perhaps she couldn’t fathom that beyond the unknown of change could actually be something better for the two of them. The fear of losing what she loved is exactly what caused her to lose it in the end.

I’ve been there probably more times than I’d like to admit. I wonder how many people have watched me make decisions based on fear that ended taking me right down the road I had been trying to avoid. How many times has God reached out his hand and said, “Trust me. You can’t see the other side, but I promise it’s better” and I’ve pitched my tent right at the bottom of that mountain only to get pummeled by the avalanche? How long have I wandered in the wilderness when a little more faith than fear would have taken me into a promised land long ago?

I’m learning.

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about a lack of deep friendships, distant family members and feeling lonely. She admitted that while she desires meaningful relationships she often pushes people away and keeps them at arm’s length. Being asked to open the door, she responds politely through the screen. Perhaps she doesn’t see her value. She could have more but stays with none.
 
I’ve been there too. How many friends have I lost out on by living in fear of losing? Wanting to be loved and known and yet the fear of being not-enough, not-chosen or rejected was stronger. The known comfort of being alone and in control kept me from risking something momentary for something amazing.

Still learning.



The Victory Lap

2014-07-12T18:11:55.792-04:00

A theme phrase? A mantra? A goal? I'm not sure what to call it really, so I'm calling it my life theme for the rest of this year and hopefully the rest of my life. It was so obvious when I was running this morning.Across the street is a bike path that leads into a park. At the fork in the road, I can continue on the path that goes out 4 miles and back or I can choose to run into another park that has a loop around a lake that is a little over 8 miles. Something in me wanted to push myself to do complete both. But with a knee that had given me on again/off again pain even on much shorter runs over the past 3 years, I was hesitant to try.Photo credit: JD Last (2010)This summer, I noticed I was running better and longer without tiring than I ever had. A few weeks ago I completed the loop around the lake in a decent time and ran the majority of the distance. Then I began to consider attempting to compete the 16.5 miles.I finally got my allergies back under control and decided to do the run this morning. I had almost everything ready to go the night before and had planned to start my run about 7am. Perhaps, I was a little anxious and excited because I didn't fall asleep until 1am. Sleep is just as important as other factors, so I allowed myself to sleep in until almost 7am and was on the trail just before 8am.When you know you will be running for several hours, there isn't much to do to keep your mind occupied other than mental math games (i.e. I'm halfway through the first quarter, I think I can run this next mile in 10 minutes) or letting your mind wander. For me that usually is prayer and listening. It got hot pretty quick and I was wishing I had slept better and started that hour earlier when it would have been cooler. About the halfway point, I began to wonder if I really had it in me to do this. I was alone, no one would know I gave up. No one would be affected if I ran back to my car. My legs already felt tired and it was only going to get hotter. But I was still making decent time (based on all the math I had done to meet my personal goals). Then... I heard it. Or maybe felt it is a better description.PERSEVERE I had already come halfway. In just 2 more miles, there was a cold bottle of water and granola bar awaiting me. I could at least make it that far. And so I pressed on. And I kept thinking about what it means to persevere, and what it means in my life.(2009)Persevere:  continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.Yea, that's about how I was feeling in this run, but not so much in life lately. Perseverance often makes us think of suffering and plodding along. Lately, life has felt more like the endorphin high they say you get from running (still waiting to experience that!)I kept on running.I kept on listening.The farthest I'd ever run is a 13.1 miles (believe me its more than far enough). There was a chance I could hit that mark on this run ahead of my best time. It was getting harder and harder to get my legs to propel me forward in even a slow run pace, but I thought with such a short distance to that 13 mile mark and a few precious minutes ahead of pace I could muster enough oomph to get to the marker. I made it over a minute faster than I ever had. The rest of what God was telling me popped into my head.PERSEVERE UNTIL VICTORY    I was actually going to finish this! (I must admit I hit the wall between mile 14 and 14.5 and walked most of the rest with a few short jaunts of jog in there.) But I persevered... not just today, but over the last couple years when I didn't want to get out of bed, when I lost sight of my God-given identity, when I kept praying, when I chose to let people in, and even when I kept running short distances. Today I persevered until victory!! Life has a way of distorting, thwarting and sometime[...]



Broken Yokes

2014-06-28T11:17:00.280-04:00

I've been on several trips over the last couple years, and each one has taught me and changed me. Each one a stepping stone to greater trust and greater love, in God, in others and even in myself. But this last trip was extra special. There are so many reasons why it was an amazing trip, yet there was something more that I've struggled to put into words, a giant leap into greater contentment and feeling more alive.

I finally realized heaviness was broken off me in South Africa.

Lev 26:13 ...I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

When I arrived in South Africa, I was still carrying around the charred remains of things I knew were dead and gone, but wouldn't leave behind due to pride, perhaps? Feeling the need to continually suffer the consequences, my own version of a scarlet letter? Whatever the reason, by the time I left, the yoke had been broken, and I didn't even know it was happening.

That is, until I felt the lightness of freedom!

Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Looking back I see God's hand at work, gently lifting the weights off. Being able to share my story without motive and be  validated and accepted the way I was, caused guilt and shame to crumble to ashes. They're gone. There is less need to have people in my life and more enjoying of those that choose to be. Friendship is a fine art and not everyone is an artist. Even my longing for a sense of family feels less acute and is shifting into something new and bigger. A knowing that as a child of God, he will always provide the right family members at the right time. They might not always be the same people, but He is always the same God.

God came to break us free.

Isaiah 9:4 ...you have shattered the yoke that burdens them...









Please God let him be good looking

2014-06-20T20:38:10.975-04:00

With my hopes and dreams going through a re-awakening lately. I've also reopened the door to the dreaded idea of dating. But again and again I run into the same wall it seems. And I admit, I'm a little frustrated.Last weekend I had the strangest conversation with my granny. She has dementia, but there are moments of clarity. I haven't decided yet on which side this falls.Granny:  You don't have any kids?Me:  Nope. No kidsG: Well, we all know how you feel about marriage and about kids. It's okay, it's not for everyone. (huh? what are you getting at granny?) But you could adopt. If you wanted to have kids you'd have to get married first.Me: God hasn't provided anyone for me to marry.G: Yes, He has (when was this?)Me: Well then I must have missed it because I've been looking, Granny.G: Yep, you missed it.Me: Okay (thanks for the pep talk granny)I've been "on the market" (who came up with that term anyway?) for what we will call an extended period of time. I haven't gone from one guy to the next. In fact, I've had fewer relationships than some people have had marriages. Perhaps my standards are high, but there are just a few basics I require.1. A Godly man. Not just someone who says they are but who's actions and life reflect trust in God, knowledge of His word and prayer.2. The ability to carry-on a conversation. The kind where both people take turns talking and listening. 3. The ability to write sentences in correct English. This may not be important to many, but as a writer and administrator it is to me. There are enough things in relationships that can be irritating to work through. 4. That I find him attractive. No one else has to think he is, but I do. Looks aren't the most important thing, and I know that as we get to know people our perception of how they look does change, but when I look at him I shouldn't feel disappointed. Right?That doesn't seem to be like a lot to ask for. Does it?Instead I typically find myself in the following scenarios:An attractive guy, solid christian, very easy to talk to with a lot in common. Looks hopeful?  Nope... he's not interested. (and either was the other cute one, or the other... you get the idea)Or a guy who looks good on paper, but when questioned deeper doesn't really have the faith he professes. The latest example said he desired to keep sex for marriage, but would agree to whatever his partner wanted. Somehow that doesn't really scream good leadership or conviction for that matter.And then there is the guy who I enjoy emailing with (he writes well in English - check! carries on a conversation - check! demonstrates genuine faith - check!) but I don't know what he looks like. And so I ask for a photo and then begin to pray.... Please God, let him be attractive. I open the photo and ...Now what? I am left thinking. Am I just shallow? I learned in a college class that people tend to marry those about the same "attractiveness" level. Am I as equally unattractive? I know I'm not the only one who thinks these things, but it doesn't really make me feel any better about it. What's a girl to do?(disclaimer: please take this post in the tongue-and-cheek manner of which it was intended)[...]



I.D. Please

2014-06-08T14:55:02.155-04:00

IDENTITY: Who someone is.

TRUE IDENTITY: What God sees I am.

I attended a conference over the last two days where I was reminded and challenged to live out my true identity. There is an inheritance of promise and provision for who God created me to be. Everything God has for me (he has everything and is for me!) is to make me see past the distortion to the truth. To see and more importantly know my true identity.

(image)
(present and future identity)
I sat down and asked God to help me come up with 50 characteristics of my identity. The first half came in a gentle rolling wave. Then a couple more. The last 10 came painfully slow. Occasionally, a negative would pop into my head like "selfish" or I would disagree with the word I had thought of, "Humble... yeah humble sounds nice. God wants me to be humble. But if I type that then I'll have to remove honest..." The point is - the negative isn't my identity, but it does point to parts where there is a disharmony between what I see and God sees in me.

As each negative arose, I thought of its opposite and metaphorically set it ahead of me. This is the identity I am headed towards.

Identity is defined as who someone IS... not WAS. I am sooooo glad about that. Somewhere along the way I started believing that certain things had become a permanent part of my identity, like a branding that scarred me for life. Guess what!?! It isn't part of my identity anymore. Instead of looking back and seeing "soiled", God said to look ahead and I saw "pure". Where it once said "fearful", now says "trusting".

So many new features it was time to get a new id card - the old one didn't look anything like me anymore!
I'm still heading towards the finish line, but I know what He's promised and that He will be the provision.








Monday Morning Psalm

2014-06-02T05:54:34.793-04:00



Your beauty amazes me.
Your stars shine by the tens of thousands.
You care for all the birds and flowers. 
And yet...
Oh what a joy to my heart!
and yet you care, nay love, 
with a love beyond measure someone like me.
In your presence, I would've crumbled from my shame
but just as I thought it would take me down you removed it
and instead I crumbled with gratitude.
Only you, God.
I worship You and praise You for all your beauty in the heavens 
and your handiwork in my heart.

(written while watching a Monday morning African sunrise) 



Something to Hold Onto & Something to Run Towards

2014-05-27T20:17:28.053-04:00

As my time in South Africa was winding down, I was feeling less wanting to leave. I was afraid of coming home to a sense of “nothing.” I wanted to come home to “something.” Something of meaning to get me out of bed each day; something that builds into others and not just builds into me; something that doesn't feel like the same dreary circle month after month.

Sometimes seasons of nothing are needed. I needed to once again be stripped of everything I depended on to be reminded that only One is always dependable. But, it’s just a season and as our seasons change, so should we. I had gotten comfortable with nothing, when my Father is the God of everything. The wall of my Jericho didn't fall after the first few times around and like the spoiled child I am all too often, I plopped myself down and prided myself on defeat.

I specifically asked God to give me something sustaining to hold onto when I got home.

Later it was prayed over me that I wouldn't try to hold onto anything, but keep my hands open. I admit my heart got a little defensive. “Of course I’ll keep my hands open to you God… as long as you put something in them. I've learned how to let things go that you want to remove haven’t I?”  The problem wasn't in what I was asking, but the reason. The past (in this case what I’d lost) should never be a motive for a present or future blessing.

The following morning my new family prayed again before we said our final goodbyes. The words that stood out were that God would provide something to run towards. This time my heart replied, “Yes! Yes! That is what I am longing for.” I am ready to run (in a similar love/hate way I feel about real running) toward the best things - though the final destination is still being unraveled.  

This past weekend, I spent some time reflecting. There were places in my life I saw tremendous growth; amazed by the person I've become. I also recognized areas that are still a struggle. There were times I stepped out in faith and times I've let fear win. I doubt myself and then turn around and trip over my pride. I thought about old dreams I've buried and I’m finally starting to see new shoots emerging.

Somewhere in there, it hit me…

While the dreams hover on the horizon, God has alsogiven me something to hold onto (with open hands of course) – each day’s gift. Like manna it falls fresh daily. Yesterday’s gift won’t be of any use today. Some days might be as simple as knowing He is for me.    

Whatever the route ahead brings, it will be hard and discouraging at times. I will need my friends and family to push me forward when I want to quit. There will also be times of celebration and great joy (maybe even dancing!) Jericho’s wall is going to fall. Time to claim some new land. 



Hard Days and Happy Meters

2014-05-22T19:28:33.644-04:00

Six of us umlungus (white people) walked into the children’s ward of a state hospital in the afternoon. Four of us entered somewhat hesitantly as we had no framework of experience to know what to be prepared for. The other two, staff of Ten Thousand Homes, didn’t know yet how we would fare. Up the stairs past the drab colored walls that made it look even dirtier than it likely really was and through the door. The hall had the same dingy hue as if the light was somehow being pulled back outside instead of streaming in. While the nurses and staff went about their work and a few children met my gaze with uncertain eyes, I ghosted my way past each room holding my breath as if my exhale might somehow disrupt the eerie quiet. At the end of the hall, a young girl sat in a chair. With a shy smile and a gentle touch, we found the doorway between our two worlds; no longer suffocated by the lonely ward, but breathing laughter and love. And other curious faces migrated over.  Before arriving we learned that the hospital was designed to work on a sliding scale, but most of the families can’t afford to pay and therefore most of the patients receive free care. Visiting hours are short and strict, leaving some children alone for the duration of care as the parents are unable to take time off or get to the hospital during the day. In addition to visiting with the kids, it was equally important for us to encourage and appreciate the staff. Thankless jobs are often hard to do well. Since TTH has been visiting and thanking the staff, they have seen an improvement in the care provided. It was still emotionally taxing. In each moment, I focused on connecting, touching, loving, and praying over these small ones. The processing came later, and is still working from my heart out onto the page.I stepped inside a room of boys. An external fixator and badly wounded leg was in juxtaposition of the smiling face looking back at me. He had a bunch of playing cards all over his bed. I remembered I knew the word for ‘king’ and picked up the card and said, “kosi.” A bigger smile. I gathered the cards (only about half a deck) and began to teach them the game of War. When the nurse came in to administer medication, I slipped out of her way.   A little thing in a crib, clutching a small stuffed elephant sat expressionless. Nothing engaged her. Nothing changed the indifference on her face. I picked the wounded bird up (it made no difference to her). Her gown, robe and bed were drenched in urine. My own shirt was getting damp, such a small inconvenience. Then a woman stood in the doorway and the little bird’s spirit came to life. Reaching out her arms to the woman, finally a smiling light in her eyes… “Mama!” Two times burned with scalding water, another baby slept in bandages and charred skin. In yet another room, a young boy slept, body contorted in obvious pain. How does one pray? What words can one use other than a deep groan? In a quiet moment alone standing bed side, a collision of horrific love and beautiful sorrow threatened to overwhelm. I sank to my knees on the holy ground of the hospital floor. A good party always attracts a crowd. By the time we left, us four umlungus had congregated in one room along with the children that could get out of bed. There was jumping and hand-clapping, Eskimo kisses and chipmunk noises. Best of all squeals of delight and laughter. A hard day for my heart, but awed by love. Not understanding, yet knowing God is still good. We didn’t change the world that afternoon, but the value of every smile (ours included) is priceless. As we walked out the door, the hall behind us felt brighter with the ligh[...]



Rebuilding Broken Hope

2014-05-18T13:19:57.440-04:00

There is so much I could share about my time in South Africa. I am treasuring so many moments in my heart that it’s bursting in overwhelmed amazement and gratitude. In the brilliant words of Kevin, I can honestly say:I am thankful for blessings disguised as hardships.Recently my life felt like a desert journey. Day in and day out, trudging through barren wasteland looking for hope on the horizon. When I left for Romania last fall, I was anticipating something great to happen… that God was leading me there for something new. I went and came back, and nothing appeared to have changed. HOPE was disappointed and broken. Photo Credit: Kevin KollarBut God… In Romania, I met a South African couple who recommended Ten Thousand Homes (TTH) ministry for Kevin and I to serve with. Are you catching this? God put South Africans in Romania, and sent me to Romania in order to send Kevin and I to South Africa, where God was waiting with eager anticipation to pour out His love on us and through us. HOPE was dawning on the horizon.We had many opportunities to experience what TTH does to lay foundations of hope in the communities surrounding it. After school programs allow the children a chance to just play, get a meal and most importantly to be known and loved. Relationships are built with and between parents and volunteers breaking down the walls of independence and mistrust. Building a community of HOPE. We saw the desert soul first hand when meeting a woman whose dream was for someone else to raise her children. Two of her babies were sick and appeared as if she had just been crying. The youngest, just shy of a year old was the size of 5 month old. After an emotionally hard home visit, with hurting heart Kacy said about her friend, “She’s so broken.” Holding onto HOPE for the weary.I stood on a hillside by a waterfall and let the dry cracked ground of my own heart be watered. I sat across the table as transparency overcame acceptability. Sharing how my broken was being rebuilt, God gave me a front row seat to watch truth bring light to some dark corners in the lives of my beautiful new sisters.Carrying HOPE to the kingdom.I am so thankful that we serve a God who loves to rebuild the broken, whether in Mbonsweni or Michigan. Perhaps I am drawn to Africa, because they too are a people on a desert journey. Yet, oases of dreams are being discovered. Love is coming up out of the dry ground. The beauty of hope is no more vibrant than when it blooms in barrenness. [...]



Dead and Wasted

2014-04-06T14:51:54.580-04:00

These thoughts have been rumbling around in my head for a couple weeks now. Much of it comes from books, music, and conversation all continuing to teach me to ask an important question.IS GOD'S GLORY BEING SATISFIED THROUGH ME?Not, am I being satisfied by what He allows me to have. Not, am I satisfying Him by what I am trying to do for His glory. But... Am I allowing God to satisfy Himself through me? And what does that look like?This year I joking said I was giving up "trying" for Lent. The joking part was that I gave it up for Lent. I want to give it up forever. I knew what I meant on an emotional and mental level, but I wasn't sure how to quite put it into words for others to understand. It didn't mean I was going to give up trying to be healthy, or trying new things, or even trying to make good decisions. I gave up trying to be what I thought God (and in many ways others too) wanted me to be and instead let God actually DO through me. If I don't die, then there cannot be any resurrection life in me. Mostly dead (yay Princess Bride reference!) still means somewhat alive. If I am somewhat alive I only need resuscitation, not resurrection. Why would I want to bring back to life the flesh in me which can only keep trying and failing?I heard recently of a christian who was feeling convicted in her relationship as they had crossed some lines. She realized that she had been making choices that slowly led her away from keeping her heart and mind centered on Christ. So, she confessed and surrendered her life back to God including the relationship she was in. Shortly after this, the man proposed to her. She was ecstatic as she felt God had returned her relationship to her and made it better because she willingly surrendered it. I'm not saying that isn't true. God is a good Father who loves to bless us, but my own personal experience of surrender has been different. At times, I have begged and pleaded for the things my heart desires. The bible says "you have not because you ask not." Well, I've asked. Other times, I've taken things into my own hands. God helps those who help themselves, right? (btw... that option never worked out well). I've gone through the motions of surrendering in hopes that God would then bless me. No such luck. Until finally, I stopped all that trying and really surrendered it all. (I'm sure I'll have to come back to this place again and again, perhaps even before the end of the day). Until He is my single desire, I'm still trying to stay partly alive.      I can't help but wonder how often we surrender something and the enemy flashes a mirrored reflection of our own desires back into our face and we are deceived into thinking it's God's desire for us? How DO we tell the difference?Do you know what is universal about dead people? They don't care about what might happen to them.I want to live like I'm dead, so Christ's death can become my life.The last chapter of Watchman Nee's book The Normal Christian Life focuses on the story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus just prior to his crucifixion. It is here we are taught to ask "Is God being satisfied?" Mary didn't care about the monetary worth of the perfume, she only knew it was the best she had, her earthly treasure and she spent it all on the One who was worthy of it all. The disciples appeared to have watched the scene seeing all the could have "been doing" with the earthly value of the perfume. "Oh... think of all we could have done for the poor. What a waste!" Jesus was more satisfied with Mary's actions then the disciples response. What satisfied God's glory the most in that moment was His Son[...]



Everyone want to be free, but...

2014-01-26T13:03:42.098-05:00

"Everyone wants to be free from their Egypt. But few want to be delivered from their wilderness."

Those Israelities were ready to get away from those Eygptian taskmasters. No one likes being a slave. So much so, they didn't even think or care about what was on the other side of that sea. They would be free!

Fast forward a bit and there they are wandering in the desert; content with life (except when it doesn't go the way they want). God is ready to fulfill his promise and complete their journey of freedom. Except.... well.... wait, maybe we misinterpreted....

"Everyone wanted to give up making bricks, but who wanted to give up free food and water in the wilderness?"
 


They left Egypt without a care other than getting out. They crossed a sea! God provided again and again. Now... they had doubts about crossing a river, about what was on the other side, and how they might have to provide for themselves.

And here we are, with wisdom and understanding (so we think) looking back and wondering how those ungrateful, clueless Israelities didn't get it. How could they not trust? Yet, we too often flee our Egypt and then make permanent camp in the wilderness.

"The problem is that you left what you openly hated and despised when you went out of Egypt, but now you must leave what you secretly love, what you secretly crave, in order to enter the Promised Land... We all want to be free from drugs, but who wants to be free from gossip or lying or lust or envy? We all want to have our lives changed, but not so far as to give up anger or bitterness or revenge."

Maybe you are like me and read that and deny it... for a minute before it sinks in that you too have been stuck in the wilderness. The beauty of grace is that I can pack up my tent and cross the river right now. It doesn't matter how long I've been in the wilderness, hanging on to the things I thought were comfortable.

"Everyone wants to be free from their Egypt. But few want to be delivered from their wilderness."

I want to be one of the few.



The excerpts from this post were taken from the book Romancing the Divine by Don Nori. Reading this book feels like looking into the eyes of God and really seeing His love. Check it out here.



Trip of a Lifetime

2013-12-27T13:40:37.250-05:00

I've gone on several mission trips now, but the one I am planning next just may be the one I am looking foward to and will remember the most.

Two years ago, my cousin Kevin told me that he was interested in going to Africa with me the next time I went. As he is graduating from high school this spring, what better gift than making that dream come true.

I asked him what his dream of going to Africa looked like so I could plan the best trip. He told me he wanted to see animals on safari, but he also wanted to do something to help as well. Then he said we should go somewhere I haven't been before so we can experience it together. He has one of the sweetest hearts I know.

I began the search for places to go and organizations to volunteer at. Ironically, it was in Romania that I was recommended what sounded like the perfect senario for Kevin and I.

So this May, we will be headed to South Africa for two weeks. Partnering with Ten Thousand Homes, we will likely help with construction projects, serve food, and love on lots of children. The cost of the trip will be around $6000 for both of us. I believe God will provide exactly what is needed, but the first $3000 raised will go towards Kevin's half of the trip.

If you would like to be a part of this trip of a lifetime for Kevin and I, and encourage Kevin's faith before we even leave American soil here's the info.

Mail a check (email me at canarygyrl@gmail.com for the address)

OR

Make an online donation here:
frameborder="0" height="377" src="https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=115643" width="260">




Cultivating Hearts of Hope

2013-11-21T22:24:31.760-05:00

I wanted to save the best for last, but I didn’t realize it would take me almost a month to get it written. Just like everything else about this trip. GOD KNEW. He knew I would need some hindsight perspective to really appreciate my time in Romania. In the village of Caramidari, Outstreched Hands has an amazing place called the Hope Center. This area is the most impoverished of the areas OH is working in. The children are often not cared for properly at home. The cycle of poverty and lack of education continues generation to generation.  I was fortunate to spend several of my days helping out here. The Hope Center provides kindergarten classes, a homework club, and weekly children ministry to the local children in addition to many other services for the families. In reality, they do so much more than can be outwardly measured. They instill dreams into hearts. They provide a foundation of encouragement and being believed in to stand tall on. It truly is a center where hope is cultivated. On my first day in Romania, I was brought to the Hope Center. The kindergarten classes were in session and while I wanted to peek in and check them out, I was afraid of being a distraction. Instead, I was given a tour and learned that the Hope Center is constructed out of 45-foot shipping containers! I spent most of the rest of the day in the kitchen, trying to help where I could but also I admit hiding a bit as I didn’t quite know what to do. Around noon the older kids trickled in as the younger kids were being picked up. Lunch was served – fettuccini noodles with feta cheese. Occasionally, one of the kids would say something or ask me something (I couldn’t tell which). I used my best facial expressions and hand signals to communicate that I didn’t understand. One sweet girl came to the window and said something. I turned to get Amber and she said the girl likely wanted a hug. So I came out of the kitchen and she gave me a huge hug! She was my welcoming angel I think. As I mentioned, I wasn’t quite sure what I should be doing so I was a bit hesitant to interact with the kids that first day. So I mostly observed, catching glances every now and then and offering smiles, especially to those little boys with long eyelashes. Melt my heart! Bringing out the camera also helps initiate interaction. Some of the kids were a little aggressive and unwilling to except no for an answer, so the camera was put away fairly quickly but the ice was broken. By the end of the day a few of the kids had already grabbed onto pieces of my heart.  The next time I visited the Hope Center, I was far less jet-lagged and ready to dive in. This time I would be sitting in on Carmen’s kindergarten class. The kids were like any other kids, guessing at answers, wanting the teachers approval, and full of so much energy. The lesson was all about autumn fruits. In some ways I felt like I was in the class too… learning Romanian words for fruits. (Grape sounds a lot like strudel, but with a g instead of a d.) I even got to do the craft project and have it hung on the wall with the rest!  In the afternoon, the older kids come in from school for homework club. They have lunch and a little time to play before settling down to get their work done. For Halloween the announcement was made that homework didn’t have to be worked on. After a half hour of play several of the kids asked if they could do homework! Two of the girls were very behind in their 2nd grade class. I was asked to help them practice their letters and basic reading by match[...]



Evicting Insecurity (weekend in Chisilet, Romania)

2013-11-14T22:36:36.891-05:00

I had the unique opportunity to stay with a gracious family overnight in Chisilet. More than any other experience I've had in my travels, this exposed my insecurities. Yet, it became a treasured time on the trip as well. I want to say it was organic, but that sounds like it reduces it to less than it was. It was fellowship with new friends. Friends who don't "work for" a ministry, they just live lives of ministry.My first visit to Chisilet was the day before my sleepover to help work on the church building. It was a beautiful day, sunny in the mid-70's. We ate pizza on the way out and then worked hard till dusk. The following night, Saturday would typically be the church service, but due to a conference the service was moved to Sunday night. So Saturday night on their way home, the Constanin's picked me up to take me to their house for the night. (Amber was already out there as she had gone earlier in the day.) On the way, Nicu asked me if I would be interested in speaking to the middle school kids in the morning. I had already been asked to do a bible lesson for the children's program. I said I would think about it. I wanted to make sure I had something to say. Insecurity rising. I had determined to try and say yes to anything I was asked to do and not miss out on an opportunity. On my own, I didn't quite know how to fit in as a temporary piece, wondering if I really had anything to offer. It felt like my brain stopped working. Over and over again, sometimes by the hour, I had to talk myself into trusting God had a plan and would use me somehow. During the evening and morning, I had many hours on my own to remind me of how short I was falling from my own expectations of myself and what I percieved as the expectations of the others. In the morning, we went to the market for breakfast and lunch supplies. Everyone bustled about getting things done. I wasn't sure what to do. I sat, I wandered a little, and I wrote. For breakfast we had chicken - fresh chicken - cooked on the grill out back. With the meat we had corn meal, roasted tomatos with garlic, bread and a sausage that is traditional to romania called misi (meech). I had let Nicu know the night before that I would talk to the middle schoolers. What I felt led to share would only take about 5-10 minutes and then I would scoot out. The children and youth program are all held in the front room of the Constinin's house. After I was introduced I spoke to them about my own search for love and feelings of unworthiness. I shared about the oil being poured on Jesus feet and his unconditional love toward her. I told them about Peter messing up and then God showing him that love makes room for our failures. More than that, love is about caring for others and when we give love we recieve love. It was a tough crowd. After I left I felt like I hadn't done a very good job. Several hours later during dinner, Nicu told me that what I shared was good and went right along with what he was talking to the kids about. Again, God knew. When would I stop doubting?As the time for children's program drew near, we split up into groups and went to pick up the children from their homes. Many of the children we went to get didn't want to come, they wanted to go into the fields with their parents.  Depsite our low numbers, back at the house there were 47 gathered to learn about God.   I had chosen to tell them the story of Samuel as a boy. I believe that children often can hear from God much easier than we adults can. I want these k[...]



Daily Life & Miscellaneous Moments

2013-11-21T12:54:32.978-05:00

  Even though I spent time in a couple villages over the week, I stayed in Carmen & Amber’s apartment with them in Calarasi (pronounced like cal-a-Rosh). The outside of the building and area may look a bit run down but the apartment was quite nice. The buildings surrounded a courtyard park where people sat on benches and the children ran around playing. Carmen teaches one of the kindergarten classes at the Hope Center and tutors as well. She is Romanian, but speaks English as well. I learned quite a bit about her journey to working with OH and passion for teaching. She was a wealth of information for me as I asked questions about the ministry and the country. She graciously listened to me when I was tired and rambling on about nothing in particular. There was a simplicity and confidence about her that made me feel like I belonged there, even though we were strangers. Amber was my coordinator-translator-driver for the week. On our way to Calarasi from the airport, I rambled on and on as she asked questions and I added whatever else popped into my head (I’m blaming it on being tired). Might not have been the best first impression. From what I got to know about Amber through the week is that she is sold out to Jesus. God had designed her for the role she was in and as she matures, He’ll continue to do more through her. This 21 year old is special, but there is a part of her she keeps protected. I’m praying that it will (insert the American ‘actually’ here, right Amber?) become a source of strength to continue climbing even higher. Being there on my own didn’t give me anyone else to hide behind. While it was freeing on one hand it also brought out a lot of my insecurities. I had no control over anything, except my words and actions. Looking back, I think I talked too much and did too little, but perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on myself. Some moments I felt at ease as if I had always been there. Other times I still felt invisible and as if I were just another stranger passing through. I’m still processing and getting glimpses of God’s purpose from the experience.    Onto a few randomly memorable moments...Why Is Traffic Stopped?For the elephants to cross the road, of course! We were stopped and traffic and trying to figure out why when we saw them. The circus was in town and 2 elephants were being led into the fairgrounds. Who knew I didn’t need to go to Africa to see elephants. I only needed to go to Romania!Knock KnockOne my biggest challenges in Romania, sadly was opening and closing doors. I had my own set of keys to the apartment I was staying at. The first time I had to use them, I could not get the door unlocked. There were 2 locks on the door. When we’d left earlier the top lock was turned twice. So I turned the lock twice, but it was still locked. I tried again. I tried the bottom lock. I felt stupid – surely opening a door couldn’t be this hard. I was just about to call Amber and ask her the secret when she showed up and came to my rescue. I still felt stupid. Later I was clued into the secret but never had the chance to redeem myself.My second door issue was in Chisilet (pronounces Kee-si-let). I could not get the front door of the house I was staying at to stay closed. I tried pulling and pushing while turning the handle. I tried doing it softly and being more aggressive. Finally, the last time I walked out of the house I whined in frustration, “I can’t ever get this door to stay sh[...]



Everything is Hunky Dory

2013-11-08T15:45:08.389-05:00

One of the villages where OH is active in reaching out is Roseti (pronounced something like rose-ette-z). My second night in Romania I attended the teen girls meeting with Amber. Like any youth meeting, we showed up with the junk food and the girls showed up with all the energy. There were about 15 girls  - a range of ages, personalities, and experiences. I was still adjusting - to the time difference, the language barrier and the ministry. Mostly, I hung back and took it all in, depsite not having any clue what was being said. Some things need no translation. As a fitting book end, my last night in Romania took me back to the girls meeting. At the start, there was clearly something going on but I was completely out of the loop. Girls were talking over top of others and Amber was trying to get things settled down. Initally, I had planned on playing a song at the meeting for the girls, but my cold was getting worse and my voice was like a croaking frog. Instead, Amber offerred to let me speak to them. Admittedly, I felt inadequate and unsure of what I could talk about at first. God knew. Then I knew... talk about choices. We all make choices constantly, but how are we deciding? What factors do we use? Most of the time it's our own pleasure and comfort in that moment. There are many choices I've made in the past that are affecting me in the present. That is what I hoped to share with the girls.I'm less comfortable talking than writing. Processing the thoughts in my heart and having them come out my mouth coherently doesn't always go smoothly. Add to that having someone translate, it was a little disjointed but I trust the Spirit impressed upon their hearts as He intended. On the way home, Amber shared with me that the topic of choices was very appropriate. The something that was going on at the beginning of the meeting had to do with words spoken carelessly and inappropriatly. After I finished speaking, Amber was able to tie it back to what had happened. God knew. *********************************************************************************On Saturday morning, 30 kids descended on the building in Roseti. Even Spanky from the Little Rascals came. In addition to the 5 staff members and I there was another couple, Dave and Deb, from the US helping out. The lesson for this week was the story of Ruth and Naomi and I was responsible for the craft. The program started with worship. These kids love to sing! Then Deb got up to sing a song with the kids. First her and Elisei taught the kids the chorus in English."Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory..." Then Deb sang the verses and the kids came in on the chorus. On the last verse she belted out, "That is the end, the end of my story, story. Everything is hunky dory, dory." When she said hunky dory, she said it with an Elvis-like growl. The kids all laughed. So she did the verse again and the kids came in and growled their own HUNKY DORY. It was so funny. The kids weren't done. They wanted to sing the song again in Romanian. Did I mention that these kids love to sing!    Then Sorin shared the story of Ruth and Naomi and how good relationships help us in life. We followed this with the craft. The kids were given a piece of paper with a tree drawn on it and 3 pieces of construction paper to trace their hand. The hands were glued to the tree as the leaves and the names of close friends or family were written on each one to remind us that re[...]



Why Romania?

2013-11-07T12:33:21.619-05:00

I was asked the question over and over again. Even now, I still don't have a very tangible answer. God knew. Here's how I ended up taking a trip to a country I've never been to, by myself, to work and live with people I didn't know, without knowing what I would actually be doing.Romania is a country I have wanted to visit and experience. Perhaps because of the women's gymnastic team that dominated while I was growing up or the orphan situation, the country has been a fascination. Although I knew very little about it in reality. When the idea came to travel to Europe, the first and only place I looked was Romania. God opened the door to work with Outstretched Hands for Romania. This ministry is at work to serve the people in impoverished villages of southern Romania. The country's primary religion is Greek Orthodox and a new and different church isn't always warmly welcomed. Yet, God has opened doors in over half a dozen villages for church services and children's programs that are changing lives. I will be highlighting those I was able to experience in the coming days. After discovering Outstretched Hands, I sent an email to the director and after a few exchanges I had an open invitation to come and serve. I still wasn't convinced if I should go. I put the idea on the back burner and went on a summer vacation in the states. Yet, the idea was still tugging at my heart. Something in me wanted to get away and prove I could do this completely on my own. I had a decision to make quickly. The question I kept asking myself was "If I don't take this opportunity will I regret it once it's gone?" I've let fear of the unknown keep me from too many things in my life. I had the time, finances, and place to serve. Yes! I would go. Yet for some reason I still hesitated to book my airfare. One morning I got up and decided to get the ticket before I left for work. Then I got in my car and realized I had forgotten my cell phone in the car the night before. I had a voice message from my mom... something was wrong. For the next several hours and days the trip seemed to be up in the air. God knew. He knew that if I had gotten that message before the plane ticket, I might have missed out and my mom was safely in His hands. As the trip approached, I was filled with an expectation that God was planning something for me in Romania. Compared to my previous trips, this required so little planning it felt strange. All I had to do was pack a bag and get on the plane. It was a gift in the sense that life here continued to be stressful, frustrating and disappointing. God knew. Getting away came at just the right time.I was able to collect a suitcase full of items for Outstretched Hands from some very generous people. I think getting everything to fit into that one suitcase was the most stressful part of the trip planning.  I made it to Romania without any hassle (so thankful!) still with the sense that God was up to something. It wasn't any great moment, or miracle, or revelation. Surprisingly, it was moments of being uncomfortable, disappointed with myself, and emotionally detached that reflected where I've grown and the places that still have a long way to go. Why Romania?Maybe to make her smile...or to be loved on as I loved... I may not know why I chose Romania. But God knew.[...]



A Lesson from a Mosquito

2013-08-18T11:51:32.505-04:00

It's been a rough year.

Returning home from my vacation marked the anniversary mark of a huge loss in my life. I was ready to start anew and hope with anticipation as to what God has in store for the future. Instead, the last few weeks have been jammed packed with punches to the gut. In the big scheme of things, they really aren't important things at all... no one has gotten sick or died, but emotionally there is grief over the death of hopes and dreams.

Today I was walking in Kenginston, continuing a conversation I've been having with God about my purpose. Honestly, some days it just doesn't feel like I have one. Times I get caught up in looking at the vast emptiness around me and wonder why. Why can't I have this? Why did I make that choice? Why does so-and-so get to have that? Why does it still have to hurt?

I was on a mission and my thoughts were just a running dialogue in the back of my head. I started noticing things... like the red cardinal who landed on a branch right in front of me and then came closer and closer until it was almost right next to me. I just stood there and watched him until he flew away. I noticed a white fuzzy caterpillar crawling on a leaf. And God reminded me... he created me with the same beauty and purpose as he created them.

Seriously, I don't know why these things pop into my brain, but my next thought was I wonder if mosquitoes suffer from low self-esteem? What if they know they aren't liked? Perhaps they feel they have no identity and only exist if they drink in someone? Or are simply trying to get some attention? Then I shake my head at myself for these silly thoughts. Of course mosquitoes don't think about these things! God every so gently whispers, "then neither should you".

And my conversation ends without any answers except to keep walking, keep trusting Him because He created me, He loves me and has purpose for me. I just have to be willing to take the time to notice the little things.