Monday, December 24, 2012

On Christmas Eve

Ponder these words today from "Jesus Calling", a devotional by Sarah Young:

"As you celebrate the wonder of My birth in Bethlehem, celebrate also your rebirth into eternal life. This everlasting gift was the sole purpose of My entering your sin-stained world. Receive My gift with awe and humility. Take time to explore the vast dimensions of My love. Allow thankfulness to flow freely from your heart in response to My glorious gift. Let My peace rule in your heart, and be thankful."
Wishing a blessed, peaceful, thank-filled Christmas to you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Mayans, You got the date wrong, but there will be an apocolypse

Well, it's in the evening of December 21, 2012--the day many thought the world was doomed to end. And I'm still here. Not that I ever doubted it. I believe the Bible when in Mark 13:32 it says, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."

Folks all over the world have been talking about it, and making TV specials about it. (This is a blog I saw about it today.) I'm not jumping into the hype. I just want to say this:

We know the end is coming someday. And if it occurs in this lifetime...

Do you know where you will be after it happens?
"For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:12-13
If you aren't completely sure if you will go to heaven when the end does finally come, go here for a great resource to get you thinking.

Book Review: Living Life in the Zone

I have been with BookSneeze for a while, doing book reviews in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book. I just realized that I never posted the review for the last book I requested, which I actually got for my husband.

It's called "Living Life in the Zone." I had requested many books through this program, and one day my husband commented on the fact that I never got one for him. So, my next opportunity, I found this one. He is a HUGE sports fan, so I thought this would be perfect for him. It's a sports-themed devotional for men.

This 40-day devotional includes inspirational stories and devotionals from coaches and athletes Tony Dungy, Allan Houston, Kurt Warner, and John Wooden.

I asked my husband many times over a few weeks how it was, and he'd just say, "It's good." After badgering him for what seems an eternity, I give up. I wish I could give a glowing review with lots of examples, but I can't say what I don't know. So, in the words of my husband, "It's good."

Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookSneeze®.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cost of Comfort

Comfort. It’s a cozy word that makes me think of cuddly blankets and fuzzy socks. Warmth, happiness.

Many people have a misconception that being a Christian means being comfortable. They think that Christians are always happy, and live on Easy Street. But really, being a Christian pretty much guarantees the opposite.

When I am truly living for Christ, I am uncomfortable watching television shows and movies that the rest of the world adores. I am uncomfortable telling certain jokes, or even hearing them. Being in the presence of gossips makes me squirm. So does knowing about the willful sins of others, who have no desire to stop.

Whoever said that “Christian” was synonymous with “comfort?” They were wrong.

I like comfort. So do you. It feels good, and right. I can come home at night, and rest my weary self by plopping on the couch, surfing, or watching TV, or something else mindless. But that makes me uncomfortable.


Because I know that I could be using that time to do other, better things. I could be writing a letter to the child I sponsor in Mexico. I could be composing a blog post or magazine article, touting the mission organization I saw at work in Kenya with my own eyes. I could be making a toy for a sick kid, or a blanket for a needy family. I could be serving dinner at the soup kitchen, or volunteering at the homeless shelter downtown.

But that isn’t comfortable, because that isn’t what everyone else is doing. They’re all watching prime time TV, updating their Facebook status or tweeting what they just ate for dinner.

That’s the problem.

We’ve become a society that seeks comfort above all else, at any cost. And believe me, there is a cost. Look around. Over half of the kids at my children’s elementary school qualify for free or reduced lunch because poverty is prevalent in our county. Tween and teenage girls in Africa are selling their bodies just to survive, because there are no jobs, and no families to support them because they’ve all died of AIDS. People in poverty-stricken areas are dying of infections that are easily cured here at home.

The cost of our society staying in its comfort zone means that children will go to bed hungry tonight. That a veteran will wander the streets, looking for somewhere he can sleep. That a teenager in desperate need of a role model will instead turn to drugs or a gang to feel accepted.

All the while, we’re clicking “like” on a ridiculous photo of a cat or texting our BFF the latest dirt on the new girl at work.

No, being a Christian isn’t comfortable. But sometimes being uncomfortable is the best place to be.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Greater Blog Hop--Week 3: Remembering Daddy

This is a slightly modified repost from a few years ago. My little daddy passed on yesterday, going on to the heavenly mansion that's waiting for him. I think all the shooting stars I saw last night were fireworks from daddy's heavenly homecoming!

This doesn't fit one of the selected topics for this week's Greater Blog Hop, but as I posted last week, my daddy left one heck of a legacy. The kind of legacy that challenges me to be greater. Daddy let the Lord work through him every day--there was no question that people could see Jesus in him.

I can only hope that when my time on earth is over, people can say the same about me. If I can do half the good my daddy did, I will have lived a full life--a greater life.

Join me today as I honor my daddy.

Those of you who know me may be a bit confused by the title of this post, because my dad is still here.

Well, mostly.

Part of the reason for the huge funk I have been in recently is that dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease a few months ago.  It is very hard news for a daddy's girl to take.

I find that often, I grieve his loss already, even though he is still here.  I grieve the fact that I never know from day to day if I can have a decent conversation with him.  I grieve the things he's always done - the things that make Daddy who he is - that he can't do anymore.

But today, I choose to remember daddy like I've always known him, before the disease starting chipping away at him.

I remember the daddy who called me "Doodle" and "Pistol" when I was a little girl, and the way he introduced me to other people as "The Boss."

I remember the daddy who replaced one recliner after another because I squeezed in beside him in them so often that I worked the arms loose.

I remember the daddy who walked to Ingle's every night for a cup of coffee, and let me get a creme horn from the bakery.

I remember the daddy who took me to McDonald's for an ice cream cone, and waited while I played on the playground.

I remember the daddy who worked rotating shifts at the mill, and I never heard him complain.

I remember the daddy who always made fried potatoes and fireplace cornbread when he had to cook dinner.

I remember the daddy that couldn't stand to see anyone cry.

I remember that daddy that bought whatever food and toys he could find at the only store open on Christmas morning (gas station), and took it to a destitute single mother before he came home and celebrated Christmas with his own family.

I remember the daddy that stopped smoking when I asked him to.

I remember the daddy that started fires with gasoline.

I remember the daddy who always had his shaving brush and a bottle of Old Spice on top of his medicine cabinet.

I remember the daddy that got me my first car from a junkyard :-)

I remember the way my daddy whistled when he was coming in from the garage for dinner.

I remember the daddy who constantly cut wood and gave it away (with delivery!) for free to anyone who needed it.

I remember the daddy who helped liberate my Barbie's from their plastic ties when ever I got a new one, which was often because I was spoiled rotten.  (just ask my sister)

I remember the daddy who doesn't like to pray out loud, but occasionally will and, when he does, it is the same every time.

I remember the daddy who scared my boyfriends.

I remember the daddy that many of my girlfriends wished was their dad.

I remember the daddy who told me that Randy Travis singing sounded like pig squealing.

I remember the daddy that adores his grandchildren.

I remember the daddy that means "Do you need money?" when he asks, "Do you need anything?"

I remember the daddy that made us listen to a Marty Robbins eight-track nonstop while we drove around the country for three weeks on vacation.

I have been blessed with an amazing earthly father, and I am thankful that my Heavenly Father put him in my life.  I could go on for days with the wonderful memories I have of him.  I've shared a few here, but the rest of my memories I'll tuck quietly in my heart to remember on the days I miss him most.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Greater Blog Hop: Week 2

This week, we have read through Chapter 4 in the book "Greater" by Pastor Steven Furtick. One of our topics this week is this:

Is this thing on? Elisha had it easy. He knew God had called him to leave the dull behind when the great prophet Elijah showed up at his plow. What about you? Share a time when God spoke clearly into your life. Big or small, how did you discern His calling in your life?
One of my most recent experiences with God speaking into my life came about 15 months ago, during the annual missions celebration at my church. During one of the services of this series, a video played of teenage prostitutes in Kenya, selling their bodies just to survive. These were children--one of the girls who had been rescued was 14. She had stopped being a prostitute by the age of 14. Can you imagine?

As the video kept playing, I saw faces of these sweet girls, learning to sew. An African pastor has made it his mission to try to save as many of these girls from this lifestyle as he can, by showing them the love of Christ, and teaching them new life skills so they never have to return to that way of life.

I had never been on a mission trip in my life, or even traveled outside of the country. My closest thing to a missions experience was serving at the soup kitchen. But just as clearly as if He had spoken right to my face from the next seat over, God told me to go to Kenya.

That in itself isn't amazing. God calls people every day to missions, to serve, to preach...but me? Never even close. I like comfort. I like indoor plumbing, and staying clean, and sticking with my normal life.

The amazing part was that I didn't doubt, didn't question, didn't waver. As I sat there in my seat with God telling me to go, I simply said, "OK." And I did.

If only it were always that simple. If whenever I sensed direction from God, I just said, "OK." But I don't always. Actually, I usually don't. And as a result, I'm in a place where I need a book like "Greater" and a Bible study like this one to give me a wake-up call and be different this time.

Coming back from that trip, as evidenced on this blog, just wrecked me. I know that I am called to greater things as a result, but I just don't know what those greater things are yet. And then came Chapter Four...

I am facing one of the most difficult times in my life, as hospice has just told us that my 84 year old father likely has only a few weeks to live. As I think about his life and his legacy, it makes it even more apparent that I need to be greater. My dad has the ultimate testimony, as an alcoholic that was saved in his forties and never looked back. The second part of his life was spent redeeming the mistakes he made in the first part, by doing good whenever he had the chance.

But it isn't just about doing the right thing, or trying to gain the approval of man, or out of guilt or shame. My dad's life was changed because of Jesus. And he lived every day as an example to others of what that redeeming grace can do. Dad's motivation was simple--he was doing his best to live a godly life because God had given him a second chance. The Lord blessed both daddy and countless others through him. All because of Jesus.

And that brings me to another calling of God. When I first picked up this book, I thought it sounded interesting, maybe to get me motivated. But the more I read, I know that God is calling me again--to be greater.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Greater Blog Hop

Well, hey there! If you're here for the first time today, then welcome to my dusty little corner of Blogland.

This blog didn't use to be dusty. In fact, once I was posting here almost daily.

Then my quest to be Greater, hopefully leading to Greatness all on my own, spun out of control and this little blog just...stopped.

I felt sure that God had called me to do Greater things, and at first, I was all in. I used my lunch breaks and any snippet of time trying to do what I thought I should. Somewhere along the way, though, it became more about Me and my "greatness" than it did about God and sharing His.

In the middle of a writer's conference, when everyone was being encouraged and getting fired up to do great things, God told me that I was in His way, and that just couldn't be.

That's when the words dried up.

I have struggled ever since, desperately wanting God to use me, to show me how to stay out of the way and make everything about Him. But for years now, he's just been quiet about it.

Until recently.

If you look at some of my most recent posts, you'll see that I was in the process of reflecting on a mission trip to Kenya I took this past May. The re-entry from that trip has been it's own struggle. But, here it is in a nutshell: I don't know why God sent me to Africa, but He did.

The call to go was as clear as it could be. My little heart cried, "Yes! This is it! This is what I can do for you, Lord!" I just knew this trip would change me, my life--that it would be a turning point.

In my impatience, I was frustrated when I came back home and things didn't feel all that different. This was supposed to be life-changing, right? That's what all the others who had gone before me said.

Life-changing. Greater.

And once again, I found myself in a place where I wanted to be used by God, but just wasn't sure how. He had not revealed that to me yet, and my mind was trying to conjure up what God maybe wanted from me.

There I was, getting in the way again, satisfying my own will instead of waiting for the Lord to reveal His. Thankfully, I have actually learned a thing or two in the last few years and, when I recognized the selfish "make me happy!" thoughts creeping in, I stepped back. I started seeking the Lord, begging that His will be done, and not mine.

I think God might finally be starting to give me glimpses of the road ahead, and which way I should go. But after all those desperate prayers of "Use me, Lord!", I find myself terrified that He will, and that once again I will get in His way.

 I'm tired of feeling good enough, or even not good enough. I don't want Greatness. With Jesus as my Guide, I just want to be Greater.

Join me? I'm participating in an online Bible study of Steven Furtick's book Greater, and you can too: right here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ruined and Wrecked

So, it's 8:45 pm, and I'm making granola.

I totally failed at the whole 31 Days of Reflection thing. I have been constantly reflecting on Kenya. Just not here on the blog.

I find it hard to pray. I have ever since we landed in Nairobi. I wish I could explain why, but I can't.

I've been reading books like "Wrecked" and "Greater" and blog posts like this one. They bring tears to my eyes--because I'm happy someone else gets where I am. Because it makes me sad that I haven't done more since I returned. Because I'm frustrated that I can't get myself together enough to do something.

And while these books and posts are awesome, I should be seeking my guidance from The Author and Perfecter of my faith. But all I can muster is a little "Lord, show me what to do now" prayer every morning. And that's about all I can get out.

My African pastor and his wife just returned to Kenya today. They have been here in the States, visiting our church for Missions celebrations and trying to round up some other churches to join in ministry with them. It was good to see them, but it has also wrecked me, even more than I was before.

I asked about the sewing ministry, where they are training girls to sew, giving them a chance at life that doesn't involve selling their bodies, just to feed their families.

I met those girls. They sat next to me while they nervously twirled paper beads. The girls that I sang with, clapped with, worshipped with, prayed for. The girls I carried fabric on my back through fields in the mountains of Kijabe for. The girls that walk for miles to get to class, when they can.

They walk for miles to learn how to use a broken-down sewing machine, while I have one in my home and a spare collecting dust in my basement.

Wilfred tells me that the five sewing machines they have working are falling apart. That if the girls can't find some success selling what they have made, they will have no choice but to go back to the lives of fourteen-year-old prostitutes they're trying to leave behind.

And my brain can't wrap around why these girls are on the verge of collapse, and I'm making granola.

I saw them. I want to do something. I just don't know what that something should be. And right now, God isn't letting me in on His plans.

But, I got wise council from Bob Schindler of Mission ONE this weekend. Basically, he said that I should think of this time as walking around in the dark with a flashlight, and all I can see in front of me is what the flashlight illuminates. He explained that, in his early days of ministry, if God had shown him then where he would end up today, he would have been terrified and ran in the other direction.

Good point.

So, I will choose to be thankful to have just enough light for today, and trust that God will turn on the spotlight ahead when it's time. He didn't wreck me for no reason. :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of Reflection: Day 4

Sunday morning. Time to venture to the first of our three ministry locations: Kijabe, Kenya. Here, we would be visiting the property our home church had helped Wilfred purchase near his home to use for neighborhood ministry.  (Wilfred was our leader, driver, translator, spritual advisor, prayer warrior, and entertainer.) Today we'd be visiting a church, and seeing the property. We will also be spending time with some of the local children.

We had two cars, and decided to split up between them--no need to pack into just one. Wilfred suggested that the three of us girls went with him, as would Carl, and the boys could ride with Joseph. Later he would tell us that God told him to take the women because we might be scared! I love him! So funny.

Anyway, God made the right call, but not because we were scared. Let me explain.

From the time we left Naivasha, Joseph and the boys got swarmed by merchants, pulled over, and stuck in the mud. Really stuck.

Like "shouldn't have worn my Chaco's today" stuck.

Will! Get out of the van!

The calvary!

Or not. Didn't want to get dirty for church.

At least we were stuck in a pretty spot.

Us ladies stayed off to the side, taking pictures and admiring the countryside. All those strapping young men on our team: football players, martial arts gurus, Army men--they could handle it!

We were stuck for over an hour. Once we finally got out of that mess, we had to climb up the mountain to reach the village. We thought we were safe until we saw these roads:

The local children were sometimes paid to fill the ruts with rocks to make the roads more passable.

This was the good road three months ago--before rainy season.

Massive rains during their wet season had washed everything out. I had never seen roads this bad in my entire life. Wilfred's driving (and Joseph's too) was amazing on this terrain. That Land Cruiser would go anywhere!

At least we had views like this on the way up, even if we were being tossed around like rocks in a dryer:

Reflection of the Day: American boys don't know SQUAT about four-wheelin'. They'd never get out of the African mud!

(Please check out The Nester and the others 31 Dayers here.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Reflection--Day 3

Wow, this is hard just starting to think about it again. I was there in the same general time frame as The Nester. After her trip, she wrote a blog post titled "I Went to Tanzania, Don't Ask Me About it M'Kay?"

It was almost like she was in my head. I'm still not sure what I would say about my trip now, if anyone asked. I'm hoping these 31 Days of posts will help with that. Continuing on...

Turns out, the ragged shanty we passed was not our hotel (thankfully!) but was close. We drove down the gravel road to a gate, complete with a lion statue by the entrance "that Jordan thought was real). We were ushered in by hotel staff to a little room, where we were welcomed with some tasty juice and a smiling hostess. After so many hours on the plane/airport subway/van, we just wanted to crash. But, the hotel had kept dinner warm for us, and had kept the staff over to serve us.

How could we refuse?
First meal in Africa

The food was OK, but we were humbled by the thoughtfulness of the staff. We were led to our rooms, and the porters carried our bags. I have to say, these were some of the skinniest people I had ever seen but they were hauling those 50-plus-pound bags!

My room was away from everyone else's, which didn't make the team leader happy, but we just went with it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by my room. We had been "warned" that our hotel, while best of the best for Kenyan standards, would be like a bad Super 8 at home. It had an actual toilet (yay!) and a mosquito net over the bed, so I was good to go.

By then, I was exhausted, a little overwhelmed, and missing my family. Sad, right? I hadn't even seen Africa in the daylight yet and I was already emotional! I set my iPod alarm and cried for a minute until I passed out.

My alarm got snoozed several times (like 2 hours worth!) the next morning until I had no choice but to get up. This was our only preparation day, and breakfast would probably already be over. I walked to the door to my balcony and pulled back the curtains. Remember how I thought we were in the middle of nowhere the night before? Here was my view in the daylight:

Good morning from Lake Naivasha!
I can't express how relieved and blessed and happily overwhelmed I was. Although after still only a few hours of sleep, I was ready to get going. I was here for a mission trip, and by golly, it was time to get started!

I went to the dining room, got a thick cup of coffee and, since none of my fellow sojourners were there yet, I went back to my room for a shower.

I was excited that my shower was normal--apparently connected to a hot water heater and so hot it could have blistered me! I was NOT so excited about not having a shower curtain, ledge for the soap, or a curtain over the window. That was in the shower. At eye level. Looking right into the hallway.

A made a curtain out of a towel, and made out OK. "I can do this!"

We finally all trudged out of bed, had our first African breakfast, and started getting the supplies organized by the destination. Some for the orphanage, some for the sewing ministry, some for the Maasai people. With 8 of us working, we were done fairly quickly, so we got our first treat--a flat-boat ride on Lake Naivasha.

To get there, we crammed ALL of us into one vehicle--and away we went. Wilfred explained that we were driving through an area known to be frequented by criminals. The street was covered by school girls, donkeys and goats. We could see gazelles and zebras in the distance.

Wilfred turned down this VERY bumpy road to find the boats, and this was our first up-close-and-personal view of African big game:

We piled into 2 boats and spent the afternoon riding past giraffes, pelicans, hippos, tilapia fishermen, and many kinds of birds. Then we all posed Survivor-style in front of a herd of wildebeests. Did I mention there was no fence separating the herd from the rest of us??

Our Team

I'm ready for my Survivor close-up!

Tilapia fishermen-wearing Speedos and using nets.

So, our first real day in Africa was an exciting one. But was I ready for the next one, when the real work started?

Reflection of the day: Sometimes even the easy things are hard.

(Please check out The Nester and the others 31 Dayers here.)

31 Days of Reflection-Day 2

OK, so I'm already a day behind and it's only Day 2. I couldn't help it--I worked overtime yesterday and ran out of hours! But I did think about my post. Today, I'll do double duty to catch up--'cause I'm legalistic that way :-)

But before I continue, please know that this is just a true accounting of how I felt at the time, and even now. Please don't judge--you just don't know how you will feel or react when you're in a strange land halfway around the world until you've done it. I would still go back in a heartbeat.

So, back to Nairobi...

I was very cautious in Nairobi. I stood out  quite easily, (so pale I'm practically albino), and was totally paranoid about losing my passport. Traveling abroad for the first time is a big deal--even at my age. I did a head count of our group like every few minutes.

Hope, one of our team members, had to visit the toilet and rushed back out of the bathroom saying, "I can't go in there!" Turns out the toilet in her stall was a hole in the floor. She wasn't ready for that--not while we were still in civilization, at the airport. I chuckled to myself thinking, "This is going to be a long trip for her if she's freaked out by that already!"  (Bad, judgmental me.)

It took some time to get rolling, as we had to clear customs, exchange our dollars for shillings, gather our 16 enormous bags, stuff them into 2 smallish vehicles, and stop for bottled water before we could even start towards our hotel.

Nairobi smelled very industrial--like diesel. I know that because I stood in the airport parking lot, at midnight, being stared at by the Kenyans that drove past while we waited for our gear to be packed up. That made me very nervous. I just wanted to get in the van!

It also smelled like diesel as we walked past security guards to go to Nakumatt for water. Security guards stationed in the parking lot of the Kenya Wal-Mart? Really?

That also made me nervous.

My naivete was hopefully not obvious to anyone but me. It surprised me to see people who looked just like me, dressed in nice, clean clothes, shopping for chips and soda. I guess somewhere deep down I thought everyone in Africa would look like they lived in a hut.


Once we finally got on the road, we still had an hour-plus drive to get to the hotel. By the time we arrived, we had been traveling for 29 hours. Everything is backwards in Kenya--the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and they drive on the other side of the road. It felt like we were going the wrong way whenever Joseph, our driver, would turn. I was always waiting for us to get into an accident! We passed big trucks, lumbering along those dirt roads so late at night. It was very dark, with only an occasional light shining now and then.

When I did spot a light, it was usually a lone light bulb, and the area it illuminated almost always looked like a  run-down shack or storage unit. It seemed very odd to pass people walking, or huddled in groups. It was like 1 am--what were they doing out on the side of the road so late?

As remote as it felt, it was a soothing ride once I stopped watching the traffic. It felt like the area was very quiet and, believe me, I am a big fan of quiet.

Finally, we were near the hotel. Joseph told us we were close, so I paid more attention to my surroundings. We passed a small building that said "hotel" out front, and I thought, "You've got to be kidding!" My heart dropped at the sight of it. I knew this would be a difficult trip, but was that really where we were staying? It looked like it should be condemned, and I was certain we were in the middle of nowhere.

All I could think as we drove by was, "What have I gotten myself into?"

(Please check out The Nester and the others 31 Dayers here.)

Reflection for the day: First impressions can be deceiving.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Reflection

This is a last minute decision here, and, like the title of my blog, it is subject to change. So last minute, in fact, that I have no buttons, or linkies to The Nester's 31 Dayers, or anything fun like that. I hope to get to that in a day or two. But...

I really haven't put on paper (or electronic screen, as it were) my thoughts from the mission trip I took to Kenya this past May. I have wrestled with emotions quite a bit since then, and really haven't made much headway. Perhaps just getting some of it down will help with the processing, and hopefully will be useful to someone out there in Blogland who might read it.

I am totally flying by the seat of my pants here.

So, my theme for October is going to be "31 Days of Reflection."  Here goes...

I didn't take any photos until we actually got to Kenya. Nothing at the airports or on the planes. I'd planned on taking them by the hundreds. I usually had to sit with a stranger, and never got a window seat. I actually had one once, and then gave it up. Not sure why I did that!

I had never traveled out of the States before, or gone on a mission trip, and I was "alone"--none of my family or friends were with me. To say I was nervous is a HUGE understatement!

The anxiousness about everything had subsided a bit by the time we finally reached Nairobi after 20+ hours of travel, but hit me full force when we landed. The heat of  Kenyatta smacked you like a wave as soon as you set foot inside the airport. It was busy, and noisy--even at that late hour. I was surprised, and even a bit unsettled.

I had never felt like a minority in my life until that moment...

Reflection for today: Every journey has a first step.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Craft Buds Craft Book Project--Miss Storybook

Yes, I know it's been a while. But, I have been kicking around the idea of re-blogging for a while, and the Craft Buds Craft Book Project looked like a perfect opportunity to blow the dust off around here!

(In case you are new here or don't remember, I like to make things. Lots of crafts, lots of things.)

This is Miss Storybook, and I made her this spring using the pattern from "Wee Wonderfuls" by Hillary Lang. This book has 24 doll patterns in it, and they are all fabulous. My only "personalization" of this project was that my fabric wasn't the same. Otherwise, I played by the rules to make sure she turned out right. :-)

Miss Storybook was given to Lexie, the daughter of a coworker, who has apparently fallen in love and is simply wearing her out. Miss S's apron is lost, and her Red Riding Hood cape is torn, but that didn't stop her from making a field trip to school as little Lexie's show and tell. I can't express how hearing that from her mama just warmed my little crafter's heart!

I couldn't be more thrilled. I love making things for others, and I want them to be loved. Baby quilts? Toys? Play on 'em, puke on 'em, then wash, rinse, and repeat. Nothing would make me happier than to see a little one toting around something I made for them.

So, that is part of why Miss Storybook is one of my absolute faves--I know she is being loved. That, and because she is pretty stinkin' awesome. Just look at her!! ( I am totally diggin' her hair!)

So, what have you made from a craft book this year??

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Updates from Kenya

This is where I'm going, and these projects are what I get to be a part of! I am so excited. Less than a month to go!!!
Kenya Update from Biltmore Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekend Wisdom

It happens to the best of us. With each passing day, our hearts get clouded with any number of things: envy over a coworker's cushy new account, bitterness from an argument with your spouse, feeling like a failure after a struggle with your child--the list is endless.

It's just like windows. They do their job, day after day, letting the light in and keeping the elements out. And every day, they get just a little dirtier: grease from the kitchen, funk from that steamy bathroom, cobwebs, pollen...

It takes a while, but eventually all that filth builds up until it's visible on the windows, and you have no choice but the clean it off. It's obscuring your view.

Same with us.  All those daily struggles, all those feelings that we just don't want to process--they build up, until they've changed our attitude, our thoughts, our actions, into this dirty mess that really needs to be cleaned up.

Take a minute and think: do you have some grime in your heart that you just need to get rid of? Someone you need to forgive? An attitude you need to change? Think about what it would take to remove that issue from your life, and then do it.

You won't believe how you ever saw through that grimy window once it's clean again, and when it is, you'll have a fresh perspective to see the world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One month from now

It's mid-April.

It's mid-April.

That means that one month from now, I will be in Kenya.

I will be in Kenya!

It's kind of hard to believe. When the thought of signing on for a mission trip charged into my consciousness last fall, I was ready to go right then. But I couldn't--it wasn't time.

So I went to the informational meetings. I filled out the application and turned in a deposit. I started telling everyone I knew, "I'm going to Kenya!"

As each day drew closer to May--the date of the trip--it seemed a little more real.

I followed Facebook posts from another team, traveling the same ground I soon will tread. I sent out fundraiser requests. I got my shots, and my passport.

I'm going to Kenya.

Now that the time is so close, it seems almost unreal. All these months of doing what I could to prepare, when there really wasn't much that could be done. A phone call here, a little paperwork there--no big deal. It seemed like spring of 2012 would never come.

But now, I've started buying travel-sized toiletries. Testing out powdered drink packets to see what I like. Guessing what size luggage I'll need. Realizing that I need to go shopping for some suitable clothing, then forgetting to actually go. Stuffing random items in my backpack, preparing for this adventure.

One month from now, many of the unknowns that I've tossed around will be known. I'll know which airports we pass through, where I'll be sleeping, what my days will look like.

But one thing will still be unknown--what this trip will do to me. Will it crush my heart? Make me want to adopt half of the children I meet? Will I come face-to-face with my own selfishness, and be broken forever? Will this be a trip to remember because it was so unique, or because it rocked me to my core?

One month from now, I won't know just yet. But I will be closer.

To follow my journey, keep up with me at the following places:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to...

I read this post over at chatting to the sky (love her!) and when I saw her photo of books, stacked several high, I thought, "That looks like my nightstand!" I left a tiny comment saying just that, and went on with my day.

I am addicted to books.

Then, today at work I took one of my magazines to peruse during break--one of the four magazines I'd lifted from our salon (I'm not a thief--we own it!) earlier this week. I started on it at breakfast, and brought it back at lunch.

Midday, I spotted a different magazine with a rendering of a modern-day Jesus on the cover, so I flipped through it instead of mine. Not finding anything that grabbed my attention, I pushed it aside and noticed yet another magazine on the table.  The cover of this one said "The Hyperaddictive, Time-Sucking, Relationship-Busting, Mind-Crushing Power and Allure of Silly Digital Games."

Again, I thought, "Hey! That's me!" (I am a little bit addicted to Facebook games.)

I read a bit of that lengthy article, but frankly those hyperaddictive, time-sucking games have also left me with the attention span of a gnat. I was bored, though mildly intrigued. I stuck the magazine in my bag to finish later (along with the others I already had) and went back to work.

Did I mention that I am also apparently addicted to magazines?

Then I started thinking-- could I be a word addict?

Stack of knee-high books by the bed? Grabbing every magazine in sight, like I owned it? On the internet constantly?

Yes, yes, and yes.

After a moment, I decided instead that I am an information addict. I will pick up almost anything--junk mail, sales flyers, and of course books and magazines.

Oh, and don't forget blogs. I won't even tell you how may unread posts taunt me from Google Reader.

I do have an addictive personality. I am one of the silly digital-games addicts, a coffee addict, a sugar addict, an email and internet addict ...I admit it. Guilty as charged.

What about you? What hyperaddictive tendencies do you have?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Subject to Change

Hi there. Remember me? I used to blog here. It's been a while, but I think I'm ready to dip my toes back in the blogging waters, see if I should ease on in or just jump and get it over with.  So...

If you followed my posts before, you'll know that my blog name isn't the same up there in the title. Seems I have a commitment issue with blog names, but I think I finally found one that fits (even if the URL is already  taken--drat!)  Anyway, I started with "A Quest for Relevance," and at some point switched to "Pens and Needles." (Were there any others? I can't remember--maybe.)  Then I started entirely over on a new blog called "The Daily Do-Over," and now I'm back here, with a new name: Subject to Change.

Seems appropriate now, right?

"Subject to change" is certainly a theme for me these days. Here you have a girl who used to say, "God, please don't make me a missionary in Africa," who is now barely a month away from spending two weeks in Kenya on a medical mission trip.

Here is a girl who survives on tomato soup, chips, coffee and chocolate, yet just finished a 5K training plan and goes running -- on purpose.

Here is a girl who hasn't written anything longer than a status update in...well, a long time...who is thinking about NaNoWriMo and platform building.

Here is a girl whose perspective is changing in many ways, about work, home, life in general, and now, blogging. But, as always, that is Subject to Change...

(Just a pretty shot of something else that's subject to change--the gorgeous bleeding hearts in my back yard, that will be gone before you know it.)


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