Friday, December 26, 2008

He giggles!

Words aren't really necessary. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas at Crosspointe

It was incredible, and I am exhausted.  It's hard work playing the role of donkey, sheep, goat, cow, camel, cat, horse and duck 5 times!  Preparation for this challenging role started back in Elementary School when I was granted the opportunity to be the Grinch's dog in the school play "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Christmas eve was awesome!  From the opening song with the string quartet, to the kid's "segment" to Heather's performance of Faith Hill's "A baby changes everything" to the videos on life change and the kids Christmas thoughts.  I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced.  The Baby, changed everything. 

The guys put a lot of work into the videos for our Christmas Celebration.  One of them can be found here.  And yes it is worth watching.

The gifts...

So I am totallly falling through on the 31 gifts!   I have a list at home, and had some ideas prepared, but have I done anything about it for the last 2 days?  Nope.  Because I was getting ready for Christmas at Crosspointe and my trip to Texas tomorrow.

And I have to be honest, most likely, new posts won't occur all to frequently over the next week.  I am going to spend the week with my brother, sister in law and nephew, and blogging would take away from the limited time I have with them.

We can resume gifts after the new year.  Or start a new series.  One that is shorter with less frequency....


Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Planner

Tonight I laughed and cried and was in awe...and it was only practice!  It is my first Christmas Eve at Crosspointe and I was mesmerized tonight.  It's going to be incredible, you don't want to miss it.

Just a reminder of Christmas Eve service times for the week:

Monday December 22 7 PM
Wednesday December 24 1, 3, 5, 7 PM

And for those who care, I fly out Christmas morning to Texas!  And of course, its the early flight...the 6am one.  I mean really, why wait until 11?  I have family to see!

Wisdom

I really don't need to add my own words to this post.  Read what the Bible says about Wisdom:

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.  Proverbs 21:30

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.  Proverbs 23:4

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.  Proverbs 24:3

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  Proverbs 24:14

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.  Proverbs 28:26

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief.  Ecclesiastes 1:18

I saw that wisdom is better than follow, just as light is better than darkness.  Ecclesiastes 2:13

Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this; that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.  Ecclesiastes 7:12

Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.  Ecclesiastes 7:19

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17


Weakness

I was much better at this two weeks ago when life wasn't all crazy.  The last several days have been jam-packed with serving at the rescue mission, staying with kids of friends, Christmas Eve prep, and prep for my trip to Texas on Christmas day.

And I must be honest, these gift posts are getting harder and harder. Not because of lack of gifts, but mostly be I am lacking creativity in these days that start at sunrise and end around now...midnight.

Today's gift is weakness.  Or actually that was yesterdays gift that never got posted or written!  I am often reminded of how weakness is a gift in that it helps to create a dependency upon others.  In my weakness I learn to ask for help, from friends, family, and God.  If I possessed all of the strength I needed for each day I most likely would not use any of the many blessings that come about in my weakness.  

In my weakness, I learn of the strengths of others.
In my weakness, I learn of the strength of God.
In my weakness, I get a glimpse of the community Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 11-13, one that is interdependent on each other and fully dependent upon the strength of God.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scripture...a gift.

It inspires
teaches
challenges
and moves.

It calms
excites
motivates
and leads.

It hopes
guides
directs
and reveals.

Creativity

I lack creativity.  I am really good at taking an original idea and tweaking, but when it comes to new and fresh ideas...I struggle, unlike the guys I work with.  They amaze me.  I must say that this week I have been further and further impressed by their creative minds.

But God, He is the creative one.  He is the one who started from scratch and spoke the heavens and earth into being.  He is the one who lit up the sky and put flowers in the fields.  I am thankful that He creates us in His image, and shares that creativity with us.

I hate to think about what this world would have been like without it.  

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Yet, it seems like we are all lacking peace.  I wrote about this gift last saturday, and it has plagued me all day today.  

In the last several weeks I have heard countless stories of families losing loved ones, others being abused, others causing the abuse, surgery, illness, accidents, violence, you name it, and my heart grieves and had started to become weighed down by these things.  All things that don't necessarily correlate with peace.  The ickyness of the world seems more and more icky these days.

I am reminded that I am so incredibly thankful for a God who is also known as the Prince of Peace, who is the source of that peace that surpasses all explanation and understanding.

We need Him.  We need the Peace He offers.

He does not fail.

I have no idea where wednesday went.  All I can say is I failed to post a gift.

So it seems appropriate to mention the fact that He does not fail.  That in itself is a gift beyond measure.

He doesn't make mistakes.
Nor accidents,
nor misgivings.

He does not fail.  period.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Silence.

I can only imagine the number of heads nodding in agreement.  Especially those with kids.

But I am learning this lesson slowly.  I am learning of the benefits of not turning on my car radio,  leaving itunes shut down, not having the ipod headphones and not turning on the tv when I am home.

In those moments I discover the gift of silence.  The gift of having space to think through what is going on in my head, discern the ideas that are swirling, and consider the other parts of life that are so important.

I am hoping you can find the gift of silence during the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season.

The day you all have been waiting for...

So if you ever wanted to see me act like one of these...


You should make plans to attend one of the Christmas Eve services at Crosspointe Church.

Dates and Times:
December 22nd at 7pm
December 24th at 1, 3, 5 and 7pm.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Permanence.

Stability.  Durability.  Permanency.  Fixity.  Fixedness.  Changelessness. Immutability.  Immortality.  Indestructibility.  Endlessness.

The Creator.
The Forgiver.
The Healer.
The Redeemer.
The Provider.
The Counselor.
The Almighty.
The Majestic Ruler.
The One who dwells among his people.
The Father.
The Daddy.
The Lord most high.
The everlasting.
The Maker.
The Shepherd.

And so many more.

How awesome is it, that in this ever changing world, our God in all his characteristics and qualities is permanent.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  What an incredible gift it is to know that the God of the universe who forgave David, who freed the Israelites, who created the universe hasn't (and won't) change.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Discomfort

I very much prefer comfort to discomfort.

Comfort food to health food. (except most foods on my comfort food lists contain gluten which means that they really aren't comfortable in the long run...I digress.)

I would rather sit in a ray of warm sunshine than shiver on my couch.

I would rather sit in a room of people who are full of words of encouragement then in a room full of critics.

But I am learning that discomfort can actually be good.  It is a gift.

Discomfort motivates change.

For example the gluten.  If I had a choice to eat it and didn't experience discomfort I would continue to reek havoc on my small intestine which could lead to so many other worse diseases.

If I was only around encouragers, I wouldn't grow from the wisdom I receive from critics.

If I didn't experience discomfort when I walk through slums...I wouldn't be motivated to change the situation.

If we didn't experience discomfort, we would grow content with life the way it is, for us, and for many others who live in poverty, and nothing would happen.

Good comes from discomfort.  It's a gift.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The gift of peace.

Towards the end of middle school and into high school I started having pretty horrific dreams.  At first they were sporadic, but even when they were few and far between I would get pretty freaked out.

In college they became more frequent, and I became a psychology major and started to open up my mind to the idea that perhaps I was having these dreams for reasons other than just having a dream...

Well one night I had a particularly rough night.  I woke up about 20 minutes after falling asleep and was haunted.  So much so that getting out of bed was not an option, I was frozen, but falling back asleep was also not an option...so I did the only thing I knew to do...I pulled the bible off of the bedside table and read...and stumbled upon this gem that changed my life (and nights) forever:

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

When I read this I realized that my dreams that were quite rooted in fear. I realized that I was living each day fearful of what could have been or what could happen to me today.  I hid it so well that often-times I had myself convinced.  When I read this, I realized that I had also set up walls and protective measures to downplay the fear and also increase my safety.

But they weren't working.  I wasn't keeping myself safe.  And I was reminded that although there are the realistic measures to take (like locking my doors etc.) it is ultimately the Lord who keeps me safe.  I lie down and sleep in peace, because the Lord gives me peace.  I take courageous leaps around the world because the Lord gives me peace.  I searched abandoned buildings for homeless people in the middle of the night because the Lord gave me peace.   I sleep well at night, because the Lord makes me dwell in safety...he gives me peace.

In what ways have you been given the gift of peace?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The gift of rules to live by.

I am by default a rule follower.  This is helpful when the rest of the world wants to follow rules, but oh so very frustrating when they don't.  My brother and I laughed about this over Thanksgiving weekend.  If I know a rule exists about something, it VERY HARD for me to not follow through.  It is nearly impossible really.  

Which is why I never did anything wrong in my life.  HA!  Just checking to see if you are still reading.  You can ask my mother, she will tell you, I do plenty wrong, even in my default character of following rules.

Well many many many many years ago we were given the gift of some rules to live by.  Most of us can't recite them, nor do we live by them, and I will say that many of us in church today try to not get caught up in "all the rules" and in fact, some churches will talk about everything but the rules, so as to not appear "legalistic."

But I don't see the rules as bad.  In fact, I am of the opinion that if most of the world joyfully embraced life as God set it out to be, our world would be much different...and dare I say better?  Now, of course we would still need Christ on the Cross because none of us are perfect, but the rules are not to make life boring or numb, but instead to help us have life to the fullest.  In fact, so many of us get caught up in the rules themselves we fail to see the reason for them in Deuteronomy 6.  As Moses is sharing about the rules, he shares how God instructed him to tell the Israelites to keep them close to their hearts, to write them on the doorposts and as they remember where they were brought from (as if they could forget they just escaped after 400 years of slavery) and the Lord commanded "us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today."

Now re-read those rules.  Which has the possibility of bringing you the most harm or disappointment in life...trying to live by them...or trying to ignore them and live by your own?

The rules my friend, they too are a gift.  Just like mama's rule to not play with fire.  She didn't give us the rule to ruin our fun, she gave us the rule so that life would be longer and we would have more hopes for fun in our longer futures of not playing with fire.

And yes, you might have noticed, this is the second post of the day.  That's because I try to adhere to the rule about working six days and on the seventh resting from it.  This is Fridays gift, a day early. Enjoy.

The gift of Joy.

Today I ventured into the realm of Christmas shopping.  It did not at all appear joyful.  AT. ALL.

This is what I saw:
  • mom's annoyed with other mom's for blocking the aisle with their cart.
  • Clerks zoned out but no doubt counting down until closing time in their heads.
  • full parking lots.
  • empty facial expressions.
I read a few cards about Santa, Frosty, and Christmas Joy and Cheer.  But as I walked through I could only help but notice, that in 30 years of life, the Joy of Christmas didn't show up in a stocking, a gift from santa, or mom and dad.  Sure, there were moments of happiness, my parents were good gift givers...

But Joy.  Joy is so much more than a feeling of happiness.  Joy is something that is woven within us, that is inexplainable really, and is not as temporary and fleeting as happiness.  Joy cannot come from a gift, from wealth, from things.  I have discovered in my own life that joy is rooted in something far greater than material things.  Joy is hope for eternity discovered and lived out to the fullest.  Joy is forgiveness given and received.  Joy is love unhindered and indescribable.  Joy is an intangible gift from God that is to be treasured.

Joy is for the receiving, and it is freely given, but so many of us miss out on it because we are walking through store aisles on rainy thursday nights looking for that perfect gift.  Joy doesn't come wrapped in a pretty package, but rather it comes wrapped in a manger, from the heart of a Father to His children.




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The gift of mercy.

We have all been there.  We have earned ourselves a punishment that we fully deserved.  We stood in fear, waiting for the wrath of mom or dad, and sometimes waited and waited and waited.  While waiting we dreamed up all the possible terrible things they could do to us...and then came mercy.  Oftentimes, for a reason not explained to us, the punishment was withheld, or way less than we expected.  

I am not sure where to say the gift of mercy began.  Did it begin with creation?  Did it begin at the fall?  Did it begin when the angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a Savior?  Did it begin when Jesus was born or did it begin on the cross?

I am not really sure that it matters.  What is important, is that we recognize this gift, and give God an immeasurable thanks for the fact that because of the fall, we all deserve death.  We all have sinned, we have all fallen short, but we all have access to this gift of mercy (freedom from death) through Jesus.

We deserved condemnation.  Our condemnation was removed.  Mercy.  Unfathomable really.

Our Tree is Bare!

A week ago The Giving Tree in the lobby of Crosspointe Church was jam-packed with ornaments listing the wishes and needs of residents of the Durham Rescue Mission.  And now, if you take a closer look at our lovely tree, you will notice that it is nearly BARE!

After just one week of The Giving Tree, nearly 300 ornaments have been taken and the gifts are already coming in! Thanks Crosspointe Church for loving our neighbors at the Durham Rescue Mission this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Gift of grace.

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings...
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things.
~ U2 Lyrics to Grace


When I was a little girl, I was downright ugly, and I am not talking about the physical sense, but I was mean, mostly to my mom. I can remember yelling horrific things at her before I ran out of the room (because lets face it, she was bigger than me and she had the spoon!)

I had issues. I still do.

But that is where Grace steps in. U2 says it well in the song, Grace:

Grace finds goodness in everything...
Grace finds beauty in everything...
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things...
It's also a thought that, changed the world...

The concept of Grace is a difficult one to grasp. I often confuse it with another gift, mercy, but I once heard it described well. 

Grace is the giving of something I didn't deserve, mercy is the withholding of something I did deserve.

I did not deserve the Grace that has been given to me in my life. Many people, trust me, MANY have given me forgiveness when I didn't deserve it, they have given me second chances when I didn't deserve them, they loved me when really I deserved to be left alone. They gave me grace and often times more than once.

And God, man has He ever given me grace. So many times in my life I chose myself over him. So many times in my life I did what I knew was distinctly against what I knew He prefered for me..and every time, every time, I found grace.

Grace has changed my world. I am still learning how to give myself grace, but really, it is grace that ends fights. It is grace that calms fears, and settles stressful environments.

Grace, it makes beauty out of the ugliest things.

John 1:16-17
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gift of pain.

Several years ago I was wrestling with the question, "where is God in all the bad stuff?"
And "Why the pain God?"

And after many years of searching I hesitate to give the trite, simple, blow off the question answer: "He's right there."

But I did learn a thing about pain. It mostly started when I was picked up C.S. Lewis' book, The Problem with Pain. Which I should also admit that I never finished, I rarely finish a book, I get distracted by something else. Like I am right now. One of the points Lewis made in his book is that pain was necessary in order for us to experience joy.

In addition, one other thing I learned about pain, is not the answer to "where is God?" but the question that is answered is the question of "where am I?"

Pain, as much as I hate it, as much as I don't want it, always has this amazing way of bringing me right where I need to be...at His feet. I hate that the world is not perfect, I get frustrated with people using their freewill and causing others pain. I am often irritated by the choices people make that affect others.

But I love that where Pain is, so is He, and I can so easily access His comfort.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The gift of Freedom.

Psalm 119:45
I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts.

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, and a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Galatians 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.

Ephesians 3:12
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

My big brother is a pilot for the US Navy. I can't imagine what life would have been like without having an older brother, because really he is just plain awesome. After living overseas and going through the wonderful ordeals of the event I will probably forever refer to as "that accident," and after experiencing life in a country where you have to be on guard concerning your safety, we have had several conversations about "freedom." And about the blessing of the "freedom" we have as Americans. We really do have a pretty decent life here.

We also have a different kind of freedom extended to us. Because of the cross, we are extended an invitation to walk in freedom from all those little emotional prisons and such that we encounter in our life.

Freedom from guilt.
Freedom from our past.
Freedom from the lies that the enemy speaks to us.
Freedom to choose life in Christ.
Freedom to forgive and seek forgiveness.
Freedom to love and be loved.
Freedom to find healing for our broken hearts.
Freedom to be who God made us to be.
Freedom from grief.
Freedom from mourning.
Freedom from death.
Freedom to approach the throne of grace.

I don't take advantage of this gift nearly often enough. I often times forget the gift of this freedom that comes through the Spirit. I oftentimes sit in my guilt, or actually a better description would be that I beat myself up. But when Christ hung on that cross, He removed all guilt. He removed condemnation. He paid the price, and because He did, I can take hold of that sacrifice and remember the freedom I have been given.

Another area where I fail to remember the gift is when I battle the lies of the enemy. I know this might sound like some crazy talk, but I do believe in a spiritual realm, and I do believe in satan, and I do believe that he will do whatever he can to break us down. For me, he often shows up in poor view of self, poor belief's of who I am, and how I am influencial in the world around me. I often hear, "you are not good enough, you are not smart enough, you need to work out less and eat less crap (which is true to an extent...but he lays it on pretty thick,) you don't love well, you speak too harshly (again probably a small amount of truth there, but he loads me up with guilt on that one,) you should work harder, you should love better, you need to give more, and do more and man you really stink at being a follower of Christ. Sadly, this is often on repeat in my mind throughout the day.

I forget, that because of the cross, and because we have a God who is present and the freedom I have to approach him, that I can go to him for the truths that fight these statements. I can approach the loving Father who sent Christ on Christmas day to hear the truth about who I am, how I am doing on this journey, the truth about how I need to love better but not get consumed by the fact that I messed up last week. I can be free to make mistakes, accept the grace, and move on trying harder next time, and also relying on His Spirit to help as well.

The day Christ died, we were granted Freedom, as long as we choose to accept Him and the sacrifice that enables us to approach that lovely...i need to go there so much more frequently... throne of grace.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The gift of community.

We need each other.

Pretty simply put. We need each other. We need each other to stand up in trial, we need each other to mourn together, to celebrate together, to grow together and to learn together. God made us that way. And, since He is the all-knowing God of the universe, I assume it was all on purpose.

I assume it wasn't coincidence that God created Man and Woman. I assume it wasn't just for kicks that he said to, "be fruitful and multiply." I assume, that He had a plan all along, and part of that plan was for us to have community.

A community like that found in Acts chapters 1 and 2. Think about this group for a minute. In recent months they had seen Jesus crucified on a cross, then heard (and some saw) of his resurrection. They had given up everything when Jesus said to follow him, only to watch him die on a cross. I can imagine times were tough, I can imagine that there was some ridiculing from the pharisees or from those who didn't believe. Some people would walk away and quit.

But not the apostles. The stood together. They called together all of the believers, they prayed together, they ate together, they remembered scripture together. They were fortified and they stood firm as they remembered Jesus' last words and as they voted on a new apostle to join in the leadership.

Then comes pentecost and they gather together again. And strange things started to happen as they all encountered the Holy Spirit. And they were challenged again, and they were judged, but instead of falling apart (like many would) they stood together, again remembered who Jesus was, and pressed on.

It is SO hard to go against opposition alone, and so much easier to stand up to it when there is someone standing with you. I am thankful that God has given us the gift of community so that when we are fighting battles there is someone to go to. I am thankful that God has designed a way for us to be strengthened when we face opposition. I am thankful for the gift of community.

The gift of His presence.

Nearness is relative for a lot of people. Before moving to Tanzania the United States seemed huge and to have family on various parts of the country seemed daunting. They seemed so far away.

Fast forward two years and after living on the other side of the planet, enduring terrible phone connections and a 7 or 8 hour time difference, being in the same country seems so very near! Many people will ask where my family is, and when I respond, "mom is in Indiana, dad in Florida and my brother is in Texas they get a sad look on their face and comment on how spread out we are. I often reply, "We are thrilled to be in the same country." It's all about perspective.

Sometimes, God seems so very far away doesn't He? He seems distant, like we have to navigate time zones just to speak to Him or hear His voice. These times are very difficult for me, as I am still navigating this road of Christianity and there are days, where let's face it, I need a reminder that God is there.

And it's on those days that I am reminded of the following Scriptures. And I am reminded, that the Creator of the Universe has given us the amazing gift of His nearness. He could have been like other god's of other religions, un-involved or dictator-like, but when you read the bible you see that He is very much the opposite. He is very near to His people. He cares for us like a father cares for his children. He desires to be near to us and reminds us of it when we need reminding.

Psalm 145:17-19
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he ahs made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him' he hears their cry ands saves them.

Deuteronomy 4:7
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

I laughed so hard I cried.

I know that I didn't post a gift yesterday, but it was Friday and I take Fridays off.  I will post two today, don't worry, you didn't get shafted.

While you are waiting for me to put two other gifts up, watch this, and laugh until you cry.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cheppema Children's Home and Cheppema Hope Center

A few months ago I wrote a letter to the community of Crosspointe Church about a situation in Cheppema, Kenya.  Over the last several months we have been working closely with Special Ministries (our ministry partner) to help resolve a crisis that their neighbor the Cheppema Children's Home was facing.  Although the Cheppema Children's Home was not a direct ministry partner, we have been monitoring it closely as it is closely tied by location (they are neighbors) and by ministry (some of the kids from the home attend school at our Hope Center.)  Yes I know it is confusing.  The picture below might help you better understand how closely the ministry affected is, in proximity to our ministry partners the Cheppema Hope Center.  They are two ministries, that are next to each other, but have different leadership, staff and missionaries working with them.


It has been a few months since we have updated our church community concerning the situation at the Cheppema Children's Home.  But that does not demonstrate a lack of energy or effort put into trying to help remedy the situation. In September of this year a group of 17 people from Crosspointe church participated in an already scheduled mission trip to the Cheppema Hope Center our partners through Special Ministries.  You can read their stories, see their pictures and learn more about their experience at the Cheppema 2008 blog.  

 While we were in Kenya we were able to tour the home, talk with the director of the board of the Children's Home, as well as talk to Kenyans and American Workers who are daily involved in this situation.  

At this stage in the game, very little has changed.  Unfortunately due to greed, corruption, poor leadership and the Kenyan time clock, progress has been slow.  The Kenyan officials have been informed about the abuse, the abuser has left the home, he has not been arrested but an investigation was started into the accusations.  The individual accused of the abuse had verbally agreed to sell his home and land (the Children's Home ) to the board of directors, however he has not yet signed his name to a deed of transfer or sale for the property.  Those on the ground have been working diligently to try and make this happen, and those in the USA are trying to push things along if at all possible.  Our first and foremost desire in all of this is to make sure that the children in the home are safe, that they receive the care and help they need through this crisis, and afterwards.  In addition to the children in the home being safe, we also want to make sure that any children who might come to the Hope Center we partner with would also be safe.

Crosspointe has been an encourager for those fighting the battle, and has tried to be a motivator for a more rapid response.  We have prayed fervently for the government officials to respond appropriately, and have offered resources for the children and the purchase of the home.

As hard as it is, sometimes we have to do what seems most unnatural and most frustrating for us Americans...wait. This week we received news that the landowner has asked a new (and much higher price) for the land.  He has also made a few requests that honestly cannot be honored.  We have again offered to help with this process.  

As part of the community of Crosspointe, I beg of you to be praying fervently with us, that an appropriate resolution would not only be found, but would occur.  I beg of you to continue to pray for the boys and the girls in the Cheppema Children's Home, and I beg of you to pray for our ministry partners through Special Ministries as they try to help their neighbors.  Pray for us as leadership as we try to discern what steps we take and what role we play in the solution.

The gift of restoration.

Restore:  reestablish, repair, refurbish, revive, refresh, to reinstate, to bring back

1 Peter 9:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Isaiah 43:25
I , even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

I have a nativity set that I purchased while I was in Tanzania.  The first year I owned it one of the wise men lost his head.  Yes, I know, that just doesn't sound right, but he did.  He was knocked off the table and the tile floor was triumphant over the soap stone.  I did what my mother always did, found some super glue and put it back together.  I then moved the nativity to a place where little hands couldn't get at it, and it wouldn't be so vulnerable.  I did this, because I valued the nativity set (I have this desire to collect them from all over the world) and I didn't want further breaks.  I also knew, that since the wise man had already broken once, that it would be more vulnerable and could break again with ease.  I also must admit, for the point of this entry, that the once broken wise man found an inconspicuous spot in the back because my repair job was not so great and he looked a little funny.  I know.  Very. Shallow.

As I think about my life I can reflect on the many times that God has brought about restoration.  There were times when I was young and my heart was broken, but he heals.  There was broken trust, and then trust restored.  And then there is the big one, my broken relationship with him.  Because we have all sinned, we all need to be restored to Him, and he does this, but not in the same way that I restored the wise man.  In 1 Peter 5:10 it says:  restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  I would not necessarily use those words to describe my soapstone wise man, he is actually quite weak after my repair.  But God, the God of all grace, restores us to himself in this manner, he doesn't have some wimpy super glue, but he has the grace to forget our sins, and remember them no more, and in His restoration he makes us strong, firm and steadfast.  Instead of making a quick repair, he weaves himself within us, and instead of hiding us in an inconspicuous spot, He restores us to Him, for all to see.

I find myself thankful for restoration this morning.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The gift of emotions...A heart of flesh

I have never been really good at expressing my feelings... or my emotions until they become too much, or too overwhelming.  I have often associated expressing tears or emotions as an expression of weakness... which lead to SO many other problems in life.  

Until I read the following verses and realized it was not weakness, but how God created us:

Ezekiel 11:19
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; and I will remove from them their heart of stone and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

And just look at the writings of the man after God's heart:

Psalm 4:1
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 5:1-2
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.  Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

Psalm 9:1
I will praise you O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

And what about the example of Jesus.


I am learning more and more, that the God who so dearly loves us, gave us the gift of emotion.  Sometimes I don't like it all that much, but I am learning that even those icky emotions are something to be treasured.  It is such a gift to feel, and I am learning more about it each day as I refuse to become numb to the situations and experiences around me.  






Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Gift of Hope...

I can't imagine what life must have been like during the days of the Old Testament.  They were constantly searching and forever waiting for the day that Hope would be born.  They had been told a Messiah would come, and they waited...and waited...and waited...

About 200o years ago Hope was born, and we had a new life.

When life was trying, we knew that Hope was enduring with us.
When the world seems to be crashing, we know that Hope has a plan for redemption.
When we cry out, we know that Hope listens.
When we are alone, we can be reminded that Hope is present.

Here are some more reminders about the gifts that lie within the gift of Hope:

Job 11:17-18
Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become lie morning.  You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Psalm 25:3
No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

Psalm 31:23-24
Love the Lord all his saints!  The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 33:20
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

Jeremiah 29:11-12
For i know the plans I have for you, "declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.

Romans 5:2-5
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts given by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Timothy 4:9-10
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.





Monday, December 01, 2008

Memories and Traditions...

A year ago my brother and I had a dream.  We dreamt of our kids having traditions over the holidays, that there would be an expectation that things would be the same and that our kids would look forward to the family traditions.  We recognized that it has been hard to have this dream because we are often in different places with different people from year to year, so we shared this dream with our parents and families and started something new.

Thanksgiving is at my house.
Christmas is at his.
Everyone is invited and welcome to join in the fun.

Well our first annual Thanksgiving at Pam's was memorable to say the least.  We had an awesome gluten free meal, with some gluten on the side for those who can have it, and great company.  (pictures in previous post!).  My mom, brad and grandma came down from Indiana.  My cousin Tricia (who I haven't seen in countless years) and her little boy came from the DC area, and my brother and his family came in from Texas.  It was a houseful, but fun!  Even some friends from the area stopped by for dinner and brought a carrot cake that looked so good I was tempted to endure the consequences of eating gluten, however, my rational quickly took over when I realized days of consequences weren't worth the minutes of the cake on my palate.

We had hoped to make memories over the weekend however the weekend took a turn friday evening.  After a wonderful day we returned to my apartment and throughout the evening noticed that grandma wasn't being herself.  Her behavior was off, and she eventually complained of a headache.  Mom took her back to the hotel to rest and after a while my brother and I put the pieces together and called mom to take grandma to the ER.

This story is getting long.  The short version is my brother and I arrived at the ER and thought the grandma we knew would never be the same.  I remember looking at him in tears as she lay there talking gibberish and wondering if he was as scared as I was.  According to the doctors grandma had a stroke.

Eventually we came to our senses and realized that having all of us there in the middle of the night was not a good idea, so we went home, slept for a few hours and made plans to relieve mom in the morning.  Throughout Saturday grandma started gaining her memory, and gaining words, little by little.  Her MRI that day showed only an "old" stroke (which no one has record of occurring) and they said that whatever happened friday night was not a stroke.  confused?  yeah I was too.  They then determined she had an infection.

Saturday night they blamed the delirium, disorientation, loss of motor skills and language skills on a severe bladder infection.  We were confused, but grandma was improving by the hour so we didn't complain.

Sunday morning she had a different MRI, this time they told mom she had indeed had a stroke, it was just a "small one."

Grandma was released Sunday afternoon and we all sat in my living room with the most thankful of hearts.  This was the image we had expected all weekend.  My brother and his family, mom, brad, grandma and I all sitting around, laughing, talking, enjoying each other's company, filled with gratitude for what God had given us.

It wasn't how we anticipated our first annual Thanksgiving at Pam's, but the calendar is marked, and the menu is already being worked on for next year.  The second annual Thanksgiving at Pam's will take place on Thursday, November 26, 2009. You are welcome to join in the fun, and we promise to try and keep the visits to the ER to a minimum.

The Breath of Life

It is the time of year, when most of life revolves around a gift, so I thought I would take a different perspective on this blog. Instead of focusing on gifts I am giving, receiving or wanting, I thought we could spend the next 31 days reflecting on the gifts we have received.  

After this weekend, there is one gift that I am fully reminded of this evening.  The Breath of Life.  In a matter of moments this weekend our entire family was reminded of how fragile life is.  One moment we were laughing with grandma and the next we were standing over her bedin the emergency room wondering what the future would look like for her.  Thankfully grandma seems to have made a full recovery, but it reminded me of this gift we have been given...the breath of life.

The story of creation is told in the book of Genesis.  In chapter two the most amazing words are written:  from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

I am in awe of this passage, and I am made to sit in silence when I think about the fact, that God gave us all His breath of life and continues to do so each day.  I am so thankful for the Breath of life, and I don't want to consider what the world would be like without it.


So many words to describe our weekend...

But for now we will just let the pictures do the talking...












Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted Turkey stuffed with a quartered orange and seasoned with garlic and rosemary
Roasted Sesame Asparagus
Maple Glazed Carrots
Corn Muffins (except I made them yesterday and forgot to put them out. Oops!)
Sour cream and garlic mashed potatoes
Gravy
Gluten free pumpkin pie
Gluten free chocolate peanut butter pie
Fresh vegetables

The best part of the meal:  Family.

First Annual Thanksgiving at Aunt Pam's...

SUCCESS!

The family arrived at various times Wednesday night from Texas, Indiana and Maryland and the Thanksgiving holiday seems to be going off without a hitch.

Around 10am this morning as my brother and I are wondering where the rest of the family was, the phone rings and it is grandma.  She needs directions because mom is in bed sick, and just got back from the Emergency room.  Thankfully the folks at Rex Hospital treated her quite well during her middle of the night visit, although her children were upset that we were left in the dark!

Mom and Brad stayed at the hotel and rested a bit while the rest of us had a pancake breakfast (gluten free of course...they were good sports!)  Then the cooking began with the prepping of the turkey and making final plans for when to start the various parts of the rest of the meal.

With the turkey in the oven and nothing else to do we went for a short walk around the lake.  Grandma was a trooper and made it the entire way, and even up and down the hills at the end.  We estimate it to have been a two mile walk, both the little ones slept for part of it and we all had great conversations catching up...and made a few phone calls to check on mom.

Then dinner.  Wow we had a feast, with the typical traditional foods, and a few new healthier (and gluten free) alternatives!  I left the table in pain, but laughing.  Stephen and C.C. came with Darby and Henry and loads of good food (including a homemade carrot cake that looked AMAZING, however I didn't get to try it for obvious reasons!) and I can say my two bedroom apartment never felt so cozy!  We had such a good time laughing, sharing stories, and yes, eating.  And eating some more.

I LOVE that we all gathered here.  It was fun for me to do the cooking (and actually less stressful when it came to the eating part) and I LOVED looking around my apartment seeing my family here.  

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I hated gluten today.

The last few weeks have been a challenge.  Gluten free life is difficult, but I have made it easy by mainly cooking for myself.  I have also become accustomed to the food establishments in the area and I know what I can get at each.  Well, with all of my travels and special events, I was out of control of my diet for most of the last few weeks. 

Before the staff retreat the staff and their wives were awesome about trying to accomodate me so I could eat with them, and I was incredibly appreciative, but after multiple conversations several days in a row I just wanted to be normal and not needy.  I hated gluten.

I didn't know the places in Kokomo or Indianapolis that had an awareness and even though I was cautious, I still managed to get some gluten, and that wasn't the worst part.  The worst part was that at every restaurant and every meal I had to bring up my "issues" with the server.  Each time the server gave me a funny face.  Each time they tried to help me order, and each time I felt worse and worse because I HATE to be needy or require special attention.  I hated gluten, but I survived, and my insides are almost back to normal.

Today some of my co-workers were going out to lunch.  I was invited to join them at the chinese restaurant and because it has been so long since I touched base with them I joined in.  And then I remembered how difficult it was to eat at a chinese restaurant, and I knew that most of the time I can order steamed broccoli and steamed rice, but I really didn't want to pay for steamed broccoli or rice.  I hated gluten in that moment.  I wanted to spend time with my friends but I didn't want the hassle.  I chose the hassle.  I hated that yet again, my meals were not simple, and that yet again I had to explain to someone (who didn't speak fluent english) about my problems.  I hated gluten today.

I took my dining card, which has the description of Celiac's disease on it and presented it to the girl at the counter.  She read it, and said, "there is nothing here for you."  Including the steamed broccoli and rice because of cross-contamination.  I really hated gluten in that moment.

I wanted to cry.  Not because I was hungry.  Not because she wasn't friendly.  Not because my friends were gonna eat and I couldn't, but because I just wanted to be normal.  I just wanted to walk into a restaurant and order what I wanted off of the menu without having to be a hassle.  I hated gluten in that moment and sat at the table and participated in conversation.

After they ate a bit I walked down the strip mall to a place I know has gluten free food.  I was able to get something, but everything on the menu containing gluten seemed to be what I craved, and again I hated gluten because my choices were limited.  It also meant another explanation to another server with another strange look at my request.  I will say, that I did splurge and get the chocolate shake because quite frankly, I was needing it, and it was gluten free.

I hated gluten today, but I am starting to get over it.  As I look at my Thanksgiving menu I am excited about the new "gluten free" menu items like sesame asparagus, maple glazed carrots and yes, even a pumpkin pie that sits on my counter cooling as I type.  I hate gluten, but I am learning there are new foods out there that I can enjoy fully, and look forward to learning about them.

And then there were 13!

I have written in previous posts about my brother and I starting some new traditions this year.  Thanksgiving at my house, and Christmas at his.  I was so excited about having people come to me that I started planning the menu weeks ago...and I have to admit, the excitement was also accompanied by stress because I was going to be out of town the two weekends before Thanksgiving.

Anyhow, up until today, there were going to be 6 adults and 1 infant.  Very managable.  Last night I finished up the grocery shopping, the fridge has more food in it than it ever has, and tonight was reserved for prep (pie making, vegetable cutting etc.) and apt cleaning.

And I cannot stress enough how excited I was to host!

This afternoon brought more excitement.  I found out that my friends Stephen and C.C. had a change of plans, and I got so excited I told them that they just had to come over!  I was so excited when they agreed.  Add two adults and 2 kiddos.

A couple of hours later I am chopping carrots and I get a phone call.  It is my cousin Trish up in D.C.  Several weeks ago she didn't think she could make it, but tonight she was calling to say she could and wondered if she was still able!  Of course!  Add one adult and one toddler.

Some might stress, I got more excited.  The "family" Thanksgiving is taking shape, and in 48 hours hopefully there will be 9 stuffed adults and 4 kiddos laughing in my little 2 bedroom apartment!

It can't get much better than this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Desperate Times...

Call for desperate measures...

I typically don't use my blog for such purposes, but we are trying anything at this point.

Megan is getting married this weekend. The girls and I are trying to send her off properly. All things were set and in order until about 7am this morning when the phone rang.

Lisa's babysitter got sick. So, if any of you Indianapolis readers know me well enough and want to spend time with Lisa and Eric's incredibly sweet and adorable little girls, give me a call.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the road again...

I am getting things together to head to the airport...again.  Yep.  It seems to be a habit I can't break.

On the agenda:
6:30ish...arrive at Raleigh Durham Airport.  Start working on talk for Sunday morning.
Arrive in Indianapolis at 11:45PM tonight.
Sleep at a friends house.
Thursday morning hang out with Lisa and the girls.
Thursday lunch time have lunch with another friend.
Thursday afternoon spend time with mom and grandma.
Thursday night..Bachelorette Party.
Friday morning and day...sleep and do final touches on the talk for sunday.
Friday night, wedding rehearsal.  
Saturday morning, get all gussied up and have pictures taken with the wedding crew!
Saturday afternoon, stand by Megan as she enters the "married" realm!  
Saturday night drive to Kokomo (the cold one, not the warm one!)
Saturday night dinner and laughter with more friends.
Sunday morning share in services and sunday school classes at First Presbyterian Church in Kokomo!
Sunday mid-day.  Lunch and more time with friends.
Sunday afternoon drive back to Indianapolis.
Sunday 5:30PM arrive at the Indianapolis Airport.
Sunday 11:15 PM arrive at the Raleigh Durham Airport.

Stay tuned though, cause next week I am going to break my airport tradition, and go to the airport to pick someone up instead of fly out myself!  1 more week till the McKerring's (all three of them!) arrive at RDU!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Presence.

This year I am wanting something different out of Christmas.  I am wanting a revolution of sorts, but I am not sure it would go over well with friends and family.  

I have watched a few Advent Conspiracy videos over the last few years, and I like the concept, ALOT.

I like the idea of giving time to those I love instead of something they don't need.
I like the idea of not going into debt like so many others do in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
I like the idea of not receiving one store bought gift and instead being given something far more valuable...time with those I love.
I like the idea of giving to those who need.  Those on the streets.  Those in poverty in the USA, and those in squalor around the world.
I like the idea of not buying something that someone doesn't need, when I could instead give something to someone who has great need?
I like the idea of the possibility of this being a new family tradition.  What do you think Matt?



The final box.

So when I returned to the USA I had friends trying to coax me to live in various places across the country.  This was fun, I heard many good reasons, perhaps the best reason was the one given by my brother and his wife, that I was going to be an aunt and an aunt should be near her nephew.  I still agree with that reason, however, they move every 2-3 years thanks to the US Navy and I can't keep up with that, or at least I don't intend to!

In March the idea of coming to Crosspointe came up, and although it wasn't a factor in the decision making process, a friend said to me, "Pam, it is warm here year round, I hardly ever get to wear more than a jacket. It is so much warmer than the midwest."

Like I said, it wasn't a factor in my decision making process to serve at Crosspointe, I will however admit it was a factor in my choosing NOT to unpack a certain box that was in my bedroom.

Today, the box was opened, and as I stood there shivering and pulling out the wool sweater and grieving the fact that the weather man predicted flurries today, I thought of my friend, and smiled.

This marks the final box of the move, so I guess it is official, I have fully moved into my apartment.  All of the boxes are unpacked and most items have found their place.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Griswald knock your heart out!

Did you traditions growing up?  Do you have them now?

I don't remember mine, which is really sad if you think of it.  I know that on Christmas morning my brother and I were to show up with coffee in hand if we expected mom and dad to come downstairs so we could open presents.  I also remember making ornaments when we were little.  But I also remember my friends having traditions with their extended family and friends who might as well be family.

Well, two years being in another country while your family goes through the holidays does something to you.  It creates a space and desire in your heart to fight for family and fight for those traditions, even though as a teenager your parents fought hard and you resisted.  You find yourself having to ask forgiveness for not putting family first for the last several years and begging to find a way back to it.

My brother and I are trying to take steps now so that our kids (mind you there is only one little guy these days...and can I tell you...he is ADORABLE!)  grow up with traditions.  Yes we know there will be times that Connor and his siblings and cousins will be annoyed with "family Christmas'" and we know that there might be years where it just can't be done, and we know we will have to be flexible, but our desire is to create that family space where everyone knows that everyone is welcome, everyone is loved, and everyone participates.

Only, we are learning it is really hard to do this.  It is hard to come up with ideas and it is hard to implement new things.   I am realizing that some traditions just happen.  For example, for the last several years (I don't even remember when it began) my brother and I would lie under the tree, stare up through the lights and talk.  Some of the best conversations I have had with my brother were under the Christmas tree.  When I was in Tanzania he made sure to follow through and called me while he was under the tree.  Last Christmas I was in Florida and he called again.  This year, I will be wiped from the five services we will have at Crosspointe Church on Christmas Eve and in my stupor I will be packing a bag for my 6am flight to Texas on Christmas morning, but my guess, is that he will call then too.  Because Christmas just isn't the same without it.

So, as we start fresh, I am curious.  What are your family traditions?  What does your family do that is crazy and nutty on Thanksgiving?  What about Christmas?  Do you have a pickle ornament on your tree, or do you have fights over the wishbone on the turkey?  

What are your Griswald family traditions?

Friday, November 07, 2008

November...

Is bustling.

The next three weeks from Wednesday through the weekend I am either traveling or having visitors in my home.  It is going to be an incredible time, however I am already tired thinking about it.

Which is why today has officially been declared a PJ day.  But don't be confused, that doesn't mean I am sitting around doing nothing, in fact it is quite the opposite as  I feel the need to have everything done and ready to go for both trips and Thanksgiving before the end of the day tomorrow.






Monday, November 03, 2008

Pondering the adjustment

My mind has been contemplating quite a bit.  I still find myself in this weird place of adjustment. There seems to be many facets, and they catch me by surprise.  Warning: this post starts off a little whiney...but it ends well!

Physical:
First, it is the first time in 3 years since I experienced fall...which also happens to be my favorite season.  There has been a serious adjustment however, with the weather changing and with it getting dark so early and staying dark well into morning.  For two years of my life the sun was up by 6am which made it much easier for this non-morning person to get out of bed.  But the leaves...oh my!  They are not disappointing and we have such a creative God!  

I am also experiencing "cold season" for the first time as well...and it isn't being very nice to me.  About a week and a half ago I stopped everything as I was feeling the beginnings of an old familiar routine (a cold leading to a sinus infection.)  It worked.  Within a few days I felt awesome.  Fast forward to today...or last night.  At life group I started coughing a little, by morning my back and chest are sore, and I coughed/choked through some of the day.  It comes and goes and I wonder if my missing out on "the cold season" the last few years is going to mean I am doomed this year. I sure hope not.

Emotional:
There are highs and there are lows.  The last few months have been a series of lows.  I was warned this would happen, and I saw it creeping up on me, but I ignored it, mostly because I kept finding other things that needed to be worked on and, to be honest, it is hard to admit that I was wrestling with depression, I mean, I have SO much to be thankful for.  SO MUCH!  A few weeks ago I was humbly challenged by a friend of mine to recognize my heart.  I talked to my another friend and started counseling a week later.  It's time to work on my own heart and the hurts and joys of the two life-changing years in Tanzania, and the last 6 months of returning.  The hard part of putting this out there is that I don't quite know how to put it into words, and I don't want undue concern to be caused.  But I am human, I have a heart, I was created with emotions, and lately they seem to be overwhelming grief.  I don't doubt that I am where I am supposed to be, I love my new role and ministry, I am still just grieving some of the last 2 1/2 years (yes, I not only grieve the 2 years in Tanzania, but there are some moments of grieving from coming back.)  

Spiritual:
Moses and the Israelites wandered through the desert after the exodus from Egypt.  I feel as if I have been wandering through a desert.  But awesome and amazing things happen in the desert, and like the Israelites, I sometimes need to be reminded.  Lately I have been studying about the Exodus, and I love what I am reading.  God always had a plan.  God was always faithful providing all that the Israelites needed.  God fought for his people.  God encouraged them and reminded them of where He brought them from.  And while I am learning all of this I am reminded...that He has a plan, that He is faithful and meets my every need.  He fights for me, encourages me and reminds me regularly of other difficult life situations He has brought me through.   I am seeing new things in myself, and I am learning a ton and I will say, that walking in the desert causes me to place myself nearer and nearer to the Lord and trust in His leading. 

I have continually found comfort in the following words:

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14

The desert is a lonely and uncomfortable place, however, I am pretty sure that if I wasn't in this place, I wouldn't be looking for all those reminders, and I wouldn't see the many ways the Lord fights for me.  I just need to continue being still.  

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The little things...

I am taking a day off. It's been a while.  I hit the ground running when I got back from Kenya 2 weeks ago and it seems my body is starting to take action.  On Thursday I started to feel congested had a little cough etc.  So I took the warning and scaled back the calendar (because wouldn't you know I had a jam-packed weekend!)

Just so you know scaling back the calendar doesn't mean I am sitting on the couch all day.  I had bills to pay, laundry to do, a grocery list to make, budget to work on...

Around noon I realized I needed to use my printer, which is when I also realized I still needed to go to the apartment complex office to retrieve the new print head that canon sent me this week.

When I walk in the woman who is working is discussing an apartment with potential renters.  I notice in their accent that they are not from the USA.  She steps away for a minute and I humbly ask where they are from.  Where?  Kenya.  Yep.  Then I proceeded to welcome them to town in swahili and the woman employed by Management walks back over and is stunned.  We of course continue our chat in swahili about where I learned Swahili, how I was in Nairobi 2 weeks ago, and how I spent the last two years in Tanzania.  I smiled.  

I secretly hope they move in, because I would love to have chai (the real stuff mind you) on my porch and talk with her all day long in swahili...even if it is the Kenyan version.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

I was reminded.

The reader I use to keep track of the blogs I want to keep up with every now and then recommends a new one.  
Today I was reading Joey's blog...actively lurking mind you! She goes to Crosspointe and I have talked to her on 
a few occasions so I don't feel like a complete stalker...anyhow, I came upon this post she had written several months back, and I was reminded.

God Loves Me as Me. I needed that reminder.

Long time no run...

So today I finally woke up refreshed...no signs of jet lag, and with a possible turkey trot in my future I decided today was the day to start the regular jog again (that rarely seems regular because of my travels.)

Except, I can't find my gym card or my ipod holder....


Thursday, October 16, 2008

1/3 third of the world.

Lives in extreme poverty.  Not the poverty that means they don't have cable tv, but the kind of poverty that means they might get 1 meal today...

What is your role is finding a solution?

Grumpy-pants

My mom always said it wasn't nice to call people mean names.  But I am afraid I deserve the title this week.

It is part of the adjustment, but it isn't fair to everyone else.  I have been the Queen Grumpy-pants since sunday.

It is hard to explain, but I will try.  I have several questions swirling in my brain:
1.  Why did I have to leave Africa (both this time and a year ago?)
2.  Why do we so often think that Christianity is about us/me when it really isn't...or so I am coming to believe.
3.  How do I wrestle with the fact that I live in the wealthiest nation in the world, when much of the world lives in extreme poverty?
4.  How do I respond to the impoverished?
5.  What is my role in teaching people at Crosspointe and around the world of our responsibility to love others?
6.  How long Lord?  How long will it take for the great chasm between the rich and the poor will be but a small crack in the sidewalk?
7.  What now?

And I don't mean to be grumpy, but I take each of those questions very seriously so in fact, I am not angry or upset with anyone, instead I am deep in thought, asking the God of the universe for His plan, His ideas, His solutions... His answers to the questions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The hardest part

The hardest part for me of any overseas trip is coming home.  

It has little to do with jet lag and having to convince your body that it must yet again switch time zones.

It has little to do with that little bug that gives your belly a hard time in the first few weeks.

It has everything to do with the heart, and it usually takes me a few days to recognize how wrecked I am when I get back.

17 of us spent the last two weeks experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  We saw joy lived fully, we saw love extended, we saw poverty at its depths, and we saw how corruption impacts a country...a district...a village community...a ministry...a child...us.

And with these highs of highs and lows of lows, we have so many stories, so many faces, so many inside jokes, and so many hurts.  Most of which are hard to put into words.  We come back all geared up to share these stories, we think about them all week, we can't wait to tell people how awesome it was...and then it strikes us...we don't know HOW to tell them how awesome it was.

We are changed.  We can't tell you how.  All we can say is that poverty is no longer an abstract idea, but it has the name of Timothy, Geoffrey, Jennifer...and so many more.  We embraced kids who live in conditions unimaginable to us, we walked the streets filled with sewage and had to face our own fears when encountering Kibera.  

The hardest part of coming home, is trying to figure out how our changed selves fit into the life we left two weeks ago.  It is difficult for family to embrace the new us, it is difficult for us to embrace our warm showers and very comfortable beds when we know how people living in the 3rd world are lucky to have a blanket or a mattress.  We have a hard time when our kids whine because they want a different color of crocs, when in reality I saw kids with no shoes this past week.  We are changed, and the challenge now is to figure out how our changed self continues on in the world God has chosen us to live in.

The challenge is to not judge others.
The challenge is to not go back to our old selves.
The challenge is to figure out how God would use the new us to impact the sphere of influence He has placed us in, and how we can motivate change in the 3rd world.  That is the hardest part.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I'm still here!

Our internet situation in Cheppema was shady at best, and we ended up having to sign on through a cellular connection, which cost a fortune!  

So I am not blogging, but you can still read about the past week through the eyes of many of our teammates on the team blog at http://www.cheppema2008.org

I will be sure to write more about the week from my perspective after I return to the USA on Thursday!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

We made it!

Thanks for praying everyone!

We made it to London without a hitch, and everyone enjoyed final cups of Starbucks coffee and some of us even opted to purchase an "english breakfast."

We then boarded the plane bound for Nairobi and had the unfortunate circumstance of sitting on the tarmac for 2.5 hours, or so I am told, I slept through the whole thing.  It was the only sleep I had personally on the trip but it was a good sleep.  Thankfully even though we took off 2.5 hours late we managed to only be 1.5 hours late landing in Nairobi.  And, all but 1 bag made it.  After searching and searching we learned that it was somehow left in London, it should arrive tomorrow.

Most of our crew is at the guesthouse for the night, and three of us were lucky in that we get to bunk at Shane and Kara's house because the guesthouse ran out of (or gave away) a few of our rooms because we were late arriving.  We head out in about 5 hours to pick up the rest of the gang and head to Cheppema.

Not sure how much blogging will get done between now and when we get back.  I expect that the internet will be scarce if there is any.  Rest assured, we will keep you posted as much as we can.

Alright.  I'm off to get some sleep.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

What a difference a year makes!


A year ago I wrote this post about my day in the slums of Kibera with a mission team of Crosspointe Church who was serving in Cheppema and visiting Special Ministries.

I was mostly there because a good friend of mine was on that team, and we all know that when you live on the other side of the world you will do just about anything to see a good friend, and after having the car accident, the court appearances, the conviction and so much more, I was eager to take the 5 1/2 hour African bus-ride to meet up with them.  To put it lightly I needed the encouragement.

Little did I know when I met up with my old friend that he would become my boss, or that when I met this guy who has a similar heart for Africa that I would be boarding a plane with him and a group to Kenya, or that when I met this amazing woman that I would have the pleasure of learning from her incredible example on a daily basis and working at the most incredible church I have ever encountered.  Little did I know, when I met this small group of leaders from Crosspointe church, that I would become one of them.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

This time tomorrow...

We will be getting close to London Heathrow airport.

17 of us are boarding a plane tomorrow bound for London and then Nairobi, Kenya where we will crash for a night before we head to Cheppema where we will spend 10 days at the Cheppema Hope Center of Special Ministries. The team will keep a blog at their Team blog site.

And of course, I will keep you up to date here as well.

So come along, enjoy the ride, and get a glimpse of what a difference a small group of people can make in the lives of a group of kids in East Africa and what a difference they will also make in our lives.

And for those keeping track...this trip will add flights 47, 47, 49 and 50 to my list so far this year. Sheesh!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ghosts, Goblins, Jesus and Santa...

I went to Lowe's today.  I wanted to get casters to put on the legs of my desk.  I walked and was greeted by a ghost, then a phantom of the opera like blow up ornament, then a Christmas tree, a Nativity and of course a blow up Santa for your front yard....

Am I wrong, or does it feel incredibly out of place and early to have Christmas stuff hitting the stores already?

I mean really?  How many of you are buying a Christmas tree this weekend?  

On a different note, I went to bed with the furnace/ac off last night and the windows open.  I realized as I went to bed that I have not experienced autumn (my utmost favorite season of the year) since 2005!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the brisk mornings, the smell of the leaves and the crunching they make under my feet, the sunsets, the changing colors and the need to curl up with a blanket on the couch and cuddle up with a book...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

4 days

I had my phone line installed on monday.

I received my first phone call from a solicitor today.

4 days people.  That is pretty fast turn around.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tylenol PM

I had a killer headache that was keeping me awake last night.  At 1am I took tylenol PM.  

I am still feeling the effects.  I missed my run.  I missed my morning chill out time, and quite frankly I am beginning to wonder if my brain is missing too.

I hope it wears off soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What if God said...

"I have a plan.  It doesn't make sense, but I am going to do things you can't fathom.  I want you to go to someplace you have never been and after you get there, you and your people will be enslaved for hundreds of years, and people will be cruel, and hateful in ways that you could not imagine, and you will also experience famine, and hardship, but I will eventually punish those who enslave you, and your descendants will go away with great possessions."

Would you go?

Just wondering...

I had this thought most of yesterday and it continues today...

What if we elected a government based on the impact their decisions might be able to have around the rest of the world instead of merely just on how their decisions might impact us locally?



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10-3=7

It has been an AWESOME week. I have rested, exercised, enjoyed taking time out with my brother, sister in law and new nephew. It has been rejuvenating, and refreshing, and did I mention I read an entire book without falling asleep? I usually don't make it past the first three sentences before I start nodding off. I am halfway through book number two. YIKES!

There was a lot of fun and rest packed into the last 6 days, and there should have been a lot more packed into the next 4, but Ike decided to take a course that has set forth a plan of evacuation. Tomorrow afternoon I will board a plane bound for Raleigh, three days earlier than planned, and although I will have had 7 days with my brother and his family, it hardly seems like enough...

There is a lot to get done in the next 24 hours. My brother has to evacuate US Navy planes Thursday morning, Jennifer and Connor will head to a friends house further inland sometime Thursday as well. Tomorrow is not only my packing day (which really won't take long) but also preparation day for their house, and for their little family to scatter across the southwest and hunker down.

I am bummed. I have really enjoyed the last several days with Jennifer, Connor and Matt. I must admit, I feel a little robbed, but at the same time, there is probably some good in me having a day or two to re-engage when I get back.

See you soon Raleigh and Cary...see you soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm out.

The to do list is nearly complete, as complete as it can get.
My boarding passes are printed.
My bags still aren't packed.
Although I have no desire to board a plane, my excitement is building.



In about 8 hours I will take a ride to the airport and board a plane number 43 to see my brother, sister in law and new nephew.  I get to stay and hang out with my family for 10 days, and I am stoked.  I am stoked about cooking, cleaning, changing dirty diapers, reading, encouraging my bro and his wife, and just being useful to them.  I love that my brother and I get along so well and that the idea of 10 days with them isn't horrifying but exciting.  I truly am blessed.

I am stoked also as I am NOT taking my computer.  I think this is the first trip in at least 5 years that I did not carry a computer on the plane.  It feels weird, but it is necessary.  When I finish this blog post I will box it up, send it to Apple Inc. and they will do some necessary repairs and hopefully it will be waiting for me when I return.

I better get, there is still packing to do, and my ride is coming to get me at 4:30am tomorrow!  Yikes.  

Monday, September 01, 2008

Forty one and two

Indianapolis?

Yep, I am in Indy, for a few more hours.  Was this trip planned?  No.  

I got a call at 4 am on Saturday morning from one of my closest friends, her daughter was in the hospital and doctors were talking about drilling a hole in her head.  Quite miraculously I was on my way to the airport within an hour.  Miraculously in that I had the money in my account, miraculously in that the cost of the ticket was less than a usual ticket bought weeks in advance...

Sleep deprived I arrived in Indianapolis at 10:30 saturday morning, and my mom took me from the airport to the Hospital.  I then realized that Indianapolis is become less of home in that I couldn't remember where it was!  I used to pride myself on my savvy knowledge of the streets of Indianapolis.

Anyhow, later on in the afternoon I was driving Lisa's other daughter to the hospital to visit mama and her big sister, and Makenna saw an airplane.  In her cute 3 year old voice she said, "Miss Pam, I see an airplane.  Do you live on an airplane?"

If only she knew.  Flights forty one and two are added to my list today.  Forty three, four, five and six will be added in the next two weeks.  I will hit flight 50 on my way back from Kenya in October.  

I selfishly hope to not add 51 before Christmas.







Thursday, August 28, 2008

1 year ago today

I was charged with a crime and told that I would be made to stand trial in an African court.

I remember feeling lost, alone, terrified, and completely out of control.

I remember my dad calling me every day that week to check on me.

I remember the feelings I had when I was in a room with men with AK-47's.  

I hate that I remember it all so vividly, and I really don't want to.

I need to remember to make that counseling appointment I have been putting off.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Seeking your opinion...

I politely offered to cancel my internet service tonight.  They wouldn't hear it over the phone of course.  I mentioned the long list of frustrations, most of which being that my internet hasn't worked properly since I installed it 2 weeks ago, after 5+ hours of being on hold because they were experiencing a "high call volume."  Tonight the guy gave me a $5 credit, which was a nice, yet insufficient, gesture.  

I am finished.  I need recommendations of another provider.  I don't need phone service, or cable, just internet, and I don't want to spend a lot of money.

So my local Cary/Raleigh/Durham readers...comment below, and let me know who has good service in the area.