Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The papa, the mama, the son, the daughter....
We all know these lyrics, right?? Good ole' Fiddler on the Roof.
This song has been coming back to me the past couple of weeks as we've been celebrating Christmas. Now that I'm engaged, there's 2 families to celebrate with! And, you guessed it- twice as many traditions!
I love them all. My family always watches Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve, Spencer's family goes to the zoo that day, we both make cookies and gingerbread houses, and the list goes on. There's our gorgeous candlelight service at church (my favorite event of the whole season), and of course, there's all the crazy gift opening.
This season, though, I have felt stuck on what I believe Christmas should be. As we sat at our Christmas Eve service, I looked out over the congregation and saw all of the children from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and China who now have a family to celebrate christmas with thanks to the miracle of adoption. I looked at my friend's family who will be leaving on Friday to go pick up 3 children from the Philippines. NO longer will they spend Christmas in an orphanage. Praise be to God! I began to ponder the number of orphans, and was overwhelmed as I considered how many sanctuaries it would take to hold all the orphans in the world. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. Hundreds of sanctuaries packed with children. And yet we still go out and spend billions on our Christmas gifts?? My heart has been torn. Torn between tradition, culture, family, commercialism, and the call to enjoy what we have been given (which is a Biblical principle).
I loved the O family's post this morning entitled a "Grinchy Christmas." You should read it. I have trouble envisioning what I want Christmas to look like for our future family. Spencer and I both feel very strongly about not focusing on the presents, Santa Claus, and all that goes along with that. I loved how the O family turned gingerbread houses into a fundraiser for orphans, a nativity play into an outreach to the neighborhood, a business trip into a sweet father-daughter experience, Christmas gift certificates that will serve as parent-child date nights, serving lunch at a kitchen even with a 2-year old in tow. Those are the things that serve others, bond families together, and keep children's eyes focused on others and not on the presents underneath the tree.
Traditions?? Absolutely. But let's keep them Christ-centered and others-focused, that we may be serving and learning/teaching in the midst of celebration.
As a tiny babe entered the world, in such a lowly place.
Yet this babe who clutched his mother's breast would come to put the world at rest.
He has come to bring the orphans home, come that homeless no longer roam,
Come to bring health to the sick and feeble, come to bring hope to those who weep.
His little cries ring out in the night, echoes of a world that in sin is not right.
Cries he would sound again and again as he hung on a cross for the sins of all men.
But for now there is beauty in the blood on the mud.
For a girl became a mother, Joseph a faithful Father,
a baby so small and yet a King, whose cries through the night will forever ring.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I love you, Spencer, and I can't wait for June 2! :)
Thanks to Leigh Ann Smart for doing these gorgeous pictures!
Monday, September 5, 2011
We must keep fighting for them, praying for them, adopting them.
The Lord will not leave them as orphans, but we're a huge part of making sure that promise is true for them in this life!
Malnutrition- a state of health that occurs when the body is improperly nourished.
This can be in the form of undernutrition and overnutrition.
I'm in a basic Nutrition class for my Health Studies minor, and I am absolutely loving it. I have dreamed of getting married and running my own home, budgeting for groceries, and cooking healthy meals for my family for years- and now it's actually happening! So that has put an even greater purpose in this class. I have also had the idea of teaching Nutrition classes in Spanish someday, so that makes me excited as well.
However, as I listen and take notes on what we should and shouldn't eat, what makes a balanced diet, how many grams of protein we need, my head and my heart keep wandering. They wander to the children in Africa who are starving, they wander to the children at the Manna feeding program at Eagle's Nest in Guatemala, I think about the mommas in Haiti whose children die if the mothers aren't properly nourished enough to provide breastmilk. Thousands upon millions of people didn't eat at all today. And here I am, learning about how I should best feed myself so I don't get fat or get heart disease.
So in the past week, my heart has been torn. I'm torn between the passion I have to take care of my body, and later the bodies of my family. I want to cook wholesome foods, and eat in a way that preserves my health for the furthering of the Kingdom. Yet the other part of me is crying inside for the poor and the needy. As cliche as that phrase is, we MUST realize that this is real. 14% of the people in our country alone are concerned about where their next meal is coming from. At the same time, we have people who are sitting at their kitchen tables eating cheap potato chips, and children with nothing but skin and bones in Africa eating the skin of a potato as their only food for the day.
It's in these moments that I hate inequality. I despise injustice. I cringe at the trays of food poured into the garbage every night in my own cafeteria. My stomach turns as I fill myself with fresh fruits and vegetables, remembering that there are those who go with nothing but garbage gleaned from the streets. Why, Lord?
In the midst of my troubled heart, I'm trying to focus on the fact that God is sovereign, and that for some reason, He has placed me in a place of plenty. He has placed me in a class where we discuss good nutrition, that I might take this knowledge and use it for His glory. Perhaps I will adopt a malnourished child, perhaps I will manage an orphanage, perhaps I will teach nutrition classes to those who don't know how to provide wholesome meals to their families. I don't know, but I'm trusting that our God does know. So I rejoice in the blessings, and thank Him for His provision, determined not to waste even a minute.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."
25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I’m trying on wedding dresses on Monday, and I am very excited. I have one picked out, on sale, and the store has it in stock. All of this wedding dress talk has really got me thinking. I’ve always loved the song “Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb, and I encourage you to listen to it before continuing to read.
“I am a whore I do confess, I put You on just like a wedding dress and I run down the aisle, run down the aisle. I’m a prodigal with no way home, I put You on just like a ring of gold and I run down the aisle, run down the aisle, to You.”
As I sought the Lord at the conference this past week, He graciously brought all my cluttered thoughts into one broad theme, and that is my identity. I’ve been reading books and articles recently about Godly womanhood, and a burden has been growing in me to foster that Godliness both in myself and in other women.
So I get to thinking about a wedding dress. Our clothing, our uniform helps create our identity. If we work at McDonald’s, we’ll wear a hat with the big yellow arches. A doctor wears a lab coat. A mom might wear yoga pants and an adoption t-shirt (okay maybe not…just had to throw that in there) J But in any case, our clothing helps to define us, and gives a little glimpse of who we are and what we do. When you see a beaming woman in a gorgeous white gown, she looks like a princess, and you know that she is a bride. She is going to walk down the aisle to her husband. The white is a symbol of purity, something that has lost tremendous value in the past 50 years, and it makes my heart ache. Regardless, the wedding dress is the outward evidence of a bride.
While I absolutely cannot wait to find that perfect dress, I am far less concerned about that than what is on the inside. What is my inward evidence of being a bride-to-be. Any bride can put on a dress and walk down an aisle to be married. But when that ceremony is over, she takes that dress off and she is not only a woman but a wife. When we become Christians, we become a part of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ. In one of my workshops last week, they gave us 3 qualities of the Bride of Christ which should in turn be possessed by women of the Lord.
- Beautiful- think and act beautifully. This means grasping on to the identity which is found in Christ with both hands, believing it with your head and your heart.
- Confident- This attribute stems from the first one. Your confidence in your beauty as a Daughter of the King should in turn be reflected in your actions. When others see you, they should see something different about you- a peace and rest about who you are as a person, and a confidence in your ability to be used by the Lord.
- Unshakeable hope- oh how beautiful these words are. We possess an unshakeable, unwavering hope that cannot be taken from us. Let me repeat that. It CANNOT be taken from us. I cannot tell you how many times I have let that be snatched away from my hands. A negative comment, a frustrating number when I step on the scale, a doubting professor, a disappointment. We are faced with these things everyday. For that matter, my first look in the mirror in the morning can dictate whether or not I claim that hope for today. But- if we claim that beauty from Christ, and with confidence believe it regardless of what the day brings, we will have this unshakeable hope.
So on Monday, I’ll be whisked away into every girl’s dream. I’ll try on dress after dress, I might cry when I find the right one, and I’ll truly feel like a bride. But in my heart of hearts, I know that this dress is only temporary, only an outward fixture of that big day. In the end, I am a woman of the Lord, a Princess Warrior, a Daughter of the King, and I have a lifetime of marriage to look forward to when the make-up is taken off and the dress is gone. Just as we don't want to slip on our identity as "Christian" and slip it off again, I do not want to just slip on the wedding dress and call myself a bride. Our roles as Godly women go much deeper than this.
As I seek the Lord’s face for what this season holds for me as a bride-to-be, I’m asking him to mold me, and put me through His refining fire, that I might come out on the other end a beaming woman clothed in the purity of Christ. And I long for this for every woman who is sitting staring at their computer screen reading these words. Truly. I care for your heart, I long for women to embrace our place in this world, the identity that God has given us. Will you join me on this journey of seeking the Father’s heart in a world that calls for the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit with inward beauty? I believe that He has so much for us.
"but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves."
1 Peter 3:4-5
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
Friday, August 5, 2011
2 weeks ago, he got down on his knee and slid a ring on my finger.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Ladies, thank you SO much for your sweet feedback from my post yesterday. I am so excited to know I am not alone in this passion and burden for biblical womanhood. And I'm really eager to see what the Lord will do with this in the future. He is raising up a generation of women who love Jesus first- that is beautiful!
Monday, July 18, 2011
God has slowly been impressing something on my heart these past few weeks, months, years. Last night as I was journaling, I felt like it all kind of came full circle in my head.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
It's 12:45, and everyone is asleep. It's just me, my fruit (i probably eat more fruit than all of your reading this blog put together), Rold Gold pretzels, 19 Kids and Counting, and my computer. Speaking of 19 Kids and Counting, Anna Duggar is about to have her baby so I can't go to bed until the show is finished. I'm pathetic lol.
I have been home for 4 full days now, and it has been wonderful. Time has been surreal, as in some ways I feel like I have been home forever, and in other ways, the time is already going too fast. There have been long walks with Spencer, all the familiar foods, sweet times with family,
sleeping in, and getting to work out again (i know, not exactly everyone's favorite but I do enjoy that).
I have been relaxing while scrapbooking my trip and watching movies. It's been therapeutic to sit down in the basement for hours at a time, letting my creative juices flow while reflecting on my trip. Seeing the pictures on the pages has reminded me again of the incredible opportunity I had the past 7 weeks. I saw so much beauty, history, picturesque sights of Europe.
I have almost exactly one month before school starts. I cannot wait to return to the community that I have there, and I have SO much to look forward to this next year. But I am not at all ready to start school, especially to start another Spanish class.
But until then, I have many more long summer evenings to look forward to, a week of family vacation, a trip to St. Louis to see friends, and more time to recuperate before falling into the chaos of college life again. I'm determined to make the most of every day that I have left of summer, so thankful for the growth the Lord has brought, the blessings He has given, and this wonderful place I call home.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Their latest treasure is Miss Ruby Grace, who they announced they would be adopting here. Tiny Ruby stole her daddy's heart while they were in Uganda last month. And their latest trip, he did everything he could to take care of this precious girl. She weighed 6 pounds when they met her, though she was already 10 months old. She has hydrocephalus, a condition occurs where water collects on the brain. In this case, it is due to her malnourishment. This baby was starved. When they found her at the baby home last month, she was unable to keep any type of food down at all. This past week, they were able to feed her in teeny-tiny bits at a time.
They posted pictures of their precious new daughter, who was left to die- but destined by God to live. My heart broke.
Many ask why. Why would 50-year old parents adopt a baby at all, much less a baby with special needs? Why would parents of 14 children adopt again?
But here's the truth. We as Christians are not called to ask why. We are called to say Yes, Lord, here am I. I mean honestly, who are we to say or do anything but that? Somehow we HAVE to get out of this mindset that our lives are for us. Because they're not. We don't get to live this life for us, and then come back again and serve the needy, care for the orphan, and feed the hungry on Round #2. This isn't a game.
I don't know how to live like that. I don't know that I want to live like that. I write on this blog about how convicted I am, how challenged and encouraged i am to strive to live a life that reflects Christ. But when it really comes down to it, that's a scary thing to actually live out. When you surrender yourself to the Lord like DW and Linny have, BIG things happen. Yet- those BIG things have been beautiful. They have a huge, beautiful family. They have children who once lived in an orphanage, who now know the love of a family and most importantly the love of Jesus.
So as I wrestle through this issue, I want to say YES, Lord, here am I. And if that means adopting a tiny little girl from Uganda with special needs, then I will trust our big God to give me a huge, heaping load of trust and strength.
What big things, or what little things is the Lord asking you to say YES to right now?
He has Spoken
Broken, burdened, feeling lost
Wanting to serve at any cost.
Amazed by my selfishness, blindness, and pride
I act as if I’m the only one in this life.
And then I’m reminded, it shatters me still;
That the children are dying, hungry, ill
My eyes dart away from the face on the screen.
She just can’t be real, it must be a bad dream.
But this precious little girl was somebody’s daughter,
So sick and disabled is she that nobody wants her.
But someone has to love her, someone has to care.
Some has to choose, a jump of faith, a love dare.
This tiny body is perfect in the eyes of her Creator,
A normal life she may not live, but it will glorify the Savior.
What road will we choose? The one of safety, comfort?
Or will we choose to let go and live the one of joy, hurt?
I am crying to Jesus to show me the way
I want to walk the road that makes me trust him day by day
I so long to bring Him glory, serve forgotten, hurting, broken,
And I hold His hand with confidence, knowing He has spoken.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
- 4 days away from going home. God has been faithful.
- Full of topics that I want to blog about. The Lord has really been placing some heavy stuff on my heart. I long for my life to glorify Him, and I also long for this blog to glorify Him. SO- when I get home, I'm hoping to get some of those thoughts from paper to computer screen :)
- Totally and completely burned out on Spanish. Again, God has been faithful to sustain me, but I have never been so unable to listen to or speak Spanish like I am now. However, at the same time, I've never been so ready to fly to Latin America and use my Spanish.
- So ready for Mexican food- Chips, salsa, queso, tortillas, the works :)
- Rambling....so I should stop writing. ;)
Monday, July 4, 2011
1,000+ new vocabulary words
12 vocabulary tests
18 single-sided notebook pages full of notes on the Spanish history
20+ hours of studying for said history exam
1 entire notebook of Grammar and Conversation notes
1 6-page research paper
= 1 accomplished study abroad student.
Only 3 more days of classes and I'm DONE! :)
I had the wonderful blessing to go over to a family’s house for dinner on Wednesday. I had met Jacqueline, the wife, at church on Sunday. She is a short, round-faced, brown-eyed passionate woman. Her face is always in a huge smile that radiates the joy in her heart. She is the most hospitable woman in the church, and she chooses to open her home once a week to students and young people. Upon meeting her, she handed me a pen and told me to write down my email, because I am coming to dinner on Wednesday! Alrighty then! I was nervous, and almost talked myself out of going. That next day, I talked with another student from the church who mentioned Jacqueline and how she has a huge passion for the orphans. What?! God could not have matched me up with a more perfect friend.
So I responded to the email and told her I would be honored to join her for dinner. I met up with another American, and we took a bus (where I saw the poor family from my previous post) to her apartment. Upon entering her apartment, I was surrounded by nothing but hospitality and fellowship. By the end of dinner, there were 8 people plus a baby gathered around their table from 5 countries, united by Spanish and a love of God. Jacqueline’s husband, Alfonso, was a delightful man. There was banter throughout the entire meal, and I was so happy to be able to participate and understand what was going on. It was really sweet to watch Jacqueline and Alfonso throughout the night. Alfonso would frequently address Jacqueline as “Mi princesa,” my princess. What woman doesn’t want to be called that?! There was obvious respect, love, and admiration.
At the end of the night, Jacqueline gathered us all around the living room. We held hands, and she prayed a blessing over us. Just a sweet, simple blessing to the Lord. It was beautiful. 5 nations, 1 tongue, 1 God.
I feel as though this week has been rather distinctive. Definitely a defining week in my time here. I’ll try to sum up all of my experiences. But to start- a scene that has been heavy on my heart.
Last Wednesday I took a bus to a different part of Salamanca, and when I walked up to the bus stop, there was this little girl with darker skin and dark hair, and I immediately thought of Guatemala. She looked to be about 6, and just like any child, she was running back and forth. When she turned around, I caught a glimpse of her face and my heart skipped a beat. There was something about her features that looked so much like Claudia. Except this sweet girl had obviously lived a very hard life. Her clothes were worn, her teeth rotting, and her round, brown eyes were rather sunken. They were the same round eyes as Claudia, and her smile was precious. The innocence of childhood and the spark of joy were still lingering there.
I watched as she skipped back to her family, and my heart broke. They looked like they were merely surviving, just scraping by. The mom had a very long, dark face that was hardened by the world. It had an almost scary look to it, so full of bitterness were her eyes and facial expression. She resembled some of the Gypsies that I’d seen, and I wondered if perhaps that is where she got her unusual features. The dad looked to be South American. In front of the dad was a stroller with a little boy in it. He looked to be about 3, and there was something very, very wrong with him. He reminded me of the pictures I see of pediatric cancer patients in the hospitals. He had peach fuzz on top of his head, with the same beautiful big eyes that just popped out of his thin little face. He was smiling and shouting things at his sister, as his gruff dad stood with arms crossed, waiting for the bus to arrive. A second stroller held a little baby, and though I didn’t see much of him, he had the same beautiful skin as the rest, blissfully sleeping, still unaware of the rough world in which he had entered just months ago. I wrote in my journal the next day, “That family made my heart hurt. They made me uncomfortable, and even a little scared. I had not seen such an unhealthy, poor, desperate family yet on this trip. Their faces have continued to haunt me all day.”
THIS is why I am learning Spanish. To go love on children, to minister to families, to help broken mothers like that get on the path to hope. I so long to do that. Waiting on the Lord for His will and His timing has been so hard, so transforming, and so beautiful.
For whatever reason, that family brought out this deep love and burden even more. I don’t know what will come of it. Sometimes the Lord just desires to remind us of His call. Other times, He’s growing that seed a little bit more, for something special.
Dad, I don’t think our time in Guatemala is finished. Can’t wait to see what the Lord is doing J
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
We saw these suits of armor in El Alcazar in Segovia a couple of weekends ago. For some reason, this image of a real coat of armor was extremely profound to me, and it was much more than just a historical artifact. I attribute this to 2 things. First, being here in Spain by myself really raised my awareness of my own vulnerability, specifically as a woman. The guys could walk all over Spain and never have to worry about getting back to their apartment safely. They can go out to a discoteca with friends and never have to worry about a twisted man going after them. They can walk through the streets without guys whistling at them, or saying "Guapa chica!" as though they were an object to look at and covet. This vulnerability was really scary to me, especially when we were traveling in so many different places. Now that we're "at home" in Salamanca, it's a bit less scary, but there are still moments I wish that I could crawl into this armor and hide from all of the "bad guys" (literally...and figuratively).
I want to climb in that suit of armor,
It offers me safety, shelter, peace
I want to get away from this evil world
That threatens to crush a part of me
But we cannot hide from what’s broken
For on the cross Christ set us free
That I may live my life in total surrender,
Knowing He has a plan for me.
So I lift up my eyes to the heavens,
For His face alone will I seek.
As I give of myself to others,
Who have not this hope and this peace.
I await the Knight in shining armor,
To gather us close to His breast.
Where we’ll cease our striving and trying,
And be ushered into eternal rest.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.
And the harder it seems for him to fulfill his promise, the better he looks when you trust him. Suppose that you are at the deep end of a pool by the diving board. You are four years old and can’t swim, and your daddy is at the other end of the pool. Suddenly a big, mean dog crawls under the fence and shows his teeth and growls at you and starts coming toward you to bite you. You crawl up on the diving board and walk toward the end to get away from him. The dog puts his front paws up on the diving board. Just then, your daddy sees what’s happening and calls out, “Johnny, jump in the water. I’ll get you.”
Now, you have never jumped from one meter high and you can’t swim and your daddy is not underneath you and this water is way over your head. How do you make your daddy look good in that moment? You jump. And almost as soon as you hit the water, you feel his hands under your arms and he treads water holding you safely while someone chases the dog away. Then he takes you to the side of the pool.
We give glory to God when we trust him to do what he has promised to do–especially when all human possibilities are exhausted. Faith glorifies God. That is why God planned for faith to be the way we are justified."
— John Piper
I'm going to call this post my Father's Day post.