Monday, December 19, 2011

From death to life-life's too short for worries

This morning a friend texted me canceling our lunch plans because she had a stomach bug. My first reaction was to think how long is she going to live? Is it deadly? Then I remembered I wasn't in Laos. Relieved that death was no longer an issue I texted her back offering to help out in anyway I could if possible. She told me she might have me get her some food later.

You see one of my Lao teachers taught me that there are four basic resources food/water (these were one), shelter, clothing and medicine. I knew my friend had all of these. She has an air conditioner she can sit under and not worry in ((Lao weather)70-120 degree heat) that it will rack up the bill if she dare turns it on or heat in this cold (shelter), a television and movies that work(shelter), food in her fridge or the resources to go buy what she needs(food), access to a bed to sleep in where karaoking neighbors don't deafen your ears(medicine), a shower with clean water and her own bathroom. I have all of these too. If we need to we can go to clean hospitals, doctors no matter the time day or night, etc. In America we are also given the luxury of privacy. It's not a bad thing just as long as we sometimes let people in. You see when I went to drop off the food I was secretly pleased that she didn't invite me in. I like to be alone most of the time when I am sick, unless it is a migraine (some people don't some people do). I don't mind taking care of others but sometimes it is nice just to help from a far, way less stress. Besides I have an irrational fear of getting infected and infecting someone else who then in turn dies. Being responsible for something, blaming myself when it is not my burden to carry. Anyways, I like my privacy and that is one part of Laos I don't miss.

I miss Laos so much but I don't miss the ever present reminder of death. A team member once talked about how he wanted to put a little piece of heaven inside of others. It reminded me that life is short. You see in Lao culture if someone is sick you bungyang (watch everything about them) or hacksa(slowly love them). So many people from many walks of life and varying degrees of friendship I sat with while they were sick and they sat with me. Why? Because there if someone is sick they might not be here tomorrow. Some of the most gentle souls I have known have been a heart beat away from death and others didn't make it. It broke my heart, still does. Yet we are not meant to carry the pain only the faith. While I love my privacy I also love this sense of community, loving others and just being the being and not just the human. Was it worth the embarrassing awkwardness? Yes! Would I do it if it didn't mean so much to others? No. However, there understanding of faith, hope and love blows me away. Father you bless us all in different ways.

You don't ask us to do or be anything but your children yet sin was/is our sickness. It's the virus all human beings carry, yet we all gave you all our different strains to bear and you took them willingly. You knew death was inevitable. You died so we might have life.Your power cleansed us yet we run back to each other infected for more infection only for you to heal us once more. How does this connect? We have resources and we need to share them. I'm not meaning letting people in when you are sick instead of resting either. You follow? Slowing loving others to faith, taking the time out for one another no matter how busy our schedule, doing the things that make others have a little taste of heaven in them. It's not just about doing but being, being yours Father, being completely present wherever we are. Trusting you and not carrying burdens we are not meant to.

Thank you for the gift of life after death. You know it is hard for me sometimes because of the greed people seem to have here, they have so much and they still aren't content. We'll one of my Lao friends told me there are greedy people everywhere I just might not see it as much there. Anyways, Father please teach people how to remember it's about giving because we have been given so much(not because we think it will get us in better standing or feel entitled) and receiving because we love one another despite our viruses and were loved first(not because we are worthy ourselves but because you make us worthy.) Thanks for being the reason for my season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A picture of A picture

I feel like I remember so much about my grandparents but especially him because he was around the longest. He was the humblest man I think I will ever meet. A wise friend (Ian Dierden)once said " You may spend a lot of time listening but how much time do you spend just being. God calls us to camp before we move on as individuals or a family." Papa was the best example of being. Lao people do this well too but us Americans are so busy I find most people forget to. He waited 10 years without his wife so that he could bless us unselfishly and see us grow. The night before he died he was talking to my cousin Christy who was pregnant and said " I really want to live to see my great grand baby but I miss your Grandma too." He had quotes everywhere but rarely spoke but wrote reminders on the backs of so many things. Two of my favorites that my dad read at his funeral are

1.From Patrick Henry Last Will and Testament "I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them one shilling, they would be rich. And if I had not given them that, and had given them all the world they would be poor indeed.

2.On Papa's office wall there was the quote "Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe- because we had a debt we couldn't pay." Below it he had typed using his keyboard "He paid a debt he didn't owe, I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song -Amazing Grace- Christ paid a debt that I could never pay."

This poem I wrote the day Papa after Papa died.
Papa's gone to heaven
To be where the angels sing
Nana's waiting by his side
Wearing his golden ring
She smacks him on the back and loudly says "I've been waiting for you Eugene."
With that he chuckles
Oh Martha we all know the things we've both seen
But those don't even begin to describe this celestial peace
From physical to spiritual being
Those on earth sit back and dream
But little do they know
That diamond in the rough
That ended years ago
That jewel that sparkled
Never forgotten
If only they had gotten
If only they had known
And then he paused
With that the teacher then replied "The earth is not our home."
Our ways may change
Our abilities
But the love we leave behind is our truest legacy
Then the postman responded
Knowing that the heart does not ache
Due to ones fate
But knows what is right, just, honorable and does accordingly
Living under God's rules
On heaven or on earth
That is what makes
Life have value
Life have worth
And with that they grasped arms
Walking into God's gate of light
His presence their coat of arms that penetrated them through
With that Martha set her head on his shoulder and replied
Oh Eugene I love you, always have, always will
Oh you don't know how I've been waiting for you
And with that Papa replied
"Oh but I do
My prayers are no longer postage stamps
Sent through heavenly mail
But once again they rest on my shoulder
Thanks to all of Gods love, grace and care
This retired postman sits with his postmaster
And the greatest invitation from disaster
With that she kissed him
And they were off
No more did I see
But I could hear the angels sing the words "Glory, Glory"
Before I drifted back to reality

I'm not sure where this was taken but I found this picture of us the other day. Yesterday I carried it with me and probably will today too. Yes it is a picture of a picture, but if you read below that is what I hope to be to you. Last night at BSF I thought I had lost it and ran back inside as they were locking up. A lady was so kind as to ask if everything was okay I began to cry and said I lost the picture of my grandfather who died for years ago around today. She helped me look and even went back to me to my car to look through all my stuff. We didn't find it. Then I opened my notes notebook and there it was. I ran back inside to show her and she was so sweet about it. She had taken my group leaders and my name. She never treated me like it was stupid and although we were strangers she treated me with dignity. When someone had asked what is going on she replied "She lost something important to her and we are trying to find it." This is just one of the reasons I love BSF. Last night as the speaker spoke all of this is what was on my mind but I am so thankful for a place to go where no matter your background you are accepted and can learn more. For while it gives me great knowledge their is compassion met too and grace. Then she waited as I walked back to my car and made sure I got in safely. A stranger cared for me.

Why do you say all this? Well, because no matter where you are you can be a picture of a picture of Christ to others. You see?

A glimpse of Christ in me or at least that is what I hope it to be

Yesterday I pondered the lives of my grandparents. God chose to take 3 of the 4 of them away on the same day different years. You guessed it December 7th. Grandfather Hogan (Robert Edward Hogan) was the first to go in 1996. I was 13. Then three years later in 1999 He took Nana(( Martha Elizabeth (Hamill) English)). I was 16. He graced me with the presence of Papa ( Eugene Wesley English) for another 7 years before he too went to be with the Lord. The date of Papa's death is debated because he died in the night alone. I will swear till my dieing day that it is December 7th because that night( guess earlier that morning) while taking a study break from my Arkansas history test at 2:37 am a feeling of grief overwhelmed me and I remember saying out load to myself "Someone is dead." I went to bed and woke up a few hours later to review before taking a test I would thankfully ace. Anyways, 19 missed calls later my dad shared the news. My dad and I had been both been given a peace when we saw him around Thanksgiving that that might be the last time we saw him. In the chaos of finals I hadn't put together two and two.

Last night I wrote 8 pages honoring their history. Reading the Old Testament reminds one of the importance of those names and Papa had such a love for history.I also talked about how their legacy, temperaments were passed down to us and my parents too I know they are also in my cousins but I focused mainly on the attributes in my immediately family and how all of us reflect one or another of them somehow. In BSF all I could think about was how humble Papa was and what a great earthly example of Christ He was and his sacrifice. The last thing I ever said to each of them was "I love you! I love you! I love you!" I want to share the last page with you.

Papa once said that he may have taught his grandchildren a many things, but an important lesson his grandchildren taught him was the importance of saying "I love you!" Father you said I love you through your sons death on the cross in a way we never could have. We don't suffer because we are unworthy but because we are worthy we suffer for you. Just like my family and I are glimpses of our grandparents. We are all a glimpse of you. This shadowed effect- you have to have the light and the object before creating the shadow a friend shared tonight. You are the light may I be the object and your grace the shadow I show the world too. Just like we are all like each other but not by our own means or choice. We didn't earn our temperaments/personalities we were just given them before we were born so we cannot lose them. Salvation is the same way sin our debt but blood freely given to take it away. Thank you that I cannot earn forgiveness so I cannot lose it. Help me to be a picture of a picture that says "Jesus I love you." I write this history today for their legacy thinking of Papa and his love for history. Oh how I miss them all (( I wrote about my Gran, Gran (Bette Elizabeth Hogan) too)) , but Father they are with you and in us live on. Someday I only hope others will look back and see what you oh sovereign Father have meant to me and turn to you and say " I love you! I love you! I love you." Thanks for redeeming me Father, Son, Spirit, Almighty King. Help me to prolong this history whether through family or friends be my means to the ends. If you ever gift me with a family of my own may my legacy, parents, and grandparents live on or in those friends of mine of mine and the children of thee for we are all adopted in your eyes, come from the same genealogy. Thanks for loving me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks in this Season and Stage of Life, Meeting Him Where I am at and not just where I want to be

November,December and January are always hard months emotionally for me, maybe because of shorter, dark days and unmet expectations but not complete sure if those are the only reasons. Whatever the reason He gets me through them every year. I am so thankful that God has taught me to do less during these months and be gentle with myself.

I am blown away by all that He is teaching me. I don't even know where to begin. I definitely still miss Laos and long to go back someday but in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I am trying to live in the now, something I have never done very well. One way is by being thankful for what I have now!

Sometimes it is as simple as taking responsibility. For example I have learned to ask God in my prayers not to help me with my studies or other things but may I be diligent in my studies. May He bless me with understanding and comprehension of what I need to know. May instead of help has made all the difference. I am asking not demanding and expecting not complaining.

Here is a poem I wrote in my journal the other day part of a prayer but I felt like a part that needed to be shared....Hope you enjoy!

Thank you for the wind that blows me away from the storm
The breath that keeps me warm
Friends who care
Time to share
Clothes to wear
And provisions evermore
Values that succeed
Any good deed
Technology though it gives me strife
The ability to see beyond
Connect with those in need
Friends that bleed
But curse it
If I ever find
I worship it more
Than my heavenly King divine
Thanks for sacrificing your son for me
Death on the cross
To make me clean
Many are the gifts that one receives
But perhaps the biggest thanks
Is for the blessings
Intangible gifts
Like friends and family
Trees planted in hearts
Food for the soul
The pie and its tarts
Rest in a bed
Blanketed in a coat of health
Nestled by a stove
Now that is truly wealth
Forget the money
Made from things
Remember what God gave us
And dream, dream, dream.......

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Birthday Wish

Birthday's come and go but life doesn't it continues on. Birthday's mark the beginning of someones existence and how our world wouldn't be the same without them. Our Father has allowed me and you to live through various things and probably even some things we don't realize. The world is all about connecting but the way that people choose to connect sometimes bothers me.

In class we were talking about quantity versus the quality of time. We live in a quantitative world (at least those of us in the US). I have one hour to give you, thirty minutes we don't know how to be anywhere but we know how to be everywhere.

I am so thankful for friends who understand quality time and want to be with me. I am thankful for friends all over the world. People don't realize that sometimes their presence is the greatest present they can give, to be present and live in the moment. I know it is easier said than done.

Tonight I get to talk to some Lao friends and see their faces. I planned this several weeks ago and they agreed. Who could have a better present but friends who take time for them. I ask you to think about the story you are telling people instead of the one you are writing((resumes, things that make us look good(sometimes enjoyable sometimes not) ) what cause do these further self fame? worth or Christ?

I challenge you instead of just writing another Happy Birthday on my facebook wall, sending me a text or email to write what a difference I have made in your life. What if we all did this for one another? In celebration of another life that God continues to allow to go on .Don't make it harder than it is. Doesn't have to be super personal or profound. It maybe as simple as "riding with me to _____, meeting to compare and talk about class answers, taking time to have lunch, asking me about____, Again they don't have to be super personal you never know who reads this and if you prefer to send a message, email it or text it to me that is okay. Are you up for my challenge? Not just me but for your close friends or even those you want to get to know. I am challenging myself to do the same for my new year's resolution to show that there is always more than meets the eye you never know what your words will mean. If nothing else just put a hug symbol. Yes hugs and time are my love languages.

p.s.- some of you have already done this and that is what gave me the idea. If you are not up for the challenge I am not offended. A lot of your lives show your love just thought I'd try to be the difference I want to show.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Place in This World

Being back in school can be overwhelming but even more than that is trying to find my place in this world, and yes I do have the Micheal W. Smith song stuck in my head."If there are millions Down on their knees, Among the many, Can you still hear me, Hear me asking, Where do I belong?Is there a vision, That I can call my own? Show me, I'm, Looking for a reason, Roamin' through the night to find, My place in this world."

You see I am not an undergrad or graduate, I am not married, nor do I have children, I am not in a successful job or have a job for that matter, I love teaching but also love small groups, I want to be a mom someday but wonder will it ever happen? These are just a few of the frustrations bottled up inside.Jeremiah 29:11 often comes to mind right now "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 a hope and a future."

I hope to go back to Laos someday but the future is always uncertain. Someone yesterday said to me "What if you are not suppose to go back but stay here?" I have thought about it but I also believe God wouldn't give me such a strong desire if he didn't have a purpose for it. After some prayer and reading in the word. I realized I am not ready to give up that dream. I need that hope no matter how unrealistic it may seem and He has given it to me for a reason right now. Even if it is false hope it is a process of letting go and I am not ready to let go yet. In a world where I feel friends come and go and so does the closeness between them I need something concrete. While I realize she maybe right just because I don't return doesn't mean I cannot have a heart for the people there or the world. Paul longed to return to Jerusalem, eventually our heavenly father allowed him, but it was the shortest of his journeys and only after 11 years. We must do things in God's timing and not our own.

I find it difficult not to talk about Laos and I have become the person I never wanted to be(the one who compares Laos to everything, even holding my tongue sometimes but realizing it often too late) but yet I realize it is all a part of the process. God created the puzzle, not me, my job is to follow his instructions so that I can help fit the pieces together not try and complete the puzzle but trust his ways no matter my understanding level for in the end it is all about him and his glory not me.

Transitions always take time. Time is the key to success, easier said than done. In such a busy world where people don't take out the time to have time it's difficult to make friends but eventually I'll get there. Just have to find those other misfits willing to take time out to not have busy schedules or desirous of doing everything, while they maybe doing good things I think I am learning sometimes the biggest blessing is the ability to do nothing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's your Tongue?

I love the story of Naomi and Felix and example of how God works in all different kinds of ways. Here is the link for the whole story- all 6 pages but for those of you who don't like to read here is the best part!But oh I highly advise you to read all 6 pages to fully understand the pain, light and healing found in this story!

Naomi sat up and dragged at his arm.

"Can you help me? Can you help me?" she gasped imploringly. "Oh, I thought you'd never come! I was skeered I'd die before you got here--die and go to hell. I didn't know before today that I was dying. None of those cowards would tell me. Can you help me?"

"If I cannot, God can," said Mr. Leonard gently. He felt himself very helpless and inefficient before this awful terror and frenzy. He had seen sad death-beds--troubled death-beds-- ay, and despairing death-beds, but never anything like this. "God!" Naomi's voice shrilled terribly as she uttered the name. "I can't go to God for help. Oh, I'm skeered of hell, but I'm skeereder still of God. I'd rather go to hell a thousand times over than face God after the life I've lived. I tell you, I'm sorry for living wicked--I was always sorry for it all the time. There ain't never been a moment I wasn't sorry, though nobody would believe it. I was driven on by fiends of hell. Oh, you don't understand--you CAN'T understand--but I was always sorry!"

"If you repent, that is all that is necessary. God will forgive you if you ask Him."

"No, He can't! Sins like mine can't be forgiven. He can't--and He won't."

"He can and He will. He is a God of love, Naomi."

"No," said Naomi with stubborn conviction. "He isn't a God of love at all. That's why I'm skeered of him. No, no. He's a God of wrath and justice and punishment. Love! There ain't no such thing as love! I've never found it on earth, and I don't believe it's to be found in God."

"Naomi, God loves us like a father."

"Like MY father?" Naomi's shrill laughter, pealing through the still room, was hideous to hear.

The old minister shuddered.

"No--no! As a kind, tender, all-wise father, Naomi--as you would have loved your little child if it had lived."

Naomi cowered and moaned.

"Oh, I wish I could believe THAT. I wouldn't be frightened if I could believe that. MAKE me believe it. Surely you can make me believe that there's love and forgiveness in God if you believe it yourself."

"Jesus Christ forgave and loved the Magdalen, Naomi."

"Jesus Christ? Oh, I ain't afraid of HIM. Yes, HE could understand and forgive. He was half human. I tell you, it's God I'm skeered of."

"They are one and the same," said Mr. Leonard helplessly. He knew he could not make Naomi realize it. This anguished death- bed was no place for a theological exposition on the mysteries of the Trinity.

"Christ died for you, Naomi. He bore your sins in His own body on the cross."

"We bear our own sins," said Naomi fiercely. "I've borne mine all my life--and I'll bear them for all eternity. I can't believe anything else. I CAN'T believe God can forgive me. I've ruined people body and soul--I've broken hearts and poisoned homes--I'm worse than a murderess. No--no--no, there's no hope for me." Her voice rose again into that shrill, intolerable shriek. "I've got to go to hell. It ain't so much the fire I'm skeered of as the outer darkness. I've always been so skeered of darkness--it's so full of awful things and thoughts. Oh, there ain't nobody to help me! Man ain't no good and I'm too skeered of God."

She wrung her hands. Mr. Leonard walked up and down the room in the keenest anguish of spirit he had ever known. What could he do? What could he say? There was healing and peace in his religion for this woman as for all others, but he could express it in no language which this tortured soul could understand. He looked at her writhing face; he looked at the idiot girl chuckling to herself at the foot of the bed; he looked through the open door to the remote, starlit night--and a horrible sense of utter helplessness overcame him. He could do nothing--nothing! In all his life he had never known such bitterness of soul as the realization brought home to him.

"What is the good of you if you can't help me?" moaned the dying woman. "Pray--pray--pray!" she shrilled suddenly.

Mr. Leonard dropped on his knees by the bed. He did not know what to say. No prayer that he had ever prayed was of use here. The old, beautiful formulas, which had soothed and helped the passing of many a soul, were naught save idle, empty words to Naomi Clark. In his anguish of mind Stephen Leonard gasped out the briefest and sincerest prayer his lips had ever uttered.

"O, God, our Father! Help this woman. Speak to her in a tongue which she can understand."

A beautiful, white face appeared for a moment in the light that streamed out of the doorway into the darkness of the night. No one noticed it, and it quickly drew back into the shadow. Suddenly, Naomi fell back on her pillow, her lips blue, her face horribly pinched, her eyes rolled up in her head. Maggie started up, pushed Mr. Leonard aside, and proceeded to administer some remedy with surprising skill and deftness. Mr. Leonard, believing Naomi to be dying, went to the door, feeling sick and bruised in soul.

Presently a figure stole out into the light.

"Felix, is that you?" said Mr. Leonard in a startled tone.

"Yes, sir." Felix came up to the stone step. "Janet got frightened what you might fall on that rough road after dark, so she made me come after you with a lantern. I've been waiting behind the point, but at last I thought I'd better come and see if you would be staying much longer. If you will be, I'll go back to Janet and leave the lantern here with you." "Yes, that will be the best thing to do. I may not be ready to go home for some time yet," said Mr. Leonard, thinking that the death-bed of sin behind him was no sight for Felix's young eyes.

"Is that your grandson you're talking to?" Naomi spoke clearly and strongly. The spasm had passed. "If it is, bring him in. I want to see him."

Reluctantly, Mr. Leonard signed Felix to enter. The boy stood by Naomi's bed and looked down at her with sympathetic eyes. But at first she did not look at him--she looked past him at the minister.

"I might have died in that spell," she said, with sullen reproach in her voice, "and if I had, I'd been in hell now. You can't help me--I'm done with you. There ain't any hope for me, and I know it now."

She turned to Felix.

"Take down that fiddle on the wall and play something for me," she said imperiously. "I'm dying--and I'm going to hell--and I don't want to think of it. Play me something to take my thoughts off it--I don't care what you play. I was always fond of music--there was always something in it for me I never found anywhere else."

Felix looked at his grandfather. The old man nodded, he felt too ashamed to speak; he sat with his fine silver head in his hands, while Felix took down and tuned the old violin, on which so many godless lilts had been played in many a wild revel. Mr. Leonard felt that he had failed his religion. He could not give Naomi the help that was in it for her.

Felix drew the bow softly, perplexedly over the strings. He had no idea what he should play. Then his eyes were caught and held by Naomi's burning, mesmeric, blue gaze as she lay on her crumpled pillow. A strange, inspired look came over the boy's face. He began to play as if it were not he who played, but some mightier power, of which he was but the passive instrument.

Sweet and soft and wonderful was the music that stole through the room. Mr. Leonard forgot his heartbreak and listened to it in puzzled amazement. He had never heard anything like it before. How could the child play like that? He looked at Naomi and marvelled at the change in her face. The fear and frenzy were going out of it; she listened breathlessly, never taking her eyes from Felix. At the foot of the bed the idiot girl sat with tears on her cheeks.

In that strange music was the joy of the innocent, mirthful childhood, blent with the laughter of waves and the call of glad winds. Then it held the wild, wayward dreams of youth, sweet and pure in all their wildness and waywardness. They were followed by a rapture of young love--all-surrendering, all-sacrificing love. The music changed. It held the torture of unshed tears, the anguish of a heart deceived and desolate. Mr. Leonard almost put his hands over his ears to shut out its intolerable poignancy. But on the dying woman's face was only a strange relief, as if some dumb, long-hidden pain had at last won to the healing of utterance.

The sullen indifference of despair came next, the bitterness of smouldering revolt and misery, the reckless casting away of all good. There was something indescribably evil in the music now--so evil that Mr. Leonard's white soul shuddered away in loathing, and Maggie cowered and whined like a frightened animal.

Again the music changed. And in it now there was agony and fear--and repentance and a cry for pardon. To Mr. Leonard there was something strangely familiar in it. He struggled to recall where he had heard it before; then he suddenly knew--he had heard it before Felix came in Naomi's terrible words! He looked at his grandson with something like awe. Here was a power of which he knew nothing--a strange and dreadful power. Was it of God? Or of Satan?

For the last time the music changed. And now it was not music at all--it was a great, infinite forgiveness, an all- comprehending love. It was healing for a sick soul; it was light and hope and peace. A Bible text, seemingly incongruous, came into Mr. Leonard's mind--"This is the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

Felix lowered the violin and dropped wearily on a chair by the bed. The inspired light faded from his face; once more he was only a tired boy. But Stephen Leonard was on his knees, sobbing like a child; and Naomi Clark was lying still, with her hands clasped over her breast.

"I understand now," she said very softly. "I couldn't see it before--and now it's so plain. I just FEEL it. God IS a God of love. He can forgive anybody--even me--even me. He knows all about it. I ain't skeered any more. He just loves me and forgives me as I'd have loved and forgiven my baby if she'd lived, no matter how bad she was, or what she did. The minister told me that but I couldn't believe it. I KNOW it now. And He sent you here to-night, boy, to tell it to me in a way that I could feel it."

Naomi Clark died just as the dawn came up over the sea. Mr. Leonard rose from his watch at her bedside and went to the door. Before him spread the harbour, gray and austere in the faint light, but afar out the sun was rending asunder the milk-white mists in which the sea was scarfed, and under it was a virgin glow of sparkling water.

The fir trees on the point moved softly and whispered together. The whole world sang of spring and resurrection and life; and behind him Naomi Clark's dead face took on the peace that passes understanding.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What does it mean to serve?

Lately I have realized that after being overseas I don't have the energy to serve in ways I used to. In the ways that everyone sees at church or outside of it . Some examples of this type of serving are at the information desk, prayer team, teaching Sunday School or even just being a greeter at church.(Notice how I put just yeah simple things aren't simple for everyone!) At first this left me discouraged because there are always needs out there and we cannot meet them all. If one is met surely a new one will arise. While all of these are admirable, and good things to do, they are not for everyone.

For me, at least right now, God is teaching me that sometimes the best way to serve is just to show up to church and not to withdraw because I don't know a single song we are singing or am overwhelmed by the amount of people I don't know around me, taking the time to go to lunch with someone who just might turn out to be a new friend, offering the seat next to me instead of having five empty ones in between, not making myself so busy that I don't have time for myself or others, or even just being diligent in my school work.

In Matthew 18:3-5 it reads "And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

Right now I am a child in a familiar unfamiliar world but that doesn't stop me from trusting and believing in his power. I might not always feel like I have a place but He has one for me and a plan for my life. I encourage you to serve those around you in whatever way you feel called. Remember just because not everyone sees it doesn't mean it isn't or didn't happen.

You know the best way people have ever served me is by just offering for me to sit next to them whether in a pew or classroom. Just a reminder to not get discouraged because God meets us at whatever season we are in life. In Laos serving was often my time spent waiting around and lending a listening ear. Here those don't fit cultural norms as well, but that doesn't mean they were wrong just different for a different place and season. How will you welcome that child around you? How do you feel most welcome?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Caught between worlds

As you probably have figured out by now I am back in Arkansas for awhile. I miss Laos a lot but know that God has a time for everything and His timing is perfect. Adjusting hasn't been that easy but I have some great friends and acquaintances that are helping. One of my friends laughed at me the other day when I was trying to describe phases of friendship I was telling her about this girl who I wanted to be my friend and I think she wants to be mine but we're not there yet. It just takes awhile, this is what I mean by acquaintances. I just don't like that word it makes me cringe a little bit seeing at how impersonal it is and me being a personable person. Either someone's your friend or they aren't, I only wish it was that simple..haha

Anyways, going back to school has been good for me. I actually don't mind the work load but being in a classroom is a lot harder than I expected it to be. You see all my classes are either with undergraduates or masters students who all have their other classes together and then there is me.

I was in class the other day and wrote this. Seeing that not many educations majors are guys and I had one in my class I decided to include how he might feel. It must be how guys feel in the education field all the time. Gosh..what a hard life. No wonder more educators aren't guys.

Ever been in a crowd
So confused
The punch thrust at your ribs
Bearing the bruise
When will this pain end
The colors that rouse
The heart all a flutter
The dog in the noose
There I am
So distant
So far
So close
So tangible
Here we are
Will our eyes meet
Or am I just the glare
In someone's sunglasses
But where
In between worlds
No spot for me
Waiting to be noticed
But wait see
At least there is one other
Same but different we are
Maybe we'll be friends
Even if it's only from afar
The tricks one plays
Just to fit in
But valuing the difference
For without doesn't matter
It's what's in
What's in

Anyways this next year is probably going to be somewhat lonely feeling caught not only in between two worlds physically but also world's within world's. Next year should be better and if I can get by with at least one friend who wants to be friend as well in each class we'll that'll be enough for now.

Please be praying for
1. A job-one where I can make enough money to get by on
2. that I would be able to understand things that should be familiar to me but are not quite yet
3. that others would have patience with me and I would have patience with them and myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


So it has been awhile since I have posted but it's hard to know what to write...

This world is not my home. I have always loved tradition but guess I got so used to different traditions, strong community, and a different language. Honestly, I feel weird or uncomfortable in a group of more than 3 people. When did this happen? How did I get so lost and confused in a place I should know? Part of me knows I need to let go of the past and part of me doesn't even want to talk about it but my other half can't let go.

It has been nice to reunite with family and some friends but sometimes hard because I am not who I was three years ago. I don't always know how to react, coming from a quiet culture into a loud one I have to learn how to adjust these changes in a tangible way.

Not to mention technology, what is this thing called twitter? Where are the internet cafe's? Everyone has wireless internet on their phone and they pay ridiculous amounts for that? How do I even change the layout of a blog? It will be okay I just need time and people to have patience with me as I adjust to life here again working and studying will help. Hopefully I can find a decent job soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Traveling Mercies

Two days ago I left or maybe three (having been at hour 43 of 45 on my journey my body is mixed up)Vientiane, Laos. Before my flight a dear friend came and hung out with me while we waited for my ride( another friend who is married with a child).We then all crammed into her little car with my stuff.

M, my friend with a child, helped me get through baggage after having to buy a new bag (overweight stuff apparently you have to have an extra bag) she quickly helped me to organize my stuff. They didn't make me pay overweight just carry the newly bought bag( total Froggy, sticky rice basket, purse and two backpacks on hand. Yowzers!) I also had left my boarding pass at the counter with my passport in the process. Just like my mom, when things unexpected come up in unexpected times I sometimes get a bit loopy. Well, that is just the beginning of my journey....

After a few pictures with friends and finding a friend who had been waiting for me in a different area I proceeded to the gates. Saying my goodbyes and amazingly without crying! (Well, at least till they stamped my passport)

First stop- Bangkok Having 3 hours which quickly turned to 30 minutes by the time I finally made it to where I was suppose to be and not having a boarding pass yet I realized I had left my purse in security. When they had patted me down because I forgot to take off my jacket. It was down the escalator how would I ever get down and back. I spotted an elevator for the handicap and took it while a guard gestured no I said in Lao " I forgot my purse!" He understood after proving it was mine I quickly made it upstairs and on to my flight woo....

Second stop- Tapei-just a lot of running around, security check and then onto a plane with literally no down time.

Third stop- San Fransisco-quickly made it through customs, rechecked two bags in and got my tickets- Chatted with some guards, got some food, talked with a few friends. Then off to Dallas. The flight was awful, so much turbulence. It made me sick, but I checked in my two bags (down to Froggy, sticky rice container and a purse) a plus of a full flight.

Fourth stop- Dallas/Ft. Worth- got some food after a long ride. After all I had 4 hours to spare. Remember that sometimes when your stomach hurts it is not because you are hungry. Got kind of sick(spare you details :( ),bought water to feel better and then began browsing the airport for the right gate. After going back and forth between three gates I finally lost it. I started crying pulled out my computer and paid for Internet to call my mom. Don't know if the tears were from exhaustion, sadness, fear of the future or just disorientation or maybe all combined but talks with moms do wonders! Finally found my gate after talking with a few friends on the Internet and waiting 3 hours in front of the sign that has all the gates listed. I planted myself after a lady had been a bit rude to me when I asked a question. I hate it when people are unkind, maybe I just read her wrong(happens sometimes) but you would think if they are worn out they would empathize not terrorize others, oh well...

Almost home one more flight to go..Sometimes parents are so wise it is that power shot down from heaven that little Colton in the book I just finished reading talks about. I believe that power is wisdom from our Father. My mommy said "Don't think about things for a few days, just relax, you can always face them later just pretend that things aren't what they are, at least not yet. Be good to your body till your body can handle it." While I can't put things off forever a few days won't hurt and going to see Michael Buble with mom is also helpful. Gives me something fun to look forward to. Look forward to catching up with many of you these next few weeks!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I am in the process of minimizing things, an ever failing battle for a woman who loves papers! haha! Anyways I found a poem I wrote in the 7th or 8th grade. I wrote it from a child's perspective. Boy did I think I was grown up then, but sometimes it is our childish dreams that help us when we are older. May I never lose the child in me and have faith that moves mountains physically, spiritually and mentally. Father, please help to keep me of sound mind.
Here is the poem:

1. I went up to my daddy,
He often scared me,
But today I had an important question?
And I knew the only one who knew the answer was He

2. I asked my daddy? What do I want to be? His approval was important to me.

3. He looked at me and smiled but before a word was allowed. I blurted out maybe a rap artist who makes lots of sounds or

4. A firefighter who listens for the bell
Who shoots water in the air
Helps people out if they fell (not proper English but hey I was a 7th grader heheh I think maybe I did it on purpose to emphasize innocent child like minds)
Runs up and down the stairs because he or she cares
But then

5. Maybe I'll be a dancer
So graceful and all
But what if only brother Billy and his hamster watch
That would be a terrible fall
So I could be

6. A teacher of those younger or small
I'd read them books
And tell them I love them all
Teach them to count and never give up

7. But maybe that's not it
I could be a zoo keeper
With a parakeet on my shoulder
Nut what if he tells me Sally Sue you are getting older

8. There would be tigers to tame
And lions with beautiful mains and exotic animals galore

9. Oh but daddy I don't know
Which path I should go
And tomorrow in class I must say

10. I want to stand proud
In front of the crowd
Maybe a speaker I'll be
Or the first woman president just wait and see

11. Daddy oh daddy what shall I be?
Then he responded ever so patiently
Oh Sally Sue any of these could be you
Never quit your dreams
It's what's inside you that bears true means

12. I stared confused and he went on
It doesn't matter what you do

13. It's who you are
Uniquely you
I'll be proud as long as you use your strengths

14. Like what I interrupted
He went on
The gifts of love and loyalty you bear
An ability to dream and imagine what is out there
Make the best of whatever you do
And I'll always love you

15. Sally Sue you're my shining star
whether a rapper, firefighter, dancer, teacher, zoo keeper, speaker or president
That is what you are

16. He hugged me and I understood
As an adult today there are no would
Have beens
But only possibilities and coulds

Thank you heavenly father for giving me an earthly father and the reminder that no matter where life takes me you will always love and take care of me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fat or (Dewey)

So in the past few days I have learned that apparently if you sweat a lot it is because you're fat, but if a boy sweats and he is skinny it means he is healthy and strong also that if you are fat it might be because you think too much. I live in such a logical world!!

Tomorrow morning I will go to my friends house dedication ceremony(penny) at 430 am please keep me in your thoughts. I was going to stay with her tonight but I just didn't have the energy. Please lift up that his light will shine through me and that I could continue to speak truth into her life.

P.s-it is pouring down rain and lightning and thundering right now so who knows when I'll get another chance to send this and the power keeps going on and off.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Every tribe tongue and nation will join in song for the Lord

Last night as I sat at a friend's house with 20 0ther people and said goodbye to yet another friend I couldn't help but feel joy and sadness at the same time. Since coming to Laos I have a new found joy in singing hymns and an even greater joy in hearing them in another language. As people sang in Japanese, French, Madagascan, Indonesian, Irish, and a few other languages my heart was full. In such a transient place the Father has brought so many people of different cultures together to walk, talk and live life together. Could I be more blessed? But with this blessing always comes the pain that at some point people return home. Yet still I know I am never alone for He is always by my side.

Father be by my side as I teach today help me to know the best way to communicate your love and educate my students. Thanks for being my redeemer. May I live for you and not myself, loving myself as I am, your daughter. Give me strength to face today and tomorrow. Thanks for not only being my Father but friend for suffering so that I might be set free. May I not too easily forget that it is because of you I am free and that is why I am capable of anything good, for all great things come from the Father above and He gives these to those who love Him. Thanks Father.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

He is so good He's so good to me

Man our Father is so good. He allowed me to see a friend I dearly love two days in a row, have a wonderful conversation with three good friends and one more scheduled for Friday morning and a good chat with my mom. He is slowly but surely calming my anxious heart. Where He leads me I will follow.

Today I go to Pakse ( a city down south) to visit a friend from my first year here that I lived with. She is now married and has a child.Today a good friends sister will take me to the bus station. I can't wait but am also a bit nervous as I travel alone. It is so easy to have up and down's. As friendships drift away I struggle not to be sad whether it is from them or me but I am glad that we can always meet up where we left off. I have had 3 people cancel on me in the last day and a half, makes it difficult to keep trying but must persist. 6 hours with nothing to do maybe rest go for a walk then go to my friends house a bit late b/c she won't even be there.

You see I don't let too many people inside but once I do there is no escaping for you. She is one of the few I let in deep and losing this friendship will hurt if it ever gets to that point, but have I really lost it for good or can it be found? Only our Father knows.

Give me strength for the things of life that boggle me down.

On a random note I noticed that in 3 years I have never written a November post. November and December are always the hardest months emotionally for me. What does that tell you....hmmm????

Monday, April 11, 2011

Letting go of Fear

Vision so clear
Eyes so dear
The red of the wine
The cup from the vine
oh wine wine
so tender so sweet
We meet
The good and the bad
Happy yet sad
My heart filled with tears
Throat chokes back
My head filled with thoughts of years
I can never get back
Yet nothing have I lost
Nothing have I gained
That is visible they say
But so much past
To gain is to lose
The ultimate blast
The clouds above me
Who knows the weather the sky holds
The balloon pushing its way
trying to understand the worlds mold
Path A or B
What do I decide
The rain or the sunshine
The fresh smelling air or the burn
Soon it is my turn
Nothing forgotten
But a feeling of loss
yet not truly losing anything
But gaining the cross
With it I will walk by His side
Father be thy guide
No matter the fear
For though art greater
My dear deer
My dear deer

Lost in Translation

So here are a few of the sentences/phrases that got lost in translation on my student's test.

1. We were learning the difference between homophones (words that sound the same and might even look the same but have different meanings) so they had to write a sentence or a definition to tell me they knew the difference. Here are a few answers they came up with.

Dear- a husband; to mom ; my preesent
Waste-not wise; to spill things up; to use a lot; waste typing; making time unpreciously
Waist-half of the body( the outside); make time slower
Dye- S's mom(so saying a parents name here is like cursing. This particular student can't stand this other kid, doesn't make it right but hey 10-12 year old are mischievous. )
Flour- I can clean the flour?

2. We were working on using indefinite pronouns (someone, anyone, no one, etc). These are the sentences they came up with.

Someone is in the toilet( I got this one a lot)
Can I like somebody?
I want nobody nobody on you (this is from a song but the actual words are I want nobody nobody but you)

So the other day I was trying to learn how to say couple or match and it is the same word as rest but a little different (like so many of Lao words, unfortunately no matter how hard I try they all seem to sound the same). Anyways, it made me laugh 4 expats standing around trying to say it and one Lao person trying to help us understand the difference. I began to laugh because I thought of how funny , if I were Lao, it would probably sound to me and what it would be like if our roles were reversed.

Learning Lao has taught me how to have patience and empathize with my students also to understand why they make the errors they do in English. I am so thankful for laughter, friends, teachers and patience. May I never quit learning until the day I die for there is so much potential in everyone and thing yet to be discovered.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Right and Wrong

So I think a lot about these things and struggle with similarities and differences. Right now the stage of life I am in has so many possibilities but also feels so limited if only I knew the RIGHT possibility. The most glorifying one to my Father but I don't. I screw up daily and the burden wages on me. Why aren't things in his word more black and white? It is because he cares about his creation He wants us to be able to trust in Him on our own just as I want my students to trust that I have their best interest in mind and am okay with them questioning things if it means that they have further understanding of the subject to which they are studying.

As I was reading today about grace and mercy(click here) and trying to remember the difference I came across this revelation. We can have grace even if we are good but mercy only comes after having done something wrong. Grace has nothing to do with our actions and everything to do with His but mercy has everything to do with our actions and then his forgiveness.Mercy is more me focused where Grace is more Father centered, at least that is what I understood.

Today I also watched something that really got me thinking. It is so easy to be legalistic and have all or nothing but that is not how our Father sees things He gives us choices because He trust us. It's okay to have or do things as long as they never overcome our love or replace our love for Him. He will protect us if we listen and follow Him. Even those that don't know Him can sometimes say or do profound things. As long as I am not rewriting His word and cautious as I proceed with things in life He will take care of me no matter how hard the road ahead seems He knows me better than I will ever know myself and in His hands tonight I rest.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How do I love Thee

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways. Not very well I must say. These past two weeks we have been studying love and wow how much I thought I loved to how much I really love and what I love. I love Saint Francis words in this song below.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love;
Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;
And where there's doubt true faith in you.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there's despair in life let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, only light;
And where there's sadness, ever joy.


Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving to all men that we receive;
And in dying that we're born to eternal life.


The chorus is his prayer(I think?) but all the words are wonderful. Lately I have felt (maybe it is a bit cynical) that while Japan does need our help (don't get me wrong) it is so easy to forget our neighbors and hide behind the worlds problems and never face our own or help those around us. While I do believe we should be helping Japan I also believe that we need to be more aware of those around us. I was always taught if we cannot reach out to those closest to us (whether emotionally or literal proximity) how can we reach out to the world. I am coming out of a hard time (at least I hope) but know so many more who are in one and wonder who will be there channels if not the body?

I encourage you to ask one person (whom you feel comfortable asking) how can I lift you up today or ask the Father to put someone on your heart for we are all in need of a friend sometimes whether in Laos, New Zealand, America, Africa,Japan or anywhere else scattered throughout the nations may you feel the Lord's presence and may your heart be touched with peace that passes understanding.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lyrics and Limericks

So I know I am not very good at updating this but am trying to be better and you might be thinking two posts in one day! Really? But it is worth it you see today I had my students write in their journals (they do this every day I am the only one who reads them though they are quite funny sometimes) anyways they had to write their favorite song down and why. Usually they scoff and scowl but today no complaints. Upon reading them I found it interesting. Why does music capture every one's soul and in such different ways? A song that has come to mind lately for me is

If I could just sit with you awhile by Mercy Me it goes like this:

If I could just sit with You awhile, If You could just hold me, Nothing can touch me,though I'm wounded though I died If I could just sit with You awhile, I need You to hold me, Moment by moment 'till forever passes by

When I can not feel, When my wounds don't heal, Lord I humbly kneel, Hidden in You, Lord you are my life, So I don't mind to die, Just as long as I, Am hidden in You

If I could just sit with You awhile, If You could just hold me, Nothing can touch me,though I'm wounded though I died If I could just sit with You awhile, I need You to hold me, Moment by moment 'till forever passes by

When I know I have sinned, and I could have been, Crying out my God, and hidden in you ,Lord I need you now, more than I know how, so I humbly bow, hidden in you

If I could just sit with You awhile, If You could just hold me, Nothing can touch me,though I'm wounded though I died If I could just sit with You awhile, I need You to hold me, Moment by moment 'till forever passes by, moment by moment 'till forever passes by,moment by moment 'till forever passes by

SO why do these lyrics speak to me? The only consistently in life is change that and my Father. I am such a touchy feelly person living in a non-emotional world that I need that sensation. I actually crave it sometimes just to feel close to something. Life with the Father isn't easy but I truly believe Edith Wharton was a wise women when she said "Where there is great love there is always miracles." If nothing else Laos has taught me this and although I don't always get the results I desire He delivers more than I could ask for

I have been reading Chronicles of Avon lea (actually listening to them) and oh how I wish I had all the wonder of Anne. I do cherish her thoughts and innocence or rather purity and bias. Today it rained. I love the smell I even said

" I love the smell of rain. It's just so glorious. I think if it always smelled like rain every day I could never be sad because it's too wonderful of a thing to be sad over." this with Anne in mind(not rain itself but the smell)

Another random quote from the night "Occasionally I discover America"

In closing I love music for it pricks at my very soul just like little Felix with his violin he played what he felt by those he was around so music evokes, represents, helps us to express our moods in ways we might not be able to ourselves verbally just like writing, prose and poems do for me .
I talk a lot but I often fumble over my words it is only in writing that I actually find clarity and have confidence.

Thank you Father for the rain. Rain of soul. Season of Rain. The bitter sweet hurt of Pain. The understanding I may never gain but know I am hidden in You! Thanks so much for this blessing and that of Internet. A story for another day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life apart from life but life none the less

Wow! Right now I am at an extremely intense point in my life. Not that I'm not usually intense but more than normal. I have so many thoughts circling inside my brain like a spider web falling apart then rebuilding itself only to see another gap in the design I have made , wondering what pattern He is trying to create. But I will not give into this world and its pressures for He is on my side.

I love Laos but I miss my family dearly. I have given up facebook for lent in order to spend more time in my Father's arms. I need to feel wrapped in His presence like never before. Life is full of tough moments. Do I eat the flies or let them go? Is it a butterfly appearing or just another worm? Right now honestly I don't know but I do know He has been good to me and is good even if I don't comprehend the chain ahead of me. I will try to update this every week if not ever other. Feel free to follow along in my journey out of the abyss and into the peace of the heaven on earth.

Please be praying for

~Clarity in my future and that during these next six weeks I would grow in my love for Him and others in a way that I never thought possible. That my heart would stay mold able, teachable, humble and not fall into temptation but delivered from evil for my kingdom is on earth right now and to my ruler be the glory at the end of this battle I wage inside.

~That my path would be straightened-Father thanks for saving me even though I do not understand why you would choose such a wretch like me and allow others to die, but I do know you are good and just and this I must accept for I will never fully grasp your ways but I will acknowledge you Father. Please make my path straight.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Trust

Oh morose eyes filled with tears

This path is yours

The hands clap and cheer

But oh heart

Oh head

Which one is alive
Which one is dead

The waves crash

From the sea

Every direction turning me

Make me straight

Like a line


This rope is thine

I am letting go

Trusting you

Such a scary thing to do

So take this cynical young girl

Mold her world

Give her strength

Courage of mind

Understanding of things divine

Wisdom that does not hinder

For you are my Creator

My Mender

But also my Sender

Send me where I cannot hide

The love you have instilled inside

For I know whether here or there

No matter the pain of battle

Ubiquitously you are always aware

Thank you that you care

About everything I share

For though I often feel worthless

You make me a saint

And in your awe as a princess I faint

Weak but strong

Forever long

Your child amongst children

May I not forget

No matter how sick the world

Make I seek not to live in regret

For my life is yours

The steer you command

Right now I just ask Father

Please hold my hand

Oh hold my hand

Fire or Valley

River or Spring

My Creator

My All

My Everything