Monday, June 17, 2013

A Pair of Shoes

"Let me tell you what it is like to live in Kenya," he said, smiling.  In an instant we were swept up into his world, where there are no cars, hamburgers, or laptops.  "How many of you are wearing shoes?" he asked, looking under the tables at everyone's feet.  "You all have shoes!  How many do you have?  One pair?  Two pairs?  Three pairs?!"  I was afraid he'd turn to me and ask me how many pairs of shoes I have.  I wasn't sure how many, but I knew that it was a lot.  (I just counted them. Seventeen pairs of shoes.)

Suddenly I was fixed on every word he was saying, because I knew that as this pastor described the place he lived, he was sharing something truly important -- something I had never known and could not understand.  One pair of shoes.

I am not a shoe fanatic.  I am just a girl, living in America, in a middle class family.  I have shoes for church, for soccer, for winter, for mud, for water, for snow, and going to the store.  That is normal, isn't it?  But to a man in Kenya, it is inconceivable.

He spoke of more than shoes.  He spoke of children walking ten miles to school each day, and the how some of them are lost to roaming lions and elephants that cross their path.  Or crocodiles, if the children have to cross a river, sweep them away and they are never seen again.  Sometimes black mambas drop from the ceilings of schools, and children die from their deadly bite.  He told us of owning the only car in his village.  He's the guy who takes sick people to the hospital in the middle of the night.  He's the guy who shows up the hospital with a sick woman in his arms, and sees that there is no doctor on staff that night.  And he sits there, and watches her die.

No medicine, no clean water, no doctors or nurses, no hope.  I don't how to function in that kind of place.  But the thing is, Mr. Titus didn't cry.  He didn't speak to us in deep sorrow, or try to gain our sympathy.  Most of the time, he was smiling.  Even when talking about poverty and death, he smiled.  Partly that was because that is his environment.  It's what he deals with on a daily basis, and he is used to it, if it is possible to be used to such things.  But mostly, it was because he was on fire for God.  Mr. Titus has planted of thirty churches in Kenya.  He wasn't at my youth group to make us reach for or wallets and purses to give him money.  He wanted to challenge us to live with a different perspective.

Even though, by American standards, I don't have all that much, by world standards, I am wealthy.  I have a savings account, a house, a family, running water, and a high school education.  College isn't out reach for me, a job paying me more than $100 dollars a month is open to me (that is all Mr. Titus's wife makes a month as a school teacher), and a bright future is waiting for me.  But what am I going to do with it?  We, as young people in the United States, do so little.  We don't see, we don't hear, or taste, or touch the deep, empty despair of poverty like so many people our age around the world.

Mr. Titus challenged us to take this enormous blessing that we'd been given and use it to bless others.  We don't need to consume it all on ourselves.  We can change the lives of others, even with the little that we think we have.  God has blessed us beyond measure, and we are only His stewards of it.  Now we need to give it away to the world.

By the way, my sister happens to be advocating for a Kenyan girl in the Compassion sponsorship program.  You can read about her at Lizzie's blog, if you like.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lots and Lots of Questions

My dear Sister and Rebecca both nominated me for an award!  Yeah!

This award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It also has to do with the magic number 11.  Personally, I haven't found 11 to be very magical, but whoever created this award apparently liked it very much.

     Thank the person that gave you the award
     Post the picture on your blog
     Share 11 random facts about yourself
     Answer 11 questions given to you by the award-er
     Award 11 bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers
     Give them 11 questions to answer
     No tagging people back :)

So, here are 11 things about me:
1. I've always wanted a pet skunk.  Unfortunately, it is illegal to own a skunk in my state.  I am trying to convince my parents to move to Ohio.
2. Knitting is one of my favorite things to do.  I especially like to knit Estonian lace projects like this --
3. I have discovered that I do not like Japanese tea very much.  My cousin's girlfriend visited from Japan earlier this year.  She gave some tea to my grandparents and they shared it with me.  I found it really bitter, unfortunately.  I think my, non-Japanese, favorite type of tea is either peach or chocolate mint.
4. My family thinks I am extremely odd because I am so often cold.  It can be 75 degrees Fahrenheit and I'd still be cold some days.  Apparently my doctor thinks that that is normal, because he hasn't hospitalized me yet.
5. I enjoy writing research papers.
6. I do not like writing lists about myself.
7. I enjoy running a tripod camera at my church.  There are seven of them (it's a large church!) and it's such a privilege to be able to serve there!
8. My favorite books are old, classic ones -- The Moonstone, The Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Scottish Chief... the thicker the better.
9. I am (hopefully) getting my driver's license soon!!!
10. I enjoy going hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, kayaking, and camping.  I do not enjoy daddy long legs, black bears, the cold, and mud.
11.  Eleven is a lot more than I thought it was.

And now for the questions -- I'm combining all of the ones from Lizzie and Rebecca, so there may be more than eleven:

 1. Describe yourself in 8 words or less.
     Let's see... wait -- does that count as a word?  Umm...
2. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?     Loving Jesus and trusting completely in Him only
3. Who has had the most impact on your life and why?     My mom.  She always has practical advice for every situation and she encourages me.  Not only that, but she's always there for me and helps me with everything I could possibly need.
4. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be and why?     Nunavut -- because who doesn't want to be in a polar climate?
5. What is your favorite TV show (or movie) and why?    Let's see... movie would have to be Voyage of the Dawn Treader, TV show is Psych. 
6. What is the best compliment you have ever received?    I don't know if it's really a compliment, but when Lizzie says such sweet things about me on her blog and when she calls me her best friend.   
7. What is your most memorable letter you have ever received?      I received a letter from Rosa (my Compassion girl) several months ago, and she said she wanted me to visit her because she loved me so much!  My heart just melted.
8.  Who is the most important person in your life?     It may seem cliche, since Lizzie said the same thing, but Lizzie really is the most important person in my life.  We go just about everywhere together and have so many awesome memories.  She's someone I can talk to and share with, and I know I could trust her with anything.
9. What would you do with a million dollars?     I would give it away!  Who needs a million dollars anyway?
10. What is your favorite memory?     My favorite memory is going to a campground near the St. Lawrence River.  My mom and sisters and I would go driving around, exploring long, winding roads, and visiting Amish stands together.  Plus, I went fishing with my dad and saw lots of beautiful sunsets on the water with him.
11. What is the most encouraging thing that you have ever been told and have you shared it with others?

     When someone tells me they love my artwork or enjoyed listening to me play the piano.  It encourages me so much to know that they appreciate the hard work I've put into those things.
12. Who do you relate the most to in the Bible and why?
     Peter.  He had such a great heart for God and others, but sometimes he just got confused or sidetracked and things didn't go so well for him.  But Jesus still took him back!
13. If you got to "make a wish" and spend one day doing anything, what would you do?

     Hmmm... I would go visit my Compassion children, Ricky and Rosa, in the Dominican Republic.
14. If you had to choose a completely different career/life path, what would you do?

     Well, I don't have a career, so that's a difficult question!  I guess if I couldn't go to college for graphic design, I would want to become a music therapist.
15. List the guests from your dream dinner party.

     TobyMac, Emily Dickinson, Wes Stafford, Meridith Andrews, Lisa McKay...
16. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

     The ability to be invisible.  How awesome would that be?
17. What makes you laugh? 

     Children.  They can be so adorable :)

I've had a little difficulty coming up with blogs to pass this award onto.  Most of the ones I follow have over 200 followers!  But, here are a couple that I would like to share this award with:

     Selects Wool and Flax
     Mindy in South Sudan
     Kisses from Katie

Some of these ladies are missionaries in other countries and probably can't accept the award by writing a post about it, but you should check out their blogs anyway!  They are such an encouragement to me.

Now for their questions:

1. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
2. Who do you relate the most to in the Bible and why?
3. What makes you laugh? 
4. What is your favorite verse(es) of Scripture?
5. Favorite Singer/band?
6. List the guests from your dream dinner party.
7. How many places have you lived, and which was your favorite?
8. What is your favorite memory?
9. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be and why?
10. Who has had the most impact on your life and why?
11. What is your favorite season?

Thanks guys!  This post has been a lot of fun for me, I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When it gets Messy

Hey, guys! So yeah, I know, yell at me all you want... I haven't posted in a while. But, anyway...

When I exercise, I like getting really sweaty. You know why? Because nothing feels better than jumping into a pool after your muscles are sore, and you're hot and, well... messy. That process of all of it, being washed off, of being surrounded by clean water. It feels awesome.

Sometimes, our lives get messy, too. Trust me, I've been there. Recently, even. It's hard, when you feel like you don't belong. When you feel like you've drained out all of your resources. When you feel like you can't ask for anything more out of other people, or they'll get mad and stop talking to you. Like no matter how hard you try, you just can't make things better.

Well, that's because we can't make things better.

We, as sinful human beings, are incapable of doing anything but making big, dirty messes. That's why Jesus isn't a want... He's a need. Our hearts long for the type of acceptance and forgiveness that only He can offer. He holds us in His hand and never, ever lets go. And I'm telling you right now, you're not going to find perfection in any other relationship. People will let you down, and you'll do the same to them. They will give you faulty advice, they will stop caring.

But Jesus won't. 

He came to this earth, because we have messes. Because He longs to heal us and make us holy. I realized the other day... why wasn't I talking to Jesus about my struggles? He is the well that never runs dry. When we're all sweaty, He's that pool that will wash us clean. 

So jump in. It's beautiful inside. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Love the Way You Hold Me

Several months ago I blogged about God being our holy Lover.  It's something I deeply believe is a fundamental truth, and sometimes I think Christians overlook it as part of God's character.  It is an easy thing to do -- I constantly forget that not only does God love me as Father, but He also loves me as Bridegroom.  Usually this term is used when referring to God's love for His people as a group, but I also think that it can be applied to each individual believer, too.

This song by Jamie Grace is beautiful, and it expresses this feeling so well!  It reminds me that all I could want in a boyfriend/husband is right there -- present in Jesus, the only One who can love me fully.