Firsts

  1. First time away from my family over the Christmas holidays
  2. First time sunbathing in December
  3. First time I ever hosted a storybook character costume party
  4. First time I ever made bacon ice cream (don’t knock it – I got the recipe from some hoity-toity French chef and I’ll add that I got pretty much all rave reviews)
  5. First time attending Christmas Eve service in Spanish… and having a special prayer time at the end for two elderly ladies from the church who were kidnapped
  6. First time eating Christmas dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve
  7. First time celebrating many holiday moments via skype
  8. First time hosting a visitor in a foreign country for one of the most precious holidays
  9. First time (in Honduras) jamming out in the car to all sorts of songs with someone who DOESN’T think I’m crazy for doing so
  10. First time crafting almost every single gift I gave for Christmas (also the first time I worried like crazy that the recipients wouldn’t understand my artistic ideas and appreciate them enough to not throw away the hours it took to make them!)
  11. First time I witnessed in the craziest display of fireworking power in the hands of pubescent boys with gasoline and lighters and an awkwardly stuffed straw man who was blown to smithereens at the stroke of midnight… to celebrate the New Year
  12. First time the streets of Tegucigalpa were not bumper to bumper (for the entire holidays most of the roads were like a ghost town)
  13. First time I picked up a visitor in the afternoon from the airport and then didn’t let him sleep until 2 am … and then wake him up 2 hours later for our bus trip to the next country over.
  14. First time I achieved 7:47 on my first of four miles on the treadmill! I can thank my high school friend Joelle for this one. I have no idea why, but when I saw she ran a mile in 7:47 it became my goal to make that my first mile, but still run it at intervals. I know this doesn’t make any sense to anyone … but I was so excited!
  15. First time trying out my new treadmill moves (see Patrick Swayze post)
  16. First time returning to school from vacation feeling like I needed a vacation… and at least three days to re-adjust my body’s clock from 3 am to 10 pm bedtimes.
  17. First time (probably in the history of man) that two people started to completely randomly sing this same line at the same time, prompted by nothing in particular, “you get a line, I’ll get a pole, we’ll go fishing in the crawfish pole…” Two brains can actually be random and weird at the same time!
  18. First time realizing how beautiful it is to have someone from one world I love walk around in another world I love equally as much.
  19. First time truly appreciating the power of family tradition and the importance of presence.
  20. First time I had people packing “to go” boxes from the spread of baked goods at my party.
  21. First time in a long while that I started an finished a nice, lengthy book in a few days.
  22. First time taking Nertz to a whole new level: I played in almost every eating establishment open late over Christmas in Tegucigalpa, in at least three places in El Salvador, with students in my house and in public places, individual and groups, and even outside. Oh! and did I mention I have a Nertz Christmas ornament? I do!

Okay, I know if I go on it will get boring. If I get a list out of the way, I generally am more likely to start writing for real. And I know there is at least one person out there (ahem, Hilda) who will keep asking me every day until I get back into the habit.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

sophia means wisdom

I wrote this for the past newsletter and thought now was an appropriate time to post as a blog entry. This past week has been hard. Hard and good. It feels like this piece is just as appropriate today as it was a month ago. Not surprising, I suppose.

 

Maybe it’s the early darkness in the evening or the brisk whip of the breeze… Maybe it’s my imagination of ocean in the air or maybe it is because at this time of year we are all looking for a safe harbor. For whatever reason, my soul’s compass is scanning the shoreline. Whether I’m careening across placid waters in the early morning or waging war against waves in the middle night, my heart is heavy with need.

At times, it feels like I’m bailing out water in the middle of a downpour with a colander. Other times, I rush the bow to flail my arms wide, trying to take in all the beauty at once. What fails to change with emotions or season or temperament, is need.

If I’ve learned anything in my (just recently celebrated) twenty-six years and in my two and a half years here in Honduras, I have certainly learned life is unpredictable. In so many ways, the unpredictability thrills me, like what a ship’s captain must have felt at the start of a journey. This uncertainty also leads me, sometimes gasping for air, straight to the One who holds all things together, singing my favorite song of this season, “Jesus, Savior, Pilot me.”

Reading through 1 Samuel has trained my eyes once again to see God’s faithfulness illuminated against whatever treachery the high seas might heave my way. What I find so beautiful about both the song and the story of King David is very simple: history.

Every single day David crept about in the wilderness, hiding in caves and seeking refuge in foreign cities, God hemmed him in with history. From the intimate times in the mountains as a shepherd to the lop-sided duel with a giant, God’s character remained perfect and unchanged. As David feared for his life and spears flew just shy of his ears, he was keenly aware of his need to depend on God and trust He would be faithful.

My favorite lines in the hymn are several verses down,

“Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”

What David learned in his desperate days he brought with him into the calmer, halcyon hours. In the same way that our need of a Savior never changes, God’s place as Savior is forever.

God is ever behind and before us, not contained by time or our understanding or physical place. God is altogether outside of the evil crashing up against the sides of our vessel, yet intentionally and intimately involved in our safe passage and final destination.

It is history that reminds us of God’s gift of our beginning breaths, of our failure and God’s faithfulness, of our rebellion and God’s invitation to repentance. It is history that boasts the best and only hope in view of our ever-pressing need… a Savior.

I love these stories we carry around like mental felt boards, ready at any moment to reassure us of both our heritage and our inheritance. When we are caught unaware amid boisterous waves or settled back on our haunches, it is history that assures us that no captain ever possessed more power to truly say, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

please, let’s

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

social networks; freedom networks

Dalit girl, Andhra Pradesh, India
Image via Wikipedia

Thanks again to social networking, I’m making more amazing connections. Yesterday, via Twitter, I talked with The CO, a band who shares a love for Honduras (Troy came here in July) and also a love for living a life redeemed with a purpose to restore. The band promotes the Dalit Freedom Network through their music and presence on Brite Revolution. I love how they are using the gifts God has given them to make louder the call to respond to the broken.

The Dalit Freedom Network works in India to restore the dignity and freedom of the lowest caste (Dalits).

This is the kind of thing that gets me excited on a Tuesday… social networking that supports freedom networking.

Seems to me like it

lets LOVE fly like CrAzY

unplugged

Street in Tegucigalpa city centre, Honduras
Image via Wikipedia

Wow. What a weekend!

I continue to surprise myself at my own tendency for disorganization. I left my keys at work after conferences and my computer on the school bus on the way home. I’ve overlapped about 10 plans this weekend and have succeeded at about two. I am using a friend’s computer to assure you (in case you are staying up late at night wondering) that I’m still keeping it real here in Tegucigalpa… and the October newsletter is almost ready to post!

I do want to report that “God’s heifer,” (read here, bottom paragraph) as my mom has been calling it, resulted in a hefty check that I get to spread around the ministries here like a heaping spoonful of creamy peanut butter. It is truly a gift to watch God’s provision shared amongst those who depend on Him!

Today, I’m doing some reading and baking for the Micah Project folks. Hope to go for a run to clear all the dysfunctional cobwebs hanging out in my brain!

let LOVE fly like cRAzY

something to shout about

Today my world both shrunk (in the global village sense) and exploded (in the opportunity sense) and I am practically bursting with excitement.

In the span of a few hours, I somehow connected some intercontinental dots and I’m now finding myself in very beautiful company. I’ve written before about the beauty of friendships drawing out things we never knew we were hiding. In the past, this crazy exchange of joyful energy has happened in a very close-knit group of friends (which is, I’m sure, the kind of crowd to which C.S. Lewis is referring).

Today, something very strange happened. Today, I felt that same joy leap inside me in response to a circle of friends connected through this funny thing called the internet in different countries and states altogether.

Here I am, in Honduras, trying to stay hip and creative and on some undefined artistic edge while working with two drastically different populations in a country more known for its airport landing strip, drug problems, and coffee than artistic movements. I fail pretty regular with the hip/creative/artistic edge routine, but I don’t mind because whatever comes out in the process is inspired by the people I’m rubbing shoulders with everyday.

So, back to that strange leap of joy earlier today. Thanks to two social networking sites, I found myself tweeting, direct messaging and emailing two fabulous organizations.

LOVE IN STEREO is all about “uniting people behind causes and social good using art, artists and fans.” When I found their site awhile back, the words “cause,” “social good,” and “art” immediately captured my attention. I’ve followed them ever since… well, in a twitter/email subscription sense. Today, through some twitter exchanges, I got beyond excited about the possibility of being more than just an admirer in their efforts.

ELEMENTAL PROJECT is using their “website and digital magazines as platforms to showcase positive stories, and promote cause based businesses, charities, and individuals who are actively helping others.” Whoa – super intense! I stumbled upon them through an acquaintance from college and I am so impressed by their commitment to make this explosion in social media and technology matter for the people who need it most.

I wonder what C.S. Lewis would say about internet-induced joyful episodes. Well, in any case, there is some beautiful potential staring back from this calendar day and I intend to claim it! I now have new friends in Michigan and Tennessee and if our inspirational conversations can’t happen around a local brew, they just might percolate over these internet waves.

And that is alright by me.

Monday are YUMdays!

MONDAYS are YUMDAYS

I love Mondays. No, really. I LOVE Mondays.

You think I’m kidding, but today sealed the deal. Here are some of the things today that overflowed my cup:

 

 

  1. I drove to school instead of rode the bus, which perfectly placed about 8.5 extra minutes to spend with David in 1 Samuel
  2. I ran out of coffee filters at my house, but savored a Vanilla Chai tea… delicious start!
  3. I met the day with uncharacteristic (before coffee), silly joy and greeted students with grand gestures and lopsided smiles.
  4. During our mid-morning break, I was heading back from an errand in the administration building, secretly hoping two certain, special students would be waiting in my office… and THEY WERE. I think I scared them with my loopy-ness and laughter, but I don’t care. I love it when I find students in my office… especially when the special ones appear!
  5. CHAPEL happens Monday and today was such a blessing! I am sure many of the seniors won’t admit it, but they want to know about hearing God’s voice. That was exactly the message!
  6. Then, I got to counsel one of my favorite students using a SWEET analogy about records playing in our heads. Sometimes we’ve let the record of lies steal the show and we listen to it over and over and start to believe all the foolishness it plays. We’ve got to put that sweet record called Truth on stat and then you better believe we’re gonna speak and act out of that life-giving overflow! I’ll admit, my favorite part was connecting it to a Corinne Bailey Rae song, “Put Your Records On” because every time I saw her I broke out into singing.
  7. I love that THIS was shown to remember our time at the SLEEPout!
  8. then…(drumroll) it’s MONDAY so that means culinary collision with two of my favorite ladies! I seriously can’t explain how beautiful and brilliant these girls are… so I won’t try. Just read this blogpost and you’ll get a little taste of the night (not a real taste, but a cyber-ish one:).
  9. I love praying in my car on the way back from Monday baking dates. Shoot, and I just have to say again how much I love these amazing high school girls. They may/may not be changing my life (mostly may).
  10. I may/may not have consumed too much caffeine today (mostly may), which means I might be up writing for awhile!

I hope you are going to

let LOVE fly like CRAZY

with a wink and a smile

I’m not sure why, but this song was playing in my head as I sat down to write today. I just lunched on my version of a Honduran staple – baleadas (substitute wheat tortilla, take out salty cheese, add salsa) – and now I sit helplessly waiting to hear back from students who are probably sleeping and completely unaware that my afternoon plans somewhat hinge on their replies.

In the meanwhile, I want to bring you up-to-date on some of the happenings here. In my typical, completely disconnected fashion, I’m giving it to you straight today about baking, meanings of words, and a strange desire to start a movement.

LovE CakE!

I’m still marinating on this idea of baking and sweetness and life and tasting … yesterday was the last day of chapel and I spent the morning hours (prior to 6:30 departure) baking up some serious pumpkin gobs with butter/cream cheese frosting. A week of creative treats for the seniors who bring their Bibles to chapel almost wore me right out, but there is a beautiful, redeeming quality to what some women painfully label a chore.

This redeeming quality to laboring in the kitchen is not the look on people’s faces when they eat your hard-won creation (though I’ve found I often make them eat it in front of me so I can see a reaction) nor is it the exclamations of delight and the serious battle for second helpings. The redeeming quality is an empty tupperware at the end of the day.

I (quite haphazardly) stumble onto the school bus in the morning in professional garb, toting a backpack and the familiar tupperware container with secret treats. By the time I get to school, I usually have frosting or chocolate or some unknown ingredient stuck to some inconvenient place. But, back to redeeming qualities…

The tupperware goes out from the house full and comes back empty. Every single one of the little, labored-over creations has found its place and that knowledge only finds me right back in the kitchen to make it happen again. What joy! Check out this video that my friend Kasey Miller (who, by the way, is one of my favorite inspirations in the kitchen!!) shared… this will make you want to LOVE CAKE too!

gracia and gracias

So, my word study on “pan” and “paneh” might have failed, but I’m very interested in the connection between the Spanish words, “Gracias” (thank you) and “gracia” (grace) and I think this will lead to something more conclusive. Both words are derived from the Latin root “gratus,” which means “beloved,” “agreeable,” “favorable,” and “pleasing.”

I was originally interested because at the Micah Project sometimes we just spend time in prayer thanking God for His character. Many times, this will come up, “Señor, gracias por tu gracia!” Maybe no one else takes notice or thinks it odd, but whenever I hear that, I wonder about the strange and beautiful connection between gratitude and grace. When we say thank you, we are responding to an action or a gift or something we have received. Gratitude is what happens (or should happen) after receiving something good. We feel strange accepting a gift or complement without giving something back, so we express our gratitude by saying, “Thank you.”

Here is where I get really interested… why do we use almost the exact same word to describe unmerited favor? The Miriam-Webster dictionary (and many Christians) gives the first definition for grace to mean what is received from God and that which allows one to have faith in what Christ did on the cross.

So – back to that Latin. If the Latin says, “pleasing, beloved, agreeable,” and “favorable,” why am I stuck on these two words? Well, if we say “thank you” because we have received something, that person or persons have become (in some way) beloved or agreeable to us. What is AMAZING is that we have done absolutely nothing to please or become favorable in God’s sight. Even our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but God called us “beloved” and showed us “favor,” though we came with nothing to deserve this response.

WOW!

starting a movement

Everybody is making movements these days, so I thought I would throw in my two cents about what deserves “movement” status. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting here waiting for a student to tell me if she does/doesn’t want to meet for coffee (though she told me for sure yesterday) or maybe it’s because I’ve been around young people long enough to know commitments are … fluid at best and often motivated by bad information.

So, I’d like to start a movement. The movement will be called, “we care and follow through with things that matter.” I know – it’s not very catchy right now, but I think I could hire some serious PR and those flaky kids would really start jumping on board. Well… they would jump on board if the message was so diluted no one knew exactly what kind of movement they were joining. But, they would join for sure, eventually. And, by that time the whole purpose of said movement would be moot (case in point).

That’s my point.

It is very easy to get kids fired up about things (there are many, many broken things to bemoan in this world) and very hard to get kids fired up about searching serious answers followed up by serious action. I’m not talking extreme, here, folks. I actually think things get extreme when we get distracted by flashy PR campaigns and people telling us what is important and what to do about it.

I guess it would be refreshing to see a youth movement with, as my high school history teacher used to say, “fire in its belly.” Everything from coffee dates to mission trips to environmental debates would be informed by something solid – something true and absolute and transformational. Let me know if you know of one and I’ll scrap the whole idea.

strange day explained

It’s 9:32 pm.

I’ve got dream bars in the oven (with a variation that has me puzzled about cooking time), I’m munching on tortillas with sun-dried tomato hummus (the strangest before-bedtime snack I’ve ever been a part of), and I’m looking at what I picked up at the grocery store: fake milk in a box, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, pumpkin, and oatmeal (wondering why these are my first purchases after paycheck), and I’m thinking it’s a strange day.

Oh, well. I’m sure you have those days too. Nothing especially wrong or out of place, but you feel like you are moving around in someone else’s skin and it’s just uncomfortable. At this point, all of you who haven’t felt this way have at least one eyebrow raised. Which, I guess, is kind of my point.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything I want to do or read or hear or say or know and I go into overload mode. Hm. I imagine this is what a baby bird might feel when it first discovers its wings. There are so many endless possibilities – so many adventures and birdies to adventure with and trees and clouds and…

then there’s that typical picture of the not-yet-ready-for-flight
birdie falling clumsily from the nest.

There’s no better way to explain than to give a few examples, so here they are in NO particular order:

  • I really want to know if there is a connection in the Hebrew word “paneh,” which means presence and the Spanish word “pan,” which means bread. We’re studying the story of David right now and when he ran from Saul he stopped and asked for bread from a priest who only had holy bread on hand. This bread was called “paneh” because it was the bread of the Presence. I thought, how neat would it be if there was a connection because Christ (the Word) became physically present and is the bread of life. I have searched and can’t make sense of etymologies in several languages… The farthest I got led me to some Polish explanation of Mr. and Mrs. (which is pan/pani).
  • At what point are liberties counterproductive in recipes? I mean, a little more butter, flour, and sugar would naturally just increase quantity, no? And peanut butter always adds value, right? Tomorrow we will find out! I’m sincerely hoping that my scheme to encourage “Taste and see the Lord is good” (Ps. 38:4) leads them to understand GOD is what the need to taste! (More joy and satisfaction, less tummy-ache!)
  • Why does pride always wiggle its way into the category of “self-preservation”? That is a lie through and through.
  • I hope with every hope in my heart baking becomes drastically cheaper.
  • I have been reading an absolutely amazing book called, “Competent to Counsel” by Jay E. Adams and I love how he challenges the excuses we make for personality by saying, “It’s just who I am.” We are in a sanctification process, here, folks – there’s no settling for “just who I am.” So, I started to wonder (out loud) about how I should change my personality… what needs refining? I was wondering this and talking to my friend Sarah, when all of a sudden I wondered if I could still do the splits. I paused, slinkered down as far as I could and then popped back up above the countertop and said, “not quite.” She burst out laughing and then she said, “More of that. You should definitely change your personality to include more splits.” I don’t know…
  • There’s this student. She is amazing, beautiful, inspiring and God is transforming her right in front of my eyes. I’ve never had a front row seat to something so spectacular! I mean, here I am, sitting next to her just listening to her talk with such seriousness about faith and plans. But, it’s not just fluffy, future talk. This girl is making it happen in her life the way some kids can only make it happen at summer camp or youth conferences. I’m just thinking, “What’s up with this?” God is SO amazing to be working and restoring and growing such a beautiful heart! And I get to watch? WOW!
  • I’ve got Asia on the brain and I don’t know why.
  • I want to read and understand and memorize the Heidelberg Catechism… and then try to start understanding what Bach has to do with it (thanks Justin Taylor for planting that seed in my already crazy day!).
  • I want like crazy to sew an owl costume right up for Halloween, but I’m not sure where I would go with it… which makes me want to have a costume party at my house, which reminds me of the mammoth weekend of 4 am sushi-making chaos that is barely a week behind.
  • There’s a crazy urgency in me to take each of these seniors by their ALP uniform shirt and shake them a little bit (friendly, of course) to make sure they know how much I love ’em and how important it is for them to know how much more MASSIVE God’s love is for them. I just want them to get it, as my Dad used to say.
  • I talked to my mom on Sunday and she added the greatest news – Dad finally sold the calf that was the Lord’s! I know it sounds strange… in fact, every single person I told today asked for a repeat. Buying and selling calves makes absolutely no sense to people outside the farming/cattle industry and that’s okay. What you should probably understand is the way God is using my Dad’s hobby operation to bless people around the globe. This time, he gave the calf to the Lord and said the money would go to Honduras. What joy I had as I wrote in a large sum under the current total of money raised by the sleepout. Praise the Lord!!

Oh, boy. Now do you understand a teensy bit more? My brain is like a crazy factory! It makes crazy all day, non-stop! I think I should tone down on the coffee.

It’s now 10:17 pm and I hope this day found you less strangely inclined.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this is an example of some serious STRANGE happening!


 

News and Updates

Well, friends, I think I successfully imported my old blog posts from Musings of a Foreign Heart to this wordpress blog. It was … surprisingly easy. I just had to find the button! I’m a little sad to see that electronic “leaf” officially turned, because it was my beginning as a blogger. I’m sure I’ll recover.

I finally finished my September Newsletter (in October) and so I wanted to use this post to kind of explain all the functions and buttons and drop-down menus of this new blog. I’m excited to offer more information about some of the ministries I have the privilege to work with and also provide a more accessible way to link to newsletters.

At the top of the page, you’ll see the the categories. You can click on each one to find out more. Several of the buttons have drop down menus, so don’t be afraid to check those out as well.

I’ll use this post as an example – there is now a NEW newsletter posted under Honduran Horizon newsletters. It’s the September edition. If the pull-down menus confuse you, here is the link.

So, you should check that out… and then hop on over to some of the other pages – especially the Honduras ministries!

Please leave questions and comments about what is confusing or annoying or delightful 🙂

I’m just trying to

let LOVE fly like CRAZY

monday: from bizarre to brilliant

You may not believe it, but Mondays are capable of bizarre to brilliant status.

When you start the day off with your clothes on backwards, you have to wonder how things are going to go down. Add to that a proclivity for post-weekend depression (especially after one so beautiful), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Monday morning disaster!

It’s pushing 10 pm right now and I won’t hesitate in saying this Monday shone brilliantly! I want to pack it neatly into a pretty package and send it to you, so your day might open just as wonderfully, but since I cannot this list will have to suffice. I know all of these elements are a result of God‘s great goodness (and in spite of me), so maybe your Mondays can sparkle too!

REASONS WHY THIS MONDAY IS BRILLIANT

  1. Last night, I set out my outfit for today and therefore squeezed at least seven more minutes into my morning coffee-quiet time-journaling routine.
  2. My morning soundtrack is bumping with some new tunes.
  3. Before school even began, the smile would simply not be suppressed… a group huddled outside my office and I cannot tell you why, but I couldn’t help the top-of-the-morning tilt of the head and lopsided smile.
  4. Mondays always add an extra boost because we have chapel in the morning. There’s something about standing with my seniors in worship that gives me goosebumps every time. (I also love that they’ve been bringing their Bibles lately… nevermind that it might be due to a little baking bribery 🙂 A little bribery always worked just fine for my Aunt Jane during swimming lessons!
  5. We are gearing up for another SLEEPOUT this year on October 22nd and the first promo ran in chapel today… the excitement is building!
  6. Though it is temperaturally (made up that word) impossible in Honduras, it felt every bit like fall today, from the bold sun to the cool breeze… and I wanted to burst out singing Patty Griffin‘s “Heavenly Day” at the top of my lungs.
  7. Over lunch, I got to pray with a beautiful, dear co-worker and God made Himself so alive in those moments of community.
  8. Armed with a can of pumpkin and after beautiful discussion on every topic imaginable (so deep I missed our turn), I started what might make Mondays most beautiful this year. If that interests you, check this out.
  9. On the car ride home, I belted OUT some mad tunes from Starfield, Bright Eyes, and Joel Rakes.
  10. Now, night. I get to sleep sound, curled into my bed.

I praise God for brilliant Mondays!

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY