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Ethiopia: “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”

May 18, 2012   No Comments

Ethiopia: “2 Weeks in Africa”

May 18, 2012   No Comments

Ethiopia: “International Love Song”

May 18, 2012   No Comments

Ethiopia Slideshow: “Planting Trees”

 

Posting this first slideshow is the beginning of me processing through this blog all that we saw and learned in the beautiful country of Ethiopia. Jared chose this song and put it with a slideshow. But, then I re-did the slideshow because my perfectionist self (when it comes to a project that I feel deeply about) could not let my pictures end up cut in half. So, here is the finished product set to the music of Andrew Peterson’s, “Planting Trees”.

While in Ethiopia, we visited caresites that need partners, and caresites that have already been partnered. The beginning of this slideshow will show you pictures from Jemo, the site we plan to partner with. After that, you will see a caresite that already has a partner. The kids are wearing blue school uniforms. And, then, it will end with more pictures of a needy caresite.

I felt that this song was a perfect accompaniment to these photos. It begins with this:

“We chose this spot. We dug the hole. We laid the maples in the ground to have and hold. As autumn falls to winter sleep, we pray that somehow in the spring the roots grow deep. And, many years from now, long after we are gone, these trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn.”

“Sign up and join the fight. Invest in what matters. Planting trees.”

More later, but this is a beginning. Thank you for reading, watching, and listening.

April 11, 2012   2 Comments

Ethiopia

We are sitting in the hotel in Frankfurt, getting ready to prepare for our long flight home to Bismarck. This vision trip has been so packed full, that it has been hard to find the time or energy to write about all that has happened.

I’m feeling that need to write something, but time and a tired mind, as well as a low battery on this computer is constraining me.

So, what did we do this past week?

We met leaders in the community who are working endlessly to fix the brokenness they see around them. Many of them could leave, and go to a land that isn’t so desperate. But, they stay, and they work. This is their passion. These are their people. And, their people are suffering.

We met a couple who rescues girls from sex slavery. They work with these girls for years, giving them family and support, so that they don’t have to go back to the industry that is killing them. Not only did we meet this couple ( an OB/GYN doc and his wife), but the Dr. took us on a tour of the “Mercado” at night. The red light district. We drove through a 1 mile radius that contains 6000 beautiful Ethiopian women selling their bodies. We saw them standing in their doorways. A metal door that opens to a cubicle big enough to only fit a bed. I wept. It was heavy and hard. I saw a child, of about 2 years of age standing by his Mom in the doorway. When his Mom gets a customer, he will go under the bed and wait until the deal is done.

We visited many care sites that reach out to their communities by caring for the children who need clothes, food, school, etc. Many of them have done all that they can do, and they are looking for partnerships with churches like ours, who have the means to help. There is so much need.

In the midst of this need, there is HOPE. We had kids singing to us about this hope on various occasions. Their faces light up when you talk about Jesus with them. They know who He is, and they know that He brings them a great Hope.

There is so much more to write and process. And, I took about 4000 pictures. So, I will share, and post pics to go with my stories of Ethiopia as I can.

I will just say that this trip broke my heart for Ethiopia, but also inspired me in many ways. We have a lot to learn from our Ethiopian friends. I can’t wait for a team to go to the care site we will sponsor and experience what I have just experienced. Lives in Bismarck will be changed and lives in Ethiopia will be changed. How exciting to be a part of fixing that which is broken. Both in ourselves and in Ethiopia. This is the Gospel.

March 31, 2012   5 Comments

Bismarck Highlights

I’ve been formulating this blog post for awhile now, but never seem to sit down and actually write. Since moving here to Bismarck from the mountains of Tennessee in July, I feel like I’ve been keeping mental notes on all of the things that stand out as different. I have never in my life even traveled so far north, and now I have made a home about as far north as you can get in the United States. Cross the border and you are in Canada!

I have always been an adventurer. I love doing new things and visiting different places. I have really, really loved coming to Bismarck and soaking it all in. So, here are the things I’ve noticed so far. I’m sure there will be more! Especially as winter sets in. Much later than it could have, by the way! It has been a mild winter so far.

1. Super tall spruce trees that have an almost blue tint to them. I don’t know the correct name for them. But, they are beautiful! Especially against a blue sky.

2. Wispy clouds like I have never seen.

3. Red squirrels, as opposed to the gray squirrels I am accustomed to. We have 2 that visit our yard regularly and they come up to the window sometimes looking for food! This picture was taken a couple of days after we moved in. He was busy checking us out.

4. HUGE dragonflies covered the sky during the summer. They hovered over our yard and neighborhood this summer and we have never seen so many dragonflies at one time.

5. Drivers are super patient with each other. I rarely hear a horn beep. In fact, there are times I see somebody doing something REALLY stupid, that I think warrants a honk of the horn and no one does it!

6. New phrases like, “Oh, for cute!”, “Oh, yeah.”, “Oh, for fun!”, “Wanna come with?”, “You betcha!”

7. There are no junky yards. In the south, especially the latest state we lived in, it is not uncommon to see a nice yard and house right beside a house with 10-15 junk cars in the yard. Not here. People take care of their stuff. Yards are kept manicured and clean. In fact, I think we stand out as the weirdos for not keeping our yard as nice.

8. There are poles sticking up from fire hydrants marking them for when the snow comes. We noticed this our first week here. And, we’re still waiting to see how badly they are needed, as the snow hasn’t really come yet.

9. New foods. Lots of German foods. Ever heard of Knoephla? Come here, and I guarantee you will within the first week.

10. Amazing work ethic. All of the businesses that I have had to deal with since moving here have been such good experiences. People do their best and really seem to care.

11. Strong family values. Though people work hard, they also recognize the importance of family time. Families take vacations and spend time together. And, we have felt so supported as a family here in ministry. People want us to have our time together. And, that means a lot.

12. Genuine people. People are just real. In the south we have this term called “sugar coating”. None of that here. You say what you mean. Love it!

13. Generosity, loyalty. These both are good descriptors of the amazing people we have met here. If someone has a need and you make it known, that need will be met. We have seen numerous families in need cared for by this community. In and outside of our church.

14. There are no lizards!

15. And, I am told there are really no roaches. I still can’t believe this one.

I could go on and on, I suppose. But, I’m sure there will be more for a later time. I am thrilled to call Bismarck my home and look forward to watching my kids grow up in a great place! 8 months ago, my husband told me that he was looking at a church in Bismarck and I said, “Isn’t that in North Dakota!!!???” Today, I call Bismarck my home, and I am so thankful, God led us here.

January 12, 2012   6 Comments

Guilt

I know….. a strange blog title for my birthday……but, I’ll explain.

This  morning, I slept until 9 or so thanks to my super awesome husband, who took over my usual morning “duties”. Today is my birthday, and something in me just said, “Slow down. Enjoy your day.”

I came downstairs and drank coffee from my favorite new cup. After breakfast, I began sweeping up the floor and unloaded the dishwasher. It felt good to take my time and not worry about what I was “supposed” to be doing.  I went and sat in my favorite chair and decided to take the time to read in my bible while I drank my second cup of coffee. I’ve been following the “Shirkers and Slackers” bible reading program, and have slacked for quite a few days. I follow this plan for a reason. :) In part of the reading from Joshua, I read these words. “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

I moved on from my favorite chair and decided I wanted to clean the downstairs half bath. I know, clean toilets on my birthday? As I was cleaning the toilet, I began realizing that I normally feel guilty when I am taking the time to clean.  Cleaning means that I am not spending time with my kids. They are entertaining themselves, and for Bryn, that ALWAYS means getting into something.  But, when I don’t stay on top of cleaning and laundry (which is very often), I feel guilty that I’m not doing more. It’s one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” deals.

After cleaning the bathroom, I moved up to the laundry room, and began folding the clothes that had been sitting for quite awhile. The kids played in Bryn’s room and were happy. As I folded the clothes, I continued to think about all of the things I regularly feel guilty about. It’s like light was being shed on a part of me that I had never seen before. After all, I am married to a man who’s motto is, “Don’t do anything out of guilt.” And, I too, hold to that motto. Or, at least I thought I did.

I began thinking about the couple of days before, when I had gone out by myself to shop for a dress to wear to a wedding. It was Jared’s day off and I was leaving him alone with the kids. I felt guilty.

In a few days, our church will be raising funds for those who are suffering from true hunger in the horn of Africa. As I folded laundry, thinking about this ridiculous amount of guilt I’ve been unknowingly carrying around, I began wondering what kind of unnecessary guilt Moms carry around in the starving nations of Africa. Do they feel guilt over the fact that their child is starving? Do they feel as if they should be doing more?

So, why do I write this? I write about this because I know that this guilt is a lie from the pit of hell. I am throwing it out into the light, thankful that Jesus shines light in the dark corners of my heart that I don’t even know exist. He is constantly weeding out that which is not true.

I stopped for a while today and did what I needed to do, guilt free. I even stopped and took a picture of my completely naked 2 year old “helping” Mommy unload the dishwasher. (Yes, it is hard to keep her clothed). And, I would post a picture, but I’d probably feel  a little guilty if I did. :)

This song came to mind as I pondered the whole “guilt” thing today.

No guilt in life.

No fear in death.

This is the power of Christ in me.

From life’s first cry to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell,

no scheme of man,

can ever pluck me from His hand.

‘Till He returns or calls me home,

here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

(“In Christ Alone”)

 

October 26, 2011   2 Comments

Still Here!

Hi, guys! It’s been so incredibly long since I blogged, but I really want to try my hand at this again. We may be changing the URL, but that’s up to Jared, because I know NOTHING about any of this. And, the blog needs a little refreshing because the pictures in the banner are very old. All I know is that I’ve been feeling a need to write and I’d like to share some of what goes on in my life and brain here.

A whole lot has happened since I last posted. We discovered Jared’s job in TN was coming to an end at the end of April, and it’s pretty much been a whirlwind since then. We are just now on the other side of that whirlwind and we have landed in Bismarck, ND! Yes, that is in North Dakota. When Jared first mentioned the possibility of Bismarck to me, my response was, “Isn’t than in North Dakota??!” And, pretty much everyone we told once we knew it was a possibility responded in the same way. North Dakota. When I look at the map and see where we live, I am still shocked that this really is our new home.

There is no way I can sufficiently describe what our experience here has been. But, I’d like to try, as time goes on, here on my blog. We are finding the people here to be so loyal and generous. We live in the downtown area and there are always people out walking, riding bikes, or running. The kids set up a lemonade stand the first week we were here and that gave me a good idea of what this community is like. It seems that people have time to talk. They are not running about so busy that they have forgotten the importance of other humans. I have had great conversations with a few of our neighbors, one of which lives a block over and walks her dog regularly.

The kids made friends very quickly. Their friends all live within shouting distance of our house and they come and go between houses, playing throughout the day. We’ve been enjoying bike rides around town, as the sidewalks cover ALL of the town and every intersection has a crosswalk. We are really enjoying that.

There are projects to be done in and outside the house, but we are trying to give it time and not rush things. However, the floral wallpaper and hunter green trim in our kitchen is going to be the first thing to go. I am super proud of myself for hanging on this long. I keep thinking I should wait until the winter, as I’ve heard plenty of people suggest I take on painting projects then, when it is brutally cold outside.

And, speaking of the cold…….we have had plenty of conversations about how we will survive the winter. It seems there are lots of game nights, wii playing, and gym memberships to get people through the winter. We will have to purchase a snow blower and plenty of cold weather gear. It’s an adventure, and we’re up for it!

We really do feel so honored to be called here to Bismarck by an extremely loving and generous congregation of people. And, as we get to know people, we are realizing that this care and generosity extends beyond us. Others in the congregation have been well loved and cared for as they have entered Bismarck Community Church. This is so heartwarming and it makes me very excited to see how God will continue to use this church body for His Kingdom.

 

August 18, 2011   3 Comments

Longing for Spring

The kids and I just returned from a walk over to the park. While we were out, Shea and I started talking about spring and how all of these trees we see that look dead will begin to grow new, green leaves. Shea noticed some flowers growing on the ground (and, of course he picked some for me) and we started looking for other signs of spring. I started thinking all sorts of deep thoughts and tried sharing them with my sweet little son, but I knew  I had lost him when he interrupted me and said, “Mom, Gage has a machete at Granny and Papa’s!”.

So, I’ll try putting those deep thoughts here and see where my fingers take me.

I find it pretty amazing that God places spring right after a season of death. We begin longing for green, long before we see it, and when we see just a glimpse, as Shea and I did today, we are reminded that, YES, life is coming. It’s going to be pretty again! The flowers will bloom and the trees will turn green. And, once we catch that glimpse, we long even more for what will soon come.

I think about all of the pain I see around me and experience myself. Tears well up. I know it will be different. I long for it to one day be different. I wonder when I will catch a glimpse of what is to come. And, then He shows me. I see someone who has been shunned by the church, loved for the first time, with no strings attached, by Christians who care. I hear a woman, who has been all alone with a wheelchair bound son share her story. A painful story. A story I fear has been heard by no one. She shares it enthusiastically. She is thankful to have a person sitting and listening. She tells me the church has hurt her. I tell her that my prayer is that God will use my family to fix some of the hurt the church has caused so many. She tells me she never would have made it without her faith in God. She tells me she doesn’t need a building to know God. I point to my heart and say, “That’s because it’s in here.”

These glimpses make me long even more for a day when we won’t hurt each other. A day when there are no sons in wheelchairs unexpectedly. A day when men do not leave their families. A day when there are no strings attached to love.

The thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever. Just as we see winter change to spring change to summer and then to fall, we know that our pain will come to an end. The hard times come in waves and we long for the easier times. But, then, the easy times come, and we forget how cold it was back there. How much we depended on Him to push us through.

I’m thankful for the longing that is placed in all of us as we go through the physical season of winter on this earth. I have no doubt that it is God whispering in our ears that change is coming. There is more. And, it will be beautiful.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” ~Romans 1:20

PS: this post was written with only one mishap. A plate pushed off of the table and broken, by the one and only, Bryn.

February 18, 2011   2 Comments

I’m Coming Back!

It has been way too long since I posted here. I have spent a little while looking over old posts, and feel inspired to get it going again.

I came across a picture of Bryn and Shea from our year of 2009 in Wilmington, NC and began thinking through just how much has changed since then. And, what a year 2009 was for us!

If you’re reading this, let me know! I need all of the encouragement I can get to start this up again. Life is full! And, I’d like to share it here from time to time.

“See” you soon!

February 10, 2011   12 Comments