Monday, October 8, 2012

Writing is my little oasis

Hello Lovely Readers,

I know it has been a long time since I have published any part of my story... so long some of you might have thought I have given up writing. Well fear not, I have not. I have gone back and forth on this mentally, my friend advised me not to publish my story on the internet because a publisher would not touch my story if people had free access to it. I followed that advise. But to be honest through all my thoughts on how this blog should be, sharing my story was a very important factor of writing this blog. I hope to one day be published but I still want to share some of my victories with my loyal readers.

I am still working on my story, even with going to grad-school full time I have found writing to be my little oasis. However it does take me awhile as for the most part I can still only write through hand writing then typing it up. I have written at few odd intervals and have tried to keep up on transcribing it, but it is hard. Any way Saturday I passed 80,000 words typed up... a victory for me! I can't wait till I across 100,000 words. 

Any way here is a little part of my story that got me up to 80,000 words.

Hope you have a nice week.

My dear sweet Emmy,

            How I have missed your company. If Laurel and your mother can spare you, I beg you to be my companion at Mr. and Mrs. Netherfields’ dinner. Mr. Dumont cannot attend with me and I would hate to throw off Mrs. Netherfields’ table when we have already agreed to go. Your cousins Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Danford are coming and I know how much she has missed your company. I believe there will be another party of interest there as well.

Please write as quick as you can.
Yours Always,
Aunt Iris.

“Another party,” Emmy could tell right away she meant Brandon. Aunt Iris had always been do keen on pushing Brandon and her together. “Oh heavens I suppose I shall have to face him soon enough,” Emmy said to herself.

“Saunders said there was a letter from Iris, what does she want?” Fiona said coming into the room.
“She is begging me to accompany her to the Netherfields’ dinner. That is if you and Laurel can spare me.”
“Oh you must go, the Netherfields are some of the highest society and their parties are so grand. You will meet a great number of people I should say and it is not right for you to stay cooped up in here. I insist you go.”
“Nicholas and Kathryn will be there and I suspect Mr. Brandon James as well.”
“Well you must go, they are such dear friends.”
“Yes mother.”

Emmy had not told mother about Caleb or Brandon. Perhaps she should go, see Brandon in public and it would the best to do that at a large gathering. If they were alone in conversation they could make small talk and try to pretend nothing had happened.

“Go and come back with a nice report to tell us all that happened,” Laurel said when Emmy discussed it with her.
“All that happens?”
“Yes I want to see the room come alive, remember all the details of the women’s dresses, the flowers in the centerpieces, and how the food tastes. The Netherfields are known for being quite refined in all aspects and I want a full report.”
“You want to know all that happens?”
“Of course I do.”
“Every detail, every awkward moment, every uncomfortable glance.”
“I am sure it will not be that bad.”
“I am sure it will.”
“Well try your best to enjoy yourself.”
“I will try for your sake.”

Emmy wore one of her new gowns. It was dark green with rose pink accents. Moth told her the green brought out her eyes. Every time Emmy dressed up now for society she still felt as if she was playing dress up. A woman was showing up more and more in the reflection but she felt so much like a girl in her mother’s dress and shoes.

           Aunt Iris was most happy to have her as her companion and promised to show her off. The Netherfields and all their associates were in the highest social standing. It would be good for Emmy to get known in these circles.

When they arrived and gave their welcomes to their host and hostess Emmy was quick to find Kathryn. Kathryn was all kindness and asked after Laurel. It was all such a miserable circumstance, Kathryn said. Then Emmy asked after Brandon. Kathryn either didn't know anything of their last interaction or was a very good actress and pretended not  to know anything. Either way, Emmy supposed it did not matter as Kathryn said he was not coming. She said work had kept him so hectic these last few weeks that he hardly called on her and that he practically slept in the office. Then she lowered her voice and spoke at a volume only Emmy could hear and admitted that both Julia and Caleb were to come. Emmy felt a little light headed but could not let her friend see. Kathryn was not able to finish her next sentence for at that very moment Julia walked in.

“Emmy darling.”
“Hello Julia.”
“I did not know you were going to be here, is Laurel here as well?”
“No I am afraid that Laurel is too ill to be out of the house.”
“That is a shame to miss such a night as this.”
“I will let her know that I send her your regards.”
            "Please do. It is a shame she is not here tonight for I had such wonderful news, I wanted to share it with both my cousins and my sister."
            "What is it?" Kathryn asked knowing Emmy did not have the heart to.
            "Mother and father have given me their permission for Caleb and I to marry next month. It turns out father has given Caleb a position in his office, so I shall not be moving to New York as I hoped but this will be perfect as I will still be close to home and my family. Any way Caleb has to do for father in German, I believe, so father is letting us get married and then we will got to Germany on our honeymoon. Oh it is all perfect. Of course I'd rather go to France or Italy like you did dear sister," she said smiling at Kathryn. "But if we can get married sooner all the better. I cannot imagine sending Caleb to Germany as I anxiously await his return with a ring on my finger." Julia paid little to the fact Emmy was growing whiter with each word out of her mouth. "Now, dearest Emmy, I know we had our little disagreements last summer but I do hope we can put that behind us and you will be my bride's maid. I have lots of friends but no friend can replace the closeness of family bonds."
            Emmy could barely speak but somehow mustered the strength to shake her head yes. She also somehow was able to convey a smile to let Julia believe she was truly happy for her.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Delight yourself in the Lord

Hello Lovely Readers,

It is another cloudy day in Boston and on cloudy days there is nothing I love more than sitting on my bed, sipping on coffee and getting some writing done. I find cloudy/rainy days to be so inspiring. Fortunately today my morning class was cancelled so I could sleep in a bit and then wake up slowly, do my quiet time, and now sit here and write this post. 

Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
-Psalm 37:4

I know that verse is used a lot. At first reading it should seem like that God should give you whatever you desire/want. So many times we do not get what we want. Does that mean this verse is a lie? No. I think this verse tells us there is a process (a process I am still learning).

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart- Jeremiah 29:13. The most important part in these verses is the Lord. When we seek God with all our hearts, we will find God. When we delight ourselves in the Lord that is when we get the desires of our hearts. Often times I pray "I want this and I want that" and when I don't get I give up and usually pout and complain. That is not where prayer should stop. 

I have written about this in other posts that this summer that I heard the phrase "God always has the best for me in mind" and this has really changed my thinking. I know God has the best for me, but what is my best? It is His best. This means I won't always get my way and I won't always get what I want but at the end of the day His best will come through (if I follow Him) and it will be better than I ever could imagine. My best is not wealth, success, or a comfortable life; it is His will being done through me. 

Right now, I still have about a year and half till I finish school and then I don't know what is going to happen after I graduate. So I am not going to wait until the last minute to pray to God for His decision I am beginning to pray right now. I have told God countless times what I want, so I don't need to lay that out any more because he knows. What I am asking Him now that if my desires don't match His desires that He changes my heart. Then I ask if my desires do match His desires that He gives me patience to wait in Him. Then I realized it is not just about being patient, I want God to use this time to prepare my heart and mind for what is next. I know God is using this time that I am single and in school to prepare me for what is next in my life... whatever that may be.

Delight yourself in the Lord  I think really means putting what He wants for/from me as my first goal. I am still learning what that means. The more I put His desires first the more my heart will change; then my desires will completely line up with His desires; and that is when I will get the desires of my heart. This is a process and will always be a process because we are more inclined to seek after what we want instead of submitting to God for what he wants.

I know this post might seem like a lot of rambling, and it is a bit, mostly because I am still figuring out what all this means. But there are two things I want to express in this post that I am learning: first God has provided everything I need for this moment, if He hasn't given it to me then I don't need it; second it is not about what I want it is about what He want for/from me.

I read this today in my quiet time, I had highlighted it years ago but I loved how true it was for all what I am praying about...

 I’ll make them of one mind and heart, always honoring me, so that they can live good and whole lives, they and their children after them. What’s more, I’ll make a covenant with them that will last forever, a covenant to stick with them no matter what, and work for their good. I’ll fill their hearts with a deep respect for me so they’ll not even think of turning away from me.“‘Oh how I’ll rejoice in them! Oh how I’ll delight in doing good things for them! Heart and soul, I’ll plant them in this country and keep them here!’- Jeremiah 32: 39-41 (The Message)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A little bit of my past

Hello lovely readers,

In my last post I talked about how I was going to talk more about my faith on this blog. I know I have already talked about my faith a little but I wanted to go back a bit in my story. I have not always  followed the Lord in my life but have had Christians always in my life and I have catch myself thinking about them "you must have it all together to be a Christian." I would say my dad and both my sisters are these super Christians in my life and I looked up to them as if they were perfect... well they aren't and neither am I.

I wanted to lay out a bit of my life story so no reader can accuse me of being "perfect" and "having it all together" when I don't. In this blog I am simply sharing my life and my faith is a HUGE part of that. So before you think I am standing on a soap box or hitting you over the head with a Bible, I wanted to share a pice of my story so hopefully you won't think I am doing those actions.

From my Baptism... May 20th 2007

When I was 5ish my parents got divorced. I know it is common for kids to think that "it is their fault", I never thought that. Looking back on it, I don't really remember a time they were together so it seems like a "natural" thing. Though I didn't think it was my fault through the divorce I got it into my head that I had to please everyone. I somehow thought that there was this bar of "perfection" that I could never measure up to. When I thought I was close to that bar, I would  discover that there was something else I had to do to make people happy. And if people weren't happy with me they wouldn't love me. This an aspect of my life I have lived with for nearly 21 years, while it is waining in strength, sometimes when I am low I still feel this bar above me. So for me it was very "natural" to think there were always conditions or hoops to jump through to earn love.
Skip ahead to my Junior year of High School. It was not a good time for me. I know I was stressed about my grades (I wasn't a stellar student) and I knew my grades that year were not good enough to get into a good college. I just remembering feeling as if I had failed. I know college wasn't the only thing that brought stress on me, I just like I had failed (I can't fully put it into words). For so long I had felt as if I was treading water keeping my head above float and all of the sudden I got tired of treading so I stopped and it felt as if I had drowned. Drowned to the bottom of the ocean and for awhile I walked around feeling no need to get up. I also felt no one around me could see how much pain I was in and I couldn't express because if I did they would know I had failed and then no one would love me.
Over this time I was taking over the counter sleeping medicine because I could never sleep at night. One night, I remember, I was emptying the dish washer and I thought about taking 5 or 6 pills that night and not waking up the next day. In reality I wanted my mom to come in try to wake me and when she realized I couldn't, she would rush me to the hospital, have my stomach pumped and then be fine. Also people would realize how much pain I was carrying around. Yeah not super logical but it is hard to be logical when you are sad. It is also hard to be logical when you are living inside your own head and not grasping on to reality.
I started going to therapy my senior year. I talked a lot about my emotions and how sick I felt but I still carried around shame and guilt over what I had thought and what I had almost done. I still sometimes think back at that time and think, if people knew that about me they wouldn't love me. I mean how can some one love somebody who thought about ending their life. Yeah also not super logical. That is probably the biggest bruise I carry around me and I still ask God to heal my heart from that.  
Boston in the fall..
the first time I came to Boston was in the fall
During my Junior year I would stare out my classroom window and look out over the San Fransisco Bay and dream of running away. I thought I would just leave school take BART to Oakland get on a Amtrak train and see where life would lead. Well I found a nice legitimate way to run away, college. I had a large book that listed every college in the US and I looked into all of them on the East Coast from Boston to Virginia. But on my first trip to Boston I felt at home and I never wanted to leave. 

Over the summer, between Senior year and college, I went back to visit my dad and per usual went to High School church camp. I always went to camp mostly because all my friends went and this year was no different. But something happened to me at camp. I had 2 wonderful camp leaders who showed me how they weren't perfect and still were Christians. I began to ponder that thought. Then over the week I realized I had tried to do everything on my own and I had failed. I realized I couldn't do it on my own anymore. So after camp I asked my dad to help me find a church in Boston, I remember he was driving on the high way but I am not sure why. I am sure if he had not been driving he would have had a heart attack over this question.

I found Park Street Church and through that found one of my best friends. She didn't let me hide behind my wall of shame, she got right to the heart of my life. She also didn't allow me to be a wall flower and she "dragged" to different bible studies where I got to meet a lot of people. While I had this great friends sometimes I felt completely alone as a Christian so I clung to my Bible and read all of Psalm that first semester. Through my friend I found Reunion Christian Church, my home church, and have found a great community there.
People might ask me "how do I know God exist?" I will answer "because He saved me." I know that is a classic Sunday school answer but I know it to be true. I was in the pit and I wanted to end it all because everything I had done had made me fail. With God I have never felt like a failure, though I continue to stumble. I make mistakes, I will make mistakes. I continue to walk around with scars on my heart for all the things that have happened in my life but God knows those scars, He know the dark spots inside me, and yet he created me and He loves me with no condition and no hoops to jump through. That is what I cling to because sometimes it is the only thing that makes sense.
As I have finished this up I realize the title is a little miss-leading as it is actually a long post. So as a treat... here is one song I have really loved for a long time and still gives me goose bumps.
"How he loves" by David Crowder.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I press on toward the goal


Hello lovely readers,

I started writing this post when I got back from Honduras but I never felt it was finished/complete.

As most of you know I took a break from blogging most of the summer. Though nothing huge happened to cause this push, this summer has really made me change my thoughts on my life, faith, and what I see as important. Over the summer I have been really been pushed in my spiritual life.

My friend went through pretty big changes in her life over the summer I got to watch these changes from the sideline and I was also talking to her by what was going on not just on the outside but on the inside. Over this summer she had a passion for God that I had never seen and to be honest I was a little envious of her, in the best since of course, but I really wanted that. 

I have been going through a study in the Bible on the word hope. Before this study I knew what it was like to hope for a good grade; I knew what it was like to hope for/in a relationship; but I never knew what it meant to "Hope in the Lord" (a phrase often used in church). I got to hear my friend talk about what she was going through and she said the phrase "God wants our best in life so we don't need to fear that things will work out." Our best does not mean financial prosperity or happiness all the time but it does mean God's will being done perfectly through us. From the time she mentioned that to now (and on going) my perspective on the word HOPE has changed. More on this in my Hope is an Act of Waiting post. During my quiet time my study came across this scripture...

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
-Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV, 1984)

While this verse doesn't mention the word hope the footnote was full of hope. "We all have done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what to be. Because our hope is in Christ, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become... Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ" (Life Application Study Bible NIV). I loved this footnote and how freeing it was. I know for me personally that I carry around my past mistakes so much and in my mind I demote myself in value. God doesn't call us to that lifestyle. God wants us to live a life that is fully in Him. 

Then I went to Honduras. Before I went to Honduras I had this weird/cool moment of peace about the fact that I could potentially die and I was okay with that. My younger sister once told me she wanted to die a martyr for a long time I thought that was a crazy idea. But after this moment in my life I think it would be cool to die standing up for my faith. Honduras was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back. 
My post on Honduras...

Honduras wasn't the mountain top experience I was wanting. However, it did change my thinking and through that I want to make some changes in my life. But I wasn't sure what to really change and to be honest I was scared of change. So I told myself I would take any drastic changes until I really thought things through. 

Well guess what... life got in the way and I didn't really do any deep thinking. But some really harsh realities hit me. One was my budget. My budget smacked me once this summer, when I realized how much money I was spending willy-nilly and not thinking about it. So I worked on my budget, but after coming back from Honduras--not getting paid for a week--really made me see how tight my budget is. So one thing I had to get rid of was my nice data plan smart phone mostly because I couldn't afford it and I also wanted to simplify my life. I had gone a week with out a phone and I survived, surely I would survive with out Facebook and email on my phone. I am here to say you can survive not having data plans. I am still working on really watching my spending, not to stress me out, but to keep things in control.*

I am in general going to try to cut back on the technology in my life. For me that really limits how much TV I watch. I liked TV as back ground noise but I realize how distracting it was in my life. In Honduras and on a woman's retreat I went on, I got so much reading done; I prayed so much; and I felt calmer. I am listening to music more and I added more Christian music to my playlist, just as little reminders through my day.*

The next big challenge in my faith came when I went on Women's retreat. I was challenged with how much I hold on to my own desires for my life. While I think it is good to have goals, dreams, and aspirations in your life and I believe God wants you to have them too. I was holding on too much. I was saying "I want what God desires in my life but I really want what I want." I have now realized I have to let go of that but. I have to say "I want what God desires." Now I am working on getting my heart and mind to also let go of my desires and really focus on what God desires. Only then will I truly feel complete in God. (I don't have this down pat, just know what I long for.)  More on this on my "Letting Go of the 'but'" post. 

I was talking about this to my friend, mentioned above, and how I desired the closeness she had with God. She said "I am going to say something you are going to hate?" I asked what it was. She then challenged me with waking up early and doing my quiet time first thing in the morning. She knows I am NOT a morning person, I mean I think 9 AM is too early sometimes. But she referred to the verses about seeking God in the morning. She knows waking up early in the morning will definitely be a sacrifice for me and thinks God will reward me for my sacrifice. She has found having her quiet time first in the morning very rewarding for her relationship with God. Since I am desiring a closeness with God, I am working on waking up early to seek after God. I still love my snooze button but I love God more so I am pursing this path. Not going to lie these early mornings are only made possible with a good cup of coffee. 

I am going to change this blog a bit. I still want this place to be an oasis from my chaotic life of grad school and my job. But I feel for this blog to be more true: I need it to focus more on the important things on my life and not just the things I think will get readers. I want to talk more about my faith--not in a way that I am standing on a soap box-- to truly share my struggles and my triumphs. (Please call me out if you feel I am on a soap box.) I know not all my readers are Christians and if I lose readers because of my talk I am okay with that.

After typing this somewhat long post I realized it will never be complete because this is just one section of my life and my life is not finished or complete. I will still be editing things a long the way and that is okay. I am still working on ALL these things and I hope you stay around to read this on going part in my journey.

*- The paragraphs are just written to tell you how I have changed, they are not written for conviction sake.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Journey to Honduras!

Aqua Viva Internacional =Living Water International
First of all Honduras is a beautiful country. 

We arrived late on Saturday morning in the town of San Pedro Sula. Then we had to drive four hours to the city La Ceiba. Our stop in Honduras is Burger King... I think they were trying to ease our way into the country. 
Some our gang at BK
After the four hour drive we got to stay in this beautiful hotel.
The hotel was right on the ocean, I loved standing in the warm water. It had lots of fresh pineapple and we were able to take hot showers there as well. We started and ended our week there which was a very nice treat. 

Our team in front of the church
On Sunday we went to this church. Some of the staff/members of this church work with Living Water so they prayed for us and as we left they all gave us hugs and kisses. It was a great encouragement to start off the week. 

Then after church we had to drive another hour and half to a town called Seda. 
Sunset from the roof of our 2nd hotel 
The town of Seda.

On Monday we drove to the sight. So one expectation I had was that we were going to be working in a village, and that it would be a town like you see in "feed the children" commercials. We were in at a school in the town Descrmbro, Honduras, a agricultural town and some of the people are "middle class". I put it in quotes because I don't want people to think of American middle class. It is middle class for Honduras which means they mostly don't have electricity and maybe running water. By running water I mean they have a tank of water in their back yard. The primary water source for this village of apox. 3,000 is a river that serves as a dishwasher, laundromat & waste removal service for the community. The people of Descombro know that the water is unclean but only half of the community can afford to buy purified water and a lot of the students buy soda.

The school
One day these student practiced the drums from the start to end of the day.
The red doors in the back ground the bathrooms.

The windows of the school were covered in wooden planks. 

Inside a classroom. 

The teachers of the school cooked our meals for us while we were a the school. 
I was on the hygiene team which is more like the teaching team. For each class we did two hygiene, one bible story and then a craft. A hygiene story talked about how to wash their hands properly, how to treat diarrhea, what food to eat properly, how to keep water clean and how to use the pump properly. On the first day we talked about germs and we used glitter to represent germs. When we came into lunch with the drilling team, my friend joked that  "the drilling team was covered in mud and the hygiene team was covered in glitter."

On Tuesday our machine was broken so while some of the Living Water staff went to get new equipment we were able to walk around one of the villages the school serves. The school served up to 5 to 6 local villages but this was the closest village.

While there some house like this one (above)... they would sit right next to the mud hut house (below). I will admit when I arrived in Honduras I thought all the houses were going to be like the one below.

The biggest take away I will take away from the walk through the village was just how generous people were.
We stopped by one house that had a few coconut trees. The guy, who owned the house came out and asked if we want some and would not let us pay for them. Then he began cutting them down and taking his machete to cut them apart so we could drink coconut milk. His wife was there holding this little baby and I was saying how cute he was, in my most broken Spanish. She just came and placed him in my arms so I could hold him. I thought "whoa, she doesn't know who I am but she gave me her son." I love little babies, so this was a great moment for me.
I just loved all the horses.
A shot of the main road in the village

 On Wednesday we did what is called a good news bracelet.
My good news bracelet.  

Black- represents the sin that separates us from God.
Red- represents the blood of Christ that was shed for the sacrifice of our sins.
White- when we accept Christ we become white as snow. 
Blue- represents baptism
Green- represents the new creation God makes us.
Yellow- represents the glory of heaven. 

The day we made the bracelets the kids acted like we were passing out candy when we were giving out the beads. Some kids tricked us to giving more beads to It was great to see how receptive to the story of Christ and what it all meant.

I can't talk much about the drilling project as I mostly stood on the side lines and watched. But next year I would love to be part of the drilling team and get my hands, t-shirt, and pants dirty. 

Here are some pictures from the drilling sight...
At the beginning there was just dirt.

LOTS of hard work being done.
Never leave home with out your duct tape
One guy on our team had broken his foot so every day he had to wrap his foot with tape to make sure his boot did not get wet. Well his tape did not always hold up so I told him I had duct tape, of course it was bright pink, but it worked to protect his foot. I must say it looked quite stylish. It was just lucky I had it because I just threw it into my luggage at the last minute.

I know there were a lot of challenges for the drilling team, with broken machine parts, and the fact they kept hitting rock, rock they couldn't get through. So out of faith on Wednesday they had to send down some pipe and then attempt to pump to see if they could get water. God blessed us and we had water! My friend put it best... "Looking back we see this as a blessing in disguise (sometimes God has to slow us down for our own good)."
This was a great relief to all of us!

On Wednesday we also had our intense moment of being stuck on the other side of the border. To read more about that read my Shove comes to Push post. When we finally left on Wednesday we didn't know at that moment if we were able to come back and finish/dedicate the well. I wasn't so concerned about that but I hated not knowing if I was going to come back and see my students. I was amazed even with the barrier of not speaking Spanish how much I loved them and how much they loved us. Fortunately we were able to come back and finish the work we started.

At the end of that was water. 

Both the drilling and hygiene team at the pump. 

At the dedication of the pump. 
Lots of the girls gathered around me and I tried to put my arm around them all.

I can't fully explain how wonderful it was to be on this trip. I knew I was going down to serve them but I felt so blessed by the people I met there. It was a wonderful and amazing journey. I highly recommend that every one go on a mission trip. The best thing to do is find a cause, country, or another area you are passionate about and see how you can serve there. I can't wait to go back to Honduras and if God wants me, I will go back next year. 

When I left Honduras, I told Emmillo (the boss) "I am not going to say Adiós but Hast Luego (see you later)."     

I know these aren't the best pictures... but I am going to miss the beauty of Honduras.