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. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Letting go of the "but"

Hello Lovely Readers,

A few hours ago I got back from a wonderful retreat and I come back with one BIG take away. I have written many times on this blog that I have wanted to be a wife and mother but that feels very  far away from distant from me. For awhile I walked around a little depressed because I thought if that is the purpose of my life why is it not happening. Then I wondered is this really God's desire? So I began praying "Lord please change my desires if they are not yours" quickly followed by "but I really want to be a wife and mother." Up until this weekend I thought this was a good prayer. I mean I couldn't lie to God and pretend that I didn't want my desires but I knew His desires were more important so I thought this prayer was a good compromise. 

This weekend during one of my prayer times I wrote...

Dear Lord, 
I don't know why I am sulking over the thing I don't have. Lord as much as I want to be a wife and mother I am not there yet, I am not sure when (or if) it will happen. Lord I am fine being single but I feel I am missing something. Lord I know you are he only one that can fill that spot. So Lord I to change me. Search me and find what I need to change. Lord if marriage and motherhood is not your desire please change my desires, not but this time. 

Match my desires to yours. I know day in and day out I know may not work will perfectly, but at the end of the day I want your desires to be mine. So Lord what you desire in my life? 

You know my heart, you know brain, I don't need to list what I want, you know that. So Lord help my wants line up to your wants.

Then this morning I wrote...

I am sick of that feeling where I am missing something. Lord it is just not true. I need to cling to the knowledge you (Lord) have given me all I need. There might be more I want but Lord if those wants line up with your wants then I know they will work out in your timing. But Lord right now I need to cling to the knowledge you are providing everything I need. 

Lord you know all my wants and desires, you them all. I have spent countless hours, and 100s of pages tell you what I want. I feel that is selfish because I have never once asked you what do you truly want in my life. I have never asked what you desire. So Lord what do you want in my life? What do you desire?

I then sat quietly and waited for a bit. While, it would have been cool/weird if God spoke in that moment and told me what he wanted; that didn't happen. This will be a continuous on going prayer. However, I think it is the first step in actually getting to the heart of what God desires. When I not only verbally let go of the clause and actually let go of it (in my heart and mind) then God will direct me to where he wants me. So right now I am letting go of the "but". 

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
and having our bodies washed with pure water. 
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful. 
-Hebrews 10:22-23 (NIV)

View from the home of our retreat. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Video from Honduras

A short video my church put together to show during our service. 
A good overview of the trip.
More will come, I just got my photos back and I am writing a long post with pictures. 

Shove comes to push

Our wonderful leader Emmilio while we were in Honduras speaks English and Spanish but once he messed up on the phase when "push comes to shove" and said when "shove comes to push." That became our catch phrase for the week. 

But when shove comes to push you must depend on God. When I moved to Boston I felt this huge  dependency on God because I knew no one, I didn't have a church and I will still new in my faith. However now it is seven years later I have lots of friends, a wonderful church family to depend on.   This week I was really dependent on God. I know we are dependent on God for waking us up each morning and for giving us all we had but it is way different knowing this and feeling. Don't worry I was never in a life and death situation down there I just had reminders of my dependency on God.

We were dependent on God for the water. One question we were not allowed to ask was "what if there is no water?" We knew there was water; there was some technical survey that had been done before hand; also if you looked up all you saw were trees; and it there wasn't water in that spot Living Water would just find another spot to drill in. But we had some problems with the machinery. Some one on the drilling team will have to explain it to me better. But our machinery broke a few times and we hit rock we couldn't drill through. So we kept praying for water and by Wednesday after noon we had water (pic above). 

Also on Wednesday we did have a pretty intense moment. It could have been scary but God kept us safe! On Wednesday afternoon we were told we were going to have to leave the school early because their was a strike at the border. (Our school was in one district and our hotel in another district so we had to cross a border). They wanted us to cross the border before the strike go worse. So the original plan was Roberto, a driller, was going to drop us off at the border and then we were going to meet Emmilio on the other side. Well the strike grew worse into a riot so we could no longer safely cross the border. At first we thought we could sneak around it but that was no longer an option after awhile. Well at first we heard a practical joke that because of the riot we were going to have to stay the night in the school. But eventually we settled on going back to the hotel we had been staying at on Saturday night. It was pretty nice hotel and we got a nice hot shower and got to eat delicious pineapple. Maybe if we had been able to leave the school earlier we might have gotten stuck in the riot, then it could have been a life and death situation. But God kept us safe. 

So when shove comes to push depend on God.