Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grace isn't just for dinner time.

I know you think this post is going to be about how we need to grant grace to one another. You are wrong. It actually is about table grace. Fooled ya! I just really liked that title for my post...even though it totally doesn't apply. Ha!

My family says the sweetest grace. I was curious the origin and decided that now was the time to start asking questions. My grandparents (on my mom’s side) have always said the same grace:

“Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.”

It is so beautiful and simple! When I was old enough to understand the meaning and finally stopped just mumbling along, I realized how truly succinct and significant the words really are.

My sister looked it up, and it turns out that this grace is a traditional Lutheran table prayer. Who knew!? It was first published in Germany in 1753 and has been passed down and used for generations! There are many adaptations of it, but it is especially common in the midwest. Note: My grandparents are both originally from Minnesota

Growing up, my immediate family didn’t always say grace. And when we did, it was an in the moment kind of grace. Specific prayers for the time, rather than a repeat prayer.

We lovingly call my grandparents grace, “Minnesota grace.” I think I want to carry the tradition of Minnesota grace to my future family. I love how melodic and meaningful the prayer is. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Truth #5: God will take me places I could never imagine.

Today I took the day off and it is just amazing. I decided it was a less extravagant "treat yo self" day.

Tom Haverford has taught me so many important things! Haha! No but seriously. Other than the fact that Parks and Rec is hilar and that today won’t include the purchase of any fine leather goods… I am taking a mental health day and it feels great! Some of the highlights so far have been 1) a salted caramel mocha from Starbucks and 2) some much needed morning reading time.

My friend Cameron and I are reading a book by Susanna Foth Aughtmon. It is called My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself: The Tired Supergirl’s Search for Truth. You are probably thinking that this book sounds cray-zay. BUT it is wonderful. The author is downright HIGHlarious. I am constantly giggling while reading about ways to grow in my relationship with God. This is a rare find and I highly recommend it.

Her book is separated by short chapters. Each chapter is about a different lie and throughout the chapter she dispels the lie with truth! For example, I was on Lie 5: God will ask me to do things I don’t want to do. While I was reading I had to stop abruptly and share. I am sure we are all aware of what it means to trust God. Easier said than done… am I right!? Well, the way Susanna puts it inspired me to write this post.

One of my fears in following Christ is the idea that I will turn into my worst nightmare. The un-relatable “religious woman.” You know what I’m talking about right? The type who is not in touch with reality anymore (think Michelle Duggar). Well, Susanna pin points that perfectly as she continues on with some Bible truth to back it up. Not only that, but she is an awesome knowledgeable Christian woman, who also happens to be keepin’ it real.

The lie that I keep believing goes something like this: “Did you know that if you follow God, you will become the most boring, overly spiritual person in the universe? None of your friends will come to your birthday party. You will be that boring.” (Pg. 52) How ridiculous is that!? BUT it is seriously an issue I have. (Not so much the birthday part, but isn’t she a hilarious writer?) The question is this, why is my silly fear holding me back from trusting God? Probably because we only ever want to trust God’s will on our own terms. Yes friends, we all have personal agendas… and as a “planner”/ type A person; I am one of the worst offenders.

Susanna puts it like this:
“We will absolutely do his will, as long as it doesn’t involve public speaking or socially awkward situations. We are perfectly willing to follow God to the ends of the earth, as long as they have a salon specializing in therapeutic massage and a year’s supply of People magazine there. You know, as long as we can stay comfortable.” (Pg. 52) This is what gets us. This is where evil comes in and takes advantage of our fears and the lies.

In Mark 1:16-18 Simon and Andrew just up and leave their job! Jesus says “follow me” and they do! It is their job to fish. It is their living and they just leave. You hear that verse and it seems so simple, but somehow it becomes complicated. Can you imagine just walking away from something as huge as your livelihood? Well, people do it. People hear God calling them to something else and they obey. It shouldn’t be that big of a concept, but somehow it is.

Here is the truth: God promises that he will never leave us. He also promises that we will be changed forever. I know that the minute I step out and trust God is the same minute that I will be overcome with comfort and joy. So what is holding me back? Truth #5: God will take me places I could never imagine. That is what happens when we trust and follow. God gives us more and takes us to amazing places that we can’t even comprehend.

Well, that is my long drawn out thought of the day. I really recommend this book. It is enjoyable and sparks some great thought processes. On a completely opposite note, I also recommend that you watch Parks and Rec.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Ps. I know I cited everything incorrectly… MLA APA? Crap. How many years has it been since I graduated?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perla, mi amiga y mi hermana.

Another life changing experience for the books.

I love the company I work for. I was blessed with an amazing job. I do admin and it obviously gets tedious but recently I had the opportunity to go to Nicaragua with one of the mission teams. This trip was extra special because not only did I need it in my personal life, but I also needed it in my job. I am now better at my job because I went. I know about being on location and I was refreshed in knowing that the tedious tasks I do in the office actually have a purpose.

The organization I work for sends short-term mission teams to developing countries and have local partnerships all over the world.  I work in the teams department and specifically work with group leaders, team facilitators and our field staff. I assist all of our Team coordinators and help get teams out the door and to location.

I had the opportunity to go to Managua and Leon Nicaragua. I went with one of our repeat teams that annually go on a specialty trip. They go north to an area called Leon, a poor more rural area where they serve at a local church and in the community. We camped for 5 days in the hottest region of Nicaragua during rainy season. It was um… challenging, but also an amazing experience that definitely took me out of my comfort zone. 

That is the thing about comfort zones though. Doesn't God want us outside our comfort zones all the time? If we are truly serving the Lord shouldn't we always be required to be a little uncomfortable? If there is no feeling of uncertainty how are we really trusting God with our lives?

Anyway, back to Leon.
Note: Rain in Nicaragua is not as friendly as it is here in Oregon.  Yes, it is hot as it rains in Nicaragua, but the rain also comes down in sheets.  These aren't just big drops. If it started raining while we were trying to have a discussion we would have to give up. Seriously buckets of rain ricocheting off of the tin roofs.

Some awesome camping stories came out of this trip.  I am not the strongest of campers… to say the least.  I am used to fluffy camping in the NW where there are bathrooms and showers, and if not showers at least a lake or river to feel clean (and NW camping is sometimes a struggle for me).  I was pushed and God used it to help me bond with other team members who were in the same boat.  I don’t like being smelly… but at least we all smelled. I was forced to become familiar with, what we like to call, “baby-wipe bathing.” Basically we all smelled like B.O., baby butts, sunscreen and bug spray.

Our camp
One of our work sites
The kitchen where our AMAZING food was cooked. How they made those delicious meals over a fire is beyond me.

The team was fantastic! They have been coming to this community for a number of years and members of the community couldn’t wait to greet their old friends. We did a medical clinic, VBS, and one of our team members, Patricia, taught a quilting class to the women of the church. The women were captivated by Patricia. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.
Cuddles with the kiddos.
FEI Staff hanging out in the medical clinic.
The kids just wanted to hang out. No effort needed. But a game or two always helps.
Patricia with her dear friend in Leon.
Patricia and her quilting class.
This woman and her husband have been married for over 60 years.

Leaving Leon with tearful goodbyes.
As amazing as my time in Leon was, my time in Managua was even more impactful.

In Managua we serve in the city dump. There is an entire community within the city dump, La Chureca. We have a home for girls in Managua called Villa Esperanza. This home is a safe haven for girls that God has rescued from the Dump through FEI. In La Chureca teenage girls are at risk. They are threatened by the garbage truck drivers, abuse, drug use etc. Many parents encourage their daughters as young as 12 and 13 to sell their bodies to the drivers for money or for the first pick of garbage.

Recently we had a photographer (Marianne Bach) take photos of La Chureca. Here are a few.

A home in the dump.
Heading to work to collect trash.
The girls that we house in the Villa Esperanza (village of hope) are the most amazing girls I have ever met. They have so much spirit and joy, yet they come from dyer circumstances. (Shameless plug: Click to sponsor a child!)
Lindsay, our child sponsorship director, with all of the girls living at the Villa.

The most meaningful relationship I built was with Perla. Perla is the oldest girl living at the Villa. Knowing her story, spending time with her, and developing a true friendship with her changed me. I have gone on mission trips before. Never on those trips did I connect with another individual near my age as an equal and sister. We talked (with difficulty due to the language barrier) like I would talk with any of my friends, or how I talk to my cheerleaders. It wasn’t a kid at VBS or a woman my senior. It was a teenager who could be my younger sister.
A portrait of Perla. (Taken by Marianne)

On the last night in Managua we had dinner with the girls. At the end of dinner Gloria, the Villa director, welcomed us to go pray for the girls and shared that the girls may pray for us as well. Immediately, Perla stood up and walked over to me. She came over and began praying for me in Spanish. I immediately burst into tears. It was so incredibly powerful. I then tearfully prayed for her. (I mean ugly cry) We sat there crying, hugging and holding hands until the girls were excused to go back to their houses.
Right after all of the praying and crying. I love her!

My trip to Nicaragua was wonderful and there are a lot of things I am leaving out. Actually, I pretty much left out all of the funny things because the serious ones just seemed more important. I have no idea what my future holds. It is easy for me to want to be in control and need to know what is next. But that’s not my job it’s His.

Does the clay say to a potter, "What are you making?" Isaiah 45:9