Sunday, December 31, 2006
This year has felt especially sweet for me. I think it's because I wasn't originally planning on being here. Like a surprise bonus added onto the year 2006. Wonderful! Thank you Lord! I love your type of bonuses.
The Christmas festivities of my life started on Friday the 22nd. We had a Shekinah reunion at Renee's parents' house and we had a sweet time together chowing down on old favorites like baby hot dogs and funny cake. Renee, Lashonda, Brie, Ailene, Bekah, Danae, Cheryl, Sarah were there as were my FIVE Shekinah scrapbook albums (I'm not even done those yet!). We reminisced over the past year and enjoyed each other's company.
the Shekinah gals, together again!
Christmas with my family was on Saturday the 23rd and started out with a grumpy grandmom Kleinschmidt. Dad and I were late getting to her house in Hammonton, NJ (which was my fault of course, you would think that with all the extra time I've had since September that I would be so on top of things and never late....sigh). We enjoyed our reheated food and then spent time opening gifts. We gave Katelyn & Judah (actually Wendy because Judah really didn't seem to care about anything besides sleeping) their gifts first and then everyone else. Present opening at grandmom's always seems a little chaotic. It was a good time with my family and I even got some dancing time in with Katelyn!
John, Wendy, Judah & Katelyn (kinda - she refused to pose!)
Everyone enjoys their gifts: Dad, his socks and grandmom the calender with pics of Judah & Katelyn.
Christmas Eve started out early for me because I had to be at my church at 8 am before the start of the first service. We had three services in sucession and it was exciting to be a part of it even though I was only dancing during one song. I and two other gals from my church were the dancing angels during a song that included a pagaent. It was a little squishy...okay...it was very squishy up in the front. My church is not huge but that morning we had 40 adult choir members, 70 member children's choir, a drama which included 7 people and a table and chairs plus band and etc. Overall, everything went well despite having to dance very close to someone's bass and the scariness of trying to dance around veils with tripping over them. Thankfully, we didn't run into any wisemen or hit too many people in the front row with our veils! :0) We even had one wiseman who wanted to dance with us.
That night I met up with Starr and we went to her church service. We had dinner together and watched "It's a Wonderful Life." Can you guess? I fell asleep right in the middle. It was quite an exciting day! I stayed over at Starr & Heidi's that night. In the morning, Heidi and I had a yummy Christmas breakfast of crepes with banans and chocolate and got ready for the day. We had dinner with Starr's son Ross and his family and exchanged presents. It was a very sweet time and I ate TOO MUCH!!!!
I spontaneously stayed overnight again and Heidi and I hung out the next day. It always feels somewhat like being at home when I spend time with Starr & Heidi. I'm sure it's because I used to live with them for 6 years.
Starr & I have a seed-spitting contest at the sink!
Speaking of being with people that I've lived with before, this past Friday was our Stillwaters get together. Margie, Renee, Bekah, Emilie and I stayed over at Mandy & Rosie's apartment in Germantown. It was such a fun time! We made calzones together and exchanged gifts. Of course there were the typical gifts of underwear and socks! Yay for a reunion! The interesting thing is that all of us have never lived together at the same time. Margie got married and moved out and then we had Emilie for a year before the END. But we all get along and it was a blast! I didn't get too much sleep because Rosie the cat was very hyper. On the bed, off the bed, running over Emilie's face, eating the plant, etc. Margie was very concerned about it! Oh well, I think if I was Rosie, I would have been excited too!
Well, that's the tale of my Christmas adventures! I'm so glad that I was able to experience all these sweet times with dear friends and family!
Yay for the Christmas bonus!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Read on then, oh brave soul....
Recently my car's been losing power and not starting. A couple of weeks ago I had a hair appointment and I went out to start my car at 2pm. No go! After visions of horrible things being wrong with my car, I called AAA and they came to jump it. It worked and the guy told me to clean off the corrosion on the connector bolt (disclaimer: I don't know proper car verbage). Well, I cleaned off the corrosion like my dad taught me with some baking soda and a toothbrush (it's amazing how hard it is to find an old toothbrush in the Ensinger house...I think Mandy would be appalled!).
Cracker was a little grumpy the rest of the week when I started him but at least he started. Well, come Friday night when I needed to rush off to dance practice at church, it didn't start! Bummer!!! Thankfully, my nice roommate, Esther lent me her car and Cheryl's dad jumped Cracker the next day. He told me that I should get the battery checked to see if I needed a new one. Did I listen? Not until my car wouldn't start again on Monday. Thankfully, Mr. Ensinger left me his jumper cables and being the empowered woman that I am :0) I jumped Cracker with Esther's car.
I took Cracker to a garage to get the battery checked and the test said the battery was BAD! Oh bummer a bad battery! They wanted to charge me $75 for a new one and I (being the resourceful person that I am) decided to find an alternative option. My alternative option was getting my own battery and having someone put it in for me. Who would do such a task? Who would brave the battery acid, the corrosion, the aging interior of my delapidated (I've always wanted to use that word) car???? Who? Who else but Luke Scheetz, fixer of helicopters, husband of Margie and former "honorary" Stillwaters boyfriend???!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, so Luke pretty much dislikes my car strongly and has a very bad opinion about it. I think it has something to do with it being an economy foreign made car. Who knows but he agreed to operate on Cracker. Thankfully, I was able to get a battery at Wal-mart for $35! Luke changed it in a flash (it looks so easy, anyone who has tools could do it!) and then was going to try to tighten one of my belts. Fortunately (for him) he changed his mind and decided not to get into it! Ah, the poor person who will have to deal with Cracker's quirks in the future.
Ahh...now Cracker has a new economy brand heart (it may not last 11 years like the last one but do I care?) and thankfully it didn't cost me too much to replace it.
Thank you Luke, disliker of Trackers but changer of batteries!
And thank you Lord, that it was just a battery.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I decided that since I'm going to be around for the holidays, that I might as well go at it with full force! So, I'm participating in all sorts of seasonal activities. Woohoo for Christmas! This past weekend, I went to a cookie swap.<< cookie swap, cookie swap...hoorah for a cookie swap! >> In case you've never heard of one of those before: it's where everyone brings some cookies and you take home all the different cookies that you want to. I made chocolate cookie pretzels and cream cheese crescents and came home with sugar, chocolate nobake, cranberry white chocolate chip, triple chocolate chunk, chocolate cream cheese, and regular chocolate chip cookies. whew cookies!! The sad thing is that three days later there are only 3 cookies left at our house.
My other seasonal activity this weekend was making wreaths and arrangements with the Finger family. For the past couple of weeks, I've had a strong desire to create wreath! I don't know if you've ever had those strong creative urges but I have them quite often...it usually involves some sort of impractical creative project. Thankfully, I was just in time for the Finger family wreath/greens weekend. Two of the women whom I used to work with at Printworks reserve a weekend in December specifically in order to create things for the holidays from fresh greens. So, I got to join in on the fun and learn how to properly construct a wreath.
Here are the steps to wreath making according to Momma Mary Finger:
STEP 1: Prepare your hands!
Slather lotion on your hands and fingers to protect you from the onslaught of sap created by the fresh greens. Put bandaids on your fingers to protect your tender flesh from sharp wires. (you may want to cover your lap with a drop cloth to prevent sap on your lap)
STEP 2: Create a bag o' bundles
This step is the most monotonous one. You gather greens together (pine, boxgloves, etc) and make bundles by twisting wire around the stems. Watch out for sharp wire edges --sometimes they like to bite (like what happened to my thumb! ouch). Bundles greens, bundle greens, bundle greens until you have a brown bag 3/4 of the way full. With your bag o' bundles you are ready to go to the next step!
STEP 3: Attach the bundles to a wreath ring
Take your metal or wooden wreath ring and tie some green string around it. Put your first bundle on the ring and separate the greens in order to wrap the thread around them and then around the frame. Repeat the wrapping of the string at a different place in the greens and then wrap a couple of times at the bottom of the bundle. Take another bundle and depending on how bushy/thick or thin you would like your wreath place it next to the attached bundle on the frame (the closer the bundle is to the other bundle, the thicker and bushier the wreath will be). Repeat the whole wrapping process again and again and again until the entire wreath is WREATHED IN GREENS! when you get to the end, tie your string to the place where the original string was tied on and cut of the extra.
STEP 4: Protect the back
In order to protect the surface wherever you will hang the wreath, you may want to cover the back of the wreath frame. Hot glue small peices of green to the back of the frame.
STEP 5: Embellish the Wreath
Now comes the fun and creative part: Decorating your wreath. Before getting to far along in your decorating, you may want to take a pipe cleaner and create a loop on the frame for hanging purposes. You can decorate the wreath with ribbon, pine cones, glittery decorations, fake berries or whatever you would like. It's amazing how creative you can get with a wreath!
STEP 6: Enjoy it!
Find a lovely spot to display your wreath and it should last until the end of the holiday season. In the end, you can remove the dead greens and decorations and reuse the wreath ring next year.
Yay for wreaths! I ended up making two wreaths and an arrangement that looks like a Christmas tree. I put one wreath on the Ensinger front door and gave the other to my brother and sister-in-law. I still need to find a home for the arrangement because it wouldn't last long in the Ensinger's house with Tony and Aaron the cat on the loose!
I'd like to introduce you all to my nephew:
Judah Caeden Kleinschmidt
born on Wednesday, November 29th, at 4:20pm weighing 9lb. 1/2 oz., and 22 inches long.
I drove to Harrisburg yesterday to meet him and hang out with my brother and his family. My neice Katelyn (who is two) and I (An' Cayee) had lots of fun playing together! Our toy of choice yesterday was a blanket. We each had one and we pretended that they were our coats and that we had to go outside. Of course everytime we did something, Katelyn would shout, "do it again!" :0) We also had fun dancing together but An' Cayee's arms got a little tired when Katelyn thought it would be more fun for me to dance with her in my arm so that she could swing a blanket around.
It was great to see Katelyn's interaction with "babee Judaah." She kept wanting to kiss him but unfortunately she has a cold so they had to deflect her kisses to the top of his head. She also wanted to hold him (she kept on insisting upon it while her mom was trying to nurse Judah, I had to distract Katelyn with a ball). I think my brother and his wife will definitely have some attention and sharing issues to deal with but Katelyn seems to be adjusting pretty well!
It was so wonderful to spend the day with them and I'm glad that God decided to bless me with the chance to meet Judah before I went to Peru! Yay!
Is Baby Judah already living up to his name as a "Praise Warrior"? ;0)
Sunday, December 03, 2006
The Christmas season has arrived! I found out from the mission agency that I won't be leaving until after the holidays which means that I get a chance to celebrate Christmas in PA. It's a lovely gift to be able to celebrate this season with friends and family. I'm excited about spending more time with my neice and nephew! I'm excited about the Stillwaters reunion...my dear friends Renee and Bekah will be back from lands afar! I wasn't planning on Christmas in PA but I'm glad for it.
As many of you know, I've been living at the Ensinger household since August. My friend Cheryl's brother, Ryan really likes Christmas. He has a 10 ft tall Christmas tree with over 2000 lights on it sitting in his house's entryway room (which has tall ceilings and a huge front window). It took him 2-3 hrs to put the lights on and despite the cuts on his fingers, he says that it's worth it all. I'm not quite so sure but it looks impressive and we certainly don't need to turn any lights on in that room. Yes, reading by the glow of the very bright Christmas tree... ahhhh Christmas...
You know this all reminds me of a certain Sufjan Stevens song. Follow this link for a fun video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYQFeZFLyM4&eurl=
Sunday, November 26, 2006
This morning Ruben talked about vision and how when God gives us vision, impossible things happen and He shows that He is the God not just of theology but the God of the practical. One thing that Ruben spoke this morning was that we can say: "God is the God of the Impossible" all we like in church but do we actually live like that? Do we make room in our lives for God to do the impossible or do we hem ourselves in so comfortably so that we don't even give Him the chance?
I was so excited this morning because I could understand pretty much all of Ruben's sermon! Of course, my talking to them in Spanish was a little pathetic. Thankfully, Mandy was there to help fill in the words. I can't wait for language school in Arequippa!! When I was in Venezuela, everything was so overwhelming! I remember sitting in church and missing half of what was being said. It's as though you are living in fog. I was so frustrated some times and thought I would never get past the fog!
It feels good to be going to Peru with an understanding of Spanish and knowing that I'll be able to catch up faster because of that. I can't wait to work on all the details that I need to fill in the gap! To dig into those verbs and I can't wait to be surrounded by people speaking Spanish. Okay, so I'll stop looking at it so "romantically"... Yes, it's going to be hard sometimes and I'm sure I'm going to make a fool of myself. I'm SURE I'll make a lot of mistakes! woohoo for mistakes...
I found out from the mission agency that I can leave when I reach 80% of my support. It's great because I'm at 70% right now!! Perhaps this means that Peru is right around the corner. It's going to feel so surreal when I actually get on the plane and finally say goodbye to everyone here. I'm so excited and even though I'm torn about being here for Christmas, I really hope I get to leave some time next month.
We'll see! Through this whole thing I've learned not to hold onto my plans with a tight closed fist but with an open palm up to Jesus while saying: Lord, whatever you want!
HIS PLAN IS MUCHO MAS MEJOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
On Wednesday I walked the last section on the Perkiomen trail. My last section was from Oaks to Audubon and God blessed me with a gorgeous day. Even though the trees have lost most of their leaves, sections of this trek were still pretty with the twisting bare branches and leaf laden ground. I felt victorious about completing the trail until I tried to get back to my car. I had parked in the Perkiomen Valley Park and walked across the field to get to the path. I thought that on the way back I would just catch the trail back to where it connected to the park instead of walking across the soggy field. Well, they were doing construction and many areas were fenced off. So, I walked past the field on the path... I walked by the park...I saw my car and I kept walking hoping that there would be an entrance into the park. I kept walking until I walked passed the park and realized that if I kept walking I would soon be in Valley Forge!!! It was so torturous to see my car but not be able to get to it because there were two sets of fences between. I momentarily considered climbing the fences but realized that if I was caught they probably wouldn't care that I was tired and didn't want to walk all the way back the trail and then across the soggy field! I turned around and walked back down the path and then across the field. By the time I got to my car, I didn't feel so victorious anymore, just tired and glad to be done walking and sooooo glad to be back at my car.
I really am so glad for being able to walk the Perkiomen Trail. I'm glad that God has given me the time to take such long walks. It's amazing how the fresh air and being with the Lord in nature clears your head and helps you to have peace. Yesterday I was feeling very antsy and impatient so I took a walk on the old Banbury trail (a short trek compared to the Perkiomen Trail adventures). God filled my heart with peace and assured me that this time of waiting has been good and that He is building things in me that He will use later in my life.
Praise God for walks...
for fall leaves and woods...
praise God for quiet talks with Him along the way...
praise God for warm weather and for exercise!!!
"But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31 (nkjv)
A map of the trail that I've walked. It's 20 miles long; so that means that I've walked at least 40 miles this fall! :0)
Two reptile friends that I met along the way!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Here are some pictures from the Perkiomenville to Green Lane section of the Perkiomen Trail. I've completed one end of the trail and I just have one more section until I've walked the whole thing!
"I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation." Psalm 13:5
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." Psalm 143:8
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 2:12
Thursday, November 09, 2006
This is the best part about support raising: the ones who come to help. The people that God raises up to and bless the work He is going to do in and through me in Peru. This is why in a way, I was glad that God called me to serve as a missionary who raised support. Because I knew that it meant that God was going to use others in my life to bring about his calling for me. Isn't that awesome? I heard a teaching long ago that talked about how we cannot truly discover and walk into our calling in God's kingdom apart from our connection with the rest of His body, the church.
It reminds me of something I wrote in a letter when I was going out on another adventure 4 years ago to a different South American country. It was a story of a little girl with a large banner that had her life's calling written on it. Well, she couldn't unroll it herself and the whole could not be unfurled without the help of other people. It's still true and I am glad that this whole thing can't happen with just me.
How could I have forgotten so easily? Thank you friends!
I am not alone.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Chip, chip, chip....chip, chip, chippin' away! I feel like a little girl standing in front of a massive wall. My job is to remove the wall but all I've got is a hammer and chisel. So, chip, chip, chip... and it sure is taking a while. It seems that this wall is never going away. Even though I'm over halfway, I still feel like I'm chipping, chipping, chipping....slowly. Maybe I should just appreciate each peice that comes off but mostly I feel tired of this wall.
Last night I was being planned into my church's Christmas Eve service. They want me to dance and be a part of the drama. Wait... am I still going to be here at Christmas? I don't know really and I'm a little tired of my life being so up in the air. I would like to be in Peru in December but do I know if my support will all be in or not. It sure is coming in slowly... chip...chip...chip...
I know that God has His timing in all of this and that I'll get to Peru when He wants me to. I do TRUST Him! After all, He sees the big picture better than I do and He knows what is BEST. However, I'm a little concerned about the way this timing thing is working out. The original plan was for me to go to language school for three months and be in Cusco in time for the beginning of the new school season in early March. Now time is getting a little crunchy and I'm praying that God will work everything out the way that He wants to.
This season of waiting has been good for me. But it sure is hard not to be antsy and instead to really be content in the middle of it. I pray that the Lord will give me strength to enjoy this time and depend on His timing and not mine.
Oh, here are more pictures from my latest Perkiomen trail section. This is from Collegeville to Audubon.
I love the reflection of the trees in the water!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
THE PUMPKIN FARM
Ahhhhh!! Who could resist going on a hay ride and searching for the perfect pumpkin?! My friends, Steve, Sunny and Serena live near Elizabethtown and one weekend we visited a pumpkin farm in order to do just that.
Here's the Lanford family on our hay ride
Here I am with my conquest: a pumpkin! I had to go on a pumpkin hunt because the weeds were so tall and it was hard to find pumpkins. ((Oh where oh where oh where is my pumpkin!))*
*Note: any time there is a ((something)) it indicates that whatever is inside should be sung.
CLIMBING HAWK MOUNTAIN
My old Stillwaters' roomie, Mandy and I decided to go on a hiking adventure on Hawk Mountain. We went with Mandy's dad binoculars and created our own personalized hiking route from the available trails. The problem came when one part of our route took us on the "most difficult" blue trail. We picked up the blue trail off of the main outlook (where I saw an eagle!!) and we couldn't find it at first until I realized that it dropped right off the side of the lookout! Although this trail was supposed to be used by experienced hikers, Mandy and I forged ahead and literally climbed down the mountain over huge boulders. It was slow going and a little scary at times but we made it, crossed over to the red trail and went in search of the orange trail. We were walking along our merry way when I realized something was amiss: no red marks on the trees!! Somehow, thankfully we intercepted our trail somewhere and climbed, climbed, climbed up the mountain. Phew! We were out of breath... what a hike! I can tell you that my arms and legs were pretty sore that week.
WALKING, WALKING, WALKING
How could I forget all my lovely fall walks? I've been taking long walks at Peace Valley Park and the Perkiomen Trail (my goal is to walk every part of this trail). It's a wonderful way to get in shape before I go, memorize verses and talk to God in the middle of beauteous scenery.
Here's some autumn snapshots!
Peace Valley Park
The Perkiomen Trail
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I'm still here and there has to be some reason! Unfortunately, that leads me to more questions:
1. All a part of God's plan!
Does God have some mysterious reasoning in all of this? Like something that He wants to teach me or connections that He wants me to make? Is this extra time a part of a gift to me to allow me to enjoy another fall, some in-between time and the chance to scrapbook my life from the past 7 years?
2. Culpa mia (the culprit looks like me)
Or am I still here because I'm crummy at this support raising thing? Have I been so bad at connecting with people in the last 4 years that now I'm paying the consequences of not having enough supporters? Am I afraid to ask people? Does pride keep me from asking for support? Is there more that I should be doing or should have done??
3. The Devil Made me do it
Maybe Satan is doing stuff to hold me back from what God wants. After all, why would he want me to commit my life to full-time missions? It's no good news for his plans if my full-time focus is telling people about Jesus. Maybe he has sent out his nasty little demons to distract people from supporting me, to have them lose their response cards or just forget to respond!
Okay so the last one was a little silly but I wonder if my answer to the question of "Why?" should be "all of the above." Is there a piece of truth in all of these answers? There could be and maybe it's okay to not exactly know why.
Perhaps my concern should be more on what I'm doing with this time. Am I continuing to trust? Am I using my time wisely? Am I seeking the Lord to make sure that I'm being obedient in all this? I can ask questions all that I want but the most important thing is my heart's attitude. Will I choose to be grumpy about the delay or choose to rejoice in what God is doing in the delay?
I pray that my response will please the heart of the God who has called me, keeps me and continues guide me along the way.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Hallelujah, my car no longer sounds like a lawnmower! Thankfully, it was only a blown gasket that caused my car to sound like the exhaust system was gonna explode at any minute. Now I can again stealthfully glide through the streets of Souderton without letting the whole world know that I'm coming!
I'm going to have to say goodbye to my faithful Tracker as I head off to another country. My little car really has served me well for the past eight years. There have only been a few major problems along the way. Of course, the older it gets, the more strange things start happening. So, in honor of my Geo buddy, I've compiled a list of Cracker's Perks & Quirks
Here are Cracker the Tracker's Perks & Quirks:
Top Ten Perks:
1. It's a red convertible
2. You can ascend and descend from it instead of feeling like you are crawling into a hole.
3. It's spacious on the inside even though it looks compact on the outside
4. It has a new catalytic converter
5. The sound system/cd player still works
6. The windows are large -- you can see the world!
7. The horn sounds so cute!
8. It's got a fun "oh, snot!"bar on the passenger side for when you feel like off-roading it
9. The driver's side door will never fall off again
10. It's easy to parallel park and do 3 pt turns!
Top Ten Quirks:
1. It's a convertible so you can hear the sounds of the highway -- woosh
2. the back door has been permanently shut since 2003 and "the incident with the mice"
3. the gaskets have blown twice within the last 5000 miles
4. it's got a lot of the original wires and parts that aren't available except in junk yards
5. a cd player + a vehicle where you can feel the road = skips (just ask the Derstine bros.)
6. the drivers window sometimes has to be fidgeted with in order to get up or down
7. the horn works only sometimes (not at this moment but it may work tomorrow)
8. don't try to off-road it because the car is only 2 wheel drive and will get stuck!
9. the driver's side door is welded on...so don't smash it in an accident
10. the check engine light likes to come on and off depending on your mileage
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Today I took a walk around Peace Valley Park. This time I was prepared with my water bottle and sneakers (unlike when Bekah and I decided to spontaneously go around the lake and two hours later we made it to the end with blisters and dehydration in tow). It was such a beautiful day! The leaves were dancing, the skies were blue and so clear and the wind was blowing....what rich colors -- greens and blues! The lake was being blown about by the wind. It the middle were the ridges on the water but the edges where the wind was hitting it directly, the water looked like glass -- smooth and straight. As I looked at the lake I thought of the peace that comes when the Spirit is directly moving in your life. The places of the lake where the wind was hitting directly were smooth and I was praying for the kind of peace that was a direct result of the Spirit whispering so close to my heart.
What a season of trust God has brought me to! I am totally dependent on Him -- He's called me to go to Peru and I'm waiting to see how God will bring it into reality. It's such a burden to think about raising the funds that you need to live for 3 years. I guess the point is to realize that it's not my burden to carry but His. He is the one who called me and He is the one who will provide! So, I've said goodbye to my old life and there's no turning back. I took a leap of faith and now I'm just waiting to see how God will bring it all about.
Here's an appropriate quote for this time in my life (provided by the aforementioned friend) :
"The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and His promise."
Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
Monday, October 02, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Who would have thought that dipping things on the end of sticks into hot pots of liquid could be so fun??!
Last week, I was finally able to go to the fondue restaurant in our area. It was a birthday celebration and really all that I wanted to do for my birthday. About five of my friends and I feasted on bread and veggies dipped in melted cheese, nibbled on salad, consumed various meats and veggies that we cooked in steaming broth and then finished it all off with a delectable array of things we dipped in white and dark chocolate..... like fruit and cake and brownies and and and...
we were stuffed!
It was a weird birthday this year. I think that I liked turning 31 less than the big 3-0. Thirty at least is somewhat glamorous because people give you big parties and make a fuss over it. But 31 just feel older and much less glamorous. I guess it's all a matter of perspective really. Realizing that every year is worth celebrating...not fearing age but relishing all that God has done and expectantly looking forward to all that is ahead.
So, thanks God for another birthday. And thanks for fondue and friends which made my birthday feel special.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
This morning my church celebrated it's 5th Anniversary with two exciting services. I was in the choir, singing my heart out because I want to celebrate all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future. It was my first time singing with the choir but I thought it would be a fun way to contribute to today's festivities. Besides, I won't have the chance to do it again for 3 years.
God is so amazing! The journey that He's taking my church on is amazing and the fact that somehow I get to be a part of it is pretty amazing too. I've been at my church for 4 years and I've seen how God has taken a congregation of 150 to 700! I've seen how through it all the vision of the pastor to share the gospel and preach the Word has remained and how many have come to know Christ. Pastor John said 500 people and I'm not sure how that breaks down or where those numbers come from but I do know that lives have been changed and God is doing an awesome work.
Over and over again I've seen/heard amazing stories of faith...how God provided money where there was lack...how people stepped up in faith and gave sacrificially...how God has put everything into place in His timing and plan. This journey has been hard for many who've been a part of it. My own story at Keystone was not the easiest, trying to fit in as a single and being obedient to God's call to be a part of the church even when there were things I didn't like. But God has used my church in many ways to hone and craft the dreams that He's put on my heart. I've learned about discipleship and working with kids and now my passion is to disciple kids! God knew what He was doing the day my former roommate suggested the church and I looked up directions on the internet.
So, this morning I saw such a testimony of God's faithfulness and my heart was filled with faith. Support raising may seem overwhelming but I know...know..KNOW that God is going to provide. How could I look at all He's done with my church and with my own life and deny that???!! No, I will not doubt!!! I will stand in faith. God has called me to be a part of Keystone Community Fellowship and God now is calling me to work with children in Peru. The two are connected and God WILL use the church to send me out into all that's ahead. I'm convinced of it...that is what God wants to do!!! He is the God of what I cannot see... clear my vision and strengthen my eyes of faith, Father to see your dreams and plans as REALITY!
"You are God alone. From before time began You were on your throne and You are God alone and right now in the good times and bad, You are on your throne and You are God alone...
YOU ARE GOD ALONE"
Friday, September 15, 2006
I'm not going to do that.
It's so beautiful how it all ended that I cannot complain! God blessed me with a boss who got so excited about me going into missions. It was God's healing in my life that He would give me such a boss after a horrible experience with a previous one. It's great how God used me to bring a change in the atmosphere at Printworks. Okay so I'm not tooting my own horn... I was told this and I know that it was the Spirit of God shining through me! It's amazing how God brought friendships out of these two years where I did not expect them.
I'm so blessed that even through the yucky season of being replaced at work and becoming an unneccesary part to the whole, God was giving me good gifts. He was preparing me to leave! Also, an amazing thing happened: I became friends with my replacement and I was blessed by our interaction. What a serendiptous thing to happen!! I've enjoyed these last months at work more so than any other time. Maybe because I didn't have as much stressful work but also because of my new co-workers!
Strange... but I'm convinced that God delights in blessing us in strange ways.
So, I'm saying goodbye to Printworks but this closure is good. Now I'm turning my back on my old life and look forward to moving to Peru. I feel the blessing of the people I work with go with me. There's something about going into missions that makes even non-Christians congratulate and wish you well.
Praise God for the ease of the closure on this part of my life!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I'm not talking about gouda, brie or chedder here. I mean there's all sorts of kitsch things out there for sale. There are some pretty silly fads that people go ga-ga over! Really... like the magnetic ribbon or the rubber bracelets??!! It's out of control!
Christians seem to be just as bad with their wwjd bracelets and testamints. Sometimes I think it's worse for believers... Our faith is something deep and something real -- can it be reduced to a slogan or a cute cartoon character??? There is something about the combo of cheese and faith that greatly disturbs me.
At work I put together a children's book on Woofi, the Missionary Puppy. The concept behind a missionary puppy is sort of cute and the stuffed version of the dog is a quality thing. The illustrations in the book are wonderful and yet there is something cheesy that lurks around the corner. Maybe it's the writing of the book or maybe it's just some of the over-the-top things that I encountered today. Like the Woofi song which his "parents" (I call them that because that's what they call themselves!) played for me and then my coworker, Dan ruthlessly repeated in a lounge-singing rendition. "Woofi, the missionary puppppyyyy..." ugh... Or maybe the Woofi slippers, Woofi backpack, Woofi rattle or someone dressed up in the Woofi costume were what put me over the edge.
The Woofi madness continues! One of my coworkers told Woofi's mom that I was doing a walk-a-thon fundraiser and suddenly Woofi took over the CAKEwalk!!! Now, I'm going to have stuffed Woofis available at my walk... $20 gets them a Woofi for themselves and a Woofi that is sent with me to Peru for some child there and $2 donated to my support fund. I'm having nightmares about a suitcase full of Woofis!!!!
Okay, so Woofi is cute and kids might like him. He has the salvation story in pawprints (like the bracelets with different colors) and I'm sure the kids in Peru will like to get one. Personally, I think I would much rather have just seen Woofi, worn him on my head and then promptly forgotten about him.
"Oh Woofiiiiiiiiiiii, you silly missiooooooooonary puppyyyyyyyyyy"
I guess the cheese will never go away...
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I say that it was a journey into the past because the people that I visited were of the "long-time no-see" variety. It was a journey of reconnecting and remembering. Reconnecting with "old" friends and remembering the significance of space and places in my life.
My first stop was to visit my old college roommate, Jen (or Ben as she was called in college). Wooster was like a second home to me during my years at Grace College. I remember spending fall breaks with Jen's wonderful family, visiting her church, hanging out with her friends and enjoying the connection that Jesus makes which goes beyond bloodlines. Jen's family made me feel very welcome once more! They treated me like gold and even helped to usher in my birthday with a treated dinner, singing waiters and an ice cream cake.
I had not seen Jen since 2004 and her family sinced 2001.
Bowling Green, OH
Bowling Green was about 2 hours west of Wooster and the home of my college/church buddy, Rachel and her husdand Allan. Rachel has a medical condition called MCS (Medical Chemical Sensitivities) which practically keeps her confined to her house. We talked a lot about her condition, our families, the past and what to do about the problem of suffering. My friend has seen a lot of suffering but she has put her faith and confidence in a God who is good. My prayer for her is to become an overcomer in the midst of her suffering and to draw closer to the one who is bigger than MCS or anything we may face.
I had not seen Rachel since I was the maid of honor in her (very different and exciting) wedding in the summer of 2002.
Next I flew upon the wings of my Tracker to the beautiful cornfields of Indiana. My friends live on a pig farm out in the middle of the country. I actually found a peice of paper (9 years old!) in my glove compartment that had directions to their house. I just forgot how long those country roads are. You feel like you are driving for miles in corn stalk walled corridors out in the big sky of Indiana. The drive was wonderful and I remembered how it felt to be out in the open like that. Looking at the wide fields and big blue sky... there's a feeling of openness and freedom.
Anyway, I showed up at my friends Mark & Mel's house to discover a whole group of people waiting for me. It was like a reunion of the church I had been a part of during college and then during the 6 months I lived in Indiana. It was a small church that always had felt like family! There had been an ugly end to it all and before when we saw each other there was an under the surface strain. But now, time had washed away all the old pain and strain and all that was left was family. These people are still family even though we are all older and we've lived lives that were far apart. Once they may have thought of me as a daughter but now I am grown to be a sister.
How beautiful the ways of the Lord! To be able to reconnect with old friends is truly a blessing! We had a wonderful time catching up and praying together. I stayed at Mark & Mel's house and was blessed to see all that God was doing in their lives --He is drawing their family to Himself and how He is the one who brings us up out of the desert places into lands flowing with streams of life!
I had not seen these friends since Rachel's wedding in 2002.
Winona Lake, IN
Another college friend that I visited lives in the beautiful town of Winona Lake, IN where Grace College is located. Winona Lake is a quaint place that is slowly being restored to it's original Billy Sunday era state o being. I wandered around on part of the campus and I realized that even though my time at Grace was significant in my life, God has brought me to a new place. My college days are long gone and God has been faithful to do His work in me since then. It's amazing to stop and reflect: we cannot go back but where we have come from has shaped who we are.
It was good to reconnect with my friend, Heidi. She told me of what she had been up to and how she met her husband. I looked at wedding photos of the handsome couple and I was blessed to see how God had been at work in my friend's life. What I was most impressed with was how Heidi's brother had been praying and fasting for his sister to find her hubbie. Somebody should tell my brother about that plan! :0)
I had not seen Heidi since the summer of 2001.
And Back Again
I returned to Eastern PA this past Wednesday. It took me about 10-11 hours to drive from Rochester to PA! Ugh, my car was pretty grumpy in the end and I made it back just in time for choir practice. phew...
Thus ends the tale of my journey of a thousand miles.
A journey back in time, a journey to reconnect, a God-given journey...
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Ever since two of my former roommates have joined blogdom, I have felt the increasing pressure to start a blog of my own. There's something about keeping an online journal out in cyberspace that is appealing. It's public and private all at the same time! wierd... like a private journal trapped in the public view. Someone could randomly read my blog but it will most likely be just my friends who know about it or who care to read my reflections.
I hope that they are often amusing...
I hope that they are always encouraging...
I hope that what I write points to Jesus...
So, here's the beginning of my blog adventure. I don't know how often I will actually get to post(especially when I am in Peru) but it's worth it to try.
Random fact: The first blog I ever read was by a homeless guy in Nashville