Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmastime "bucket list"

...lately I have been quite inspired by the way my pastor is living his life. Being diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer this time last year has caused him to live his life with such an urgency. I'm inspired by how he is living life to the fullest and making the most of the time he has been given.

Shouldn't we all live life that way?

Diagnosis or not, we should all be living life redeeming the time. Making the most of every opportunity...taking every chance we get...sharing Christ with all we meet. Not only does his life inspire me to live my life with urgency, it has also inspired me to make a Christmastime "bucket list" this year. There are so many things I've always wanted to do at Christmas but either don't take the time or I'm lazy or I just let life consume me...not this year, nope! I'm determined to live my life with urgency and to make the most of every minute and enjoy the journey in the process. By that, I mean I'm gonna make a list of the things I've always wanted to do and this year...NO EXCUSES! If it's a children's activity...well by golly, I'm gonna go treat a special little person {Lord knows I may not have my own...but He sure has blessed me with loads of special little people!}...if it involves a family activity...I'm gonna invite one to go with me...God has blessed me and this season I CHOOSE to focus on what He has given me and not get trapped in the viscous lonely {down right depressing if I'm being transparent} cycle of what the holidays can be for a {single} girl...'s my bucket list:

1. Christian {Christmas} Concert.
2. Church Christmas Play{s}
3. Go to a Christmas Tree Farm and cut a tree down.
4. Bake Cookies and anonymously drop them off at people's homes.
5. Hot chocolate and peppermint mmmhmmm shindigs ;)
6. Walk around the plaza to see the lights while drinking Sbux deliciousness.
7. Go for a drive in "Christmas in the Park" with my dad.
8. Christmas Caroling.
9. Send Christmas Cards early.
10. Hallmark Christmas movies...tons of them!
11. Hand-make all gifts and try not to spend a fortune on supplies.
12. Elf. {and all my other fav Christmas movies}
13. Buy some new Christmas pj's {I've always wanted some for Christmas Eve}
14. Be intentional about each activity I'm involved present.
15. Be intentional with my out of town family and friends...give the gift of value.
16. Bake cookies with my nieces.
17. Take my parents to a nice dinner.
18. Go the extra mile with my clients. {I'm thinking cards}
19. Get my girlfriends and go sit on Santa's lap-picture time!
20. Christmas Eve movie with my Bro.
21. Christmas Eve Service.
22. Serve.
23. Read JKD Christmas Book diligently.
24. Make a meal for a family.
25. Have friends in my home...alot.

junk -> treasure

Ever heard the line "one man's junk is another man's treasure?"

I've seen this clearly the last couple of days as I have had the opportunity to help out with some renovations for our new salon. Laci and I have spent the last couple of days scouring through the local thrift stores and flea market along with hitting up the good old Hobby Lobby for the sales...and we were able to find some great junk...oops, I mean deals! We like to be thrifty and crafty and let's just say we have seen some junk turned into "treasures"...yes they are just temporal treasures but we are excited for this new journey and mission field God has given us and we just can't wait to make it our "new home."

As we were eye-balling things to decorate our new place with I said to her...don't look at this {the ugly frame or the weird looking mirror} for what it is gotta look at it for what it CAN BE. Isn't that what God does when He looks at our grateful for His eyesight. {now that's a message right there...} Last night we hauled all our loot to her husband's paint booth and lets just say we saw the "junk" transformed before our very eyes! Her husband {the expert} got his paint gun out and pretty soon {I'm talking really quickly} our junk turned into beautiful white pieces that looked brand new. All I could think about was how that's what God did when He sent Christ down to be our Savior...He made a way for our "junky lives" to be turned into beautiful masterpieces. The transformation that was taking place before our eyes in the paint booth is the same transformation that takes place when one decides to receive the gift God offers in His Son and chooses to follow HIM. Beautiful Transformation!

Today as I was scrubbing out the old refrigerator we will use I was reminded again of what Christ sacrifice on the cross did for see, this fridge had seen better was pretty dirty on the inside and out. As I worked with my rag, brush and bottle of bleach cleaner I saw the same transformation take place...what once looked like junk {I was even told by one of the workers there "good luck getting that'll never get it cleaned up!"} turned into a fridge that looked brand new. I love the analogy here many people do we pre-judge and say..."good luck with that soul...there's no hope for them" and yet God get a hold of their lives and you see a complete transformation. A life that once looked hopeless is now brand spankin' new!

let's just say...we had a little church today! lessons learned.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

guatemala '12

2 weeks later and I'm still processing. What an adventure. I truly went on this trip with NO EXPECTATIONS. I was already amazed that God let me be a part of this journey...and have a part in what He was doing in 8 other lives and also in what He was already at work doing in Guatemala. {side note: I feel humbly blessed that God allowed me to go on yet another journey to a foreign land this year...and on top of that that He would put it on the hearts of a dear out-of-state couple to support this journey is beyond what my simple mind can wrap around...He is Good and He DOES HAVE great plans!}

My worst nightmare came true the day of departure...I OVERSLEPT an hour and a half...UGH! I was supposed to pick my mother up so she could drive me and another girl to the airport at 3:30am...she called me {I was still sleeping} at 3:40am...oh my goodness! PANIC!!! God was Good and we arrived only 20 minutes after the rest of the that happened...I don't know all I know is I was relieved!

My 1st view of Guatemala was breathtaking from the plane. Mountains and was beautiful! Guatemala City looked like home...very modern. I truly was excited to get to the orphanage that we would call home for a week. Our new friend Darby was an excellent hostess and I praise God for how He knitted our hearts together so quickly. She was such a blessing to our team all week. I especially enjoyed learning her story and how God led her to serve there. Sacrifice and Commitment are the 2 words I will use to describe her. What a gift from God.

There are many lessons I learned while on this journey but perhaps the greatest one reminds me of an old song my mom used to sing when I was little..."little is much when God is in it." We may have been small in numbers but we serve a GREAT BIG GOD who allowed us to be a part of some huge things that week. I learned to never underestimate what God wants to do. He can use anything or anyone to accomplish His purpose. Since we didn't have a blog I updated my FB daily to keep people in the loop. I'm going to copy and paste those status' below to have for a memory. What a great adventure!

Guatemala Day 1: beautiful city/ beautiful people/ amazing ministry and staff to serve with/ challenged and inspired by YOUNG people who have sacrificed ALL to serve in this place/ incredibly blessed by and proud of this team!

Guatemala day 2: I can't even put into words the description of this day. As we went around the dinner table tonight sharing our "highs" there were way too many to share. Only one full day in this amazing place and 9 lives have already been deeply impacted by amazing peolpe. Best way to describe what we're doing: But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG) thanks for all the prayers...everyone is healthy and we start a very full week tomorrow! What a blessing to be here and serve...our hearts are full...all glory to our GREAT GOD!

Guatemala Day 3: we hit the ground running! The words of an old song come to mind tonight "little is much when God is in it..." Our team may be small in numbers but through Christ, we are seeing and experiencing so much. Highs of the day {per our team time} a rainbow in the sky~even when there was no rain/a woman in her 60's being able to see well for the 1st time/helping give better eyesight to a 15yr old/unsolicited and unconditional love from these precious people/going around the table and sharing our highs of the day as a group/worship in the salon....lets just's been an incredible day! Can't wipe the smiles off of our faces!

Guatemala Day 4: the best way to sum up this day was what took place around our dinner table tonight...LOADS OF LAUGHTER! We are all definitely enjoying this journey! We are seeing miracles before our very eyes...we are using our bodies in service both at this home and in other children's homes...people have been given the opportunity to see clearly for the 1st time in their lives...We have literally felt the love of God pour out of these precious people...we had the opportunity of loving on one of the house moms today {a 22 yr. old single girl who has devoted her life to what God has asked of her and right now that looks like caring for 10 4-6yr old children...seriously~that SCREAMS sacrifice and dedication}...the boys enjoyed a game of soccer with the kids and I'm pretty sure I saw Josh and Cade turned into "horses" so the ninos could be "cowboys"'s been a GRANDIOSO day!

Just so everyone knows...we are all ok here in Guatemala. We all felt the earthquake and it was a big one but we are all safe. The area that was greatly affected is further west of us...thank you for all the prayers and concerns! What an adventure!

Guatemala Day 5: NEVER a dull moment! Eye care team left bright and early for another children's home with 350+ children...they were able to see 215 of them today! 7.4 earthquake...for real! Josh and Cade have some serious painting skills and were also a huge help in the baby house today! Lisa, Meghan and I sorted through all the donations...the joy on the house mom's faces said it all...priceless! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be cutting babies hair while listening to Christmas music being played in Guatemala...we are definitely having the time of our lives serving here! We are humbled and blessed that we get to be a teeny weeny part of what God is doing here!

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9 NLT)

Guatemala Day 6: not enough words to describe this day...from painting at the clinic to kids moment with Lisa to tons more haircuts and loving on all the precious children...our day got even better when the eye care team came back and shared all their stories with us...lets just say lots of tears! There are a ton of amazing stories from this week...PLEASE ASK US! We want to share!!! And then the icing on the cake was the send-off they have us tonight: each home {8 of them} got up individually and thanked us with cards/songs/skits for being was priceless! What a wonderful week! We will end our time here tonight with Barnabas {encouragement} Time and then we are off to Antigua bright and early. Thank you for all the prayers...God is SO GOOD!

Guatemala Team is in Houston...bodies tired but hearts full!

What a great team, a great week...and a GREAT GOD! It was truly a week I won't soon forget and one that continues to keep me on my knees asking God what my role is in HIS great plan for orphans.

James 1:26-27 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.