Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fresh Starts & New Beginnings!


New Year's Eve is my favorite holiday and I get nothing but crazy looks each time I share this. Most people really have a bad taste in their mouth. And who could blame them with all this campaigning? I adore New Years because it takes my focus and puts it on God so strongly. So please spare me your hissing during my New Year's Eve or on anything that brings my heart to God. :)

New Year's Eve is a reminder of fresh starts and new beginnings. [and who doesn't need that in their lives?] The holiday seals in my spirit the reminder that anyone can have a fresh start and new beginning at any moment in Jesus Christ! In many ways, New Year's Eve is my personal reminder and celebration of the grace and mercy given to me. Go Jesus! 

In America, campaigns are a way of life. There are political campaigns, weigh loss campaigns, advertising campaigns, volunteer, media, military and also church campaigns. Campaigns aren't wrong but we forget how overwhelming or bombarding they have become in our every day life.

During the New Year's celebration through January a familiar campaign rises: to change & grow. "What's your theme for this year? What are your health goals? Tell me your resolutions. What are your spiritual goals? What are your financial goals?" Honestly, no wonder people dislike New Years - there's no other time in the year when people look around themselves and become so dissatisfied! Which is probably evil just working it's craft after so many people have just spent the holidays of joy, thanksgiving and focus on Christ. 

My friends, I hope you have goals, have words, have scriptures, and...have campaigns even, but I pray you take them personally and indiviudally from God. I hope we are careful of our pressure on others to do what we do or to slightly critique them if God directs them differently. [And before anyone gets defensive, may I share that I do not have any single person in mind, maybe I'm speaking more to myself of what I must be careful of - just saying. *smile* ]

I will stand with much conviction to anyone and share over and over and over again that while I totally believe in goals, dreams, change and growth - still I believe in something even bigger!

God. Letting God decide. Letting God direct me. His timing.

This is a lesson I've been learning even though my health issues. I am asking Him to show me how He wants to grow and teach me in the upcoming year. This has made all the difference in my walk with Him and keeping it fresh. This also tends to keep me from having a demanding heart toward God even about spiritual things. Here are some verses I mediate on and hold to in this: Psalm 32: 8-9, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, John 14:26, Romans 8:26, and especially 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Check out this story to see this in action in my life: Get Ur Good On

Anyway, my prayer is for a focus to shift toward a trust in God to lead and teach you in whatever way He deems best. In Whatever Way. And even more, my prayer is that the New Year be a celebration of our fresh starts and new adventures through our Saviour.  

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feathers in My Hat - Victory Jar


As 2012 slides to a close, I take out my "Victories" jar and sift through the slips of paper. This is the first year I've kept the jar so I'm excited to relive and remember the great moments of 2012 before shifting my focus in excitement to 2013. The reason I started this is because I tend to focus on the negative much more than the positive. On any given day if you were to ask me how my day was all the things that go wrong tend to pop into my mind. So I'm trying to change my mental habits and this is one way I'm repenting. There are over 60 pieces of paper so here are just some highlights below. You can select anything bold and in italics to go to a post about it.
Some items are big while some are so small I didn't even include them here but the point is to bring my mind to a better, healthy place for both perspective and praises to God. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Miss Rosebell & Update from Purity

I opened my Compassion website to find I had a Christmas present. It was another young woman who needed someone to write to her. Meet Miss Rosebell Nshemereirwe from Uganda.



She is 17 going on 18 - yes the Sound of Music was just on TV recently so that song started going through my head- ha. Her birthday is in Feb. She lives with her mom and grandma. Her father has passed away. She enjoys story-telling, singing and reading. Some of her chores include helping in the kitchen, caring for their animals, washing clothes and helping with the garden. The community center provides her with Bible teaching, health education, games, community service opportunities, educational field trips and group discussions while also offering adult literacy programs, health education and parenting skills workshops for her family. Adults that are able to find work in Rweibaare tend to make just $11 per month. I was so excited to add her to my little Compassion Circle that I sent her an email letter as soon as I saw her.


I also received an updated form letter from Purity that shared with me that she sleeps on a bed, gets her food from the market and washes her clothes in a basin. Her actual home is made of wood with a dirt "earthen" floor and has iron sheets on the roof. They have no electricity. In her letter the translator wrote, "Purity is very happy to get this chance to write to you. She is fine and hopes that you are also fine and healthy. She is very happy because in Kenya it is now a rainy season and the place is green and beautiful. She hopes that people will gain enough harvest which has not happened for the last five years. She loves you so much."


My heart was torn a bit by this letter. Though the words are happy the picture she drew for me was not. I asked some other sponsors if they had received drawings like this and was helped in my heart by their responses:

Purity's drawing
Kelli: That is a sad picture.  :(  Hopefully she will later draw happy people after she's felt your love. The realities of the situations our children are in can be hard to understand.  
Teresa: My boy in Ghana drew me a picture of a child with skinned knees, a bleeding forehead, and a missing shoe. I asked him what happened to the boy in the drawing, but it wasn't long ago enough yet to have a response. I thought it unusual too. (PS: my boy is 13 years old and quite good at art I think, so I told him that too)
Kayla: As a preschool teacher, I know that child drawings are a huge way to learn how a child is feeling. Child psychologists look at drawings a lot to gain insight into what a child is thinking and experiencing in their lives. However, I also know as a preschool teacher, that some children just haven't grasped drawing a smile yet. Many of my students' pictures end up with a straight/angry/sad face, but that is just how they are drawing faces at that moment in their lives. Maybe you could ask why her drawing had a sad face.

So after their wonderful input, I've decided I'll write her and share that her drawing is good and ask her why the girl in the picture she drew was sad. And I think I'll also praise her for coloring so well inside the lines! (which she colored a pre-printed mouse as well).

With 2013 right around the corner, and me on vacation, I think I'll take some time and send cards to all four of the children to encourage them for the bright future God has planned for the New Year!

I'm linking up with Blogging from the Boonies

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writing to Inspire Others

Whether you are writing a friend, your family, or a child you sponsor, it's easy to hit a mental block in what to share. I try to remember when I'm writing that people, no matter where they live or where they are in life, get extremely beat down by negativity in our world. There are two questions I ask myself when I get stuck: 

What would I want to hear?

What postitive words have been shared with me that really made a terrific difference in my life now?

Such simple questions but answering them has really helped me to encourage others. Below are some examples of sentiments I've shared to love up on the two children I sponsor. (Wow, I have two! That just gave me chills *grin*) You'll see a pattern in what I share with them.
  • I looked at you and said to myself, 'Purity is going to make such a difference in the world.' I believe in you. You can do anything you set your mind to. 
  • I encourage you to dream big! God loves you so much and wants you to have your own dreams for your life. 
  • I like New Years because people get a fresh start. Everyone needs a fresh start in their lives. New Years makes me think about God because He can give us a fresh start at any moment through Jesus. That fact about God gives my heart a hug and makes me feel so loved. God loves you so much, so if you ever feel you need a fresh start, He can give it to you!
  • You are unique and totally special!
  • I had been praying specifically for God to guide me through Compassion International to a young man who will make a great impact in his community. I believe that young man is YOU!!
  • Seeing your photo made me smile. Thank you for the joy you carry. I am praying for you & your family each day.
  • You are doing great!
  • Dream big, Chidodolo! People might not always understand but God puts things on your heart & mind for a reason. God loves you so much. He wants to be a part of your dreams and goals.
  • Jeremiah 29:11-14a, God has plans for you, my friend, & wants a deep, real relationship with you. You are that special. I pray this inspires you.
  • Remember, someone is praying to God & asking his blessings on your name from the other side of the world. Me!

I hope a few of these inspire you in your writing or encouragement to others. Maybe they lifted you up in your spirit because it's what you needed to hear too? (or read - *grin) I hope so, because I think you are awesome! :D


Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

 
 
May your holiday season be merry and full of love.
May God bless your family and the time you have together.
May angels watch over you from above.
May you build memories to remember forever.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Great I Am

'Mary, did you know?' has become another favorite Christmas Carol of mine. It's descriptions about Jesus are beautiful! There are tons that I'm reflecting on in this song today. Below are the lyrics and you can click here to listen to Clay Aiken sing this song.


Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the mute will speak, the praises of the lamb!

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Noël

The song O Holy Night is so moving. Even though I spent some time on the poem it originated from, I wanted to also spend time on the song we so often sing. Here are the lines I'm meditating on with this song.
  • Jesus' coming helps me to see my soul's true worth
  • In all my trials, he was born to be my friend. *tears*
  • To never forget...the slave is my brother. Compassion.
  • Meditating on this powerful line: He knows my need, to my weakness is no stranger, Behold my King! Before Him lowly bend!

O Holy Night: John Sullivan Dwight's Version
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend.
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
Noël

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who is Good King Wencelas?

This song often comes up at Christmas although few people know anything about it. So who is King Wencelas? Well, he was actually a Duke (later declared a Saint), Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia and the song is trying to depict the way he is said to have lived his life.

The Christmas carol tells a story of Good King Wenceslas braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26). During the journey, his servant is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints through the deep snow.

This carol encourages me to not forget others during the Christmas season who are having a rough time. Also that like the servant, I must walk in my King's footsteps, step by step, to continue my journey, especially when I feel the way is hard. And yet, even if my way seems tough I need to remember that others are in need and I want to meet others needs and love them. Here's a link to the song, if you've forgotten the tune: Bing Crosby singing Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas: Neale's (1853)
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.
"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain. "
"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither. "
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.
"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly. "
In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Writing to Brightness

Think back to a time when someone shared words of encouragement with you that changed your life. Was it from your folks, your boss, a dear friend, or a random stranger? Or maybe those words were from a cool quote, a love letter, or from scriptures? Words are powerful, right? Words can be life changing!

Well, I just received an email from Compassion International and it seems there are a couple hundred kids [around about 550 so far] that have not received any letters or positive words of encouragement from their sponsors...in years! The bible teaches me that, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" in Proverbs 13:12. And then the verse goes on to say, "but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." It breaks my heart to think of a sponsored child waiting for a letter that never comes, year after year after year. Well, that's about to change for this young lady.

This is Zuhura. She just turned 17 in August and lives around the Arusha area in Tanzania. I'm told she's not heard from her sponsor in three years. Oh no! So Compassion has 'matched' me with her and I've become her "Correspondent." She is still sponsored by the other person, but Compassion has asked them if I could write to her and encourage her.

I looked up her name because it was so unique to see if I could find what it means and online it says her name means "Brightness." What a great name! Other things I've learned are that she enjoys:
  • Bicycling
  • Walking
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Listening to music


  • She lives with her mom and is a busy young woman who helps out with washing clothes, gardening/farming, running errands, cleaning, carries water, gathers firewood, teaching others, buying/selling in the marketplace, and helps out in the kitchen. Her mom is sometimes employed as a farmer but can make only about $10 per month. Yikes!

    So I'm about to begin writing to Miss Zuhura Adam Mpinga and I'm super excited to be able to encourage her, share my faith with her, and tell her how special she is to me and to God.

    Without any doubt, I believe that more important than just sponsoring children with my money is the honor and responsibility of writing them words of encouragement and hope about their life and the amazing God who loves them. She's about to get a feast of letters. haha.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    O Holy Night - Cantique de Noël

    Did you know that the carol O Holy Night was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877)? Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet, had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem. Below is the poem's english translation. This is what my heart loves about this poem and song:


    • Picturing the entire world thrilled with the hope of Jesus
    • The ardent light (or intense devotion) of my faith reminding me of Jesus so that just as the shepherds and kings where drawn to Christ by the star, may my faith always guide me back to Christ
    • Jesus has broken every bond...the earth is free and heaven is open! *chills*
    • Stand up and sing of our deliverence
     Cantique de Noël
    Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour, When God as man descended unto us
    To erase the stain of sin And to end the wrath of His Father.
    The entire world thrills with hope On this night that gives it a Savior.
    People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
    Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
    Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
    May the ardent light of our Faith Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
    As in ancient times a brilliant star Guided the Oriental kings there.
    The King of Kings was born in a humble manger; O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
    It is to your pride that God preaches.
    Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
    Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
    The Redeemer has broken every bond: The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
    He sees a brother where there was only a slave, Love unites those that iron had chained. Who will tell Him of our gratitude, For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
    People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
    Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
    Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

    I'll probably have another Coffee & Cozy just on the song just because it's moving in a whole unique way all it's own. Here's a link to Celine Dion singing O Holy Night

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Ana's Baskets

    I'm so excited about the December donation drive God put on my heart this year! I'm partnering with a woman named Ana to help domestic violence victims and their children. She has a program at an organization called Safe Haven. In her program, Ana's baskets, she collects cleaning supplies to give to clients who are leaving the shelter to go into their new residence away from the current nightmare they are fleeing. Since she was a former client...she really knows what would encourage them and be most helpful.  

    Ana was so excited when I emailed her to let her know. I'm calling the donation drive "A Fresh Start for a New Year!" I purchased a cute, heavy duty laundry basket and people are donating all kinds of cleaning supplies. Sometimes they are even just dropping supplies by my office when I'm at meetings and I don't even know who gave them. Ah, God bless those who are so generous in secret! I can just imagine how much help this will be to these victims of violence to know they are setting off on the right foot in their new homes!

    We all need a fresh start sometimes. :)

    Friday, December 7, 2012

    Too Busy During Christmas?

    Do you ever feel that the holiday season is so packed that your personal, unique times with God suffer?

    I SURE DO!
     
    I'm having that trouble right now. So as I was looking back at an old journal, I realized that in the past I would meditate on Christmas carols, study their history, find the scriptures they are based on, and sing a certain one all day. This has really helped me to stay focused on God during a season which can be so stressful and busy.

    I hope this idea helps you too in these few weeks before Christmas. Click this link to hear part of this beautiful carol sung by "Libera". In this carol below, what really moves me are these sentiments.
    • Rest for my heart and be merry, don't be discouraged because my Savior, the Christ, has been born! I'm personally so thankful to be born after he was born - I could praise God for that daily.
    • Jesus came to save me from Satan's power when I was going astray.
    • A tiding is like a news broadcast - Shout it out because we have this comfort and joy :)
    • Sing praise to God and embrace others in true love & brotherhood.
    • To not walk in shadow (or gloom) but be light because my sins are completely erased - completely!

    God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
    God rest ye [you], merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.
    Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day;
    To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.

    Chorus: O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
    O tidings of comfort and joy.

    From God our heavenly Father a blessed angel came;
    And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same;
    How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.
    Chorus:

    The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
    And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind,
    And went to Bethlehem straightaway this blessèd Babe to find.
    Chorus:

    But when to Bethlehem they came where our dear Savior lay,
    They found Him in a manger where oxen feed on hay;
    His mother Mary kneeling unto the Lord did pray.
    Chorus:

    Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
    And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
    And no more walking shadow your sins have been erased,
    Chorus

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Oh the blessings continue...

    #1 - I received Chidodolo's Compassion packet in the mail tonight. Yay! So I "emailed" my first letter to him. They have some nice templates online to use so I picked the one with the soccer ball. I think he'd like that. It's much different writing to someone who is his age, at 18, than it is with Purity, who is 8. I like it though. Some new things I learned about him are that he helps with cleaning and around the kitchen at home. Also, I have gotten more information about his hobbies. :) It seems he likes group games and is very active, as in he likes not only running, soccer/football but also acrobatics.

    #2 - God has blessed me recently to be able to pay off all the debt from my medical bills, put some cash into my savings account and to also provide both of my Compassion family's with a special extra gift. Compassion representatives will meet with each family and help them decide the best way to use the money. 100% of my additional gift goes right to them. Imagine what a small extra gift from me can purchase over there! I'm looking forward to seeing God work and I really pray that this reminds Purity, Chidodolo, and their families how special they are to Him.

    #3 - I've been rebuilding a friendship with an ex-boyfriend who I dated several years ago. It's been nice to just talk and laugh together again. And...*in my best Forrest Gump voice* that's all I have to say about that. :)

    #4 - I had a great time hanging out with a sister night before last. We talked and did a Dollar Tree run where we bought small items to put together in Zip-Lock bags. Most people call them "Blessing Bags" and the idea is that you offer them to people asking for money or help at stop lights. A few years ago, I had a men's shaving kit randomly in my car that was suppose to be for a raffle that didn't end up happening. I asked this guy, named Eric - knew his name because I often tried to encourage him when I was at this red light, if he could use it. He said yes so I passed it to him and drove away. The next day I saw him again. We didn't get to speak because I was in a lane that was further away but I noticed instantly he was completely clean, shaven, and put together. You could just tell he felt better. I saw that and my eyes started watering. It really is the little things, ya know? So in these two blessing bags that I made, I also put an encouragement note with scripture and I've been praying for God to get these bags into the hands of the man He's decided needs them. Here's a picture:


    They each include the following: Tooth brush (with small case) and paste, 3 razors, soap, socks, chap stick, tissue, floss, lotion, deodorant, wash cloth, shampoo, and a granola bar. (less than $18 to make both of them) I'm excited to see what God does!

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    One Year of Blogging!


    Those words are the perfect two words to begin today's post. 
    December marks one year of blogging for me!

    Blogging Benefits: 
    • I've connected with some wonderful bloggers
    • Silver Trumpets has been a great way to share what I'm learning in my faith
    • Some things I've written have inspired others
    • Since I've been so sick, blogging has been one way to keep people 'in the loop'
    • It's a resource for me to go back and read when I need encouragement

    Many more benefits? Yes, but let's get to today's post. *grin* I'm reading a book of stories written by women sharing their solo travel adventures. One woman in particular shared her writings of inspiration. She traveled once a month into nature to reflect and wrote about what she experienced. Have you done that lately? A recent experience I had while driving home the other day compelled me to write. Here it is...Enjoy!






    Quietude

    There is a river in the sky,
    set off in highlights of peacock blue & light rose pink,
    that continuously shifts its banks as the ripples of starlings fly south.
    The Texas November holds its breath
    right before the winter month's deep sigh
    and these little birds stretch out as far as one can see in either direction.
    It seems I could simply reach up
    for a wing of one black shadow
    to be whisped inside their flowing current to unknown
    adventurous perches and peace,
    ...and I am ready.

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Warriors without Lights

    One Million Lights is an organization I just came across just the other day. Here is a short video about it:

    Video: A Million Points of Light | Tony Sehgal

    After I watched the video and found the website, I came across a project where they had partnered with Compassion International in Kenya. I got so excited about the thought that possibly Purity was also helped. Here is the story below:


    Warriors without Lights
    The communities with whom we worked in Kenya, are made up almost entirely of Maasai people. They pride themselves on being fierce and strong. We admire their “can do” attitude and hard working lifestyles. From our first distribution in this region, we know how much of an impact the gift of light can be for this truly beautiful region of the world. With the help of our partner, Compassion International in Kenya, we sent 1000 solar lights to students in five schools. Special thanks to the students of Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park, California, who raised funds for this project! The students of these villages have been waiting for nearly a year for clean, safe light. Our lights have made it to a neighboring village, and these kids have seen how life-changing they have been for their neighbors. They are ready for their clean, safe solar light!

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Yellow & Breathe Deeply

     
    I had the chance to sit on my garden bench recently and enjoy the pretty day. It really is so good for my spirit! Here are some of my musings:



     
    Yellow
    Not all the beginning of winter is gloom.
    The fig leaves are a bright yellow 
    especially when the sun puts lip gloss on them.
    And they are happy in their color change
    for now they have a chance to float on air
    like the yellow butterflies in my garden;
    the ones they have been watching in envy.
    Since my home has yellow siding to contrast its bricks
    and the yellow sun in the cloudless sky
    tosses yellow beams of happiness
    which collect on the ground all around me,
    ...if I had the power to name today...
    " Yellow "  it would be.


     
    Breathe Deeply
    Breathe deeply...sometimes I have to remind myself.
    Just like I have to remind myself to rest my pen
    or set the laptop aside
    to let my eyes soak in my surrounds like my lungs tug in the air.
     
    I don't want to miss the butterflies flit
    or the way the grass does lyrical hip hop in the breeze.
    Some leaves still cherish their tree and sing their finale song
    - shall I not pause to listen and give ovation?

    I've let my body grow too stiff,
    so I'll stand and 'branch out' with the tree - it's a good teacher.
    My trees purge what they no longer need.
    I must do the same!

    I don't sit out here near enough.
    Lord, it's you that meets with me here on my garden bench;
    refreshing and strengthening me.
    I taste the bread and sip the juice
    while you fill our garden with healing angels.

    ...And I do feel better.


     

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    A Young Man from Tanzania

    Meet Chidodolo!

    This is a young man that I just began to sponsor, Chidodolo Willium John. This is how they wrote his name and since they kept addressing him as Chidodolo even though it looks like a last name to me - lol, I'll just go with that for now. Anyway, he is from Tanzania west of Dodoma. And yes, as you can probably tell, he is older - 18 years old. But I've been praying about sponsoring a 'boy' and specifically praying for one that would have a great impact on his community. Then I saw this huge smile and personality in the midst of a hard life and I thought - him.

    Funny enough, I was on the phone with mom showing her a few of the ones I was thinking of sponsoring and she accidentally selected Chidodolo and put him in her online cart without realizing it. "Ah mom, it's saying now that he's been sponsored already..oh well, that so great for him!"

    When she realized 10 minutes later that he was actually in her cart, I knew by the reaction of excitement in my spirit that he was the kid. Also, I happen to laugh with joy each time I see his happy face and his full length picture.  


    So what I've learned about him so far is that he carries water for the family, cares for the other children and washes clothes.  He participates in bible class, choir and camp at the compassion center. In school, his performance is above average. Soccer, singing and running seem to be his favorite activities. His mom is sometimes employed as a farmer which would help her to earn the equivalent of $6 per month. *yikes* My sponsorship helps support the center's provisions of bible teaching, medical exams, school tuition and supplies, tutoring, field trips and recreational activities.  

    I can't wait to write him, learn about him and his family...and tonight, the prayers officially begin!

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    The Next Mile: in my health


    Today I'm in a lot of pain. It woke me up at around 3am last night. This morning as I walk to the coffee pot, each step with my right foot shoots a sharp pain into the right side of my lower abdomen. I'm exhausted too.

    About two months ago I called the local pharmacist to ask questions about a prescription pill I've been taking for a few years (about 7yrs actually). It's been an amazing medicine - called Seasonique - yet even so it's been my suspicion that its side effects might be attributing to my hypersomnia. But each doctor I mention it to has blown me off and said that the hypersomnia side effect would have shown up 7 years ago but not now.

    Yet our bodies are ever changing and some thing that might have been fine 7 years ago might not be ideal for my body now. So I called the pharmacist since I've learned over the years that they 'know' medicine a bit better and doctors...well, not so much...and asked his thoughts. He said, "Well, it's probably not the cause, you've been taking it so long, but it does contain hormones so it's always a possibility."

    And after two years of searching for answers THAT was enough for me. I decided to quit taking it and see what happened. I knew it could take about 2 months for it to work out of my system so I decided I'd check my progress at the end of November and go from there.  The good news is I'm noticing my hypersomnia is getting better. Even though I still sleep about 9-10 hours at night, my daytime sleepiness is much less! woo-hoo!! Amen for progress.

    The flip side? Now that I'm not taking the medicine that helps with my Endometriosis, (click the medical term to read about that) my pain is returning and getting worse as the weeks roll by. I don't look forward to having this pain again. Would I rather be a 'sleeping beauty' than be in tears and doubled over? Maybe. But I must say what a blessing it has been to live pain free for so many years! Now it's time for my yearly exam anyway so I'll call my other doctor and set an appointment to talk about what is next. It might be time for surgery.

    That thought makes me sad because who knows what they will have to remove to get the endo but I read a scripture this morning in my Coffee & Cozy and am going to make it my focus today:

    " ...but the cheerful heart has a continual feast." Prov. 15:15b

    If I'm cheerful today it's because there is progress with my hypersomnia - it's going away! Also I've not been off the medicine long enough for the full pain of my endo to return yet, next I have a new step and direction to explore and so I am deciding to have a cheerful heart at this moment and feast even though everything's not 'perfect.'

    Thanks for reading and going on this journey with me. I'll keep ya updated. :)

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Thanksgiving Box for a Family in Need






    "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

    This verse, written by James in chapter 2:15-16 always moves my heart. This year, as in previous years, I have a collection box of food items in my office which I am typically able to pass along in secret to a family in need. Often I buy the turkey and my coworkers contribute the rest. The people I work with have SUCH generous hearts that there is usually much more food than what is needed for an average Thanksgiving meal! Yay. 

    The same morning I was praying to God about this year's Thanksgiving box, He also put it on my heart to have some kind of blanket or coat drive for December. So I'm praying and planning for that as well. Do you or your family have anything you are doing for those in need, or those who are under-served, or the forgotten during the winter/holiday season? I hope you'll share your ideas and plans with us!

    My prayer is that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, quality time with family or friends, and much rest and relaxation.

    May God bless you!

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Themed Letter: Under the Sea

    I've been in a 'writing' kind of mood lately so even though it's only been about two or three weeks since my last electronic email letter to Purity, I thought it would be nice to send her another handwritten and arranged package.

    I went to a local dollar store and found some stickers that matched paper in a correspondence kit Jill, over at the blog Daily Bread, sent me. I decided to have a 'Sea' themed package for Purity. Included are my handwritten letter on 'sea' paper, sea animal stickers and coloring pages plus a learn to draw page of a starfish.

    There are two items though that I'm the most excited about which are the 'Friends' picture of Purity and I together and the mazes. Our pictures are laminated on orange paper because orange is her favorite color. On the back I wrote the quote "Friendship is a sheltering tree." The mazes are exciting because of the font I found called "Mazey." You can get it on the website FontStruct. This is a FREE font you can download. You just need to have the caps lock on and the font size high then you can type any word and this brilliant font creates a long custom maze! I highlighted the words mine spells (which doesn't solve the puzzle because the 'halls' that make the letters aren't the complete path to make it from start to finish). I hope the maze will make her feel special and be fun for her to work on.


    As Kate Elwell, blogger over at Kids enRoute, mentioned on my previous post, getting these children's letters has a way of lifting your spirits when you are low. Also, as I create little packages to send Purity I'm able to cast aside all the drama that comes along in my own life and focus on what's important. Loving others.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    The Incomplete Picture: When God is Late


    I stumbled across this message a few Sunday's ago and it was so good for me. Have you ever asked the question:

    Why doesn't God do something about that?

    Well, whatever 'THAT' is, in your personal life, it can be huge in affecting your faith. This message goes over the story of Lazarus dying, why Jesus let him die and how through its example you can hold strong in your faith. The take-aways:

    1. God can do something.
    2. Sometimes He waits.
    3. And I can trust Him in the meantime.

    Here's the message, Enjoy! Your Move by Andy Stanley: When God is Late.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    An Emotional Margin


    Peace instead of stress. Calm instead of 'biting someones head off.' Flexibility instead of rigidness. Being mindful instead of mind full. What is an emotional margin? It's the space that you provide around your emotions so that you can better live Luke 10:27. For me it's a cushion, of sorts, that I should allow myself to have so that I won't be emotionally spent.

    Below are 3 points worth reflecting on from a man named Jeff Little of ways to create an emotional margin in your life.

    Reflection #1 Manage spending your energy, not your time.
    - learn to say no to good opportunities' "Every good opportunity isn't necessarily God's chosen opportunity for your particular season."
    - Luke 5:15-16; even Jesus withdrew sometimes

    Reflection #2 Restrict those cultural stimulants.
    - turn off electronics, news, & social media comparisons instead of drinking from it like a water hose
    - get alone with God
    - get more time with your family

    Reflection #3 Relationships are vital to a healthy emotional margin.
    - Romans 12:18; resolve conflicts with others; especially with EGR people (people in your life who you know that there is Extra Grace Required)
    - deal with unforgiveness
    - limit life-draining people and seek out life-giving people! :D

    
    Cartoon posted last week by becoming minimalist,

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Living Over, Not Under

    Below is a portion of a recent article I received in my inbox from Rest Ministries. The author, Lisa Copen, put so well not only how I feel sometimes but also helped to redirect my focus to Jesus. (which I loved!) Click the Rest Ministries link above to go directly to the article since some of the bolding is my emphasis. I hope you enjoy and have a safe weekend.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    “How are you?” we are asked.
    “Okay,” we reply. “Under the circumstances.”
    "Illness places us living “under” everything. The words that describe our life can feel abnormal. Many begin with “un” and we are always under.

    Illness is unidentified, unknown, uncharted, unnamed, underhanded, underestimated. We learn to live “under the weather.” We survive by realizing the name for our illness is an understatement in describing all that we will experience.

    Illness brings a breakdown in the body, symptoms are able to be anonymous–unwilling to share how they are created. They grow unbeknownst, unannounced, unsuspected.

    Our days of illness are unexplored, unpredictable, unmapped. We live with an undercurrent of frustration, questioning, daring to hope. We are always undergoing. We can become emotionally underfed, undernourished, and even undercut.

    Our lives can feel . . unsung.

    We feel underutilized, as though the pain we live with is underground, we are under-treated. And regardless of how much we fight, how desperately we live and attempt to avoid being underrated, the world tells us our absence is unexcused. That we are undervalued, an underachiever.

    An undertone of hopelessness can take over.

    under the circumstances2 Refusing to Live Under The Circumstances of Our IllnessBut life is bigger!


    Life is greater than all the “unders” in our life. In fact, if you are living under the circumstances, you should ask yourself, “What am I doing down here?”

    Jesus tells us that our lives should be filled with abundance. We can put aside the unders and look towards the “overs” in our life."

    John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." NIV

    "Our illness can be a thief. It will attempt to steal, kill, and destroy us. But Jesus has overcome. He has far greater plans for us when we STOP living under the circumstances.

    He has overcome, His love is over-flowing, our confessed sins will be forgiven and overlooked. He will overtake our battles for us, we can live overjoyed. He will be with us into overtime, He can overthrow our fears and, when we ask Him, overtake our lives, giving it glory and purpose and give us an over abundance of joy that we could never find elsewhere..."

    Our illness will constantly try to place us under the circumstances–but God has overcome. Live in the promises, not as the victim of a thief, and your entire life will change. You life can be overflowing, Never give your illness the power in your life it attempts to steal."

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    The Stars Were Magical


    Even at the edge of the city it's not often I can see many stars but last night was different. I had a very long day. The time change hasn't done much to help my IH. I feel as though I've almost lost an hour while most people gained because now I'm sleepy around 7:30pm. Last night I went straight from work to dinner with my good friend, Ivonne. For this reason and that, we'd not seen each other for almost a month. After a much needed and very inspiring girl's time, I drove home talking to another good friend, Angie, that I've been wanting to catch up with too! We talked well over an hour but it was so refreshing and I really needed that.

    Finally, around 9:45 I got cozy in bed and shut my eyes. Which popped open suddenly when I remembered I'd not set out the trash. *moan* Since I had also forgotten to set it out last week, I knew it couldn't wait so I got dressed and went to the garage to begin rolling bins out to the curb.

    The cool wind hit me as the garage door rolled up and I sighed a great big "God you're awesome" type of sign. Then I stepped out and looked up.

    "WHOA! Stars." There were no clouds, the sky was the darkest blue and these bright stars made me stop in my steps. After a few seconds, I went and got the second bin, parked it by its 'buddy' at the curb then walked over to the mailbox because I'd also forgotten to check the mail.

    "What's this? What's this!" The second envelope I pulled out had these words printed on it, "A message from your sponsored child." I literally clutched it to my heart, looked up again and that's the moment the stars were magical. I could almost see God pause to smile and look down at my beaming face. Connection. The night was full of connection! My friends, with God, and with little Purity.

    This is my first 'letter' from this little 8 year old and I wanted to share it with you :) Purity speaks and a woman there, by the name of Faith, writes it for her. On the back side of the letter I learn that Purity's grandma's name is Rebecca, her sister's name is Damaris and her best friend's name is Joy! Her best game is skipping rope, her favorite song is "Tesu wewe ni mkuu" or "Jesus, You are great," her favorite food - pancakes, best subject is English, best bible story is Samuel and her fav color...orange. I'm linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday so if you want to see more stories about the letters other sponsors are getting, go and check it out.

    Purity says hello and wants to know how you are doing and also your family. Purity says she feels highly favored and bless to have you as her sponsor and most of all a good friend. She says that she will forever pray for you for God to keep and sustain you (under?) his mercies. She says that you are an angel sent from above by God to help and be a friend to them. God bless you. Prayer request: Purity would like you to pray for her elderly grandmother and her sister too.

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    The Thankful Tree

    My Christmas tree pulls double duty in my house. It's too cute not too! :)

    I set it up early last year too and decorated it for fall but this year I decided to make simple 'ornaments' with words on it for what I am thankful for in my life at this moment.

    As I sat there with my cut-outs, I had to be careful not to pressure myself to feel bad if I left something or someone off. There is, of course, much more I'm thankful for but these were the 1st to come to mind so I gave myself permission to be satisfied and just enjoy. Another funny thing my mind does is to pressure myself to put 'the most important' things near the top of the tree. (Like that really matters or something) The point is just to be thankful!!! And that was so good for my heart.

    Want a few other ideas? Well, one year, when one of my best friends and I were roomies, we got a simple branch, put it in a coffee can filled with dirt and rocks, and cut out simple autumn leaves from card stock. We then spent a family night writing on the leaves what we were thankful for and hung them on the 'tree' with ribbon. Another idea I saw recenlty was to take an inexpensive table cloth for the month of November and have the family sit down to write with a marker a few things on the cloth they are thankful for that year. Then the following year, the family could simply pull it out again and add to it. This way they get to enjoy all the memories of thankfulness from the previous year and write thankful thoughts of the current.

    Do you have any ways you express thankfulness in your home? Please share with us! :) Below are a few close-ups of my simple ornaments of thankfulness and below them is something I'm extra thankful for tonight...





    
    Tonight I'm extra thankful for warm, oven baked stuffed apples
    paired with a glass of sweet Riesling. Yummers!!