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:

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 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!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Open Wide Your Prayers

An item I've really appreciated that came in my Compassion International's welcome packet is a little bookmark I keep by my bedside. It provides suggestions of 31 things I could pray for as I'm sponsoring Purity. And wow, most people could use these if you are looking for ideas and ways to open wide your prayer life...enjoy!