Oh I Need Thee

20131205-20131219_RFS_EJS_PW_RJ_S.O.S Ministries Central America-264

(This picture doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog post, but I like the memory so I put it on here. This was a house visit… we found out that this family goes to La Esperanza church. They’ve been Christians for about 3 years. She was telling us some hard stuff in their life from actions they made before they were Christians, and we were encouraging her.)

I’m finding that it’s rather difficult to write or talk about the trip. It’s the sort of thing with such deep and far reaching impact that words just don’t really… cut it. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how it impacted me, and where I’m to go from here. And yet, I sometimes find myself slipping back into being Americanized again…

One of the things that stood out to me upon returning was the fact that I didn’t see my need of God here the way I did there…

I started out the trip having been awake for 20 something hours straight, and for the rest of the trip I only got about 5-6 hours of sleep per night (on fairly thin mattresses on the floor with various other complications like lights, talking, warm weather, and scorpions.) And I’m the sort of person that gets tired easily and needs 7-9 hours. Not only that, but I was sick the whole trip–the first week I had a cold from home, and the second week I had some minor stomach trouble which made me more tired and weak. On top of all that, there was the meeting of many, many new people–on the team and during ministry to the local people. And then there was the spiritual aspect. And the being much more active than normal combined with the much higher elevation than Florida. And so on and so forth.

The first morning I was there, I remember thinking, I am going to need time with God in the mornings more than I need sleep if I’m going to be effective. So I got up earlier than I had to every morning and spent time praying, reading the Bible, and thinking.

When I got back to the US, I thought, I NEED SLEEP. Which, I did. But I forgot than I still needed God more than I needed sleep. I forgot that spending time with Him first thing was what kept me going on the trip. And so those first few days at home were quite hard.

December 20th, 2013

“Well, we are back in the states. It’s even harder and more overwhelming than I imagined… when we got to the Atlanta airport last night, I saw a stupid story about Duck Dynasty on TV and a headline about Obama, plus tons of lights and people and motion and words, and I felt sick. I seriously wanted to go back. Gracie and I joked that we’d go back once we’d had our warm showers, haha.

In the airport we all sang “O Holy Night” (first verse) one last time… that was cool. Most people thought we were crazy; a few videoed it and a few joined in. A couple people clapped at the end. It was weird, though… I mean, in C.A., people look at you funny, but it America it’s like they are mad at you for simply being happy and having fun together.”

~~

December 21st, 2013

“I am still having a really hard time adjusting. I feel so out of place and I don’t know what to do. I’m getting annoyed really easily and everything just seems so overwhelming, even the trip. . . I feel so different but not in a good way.

I need to remember to trust God for here and that He has work for me in the US too.

It’s so hard going on stuff like this because then you don’t feel at home anywhere… I guess it is to help us remember that heaven is our home.”

~~

December 22nd, 2013

I realized something this morning–in CA it was abundantly clear that I needed God. I was tired; I was sick; I was in a strange place; I was doing things for Him that were out of my comfort zone; and so forth.

Do I need Him less here? No. But it is far easier to ignore the need here. It’s much easier to just do normal things that don’t require His supernatural strength.

This is why morning devos are easier to skip here. There–I knew I needed it and got up early to make sure I had 30 min. to an hour.

Here–I haven’t really done it yet, though I’ve still done a bit.

So… today it begins. I need Him; almost more, here. Here, the demons are far less obvious. Watchfulness is so important.”

I’d like to say that after that I’ve never missed morning devotions… but that’s not true. I still struggle with it, but I am making progress.

I’ve also been settling into my role in ministry here in America again–there is plenty to do if you look and are willing.

AND… I have another opportunity to go to Central America in about 6 weeks. 😀 😀 😀 This is a shorter trip (one week) with a difference focus and much smaller team. I am looking forward to seeing what God does!

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(Why I Haven’t Posted)

We’ve had rather a lot going on–these pictures are just a wee bit of what has happened since I last posted. I really will post more about the trip, but until then… here’s a taste of the craziness.

Traditional New Year’s eve party…

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(the fruit pizza is always a big deal)

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Church at HisRanch (like Central America, except in English and the people don’t get into the singing here like they do there.)

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Pastor Mark preaching

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Work… enjoying a gift from Elisa and Rachel.

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Learning Spanish! The English/Spanish Bible is super helpful.

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Cleaning Pregnancy Solutions with these crazy gals. (3 of my sisters, plus Ada and Althea who visited from PA for a week. We had a great time with them… you girls can come back any time!!!)

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Awkward beach foot picture

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Lovely girls

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Weird girls… 😉

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They look like models in this picture… not normally something I appreciate but in their case it was accidental so I don’t mind.

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Meanwhile us older girls aren’t as photogenic, but hey–we can jump.

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The Seagull Army. (I scared them off with my journal. Take that.)

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Just because fire looks cool.

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Pancake party!!

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New game we learned called “signs”. Quite fun and very odd.

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Hospitality Sunday! We had the Ruths over plus two Clarkes and two Wimers. (which is a lot of people.)

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Rebekah turned and gave me the darlingest grin. 😀

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Bright Lights! We talked about our trip to CA and taught them some of the games we played, along with “He decidido seguir a Cristo” (I have decided to follow Jesus). They are now more ready for the trip than we were. 😀

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We went to Orlando for our cousin Victoria’s birthday party… we did floating lanterns. If you haven’t done them, you should. It was epic.

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Esther being darling as usual.

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Dr. Parker spoke at church!! He does such a fantastic job. Looking forward to him preaching again this Sunday!

To the Daughters

Last time I wrote to the dads. Now I think it is time to talk to the daughters.

I know that for some of you, reading the last post I wrote was hard. Some of you cried a bit. Maybe more than a bit. And some of you didn’t, but you felt that heart twinge. Some of you have become hard, maybe, and “don’t care anymore”. Some of you, maybe, realized how blessed you are.

To all of you, there are a few things you need to know; especially after reading that last post.

The first thing I’d like to remind you of is that God is your Father if you are in Christ.

“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

Earthly fathers, no matter how wonderful, won’t be perfect. They won’t know what you need always, they won’t understand youalways, they won’t do the right thing always, they won’t always love you right, they won’t always know what to do, won’t always be able protect you.

Some dad hurt is inevitable. Don’t look at me, or some other girl, and think, if only I had her dad, everything would be great. ’tisn’t true.

But God is the perfect Father. He fills in those places that our earthly fathers don’t–and so much more.

And I get it–sometimes it’s hard to see. Sometimes we just want our dads to be all that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God is a good Father. But, ladies, we must not always rely on our feelings. We must trust God. We must ask Him to help us trust. He will, you know.

Remember that God is your Father.

I know it’s tempting, but you cannot blame your own sin on your father’s lack of attention or the pain he has caused. We are each responsible for our own sin before God–he for his, you for yours. For those whose dads have not been there, or have wounded you deeply–you are at a disadvantage, in a way, and it would be pointless to deny it. And yet, those of you who know Christ have a huge advantage, one that can overcome even the worst situations. It still hurts, absolutely, and that pain will probably never totally leave. But in Christ we have the power to be free from and resist sin. And if you have sinned (and who hasn’t?), confess it as yours. Don’t blame him.

Don’t excuse your sin based on your dad’s actions. Remember the power you have in Christ.

Some of you–all of you?–have hurts from your dad. Some of you have horribly deep hurts, ones I really can’t imagine fully. However, blessed as I am, I do understand a small corner of what it is like. I have been hurt as well–often unintentionally, but it is hard nonetheless.

And I have learned that forgiveness is not just words. And it is NOT easy. Some things–small, very small comparatively–have taken hours of prayer and constant choice for months to forgive, and even still there are times when it’s a choice.

But it is a choice you must make; or be destroyed inside.

Do not harbor bitterness.

Realize that God took your father’s sin so seriously that Jesus had to die to pay for it.

It is not your job to make your father pay. Holding on to the wrongs done to you will only hurt you more. You–we–must let go, must let God take care of them. And ask Him to bring healing. He will.

Forgive your father.

This next one may be a little hard to swallow, because we want to be loved how we want to be loved. Some of you may have great dads who do all sorts of things for you and take good care of you, and yet they don’t praise you and speak lovingly to you. And you really, really wish they would. I understand that.

But it is SO important that we recognize their love in whatever form it comes. Don’t wait for it to be perfectly exactly how you want it to be. Because guess what? It may never happen. And even if it did, you may be so bitter by then that you won’t even care. So be on the look out for ways your father loves you, even the tiniest things–and be grateful.

Accept and value your dad’s attempts at loving you.

And, finally, probably the hardest one. Especially for those of you who have been wounded terribly.

Love him anyway.

I know. I know. *sighs* The only way I would dare say such a thing to some of you is because Jesus does it–and if He is in you, it IS possible. And if you allow Him to work it in your heart, you will be blessed and he will be blessed and the world will be, too, even if they don’t know it.

For some of you, the only way you can love him is to pray for him. And that’s okay. But do it. You never can tell what God may do.

For the rest of you–find out what HE likes, the way HE receives love, and do that. Show him you love him and value him and need him.

Love and respect your father anyway.

And… that’s it.

Other than to say–well, there isn’t really anything to say. But my heart hurts for you, and I wish I could hug you and make it all better.

All I can do, though, is point you to your heavenly Father. And… *smiles* that is Something.

To the Dads

Esther has grown up quite a bit since this picture–she’s two now. But she still loves being with her Papa.

Now she is talking and talking and talking. There’s a funny thing she does, though. When Papa gets home, and she’s with him, she keeps repeating a little phrase. Over and over, she says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

She rarely says it to anyone else. I am amazed at how her little girl need to talk to her papa is showing up in that little phrase. Sure, she doesn’t really have anything “important” to say yet–she just rattles on about dogs or horses or whatever. But he listens, and she talks, and all’s right with her little world. If for some reason he gets distracted, she once again says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

I want to talk to you dads, and those who will be dads someday. I don’t think you get it, quite. I don’t think you understand HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE. How much what you do or don’t do affects your daughters.

I’m not talking about big things right now. I’m not talking about things like, “don’t beat them” or “don’t abandon them” or “don’t abuse them” or “supply all their physical needs”. Those are important, of course, and there are tragic amounts (even one would be tragic.) of dads that don’t even do those. But for those who do those–that isn’t all we need.

It’s the little things. Only a few things, really.

I have talked to girls who are crying, inside or outside.

Do you know why they are crying? Not because of boys, not really. Yeah, they have boy hurts. Lots of them. But that’s not the real, underlying hurt.

The real hurt is the Daddy hurt. The, “Carissa, my dad has NEVER told me I’m beautiful” hurt. Sure, many other guys have told her that. But not her dad. And it is just NOT the same. And that wound runs deep.

I know. It doesn’t make sense. Why should a few words make such a difference? Isn’t she being overly dramatic?

I don’t know why it makes such a difference, but it does. Unless you really want your girl to go searching for some random young fellow to tell her that she’s beautiful (and then abuse that beauty), you probably should think about this.

If you’ve never told your daughter that she is beautiful and pretty, please do. And please really mean it. Don’t compare her to some fake super model. See her beauty for what it is, “flaws” and all, and appreciate it. I’m talking about her face. Her eyes. And her inner beauty.

Maybe you do tell your daughter she’s beautiful, and maybe she doesn’t seem to care. Let me tell you right now: SHE DOES. She does care. So much more than you know. Don’t stop.

Dads, please tell your girls they are beautiful.

And then there’s hugs. Our culture is so messed up that sometimes dads are afraid to hug their girls once their bodies are womanly. Please, don’t be. I know it can be awkward, especially if you were raised in a family that wasn’t “huggy”. But we need dad hugs. We just do. If you don’t want to do full hugs, at least side hugs. At least put your arm around her shoulders. SOMETHING. Even non-huggy girls need some kind of appropriate fatherly physical affection. Even if they don’t seem to care. They do. They really, really do.

Please hug your girls.

Protection. Girls need kind, caring protection. We want it. I know, I know. We’ve been saying for a long time that we don’t need it, don’t want it, can handle ourselves.

But it isn’t true. They may seem to hate you for it, and they may even say they do. But they don’t. Even when I have been most upset about my father’s protection, underneath I have been so grateful. There is something so special about knowing that your dad will stand up for you, will do what he can to make sure you are safe. There’s something about knowing that he won’t let guys mess with you. It helps. We need it. We need to be protected and fought for and wanted. You have no idea…

Please protect your girls.

And, finally, please be safe to talk to. Your girls still want to talk to you, even if they aren’t as bold as 2 year old Esther with her, “Papa! Talk to you!”. 😉

But sometimes you scare us. Sometimes we think our hearts aren’t safe with you. Sometimes we think that you won’t care. Sometimes we think you’ll think we’re silly. Sometimes we think you won’t try to understand, that you’ll just start in with a “cure” or with condemnation. Sometimes we are wrong. But sometimes we think those things because of our past experiences. I don’t know your circumstances, but I want to encourage you to do whatever you can to open the lines of communication. Let your girls know that you love them and want to hear what is going on in their lives. Listen even if it doesn’t seem important. The important stuff, the things we really want to say, will come with time. After you listen to the random stuff.

Please listen to and talk to your girls.

And… that’s really it. (Besides praying for them and leading them in God’s ways.)

It’s not really complicated. Just hard, sometimes. But SO worth it. Those things that I just said may make all the difference for your daughter. And they might make all the difference for you.

One Year Ago…

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… I went to the Tampa airport and landed at the Buffalo Airport for Generations of Virtue’s new program, called J127. In between I wrote a lot of random things in my journal.

“Here I am–‘the date’ has arrived… I’m currently waiting to board (A novel experience [because normally we’re late and have to go right on the plane]) at my gate, C31. Mama and the five youngest left… they brought me here. It’s weird leaving them… or having them leave me, except I am leaving. Whatever. It’s confusing. 😛 No complications yet, except my chopsticks ‘went off’. The lady felt my bun and said something about, ‘I knew this would happen today–someone with chopsticks!’ haha.

. . .I just saw someone that looked like they were from India… I have a special connection with people from there ’cause of Rebeka. 🙂 There’s a lady with a sort of cowboy hat on, hehe. The blue shirted TSA people are scary looking. 😛 I can see a SW plane ahead to the left a bit…

Do you know what’s strange? I should feel alone, but I don’t. I guess that’s what comes of having Jesus with and in you…

. . . There are huge windows here. I love windows…

For all my being nervous before, I’m pretty calm. God again. 🙂

. . . I wonder how my room will be–how many roommates, and what sort of beds and furnishings. I expect it’ll be fairly plain, but I’m still interested.

Boy this is weird… just over a month ago it ’twas just a neat idea. Now there’s no turning back. Wonder how this will go…

This life of faith stuff is fun. And scary. And… kinda… easy? ‘Cause… I mean… it’s God. And He’s really awesome. Sooo… having faith He’ll come through isn’t real hard.

Life is so interesting. I like seeing people who look interested in it… sadly not many folks do. But a few.

I wonder where all these people are going… there’s always tons of things to wonder about people–but even more at airports, I think.

. . . Two new people came and sat down in front of me. One lady smiled–first ’twas fake, but it got real ’cause mine was. I like getting people to smile. 🙂

I counted nine people using devices and five not. I couldn’t see the rest. The new ladies aren’t so it’s 9-7 now. Some of the folks that were aren’t now, though. Which, good for them. (pardon me while I check mine.)

. . . So many straight faces around. Goodness people, stop taking this so serious! ‘we’re gonna fly in th’ air!’ [Tim Hawkins quote] 😀 I won’t get lonely with a journal, hehe.

. . . (Lady next to me just told someone to pray and leave it in God’s hands.)

They are calling my flight!!

Actually they were calling my flight to board. And I’m on! 😀 I’m one seat over from a guy with a black shirt that says, ‘Got Dirt?’ Haha, thought papa would like that. 🙂

I’m in a cloud! Wheee! 😀 It’s really white. I wonder if blizzards look that way. I am in front of the wing, almost in front–only three rows back.

3:43  Flying almost an hour now. 🙂 I’m excited. As usual, once my hand is to the plow and there’s no turning back, nervousness has subsided and excitement come in. 🙂

The view out the window is so fascinating. It changes really often and it’s always cool.

. . . Man, clouds are so cool!! 😀 And I’m really random. Ahem.

4:15 I must seem ADD. I keep switching what I’m doing… reading, writing, looking out the window, taking pictures–repeat. Oh well. My row mate is doing the same thing, except he’s reading a big thick manual, doing his laptop, and ‘sleeping’, haha.

. . .Whoa, city! There’s an x! Actually 3! I wonder what spot they mark. So I thought the windows got dusty–upon closer examination, it’s ice crystals! Coolness. Literally. 😀

5:29–I am here, at the Buffalo airport! The plane landed at 5:03. I have my bags and now I’m waiting for them to come…

. . . Why on earth do the baggage claims make a horrible alarm noise and flash red?! I always feel like I’ve done something wrong. 😛 #randomthingsatairports #twitter #RebekaFry

(say! a green shirt! The lady smiled when I looked up, except it was the ‘you-are-weird-and-caught-me-looking’ smile.)

10:45 pm- Well, I’m here! Supper got late (past 9) but it was yummy–chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions, corn, salad, tomato and basil and cheese salad, bread… think that’s all. The people here are friendly. I have 2 roommates–Victoria’s 19 and Amanda’s 21. I am tired. 😛 The Mission is pretty epic–definitely a big old house. It smells cool. The sunset and view on the way was splendid!

And thus our adventure began. This post would be much longer than it already is if I told you everything that happened in those nine weeks… If you’re really curious, you can go here to see more of the in-between.

Mostly, I got to know these people: (And yes, I even got to know myself better, haha.) And God.

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I guess I’ll just quote from the end of my J127 journal to sum it all up…

“It was quite the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever learned that much in 9 weeks, nor have I had that many different experiences.

I thought I would get homesick and miss my family lots, but I really didn’t. I think I just really focused on where I was and what I was doing, for once in my life. 🙂 Plus the Mission is awesome and I came to love it very soon, and the people are wonderful and we became a family very fast. And I really do love them too.

I think I succeeded pretty well at taking it like I hoped to… there’s always room for improvement, but I think I was pointed in the right direction. I could’ve done better at being open with my team, but I did better than I might have.

I’ve definitely grown a lot, though it’s hard to see…

I’m still not really… sure what it all means, what I’m supposed to do now… I mean there are things to apply where I am now, like some of the worship leading stuff in BL and such, but otherwise… I guess I just need to wait and listen to God on that. He’s perfectly capable of guiding me, as this trip has shown so well.

I feel such a responsibility to do something with it all–though, I guess I’ve got to remember that it’s a lot about being, too. More even than the doing. That’s really the important part.

Relational. haha… so true though. [In reference to a sort of inside joke]

Oh, I do miss them all… I am very excited to see my family too though.

. . . I think one of the main things [I learned] is to live in LOVE, not fear.”

I feel like I ought to say something deep about it all… but it’s the sort of thing that’s too broad and too deep to concisely explain its impact. So I guess I’ll just have to keep thinking about it. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to explain it a little better.

Anyway. I’m excited for the new batch of J127 students… I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time as well. Though I expect it’ll be quite different than ours was, haha. For instance they probably won’t eat tons of spicy Ramen and they probably won’t end up coloring their hair purple and they probably won’t end up having inside jokes involving sheep and scourging. 😉 But they’ll have their own crazy experiences and weird inside jokes… 🙂

My Life in Pictures

My life is quite varied, so these pictures will be as well. Enjoy the ride!

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We don’t have much for wrapping paper, so I usually make my own. This was for William’s 11th birthday. 🙂

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Just because she’s the cutest…

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I made up a fish recipe! It turned out pretty yummy… lemon, fresh garlic, rosemary from the garden, salt, cayenne, olive oil, and whatever else I put on, haha.

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I was playing around with my camera at church and got this shot. I thought it was pretty cool. (It’s through the doors in the back of the sanctuary)

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So Cheryl found this recipe on Pintrest, for pumpkin pancakes. And I made them. And YUM!!!

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Seriously, they were so good I made them again the next day for lunch. 😀

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We got flowers for Emily’s 17th birthday! 🙂

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Rose are so amazing…

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Bright lights has been going well! This was when they were making cards at our last meeting. I love how CREATIVE these girls are. It’s awesome. 😀

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Can you tell we’re excited about autumn?? Hannah and I put out the fall decor at Mann Tile.

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So, back in July, I was at that building there hearing about the vision for a Pregnancy Solutions location in North Port.

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And last Saturday (and the Saturday before) I was across the street, at the new location for Pregnancy Solutions! They are an awesome ministry, and we’re blessed to be able to help out!

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We tiled both of their bathrooms… Hannah and I mainly just helped get up the old flooring. 😛

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One of the finished bathrooms! I need to get better pics sometime soon…

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This is pretty much my favorite thing about Florida. This is at Publix…

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I love the sky. It’s always different, always beautiful.

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Communion/Fellowship meal!! My favorite Sunday of the month. 😀

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If you ever need chairs set up, just ask Grace Bible Church. We’ve got servant’s hearts, and we’re fast too.

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At the business, we finally got a SIGN!! Yippee!

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Josiah finding the perfect music for filling out his application to Central America. 😉 (Also, Esther. And Duckie.)

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So my purse broke last night at music lessons… and since it was just us girls, I asked if we could go look for a new one. This is what we came home with. 😀 Can you tell I have the trip on the brain?

Vell… there ya go. A glimpse into my life. 🙂

My Life Lately

So… the last week/two weeks have been intense, especially this past weekend. The good kind of intense.

It’s interesting how it works. I started praying more, and then I started getting lots of requests for prayer (Even though I didn’t announce that I was praying more), and lots of opportunities to serve. It’s been so awesome this time, too, because I feel like I finally have started learning to serve out of love and joy for God’s glory.

On Friday I was busy with housework and keeping my siblings busy… in the evening I went and took pictures of a young couple from church at the beach.

Saturday, Hannah and I helped scrape carpet glue off the floors in the new Pregnancy Solutions location (that is about five minutes or less away from our house!!) for a few hours and managed to get blisters on our hands (which was actually kind of cool in an odd sort of way. I know it’s very small, but there was something exciting about suffering in a physical way for Christ.). Then we cleaned and cooked in preparation for company the next day (I managed to burn both of my hands and my face with the jalapeno. Thankfully Hannah knew to put oil on it, so it only lasted a few minutes.) went shopping, and got Panera Bread. We rushed home, did a few last minute things, and then Mama, Emily and Esther got home! (with papa and William and Matthew who had gone to pick them up. They were in Orlando helping family.)

On Sunday a Missionary spoke and told about some opportunities for short term mission trips. Afterwards, he and two friends came and ate tacos with us. (yum!) After they left, I “randomly” decided to charge my phone. Then I took a nap. 😀 We started watching a movie, and then I checked my phone (which is actually a rare occurrence.) and deleted some texts since my inbox was full. Just as I finished that, I got a text from one of my friends and she ended up calling. We had a really good talk that lasted about an hour and a half. The day wasn’t over then either–Papa, Hannah, Emily and I went to church again and set up for Bright Lights.

Monday morning, Hannah and I were at work talking to Papa. And he said, “I think you two and Josiah should go to Central America in December.” We were like, um… okay! So we started looking up the website, printing stuff out, etc. Then we had to pull our focus back to Bright Lights, haha. So we prayed and talked about that… towards the end of the day, I had a talk with a cousin of mine who is quite troubled, and Hannah talked to another friend of ours on the phone who is also going through some really hard times. We picked up one of the BL girls, went home, ate chili and got stuff, went to church, picked up another girl and did Bright Lights. Later I talked to one of the BL girls on Facebook… she’s making hard but awesome decisions. Finally went to bed well after midnight… we were all excited and talking. 😛

There are many other little things that happened in the days before… conversations, prayers answered, new prayer requests and so on.

I guess I just wanted to mention all this to say that… God is amazing. It is an incredible privilege to serve Him. And PRAY. Seriously. That’s where all this other stuff starts. You’ll soon find, as I have, that an hour isn’t long enough.

Also–please pray for us as we get ready to go to Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) in three months!!

P.S. An hour of prayer early in the morning, even if you went to bed late, is much more energizing than coffee. Seriously, you should try it.

Other Things

Hi there.

I’m sort of at an impasse (inside mine own head, which is the worst place for that sort of thing), because I have other things to say that are not related (at least not directly) to the abortion/prolife series. And I really didn’t want to do this, I wanted to continue along nicely with my beautiful outline (That I haven’t even looked at in over a month.) and actually do a proper series for once.

But, alas, it’s just not happening. Sorry folks. I promise I will write all of that, though. It may be a little book. And I may show it to you sometime. Not sure. (Why did I suddenly think of the quote that nothing is certain in this world except for death and taxes? Besides, that isn’t even true. God is more certain that either. Ahem. Anyways.)

So. Now to try to talk about the Other Stuff. There’s a lot of it, this Other Stuff.

(And if you didn’t already notice, this is going to be a rambly post. It may very well make no sense at all. Or maybe different bits will make sense to different folks. One can hope…)

My personality (whatever that is) is INTP: which is also known as the Thinker. I live up to that quite well, I think. (Seriously, I didn’t mean to do that. I thought of saying it before I realized, and then when I realized I said it anyway.) INTPs are also known as “The Warmest Machine”–which may or may not make sense. But the gist of it is that my natural tendency is to think a great deal and feel very little. Which is a very queer way to be, at least if you’re female. I remember even very early on, when my sister Hannah was being praised for being so compassionate (She would cry when other people cried, even if she had no idea why they were crying.) and I’m just there like, “Why on earth are they crying, and why are you crying too, and that doesn’t make any sense, and how is this a good thing?”

It went along like that quite nicely (Sort of) for a long, long time. Sure, I cried–once a month. Nearly literally. Sometimes twice, or sometimes none.  Mostly over stupid things and mostly when I was really out of it. It wasn’t heart-crying.

Until. Until… I loved someone. A boy. And he–he loved me. It was really, really confusing. I still don’t get it. I don’t even know what love is. I only really started understanding it when this happened. And he was on the other side of the ocean, and there were other complications, and–I finally cried. I cried for a lot of reasons. But it was the first time in a very, very, very long time that I had cried because I hurt inside. (*wonders if I ever had before that time* *decides I probably had*)

It opened up this terrifying new world of feeling. I suppose it scary for anyone, but it is especially frighting if you have very little prior experience in that department. From that point on, I would actually cry about stuff. I realized, through him and through this experience, that crying was actually–actually okay. It was even… good. Which was very hard to wrap my head around. But I got it. I learned that pain was good. I learned that God teaches us through it. I learned that He is very near the brokenhearted. I learned that weakness is—is Good. Because then God can be strong in you and for you.

This went on quite some time. There were many ups and downs, many tears, many smiles. Things done right and things done wrong. Finally–he was going to come and visit us, for a month.

And then–and then there was… lightening. Cut right clean through our paths. In one moment, everything, everything, was different. He was……arrested. (Very long, complicated story that isn’t mine to tell.) We never even met.

That night in the airport–well, I will just quote something I wrote before.

Shocked, stunned. Cold flooding through me, my heart racing. Stiff. Still. Trying to comprehend. Matthew started wailing. Emily did too. I tried to calm her down.

Papa handed me his phone and told me to tell [his mom]. I couldn’t figure it out at all and I was shaking too hard anyway. I gave it to Emily and said I need to pray.

I looked around hurriedly… there was a place. I am still amazed that it was there… just an odd little area out of the way, with a plant in front of it. I went in there and got down on my knees.

I prayed so hard it was out loud. I couldn’t help it.

I prayed for him, for peace and safety. I prayed that God would be glorified in this. I told God that He was good even in this, that He knew.  I tried to pray Psalm 20 for him. I prayed that… that they’d let him go. I looked up, wishing, hoping against hope, that I’d see him. He wasn’t there.

I thought how strange it was that we were in the same building and yet… I couldn’t see him. He was there, but he wasn’t.

That was the beginning of a strange, wonderful and dark journey. I realized eventually that it was called “grieving”. Very odd thing. Don’t recommend it. 😛 (Just kidding… mostly.)

It’s been a year and almost 7 months. He’s still in prison. Away from his family, his home, nearly everything he held dear. Including me. I have barely been in contact with him over the past year and 4 months or so. I can’t–can’t explain how many layers of hard there have been. How utterly dark the path has grown. How hard it has been sometimes to simply be–alive. How sometimes (like day before yesterday) you feel like maybe, just maybe, you’re beginning to be more… normal again–like maybe, just maybe, the storm has really subsided. And then… not too much later, and you’re crying again, and you cry out to God and He helps you, but it’s–hard.

And all this is so confusing, so strange, so… deeply personal, that I am loathe to speak of it. I don’t even know why I am right now. And even to those who know, I don’t… don’t like that I STILL have such a hard time. That I STILL don’t know what to do, don’t know what’s right, don’t know what really happened. Because I like things to MAKE SENSE. And  this just plain doesn’t. Not in human terms, anyhow. And I suppose that’s what has kept me sane: looking above the human. In fact, I KNOW it is what has done it.

I look back on all that has happened in the past few years, and I see God’s incredible grace and goodness. He lovingly prepared me in countless small ways for this trial–something that you really can’t be prepared for. And yet… He did it. And even in the stripping away of everything, He was so kind. It all went away so gradually, one thing at a time. Oh, it was awful, believe me. But at least He didn’t take everything in that one night. And I saw–see–His wisdom in it all.

There have been an enormous number of ups and downs and wildly confused turns. I haven’t, by any means, handled this perfectly. There were a great many things I could’ve, should’ve done differently.

I never SAID that I didn’t trust God, but I learned it. At first, I think, I trusted Him. But wave after wave after wave after wave after–and eventually,  I wore down. Or, at least, I saw where I was lacking in trust. It was–has been–awful. Fear crept in and took a very deep hold on my heart.

And I still haven’t completely beaten it. I still am afraid. I still doubt, sometimes. I still have moments of–“I just don’t get it!!!!” But God is working. *smiles* He is so good…
I am learning to trust Him, more than ever. I am learning to rest in the greatness of who He is, of His love.

Well, this post has gone rather differently than I expected.

I was really going to write about the sorrow I know of in other’s hearts. I suppose… I am, in a way, because without my sorrow I would not understand (quite literally) the pain of others.

It my wonderful and terrible privilege to know the pain of so many who read this blog. The broken families. The loved ones gone in one way or another. The trafficking. The physical weakness. The broken hearts. The self-harm. The infertility. And so many other things. It makes me think much harder over what I say and don’t say.

I guess… I guess I just want to say… that… I am so glad.

God has given me an amazing gift in all of my tangled sorrow. The gift of compassion. Oh, what a terrible cost. But it is worth it.

*grins a bit* I’m still awful at showing it, though. So thank you to those who I try to comfort for your patience with my awkward hugs and my attempts at just listening and not fixing (which very often fail. :P).

But know this–my heart hurts so badly for your pain.

Especially when I pray. And that’s the thing. This is such a God-gift. I have long moaned (inwardly) over my lack of ability to feel other’s pain and comfort them appropriately–my natural lack of love, basically. But I realized that it’s actually a blessing–because now when I am able to be like that, I know that it’s God working in me. I still get in the way sometimes though. 😛

For those readers whose pain I know, and for those whose pain I don’t–hold on. God is really, truly good. And He really, truly does know what He’s doing. And He really, truly can make beauty out of your ashes. I know it’s impossible. But this is God we are talking about.

*smiles*

Part One: Introduction

Well, I got excited and finished the first part of my new series… hopefully the rest will be soon to follow!

Usually, I’ve managed to keep my ranting about various controversial issues to private conversations, and kept primarily to the most important Controversy on my blogs. (Namely, God.)

However… I’ve been reading many, many articles, comments, and so forth on both sides of the Abortion issue, and… I think it’s time for me to say something. Not that I can solve the problem by posting about it, or that I think I have all the answers. I can only do what one person CAN do–provide people with something to think about, and ask and trust God for the heart-change. That, I can and will do.

I’m not an expert.

I’m just a thinker, big sister, discipler of girls, concerned citizen, and follower of Christ.

Oh, and a writer.

And, naturally, with that combination–I started writing. It was intended to be one blog post–but over 2,000 words in with much more to say, I decided to split it up into several posts.

The next morning, I wrote a fancy outline of the issues I wanted to address (You must know how serious this is. I don’t write outlines any more. That was for writing papers for school. Not for blog posts.) It grew and grew until I realized that this was going to be quite the series. I think I’m even going to call them articles…

While we’ve already established that I’m not an expert, I do bring some unique things to this topic. For instance, my brain. 😛 Everyone thinks differently from everyone else—I just think really differently. I am skilled at making connections (everything is eventually connected in my mind.) and at taking large amounts of information and condensing them. I’m also fairly decent at thinking logically, something that is tragically lacking in this world. (haha, but it’s true!!)

I do not, however, bring compassion. I really am not caring by nature, especially to the masses… if it was just me talking, I’d just say something along the lines of: “Abortion is factually, logically and statistically stupid. Don’t do it. Also just don’t get in that situation.” 😛 The compassion that (hopefully) comes across in these articles you must directly attribute to Christ in me.

I am hoping that I will be able to take all of the things I have read, watched and learned and connect them all together in a caring, concise and helpful way in these articles.

I’m going to cover (some of) the reasons we have this problem in our country and some possible solutions, common objections to pro-lifers/the pro-life movement and responses to them, the dark side of abortion and contraception—and, finally (and maybe most importantly) problems with the pro-life movement and what we can do.

This issue is at once terribly complex and startlingly simple.

It is horribly complex, because there are so many factors–so many things that got us to this place; so many things that are making the problem worse; so many tragic situations.

It’s startlingly simple, because a baby in the womb is an innocent human life and to end it is wrong.

First, before we get to my articles…a story. The story of my little brother, the one who died at the same age many babies are aborted. I still remember how he looked. There wasn’t and isn’t the slightest doubt that he was a baby. That is one of the many experiences in my life that have led me to have such a strong stance on this topic.

I haven’t been as involved as I could have been… but I have done some things.

There was the 40 day dessert fast, when I focused on praying for the unborn. It was, I think, the first time I ever realized how HARD it is for some of these moms. This was back when I didn’t cry—but I actually did cry, praying for them. Before that time, in my logical, not very emotional way, I thought they should just–not do it. Now, I have grown to recognize even more the challenges some of these mothers face, and I truly have compassion for them, both the ones I know and the ones I don’t.

I also participated in raising money for a local crisis pregnancy center (Pregnancy Solutions.) by walking in their annual walk-for-life. I was sick, but I went and walked a few miles anyways.

I’ve started knitting baby hats to donate to Pregnancy Solution’s boutique… I’ll be going to our church tomorrow to knit with others who are also knitting things for the babies.

I’ve been reading, reading, reading… pro-life and pro-choice articles. I’ll be honest, I read more pro-life. The pro-choice ones get me ranting even more than the pro-life ones do. 😛

I have been saving up to give what little extra money I have (practically all) to Pregnancy Solutions.

I’ve been praying, praying lots. For the crisis pregnancy centers, for the mothers, for the babies, for the hearts of those who have suffered an abortion, for the lawmakers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to a volunteer info session for the Pregnancy Solutions branch that’s opening in North Port. Not sure what God is going to do there.

I guess the point is that I really care about this issue. I don’t just have a bunch of facts. This is about people. Real people, people I know. People who have been brave enough to not get an abortion in cases where others might have. People who have had an abortion.

And it’s not just something I talk about and write about. I’m doing things to help. Not enough. But I’m doing something. And I’m going to keep doing more.

Please join me.

The next post will be about the things I see that are causing this problem… stay tuned!

 

Happy Things

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For some reason I keep taking pictures of the moon lately. It just makes me happy I guess…

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Sunflower number one!

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I got to see some of my friends from J127 (and meet a new friend) at the FPEA homeschool convention! (And also got to help pack up. :D)

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Hehe… my papa posing with an Apple sticker in the middle of cleaning out the Cave.

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Tomatoes!!

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Isn’t it pretty??

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All from the garden!

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Tortoise out back of the store… he was eating grass viciously. I did not think such a thing was possible until I watched him. What should we call him?

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Very well attended vision breakfast for Pregnancy Solutions… they have now raised all the money they needed to have a center in North Port!!! This is a really big, really exciting God thing.

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We finally had a Leader’s Training with five girls from Bright Lights!!

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Part of the yummy lunch we had… Raspberry lemon trifle for dessert!

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Sunflower number two!

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Esther and Sword.

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Matthew and rain and sword.

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Thai Basil Coconut Curry that I made! I just looked at a bunch of recipes and made up my own version. And it actually tasted good. It was awesome. Oh! Also the Thai Basil and onion were from our garden. 😀

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Esther blowing out candles on her strawberry-lemonade cupcakes. 😀

There ya go, some happy things in my life lately. 🙂