Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How He Loves

Being exhausted from jet lag and not enough sleep, I almost didn't go to church on Sunday morning. But, my conscience got the better of me, and I knew the thing to do would be to worship my Savior for the good He has done, even if my stomach hurt and my eyes heavy. My Lord deserves my praise; I deserve nothing. 

And God sure has a way of speaking in sermons that I least expect it.

I'm not sure what the exact scripture was that was read on Sunday, but I do know that John 15:13 says something very similar (and maybe that was the verse). "Greater love has no one that this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Greater than what love? Jesus' love. The love when He healed the blind man; the love when He spoke to the woman at the well; the love He had for His mother; the love He had for you, for me, for His friends when He died on the cross. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." Jesus laid down His life for His friends. You are His friend. You are loved. You are worth more than the world and you were created for a purpose - to love and to be loved.

To love. Love. So often in the Western world we hear this world and automatically think "romance." But there are other meanings to love. Jesus didn't have romantic feelings for the world, He had brotherly love. The kind of love you have for your family and close friends. The kind of love that sits and listens when your friend needs it most even if you'd rather be doing something else. The kind of love that you have when you clean up the mess nobody else wants to, but it is a blessing to your mom. The kind of love you have when you offer a meal to the homeless. The kind of love that is always open when someone needs it most, even if it's midnight and you want to sleep. The kind of love that holds a crying child, or torn teenager. The kind of love that a mother has for her child. This is the love of Christ. This is the "laying of our lives." The little things that seem annoying are the big things that change lives. 

This is what I took away from the sermon on Sunday, and then promptly forgot due to work and sleep. And then on Tuesday I started a discipleship program and the first memory verse was John 15:13. 

I think God was trying to get a point across. 

So will you join me in my challenge to live a live of loving others? But don't forget to let others love you too. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Where I Stand
I was in Seattle last weekend being a tourist and all...we visited Chihuly's glass gardens, and I captured this cool shot. 

2. Pink
We also went to the Science Center, which had these lovely butterfly gardens. I really love the black and white against the pink.

3. Technology
Sort of a long shot here, but see those giraffe looking cranes? Talk about amazing technology. They just got some new cranes in (not pictured, sorry!) that came from China already assembled: three to a ship. Imagine getting that off a ship and standing in the air! The cranes also load a box onto ships every 60-90 seconds. Pretty amazing invention in my opinion.

4. Something New
I've been wanting to get a Henna tattoo for a couple years now, and when I was at a street fair in Seattle I got one! It's already fading away, but it was fun to have. 

5. Favorite Place
Iced coffee + 80 degrees + beach/boat rides = a very happy me. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

one year

52 hours in airplanes
coast to coast
across oceans
visited two countries
countless hours on the road
moved to Tanzania
learned a new language
worked with orphans
came back to America
made new friends
worked three different jobs
took college classes
graduated high school
filled three journals
took countless pictures

A lot can happen in a year. And those are just the highlights.

That first time I went to an African church and we were escorted to the very front in hard, wooden benches. I remember the enthusiasm in their worship and the little girl who was across the isle who was the first to steal my heart.

I remember the first time I saw Davie, the little neighbor boy who you hear about quite often. He was the most hostile, quiet, sad, misbehaved little child I ever did see (except for his brother). But his transformation was amazing.

I remember the first time I saw our house, and all the mess of it. The broken toilet and shower, ugly yellow cracked walls, broken doors, un-level floors, cockroach infested kitchen and all. The yard that needed mowing. The water pipes needing fixed. But we had a house, and that's all that mattered.

I remember going into town with Kat and dala dala rides. When all the young men said we were to be their wives and we told them they "really wouldn't want to live with us". When the street vendors tried to charge us twice as much and were surprised to see us refuse. When everyone wanted to touch the wazungu and be our friend. And that street food was the best I've ever tasted.

I remember the first time I set foot into the orphanage where a couple hours each day would be spent. The chaotic mess inside that compound sent me out the door as fast as I went in. My dream of working in an orphanage was shot when I saw this place, but at the same time I couldn't give up on those kids. They needed me more than anyone else because they needed Jesus' love and that's why I stayed.

I remember singing with the kids and swinging with the kids. I remember running down the streets and laughing till we dropped. I remember cleaning up Junior's vomit and hugging teary-eyed Saguta. I remember laughing with the ladies in the kitchen and trying to cut tomatoes with the dullest knife in the world. I remember playing Frisbee and doing homework with the fifth graders. And I remember when Lalente informed me that "No, Speto (even Africans can't pronounce the "sv"), you can't leave."

When Saidi told me she would just have to go to America with me if I couldn't stay. That was the first time my heart broke. That was when I decided that my life would include lots of little black faces in the future, but in a time that they can call me "Mom" and I will never have to leave them.

This year brought me to new places and meeting new faces. Falling in love with lots of people and my heart broke with a pain I never want to endure again, but I would never trade this year for anything.

A year ago I set foot on an airplane and I had no idea the change it would bring.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Details 
My mom, sisters and I attended a mother-daughter tea yesterday afternoon (and all but one of these pictures is from there) and I just loved the table decor. We each got to take one cup home. 

2. Precious
Just look at that precious face!

3. Hungary 
Miss Ruth had a lovely spread for us.

4. Water
Or tea?

5. Wide Angle 
This was taken from the senior photoshoot I had last week. I don't know if it's wide angle, but it's the closest to it I could find.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Embarrassment, or not so much?

"Oh! And this part of ________ movie...that was so great. Remember _______? *laughs and looks at you to say something about movie or song or book that they just menioned*"

I just laugh along with whatever they are talking about, even though I have no clue. Or it turns out like this:
"I haven't seen that one."
"You haven't WHAT?! You deprived child!"

And it hurts. Kind of. And it's embarrassing. Sort of. And I guess because of not seeing Star Wars or reading Harry Potter, I am deprived and immature and weird. (Just to clarify, I do not have anything against either of those two things and now you probably do think I'm weird.)

I grew up without a TV in the house. I grew up without listening to the latest music and reading the popular books. But that does not mean I grew up without music or books; it's in our blood, we love music and books. My parents just wanted us to put good things into our ears and eyes and minds. And so we grew gardens and went on hikes and read good books and played music. We ate homegrown meals as a family around the table every single day. We had a little bit of cream with our coffee and a bit of bread with our butter. We shared jokes. We didn't always get along with each other and we picked fights. But we prayed together and worshiped together. We studied God's word together and we went to Africa together.

My parents taught (and still teach) us to do what is worthy, to live wholly and to love God. They taught us right from wrong, but gave us free will as we grew older, knowing that we would essentially have to choose how we would live. But they still encouraged and taught. Sometimes I didn't understand why I couldn't go here or there or stay out late with friends, but now I am thankful that my parents taught me to be responsible, thoughtful, compassionate and faithful. My life has been far from perfect, but it has been governed by The One who is.

So I might get embarrassed when I don't know what a book or movie is, but I am not at all embarrassed that my mind is not filled with ugly words or corrupt images. The goal of a Christian should be to become like Christ, and that is no easy task of humility, love, being ridiculed and persecution. I like the way a missionary friend put it "If your life as a Christian is easy, then you're doing something wrong." However, that is not saying that we cannot be happy or peaceful. That is saying that we are to constantly strive to be like Christ.

So the next time you don't know what it is someone is talking about, don't be embarrassed, I'm positive you know stuff that they haven't a clue about. What is popular isn't always right and what is right isn't always popular. Thank you, Albert Einstein, for reminding us of that thought.

I apologize if this post is kind of disorganized. These thoughts have been on my mind a lot lately and it makes me sad when young people fall into peer pressure just to be liked or accepted, or that people have to be a certain way or read certain books or watch certain movies to be accepted. Go out there and STAND. 
Stand for Christ. 
Tell of His greatness. 
Ask questions. 
Never give up. 
Determine to live wholly. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Joanna and Joel | Seniors 2014

It was an honor to shoot Joanna and Joel's senior pictures. I've known these two for as long as I can remember and it's hard to believe we're all graduating this year! Joanna's sweet demeanor is a blessing in my life and I treasure our friendship. Joel brings laughter to the room the moment he enters...hence a very fun photoshoot. :) It'll be interesting to see where life brings each of us, but I know that we'll all be friends for a lifetime no matter what.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A wondrous gift from God to me
Another glorious day;
And may I use it well for Thee
Dear Lord in every way.

I hope to censor every thought
And weigh each word with care;
That I may walk a path of peace
That's found through love and prayer.
(c) Ollie Giltner