Sunday, November 29, 2009

prodigal sister and the fam

so i just listened to a sermon online and it was talking about the prodigal son and that whole story... i need to share something else before i get back to the rest of what this prodigal son story was speaking to my heart about.

so...about two and a half years ago my sister and i went to europe together. before we left i had a dream that she was the prodigal son and lost everything she had. at the time i had the dream she was married to her husband of almost ten years and had four kids ages 10, 8, 5, and 18 months. the moment we arrived in europe together i found out my sister had been struggling in her marriage for quite some time. she had at least two "boy-friends" she had met online and told me she was going to get a divorce when she got home. she got home from europe and... two weeks later she moved out of state leaving her husband and four daughters. she had made a verbal agreement with her husband that in a year she would get custody of the girls. needless to say, the state had a different view of the situation and granted full custody of the girls to my now ex brother in law and considered that she chose to abandon her family giving her very limited rights to her girls. the eldest of her daughters was born of a different father but raised by the other girls' dad for those almost ten years of marriage. her eldest daughters father (and grandparents) found out she had left the state and marched over and ripped my niece away from the family she had known all of her life. so my sis has gone back and forth from the state away from her girls back to where they live a few times in the past two and a half years.
she has now been living in the same city with the three younger girls for more than six months.

my mom talks to my sister multiple times a day. my sister doesn't even call me on my birthday or if i am in the hospital anymore. she knows how i feel about the choices she has made and knows i will have a hard time believing anything she says to me because the trust is not there.

two weeks ago my sister found out that the father of the three younger girls is moving to another state and taking the girls with him and his new wife. this move is meant to sever the relationships between my sis and her girls. two days ago my sis found out that the father of her eldest daughter is taking her to court again and that the state is considering her an unfit mother and that they are most likely going to grant him full custody. my sis is broken right now. i am having a really hard time with this. i have no idea what that would feel like as a mother to have your children taken away from you... and then again she chose to leave her girls behind just two and a half years ago.

after listening to the story of the prodigal son i am struggling not only with the facts that i thought my sister had lost everything and yet it seems as if she is losing even more right now... i am also struggling with the understanding of who the brother of that prodigal son is. my mom is certainly running toward my sis with outstretched arms and preparing the fatted calf and calling for a party to get started because she believes my sis is changing. i on the other hand still am struggling with trusting what she is saying and even thinking she brought this upon herself. she chose this.

why can't i embrace her like my mom? why is it so hard to trust and even to show sympathy to my own sister? i feel as if i am the brother in this story and not able to join the party. did the father in this story have any proof of the lost sons change? had he seen it in action other than those few words of repentance? he was so excited for his son to be home that he was calling to the servants as his son was apologizing to him. why can't i give that kind of love and grace to my sister? why must i expect proof of a change in her before i can show her sympathy or try and trust again?

my sister will be in town in five days. she will be going to court to testify and try to fight for custody of her eldest daughter. i am not sure what i am supposed to do. well, i know i am called to love.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever (1 cor 13:4-8)

God help me. i certainly don't feel like i can embrace my sister right now. please show me how you see her. Lord give me a heart of compassion to be able to at least understand her pain. Lord help me to be able to look at her and speak to her in love without all of the pain of the past. Lord help me to not keep those records. Lord help me to be hopeful. Lord help me not to be irritated or rude. Lord give me your strength to never give up, to never lose faith, and to always hope for YOUR best for my sister no matter what her choices have been. Thank you Lord that your love endures through every circumstance. I know I have needed your Outrageous Love to light the way through some of the hardest times of my life and to bring truth to the areas in my life that needed cleaning up. God I just pray that you will show me how you want me to Outrageously Love my sister.

Please pray for my sister and niece this week. And please pray for me as i try to do what feels so impossible at the moment. ok Lord, I know this is going to be a process. have mercy on me as you continue to burn away the parts of me that need refining.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hi God,

I just wanted to let you know how thankful I am to have a place to live, a job that enables me to pay rent and the rest of my bills, and friends and family that love and support me through anything that life throws my way. I am pretty darn blessed. And no matter how many little things that I can think to complain about at work or just waiting on your timing... I know that you have your hand on where I am right now. Thanks. It is easy to get distracted by what is not happening right now. Thanks Lord for all that I do have right now in my life.

Your Daughter,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hello 29!!

Never have I been so shocked at a number and excited for a new year than right now. I am a little in denial that I am actually 29 now. It doesn't seem possible that the years have gone by that quickly... that makes me sound old. gosh. But the years really have gone by fast. Our parents weren't kidding when they said such things.

This past year has been a hard one. I made it through a time of difficult classes. I had to withdrawal from classes during winter and spring quarter to have surgery and then recover from surgery. This summer I watched God provide job after job to meet my every need. This fall I have been training at a new job... it is a job... but one that has been quite challenging in several ways.

I am so excited to have a new beginning. I was getting excited for 2010 because I like fresh starts... and then it hit me that I have a new year of my life! Woohoo! I am so excited to see what the Lord is going to teach me this year!

Goals for year 29 include:
~ visit Sonja and Cam in Australia (and as many DTS mates as I can!)
~ get my bod and GI in shape!
~ go back to school
~ go on dates
~ find a job that I enjoy (and can stand behind the company)
~ laugh as much as possible
~ get rid of more stuff
~ go on a missions trip
~ take more pictures
~ be crafty more often
~ spend less money
~ love my family more
~ share Christ with one person a month
~ take a road trip
~ smile at strangers
~ make more friends
~ go kayaking
~ visit the dentist & orthodontist
~ watch less TV
~ start journaling again
~ get involved in a church
~ do something musical
~ live more transparently
~ learn to cook
~ spend intentional time with God every day
~ go camping
~ go polar-bearing in the ocean
~ visit a spa
~ save money on my car insurance :)

I think that was 29 goals. I am sure I can come up with more than that but I am unsure if I will be able to accomplish all of these in year 29. But it is good to have goals. Something to have to focus on.

I am so thankful for another year to begin. Thank you Lord for getting me through year 28. You are so faithful. Praying that this year is full of fun and less of the hard stuff like last year. I am embracing year 29 as my last year in my 20s and hope to live it to the fullest! Its just a number... maybe it will become one of my favourite years of life thus far :) one can hope!

Hello 29!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I hate my guts!

no seriously. my guts as in my GI tract have been the source of discomfort in my life since I was born. you might be saying... why the heck is Jami blogging about her guts?... well it all has to do with something I heard in church today. but before I get to that I have to tell you something I was talking about with my friend Danielle a few weeks ago.

so I was talking about my messed up belly and how I have been on diets where I cut all things delicious out of my life and basically lived off of fruits and vegetables, fish, and rice for several months. I am someone who loves the richness and sweetness of cheesecake. my diet that helps my tummy feel better eliminates dairy, wheat, barley, rye, soy, corn, sugar (artificial are the worst!), caffeine,things high in fat or insoluble fiber, chocolate, red meat, acidic foods, eggs, alcohol, carbonated beverages and pretty much anything else that is delicious that you can think of. Danielle and I agreed that life is pretty much not worth living when you cut out all the glorious foods that God so obviously created (or maybe man created).

So today at church our speaker was talking about living as dead people and how we need to die to ourselves. He reminded us that within the word diet - is the word die. We must die to our appetite so that we can live. Live healthier. Make choices bases on knowledge of what is good for our bodies rather than what is not.

How am I going to do this? Listening to God about what I eat is too big for Him. But I thought I would give it a try. My trying only lasted as long as it took me to get home. I sure had a lousy start. Had chili and cheese with corn chips. An old family swim meet food. Hmmm... lets see how many things were good for me in that. beans = insoluble fiber, red meat = rotting meat torturing my gut, cheese = dairy is the devil, corn chips = more insoluble fiber. Poor choice Jami. At least I drank a couple glasses of water and then took the dog on a 45 minute walk.

What is my goal and what am I going to do to achieve that goal?
Making choices like having healthy snacks prepared for when I am on the go will stop me from picking up some unhealthy choice at a fast food establishment.
My goal is to be healthy, make healthy choices, feel healthy, and encourage others to live healthy life styles. Through these healthy living choices I hope to gain some more living time in my life and lose some much loathed weight in the process. In just less than 14 months I will be turning 30. My goal is to be 75-100 pounds less by that time.

With God all things are possible. Even a fat girl dying to her appetite. My health is important to God. He spoke that loud and clear this morning. From here on out I will ask Him for help and try to listen and obey as He helps me make healthy choices.

I know that diet needs to be combined with exercise and will be working out at the YMCA (with a workout buddy or two) as well as kicking my butt into gear with some dvds (these have worked me into some amazing shape in the past and I am excited to use them again), and being outdoors (walking, biking, hiking, or anything else I can do to be active in the NW).

Some day I may not have a six pack, but I hope my stomach is flat and not round. I will always have stretch marks and scars from my operation, but under those will be a GI tract that is happy and healthy.

Lord help me turn my life around and make choices that will help this body you gave me live life to the fullest (not the fullest belly but the fullest life!)!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

too much salt

I was listening to Christian radio on my drive to an interview today (ok friends who don't like KCMS please don't stop reading) and one of the announcers was talking about cooking (I think I might have gotten Ang to keep reading because I mentioned cooking)and how when you are adding salt to a recipe there is an amount that should not be exceeded, otherwise, the dish turns out not so delicious.
the announcer dude then paralleled the salt to adding Jesus to different areas of our lives. He said we can add, and add, and keep adding Jesus and there isn't a point ever where there is too much Jesus in an area of our lives. its quite the opposite. the more we add His truths and His ways to all the areas of our lives the better all the areas of our lives get!
so. I guess I just need more Jesus

Friday, September 11, 2009


Its official! My economic crisis has come to an end. God has brought me through the last 13 months and one day and today I was offered a job working in a call center for an affiliated wireless company. If you are a Verizon customer and dial 611 you may get me on the other end of the line! Awesomeness! It will be amazing to have an income again... let alone medical, dental, and vision insurance!! wow!

If you have been following along in my life you know that throughout the past year every bill has been paid by God... I know this to be true because every time something was close to due or I would almost start to worry (ok. some days there was some serious worry going on!) God would take me back to His promises to be my Provider.

55K in medical bills were covered! all of my tuition and books were covered! 13 months of car insurance, cell phone, gas, food, and a credit card (that I will be paying off and cutting up once I get my first whoppin paycheck!)covered! God is AMAZING!

I will be working in Federal Way at ACS. Training will be 7 weeks long! Please keep me in your prayers as I start this new adventure. There will be a LOT to learn! I know that God will get me through this one too. Praying also for some great friends at this job, a good relationship with my boss, and opportunities to testify the awesomeness of Jesus!

My first day in September 23rd... until then I will be dog sitting in Orting and moving my stuff into a house with some friends. God is SO GOOD!

I am truly in awe of the awesomeness of God. He has taught me so much on trust, provision, waiting, trust, provision... yeah. you get the point. He has shown me how capable He is. He is more than able!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Whats the story?

So, early in the summer I had a wee revelation. Somewhere in my little brain a light turned on and I my eyes opened a little wider. I was discovering the importance of diversity in people. I was captivated as I walked down the street and people watched at my favorite local coffee house. My thought with every person I saw being... "what is their story?"

It is so small of me to think that people are not shaped by their life circumstances and social influences. As I asked God to open my eyes and give me a heart for His children like I have not experienced before I found that I had created my own fears. In my mind differences made someone less approachable when in reality someone who is different is more likely to challenge my perceptions and cause me to think more... thus growing more.

A friend of mine recommended a book to me about this time. It was made into a movie, though I have yet to see the film. "The Soloist" was another opportunity to challenge my "what is their story?" thought. In the book a brilliant man with a severe mental illness winds up playing at Julliard and then later on the streets of the ghetto.

My mom has been labeled as bipolar for ten plus years and it has taken me that long to discover that she has a story of her own. This summers circumstances (I will share more on that some day) allowed a greater understanding of how she developed her mental illness over the course of her life. It is so sad to think that people in her life purposefully abused her and made her to feel as less of a person. I hope some day that she will know how worthy of love she truly is.

It is easy then to think of judgment for those who chose to belittle her and take away her self-worth. Unfortunately and fortunately I have no right to that judgment. Unfortunately, because there are moments when I would like to tell someone that they deserve judgment and their actions are going to take them to a fiery place... and fortunately, because my actions occasionally merit the same thoughts and I know that God's grace so undeservedly abounds new every day.

So back to judgment. Why is it that I judge people as I see them each day? As I think about how I was raised (in my family and in the church), I see that it was taught to me to befriend those who are like me in faith and to stay away from those who had differences. It was said to me that if I was friends with kids who were different I would "get sucked in" to their crowd and be ruined forever.

So who did Jesus befriend? Did He find people that were like Him? Sure He spent time with the disciples... but were they really like Him? They were fishermen, a doctor, a tax collector, and several others occupations are unknown. He spent time with murderers and thieves, prostitutes and the sick.

I find it interesting that judgment was taught to my as part of my Christian upbringing and yet it so contradicts the lifestyle of my Jesus.

It is sad to me that I have lost several years of my life to narrow-minded thinking, however, as an eternal optimist I can turn it around and say that I am grateful for the grace that God shows me. That even though I chose to judge, He does not. He has taken away judgment with the gift of the Cross. Amazing! And I have the rest of my life to change that old way of thinking.

I hope that through new eyes, eyes that are similar to the Lords, I will be able to see and hear more of the stories of the people I come in contact with.

Ever person has a unique story. I challenge you (and myself) to find out someone's story before you stereotype them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

God is bigger...

This year has been one for the books. Seriously, I could write a whole book about it if I sat down and mapped one out. So much has happened... and so much has not happened. And yet the year is not over.

So to get to my thought of God being so big.

God is bigger...

*than the boggie man (thanks to Veggietales for that one).
*than the economic crisis making it difficult to find a job.
*than my resume (which shows I was "let go" from a job a year ago).
*than I can even imagine.

One of "my girls" (aka one of my former youth kids that is now a grownup and has graduated college) and I met for coffee the other day. She was sharing about her recent adventures in YWAM. One particular story she shared from one of many speakers she heard said something that has popped back into my mind almost every day since.

The speaker was talking about how big God is. There is a passage somewhere in the bible that talks about God holding some stars in his hand. Stars are not little... though they appear to be from far away. And God would not be holding just little stars. The smallest star is ginormous in reality. And yet my God held more than just one. He is able to hold massive stars in His hands. WOW! My God is HUGE!

Sure He cares about the stars and that they brighten our night skies and delight our hearts to look and wish upon. But He cares so much more for His dear children. He can carry us all in His (perfect love) hands.

So knowing that I am in His hands makes the not knowing about tomorrow ok.

Here I sit replaying Proverbs 3:5&6 over to myself... trying to wrap my mind and heart around the words that are not foreign to me.

God is bigger. This I know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Proposal

It was a wonderful night. Beautiful sunset complete with a proposal. The movie. I won't spoil it for anyone. It was a chick flick and I am a lover of chick flicks so it made me laugh out loud and of course some tears happened. It was while I was driving home after dropping my mom off that some more tears came. I was thinking about having someone special in my life. As the tears welled up and before even one of them could fall I thought about how many tears I have shed in my life time. Tears of loss. Tears of joy. Tears of anger. Tears of not understanding. Tears for every emotion. Then it hit me that God knows exactly how many tears that I have shed. He knows every thought and emotion that went along with each tear. He knows me better than I know myself. Truly amazing. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father. The creator of the universe is amazing. And it blows my mind regularly that He loves me more than I can even understand.
Thank you Lord for caring so deeply and loving like no one else can - each and every one of your children!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Who is my provider?

I don't have the security of parents to come to my rescue when I need help financially. Though they would like to help me (that hasn't always been the case for my dad but God has done some awesome work in his life) they just don't have the means to do it.

After having surgery nine weeks ago... it has been different than I anticipated. Medications made it impossible for me to make it through the quarter of pre-reqs for nursing. I was so frustrated with myself and felt like I had failed God. Afterall He had done such a miracle in getting me surgery so quickly and with a quicker estimated recovery time. All I had to do was get back in the game and get my school on. After not being able to focus and study and doing horribly in classes I realized that it was not just me but my body was still recovering. So I surrendered to the rest my body so needed.

A few long weeks later I start feeling a bit semi normal and started looking for jobs. I don't know how many I have applied for, submitted resumes for, or interviewed for so far. It has been a LOT!

I was just thinking about how I haven't had a job since August and have been living off of my student loans. Nine weeks after surgery I have had two garage sales, five house/animal sitting jobs, one recurring babysitting job, and one cleaning job. I did not seek out any of these jobs. These people contacted me. Did they know I had a need. Not all of them. Some of these jobs were set in my calender a couple months ago... most were scheduled a day or two in advance.

I am in awe looking at these provisions right now. Though there are unanticipated medical bills in my inbox... I do not doubt my Jehovah Jirah's ability to meet my needs. As I was sitting outside in the sunshine at one of my garage sales yesterday a tiny hummingbird flew within a few feet of me. It stopped to suckle on a nearby plant. At that moment I heard God whisper to me. See Jami... I take care of these precious birds and you are even more precious to me. Peace reigns in my heart because I know that even though the bills are here I know that God is going to provide for my every need.

Another way God has provided... He brought my best friend home for five weeks. She is here without her husband (miss you Camalama! but I am so excited to be spending time with your wifey!) so I get to see her more than usual. God is so good. He pours out blessings on His kids!

I know that God must be providing in awesome ways for others. It is who He is. He is Jahovah Jirah our Provider. That is His name! If you are facing a time of hardship I hope you will remember that God is the One who can meet your every need. Not your every want... but your needs. He knows our every need and remember he takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields as well and we are so much more precious to Him than those.

Matthew 6:25-33
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

I hope you will be encouraged and reminded of the awesomeness of our Heavenly Father. He is SO GOOD! Blessings to you and your loved ones. May the Lord meet your every need in His perfect timing!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

This Mother's Day weekend I got in a car with my mom and drove the five hours from Seattle to Spokane so my mom could see her grandbabies for the weekend. I was apprehensive for several reasons. But God has been showing me more and more that I need to love more selflessly... especially with my family. So I was pleasantly surprised when this weekend was filled with so many wonderful moments.

Here are a few of my favourites...

After dinner on Friday night we walked to the park down the street from my sisters new place. My nieces bring out a silly side of me. I soon found myself running through the field being chased and chasing my little nieces around. The hillside was calling me to come and play so I gave in and found my inner kid again. As I rolled down the hillside it was impossible to stop laughing. Oh the sweet simple joy of rolling down a hill. I can't believe that it has been more than a decade since I had that sweet joy! I even got my mom to roll down the hill! It was so wonderful I had to repeat it again and again until one of the little ones declared she had to go potty and we had to leave the park. Goal. Must roll down hills at least once a year... preferably once a month.

On Saturday night my sis decided it was movie night and picked out Mamma Mia (I didn't think it was appropriate for kids but her mind would not be changed). I loved this movie when I saw it in theaters and was so excited to have a repeat experience. It was better than before. The kids only stayed up for the first 30-45 minutes of it. As the music came on it was impossible to stay in our seats. I found all the girls spoons, whisks, and ladles to be their microphones for the evening. We sang and danced our hearts out. Mamma Mia will forever be a super special memory.

Sunday morning I was awoken to the sweet sounds of a three year old giggling with her grandmother. She woke up bright eyed and full of love and had to go tell her grandma first thing that she loved her. She calls my mom Grandma Sunshine because while my sis had left her family two years ago my mom stayed with the girls for six months to help out. My mom would sing "You are my Sunshine" to Mea every day multiple times a day. Mea now sings the whole song to my mom and has such sweet pure love for her. I was sleeping downstairs and heard Mea say again and again... I love you Gramma. It was in between her giggles that she interjected her love for her grandma. I wish every morning started with such love and laughter. So beautiful.

So I am so glad I went to Spokane with my mom for the weekend. It was so special. We had some great conversations in the car and so many sweet moments with my adorable nieces. What a glorious Mothers Day weekend indeed. I hope everyone else was able to have some sweet moments too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


If you haven't gathered this already from my past posts... I love music!
It is something amazing to get a revelation about more of who God is through how He has revealed Himself to a person and then developed a song in their heart which then gets shared with the world.
Having gone through much time of waiting and trusting and trying to understand the whys of life... it is often through quiet times of hearing God through music that my spirit finds peace and rest and comfort from the truths that God speaks through musicians. Music speaks loudly to my soul. It is those moments where I get lost in the words and presence of God that I get found. I get the truth. Then I have to listen to it a couple more times til it restores me as I am filled up with words from my Father.
I am so thankful that God gave us music! He has blessed us with some amazing musicians that are anointed and help to usher us into His presence. Wow. What an extraordinary gift!
Some of my newest favorites include:
Kari Jobe, Tenth Avenue North, Starfield, Vicky Beeching, Lindsey Kane, and JJ Heller to name a few. Check em out if you want. I don't think you will be disappointed.
Blessings to you dear friends!

I love this song! Its a love song from our Maker. So precious. Thank you Jesus for your love that is unlike any love we have or ever will experience! Such an amazing and beautiful love.

My Beloved - Kari Jobe

Friday, April 17, 2009

beyond what I imagined

This year has been filled with so many unpredictable moments. So many times I questioned God and what He was trying to teach me. I told Him what I had already learned. I told Him I didn't need another lesson in _______. His plan was different than what I could understand on a day by day basis. It has taken me the better part of four months to understand part of the plan He had in letting certain events in my life unfold the way they did. Through it all... I have seen God's sovereignty, I have felt His peace and protection, I have grown to know more of who He is. I would not ask for anyone to have to go through difficult circumstances in their life. The only good thing about trials is all the growth and miracles that God can show through the unpleasant and unwanted circumstances. Though my story is different than your story... we all have experienced a tough circumstance or will experience one at one point or another in our lives. The following song and story touched my heart and reminded me that though we may not feel like worshiping in the midst of our circumstances... "All of my life. In every season. You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship."
I pray that your circumstances will not disable your ability to worship. God will meet you. Even if it takes you some time to feel Him near you again, He will be there and not ever leave.
Your circumstance does not change that God is still God and what He has called you to do in your life.
I hope you are blessed by this song and the story shared by one of the musicians.

The Desert Song- Hillsong

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be empited again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Break Me Down

The following is something I read from the Tenth Avenue North Website. It is from Mike's Journal dated Feb 3rd, 2009.
Challenging and powerful words.

“Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.”
-Hosea 6:1

Excuse me, what?!!
Who has torn us?
Who has injured us?
The Lord?!!!
Wait a second there Hosea, didn’t you mean to say Satan has torn us?
Or maybe bad people?
You sure that’s not a typo or something?

Personally, I think one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to reconcile in my head
and my heart is this idea that a loving, merciful, compassionate God
would hurt me.
And not on accident either, but purposefully and willfully.
God will unapologetically tear me into pieces so that He can heal me.
And you.
Strange huh?

And I suppose it isn’t so terribly surprising coming from a prophet who was made
to marry a harlot. If anyone would know something about being hurt by the
Lord it would be him right?
I don’t know if you know the story, but
I mean, just put yourself in his place for a second.
There you are. The man. The dude. You’re the prophet over all of Israel, and
you’ve been keeping yourself pure, praying every day for the woman that God will
give to you and then He finally speaks, but its not at all what you were hoping for.

God: “Hosea.”
Hosea: “Yeah Lord?”
God: “It’s time.”
Hosea: “Ahhhh Yeaaahhh! That’s what I was hoping you were gonna say.
Time for a wife right Lord?”
God: “Yes Hosea, it’s time for a wife.”
Hosea: “Ooohh, I can’t wait!!! Just tell me though God, is she hot and holy?
Cuz you know, I’ve been keeping myself pure, and I just know you’re gonna
reward me with a wife that’s hot and holy. That’s all I’m asking for because,
hey, that’s what I deserve right?”
God: “Well, not exactly. I don’t think she’s quite what you had in mind.”
Hosea: “Wait, what? …..Oh… I see! She’s even hotter and holier than I thought!
Oh yeah Lord, I know how you work!
God: “Well, no.”
Hosea: “What you mean, no?”
God: “Hosea, I don’t know how to tell you this, well, of course I know how to tell you this,
I’m God, it’s just, well….she’s a prostitute.”
Hosea: “prosti-what?”
God: “Prostitute. Whore. Lady of the Night.”
Hosea: No, no, I know what it is, but a PROSTITUTE!!!
God: Yeah, I know that’s not what you were planning, but its what I was planning, so you’re
gonna marry her.
Hosea: “I’m gonna do what?”
God: “you’re gonna marry her, but then of course, she’ll cheat on you, and sell herself
so you’ll have to go buy her back.”
Hosea: “Go what?”
“Yeah, you’re going to forgive her and buy her back and when she cheats on you again
and has children with other lovers you’re going to love them and take her back again.”
Hosea: “Come again?”
God: “you’re going to love her kids and take her back.”

Long awkward silence

Hosea: “What’s her name?”
God: “Gomer.”
Hosea: “Oh Come on!!!”

Now I apologize if you’re name is Gomer, but you do have to admit,
it’s a rather unfortunate name, and an even more unfortunate situation.
But the Bible records that it did happen.
Maybe not exactly like that, but God did tell Hosea to marry an adulterous wife.
And the reason that the Lord supplies in Hosea 3
Is that their marriage was to show us how he loves his people.
He loves his people like an adulterous wife.

And the story is so insanely beautiful when you see it from that angle,
but when you look at it from Hosea’s angle it’s just plain crazy.
Think about what you’d say if your pastor got up in front of the congregation and
announced that he was about to marry a whore. What would your response be?
Now, I’m not suggesting that every one go out and marry someone from the local
street corner, but I am saying that it is evident that God will do whatever He has to do
to bring you to a place where all you want is Him.

He’ll break you, He’ll hurt you, He’ll ruin your plans, and He’ll tear you into pieces,
and He’ll do it all out of a perfect holy love.
And look, I know that sounds crazy, but think about it for a moment.
A lot of people want to use God to give them something other than Himself.
If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we all do it on some level.
For instance, we don’t have sex until we’re married, because then God owes us a virgin.
We give 10% of our income to a church, because then God owes us prosperity and wealth.
We pray and pray and pray, and then God owes it to us to answer and give us what we want.
And in all those cases, Jesus is no longer the end, but simply a means to something else.

You’ve got to see that in Hosea’s case, or perhaps in the case
of that one friend of yours who thinks marriage is the goal of their existence.
Don’t laugh. It might be you.
But if you think about it, It would actually be unloving of God to go
and make our marriage perfect and make that person fulfill our every hope and dream.
Because that person will die.
That marriage will end, and if your whole life and existence and joy depends on another
human being, you will inevitably be in for heartache.
Just read the Twilight series (it’s true. I’ve read it, though I’m not proud of it)
and see how the heroine Bella, how her entire life falls apart when her vampire
lover leaves her. Put simply, If our joy rests entirely upon human love or
vampire love, or any other kind of earthly love for that matter,
then one day, our joy will be destroyed.
Is this making sense?

Of course, marriage is just one example.
Money. Security. Fame. Obedience. Sex. Drugs. Worship Music.
If our hope is set in anything but the living person of Christ, then we’re just setting ourselves
up for failure. And so God, in his infinite and everlasting love, will do whatever He has to do
to break, bend and conform his people’s hearts to Him.
He will no longer be the means to some other end, but the end Himself.
Like a surgeon who has to cut you open,
so God must tear us apart to create in us a new heart.
A heart that is obsessed with Him alone.
But unlike a doctor, He doesn’t just use a knife. He uses the most bizarre people,
circumstances, and tragedies to change our hearts until they only treasure Him.

He will break us down.
And it will be painful, scary, and altogether beautiful.
Friends, if the Lord is tearing down your world today,
if all the walls on your so carefully constructed plans are caving in on themselves,
then ask Him in faith, God, are you my treasure?
And if you find the answer is no, then ask Him to bring it on.
Break out the scalpel. Tear down the walls. Let loose the storms.
Ask Him to do whatever He has to do, until you can proclaim with the psalmist,
“Whom have in heaven but you,
and earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
(Psalm 73)

All this world is fading away anyway right?
Then take heart.
This life is not about succeeding.
It’s not about changing the world.
It’s not about living with purpose, or leaving a legacy
or making the maximum impact with your life.
It’s actually not even about living your life for God.
Did you hear me?
Don’t live your life for God.

Live your life because God.

Because He has loved us, redeemed us, and because He is all that our hearts are longing for.
It’s no longer about what you do with your life at all, because He is your life.
May He do whatever it takes to open our eyes to see that.
He is the means and He is the end. And everything in between is from his hand.
It can be terrifying at times, I know, but its worth it.
Believe me, and I guess more importantly believe Him.
It’s worth it.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
-Romans 8:18

“”Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
-Hosea 6:1-3

holding hands

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A spoonful of sugar... or not

So. I haven't done this Lent thing in a while and I could really use a goal right now. I hope that God will be ok with that. Lent will give me something to focus on. So my plan for Lent is to only have natural sugars. Like fruits and honey and beet juice is ok. I did this for a couple months with a friend last spring and it was a difficult but so beneficial challenge. I just finished the Reece's Pieces that were mocking me and am sure that 46 days is totally doable though I will appreciate all the support I can get. So please don't offer me anything sweet... unless of course you managed to use fruit juice, honey, or beet juice to make it sweet. Thanks for your support friends. Heres to hoping I will remember to do this for the next 46 days. After all... my body is Christs temple... I should be paying more attention to what I put in His temple.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Beloved

This song is God's words to us. So beautiful the way He pursues us.

You're My Beloved
You're My Bride
To sing over you is My delight
Come away with Me My love

You're Beautiful to Me
So beautiful to Me

Under My mercy
Come and wait
Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you
My child

You're Beautiful to Me
So Beautiful to Me

I sing over you My song of peace
Cast all your care down at My feet
Come and find your rest in Me

I'll breathe My life inside of you
I'll bear you up on eagle's wings
And hide you in the shadow of My strength
I'll take you to My quiet waters
I'll restore your soul
Come rest in Me and be made whole

You're My beloved
You're My Bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love

Sunday, February 22, 2009


... that is how I would describe my weekend.

It started out with one hour of sleep before chauffeuring the people I live with off to the airport at O-dark-thirty in the morning. After returning from one of my favorite places (the airport) I focused my attentions on sleep. Waking up at noon would give me a total of five hours of sleep that night. woohoo! It turned out to be more like four hours though... my brother called and texted and texted some more and called again while I was trying to sleep. Perhaps I should have given up entirely but I was determined to sleep til noon. I was victorious. It was after noon when I finally got up to face the day. What a glorious day it was too! The sun was out in all its glory and the sky was speckled with clouds.
Plans for the afternoon... spend time with my brother (the one who had been calling and texting while I was TRYING to sleep).
I picked him up at my moms house and we went to my favourite coffee shop on South Hill... cafe Adamo. Over the past couple months while my broski has been home we have spent heaps of time together and gotten close again. One of our favourite things to do at Adamo is to play Mancala (a strategy game with marbles and a wooden board with 14 holes in it). My brother and I have taken two months to get really good at this game and he has beaten me countless times of late. So Saturday it was my turn. He was winning at the beginning. He thought he had the game in the bag. Then... as if some kind of miracle... I turned it around and won! Victory!
We headed home and then my broski found out that his next plan for the day had been postponed. I had an idea to do something fun, something that was on my list of things to do before I die. And my brother is one of those people who will do random things most of the time so I was hoping he would be game. I told him my plan and he was stoked!
We headed to our destination. As we pulled onto the lot I could scarcely believe my eyes. Hundreds of Mini Coppers were all lined up just waiting for me to take them out for a spin. I didn't need hundreds. Just one would do. So we found a shiny silver one and soon I was behind the wheel. It was a beautiful thing. Makes me giddy to talk about it still. Took me all night to calm down about it. Maybe some day I will have a mini of my own.

Sunday morning I took my brother to the bus station. He left to go to trucker school. Ha! It sounds so funny. I hope he enjoys it though. He loves to travel. It is good for him to be doing something again. He has been searching for something for quite some time. After dropping my brother off I headed home. I was intending on going to church this morning. When I got back to the house though... my bed would not have it. I was sucked into a very deep sleep and did not wake up until... noon! woohoo! Oh how I love to sleep in!
It was a lazy afternoon and the sun was beaming again. I soaked in the rays and readied myself for a fun evening of Oscars. Not wanting to watch the Oscars at home with Bubba the cat... I invited myself over to the Dill's to watch with friends. It was a fun evening. I can't say that any of the winners were big surprises. My friend Paul had almost every winner predicted correctly. I really enjoyed the big musical number and the way the prior best actors and actresses announced the nominees. It was a special night. And I almost forgot to mention that Janet, Larry, and Paul created some delicious delights which we nibbled on during the Oscars. My favourite were the crab cakes and sliders. mmmm. mmmm. good.
My weekend was fantastic! Thats all there is to it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Photo Tag

Vicky tagged me. :)

Here are the rules:

1. Go to the 4th folder where you keep your pictures on your computer.
2. Post the 4th picture in the folder.
3. Explain the photo.
4. Tag 4 fellow bloggers to join in the fun.

So, I went to my fourth folder and there were two folders within that folder... so you get two pictures! These are both from a couple of my MANY trips to Cannon Beach, Oregon. My favourite place in the US!

Marissa and I were at a restaurant and I had a knife... need I say more.

Another CB trip with Marissa. We were apparently bringing sexy back that day!

Oh and I need to tag some readers!!

1. Sonja and Cam (you are one)
2. Angie
3. Katie Laine
4. Joey and Suzanne (you are one)

I am in dire need of another trip to my favourite place in the US! Haven't been since November. I am long overdue. So if anyone wants to take a day trip or a weekend trip to the serene town that so warms my heart and soul... let me know!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Randomness x 25

So if you want to do this thing where you have to write 25 things about yourself I would love to hear/read about them... so I am not going to tag anyone but just hope that I will get to learn more random things about my friends some time soon. I love randomness! So you sharing with me will only increase the warm and fuzzy feelings I have for you as a dear friend.

Now to my random list:

1. I have a dent in my forehead. I fell off a slide when I was 2 1/2 years old onto a concrete driveway. Miraculously it did not break the skin or my skull... just a perma-dent. No wise cracks about other long term effects.

2. The list of countries in the world I have been to is longer than the list of states in the US I have visited. So far my count is 16 countries. My travel itch needs some scratching real soon. It has been almost a year since I got on a plane! uugh!

3. I have a scar on my left hand that looks like a caterpillar.
Thanks BJ!

4. In one week I watched Pride and Prejudice more than ten times. No explanation needed.

5. I am a lactard. Lactard = one who is lactose intolerant. And I just ate a delicious gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. I know... I know.

6. My parents married and divorced each other twice.

7. I have a thing for men in uniform. Sailors in particular make me blush for no reason.

8. If I had a super power it would be... to be able to be in multiple places at the same time.

9. When I was in high school I missed more than 60 days a year of school junior AND senior year. And I still graduated with a decent GPA! Miracle!

10. My favourite number is 10... I was born on the 10th of November. But oddly enough I despise 10 dollar bills. They rub me the wrong way. So odd. I know. And I like spelling favourite like other parts of the world do. It looks prettier.

11. Some day I hope to live in a different country. I would like to live in Edinburgh, Scotland for a few years.

12. When I get my BSN (bachelors of science in nursing) degree, it is heavy on my heart to go to Africa for a couple months to a couple years at a time with health care skills.

13. I drive a Saturn Ion and I call her Bella Bling. Because she has nice headlights and is a shiny beautiful silver.

14. Breaking into song is a normal and naturally occurring event throughout my day. Anything said by anyone could and will trigger the words of a song to come to my mind thus breaking out in song.

15. I have five nieces, an older sister (Melissa, 30, 4 nieces belong to her), two younger brothers (BJ, 26, one niece belongs to him; Nick, 25), two step-sisters (Tara, not sure how old she is, oh! she has 3 kids! that means I have another niece and two nephews! sweet!; And Tawni, 18), and a step brother (Joel, I don't know how old he is either and I have never met him, I think he has kids too!)

16. If you are one of my "youth girlies" you will be one forever! Even when I am and old wrinkly saggy grandma!

17. My favourite place to day trip to is Cannon Beach, Oregon. It takes about 3 hours of drive time to get there. It has been two months since my last day trip.

18. When I was a kid I wanted to be a pediatric heart surgeon, a marine biologist, a teacher, and a mom.

19. I was not allowed to play with Barbie's as a kid. Instead my sister and I had a ridiculously large collection of My Little Pony's. Seriously. We had at least a hundred. And to go with them: four houses and a pool and... you get the picture.

20. I LOVE ICE CREAM! (see #5... I know. I know.)Sorbet is my backup... though I recently fell in love with coconut gelato. It changed my life.

21. When I was at a NY airport I traveled on a bus about two arm lengths away from Geraldo Rivera. He was wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. He was talking on a cell phone the entire time.

22. I like to read about the Amish. (Beverly Lewis is one of my favourite Christian authors who grew up near Lancaster County and has quite a few mini series about the Amish)

23. As a nine year old I golfed on a team and received a trophy that proclaimed "most improved player of the year". I think I must have been pretty bad to start out!
ps. I only put-put now.

24. My sister and I had a friendship bracelet business when I was 8 & 9 years old. We sold them and took orders at the Twin Lakes Country Club.

25. I always talk about "when I win the lottery" as if it is really going to happen... and yet I rarely ever buy a ticket. silly. I know.

Hope you enjoyed a bit of my randomness! I sure enjoy being random!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Baby Henley

This morning just after 2am I received a text saying that Cheramie was in labor. The friend that texted me, Katie, had taken a sleeping pill to get to sleep and was in no way able to drive but wanted to go to the birth center. I was still awake... hadn't yet fallen asleep... so I hopped in my car to get Katie and go meet the little one who would soon be coming into the world.
Katie and I got to the birthing center just before 3am and joined Amy, Patty, and Adam's dad in the waiting room. At 3:10am we heard the cries of joy from momma Cheramie, daddy Adam, and little baby Henley.
We waited for about ten minutes and then a proud daddy walked into room and announced the arrival of their little boy. Solomon Mack Henley. Weighing in at 7 pounds 14 ounces. Length of 20 inches.
So I have nieces only so far... so its ok for me to say he is one of the cutest little baby boys I have ever seen! Everyone will be happy to know he has dimples... and the cutest lips.
He is truly a miracle baby. God protected and preserved his life as was prayed over him when he was just beginning to develop in his mommas womb. Amazing. I am in awe yet again of how awesome our God is.
Congratulations Adam and Cheramie! I love you both and am so happy to see the beginning of your beautiful family!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


“One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

~Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

carpe diem

carpe diem is something I learned from one of my favorite movies. The movie is Dead Poets Society. carpe diem means... SEIZE THE DAY!

how many of my days do I let go by without seizing the moment?
I don't know how old I will grow to be.
I don't know if Jesus is coming back in my lifetime.

This is one of my favorite quotes of the movie. If you haven't seen it. You should.

John Keating(the teacher at an all boys school describing the photos and trophy's of past students in a hallway glass display case): They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

so boys and girls. I dare you. I dare you to seize each and every day. make your life... the only life you have got... EXTRAORDINARY!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

pink fluffy stuff

The other day I had the joy of celebrating Christmas (in January) with my extended family. It was a blast. I have some amazing cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings. We laughed at ton and ate delicious foods that we have grown up having at our family gatherings. Something that I really enjoy is the pink fluffy stuff my aunt Bobbie always makes. It is a dessert... but we have it with dinner like jello. Has anyone else ever had pink fluffy stuff? Is there something wonderful but a bit weird that your family traditionally has at your gatherings? I am just curious. I am sure my family isn't the only one that does things a little differently. I hope you share some of your weird traditions with me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Emergency Numbers

When in sorrow... Call John 14
When men fail you... Call Psalm 27
If you want to be fruitful/If people seem unkind... Call John 15
When you have sinned... Call Psalm 51
When you worry... Call Matthew 6:19-34
When you are in danger... Call Psalm 91
When God seems far away... Call Psalm 139
When your faith needs stirring... Call Hebrews 11
When you are lonely and fearful... Call Psalm 23
When you grow bitter and critical... Call 1 Cor. 13
For Paul's secret to happiness... Call Col. 3:12-17
For the idea of Christianity... Call 1 Cor. 5:15-19
When you feel down and out... Call Romans 8:31
When you want peace and rest... Call Matthew 11:25-30
When the world seems bigger than God... Call Psalm 90
When you want Christian assurance... Call Romans 8:1-30
When you leave home for labor or travel... Call Psalm 121
When your prayers grow narrow and selfish... Call Psalm 67
For a great invention/opportunity... Call Isaiah 55
When you want courage for a task... Call Joshua 1
How to get along with fellow men... Call Romans 12
When you think of investments/returns... Call Mark 10
If you are depressed... Call Psalm 27
If your pocketbook is empty... Call Psalm 37
If discouraged about your work... Call Psalm 126
If you find your world growing small and yourself great... Call Psalm 19

Emergency numbers may be dialed direct. All lines to heaven are open 24/7!
Feed your faith, and doubt will starve to death!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Asked

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.

-author unknown

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

tough night of sleep

last night I decided to try to go to sleep earlier than I have the past week. so at a 1:30am I turned out the lights and closed my eyes. some of you may know that my right ear has been having issues for the last few weeks. last night was a tough one for my ear. It felt like I had a cold draft going directly into my ear and no matter how I moved around it was just impossible to get comfortable. The last time I looked at the clock it was almost 3:30am. I dozed off and not even an hour later I woke up to moisture on my face. I thought my ear drum had ruptured... and then I felt a drip on my head. I quickly turned a light on and found that there was water dripping from a screw in the tract my closet door would hang from if I hadn't removed them. It was the middle of the night and I was not about to wake up the family that I live with. So I went into the bathroom where a large bin filled with materials being used to demolish the bathroom was located. I found some plumbers putty and gobbed some putty into the area where the drip was coming from. I placed a towel on my bed where the drip was originally felt and rearranged myself on a dry area of my bed. then tried to fall asleep again. my ear was back to having some issues. it took me another hour to fall back asleep. to my chagrin I awoke again at 9:30 to the sound of demolition in the bathroom. a wall and a vanity were being removed. this went on for two hours. needless to say. it was not the best night of sleep.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

budget busting books

it is absolutely ridiculous how much books cost these days for a college student. last quarter, if I had paid full price for my books, it would have cost over $500! this quarter, if I had paid full price for my books, it would have cost $700!!! three classes... thats all folks. God is good and so far my books are only up to $345. I have one more book to find and I am still praying for another awesome deal! If I find better deals I may return a couple books and be under $300 for the quarter! That would be incredible! And mean I have extra money for things like coffee, shampoo, deodorant, makeup, and food too. might have to get a little job this quarter to ensure I can have the essentials. I want to make friends at school not repel them because I can't afford deodorant! ha! let me know if you know of a little weekend only job or people needing house/animal sitters. I love to take care of pets and houses too! God has and always will be my provider. There is not a doubt in my mind that He will take care of my every need for the quarter... and the rest of my life as well. I am blessed. Blessed to be in the hands of an amazing Heavenly Father, blessed to be in school, blessed to have a place to live for free, blessed to live less than a mile from school, blessed to have amazing friends and family who love and support me. Who cares if books are expensive. I am blessed beyond all the words and pages in those (really freakin big and heavy) books together!

Monday, January 05, 2009

begin again and OLOGY

its time for classes to start again.

this quarter my schedule consists of:
anatomy & physiology II
cultural anthropology

so... a lot of -OLOGY apparently. which means... the study of. coincident? I think not. in school one must study a ton. so I am going to get my study on again studying the study of a few fantastic subjects. I will appreciate all of your prayers again this quarter. I am excited to be taking classes at the campus that is less than a mile away from my house. this will make getting to class even with random winter weather less of a concern. my commute to school goes from 25-40 minutes (depending on the time of day) down to less than five minutes. awesome! and if I walk... a little bit longer. I have to practically climb a mountain and this bod is out of shape! maybe I will make a goal to walk to school on my short days. monday and wednesday I only have class from 2-3:30pm. that is totally attainable. and it is still light out so I don't have to worry about the boogie man getting me.
anywho. I am excited to get back to my studies. it has been a great few weeks off and I have had plenty of time to rest and visit with friends and family. this quarter is starting and getting me closer to the goal God has placed on my heart. it is exciting! woohoo! I love watching the quarters go by. makes me feel like the future that I so long for is not so far away.

ps. random OLOGY. as I was looking for ology info... I learned some cool random facts.
did you know that jellyfish are 95% water?
did you know that eagles can't hunt when its raining?
did you know that at old english weddings the guests threw shoes at the groom?

glad I could enlighten you.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

my name means supplanter

Good article from the TIMES... thanks Auntie Katie!

December 27, 2008
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset

Matthew Parris

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.
We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.
This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in
the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

concert at adamo

Orange san pellegrino & Muenster grilled cheese sandwiches on garlic sourdough bread

Tom Rorem & Noah Gundersen
So I forgot to take pictures of Tom. He was very passionate in lyrics and delivery of his music. Enjoyed him for the most part. He wore a red flannel shirt and khaki carhart pants.
As for Gundy and crew (Michael Rabb on keyboard and tambourine)... I took one photo. He is a great musician and has an artistic ability that few can compare to. And he is so young. He is only 19 or 20 years old. I got lost in the music on several occasions and found myself being taken away as the sounds from the guitar, keyboard, and violin crescendoed awakening my musical soul.

It was fun to take in the sounds of great musicians with my friend Katie and about 20 others crammed into cafe adamo.