Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Journey to Colombia

In just 2 short weeks, I will be in the beautiful Colombia.
  I have been planning and praying for this trip for months.
I am ready.

 People keep asking me if I am nervous about going. I don't even have to hesitate about it- No, I really am not. I know that this trip, in this timing, has been part of my planned path before I even knew about it. So, no, I am not nervous.

As I prepare to go, I want to share a few pieces that have occurred on this journey for me over the last couple of months. These are reasons I am not nervous; reasons why I know this is part of my path for this time in life.

 First of all, all my funding came in. If you remember a few months ago, I shared here about how Colombia came to be for me, but how raising funds was part of my concern. Why I ever doubt the hand of God will always amaze me. I hope one day I get beyond those worries. He always provides. He has made it clear that this is meant to be for me. Let me share with you the final piece of my funding. It was late December, and I needed another $300. I prayed over it (as I had been doing all along) and had watched God provide for months, so I knew He would, I just wasn't sure how. The deadline for my final amount was approaching. Wouldn't you know, someone gave that exact amount, to the dollar, for my trip?? While I should not have been surprised, I was a little. I wasn't expecting that.
  He says in Matthew, "ask and you shall receive..." Of course there is more context to that verse, but I prayed diligently over this and He showed up in an amazing way. That experience alone has been one that has grown my faith to new levels.
    And any time I felt discouraged over the changes in friendships I have experienced the last many months, I have been reminded by people's generous giving to my trip, that I am loved. And even those who did not or could not give but have asked "how can we pray for you?" .... those words (and actions, both) have spoken volumes to my heart.

 A second way I have seen God's hand in this is an awesome story I want to share. When we go over there, there is a clinic that was built by this same mission group with whom I am traveling. The clinic serves countless patients in the area. So, we are taking medical supplies that they cannot attain so readily over there. I began asking around for donations to this, but in the beginning, without response. However, the coolest event transpired out of this. I made a call to  #KetteringHealthMissions  and their response blew me out of the water. They have an entire warehouse dedicated to such events as our mission group. They get supplies donated or have an overage at the hospitals.... and they store all of these items in their warehouse. When people such as myself reach out to them, guess what?? They have an entire place filled with items to choose from which we could take over there! I was able to go in and fill 5 suitcases worth of items to take to Colombia. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I didn't necessarily know what every item was that I was putting away to take, but I felt excited over this. And I cannot wait to share this blessing with the Colombians! It's not about me... and while I give a great big THANK YOU to #KetteringHealthMissions, God is so good in having opened this door for our team.

 So, if you ask me if I'm nervous about going... I will tell you no. Because every step of the way I have seen God's hand in this journey. I know that leaving my family for 9 days will be a new undertaking, so that doesn't make me nervous, but it sits in the back of my mind.
  I'm not nervous about speaking the language again.... I am excited to do so! I am sure I will make mistakes or have to Say, "Despacio por favor" (slow down, please) But I am sure that it will come back to me in a second nature kind of way. In case you didn't know, I am a bit passionate about the Latin culture and their language. :)

 This trip has already become a transforming experience, and I simply cannot wait to see what more will transpire in my heart and life through this. There won't be the normal every day amenities over there such as we have here, but I am ready to gain that fresh perspective.
  My journey to Colombia has been in the making now since my friend KP first went years ago. But, I am confident it's going to be a life changing event.  I can't wait to share it with you.
   I close with this photo of the children in Brisas del Mar, where we are going, which I grabbed off the mission group page. Check it out if you have time and follow us while we are there! Mission to Colombia

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I run.

The sky is midnight blue.
  The full moon is shining brightly through the barren trees, making the frost on the branches glitter like diamonds.
     The fresh air stings my skin at 18 degrees, but it awakens my soul.
My breath dances around me in the early morning darkness like a ghost in the wind.

 Winter runs are the most difficult for me to get going, but honestly, they revive me.
I purposefully choose an early Spring race because if I don't, I know that my motivation will be slightly less to keep going. I am not a fan of winter.

 The blankets and bed feel so good at 4:30 in the morning on a cold winter day.

 But I choose to go out the door. And when the beauty of the sky and fresh frost greet me, I am so glad I did.  The morning is beautiful. Cold... but beautiful. I do not like winter. But, for one hour in this early morning, I can find the beauty in it.

My muscles are a little stiff, true to winter days, but as I get going, they (and I) warm up. Yesterday the sun was out and melted the sun, so I have to watch my footing a little along the way, as melted snow becomes slick ice in the night. But those patches are few, so I don't mind.

My thoughts run wildly, keeping my pace going. I feel free. Call me one of those crazy runners if you wish,  but I won't give a rebuttal to that statement today. I probably am.

I gaze at the stars a little as I run, and smile as the moon lights my way. No one is out today (and who can blame them??)

I am slow . I might be working on training for a March race, but my pace is dreadfully slow. But that's ok. Right now, I don't run for a time.
 I run because it makes me smile.
   I run because it gets me going on these winter days.
   and I run because it frees my head from the tangled thoughts that weave around my soul.

As I turn around and head home,  I am glad that I started my day this way. It was a challenge to rise at 5 am on Sunday. But very worth it.  The fingers of the clouds are beginning to wrap around the moon now, and the pink hues of sunrise are just beginning to show themselves behind me.

I reach my front door, ready to be in the warmth again, and ready to greet my family, who is just rising. And ready to consume the Sunday morning breakfast of cinnamon rolls..... And I smile.
 Today is going to be a good day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


   Each year I have chosen a word by which I would like to define myself, or my year. When 2016 began, I was unsure I wanted to do that again. However, I have learned that the more a theme comes up in my life, the more I need to pay attention to that. It happens to all of us, if we allow ourselves to be aware. Ask anyone around me- I am quite in tune with my mind and my emotions (almost to a fault), so I don't miss these themes very often.

   So, as I have pondered whether or not to choose a word, I have come to a decisive conclusion that my word for 2016 is STRONG.

   Different people define STRONG in various ways.  Urban dictionary defines it as: Someone who comes off as confident, someone who is comfortable in their own skin. Merriam Webster defines it as: having great physical power and ability; or not easy to break or damage.

   I have often been misinterpreted as a weak person because I am quiet, or because I am kind. My kindness is mistaken for weakness,  and in those moments, I have let those who are interpreting me that way define my aura. No longer will that be the case. In 2015 I did a large amount of personal inward growth. I discovered confidence in the midst of chaos. I became comfortable in awkward scenarios. I did not break as easily as I had in the past.... because I learned new truths about myself and began to believe those.

Now, for 2016, it is time I apply those and prove to others as much as to myself, that I am STRONG.
 Emotionally STRONG: Strong does not mean I do not still struggle. In fact, I would say I am stronger than any one of you may ever know because of my struggles. I wake up every day and battle the demons of depression and fight the war of anxiety. It's a silent battle, and you may never see the warrior in me, but she is raging war every day in a beautiful way, and new strength emerges in those moments. And every day that God helps me fight that battle, He grows me stronger emotionally.

 Physically STRONG: Strong does not mean I will be the most beautifully defined woman muscularly. But I will work on this area this year. I will get back to weight training and grow physically stronger. I will work towards being better in my running and attaining a PR before this year ends. I will allow myself some good eats, but I will also learn the power of resistance so that my strength does not disappear.

Mentally STRONG: Similar to emotionally strong, Being strong in this area does not mean my worries or my hurts disappear. It means I take those and use them to make me better. Mental and Emotional in my life are intertwined.

Family STRONG: I can't tell you I completely understand or have defined this category yet, I just know that it has been one that has been a bit worn down over the years, and this year we are working to build our family stronger. The battles have already begun in this area, but I am determined to be stronger here. My kids are growing fast, and time is passing quickly. This year, I will work to do my part to strengthen our family.

Verbally STRONG: Strong verbally does not mean I will walk into the room and be the loudest in the crowd. Verbally strong just means that I have found my voice.... and I am not afraid to use it any longer. I have learned how to better say no. I have learned to stand up for myself in appropriate ways. And I have learned to speak my opinion when necessary. I'm still figuring out the balance at times with this, but verbally strong doesn't mean I speak over everyone. It simply means I know when it is appropriate to share my stance.

Spiritually STRONG: While I chose this area for last, I did so because it resonates the most powerfully in my life. I have sat the backseat of my faith at times. Being Spiritually strong does not mean I am going to get in others' face with my beliefs. No, that is not it at all. Spiritually strong simply means I have convictions and I will stick to them. Spiritually strong means relying on God fully to be my strength. He has taught me to let go of a lot of things and people; now I am learning to let Him fill those gaps, so that I can be spiritually stronger. Spiritually strong means sharing my story and not being afraid of it. Spiritually strong also has come to mean a very powerful aspect of life for me: it means I rely on His strength for all of these above STRONG items. It means that without Him, I can do none of these. I know that in my own power, I am weak. I know that I battle my mind every day, but only by His power can I overcome. It is in His Strength that my weaknesses are made perfect. And this year I will embrace that deeper. So that He becomes stronger in me. So that I can be STRONG.

 So, as 2016 is well on its way, I will choose to be STRONG this year. In every category. Because I am a warrior. I am a fighter. And I will not back down.

 Deuteronomy 31:6 , MSG says " Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them second thought because God, your God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down. He won't leave you. "

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

God is So Big

2016. A new year.  Everyone is talking about their new year's resolutions or their word of the year.
 For the first time in many years, I am not amongst those doing that. I think I have ideas sitting in the back of my mind of some goals, and possibly even a potential word, but I'm not quite ready to shout to the world what those look like just yet. They are still formulating in my heart.

 As they formulate, God is already working big lessons in my life as the year begins.

When I was a child, and even as I grew up, my  mom used songs as a way to teach us about God, or for that mater, about how to clean up or how to remember spelling words. But most importantly, about God. Sometimes mom would make up a song. Other times, the song was a well-known childhood favorite. In the midst of a sleepless night, such a song came to my mind.
   Those childhood songs are so simple, but so life-giving. So full of hope and joy. Simple words. Big truths. The song on my heart tonight goes like this:
  My God is so BIG- So Strong and So Mighty- There's Nothing My God cannot do. (Repeat) 
 The mountains are His. The valleys are His. The stars are His handiwork, too. 
 My God is so BIG- So strong and so Mighty- There's nothing My God cannot do. 

 There is NOTHING that God cannot do.

When the world walks out, He remains by my side.
 When a friend cannot carry my burdens, He says to lay my burdens on Him.
When people's words hurt, His heal.
  When fear creeps in, He gives peace that passes all understanding.
When finances are frustrating, He says He will provide for my needs.
 When no one seems reliable, He says to trust Him.
When the world screams the words "unworthy", He crowns me with grace and beauty.
When life keeps hitting hard, He gives armor to protect.
When grief weighs heavy, He extends beautiful love.
 The list could go on. But God will always have an answer. His truths are greater than the world's lies. His freedom is greater than any burden I could ever try to carry, be it my own or someone else's.  He is So Strong and So Mighty... there is Nothing He cannot do.  And that is definitely a theme I want to carry with me through this new year.
Matthew 11:28-30, MSG. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. "