once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do.

God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls,

knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

//all times soon. chapter two and the second year.

"and we know it's never simple, never easynever a clean break no one here to save meyou're the only thing i know like the back of my handand i can't breathe without youbut i have to" - "breathe" taylor swift
two years.two whole years.

i miss her.i miss her with all my might.
i've never really understood grief before.i mean, yes...i've lost family members over the yearsand i'm most definitely not saying that any ofthose losses are insignificant. because they were.
but she was supposed to come home.that day.
two years later,i still ache.
some days i'm so overwhelmedwith emptiness.other days, i'm buried in anxietybecause i can't talk to her.most days,i just miss her.and, so selfishly, i hate that her being goneis part of my life.i hate that people who haven't seen me in awhilecome up to me and ask how my dad is doing.what about me?i lost someone, too.i know they don't mean to be inconsiderate.but it bothers me.i've been in counseling for several months.the sudden death of a loved oneis violent.i'm still amazed at the depth of painand loss i feel to this day.
she's in everything.
i see her in the beach decor at home goods.i see her when i find myself biting my nails.i see her in the perfume counter at macy's because who can't smell thierry mugler's angel fragrance from a mile away?i see her in every bowl of lucky charms..especiallywhen its 2am and i can't sleep.i see her in the way i fidget when i'm unsure of myself.i see her in my sister's face.
sometimes if i close my eyes and concentrate real hard,i remember what her laugh sounded like.i can remember what it felt like when she held meand just exactly how she smelled...even without the perfume.i can see the shapes of her weird toes and the imperfections of her small lips.i can remember the way her hair fell on her back and the exact color of blonde she fought so hard to keep.i can remember the way she picked her nails while driving the carand how she ever rarely knew the right words to a song.i can remember what it looked like while she chatted on the phoneand mopped the floor at the same time.i can remember the sound of her coming downstairs in her pajamasafter dinner to watch general hospital on DVR.and on and on and on...

i guess at the end of it all, the second year is really no different than the first.the pain really doesn't leave.and the days don't ever get any easier.but it's okay.and yeah,sometimes i cry in home goods while holding a seashell lamp.but i'm okay.
it's so easy to wallow in all of this and forget how temporary it all is.my mom has been with Jesus for two years nowand i imagine it has felt, to her, like 2 seconds and 2 zillion years all at the same time.in Revelation 13:8, the Bible says that Jesus was slainbefore even the foundation of the world.before adam + eve.before sin even entered the world.it wasn't like eve ate the appleand God went "oops, what just happened?!"He knew it would happen.salvation was already accomplished.i don't quite understand how that all worksand truthfully, i really don't need to.but it just comforts me that time is something that,in the scope of everything eternal,won't mean much once i, too, go Home.i cling to the hope + comfort in that reality.
so, with that...another year later,i, again, leave you with a quote from Narnia.in voyage of the dawn treader, aslan is leavingafter a brief meeting with lucy but promisesher that they will meet again soon.
"Please, Aslan," said Lucy, "what do you call soon?""I call all times soon" said Aslan.
two years ago, my mother slipped the bonds of earthto touch the face of Jesus.it broke my heart but i delight inknowing that these last two years - thoughpainful for me - have been joyful for her.just the beginning of eternity for her.her precious life on earthmay be over.but her life in Heaven - which is evermore real than i can imagine -has only just begun.all the memories i have of her,every moment she livedand every step she took,and every breath she breathed on earthwas just what i was able to see onthe cover of the Book.and today, she begins chapter two of the Great Story,as c.s. lewis describes in "the last battle",which no one on earth has read; which goes onforever; in which every chapter is better than the last."
so when will i see my mother again?soon.

"and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." - Revelation 21:4


Sunday, February 19, 2012

//i fell in love at the post office or the photo i will never regret not taking. ethiopia : day 2.


guess who got to celebrate their 27th birthday

woop! woop!

so for cereals...
i was a bit homesick.
really missed my hubs.
but after i came downstairs to a chorus
of "happy birthday" from my team
and stuffed my face with Tsige's
banana bread...things started to look up.

our team split for church.
the men headed to the Anointed Word of God Church
{where we served the day before}
and myself and the ladies attended
the International Evangelical Church.

after service, we met back up with the guys and
had the most kickin', delicious indian lunch.


after yummy lunch, we put on our
tourist hats and went to 
entoto mountain to see the view.

on our way, we detoured through an HIV village
where people who have or are related to
someone who has HIV are pretty much ostracized
from everything they know.
it makes me sick.
with education, medicine and proper care,
HIV is legit not a huge deal.
it blows my mind how different
the third world is.

of course, the children are beautiful.


absolutely perfect creations crafted by
the Hands that made you and me.

after some time at the mountaintop,

{oh hey, walsers.}

we headed to a place called the post office.

basically, the post office is in the general area
so they call it the post office.
makes sense.
it's a place filled with little shops.
your typical tourist trap.

the place is brimming with babies on the backs
of their begging mothers and 
dirty, dusty school-aged children.
they surrounded our van and pushed whatever
they were lucky enough to
scrounge together to sell in our faces.
i noticed there were very few girls 
and wheni asked why, i was told 

"this is where the sex traffickers come".

basically in ethiopia,
a child is required by law 
to attend primary school
until they are older.
{like middle school age}
after that, the family needs to pay fees
so their child can receive a "higher" education.
but most families cannot swing 
the meager cost of tuition.
and besides, there's more money to be made 
when a little kid is doing the begging, right?
why spend money and send your kid to school
when you can put them on the street for free?
have them beg and bring in 
whatever money they can?
now precious, beautiful little girls 
are ripe for the taking.
and if they are lucky enough not to be trafficked.
they will most likely prostitute themselves 
because what other marketable skills do they have?

and the cycle continues...
another starving mother with a baby on her back presses
her desperate face against your car window 
at the post office and when you 
ignore her begging...
{as i have done...forgive me, Jesus}
she hopes with all her might that some other tourist
will relent and give her kid, 
the eight year old boy who 
carries the burden with her of providing 
for their family by begging, 
a few dollars for a pack of gum or toothbrush.
it's the way of life at the post office.

and yet...amidst the shattering of my heart
i fell in love at the post office.

a little boy...probably 8 or 9 years old caught my eye.
it wasn't anything silly he did or 
anything he tried to say to me.
there was nothing magical or profound about him.
except that his face was completely
 melted off on his left side.
his eye socket stretched and exposed.
his mouth sagged.
i only noticed him because i was curious
why he was covering his face as i peered
at him through the viewfinder of my camera.
most ethiopia children love having their picture taken.
but not this boy.
his name is "nata".
and i'm sure he notices that his picture
is taken more than his friends.
and i'm sure he notices the pity and horror
in the eyes of the people who take those
pictures instead of the laughter and joy
he sees when they take pictures of his friends
and their un-scarred, un-melted faces.
i wonder how many churches and organizations have 
nata plastered all over their 
walls and websites?
i did not have the heart to take his photo.
for one small moment, i was not
a photographer.  i was a witness to a story
of a precious human being who had
something very bad happen to him.
whose pain goes much deeper than scars on skin...
i couldn't even bring myself to sneak a shot 
when nata wasn't looking.
all i wanted to do was get out of our van and take
his beautiful, melted face into my hands
and kiss his scarred cheeks and tell
him how fearfully and wonderfully made
he is and how perfect i thought he was.

i am BEGGING you, dear blog reader...
pray for my nata.
pray that God will raise him up
to be a great cause for the Kingdom.
that nata's life will be a living
example of john 9:3.  that the glory 
and works of God will be displayed
through his life.

after goodbyes to my new friends at
the post office, we headed back
to our guest house for debrief and to
work on sorting through donations for Bring Love In.

OH! and my team surprised me 
with a delicious tiramisu
birthday cake from kaldi's coffe shop


Saturday, February 18, 2012

//ethiopia : travel + day one

 on thursday, february 16th..off we (10 team members, all our junk and 800 pounds of donations) went to ethiopia!

we arrived in ethiopia friday evening...
(thank you all who prayed for our safety and my nerves!)

as soon as my team and i set foot outside the airport,
i knew i was home.
i can't explain it.
but it has to do with africa.
there's either something in the air on that continent
(remember, i've only been to ghana before)
or something in my soul that can only rest in africa.
more on that in a later post...i promise.

after saying hello and being welcomed
by the amazing staff at our guest home,
we all pretty much collapsed in our beds.
i was especially excited about my bed because  
it was covered in a 
black + white CHEVRON quilt. 
(call me silly, but i took it as a 
special kiss from Jesus!)


saturday morning brought my first ethiopian sunrise! 

our view from the guest home...
i was so excited that i grabbed barbara and took a photo...
FYI: barbara mentored me years ago when i first
became a christian...now here we are on our
first day of serving in ethiopia....and
sharing a bunk bed! (i made her sleep on top
because i'm a baby.)
how cool is Jesus?!

our lovely caretaker, tsige ("sig-ay") served
us the most delicious breakfast of ethiopian
coffee (to which i am now addicted..pray for me),
banana oatmeal and banana bread.  i felt so spoiled
and cared for.

finally, we were out the door
to meet up with Jesse + Levi

 you may recognize this babe, erica shubin!
FYI : we met on facebook through mutual friends
and God used this chick to break my heart
and open my ignorant eyes for orphans and widows.
and now he were are, together, in ethiopia!

jesse chatting with dave shubin...the leader of our trip.

 joe + rachel walser...
 FYI : joe lead me to Christ in 2005 
and God used his uber pretty wife, Rachel, 
to grow my heart for children...
and now here we all are in ethiopa!

PS: the cafe we were at had a really nice floor outside...

from our little chat, we headed to the
word of God anointed church that hosts a
weekly Bible study for poor kids in their
area and also provides a weekly
supply of teft 
(grain) to their widowed mothers.

we were welcomed with open arms.
lots of hugs and high fives.
giggles and tickles.
funny faces and silly poses for the camera. :]
these moments make me wonder
about Heaven and
how i'll feel each eternal day..
will i feel more and more at Home
as time goes on?
that's kinda how it feels in ethiopia...
each beautiful brown face i lay eyes on...
each little hand that tries to rub my tattoos off...
every dirty foot and musical giggle
makes me feel more and more at Home.
FYI : this epic photo was taken
by one of the children. call me crazy, but that little
dude has quite the eyeball for pictures! :]

Bibles are also provided at this program...

a bunch of our team spent the remainder of our time
at the church chatting with jesse + levi
from Bring Love In.  i really admired my team's
willingness to take time to listen to their vision
and encourage them.

as for me...it would have taken a crow bar
to pry me from the children.
this is my happy place.

from the church, we headed to lunch and then out and about
in addis ababa, ethiopia.

i ran into these precious darlings
outside of a small shopping mall...
 the little lady in the middle
came right up to our van as we parked.
she was covered in dirt and dust.
clothed in ratty clothing
and her lips were cracked.
she was begging, like so many children
her age are forced to do.
i gave her a piece of gum and 
touched her cheek as i passed.
her face lit up like the fourth of july.
and with that little girl's bright smile 
went another broken piece of my heart.
beauty and joy.
amidst the ugly and desperate.
i wish i remembered her name.
 on our way back to the van
 i stopped for some cuddles and pictures.
i want to remember this kids.
to show you their faces.
to remind myself and you that these kids
are begging in a dusty, dirty, dry
parking lot outside a shopping mall
in ethiopia.
that while we can get up and grab
a bottle of clean water,
that little girl still has cracked lips.
i wouldn't be surprised if she still has that piece
of chewed gum.
to her, it's a treasure.
to me, a joke compared to what needs to be done for her.
i am so helpless.
 i am so small.
but i love that little girl with all my heart.
and i know God does, too.
i find comfort that He knows her name
and has a plan for her life.
i hope i see her again.
and God lets me be part of that plan, again.
if you are reading this, take a minute and pray for her
and her friends, ok?  let me know that you did.

the rest of our saturday included our debrief
at kaldi's coffee shop.  my addiction to ethiopian
coffee confirmed at the sight of my macchiato.
i really enjoyed talking with my team members about our
first impressions of ethiopia.  i love how God
speaks so uniquely to each of us...how we all
saw and felt something different.

after our first day in ethiopia, again,
we collapsed in our beds.
as i snuggled in my chevron quilt 
all i could do was lay and be quiet before Jesus.