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Monday, September 24, 2012

Reflections on Ecuador

I wish that I would have taken the time to reflect every day on the different experiences.  There is so much that I could say and so much I want to say. This trip was given to me as a gift from God.  My trip was paid for by a generous family.  I wish I could convey to them how much this trip has impacted my life.  I want them to know how grateful I am for this experience that has turned my life upside down.  If it wasn’t for them, I’d have nothing to reflect.   So, thank you, thank you and thank you.

From Fear to Wonder
I hate it that I struggle with fear, but I do.  Yes, I feared that my planes would crash and we wouldn’t make it back.  I feared that the plane ride would give me a bad headache or motion sickness.  I feared that I would get malaria, since that is the one vaccine I didn’t get.  I feared that I would get sick from the water or the foreign food.  I feared that I would feel awkward and uncomfortable in a foreign country.  UGH!  I type the words and I think “REALLY?.”  It embarrasses me that as many times that God has proven Himself to me in my life, as many times that God has stepped in and provided for my many needs, and as many times that God has protected me from many harms, I still wrestle with fear.  I can report that God faithfully covered my every fear – again.  

He replaced every fear with His peace and joy.  Not only that, He blessed me with awe and wonder.  As I was flying in the plane I looked at the top of the clouds. God is His infinite wisdom created the clouds to stop at some point in the sky.  They become this magnificent covering for the earth.  It was beautiful – a small reflection of God’s creative genius. At one point in the flight I looked down and noticed the thousands of homes and was blown away that God knew the intricate details of every person in each one of those houses.  The whole experience of Ecuador would be new to me, but God formed the country and its inhabitants. He knew the coming and going of all Ecuador's affairs since day one.  UNFATHOMABLE!!  How does God keep track of every person in the whole world at the same time?  God blows me away.  The more I see and learn, the more I grasp that He is way bigger than my mind can imagine.

The People
Oh my goodness!  The people were amazing!  I am not understating or exaggerating when I say that we were treated like royalty.  It was so humbling to be loved on by the Compassion leaders, the mothers of the children we sponsor, and the beautiful children.  In the first fifteen minutes of meeting with the children, one of the girls took off one of her bracelets and put it on my wrist.  I didn’t want her to give me a gift – I wanted to give her gifts.  This is how it was the whole trip.  From day one to the very end, they were giving so much to us.  The hostess prepared feasts for us.  The mothers made us gifts. The children gave us themselves.  At the very least it was humbling.  I could not help but feel guilty for my lack of contentment with my life. These wonderful people who had nothing compared to you and me were the most grateful people I have ever met.  On the last day, we met with just the mothers.  Many asked why we would travel so far just to see them.  One mother started crying and asked how long would we support them.  It broke my heart to realize that the small amount of money that I don’t even miss to support just one of these kids means so much to a family across the world.  

I know you’ve heard it many times before, but it was true – these kids who had nothing were the happiest, the most loving kids I have ever met! When I was playing with the kids, I was brought back to a place I’d long forgotten.  They had something that I had lost along the American dreamy way - a place where I was safe and free of all worries and fears.  They gave a pure love of total acceptance.  No one cared what their clothes or hair looked like.  They had untainted joy solely from being with one another. It was a picture of what I imagine God purposed for His church all along.  

I didn't have the skill (speaking Spanish) to get to know the kids like I wanted, but I managed to find a small way to connect with them.  There's a little hand game called "Double This, Double That".  I played it literally for hours with the children.  It was so endearing throughout the week to have a little kid come up to me and hold up his/her two tiny fists and in a Spanish accent ask, "Double, double?".  Ahhh - it blessed my heart.  Even though I couldn't communicate with words to these kids, I was able to show them what all of us really want in the long end - someone willing to take the time to jump into our world and share it with us.

It's Time
In my next blog, I want to take the opportunity to tell you about my experience in sponsoring Ivan.  For now, I want to leave you with an opportunity to change your life and the life of not one child, but a family across the world.  Visit the Compassion International website at http://www.compassion.com/ and look through the many kids who still need a sponsor.  If God leads you to sponsor, I can guarantee that it will be one decision you won't regret!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wait for it...

Do you know what I've found? I've found disappointments often bring about surprises in the long run. You know, like when you go to buy a car and you find the perfect one only to call the dealer and find out it has been sold. Then a week later you find the same car at a cheaper price with less mileage and WOW - you are surprised and thankful that you missed out on the first car. That has happened so many times in my life I could put you to sleep with all my stories, but I am only going to share one.

Every time I fell head-over-heals for a guy, I always wanted him to be THE ONE. He was supposed to be the guy who fell madly in love with me and we would live happily ever after. But my heart was broken over and over and over again. It seemed that year after year, from one guy to the next, I was in a malicious cycle of unfulfillment. But my story had a happy ending, to my surprise I finally found Mr. Right. He isn't perfect, but he is perfectly, wonderfully suited for me. Looking back, it is easy to see how God knew His plan all along. What if during those years of heartache rather than seeking out a soulmate I would have sought after God? I only wish I would have had that kind of wisdom. I would have kept myself from so many woes!

Thought to ponder: If we, as Christ-followers, believe that God works all things out for our good, why are we ever disappointed by what life gives us? I have come to believe that if I am disappointed in life, it is because I have let my eyes wander away from a Perfect Father. God is a father who knows how we are wired. He knows the future. He knows how to fulfill our hearts. He is Good. Don't let your heart dwell on disappointment, rather fight to see the good that might be right around the corner and wait for it!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Today I woke up thinking about how yesterday morning I was PSYCHED! I had mentally calculated and dreamed about having success in my weight loss journey. If only I would lose so many pounds, in so many weeks, I COULD get down to my goal weight. I called my dad and talked to him about my plans. I called my husband and asked for his help. I was READY to do this!! I downloaded an app to help me prepare to run a 10K. I went to the gym for an hour. Then, it happened - what seems to happen every single day of my life. The hours of the day ticked by. I became busy with emails, music, the responsibilities of my day and the evening had come. My PSYCHED moment from the morning had been forgotten and the Couch Potato monster came out. ALL the motivation left my brain and I fell into the routine of wanting to be entertained and treating myself to whatever food calls my name. With all the successes of the morning, I still turned around and ate pretzels and ice cream as I watched American Idol. UGH!!!

I feel like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but truth is this is the human condition. I am so thankful for God's Word and the many truths written by His people. Paul writes in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." YES - that is me and I surmise every single person at one point in their lives. Thankfully, God doesn't leave us hangin'! He always masterfully provides His answer. In verse 24 Paul says, "What a wretched man I am! WHO will rescue me from this body of death?" The answer? Verse 25, "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I will NEVER be perfect, even as a Christ-follower, but God does promise to rescue me from my sin. His forgiveness allows me to leave the past behind and look to the future. God offers to extend to me His grace, His power to overcome the sin in my life. It's not easy, but I believe every step is and will be worth it in the end. I have to obey. I have to seek Him. I have to avoid temptation. I have to use the common sense God has given me. Most importantly, I have to have faith that God is faithful to follow through with His promises and give me what I need to be who He wants me to be.

Philippians 1:6 says, "...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Now that is EXCITING!!! I believe it! God has a good work for MY life - YES!! So, I am going to get PSYCHED again this morning, go the gym again today, maybe put up some skinny pictures to inspire myself and I am going to have faith that God will help me overcome this battle.

I don't feel so conflicted anymore....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rushing Forward

I'm tired of being stagnant, so I'm starting my blog today. This probably isn't the riskiest or most exciting way to venture out. That's a-ok with me. This isn't where I'm stopping, this is where I am starting. My dreams are going to rise to the forefront of my life. I will stop hiding them behind the curtains and let them take center stage. In the process, I hope to write of the ups and downs of achieving God's best for my life. Maybe others will be encouraged as well to rush forward into life and leave stagnancy behind.