Monday, July 27, 2009

A Story. Not My Own, But So Much More Important.

I've had a bit of blogger's block over the last week or so. That was until just 2 minutes ago thanks to Facebook. After perusing the "photos" section, I stumbled across an album from a friend's recent mission trip to Kenya. To say I was humbled by their photos would be putting it lightly. Awestruck seems more appropriate.

When I used to debate with my Christian friends on why I was fine having my "private" relationship with the Lord, why I was fully justified in not attending church because I didn't need an establishment to serve God, etc...I would usually end by letting them know I didn't want to become the kind of Christian they were partly because I loved the U.S. You see growing up I never wanted to leave the states and seeing the world just didn't do it for me. I told them that I didn't want to become a missionary one day and had no desire to travel to Africa and help people there. I was fine here and I knew if I did what they were asking of me, if I gave my life to the Lord, surely God would send me to Africa. Ugh.

Fast-forward 9 years. I've still never been forced to go to Africa. I've never been forced to go anywhere I didn't want to go for that matter. God has changed my heart. God did lead me to Nicaragua. It wasn't as bad as I thought 9 years ago. I hope one day He leads me to Africa. I'm not ready yet for the desert. One day I hope to be.

Their story is below. I'm not going to attach my words, as it wasn't my trip and I don't have a first hand glimpse into what it was like. I think his photos tell the story. I simply wanted to share with you the faces of the people that were touched. The lives that were changed. And the land that was blessed. You'll see faces, people, prayers, desperation, love, drought, faith, and rain. The land hadn't seen rain in 3 years. These men were desperate. Prayer can change things and it did. Rain drops on a dirty grey t-shirt have never looked so good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Parental Observations

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being an on-looker as two different parents made their children’s universe a very happy place to be. Let me preface this post by saying that earlier in the week I had sat down on the couch to catch up on an Oprah episode discussing child neglect. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room (granted, I was the only one in the room but I swear I saw Piggy shed a tear or 2 as well). I sat on my cushy couch, with my drink and snack in hand and watched story after story of children who are raised without food, without bathing, without any love from a single human being, and sometimes even raised in cages. I was heart broken and enraged. How can you do that to an animal let alone your own child?!

As I stood in church yesterday, and as I joined in with 1,000 other people as we sang and worshiped together, I noticed a family of 3 two rows ahead who would allow me a glimpse into the exact opposite upbringing that I witnessed via Oprah. Both parents, most likely in their early 30’s, literally “fought” over who would get to hold their child during each song. I say fought, but I mean it in the sweetest sense you can imagine. They both just wanted to be in that moment, hearts singing and arms holding the one they loved more than life. As we sang “Happy Day” the young mom danced with her toddler and held him up as if he were the only person on the planet. Love was in the air, along with the sweet boy with the red curls.

Later on in the day, over grilled hot dogs and bluegrass music, I had the pleasure of watching a father dance with his precious daughter in front a stage and crowd. Oblivious to the onlookers, this child was about 6 years old, danced like she knew what she was doing with graceful arms and smile plastered on her face, and was probably one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. What caught my eye more than her smile was the genuine look of love on her daddy’s face. You could tell that he felt like the lucky one. As the mom snapped pictures and the rest of us watched in adoration, I knew that I was privy to a family memory that would probably last a very long time.

As one of my dear friends watched beside me, she leaned over and said “I’d give a million dollars to have a memory like that with my dad.” Again, my heart broke as I was reminded of what much of her childhood was like and again I felt bad that she’d never feel a memory like that for herself. At the same time my heart grew for the little girl dancing with her dad who would have that memory.

As adults, you never know what memories your children will hold on to, but I do know that I hope to equip my children with plenty of loving ones for them to choose from someday. No child should ever grow up willing to pay for a happy memory.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Road Trips and Weekend Getaways with Your Girls...What I Learned:

  • It’s possible to consume more calories in one car trip than you can in one whole week.
  • Fountain Cokes with vanilla syrup and popcorn ice make any 5+ hour car trip WAY cooler.
  • Never turning the radio on during your 11 hours of travel leaves much room for chatter.
  • “What if” and “Would you Rather” can knock out at least 2 hours.
  • When in doubt, do not eat at a resturant where flies definitely out number customers. Gross.
  • Having a soldier on your boat during the 4th of July makes the day a little more real and meaningful.
  • The older you get, the cooler your friend’s parents become.
  • 30 is a little too old for extreme tubing. You’ll hurt for DAYS after the fun ends.
  • Never trust a friend who swears they won’t tip over the jet-ski. You’re totally going in that frigid lake water.
  • Yelling categories out as you plunge into a lake can add hours of cheap entertainment.
  • Signs is a game enjoyable throughout all generations.
  • Confetti is still way more fun than bubbles in my eyes.
  • Put 4 girls in one car and you’re bound to grow closer. Tears, laughter, and snacks can deepen any relationship.