Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Expectation vs. Reality

You know how you expect things....you know they're coming, or you think they're coming...but the way you expect to feel when they come isn't at all how they feel once it becomes reality? It's like your expectations meant nothing because nothing prepared you for this. And no matter how long you'd been expecting it...it just wasn't what it really was when reality hit? Hm.

It's like if you play a scene in your head...you know that Thing A will be happening...so you process all the possibilities & probabilities of what will be the effect of Thing A, that causes Thing B. You convince yourself that Thing B will be great, that it'll be grand, that it will work out. But when Thing A comes along, you react, turning into motion Thing XYZ and not even close to B....and then you freeze.

It happened tonight. As I'm wrapping presents, alone in my parents house. I'm wrapping all of my families presents. The door bell rings, from someone unexpected. Then here on the door is a friend, bringing care packages to my family, because he knows that this Christmas will be different. Yes it will. I knew it would be....I prepared for it. But as I took the packages, thanking him for his prayers & care, I placed them gently on the chair and started to cry. How is it that someone ELSE knew how hard a different kind of Christmas this would be....but to me, I had no idea! I get that this isn't going to be like this every Christmas from here on out....but this one, THIS one....it's just hard & it sucks. And everyone around me knew it....but I didn't. I thought it'd be fine, it'd be an adventure. Hm.

As I'm writing this, two verses come to mind. Philippians 4:7, which says that "...the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus." ....So I know that He is guarding me, and will put peace in my heart that I may not understand. And I also know that "The Lord is my Rock my Fortress and my deliverer, my God is my Rock in whom I take refuge." (Psalm 18:2) Therefore I know that He will be the one to bring me through....to bring US through. I may not be prepared for what's next....but I know that when my expectations meet reality, God will be the one who will comfort, provide, protect & reveal all that it is I am to know and do.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Where I want to go....top 22 places!

22. Antarctica If I EVER get a chance to go here & it won’t make me bankrupt, I want to go. Probably wouldn’t last long though because I hate cold weather….but I’d still go.

21. French Guiana Here’s a country that I’d like to see just because….mainly because I’ve met a few people from here, and it’s always fun to see where they are actually from! I found a picture of this old French fort outside of Cacao and if I go, I’d want to make a stop here.

20. Canada I can’t say that this has ever been TOO high up on my list, but the mere fact that I am only hours away from a whole other country, makes me want to go….just to say I’ve been there.
19. Burkina Faso I put this country on the list because I just photographed a wedding, where the groom was from here. Curiosity I guess! This mosque looks really great too!
18. Philippines It seems that dangerous & war prone areas are the ones that attract me. Despite the instability of the Philippines, I’d love to see this unique country.
17. Namibia Not really sure why, but during a missions Sunday at my old church, the country of Namibia popped into my head. I got the giggles during church because I just thought it was SO random. It makes me want to go there & figure out what the reason was.
16. Norway Years ago, I became friends with a few people who are from Norway. Hearing about life there from them, sounded really cool! It sounds like nowhere I’ve ever been….except that everyone in Minnesota is Scandinavian…so it sounds a LITTLE like home, but much cooler. I’d love to see the Fjords and the fishing villages!
15. Netherlands Duh. I’m half-Dutch, why wouldn’t I want to go see where my relatives came from? The locks & waterways sound awesome! As well as I’d love to see how much of my family’s characteristics are from the Netherland culture….or just because we’re crazy!
14. Bosnia One time I was only yards from the border of this country…but it was manned with heavily armed guards…so we stayed away. It piqued my interest & I hope to one day go here after/before one of my Romania trips. Ravaged by war & in many ways still untouched by western culture changes, it would be great to see this country.
13. Israel From the beginning, this area and the people living here, have been such a critical part of history. Wars, conflict, religion, passion & doctrine have come out of this place, so I wonder who wouldn’t want to go here if given the chance. Who knows how long this country will last…so I’d love to go before it’s gone as we know it!
12. India I’ve known many people from India, and always been intrigued by the uniqueness of culture & traditions. The colors here look outstanding, and there can’t be enough said about the food & friendliness of the people. I’ve heard it is very dirty & smells….but I could put up with that while I indulge in their beautiful country.
11. North Korea I remember learning about North Korea in 5th grade. I wanted to go then…and still want to go now, although I realize it’s very dangerous and currently illegal. Still, I want to explore this hidden & guarded land. Maybe someday.
10. Greece History. Culture. Warm weather. Kalamata olives. Feta cheese. Blue roofs. Need I say more?
9. Brazil Look at these waterfalls & the power in them! They are the Iguassu Falls....and this picture is sick. It makes me want to hop on a plane NOW!
8. Ecuador When I was just a little girl, apparently we had a missionary from Ecuador come to visit our church. I was enthralled by them, and ran around the house saying…(phonetically & emphasis added)… “KEE-TOH, EK-a-door.” I’ve been drawn to it ever since.
7. Croatia This is a land that has been ravaged by war, and yet retains so much beauty right on the coast of the sea. Just soak in these bright red roofs contrasted by the teal blue sea….a—mazing.
6. El Salvador This is some place that I'm just curious about. You don't hear about it often, and sometimes those are the best places! My great aunt visited here once, and got these photos of a man & woman making hats & clothing in a dimly lit room...it captivated me. Where are these people from, what is their life like?
5. Argentina Last fall, I went through a time where employment was uncertain for a few of us. During that time, trying to find hope of something else if we found pink in our mailboxes, my friend & I decided that we would move to Argentina. This country has such diverse landscapes....from snow to beaches, rain forests to deserts. Amazing.
4. Turkey A country full of culture, history, religion & adventure...what's not to love? I recently found a destination here that I simply MUST see some day. It is called "cotton castles" or Pamukkale, where sulfuric hot pools bubble up from the earth & over flow into a facade of snow like drifts, welcoming relaxation seekers to find peace in their warm embrace. (No, I did not copy this.....that is truly what I feel towards this wondrous natural wonder.) AH.
3. Spain (Palma de Mallorca) This is a destination that has been on my list for a while. My Aunt apparently always spoke of Palma de Mallorca as one of the most beautiful places she traveled to....which says a lot, being she was ALL over the world. Two of my brothers' biological siblings live here, so it would be great to visit!
2. Egypt Since I was little, I've always wanted to see Egypt for myself. I'm fascinated with history & archeology, that Egypt would be like a "mecca" type trip for me. Someday I want to dress in colorful robes & ride a camel around the Pyramids.
1. Morocco I want to see Morocco SO bad. It just brings such intrigue & culture. Colors (like in this picture) really draw me to places like this. Also, my Aunt Helen visited Morocco too & I currently have her photos hanging in my room. She caught such beauty that I want to experience it too!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bunches of Goodness

This morning, I'm sitting here, jumping for joy on the inside, bursting with something. It's like...the last few days have been SO good, SO much better than previous ones. Yet what I know to be true is that despite the amazing things that have been happening around me & the fun things I've been doing, it's not THAT that is supplying my energy. It is the in-explainable joy that comes from knowing that my future & freedom is all in God's hands.

Paul prayed that this would happen for us, "so that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith. And (he) prayed that (we) being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that (we) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." --Ephesians 3:17-19

...and we know that this prayer would be answered because "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful & effective." --James 5:16b It is effective, and felt beyond the realm of time. How would Paul know that we would need this prayer so much? He helps us to realize that the power of the Holy Spirit will meet us where we are through those who pray for us when he writes in 2 Corinthians 9:14, "and in their prayers for you, their heart will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you."

God is answering their prayer, and giving us a bold & fresh faith. One that is not easily overcome. Still, knowing that we have this power through Him, we must hear him & open the doors to our heart, so that we can be cleansed & prepared to defend our faith to those who come with questions & challenge us. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," --1 Peter 3:15

We can be confident that the prayers of the righteous will be fulfilled by God, & that we can walk in that confidence because we "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." --Deuteronomy 7:9

Walk in boldness, gather all the confident joy you can muster from the bunches of ways that God pours out his goodness through his Grace, as answers to the prayers of many and rejoice in Him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A little piece of beauty

Have you ever stumbled upon beauty in an unexpected place? Or had it bump into you at a time when you needed to see something of hope? I was reminded of a moment when this happened to me this year.

Beauty inspires me. It allows me to see something & create, fill in the unknowns of the depth below the surface. But sometimes beauty needs to be taken just at face value & heard in the quiet places. This summer, at the end of a mission trip, my friends & I took a week to explore beauty in Europe. The mission trip had been hard, challenging & beautiful in itself, but...I think we all needed a little breathing room to process all we had experienced. On the last evening, the three of us got all dressed up, did our makeup, hair & headed out for a free jazz concert in the heart of Budapest.

The concert was in an upper room of a classic WWII era building, of marble & stone. It was standing room only, and even THAT was crowded. So one of the girls & I decided to grab a glass-bottle coca-cola, and go back downstairs to a little lounge room with two sets of french doors, an over-sized fireplace and a black grand piano. The room was completely empty except for a round fellow, balding & aging quickly with round, inch-thick spectacles & a bow tie. He sat at the grand piano, alone, playing classic jazz melodies.

I looked at him & thought up this life....he was an old man, that lived a normal life. A life that had no adventure and no big casualties. One that was never written about in a book, or would never be mentioned in the papers. He probably had never been married, but had been in love once & had never forgotten her. He lived at home and took care of his even older mother who called him by his full name. Music was the one thing he did exceptionally well, and that was where his adventure was made. It was through his music that he could write songs about the extraordinary things that he never experienced but always dreamed about. Every Saturday evening he would sing softly to an empty room, hoping that his normal life would do something, for someone, someday, somewhere. And that was his life.

Of course none of this was credible in any way, because the only thing we heard from him was in Hungarian...so it was all the beautiful imagination that I've been gifted with, taking hold of the could-be's of his life.

But it struck me then & again today, just how beautiful that moment was. Sitting there with a friend, listening to a contented musician play out his soul through the notes of a piano, in an empty room that was filled with beauty. Such peace surrounded us, such comfort & stillness. What beauty met us there. We didn't think of it then, but I see it now, that God's beauty is like that night. It's simple. It's beautiful & comforting. It draws you in. It is riveting & calm. Hm. To stop & notice those beautiful moments...to stop & notice how God can bring us beauty & peace...to stop & notice that He notices you, and wants to bring us beauty. It's beautiful.

Friday, November 06, 2009


We are not grasshoppers.

Maybe you think you are, but you’re not. I’m not just being silly….Keep reading.

Numbers 13 tells the story of the 12 spies scouting out the land that God had given to the Hebrews. They spent 40 days exploring the land, and at the end they came back with a report. Two of the spies (Caleb & Joshua) said “We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” That’s a good encouraging report! Unfortunately, there were 10 other spies that replied “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are….The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size….We seemed like GRASSHOPPERS in our OWN eyes, and we looked the same to them.” The second report wasn’t so encouraging….it was rather deflating & discouraging.

Who really would want to do something like that, where your good friends & knowledgeable people came to tell you how little chance you’d have of accomplishment? I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go either…..but then again, who knows. I just heard a sermon on this passage, and it shocked me too to hear that they said how they “seemed like grasshoppers” in their OWN eyes. They had a view of themselves as little bugs…little annoying bugs that men can easily squash. Grasshoppers don’t have a lot of power…but they do seem to “whine” a lot, which is why I know we can crush them.

But what did Caleb & Joshua see that made them think so differently? They knew the power that they had with them. It was the power of the Holy Spirit, not their own power that they put trust in. I think the others must have known they had the Holy Spirit too, but didn’t trust in the POWER of it in them. The Holy Spirit’s power is in each of us who put our trust in God, and who truly believe that He is the One True God that saves us from our sinfulness. It is very easy to be discouraged when those around us, even people who love us, say… “you can’t do that,” or “I don’t know that that would be the best choice,” or “is that really where you think God is calling you?” You second guess yourself, and if you’re not completely confident in the power of the Lord, often you will give up that dream or desire.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). We are each given the Holy Spirit, with the same power…missionaries in foreign lands don’t have a special power, pastors don’t have a special power…we ALL have this power & can overcome the things of this world that fight against us in the spiritual realms. Luke 10:19 reminds us of the authority we’ve been given….”I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions (two terms used to describe evil spirits visible in people of that day)…and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Wow. That sounds powerful. AND WE HAVE THAT IN US! Right now! Wherever you are!

So why are we so afraid to step out in faith & do the things we know God wants us to do? Why are we so afraid to say what we want to say about our commitment to Christ? Why? Have you thought about it? Use that authority to overcome the words of other people, of the beliefs you hear, and to overcome even the words you put in your own mind to discourage you. You are given power through the Holy Spirit to go into the world & change lives…to set captives free! Be FREE in Christ, not captives in the world.

So remember the grasshopper….yes, you are small like him, and yes, we probably all whine like him too. BUT we are not able to be crushed like him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some of the Greatest People

These past few weeks, various conversations have been brought up in different circles, just about people of real substance, people who really stand up for conviction & have charisma like not so many in this world. It make me think about all the people I've known who've been like that. I don't think everyone knows people who are outstanding characters like this, but I've known quite a few!

Here are a few of the people I've been blessed to have in my life: My Grandpa & Grandma...both of them were so stinking cool. My grandpa had unwavering faith, and a quiet wisdom that came out when you needed it, and was witty at just the right times. My grandma was a bit more feisty, but when times were tough she always told me how we just need to trust in God. My great Aunt Helen, though her memory is now failing, is someone who for the most part I'd like to be like. When I was little, I'd stand in awe at her china cabinet full of trinkets from her travels all over the world. She was a photographer, a traveler, an adventurer & was stubborn. Ha. She never had children of her own, but always made us feel special whenever we'd visit.

Some of my friends have shown me how to stand up against discrimination, for doctrine, with dignity, and through death. These are the people you want to speak into your life, the ones who apologetically live out a real faith, fully relying on God & open enough to share when they haven't. Strong enough to admit defeat & humble enough to recognize others' victories. If I could make one thing certain for you, it would be salvation, if I could ask for another, it'd be that you have someone to admire as a real life liver of the gospel & faith.

I hope that one day I can be that to someone. And may you too one day be in someone's "greatest people" list!

Toes touching the water

On a trip recently, I walked to the middle of a river, on a rock path. I found a perfect sitting rock, took my sandals off, rolled up my jeans and put my feet in. The water was running fast all around me, pulling at the rock that wouldn't move, urging it to flow downstream, yet it held its course. I sat there with my toes underwater, feeling the power of the water and I almost cried. It's been so long since I've done anything that has scared me, or challenged me in a way that I don't want to face. I don't know if that's either good or bad...or neither, but it intrigued me. There I sat, having said earlier how I don't really enjoy rivers as much anymore....and with the water pouring down around my feet, I enjoyed it. I felt the power and the surge, and wanted nothing more than to lay back against that rock, and stay there in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. I wasn't afraid, I wasn't sad...I was calm.

It's interesting to find those things that sometimes scare us, or give us bad memories, and try to overcome those thoughts. I wasn't really setting out that day to do something I didn't want to, but once I was there, it was something that called me from within...just go, don't let it hold you back, don't take for granted the beauty of the rushing water. It brings God joy to see us enjoy His creation, rather than locking ourselves inside, while being too afraid of what might happen.

This was originally written in June....but just published today. Hope it met you today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being held

I haven't always felt it, but I'm starting to today. Plates are falling...the one's I've been trying to balance, and it's making me quite nervous & irritated. The loud commotion that I can't quite seem to calm, stirs my insides in a way that can't be silenced. But today, I was given a gift of being held. In prayer, in though & in loving touch.

Something I've noticed this year, is how much touch is a form of love for me. Just having someone put their hand on my shoulder, or to bump knees with someone, or to just be held in a longer than normal embrace. It does something to that back & forth feeling within me, that I can't quite explain. Today, someone reminded me of us resting in God's hand...with His touch, holding us. Gently. Tenderly. Firmly. Not letting go. I loved that. Some days I just wish that someone would just come along & hold me. I can't always ask for it, I just want it to happen. And today, I remembered that when I don't get that in human form, I'll always get it and AM having that from my heavenly Father.

He's holding me, giving me a kind of rest that is not human, that is not the same as sleep, but more closely resembles peace within my soul. A gentle caressing of the spirit that will settle my deep restlessness. To rest, open & unafraid in His large hands is beautiful. A song I played this week gave me this peace too...

I am tired and weary, but I must toil on
Till the Lord comes to call me away,
Where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light,
And the night is as fair as the day.

There'll be peace in the valley for me someway,
There'll be peace in the valley for me.
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be,
There'll be peace in the valley for me.

There the flow'rs will be blooming,
the grass will be green,
And the skies will be clear and serene,
The sun ever shines, giving one endless beam
And no clouds there will ever be seen.

There the bear will be gentle, the wolf will be tame,
And the lion will lay down by the lamb,
The host from the wild will be lead by a Child,
I'll be changed from the creature I am.

No headaches or heartaches or misunderstands,
No confusion or troubles won't be
No frowns to defile, just a big endless smile
There'll be peace and contentment for me.

There'll be peace in the valley for me someway,
There'll be peace in the valley for me.
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be,
There'll be peace in the valley for me. ---Thomas Dorsey, "Peace in the Valley"

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I’m tired. Seriously. Tired. Some days, no matter what the day is like, it’s like….I have unexplainable energy, pushing me onwards, into new undiscovered depths of the universe…(please read that in a sci-fi narrator voice)…and other days, though I feel the Lord in me & around me, I just am tired. That’s what I get so thankful in knowing that I don’t have to do this life alone. I don’t have to worry alone, or really at all. I can leave things in His hands & know that what will be will be. It’s draining to have so many things come at you….and to keep going. Not pretending your okay, but knowing deep down that you WILL be…it’s just a matter of choosing that, and trusting that God will work things out.

I’m a planner. If you know me well, or at all, you know this to be absolutely true. I like to know what is going to happen, how, why & when…I’m also quite spontaneous & like things that are, yet most of the time my default is: planner. When things surprise me,…my first reaction is always to…okay, well let’s keep going as is, and deal with the real problem later, when we know more definitives. It’s been my way of dealing since I was little. I quite specifically remember a time that my dad accidentally killed….squashed….my cat. I was 3. When he told me very quietly that Snickers was dead, I jumped up with a big smile on my face & said…”I have to tell my friends & show them!” I ran over to my neighbor’s house, pulled my friends away from whatever they were doing, brought them over to ground zero & pointed so proudly. I said “Look! My cat’s…..” and with a quivering lip I couldn’t finish the sentence. It hit me then that it was real, not just something that happened, but something final.

Looking over other events in my life where I’ve been hit with scary or tough news, I’ve done the same thing. I go about my business because I know, I KNOW that there’s nothing really in my power to do but to live, and keep on living. But it gets to be tiring…just going about life, not knowing, and trying not to worry. Keeping my face turning up towards God, with all my questions & requests, Trying my best not to fall into a gap of hopelessness, but keeping my faith & strength about me. When I am tired, He will sustain me. When I need rest, He will take over.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A life in the morning

Driving into work this morning, I watched as the beaming red sun woke the world from behind the edge of the earth. It shone so bright and crisp. The way it hit all the trees, the homes & sparkled off the lake made everything look brand new. All being kissed for the first time, all over again. Each morning, this happens. It's a new day, a new beginning. If you watch, you can see the trees speak it, in the way they reflect the light, peeking through the leaves & down their branches. The grass stands in attention waiting to be brought into the warmth.

It occurred to me how every day, we see these things as new, fresh, with a brand new perspective from the day before. Each day, we learn, we live, we experience, we grow...and each day, we awake new, fresh, changed somehow yet still the same. We are the same people, just like the trees are the same trees day to day, yet each morning we see them in the sun & they look new.

It made me wonder how I can take the things I do day to day, and see the new perspective Christ can bring. He's like the sun in the mornings, creating such beautiful light that things look new & fresh....he can renew our mind like that and bring us to a peaceful start of the day, looking at things with his grand & divine perspective.

What will tomorrow bring? The night air sags, it hangs pensive...just waiting to be cleared, to be pushed away & the freedom of morning to bring redemption to the day. Will you be there? Will you wait for the morning? Will you live your life in the morning & not in the shadows? Pray that God will bring this new day, bursting forth with radiance.....not only in the sky, but in our hearts.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leaving Shortly....

Buna Dimineata! Good Morning!
Thank you for all of your support over the past few years, while learning, serving, working & growing in Romania. You have been part of this from the beginning, some of you even since my brother was first adopted from Romania back in 1992! Well once again, myself & 5 others (including my brother), will be traveling to Romania to work with Gypsies, Un-wed mothers, Elderly & Street Children.
Many things here have seemed to keep us from going back, but finally God miraculously lined everything up for us to GO. Since my brother’s adoption, the Romanian people have laid heavy on my heart, and being able to bring other people into what God is already doing there is wonderful. Even YOU are being brought into this ministry, serving with prayer, encouragement & some of you by giving.
These are things we would ask prayer for—
--Open hearts: May OUR hearts be open to seeing God already at work in Romania, and how He would work through us to share HIS love.
--Flexibility: Things in Romania have a tendency to change…pray that we’ll “go with it” and follow where God takes us.
--Teamwork: Pray that we can complement each other and use each of our individual gifts to support one another.
--Rest: We will be working in extremely draining emotional situations, pray that we are able to find physical as well as mental rest so we can operate with full steam!
--Compassion: Some of the people we’ll be serving are hardened people, we need to have compassionate hearts to persevere & have persistent love.

I have been miraculously blessed to have raised all of the financial support that I need, however some of my team members are still a few hundred short. We are leaving August 26th and will be in Romania for 10 days. If you would like to help financially at all, please write a check to Northridge Fellowship-Romanian Mission & mail to Northridge Fellowship, P. O. Box 544 Rogers, MN 55374.

I would love to talk with any of you about this further, either over coffee or a meal. There are so many ways to get involved, so please remember each of us as you pray during our time in Romania. You will surely be doing battle for us!
Thank you for partnering and God bless!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just a few thoughts...

This morning, I woke up to a partly sunny day, still waking up itself. The birds were quiet, but making preparations for the days business. My neighborhood was rather quiet also, a peaceful air was all about. It was a good morning. Not to mention, it’s my birthday, so when I stepped downstairs, I was greeted with the smells of Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake (Thanks again Renee), and a BEAUTIFUL painted card (Thanks Lisa). It made me smile.

Now I’m 25. Does that make me grown? Probably…..probably more in 5 years, but for now 25 is enough. My parents harmonized the birthday song on the phone this morning, and I was impressed…they responded “yeah, it’s just one thing you learn to do over 25 years.” Which made me think about what are some of the things I’ve learned in these 25 years? So here are a few thoughts….

You really shouldn’t chase a foal from behind….especially when your mouth is within kicking distance.
Ice Cream tastes really good when it’s stirred.
The best way to warm up your feet after playing in the snow, is to hop on the couch, cover up with two blankets & stick your feet under five pillows…..while drinking hot chocolate.
A person should always bring an extra shirt along when wearing a white shirt…you just never know what could happen.
You can never leave the air conditioning on too high when you have a pet nute…and then when he’s frozen, you should never use a desk lamp to “reheat” him…it ends in death.
Carnations will eventually remind you of gas stations.
Black socks make small feet look retarded…..and that is why I despise them.
There are just some things that you want to do by yourself…and no matter how awkward it is to tell people you don’t want them around, it’s worth it.
Walking around a lake at 2am on a clear starry night is the best way to enjoy it!
You might not want to dress up your little brothers in dresses & makeup….they may live to resent you.
Blogging is a really fun & easy way to process & get thoughts out of your mind.
Being surprised by perennial lilies in your garden is a great thing.
Doing a random act of kindness is arguably more beneficial to you than for the person receiving.
Using a Kleenex while crying really does make you look old….however, it’s much more effective than your hand.
Movies should be enjoyed outdoors.
EVERYTING should be enjoyed outdoors.
Parents are brilliant…..but can’t be told that too quickly or they’ll get the big head.
Always listen before you speak, and remember you don’t always have to speak.
You have to be a friend to make a friend.
Try really really hard for things, and if you give up, remember why….and learn from it.
If you feel a strong pull on your insides to say something to someone and it seems absurd, it might be the Holy Spirit……say a 5 second prayer, say something, and see what happens.
If you have a tendency of rocking out in your car, pay attention to the people watching you…..it might be embarrassing.
When you try to jump off of a boat, make sure you don’t land on the edge…or worse.
Notice the people in your neighborhood, and appreciate the varied cultures, languages & styles.
Learning a little bit of a language can take you a long way.
Be nice to everyone.
Angels are real.
There is not many things better than laying out on a blanket, with a good book (or not) and just enjoying the sun, lake, trees, sky, clouds, people, grass, butterflies, birds, waves, boats, ducks….
Life is better when enjoyed & not critiqued constantly.
You should always keep an open mind when traveling abroad, and don’t be afraid to climb a fence.
It’s always more fun to get lost than stick solidly to a map. (If you have the time.)

….and finally, one thing I’ve learned over the last 25 years, is to really appreciate the friends & family that are so dear to me. You are all so wonderful, and I hope to learn more things from you in all of my days/months/years to come. And I know this list was a bunch of “crap” but hopefully someday you might be able to learn something from me in return! Happy Birthday to me, and thank you to all of you who helped make it a special day!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

a story of hers

I had a brief thought today, a sweet one, of my grandma & I talking. She was talking, and suddenly stood up & rushed into her room. She returned promptly with a pile of loose papers. Some notebook sheets & some plain white. On it were scribbles, paragraphs, crossed out sections, arrows & lots of exclamation points and parenthesis. My grandma held it out to me, and sat down. She said "I've started my story for you...." She always knew just what I would love. So many days, we would sit together at her table, drinking Russian tea & buttering rhubarb bread, or eating chocolate chip zuchini cake, and talking.....talking about everything that would pass through our minds. (And being Dutch women, it could get pretty random.) She would tell me stories about when she was young, and growing up. Stories about the farm, and the men who would milk the cows. I'd ask her about cooking, or how to fix something. When I would get stuck with a recipe, I'd call my grandma first. I guess I figured I knew my mom would know the answer, but why not go straight to HER source?

Anyway, one day I remember talking with my grandma & asking her if she would write some of her stories down. She modestly told me that she didn't have anything interesting to say. I just laughed. Of course she had interesting things to say...she was my grandma! Needless to say, when she brought out that stack of papers of her stories & memories, I was touched...more than touched. I felt love. She was so wonderful. Always thinking of other people...and I was her favorite, so of course she's do that for me. (That's a joke in my family,....i'm not just conceited.) Those pages, her history & thoughts, the way she would explain what things were....gentle yet so matter of fact.

I'm reading a book now, called "For one more day" by Mitch Albom, and for a second, I thought....if I could have one more day with someone, it'd definitely be my grandma. I miss her incredibly. I wouldn't want to do anything extreme, just take off my shoes & sit indian style on her blue kitchen chairs. Pull up a cup of tea & listen. I could listen to her tell me stories for days. Her facial expressions were one in a million. Oh for one more day. Just one.

Fading out...and in

Is it odd when you suddenly realize that not so suddenly you've stopped doing things that are important to you? When you see your life in a perspective not seen for a while, or through a vision that you've lost sight of? What about when you remember the things you used to wait for, long for, savor moments of and you realize that you're not waiting for those things any more.

I'm not the only one...a cupbearer of the Pharoah's says what I feel like lately "Today I am reminded of my shortcomings...." (Genesis 41:9) When you keep going, and everything's "fine" and then you get a little jolt. Ha...you thought everything was fine, but look once again. Did you forget about me? I feel like a gentile when Paul wrote "I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:14-16)

I don't know what to compare a good reminder to....it's like one of those really great things, that you know is good for you, but you forget how much it hurts at the same time...it's like, 'Oh yeah! Thanks for reminding me....but ouch, did I really go there?'

Slowly fading in & out....up & down.....one shade to another and back again. I love what it tells us in Hebrews 10:32 "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering." This is exactly what I need to do. and as I ponder, "I remember your ancient laws, O Lord, and I find comfort in them." (Psalm 119:52)

Remind me Lord, of your great glory, your power, love & omnipotence. Remind me of your faithfulness, and how you satisfy my thirst. You are my Light...."Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun." (Eccl. 11:7)

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Ray of Hope

This morning, I was on my way to work & the sky looked dreary, almost angry...the clouds were shrouding the sky. The colors were various shades of gray & ....gray. But then as I drove, I noticed a spot, small at first and then I noticed it more and more...this opening amidst the clouds. Clear blue sky shone through. In the middle of this expansive gray mess, was this beautiful section of crystal sky! How gorgeous I thought. Right here is hope that today might actually turn out okay.

I had woken up feeling a little off, as I had a dream that brought up memories I wasn't prepared to think about. It made me think about the hope that we have in the Lord...that someday, things will be better. I can tell you that recently I've felt "good" about where I'm at spiritually, which made me a little cautious because that's not always a good sign... it was clear to me then, that I had been slipping into a state of "okay-ness," not really pushing the envelope with my faith or hope. Then I read Psalm 131:3, which says "O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now & forevermore." It was like....hello....your faith & hope can't just be one day & not the next. It needs to be always, even when it's rough outside, or even when you're facing your past. I was also encouraged by the passage "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:24) I was encouraged to just keep on.

But where do I look? Apparently the same question was in David's mind too when he wrote "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." (Psalm 39:7) I thought about the clouds, and how it looked so dead....except for that one spot. I needed to look for that spot, and when I found it, it was bright, clear & promising. I knew there was hope. It wasn't contingent on me finding it, but was there anyway. It was there waiting. Steady & secure...above all the troubles the clouds were mimicking. On my drive, I prayed something similar to Romans 15:13 where it says "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

So as "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." (Psalm 130:5)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A fork in the Road

Alright, I just HAD to share this story I read last night... An older man "the Sage" and a young boy were walking through the woods. These were woods that were WAY out in the middle of untouched land. They followed a footpath that had been worn down & when they were completely immersed in the woods, the path split into three directions. The two men stopped & wondered which way would take them to the waterfalls they were seeking. The Sage asked the boy which he would take, if only one would lead them to the falls. The boy didn't know, because none of the paths were marked and said if he chose one, he'd be worried the whole time that he had chosen the wrong path. Then the Sage posed the question...what if all three paths led to the falls, then which would you choose?

That's how the story ended....them deciding which path to choose. I'm not completely through the whole thought of this chapter, but basically.....it's about us, on our walk with God. Sometimes we have choices in front of us, that aren't marked. All three look good, all three unknown paths.... It's hard to choose if you think that only one path is the "correct" one. But if God is so good, and big, can't he direct us all to where He wants us to go, no matter the choices we make?

If we take too much time trying to figure out what God's will is for our life....what path he wants us to take...we will bog ourselves down with "stuff" instead of just DOING what God's will is, and that's to love God & love people. He can you use wherever, whatever your choices, whichever your path. Are we DOING God's will right now? Or are we just THINKING about what He wants us to do?

Monday, May 18, 2009


You know, I’ve been told to grow where you’re planted….find out why God has you wherever you are…just go with it. And I’m trying, I really am. It’s hard though, when some days you yearn for so much more. You see a window opening, and when you try to go through, you find out it’s just REALLY clean glass…it’s not open for you. Sorry. Finding purpose in where you are, is so difficult. Why am I here, and not there. Why is this person my friend instead of someone else? Where can I feel so needed in some place, and such a good fit, and then not be allowed in?

I know that God’s purposes are so much greater & better than any that I could come up with….but greater & better also might suggest that they’re more complicated & intricate, meaning they have more possibilities of being not just GOOD but also DIFFICULT. Interweaving desires, gifts, locations, social community & situations….they all come together in some great purpose that I don’t understand. It probably won’t make sense to me either….until it’s done.

But sometimes, it’s like…you pray for something, and then when that prayer is answered, but not the way you wanted it to be, it’s like DARN! I didn’t want THAT. …like when in NY I prayed for humility….and left in a really bad way, that made me say…. “yep, I don’t always know what’s right.” And now, I’m praying for God to use me….and then get a door shut in one area, and realize that He probably saying… “I want to use you HERE, not THERE.” Sick. It makes me sad, …and I think that’s okay. I can be sad for a bit, as long as I hold on to the understanding that I can’t give up. Now, it just means that I need to renew my focus of trying to bless people in every situation….whether the circumstances are happy or sad. Nothing can be better than what God has for us…yet there are probably some things that would be more fun. Until then…I’ll just keep trusting that I’m here for a purpose….

To wrap up, here’s a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Romania? Part 2

So what really is going on in my mind about all this? Well, recently, I've been challenged here and there, by "random" people who've taken risks & steps forward in their calling, despite the circumstances that surround them. Some of the risks are going out even when the money isn't all there, or going to an unknown land without knowing the language, or making choices on what to stay home for or what to miss. It all comes down to what they value. What values more...financial security or trusting God's provision? What values more...cultural know-how or hoping God will bring you just the right words? What values more...your social life or trusting that God might have another person He wants you to be with that day?

What matters to me, admittedly more on some days than others, is just how much God has blessed me, and how I can give away what I've been given. In my life, I have been given two parents who love me & care for me, four siblings from two completely different worlds & situations, a home that I can call my own, food to fill my fridge (and some that even rots), I've been raised in a family that is built on a strong Biblical foundation, and I've been blessed with people who've taught me the value of working hard and praying harder. And how will any of this matter unless it benefits someone else? If it ends with me, then it is truly wasted. It's like an inheritance...unless there is an heir, what is the point to all the billions upon billions that one has saved or acquired? Who will it go to once the person is gone?

I want my earthly inheritance to be spent before it's stockpiled...I hope to give it away, and to bless those who may never be encouraged to take a step of faith into a life they never dreamed of. In Psalms 68, it talks about putting the lonely in families. Well, I've been given a family, but others have not. They are the lonely, and they can be part of our family...my family...God's family. The love, care & provision that I have been blessed with all my life, can be someone else's if you or I care enough to share it with them. Sharing not only the practical things like food, shelter, & water, but God's blessings of love, acceptance, forgiveness & encouragement.

Wherever I go, whoever I become, this is the person I want to be: I want to be someone who serves others, who cares about the people who are rejected from society, who is involved with missions, who goes wherever I’m needed to so I can meet a need, who seeks God first, who is unashamedly Christian, who gives all that I am to love on people & listen to them when they need it.

This is why....and this is how it will happen...loving God & loving people.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Romania? Part 1

Someone recently asked, “If you’ve had the same dream for 15 years, what are you still doing here?” If got me thinking, and so here I am, writing about what my heart yearns for, and how I hope to begin the process of “getting there.” Growing up, I was a pastor’s kid…expected to be nice to people, to love & care for those around me. I learned that well, but also took it to heart that it is a critical part of this whole “Christian walk” thing…to love others truly & deeply. I watched this love manifest itself through my parents, as they worked & prayed seemingly endless hours to bring my brother home from Romania. Though such a small country, the need was great and the frustrations overflowing. Children were left to die on carts, abandoned after birth by people who only wanted a child for a tax credit. Whatever the consequence, these babies were given no choice in the matter & abandoned to a desolate future. As I watched this scene unfold, knowing at six years old that my brother was just one of hundreds upon thousands of these, it struck me hard. When the outlook was grim, our family drew together, and pressed on, knowing that only a miracle of God could keep things going and bring hope to such a child. Through two long years, this hope & faith in an unseen God was something I learned to lean on. When my brother finally came to us, it was simply amazing. He was such a curious child, imaginative, loving and deeply sensitive toward others. There was so much behind his frail frame. To think that he could have easily gone without a future, to be left on that cart, and have not known the love of a family or hope of a future. I thought about this, and how many others were still there, untouched and uncared for. Forgotten. Many were saved, but many more were not. What happened to the few that lived through the isolated torture? I learned the answer. On one of the times my parents had driven through the pot-holed streets of a Romanian city, past the gray gated orphanages, they saw the answer. Through rain streaked windows, they noticed a girl, young and crying; begging to be let into the gate, in the confines of the orphanage. Asking about this scene, their driver explained that when the children reach a certain age, the orphanage no longer keeps them. They’re out on their own, given only what is on their back. No money, no skills, no food and no direction. Without a clue, most of these children are left the gutters for homes, and glue for sustenance. Over half are raped the first night out, and with boys anxious to prove themselves on the street, a gang gives much needed acceptance. If only they were given some place to go, taught how to live life, and encouraged to believe in a God that would bring hope & forgiveness. People could help them; teach young girls how to cook, how to take care of a house, how to sew and how to take care of themselves. It would be neat if the people to teach them could be Romanians; teaching the girls the customs of their heritage, showing them the love of Christ through simple care and respect. This became my vision. I decided that if no one else would do this, I would. And my dream expanded to include abandoned babies…before they get to the spot these young girls did. The girls would learn love, in loving & caring for babies also abandoned by their mothers and fathers.

Sometimes I think that this vision & passion was concocted through my own imaginings, yet most days I believe that the experiences thrown at me as a child, and the things that I was exposed to, were put there for a reason bigger than my mind could ever come up with on its own. Why would a child at such a young age care so much, and be impacted so much without fully understanding the scope of the issue? Why would a dream and passion last with a person for fifteen years, unless God was somehow putting those yearnings inside their heart? Throughout the past seven years, I’ve been blessed to travel to Romania four times, seeing miracles, meeting missionaries, being loved on by orphans and talking with women who used to live on the same streets we were walking on. Seeing both transformation & regression of these women and the children they bore, emboldened me to just keep going back. Not always knowing the purpose of why I went, but trusting that God would use me where He knew it was necessary. One of these experiences came through a lady named Gina. She was the mother of three boys. The youngest was still a baby, and had been the target of many health problems since birth. One evening, Gina started to spoon feed the baby, but when the feverish baby wouldn’t take the food, Gina got angry and dumped the bowl of oatmeal all over the child and started screaming at the child that he could die and she wouldn’t care. The child started crying so hard I thought he would stop breathing. His temperature increased, and it looked dangerous. Because of his previous & ongoing health conditions, we urged Gina to take him into the clinic to be checked. She refused, replying that she wanted him to die and that she never wanted to see him again. She would allow him to die before she would take him to the doctor. After much pleading and stubbornness on the missionary’s part, Gina angrily agreed to go with us to the clinic. In the back seat, Gina stared angrily out the window while she held the babe tightly to her, keeping him quiet. Once we got Gina inside the clinic, myself and two of the missionaries sat in the waiting room, praying fervently that the child would be okay and that Gina would gain a sense of compassion for him. After a few hours of waiting, Gina emerged, obviously softened to the baby’s situation. She was armed with medicine and a quiet demeanor. Things didn’t turn around completely, but just seeing the broad spectrum of emotions, intentions and conviction in those few hours really showed me how this work can be done. That night, I had no plans to go to the clinic, to be in prayer for so long, but I was just trying to be open. It taught me so much of how God uses us, if we are only open to what might happen around us.

So much has happened during those short excursions that every time I leave, I long to turn around immediately and return. God feels so real to me there, not just because of the location, but I believe because of the heart of the people. They teach me such simplicity, a plainness that is hard to comprehend in a society like ours. There, it is just love. Christ is simple. He’s not some grand scheme, a huge manufactured lifestyle, or a fad, He just is. Meeting the people with a bag of groceries & a listening ear will speak to them. Taking time to read with them, or teach that child how to read for their self is too practical we might think, but it’s not. So many times people have counted them as un-teachable, or not worth the effort. Simply showing them that they matter….to you and more importantly to God, does more than millions and millions of well-intentioned dollars could ever do. Being allowed to be there with them, does cost money, it’s true, but the act of loving costs nothing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Resurrection...Baptism....repentance. Wow...today, I was really hit by a few things. 1. How fun family can be, especially when you are learning funny new things about each other, and are okay to be embarrassed around them. 2. Pineapple stuffing is too amazing for words...but when you eat so much you can't speak, it's probably too much. 3. Jesus isn't the only one who is resurrected today....we all are, or can be with Him!

I was driving to church this morning, half scared to go in because of the lilies, but as I drove, I listened to a song about resurrection, and about life....and as I drove it reminded me of how we all as people, have to die in order to live. To be resurrected, as it were, to have a new life in Christ. The old goes away...we throw it off, are buried & drowned...and the new comes in, we're renewed & harvested. How wonderful it is, to know that we are no longer the person we used to be, but have a new beginning, a clean slate, a fresh start. Like little seeds planted in the ground, the seed must die for a new plant to grow! It's like us....when we were ignorant to the grace of God, we lived for ourselves & though we may have done "good" in the eyes of the world, ultimately there was no purpose, no end goal that we could strive for, except for pleasure in ourselves & our works. Now, through the ultimate sacrifice of God's death & divine miracle of His resurrection, we have a hope of something else. We have something to live for, some one who died for us, and now we can live a new life, dedicated to honoring Him for the gift he's given us....freedom, forgiveness, faithfulness, fullness of life, a fearless way to live.

Part of this also, got me when I saw this old couple driving past me on the road. I looked at them & smiled. How sweet are they, I thought, driving probably to a daughter or son's home for Easter. Probably going to see grand-kids & maybe great grandchildren too. I thought immediately about my own grandma, that wouldn't be with us today. I started to cry, and then in my missing her, I rejoiced. She was celebrating Christ's resurrection, with the Living God Himself!! She saw it complete circle, seeing it as we here on earth can only try to comprehend. She KNOWS the Living God, face to face, as we can, but even more so....she sees him fully, complete, ...what that must be like, to know the power of resurrection in a complete way like she is right now, living a new life, not something we know, but better & fuller & made more alive than she ever was before she died.

I miss my grandma so much....and I know that the disciples missed their friend so much too, but how great is it that we can have hope of seeing them again, in our resurrected bodies, with the resurrected Lord?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


If you've seen my status the last few days, you may have wondered what my battlestations I was manning. Well, let me tell you a little bit of history, and then what recently I was fighting so strongly against.

A few years ago, living in NY, I was awakened to the human trafficking & underground prostitution happening right on my streets & in my community. Someone I met through church, actually lived in the same building as a brothel. I started having dreams of seeing women crying out for help, and when I'd go to get others to come help me save them, no one would come. I would then (in my dream) get frustrated & just go to help them myself. Over the next few months & year, I was drawn to books telling of the horrors of human trafficking & prostitution, and the plight of young women who are captured into this trade. There was even a small child who I had met in Romania, who suddenly was in the grasp of being sold into mob prostitution at the age of 4! God saved her from this, but the fact that it was the intent of people in power to do this to such an innocent child broke my heart.

Last fall, I was introduced to a group in Saint Paul, that go directly to women who are stuck on the streets, surviving in this trade, and gives them hope of a rescue. They provide housing, counseling, rehab & discipleship. The men who solicit these services also are taught the affect their activity has on the woman's life & soul. It's a comprehensive, in-depth ministry.

Last week, they let us know that a club in Minneapolis, Karma, was hosting a "Cross County Pimpin Bash". You probably won't believe what I'm about to say, but they actually planned to show training videos to guys, on how to control women, how to dress them, how to get them into the business, etc. **insert shocked silence** ....yeah, for real. This was also going to be a recruiting night to try & get girls into prostitution. Can we say illegal? So, they had a protest, outside the club (you know I'm always looking to be out loud about stuff), and I went with some friends. There was probably about 40 people there, and we just talked to people on the street, held signs & did some loud shouting, and lots of praying...it was an experience. I think in the two hours that we were there, only four people still decided to go in! Wow. Even the bouncers were telling people that they might as well not come in, because it wasn't worth it, no one was there!

We also saw the pimps who were putting this on, and who had made the videos...and they were videotaping US! I was a little unnerved by this...who knows what they'll use it for. We did get a few opportunities to talk to them though, and also to some of the bouncers working the door. They, as well as many other cab drivers, locals & various others, were taking the time to read our signs, ask questions & think about what was going on. God really used this as an opportunity to tell people what is really going on in our communities!

This is real people, don't be naive & think that this stuff only happens in the BIG cities like Las Vegas, LA & New York...it's big HERE, and whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, it's a huge problem, and cuff that is holding our city captive. We must pray that Satan would loose his grip on the women & men that have been trapped in this lie.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Our eyes are on You

We know not what to do, but our eyes are on you." (2 Chronicles 20:12) It's true, do we really know what we're doing?  What is this mission we're on?  Keep our eyes on Jesus. When we don't know what to do, where are we supposed to look?  To HIM.  The author & perfecter of our life.  

Many times, things come into our life, and we count them as coincidence.  We ask why they happened, or blow them off like it doesn't mean anything....but what if it SHOULD mean something?  I sometimes go through life, noticing some things and not others, or maybe paying attention to things that are big, and not noticing the seemingly insignificant happenings of my daily life.  But those things can and ARE used by God to shape us and mold us.  We as a person might be confused by the events of our lives, but God seeks to use those, in growing us into the person He's designed us to be! 

So here's a thought from Jerry Sittser "God, too, is an artist, but the materials for his works of art are not marble or canvas but flesh and blood. We are the ones he wants to shape into beautiful creatures. He, like any artist, sees what ought to be in us and chips away at everything that keeps us from it. That is the essence of God's grace for discipleship, his initiative."

Don't you sometimes feel that God is involved, but kinda observing to a point what is happening?  I do sometimes.  I forget that He takes initiative in putting this or that in our way, to help us...maybe not what we would consider helping, but more...to form us, give us opportunities to grow perhaps?  Think about this quote from E. Stanley Jones, "Don't bear trouble, use it....Take whatever happens--justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism--take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into a testimony. Don't explain evil; exploit it; make it serve you."

Hm...puts a new vision out there, doesn't it?  So when we don't know what to do, or when we don't understand what's going on, we're to look to God....but also, as Sittser goes on to suggest, we should keep one eye also on what God is doing IN us, not just around us.  What are we supposed to take from this situation?  Who are we supposed to become?  Why are we here and not somewhere else?  

Let's look together, at the days we have here, there, wherever, and think together.....am I supposed to be learning something here?  If you're answer is yes (which it probably should be...) then what is it that I'm supposed to see?  Seek God, and He'll reveal that to you....individually.  It might not come right away, that's why we're to seek HIM.  So...go for it!