Today Kira is part of a church launch. Is this not what we hope for? Our children to fly? I am so proud of her..her compassionate heart, the way she makes a grey sky blue, her unending love and grace, and the list goes on.

As she is flying, I am falling. Falling into words I was never meant to hear. Falling into my own tears. I should be flying. I need to close my eyes and fall into the arms that made me. I need to fall into the words He wants me to hear. I need to fall into His love and grace. Because only then, I can fly.

My Rwanda Flip Flops

imageToday I found these. I smiled and cried. Some of you may see these and do an eyeroll. They are worn, plain, and maybe even boring., and what would these flip flops have to offer?These are my Rwanda flip flops. They have traveled with me three times to Rwanda.

They were stuffed in a suitcase waiting to be released.They are stained with red clay Rwandan soil. They have walked dusty roads in villages and played on school grounds. They have served food and served people. They helped me create a cement brick, and help build ( a small portion) of a brick wall. They have been in homes the size of my bathroom, and homes that were  physically collapsing around families. They have seen hunger and sickness, and death.   They have gone back to my  room with me at night, while I laid on the bed, under a mosquito net, and cried at injustice.

These flip flops were the first thing to be released from my suitcase, because they were home. They love the red clay, dusty roads, and the beauty of the land of a thousand hills- Rwanda.They loved the simplicity of the villages, and the smiles of the children on the school grounds. They were fine being laughed at by parents who wondered why I would chose to wear them to build a brick wall. They felt the love inside these tiny homes, and remember the beautiful people they met. They were with me when hugging women and laughing with children.  They knew that God had those sick and hungry people in His hands, and He sees them and cares deeply for them. These flip flops would be with me to praise Jesus at New Life Bible Church.

Have you ever felt like you were stuffed in a suitcase, waiting to be released? Have you ever felt worn, worn out, plain, boring,  or that you have nothing to offer? Have you cried or felt like crying because of injustice, or maybe injustice that was done to you? Perhaps it is all of the above. Perhaps you cannot see the dusty road ever ending, or beautiful rolling hills ever appearing. Perhaps you feel like your home or your life is collapsing around you, and there is no hope.

God wants you to find your flip flops. He wants to walk along side you down that dusty road, wipe your tears, and whisper to you, ” I love you. You may feel worn, but I will give you life. You may feel plain or boring, but you are beautiful because I made you. You may feel like you have nothing to offer. Please stop comparing yourself and trying to be something I did not create you to be. Offer yourself to me, and you will feel complete. ”

You will be released from your suitcase. You will see and feel joy and love. You will embrace the gifts He gave you, and shine bright. Your flip flops will carry you to the beautiful rolling hills.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me, will never walk in darkness, but will always have the light of life.” John 8:12

 

Mysteries and Values

Today I woke up and it was a bad day. I have been diagnosed with Neuropathy( nerve damage). I have pain from my feet to above my knees. Some days are better than others. On the bad days, the pain is frustrating. I want to stay in bed, cover my head, and cry.

Today, I began praying to God, and tell Him I was frustrated, not just because of the pain, but because of things I cannot do, things that are limited, or limited in time.

i prayed for a word:

Confinement

I told Him I feel confined in my physical limitations.

I feel confined in my head, that because of this, I cannot do some basic things.

I feel confined because I feel weak and sometimes useless.

I began to complain about all the things that are difficult, and make me feel weak and lame.

One of these, is that my house and yard need are not how I want them to look-disarrayed.

God said, “Your heart and mind are disarrayed.”

-Your strength is mine. Ask for it.

-You forget I am holding you. Embrace it.

-You are placing your value on what you used to do, and not what you can do right now, through me. You have gifts- use them.

YOU ARE VALUED

-You are my daughter

– I  created you

– Stop mental thoughts of of limitations. You are creative-use it.

They are calling this a “Medical Mystery.” Several doctors ran over 100 tests, and could not find a reason for this.

Ok, I love mysteries. I have a classic collection of Nancy Drew And Hardy Boys hardcover books. I love puzzles and anything that moves my brain to unravel something.  I love watching Criminal Minds and Law and Order, books by mystery authors, and games that require solving a puzzle.

I am frustated when any of the aboved puzzles cannot be solved.

My nurse( of 20 years in her profession), told me she had not seen that many vials of blood.

I do not know how much blood was taken from my body, but I do know this:

THE BLOOD OF JESUS

-was more pain thn I can compare to mine

– He gave it to give everyone life and value in who God created us to be

Tonight, our family was in the living room. It turned dark with time. My daughter randomly turned on a small light that illuminated her face for a moment. I told her she was a portrait.

I believe the mystery to be unraveled is that God wants each of us to know that we are all special, unique, and valued by his artisic design. We just need to embrace His art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brick Upon Brick

Today our team took on the adventure to travel to Kayonza, Rwanda, where we would be assisting to help build a brick wall around the New Life Christian Academy campus. The bricks had been purchased, and the parents of the school have volunteered to build the wall. We were coming alongside them for the  day to help.

This day was a great example that God does not call the equipped, but He equips those who are called. We were given some tools, introduced to the parent workers, and were left to build The Great Wall of Kayonza. None of the parents spoke English. We each were pointed to an area to work. We all stared at each other like a deer in headlights, as we had never built a wall before. I am certain for a moment each of us were wondering why on earth we ever thought this would be a good idea, as well as the parents were probably wondering why on earth they were sent a group of unskilled white people to hand build a brick wall.

After receiving our job assignments,  it became clearly apparent that we were new at this type of work.  We heard the word “no” several times, or someone would politely take our tool and redo our work. We were impressed by how careful and precise the parents were about this creation. After about 15 minutes, one of the parents shouted something to the other workers. We were then each given a slow lesson on how to precisely do each job.  Soon we began to get smiles of confirmation that our work was up to their high standards. I believe there was a heart connection, and realization that we were there to help.

After about 20 minutes, we were working like a well oiled machine with interacting moving parts. We traded jobs that included fetching and pouring cement, carrying bricks, layering cement, laying bricks, and fetching water. The hot day began to fill with laughter and encouragement. The parents began to point to things to learn the English words for  them, and we attempted to do the same in Kinyarwandan.

We closed the day with hugs, a team photo, high- fives, and great memories. As we were leaving, my work partner, John, shouted to me the words he had learned, ” Tennis shoe, hat, brick, Good Job.”

Brick upon brick, a solid wall of teamwork, love, and respect was built.

Buried Dreams Sprouting New Life

I am back at my heart place in the Land of A Thousand Hills. Today we traveled to the community of Kayonza, where I was able to visit our sponsored girl, Valentine.

Last year I wrote about my visit with her. Valentine is like a daughter to me. She is beautiful in many ways, and her spirit is like a colorful firework display. When I sat across the table from her last Fall, my heart was broken as she began to tell me she no longer wanted to attend school. When asked what her plans were, she did not have any, and was perfectly content going back to her life of poverty.

Valentine has no parents. Her siblings did not want to care for her, so she had moved in with her grandmother, who could barely supply food  even once a week. Without encouragement from family around her, she had lost hope, and her dream of completing school and becoming a teacher was dying. Without words even being said, this was evident as her once glowing eyes, were now dim. I tried to speak words of love and encouragement, and at the same time, express my disappointment to her siblings in their lack of support. I left feeling heart broken and helpless. She had given up on herself, her life, and her dream.

I spent the year sometimes in tears, writing her letters and praying like crazy for God to speak to her heart. She tried to go back to school, and then three months later, received a note that she decided to leave, but was going to try a vocational beauty school.

Today i was able to visit he. She was taller, even more beautiful, and most importantly, the spark had returned to he eyes and her smile. We had two hours without a translator, but enjoyed hugs, holding hands, and laughing at secret things we do that we think are hysterical.

When we arrived at her home, I discovered that her sister had taken her in to live with her family. Valentine shared with me that she had three months left of beauty school, she loved it, and already had a few paying clients.  I asked her if she had goals for when she finished school, and she shared that she will look for a job in a salon, save money, and open up her own salon. She looked at me in full confidence and said, “When I began primary school, I wanted to be a teacher. When school got too hard, I became sad. Now I have a new dream to have my own salon and beauty school so I can teach other girls what I have learned, and they can have a new dream, too.”

Elohim-Yachai, The God of Hope, was clearly present. As we dove back to Kigali, the song ” Beautiful Things,” resonated through my head and heart. “He makes beautiful things out of dust. He makes beautiful things out of us.” He is and will forever make all things new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love for life, change, and my admissions of laziness

Please- if you have read some of my Rwanda blogs, please read on..even if you start reading, and think you may have read this, or just skip to the end:)

My first time to experience Rwanda was in 2009. I was excited, and felt so blessed to be on this trip, to serve in many ways, and one of these, was to bring food to a refugee camp in Kageyo, Rwanda. We set out on our 2 ½ hour van ride to the refugee camp, where the people desperately needed this gift. As we traveled out of the city and passed through the Land of a Thousand Hills, I was captivated by the country’s beauty, the lush land, it’s people, the desire to forgive and forget the sadness of the past, and the focus on the hope of rebuilding a nation, and the hearts of the people of Rwanda.
When we arrived, children and families ran out to greet us. The community leader had food organized according to their family’s need, and we were scooping rice, beans, and maize flour depending on the size of the family. The leaders from Kageyo knew what was coming and how much to allocate. My first family had 6 members. The amount of food in their bag was what my family of 3 would consume in a less than a week without meat, fruit, and vegetables. It broke my heart. I struggled to breathe with brokenness, prayed, and I fell in love with the joy of the people, and their heartfelt thankfulness , for what I felt, seemed like such a light gesture.
Hunger was obvious in empty eyes and swollen bellies. I knew God asked me to just play and love on the children, so I sucked up my tears again and embraced the joy they had over tossing balls and jump roping. I broke the rules of going back to the van to eat my lunch and encountered three beautiful children sitting near the van, and split up my lunch to share between all of them. They devoured it faster than my dog that is well fed twice a day. I fell asleep that night praying with giant tears rolling down my face that God would sustain them with food and a passion for Him.
Less than a year later, Africa New Life came into this community fully. They opened up child sponsorship, and began managing the school. The love of Jesus has provided children to be sponsored, a church to be built, clean water, and children and families to have hope for the future.
Children’s lives are being changed in five communities through Africa New Life Ministries by sponsorship, education, and learning about the love of Jesus. However, sponsorship may provide them with a lunch at school, which may be the only meal they receive each day.
Food gives life and hope. The lack of food takes hope, and often: LIFE. If you have not already visited the website, please visit http://www.foodisrwanda.org and consider giving.

The following is My Truth:

I knew this campaign was rolling out. I have been excited. I have been praying that friends that know my heart, and people I do not even know, would click on the link and feel inspired to give, to provide a meal for a child who needs it, to have a heart for hunger, for justice, and to love a human life they may never meet. and feel inspired to change a life.
As I changed my Facebook cover photo earlier today, I looked down on my “To do” list for the day. Tears fell and I had to admit that despite my passion and love, my selfishness or laziness became a priority. One of the things on my list was to clean out the refrigerator. I have to admit, I actually could not accomplish this task. I saw hungry faces, faces that smile despite their circumstances, and my own lazy face staring back at me through an empty spoiled container.
Although, I did not clean the refrigerator, I did look at what was wasted..a ¼ of a bag of spinach meant for smoothies or salad; three containers of just a bit of leftover dinners untouched; and random cut vegetables and fruits that did not get eaten or repurposed. I added up what was spent (although numbers are not my favorite, I can be a bit geeky with them for personal purposes). I could have written a check for 18 meals.

If you have not, please look at the video and the impact just even and .83 cent meal will make.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 23:40

Remembering Grace

Earlier today I was at the store and a man was shopping with three kids. One of the kids ran in front of me, bumped into me and fell. The man gruffly told me to watch where I was going. I apologized, but in my head I was thinking, “Who wasn’t watching where they were going?” A few minutes later the same little boy was wandering by himself. I asked him if I could take his hand and find his Dad, so we did. When we finally found him, he shortly thanked me and began scolding this little boy. One of the kids was whining they were hungry and the other one was grabbing things off the shelves and putting them into  the cart, and Dad was taking them out of the cart and putting them back. I could tell he was about to snap and asked if I could help him.

He looked at me funny and said, “What do you mean?” So I answered, “Well if you have a list, I could get the things, and you could take the kids to look at toys or tv’s or something. I’d offer to take them, but I am sure you don’t want to leave them with a stranger.” He swallowed hard, looked down  and said, “My wife died of cancer last month. I wish I realized how hard things like this were when she was alive. It’s obvious I am not great a multi-tasking with three kids.” I told him I was sorry, but I would like to help, to which he replied, ” I have a hard time accepting help, but today I will take it if you have the time.” He quickly made a list and I shopped.
When I went to check out, a cashier ran over to me, and said, “A gentleman pointed you out to me and he wanted you to have this.” She handed me a $25 Bath and Body Works Gift Card, and then said, ” He said to tell you thank you and this was one of his wife’s favorite stores. ”

This was just a reminder that things on the outside aren’t always what they appear: smiles and unpleasantness on the outside can be tears and pain on the inside. We all need to remember to have grace. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the day where we celebrate Jesus’ birth: the giver of unending grace.