27 September 2010

360 Days Later

It has been one year since my spinal surgery on 9/28/2009. Am I 100%? Not quite. Was it a success? Absolutely! A few weeks before my surgery I went out for lunch to a Chinese restaurant and found this in my fortune cookie:
"A bold and dashing adventure is in your future within the year."

I taped it to my monitor at work. A sign of hope for a better future. The months following surgery were rough. But God's mercy has wiped my memory of how bad the pain was. I remember sobbing at my first physical therapy appointment because of the agony, but I don't remember the pain. And that is a blessing. Getting a bionic back has meant a new lease on life. A world that seemed lost to me has been regained.
Consider this evidence:
A month before surgery I was introduced to the Wiggs and the Micah Project. Ten months after surgery - to the day - I arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for the first of many visits to come.

Last Thanksgiving my cousin Rebecca asked if I was still interested in missions. I told her that I was and in fact was thinking God is calling me to a group of street boys in Honduras. This Thanksgiving, I'll be with those boys! That in itself is wonderful, but being able to consider missions again is amazing.

In the spring, The Micah Project newsletter happened to mention that graduation would be November 13th. I put it on my calendar with a pipe dream of being in attendance. By the mysterious economy of God, that dream is going to come true.

Five months before I did the final injury to my back I completed my first half marathon. I thought it would also be my last. October 24th I'll walk/jog my second half and I'm on track to be at my fastest pace ever (which isn't saying much, I'm still pretty slow). And am planning on doing another half in December. I'm moving, I'm active, I've got my groove back!

As surgery was drawing ever closer my inability to cope with the possible negative outcomes were taking a toll. I started to see a counselor, which I have continued to see. It has been a year of bold growth personally.

Life is just better, it's good even. The nerve running down my right leg likes to occasionally freak out, a not so subtle reminder of what I dealt with constantly for years. But it isn't painful, just a nuisance. The vast majority of the time there is no pain. Not being in crippling chronic pain really changes my outlook. In the last year I've made some bold statements and dashing moves. Life has been interesting. But watch out world - I'm just getting started! God has been gracious, He has been mighty in my life and in my healing. All thanks and praise to Him!

24 September 2010

Conversion Conversations

Me: "Should I send you the training plan for a 10k this fall? What about "How to improve your marathon training?""

Jon: "No, way! Stop trying to convert me! You can talk about religion all you want, but stop trying to make me work out!"

21 September 2010

Love is a Many Splendored Thing

A couple weeks ago the group that went to Honduras did a Micah Team Report after the evening service. We watched the amazing video Jeremy created. After wards there was a 'townhall' style forum where people posed questions to the panel of Micah trip participants who alternated answering. We had a great time sharing about Micah and would have continued for hours more if allowed. The last question of the evening was, 'How has this experience impacted you personally and your faith?' I didn't share my thoughts that evening, but, if you'll indulge me, I will here.

The trip was a culmination of nearly a year of learning about the boys and the ministry. The story of the lives of each boy transformed from a two-dimensional list of factoids into a multi-dimensional spectra-colour person. The stories became alive and real, as if I had walked into my favorite novel and was able to interact with all my favorite characters. Actually, that is exactly what my first night felt like. As we walked into the Micah house and could take in the view, not limited by the border of a photo, and hear the boys talking and joking, I kept thinking - "This is so surreal! It's real, it's all real. The boys are real." The boys are indeed very real, and have made a significantly real impact in my life which can be summed up with one word - love.

Through their friendship my understanding of what it is to love one another has greatly expanded. But it reaches much further than that, my heart knowledge of the Father's love is so much richer for knowing these boys. Somehow in the process of learning to love the Micah boys simply because I am choosing to, I understanding in a new way how God loves me just because He wants to. It's a simple truth that has finally found its way from my head to my heart. And it has been so liberating.

God loves me just because He wants to. It isn't any inherent value of my own, not because of my potential and how I could be used, my accomplishments are not the reason; quite the contrary. If I were to be judged according to my own disposition and actions for my worthiness to be loved by the Sovereign God I would fall horribly short. For on my own I am rebellious and selfish, doing things the Lord despises. That is why God's love is so amazing! That while I was rebellious, He loved me. He loved me to the point of death so that my sins were atoned for and I would no longer be an enemy of God. Because of His love, I have worth. "But Christ did not die for us because we are valuable; we are valuable because Christ died for us. It is not for us to say to one another, "Worthy are you!"—which is the mantra of a great deal of modern psychology. Instead, we turn to God and say, "Worthy are you, O Lord our God!" (Rev. 4:11)."1 I am not worthy, and never will be, I can set aside all striving and insecurity.

I'm discovering a beautiful cycle, that as I know God's love more, I love Him all the more, and as the love between me and my God grows, my love for Micah grows, and the more I love Micah, the more I love God. Over the past couple months I feel like the Grinch at the end of the story whose heart grew three sizes. My heart is growing and expanding, coming alive. Even on the hard days, when I say "no" to my own wants so that I can say "yes" to things related to the boys. Or when they run away and my heart aches, it grows larger still as I see myself in their rebellion, addictions, and poor choices and know that I love them still, as God loves me when I continue to sin.
I am learning that love is a many splendored thing!

"I have loved until it aches, and found that the love consumes the ache, so there is only love---much more love" Ann Voskamp

1Love Needs No Reason by Mark Galli

20 September 2010

Logos + Mac = A Very Good Thing

Logos makes some of the best (maybe even the best) Bible resource software. I've stuck with a Windows based computer for years because of this program. It was more important to me to be able to have Logos, than to have a Mac. Now I can have the best of both worlds! Logos is now available for Macs! Yay!!

Check it out here:

05 September 2010

No, Not the Scrooge Kind

When you hear the word "ebenezer" what comes to mind? Ebenezer Scrooge? The famous Charles Dickens' character from A Christmas Carol is the only reference most people would have for that funny word. A character who is remembered more for his miserly ways than his turn of countenance at the end of the story. Those who have been part of a church that sings hymns may remember another use of the word, a line from the song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,"

Here I raise my ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;

The word actually shows up in1 Samuel 7:12, the Israelites defeat the Philistines, after Samuel has offered a sacrifice. Samuel puts up a stone in memorial and names it Eben-Ezer - a 'stone of help.' The name Eben-Ezer also means "God has led us thus far" or "Thus far God has helped us."

Genesis 31:52 and 35:14-15 are a couple other examples of building pillars, stacking stones - Ebenezers - as memorials to important events. There is a verse somewhere, I can't find the exact reference (if you know it, tell me where to find it please), that talks about building stone monuments as remembrances of what God has done, a testament to future generations; 'when your children ask why this pillar is here, tell them of the great works of God.' It sounds like Exodus.

Anyhow, I latched on to this idea of "stones of remembrance," collecting my own personal ebenzers several years ago. I pick up stones at the places I travel to whether it be the Oregon coast or the Israeli desert to Picacho Park in Tegucigalpa. Sometimes, if I happen to find an interesting one on a walk around the neighborhood I'll pick it up too. So what do I do with these rocks? I use a Sharpie (you know I always have at least one with me) and write a word or two or a verse to remind me of a time where God's faithfulness, intervention in my life was more palpable. I keep them in a pitcher on my kitchen windowsill so that when I need encouragment, when I need to refocus, when I need a reminder of who is really in charge, I can reach in and grab a stone and remember what God has done in my life in the past and know that He is faithful, He will continue to work in my life.

For almost a year now I have been looking for a specific stone; a heart shaped stone. I have known what I would write on this stone, but have not been successful in finding the stone itself. I started my summer at Cannon Beach and had spent quite some time searching for the elusive heart stone. I even found one that sorta looked heart shaped but I accidentally dropped it in a drive way made out of gravel and it was lost. Labor day holiday weekend found me at Cannon Beach again, it is one of my favorite places after all. This most recent trip I had success. I actually found two. The only issue is that they are not palm size, more like fist size, the fist of Andre the Giant - they won't fit in the pitcher, so they are now sitting in my front yard. But now I have two - do I use only one? Or do I come up with a second word? The word that has been mulling around in my head waiting for a stone is... (drum roll) MICAH! Not surprising, is it?

So help me out peeps - which rock is more heart shaped? Which one should have Micah scrawled on it? what should happen to the other rock? Any suggestions for another word?

What would be written on your ebenezers?

01 September 2010

The Phantom Critic

I feel the need, the need for speed. No, that's not it. I feel the need to defend and explain myself. To whom? No one in particular. The phantom critic, the person who has read my post-Honduras update and is bashing me for referring to Hector and Wilmer as "my boy" and questioning my "motherly love." I questioned my word choices as well. I tried to think of another way to describe what I feel towards the Micah boys, because it is not just Hector or Wilmer who are "my boys" - they all are, and that really is the best way to say it. I know, I know, they aren't really mine, truly, they belong to God. The love I have for them is most akin to a maternal love, and wouldn't any mother call her sons "my boys" with the understanding that they are her responsibility, they have been put in her care, entrusted to her by God. And that is not unlike how I feel; that God has imbued me with a deep love for these boys that is motivating me to help carry the responsibility of raising and caring for them. I just can't come up with a better word than "maternal" to describe it.
I have no desire or illusion of being their mom, they have mothers. Some are involved in their lives, some have passed away, some are absent, some are a positive influence, some are not, but they have mothers - and it isn't me (we need an equivalent of the African notion of "Auntie"). What I can be is an adult figure who loves them, just as they are, who will stand beside them through their ups and downs, a stable positive constant, teach them how to navigate life, encourage them to be their best, point them to God, training them up in the way they should go, who will continue to love them even when they throw it back in my face. Why? Because that is what God does for me every single day. It's all about the love of Jesus. Because He loves me, I need to share that love. Because He first loved me, I can love my boys. Because He loves me, and has given me this love for Micah, I will do the hard work of loving. To the boys, I'm just one of many visitors that came down this summer; I'm just the crazy gringa who spoke gibberish that no one understood, who spit water on Hector, kissed Wilmer (and others), and had a camera permanently attached to her hand - that is, if they remember me at all. Before I can be that 'caring adult figure' I have to earn the right, earn their trust and respect, prove myself, before I can speak into their lives. That will take time, years, and it won't be easy. But I am driven to take on this challenge by the love of Jesus. What other source could give me the strength to sell my cute home (and my books, which may be more painful) and move to Honduras? It's all about the love of Jesus, baby!
And there I go again, talking like it's a done deal!

This is my response to that phantom critic who lives in my head, and hopefully only there.

*One more note about Hector, "the son I didn't know I had." If I had ever had a son, I'm certain that the resemblance in personality and temperament to Hector would have been uncanny. That's all I meant.

Honduras Updates

Call me paranoid, I'm fine with that. But I didn't want to post on here about my trip to Honduras until after I was back. I didn't want it known to anyone on the web that my house was going to be sitting empty. Now that I'm back (and occupying my house, any potential robber can go away) I'm posting my pre-departure update and my post trip update.

Pre-departure can be found here:

Post trip update can be found here:

The fonts and some of the links got mixed up along the way. They are still readable, just not as pretty. And the links, well... copy & paste, my friends!

Who needs words when there are pictures:
An album for each day I was in Honduras.