Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You know you're looking rough when...

You know you're looking rough when at 7 pm, whilst walking the dog along a road in a fairly well-to-do neighborhood, a nice lady in a white Escalade stops her vehicle to ask you, "Are you OK? Do you need some help?"

"Do I look like I need help?"

Granted, it was dark, it was raining and I neglected to wash my hair today. But seriously? Is a girl in jeans and a ski jacket, holding an umbrella and walking her dog that unusual?

I'm still trying to decide whether I should be thankful she cared enough to stop or insulted that I looked so distressed as to warrant the pity.

It's been a while

Sorry for my lack of blog-posting lately. I know those of you who check during lunch have had a boring visit lately.

There has been a lot going on emotionally, mentally and spiritually for me. God has really been teaching me some things about my selfishness, His immense love, ministry preparations, submission, patience, loving others...It goes on and on.

This week, I have been mentally stressed at work, as we're about to launch our new website, which my office has been a major player in editing and building. Today is D-Day though, and by 5 pm, our work should be (in large part) finished.

However, after the mental strains of last week, and the work stress of this week, I am worn out. I have been trying to take care of myself by eating well and sleeping a decent amount, but I can't seem to shake this feeling of exhaustion this week.

The result? Crankiness. I'm trying to be helpful, and loving, and kind, and patient, and Christ-centered, and others-focused...It's not happening. I need the Lord to get ahold of my heart and my head and give me a new spirit - one that looks vastly more like Him than where I am right now.

Whoever said being a Christ-follower was a crutch for the weak obviously never tried. This walk of faith grows harder, but more worth it, every day. Harder as I realize how far from being Christ-like I am, but more worth it as I grow in a deeper knowledge of the abundant goodness of my Savior.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Walking in a winter wonderland.

Just a few pictures from our snow day here in NC! Ben had never seen snow before, other than a bit of flurrying, so it was lots of fun to watch him romp around and enjoy it! Thanks to my friend Paige for taking these for me, as my camera wasn't ordered until that afternoon.

In other picture news, my Mom has been going through all of the old family pictures. She's mailing some of them to me, I think, so we shall see what old relics she digs up. If it's anything funny, I'll consider sharing :)

Ok, here's the ones from Benny's first snow day. Enjoy!

What's all this white stuff?

Who cares?! I love it!!

White Fang and I.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So many good things!

I am in a state of contentment today, and that is a great place to be. Above all, I am thankful and content because of the love of God in my life, not because I am worthy of it, but because he is glorious and kind. In his goodness, he has given me so many blessings, several of which I am acutely aware of today.

Here's a (short) list of some of the things I am thankful for today!
1) I'm working from home, which is so nice. Why? It SNOWED!! It is beautiful here, and I think a bit more snow is still on the way. Ben and I woke up early to go play in the snow and he LOVED it, although I think he may have strained his leg romping around. He was sprinting all over the place and eating the snow (fresh, and the clumps off my boots!) and thoroughly enjoying himself. So as he naps, I work, both enjoying being cozy inside.
2) As I'm working, I'm also watching the inauguration festivities. Although I didn't vote for Obama and disagree with many of his policies, I am thankful to live in a country that 60 years ago was entangled in racism and civil unrest, and today, we swore in the first African American president. What an amazing step. He is my leader now, and so I will pray for his protection and divine guidance as he leads our country.
3) I am also thankful for my Amazon gift card, which allowed me to buy a new digital camera for $50. Sounds cheap, doesn't it? The camera was ranked as one of the top 5 options by though, so I'm thinking I'll love it. Plus, it's a Canon, and I loved my old Canon (until it went kaput a few weeks ago) so I have high hopes...4) Lastly, but certainly not in the least, I am thankful for the way God has worked in my life and Adrian's life to bring us together and share a common vision for our future - together. I spent the weekend with him, ringing in a new year of life for us of knowing each other: The 18th was our 1 year anniversary of meeting. We also celebrated a new year of life for him: He turned 30 Monday! It was a wonderful weekend of being together, eating delicious food (he cooked for me! yummy), gift-giving and remembering all the good things God has given us. I am unbelievably blessed to be his girlfriend and to stand alongside him as the Lord grows him into an even more incredibly Godly man.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy birthday!!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear parents, happy birthday, to you!

Happy birthday to my Mama (Jan. 15) and Daddy (Jan. 14)!

Take heed!

Just a quick word of warning to my fellow blonds out there (and to those who may have "blond roots"): Always check batteries.

When taking batteries out of an electric device and plugging them into the charger to recharge them, always first check to make sure they are, in fact, RECHARGEABLE batteries. This is vitally important.

If you don't check them, but instead, hastily take them out of your camera, plug them into the wall charger and walk away for a day, you may find yourself with a lot of leaky batteries, and battery acid all over your jeans. I'm just saying.

My recommendation on determining exactly what kind of batteries you're dealing with?
A) Actually looking at the batteries.
B) Plugging them into the wall charger, waiting a day, and then finding yourself with exploded batteries and battery acid on your clothing.

Option A folks. Always check your batteries. Oy vey!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

If a week at home with family, followed by two weeks in Europe isn't enough to turn my brain to mush, sitting through a 7 hour Content Management System training session will definitely do it.

Welcome back to the real world, huh?

I got home from M-ville last night, unpacked my car and my suitcases, caught up with two of my besties from college, and put together a bookshelf. This morning, I was up and at 'em early, getting me to work right on time. I was feeling pretty good about life until the day-long training session at work reminded me that I am back in "normal life."

In order to ease my transition back to life here, I comforted myself with a Dr. P and a burrito from Moe's for lunch (It's good to be back in the States!)

What's NOT good? The enormous headache, stomachache and loss of brain function I endured after eating all that junk least it tasted yummy while it lasted!!

So, my thoughts after being back for 24 hours to the real world: I'm ready to escape. Come quickly, Friday night!

Friday, January 9, 2009


This is my last post from Amsterdam.
Today is my last day in the city.
I just put up my last installment of pictures from here.
I just finished my last bit of classwork for the trip.

Since my exam is finished, class is over, pictures are posted, and the afternoon awaits, I am off to go do some SHOPPING!! If you're not on Facebook, here is the link to the second photo album of pictures: Click here. For the first album, scroll down and find the link, 3 or 4 posts back, I think.

Thanks for your prayers for me on this journey. Read below to catch up on more of the "deep things" I have been learning while I've been here. It's been good, but I am ready to come home. I will see you, my loved ones, in the next few days!! Pray for safe journeys tomorrow (I leave at noon here, 6 am Eastern time), and arrive at 9 pm Eastern time, 3 am Amsterdam time. So, much love to all, and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sounds and His strength

Today is Thursday, and the second to last day in the city for my team.

It has been a busy and full two weeks, and I am beyond the exhausted point. I haven’t been sleeping well this week, usually waking up around 4-4:30 am for a while with my thoughts racing and my room unbearably hot. I have taken to sleeping with one of the windows open, as crazy as that sounds. Not only does it provide a decent temperature to sleep in (until my 4 am wake-ups), but it allows me to go to sleep listening to the sounds of the city.

While a much quieter city than many I have slept in, Amsterdam still has its noises. There are usually mopeds and Vespas making a high-pitched whine on the street outside, jolly young men shouting and laughing in a group as they walk below the window, a low whistle of a lone person walking home, and the occasional “toot-toot” of a car horn or “ding-ding” of a bicycle bell.

For most people, smells are the link to memories. While certainly still a very strong link to the past for me, I also tend to associate certain sounds with a place I have been. Chugging diesel engines bring back Costa Rica. Tropical birds and easy rivers bring back Ecuador. Loud car horns and yelling take me back to Italy. I think it will be gentle and persistent dinging of bicycle bells I take with me from Amsterdam.

Even though I still have a day left in the city, my heart and my thoughts are on their way back home to those I love and miss. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, although it was much different than I thought it would be. Combining the pressures of work (why I am on this trip), class (what has kept my mind occupied during the days), and ministry (what we’ve been “doing” in the afternoons, but which needs to become a lifestyle for me) has been interesting. It has been a great learning experience to see how I (don’t) handle those pressures, and to realize how little I am, and how unable I am of doing anything big for God on my own. I can’t do it.

I can’t strike up conversations about the Gospel on my own strength. I can’t control my tongue when I am tired on my own strength. I can’t write an article that will inspire everyone to move overseas on my own strength. I can’t….Praise God that I don’t have to do any of it on my own strength, that He wants me to do it in His strength, if only I will relinquish. In my weakness, his strength is made perfect.

So whether I am listening to bicycle bells, loud car horns, the singing of birds, or just the sweet sounds of my loved ones around me, I am thankful for the reminder this week that I can’t do it on my own, but that I have a Savior who carries the load for me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We've come to declare...

The glory of the Lord.

That is why I am here in Amsterdam - To declare the glory of the Lord. However, I am finding it harder than I expected, both within myself and within the circumstances I find myself in.

Here's an excerpt from my journal last night to help you understand what I mean: "Here in Amsterdam, the lostness is so close, so prevalent, so cloying and so overwhelming that I fear I am mentally and emotionally shutting down. Rather than fully grasping what the lostness of this city means, I am turning my attention too often to petty things – usually issues with people. It allows me to keep trucking without completely shutting down, as I feel like I want to do. So as I was pondering it tonight, I thought to myself, “Why should the lostness of these people bother me?” My answer is twofold: Because God is not being glorified as he ought to be, and because the people don’t know the unsearchable riches of Christ and their lives are not being lived abundantly.

So then, how do I go about fixing my heart? Obviously, only the Lord can fix it, break it, and make it so passionate about him that it motivates me to share with people more than I am doing. In allowing him to do that though, I think I need to think on two things: Who God is – His glory, love, salvation and qualities; and what he has done for me. Out of a heart motivated by love for God, and a mind motivated by the thoughts of what God has done for me can I even begin to address the problems of faith in this culture."

So, that's where I'm at. I want my heart to be broken for these people - to care desperately about their spiritual needs and spiritual welfare. Rather than be scared by the darkness around me, I want to have compassion on the people who walk in darkness and declare the glory of the Lord to them. This afternoon, as I visit a mosque and watch the call to prayer and the ritualistic prayers, it will be MY prayer that we, as believers, will have humble hearts, bold tongues, compassionate natures, and eyes to see God's glory. Please join me in that prayer today.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Updated photo link

Hey everyone - I'm sitting in class, hearing from a local church planter about what to expect when going out into the Muslim communities. It's a whole different ballgame than last week. I'm curious/excited/nervous about this week, but that's not a whole lot different than my emotions last week. I'm still just praying God will give me His eyes to see all the people as He does, and to have my heart break for the lostness around me.

Anyways, this is just a quick post to give an updated link for the Facebook photos. Sorry the last one no longer works - I think since I changed the name of the album it made the link defunct. Anyways, enjoy!

Facebook album: Amsterdam:Holland

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Dutch Weekend

So much for rest! This weekend has been good, but short, and I still have quite a bit going on, not including the dire need for sleep and a book to read!

Yesterday I spent the day with teammates BJ and Jen, and we met up with a couple Jen had met in Thailand. Arthur and Sharon spent time with Jen, Adrian and other members of the team to Thailand in July, and they have kept up with them. Adrian and Jen both wanted me to meet them, and I am so glad I did! They are a wonderful couple – Very friendly, open to talking, funny, and just enjoyable. We spent most of the day just walking around the city, shopping a bit, and getting to know them. They even took us for a typical Dutch meal! I ate minced meat roulade with red cabbage and boiled potatoes. It was pretty tasty. I also learned during that meal that the Netherlands and Holland are all the same land. I had been told that Holland was a region of the Netherland, but not so, apparently. The same landmass has always gone by the two names simulatenously. Interesting, no?

This morning I didn’t make it to the church service I was supposed to go to (bus situation mix-up), so I will go in a few hours to the 4 o’clock service. Instead I went to the Ryjks Museum, where I saw works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Really amazing stuff in person. It’s not my typical style I enjoy, but I couldn’t help myself when I really saw the difference in quality! Then, I walked through the park, thinking and praying and watching the dogs. All of them stayed willingly with their owners, without leashes!! Ben definitely needs to step up his game! ;)

Anyways, I’m off to find some lunch and then go to church at 4 (10 am Eastern time). Afterwards, I am working with BJ on some stuff for the office. Everyone have a blessed Sunday. Also, if you’re reading this and you have had access to the true Gospel message your whole life, praise God right now. SO many people here can’t say that – They have never heard the Gospel message before, because the churches here either don’t preach and teach it, or because they don’t know a single believer. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers out into the field.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Stretching hurts.

Hi bloggies – Thanks for checking in! There’s a lot to share about how things are going here, but let’s just say I am being stretched!

It has been hard for me to force myself out of my comfort zone to talk to people. I don’t mean the average, “How ya doing? Where you from?” kind of conversations, but instead those conversations that I try to turn from the surface to deeper, spiritual issues. Some of them have been easier to “turn” than others: Franz, for example.

Franz is a man I met with one of the guys in the group yesterday. He owns a wine cellar in the area known as de Jordain. Upon asking him his philosophy on what makes a good wine, Franz made it really easy to transition into a conversation about spiritual matters. We covered all kinds of topics: Expectation vs. trust, the “lack of a need for hope,” man’s fears, solutions to fears, and more. Eddie presented the Gospel clearly to him, but he has been reading and studying and hardening his heart since childhood, when he first began to formulate this concept of “Life unfolds and what matters is how my reactions make me happy or not.” He was very adamant in the conversation, refuting so many things I believe and know to be true, and I just praised the Lord that I knew the truth and that it is more than a logical progression of thoughts. He admitted he thought we didn’t think for ourselves and challenged us to “think rationally,” yet complimented us and said he thoroughly enjoyed “the intriguing conversation and the intellectual copulation.” His words – not mine.

God’s hand in the whole thing was so evident though – from the store we went into (2 good little Southern Baptist going into a wine shop, ha!) to Eddie asking the initial question (not something I would have asked) to Franz’s response, which so easily lent itself to starting a deep conversation. It was clearly the Lord. I had prayed that afternoon that it be clear to me that any conversation I had that afternoon would obviously be guided by the Lord.

I am also being stretched within myself, re-learning to what it means to die to self. I am having trouble with my attitude in relation to some of the people I’m here with, so God is stretching me and forcing me to bite my tongue, swallow my pride, and love on people. I just need to do that a WHOLE LOT more!

As I get to the end of my first week here, please just ask that God would continue to open doors for conversations about him, that he would restore our weary minds and bodies, that he would create and mend relationships and that above all, our actions would be glorifying to him.

Thanks, friends! I appreciate your prayer support!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Quick glimpse.

Last night was New Year's Eve, which means I rang in the new year 6 hours ahead of most of you. It also means I am EXHAUSTED in class this morning, and not really mentally here.

Therefore, instead of words, here are some pictures to show you how the trip is going. They're the same ones on Facebook, but here's a link for those of you not on FB.