Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The End of the Firsts


I really cant believe it has been a year.

I was overwhelmed to the point of tears today thinking of how special our time was in Dallas last year as 13 of my very best friends from college gathered to celebrate the life of Sweet Hopkins. After the day of the service, and a feast of food and friends - we told stories and laughed and cried and then ... we played cards. It was an unforgettable scene.

I have recently read Donald Miller's new book and it has rocked me. There is part where Miller speaks of a dear friend dying and he describes the scene of being at the friends house, late - the night of the funeral.

He says,

"Later, at around two in the morning, when there were only a few dozen people left at their house, I looked across the deck at Steve and Ben sitting and talking to Jim (whose wife had passed away), and as they laughed and drank their wine, I wondered how much it costs to be rich in friends and how many years and stories and scenes it takes to make a rich life happen. You cant build an end scene as beautiful by sitting on a couch, I thought to myself. And I also knew that while this group had experienced devastating loss, the ones who remained were richer still because of her passing, as thought Janice left an emotional inheritance of stories that would continue to be told, stories that would be passed down to her children, and theirs.

I looked across the deck at Steve sitting and talking to Jim, and as they laughed and drank their wine, I wondered about the story we were writing and wanted even more to write a better story for myself, something that leaves a beautiful feeling even as the credits roll."

I hope that through the years we continue to fight our schedules, distractions, and comfort to commit to one another the time needed for the scenes and the stories that we must have in order to be rich in friendship. I am so very thankful for how far we have come - for the stories I can tell and the scenes I can see. I am thankful for a person like Sweet who was in our lives, and showed us what it is like to be a masterful scene maker.

The picture above is what we sent Ivy today to remind her of our love and support and care.
We also sent her a letter, here is part of it for you to read.

"Ivy, we thank God for the woman you are in each of our lives. Together as we look back over the the events of a year ago in remembrance and forward towards the future with hope, we pray that the One who gives us His light burden and easy yoke will hold you tightly in His arms. We trust that He will continue to shape you, grow you, and mold you into the incredible woman that He has created you to be.


We love you so much, Ivy. We are praying with you and for you. We rejoice in the Lord for the works He has done in and through you in the past year.


Grace and Peace,

13 Auburn Friends"


*to read Ivy's post about her mom, click here:
http://theladyinthestreet.blogspot.com/2009/10/365.html


Friday, October 23, 2009

Family


Still no clever title, and no real reason for this post, other than the fact that I have these cute pictures of my best friend and her family and I want to introduce you to them.

I am so grateful to have Heather, Clay, Clayton, and Turner in my life. These kids bring so much
joy to me and many good times. I miss them bunches, but try to get back and visit
often. Crazy how fast they grow.

Clayton is already an avid iPhone and Auburn
fan, before long he will be drinking boutique beer is he hangs out with his Dad long enough.
Thanks Conner
Family for blessing my life!
I am so thankful for each of you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oktoberfest & Friends

I give up. I wont even try. Im just NOT a clever blog title maker.
How do you people come up with such creative titles? I dont get it. Ill just be plain jane -
its okay.

I had to dedicate this blog to the wonderful Oktoberfest in Nashville a few weekends ago,
and visits from great friends! Sarah and Kortnie came in town for an
audition
Kortnie had, and also for a visit with me! It was sooo good to see them. For those of you who dont remember or did not know, Kortnie is my friend who battled colon cancer this past year - she is now free and clear! Praise the Lord! We went to Virago forSushi and tried to talk Kortnie and Kayla into Karaoke, but it didnt work - maybe next time. Oh, and yes, we
made Kayla wear those glasses allll night.


The day after Sa and Kortnie left, John and Lana came in town to hang out with Katlin and me. It was such a good weekend to have friends in town. We hit up Oktoberfest, Next Big Nashville Music Festival, Peter's (more sushi) and even the Pancake Pantry - fat kids! Of course, somewhere in there I drug Lana to the DMV with me to get my Tennessee license. She decided after that excursion that she wants to work there if she ever moves to Nashville. Hilarious.

Recent Fall Fun

So, I know I have slacked on the blog lately. I have been too busy living life to tell stories about it. Don Miller would be so proud of me right now. I am reading his new book, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" - and it is rocking me. He talks about the whole concept of 'story' and characters in the story and how they chose to live their life. Its simple, but profound. I cant do it justice. Go see for yourself how much it will challenge you. Its perfect for where I am right now.

Though I have been MIA lately, I didnt want to
skip over some of the fun I have had. Several weeks ago, after recouping from Peru on the couch, I was able to go with Kirsten to shop for
her 20th year High School
Reunion at Lake Highland, in Dallas.
She is like me, and HATES to shop.
We had a blast. Oh, and she had a great time at the reunion. Chris Harrison (Bachelor Host) said she looks just like his wife. Hmm.

Two weeks ago, Worship and Arts had our annual Staff Retreat.
This was the first one
I have been on and it was a blast. I am so thankful for the people I work with, and that we are friends - not just co-workers. We fished, canoed, hiked, went spelunking (caving, silly), and ate lots of good food. We laughed so hard and it was great.


Last Sunday was a blast! Sante Fe Soup, Sarah's Soccer Game, Titans Game, Chili, and
homemade cookies with friends. I wrapped up the day with a great night
with my Community Group, meeting John and Molly's new puppy,
Murphy - and then going to see Where the Wild Things Are with great friends. I love days like that, spent with people I love, doing things I love.

I love Nashville in the Fall. It is my favorite. The leaves are really starting to change around
here, and it has been sooo much fun to wake up to all the pretty colors everyday.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Where the Heart Is

Sometimes it is hard for me to go to Birmingham and face the changes of life, but that is life. I don't really adjust to change as well as I would like to think I do. Im kind of sour about it. I am thankful though, that even in the changes, relocations, and all the surprises life brings ... home is still where the heart is.

This weekend home to me, life to me, was:

Watching Clayton run to the door when I arrived with all smiles yelling, "Enin!!!!"

Seeing my brother play college football and welling up with pride for him.

Talking with friends about life through glassy eyes and the next minute laughing until it hurt.

Visiting with my Grandparents about my trip to Peru and telling them how it changed me.

Going to lunch with my Aunt and talking about the future, the joys & pains life brings.

Hugging a friend really tight that I know has been hurting.

Driving familiar roads late at night with my best friend, just like old times.

Holding 10 week old Turner as she slept, in peace.

I am thankful for the good things in the midst of the hard things.
I am thankful for change that never allows me to stay the same.


Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said,
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Heb 13:5

But I am thankful that HE never, ever, ever changes.

Home is there. Home lies in Him.


Friday, October 02, 2009

The End of Peru

I cant believe it has been so long since my last post. To all of my supporters, forgive me. I know I left you hanging. My sickness only worsened the last few days of our trip and it became increasingly more hard for me to blog. I did, however, make it through the week. Gigi McMurray, who was on our team, used to be a nurse, and were it not for her sweet nurturing spirit and all of her knowledge, I would not have made it through the week. The Lord was faithful to not give me more than I could bear. The kids did an amazing job with the worship service on Thursday night, and there were more than 40 people that wanted to know more about Jesus. It was very humbling. I felt like a proud mom as I stood by the stage and watched my drama kids recite their scripture and parts from the week. I was blown away at how well they did after being to challenged with their behavior all week. The Lord showed up and we were encouraged.


Below you will see the art project that the kids did. Gigi had them write on
sheets of paper words in Spanish that they use to describe God. We compiled the papers and put them in this collage to display Thursday night. It was so powerful to see their view of the Lord.













Friday we went to the orphanage. It was unreal to see these kids working for their food, learning music, and sewing and carpentry - even baking! Again, I was faced with wrestling with the reality of me being born in America, and these children being orphans in Peru. I could not reconcile it in my heart or mind.
I am just grateful to the Lord for the blessings He has lavished on me that I don't deserve. I could not help but think how real the verses in the Gospels about the ravens must be
to these children. They must trust that they are more valuable than the birds and that the Lord will certainly take care of them. We sang with the kids for a while and then left to head into Lima to eat at a restaurant in the city and go to the market.

I was pretty sad because we went to this restaurant called Mango's that I have heard about for so long. Everyone that has gone to Peru with Fellowship comes back raving about this place. Turns out I was really sick that day and this was all I could eat for lunch. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
It was so hard to say goodbye to all my new friends in Peru. I miss them already. Those people taught me so much about community, commitment, service, love, and giving your life away. It remains true that I needed Peru more than Peru needed me. This trip left a mark on me that I will never forget. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go and serve and love on this people, but also to learn from them. Thanks so much to all of you who made that possible. I cannot thank you enough. Below is a picture of me Pastor Juan Carlos, the worship pastor at the church in Comas, and his children JJ, Natalie, and Jonathan.







I am so encouraged by all the Lord is doing in Comas and Lima, and I am so thankful to be a part of His greater story there. I am so grateful for the ways I am different, I am humbled by the things I learned, and changed because of all I saw. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

*sick update: I went to the Doctor last Monday. He gave me medicine and said it seemed I was hit pretty hard with a series of things while away. His main concern was a parasite or amoeba. After blood work and testing, I am glad to report that he called me today to say that I do NOT have a parasite. It seems as though I actually will have to join the Y to lose weight. Bummer. Just Kidding. I am glad to be recovering, I assure you. Thank you so much for your prayers and concern.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Some things that hit hard...

Yesterday was a great day of rehearsal and break outs for the kids. I love my class and how social they are, even if it is difficult to teach. It has been somewhat frustrating to not feel well because my personality is to not miss out on anything. So I want to keep going, even when I need to rest and settle down-and that is hard. The Lord was good though, and I made it through the day and night last night. I loaded up with TamiFlu, IBU, and a sleeping pill and hit the hay. Everyone is shocked at the medicine I can ingest, but that is what happens when you grew up with a parent that was a pharmacist!

I had to take this time at lunch to blog and tell you of two things that have really hit me hard since yesterday. Ellen and I helped the Chef was dishes after lunch yesterday, and he was so grateful. We talked about his family and how his daughter needs clothes. When we asked him what kind, he emphasized her need for t-shirts. How convicted I felt about my tupperware container of t-shirts under my bed. (I know Anna will really tell me to get rid of them now.)
A few moments later, David walked by to tell the Chef what a great job he did
with lunch and how wonderful it was. The dialogue went something like this:

David: Muchos Gracias! That was muy delicioso!
Chef: Ahhh, Gracias, really?! Well, I find your worthy of such food.
David: No, no, we are not.
Chef: Well, you are not, but you are in Christ, and because of Him you certainly are!

I have been so broken this week as I compare the difference of dependence upon the Lord between Americans and Peruvians. The more I hear them pray, engage in conversations, and see how selflessly they
serve - the more I am faced with the fact that they understand and live out the Gospel in a way that I do not. Several members of our team wear the Mocha Club Shirt that says, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." That phrase has become my motto for Peru.
I NEED PERU MORE THAN PERU NEEDS ME.

When we arrived to the Guzman's, where we are staying, around 9:00 last night, we were greated by a stranger telling us to come in quietly. When we walked in, I was in
complete shock at the sight I saw. We entered a room of about 20 men on their faces crying out to God. I dont think I have ever seen such fervent prayer. As we got ready for bed we noticed the men stayed on their knees. We dont know how long they had been praying before we arrived, but it carried on for at least 2+ hours. As I drifted to sleep, I was encompassed by the sound of these men praying, then singing, then praying, then singing. Later, their wives came up to meet them and they all joined in together. I could not help but try and think of the last time I got on my face before the Lord and what it would be like to happen upon the men of Fellowship in such a prolonged posture. It moved me beyond belief.

Today is the “e-camp” worship service with the kids. We have been preparing all morning for this service tonight. Please pray for our last breakouts with the kids this afternoon, and the service tonight. Many of the children's parents are not believers. It is our desire that the Lord uses these children to lead them to Christ as they worship tonight. The service is at 7pm – so please pray during that time.

*sick update: I am making it. The ladies on our team prayed for me this morning, and since then I have felt better. I still have a fever, chills, and am weak - and I also still have some digestional issues, but the Lord is sustaining me. I am taking TamiFlu and IBU and napping when I can to keep things at bay. Your prayers are much appreciated. I want to participate and serve as much as I can, please pray the Lord would heal me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mid Week Low Down

I just worked on a great update and lost it. Now I do not have much time, so I will have to make this quick. Our time here has really been amazing so far. I continue to be humbled and more grateful for what God has blessed me with. It seems wrong that I have so much.





















Our last few days have been packed. I am about to post videos
(if possible) and photos of events from the last few days:

-beginning of camp (kids are much more rowdy than we expected, but so fun)
-feeding the children in Chillon (absolutely heart breaking)
-Peruvian Folk Band (unbelievable)
-house (pictured left) and school visits (below)
-shots from the roof of the church
Last night gave everyone a bit of a scare. I was trying to go to sleep and got up to take some medicine. The ladies insisted on taking my temperature, and found out I had a fever.

Thanks to some sleep, and many prayers, I feel much better. If you read this, please pray my fever does not return and that I stay well. Today is our 3rd day of camp and tomorrow is the "big day." Please pray for us as we continue to teach these kids about what it means to worship God, and as we join them in leading their friends and families in worship tomorrow night.
Friday morning we will go to the market, and see other parts of Peru. Saturday morning we will go to an orphanage, I am eagerly expecting this trip. It is truly amazing that the people of Comas live like they do. We are far, far too blessed.

Above: Peruvian Folk Band
Above: Oatmeal type drink we fed the Kids
Above: Children being placed on stage for camp rehearsal

For more pictures and details about what we are up to, please visit Jessica's blog:

http://e-camp-fellowship.blogspot.com/

HASTA MA√ĎANA!
(I hope)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day One::Blown Away

Wow. We are finally here in Comas. I had tears in my eyes when greeted at the airport last night. These people were so very excited to see us and welcome us to Peru. I was very excited to meet Angie (pictured right), a translator of ours, and a friend of many of mine. I am at a loss for what to say because I am so overwhelmed. My heart is already bursting at the seams with love for these people and this culture. I have never witnessed such extreme poverty,
and I have never been more embarrassed to have a North Face jacket. Already, I am extremely humbled, and grateful. We had breakfast at the Church this morning and then went up the hill to look out over the city.

We met many women and children that I immediately wanted to take home with me. I am afraid this trip will only increase my desire to adopt. These children were content, kind, and warm hearted. The kids in Peru hardly have anything. Funny how I suddenly could care less about the safety of my camera so long as it meant they could play with it. I met a girl named Nicole (pictured left) and told her that was my middle name, she was so excited. Pastor Enrique prayed for us on the mountain and talked to us about the importance of it in the Christian journey. Its really neat to see how close you can feel to people you have never met, because they know the Lord.

After our trek up the mountain, we came back to the church for a welcome party, amazing food, and dancing. This afternoon we have had rehearsal for the 5 worship services we will conduct for the Church tomorrow.

Please keep praying for us. We begin our day tomorrow at 6am with the first service. I will update again as soon as possible. I wish words could give enough justice to tell what all the Lord is doing in my heart, but they do not suffice . . .
video