Monday, April 10

the posture of pain

[[monday morning, april tenth, two thousand and seventeen. the cherry blossoms have begun blooming]]

As I'm sitting here in Volo Coffehouse on Main St., Manayunk, it's only 8:30am. :)

The sky outside is blue and bright, and people are in good spirits as they grab their morning cup of joe and settle down to work. (the temperature is supposed to be seventy-seven degrees today!)

As I sit with my own cup of joe, I'm reflecting on the posture of pain.
It's an uncomfortable concept of hurting.
Over the past couple weeks I've been trying to figure out whether to drive back home across the US either by myself or with one other person. If the choice exists, even my most causal of friends know that I don't like being alone and would never choose to drive by myself.
I don't know why, but I have never, ever liked being alone.
It's not that I'm just an extremely sociable, extroverted, high energy person who thrives in highly populated environments... I actually hate being alone.
It's uncomfortable. It's scary.
It's like finally, when all the noise has stopped, when the music has been turned off and my mind has finally stopped spinning from constant stimulation, there's a void.
I'm left with an empty space; a hollowness inside me. 

So when faced with the idea of maybe possibly having to drive three thousand miles all by myself in a lonely little car for five days, I am terrified. (truly and absolutely terror-stricken)
Nu-uh, no way.
That emptiness is anything but lovely.

And then I pause.

What am I running from?
Obviously I don't like being alone. Obviously there is something I don't like that I'm trying to avoid.
And then I realized... it's pain.
My heart is hurting with a void I'm trying to fill with worldly pleasures. 

So easily I take my eyes off the cross and onto consumerism.
So quickly I turn from the sacrifice of Christ to the success of me.

And it all becomes about me. How can I feel good? What brings me the most pleasure? What is the best adventure...?
And if I don't like it or it hurts, I run away.

The more noise the better, the more people the better, the more chaos the better. If I'm alone, it's hard to run from my own pain.

So I'm beginning to realize that dependence on Christ is not something that comes naturally or easy, and it's not a pleasant thing to give in to. It's uncomfortable and painful to let the Lord work in one's "empty space". And that "empty space" isn't really empty, it's just filled with things that never satisfy enough. So no matter how hard I run, no matter how hard I try to "fill the emptiness", the things that I run after aren't the answer. 
If I busy myself enough I won't notice; but I have to get busier and busier. The margin of acceptable peace and quiet shrinks quickly as I'm constantly left looking for more.

It is the Lord alone who satisfies (Ps. 145:16), God only who can fill my deepest desires (Ps. 107:9). He is the creator of all things and sustainer of life (1 Cor. 8:6). Anywhere else I turn will not satisfy (Isa. 55:2) and anything I look to or search for will never be enough.

Knowing these truths have helped me come to terms with being alone. Though there are things I don't understand and that hurt, it's the painful process of growth into righteousness. Pain results from brokenness, and my spirit is broken apart from the Lord.

I think I'm beginning to see that I need the Lord in order for my heart to be healed. I thought I could be fine on my own, that I could keep running while blocking out the fact that I still feel unfulfilled no matter how hard I try. And this is where the Gospel speaks to me: "For by grace you have been saved... And this is not your own doing(Eph. 2:8-9).
No matter how hard I try, I can't outrun God. No matter what worldly pleasures I seek to fulfill what I think I need, God alone satisfies the depths of my soul.

So I think I've come to terms with driving alone, with having silence surround me and a "void" in my day. Because those things that I think satisfy are really only artificial fillers. The real true Satisfier of my soul who made me and brought me into being knows exactly what I need. He alone fulfills me and heals my pain.

The sky is still blue and people have kept working and sipping
their coffee. It's quite enjoyable being in Manayunk. :)

Blessings and shalom,

Monday, April 3

Afraid to have Joy?

Hah, I haven't written in such a long time! I really want to pick up writing/blogging again--soon! I was just getting all sentimental and looking over past posts and journal entries... I feel like my art for tasteful words and descriptive writing has quite suffered and been quenched lately. Maybe due to too much intellectual thinking and critical observing? :( Disciplined and focused study seems to squelch the creative and wandering mind. :'(  Or maybe I'm going through a rebellious stage, thinking that tasteful and artful words are immature and unlearned from the hardships and sorrows that grown-up life throws at you, causing one to be slightly more rather reserved and careful in their joy. ....? Maybe?

Hmm... Food for thought...
Are we, as adults, with full knowledge of the hardships and sorrow of life, afraid to let ourselves grasp joy? 

There's certainly nothing like a great let-down to discourage us from wanting to ever expect anything again.
Then we're taught to not expect anything, or, if we are to expect something, expect it to be horrid and dismal (to "prepare for the worst", they say, to "protect yourself from disappointment").
Is this a right standpoint?
In our self-preservation efforts to not let disappointment harm us, we teach ourselves to lower expectations and prepare for a blow. We're holding onto a defensive shield rather than the joy of the Lord. 

There is good reason for being hesitant or afraid to grasp joy, for it's a scary thing to be vulnerable to disappointment. 

But rather than letting ourselves be affected by outside circumstances, why don't we let ourselves be affected and touched by the living and breathing Word of God?
For more than a single circumstance has authority to affect our attitude for a day, we have Christ Jesus who has power to infect our hearts and transform our entire lives.

Joy from the inside is more powerful than a blow from without. 

Pray for:
- Words to come to mind and flow freely, that I can write creatively, tastefully and imaginatively again, and not be discouraged by my patted down and more disciplined mind

Thursday, June 2

you were dead

As for you, you were dead. (Eph 2:1)

It is impossible for us to even begin to grasp who we are in Christ now, and the magnitude and immensity of what He has done for us, until we truly see who we were and what He has saved us from.

In order for you to see and grasp and begin to even understand the immensity and magnitude of Christ’s love, grace, and forgiveness, you must first know who you were, and out of what exactly He has saved you from. And then, and only then, can you move on to fully appreciate the magnitude and power of Christ’s love for you, and to live passionately, vibrantly, valiantly and courageously, out of that love. 

It is only a completely captured heart that will push you through every limitation to reach an impossible end. And Christ expects nothing less from us. 

It is only an appreciation of His love for us that will motivate our hearts to pursue more of Him. (Eph 2:4-10)

Tuesday, April 5

Girl, who's your Daddy?

He is the First and the Last,
The Beginning and the End,
He’s the Keeper of Creation and the Creator of All
He’s the Architect of the Universe and the Manager of All Time
He Always Was, Always Is, Always Will Be
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated and Never Undone
He was bruised but brought healing
He was pierced but eased pain
He was persecuted but brought Freedom
He was dead and brings Life
He is Risen to bring Power and He Raised to Bring Peace
He is Life, He is Love, He is Longevity and He is the Lord
He is Goodness and Kindness and Faithfulness and He is God
He is Holy and Righteous and Powerful and Pure
His Ways are Right, His Word Eternal, His Will Unchanging and His Mind is on Us
He’s our Savior, our Guide, our Peace, our Joy, our Comfort, our Lord and He Rules our Lives
I serve Him because His bond is love, His yoke is easy, His burden is light and His goal for us is Abundant Life
I follow Him because He is the Wisdom of the Wise, the Power of the Powerful, The Ancient of Days, The Ruler of rulers, The Leader of all leaders, His goal is a relationship with me
He’ll never leave you, never forsake you, never mislead you, never forget you, never overlook you and never cancel your appointment in His appointment book
When you fall He’ll lift you up, when you fail He’ll forgive you, when you’re weak He’s strong, when you’re lost He’s your Way, when you’re afraid He’s your Courage, when you stumble He will steady you, when you’re hurt He’s gonna heal you, when you’re broken He will mend you, when you’re blind He will lead you, when you’re hungry He will feed you, when you face trails He’s with you, when I face persecution He shields me, when I face problems He will comfort me, when I face loss He will provide for me, and when we face death He will carry us all home to meet Him

He is Everything! for everybody! everywhere! every time! and in every way! He is your God, and that, sisters, is who you belong to!

Wednesday, February 10

How's your bathroom doing?

Father! You just spoke to me, again!! THANK YOU!!!
Standing in the bathroom, reasoning with myself, brushing my teeth before bed, and You show me truth... in a close, firsthand, practical, realistic way!! And how You show me so many things, associating objects with emotions, people or character traits.
You are a good, good Father!!!

You are life. To have life is to have You. Without You there would be no life.

You are the water. We are the room. You dwell in us (water inside the room). The water is the foundation of the room, meaning, the room would not have been built except for the fact that there was water--there was life--there was Christ.

In that room are many things, parts of the room that make it up what its supposed to be (we are one body, many members). Those things would not be there if it weren't for the water. The focus is the water; the reason is the water. With the water, and proper upkeep, the things are kept clean and washed. When maintenance is neglected, the things in the room suffer, and so does the room. Outside influence (from another source) creeps in, contaminating the room, latching onto the things like a parasite. The room and everything in it affects all who touch it, who come in contact with it.

We are the room and the things in it. Christ is the water. Sin and Satan are the dirt, filth and grime from outside. If we continually wash ourselves in/with the Word of Christ, we are safe, we are kept clean. If we neglect to use the water, dirt from the outside comes in and stays. And the less we wash, the more contaminated and less healthy we become. Our purpose as a clean, inviting room is not being fulfilled. We are neglecting our duty, giving up on our tasks, because we've come to be okay with a little dirt, a little mess. However we handle our room (and the things in it) everyone who comes across it, into contact with it, is affected. Directly and indirectly! We have the potential of being clean and sanitized, and saving people from death (not from our efforts but because of the water, for it's the water that cleanses), or of causing death to people because we ourselves hold death in our room (the death being the dirt and grime that we let in and then wreaked havoc and brought disease). We do not get to choose the room or the items in it, but we do get to choose how we care for it. And if we choose to care for it, to wash and clean it continually, we are accomplishing its goal of being a clean and safe place, and a place for others to find life.

Thursday, January 21

Psalm 29

He says give me glory. Give me your glory, and give me your strength. 
Give to the Lord the glory due His name.

He says I am over the waters. I am over the mighty waters. I am Power. I am Majestic. I break the cedars. I make the land dance. I make the valleys tremble. I make the deserts shake. I make the oaks twist, and the forests disappear. Everyone cries glory.

I sit on the throne. I am King Forever

And I give you strength, and I give you peace.
I give you MY strength, and I give you MY peace

Christ is King and Lover, Might and Power. Let us exalt His Name together.

Thursday, January 7

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, can abide while we trust and obey. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil He doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blessed if we trust and obey. But we can never prove the delights of His love, until all on the alter we lay; for the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, are for them who will trust and obey. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet or we'll walk by His side in the way; what He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear. Only trust and obey.
- John H. Sammis

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps. 20:7) 
Through the unfailing love of the Most High we will not be shaken. (Ps. 21:7)
For the King trusts in the Lord.
The King rejoices in Your strength. His joy is great in the victories You give him!! You grant him the desires of his heart. You welcomed him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked You for life, and You gave it to him!!! Through the victories You gave, his glory is great. You have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Surely, You have granted him eternal blessings!! And make him glad with the joy of Your presence.
We will sing and praise Your might, Holy Father.

Wednesday, December 9

I'm very thankful for my solid house on a hill. And I love to watch the tree branches thrash in the wind, and the rain fall in torrents across the valley, and the clouds skirt across the sky... it's lovely. It's beautiful. And the air is so fresh!! I love to be out in it too; let the rain bathe my cheeks in cool refreshment; let the wind whip my hair into a jolly ball.

Saturday, December 5

Something happened.

Something serious has happened.

What God has worked in my heart these two months since being home from college is far beyond whatever growth I thought possible in five year's time.

These moments of laughter, these moments of simple, childlike connections that bond father to daughter, daughter to mother.
These days I have lived at home; settling into my own place, lighting candles, cleaning house, 'making home' and 'nesting'.

Life is worth celebrating.

Family is worth treasuring.

Home is worth nurturing.

More than that, the beauty of Christlike love. The sheer beauty and preciousness of a love that goes beyond selfishness and self-pride; a love that reaches out and lays hold of its prize, a love that will never let you go.
A love that will never stop loving.

He extends grace to us. He gives mercy. He loves unconditionally. He forgives freely. He works steadily.

Saturday, June 27

Beach day

Ah, such a wonderful, WONDERFUL time!!!

Oh, to see the beautiful ocean, to feel the smooth, liquid water swirling, dancing all around you, the warmth of the sun on your back, the breeze in your hair, the ocean spray on your face... To smell the saltiness of the ocean, and take in all the delicious sights to behold.... Look delightedly upon it, for it is beautiful, and it is healing.
Such refreshment. Such release.
Let go, and let the water dance around you. Breathe deep, and let your lungs be filled with freshest of air. Clear your mind, and let your eyes gaze over the sparkling blue horizon and rest upon the waters.
The water caresses you. The sun cheers you. The air fills you.

Thursday, June 25

It's been quite the two days.

We have a pretty consistent routine with the kids, but try to add spice and variety by getting out of the house every now and then.
The days have been mostly low-key, trying to just rest, relax and recuperate from the many events of Paul & Megan's last month.
Monday morning Megan and I were able to get out on our own and go grocery shopping. After naptime we all went and relaxed in the beautiful swimming pool provided by Wycliffe.
Tuesday afternoon we visited the main center, exploring their ethnic gift shop and the museum of languages, and then went swimming again.
Yesterday morning I took the kids to the Wycliffe park, then in the afternoon we drove half an hour to the Dr. Phillip's Community Park, which borders the Big Sand Lake. It is an incredible park, with an entire water fountain/bounce pad play area for the kids. All five of us ran through that water park with our clothes on and all. There were many laughs, and it was very memorable.
Not long after we arrived, however, the alarm sounded for a lightning warning. They shut off the water, and everyone vacated the park. Not 5 minutes had passed before a massive bolt of lightning lit up the sky over our heads, and the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard shook the ground. We got out of there as quick as we could.
It poured buckets all the way home, and didn't stop lightning and thundering till this morning. From 8-10pm I sat outside on the warm asphalt of the volleyball court and watched the two storm fronts on either side of me. It was still 80'F out and 92% humidity. I had never witnessed such an incredible lightning display. I soaked up the warmth, the humidity, the sights and smells...the sound of birdsong and frogs. I took it all in. Gazed at all of it. And my mind went to the glory and splendor of God:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds they hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds, sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!


For today, we planned on going to Downtown Disney. We had over-packed yesterday for the park, so this time we just grabbed the diaper bag and some snacks.
Well, we took a wrong turn. So we went to the beach today. :D
Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral. Beautiful place. It was pouring rain on the way there, and lightning in the distance. We got on the beach, and there was so much charge in the air that everyone's hair was standing on end. This concerned us, so we hunkered down near the water and kept a watchful eye on the sky. Our hair stood on end for a good 30 minutes before it wilted, then after that it was clear skies and sunshine. We enjoyed our stay quite well, the kids running and playing in the water with all their clothes on. The sand was fine, the water warm, the sky blue and the temperature pleasant. Megan and I had good opportunity for long conversation, which we took full advantage of, and Paul gave his best effort to help Karis and Ethan build sandcastles on the ever flooding beach.

It has been wonderful to have some form of water activity every day, opportunity to get out of the house for a change of scenery, and time to spare for much needed R&R and worry-free moments.

The Root family. Their mission and goal in life to reach the
lost and spread the light, for the glory of God and the furtherment
of His Kingdom. To Him be the glory forever.

Wearing our matching Brazilian shirts, with the Brazilian flag in the background
Tender moments

Tuesday, June 23

Rest, my soul. Rest.

Rest, Soul. Rest.

He tells me to rest.

And I will rest in You; praising Your works, basking in Your grace, wondering at Your strength.

Rest is needed for those who are tired to their very core. Rest is needed to refresh the soul.

It is needed to rest in the right rest your mind, heart and soul upon the Lord.

So we rest; we have peace. And we praise Him. We worship Him. We adore Him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." ~ Matthew 11:28, 29

Monday, June 22

Adventure Abroad: Comparison, Contrast, Looking Back & Looking Ahead

Clean. White. Pure.

There are filters that filter the air we breathe. The roads are paved and construction sites have dust blockers, so the air we breathe is clean and dust-free. The apartment is all light and white, new and clean. Neat. Everything is manicured and kept up, inside and out. 
I love it.

Living in America is so much EASIER! Everyone should have an out-of-country experience at least once in their life, and preferably when they're in their late teens. It is such a good experience. 
Living in America is EASY.
There are dishwashers, and microwaves, washing machines and dryers, hot and cold water in the faucets, prepacked, pre-prepared foods, grocery stores all neat and tidy with things air-tight and all ready to be consumed.... Cars are fast and smooth. Roads are paved and traffic laws enforced... 
I am just in awe. Everything is so much easier and faster to do here than in Brazil. 
There are extreme safety features and precautions, rules and regulations, that are nonexistent in Brazil. Both instances can cause great hassle and have their own unique pros and cons. 

Florida is different than Portland. It's really messing with me, because I do feel like I'm in the US, but inside the US I have only ever been on the West side, so being in any other state is freaking me out---I feel like I'm in my home country, yet terribly off-course and in the wrong place. It's so hot and humid too, with palm trees everywhere, that I feel like I'm in Hawaii or somewhere tropical, and in my mind that does not compute with the US. Like we're living normal US life, just going about our daily activities and living, but we are not actually home and we are not actually in a specific vacation-y spot where you go for fun. You could say I'm still getting used to this whole traveling thing. :P

My sister and I went out on our own for the first time today. The first time in over 2 years. It's been so long! We don't often have the time to connect one-on-one. I have never felt super close to her, but as soon as we get on the one-on-one date, it's like we know each other inside and out and understand each other like we're lifelong friends, it's so cool and special. <3 

We live on. We breathe. We praise Him. 

2 years ago, in Brazil

Today, in Forida, USA :)

2 years ago, Brazil

Today, Brazil

The Root family, June 2015

Alia Simone Root
May 19, 2015 - June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 20

Adventure Abroad: Brazil to Miami, Miami to Orlando

Tonight finds us in Orlando, Florida.
We are back in the US!

Wycliffe is providing Paul & Megan with a very nice, 2-bedroom, 2-bath, climate controlled apartment, complete with furniture, dishes, food, tile floors and a TV. We are blown away by the Lord's provision. We all made it safely here. A new adventure awaits; a time of refreshment and rejuvenation while Alia receives proper medical care. Thank You, Father.

Yesterday morning Paul and the kids and I had one final walk in the Amazon jungle before departing. It was very sad to leave Brazil.

A few other things I noted about Brazil that are different than here:

- There are lines on the roads to separate lanes, but people do not pay attention to them. They will swerve, drift over to another lane or whatever, without a care. Traffic laws are hardly enforced... it's almost like organized chaos.
- There are little stores on the highways, many with bunches of fresh fruit hanging in front of them. I find their placement odd on the fast highway, but somehow they get business.
- Year-round in Porto Velho it is dark by 6:00 pm and light by 6:00 am.
- People bought dogs to be guard dogs when the flood happened last year, but they never fixed any of them and now there are packs of stray, scrawny dogs everywhere--outside stores, abandoned houses, even the airport.

We spent yesterday afternoon in Manaus, and were able to visit the large shopping mall in the city. The mall has a unique curved architecture. The top floor has an entire play place for kids, like a theme park inside a mall... there is even a roller coaster. We spent a while in the play place, and then got dinner. The food was authentic, high quality Amazonian fish and fried bananas. The fish was some of the best tasting I have ever had, and fried bananas are a fantastic creation.

We survived the 8-hour overnight flight with the kids, and by 8:30 am we were reunited with Megan.

As soon as we entered the airport I noticed the multiple different languages being spoken, the coffee smell and dress reminiscent of Portland, and the humidity and palm trees reminiscent of Brazil. I felt like I was both in Portland and Brazil at the same time; I guess that describes Florida.

We have the use of a Honda Odyssey mini van--so very huge compared to the little cars of Brazil. Paul & Megan went to the hospital to see Alia, I stayed here with the kids and took them to the park. It is very hot out.

Alia is not doing well at all. :'( She is barely alive; her body has completely shut down. Her heart is beating and she is breathing, but that's it. She is on every antibiotic and medication possible, sedated, and on death's doorstep. We are praying the Lord's will be done.
She is at 33 weeks gestation, born May 19.

The evening ended well with a solid meal of spaghetti, bread sticks and juice, while the music played and the lightning and thunder danced outside. The apartment is so lovely, and we are all happy to be here together, in a home well sheltered.

Thank You, Father, and thank you all for your prayers.

Getting ready to leave

A small section of the shopping mall in Manaus

So many airplanes...

Thursday, June 18

Brazil 2015: Day 7 ~ Final day!

First off, today is a holiday in Brazil--the Day of the Evangelist--and I hear their karaoke blasting all the way from the city. Brazilians like their loud music. :P

What an exciting day in house #10 on the Wycliffe missions base! We are ALL packed up, and I am sad to say that this is my last night in Brazil. :'(

The morning started very cool and gray, which was nice for working around the house. Megan finished getting her last things together, and she and Paul left at 11:30am. I stayed here with Karis and Ethan. It is so fun watching them interact as siblings. :) They played happily together, ate lunch, and then I read to them before nap time. They behaved super, and Ethan slept a full two hours. Afterwards I did miscellaneous things with Karis, playing with her, then made a milkshake for snack and got them in their swimsuits for playing in the little kiddie pool. They were sooo cute, with their little matchbox cars and splashing. :)

Paul came back eventually, and I did some laundry and things around the house while he prepared the kiddie pool for storage and washed the truck. Once the kids were done helping daddy they came panting to the door yelling, "I'm done! I'm done!" Their faces were beaming with satisfaction and joy, and they were the cutest, sopping wet toddles ever, dripping water everywhere and getting little footprints all over the floor. Those giant smiles more than make up for all the effort of cleaning them up. :)

We had dinner at a friend's house, and it was a lovely time of food and fellowship. Karis and Ethan were able to have good playtime with the other kids as well. It was fun for me to see another house; one of the rooms was completely open with just netting, and hammocks hung everywhere. So cool!

Constantly hearing the hum, buzz, click and chatter of the insects is soothing and therapeutic. The birds also have a calming effect on your nerves. Strangely enough, you do not hear the typical frog sound; neither are monkeys common, contrary to what you might envision. When walking outside at night, shine your flashlight on the ground and you will see a hundred plus pairs of beady eyes staring back at you... those are the spiders. Hundreds of them, everywhere, hiding in the grass. If you see a flicker of light in the air, that's a firefly. I saw them for the first time in my life tonight.
The stars are incredible, especially in the villages. It finally dawned upon me that the reason the stars appear to flicker so much is due to the immense amount of air bending and changing wave lengths between us and them. There are millions of miles between the stars and earth, and light travels on many different paths. This gives the illusion of the flickering.

I have not been to the river yet, and there is MUCH of Brazil yet to be explored. However, what I have been privileged enough to see has been amazing, and I can't wait to explore more in the coming years.

The night ended with Paul and I packing away. We were sneaky and got the kids' toys out while they were sleeping. I wrapped picture frames in bubblewrap and tape, and squeezed Duplos in every crack of the suitcase. :)

It's been fun. It's been memorable. And I can't wait to come again. :)

Tchau for now!

Wednesday, June 17

Brazil 2015: Day 6

Oi da AmazĂ´nia!

Things are crazy and exciting around here. Paul & Megan were able to organize a medivac team from Orlando, Florida to life flight Alia. Megan flies out tomorrow with Alia and the team, and Paul, the kids and I will follow on Friday. This is by no means a quick trip however, as Paul & Megan were planning on going on furlough earlier this year, so this emergency trip will simply jump start their furlough to the US. This means we are packing up the entire house--kids' toys, clothes, food and all. Furniture stays here. :P

The house isn't actually that messy. Things are mostly packed now, meaning neat and tidy bins stacked everywhere. Today was laundry day--we went through six loads at least. Megan and I also managed to walk a loop of the missions base, and take the kids to the big swimming pool in the afternoon. Karis was very dedicated and caught a butterfly with her bare hands. Ethan rescued a dragonfly from the pool and carried it almost all the way home. He dropped it and we lost it somewhere along the way. :'(

Yesterday afternoon I had made meatloaf for dinner, but we were unable to light the oven; so we resorted to mac 'n cheese. Tonight the oven worked, so we were able to have a hearty meal of baked potatoes and meatloaf, along with cheesecake for dessert. It was a happy house. :)

"Auntie Heidi, look what I can do!"

"I picked flowers for Mama!"

The swimming pool

Tuesday, June 16

Brazil 2015: Day 5

I am left alone with the kids for the first time! :P Ahh.... Life is exciting here. Although, not sure whether I would call it exciting or chaotic. Probably chaotic. :P exciting usually has positive emotions attached to it, with some sort of energetic anticipation towards a happy experience. I am not saying there are not things to get excited about and be happy for, but... I think you know what I mean. lol

Well. Things here have a rhythm. For the moment anyway, haha. Life is always changing and maturing and, well you know, goes on. As far as the day-to-day, however, there is a sort of pattern that comes along with having toddlers in your family. Pattern and rhythm exist amidst the chaos.

Breakfast is usually about 8:00am, of oatmeal and toast with a fried egg. We have the use of a small oven, stove top, fridge and sink. No microwave or large-sized anything. After breakfast I do dishes and then take the kids for a walk around a loop of the missions base. When we returned I made some Rice Krispies treats for our evening get together. The kids loved watching me stir the marshmallows as they melted, and then as I stirred in the Rice Krispies into the gooey mess and shaped it in the pan. Lunch is eaten right at 12 noon, which consists of rice and beans and usually some bread and peanut butter afterwards. Kids go down for nap, and lunch dishes are done up. Usually I'll have about an hour to rest myself, whereupon I usually take advantage of the peace and quiet to journal, blog, or catch up on social media.

After naptime the kids have playtime, snack, more playtime, and then dinner. :) After Paul left they played happily and quietly by themselves, then we had snack and went outside to play with bubbles. :) Oftentimes the small things in life are also the most treasured things. <3

So thankful I am here. I adore the kids; they are the cutest things in the world! Precious souls, precious lives, precious children.

Sunday, June 14

Brazil 2015: Day 3

I AM HERE!! It is very real and tangible.... I mean, I see it, I feel it, I hear it, I smell it... I am IN the Amazon Jungle, in South America!! I just still can't believe it. :P
I had no idea I would be here, but when you surrender to God's will, and let Him take you places... Man He will. :)
The coolest part I thought so far was riding through the city suburbs, or rather, a very ghetto seeming side of town. But, to back up. I was very bored waiting at the gate for my flight... Finally, at 9:30pm, we boarded, and at 10:00pm we left. No one sat next to me on this flight. It was a Boeing 737, GOL aircraft, flight 1368 from Sao Paulo to Brasilia with final destination being Porto Velho.
From Sao Paulo to Brasilia it was only an hour, and I had music in my earbuds and dozed off for most of the time, which was nice. Then we stopped in Brasilia (the capitol of Brazil), and had to wait for quite awhile while they unloaded and loaded the luggage, refueled, and boarded passengers. Eventually we were off, and by this time I had been traveling for quite awhile and was restless and couldn't wait to get off.
2 hours later, we landed!!
Seeing Porto Velho at night from the sky was beautiful.
The moment I stepped off the plane I noticed the humidity and the heat. Whoa.
I retrieved my luggage, followed the crowd, and walked through the terminal to the welcoming crowd of people. I was expecting my mom to be there waiting for me, but she wasn't. The airport wasn't very big, only two terminals! So I sat and waited, and eventually spotted her, ran to catch up with her, and we were reunited once again. :)

So we were driven out to the base on a bumpy dirt road out in the Amazon Jungle. Felt like the Indiana Jones adventure ride at Disneyland. :) I arrived at Paul & Megan's house at 2:30 AM on Sunday. Total travel time was 37 1/2 hours, 3 flights, 5 cities, 2 countries.

So super cool and surreal that I am here. It is hot and humid, and the vegetation is very lush, dense and tropical. There are insect noises all night long, bats, frogs, and strange sounding birds. A rooster crows outside as well.

Paul & Megan's house

Saturday, June 13

Brazil 2015: Day 2

2:00 PM

Just got off a 10 1/2 flight of 5,308 miles traveling 33,000 feet above the air at approximately 587 miles per hour ground speed. The thermometer also said it was -57 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
Sao Paulo is HUGE!!! Approximately 19,000,000 inhabitants, including the surrounding suburbs.
Very excited to get to the airport. No one speaks English, and if they do it is very broken. I can navigate around okay by reading signs, but that is all. The presence feels very distant, blocked off and cold, but I only think that is because of all the mixes of ethnicities and the absence of unity. Several people have come up to me and started a conversation or asked a question, but I do not understand the language enough to comprehend what they are saying.

I have four hours to ponder life. To think, to muse, to wonder.
I'm sitting on a little table as close as I can to the fresh outdoors and sunshine.
Funny how much of a revelation it was to me that, though I am another continent away, though I am in another country in a different land with different people, I sit under the same blue sky. The same son. There are trees and vegetation. There is oxygen and a breeze. Cars and people, city noise and food. Though I am in a different place, in another part of the world, it is the same. We are the same. We are all human, with the same basic needs, and no matter WHERE on this planet you go, you will always find the same blue sky. The same son. The same moon, the same oxygen and water, edible food, modes of transportation, people speaking, noise of society, smells and fragrances and odors, ways of developing and harvesting... The universal world is one and the same while being diverse in the execution of same necessities.

5:00 PM

I am still here. One more hour!! I would love to go about and explore, but because I have the cart with the luggage it makes it difficult to run up and down stairs and peek around corners.
I bought one purchase when I first arrived, some Brazilian bread and strong espresso, but I forgot to call my credit card company and tell them I was traveling, so they have frozen my Visa. :'( Now I am hungry without any means to get food.
Almost time for my last flight!!! So excited!!

6:40 PM

As soon as I finished writing earlier, I went back to the check-in place I had gone before, and got in line for my boarding pass. 15 minutes later my bag was checked and I had my boarding pass and gate number. Thank You Jesus! :) I then proceeded to get on the elevator to go down a floor, but when the elevator doors opened, my boarding pass AND passport flew out of my hands and dropped just over the cracks in the floor where the elevator goes down. It was a panic moment, but thank you Jesus I retrieved them before they fell through the crack.
I went in circles a few times before I figured out where my terminal was, then I had to walk quite a ways to get there. Thankfully I had roughly 3 hours before my flight, so I didn't have to run. :) Because I was so early, I was able to get through security in a matter of minutes, and got to my gate! But then, I didn't see my flight listed anywhere. I got worried, and asked a few different people if they spoke English. No bueno. After about half an hour, I finally just handed my ticket to the lady next to me, and pointed to the flight screen. She understood the dilemma, and went to talk to an airport employee for me. A few minutes later she returned with my ticket and the gate number crossed out with a new number written. Aha! So I said thank you and went to find the new gate number, which wasn't too far away. Three hours later I boarded the flight and was on my way. :)

Sao Paulo

Friday, June 12

Brazil 2015: Day 1

I have wanted to fly for so long! Now here I am. I can't believe it. Who knew I would be on my way to BRAZIL right now?! Here I am. It's so surreal. Thank You, Father.
I LOVE it. I have enjoyed every minute of it. :)
Flying over Texas right now. I enjoyed the first flight, sitting between a nice Asian lady, Lee, and a friendly, helpful older gentleman on my right. I have a rather short attention span I think... I wrote a little, read some, and then found the Spanish music channel enjoyable and dozed off. 
Landing in Texas was exciting; lots of people at first! I immediately got directions and hopped on the SkyLine tram system, looking for gate D23. I hopped on the one that said gates C - E, thinking D would be in-between. Well, I probably hopped on the wrong one, because D was not in-between, but, eventually, I got to gate D. :)
The Texas airport was nice. It was big, and fun to explore, and everything was in English so I could find my way easily. 
When I first got off the plane one of the airport employee's said, "Welcome to Mexico!" My eyes got big and I responded, "We're not in Mexico, are we?!"  He laughed and assured me we were in Texas and it just felt like Mexico. For a second I was worried I had gotten on the wrong flight. :P 
One thing I noticed different in Texas, aside from everything being big, flat and dry, was that instead of signs saying "restrooms" the signs said "toilets". I found that to be amusing. 

Texas sunset


Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Wednesday, April 15

"I will take what is broken and torn and make it beautiful. Out of the depths I will build My Kingdom. Be strong and of good courage, for I am with you." ~ God

Wednesday, November 5

~ He Wants It All ~ Complete Surrender

~ He's searching for a heart that is desperate / and He says love me, love me with your whole heart ~
He wants it all today / Serve me, serve me with your life now / He wants it all today / Bow down, let go of your idols

He wants it all! He wants all of my heart. He wants all of me!

He's searching for a heart that is desperate.

Monday, October 20

To "be real" means being vulnerable with others. But so much more than that it means letting yourself see your own soul.

Saturday, January 4


We all dig our own ditches every now and then, or find ourselves in a ditch. It's when we've come to the end of ourselves, find ourselves at a low point in our life.
You're stuck in the bottom of a dark valley. You're alone, in pain or suffering, despair or resentment. You're struggling, with some weakness in your life, or just going through a difficult time.
It's a deep ditch, a pit we've fallen into, a hole we've dug or a hill we've slipped on.
Or, maybe, you've been following God your whole life and He's just---caused a heartache in your life, torn a great hole in your heart or stripped away many of your comforts and safeties in life.
And what we're struggling most with is, "why?"

Praise God for your ditches: He uses them to grow us.

A ditch is an impression in the ground. Something may have had to been torn out for the ditch to appear.
A precious flower may have been dug out of your heart, leaving a gaping hole.
Something had to be removed to leave an indent in the earth.

But from that ditch, from that hole in the soil of the ground, God is growing you.
A seed of repentance...a word of forgiveness...a glimmer of planted. In the midst of your pitfalls, you are rained upon with the Truth of God's Holy Word. His water washes over you, filling you up and giving you life. The ditch becomes a foundation for your roots in Christ.
Foul-smelling, unwelcome refuse is piled on you; your spirit is weighed down with the oppression of sin. But over time you become, in Christ, stronger, firmer, and more beautiful because of it. The stinky, rotten stuff of life you have to go through is causing you to be strengthened and built up in Christ.

Lives fragrant with the Love of Christ, flowers blossoming with the light of His countenance, and hearts softened to the Word of His Truth, are grown from the ditches in our life.  

Maybe there are some things in your life that need to be worked out. Maybe some healing needs to take place in the gym room upstairs. You know, muscles have to be torn in order to grow stronger.
Maybe God needs to tear your heart a little to grow you stronger.

Praise God for the dark valleys. Praise God for your ditches.

Tuesday, May 21

How do you Capture Beauty?

How do you capture beauty?
How do you be truly, TRULY thankful for all of the wonderful things our LORD has provided for us?
Is it being fully filled with awe and wonder?

Of course you can 'capture' beauty by the snapshot of a camera. Or the sketching of a picture. Or the describing of what you see.
But that's not truly capturing the beauty! And I don't mean capturing it like taking it all to hoard for yourself and hold inside you. I mean capturing it. Like how Jesus captures us. How you capture the full essence of something to its very fullest. How you feel it to its fullest.
Is that what capturing beauty is? Fully feeling it?
I just want to take it all in, drink it all up, feel all of it, be thankful for all of it...! How can you be the most thankful? What is true thankfulness...just saying "thank you"? It doesn't seem enough.
But then again, anything we ever do is never enough. Only Jesus' blood covers it all, cleanses our sins, and purifies us enough so that we can enter into His courts with thanksgiving and praise. We are forever indebted to Him, for what He has done for us. Only He is enough.

Thankfulness is described as gratitude, or, a lively sense of good received. "The love of God is the sublimest gratitude" (Noah Webster). And "gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor... Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty."

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Beauty. Capturing it all. Giving it all. Wondering at it all. 
What can I say?

Thank You Heavenly Father for all of this. 

:) It's so beautiful outside today. 

Monday, May 6

Giving In... To Grace

I am not a fighter. I give in easily.
This becomes a great problem when dealing with temptations. I give in, 'cause I don't want to fight... It's been ingrained in my brain that you must fight temptations.
But the other night, as I was writing my prayer to God, I began to write "Help me not to [give in to temptation]..." but it suddenly dawned upon me. I crossed it out. Retry; I wrote "Help me give in to grace." Give in to grace. He seemed to be whispering in my ear, "You don't have to fight. Give in. Don't fight; give in to grace." Give in! It's not a question of fighting temptation, but of giving in to grace. Look to the compassionate eyes of Christ, not the condeming eyes of Satan. Focus on the good of the Giver, not the bad of the Taker. When you fill your thoughts with Heaven, Earth's promises are less than desirable. "The end of a thing is better than the beginning." Every little choice I make now leads me one step closer to Christ or one step closer to Satan. There is no in-between. Are you dwelling on what is right and true?
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." - James 4:7, NIV Bible

What a Friend we have in Jesus - Written by Joseph M. Scriven 

What a friend we have in Jesus, 
 all our sins and griefs to bear! 
 What a privilege to carry 
 everything to God in prayer! 
 O what peace we often forfeit,
 O what needless pain we bear, 
 all because we do not carry 
 everything to God in prayer. 

 Have we trials and temptations? 
 Is there trouble anywhere? 
 We should never be discouraged; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 
 Can we find a friend so faithful 
 who will all our sorrows share? 
 Jesus knows our every weakness; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 

 Are we weak and heavy laden, 
 cumbered with a load of care? 
 Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 
 Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
 Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
 In his arms he'll take and shield thee; 
 thou wilt find a solace there.

Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Crying Out To God

After all these years, I still don’t fully understand prayer. It’s something of a mystery to me. But one thing I know: When we’re in desperate need, prayer springs naturally from our lips and from the deepest level of our hearts.
When we’re frightened out of our wits, when we’re pushed beyond our limits, when we’re pulled out of our comfort zones, when our well-being is challenged and endangered, we reflexively and involuntarily resort to prayer. “Help, Lord!” is our natural cry.
Author Eugene Peterson wrote: “The language of prayer is forged in the crucible of trouble. When we can’t help ourselves and call for help, when we don’t like where we are and want out, when we don’t like who we are and want a change, we use primal language, and this language becomes the root language of prayer.”
Prayer begins in trouble, and it continues because we’re always in trouble at some level. It requires no special preparation, no precise vocabulary, no appropriate posture. It springs from us in the face of necessity and, in time, becomes our habitual response to every issue—good and bad—we face in this life (Phil. 4:6). What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer!
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer. —Scriven
God’s help is only a prayer away.

Saturday, April 20

3 Things to Hold on to in a World Falling Apart

She just says it so beautifully, all these feelings. 

Be blessed by this post from Ann Voskamp's website:

On a Thursday night, the two of us wake and lie under the pelting of the roof with a thousand lashes of glass.
His fingers find mine.
I half smile in the dark. How he knows, how the way to live through life’s lashing is to lash yourself to love, to God. The ice whips on at the windows.
The wind slaps. Trees creak loud.
As if you could freeze Spring over.
As if the fiery lake it self could just right freeze over, and what if that was a thing?
For hell to freeze over and evil to cease and the bombs and explosions and houses of horrors and the bluing everyday suffering that goes on down the street and across town and right now close, to just sheet over placid and still. Yeah, that. Please?
By Friday morning, nothing turns on.
Not the lights, the heat, the water. Just the crazy loud kids. You can see it from the kitchen, how the lines are downed and iced sheathed and the world’s turned off, gone stone deaf.
And that’s what you want, to turn off that blaring TV and those nattering talking heads, rip out the power lines to the news and the streams of headlines flashing callous, get numbed and shut down and eat another big square of chocolate with your fingers slid through someone’s, wait till Somebody stops the madness, stops the chaos, and just brings spring.
Cold, Mama… everything is ice cold out there Mama.
Ice swathes every blade of greening grass. The clothespins are entombed shut. Kids hold up tree buds mummified in glass. The world seems upended, disoriented, wrong.
Narnia, Mom! The land of the white witch, always winter, never spring…. Levi holds up a broken branch, and I shake my head, no. No.
The lane’s a sheen, answers so slippery.
When it’s hard to keep your footing is right when you have to keep your faith.
All of Friday and Saturday and Sunday, for over 60 hours, there’s no hydro.
Sunday morning, the farmers with no hydro, they drive in late like us, park in the country chapel’s gravel yard, and one by one, they fill the sanctuary, us, the women and the kids and the men without power knowing where to come, knowing that when you don’t know, you still know where to come. When we were powerless…  
And I watch farmers’ hands, gnarled and work creased, how they raise them and fold them and slide them into pockets, the powerless who can do the powering thing and  come.
Monday, a bomb goes off and then another one, and we stagger, life on this side of the race is hard right to the finish.
And Tuesday there’s Gosnell and we’d rather turn away  and in bearing witness, we bear the weight of glory, of God who bears sins and rises, and redemption requires testimony.
And Wednesday night a cloud lifts the sky over Texas and balls of fire fly and marriages wither and headlines scream and babies cry and prodigals run farther and who can even ask why?
Whole sheets of ice slide off the roof and everything’s falling and fallen, turned upside down, and in our falling, in all our falling —
there’s only one Tree reaching out of the sheer rock face going down.
You’ve got to reach for the only Hope.
In the midst of the pelting and the exploding and all this breaking, we grab hold of the One Tree, the Tree on which He hung, and we hold on to Him with all we have, those beams stretched wide open to catch us.
There’s nothing else to hold on to but God.
But who knew in the falling, when we thought we were reaching —  the limbs of that Tree, that love, were reaching for us.
In our falling — it’s the Tree that catches us.
It’s the Tree that’s holding you. When you’re trying to just hold on, is when He’s really holding on to you.
God. has. it. 
He has you.
Instead of explaining our suffering, God shares it — because He knows mere answers are cold and His arms are warm.
The tips of the branches drip all across the fields.
And the woods weep.
And the cold and the bloodied and the messy are held.
The kids stand under reaching limbs, the weeping, their cheeks wet.
And through the washing tears of the world, we see and taste the tears of God.