Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Africa Came To Me!

This past week has without a doubt been the highlight of the last two years of my life. I was honored and totally crazy excited to host the Young Africans at my home church. This group of young people were a part of the African Children's Choir about 10 years ago. Since returning home to Uganda and Kenya, they have been going to school (through the sponsorship of awesome people in the West). They just completed secondary school and are about to begin college and fulfill the dreams God has placed in their hearts. This is the first time Music For Life has brought back a group of kids to show what happens as they grow up in the MFL program after touring as children. It was so exciting to see how God has worked in their lives and the hopes and dreams they have had that are becoming a reality!

My Ugandan manager and friend, Abraham, is tour leader for this group and it was so fun to see him again. Having Abraham and the Young Africans here was better than I ever imagined. I cried when they left. Not so much out of sadness, but the emotion of the whole experience-the joy, the thankfulness, the touching of the deepest recesses of my heart. I came alive again. My eyes sparkled, and I was reminded how much Africa and her people have captured my heart. I need to be involved. I don't know how God will allow me to be a part of the ACC family in the future, but this week re-ignited the flame and my passion came back.

Planking in our youth room!!!

My heart is overwhelmed with joy to see the response of my church family to the choir. The advertising paid off and the community turned out to pack the FBC auditorium. I was thrilled! All the host families were deeply touched and I have gotten reports from people whose lives are forever changed. So many people were able to share first hand this week in something that is so important to me and shaped so much of who I am. I just can't wipe the smile off my face :)

There is a bit of a let down now that they are gone. Even though I know I need to rest, I miss their presence, and I miss the person that I am around them. Lord, help me be inspired and excited each day as I live and serve you, no matter where I am or who I'm with.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fear Conquering

We all have our fears...

some more than others.

I would never have considered myself a fearful person...until this year. Between my health problems, nervous system issues, several traumatic experiences, and an insecure crumbling world I have found myself plagued with many fears. Some logical and some not so much. I don't enjoy fear.at.all. My biggest fear is that I will never get rid of this fear. I know I can't be alone in this battle against fear. People don't talk about it much but I know it's there.

I know I can't just will the fear away, so I meditate on scriptures that talk about God not giving us a Spirit of fear. I tell myself, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." I take baby steps to overcome the fear.

This weekend was a big weekend of fear conquering for me. It might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I am feeling empowered.

First I drove a 4-wheeler!!! I haven't tried to drive one since I nearly flipped one and died in New Zealand in 2004. It was so much fun :)

Then, I gathered my courage and jumped on a zip line (dang-the picture is a little blurry). It wasn't a big one, but it made my heart beat fast!

The weekend was full of other small steps toward becoming more independent again and gaining freedom from my fear. Thank you Jesus for your help! I feel more free and excited about life again every day.
So what are you afraid of? What can you do today to help conquer that fear? Whatever it is, know that you are not alone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Sparkle is Back...

2012......A New Year, new ideas, new opportunities, new hopes, dreams, and goals. 2011 was a rough year for me, full of physical and mental struggles, yet beautiful because of the work I know God did on me. I've been hammered and chiseled, and though I'm not even close to finished yet, I am new. My outlook on life is different. I believe God is at work in a big way all around me and in me and I look forward with great expectation and hope to this coming year. It's been reported that the sparkle is back in my eye. My passions and dreams took a backseat while I underwent some construction, but I'm happy to see them re-surfacing as I get healthy again. I plan to start blogging again more often to keep you-the lovely blogging world-updated on my crazy, beautiful, challenging, gluten free, egg free, sugar free, yet ever so delicious life! Thanks to those who have prayed with me and stuck with me through this hard season of my life. Here's to 2012!

*I'm looking forward to spending more time with my beautiful sister this year!*

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tunnel 13: A Hidden Jewel

I love adventures. I love off the beaten path fun. I love history. Tunnel 13 is all these things.

On a recent perfect, sunny fall day a friend of mine took me to this place of history and mystery.

This little known attraction is located off the freeway exit for Mt. Ashland and the trail begins just across the street from Callaghans Restaurant. We walked through the 3,000 + foot tunnel and back. It was dark and cold and water dripped on my head. There was a point in the middle that it was so dark I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I could barely make out shapes on the ground and the thought went through my head.."that could be a pop can, or it could be a rock...or it could be a rat. Who knows"

After emerging back into the sunlight, we pulled out a book and read in detail the story of the Last Great American Train Robbery. Exactly 88 years ago, on October 11th, 1923 history was made in this tunnel. Brothers, Ray, Roy, and Hugh D'Autremonts heard a rumor that a train coming through here would be carrying up to half a million dollars in gold. They decided this was their chance to get rich and make a name for themselves. So they jumped aboard the train and blew it up with dynamite. Sadly, they were mistaken...there was no gold, many people lost their lives in the explosion, and after being on the run for several years the boys spent most of their lives in prison. You can read more details here if you are interested :)

Today, there are no signs to mark this place or tell the stories. It is just home to a bunch of lizards. But it's a great place to walk around, practice photography, and have a little mini adventure. I love it :)

So go out and do something adventurous today..no matter how big or small. You won't regret it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pumpkin Season!

In honor of fall...my favorite season...an explosion of pumpkin! I found an ode to the pumpkin that sums it up much more eloquently than I ever could, over at glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com. Please allow me to share:

"We found our favorite canned organic pumpkin back on the store shelves this week. So be prepared for pumpkin recipes. I, for one, Darling, can't get enough. Pumpkin is my favorite fall ingredient. Maybe because it cozies up to gluten-free flours so well. It adds moisture and depth to g-free baked goods. It flirts with cinnamon and ginger like the sexiest, inscrutable movie star. You know what I'm talking about. It's not overt. Or blatant. It's not over the top. It is subtle. Secure. Pumpkin doesn't demand to be admired.

Because it doesn't have to prove itself.

It's not a bully flavor that crushes gentler flavors in its wake. It doesn't bark and claw to be Top Dog twenty-four seven. It doesn't have a deep seated need to own the room, to dominate, to control the ingredients it shares a bowl with. Pumpkin goes with the flow. It likes vanilla. And it likes chocolate.

You could say, it's bi-flavorful.

Which as it so happens, is a quality I admire. Even embody and embrace. Because life is brimming with diversity. Life is rich and complicated, sticky and glorious. And for every preference I may think I cherish, there are sure to be a dazzling array of alternative preferences twinkling beyond my peripheral vision like so many bokeh jewels.

Read more: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2010/10/gluten-free-pumpkin-muffins.html#ixzz1YvMKV4Ol"

These are some off the beaten path pumpkin recipes I am trying this season...

Veggie Pumpkin Seed Quinoa Salad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Great is Our God

I don't know about you, but I need a daily dose of perspective with the way that life is lately. When everything around me seems to be falling apart and everyone around me is struggling with all kinds of issues it's easy to become discouraged and forget exactly Who is in charge and how AWESOME He is. I needed to be reminded today how BIG God is and how much He cares, so I popped in the Louie Giglio DVD How Great is Our God. It leaves me in awe every time and reminds me how small and insignificant my worries are. If you have never seen this DVD I highly recommend it. Check out this link to see a snippet of the video about Laminin, the amazing protein God created that holds us all together.

May your worries fade today as you melt into the arms of Jesus :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I will never be able to watch reality television the same way after this week. It's Hollywood, people...lots of staging and lots of re-takes. I have often watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and wondered what really went on behind the scenes. Well now I know! Ty, Paul, Ed, Paige, and the rest of the awesome crew from EMHE pulled into town and surprised a very special and deserving family this week: CJ and Lindsay McPhail and their three sweet boys (whom I have met on several occasions!). I was excited and honored to be able to help out in some small way...even though my shift was after the big reveal. I watched the house go up all week and saw the community come together to raise over $50,000 and help in so many ways. For hours I waited in anticipation with nearly 1,000 others to yell MOVE THAT BUS and see the family's first glimpse of their fabulous new home. Then after all the excitement was over I spent the day picking up garbage, moving barricades, taking apart signs, dancing, singing, and chatting with the crew and some great local people with big hearts. The day after the reveal the family was still filming their reactions to the inside of the house and twice I was asked to be in a scene, but then they canceled on me. O well...I don't have a need to be on television or be famous. It was just exciting to help.

Everybody wanted to be a part of this project or at least talk about it...but why? I have been asking myself this question, as I know some of the rest of you in this area have too. It's fun to have a project that the whole community can be involved in. And of course it is exciting to have film stars like Ty Pennington in town, and camera crews, and the chance to get a few seconds of fame. Maybe it's the chance to get one of those signature blue Extreme Makeover t-shirts to prove that we were involved. But when there are no shirts involved, no camera crews or publicity, and no movie stars, there will still be thousands of hurting and needy people in this valley-people with no home at all, children who struggle with illnesses, mothers who fight every day to be able to feed their children, families that are breaking apart. Will we care about those people? Will we do something about it? Will we rally around those in need to love them and meet their needs? Will we pool our resources to take care of one another? I loved watching this community rally around the McPhails this week. It is my hope and prayer that this would be the beginning of a revival here in the Rogue Valley. Let's continue to love and serve one another, people. Let us glorify God and live in true community as he intended us to live. What do you say? Will you join me in praying for this community and reaching out to those around you?