Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thoughts while packing

Thoughts while packing:

1. I hate living out of a suitcase

2. Why does it take me FOREVER to pack? Oh yes, because I am slightly (in an over-the-top sort of way) obsessive compulsive.

3. Regardless of what time I start packing, I can never get to bed at a decent hour.

4. I always feel bad that I'm not spending time with my mom before I leave.

5. While packing, it never fails. My thoughts ALWAYS turn toward what packing for Africa will be like. I'll have to start months in advance just so I can be sure to have time to watch TV with my mom and have appropriate closure. In the back of my mind, I worry I'll cut it too close. Isn't that weird?

6. Though I hate packing...and living out of a suitcase...and the "WHERE DID I PUT MY NAIL CLIPPERS??? questions, I love, love, love seeing people I love and miss so dearly. I am flying to Austin, Texas tomorrow on a flight that leaves WAAAAY too early, but I will be spending the weekend with some of my favorite people that I never get to see. People who have been agents of transformation in my life. People who make me laugh like no other. People who I can reminisce about the old days with and we laugh until our sides hurt. People whose children are now way too big. I love them, and am sure there will be stories. Thank you, Delta Skymiles. 439 flights later, I get something in return.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

As a kid, we were taught the little tune "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day." I was leaving a friend's house today, and it was raining. I noticed my first reaction was to be negative about the rain that was falling. My first thought was not to be thankful for the life and restoration it would bring for the grass and flowers. As I drove home I had, what I feel, is a semi-profound thought.

My friend Vera, a missionary in Kenya, has been writing quite a bit about the perils of not having rain. At this point in the year, the rains in Kenya should have already begun, but they have not. Untold struggles have ensued, and the country is DESPERATE for rain. As I drove home, I thought about what their reaction would be if the rain was falling on them as they were leaving their homes. Would they complain that they didn't have a jacket to keep dry, or that it would mess up their hair? NO! Their reaction, after such drought and lack of rain, would be to REJOICE! They would celebrate that their prayer had been answered. There would probably be some jumping involved.

As I drove, it dawned on me: The rain WILL come. We are not guaranteed a sun-filled existence. There are hard days. People say mean things. Our teams lose games. Our work is unappreciated. Friends don't call back. The bills never seem to get lost in the mail. Deadlines fall at the same time. But when the rain comes...when times are hard, it is our choice, MY choice, to complain or to rejoice. I want to be found rejoicing for the rain. Thanking God that He can bring growth and new life from it. Thank you Vera, for the reminders to pray for rain, and for the invitation to rejoice when it falls.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Triple A Saves the Day...Troy, Alabama Style

I have never really liked driving through Alabama. It's a long state that, in my opinion, lacks the "wow" factor in the scenery department. There are 2 landmarks that are sort of interesting, the USA Rocket that welcomes you in, and the peach watertower in Clanton many miles later. But other than that, there's not much to look at, and the road is kind of a weird bumpy kind that makes you feel like you're driving on the rumble strips. (Don't get me wrong. There are some amazing people in Alabama...dear friends of mine even. I just am not a fan of what they have to look at and drive on, is all.)

So, I was driving along 231 circa Troy, Alabama, when I saw something in front of me on the road. I thought I was far enough over to dodge it, but the next thing I know, I hear a loud POP, and suddenly was driving on the rim of my front tire. I coast into the shady Shell gas station (that I have always avoided on EVERY trip through Troy) and come to a stop at probably the most awkward spot in the tiny pea-sized parking lot. I call AAA and they say they will be there in an hour. Keep in mind, this place is pretty shady. While I'm waiting, a lady (who I assume works at the Shady Shell Station) told me to move my car. I told her that I'd love to, but that my tire is non-existent. When AAA did finally show up, the same lady came out and told him to move his truck too. Really? Can you not see that he's trying to FIX MY TIRE?!

So, I had to find my way to a tire place in Troy, Alabama, rolling on 3 tires and a donut. The guys at Troy's Discount Tire on 231 totally redeemed the situation. They took care of my flat tire and got me on my way quickly. As I continued my drive South, I thought to myself, "MAN! Didn't see THAT coming!!" And I learned some things from this:

1. The lady at the Shady Shell Station maybe forgot her glasses that morning.
2. I need to start taking my camera places. (sorry for the lack of pictures. Perhaps on my way back, I'll stop and say thanks to my friend at the Shady Shell Station and take a picture with her...or maybe not.)
3. Unexpected situations, though they cannot be planned for, must be handled with grace just the same. I'm almost certain I need a do-over on this one.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Random Musings and Wonderings

There has been a lot going on lately, but I still have yet to get into the bloggy mood. But here I am at 11:30 at night and I'm ready to type some of the most random thoughts I'm having at the moment...some serious, some not so serious. Too tired to edit, so it is what it is.

1. Yesterday, I was waiting to turn at a stop light and I saw a truck next to me that read, "We cater weddings." At second glance, I noticed it was a garbage truck. Still trying to figure that one out.

2. I'm reading a book called As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. The book tells the stories of a handful of Rwandans whose lives were deeply scarred during the 100 days of killing that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The chapters are woven together so beautifully to show that each person, regardless of their pain, is on the path toward forgiveness. There are those who saw their family murdered before their very eyes who are choosing to forgive those responsible. There are those in the story who have had to learn to forgive themselves as well. Hands that once grasped weapons to harm now grasp the Word of Truth as they learn to forgive themselves. As each story is told, it is clear that running through each story is a strange transaction that trades in hatred for love, fear for peace, and shame for restoration. Often times, the victims and perpetrators become friends and even live side-by-side in the same village. As I have been reading, I'm coming to understand forgiveness in a new way. Mine toward others, mine toward myself, and the forgiveness bought in that strange transaction called the cross. Where my crimson stains were made white as snow and I was given the robe of righteousness instead of despair and shame. May I continue to accept, offer, and receive forgiveness afresh.

3. Ever wonder why, when you can't find something after you are CERTAIN you have looked for it EVERYWHERE POSSIBLE that you find it when you don't need it anymore? Yeah, that happened twice today. And then you find out there was JUST ONE PLACE you didn't look. That will drive you crazy.

4. It's kind of ridiculous that there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday. NEWSFLASH: IT'S APRIL! The good news is that I will be in the panhandle of Florida by then, unscathed by the sub-zero (okay not really) temperatures. I'll be heading south on my first trip as I build my prayer and support team. I'm very excited to see old friends, and connect with churches in the area. I'll post more while I'm there. Even if it's just pictures of the beach to make you jealous.

5. I'm finding that being a missionary is kind of like being a rockstar. More on that later. And you missionary people out there TOTALLY know what I mean.

Okay, that's enough randomness for one night. More later...If you've read this far, you're a real friend. :)