Tuesday, December 30, 2008
thirteen years ago today my little brother adam was born. we had prayed (as little kids would) that it would be after christmas because dad said if mom was in the hospital when santa came, that we would have to wait to open all of our presents when she got home. right before the new year seemed like a good time.
thirteen years ago tomorrow i put on my new christmas clothes and packed some new christmas toys into my new christmas purse and road in the van with my family to the hospital where we gathered in mom's hospital room (and i snuck bites of her pudding). this was the first time i saw my baby brother adam.
today i put on my new christmas sweatshirt and wrapped myself in my new christmas scarf (given to me by adam), my wallet filled with christmas money, and headed to walmart to buy a present for adam's thirteenth birthday. i instinctively went to the toy aisle, but then realized - he's not a kid anymore. he is now a teenager. he doesn't collect hot wheels or play with coloring books. he doesn't play hi ho cheerio or play dough (though i know i sure would). we now like the same tv shows (lost and chuck) and we both stay up late to watch them. my brother is a teenager.
where does the time go? in the room where he now sleeps until past noon, i once sat on a rocking chair and fed him his bottle as i sang him to sleep. now he's only an inch shorter than me and can do mathmatical equations in the time it takes me to find my calculator. my baby brother is growing up.
today we will celebrate adam's day of birth by playing his new favorite game - heroscape. we'll finish our evening by watching the dark knight and eating ice cream cake. i am reminded of how fast time goes and how much my little brother has grown up and how much he will grow up. thank you, Lord, for blessing me with such a wonderful brother who will soon grow into a wonderful man. happy birthday, adam.
Friday, December 26, 2008
this evening, my grandpa recounted the story of the day at the courthouse. he spoke of the emotional caseworker who enthusiastically gave her approval for the adoption and of my cousin's understanding that now he had a new last name (one he's been trying to go by for some time now). at end of the process, the grandfather-like judge addresses the group saying: "as of THIS MOMENT, you have a new name. you no longer will go by your old name. you are a part of this family." he then turns to my aunt and uncle and instruct them: "this means that he is to receieved the same inheritance that you would give your own children. he is now YOUR child." grandpa continued to tell the story, but my thoughts were stuck on the judge's word choice: INHERITANCE.
"He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:5).we have been adopted as sons of God. i knew the concept but i don't think i ever reflected on its implications. the judge was telling my aunt and uncle that my adopted cousin gets the same rights and priviledges as their biological child. and when they die, their inheritance is to be shared equally. their biological son is to get no special treatment over their adopted son. they are equal partakers.
"for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household..." (ephesians 2:18-19). paul (a man of the nation of israel) writes this to the gentiles in ephesus. a biological son to an adopted son, so to speak. he continues in 3:6: "...the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel... (3:6).
we are fellow heirs to the interitance which the Father has qualified us for (colossians 1:12), because our adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 peter 1:3-5)
Monday, December 08, 2008
"and i heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. and he who was seated on the throne said, 'behold I am making all things new.'" - revelation 21:3-5
death isn't supposed to happen. God did not create this world with the intention of death. He knew it would happen, yes. but that was not his intention. our souls were not created to experience such a separation. it isn't supposed to be this way. in john's revelation, he hears the proclaimation above. when the heavens and the earth pass away and the new heavens and new earth come, God will dwell with his people.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
DEATH SHALL BE NO MORE.
neither shall there be mourning
nor pain anymore
the former things - death, crying, pain - have passed away. this isn't how it's supposed to be.
my grandmother passed away this weekend.
my soul cries out, "this isn't how it's supposed to be!" and it makes me long ever more for that day when we will dwell in the city of our LORD and He will dwell among us, wiping every tear from our eyes, and where death shall be no more. the pain points me to His love - because it is His love that lasts forever. by the blood of Jesus Christ, we experience that LOVE. we have that HOPE.
on Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. but what does this mean to us today? it means that God came to live among us, just for a short time, so that we might KNOW Him and believe in Him, and that God Himself in human form (that is, Jesus Christ) would take the penalty for OUR SINS (for yours, for mine, for the sins of Adam and of the human race) that he could CONQUOR DEATH by raising from the dead and giving those who believe in HIM victory over death in that we might live eternally with our LORD. praise be to God.
what is more, Christ has sent to us the Holy Spirit. this is our comforter while we wait for His return.
through Him we find peace. through Him we have hope. in Him there is LIFE. and that's the way it's supposed to be.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
nestle hot chocolate: 10 packets for $1.00
Saturday, November 29, 2008
my brother, eric, is the centerpiece of this gathering. seated on the sofa with his guitar, the serene look in his eyes as he strums his guitar gives him the look of a classic rock singer "without the angst." across the room from him sits my uncle bob. as eric plays, uncle bob closes his eyes and is suddently taken captive by the music. in his face, you see him float to another place. you see a part of his soul come alive.
come back with me twenty-five or thirty years prior...
the scene looks familiar. gathered in a shabbier looking living room, the crowd - now quite a bit younger - is gathered around the same center-piece. bob strums passionately, songs of rock or folk like "me and julio" or songs he has written. the family sings along. his younger brother, scott, plays the autoharp from his seat on the floor. their nieces (who are a little younger than scott), tami and cheryl, are harmonizing with their uncles from the couch by the window. brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews gather round to join in. this family has been through their share of pains and joys over the past year, which makes the music all the sweeter. this is what thanksgiving is made of. the joyous sounds of a family's celebration of life and love.
fast forward to thanksgiving 2008. the family has changed. some have passed on and new ones have joined. the next generation now gathers around the guitar. bob reaches for the guitar to teach eric to play, "me and julio," and eric seranades us with the song that he has written. abby runs upstairs to print off lyrics for songs like "hey there deliliah" and "knockin' on heaven's door" - with larger print copies for the older folk.
the evening ends with a six-verse chorus of amazing grace. in five or six part harmony. thanksgiving at its finest: our voices joining together in celebration of what we are most thankful for.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
one of the aspects i love about the northeast is that winter never (usually) comes at full force; mother nature slowly warms (rather - cools) us up to winter's stormy blast. (i say usually due to the freak snowstorm we had a couple of weeks ago.) as the warm summer sun slowly faded, autumns cool breezes came and brought about a beautiful, colorful landscape all around us. driving through new england last month, i wanted to capture the magnificance, bottle it, and save it for later. some things don't last forever. yet even in the beauty of autumn, there is an eery feeling of the impending winter. as the leaves fall from their places on the trees, mother nature warns us: "it's coming." the geese fly south. the stores string their christmas lights. we don our winter coats and scarves. winter is coming.
walking around in this winter wonderland of christmas music, peppermint lattes, and decorated trees, my heart feels this sensation of excitement. winter is coming. excitement? excitement for the very season i was dreading three months ago? how can this be? i feel excitement for warm sweaters, for fires in the fireplace, for egg nog, candy canes, family, pumpkin pie, and even snow, yes even for snow. the cold is bitter and yet my heart is filled with joy. the very thing that i dreaded now brings me excitement and hope. and i know that some things don't last forever. the holiday cheer will soon give way to hope for spring and sunshine again. some things don't last forever.
these past few weeks i have found myself dreading the ambiguity of life after college, much like i was dreading winter. "i must soak up all that i can from these last few classes, these last few rays of sunshine, and bottle them up inside of me, i can save it for the dreary days of after graduation," i tell myself. yet some things don't last forever. the Lord proves to teach me a lesson from nature once again: there is joy in the winter. it will not look the same or feel the same. my hot cocoa does not taste like an afternoon on the beach, but it is special and wonderful in its own way, in its own time. i don't know what life after graduation will look like or feel like, but even though bitter winds may blow, i can trust that there will be moments of holiday-like joy.
what does last forever? "the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting," (psalm 103). God's love is from spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, and winter to spring. it is His love where i should find my joy as i delight in spring trips to the park, summer days at the beach, autumn drives through new england, and winter evenings by the fire. it is God's love that i need to rest in while i am writing my paper for class, as i am worried about healthcare benefits, and when i walk across the stage on may 16th.
some things don't last forever. but we put our hope in what does.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
another blessing - by moving the trip day ONE DAY FORWARD, we were able to knock $500 off of our airfare tickets. get one more day in bosnia and reduce the price by $500? well that's a no-brainer!
our team, as we get to know one another.
our trip leaders.
our finances, as we beging to send out support letters.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
when susie first told me about it, i knew i was going to go. as a chance to experience my field of study in the cross-cultural context, i felt like it's a step forward toward seeing how counseling and missions fit together. i am VERY excited to see what that is going to be like, and not too sure what to expect.
you may be saying the same thing my brother said, "but that's not poland!" it's true, i'm branching out! ;-) i think that this opportunity is going to be an experience that will definitely benefit me for future ministry whether that be in poland, philadelphia, or portland. (the latter was chosen for alliteration, nothing more.) i will have a chance to see and experience how the skills i am learning now can be used in a cross-cultural setting.
our team is made up of susie, lisa, and seven (hopefully eight!) counseling/social work students who have an interest in overseas missions. we had our first team meeting today, and i am very excited to get to know everyone more as we work together over the next few months.
please pray for us! we'll begin our support raising endeavor within the next week (needing to be at 100% by FEBRUARY!) and will be meeting together as a team at least once a month.
i'm excited to see how God is bringing this trip together, and even more so excited to see what He is going to do with it.
Friday, October 17, 2008
i so deeply wish i could be there!
knowing that they were gathering today makes me miss them even more. the group is going to put together a book for jagoda's parents of pictures and letters. i'm going to send rebecca a letter of mine to add into the book.
yesterday i gave blood. it's something i have always been afraid to do, but i did it with jagoda in mind. maybe my blood can be used to help someone like her.
now, my heart is very heavy. i cried for about a half hour today. a good friend told me that sometimes moments of grief come when you least expect it. i was driving out to panera bread while listening to the radio. the song that came on talked about two men fighting at war and only one came home. the one who returned lived with the question, "why wasn't it me?" that got me thinking more about jagoda. why wasn't it me? she wasn't even driving. i drive almost every day. why wasn't it me? i found myself crying out to God, "why did You take her?" i didn't want an answer. i don't want an answer. i don't need an answer. "why did You take her?" i know it has purpose. i know God is good. but i also feel anger and disappointment. "why did You take her?" that's part of grief.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
i'd been avoiding this blog because i knew at one point i would have to write that. her picture sits on my desk now, and i look at her beautiful face every day. we shared a similar smile. i miss her terribly, and i know that my visits to poland will never be the same without her.
we had even talked about going to eurocup 2012 together in wrocław.
i know that God brought our lives together for a purpose. our connection was so strong and my love for her so deep. i know it could have only been because of God.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Just a quick update on our friend Jagoda. As of today (Wednesday), she is still in intensive care, and still unconscious. It’s been a month now, so we are more than a little concerned. She has had three surgeries and is on kidney support. The reports are vague, but she is expected to be in ICU for another couple of months. Please continue to pray! She is in a hospital outside of Jelenia Góra.
i thank you for your continued prayers!
Friday, August 08, 2008
here are links to the articles:
Polish Red Cross (a call for blood donations)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
FIRST OF ALL, yesterday i went to the dentist (something i should have done MONTHS ago) and on the way back i saw a sign which read, "FRESH KIELBASA $2.99." "that's interesting," i thought, "i bet a polish market would advertise something like that..." and i quickly turned into the parking lot. lo and behold, there stood a polish-american market. i walked in and my eyes were caught by the DOZENS of brands of european chocolate which lined the small aisle. across from that, the meat counter where there was indeed fresh kielbasa among other meats. behind the meats were fresh polish pastries and above them, polish candies. the owner must have sensed my excitement (and the fact that i was a brand new customer) and came over to introduce himself. i told him how i had just been to poland and was so excited to have found his store. he told me his story in coming to the states and told me to make myself at home, and i could practice my polish there i liked. the store only consisted of two aisles, but they were filled with polish and european products that i have never seen in this country - juice, candy, soup packets (see, it's the simple things!), water (yes, bottled polish water!), as well as polish magazines, books, cds, and dvds. with what little cash i had, i purchased "jabłko mięta" tymbark juice (apple mint!) and promised to come back soon to buy some fresh kielbasa. as i got in my car, i turned on a polish song from a mix my friend beth had made and was so THANKFUL to have gotten to step back into that world. i thought about the language and that even hearing the "polish ryhthm" in the man's voice made me feel so at home. what is it about that language for me? it makes me melt. (the man at the store told me that the best way to learn the language is to get a polish boyfriend, haha!) hearing the language in my own country makes me want to cry tears of joy because it reminds me of what i love so much. i cannot explain my love for this country, the language, or its people other than it is what God has put on my heart. and even though while i am away, it hurts - i thank Him so much for it.
my summer continues to be incredible. there are hard times, and i am definitely feeling growing pains and the tension that comes along with growing up. at the same time, i am SEEING how God is working in and through me HERE, and that is amazing. in my journal on june 6th i wrote, "i am willing to do hard things, as long as (and i don't want to put stipulations, but as a request) i can have some joy interspersed... sunsets on the lake, late night outings with becca, random road trips, fellowship with ashley." i am AWED to see now, nearly two months later, that's EXACTLY what i've received - PLUS SOME. plus more joy and exciting adventures that i could have imagined and more growing experiences that i'm surviving.
if that's not enough, just when i ran low on my money - that's when i receive a call from my dad asking, "when are you avaiable to work? you can start tomorrow." today i started a data entry job at my dad's company. it's a place where there are familiar faces and they are flexible with my schedule. (plus, i get to see my dad and brother during the day!)
my heart is so overwhelmed with evidences of God's faithfulness and goodness in my life.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Saturday, July 05, 2008
please continue to pray for the students, that God would work in their lives! and the the staff that we would love them well and have strength and patience and enough sleep! =)
Monday, June 30, 2008
i'm really excited about this year's camp. it's definitely going to be different - we have younger students who are more advanced in english. but i'm looking forward to seeing what God has planned.
here are some of my latest pictures!
to introduce you to the people you'll see here:
ANDREA -- SEND missionary in lubin, poland. she came to pick me up from the airport and then saturday night we went to lubin where i got to visit the coffee house for church sunday morning.
REBECCA -- english teacher here at the language school. we were teammates last year at camp and have been close ever since. she's like my big sister (people even tell us we look alike!).
JOSHUA -- SEND missionary here in wrocław at the language school. we went through short term training together last summer and he's been keeping me updating on life here during the year.
SCOTT, JACKIE, & DAVY -- missionaries with a baptist mission; scott and jackie are on a two-year term living nearby. davy has been here five times and will come back in the fall for a two-year term.
my other teammates include: rebecca (another one!), beth, agniezka (my roommate from last camp), and marek (director of the camp).
please pray for us over the next couple of weeks during the camp!
* pray that the leadership team is united and that we could love and encourage one another well
* pray for STRENGTH, patience, and boldness in the leaders
* pray for the students that they will hear and understand the message with their hearts, as well as with their ears
over the past few months, God has been teaching me about living one day at a time. that lesson is becoming even more intense here. i do want my life to glorify God and i won't always know what that exactly means right away. and not strictly planning out and controlling my life and my future. i'll write more about this later, but please also pray for me as i'm wrestling with what it means for me to lose my life, for Christ's sake only to find it (matthew 16:25).
and now, it is time for me to work on an english lesson and go to BED!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
this evening, i'm going to the coffeehouse! i am very exciting to finally meet louise, a woman who came to lubin shortly after i left last year.
Friday, June 27, 2008
i'm fitting right back in. though, i've been with american's all day, but just walking around the city feels a little bit like home. i don't quite know how that works. i definitely got some culture stress on the plane and in germany (a three hour layover sitting at a gate with no access to anything familiar isn't all it's cracked up to be.)
well, i'll post more later. coffee's on!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
here's my travel itineray for the next couple of days:
26.6.08, afternoon -- depart for jfk
26.6.08, 5:50pm -- plane leaves jfk bound for frankfurt
27.6.08, 8:10am -- arrive in frankfurt, germany
(note: time difference. this will feel like 2:10am. yikes!)
27.6.08, 11:50am -- depart frankfurt
27.6.08, 1:15pm -- arrive in wrocłow!
and now, it's back to packing. though actually i'm off to have a picnic lunch with a friend! cheers!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
right now, i'm sitting at a little cafe in new haven drinking coffee at a table outside using their WiFi. the brick walkway ("sherman's alley") and the castle-like buildings of yale that overlook the alley remind me of europe and make my heart happy and long to be there at the same time. i cannot express how excited i am to be going back to wrocław and seeing my dear friends again.
camp update -- so far ten students have registered for the camp (last year there were 25 students). the lesser number is due to exams that are scheduled during the beginning of the camp. some students are coming late, and many are not coming at all. please pray that God would bring the students that HE wants to be there, and that He would prepare the hearts of those that are coming. four or five of those registered are returning from last year, and so i'm very exciting to see them again!
job/summer update -- i have not found a summer job (i think i'm up to 10 applications?). honestly, i am now seeing the blessing that it really is, at least for right now. i've been able to spend time with friends that i have not seen for a while and do some summer activities, like going to the beach, spending time in new haven, staying out late, and reading books for fun. i've also been able to spend time with my family and do fun things with my sister. i'm also excited about our upcoming college group at church! through doing that i've been able to spend time with believers my own age at church and make some great friends. all in all, if building relationships was a paid job, i'd be rich this summer. =)
long-term-plans update -- in my last post, i mentioned an email i received from my friend jerry, a full-time missionary in poland, asking me to pray about going to poland long-term after i finish college. jerry and i talked on skype the other night and he told me more about the ministry at new hope church, a daughter church of wrocław baptist, and his desire to see a ministry to young people grow from that church. i am continuing to pray about being a part of this, and am excited to see if the Lord would bring me there to work with him! please continue to pray with me!
continue to check back for more regular updates as june 26th comes closer!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
1. rebecca's message asking if i'd like her to pick me up from the airport.
2. skype conversation with joshua (SEND missionary currently in wrocław).
3. shopping for PIRATE-Y things! this year's theme is pirates!
4. emailing students to see if they're coming.
5. realizing that the trip is less than ONE MONTH AWAY!
as much as i would love to say that things around here are settling down, that's just not true. though i must admit that summer is summer and i've decided not to spend it worrying about what i can't control (well that is sure easier said than done).
summer employment update -- i've got my name/application into six different places. i feel like i've done what i can and now i'll just wait for the phone call. here's to learning to live one day at a time.
update update -- this morning i sent out an official update newsletter email. if you didn't get one but would like to, leave me a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
long-term-plans update -- i received an email today from a SEND full-time missionary in wrocław whom i worked with last summer at camp. he asked me to seriously pray about going to wrocław for a few years after college and starting up a youth ministry there. the more i think about it, the more excited i get about that idea. i'd have no idea how it would all come together - but GOD KNOWS. and i am going to seriously pray about this! it could be an exciting opportunity! if you think of it, please pray for this for me.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
right now i'm sitting in heritage hall dormitory, where i will be living until friday. this weekend my family came down and loaded up the truck with all of my belongings (to which dad sang the beverly hillbillies theme song numerous time). this morning we went out to breakfast and they left a few minutes ago. i'll be working all week and hanging out with friends in the evening, something i haven't been able to do much this semester.
hopefully i'll be able to get some poland stuff taken care of - emails, thank you cards, an update newletter in addition to spending some time outside. i have some ambitions for rest this week! : )
commencement on saturday went well. many of my friends graduated! it was so need to hear those names called and see them get their diplomas, knowing full well what that one document means to them - all of the hard work, sleepless nights, tears, and times of joy that went along with it. and ladies and gentlemen, next year that will be me. wow.
so to gordon, tricia, rachel, valerie, carla, and the rest of the pbu graduating class of 2008 - CONGRATULATIONS!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
i am slowly getting an idea of what i will do this summer. i offered to work at my current job (registrar's office) for a week or two past commencement in order to help them tie things up at the end of the semester. my boss said that's fine but that they don't have it in the budget for me to stay there all summer. i wasn't planning on doing that, but at least i had thought of it as a back up plan. door closed. so i'm going to connecticut sometime in may! and for at least a week (maybe more!) i want to RELAX. i need that so much right now, i am so worn out.
prayer! please, please pray for me. the end of this semester is so hard - academically and emotionally. i know that God is doing some great things in my heart and i look forward to writing a post about all that i have learned this semester. but for now, please pray that God would continue to change my heart and that i would surrender control completely to Him. i am so tired of this lie that i have been believing that i can control the world around me - my emotions, thoughts, circumstances. i can't. and i want to give that control completely to God - but i need to truly and deeply believe that HE IS GOOD and that He really does love me and cares about my best interest. please pray that i can do that - trust Him and give Him control knowing that it is for my best interest, even when it hurts and even when it's hard.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
praise God from whom all blessings flow
praise Him all creatures here below
praise God above ye heavenly host
praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
as we began this refrain, it suddenly hit me: today we gather as a body to celebrate something which people had been waiting AGES for. Christ's coming was prophesied by daniel and isaiah among others.
imagine the thousands of people who prayed that God would send the messiah to save them.
imagine the people of israel crying out for a savior.
imagine the hope of those who awaited messiah.
and today we celebrate the fact that HE CAME. HE DIED. AND HE ROSE AGAIN. God promised, and God gave. God fulfilled His promise to send His Son once, and so we can trust that He will fulfill His promise to send His Son AGAIN. we, like israel, wait in anticipation for Christ's return.
so today, we praise Him that He came, died, and conquered death. and we celebrate in anticipation that He will come again, just like He said He would.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
now financially, according to my calculations...
(you can see i had fun with the calculator!)
(1) if EVERY person who received my letter gives $8, i will reach 100% support.
(2) if 10 people give $50, and everyone else gives $5, i will reach 100% support!
this just shows, every dollar helps! : )
Monday, March 03, 2008
what about the word "break"? this is a break from classes, a break from work, and a break from the familiar routine - that's for sure. but i'm trying to get a lot of homework done as well. tomorrow, i'll head down to the library for the day in the hopes of accomplishing some research.
i also have been able to spend some quality time with my younger siblings, something that isn't done quite as often as i'd like.
another item on this week's to-do list is to write my poland support letters! these need to be written and sent out to the members of Trinity Church and my own friends.
here's hoping for a productive AND restful break!
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
the mind of man plans his way,
but the LORD directs his steps.
many plans are in a man's heart,
but the counsel of the LORD will stand.
"but if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? you of little faith! do not worry then, saying, 'what will we eat?' or 'what will we drink?' or 'what will we wear for clothing?' for the gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. so do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. each day has enough trouble of its own."