Saturday, June 28, 2008

thoughts on getting ready to leave

It's funny, when you start to say good-bye to a place the most mundane tasks become rituals.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

crying out

Today is Compassion International's day of prayer and fasting for the global food crisis. This is a prayer I wrote in November as a part of TearFund's week of prayer for poverty. It is written from the perspective of those whose needs are most desperate.

"Father, you promised to take care of your people. You promised that if we make you our dwelling that no harm would come near us, that disasters couldn't touch us. So spread your wings over your people. Wrap your arms around us and hold us close. Don't be far away when we need you, come close, be near to us now. Can't you hear the voices of your people as we cry out for you? We are desperate, hurting, hungry, calling & crying out for you.

Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!

Our children are dying because they have no food or water while the rest of the world wastes the resources we need so desperately. Come close, be bread for the hungry and water for the thirsty. Come close, be medicine for the sick and justice for the oppressed. Come close, make things right.Come close! Bring your kingdom into our world. Set things right. Be the sun on our faces. Be the rain on our fields. Be the food in our stomachs. Be the water on our parched throats. Wipe our tears away and be the smiles on our lips.

Come near, hear our cries, deliver us!"

PS, this is also my 100th post.

Monday, June 23, 2008

global food crisis

Compassion International is calling for a day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday the 25th for the global food crisis. Here is the information from their website:

The global food crisis is forcing millions to go hungry. Please join us on June 25, 2008, for a day of prayer and fasting for those suffering.

What is the global food crisis?

The World Food Programme calls the global food crisis a phenomenon, a "silent tsunami," that is affecting families in every nation on every continent. Food prices for popular menu items like rice, wheat and beans have doubled in the last year. Though increases in food prices have hit all budgets, it's the poor who bear the brunt of price inflation. The higher prices are forcing people who survive on just $1 a day to spend upwards of 80 percent of their budgets just on food. As a result, many people, including millions of children, are going hungry. The longer food prices rise, the more people will be plunged into hunger and poverty.

Why is the global food crisis happening?

Food shortages have affected developing countries for generations. It's a cyclical problem. But this global food crisis is more rapid, urgent and devastating. Since 2005, food prices have risen a whopping 80 percent.


rising fuel costs
rising food demand from populous nations like India and China
natural disasters destroying crop yields all over the world, including the United States
growth of biofuels

How has the global food crisis affected Compassion families?

The global food crisis is forcing poor families to spend more of their household budgets on food, leaving little for anything else. In Bangladesh more than 90 percent of the 12,179 children we serve in 82 Compassion-assisted centers are affected. Many children are eating only at the church-based center. Compassion Haiti estimates it will need at least $2 million and up to $6 million to feed the 60,000 registered children and their families over the next few months.

What can I do to help fight the global food crisis?

Join Compassion's Day of Prayer and Fasting on June 25, 2008. This is the day we will honor the victims of the global food crisis and pray for them.
Give to Compassion's Global Food Crisis Fund. Your gift will help provide:
food vouchers to children and families needing immediate relief.
seeds and agricultural tools so that families can grow their own food as well as earn extra income.
supplemental nutrition services offered at Compassion-assisted centers around the world.

I think this is really important. We should really get behind this, take our responsibility as the Body of Christ seriously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

last day of school

So today was the last day of school. (We've been volunteering in school's as part of Transit.) I'm very relieved about that as school's work has probably been my least favorite thing about Transit. (The reason for this is a slightly long and rather complicated story which I just don't feel like reliving right now.) But I did work with some hilarious kids and lovely adults. The Teaching Assistant staff, who I did most (pretty much all) of my work with gave me a parting gift:

And this is very happy because I LOVE Burt's Bees!!!!!! And I haven't been able to find it any where in Guildford. And now I have a whole lovely little kit that's full of happy little sized pots and bottles of lovely smelling natural lotions and soaps and lip balms. It has put a smile on my face all day long. (It really doesn't take much to make me happy.) I could ramble on about how I kept pulling it out of my bag all day to admire it or smell it, but then I'd just be embarrassing myself so I'm gonna stop now. But, YEAH! : )

Saturday, June 14, 2008

a ladies quiet day and some long due feedback

Today Adri, a new friend from Kansas City Marisa, and I went with a lady from the Boiler Room, Steph Heald, to a Ladies Quiet Day in north London. Steph was the speaker for the day and we went along to set up a prayer room and to help run some prayer activities. The day, according to my understanding, was run by two sister churches. One Anglican, and the other Catholic. (I think.) We had a wonderful time, and it seemed like the ladies who came did too.

I grew up in churches that wouldn't really be considered traditional. First in Assemblies of God and then interdenominational churches that would probably be labeled Charismatic. I'm not really familiar with liturgy or standing in line to receive communion or anything associated with "high church." Not being familiar with these things, naturally, I've always found them very intriguing. (This is something else I've remembered over the last few weeks.)

We closed the day with a Eucharist service. It was beautiful. There I was, standing in a row with my hands clasped plaintively to receive the bread. I found tears filling my eyes hearing the words, "Jesus' body given for you." Just listen to this:

"Take and eat, for the peace of all nations. Take and drink, for the love of all people. For you have shown us the path that leads to life. And this feast will fill us with joy."

"Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we offer you our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory. Amen."

"The feast is ended: depart in peace. The work of the world lies before us. Accomplish justice, with grace. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.

(The bold parts were what we all said together.)

It was absolutely beautiful. I really feel like we have so much to learn from those we so easily pass off as being no longer relevant or valid. These are the people who are carrying on the tradition of centuries of praise to God. We're so quick to see where things have gone wrong. Somehow, there must be a way to balance out the warnings of history with its examples.

I was thinking a lot about this at the 24-7 Euro Gathering. These are a few scriptures that came to mind:

"Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." -Ephesians 6:2&3

"GOD's Message yet again: 'Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls.'" -Jeremiah 6:16

"No one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'" - Luke 5:39

Something that has become very important to me is the idea that, as a new generation, as members of what would be called "fresh expressions of church," we cannot forget to honor the fathers. To honor those who have gone before us, paving the way for us to walk in. The only reason we are able to go as far and as high as we are is that we have the trails they blazed to walk on, their shoulders to stand on. We must remember this.

One of the sessions at the Gathering was on Ezekial 37 and the valley of dry bones that became an army. Something that was said really stuck with me: "We have to remember that when we see something dead, it means that there was life there at one time." I'm beginning to feel like a big part of my calling may be looking for the life that still remains in places others have passed off as being dead. Like Miracle Max in The Princess Bride, "Mostly dead is slightly alive." God can use slightly alive. After all, he is the Great Miracle Worker, the Breath of Life.

The picture at the top is of a church in Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. It's a stone church that dates from the 12th century, although there were other wooden churches on the site centuries before that. I have never felt God's presence any stronger than I did the afternoon I spent praying in that roof-less, almost wall-less church.

I know I've gone on quite a while here. I usually try to avoid writing really long posts. But I hope you don't mind if I leave off by quoting a bit more of the liturgy from this afternoon.

Flame - dancing Spirit, come
Sweep us off our feet and
Dance us through our days.
Surprise us with your rhythms;
Dare us to try new steps, explore
New patterns and new partnerships;
Release us from old routines
To swing in abandoned joy and
Fearful adventure. And
In the intervals,
Rest us
In your still centre.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

things that make me smile

*sheets that smell as if they've just come out of the wash
*creative descriptions like, "the air felt like milk"
*music that is slow and soft without being melancholy
*finding clothes that have been packed away for a while
*my dad's grilled chicken
*little girls' enthusiastic love
*czech chocolate
*trying to listen to multiple conversations all happening in the same room at the same time
*puppies that will grow up to be guide dogs playing with other passengers at airports
*daisies painted on hand-thrown mugs from Prague

it is the American way

Last weekend I went home for my "little" brother's graduation. It was a bit of a grueling trip, I left just two days after returning from the Czech Republic and was only there from Friday until Monday evening. But it was well worth the effort. Seeing my family, friends, the girls I used to nanny, and my beloved Charlotte was SO great! My dad's dad joined us from Iowa, I got to talk to my grandma on his cell phone too! My mom's dad was in the hospital after emergency surgery earlier in the week, but was with us in spirit. He also sent Daniel and I hand-crafted throwing knives, the first he's ever made. (The explanation behind this is worth a post all it's own, remind me if I forget!Me and my Grandpa Andy! Don't mess with me.
Don't be fooled by the look of boredom... he's vicious! Graduation!
Just a little target practise.

We kicked off the graduation party on Sunday evening with an (illegal) backyard fireworks show.

On Monday I had breakfast with my friend, Beth. We went to my favorite little place, Le Peep (they have magical maple syrup), where I had the Lumber Jack breakfast and managed to eat the entire thing. It was beautiful!
Then I spent the afternoon playing with the little girls I used to nanny, Shelby and Sydney. Their mom didn't tell them I was coming, first because she didn't want them to be disappointed in case it didn't work out, and then because she wanted to surprise them. I didn't even ring the doorbell. They saw me through the window and came running out. The youngest, Sydney, threw herself into my arms and didn't even look up for a good two minutes saying things like, "I missed you SO much." "I thought I was never going to see you again." (She just turned five years old) It was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. We had a wonderful afternoon playing together, it felt as if I'd never been gone.

Then, the end came. I had some Chick-fil-a with my family and left on a jet plane. It's so strange, not feeling like only one place is home. I'm struggling to view that as a blessing. It's really a challenge for a girl who grew up only wanting to have a home and a family in a small town in Midwestern America. My life already looks so different from that dream, and that's something I'm actually really thankful for. But at the same time there's a bit of grieving that goes along with each new revelation of what the new dream really means.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

this is my Jesus

As we're coming to the end of Transit we are also coming to the end of God's Story. I've always had a special love for the Bible. I remember wishing and waiting until I could read well enough to read it for myself. I used to "read" stories from Sunday School to my little sisters from the pictures in my Bible when I was like 4. I've done this year's reading in the Message which has unveiled a lot of truth that hides so easily behind the religious language of other translations.

All of that was to say that I love this description of Jesus from Revelation 19:

Then I saw Heaven open wide - and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that's known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as "Word of God." The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.

This is the Hero of every story. This is the true Knight on a white charger. This is the One who will fight for me, the One I can trust to hold me close and keep me safe. This is the Lover of my Soul; the one true Love of my life. This is my Jesus.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

stirrings in czech

This is a post full of pictures. I don't feel my words will do a good job of telling the story of the week I spent in the Czech Republic. The pictures are in no particular order and come from the cities of Prague and Brno and the 24-7 Euro Gathering. I've also included random quotes of phrases that stuck out to me in the meetings.
"Planting a seed is a statement of faith."

"Thus says the Lord: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'" Jeremiah 6:16

"Where there is death we need to remember that there used to be life."

I've been remembering a lot of things the last few months. This is what I remembered at the Euro Gathering: asking my mom at our bi-annual missionary weeks why there were never any missionaries who went to Europe. Her answer was that Europe already had the gospel, they are already Christians. Even at the age of 10 or 11 I knew that was no longer true...
Something I discovered, I love travelling in Europe by train!
And I "saw" all the famous Czech people I "know;" Jan Hus, Jon Amos Comenius (Komensky in Czech), and Dvorak.

the voyage of the dawn treader

"We must all show great constancy," Caspian was saying. "A dragon has just flown over the tree-tops and lighted on the beach. Yes, I am afraid it is between us and the ship. And arrows are no use against dragons. And they're not afraid of fire." "With your Majesty's leave-" began Reepicheep. "No, Reepicheep," said the King firmly, "you are not going to attempt a single combat with it. And unless you promise to obey me in this matter I'll have you tied up."

"I'm beginning to feel very inquisitive about these people," whispered Eustace to Edmund. "Do you think they're human at all? More like huge grasshoppers or giant frogs, I should say."

Then her face lit up till, for a moment (but of course she didn't know it), she looked almost as beautiful as that other Lucy in the picture, and she ran forward with a little cry of delight and with her arms stretched out. For what stood in the doorway was Aslan himself, the Lion, the highest of all High Kings. And he was solid and real and warm and he let her kiss him and bury herself in his shining mane. And from the low, earthquake-like sound that came from inside him, Lucy even dared to thing that he was purring.

"Child," said Aslan, "did I not explain to you once before that no one is ever told what would have happened?" "Yes, Aslan, you did," said Lucy. "I'm sorry. But please-" "Speak on, dear heart." "Shall I ever be able to read that story again; the one I couldn't remember? Will you tell it to me, Aslan? Oh do, do, do." "Indeed, yes, I will tell it to you for years and years."

Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, "Courage, dear heart", and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.
In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realised that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been.

"In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."

And just as the girl, gliding in the shallow water, and Lucy, leaning over the bulwark, came opposite to one another, the girl looked up and stared straight into Lucy's face. Neither could speak to the other and in a moment the Sea Girl dropped astern. But Lucy will never forget her face. Lucy had liked that girl and she felt certain the girl had like her. In that one moment they had somehow become friends. There does not seem to be much chance of their meeting again in that world or any other. But if ever they do they will rush together with their hands held out.

And suddenly there came a breeze from the east, tossing the top of the wave into foamy shapes and ruffling the smooth water all round them. It lasted only a second or so but what it brought them in that second none of those three children will ever forget. It brought both a smell and a sound, a musical sound. Edmund and Eustace would never talk about it afterwards. Lucy could only say, "It would break your heart." "Why," said I, "was it so sad?" "Sad!! No," said Lucy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

from Moravia

Today is the last day of the 24-7 Euro Gathering in Brno. We've had a great time hearing stories from all over Europe, praying together, and drinking Czech beer. Tomorrow Frances and I will go to Prague for the day before we fly home on Tuesday.

We have met a lot of lovely people working to bring God's Kingdom into this dark continent. We've all taken turns praying for our countries, proclaiming words of life. Hearing people from Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, and Malta praying for their countries in their language you could really feel God's presence. I'm excited to see what the Lord will be doing next through these people whose hearts are for him.