Saturday, April 30, 2011

Water for Elephants


For what it's worth, Water for Elephants (the movie) was AWESOME. I always question whether or not to see a movie if I love the book...but I feel like this movie completely lived up to the beautiful story created by Sara Gruen. I strongly encourage you to see it! The writer of the film found ways to tie in every piece of the book in some way, so I didn't leave feeling the least bit disappointed. Although there are some tough scenes to watch (which you can skip while you read, but you can't fast forward at a movie theater), it is still a neat story that leaves you feeling great to the very last minute. Fabulous movie.

Now, if I can only make it to May 6 for "Something Borrowed," May 26 for "The Hangover 2," and then November 18 for "Breaking Dawn Part 1." And yes I'm a little bit frustrated that "Breaking Dawn Part 2" does not come out until NOVEMBER OF 2012. It's already done being filmed! Why in the world would you wait ANOTHER year and a half to release it? I'm praying someone will sell me a copy on the black market, and trust me, I keep an eye on the black market for these sorts of things.

In honor of it being the first day of May tomorrow, I think I'll read the Twilight series again. Last year I promised myself I'd wait at least a year before I re-read the series, and my one year mark is tomorrow. If I disappear for weeks on end, you'll know why.

Edward. Cullen.

Don't judge me.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yeah, it was harder than I thought...

Last week I went to Haiti. I spent time in Port au Prince, St. Marc, and Chadirac - 3 very different communities. And I was warned that the poverty in Haiti is unlike any other. And every time I heard that, I thought "I've been to plenty of rough areas, so this isn't a big deal. I've used pit latrines, I've seen children that are sick and begging. I've wanted to take the clothes off my own back and give them to a widow." But I had assumed that things could only be so bad, and there wasn't a way to necessarily get worse.

But I was wrong.

Very

very

wrong.

Haiti touched places of my heart that I thought were untouchable.

And the hard thing was, I didn't really have anyone to walk through this experience with. I was with a high school team from Charleston, and I was the one they looked to for answers, for advice, for encouragement. I also spent time with our Haitian staff, but they too were looking for answers, strategies, and thoughts on their country. I heard all the complaints and all the praises, and served as a buffer between both groups...both eager to serve the other, but also having to deal with the emotional heaviness of it all.

It wasn't until the plane ride back, when I'd finished my book and put in my headphones that the weightiness I was carrying finally settled around me. I sat on the plane and looked out the window and just cried. I hope the guy next to me didn't notice, or if he did I'm glad he didn't say anything. I wouldn't have known how to respond. Am I ok? Maybe. Sort of. Not really. Do I need anything? Millions of dollars, a non-corrupt working government, and a stellar education system along with clean drinking water and jobs for 80% of the country. Do you have that? Then no, I don't need anything other than that. But thanks.

The problem with Haiti is that the world has told it that its poor. That it has no gifts. That it requires our aid to survive. And so we've brought money, and aid, and medicine, and clothes, and resources. But why hasn't the billions of dollars we've sent over made a difference? Why haven't the clothes, food, shelter supplies and medicine made a difference?

We need to start sending Haiti a better message. Like we love them. We value them and their gifts. That they have something to offer the world that no other country has. That we need them more than they need us. That they are powerful. That they have a rich destiny and purpose that they need to step into.

I believe once we change our message, things will start to shift. But until then, they'll always believe they can't survive without us. But they can.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Snapshots from Haiti

A large cathedral in Port au Prince that was destroyed by the earthquake

The community of Chadirac - Land of a Thousand Hills coffee being grown here

Haitian women bagging soil to be used for the coffee seeds











Saturday, April 16, 2011

Haiti

Tomorrow I leave on my first trip to Haiti with The 410 Bridge. I've been working for 410 for almost 3 months, coordinating all teams/trips that go into Haiti. Haiti has posed quite the set of challenges for us, but I'm hoping that my trip down there this week will help us iron out some of the hiccups that are happening.

To me, the 410 Bridge is one of the most "Kingdom" organizations I've ever heard of. Each country has its own set of leaders that have a heart for their community and their country as a whole. What I love about this is that there is no American running the show. Our goal is to come alongside these leaders and hear what their dreams are for their area, and then strategize on how to make those dreams a reality. We like to say that we "enable the self-developing capabilities" of those we serve.

In many poorer countries, there is this mentality that says "if I wait long enough, an American will come do this for me." And yes these countries are poor, but we are reinforcing their poverty mentality by coming in and bringing them food, clothes, and other projects (which 9 times out of 10 is just what makes us feel better about their problems). Not that those things aren't good or helpful, but how will these people ever see how capable they are if we keep doing things for them? At 410, our heart is to help them see the gifts and the strengths that they possess, as well as their dreams, and then help highlight how the two go together.  And we measure our success not by what we do, but what they do for themselves. In our opinion, that is true development.

The idea behind every project originates from a Kenyan or Haitian, NOT an American. We want them to lead us, because they know what they need. To tell us what they want for their community. And once they've identified something as important and necessary, we talk through what that looks like. We might fund a well, but not without Kenya telling us they need one, why they want one, how they want it to work, and who will be in charge of it (because if it is not "owned" by them, it will never be sustainable). Once they identify some key needs and plans to help put them in place, then we come alongside and help make those needs happen. But we require the community to participate in every step of the process. Here is a video of a recent project we did in a community called Endana:



The men and women of this community participated in this project, and have a plan for keeping it running. If our project has to be run by an American then we didn't do our job.

Here is another video from our Director and CEO on what we do (we haven't been in Haiti very long, so this video mainly focuses on Kenya):



I love this organization, and I love the way they execute their vision. It is truly a blessing to work for them in such a strategic capacity.

I'll post some more updates and pictures when I get back from Haiti next week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's Talk About it, Baby.


One of my favorite blogs is Stuff Christians Like. Its hilarious and fun, yet not entirely superficial. 

This upcoming week, the author of Stuff Christians Like has the opportunity to speak to a few hundred college students on sex. In one of his more recent posts, he asks his readers what they would tell this group of college students. What are the misconceptions of sex? What are the mistakes you wish you didn't make in college? What do you want college students to know?

I went through all the comments over a few hours, picking them apart, gleaning what I could from other adults' thoughts. I was inspired, heart-broken, encouraged, and taught through these comments. I realize this is a hot topic, but its one that is hardly addressed in the Church with any gumption. So I figured I'd give you some snippets from some of my favorite lines, and I hope these will be thought-provoking and encouraging to you.



I would say that sex isn’t the problem (and we often treat it like it is) but rather the heart behind why we are seeking sex outside of marriage. Is it to affirm your identity? To make you feel powerful? To make you feel valued? … etc. When I got married I was sadly shocked that suddenly being able to have sex with each other didn’t make our life perfect. Turns out the heart sins that were tempting us to lust exhibited themselves in different ways and we had some big messes to deal with. So rather than obsessing over avoiding sex take some time to take your heart to God and figure out what is really going on. Deal with the heart issues first so that if you find yourself married and able to have awkward honeymoon sex while dolphins do somersaults you are more able to enjoy it instead of being launched into a new face of the same old battle. - Brandi

My 18yo niece asked me if sex is worth the wait. I told her that is is definitely worth the wait. Sex is great and fun, but to remember that there is more to it than just the act itself. It is messy and can be awkward and uncomfortable. Even the best looking person looks less-than-sexy retreating to the bathroom afterwards. You still have to be able to face each other. This is why God designed this intimacy to be a part of marriage, so that the two of you can be vulnerable together. That kind of openness is a part of the intimacy of marriage and is best coated in love. - Dana

I will concur with the importance of talking about the emotional aspects of “fooling around”. Everyone knows the physical consequences, not many people talk about the emotional aspects. I am a virgin, my fiance has a big sexual history before he gave his life to God six years ago. I struggle every single day with thoughts of him and x,y and z girls he shared intimate moments with. It not only affected him and brought on guilt and shame on his part, but it also affects our relationship because of the insecurities and hurt from my side and we haven’t even had sex yet! I know that now he is as clean as snow thanks to God’s mercy, but the consequences of his actions still affect both of us to this day. - Merari

Oh, and forget everything you’ve ever seen on TV and in movies. Sex, while it can be fabulous, is never flowy with a great sound track. And they skip all the time-consuming/unsexy parts. And those parts happen EVERY TIME. - PL

I think it is important to talk about how the consequences of sin (impurity before marriage) leaves wounds that may not be felt until you are married. We didn’t get to 20 years of marriage without having to work through issues because of the sexual immorality my husband partook in before we met (pornography, a lot of sexual experiences).  - Becky

Just picture having a conversation with your daughter someday and being able to look her straight in the eye and tell her that it is worth waiting for. I have two beautiful daughters and can tell them how wonderful it was learning to love their father in that way. Well, that will probably make them gag, but you know what I mean. I don’t have to tell them do as I say and not as i do. I get to tell them that sex is beautiful and sacred and completely ties you to the person you share it with. I have been married 9 years and have seen many marriages fall due to infidelity. I cannot imagine having sex with anyone besides my husband, and that is because I never have. I have no past experience to compare him to. I say enjoy the tension, find joy in the journey, and ENJOY the heck out of your honeymoon and the next 50 years. - Rachel


I think each of these comments have something valuable to say. One thing that is mentioned in a lot of the comments (none that I listed though), is that the Church is too silent on this issue. Sex is amazing, and beautiful and powerful. And we shouldn't deny the grandness of it. But the Church should be the loudest voice of all because those in the Church should be the ones experiencing the best sex there is. I could talk about all of these issues forever, but a public blog is probably not the best place. :) Maybe one day I'll get the guts to post a little bit more, but not today.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Writing in a Polite Society

Here's a quote from Stephen King on being truthful in your writing:

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.  If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.


This sounds harsh, but the more I read and the more I write (not blog writing), the more I realize how important this key is. Its the touchy "hot" topics that draw readers in and allow them to connect with the characters. Characters have to be multi-dimensional and they have to be real. But being real sometimes means being more honest than most people are comfortable with. 




Heaven's Song

I love worship. And for a long time, I only liked hearing songs I knew and could relax into. But after some conversations with a good friend that leads worship, I was inspired to think in bigger terms when it comes to worship. This friend had said to me that we are still singing songs of yesterday's revelation, and that there was new revelation meant for today. I love that she said that because now every time I go into worship, I know there is fresh revelation available to me. Old revelation isn't bad, it is still good and valuable, but what if God is completely shifting gears and trying to change the way we worship every day? We're going to miss it if we're still only singing songs from 5 years ago.

On Sunday at church this really precious young couple led worship. It was fun and loud yet pregnant with God's presence. The things they brought into the atmosphere made it so easy to connect with the heart of God and it took everything in me to not weep at how much God was starting to pour out on us as we worshiped Him. The songs were deep and full of revelation of the love of God. They were truly mesmerizing.

Two songs they sang in particular were ones that the husband's brother and sister-in-law wrote, and these two songs I have not stopped singing since I heard them. I wanted to give you the lyrics to one of the songs, and let you know you can listen to 1:30 on itunes if you're interested. This is Heaven's Song:


Lord, You are hope itself, You love me like no one else                 
Making my fears all melt, in Your presence
Life breathed into my soul, Your love has made me whole
So that the world may know, Of my savior


                       Holy, God Almighty, I sit at Your feet                              
Worthy, King of Heaven, for all eternity
    Angels, they cry Holy, as I stand here amazed        
       Beauty, captures my heart and all I can say                 
               Is I love you…Jesus I love You                                    

Garments and clothes of white, Put darkness to its flight
Healing flows from Your side, To the broken
I dance around the throne, With angels so at home
Making your glory known, To the nations  

I see a river there, Worship is everywhere
Tears are no longer shed, In Your presence
For those who know your grace, They’ll see You face to face
Curses will be erased, Ever and ever



I encourage you to download this song, as well as Freedom Come Down- both of these songs are on the same cd, Speak to the Dreams by Destiny Church. They are really powerful and full of access to today's revelation. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My New Love(s)

So, here is a picture of my new love...


Petite Lap Giraffes

Yes you read that right... PETITE LAP GIRAFFES. They have recently been featured in 2 different commercials on tv- so you might have seen them before. How could you miss them? Now I realize with 99% certainty that these babes might not be real, but who cares? They're the sweetest looking things I've ever seen! Check out Sokoblovsky Farms in Russia and you can even watch a live webcam- and those are hard to fudge so my hopes of them being real just increased a bajillion fold. Just to indulge this fantasy of mine to have one of these- I figured I'd give you the stats so you can get your heart beating a little harder with anticipation of how amazing these little ones are: 

Petite Lap Giraffes are very funny animal that require special care. They need lots of love. Hugs and kisses every day. Otherwise they make tears.
If you have children, petite lap giraffes no problem. If child is loud, the giraffe will be shy, but does not bite. PLG’s are very clean. With training they will go in box like cats. Allergies never a problem.
Size: adult is 76 centimeters, baby is 15 centimeters tall. Weight is 4.5kg unless the giraffe is fat cow then 5.44kg
Diet: distilled water and bonsai tree leaves
Health problems: none. They are the best.
Gestation: 420 days
Living conditions: PLG’s love being indoors in filtered air conditioning. If they can listen to music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov it is dream.
Grooming: a bubble bath once a week with purified water is all they need. 



Monday, April 4, 2011

Project Gift

Daniel Bashta from Riverstone Church is one of my favorite worship leaders. He is truly a revivalist of the purest form, and his worship comes from this deeply rooted place of intimacy. Check out his story here.

Daniel and his wife Taylor have a heart for the nations and for adoption, and they knew that if they wanted to invest in the nations, they first had to invest in their home city of Atlanta. So this past year they adopted a little boy from Atlanta named Phoenix. And as a fundraiser for Bethany Christian Services, Daniel is offering his song "Like a Lion" for whatever people want to pay, and all proceeds will go back to the adoption service he and Taylor used to adopt little Phoenix (David Crowder sings this song on the Passion cd from this past year). This song is amazing, and I encourage everyone to listen to the lyrics and soak in them. They are really revolutionary. Project Gift is where you can go to support Bethany and adoption services worldwide, and bless Daniel Bashta and other future parents with aid in their adoptions.

If you want to check out his blog- that too is amazing. Daniel and Taylor are passionate warriors, and are truly inspiring a new generation of revivalists to rise up.

Just wanted to let you in on some great worship leaders that are dear to my heart! I hope you enjoy.






Saturday, April 2, 2011

TOMS

So I'm trying to decide what my second pair of TOMS will be. I already have the burlap, which I LOVE and can wear with anything. But I'm in the mood for something more "springy."I'm leaning towards some of the wedges, but I haven't finalized that decision. I also wish there were more bright colors in the flats because I think I'd wear those more often, but alas...there's not. So here are my favorite choices at the moment:

Where's the teal or lime or plum? I guess those colors aren't in this season.