Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Blog:

I have started a new blog.  You can find it here  The explanation for the move is on the new one.  I just wanted to make sure anyone looking for me could find the new blog which I hope to be more faithful to write in.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five Minute Friday: See

So, here’s the skinny: I’ve been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Just painting with words. Finger-painting even.
So now on Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. This shared feast.
A Five Minute Writing Challenge <—click to tweet this!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:




What do I see?

Well, I guess it depends on what spectacles I choose to put on today.

Does my vision depend on what my eyes see or what my heart sees?  Do I walk by faith or by sight?

Do I see through the lenses of what the world values and tells me how to interpret, or do I see through the lenses of eternity?  Do I see from God's perspective?  or at least try and see what He wants me to see?

I can look at the situations I encounter each day as road blocks, or opportunities to take a path I would not have otherwise chosen.

I can look at the people I encounter as annoyances or as people the Lord has sent me to love and serve. I can choose to make this moment about me or learn to forget about me.

I love the part of the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: 

Lord grant that I might seek to comfort rather than be comforted, to love than to be loved, to understand than to be understood.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Perspective

On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. This shared feast.
If you have five minutes, we double dog dare you to spend it writing here <—click to tweet this!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? The Gypsy Mama Facebook late night crew is my new muse come 10pm Thursday night, so please give me your best five minutes on their choice:




I just had a discussion with my brother yesterday about perspective.  How funny.  We spent such a lovely day together enjoying one another's company and reveling in the glory of God's redemption.  Where there was once so much hatred, anger and angst, there begins now to grow beauty, forgiveness, restoration.  As we walk this complicated pathway of unraveling decades of confusion and tangled mess that began with years of abuse at the hands of our family, as we look to the future, there is hope.  It won't always be so tangled.  We won't always struggle with the past so much.  It won't always be awkward to try and be real and close.

We find freedom.  We find a new perspective.  We are not victims.  We are not just survivors.  We are thrivers.  We are heirs to God's beautiful grace and redemption.  What once seemed hopelessly broken is beginning to look different.  It is beginning to look beautiful.  As God puts the pieces together and combs out the ragged mess of tangles, the beauty of how big He is begins to be clear.... much clearer, I think than if we had not been so badly broken.

The most beautiful and powerful stories of redemption being with places of deep, dark, hopeless brokenness.

Deep in a well; In a forgotten land.  As my friend Ramsie would say about Joseph.  Deep in a well, where there seems to be no light, no hope, no way.  His hand reaches down and rescues.  And as we walk, the muck and the mire, the filth and shame, slowly washes away in the showers of His loving grace.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Together

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to run when we were kids.

On Fridays we write with gusto, unselfconscious and flat out.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



Together was not a word that I grew up feeling good connotations about. For the most part, I generally felt pretty alone. Even in a room full of people I felt alone. I felt like I was different. No no one liked me; I did not fit in. In my family together was not a good word. It was an opportunity for someone to abuse me.

The feeling of being alone and different followed me many years into my walk with the Lord. It was different, but still alone. I knew He was always with me. I knew He loved me no matter what.

But I did not feel like His people loved me that way. I did not feel like I had deep friendships. I pretty much kept everyone at a disposable connection level.

About 5 years ago, God began to unearth some really painful really dark secrets that kept me feeling alone. He showed me that I felt alone, not because people did not want to be with me; I felt alone b/c I was hiding. I was afraid people could not love me if they knew some of the struggles I carried and could not get free from.

When God took me to celebrate recovery to deal with my alcoholism, He began to dismantle the walls that I thought protected me. Those walls kept me alone and isolated. As I began to come clean about the things that I thought I could entrust to no one but God, an amazing thing happened. I wasn't alone anymore. I was truly together. As I dealt with the fact that years of sexual abuse and child pornography had distorted my sexuality and let others come into my pain and distortion and pray for me, walk with me through it all, I wasn't carrying it alone anymore. The secrets no longer had to power to keep me from experiencing together. I told and people loved me anyway.

Then an amazing thing happened; people began to have courage to tell their secrets and the chains that held them began to fall off.

Stop....... times up

But I can't leave this hanging. Today, I help women walk through the process of recovery. Today I get to help others come out of alone and shadows to walk in together and light. So many years I spent alone in a crowd trying to manage my sin and beg God to take it out of me. His way is together, not alone. He only set me free as I opened up the basement and allowed people to come and shine light and love on the little girl hiding in the darkness. He set me free as I allowed people to love me and hold me and remind me that I am not defined or limited by the past. I will always bear scars, but today the scars are beautiful; they are an opportunity to tell His story of redemption in my life. Today I am not hiding and ashamed. I can tell about my pain b/c my pain helps others find the way to open the door so we can go into the dark basement and hug the broken scared little people and bring them into the light to find freedom and grace, hope and peace, redemption and restoration.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Light

Linking to Five minute Friday with Gypsy Mama.

My life is so blessed. It is light and love and grace. I find sometimes I feel guilty for the abundant grace and blessing that encompasses my life.

I ask why me? Why are things so hard and so dark for others when everyday my life is filled with light.

Why are my two musicians friends, who are so filled with beautiful talent, lost in a dark desperate place. Why has reality fled them, and yet He brought me back from the darkness of a lost reality? Why do some get so lost in addiction that they can't find their way out; when He delivered me and took away the chains that bound me to repeat the addictive pattern.

Why do I get to have 3 beautiful children in spite of that fact the my reproductive organs are so scarred that they are supposed to be incapable of conceiving; when so many I know who did not make choices that lead to damaged reproduction cannot conceive.

Why do I look at my beautiful children perfectly healthy and growing in grace each and every day and another looks into the eyes of a child who dies of a disease that mother passed to child. I should have that disease. Dirty needles and loose living should have sentenced me to death and with it's death sentence on me an identical sentence to my children.

Yet, His grace.

Why in all my attempts to take life from my body, always He kept the breath of life in me? When all around me people fight to live and die none the less.

I am so grateful for the light. His light has led me from a place of such darkness, such hopelessness, such loss, chains that cut into my skin, chains that held my mind.

In His light, all the chains fell away, all the darkness fled, all that was lost has been returned with more than I could have ever dreamed. The girl lost in the darkness has become the woman of light and love and hope.

But there is always the why in the back of my mind. Thank you Lord, but why? What about the others?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Loud

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We finger paint with words. We try to remember what it was like to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Want to play Five Minute Friday? It’s easy peasy! (<–-Tweet this!)

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.

OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:




Sometimes the voice of the critic inside of me is so loud. Sometimes it is so loud that it drowns out my ability to create. It taunts me and mocks me; it undermines my belief that I am an artist. Sometimes the beauty of the Lord fills me with such awe and such a stirring to allow Him to create, express something beautiful through me. Then the taunting voice of the critic drowns out the beauty that is stirring in me. I stand in my studio and lose the faith to create. I avoid trying and allow the voice of the critic to drown out the voice of beauty and grace.

Slowly but surely though, some days I am able to ignore the voice of the critic and show up in the studio to meet the Lord anyway. I meet Him and refuse the let the critic taunt me into turning away. I stay and wait and the Lord is so faithful. He meets me there. He create beauty and worship through me and I am amazed and so grateful.

I am noticing the more I go into the space and wait refusing to leave. The louder the voice of the Lord encouraging me and stirring me becomes and the less power the critic has in me to taunt and stifle.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Ache

On Fridays I try to participate in Five Minute Friday. Here is the rules and here is my post.

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to finger paint. For joy in the process. No matter how messy the result.

Got five minutes? Come and write with us, we promise to tell you we loved it! (<—Tweet this!)

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.


My ache goes back to my oldest daughter being little. You see I had her when I was 20 years old. I had just met the Lord 3 months earlier, was fresh off of drugs and trying to finally deal with the unbearable pain of an unmentionably abusive child hood.

I am so grateful for Ally. God used her to save my life. God taught me about His mercy and grace by lending her to me. I had done drugs through most of my pregnancy, so I call her my miracle baby, b/c she came out healthy and unscathed from my selfish and destructive decisions.

The ache is me is that I couldn't have been more whole when I began the journey of raising her. I know God redeems all; I know He knew and sent her anyway and I know that He will work all things for her good and will get the glory.

I just missed so much about what an amazing child she was because I was incapable of unconditional love and acceptance at the time. I expected her to be perfect and make me look like a good mom. I was so broken that I seldom took time to listen to her amazing songs or watch her amazing dances. I didn't really take in all that she was.

I am present and so much more healed now. I do appreciate and listen and accept and love now. But now she it 19 and what I would give to be able to go back and hold 2 year old Ally and listen to every song she wanted to sing to me and watch every single dance she wanted to show me and allow her to just be a beautiful, amazing, precocious, creative little girl. Oh how I ache.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Real

I am linking this post to Gypsy Mama's five minute Fridays.

Here are the rules:

round here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write because we want to, not because we have to. We write for fun, for joy, for discovery.

We just write without worrying if it’s just write or not.

Won’t you join us?

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



Real. I am beginning to realize some real things about my mother. We have not always been close. There were, in fact, times in my life that I just wanted to get as far away from her as I could. I wanted to nothing to do with her. I just wanted to start over in a place where she couldn't get to me. She was not the perfect mother. As a matter of fact she made a lot of mistakes and allowed some really horrible things to happen to us.

I am so glad, though, that God didn't allow me to run away and start over without her. He has healed so dramatically and restored so beautifully. We have forgiven and loved and seen the most unbelievable and miraculous healing and change in our relationship. My mother lives with me. She has for about 6 years now. It has not always been easy. Sometimes it has been downright hard. But it has been beautiful and healing and great. I am so grateful that she lives with us now. I love her with all of my heart. I am so grateful that she lives right down the hall from me. I am so grateful that her grandchildren get to see her every day. I am so grateful for God's amazing and healing grace.

I would not trade the time I have had her in my house for anything. It is a treasure to me.

I am realizing now, though, that she is frail and fragile. The woman that I have sometimes been angry at and sometimes found exhausting and frustratingly childlike. The woman that I started to raise and parent from an early age. She has been strength in my life. She is where the intense strength that those who know me say I posses comes from. She has been a rock in my life. She has carried so much and she is a survivor. She has survived more than I have time to tell. Some of what she has survived is unspeakable. I am a survivor because she is a survivor.

She is getting old, though. As she recovers from a simple knee surgery that became much more complex, I realize that the strength is fading. She is not as strong as she once was. She will not always be here. She is fragile and frail. She will lean on me soon and I will be her strength. I will help carry the one who once carried me. As I realized yesterday she was becoming less strong, I selfishly asked God to keep her strong. "I am not ready for her strength to fade, Lord. I still want her to be the strong one. Please don't let her get weaker, yet. I never realized how much I took her strength for granted."

She is real. She is not superman. She is human and human strength fades. As the flower fades....

I cheated. It was more than 5 minutes. Please forgive me. I was not done and I needed to say it all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Scent of water

I was meditating on Ephesians 2:10 a couple of mornings ago.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

I was pondering that fact that we are God's workmanship and what that means. Just as an artist creates a piece of art and it is an expression of His heart, so God created each of us as an expression of His heart. He created us as His handiwork exactly how he intended. He wove us together in the womb and placed us in the exact family and environment that would bring about exactly what He intends for each of us. He has sent, sends, and is sending that which we need when we need it to lead us to where He wants us to go. The path is just as important as the destination.

He created me as an artist from the beginning. He also allowed the intense creativity and artistic nature in me to be crushed. So destroyed was the artist in me that I would never have dreamed saying I was creative 10 years ago, much less call myself an artist. It was so crushed anyone looking would have called it dead, but slowly over the last 5 to 7 years God has been busy resurrecting that which seemed impossibly desolate and demolished.

I have had the desire to draw for my whole life. I don't mean wow it would be pretty cool to be able to draw. I mean a passionate burning desire to be able to visually express what I see in my head. It has been such a unfulfilled, yet desperate desire in my heart. I have struggled and struggled trying to learn to draw. Then when the time was right...

I found a class online. Actually, several from a web site called
I am actually learning how to draw. I have drawn faces. I have NEVER been able to draw faces. They might not look like a particular person, yet, but I can draw a face that looks like a face. I have had enough success that I am thinking about a drawing class in school. This has been such a huge desire and I really thought it was impossible. If you have an inkling toward wanting to paint and draw, but find it a bit challenging go check out Tam at Willowing.

It has been such a journey. There has been so much struggle and frustration and so many tears. There has been doubt and spiritual war over this art thing. I have such harsh critics and an old mean operating system that runs in the background of my mind all the time.

Every part of this journey has been so important. It was important for the artist to be crushed. He created the artist and He allowed the destruction of the artist. When the time was right He resurrected the artist. Every part of this journey has been intentional, hand written by my creator; it was important for what He has for me to do that the artist be crushed seemingly beyond repair. As He resurrects it, and there is no doubt He is resurrecting her, the beauty of the struggle brings Him so much more glory than if I had just been born an artist and walked in it my whole life. The end is far greater than the beginning. What He has resurrected out of the ashes of devastation is so much more beautiful and so much grander. I have no doubt that He has great plans for the resurrected artist. I just need to continue to seek Him and grow. I need to be diligent to learn and allow myself to explore. I have to learn not focus on the end result of the art, but delight and rejoice in the creative process. He is setting me freer and freer every day and giving me more and more confidence to create art.

He has sent me so many resources and so much inspiration. He is allowing me to take so many different expressions of creativity and combine them into even more creative types of art. I am drawing, painting, collaging, Art Journaling, quilting, doing fabric and texture art. There are so many beautiful expression that He has brought into my life to combine and work with.

I am an artist. I am no longer afraid to call myself an artist. I am no longer to intimidated to make art. The enemy does not like it and the critic in my head tries to hold me back, but I have gotten free enough to silence the critic most of the time. I recognize the voice is not the voice of my Father and turn to my Father to hear what He has to say. His affirming voice is becoming louder than the critic and the enemy. Art is such a huge part of my life now and I am well aware of the tremendous healing power it has. I have a sneaking suspicion the reason He allowed so much brokenness and struggle was so I could take that struggle, make something beautiful out of it and use it as rocket fuel to power the work He wants me to do bringing healing and art to other broken people.

I read a beautiful book on suffering called The Scent of Water and the author pointed out a scripture I have never seen before, but it speaks so loudly to me especially in the area of art.

Job 14:7-9 "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant."

That is such a beautiful picture of what I just wrote about. Though the tree was cut down and seemed dead beyond resurrection, at the scent of His water, the shoot began to grow. That is how it has been over the last 7 years. Sometimes the art development seriously seemed to be standing still. I doubted the resurrection of the artist was possible at times. I told myself this whole thing was ridiculous at times. But the shoots have been steady growing sometimes slower sometimes faster. Now as I look at the stump it is no longer a stump. It is tree. It has a trunk and branches and leaves. It can weather the storms that enemy sends and the criticism that comes. I can even handle making art that I don't like. It doesn't send me into a fit of self doubt and fear. I can look at it and say, "Well that experiment didn't go well. Guess I will try it another way." I used to be paralyzed by fear of failing or making something ugly. I would get stuck and not even try because I didn't want to "waste supplies". Now I just play and create. I can always get more supplies. Usually even if I don't like what I have created I can change directions and end up with something different that I do like.

The smell of His water woke me up and the constant shower of His grace has grown the dead stump into a pretty stout tree which is getting stronger by the day. Hopefully, I can be shade to other broken people so they can have a safe place to smell His water and be resurrected into trees as well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Processing through the trip

I am just going to say that the next few weeks or months may be the busiest this blog has been in quite a long time. For some reason I just could not express what was going on inside of me via email. I did update, but is was pretty much just dry recounting of the activities of the days. Now that I am home, I see that there is a lot to process and talk about. I just couldn't get myself in the place to do that until I got home. Sitting here now at my desk, on my computer, with my music in my ears and the time to write I can see there is a lot to say. I am not going to be chronological about what I write or even try to totally make sense of it all. There may be a lot sometimes and very little other times. I plan to write about what bubbles to the surface as it churns up. There was so much going on the the secret place of my heart while I was in Ethiopia; I will try to share what I find along the way. Hopefully it will be a blessing to a few who may choose to read. I know it will be a blessing to me to let the words come out of my soul.

So here is what is bubbling this morning. The last couple days in Ethiopia I came across a book called Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire For God, not Food by Lysa Turkherst. It was on my mom's nook and I had already read the two books I put on the Nook for my trip. I began to read it and God began to really unearth some stuff in me. I have known that I have food issues for a long time, but I have not really been able to get the the true root of the problem. Nor have I ever been able to feel like I have been given the weapons and tools I needed to be able to find victory, by His grace, in the food battle.

I really need to back up a few steps and say that I think that the timing for beginning to read this book could not have been more perfect. I had just finished read the book Forever by Paul David Tripp ( I cannot even go into that book; it will have to be another post). I also read The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (another one that maybe will bubble to the surface as I write about this trip). I had also finished reading The Invisible Hand by RC Sproul right before the trip. These three books all seemed to prepare me for the message God had for me about food through Lysa.

The trip did not end being exactly what we had all planned. One of the main organizations I had gone to serve with in Ethiopia was still hung up in the licensing stage when I arrived. None of us dreamed that things would still be hung up when we planned this trip 4 months ago. Because I had read the Invisible Hand before I left and had spent a lot of time meditating on the providence of God and how He is in, among and behind everything that goes on in our lives, I was not really concerned or disrupted by anything that was going on. I knew that God had arranged every detail of this trip from the suitcases that did not arrive with me, the disrupted water in the house, and the slow license process. I was able to really, for the most part, rest in His hand and take what He had in mind for the trip. I had a lot of time to read and pray and rest. The first couple days were very relaxed and slow. Since I tend to run 90 to nothing all the time, I felt pretty sure that God wanted me to have some slow days. My mind even goes while I sleep. I think that is why I am such a light sleeper, because I am constantly taking in and interpreting the details around me even while I sleep. The rest and time to read and slow down was really good for me. I knew that since God was totally in control of the my life and the universe that some time was exactly what He thought I needed. I really thought that I was going to Ethiopia to serve people and love on children. I have come to realize that I went to Ethiopia to be changed. This trip was more about what God wanted to do in me than what He wanted me to do for Him. I had no idea that God was taking me around to world to do a quiet, gentle, steady reworking of my heart. Each day He would wake me up, place me on His potters wheel and gently form me, remove junk in preparation to return me to my family, community and church a vessel prepared to love in a way completely different than I had ever been able to love. He asked me to go and I said yes, I just had no idea that He was sending me across the globe to do some really deep healing in me. He took me away from my responsibilities, my distractions, the things that keep me wound so tight so that He could unwind the tightness in me.

I am a morning person to the tee. It can be obnoxious how early my body decides to wake up with no alarm just naturally roll over and have no more sleep in my eyes. This gave me many hours to be still, pray, read, and journal while I waited for the normal people to wake up. I really do not mind that at all; it is, in fact, my very favorite time of the day. If I wake up later, I usually feel pretty disappointed about missing out on my quiet dark morning. I don't think I really had any idea while I was in Ethiopia the depth of what God was doing in the secret places inside of me.

I still don't know if I can totally define the changes inside of me. I felt God speaking, untangling, and removing stuff. I had bought a pretty thick journal to take on trip so I would have something kind of special to keep track of the trip. I pretty much filled up like 3/4 of it in two weeks; that is crazy. As I journaled and prayed I felt a recurring desire and prayer come out of me that I would go back distinctly changed by my trip and that I would carry back the beauty and gentleness I felt God stirring in me.

So this morning I was so struck by some distinct differences I see more clearly now that I am back in my normal environment. First, as I did Pilate's this morning, I realized for the first time in my life I did not feel hatred for my body. I struggled with body image and a very distinct hatred for the shape my body takes. I never remember a time in my life when I felt content about my weight or shape. I have felt fat my whole life. Even at times in my life when I have been a good weight and been in shape, I was never happy. I have always felt completely disgusted in my body. There was a chapter in the Made to Crave book that talked about beauty and finding beauty in beauty God gave us. It really began to sink in and remove some really strong lies I have believed for as long as I remember. It started to remove some unrealistic expectations in me. I realize the utter arrogance that it takes to call what God creates flawed. I have spent my whole life telling God that He should have done better when he made me. I have bought into the idea that I did not measure up to some impossible standard. Then one day riding in the van I realized that if God wanted us all to be the same shape, size and build, He would have made us that way. The beauty is in the amazing diversity He placed in all of us. We are beautiful b/c we are different. We are beautiful because some of us are tall and thin, some of us are short and stocky; we are all different sizes and shapes because He thinks that is beautiful. Who am I to tall my creator that what He made is not good enough? He is the artist? He chooses what is beautiful. So I started asking Him to help me see the beauty in how He uniquely and individually made me. Knowing that I cannot change my heart, only He can, I began to ask Him to change my heart and to help me see myself the way He saw me.

Then there were several things in the book that really stood out to me. Lysa said that the number on the scale tells me how much my body weighs, but it does not tell me my value. In another part of the book she talks about a friend of hers and how God helped her see that she could not measure success in a week by the number on the scale. The measure of success is a few questions: did I overeat this week, did I exercise more this week, did I eat in secret or out of anger or frustration, did I at any time choose food over God, before I hopped on the scale did I feel like it was a successful week? Questions like that look at the heart which is really the most important factor. These two passages really took that food out of the physical realm and into the heart realm for the first time for me.

Is my body at it most optimum weight, right now? Probably not. I could be in better shape definitely. Now, though, my focus doesn't feel so much about a number on the scale or a clothing size. My focus can be on seeking God and measuring where I am at by my heart. The weight is a symptom of a sinful relationship with food. Going on some crazy restrictive diet and exercise program will never be the answer. I have done that over and over. I have been a yo-yo. I have lost and gained that way without ever dealing with the heart of the matter. I realize in Ethiopia that food is the oldest addiction I have. It goes back farther than I can remember. It by far supersedes the drugs or alcohol. Sugar was the first drug I indulged in. I have often talked about how my alcoholism can definitely continues in the way I eat sugar. The thought had never occurred to me that the alcohol is a continuation of the sugar addiction from very early childhood. Talk about having things reversed. Sugar was the earliest comfort I can remember. I remember being very very young and binging on candy and cookies.

Having been shown so many things and dealing with the roots of the tree as well as being given tools to deal with this problem led me to this huge breakthrough this morning. I am not where I would like to be, but I know what I need to do to get there. I can measure progress not by numbers on a scale, but by where my heart has been for the day or week.

As I did my Pilate's this morning, I realized that I did not hate my body. I was content. My value for the first time in my life was not tied to how I looked. I could see the beauty in the way God made me. I was able to delight in the amazing way that my muscles move and respond to the exercises I was doing. When I got out of the shower across from the floor to ceiling mirrored closet doors, I did not look at my hips with absolute disgust and disdain. I looked and it was okay. I was beautiful exactly how I was. I am not perfect, but the imperfection is the beauty. I cannot ever remember looking in the mirror and being happy with what I saw. I cannot even put into words how huge this is for me. Only God could unravel that huge mess that has been wrapped around me for my entire life.

I feel like I have come home from Ethiopia more whole and free. I feel this contentment and rest in my soul that I have never felt. It's like God removed the knob inside of me that kept everything wound so tight. I feel loose, at peace; the intensity tightness is gone. I don't feel like there is such a tightness in my chest. There is an ease about the way I feel, walk, think, and react. I feel so at peace and rest.

I guess that is all there is to bubble for now.

Friday, January 13, 2012

So I told story. I am doing another update. I will probably have to add in a lot of details about things I have seen and done here when I get home and have time to process. I have so much to say about today. I will just say that today I got to realize a dream that has been in my heart for years. I got to go and tour the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. It was started in 1959 by Dr. Hamlin. The grounds are so beautiful and the wards are so peaceful. There were so many girls there. It was amazing that so many were being helped, but so sad that so many needed to be helped. It was very beautiful to be there, but also very hard to see. There were so many really really young girls. I can't really put all the details in right now. I promise a longer post about the hospital once I get home and get to process and take time to write in the comfort of my space. At one point we went into the physiotherapy room and got to see them doing some physical therapy. These are the girls who have had Fistulas for 5 to 7 or even more years. They were thought of as sick and sent to die in a hut in the back of a relatives house. They basically sit cross legged in a tiny structure, refuse to eat and wait to die. It took all the strength I could must not to fall apart. I did cry, but I managed to keep some sort of control. I wanted to run up to them, hug them, and tell them how beautiful they are. They have to do months of physical therapy and highly nutritious food to even be strong enough to have surgery to fix the fistula. It was really really hard to see. I feel like I want to do something more to help make things better for them. I know that most of them are having their lives dramatically changed by being treated at the Fistula hospital, but I wish I could do something more for them. At the end we got to go in and buy things the girls had made while they recover. Really amazing beautiful things that I bought a ton of. The money for the crafts goes directly to the girls when they leave the hospital. Like I said, there is so much more to post, but it will be later. It was a beautiful and emotional day. It was the realization of another dream I had in my heart. I got to buy some super cool shoes here called Soul Rebels. They are awesome and made in country here. They are really unique and WAY better than Toms which I refuse to wear b/c everyone wears them now. Only a few more days til I come home.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There is not too much to report. I got to go to an international church yesterday. It was very African. I had a pretty laid back day the rest of the day. I took the first nap I have taken since I got here and ended up regretting it b/c I could not sleep. Sunday night I watched the Benkerts children so they could have a night out. It was nice. We made puppets out of pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids had a blast. It was fun to see how creative they were with different kinds of creatures. We had vegetable soup for dinner.

Today (Monday) we went the market. It was really neat. I bought some stuff bring home so I can cook a little Injira food. I love all the food here and could eat like this every day. I think I could give up most of the western diet. I understood a little better what was going on in the market today. I took a few pictures. I got a lot of attention in the market. I had pants and a long sleeves on when I went into the market the first day. Today I had capris and a short sleeve shirt. People kept stopping and commenting on my tattoos using the Amharic word for beautiful. The market is really really neat. I had a great time walking around. This week I am going to Debre Zeit to do some art with an art class that one of Jessie's friend teaches. Later in the week I am going to tour the Addis Ababa Fistula hospital and I am also going to go and take pictures of the kids at the Embracing Hope for Ethiopia program to give as gifts to the moms.

I am definitely missing my family. I am kind of ready to get back to the normal routine.

sorry this is so short. Nothing to exciting to report.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hopefully, I can get further today. I was pretty upset when I realized on the way over to the EHE project that I couldn't do the pictures for the kids and the moms b/c my suitcases were somewhere in never land. They were telling Larry and mom that they did not know where they were and Ethiopia was telling me that they were in Dallas. I was trying to keep my cool, but I was not very excited. I came to the point that morning over to the project I started to think that the suitcases were not going to come to me and that I just needed to let go and be okay with that.

I went to the project and got to spend a lot of time visiting with Jerry and Christy Shannon. It was so great to hear how things started out and how much the moms had been impacted. I got to meet the little girl that I sponsor and take her picture. She is usually really shy about new people, but she was all smiles with me and crawled all over me. I took pictures of all of the kids and played a lot. They were so happy and cute. Some of the older ones (they are all 3 and under) kept talking to me in Amharic, but I could not understand them. They love to get pictures made and look at themselves on the camera after. I sad down and worked on some ideas on jewelry for the beads that had been made.

At the end of the day they were doing distribution of goods to the moms. They get Teff and oil every 3 months, plus they got clothing distribution and sanitation distribution b/c it was Ethiopian Christmas this weekend. It is such a great project and it is so good to see how much the little that EHE is able to do is impacting the families. I am blown away to think that these childrens' whole trajectory of life has been shifted b/c of what the Shannons are doing. Some of these babies were very sick and on the brink of death when they were enrolled in the program. To see them walking and smiling and growing is amazing. Many of the moms were not from Addis Ababa, but had come here either looking for a better life or with husbands that have since abandoned them. They have no family and no one here. One of the amazing and great things that has happened due to being in EHE is that the moms have developed community together. They aren't alone anymore. Last week the Shannon's got approved to expand from 31 children to 60, so they will begin this week hiring new staff and interviewing applicants to expand. I am so blessed to be able to be here and see such an amazing program impacting so many people. I feel like the ripples of these type of programs are going to go so much further than we can imagine. If you are looking for a really great and impactful place to give consider this program. At the end of the day I was able to meet Hannah's mom (the little girl our family sponsors). It was so amazing. She told me through the translator thank you and that it was beautiful what I was doing to help. I took a picture with them. It was so great. I am going to print one for her to keep as well.

At the end of the day, Jerry got a text from Levi that the airline called and asked why we hadn't come to get my bags yet. Levi had called just a couple hours earlier and was told that they were still in Dallas. Needless to say, we were very excited. I ate dinner with the Shannon's then Levi picked me up and we headed to the airport. Getting out of the airport the bags have to be run through the xray machine again. They thought my sidewalk chalk was medicine, but when I showed it to them, they let me through. All in all it was a good day. The Bring love In project got an approval letter too, so they are one step closer to being open. Lot's of good news.

At this point it was Wednesday and I had still not been able to take a hot shower, or any shower for that matter.

Thursday we left in the morning and headed north outside of Addis Ababa to the Portuguese bridge. It is an area about two hours north out in the country. It was beautiful. I got some really great pictures. It was super super super cold. I thought I was going to freeze to death. I just thought that the Benkerts house was cold. I did get to take a hot shower. That was really exciting. It was my first hot shower since leaving Dallas on Saturday. We had a great time. In the cabin, though, I had trouble getting to sleep. I was seriously freezing. Even with two wool blankets on the bed my feet were frozen. And the bed was made out of concrete with a thin pad on it. As I dozed in and out trying to sleep, I just kept thinking, "oh man, there are people sleeping in this cold on hard floors and that is just the life they have. I get to go back to the states and have a soft bed, warm shower, and heat. I feel so sad for those who have no other options.

We got up and had another relaxing day at the bridge watching the kids have fun then we headed back. Since the next day was Melkam Gena (Ethiopian Christmas) we passed a market that was swarming with people preparing. I got some really great pictures as we drove. I hope to be able to post them when I get back to the states.

We got back into Addis late last night and we were all totally warn out. I was also burnt to a crisp. We are closer to the sun and closer to the equator. When I got up this morning, this was the first day I really really missed my family. I can't wait to hug their necks. Two weeks was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Jessie Benkert and I went to the movie and lunch today (Saturday). It was really nice. I am going to church with the Shannon's tomorrow. I will try and update next chance I get.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I have been out of internet contact the last day and a half, so I just keep getting further and further behind on my updates.

On my last update I forgot to talk about the bucket bath. The water here has not been working right; it started a few weeks before I got here. That has made things pretty interesting. I really don't mind it at all. It does make things a little more complicated, but I feel like it gives me a more realistic view of life here. I am glad that things are somewhat challenging so that I get the real missionary experience, not a watered down version of it. I have been brushing my teeth and washing my hands with cups of water. We haul water upstairs to fill the tanks in the toilet for flushing. On the first day here, after the day and a half of flying, I felt pretty dirty. I got to take a bucket bath. We boiled a couple of kettles of water, mixed it with some cold water and I used that to wash my hair and body off. It was FREEZING!!!! Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like to be cold. I think I mentioned in my last update that though it gets warm outside each day the nights are cool and the house stays really cold because it does not get hot enough to warm the concrete. I know Larry would love it. I could go out and get warm and he could stay in the cold house. I had a pretty good attitude about the bucket bath, but it was not my favorite. I opted out of taking a bucket bath for the next couple days. I just put in extra deodorant and put my hair in a pony tail. I understand that is just kind of how it goes here.

The second day I was here, my first full day, we got up and had a pretty laid back day. We had planned to go early to the Shannons house and look at the project they run, Embracing Hope Ethiopia, but ended up hanging around the house due to some other things that needed to be taken care of. The way things go, plans are pretty loose around here. Nothing ever really goes as planned or in the timing planned. I did wake up at my usual time about 430. I guess that is really where I left off the last one. I got to read a bit and journal and just relax. That must have been what God knew that I needed. After all the other stuff was taken care of we headed off to the Shannons'. I got to meet Christy first and just as I knew I would totally loved her. We got to visit a bit. After a little bit of visiting, we headed back out to come home. I got to drive by the project and see it in passing. My heart just felt so drawn to it. I was so sad that we could not stop. I really felt such a connection to that part of town. There is a visible change as you head to the part of town where Embracing Hope is. It is in the Korah village which is connected to the land fill. You can see the poverty in the buildings and in the way the people dress. I felt such a draw toward the people. I could not wait til the next day when we could go back and spend some real time at the project.

Levi and I left about 830 am the next morning so I could be dropped off to spend the day at EHE (Embracing Hope Ethiopia). I had packed up the photo printer prepared to take pictures of the kids so we could print them and give them to the mom. On the way over, I realized that I did not have the picture paper to print the pictures on because it was in my suitcases. That morning was the first morning that I was really kind of bothered by the fact the I didn't have my suitcases.

I have to end here b/c the battery is about to die on the computer and everyone has gone to bed. I will pick up more tomorrow.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This one is probably going to be short b/c I have had a long eventful day and I am tired. But I don't want to get too far behind. I want to get through the travel stuff so I can get to the fun stuff.

So I got on the plane from London to Addis Ababa. I had a window seat with someone sitting beside me, so it wasn't nearly as comfortable as the flight to London was. I read for a bit, then fell asleep. Walking around London had been pretty exhausting. I woke up not too long after take off. The guy beside me was really nice. We struck up a conversation about our huge carry on fees. As it turned out he was a Economics professor. We chatted about politics and economics, most of which I did not understand. I wanted to be polite and let him talk though so I nodded and listened. He had been born in Ethiopia and was traveling back to visit. He had been in the US for 36 years. At some point during the flight he got up to go to the bathroom and I jumped up to grab something out of my backpack. I lifted the arm rest up to get up quickly before he came back. I forgot to put it back down. When I fell back asleep and he did too, he ended up all sprawled out on my side in my space. Because the arm rest wasn't down he was seriously in my space. I couldn't, however, put the arm rest down without being rude. So I dozed in and out and reminded myself about how many people warned me that people in Ethiopia do not have personal space or respect for it. I figured this was a good time to start getting used to it and and to be reminded that life wasn't all about me. I did not sleep so well during this leg of the journey.
We arrived in Addis and I was so glad to finally be here. It was definitely a long journey. I had to wait in a really long line to get my visa after waiting a very long time in the wrong line. Then I went get my luggage. My carry on which I had been forced to check came out, but unfortunately after seeing the same box of oil go past me on the luggage belt I realized that the other bags did not make it with me. I had known that there was a chance that the bags wouldn't have made it on the plane. I went to find Levi and figure out where I needed to file a claim. My carry on and back pack had to go through a security check point xray machine. The man tried to get me to pay a bribe to get my photo printer in, but I played dumb and acted like I didn't understand what he was trying to say to me. He finally got annoyed and gave up on me. I got my bags and found Levi. We found out I had to go back into the main arrival gate to file a claim. At the claim site I filed a claim and found out that my bags were still in Dallas. Wow!!!! She assured me that they would go on the next plane to Addis Ababa once she entered the claim and should be here by the next day. I didn't get them until I had been here for 3 days. I was pretty tired but super excited about finally being in Ethiopia. The first few minutes of talking the Jessie and Levi were slightly awkward, but after about 15 minutes we were like old friends. I really love these guys. I feel so comfortable in their house and with them. It's like we have been friends for a lifetime. I knew that the best way to settle into this time zone was to stay awake all day and go to sleep at bed time. I really wanted to do that b/c I didn't want to miss any time here. I wanted to get into the groove and be able to hit the ground running. I fought fiercely to stay awake. There were many times I got myself dozing off sitting straight up. I went to the big market with Jesse; that was neat. I went to the grocery store. We ate a delicious dinner cooked by the cook that prepares food for them. I kept dozing off, but I would get up and walk around when I realized that I had fallen asleep. I was determined to make the transition in one day and not lose any time. Finally at 745 my eyes were starting to cross even standing up and Jessie said she thought it was late enough. I went upstairs and realized that I did not have my super comfy pj's and my security thermal shirt and was sad. Jessie lent me some clothes to sleep in. The house is like a meat locker; seriously. The sun doesn't really hit the house right to warm it and it is all concrete, so it is super cold. I wasn't really expecting that. I put in my ear plugs and fell deep asleep. I woke up at my normal 430 am which I was excited about. It is my favorite time of the day and gave me quiet time to pray and prepare for the day before anyone else was awake. I did my Pilates and went down stairs for coffee and quiet time. I have to say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ethiopian coffee. We drink it in a french press at the Benkerts and it is so delicious. It is the best coffee I have ever drunk. I will be bringing a bunch home. I do not like Starbucks Ethiopia Sidamo at all so I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. I love it. I don't want to drink anything else. It has the best flavor and undertone. It is amazing. Oh and milk comes in a bag here. Weird. More tomorrow. I promise tomorrow we will get into the really interesting stuff.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Flight

Okay here is the update about the trip over. I got to the airport pretty early and made it through security without too much trouble. My glitter and my printer showed up on the xray machines as a problem, so I got to have the security person go through my bag. I was nervous about the bags, what would be a problem or whether my big backpack would be a problem.

I had a good time sitting, reading, working on the hand quilt that I brought to start on this trip. It was nice to not have any real responsibilities or people to tend to. The first complication happened right off the bat. The flight was supposed to leave at 5:25 pm. At 5 they told us that they were waiting to hear from the crew, but that there was going to be a slight delay. At 5:15 they informed us that the pilot had called in sick and they were waiting for the pilot that was going to take his place was tied up in Houston due to weather. The flight was delayed for 2 hours which would effect anyone with a connecting flight in Washington, so we were told to line up so we could try and get things worked out to get to where we were going. While in line the Flight was cancelled. I was a little stressed because I have never traveled internationally like this, so I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I was reminded that the world is not about me and that God is in control. That being the case I saw no reason to get upset. Others around me were getting upset, but I didn't see that it would help the situation at all to get upset or be rude. I just started praying that He would help me stay calm, not be rude and to work things out. As it turned out, everyone was instructed to go to the ticket counter to rebook, except those who were going to London or Boston. That was grace number one. Three of us were going to London. We were rebooked onto an American Airlines flight direct to London. We didn't even have to go to Washington DC. The Flight attendant told me that the flight left in 30 minutes, so I had to literally run to get to the sky tram to the other gate. Also, she told me she wasn't sure that they would be able to get my bags onto the plane before I left. The other option was to leave the next day which totally changed flights, arrival times, etc. I decided I could run and that I would chance the suitcases. When I got to the gate, the Flight Attendant put me in the back row with an empty seat next to me, that would be grace number 2. That was great; I slept like a baby in the plane on the way from DFW to London.

I arrived in London super excited to be there. I left the airport, took the Express train into the city and took off walking. Well, first I checked my rolling suitcase into a storage place; the guy at the storage place gave me a map. I really just wondered around the city. I really had no idea where I was going, but I was really content to be just wondering. It was quiet, there was no pressure to have to be anywhere or worry about where anyone else wanted to go or what they wanted to do. I really enjoyed the quiet, aimless wondering. I found a street with artist exhibiting and selling art. I really like some of the art. I bought a picture that was small enough to put in my backpack. I loved a bunch that I wanted to buy, but I just couldn't get them into me bag. I got the contact of both of the artist who had art that I really loved. Both of them said they could ship to me. The artist I bought from was really sweet and really grateful that I bought one of his pictures. He told me that 2011 had been a really hard year for him and that I had made his day and his year on the last day of the year because I bought a piece of his art. That made buying the picture even better. I bought the picture b/c I really liked it, he negotiated a good price with me, and as an artist I know that I put my heart and my soul into the things that I make just hoping that what I put into it touches someone else. Having someone love something I made and buy it from me really means a lot and makes my day as well. It just made it doubly wonderful that it meant so much to me. I also enjoyed visiting with the two artist for a little while. Here is the web site for one of the artists
. This is the one I couldn't buy from b/c his pieces were too big. I really wanted a couple of them and hope to be able to purchase from him when I get back.

I found a park and decided to sit down and write about what had happened so far in my journey. At the park a squirrel came up literally a foot from me. I will post pictures of that later. I wondered around some more, but I had worn the wrong shoes. My feet were beginning to hurt really bad. My back was hurting b/c my back pack was ridiculously full causing it to be ridiculously heavy. Once it started to rain on me I decided to call it a day. I had brought a rain poncho, but had left it in the bag I stored rather than having it in my backpack. Yay me!!!! I found some stuff to buy for the kids from London and headed back to the train station. By that point I was exhausted and my back and feet were killing me. I thought it was silly that I had not seen any real tourist spots nor taken a tour. I did enjoy being able to just wonder around pressureless. I had to pay to go to the bathroom at Paddington station. I thought that was pretty silly. I asked a lady to help me with which coins to insert and she said it was on her and paid for me to enter the bathroom. At that point I picked up my bag and headed for the train.

I got back to the airport with lots of time to spare and hung out waiting for the plane. Challenge number two came when the gate finally open for boarding. There I found out that our carry ons could only be 7 kilos. I had been totally unaware of this restriction. I would have definitely packed differently had I known that. I packed my carry ons pretty heavy so that my checked bags would be under weight. The checked bags ended up having like 15 pounds to spare. So when they weighed my bags to be 21 kilos and said the charge was 100 pounds or $200 dollars my heart was not so happy. What could I do, though. Either I pay the fee and check my other carry on or leave my bag (with my clothes, printer, some of my craft supplies and a lot of other stuff) in London. I had prayed an hour earlier for God to give me grace and help me be kind, and to behave in a way the honored Him and dignified the people that I encountered. I prayed that b/c I knew I was exhausted, my feet and back were hurting and I know it can be challenging to be kind and Christlike when in that state of mind. Standing in front of the airline guy who was telling me that I had to give him $200 for my bag, I was really grateful that the Holy Spirit had inspired and stirred me to pray that prayer. I heard a lot of people get really angry and mistreat the airline guy. I didn't want to be one of those people. It was a very large chunk of my mission trip money to cough up. I spoke silently to God telling Him that this was all His money anyway and that the bags were full b/c of all the art supplies and things for my missionary friends that my other bags contained. I told Him that all those art supplies and what I was going to be able to do with them was worth more than $200. In the end I was able to keep my cool and be at peace. God provided all the money for my trip and He knew what I needed to be able to pay my way in Ethiopia for two weeks and even knew that this money was going to be required of me even when I did not. I just had to see the $200 as a gift to the Lord which came from being able to bring art supplies and love on kids. He will provide and take care of me while I am here. I was able to pay the guy, tell him that I was really sorry that he was being mistreated by so many people and to have a great day. All and all God was able to help me take it all in stride, and not act un Christlike.

I will take up the flight from London to Addis Ababa later. I am out of time and there is stuff to talk about on that flight.