Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Can't Stop Smiling

How is it that I've been living in San Pedro for over a month already? It's so strange, because I don't feel like I've been here that long. In fact, time has lost it's pace and I feel like I haven't lived here for long and also like I've always lived here. I'm not sure what all that means, but it makes me think that I must be adjusting well to my new life.

I love school. I love my kids and I love what I do everyday. For so long I've struggled with this notion of joy, and now, I feel that while I don't completely understand what joy is, I'm living joyfully. I wake up in the morning excited to go to Las Palmas, I'm excited to see the kids and give them hugs and high fives. I'm excited to see my fellow employees and smile at them in the hall. I love watching the parents bring their kids to school.

And this isn't to say that everyday doesn't have it's challenges. It's not all peaches and cream. But the excitement I feel everyday outweighs the challenges. And besides, if there wasn't something everyday to challenge me and make me think, I wouldn't be happy. The adventure that I'm living right now is made by these challenges. Yes, sometimes the kids don't listen or they can't keep their hands to themselves, but this is where I'm suppose to be and these kids have become my ministry. Its not where I pictured myself serving, but I love it anyway.

I feel like this is such a mushy blog, but I can't help this excitement in me. I can't stop smiling to people that I see. And I love the effect that smiling at people can ripple. They smile back and its beautiful. It makes me happy. I met a guy at the store the other day when I was in line for the ATM. It had been raining, and I had gotten soaked on my motoconcho, and the line was halfway through the store. But I smiled at everyone. The guy in front turned away and thanked me for smiling even though it would appear that I was in a situation that would make most people frown. This is why I smile at people. They notice. It makes me think that Christ is showing and that's what I want people to see.

I just sometimes can't believe how much joy I feel right now. My birthday is in a few days, and normally I hate my birthday. It's just another reminder that my life isn't going according to plan; an anniversary of "dear autumn, you fail as a person", but this year I'm looking forward to my birthday. I feel excited for it knowing that perhaps I'm not exactly in the place I want to be, I'm where God wants me to be. And for that, I'll smile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where Are My Poems?

Last night as I was praying myself to sleep, God whispered to me that I hadn't written Him any poems lately. And He was right. And as I laid in my bed with the noise of the street below me, He became my muse and inspired me on the topic to write about Him. But as I sit here and type, I cannot remember what that inspiration was. It makes me sad. I feel like I now owe Him two poems. And as soon as I can remember, I shall sit down and work on both of them with an overflowing heart.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Missionary Adventure Begins

So I have arrived to San Pedro. It was a long day getting here. It was a long time getting to this point in the total spectrum, but that's another blog. In fact, that's already been blogged. However, the day I left West Virginia to get to where I am at now was just as long. I thought I was ready, I was packed, I had prayed this up, I had an apartment waiting for me in the Dominican, and yet, things weren't as easy as I imagined.

I cried. I cried almost the whole way from Charleston to New York. The only reason I stopped cry was because I fell asleep on the plane. I woke up just in time to see the statue of Liberty and the New York skyline lit up against the morning sun. It was beautiful, but I was sad. And I was terrified. I kept thinking that I had made the wrong decision, that my Grandmother had been right and I wasn't as grown up as I thought. I prayed and prayed asking God to let me know that this was were I was suppose to be going. In my heart, God kept repeating, "you promised". That simple little phrase over and over. "You promised" Was that all the bread I would be given that day? Apparently yes as every time I teared up, all I would think was, "you promised". Most of the day passed in this way, I would cry, God would remind me, I would take a deep breath and be still till I cried again. All in all, it I was glad that I had decided to wear a scarf that day since it became my tissue.

In this state I arrived in Santo Domingo. As we sat on the runway making our way to the terminal, I bowed my head and told God that this was it. I was here, and it was time to toughen up and trust in Him. I had made a promise after all. And God doesn't make or take promises lightly. Ask Jesus, God follows through on what He says, and as His children, we need to understand and follow His example. And those were my last tears.

As I worked my way through customs and the baggage claim area I felt happier and stronger with each step. As I met Wendy and we got in our van to take the hour ride to San Pedro, I felt even better. Once we crossed the bridge into the city, I asked myself how could I possibly been so foolish to think that this wasn't where I was suppose to be? I love this city. I love living and being here. I love the people, I love the culture.

I know now that I made the right decision. I'm just a little hard headed and stubborn when it comes down to the grit of it.

Yesterday, I stood on my balcony and watched the traffic and people below. It was strange to think that a decision and commitment that I made in 2007 in a little room in Costa Rica would finally come full circle. I promised God I would be a missionary. I promised Him I would go where He wanted to send me. I promised Him my service. And here I am today. I am a missionary to the Dominican Republic in San Pedro. And while I'm scared, I'm willing. This morning in church, Pastor Gary spoke about putting your faith and trust in God in whatever situation you find yourself in. I'm putting a lot of faith and trust in God. Every day it's an adventure of what God will bring. He's my financial support, He's stands at the bottom of the steps to my apartment and makes sure that no one who has no business on my steps stays off of them, He's riding beside me on motoconchos, He's my tongue and my ears. He's my everything because I can do nothing without Him. And I don't even want to try. Which is a good thing for me to do. As Pastor Lemming quoted one day from Charles Stanely, "obey God and leave the consequences to Him". And right now, that's my plan.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two Days To San Pedro

I leave to move to the Dominican Republic in less than two days. The one word I can think of to describe what I'm feeling right now is surreal. I am so excited to be on my own and work at Las Palmas doing what God has called me to do, but at the same time I am terrified to be on my own and work at Las Palmas doing what God has called me to do. It's a strange place to be, and it's even stranger sitting here on my couch watching King of the Hill while waiting for my laundry to finish knowing that in two days I'll be sitting in San Pedro listening to motoconchos whizzing past my windows.

I keep thinking that I hope I made the right decision. There's part of me that worries that somehow this is a mistake. However, then I am reminded of Romans 10 and a promise I made in 2007 while in Costa Rica. I promised God I would go to the mission field when He called me to go, and here we are. Not to go would be in direct disobedience to what I promised to God. The Christian life is a life that has to be lived in obedience to God. Not to go, in my mind is a sin and a step back in my walk with Christ. And all of this is not to leave someone thinking that I don't want to go, by all means no! I love missions, I love working in ministry, and I love the thought of a spanish mission field. But I know that desire/want does not equal out to fulfillment without action.

I guess the hardest part of all this is that I never wanted to go alone. Never. I always imagined myself going to the mission field with my husband. It would be our dream and our calling together. Now I find myself quite the unclaimed blessing leaving everything to pursue God. But isn't that what God has been teaching me for so long? How can I expect myself to chase God if I won't do it alone? God wants a relationship with me, not me and Mr. me. For me, it's scarier to go alone, but it's also more adventurous. And isn't that what I've been craving for months?

I just pray that I don't disappoint God. And I pray that I will learn to be content by His Presence alone. I also pray that Mr. me will be revealed soon, and that I would be the woman that was worth waiting to find.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight

i shall wear midnight
wrapping it like a silky shawl
strands slipping and sliding
across my smooth shoulders

i shall steal the moon
slide it slowly on my finger
like a wedding ring
sparkling radiance on my hand

i shall pluck the brightest stars
weaving them in the strands
of my space swept hair
dusty glitter gleaming

i shall dance on Saturn's icy rings,
dip my toes in the creamy milky way,
i shall span the entire galaxy,
stopping short of the end.

i shall run between moonbeams
leap across the dark side
bouncing into the weightless atmosphere
backstroke from Mars to Pluto

and i shall wear midnight

Monday, April 11, 2011

What's Holding Me Back....

My head and heart have been a whirlwind of thoughts and prayers lately. I feel that the opportunity of a lifetime is before me, and I have one hurdle holding me back.

My family.

My heart has been so torn in two these past few days especially. I told dad about working at the palms for about nine months; he got quiet. he asked a few questions, which I tried to answer, knowing that nothing I could say would be what he wanted to hear. At the end of it all he simply said, "If you do this, will it get it out of your system?" as if the mission field and the Dominican haven't been in my system since my first trip. I wanted to get defensive, but I held my tongue.

Telling mamaw was even worse. She said I wasn't grown up enough, I wouldn't like it, and I hadn't forgiven my mother. That last one was close to home; I can't shake that one. Then she said the one thing that I knew she felt every time I get close to the idea of not living at home. "You’re just running". Yes, I’ve tried to run before, to Liberty, but it slammed in my face. I knew I was running then, knew it, and wasn't ashamed. But this time, it's different. This is an opened door, not a forced one. And I don't feel like I’m running this time. This time, I know that while I’m not the best choice and that I still have many things to work on, that God wants me.

I went to a video conference the weekend before last. Priscilla Shirer was the speaker. She mentioned a time in her life where her hair started to fall out and the emotional pain and stress it caused her. I could sympathize all too well with how she felt. My fingers on my right hand reached up to stroke my hair, the baby hairs on my crown where they were growing back. I remembered how I would be in the shower or brushing my hair, and those same fingers would run through and come out with a clump that should have been attached to my head. I remember holding back tears as I would try to wash all my fallen hair down the drain, but it was wrapped around my hand, or standing over the trash can everyday cleaning off my brush because of all the strands attached to it. I knew all too personal where Priscilla was going with this topic.

She spoke about coming to the point where it was pointless to save it; she would have to have it all chopped off. She said that she got into her car and began to drive to the salon, thinking only of her hair. She then heard the Holy Spirit speak to her. He said, "Priscilla, if you will give me what you damaged, I know I gave it to you whole and beautiful, but now its damaged beyond repair, if you give that to me, I'll give it back to you abundantly" she went to talk about the peace that overcame her as her hair was cut off, the whole time shaking her mass of long, beautiful, healthy curls that adorned her head. God can surely take what is damaged, restore it, and give it back abundantly. We just have to give it in the first place.

And as I think about that story, I have to think beyond the surface of my hair falling out and growing back, but my life in general. I have always described my life, my family, everything about me as broken. Whenever I set my hand to the plow, the plow will shatter. It was even my word on my pencil for the Mexico mission trip. What would happen if I gave everything broken and damaged in my life to God? How would it look once restore and returned abundantly? Think of the autumn He would have to glorify Him. She would be His. But that's not correct; she is already His. She has already been restored and returned abundantly. I carry God inside me.

I read once that this little girl asked her mom if God was bigger than the little girl. The mom told her that God was of course bigger than the little girl. So the little girl thought and asked her mom if God lived inside of the little girl. The mother replied again that of course God lived inside her; He lives inside all His children. The little girl thought again then asked, "If God is bigger than me, but lives inside of me, shouldn't He spill out of me?"

Of course He should. How else should we live but to have God and Christ spill out of us? To think that He couldn't is to negate His omnipotence, and to think that He wouldn't negate His omniscience.

But I feel like falling further and further away from the topic at hand. Will I go to the Dominican for nine months? Will I be the librarian at lass Palmas? I feel like I’m writing the cliffhanger for a bad comic book cartoon. But it's the truth. I’m standing on the edge of a cliff where falling leads to life as a missionary, but with hurt family on the mountain. Should I hurt them or myself? Because I feel like to stay here would be to condemn myself to my own misery and failure. I could live the adventure I’m been praying for, or I could stay here waking up with no more purpose then not to wreck my car that day. That’s no life to live, and I know that.

The bottom line: why does the one thing that makes this decision difficult comes from the very people who should be supporting and cheering me on the hardest? How bad is it to be backstabbed and tripped up by your cheerleaders? Talk about deadly pom-poms.

It makes me glad that God brought Deuteronomy 31:6 to me; its just want I need to hear from Him: "be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them. For it is the Lord your God that goes with you. He will not leave or forsake you."

Hallelujah and amen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

woman of the wind

her hair is charcoal
with shimmery streaks of gray.
a whipping, whirling
wild woman
cloaked in wind
and rain.
dancing with lithe trees
that bend and sway
never quit able to keep up,
bowing to her,
admitting defeat,
she sweeps their crowns
of green and gold,
red and orange,
into her arms
and throws them back.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Regarding Mr. Lewis

I'm in the middle of reading Robert Lewis's book, New Eve, and I have to say that I am having a lot of trouble taking what he says seriously. In this book he is trying to teach women what it means to be a woman by studying Eve. Unfortunately Mr. Lewis spends too very little time on Eve as a woman. For me, his book is yet another foray into this type of feminism tittled "New Feminism" which links womanhood explicitly with being a wife and motherhood.

Now my criticism does not lie with marriage and motherhood, not in the least, but I do have a problem with linking womanhood only to marriage and motherhood. It leaves a gapping hole for women who are single and childless. And while Lewis and many other New Feminist state that single woman with no children can become "spiritual mothers" to those around them, it doesn't seem as if this is enough. Now none of the information or writers that I have looked at says this in black and white, but one gets the feeling that spiritual mothers are not exactly equal to real mothers. This leads me to wonder over and over: if I am not a wife or a mother, am I not a woman? To which I have to say, absolutely not. It seems even ridiculous to me that even an idea can exist. However, it does. And its on that lately I've been coming against.

In his book, Mr. Lewis lists three core truths for a woman (at least one that is trying to be a new Eve). These core truths are: leave and cleave, be fruitful and multiply, and to advance God's kingdom. Now while I believe that these three things are necessary for any woman that is a believer of God, I do not think that they are the most important three of a woman's life (the last one is something that all believers have been charged with keeping). Why isn't a relationship with God, knowing who you are in God, knowing what God has created you to do part of a woman's core calling? I understand that Mr. Lewis is using Eve, but he, like so many other writers and thinkers, only start Eve's life when she is brought to Adam. The Bible, on the other hand, states that Eve had an existence before Adam.

Genesis 2:22 says, "And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man." The Bible tells us that God brought woman to man after woman was made. Therefore there was a time in the life of Eve that she did not know Adam. I have been wondering over this past week what that time would have been like for Eve. Was this the time that she spent knowing her God? Was this her bonding time with her Creator?

I have always loved to imagine the creation of Eve. I always picture her appearing in the shade of trees, in a clearing. It is a private place where no one else is allowed for this moment. There's a slight wind, the breath of God wavering over this place waiting for her to stir, waiting for her to open her eyes. But her's is a patient God, He will wait for her to come to life here in this place that has been set apart for only the two of them. She inhales, her lungs tasting and processing air for the first time. She moves her head, she twitches her fingers and toes, the first of their kind. She opens her eyes and turns her head. Has she heard something? Then she realizes that she has had a thought. They begin to flood her, but not to weigh her down, but instead link her more with the new world around her. Someone is telling her to stand. It is a voice that invites her to find Him, a voice kind and authoritarian though she knows nothing of either word at this moment. All she knows is that this is a voice that speaks to her at her core. It is a voice that she wants to find, to follow, to commit too. She figures out that she possess the ability to move. She sits up and discovers her hands, following them down to her arms. Her hands move over her body, not knowing what it is, but knowing that its her's. She is the ultimate baby. Her toes fascinate her, her legs something long and attached to her feet. "Stand" the voice whispers in excitement. She has never stood before, has never seen anyone stand, and yet she staggers to her feet, drawing herself up to her full height. She smiles in delight. She lifts up her head to the tree tops and squints at the slants of light finding their way through the leaves. Another word comes to her ears, "walk". What is walking, she suddenly knows. She moves a foot, lifting it in the air, and putting it down further then where it was. The next foot throws her off balance, and she stumbles, falling down into the moss under her feet. She's not hurt; there is no pain in this place. Nonetheless, the voice fills the clearing, washing over her, encouraging her to try again. She likes the voice. Ever since she became it had been calling to her. Telling her how beautiful she was, how much he loved her. She had no knowledge of beauty or love, but she knew this voice. It lived in her being; it was a part of her soul and essence. It's words were her sustainment and livelihood.

This is what I like to imagine when I think of Eve. I like to think of her alone with God. I like to think of her in this private place with only her Creator. Perhaps this is the point in her life that we as women today need to identify with first. Perhaps as women of God today, we need to get to this place where all we know and breath is God. Before we can meet our Adam, we have to experience our God on a personal level that cuts us to the very essence of ourselves. Eve isn't woman until she meets Adam. Before that she is a creation of God. She is His and no one else. I think this and all I can conclude is that I am God's first and man's second. Therefore my core callings pertain to God first and to man second. That means that marriage and motherhood fall in the silver pedestal while God takes the gold. To me, this is what it means to be a New Eve. It means loving God first and letting Him fill me till I overflow.

And in light of that, I cannot agree with Mr. Lewis. Not in the least.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kitchen Braveheart

*bad work in progress

The party was picking up. People were mingling, laughing, flirting, and doing all the other activities that make human interaction interesting.

Heathcliff slung back the last his punch and clutched his empty cup near his stomach. He was pretending to be interested in the conversation circling him, but the truth was his eyes were searching the room looking for her. She had disappeared a little while ago with a couple of dirty plates and cups, and hadn't returned to the crowd. Heathcliff had been to quite a few other functions with this same group, and he noticed that it never failed for this girl to disappear and not be seen till the very end of the festivities. He wondered where she went and what she did. Her unusual party habits had struck a nerve with him.

As for the girl herself, she wasn't particularly striking. A little on the chubby side, with brown hair trying to be passed off as auburn. Her teeth were a little crooked, but her smile and laugh lit up her face when she allowed it too. However, Heathcliff loved her eyes. They were blue and they betrayed her emotions more than she could have known. When she was happy, they burned like stars at the birth of an evening. When she was annoyed, they pierced like arrows. But when she was sad, they betrayed her the most. Sadness seemed to flow out of her eyes like a raised river during a heavy rain. It would flood her. Sometimes she would try to hide those eyes, but that just betrayed her all the more. Heathcliff had observed all of this and hid it to himself. Sometimes it made him feel creepy watching her like he did, but he couldn't help it. She mystified him on a number of levels. He decided that this would be the night when he took an active role in his study of this girl.

Detaching himself from a conversation he wasn't really a part of, he took his empty cup to the kitchen,where standing at the sink was the girl. She was running water and squeezing soap, a pile of dishes waiting to be washed on the counter. Heathcliff could only imagine that the water filling up the sink reflected the color of her eyes as she stared into its depths. Spotting the trash can beside the door leading from the kitchen to the dining room beside him, he threw his cup away as noisy as he could, even going so far to shake the bag to make more room for the trash he didn't have. She turned off the water and turned to look at him. Heathcliff didn't move and she smiled at him. It was a smile that said, "I'm-not-as happy-at-seeing-you-as-I-look-but-I'm-going-to-be-friendly". Seeing that he wasn't going to leave, she asked him if he needed anything.

Heathcliff saw this as the perfect place to make his move. He put his hands in his pockets and sauntered over to the sink. Placing one hand on the counter he looked at her. She was staring at him, slight apprehension and puzzlement on her face.

He looked down. "Well, aren't you just the Martha?" he asked her smiling, trying to prove that the question was as jovial as he was.

She shrugged and turned back to the sink. The water had filled it halfway and the soap was billowing on the surface. She picked up a few of the plates and dropped them in with care.
"Perhaps"was her only verbal reply.

"Do you need any help?"

"No, I'm fine." she said without hesitation but with a hint of a sigh. Her hands were moving through the water, one of them holding a scrubbing brush the other reaching for a plate. She proceeded to wash it, moving the brush around the plate, from the outside to the inside, following some internal rhythm.

"I don't mind to help. You wash and I'll dry. Then you can get back to socializing with everyone out there." Heathcliff said as he looked for a towel.

She didn't look at him, but instead held the plate she had just washed and said to it, "That's very nice, but I don't want you to miss out on talking to everyone"

Heathcliff tried not to laugh at her stubbornness and secretly applauded her for the subtlety she had used to get him to leave her. "I rather help you then talk to everyone else."

This one caught her attention. She handed him the washed plate, but didn't let it go when Heathcliff took hold of it. Staring at his collarbone she said, "You would rather help me? No one ever wants to help me. No one ever seems to notice that I need help."

Her hand dropped from the plate and reached through the soap and water to grab another. Heathcliff dried it and put it to the side. He wasn't sure what to say to this. But before he could, she stiffened up and started to wash another dish. "You know, someone has to wash the dishes and clean up the trash, and I don't mind to do it. It allows everyone else to relax and have fun." She sounded as if she was trying to cover up what she had said before.

Heathcliff didn't say anything. He could feel that whatever he said at this point would be dismissed. Instead he finished helping her with the dishes. As she wiped down the counters with a cloth he leaned against the fridge. She always seemed so sad. Heathcliff had noticed this every time they were at an activity together. She needed something from outside of herself. Why did she seem to be fighting the world from the inside. She needed someone to fight for her. She needed a braveheart. And what was more, he wanted to be that braveheart. He had a moment where he imagined himself smearing his face with blue paint, and ridding out on a horse to prove that he was worthy to fight for her.

She had finished the counter, and was folding the dish towels on the corner of the sink. "Well... thank you for your help, I guess now we can get back to the party." she said.

Heathcliff wasn't ready to leave just yet. He finally had a moment alone with her and he wasn't going to let that go. His mind hurtle through quick small talk topics, but none seemed right. He bit his lip trying to think and panic when he saw her give him a nod and turn to leave through the door.

"Wait!" It was desperate, and Heathcliff felt the pressure even more when this made her stop and look at him.

"Yes?" she asked.

"Uhm... Uhm...I've been wanting to ask you...Uhm... Uhm... What's your favorite book?" It was lame and he knew it. But he might not have another chance this evening to talk to her one on one.

She smiled and her face went soft. "Jane Eyre. I love her and Mr. Rochester. She's so frank with him, and he loves her for it even if she's not of his class or status. I also like Wuthering Heights."

This made Heathcliff smile. "Wuthering Heights is my mother's favorite book."

"I figured your mother must have some attachment to it," she teased.

Her teasing made Heathcliff feel more at ease. He smiled and the banter continued as the clock swung its hands. He made her laugh and smile, now the polite stuff she usually did, but laugh like a monkey, real and substantial. Her smile stretched all the way across her face and made her seem more alive.