~ ~ where some see a hopeless end, others see an endless hope ~ ~

Friday, September 30, 2011

Crushed Grapes… and I don’t mean the SodaPop

Too many times, we go through life saying, “Pick Me, Pick Me, I’m ready!!”…. but only when and how it’s convenient for us.  We need to be broken first.  We need to be crushed.  We object to the way God wants to use us.  We object to the people He puts in front of us.  We object, we object, we object…. But if we’re truly to serve as He intends, we need to be open to HOW as well.

My words that got me today, I hope they inspire you...


"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake." Colossians 1:24
We make calls out of our own spiritual consecration, but when we get right with God He brushes all these aside, and rivets us with a pain that is terrific to one thing we never dreamed of, and for one radiant flashing moment we see what He is after, and we say - "Here am I, send me."

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted into God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 40 Hits, Uganda Edition

A month.  4 weeks.  31 days.  7 hours,  44,630 minutes.  A month.
Yes, even MORE than a month has gone by since I landed back in the states from my trip to Uganda and Ethiopia.  And I gotta be honest, I thought I'd be muuuuch better at this whole blogging thing.  Wow, I really haven't been.  And looking back, I realized, I hadn't really 'went there' with my whole trip.  So, with a deep sigh and an extremely heavy heart, I’d like to take a minute to actually ‘introduce’ my trip to you….. Let’s see where this goes.
As God Sees It....

What’s it like to go on a Short Term mission trip when you’ve never been on one before?  Well?  For starters, you have nothing to compare it to, so you shouldn’t have any expectations.  Ha.  And if you do, be prepared to have your world rocked, and your expectations blown right out the window.  And know that the second you get home, your life will never, Ever, be the same.  And know that you’ll be okay with that.
You have every right to feel nervous, anxious, scared, excited, insecure, inadequate, unprepared, ---any emotion you might have felt entering the doors your first day of Junior High and you had a giant pimple on your head---you probably feel the same way.
I was really nervous how my extreme motion claustrophobia (yes, self-diagnosed---don’t try and go get a prescription) would handle the 13 hour flight over.  But MUCH to my surprise and HUGE relief, it actually went really fast.  I think the excitement outweighed the extreme claustrophobia and exhaustion, thankfully.  We finally landed in Entebbe and boarded our caravan to Kampala, Uganda.  A huge 30 psgr bus, an 8 psgr van, and a huge truck full of 37 x 4 bags of luggage!  It’s not your typical airport pickup.  And It’s one thing to jump on board a bus, with a local driver, for 3 hours with total strangers in a completely foreign country……. And it’s completely a different thing to have all that AND the Man Up Experience, Cheetah Bus Style:
(Why our Men GO):

Okay, okay, there’s no way I’ll get through this 14 days of absolutely amazingness without losing you.  Or better yet, I might keep you, but my computer will be so outdated by the time i finish rambling that I won't be able to post this anyway.  So, here's what we're gonna do.  We’re breaking this trip down, the edited, commercial version, Cheetah Bus Bullet Point style…..
Top 40 Hits of Uganda
1. Hundreds of footballs and soccer balls don’t travel well--but suck it up.  It's ALL worth it in the end
2. Carrying thousands of dollars cash into a foreign country is as scary as it seems.
3. No matter how organized and prepared you think you are with thousands of donations, you never will be
4. Don’t expect hot water.  That way when it comes, it’s really hot.  And I mean REALLY hot.
.And screams can be heard for miles in Africa.
5. Wedge cut looking fries, are in fact, not wedge cut fries.
6. Electricity’s nice….but working flashlights are priceless
7. Collapsing mosquito nets don’t always wake you up innocently
8. 4am. There are other cultures in the world, yes.  And not necessarily quiet ones.
9. Bu•tter •nug:  (buh’tƏr’nũg) n  1. sweet, small child of African descent—typically Ugandan.  2. Delightful, lovable, and charming.  3. Full of adoration, and usually possessing big, round and hopeful eyes.  4. Seeking and worthy of attention and love.  Well known for their sweet hugs and captivating smiles.  (Man Upper International Dictionary, 3rd edition)**
10.Ugandan girls and boys know how to Hula.  American white men ….well, try.
11. Face Paint + Brushes + Pure Chaos = Entertainment for hours… and not a clean cell of skin anywhere
12. Uganda is not where the Lion King was filmed…. But it might be referenced in the Garden of Eden.
13. CHARGE those kids.  And then Charge them some more.
14. Simple service, like a food line, will bless someone for days
15. Get familiar with the name Mama Kiki—she’s a legend in Africa
16. 37 adults CAN entertain themselves, as long as Pterodactyls are involved
17. Child prisoners?  Don’t exist.  God’s angels do.  And they will teach YOU how to worship
18. 26 men can actually hold their own, for 4 hours, on a mountainside, 5,000 feet up, playing soccer with the best of them.  And one girl can do the same.
19. Don’t leave your quarters without gum and stickers
20. When all else fails---DANCE
21. A screaming  and singing welcome from 200 children bombarding your caravan will NEVER be replaced
And the three that pick you, well NEVER be forgotten…and you will NEVER be the same
22. A true Man Upper* celebrates his birthday sourcin’ the Nile
23. Always take your meds with food.  ALWAYS.
24. Squeaking in the ceiling—cheese and peanut butter won’t always fix. 
25. Jungle juice will prove itself worthy time and time again.  And much to your team’s dismay, you will be bite free
26. Despite what they may tell you in America, hearing a Man Up team ‘working out’ outside your window at 6am IS actually comical
27. Mini sunglasses are always a hit.  Always
28. Watching a child perform his heart out will leave a heavy footprint on your heart—and you will have never felt so proud
29. Popcorn in the morning—‘nuff said.
30. Dude Perfect is really good at basketball.  Well, shooting baskets anyway—really far away.  atop water towers.
31. Seatbelts are for wimps.  Carpeted window guards are for Geniuses.
32. Children care who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, what your favorite food is, what your favorite sport is, and if you’re married or not—and will sit for hours to prove they care
And they can, AND WILL, call out your age just by taking off your hat
33. Just because a motorcycle is in the river doesn’t mean it’s stuck
34. You would be mayor if you carried soccer balls and threw them out your bus window every day
35. Go Longhorns!  …. Or don’t.
36. A child’s simple prayer request will leave you humbled forever
37. Do NOT tell a Man Upper* he can’t do something.
38. Apes, or chimpanzees, can run fast.  ….but not necessarily in Africa.
39. When all else fails---DANCE AGAIN.
40. A tearful goodbye will stain your heart and break you.  No matter who you are.
*Man Upper: a father, son, brother…who leaves the comfort of the norm, addresses the need to GO, then VISITS, and advocates for the fatherless.  Huggin on, loving, on, and reassuring the ‘fatherless’ that they are not, in fact, Fatherless.

A litte Pictorial to Reference the above ....
 The ever amazing team from Return Ministries packing up all our 150 bags of luggage!
 They picked me....and I was never, ever again the same!  "Amandaaa, Amandaaaa...."

 Dude Perfect making their awesome shot at Canaan Children's Home!

 Don't tell them you're on a schedule!

 Yes, we visit the Nile on a Mission Trip!  HEY!  Moses did....

 All our amazing Men, the official Inductors of MAN UP!

 BUTTERNUGS.  Need I say more?


 Captain Rog throwing out some soccer balls to the local kids!

 Mama Kiki!

 I wouldn't say I DIDN'T feel safe....  :/

 When your coach says CHARGE, you CHARGE.  And you leave your heart on the field....

 Each grade, boys and girls, performed a program for us visitors!  What talented children!!!

 There seriously was not one more place I could paint on these kids!  They started painting their clothes....  Oops.

 Leave all your hesistations and reservations at home... there is no such thing as fear

 Showin us how it's done!

 There is no I in team..... .

 The Sprinkler.  Duh...

only a Man Up thing!

So, there ya have it.  I tried.  Thank you for your light hearts.  As I still seem to struggle with putting the trip into words, I think it might be best to just visit you all personally so I can talk about each ministry individually, specifically. My written words just don't do them justice.
 So, I guess in the meantime…stayed tuned until Ethiopia gets broken down—Coffeehouse Style.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

wait. You upgraded me… for FREE?

I’ve just been sitting on this thought for awhile today and needed to let it out.  I think about just how easy it is for us as Americans to yell out and complain about everything that’s wrong with our country.  How naturally it comes to us to talk disgraces about people when they’re not around.   Just how far we go to let the world know that We’ve Been WRONGED.

We yell at the driver that cut us off on the freeway.
We curse the customer service agent that doesn’t waive our late fees for the bill we didn’t pay on time.
We feel entitled to a free upgrade to first class because we’ve flown an airline once.
We write anonymous letters to restaurants complaining about the service we DIDN’T receive at their establishment.
And then we don’t tip 20% when our food doesn’t taste good to us, as if it was the server’s fault we didn’t like it.
We don’t wait in lines.
We don’t compliment strangers.
We don’t do anything outside our comfort zones to bless one another.

….but what if we DID?

It seems so EASY for us to go out of our way to complain about a matter that goes wrong, but what about when something goes right?

As I was sitting at a table today for lunch waiting for my order (that was already 10 minutes late from when they said it’d be ready)… I started noticing things.

Within the 2 minutes I walked through the door, I was greeted twice by the employees. I was asked how I was.  A lady complimented my shirt.  A gentleman complimented my nail polish (HeY! It’s a really cool aqua-blue, you’d compliment it too!)  And because my food took a little longer than expected, the Server made my smoothie the LARGE size, instead of the small--at no additional cost.  He proceeded to punch my smoothie card not once, not twice, but three times as a way to make up for my precious precious 10 minutes I had lost in his establishment waiting….

No, it wasn’t a lot.  It wasn’t a new car or a million dollars or a promotion, trip, or waived late fee.  But had it not been for those 10 minutes I ‘lost’, I wouldn’t have been blessed with those kind words from strangers.  I wouldn’t have sat and thought about all the times I’ve been the impatient one.  I’ve been the one grumbling about everything and writing those Letters of Complaint.  That I never go out of my way to make someone’s day.

And I wouldn’t have noticed how good it made me feel for that brief moment that they made mine.

Well… this time?  I’m going OUT OF MY WAY to commend a JOB WELL DONE to our local Mediterranean establishment, Blu Fig.  They are above and beyond what you’d expect from customer service these days and I applaud them.  If you’re ever in the Nolensville area--be sure to stop in.  Great food. Amazing service.  Great staff.

In fact, I’m going to even do myself one more and Yelp a GOOD comment today….


How far have YOU gone to make someone’s day?