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

Friday, March 30, 2012

You Could Have #5: Waiting Rooms

Katherine, you made my day on Tuesday….

Sitting in the intimidating, cold, dreary waiting room at the hospital, waiting for them to take yet another 4 tubes of blood, because they hadn’t taken enough the FIRST time I was there… I probably looked like I had just been told the world was going to end.  Crabby.  Unhappy.  and definitely, “PLEASE don’t bother ME with YOUR pesky problems--I have my own, thank you” kind of look.

Like everyone else who waits, I picked up my book, looked at the TV, looked around the room, looked down at my book again… Not a word spoken.  Like everyone else, I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone, yet truthfully wondered why everyone else wast there, too.  I was miserable.

I heard my mother’s voice loud and clear, “Keep pouting and your face is gonna freeze that way!” ….. 20 some odd years later, I think my face froze.

A girl walked into the waiting room.  She walked with a bit of a stumble, between the brace around her leg and the hobble from her hip, I wasn’t sure what her diagnosis was but it was clear she had a small handicap.  As I looked down from the TV and followed her limp around the room, she stopped at the table, picked up a magazine and shrieked, and is if she’d seen her live in person said, “LOOK MOM!  Look who it is.”


Good ‘ole Dolly P. brings such joy into a room.

But that’s not what made me smile.

As Katherine’s mom left the room to go talk to the doctor, she got up and went to the drinking fountain.  And it wasn’t but a second she stopped, stood in front of me, face to face, direct eye contact and said… the words I still hear in my daydreams and thoughts at night,

“You. are. beautiful.  Your hair and your smile.  You have such pretty eyes.  I wouldn’t change a thing about you.  Not a thing.  You could be… a … a.. Princess.”

…. Katherine, the way you spoke to your mom.  The way you interacted with everyone in that room.  Your smile and your attitude.  It’s not because you told me I was pretty that day.  And I’m definitely not writing this as a stroke on my ego, to tell the world what you said.  Because if anything, it completely shamed and humbled me.  Almost embarrassed me by how ‘unpretty’ I actually felt and acted like that day.  You made my heart raw all over again.

Katherine, you sat down, started flippin through Dolly’s magazine, again looked up at me and said, “I don’t know why you think you need to, but you don’t need to change a thing.  Nothing.”…… and continued to flip your pages.  As if it was nothing.

But it was something.

I managed a smile and a meek, “you are so sweet, thank you, what is your name”…. but really, all I wanted to do was cry.

It was as if you could see right through my heart that day.  Could read everything floating around my head that day.  And for some reason, drilled a hole right through my soul.

Katherine, you and your spark.  Thank you.

Your pure joy for such small pleasures.

Your excitement and honesty.

Your boldness.

Katherine, you could have sat down, waited for your lab like the rest of us, silent and solemn, ignoring the joys of life around you, too…..

But you didn’t.

You could have kept to yourself, worried about what everyone else in the room was thinking.
But you didn’t.

YOU COULD HAVE influenced my attitude adjustment.
YOU COULD HAVE made me, too, want to dance around life…

and you did.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

i RUN for orphans

I was never a runner.  I never wanted to just ‘run’ as a hobby.  
And then I signed up, and finished, two half marathons.  Well, little did I know, those half marathons would be stepping stones, very symbolic events, that would be played out in years to come...
As I’ve seen myself do with things in life, after I finished that first 1/2 marathon in San Diego in 2004-- I said, “There.  I’m done.  That was insane, tough, brutal, and ... hard.  And I don’t EVER want to do it again.”  And I was finished.  I had my heart set on quitting the running world....
And as life has it, the road between then and today was the bumpiest, curviest, most challenging journey I’ve faced.  And almost 7 years later, I felt the emptiness creep inside as my heart tugged towards the pavement.  I was to be out on those early morning training days, and I knew it, but thought I would never be there again.  The training was hard, but I was at such a low place in my life that running was like therapy to me.  It got me through some pretty muddy water and some really tough times, and crossing that finish line for the 2nd time was even MORE victorious for me than the first.
But something was still missing.
As I crossed that finish line at LP Stadium last April, running 13.1 miles around Music City with 35,000 other runners and even 25,000 more people cheering me on, there was still an emptiness inside me.  One that said I needed more.
I wanted to keep going.
So, here I am, another year later and wondering WHAT IN THE WORLD I have gotten myself into as I start the long training season for my very first, very long, Chicago Marathon in October.  Hundreds of miles of rough terrain ahead of me.
But instead of wanting to quit, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this world again.
THIS is what it’s about.  This feeling.  The nerves are there, the adrenaline.  You feel the encouragement from fellow runners.  The high after hitting certain mileage.  How all your conversations usually revolve around which trail, which shoes, which shot block, Gu, or mileage you’re at.
They say it’s a lifestyle, and now i know why...
I meant it about that 1st and 2nd half marathon being very forth-telling in how my life would be in the years to come:
Just like committing to the 1st, and then the 2nd half, I NEVER thought I would ever go to Africa.  I didn’t even think I would ever work for an organization that deals with orphans oversees.  But after moving to Nashville and working for this amazing ministry, I knew it was where I was supposed to be.  I went to Uganda and Ethiopia last summer.... and like the first half, it was hard.  It was tough, insane, brutal and .... Life Changing.
And when I got back.....something was missing.  Like that 2nd marathon, I knew I needed more.  
I wanted to keep going.
And so here I am, about to take on yet another trip, only 9 months after coming home from my first trip.  Leaving the end of May, I get to experience Rwanda for the first time and journey down this road... AGAIN.
My heart is beating.  I’m scared and nervous and anxious and excited and overwhelmed--just like training for a marathon.  But my heart is beating.  This is what makes me feel alive.  Like pounding foot to pavement in a race, we pound foot to dirt on the mission field.  My heart beats.
I get to visit over 600 orphans in Rwanda this year, telling them how important they are.  That they have a purpose, a destiny.  That they have been forgiven, or that they have a place in this world.  I get to love on them.  And when it’s said and done, it’s probably more therapy to me than them.  And my heart beats.
They say it’s a lifestyle, and now i know why...
Because of this, a running team called the Roadkill Surfers and I have committed to raising money for Visiting Orphans when we commit to running an event.  Each time we cross that finish line, we want to remember that we’re running for a Cause.  There are 163 million orphans in the world.  The finish line for the Orphan doesn’t look like it’ll ever draw near, but at least we can run the Race.
I’m asking you today, to remember every race, triathlon, or competition you’ve ever run.  That feeling you get crossing the tape.  The excitement you feel with each accomplishment.  The overwhelming joy you receive as each step gets you closer and closer to the end.
That’s how I feel when I get to visit these children, and I’m asking for your help in getting me there.
As a “Roadkill Surfer”, we have opportunities for businesses AND/OR individuals to Sponsor us, establishing your brand to say YOU CARE.  That you’re part of this world, too.
We have opportunities for individuals to sponsor a lot, or a little.  But it doesn’t matter.  I need to hit $3,800.  But anything will help.  Any contribution will get me closer to that finish line...
**There are many ways to sponsor if you’re able.  The easiest, and I like to think, most convenient way is to go to our DONATE page on the website.
You’ll be asked which FUND CATEGORY:
-Drop the menu to RWANDA (MUSIC AND MISSIONS)- May/June 2012
*Amount to Donate
*Repeating Donation (you can click NO)
-Click Team Member or ministry and type my name, AMANDA HERDINA in the box
And there ya have it.  You will be well on your way to helping change and inspire an orphan’s life forever.  You’ve already inspired mine....
Run ‘til the end,
Amanda Herdina

Friday, March 09, 2012

#the Challenge 2012

…. I keep talking about the trip I’m taking to Rwanda in May.  And this Kony thing couldn’t have been more opportune to rise up now.  People are on fire.  The passion is unreal.  The awareness and hype that’s being generated is so inspirational……. But.  These children are STILL living out the trauma they faced during all the wars they’ve seen.  Their nightmares still linger.  They’ve never had the opportunity for therapy.  They don’t have a teddy bear to squeeze.  They don’t have a mother’s hug.  They don’t have the opportunity TO HEAL.

THAT is why I want to bring music to them. A form of expression, yes…. But a form of HEALING, more.

Think how you react to a certain song on the radio. Think how certain lyrics make you just feel better about your day. When you lose yourself in playing an instrument….

For one minute, if I can help ONE CHILD forget about the horrendous things he’s seen and smile because he’s bangin on a drum---then I hope I’ve done something.

An amazing photographer and blogger, Billy Pope (With whom I pray to have the honor of traveling with someday) has shared with us his experiences at the Orphanage we will be visiting in Rwanda:

The attention around the KONY 2012 movement is truly overwhelming. The support of people who’ve never even heard of him has been uplifting. The way our nation has grabbed on, reached out, and are being encouraged to Act is so satisfying…

And it’s NOW that people are on fire for causes around the world that people feel inclined to answer their calling.

But I hope people are doing it for the right reasons.

This isn’t an issue to help with just to put it on your resume. This isn’t a problem that can be solved just by posting another video on your blog or facebook. Events and rallies will be held by people all over the country to bring awareness to KONY, and while I fully support and encourage people to do so… I also pray their hearts are in it for the right reasons.

and NOT to win the Congeniality award by their sororities.

This campaign has SUCH a near and dear place in my heart. These are places I VISITED. These are children I’ve HUGGED. I’ve heard their stories and wiped their tears. I told them I’d be their sister, their mother, their friend. Because their childhoods were robbed from them the day they had to murder their parents. Their entire livelihood was taken away the day they had to watch their brother rape their sister...

I LOVE how fast Invisible Children’s video went viral and the hype it’s creating, PLEASE DON’T GET ME WRONG or take me out of context.  But most people are just reposting it cuz “it’s the cool thing to do”.    They want to be associated with a cause, but then don’t do anything about it.

I’m going back in May to this same area and while it scares me to death, these children need to be reminded they are not forgotten, they are loved, and what they did while in the LRA, or how the Genocide has affected them, has been forgiven and that God has a better plan for their lives.

I couldn’t have been more proud of my brother when he said to me today, “One day I wanna help you help them and actually make a difference in their lives instead of feeling sorry for their lives.”  THAT’S what it’s all about.  Getting UP, rising to the challenge, and MAKING a difference.  Not feeling sorry for them.  HELPING THEM.  LOVING THEM.

AFTER you watch the film.  AFTER you repost the film.  AFTER you tag your best friends’ brother in film….. WHAT THEN?

What’s next?

My challenge to you this month of March is to ACT.

It may look different to everyone.

  • Maybe you can help me GET TO RWANDA by donating to my trip here:  

(And no, you don’t HAVE to be all musical to come!)

  • Maybe you can help bring more awareness to the KONY project by supporting Invisible Children here:

  • Maybe you can actually help treat and bring healing to these children by going on a trip with our partner agency, eXile international here: 

Whatever it looks like for you…. I CHALLENGE YOU TO ACT.

Be something more.

photo courtesy of Billy Pope @ Billy Pope Photography

"We spent a day and a half at the Imbabazi Orphanage near Gisenyi, Rwanda and it was a stark contrast to what you would imagine an orphanage being. Don’t get me wrong it was still an orphanage full of teenage children orphaned due to the genocide that occurred in 1994. Over 850,000 people were murdered in less than four months with some estimates being over 1,000,000. Thanks to Roz Carr the founder of the Imbabazi Orphanage, over 400-orphaned children have been taken in and loved over the past 17 years. During our time there we connected with many of the orphans and heard the dreams of their hearts and the concerns of the their futures. The contrast that we noticed in this orphanage compared to others we visited was that they had hope and dreams. Some of them were attending trade schools and other forms of higher education. It was amazing to see a positive situation in place we consider to be hopeless.
When you are in Africa you will hear voices and music that reaches down into you heart and stirs your spirit. That is what happened to me at Imbabazi. While hanging around with a group of the orphans on the first day they started playing the guitar and singing and I was surprised that I knew the tune… Bob Marley’s “One Love/People Get Ready”. I just listened and thought WOW that is an amazing sound. So, I asked what music they like to sing and they said, “Worship music.” As they started to play some worship music in Kinyarwanda, it was as if I understood every word. It was a moment that I will never forget. They sang half a dozen songs and I was honored to be able to record them.”
-BILLY POPE, mission trip team leader & photographer

Just one of those Days.

The reason I write is to inspire…

And today, it’s just been one of those days. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked through my eyes with a clear lens. It could be that it’s spring, and everything just seems to crisp, so new… so fresh.

It could be enlightening words of encouragement.

It could be positive attitudes around me.

It could just be that it’s Friday….

Whatever it is… I’m okay with it.

Last night’s concert at Ryman Auditorium, seeing Mumford & Sons live is like nothing I’ve experienced. The way they engage and interact with their audience, it was like they were sitting in my livin room giving me a private performance. No fancy lights. No gimmicks. Just song. And instruments. MAAN ALIVE could those boys play some instruments. It was so inspirational and just so moving…

To see more! http://mumfordandsonsblog.tumblr.com/

Waking up to one of the bluest skies I’ve seen in all of Nashville. And having a new attitude about the birdie friend outside my window every morning at 5am makes a WORLD of difference. His wake up call actually made me smile today.

My drive every day to work passing through the tunnel of White Crepe myrtles on Old Hickory in Brentwood… if you haven’t done it. You need to. It’s like you’ve been time-warped right into The Secret Garden and you can SMELL spring through your vents.

The patch of yellow daffodils I get to drive by each day. They literally sit in the most random patch of dead weeds, up by a fence where no one really should see them. But I do. I see they’re there.

The sunsets I get to witness on my way home every night.

There’s a man who take his horse for a ride on my road every morning.

The people I get to share my day to day with, having office field trips and literally laugh so hard we have tears roll down our faces, and yet sharing different tears every day we do our Beth Moore studies at work. Or hearing different stories about our little angels we get to visit that are blessed with surgery to be able to walk again.

Excitement for the weekend.

Excitement for success in my friends’ lives.

Excitement and inspiration…

Yeah. Something’s in the air. Something’s about to happen… You could say God loves to shower down on me during Spring. And I’m okay with it. Bring on the rain.

When I’m being inspired, I hope you are too.

Apparently, encouragement is contagious...