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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skydiving... I suppose

I suppose sometimes... like, Skydiving.. You fly up and up and up and up, wondering if the climb will ever end. You sit, and you wait until you're just at the right height. You wait. and you wait, climbing higher and higher. Thoughts, emotions, feelings -- everything comes rushing to you. Faster and faster. Questions, hesitations, regrets...as you reach closer to 12,000 feet. 14,000 feet.

And then, just at the right moment, just when your panic in your mind is so thick you think you can't go any further....the plane levels out and you know you have to inch your way to the edge of the plane. Inching. Slowly. Petrified. Terrified. Every hesitation in your body rushing through your blood sending panic waves to your brain.


... and then you jump.

You jump. You jump 14,000 feet high in the air out of a perfectly safe and comfortable plane. A plane that was on its way home to land. Safely on the ground.

and yet.. You jump.

You can't see the ground. You jump into a wide open sky, blanketed by clouds making it impossible to see anything around you. The ground doesn't exist at this moment and you have nothing holding you back. Nothing holding you up, nothing holding you down. You are completely free. You catch your breath just in time for your guide to release the parachute....

and you start descending.

You slowly glide your way through the air. Peacefully. Gracefully. Like the little Charlotte babies on Charlotte's Web, you gently sway in the breeze as gravity holds your hand until you get closer to the ground. Silence around you. The serene world around you, comforting every nerve to its most restful state. Descending slowly between the horizons from the sky to the beautiful fields below...

Peace. Tranquility....

and that fear? That crippling, debilitating fear of the jump? That choking terror that almost kept you from experiencing the fall -- it didn't even come close to comparing to the emotions you felt gliding through the air.

That fear? It almost had you. It almost robbed you of one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. It almost won.


I suppose... like Skydiving--so are moments in life. So is starting of on a journey where 85% of the people you talk to are going to think you're crazy.

You walk through life, constantly feeling the climb. The when? The how? Are we ever going to reach the top. Emotions raging, crippling and handicapping fears taking the breath out of you to live the life you were intended. Fears wanting to keep you in your comfort zone, where you're safe. Questions arise. Insecurities take over. Accusations and contending inquiries being thrown your way as you try to just keep climbing.

You start to question yourself.

You wonder what made you think to do something in the first place, and there are tendencies to believe those that think you're crazy. That you'll never do it.


And then. In one swift moment, your life comes to that point where you either Jump or Don't. Staying in the comfort zone of the plane of life, knowing where you're going, or knowing where you'll land and when and how. Finding your safety in the recognizable patterns you've grown accustomed to.


Jumping into the complete unknown. Swallowing everything you've ever known and diving straight into the open air around you. You don't know where you are. You don't know where you're going or how or when. And yet, when you do, there's a gentle peace that takes over your entire being. It's not up to you anymore and you can't be in control..... It's taking one big breath and trusting all your everything in the hands of someone else.

I suppose, like Skydiving... there are moments in life when you have to make a choice.

You either Do. or you Don't.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Perfectly Divided

I just spent a week back home in Minnesota, in Lake country.  Up north.  God’s Country is what we’ve called it since I could remember talking…  and so it is.

A week with my parents.  A week with both my brothers, my sister, brother in law, three nephews, 29 cousins, 14 aunts and uncles, and the two that started it all--my 83 and 82 year old Grandparents.

55 Herdina’s in one place.

and we all survived.

How is it that since I was born, and far beyond, we’ve always had this crazy, insane, funny, adventurous, fun family dynamic … and everyone gets along?

Sure, we battle through bruises and fling over tables and jump over each other when we play peaceful games like, Spoons.

We dump each other when going tubing, skiing, jetskiing, knee boarding… and canoeing.

And then there are times when we decide that taking the canoe up a 50 foot vertical sandhill and putting an 11 year old in the drivers seat as it bobsleds down the cascading sand into the frigid water below is a good idea.

We find solace and great conversation on the beaches.

Sometimes, all we do is eat…. in fact, most times, all we’re doing is eating…

We like to read.  Or at least, have our book in our hand so it looks like we read.

We want to take pictures of the Big Catch but get hollered at to get the Net instead!  And then get hollered at when we didn’t get a picture of the big catch.

We’re human jungle gyms.

There’s enough grandchildren to watch the great grandchildren so the children and their children can go for a nice ‘big kid’ night out.

We learn our heritage, and we learn our language.  And we learn what a real Bohemian is and much to our surprise "Hopah" is not, in fact, an American word.

We have 'sweephovahs'
People’s teeth fall out, and it’s okay because everyone in the family’s teeth have fallen out.. either by nature’s course or because they crash the JetSki.

We laugh.  We cry.  We cry because we laugh.

And it’s in moments and memories like these I truly find it hard to be in so many places.  

My home is in Nashville.

My heart is in Africa.

My family is in Minnesota.

I’m so happy in my home, while I’m always missing my heart, and yet am truly myself with my family.

How can I be in three places at once?

How can the heart be so divided … so equally?

And how do you find comfort in missing two places, when you’re finding comfort in living in one?

My heart is perfectly divided.

and one day… I will find a way to be in three places at once.

Monday, July 09, 2012

HOPE. IT CONQUERS: #3 The Universal Language(s) Part B

They invited us to their lunch table.  They invited us into their dorms.  They wanted us to craft, to teach, to play, to sing.  We made bracelets.  We read scripture.  We compared Bibles, and languages, English versus Kinyarwanda.  We painted nails.  We danced.  We played football (YUP!  AMERICAN football).  We sat.  We laughed.  We cried.  We talked.  We dreamed.  We invited them to do more, they invited us to BE more.  They invited us into their dreams.  They invited us into their homes…. They invited us into their HEARTS.

And because of it, they stayed in ours.

There isn’t a minute throughout the day I don’t think about my time in Rwanda.  The things I saw, the people I met, the feelings I experienced… In my series HOPE CONQUERS, I wrote about different experiences where Hope showed up.  Where Grace saved and how Hope conquered.

At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done.  When I have been home for a month now, looking back, processing the trip, and trying to decide what was truly the most significant ‘resource’ we carried with us throughout Rwanda?  What we were able to offer each and every person that we met?  What didn’t cost us a penny to give away?  And what was the most rewarding thing we gave, and in return, were able to take home with us forever?

What was the one thing that no matter where we were or who we were with -- we all understood it?


You see, throughout the day, it wasn’t what we brought, or how much we did. … It was HOW we did it.  These kids wanted more of US.  They just wanted us there.  We didn’t have to do anything.  We didn’t have to give them anything.  We weren’t there to fulfill a need…other than to love them.  Hard.

And you see… at the end of the day?

That’s what they can take with them to bed.  And hold with them ’til morning.  And then have again the next day.  Our hearts.  Our love.

 #3 The Universal Language(s)
Part B

Mama Jane.  Benita.  Amanda.  Denize.  Norine, Lillian, Noella, Gisele, Baby Grace… these girls showed me a new meaning of love.  How to love.  How to be loved.  What it means when there is nothing else, BUT love.

The time we spent together sharing our secrets, laughing about our dreams, reminiscing about our childhoods… These girls were teaching ME more than I could have ever brought to them.

Josephina.  Isn’t it just like her... isn’t it just like God to teach me such a valuable lesson through her.  As I shared my experience with the team, another team member poured such insight into the situation.  “And to think, that’s exactly how our relationships are with Jesus.  We keep pushing him away.  We keep ducking behind doors cracked open.  We build walls to protect our hearts from being hurt from something we can’t see.  We keep pushing and pushing and pushing him away.  …. And isn’t it just like Him to keep loving us?  Keep pouring out his unconditional love for us?  Never giving up, never getting frustrated… only loving more?”  

So here I sit.  And I remember each child, each story, each face.  Each having a definitive role in how I saw HOPE on this trip.  My “defining ‘God’ moment?”  That time when I felt Him just flick me right in the forehead and remind me, yet again… That HE’S GOT THIS?

Like I said, I was least expecting it and about took me off my rocker.  (Well… more like, bench.  Fragile, crickety, little, wood bench.  It ‘bout knocked me off my bench). . .

MUSIC, A Universal Language:  For days, I had been praying for the Lord to awaken my spirit to what HE wanted to show me.  To take me out of my comfort zone.  To show me where I’d be the least comfortable and drop me right into the middle of it.

I usually have a pretty strong heart...  I usually can put myself into situations and adapt pretty easily.  I’m okay with uncomfortable--when it’s ME that feels it.  But I when it comes to a child?  I break.  I AM sensitive to handicaps.  I do feel the goosebumps when I think of a child who is growing up, having a critical need, that he can’t get himself.  My backbone feels a little more like mashed potatoes than something that should be able to hold me up.  I get uncomfortable for them.

and God knows this.

So, OF COURSE, he gave us the opportunity to bring our worship into the special needs unit at Noel orphanage.

I sat down next to a boy with MS.  He wasn’t sitting on concrete.  And the blanket he was sitting on wasn’t wet because it had just rained… But his smile radiated right through my heart, instantly drying any damp clothes I had to wear the rest of the day.

I sang next a girl who couldn’t talk to form sentences, or move her arms up past her shoulders.  But she could clap.  And she could sure jump.  And dance we did.

I worshipped with a girl who couldn’t sit up straight, couldn’t extend her arm, couldn’t talk, show emotion, or snap her fingers (we tried).  I sang to this girl.  Wondering if she could even hear me, let alone understand what I was singing to her.  I showed her how to put her hand in mine, so we could clap out the beat.

And we sat there.  And the team sang.  And .. well… I hoped she could at least understand. . . . .

Day 4 came fast.  .  .  We were packing up the bus, saying our sad goodbye’s.  Some of the children within the special needs unit had ventured outside the wing throughout the week, spending time with their special someone.  I never saw my girl.  We took pics that 1st day, so I knew she could move around… but … she never came.

Day 4 came fast. . . 

and my girl walked around the bus.  my girl walked right up to me.  my girl had a single, solitary tear that dropped from her precious face.  and she hugged me.  and she didn’t let go.

Not ONLY could she move around, she was totally understanding what was happening.  She heard me, she understood me, she remembered me, she was moved to tears…. just as I was.

So as I reciprocated her embrace, I whispered… “Nda Gukunda, my girl.  Nda Gukunda.”

“Nda Gukunda Cyane Amadna”…

And she spoke.

It was nothing more than a simple worship song.  It was nothing more than a simple hand clap and hug.  A few hours.  A few verses.  A handhold or a photo.  

Ooooh, but it was so much more…..

It’s just like God to show me that we can reach out to him. Sing to him.  Clap for him, worship with him and dance with him.  We can do all these things on the surface, but in our hearts never really truly feeling like he hears us.  Like he understands us.

And then, just when we’re about to load up and walk away from it all… God shows up around the corner, he never forgot us, and grabs ahold.  He embraces us, doesn’t want to let go and cries aloud….

“I love you so much Amanda!”

Through Music…God showed me how he loves.

LOVE, A Universal Language: For days, I fell in love with my ‘baby on back’.  Her sweet demeanor.  The way her head fell sweetly on the crook between my shoulder blades when she slept.  The warmth of her breath, the damp of her drool.  Her strong legs.  Her big eyes.  My sweet little baby had found a place, nestled deeeeeeeeeep within my heart.

I get home and I never forget her face.  I never got her story.  I inquire from the nannies, “Please, at least just tell me what her name is…”


Of course it is.

My sweet Valentine.  Her precious face always in my heart.  And Now?  I will always have a Valentine…

Like I do with my sweet V, God wants more of us.  He wants us to sleep sweetly upon his chest.  He wants us to want him, he wants us to need him.  And when the world seems in turmoil around us, He wants us to find safety in his arms...

God showed me what love was because of my sweet Valentine.

I don’t question anything anymore.  I don’t resent God for not drawing this trip the way I envisioned it.  I don’t wonder why God orchestrated the people he did to go.  I don’t feel weak knowing nothing about Rwanda’s history and being broken and blown away by the Genocide story.  I don’t feel inadequate, feeling I had nothing to offer.  I don’t wonder why we were a team of musicians bringing worship to these orphanages.  I don’t question whether we were supposed to bring or do more.  I don’t question whether or not I learned anything from this trip.

I let go.

And I got Hope.

That definition of what Hope means--it’s defined by our experiences.  It’s defined by our individual circumstances.  Regardless of how we view it or respond to it, when Hope exists, We Win.
the spirit of Hope.
  the motivation of Hope.
  the pressure of Hope.
  the POWER of Hope.

HOPE.  It Conquers.

Hope. It Conquers.

Want to read where all this started?… the Hope. It Conquers series: