Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Self Portrait.

So this is what happens when I get bored...I have to admit, It was kind of a fun challenge.  I haven't drawn a self portrait since middle school.  I found a photo of myself, opened Paint on my computer, and started drawing.  Maybe next time I get bored, I'll actually pick up a pencil and paper...

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Bucket List: 25 Things I Want to Do!

I was chatting with a dear friend the other day about "bucket lists."  She got me thinking. What "things" do I really want to do in this life, aside from the obvious?  So I decided to give it some thought.  I'm sure it will grow and change over time, and yes I know some of these are pretty simple.  (Laura if you read this, I want to hear yours too!)  Here goes..

1- Go horseback riding on the beach. 
2- Go swimming on horseback.
3- Write a novel.
4- See the northern lights.
5- Swim with a whale (though I'd prefer to ride the whale).
6- Learn to surf.  (I think I've almost gotten over that fear of sharks and jellyfish!)
7- Tour the Paris Opera House.
8- Dance in Nalulau, Zambia again.
9- Learn to play the cello.
10- Sit on a stage surrounded by a full orchestra while they are playing. (I stole this one from Momma.)
11- This one is really silly, but here goes... Go on a carriage ride through the city; it can be almost any city.. (I've wanted to go on one since I was a little girl, and never have.)
12- Road trip across the USA.
13- Watch a meteor shower.  (Believe it or not, I've never seen one.)
14- Visit Sequoia National Park.
15- Ride an elephant in Asia (riding one in an American zoo just can't be the same).
16- Explore a castle!
17- See the Phantom of the Opera live on Broadway.
18- Cuddle a tiger or lion!
19- Learn to ballroom dance. 
20- Ride an Olympic-quality horse.
21- Travel to Alaska.
22- Travel to India.
23- Dance at random international landmarks.
24- Ride in a dump-truck with a snow-plow blade in the snow. 
25- Travel the world with a friend and a camera.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Look Into Their Eyes

"When I look into their eyes, I see all the beauty of God's dreams."  ...A phrase that has resonated within me since playing with the Zambian kids in the soccer "field."  One evening Karen (my roommate) and I walked up to the soccer field (a large, flat, sandy area cut out of a hill) to take pictures of the sunset over the flood plain. 
(Sunset over the flood plain..  <3 Africa)

A few of the children from the orphan school came up with us, some of the boys from the village were playing on the hillside, and one little boy was grazing his goats.. The children know how to be loved.  Before I knew what was happening, my arms were full of tiny African children!  We played.  Karen and I took pictures.  But while we were up there, I remember watching the children and being overwhelmed as I looked into their eyes.  When I looked into their eyes, I saw all the beauty of God's dreams.  (I mentioned this in my last post.)  I saw destiny deep within those big brown eyes.  I got lost in the dreams and plans of God! 

About a year ago I was interning at my church in Christiansburg.  Roughly twice a month the interns would travel to different affiliated church plants.  We would leave early in the morning to get to the plat before the service started, help with odd jobs around the church, and then  leave after the service was over.  I remember one morning, before leaving, one of the "prophetic guys" prayed for us and encouraged us to look people in the eyes that day--to not shy away from really looking at them.  And off we went, over the river and through the woods...

That morning there was little to do, so I sat in on the service.  The church was small--maybe 15 people, and they  had the seats arranged in a large circle.  I couldn't help but look at everyone.  As we worshiped, it was awkward--it was intimate.  As the pastor spoke to us, God began to speak to me.  I remembered the challenge: "Don't be afraid to really look them in the eyes.  Something is gonna happen when you do."  In those moments, God talked and I listened.  He said a lot.  I talked to one of the leaders, at the end of church I was handed a microphone and walked around the room telling each person what I heard God say for them.  As I spoke I looked them in the eyes... Their hearts unfolded like flowers before me.  As I looked into their eyes, I saw them looking into the eyes of the Father and felt the Father looking back into them.  It was intimate.  It was humbling.  The word of God awakened hearts, and it all started with looking them in the eyes. 

Today in church I looked around the sanctuary, and I remembered my "African babies;" I remembered the beauty of God's dreams for them.  But then as I looked from person to person, in the crowd of 300+ people, I saw all the beauty of God's dreams for the people immediately before me.  As I looked at each face, I felt the endless possibilities for destiny; I sensed the works of redemption to be done; I knew that there was an unlimited supply of hope.  And it struck me, why don't I see this every time I look at someone?  What was different about the children in Zambia?  Why do I not always see it?  Is it that I just forget to look?

I felt God whisper... "In Zambia you looked because you needed to look;You needed My heart to help you stand amidst the attacks of hopelessness.  At the church plant, you were reminded to look and challenged to not shy away from loving.  Today you chose to love and then asked to see."

What would it be like if I lived life looking at hearts instead of faces?  Would it be too much?  Could I really handle being constantly aware of what God is doing in everyone around me?  Could I handle that much love?  When I really look into their eyes, it's not about me anymore.  When I truly see as He does, how can I not respond? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In My Heart There is Zambia...

I had several dreams last night.  In one I dreamed that Felix (one of the Zambian interpreters from Hope Church) came to visit my church in America.  He was talking with several of my friends at the front of the sanctuary.  I walked up to say hello and was greeted with all of the usual "Mbuya" warmth.  I miss Zambia.  In another dream I went to Zambia (but it looked like the backyard of the house where I grew up).  When I realized that I was in Zambia, I fell to the ground weeping and buried my face in the grass because... I miss Zambia.  

A few weeks ago the Pastor at my church, Ron, showed the dance team a slide show of the orphan school in Zambia.  Ron took me to Zambia a year and a half ago; he took me to Zambia again that night.  I recognized several children and some adults.  I couldn't help but cry... because I love Zambia

When I was in Greece this spring, all I could talk about was Zambia... because in my heart is Zambia! "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." (Matt. 12:34). 

The people are beautiful.  The children, dirty, hungry, and sometimes sick, are beautiful.  I remember the little boy that smelled of urine who fell asleep in my lap, during the soccer tournament.  He slept for nearly an hour--probably the safest, and most comfortable sleep he'd had in a long time.  The older boys kept trying to wake him.  I remember that I smelled of urine too after he got up.  It was so worth it.   The little girls had a field day with my long golden locks of hair, little girls who had no hair to speak of.  When they got done, my hair was knotted and dirty.  I think they are still my favorite hair stylists.  I remember the girls of Nalulau taking me swimming!  I remember having to press past the shock of everyone else running around naked... I remember the women teasing me for days.  I want to go back there.  Swimming with them was an honor. 

I remember expecting to face hopelessness in Zambia.  I remember what I saw in Zambia... When I looked into their eyes, I saw all the beauty of God's dreams for them.  I saw destiny in the eyes of the boy who probably wouldn't live to be an adult.  I saw beautiful plans, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans for freedom, in the eyes of the girl who was abused.  I could only see what God has for them, the dreams that He dreamed before the world began, the hope that He still has.  I saw the beauty in the ashen sand. 

"Dear God, When will it be time to go back?  Love, Me."