moderating your lifestyle.

i’m still processing through my trip…which i will continue to do probably for forever…and i’ve been trying to find the right words to explain this next thought process…and i’ve decided i dont know if i ever will, but i have to start somewhere, right?

a dear friend of mine, caitlin, who also went on the trip is having what is known as culture shock. the idea that after seeing the despairing poverty in africa and condition most children live in, come back angered at americans and american culture for the obsessive, crazed people we are. her reaction is normal. but it is also something that not everyone deals with. like myself. as i sat sunday and listened to her heart, it resonated with me just how crazed we are. after all, i even have to admit to that. if i wasn’t, i wouldn’t have taken hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and everything else that makes me and you overly aware americans. but the thing that caitlin is having trouble with, is the fact that God has her right where she is. in the nice house and nice things she grew up with. it is ok for her and myself and you to have nice things. God wants to bless us. the question though is, when is it enough? when is having too much stuff bad? where is the line between average and obsessive? when do you become the american you don’t want to be: obsessive, compulsive, materialistic?

tray, caitlin and i chatted about this after church on sunday. it’s definitely a hard subject. some feel strong conviction about it. others rarely think about it. most would say they don’t have a lot of “stuff” and to that i would almost argue with anyone. i have even caught myself saying that i didn’t have a lot of things: i don’t have a lot of shirts, i need another pair of nicer sandals…and the list goes on and on. the truth is, we all have WAY too much stuff. it amazes me how little you can live off of. for example, when i lived in italy, i had 6 short-sleeved shirts, 6 long-sleeved shirts, 3 pair of jeans, 2 pair of capris, 5 pairs of shoes and 2 skirts. and i wore those same clothes for 4 1/2 months. yes, it got old but it was also nice to know that i wasn’t material-minded about it. i couldn’t go out and buy a new wardrobe there. and yet, now, i would complain about not having any shirts to wear, when in fact, i have and wear over 15 different ones. it’s simply ridiculous.

back to the point, even while i was in africa, i enjoyed wearing the same clothes 2 or 3 times. the simplicity it brings is wonderful. after all. no one cared if i wore the same shirt 2 or 3 times. “things” trouble us. they get in our way. and most importantly, they keep us from God giving us all that he has for us. even before i went, i had been considering how much time i spent with technology daily. (again, i will say, technology isn’t bad…but i believe too much of anything is never good for you.) between the blogging world, which i absolutely adore and love, facebook, twitter, google and all its gadgets, and tv i could spend hours each day doing these things. and then i will spend maybe an hour or two with my quiet time. it just doesn’t seem fair to God. more importantly, it doesn’t seem fair to me or you. we choke and starve ourselves because of everything we must do on the computer or to see the show on tv. (please dont get me wrong, i love tv [hello, food network!] and the internet but i think if we really thought about what was truly important to us, what we thought and what our actions showed would be two different things.)

i am fault for this. so, where is my line? when do i say “this is too much”? when do i decide my relationship with Jesus far outweighs everything else and allow my actions to prove it? this is where my heart lies now. figuring out what’s too much. it’s so easy for me to say “yes, Lord i know i need you more. i know i don’t need to watch the bachelorette (especially since it contradicts everything about you) or look at another cooking blog, but it’s fun.”

fact of the matter: we, as a society (including me and you), put way too much of our value in this external world. in people. in our job. in school. in our spouses. in achievement. in love. in the future.

fact of that matter: it’s always been in Jesus’ hands and it will be forevermore.

so, when is enough, enough? where do you draw the line?

i am so excited,

NewLogo

because finally i have a free saturday to go to the marietta farmer’s market. i have several friends from church who have recommended it. and who couldn’t love organic, locally-grown, cheap produce?

just wanted to throw that in there. im especially excited about going with my new foodie friend. it’ll be fun.

south africa: i love you.

i don’t know what it is…what exact moment my heart decided that it loved africa. i’m pretty sure it wasn’t on the 8 hour flight to dakar, or the next 8 1/2 hour flight to jo-burg.or the 5 hour car drive we had to make after getting off the ridiculously long flight. maybe it was when Make-Peace greeted us with a hug off the van. maybe it was when we spent the weekend with julie in june. maybe it was the song the kids at Tshwaranang sang to us. maybe it was when i washed my raw chicken hands in chicken water. maybe it was when i had to dance, in front of people. maybe it was when we met ma’she. or visited Margaret at the AIDS Hospice. maybe it was when Madoda shared his testimony. maybe it was when rafeelia called me her love. or maybe i loved it before i even went. maybe i loved it even before i realized the possibility of going on this trip. and maybe, just maybe, i fell in love with the country and people once i got there. how do you explain love? you cant. so today, when rob mcdowell asked me how it went, all i could say was, how do you put what God does into words?…i could try and tell you it was great. but great doesn’t begin to explain the experience. i’ve tried all week to find a word or words to describe God’s movement there and in my heart…but i can’t. my heart grew exponentially for people of nations other than america and even more for south africa. when i find the right words i’ll share them. until then…

SA FACT:: 4.8 million people, or approximately 10.8 percent of South Africans over the age of 2, are now living with HIV/AIDS. [personal note: this is a decline…it used to be worse.]

fact: i’m a foodie.

i’m pretty sure if you didn’t know me, within minutes you would get the impression that i love food. whether that be food network, health food, Whole Foods, food blogs, cookbooks, etc. ANYway, i always love finding new finds…and though this one isn’t a new find, i thought i would take a moment and let you know about it. the CLIF Bar.

clifbar.crunchy peanut butter

that would be my personal favorite right now…though i haven’t tried one that i didn’t like. they offer them in the regular sizes and mini’s. i have yet to find the mini…even with trips to Whole Foods. my recommendation is to take the regular size Bar and half it. that way it’s only 100 calories and it would still be filling.

have i really spent that much time talking about a CLIF Bar? yes. yes i have.

so…what fun, yummy things do you like?

p.s. i love this song.

The Calmer of the sea
Here in this room with me
So gently welcoming
The weakest things in me
You are the blood over
The door of my heart
What pain You spared me from
How could I know it all?

Oh wonderful love, You died for me
The power of Your life is in me

Father, let Your light shine down on me
Father, let Your light shine down on me
No matter what the day or night may bring
Father, let Your light shine down on me

Oh Jesus, You became what was my deepest shame
That at Your very name
My calloused heart would change
How could You, oh perfect One
Love me, when I have done nothing that’s worthy of
My freedom You have won

Oh wonderful love, You died for me
The power of Your life is in me

Father, let Your light shine down on me
Father, let Your light shine down on me
No matter what the day or night may bring
Father, let Your light shine down on me

Open up the heavens
Poor down Your Spirit
Home me God
Jesus, wherever You lead
I’ll sing harmony
Hold me God

Father, let Your light shine down on me
Father, let Your light shine down on me
No matter what the day or night may bring
Father, let Your light shine down on me

every night (and i mean every single night) while i was in africa, after i got ready for bed and journaled, i pulled the covers over my face and listened to the song above. i love how it reminded me that Jesus was right there, loving on me.there’s also something about “gently welcoming the weakest things in me” that stirs my heart. as i lay there listening and thinking about the day, and mentally preparing for the next it beckoned me to a point of honesty to share what i liked, disliked and what my heart mourned over from the day’s experience. and yet, when i reached “no matter what the day or night may bring” i was reminded that it’s “ok”. it’s ok to feel sad. compassionate. joyful. emotional. it’s all in God’s hands.

seasoned with salt (and i’m not talking about food).

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This passage has been on my heart for several weeks now…i just love it and try to live by it.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4: 2-6

a week ago, today.

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a week ago today i led the morning devotional for my team and Unsung Heroes staff. i shared with them about our Identity in Christ/Freedom in Christ. i told them of my life since graduating college. even though many told me that God definitely used me as a messenger to speak into their lives, i still think that God ordained that message for me. i learned so much from the words Jesus gave me.

but also a week ago i was in Tempisa at a place called Tshwaranang. we drove up, got out of the van, and stood there as a group of about 60 kids welcomed us with a song that brought every American to tears. as the tears streamed down my face i couldn’t help but thinking that i was there to bless them, encourage them, love on them, and yet, i was the one on the receiving end. these children, of whom many only eat one meal a day, have HIV/AIDS, are the oldest person in their house, because their parents have died, have life. and so, as i said hello to many of them and spent the next several hours playing with them, dancing with them in their south african games, and teaching them red rover; i can’t help but recall feelings of disbelief and extreme joy. when a black child runs to you, grabs you and begs of you to hug them and love on them, it’s all you can do not to cry. who cares if i have boogars on my clothes, or seriously embarrass myself by dancing in the middle of a circle? who cares if i purposely color outside of the lines to make another child feel better about his/her picture? the great thing about what Unsung Hereos is doing, is that they are literally being the hands and feet of Jesus. so, who cares if every single child i hugged or got close to had HIV/AIDS, because at the end of the day, that may be the only love they get before they walk the 20km home to stay in a cold home with little clothing. oh, how my heart longs to love more on these children.

these short south africa clips will happen more and more as i process through one great and amazing trip. i pray i return one day. i pray even more that more churches in America will partner with Unsung Heroes.

a personal note…

i leave in 4 days for johannesburg, south africa.

it will take 17 hours to get there. a 2 hour flight to Washington, D.C. then a direct flight to SA. you’d think i was a little anxious about a 13 hour direct flight…maybe, a wee bit. but it’s all in the hands of the one who holds the sun at the exact distance and perfect axis. and that simply comforts my soul to know that i will make it. i have some new karen kingsbury books packed and francine rivers, as well as lies women believe so i can read if all else fails. not to mention the wonderful invention of the ipod. thank you Jesus for portable music.

i am pretty much packed. that is relieving.

out of everything i could miss about my life in america while i’m gone…im going to miss, tyler lee chappell the most. i mean, how could you not miss this face?

Photo 30

he will be over 4 months when i return. i can hardly believe that.

i cannot express how encouraging my church family is…i mean, i walk in and am lavished with love…i go to leave and am lavished with even more love. God is so expressive and affectionate.

my heart is already softened to what God is going to do with this trip…i am excited to take part in it.

be authentic.