Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daddy

What makes my Daddy Special?

5. He's willing to be crazy with me. Whether it's taking a stupid picture, dancing in the middle of Epcot's Morocco, skiing down a mountain slope that is way too advanced for us, climbing a waterfall right next to the "for your safety, do not climb" sign, or jumping out of an airplane, he is not confined to the "normal" way of thinking, just like me!



4. He can look closer and see the little things better than anyone else I know. A flower just about to bloom, a tide pool teaming with almost microscopic life, a thunderstorm just rolling in, the tiny parts of a car/radio/computer/etc. that make it run, a hawk swooping down in a field to catch a snake, he knows how and where to look for the amazing little things that I never would have noticed without him there to teach me how to see them.



3. He dose nothing "half-way". He is and has always been the kind of example that me and my brothers can look at to see how to do our best. Even something that is hard or way beyond what we think we can do, he not only encourages us to, but also shows us how to put our all into whatever we do. "Just enough to scoot by" is not how HE lived, and is not how we should either.



2. He is a leader and a protector. Always doing his best to lead our family in an honorable way, he looks out for our family and guards it as he would a precious jewel.



1. My Master and his Master are the same. Need I say more? He is honorable, trustworthy, respectable, and loving because of the One from whom all those attributes stem from. He would not be the father he is without HIM, and recognizing and clinging to that is what makes my daddy stand miles above others in my eyes.




Happy Fathers day, Daddy! I love you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Windows down

3 reasons I NEVER rode with the windows down in the car:

1. 16 1/2 years old. I'm sitting at a red light, windows down...singing (Yes...loud country). A old biker with a very long white beard pulls up, unbeknownst, next to me. He apparently enjoys the country music also. He sticks his head into my window to tell me about it. All I see is, all of the sudden, an old creepy biker with his head (and beard) in my car saying in his gruff biker voice: "Hey, babydoll!". I scream and roll up my window...almost trapping his beard in the window, and proceed to stare straight ahead for another awkward 2 min while I wait to the light to change.

2. 18 years old. I'm singing (yes, again) and a bug flies in my mouth! Not just near my mouth or slightly in where I can spit it out easily...NO. IN my mouth. As in I almost choke on it and then have to pull this huge wasp looking thing out of the back of my throat with my fingers!! ewwww

3. 18 1/2 years old. The last straw. Driving through a construction zone...windows down...not singing this time. I stop to let a concrete flattener thing pass by...and...a bird flies into my car!!! YES! a bird! IN my car!! What are the chances?! It flapped around in my dashboard/windshield area for a bit. My first and only reaction was to scream and throw my hands into the air...yeah, I actually threw my hands up by my ears. It left pretty quickly, but from then on, I swore...those windows were staying up!


1 reason why I CAN'T WAIT to ride with the windows down:

1. There is no AC in cars in Africa. Like ever really. It is blazing hot and you get into a stuffy, often dirty taxi cab and you have one question in your mind..."do the windows go down?" And the most wonderful feeling in the world is when (whether you crank it, it falls, it never went up in the first place cuz it's stuck, or you use a wrench on a bolt to crank it down) the window offers a refreshing and glorious breeze to blow through your hair, across your face, and throughout the car. Putting the windows down here, I can almost smell Africa...wind, fish, the ocean, bakeries...I can feel Africa...I can feel the refreshing breeze coming across that same ocean and into my car.

And so I risk the birds, bees, and bikers, just for a little taste, a little reminder, of the country, I love :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Skydive

I don't think I can adequately describe it...Amazing...I definitely recommend this awesome experience to everyone! Really...go do it!



climbing to 15,000 ft


So amazing!









All 3 of us jumped...and are all in agreement that it will not be out last!


video

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Do you know that HE loves you?"

“Fo dem?”, Mamy chimes, wondering where I am going at this hour of the night. I fill her in that I will be heading down the street to use the phone, calling my family back in the states. I head out into the night, Grace at my side. I barely notice the shouts floating up the staircase from the small, one room home below. I am more concerned about bats as we pass the tree they have been known to abide in. As we approach the bottom of the staircase and are shooing the goats out of our way, a slammed door reminds me of the argument that must be occurring below. As we round the corner, we see Mama, a wise-mouthed, funny, and beautiful 7 year old from our compound, sitting on a stone wall, sobbing. Grace and I pause for a moment, not knowing what to do. Crying like this is not common in the culture. Sure, a small child will cry and whine when they fall or don’t get their way, but usually the aim is to get attention. A child, already 7 years old, and a girl especially, is not commonly found sitting in the dark crying her eyes out by herself. Grace says the girl’s name in a sympathetic sounding voice, not knowing anything else in her language that would be appropriate. We walk over, and I sit next to her, Grace stands in front. I put my arm around her, and begin asking her, in French, why she is crying. After a few sentences, Grace sits down off to the side, not understanding French anyway, and not wanting to crowd the girl in what must be an already embarrassing situation for her.





Mama doesn’t reply. She sits, perfectly still except for the sharp rising of her chest as she gasps for breaths between the sobs, and the tears that stream down her beautiful, chocolate colored skin. We sit in silence for what seems like ages. After a few feeble attempts to ask her what happened, I realize that I should probably be thankful she does not answer. It would only make things worse for her to want to open up and talk to me, and have to deal with my lack of knowledge of the language, and ask her to repeat her sad story over and over again, and then, still, quite possibly, not understand. I finally just lean over and hug the child. Though we had become friends in the few weeks I had been there, I still had been debating in my mind what level our relationship was at, and how to appropriately comfort her in this unheard of situation. My fears were proved illogical as she desperately hugged back, as though it was the first she had ever received. I periodically loosened my grip slightly, inviting her to pull away if she so desired, but she only hugged tighter, her sobs now increasing and her tears flowing freely.





After the hug had lasted several minutes, I pulled her arms off of me, and pulled her up onto my lap. Not wanting to leave her yet, I started singing. Softly, and in a language she didn’t understand, but about my master who loved this little child, none the less. As we rocked gently to the music, her sobs subsided, and her tears slowed. I nodded at Grace’s questioning face, telling her it was okay for her to go, knowing that the time she has spent sitting humbly off to the side had been filled with speaking for this broken child. We sat for what seemed like hours, as I did my best to cover her arms from the mosquitoes that had begun to swarm us. She seemed to have no desire to go anywhere, and I took joy in just being with her. Speaking flowed from my songs and my heart for this girl, wise beyond her years, and hungry for love. A piece of my heart became hers as we sat there, covered in bites, tears, and sweat, as praises and cries to the King lifted from a little compound in West Africa, cries for a little girl who needed her daddy.





I could not tell you how much time had passed as we sat there, nor, did it matter. With a tight squeeze, I turned the child around on my lap to face me. I pulled her downcast chin up towards my face, and wiped her tears with my fingers. The mixture of French and Wolof flowed, flawlessly, from my lips as I spoke the words I had come to believe she had never heard before: “Mama, don’t cry. Listen to me, and don’t forget what I say.” A slight nod, showed she followed my mix of her two heart languages. “You are so pretty. You are very smart. You are special. Do you know that?” she looked down and didn’t reply. I gave her a tight hug. This time she didn’t hug back, just leaned her head on my shoulder. As I let go, I sat her up straight and leaned my head down to her level, not wanting her to miss what I wanted so much to tell this child. As I looked into her big, brown eyes, my heart poured out to her; “Mama, do you know that I love you?” A slight smile and a confident nod melted my heart, but this was not what I really wanted her to know. “Mama, do you know that HE loves you?” Slightly puzzled, yet intrigued, her face turned up, and with a questioning look, asked “who?”. “HIM”, I replied, and she nodded. I knew that this was odd to her. I knew she had never been told this before. But her nod encouraged me; gave me a confidence in the remainder of our time in her compound. I left her that evening, sending her back into her house with her mother and 5 siblings, knowing that nothing in the world could now stop me from spending the rest of my time there pouring out HIS love on this beautiful little girl.



Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer...

Summer is officially here! And with it comes....can you even imagine....free time!!


And it's a good thing I finally have some. Two of my very good friends are recently engaged, which means...bridesmaid dresses to pick out! And with one wedding sneaking up on us in December, we spent the day out trying on wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses and having measurements taken :-)



Sometimes I can hardly believe I've only known these two for about a year! They are my nursing school "besties" and they've helped me through so much! I don't know what I'd do without them! They're both getting ready to get married!!


Not the best picture (I may or may not (but most likely may) be getting a new camera for my upcoming birthday, so you only have to put up with blurry pictures for a little while longer ;-) but this is one of the bridesmaid dresses. The only difference is it will be light green and not 3 sizes too big and held up with giant clips ;-)

She's not certain (she's still got some time to look) but the other one really likes these (the color I'm wearing is the one she would use in the wedding)



Also, I bought a "hiking backpack"!! This can be used for lots of things, but the first intended use is for camping in Zimbabwe this summer! It's 2300 cubic units, which means big enough for me to pack for about a week in, but not big enough to need a frame. Small enough to carry on an airplane, with optional waste and sternum straps for heavy loads. It was originally around $140, but after lots of searching, I got it for about $35 on sale from an outlet store! As you can probably tell, I'm very happy with it :-)

And, I must mention that I am thrilled to now have a new class from my meeting supporting me and the Ms that I'll be working with this summer! They are wonderful people and so thrilled to be involved; it really warms my heart. More to come on them as we get closer to the trip!

And finally...my birthday is very soon, and I will be.....skydiving!! That's right...am I crazy? We'll see...It's scheduled for this coming Saturday, so check back soon for pictures and a story!!