Friday, March 23, 2012

Last post from Costa Rica!

I leave for home on earrrly Monday morning.... planning on spending Sunday night in the airport to save money.... should be exciting! 


Things I want to eat when I get home:
Pancakes with peanut butter & Mrs. Butterworth's. 
Cheese, Crackers, & Deer Bologna
Biscuits & Gravy
Mashed potatoes & Gravy
Toast.  The real kind that starts out as soft bread and you put it in the toaster and it comes out TOAST.  
Homemade bread
MEAT, in large portions larger than 2 inches in diameter.
Ice cream
Nickles Bakery donuts
Food I'll miss most from Costa Rica::
Gallo Pinto
Picadillo de Chayote
Having scrambled eggs cooked in with my green beans to make them easier to get down.  :-P
Girasoles' carrot cake. :-)
SAMUELITOS!!  (a bakery chain with the TASTIEST bread.)  Our favorite "fast food."
Coffee Coffee Coffee!  ...the smooth kind, that you drink because it tastes good. NOT that bitter, nasty, caffeine-laden stuff we have in the States!

I'm not looking forward to re-learning to flush my toilet paper.  It takes a solid month to train yourself NOT to do this.  ...and at least that long to un-train yourself.  lol 

Something I'm not sure I'll ever get used to: 
Losing electricty but still having water. 
Or losing water but still having electricity.
...when you live in the country, you always lose both at the same time! 
When the electricity went off this morning, I resisted the impulse to conserve water by not flushing the toilet.
The other week when we were without water, I sat in my room in the dark until I realized the lights still worked!

After an intense last week of school, I told my teacher my brain felt like an Etch-A-Sketch::  everything I learned felt organized and understandable, but I was afraid if I shook my head or laid down it would all be erased! ....and I'm pretty sure that's what happened, because the next day I tried to do my homework, and nothing made sense.  :-/

Fun plans this weekend with my bestestest Language School friend Lindy.... going to enjoy every minute! 
So excited about what God has been doing in my life, and what He's going to do... Had such a sweet time with Him this morning without all the electronic distractions. :-)
God is ALWAYS good!  Don't ever forget that!

For now I'm off to town to do some last souvenir shopping and pick up bus tickets to LA PLAYA tomorrow!  :-D   For those of you at home, **4 DAYS!!!!!**

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Okay, so I know I've done really badly with my blog - updating this time... Sorry 'bout that!
I've been jotting little tidbits down here and there, so here's a scattered version of the past several weeks:

We stayed in the SHADIEST hostel ever in Punta Uva:

Nicolas (owner of the Hostel):  (grabs the nearest piece of scrap paper)  “Hey – all of you write your full names on this piece of paper just in case anything happens to you and people come looking for you guys. “
::we look at each other skeptically::
Nicolas: “Hey, one time a guy disappeared from here and they found him three days later, floating in the ocean!  I just wanna know who you guys are in case something happens.” 
In case something happens? Like what?  Like you selling us into the slave trade? 

My widowmaker (in-line water heater for the shower) burned up last month.  Scared me to DEATH.  Flash of light, electrical POP, and here I am, standing in water.  :::shakes head:::  Good thing I was wearing rubber flip flops.  :-P 
I went 2.5 weeks without hot water in my shower, and it was TORTURE.  The water isn't just cold here, it's FRIGID!  ...pretty sure I shaved all the goosebumps off my legs. 

The worst part about going to the beach is having to leave my 501 Spanish Verbs book behind because it’s too heavy. 

I find it strange that the only news from the USA on TV the other week was of Michelle Obama doing pushups on the Ellen show. 

Guy at the airport:  So you must be, like 21?
Me: Try 8.
Guy:  What?
Me:  *28.*
Guy:  WOW!!  You look so young!!!  You must use a lot of sunscreen! 
Why yes, I do, thankyou!

I'm still getting rich off of Costa Rica........  I've stopped counting how many colonnes I find on the ground. :-P

High Praise:  The inlaws of my host family think I speak “Just like a tica!”   YES!!  They say I don’t have an accent, so WOOT for that!   …apparently the last girl they hosted was an Israeli/American/something, and none of them could understand her. LOL 
...and I've always been worried about being one of those people who speaks Spanish the way foreigners speak English unintelligibly.   I've worked really hard not to speak with an accent so it's encouraging to hear that it's paid off. 
God gets the glory for any ability I have with this language, though.... there are days when I just want to scream and then give up.  I think that I just can't do this, and I'll never be able to speak well. 
And I know that *I* can't do this. 
All good things come from God, and His power working in and through us!
I've also discovered that "fluent" is a very fluid term.  I've heard people who have lived here for YEARS use poor grammar.  That is so not encouraging.  :-P 

I'm currently taking 3 hours of tutoring a week, and doing some volunteer work at my church and hopefully in LaCarpio beginning next week. 
I have lots of free time right now, so pray that I use it wisely!
I've been battling some discouragement and my biggest temptation right now is just to accept that I'm as good as I'm gonna get and quit.  I want to give up, but I know I can't!   Pray that I'll have the grace to continue and not be overwhelmed. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The end of the world?

So, I’m in Costa Rica otra vez, for more language study.  I love it, but I’m missing my family & friends back home and especially my friends from last year.  It’s weird to be in a place I connect in all of my memories with certain people, and those people are not here with me. 
I suppose I’d have the same feeling if I visited Gator Camp now. 
I have settled back in with my host family very well, and it’s like I never left, except the boys are a year older. 
  I love them, and couldn’t ask for a better family! 

This kind of situation brings out my introverted side.  I know, I know, some of you are thinking “WHAT introverted side??”  But it’s true!  I do have one!   Being in a country where understanding people beyond normal everyday conversation topics takes a lot of concentration, and not having close friends nearby makes me do a lot more thinking, and spend more time alone.   Which, I suppose is good for me.  I’m not used to that, living with my big family in our smallish house!

Anyway.  I feel sort of pensive tonight, and probably shouldn’t be blogging, but hey.
Just a warning:  I don’t promise that this will be all that entertaining.    

 So, I’ve been hearing a lot about how WWIII is going to start this year, Obama is going to enact martial law, Jesus is coming back REALLY soon and such, and I honestly can’t figure out how that knowledge (if it were true) is supposed to change my life.   
For instance:  if the world is going to end this year or next, why am I in language school?  Why do I have a boyfriend?  Why do we bother to make our farm payments? Or planting a crop?   Why are you in college/going to school/working at your job, buying that car, buying those shoes, etc., etc., etc.  

If I really believe that there is life after death, then whether the world ends next year or 200 years from now shouldn’t affect me greatly, because every single day could be my last. 
I could die crossing the street on my way to class tomorrow (and in San Jose, the chances of that are pretty good).  I could die in a plane crash on my way home next month.  In any case, I KNOW that inside of 70 years – let’s be generous and give it 80 – I WILL meet God.  

Does that then mean that everything I’m doing right now is for nothing?  That school is a waste of time?  Work is pointless?  Everyone considering marriage should give up on the idea?  People should stop having kids? 

My point is that I can’t know the future.  God has given me His Holy Spirit, and all I can do is walk as far as He leads me.  Right now, He has me studying Spanish.   If the world really does end this year, and I never get to use so much as a “Hola” of my Spanish, even then, I know that what I’m doing right now is NOT a waste of time, because it is done in obedience to my Father.  
Wasting time would be sitting around bemoaning the state of the world, worrying about the future and wondering if I’m wasting my time.    That kind of mentality can only put you in a holding pattern.  Nowhere in the Bible do I read that Christians should enter a holding pattern because the world is going to end.    Or that everyone who isn’t witnessing on the street corner every day is wasting their life.
If you’re preaching on the street corner, who is going to witness to that man or woman you work next to every day?  Has it ever occurred to you that God has placed you where you are for a purpose? 

If God has led you to go overseas, GO.  If He has convicted you to talk to your neighbor, or the girl at the grocery store, DO IT.  If God has led you to get married, by all means do so.  If God has led you into your current job, work at it with all your strength until He closes that door.   Has God given you a relationship?  Continue in obedience as far as He leads you. Grow where He has planted you!

All the while, do what you do to the glory of God.  Live your faith out loud.  Walk in obedience.   
Everything ELSE is a waste of time. 

“He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. “  -Micah 6:8

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seven Current Favorite Songs

I think music can tell you a lot about a person and what they're going through.

So here you are:  Seven Current Favorite Songs with links to YouTube.
Just a warning: my taste in music has never been what you'd call.... organized.  Or predictable.  haha

"Remedy" - David Crowder Band
This song has really taken hold of me.  If you for real listen to the lyrics, you can't listen to this song without
A: Singing at the top of your lungs
B: Yelling "Thank you JESUS!"
C: Dancing
D: Goosebumps
I'm gonna say all 4 of those are appropriate responses. 
Jesus is the only remedy for our messed up lives and this messed up world.  He is "the One who has come and is coming again," and He will redeem it all! I've been struck by the fact that even the earth creaks and groans with the pains of old age and the expectancy of being made new by its Creator.  (Romans 8:22-23)

"Hot Commodity" - Crane & A-1 Thanks to ColbyDear for this one!  He sent me a text saying he thought I'd like this song.  ...and I do!  :-)
"Watch me as I sow my seed and reap it like I'm farmin' it"
"I get blessed all year long, yessir, even in Oc-tober." 
haha - love this.

"Let Faith Arise" - Chris Tomlin
Love all the words to this song.  So much of my life experience is written in these lyrics. 
His arms are a fortress for the weak.  He proves Himself faithful forever, even when He leads through dark places.  When my frightened, hurting heart shrinks back from His touch, He gently cleanses me, restoring the faith I thought I'd lost. 
"Be still.  There is a healer."

"The Other Country" - Burlap to Cashmere
Oh my.  So much I love about this one! 
A much-needed reminder that this life is not all there is.  Not by a long shot. 
And how can you not just love the feel of this song?

"You Have Me" - Gungor
"I thought I had seen the end; everything broken, but You were there."

"Creepin'In" - Norah Jones & Dolly Parton

"Restless" - Switchfoot

"Alive Again" - Matt Maher
Lyrics in both of these songs (and I probably should have included "Late Have I Loved You" by Gungor) are taken from St. Augustine.  A very wise man in love with his Lord.
"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace."
- St. Augustine

...and I should probably end right there, with that quote. 
I am, have been, and can be nothing apart from Christ.  In the face of my own glaring sin and weakness, I am amazed by the fact that He has not hated me, has not disowned me when I fell, never stopped speaking to me or distanced Himself from me.  Any distance between us has been my own doing.  Any hard feelings, mine.  If someone stopped speaking, it was me. If anyone gave up on the relationship, it was me.
He has only ever remained faithful.  

 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God." - 1 John 3:1
"All this from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God."  -2 Corinithians 5:18-21

You will find few people in life who will always be faithful to you.  Few who will love you unconditionally.  None who know every thought you've ever had, every deed you've ever done, and yet continue to love you and stand by you.  
No human relationship I've ever had (or ever will have) compares with friendship with God.  There are a few in my life who have shown me true love and faithfulness, and I am grateful for them.  But even they, the ones who have loved me best, cannot compare to THIS love that sees all, knows all, and forgives all who ask.  
He's the REMEDY!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

....and Summer fades.

It's always hard for me to enjoy Fall weather coming on because it means Winter is close on its heels. 
I'm trying to learn not to complain about the cold so much, but it's just so..... COLD!   
When I think about grumbling, I try to remember all the reasons I'm glad that it gets cold here, and praise the One who thought of making four separate and distinct seasons.  He is good. 
....even when I'm freezing.  ;-)
So here's the list I need you to remind me of every time you hear me complain:

Reasons I am grateful for the Winter:
  •  The cold keeps us from having all the snakes, scorpions, spiders, fire ants, chiggers, no-see-ums, and other plagues they have in the South. 
  • Winter gives us farmers a chance to rest, recuperate, and TRAVEL.
  • Shotgun and Muzzleloader deer seasons are both in the winter!
  • Snow
  • Icicles
  • Everything gets remade into something new and young again in the Spring - a visible reminder of what the Gospel does for me. :-)
Okay, that's all I can think of.  But it's a start!

I realize that in the world of blogging it's probably not exactly acceptable to blog in, say, March, and then not again until August, but hey.  It's my blog, and I'll do what I want.  :-P

Spring planting was way late because of the ridiculous amount of rain we got, and once again we made an {almost} seamless transition from planting straight into wheat harvest.   And for the third year in a row, the rain completely shut off after we got the crops in the ground.  Who's in charge of that anyway?  :-/

The corn is pretty sad - probably won't amount to much, but there is still hope for the soybeans.
God has been gracious, and it's started raining again this week after two months without any significant rainfall, and the hottest, driest July on record here. 
I'm okay with the HOT part, but the dry part?  Not so much.  Again - learning not to complain. 
Verses I've been trying to take to heart as I have watched the corn wither for the third consecutive year, knowing the financial pressures we'll face as a result:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's,
he makes me tread on my high places."  -Habbakuk 3:17-19

God must be the source of my joy.  If I find my joy and fulfillment in Him, it can never be lost, no matter what my earthly circumstances!  I love that.

 Part of the reason for my lack of blogging is that my thoughts and feelings have been to many and too complicated to write coherently.   The Holy Spirit is still at work within me, and I am amazed by what He has done!  Relationships I thought were hopeless have been restored; feelings I thought I could never let go have faded; things I thought were beyond my reach have arrived, and wisdom I thought would never be given to me has been given. 
God consistently does above and beyond what I could ask or think! 

Things are not perfect or complete - there remain broken and imperfect parts of my life, but the Restorer of all things is taking up my pieces and fitting them back together.  He's not putting them together the way I thought He would, or even the way I wanted Him to, but He is creating something new with all the old, dirty, broken parts I gave up for lost. 
What in the world.  :-)

If you read nothing else in this post, read this:
  Looking at my life over the past several years, I am convinced that the best thing you can do for yourself is to immediately choose to recognize God's hand in the difficult places of life: accept the circumstances He has allowed, and surrender to the work He wants to do within you. 
When I have failed to do this, I have lived in pain, bitterness, anger and frustration.  But the times I have taken advantage of God's special grace and chosen to do see Him in my circumstances, there has been joy, peace, comfort, and healing.  Even within the pain.   
The times I have honestly told God "I don't even WANT to be healed, but I know I need to be, so get me ready for it and do it in spite of me"  He has been faithful to do it.
I don't know how He does, it but He's sure good at it!  All it takes is my surrender.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The March Blog

March in Ohio = When everyone is either orange or pale porcelain.
I can't wait for the sun to start shining and remedy this problem on all levels. 

  • Puppies are one of the happiest things God made. 
    We adopted one of Lindsey's puppies to take the place of our beloved Flash who died in January.  And so, "Yellow" of the color-coded puppy family has now become "Ransom" and he is the cutest fluffiest, walking-sideways little puppy you'll ever see.  It's good to have a dog around here again.

  • It's that time of year again.... GIRL SCOUT COOKIE SEASON!!  :-)

  • I re-discovered my hatred for being home alone after my entire family left me for most of a week TWICE this month.  I enjoy the peace and quiet throughout the day, but the part I REALLY hate is coming home to a dark house.  And yes, I slept with a loaded shotgun within my reach.  I don't like to be alone at night. Don't judge me.
  • I also think that cooking for less than six people feels like a waste of time.

  • Basketball: It's good to be back at the stat table for Thursday night ball.  We had our annual BBall tourney fundraiser for the youth group a couple of weeks ago, and it was fun/stressful/traumatic/entertaining as usual.

    * Stat table jokes and running commentaries - we really do have the most fun.  ;-)
    * Guys who manage to have a good time even when they're not winning, and Refs who stick up for the stat team against angry Amish men. 
    * That guy with the white shorts either needs not-white shorts or not-colored underwear.  Just sayin'. 
    * We work for Fruit Snacks!
    * "Sexy" passes.  This is what happens when Janelle tries to do commentary after 18 games haha
    * And of course the advice of the weekend I already quoted in my FB status:  "Don't marry anyone you haven't seen play sports."  Sports really do bring out the best and the worst in people.  It's always interesting to watch how different people deal with frustration.

So I guess I'm pretty much settled back in at home now that it's been about a month...  I still wish I could be in two places (or maybe three or four) at once, and I miss my crazy amazing Spanish school friends, but I know God has us all exactly where He wants us, so I won't argue with Him. 
I'm still trying to work on my Spanish, but it's hard to keep up when you're not immersed in it, and especially when you're not that great at it to begin with. :-/

It's time to be getting farm equipment ready for planting, and I'm excited about that... Spring is beginning to play peek-a-boo with Northwest Ohio, and I can't wait for the trees to get leaves on them and the grass to turn green again.... in May. lol

I have so many thoughts swirling around inside my head right now that I can't decide which ones to tell you about and which to keep to myself, so I think I'll just be quiet for now.  :-)

I'll just leave you with this:  I like to listen to sermons/audiobooks while I work, and DearRachel recommended this sermon series to me  *here.*    You can watch them online or download the audio by clicking the link above the video.  Don't be scared off by the *M-word* in the title... I highly recommend this if you're dealing with difficult relationships right now because it's valuable material for all relationships, marital or otherwise.  Some principles are just universal when it comes to loving people and resolving conflict, know what I mean?  
It's also been changing some of my views on said "M-word" a good way, I think.
Anyways it's where I'm at right now, and God is using it in my life so I thought I'd share it with you.  Take it or leave it. :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The end?

1.5 days left in this beautiful country.  I have lots of mixed feelings about leaving. 
I mostly don't want to go home.  Is that bad?
I've started making a mental list of the pros and cons of going home:

  • Leaving my amazing friends.  And I'm not using the word "amazing" lightly here.  The work God is doing in the lives of each of these special people is phenomenal. I've made some great friendships here that I hope will continue, even after we've all scattered to the ends of the earth.
  • I need more time to practice my Spanish (and keep learning).
  • No more Sunshine.
  • No more Mangos.
  • Or tasty Costa Rican food.
  • I won't get coffee every morning, or discuss the news with Abuelita while I eat my breakfast.
  • I'm leaving behind a sweet sweet Tica family, and the most protective 3 year old boyfriend I've ever had.  He saves me from all sorts of danger around here. :-)
  • I probably won't find money on the ground every day anymore.
  • No more Chapel services at the Institute.
  • No more Colonos de Catan en espanol.
  • No more going to the beach on the weekends.
  • My grocery store doesn't sell Galletas de Mantequilla.  :-(
  • I have to go home to all sorts of drama that I really don't want to face again.  If only all of my problems would have fixed themselves while I was away!
 There are more, but I'll spare you. I'm just hitting the high points here.

  • I get to see everyone I miss back home. 
  • I'll have a cellphone again.
  • I can eat blueberry pancakes every day if I want to.
  • I'll be making money instead of spending it.
  • Spring planting will be fast approaching, and I'm itchin' to get in the field again.  
  • I'll have a piano. In my house. That I can play without the entire school campus having to listen in. 
  • I'll be able to DRIVE.
  • I can eat at Buffalo Wild Wings, and McDonald's has a dollar menu.
  • I can make cookies and pie and cinnamon rolls whenever I feel like it.  (and even when I don't feel like it, since that's my job, LOL) 
  • I can eat my normal six tiny meals a day instead of having to eat three giant meals a day.
  • Bible Study
  • Thursday night Basketball stats! 
As you can see, I'm pretty evenly split.  And why do most of my points have to do with food??  haha

However, I know I'm supposed to head home now, even if I'm not really ready to go. 
I'm trusting God to give me the strength and wisdom to know what to do about my home situation, and grace to love even those who refuse to love me back.  It's hard, and the last place on earth I want to be at the moment.
But I am confident that God has more than enough grace to get me through it. 

I'm struggling to prioritize, to focus on the One Thing most important and not be distracted by all of these lesser things that threaten to steal my peace and my joy.  My problems, no matter how big they seem, should never succeed in stealing away my joy.  Having said that, I'm taking a deep breath, praying my heart out, and packing up my things to head home.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

Please pray for my host family - that they will know the love of Jesus for real, and be set free by the FULL truth of the Gospel.  I just found out that my host "mom" has cancer, and is headed for her 4th surgery in the coming weeks, followed by a long hard year of chemo and radiation afterward.  These little boys need their Mama, and I believe she's been doing a lot of spiritual seeking. My heart breaks for this family, and I want them to have God's best. 

The Dead Cockroach Count in my room is up to six,
and the Colones on the Ground Count is up to 205. 
...just fyi. ;-)