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. ;-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little Boys, Volcanoes, and Predestination

Carlos Andres: 
  •   ….saying “Jessi, vea! Jessi, vea!”  (“vea” means “look”)  a hundred thousand times a day. lol    He’s a trip.  …with a lot of mad skillz that are just begging for an audience.  Like when he flips over the armchair in the living room. 20 times in a row. “Jessi, vea!  Jessi, vea!”  
  • ·         Andres and I play hide-and-scare together.  (which I’m okay with as long as I’m the one doing the scaring) His terrified giggles are h.y.s.t.e.r.i.c.a.l. 
  • ·         Sometimes he just sits next to me while I’m on Facebook and points to random pictures of people.  “Jessi!  Quien es esto?”  …and then he always wants to know why I’m not in the picture with my friend.  Haha
  • ·         Andres came into my room this morning and randomly asked if I have a toothbrush.  I heard him last night asking his Mom about it because he didn’t want to brush his teeth and thought if I didn’t then maybe he wouldn’t have to either, I guess.   The topic has apparently been weighing heavily on his mind.  I told him I DO in fact have a toothbrush, but he didn’t believe me until I showed it to him.   So he went and got his, and we compared them. lol  Gotta love little kids.   First time I've ever done show-and-tell with a toothbrush, I have to say. 

Trip to Arenal: 
  •        Buses are the most inhumane way to travel.  Torture is a pretty good word for bus rides longer than 2 ½ hours.   The ride to La Fortuna was almost double that.  Ugh.
  • According to the map, the volcano is just past Burger King....but the map lies.  There was definitely a lot of artistic license going on there, because we walked WAY past Burger King (like two miles, in the rain), and the Volcano was lots further.   Who are these people who hire artists to draw maps?  The point is ACCURACY, not prettiness.  Hello.  lol
  • ·         In La Fortuna, a man was playing “Smoke on the Water” in the park.  …..with an ocarina.  There really is a first time for everything.
  • ·         Javier – (the second one I met on this trip!)  The first one sat next to me on the plane and wanted me to have his phone number in case I needed anything while I was here.  The second one wanted money to buy a beer.  Or he wanted me to buy us BOTH beers.  (We’re a little unsure on the translation there.)  Either way, I said no.
    But he’s a professional fighter, and looked like it.  Wow.  Lots of scars. 
  • ·         Apparently playing cards in the park attracts a lot of attention in Latin America – whip out the playing cards, and you’ll have all kinds of friends.  Javier wondered if we gamble, and I told him we never play for money. 
  • ·         SisterMaryKathryn travels light: 
    For our overnight trip, she brought:  purse, swimsuit, and….steak knife?
    You need a husband with a backpack.
  • ·         I found 50 colonnes on the ground since my last post – what are we up to now?  175?  That’s about 34 cents if my math is right – enough to pay for one trip to the bathroom at the CocaCola bus station….and have a little left over.  haha
  • Me:  Don’t even pretend like you didn’t miss me all weekend!  You know you felt sad and lonely.
      There was definitely some kind of feeling….. 

The trip to the Arenal was a bit of a let-down because it decided to rain the whole time we were there, and the volcano wasn’t really even visible because of all the clouds covering it.   Very sad.
However, Sam, Jordan, SisterMaryKathryn and I managed to entertain ourselves and it was okay.   Good thing the hotel room only cost me $10 or I might have been a little more upset.
Note to self: next time, check the weather report before riding 4 hours in a bus to Arenal.  ….this may or may not work since the weather here pretty much just does whatever it wants. Haha.
Oh well.  I’ll save the volcano for my next trip to Costa Rica.    And then I’ll rent a car (or fly) instead of riding the bus! 

We’re down to the last 2 weeks of school, and I’m sad.  I need more time!!  I just paid my rent for my last 13 days, and it saddens me.    It’s interesting to see the mixed reactions in my friends – some are ready to move on to bigger and better things, but the real question is  not "Are you ready for school to be over," but “HOW WILL WE EVER LIVE WITHOUT EACH OTHER?!?!?”  :::::::tears::::::: 

I’ve been thinking deep thoughts about predestination this week.   Romans 9-11 is blowing my mind.
The phrase that’s grabbing me today and keeps floating around in my brain amidst Spanish verbs and pronouns is this:
“What if God…?”  (Rom. 9:22)   This one line screams at me because sometimes I fall into thinking that God is contained in the Bible:
This is God. 
This is how I know who God is. 
True, but this is not ALL of God.   God is not tame-able.  There are always “What ifs” with God because God is always BIGGER than my perception of Him.  

It’s like the speaker quoted in chapel the other day from C.S. Lewis regarding Aslan:

"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

There is always an element of danger when it comes to the character of God:  His character is a complex composite of divine hatred and divine love.    When I try to wrap my mind around that, my head hurts.  
God is unfathomable and unpredictable and that’s what makes Him dangerous.  He isn’t safe, but He IS good. 
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been His counselor?
Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 9:33-36)
As for predestination, I’m still thinking.    

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kitties, Conversations, and Costa Rican Goodness.

I love latin church services. …and they've got a SAXAPHONE on the worship team.  Come on!  :-)
I've happily been understanding MOST of the sermons at church the last two weeks.... just don't ask me to explain it to you in Spanish.  I'm so glad the pastor speaks fairly slow and uses words I know.  I write down all the words I don't know to look up later.  Gotta expand that vocabulary, you know. 

Jacó Beach is like being in Florida – everyone speaks English, and I saw a guy wearing an Indiana sweatshirt.  What?! lol  No me gusta Jaco.  WAY too many people.
Fun trip though, and gorgeous scenery out the bus window.  :-)

When we got to our hostel in Jacó, I checked us in and came out of the office to find everyone talking to a very shirtless, very friendly dude.  We discussed this later in our room:
Jenny: “So, Emily and I thinking about taking a surfing lesson tomorrow.”
“From Shirtless?”
Nate: “His name is Alan.”
“If he wants to be called by his real name, he needs to not be running around shirtless at all hours of the day and night! How does he expect anyone to remember his name?”
Cindy: “Come on Nate, don’t even pretend you weren’t distracted by his pectorals.” 
::::awkward silence::::
Me: “I didn’t look, personally…. I just saw he was shirtless and averted my gaze so I wouldn’t be lustful.” lol
Nate: “I just think you should call him by his name.  He’s a person, you know. He has a NAME.”
…and then we realized he was sitting directly outside our room for the entire conversation.  Oops. roflol!

  • My first stay in a Hostel.  Not bad!
  • I killed cockroach #3 in my room on Monday.  
  • …and I’ve found 40 more colonnes on the ground since my last blog update.  Haha!
  • Maria: "I left my personality at home." 
    Me: "I noticed, but I didn't want to say anything." (she meant to say she left her flashcards for describing personalities lol)
  • The neighbor’s cat likes to dance on our tin roof at night – I never thought one cat could make so much noise hopping around! Last night I heard him meowing by my bathroom skylight.  Crazy kitty. 
  • Sister Mary Kathryn: "You're like a Boy Scout, ...only prettier!"   
  • Playing the Spanish version of Settler's.  Yeah, you know you're jealous. ;-) 
  • In conversation class:
    Rita: "Como esta?"
    Nate: "Casado."  (which means "married," not to be confused with "CANsado," which means exhausted.)
    Me: "Since YESTERDAY??"
    Rita: "Felicidades!" 
    Monday, I met three new people: 
    Angel, the man who cleans Parque Chino/Okayama/Japonese.  He very graciously allowed me to sit at the picnic table where he was eating lunch and talk his leg off trying to practice my Spanish.  I think he may have been slightly frightened at first, but he warmed up after a while. Lol

    Carmen, a tiny elderly lady who spends most of the day walking up and down the street she lives on.  She has a dog named Blackie, and a son who lives down the street.  Sweet lady with beautiful eyes.  She repeats herself a lot, but that’s okay, ‘cause I don’t always catch what people say the first time. 

    Roland, originally from CR, lives in California, home visiting his wife’s family.  I was walking by his house, and somehow ended up in a conversation with him after my normal “Buenas Tardes” greeting.  He asked if I go to the Institute, and what I plan to do with Spanish, so I shared with him a bit, and after I left, I realized I forgot to ask him if he knows Jesus.  Maybe next time. 
    I've had some really good talks with my host family over the past three weeks, in spite of my horrific Spanish...   It's funny how conversations like this have come up so naturally, and it's not weird or strange or awkward - it just happens.  ...and afterwards I realize that I just shared the Gospel.  Crazy.  :-)
    We were just watching TV on Monday (some Mexican Dr.Phil-type show) and talking about the world's problems, when Taty told me that she and her mother had been talking about how different I am from other University students who have stayed with them - I don't come home drunk, I'm not chasing men, and from the conversations we've had dating and marriage, they know I'm not a casual dater or whathaveyou.

    She said I'm very different from what she knows of Americans, and wondered why.  I just told her that it's really important to me to be obedient to God's Word, and that just threw open the doors to a great conversation about the Law and Grace, and Sin and the sacrifice of Jesus.  She asked questions, and I did my best to answer with my limited conversational resources. 
    Towards the end of our talk, she asked me what my objective is in learning Spanish, if I'm planning to be a missionary or what.  I told her I would love to be a missionary in Latin America, but only if God sends me, and she said (in Spanish) "You're going to make a good missionary, and you need to come help all of Costa Rica."  :-) 
    I know that my pathetic vocabulary and wrong verb tenses butchered most of what I was trying to say to her, but I believe God uses my gigantic weaknesses for His glory.  Please pray for Tatianna if you think about her.  She has a lot of weight on her shoulders, and she's doing the best she can to raise her boys right.

    ...and that's the long way of saying it's been a good week. :-)

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    The end of week 2: Randomness + the Faithfulness of God.


    • Killed two cockroaches in my room so far.  2 in two weeks isn’t bad, I don’t think. 
    •   Ate the first watermelon I’ve EVER liked.  …and I’ve had it three times since then.  If you know me at all, you know this is a big deal.  
    •   I lost my water bottle cap last Tuesday morning.  I took the lid off, set it down in my room, and promptly forgot where I put it.  I’m still looking for it.  What on earth?  My room isn’t THAT big!!
    • I tried to put soap on my toothbrush instead of toothpaste twice the same day.  I really don’t know what’s wrong with me…?
    • My money-finding tradition continues – I’ve found 85 Colonnes since I’ve been here!  (about 17 cents)  I’m gonna get rich, I’m tellin’ ya!
    • Cam:“The plug doesn’t fit in the outlet and it like sparks and stuff.”
      Nate:  “That doesn’t sound good – have you killed anybody?”
      Cam:  “Yes. FIVE people.  Anyways… I’m trying to figure out how to….”
      Nate:  “Wait – FIVE people?  You should probably call someone about that.”
    • Andres:  “Jessi, tu necesitas coma mas porque tu es FLACA!”   That’s a three-year old telling me he thought I needed more than two pieces of pizza.  His grandma was horrified. Being called “flaca” isn’t exactly a compliment.  It’s like unhealthily skinny.   “Andres!  No!  She looks nice!”  He shook his head and said he didn’t think so. lol  I apparently need to eat more pizza to impress this kiddo.
    • On that note:   I love my host family’s cooking – I ate 4 (count ‘em) FOUR starches for supper one night:  Rice, Mashed Potatoes, Pasta, and Chips.  Someone tell Mom I’m definitely going to put on weight while I’m here.   ;-)
    • Adrienne:  “Don’t judge.”
    • Zaqueo:  “You people know NOTHING about Canada!”
        “You’re right.  All we know is that you have Niagara Falls.  Oh, and… wait- no, that’s it.” 
      We love you Zach, we really do. ;-)  
      I am still loving Costa Rica, loving my new friends, and loving Spanish – this wonderful, frustrating, tantalizingly-close-to-me language.  I wish I had more than 4 weeks left!!  Wow.  Every week I just discover how much MORE I have to learn.  Today in Grammar class, I was just like “Oops.  Yeah, I’ve been saying that wrong the whole time.  Oh, and that too!”  …my poor pathetic grammar…. Agh! 

    Went hiking on Saturday – check out my pictures on FB…. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!  I kept stopping to just sit and stare at the view.  I am constantly amazed by the amazing creativeness of my God. 
    Every time I come out of the class and see those mountains, I can’t help but stop and stare.  I wonder if you ever get used to the view here? 
    That hike reminded me of when we were driving through the Andes mountains in Ecuador on our way back to El Recreo from Cuenca, all of us just singing and praising God because the WHOLE EARTH is filled with His GLORY!  Wow. 

    My verse for this week:  “He who has called you is faithful;  He will surely do it.”  - 1 Thess. 5:24.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about where God has brought me from, and wondering where He’s taking me…. 

    Everyone here is always asking the question “So, what are you going to do when you finish this course?”  Some of my friends are headed for El Salvador, some for Mexico, some for Nicaragua, some for Chile, some are staying here in CR, and I’m going…. Home.    
    But you know what, that’s okay.  I’m following Jesus one step at a time, and as far as I know the next two steps are “Finish this language course” and “Go home.” 

    Last week in chapel, Rob shared his and Sherry’s testimony and it just left me in tears.   I wish you could all have been there.  Wow.  I may share some of what he had to say with ya’ll sometime, but this post is already long enough, I think.  Suffice it to say that God’s timing is not our timing, and God may choose to take the next 25 years to grow my character before He decides to plant me on the mission field, or ______ (fill in the blank).  I’ve been encouraged to have faith that the One who has called me is FAITHFUL, and He’s going to fulfill His purpose in me.  For SURE.   I can rest in that promise. 

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Costa Rica: Week 2

    Random things:

    *I hate materialism. 

    * Two qualities I most admire in other people:  Honesty & Humility.  There are few things more attractive in a friend than a commitment to truth and an honest view of who God is and who they really are in the light of God's character.
    The two things I most despise in myself and most react to in other people are Dishonesty and Pride. 
    I hate not being able to trust people. 

    * Costariccenses are BEAUTIFUL.

    * I showed pictures of home to my Tica family, and Tatianna said "...but where are the mountains?!"  She thinks Ohio looks "clean."  :-)

    * I miss my nieces a TON.

    Quotes for the day:
    Zaqueo: "A spoonful of regular verbs helps the irregulars go down.
    GinnyBeth: "He's just an artistic man in a hoodie."


    Week one is over, and while this is good because it means I survived this far, it's sad because it means I only have 5 weeks left.
    I'm not a fan of living in the city, but I think the sight of las montañas around the city helps.  It makes me feel a little less trapped.
    I do not however enjoy nearly dying every time I have to cross the street.
    Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in Costa Rica.  My Tica family tells me that last year 700 people died trying to cross the street. That number does not include the number of people who were hit and didn't die.  This is not encouraging.
    Thankfully, the Lord put me just 4 blocks from the school, and I don't have to cross any main roads to get there.  I clearly don't know how to cross the street, because it is terrifying and I've almost died more than once.  Don't try this without friends to protect you. I've had several people say to me "You don't know how to cross the street, do you?" So I only follow other people now, and never try to cross the Big Scary Road by myself.   

    The family I'm staying with is absolutely the sweetest, and they have made me part of the family.  I enjoy trying to converse with them.... and they are good at using easy words I can understand and explaining to me the ones I don't know.   ...and did I mention the food is WONDERFUL?!  :-)
    I have my own room and my own bathroom, neither of which I have EVER had at home in the States, so I'm very spoiled.  ...and I have a double bed.  Never had one of those either.  I'm telling you, this place is great! lol

    School is going well, I think - I'm enjoying my classes, and learning new words and new ways to express things.  I'm still not very good, but am glad my level of understanding surpasses my speaking abilities or I'd really be in trouble.  Tatianna (my host "mom" - she's 32) says I'm already improving (I think she lies) and that I really don't speak Spanish with an accent, so that's good. I've always worried about being one of those people who speaks Spanish like telemarketers speak English.
    This week I'm starting to feel a tiny bit overwhelmed with the sheer multitude of things I'm learning.  Like everyone at the school says, the Intensive Course is.... Intense.   I want my brain to be able to retain all of this new knowledge, but I'm scared it won't.  

    God has blessed me with amazing fast friends, and I'm so grateful for each of them!  A lot of us in the Intensive Course are single versus the many many married couples in the Regular Courses, so we have banded together.  :-)   It's safe to say that I have already been blessed in a special way by each of these awesome people and I'm looking forward to 5 more weeks of this!  Gracias a Dios!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Airport Blogging

    I wrote this in the Detroit airport on my way down here to Costa Rica.  Other updates to follow. Probably. ;-)
    A new year, a new outlook:
    I’m beginning this year with something I haven’t had in a while:  HOPE. 
    I am excited for this new year and what it will bring!  I rest in the unchanging sovereignty of God, knowing that nothing will happen to me without first passing through His loving hands. 
     I will remember 2010 as the year I….
    *….surrendered to God’s healing touch – holding every broken, hurting part of me up to Him to made whole, and discovering that He doesn't say no to prayers like these.
    *…surrendered to God’s sovereign will for my life – refusing to make my own plans, or sit around wishing for my will to be His instead of allowing His will to be mine.
    *…finally made peace with my past when God spoke to me so clearly one Thursday night last Summer and confirmed to me His hand in the difficult decisions I’ve made.  Oh my goodness – His ways are so MUCH HIGHER than mine!  I am blown away by the way He works every.single.circumstance in my life for my good and His glory!  My faith in Him has been strengthened this year.   
    …this is why that Gungor song from several blog posts ago remains a theme for me.  He makes Beautiful Things out of us!

    The result of these three choices has been joy, and a peace I haven’t felt in about four years.  I LOVE it!
    My best friend even noticed the difference in me over the phone!  LOL   I love God, and I love what He is doing in my life.  What? Did I just say that?!  lol.  He’s amazing.

    Costa Rica:  For once in my life, I have been 100% sure about a decision!   As someone who admittedly second-guesses nearly every major decision in my life, I have been at complete peace with this one.  I know God wants me to learn Spanish, and while I don’t know where He’s going with all this exactly, I know I’m in His will because He said “Go,” and I said “Yes I will!” 
    I don’t know what I’m going to do with Spanish.  I have no plans, and I know some people think that’s crazy.  Why shell out money for this when I’m not immediately planning to head to the mission field?  All I can say is that it’s a step of obedience.   …and so far in my life, God has not been in the habit of showing me His entire plan all at once.  I only ever seem to have light for the very next step.  Or the next half a step.  I guess you could call it walking by faith. ;-) 
    I am excited, confident, and peaceful in this decision, and committed to going with God wherever He’s headed with this.  Spanish for me could be anything from a simple tool to be a more effective encouragement to friends I already have in Ecuador to working with the Spanish population in my area to full-blown move-to-the-mission-field kind of work.  I have no idea.  …but I’m trusting, and walking straight ahead, following my most trusted Friend and Guide.  Something tells me that's a good place to be.  :-)