Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Colorado Texas Exchange

I'm officially on my way to Texas. My dad and I spent the day packing up our two U-Haul trailers (one for his car and one for mine) with some help from some absolutely wonderful friends. Then we traveled south to spend the night in the Best Western in Pueblo, CO (I'm posting from our hotel room). Tomorrow we'll make the rest of the eight hour drive to Lubbock.

Yesterday, I created one last great memory as a Coloradan. Several friends and I ran the Bolder Boulder as part of a team that Compassion International put together. The Bolder Boulder is the largest 10k run in the United States which meant we shared the roadway with around 50,000 other participants. It was a cold and rainy day, but that didn't put a damper on anyone's spirits and was perfect running weather.

I finished in 73 minutes--not bad for my first 10k and for not training as religiously as I ought to have. I am really glad that I participated in this event with my friends, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I hope to get a few more races under my belt before I leave for Africa. And who knows, maybe I will get to run a few in Africa.

This is the last post from Colorado. The next post will be from Texas. Hope you have enjoyed the last two years of posts from here. I wouldn't exchange them for anything.

Best of luck to you Colorado!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Farewell and Goodnight

I just left my farewell Colorado Springs party. I have to say that I was overwhelmed with the number of people who came. I have been blessed with an amazing group of friends here, and I do truly count each one a blessing. They are beautiful people who I love deeply. I am very sad to leave them, and I will miss them terribly.

Please allow me to indulge and say a few personal goodbyes. If you are not of the Springs, please feel free to skip the remainder of this post and go on about your life. For you who do read through the last bit, please know these are in random order and I apologize already if I miss someone.


Megan, I have learned so much by your side both from you and with you. I truly count you as a kindred spirit. You sharpen me in ways that I cannot even begin to express to you. I thank you for each addiction you have encouraged me in, and I look forward to hearing about how God continues to build up the work that He is doing in you.

Stacey, you clung to me like know one in my life has clung to me. No matter how hard I pushed you away, you would not allow me to escape. Your friendship was completely unexpected and became so precious to me. You encourage me. You offer me hope. I have been blessed by your friendship in ways that I have never been blessed by a friendship before.

Emily, you truly are the bravest person I know. You inspire me to greater things. In the moments when life calls for the most courage--including sitting in the chair with the tattoo needle barring down--I would not want any other person at my side. Thank you for inspiring courage within me.

Amber, you were a friend and a confidant when I needed one dearly. The life you have lived, the courage you have shown, and the mother you are inspire me to be a better woman. You challenge me to be a person who doesn't sit by the sidelines, but fights the good fight.

Brian, you sharpen me. Your intellect and your wisdom sharpen me. You encourage me to think deeper than I have before.

James, you remind me to love the Lord and welcome His instruction.

Jenny, you have a beautiful heart for the Lord, and I am thankful for each time that we got to sit and chat.

Korlyn and Sandi, you stood by me though you didn't have to and though I had not always stood by you. You welcomed me as a friend when others were turning their backs on me. I will never forget your kindness.

Brett, you forgave and you befriended me where I was at. I will never forget the grace you have shown me.

Marney, we have walked similar paths during these past two years. It was good to have a friend who could somewhat understand the emotions I was feeling at various times. Thanks for meeting me at IHOP.

To everyone else in the college and career group (past and present), you have blessed me in hundreds and thousands of ways. I am thankful for the life you have shared with me. I will miss games of Ultimate Frisbee, life groups, and Jack's gatherings. Thank you for welcoming me into your midst for this season.

To Kelly, I look forward to continuing our friendship and coming to know you more. I am confident that as our common love for all things British grows our common love for each other will, as well.

To Andrea, you have an amazingly sweet and passionate spirit that has been visible in every interaction I have had with you. Thank you for being such an amazing advocate and thank you for sharing some of your heart with me along the way.

To everyone else in the Colorado Springs ONE group, thank you for caring for the world's poorest. Thank you for offering hope to the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the poor, the AIDS patient, the hungry, and all those marginalized in our world. Never give up in the fight against poverty!

To everyone else, you have blessed my life whether you know it or not. While I can't say a personal thank you to each of you here, please know that I do thank you. I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep. I pray that His face will shine upon you and that you will have peace.

Grace and peace to you all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Invisible Children Presents Roseline

Answering the Big Questions

When people hear that I am going to be living in Africa for two years, often the question follows, "But aren't you scared of...?" The ellipsis usually being something along the lines of getting a disease, getting eaten by a wild beast, getting killed by tribal warriors, getting kidnapped getting... I'll let you put in your own thought from here.

(A quick reminder that I do not have my country assignment from the Peace Corps yet; thus, the likelihood of any of the aforementioned scenarios is dependent on where I am placed on the continent. However, you can rest assured that the Peace Corps makes the safety and health of their volunteers a high priority.)

The answer to all ellipsis questions is "no." I'm not scared of "..." At least I haven't been asked a "..." that actually frightens me yet. More often than not it is when I'm in the midst of some mundane task like brushing my teeth, and I think "Will I be able to easily purchase toothpaste?" or "Do they even have Crest in Africa?" Or maybe when doing the laundry I wonder "How hard is it to actually wash your clothes by hand?" Or "Will I have to learn to take cold showers?"

These are the questions and minute fears that hit me when I think about Africa and what it will mean to live there. I don't think about contracting HIV/AIDS. I don't think about getting caught in a fight between warring militias. I don't think about being kidnapped by a warlord. I find these are useless thoughts. These are thoughts that would drive me into fear, and it is faith that is leading me forward. Fear is the opposite of faith. If faith leads me forward, their is no place for fear.

My desire in going is to be a learner. I want to learn about extreme poverty. I want to learn about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I want to learn about conflict and war. I want to learn and come to a clearer understanding of these things and others that affect this part of our world so that I can be a better mouthpiece for those who live everyday of their lives--not merely two years--in these circumstances. I want to be able to walk away from this experience with a deeper understanding and be a stronger advocate for social justice.

Perhaps one thing I do fear is the arrogance and pomp it would take to say yes to an ellipsis question. Whatever the circumstances that I do find myself in, they will be temporary--two years. It will not be temporary for the people I live with, work with, serve with. It is their everyday life--everyday, every year, and for most, all their lives.

Jesus asked, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36). This is the question I truly fear. What can I add to even one moment of my life if I live that life entirely in pursuit of my own good? Nothing--"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Christ] and for the gospel will save it" (Mark 8:35). This is why I go to Africa. Not because I have something great to offer, but because saving my own life wreaks of a life lost.

So fix my eyes on Jesus. Let Him be the forethought, the afterthought, and the present thought of my every moment. And let the perfect love found in Him and in Our Father in heaven drive out all fear.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A New Familiar Place

In just over a week, I make my return to the Lone Star State (for those of you not up on U.S. State nicknames, that's Texas). It's been four years since I was a Texas resident, and I've had the opportunity to live in two of the most beautiful places in the U.S.--Oregon and Colorado. It will be hard to move back to arid West Texas where the greatest beauty is the sunset and to get beautiful sunsets you have to contend with large amounts of dirt flying through the air (something about the sun's rays reflecting off the dirt particles).

Colorado has been a wonderful place for me, and I am sorry to leave it. God has done a great work in me here--a work of healing and teaching. I've had peace here, and I've developed friendships here that I am certain I will carry with me for many years beyond life in Colorado.

At the same time, I am looking forward to being with my family for the next five months. Who knows when and if I will have the opportunity to live in close proximity with them again. It is good that I have this time to spend with them before officially joining the Peace Corps in November.

I am very hopeful that God who began a good work in me will continue to carry it out over these next months.

To Colorado: thank you for providing an amazing place of rest over the past two years.

To Texas: I look to you with hope of continuing in this journey towards Christ..