Friday, November 27, 2009
I don't like to admit that even though I think they're kind of dumb, I do make New Year's resolutions. Even the most un-resolute person has to admit that when a new year rolls around, they secretly hope for SOMETHING to be different. I always do.
On New Year's Day this year I actually wrote a little list in my adventure book. My theme this year was about being intentional...so here's how it turned out:
1. Lose 10lbs (duh - so it's a New Year's Resolution list! Let's call a spade a spade.)
Over the past several years I've seen my body....change....in a manner that does not please me. This brings on a host of emotional and spiritual issues that would be not only a new post but probably an entirely new BLOG. Suffice to say I need to get a grip, my body is NOT 19 years old anymore, and I'm in pretty good shape. But that one pound here, two pounds there that you gain each year really does sneak up on you. And then five or six years later you're like, WHAAAATTT?!?!?! Oh well. Well, I did NOT lose ten pounds. But I didn't gain any either, so that's gotta count for something. AND I became more intentional about exercising - I always have been decent about that, but each year it slips a little more on the priorities. But I still kept up with running some, walking, hiking, yoga, etc. Sometimes I'm able to get up super-early and do my workout before work, which makes me feel quite hear-me-roar.
We've been more intentional about being healthier in other areas, too. I don't buy many packaged or processed foods anymore. Sometimes there's the occasional splurge, but not too much. We've been eating primarily whole foods, we rocked the farmer's market twice a week this summer, and have transitioned to a primarily vegan (and gluten-free, for Matt's sake) diet. That's not to say that we WON'T eat meat/dairy/etc at all, but for the most part we choose not to, for health reasons. So I've learned some amazing recipes, experimented with new ingredients, and broadened my culinary horizons, and it's been a BLAST, and we feel so much better as a result.
I dirted all of my cleaning products (except for tub foam - Borax really does NOT do the trick on soap scum, sorry to say) and use only vinegar and peroxide. I make my own laundry soap and line-dry most of the time (there are just some weeks when it's not practical). We tossed our scratched-up Teflon cookware and bought stainless steel. Just random small changes that end up making things healthier and easier in the long run. So after I put it in that perspective, is it really all that big of a deal that I didn't lose my ten pounds, when in the grander scheme of things I've stepped up my exercise, changed our eating habits, and cut down on the amount of chemicals we use? Probably not. :)
2. Be intentional about spending time with friends.
It's easy to be surrounded by friends and not see them all at the same time. This year I wanted to be more intentional about spending time with the ones who are my besties - especially the ones who have been my besties for quite a while. Sometimes I did great at this, and others I did not. But God taught me a lot about my friendships this year. My friends are such an evidence of His grace to me. Whether they're the ones I see at least once a week at church, or every few months, or every few years...the grace lies in the fact that we can pick up where we left off. Our lives change dramatically whether we realize it or not, and it's hard for things to remain the same as they've always been. I've felt guilty for making new friends and not seeing the old ones as much as I'd like to...yet God's relieved me of that guilt as well. It's good to build into my community, to be invested in where I am, to become a part of others' lives. They too become old friends. My old friends' lives have changed as well - they're pursuing dreams, building into their communities, investing in the lives of others as well. We always pick up where we left off.
3. Have adventures!!
When I start spinning my wish lists, Matt tells me to make it happen. My biggie wish this year was to go back to Sonlight in Colorado. Matt told me to make it happen. So I did. To commit to a full week at a camp in the middle of nowhere in another state to which we need to fly was quite an undertaking...but we made it happen and it was awesome-awesome-awesome. I used up a load of vacation time and it cost quite a bit of money when it was all said and done (plane tix, car rental, etc), but it was beyond worth it.
We spent time with family in the Napa Valley, hiked in Tahoe, covered a good chunk of San Francisco in a day, sat around campfires in southern Colorado, and I crossed one of my bucket-list items off by going to a conference in Phoenix. I spent a weekend in Chicago pushing Renee around in a wheelchair and cracking up about it. Matt learned how to cross-country ski up in Manistee this past January, and liked it so much that we bought new skis for both of us. We made evening trips to the beach every chance we could get this summer. I walked out to the end of the pier each week and marveled that I could just drive for a few minutes whenever I wanted to and find myself standing on the edge of a vast expanse of blue water.
Oh - and I would definitely put "being a clinical instructor" in the adventure category, because it was....an adventure.
4. Become involved in the community.
I did start volunteering at the Holland Rescue Mission. Part of my intentionality was to ask the Powers that Be at work if I could try to get all Wednesday off on my schedule, so I can set aside that time to be involved in community activities. Praise God, it worked out! I helped out with lunch on Wednesdays at the women's mission - food prep, serving, cleanup and washing dishes. VERY fun - but then I joined a Wednesday Bible study at church that coincided with my time at the mission, so I haven't been there in a few months. As soon as the study is over, I'll head back.
My friends and I also formed an accountabilty group...we were frustrated that most of the women's Bible studies are during the day when we work. So my friend Mary and I were like, 'well why don't we form our own?' So we formed a small group of five of us, and we primarily try to focus on accountability with each other, and it's been awesome.
So I think my little list of goals actually did form a good framework by which I was able to figure out what I wanted the year to look like, and "make it happen." God's provoking my heart in new ways for this upcoming year, and I can't wait to share that with you in upcoming posts!!! But this one has been long enough, so I won't get into Vision 2010 right now.
I love to hear from other people - or read other people's blogs...so how did 2009 turn out for you? Did you make a list? Do you plan for your year and make it happen, or do you kick back and enjoy the ride? I'd love to see how other people approach the new year - let me know!!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Every two seconds, another orphan dies from malnutrition.
Around the globe, 15,200,000 children have been orphaned by the AIDS crisis. If all these children held hands, they would stretch across the United States. By 2011, this virtual chain will reach around the world.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest proportion of children living as orphans. In 2003, there were 43,400,000 children with no living parent.
By 2010, the total number of orphans, from all causes, in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to 50,000,000.
Think it only happens to "them?" Well, look at us...
About 40,000 infants are placed in foster care each year. 126,000 children are currently available for adoption.
More than 20,000 children each year never leave the system. They remain in foster care until they "age out."
Thirty percent (THIRTY PERCENT!) of the homeless in America and roughly 25% of those in prison were once in foster care.
Children have on average three different foster care placements; it is not uncommon to hear of children who have had 20 or 30 different homes.
TELL me this is okay. TELL me that our biggest problem right now is a tumbling American economy. TELL me this isn't really a problem. TELL me it doesn't break your heart too.
There are kids in our own neighborhoods who need someone to invest in them. There is a foster system packed to the gills with kids who know nothing better than a life that has laughed in their face and walked away. There are countries full of kids who may never know a mom's hug, a dad's encouragement, or a home to call their own. Some of them only need proper nutrition and medical care in order to thrive. There are kids who need to know that there is a God who loves them and has never forsaken them, even in the worst of circumstances.
Oh, that I could open my doors and take them ALL in!! Oh that I could detest the banality of half the things that I do and talk about, and start setting my mind on things that are above (Colossians 3:2)! Oh that my heart would break and bleed a thousand times over until I can't HELP but lay down my life for another!
I pray and eagerly anticipate the day that I will step into a land that is not my home and open my arms to the child that God has selected to be OURS, to train up in His ways and encourage and love and prepare.
Yes, we would love a child with HIV or AIDS. Even if it broke our hearts heart a million times over to do so. If that is what would bring the most glory to God, then so be it.
Because it's not about us.
Oh Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
You will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth will strike terror no more.Psalm 10:17-18
Friday, November 6, 2009
It is my honor to introduce you a dear young friend of ours - Carinna. Matt and I got to know her mom and sister when we lived in the apartment when we first moved to Holland (already two and a half years ago!). We just developed one of those neighbor relationships where you have the revolving door to both of your homes, and no one cares what time it is or what the reason is that you're there.
Carinna is an amazing kid - she's super-smart (she's read books that I've never cracked...in school OR as an adult), and she knows words that I can't spell. She's thoughtful. She has a great sense of humor. She's fun to talk to. She's an amazing writer and a deep thinker. She has this fun relationship with Matt that surpasses my understanding - they're just on the same page and can talk forever about the funniest nonsense. If we ever are blessed with a daughter, if she's even a fraction of the kid that Carinna is, I will be a very, VERY proud and awestruck mom.
But the coolest - coolest - thing about Carinna is her love for the Lord. She pursues Him with reckless abandon. She has a profound understanding of and relationship with Him. She truly is a light in the darkness, an encouragement in a discouraging culture, and rock-solid in what she believes in world that wants to pull everyone along with its own current. She truly is the "salt" that we're all called to be.
We love you Carinna, and are so honored to have you (and your family) to call "friend!"