Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Second

Many of you may have heard of the site I Am Second. Great site I highly recommend checking it out. . Over the past few months God has really been working on my heart in regards to that. In this life it is so easy to get caught up in yourself. Your wants. Your desires. Our flesh cries out for it. Putting God and others first doesn't come as natural. But it is what we are called to do. My husband and I have been reading the Gospels and Christ makes it pretty clear. In Matthew 10:26-28 he says,

"... but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be a servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave- Just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

As Christians we are supposed to be like Christ. Christ served- so we must serve. You can't read through the gospels without seeing over and over "and Jesus had compassion on them and met their need."  How many times are we so focused on our wants/needs that we miss out on meeting someone else's need? How many times are we moved with compassion and still do nothing? I've been reading "To Live Is Christ to Die is Gain" by Matt Chandler. There is an entire chapter on humility. He reminds the reader that, "A life of humility is based on the cross of Jesus Christ, which tells us that Jesus could have done NONE of it but decided to endure ALL of it." Let that soak in. Maybe read it again. Christ had a choice and He chose to serve us. If anyone who has walked this Earth has had a right to be served by others it would be Jesus. Yet he didn't sit back and have the disciples pamper him. It was the opposite. He served them (He washed their sandy, messy feet) and He served others. How can we not look at that and try to serve others?

I was taught once to use the JOY method to pray when I was young. praise Jesus first. pray for Others second. pray for Yourself last. But I think this goes beyond prayer. To have joy in this life we must put Jesus and others before ourselves. It is not easy. Take infertility for example. When I am weeks late and miserable my initial reaction isn't to praise God for it and be thankful for the opportunities I've had to serve others through it. No. I want to rant and rail "Why ME God?" But when I get in the I am Second mindset- it is not so bad. Yes, physically I am still a wreck but God strengthens me to fight through it. So some may be asking how on Earth can I flip it around and see my infertility as a positive? When I think about my foster kiddos, the students in my classrooms, and the orphans I hope to help here- not having my own biological children doesn't feel so bad. When I think of everywhere God has brought me and all the experiences I've had- I can trust Him that He knows best. Serving others and serving Christ gives me joy to fight through the struggles of infertility. When I focus on me- that's when the depression of infertility hits.

I am by no means saying this is easy. Far from it! We cannot do it on our own. It is only Christ in us that allows us to do so. But it is the only way to truly live. So this Thanksgiving I am issuing a challenge to you and also to myself. Let's try living Second. Put God first in all things. Serve others before yourself. This is how we share our faith and change the World. So who is with me?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lessons from Life and Dog Bites

We had one of those nights last night that you never forget. We've had many "Wow" moments along this crazy journey. I was planning to write about last week when after our field trip we had a little African butterfly (they had their faces painted at the park) snuggled up and fell asleep on my lap. In that moment I felt my heart change from wanting to adopt here to having an ache in my heart to do so. I know I am here to try to help these precious children that God puts in my path. I may write more about that later because now I have something else I need to write.

Last night I got bit by a dog. Now you may be asking "How is that life changing or a Wow moment? Shouldn't it just be an Ow! Moment?" We believe we saw a miracle last night and the more I look back at it the more I see as one. So as I sit here in pain I will try to shed some light on it. Last night we decided to go look at some German Shepherd puppies. Now due to some crazy circumstances (we finally got a rain/ dust thunderstorm, it was dark and windy outside, the pups were moved from their parents because of said storm, and other things I don't fully understand) when I walked by the daddy dog, he bit me. It hurt. I got to the other side of the fence before falling to the ground in pain. Ryan came over and calmly started taking care of me. I couldn't see but he said the blood was gushing and he thought it must have hit an artery. My shoe was immediately full of blood. The lady whose dogs we went to see got her first aid kit and started cleaning it. Ry applied pressure and tried getting ahold of someone to call an ambulance, because we are in another country and 911 doesn't work here. We stopped and both laid hands on my leg and started praying over it. Things did not look good at the time. I was getting dizzy and nauseated. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep. But I knew we needed to pray. Ry said I prayed in tongues but all I remember was saying "Jesus." Within a minute the blood started to stop. We bandaged my leg and went to the hospital. After limping around trying to figure out where to go I went in to see the doctor. He took the bandage off and there was little to no blood. He asked, "Why did you bandage it? Bite wounds need air unless they are bleeding badly." In that moment we didn't know what to say. The dog owner, Sandra, and I just looked at each other completely shocked. The doctor gave me a few shots (including rabies shots IN THE WOUND) and stitches. It was quite painful but during the whole experience I had a sense of calm. In the beginning I thought I might bleed out but after we prayed I just knew I was going to be okay. Ry kept his head about him as well. In this situation it would be easy to get angry or start the blame game- but that didn't happen. We constantly reassured Sandra that it was okay. She asked me at one point where I was from and I didn't think much about it until Ryan said I spoke in tongues. I hope that our attitude, praying, and the healing was a witness to her about God. We are going to reconnect in a few days.

Now I am still in pain and I have to get another Rabies shot in a few days, it would be easy to be upset about all of this. I got bit by a dog. I will be limping around for a few days and will probably have scars from it. But instead of getting upset- I am thankful. Thankful I didn't die and that God healed my wounds. Thankful for the peace and chance to show our faith to a complete stranger. Thankful to see that God is in control in all situations. I am in a foreign land and it can be scary sometimes. Going to a hospital in a country where HIV is common with an open leg wound is scary. Preaching in front of a crowd like I have been asked to do Saturday- is scary. But I can look back on this night and know that God is with me no matter where I go. That is comforting and for that I am so grateful. My lesson from last night: wherever you are whatever your circumstance, God is there with you too. We don't need to be afraid. Our God has got it covered!

Friday, November 8, 2013


This has been a crazy busy week. My heart and my eyes have been opened so much in these few short days. I have been avoiding writing in part because of the busyness- but also because I struggle with the words to explain. But I feel the need to try.

Most of you probably know that my husband and I are in Africa now. We've been here a little over 2 weeks. This week I started helping out at a preschool/ daycare. In my selfishness I dreaded getting out of bed that first morning. (I am not a morning person. need coffee to survive the AM) When I got to the school, however, it was so worth it. These beautiful children surrounded me with hugs and saying "good morning teacher" "you are beautiful teacher" "I love you teacher." Then I got to worship God, teach, and play outside with them. They stole my heart. Not saying it was easy. I went home worn out. Child to teacher ratios aren't the same here as in the States. But that is another story.

3 days ago I had a conversation with one of the children that started a change in my heart. The children's assignment was to draw their house and their fattest cow (cattle is a sign of wealth here. instead of asking how much $ you make you wonder how many cows they have). Thula was very artistic and drew a wonderful drawing of a house- but then he stopped. I told him well done on his house and that I couldn't wait to see the cow. He got a sad look on his face and told me he couldn't draw a cow because his father did not have one.

The next day I had a conversation with the head teacher and she told me most of the children get so excited and fight over the toys is because the only time many of the children see toys is when they are at school. She asked me if children in America had many toys. My heart was broken. I remembered my childhood when I had so many toys that many sat on the shelf for days before I rotated them into the play schedule. I spent many hours marrying my Barbies to my Ninja Turtles and having them live in my toy castle. I thought of how my childhood would've been different if I had no toys. I came home sad and wanting to do something about it. I am resolved to do some awesome art projects with the kids and try to make them some toys they can take home.

I have been seeing all of these thankful post on Facebook this month and I think it is great. We should be thankful. There is a meme going around that says something along the lines of "November the month every one posts what they are thankful for before going back to complaining on Facebook the other 11 months." We have so much in the States. There are the basic necessities that we don't even think about that other countries don't have. Food, water, shelter, electricity... Can you imagine not being able to provide that for your family? We went on a field trip yesterday and half the children could not go because their family could not afford it. It was like the Botswana version of Disneyland and cost less than $20 USD. Some families here make less than that in a week and Botswana is one of the richer countries in Africa. I felt poor back in the States because we could barely manage financially. Compared to other places in the world- we were millionaires. I complained and was miserable about our financial situation but here they have so much less and are happy.

I am not writing this to make anyone feel bad. I just want us to see how blessed we are in the U.S. and encourage you to do what you can to help the less fortunate. I don't believe God blessed us with $ to keep it all to ourselves. It is easy to focus on ourselves and what we don't have. I do it too. But this life is not supposed to just be about what we can get out of it. In Matthew 25:40 (the sorting of the goats and sheep parable) Jesus says, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me." Let's take our faith and start doing something with it. Feed the hungry. Adopt an orphan or give to a family trying to adopt. Give blankets and shelter to the homeless. Spend time with a widow or child in need. Babysit for a family that desperately needs a break. Fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. The list goes on. We can stand by and complain about these things or we can get up and do something.

Sorry I felt that needed said. I will get off my soap box now.