Monday, April 26, 2010

The Amazon Trail

When I was little, we had a game called The Amazon Trail that was basically a less cool follow-up to Oregon Trail. Instead of hunting, you'd fish and instead of dying from typhoid fever, you'd die from malaria. It was entertaining, before we beat it (it was much easier than Oregon Trail).

Well, come the end of July, I will be blessed with the opportunity to see how real the computerized version of the Amazon is. I'll be heading down to Brazil as a leader on the high school ministry mission trip. We'll be living on a boat and serving the villages along the river in many different facets from medical ministry to VBS to men's/women's ministry. (go here if you are not familiar with this trip and would like to read more) Not only am I excited to have the opportunity to serve the Brazilians, but also to serve the students going. I have three precious girls going and I could not be more excited to spend extended time with them and see them pour their hearts and souls out for others.

Tonight, I'm a little overwhelmed. Not in a bad way, just in an anxious way. I started working on the support aspect of the trip, which is a whole new world for me. I am anxious to see how God provides in ways I could not imagine, and have to remind myself that even though I only have a month to raise support for the trip, He is bigger than that time table. I'm also trying to stretch my mind and think of other non-traditional ways to potentially raise support, i.e. launching an Etsy store even earlier? I don't want to rush into that (especially since I know how much work it takes to create a brand!), but it could be a neat way to raise support. We'll see.

The other thing I am working on is getting a passport! This girl has only been outside the country to Mexico and Canada, and navigating the passport procedures is a bit daunting (is there a reason everything is so convoluted?). I already submitted a rush request to get a new copy of my birth certificate as my original one doesn't have the seal of Texas on it; no idea why that matters but apparently it's less official and no good. I then need to figure out where to take pictures and where you go to get a passport. I'm sure my Google-ing skills will prove helpful.

But I don't want the details to take away from the amazingness of this opportunity either in this posting (i.e. all you read) or in my heart. So, I end with asking for your prayers. Prayers for all of the folks going on the trip; that God will provide the means and take care of all of the details. Prayers for our hearts as we prepare for this adventure and to serve with everything in us. Prayers for the Brazilians we will meet, that we will be a Light, encouragement, comfort, and ultimately love to them as we work to meet needs and invest ourselves in them.

I'm sure you'll hear more about Amazon in the coming months, just to warn ya. :) I thank you in advance for any prayers; they are coveted and most greatly appreciated. Love to you all.

Idea

I've been toying with the idea of starting an Etsy shop. If you aren't familiar with Etsy, I'd encourage you to check it out as there are really interesting things on the site. It is a site in which sellers of handmade or vintage goods can create a storefront and sell their products in a safe and easy way (i.e. more protected than other online sites).

Anyway, in theory it sounds like a great idea considering I love to create things. Practically, I have a lot to sort through before starting a potential venture. From creating a brand and store name to deciding which types of goods would be interesting/desirable to marketing products to stepping up my game as anything sold would have to be near perfect if I'm charging someone. Fairly recently I picked up this little book that goes through all aspects of this world:

It's been helpful so far, bringing up points I hadn't thought of. I need to keep thinking before jumping into anything. I also would need to ensure whatever I sold would not take up ridiculous amounts of time considering I have a full-time job! :) So, we shall see. Maybe I'll jump-in and maybe I'll decide it's too much work and pressure. I'll keep you posted!

PS I have several store names I'm currently thinking through, but haven't gotten to a place where I feel good about them. One includes the French word for butterfly, papillon, as I do already have a logo of sorts...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Article

I almost can't believe this is in Esquire, but I'm thankful it is. I encourage you to read and be challenged by the truth of Jesus' life and our part expressed throughout.

Joyful reading.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Good Side vs. Bad Side

I have a hearing loss in my left ear. It’s really something I forget about at times as it’s been there my entire life so I don’t know any differently. I can’t remember what my mom said what the loss is, I think moderately severe? Basically if you talk in my left ear, I can’t hear you. Sometimes I try to perform “tests” to see what I can and can’t hear, but typically I can’t figure anything out since my right ear overcompensates. The audiologists/doctors when I was a kid were never able to pinpoint when the loss occurred, though I like to blame it on my traumatic birth (okay, it really wasn’t traumatic, but I did have a broken collar bone and have to be removed via forceps).

Over the past year or so, I’ve realized that I think this hearing loss has impacted me more than I thought. I blame the realization on CR and searching for information about unilateral hearing losses online (and for those who know I have issues with searching medical things online, I wasn’t looking at medical sites…more to better understand the psychological effects that have been found. It was enlightening).

Some of you may have had no idea this was a factor in my life as I don’t talk about it much. Why, would you ask? I hated it growing up. My mom always fought for me, which I greatly appreciate, but that led to me being put at the front of the classroom whereas I wanted to sit in the back (funny though, 10th grade was the first time I rebelled and sat in the back during Chemistry; I found out I couldn’t see! I think that also may be why I stink at Chem…). And I’ve had a reputation at times for being snobby purely because I couldn’t hear someone. I’ve been made fun of, some by kids, but a lot by adults. Let me just tell you, after learning someone has a hearing loss and responding with “what?” or “can you hear me now?” is NOT funny. It actually hurts a lot. And hence a big reason I have kept quiet. I also had a mean swim coach yell at me once for not hearing him…he got an earful from my dad after practice when he picked up his tearfully embarrassed 8th grade girl.

So, that’s a little of why I don’t share much. If you do know, I’m probably more comfortable with you. And you also may know I want everyone on my right side. Pretty much the only person I’m comfortable with having on my left in any remotely loud place is my mom because she’ll touch my arm when she is trying to get my attention. I’m not even sure if she realizes she does it, but it helps with the often embarrassment of someone thinking I’m ignoring them.

Okay, so, why am I bringing this up today? Well, last night was an experience that I’ve unfortunately had too many times in my life and one in which I pretty much broke down (there were outside circumstances, too, but the more I’ve reflected on it, the more I’ve realized my hearing issues contributed greatly). We had a bowling thing and, while I was in a funk when I arrived, I immediately felt myself shutting down because I felt as though I was in a room full of cotton.

I found this site one time that really helps put into perspective the life of a unilateral hearing loss sufferer. See, it takes extra energy for me in those situations as I have to try and push out the background noise AND listen to others. Yes, everyone has to do that, but imagine doing so with only one ear? This is partially why I tend to avoid these situations unless people are sitting right next to me. Add to that my already funk-like-state and enter perfect storm of uncomfortableness for Sarah. One blessing I had last night was the opportunity to talk about it further with my roommate, Katie, after I got home. She has a hearing loss, too! Ours are different, but to some degree a hearing loss is a hearing loss. Anyway, I was just thankful to have someone who understood and could validate the tendency to shut-down. And then when I saw it in this article, I was doubly encouraged! Oh and in case you're wondering, the type of loss I have could not be helped with hearing aids. It'd just make what I can hear louder and that's annoying (and unhelpful).

So, a few things for the next time you meet or run into a person with a unilateral hearing loss: don’t make jokes, be patient if we ask you to repeat a lot, appropriate physical touch helps, and don’t be weirded out if they move you to their other side, it’s just to hear you better. Feel enlightened? Probably not, but regardless, it’s a huge step for me to make a blog about this, just sayin.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Strength Will Rise

Today I am writing from a place in which my heart is ugly, fully of bitterness, anger, jealousy, comparison, and exhaustion. Today’s entry isn’t so much to share the comings/goings of life with others, but instead for me to put my thoughts down for myself and inadvertently share with a select few folks who probably know who you are (if not, no worries). I’m not afraid to discuss the ugly aspects of myself as I’ve found addressing them head-on often helps me work through them.

I have been waiting on the Lord for something for the past while and, though I can sometimes wait patiently, expectantly, and joyfully, I sometimes shift into the emotions I noted above. This week is definitely one of those weeks. As I wait for the Lord, I know I should be active as well, but I legitimately have absolutely, no earthly idea how to do that. I try different things and hit a brick wall or I ask people for help and either they don’t know how or something else (side note: I’m not blaming others in this, believe me. Asking for help is a skill that is extremely difficult for me, so that’s really the point with this one). All of this combined has led to comparison with and jealousy of others and a sense of entitlement that it’s my turn. This is exponentially worse given other aspects of my life in which I feel like I’m stinking at these days (isn’t it a slippery slope?).

See, I told you it was ugly. And while I hoped maybe God would knock me upside the head with the perfect answer after writing those two paragraphs, I know the process of even saying out loud what I’m thinking, however ugly it is, steals the devil’s ability to use it. It brings it into the Light and gives God control as I don’t like it and want to replace it with his truth and joy.

A few weeks ago (or maybe last week? I really have no idea), I stuck the verse Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 on my computer. I’ve been pondering what it means to pray continually since then, desiring that characteristic and behavior to define my life, the whole verse really. Today, I am striving to defeat the ugliness with truth. To turn my anger into joy and my bitterness into thanks. This will most certainly not be easy and I don’t think it means I cannot still be confused and longing direction with the thing I’m waiting for, but I believe my attitude in that needs to shift. As I could very likely be waiting for years and years as many folks in the bible did.

On top of all of that, or maybe contributing to it really, I’ve had a horrendous week. I won’t go into details as they don’t really matter, but I was encouraged last night. I only had three girls at small group, but that did not diminish the depth of the discussion. We’re reading Lee Strobel’s Case for Faith this semester and even in the first half of the first chapter, my girls challenged each other and me. Interestingly, we were discussing hurt and suffering in the world which led to wonderful discussions about the Acts church and what our responsibilities are, particularly given our wealth living in America. From there, they were sharing about things going on in their lives. One of my girls is in the throes of learning what it means to love someone so much that you are willing to jeopardize your relationship with them in order to help them experience healing. I have experience there, once incident being very recent, and while I’m saddened that she’s going through this, am thankful to be able to walk with her. Another broke down in tears about some things going on at school. My heart hurt and, while I wanted to reach out and hug her, I know from my CR days that crying can be cathartic and allows the emotions to be experienced as opposed to keeping them hidden from God’s touch. I don’t know that I am loving and discipling them well, but I am thankful for the opportunity and prayerful that God will intervene and love through me.

I promise that wasn’t a weird tangent. Small group helped to put things into perspective, but also made me anxious in a good way. However, that eventually faded into the emotions I described earlier and where I’m coming from today (a little vague as to why, but I promise it makes sense to me).

So now I’m going to pray the truths expressed in the Thessalonians verse above and be confident that God will help me rid my heart of the negativity and trust him. I desperately want this waiting period to be one of joy, peace, thanks, and loving others; I just can’t do that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pff Who needs power?

This is the view from my chair looking out of my cube into the pod. It may not seem strange to you as maybe you work in an office without lights on, but this is very abnormal, especially for my pod (long story, but we're on the agency tour so our lights are always on). Today, we are working in a powerless building. And lemme tell you, the greenhouseness of our all-windows building and the fact that you can't see in the bathroom (which is windowless) is beginning to make for a not so pleasant day. Good thing I have a new computer or I would have long been cut off from the productive world, though my juice is quickly running out. So, I probably should stop this post. :)
And one side note since it's now bothering me in the picture above. If you notice the crooked pictures on my wall, know it's not because I see things crooked. It's because our cleaning people are crazy and always knocking stuff everywhere. I just hadn't restraightened everything yet.
Interesting day in the land of TRG.