Mapping it Out

Traveling is ingrained in our family. From what I understand, right out of high school, my dad couldn’t sit still for more than a few years before it was time for him to uproot and try a new place (which makes it nearly impossible to figure out his life’s timeline). And so it has been with my family. The longest I’ve lived in one place without getting up to live somewhere else is 4 years. I’ve stayed in at least 16 different countries–not counting airport pit stops. And in my 26 years, I’ve seen places that others can only dream about, experienced indescribable things, and met people that I will never forget.

Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea

My birthplace and Childhood home. We may have only stayed there 4 years at a time, but after each 1 year furlough in America, we went back to the same house in the center of Ukarumpa. So all together, I’ve lived there about twelve years. There’s no end to the most memorable memories of this place or what I miss about it. And describing my time there would fill a book. It’s my home. What do you say about home?

Mountains like this make anything else look boring.

Mountains like this make anyone else’s home look boring.

 

Europe

More accurately:

England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, England (again). We visited each place very briefly. My family and I hit Europe in July 1998 and were gone in a month. I got to celebrate my 12th birthday in a train station in on the border of France and Spain.

My most memorable memory of Europe was probably the topless beach in Barcelona, Spain. Enjoy these beautiful castles on the Rine River in Germany.

My most memorable memory of Europe was probably the topless beach in Barcelona, Spain. Enjoy this picture of beautiful castles on the Rhine River in Germany.

 

Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA

My next “home.” It took about 8 years before it started to feel like home. I can call it home now without cringing. My time in Waxhaw was marked with a lot of rough spots due to adolescence, cultural adjustments, and loss of my previous home. But I have since forged the kind of friendships that make this place special. Any place can be lovely when you’ve got friends. And after this adjustment experience, I’m quite certain that I could survive in the Sahara Desert if I have some good friends with me.

Where we picked up the weird family tradition of visiting very old grave yards. Aslan was here.

On a completely unrelated note, my family picked up a weird tradition of visiting very old grave yards. Call it strange, but it really is one of my favorite things.

 

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

After 1 uncomfortable year in Waxhaw, NC, we moved to San Pedro Sula for a year. My dad was flying for Samaritan’s Purse which was there to help with the hurricane relief efforts across the country. We were blessed by Samaritan’s Purse, who found us a nice house to live in. But right around the corner from where we were was a shanty town, where families used the river next to their houses as a bathtub, toilet, and kitchen sink. Their houses were made out of whatever they could find, but they kept them clean by sweeping their dirt floors down to hard packed soil.

Some of the kids from the shanty town would come by our house looking for work. My brother and I couldn’t speak Spanish enough to talk to them, but my mom made friends with them all and gave them food and sanitary items like soap. Eventually, we visited their shanty town with Samaritan’s Purse to offer medical services and Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. When one of the mother’s saw that we had a camera, she ran home to dress up her little girl for a picture.

Most memorable child to me.

Most memorable child ever.

 

Israel

We only visited Israel for a short month. But in that month, we traveled across the whole (tiny) country and were privileged to feel, walk, and see the history of the world. There was way too much to see in one month. And so much to learn!

There was no single place in Israel that I can say, “I loved this the most” or “I will remember that more than anything.” Everything in Israel was ancient, holy, beautiful, packed with symbolic meaning, and awe-inspiring.

Ancient Roman theaters inspire me to perform a musical.

Ancient Roman theaters inspire me to perform musicals with my sister.

 

Brazil

Brazil is very new to me. I’m still forming memories and trying to digest what just happened to me in the last six months. So much of it was meaningful and memorable–seeing my mother’s childhood home, witnessing God’s power at Iguassu Falls, gaping at the endless favelas crowding into every crevice of the hills around Rio de Janeiro. But what impacted me the most–that constantly surfaces in my mind–and what held true across the whole, giant country, is the kindness and friendliness of the Brazilian people. Everywhere I went, it was their genuine friendliness and good nature that made my trip awesome. Friends make any place lovely.

I met her in a glasses shop and within 25 minutes, she was my friend.

I met her in a glasses shop. I couldn’t speak Portuguese and she couldn’t speak English, but within 15 minutes, we were friends.

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My One Word for 2013: Pray

Those of you who know me probably know that I do this challenge every year. It started with Port City Community Church (PC3) in Wilmington, North Carolina. Several years back, around this time, the pastor challenged his congregation to put aside “resolutions” and instead choose one word to focus each of their efforts on through the year. Simplifying, focusing, and filtering everything through My One Word has helped me grow spiritually and has given me a new lens of reflection at the year’s end.

My One Word for the year 2012 was “Fight.” I chose it because 2011 had been one very big spiritual battle that had worn me out. I was anticipating another year of spiritual battles in 2012 and wanted to remind myself how to stay protected from attack.

As soon as this December began, I started mulling over what My One Word should be for 2013. Though fighting spiritual battles is still going to be a part of my life, I feel much more confident in dealing with them. When asking God what I need to work on, one thing kept coming up. Ironically, it was my very first word from 6 years ago, but it is something that I still struggle with–prayer.

It’s the most basic exercise of any Christian. I shouldn’t have a problem with it, right? But I do. What do you say to God–the all knowing, all powerful being of the universe who made you, gave you life, will take your life, and has a job for you to do? What do you say to the being who sits on a throne surrounded by thrones (Rev. 4:4); who has strange creatures calling out praises to Him (Rev. 4:8); Who has eyes like fire and a tongue like a sword (Rev. 1:14,16); who brings everyone to their knees as soon as they see him. What do you say to Him? “God, thank you for these petty little things and can I have some other petty little things?” Because when you’re standing in front of the God of the universe, everything seems petty.

While speaking on coming before God in humility, Francis Chan writes in his book, Crazy Love, “Remember the visions of John, in Revelation, and Isaiah; remember the many accounts of people coming into God’s presence and how it always caused the people to fall on their faces in terror. And then start to pray.” It’s a powerful image to have in mind. My stumbling block with this is that there’s nothing I can say to that. My idea of prayer is so narrow that it’s either petty or nothing. I don’t know how to have a conversation with the God of the universe.

But He wants us to! He commands us to! God gives us permission to come to him boldly and talk (Hebrews 4:16). He calls us His friends (John 15:15).

It’s a strange kind of oxymoron to figure out–He’s the God that calls us friends and causes us all to fall trembling to the ground. I can’t wrap my head around that sort of relationship. But I want 2013 to be the year that I discover that and learn how to talk to the God that made me.

My One Word for 2013 is Pray. I want to obey God’s command to pray continually–without ceasing  (this will take some effort). And I want to learn to pray in a way that is appropriate and pleasing to Him.

I invite you all to join me in this. If you have a word for 2013, I’d love to hear about it. I’d also like to ask that you hold me accountable for My One Word throughout the year. Don’t let me grow apathetic, or forgetful about something so important. Remind me; ask me; urge me; teach me.

My token to remind me to pray.

My token to remind me to pray.

If you would like to learn more about the My One Word challenge, you can visit the website:  http://myoneword.org/

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