Monday, May 14, 2012

Last week in Malawi..

Realistically speaking, this will probably be my last blog update here in Africa. I leave Malawi a week from tomorrow. This weekend was probably the best way that I could ask to spend my second to last weekend in Malawi. I was able to travel with my two dear friends and fellow swim coaches and my favorite band of Aussie's up to one of the places we are donating nets for swim for malaria. We borrowed a truck, loaded up as many nets as we could fit (280) and headed up north along the lake shore to our destination of Kande Beach. I think I have mentioned before, Northern Malawi is amazing. The northern lake shore is absolutely spectacular. To be able to spend one last weekend on the lake, with some of the people who I am closest to in life right now, while being able to bring nets to bless others, filled my heart with joy. We were able to fit 280 nets into the truck, but we still have another 120 to bring up to Kande. In total Mphatso (which means gift) Children's Center will get 400 nets. Mphatso has 10 nursery schools throughout villages in and around Kande, as well as feeding programs and an HIV woman's group. As soon as we arrived we were positive that we had made the right choice in giving nets to Mphatso. I don't have enough good words to say about what I experienced this weekend and what their organization does. Today we were able to give out a net to one of the little babies- his name was Gilbert- who is receiving formula from Mphatso. When a mom dies or is unable to produce milk here, normally the baby is in significant danger of dying as well. Formula is very expensive. Common villagers can't afford to pay for their babies to get the food they need to survive when a mother isn't in the picture to produce milk. Gilbert was almost a year old- his birthday is June 10th- but looked like he was maybe 7 months. Apparently he looks great compared to what he looked like when they first brought him. This is an all too familiar story here. I hear it over and over. To the point where I am almost desensitized to it. Poverty, sickness, death, it's all so common here... it's hard to allow it to break your heart. It's something I really struggle with.... Anyway, back from that tangent, as I was looking through Gilbert's medical records, I saw that in his short life of not even a year, he has been treated for malaria four times. Now I know that doctors will give out LA- which is the first line of treatment for malaria- without being 100% sure that the patient has malaria, but he definitely had malaria twice.... bad enough that he was admitted to the hospital- twice- for an I.V. Quinine drip- twice. Again, he isn't even a year old. :-(... anyway, it was really cool to be able to see that 1.) Mphatso is doing such an amazing job helping to care for these kids, and 2.) that the nets that all of you helped us raise are really going to be used to bless people who might very well die from malaria in the next couple of years without it. There are so many unknowns in the time to come. I have no idea what I am going back to. I have a place, I have friends and family, but I have no job, no idea where God will take me in this next phase in my life.... But I have learned that that is OK. Given, I am going to want to get a job so I can do the things I want to do, and see the people I want to see, and bless others with resources that I have been blessed with, but I have decided that I am in no real hurry to do so. If something comes my way in the next little while, I won't turn my nose up at it, but I don't think I am going to actively seek something just yet. Malawi has become a part of me. These past two years has transformed my life in ways I couldn't have even imagined. My dreams are different. My heart is different. My confidence is different. My faith is different. Malawi has wedged it's way into my heart. I think it will take a toll on me leaving. I know it will take a toll on me leaving- how much of a toll is what I am worried about. So right now my plan is to go home and figure out how to live in America after having lived in Africa for almost two years. How do I go back to the rush and pace and consumerism of the American culture. How do I go back to living in a place where there isn't such a dire need of people to help so close by. Don't get me wrong, I know there is a need in America, I know there are people to help, but it's different. People say that once you touch foot on the red earth of Africa you will never leave.... and I would have to agree. A part of me will always be here, whether or not I am here physically, a big part of my heart will be here. I just hope now I can figure out who I am back in the States. I hope that I can figure out how to use what I have seen and learned to help others. I hope that I don't loose sight of what is really important in life while surrounded by the unimportant things. I hope that I can stand firm, and not conform. Last year there was one verse in the Bible that stood out to me above all others. Romans 12:2-Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world- Over the past year this has still been my guiding force, however other verses have proven to help grow me as I stand firm in not conforming. Now that I am leaving and returning home, I look back on this verse and pray that I can stand firm, not forget who I have become and what I have learned, and not conform. So for the next week I plan on spending as much time with the people whom I have grown to love dearly as I can. I plan to eat as much nsima as I can. I plan to experience all the things I love so much about this amazing and wonderful country as I can. And I plan to try as hard as I can NOT to freak out and trust that in all off this, in all the uncertainties and unknowings, God DOES truly have a plan for me... even if He doesn't want to tell me just yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updates from Malawi!

Updates, Updates!! Looking back from the last time I updated, it has been a while!!! I am sorry about that!! I kept delaying writing an update until after I did the next thing on my list... and then time got away from me. Anyway, the good thing about that is that I have a lot to update on! Let's see. Swim season is over, which is a sigh of relief. I love my swimmers dearly, but the running around from the clinic to the pool and all over creation on the weekends for swimming was getting a bit tiresome. Our last couple of weeks were stacked full of an invitational in Zambia and our nationals competition. (On a side note- I actually swam in a relay and got a medal at nationals... there were only three teams, and we got bronze, but still... never thought I would see the day, haha) Our swimmers did really well in both competitions- we were very proud coaches. After we got back from Zambia we had a week until our big Swim for Malaria event. Last year we had a swim for malaria, but we threw it together in a week. We ended up raising 50 nets, which we were very happy with and proud of, but we knew we could do so much more if we put a little time and effort into it. So that's what we did... but a little (or not so little) effort into it. But man, was it worth it. I couldn't sleep the night before the event thinking about all of the little things I was forgetting to do, but once it started, everything just fell into place. The weather wasn't phenomenal- it actually poured on us at one point in time- but the kids came out and swam more than we could have imagined. We even had one adorable little Aussie girl who is...6? Years old (whom I love :-) ) kick a kilometer... we were blown away by what our swimmers could accomplish when they put their mind to it! I remember walking away from that day on top of the world. I knew we had raised so many more nets than I had ever dreamed possible. After everything was collected, we ended up raising about 1542 nets.... ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND FOURTY TWO NETS. I was/am shocked and in awe about that. God is good. There is no way we could have done that without Him. It was a team effort and together we all made amazing things happen. Now that we finally got the number of nets sorted, the fun begins and we can start distributing them. We already have a couple of places in mind. Last year there were organizations that we couldn't donate to because we didn't have enough to fit their need. This year we are seeking out organizations because we have more than enough nets. (Well, not more than enough nets, because we don't have one for every person in the country in need, but you know what I mean. ) I will say it again, God is good. :-) Let's see. After Swim for Malaria I think the next big thing I was a part of was the Easter weekend in Gusu village. One of the nurses at the clinic's husband helped start an organization (which does phenomenal work!) called E3. They work in a village about two, two and a half hours from Lilongwe called Gusu. Over the Easter weekend they organized a massive mobile clinic, as well as a soccer tournament, and a portion where they showed the Jesus Film. (A lot of people still haven't heard the gospel here, and people have found that showing this film is a great way to reach people.) I was so happy to be a part of this wonderful event, but MAN was I tired after it. We saw somewhere between 1200 and 1400 patients in two days... well, actually a day and a half. (I think there were somewhere between 5 and 8000 people attending the soccer tournament.) I feel like I never had time to look up from counting and distributing medicine. I don't think I sat down once the first day we were there. And through all of it, the one thing I learned was that I am a very selfish person. I fall so short of being Christlike and having a servants heart. I would like to think that I have a servants heart, but come 4:00 on Saturday afternoon when I had been setting up and distributing meds since 7:00 pretty much non-stop, the last thing I wanted to do was keep serving. I still have a long, long way to go to be a servant. Easter Sunday was made perfect by partaking in a big service and school dedication. We listened to the six or so choirs that were there sing praises to God while sitting outside under the beautiful African sky. There is nothing like it... After multiple cars in our caravan breaking down at least three times on the way home from Gusu, we finally made it back Sunday night. The next morning I was off with two dear friends to go hike a mountain (Mulunje Mountain) for four days. We took public transport south through Blantyre, arriving at Mulunje late Monday night. We stayed the night at a local CCAP hostel and started our hike bright and early Tuesday morning. If any of you ever have the opportunity to travel to Malawi, DO NOT MISS Mulunje! It is absolutely stunning. The hike was so much fun, and it was wonderful to see a new part of the country. It was a very refreshing spring break. Through all of the craziness with swimming I haven't been able to go out to Chinsapo with the Chisomo Idea as much as I would like. I still go as much as I can, and when I go I tried to lead a bible study, but time didn't seem to be my friend the last couple of months. We did, however, organize a party for the girls which we had last Saturday. We ended up bringing 28 girls from Chinsapo to ABC campus to come hang out, watch a movie, paint our nails, take pictures, and have facials. (The girls do not have the opportunity to have a lot of pictures taken of them, so we set up a make shift “photo booth” type thing, where we let them take silly pictures that we will print out and give to them.) I think it was a really good experience for the girls. Not only did they seem to enjoy themselves, but it was a good opportunity to show them what a college campus looks like. We had a few girls coming away from they day inspired to work harder in school so they could one day go to a college like ABC. It has been wonderful to be doing so much and to be so busy lately, but as much of a blessing as it has been, it has also been somewhat of a curse. I have now passed the “month mark” with going home. I leave Malawi May 22nd. That is in about three and a half weeks. Part of me is really excited to go home and see people.... but beyond seeing the people I miss, I can't fathom what it will be like living in America again. I was thinking about it on Sunday and I realized how hard it will be for me to go back to a country with rules and restrictions. There won't be the sense of freedom in most of what you do. The more I was thinking about it, the more I started to panic. I feel like I will have quite a few similar situations with many different aspects of life as I am adjusting back to life in the States. Everyone asks the question “what's next”. The 100% honest answer is- I have no idea. I have been looking a little for a job, but haven't found anything yet. I know that I will be returning to San Diego and Flood, both of which I am very excited about, but past that I am not sure what life will bring me....I guess will continue to look for a job and what my next step in life will be (Anyone want to give me a job? :-)... just kidding... kinda... ) I guess the world is at my footstep and I should be very excited to have the freedom to make my own path... I just wish I had a little more nudging in which direction to go. Prayers for direction would be much appreciated. That's a synopsis of my life the past couple of months! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Chisomo Idea

So I have written a little bit about some of the work that I have been doing with The Chisomo Idea, but I decided I would share/ update everyone a little more. The Chisomo Idea is an amazing organization and the more people know about them, the better.

Chisomo is the Chechewa (the primary language spoken in Malawi) word for grace. The Chisomo Idea is an organization that was started by a husband and wife team, the husband of which is on staff at Flood San Diego and is actually from Malawi. The Chisomo Idea has different outreaches set in place to spread the Word of God, as well as His Love and Grace to the underprivileged in different parts of Malawi. In Malawi (as well as other third world countries, I am sure) there is a large gap between the upper class citizens and the impoverished. While there is a large gap economically between these groups, they are often juxtaposed next to each other spatially in a stark, in your face, almost seemingly immoral way. I have seen this juxtaposition go as far as seeing a large house with many rooms and a swimming pool in the backyard, backed up- literally maybe 100 feet away- from a village whose community primarily lives in mud huts. The Chisomo Idea is trying to bridge this gap and bring the privileged together with the impoverished.

There are three main facets that The Chisomo Idea uses to do this. First, there are children centers set up in different areas of Malawi. These are places that children can come, play games, hang out, learn the Word of God, and when resources are available have a bite to eat. There is also an aspect of education involved with the children centers. The centers provide different education resources such as health and hygiene education and help with general education. Another area that The Chisomo Idea works with is leadership training. The Chisomo Idea team acknowledges that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and there is no reason why a child should be denied the opportunity to lead/be trained/ be a leader of tomorrow just because of their socioeconomic background. The leadership training targets youth of different ages to help equip them with skills that will aid them in their future endeavors. The final facet of The Chisomo Idea, and the area where I have been working, is the theater of dreams. This uses sports, namely football (soccer) to reach out and build up kids. Soccer is HUGE here. HUGE. Everywhere you look you see kids playing. If there isn't a ball around- which there normally isn't- they are playing with plastic bottles or some other improvised ball-like object, and they are normally playing on a patch of dirt littered with holes and bushes. By providing a place where kids can develop these soccer skills, it creates an environment that kids flock to. This creates an situation where kids can develop not only their soccer skills, but their social skills, their faith, their communication skills, and even their scholastic skills. (The Chisomo Idea has a program set up called the Scholar Athlete program where it helps pay school fees for some of their athletes that qualify.) The programs within the theater of dreams in Lilongwe (in a village called Chinsapo) is the area where I have primarily been working.

I have written before about going out to Chinsapo and playing soccer with the girls soccer team. I have tried to make that a regular event, going out and kicking the ball around- and getting my butt kicked- with the girls of Chinsapo. I have started to develop a friendship with these girls, and they are finally starting to open up to me. I am no longer that white girl playing soccer with them, I am just Danie. (Or at least that is what it seems like, and I hope I am not just taking away what I want to see from the situation). Last weekend we started our first bible study during practice. There were five girls, and two guys who coach the girls, making seven total. I am no where near qualified enough to lead a bible study, but I am excited to learn more about the Word of God with these girls. I am wanting to have a couple of the girls actually lead the bible study, and me just help, so when I leave Malawi in May it doesn't fall apart. Last Saturday was really encouraging. We talked about God's grace, what it meant, and how it applied to our lives. We had a discussion about what it looks like day in and day out. It was amazing. I am trying to do this bible study in English so that the girls become more comfortable speaking in English. We even read in English! It was a special moment when one of the girls was reading through the passage for the day and felt comfortable enough to stop and ask how to say certain words. I felt like for once I was helping these girls in some way- and more so that God was working through me to teach these girls skills applicable to life. Only two of the seven of them owned bibles.... This is something I hope to change.

The last thing that I have done with The Chisomo Idea that I haven't written about is a Christmas party that I helped put together for the kids of Chinsapo back in December. We called the party The Grace Period. One of the main guys that works for the Chisomo Idea here in Malawi (Cosmas) and I planned this party. We envisioned an environment where kids could come and play and listen to music and have a snack or two (or three) and just experience the amazing love and grace of God, as well as learn about the Christmas story. I was a little bit leery that the event would go off without a hitch, but it was an amazing success! We had so much help from our friends both here and in the States (thanks again!) and were able to host somewhere between 120 and 150 kids! We played lots of games ranging from chubby bunny for the older kids to dragon tag for the younger kids. It was so nice to see the smiles on the kids faces throughout the day. I really hope that they were able to see how much God loves them day in and day out through this one event.

I am really excited that I have been able to become more involved with The Chisomo Idea. I am only here for a couple more months, and I have a few more plans up my sleeve for the girls team. I can't wait to see if they pan out. I have been feeling a little stuck inside the walls of ABC campus, and going out on Saturdays to Chinsapo has been my escape. I think the girls think that I am going out there solely for them. I wish I were that selfless, but I'm not. Going out there helps me as much- most likely more- than me being there helps them. My heart is full of joy and love coming back from Chinsapo covered in the red dirt of Africa with soccer ball prints all over my body. These girls/kids have wedged a place in my heart, and I will forever be changed because of them.

If you like what you hear (read) about The Chisomo Idea, check out their website. If you would like to get involved and help out, let me know! I would love to put you in contact with someone so that your skills and resources can be used to help better the lives of the amazing children I have been working with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adventures, Adventures!

Adventure, adventure!

So I just got back to Lilongwe after a week long adventure to northern Malawi to visit friends, see a new part of the country, live a different way of life, and spend some relaxing time at the lake (Lake Malawi). And boy, it was just what I needed to feel a little bit more refreshed and ready to start work again. (Although it also showed me a different way of life- one that I could get used to pretty easily...)

The adventure begun by fighting our way through a mob of people to secure a place on the bus up north. I am not exactly sure why there were so many people- I think part of it is the fuel situation, which is still really bad in Malawi, and part of it probably had to do with the fact that we were traveling the day after new years, so some of it must have been holiday traffic. We were told that it would be crowded and we had to get there early to get a seat (otherwise we would have to stand for the 9 hour bus ride...) but I was NOT prepared for the mob that was waiting for us. Luckily I have experience in situations like that- thank you concerts :-) - and I know how to throw some 'bows and push my weight around to hold my ground.... even though at one point I did end up on the bottom of a pile of people... BUT all was good and we were able to get on the bus- with a seat! and without injury.

Our adventure continued when we traveled from Mzuzu, where we met our friends, back to their house in Lunjika- a small little village two hours off the tarmac road. I know I wrote before about riding on the back of a truck, and how it was a bit of a dream come true for me.... well I now have a new respect for anyone having to ride on the back- or side, like I did on the way there- of a truck. We just happened to be sharing the back of this truck with I would say 60 or so other people... personal space is not an issue in Malawi, or Africa for that matter... It amazes me how many people... and bags of onions... and maze... and live chickens... you can fit in one truck. And the beauty of it all, no one complains. I know that it was a new experience for me, so I wasn't used to the elbows in my face and people sitting on my lap... or back... but looking around I saw that no one else was worried about the amount of people there. No one else was complaining that it was too crowded or they were uncomfortable. It opened up my eyes a little and showed me what so many people go through daily just to live life. It showed me how relative comfort is... it showed me a new and different way of loving people... of being selfless. “Of course you can hop on and sit on my lap... you need to get to where we are going too...” I do realize that I don't speak Tambuka, so I don't really know if people were complaining or not, but from what I was observing, not too many people were... which really opened up my eyes to the comforts of my life and what I complain about.

Our friends- Michele and Ryan- volunteer with the peace corps. They live in a little village called Lunjika, and as I already said, its two hours off the tarmac down a dirt road into a valley nestled between mountains. And trees. There were so many trees! It was absolutely beautiful there. I had been told that it was pretty up there, and I knew that the north had more trees than the central and southern regions of Malawi, but I was not expecting the beauty that I saw there. It was amazing. If I could run around that area every day, I would be a very happy person.

I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous about going and staying out in a village. I was challenged by the idea, and that made me really want to experience it, but I was not sure I would actually be comfortable having to do all of the things that encompass village life. There were so many things that would be new to me. No electricity, no running water, having to cook on a fire, having to go to the bathroom in a long drop, having to drink water from a bore hole... it all made me a little uncomfortable thinking about. I surprised myself, though, and ended up loving it! I love the simpleness of everything. I know that it is different for me coming into it for a couple of days compared to someone who lives a life like that day in and day out, but it I definitely appreciated the change of pace and simpleness of it all. I turned my phone off and didn't let myself be run by a clock. For three days I didn't know what time it really was, I just went with the flow. It was amazing to slow down and really enjoy life for what it was.

Staying in a village also gave me a new appreciation for the time schedule of Africa and the non westernized world. I learned very quickly last year that when people mean 8am, a lot of times they really mean somewhere between 9am and tomorrow... we have a saying/ joke here that is “8am American or mzungu time...” when we want people to show up exactly at the time specified. However, when you have to cook your meals over a fire and it takes forever for the wood to start to burn because it is wet, yea, you are going to be a little late. I realized that it wasn't necessarily that people don't care about your time, and that they are trying to be late just because, it is more that there is a never ending mass of things to do when you live in a village, and sometimes it takes longer than anticipated to get those things done. It amazes me that I have lived here for a year and a half now, but my eyes are still being opened to new things each and every day.

Adventures are fun, but now it is back to life in Lilongwe. I am interested and excited to see what these next few months of living here have to bring. If this year is anything like last year, these months to come will fly by. Weekends start to be packed full with swimming and other things going on. I also hope to get more involved with the Chisomo Idea and other things around Lilongwe. I am not entirely sure when I will be coming home yet, but I am sure it will come before I know it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Pepani, Pepani!! I am sorry that it has been so long since I last updated! I felt (and still feel) like I don't have a whole lot to say.

The past month since I last updated has been a tough one for me. I feel like the beginning of November was a lifetime ago. I have done a couple of 180's emotionally- from wanting to stay here for the rest of my life to wanting to go home tomorrow, to being very apathetic about the whole situation. The emotional roller coaster has left me a little drained and without words to say. So pepani! I will do better next time.

Let's see, what have I done this past month.... Despite some difficulties getting off campus/ out of Lilongwe due to fuel issues, it seems that I have been able to get away quite a bit. In the beginning of November I traveled up to Northern Malawi to visit a site where some friends are thinking about starting an orphanage. Northern Malawi is amazing. There are trees EVERYWHERE! And I LOVE trees!!! The contrast between central and northern Malawi is overwhelming. Trees are virtually non-existent in the central region (where I live) due to deforestation. It saddens me to know that that is what Malawi is supposed to look like. It is a shame it doesn't look like that anymore.

Last weekend we truly took advantage of the fuel shortage and traveled around best way we know how- via hitching/ walking/ bike taxi-ing. Some friends of ours live about 20 miles away and agreed to let us spend the night at their farm to get some much needed time away from Lilongwe. We decided to make an adventure out of it and set out on foot with the hopes of finding a ride as we went on. My dreams came true when a truck stopped to pick us up. (It has been a dream of mine to travel a longer distance (longer than the three miles I have already traveled in the back of a truck) standing up in the back of a pickup truck.) You see people doing it all the time here, and whenever someone would pass me in the back of a pickup I would get jealous. So now I can say I have done that too. :-).

I also embarked on my first bike taxi adventure. Bike taxi's are a common means of transportation here in Malawi, and one which I had never taken advantage of. On the way back from our friends farm we took a bike taxi for the entire 4 mile stretch of dirt road to the tarmack. It was an interesting experience to say the least. The three guys that were taking each one of us seemed to be racing- my guy lost. While it was fun to be able to sit and watch the scenery go by, I am not sure how many more bike taxi rides I will partake in. I felt very lazy sitting there while I made someone else do all that work or carting me around.

I am sure that I will have many more adventures to update you on in the coming weeks. I am planning on taking holiday and traveling to go stay in a village with some friends for a few days. This will be the first time that I will stay in a village for more than a night. It will also be the first time I will stay in a house without running water and electricity. I am excited to experience life as many people living around me experience it. (Or at least more so than I experience it living in the gated walls of ABC). I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas and safe travels to all those who are traveling this season!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011



This Is Africa. The past couple of weeks have been quite “african”. The “africanisms” seem to be following us around everywhere. And I LOVE it. Disclaimer- no part of this is in any way a complaint... I have it so much easier than most of the people that live here. I am so privileged.

You learn to appreciate little things when everything around you doesn't seem to be working. The slogan of the company that provides power to Malawi is “working towards power all day everyday” (or something to that affect). Lately it seems like it should read “working towards power for a quarter of the day...some days...). The constant switching on and off of the lights while in the pharmacy makes it feel kind of like a disco, but it is in no way, shape or form conducive to counting meds. But, like I said, there is no complaining coming out of my mouth (or hands, as I am typing). It just makes me marvel in the fact that there are millions of people in this world that survive day in and day out without power. This weekend I had the privilege to eat at a friends uncle's house. His uncle's wife cooked for all 8 of us by herself.... on a coals. The thought of cooking for eight stresses me out as is, let alone doing it without a stove or oven. People look at the lives of people that live in third world countries as trivial, but I see the opposite. I see how trivial our lives are. If the infrastructure in America (or other western cultures) were to collapse and we were forced to live the way people in third world countries live, would we even be able to survive? No, it is definitely not their lives that are the trivial ones.

The new experience that I had this last week was waiting in a queue for petrol. (A queue is just another meaning for a line- and a word with way too man vowels in it. Petrol obviously is gas). I am not going to lie, I enjoyed every minute of the 12 and a half HOURS that I waited to fill up the car. My fellow queue-rs were not so happy. Waiting in a queue for me was a novelty, something that I can appreciate doing because it is not the life that I have to live. For the next six months I might have to wait for gas, but when I go home, I can enjoy the convenience of gas stations in a functioning country. Waiting for gas here is an experience, and one I will accept readily because it teaches me yet again how blessed I am, but its no more than that- an experience. It is not a way of life for me. It teaches me never again to get frustrated waiting the fifteen minutes that you need to wait even in the longest lines at Costco.

All the things that have been lacking lately in Malawi- electricity, petrol, water, coca-cola (ok the coke shortage is annoying, but nothing more than that and I think most people realize that)- have taught me that the things that I thought I needed to survive were just blessings. Life goes on with or without them. It's up to us to decide to go on with it or to sit and complain about it. There are very few necessities in life- things that you absolutely need to survive- and all the “T.I.A.” moments lately have been showing me that. There is nothing you can do to change some of the things around you that aren't working, all you can do is take it in stride and roll with the punches. There is no use in getting upset over it, but it would be a lost opportunity if you didn't take a step back and use the experiences your a part of to realize the blessings that you have in life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


So this is more of a 'blog' and less of an update. Know that when I was writing this it was just as much for me as for anyone else. Although the questions and commands in this can be applied to anyone, for me to truly believe them they must first be applied to myself. I have been talking a lot about love lately, and last night I had to stop and really think about what I was talking about. What is love? These are some of my thoughts on it. I don't claim to really know what I am talking about or have all the answers. Take this as you want... right or wrong, these are my thoughts on the subject.

Love. What is it? Love is an emotion that so captivates us as human beings. But what does it mean to truly love someone? Not the gushy tripping over your own words because you are head over heels for someone romantically love, but the love for your neighbor, your “brother”, your “sister”, the love for Christ and the love that Christ has for you. What is this kind of love? How do you define it? How do you practice it??

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a verse that kept coming to mind tonight when I was thinking about love. Now I know this verse is (in my opinion) one that is overly quoted in the romantic scenario, I think that it is completely overlooked as applied to any other facet of our life. It reads: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Take a moment and think about this verse. Meditate on it. What would our lives look like if we took this to heart. If this became the golden rule of our life? What would the world look like if everyone walking around practiced this as the foundation that we should build our lives around. (Well the foundation apart from Christ alone.)

Love is patient. How often do we rush people along because we feel we have something better to do. We don't take time to ask people how they are doing because we have to run and grab a coffee before our next meeting. We honk our horn at the old woman driving slowly rather than patiently driving behind her, enjoying the scenery that God gave us. We rush through our lives not looking around, not caring who we are passing by. Not caring who we are missing, what person we are overlooking in order for us to get our next foot in the next door of life.

Love is kind. This one seems sort of self explanatory. But how often are we kind to those that it benefits us to be kind to. I know I am guilty of it. It's easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. It is easy to be kind to those who can help us. But what about the beggar on the side of the road. What about the child sitting at the restaurant next to you who won't stop screaming. Love is kind. To everyone. All of the time. There are no exceptions. Love does not know boundaries. It does not know the walls that culture has put in place. The kindness of love should transcend all divides that society might happen to put in place, that we might happen to put in place.

Envy. Pride. Boastfulness. Have you ever had a day where you have not felt or participated in one of these things? Because I haven't. To truly love someone else you need to humble yourself. Now there is a word for you- humility. That is another lofty word that is worth defining. The dictionary says humility is a noun- it says it is the modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance. I believe humility is so much more than this. I believe humility is impossible without love. Without compassion. Those things that you envy- are you worthy of them? Are any of us worthy of them? Isn't the only person who is and was ever worthy of any of the splendor and glory of this world Christ Himself? What do we have to be proud of? To boast about? We are constantly falling short of what we are meant to be. We can do nothing on our own. In order to love someone don't you have to first realize this? It doesn't matter if you are black or white, rich or poor, you are still unworthy. Nothing you do will ever measure up to something that is worth the grace that we receive. I think it is only in recognizing this in humility that we can start to love people the way God intended us to love them.

Love ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres. Not sometimes. Not when it is convenient. ALWAYS. Stop for a second and think about that. Think about always protecting those around you. Protecting them at any cost. Putting your life before theirs. How different would our world be if instead of worrying about how we were going to make that next thousand dollars, we worried about how to protect those that live on less than a dollar a day. Love always trusts, hopes, preservers... always. No exceptions. How glorious would our world be if we lived this out. There would be no need (if there is one anyway) for war, for guns, for fighting. If we lived this verse out love would always persevere. It would always come out on top, and the world would be an amazing place because of it. Think of how much less suffering there would be. How much less hurt there would be. Think about all the things we could accomplish together if we lived in a community that loved each other, loved our neighbors, with the love that is described in this verse.

Love is a verb, not a noun. It is an action word. Go live out a life full of love. Go live out a life full of THISkind of love. Live out a life where this kind of love is applied not just to our husbands and wives, not just our mothers and brothers and sisters- our blood, but a life where this love is given out to the broken and destitute, the oppressed and the impoverished. The needy. The poor. The lonely. The homeless. Go out and live a life of love- this kind of love- to EVERYONE around you. Do it. I dare you. See how it will change your life.