Sunday, May 31, 2009


The Lord woke me up early this morning for this:

Which was immediately followed by this:

And then this:

Which I watched from here:

Accompanied by these things:

Thanks, Lord. What an awesome gift to start my Sunday!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful to serve a faithful God. He knows me completely, loves me unconditionally, and hears my prayers. He is Good, indeed.

I am also thankful that I am getting a new roommate soon!

And that it is watermelon season. Have I mentioned that I really like watermelon?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On the lighter side...

I love ice cream. And watermelon. But not together. These might be my two favorite things to eat. In a recent effort to make healthier choices, I have been trying to eat fruit as a "treat" instead of sweets. I'm not sure that strategy works so well when I eat an entire half a watermelon in one day, but I digress... (Not that there is much of a point here anyway)

Mint chocolate chip is my favorite kind of ice cream. The white kind. Not the green kind. I am a bit picky about my ice cream. I especially love Breyer's mint chocolate chip. So good. My other favorite kind is from an ice cream shop in Atlanta called Jake's. Peppa-Choco-Mint. So yummy. It's pink, not white. I eat my ice cream in a cup. Not a cone. Sometimes in a waffle cup. Sometimes. At home, my favorite way to eat ice cream is out of a mug with a little bit of milk poured over it. I'm not sure why I do that exactly, but I like it.

What about you? What is your favorite flavor? If you're not an ice cream lover (though I find this idea difficult to fathom), what is your favorite treat?

And while you're letting me know, go ahead and tell me who you are. I would love to know who's reading!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I believe that we were created to live in community with others. God Himself is a model of community in the Trinity. Jesus had community with the disciples. The early church gives us a clear picture of community and what it can look like:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 4:42-47

I love this picture of community in the early church. I love that they met one another's needs. I love that the way that they lived with one another was attractive, and that it gave them favor with the people. I love that they way they loved one another drew others into the Kingdom. I think that we are called to do the same.

So, why do we struggle so much with idea of community? Why is it that pursuing community in our society is so difficult?

I will tell you that it is difficult. At least in my experience. You have to really want it and be willing to work for it. It's not easy.

My first taste of true community was serving with Word Made Flesh in Lima in 2004. There I was welcomed in to a group of believers who not only loved the Lord and desired to serve Him with their lives, but also loved one another and desired to serve one another with their lives. They desired to get to know me intimately, which is something that I wasn't really ready for. I fought against the vulnerability that is a very important part of community. I was afraid of the idea of truly being known. But, little by little, the Lord began to chip away at my heart and teach me the importance of vulnerability in community. He began to show me what it felt like to be known, and to be loved and accepted for all of me. It was a good feeling. I began to see how God was being glorified through this little community of Americans and Peruvians serving together in the midst of a huge city.

When I returned to the States, I wanted more of that sense of community that I had tasted of in Lima. I still do. But, it's hard to find. In our society, everyone is so busy. We spend a lot of time alone - in our cars, in our cubicles, in front of our computers. Our society is not very community-oriented at all. It has even become rare that a family sits down to eat dinner together around a table and spends time getting to know one another. My family didn't, and I have an amazing family. It is so easy in our society to have relationships that are built only on surface level knowledge, without ever seeking to truly and intimately know one another. I don't think that is what Jesus intends for His people. I don't think that's what He intends for His church. After all, He tells us to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2). How can we do that if we don't even know one another? He tells us that we are one body, "members one of another" (Romans 12:5). We are supposed to "love one another with brotherly affection" (Rom 12:10).

Henri Nouwen says that "nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say...we want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care."

I admit that I still struggle with this. For the past year and a half or so, I have been seeking to live in community with a great group of friends. And still, sometimes I fight against community. I fight against vulnerability. Lately, I have been saying "No" to their desires to know me more and to walk with me through my struggles. I have said "No" to vulnerability and being known more deeply, afraid of being exposed. We have struggled as a group to find unity and purpose. It is not an easy process.

But, I think it's worth fighting for.

Top Ten Tuesday

Edit: So, it seems that there are two #3's. Oops. I guess that makes this a Top Eleven List, but oh, well... Not changing it now!

Top Ten Eleven Reasons I Miss Lima (in no particular order):

1. The friends

The Word Made Flesh community in Lima is the best! Even though I don't get to see them often, they love me and welcome me with open arms when I do come to visit. They love the Lord, love each other, and serve their friends on the street so well. My time in Lima on my servant team in 2004 taught me so much about what Christian community can look like and what a blessing true community is. I love these friends!

Sarah, Brian, Rachel, Monica, and Isa


Linsey and David

I can't find pictures on my computer right now of all of the Peruvian staff (Ana, Sebastian, Jose Luis, Erick, and Lily), but I love them, too!

2. Yummy fruit from the fruit lady on the corner
I love it that I have a "fruit lady" in Lima. Her name is Irma and she sells fruit off of a cart across from the Metro (a supermarket). Even though I am only there about once a year, she remembers me and always seems happy to see me. She tells me about her sons and her family. I love that. And, the fruit is so yummy, too!

3. The trees with the orange flowers.
I have no idea what this particular tree is called, and I can't seem to find a picture of one, but I think that it is beautiful. There are many beautiful things in Peru. I love to enjoy the beauty of God's Creation there. It reminds me of truly how Big and Creative God is. (The pictures below are not from Lima, but I love these places in Peru, too!)

Lake Llanganuco

Machu Picchu

A flower in Arequipa

3. Speaking Spanish
Even though I get to speak some Spanish on a fairly regular basis at the hospital, I miss being surrounded by it and getting to learn more!

4. Banana milk
It's just milk and bananas and a little bit of vanilla mixed together, but it's so good! I always go to the same little cafe on the corner of a park in an area of Lima called Pueblo Libre to get banana milk and read.

5. The park at the end of Salaverry

There is a park in Lima that overlooks the ocean, and I love to spend time there. It is a great place to go to be alone with the Lord. There are so many ways to tangibly experience God's character - the vastness of the ocean, the beauty of the flowers, the feeling of the wind in your face... I love it! (It is nearly incomprehensible to me that I can't find a picture of the park on my computer, but alas...)

6. Holding beautiful babies

I love holding babies all the time, regardless of where I am (except when they are crying inconsolably...), but there is something special about holding a baby on a dirty street in the middle of a poverty-stricken city at night, all the while interceding for a different life for the precious child in your arms. It's a privilege indeed.

Me and the daughter of a friend in 2004

7. Playing cards
All of my card-playing skills (which is not necessarily saying much...) come from fun nights of card playing at Craig and David's place during my Servant team and subsequent visits. They taught me how to play a game called Pluck that my family and I now often play when we are together. I sometimes get in the mood for a good card game night, and wish that my Lima friends were around to share that with!

8. You can walk almost anywhere
I love that things are often within walking distance in the city. There are corner stores everywhere that you can go to pick up snacks and groceries and various other things that you may need (like a Sublime chocolate bar for example). The WMF community in Lima pretty much all live within one district, which makes it easy to walk between homes. I love to walk down to the park overlooking the ocean when I am there, even though it is a little farther away.

9. Seeing the faces of old friends
I miss seeing the faces of the friends that I have made on the streets of Lima over the past few years. I wonder how they are doing. I wonder if they are still in their homes, or if the lure of street life has again won them over. I wonder if they have food to eat. I wonder what their children look like now - they must be getting all grown up! I wonder if they understand how precious they are in the sight of their Creator, or if they only hear the voice of the world telling them they are worthless. I wonder what they are thinking about tonight...

10. Seeing firsthand the ways that the Lord is redeeming the lives of precious youth and calling them to Himself

God is definitely at work on the streets of Lima. On my most recent visit, I got the chance to spend some time with a young lady that I met on my first trip to Lima in 2004. I was so encouraged to visit her in her home with her family, away from her life on the street. The life that she was living was not easy by any means, but she was choosing to trust the Lord. She had started going to church and was so excited to share with the WMF staff members that were visiting her what she had been learning from the Bible and from church. She had been sharing those truths and encouraging other people around her, even in the waiting room of the clinic where she went every day to get medicines to treat her tuberculosis. God is indeed redeeming the lives of youth on the streets in Lima. I miss getting to see that up close.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

support some great causes!

I thought I would share a couple of ways that I have found that you can support some great causes! First of all, if you go to this site and just register to get updates from Catalyst, they will donate $1 to Word Made Flesh. It's that simple! Most of you know that WMF is the organization that I have served with in Peru. They work in many countries around the world serving among the poorest of the poor. They are a great community, and this is such an easy way to support their ministry!

Wild Olive Tees

I found this fun site through a blog that I often frequent, and I thought that I would share it with all of you. They sell T-shirts with really cute designs. Each of the designs is inspired by Scripture, and has a verse on the back. Portions of the proceeds go to support a couple of different charities. So, go check it out!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

First of all, I have definitely not ignored my waiting To-Do list both last night and this morning in favor of blogging. Of course, I would never do that. I have never been one to procrastinate...

I most certainly did not eat a chocolate chip granola bar and canned pineapple for breakfast this morning because that was the only thing that I could find in my very bare pantry. I surely did not pick up a few things at the grocery store the other night only to leave them in the refrigerator at a friend's house, only to perpetuate the lack of food at my own house. And, if I had done such a thing, I would definitely have gone by and picked them up by now...don't you think??

Being the conscientious nurse that I am, I would never be taking more than the directed amount of ibuprofen nearly around the clock for a couple of days now waiting for my abdominal cramps to GO AWAY! I certainly wouldn't do anything like that...

I surely did not arrive late to the wedding of a friend this weekend due in part to stopping to partake of the Olive Garden breadsticks that were calling my name. That would be silly. After all, I am a bit paranoid about arriving on time to weddings. That being said, when we realized that we certainly were not running late, I definitely did not look at the estimated arrival time indicator on the GPS every 30 seconds, praying that it would drop.

After my whirlwind weekend, I did not decide to just drive back to Georgia in the sweatpants and T-shirt that I slept in the night before. I am never too lazy to shower and put on real clothes.

Also, I did not wash my hair this morning with "shampoo water" rather than actual shampoo (that is water that I rinsed the shampoo bottle with, since there wasn't actually any shampoo left...) I would certainly resort to grocery shopping before I resorted to that...

What about you? Anything on your mind that you are willing to confess??

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beaches, Babies, and Bodas*

This past week was a busy one! I spent the beginning of the week in Florida visiting with the fam. As I mentioned here, my sister Pam and bro-in-law Jeremy are getting ready to move to Fargo, ND, so we wanted to spend some good family time together before they left. I wanted to get a new family photo while we were all together, but my efforts were thwarted. There are, however, several pics from my time at home posted here.

While I was in Florida, I was REALLY hoping that my best friend Caroline would have her baby girl that was due on May 10th. Sadly for me, little Miss Anna Ryan was content to stay inside of her mommy until Friday, May 15th, so I just missed her! Lucky for me, her mommy is a fabulous photographer, so I know that there will be lots of pics to come! That is, if she can find time to take them between taking care of a newborn and chasing around her oh-so-cute-but-SO-active 2 1/2-year-old little guy Chris. Here are a couple of pics of her kiddos that I stole from her blog. Aren't they adorable?? Congratulations, Care and Mark!

(copyright of Caroline Nicole Photography)

I got back home on Thursday afternoon. On Friday evening, I got back into the car to head up to SC for a college friend's wedding. Fortunately, I just had to drive up to Greenville. From there, my college roommate Emily drove us over to Charleston and back on Saturday for the wedding. It was a long day, but fun to get to be there to see Amanda get married. Well, sort of... As it turns out, we made a little bit of a mistake in our estimation of how long we had to stop for lunch... Combine that with a couple of traffic jams and a little difficulty figuring out where to go once we arrived at the location and we arrived just in time to watch the procession out of the ceremony. While I was a bit disappointed to have missed the main event, it was easy to jump in for the beachside mingling following the ceremony before heading over to the reception. Here are a couple of pictures from the day:

Amanda near the beachside ceremony site

A mini-Chiles 100 reunion - Audrey, Em, and I

Amanda and Angelo's first dance

Amanda and I

Kristy (friend from Furman) and I

I got back home again early this afternoon in time to rest for a couple of hours before heading to church tonight. Even though I have had a week off already, I am glad to be off again tomorrow to recover before heading back to work on Tuesday!

(*Boda = wedding for all my non-Spanish lovers)

Thanks, God!

This weekend I went to Charleston for the wedding of one of my college friends, Amanda. I drove up through Greenville and rode over to Charleston with my college roommate, Emily. On the way to the wedding, we stopped for lunch at the Olive Garden in Columbia (a bad judgment call, but more on that later...) We were in a hurry to get back on the road after we ate, and in my hurry I left my Visa Checkcard at the restaurant. The thing was, I had no idea that I had left it. On the way back to Greenville from Charleston, we mulled around the idea of stopping at a Starbucks. It was raining and we were already going to be late getting back, so Em said that she would probably rather not have to try to locate a Starbucks. I was fine with that idea, but I did mention that there was one right next to the Olive Garden where we had eaten lunch. As we approached Columbia, we decided that we would indeed stop at that Starbucks. I ordered my soy chai latte (of course!) and went to get my checkcard out to pay for it, but I couldn't find it. I looked all through my purse a couple of times, but no card. I knew that I had last used it at the Olive Garden, which was conveniently located right next door to where I was standing. So, we got our drinks and walked over there. Sure enough, there was my card! We smiled and thanked God that He had led us back to the exact spot that I had left my card, even though I hadn't even realized it was missing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for the fun weekend that I was able to spend with my family this past weekend (see pics below). Pam and Jeremy (my sister and bro-in-law) are about to move to North Dakota to join another couple in church planting ministry there. So, while I am sad that they will be so far away (much harder to make a spontaneous weekend trip to Fargo...), I am excited for the new journey that the Lord is leading them on. It was great to be able to spend a few days all together as a family before they leave. The highlights for me were enjoying Pamela's lovely vocals at all hours of the day (but particularly harmonious from the shower), the beach and lake kayaking at Hanna Park on Monday, yummy Mother's Day lunch at Mimi's Cafe, and many games of Wii bowling and tennis. Speaking of the Wii, I'd like to make a public apology for making fun of my mom when she told me that she pulled a hamstring while bowling on the Wii. I must admit that I am a bit sore myself today...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Love You, Momma!

Dear Mom,

I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am to have you as my mom. I couldn't have asked for a better one! You have taught me so many things and are such a major part of who I am today. Thank you for:

*kissing my boo-boos and taking care of me when I was (frequently) sick. I remember you being up with me in the middle of the night, sitting in the bathroom with the hot shower running, trying to prevent me from actually coughing up a lung during my many bronchitis episodes. (And while we're on the subject, thanks for the genes that produced that cough to begin with. Anyone who's heard us cough can never doubt that I am your daughter. But, hey, it always helps me find you in a store...just follow the hack...) To this day, you can still help me feel better, even over the phone.

*"helping" me with all of my school projects. I recall some sort of farm (or something like that...) complete with rows of corn and grass made out of those little toothpicks with the plastic on the ends. Great idea. I also remember staying up all night working on my magazine in 8th grade. You had quite the knack for the comic/ad section...

*teaching me how to drive. Thanks for being patient with my left turn - I caught on eventually. Thanks for calling me your best driver (even though that title has now been revoked...)

*teaching me about Jesus. Thanks for always making sure that we were at church growing up. That foundation has been the rock from which my faith has grown. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

*making me hummingbird cakes for my birthday. SOOOO yummy!

*giving me an example of what it means to be a Godly wife. I hope that I get to try to follow your example some day.

*always being willing to pluck my eyebrows, even to this day! And even when you are tired and you would rather not.

*always being willing and available to be a listening ear. I know that you will always be there for me (even if I can't get an opinion out of you...)

*being so supportive of me and the path that I am walking with my life - even though it means that we aren't in the same state.

*fixing all the broken things in my house! Sorry I have not quite picked up your handy genes. I will keep working on it!

*working so hard all of these years to help provide for all of my needs and so many of my wants. Thanks for helping to make it possible for me to go to an amazing college and be debt-free on the other side. (Thanks to you, too, Dad! Watch the blog on Father's Day)

There are so many more things about you that I am thankful for, but those are a few. You are an amazing mom, and I am thankful that God blessed me with you. I hope that I have children that will think that same about me one day. Happy Mother's Day!! I love you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Even though it is after midnight and technically not Thursday anymore, it is still Thursday to me and therefore not too late for a Thankful Thursday post. I read a good quote tonight by Jon Courson:

"The way to escape from the worm of negativity is to give thanks to God continually."

I have been feeling a little negative in my life lately, and this word encouraged me to remember that God has not changed, and my joy and ability to praise Him should not depend on my circumstances. I have so many reasons to praise the Lord, and doing so reminds me of His faithfulness and encourages my heart to trust Him more. So, tonight I am thanking Him for:

-the chance to enjoy His beautiful creation this weekend at camp. I love being in the midst of beautiful things, especially surrounded by mountains and trees. It was also just great to be able to get away from the city and have fun!

-my nap today! It was SO nice to catch up on a little bit of sleep!

-my friends who are faithful to enter into life with me and try to hold me accountable. I do not always make that easy, and I am thankful that they love me enough to keep pursuing me.

-the testimony of people around me of the ways that the Lord is so tangibly speaking into their lives. It encourages me to pursue Him all the more.

-a fun evening of picnic-ing and Frisbee with fun friends.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 118:1