Thursday, February 23, 2012

So maybe I've made a new blog. Wordpress is a bit easier to work with. Some BIG updates {at least big to me!} that I need to post but haven't...

But for now, I'll just let you know that I have a new blog.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

working hard.

Most of my blogs are written when:
1) I've intentionally set aside time to get work done but can't seem to focus long enough to do it and this seems more fun
2) I find myself laughing about something but there's nobody right around me to share it with
3) I can't fall asleep (which annoys the fire out of me)
4) I just can't stop thinking about something or wrestling with some idea
5) I want to keep a memory forever

Today, 1 2, and 5 apply.

(1) I have HOURS of work that needs to be done so I came to Starbucks to do some of it. I've looked at Facebook for an embarrassing length of time. (My friends lives are very interesting.) I've gotten distracted by the cute couple in a long distance relationship that just reunited. Even though they've given each other way too many public kisses in the last 30 minutes, I'm ok with it because they are so sweet together. I've listened to the 2 high school girls bear their souls to each other about breaking up with this certain (seemingly awful) boy at different times. Ya know, just about everything except what I should be doing.

(2) Here's what I started laughing about and didn't think the freshly reunited couple would want to hear: my awkward moment today in the teacher's lounge. I, quite focused, walked in to pick up some paper and saw a table of 4 teachers deeply engrossed in conversation, one whose back was toward me. One 4th grade teacher was sitting with the 3rd grade team of 3 teachers...or so it seemed. I did a slight double take because Ms. Hasse's hair looked different. I feel completely comfortable with Ms. Hasse and I hadn't seen her since the break. Excitedly I said, "Stacy, is that you? Your hair!! (touching her hair briefly) You went a little darker and shorter!! Super cute!" I heard a forced "Yeah..." But she never turned around and didn't really acknowledge me. I assumed I caught the whole table at a focused moment and went along my merry way to the cafeteria...where I immediately saw the real Ms. Hasse doing lunch duty. I turned beet red and at that point had NO IDEA whose hair I'd just played with! Oh, it's our BRAND NEW student teacher. That I'd never met!! Her first day!! --- "Sorry bout that. That's our crazy social worker Mallory. Don't mind her." I think I'm red as I type this. I still haven't officially met her. We will either bond over that moment or never recover.

and (5) My super sweet moment of the first day back: Christmas continued. Before Christmas various individuals and organizations contributed to provide Christmas presents for more than 250 of my students. There were a couple student's whose presents were never picked up. One bag of presents was intended for a little boy I love in 3rd grade. I wondered why his parents didn't come pick them up, but couldn't reach his parents on the phone. Today, I pulled him in my room to welcome him back and ask him about his break and decide if he really needed the donation or not. When I asked what his favorite Christmas present was he said real smooth, "Well, Santa gave me a few dollars because my mom forgot to give my list to Santa. He gave me that money instead." I could tell he'd been practicing that story all day with his friends. I mean, Santa is alive and well in the 3rd grade, especially on the first day back to school after break. I looked at him and said, "You know, I was so confused this morning. There's a bag with your name on it in the office and it says 'Please deliver to (student's name).' I don't know exactly where they came from, but I can tell they were meant for you." His face LIT UP. No exaggeration, it was like all of his disappointments were relieved. Santa didn't forget him after all! I gave him his presents, which he liked. I even let him change into his new pants despite the fact that it was the middle of the day. Words can't quite do it justice, but it made all of the planning and organizing for Christmas donations seem worth it completely! I never want kids to feel forgotten. Life's hard enough on it's own.

So, yeah, it's about time to leave Starbucks. I'm really glad I brought all that work along...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

life tapestry.

I find the backside of the tapestry as interesting as the front. ~Suzanne Pretty, Artist

This is the backside of a tapestry. I can't jump straight to 'beautiful' to describe this particular picture. Not quite 'ugly' though. 'Interesting'. That's a good word for it. 'Interesting'. I wish I could see the front of the finished product. I bet that it is beautiful!

I read a post earlier this week by my pastor's wife, Lauren Chandler. I don't know Lauren personally, but I am so thankful she took the time to write out her perspective on waiting. "The Weight of Waiting," she calls her post.
"This weight is a heaviness that presses us down, sometimes on our faces. ...For those who wait on the Lord, though, it is not a weight leading to despair but instead a weight that invites us to know hope. ...This is the hope: the salvation of the Lord has come and will come again to make all things right. It has come in the form of Jesus. Because He has come, all things will be used for our good whether our waiting ends as we've hoped or not. In our waiting and in its end, we get Him."
I read and recognized the weight she described. I know that weight all too well. I've felt it and fought it a lot this semester. In the end, WE GET HIM. What greater reward could I ask for?

My patience is being tested. Waiting is hard, and trusting God is dangerous business. I know where I've been and where I am now, but I have no clue the journey God has in store for me. Trust me, it hasn't always looked like I expected or like I would have planned for myself thus far.

I see the back of the unfinished tapestry right now. As we talked about repeatedly on our trip to Israel with the Forge, my faith leaks out my eyes all too quickly. Lord, restore my hope and strengthen my faith!!

Things I know to be true:
The Lord is my FATHER - a Father who loves me much more than I love myself.
The Lord is GOOD - in a way that goes far beyond what I see right before me.
The Lord has a PLAN - and He graciously includes me in it.
The Lord is TRUSTWORTHY - in a way that no human will ever be.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:12)

He knows what my tapestry will look like. He sees it completed and calls it beautiful, front and back. All of it reflects his careful handiwork. The back will show evidence of the journey: complete with my mistakes, my strengths, my confusion, my confidence, my joy, my tears, etc. Our gracious Father, the artist I am trusting with my tapestry, uses all of that to make beautiful the tapestry, to make great His name, and to draw me closer to His heart.

In the end, we get HIM...and He is worth the wait.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas.

Merry Christmas! 

This post is my "I adore my precious nephew, let me brag shamelessly every now and then" post.

Isn't he a doll? 

Oh Noah!! He's the cutest, sweetest nephew I could ask for and made Christmas seem a little bit magical! 

"Can I open that horsey present?" 
"I got a new horsey, Mal Mal. It's name is Clip Clop." 
"Does this present have a horsey in it?...Is this one a horsey present?"
"The horsey comes to see Baby Jesus."
I asked Noah what he did during naptime while he was in his crib not sleeping. "I thought about all my horses. I love them."
"Thank you for my presents. I love you (Mal Mal, Saidy, G-dad, Honey, etc.)
"Noah, set your horses down so you can open that other present." "I don't want to do that."
Noah singing, "Happy Birthday Jesus, I'm so glad it's Christmas."
"Noah are you hot wearing 2 shirts?" "Yes." "Well, let me take off this shirt so you can cool down." (Near melt-down) No! I don't want to take my horsey shirt off.
Noah looking in the mirror at his horsey shirt, "This is hilarious."
Noah dying laughing watching the toy helicopter, but when it got close "Oh no! I'm scared of that."
"This horse is a Palamino."

Sarah, Lauren - what am I forgetting here?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York City.

I spent four incredible, fun, expensive days in NYC with 3 people I love to death! We stockpiled memories for a lifetime. I love being a Staats girl! Sarah and Lauren truly are 2 of my closest friends, and I still live with the hope of being just like my mama!

This girl is 21 now!! I can't get over how grown-up and wise and beautiful she is! If she's 21, that means I'm about to be 26!! My prime is flashing before my eyes! Ugh.

For the time being though, I'll focus on the positives: moments like these where I can walk down the street, joyfully laughing and singing with Lauren by my side. I'll think of memories of our perfectly awkward conversation over ice cream or playing truth or dare with Sarah. I'll replay the image of my mom talking to practically every stranger that might be able to point us to some authentic NYC experience and somehow becoming their new best friend. I'll try on the new clothes we purchased (again) just for fun! I'll google Sister Act on Broadway so I can see another glimpse of those sparkly nuns. I'll try to find my Ice-Skate Barbie because I'm convinced she came to life on the stage of the Rockettes performance. I might even try on my Elf costume from Sing 2008 and pretend I'm on stage with the Rockettes too. I'll look through the pictures Sarah posted on facebook over and over to relive the memories I hope I never, ever forget!

From one selfish person to another:

I am fundamentally selfish. At the end of the day, it's the unfortunate truth. 

SELFISH. Humanity yes, but not just humanity—you personally. Me personally.

I so wish that weren’t true.

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I’m not because I can do some pretty “selfless” things. Selfishness is vicious. It’s sneaky. It tries to convince us that we’re always right. I want to be right. 

I know a lot of people who inspire me with the amount of generosity and love that
they display. That’s how I want to live my life as well.

But I know the truth remains: we’re all motivated by our own selfishness to some extent. Acknowledging that has brought such freedom and honesty to my life.

What’s my motive for the good that I do? Do I serve because it’s what I’m comfortable doing? Because I’m craving the ‘thank you’ or other positive affirmation? Do I love out of convenience?

Yes. All too often.

Thankfully, when I confess my selfishness for the sin that it is, God equips me to live for Him and for His purposes. He even uses my recognition of selfishness to teach me about His grace and His love. Identifying selfishness helps me appreciate the opposite: sincere, selfless love. The true, rich, ‘I value you your heart so much I will die to my own’ in various different ways big and small. I know firsthand what it’s like to look out for #1. To make sure that I’ve eaten when I wanted to eat. That I’ve rested when I wanted to rest. That I’ve worked out when I wanted to work out. That I've lived for me. It's much more difficult to consider others more highly than yourself. God consistently displays this type of love toward us.

Selfish people are hard to be around. They make terrible friends, terrible spouses.

Jesus is the perfect friend. The perfect companion. The selfless lover.

He gives us new hearts. He equips us to love genuinely. He enables us to  go beyond ourselves and share depth with one another. "Teach me to love as Christ." It was the foundation of my Forge class. Christ loves selflessly, which goes against the grain of my natural inclination. His love is rich and pure.

*written 4 months ago...and just now posted. That's what happens when I can't sleep at 4am.

Friday, December 9, 2011

every tribe.

Every tribe. Every tongue. Every nation. Revelation 5:9
Watch this video. It re-ignited a spark in my heart for the Gospel and the privilege we have to access it so easily. Somehow I've become a bit desensitized: there are people who have NEVER heard the name of Jesus. I forget that all too easily! 

Ryan and Amy Carpenter came to our small group this past Tuesday to share their story and seek support anyone had a desire to give. They are gearing up to leave this spring for Papua New Guinea (PNG) as tribal missionaries. 

Ryan actually grew up as the child if missionaries in PNG. He shared one story that I hope he doesn't mind me retelling (and attempting not to butcher.) As a 4 year old, Ryan's parents brought him to a remote village in PNG where they intended to live, completely learn the language and culture, and within 5-10 years know enough of the language to share the Gospel. The tribe they were committing to was known within PNG for being highly aggressive and cannibalistic. Previous missionaries were killed and eaten by the tribe.

With faith and boldness the Carpenters arrived in 2 canoes to the village. Within a few hours of settling in, they noticed that Ryan was missing! They found him with the chief eating the head of a bird in his hut. 

15 years later, the chief's brother explained to the Carpenters why that was so important. A missionary years earlier had taken the chief to town for medication to treat his seizures. While in town, they attended a local church. Although the chief couldn't understand any of the language (there are nearly 700 different languages in the relatively small PNG), he saw a light in the eyes of the believers and decided he would do all that he could to bring that light to his tribe. 

When the Carpenters arrived, the chief knew that they brought the light that the other missionaries had shown him. He also knew their safety would be critical to whether or not they stayed in the community. Thus, the chief, wanting his people to hear the Carpenter's message, brought little Ryan into his home and fed him the head of the bird. This particular meal was reserved for a father to eat with his son. By bringing Ryan into his hut, he communicated that Ryan was his son. From that day forward, any member of that tribe would have given their life to protect Ryan and his family. They never had to worry about their safety from the tribe members. Sadly, the chief died before he ever fully heard the Gospel in his language, but his actions ensured that his entire tribe did.  

Amazing. Truly a different world than the US.

Now Ryan (all grown up) and his sweet wife Amy are heading back to PNG. They will be building facilities for missionaries to establish homes and clinics in remote villages, so that other missionaries will be equipped to plant tribal churches. In a world with no highways, much less Home Depots, this is quite a task! If you want to learn more about their ministry, here is their link: Ryan and Amy Carpenter.

My hope is that this pricks your heart for the Gospel like it has mine. Not everyone has heard, even here in the US. I'll probably never make it to PNG, but you better believe I'll be praying for Ryan and Amy.
He said to them; "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15