Tonight’s Thoughts

Tonight is a night where everything is so still that I can almost palpably feel the nearness of my Jesus.

Tonight He is whispering to my heart with words of love and truth.

Tonight I am grieving over my own hardness of heart.

Tonight I am thankful for weakness and pain.

Tonight I am unable to sleep because of the aching in my heart.

Tonight is a night of peace and contentment; a night of longing and searching.

Tonight is a night of sweet worship in adoration of my beloved King.

Tonight is the sort of night I’d love to be taking a ramble in the woods, peeking up into the stars above between the branches of the trees, reveling in the majesty of creation.

Tonight, the cry of my heart is “Desiderio Domini!” (“I dearly long to be with my Lord”)

Tonight I am thankful. So very thankful.

Tonight I am realizing afresh my own unworthiness, and the utter worthiness of my God.

Tonight the tears are falling as I pray for my brother who does not yet know the reality of a life lived for Christ.

Tonight my arms are aching for the hugs of my dear kiddos in Africa, and the ones I’ve not yet met all over the world.

Tonight I am hungering and thirsting for more of my Jesus.

Tonight is a sweet gift from God.

A little smattering of unrelated things

1. There are some days where I miss this little girl more than words can express. I never thought I’d be one to fall in love with a specific child who I had previously never laid eyes on and have no prior claim to. But, when I walked through the door that day and planted a kiss on this little girl’s cheek, my life changed. I don’t talk about her very much, but there is literally not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about her and pray for her and remember that last day when she clung to me and I clung to her. Tears from my eyes dropped into her pile of little dark curls which were free to the air that day, because I’d stolen her in the middle of the weekly hair-do schedule. I couldn’t imagine leaving her, but I knew I had to.

And today is one of those days where my arms are aching to hold her, my heart is overflowing with love, my eyes can’t stay dry, and I just want to know where she is at this very moment and know if she’s being taken care of. Jesus, be with my little girl!

(this picture was not actually taken this morning)

2. I got up this morning while it was still dark outside and sat on the porch overlooking the little lake across the fence. A little mist rose up from the surface and I watched as the reflections in the water grew more visible as the sun began to peek over the far horizon. It was a beautiful time just sitting in awe of the Creator of the universe. I love Him, so much.

And then I went and crawled back into bed (actually, I crawled back onto the couch, since that’s where I’ve been sleeping lately). And I woke awhile later with a smile on my face. The aching in my bones and the pain in my joints tried to erase the smile, but it stuck like glue!


(pictures taken the beginning of this year by Lauren)

3. I think I have the cutest parents out there. And they’re pretty much the best things that have ever happened to me on this earth. Or, did I happen to them? Huh…perhaps they’re the best thing I ever happened to? Either way, confusion aside, I love my parents so much. And I have decided that as soon as I raid enough couches and collect enough pennies, I’m going to take my Dad skydiving. I asked him if he wanted to and he got pretty excited and told me the exact prices–methinks he’d been looking into it himself!

4. Check out these pretty little girls and handsome little boys. I think the cute gene must run in the family because, if I’m not mistaken, these are some of the cutest kids out there. I say “some” because this is only 5 of my 13 nieces and nephews…. ;) Also, while I am biased, I can admit that there are a TON of cute kids in the world. I won’t deny the facts. But, I just have to brag on these ones because I’m related to them.

5. I don’t have a picture to go with this one, but I just want to announce that on this past Sunday, I rode a roller coaster for the first time ever in my life. And not only did I ride a roller coaster, I rode the craziest roller coaster in Colorado 8 times….and 7 of them were back-to-back. And I went on the other ones at Six Flags multiple times, too. I think it’s safe to say that I loved it. I’m totally a thrill junkie when it comes down to it, and “I like being scared!” This is why me and Avy-Rosie get along so well…I can relate to that child on so many levels.

6. Ellerslie Fall Semester 2012 arrives in just two days! I always get so excited when a new class arrives. And this time I’m doubly excited. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say why publicly yet, so I’ll just mention that much and keep you all in suspense. But, let’s just say that I’m so thrilled for this weekend.

7. I have a feeling Mr. Carpenter would twitch if he read my writing today. I’m so overdoing the italics. *high five if you know the reference I just made*

8. Don’t mind my blog layout or any random changes you may see throughout the next little while. I messed up my previous layout and this one is just a place-holder. A place-holder that I don’t even like, I might mention. I’m going to try to get something up pretty soon that I like well enough to leave alone for awhile again, and in the meantime….ooooh! Secrets happening behind this here blog. Again, I’ll just leave you in suspense on that one, but I’m excited at what happens when my Dad and I put our heads together and plot about my blogging.

9. On that note (the blogging note): I think my parents are now fully aware of me having a blog. It took long enough. I even talked about it fairly regularly, and invariably one would pipe up and say “Eh? You have a blog?” But now Dad is helping me plot exciting things for the future of this blog, and the other day while Mom was in Tennessee she called me up and said:

“Hi Grace, I just met this really neat girl. She wants to write just like you do and do creative things with her writing. I called to ask you what your blog address is because I think she’d enjoy reading your blog. You’ll really like this girl, her name is Jessica. Here, talk to her!”

And then I was on the phone with a girl who I’d never met before. I love my Mom. ;)

But it was a great phone call, regardless of my being put on the spot like that–Jessica is a great girl, and I do love her already. Just as Mom predicted I would. Hi, Jessica! I don’t know if you’re reading my blog yet, but . . . I’m still so excited to get to know you! And it was a new experience to know that Mom was out giving my blog address out to people. I still somehow have the idea in my head that only the people that I know personally and who comment on my blog actually read it.

If you’re out there and you’re reading along right now, I’d be ecstatic if you’d comment. Also, I’d be intrigued to know how you found my blog–if the answer isn’t something obvious like “Grace, you gave me the address and called me every 30 seconds until I looked up your blog”….that doesn’t intrigue me. It causes me to twitch… But if you found my blog in some other way, I’d be quite intrigued to know how!

10. I shall now be wrapping up this oh-so-random post and heading off to get about 1000 keys made at Wal-Mart. Ok, not 1000, really. But I had 51 made the other day, and I have at least that many more to get made today…and, in key-numbers, that’s pretty close to 1000.

An Overwhelming Love

(This post was originally written on January 24, 2010.)

 

As we were walking down the red dirt road home from church, I noticed something I hadn’t seen on the way there as I had been too intent on making sure we were going the right way and taking all the turns we needed to take.

There was a “village” of sorts just down the street from where we went for church. The whole place was literally made of rusted metal pieces and cardboard. The “houses” (which weren’t even big enough to stand up in) looked like they were mostly falling over, and people had attempted to prop them up with sticks. There were clotheslines throughout the place with ragged clothes and blankets strung across them. Women hunched over small fires. Dogs wandered slowly around, scrounging for scraps.

(this isn’t the actual village, but it’s one nearby which looks a bit more “high-class” than the one I’m talking about . . . just to give you a bit of a visual.)

It was one of those sights that you don’t think you’ll ever see other than in a National Geographic magazine…you assume subconsciously that there isn’t actually anyone still out there that lives like that in the 21st century.

I got a little choked up as I dealt with the emotions of actually seeing such poverty first-hand for the first time, but we continued walking down the path. It was only a few seconds until I heard the happy laughter of children. I looked behind me and there were about 2 dozen kids running towards us. One little girl came up and grabbed my hand and laughed merrily up at me–she appeared to be about six or seven years old. I clung tightly to her hand and tried not to cry as I asked her her name.

“Lydia.” She laughed again.

As I was watching Lydia’s beaming face, a hand clutched at my other arm. I looked over and there was a beautiful girl who looked to be 10 years old. She was holding a baby. I smiled and asked her her name.

“I am Brenda!” She held tighter to my arm. I drew my arm in so her hand was against me.

I told both the girls my name. Brenda’s face lit up and she motioned to the baby in her arms. “This is Grace, too! You both are Grace.” I found out that the baby was her sister and they all lived back in the village. By this time there were about three little kids holding onto my left hand, Lydia was clutching my wrist, a little boy was holding my right hand, and Brenda still had my arm…the rest were all trailing behind, pushing and laughing to have a turn to hold my hand. As soon as she had a chance, Brenda took my hand and interlaced her fingers through mine. She squeezed tightly and said “I want you to be my friend.”

I choked back more tears and told her I would love to be her friend. She sighed happily and started swinging our hands back and forth as she skipped along next to me, still holding her baby sister. Little Lydia put herself in charge of making sure that all the littlest kids who were running along to keep up had a chance to hold my hand. She never let go herself, but clung to my wrist, and would call the other children and let them hold my hand–about three of them at a time. It was absolutely precious. I wanted to stay with those kids all day long!

We eventually got back home and had to tell them goodbye. They waved and ran off to head back to their homes in the village. I wanted to run with them and play with them. I wanted to love on them and be their friend. I want to go back to that village and see them.

As I sit here typing this, I’m looking at my hand. I still have dirt all the way up my arm from their sweaty grimy hands. I don’t want to wash it off.

The thing that struck me was how happy and joyful these children were. It was an absolutely beautiful thing to see!

What could I say?

Have you ever said “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God _______”?

I have.

There are some confusing things in this world.

One of those questions that haunts me is why does He allow poverty, desperation, hunger, injustice in this world? He can do something about it–why doesn’t He? I’d like to sit down and talk to Him about this . . . ask Him directly.

But then I’m afraid . . . what would I say if He asked me the same thing?

The Father’s Heart

Africa has been so strongly on my heart lately.

My heart is literally breaking.

I had the most vivid dream last night–it was more realistic than any I’ve ever had before.

When I woke up and realized that I was not actually snuggled up under a mosquito net with my babies . . . my heart ached and my eyes overflowed with tears.

It’s easy not to care when one doesn’t know the names and faces of those in need.

I have begged God to give me His heart–to break my heart for what breaks His. And oh, He has answered. He has shown me faces, He has told me the names. I vividly see the faces of those starving, the faces of those being abused, the faces of those abandoned, the faces of those overlooked, the faces of the hurting, the faces of the hated. I deeply love them.

I can’t not care.

I am so thankful to know that my heart is broken for that which breaks the heart of our Father.

I’ll be transparent and say that I didn’t realize how painful this answer to prayer would be–but it’s a pain I’m thankful to carry.

Jesus, continue to soften my heart towards the things which are nearest and dearest to You. You are a Father to the fatherless!

One Year

A year and two days ago I was hugging my family and friends goodbye in the Denver airport.

One year ago today, I had flown across the ocean, spent 12 hours in Germany, and was now landing in Uganda.

I took a deep breath as the wheels touched down on the runway.

I was in Africa.

 

I still, a year later, haven’t yet found words to describe the emotions that were going on inside of me. The emotions that are still running rampant in my heart.

God gave me a lot that day.

A burden in my heart.

 

A depth of love that I had never experienced for people I didn’t even know.

 

A true peace, even in the face of huge “unknowns”.

 

Glimpses of joy in the face of desperation, poverty, and desertion.

 

Visions of God’s heart that I still haven’t yet comprehended.

 

A deeper desire to know my God.

 

The reality of what it would truly mean to spill ones life for the glory of God.

 

And lots and lots of memories that are still working in my heart and life to draw me ever closer to God.

 

(as an aside: I’m not allowed to post direct pictures of the kids that I worked with while in Africa, but, believe me, if I was, you’d be completely inundated. Completely. Inundated.)