I have a patience problem. This Sunday was December 12th and Ben and I sat and stared at all of our Christmas presents sitting under the tree and decided it was pretty much Christmas. So we put on my Christmas mix, moved our coffee table, and exchanged presents. I wish I could say it was let down but every year when I was younger Brett and I used to search the house for our presents. My mom was never good at hiding them and after a few years she just stared putting them in the same closet as a way to tell us she surrendered. So we would find them, ooh and awww over them, and then put them back. It never ruined Christmas though, this may be a little too movie moment but the real presents weren’t under our tree.
I’ve started volunteering at a Pregnancy Help Center in Katy and am learning more than I ever thought possible. My eyes are being opened to the depth of the lies that Satan is telling the younger generation. I wish I could say it has driven me to change but really it has just depressed me. It feels very overwhelming seeing girls who need so much saving but then again i’m not there to save them just to point them in the right direction. Everyday I have to remind myself that i’m not a Savior I am only a tool. I want to be their savior. I want to offer them saving but that isn’t my job. My job is simply to point them in the right direction and remember the depth to which Christ saved me from. So today I am editing my book and reminding myself how badly I needed saving. I wrote this awhile ago for my book but I just wanted to share it.
Well its two days after thanksgiving and i meant to get this post up before thanksgiving so by Tindell standards this is right on time. I have been thinking about what I am thankful for and a facebook status just doesn’t seem to do it justice when I look around at the blessings in my life. I’m not saying I don’t have problems, Lord knows I am not claiming that, but I do have more to be thankful for than I realize. On every other day besides the third week in November I tend to forget how much I really have. I look around at the people with more and I tell myself that next year I will have it all. I keep hoping next year brings what I am lacking this year but then it hit me that the ladder up will never end. I will always find something to improve on, want, or “need”. So this year my goal is not to loose that five pounds that hangs around my thighs, or to stop eating sugar despite my best efforts, but rather to be content in all that I do have instead of the very little that I don’t. So here is my list of the irreplaceable things that make the things I don’t have all the less important.
1. Ben. Yes this may be the ultimate cliche but as the months go by I find even more reasons why I don’t deserve him and why is the biggest blessing God has ever given me. Not only does he put up with my shenagains day after day but he does it with a smile on his face and a giving heart. I have never meant a greater servant or smarter man and his ability to love me astonishes me every day.
2. Growing up with brothers. This may seem like an odd thing to be thankful for but every time I am able to pick myself up off the ground I attribute it to growing up with three boys to encourage me. My brothers never beat up on me or threatened my boyfriends (i think they were more worried about the guy than me) but they did teach me the value of strength and how to let things roll off my back. My guy friends in high school picked on me relentlessly and they always told me “its only because you can take it”. So for all things in life I am glad I can “take it”.
3. A stay at home mother. I don’t think anyone understands the value of a mother until they grow up. My mom left me notes in my lunch, made me breakfast in the morning, and was home to soothe the lies I had been told at school (mostly about my awkward height).
4. A hard working father. My dad taught me the importance of hard work. He was up early and home on time. He formed his business from nothing and taught me what it means to work through what you hate. I didn’t think this was as important when I was young but growing up I have realized that everything worth anything takes hard word. Love, relationships, marriage, family, faith, it all takes hard work.
5. Beth Moore’s bible studies. While it is true that I have a small inclination that we would be best friends if we ever got the chance that’s not the reason I love her bible studies. When I became a Christian five years ago (at one of her talks) her studies taught me to know and Love the Jesus I had just invited to change my life. She taught me, unknowingly, that woman can stand in the same arena as men and have the same impact for Christ.
6. Laughter. It doesn’t matter how bad life gets, laughing with friends and family can change your entire world.
7. Moving to Houston. Ok, I know anyone who is close to me will laugh at this one but let me get my explanation out before you think I am full of it. Not only did Houston teach me what a brat I am but it taught me how much I needed to change. I am learning everyday to be my own person outside the influence of my family, how to love my husband when I don’t want to, and my passion for writing. If it wasn’t for my unemployment and understanding husband I would have never written the book I had wanted to write for years. Houston has been a great teacher.
8. My friends in Houston. In the midst of some the hardest days of my life they have steeped in and loved me, given me wise advice, or walked with me when I needed to get out. They have taught me the power of true friendships with out expecting anything in return.
9. Traveling to Africa. I got into a bad habit of believing that no matter how hard others had it that I had it worse, awful I know but at least I recognized it. Then I went on this trip and experienced so much conviction that it knocked me back into place. Not only do most people have it worse but I have so much that I could praise instead of complain about. Africa taught me, like most third world countries do, that I have so much to learn from them. Mostly though I needed to learn to be content with all that I had and less. I don’t need to be climbing up but realizing ever step is an undeserved raise.
10. My faith. This year has been one of the hardest of my life and without my savior to carry me through, often kicking and screaming, I would be in quite a mess. My savior, I love calling him that because he literally saved my life, has taught me the power of giving forgiveness and the tangible ways of love. If it weren’t for the “unworldly ways” of the bible then I would have lost most of my important relationships this year.
Its been a long time since I made myself sit down to write. Nothing really exciting has happened except that life has been busy, time has passed, weeks got filled, we attended a funeral, I overbooked myself, was extremely late to a few appointments (ok thats nothing new), and somehow managed to forget to make time for my writing, although I managed to make plenty of time for reruns of law and order. Sadly enough the thing that brought me back to the keyboard was Taylor Swift’s new album. In case you aren’t a teenage girl, or woman in her twenties who hasn’t quite grown up, her new album came out a few weeks ago. It is filled with wonderful revenge songs and hidden meanings, most of which I imagine are about Taylor Lautner. Although she still has a good dose of growing up to do the girl can write which reminded me that enjoyment was why I began writing in the first place.
So I’m back sitting in a coffee shop putting my thoughts on paper, drinking tea, and wishing coffee didn’t hurt my stomach.
When I was considering how to raise money for Africa one of my ideas was to sell a little book of letters from Jesus, things I felt like he was speaking to me in a really rough time. Of course I wrote half of the book and didn’t finish in time for the trip but for some reason I wanted to post one today. Maybe because I don’t have much to say but mostly because I am sick of hearing myself talk, sometimes you just need to hear from God. I know this isn’t actually written by Jesus but i’d like to think he would say the same thing to me today.
Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs. “
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble
I have so much I want to write about tonight.. so much I would like to put down just to get off my chest but instead I can’t seem to fill a page. Instead I keep thinking about a donald miller blog I read last week and how much it really spoke to me. I can’t even begin to describe the blog so I am just going to leave it for you to read but with a few notes..
Im sick a lot….
In the past year that ben and I have been married I have been on seven rounds of antibiotics, had at least one doctors appointment a week, and cost our insurance over 20,000$ in medical bills. Like I said i’m sick a lot. I don’t know if its the humid air in Houston or that homesickness has a component I wasn’t aware of but in the last year my health seems to be declining. This week I am sick again, most likely with strep but yet another visit to the doctor tomorrow will be able to give me some answers. So i’m lying in bed, letting my wonderful husband do the dishes and thinking about little orphaned Hannah that I met in Uganda.
On my second day at the bulrushes orphanage we had changed diapers, played with kids, taken babies on a walk, and fed lots of hungry mouths. It was almost time for us to leave when I sat down with a little girl to give her a afternoon snack. As soon as i slipped the smelly cereal into her mouth she screamed in pain and tears starting running down her cheeks. I looked at the local nannies confused, they just kept encouraging me to feed her but the more food I put into her mouth the more she screamed. I finally gave up and told one of them she looked like she was in physical pain. Thats when they informed me that she had ulcers in the back of her throat and had been struggling with a fever. I cradled her till she stopped crying and realized she was burning up. I took her temperature and realized it was 102, being from America and not raised in an orphanage I panicked but then I remembered these kids are living in close quarters with a ton of other children and illness is apart of everyday life. Tears began to fill my own eyes and I looked down at the almost naked baby in my arms. She had no mother to come and feed her soup when she got sick, or rent her movies when she was too sick to go to school, she would have no one to love her except her adopted nannies.
Then God reminded me he would always be a father and mother to this little girl. She had been taken out of poverty to be given a life of hope and a future and he wasn’t going to let his little girl be sick without receiving some much needed love. Thats why I was there, just to love her. So for the next hour I was there I rubbed her back with cold washcloths and got the nurses to give her Tylenol. I rocked her back and forth singing Jesus loves me because its what my mom would have done for me and once she feel asleep in my arms I put her in her bed and knew that while I wouldn’t be there tomorrow to love on her God was never going to abandon her.
Today I am 800 miles away from my mom with a sore throat and wishing she was here to feed me soup and comb my hair but she isn’t. However my husband is, the man God sent me to love on me when i’m too sick to wash the dishes or make dinner. Just a reminder that we are never abandoned.
I think the hardest thing about coming back from a trip as life changing as traveling to Africa is struggling to remember what you wanted to change. It’s so much easier when you are forced to leave your comfortable life behind to see all of the things that need to be different.
It’s weird how quickly american soil crept back into my blood. I hadn’t been back from Africa for more than 24 hours when real life hit like a wave crashing in. I wanted to remember all of the stories and more importantly I wanted to remember how close God felt every day. So today I am remembering Jill.
We met Jill when we arrived in Uganda, she explained how the babies homes are run at our orientation and then traveled with us everyday except the last two. There were two things that struck me about Jill when I first met her, 1. she was white 2. she was young. I assumed she was on staff with Watoto since she could tell you every babies story, every detail about day to day life in the babies home, and exactly who did what. I only learned later that she was a volunteer. Almost immediately we all bonded with Jill, her heart for these kids was so apparent and many of the days she was exhausted from staying up all night with a sick baby. She loved these kids as if they were her own and had spent the last year and half dedicating her life to them. She ate, breathed, and slept Watoto. What was wonderful about Jill was that she was just a normal girl making a huge impact, she had taken a break in nursing school to come to Watoto for three months but ended up not being able to leave. She had put her life on hold to answer God’s call and all at the age of 21. She wasn’t married and had no kids of her own but everyday she was a mother to eighty precious children. When I asked her when she was planning on going back home to Canada she would just smile and say “I don’t know”. She was a living example of trusting each day to God.
Jill will probably never know the absolute inspiration she was to me (unless she happens to read this) but it is funny how God often introduces you to people who are doing what you said you could never do. I am always saying I am too young to make a difference, too young to write a book, too young to follow God’s calling but Jill is living proof that God is faithful when he has called you to something. Jill raised support for three months but has been living off of it for a year and a half. She is just a volunteer, no pay check, no secured position, but that never seemed to bother her. Her work wasn’t about position or title it was about loving those God had called her to love.
I think Jill inspired me so much because she is proof that “too young” is just a lie. You don’t need a college education to follow God, you don’t need expertise to answer his call, and you don’t have to have a big title to change the world.
Leaving Jill was almost as hard as saying goodbye to the babies we had come to love but I have no doubt that God will continue to take care of her and bless her.