February 26, 2014

Make Your Mark

You know when something just tugs at your heart-strings? Tugs hard and sharp, like a child's cry. Last night I was reading over at Ann Voskamp's blog, and her heart spills right out on the page. She writes of impact, of our mark on the world. She writes and it grabs me, reaching right for my heart. 
How she loved on a girl - thirty-eight dollars a month and letters sent to Guatemala then kept as if treasure. She sponsored Xiomara and I can see the girl's grin, leaping right off the screen. 
Thirty-eight dollars a month, some prayers and stationary... so little, but God used what Ann had and changed this girl's life. 
And Ann's sentences are the catalyst for Holy Spirit conviction, the words rip out the selfishness, exposing it raw:
     "I know where she slept last night, how she’ll sleep under tin and tarp again tonight. I know how right now a starving child just gurgled their last bloated breath. And by the time I get to the end of my next sentence, another child will starve to death. One every 3.6 seconds. 16 people die every minute because they don’t have enough food. And 3472 pins are pinned every minute to Pinterest." 
So I click her links and find Compassion and stare at the sweet faces, each waiting for someone to give what they have, to be used by our God and to change their lives. Time after time, child after child, I give them what I have. I cry out to God, this deep longing ache. I wish I could sponsor them, hold them, smile with them - something! But thirty-eight dollars a month... and I just give what I have, a hearts-cry strong and deep. I gave what I had, and God will have to do the rest. 
But one more thing before you click my words away. Will you make your mark, give what you have? A sponsorship, a prayer, a commitment to pray. Step on over to Compassion and just give what you have. 
Because, you see, God will use what we give. He can multiply the marks we make. 
What is the product of zero times a million? Zero. But as soon as that nothingness is bumped up to one - one little mark, one little prayer - the equation totals one million. My friends, it's time to make your mark.
(Read Ann's post here, yes?)

February 20, 2014

Hurts and a Masterpiece

    I just saw a quote on Pinterest from Ernest Hemingway. Write hard and clear about what hurts. All right then; I'll write about something that hurts. It hurts 'cause I've sat here on the couch for a long long time, thinking I should be writing, I should be running, I should be doing school. 
    The slow motion falling I feel when I eat too much chocolate, when mom said she wishes she could iron out the worry-wrinkles, furrows covering the "should be's" and "what if's" and "why me's" of my brain. 
    It hurts to spend my days chasing a perfection that was never meant to be; holding up a shimmering mirage of beauty-perfection beside the clunky realism of 1,440 minutes each day. 
    What hurts is having a growing, unraveling to-do list and a sniffly nose all at once. 
If perfection is so perfect, then why does it hurt to look into its depths? 
    But I've been aching to say this, to heal the hurt: God is sovereign. If something should have happened, it would have. God knows I could have been running today while I poked and proded my heart on the couch to find life-words to bleed onto this blog. But in God's perfect plan, I didn't run. 
    To heal this huting holding-up comparison I need to rewire my brain. To remember that God's perfection doesn't look like world-perfection and skin-beauty and crossed off to-do lists. God's perfection is happening, unfurling, growing in me. Each moment is beautiful, a gift from God. But unless I see the moments for what they are, I will continue to seek a hurting perfection I've conjured up.
    A masterpiece. That is what my life is becoming. And all those little bumps and the strange dabs of color?
That's where the beauty comes in.
Because God's perfection is not a world-perfection. 
God's perfection is a masterpiece.

Mr. Hemingway, I'll write about what hurts; I'll write hard and clear. But I'll also write about the masterpiece that's blooming from the big-ness of my God in the soil of my hurts.

February 12, 2014

Sugar on Snow!

    Have you read Little House on the Prairie? I did, and I remember reading about the maple syrup harvest and how Laura loved the sweet maple candies they made. Sugar on Snow. What a lovely name. :) Is it possible that something delicious can come from inside a tree??? The answer, of course, is yes. And just in case you want to try it for yourself, here is the recipe! 

Sugar on Snow*

1 cup maple syrup (not the fake stuff)
1/2 stick butter 
1 tub packed snow
Candy thermometer

Real maple syrup!!!
1. Heat syrup and butter in a pot over medium heat, watching carefully. Turn the heat down if it threatens to boil over. Heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first few minutes...
Almost done!
2. Cool slightly and test for done-ness by spooning a drizzle over the snow. 
If candy sits on top of snow and clings to fork like taffy, it's ready. If not, heat it back up again for a few more minutes.

3. Pour or drizzle with spoon over packed snow. 

Wait a few seconds for the candy to harden, then enjoy!

You should be able to lift off a whole bunch of squiggles in one golden sheet like this. :)

*Based on recipe from the Maple Syrup Cookbook 

February 6, 2014

Awesomeness Outside My Comfort Zone

    If my friend was standing in the middle of the road about to get run over by a semi, wouldn't I run screaming at her and push her out of the way?
If a girl I knew had a week to live because of a new type of cancer and I discovered the cure, wouldn't I tell her and her doctors about it?

    But what if one thing that is worse than getting mauled by a semi is spending an eternity in Hell?
And what if something worse than dying of cancer is living until the end of time away from the presence of God?

And I've been letting them die. 
  .....and then I went to Dare2Share. My life has been permanently changed. Tell me, friends. Do you not think this video is awesome?

    Yes, he was at the conference! Plus two other fine speakers. There were at least five skits (very well done, by the way) and I'm thinking about four worship/concert sessions with Desperation Band, including cool flashing lights and everything. :)

    After they pumped us (over 3,000 teens) up and equipped us with tactics and advice, we hit the streets. To witness. 
    Boy, was I scared. I mean, knocking on a strange door in a strange town handing out batteries for smoke detectors and asking people if they needed prayer? I can only imaging how crazy we looked. But in the end? It was worth it. Ten times over. One sweet lady with a kid peeking through the door had us pray for her sick mother, then thanked us profusely and hugged all three of us who were standing on her doorstep. 
    After the first few houses, my trepidation fell away and I found myself eagerly looking towards to next house. Something was working in me, because I am not an outgoing person. Like, I don't even like to knock on doors of people I sort of know. By the time we ran out of batteries, I was pretty pumped up. I would have been content to keep going for another hour! It was awesome, guys. And it was awesome in a God - type of way. 

    Back at the conference center, I learned (at least) two more amazing things. 1. God gave me a mustard seed of faith to partner with my brother and sponsor a little boy from Ecuador through Compassion (!!!!!!!!! I love him already!!!!!!). Faith because it's hard to pledge a monthly sum of money when I only have summer jobs, but faith says God will provide. 2. I love it when guys lift their hands in worship. There is something in seeing a strong young man with his hands outstretched to Jesus and his head bowed that really touched a chord in my heart. I've decided my husband will have to be an all-out worshiper like that. :) 

    Dare2Share pushed me out of my comfort zone. But there, outside Ariel's comfy bubble, I found a new type of comfort - that of trust. Once I let go of the railing and stepped out in faith, I knew the only thing holding me was Jesus' hands. So I clung to them and that was what made my experience awesome. 
    I'm going to witness again, friends. Soon, I hope! I've got a plan brewing along the lines of Valentines Day cookies and messages about the love of God to hand out to strangers. :) I'd appreciate your prayers!