Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five Years

Five years ago today, I wrote my first blog post.

(If you're looking back through my archives and see 15 posts from July, 2009, don't count those. I moved my journals chronicling my first trip to Africa here from another blog.)

So much has changed in the last five years. Then, I was a junior in high school. Now, I am a senior at university and on the brink of stepping into adulthood.

For a throwback Tuesday reflection moment, here is a picture of me taken the same month I started this blog.

And a picture of me now. 

How long have you been following this blog?

Three years ago: My Pet Peeves
Four years ago: Just Thankful
Five years ago: 80% (This Thanksgiving Holiday)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sharon's Story

You can find this blog post on the Christian Relief Fund blog.

A young girl who lives in Kenya and is sponsored through Christian Relief Fund wrote a letter to her sponsor recently. Her story touched my heart and I hope it touches yours as well. Sponsorship has equipped Sharon to continue her education, have enough food to eat, and find hope for a brighter future.

Dear Sponsor,

Get more greetings from I, Sharon. I am glad to write you this letter just to say a word of thanks for your mercies and for what you have done for me. Surely I was going to sink in a hole and I would never come out.

My life since I was young was very bad and terrible. I have never lived with both my parents. I have never felt their parental care and love. I used to live with my maternal grandmother since 2006 when my life was extremely bad.

My father died in the year 2013. He started brewing illicit drugs when I was in first grade and my elder brother was in second grade. From there our life was going to be very worse. He used to take my mother's money from her business which she used to pay our school fees. From there he started abusing my mother in front of us. He lastly sent her out of her home. My mother had no other [place to go]. She left and went to my grandmother's home (her mother), where she stayed for two days and left to look otherwise for our needs. 

My father lastly left us alone in the house and he never bothered us. He left us without anything. He had to go and borrow. In the year 2006, we had lived alone for three months. Whenever we went to our maternal grandmother's place, my aunt used to send us away from that home.

My grandmother came back and took us. She lived with us. My younger sister used to be calling my elder brother "mum."

Our grandmother continued to live with us and we continued with education. I had never stopped going to school, but my brother had stopped. He was taken back to second grade, where we continued to learn in the same class.

My brother is now in ninth grade and we thank God for remembering us. I thank God for His mercies and I also thank you, sponsor, for your mercies on me. May God of blessings bless you and give you a long life. Thank you very much.

Your loving,

Will you sponsor a child today? 

Three years ago: Bloglovin and 5 Ways to Win My Heart
Four years ago: I Need You Here

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life Right Here

My friend Kelsey has a fancy camera and even fancier photography skills.

Autumn meant that it was time for another roomie picture session, so my three roommates and I dressed in our most "fall" outfits, despite the fact that it was a sweltering ninety degrees outside on an evening in late October. (South Texas, y'all.)

There is something to treasure about living in community.

It isn't always easy.

Let me rephrase that. Living in community isn't easy.

As a college student, I am daily making a home in a small space with girls who see my weaknesses and my sinful nature and my vulnerabilities and me seeing theirs all in turn.

I don't think I've ever begun a new month without lessons and wisdom gained from the weeks before.

More than anything, I appreciate the late-night talks about Jesus. Taking communion with cran-grape juice and rolls from Walmart. Teaching two of my roommates guitar and having "concert/worship" nights. Pulling pranks and making videos. The life-sized cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley we hide around the house to scare each other.

There are things about community that are hard and broken because of the sinful world in which we live... and there are also things about community that are pure enjoyment and innocence and laughter.

Fellowship digs rich wells of communication, expression, and transformation.

Having friends who walk through life with me and stand with me when things are not easy is a gift from the Lord.

Living with women of God means that I see Jesus shined in many different ways. The Bible is opened and there are four different hearts being whispered to by the Holy Spirit.

My burdens aren't carried alone, even when I think they are.

Kendall and I make "road trips" across our small town in order to have lots and lots of Mexican food. She sits and sketches while I write stories. We curl up behind a guitar and sing "Beautiful" by Bethany Dillon and mean the words. There are late night walks and talks and Spider Solitaire.

Kelsey brings laughter and crafts and Christmas lights (okay, "candy corn lights") in the middle of autumn. Because of her presence in the house, there are Styrofoam pumpkins, pine cones, and plastic leaves on every available surface. If a song needs to be sung, her voice is the one singing.

Sammy is the wild card who orders the Elvis cardboard cutout because she knows that's what our house needs most of all. If a prank is committed, she is the perpetrator. If an adventure is to be had, she is out the door with a kayak and bare feet.

No, living in community is not always easy. But it's what I need in this time of my life as a college student. As a young, single woman growing to love Jesus more and understand more about His love, there is nothing that pushes me forward more than sharing a home and a life with other women who are seeking Christ.

There is joy to be found when a school day is hard, through warm tea and worship songs and silly nights. It is a beautiful thing when conflicts are resolved in love instead of anger. When surrounded by community, I'm learning about accountability and vulnerability and transparency.

I pray that wherever I am in my life, I will have a strong community where we challenge and support and encourage each other. It will look different in one place than in another, but in this place, community looks like right here. A day in a pumpkin patch. A two hour discussion about Balaam and the donkey at one in the morning. Guitar strings and snap peas.

I like to daydream about what's to come, but I'm thankful for right here. Right now. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's joyful.

Happy fall.

Two years ago: Broken Words