Monday, May 31, 2010

off we go! into the wild blue yonder...


Yep. I leave for Peru in a very very few hours. My TWO bags are packed (so snugly that I'm pretty sure no more AIR could fit) and I've eaten my "last supper" and I've taken my last American shower and I've blow-dried and straightened my hair for the last time until August. Crazy.

And, to top off the night, I just got to talk to Allison Rogers who just RETURNED from a ten-day trip to Peru, and her passion and excitement for the people and the country has DEFINITELY rubbed off on me. God is so faithful! Just when I was stressing again about my hiking pack not being symmetrical, He provides encouragement. What a good God we serve.

So, I leave tomorrow. Not sure when I'll be able to update again, but as soon as I can, I'll let you know. :)

For now...

How GREAT is our God!
Sing with me!
How GREAT is our God!
And all will see
How great, how great is our God!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How GREAT Thou art! How GREAT Thou art.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

His eye is on the sparrow...

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Charles H. Gabriel, 1905
Matthew 10:29-31

Three years ago this June, I went to the airport with my boyfriend at the time and his family as he was leaving for a summer-long mission trip to the Philippines. I had handled everything really well until we were watching as his plane pulled onto the runway and then pulled back up to the terminal...for what reason we had no clue. Every crazy bad thing that could happen started flooding into my head, and worry hijacked my heart. And then, out of the corner of my tear-filled eye, I saw three little birds flitting around the airport, and these verses popped into my head. (Praise God for His Word and for parents who encourage hiding it in my heart!) "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

I think we associate these verses with being comfortable too often. Jesus loves us! Hooray! But SO MANY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD DON'T KNOW THAT. The context of these verses is Jesus sending out His disciples on the mission trip of a lifetime. He showed them the crowds for whom He had so much compassion and told them that the harvest was ready - to pray for God to send out workers. Then Jesus gave them authority and power in His name and gave them specific instructions about who to serve, how to serve, and a pretty radical packing list - NOTHING. :/ yikes.

He warned them that this would not be easy - that the crowds would turn against them and persecute them. But He says DO NOT BE AFRAID. He challenges "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

So I sing because I'm HAPPY - striving to do His will, follow His commands, living life as He did in INTIMATE fellowship with the God of the universe.
I sing because I'm FREE - free from the American Dream, from materialism, FREE from sin that holds me back.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I KNOW He watches me.

My 7-year-old cousin Layla gave me a card today to take with me to Peru, and in it she wrote, "Dear Amber I will miss you remember this : Fear not for I am with thee. Ihsaiha 43:5"
Fear not. For HE IS WITH ME. We serve a God who loves His children, who knows the number of hairs on their heads! And this is what He has called us to do....
"Then Jesus came to them and said, "ALL AUTHORITY on heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, GO and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20

Saturday, May 22, 2010

we said YES to the dress[es]!

Today, I went shopping with Heather and her mom to look at wedding dresses for Heather's wedding... and we found the PERFECT ONE! No details for now - Jonathan is not allowed to know :) - but it's going to be good! [I found a really pretty bridesmaid dress that I'm excited to wear too! But that is merely secondary.]

For a girl who doesn't like to shop, I've gone shopping altogether too much this weekend. Friday I went to Jackson with my grandmother for her doctor's appointment and we shopped for some "grown-up dresses" for my precocious seven- and five-year-old cousins. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed shopping for them (even though I really DON'T like shopping for myself). I suppose it's because shopping for others feels like living out an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" or "What Not To Wear" to me - thanks to tooooooo much TLC this summer break so far.

In other news.................

There was a plane crash in India today... pray for the victims' families, that they will turn to God in the midst of their loss... and for those eight who survived, that they will recognize God's hand and His purpose in their lives....

Also, had God not changed my plans, I would have been on a plane there... today or tomorrow... PRAY for those who WILL be serving in India this summer... as well as in other places all around the world facing political unrest and less-than-perfect circumstances... thankfully, our God is sovereign over circumstances... :D

Also, there have been two earthquakes in Peru in the past three days. :)

Things are happening. I'm incredibly excited to start happening, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

i'll BE there... two weeks from today...

I think I'm beginning to go into incapable-of-moving-because-I'm-so-amazed-at-how-fast-these-past-few-weeks-have-gone-by mode (also known as SHOCK but that doesn't clarify my feelings well enough).

There is still so much that I need to do before leaving next, next many people I want to many books/articles I want to many useful phrases I need to learn in Spanish (how do you say "Hi, my name is __" again??) many things to fit in a hiking backpack... ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

I need a list! I need a schedule! I need a personal secretary!

I am absolutely incapable of typing the words "I need to let go" without putting them in quotation marks. I'm so afraid that if I let go and trust God to get my luggage to Peru with me it just won't happen. I'm terrified that if I don't put in hours of studying Spanish over the next few days, I'll forget everything I know once my feet hit Latin American soil. I can't even consider the fact that I won't be able to talk to my parents or my friends whenever I'd like for two entire months. What if something happens while I'm gone and I MISS IT??

This is where the "ADVENTURE" part of "Adventure in Peru" comes into play, Amber. Don't you WANT an adventurous summer? Don't you WANT to see God glorified in ways that you've never seen before? Don't you WANT the challenge and the growth that comes with having nothing to lean on but the Rock of Ages? Yes. Yes. Yes.

So here I go... Trusting in the Lord with ALL my heart... not depending on my own understanding... acknowledging HIM in all my ways (by His grace and His grace alone)... knowing He will direct my path... and my to-do list.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

hard to love.

amazing weekend and i'm exhausted. here's the run-down.

Friday: nada. well except taking a walk with mom and dad around our newly christened "walking trail" around the perimeter of our yard... garden snakes and all, it's a lot of fun. a veritable Walden for me.

Saturday: hung out with my friend HEATHER - i just love her - and then went to Dad's Sunday school class fellowship at my cousins' house and played with the kids for a majority of the time - my favorite. then went to the girls' dance recital in Ackerman... interesting. a night of Hannah Montana. :/ but not TOO too bad.

Today: senior celebration breakfast at church - hung out with the kids. Sunday school - talked about marriage and its challenges. sang. i LOVE hymns. LOVE LOVE LOVE. and our pastor talked about choices - which made me reflect on the number of choices I've made relatively independently the past three years. crazy. and of course, a pew-full of kids sat with us. then went to Mamaw's for lunch - KIDS. Layla and Lillie came home with mom and me - crazy afternoon of breaking up arguments and "positive discipline" (thank you, early childhood education). went back to church and practiced praise hymns with Corey and Matthew. Bible study class talked about Jonathan Edwards turning down a guy who asked for his daughter's hand in marriage because she wasn't worthy of him. :/ (REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF JOSH MCCORMICK). sang praise hymns with words on the screen for the congregation for, like, the FIRST TIME EVER at Bethel. it was great. really. really. great. worship was wonderful. afterwards played outside for an hour with all the kids. came home. ate cereal for dinner like the good ol' days. and now. sitting. for the first time all day i think.

What I've learned this weekend...
I really really like kids. However, working with them is not easy. Therefore, this summer will not be easy. (Ha! Finally I realize this.)
So much of the conversation going on around here this weekend has been about love and how tough love can be. Apparently, God is trying to get something of reality into my stubborn Amber-land mentality.
Too often we view children's ministry and (especially) work with orphans as something sweet and cute and (at times) good for publicity - obviously, because kids are cute! But this is not an area of ministry that comes without its challenges. I can't imagine the ways God is going to stretch me this summer, and I can't say it as beautifully as Amy Carmichael, so I'll quote her. Amy was a missionary in India for 60-some-odd years without furlough until her death, working with children who had been sold into temple prostitution or otherwise abandoned by their parents. These are words from the Lord she was inspired to write down about her circumstances...

"These children are dear to Me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind. If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of My Own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy reward." (from A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Eliot)

How beautiful. At the end of it all, He is my consolation. He is my reward. No matter how difficult I am to love, He loves me. What consolation! And He desperately loves the people I am going to meet this summer. He SO desires to flip their cultural idea of lackadaisical fatherhood upside down and display to them the Father who loved His wayward children enough to send His Son to pay their debt, to redeem them from their wickedness. What an honor it is to go and tell! To see the glory of my faithful, gracious God on display... He is my reward.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot Green Cookies and Phineas and Ferb

I have deemed today Aly Weimer Day.

I watched Phineas and Ferb and I made hot green cookies after dinner. If only we had ice cream, the day would be complete. Sadly, I must leave this portion of the celebration of Aly Weimer Day until tomorrow.

And call it psychology, but hot green cookies taste much more lime-y than do normal cookies.

That is all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

on the idea of training...

I just read a blog from Garaywa camp director Erica Hagar about her training to walk a half-marathon. I thought as I read - man, I really admire her! And then it kinda hit me that at some point this summer, I'm going to be walking a good deal in pretty high altitude...and how have I prepared for this? By sleeping late, lying around my house, reading Les Miserables, watching too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress for anyone's good health, and eating junk food. All this is cause for depression in such an extrovert as I...

So tomorrow begins my "three-week resolutions".... Sure. Why not?
For the remainder of my summer at home, I so solemnly resolve to...
- get out of bed at a time of day which most people would consider to be "morning" - that is, around 9 a.m. :/
- spend time with the Lord first and foremost.
- GO OUTSIDE for at least two nonconsecutive hours at some point each day.
- watch less than one hour of television a day, zombie movie nights not included.
- invest in relationships - those with my family that I take for granted too often as well as those with random strangers.

Other than that... we'll see what happens.

Three weeks from tomorrow, I get on a plane headed to South America for two months. I'm taking advantage of every moment HERE to train for taking advantage of every moment THERE. No more missed opportunities. No more regrets.

Carpe diem. It's more than fish of the day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

the day as a country girl :)

ok so maybe not so much...but i DID help my grandmother plant her garden this afternoon... and i drove a four-wheeler (with help from a five-year-old)... and i drank water out of a mason jar... and i wore a baseball cap. all legitimate country girl things to do, right?

Today has been pretty wonderful. My dad decided that I need to start looking for a new car since Max is getting too old for my dad's comfort, so we went on a daddy-daughter date to Columbus to test drive. That was only a teensy bit frustrating considering that I am HORRIBLE at making choices - and I really just want a vehicle to get me from A to B... a bike with a basket would be perfect...if i knew how to ride a bike... We ate at Mi Toro (phenomenal) and he asked me about boys :/ and then we rode home and went to Mamaw's to help with the garden.

Let it be known that I really like to play in the dirt - no thanks to my sister who wouldn't let me when I was younger because I would "smell like the outside." I also really and truly have some of the most adorable kids who ever walked the earth in my family. So while Dad and Mamaw and my uncle and older cousin planted corn and string beans and peas and butterbeans, I entertained the kids. We pretended to "bushhog" around the garden and we sang "The Wheels on the Bus" [sidenote: I thought of YOU, Miss Aly! I couldn't think of any other verses, so I started making things up!] and then Toby decided he wanted to take the four-io (5-year-old for "four-wheeler") up to Mamaw's house. I have not driven a four-wheeler in AGES. I never drove it much in the past thanks to more competent cousins who drove for me while I enjoyed the wind in my hair and pretended to be a princess, BUT after being reminded (by the five-year-old) how to work the machine, I drove around the woods behind my grandmother's back to her house. What an experience. I was utterly terrified snakes would come out of nowhere and eat us, but they didn't. Thankfully.

So. So ends a rambling post about today. Is there a point? Not really. But today did make me look forward to what I'll be doing this summer in Peru. A public relations guy from MC called me earlier asking questions about summer missions, and he asked exactly what I'll be doing. My response? "The catch phrase for summer missions is FLEXIBILITY. My project description is teaching English in the Andes mountains, but I'm really going to do whatever is needed. I just want to share God's love with a people who may have never heard." This summer is going to FORCE me out of my comfort zone. Cooking on a camp stove, washing clothes in the sink and hanging them to dry outside, working with BOYS at an orphanage... and it's AMAZING how God has already used these first few weeks of summer break to prepare me in incredible ways. So maybe I won't have to drive a four-wheeler this summer, but I have gotten to spend time with some of the guys in my family and basking in God's goodness in every aspect of my life. I can't wait to see what else God is going to do in the world this summer. It's going to be good. It already is.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thoughts of the Day

1. I like to drive on the Natchez Trace and listen to folksy music...even if I'm headed to an eye doctor's appointment.
2. Eye doctors are not scary or confusing when you joke and laugh and talk about school with them before they make you make a thousand choices about which line of letters looks less blurry when they all look just as blurry no matter what.
3. There is no Taco Bell in Madison, MS. Tragic.
4. MaslowPestalozziPiagetVygotsky - how come all these cool education-y people have really funny last names? Will Cockrell be added to the list? :/
5. I want to be a ballet dancer. Dance is my love language.
6. Ice cream is good for the soul. Especially when it has cheesecake and strawberries in it.
7. Spiders are funnier-looking but just as creepy when you name them Spielburg.
8. I have some really really really really really amazing friends.
9. I kind of don't want tomorrow to get here.
10. "Be still and know that I AM GOD - I WILL BE EXALTED in all the nations, I WILL BE EXALTED in all the earth."

So. I've had a really good day today. Obviously. And also quite obviously, it's late. And I've been studying. a lot. But I have successfully written a really cheesy philosophy of teaching and a really cheesy list of 10 thoughts running through my head today. (I've also had the name M. Night Shamalon stuck in my head. Have no idea if I spelled that right. It's just stuck in my head.)

Tomorrow? Tomorrow is the see-you-later day. I refuse to say goodbye because my God is bigger than goodbyes. At the beginning of this school year, two girls whom I love so dearly did not know my Jesus. And now they do. So no matter what continent they end up on, tomorrow is NOT the last time I see them. PRAISE THE LORD!
I know for a fact that every time I eat sweet potato casserole or hear the phrase "cotton-pickin" or call myself a lazy American or hear anyone talking about an angel, I will have a bittersweet feeling that reminds me of friends on the other side of the world. I am so incredibly incredibly thankful for the experiences God has given us.
Seasons come and go. My God never changes.
And He doesn't do it for me. He isn't the great constant God of the universe because I need Him to be. He does it because HE IS GOD. He is good for His own name's sake... the One who created the universe and calls the stars by name and holds everything together... He is so worthy of our LIVES, living sacrifices...
And because of His great love for us, though we are so undeserving, when we seek Him, we WILL FIND HIM, and we will celebrate with Him for eternity...

Angela, Tina, Semi, and Laura - I will miss you all so so so much more than I can even say. I praise God that He brought you here this semester - I just wish He could have let you stay LONGER! Know that I am praying for you as we go. Continue to follow after God wholeheartedly! I can't wait to hear and see the amazing things He does in you and through you. I love y'all! <3

Ok. Goodnight!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gotta love the community of believers...

So. Bragging on God.
I have been blessed with an incredible church family at Hickory Ridge. #1 - They bear with my piano-playing catastrophes. #2 - They have the coolest kids and youth in the world. #3 - They love Jesus...a lot.
Tonight after our worship service, this family of believers gathered around me and prayed for this summer. They prayed for my boldness, for Spanish acquisition, for unity with my teammates, for my parents' peace of mind, for the Peruvians I'll meet as well as every other person who just happens to be in the airports I pass through... and overall for God to be glorified in everything that happens.
And then they fed me cake and ice cream. What more could I want?
This morning, Bro. Terry preached about Divine Appointments using one of my favorite stories in the Bible - Philip and his international friend, the Ethiopian eunuch. He challenged us to OPEN OUR EYES, to yield to the Holy Spirit's guidance, and to be ready in season and out of season to be the hands and feet of the Creator of the Universe. Tonight, he encouraged us to fast and pray, to let our personal sin break our hearts, and to share the truth of the Gospel with everyone around us... and to refuse to see missions as something that is planned for two months out of a summer that begins and ends in an airport to an undisclosed location.
WOOOOOOWWWWW. I needed to hear absolutely ALL of that. How can it be that I have worked at Camp Garaywa for five summers and still am tempted to see missions as something planned and regimented? Praise God for being so much bigger than my Type A personality!!!
Prayer request? that God will change our hearts - that He will make us outwardly-focused followers of Jesus - that He will teach us the true meaning of missions - that He will call us to GO to our next-door neighbors, to the people in line with us at Wal-Mart, to our superiors and our co-workers - and that we will be BOLD and READY to share the GOOD NEWS. There are so many who have yet to hear...

"for 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"
-Romans 10:14-15