Posted by: JennyRain | August 23, 2010

The Continued Journey: Zambia 2007 (Repost)

There is a beauty found along the trail of a journey.

This week I will be re-posting a series I wrote in 2007 called “The Continued Journey” about a series of hikes that I took throughout the Georgia mountains that literally saved my life.

2007 was the beginning of the most intensive section of my healing journey and the end of what I knew of a life where chaos and drama were the norm (if not in the world around me, at least in my brain). What I know now – but did not know then – is that the day I returned from Africa I was entering into what is called a “Major Depressive Episode” complete with all of its nasty side effects.

In short, I crashed emotionally, spiritually, and physically and could not pull myself out of it no matter how hard I tried. I learned in those days in the woods – this is what depression and anxiety look like and no matter how much you will yourself through it – when depression has lock-jawed itself on your life – you are incapacitated.

By God’s grace, an awesome therapist, a supportive community of faith, the incredible assistance of my family, and the proper diet, medication, and sleep, I have emerged from the dark-hole known as my life in 2007.

This series has been resonating around my heart the last few weeks as I have read countless posts of friends being “on a journey” with God but not really sure where God is taking them… and other friends really suffering from being down and not sure what to do about it.

My prayer is that this series… in a metaphorical way… will be an encouragement to someone out there. God is faithful… no matter where you are. God is faithful, no matter what you feel. God is faithful because He cannot be anything else.

As for God, His way is perfect… Psalm 18.30

Warning: This post is the LONGEST of the four parts so I have enabled “skimming” by bolding first lines. If you are a skimmer, skim away and if anything speaks to your heart… stop and read more.. enjoy the journey!

***

The Continued Journey

As many of you have witnessed over the years, my first day back after a missions journey drives me into pad and paper for the day to story my experiences. This year has been different. I awoke early in anticipation of a day of writing. My heart awaited the inevitable story to begin birthing itself but after several hours the words remained silent, the sentences unformed, and the story yet unwritten.

“Hiking” was the only sense that filtered through my heart and the only direction I felt sure about, so my first day back from the Zambia trip was spent on the trails of Ft. Yargo, Georgia. “Hiking” would not have been so unusual a directive if it were a normal activity for me, but it is not. My last hike was in the year 2000.

Embattled silence

It was a battle to reach Ft. Yargo. First to find a park that was within driving distance of Greensboro. Second, to find a park that had long enough trails to be worth the drive. Third, to escape the clutches of my to-do list that left me strung-out with unsuccessful attempts at the Georgia concept of “helpful” customer service which is fast approaching D.C. standards of service, or lack of them. I began the drive to Ft. Yargo inwardly battling and outwardly exhausted, tears being the only noise I had to break the silence.

I was frustrated that I had to stop for rain-gear. Though I had listened to the preparative directive to bring my rain jacket, in my frustration prior to my departure, I had left it sitting on my counter at home. As rain loomed on the horizon the closer I got to my destination, I knew going without a rain-jacket was not wise. I cursed my forgetfulness as I thought about the rain-gear sitting at my house.

Yellow Trail: Part I

I began my walk solidly unfocused on the nature around me. Much of my time was spent trying to clear my mind from the previous events. The more I attempted to focus on the scenery, the more images of the earlier portion of my day eroded my peace. The more I tried to stay in the moment and attune my senses to the beauty around me, the more my senses demanded that my mind process and analyze for answers. I ruminated on the amount of time we spend in ministry escaping the moments of the present because we are bound up in concerns of the past.

God was silent on the Yellow Trail. I looked for signs of His presence but there were none save a random red-bird that flew around and above me at will. I listened for my Zambia story to begin writing itself, but it was not to be. I simply plodded on, my legs moving my body to the next trail-marker.

There was no goal for this trek. It was simply fifteen miles of trails around a large lake. Portions of the trail etched in closer to the lake than others. I was glad that I could see beyond the trees during this part of the trail. The lake was a centering device for me and kept me from losing my breath in enclosed claustrophobia. I had the lake continually beside me to center me and allow me to escape the clutches of overgrown foliage.

My sunglasses became a hindrance. Because I did not want a head-ache or eye-ache to slow me down, I wisely donned my sunglasses. Within five minutes, the humidity had steamed them so thoroughly I could not see my path. Even during the short time I wore them, the frames bit into my earlobes and caused my temples to beat. I resigned myself to the fact that I would be sun-glasses-less throughout the duration of the trip and committed them to my side pocket. Within five steps of doing so, I entered the shade of the trees. The shade protected me for the majority of my hike.

I had to choose between trail options. On several sections of the trail, I had to make a choice between two or three directions for the trail as it diverged at several points. Though I consulted the map for guidance, it did not list every divergent point. I simply had to make a choice. I chose to remain close to the lake and ignore the paths that led away from it and continued walking.

Only later would I reach the point where these divergent paths would re-converge, often adding a fourth and fifth path into their union and realize that all of the avenues ultimately would have landed in the same ending point for my specific journey.

 

Yellow / Blue Trail: Part II

The trail offers its wisdom. On the second part of my journey, I started to tap into the metaphor of the trail. The lessons came fast and furious and I had to stop to journal, lest I might miss a few. I call this the teaching section of the trail and it was three-quarters of the way through my journey. It rather felt like the trail threw-up its knowledge on me, and then released me to simply walk again. Suddenly the metaphor of the trail revealed itself to me in technicolor and I could only make it two or three steps when a new learning point would drive me back to my journal again.

This is some of what the trail taught me during part II of my journey:

Have the right gear. I was sure footed because of the new Merrill’s I had purchased in Africa.

The trail is not always marked, keep going.

Stopping to read the map often slows you down.

A map cannot be consulted in more treacherous portions of the trail because the trail needs your full concentration. You must come to this portion of the journey prepared and trust that you know your way, or you will stumble. This portion of the journey needs your focus to remain on the present conditions.

The map is not always to scale, trust yourself to know the way.

Plan your meals and rest spots because often the second portion of the journey is much more difficult than the first.

The trail is always longer than you anticipate, and the last leg of the journey will be the most difficult.

Different portions of the path have a different look and feel: Some are rocky, some are mulched, some are smoothly paved, and some are dirt.

Some trails take you to a destination point and then back down, like Amicola Falls, and some trails wind around a central focal point, like Ft. Yargo. Each journey is different.

On the easier portions of the trail (the paved roads) do not leave any indication of your presence upon them. The more difficult portions of the trail (bare dirt and mulch) leave a more pronounced imprint of the footprints of your journey.

 

Unmarked Trail: Part III

The bridge that I thought would take me to my destination was blocked and I sat, eating my lunch, re-planning my journey. It had been pad-locked. Frustration loomed on the horizon as I realized that I would have to find a new path. I contemplated retracing the trail I had just taken, but somehow that seemed like acceding defeat. I wanted to find a new way to my destination.

That is why the third portion of the trail took me into the woods. Because I am notoriously claustrophobic, entering this portion of the journey took a leap of faith. I had no center point (the lake) to reference and there were no markers on the trees. I had only the much-narrowing trail before me to encourage me to continue walking and ignore the loss of breath I felt upon entering the forest’s clutches.

The red-bird of reassurance appears. As I entered the woods, the familiar red-bird re-emerged and flitted before me. I turned away for a moment, and when I turned back, he had disappeared. Only his song indicated to me that he was still there.

A biker speeds by me. He was the first of three to pass and startled me completely off the trail. I was pleased that I had decided not to listen to my Mp3, for if I had, I would have been knocked sideways. I was initially jealous that the biker would exit the woody-eclipse before me. Later as I navigated a rock-terrain wound by a tangled-root structure I wondered if the bicyclist managed ok. Suddenly I was glad to have my feet rather than a bike below me as I mused that it takes a great deal more skill to navigate the terrain at high speed with a bike, rather than on foot alone.

I almost tripped on a root-structure shaped like a cross. I marveled at how nature had shaped the roots naturally into a cross-structure and stopped for a moment to admire it. For a brief stretch of the journey, everywhere I looked I noticed wooden crosses in the roots and fallen tree limbs. I slowed my pace considerably not wanting to miss any of nature’s handiwork.

I had a brief respite from the woody-trail. When the enclosed trail became almost too-much for my claustrophobia, I exited into the sunlight for a brief stretch of the trail. I had reached the desired mid-point destination that the pad-locked bridge had previously blocked and enjoyed a moment of supreme satisfaction for this victory before re-entering the woods.

The woods became a haven. The re-emergence into the woods for the remainder of the trip was much easier than my the first entry. They became a refuge instead of a trap and I trusted the path, even without symbols to mark the journey. I was acutely aware that it was my hearing that was the primary sense I used to guide me rather than the map or my sight. I remained continually aware of the sound from the paved roads to the right and left of the wooden path. The sounds from the roads alerted me to exactly where I was on the path.

Destination Reached

My journey was much longer than I had anticipated. It stretched almost fourteen miles and lasted for three-and-a-half hours. I learned that instead of walking the trail, I needed to allow it to carry me. I had only set out to walk five miles and had I stopped at my initial goal, I would have never found the metaphor of the trail.

I was pleasantly exhausted from the journey and had finally left all rumblings of the morning’s struggles behind. Though still confused as to how hiking had any connection to my Zambia trip, I left the park reassured that the Africa story would come, when it was ready.

 

 

 

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 20, 2010

Friday Favorites: Round 14

Welcome to Round 14 of the Friday Favorites!

As y’all know, each Friday I choose three of my favorite OPB’s (Other People’s blogs) from the week and share them.

I am definitely a conniseur of fine blogging and this week I have the extra-special treat of sharing four, count ’em F.O.U.R. new blogs people.

{I’m absolutely GIDDY with excitement}

eeeee!

1 – Elizabeth Esther: Phantom Baby: I landed on Elizabeth’s site during a late night tweet-fest with my bloggy blog buddies and I was up til, well, very late reading some of her posts. It was difficult to pick just one because y’all – she can write! I love how she explores hot topics with grace and panache, I am engrossed in her language from the first stroke of the pen, and her blogs are packed with ooey-gooey goodness Every.Single.Time. Phantom Baby… well, you just have to read it for yourself. I’m still all a giggles!

2 – The Run a Muck (Amber): On soul rest and how the dreams change and A rock home companion (Sorry folks, I could not just choose one!) It is not suprising I have come to love Amber and Seth’s blogs… they have a heart for Africa! But it’s more than that… they live on the edge of risk with hearts unfolded wide open for the next step God may ask them to take. I love that. How can I not love that! It’s inspiring, encouraging, and captivating to me to see a couple living out their faith, their HOPE in such a real and tangible way. To me, they embody the truth of Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

3 – Messy Canvas (Mandy): Unchecked Imperfection: I stumbled across Mandy’s blog a few weeks back at the recommendation of my dear friend @PrudyChick (www.prudychick.com). If Prudence says, “Go read this,” I know its gonna be good, so I go. There are SO many of Mandy’s blogs that envelop me in this safe place of processing, learning, growing, and reflecting about my life, my faith, and my heart. As my hubby and I face some difficult challenges this week, this post really sung to me the importance of looking for the good in the moment rather than looking for perfection in life. Ohhh… pssst… I really liked Reminding Myself too 🙂

So who else do I read?

This is the list… to date… but I LOVE learning about new blogs, so if you know about cool blogs (or have one yourself) give me a shout out in the comments – I’ll add you to my list!

An Idol Heart (Grant)
Annie Blogs (Annie)
Best Days of My Life (Sarah)
Big Toe People (Kris)
Bring the Rain (Alicia)
Blessed Dad (Jim)
Chad Markley (Chad)
Come & See (Tracee)
David Goodwin (David)
Dirty Girls Ministries (Crystal and Sarah)
Elizabeth Esther (Elizabeth)
Emerson and Sarah (Emerson and Sarah)
Faith Barista (Bonnie)
Fearless Flying (Bailey)
Find me…The Real me (Heidi)
Flowerdust (Anne)
GitzenGirl (Sara)
Giving up on Perfect (Mary)
Grandma’s Letters from Africa (Linda)
Grit and Glory (Alece)
The Gypsy Mama (Lisa-Jo)
Heart-and-Home (Ashleigh)
Holy Handmaiden (Courtnee)
Inner City Observations (Leneita)
In The Name of Love (Bianca)
InProgress (Tam)
Jenni Clayville (Jenni)
JJJourney (Sarah Rachel)
Jonathan Pearson (Jonathan)
Joshua R White (photos) (Joshua)
Just Sayin (Lindsey)
JoshDevine.com (Josh)
Leading in Shades of Gray (Jenni)
Living Dilbert
Love and Respect NOW (Joy)
Love is an Orientation (Andrew)
Love Wins (Elora)
Lysa TerKeurst (Lysa)
Madabella (Melissa)
Mandy Thompson (Mandy)
Mary Jo Hess (Mary Jo)
Mauldin Family Diaries (Candice)
Melissa Brotherton (Melissa)
Messy Canvas (Mandy)
My Cup Overflows (Patricia)
My Heart Resonates with a Glorious Sound (Jessica)
My Living Canvas (AnnieLaurie)
Nicole Wick (Nicole)
People of the Second Chance (Mike & Jud)
Pre Middle Age (Cole)
Prudy Chick (Prudence)
Rachel Olsen (Rachel)
Ryan Spilhaus (Ryan)
Ragamuffin Soul (Carlos)
Rainbow Gulf of Love (Gladwell)
Refine Us (Trisha and Justin)
(RE)made (Adam)
Reflections of a Ragamuffin (Traylor)
Robyn W. Buxton (Robyn)
Run-a-Muck (Amber)
Sarah Markley (Sarah)
Shaun Groves (Shaun)
Shelia Walsh (Shelia)
Sheryl O’Bryan (Sheryl)
Spin-the-Axis (Jason)
Spur (Kristie)
Stuff Christians Like (Jonathan)
Taza and Husband (Kingsley the bulldog)
Ten things about Kelli (Kelli)
There is a time under heaven (Manda)
Thorns and Myrtles (Eden)
TimSchraeder.com (Tim)
Treasures of My Heart (Melissa)
T. Suzanne Eller (Suzie)
Thoreau-Bred Baby (Kelli)
Tom Davis (Tom)
What Matters Most (Melanie)
Walter the Pug (Walter)
What’s up with the Werts? (Amy)
Whittaker Woman (Heather)
Without Wax (Pete)

Blogging Communities (New!)

Gather Inspirit
High Calling Blogs
(In)Courage
Leading and Loving It
Scripture Dig

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 19, 2010

YOU:create – RE:creating Africa

Thursday’s are fast becoming my favorite day because of one thing…

YOU: create Thursday!

Each Thursday my dear bloggy-blog friend Gitz (aka Sara), who I absolutely adore, allows all of her readers to share their byte-size creativity.

Gitz is one of the most creative, inspirational people I know, so for her to share her palatte with us aspiring-artists-to-be is absolutely delicious to me!

So, in honor of Gitz’s YOU:create, I:created!

This is a video of Africa that I created from our Burundi trip. It’s about 10 minutes, but it really gives a great synopsis and feel for our trip.

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 18, 2010

A Canopy of Grace

This drove me into work on Tuesday.

I almost missed it because I was too busy getting to work on time.

My eyes bored razor-sharp pinholes in the line of cars unrolling their way toward the mundane of the daily and the dripping of the clock.

They were in my way, those obsequious cars.

Of course they were…

God placed them there to slow me down so that I would embrace the moment and savor the morning sky.

So my soul-space would freeze-frame His warm light streaming from the heavens.


I would need this mental painting as I catapulted into my day.

The reminder that God is our Canopy of Grace when things become mottled. See how My light wraps itself around your path?

The memory of the warm embrace of the Son’s light upon my shoulders. Wherever you go, I have already surrounded you with my Canopy of Grace.

The cars were in the way to slow my pace so that I could see the Holy Beautiful before me.

Once I slowed my eyes and embraced what was before me, I could slow my mind.

“This week is about Presence… His and mine” I reminded myself, “Be here. Now.”

Stillness entered my soul as I gazed into the sunlight.

<<Has your blog become your god?>>

A million thoughts splintered in my brain at once from that singularity:

Am I spending this week embracing moments with God, or thinking about what I’m going to write about God this week?
Am I more concerned with the topic of today’s blog or fully embracing a Holy Moment if it happens?
Am I looking for God’s Presence to enter into, or an experience of His Presence that I can write about?
Do I spend more time thinking about God on my way to work or thinking about my blog?

Oh the answers. I did not like them.

I was seeking the happy sunshine, but God illumined the path.

I see… I see God… I see…

Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ


holy experience

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 17, 2010

Capturing the Moments

The most difficult thing for me to do between Monday and Friday is step into unscheduled, unplanned moments.

To put more than my big toe into the water of the unknown and embrace the empty space.
To allow that unplanned moment to fill my lungs with air and my mind with clarity.

Even right now as I write this I am already planning out tomorrow’s post.

It is taking every ounce of my self-control not to write it.

I plan incessantly.

I plan because I am a planner. It is what I know. It is what I do. I am good at it.

The only time I am not planning is when I do not have a piece of paper, computer, calendar, blackberry-now-android, or other said planning device within the grasp of my fingertips.

Yet this week, I am surrendering to the moment. To not planning. To being ready to receive what God might have for me in the moment, or what I may want to share with Him.

This week is about getting out of my head and into my heart… my spirit… and my senses.

Everything in me is rebelling against it. Still.

What if I could live in FULL abandon to the moment?

What if I allowed myself to throw my head back

stretching arms-wide open
engaging heart-and-mind
planting my feet firmly

and entering into the spaces of time 

This is what I asked myself yesterday as I set out on a quest for the holy in the moments of my days.

This morning on the way into work my mind was arrested and I had a glimpse of a fully-captured moment.

It was brief, but it was a moment captured.

Through song, I was attuned to a wordless prayer in my heart…

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it…

                           – Natasha Bedingfield: Unwritten

“Let the [Son] illuminate the words that you could not find…”

Yes. This is resonating with my heart. Words. Sentences that would not form.

Let Him illuminate those phrases… catches of time… wisps of experience that I cannot define.

As I reach for the goals on the horizon or live into the moments now… let the Son illuminate the story that needs to be written.

Through song, I defined what my heart needed to be seeking…

in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches

“[You are] the resolution of all [my] fruitless searches…”

Yes. My heart has found the right chords to my melody.

Through song, God has broken through to create a holy moment…

Everything is made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

“I just want [You] to know [me] Lord…”

As I begin to find the Holy in my moments… Lord I too want to be known. Deeply. Intimately. Assuredly. Eternally. Because to be known and to Know the One who holds time in His hands is the penultimate purpose of the moments of our lives…

That is what I discovered in my moment today.

My times are in Your hand…Psalm 31:15

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 16, 2010

The Ministry of the Moment

My heart is expectant today for God to do something great! My prayer is that I am present in each moment of today so that I do not miss it – Makeda

Early Sunday morning my friend Makeda tweeted that prayer.

Makeda’s prayer comes on the heels of three conversations I’ve had in the last two days about being “in the moment.”

Being “in the moment” has been an integral part of my healing process over the last five years. Some days I succeed and other days I fail miserably.

There is a beautiful ministry that happens in our hearts when we choose to embrace each minute as it reveals itself.

When I stretch back the sixty-second rhythms of my day and take a deep look, I am becoming aware that God has shown up in ordinary, yet miraculous ways.

The problem is not God being present in my life, it is rather me rushing through His essence like a freight train en route to my next sixty-second interval of living.

What is it in that next minute that encourages us to sacrifice the beauty of second fifty-nine? or fifty-eight?

Why am I so pressed to hurry along to minute fourteen of my day that I abandon minute thirteen and the beauty it contains?

I am guilty of leaving my minutes behind.

Ignoring them.
Abandoning them.
Compressing them into hurried adverbs of usefulness instead of expanding them into majestic adjectives of praise.

When I look back at the end of each day, there are many seconds I have crumpled up and thrown away like discarded junk-mail.

What will it take for me to fully embrace each moment?

In less than thirty days I will be forty.

F.O.R.T.Y.

That’s 350,632.511 hours, or 21,024,000 minutes, or 1,262,304,000 seconds of living.

Forty years of escaped minutes and by-passed seconds.

Forty years of living in the margin avoiding red-letter conversations that invite the Divine Essence to step into my reality.

So this week I have decided to stop.racing.through.my.minutes…


I will unfold the second-hand of my life from its furious race to the next and live life embracing the minutes. I will look for my Savior from inside the conversation rather than seated on the margin as an observer.

Each day this week I will walk, journal in hand, into my minutes… waiting, looking, observing, hoping to sense His Presence in each second. Rather than force God into my day, I will stand ready in the moment and embrace that second where He chooses to show up.

At the end of each day, I will share what I have received from a moment of my day.

It may be paragraphs.
It may be a word.
It may be nothing… that’s ok.

Because as I step forward into the minutes that encompass this second-half of my life here on earth, I want to do so in an awareness of the everlasting Presence of my Savior.

And so my practice of embracing the moment starts today…

My times are in Your hand…Psalm 31:15

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 13, 2010

Friday Favorites: Round 13

Welcome to Round 13 of the Friday Favorites!

As y’all know, each Friday I choose three of my favorite OPB’s (Other People’s blogs) from the week and share them. 

This week it’s all about FREE STUFF!!!! {Can I get a Whoot! Whoot!}

1 – RyanSpilhaus.com: Random Free Music: Each Friday Ryan posts something “Free of charge” from technology to cupcakes to random other cool-free-stuff. Check out his blog on Fridays so you can see what’s free! He finds it, we benefit. Go Ryan!

2 – Frugal Friends: Discounted National Parks weekend: This is fast becoming my new favorite blog. They have all KINDS of free stuff to benefit from like two-for-one coupons (you have one coupon, the store makes it count twice!) and free stuff at different vendors, drastically reduced prices. Though this frugal friends is primarily in the DC Metro area, there are blogs I have run into like this from ALL over the world. Looking for some summer discounts for the family? Type in “Frugal Friends” or “Free Stuff Summer coupons” or “Free stuff blogs” or something similiar and you’ll be amazed at what is out there on the blogosphere!

3 – (In)Courage.me: 30 Days of Giveaways: It is no secret that I {heart} (In)Courage. The writers are fabulous, the managing editor is delightful (@thegypsymama) and the format creates true biblical community for women. So how can things get any better? THEY JUST DID! For the next thirty days, (In)courage is giving stuff away. For Free. THIRTY DAYS PEOPLE!! So get your tookas on over to (In)Courage and check em out!

 

So who else do I read?

This is the list… to date… but I LOVE learning about new blogs, so if you know about cool blogs (or have one yourself) give me a shout out in the comments – I’ll add you to my list!

An Idol Heart (Grant)
Annie Blogs (Annie)
Best Days of My Life (Sarah)
Big Toe People (Kris)
Bring the Rain (Alicia)
Blessed Dad (Jim)
Chad Markley (Chad)
Come & See (Tracee)
David Goodwin (David)
Dirty Girls Ministries (Crystal and Sarah)
Elizabeth Esther (Elizabeth)
Emerson and Sarah (Emerson and Sarah)
Fearless Flying (Bailey)
Find me…The Real me (Heidi)
Flowerdust (Anne)
GitzenGirl (Sara)
Giving up on Perfect (Mary)
Grandma’s Letters from Africa (Linda)
Grit and Glory (Alece)
The Gypsy Mama (Lisa-Jo)
Heart-and-Home (Ashleigh)
Holy Handmaiden (Courtnee)
Inner City Observations (Leneita)
In The Name of Love (Bianca)
InProgress (Tam)
Jenni Clayville (Jenni)
JJJourney (Sarah Rachel)
Jonathan Pearson (Jonathan)
Joshua R White (photos) (Joshua)
Just Sayin (Lindsey)
JoshDevine.com (Josh)
Leading in Shades of Gray (Jenni)
Living Dilbert
Love and Respect NOW (Joy)
Love is an Orientation (Andrew)
Love Wins (Elora)
Lysa TerKeurst (Lysa)
Madabella (Melissa)
Mandy Thompson (Mandy)
Mary Jo Hess (Mary Jo)
Mauldin Family Diaries (Candice)
Melissa Brotherton (Melissa)
Messy Canvas (Mandy)
My Cup Overflows (Patricia)
My Heart Resonates with a Glorious Sound (Jessica)
My Living Canvas (AnnieLaurie)
Nicole Wick (Nicole)
People of the Second Chance (Mike & Jud)
Pre Middle Age (Cole)
Prudy Chick (Prudence)
Rachel Olsen (Rachel)
Ryan Spilhaus (Ryan)
Ragamuffin Soul (Carlos)
Rainbow Gulf of Love (Gladwell)
Refine Us (Trisha and Justin)
(RE)made (Adam)
Reflections of a Ragamuffin (Traylor)
Robyn W. Buxton (Robyn)
Run-a-Muck (Amber)
Sarah Markley (Sarah)
Shaun Groves (Shaun)
Shelia Walsh (Shelia)
Sheryl O’Bryan (Sheryl)
Spin-the-Axis (Jason)
Spur (Kristie)
Stuff Christians Like (Jonathan)
Taza and Husband (Kingsley the bulldog)
Ten things about Kelli (Kelli)
There is a time under heaven (Manda)
TimSchraeder.com (Tim)
Treasures of My Heart (Melissa)
T. Suzanne Eller (Suzie)
Thoreau-Bred Baby (Kelli)
Tom Davis (Tom)
What Matters Most (Melanie)
Walter the Pug (Walter)
What’s up with the Werts? (Amy)
Whittaker Woman (Heather)
Without Wax (Pete)

Blogging Communities (New!)

Gather Inspirit
High Calling Blogs
(In)Courage
Leading and Loving It
Scripture Dig

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 12, 2010

iCreate Thursday: De-stress Your Life

In honor of my friend Sara’s You:create series, I have created!

Are you stuck in a cement-bound office building where your to-do list has out-expanded your to-day?

Had enough coffee to make your ears tingle?

Eating lunch at your desk because – psheesh you don’t even have enough time to go to the bathroom, let alone go out to lunch!

Then, sit back, enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds from the Caribbean and may this give you a window to de-stresserization for your Thursday.

Don’t forget to turn up your speakers!

 

Oh, and Gitz… I thought of you throughout the creation of this entire video… I pray that it gives you a little slice of heaven from your computer 🙂 Consider yourself hugged!!

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 11, 2010

Be the change… today

Be the change
you wish to see
in the world

-Ghandi


This is my friend Samantha.

I had the incredible blessing of going to Burundi with her and watching her make a daily difference in the lives around her. I love this picture of Sam because it was one of those moments where I watched magic happen.

Our team was in Makamba visiting families who had become refugees in Tanzania after the genocide occurred in Burundi. As the families began to return to Burundi, World Relief scooped them up into loving communities and helped re-establish them in homes, occupations, and integrated them back into Burundian society.

Visiting Makamba took the wind out of the team’s lungs as we saw the squallid conditions they lived in before WR helped get them resettled and learned of the years spent wandering through tent-camps in Tanzania waiting to come back. I admit – I hid behind a camera. Others just listened.

But Sam…

She stepped right into the middle of the story with a smile on her face, bent down, reached out and across the divide, and touched the story that seemed so far away from all of us.

She made a difference… just by reaching out.

She was the change she wanted to see in their world.

What change would you like to see in the world?

How can you be a part of it?

What is stopping you from BEING that change today?

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Posted by: JennyRain | August 10, 2010

Beauty, Majesty, and Wonder: Life-Interrupted

To see the majesty of our world and believe there is no God is to live in a functional atheism.

Thanks to the generosity of our family who donated a time-share and D&D who watched the puglets, last week my husband and I had the gift of going on a much-overdue honeymoon to St. Thomas.

It was glorious!

This was my husband’s third time to the caribbean and my first. An avid diver, he has been recounting the wonders of sea-diving for over a year.

One particular dive story John shares is in the Bahamas.

Slick grey and blue schools of fish scurry by his head as he lazily flutters along the edge of the coastline. Bright blue and green coral smacked with an occasional red-nettle fish invite him to journey farther along the reef and see the mysteries of the deep.

Then the ocean drops off on a 90 degree vertical shelf.

John keeps swimming until it is just him and thousands of pounds of ocean all around him.

It was his God-moment.

It would have been mine too… but for an entirely different set of reasons!

John did not talk me into diving in St. Thomas, but I tried snorkeling.

To say I took to it like a fish to water would be a stretch.

To say it was like another world, full of wonder, majesty, and beauty would be an understatement.

As soon as I placed the mask on my face and dipped my head below the skim of the waterline, it was like being in a new world.

“Ching… cring…. crink”

The sound of fish crunching on sea coral was punctuated only occasionally with a…

“ooom… ooom eeeeaaahhh”

(Translated: “Look! Look here!” spoken through our snorkel masks)

Bright pink and green fish with yellow fins caught the gleam of the sunlight as they sped past our masks… Rich violet-blue dressed teardrop shaped swimmer-fish… orange-spotted trumpet fish hid in the chimney coral while candy-cane-striped schools of mini-floater fish hung out nearby.

My eyes were assaulted with extravagant colors everywhere I looked.

Backward-swimming grey fish wearing bed-skirts (I later found out they were squid) hovered in pairs around us when we floated with them. They jetted off each time we tried to swim up to them.

The sun bounced off the reef and floor of the ocean and beckoned us to explore its crevices.

The silence of the embrace of the ocean wrapped around us in a gentle protection.

The extravagance of nature is superfluous.

Seeing it, one can envision God addressing His earthly canvas with dripping paintbrushes, smattering blue and red blobs of heavenly paint in the most inauspicious places just for the wonder of earth’s inhabitants.

A smear of tea-green to create the palm-tree coast.

A mix of orange and blood-red for the sun and coral.

A smatter of brown-clay combined with sea-foam green to make the sea-turtle come to life.

And a bit of purple-mango for the follow-fish.

To call the ocean majestic feels like an insult.

Here are just some of the scenes we witnessed in St. Thomas…

may you be captivated by the wonderous world we call home too… and may you sense the Hands of Him who created it too…

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