"The degree of self-control you have in your life is in direct proportion to the degree of acceptance you have for yourself. Put another way, if you don't value yourself, you won't 'pull in the reins' on actions and attitudes that will affect you for the worse." (Gary Smalley and John Trent)

Good stuff - I've definitely been feeling this way lately.


"Single Again"

"...I'm part of the missions group and been on mission trips with the church and even attend the women's Bible study. It's this co-ed stuff that just really doesn't work out."

I said it - I really did. Those exact words. I looked the singles group leader straight in the eye and professed my feelings as to somehow justify my complete and absolute aversion to what the contemporary church has formulated as the token "singles group." We sat near the front because, as the new kids, we didn't really know who sat where and which clique occupied which region, and I felt like the newly joined Baptist who didn't know the rule about always sitting in the back. From my unrestricted view, I glanced over each shoulder only to notice that me and a couple others were the only ones wearing name tags. Put it this way, when we walked in, Erin walked up and said "You guys must be new!" And to my questioning and disturbed look she replied, "...because I don't recognize you!"
1. I feel like an outsider
2. I need a more recognizable face
3. Do we really have to do this?

Lately I've developed a most catching aversion to singles events and singles groups and anything really focused on singles. I love job titles, but anything that further defines me as "still struggling to find someone who can stand me for more than a month but is out there in confidence and contentment making each day perfect because I am made whole without another no matter what society tells me every single day" is not my idea of glorious. Last weekend when I was home visiting my family, an older gentleman walked up, put his arm around me and said, "Amy, are you still single?"
"Yes, Dorsey, I am. "
" You know, I just can't figure that out."

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I replied with the fact that it probably has something to do with God's sovereignty and absolute will, which of course, it does...but to remind me when I'm already a tad bit insecure on the subject? Today at lunch, my friend and I were discussing how we want our focus to be on Christ alone, and not on the fact that we're still single. However, everyone continues to remind us. We had attended a new church this morning, and they had several classes for singles. My favorite: "Living Whole without a Better Half"

Of all the people in the world, I need the least reminding that I need someone else in my life to make me whole. Maybe it's my cynical view of the future or maybe it's holding on to my past, but I will be the first to share with you that I need no man to make me whole. HOWEVER, that is much different than "I need a man to support me" or "I need a man to take out the trash" or "I need a man to hold me when I am down" or anything comparable to those. When I signed divorce papers several years ago, I set out on a pursuit to never depend on someone else for happiness ever again. We're human and we'll be let down. Over and over. Again. But that's a tangent. Back to the single life.

Amanda said, "As soon as you stop kissing ex-boyfriends, I won't make you do things like this anymore." That has nothing to do with this! Maybe it does. Maybe not, but I'm leaning towards...hmmm...fear? Fear of loneliness? Fear of abandonment? Fear of having to attend more singles events only to discover that I AM really one of them too? Today we heard a message about Gideon, that God didn't require Gideon to be fearlessly obedient - just obedient. God can handle our fear, for He's much greater than that. Gideon may have torn down the idolatrous altars at night, but he still tore them down. I may be fearful of what God is asking me to do, but that shouldn't hinder me from obedience. He will never leave me and He will never forsake me. So now I can obey. I can be a single and obey God. But what is He asking me to do?

Tonight our message was about procrastination. I put off things until it's the absolute latest deadline. I put them off because, really, I'm not like everyone else and the rules surrounding this certain task do not apply to me. I procrastinate because I have a very long list of things to do, and I haven't really decided which is top priority. So God...what do I do? What are you telling me? My tool belt is packed with numerous singles classes and fun little snippets like "Single people have much more time to spend with God than married people - treasure this time." So which do I do?

Do I spend my single time attending more Bible studies? Should I start having two hours of intercessory prayer each morning? Should I fast once a week and start praying for a husband? Do you want me to lead the kids at Vacation Bible School and on Sunday mornings? Should I move to Africa for the next two years since I don't have anything here tying me down? Should I enroll in seminary and begin training for whatever ministry you have for me? Do you want me to commit an hour to reading your Word each morning? Should I...could I...what do you want from me God? I'm single. I'm free. I have no commitments. Pile it on, dear Lord.

Kids say that adults don't understand because times are different. Parents tell children that they don't understand because there's no obligation to a family for them. Bosses tell employees how much duties have changed over the years, and the part-timers complain because the employee benefits don't allow them to fulfill their obligations to all other commitments. Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda...

Let's face it - no one in this world has it as difficult as we do. I can list ten reasons that my day was worse than yours as a married person. I could go on for days and write and write and write about all that is wrong and difficult and stressful. Then I stop. And breathe. And there are those roses that everyone says smell so good.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. My security is that my Father is never changing. He is God to married or single, and obedience is asked of everyone. God is not asking me to fulfill a list of obligations, check them off, find the mate he has for me, populate the earth, and retire by serving dutifully in my church. He says "Seek me with all your heart." That's it. Seek Him. And after we seek Him, we will find Him. The thing that is so honest and real is that He is found in many different places. In Africa, they find Him in nature. He's found in a friendly neighbor or kind word at the post office in Gruver. Tonight, my friends even found Him at the singles event. He says "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

God hasn't told me to go find a husband, yet I make myself available and I strive and struggle to be exactly what someone of the opposite sex would want. He hasn't told Amy Gillispie to "go forth and prosper", yet sometimes I feel like I should have more desires and compassion towards children. God has called me to go into the world and preach the Gospel, and He has also told me to feed His sheep. That is the obedience in which I cower and hinder from, but that is the call to which i must obey, regardless of my fear. He asks me to tell the nations, and I hide behind the fact that singles events give me hives.

God lets us choose our venue - He just asks that we obey. I want to obey now and not later, and I want to obey even when I am fearful. For like the song says, "there's something about the ocean, and I'm lost in love again." When I begin to comprehend the magnitude of the depths of His love and the height of His glory, I lose myself in the beauty of such an awesome God, and all I really care about is serving Him.

Right now I don't care about a husband, but next time I have a bad day and my first reaction is to pick up the phone and reach to a familiar voice, I won't be so sure. But I write to remember and know that God is so much bigger, and He's asked me to love Him, which is to love His people. He is faithful even when I am faithless, and each morning I renew my commitment to His mission...to seek and to save those which are lost. May I be ever mindful of those around me - always. So I am called to go and called to love, and that is first.

Does that mean I still have to do it at the singles group?



Day 4 and I am taking a break inside - this is the first full day that we've had no rain, but I can feel it coming. We've awoken the past two mornings to light drizzle, and my toes have been as cold as melting ice cubes each morning. My allergies have kicked in a bit, but it's an absolute delight each and every day.

Smiles. It's the children's smiles that bring the sunshine to the dreary clouds. When I finally get a name right, and then see the look on their face when they realize that I know them personally, stars shine forth from the whites of their eyes, and my heart is warmed just the same, knowing that we share the Father, and He loves each one of us so beautifully.

We spent all day yesterday painting! We did the girls' dormitory in the morning, and then we created a masterpiece in the play room - starting with faded teal blue walls, we painted them all different colors of dark blue, sky blue, and kelly green. Tomorrow after it dries, we'll take the toddlers in and dip their hands in paint and do baby Sudanese handprints all over the wall. Rhonda is going to paint some clouds and some grass too - she is most definitely our creative one, while Natasha is the comic relief. It's been a little contest to see how many times we could make Lance laugh, and she is doing pretty well!

While we were painting the play room, all the kids would just stand at the door and watch. Samuel, Joseph, Christopher, Obadiah, Jane, Grace, Miriam...SO MANY children! They started repeating everything that we said, and once when I was on the ladder, I saw (what I thought was) a very large spider (they laughed at me), and I let out quite a shrill. Immediately following my shrill were six younger boys making the exact same noise! It was quite a laugh for all of us.

This morning while we were painting Sunday (little girl, not the day) came to play with me. We had such fun running around the dormitory and cleaning up the drips that Natasha and Rhonda made. Tash and Rhonda told me that it looks like I'm getting out of my box, as I usually have a child attached to me at all points of the day. Also this morning, I went with Lilly to town to the market. WHAT an EXPERIENCE.

Dirt roads, horns honking...everyone looking down on the (no idea how to spell this, so I'll type it phoenetically) kah-waw-juh. (white person / foreigner) We walked through the market and we saw all sorts of vegetables with lots of people yelling at me in Arabic to come shop and buy their vegetables and lentils that were sitting so comfortably on the burlap sacks on the hard red dirt. Next came the meat market. Whoa. Lots of flies, but "it's okay after it's cooked" (per Lilly). I made the mistake of pointing at the meat, and the man behind the counter (one of many) decided that he needed to talk to me. Needless to say, we quickly scurried away.

Then after we got back to the compound, Lance took Rhonda, Natasha and I to a small textiles store just down the road. We bought to many wonderful things!! I exchanged some shillings with Lilly, and we picked up all kinds of the most beautiful creations. Then Lance drove us over to Samaritan's Purse's logistical headquarters for Sudan. They are reconstructing churches that were torn down during the war - quite a sight and quite a project they have going.

Lastly, the rest of our team should be headed over very soon. Their conference is over, so we will now have to share the guest house with FOUR other women. Oh my!! As for prayer, pray for health. Lance has come down with malaria but is doing better, and Mama is afraid that she is getting typhoid. Several of the kids have malaria and typhoid - but not to worry - we're taking all of our medication!! I also was carrying a bag of bloody meat in it today and scratched my leg on the bag. I'm pretty sure that I didn't get any cow blood (gross!) in the cut, but we're cleaning it three times a day just to be sure. All of the cattle around here have syphilis. I'm actually on my way to clean it when I sign off here.

On a more positive note, none of us have had any stomach issues, which is very common around here. Praise the Lord for that!! We're all doing very well in that area, to say the least. :)

Thanks to ALL of you who have sent comments on this blog and emails too! (yes, I am getting emails despite the "out of office" response) The encouragement is so wonderful and I have been sharing it all with the team. Please keep up the prayers, as we wouldn't be surviving without them. Yesterday we found out that the LRA had gone right by the compound the night before, but they didn't stop and didn't hurt anyone. We were VERY confident that it was only because of all your prayers.

I am now off to finish the painting job and play with a few of the kids before the rest of the team gets here. Hope to hear from you all soon - and see you soon too! Blessings and prayers to each and every one of you...


Nairobi-Yei Day 0

(Same as this one...was waiting on Hunter. Thanks Hunter!!)

Pitch black and freezing cold, I was laying awake in my room at 4am, thanking the Lord for my peaceful sleep, and praying away the demons that would try to discourage us today. We loaded the bus for the airport at 5:30, and I had such an awesome vision (awesome as in awe-inspiring, not necessarily super spectacular). Nine of us were about to embark on a trip of a lifetime. This was it - no going back. If it wasn't for Bill's flashlight, I wouldn't have been able to see my own hand in front of my face, yet there were people walking along the roads already. The ride was bumpy and the air was still - no one was saying a word. Each one of us sat in silence as we considered the days that were ahead.Sudan. A war-torn, impoverished country with thousands of widows, orphans, and fearful individuals. It was almost like I was on the outside of the bus looking in and partaking of the thoughts and considerations on the minds of our team members. The air was still and extremely quiet, with only the consistent and repetitive sound of the rather unstable engine. But what a ride it was.We arrived at Nairobi Wilson airport (different than Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) early and drove through the tiny entrance, where a woman was holding the broken yet effective gate welcoming our entrance. Emily (from ALARM) greeted us and we stepped in line to check in, armed with more baggage than all the other passengers combined. This is where I truly began to feel like a materialistic and pretentious American. But everyone was very helpful, and our bags slighted their way under the weight limit.Walking through security was quite the experience - how they do it I will never understand. But comparing this to the way it's done in America reminds me of the selfish and dishonest society that we live in. The small 12x12 room for "Departures" only had enough space for our team, so I took a few steps out the door and stood on the tarmac in the warm sun. Speaking of sun, let me get back to the weather in Nairobi. It's 6000 feet above sea level, and the entire time we were there, it did not get above 70 degrees. No one told me that it was going to be this cold. I have been wearing a jacket since we arrived! However, I am confident that Sudan will be just a tad bit different.Back to the tarmac - standing out in the sun, I am about 30 feet away from the nearest plane. It is full of Cessna Caravans and other comparable tiny planes, and people are just milling around outside waiting for their turn to get on the right plane. We lost the camera bag and had to go searching - thank you Lord that we found it in the undercarriage of the small burgundy Cessna next to our plane. A little mix-up...no worries. Next adventure was Kathleen's missing bag - all of ours were sitting outside the door between the Departure room (which doubled as security) and the tarmac, minus her bag. Hunter piped up and noticed that we saw it out front sitting with some boxes, so we sent the baggage guy to go grab it and all was well.Note to future travelers: count bags.When the plane closest to us started to fire up, Sarah leaned over and said "You know, if that propeller comes off, we're in for it." She was right - we were maybe 10 yards from the plane and they had fired up both engines and propellers were running fast. Soon after she said that, a nice man walked over andk kindly guided us off the tarmac onto the sidewalk where we would be safe.Also...small world. I was talking to a man from Michigan who is headed to Rumbek (north of Yei) to help with building a medical clinic. Much discussion led me to discover that he works with IMB and ships containers! So to any of you who know what work we're doing to send the container, this is a God-ordained conversation. He is very familiar with the logistics and costs of preparing it, so we exchanged info and are going to chat again when we return to the states. Praise the Lord!I'm writing this from the plane as we are flying over the beautiful land of Kenya. When we got up in the air, I looked down at the houses and started to realize that this place looks a lot like America. It's not really that different from up here - now, there's no pools in the backyards like when you're flying over Grapevine and Southlake, but these people have homes and yards just like us. what a beautiful picture of the way God sees us from His seat in heaven! To Him, we are all just alike. There are no countries and divisions - no race or color. But yet He made us so uniquely, and the divisions in our world are merely consequences of our sinful behavior. Individuality is created by the Almighty Lord - race and ethinicity is created by man and his sin. If we look at other cultures ina condescending manner, it's not completely that we are criticizing God's creation, but fueling the fire of man's sin and giving credit to a belief system not ordained by the Father Himself.We are all unique and very individual, but everywhere we go, whether it's to the suburbs or halfway across the world, people are all the same. What a lesson I've learned and hope to retain for the rest of my life, because I have not done very well thus far. And like I said before, it's so amazing to be here and experience Africa again. The people are amazing, and I can't wait to join the Lord wherever He is working today.

Nairobi - Day -1

(This is from our first night in Nairobi, but Hunter just now emailed it to me...so I'm posting now)

I am sitting in my room at Resurrection Garden, our first overnight stop on Africa 2006. It has been quite an experience already, and we are preparing for an early 4:45a rise tomorrow to make our flight to Yei, Sudan. Things of which I am confident:
1. God is sovereign.
2. He's got big plans.
3. Satan is furious.
We have a most incredible team and have been traveling with another group from IBC going to Rwanda. Upon leaving Dallas, we had 16, then sent two straight to Mombasa for a six-week stay. Tomorrow nine of us will head to Sudan and five will go to Rwanda. Within the Rwanda team are three people who will be ever so obscurely going into Congo for two days to research the women who are being raped and beaten just for being of the female gender.

We are surrounded by heartbreaking stories in all these countries, and we have a heart to go on a mission trip to carry the Lord's cross and unconditional love to those who do not know. Yet what we tend to lose sight of is the fact that these people are faced with travesties each and every day of their lives. To them, past, present and future are all one in the same. Hope for tomorrow is as bleak as the suffering they endured today. I am very confident that God has called me to this place, to serve Him as a member of this team. What I've realized today is that I have quickly been caught up in the "ministering for two weeks" mindset, while this is an eternal battle for the Kingdom.

Of what I am most thankful is the strength and power of the Kingdom itself, which beholds within it beautiful and perfect creations in the children of God. On Day 3 (this is Sunday, right?), we have already laughed heartily together and even cried tears of joy and a few of fear, not to mention the fact that we have all said something drudgingly ridiculous and simple, been yelled at by the operator of the underground tunnel in London (What the heck do you think you're doing??...Mind the flaming doors!!!), met intriguing and interesting individuals on the plane, discussed in depth how our digestive system is greatly disrupted when in Africa, and taken numerous embarrassing pictures in order to capture the glorious memories of each day.

I walked back to my room alone from the prayer garden (yes, it's a silent prayer garden - we're staying with nuns), and I was greeted by beautiful smiles of the precious African children. We shared greetings of "Jambo" and "Habari", and as I walked away, I could hear them giggling and laughing and sharing quiet secrets about the "mizungu". I wish that I could put into words what it is like being back here...back in Africa. I think it's "Africa" that I missed - maybe it's just being back in an area that holds a most passionate and special place in my heart. Regardless, when we were driving through Nairobi, I leaned over to Hunter (teammate) and said "It feels so right being back." Being a former Africa visitor himself, he readily agreed, and things haven't been quite the same since. I was in my room thinking "If I could just get over the shower thing...could I make it here?"

But that is God's department - not mine. If He wants me here, well...yeah.

In the mean time, we must prepare ourselves to go out and fight the principalities of darkness and evil and win souls over for eternity. Ready to fight with us? It's so obvious that Satan is fearful of the victories that are going to be accomplished these next two weeks (which will result in plentiful victories going forth), as there are a few prayer requests that could be shared:
1. Alicia is very homesick, as this is her first trip and she left two sick kids at home. Please pray for God's peace and confidence over her.
2. Natasha is not feeling well, but is slowly improving. Please pray fast healing for her body.
3. Sarah is swelling from the flights - at first it was just ankles, but it is moving up her legs with no noticeable improvement. Please pray this is resolved very quickly.
4. Dawn's bags did not arrive - they are still in London and might not ever make it to Sudan in time. Lucky for her, she's traveling with six other women who can share the apparel wealth, but this is quite a discouragement for her, as the comforts of home are not available to her.

All in all, these may sound like petty requests, but we know that this is Satan trying to rob of us joy and plant seeds of discouragement. We know that the Lord is sovereign, and we are confident in His victories. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Schedule for Monday: Amy, Rhonda and Natasha head to Harvesters to be at the orphanage and school. Debbie, Kathleen, Dawn, Sarah, Bill and Hunter will be at the Women's Empowerment Center with ALARM leading a women's pastoral conference. Please pray safe travels for us and for the women coming to the conference. Pray for protection over our team, the orphans, students and staff at Harvesters, and for us to submit to the Almighty guidance of the Lord.

Thanks for all of your prayers - I love all of you and look forward to sending more updates. Blessings abound!

"Now to Him, who is able to do exceedingly abundany beyond all we could ever hope for or imagine." Eph 3:20

Day 2

I'm sitting on my bed underneath my mosquito after a long and rainy day. The kids are absolutely precious. PRECIOUS. They hang all over you and every now and then make their way to touch your face after wiping a runny nose and making mud pies with their hands. Needless to say, we carry around antibacterial gel and wash our hands LOTS (not to mention washing our feet 3x day as to prevent worms getting on our feet).

Grace Asuba and Sarah Lilly have been following me around today. Sarah will run up and start saying her name over and over just so you can remember, and Grace will quietly walk up and sit beside and take my hand in hers and sit for as long as I will continue to just rub and scratch her back. They're orphans, but they're just like the rest of the kids in the world. They want love just like the rest. They may not wear underwear sometimes and they may run through mud puddles when asked not to, but unlike you and I, their only comprehension of a parent is our Heavenly Father, and every morning at 6:30am, they rise and attend chapel so all 110 orphans can lift praises to their Father.

Today Lilly and I had a meeting and did "work stuff" and I just followed her around as "Mama's assistant". I had to watch her turn away two children (we need room for children who have no caretakers at all...these did) and we drove out to the airstrip to pick up supplies that were shipped from the States. Guna rode with us, while Rhonda and Natasha stayed behind to sit in on the school classes and shadow Christina in order to learn curriculum and administration the school must follow.

It's been a pretty incredible day - my shower is a hose and a drain and my pillow is much flatter than the luxury fluffiness I'm used to, but God is good. He is moving and shaking around here and we've got stories and stories to tell. Each child, each staff person, each volunteer...they've all got beautiful stories of God's saving grace and redeeming love. I'm so glad that my story includes the life of these children, as they have nothing, but will tell you that they are the most fortunate children in all the world.

It's a beautiful story. It's a most precious life. Thank you Lord for the beauty and uniqueness of your creation...

Playing with the Kids

Praying for the babies

No other word but heartbreaking. I have been following Lilly around this morning and taking it all in – trying to grasp in my shallow limitations just what a day entails at Harvesters. After returning from the school and checking on the students' lessons, we were walking towards the main gate and observed two women entering the compound with one of the women carrying a small bundle in her arms.

Upon approach, the blanket covering the small bundle revealed the frail and lethargic baby of 10 months – a tiny baby boy named Juba. Six days ago, his mother died of yellow fever and hadn't been able to breast feed this baby for months. His round belly was protruded from dehydration and he was struggling to just keep his eyes open, much less lift his head and take in the world around him. Absent from him was any sparkle in his eyes, but surrounding him was the threat of continued famine and possible upcoming death.

Following discussion with the women in Juba Arabic through an able translator, we walked the two women and Juba over to His Merciful Hand Clinic to visit our nurse, Auntie Kelly. One brief glance revealed to her that this was a very very sick baby, so she prepared a bottle with formula for the sister and grandmother and led them through steps to care for the baby, with the translator once again in order.

She picked him up and sighed as she muttered, "oh sweet one, you're just bones." She weighed him and handed him back to the sister, and reality began to set in for them all. Mama has no room for this baby.

She doesn't have enough help to care for the babies, because in this country, the housemothers aren't able to care for many babies due to lack of education, experience, and mere ignorance of the needs. Harvesters is the only orphanage that takes babies. When I asked where the nearest orphanage was that took babies, she said that there was none. The nearest orphanage only takes children four and over. Maybe there's something in the North, but Harvesters is the oasis of refuge for sick children throughout Southern Sudan…especially for sick babies. Some days, four housemothers will walk away leaving Lilly and Kelly to care for all the babies. But the grandmother and sister listened intently as to care for Juba as best they could. Mama whispered to me that sometimes they take care, other times nothing changes. Kelly offered for them to bring him back each week for more formula, but she weighed him first to make sure that they were feeding him formula and not selling it for cash in place of his life. As they walked away, Lilly looked at me and said "We have no choice, as there is no care, but what can we do but pray?" You see, there's no good help here because they are uneducated and sometimes selfish. So what can you do but pray? We could send thousands and thousands of dollars, but with no one worthy of the payment, who can care for the babies? So we must pray. Funds are important, but without prayer, what can we do? How good is a caring heart without a desire to submit to the throne the greatest requests of His most precious children?"

When Lilly asked me what I thought, there was nothing I could do but stand there in silence, and two tears rolled from the corner of my eye and if I said a word, I would have burst into sobs. But what choice is there? No room and no help, so pray. Pray for abundance and pray for miracles, because God promises that He will not forsake His children, for He said to "let the little children come unto me. Forbid them not, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 9:13-15

Juba was a little piece of heaven. Juba still is a little piece of heaven…if we pray.

And as we watched them walk away, two more men walked in looking for a place to send their nine-year-old nephew. And what can you say, but pray?

"…for inasmuch as you have done unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40



The time has arrived – tomorrow is the big day. The Lord says go, so I go.
It’s Sudan or bust!

What an amazing year it has been. I look back on the past 12 months, starting nearly a year ago when I was in Mombasa on my first overseas mission trip. God has moved so mightily in my life, and I am so thankful for each and every miracle He has so beautifully created in such detailed and yet such big-picture aspects.

At times this trip has felt like my Gethsemene – in the garden, Jesus left saying “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” He knew what was ahead – it wouldn’t be easy, and in today’s vernacular, it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride. But Jesus knew the steps His Father was asking of Him – to go blindly in faith and in obedience, not knowing what was ahead, but knowing that His Father’s glory was on the line. Tonight, as I sit in the quiet stillness of my living room and am counting the hours until I can take in the plentiful shining stars of Sudan (away from the city stars and lights of downtown Dallas), I accept this next step as my Gethsemene.

The next two weeks are not going to be easy and they are not going to be comfortable. I will be asked to sacrifice myself and my desires for the sake of His kingdom. For the sake of His plan, I must stop looking at today and start looking towards eternity in the eyes of His creation – sweet orphans of all shapes and sizes, American staff who have all sacrificed the comforts of which we are all so accustomed and committed to the Kingdom, and staff, students, and teachers from the village who have suffered the effects of a tragic civil war and still long to serve an unconditional and loving Father.

So who am I to put Amy first? This is His mission and His treasure, and we pray that His purposes are accomplished. Tomorrow I step out of the gate of Gethsemene and towards a promise of His eternal rewards. When Jesus made the decision to hang on the cross for you and me, it was not a decision of personal reward for Himself, but of eternal glory and peace for wretched sinners like you and me. Tomorrow our team leaves the garden not seeking personal reward, but righteousness and salvation for those who yet do not know. It’s not going to feel good and it’s probably going to be a little bit scary, but if obedience and faith were all about warm fuzzies and butterflies, His death would no longer matter and the cross would be meaningless.

Welcome to the Garden. Step out of the gate.


Saying Goodbye to Stella

There comes a point in one's life when we must let go of the things we love. Sometimes those things are to be lost forever...other times they are replaced. Today I took the step and let go of sweet Stella. We had been through so much together, and yet it was time.

Stella came into my life a little over a year ago and changed my world dramatically. I was less frivolous in my daily decisions and developed a new confidence. She was there to comfort me when I was sad, embraced me when I was frustrated, and took me places that I had never been before. She welcomed my friends and loved ones with open arms and didn't discriminate in her love and affection of others. She was more than I could have ever hoped for and will always hold a very special and endearing place in my heart.

Today I said goodbye. Today I let go, as I found something greater...something more meaningful.

Stella has a new home in Fort Worth and is under the care of Christopher Tootle and the staff at Moritz Kia of White Settlement, Texas. I know they will be able to love her and care for her far more than I ever could and provide new and very loving parents. Goodbye forever, Stella...I will never forget you. I would say that I hope to see you someday, but pending an unlikely trip towards the west half of the Metroplex, it probably isn't going to happen. Farewell, my friend... [Exit Stage Right Stella]

[Enter Stage Left Silverstone Charcoal Passat]
Welcome newcomer - a world of exploration, adventure and endless possibilites await us. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life (for the next 14 months or so...).

World, please meet my new friend and travel guide. Like Stella, she has entered my life unnamed, and is calling upon your assistance. I would like to open the floors in request of a name for my new companion. You see, Stella earned her name. She was intrepid, dangerous, relentless and fast. Stella was named after Charlize Theron and her Mini-Cooper in
The Italian Job, due to their desire for adventure and SPEED. The letters of Stella's name also come from an alternate arrangement of those letters found in silver jetta, appropriately.

My charge to you is this: give Silverstone Charcoal Passat her new name and set her free from the chambers of anonymity.


Guacamole and Fat French Fries

That's all I want, really...a man who will eat guacamole and fat french fries. I believe that it comes down to that.

The two most important things in life:
Fajitas: I don't eat the guacamole - I like the sour cream.
French fries: I don't eat the fat fries - I delight in the baby crispy ones.
Is that too much to ask? Really...a man whose eating habits complement mine?

I could make a list of all the things I want - spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, mentally, socially - it would be a glorious list sending me on a lifelong quest pursuing satisfaction and fulfillment in a mate. I could situate my life and my desires in such a matter that finding a husband with all those qualities would be my driving force each morning when I awake. I could even attend numerous "singles" functions at a church where 50% of the 20,000 member congregation is also single. Maybe I could even join a blogring where I can express my innermost secrets and desires in hopes that my vulnerability will take the game of dating and getting to know one another much faster and eliminate any chance of being hurt too much or too quickly. Ha! Can you imagine going to such lengths just to find a man???

I've heard of other crazy things that could be attempted if you have found yourself in a desperate situation...

  1. I think I could buy the perfect outfit for that one brief moment in church when I just might run into a person of interest for 3.2 minutes and display the confidence that exudes from the wearing of said new outfit.
  2. I think I will set aside every Thursday night for the next 18 months in hopes that "the one" might show up and be interested in my coffee drink of choice, as it exemplifies my independence and consistency, yet willingness to try new things.
  3. In addition, I plan to make it to the salon promptly every 5 weeks for a cut and highlight at $100 a pop, spend $40 a month and 10 hours a week in the gym, purchase monthly mani/pedi combos of $30, and resign myself to endless and exorbitant hours of skin care and makeup application, most likely ensuring the physical attractiveness someone of the opposite sex might find particularly magnetic.
  4. Lastly, I will do something wholesome and fortifying and immerse myself in self-improvement books, women's Bible studies, and life-purpose classes, devoting countless hours to the matters of the heart and mind in preparation for the day I come upon a man who satisfies the 50-item list of qualities I desire in a man, when I can only hope and pray that I, in turn, am ready to meet him.
Ridiculous. I would never do such a thing...go to such lengths just so you can sacrifice your own personal wants and desires for someone else? Laughter engulfs me ~

I know what I want, so just consider this my advertisement in the personals section:

Wanted: SM who enjoys guacamole and fat french fries to spend his life with a SF who has already consumed all the sour cream and small crispy french fries in her life. Ironing capabilities desired. Must love dogs, jalapenos, and scary movies. Others need not apply.

Disclaimer: While I discredit the behavior of such 21st century singles, I too have and continue to succumb myself to the daily tasks detailed above in pursuit of such desires. It's a tough road out there - encouragement to you all in your ardent pursuits of glory.

"...'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord..." Jeremiah 29:11