happy viente cinco de mayo

•May 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today is my precious boyfriend’s 25th birthday. It has not been a good day. I’m telling you, personal stress can spill over into your relationship like SNAP! I’ve realized that communication is the key to a relationship, but even still you can miscommunicate yourself at times.

It was one of those situations that was like “what do you want to do for your birthday?” …. “oh, I really don’t care. I’ve never really celebrated birthdays and I don’t really wanna do anything.” So, I continue to ask, we throw around a couple of ideas but still nothing set, and on the day of his birthday (today), he expected me to have something planned because I was supposed to be able to “mind-read.” Wait… say what? Isn’t that what the girl is supposed to say? (babe, I know you’re reading this, and I’m totally not calling you a girl, but just merely explaining that I didn’t expect it.)

So, boy did I feel like a lousy girlfriend (and still do as we speak). However, the birthday cake is baking in the oven while Drew is golfing, so that’s why I’m blogging. Anyway, I started thinking about the expectations that we put on other people. We don’t say what we mean, we speak in code, and we expect others to decipher our unspoken language. Wouldn’t we all just be happier if we would just shoot ’em straight?

It made me think of the conversations we have with God. Sure, He is all-knowing  and knows what you will say even before you will speak it, but doesn’t Philippians say that you should submit your requests to God? It’s so important that we speak straight with God. Forget the Christian jargon, spare yourself from the repetitious hallelujahs and glories, and just get real with your conversation with Jesus. Tell God what’s up in your life.  It will strengthen your relationship and your communication.

Happy birthday, Drew. I love you very much. Next year, I’ll plan something spectacular, because I’ll probably have a full-time job and be a serious breadwinner. 🙂

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jesus + books + relationships = nonexistent

•May 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

Why aren’t there any good dating devotional books out there? I can’t find a single good one, and I searched for over an hour at Barnes and Noble and Books a Million.

Aren’t there authors out there willing to help couples who legitimately want a  healthy, spiritual relationship? If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!

shocked

•May 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Reverse Culture Shock.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was assured that I would encounter some form of it. I never forgot what America was like when I left it. I didn’t forget that gas is over $2.00, that our food is significantly more expensive than the Cambodian fruit stand, or that we have big malls with tons of stores (although I did flip out a little when I walked in Forever 21, but that was just sheer excitement). All those things didn’t shock me upon arriving. I’ve been mostly disturbed by one thing: the people. and more specifically, Christians.

When you withdraw yourself from a negative environment for half a year, you don’t recognize the affect it has on your life until you re-enter that environment. It purges the impure and plants seeds of good in your soul. I don’t want to re-assimilate to the American Christian’s habits. They are as un-Christian as you can get.

I’ve been shocked by people, some of my good friends even, who have a big problem with holding their tongues. They boast about the volunteer work they do with the poor, serve as leaders in the church, feel that they are intellectually more correct about “the way” and talk their way to the top with their peers. The problem with this, is that there is bad fruit in the  mix. Because out of the same body that commits himself/herself to these virtuous acts, gossip and hateful words flow from their tongues. Is it you? Maybe you’re sitting there justifying why you feel it’s “ok” to say the things you do because “you would say it to their face if they were standing in front of you”, but it doesn’t make it right. Even the little comments are unnecessary, harmful and definitely not a reflection of the words of Jesus.

It reminds me of the love chapter in Corinthians. It lists great and seemingly virtuous spiritual acts that a man can do, but it says because he is without love, everything he does lacks substance and meaning. I’ve been broken over people here and some of my friends because they have great intellectual minds, great hearts that desire to do good, and even a passion and fire for God, but they have been blinded to notice their own fallenness. My opinion of my friends is drastically shifting because of the lack of love weighed by their words. I’m no better than you. I stumble. I fall, but this is something that has caused my heart to break but my spirit to recognize. I’m trying to be more considerate with my words. To uplift and encourage rather than tear down and destroy.

I’m not going to ramble on any further, but I’m going to give you a list of scriptures so that it’s not me anymore. It’s the undeniable truth from the word of God. I challenge you to think about what you say. Is it helping or hindering? Even if you would say it to someone’s face, is it loving?

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit”

-1 Peter 3:10

“There is great power in the tongue, and it can minister either life or death.”

-Proverbs 18:21

“Bitter and sweet waters cannot come from the same well.”
-James 3:10-12

“By our words we shall be justified, and by our words we shall be condemned.”
-Matthew 12:36-37

“We are to be an example in speech (see 1 Timothy 4:12), even as Jesus Christ “did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again …”
-1 Peter 2:21-23

lee-hi.

•May 1, 2009 • 1 Comment

Tonight, the kids at our orphanage threw me a going away ice cream party. I don’t know that I’ve faced anything harder in my life than what I’ve done tonight, and I know it’s only going to get worse. Saying goodbye is tough. But saying goodbye to people who have adopted you as family and who you have adopted likewise is the most difficult experience.

These children below you have seen pictures of before, but they hold a special place in my heart. They are my brothers and sisters. They have brought joy to my life in my days of being here and been a big part of the reason for coming. They are young, but they are being raised in a home that teaches them Christian values. They will be the future missionaries of Cambodia, the light of Christ to the villages and to the darkened religion of Buddhism that so oppresses this country. They prayed over me before I left, and it was choking to hold back the tears. I didn’t want to cry in front of them. I was strong. I got in the car, and tears trickled down my cheeks. I love them with my whole heart and they know it.

“I’m coming back as soon as I can get the money saved up,” I said to the girls. And they made jokes about me being a beggar on the streets of America….a sense of humor in the middle of sadness. The clung to me all night. I don’t think there was a moment that I didn’t have arms wrapped around me. I have been inundated with drawings they’ve given me. Until tonight, it was only the girls, but at the party, two of the boys had drawn me pictures, too. I always wanted a big family. I hated being a family of four, because it’s square and boring, but now I have a family of 30-something just living 20-some hours away from me.

There is a song that we sing, “Cambodia for Christ”, and I know that Jesus really loves Cambodia. One day, this country will be a country completely for Christ, and these children will be the generation that changes it all. lee-hi, kids. knyom sra line nah.

gracias, amiga

•April 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

Lately I’ve found myself uber emotional. I want to cry at the brink of any moment. Last night, I dreamt of being at home. In my dream, I hated it. I was distraught, disturbed and screaming to come back to Cambodia. I can’t deny that a piece of my heart is being left in this country. Today at the children’s home, the girls were just pouting about my leave, asking when I will come back, telling me to stay. Each day that I go to tutor them, I get a new set of pictures they’ve each drawn for me. They’re really very beautiful. I hope to come back within a year’s time. I don’t want time to go by too fast without seeing these girls.

Sen, one of our staff workers at the children’s home, looked at me and said that he thought God would bless me more than him for coming over and bearing the burden of Cambodia in order to help the people. He just went on and on about how much they loved me and appreciated what I have done.

It dawned on me… I never wanted them to thank me.

In the US, I would do things and expect someone to thank me for what I’ve done. Sure, it’s the polite thing to do, but why do we think we deserve gratitude from people? We all do it. We get upset when we do things for others, and they don’t recognize us for it. Being in Cambodia has taught me how to genuinely do things for people and never expect a receipt for gratitude. Because when you serve others with the full love of Christ, it is a sacrificial, selfless love that cannot be matched.

Be encouraged by this scripture from Philippians 2:14,

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

“mama”

•April 27, 2009 • 1 Comment

It’s just getting harder to leave. Every day it’s getting closer to Saturday. I refuse to pack my belongings, I don’t even think of saying goodbye yet, I don’t want to do my lasts, I just want to treat each day like every day before. Maybe I’m in denial, but you just can’t understand how tough it is.

Today, after I finished tutoring the kids at the orphanage, Matt (the director of the orphanage) was in a meeting so I went upstairs to spend time with the girls like I always do. I love the younger ones, they’re all around 10 years old. They’re so playful and fun, but their English isn’t quite conversational yet. Two of the girls can carry on a good conversation with you, and today we spent two hours just talking about everything. We joked around, we talked about boys, we talked about America. It makes me sad because the girls want to be adopted. They want to have a family and live well. They’re treated like a big family at the home, but there’s something so personal about your own small family.

In Cambodia, Americans cannot adopt Cambodian children, unless of course, you’re Angelina Jolie. I understand part of their reasoning, but it hurts me for the ones that really need a home. For our children at the home, the goal is to raise them to be leaders in the body. Sreimom even told me today that she wants to be a missionary and travel the world. She’s 14 years old and could model for Vogue if she was ever discovered. They truly are being discipled at the home, and if we were to take them to America, they would not be effective ministers of the Gospel in Cambodia.

Today, I told all of the girls I was leaving. Their faces broke my heart. One threw her arms around me and said “please take me with you.”  I just held back tears, knowing that I couldn’t yet let myself go. I’ve really bonded with them. One of the little ones doesn’t let anyone touch her…but me. I’ve built trust with her, and now she climbs all over me whenever I’m around. They all plopped themselves in the floor of their room and drew me pictures. Every one of them wrote the words “I love you” on each picture. The boys and girls have all asked me to stay and be their ”Mama”. That would entail me marrying Matthew, who is better known as “Papa”, which chances of that happening are slim to none, however the children just don’t quite understand. (SIDENOTE: Matt is a GREAT guy, and all the single ladies out there willing to live on the mission field should contact me if interested. He’s 32 and a big kid!) Sreilin, one of the girls, actually told me today that she wanted to intentionally wreck my current relationship so that I could be free to marry Matt. It was hysterical.

Anyway, the arrival day is getting closer, and I am not looking forward to leaving. At least I can leave knowing that to some girls, I was looked up to as their mama for a little bit.

buzz lightyear’s words of wisdom

•April 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The days are trickling by. Some slow, some fast. I guess it’s not too bad. I’ve been helping out at our orphanage lately. The kids are learning to read (in English), and some needed some extra help. Yep, that’s my job. Personal tutor. They’re smart. All of them. They just need a little more attention. They’re so cute because they always yell the words… ” AT! CAT! SAT! RAT! BAT!” And their accents… oh my, they are just so cute. I want to take them home with me so badly, but I know they’re at that age where it would be hard for them to go to a place like America and adjust.

Adjusting. I fear it. I’ve heard that culture shock once back from a country is worse than the arrival. Yeah, I’d say that I’ve grown quite accustomed to this slow paced, personal, relational, chaotic way of life. And the chaos, I love it. I was talking with a friend of mine about the chaos of a third world country. We literally learn to thrive off of it, and when things are in order, we’re bored. We’re miserable. We’re unable to adapt to an environment of normalcy. I hate that word, really. Normalcy. It’s such a relative term, solely depending on social norms of the culture. But what I mean is normalcy of the American way.

Our way is wrong in so many ways. I’ve learned how arrogant, impersonal and selfish we can be. Our views on Christianity is a joke. I don’t know a percentage, and I’m just assuming from what I’ve seen for 23 years of my life, but I’m ashamed of the way that most Christians present Jesus to others. We’re known more for our rules than our relationship. Ridiculed for our radical faith rather than respected (in a sense that many “holy rollers” push people away from Christianity, when the way of Christ’s love could draw them in). Why does radical have to be a 24 hour prayer service with people falling out in the spirit? Why can’t it be radical generosity? Radical love?

I’m fearing this adjustment. To my home culture. I want to change it, and I want to revolutionize the way that Christianity speaks to the people. It has been detrimentally displaced, and I want to work to fix it. Mother Teresa said that you don’t have to hit the masses, just do one person at a time. If that’s what it takes. Line ’em up. I refuse to ever be discouraged and allow the world’s antagonism slow me down from being an explosive embodiment of Christ’s character to the entire world. To infinity and beyond.