Monday, May 16, 2011

Angry Birds

Remember my last post? About how God had been sending all these beautiful little birds to our yard and how happy it made me? Well.... this is  quite the follow up post! Go ahead and get ready to laugh (at my expense!)

It all started around 7am. This incessant knocking that sounded like someone was on my roof trying to get in.

Now let me just say, that if this knocking woke me up - it was LOUD. Friends, I can sleep through just about anything.... tornadoes... earthquakes.... a train coming through my living room. In college I almost missed a midterm one semester because I slept through 4 (yes FOUR) alarm clocks! So trust me when I say that anything that can wake me up and keep me awake at anytime before 10am is pretty flippin' loud.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

His Eye is on the Sparrow...

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
 ~ Matthew 6:25-34

This scripture has always spoken to me. I come from a long line or worry-ers, and it's taken years to attempt to break the habit. Actually, it's something I still struggle with sometimes, and have to remind myself not to do! We live in a world that sells FEAR - on every news channel, in every newspaper headline, and with every advertisement of safer cars, better insurance, and new drugs. It takes reminding ourselves (every day) that God is in control of our lives, and we are supposed to TRUST HIM, instead of worrying about every little thing.

For me, that reminder often comes in the form of a bird. Call me silly, but whenever I see a sweet little bird hopping around in the grass, or looking at me from the branch of a tree, I feel a wave of peace. I'm able to smile - remembering that God is near, and that He has not forgotten me. And it's a good thing too, because I tend to take crazy leaps of faith like starting a non-profit in the middle of an economic recession, or taking a job as a support raised missionary, or moving to far away places "because God said to" without knowing where I'll live or how we'll make ends meet. In the midst of "leaping" like Rusty and I do - it's nice to be reminded that God will always catch us before we hit the ground.

So, imagine my delight when, the day after we returned home from Thailand, we were greeted by a tree FULL of these little fellas!

I have never seen even ONE of these bright yellow birds in our yard in the 2+ years we've lived in Michigan.... but on this morning, there were 10 or 11 of them perched in our trees! I was delighted when I saw the first one...but when 10 of his friends joined him Rusty and I were in awe. Aren't they pretty!?

Then, a few days later I saw this happy little bluebird in our back yard. He was BEAUTIFUL and I was completely taken by him. This picture cracks me up because of how puffed up he was as he was checking me out - he looks like he's got some attitude! Like, "Yeah, I see you lookin' at me. You may be big, but I can take you!" haha!

When I realized he was living in our little birdhouse later that week, I was thrilled! Now I get to see him all the time!

You may think this post is silly, but in the midst of struggle and sacrifice - as we continue to do everything in our power to make The Sound of Hope successful for the precious kids we care for overseas - these little birds are a blessing. It means so much for me to feel God's presence reminding me, "If I can take care of these little birds, then Baby Girl - I've got YOU!"

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Re-entry. It's a difficult thing.... finding yourself dropped back into your "normal" life, after several months of living a very different (anything but normal) life. You go from a different climate, culture, language, food (and the list goes on and on and on) back to everything you're used to at home.

I've done this thing before - re-entry - twice after trips to Africa and once after a trip to India. But this time was very different. For one - I was gone twice as long as I've ever been out of the country. And the other big difference is - this time I'm married! I didn't come home to my family waiting at the airport, or my roommates (who'd kept things going while I was gone) - Rusty and I came home to a house that had been empty and life that had been at a standstill.

100 days of being gone means a lot of messes to clean up. Our cars had been sitting un-used through the Michigan winter, and mine had to go to the shop for $240 worth of repairs before it would work again. Then when we got it back, we had to take Rusty's car for repairs. We had a collection agency calling us for some bill from 2009 (turns out it was a big mistake made by a very unprofessional hospital.... but still it was QUITE the hassle!) There are bills to be paid everywhere we turn, and the cost of living is much higher than it was in Thailand. Here in Michigan, the cheap gas is $4.29 a gallon! And did I mention we were dealing with all this in rainy, miserable 39 degree weather? *sigh.

It would be easy to be grumpy and have a bad attitude right now. It would be easy to see all the "negatives" and wish we were back in the gorgeous sunshine of Thailand - laughing with our friends and living the exciting life of a world traveler.

- BUT -

The truth is, in spite of these bills and mini-disasters here, we are surrounded by BLESSINGS! Re-entry may be difficult, but it also gives you a brand new perspective on the details of your life that were once just common place. I'd forgotten how much I love our little rental home, with all it's big windows letting in tons of gorgeous natural light.... and the way sunsets look from our bay window. I'd forgotten how many beautiful things we have in our home.... items that may not be worth much but that are OURS - photographs, paintings, and keepsakes- and how they hold so many happy memories. I'd forgotten how it feels to be in a place where I picked out the curtains and the bedding and the home decor, and how it makes my living space peaceful and personal.

I never realized how comfortable our (very old) pillowtop mattress felt, until I slept on a corn husk mattress full of bed bugs. I'd forgotten what a blessing it was to be able to drink water right out of the tap, and to know it is clean and safe. I didn't understand what a treat it was to have a cell phone I could call my family on anytime of the day (instead of being 12 hours off with the time difference in Thailand). I forgot what it was like to have flowers and bunnies and bluebirds in my back yard, instead of a Burmese squatter camp out my apartment window.

These are little things, it's true....but we are finding ourselves overwhelmed with gratitude because of them!

Yes - it will still take a little while before we are fully re-adjusted. We still have to remind ourselves not to speak Thai.... not to drive on the left side of the road (or get in the car on the wrong side).... not to take off our shoes outside the door.... and that we can flush our toilet paper instead of having to throw it away. It still seems odd to be in a grocery store that is familiar, with ENGLISH labels on everything, and to have a refrigerator full of our favorite foods.

And I know the sadness is going to hit us - when we begin to be "homesick" for Thailand and it really sets in that we cannot see the children, or our partners there, or do any of the things we loved. But for now - we are just reveling in the little blessings, and trying to take every opportunity to thank God for the wonderful things He has given us! It's amazing how a change of perspective can improve your life!

What have you remembered to be thankful for lately?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


When we got off our long (and rather miserable) flight from Thailand on Thursday afternoon and got in the car to head to Port Huron, I did what I always do.... I called my mom.

We were tired and jet-lagged, and thrilled to be on the GROUND after almost 20 hours straight of turbulence. I just wanted to check in with my family and let them know we had landed.... and maybe "vent" a little to my mom about the horrible flight we'd just endured. But I wasn't ready for the news she had for me.

"A tornado hit Alabama," she said, "and it's bad. Actually, it wasn't just one tornado - they don't know how many there were. They just kept dropping out of the sky.... It was HORRIBLE! We're all fine, but the damage is bad. It hit Piedmont, and Cullman, and several other areas, and..... TUSCALOOSA IS GONE."

Now, say what you want to about the Auburn/Alabama rivalry and how much we hate each other if you will.... I have certainly made my share of nasty comments about the U of A and how much I detest even traveling through the city of Tuscaloosa. But when my mother made that statement, all I thought about were my friends there - my old roommate Caroline, my mission partner Jenny, my brother's girlfriend Michelle, our friends and supporters The Millers, and all my friends from my Miss Alabama Pageant days. I felt like my heart was in my throat.

"What do you mean GONE?!" I asked. "It's just gone baby," Mom said, "You wouldn't believe the damage. There are 158 people dead and hundreds more missing. You just need to pray."

I was in shock hearing the news that my state, my Sweet Home Alabama, had been destroyed... but I didn't really understand the devastation until I saw the pictures. We managed to find a wireless internet connection from our neighbor's house that night (ours had been disconnected while we were gone) and I gasped as I saw the proof. I just couldn't believe the scenes I was seeing could possible be ALABAMA! They looked like something out of a disaster movie!