Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Awkward, Weird, & Interesting from Foreign Lands - There's Always Time For A Bathroom Story

Yes, sometimes the interesting, the awkward, and the weird happens in foreign lands. These things are especially noticeable because they are so 'foreign' to our American sensibilities. These are my outreach teams' experiences, and if any other person was involved, I leave out names for the sake of their safety. This is for my humiliation only. And maybe you can get another sense of being a missionary and evangelism, that it's uncomfortable and can be very funny - in retrospect. These experiences bring people together, form compassion, put stitches of laughter in difficulties, and make unforgettable stories that we cannot help but share! 
Toilet in Uganda called a squatty potty.
All Photos Credit: Outreach Teammates

  • Always, always carry toilet paper in your purse. Public restrooms in many countries don't come with this convenience. Check. You will have difficulty giving some of your precious stash to your troubled teammate when asked, but thoughts of 'if not' bring out your seeming generosity.

  • Diagnosed worms (yup, parasites that come out of the butt when given meds) for a teammate. Check. I only knew by description, not by sight - I promise, but I thought that was pretty cool. I have no medical training. That "Where There Is No Doctor" book is AMAZING! Especially the pencil drawings of anything from parasites to outhouses to poo.
  • Head lice checks. Check.
Need I say more?
    Octopus, anyone?!
  • Ever the observant one, I strategically spooned my soup to avoid the congealed blood squares. Check. My team, however, lacked this skill. None was the wiser. 
  • Back of skirt tucked into waistband after leaving the restroom and probably seen my many. Check. (Disclaimer: I did also have leggings on.) But what's worse, I thought I would have an uncontrollable accident on our way to an open-air evangelism event (before I used previously mentioned incident), so I had to humbly explain to our host that I needed help finding a bathroom immediately upon arrival. To say this to anyone is awkward enough, make that our new host in Thailand - doubly awkward. What would you sacrifice for Jesus, right? All for Him!
    One of the two outfits I had to wear - Ugh!
  • When your bags don't arrive in a foreign country, don't fret. Lower your pride. Your teammate is gracious enough to give you a pair of underwear (yes, new underwear) - Check. Razor - my legs thank you. Skirts to borrow. Your leader will give you permission when you ask to cry - remember you also were so sick you blacked out for a second at your first Ugandan church service and prayed to teleport home every night of that evil sickness! And when you get your bags, your friends can't pick you out because they only knew you by your blue or green shirt for 2 weeks! (Note: I washed my clothing every night - by hand.)
  • Hip Hop dancing in African prisons. Check. We girls asked not to do that one. But no, the hip hop was requested by even the pastors.
  • Sleeping with bed bugs. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Many bites later. DEET is only a bad word in America! I love DEET in other countries!

Do these stir you to laughter...or sympathy? I love to share these, even for laughter's sake and for connecting maybe some of my unwritten experiences with you. I know I have more stories I'm just not remembering now but will be great for another time. And I know people with far more incredible experiences than me! 

Do you have a crazy, awkward, or unbelievable experience to share?

Note: Pics taken by myself and teammates on outreaches.

The One about Thankfulness

Today I reflect on my time so far in the States before I go back to South Africa, and I have to say that I am so very grateful. I could look at how far I still need to go to be able to financially minister in South Africa, but today is not that day. Today I see the sacrifices that my friends and family have made during these 5 years in missions, and that I feel so undeserving but also so very blessed. So here are a few of those blessings as they come to mind. Thank you for being used by God in my life and in His work for God's glory.

  • If you had a pillow, a bed, a couch, or a floor for me to lay my tired head - thank you.
  • A car to travel far and near so that I can see your lovely faces - thank you.
  • Your financial sacrifices so that I can Go and  fulfill the Great Commission - thank you.
  • Flights to far off places with teaming students overflowing with the message to "know God and make Him known" - thank you.
  • All the crazy steps one has to do for the "visa" that allows me into the country - thank you.
  • Electronics so that I can prepare teachings, share what God is doing, and keep in touch with you - thank you.
  • Coffee dates and dinners where my ability to thank you diminished as I left receiving the greater gift, of friendship, prayer covering, and encouragement - thank you.
  • The Word, Worship, Fellowship, and His Presence - thank you for being the Body which He uses to nourish my soul.
A friend recently reminded me of these verses from Philippians 4:14-20 which capture my heart for you:

"Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

Your faith, your work, your help, your family and your friendship are essential to the Life of the Body of Christ and of the fulfillment of the Great Commission!  

Love & Blessings,
Shannon Mintz

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

disclaimer for saving pennies post - don't become a hoarder!

So I got to thinking about my last post, ways to save money, and becoming a conservationist, and I saw how easily one could error in this regard. While it's all well and good to save plastic tubs for leftovers or small plastic bottles to put shampoo in for traveling - this does not mean that you need 50 of them if you really only need 6 bottles for any given vacation (my mom). Or the 100 hundred cardboard boxes in your garage for the packages you mail...if you only mail 20 said packages in a given year, you can feasibly get rid of 80! The key words are Downsize and Simplicity - not more clutter! Physical clutter not only clutters our minds, and if not that (because I do realize to some people clutter isn't clutter...I don't work that way so that's as far as I can go with that thought - but I know those people exist) it will make guests uncomfortable, and the neighbors will talk about your 'hoarder' garage.

Speaking of hoarders, have you ever watched those hoarder shows on tv?! I love these shows - and audibly cringe! I love it because they help people psychologically but also to get rid of stuff and organize. But YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A HOARDER - for your own well-being. I know - I was in a hoarder house once before I ever knew what a hoarder was. And honestly, think about going through your stuff for your kids. I've already talked about this with my mom (who agrees with me), and thank the Lord, she just started going through her boxes of papers (she's not a hoarder, just has lots of papers)!

Just don't be this! Instead watch Hoarders on A&E or for motivation!
Photo Credit: Hoarders via

Another thing that got me thinking about this are websites where people sell stupid stuff (cuz yes, I wasted some time looking at these ridiculous posts the other day). Now garage sales can kinda get away with selling some junk cuz some people come to these to buy junk they will sell at their garage sales next year (you are I are the exception here - we buy 'finds' and 'treasures'). But we don't need to save junk which we see some hidden use for - that we actually would put forth the effort put together that 'thing' for it's 'great use' is fantasy! The too-ripped jeans in the wrong place which you're not going to wear or patch (you better not), throw out - especially if you have 5 pair! You can't (and won't) reuse your broken lamp that's been sitting in the closet for 5 years!

So with these 3 easy to remember, simple steps I think we can be helped from erring:
  1. Don't be a HOARDER.
  2. Get rid of it.
  3. DO IT NOW.
I'm writing this as much for myself as for you. On our altruistic journey to conservation (not really?), let's be nice to our kids, our visitors, our neighbors, and ourselves. Let's take out the trash.

What's your story (while being nice to other people you mention)? Are you a hoarder or just keep too much of something? What is that stupid thing you save for a 'good' reason? What will help downsize and simplify?

Monday, October 10, 2011

how i watch my pennies...roll away less fast (a budding conservationist?)

You may not know, but I like to think that I can do my little bit to help the environment and to conserve less. I am probably spurred on by my lightweight coin purse, and being a missionary, some things can be hard to find and/or can cost more overseas so I'm not completely altruistic. But in today's consumerist society, maybe I can consume less, reuse, recycle, and save a little more. Maybe I can take a little time to wash and reuse, spend a little more on replaceables, and find that my wants are not really my needs. 

I know that I am not an expert, and there are probably a lot more things I should be doing but am not. And you may laugh at the things I do, but you can laugh along with me and adopt a few.

  • So I cut open by facial cleanser container to get every last drop. When your at the end of your shampoo or lotion, turn your bottle upside down into a cup. Store these in ziplock bags to keep between uses.
  • Wash and reuse ziplock bags...unless they are yucky. 
  • Eat your leftovers. Don't let your food spoil. This may take more planning, but think of how much we waste (even if you have to think of 'starving children' - I'm okay with guilt trips).
  • Put the plug in the sick, and run the water faucet less. Learned this in countries where there are water shortages.
  • Downsize and De-clutter. Donate to Good Will/Salvation Army or yard sale the clothes/stuff that you never wear/use. Identify which clothes don't fit well and get rid of them. Save the ones that do fit and make you feel great. Save (even spending a bit more on better quality) for a few items which are essential, can be dressed up or down, and are timeless. Spend less money on items that will be in season and out the next.
  • Shop Second Hand (Good Will, Salvation Army, garage/yard sales), but be educated. Basically, know the going price at Walmart or Target, and have your list of what you NEED so you don't overbuy. You may think you are getting a deal, but many deals add up to big bills.
  • You know the saying, "If it's yellow let it mellow. If it's brown flush it down"? Sounds gross, but think of the gallons of clean water (in the U.S.) you will be saving! Exceptions to this are if it's smelly, you have company, or are staying with friends. :)
  • Patch your jeans. Mend rips and holes. Cut off your outdated dress, and you have a shirt. Okay, that one may take more skill, but mending isn't rocket science and can be done during your less favorite tv show.

This doesn't mean I don't ever have a Starbucks coffee or a meal out (or buy a new shirt), but saving your treats actually makes them treats - they will taste better. These are just a few hints. But if you have a suggestion that you're doing, let me know and comment below!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Shack City

She had three small children and lived in a shack that smelled of pee. All she desired was a job and to stay healthy for her kids. Her oldest girl was in primary school. The littlest scarfed a yoghurt cup with her fingers – no need of a spoon for a hungry tummy. And the middle one’s smile brightened beyond her decaying teeth. Her hugs were given willingly – craving attention and love – probably.

The strangers entered their streets, on timid feet. Noses wrinkling and suppressing dank stenches, eyes wary of discarded items that had never discovered a garbage can. Watching for hostiles who’d want an easy dollar, and searching for those He had called – for He was not immune but responding to their holler.

They stepped out with “hi’s” and met potential eyes with kind and ready smiles, hopeful spirits, and a willingness to obey, they asked, “How are you today?” “Would we be able to pray?” With each “yes” and dialogue of requests their boldness grew and their hearts hurt. They hungered for they knew God’s call for these, the lost, and they understood there were more than a few.

The response was great…“for a job,” “to care for…” “to feed my family.” Basic needs were lacking in the Shack City, but the unspoken yearning was greater as hearts cried, “I need hope to light my dead eyes.” “I need a way out.” “I need a new life.” “I need someone to hear…to answer.” “Why?” “Why do I suffer?” “Why – Is this my lot in life?”

The strangers with timid steps were strangers no longer, but they were partakers in suffering, sharing the burdens – Givers of Life to the Dying and Thirsty. They were companions now to the broken woman and her three dirty but smiling children – never to forget the need for True Life in the destitute Shack City. 

Note: I visited a Shack City near Cape Town, South Africa and saw a glimpse of hopelessness and many do not know True Life. I saw those living in poverty, with no jobs, and little for their families. They live in shack cities, the slums, called “townships” in South Africa. There they live and die. There they laugh and cry and fight and love. There they have needs - to provide for their families and impact their communities. And there they need the transforming Hope of Jesus Christ. 

“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; 
you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, 
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”
~ Psalm 10:17-18 ~

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Teaching on Haggai - God Is The Source of Our Lives (June 1, 2011)

All Photos Credit: SBS Classmate

To Be An Influencer - Causing People to Wrestle With Tough Questions

My Final Application for 1 and 2 King and 1 and 2 Chronicles (March 25, 2011)

My Timeless Truth for the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles is from my Leadership Application for King Jotham of Judah, that Christians are to be influencers, live lifestyles of example, and teach others. My Application for Leadership (Significance to the Contemporary Reader) says, “Be an influencer. Live a lifestyle as an example. Teach people, but also try to go deep so that others, those you disciple and your students, ask the tough questions and wrestle with their struggles and the ‘I know it’ or ‘I’ve known that all my life’ answers – so that they can take ownership of their faith and grow firm foundations.” This comes from 2 Chronicles 28:2, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the LORD. But the people still followed corrupt practices.”

I think that this is a highlight in my life, that is the importance of a Biblical worldview. During a prayer time when people were praying for me, someone said that I lived and upheld a Biblical worldview. The importance of this has been especially emphasized to me during this School of Biblical Studies, along with the importance of understanding and believing the right and true character of God, as I struggle with those painful splinters God has been identifying and pulling out of my foundations during this season of my life. It is a difficult process, but I feel I have recovered from the infectious stage, and healing is taking place. Looking back is easier than living in it, but I am grateful that the changes that happen in me while I come to understand the Truth of God.

I think this is part of the reason why I did The School of Biblical with YWAM Muizenberg, South Africa, to build a better foundation and be more equipped for the future and the opportunities God gives me. In the past I have been given opportunities to share, speak, teach, and preach, in churches, Sunday Schools, youth groups, and schools in the U.S. and on outreaches around the world. I am humbled each time I am asked to teach people older and more knowledgeable than myself. When pastors have taken notes during my sermon, I think, “Really, how did this happen?” But I do consider it a blessing and a responsibility, and that is why I want to be equipped with more Biblical teaching. But each time I learn of someone who isn’t following the Lord anymore, I wonder what happened? What did I do wrong, and what could I have done better? It rips my heart. I know it is that person’s choice. But I ask, “What can I do better to have them wrestle, ask the tough questions, come to understand and come to believe for themselves?” And I think this all stems from teaching them the character of God and a Biblical Worldview (from the Old and New Testaments, whole Bible) in such a way that they have to really THINK and take ownership, not of what I believe, what their parents taught, or what society shows, but each individually.

I don’t know how to do this yet. But it has to do with building relationship and continuing discipleship. For people to pursue learning and asking questions. It has to do with honesty, vulnerability, and accountability, of listening, evaluating, and doing. It really has to do with hearts willing to choose God to transform their hearts. And it allows for mistakes, failure, and motivates them to try again.

The Character of Habakkuk - Habakkuk Final Theme Summary (May 7, 2011)

In the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk, the prophet, cries to God to be heard, for justice for the righteous, and for wickedness to stop. God answers him that the Chaldeans will come to bring destruction. Habakkuk cries again to God, recognizing God’s authority and holiness, but questions why he would use such a wicked nations to judge Judah. Habakkuk is willing to wait and listen for God’s answer. God responds again that the Chaldeans will be judged for their wickedness and the righteous are to live by faith. Habakkuk ends with a prayer pf praise to God, recognizing God as the just judge of wickedness and as merciful bringing salvation. He is to hope and rejoice in God his strength and salvation regardless of his circumstances.

I think that Habakkuk’s intimate relationship with God along with his recognition of God as faithful and unchanging gives Habakkuk the ability to cry to God, to be vulnerable, to complain even, and ask real and honest questions. Through this process and because he was willing to risk difficult questions to God, Habakkuk grew in his relationship with God and his understanding of the character of God. He recognized even more that God is faithful and unchanging, that God is always a just judge to all people regardless of nationality. And sin is still sin whether Judah or Babylon is the culprit. God’s holiness rises to the forefront as God cannot stand sin, but Habakkuk also knows God’s mercy and salvation – Habakkuk has hope because he is God’s anointed. He leans on God’s strength in difficult places. Habakkuk’s character and conversation of prophecy with God is a model to the people of Judah of how to live by faith in difficult circumstances – as the nation of Judah as a whole does not turn away from sin and are judged with the Babylonian siege and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. There may be a remnant few that are righteous and take heed and encouragement from Habakkuk – These are enabled with feet like the deer’s to tread the difficult places.

Jaclyn, Rabo, and James climbing the lower rock hill.
The model of Habakkuk should not be ignored in life today – especially for those who SEE. These are the righteous who life by faith. I am reminded on the first day of our school’s retreat at Volmoed. On our walk back from the waterfalls five of us decided to climb up the hill and rock cliffs to the prayer hut above. Take into account, there was no path. It would be trail blazing and rock climbing. Fun adventure, right? Sure (with a waver in Shannon’s voice). As we angled our way on the lower, easy part, we saw that there was no “safe” way over rocks to the hut, so we decided to head up higher. This “path” would bring us to the top of the rock hill or rather cliff now. As we neared the top we got to only solid rock directly in front of our faces, not where you step one foot in front of the other, but where you climb one hand and foot hold and then another, rock climbing without the ropes, or for a more proper term “bouldering” (for the adventure sports enthusiasts out there). Now at this part, my fellow student Godlisten from Tanzania bounded up just like a baboon (who are the real native sports enthusiasts around) and Jaclyn was agile and quickly angled up in front of me. And there I was…standing…still. “I can’t do this,” I thought. “I don’t know if I can’t do this,” I said. I’m afraid of heights or moreso of falling. It really wasn’t that long or high of a rock climb, but because of the good amount of “hill” we had covered behind us, my fall wouldn’t be 10 feet, but 20 or 30 or more (my mind for accuracy tends to waver in intense, emotional circumstances). So I psyched myself up in my head (you might know what that’s like. It’s when the happy, confident voice takes over). “You can do this, Shannon. If this rock were on the flat ground, it’s only 10 feet or so, and you can do that. That’s a piece of cake.” And I bouldered last summer several times on my friend’s garage wall. So I took a deep breath and placed one hand hold and one foot hold in front of the other. And I made it. It wasn’t so bad. But if any baboons were watching, they knew – I was no baboon or mountain goat – similar to that time my family and I were riding horses in the mountains and one horse balked near the top while navigating rocks and steep ridges with terrifying drops below, and the horse thought, “Wait up here, human, cuz I ain’t no mountain goat.” But that’s another story. Let’s just say normal horses are like normal humans – acting like baboons or mountain goats is a fail.

"We made it!" - James, Jaclyn, Rabo, me, and Godlisten.
Some Photos Credit: SBS Classmates
BUT that is where God comes in. Habakkuk 3:19 says, “God the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” So as we are gazing as the looming mountain or the dangling precipice, we need to trust God for strength and direction. Whatever our difficult circumstances, whether our nation is going down the toilet and wickedness is prevailing like in Judah, or our jobs, our family, our finances, or our relationships, God is there for us when it’s crap and it seems like we cannot find a way or survive.

There can also be a problem if we get to the looming mountain and then realize, “uh oh.” We need to realize that we cannot run to God when we have problems only, but that we need to foster a life of faith. God’s command to Habakkuk as he is surrounded by wickedness is not go out and kill the wicked, but it is “the righteous shall live by his faith” in Habakkuk 2:4.  God is telling Habakkuk that YOU need to live by faith. You need to seek me; you need to follow me; you need to trust me as faithful, unchanging, just, merciful, and loving. This living by faith is an action verb; it is a lifestyle and not just an occurrence during A difficult time. A “fill up” on Sunday or on Easter or Christmas won’t make you good to go for the rest of the week or rest of the year. God is known through his Word, through prayer, through his Spirit. But God does not turn off, and he is not limited to holy and sanctified times, as only as church or only with your Bible. So pursue to get to know the faithful God in your everyday life, with your coffee, in the car, in the shower, and as you lay down to sleep.

God has rock climbing abilities even when I don’t. Maybe it’s just a matter of faith.
Success - Mountain Climb Accomplished!

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Article of an Atheist's Take on Aid in Africa - "Africa Needs God"

I love perusing a variety of online newspapers, magazines, articles, reviews, blogs, and photos from time to time - I am very inconsistent about it. I don't exactly know why I like to read these. Maybe because I love to learn, and I also love sharing the new things I learn with others. I like knowing what's going on around me, and especially what makes people think the way they do.

The most recent blog I read  ( had a link to this article, granted from 2008, but the immensity of an atheist finding value in Christianity, and Christianity in Africa boggles my mind! Jesus Christ is the only true hope and change - to some degree he got it and didn't get it. I don't know if he became a Christian. I'll have to research that, but I pray he does. And I pray his words into a glimpse of True Hope may lead others to challenge their world views and to question their beliefs.

Here's an excerpt:
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But traveling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God. 

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. 

Now off to write my book of Micah assignment.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Leviticus - Unchanging God, Only Reality, Holiness

Leviticus is one of the most impacting books of SBS for me! I loved learning to look deeper as to why God set up these laws for holy living and the sacrificial system. I believe that it has opened up so much more of God’s character to me. I see through my own life that if people only read the New Testament they are not getting the full story – that the Old Testament also IS most essential to the story and is over 75% of the Bible! I hope that others make this same discovery! There is so much more that God desires to reveal about His character, love, and relationship with His people, not only to Israel but to His people today.

Below is a small portion of what I do in SBS - my final theme summary for Leviticus on holiness.

The holiness of God is displayed throughout Leviticus. God shows that His way for the Israelites to follow is DIFFERENT than that of the other nations, Egypt and Canaan. The offerings are specific and detailed, and each animal is perfect and the best. The priest is sanctified and atoned as also the people have to be atoned for. This process and atonement are defined by God and no one else. There are health laws regarding clean and unclean, from food to bodily functions and births, physical diseases and the state of houses and clothing. Uncleanness is not to be spread but eradicated and never near God. God defines the various aspects of society for the Israelites, economy, government, religion, and family. God defines laws for how to live holy for the priests and the common people. None are exempt. Some things such as blasphemy and idolatry have the punishment of death. God sets aside feasts and observances to remember Him, what He has done, and how He has provided. God who is holy gives a warning of blessing if they follow Him and of curses if they do not.

The Israelites are SET APART from the other nations, and chosen by God. This is the definition of holy, to be set apart. Through all of these laws and the sacrificial system, we see that God desires to dwell with His people. So the sacrifices and laws to be clean bring the people into God’s defined holiness and sanctification so that they can have relationship. Through the offerings and even the cleansing of daily life, Israel is reminded of their sin and their need for atonement. They CANNOT do this. God does this alone. This brings them into great reliance on God, in their thoughts and actions every day. As they enter into humility through God does and His dwelling with them, the Israelites are so thankful and worshipful towards God! So their holiness is fully reliant on the act and mercy of God, so also Israel’s holiness is also reliant on being upheld by the community. That is why they have sometimes seemingly harsh laws and thoroughly, painstaking laws! What they do affects one another, and a nation can downward spiral so easily if something is brushed over as permissible, even by omission. Also, God is setting Himself apart from the other nations! He is the only reality they are to know – He is defining true reality, which they do not know, as they only knew pagans gods and cultural practices before, as from Egypt - where they came from. God is holy, and the other nations are not! For God’s people to be holy, they need to fully reject everything of the pagan nations, even so that they do not fall into idolatry again. God is setting up an example to the nations of how to live for and with God, and He is setting them apart to use Israel to bring the full and true sacrifice that makes them holy – the better covenant that stands before the throne of God (from the book of Hebrews).

How could a list of laws, of sacrifices, blood spilt, killing of animals, waving of fat, burning of flesh (animal), do’s and don’t’s, and clean and unclean that we don’t understand be relevant today?! It SO is. Because what I learned this week is that it points to knowing God. It is defining His awesome and Holy character to new depths. He is so beautiful – His care, His desire for His people to know Him, and for Himself to dwell with them. “Jesus is coming but not yet,” He points out, “but you can know me,” He shouts! This God of Leviticus is the same God today – He didn’t change. He was taking care of His people in a rotten world – He was showing by their example, the true way for even the other nations to live. This is still God’s love for His people today! Bringing the healing of Jesus to make an unholy people holy. Only the holy can stand in the Presence of the Holy. I would encourage Christians today to study the Old Testament. Yes, God is God of the New, but He is God of the Old too. Pray for a deeper revelation of the character and nature of God – of who God is! And through that, He will show you how much He desires to dwell among you. (written Feb. 10, 2011)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Inspiration of Melodious Words

 Writing has been a journey for me. When I was in grade school, I remember being encouraged with my writing. In 2nd and 3rd grade class we wrote and illustrated books. But I also remember the difficulty of getting past my mental block (and maybe the emotional one too) of writing well. I think I put too much pressure on myself (do you remember that, Jo?) I also journaled from a young age, and still do today, though I go in spurts sometimes. Over the past 6 years, I've experienced intermittent inspirations to write, including poems. Embarking on missions has brought more writing in the form of newsletters. This has been a chore at times, but also a wonderful process of sculpting my experiences and my heart so that you, the reader and friend, can maybe taste, see, and feel a bit of my journey. 

So for my study of the Bible I write everyday but mostly in formulaic form as in facts, and in observe, interpret, and apply. But the part my brain thrives on is the summaries, whether it is a theme summary or the final application for that book of the Bible. This is where my brain and emotions have the freedom to fly - to process down the winding paths of exploration, to paint the picture, and to describe the texture of the inner workings - of me. And with my weekly Psalms assignments I am able to creatively process, which is so life-giving. Even though this school is rigorous study (and I can't emphasize RIGOROUS enough), I believe God is opening up more of what I love, that is, expression through writing. Prose has been escaping from me more often than ever. I thank God for this privilege to play with wonderful words.

"Words are like a melody to me, like music, like good mouth-watering chocolate, like beauty, to name a few. Words crafted together are an attempt to describe sometimes the unexplainable like a breathtaking vista or the emotional depths of the soul." SM

Click below for a link to a Slate article about what I love - the sounds of words:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Nonsensical Poem About Words

Did I ever say I love my Psalms assignments? It's the one creative outlet I get each week. This is a poem inspired by Psalm 104. As God is glorified in the creation, I thank God for words, even ones strung together with no purpose and no need to make any sense.

A Celebration of Words
(2nd title: An Ode to the Word-Maker)

The fabric of my being,
The melody of my soul,
Plucked, prodded, and pulled
By some unknown whole.

Unsure of who dictates
What – within.
Is the edge of reason the brink of the gale?
Or really just the prime place to begin?

Hackysacks, hamper knacks,
Timing, and shrew –
Gibberish to most
But delight to the few.

A novelty of percussion,
A story of rhyme,
Nonsense is not no sense –
But joy found sublime.

And fashioned after You,
I don’t know where to begin.
You’re the Word that created design
And invented the rhyme.

You captured imagination
On the voice of the wind.
You inspired communication
From Your deity of Three.

You imprinted meaning on words.
You breathed life that gave breath,
So that I might send out a tantalizing tale,
But not for my ears only,
But for others to share.

So gaming and flaming
To crisp for the taming
Is not just noise to You either
And gives no need to decipher.

But that is enough to trouble your mind
As you might consider,
“What’s wrong with this girl?
A poem that makes sense,
Can’t she just deliver?”

So I’ll let you alone
From my first attempts
At the profoundly un-profound world
Of nonsense poems.

This is where delight
Is given in the sheer presence,
The God-given gift –
Of words.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Letter To A Broken Heart

This is my School of Biblical Studies assignment for Psalm 23, to write a letter capturing the characteristics of God in that psalm. I took some poetic and heart license, of course. :)

A Letter To A Broken Heart

Dear Friend,

I am so sorry for the hurt you are going through. I have been through pain, and I know what I have experienced is not the same as you, but the only thing that truly comforted me, to the deepest places of my pain, was God coming alongside me and just being there, saying, “I hurt for what you are going through. Can I help bear the hurt for you and walk with you?”

His question didn’t leave me speechless but dumbfounded. Now he wanted to get involved in my life!?!? Here was GOD “acting” like he cared!?!

The torrential dam of my anger, frustration, and pain broke lose, plummeting him like a flash flood – destructive and dirty were my waters, but still he stood – unmoving against my deluge. I expected a backwash of “I know-it-alls” in return, and instead of the verbal rebuke of God, I heard no words but saw bright yet soft eyes that seemed to soak up my spill like a sponge. I saw his body once “holy” and unmarked become riddled with shrapnel and seeping with sores. His scarlet stains eerily reflected mine.

My storm did not abate, but I raged and I pounded his existence until I contained – nothing – but brokenness on the flooded floor.

My wreckage was spent. I could not meet his gaze and look into… was it Understanding that I saw? I felt his gentle hands lift my deflated body into his arms and whisper, “I am pierced by your pain, your sins, your sorrows. I take on your hurts, your hostilities, your desperations. My wounds are the only thing that heals the deep woundedness in you.” As he carried my brokenness, his brokenness became evident. As he carried my punctured heart, he shared his whole heart with mine.

I cannot tell you that I was all better from that day on, nor can I tell you that I was all bad either. But I will tell you this, that I have found the Hospital that Heals. He can handle my wreckage. He can stand in my storm. And He can heal my heart.

There is no true comfort or healing that I can give, but I can tell you of his and what he did for me. I care, and I am here for you. I will pray for you because I know God desires to heal your heart and carry you. Ask, and he will meet you.

Love, Your Friend,


“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 

~ Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV) ~

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (ESV)

My Prayer of Psalm 13 – In my own words

Each week we have a Psalm assignment in SBS. Here is last week's.

My Prayer of Psalm 13 – In my own words

“How long, O Lord?” How long, will I struggle so, to see truth but through a fog that is too heavy to cut and too far to reach?

How long will I feel too much and have the plight of purposelessness permeate my being?

How long will lies saturate my soul?

Will you listen and answer? I’m not asking for removal from struggle but joy in suffering.

I’m asking for understanding of purpose, for renewal to continue, for fog to lift and Truth to Light –
“To light up my eyes” so that lies fall flat against impenetrable armor. Those already defeated cannot claim victory.

Your love is unfailing and never ceasing. It never tires not fades.

I remember your promises in the night and the day that you graciously saved me to dance in your presence. I am undeserving, but your gift is for me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Plight of the Cinder-Ash Girl

As part of our assignment for Psalms in the School of Biblical Studies I have a creative assignment each week, and this week's assignment was to write a poem in the same type as one of Psalms 1-10. I want to explain my poem below because it is written by the heart of me but not about me. This is the plight of one of the oppressed that God is pursuing and desperately loving, the heart of the sex-trafficked, little girl. The prince is Satan. So this poem is a combination of my influences today: Psalm 10, Revelation, and a dream I had when I slept. I can’t remember all of my dream, nor was it about sex-trafficking, but there was a little girl who needed help. So in my processing-the dream and processing the Psalm assignment and thinking about what to write, out this came. (1/10/11 SM)

A Heart no longer encased by a shield, vainly attempted to block bloodthirsty blows.
Thought to be crushed,
Physical bones, dutiful, responded as if feeling
Only feeling was no more emotion but instinct--
Warring, was it possible, with a sliver of spirit?
The question defied reality: survival was death or death was survival?

Vultures circled overhead
Ravaging their prey.
The talons of sharper weapons of destruction had already feasted.
Ownership claimed but not their claims to own.
The goal-satisfaction. The finality-hunger never quenched.
The victor-deception. The truth-to be reckoned.

The clock struck mid-night.
The fair maiden’s frock-beyond stained and torn.
All claims laid threadbare
As the prince was found out for his evil lair.
Piles of clean-picked bones displayed as his sculptures of pleasure.
Piles of snuffed-out souls-discarded as worthless to a dirty corner.

This tale is grim, for no fairy tales are here.
This is Life, and this is Death. But one with an Answer.
The prince got his picking of fury’s fair fight.
Rather his bones stoked the eternal fire.

And what is the plight of her strangled soul?
Beyond recognition of this earth’s ear came the faint pulse-the cry
Of this Cinderella.
To his ear it came – the Rescuer. So he wailed, broken, at the plight of his Daughter.

You see, the Cinder Maiden was never far off from the heart of her Father.
He was seeking and searching-calling to the Princess her name
As he waited for the day he would hear in response the truth of his name.

Lifeless and brittle, he found her in the pile of bones.
And not finding her soul, he restored to her life anew-whole.
Replacing her rags for clothes fit for a queen,
He fashioned her crown and said,
“I loved you in the destruction of the cinder ash.
I love you in new life that my death has bought.”
And they entered the chamber of the throne of Light, hands together,
Because of the love of one rescuer Father for the heart of his cinder ash Daughter.