Saturday, August 7, 2010

Final Reflections from Swaziland

On Thursday Sara (who is here with her family thru AIM and is also a nursing student) and I went to Skhalini, one of the most rural carepoints, to set up a mini clinic. We laid some mats down under a tree, set up all our supplies (lots of medicine, bandages, stethoscopes, etc), and formed a system for children and others to come one by one and sit down and tell us their symptoms (Nombali, our wonderful translator was also sitting with us on the mat).

As we were still setting up and people were gathering around, I felt someone behind me, it was a small girl. She was kind of leaning on me and as I turned to interact with her, the gogo spoke to her immediately and obviously told her to get up and go away as she quickly retreated. I didn’t think much of it and went back to the task at hand.

We saw about 10-12 people, which was a nice number because we got to treat each person in a non-rushed way. We saw coughs, skin lesions, headaches, sore throats, and everything in between. As we were on our last patient, I was listening to her breath sounds to make sure her lungs didn’t have fluid and Sara was just sitting to the side. The same little girl from the beginning plopped down. With a stethoscope in hand, and experience to be gained, Sara figured why not listen to her little heart?

Thankfully she did.

Her pulse was very high at 180 beats per minute and it was bounding. You could listen to any spot on her abdomen and hear it clearly. As we took a closer look we discovered her breathing was very labored and she even had a fever. Soon our previous patient was handed medicine and our focus became this little girl.

As it turned out, she was 3 years old but had no older sibling, cousin, or gogo to represent her. Whereas all the previous kids we saw had that. She had come the carepoint by herself entirely. No one was there to put her in the front of the line. No one was there to even bring her to the mat to let us know she was ill. And for that matter no one even knew she was sick (as they shooed her away unknowingly). After a little more assessing and a phone call to a more experienced health care professional, we determined she was dehydrated and probably also needed an antibiotic for her ailment. We didn’t have the antibiotic in hand, but we did have something for her fever and some water. This particular carepoint is very far from a water source, so we had packed a jug, and sooo glad we did as we poured a cup and she just chugged it. Then another. Then the medicine. She was one thirsty little girl.

We sat there a little longer with her and told the gogo’s to make sure she had water the next day too (we left the jug), but as I reflect, this story is symbolic of so much more than just giving a little girl water.

So many times in life we have a system to serve people. Think about it, whether it’s a church outreach or feeding people at the city mission—there is structure. And sometimes structure is completely necessary, but serving doesn’t need to only occur in structure. Because of our system we were creating, the gogo obviously saw this little girl as a mere distraction to our “mission”. She didn’t see her need, her sickness, or her thirst. She just saw a hang up in the smooth operation. And if we only focus on operations, outreaches, and structured events, we are missing out on so much!!

Serving people, loving people, being the hands and feet of Jesus is not always convenient, efficient, or easy. It does not only occur in planned settings, missions trips, or camps. Nor should it. Serving should not be a once a week event…it should be a mindset. But before we can serve others, we must know the need. And knowing the need takes a little time and effort. We must open our eyes or ask God to give us His eyes. We must be mindful of those around us, not just so focused on our own agenda that anything aside from our desire is a “distraction”. The biggest step however, is after knowing the need, practically meeting it. So often WE are the answer to the prayer we lift up. So many times we think that a system or structure should be put in place to solve a problem, but really…maybe it’s as simple as a cup of water. Maybe it’s as simple as giving that homeless man a cheeseburger. Maybe it’s as simple as visiting your Grandma. And maybe the cups of water and cheeseburgers and visits will add up and make something beautiful. Something people see, something that is contagious, something that is bigger than ourselves.

So may we not be distracted by details today. May we not be bogged down with outlines and itineraries—although very useful sometimes. May we see the pain around us whether it be under our same roof or across the ocean, and may we respond with it in confidence knowing that we can’t do everything, be each of us can do something, and something is always better than nothing!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bacca Update

If you read week 2, you will remember the story of Bacca. If you did not read it, please take a quick look because this is simply an update on her life.

Bacca is still smiling, still laughing, and still the center of attention at girl’s time each Friday. She still runs up to me and hugs me each day after school, but her cheerful attitude is still masking a lot of hardship at home.

As I cooked dinner with Molly, who is part of the team from California, she shared with me about her time with Bacca that day. A film crew had come to do a documentary on the children/orphans of Nsoko. And they had gotten Bacca out of school early to be interviewed. As a result, Molly got to spend all afternoon with her.

Bacca shared a story about getting corn for her family after Matt has given her money (she is supported by AIM and Matt gives her a small amount each week to help her expenses), but on her way to get it ground up, she lost the rest of the money. As she burst into tears at the factory where they grind it, the workers had mercy on her and did it for free. In the midst of this story, though, she told Molly that she feels so much pressure and she isn’t that good at taking care of her little sisters (4 and 6). Molly then asked, “but Bacca, who takes care of you?”

She just cried.

Molly said she just held her for the longest time and loved on her. To make matters worse, we are all starting to question if her mother is EVER coming back. Soon she will be gone for 2 months and things aren’t looking too promising. Not to mention, what kind of work do you get for a bit in the city and then come home? Sadly, it is very descriptive of prostitution. Regardless of where Bacca’s mother is or what she is doing, the fact of the matter is that she is not home and it’s very likely she may never return.

I can’t express how heartbroken I am thinking of my beloved little Bacca. All alone each night in that hut with her little sisters. No one to hold them, protect them, cook for them, or love them. A 14-year-old forced to grow up far too fast.

Sadly, Bacca represents so many kids today. Oprhans. Orphans. And more orphans.

I feel like I use it a lot in blogs like this, but James 1:27 always pops into my head: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being."

along with 1 John 3:18 in situations like these, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

What are we doing for orphans today? Are we loving them in practical ways? You don’t have to go to Africa to love an orphan. You can, but there are so many ways to help: investing in programs on the ground, programs like the Nsoko project here through AIM—they provide for Bacca to stay in school and get food, or even sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion international. Or maybe, just maybe, adopting a child.

Jesus was good news to the poor, the needy, and those who were broken. He came for the sick, not the healthy. The humble not the righteous. He came and loved and served the least of these.

…..are we following his example? Are we remembering that it really isn’t “our” money, it is His money and we are His stewards? We are his hands and his feet, but what are we doing with them?

It is up to you today. You can choose love. Or indifference. You can choose to make this world more like His kingdom or bring more darkness to it. You choose what you do with your hands, your feet, your money, and your heart.

What will you choose? What will I choose?

Let’s choose love. I promise it's the best choice! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Washing Clothes

The task "washing clothes" used to be something i put on my to-do list at home and allotted about 15 minutes to complete. I mean, the sequence is usually : gather clothes, put in washer, pour detergent, push 3 buttons, then carry on until they are dry and switch them to the dryer which takes pushing 2 more buttons.


Well, things have changed. This small task is now something I take part in, and when I do, I dedicate 3 hours to.

Phindele is 28, has two kids, and works at the center for us. She does all sorts of jobs and one is laundry. This can be a daunting task when the teams are large and the clothes pile up, so I like to help her. To think how long it takes the TWO of us some days, I think she would be there til dark if I didn't offer a little help. Anyway, I like helping her for a lot of reasons--first, she is great and I just like to spend quality time with her and gaining a little insight into her world, second, i think anyone would agree that it's nice to have some help and I would love the same, and third, i am not only with Pandele, but with all the gogo's who cook, too (it's all under the same little shelter). I like spending time with these ladies behind the scenes. The kids are precious, and fun, don't get me wrong..but these women are just amazing. They are the epitome of strong--emotionally and physically. They are dedicated. They don't get paid to cook the food, they do it because they care about the children of their community. They care. Can't we all stand to do that a little more? I think so :)

But aside from encouraging me to care and love for those around me, this tedious task has taught me other important lessons.

Washing clothes has taught me something machines have done. I mean, i know they decrease the amount of time of chores and that is great. But they also do something else. You see, when you hand wash your clothes you realize how many you have. If you have so many clothes that you can allow them to pile up 5 miles before washing, you will QUICKLY regret it as you scrub and scrub and scrub for hours. As you are elbow deep in suds with wrinkling fingertips, you may ask yourself, "do I realllly need this many pairs of underwear?" Because washing them, using your own hands [and it is such a workout!] really forms a different relationship with your clothes and you. I know that may sound a little crazy, but i mean it. You appreciate it more as you rub your hands raw trying to get that stain out. When you wear it the next time, you remember the hard work, and instead of just wearing it once, you get lots of use of it to make all that time worth it.

Washing clothes has also taught me appreciation for Pandele and all the other ladies in the world that take on this thankless job. In the past, I would have my clothes washed and handed the money over and said oh yeah, thank you! Then i went on my way...from now on, i want to hug these people! This is not an easy job! Even my Mom...side note::Mom--thanks for always getting allllll that dirt out of my softball socks :) I know how hard it is now. Really though, so often we overlook the "little" jobs in the world, the jobs that our society doesn't appreciate at all. They are important, and if you don't think they are, see what happens when the people that do them quit. i.e. what if the janitor at your workplace quit? Who would scrub the toilets, take the trash out, etc? I think we could all use a little more manners and thank those who do the tough, dirty jobs and oftentimes receive zero recognition.

I could go on, but instead I will say this--try it! Try washing your clothes by hand one day. Grab two buckets, some powder soap and pick a sunny day so you can dry them. I've already made a promise to myself that washing by hand is going to be a part of my life in the future. Even if it is just one weekend a month, I wanna drag my little kiddies and hubby outside and make it a family event. I really believe in it for so many reasons and hope you'll give it a try :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week 2-- Equality.

I have been hit in the stomach.


Hard.


Literally and figuratively.


Literally, I took a soccer ball to the gut last week at a carepoint. It hurt, but only for a second the figurative punch in the stomach doesn’t go away quite that easily. In fact, the figurative pain never really goes away.

You see, before coming to Swaziland last year or this year, one of my desires was to live a simple, frugal life. Quotes like “there’s enough for man’s need but not enough for man’s greed” (Gandhi) and “Live simply so others can simply live” (Mother T) resonate in my mind. Yet, I still live in such excess. Both physically but in my heart too. Stuff fills my closet…and my mind. Last year I heard the saying “simplicity is intimacy” and when I’m here, I realize just how true that is. As we simplify, we find that we don’t have all these things to put our faith in other than God. We have fewer things to depend on, fewer readily available idols.

Ok, that last paragraph was a bit of a lengthy intro, but back to the story I had in mind. Each day that I am here I am continually humbled, but on Monday, it was a peak of reality.

Bacca is 14 years old and a regular favorite around the center. She speaks perfect English (a rarity, esp for her age) and is always full of energy and jokes. Not to mention, she has such a pure heart and desire to love others. When you think of Bacca, you can’t help but smile.

But on Monday night, there wasn’t much of a smile on her face. At about Sunday, Bacca came to our door with a distraught look on her face asking for Matt or Mary Grace. When we told her that they were away, we asked what was wrong and she just turned around and started walking. I took a few steps outside to follow her and ask again, and when I did—she.just.lost.it. Tears flowed and flowed as I put my arm around her to lead us to the side of the center so we could sit.

As she laid her head on my lap, her speech was slurred with deep breaths then a heave of blubbering. Finally, in between breaths, I could understand what she was trying to relay: She had no money and her kombi fee was due tomorrow [it’s 80 rand aka about $10 a month for transportation fees to get to school] and zero food at her home. I also learned that for the past two weeks until who knows when, Bacca’s mother is in the city looking for work, and until she returns, it’s up to Bacca to take care of her two sisters—8 and 4 years old. As I held her it was hard for me to even fathom what it’d be like to have those responsibilities at age 14 …and with no resources.

Of course we scurried around to meet Bacca’s needs before sunset. She sat with her head down the whole time as we bagged the goods. I hugged her and told her not to be embarrassed and that we were her family and loved her so much. Then before it got 1completely dark, Kelly, Lindsay, and I headed down the dirt path with her home. It was great that we could help her out in such a small way, but our happiness in that was short lived as we entered her hut. It was probably about 6 ft by 10 ft and completely dark. And would stay that way, as Bacca announced she had no matches. We gave her a final hug and left.

As we headed back to the center, we talked about our hearts aching. We wondered what it would be like to eat a cheese sandwich in total darkness at 5:30pm, taking care of two children, and well…just sitting there for a bit. With no one else around. We compared life of a 14 year old in the U.S. to that of Bacca. And that’s when I got a moment of clarity—the 14 year olds in America are hurting too. There are 2 extremes: Those who are suffering, those who at times have nothing…then there are those who think they haveeverything they could ever need. They begin to worship things and the world they feel total control over. Where is the middle? I pray to be in the middle. I pray the world can find this middle ground. 2 Cor 13-14 puts it well,

“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack; that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality.

And that’s it. It’s about equality. Or as Bono put it, “it isn’t about charity, it’s about justice.” Just making things fair. Freely giving because we have freely received. I don’t want to turn Swaziland into America by any means. In fact, that would be awful. I see faith here that simply would very likely be drowned out in our materialistic-obsessed culture. I see people praising the Lord for blessings that aren’t the tangible kind, but the best kind—grace, peace, love. Instead, I pray for equality. For balance. For us all to be content with a simple life. For sharing. For justice. For Jesus to be enough in the moments of poverty and wealth…for him to be enough…on both sides of the world.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week 1 -- so good to be back :)

Sometimes I wonder if someone came to Nsoko without any prior knowledge of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, how long would it take him or her to wonder what was going on? Would they wonder why so many of the children are missing one or both of their parents? Would they wonder why those who are frail and deathly ill are in their beds? Would they wonder when they saw a whole section of the hospital especially for ARV Treatment or heard the woman there say that 42% of the mothers admitted there are positive? Or maybe they would really wonder why one of the questions at youth group with the girls was “where did HIV come from and how can we preventing it?”

Then I think the flip side of this question—how long would it take to forget? Would they forget in all the huge smiles of the children? Or the beautiful singing at church? Or maybe in the intensely fun games of netball or soccer? I’m not sure how the person who had no prior knowledge would take all this, but I know how I do. I forget so often. I get caught up in the love, joy, and laughter and seem to get my heart broken, and re-broken each time something hard comes up…which is on about a tri-daily basis. I haven’t gotten used to it, and I hope I never will. I hope it never becomes the status quo in my heart to see the pain and suffering caused by this horrible disease.

…. On a more non-organized or well-written note, here is a rundown of week one:

So much can change in a year!! That was apparent as soon as we entered the center aka our home. We now have SHOWERS in the center, with hot water sometimes!! What?! We don’t just get 5 small bits of chicken once a week, but instead, have a standard portion of meat in our meals three times a week. We now have a table and chairs, an extra toilet, a fan, and a new ride! The Kombi that looked like a 1970’s hippie van (which I personally loved) is out, and the Toyota Noah (like a mini-mini-van) is in! I feel like I’m at the Nsoko Hilton!! Oh, well…minus the fact that we have also developed a new extreme cockroach problem, ha. They are EVERYWHERE, but it doesn’t really bother me? Ha.

Another thing that has changed are the children! My gosh they have all grown so much! I feel like my mom saying it, but really my babies are getting so big! However, I will say, waiting a year to reunite with people you love, makes that reunion very dramatically awesome! Thandie and I ran 20ft each and met in a giant hug, and as some of the kids said “Kati!” we embraced with that same enthusiasm. Ahhh, so awesome. Especially to think, they had no clue I was returning, so it was just like…Surprise! Ha J

On a more ministry related note—we have had such a great week with a good bit of variety. We have done many carepoint visits, which is always awesome. We taught lessons, fetched water (it took 45 minutes and was like Be Hope to Her in real life), held the kids, and played games. We also did some house visits—one was with a very sick man who was delighted that we came to give him food and pray with him, and the other was with a gogo (grandma) of one of our translators or ministry partners, Mxolisi. This was such a great visit that I will elaborate on more one day. We have had women’s time, youth time, church, sorted medical supplies, visited the hospital and of course an epic netball game (usa vs. swazi). Overall, I am more than thrilled to be back to my second home here and even more thrilled to share it with some of my very best friends J That’s all for now!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Swazi Bound! :)

helloooo all!

So for the next 5.5 weeks my blog is going to be transformed a bit! Normally I just use it for everyday types of ramblings and book reviews and quotes and...well you get the picture :) But over the next month or so, I will be out of town. Actually out of the continent.

This is where I will be ---> Nsoko, Swaziland

Last year I spent 2 wonderful months in this small, HIV-ravished community. I met people in the worst of circumstances holding onto God in a way I have never seen in my life. I saw so much brokenness, but then again, I saw more faith than ever. I saw joy through the struggle. I saw smiles through the pain. And I started to really grasp the concept depending on God. Like...losing your family-not having a job-hungry-but-still-worshiping-with-total-Joy kind of dependence. I learned that simplicity is intimacy and felt God in a whole new way as I wasn't distracted by tv's, texts, or tweets. But most of all, I felt God break my heart into pieces for what breaks His. I felt the call ever so clearly that we live in a hurting world, and Jesus doesn't just save us to go to Heaven, He really does desire us to bring the Kingdom to earth. Or as Shane Claiborne puts it best:

"For even if the whole world believed in resurrection, little would change until we began to practice it. We can believe in CPR, but people will remain dead until someone breathes new life into them. And we can tell the world that there is life after death, but the world really seems to be wondering if there is life before death."

As I return to Nsoko I cannot WAIT to be reunited with my Swazi family--the kids, the gogo's, our translators--my family. I also can't wait for the perfect weather [it's winter there], no mosquitoes, and allllll the shooting stars. But i really, really, really can't wait to share all these things, experiences, and relationships with some of my best friends who will be joining me for the first half of the trip--Kayla, Kelly, Lindsay, and Sarah.

So here we gooooo! If you'd like to join me on this adventure, feel free to peek the blog every week or so! Who knows how often I'll update, but when interned is available, I shall try :)

peace&love

-kati

Sunday, June 20, 2010

peace lover or peacemaker?

"A peace lover is someone who enjoys the absence of conflict, but a peacemaker is someone who is proactively engaged in works of reconciliation in every sphere of life, from the personal to the global." -Chasing Francis, p. 136


...an interesting way to put it. I find myself asking, which one am I?

2 of my lovely friends, Kelly and Lindsay, on International Day of Peace at Marshall

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I Don't Shop at Wal*Mart

citation: mrzine.monthlyreview.org

Some of you have heard the rant 50,000 times, but it has become apparent to me that others have wondered exactly...why do i refuse to shop at wal-mart?

i mean after all--low prices, opened 24 hours, easily accessible (they are everywhere) and the list goes on.

Well it's been almost 3 years since i have purchased something from this company, and i can thank my professor who enlightened me with "The High Cost of Low Price" [http://www.walmartmovie.com/] Now when I first saw this documentary that absolutely picks wal-mart apart from top do bottom on issues like global explotation, discrimination, costing taxpayers millions, running small businesss out of town, etc. etc. I sat in horror. I shopped at wal*mart at least every 2 weeks. I mean we were talking the place i got all my pictures developed, my contact solution, my school supplies, my underwear, etc etc. WAL-MART COULDN'T BE EVIL!!! My professor was obviously just angry at the world.

but.

it burned inside of me. After day 3 of the movie, i was mortified at what i had been supporting. Pause: some of you may be thinking "Kati, you let one documentary change you this much." Answer: no. I wanted this stuff to be untrue! I wanted low prices!! I DID!!! But to my dismay, as I researched and resarched...it was true. Wal-Mart really did have horrible practices. They really were getting sued. and they really WERE on the "Sweatshop Hall of Fame."

so that's when I did it. I felt so convicted. How could i support this type of treatment to these chinese and hondurus workers? how could i let any part of my dollar go toward such a disgusting act. and right then and there, I said...no to wal-mart.

Some of you may be thinking, "Kati, every place has sweatshops. Answer: No. And don't worry, I don't discriminate against Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart only, in fact, i desperately attempt to avoid all companies that are found guilty of such exploitation.

Some of you may also be thinking, "Well the only reason all this stuff is about Wal-Mart is because it's the largest corporation in the world." Answer: I'm sure that the fact that Wal-Mart is so large certainly affects how much of a microscope it is under. However, in no way, shape, or form, in my opinion, does that give us a reason to excuse their behavior. Not to mention, as a global corporate leader, isn't even more important for them to set a GOOD example rather than a horrible one?

So there it is. My main reason for not shopping at wal-mart. However, reason #2 is actually growing stronger these days. Here is a quote that sums it up beautifully:


"Wal-Mart’s corporate philosophy is to drive down the cost of doing business and keep profits high principally by reducing labor costs. Wal-Mart executives and shareholders are confident that the taxpayer will pick up the difference between their pay rate and a living wage. In a sense our social welfare system is enabling companies to operate sweatshops. I’m not suggesting we should eliminate the social safety net; rather I’m suggesting that when a company’s employees need to reach out for assistance, there should be consequences. If Wal -Mart prefers that the taxpayers subsidize their profits, then we should send them the bill." [http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m1d12-WalMart-is-a-sweatshop]

do you realize thru many wal-mart practices, you the tax payer are contributing billions of dollars to their corporation/employees? that "great deal" isn't really a great deal in the long run. check out some these links for some statistics:

http://wakeupwalmart.com/facts/taxes.html

http://www.ideamouth.com/politics/walmartflyer.pdf


...so there you have it for anyone in the world who ever wondered or ever desired to know more about this giant that is literally trying to take over our country it seems. Is this decision easy? No. it's highly inconvenient on many occasions. is it do-able? totally. Am i special for doing this? No. Anyone can. And it would be beautiful if some saw it the way i did. but if you choose not to, well that's fine too. members or my own family still shop there and i still love them all the same.

my only wish is that this may open your eyes to the lesson I learned.."too good to be true" has a whole new meaning. and many times, our good bargains come at the price of someone else. some say free trade is overall the best thing, and there are always 2 sides to every argument. maybe it is overall the best, and maybe ANY Job, even when exploited is better than none. and maybe i am too much of an idealist, but..i believe in a better way. and this is what my heart says for now!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lifetime Prayer

I've been reading "Chasing Francis" by Ian Morgan Cron. I'm dreading ending it because it is truly opening my eyes and showing me so many great things, but for now, here's a little treasure i just read before bed.



O Lord, make us instruments of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that we may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life;

-francis of assisi


i want to paint this and hang it on a wall wherever i go in the years to come.

also reminds me of a wonderful song, Surely We Can Change, by david crowder band.

both are incredible reminders and prayers of the life i desire to live. who's with me? :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

heartache for Juarez, Mexico :(





my church has been going to Juarez for nearly 10 years teaming up with "casitas del ray" and other groups to help build homes, soup kitchens, have Bible school for the kids, and just love and serve the people of this violence-stricken city.

i got the chance to go 3 years ago and again the following year. Of course, as the rest of the group does year, after year, i fell in love with the hospitable, gracious people of the city. the children melted my heart and constantly wanted to hold hands, skip, and play--3 of my favorite activities! despite all the fun and joy, the violence there was very tense at the time. There is a drug war going on between the cartel of Juarez and the government. And even in our short time there, several murders occurred, we encountered the military right at our front door, and upon returning to the states we learned that our church was just 1.5 miles away from the location of dozens of raped and murdered women. Juarez is called the most dangerous city in the world by many sources.

wowza, right? I'm not going to lie, i had a few nightmares while i was there, but we constantly prayed and God was with us every step of the way to make sure we didn't let the fear affect loving and serving.

this year, my church will not go to Juarez as we are doing a local mission project, but just as the bumper stickers of many members say-- Juarez is in our hearts. Always. a few minutes ago, i "stumbled" upon this site of photographs of the latest violence. Tears welled up in my eyes as i thought of the many people i love there that have to deal with this on a daily basis. I wish I had the answer to all this, but all i can do is pray, and ask you to as well! Warning: before clicking on "site" please know the pictures are very graphic. but also very real.

in honor of those in Juarez, and of the woman who this story is about--here is a note i wrote about my time there in 2008::

I've had a lot of good hugs in my life, but 3 days ago, I received the best hug ever on a sandy street in Juarez, Mexico during my mission trip.

I know what you're thinking, how could I, a person who loves hugs and gives them out so often, possibly pick one out like this and call it the best? But read on and maybe you'll understand...

Our group went to Mexico to build a soup kitchen. A soup kitchen that had been prayed about for an entire year by an awesome preacher name Julio and his community. By Thursday, we had went extreme home makeover on that cement slab and constructed a cute little building were 45 hungry kids would be fed each day. We decorated it with bible verses and pictures too. The room's bright yellow walls would warm anybody's heart, seriously.

So after the building was constructed we had a dedication. Nearly 200 children showed up by the end of the night!! Along with plenty of adults. It was a the main event fo sho.

Shortly after the 2 hour preaching/singing/and other festivities we fed everyone hot dogs. Next was the toy give away. As this was coming to an end I was approached by an elderly lady. Kayla and I had passed her in the street from a distance a couple days before and she had that same familiar grin on her face this evening. As she approached me I could see her tanned, wrinkled cheeks. She put her hand out and was saying "Gracias" (thank you) in the most genuine tone I'd heard all week. Of course, I bypassed the hand and threw my arms around her for what I thought would be a brief, normal hug.

I was very wrong.

What started out as a wimpy hug turned into a full fledge grasp. She meant it. And as she spoke throughout the 3 minute intense embrace, I knew few words. I understood all the children, God, and thank you. Those phrases were repeated often. And somehow...standing there with sweat on my shirt and sand all over me, hanging on to a women who speaks a totally different language than myself...I could feel her thankfulness.

Yes. Feel it.

No one clings like that and speaks those words of thanksgiving without truly meaning it. And as we stand there arm in arm, I literally got goosebumps. And shortly before we released from our embrace, I looked down into her worn out eyes and saw tears. Tears of happiness. Tears from a lady who truly cared about all those little children running around. Tears from a lady who knew where the building came from...not from a group of 20 Americans, but from God. He made it happen. He just used us to help show His love.

And in that moment, it was all so clear.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Feeling.

Well, after finished Jesus for President (amazing, read it!!) and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (decent) --both of which took me about 6 months to finish, ha. I read at a snail's pace during school...I have now moved on to Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps. It's an interesting read, and although I still have 3 chapters left, I can safely say I have enjoyed it. Not necessarily a top fave, but has further opened my eyes in a lot of different ways from Jesus to technology and the world in general. Hipps is a smart dude!


One section I liked a whole lot was when Hipps talks about how the "print age" turned our world into one that thinks in linear, logical, black and white, factual ways. It is one that has pros and cons, but one of the biggest cons is that it demotes emotions. In applying this to faith, he talks about how this mindset turns people into only rational and cognitive beings, emotions don't count. He goes on to talk about how this is a major problem for several reasons: our heart and emotions are an integral part of our being and life with God, our emotions do help govern our behavior and when ignored can be very dangerous as it can resurrect in something negative, and lastly, it deadens desire. Our longing for life, love, and God fades.

Do you relate to this? I certainly do, and it saddens me to see the many people in the Church, specifically, the American church put almost alllll the emphasis on faith and never feeling. Feeling is looked at something that can come and go, so...it's irrelevant. But it's notirrelevant! It's actually kind of important, it's actually how we were created!

Have you ever felt God? There have been several vivid moments in my life where i have felt Him. So strongly and positively that i will never forget. these are by far the most cherished moments of my life, and i truly believe that God gave me my 5 senses for a reason other than just eating to stay alive. I believe he gave me emotions for things other than just crying when seeing a sad movie. I think He gave them to me to connect with me, too.

When I think of Hipps logic, and look back on my time in Swaziland--a place that would not be considering the "print age" type (that is, where literature and printed materials are a big part of culture)--emotions are a huge part of fellowship with God. Dancing, smiling, crying, laughing, clapping, etc. are not only encouraged, but cherished. When Swazi's worship, they do with their whole self, and it's gorgeous. And when describing their relationship with God, they use many more words of senses and feelings...not just large words like "justification" or "sanctification." (these words are fine, of course, I'm just making a point :))

So i guess what i'm saying is this: don't forget that we aren't just made to read, write, and regurgitate verses. We are made to enjoy our creator, to adore Him, to feel him...

Or as one quote by Allen Hood I recently read said,

"The heart can go a lifetime doing religious
services and exercises yet never gaze,
never adorn the object of worship.
We were made for encounter, for
experiencing the presence
and depths of God"


so take some time today to sit still, watch a sunrise, breathe, get uncomfortable to serve Him, love someone who doesn't love you back, or maybe love someone who the rest of the world has forgotten about...and whether you're adoring him or serving Him, don't be surprised when He shows up ;)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shortcuts to happiness.

I once read a quote that said "there are few shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them." That little beauty was on a magazine collage my friend Jessi is so wonderful at making.


Well, I was thinking about that quote lately. Maybe it's because I've been reading the Book of Awesome, maybe it's because i had a wonderful time on the dance floor at my cousin's wedding the other night, whatever it is, I've been thinking of it.

Of course, to clarify, we are talking about happiness, not joy. Joy, in my own words, is a constant thing. A thing, that even in moments of sadness, can prevail, knowing that there is hope. A living hope that is found in Jesus. Happiness on the other hand, is more temporary. It's a mood, a moment, a burst of smiling, a laugh or warmness. I liked when i heard someone say joy is like the climate and happiness is the weather for the day.

Anywho, moving on, back to what the point of this is....shortcuts to happiness. But not just any form of happiness, not just a smile on your face, but a smile in your heart. The Book of Awesome (if you clicked the link) has a lot of great things in it that make you simile or laugh, but I'm talking about those moments when things just feel right in the world in the moment. Or as one of my favorite books,Perks of Being a Wallflower says, "In that moment..we were infinite." You know, those moments.

In thinking of these moments, i've decided it would be fun to compile a list of them. The list is very short so far, but that's alright because in this case, quality is more important than quantity :)

I would love your help with these! Some of mine are very specific moments in my past that can never be replicated, but some are just generic. I like both kinds, personally. But whether you share with me or not, think about these things, I think it's good for the soul :)

Here's my mini-list so far!

--Seeing a shooting star.
--Dancing, but specifically dancing in large groups to songs everyone knows.
--Even more specifically, dancing to "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey at my sister's wedding. One of the most fun moments of my life :)
--Feeling the wind as you ride in the back of a pickup....at night!
--Singing, or screaming, a song in a car with others when everyone knows every single lyric.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jesus for Prez



so after 10 months, i have completed the book Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw.

and I could probably turn around and read it again. It took me so long for several reasons. first, it's a pretty deep read for the first 2/3 of the way. sure the pictures make it nice, but it was a lot to take in! secondly, i just had a lot of nursing crap to read. and thirdly, if i read more than say....10 pages at a time, i usually got so fired up i couldn't sleep or had to turn to the person next to me and give them a summary.

the book was incredibly thorough and i appreciated it so much. I held many of the beliefs discussed prior to reading, but it gave me such great detail, history, and just relevance. It blows my mind how misinterpreted the Bible really is..simply because we (most times blindly) completely ignore the culture surrounding the text. even just getting a small dose of culture can turn a verse you've heard hundreds of times (and thought you just looooved already), into an extremely bold and powerful statement that goes against every grain of "norm."

not only did i enjoy the depth, but also the compilation of such wonderful stories, quotes, and insights gathered. i couldn't turn a page without numerous references and jarring quotes--even quotes from the time of Jesus, not just modern (many of those were my favorite).

in the end, this piece added fuel to my fire and encouragement to my soul. i desire so much to live apart from the empire, pledge my allegiance to my King...the slaughtered lamb..love my enemies (not bomb them), and embrace my duty of being a blessing to the world by sharing love, peace and hope and remember my job is NOT to rid the world of evil by violence (or encourage it)...that's His job, and I'll let him take care of it when the time comes.. (check out the parable of weeds/wheat in Matthew 13).

Until then, may we live out Acts 2:42-47 :)

...oh, and i'll probably post a few of my favorite excerpts from the book later.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goal.


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One of my goals for the next 40 some days before I leave for Swaziland is to live intentionally in the present. To participate and not anticipate.... Of course I'll still set aside an ample amount of time to daydream--just not excessive ;)

[photo thanks to postsecret ]

Sunday, May 9, 2010

my favorite paradox

Every once in a while I like to listen to a speech or sermon from Martin Luther King, Jr. Why? Because I am never the same afterward.


Some things are expected: I always get chills, I always cry, and I also get incredibly inspired.

Reading about MLK is good, but listening to him...is great. Hearing his passion, sensing the what the atmosphere would be like...these things are intangible. You will understand them only if you hear.

Which leads me to my next challenge, please...click this link. The whole thing is 9 minutes [it
s half of the original] , but even if you only have 4 1/2 minutes, that's it--click it. Scroll over to the 5:27 mark...and prepare to be moved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOrCU0jdJrs

I love the whole last 4 1/2 minutes, but here is a part that really, really strums a cord:

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he's traveling wrong,

Then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,

If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,

If I can spread the message as the master taught,

Then my living will not be in vain.


...and so MLK's message remains, anyone can be great, because anyone can serve. Each day is just a chance to change the world--for the better or for the worse. Every decision, every action, we make an impact...what is our impact?

Are we indifferent?

Do we spread this beautiful message of grace? this message of hope? this message of love?

because in my opinion...when we fully grasp that what we are given [Salvation--life to the full now..but also in Heaven]] is all because of one thing--our faith in Jesus...when we this gift, this incredible act of service, this great thing that requires nothing but faith. it doesn't require us to be good, to be holy, but just to believe....how can we not be moved to action? How can we not want to run out of our homes and just love and serve and love and serve when we've been shown the perfect example?

so the paradox of course, is that although we are not required to serve to earn this gift, when we get the gift, service just flows out naturally ;)

and THIS is is my favorite paradox in the world.....

Let's be great.
Let's serve.
Let's change the world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My newest favorite thing

So i had heard of "Stumble Upon" before but had never tried it.


Well, yesterday I did. And i'm hooked!

Now generally speaking, i do not advocate spending hours upon hours in front of a computer screen, nor will i ever, but truly "stumbling" isn't just mindless. I have learned a lot! It expands the mind and sometimes just straight up amazes me.

here are two that i just found and enjoyed...

--photography page
--live stats

Seriously...check it out ;)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Franciscan Benediction

"May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.


May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.


And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ressurection.


"they will take my life and I will die Jesus says
but that will not be the end
and when you find yourself assuming that it’s over
when it’s lost, gone, broken and it could never be
put back together again,
when it’s been destroyed and you swear that it could never
be rebuilt

hold on a minute
because in that moment
things will in fact have just begun."

-Rob Bell.

...and today as I sat in the woods and looked at the trees... I felt this resurrection, I felt His presence all around me. And as my unworthy lungs inhaled a deep breath, all I could say was thank you.

He is risen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ειρήνη [Peace]

So breathe in with faith, and out with his peace,
May the gospel of Jesus, may the gospel of Jesus, may the gospel of Jesus
Wash over me.

-jimmy needham [the Gospel]



...I love how the Gospel doesn't just give me forgiveness, love, and life after death...I love that it gives me peace in this current life. Some sort of order to my chaos. A voice that tells me, I'm going to be just fine, regardless of how many exams, projects and events. Regardless of how marked up my planner is.

Regardless.

I am loved ...regardless of my actions, good or bad.

I am forgiven ...regardless of my awareness of each sin, or my confession even.

I am at ease ...regardless of how crazy my life gets, because I sense this Peace. I love this Peace. I know this peace.

and because of that wonderful "regardless" equation.... I am free. So free. And it is the best feeling in the entire world and I really just want everyone to feel it.



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is this freedom?

On Monday, I got back from spending a few days in Florida with family. While I was there I got the chance to spend some time with my brother in-law's mom. We started talking about Nuru and other non-profits I am a fan of, and then she shared the organization she is working on starting in Chicago [she recently moved to GA but is still helping from a distance].


She showed me a presentation, and truly, I was in total shock. I know gun violence is an issue in our country, especially larger cities, but I was completely ignorant when it comes to the extent of how it affects our children.

As she shared stories of real people, children she knows, the statistics on the screen began to haunt me. Statistics like,

The number one fear of 2nd graders in the school surveryed in downtown Chicago? Being shot.
--Of 500 surveyed, 50% have a friend or relative that have been shot at, and 33% have lost a friend or relative to gun violence.

--Or as one article I just read talked about a 13-year-old who knows nine people, including 3 family members who have been shot at.

These children are scared to walk out of their house. And their artwork? Well, I will let you see it for yourself:


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These are from second-graders. That means they are probably 7 or 8 years old....7 or 8 years old....that is astonishing to me.

Then tonight, as I listened to a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled "Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence" there was a very powerful section that stood out when MLK was discussing why he had to speak up against the war, here it is:


"My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."


And then it came full circle. What message are we sending to our children today? 36 cents of every dollar goes to military funds. Check out this pie chart .

It was also MLK who said,

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom... "

..truly though, I know some say freedom lies in everyone being able to buy a gun, but I wonder if these kids feel free? Are they free when they are afraid to go to the library? Are they free when their little minds are dominated by fear when they are trying to learn?

and even those of us who don't live in this severe of a situation--think of how many ma scares occur. The latest in Alabama. Should we really have to fear such violent crimes? Is this freedom?

These are questions in my mind....I just feel like there has got to be a better way. And until I die, I will be seeking that Better way.

for the entire article mentioned above [where I got the stats and pics] click here:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/1093215,CST-NWS-prisoner06.article

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Be Hope to Her.

Last year when I committed to being the campus rep for this event, I imagined a low-key little gathering of the usual committed folks who desire change for the better.

As planning began and excitement built..a lot of people began to come to the meetings. And before I knew it, I was surrounded by an incredible cast of caring individuals and watched in awe as the duo of Nick and Miranda worked with such zeal and passion.

Then came day before the event...I got incredible sick, throwing up and the whole 9 yards. And the morning of, as I stumbled out of bed with not noly a slight tinge of possible "hey i may vom" feeling due to the virus inside of me, but also a bit nervous to se just how this would all pan out...after all 2 of Nuru's staff were there, waiting..expecting..hoping.

In a very dramatic way, I arrived just in time to begin. I really can't describe exactly how I felt as I walked through Buskirk field and peered forward to an array of beautifully arranged bright yellow buckets surrounding the fountain. I couldn't help but feel the happiness well up inside of me, and then as I approached and saw the amount of people--people who cared!!!!--gosh..it was just... amazing.

And the event itself really doesn't need to much explaining...a truly hubmbling experience to put it lightly.

So..the point of all this? I am more than ecstatic about this year's event. I have seen what happens when we come together with passion. I have seen what a 30 minute walk can do to people. I have seen people become Hope to others while hope was also re-introduced in their own lives, too.

In tribute to all my excitement and giddy-ness...AND since sign-ups start tomorrow, here is the promo video for Be hope to Her! Hope you enjoy :)



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Waiting.

Waiting.

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This postsecret struck me when I first read it several months, or maybe even a year ago. Some secrets are weird, some are fun, and some I just read and think...that is incredibly true. I had the latter thought when I saw this one.

Waiting.

...to graduate.

...for that relationship.

...for dreams in general.

...for Heaven.

...for that awesome weekend next month..

the list...

could go...

on forever...

Waiting.


I believe we are all indeed, in some sense, waiting, but that isn't really what I want to debate. The question I want to pose is, "What are we doing while we wait?"

The thing is, goals, dreams, and excitement for the future are all wonderful :) And trustttt me, this blog is coming from the girl who is the queen of countdowns, the biggest daydreamer you'll meet, and the same person who drew giraffes on her notes in class and dreamed about Swaziland 10 months before she even left.

I embrace this part of my personality to an extent and have always loved the famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

But we must remember....there is a path to that future and those dreams, and we must live it. We must walk on it. As I learned last summer,

"Participate don't just anticipate."

Think about us as a society...so often we don't really, realllllly just embrace each moment. Even when we are talking to someone, or maybe in class--lots of times we are texting. Not fully listening, not fully aware, but two places at once. Again, sometimes necessary, but just as necessary is to be totally aware at times. Take it all in. Soak it up...Putting all our energy and passion into the present.

How often do we relish in the moment? How often do we stop worrying about the fact that we are waiting on so many things to happen, and just trust. Just have faith. Just know that yesterday is certainly not coming back, who knows about tomorrow...but right now--it is worth so much. It holds so much potential, how can we even think of letting it slip by? Let's go! Let's live!

Yet we do. I do. But I want to improve. I want to learn the art of waiting patiently while living fearlessly. I want to hold on to my aspirations, daydreams and of course be sure to prepare for things of my future...but don't get hung up on what hasn't happened yet and all the expectations. I want to live now. love now. show grace now. be passionate now.

I celebrated Chinese New Year tonight, so maybe this will be my Chinese new years resolution? Who wants to join? :)

...and a little Emerson to end this with:

We are always getting ready to live but never living. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, February 6, 2010

♫Have you ever looked fear in the face And said I just dont care ♫


If you watched the Grammy's, this is the song P!nk performed hanging from the rafters in an acrobatic kind of way. Some of you may imagine P!nk and songs that may come to mind are upbeat and girl-powerish... and maybe just rebellious. But this is more of a balled about love, life, and just taking that risk. It's about those moments in life, that may be good, may be bad, may be scary..but are defining. At some points it reminds me of the the quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower, "And I swear, in that moment, we were infinite."


Anywho, I think it is beautiful :) Please let me know what you think and how you interpret it too!


Glitter in the Air by P!nk


Have you ever fed a lover
With just your hands
Close your eyes
And trusted, just trusted
Have you ever thrown
A fist full of glitter in the air
Have you ever looked fear in the face
And said I just don't care

It's only half past the point of no return
The tip of the iceberg
The sun before the burn
The thunder before the lightning
And the breath before the phrase
Have you ever felt this way...

Have you ever hated yourself
For staring at the phone
Your whole life waiting on the ring
To prove you're not alone
Have you ever been touched so gently
You had to cry
Have you ever invited a stranger
To come inside

I'ts only half past the point of oblivion
The hourglass on the table
The walk before the run
The breath before the kiss
And the fear before the phrase
Have you ever felt this way...

la la la la la la la la

There you are, sitting in the garden
Clutching my coffee, callin' me sugar
You called me sugar

Have you ever wished for an endless night
Lassoed the moon and the stars
And pulled that rope tight
Have you ever held your breath
And asked yourself
Will it ever get better
Than tonight, tonight.......

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

♫If you're out there, sing along with me♫

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So I was listening to John Legend's "If You're out there" last night when I looked at this picture...

It was one of those moments, seriously. I got chills. And welled up with so much hope.

I highly suggest trying it out :) Just click the link, and play it--it's the last one on the list.

Here are the lyrics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Story of Telemachus

I was truly intrigued by a story my pastor shared with us this morning, so of course I promptly googled it when I got home. And just a disclaimer: some disagree with details of this, but from what I have researched, these are the more credible details.

Telemachus was a monk outside of Rome. He felt that God was calling him to Rome, and listened and obeyed. He soon found himself in the midst of the gladiator games. Soon after, he begin calling out "in the name of Christ, Stop!" over and over.

At first the crowd just stared. Then laughed, thinking he was the comic relief. And eventually their chuckles turned into hatred, as this man was interrupting their violent entertainment.

Eventually Telemachus was in the dirt with the gladiators continuing his plea, "in the name of Christ, stop!"
Screaming. Begging. To just stop...stop the murder.

Well, you can probably imagine what happens next . No one wants to hear this when they are enjoying a great match--so one of the gladiator stabs him. Some stories say he was also stoned. Others say everyone left the stadium in silence. One thing is for sure--
he made them think.

It was in the near future, some say the very next day, that the Emperor made an edict declaring that there would be no more gladiator games.

...all because of this man's plea. This man's passion to the death. He was only one, but he believed in the cause he was fighting for. And was vocal!

I can't help but think of MLK's quote that says, "
If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."

That is a bold, bold statement. But truly, I have to wholeheartedly agree. Not in the way, "he isn't fit to live" so he should just be killed--of course not, but instead, "he isn't fit to live"--meaning he won't have life to the full. [John 10:10] He isn't fit to live in the way he can.

Because this kind of life, this life with passion, this life where when we see injustice and suffering, we cry out--even if others laugh, even if death is right on our toes, this kind of life where we are so sold out, we would die for our brother [1 John 3:16], this life where we do all these things with boldness because the sting of death does not scare us, because it has been swallowed up. [
1 Cor. 15:55]

...well, I think this kind of life is beautiful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

My friend Alex posted this on her facebook a few weeks ago...and I loved it, so I'm posted it too:)

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

-Max Ehrmann