Just Got 2 Tell

Anything & Everything I Feel Compelled to Share with the World!

God Is So Good! March 30, 2014

There are many places in the Psalms where the writer reflects or calls the audience to reflect and remember what the Lord has done.  Remembering is key to moving forward.  I know so many say not to look back on the past to leave it there and press onward.  Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” but there are still times, most especially in the Christian life when we should reflect on the past, with a focus on what our Father in heaven has done for us.  By remembering what He has already done for us and all the ways He has proven His love for us, His provision and protection, whatever challenge may lie ahead seems so much smaller and easier to conquer.  Sometimes it takes remembering what He has already accomplished in order to believe and trust what He will continue to work in our lives.

I am writing this post with these thoughts in mind.  I have shared in past posts about my fitness journey, It’s Just a Number, but I think I really have tried to avoid writing about the topic.  Maybe because part of me was still afraid that I would fail and have the condemning eyes of whoever reads this blog looking down on me.  Maybe because another part of me is still embarrassed over the fact of being overweight for so long, and I really think at least part of it is because I really don’t want anyone saying ‘hey look at what she did’.  I do NOT like being in the limelight.  Some attention is nice every once in a while, trust me no one likes to be ignored, but I can only take small doses.

Why am I going to write about it now?  For God’s glory, not my own.  He has given me this story in order to show His greatness and His power.  So read the following if you like, but know that I had little part it in all.  I merely followed where He led.

I have been overweight most of my life.  To put it this way, I have never been skinny, slender, trim, etc.  Words like thick, solid, and chunky were always more fitting.  I was never very athletic, preferring to read or watch TV.  There have been many failed attempts at losing weight.  In college I did well, instead of gaining the freshman-fifteen, I lost it.  But after graduation I fell back into old habits, and so the cycle kept going.

In 2011, I started having problems with my knees, clicking cartilage and pain with excessive use.  There’s no telling how many times I’ve scraped and banged up my knees over the years.  Add that to the abuse of carrying around 200+ pounds for too many years = mild osteoarthritis.

That truly was my wake-up call.  It wasn’t anything major or life threatening, but at the age of 24 wondering about if and when I may have to have knee replacement surgery down the road.  It was scary.  August 2012 I joined the gym.  I went.  A lot.  That September I sprained my ankle.  Satan wanted to deter me early on.  After two weeks, when I could go with a brace instead of a boot, I was back to the gym.

Made to Crave Devotional has been one of my favorites.  I had heard the phrase “we all have a God-shaped hole” before, but this book made it more real.  God created us with the ability to crave.  He gave us cravings and desires.  He made us so that we could not feel complete or satisfied on our own.  It is an inherent need for HIM.  Only the signals get mistranslated and we think we’re really craving food, relationships, other substances, money, things, etc.  What we really need/want is God.

This fitness journey has been different.  Even my attempts before my goal was rarely to “be skinny”.  Most of the time it was to be healthy, to be not fat.  This time I wanted to serve God, to love Him and worship Him by how I took care of this earthly vessel.  I remembered that this body is a gift from God, a precious gift.  It is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, making my body a holy place.

How would we feel if someone filled our church building with trash and was never used for its intended purpose?

Taking care of my body is an act of worship. Not self-worship, a way to worship God, just as much as singing praise songs, sitting in church, and praying.  God wants everything we do to be an act of worship, a way of glorifying His name.

I think because of this attitude God has blessed me in this journey.  My knees still click, but there is rarely any pain.  My ankle is stronger than ever.  I have lost 63 pounds that I never want to see again.  It has not been easy.  I have failed in many ways.  God will pick you back up, but only if you’re willing.  He loves us too much to leave us where we are.  But we also have to want to move.

Praise God for helping me to be willing, for reminding me why I am doing this.

Exactly one year ago, I could only run 10 minutes before having to walk.  Yesterday I ran my first half-marathon, that’s 13.1 miles, in 2hours and 34minutes.

 

To God Be The Glory!!!

Left is from July 2012 on vacation to Niagara Falls.  Right is March 2014 before my half marathon.

Left is from July 2012 on vacation to Niagara Falls. Right is March 2014 before my half marathon.

 

The Temple Was Full January 20, 2014

Filed under: Christianity,God,Jesus Christ,Life,Spiritual Growth — Anna @ 12:40 PM

In church this past Sunday, the pastor spoke on 2 Chronicles 7. Verse 14 is fairly familiar, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” But that was not what the Lord impressed on me during the sermon. A Bible study group I’m a part of has been looking at idols, specifically going through Kelly Minter’s No Other Gods study. Chapter 7, verses 19 stuck out. “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them …verse 22 “Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like disaster. It’s no fun. I certainly don’t want Him to bring disaster on me. It’s one thing to go through hard times to grow in my walk with Him, but to have disaster brought on me. That’s a lot scarier. I think I like an earlier picture better. 2 Chronicles 7:1-2 (this is right after Solomon’s prayer of dedication over the temple) As soon as Solomon finished his prayer fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house.

Read that again.  The glory of the Lord filled the temple. It was filled so much by that glory that the priests could not enter it. Not they did not enter but they could not. Now I’m not a theologist, I haven’t studied Greek or Aramaic, so don’t quote me on this. But what if it wasn’t just that the glory of the Lord was such an overwhelming force that the priests did not feel worthy of entering or were afraid they might die if they entered? Scripture it said they couldn’t enter. They couldn’t physically enter the temple. What if the glory of the Lord filled the temple in such a way that there was no physical room for anything or anyone else to coexist with His glory?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19.  The temple is no longer just a building. It is the body of Christ, it is the body of believers. He no longer dwells only in the Holy of Holies. He dwells within each of our hearts.

What if His temple, our bodies, our lives were so filled with the glory of the Lord that nothing else could enter?

What if our hearts were so filled with His glory that there was no room for any false gods?

What would our lives look like? What would this world look like?

 

Save Me, Lord January 10, 2014

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues

Psalm 120:1-2

I happened upon this verse this morning in my devotionals. It wasn’t what was in the study for me to read. It wasn’t even the verse I flipped to that page for, but it most definitely stuck out to me, not like a sore thumb, more like a lifesaver in a turbulent sea. I was actually looking for Psalm 121: I lift my eyes into the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. I always sing this because Casting Crowns used the verse in the song, “Praise You In This Storm“. Truth be told, and you may have noticed, I typically have some song running through my head and/or many phrases or lines in a conversation may lead to me randomly breaking out into song. It all connects in my head.

I know I’ve read this verse, and there are many others similar. The Bible is filled with instances of calling out to God for help and Him answering our pleas. The Psalms speak often about the trouble with lying tongues. Lies are spoken and are fatal. The serpent’s deceitfulness led to death entering this world. But today that lying tongue hit quite a bit closer to home, more personal.

It’s not that I am finding that I have a problem lying to others, but my tongue is a liar. It lies to my head and my stomach. It tells my stomach it needs to growl that I’m hungry and need food, that I need chocolate or something sweet. That deceitful tongue decides that when I wake up in the middle of the night (for whatever reason) and it’s been hours since I ate that I need to eat something while I’m up.

The tongue is deceitful, I know that full well. And I am weak, giving into its cravings on a regular basis, even a year and a half into this health journey. Sometimes it’s like I should be beyond this now. I’ve been choosing salads over pizza for over a year; I should be able to resist the demands of my tastebuds.

James warns of the devestation that the tongue is capable of. The tongue is also a fire…It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire…No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:6-8) I know and understand that the intent of both passages are about the words we speak, but as the new year begins and I am already struggling with getting back on track after the holidays, I can’t help but see how this relates.

One of my toughest issues, biggest addictions, even idol is my tongue, giving into its cravings and eating what I know I shouldn’t. Romans 7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. And yes, I consider these bad eating habits evil, for they do not take care of God’s temple, my body. So, thus I feel as though I am continuing to strive to tame my tongue, to teach it to crave different foods. Sometimes it works. I’m good never having another fry from McDonalds. Bojangles may be another story, but I was there Sunday and resisted, enjoying every bite of my larabar. Sometimes it does not. James says that no man can tame the tongue. But I am woman, hear me roar. No, that won’t work either. So what then am I to do? With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible–Matthew 19:26. About this verse, Lysa Terkeurst says in Made To Crave: devotional “With human effort alone, it can seem impossible to deny yourself. With human effort alone, it can seem impossible to make sacrifices. With human effort alone, it can seem impossible to have self-control. But with God, all sacrificial things are possible. With God, all self-control is possible.”

I’ve turned my closet door into a motivational door, full of quotes and workout ideas, my running schedule, upcoming races. It’s time I actually started getting some of that stuff off of the door and into my mind. If only I could stay in my room all day looking at it and remembering what I need to do, but I have to go out into the world, and I cannot be like the man who looks at his face in a mirror and after goes away and forgets what he looks like. I have to remember their wisdom in the heat of the battle, in the kitchen, at work, whenever my tongue starts going behind my back to conspire with my stomach.

Enough is enough.

I know I will continue to fail, but I will call on the Lord in my distress, and He will answer. My help comes from the Lord. He will not let my foot slip. He has good plans for me, plans to prosper me and give me a future.

 

Beware the Pedestal January 2, 2014

Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family have definitely become a household name recently. My family watches the show at least once a week, even if we’ve seen the episode multiple times already. I have to say when I first heard of the show, I wasn’t too impressed. I really just put them in the category of all the other redneck reality shows the networks have been pushing. I admit I judged them by the cover. Then K-Love started talking about them and about their faith.

Duck Dynasty Teens, pic taken from Winterfest website

Moving in with my parents, the cover of the Robertson book was thrown open, and I ran to catch the bandwagon that had driven past. I was impressed by their faith and the ways they have stood by their faith despite the media pressures to be politically correct or edgy or whatever.

As I mentioned in my last post, I and a friend of mine went to Winterfest, two nights of concerts to bring in the new year. The entire thing started with a Q & A session with Sadie, John Luke, Cole, and Reed Robertson. They were real. They shared their faith, favorite verses, but at no point did it seem like they were doing it because it was expected of them. They didn’t give church answers; they shared from their heart. They had taken the examples of Mamaw Kay & Papaw Phil, as well as their parents, and made their family’s faith their own.

Now another thing I noticed at Winterfest was the serious fan club that surround these guys and Sadie. The two girls sitting in front of us during the concert had gotten up. I didn’t pay any attention to their departure, but they returned giggly and excited, telling the rest of their group, “I’m never washing this hand again. I shook hands with John Luke.”

I just want to encourage everyone to watch out for this attitude. Yes, these guys are, and this family is, worth admiring. But do not place them on a pedestal. They are pretty awesome people. They live out their faith, just as each of us are called to do. And they have been blessed because of that. But it’s very easy to fall into people worship, praising humans for the great things they do rather than their Maker who gives them to gifts and talents to do those things.

I found myself following that trail this morning. I was thinking along the lines of “how awesome of John Luke to be able to stand in front of thousands, telling them to get quiet, this is serious stuff, and share his heart and his faith. I wish I could be like that.” God quickly reminded me that I could be like that, that I have exhibited those same qualities, that I have stood boldly before others and shared my beliefs even when I knew they were contrary to popular opinion. I did not have the opportunity to stand before thousands and share those beliefs, but I did not flinch from the audience I did have.

That should be in the front of all of our minds. We admire the Robertson’s for standing strong and using Duck Dynasty and the opportunities that have arisen because of it as a witness to millions, but we are each given just as important of an audience, an audience that needs us to be strong in our faith, to be real.

So even while we get excited about getting to see or hear them speak, we need to pay a lot more attention to their message and remember we serve the same God, and we are loved equally (unconditionally) by that God, none of us are better or worse.

.

Another note: this same thing applies to any Christian speaker, writer, artist, performer. They do great things, but so can we because the same God is at work in all of us.

 

Run November 2, 2013

Filed under: Christianity,Comfort,Friends,God,Jesus Christ,Spiritual Growth — Anna @ 11:29 PM

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrew 12:1b

The verse has so much meaning to me, especially lately.  Of course its true meaning is the race of life and the course God has set for us. Let us not give up because things in life happen that are tough or hard to go through. But as a runner (I run, so that is what I am. Add that to the other hats I wear.), it is so much more real to me. Perseverance and endurance means running through the rain, the mud, the dark, the hot, the cold. It means not giving up just because it’s a monster hill or staying inside because you’re feeling tired, the true word for that is spelled L-A-Z-Y, LAAYZZEE!!

We often do that with life. We give up on relationships because we’re tired of working at it or because we’re tired of this or tired of that. We didn’t know that friendship or that relationship would be so hard to maintain. God never said it would be easy. Now my head starts singing the song. Remember, the devil is a roaring lion trying to devour us. His way of devouring us might not be killing us. Honestly, I really think Satan’s favorite way of destroying Christians and roadblocking our work for Christ, is by making us feel tired. We have a tendency to get selfish in that tiredness and think someone else needs to take up the load we feel like we’ve been carrying. We pull out of things because it’s too much, we’re doing too much. We let friendships fall to the side, because we’re tired of always being the one to call or make things work. But what we don’t always realize is how much God wants us to be involved.

Let us not run away. Let us run the race marked for us, and run it with endurance. Because what’s waiting at the finish is so much better than anything they got up there. Under the sea… so much better than anything that we could try to plan for ourselves.

It’s going to be hard. We’re going to want to give up. Trudging and crawling through thick, goopy, suction cup-like mud today was hard, and I really didn’t know if I could take one more mud pit. That last one was tougher than any of the other obstacles throughout the whole race. I didn’t think I could do it, but I knew that finish line was just around the corner. All I had to do was make it to out of the mud and it was in the bag.

Keep going. Never give up!

DSCF3841                DSCF3842
DSCF3843                   DirtyDanDash 1

 

Perspective October 19, 2013

Honestly, so much has been running through my mind this past week, things I would like to blog about or on, but I’ve kinda been busy and haven’t had much time to blog lately. I guess it’s like most everything else in life, it’s not about finding time it’s about making time. But now that I am sitting here blogging, the question is what do I write about first. I find myself wanting to talk about how weird I feel using the word blog as a verb, but I’ll refrain as there’s no lasting value there.

I actually started writing this post with a different aim, but after the events of this evening, I felt just a bit more compelled to talk about perspective.  It’s actually been on my mind for a while. It was even something one of my focuses when speaking to teen girls last month. But in the last week, God’s given a new realization of it, and after watching Soul Surfer tonight with a group of beautiful young ladies, Perspective shouted out at me once again. So I’m pretty sure I should stop avoiding the topic and just hash it all out for all to read.

Perspective is individual. We all have our own take on everything. It’s something I try to teach my students. When there is a problem I always want to hear from all involved. Each story has two (or more) sides, those sides are perspectives. Perspectives can also often be limited to what we can see, to how we are looking, how we are feeling, etc.

The event I spoke at in September, held for teen girls, focus was be-you-tiful. It wasn’t just about finding beauty but on being you, the person you are. Speaking as a female, we as a gender have trouble finding beauty in ourselves. I’m still not sure how or when it started, but we are very self-critical and can rattle off a whole list of things that make us anything but beautiful. But it’s due to our perspective.

The Bible is filled with verses that speak of our beauty, as a daughter of the King, so if I believe the Bible is the Spirit-breathed Word of God, then I have to believe that I am beautiful, even if I don’t always feel it.

Last year, after reading Stasi & John Eldredge’s Captivating, I began to pray for Jesus to show me my beauty, for Him to help me to see myself the way that He sees me. And He has. He’s done it in little ways over the year, revealed things about my character, my body that previously I had seen negatively.

Somehow it really seems to have culminated recently. It’s like all of a sudden I see myself so much differently. I’m also realizing that certain people have been telling the truth for years, even though I didn’t believe them. For instance the boldness I spoke of in It’s Finally Happened.

My best friend in the world lives all the way on the other side of the country. Bummer, I know. But we keep connected with 3 to 8 page emails, and I still have one she sent me detailing things I had done that she saw as bold and brave and courageous, no matter how meek, timid, and shy I feel I am. Perspective. Those things she mentioned such as spending a summer serving God in South Carolina and again in Texas, I had never seen them as bold. To me they were just the natural course of action for what God had told me to do. When I went to Guatemala in March of this year, so many thanked me for being brave enough to fly to far from home. It wasn’t scary. I didn’t feel courageous doing it. It was what I was supposed to do.

Now I see that what I have seen as ordinary things, others see as something so much different.

So I pose this question for you to ponder. How accurate is your perspective?

 

In the Pursuit of Happiness July 24, 2013

Filed under: Christianity,Love & Life — Anna @ 11:24 PM

Oh the things that we, especially Americans, do in the pursuit of personal happiness. Granted, the majority of us do pursue our happiness without infringing too badly on others. But at what cost to ourselves?

We constantly fall prey to the adage “If you don’t like what you see, change it” most specifically in regards to what we see in the mirror. If you don’t like your face, throw some make-up on it. If you don’t like your body, hit the gym harder, or better yet try this ‘fool-proof, new, magic diet pill’. Don’t like your hair? Cut and color. Viola! And hey! If you happen to have money, there’s nothing you can’t change. Get fuller lips, smaller butt. You can even change genders.

I know. I just dove into shark invested infested waters, but hopefully I can clear my point before drowning or losing too much blood. The other day I found myself thinking about why someone would prefer to be the opposite gender that they were born. It’s just unnatural (obviously). Of course I cannot speak for anyone who has chosen this, but I’m pretty sure it really comes down t0 the fact that they are not happy with themselves the way they are and feel that they would be happier by changing their gender.

Yeah, I know. Incredibly profound. But think about for a minute. How many of us are constantly trying to change something about ourselves? No, it’s rarely anything as big as our gender, but a little concealer here to hide a wrinkle or a freckle, spandex there to hide some extra pudge.

Why can’t we just be happy the way we are? Or at least content. Happiness is not eternal. Joy is, and contentment can be, but contentment is a choice. Choosing to be content instead of wasting time, money, and energies chasing after what is only temporary.

Contentment is also an understanding. An understanding that what is happening to you, what you have (possessions or physical description), there is a reason for it. An understanding that God made you the way He did for a purpose. And since He made you the way you are with a purpose in mind, why try to change it. Instead of trying to change the way we are, why not try to change what we like?

Don’t like freckles? Learn to like them. Yes, it is possible to learn to like something. I absolutely HATED raw tomatoes for over 20 years (I would say my entire life, but mom says I did eat them before I started school). But slowly in the last few months, I have come to enjoy them. Changing our likes is not easy, but when does God ask us to choose the easy path?

I challenge you. Learn to love you for who you are.

 

**Disclaimer. Wanting to lose weight to be healthy and take care of your body is completely different from the desire for change described above. God calls us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to our care, that includes our earthly vessel which is also His Temple. As Christians, His Spirit resides in us. So lose weight, get fit, not because you think it will make you happy, but because God has called you to.

 

It’s Just A Number April 29, 2013

I’ve always struggled with my weight. Since kindergarten, when a boy called me “slow-poke”. I’ve been through many failed attempts at getting healthy, though “healthy” was not always my goal. Many times I just wanted to be ‘skinny’ or at least ‘not fat’. But see, I’m cursed. I love to eat and I live in the South. And I grew up in a Baptist church. And my mother and grandmother are fantastic cooks. And I hate sweating and being hot, or at least I did growing up. And my favorite hobby was reading as opposed to athletics.

I admit, I cheated in P.E. when we had to run the mile every Friday. I usually only ran 3 laps instead of the required 4, but taking longer than 15minutes to finish meant running again on Monday. I didn’t like to run, not unless it was to get away from my brother or chase him down for some reason I felt was important then.

One of my biggest problems has been what I call ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. I’m really not sure if it’s a word or if others have used it as well or even claim a copyright on it, but I use it. I start something and do good for like a week then the motivation wanes and I fall back to old habits. The most I was able to stick to ‘getting healthy’ was in college. Oddly enough I didn’t have a problem with the Freshmen Fifteen, I’d already gained some from spending a summer as a missionary in Houston (those church people fed me well). Gym on campus was paid for by tuition, so I might as well get my money’s worth. By the time I had moved home Christmas ’07, I had lost 25lb. But being back home where their eating and activity habits hadn’t changed, those pounds slowly came back.

Moved out again two years later, was going to start afresh. Tried walking and running on the road, taking the dog with me. Beagles do not make good running companions. They always want to follow their nose, and plus my oldest (who was my only then) does great on the way out and most the way back until he realizes we’re close to home and then stops, refuses to walk. I thought at first he was just tired by then, but no. He didn’t want to be inside or on the chain. Can’t let him loose, too stubborn to come when called.

In September, I joined a gym that’s not far from the house and despite spraining my ankle and the typical overeating during the holidays, I’ve lost 29 pounds. Most weight I’ve lost ever. And I feel great. My right ankle is still weak, but it has come a long way from where it was. In November 2011, I started having problems with my knees, an annoying clicking sound when going up hills and stairs and pain after extensive use. Mild arthritis was the eventual diagnosis. I can’t remember the last time I took a pain pill for my knee, though the clicking is still there.

It’s different this time. I know it is because my focus for getting in shape is a lot different from just looking good or being ‘not fat’. My goal as I burn calories and push myself to run farther than I ran the week before is so that I will be ready and able to do that which God has called me to do. How can I be a wife and mother, taking care of others, when I can’t take care of my own body? There is no limit to what God may give me, to what He may ask of me. So if He asks me to take His love to the top of a mountain, will I be able?

It’s still a hard battle. Day by day. (step by step, day by day…..theme song to Step by Step from ABC’s TGIF, stuck in my head now) It’s a conscious choice every moment, and yes I fail. Still have failures everyday, but it’ll get better. One day I’m going to enjoy raw tomatoes, though I’ll always have to pass on that “mater samich” slathered with Duke’s mayo.

** Update July 31, 2013. I DO enjoy raw tomatoes now, though it is still better not by itself, and I have eaten a “mater samich” with a very small amount of Duke’s mayo.

 

I Left My Heart In Guatemala, Part II March 24, 2013

Filed under: Christianity,Jesus Christ,Love & Life,Missions — Anna @ 10:51 PM

DSCF2582I did not go on my trip alone.  I would have in a heartbeat, but I talked one of my closest friends, Suzanne, into going along with me. We went through World Help, an organization that partners with Christian organizations already in place in many countries in order to better provide the needs (physical and spiritual) of those there.

On Monday, March 11, our moms dropped us off at RDU for our flight out. Delayed almost an hour getting out of Raleigh, we had to book it across the terminal in Atlanta to barely make our flight to Guatemala. The adventure had begun. Upon landing, we met some of our group, the others coming on later flights. All in all there were 31 of us in our group. At least seven states represented, ranging from college students, to a mom and her daughters, to cousins+2dads. I commented later in the week how amazing it was that God used so many different situations, reasons, and motivations to bring us all there for the same cause.

Group Hospital Pic

We arrived at Hope of Life in Zacapa, Guatemala Tuesday around lunch, and got to work soon after handing out food bags in a village called Modelo, a village that came as a result of displaced families after a hurricane. We heard so many amazing stories of groups, organizations, churches that had raised/donated money to provide church buildings, schools, wells, etc. I cannot even begin to describe how overwhelming at times God’s power and provision were. Hearing Carlos (founder of Hope of Life) tell of how the money for St. Luke’s Hospital was raised, there is no doubt we serve an amazing God.

*I am finding myself wanting to give a detailed list of everything that we did, the order we did it in, where we went, etc. It’s part of my personality, all the parts are important, to not spare any details. It comes in handy when writing stories/books, but not as much when talking to other people, and it can make a blog seem wordy, though I’m pretty sure all blogs are wordy, unless they only consist of pictures, then they are ‘picturey’. Okay, bad joke, but in trying to give the details, it would come across more as a news article and the emotions would be lost. I do not want to lose the emotions of this trip, not at all ever. I think I experienced the full-range of human emotion in the three and half days we were at Hope of Life.

DSCF2697 Tuesday night I had the opportunity to meet my sponsored child, Greisi Yaneth. Greisi is pronounced the same as Gracie, which was my great-grandmother’s name. She & I both share July birthdays, and she wants to become a teacher, which I am proud to be. I will be honest and say that as amazing an experience as it was, it was still on the awkward side. It was my first night there, and my Spanish didn’t start rolling off my tongue until Friday, so communication was broken. But after praying for her for a year, I was able to hug her and look into her eyes and tell her I loved her.

I’ll take this time to plug in my awesome students. I love my job, even though it has it’s trying moments. Our theme before my departure was “Helping Others,” with a focus on helping parents, friends, and even people we didn’t know. They were excited to learn about Greisi and how Ms. Anna was helping her and was going to meet her. They made cards/pictures for her, which I was able to give to her, and have loved looking at this picture of me with her.

Wednesday, Carlos gave us a tour of everything at Hope of Life, a 3,000 acre campus/compound. Listening to him talk is something I could do all day, listening to what God has done, everything Carlos has done for the Kingdom. “First pray, Then act”.  “Cats don’t fall from heaven”. Great stories to hear, but would never sound right if I tried to type them. But to hear how it all started with a single vision to help the elderly, and now it serves thousands of people, elderly, orphaned, hungry, needy, battered, abandoned, hurting.

DSCF3014 DSCF2999

In one crazy long sentence, our team in Guatemala had the privilege of distributing 600 pairs of Toms shoes, washing little feet for them, packing and delivering 100,000 servings of food for 800 families, working in the warehouse packaging hundreds of pounds of toiletries, painting the inside of the baby rescue center, holding orphan babies, throwing a pizza/piñata FIESTA for the children at the orphanage, ministering to the elderly, loving on the special needs children, rescuing six children who needed medical care & most importantly….Spreading the love of Christ because He loved us first.

 

I Left My Heart In Guatemala, Part I March 19, 2013

So, I had every intention of  updating this blog before I left for my six day trip to Guatemala, had wanted to make it somewhat of a series.  A before and after kinda thing, but so much to do in so little time, and the blog became the last thing on my mind as the clock was ticking down.

I had been waiting for this chance for years, the chance to go to Guatemala on a missions trip. It’s a hard thing to explain, but I do know it’s a God-thing for sure. In high school I felt God calling me into missions, definitely a push towards more missions even as a student, but also towards foreign missions career. I don’t know if it was because of my intensity for studying Spanish in high school, but Guatemala somehow planted itself in my mind.  The idea of serving as a career missionary in a Guatemalan orphanage kept sticking in my head. By high school graduation that was the 20 year plan for my life: attend & graduate from Liberty University, meet Mr. Right, mission field to Guatemala.

Life never happens as we expect it to. I’m still single, and have yet to go out of the country on missions for longer than a week. I’m not saying God changed His mind about what I should do, or that I misinterpreted Him. Nope, I’m afraid to say that I chickened out. It probably wasn’t the type of cowardice normal people would expect me to have had, like afraid of being away from home, family, friends for so long, afraid of dangers in the foreign country. It was more of a fear of fundraising. I don’t know why, but I don’t like having to ask others for thing. I’m “Miss Independent, Miss Self-sufficient” (Kelly Clarkson). I guess it’s a pride thing, but I think I’ve come to see it as a self-worth thing as well, not seeing myself as important enough to warrant the giving of others. Anyway, God’s working on me with that. But long story short, I chickened out of an opportunity to go on missions to Guatemala and learn Spanish through immersion for a summer, and took the easier challenge of Summer Internship at the daycare I was already working at. Which probably started the chain of events and choices that led me to where I am now: lead teacher of an NC-PreK classroom, working to earn my B-K teaching license, etc.

But Guatemala has never been far from my mind, no matter what I’ve been doing, where I’ve lived, etc. I often think about it, pray for the nation as a whole, for the people, and specifically for its children. For the last year I’ve sponsored a little girl from Guatemala through World Help. And last March, while looking on World Help’s website, I found information about how to GO, a trip in March 2013.

Fundraising didn’t scare me as bad, but still there’s the whole “everyone’s always asking for support for this or that, they might not want to or be able to give to this” But I did it. I faced the fear and pushed through to the other side and was immensely blessed even before flying out of the country. Never did I expect to receive the support that I did, the care, encouragement, and prayers.

I’ll be updating again to share about everything that happened during the week. So stay tuned.

<>< Anna