Monday, April 30, 2007

because it just needs to be said...

I realize compared to my last post, this one is completely pointless and meaningless. But I just need to vent.

There are some songs that I just cannot stand right now, and I wish I could send a memo to all radio stations to either limit or cancel their play of such ridiculousness. If I had to make a top 10 list of worst songs on the radio right now, this would be it:

#10: This is Why I'm Hot, by Mims. My brother-in-law likes to think this is his theme song, and it's pretty funny to hear him sing it. I like the chorus, but it gets slightly too repetitive and I get bored about 30 seconds into the song.

#9: How to Save a Life, by The Fray. OK, I like the Fray. But not when we hear the same song over and over again. This one was good like a year ago when the CD came out, thanks.

#8: She's Like the Wind, by Lumidee. Who the freak is Lumidee? And though Patrick Swayze attempted to pull this one off for Dirty Dancing and it somehow worked for the movie, let's just leave this song alone from now on.

#7: Irreplaceable, by Beyonce. If you've read my blog before, you probably already know I'm not a fan of Beyonce. I just can't take anymore...but somehow, I like her song with Shakira...

#6: anything Nickelback. They all sound the same. Enough said.

#5: Don't Matter, by Akon. I cannot handle the part that goes "cause we gon' fight, oh yes we gon' fight, believe we gon' fight..." Way too nasally for his own good. I feel like I'm in munchkin land when I hear that part.

#4: Break It Off, by Rihanna and Sean Paul. What does it mean to be somebody's "shorty" anyway? I mean, I guess whenever I like some guy I could just sing to him "wanna know boy...if i can be your sho'tay..." hm...

#3: Over It, by Katharine McPhee. I heard this song for the first time and sorta liked it. Then about 30 seconds in it sounded like every other song that Hilary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, and all the other pop girls have had. I'm sooo over that.

#2: Lips of an Angel, by Hinder. In fact, ANYTHING by Hinder. I still can't believe some country artist stooped so low as to cover this song. Unbelievable. I feel like I'm being yelled at whenever I hear his voice.

#1: Glamorous, by Fergie. OK, Fergie. We get know how to spell. You don't need to turn every song into a spelling bee. This song makes me cringe.

That's all for the sarcasm today, folks. I just had to get it off my chest.

'Till next time...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Around the World...Romania, Pt. 3

I'm back again...with more pictures and plenty of thoughts from my trip to Romania. Since I've been back it's been a whirlwind of events and being sick (I'm better now...had a not-so-fun bacterial infection of some sort) and finally trying to unpack my suitcases still after being back for 3 weeks. Today has been refreshing as it was the Christian Women's Conference at LCC (a.k.a. Ladies' Day or "Skip Day" to students...), and we had some great speakers. The day has had a somewhat cheesy reputation in the past, but it really is beginning to change. I listened to 2 of the speakers this morning (Priscilla Shirer and Lisa Harper) and they were both completely solid, not-fluffy, deep Biblical communicators. I was coming to Bloomington already this evening, so I was able to bring Lisa Harper and her assistant to the airport here. Just our conversation in the car was refreshing to me, and it was fun to talk to her! I think it was God-ordained that I brought her instead of one of the other speakers.

Anyway, we came earlier than planned, so I'm enjoying a little time in Panera to catch up, email, do some work, write, and now share some more of Romania with those of you who care enough to look!

In the car on the way here, Lisa was talking to me about some of my passions. There's no doubt that I'm passionate about music, but I can't get away from the fact that I have a strong passion for missions. Now, I know pretty darn well that I'm not cut out for being a full-time missionary on the field. I'm not trying to limit God at all, but I just don't think He's created me to do that. I think He's specifically given me the compassion to conribute, but my gifts and strengths work better to strengthen and support those who actually are in the field. I just hope someday I'll be making enough money to actually contribute...but then we can all keep waiting until we make "enough" and it will never be enough.
Missions is one of those things, though, which makes people reluctant to give money to. When you look at all of the TV commercials and so many organizations like Compassion and World Vision and Gospel for Asia and all of the places you can support, it's hard to know where your money's going to. I can speak for the latter 3 with the knowledge that they are truly giving their money to the little faces you see on the packets at concerts and other events. Their directors aren't living in mansions and driving Ferrari's on your dime. I'm thankful for that. I hope and pray that all of them are.

I'm digressing somewhat from what I wanted to share, but my point is this: the faces on those cards are real people. The money we have truly makes a HUGE difference in the lives of other people. I hate myself for spending $76 on a purse that isn't worth it knowing that I could have just fed a family for a month. I'm left, frustrated with myself, knowing I could have made a difference. Instead, I just have a different purse. This is sad.
These words about poverty and change don't carry much power or influence, though, until you see the need firsthand. While we were in Romania, we had the privilege of visiting a poor Romanian village. We delivered bags of necessary food and drink items to about 12 families that lived in huts made of blue tarp, random scraps of wood, cardboard, rugs, blankets, and anything else they can find. It was the closest I had ever come to true poverty, and it was unbelievable. These people live off of whatever they can scrounge up, and I can't help but wonder if their lives will ever be any different. Society gives them no value as human beings, so their chances of ever having a job are highly unlikely. They can only rely on the waste of other people and the compassion that the Church will hopefully have there in Romania.
Being there and able to see these homes, the people's faces, their few belongings, their pride in what they have, their need for what they don' is something that changes you. It's still changing me. I'm not fully there yet. But there's something about seeing the inside of a 10' x 10' house for a family with 5 kids, smelling the burning of a fire on which their little food is cooked, seeing & smelling human feces on the ground because there is nowhere else to go...these things cannot go untold. These people have stories that need to be shared, and that's the reason I write. Their lives have worth. That's the reason I have pictures to show you about this. It felt awkward taking pictures of their lives, because I didn't want them to feel like a spectacle. However, this is the only way I can bring a picture of their reality to yours and mine. Here's a bit of life that we can barely comprehend. Let it sink in a bit...

(above) We got to go in this house...
(below) This is the family who lives here...

(above) They brushed these things out of the way to "clean up" for us as we were able to enter their home.

(below) This was the inside of their tiny home, complete with rugs hanging on walls, one giant bed that this family of 5-6 all sleeps on, random articles of clothing piled up, and a radio playing with some music.

(above) A husband and wife proudly posed in front of their home for us.
(below) One of the little boys immediately started eating some cookies from a bag of Joe's (or similar Romanian wafer cookies) that we took them.

The picture above is one of my favorites and sums up what I felt inside of the tiny hut home we saw for about 3 minutes. This was the sheet hanging in their window in place of a curtain. I noticed the sun shining through the colorful fabric and couldn't help but think about the rays of hope that I so often miss. I hope the people living here can see the sunshine in the midst of their world that seems dark and empty. Their physical needs are great, and I'm sure their emotional needs are even greater. I pray that the light of truth is shed on their lives as their lives shine light into my own. It makes me praise God for His colors of creativity...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Around the World, Pt. 2

There is still so much to process as I look through my pictures from Romania. It's hard to describe the country or just the city of Oradea. The entire time we were there, I couldn't wrap my mind around a way to describe what it looked like, felt like, smelled like, tasted like...

...the only word I can come up with is this: unfinished. That's how it looks. Some things look Westernized, and others look completely undone. Some houses are big, beautiful, bright-colored homes with a gated driveway, and others might live a mile down the road in a hut made of tarp and random scraps of wood. Brand new things are being built while older buildings are in shambles. Either way--new or old--things just look like a work in progress, incomplete, unfinished.

While the looks of Romania seem unfinished, that was the feeling there in the hearts of the people. I don't think that's a bad place to be. In fact, I wish we allowed ourselves to be a little less finished and complete in our state both spiritually and economically as a nation. My instincts were to look down in pity at them as we often do other countries, because we think they have less than we have. While it may be true in the sense of belongings, I think we're missing a lot of the pieces that they seem to have in place. When we left, my joy was greater than I had experienced in a long time, and I know that's a piece that I found in Romania. I think there are many more left to find.

I'm still processing so much from this trip, but here are more pictures to enjoy and allow you to process some of the beauty of the city of Oradea and its people. I plan on posting more soon! Trust me, there are plenty...and these are only some of my favorites!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

a walk around the world...Part 1

I don't even know where to begin writing about my trip to Romania. I recall writing 2 weeks ago that I had no idea what I was stepping into in going on this trip. It's clear to me now that God had some things in me He wanted to change and some things in the world He wanted me to see. Our 8 days there didn't seem quite long enough, and I'm here wishing I was still there. After traveling 6000 miles and over 15 hours of transportation, my feet have walked on different soil. The ground there was pretty hard and rocky, and now that I think of it, that's how my heart felt before I left. I'm glad I walked on different soil for a few days...
Enjoy some of my photos and journal entries from the trip that will hopefully give you a picture of what I experienced in another part of the world...

4/2/07-“It’s already starting to sink in…all that we’ve experienced thus far in Romania (which really isn’t all that much). I realized tonight while playing baseball with Florine & Feri that these kids are bringing out a joy in me that’s just been missing for awhile. It’s like I had forgotten how to laugh and play, and I’m rediscovering joy in such simple things like basketball (and my lack of skill therein), baseball, taking a picture, getting a kiss on the cheek from a little boy, or pushing a little girl on a swing.
These children simply want my attention and love, and deep down I think I really just want theirs! My selfish heart came here empty, but day by day it’s filling up more as I give and receive love and experience the true joy & community they live in. We make such great efforts to have a strong sense of community in the American church, and it never seems to fit for me. Here, community happens because it MUST in order to survive. The kids who live at Caminul Felix were abandoned, some malnourished, mistreated…now they’re in homes with parents who love them unconditionally. That’s something they could never dream of in the public Romanian society or from their own biological parents. These kids have already withstood more trial than I have in life, and it’s only going to make them stronger. I pray that the ministry of Caminul Felix and the people around them will help to grow them into world changers.”

4/5/07--"“…We just got back from the gypsy village, and a little girl stole my heart. Her beautiful smile and adorable face made my heart melt. Though her clothes were dirty and worn, she had the most charming little smile that only made me smile inside. We couldn’t communicate at all, so I asked a translator to ask her name for me. It was Sarah. I pointed to myself and told her my name, and with a tiny little voice she pronounced 'man-dy'. I held her the entire time we were there and we just made each other giggle. I would push her bangs back out of her eyes and tuck them behind her ear, and then she would do the same to me. Never before have I learned to love a little girl so quickly and without using words.

It was amazing to see all of the children run down the street at the gypsy village just to see us. As soon as we arrived, our vans were swarmed with kids who just wanted to play with us and have their pictures taken on an digital camera so they could see themselves making silly faces! It was so incredible…

These kids are so beautiful and they seem to find joy in such simple things...It's a shame I have to travel around the world just to learn a lesson like that, but I'm thankful that I did.
Stay tuned for more...there's so much to say and so many pictures to show off! I can't wait to share more w/ you!