Friday, May 6, 2011

My thoughts about packing::

When I was a little girl and my grandparents would pull out my little suitcase and tell me we were going somewhere fabulous- it was ALWAYS somewhere fabulous, I would immediately start to pack, EVERYTHING.

Even as a child I was an overpacker, if I was going somewhere for the day, I would stuff as many things into my little girl purse as possible and still feel nervous that I wouldn’t have what I needed when I got there.
In my early 20’s I accepted the fact that I would always be an over-packer.  If I was on a trip with a group, I would always have the most luggage.  It was ok, I was comfortable that way.

The first few times I packed for trips to Zimbabwe were a nightmare.  “3 suitcases of 70 pounds?? I will be gone a year!!!” Some of you were gracious enough to help me pack those bags. You witnessed my dilemma, what I wanted to take vs what was reasonable to take.  What supplies were needed vs how much shampoo I thought would get me through!

Every year when I travel to Zim after visiting the States, I cry when it’s time to pack.  I used to cry because I couldn't fit everything and I couldn’t imagine living without anything!

Today I am 31 and when I travel to Zimbabwe I get a luggage allowance of 2 bags of 50 pounds each thanks to high fuel prices!  I have more people to buy gifts for than ever and I know more projects and more of their needs than ever before.

I have to understand that I cannot fit everything into 100 pounds.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.” – Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry

Today I am packing to travel to Michigan for a week to visit my grandma and family. It is mother’s day and my grandma’s birthday and it has been ages since I have been able to look in the eyes of the women who raised me and tell them I love them on this day. I do not take their sacrifices for granted.

I am also packing my bags for Zimbabwe, with the hope that after this week with them I will be getting back to my work!

Yesterday the doctor wrote a letter releasing me back to work after all of my medical treatments I wanted to dance my way out of Nashville General Hospital!

But today I am faced with the reality of packing.  My tears today are not about putting stuff in a suitcase, I feel blessed to even have stuff and a case to put it in. I feel more blessed to have a journey. My tears are about the comings and the goings.  You see,  in order for me to go to Zimbabwe, I must leave the US.  That has always been the problem… leaving behind the people who make my life special.

When people ask me about what my daily life looks like in Zimbabwe, they get sad when I tell them about the work that I do, they often say, “That must be so hard”.  Yes it is, but what is harder is at the end of the day I come home to someone else’s family.  I celebrate the birthdays of the relatives of others.  I attend weddings of other people’s cousins.  I am so grateful to the people in Zimbabwe that have made me a part of their family.  There are too many to list.  No matter how much I love them, I am still missing my own family.

I am blessed to have so many families and so many places that make me feel at home.  The challenge comes in only being able to be in one place at a time… it means that I am always missing someone, somewhere.

Today is my last day in Nashville for a while.  For those special people who have made me at home here, who have made me a part of their family, I will be eternally grateful.  Nearly 3 months of medical care would been far more difficult without my best friend Natalie and her family and the dear people of Bluegrass Baptist Church.

My tears while packing today are not about shirts and shoes… even if it may look that way.  Today my tears are about you.  I will miss you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I am my mother's daughter - redeemed.

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of women, mostly mothers who are in a long-term inpatient rehab facility.  I was invited there by a new friend who thought the women would like to hear some of my story.

My heart broke for a group of women that I didn’t even know, because I know the pain of a mother who is separated from her child because of her addiction.  I know the pain, because it was the pain of my mother.
As much as my heart hurt because I missed my mother, she was hurting too.  It has taken me a long time to understand that… to feel compassion for her.

Mother’s day is around the corner and I have a special love for mothers.  I have been blessed to have many mothers in my life, women who have come along side of me to walk through life with me, in a way that my own mother never could.  Because of these women I have learned what Maya Angelou meant by, “A mother’s love liberates.”

Today, as I was sharing some of my story with these women, hoping to encourage them on their own journey to recovery, I was reminded of how much my life has changed.  I feel so blessed to have experienced all that I have so far, but more blessed to realize that God is the hero in this story, and that all of the glory is His.
The word that I see woven all through this story of my life, is ‘Redeemed’.  One definition of redeemed that I love is this: to restore the honor, worth or reputation of.  I couldn’t redeem myself; I needed someone to help repair my honor and reputation. God did that for me… He continues to do that for me.  I relate daily to the scripture that says, “He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, And I will live to enjoy the light.”  

Today, I live to enjoy the light… but I can remember what it feels like to be in the pit.  Perhaps that is why I can still relate to women who feel they are there, experiencing some of their darkest moments.  I love seeing their teary eyes fill with hope when they hear that the redemption I have received is freely available to them as well.
Today as I shared my story, the story of me and my mother, I saw a beautiful thing happen.  I saw a glimpse of the bigger picture.  I saw the pain being healed and the ashes being made beautiful.  Today as women came to me, thankful for the messages I shared, I got a glimpse of my mother’s legacy.  And for maybe the first time ever, I was proud of her.  I am my mother’s daughter.  And the product of the love of a group of women who stood in the gap and gave me what my mother couldn’t.   I know this truth, “There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.”  ~Robert Brault

For anyone who is a mother, Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden...

Ever since I first heard the news last night that Osama Bin Laden was dead, that the military had finally captured him, I have had mixed emotions.  I felt conflicted- relieved that we can stop talking about the search for him and yet sad at the idea that a man who caused so much pain and death has met his death and will now face judgement. 

One thing is true, I will not rejoice or celebrate his death.  His death does not make me feel safe nor does it make me feel relieved.  I do not feel any more or less protected than I did yesterday... I have however felt saddened by the facebook and twitter posts that are celebratory, as if we have won something.  I have thought multiple times over the past 24 hours that if someone murdered my relative and was being executed --would i go to watch? Maybe.  Would I be dancing in the street and throwing a party? Probably not.  I am not sure that I would feel as if I've won anything and that is how I feel now.  I do not feel as if his body is a prize.  I was struggling with my mixed emotions and then I read this, from a blog of a friend of mine that I respect greatly.  He wrote,

"Death is the most powerful weapon at our disposal. It was Bin Laden's greatest power - death and the fear of the death. Today we see that it is America's great power. His reign was ended with his own weapon. It has always been this way. The kings of the earth kill one another. Some will argue that there are times when killing is justified. I am torn on that matter. What I do know is that the world runs on the fear of death.

Our King understood this. So, he attacked the biggest enemy itself. Our King died to beat death. While every other King who has ever lived used death to gain power, Jesus the Christ died to gain power. And our King is the only King to ever beat death"

Today I am reminded of a quote spoken a long time ago by another man that I respect...Martin Luther King jr.  He said, "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ~MLK jr.

I do not believe in hate. I do not believe in murder.  I do not believe in vengeance.  I believe in LOVE. I believe in forgiveness.  I believe in justice.  I believe in hope. I believe in LOVE.  

I believe that there has only been one death that has ever brought peace.  It did not happen last night, but it was celebrated by many last week.  

My heart aches for everyone affected by September 11 and the events that have followed.  I believe every American has been.  At the very least, we have been made afraid... very afraid.  But the death of Osama Bin Laden cannot erase the fear of death, not in my opinion.  Only Jesus can do that.  I am proud to be an American.  But I am a Christian first, an American 
second... my journey through life in Zimbabwe has taught me that.

This is just my opinion... I will leave you with a few thoughts of my biggest hero, and you can form your own.

"As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! " Ezekial 33:11 (MSG)

"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." John 10:10 (MSG)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" Matthew 5:43 (NLT)