Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Discipline of Slowing Down

Life demands that we slow down and even stop sometimes. We stop at certain traffic lights and signs, we stop when the batteries die in electronics, our bodies even naturally slow us down as we sleep.  God has created rhythms and slowing down is part of His plan. I'm not talking about Sabbath- that's a whole other kind of stopping.  I'm talking about a slowing down that allows us to shift our focus from one thing to another.  There are at least two major kinds of slowing down in my life. The first is on a daily basis and the second kind happens after a longer amount of time-sometimes every few months, sometimes every few years.

I am currently in America where I have been for the past six weeks and will be for the next seven weeks.  It is good to have a change of scenary, different pace of life for a bit.  During what has become my "normal" life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia I am met daily with the reality of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children, women and men.  Along with each new story that we become part of at our center for prevention and restoration comes the chance to believe a victim, form a strategy to help and pray for God's favor and wisdom as we go forward.

And then, at the end of a workday, I am presented the tasks of leaving the office and focusing on other relationships, to-do-lists and outlets in my own life.  It takes a lot for me to be able to treat what I do at our drop-in center as just one part of my life.  Everything in me doesn't want to stop thinking about, talking through, strategizing a case until it is in the best possible place it can be, until we have completely spent all of our energy and resources-beyond what is expected- so that a child is safe, a family has a plan for financial success, a teenager understands and can apply principles to give himself a bright future, a mother is given the best medical services we can find so she can continue to care for her children, a father is taught about the consequences his choices have on his family...... I don't want to stop, even though it's 4:30 and time to go home.

I know though that if I chose to keep going I would have nothing to give tomorrow. And tomorrow will come with its new stories and new opportunities for myself and our Khmer employees to help.

So, as I live in Cambodia I do choose the discipline of slowing down and shifting my focus so I am filled up by lighter things because I know it is what will help me keep going tomorrow.

But right now, tonight, I sit here in America with LOTS of time on my hands because I don't have daily committments or to-do-lists.  I've chosen to stop for longer than I'm allowed in Cambodia.  And as I live in this strange place of 'in between' where I don't have the same demands/opportunities that have become normal I find myself with different opportunities being given to me by my Creator.

Some days I'll see an article (or five) on Facebook about pedophiles in Cambodia and I have the opportunity to pray my heart out...His heart really.  I can just sit with the pain, the anger, the hope for transformation....all my thoughts and emotions can be what they may for as long as it takes for me to feel satisfied that I have given my heart, my attention, given my all emotionally to this thing that is so complicated and can never be wrapped up in one workday.

Other days I can't stop thinking about those I've grown to love in Cambodia. Literally, can't stop. I know what their days look like, I know when to pray and what to pray for because I'd usually be there with them.  God's heart of intercession blows me away when I slow down so much that I can feel what He feels, hope what He hopes and declare what He has already done and is yet to do! Allowing myself the time and space to partner with Him in this way is completely refreshing to my soul.

I don't want to leave my everyday life, it's not natural for me to walk away from things I'm invested in. But, I choose to seperate myself for a while slowing down and shifting focus because I know I need the things I gain here so I can be reconnected to His heart for me and for those around me. It reminds me of His character and I continue to follow Him.

I can't do this slowing down thing alone. In Cambodia I have friends who remind me (without even knowing it most of the time) that it's time to slow down and shift the focus to other things so we can continue well tomorrow.  There's a need for us to help each other slow down and shift our focus...


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Apology for Not Writing More Often!

I am writing this post simply to apologize for not writing more during the past year! I know that many of you who read have been receiving my email updates so you're pretty much up to date on all important things.

I do want you to know that I still operate this blog and the Donate link is correct and your gifts will certainly get to me :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thoughts on Heaven

I've been thinking a lot about heaven lately.  With little Sok being so sick in Cambodia I've found my thoughts wandering to my sweet friend, Jenn.  We met in college where she majored in Missions, taught me about kayaking and she'd bake blueberry muffins when she was stressed. Sophomore year she was diagnosed with cancer and 3 years later she died.  Before jenn died she would always talk about heaven and what things would be like in heaven when she got there.  She'd tell us not to be sad because she was going to be so happy-she'd have new mountain bike tails to explore everyday and she'd get to hang out with Jesus! 

In an email abuot Sok (a 6 year old boy in Cambodia who has been very close to dying a few times recently), a friend of mine wrote about how this sweet, precious boy wanted to ride a bicycle.  He's not had ample opportunities to do that as 6 year olds should.  Another friend told me about sitting in Sok's hospital room with him while the two of them shared a white board and some markers to take turns drawing pictures of heaven.  The thought of this scene brings a huge smile to my face every time!



In the middle of what could be seen as and understood to be some of the most sad, hopeless and painful hours of life both Jenn and Sok have shown me that Jesus offers a living hope...even to the dying ones. When we know Him and believe His words that tell us that He has gone to prepare a place for us we are blessed.  Not only are we able to hope  in what He's prepared but we can take it a step further by choosing to dreeam of it now.  

As Jenn told us of all the things she looked forward to about heaven we were able to rejoice with her. We didn't stop asking for her healing, we wanted her here, with us! But, we knew she'd also be just fine there.

As we teach Sok and countless others how to look forward to what awaits us in Eternity we offer freedom for them to have faith in something more than what the doctors and tests can tell them.

More importantly, we offfer freedom for those who are sick -and for those who love them- to let God be sovereign.  His thoughts and ways are higher than ours and we can't begin to understand why He does things He does.  But we can choose to believe that, just as He says, He has the best in mind for each one of us.  I really do trust that.  

The Bible tells us that heaven will be a new earth.  That makes me think that we will enjoy the types of things we enjoy now except they will be untainted.  And, we will be constantly in His presence, uninterrupted companionship with our Maker!

I don't know about you, but personally, I love thinking of Jenn enjoying those new mountain bike trails! And, I can't wait for the grandeour of heavenly sunsets... 



 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Memorizing God's Word With a Grateful Heart

I found this article this morning and it reminded me just how grateful I am for the freedom I have not only in the U.S. but, also in Cambodia, to read and carry around a physical copy of the Bible.  Today, I will indeed find a verse that speaks to me and begin to memorize it :-)

"MEMORIZING GOD'S WORD

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT)

When China’s best-known pastor, Wang Ming-dao, was finally released from prison, he stated, “In these past twenty years, I have not had a copy of the Bible. Happily between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-four, I spent my time at home doing the housework and studying the Scriptures. I memorized many passages. These passages in my heart came out one-by-one and strengthened me. Had it not been for those words of God, then not only I, but many others, would also have been defeated.”

Pastor Lamb in southern China was in prison for many years at that same time. “I understood then why I had memorized so much of God’s Word while in Bible school,” he says. “I kept my sanity only by repeating Bible verses over and over.”

The best way the church can prepare for trials and persecution is by seriously studying and learning the Word of God. Christians need an overview of the whole Bible. Understanding God’s outline for mankind in the Bible aids in memorization as well.

What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? Some read and study the Bible with the intent to get something from it to teach to others. But first, we should approach the Bible with the desire to see the goodness and loving-kindness of God and understand how “wide and long and high and deep” is His love for us (Ephesians3:17-19). Let His love show you His supply for your own need and then you are better able to meet the needs of others.

Second, approach the Bible with humility. Study the Bible to discover what God has said. Bible study is meant not merely to inform - but to transform.

In restricted countries where Bibles are in short supply, pastors are often in a quandary as to which of the many spiritually needy he should share these precious books with. Progress in Bible memorization is one method they can use for determining who will receive the available Bibles. One house church group in Vietnam decided to give them to the believers who were most determined to use them. The criterion used was memory work. So Bibles were shared only with those who recited flawlessly Psalm 119—all 176 verses!

Open Doors is committed to provide God’s Word to those for whom it is not available. “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes....” (Romans 1:16)

RESPONSE
Today I will memorize a new verse from
God’s Word, the Bible.

PRAYER
Pray for the Christians in restricted countries
where there is a shortage of God’s Word.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS) 
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

That Christmas Feeling?

t's almost midnight and I'm in my room here in Cambodia surrounded by suitcases and backpacks as I (attempt) to finish packing so I can get on a plane headed to India10 hours from now! There is SO MUCH to be said about the whole India journey from the very beginning up until right now but it'll just have to wait for another blog because I have something else on my mind tonight....

I live in Cambodia, I've been here for 19 months now and this is my second consecutive Christmas season spent outside the United States.  And, tonight, as I'm sweating, wearing shorts, enjoying ripe mangoes...I've been thinking about what Christmas looks like in America and how very different it is from here.

Don't get me wrong, I've watched Elf, listened to Christmas music and even had a few hot chocolates this month but, that didn't make it 'feel' like Christmas.

Tonight my good friend Sara in Missouri called me so I could see the snow that had fallen overnight, we talked about Christmas gifts she and her roommates had exchanged and she told me about the new "Ninjabread" cookies she'll be making this week. But, still, it didn't "feel" like Christmas...

I keep needing to remind myself that next Tuesday is actually Christmas day. That one of the main reasons this team is going to India now is because it is Christmas and we want to share that with orphans and lepers! And then, I remember.

Christmas is not only about climate, food or traditions.  These are all certainly wonderful parts of the season (whether your food of choice is mangoes or candy canes) but they are not what any of us should be looking to in order for us to know that it is Christmas.

It is Christmas because Jesus came to the earth to show us His Father's great love for us!

It is Christmas because God is still alive and active today!

It is Christmas because His life has transformed mine!

It is Christmas because God has made a way for all mankind to be reconciled with Him, brought back into good relationship with Him!

It is Christmas because His presence will never leave us!

It is Christmas because of Him..... And that is more than enough for me to "feel" like it is Christmas.

I'm so grateful that He has led me to a place where I can so clearly why we celebrate, a place where all the noise and clutter of what we so often confuse to be Christmas is gone and I simply be with Him and know it is time to celebrate who He is.

2010-I celebrated Him with the Bailey family in Kansas City, we watched the Polar Express, ate Christmas cookies, drank hot chocolate, feasted on yummy food and exchanged gifts.... It was one of the sweetest days I've ever spent and I know Jesus loved it!

2011-I celebrated Him with two amazing families who had left the comforts of their homes in America and Singapore to come love on some Khmer kiddos! We watched Elf, ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, went on a boat ride with 25 orphans and ended up at giant church service (which we were all very under-dressed for after our boat ride!).  One of the most fun and spontaneous days I've ever spent and I know Jesus was laughing with us!

2012-I will be in India! A country I've never been to with a few people I know and many others I'll meet so soon! We will worship with some orphans, share a meal of chicken biriyani and spend many hours traveling to and from the orphanage in a van.  Jesus will be celebrated.

Whatever your Christmas looks or feels like this year be sure to take some time to celebrate Jesus, who he is and what He's done.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

America--->Cambodia--->India!


I am SO EXCITED about what I have to share with you in this post!!!

I would like to tell you about a very unique experience I will be part of this coming December.  You may know that I have been living in Cambodia for over a year and a half and have been working with the Hard Places Community here since May 2010.  During my time here I have met and been able to work with some amazing people who are bringing the Kingdom of God to their nation in very tangible ways.

The church in Cambodia is in the process of being resurrected as many people are coming to know the freedom, healing and redemption offered through the cross.  And, I am convinced, I work with some of the most passionate Khmer people who long to see transformation in their people.  Not only that, but they long to see transformation and the name of Jesus glorified throughout the world. 

This is where you and I come in: we can help a few of them bring His love and truth not only to other Khmer people but to people in India.

The H.P.C. western staff who have been living in Cambodia are planning to take five of our Khmer friends on their very first mission trip with us to India.  We will be there for 10 days and we will do two main things.  First, we will put on a Christmas program for 25 children who live in an orphanage that the H.P.C. started in 2007.  We will also spend some time in a leper colony encouraging and praying with the people there. 

The total cost for each person’s trip is $1,500-this includes air travel, transportation in India, ministry expenses, meals and lodging.  If you would like to contribute financially towards this trip you may do so through the "DONATE" button located on the right side of this blog page, be sure to include a note that says who it is for or leave a comment on the blog! We are so grateful for your prayers for each of us as well! 

This is the really fun part-I get to introduce you to my very dear friends who will be joining us on this adventure....

Veasna is 20 years old and has  been working with the H.P.C. for almost 4 years. He is one of our lead counselors who works one on one with abused and traumatized children in our programs.  Veasna is excited to be the hands and feet of Jesus as he shows orphans that they have a True Father who cares for them and will never abandon them.  Veasna has a desire to see those who have been rejected by so many in this world know that Jesus welcomes them and has good plans for their lives.  He has faith that runs very deep and probably could move mountains if need be, I can’t wait to tell you stories of his prayers bringing freedom and transformation! 


Panha is 19 years old and has been working with the H.P.C. for almost 4 years.  He is our lead social worker and helps many families who live in extreme poverty.  He is looking forward to being able to show the orphans in India that they have a God who loves them so much that He sends people all the way from Cambodia to tell them!  He knows that although he does not come from a financially wealthy country he has much to offer the people he’ll encounter in India because he knows God’s love for them.  Panha speaks truth in a very powerful way and it will be fun to watch the Lord speak through him into the lives of people in another country!

Borey has worked with H.P.C. for the past year and a half and we are so glad to have him as part of our team! He is brilliant with people of all ages, he leads one of our Kids Club programs, heads up an outreach team, teaches Khmer to foreigners and is very active in a small group on the weekends.  He has been given a spirit that makes all around him feel welcomed and valued and I’m excited to watch the Lord use this to draw others closer to Him.





Sineath has been working with us for 3 years now.  She is also a counselor working with children one on one.  She brings the compassion of the Holy Spirit in a very powerful and tangible way to the children she works with.  I can't wait to watch as the Spirit leads her to love on the orphaned and hurting in India, I believe He is going to do some pretty amazing things through her....

Who am I kidding? I believe He is going to do some pretty amazing, even miraculous, things through each of them!!!

Thank you in advance for the ways in which you’ll join us on this journey.  Please let me know if you’d like to receive updates as we prepare and when we return!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Participate in Punlok Thmey!

One of our tuktuks
This is a very practical post to update you about what we have going on at Punlok Thmey Boys Center here in Cambodia.  Many people have asked for some specific information and I'm glad to provide it for you, the better you are informed, the more able you are to spread the word about how others can get involved too!

Showing off his
soccer uniform!
Each week we have about 65 boys from the ages of 3 to 18 come to any of the activities that we offer.  In the mornings the boys can be in English classes, a computer class or a play therapy type of room called the playroom.  In the afternoons there is a Kids Club program every day where kids play games, sing songs, eat a snack, do a craft and learn about Jesus.  There is also a weekly soccer program as well as guitar classes.

It is such a privilege to be able to give these boys a positive alternative to spending their days on the streets trying to avoid trouble.  We do not force boys to come to our center yet, every day you can find them here! To me this speaks volumes about how our Khmer staff build relationships and care for each of them.  In our center, there is an environment of love, compassion, mercy, respect and honesty that is difficult for a young boy to find in many other places in this city.  And, it takes quite a bit to be able to provide this.....


Here are some of the numbers behind the needs:
Guitar Lessons
  • $60-In one month we use 180 gallons of purified water to supply the boys and our staff with safe, healthy drinking water.
  • $90-One month of water and electricity for our four story building.
  • $50-one month of first aid supplies.
  • $90-One month for our 24/7 hotline to be operational and answered by a Khmer staff member.
  • $45-One month of cleaning supplies-toilet paper, trash bags, dish soap, floor cleaner, etc.
  • $75-One month of office and craft supplies.
  • $80-One month of snack for our Kids Club program
  • $30-One month of small prizes to give out as students progress in English classes.
  • $150-one month of gas for our tuktuk driver who takes boys to the doctor, pays our utility bills, picks up and drops off a boy who cannot walk and runs many other errands on any given day!
  • $1,700-One month of rent for our building.
  • $3,150-one month to pay fair, honest salaries to our 16 amazing Khmer staff members who make this whole thing possible!

Each month there are also miscellaneous expenses related to social work, staff medical insurance and staff training and care.

For example, just in the past 3 weeks we have taken one nine-year old boy to a specialist for a brain MRI which confirmed for us that he does not have rabies from the dog that bit him! This cost $180.  Another boy, this one is two-years old, had to have a surgery to drain fluid and it cost $150 for the surgery as well as hospital stay and food while in the hospital. And, we spent $65 for our staff to receive training from a partner NGO about drugs in Cambodia, how to recognize if a person is using them and how to help them.

Phew! All this can seem overwhelming at times, especially when looking at the big picture, but as I break it down it becomes much more manageable.  It has been such a rewarding journey of faith as we continue to trust God with every need and every penny that comes our way.
If you would like to be part of all the excitement that goes on at Punlok Thmey on any given day we gladly welcome your financial partnership as well as your prayers! You may give to any of these specific needs through the “DONATE” button on this page or you can go to our website, learn more and donate there! When you donate, please leave me a comment (so we can say thank you!) and include in your donation a note about where the funds should go.  If you are unable to donate financially right now PLEASE continue to pray for us in specific ways so that our needs will continue to be met!

My next blog is going to be about a missions project that we are doing with some of our staff and I CAN'T WAIT to tell you all about it!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joel 2:25

About once a month I just need to take an entire day to myself to do things that fill me up, leave me feeling at peace and satisfied, today was one of those days.  Life just has a tendency to get busy (as if you didn't already know that) and at times mine is so busy that I miss Jesus.  Not like I miss Him as in we just keep passing by each other but, I miss Him, in my heart I long to be with Him, to talk to Him, to hear His voice.....

Right, so today I spent the whole day with Him.

Throughout the day I consumed a french press full of coffee, made some salad to eat for lunch during the week, answered some long overdue emails, prayed for many things, did some of a Beth Moore study on James that I haven't touched in weeks (months?), wrote in my journal, listened to Rita Springer almost nonstop (a bit old skewl, I know) and listened to two sermons. Now, I'm writing this as I make macaroni and cheese and get ready to go watch the Muppet Movie with a friend.  Such a GOOD, FULL day!!

One of the sermons I listened to was preached by my dear friend Amy, it was from a while ago as most of the sermons I have are on my iPod and have been downloaded, I don't usually delete them.  In this particular sermon she spoke about Joel 2:25, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...".  This is exactly what I needed to hear today.

I love the promise of redemption.  I've experienced quite a bit of "locusts" eating things.  My first eight years of life were the most "normal" and I have some good memories from them.  I was an only child until I was almost 9.  I had my own room and almost every toy I ever wanted, had extravagant birthday parties, at holidays everyone always came over to our place and my mom was the "cool mom" on school field trips.  When I turned 9 however is when the locusts began eating things that didn't belong to them.  We'll just suffice it to say that the next decade or so of my life was much less than ideal.

As a result I LOVE the promise of redemption and I've been able to see it being fulfilled in my life as an adult.  Not only do I love it about my own life but as I've begun to think about the boys at our center and how much redemption is in store for them....oh my gosh, I get so EXCITED!!!

So, tonight I'm speaking out dreams of life, joy, abundance, victory, peace and SO MUCH MORE for little ones who have had horrendous things happen to them in their very short lives.  I feel so privileged to be part of their stories of redemption.

Who do you get to come alongside and claim the promise of redemption over their life?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Injustice is Injustice But We Can Help

For the past few weeks Wednesdays have been a day for me to catch up on life outside of Cambodia, to send emails to friends, to see photos of new babies, to dream about and plan for a trip to China.... It's been a much needed break from the "normal" things of my life here.  I'm very aware, on a daily basis, of the insane amount of injustice that takes place here in Phnom Penh.  And, most of the time it's injustice that hits on a personal note of some form; a 5-year old who is sold for sex so his family can eat for the next few days, a 13-year old who has been abused and now rapes his 10 year old friends stealing their virginity, a young woman who chooses not to go to school because she has been offered a job making $1/.hour, a 12-year old who has been told to stop going to school so he can stay at home and take care of his mentally unstable mother.....

But wait, it's Wednesday morning here in Cambodia-taking a break, right? Yes.  I've just skyped with some friends who are moving here in about 4 months.  Then I read and replied to a few emails and commented on a Facebook photo of a beautiful new babl boy... And, I was just getting ready to write an update of my own to send out to many of you...

However, I came across a video that caught my attention.  It was entitled "KONY 2012".  I clicked play and waited a while as it downloaded.  When I started watching I wasn't aware how long it was but I watched the entire 30 minutes.  This video reminded me of something I became very passionate about back in 2006.  Do you remember the "Invisible Children" campaign? It was a venue to bring awareness about the atrocities happening to children in Uganda.  They were (still are) being abducted by a man named Joseph Kony and forced to kill. This man steals from children their families, their safety, their consciences and ultimately their freedom.  This has been going on for 26 years now. It is injustice.

So, this morning I thought I was going to take a mini break from the injustice happening right outside my apartment.  And, in a way, I did.

But I was reminded that injustice is injustice.  It is not a respecter of...anything.  By its nature injustice attempts to destroy respect, dignity, freedom, hope, joy....it is the ultimate ploy of our enemy.

Yes, I live in Cambodia and I personally know some people who are suffering horrific injustice, even today as I type.  And, there are people in Africa who are also victims of injustice. And in India.  And in Mexico. And in America.  And....all over the world.

I know that it's not my job to fix any of these things.  It's not your job either.  It is our privileged responsibility to ask Him, the One who gave His life to bring justice into our lives, what He wants us to do along side Him.  I'm very passionate about seeing freedom and justice brought to the ones I love here in Cambodia. I am also passionate about seeing justice brought in the way of capture to Joseph Kony.  I am passionate about justice.

So, I will post videos on behalf of Ugandan children.
I will send finances to missionaries in Nepal.
I will sign petitions on behalf of the oppressed in Guatemala.
 I will live in Cambodia with Khmer people.  
I will visit Ukrainian orphans.  
 I will always do whatever Jesus asks of me when He stirs my heart to move towards justice.  
Cambodia is not my "cause", ending human trafficking is not my "goal" but bringing justice- be it to the individual standing in front of me or to the masses on the other side of the world-
in whatever way He asks of me is what I will do.

What is He asking of you today? Watch a video and become more informed? Write a check? Spend some time praying? Call a senator? Perform a random act of kindness? Befriend a foreigner? Speak His words of truth and life to someone who is hurting? Ask Him and He'll tell you how you can help.....

"But let justice roll on like a river, 
   righteousness like a never-failing stream!"-Amos 5:24

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 
   And what does the LORD require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy 
   and to walk humbly[a] with your God." -Micah 6:8


Monday, January 16, 2012

Choosing Gratefulness

For the past few days I've found myself in a bit of a less than great attitude. And, while there are plenty of excuses for this (a headache that lingered way too long, saying goodbye to friends who visited for five weeks, the grocery store all of a sudden not carrying some the things I've become used to buying each week....on and on, blah, blah, blah...) I finally realized that I could choose to see things differently.
After a chat with a friend last night I've decided to intentionally choose gratefulness this morning in hopes of pushing away the unpleasant-ness that's building up.

So, here we go.  I'm blessed and am grateful for:

  • The Internet that allows me to communicate with so many friends around the world
  • My God who hears my prayers and the prayers of my friends 
  • The fact that I can speak enough Khmer to have conversations with the boys at the center without needing a translator
  • Knowing two of the best tuktuk drivers in all of Phnom Penh
  • The blessing of working with a staff who really enjoy their jobs and want to His Kingdom come in powerful ways to Cambodia
  • A water cooler when it is still 93 in my bedroom at 2a.m.
  • The tile walls in our kitchen that are an ever changing art gallery of work done by friends with dry erase markers
  • The blessing of living in a country where I can freely talk about and worship Jesus
  • My iPod
  • A cell phone system that allows the transfer of money from one SIM card to another
  • This season of God's providing in abundance
  • Airplanes so my friends can come to and from Cambodia for visits
  • The Boys Center where younger brothers come and know they are safe, known and cared for by Jesus and a staff of older brothers and sisters
  • Games of Jenga with Panha
  • Tuktuk rides to work with my sweet friend Somphoas that double as great Khmer practice times
Right, tuktuk rides to work, I need to get ready to meet my friend for our ride.  This has been a very helpful activity as I have a smile on my face that I'm sure will stick around as I've opened my heart to be looking for blessings.

Today will be a good day :-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Being Taught by the Kids


Today was such a good day!

This morning I decided that I was not going to do ANY admin work at the center.  That meant I got to spend our three hour long morning being with the kids and our staff, WOOHOO!!!

On any Monday-Thursday morning from 8:30-11:30 there are various English, computer and playroom classes going on in the building.  Playroom is a unique setting where the boys come in for one hour at a time and sit in small groups of about 3-5 with one or two Khmer staff members.  During this hour the kids play with various legos, erector sets, playdough, race cars, do puzzles, read books....all while building relationships with our staff who are being trained in play therapy techniques.

Once a week we get a special treat when our friend Kim comes to visit! She and her family (husband and two sons) live in Cambodia and when she comes to the center she usually brings a fun science lesson to share with us! Once it was making volcanoes, another time we talked about the bones in our bodies and another we made kazoos out of straws! She also brings her sons with her-a 5 year old and a 3 year old.

Kim and her family have only been here for a few months so they are just beginning to learn the language.  This does not inhibit her boys from jumping right in and playing with "our" boys though! Today I was filled with gratitude, joy and....well, awe, really...as I watched her 5 year old son P. and one of our 9 year old boys, D., play together....

As soon as they saw each other this morning P. and D. began speaking with each other in the fragments of English D. has learned and Khmer P. has picked up.  They sat together in the "quiet room" and completed two puzzles.  It was so fun to watch because they were not just sitting next to each other working independently on different sections of the puzzles but they were truly cooperating to put together the entire picture.  These boys have only known each other for about 6 weeks and only interact once a week for an hour!  I LOVE the honesty of being a child and I especially love that these boys show each other kindness, acceptance and generosity.  This is what the Kingdom of God will be like....and even better :-)

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 that unless we become like children we will not enter heaven.  I am so grateful for the opportunity He gave me to learn from these two today!  They do not even give any attention to their very obvious differences instead they saw their common goal and seized the opportunity to help one another, learn some new words from one another and have lots of fun together while doing these things!

Lord, would You help me to step out in courage in spite of the obvious differences....I long to enjoy simply living life alongside my brothers and sisters here without fear of mispronouncing a word, without hesitation at doing something differently than I've done in the past and without pride in ideas and theories that I think are THE right ones....I long to stand next to staff members and see these boys through YOUR eyes so we will see the same things in them, I want to stand with these boys You've put in front of me and hear YOUR words of Truth, Freedom and Promise for their lives so that I can join You in speaking them out in English and Khmer!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Verbally Processing the Past 48 Hours


I've said before that writing helps me to make sense of things. I'm a verbal processor and well, there are just a few less people for me to process with here so not only has the Lord been showing me in such wonderful ways that He always wants to hear my thoughts but He has also been reminding me of the outlet that writing can be.

The past 2 days have been filled with some pretty crazy things happening.....I'm warning you now that some of the things written below are not lighthearted and maybe you don't want to know, it's okay with me if you don't read this blog.  I just needed a place to make sense of the things that have going around in my mind.

Here is my attempt to begin to figure out all that happened during the past 48 hours....


  • My Khmer sister prayed for my ear that had been stopped up with water, she also prayed for my eyes and thanked God for the leader that I am and for my heart for Cambodia....best part-she prayed in Khmer and I understood about 85% of it!
  • Upon returning to work on Monday morning after a week off I was greeted by 5 of my favorite boys with hugs, high fives and "sok sabai, kinyom nuk Yvonne"'s (How are you? I missed you!)
  • The Khmer fire marshal showed up unannounced (as many things are here) and proceeded to charge us money to purchase 2 additional fire extinguishers and stickers to put on all of our fire extinguishers which they will come back and reinspect in six months....
  • I celebrated a dear friends 65th birthday at a new restaurant.  This lady amazes me....she grew up in Phnom Penh as part of a missionary family. She lived in N.Y.C. for 30 years. She lost her husband a few years ago and is now living in Phnom Penh again and working with us! Our Khmer staff call her "yay" which is a very endearing term for grandma :-)
  • I found out that one of little girls at Wat Phnom has a broken leg from a moto accident!
  • I ate cold chicken and rice for breakfast :-)
  • I thought about studying Khmer
  • I listened as Panha told me that one of the boys who had been sold for sex last march came to him this morning and told him that he is still being sexually abused at home. My heart broke and I had no clue as to what to do next. (Now though, twelve hours later, he will have a meeting with a trauma counselor tomorrow afternoon....positive steps in a positive direction....remembering that one day ALL THINGS will be made right...)
  • During playroom I was served the BEST imaginary coffee, fried rice and duck egg by my favorite seller, K., and he didn't even charge me any money for my meal :-)
  • The staff had a great "meeting" where we played a game much the opposite of Jenga-each person picked one block and had to stack on top of the person before them. We then used this game to teach about the Tower of Babel....so fun to watch 20 something year old Khmer guys laugh and get all nervous about the next block!
  • I thought about studying Khmer (yep, I thought about it more than once...)
  • I spent hours putting financial info into a spreadsheet....ugh!
  • I clarified the words "cooperation" and "corporation" 
  • I shared Oreos with Ruthie
  • I ate an ice pop made of peach juice while listening to worship music....best 20 minutes ever....
  • I watched as 15 boys eagerly crowded around a world map as we pointed out different countries.
  • I prayed for wisdom, courage and eyes to see things as He sees them for myself and the staff as we deal with kids who are being sold, kids who steal, kids who don't respect things that belong to other people....kids who are creative, kids who are persistent, kids who WILL grow up to men of integrity...
  • My 4 year old friend, P., and I had pork and rice for lunch.
  • I watched the sunset out my kitchen window....sweet
  • Was gonna study Khmer ten minutes before my lesson....then my "loke crew" (teacher) came 15 minutes early.....Hey, I thought about it
  • I did the dishes and hung my clothes up to dry while Jesus and I talked about the awful things happening to that one family...and that other family....and this kid and that one....He reminded me that He is sovereign and that He cares for them and loves them even more than I could ever want to....


I'm glad He's in charge.  It means I can breathe. It means that at the end of the day things won't come crumbling to pieces around me....and, if it seems like they have....He'll show me what my part is in the repairing process as long as I'm listening.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sea Cow

I have Khmer lessons twice a week and during the past two weeks when I have a lesson I've been speaking about 90% of the time in Khmer (dramatic increase in the amount of Khmer spoken!).

Tonight my "loke crew" (teacher) and I were talking about our day at work and he relayed a story that I was very proud of myself for understanding completely in Khmer (which was demonstrated when I laughed at the appropriate moment) and I think you'll enjoy this story as well.

No, I can't write a single Khmer symbol so my retelling will be done in English :-)

Today during an English lesson the teacher was using a children's book about manatees.  The book was being read entirely in English. The students, a group ranging in age from five to twelve, were really enjoying the book. They liked the pictures and were learning lots of new English vocabulary.

One page told about the fact that a manatee is also sometimes called a "sea cow" (I did not know that until today, did you??).  A five year old boy burst into hysterical laughter as this page was read.

Here's the thing, in Khmer when you speak the words "sea" and "cow" they have very different meanings than in English.

If you say the word "sea", in English phonetics just as it is written, you are saying "eat" in reference to an animal. Example, "the dog eats bones" would be "the dog sea bones" (well, okay, "the", "dog" and "bones" are not pronounced the same in Khmer...don't misunderstand and think Khmer is simple).

And, the word "cow", pronounced just as it is written, means.....pants.

Ahem....so...."the manatee is also called a sea cow".....and cue adorable five year old laughter as he pictures a manatee eating pants :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Different Lives, Same God

Today a very sobering thought came to my mind.

I spent an hour this evening with one of my Khmer friends. The original intention was for me to be learning the language during this hour. But, my friend certainly had a lot on his mind.  Thoughts of a sibling who recently had dengue fever and spent a few days in the hospital setting the family back a bit financially, thoughts about a test tomorrow, thoughts of decisions that will effect the future, thoughts about responsibilities at work, thoughts of clients we both work with who are having a rough time right now....By no means an easy load to be carrying.

And, when my lesson (which, today, was more of a good conversation with my younger brother about life) was over he left to go home. It was pouring rain and he drove his moto about 20 minutes to get there.

So, he left and I walked into my bedroom.....and that's when I was hit with reality.

You see, I so desperately wanted to tell my friend to go home and get some rest, some time alone, some down time.  I wanted him to get to a physical place where he could truly rest. But, I didn't say that because even as I thought it I knew it wasn't possible for him.

And yet, there I stood in my LARGE bedroom, so large it's almost the size of where he, his 3 brothers and parents all live together.  It was quiet in my room. I had a fan on and could've even turned on the air con if I'd wanted to. I could set my iPod to a worship playlist and drown out the rest of Cambodia. I could peacefully sit on my balcony and enjoy the rain not having to worry about my apartment flooding.

And, 20 minutes away people I know and love live such a different life....in fact, I'm sure that quite less than 20 minutes away people God loves live quite a different life than I do.

I grew up in inner city America.  Until I was in my 20's I thought living life was about surviving, at best!  Each day was a new challenge to "make do with what ya got". Don't even bother having wants, dreams, needs that are beyond what's right in front of you because nobody will listen and there's no way to make things any better.

During college I began to understand His love for me, during the past year I've grown to know how my Father longs to care for His daughter. And IT IS GOOD.  During the past few years the Holy Spirit has been recreating the way I think and perceive things.  I believe that I am worth being loved. I believe that His desire is for the best for my life. I look at each and every way He has redeemed, provided for and guided me and I'm enormously grateful.

So, I sit here on my bed typing on my laptop. And I'm grateful. Not simply for the material things for I've learned not to cling tightly-one tuktuk ride and my Kindle is broken, one drop of my camera at Wat Phnom and it won't work anymore, one speck of strawberry lemonade powder gets outside its container and the ants have infiltrated the entire thing :-) No, this gratitude is so much deeper-it runs all the way into my soul, deep, deep down so that I can praise Him for the circumstances of my life because He has brought me through it all to right where I am today.

As for my friend....he belongs to the same loving, providing, sovereign God I do. I know he'll seek the rest and peace He desires to give and because my friend seeks, our God will come through.

It probably will look a bit different from what I call peace and rest....and that makes glad. If God provided in the same way for each of us, I wouldn't be learning nearly as much from my Khmer brothers and sisters.

How about you? Has He shown you how grand His plan is, that He provides for and interacts with each of us so uniquely?

Jesus, I love the way You know each one of us so very well. Thank You for Your promise of providing rest and peace when we seek You. Thank You for the ways You've directed my life to bring to right where I am. Thank You for the ways in which You direct the lives of my friends...those in Cambodia, those who are reading this right now...Thank You that You are so very trustworthy and good.

Monday, July 11, 2011

L-O-N-G Days Filled with Honor and Love

It's 6:15pm as I begin to type this. I'm sitting on my couch, watching an amazingly beautiful sunset out my window and feeling quite grateful that I got home early today.

Days have been l-o-n-g the past two weeks with an amazing, very energetic, Kingdom minded short term team here with us. Each day is jam packed with things to do and I do enjoy having so much to be part of! Last week, there was so much I wanted to come home and write about each day for all of you to read. But....I came home and tiredness and Modern Family won out on the nights when I didn't already have plans :-)

So tonight, I'll just write about today instead of trying to catch up on the past.  Maybe I'll get to some of those great stories, someday.

Today.....
I woke up at 5:15am and for those of you who have ever seen me before 8:30am, you are well aware that I was quite incoherent for a while.  I did, however, have an iced coffee since I cold brewed it last night and I listened to music for about an hour.  These things work miracles for my morning mood!

Rode a half hour to the boys center, arrived at 7:15, the team ate their breakfast of yogurt, fruit and pastries.

I like what's been happening at 7:30!  The team, us Western H.P.C. members and our 9 Khmer staff members (8 guys, 1 girl) all have a devotional time together that usually ends with about 20 minutes of worship (a few of our Khmer brothers are excellent worship leaders!) and prayer.

At 8:15 a small group heads out to Wat Phnom where they lead Kids Club for 2 hours followed by about an hour of family visits with some of our regular kids.

Another small group stays at the boys center and continues the painting, cleaning, organizing that has been going on.

My group was the group that got to go out into the neighborhood
this morning. I was particularly excited about today because we were going to visit a family I've come to love so much. I wrote about their story earlier this year here.

Things have begun to change for this precious family. My friend, Panha, who is also one of our Khmer staff members, led the mother and grandmother to the Lord about a month ago! They have also moved from where they were living on the streets to a room (it has walls, a roof and a bathroom) in one of the slum areas of the city.  Might be the slum but, it's certainly a step up from where they were....

I hadn't seen them yet since I've been back. The family consists of the mom, the grandma, the father (he's an alcoholic and not usually around) and 6 children ranging in age from 17 down to about 9 months. Three of the kids now attend school through another organization here.

We were going with the intention of teaching the women how to pray and bringing them a large plastic barrel for them to collect water in since their water only runs for about 4 hours per day.  They need water for many things during the day such as bathing, cooking, washing clothes....

When we arrived we were greeted by my 4-year old friend who should've been in school. We came to find out that this past weekend he had cut his hand on a nail in the door, this makes perfect sense to me, he's quite the active little guy!

Have no fear though-18-year old Panha to the rescue! I mean seriously, he has loved them persistently for the past year including when we found out some horrific news about them, he's led the adult females of this family to the Lord and he has been a social worker in helping them get their home and the kids into school!

Then today! Today he pulls out the first aid kit, puts on some gloves and cleans and bandages physical wounds! (Have I ever mentioned how very much I learn about Jesus from my Khmer brothers...well, be assured, I learn a ton).

So, we, all 7 of us plus the 5 members of the family who were home sat on the floor as Panha simultaneously told me to practice my Khmer with the family and fixed our young friend up.

And we did give them that barrel for the water too :-)

It was SO GOOD to be back in the same country, to be able to encourage not only Panha but also the rest of our Khmer staff. To not have to wait for Skype delays but to be able to look them in the eye and tell them that they are truly bringing His Kingdom into the darkness of this world....that's my absolute favorite part about being here in person.....

Phew, and that's just what I did before 11:30am!!

I'm honored to be here, honored to see His love for His people regardless of the language we speak, the choices we make and the way others perceive us....He loves us all the same.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

First Month Back in Cambodia!

This first month back in Cambodia seems like it has gone by very quickly all of a sudden! Here are a few highlights from this month that I'd like to share with you:


-My roommate, Steph, and I were so blessed that we were able to come straight from the airport to our very own apartment! This arrangement was set up for us by our good friend, Ruthie with the help of one of my Khmer brothers, Panha. Our apartment is wonderful, we each have our own bedroom and bathroom, we get a beautiful breeze most days which is indeed a luxury and we even have (drumroll please....) a washing machine! Now, I can do my laundry and have it be dry all within 9 hours (as long as it doesn't rain!).
-I have had the opportunity to finally meet face to face with 3 friends who I have only known via the Internet. I'm constantly amazed at the connections the Lord allows me to make with people who He knows will either be blessings to me on this journey or who I will be able to bless in one way or another.
-It felt so good to go back to Kids Club. I was able to reconnect with some of the families I'd worked with last year, some of them have grown in healthy ways and others are still very much struggling.  The best part about returning to Kids Club was watching my Khmer brothers as they have become so much more capable of running the program with very minimal assistance from our foreign staff!
-The Hard Places Community has hired 5 more male Khmer staff members. I have enjoyed getting to know each of them this past month. Every one of them has a desire to see young boys being cared for, looked after, educated and most importantly, surrendered to the Lord.

Some things I'd love for you to join with me in prayer for include:

-Language! Oh goodness, being gone for 7 months has certainly taken its toll on my ability to communicate in Khmer. Please pray that I would not be discouraged by all I've temporarily forgotten and that I would not let fear stop me from speaking the Khmer I do know.
-that we (the H.P.C.) would all be patient with His timing for the renovations being made to the Boys Center building. We're all so excited about what the future holds that some days it's difficult to stand in the present needs of making our center safe and reliable.

I'm so glad that you are part of this adventure with me! Thank you very much for participating by reading these updates, sending encouraging words and praying with me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday Night in a New Place


Right now it is 6:45pm and I am sitting in my living room in Cambodia, watching the Cosby Show.

Bet you didn't expect that....

Well, yep, that's what I'm doing here on a Monday night. Because, it makes life feel normal.

I've been back for about 10 days now.  And, I have truly realized that this season is really not the same as the last one I spent here.
It was very easy to tell myself (as well as others) that truth while I was in America. It's quite another thing to be here and live it.

It's been tough coming back after 7 months of being gone. I was in the States longer than I was in Cambodia last year (I was here for 5 months) and that wasn't my original intent when I left in November.
I've forgotten so much pia-saa Khmer (Khmer language) that I feel like I'm having to start all over again.
I live in a new neighborhood with new streets, new neighbors, new things that will eventually become familiar.
The kids at Kids Club have all grown (which is great!) and there are all these new ones...certainly many changes in that ministry and much of it is wonderful to observe. That's it though, right now, I'm just an observer in many things here until I get fully settled in again.
I'm having to pray about where my niche will be...there are many opportunities since we're in the process of hiring more Khmer staff members and officially cleaning out and opening the Boys Center.  Lots of new and exciting things to be part of!

Yet, this means that lots of things are simply different than they were last year.  I've found some time to spend with Jesus, letting go of the last season here, sitting before Him, trusting Him, knowing that He has the best possible plans for His glory and my life.

So, yes, on a Monday night my roommate, Steph, and I watched the Cosby Show on our little tv in our apartment. And, it made life feel normal for a bit. I could just laugh at a familiar sitcom and forget the circumstances around me.  It was good and I was glad for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How YOU can Partner With Me


If you would like to receive monthly updates please let me know via email orphan2apostle@gmail.com

If at any time you would like to partner financially you may do so through one of the following ways:
  • Contact me via email with your mailing address and I will make sure you get the paperwork you need for funds to be directly withdrawn from your account on a monthly basis. orphan2apostle@gmail.com 
  • Go to my blog and click on the Donate button on the right side bar. This allows you to give via your debit/credit card or PayPal account.  Funds will go directly into my account with International Outreach Ministries (I.O.M.)
  • Send a check including a slip of paper with my name on it made payable to I.O.M. to:
Yvonne Stiles c/o I.O.M.
P.O. Box 2140
McComb, MS 39649

Here is what my monthly budget in Cambodia looks like:
$150-monthly salary for one of our Khmer staff members who is at Kids Club everyday, translates for us, teaches English to adult males who work in massage parlors (questionable places...) and teaches me Khmer.
$300-rent (2 bedroom apartment with real beds, an oven and a tv) and utilities (Internet, cell phone, electricity, water, trash)
$200-food (this includes being able to buy a good iced coffee/smoothie once a week a.k.a.- a bit of sanity!)
$200-transportation-this cost has gone down some as I am more confident to ride around on motos which are much more economical!
$75-ministry expenses-this includes things such as buying snacks for Kids Club, buying art supplies as needed, treating our Khmer staff to a meal every now and then...etc.
$75-Miscellaneous (laundry detergent, toiletries, visa expenses, savings for airfare back to the States...etc.)
Total-$1,000

Monday, May 16, 2011

15 Days and Some Final Needs Before Heading Back to Cambodia!

15 days from now I'll be in the midst of my 29 hour journey to Cambodia....
All of a sudden, that does not seem very far away at all! I'm so excited to begin this new season of life there though, I can't wait to see all that God has planned!

There are 2 specific areas of financial need that I'm hoping to have filled before I leave.  I'd like to give you the opportunity to pray and see if the Lord might ask you to be involved in either of them.

  • I still need $200 in partnership each month.  This can happen through as many as 20 people choosing to partner with $10/month or as little as 2 people at $100/month.  Please remember, no amount is too small (or too large...)-it all adds up together!
  • In order to be able to move into the apartment my roommate and I have been looking at I will need $600 as a security deposit.
If you would like to take part in seeing these needs fulfilled you may do one of the following:
  • Contact me via email with your mailing address and I will make sure you get the paperwork you need for funds to be directly withdrawn from your account on a monthly basis.
  • Go to my blog and click on the Donate button on the right side of the home page. This allows you to give via your debit/credit card or PayPal account.  Funds will go directly into my account with International Outreach Ministries (I.O.M.) www.orphan2apostle.blogspot.com 
  • Send a check including a slip of paper with my name on it made payable to I.O.M. to:
Yvonne Stiles c/o I.O.M.
P.O. Box 2140
McComb, MS 39649

Please continue to pray that I would end this season well and transition into the new one in Cambodia with complete peace and confidence (as I have right now) in what God is up to.

As always, thank you, thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Monday, May 9, 2011

5 Years Later...Still Missing Jenn

Jenn and I just a few weeks before she met Jesus face to face :-) We'd just enjoyed a long day filled with laughter!


Today marks 5 years since my dear friend, Jennifer Leghorn, went home to be with Jesus. She was 21 and celebrated her 22nd birthday, May 10, in Heaven.  I think parties in Heaven are going to 
be the most fun things EVER!


I find myself thinking about Jenn so much lately.  When we were in college she was going to be a missionary and I was going to teach 2nd grade....Now, I'm a missionary....I don't think any of us would've ever seen that one coming :-)  I still miss my friend, a lot.  During the past few months I've re-discovered the adventurous side (a story for a whole other blog!) and gosh I miss her as I do things like ride motos through Cambodian streets, go rock climbing and dream about para-gliding and mountain biking on a tandem bike :-)  Can't wait til eternity when we can do these things together!!


The rest of this blog is 2 posts I've written in previous years to honor who Jenn is....not was but is.  She is very much alive and well at this very moment because of the gift she chose to receive from our wonderful Savior Who gave her eternal life...Thank You Jesus for eternity and for my friend Jenn. 


"Hope and Courage Offered Through friendship-written May 8, 2008


May 9th 2006 was a Tuesday. I remember waking up that morning at Shalom retreat center. I spent the morning sitting with friends as we all participated in our very last session of something we called "The God Story". We had all been on a journey together during the past nine months-a journey of discovering how alive God's word is, a journey of discovering what it means to live in community (and what it doesn't mean as well) and particularly for me a journey of learning to trust God's love in my life.

We all listened intently as images of heaven filled the room, we were going through the book of Revelation paying special attention to the hope presented in the book. We talked about eternity, the joy of being with Jesus always. We talked about victory, the joy of overcoming death and pain. We talked about worship, the joy of praising Jesus without ever ceasing.

As soon as we had finished our last worship song a strange feeling of urgency came over me. I knew I needed to get to my phone. Everyone knew I was on a retreat in the-middle-of-nowhere-Kansas and so I wouldn't be able to get to my phone yet there was a new voicemail. It was my friend simply telling me to call as soon as I could.

I knew immediately what she was going to tell me. Our good friend Jenn had been fighting cancer for the past four years and this was the end. I called her back anyway and she only confirmed what I already knew in my heart. I stood there shakily holding the phone and could do nothing except melt into a puddle of tears. A few of my close friends surrounded me and prayed. The next few days were a blur as I tried to focus on the task at hand-bringing closure to this chapter in my life called Transit. I didn't let the grief come, I swallowed it so that I could be present during our graduation ceremonies and then I left for a month overseas.

I miss Jenn often. Last Sunday a worship song at church brought back memories of her after chemo treatments and I felt the sadness as if it were a punch in the stomach. So sudden and so real. Sometimes when I share ice cream with friends I remember the last time she and I had ice cream-it was the fourth of July and she wasn't well enough to go to a concert at Jones Beach as we'd planned so instead we had ice cream :-) During Transit she would send me "care packages" (her way of making sure that everyone in Kansas City knew that I was loved by people in New York) and I recently found a sticky note she'd attached to a card, it says, "Pray for me, I need it to beat this stupid cancer."

And we did pray. My friends and I prayed hard...in the beginning. Then, it sort of became commonplace that Jenn just had cancer. It didn't stop her from doing the things that she was passionate about-she still volunteered as a youth leader, she still worked at the campus library, she still got A grades in Professor Poston's classes. Although she had cancer it was never what defined her, at least not to those of us who really knew her.

I know that this has gotten rather lengthly and I really could just keep writing about all that Jenn was. I am just so very grateful that the Lord blessed me with the privilege of calling her friend and even sister. Last November I was on a retreat and Jesus prompted me to write her a letter, this is part of what it said,
"I think about how well I was loved by you even though we never talked about 'that stuff'. I think about your will to live life to the fullest. Jenn, you knew that life was rough and unfair but still you enjoyed it. You chose to trust Jesus despite so many things. You have given me so much hope and so much courage. Thank you for your example in choosing to follow and trust Him."

If you knew Jenn may you be reminded of her courage and hope, celebrate her this week-that is what she would want. If you did not know Jenn please think of those whose lives show you hope and give you courage-thank them and thank God for His blessings in your life."



"Loss=written May 12, 2006


I lost a part of my life last Tuesday. For the past five years I knew someone who was an amazing woman. Her name was Jennifer, but everyone called her Jenn. She was one of a kind. She had the most beautiful eyes. They were always filled with joy and hope because more than anything she knew that her Jesus was real and everpresent.
She had a zeal for life that was unmatched. She loved to camp, mountain-bike, kayak...anything that had a hint of adventure to it was meant for her!
She possessed such real tenacity and dilligence. I could always count on her courseload consisting of the maximum number of credits allowable each taught by the most challenging professors. She never earned less than a B in any class.
Jenn was a fighter. She battled abandonment from a young age and came out of it with a desire for all to belong. She battled parents who never really knew her and her last words to them were that she loved them and wanted them to know that she is alive and well with Jesus.
Her greatest battle was a three and half year all out war against a cancer that she so unaffectionately named Jezebel. She endured three rounds of Chemo, each one sending her into a short lived remission.
Jenn was one of my best friends. During the past five years we have laughed together countless times! We cried together, fought with God together, shared sarcasm....sometimes a bit too much :) Two weeks ago, I had the honor of being in her company one last time.
Last Tuesday, May 9th, Jenn went to be with Jesus. She told me not to be sad, she will be in heaven and it will be truly amazing. She will have new mountains and streams to explore everyday...and for that I am grateful, I am so glad to think about her spending her 23rd birthday on May 10 with Jesus....alive and well......But, I am so sad for the loss of my friend. My heart hurts more than I thought possible. We will never have another moment together in this life, the ones we've had will have to suffice until we meet again. The tears are coming now.......again........I feel the ache of a friend lost."