Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the recipe for productivity

You know those times when you read something and you feel like, "That's exactly it! AHA! I needed to read that today.

Well, that happened this morning in devotions. 

I read the prescription for being an effective Christian, penned by Peter:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
 2 Peter 1:5-10

Unproductive-ity is something I fear. I like to have something to show for my work. I want to make an impact and difference, but sometimes I feel that I don't even know how to go about it.

Peter's prescription is simple. Here is the recipe of things that need to be added to (don't you think this verse reads like a recipe?):
first, have faith.
  • Add goodness. 
  • Add knowledge. 
  • Add self-control. 
  • Add perseverance. 
  • Add godliness 
  • then comes mutual affection
  • finally, love!
 I find it interesting that the man who wrote this was the same guy to whom Christ said, "Get behind me Satan! You have not the things of God in mind, but of man."

What a 180 turn-around Peter had!

It gives hope to see such an example.

"I can do no great things, but small things with great love"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fretting=evil??

I love Psalm 37. As I read it yesterday, I was struck by the beauty of God's promises.

 Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  
 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this: 
 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
  Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes. 

Then, a phrase hit me hard: 
 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret —it leads only to evil. 
 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. 


I have this bad habit of finding things to worry about and allowing molehills to become mountains. I like to have a plan, be "put together", etc, etc. 

I mean, there's no harm in fretting a little bit, right? 

I don't think of it as something leading to evil of all things. 

When I fret, I'm just taking precautions, considering all of the angles, right? 

...WRONG. 

God is working on my fretfulness.  

According to the dictionary: 
To fret: to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious 

Maybe I am not always visibly worried, and maybe not always constantly, but there are usually a zillion little problems that I allow to become issues on my mind. 

Psalm 37 does much to quell worries. 

The writer goes on to say: 

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him; 
 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread. 
 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.

What an amazing promise. God does not forsake. He takes care of His own! So really, all of these trivial issues I let build are nothing. When I grasp God's hand and let Him uphold me, the worry melts away. 

It takes courage to release worry, but when you do let go, it brings an incredible feeling of peace and security!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Musings on my future...


Animals!

In case you didn't gather from my last post, I love giraffes. I really really do.

I have always had this deep love of animals -- except for snakes, though that is changing since I now have a pet snake of my own (well, it's a family snake, you know). Okay, and chickens. I don't like those.

I have a story about little me:

when I was young, I was warned about snakes, particularly the poisonous copperhead, which lives in North Carolina. I was about 2 or 3 (I remember this moment very clearly) and my mom told me that she would let me go outside to play (she could see me through the window), but that if I saw a snake, to be sure to let her know by yelling. If I saw a snake, I should stand as still as a statue and not flip out.
I agreed and went out to play.

Well, after I had gone down the slide a few times, I SAW IT.
A snake.
There it was, slithering in the grass in front of me.
I stood stock still.
I screamed. I pointed.
And then, I didn't move.


My mother came rushing out and asked why I was screaming.
I told her I had seen a snake.
She grabbed me and put me on the play structure, high off the ground.
She searched for it.
She looked around, but couldn't find it.
She was close to it. I warned her: "No, no, mommy!! You're almost stepping on it!!"
I was terrified. Then I became even more so because my mom saw it, reached down, and picked it up.
I'm pretty sure I screamed.
She held it out.
It was on her index finger. My mom informed me that the squirming green thing on it would not bite.
It wouldn't even hurt me.

This creature was called an "inchworm"

…oh.

This is proof that I have a flair for the dramatic, a large imagination, and an ingrained fear of snakes. But that fear is changing now. (though I still have a healthy respect for them)

Any other animal though, wow, I love it.

I was absolutely dog-crazy when I was younger.
We had a cat (that I loved), but I desperately wanted a dog. I remember telling my sunday school teacher that I was positive that Heaven was FULL of puppies that all loved me. Heaven didn't need anything else.
I pestered and pestered my parents. I wrote stories about me and dogs. I drew pictures. I even made lists of why I should have a dog.

When my dream of having a pet dog came true, I was SO HAPPY.
But then, sadness, I was very allergic.
When I held my dog, my skin broke out, I would wheeze and cough, my eyes would water and swell, and I couldn't stop sneezing.
My dream was shattered.
I remember crying when I realized that I couldn't cuddle with my dog. We had to give her away to a kind family.

I have a love for animals, and I was reminded of it after I visited the giraffes and the elephants on Thursday.

They are such unique, beautiful creatures, and proof that there is a Creative Maker.

Guess what?
I didn't have an allergic reaction to the giraffe! And it even licked my face!

I think I need a pet giraffe.


I am reconsidering zoology as a major.

I have considered just about every major under the sun, some have been tossed out quickly, others have stuck. If you know me, you know how I've waffled from idea to idea.

The big ones have been Elementary Education, Nutrition, Chemistry, Biology, Nursing, and Pharmacy (Notice a trend?)… and the ones that would be a dream come true might be Acting or Photography, though I don't think those would be worth the $$$$$ of college instruction. If I'm paying for college, I want to gain information that can only be gleaned from higher education…and I've noticed that some of the great actors and photographers are self-taught.

You don't usually find a phenomenal self-taught doctor.

But, happiness, Zoology is a pre-med degree, AND it involves animals (I have had medical school in the back of my mind the past few years) Nutrition is still a strong consideration (and what I'll start to study in the fall), but it's close enough to zoology…

It may sound crazy, but I can sense a connection between me and an animal.
It's like one can communicate in a non-verbal way. I mean, there's body language and I think animals are very good at sensing intent. It sometimes seems that they can read one's mind!

Maybe I watched too many Disney movies with the personification of talking animals, but do remember that they are God's creation and we are called to be caretakers of these creatures.
Hey, Baalam's donkey talked!

Anyways, this was a new breakthrough in figuring out my future.

I spent time yesterday daydreaming about getting to be one of the lucky people to observe, photograph, study, and work with animals, and I was on cloud 9. I seriously could just observe animals and nature all day, boring as that sounds to some.

When I think about Nutrition, I am still excited at some prospects of it. I'd love to help people with food allergies, weight loss/gain, and overall health. I think that many mystery medical problems could be solved if people could become educated in nutrition.

Bodies are delicate machines and food is what fuels us.

Food is important, and it saddens me that people just fill themselves with junk fuel.

 But I have been told by more than one person, "You want to study Nutrition? Oh! Well, that's great. You could work in a nursing home or in a school cafeteria!"
…not exactly my idea of a rocking job.

Is nutrition really just menu-planning?
I pray that it isn't.

 I am interested in the research of foods, studying breakthroughs and benefits of food, and helping people to understand junk food=bad, and adapt menus to their specific food-fuel needs.

…I'm not into figuring out what to pair with the mashed peas for dinner.

Nothing against Nursing Homes or School Cafeterias, of course, since they both play a vital role to society…but it's not quite my cup of tea.

I shall keep praying for my paths to be directed.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

"So, what are you doing?"

"What are you doing in Burundi?"
I have been asked this question many times, especially as I've been here in Africa.
It's an innocent question, but the answer is complex. 

The truth is, I don't have really have a "set agenda".
I have been taking each day as it comes.
Which has been amazing.
I've been able to experience so many wonderful things!
Some days I stay home with the little ones who are sick and need attention (there's some sort of bug going around).
Some days I have helped to organize files.
Some days I have written interviews and snapped photos of the Rainbow Centre babies.
Some days I have worked on designing brochures and websites. 
Some days I have helped at Discovery School.
Some days I teach Sunday School.
Some days I run errands and just assist in the day-to-day life of the Johnson family.

 So, when I am asked what I do, and why I'm here, I know I should have a short, easy answer.
But it has caught me off guard a few times.
I've resorted to just saying, "a bit of everything"

I think the most important thing is to focus on my relationship with God and to realize that no matter what I do, I am called to spread the aroma of Christ:  

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 
2 Corinthians 3:14-16

I know that I am not equal to such a task. 

But because I have His spirit in me, He can use me as a tool to bring others to Him. My goal is to serve and point to God, no matter what task I have been given. I know that He will provide exactly what I need, and He knows what I can handle.

I delight in serving Him!
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