My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Post...just what we all need to hear!

I love following the blog of Katie...the one who wrote "Kisses from Katie".

Here was a beautiful post I just had to share:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Some people get presents under their Christmas tree.

Me? I get a family of 5. 4 children under 8 and their mother sleep on the couches and on mattresses laid out on the living room floor.

It's 5:30 am and I find a place to squeeze in between the pile of children and blankets and attempt to have some "quiet time" by the light of the Christmas tree. I am distracted. Her kids all have a cough and they breathe heavily and toss and turn all around me. Her chest heaves and a small moan escapes her lips. The rain pounds loudly on the tin roof and we need this rain so I try to be thankful for it. I dream for her future. I dream that she'll live. I fleetingly wonder if there are relative who will raise this brood of young ones if she doesn't.

I wonder what their future will hold. I wonder what this day will hold. I watch their chests move up and down and hear my precious ones begin to stir in the other room, and I wonder if I can so it again today, the 17 children and the sick and the broken and those who will come for dinner and just all of these lives with all of their needs. The house is all a-twinkle, and I remind myself of all God's promises fulfilled in a baby and breathe it deep, Grace.

And I am so thankful that Jesus meets us in these squished places. In the stretched places. In-the-squeezed-between-the-tree-and-the-kids moments, in the desperate-for-quiet-on-the-bathroom-floor-because-everywhere-else-is-full moments.

I read Luke. I think of Bethlehem and how it had no room, and I think of how His parents squeezed between the animals to place Him in a feeding trough. The shepherds gazed in wonder but Mary held all this wonder in the silence of her heart. I bet she dreamed of His future. I bet it was muddy and loud in there, but the sky was all a-twinkle with the light of that star, the heavens bursting with joy at God's promises all fulfilled, Grace.

I look around and know: this is what He came for. The King of the universe who created all things, even life itself, clothed in splendor, took off His royal robes, laid aside His crown and squeezed all of the fullness of God into the womb of a woman and then into swaddling clothes in a manger.

He calls my name right here and how I long to recognize Him here, right here.

The squished places and the stretched places, the moments that are loud and messy and uncertain, this is what He came for. The heartaches and the doubt and the wounds that our sin carves deep, that's why He is here. And all this life hanging in the dark of the morning, isn't this why we wait, why we celebrate? Isn't this why we light up the candles and the tree and the house and say with all the longing in our hearts, "Come, Lord Jesus"?

Come, Lord Jesus.

This morning in the dark, in the rain, in whatever mess or squished place or heartache you find yourself in, all God's promises are Yes and Amen, and we can rejoice in thanksgiving! The Savior is here with us, Grace.

His promise is Yes to you, friends. "Yes, I have come, and Yes, I am coming. Yes, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age."

I pray that you'll recognize His handprints all over your day today.

Merry Christmas.
Check out more of her blog at: http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/

Colorado Christmas Miracles

10 days with my family just wasn't enough.  I wasn't ready to leave.  But, these days, I'm never ready to leave the arms of my loved ones.  The opportunities to visit and share and live together...they're just too rare.  So, these moments, these opportunities--they're treasured, and lived in, and pondered.

This time with my family was awesome.  I got to spend some great time with my sisters, Brianna and Andrea.  We played games, watched movies, made trips into town together, had an amazing sister day (with Elisia, my niece), worked out together, attended school with Bri, and just had a great time.  It was a blessing to get that time with Bri.

It's weird to have a sister still at home...growing up without us siblings in the house.  The moments to "get to know each other" are few and far between.  Brianna is 15 years old...full of fire and spunk...smart and quick witted...this girl is amazing.  It was a sweet, sweet blessing to spend time with my beautiful, grown-up (though I keep telling her she isn't allowed to grow up), little sister.

And Andrea is, well, just hard-core.  She is so passionate and I'm so proud of what she has accomplished these past couple of years.  She's really been facing so much trouble, but God has given her a passion for fitness and it was great to see the positive way that she encouraged and inspired the whole family while she was there.  It was fun to get to hang out with her and hear about what has been going on with her, to get that sister time, to just laze with her.  It's a rare occurance, but such a joy.

And getting to know Markhem, my parent's youngest foster child, always busy with a new game idea, a new conversation, a new thing to play.  He was a joy.  Seeing Chris Santisteven, laughing together, seeing how he has grown and matured.  Oscar and Francisco, playing basketball, laughing together over video games.

And, of course, time with my mom and dad.   Conversations.  Pictures.  Laughter.  Music.  Sweet quality time.  I just love that.

This time around, I got to go down and visit my brother, Chris, and his family, Jenn, Kayden, Elisia, and Nick, in Grand Junction.  Their new house is lovely.  They all have space.  A sweet blessing compared to their other house.  Kayden is growing up.  I miss so many moments when little ones grow so fast.  But, he is a character.  Keeping you on your toes with funny comments, hilarious facial expressions, the essence of childlike joy.  It was so fun getting to spend time with him...a little mini-me of my brother Chris.

And perhaps one of the greatest memories from my time in Colorado would be the Sunday that we all attended my mom's church in Delta.  Chris' family came too.  Our whole family together.  It was, perhaps, the first time that the whole family has been together since my college years.  Hard to imagine.  After dinner, we took up a whole table of 14 at a little Mexican restaurant in downtown Delta.  Laughter and good food and great company.  It was a "quality time" girl's dream.  And to hear later that afternoon, that God spoke to my brother in a powerful way during the church service, well, it was a Christmas miracle.  One that came after years of prayers.  God is so faithful!  And there was such a celebration in our living room when we heard the news.  Answered prayers.  Years and years of answered prayers.

Christmas was a beautiful holiday.  Simple.  Easy.  Almost quiet.  I say almost.  I mean, how quiet can it be when an eight year old gets noise-maker toys?  But it was beautiful.  Opening gifts.  Spending time with family.  Enjoying a multi-cultural meal.  Overeating (isn't that always part of the holidays here?).  Laughing and hugging and ending the day together with peppermint cheesecake (my only dessert for the week) and Despicable Me.

And then there were the days of rest.  Where I didn't ever change out of my pajamas.  Where I read and journaled and watched movies all day.  I never get days like that. 

Bri learned to say my name before starting a conversation.  I'm so used to the noise around me that I wouldn't respond to any conversation unless she got my attention first.

And honestly, the quiet, those still days, they felt so good.

I did a little work, but had a lot more downtime than worktime.

This Christmas time with my family was filled with miracles.  Little moments and big moments where God showed up. 

I'm certainly blessed.

And I don't want to leave.  I want to stay.  I want to dwell in this space.  I want to live and breathe this rest and this sweet family air for longer.  But, I can't.  Time marches on, as it always does.

And so, I look forward to what is next.  Time in Tennessee and North Carolina with loved ones.  A friends from the Feeding the Orphans family and my Whelpleys.  Oh, I have missed my Whelpleys.

This trip, I am afraid, will always be a little bit of bitter and sweet.  Always saying goodbye, and moving into the next hello. 

So, for now, goodbye to my family, the cold, cold snow of Colorado, and hello to Kat and Isaiah and the warmth of their home and hearts.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Made to Crave, Post #8

Usually, I like to take this book one chapter at a time.  It works me.  I process it.  I chew on it.  I cry over it. 

But, travel makes you take a look at things a bit faster.  After all, it was the only book that I brought with me on my trip back, so chapters were read with relatively little emotional connection.  I mean, you can't sob about overeating while in an airport surrounded by strangers.  That would just be...weird. 

So, I read about five chapters on my trip home and have been processing them.  Digesting them.  Dwelling in the truths these past couple of days.

Here are a few thoughts that have hit home for me.

Lysa said, "If we are really going to stop circling the mountain and head north toward lasting changes, we have to empty ourselves of the lie that other people or things can ever fill our hearts to the full.  Then we have to deliberately and intentionally fill up on God's truths and stand secure in His love."

Easier said than done.

She went on to talk about identifying lies, replacing them with truth, and using scripture to back it all up.

This whole process...well, it brought me back to a time in my life where I believed so many lies about myself.

And there came a day when I had to choose to believe the truth or continue to live in the darkness of the lies.

When I finally chose the truth, God freed me.

He freed me of the lies.

He freed me of the sin that hid the lies.

He freed me of the darkness.

And I praise God for that.

But, I have to remember that this is a never-ending cycle.

Where Satan deceived before, he can deceive again.  And sometimes he deceives in completely new ways.

And I forget to guard myself against that.

And before I know it, the thought patterns in my brain that were healed, suddenly re-route and I'm stuck again.

Believing that my weight determines my value.

That my worth is given because of what I do, not who God created me to be.

Lysa's reminder was so good.  It reminded me of that place of freedom, instead of the chain of lies.

She went on to say, "My body size is not tied to my happy.  If my happy was missing when I was larger, it will still be missing when I get smaller."

And that one is a constant battle in my mind.

Particularly when I begin to think about marraige and a family of my own.  My heart longs for those things.  And yet, so often, I believe that if I looked different, I would be married.  If I looked different, I would be more content.

It's such a trap.

The lie that the way I look will determine how I feel....

The lie that marraige will solve all my issues of loneliness...

The lie that a family of my own would make me content...

"I have to learn to attach my happy to the only eternal stability there is and remain there."

The remaining is the hard part.  The remaining means that I have to surrender, yet again, these dreams and KNOW that God has a perfect plan.  HE will make me content.  After all, He is the one who created me and who could love you more than your own creator?

"We are taught to remain in Go's love so that we won't tie our happy to anything but God.  So that our joy will be complete. 
Complete.  as in not lacking anything.  Complete.  As in filled up to the brink with joy no matter if we are wearing our skinny jeans or not.  Complete.  As in satisfied with a fullness we can't get any other way.  Can you imagine how beautiful it would be to live as a complete person?"

Oh, I need that!  So often, I find my joy in other things.  I know that I need to live as a complete person, with God alone.

Lysa quotes Lamentations 3:24, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him....
Grasping the truth that God is our portion has the potential to transform more than just our eating habits; it can transform our responses to every aspect of our lives."

The Lord is MORE THAN ENOUGH for me.  And I was created for victory.  So, daily, I need to be digesting the truth that the Lord is my portion, and dwell in that. 

The last chapter that I read, talked about the desire to eat in secret, a common train for anyone who overindulges.  And I'm not just talking about food.  Things done in secret have a way of holding us in chains.  They are done in the dark and that darkness affects the way we can shine our light.

She says, "Sometimes our brokenness cannot support that kind of freedom with food outside the boundaries of a food plan."

Sometimes the way that I respond to food, well, I have to place guards for myself otherwise choosing to overeat is imminent. 

She provides some ways to set boundaries:

1) God has given me power over my food choices.

2) I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat.

3) When I'm struggling, ask the question, "How will I feel about this tomorrow?"

4) Remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation.

5) I can find ways to celebrate that doesn't involve blowing my healthy eating plan.

6) Being overweight is an outside indication that interna changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well.

7) I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but to define the parameters of my freedom.

Just such great thoughts.  Ways to set up myself for success.  On the road to health.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Today, my mom went to Grand Junction with Andrea for a work party.

My dad took the kids to basketball practice.

And that left me alone in the house.


I don't know when I've actually been alone.  For an extended period of time.

It's been a LOOOOONG time!

There is no noise.

No chickens crowing outside the window.

No children crying in the living room.

No noise.

Only the sound of the food I'm preparing on the stove (a Mexican casserole!!), and the tick of these keys as I type.


I needed this.


It snowed today.

And it's beautiful.

And it's cold.

Overwhelmed, but see the Hope

I have been overwhelmed by the enormous numbers of tragedies that have happened here in the US these past few days. 

My dear friend, Corinne, wrote about it so beautifully here that I just had to share it.

There is hope.  Thanks for the reminder!

Contemplating Home

Yesterday's jet lag didn't hit me at all.  I survived all day.  No nap.  Not even feeling all that tired.

This last night was a different story.

Besides waking myself up with this awful cough, I woke up bright and early at 5:00 am and just tossed and turned, hoping I would fall back asleep, but never happening.

And so, this morning, I am sitting here in the dark as I type this post, reflecting on the days to come.

It's a little surreal to go from my life in Ghana to my life here in the States.

In so many ways, life feels really normal here.  Dr's appointments, preparing sandwhiches for lunch, chatting with family over breakfast, emailing at a normal speed.  It feels really normal.

And yet my mind (and my heart) is always in two places at once. 

My friend, Robin Beebe, said last week that her family is now discovering that home is more like an "idea" rather than a place.

It's so true.

There have been so many places this year that I have traveled, seen so many different things and met so many people.  When I am in Ghana, I am constantly trying to keep up with my friends and family here.

The longer that I am away from the States, the more I begin to see that "home is an idea" thing as closer to the truth.

Home is in the heart of friendship--that beautiful bond that brings people together across the miles.  Home is in the comfort of family.  Home is in the hugs of little ones...the hands that reach out to hold yours...the laughter of pure joy.

I love that Ruth, in the Bible, says, "Where you go, I go."  She understood that home wasn't a place.  It was that idea that where the Spirit of the Lord is, that is home.  And sometimes you have to leave everything you know to understand that idea of "home".

And I love that.

So, these next two months, while I'm traveling through 4 different states and will be with hundreds of friends and family members that I love...I will always be home. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mountains and Tupperware

I made it home yesterday.  A long flight...a long layover...another long flight...and a long drive home.  But, I am here.  And it is so good to be home.

I woke up to laughter upstairs and mom and dad and Andrea and Markam all chatted together. 

I looked out the bathroom window as I got ready for the day, admiring the snowy view. 

And right now, sit at our kitchen counter seeing the snow on the mountains just beyond our backyard.  The weather is below freezing and warm coats are a must.

I sit here at our kitchen counter and am reminded of life before I "grew up".  Drinking from an orange 1980's era tupperware cup, the same one I drank from as a child.  The familiar spider plants.  The woodstove pouring out hot air.  The smell of the woodsmoke.  The Christmas tree and the lights.  It's all quite lovely.

Makes me nostalgic for things of the past...

Times are different now.  But, just as sweet.

I'm looking forward to time with these memories, and making new ones, these upcoming weeks.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gimme back my stuff...

My sweet friend, Jill Bigelow, sent me a link to a sermon by Graham Cooke.  He is one of my favorites to listen to, so I was grateful for the opportunity to listen to his sermons.

His sermon continued to just speak into this release of my worry...my striving...

Powerful sermon.

You can check it out at: http://blazingfire.podbean.com/.

In any case, Graham told of a prophetic dream he once had.

He was sitting at the top of this hill, inside of an open building.  He was waiting for Jesus to come.

He saw Jesus coming up the hill towards him with a look on his face that Graham hadn't seen before, almost a frown.  As Jesus drew nearer to him, Graham said he almost felt this "fear of the Lord" coming over him, leaving Graham mentally checking through all that he had done, wondering what had brought Jesus over to him in this manner.

And Jesus came to him and shouted, "Graham, gimme back my stuff."

Taken aback, Graham exclaimed, "Excuse me?"

"Gimme back my stuff!" Jesus said again.

"I don't have any of your stuff, " Graham said.

"Gimme back my stuff!"

"But, everything I've got, YOU gave me."  Graham replied.

"No, I didn't give you this.  You took something from me.  Gimme back my stuff!"  Jesus said.

Finally, Graham asked, "What stuff?"

To which Jesus responded, "That anxiety...that fear...that rejection...that betrayal...that worry.  I died for it.  I paid the price for it.  Gimme back my stuff!"

And in the dream, Graham sank to his knees, crying.  Suddenly, he could see it.  Jesus died for all that stuff, but he still lived with it.  Graham was acting as if it were his, but it wasn't.  Someone had lied to him about all these things...that they belonged to him...that he had to work through it...but he didn't have to.

And Jesus said with a smile, "You need to understand something here.  I was absolutely thrilled to die for you and to take all those things away from you so that you would never have to have them ever ever again.  Forever.  I was thrilled knowing that I would rob you of that anxiety, that fear of man, that striving, knowing I could take away that sting of betrayal.  So that you would never have to be under that oppression again.  And listen, Graham, if you don't gimme my stuff back, I can't give you what I want to give you.  Son, that is not yours, it's mine.  THIS is yours...the whole gospel, Graham, is about exchange.  I take all your rubbish, and I give you all my glory.  Gimme back my stuff.  Gimme back my stuff.  I am not counseling you over it.  I am not pastoring you in it.  It is dead.  It is over.  I am counseling you in your new nature.  I am pastoring the newness of life in you.  I am teaching you how to become new, not how to live in the old.  Graham, you need to gimme back your stuff because it doesn't belong to you anymore.  Gimme back my stuff.  Give. Me. Back. My. Stuff.  It's mine."







Driving in Ghana

I am now a legal driver in Ghana!

This past week, I took a day off of school to go and get my driver's license.  It's so exciting to me to hold that paper in my hand and know that the next time I get pulled over, they can't "arrest me" based on driving with my California license.

Last year, around this time, John and Stacy were back in the States and I was the chief driver around the house.

I was constantly up and about getting things done and taking people places to get things done.

One of these trips, I got pulled over by the police, who proceeded to keep me for almost 30 minutes at the side of the road.  They declared that since I was driving with my California driver's license, he was going to have to arrest my car.  In all reality, he wanted a little bribe, but I refused.  Eventually, he let us go with a promise that I wouldn't drive again.

Well, the next day, I had an emergency situation with a staff member and we were off again.  I passed by the same police office along the side of the road and knew that if he saw me driving again, I would be in more trouble.  So, instead of coming back the usual way, I made a huge loop through Dodowa to avoid the police.

I felt funny "running from the cops", but sometimes...well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

But, this year, it's a different story. 

This year, we know the police pretty well along the roadside.  We rarely have problems with getting pulled over (not quite the same story with our dear friends, the Beebe's, who get pulled over almost every time they go out).  And now, I have my license.

Here's to driving....legally at least...in Ghana!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Santa Claus and Christmas

I love the Christmas season. 

I love the preparation. 

The smells...a Christmas tree...gingerbread...all the Christmas cooking...

The sights...the lights...the snow...the magic of it all...

Curling up under a blanket, a good book, and a cup of cocoa...

I just love it.

But, I am realizing more and more how much of that has been poured into me from the American culture for years and years.

I sit here in Ghana, surrounded by red dirt, rainy skies (though they should be drying out any day with the change of seasons), hot, sometimes oppressive heat, and misquitoes.  The laughter of children (and many times the cries of children) pierces through every minute of most of my days.

It looks different here.

The smells are different.

The sights are different.

I definitely won't be curling up under a cozy blanket staring out the window in wait for the snow to fall.

I think the biggest difference I have noticed is this issue of Santa Claus. 

Here, Father Christmas is something that maybe children might mention, but he has no job.  He has no role.

And as I look at our American culture, saturating this season with WANT...it really makes me sad.

You see, I see NEED everyday.

I see need in the actions of our little Gabriel who struggles with his behavior because he so longs for attention.

I see need in the body and health of our little Amenyo who has battled regaining his health after being malnourished for far too long.

I see need in the eyes of our schoolboy Angelo, knowing he has no one to run to in a time of trouble.

I see need in the clothes of some of our community kids, ripped and torn, yet proudly worn.

I see need almost everywhere I look.

So, when I see movies with gifts piled high under Christmas trees, I have to ask the question..."Why?".

It just doesn't seem quite right somehow.

Let me tell you how they celebrate Christmas here in Ghana.

First of all, parents will save their coins all year long to be able to buy and sew a new outfit for their child.  The only new thing that that child will get all year long.

They will kill a goat...or a chicken...or a rabbit...

Prepare food.

Invite family.

And everyone will come and celebrate the birth of Christ together.

First thing Christmas morning, the children will dress in their new clothes and shoes.  They will gather their Bibles and walk to church with their family.

They will praise God for the TRUE meaning of Christmas, that the greatest gift of all was brought to us on Christmas day, the gift that offers freedom, Christ Jesus.

And then, they will go back home and eat.

And dance.

And celebrate together.

Long into the night.

I love that.  And I think they've got it right.

Christmas isn't about what we want...honestly, we have just about everything we could possible want...it is about the celebration of a little boy who grew up to be the man that changed the world.  And celebrating that with family and friends...now that is what Christmas should really look like.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Made to Crave, Post #7

Sometimes, I feel like I come to each chapter just when I am dealing with the same struggle.  Does this book have to follow my journey so painfully close?  And that's what it often feels like, opening up these pages...painful.

The chapter was about the temptation of foods we love so much...the ones that call out to us who struggle with food addictions and bring us in with promises of satisfaction.  The temptation of chocolate.  The temptation of all things smothered in cheese.  The temptation of...well...anything besides rice and stew...

And, of course, this had to come up before I headed back to the States.  A year away from my usual cousine-faves, like all things Mexican food (chips and salsa should be one of the food groups, right?), steak and potatoes, In and Out burger, cheese, cheese, milk, and cheese, and finally any sweet thing that might even look semi-delectable.  And it comes to this chapter.  This chapter that talks about temptation.  The artistic way of dodging the diet with the one comment that clears it all away..."That's not fair". 

I often think to myself...I live in Ghana and never get to taste these things.  It's just not fair to deprive myself of them when I'm in the States.

And yet, I'm convicted.

You see, a couple weeks ago, I talked about the struggle and the battle that goes on (and continues to war) within me about exercising.

And yet, I knew it was time.  And so, Kathy, Holly, Emily, Stacy and I started working out.  The plan was 5 days a week.  That probably hasn't happened yet, but 3 days a week is definitely more than I was doing before (which was absolutely none at all).  We're working out.  We're sweating.  We're trying.

And so, the next step, obviously, is the food.

But, the battle wars on in my spirit.  This fight between my longings for food and the reality that my body does not need it.  I know that when I take this on, things will have to change.

Lysa says, "Temptation doesn't take kindly to being starved.  I don't know what tempts you today.  But I do know this vicious cycle and I'm here to give you hope that it is possible to conquer it."

Hmmm...Temptation doesn't take kindly to being starved.  It thrives on the battle of the mind...the battle of the stomach...
And I know that so well, so everything within me wants to rail against that last statement.  My battle with my weight has been something I have faced since I was eight years old.  It feels IMPOSSIBLE to conquer.

But, I also know the truth...where God calls me MORE THAN A CONQUERER. 

She says about her own struggle with choosing to not eat sugar and the lies that came, "But in that moment of temptation, I realized having a pity party was a clue I was relying on my own strength, a strength that has failed me before and would fail me again.  I had to grab hold of God's strength and the only way to do that ws in invite His power into this situation....I mentally recited my go-to script: 'I am made for more. I am made for victory.'"

And I know that.  I know I'm made for more.  I know...when my knees are aching after running down a dusty African road...I've got to be made for more than this.  When I hide my food and eat, feeling instantly guilty of the choice that I've made, I know that I've got to be made for more than this.

"They may know they are made for more, but somehow Satan dissipates this truth with the rationalization: 'Special times deserve special exceptions and anything else just isn't fair.'"

And my rationalization regarding these special time has EVERYTHING to do with living and working and eating in Ghana.  So, when a visitor brings me an extra large bag of dark chocolate peanut m&m's, I'm going to eat them, because it's just not fair that I can't have them all the time because I live and work in a foreign country where this stuff is just not available.

And my rationalization coming home is usually much the same.  Eat as much of everything.  Indulge, indulge, indulge...because this is the last time you're going to get it for AT LEAST a year...maybe more.

Because it just isn't fair otherwise.

But, is it really fair what I have done to my body.  My knees will surely tell you no!  My figure will surely tell you no!

I hide behind a job "well-done" knowing that people will maybe see "me" there, as they surely won't see "me" inside this body.  I've done a pretty good job of hiding myself away.

I've allowed my weaknesses...my rationalizations...to guide my life in this area for pretty much my entire life.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

And that is why I post these inner most thoughts here...I want to boast about my weaknesses because I want...oh, so desperately...for Christ's power to rest on me.  I want his strength to pour into my weary spirit and change my life.  I am so weak...and I need his strength.

"Weakness is hard, but weakness doesn't have to mean defeat.  It is my opportunity to experience God's power firsthand."

And that is what I want.  I want my life to be a testimony to God's power working in me.  Oh, I long for that.  I long for that more than I long for chocolate.  And that, I hope, is where the change is going to come.

"What if this battle with food isn't the curse we've always thought it to be?  What if it's actually the very thing, if brought under control, that can lead us to a better understanding of God?  What if we could actually get to the place where we thanked God for letting us face this battle because of the rich treasures we discovered on the battlefield?"

I want to be in that place.  I am SO NOT THERE YET.

"Life as a Christ follower will always be a learning process of depending less on our own strength and more on God's power.  The Bible teaches that this 'testing of our faith deelops perseverance which must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything' (James 1:3-4)....This truth should be the cry of our souls instead of Satan's lie that 'it's not fair'.  Our taste buds make such empty claims to satisfy us, but only persevering with God will make us truly full, complete, not lacking anything."

Seems to be the mantra that God is teaching me these days. 

Less of me.  More of Him. 

I long to be mature in faith, not lacking anything, and in that fullness, experience the freedom in Christ regarding my issues with food.

I would say that my challenge is in going home and trying to maintain this perspective, but I know that the perspective doesn't change here either.  It is difficult for me to say no to so much here on a regular basis.

And so it begins.  Saying no to things that I know will draw me in to the places I just can't allow myself to go anymore (with God's help), because I am made for more than this.

That part of my life has got to change.  And it's going to start now.  One step at a time.  Trusting that God will provide the strength when the rationalizations start popping up...and the cravings...and the lies...

I am made for more.  I am made for victory.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It seems like these past couple of weeks, I have been struggling with worry.

This week it overflowed when my assistant, Ella, announced that she had to leave due to a family conflict.

I thought to myself, "How can I go back to the States with all this on my plate and NO ONE in the school." 

I was worried.

Probably unnecessarily so (as my friend Christina reasoned with me later), but in those moments, the worry was real and oppressive and overpowering.

And then, this morning, I spend the morning in my room instead of attending the usual CORM church service.  Me and my Papa. 

I entered the throneroom and worshipped. 

I felt like I had cuddled up in his arms as I prayed and talked and cried with my Abba Father.

I hadn't done that in a long time.

Too long.

And then, I turned on a couple of podcasts that a friend sent my way (Thanks Steve!) by a preacher named Todd White. 

You know when you come into the presence of God, He is going to speak.

And speak, He did.  More than even speaking, He disciplined.

Todd's sermon was on worry.  He said that many Christians live their entire life in a place of STRIVING instead of a place of REST...a place of WORRY instead of a place of CONFIDENCE.  And it's more than just living in an unhealthy spiritual place...it's a sinful place.


Jesus has already done it.  The price has been paid.  Yet, we constantly take BACK his sacrifice and say that what He did is not enough...that we have to STRIVE for more...that we have to WORRY about getting the next thing done.

It's not fair.  It's not right.  It's not TRUE.

And I was reminded again...as God showed me on Friday...that it's time for me to LAY THIS DOWN.  This burden is not mine to carry. 

I can't worry about what will happen when I'm not around.  I have to TRUST that God is in control!

I can't worry about getting everything in place before I leave.  I will do my best and know that God will provide for every need and He will fill in the gaps.

I can't worry about the students...the teachers...GES...the curriculum...

This isn't about the school at all, in fact.

It's about me...and God...and surrender.

And it's an every day surrender.

It's not easy.  But it is fair.  And it is right.  And it is true.

So, that's what I'm trying.  That everyday surrender.  That every moment surrender. 

I need that REST.  I need that CONFIDENCE.  I need more of CHRIST and less of me.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


This week has been incredibly stressful.  Yesterday, I heard the news from my newly hired office assistant that she wouldn't be returning to work for me due to some problems within the family.

Not the first time I have heard that this year. 

As a matter of fact, that is the THIRD "I quit" scenario I have heard this year.  But, this one kinda put me over the edge.

Stressed about getting everything done before I head back to the States, I had been working on training Ella, my assistant, to do much of the little day to day things that I do around here.  I got along with her so well and was so pleased to have found such a friendly and eager person to help move our school forward.

And then, tragedy struck and it left me without help...again.

And then, hearing news from home about a dear friend moving away...

Well, it was all just a little too much to handle in one day.

And so, instead of our normal Jilian Micheals workout, I decided to go for a walk.

And the walk turned into a run.

And the run turned into a race against myself...my mind...my emotions...

And the race turned into a mess of tears.

But, good tears.

Healthy tears.

Tears that said, "I cannot do this alone.  I need help.  And that help can only come from my Father."

I sat down at the end of the road and cried...surrendered...fully understanding that this mess that I was in had one purpose, in releasing myself from the burden of carrying this school, and handing it over to the Maker who had the vision in the first place.

And then, this song came on my ipod, sending me even deeper into my hurt, and fear, and insecurities.  This song, "Beautiful Things" by Gungor, brings back memories that seem to have been from a lifetime ago. 

I got to be a part of the birth of one of my nieces (I guess you could call her a niece, since her mom and I are practically sisters), and this song was almost on repeat in the birthing room. 

But, besides those beautiful memories, it also holds such a beautiful truth.

This year, I have struggled with my singleness, at times my loneliness, the burden of what we do here...

But, this song brought great truth.  He does make beautiful things out of the dust.  And those tears that flowed down my face felt like I was being molded...


made beautiful again...

And so I leave you with these words, the ones that shaped yesterday's experience and turned it into something quite lovely.

"Beautiful Things"

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us