Saturday, August 8, 2015

Jamaica -- Days 3-6 (Clinic days)

Monday morning brought clinic in full swing. Monday through Thursday were very similar in structure, but the experience from day-to-day was so different.  We were up and out of our hotel by 7:00 AM, pulling up to the church's gate by 7:15 A.M. The church was watched over by a uniformed security guard, how often does THAT happen in the U.S? Every morning as we drove up, there were people lined up already waiting on the clinic to open. These folks came through the night to receive a ticket to be seen by clinic. Our team was comprised of Jamaicans and Stafford Crossing folks, and one lady who traveled all the way from Canada to be part of MASH. Her family lived in Grant's Pen and she came to minister to them.

 

We had breakfast each day with our Jamaican brothers and sisters. We never went hungry or thirsty thanks to Lisa and her team, even on the day we didn't have any water. Before we opened the gate and let people in, each morning Pastor Muirhead, Reid, or Metts would lead us in a devotion. It was always something to remind us that we were there to work in unity to be a door to those who were broken to come to Jesus. A couple of the mornings Pastor Muirhead led us in the "Hallelujah" chant. It was just as it sounds.  He would shout "Hallelujah" and we, with hands raised, would shout it back. It was dual purpose, to beat back the enemy and to charge us up for the day.  Once the gates opened, it would be a whirlwind.

Those with tickets were let into the gate, where they registered and were given an arm band and a number. Each color represented different services that were offered. We had pediatricians, general practitioners, a dental team, and the local Lion's Club did eye exams and provided glasses. Once they were registered, they sat under the tent until their number was called. An arm band got you in for one service, if you wanted to see someone in addition, you had to go around and get another number. That helped prevent people from just coming in and hanging out in the air conditioning.

Once under the tent, before entering the building, the crowd was greeted by Pastor Muirhead, who then introduced our pastor, Darryl. Darryl's part was to present the gospel to them. He did it through words, and then he did it using a visual illustration. In the picture below, you see what the containers looked like before he told people that sin taints us all. He would take the sin container and pour it into the you container and it would turn orange. Then he would say Jesus has power to wipe away sin. He would take that Jesus container and pour it into us, and it would turn clear again, and then he would pour into the sin container and it would turn clear to, because Jesus takes all our sin when we trust him. It was a powerful picture, and it made it so easy in the prayer pod to then come back to that as part of the conversation.  It was then that the clinic opened in full force.




The Jamaicans handled the intake and the distribution of arm bands and the directing of "traffic" within the clinic.  I, for one, was so thankful for their part in this for lots of reasons. One being, even though Jamaicans speak English, wow can they be hard to understand sometimes! On top of that, a lot of Jamaicans intersperse Patois (a local language) with their English...when that happens all bets are off. Another reason was they were able to interact with them in a way that we could not. Often you would hear them refer to the mothers as "Mommy" or elder ladies at "Auntie." And the most important part I think was that they got to see the love of Christ displayed in a tangible way through their neighbors. What a powerful message.



Those of us who were not medically trained or assigned to specific tasks rotated from station to station.  It was quickly evident where my strengths were and were not. The first morning I was in the prayer pod. What a privilege to get to talk to people as they were finished at the clinic. I met people who were far from God, and people who humbled me with their walk with Jesus. The most common request I got was for a job. Unemployment and underemployment is a significant problem in Jamaica. It is part and parcel of why the drug trade has such a hold, why there has been such unrest there in the past, and the part of the reason for 12 foot walls everywhere you go.


The very first morning, I met a lady with a small child.  She had been there for her daughter to see the pediatrician. Nothing serious was wrong, but she had these sad, pleading eyes.  As I talked with her, I found out that she was living with a man who was caring for her and her children. They were not married. As I shared the gospel with her, she kept coming back to "not being ready" that she had to be married because she knew what she was doing was not right in God's eyes. I explained to her that there's no need to be "ready." Jesus wants us just as we are, he wants us to bring him our stuff and let him deal with it. She agreed to pray with me, but I am not sure that in her heart she understood, as she left that sadness still filled her eyes. But, I am going to trust that God is bigger than my doubt and believe that I will see her one day again. That afternoon as I was readying for devotions that evening, I was practiced a new song that had captured my heart the week before we left, it's called Ever Be by Bethel Music. The second verse of the song says this:

Alex managed to get a picture of us talking.
You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
You’re making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

All I could do was be amazed that God had been preparing me to meet this woman through the words of this song! I shared that story with our team as I introduced the song to them. It became a favorite over the week.

There were other amazing encounters during the week in the prayer pod and beyond. There was the lady who on Wednesday would find out the results of a breast biopsy she had recently. There was a lady name Lana who after I prayed for her, prayed for me in the most powerful way. There was a lady and her mother whose prayer requests had nothing to do with provision or selfishness, they wanted spiritual strength and as the older lady said "More of Jesus, more of  Jesus every day." Among the Jamaicans working the clinic there was Tamara who worked tirelessly to give the children of Grant's Pen an amazing week of VBS. Her humor and heart were so encouraging to me. There was Gavin, who when I was floundering trying to work the nurses station doing something as simple as taking down their information and getting their height and weight, swept in and got things rolling in the right direction.  There was Donald, a young man of perhaps 18, who would come and listen to me practice in the afternoons. His faithfulness to being at clinic every day and his willingness to do whatever was needed was a blessing. Bianca, whose first touch with Upper Room was at MASH last year, who ran the intake like a professional, full of kindness yet able to keep those whom would try to take advantage from doing so. And Malcolm, a young man who attends Kencot Christian Church (another partner of our church) but came almost every day to help and to visit with us.

Clinic days flew by. A lot of the cases were simple, people who needed medications, people who needed glasses, or dental care. Unfortunately, the docs saw quite a lot of STDs, too. Some days were harder than others. I think it was on Wednesday when a lady came through who had stage 4 breast cancer and was not aware. That was a hard day on our nurses, doctors, and prayer pod people. That was a day everyone involved wished they could do more. As pastors, doctors, and prayer support people gathered around her to pray, tears flowed and our Great Physician had to be entrusted to see to her as she left. I can't imagine what it was like to be in the middle of that. Yasmine Muirhead has a great relationship with doctors in the community and would see that she was cared for, but that day took a toll on us.

One of my favorite stories happened on the last day of clinic.  I was in the hospitality room working on songs for that evening when one of the Jamaicans, probably somewhere in his 50's from the grey in his beard, whom I had seen but not really spoken to, came up to me. His name was Oswald. "I write songs," he said. He sang me bits of a song he was working on. What a blessing! It definitely needed work, but his heart for God was so evident in it. Then he told me that he painted as well. I told him I would love to see them sometime.  The next thing I know, he's come back with a trash bag full of canvases. There were landscapes, and still lifes, and an amazing portrait of a Jamaican woman. I couldn't help but gush over them, he was really talented. He told me he was taking some classes, but had drawn since he was a little boy. As we started to put them away, he slid a picture of a pink lily over to me. "Would you like to have it?" he asked. I was gob stopped. I wasn't sure what to do. Pastor Reid was sitting on the other side of the room I looked at her and she just smiled. So, I hugged him and took the gift. After he left, I went over to Pastor Reid and asked her if I should give him money for it. She assured me no, that Oswald was a new Christian and he wanted to bless me so I should allow him to be a blessing. What Oswald didn't know was my birthday was coming on Saturday. This painting was the best birthday present I could have gotten.


Each evening we would go to Kencot Christian Church, have dinner and a devotional time.  Kencot is a large church and one that we have helped build, literally. It was great bonding time for us as a team.  Darryl worked it out so that it wasn't just teaching, but interactive. I led a small group, and we had some great conversations. On Thursday after dinner, Lisa surprised me with cupcakes for my birthday. What a nice surprise.  And then instead of doing our devotions, we went back to Upper Room to watch their basketball team play in a finals game. That was an experience! So much noise! Lots of cheering and horns and banging of pots and pans. It was quite raucous. The team ended up losing, but it was a ton of fun to be there and cheer for our friends. Another night after devotions a lot of us loaded in the vans and went to Devon House. Devon House was formerly the governor's mansion in Kingston. It's a gorgeous estate that has been transformed into a tourist/shopping area. There's a shop that sells ice cream that they make. It's awesome ice cream and a beautiful setting.

I'm sure there's lots of other stories I could share, but this post is getting way too long. Clinic days were long, but full of blessing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jamaica -- Day 2 (Church and Set Up)

Day 2 dawned earlier than I probably wanted, but later than a normal Sunday for me. Lisa and Rosina started their day earlier than the rest of us, as they would the rest of the week.  They were responsible for feeding us, and we never went hungry that's for sure. Breakfasts usually consisted of muffins, sweet breads, yogurt, lots of fresh fruit,  (the best pineapple I've had since I was in Hawaii), cereal bars, granola bars, and peanut butter, Nutella, and jelly.  After that first morning we ate at the church, so there were hardboiled and scrambled eggs available, too.

The coffee was strong and the water was filtered by the 5 gallon container. Lisa uses a filter on the water out of an abundance of caution. We don't need all of us going down to something in the water, that's for sure. Bottled water was available too at times, in Jamaica the brand is Wata...for real.


If you look closely, you'll see large black tanks on the roofs of the buildings

Water is at a premium in Kingston, they have been under a drought for several years now.  It seems that the rain hasn't been making it over the mountains.  Kingston is on the south side of the island, the northern parts have plenty of the precious source, so it's trucked in to those who can afford it at a premium price. All over the city there are large black containers on rooftops to store water. In fact, that morning when we drove up to church, they were receiving a delivery of water. It's very strange to be in a place surrounded by water and at times during the week, we were unable to flush toilets.




Sunday morning we had the distinct pleasure of worship with our partners at Upper Room Community Church. Upper Room is in the Grant's Pen neighborhood of Kingston. Grant's Pen is one of the most violent, hurting neighborhoods in all of Kingston. In past years, the presence of gangs and drug dealers were felt during our week there. The church, like our hotel, is surrounded by a 10 foot concrete wall, razor wire, and an iron gate. Down the street from the church, people live in shacks.

 
Upper Room usually has services in their sanctuary on the upper floor, but they took pity on us poor, spoiled Americans and had it in the basement where it was air-conditioned. The air-conditioning is thanks to the MASH clinic. The story goes that a local politician visited the clinic one year and saw our folks treating the locals in the sweltering heat. He promised that the next year it would not be that way, and he made sure the church got air conditioning units for the basement.

For church we spread out throughout the room so that those who were veterans might sit with their old friends and newbies like me might meet some of our soon-to-be new friends.  Upper Room is pastored by Ian Muirhead and his wife Yasmine. He is supported by Pastors Metts and Reid, both amazing women of God. Pastor Muirhead's son John leads worship for Upper Room. Worship was full of energy and freedom. The messages of the songs were about being a conqueror and who we are in Christ. "We are going up, we are going up together, we are going up to prosper, in the name of the Lord." was one of the songs we sang. Some of the songs were black gospel songs, but others were songs we would do at Stafford Crossing, adding a twist that made it special. John is a gifted worship leader and a talented keyboardist. I had a sweet time worshiping under his leadership. The music and singing were so loud that it didn't matter if I sang what everyone else was singing, so I found myself just singing the name of Jesus at times. It was moving. John was supported by several singers, a drummer, and a bassist. One of the singers was new to the church last year during MASH, and this year she ran a lot of the clinic for the Jamaicans. Our pastor, Darryl preached the message. He talked about temptations and trials, preparing us for the week ahead.


supplies
After church we went back to the hotel to change and came back to set up the clinic. Outside several large tents were set up with white plastic chairs under them. Those tents would be registration and waiting areas as well as a tent for the Vacation Bible School that would run through part of the day each clinic day. The same room we had church in quickly transformed using rope, tarps, and lots of duct tape into a full-fledged clinic. The downstairs office became the pharmacy, the alcove at the far end of the room where the drummer sat that morning became the dental clinic. Along the left side of the room 5 treatment rooms and the prayer pod emerged. The right side housed the waiting areas, nurses' station, and a spot for the local Lions Club to do eye exams. As the hours went by, the exam tables, dentist chair, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and other needed items all found their place. We are blessed to have people that do this trip time and again because it truly makes the hard parts easy, as long as you're willing to do what you're told.

  
I spent most of the afternoon counting vitamins along with other "support" people. We counted out a 30-day supply of vitamins and placed them in little ziploc bags. The kids made it a little game; how many times can you pour out exactly 30 pills. I was the champ! Everyone who comes through the clinic gets vitamins. Nutrition is poor in Grant's Pen. The nurses encountered one man who had lost his job and was living off mangos he found that had fallen off trees.  They gave him pre-natal vitamins to try to supplement his poor diet. This was another example of God showing me how blessed I truly am. I hope the thankfulness I developed in Jamaica is something that will follow me, but I am sure like other things, it's going to take a conscious choice.




That evening, we had a dinner with our Jamaican brothers and sisters to prepare for the next 4 days of clinic. Skip, on his many trips here, has found a woman who does the catering of our dinners for us. We eat a lot of chicken and rice, and there's always a green salad. It was nice to get to know some of the folks we would be working with, both the Jamaicans and the Stafford Crossing folks. We aren't a mega church, but it's easy to come in and "do church" and leave.

When it came time to go back to the hotel, I think most of us were ready to sleep. It had been a productive, but busy day, and our busiest days were ahead of us still. As I drifted off to sleep, I silently prayed thanksgiving for what I'd seen so far and entreated God to bless the coming days, keep us strong, and use us. It's not often you get to see prayer answered within 24 hours, but he did just that.

Coming soon -- clinic days


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jamaica -- Day 1

Last week, I went to Jamaica with Stafford Crossing Community Church's MASH missions team. It was my first mission trip in a long time and it was my first ever trip outside the U.S.  I felt very secure about going, since several of the participants had been there more times than they can count. There were 35 of us, some medical professionals (nurses, doctors, dental hygienists and assistants, pharmacists, and EMTs), some teenagers, and some of us just regular folk to act as support.

There were many blessings and a few miracles this past week. The first miracle was I was able to get up 2:30 in the morning to get ready to leave. Our bus to the airport left at 3:30 AM. However, the first real miracle was when we arrived in Kingston, friends of our group were waiting for us on our side of customs. See, we brought our medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and a lot of our food with us. It can be quite a laborious process getting that stuff through regardless of our preparation. We were able to almost glide through customs.





Shortly there after, we were eating our first Jamaican lunch of patties and coco bread. I think every culture has a version of the patty, it's dough filled with some kind of meat paste, in this case it's fried. I found out the next morning at breakfast that coco bread is amazing with peanut butter or Nutella.

Kingston is a busy city. Unlike any city I've been in here in the U.S., there are goats everywhere. Little herds of goats wander the streets like dogs. Oh, and there's plenty of dogs wandering the streets, too. The traffic is crazy and the street signs are crazier, "Running the red light may put your light out" and "Protect your head, don't end up dead."  Being a passenger while driving on the left side of the road is freaky enough, I can't imagine driving. Thank goodness for Darryl, Skip, Alex, and Phil.

 


There are vendors everywhere, selling everything from bug swatters to honey buns and mangos. Our hotel, like most every other building in Kingston, was surrounded by a 10 foot wall with razor wire on the top and had a guarded gate. That's another one of those things that you don't have to worry about here.  We never went anywhere alone, and never went outside any of the places we served or stayed at.


Our first night we were blessed to have dinner with a local businessman and his family. They shared their beautiful home with us. The young ones and the more competitive older ones played soccer in the hot sun. Personally, I stayed under in the shade on the expansive porch or by the pool. The family treated us to some coconuts and to Ting, a favorite Jamaican soda. It was a treat to relax after the long day of travel. 






All of us were ready for bed when we left. I got to room with two of our nurses and a nurse practitioner. Kim, Chrissy, and Anna were consummate professionals and have such hearts of compassion. They also are hard core. Even on the most exhausting day, they would work out, like I said hard core. I felt bad they had to live with the person who lives by herself.  I probably took up too much space and left my clothes in the bathroom too many times, but they were patient with me.

It was a hectic and long day. Through it all God kept reminding me He was in details and He was going to teach me something new about Him, about me, and about the people of Jamaica and of Stafford Crossing.

Coming soon -- Day 2

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Last Word

Growing up, I was the kid who couldn't walk the mile in under 20 minutes. I just couldn't do it. I tried, but always failed the Presidential Physical Fitness test. Even now, as I take my walks round the canal path here in Fredericksburg, I'm lucky to hit under 20 minutes a mile. Lately, I decided I wanted to see if I could push myself and make a dent in that time. 

This morning, I was pushing myself. I thought I was doing well. Then, two little tiny ladies walking a Yorkie lapped me, not sweating or breathing hard at all. I'm sweating a river and breathing like I'm trying to get somewhere fast. Immediately, I started to beat myself up. "Really? How can that possibly be? I know my stride is longer than theirs. What the heck?" I got discouraged, fast. I was listening to worship music, and Elevation Church's "The Last Word" came on. The bridge says this: 


Your word stands through the ages
Your voice shatters the darkness
In you we are more than conquerors
You speak and strongholds surrender
Your name overcomes the enemy
In you we are more than conquerors

It was then that I remembered that I need not compare myself to anyone else. You see, this is one of those places where the enemy gets me. This is my dark place, my stronghold. I go to the "you're no good" place way too easily. Now, I know that in reality there is nothing good in me in and of myself. However, I have Jesus in me and I am a child of the King. Just as the song said, I'm a conqueror. Instead my heart filling with self-doubt, my heart filled with the knowledge that God has this and he can be my strength. In whatever you are facing today, you have a Savior who shatters the darkness of your situation, One who has overcome the enemy and to whom strongholds must surrender.  You are more than a conqueror. I am more than a conqueror.

Now, I never did pass or catch up with the ladies and their little dog. But, when I got home and did the math, I averaged 17.8 minutes a mile. The girl who could never break a 20 minute mile; more than a conqueror. 

You can listen to the song below.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Carrying Persistently

This morning, my study lead me to Mark 2:1-12. It's the story of the paralytic and the men that carried him to Jesus.  And while the writer of my study made a different point, I was reminded of a simple truth. The friends carried the one they loved to Jesus because he couldn't get there himself. And because of this, Mark says this:  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

What a reminder and conviction to me. The man couldn't get to Jesus on his own, others had to carry him. It was their faith that Jesus saw and that is what spurred him to set the paralytic free. I always thought and assumed that those who carried the man were his friends, but scripture doesn't say that. They were simply people who saw a need and knew Jesus could fill it. It's up to me to carry those who are paralyzed by sin and circumstance to Jesus. It is my faith that can break down the barriers between those I love and Jesus--between those I don't even know and Jesus. I am sure it wasn't easy carrying that man to Jesus (scripture doesn't say from how far away they came) and when they got there they found an impenetrable crowd. Rather than turning back, they took him to the roof and dug through, just to get the man into the presence of Jesus. What would have happened if just one of them had stopped digging or let go of his side of the mat they lowered him on? I have to be persistent in my faith, prayer, and service. Our God is faithful to the end, and so must we be.

So, as I look on the rubble of Nepal and Baltimore and as I contemplate those around me who are hurting or are far from God, I must be faithful in my faith, prayer, and service. It's not going to be easy, I can't let the crowd or obstacles of life get in way. I must have faith that God is present and working. I must do what I can to make a difference. I must pray for the things that only God can do like change hearts and make beauty from ashes. So, today I choose to pick up the mat and carry my friends, my family, and those I don't know to the One who can make a difference in their day-to-day and their eternity. God give me the strength to be persistent in my carrying.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Persistent Faith: A Lesson in Job Hunting

Last week in my BSF lesson,  we talked about Matthew 15, this story has been rattling around in my head all week.

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Some people are bothered by Jesus' reaction to this woman; that the God of compassion would turn her away. He does it not once, but three times! I am initially a little bothered by it, but then I remember how many times Jesus did things like this to test the resolve of those who approached, to see if what they asked for is what they really want or to teach his disciples something. 

But in my case, it's this woman whom I keep thinking about. This Canaanite woman from Greece (that's in the Mark version) begging Jesus for help.  Lest we forget, the Canaanites were the people the Israelites conquered in order to take possession of the Promised Land. So, I am guessing a group of Jews weren't exactly welcome guests in Tyre and Sidon. Despite that, she's heard about this Jesus and the things that he's done. This Gentile who likely worshiped the Baals or perhaps Greek gods, cries out, "Lord, Son of David have mercy on me.." That's a big step of faith and of cultural courage. She gets nothing but silence from Jesus and she makes the disciples uncomfortable. They ask Jesus to send her away. Jesus makes it clear that he's not there to help her, or so it appears. This woman approaches him, kneels before him, and says, "Lord, help me."  Jesus quips that he should not share what is rightfully the "children's" with "the dogs." This woman, so clever, so desperate, so full of faith that Jesus can save her daughter, counters with "even dogs eat crumbs from the master's table." This. This is what Jesus has been waiting for, for her persistent faith, for her unwavering faith in the face of what seems to be complete rejection by the one she thinks can solve her problems who can give her what she really needs and really wants.

As I look at my own life, this is what I seem to lack. I'm getting better at some things, but being unyielding and hanging on by faith is not how I'm wired. Maybe it's all the stuff I've been through that has done that. I've learned to be better at saying "Okay, God, I don't like it, but okay," rather than continuing to ask, continuing to plead, continuing to have faith that God has something not just okay, but amazing for me. I have gotten pretty good at being okay with okay. Where is the line between "being content in all circumstances" and having that persistent faith? As I continue this job search, (and in other areas of my life) that is my dilemma. (Well, that and I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up.) 

This coming Monday, I have only my second face-to-face interview in my a little over a month of unemployment. The job is in Frederick, Maryland. It's a job I applied to because, for unemployment purposes you have to show you're looking. It was one of the few jobs that I found last week that didn't require some kind of clearance. (Ah, the joys of DC.) My initial reaction to this opportunity was "ick," and "really, really, THIS is the door you're opening for me." As a young friend of mine said on my Facebook page...you must be mistaken I said FREDERICKsburg not FREDERICK. Now, I may get there and find it's amazing and Frederick would be a great place to move to. (I would have to move, I'm not built for a 2 hour plus each way daily commute). But, maybe God is using it to do a couple other things. 1. Make me really focus and decide what I want to do and where I want to do it. 2. Give me a chance to cling, to be persistent, to not waver..to not be okay with just okay. 

Maybe it's time I live like this Canaanite woman.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

White as Snow

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us." I John 1:8-10

 "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7

It's supposed to snow today, a deep blanket of white that will hide the ugly brown of winter. It will sparkle and glisten. The world will be quiet and clean and beautiful. We will revel in it, play in it, and find joy in it.

As someone who grew up in Pennsylvania, though, I know that all that white eventually turns into gray gunk that drags us into the winter doldrums. You have to shovel it, it gets your feet wet, it makes for messy driving and for cranky people. And yet, when fresh flurries come, there's still a marveling at the clean white that falls from the sky and blankets the earth.

I have made my choice, my eternity is secure. In God's eyes, I am white as snow.  But because I'm still here, I am going to continue to make gray gunk out of my life. So today, as I wait for the snow to fall, confession is my theme.

Forgive me:
For being puffed up
For concentrating on the words and not on You, Jesus
For not believing

For my heart that wanders
For thinking less of others
For having blinders on and cotton in my ears
For having my head down and my eyes on the screen
For rushing from one thing to the next
For having small faith
For listening to every voice other than Yours
For forgetting
For lying to make myself look good
For not praying, not loving, not serving
For keeping my mouth shut when I should speak
For speaking when I should keep my mouth shut
For putting myself at the front of the line
For stubbornness, pride, and envy
For seeing others as what they do and not who they are
For lacking compassion
For not trusting You

That's just some of my gray gunk, Lord.  Thank you for the fresh blanket of white that falls as I lay it down. Thank you that it brings joy and I can see beauty again. Hope becomes my theme.

Don't panic...this is from Snowmageddon a couple years ago





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Aspiring to a lot, accomplishing a little, and praying for all the stuff in between