Thursday, June 12, 2008

the past and the pitcher

Go here. What a beautiful picture of the gospel. Our God is so good.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

only because i love kim and caroline

I feel the need to put a disclaimer here that I never do these survey things...but I'm bored...

Ten years ago...I was 16 years old and a sophomore at Stamford High School. Stamford's a boring town and it was a pretty boring life.

My to do list today...1.Find out what I lack in being ready to apply for licensure in Texas. 2. Fill out form Dr. Cokely sent me; 3. Order cap and gown for graduation (did not do...shoooot); 4. Unpack from this weekend (again..not accomplished); 5. Procrastinate by messing around on my blog

What would I do if I suddenly became a off my student loans; give a ton away - to compassion international, my church, my parents, my brother and his soon to be wife; sponsor a ton of compassion kids and send them all to college; travel the world and maybe settle in Africa for a while - set up a clinic there and a school for the deaf; buy a lot of cute shoes and purses

Three of my bad habits...1. Biting my nails; 2. Starting a bunch of books at the same time. I think I have 5 on my bedside table right now. I just can't wait to finish one before I start another one; 3. Procrastinating about taking out the trash

Five jobs I've had...1. Worked at Pizza Pro; 2. Mentor, site supervisor and then assistant to the director of Waco Reads; 3. Radiology file clerk at Hillcrest in Waco; 4. "Guest Service" at Target (THE worst job ever...imagine being the person who has to tell you no because Target has the dumbest return policies ever) 5. Audiology Intern at Arkansas Children's Hospital

Five things people don't know about me...
1. I don't drink water through straws.
2. I am a published author. When I was in the 4th grade I sent a story that I wrote to 20 or so publishers and one of them actually put it in a book! I still love to write and I really want to take a creative writing class sometime soon. I'm taking a break from school at the moment.
3. I was a drum major my senior year in high school...and had maybe the worst uniform ever...skirts with go-go boots...unfortunately my mom proudly displays a picture of this at home.
4. When I was little I used to call salt and pepper, sausage and black sausage. Sunglasses were sackies and I called my uncle Frank, Bocky...I don't know.
5. I want to adopt a baby from Africa one day even if I never get married.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Ok, so maybe it's not news if it's two weeks old....but for those of you who haven't heard, I am moving back to Dallas on May 8! WOOO HOOOOO!

Right now I am in the process of figuring out where I am going to live, so if you know of anyone who needs a roomate, please let me know or pass my name on. I'd like to live in the Lewisville area and I have a dog that they will need to be ok to live with. Other than that, I'm pretty flexible.

That's all the random news I have for today. I hope everyone's Easter was fantastic.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

i mean, really????

So I am just watching American Idol and this is what Paula Abdul said to some poor 17 year old boy:

"I wanted to squish you, squeeze your head off and dangle you from my rearview mirror."

Can anyone think of any other context where saying something like this is ok and would not result in some sort of legal action? yeah, me neither...

Monday, February 4, 2008

meet my inner church kid...she's kind of a brat

I was an easy kid. I was the kid that rarely got into trouble, and when I did, my parents did not have to punish me because I have always been fabulous at doing it myself. My mom could give me a look and I would fall to pieces. I was not even good at being bad. I tried to shopift once, but as I had just had gymnastics, there were limited places to stash the tube of chapstick and my dad totally saw me pick it up. My self-punishment did not end with things that I had done wrong. In the 3rd grade, I got my first B on a report card. Chances are I hadn't worked super hard that 6 weeks, but that grade should not have blown my world apart. Oh, but it did...because it was not perfect. The next 6 weeks, not only did my grades come up in that class, I got 100s in 4 different subjects. Even after that, I can almost guarantee that I carried around shame about that grade for a while (and the fact that I remember it probably means I might still...). I probably walked into Mrs. Michaels' class every day and avoided eye contact with her, kept my head down and did everything she said to the letter for a while until I felt that I had redeemed myself in her eyes. Now, while I am sure that my drive for perfectionism began well before this, that is one of my first memories of it really affecting me.

As I grew up, I became the crown of every "good Christian family" in the Bible Belt - a good church kid. I was that kid a church that people knew they could depend on to do the right thing. I was there every time the doors were open and involved in EVERYTHING. I think looking back that I must have been incredibly thirsty for grace - I say this because once I finally got a taste of it, my soul (after a little pushing back) soaked it in like a dry sponge - but at church, what I got was a lot of rules and values to live by. Now that is a language I understand! I am by nature a rule follower. Man, I love the rules. They make me feel safe and happy (yes, that's present tense...and not always in a good way...we're working on it).

If you had known me in high school, you probably wouldn't have liked me. I was nice enough outwardly, but the truth is if I disapproved of anything you were doing, I probably made you feel like crap for doing it. I don't recall ever actually saying something to someone outright. However, I was self-righteous and I'm sure people caught on that I thought if you didn't live life like me, you were just wrong. What didn't show on the outside of that was that I loathed myself as much as others felt like I loathed them...probably more. You see, I knew that I was a fraud. I spent lots of energy trying to prevent other people from finding out, too, because then they would have known that I wasn't perfect (gasp!!!). When you are that person, it makes it nearly impossible - strike that - completely impossible to have authentic deep relationships with anyone. It is lonely.

Ok, just so this isn't the longest post in the history of the world, fast-forward 8 years to now. Through very limited effort of my own, the Lord has been really gracious and I can honestly say that I am a different person. I have amazing friendships where I can be transparent and extend and be extended very tangible grace. A lot of things have changed, but I will tell you one thing that hasn't...I am still a church kid at heart. Up until about a month ago, I really thought I had this under control (clue number one that I didn' was something I thought I had taken care of...). Then I had a very small corrective comment from my boss work me over big time. I stayed at work that night until 7pm to "fix" what I thought was broken and had trouble speaking to my boss or looking her in the eye for a couple of days (hello! welcome back to the 3rd grade). A week later something went wrong at a shower I helped plan (seriously could not have been a smaller detail) and I fell to pieces again.

Now here is what you might be thinking: "uh, Stephanie, what do these have to do with church-type things?" Well, I will tell you. I had (shoot...still have) a wall around the Law that is set up in my heart. So, Jesus, being the clever guy that He is...actually being the gracious, wise, loving, gentle guy that He to those parts of my heart in a round-about way while my guard was down...He's wiley, I tell ya. During both of the situations that I mentioned above, he whispered into my anxiety and frantic attempts to fix the situation and exposed that this is exactly what I do with any failure (perceived or real) in my life, including how I deal with my wicked heart and its manifestations.

Bottom line: I love the Law. I love it like it is going to save my life. What sucks about this is that I am a sinner and I will eventually screw up and when I realize I can't fix it, I will try even harder and so the cycle continues. I have spent the last 4 years pleading with the Lord to losen my grip on it. I can feel that He has begun...maybe pried off a finger or two...but there is still work to be done, pride to be destroyed - ultimately, I know that this is at the root of this love affair. I have been reading Galatians over and over again since September - don't judge me...I'm a slow learner. It has been eating my lunch, too. Anyway, there is a verse in there that I kind of laugh at every time I read it. It's almost as though Paul is really frustrated with language and can't quite figure out strong enough words to get his point across so he uses the same ones over and over in the same sentence. Here it is:

Galatians 2:16 - Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

How I wish this verse would penetrate my heart! Christ's repetition of the gospel over and over to me. He's whispering it in my frantic moments and, at times, screaming it through the people who He has graciously placed in my life.

So today I can't give you a story of instant healing. I write as a person who has spent a lifetime trying to earn what was freely given. Slowly, He is turning my stone heart to flesh and I am begging Him to let my story be that I continually throw myself on His mercy and wholly rely on the righteousness of Christ.

I apologize for the length of this post...but thanks for letting me process :)


ok, so I said in my last entry that there were 59 Compassion centers in Kenya....apparently there are over 250. I'm not sure where that first number came from. I went back to the website to see where I found it and I can't find it again. Sorry for making things up :) Just thought I'd correct it since that number was waaay undershooting what this organization is doing there.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

andrew ongama

This month is blog month for Compassion International. They are asking sponsors to write about their experiences. This is an incredible ministry that is working to release children from poverty in Jesus' name. I am privileged to take part in it and will probably write a little more about it, but today I want to introduce you to a really cool kid.

Meet Andrew Ongama Mahagwa. He is the child from Kenya who I sponsor(sorry he's a picture of a picture and not so clear...) This picture is a little old and apparently he wasn't happy to take it :) He is 7 years old now and he does very well in school. At the end of last year, he was 1st or 2nd in his class in every subject. He's an overachiever. No wonder I like the kid :) I guess it's good that he's smart because he wants to be a professor when he grows up. I think that's pretty cool.

He also happens to be one heck of an artist. I get pictures every time he writes me a letter. I can't tell if he is trying to play a game with me, but he always draws a picture and then writes three choices (in for what that picture might be. Maybe he's getting an early start on that teaching gig. Usually there is a theme to the pictures, but always present is the "man" picture. This man is always holding a gun. I used to feel sorry for Andrew because this seemed strange and very sad to me. Then I went to Africa and saw at least one reason that he draws those pictures. Very few people trust the police, and for good reason. Government on the whole there tends to be corrupt and available for sale to the highest bidder. For this reason, private security companies are hired to guard everything. Houses, banks, restaurants, hotels, etc. The guards almost always carry a big gun. When I was in Mozambique last year, it took a while to get used to this, but it eventually became no different than when we see policemen walking around. The guards at our hotel had large guns, but I never felt afraid of them. They also proved to me just how handy a machete can be...but that's another story for another blog.

I took what I knew and added it to the idea that Kenya really has been one of the safest places in Africa to feel ok about the fact that Andrew's man always carries a gun. I am sure it is because it is almost too much for me to think about what actually living where he lives must be like.

But now I can't avoid thinking about it. Andrew no longer lives in one of the safest places in Africa. He lives in a place that is scary and where violence is spreading rapidly and where the men with guns are not the good guys. I am helpless to do anything for him now but pray. He is being raised by his aunt (along with 4 other children) so I pray mostly for her. I cannot begin to imagine how hopeless she must feel. I pray that she knows the Lord and that he is near to her.

So I just wanted to introduce you guys to this little boy and urge you to pray for Kenya (and Andrew specifically). Sometimes it helps to put things into perspective when you have an individual face to put on it.

Compassion has a total of 59 centers in Kenya and 39 of them have been affected. Because most of the violence has been occuring in the poorest areas and slums, many children and families who are supported by Compassion have been displaced. Andrew's center is not yet on the list of those that have been affected, but if this continues, it is likely that it will be soon. The following is a list of specific prayer requests listed on Compassion's website. Please pray.

Pray that mediation efforts to resolve the post-election violence bear fruit and break the political stalemate in the government.
Pray that the Church will rise up to her prophetic role and address the conflict in the country.
Pray that God provides for the needs of the people displayed by the political violence, and that He guards the hearts and minds of the children affected by and witnessing the violence.
Pray that peace return to the country and the economy recover quickly.
Pray for the widows and orphans of the violence.
Pray for the health and well-being of all Kenyans. The availability of medical care has been affected by the fighting
Pray that children may soon be able to return to school and resume normal lives.