Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I have been reading through a lot of the Old Testament recently, and in doing so, I continue to be amazed by God's love and mercy. Those Israelites certainly tested God's patience. Time and time again they turned away from the Lord only to find death and destruction and oppression. Then, they come back to the Lord with their tails between their legs, pleading for forgiveness, promising to be faithful. And, so they are for a little while. But, then they are drawn away again by something shiny or tasty or something that makes them feel good about themselves...

Not so different from today, eh?

God has been speaking to me, reminding me that He is coming back for a blameless, spotless bride. He is not coming back for a selfish, unforgiving prostitute. I most certainly want to be the former and not the latter.

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.' So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, 'You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.' This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David's descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of His goodness." ~ Hosea 3:1-5

Come on, Church, let's plan a wedding...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I would say this is a word that often describes how I feel about my life. It isn't a bad thing. In fact, most of the time I think it is a good thing. I spend most of my time here feeling overwhelmed with the tasks before me, which leaves me in a position of forced dependence upon the Lord. And, as much as I am overwhelmed, I am also constantly amazed at how the Lord works, at how He uses my weakness to reveal His perfect strength and competence. There is no task that is too great for Him.
I spent some time today doing some training with my co-workers, my co-laborers in the Kingdom of God. And, as we finished up training, my question was this: "Are you overwhelmed?" The honest answer from this was that they were indeed a little overwhelmed, that their heads hurt a bit with all the information, that there seemed to be so many problems and so few solutions. And, I agree with them. There is so much work to be done, and there never seems to be enough time or resources to do it. But, the bottom line is that God changes hearts, and He is faithful to do His part when we are faithful to do ours.
I shared with them what someone once told me.

"How do you eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time."
The response I received from this...
"Can we eat a chicken instead?"

No, brother, a chicken isn't big enough for my God...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

hands & feet

I have held these hands, and I have cleaned these feet.
Nails pierced Jesus' hands and feet to save the hands and feet of these.

Oh, Jesus, help me be Your hands and feet...

Friday, March 18, 2011

culture shock

I have been thinking about making a post related to this for quite some time, but I have been hesitant to do so for a variety of reasons. However, during a conversation with a friend who is going on her fifth month here, she asked me if, after nearly 16 months, I was over the culture shock. And, how did I respond?

Well, I feel like the answer is a bit complicated. Because the truth is culture shock is complicated. Culture shock does not just mean that you are shocked by the obvious differences between your "home" culture and the culture in which you are currently living.
There are many things that don't hold the same "shock" factor that they may have initially.
Traffic no longer causes me anxiety (at least not anymore than it would in America).
I don't bat an eye (or crinkle my nose) when I walk past the raw meat hanging in the market, even in the late afternoon when I know it has been sitting in the heat all day.
I enjoy being able to buy my snacks on the street without getting off my motorbike.
I am accustomed to seeing men pulling off the street, walking up to the nearest wall or tree, and peeing wherever they so desire.

Those things don't shock me anymore. But, those are not the things that culture shock is really about. There are so many more facets to it. The deeper you immerse yourself, the more there is to unpack. People handle emotions differently here. People make decisions based on things that will likely never make sense to me.

I love my life. I love Cambodia. There is nowhere else I would rather be at this point in my life, and I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. But, that does not mean that every day is easy, that I am not still shocked by things. It just looks different. And, I can't even articulate it, really. I can, however, tell you what I have realized about myself and how I know in myself that culture shock still happens.
One day I can have full conversations with people in Khmer. The next day I cannot understand simple questions and phrases I have known for months.
I call a friend while standing in the aisle at the "Western" grocery store because there is a new flavor of pop-tarts. (I don't like pop-tarts, and I would never pay upwards of $5 for a box of them...but they are familiar.)
Sometimes all I want to do is sleep, but I can't...
After eating rice nearly every day for weeks (which I do like!), all I want to do is eat bread, bread, and more bread!

I am not sure that culture shock ever fully goes away, but it changes. I am aware that I feel it, but most days it isn't a big deal. And, on days when I really feel it, I go buy a loaf of bread, a diet coke, and watch a few episodes of The Office.

And, through it all, God is there.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


"Did you ever imagine that your life would come to sitting on the dirty ground at the base of a Buddhist temple next to a puddle of urine?"
This was the question posed to me yesterday by one of my teammates as we sat amongst a group of children reviewing good manners and how God created the world.
And, the answer is no. I don't think I ever imagined that this would be a normal part of my life. I am not sure I knew what "normal" life would be for me.
There have always been (and still are) a myriad of things that I have wanted to do and hoped to do. But, at the heart of it, I really just want to love people, to really know them and experience life with them. I want to share life with them. I want to share Jesus with them.
Isn't that what life is about?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I live in a palace.
At least I think I do. My roommate and I moved in mid-December to a new apartment. We basically had one day where we could look for a place, and we found it. Home. We moved into a two bedroom, furnished apartment. We both knew the place we were living before was temporary, and so it was ok to go without a bed (we had foam mattresses on a tile floor), without any hot water, without a washing machine, without any real furniture to speak of. It was fine. And, then we moved into our palace.
Here is the tour. Our front door.
Our living room as you stand in our front door.
The other side of the living room.
The kitchen as seen from the long hallway that our bedrooms are off of. You can see our dining table and chairs and our cabinet for dishes.
Kitchen counter, gas stove, and DOUBLE sink (these are rare here!). (Also, you can kind of see the door open behind the window. There is a balcony all the way around, and a bathroom is located outside with the washing machine. We hang our clothes to dry on racks out there as well.)
The rest of the kitchen--"pantry," bottled water, refrigerator, and oven.
This is my bedroom.
And my bedroom from the other direction.
And my bathroom.
The rest of my bathroom with the plastic drawers.
The layout of Ruthie's bedroom and bathroom is a mirror image of mine.

And, this is the view from the front of our balcony.
I realize that for most of you reading this, it looks less than palatial. You may look at it and think that it looks bare or wonder at the fact that all the windows have bars. But, I realize every day how incredibly blessed I am as I come home to my palace.