Wednesday, September 21, 2011

eyes to see

I want to have eyes to see. I have prayed to have eyes to see. To see people. To see needs. To see truth. To see justice. To see beauty. To see pain. To see love.
And, I know that God has heard my prayer.

I am blessed. I know this. I don't doubt it. Sure, I have "suffered" at different times in my life, but God is faithful. I can push through difficult times and endure suffering because I am confident of God's goodness. I want to be like Paul when he says, "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Philippians 4:11-12). Contentedness is something I feel I maintain most of the time. My feathers just don't get ruffled about too many things. Traffic jams? No big's good to slow down sometimes. Ants in my cereal? Just stick it in the fridge...they'll die. Sweating through my clothes for the 6th time in a single day? At least I have a shower with running water.
But, there is one thing that really stirs me up, one thing that really grinds my gears. It makes my blood pressure rise. It makes my palms sweaty. It might even make steam come out of my ears. I get incredibly upset when I see others suffering unjust treatment. It has bothered me for as long as I can remember. As an elementary school student, I remember being confused and upset when teachers treated other students poorly. Teachers tended to like me because I listened and obeyed well, always finished my homework on time and correctly, and was willing to help others. So, I don't ever remember being treated badly by a teacher. I do, however, remember other students being called inappropriate names, having their desks taken away from them (and given a cardboard box to put their schoolbooks and supplies in while they sat on the floor), being accused of cheating without any grounds, and being humiliated in front of their classmates for asking questions.
Those things upset me then. I remember praying for a long time that God would heap other people's pain on me, that I could take it, that they should not have to suffer, that I would still trust Him regardless of what happened to me.
I think that I had hoped that maybe as I grew older, I would find more justice in the world, that my eyes would see more joy and less pain.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I do see joy. I see it everyday. I feel it everyday. But, I also encounter injustice. People are still called inappropriate, shameful names. People have their homes ripped away from them. (Check out this link.) People are still accused of things they did not do. People are still publicly humiliated. People still stuffer unjustly. And, it still upsets me. Every. Single. Day.

O, LORD, may I always have eyes to see people as You see them...and a heart to love them as You love them...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

inside out

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." ~ Ezra Taft Benson

God changes hearts. He just does. I am living proof of this. He gave me a heart of flesh for my heart of stone. That is how He works. He starts on the inside and moves outward.
Romans 10: 9-10 says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved."
Heart. That is where change happens, where belief happens. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been thinking about how Jesus lived and interacted with people, about how He chose to help. And, I have wondered what Jesus would do now, what Jesus would do when faced with the things I see before me. Jesus does not fit into a nice little box. He cannot be pegged. He cannot be generalized. Why? I think it is because He saw people. He saw people from the inside out. He did not see lepers and thieves and prostitutes and officials. He saw hearts. When Jesus saves, He doesn't take people out of the sin. Rather, He takes the sin out of the people. There is a difference.
When you take people out of the sin, nothing happens on the inside of them. They just learn to live in a trouble-free bubble...if such a thing existed. But, when you take the sin out of the people, their hearts are changed. They see the world differently. Just ask Zacchaeus.
"Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name, "Zacchaeus!" He said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today." Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!" Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost." ~ Luke 19:1-10

Zacchaeus was changed from the inside out. His heart changed first. He had an encounter with the Savior of the world, and He was forever changed. Jesus never asked him to give money away or make amends with those he cheated. Jesus didn't have to ask. Jesus cares about our hearts, and when our hearts are after Him, our outside reflects that. Jesus is far more interested in taking the slums out of people because then the people will walk right out of the slums.

"The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7b

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Today is September 14. And, as I looked at the date this morning, I remembered.
I remembered an amazing woman.
My Great Grandma Lola was born on September 14, 1904. And, I am confident that the world changed for the better on that day.
She lived the most extraordinary life doing maybe some of the most ordinary things--playing sheet music at the local dimestore, learning to drive her father's car at the age of 14, raising 2 children and gaining 5 more, crocheting and giving away more afghans than should be humanly possible, loving grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.
I have great memories with her. I remember dancing to old records in my grandparents' family room. I remember staring into a painting of a lake together and imagining stories of mermaids and friendly sea monsters.
I remember sitting next to her on the porch swing at her old house on Lynn Avenue, looking at the flowers and listening to her stories.
I remember where the secret candy drawer was. I remember her wall of cards and family pictures. I remember never being able to sneak out the door without a hug and a kiss.
I remember watching her live with a deep love of people. I remember that she never met a stranger.
She left a legacy. She had such an amazing impact on so many people, and I know that her influence on me has helped to shape me into the person I am now. I have had people compare me with her before, saying that we are similar in some ways, and that is one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive. I sincerely hope that I am able to love and to influence as she did. I count it such an honor to have such a wonderful woman of God as my great grandmother, and I hope that someday I am able to leave a legacy behind that will honor her and, more importantly, honor our God.

I want to leave a legacy
how will they remember me?
did I choose to love?
did I point to you enough to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
a child of mercy and grace who
blessed Your name unapologetically
and leave that kind of legacy
~ nichole nordeman, "legacy"

Monday, September 12, 2011


Cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream.
Desserts are, uh, a bit different in Cambodia.
On Saturday I went to see a movie with a Khmer friend.
*Side note: Cambodia just got its first movie theater in July--a real movie theater with cushy seats and popcorn and non-pirated movies.
Ok, back to the story. After my friend and I watched Cars 2 in 3-D, we decided we should have a snack. As we wandered through the "mall food court" (it does not look anything like what you are picturing), she pointed to a stall and asked if I had ever had those. Now, I knew they were supposed to be desserts. And, I was not entirely sure what they were or what constituted the dark syrupy stuff over them. But, I had a a pretty good hunch that there were potatoes. Yes, potatoes. (I forgot to take my camera, so you will just have to imagine with me for now.)
My friend assured me that I was correct. And, she proceeded to buy a plate of a mixture of 4 different desserts, including two different types of potato, taro, and some banana, all with different syrups and coconut on top.
I will be honest. While one might think the banana would be the tastiest to the American palate, I think it was my least favorite. The potatoes were yummy!!! There was one that was served kind of caramelized. It was delicious!
So, I may have been converted into thinking that potatoes can be a good choice for dessert, but I am not sure I will ever voluntarily choose the ever-popular coconut milk "pudding" with corn, mushrooms, and other unique choices for my after-dinner delight.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Sometimes I feel like this is a good word to describe my life.
Side by side. This is how things go. My personal space bubble has grown much smaller since living in Asia. Many things are just close together, sometimes very close together. I remember the first time I realized that it was not in the least bit awkward to scoot myself up against a strange man who was driving a motorbike taxi so that my friend could squeeze on behind me without her rear end completely hanging off the back of the seat. I stand closer to people in lines now because I have learned that if you leave even the slightest gap that someone will cut in front of you. I have grown accustomed to touching the people sitting on either side of me at church, despite the fact that we have separate chairs. Yes, side by side is a normal thing to me.

But, sometimes side by side is not so comfortable. Sometimes side by side is never something that you get used to. Sometimes side by side reveals only contrast. Sometimes side by side is a barefoot child trying to sell flowers to the driver of a Lexus at a stoplight. Sometimes side by side is a family living in a fishing boat next to a new eco-resort. Sometimes side by side is a woman finding treasures in my garbage.
Sometimes side by side is floating wooden houses just a couple miles from artistic latte pours.
Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of juxtaposition. Sometimes I wonder if He intentionally places contrasting things side by side. Why? Maybe so we can see the ridiculousness of the grandiose. Maybe so we can be appalled by the injustices. Maybe so we just stop and remember that regardless of our differences or preferences we are living side by side.