Friday, April 5, 2013


We make bracelets now. Well, we don't. They do.

They look like this:

And you can get them here (feel free to ask if you have more questions about Blessed Hope):

Sometimes the tiny beads make my head hurt. And sometimes trying to bridge the gap between two opposite cultures, neither of which I fully understand, makes my head hurt a little more.

But it's beautiful. For a thousand reasons, it's beautiful. Many of the reasons are shown only by a squeeze on the knee or trading smiles over a cup of milk tea. And I often find myself anxious for heaven where there won't be any language barriers, where I will easily be able to sit and talk to my friends. And I already plan on blocking out a chunk of eternity for some of them.

The distributers of our bracelets want our women's stories. So we've been tasked with the assignment to write their bios. I promise you, I've never been more thankful for an assignment in all my life. Each story grabs a piece of my heart, and I wish I could tell every one because I'm convinced that knowing these women can only make a person better.

They have stories like this:

My sweet friend, Sijok, was raised in the village and moved to Kathmandu when she was around 20. When she got here, her older brother was already living in the city and had started going to a Christian church. She decided to go with him, and shortly after became a believer. They began praying for the rest of their family, and over the last seven years, all four of her siblings and her mom, who had been an alcoholic, have come to have a relationship wiht Christ! I love seeing the way our Father is faithful in families.

Sijok passionately feels that she is called to move back to the village and share the Gospel with her people, but right now she knows that God has her in the city for a reason. She says that she is just waiting for God to tell her when to go and she'll be there.

It's amazing really, how alike stories are no matter where you go, isn't it?

Her older brother, the one who first took her to church, has been in jail for almost a year now for killing a cow. Since cows are sacred in the Hindu faith, it's illegal to kill one. He could face up to 11 more years. One reason that Sijok believes she's supposed to be in the city is to help take care of her sister-in-law and their children. So she works for our cookie business and is a manager of Bless Hopeed and helps provide for them.

My favorite story of Blessed Hope thus far is the one of these bracelets.

Sijok decided to take some beads and string and a crochet hook to the jail last time she visited her brother. And she taught him how to crochet the bracelets. When she brought them in and told us who made them, I almost lost it. My heart was so full. We knew the story of her brother, and we had been praying for him, so to learn that by making bracelets, he had found a way to support his family while he's in jail was incredible.

Each week she goes back and delivers more beads and teaches him a new pattern, and each week, his bracelets are some of the best ones we get. I love it.

His hearing to determine whether he will be released or sentenced longer is in one week. It is impossible to predict what will happen because the cows don't really belong to anyone and just kind of wander the city, so the decision will be strictly political. The family and church know that God is in control of the situation, but I wanted to ask you to join us in prayer over our brother. It is a hard burden for their family, as you can imagine, but I promised Sijok that I would ask people in America to be praying with us this next week, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'll take the DMV, thanks.

I'm always saying that I can't describe my life here, and I really can't. There's nothing I can think tell you to compare it to at home. But I can't resist attempting to at least try to paint you a picture of my day today because it is the perfect example life in Nepal. I want to preface this by saying that I love this country.

And I love these people. And I love my life. I don't, however, love running errands in Nepal.

So here goes. Background: Leah and I have been in the process of getting a student visa for a couple of months now. We turned in our paper work last week to the Ministry of Education with the man promising to call in two days(mmmhmmmm...). When we hadn't heard from them after 4 days, we spent about 2 hours yesterday morning searching the internet for the phone number of a government building with zero luck. Sidenote: this process also included me running downstairs in my PJ's to find a Nepali to translate an automated recording from one of the dead end phone numbers. After admitting defeat, we decided to get up and go there again this morning.

This brings me to today. Oh what a day. The following is an approximate timeline:

8:40 Catch a taxi from our apt to the Ministry of Education.
9:10 Arrive at the Ministry of Education-only to find out that there are apparently two, so we convince our sweet driver in broken Nepali/English to take us to the correct one.
9:20 Arrive at the second Ministry of Education-only for the guards to tell us that it doesn't open until 11. Again, this is a government building, why would it open before 11?
9:30 Walk down the road to find a cup of coffee and read (we were prepared).
10:50 Pay for our coffee and walk back to the Ministry of Ed.
11:00 Find the building and navigate ourselves to the correct office using this:

11:15 Pick up our completed paperwork and start walking to the immigration office, which we were instructed was "estraight."
11:25 Come to a fork in the road. Ask a Nepali where immigration was. He gives us directions..
11:26 A white man across the crazy busy road flags us down, runs across the street, tells us the Nepali man's directions were wrong and points us in the right direction of the immigration office(how he interpreted our conversation, I will never know).
11:35 Arrive at immigration...for the first time.
11:50 We are directed to three different offices before we finally get to the right one, where the man tells us we need a bank statement-we ask, "Is that all?" He looks at our paperwork and says, "Yes, that is all."
11:55 Get directions from the Nepali guard out front to the nearest branch for our bank. Take off walking.
11:07 Realize there is no bank.
11:08 Asked another Nepali...then interrupted by a second...then third Nepali-we repeatedly explain what we're looking for, they discuss our plight in Nepali and come to a consensus of what we should do.
11:15 Flag down a taxi, and,on faith,tell the driver where our new friends told us to go
11:40 Arrive at the bank, miraculously.
11:40-12:30 Yes, an hour. First, we were directed to the wrong line and waited 30 minutes. Finally got to the right window-where they told us we couldn't get a copy because we signed up for e-statements. Eventually, we talked them into printing it for a fee of about $1.70. During this time, I caught myself absentmindedly doodling, "USA" on things.
12:35 Flagged down a taxi. Ate a granola bar.
1:00 Arrived to immigration for the second time.
1:15 Got back to the office and to the front of the line.
1:16 The same man told us we needed a copy of our passport and visa and to go next door to get it.
1:17 Slightly frustrated, we go next door. Next door tells us no-go across the street.
1:25 Across the street tells us there's no power-walk down the road.
1:40 After walking in to approximately 6 shops, we finally find a place to copy our passports.
2:00 Arrive back to the immigration office for the third time. The man, he signs our paper and sends us to the next office.
2:05 We are near the front of the line, and they bring in food for the workers, and send everyone to the lobby for 30 minutes while they eat.
2:35 Go back in. Give the man our documents. He looks at them and tells us to come back tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

6 hours.

I will never ever ever ever complain about the DMV again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rooftop Restaurants and Subtle Reminders

The other morning I set my alarm earlier than normal and dragged myself out of my warm bed, got all bundled up, grabbed my bible and journal and set off to have breakfast at a rooftop restaurant around the stupa. I did this quite a bit when we first got to Nepal, but as schedules filled and temperatures dropped, I had let quite a bit of time pass since I had last done this. Laura left us an envelope full of letters when she left, and she suggested this one particular restaurant that I hadn't been to have breakfast and pray over the people and country, so I went.

The few days before this I had found myself in a bit of a funk, for no real reason. I could find excuses and explanations, but mainly I just kept thinking, "I should be home for that."

Daniel hit a half-court shot at the buzzer; I should be there yelling louder than anyone else.
Katie gets a new boyfriend; I should be there to make sure he's good enough.
Jon gets a promotion; I should be there to take him to dinner to celebrate.
My grandma's sister passed away; I should be there holding her hand.

Isn't it frustrating how just when we think we have something under control, Satan comes up with an entirely new way to lie to us?

But as I made my way to the rooftop, the view that early morning made my hands tremble and my heart pound. As I looked down from there, I could see the hundreds of people circling the stupa in their futile attempt to earn karma and repeating prostration after prostration, and I could see the smoke from the incense wafting through the air, and for the first time in a few months I could literally feel the hopelessness.

And as I sat there and began pouring prayers out over these people, it was as if there was suddenly a very clear line that separated what matters at this point in my life and what really doesn’t matter at all.

Jesus himself said, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” And if the dead can bury their own dead, then all of those things that I think I should be there for can surely carry on just fine without me.

And none of this was God telling me that my family or home wasn’t important, not at all. He created the family. Scripture is clear the value that should be placed on building a Godly home and honoring Christ through that, and that made the message of this morning even more powerful. It was so very clear to me that as much as He loves the family, the fight for the souls of these people far outweigh anything I am missing out on at home right now. And with that again came the peace that I am exactly where I should be.

So today I am thankful for God's goodness, even when my heart lousy.
I'm thankful He's holy, even when I'm sinful.
And I'm thankful that He's faithful, even when I play the part of a harlot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Divine appointments must bring our Father so much pleasure.

We have been in Nepal exactly twelve days. My supervisor has said so many times, "You just can't explain this place." And I really can't. It's such a strange mix of beauty and dirt-joy and darkness.

And my heart is so glad here.

Tonight was one of the greatest nights of my life. And I don't say that lightly. Laura, Leah, and I were walking up the stairs in our hotel, and two complete strangers walked up to our room and started conversation with us. We had never met them, but they said when we walked in they knew we were part of the family and wanted to encourage us. Within ten minutes of meeting this sweet brother and sister in Christ, they were praying over us the exact things all of our hearts needed. It was as if the Holy Spirit was pouring out of them and directly into us.

And if the night would have ended there, that one sweet moment would have been more than enough and more than we'd hoped for, but God must have felt like showing off tonight.

Somehow over the next hour, three different, separate groups of believers found their way to our room, along with a guitar and djembe, and sweet, precious worship to our King was lifted up for the next few hours.

We were all in this city for one night at the same time. And the Lord brought us together to share our stories, offer our praise, read scripture over each other and shed tears for the lost with complete strangers, that were family.

And God brought us together for "such a time as this." What an incredible,undeserving gift!

Yesterday I was reading in 2 Chronicles, and the first five chapters is a detailed explanation of Solomon building the temple of the Lord. And it's stunning. It was elaborate and massive and unlike anything the earth had ever seen before. And when they go to bring the ark of the covenant into the temple, there's praise from Israel like nothing that has ever been seen or heard before! (Seriously, it's beautiful; go read it!) There are sacrifices being offered up-so many, it can't be recorded, and there are cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpeters-and all of them are "joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord...He is good; His love endures forever" (5:13) Then get this,

"The temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God."

I don't know about you, but when I read this, my heart was completely overwhelmed. Read it and really picture it unfolding. There are 120 priests here, and this cloud-a literal cloud-comes down from heaven and stops them from performing their service because the glory of the Lord! I mean, our God is an entirely unique and powerful God!

And in my prayer journal yesterday, I wrote about how I wish I could have been there for that! How, out of ALL time, THAT moment had to be one of the sweetest for Him-top notch, is actually what I said.

And then tonight as twelve complete American strangers were gathered in a small hotel room in Nepal, God so clearly, sweetly whispered to all of me, "THIS is top notch."

"He is most glorified in us when we are most delighted in Him." Piper

And I don't know that I've ever felt more delighted than tonight.

"Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy in his dwelling place."

Chronicles 16:23-27

What happened tonight shouldn't have happened where we're living-a five minute walk from the second largest Buddhist stuppa in the world, yet God knew that each of us, either coming or going, needed tonight.

Praise God for sweet gifts of divine appointments.

I'm going to leave you with a video-this song has broken me this past week. I pray it does the same for you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stuck in the Unimportant

Sometimes I get this sinking feeling that we're a world full of people who are largely stuck in the umimportant.

And I find myself playing two roles. One is perfectly at home in the oblivious majority of people. I am vaguely aware of the absence of something meaningul, but am too buried to bother to look beyond myself and realize the bigness in the purpose of creation...this role of myself thrives in the unimportant.

But then there is another part of me that is sometimes awoken. It's the part of me that seems to be standing in the middle of some crazy busy place-where thousands of people pass every minute-a street or subway, perhaps, and I'm frozen. Completely and utterly frozen. I know I've had a glimpse of what they don't. And so I try to say something to one person, but it's ignored, almost as though I'm not even here. As if I haven't been standing and watching for all my life. So I start to scream with such passion that I know it can't be from me, "What are you DOING?"

But I'm in a vaccuum. No ones seems to hear.

And the urgency picks up. I can feel the weight of the unknown impending doom we're heading towards, but I'm unprepared to fight it. So I kick and scream all the louder because I just can't let person after person pass by, but I do and they are...more and more and more, and I'm helpless.

But I can't stop.

And I don't want to be stuck in a world of unimportant.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Miles and Days and Years

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment is a struggle for me. Sometimes daily.

It feels like running a track for miles and days and years, all the while never knowing that there are oceans and mountains and rivers and forests to run through. Although, this isn't a problem if you've never ran through a forest, but once you have, a track will never be enough.

And so I find myself in this constant battle of repeating said verse and pinning things like this:

And this may not seem like a big deal, but it starts to penetrate and makes me question what I'm doing with my life...even when I'm perfectly fine. But is perfectly fine what we're here for? And when did life become about my adventure? I am completely confident that if I tried to control my life based on what my idea of adventure, I'd lead a very empty and meaningless life.

But that doesn't change the fact that this idea of pursuing our happiness and our truth is everywhere and draws me in often. And makes it seem like this life I've been given isn't enoough...and I find myself unable to muster any contentment and get mopey comparing my life to others.

This far from godly contentment.

But on the other hand, discontentment isn't always negative. It extends outside of comfort zones. It opposes indifference. It provides excitement. It confirms we're alive and are made for something bigger.

But then again...

I'm an extrovert. For better or worse.

This means that when I'm alone for more than an hour, I get a little stir crazy. I like people. I feel connected, and connectedness is something that I need to feel complete. And I'm better than I used to be, but sometimes, oh, sometimes, being alone triggers an onslaught of overwhelming, suffocating lies that try to consume me.

I'm not enough.
I'm too much.
I should be more...less...further along...somewhere else entirely.

And this type of discontent is when I find myself repeating 1 Timothy 6:6. And this is when I get away to beg God to quiet my insecuries with his peace and reassurance that I'm exactly where he wants me.

And he always does.

And I'm reminded of the truth that so often our strengths are often our biggest weaknesses.

Maybe this is God's way of keeping us humble.

Maybe this is His way of breaking us to teach us this is His story, but He chose us to play an important part.

And maybe this time in my life is to prepare me for something else..something different, and this is His way of showing me the value of being patience, all the while reminding me softly, "Godliness with contentment is of great gain."

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the sun..."

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." — C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 5, 2011


I get in the mood to write often. It’s provoked by a lot of different things. Most of which never end up here…I never know if I'll post it when I start.

I write when I feel. And I feel a lot.

I just left a movie in which the only purpose had to be to further cripple any sense of morality in Americans because, as far as I could tell, it was a long cry from being entertaining.

And as I was driving home, somewhat annoyed, I was listening to the radio and I heard this mixed in with the news,
“Over 29,500 children under the age of five have now died because of the famine in Africa.”

There doesn't seem to be enough air in the car. And I’m struck dumb in my naivety. How is this possible? How do we live in a world where this is happening..? How does my heart even begin to process, let alone understand, this?

And then I remember,
“Do you want a box for that?”
“No…it would make my car smell, and I probably wouldn’t eat it anyway.”

There’s too much not right. And nights like this I realize why it’s so difficult for me to research Literature from Russia or make lesson plans emphasizing literary devices. Because how can I teach something that seems so insignificant in terms of eternity? How do I connect the two?

And when it comes down to it, sometimes I catch myself wondering, "What am I doing? Really."

My heart hurts tonight. That’s why I write.
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