Kenya Here I Come

This is something I wrote for the Maisha blog. You can keep up with me every day in Kenya at
As a mother of a 3 year old, 2 year old and 1 year old, you would think Africa was the last thing on my mind- and many days, that is the truth. Its funny how motherhood, such an ultimate calling, alters our lives in so many ways. Even when a motherly bond is formed between a woman and someone who needs her, that woman is never the same. In the midst of the chaos and joy in the 4 years since I started having my own children, I began to wonder how I would ever serve in missions, which is what I felt was my true calling. In March of 2009 my husband had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with a medical mission team. I lived through his fundraising and preparations vicariously but the reality was that he was going and I was not. I was 3 months pregnant with our 3rd child and my girls, aged 2 and 9 months, were both sick. I would have liked to say I spent that week interceding for my husband and the team he was on, but the reality is I was cleaning up after two sick kids and just trying to make it through each day without the much missed help from my husband. It was at this point that I stopped romanticizing the call to missions. For those of us who long to serve internationally, it can be heartbreaking to feel immobile. However the reality is that when we are called, God makes a way. When my husband returned from Ecuador, I began to question my call to missions. I searched desperately for what God was calling me to do. I half-heartedly volunteered for various ministries and focused most of my prayers on begging the Lord to reveal my purpose in life. In hindsight this is almost comical if it wasn’t so tragic. The tragedy was not God’s silence, but the degree to which I neglected to listen to what He was saying. Thankfully, God is the source of patience, understanding, love and wisdom. Through more than a year of pursuing my heart and providing me with a lot of loving guidance, the Lord has not only affirmed my purposes but completely changed the way I view my relationship with Him and the way I view my multifaceted calling. In 6 days I’ll be in Kenya. In 6 days I’ll be in Kenya exactly when the Lord intended me to be there, and by His grace, I’ll be there to offer things that I could not have offered until now. In 6 days, my children will miss me but they will remember the Christmas gift they gave to orphans by sharing their mommy and their things with children who have neither of those. In 6 days, God will break my heart for His children at Maisha International Orphanage in a way that only a mother’s heart can break. As Americans we sometimes get this twisted idea that what we have to offer in international missions is the kind of modern Christianity that only we can bring, but as I go to Kenya I fully expect to receive the type of Christianity that only God can bring.

God Is Big

Have you ever felt like a speck? I mean really insignificant. I am taking astronomy this fall and let me tell you - it is amazing what God has created. Studying how completely tiny and brief I am has revealed a lot to me about God. And if anything, it has shown me how much He loves me. So how did I get from insignificant to loved? Well, when you take into account that insane magnitude of the universe, the ridiculous odds of life even existing and how this is so fully and obviously God actively creating us, it amazes me that the God of the universe goes to such lengths to pursue my heart, bring me joy, and heal my wounds. He is so cosmically amazing and unfathomable and yet so personal and intimate all at once.

When I think about my upcoming mission trip and try to imagine the experience, I am so grateful that I will get to be a part of offering a fragment of hope, of faith, of life. I reflect on the hundreds of people who have done that in my own life and again I am amazed at this orchestrated symphony of love and relationship that God conducts. Even through the deserts, the dead spaces, the valleys...I was being taught something, shown something and because of those instances, my experiences of being flooded with love and blessings, feeling so alive and on top of the world were enhanced. The magnitude of God's goodness being slowly revealed. If I have the opportunity to share a drink, a meal, a story, a song, and life-even if only for a moment- I hope it becomes a moment that someone else begins to feel the overwhelming goodness of the Creator of the universe.

Please pray for this trip...and for each of my days...that I be a bearer of the cup of Living Water, overflowing with mercy and grace and love.


Someone prayed for me.... it was felt.


Sometimes, I wish I were superwoman. I'm pretty sure this is a relatively normal aspiration. With so much on my plate I think I am giving about 75% in each area which equates to a sub par performance on every level. It is one of those days that I am seriously considering waking up at an absurd hour to clean my house so that I feel productive...I'll be sure to let you know if that happens. The real kicker is that even when I want to be better at my life, I seem to to do worse at it. I am not trying to create sympathy here...I am not sympathetic to apathy and laziness. I guess I am just writing it out in hopes of deciphering a root cause. At this point the conclusion is simply that I am lazy and apathetic...something that I hope to change somehow very soon. I have other theories but they really don't even merit a mention because I haven't been able to filter out the ones that are just excuses for my behavior. In the meantime, prayers are greatly appreciated as the one solid conclusion I have is that I am nothing and can do nothing without Him who gives me strength. Cliche? Take it or leave it.

Phi Theta Kappa

Tonight I had the opportunity to be inducted into the community college honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. It was such an honor. I really want to be excellent in what I do, whether that is as a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother, a friend, a writer or a student. Being recognized for one's effort and hard work is such a blessing that doesn't happen enough for all the amazing people I know, so being recognized for academic excellence was a special blessing for me. Not for one second can I take credit for it though! At any point that I excel at anything it is because of the grace of God on my life and the amazing people that are in it. My husband has been studying and working endlessly on his degree to become a Physician Assistant, he happily and graciously encouraged me to go back to school this year and finish my associates degree- never once complaining about the dinners he would have to make and the sacrifice of time that he would give from his own studies to help me succeed. He sat and listened to dozens of papers, poems and frustrations from me and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. My mother and other mother (Aldo's mom) have been pillars of encouragement and constantly stepped in, no matter the inconvenience for them, to facilitate my success in everything I try to do. Not to mention the friends and professors who have consistently been positive and encouraged me to keep writing and pursuing what I love. Anyway, I guess I am just reflecting on how blessed my life has been for me to even manage a level of excellence that gets recognition. Thank you to those that have encouraged me and gone out of your way to help me do what I love.

Maisha Means Life

Gah- it has been so long since I posted..I kind of slacked when I started The Ground At My Feet( I have just been super busy! I have been processing so much lately too. Something that you have probably seen me post a billion times on facebook has to do with Maisha International Orphanage. ( I am so excited to go on this trip and experience Maisha and Kenya. Choosing to go on this trip came with a lot of prayer and conversation, after all Aldo is finishing up school, preparing for boards, we have 3 small children and certainly finances are tight. All of these things led me to logically (and incorrectly) rule out going on the trip initially. It soon became very evident that this trip was something God wanted me to be a part of. Once Aldo and I had made the decision that I would go I had the task of explaining to Arielle, age 3, Leilani, age 2, and Loic, only 1, where I was going and why I was going and how that affected them. Okay so where was not too hard! My kids can point out Africa on a map and we talk about it and watch clips about Africa on a pretty regular basis. I then explained that at Maisha there were a lot of children whose mommy and daddy had died from a terrible disease called AIDS. So I asked them if they would be willing to share their mommy with the kids at Maisha for Christmas. Arielle and Leilani thought that was a great idea, even if it meant that I couldn't be with them for a couple weeks. Arielle immediately insisted that she give some of her toys and clothes to the kids- WOW! She is THREE and that was an idea all her own! She inspired me to pack clothes that I will wear during the trip and leave in Kenya as well as putting as much toys and clothing in the remainder of my suitcases as I can. There is something about watching your own child grasp the concept of sacrifice and giving that changes you a little bit, at least for me. I still get tears in my eyes just thinking about her reaction about my going on this trip. I just pray that I grasp sacrifice in the deepest sense possible because I know that it is something that sets me deeply in touch with who Jesus is and what He died for.

New Blog!

Well I did, at last, decide to publish a new blog featuring my poetry and writing.
Check it out and follow me if it interests you! I will still be posting over here about my life and other personal adventures and revelations, but over at The Ground At My Feet you will find new posts almost every day!  Thanks for being interested in anything I have had to say!


Ah poetry.  Little can be said better than through the words of the poet.  Having the opportunity to focus on poetry for a whole semester (and get a grade for it!) has left me stumbling happily between Kinnell, Poe, Basho, Plath and Ginsberg among others.  Probably the most fantastic aspect of this class however, is exploring those graphic images of my memory, sucking out the emotions and meaningful moments, good and bad and undecided, to create something that is more than just writing.  A major assignment this semester will be my portfolio.  Although I won't share all my poetry via the blogosphere, there are times that I think I will, like today.  I may even eventually create a new blog just for my poetry - stay tuned for that - I'm still not sure about it.  In any case, the following narrative (and un-rhyming!) poem is one that I wanted to share.  I wrote it for an assignment as my attempt at narrative poetry. I'll let the poem do the talking.  Feel free to comment or question.

Eesti Vabariik (The Republic of Estonia)
by Megan Dinan

My eyes vacation on idyllic images of Tallin
Pressing on my retinas-
St Olav’s Spire piercing an empty Baltic sky,
St Catherine’s Passage full of those verified talents
And cobble stones unevenly pave the way to
Churches for St Mary, St Michael, St John,
St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna, and two for St Nicholas.
The Holy Spirit Church’s clock indicates the time
I board the train to Keila.

My eyes sift through the rummage
Of over-occupation,
The remains of 90,000 german-murdered,
Innocent citizens unable to speak but managing
To visit through the blur of the train passing by.
Concrete ghosts stand gaping like dead men,
Remnants of crumbling communism-
In effigy of Stalin.

I step off the train onto rickety platforms,
Driven in an old car to the pretty, quiet camp.
I read a verse from my Estonian bible and
The empty hearts of Estonian youth drink
This spirituality from a cold river of relationship
Where western tourists believe that they have brought
The beginning of religion to a freshly democratic fairy tale.
Sorry for the absence!  What a crazy month August has been.  I really enjoyed my intersession government class and this week began my last 3 classes for my AAS!  I know that so often I downplay how important this is to me.  Despite its paltry standing next to Aldo's soon to be completed Masters in Medicine, this little Associates degree has a lengthy history and intimate importance for me. 

An interesting thought that has been cultivating in my mind since l began classes in the spring is that I really enjoy learning.  I think this is a developed interest.  There were so many layers of seemingly unrelated issues that proceeded this degree completion.  I won't go into all of that, but now that I am where I am with my education, I am so very satisfied with everything and relishing the knowledge being dished out.  Being able to take a class geared more towards my ultimate interest in writing just brings me such deep joy.  Being challenged on a creative level satiates some part of my being and I am beginning to realize how completely designed I am.  This realization makes me happy. Thank you Jesus for DESIGNING me.  We are not some haphazard, post-thought to creation... just think about how intricately designed you are and rejoice in the God who created you to be you.


Life has been crazy lately!  I officially began fall classes with an interim government class that is every night from 5-10 pm for two weeks.  I am thoroughly enjoying the class and thoroughly NOT enjoying being absent from home during the time of day that we all get to be together.  However the long traffic-filled drives to school have given me a lot of time to think...which I don't do enough.  I have plenty to think about but lately my mind has been swirling around the ultimate purpose of my life and what does that really look like?

For a long time I have wanted to serve in missions.  As I became an adult the ultimate purpose for my life became an ever present question.  It's true that Aldo and I really felt called to missions as individuals and that shared calling is probably one of the biggest reasons we ultimately pursued a relationship to one another.  As life happened, we drifted in and out of commitment to that calling.  Early this year, while we ate out for our SIXTH anniversary we had a very gritty conversation about where we were going to let life take us.  And, as it has happened many time before, we came back to the same conclusion that God was calling us to be missional.  Now I understand that being missional really should be incorporated into the daily life of every Christian, but just as some are called as teachers, or pastors, or worshippers, there is a more specific element to a missional calling as well.

As we prepare for Aldo's graduation in December we suddenly are being jilted out of the complacency that has accompanied the predictability of a school schedule.  We are also faced with the decision of how to take the opportunities in front of us, and live on purpose towards our calling.  Today in particular I have felt cloaked in normalcy.  Hear me right on this because I am not talking about there being anything wrong with living normally.

I often wonder what happens next, and although I have much improved my ability to focus on living in the present, there are days that I sit around and feel as though I am pulling on God's sleeve like a little child asking "Are we there yet?"  I thoroughly enjoy living in my day to day and pursuing being the mother and wife that God is molding me to, but then there are those days....

I sometimes imagine being in Africa among trees and wildlife, watching my children play with their african friends, but what strikes me about these fantasies is that I am never doing anything.  It is then that I jump on the computer and devour college websites trying to think of how best to educate myself so that at the right moment I have something to "do" that will change someone's life and then all of a sudden... like today....

I realize that the only thing that I will "do" that will change anyone's life, including my own, is to do nothing.  I have to be that person who is willing to be molded and shaped into someone who will truly let God "do".  I cannot do anything outside of what He has planned for my life that will make me more effective as an image bearer of Christ.  So tonight, I am just sitting here, hoping that I am not "doing" anything, so that I can soak up what God is whispering to my that I know His heart, so that I reflect it.


I have always been interested in creating things.  I am not "crafty" but I certainly do try!  In fact, it is the process of creating that refreshes my spirit and when I finish something and think "it is good", there is such a feeling of joy.  As I began to focus more on my craft projects and art the last few weeks I was challenged by my husband.  He questioned my passionate desire to do my little projects (admittedly I sometimes get carried away...).  As we resolved our feelings concerning my "projects" I began to wonder exactly what it was about my projects that meant so much to me.

It was then that I realized, as God so often does with me, that this simple pleasure in my life ultimately pointed to my nature as a child of God.  He is, after all, the ultimate Creator.  Every thing that inspires me to create originates in His creativity.  Every fabric print, every shiny snip of ribbon, every image of nature, every smile on my children's faces, every sunset, every poem... even when the work of someone else inspires me...they were created by God and their work was undoubtedly inspired by some movement of God's design.  When I am filled with joy and a sense of accomplishment at a finished project, I must be sharing in a small part of what God felt when He finished the creation of the universe and world.  What an absolute honor that God allows us to share in this!

Not only can we share in this, but we are His creation, and He does look at each and every one of us and say "It is good"!  So whether or not you enjoy creating things, rejoice in the fact that you are a creation by the ultimate Creator, and He loves you.

(Please note that I have now included a link to my etsy shop online with my items for sale.  A portion of these sales will be the foundation of our fundraising for future missions as well as 10% going to our church, Frontline.  This is an exciting new venture for me and I am sure I will be sharing more of it with you in future posts!)

He Brings Me Flowers

Okay, I know I just posted yesterday but I really wanted to share what I was feeling today, especially as I woman to other women.

Yesterday was date night for Aldo and I.  I love date night - time away to have conversation, stare at each other and eat good food uninterrupted!  Well when Aldo got home from work he had a beautiful vase full of flowers and a very touching, personal card.  Now, I do not get flowers often, maybe once or twice year - and always for a specific occasion, like Mother's Day, so these "random" flowers really meant a lot to me and it was a very romantic gesture from my sweet hubby.

This morning while I ate breakfast the flowers were sitting in front of me at the table.  As I gazed at them I felt really overcome with emotion, I felt loved. I felt loved by my husband, but even more than that, I felt loved by God.

I can hear the minds thinking "Loved by God because your husband brought you flowers?" Yes! I started praising God because I realized that there are moments every day that He "brings me flowers"...small fragrant moments of beauty that permeate my life.  Gestures of His passionate love and pursuit for me.  If you read this, I encourage you to meditate on how God romances you through out your day.  That is what I am going to be doing today.  Just soaking up all the love that my Savior pours out on me.  If you are unaware of God's love for you, let this little post prompt you to take a moment, get away from all that life is right now, bring some worship music (google Jason Upton or Kim Walker, or Alberto and Kimberly Rivera and I am sure you will find something on YouTube - if you don't have any good worship music laying around), turn off all the gadgets, let the sunlight be the only light in the room, or a candle, and just sit there and receive God's love.  Trust me, it is there, waiting to be received.

Obedience - Part 2

So here I am again making an attempt to finish what I started with my post on obedience.  This time I want to give you some ways in which you can be obedient.  These are just a few ways that I have determined, through scripture, that the Lord reveals to us how to be obedient.  Because I feel strongly about supporting anything I say with scripture, there is a lot of that in this post - but it is SO good!

The Old Testament is full of laws, so no doubt the topic of obedience is addressed many times.  The big picture of obedience and what comes as a result can be seen in Exodus:

Exodus 19:4-6 God’s promise that results from obedience

4'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. 5'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."

This is a powerful statement from God, He truly has a royal life for those who choose Him.  Isaiah expands on this very thing, and starts to get more specific about way we can obey:

Isaiah 56:1-7 Obedience is heeding God’s commands and loving the Lord.

Rewards for Obedience to God
    1Thus says the LORD,
         "Preserve justice and do righteousness,
         For My salvation is about to come
         And My righteousness to be revealed.
    2"How blessed is the man who does this,
         And the son of man who takes hold of it;
         Who keeps from profaning the sabbath,
         And keeps his hand from doing any evil."
    3Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
         "The LORD will surely separate me from His people "
         Nor let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree."
 4For thus says the LORD,
 "To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
 And choose what pleases Me,
 And hold fast My covenant, 
5To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial,
 And a name better than that of sons and daughters;
     I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. 
6"Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
 To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,
 To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath
     And holds fast My covenant; 7Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
 And make them joyful in My house of prayer 
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
 For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."

When we get to the New Testament, we have the fulfillment of the old law in Jesus and his death and resurrection - YAY!  SO through salvation in Jesus Christ we obtain the inheritance of His obedience and as we pursue sanctification in Him, we find new ways to obey.  A great theme of Jesus' ministry is love, and so it is no wonder that love is a way in which we can be obedient.

2 John 1:6 - obedience and love

6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Now that our salvation is found in Jesus, we are reminded that faith is still critical to our spiritual life and well being.  It is through obedient faith that we receive all that God has for us, here on earth and in heaven!

Hebrews 11:8 - obedience and faith

 8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

One of the most important aspects of obedience is the fact that our obedience is a tool that God uses to reach other people.  The way we obey and serve God is a testimony, and our confession of the gospel of Christ is obedience.

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 Obedience in sharing the Gospel

 13Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, 14while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.15Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

One aspect of obedience that we may often hope to overlook, is that of suffering.  Wouldn't we all rather not deal with that one?  However obedient suffering is a deeply intimate action of obedience that Jesus fully experienced and it is His suffering that sets an example of obedient suffering.

Hebrews 5:8 Obedience learned through suffering (Jesus)

 8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

So to wrap things up I want to emphasize obedience and love one more time.  Why do we obey God? Why do we have a desire to obey God? Because He loves us, and it was Jesus' supreme act of obedience, death on the cross, that enables us to intimately know God and begin our journey of relationship with Him.  Surely Jesus' obedient death on the cross, a deeply personal act of intense love for you, is worth pursuing obedience and love in a relationship with Him.


I think I was half joking when I mentioned in a previous post that I would save "obedience" for another day.  Obedience is so complex that my simplified version that I am sharing today is only one small facet of true obedience to the Lord. Just keep that in mind.  I am sure there is plenty to be added to what I am sharing, and as always...take the meat and leave the bones!  My revelations and personal anecdotes about my walk with Jesus are just that - mine.  I simply share them in hopes that some how God is glorified through my writing and honesty about my personal faith.

 Obey - to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with

I don't know about you, but when I think of obedience my mind associates the word with feelings of negativity.  I think this is natural for my human state of being, because we are so often taught to embrace our individuality and avoid conforming to some other person's idea of who we are.  As a result of being parented and raised in the western culture, some of us have been exposed to negative authority.  Being a parent does not mean you always parent well, and the gift of authority that we as parents are entrusted with is not to be taken lightly.  Even those of us whose parents had the best intentions undoubtedly left an impression of negative authority on us at some point in our lives.  This can be true of teachers and family members who were given a place of authority in our young lives as well. 

The thing about Jesus is that He is perfect.  As a father, a teacher, a husband to the Church - in all His authority there is no negativity.  Reprove - yes, negativity - no. The beautiful thing about obedience to a perfect authority is that it is positive and reaps great benefits.  Perhaps one of the greatest principles of Christianity is obedience.  Current Christian movements seem to avoid this topic or water it down, perhaps from a fear of coming across as religious or legalistic.  Unfortunately this does not negate the importance of the principle of obedience.  The weight and relevance of the issue of obedience is stated fully in John 14:21:

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Isn't it interesting how the all important principle of love goes hand in hand with obedience?  If we obey, we are conforming - conforming to Jesus!  Conform means to give the same shape, outline, or contour to something.  Obedience to Jesus means we are being given the same shape, outline, and contour of Him!  So in order to truly fulfill our role as Christians (that is to be progressively sanctified in order to reflect the glory of the Lord), we must be obedient to Him. 

Later, in my next post, I'll explore ways that we can be obedient.  Until then, meditate on 1 John 2:5-6:

"But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

Righteousness Revisited

"He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:3

Isn't it interesting that such a short and clear verse has so much depth?  When I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me through God's Word I start investigating.  It is just my nature and my present desire to fully know what God is saying.  That is why I define everything.  (Also why I love the Amplified Bible!)  Definitions are like looking at a word with a magnifying glass.  You might generally understand the meaning of a word or sentence, but you might actually learn something if you take the time to explore the meaning of the word or sentence.

Restore - bring back; reinstate
• return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position
• repair or renovate so as to return it to its original condition
give (something previously stolen, taken away, or lost) back to the original owner or recipient 

I discussed righteousness in an earlier post but here is a quick recap:

Righteous - characterized by proceeding from morality or justice; clean-handed, good, guiltless, innocent, upright, virtuous, worthy.

In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

A Pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law.  Pharisees were supposed to be the very embodiment of righteousness during their time, so for Jesus to expect a righteousness that surpassed pharisaic righteousness, it must have seemed unattainable.  Yet Jesus also says "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." (John 14:6-7).  So how is it that we achieve the unattainable righteousness needed to enter Heaven?


Now look at the Amplified Bible's version of Psalm 23:3:

"He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake."

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, as he taught.  While the Pharisees maintained their focus on the law as the means to their "righteousness" they completely missed Jesus, and true righteousness.  The righteousness that is required of us to enter the Kingdom, is acquired only through surrender to Jesus.  He is the only one capable of this righteousness, and therefore the only way into Heaven and into communion with God.  As I said in my earlier post, this should be a great relief!   There is no striving for some unattainable perfection, no meeting of expectations, no performance that is required of us.  God simply asks for us to abandon ourselves to Him.  There is nothing required of us to receive God's love.  The process of salvation and progressive sanctification is not performance-based.  It is simply allowing yourself to belong to God.  This involves obedience... but I'll save that for next time! Just remember that coming to God and needing Him, have nothing to do with where you are in life or the choices you have made.  The only thing you need to have to come to the Lord, in repentant salvation or as a repentant believer, is a willing heart.

One of those days...

Blog posts are usually reserved for those moments of revelation that come at moments of heightened spiritual understanding... however tonight I realized something that I felt completely necessary to share. I did not have a good day today.  There wasn't really one specific reason for it, I simply woke up in a foul mood.  My foul mood was then received by my ever observant children and then manifested in them as fit throwing, rebellion, excessive crying and mess making.  Thank God I have been given enough insight as a mother to recognize that all these things were a direct result of my original attitude this morning...but that is another post.  Some thoughtful observations lead me to believe that there are a few culprits at the root of my disdain for living today.

1. Stress - I have a lot of homework this week and not a lot of time to devote to it.
2. Self Condemnation - I did not do my pilates Monday and ate more than I should have, there by frustrating myself with myself.
3. Exhaustion - Irresponsibly playing on my new Mac until the wee hours of morning left me with very little sleep
4. Satan - Oh yeah, I am throwing him in the mix. ;) After all, he does like to take advantage of situations just such as this.

So, despite my "quiet" time done amid the morning pleas for diaper changes, breakfast and juuuuice, I was not feeling spiritually refreshed. I was overtired, dreading a day of trying to accomplish homework which meant not accomplishing housework (not much of it anyway), and despite meeting my exercise and eating goals today, still disappointed that I couldn't have a "do over" for Monday.  What I realized tonight however is that all of those things should not equal: grouchy, unattentive, disengaged, threatening, super unfun mommy.  You might be thinking, "DUH", unless of course you have been in my shoes and acted the same way.  So what I am going to take from this lesson is, nothing is as important as the way I am my children's mother, especially for them.  Especially now while they formulate their behavior, and most importantly their role model of Christianity.  So I will fall asleep praying tonight that, when I choose to not do homework tomorrow, I'll trust that God with his infinite grace will help me accomplish it at another time. And I pray that God would forgive me for my ridiculous behavior and bless the time I spend with my babies tomorrow, allowing me to nourish their spirits and exude all the mommy-love I can on them.  And most importantly I pray that I will continue to pray this every day, so that my most important ministry is one that God will see and say "well done, good and faithful servant".


So, part of my weight loss/lifestyle change plan is to incorporate bible reading and journaling in the morning before I eat anything.  Through the youversion iPhone app I found a great reading plan that has me reading a psalm and a proverb each morning. This has been wonderful reading so far and several things have spoken to me.  A couple days ago I came across Proverbs 11:16. 

"A gracious woman attains honor, and ruthless men attain riches."  (NASB)

I was interested in the former part of the proverb but decided to reach for the Amplified Bible to explore the entire verse. The Amplified expanded this verse a great deal:

"A gracious and good woman wins honor [for her husband], and violent men win riches but a woman who hates righteousness is a throne of dishonor for him."

Wow!  All of a sudden both parts of the proverb interested me.  This verse is about behaviour but it is also about the role of a wife within marriage.  Like any other marital reference in the Bible, this verse can ultimately represent the marriage of Christ to the Bride(me and you).  In order to really break this verse down for myself I explored what type of behaviour this proverb was promoting.  I started this by understanding the meaning behind gracious and righteous(since the unsuccessful wife hates righteousness, we can assume that the gracious woman loves it). Here is what I found:

gracious - charm, good taste, generosity of spirit; elegant, friendly, graceful, merciful, refined; kindness and warm courtesy; politeness, propitious(which means favorable)

righteous - characterized by proceeding from morality or justice; clean-handed, good, guiltless, innocent, upright, virtuous, worthy.

A woman who is gracious and righteous should represent all of the above.  Quite a list!  Righteousness is a great theme of the Bible and the Christian walk.  In the New American Standard Bible(NASB) the word righteous and its variant righteousness, are mentioned at least 580 times!  Probably an element of the Christian faith worth looking into.  My research brain got the best of me and did I ever look into it. 

Romans 3:10 says "...There is none righteous, not even one."

If in our own efforts we are incapable of being righteous, how than are we to be righteous?  How can I bring honor to myself and my husband? More importantly, and what I believe is the significant question that Proverbs 11:13 is addressing, how can I bring honor to the Groom, Jesus Christ, who is himself the purest example of righteousness?  Romans chapter 4 really digs into the biblical explanation so I am just going to put it here:

Romans 4 (capitalization denotes the quoting of Old Testament verses)

"1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." 4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7"BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8"BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." 9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." 10How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17(as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore (IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification."

Okay stay with me!  I know that is a lot to swallow but this is a beautiful image of Christianity!  To honor our Bridegroom, (JESUS!) we are to be gracious and righteous, however none of us are righteous, but we are credited with righteousness by our FAITH..... which mean that it is our SALVATION, therefore JESUS, who creates our righteousness!  So we must fully rely on our faith and and strength given to us through our Savior in order to even truly honor Him, (and our husbands!)  What a relief!  At least that is what I thought when I waded through all of that.  Who knew one little verse in Proverbs would get me to that.  Christians often refer to their strength through Christ when faced with trials, but it is important to remember that we cannot even fully honor (or worship, or serve) Jesus without Him.  Wrap your mind around it!

Living Waters

As I mark day 7 of my weight loss journey I wanted to share a revelation I had last night.  One of the most important things that I am doing in conjunction with my food journal is drinking at least 64 oz of water a day.  It was difficult the first two days and I felt water logged.  Then as each day has passed since, it has been easier to drink the entire half gallon by the end of the day.  At night I refill my half gallon water bottle and put it in the fridge for the next day.  Last night as I lay in bed my lips were parched and my throat was dry... I marveled at how this was possible given the amount of water I have been drinking.  Being the curious person that I am I hopped on the Internet to learn a little more about water and to make sure I could drink more than the daily recommended amount.  Ultimately I found out that water is amazing and as long as you don't drink a ridiculous amount all at once, you really can't have too much. (Check out the link for an article I read about the benefits of water.) So why is this entry titled "Living Waters"?  What revelation did I have?

"Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'" John 4:10

(If you are unfamiliar with this passage of scripture...Jesus is speaking with a Samaritan woman at the well--something a man would never do at that time-- and ultimately offers her "living water".)  So what is Jesus offering her?  If we look back in the Old Testament we see what context Jesus is taking this phrase from.  Twice in Jeremiah God identifies himself as "living water". 

"O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water." Jeremiah 17:13

(And also Jeremiah 2:13 for those of you who are interested.)

Even more interesting is that God identifies himself as a "spring" - water from a spring is pure, unblemished, safe to drink and edifying to the body.  I don't think it is any coincidence that purified drinking water has so many amazing benefits, not to mention on the most basic level it is needed to survive.  No wonder God and Jesus (one in the same by the way) identify and relate themselves as living water.  It is a metaphor that transcends the ages - eternally relevant to humanity. But what is even more special for me in my moment last night was that even when I increased my intake of water to the "recommended" amount - in just a few short days I was still going to sleep parched, my body longing for more water!  And Jesus leaned in close and whispered to my heart - "I am Living Water... you will never get too much of me.  The more you drink, the more you will find yourself going to sleep parched - longing for more of me."  Isn't it funny how - if we pay attention - God can teach us in the smallest aspects of our day?

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:17

The Weight of the Issue

I promise I will be more consistent with this blog... or not. The important thing is that when I have something to say... I generally come here where no one will read it, and "say" it. Either way it is therapeutic. I don't want anyone to be confused by the name of my blog. I am not becoming beautiful for the mirror in front of me... I am seeking the kind of beauty that reflects Jesus when people look at me.

Since I got married I have struggled with my weight. And what I mean by "struggled" is that I was really unhappy with being overweight, which is a mental battle believe me, but really did nothing about it. Once I started having children I didn't really stop, so losing weight between pregnancies wasn't even attempted. Finally after dealing with many other issues, I began to feel ready for weight loss. For anyone who thinks weight is simply a physical issue to be tackled through logical means is, sadly, mistaken. The emotions we tie to eating and caring for our own bodies is really pretty intense.

Before I could even fathom losing my weight, I had to deal with many personal issues. I am sure I could have lost weight prior to dealing with these issues (I did one time, back in 2005). However God faithfully revealed to me that before I could focus on my physical body, I had to place real value on my spirit. Now that I have arrived at the ready to become healthy again, so that I may readily serve my God in any situation, and likewise my husband and children, I am ironically at another start point with God. As I began my journal/food journal Wednesday June 2, it occurred to me that what God was doing through my weight loss had very little(if anything at all!) to do with how I looked.

Weight loss is a training involves commitment, integrity, discipline, sacrifice, perseverance, and many other characteristics that truly enhance our pursuit of Jesus. I realised that God, in His infinite wisdom, was not interested at all in my ability to run a mile, nor the skill of squeezing into a size 8 again. He was fully interested in taking my carefully sutured spirit and cultivating complete restoration, through His ability and not my own. So as I draw near to day three of this "diet" I give thanks that I am learning real commitment to something that is hard and uncomfortable. I rejoice in God's ever present sustenance so that, even when no one is looking, I don't take a slice of that homemade raisin bread from my sweet neighbor. I am absolutely filled with joy knowing that at the end of this training I will be not only physically able to serve God where ever He calls us, but I can truly be of use to Him because I have allowed Him to be the potter, and myself, to be the clay. And make no mistake that it is by His strength, that I have even been able to surrender myself to being a lump of clay.

The Run

I have been training to run my first 5K with the Couch to 5K program ( After some on and mostly off days of working out and then an entire week of not doing it at all, I had an epic win today. I got on that treadmill and ran for 25 minutes and 44 seconds - or 2 miles! It was such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. What struck me though, is that in the moments that followed that epic moment, I didn't feel the kind of support I thought I would after such a milestone. My husband said "great job babe, you are awesome" as he chased after our daughters to put their coats on... I posted emphatically on Facebook to get a few "you go girl" comments... And then I let the issue rest. I sat back and thought to myself...well what did you expect people to do/say? It was then that I realised that being super excited for myself, was ENOUGH for me! Wow... I usually have such ulterior motives for doing something, and I thrive on verbal encouragement and get the most gratification out of being applauded by those in my life. But today, I praised God - for His faithfulness and endurance in my life - and thanked Him for beginning to show me that I was enough, and I only needed to know how proud He was of me.

Perfect Love

I read this beautiful email and I just wanted to share it...hopefully she won't mind me passing it was such a blessing for me in my moment of being an overwhelmed mom. I am so thankful that God sends these small things for me at just the appropriate time. (Charmai and her husband are missionaries in Ecuador. My husband was lucky enough to spend some time there last spring with CMDA.)

"Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1-John

My husband (Roberto) is in the States right now, he has been for about a week. I was terrified when he left, perhaps many of you would have sympathy for me and reason the fear away with “Well, if I was left in the jungle for the first time with the responsibilities of nine kids and a ministry, I would be a little scared too”. But remember the verse “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love”. Just what does that verse pertain to anyway? Does it mean ALL fear?? And what does fear have to do with love, practically speaking??

Well, let me tell you what I have learned. I’m going to use the story of one of my little boys to help you grasp the depth of my revelation.

I have a son ( Antony) who was destined to be a Shaaman (witch doctor) from birth. He has seen and carried evil spirits, probably since birth as well. His sister told me there was a time when he was 5 years old that he was running around naked and hit her in the head with a rock, she passed out. Their father became very angry and began to chase him, until he chased him away. Their mother began to worry as the hours passed, and her naked 5 year old son did not come home. So by night fall she took a lamp and went to search for him, she finally found him. He had gone a long way, deep into the jungle; he was sleeping on the floor covered with leeches. She brought him home and bathed him; their father never said a word.

Now this same boy is 9 years old. A week or two ago he had gotten real upset. My husband heard him sobbing, so went to check on him, and found him on the shower floor curled up in a ball. While my husband was praying for him, our son began to say that he saw blood on his hands, and he began to say “they’re here, I can see them”. My husband called me, I was in the middle of scrubbing baby poo out of Mireya’s panties, but recognized the urgency right away. We then called Hannah, and Dario and all of us began to pray for him, in the shower. He kept looking at something above our heads, crying and saying over and over “they’re here, I see them”. He looked so tense and frightened; his eyes would roll back from time to time. The only thing that finally calmed him down was when Roberto got him to repeat after him saying “Jesus is my king, Jesus is my God”. I believe that he became a believer that day; I also believe that he was freed from a great bondage. But even before this happened, his family had seen him recently and they were stunned, they said over and over again to his sister “Wow, I can’t believe how much he’s changed! Is that really him! He’s not even mean anymore!”

Each of our kids has their story; each is barely recognizable in their old environment. Max for example, is a street kid who came to us at 12 years old. Sometimes he had a house to go to, but he preferred to be on the street. His mother told me that he would leave in the morning and not come back for days, or so she thought until she caught him sneaking under the house late a night. (The houses in the jungle are on stilts). He would sleep under the house, I wish all of you could see what that looks like, because it is disgusting, shocking, not to mention very unsanitary. What would drive a child to that extent to keep his presence hidden, yet return there every night? (rhetorical) With that kind of background, I would expect him to be a hopeless, dangerous, mess. Yet, he is the man while Roberto is away. The other day I asked him to do me the favor of sweeping the kitchen, he said yes, and proceeded to mop it as well, then he went out and swept all the leaves off the porch. Amen!

I tell you this because, this is what love does. It works in contradiction to fear, no more needing to be insecure, defensive, secretive. No more needing to protect yourself from oncoming wrath, or anything for that matter. Jesus took care of that on the cross. We are free! Perfect love casts out all fear! Sure if you make a mistake, even on purpose you will have to go through the discipline and resulting consequence of your choice, but it’s ok! Because He’s going to go through it with you!

He has given Roberto and I the responsibility of showing them this love. But I had to fully experience it first before I could fully give it. I used to be afraid that I couldn’t handle the responsibility on my own, and I was afraid of being alone with all my kids, because I thought I had to control them and I knew I couldn’t. But I have learned that I can’t control anyone but myself, my job is just to love them and guide them, and even their worst future sin has already been paid for. So I have no reason to fear it. Remember “fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love”. I’m on their side, and they are going to make lots of purposeful mistakes, but its ok, because I’m going to be right there alongside them as they learn.

I am in no means saying that my children and I are walking lights cured of all frailties. But we are definitely on God’s path and he has a plan to bulldoze us with the freedom that comes from His love. I hope through this journal you have been able to see what God’s love has done, not only to my children’s lives, but to mine as well. –Charmai Davalos

Father I pray that each person that reads this knows or comes to know the truth of the perfect love that drives out ALL fear. May you give us the courage to live the lives you have called us to-Amen

Charmai Davalos"

An Aching Heart

Yesterday was my first Sunday as a member of the Healing Room prayer team. During our second service we have a "healing" room available to anyone who needs prayer - physical, mental, spiritual needs. I knew that God was calling me to join this team long ago but finally took the neccessary steps to actively engage doing it.

At a meeting last week it had been announced that they were going to be waiting awhile before adding any new team members but anyone was welcome to come to their training meetings. I knew God had called me to this but I thought maybe it wasn't the right time since they weren't taking anyone new. A few days later the guy in charge of the team called me and asked me to be on the team. I laughed because isn't that just like God? So anyway, I think I cried every time I prayed for someone. My heart was just aching for people. I really feel that God was giving me an open door to feel how His heart felt about these people and situations. It was a good place to be, but also the reality of the broken-hearted was hard to endure. I am so glad God ministers to us in prayer. Even today I heard of two difficult situations, a mother who lost her infant son, the age of my infant son, to pneumonia. And then a Mauritian friend who is a young mother, whose husband is unaccounted for in the Haiti earthquake. I have been praying for both of these women and the situations facing them. My heart is aching today...

I want to be David

Not only is my pastor, Josh Kouri, teaching on David, but David is probably my favorite person in the Bible (after Jesus of course). As I have been learning about David, reading about his life, reading his psalms... I realised how much I want to be David. Aldo and I were talking about him on a 3 hour drive home this week and what unfolded was a great revelation for me, personally, spiritually. David did not create his intense passion for God, his desire to worship and seek God's heart was not born of himself, it was not something he "did" and therefore was rewarded by being the "man after God's own heart". The very key to David's devotion was that he simply understood God. He understood God's enormity, strength, beauty, power, majesty.... simply fully understanding who God is - would result in a life passionately poured out into serving God on every level. As one of my favorite worshippers, Jason Upton, sings, "I have given Jacob's generation, the key of David, intimacy. To open up the doorway to the nations, and release Revelation, of intimacy, with Me." The way I see it - the only way I will ever worship and pursue God on the level that I desire, the level of David, is by intimately knowing Him.

Too Long

It has been TOO long since I posted here. Naturally other things took priority over sitting at the computer typing but still I enjoy it and hope to be more committed to this little blog that probably no one reads but me - which is fine! God has really reached out to me and ministered to me on such a deep level these last months. I had some great counseling with my mother in law before Loic was born September 10th, 2009. I think now that Aldo has really hit rotations in full stride, and I have had my inlaws in house for nearly 6 months, not to mention the holidays, a blizzard, and two puppies...I am so worn out. Mentally, physically, even spiritually. BUT I am so excited to move through the exhaustion, to learn more about how God is perfected in my so obvious weaknesses. As my pastor, Josh Kouri, spoke this morning about suffering well, and using times of difficulty to know God better, I felt God reaching out to me again, reminding me that I DO NOT have it all together, and that it is not even His intention that I do. After all, if I could do it all myself, would I be glorifying Him?

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