Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crazy Love

While in Africa I finished my book for May. I kept hearing about this book from several people and I had heart so many great things. I am so glad I read it. Francis Chan is one of the most straightforward and honest authors I have ever read. There is even a hint of sarcasm in his writing. Overall, he just spits it straight which I loved. I will give you a few quotes that I really liked but I pretty much underlined the whole book so I would highly recommend reading it.

"To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart, distinct from us. And because of His set apart-ness, there is no way we can never fathom all of who He is."

"His perfect holiness, by definition, assures us that our words can't contain Him."

"He knows each of us deeply and specifically. He knows our thoughts before we think them, our actions before we commit them, whether we are lying down or sitting or walking around. He knows who we are and what we are about. We cannot escape Him, not even if we want to."
A scary, yet comforting truth.

"God never excuses sin. And He is always consistent with that ethic. Whenever we start to question whether God really hates sin, we have only to think of the cross, where His Son was tortured, mocked, and beaten because of sin. Our sin."

"The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift."

"....when we love God, we naturally run to Him--frequently and zealously.........Our motivation changes from guilt to love."

"The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair, and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing........The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us."
So true. We are so undeserving of this.

"God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best. From the beginning of time, He has been clear that some offerings are acceptable to Him and others are not."

"Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are."

"In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have opportunity to wonder, 'Am I doing this right?' or 'Did I serve enough this week?' When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry, or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe."
As believers, we know we should run and run hard for towards Christ and yet I know I fail so often. We know what to do and we know what will satisfy...but still we choose other things.

"If we allow ourselves to live recklessly for Him, then we, too, will see His glory. We will see Him do the impossible."
I like the idea of living recklessly for Christ.

Anyways, like I said, you should probably just read this book! It is so good! Hope you all are having a happy weekend!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two Unforgettable Weeks

Go ahead and prep yourself that this might be a long blog post. I know it has taken me a long time to finally compose it all! In fact, it has been days. I will come and write a little bit then leave it alone for a while. How do you sum up two extremely life-changing weeks in Africa? It is extremely challenging. I decided to go through and share some of the major experiences we had while we were there. This probably won't touch the surface of all that I learned but I'll give it a go.
We left Atlanta on May 8th and headed for Amsterdam. We ended up being delayed in Atlanta therefore missing our connection in Amsterdam. Day one and already a test of faith. Upon realizing there would not be another flight out of Amsterdam until 10:30 the next morning, I failed. The water works started. Poor Sam...he just didn't understand. I figured it was preparing him for his wife one day. We girls are pretty emotional. Oh, and Delta did not compensate all. We got a little money for some food but that is about it. Sam and I set-up camp and prepared for a longgg 22 hours in the Amsterdam airport. Don't worry, I only had one melt down at the very beginning. It wasn't all bad though....we had some fun and because of a lack of sleep, took some delirious pictures. :)

Our pal Ronald....

After finally boarding our flight to Nairobi, Kenya the next day, we could not wait to be there! The next day at about 8 p.m. we were greeted by Michael and Lesley and lots of rain! We headed to their house, ate some dinner, chatted, showered and hit the hay.

The next day was pretty relaxed. By our third day there we were hitting the ground running. We only had two weeks and the Steven's were so sweet to make sure we got lots of Kenyan experiences in our short time there. Michael teaches at an American school so unfortunately, he wasn't with us all day everyday. We were, however, in great hands with our guide, Lesley. Lesley works in a slum called Kibera with an organization called D.I.G. She has helped some AIDS victims learn to plant their own vegetables so that they can nourish themselves properly.

We went to that slum several days and the first day we were greeted by the Steven's good friend Moses. After meeting Moses and talking with him a little bit the one word that I would use to describe him is, selfless. This man is so willing to serve. In fact he thrives on it. Everyone knows him and loves him. He loves to help people. Anyways, Moses showed us a school in Kibera that could really use our help. We went to visit the school and see the kids.
Overlooking Kibera....1.2 million people living on 600 acres.
We can NEVER complain....

They LOVE having their picture taken!

Beautiful Lesley showing us the garden in Kibera

The next day, Sam and I actually started teaching a little bit. They have all the same subjects except unlike public school in the states, they have CRE or Christian Religious Education. I was all about teaching that and it was what they loved to learn. I taught math, english, science, and reading as well. I was just excited that I actually got to share the gospel with many Kenyan kids at a school! Talk about an experience that is not likely to happen without serious consequences in the states. It was such an amazing experience.
Sam teaching...

Moses....These kids LOVED him!
Lunch time! Quite possibly the only meal they get all day.... cute is this face?
I love this picture!

Another fun opportunity was getting to help at a special education center called Heshima which means respect in Kiswahili. Children with disabilities are pretty much disowned in Africa. Parents, mostly fathers, are so ashamed of these children that they leave them locked up in houses or closets and do not care for them. We met Tracy, an American missionary who started this center for children with disabilities. What a blessing this was. They were precious and so smart!! I was so impressed by all that Tracy had done to make this center nice for these children.
FYI: If you want to make a donation to this ministry that is in great need or if you just want more information...their website is:

We had the opportunity to shadow teachers at Michael's school as well. As I said, this is an American school so it was definitely different than the slums but still very different from the states as well. In case you didn't know, Sam is a secondary education/history major and I am an elementary education major so that is why we were set up with all of these experiences in schools!

The one full weekend that we were there, the Steven's took us on a weekend safari. First, we went to Lake Naivasha. We went on a walking safari at Crescent Island. It was so much fun and so cool!! Here are some pictures from that safari.
Great Rift Valley

Hello zebras...
Sam even killed one of the big 5....the cape buffalo. Stud. southerners this may not be a prize to kill.. It is called a Dik Dik and it is the smallest deer in the world. This is a full grown Dik Dik. How cute!
Beautiful! We got so close!
The next day we headed to Lake Nakuru. We went on a driving safari there. Again, so cool. Such fun experiences.

I like this picture...there were a million flamingos in the background
Beautiful African sunrise...
So...maybe we were really close to this zebra.. haha.

We also had the opportunity to FEED giraffes while we were there! Pretty sweet....

We also went to the market and learned to barter from Lesley. However, I have to say, no one can barter like this girl. She would fight and fight till she got the best prices! On our last day there we climbed the Ngong Hills. This was intense but there were some magnificent views.
After climbing the hills we headed home to finish packing and headed to the airport around 6:30. It was such a long trip back and we were so thankful to be greeted by some beautiful faces when we got home.

I took over 1,000 pictures so...I couldn't share them all. haha. We saw lots more animals and had more amazing views. Here are a couple of pictures from our last day at the school...
I'm in there somewhere!

I wanted to take sweet Cynthia home with me

So...that was my trip. I cannot explain the ins and outs of all the I experienced and learned while I was there. I can say that we, as Americans, are blessed beyond what we could ever imagine. We should never be allowed to complain. Those children that I had the privilege of meeting have NOTHING and still are thankful and content. It is a desperate land.
Also, the Lord has definitely been breaking my heart more and more for the world. I mean, if you would have asked me 3 years ago if I ever saw myself living overseas I would have said, "I hope that I would go where the Lord would lead me but I really just think I am supposed to serve in the states and maybe go on short-term trips." I still hope that I would say this. I do only want to be in the center of His perfect will. However, I think the Lord has definitely used these last two summers to break down some major walls. I am excited to see where God will allow me to serve one day. Whether it be in Mobile, Alabama forever or somewhere across the world. I am thankful that He allows me to have even a small part.

If you have made it to the end of this forever long post...Congrats! I hope you got just a small insight into what I experienced. Sorry it has taken me almost 5 days to officially post this. I will be back with more posts soon! I start my summer job/enrichment program next week and I finished my book for May while in Africa! So...lots to update!! I am still trying to catch up on sleep and get back in the swing of things.

Finally, I have to give a huge congratulations to two very special people and two amazing friends. Richard and Brynn are ENGAGED! It happened on Tuesday and I could not be more thrilled for these two! Congrats my friends!

Until later, Bwana asi fiwe! (Praise the Lord in Kiswahili)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Africa! Africa! Africa!

Well, school officially ended for me yesterday at about 8:45 am. Summer is here. Yes! The summer is starting out crazy and busy. Saturday is the day! Sam and I are leaving and heading across the world to Africa! We are so excited! Can't you tell?

I cannot wait to see what the Lord is going to do in both our lives. I'll be honest...flying across the world with just my brother is a little on the scary side but I am sure that it will fine. I am excited to see another part of the world. I know it will be such an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful!
So...obviously, this will be my last post for a couple of weeks.
Prayer requests? I have plenty!

You can pray for our safety. Pray for our safety as we travel and while in Africa
Pray that the Lord would allow Sam and I to be an encouragement to Michael and Lesley while we are there.
Pray that we might be an encouragement to those we meet in Africa.
Pray that the gospel would go out. (As it should every single day)
Pray that we would make the absolute most of every moment we have there!

I suppose you could pray that we enjoy ourselves...although I am pretty sure that is inevitable. :)
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the prayers! They are so appreciated!

I don't know if Africa is ready for us......... :)
See you in two weeks! Maybe I'll be able to post a picture or something while I am there!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Two Great Years

Yesterday, May 1st, Brett and I celebrated two years together. We had so much fun. I woke up early and went to his house to surprise him and cook him breakfast. He was definitely surprised to find me walking into his room with a plate of pancakes! :) After we ate I went home to get ready and he came to pick me up a little later. We exchanged gifts and boy oh boy...I was in for a surprise...Look what he got me!!

I was so shocked and so excited. He got this lens for me because of my trip to Africa. I also got some beautiful tulips as well. I could not wait to try my lens out! He did so good and I felt completely spoiled!
We then headed across the bay to have lunch. We ate at California Dreamin' and had plans to go to the Fairhope pier or to the Grand Hotel so I could use my camera. However, it was a bit of a yucky day so we decided not to drive as far. We went to Five Rivers on the causeway. I had so much fun using my camera and practicing different things. We had a great time! Here are some pictures from our day....
2 YEARS! :)

I feel like this might be a good time to share exactly how Brett and I met. I was a sophomore and he was a freshman. My roommate, Julie knew Brett and one day she put it together that we might have a class together. We soon connected the dots and realized we had sociology together. We began to talk a lot in that class. He stole my phone and put his number in it and called himself so he would have my number....Creep. :) We began to text all the time. One day...after about 4 months of being friends, he told me he liked me and wanted to know if I felt the same way. I. was. shocked. I told him that I really enjoyed his company but that I just saw him as a friend. Dang.

Anyways, we continued hanging out and talking and just being friends. It never got awkward which shocked me! He just kept on being a great friend. About a month later, my feelings began to change. All of the sudden I was wondering if I might even like this guy. I tried so hard to not show anything or lead him on in any way. I still did not know if I was supposed to be in a relationship with this boy. I kept praying and trying to seek the Lord. I knew I liked him....but he did not know and I didn't want him to. One night, about three months after he had initially pursued me, we were talking on the phone and he said, "Laura, do you think we haven't dated because you aren't interested or because it's not the right time?" Dang. I was cornered and could not lie. I told him I just didn't think it was the right time. About a month later...or maybe less...we were dating. :)

After two years together I can say that without a doubt it was the Lord that brought us together in his perfect timing. I know that it was hard for Brett to wait five months but I know he would tell you that God taught him so much during that time. I am so thankful to have this boy in my life.

I love so much about him. His curiosity about everything, how unbelievably smart he is, his love for sports (not who he chooses to cheer for necessarily...Roll Tide!), his passion to help people, his servants heart, his consistent prayer life, his humor, his love for others, and most importantly his relationship with the Lord!

I am truly blessed and thank the Lord for blessing me with such an amazing guy.
Thank you for loving me and serving me so well Brett and for taking such great care of my heart for the past two years! I hope we have many more together!
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