Road Trip Lessons

For two years in a row, we’ve taken road trips for our vacations, each two weeks long. On our first trip, we went to Washington DC & our second trip is to the West Coast, ala Oregon & California. My husband, the penultimate saint, has done the bulk of the driving for both trips, so maybe I provide some comic relief & moral support. But think about it in terms of family bonding, since there’s no wifi nor DVD player in the car. Mostly, we’re doing pretty well & our three teenagers can say they’ve driven across America.
For me, I think that life is a long road trip, a journey with God with unexpected twists, ups, downs, sometimes tiring & sometimes joyful.
So here are a few thoughts about my road trip with God & maybe they’ll have some tread in your life:

  • Focusing in the car is important , but don’t neglect to look out the windows bc God has a big world around us!
  • Listen & don’t just watch – listen in the car but also listen in your heart as God has some amazing whispers & company to keep with you!
  • Traveling companions are helpful because you see & experience things in different ways than just by yourself.
  • Keep going. Life has struggles, dark times, hot seasons, smelly moments & glorious discoveries.

No Reception :)

Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t get reception for your cell phone? Yesterday, my family & I were driving through Yellowstone WY for our family vacation & there was zero cell reception for probably more than 6hours. For a little bit, it was frustrating but the longer I went without cell phone usage, the more I liked it. Maybe these observations could be helpful to you when you think about connecting with God:

  • Not getting what we want isn’t always a bad thing
  • Distractions like phones, tend to interrupt our attention to being present in each moment
  • With the Holy Spirit, we have perpetual reception because the Holy Spirit is always with us!
  • Having a break from continual communication is probably more healthy than we often realize

Whiplash

Less than two weeks ago, I was inching through Dhaka Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with around 25million. Now, we’re driving through Wyoming, the least populated state in the US. Just below are two videos to show the contrasts:

IMG_3710 Β – Wyoming

IMG_3601 – Dhaka

Obviously, these are massively different environs & it’s a bit of a mind tilt to put these contrasts together. But the Creator of the universe is entirely comfortable & accessible in both contrasts.

Uber Rides

Today’s Uber driver is from Darfur Sudan. He has 7 brothers, 2 sisters & both parents all back in Darfur. This is the place where they had a genocide almost 15years ago so I was fascinated to listen to my driver talk about his circuitous journey to the US. Whenever I uber it, the drivers are always from a distant country: Mali, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, etc. When I listen to each of these drivers, it’s astounding to hear their stories & think about how they’ve navigated various tragedies, twists & opportunities.
Everyone we meet has had their own journeys, culminating to the moment we meet them & get to hear about their lives. Sometimes when we hear their stories it helps us understand some of their behaviors & choices. Regardless of their backgrounds or experiences, let’s choose to love & be gracious. We don’t have to know people to be loving, kind or gracious πŸ™‚

True Confession

Presently, I’m making my way back home to Denver, from a very busy & productive trip to Cambodia & Bangladesh. This trip was productive for me in ways that I didn’t anticipate in terms of making some new friends & have some very rich fellowship with friends that I’ve had there for more than 10years. It was productive, as well, in loads of ways for Saving Moses & I’m still processing some of the developments, looking for God’s wisdom.
But here’s the true confession: when I start the journey home, I can be very unpleasant. By this point in any trip, I’m usually tired, spent & I want to sit on my back porch, yesterday. So if there are flight delays, airline people who aren’t helpful, or other small challenges, I can have a short fuse & it’s no bueno. So I’m sitting in the airport, having just heard the announcement that my flight is delayed almost 2 hours & there’s a chance I’ll miss my domestic flight to Denver. Despite how justified I feel to be hostile & obnoxious, I have a deeper anchor in my soul than my tired body & impatient feelings. The Holy Spirit is my helper & helps me to display the Fruit of the Spirit rather than the revulsion of the flesh. The first step to walk in these Fruits is to make the true confessions to the Holy Spirit & then ask for supernatural Help πŸ™‚

Things We Dont Like

Today, I’m in Bangledesh & I like being here because of the wonderful people. They are super friendly & very hospitable. Unfortunately, this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have annual floods that routinely displace thousands of people, killing large pockets of the population in these horrendous floods. Additionally, the education system here is still developing, so the literacy rate is a challenge. Bangladesh has 160 million people & its 90% Muslim, 8% Hindu & 2% mixture. There’s generally a high level of respect for the various differences among the ethnicities, religions & social classes here.
Today, we’ll be going around the capital city, Dhaka, & I’m super keen to spend some time here! There are about 30million people in this urban area with lots of diversity in the spectrum of poverty to wealthy. As I’m in this city, I know I’ll see things that I don’t like, but I want to see with God’s of compassion, healing & welcome. Let’s be careful that we don’t turn away from things we don’t like, when God wants us to engage & express genuine love πŸ™‚

Walking with God

I’m presently in Cambodia with a magnificent team expressing Jesus’ love
To the babies & toddlers of prostitutes. This is a really powerful experience for everyone & me in particular. For starters, getting to love on babies is thoroughly glorious. Their bright eyes, curiosity, trust & acceptance are unparalleled in our adult relationships. There’s a simplicity & purity with babies that we seem to lose as adults. This experience is also powerful for me in getting to watch my team come together as individuals & join in cohesion, complementing each other rather than competitive division & exclusivity. Finally, this year is unique for me from the previous years. Last year when I was here, I was recovering from a concussion & that was extremely difficult, blech. The year before that, I was doing physical therapy to recover from shoulder surgery.
Going through hardships helps us appreciate the non-hardship times! Walking with God is truly the adventure of a lifetime!

I’m extremely excited for the next week or so & I want to stay connected with you!! I’m excited because we have our largest ever team trip with Saving Moses in Cambodia, working with our five nightcare centers, loving on babies & experiencing the MARVELOUS people of Cambodia!! I’ll be posting pictures, telling stories & bringing you along with me, hoping you will feel God’s lavish love for you through seeing & reading about these experiences!
And on top of all that excitement, I’m also popping into Bangledesh for a few days to continue working to set up nightcare there!! I’m giddy excited for God’s love to pour through me in these days & I’m praying that you’ll also sense God’s love for you, as you keep up with my blog πŸ™‚
Feel free to subscribe to my blog so it will be easy to keep up! Thanks & let’s have a really fun adventure together for the next week or so!!

a Touch of Heaven!

I’m super EXCITED to be back in Bangladesh for the 2nd time this year!! Not only do I love the people here, but I also LOVE getting to work with a wide diversity of people! My team for this trip consists of an American, Irish, Khmer & Bengali – a wide assortment of cultures, mindsets & abilities! Thankfully, all of them are very patient with me & eager for our grand adventure! We’re opening nightcare here very soon & very eager to provide a shelter with nurture & protection for the babies & toddlers of sex workers, while their moms work.
Last time I was here, they let me know that 7/10 babies & toddlers are on the bed with their mom as she works. So I’m very humbled & honored to provide a shelter to protect & look after these lovely babies!
Saving Moses is expanding nightcare this year & Bangledesh is on our immediate horizon!
I’ll keep you posted over the next few days!

Emily – no bats in the closet at the TD, this time ,)

Heroes

When I travel, I often meet people whom I admire & my weekend in New Zealand was no exception. To be sure, the country is entirely magnificent with its natural beauty, but her citizens are equally as enchanting. I met folk who are respectful in their conversations & engagement with diverse cultures. I met people who have overcome adversities that would make your hair stand on end. I met people who have a deep love for Jesus & carry His heart in their daily interactions, eager to serve & express genuine love.
We all meet people who have warts & flaws, but let’s have the courage & determination to see past those shortfalls & see each person as a glorious creation of our loving Heavenly Father!

Lots Of Diversity!

I’m presently in Auckland New Zealand & experiencing this beautiful country & lovely people. It always astounds me to see God’s ability for infinite diversity. I also love to see the distinction of cultures & there are heaps of cultures here! With the various cultures, you might have heard of the All Blacks, which is the national rugby team for NZ & wildly popular here, an integral part of the culture. Additionally, this nation has lots of nationalities including Maori, British, Indian, Polynesian, French & loads more. In some respects, I’m not sure that I’ve ever visited a place with more cultural diversity, except maybe South Africa.
In addition to the diversity of people, there’s also loads of diversity with the actual land (islands, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, plains & rolling hills). The weather is also quite diverse & seems to change almost by the hour.
New Zealand is thoroughly beautiful & full of life. It’s definitely a country that I’d like to explore with loads more time!

 

Image or Substance

I’m waiting at an airport coffee kiosk to collect my coffee, surrounded by beautiful pictures of mouth watering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso shakes, etc. We all know that they make these pictures so that we’ll buy the drinks, supposing that they’ll taste as good as they look. In my experience, this isn’t true. It seems like we’ve been trained to swallow image like cotton candy and still yearn for tangible substance.

I think the same idea holds true for stuff with Jesus. Let’s be careful that we don’t merely sell the sizzle of Jesus – His benefits, powers, etc but neglect to personify His substance in our daily living. Jesus is way better than images, illusions or elusive cotton candy. His extravagant love, is far more satisfying than words or pictures could describe!

Rest On All Sides

Rest On All Sides

At the end of last week, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Bangladesh for Saving Moses. In our short time there, we accomplished loads of stuff because I think that a person should do everything to maximize their time. Upon returning home, I find myself more than a little spent. I feel puny, my sleep is messed up, my emotions are everywhere & I can’t seem to quiet my brain.
Thankfully, I was able to join our entirely glorious Sunday School class yesterday where we took a deep dive into 2Samuel 7 – a chapter about David wanting to build a temple for God. The first verse of the chapter says that David had “rest on every side.” One of the ladies in our class observed how wonderful this would be to have rest everywhere in our lives! In our discussion, we camped on this idea for awhile & it was amazing!! As I thought about this, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that this rest was available to me not only on the outside, but on the inside as well – rest on every side.
So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to give us rest, maybe more than any place, on the inside with our emotions, thoughts, desires, etc

Stay Simple

I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.

I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!

Still Motion

It seems of late that I’m always going somewhere – AZ, CA, NC, PA etc & it feels like I’m in perpetual motion. This is good because I get to share about the daily & supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. On the other side, I find myself desiring that peace from being still & knowing that God is. With all of the traveling & stresses of work, home, schedules, family etc, we would be wise to learn about carrying peace on the inside. Β In Job 20:20 it says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires.”
Here are some ideas about carrying some quiet in our heads wherever we go:

  • remember to give your anxieties to God
    turn to God as a habit & not just in overwhelm mode
  • let those unexpected cancelled events give you some pause space – don’t fill your schedule to the gills
  • life has seasons, ebb & flow & we would be wise to go with the flow
  • it helps me, on occasion, to sit in my car for a few minutes, with no phone or music & just be still

Carry some quiet in your heart wherever you go!

My Dad’s Blue Eyes

I’m in Pittsburgh & the older gentleman driving me to the airport has blue eyes like my dad. He’s also kind like my dad was so this drive brings back fond memories. When I think about my dad, I often reflect on the Holy Spirit & how the Helper works in my life. In Romans 8, I learn that the Holy Spirit helps me know God as my Heavenly Father. In John 14, I understand that the Holy Spirit is my Heavenly Help throughout each day. I also understand, from John 14, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, leading me into truth & away from deception.

My earthly dad was a big proponent of the Holy Spirit so it’s nice to have this gentle reminder as a whisper as I ride in the car with this nice older gentleman wth blue eyes.

What Do You See?


Presently I’m in Cambodia & this morning I was meandering around one of the neighborhoods where we provide nightcare with Saving Moses. This is always a tough neighborhood for me because of the immensity of the needs I see & feel. But it’s also a warm place for me because of the people I recognize every time, their kindness & warm acceptance. So this morning I was in this neighborhood and kind of taking in everything again. As I looked down one of the alleyways, I saw a small women & waved at her. She smiled quietly back at me. I felt drawn to her, so I walked closer & greeted her in my limited Khmer language. She was warm but respectful so I kept walking closer until I was standing just outside the opening of the space of her home. She was friendly but not overly welcoming. I peaked my head around the corner & observed a woman trying to get herself into sitting position. I could immediately tell that there was a significant physical ailment by the degree of struggle this women undertook to sit up. No joke, it took her between 2-3min to get herself upright. I kept watching to figure out what was going on with her. Her belly was really distended, so initially I thought she was pregnant, but dismissed this immediately because this was something different. She opened her shirt at her belly, revealing a swollen stomach like I’ve never seen, ever. I forced myself to not pull back from shock & tried to process what was wrong. Because I was by myself there was no help for me with any conversation, so I just stood there for what seemed a long time, unsure what to do. As I got my bearings, I felt in my heart that I was to pray for her and that was extremely helpful because I wasn’t just a helpless spectator to her pain & struggle. I stepped into the room and asked if I could pray (by that time, my translator friend came to help me). I began praying for her & also listening in my heart on how / what to pray. Of course I wanted to see some immediate evidence of healing & she did express that the pain she was experiencing was diminishing. I’ll go back tomorrow & check on her.

Seeing things that are atrocious can shock is into freeze mode or we can look to the Holy Spirit to help us be vessels for healing & divine love. Let’s chose love rather than be repelled by sickness & disease!

Go Fast or Slow Down


I like to go fast – snowboarding, quick flights & speedy travel. In the last two weeks, however, our family has taken a “slower” vacation. We’ve driven from Denver, stopping to see relatives & friends, all the way to Washington DC. We are now driving back to Denver from DC. I’ve done the round trip flight from Denver to DC more times than I can count & it takes about 7hours total (including driving & airport security) to fly one way. In contrast, it will take us 2.5 days to drive from DC to Denver, with minimal stops. 
Along this vacation, I’ve noticed some significant advantages to this slower travel stuff:

  • More time to think, pray & explore – rather than focusing on the travel, slowing down allows me the space to pray & process
  • Beauty in various forms – from flat farmlands to the Smokey Mountains & rolling forested hills of West Virginia, there’s beauty everywhere. Being on the ground let’s me experience this beauty & appreciate Gods immense creativity. 
  • Deeper conversations – getting to chat with my relatives & friends face to face has been a great benefit to this slow down approach to travel.

There’s some good wisdom to the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Feeling Groovy”

Slow down, you move too fast.

You got to make the morning last.

Just kicking down the cobble stones.

Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

I pray that you can slow down & enjoy your weekend with the Holy Spirit!

Driving Vacation


We are in the middle of our annual family vacation & this year, we’re driving round trip from Denver to Washington, D.C. So far, we’ve stopped along the way to hang out with family & friends, enjoying some wonderful time to catch up & reconnect. 
Driving is an interesting experience for me because I usually fly & endeavor to make my travel time as short as possible. This kind of travel is a dramatically slower form of getting from point A to B, so it’s an altogether different experience. 

Seems to me that our journey with God has different speeds. We can go through seasons when it seems like we’re moving super fast & making speedy progress. Then there are times when things are going so slowly that it hardly seems like we’re moving at all. Maybe God is more about the fellowship with us along the journey rather than the speed at which we reach our destinations. 

New Places

I like to go new places, so I’m currently enjoying our family vacation, driving from Denver to Washington DC & then back home next week. Presently, were visiting relatives in Missouri & Arkansas, so it’s an efficient road trip, seeing sights, exploring new places & enjoying some fun conversations with family. This idea about visiting new places is right in my wheelhouse: I like going places I’ve never visited before, full stop. 
I think this idea is also relevant to our walk with Jesus. Sometimes it can be easy to get in a rut or even become complacent in our spiritual journey. So maybe it’s worth some time to think about how to freshen up your relationship with Jesus. Here are some possible ideas:

  • Consider taking a few hours this weekend to take a hike with a journal & take some time to listen
  • Think about some possible ways to serve others – soup kitchen, homeless outreach, take a missions trip
  • Slowly read a pet of the Bible that you’re not very familiar with, keeping a pen & paper close for observations
  • Look into joining a Bible study or small group to talk about some of Jesus’ life

Let’s be careful that we keep growing in our walk with God!