Monday, December 7, 2009


december 9th will forever hold significance in my heart. it will always be a day that i reflect on these events and thank God for the sacrifice of my friends. it will always stand as a reminder to me of how fragile life is and to be grateful for each day i am given. it will always cause me to stop and reflect on the miraculous events that kept me and many others only minutes from being right in the midst of it. 2 years later and thinking through all the 'what-ifs' kept me up last night, although it was the first time in a long time and for that i am grateful.

my heart is with my ywam family today and the families of tiff & phil. i know the loss i felt that day which pales in comparison with theirs. i pray God's peace on them today and all those who were touched by tragedy that day.

but i am still filled with hope. hope of a time when tears will cease and joy will be everlasting. it's in that place that tiff & phil now reside and the thought of that comforts me today. they are dancing and laughing and i'm sure enjoying their time in the presence of the almighty. so on this day i take time to remember their sacrifice and to let them know that i have not forgotten. Their legacy of love is part of what drives me today and for that i am so thankful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

tangible love

my day started off with an email from my good friend joyce in zambia. her email said that today, friday november 20th, 38 mattresses were delivered for the musakanya deaf school and i couldn't be more excited! i can rest better tonight knowing that those 38 precious kids will be doing the same. the realization of what was done hasn't fully hit me yet. well, it's starting to hit me now as i type through blurred tears. this is what i want out of my life... to fight injustice with love. sure, it's small in the grand scheme of the world but for those 38 deaf kids this is huge. they now know that someone has heard their silent cry, that they are not forgotten, that they are cared for by strangers halfway across the world.

i wish i could hug each one of you who helped make this possible. you have shown love in such a real, tangible way and for that i am forever grateful. thank you for believing in this vision. we truly have SO much to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

happy birthday to a special girl

dear kyra,

you are 3 years old today. even as i type that i almost can't believe how quickly the time has gone by. you were the one who finally made me an aunt- the job i'd been dreaming about for years. i pretty much missed your first year of life cause God had me all over the world so thanks for not holding that against me. i hope i've more than made up for it though with all the time we spend together now. this is the first time i've been with you on your birthday and i couldn't be more excited!

you are such a spunky, energetic little girl. you make me laugh and smile and shake my head all at the same time. i love that every time i see you i get to hear you say "it's susie!" most of the time you're excited to see me and it makes my heart happy. you see kyra, i'm not sure i could love you any more if i'd birthed you myself. on friday night you cuddled with me for a few minutes (which is a rare feat) and i asked you if you loved me. you replied with an enthusiastic "YES" and i told you how much i loved you. thanks for letting me have that moment kid. i know you don't understand all the mushy-gushy stuff just yet but i'll hold that memory in my heart forever.

i love that sometimes mommy lets you and i have time together, just the 2 of us. those are my favorite times cause it's just you and me and i get to listen to you jabber away about anything and everything. you are such a smart little girl. i'm amazed by how much information you already have in that toddler brain of yours! i'd like to say that you take after me in that sense, but your mom is brilliant so i guess she gets the credit. :)

kyra, i hope you have very special birthday today. i'm so glad i get to spend it with you! you bring me such joy and i'm so glad God entrusted you to be a part of our family. you are so loved by all your grandparents, aunts, uncles, counsins and even soon-to-be cousins! i pray that as you grow you will understand the depth of love that your heavenly father has for you and that He will show you the best ways to express it to the people around you. God has special plans for you. i think you're destined to be an adventurous world-traveler like me and i hope someday we'll have an opportunity to spread God's love together. mom and dad already said you can go to africa with me when you're 13... or was it 15? i'm gonna push for 13. 10 more years kiddo. can't wait.

love you so very much!

aunt susie

Friday, November 6, 2009

recap in photos

the last week has been a pretty intense one for me so i'm going to start with some photos. these first ones are from my incredible vacation to north carolina a couple weeks ago. i stole my dad's canon rebel for the week and had fun taking walks, waking up early and capturing it with the camera.

i really loved this shot of the fishing pole... i don't know why but it just made me happy. the other shot was what my daily mornings consisted of- reading from the Word, indulging in time traveler's wife and drinking delicious coffee all while staring at the waves and even catching some groups of dolphins playing!

when i got home fall had officially arrived in pennsylvania. the trees had all turned and it was absolutely beautiful. last week i drove up to french creek state park and enjoyed a quiet walk in the woods. i once again had snagged my dad's camera and snuck a few shots of God's lovely creation. the colors are so incredible! if i could have my dream wedding it would probably be the end of october when the colors are so vibrant... i just love the reds, oranges and yellows. so warm and calming!

in other news, i purchased a sewing machine last week and i have to say- i'm in love! i'm learning as i go and just having fun. it's gonna be a home-made christmas and i am so excited. so excited in fact that i asked the other people in my office if they thought it was too early to start playing christmas music. they didn't answer but just looked at me like i was crazy. however, this afternoon i have the office to myself and you better believe i've got it playing! less than 50 days till christmas! does that stress anyone out? ;)

now you know who will be busy crafting all weekend!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

will you accept this bone?

ok, so i know i owe all of you an update on my vacation (which was fabulous btw), but i'm a little sidetracked with excitement right now!

i follow a super cute blogger couple ( and they recently started a blog for their adorable little chihuahua named burger. they decided it would be fun to do a dog version of the bachelor and pick out a mate for their pup (just figuratively i think... haha). so i submitted my yorkie daisy and she made the top 25!

i'm living my bachelor fantasies through my dog. how pathetic is that? haha!

needless to say this is super exciting. almost as exciting as the time my other dog snickers (rip good buddy) won 'pet of the year' at millersville university. that was VERY exciting. :)

so go leave daisy some love. she's #18! click here!!!

vacation pictures coming shortly. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


so i hate to break it to all of you but i am posting today from a lovely house right on the beach in beautiful north carolina. yes, it's true- i am on vacation. hallelujah.

when i was in zambia in august a good friend of mine emailed me to invite me to go on a "friendsmoon." my first reaction was probably the same as yours- "what the heck is a friendsmoon?" as i read further in the email i discovered that some awesome women i know decided to plan a vacation just for the ladies... so no men. so kind of like a honeymoon, but just with girls- thus FRIENDSMOON was born. i didn't even read any of the details of the email, but quickly responded with a "heck yes i will go" and figured i'd learn the details later.

turns out the details were a house right on the beach on beautiful topsail island. can i just say that i love north carolina? good, cause i just did. vacationing here is always so fantastic and so far this trip is no exception. we arrived yesterday afternoon and were delighted to see amazing views of the ocean just steps from our 3 story deck.

today i spent my day laying outside, reading books, playing games and getting to know some of these ladies more. right now there are 7 of us, but come thursday the number will jump to 18! yikes! haha! should get interesting!

and currently i am watching first knight... i love me some richard gere. pardon me while i swoon. hope everyone else is having a great week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

scarf swap results!

a big THANK you to abbey for my lovely scarf! i love how versatile it is! with all the beautiful colors i can wear it with almost anything. :)

*update- another shout-out to my awesome sister who came up with this whole scarf swap idea and took this photo of me in my new scarf. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

the good news is so good


that's all i can say.

we reached our target of raising $1,330 to purchase mattress for 38 very deserving deaf kids in zambia, africa... and in less than 10 days! that's why i can't stop saying wow. a big THANK YOU to all who donated, spread the word and said a prayer for these precious children. God has certainly done an incredible thing and He used YOU to do it! i was able to get in touch with my friend joyce, who will be purchasing the mattresses, and she is so excited that we were able to raise the money so fast. she's going to try to get a picture of the kids so i can share it with all of you so stay tuned! (just remember, it's africa though and everything runs a lot slower). :)

today i got to visit linvilla orchards with my sister, brother, sis-in-love, nieces and my friend and her daughter. it was a cold, cloudy day but we had a fabulous time. plus, it allowed me to cross pumpin-picking with my nieces off the to-do list. although, technically there wasn't really any pumpkin-picking going on. there was apple-picking though which was awesome! there is nothing like a fresh granny smith pulled right off the tree. yum! kylie's photo is evidence of that. :)

i did take a road trip to pittsburgh last week, but i wasn't alone. the drive across PA was beautiful. the leaves out in western PA were turning and it was gorgeous! didn't get any pictures sadly, but the memory is still fresh in my mind. man, i just LOVE fall.

and 1 week from today i will be lounging in beautiful topsail beach, nc with a whole bunch of fantastic ladies. this vacation could not come at a better time. i'm really just praying for a refreshing time to rejuvenate and get some fresh vision for next year. africa is of course in the back of my mind and i need some clear direction on how long i'm supposed to go for next year and for how long. so i'm hoping to get some good walks on the beach with jesus. :)

oh yeah! joyce also told me that she got her bible today. i wrote about that here. so it took about a month to get from here to zambia. not too bad! she was so excited which made me really excited! giving gifts makes me so happy. haha. can you tell that's my love language?

hope everyone else is having a lovely fall so far!

ps- my mom, dad and brother are flying home tomorrow from their 10-day mission's trip to romania. keep them in your prayers for safe travels. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

a special request

i know that it probably isn't PC to ask for things on your blog, but since what i'm asking for isn't for me i figure it's ok. you see i'm not the recipient of this request, but 38 deaf children in zambia are. some of you might remember this post that i wrote during the end of my month stay there in august. i shared about how my friend and i visited a deaf school and by the grace of God were able to purchase some much-needed cups, plates and pots for them. what i didn't share was the even greater need that we saw. when we toured the boys & girls dorms we saw lots of bunk beds, but no mattresses. to say we were shocked was an understatement. i can't image what it's like to sleep on wooden slats and no one should have to know what that feels like, but for 38 deaf kids it's their every day reality.

when i tell people this story i can't help but cry. i don't expect other people to get emotional, especially if they haven't seen it with their own eyes but i'd be doing an injustice to those kids if i didn't share what i saw. i believe that knowledge is responsibility and lately the burden of these kids has been heavy on my heart.

i really hate injustice and while i know it runs rampant in this world i don't think that means we give up trying to end it. i plan on spending my life in pursuit of the broken and hurting in this world by leading them to a loving savior and meeting some needs along the way.

there are 38 kids who tonight will sleep on wood boards and that infuriates me with what i hope is a holy anger. so this is my attempt to be a part of a solution. the mattresses cost around $35 each so with 38 kids that's $1330. i figure it we spread the word this need can be met quickly. i've setup this widget with the money is running through the non-profit i work for- hope beyond borders. i know money is tight, but we probably all have a safe, warm bed to sleep in tonight. we can have 1 less pumpkin spice latte this week, skip that dinner out, read to our kids instead of renting a movie and fight injustice in this world.

i'll get off my soapbox now. thanks for showing these kids that they are loved and valued.

just follow the instructions on the widget below to make a donation. every little bit gets us closer.

ps- there is no condemnation if you aren't able to give. i know God will lay it on the hearts of those who should. thanks for listening. God bless.

Friday, October 2, 2009

falling slowly

this post is long overdue. to all my loyal fans (all 2 of you... haha) i apologize. ;)

fall has finally arrived here in PA and with it my first cold of the season. i've been doing my best to fight it off with OTC medication but i don't think it's working so a doctor's visit might be in order. i really don't enjoy doctor's visits which is obvious considering the fact that i haven't been there in over a year. what can i say? i'm blessed with a strong immune system. i know, i know, it's still not really an excuse especially when my doctor is so nice. he's a christian and always offers to pray for you when the visit is over. how cool is that? very.

another clue of the changing seasons is obviously the temperature. we haven't turned the heat on yet and i woke up feeling like a frozen popsicle. the thermostat said 63. not good. i'd say it's time to turn the heat on except the weather forecast shows that we're going to hit 74 in a couple days. what is up with that? this whole summer/fall transition thing is strange. this time last year i was sweating out my days and nights in africa. i remember talking to my family on the phone and while they were telling me about the increasingly colder temperatures i was lamenting about waking up drenched in my own sweat every morning. (gross i know, but so very true).

even with all it's oddities i still love this time of year. so in honor of my favorite season i have decided to make a list of things i want to do before the dreaded winter sets in. i know this isn't anything new as i've seen lots of people do this, but i figured it was my turn. so here it is in no particular order:
  • rake a pile of leaves and jump in just like i did when i was 5 :)
  • go pumpkin-picking with my nieces and take lots of beautiful pictures of them
  • get some friends together and take an autumn night hayride
  • take a road-trip by myself and stop whenever i want at beautiful places
  • drink lots and lots of chai tea
  • carve something really unique into a pumpkin (i've seen some really cool ideas already)
  • spend a week at the beach (oct 18-25 watch out NC i'm coming for ya)
  • read read and read some more! make lots of time to just relax and engulf myself in some good fiction.
  • buy a sewing machine and get crafty (i realize this has nothing to do with fall but i am dying to turn more of my beautiful african fabric into lovely things)
  • try out some new fall baking recipes
that's probably enough for now, although i'm sure there's more.

oh and please keep my mom, dad and brother in your prayers. they leave on sunday for a 10-day missions trip to romania. when my dad invited me to go i had just gotten back from zambia and didn't want to think about another trip that soon. even though i still feel peace about not going, i'm still a little sad. the people there are so wonderful and i'll miss not being with them. i'm hoping to get there next spring though, so we'll see. it doesn't take long for the travel bug to bite.

but for now i will enjoy my pennsylvania autumn since i haven't seen it in a couple years. happy fall everyone!

Monday, September 21, 2009

trash to treasure

people always say that when you're trying to find something you should stop looking for it. most times i agree with that (except when it's referring to a husband- come on now- what 27 year old single female isn't looking? but i digress...). i've been searching for a couple side chairs for the office that i work in. if you've forgotten or you're new to this blog then i'll remind you that i work for a non-profit and our offices are located in the basement of a church. i've done my best to fix up the offices and make them as comfortable and functional as possible on a pretty low budget. remember, non-profit basically means that there isn't much money for extras like side chairs. so my looking has consisted of craigslist (and even that's been too expensive), yard sales and thrift stores.

on saturday i found myself out with my mom on what was an incredibly beautiful day. we had breakfast at one of my favorite diners and then we stopped by a flea market at a church across the street. i came across some really cute charms that i intend on using in some necklaces (another one of my hobbies) and told my mom that i wanted to head to goodwill to checkout their jewelry selection. i've scored some really cute stuff there for way cheap. so we made our way to goodwill and as soon as i stepped through the doors i spotted them. there they were- 2 side chairs just sitting there waiting to be refinished and turned into something adorable for the office. i looked at the price tag and was delighted to find it read $2.97 each. $2.97!!! holy cow that's cheap! i grabbed them quick as i could before someone else got 'em, snagged a few finds from the jewelry counter and was on my merry way.

next stop was the friendly ace hardware store next door where i grabbed some sandpaper and 2 cans of black spray paint. i didn't get around to my project until today but i was so pleased with the results. here's what it looked like when i brought it home from goodwill:

pretty simple, nice comfy cushion, sturdy construction. it was exactly what i was looking for! i sanded both chairs and got to spraying. thankfully i spent the extra buck and got those new handy-dandy spraypaint cans with the trigger. so much easier on the fingers! after 2 coats and some time outside to dry i got to my reupholstering. now, i do not claim to know what i'm doing when it comes to reupholstering furniture, but a simple seat cushion i can handle. i was really excited, too because i used fabric that i brought back from zambia. i love the textiles there. the colors and patterns are so unique and different from what you find here. they sell the material in 2 meter sections and they call them 'chitenges.' they are usually worn as a skirt by wrapping and tying them around their waist, but i've found plenty of other uses for them here: pillows, picture frames, wall art and now furniture!

so i went through my collection of over 30 chitenges (yikes, did i just admit that?) and found the perfect one. it was just the right size to cover both cushions and i couldn't be more pleased with the result. i can't wait to put these in the office tomorrow and complete the little seating area. so fun! here's the after result:

i'll have to take a picture of them in their new home and show you how it looks. i love simple, easy and cheap (under $25 for both chairs) projects like this, especially when i get to use things i already have, like fabric and a staple gun! hopefully i've inspired you to tackle that project that's sitting on the back burner, cause we all know how good it feels to get something done.

also a big thanks to my sister kate for having me over for dinner tonight. i helped her out with some stuff so i know she was just returning the favor but it was delicious. don't let her fool you, her domestic diva-ness has come a long way.

hope everyone has a great day! keep your eyes open cause you never know- that thing you've been looking for might just show up today. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

odd musings

ever have one of those weeks where it feels like you're in the middle of a million things and you can't seem to get any of them done? yeah, i'm totally having one of those. my brain is on overload and i can't seem to focus on any one of the million things for more than 5 seconds. including blogging. therefore, this post will be short because i have a class at church in 20 minutes.

is is the weekend yet? i know, it's close and i couldn't be more ready for it. just need to get through another 24 hours and then i can turn my brain off for 2 days.

plus i've gotten migraines for the past 2 days! is anyone else going through this? i think it's the changing of the seasons. a few days ago it was 80 degrees and today it barely reached 60. that must be it, cause i rarely get migraines. i just wish fall would completely arrive. this part summer/part autumn thing is annoying. i'm an all or nothing kind of girl!

this post is so scattered, but i felt bad about leaving my blog so bare. haha. oh well. we all need a post like this every once in a while i suppose. hope everyone else is having a better week. hopefully i'll be back soon with something more interesting and cheerful. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


every once in a while you get the privilege of meeting someone who truly inspires you and makes you want to be a better person. in my last few years of traveling the globe i've come across some amazing people and i want to dedicate this post to one of them.

in september of 2007 i took my first journey to zambia, africa- a place that has since captured my heart. after flying 18-hours and driving another 9 in-country, i reached the little village that was my destination. at the end of my 2-week trip i met a woman in a nearby town named Joyce. Joyce was a spunky Zambian full of life and joy. i learned that she ran an NGO (non-government-organization) called PVCW (short for Program for Vulnerable Children & Women). that first year i had no idea if i would ever see this woman again. at that time i had no idea why God had sent me to that country, only that He said "GO". and for the record, i was a bit intimidated... i mean your first time in africa can be a little scary when you have no idea what to expect and the only images in your head are from movies that mostly depict the tragedy of the continent.

when i returned to zambia in september of 2008, this time staying 3 months, i made it a point to go and visit joyce again. my philosophy is that the more people you know in a foreign country, the better. it can't hurt to know people and trust me, this theory has proved itself over and over as i've found myself in strange situations. when i would take my weekly trips into town for the necessities (cold coke, chicken and internet access) i made it a point to stop by joyce's office and chat with her. during one of those chats she invited me (and the friend who was living there with me) to accompany her on a trip to a strange place called Nbwalya (pronounced nuh-bwal-ya). you can read all about that crazy trip here. while the experience was interesting to say the least, it cemented my friendship with joyce. it was on that trip that she shared with me her love for the women & children of Zambia and the dreams God had given her to help them. she told me stories of villages that she regularly visits and the ways she trains and empowers women to provide for their family by teaching them farming, hygiene, sewing, food-making and much more. "but" she said to me, "i always teach them to read first and then have them study women in the bible who God used to do amazing things." it might seem strange, but it's exactly what they need. many women in rural Zambia are treated lower than men and it has perpetuated this cycle of women believing that they are only good to cook, clean and make babies which couldn't be any farther from the truth.

to put it simply, the work Joyce is doing is wonderful and very needed. she is a single woman who has become a spiritual mother to many. every time i sit in her office numerous people drop by just to say hello to her. this year while i was in her office i met a young man named abraham who was deaf, which led me to learn about the needs of the deaf school and ultimately to the incredible story you can read about here. abraham, was quick to tell me (by writing it) that Joyce is like a mother to the deaf children in the community. when they have a need, she does her best to fill it. Joyce does all of this work with absolutely no salary. whatever donations are received for her organization get put right into the needs of the communities. she lives completely on faith that God will provide for her. i am so humbled by her committment and her service.

before i left Zambia Joyce told me that she would really like a King James Bible. i couldn't find one there so i just purchased one here at home and had her name inscribed on it. it will be put to good use. Joyce is up from 4-6am every morning leading a group of people in her village in a prayer meeting. now that is dedication. like i said, i'm humbled. so i'm going to send that to her along with some pictures and few other things i purchased for her. it's a small gesture of appreciation for the love she's shown me over the past few years and the inspiration she has been to me. i only hope i can leave a legacy of love like she has. thank you Joyce for the sacrificial love you have shown to the people of Zambia and to the foreigners who pass through your town.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

bye bye 26

i have to give major kudos to my mom for my birthday present. now i know it might not seem creative and heck it was easy to do, but for me it meant a lot!

yes, gift cards.

now i know how easy it is to find gift cards these days. gas stations all over the country are allowing us to be last-minute shoppers thanks to those handy-dandy gift card stands, but i must say that getting a bag full of gift cards was so much fun! here's what i got: kohl's, applebees, wawa, amazon, starbucks, chili's, itunes, panera bread, subway, and cvs. let's just say it was a lot of money and this present is going to last me weeks!!! plus, another friend gave me a starbucks gift card, too and my bff gave me one to a local spa so i can get a facial! my lovely sissy gave me a shirt, shoes and earrings. had to return the shirt cause it didn't fit but i got a super cute sweater instead!

my parent's had a business dinner in philly tonight so i went out with some of my siblings and a few friends and we had fun. we were supposed to go to on-the-border for some good old mexican food but they were closed!!! apparently they had some plumbing issues. we ended up at applebees instead which is a sad replacement, but it ended up ok. they sang to me and i got a hot fudge sunday that my lovely niece kyra shared with me. she was literally feeding me with the spoon and even managed to keep me clean!

a quick target run with my sis-in-love ended the evening and it was fantastic. and we all know how much i love target. :)

27 is looking good so far.

they say it's my birthday

today is my 27th birthday, but that's not what i'm writing about. last night as i was lying in bed attempting to drift into dreamland i realized that my mind hadn't gotten the memo and was still moving way too fast. so i started wondering why it is that this always happens to me. almost every night before i fall asleep i'm consumed with thoughts of things i should have done that day, things i need to do tomorrow and everything else in between. many nights i find myself on the verge of a panic attack because of all the overwhelming feelings i have. i think i discovered why this happens. distractions.

or perhaps i should say, lack-thereof? unless i zonk out to the tv (which i hate doing) my time in bed right before i fall asleep is one of the few times during the day when i'm not distracted by something... tv... internet... books... other people. it's the only time that my mind actually gets to sit and process and reflect.

i really need to be better about taking time first thing in the morning to just listen and reflect on what needs to be done instead of pushing it off until the next day which i am oh-so-good at. i need to motivate myself to get moving and start crossing those things off my to-do list. how wonderful would it be to start every day like that?

but today is my birthday. so i think i'll start tomorrow. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009


what is about that store that sucks me in every time?

it could be the starbucks perched right inside the entrance with the soy chai latte sweetly calling my name. let's face it, perusing your favorite store only gets better when you've got your favorite drink in hand. has such a calming effect on me.

it could also be the dollar spot that i spent the first 15 minutes scrutinizing. do i need more random office supplies to clutter my desk? no, but they're just so darn cute. however, my niece kyra definitely needs the sesame street coloring book, stickers and figurines that i scored there today. what 2 year old doesn't?

i guess it could also be the trendy clothes section that leaves me drooling to be a hipper version of myself. with it's $5 leggings and always-full clearance racks i'm often in trouble. did i mention shoes? does it matter that i own 10 pairs of flats? but the ones i found are just so cute and at $12.99 i almost don't have to feel guilty! let's not even talk about jewelry... ok well maybe just a little bit. cutest earrings and necklaces ever and i convince myself that 1 necklace won't hurt even though there is absolutely NO ROOM left on my super-cute jewelry board my sister made me.

i suppose it could also be the home-decor section that leaves me longing for my own house. today i actually contemplated buying a clearanced ottoman and storing it in a spare bedroom in my parent's house. in fact i'm still considering cause at $59 it was a steal.

basically target has it all. including my heart.

did i just admit that on my blog? yikes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

we all need our sisters

so i've been home for a few days now and my body is slowing starting to adjust to a new time zone. i really can't complain, the jet lag hasn't been near as bad as it could be. for the most part i'm doing quite well. i pushed myself pretty hard this weekend and did way too much but there were just so many people that i wanted to see!

yesterday i got a text from a friend and she asked me to come over while her and another friend made and canned tomato sauce. so i went and i ended up having an amazing time. it's so funny how God knows exactly what you need and who you need at certain times. conversation flowed so freely and i felt so encouraged knowing i wasn't alone in my thoughts and feelings. at the end of the conversation i was thanking my one friend for being there and she said, "we all need our sisters." it's so true. female companionship is such a beautiful and special thing. i don't know what happens when most guys get together other than beer-drinking, sports-talking and noise-making, but i know that a lot of 'girl time' is spent in heart-to-heart conversation. God gave us females this uncanny ability to express our emotion through verbal communication and while some are better at it than others, it's still an integral part of our relationships.

last night around 8:30 i felt myself again needing some quality girl time and my sister and best friend were right there when i needed them. they dropped what they were doing at that moment, met me and assured me i wasn't crazy in my feelings at that moment. they gave me my sanity back and for that i am forever grateful.

there are a lot of times where i enjoy being alone and don't want to be bothered by people, but the truth is that i need them. especially all my sisters.

besides, everyone needs a good vent over ice cream once in a while, right? ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

love in action yields a beautiful harvest

oh zambia. you've done it to me again. every time i visit you i lose a piece of my heart. the beautiful faces of your people capture me at first sight and draw me in. the precious smiles of your children chip away at this icy heart bit by bit until it's completely melted. the simplicity with which you carry out life intrigues me and calls this technical, complicated body to be still and reflect on what really matters. you always give me tears, but plenty of laughter, too. although you drive me crazy at times and make me shake my head, i still love you and i will return.

we left the village yesterday morning and once again i had to say goodbye to my friends (some new, some old, but all special). goodbye's really never get easier... in fact the closer you become to the people and places you are saying goodbye to- the harder it actually gets because those people and that place begin to feel more like home.

our time went way too fast, but i knew that would happen. 1 month simply isn't long enough and i'm left wanting more of what i can't have- time. sure i miss my creature comforts and sleeping in a bed last night (instead of on the floor of a tent) felt fabulous, but those are such minor things in comparison with what i've seen and experienced. every time i come here i'm overwhelmed by what little people have and the conditions in which they live 24/7. most don't know any different, but it still breaks my heart.

last week allison and i got a chance to visit a deaf school in town. they have 37 deaf students from around the district who come and live there 9 months out of the year to receive an education. the condition of the place where they live though is so sad. there are plenty of bunk beds, but no mattresses. kids literally sleep on the wood boards or some who are lucky bring a reed mad. there are literally only a few plates so the kids have to eat in small shifts which can take hours. plus, we are talking about deaf kids who according to the woman who takes care of them, can be very violent at times. it's an overwhelming job and this women does it for $40 USD a month. after i saw that i was overwhelmed with the feeling that something had to be done. i couldn't see it and just walk away. thankfully allison felt the same way and on monday we went back to town and purchased 40 plates, 40 cups and 3 pots. we trotted our way through town with our bundle of goodies, feeling a bit like santa claus. when we arrived at the deaf school and they saw what we had brought the tears and smiles started flowing. you would have thought we gave them a million dollars! i was so humbled and overwhelmed that this small act could bring such joy. plates? cups? really? REALLY! the caretaker through tears told our interpreter that many visitors come through her place promising to do something and it never happens. she was so surprised and blessed to see someone keep their word.

i tell you this story not to bring glory to me. i haven't done anything. i signed to her, "glory to God" because he's the one who deserves it all. it's only by His grace that i'm in this nation, able to love these people. i tell you that also to challenge you. how many times have you seen a need and wanted to do something? did you think, "oh i'll do it later" and then never get around to it? i know i have! let's start looking around us and MEET THE NEED! it could be as simple as purchasing a plate or as complex as opening your home to a stranger. let's be compelled to LOVE those around us in practical ways! love requires action!
ok, i'll get off my soapbox now...
there are countless other stories i could share with you and hopefully i will when i get home. tomorrow morning allison and i begin our long journey home. we arrive at jfk around noon on friday. i can't wait to see all of you!
God has and continues to show himself faithful. this trip has been incredible in so many ways and more stretching than i thought possible. it all draws me closer to Him, which is ultimately the goal, right?
with love from zambia,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

zam update with photos

i'm in town again today running some errands so i figured i'd give a little update and attempt to post some pictures as well. we're buying some material for the women's sewing group and i'm hoping to bless my friends with the purchase of a new mattress as well. they have a twin mattress on a queen-size bed with 3 people sleeping there so you can understand the need.

last time i wrote i commented on the crazy wind and it has only gotten crazier. it's been freezing cold the last few days and the wind has picked up even more which creates these insane dust-like storms causing you to run for cover. allison and i keep laughing about the weather because everyone expects africa to be burning hot all the time, but it isn't. we've been layering ourselves with our clothes every night before we go to sleep... and earplugs are a must, otherwise the sound of the wind against your tent will keep you awake! i say that from experience! haha!

we've been having a great tim hanging out in the village, though. the kids come to our house daily and just want to hang out and play. they are so much fun to be around (although sometimes exhausting) and we do enjoy their company. they're quick to lend a hand when you're carrying a bag and quick to grab your free hand in theirs. it's nice to connect with them in that way and that they feel so free to be near you. the kids are definitely one of my favorite things about this country. if i could come here and just love on kids 24/7 i'd be just fine!

yesterday i met with some members of the executive committee and got some upates on different projects happening in the village. it was really encouraging to hear how things are progressing and the way this community is stepping up. the water project is progressing fast! almost all the trenches for the pipes have been dug and at the end of the week they are going to start building the platforms for the tanks. the village is so excited about this project and everyone has been doing their part which is really awesome.
the next couple days will be busy for us as we'll be working with the women in the sewing groups. we're hoping to purchase a couple more sewing machines with a donation we received. i'm asking the women to sew as many bags as they can before we leave next week so we can bring them home to the U.S. and hopefully sell them. they've been doing a great job and the bags are so cute! it's so amazing seeing these women learning a trade that they otherwise would have never learned. i love that we're able to give them an opportunity to learn and eventually help support their families. it's so incredible!!!
for all of you who have been asking, yes i am feeling better! the cold is finally gone- hallelujah! i've been really exhausted the last week or so. i think after the team left it really hit me. today i'm feeling ok so hopefully i'm on the upswing.
thanks for all the prayers! keep sending them our way! a week from today we'll be leaving the village and spending a day in lusaka before we head home. this month has gone by way too fast, but i'm thankful for the time i've gotten here.
thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

don't let me blow away

i just wrote a long email that i sent out to a bunch of people regarding the trip and this computer won't let me copy and paste it. tia.*

the team left yesterday so now it's just me and allison and a village of a few thousand people. no biggie. haha. seriously though, it's good. last night it was so quiet that we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. we were so tired we hit the sack at 8 o'clock. a few hours later we were woken up by the craziest wind ever. it felt like our tent was being sucked up by a tornado or something. we both woke up with our hearts pounding and then took a little while to fall back asleep. we woke up bright and early around 6am this morning so we could catch a ride to town. our food supply is pretty low and i wanted to get online and check some emails.

i got hit a few days ago with a cold that has progressed into a full out chest cold, complete with painful coughing and way too much mucus. sorry for the tmi, but it's true. one of my friend's moms here keeps checking in on me to make sure i'm ok. thankfully my mom left me with a z-pack so i'm hoping it knocks it out soon.

sorry for the lack of details but my time is short for today. i've already spent way too much time online catching up on my family's blogs. oh well, maybe next time.

thanks for the prayers! keep 'em coming our way!

*this is africa.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

village arrival

hello everyone!

i'm writing to you at the end of our first full day in the village. we arrived yesterday afternoon with few complications on the drive. we had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning because 3 team members took a bus to the village along with all 22 of our bags. God was so merciful to us and allowed the bus company to handle all of our bags for only $30. absolutely incredible!
the bus arrived in the village about an hour after the rest of the team who came on the mango tree minibus. we were greeted by a lot of children who were anxiously awaiting our arrival. as we drove through the village kids starting calling out my name and as you can imagine my heart swelled with joy at seeing them all again.

we took the team to see the mango tree and it's in even better condition than when we left. the employees have done an incredible job keeping up with everything. they work really hard!
last night we spent several hours around a campfire with over 20 children. we sang songs and danced and enjoyed getting to know each other. it's so wonderful having a team member who plays guitar. our worship times have been so sweet and it continually draws us back to the presence of God. when we woke up this morning you could literally feel God's spirit in our camp. it was so peaceful.

we spent the morning with the village at a big welcoming ceremony. there were speeches and dancing. it was a great time of hearing how things are progressing in the community and very encouraging. the women's sewing group has been busy making beautiful bags that we hope to take home to sell. we need to get them some more sewing machines though! there are a lot of women in this village who want to participate!

this afternoon the team is hanging out with some of the youth from the village. they're playing soccer and sharing testimonies. i came to town to get more water for the team and to send this update.

God is doing really good things. there is a great annointing on this team for ministry and we're only at the beginning of it! keep praying for God's eyes to see those in need around us. just this afternoon we prayed for an elderly man in the village who is often drunk. he ate lunch with us and we prayed for him. at the end of the prayer he was crying like a child and his countenance had completely changed. it was amazing. pray that the work God started will be finished!
tomorrow the guys will start digging trenches for the new water system for the village. in the afternoon we'll be spending a few hours at the local school doing a vacation bible school with 120 kids. we're excited about this opportunity to speak into their lives!

thanks for the love and prayers. keep sending them our way. we've only just begun!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

africa arrival

i'm writing from zambia! yay!!!!

it feels so crazy being here again. in some ways it's almost like i never left. i literally stepped off the plane with such joy in my heart. i started yelling, "i feel like i'm home!" this guy in front of me was chuckling but i was serious. in many ways i feel like zambia is a 2nd home to me with a 2nd family.

my reunion with some of my friends was exciting! we couldn't stop hugging each other and pinching ourselves to make sure it was real. haha. they were all so excited to meet my mom. they all call her "mama" which is precious. it's been really fun watching the team interact with them and we haven't even gotten to the village yet!

anyways, back to our arrival. we got here with no problems and only 1 bag is missing so far. hopefully that shows up today! our sleeping situation is a little more crowded than we intended but it's working out ok. the girls are sleeping in 1 room that has a double bed in it and then we had them put 5 mattresses on the floor. it's crowded, but cozy! it's helping us bond much quicker though which is awesome.

we all slept almost 12 hours last night which is good cause most of us were running off of 48 hours with no sleep! this morning i took the team to a great little cafe where we had a yummy breakfast and fruit smoothies! now the team is browsing around a huge craft market picking up some fun souvenirs. in a few minutes we'll be heading off to visit some friends of ours who started an NGO here in Lusaka. it's called Joy Human Development Centre. they are artisans who make crafts and use the funds to help children. they run soccer and educational programs. really awesome guys. i'm excited for the team to meet them and see their operation. we have a bag full of soccer balls and cleats for them which i know they'll be grateful to receive!

we need to get to bed early tonight because tomorrow at 6am we head up north to the village. it will be an 8 hour drive and then there will be many more exciting reunions with our friends there! from that point on we'll be sleeping in tents with no running water and no electricity. let the good times roll! haha! it should prove interesting! seriously though, this team is strong so they can handle it.

i can't explain how happy i feel to be back here and to be with this group of people. they are amazing individuals, each with incredible God-given gifts for this time and place. i can't wait to see the ways God will use that to bring glory to His name.

i love and miss you all!

in His love and service,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

let's go already

tomorrow is D-day... as in departure day. this will be my 3rd trip to zambia and i can honestly say that anticipation is killing me. i detest the last couple days before a big trip with all the packing and last minute shopping runs and then the goodbye's. it's just so draining. but i know it will all be worth it when i see the faces of my dear friends. sure i might be bleary-eyed from 48 hours of travel but that won't concern me then.

oh zambia, how you've captured my heart in such a special way.

it's hard to describe the feeling of going back this time. after living there for 3 months last fall i was able to develop such deep bonds with the people. when i went in 2007 i only stayed for 2 weeks and it wasn't hard to leave. i'm not one to usually bond with people that quickly. during my 3 months last year the bonds were really formed and i came to depend on those relationships. they became my brothers and sisters and some of my dearest friends. when i left in november i didn't know how i was going to manage without them and it has been hard. it's like there's this piece of me missing and this other side of my life that no matter how much i try to share with people here, i just can't. i feel in a way that by going back to zambia i'm going to be able to re-claim that part of me that's been a little lost.

of course i'll find it only to probably lose it again when i leave after a month. let's not talk about that just yet.

i should really finish packing. ugh.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

to have a friend you must be a friend

do you ever have those moments where there are a million things you want to blog about and you don't know which topic to choose? yeah, i'm totally having one of those moments. decisions, decisions, decisions!

ok, ok i'll choose.

so the last few weeks i've really been dwelling on the concept of friendship. something i certainly tend to take for granted at times. i think reality has just really hit me regarding some relationships that i thought were closer than they probably were. let me explain why. ever heard of the 5 love languages? it's this theory that there are 5 main ways we give and receive love: physical touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service and words of affirmation... something along those lines. so basically every person is kind of wired to give and receive love the majority of the time through 1 way. yes, we can (and should) all learn to be more balanced in this but the reality is that many of us aren't. as a result of these "love languages" we can actually harm and hinder our relationships with others.

let me explain.

i'm going to use my relationship with my bff as an example (hope you don't mind lyr). lyryn's main love language is quality time. in order for her to feel loved by those closest to her she needs to spend time with them, even if that means sitting together watching tv or catching the latest chick flick. so as her best friend the most loving thing for me to do is to show her i love her by spending time with her. is that what i do? certainly not often enough. why? one of the main ways i show love is by giving gifts, whether that's picking out a trendy necklace on one of my around-the-world adventures or buying a cute outfit for her adorable little boy. so if i continue to show lyryn love only through the mode in which i'm most comfortable, without regard for the way she most receives it, is that really loving? sure my intentions are good, but they're mainly selfish because it makes me feel good to give love in the way i'm most comfortable. heavy, huh?

granted we all need to learn how to give and receive love in various ways but part of learning to love others is learning how to show them. i have by no means figured this all out and i am definitely still in the learning process. it's just something that i have really been thinking about lately. i mainly receive love through gifts and acts of service. while quality time is great, it's not a necessity for me in a relationship. sounds silly doesn't it? it feels kind of silly writing it. how can you even have a relationship without quality time? i'm not saying i don't need it at all, just maybe not as much as others. a big part of that could be that i've been single for the last 26 years so i've learned to be independent. unfortunately the lack of a need for quality time has certainly hurt relationships over the years. i'm really starting to see that now.

it's hard when you realize that you aren't as close to people as you think you are. i take full responsibility for many of these failed relationships. i recognize that i fall short on initiating time together with these people and it hurts. i've done a lot of self-examination and i realize that my views on friendship are really different than the average person. i don't have time on this post to go into it all. i'm still trying to figure it out myself. God is slowly revealing things to me and i'm working through it and what it means from here on out.

to those relationships that i've hurt or let fall to the wayside, i'm sorry.

so in an attempt to love my bff more i'm driving to baltimore tomorrow to spend time with her while she's on a business trip. it was going to be a surprise but she figured it out thanks to my oh-so-obvious mom. haha. it's ok though. the main point is to show her that i love her and value our relationship. ultimately that should be our goal with the people that we love, right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

we could all use more SNO days

a couple months ago my lovely siblings and i hopped a train to philly to eat some yummy food and catch a matt wertz concert. we had a fabulous time hanging out, laughing, taking pictures and making fond memories with one another. mom and dad graciously watched the kiddos for us and it was so fun to just kick back and relax. while we were eating dinner at a cute outdoor table in philly we all decided that this must be a reoccuring event.

after a string of emails this week we decided that we needed another SNO (that's code for Sibling Night Out). unfortunately little wit wasn't there cause he's visiting friends in boston so the rest of us hit the town in good 'ole west chester. we unanimously decided to eat at Kooma where you can get the most incredible sushi. seriously, the food was amazing. the atmosphere is a little loud, but if you can move past that it's really enjoyable.

after stuffing ourselves full of raw fish we decided to top it off with ice cream from wc scoop. we scoured the freezer looking for our perfect flavor and found a table in the back. i had just found phase 10 dice at a store earlier that day and tucked it in my purse for such an occassion. so we ate our ice cream and played phase 10 dice (which is so much faster and easier than regular phase 10. it's great for travel!) we literally laughed the whole time and booed at kate who shamefully beat us all.

i think it was a night we all needed after a stressful couple weeks. we did miss wit (especially me being the 5th wheel with those married folk)... haha. i feel super blessed having some awesome siblings. it's like we were made for each other or something. ;)

and i must say i have an awesome brother & sister-in-love. they blend so well into our family it's hard to remember what we were like without them. plus they make my brother and sister EXTREMELY happy which couldn't make me happier so it all works out.

by the end of the night we all decided that we could all definitely use more SNO days.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

dear kylie joy joy

it's hard to believe that 1 year ago today i was racing to paoli hospital with my bff behind the wheel to meet you little one. i remember exactly where we were on the 30 bypass when i got the text message from your daddy that you had arrived. boy, were we excited to meet you! lyryn was particularly anxious to get her camera on your beautiful face and we are all so grateful that she did. i'll never forget how beautiful your momma looked that night. she was literally glowing and didn't look like she'd just delivered you. she was so calm and peaceful which is probably why you came out that way, too.

unfortunately only 6 weeks after you were born i left the country for 3 months. while i was in zambia your mommy would call me and tell me all the latest things you were doing. she always remarked about what a good baby you were and how much you were growing. the day i came home from africa i literally couldn't wait to see you. i came with aunt katie to visit you that same day (after not sleeping for over 24 hours). thankfully your mom was ready with camera in hand to document the special moment.

the last 7 months or so have passed in a blur as i've watched you learn to grab things, babble in your adorable little baby voice and crawl at lightening speed when something catches your eye. it's been a joy to watch you change every week as you discover new things that you can do. it's obvious you adore your big sissy and i know you 2 will grow to be best friends just like me and aunt katie. it's hard to explain a sisterbond to people who've never experienced it and i'm glad i won't have to with you. you'll just know. :)

kylie joy, you truly have brought so much joy into my life. every time i see you i'm greeted with the biggest smile and you have no idea how much my heart leaps every time. you are so full of love and i pray that always stays with you. i know God has wonderful plans for you little one. i feel honored to be your aunt and to get to watch you grow up.

so happy 1st birthday ky-ky. i love you sooooooooooo much!!!!


Monday, July 13, 2009

not me monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

  • it hasn't been 6 weeks since i posted a 'not me monday' post. i wasn't really consistent at first and then completely fall off the bandwagon. no way. my life is way too organized for that.
  • i didn't throw a white blanket in the washing machine with my dark brown sheets and assume everything was going to be ok. i didn't then have to get scolded by my mother when she discovered my now pink blanket and have to listen to her instruct me on the proper ways to do laundry. i didn't roll my eyes the entire time and give her some bs excuse for my incompetence. not me!
  • i most definitely did not have a complete lack of focus at work this past week and feel like i accomplished nothing. i am much better at managing my time than that.
  • i did not shed buckets of tears this entire week, mostly in part to my raging pms. i did not then have legitimate reasons to cry all weekend as well. my life and the lives of my friends and family are way too perfect to give me any reason to do that much weeping.
  • i did not allow the enemy to lie to me on sunday morning and tell me that i was alone. i didn't let myself feel rejected and ostercized and then allow it to affect the rest of my day. nope, not me!
  • i didn't get a little embarressed when my niece kyra grabbed fake flowers out of the vase at our table in chik-fil-a today, thinking it was a duster, and proceeded to "clean" the floor and walls of the restaurant. i didn't get frustrated when she ignored my attempts to get her to stop. i didn't act like nothing happened when her mom returned from the bathroom. kesh will not find this out when she reads my blog. i am way to chill for that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

confessions of a sinner

i've been meaning to post about this for a couple days but couldn't find the time to actually sit down and write it. part of that is probably because writing it makes it more real and fessing up to it (especially on the internet) means i can't hide behind a facade of perfection. who really wants to wear that heavy mask all day anyway, right? my arms have certainly grown weary of trying to hold it up so this is my attempt to put it down.

it's funny how surprised i get sometimes when i'm able to relate to authors in the bible. i shouldn't be surprised though; after all, they were all humans like me with failures and shortcomings. i think growing up in a christian environment you find yourself putting those people on a pedestal without even realizing it. the more you read the scriptures though the more you discover how much they wrestled and struggled with their own weaknesses and you realize they're no different than you are.

look at king david. God called him "a man after my own heart" and yet he was a liar, an adulturer, a murderer... the list goes on. what was it that made God say that? i think it was david's recognition of his own depravity and his ultimate need and desire for God. he KNEW he failed over and over and yet each time found himself falling at God's feet. read pslam 51. he lays it all out there- a cry of repentance that goes deep. as i read that i feel my own heart bursting out in the same manner, "have mercy on me o God..."

all that to say that i have failed this week in so many ways. i've allowed myself to turn to other sources for comfort, fulfilment and happiness and yet i still feel so empty. why, oh why do i continue to act as if i can do things on my own? why am i trying to be so independent? what am i trying to prove? i've lost my focus this week and it's trickled down to every area of my life. i can feel this cloud around me threatening to swallow me up. the pressure is building and i find myself sucumbing to it.

as i read the words of paul in romans 7, i wonder how it is that he's read my mind? how can his sentiments echo mine so closely?

"I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?*

why am i so drawn to the things that keep me from separated from the person i need the most? this flesh vs. spirit battle is exhausting and yet it's one i know i'm going to fight for the rest of my life. and so even though i still don't fully understand it and even though it will take multiple times to sink in i'll press on. i refuse to stay on this sinking ship and i might get tired of trying to keep my head above water but i'll remember how paul wraps up that set of verses:

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.*

*Romans 7:14-25 (The Message)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

crossing the pond

well my trip to england was amazing. first time there and i hope it won't be my last. honestly, i could live there. you get the whole other culture experience but everyone speaks english... sort of. haha.

seriously though, it is an incredibly beautiful country and we got to see so much of it thanks to my amazing friend jenny. we road-tripped all over and toured big country houses, made new friends at barbecues, saw all the sights of london and so much more. my dad was gracious enough to let me take his canon rebel so i was the designated photographer which i enjoyed greatly! here are some of my favorite shots from the trip: