"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
~ Isaiah 40: 11

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fake pretzels, pink crocs, and more

"Laughter is inner jogging" - Norman Cousins

Without laughter life would be as bland and boring as a hot fudge Sunday without the hot fudge. A funny moment happened at work last week. I was covering a girl's lunch break at Food Avenue - the concession area at Target. I thought I knew how to do most of the basic stuff like make the pizzas and get the popcorn. Well, the first guest asked for a pretzel and there is a case of pretzels displaying the different flavors and I thought I could open it and just give one to her - like the cookie case. So I tried pulling different ways and the case would not budge. The woman - who really wanted her pretzel - started trying to pry the thing open. Finally I went and got my coworker from Starbucks. I said - "Jenny how do you open this blasted pretzel case." Her face lit up and she just started cackling with laughter. I found out (after Jenny recovered) that the case was full of fake plastic pretzels. The real ones were in the back and I had to prepare them. Well, the company did a good job because I and the guest thought they were real! It was really funny. I was laughing, the guest was laughing, and Jenny had to go in the back and catch her breath. So all this to say be careful of the fake pretzels.

Another fun thing that I have discovered in the last year are crocs. They rock. Mine are not a usual color though. They are pink. If you know anything about me I am not a pink person. I think these crocs are the only piece of clothing/footwear that I own that is pink. They make me laugh and smile everytime I put them on. Sometimes when I am getting ready for church I will have a skirt and nice blouse on and then still have my crocs on my feet!!! Quite comical. I know one of these days I am going to forget to switch them before I leave. I will be sure to document that story!

For Father's Day my sisters thought it would be funny to get my dad the biggest tv remote they could find. This thing is huge. It is "lost" proof. My dad seems to always misplace the remote so we are hoping this will be the remedy. When he opened the gift he just started laughing and then said his famous "oh girls..." Silliness is something that my sisters bring to our family. Silliness is infectious and helps in times when stress surrounds me - like now with working and trying to get ready to leave for Taiwan in two months.

I will end this fun filled post with one of my favorite "silly songs." We used to sing this song on youth retreats. It is called Fried Ham.
Fried Ham, Fried Ham, Cheese and Bologna
And after the macaroni we'll have onions
Pickles and pretzels and then will have some more....
Fried ham, fried ham, fried ham.
Second verse same as the first, football accent getting worse.
(each verse comes with it's own fun-filled accent.)

Until next time -

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend at the Lake...

My family and I spent the weekend at the lake - it is only a short drive from our home just 15 minutes across the state line in South Carolina. Yet I always feel I am miles from reality when I am there. It was the first time that just our family spent time together at the lake without guests. We had fun. Lots of laughter, swimming, singing, and more laugher. I have finally mastered the three sixty on the jet ski and I had a blast making waves and almost flippig the thing over. I used to be scared of the crazy machine but now I am branching out.
Some lake pics...

So I need prayer because I am having trouble trusting God with things that I can not control. I am in the middle of trying to get my visa to go to Taiwan and I am encountering some red tape, language barriers, and all the fun that goes with trying to get a resident visa. Sadly, I am freaking out at times. I just want it to be over but I know that this is just another way that God will show me that He is taking care of me. His will will be done and it will be perfect - even if it does not go as I want it to go. Please pray that I can trust Him while waiting. Waiting is so hard.

Until next time -

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The many sides of my life...

For the past seven months I have worked at Target. I have worked many different jobs but I enjoy working in the Starbucks and a barista and as a pharmacy tech. Here is a picture of my in my full Barista gala.

Right now I am reading "From Fear to Freedom becoming sons and daughters of God" by Rose Marie Miller. The thesis of the book is about allowing God to strip off our orphan attitude and help us to embrace our status as His children. The book is an autobiography of her journey of discovery of the incredible truths of the Gospel. The book has challenged me and sparked a lot of introspection and thinking about what fears and idols prevent from truly believing that God's love will NEVER change and that He is really for me. I mean I know in my mind the Christian truths but I confess my heart is hard and prefers self-reliance rather than trusting in God. Self-reliance is the enemy because I do not look to God for strength and love. Self-reliance minimizes the power of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension. I desperately want the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and free me from the idols of pride, seeking approval from others, and fear of trusting so that I may be surprised by His grace every moment of my life. Now at work and as I interact with my family and in Taiwan I desire to be a beggar leading other beggars to find the "bread of life."

I had an experience today working at Starbucks that made me realize how much I am addicted to the approval of others. The District Manager came today and criticized the way I labeled her cup and greeted guests. Yet she didn't see the other twenty or thirty guests that I had great conversations with. She happened to come in the store when their was a long line. She makes me really nervous. Anyway the entire rest of my shift I couldn't shake off her criticisms. They rocked the core of my being. I couldn't just take her comments as things I needed to work on but my thoughts began to descend into how unworthy I am as a person type thinking. I recognized this quickly and continually asked God to help me because I needed Him to remind me of the truth. I am addicted to approval. If I do something good and receive praise then I feel good about myself and believe I am worthy of love. Yet if I receive criticism I fall apart internally. I am standing on shifting sand not on the rock that never fails.

I have been described as an "unusual" person. I do not find that offensive at all. I actually like it. I am not normal (and as a reality check for everyone out their no one is normal!) One thing about me that is a bit unique is that I have celiac disease. Celiac is an autoimmune illness where the immune system malfunctions. If I eat a protein called gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) I will get sick. I don't break out in hives or anything but get major stomach aches and my lovely bowels get all bent out of shape (let your imagination run wild!) The question I often get asked is so what can you eat? I can eat all fruits and vegetables and plain meats. I have to be careful with processed foods and sauces such as soy and broths. I have lived with this for four years now and so it is getting easier. Here are some items that I just bought at the organic food area of Kroger...

Although I can't go to the International House of Pancakes and delve on their delicious breakfast I am creative and still enjoy food. My family and friends are supportive and helpful. I will keep you posted on how this might pose obstacles in Taiwan. They eat a lot of rice (which I can eat) so I am thinking it will be okay.
I just sent my Visa to the consulate yesterday so pray, pray, pray that I can get it back in time. They already called today while I was at work so I am nervous that I forgot something important. Honestly, this has already been a hard process. So much red tape and it is hard to communicate to the Chinese people at the consulate because of the language and cultural barrier. This whole process is really rocking my faith that God is taking care of this and cares about this.

Here are some pictures I found of the Chinese people in Taiwan. I am praying that God would start to burden my heart for these people and the students that I will be in contact with.

I am signing off for now - until next time.
- Amanda

Monday, June 18, 2007

My fam...

I want to introduce all of you to my family. My mom loves milkshakes, dogs and cats, and laughter. My dad enjoys golf, a good suspense movie, and just chillin. I am the oldest of three girls. My sister Missy just graduated college and is pursuing to be an elementary education career. Suzanne, my other sister, is still in college and wants to become a nurse. They just came home for the summer and I am looking forward to hanging out with them and having some fun before I leave. But my family includes many non-humans. There are three dogs and two cats that roam around at our abode. Toby and Piper are Papyions and want one on one attention all the time. They are like little two year olds but they are sweet and fun. Sprinkles is our mixed terrier and he is a bit skidish but he is a part of our family. He has a bark that will scare anyone out of their mind. Then comes our cats. Smokey is like a finicky old man and Lily is our only female pet. She is a small black cat that looks innocent but is a huntress at heart. She brings many "presents" to our front door. Here are some pics of my family...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hey all!!!
I am setting up a blog so I can keep everyone uptodate on my trip to Taipei, Taiwan. I leave September 3rd which is less than three months from now. For those that do not know I am going to Taipei to teach and develop relationships with the students at Christ's College. The school was started in the 1950's by some American missionaries and now is run by national Taiwanese Christians. I will be working with the English department, mainly heading a writing center for students who need help with formal research papers, teaching conversational English, and developing relationships with the Chinese students, praying that God will allow for opportunities to disciple and be discipled. I want to list some FAQ's that people often ask me about my life now.

What are you doing right now as you wait to go to Taiwan?
I am currently living in Augusta, Georgia at my parents house and working at Target. I am gaining good work experience because they have allowed me to train in many different positions such as pharmacy tech, starbucks barista, and cash office staffer.

Weren't you going to Spain? What happened?
Yes. I was planning and raising support to go to Madrid, Spain for two years to do mission work. However, it had taken over two years to raise funds and I was still short a sufficient amount. After much prayer and counsel I decided to look into other fields. The opportunity in Taipei became available and I feel that it is a good fit.

Have you raised all your support that you need and do you have to raise everything that you will need for the year that you will be going?
I have raised all of the monthly and one time support that I will need to live and work in Taipei for a year. I needed to raise all of the money necessary to pay for everything that I will need and do in Taipei.

Why are you going to Taiwan on the mission field and not trying to pursue a career?
Many people wonder why I did not pursue a masters degree right after college or a stable job that would begin a career. Since a young teenager I have had a passion for world missions. As God has transformed my own heart and allowed me to see my perpetual need for Jesus and God's love I want the Gospel message to seep through my life in everything I do. I want to pursue a teaching career at the college level as well as gain experience in cross cultural missions. I do not think that these past three years have been a "waste" or dead time but time for God to prepare me for the future. I have met incredible people as I have raised support and worked at First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga (2006) and at Target in Augusta. My time in Taiwan will be short but will be part of my life experience that God will use to transform me and remind me that I am His child.

How can I support you now?
Pray, pray, pray. I constantly forget who I belong to and the good news of the Gospel. I struggle with legalism and wanting to supplement the work of Jesus with my own works. I forget about the sweet drippings of grace. Pray for my soul and that God would remind me that I can't mess up His work because I am not that powerful or important!!! He wants to use me but doesn't need me. He loves me because He chooses to and wants to although I do not deserve it. I want to live out these truths daily. Pray for Christ's College and the upcoming school year. Pray for the students and the professors, for unity in Christ, and for the entire country of Taiwan.
If you would like to support me financially I would greatly appreciate it. Even though I have already reached my financial goals all support is welcome. You may email me at amandaintaiwan@gmail.com if you are interested.

Well, goodbye for now but I will be sharing my thoughts with you all soon.
- Amanda