Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Thursday, August 4, 2011

V is for Vodou (Voodoo)

is for Vodou (Haitian name for voodoo)

Now, the first thing I want to say is that I do not practice or have any belief in voodoo, but it does bring up a strong memory. I feel that by including this in my blog, it will be a reminder to me of Haiti's greatest need.

In 1993, after watching the slides from missionaries that were based in Haiti, I had a strong urge to go there. I honestly felt such a calling, if you will, to leave my family and be part of a team from our church that was going on a 2 week trip to assist the mission already based there. I told my husband that it was not that I really wanted to leave, but that I wanted to go. I have rarely felt so strongly that I was supposed to do something as I did then. It was in July, and I traveled with the second group from our church. Most had left a few days before, but due to some prior commitments, 4 of us traveled later.

Here I was, arriving in Haiti, when I had barely traveled anywhere else. This would be my first real plane ride, and many other firsts. I must admit that the first day there, I wondered what I was getting myself into. I developed a serious migraine on that first day, and wondered if I could make it.

As the days went on I knew I was supposed to be there, yet I still was realizing that our cultures are so very different. Everything was different, the poverty, the lack of communication abilities, the landscape, and the religion.

One night in particular, while we were trying to sleep (we slept on the roof of the mission on cots due to the heat) we could hear voodoo drums in the distance. That was definitely a strange experience for me, and to be honest , I felt evil around me. I prayed very hard that night, Although I knew that my God is greater than any evil around me, I needed to speak His name over and over for my own peace. I also prayed for the people of Haiti. We think sometimes that their biggest problem is their poverty, and that groups go there just to meet physical needs. We see and hear often of humanitarian groups that provide food, and medical help. Yes, these are real needs, and the poverty was overwhelming. But their greatest need is for the Lord God to rescue them from the evil that is all around them.

It has been many years since I returned from that trip, and to be honest, I do not think of these people as often as I should. There have been quite a few people that I know that have gone on similar trips since then, and each time it causes me to remember Haiti. I hope that somehow the focus of this post will also help me, and perhaps for those of you who read it will remember the Haitian people as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

U is for Ugly

is for Ugly.

Now, I must admit that the letter U had me stumped for a very long time. Well over a month. I did not want to go with umbrella, or unicorn, or anything starting with "un". I had to wait until something inspired me. With the current heat wave I am not getting inspired by much, so the challenge was great.

Today it hit me:

Not the word you would expect me to devote a post to. This blog is about the "Silver Lining", and the whole concept of that is supposed to be positive. Is there anything positive in such a word as ugly?

I think so.

The first thing I think of is the old adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Well, isn't the same true with ugly? Be it dogs, decor, or even people, we all have different ideas about which one is pretty or ugly.

I have a scar.

It is quite large, and in reality is shaped much like the letter U. By the world's standards it is undesirable, unattractive, and ugly (three Us). But think about this. That one scar on my body is a reminder of the grace of God, a reminder of surviving what I later learned was a cancer that was very much not in my favor, and very much a smile from God. (You can read about 'A smile from God" here)

During our summer youth conference we sometimes have a small group ice breaker called "show me your scar". It is amazing that people young and old really like the opportunity to tell the story about their physical scars. You will hear stories about bicycle accidents, sports injuries, and surgeries. There is something about talking openly about what people are taught never to discuss or question. It is rather "freeing". It seems to turn what one would think of as being ugly into a story. I just happen to have a visible scar close enough to my face that makes it seem a taboo subject to talk about.

I will admit that in the weeks following surgery, I was quite concerned about the appearance of this scar, and even blogged about my thoughts regarding it. You can read those initial thoughts here. But as time has passed and admit-tingly, as the scar and my opinion of it have improved, I realize that is is quite beautiful in many ways.

I do not think of it as ugly anymore. Truth be told, sometimes I forget I have it, and sometimes it takes me noticing that someone else, a stranger, is fixated on it before I stop to think about it.

I have taken this to heart. When I see a scar on someone else, especially if it is large, or facial, or what some would call dis-figuring, I try to remember that there is a story behind it. That perhaps that scar has saved their life, that perhaps that scar is a reminder of a serious event that has changed them, but I will never think it as being ugly.

If ugly is also in the eye of the beholder. Let's behold beauty instead.