Sunday, May 9, 2010

The shoes of a mother

While I really enjoy writing blogs, I also enjoy reading them. "Blog reading" has become a hobby.

It's so interesting to read another person's thoughts, another person's perspective on life. It's like taking a walk in someone else's shoes. And not only is that interesting, it's important. It makes you empathetic -- more understanding of another person's situation and feelings.

I've mentioned before that I really enjoy reading Lysa TerKeurst's blog of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her blog is great for my faith walk and does my soul good. I encourage you to check it out.

A few months ago, I read a post she wrote about motherhood, and the tendency for mothers to blame themselves for the wrong choices their kids make. To be honest, this is something I hadn't really thought about much before since I'm not a mom.

But as I scrolled through the 180 comments (!), I read as mothers poured out their hearts and their feelings of failure. Many of them were wondering where they went wrong with their children. My heart broke for them and went out to them.

I've heard before that being a mother is the toughest job in the world. And I believe it.

So I want to thank moms everywhere for the extremely difficult and demanding job they do every single minute of every single day.

And I want to thank my mom and grandma's for all that they've personally done for me, and all that they still do, even from across the miles.

I wish for you a special day, full of love and appreciation that you more than deserve! If you're a mother, I'm saying an extra special prayer for you today.

Happy Mother's Day!
Love, Dana

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keep on praying

I've been reading Hinds' Feet on High Places, a story that's an allegory of the Christian walk.
(I highly recommend this book!)

The version of the book I have includes devotionals written by Darien Cooper.
One of the devotionals has a prayer in it that really spoke to me, and I thought, "I should post it on my blog to share with others..."

O Lord Jesus, Lover of my soul, You and only You understand the inner craving of my being. Thank You for loving me, never leaving me, and caring about every detail of my life. Help me begin each day with a thankful spirit, until I can do so as a way of life. Let me never be found resisting what You are birthing or bringing forth in me. I love You and want to love You even more.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Daily bread

My real dreams in life have nothing to do with eating white bread. :)

But they have everything to do with following Jesus, the bread of life.

"Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." -- John 6:35

I don't know exactly what is in store for my future. I don't know what tomorrow may bring. I don't know a lot of things.

But I do know that I can daily turn to Jesus during this journey of life, and he will satisfy.

And I also know what I want in life. I want to enjoy each day, live to the fullest, and be as Christ-like as possible.

I also want to travel the world and experience as much of God's creation as I possibly can. And while I'm enjoying different scenery, people and cultures, I want to soak it all in. I want to dance on beaches and stop to take pictures, pray, and watch & interact with life around me.

A couple of times I've been called a free spirit. Curious, I looked up what calls a "free spirit," and it says, "A person with a highly individual or unique attitude, lifestyle, or imagination; a non-conformist."

Hmm, I guess a nonconformist is what a Christian should be by not conforming to the world. To be honest, that's something I really struggle with. The thing is, I love the world and its people, and I want to explore it.

I pray daily that I can help shine light in the world with my attitude and lifestyle.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clicking to make a difference

Of course it's sad saying goodbye to my friends here since I'm not sure when I'll see them again.

But at the same time, I know that while they're closing one chapter of their lives, they're about to being a new chapter, so I'm happy for them. And I know that we can still keep in touch; it's not like they're dying.
(Even though we gave them funeral cards by mistake!)

My heart really goes out to people who are saying final goodbyes to friends or family.

I've written before that I think a lot about people who don't have their basic needs met -- especially children. I read a statistic that every year,
6.5 million children die from starvation.

Now that makes me sad.

But the good news is that I can help do something about it. And so can you. For free.

Below is a list of my favorite Web sites (in order), where all you have to do is click and sponsors will make donations. So. very. easy.

1. -- I have it set up to send me daily e-mail reminders to click on the orange box in each category. The Hunger Store is fantastic because you make donations with your purchases. I've bought several things there that I've loved -- clothes, jewelry and gifts.

2. -- This site is similar to the Hunger Site because you can click to benefit several different causes.

3. - Click the orange box to help children in need.

4. - Click the yellow box to help a hungry child.

Play a game to donate. With these sites, all you have to is play a game/take a quiz to make a donation. You're learning and helping at the same time. Everyone wins. :)

1. -- This one is my favorite because you can choose what subject you want. I especially like the geography quiz.

2. - This is a fun game of pinpointing places on a map.

3. -- Play crossword puzzles for charity.

4. - Memorize and recall the numbers to donate water.

5. - Take a hunger quiz to donate to world hunger.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' -- Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things to think about

Yesterday I finished the book One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity by Christian author Debbie Macomber. (Thank you, Mom, for sending me good books written in English!)

It was inspirational & encouraging, and I read it with a pen in hand so I could underline statements that stood out to me and make notes in the margins.

Here are just a few thought-provoking sentences that I underlined and want to share:

There are more verses in the Bible that praise God than anything else.
I think that says a lot about how important it is to just simply praise God.

Praise too often refers to the product, while encouragement focuses on the act itself and the heart behind the action.
I've been thinking about this in the classrooms this week as I encourage students to keep studying English and not give up. I'd never really thought before about the differences between praising and encouraging.

The more we look to find ways to encourage others, the more we'll find ourselves being encouraged.
Good point. I think this is very true.

When tragedy hits, don't focus on the faces of pain and horror. Let your eyes follow those who are rescuing, feeding, healing, sweeping, comforting, and rebuilding.
I immediately thought of the earthquake in Haiti when I read this. The devastation there breaks my heart, and I really want to do something about it. I'd like to be one of the people there who is helping out. While I can't go to Haiti right now, I can look at the people who are there as role models.

Besides the author's points, the book is filled with quotes that got me thinking about generosity :

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."
-- John Wooden

"A prerequisite to living abundantly is giving abundantly. These are two concepts that are woven together tightly. If you don't know how to give, you don't know how to live."
--Elizabeth Pearle Allen

"Money is to be used and not loved. You are to use money and you are to love people. If you get that reversed you are in trouble because if you start loving money, you will start using people to get more money."
-- Rick Warren

"You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time."
-- Pat Schroeder
As someone who's a doer, I especially like this quote.

I pray that my eyes would continually be opened to opportunities and ways to encourage, give, and help others.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The King's kids

James 1:27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

Even though I knew a little bit about Tree of Life Orphanage before I volunteered there, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Would I see some really difficult things? What would the kids be like?

Being at the orphanage was like being part of a really big family for a few days. A very loving family.

I didn't see this video about TOLO until just a few days ago. It's really neat for me to watch now because I personally know Roger and the kids. (There's also a brief shot of the library we reorganized about half-way through. Looks familiar!) I encourage you to watch this short video -- a message from Roger:

I like what he says about these children being the "King's kids," and treating them as such. And I really liked being there, seeing that love in person and being part of it.

What Roger and his wife are doing in Buri Ram is wonderful. Please join me in lifting up everyone at TOLO in prayer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More than stuff

Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday.

I love the season leading up to it -- listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies, decorating, sending out cards and baking.

What I don't like is all the shopping and materialism that surrounds Christmas. (I'm referring to Christmas in America, not in Japan. In Japan, people don't give presents on Christmas; they just eat a Christmas cake with their family.)

I'm not saying that I'm against giving presents. What I'm saying is that it's important not to get caught up in a mindset of materialism. It's important to think of Christmas as a time to celebrate what's most important -- the birth of Jesus Christ.

A few days ago, I read the below paragraph on a Web site...

"There are a lot of things we get wrong about Christmas. For one, we give each other so much stuff. Whether it's out of obligation or just to truly show someone we care, we're still essentially material-rich people giving other material-rich people more... materials. The purpose of our holiday, though, is Christ. And Jesus made his purpose clear to us -- sacrifice. He died so that we could live. And we struggle to keep that the focus of Christmas while we're busy buying and unwrapping gifts."

The third sentence -- the one I bolded -- really stuck out to me. It made me think, "Yeah, that really is true." And it reminded me of a little video with a big (powerful!) message that I watched last year. I feel like it's definitely worth sharing...

Thinking about the truth in this message is what inspired me to start my water campaign. I've decided that this Christmas, instead of buying stuff, I'll give monetary gifts to people who could really use them.

I desire to love like Jesus -- who made the ultimate sacrifice -- even though every single day I fall waaaay short.

As always, I'm looking forward to celebrating Jesus' birthday this December 25th!

* * *
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18