Being Hands and Feet: Refugees in Greece

It seems as if you can’t do anything on-line any more with out seeing something about the problems going on in the world. At times it feels so bad that I just want to curl up in a little ball and block everything out. Do you know what though? We are called to be Jesus’s hands and feet and that cannot be accomplished while wrapped up in our own little corner of the world.
Right now I have a dozen or so friends on the little island of Lesvos in Greece where thousands of refugees are pouring in. Many of the refugees arrive soaking wet and with no possessions. They are cold, exhausted, sad, and terrified. They have left behind death and destruction and in many cases family members. Volunteers are working around the clock shifts so that these, now homeless, people can be greeted with warmth, care, and God’s love. I asked a couple of my friends if I could use their pictures on Noveltea and they kindly agreed. 

Even though you might feel powerless to help while looking at these pictures, please remember that you’re not. You can pray for them. You can support others who are going to help. You can donate supplies or money. My sister and uncle are heading over to Greece at the beginning of December to serve for several weeks and even though I can’t personally go, I am excited to be able to make a difference. Instead of giving Christmas gifts to my family and friends here in the states this year, I’ll be giving money that will help buy blankets and food and supplies for these refugees. We are not helpless, we are not powerless. We are called to be God’s hands and feet and that is an honor. 

{When the people arrive} we guide them to a safe place to dock and form a human chain to help them up the steep bank. On this raft there were about 50 people. Multiple families with a total of 26 children, 18 of which are under 2 years old. I have the privilege of getting my feet wet and being at the raft taking their outstretched hands and helping them to safety. Babies are passed to me and I hold them close, try to quiet those that cry and smile at ones that don’t have a care in the world. One little boy, no older than 2, is handed to me and cries in fear as I hold him while his mother gets out of the raft. He is terrified and his eyes seem full of fear. I wonder what all he has experienced in his short life. (From B.) 

 …and their journey continues. We give them directions to a camp which is a 3 hour walk. Yes, it’s far but to them it’s not too difficult. They are happy to be safe, free and walk through the mountains without the fear of being terrorized with guns, hostility or discrimination. (From B.)

These two families were transported to a camp. However, most of them walk because we’re not able to transport them or bring a bus to this location since it is quite isolated. (From B.) 

Our friends have told us stories of freezing nights and not enough blankets to go around. Of hotel owners who’s businesses have been ruined by the lack of tourists who, instead of getting angry at the refugees for driving their business away, have given them everything: their own food, clothing, shelter. Of the mixture of beauty and pain, of joy and sadness, of hope and hopelessness. 
Last night Abby and I carried in a young Afghani girl who had fallen
into the water. It was pitch dark when they crossed and she was soaked to
the skin and so cold she couldn’t talk. I got her dry, covered her in blankets, and tried to rub some feeling into her feet. She couldn’t talk, but she leaned up and kissed my face. Her dark eyes held trauma I can’t describe in words. 
There are babies a few days old, toddlers trying to keep up, old women laden with bags– all running from war and destruction. There is no way to help them all at once so we strip the wet children and babies and get them dry. 
But, I must add that it is not all rush and crying. There are beautiful moments of laughter and chasing balloons with the children. When the camp settles down we have time to sing, ” Jesus’ love is bubbling over,” and watch tired faces smile. 
We are working with volunteers from all over the world…and it is beautiful to be a part of working together for a common cause. Samaritans purse, MAF, World Race, and YWAM, just to name a few. (From K.)

These might be nameless faces to us, but they are real people. They have lost so much. They have left behind everything. They are running in fear, looking for hope, searching for peace. They need help and we have the ability to aid them.

Please pass on the word, help these people, share God’s love with them, pray for them. We are called to action. Now that we know of the problem we cannot sit and do nothing and remain guiltless. I consider it an honor to be able to help these people, to be a link in a chain that shares God’s love and hope with them.

Her name is Hannan. Look into her eyes for a moment. She is Yazidi, from Sinjar, Iraq. She was there when Islamic extremists raged through the city and brutally killed her two sisters, taking their bodies with them. She traveled all the way to Turkey with her parents, only to find out they did not have the money to all get onto the rafts to get to Europe. At the border, she said goodbye to her mother and came with her father across the rough water to Lesvos.
This is where I found her tonight as we waited for the bus to arrive. It was a cold night, and she huddled close to her Father. Big tears rolled down her little brother’s face. His father said, ” He remembers his mother.”
I looked into her eyes after I heard her story and she smiled, all snuggled up on my lap. I sat there trying to imagine what is running through her small mind. War, death, heartbreaking goodbyes, dangerous waters, and the long road ahead as they travel through Europe without their mother.
Let’s look into her eyes, my friends. God forbid we turn our face. Lets look into her eyes and let her heartbreak break our own heart. 
(From K.) 

Does our worship have hands,
Does it have feet?
Does it stand up in the face of injustice;

Does our worship bow down,

Does it run deep?

Is it more than a song that fades with our voices?

Does it fade with our voices? – J.Gray

Making A Difference

Resting. Abiding. Being. Stillness. 

It seems like every time I accomplish something I’m filled with a deluge of overwhelmed feelings as I think of all there is left that I still need to do. I subconsciously believe that it’s my responsibility to do something fantastically great that will change the world. 

From the moment I wake up until the moment I settle in my bed for the night my brain is constantly running ahead, sorting, organizing, compiling and coming up with ways to fit everything in. Yes, I need to get dressed, do my hair and put away my sleeping bag. Those are givens. But, why not listen to audio while doing that? Snagging a page of a book while I’m walking downstairs gets in some reading. Reading Philippians while brushing my teeth? Two things checked off the list at once. Eating breakfast while working on a blog post. Composing work emails in my head while exercising. Planning out the rest of my day as I sit with our family for lunch. 

Rushing. Looking ahead. Accomplishing. Doing. 

All of these are good things. The problem comes when I reach the point where I no longer know how to find the “pause” button in my hurriedness. Where I sit down to pray and no matter how hard I try to be still my brain flies in a thousand different directions and I want to keep checking the clock because I can’t go over my allotted time period. When I’m feeling the burden of a million things I’ll never find time for and I’m aghast at how much of my life has already passed with so little to show for it. When I consistently give up needed sleep because there is still so much to do. When I find it difficult to enjoy time spent with people because I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything. 

Recently I’ve been wondering when it happened. When did I take my gift from God of being able to make a difference in the world and morph it into an overpowering need to find my worth in what I’m able to accomplish? 

I used to think that when I had a book published I’d feel satisfied. Like I had reached a certain level where no matter what else happened I’d always be able to look back and point to a specific day and say, Yes, but I have a book published, my life is good. Instead with each book I’ve gotten published I’ve become more frantic to continue doing.  

When my book came out on Monday I was excited. Thrilled. Satisfied with it. Thankfully I didn’t experience any of the anxiety as with my other two books. It didn’t make me feel like I’d achieved anything extra-special though. It was life. It’s what I do. Of course I had another book published because I’m an author. Authors write and publish books. 

That’s when I realized that if I don’t find anything more than excitement and mild satisfaction at getting a book published now, then unless I change my mindset, I’ll never find anything more with my writing. It’s how I view life, not how life views me, that determines how I feel. It won’t matter if I have a New York Times Bestseller or hit a record with how many books I get published, I’m still going to feel antsy about making a difference in this world. 

I really do think I’m going to make a difference in the world, but recently it hit me that maybe I’m not going to make that difference the way I thought I was. Or in my timing. Or even in my lifetime. Maybe I won’t ever be able to see it or know about it or reach out and touch it. 

I’m going to make a difference because I am God’s child and my life is His to use. Making a difference in the world isn’t my responsibility. It’s not even in my hands. I’m not called to make a difference. I’m called to live my life according to His will and to give Him glory. And when a life is lived according to God’s will, then it will make a difference. 

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

Making A Difference

Good morning, friends of mine! This day of my life is going to be wonderful. This day of my life is going to make a difference! I’m excited about getting things done, meeting new people and serving God, my family and my work with my talents! 

I have a retreat to work at this week (I’m in charge of the kitchens). This is the first retreat since Christmas, and I’m pretty excited because my sister gave me this lovely apron for Christmas and let’s just face it, aprons are pretty amazing, cool and all-around essentials for someone who’s as messy as me. 🙂 

So, some people have wondered if I’m always up-beat, happy and having a good attitude. The answer is no. Take yesterday for instance. I was tired, worn out, not feeling the best… Ever since I’ve started regaining my energy from my six year battle with Lyme disease, I’ve wanted to rush and run and make up for all the time I lost. I used to take 1-3 naps a day and I’ve cut that back to 1-3 naps a week, which is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes though, I need to remember just to let myself take a break and sleep, because in reality, I still don’t have my health back at 100%. When I take a nap though, I feel like I’m falling back into my Lymie days, and I hate that. 

Therefore, yesterday I should have just let myself sleep, but I didn’t. I forced myself just to slush and slosh around, not really doing much. And I was a grump. And I was stressed out. And I was not cool to be around. Then I took a nap and low-and-behold, today I feel back to myself and raring to go. 😉 

Having a good attitude about stuff is really something I try and work at though, because it’s so important! There are quite a few verses about thoughts in the Bible, if you ever get the chance to study them, you’ll probably be quite surprised. I know I was! Here just a few of them are: 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
– Philippians 4:8 

If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
– Colossians 3:1-3 

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.– Proverbs 17:22

So, you might be wondering what’s up with what I was saying at the beginning of the post about today being so great? Here it goes: God created each of us for a reason. We each have the ability to make a huge difference. 

That includes the girl who’s flat in bed, sick and unable move. If she chooses to use her time praying, she’s making a difference. This includes the parents who feel as if all they do is provide for their families, and not even very well. If they are providing love, encouragement for their children’s dreams and giving them the foundations they need, they’re making a difference that will multiply. This also includes the teenager who feels all they do is go to school day in and day out. What about smiles? Spread those around. What about kind words? The world needs more of those! No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing, you can change the world around you. Start out small if you need to, but eventually you’ll look back and see how your life has changed and how much better it is now. No, it’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. It’s worth it though. 

So, step out today and do what you were created to do: Make a difference. 

Before you leave, why don’t you check out the 
book review I did yesterday, and, if you haven’t entered my giveaway, you can still do that!