Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week Thirty in Review

This week's theme is whirlwind.  I had a day of New Employee Orientation, went to Macon for less than 48 hours, did a training of trainers in Macon, drove back to ATL for two days of work, went to a meeting on Friday night and then yesterday drove to Cartersville to help Sarah unpack and set up her new place.  Then drove back this afternoon.  I am tired with a capital T.  I hope the cat doesn't mind an early to bed night.  This is one of those days I'm thankful to live alone...I can have a quick dinner, prep for tomorrow and then go to bed.  Who cares if it's only 9:00 when I go to bed?

In all seriousness though, this has been a really amazing week.  The more I get into my new job, the more I like it.  We do some really, really neat stuff as an office and people really respect the work we do. I'm also coming to realize how much respect the community has for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  People are impressed when I tell them where I work and are quick to tell me about their child/grandchild/neighbor/family friend who was treated at Children's and how much they love/appreciate CHOA.  Makes me feel good even if I didn't have a dad gum thing to do with it. :-)

This week was also amazing from a spiritual side.  I got to watch God continue to work in my sister's life.  She found a new teaching position in Cartersville but that necessitated moving about 150 miles north on I-75.  She had to find a new place, book movers, pack, move, unpack and get settled.  All in five days or less!  God continued to work miracles.  She and mom found a new place last Monday (the 23rd), booked movers to come on Friday, got everything packed and moved by Friday.  We got the last of the boxes unpacked after church this morning and she is ready to start her new job tomorrow.  It has been so amazingly evident that God wants her in Cartersville and He has worked everything out in His perfect timing.  It's weeks/months like my family has had lately that always make me wonder why I doubt and worry.  I've seen God show up and show off repeatedly but I still find myself doubtful when things get stormy.  Sanctification really is a never-ending process.

I'm closing here to go round up the aforementioned quick dinner.  More next week...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Week Twenty-Nine in Review

I think the theme for this week could have been "can I be excused?  My brain is full."  I began my new job this week as a program manager in the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  It's a long title but an amazing group of people.  We basically serve as a child abuse and neglect center for the Atlanta area.  The clinic side sees patients who are victims of child sexual abuse and the pediatricians and social workers see suspected physical abuse and neglect patients in the three hospitals in our system.  My side handles prevention and education work around child abuse, child sexual abuse, and commercial sexual exploitation of children.  My team works to train healthcare professionals and community members on how to recognize abuse signs, how to intervene and ways to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.  There is A LOT to learn but it is critically important work and I'm surrounded by amazing, passionate people who are helping me adjust.  I've learned a great deal already and will continue to learn as I go. While it felt a bit like drinking from a fire hose, it's been great to work with the person I'm replacing.

I've been so tired this week that I fell behind in my Bible reading.  I should finish catching up tomorrow and can start week 30 on Monday.  I did read about Hezekiah this week and noticed this time through what was so different about his reign.  While other kings had been "good" kings, they didn't go all the way and destroy the idols in the high places.  Hezekiah did - he wanted to force the nation back to following the Lord and destroying those idols was the only way to do that.  I got to thinking about whether or not I completely destroy idols in my life when I recognize them.  All too often, the answer is no.  I recognize God's sovereignty and am secure in my salvation but I still want to hold on to some measure of control and the idol that goes with that.  It's a constant process to tear down that idol.  Sanctification ain't easy y'all.

It has also been a neat week to watch God work.  I got a call in the middle of the week from the person at the other job I was offered.  She was calling about another project but in our conversation, she told me I had made the right decision turning the job down.  The funder eliminated the funding and I would have been without a job after 2013!  Praise the Lord for the other job and His timing!!  I also got to see Sarah get a new job in Cartersville, GA.  She's been so faithful in her job search - looking for teaching positions from border to border in GA, applying and interviewing in lots of places.  The interview for this one was a month ago and she hadn't heard anything.  But, they called last week and offered her the job.  Of course, now we have to find her a place to live in 10 DAYS!  But, God's brought her this far, He has that covered too.  I'm beyond excited she's going to be so much closer to me.  There are lots of times I want to attend cultural events in ATL but haven't had anyone to go with me.  Since we both enjoy classical concerts and more "cultural" events, we'll have plenty to keep us busy.  Yay!!

This week is busy - I have one day of New Employee Orientation at Children's and will then head to Macon for a 1 and a 1/2 day training for GCADV.  This one had been scheduled well before I knew about the Children's position and they were gracious enough to let me fulfill the obligation.  Then it's two more days of learning about the new job.  Exciting times and definitely not boring.

I have three book reviews I need to get posted - I've got two of them written, just need to post and then one to write.  Stay tuned.  More next week...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weeks Twenty-Seven and Twenty-Eight in Review

So I missed a week on my weekly recaps.  At least I had a good excuse...vacation on the beach.  And while I had Internet access, I had better things to do than blog. :-)

Week Twenty-Seven was a week of endings.  My last day with GCADV was July 6th.  It was a good two-year experience and I am proud of the work we were able to do in less than ideal circumstances.  Georgia is a tough state to do public health work in.  With 159 counties, you have 159 little fiefdoms and they don't like to do things the easy way.  But, we persevered and once the grant officially ends in November, the project will be looked on as a success.  I value the wonderful people I met.  The organization is made up of women who are true champions for women and work tirelessly to make sure their needs are met.  It's not easy work by any stretch and the people who work in the field are true heroes.

Last week was all about relaxation and vacation.  I had a couple of days that I went from PJ's to swimsuit back to PJ's.  That's the mark of a truly relaxing vacation.  I played by the pool, ate great seafood, read until my eyes couldn't stay open, walked on the beach and just simply relaxed.  It was so nice to spend time with my family just enjoying each other's company without an agenda.  I was sad to see it end but am looking forward to my new adventure that begins tomorrow.

Food-wise, the last two weeks haven't been great (vacations will do that).  Hopefully this week won't be too bad. I am actually going to be doing a good bit of research into gluten-free eating.  I know I am not gluten-sensitive and don't have celiac disease but I've been hearing lots about the benefits to going gluten-free so I'm going to do some additional research (I'm a big nerd) and then going to see what I can come up with.  I've seen tons of recipes on Pintrest so hopefully I can find things that fit my criteria...healthy, easy, and tasty.  I'll keep you posted.

It was neat spiritually to be at the beach with my mom last week.  She is my spiritual mentor and we are on the same Bible reading plan.  It was neat to get to talk with her about the book of Isaiah and the different things we found that spoke to us.  I love the book of Isaiah and every time I read it, I find something new.  I've never seen many of the cautionary tales before.  I've always focused on the prophesies related to Christ's coming - I've glossed over the others in the past.  I absolutely love how Scripture comes alive each time it's read.  I love that God thinks enough of us as His children that He wants to continue teaching us new things.

I think it's off to bed now.  My new job has created the need for a new schedule.  I will now be leaving the house at the time I used to get up.  That's going to take some adjusting.  :-)  Until next time...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

no greater LOVE - A Book Review

From the Back: California businessman Levi Benkert was playing with his children in the park when he received an urgent phone call from a friend asking him to drop everything and fly to Ethiopia to help organize a rescue orphanage for children destined to be murdered as part of a tribal superstition know as "mingi."  In tribal culture, children and infants with even the slightest defect are considered "cursed" and are killed by their own parents, who fear allowing the children to live will cause bad luck to descend on the village.  Moved by his friend's story, Levi packed his bags and left for what he thought would be a short two-week trip.  Once he arrived in Ethiopia and met the children, however, Levi knew there was no turning back.  Six weeks later Levi, his wife Jessie, and their three young children sold their home and all their belongings and relocated to Ethiopia indefinitely.  What followed was the adventure of a lifetime.  From the challenges of establishing and running the orphanage and finding adoptive homes for the rescued children to his continued efforts to work with tribal leaders and bring an end to "mingi killings" once and for all, No Greater Love is a gripping and poignant story of one man's quest to make a difference - no matter the cost.

Synopsis: Levi Benkert was a businessman in California who was seemingly on top of the world until the recession hits and everything falls apart.  As he is searching for what to do, a friend reaches out and asks him to go to Ethiopia to see about opening an orphanage to save children.  Benkert agrees to go and what he sees changes his life forever.  He comes back to the states, packs up his family and moves to Ethiopia.  the book chronicles the early days of his ministry, the ups and downs and highlights God's hands through it all.  Benkert goes through the trials of working with local leaders, the distrust, the language barriers and the difficulties of living in such harsh conditions.

My Review: This is a small book but packs quite a punch.  Benkert gives up a great deal to follow God's call on his life.  He does not sugarcoat the difficulties of working in such harsh conditions.  He was honest about the process - the detractors he heard from (and there were many) - the bureaucratic difficulties - the loneliness his family faced.  The writing style lets the reader feel the horror of children killed because of tribal superstitions, feel the weight of mistakes made, and feel the triumph of the small victories.  I appreciated Benkert's honesty.  He could have glossed over their mistakes but he chose instead to share them with the world.  He was open with the raw emotions he and his wife Jessie felt as they dealt with all the issues work in a developing country can bring.  It was also refreshing to see that while Benkert knows God is guiding the process, he still has questions and struggles with his call.  Too many times, Christian writers seem to gloss over their struggles and appear "super-Christian" instead of focusing on how God made everything happen.  This book is not that - this is an honest and raw look at the difficulties in adoption, and in serving God in the hard places.  Keep the Kleenex handy; you'll need them.

Score: 4.5 bookmarks out of 5

Note About the Book:  At the end, there is a website:  This website is the personal site for the ministry in Ethiopia.  You can check it out for more information.  They are planning a US tour starting week after next.  Lots of locations on the calendar though not many in the Southeast.

Note:  Tyndale House Publishers gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Week Twenty-Six in Review

Can you believe the year is officially half over?  Where have the first six months gone?  You can definitely tell from the temperatures outside that it is not winter!  100+ temps for three days in a row is nuts.  I don't live in Phoenix for a reason!  I guess it's God's way of letting me feel a little of what my friend Lisa is experiencing in West Africa this summer.

This was a pretty low-key week.  I am finishing up some projects at work but I can definitely tell my time is ending - I view things differently and it's getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the mornings.  Of course, my upcoming beach trip might have something to do with that. :-)  I will look back fondly on my time at GCADV but it is time to move on.  I am quite thankful God brought me the new position at Children's Healthcare and I'm looking forward to whatever my next adventure is.

I had a couple of thoughts spiritually this week while I was reading.  First, I was struck by Naaman's response in 2 Kings 5 when Elisha gave him a cure for leprosy.  He was upset because it wasn't a bold enough plan and Elisha sent the cure by messenger instead of coming himself.  I couldn't believe he was willing to give up a cure for leprosy because the cure wasn't big enough.  While calmer heads did prevail, I pondered how often my response to God's provision is similar.  The answer doesn't come soon enough, isn't exactly what I wanted or how I wanted it.  It just proves that we all have a hard time being content with how God provides.

The second thought pertained to the evilness that shows up in the lineage of the Kings and how God continued to be faithful in spite of the evilness.  In 2 Kings 8, the writer is detailing how evil Jehoram was but highlighted that God did not destroy Judah because of the promise He made to David - promising a continued kingdom through his line.  I was just reminded that our God is a God of promises - He keeps His even when we break ours.  My heart was so thankful for that this week.  While I don't think grace is a license to sin freely, I'm thankful we are given grace for those times when we do sin.

I ended the week with a wonderful visit from my mom and sister.  We did our annual girls' weekend more low-key this year.  Instead of traveling somewhere, they came up here and we went to the Braves game on Friday night, outlet shopping yesterday and then church and lunch today.  The Braves game was hot as you know where and they lost but we still had a great time together.  We had great seats and since it was so hot, the crowds weren't ridiculously big.  Yesterday we went up to Dawsonville to outlet shop.  I managed to find some great deals to add to my "professional" wardrobe.  Since all my jobs since college have been for non-profits or churches or required scrubs, I haven't needed the most professional looking wardrobe.  Well, Children's is a little different.  While I don't have to wear suits every day (Praise the Lord!), I do have to dress above business casual.  No capris, no denim, no flip flops.  So, I had to add clothes and shoes.  Fortunately, Sarah has FABULOUS taste and helped me pick some things out and then last night, she helped me organize outfits.  I have at least 60 outfits cataloged on my phone and there are probably more than 20 that we didn't catalog because I could figure them out on my own.  So, so thankful for a fashionista sister.  And we get to do it all over again in the fall when we add winter tops.

I guess that's it for now.  I'm planning to try and stay in one place the rest of the night.  It's cooler that way.  More next week from the beach...