I had the honor of speaking tonight at our college ministry and am still processing the message (and my voice is recovering). We looked at Jeremiah 6:16 - a verse that is often taken out of context to aid us in decision-making. Instead I think it is more of a courtroom testimony of the Creator's offer that was repeatedly rejected by his people...

This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'

At the time of this prophecy, Israel's rejection of God was leading toward their destruction and captivity. God's heart was breaking. He looked at Israel and saw their blatant abandonment:

Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and no spring rains have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute;
you refuse to blush with shame. (Jer 3:3)
God wanted his people on the path toward everlasting peace. Even the phrase "ancient paths" captures this; the Hebrew means something like "most distant / remotest / everlasting paths". It's not something that many to this point can claimed they walked. So when God says, "seek the everlasting paths," he's inviting them (and us) to find the peace that we were created for.

I thought it appropriate to leave the lasting image we used to demonstrate that while we were still 'abandoners' of God, He chose us. (Romans 5:8) The image above is the marred idea of our starting point: the garden / peace / true untainted relationship with the Creator. That's what God's people have done to his everlasting path.

With fresh fingerprints we take over, reject, refuse, neglect the path meant for us. And yet God says "I'll choose that. I'll use that. I'll become that." This is the 'amazing grace' of wretchedness for God's glory. Glory in the stain. Glory in freedom. Glory in letting God become the despise that was ours. That's the new everlasting path... the everlasting plan of hope and glory.

"Amazing Grace," recorded by Chris Tomlin (2007)

*The smiley in the corner represents one student's gratitude -- or at least her joy of fingerpainting. (Painting by Micah Eglington-Woods; Marring by yours truly.)

personal space

For those of you that know Neela, you know she knows nothing about personal space. She's happiest when she's in your face. Today, Justin was studying and decided to make a new spot for the dog bed. As you can see, Neela wanted to be special too.

Your neck must be just a little rosy!

I took this quiz today that Mandy recommended. It's quite hilarious. Growing up and living most of my life in smalltown NC then moving to MA and now traveling to a Spanish-speaking country every 2 months have left my accent in a whirlwind. Some people pick up on the twang right away and others say, "You don't sound Southern at all." So, I wasn't sure what my score would be. Let's just say, I stayed true to my Southern roots. 74% Dixie.

Now, it's your turn. You take it and tell me your score!

DR - Women's and Kids Around the World Trips

It was an amazing two and a half weeks. First, a group of 19 women spent the week ministering to and with 40+ of our Dominican friends. Each day was filled with classes of projects of sewing baskets, beading jewelry, decorating wooden trinket boxes, making greeting cards, and much more. Highlights of the week include the Mission Emanuel staff banquet put on by the NC ladies. There are approximately 60 Dominicans and Haitians employed by the ministry. It is the one time of year to celebrate with them all that God is doing through their work.

The second week, Kids Around the World brought over 75 staff, board, and volunteers to build their 100th and 101st playgrounds. It was a great time of celebration for their organization and ours. We enjoyed the fruits of their labor at the end of the week when hundreds of kids ran onto the playground and had a blast. Also, KAtW does children's ministry and training. Thanks to Carlos' hard work, over 250 Dominicans and Haitians made the trek to Cielo from all over the country to be trained in using puppets and flannelgraph. It was so exciting to think about the scope of their work. By training these pastors, teachers, and leaders, they can influence so many lives for Christ.

Here's my slideshow with lots of pictures. Enjoy!!!

Oh Hi Oh

Here's a little shout out to my new friends at Ohio State who are planning their first trip to the Dominican Republic. Last night I had the pleasure of chatting with the group (through the high-tech webcam video exchange) and meeting 15 folks who all have different reasons for spending the spring break (and Holy Week) in "heaven".

And speaking of heaven, this past week Holly has been working with Kids Around the World as they have completed their 100th international playground! The pictures are awesome...and I'm only sad I can't be there playing with our friends.