Friday, May 24, 2013

A Place to Land: Puerto Alegria- Guest Blog by Ken Stiver

Everybody has a place to land, right? And everybody has a story to tell.
My friend, Ken Stiver, is going to share his story with you today.

I met Ken (we all called him Stiver, though) on a mission trip to Peru two years ago.
From the short time I spent with him, I knew he was a great person.
Among the boys in the camp he was a leader, a big brother, and He loved Christ with all his heart.

I have asked many friends to share their stories of places they have landed and he is the first to send his story. Thank you Ken for taking time to share your life with us. 

I hope you are touched by the impact Jesus Christ and his "American" mom, Lancy Rhyne has had on his life. Lancy is a member of our church and has traveled to Peru many times to serve at Puerto Alegria!

UNA VIDA EN ESTA VIDA (a life in this life)
     Hello! Before I tell you about how God is working in my life, let me introduce myself. My name is Ken Stiver and I was born in a town called San Antonio (Colombia) the border of Peru between Colombia. Sometimes I think that I’m more Colombian than Peruvian but I’m Peruvian, lol.

     This story begins when my parents broke up their relationship. My mom moved to Colombia and my dad stayed here in Peru. This happened when I was about 1 year old and my dad had to work so I went to live with my grandparent (my dads parent)…. My life with them wasn’t good at all. They were mean to me all the time, they were Christian though but I don’t know  what kind of Christians. I went to church when I was a boy but I never understood the love of God. The time I spent there, I got done with elementary school then I moved to Iquitos from San Antonio with my grandparents. 

     Here in Iquitos my grandparents met a person that worked in the Scripture Union. And that’s how I went to Puerto Alegria (Scripture Union’s Orphanage). I really felt so bad when I came to this place (Puerto Alegria). My dad never did anything, but allow my grandparents to send me here, even when I know that he has the enough money to support me, this meant how mean my family is. But I never showed to others how I was really feeling in that time, I was always thinking I will grow up… and when they need my help, it will be so late for them…

     When I came to this orphanage I saw a lot of boys like me so I felt comfortable in that house and also I forgot to my family, well my family made me forget them. I had been there more than 5 years and they never appear never…visited me. You would think that was hard to me but it wasn’t. For me I was alright, I felt peace. My life at Puerto Alegria was really different than what I had… 

     Every morning for the start of the day they joined us in the dining room for their DEVOCIONAL (I don’t know if you guys has a word for this but its when you are all together and read your bible and sing and pray). I even didn’t know whata devocional mean but then I understood and that is how my life went at Puerto Alegria.

     One upon a time, in our devocional our director was speaking about the love of God, and how much He loved us and I said into my mind, “if He loves me so much why he let that my parent broke up their relationship­­­­­­?” And others questions.


     I had seen Americans before but I never had a friend, and I never know that in this orphanage Americans would come. So every time when they come, everybody there was happy saying”the Americans are coming.”… and one of my friends said me, “they are good, nice persons.” I remember that I said “mmm ok.” And one time I saw an American a nd every time when she came here, she brought candies, cookies for him, and I would say that I would like to have a person like that American…

     I remember that one day I really felt alone when I looked around me and no one was my family, It was hard and the next day in our devotional while I was looking at the others praying I say “if you, God are real, I need someone to share things.” I knew God loves me, but I needed someone to trust, tell me things, I know that I can tell my things to God but I needed a person…  the  things spent… one day I met a person from the United States ( I had forgetten what I had asked to God) and that woman was the person what I was asking for when I challenged GOD in a prayer.  Then I said. “wow God is real.” That’s some of the things that I have seen the hands of God, since that time I start to believe that God is real, and then when they spoke to me about what Jesus did for me in that cross broke my heart. I accepted him as my savior. 

     My life wasn’t the same, and when I think about my family I don’t feel hate, I was saying, if they don’t visit me, I don’t care. My mom (the American) will come. I feel really lucky. I’m not crying saying, “why this could happen?” I’m praying and saying “thank you God for letting this happen, because if I were still living with my parenst I can’t image what will be going on in my life at this moment.” Maybe I might not be a Christian or I wouldn’t be speaking English like now. Life hurt me a lot, but I know  God was there in every silent place that I was. He helped me to hold on to everything. He has given to me a wonderful mom and great dad. I’m happy about what God did in my life and what he is doing and what he will do. I only need to trust him… he has blessed me in everything at high school with good grades, he is my strength.

     Right now I’m at the university studying tourism administration,. I’m living in the city, not in the orphanage, now is my time to show and teach to the rest that God is real and he loves us so much, I’m a volunteer in the youth ministry of my church. We give food to street boys and tell them that they aren’t alone, I’m here to help them and let them know that God has big plans for them. And tell them what God did for me.  -ken

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I love Jesus but I HATE lawnmowers...

Did I mention in the title that I HATE lawnmowers?
I guess I shouldn't hate the lawmower itself, I just hate the act of lawnmowing.


Tonight we were in a bit of a pickle.
Mr. Husband had to be at church for a meeting and our grass looked 8 kinds of bad. It needed cut.

Well let me give you a little background story.
Before saying, "I do," we both agreed on certain roles/responsibilities we would each have. Although I am a believer that men and women should know how to do as much as they can independently-- there are just some things that are done better by the other spouse.

I let him know UPFRONT that I hated mowing the grass and that I would prefer to take care of the flowers and my herb garden.
I don't mind the work or the sweat, I just don't believe in perfect lines and I certainly don't believe in pushing a heavy object sideways, up a hill.

Sometimes though, ya just gotta step up. And tonight I stepped up alright.
I tried to stay positive and I told myself I could do it.
Umm. no, I couldn't-- the more I tried, the more I failed. And the more I failed the more angry I got and the curvier the lines got.
Tufts of grass sprung up in places I had missed. This was just not a good scene.
I imagined the neighbors laughing from their windows as I had to pop wheelies because the mower kept getting stuck in random holes in the ground.

After about 20 minutes I see "old faithful" coming around the corner and he pulls up in the driveway smiling. He says thank you and tells me the grass looks great.
It didn't.
Not compared to his perfection.

So why I am telling you this?
I am telling you this because sometimes we have to do things we HATE!

I was never allowed to use that word growing up. If I did my mother would say, "Hate is such a strong word, Andrea."
Well, now I'm all grown up and just feel like saying, I will always hate mowing grass.
But I will always love Jesus.
And when you love Jesus, sometimes ya just gotta step up.
He did, didn't he?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The past sure can be a bittersweet mystery...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the past.

So many of our thoughts jump back into what was, instead of what is.
We run situations and experiences back through our brain, reprocessing life again and again, hoping to seek understanding.

In most instances, this gets us nowhere.
However, there are times this heals us, restores hope, and even brings to life memories we filed away.

I like to spend time memory matching. I call it memory matching because I attach new and old memories together. Like this evening while walking, I memory matched the smell of the honeysuckle to the same smell the woods behind my childhood home in West Virginia had. Oh, sweet memories.

If I drink milk, I think of my dad. He and I always drank milk and had barbeque chips on Sunday night.
If I drink tea, I think of my mom. She and I have anthropologie mugs that we keep at my house and when she is over, we indulge.
If I see flowers, I think of my grandma. Her garden was filled with so many beautiful flowers.

What memory matches did you make today? Were they sweet, like honeysuckle?

It's not the remembering that hurts us. We are prone to remember.
It's in the dwelling, the staying put, the captivity. That's what hurts.

The unchangeable will always be there. The broken, bruised, torn, and messed up hang out and when you invite them into your thought life, they take up residence, lock the door, and throw out the key.

After a while, those sweet honeysuckle thoughts happen less and less and the past is nothing but a bitter memory.

What we need to remember most, is that yes, the past will always be there.
Let the bad things, change you, move you, and strengthen you.

May your past remain a bittersweet memory, my friends.
You are loved for who you are right now.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Two years later and I still haven't unpacked...

Two years ago I knew a little bit about life. I knew about building a new home, teaching kids how to read, and I knew a little bit about the country of Peru. I knew we would be visiting a village in the jungles of South America. I knew the boys at this village were abandoned by their families, left on the streets to fend for themselves. And I knew God was calling me there, whispering again and again-- "This is your time." 

Two years later. I still haven't unpacked all of my bag.
It's kinda weird. 
I just didn't.
And now I know why...

A few days ago I got my bag down from the shelf and unzipped it. 

I smiled.

Love, Hope, and Peace were still inside, right where I left them.

And next to all those three things were...

my Nike shoes, my orange pillow, and my citrus body lotion.

Each of those items carry memory and purpose.

The shoes walked into another country to serve.
The pillow gave my head a place to lay each night.
and that lotion kept me refreshed and served as a reminder of that time and place.

Peru grew me, shook me up, and changed me in ways I still don't understand.
I'll never unpack that bag because I never want to forget what happened two years ago.

What place changed you?
How did you leave different?

If you have a story, I'd love to hear it.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Speak Life... Why tonight was a favorite

I'm nominating tonight's event, Pool Noodle Wreath's as my favorite.

Part of it was because we gave those noodles the best makeover of their lives.

But really, the best part of tonight was the people.

The people who took time from their busy lives, who came and sat and crafted and shared and spoke life into my studio. That's my favorite.

Life is spoken into the walls every time we gather there. Inside those walls...People learn. People inspire. People celebrate their creativity.

These were some of the words I heard this evening...

"I can just relax here."
"I'm a quiet crafter."
"I love how you made that flower."
"Show me how you did that."
"I'll see you next time."

and more than words tonight, I heard the sweetest sound of all...


We laughed so hard about so many things that would have gone unspoken had we not gathered together.

Stories were passed, songs were sung (that's right, Wildflower) and creativity reigned as Queen this evening.

Life was spoken.

How did you speak life into someone else's today?
Maybe thru a card, a word, a hug?

People need people more than ever.
People need to know they are loved.
People need to know they have a friend who will come running.
People need encouragement spoken into their souls.

Be that person people need.
And remember, if you need a friend
You know where to come.

A Place to Land~

Night everyone.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

If walls could talk...A Mother's Day Card for my mom.

You know the saying, "If your walls could talk, what would they say?"

Well, this year, my walls have a lot to say.

They have a lot to say about my mom.

I shall deem this piece "Chalk-Talk."

My walls say that you are lovely, and beautiful, and the perfect cup of tea.

They shout that you are strong, and courageous, and as solid as rock.

They whisper things like a faithful follower, a memory maker, and a story teller.

They remind everyone in the room of your bold, adventurous spirit.

They tell of your secrets of skydiving and frog-gigging.

My walls ask for colored chalk, because all the moments you live are bright and beautiful, and lovely.

My walls talk about the emptiness that found you, the love that saved you, and the happily-ever-after you are now living.

My walls could go on and on, leaving no space for a break, because there is so much to say, when someone is so good.

My walls say thank-you from a daughter who admires you and tries her hardest to be a mom like you were.

My walls say...

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Today is the only May 9, 2013 and you'll never get it back...

A few days ago I was releasing a few worries to my husband. He's quite the listener. He paused for a bit, and sincerely said... "Andrea, you will never get this Tuesday back."

What a crazy-true thought.

So here I write, two days later, carrying with me the moments of yesterday and the day before.
It's funny how so much can happen in 48 hours that change you.

We step into each untold moment,  every unsung second and are required to live it.

The beautiful/scary thing is that free will lets us sing out our moments.

We choose.

I pray today I chose grace and love and courage.

Sing your song.
Write your story
Paint your heart
and share His glory.

You will never get today back.
Make it the best May 9 ever.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

when someone calls you friend...

"See you later, friend."
That's what she said to me as I walked out the door.
She called me friend.

This morning, I spent a little time at SPLAT! (an amazing coffee shop in Mount Holly)
And a little FYI-- their Ethiopian coffee is the best cup of perfect!

I walked up to the counter and she said, "Let's Talk."
We discussed my business, A Place to Land. We talked about teaching and her experience teaching in China. We talked about God's bestowing of gifts and creativity. We just talked.

Coffee shops just have a way of bringing out the souls of people. They bring out the real, the raw, and the relaxed. 

The incredible thing about this morning though, is that she and I have only spoke three times.
Yet, as I left, she called me friend.

I have another friend who is there for me
He says, "Good morning, friend."
"Good afternoon, friend."
And he even says,
"Good evening, friend."

My Father, who abides in Heaven, whose name is hallowed and his kingdom is to come...
wants to be my friend.

My Father, who sees my ugliness, loves me anyway, and dispenses grace daily...
wants to be my friend.

What a peace that brings.

My Father, our maker, has blessed my life with so many friends.
Many I wish I could see/talk to more often.
What a gift.
What a blessing, to have a friend.

Below is a quick video of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" by Alan Jackson. As you listen
think about a friend you love, a friend you haven't spoken to in awhile, or even a friend who hurt you...
Call them.
Write them a note.
Say a prayer for them.
And thank God for them.

I love you friend.
Good night.

Monday, May 6, 2013

For when you need to know God is there...

When hands of ninety one years clench a hand five times smaller, not even a year old...

you know.

And when those hands give a gift built from legos and that gift is an airplane for your son...

you know.

When a man has a hard time remembering the here and now, but can remember every moment from World War II and wants to tell you about it.

And when you step into a room and see airplanes hanging from the ceiling, medals from war and you see this picture. This picture was my go-ahead from God. The picture that told me to keep writing.

you know.

When an outstretched arm cradles the back of your child's head and you know that same arm guided the path of a World War II airplane. When what he fought for was this very moment...
you know.

When you see the face of the man, sixty years ago and courage stands behind the eyes and freedom rings through pins on a uniform...

you know.

When your heart has carried around hopes of becoming a writer and you toil over perfect words and brilliant ideas, and you research and document and wonder if it even matters.

All this happens in a moments notice and you just know God is right there.

There are days that pass by and I don't feel a thing and don't know much at all. Days when my faith flounders, hope hides in the corner, and worry wavers above me.

But today, I knew.
I knew God purposefully planned for an afternoon with a friend.

I want you to know something.
I want you know God is there, holding on to your hand, clenching your head in his palm, working all things in your life for good.

Be still tonight my friends.
Just be still
and know.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

this one is for my husband.

He plays guitar, eats anything sweet, and can grow a beard faster than any man I know.

He loves working in our garden, taking great care of our yard, and can be found mowing our lawn every Friday evening.

 He wears flip-flops in the winter and wears Greg Norman shirts to school every day.

He is a really good story-teller and explains EVERYTHING to our son.

He is a very simple man, well-organized, and has an amazing ability to keep me calm.

He cares a lot about the future of education and is one of the best teachers I know.

 He reads his Bible every morning, while eating either waffles or carmel delight cereal.

He is the best husband, most amazing father, and my favorite person in the world.

So this is for you, Daniel.

Thank you.

Take time this week to tell someone how much they mean to you. People need reminders. They need to hear it. They need to know they matter to you.

Be Blessed My Friends