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Guatemalan Getaway

Heavy black exhaust fumes are unwelcome visitors barging in bus windows we have quickly opened to escape the heat.  We are two hours from the Guatemala City airport and there’s no quick way out of here.Getway 6

Not now.

We are officially committed on a nine-day course.

Our tag team of new age missionaries has set out to make monetary modifications; while our first visual encounters threaten to submerge us in a sea of hopelessness.  Poverty has clearly permeated every community in this war-torn country. So, in self-defense, we make jokes about the “chicken bus,” the obnoxious horns, and the extra-large Taco Bell.

Getaway 2

Still, it’s hard to ignore the little tin huts and greasy auto repair shops that are all around us as we head deeper into the abyss. The obnoxiously rude blaring bus horns continue to assault the senses and the smell of blackened filth seems to sit all around us.

Just as the sun is setting low over our arrival in this third world country, we pull into the place that will be our refuge. There is barely enough light to see and a hot shower is considered a luxury. Even when we have hot water, it is so contaminated we are warned not to get it in our eyes or mouth.

The temperature has dropped to a brisk 54 degrees with a noticeably cooler breeze blowing.  The rain started, but quickly stopped, and everything feels just a little damp.  It might dry out in the heat of tomorrow, but more than likely another little cloud will drift in again.

Yet, we feel incredibly blessed.

We were expecting much worse conditions.  

Our guard goes down and we settle in.

 

Morning comes with hot pancakes and coffee.

Our arrival is anticipated in the Guatemalan village of Getaway 31Patzicia where their reactions, and ours, are mixed with apprehension, anticipation, and excitement.  It’s a pleasant place with happy home visits, a few minutes at the market, and a spontaneous soccer match.

We are good to go on.

 

Bland refried black beans for the next breakfast, with grainy unseasoned corn tortillas, signal that the trip is about to change.  Our initial introduction into this mission is finally morphing into the real reason we are here. Happy home visits segue into an introduction to small hidden huts not fit for human habitation.

Getaway 30They are homes for families with five or ten children.  The despair runs deep.  The necessities for their existence are lacking at every level.  Our hearts sink.  Our emotions steel. We take inventory of what we have to give and we get to work.

Prayer is priority as our God sees and He knows and He is able.  We dole out compassion, understanding, encouragement, and love. Getaway 29  We offer up hugs, and smiles, as laughter seeps through the cracks and out into the courtyards.

God is in this place.

And, he has more for us to see.Getaway 33

 

 

Up on a remote mountain, where we experience a million miracles just riding safely in that chicken bus, we see and smell a society so far removed from our own that we are stunned!
Children, under the age of five, are dying here in San Antonio Nejapa on days when the smoke inhalation is more than their Getaway 12little lungs can filter and fight.

We are anxious to help solve this unnecessary situation and we set about installing new
stoves.Getaway 13

The inventors of this quickly assembled contraption should be honored at the city gates, as they have been given the great gift of God’s wisdom.

Getaway 15

We are humbled.

Truly humbled to help.

Our iPhones are pulled out of pockets and backpacks for the sole purpose of taking pictures so this moment of meeting on God’s terms is recorded outside of our hearts for others to see.

Getaway 17We have to share their story.  We have to tell about the stoves.

They are not expensive. In fact, their affordability is astonishing.   Who among us would not give $110 to save the life of a child?

Getaway 16

 

Time is running out.

It’s not the setting of the sun, but thick white clouds coming down on the mountain that send us back to our weeklong refuge.

The revelation of all that we own will be a bit more relevant tonight.  We gather together around a fire to sing praise songs, share stories, and make plans with a new purpose.

It doesn’t have to be us. It can be anybody.  It can be you.  There are volunteers trained in the art of stove assembly.  They just need people who are willing to pay for the life of a child.

 

 

We walk reluctantly back to our rooms.

There is still barely enough light to see.

We know that a hot shower is a luxury they have never had.

 

Getaway 19

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,

and he will reward them for what they have done.” 
 — Proverbs 19:17

http://www.compassion.com

© Copyright 2016, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserve

The Three Wise Men

         The tumblers inside a tiny little padlock we use on the hitch of our horse trailer were stuck and it wouldn’t close.  I was struggling in the dark trying to get it done and get home before bedtime.  My son, my dad and I had returned from a tripThree Wise Men Dad later than we expected, had just unloaded the horses and turned them out into the pasture.  As Dad took over, fiddling with the lock, I stepped back and busied myself with some of the other details.  I wasn’t really aware of what all was happening until I heard him say, “If I had some WD-40 I could fix it.”  My son and I glanced at each other, both of us knowing there was a can in the barn, but neither of us wanting to make the trip up the steep hill in the dark. So, rather than ask us to do that, my dad went about looking for the next best solution.  I’ve watched him do it my entire life and now my 16-year-old son is witness to what happens when you can’t get the answer on-line. 

          Once Dad had driven his SUV over and turned on the headlights so he could see the lock and trailer in the dark, he popped open the hood.  Then, with a little hand-held flashlight shining on the engine, he reached in and slowly removed the dipstick from the oil container.  He carefully let a couple of drops ease into the lock and it snapped shut.  As we got into our separate vehicles for the 45 minute drive to our homes, my son, a straight A Honors English and AP History student, looked at me and said, “Gramps is brilliant!”  In a laugh that let him know I was in total agreement, I responded, “Yes, he is, but I bet that’s not the first time he has used that little trick to fix something.”

           My Dad is one of those people who took a 12th grade education and turned it into an ability to fix, build, design, and create just about anything he wants or needs.  He even has the most amazing and precise handwriting.  And, anytime he starts talking mathematical equations, measurements, or geometry-type stuff, I slowly slip away, hoping he won’t ask me if I know the answer.  My college-educated brain just doesn’t work that way.

           Likewise, my husband’s father took his high school education and not only ministered a church for 40 years, without a Three Wise Men Papawsalary, but also built houses…entire houses.  It wasn’t like he hired an architect and a contractor; he did it with sweat equity and his own two hands.  All this he did after his regular job as a weigh master at the stockyards. Some of the men he worked with used to tease him about his volunteer labor at the church and nicknamed him “Preach.” But when anyone was in need, sick or dying, he was the one they sought after.  Even at his funeral, a child of one of his co-workers credited him with leading his dad to the Lord. 

          The “Little Flock” he tended still talks of all they learned from him.  And the many houses he built are all standing as shelter for families he never met but had a hand in protecting.

          Three full-time jobs, one man, one wise and remarkable life.  

          My Papaw only got to go to the 3rd grade.  It’s unheard of these days, but back then, it wasn’t at all unusual for a child to be required to leave their opportunity to learn in order to care for family. He wasn’t very tall, mostly bald and wore bib overalls almost every day.  A little like Jesus is described in the book of Isaiah, there was nothing about the way he looked that would necessarily attract anyone to him.  Yet, he was a fascinating man.  During two weeks every summer, at Christmas and any opportunity in between, I wanted to be his shadow…except, of course, when he got up before dark, in the freezing cold, to draw water from the well and get a fire started.  Those times I was content just to lay under a heavy mountain of blankets and quilts listening as he moved about the house preparing it for the rest of us. Papaw Sumner Edge

          He grew the best garden for my mamaw, planted and worked a large tobacco crop; he worked at a lumber mill, for the railroad, and he used mules and slip scrapers to help build a highway.  (Don’t ask, I have no idea what a slip scraper is, but he told me about it once.)  And while all of this may make him sound somewhat like a common, blue-collar man, it’s totally uncommon in our society today.  Would you know how to cut a perfect beam out of an old tree sawed down in the woods?  Could you operate a freight train or connect the steel with sharp spikes to form the track?  What about hitching up a couple of stubborn old mules, convincing them to move in the same direction and then using them to navigate hills and valleys scraping out the right amount of rock and dirt for a new highway?  I have no idea where he acquired the necessary tools to make it in this world, but I know where he got the wisdom.

 “If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you.

God gives freely to everyone. He doesn’t find fault.”  

James 1:5 (NIRV)

           If I weren’t always so busy telling my husband what “I” think “He” should do, I might be able to learn more from the wisdom God has given him.  He is a very wise man. When I’m in over my head, he frequently rescues me.  But this is “The Three Wise Men” — not the “Four” — so he’ll have to wait and get on our son’s “wise man list” in the lineage of family storytelling.

 As you celebrate this holiday season, look around you and identify three wise men in your life.  

You might be surprised by the great gift God has given to them.

 Remember, God took a shepherd boy and made him a king.

He took a bunch of fishermen and made them apostles.

And He took a little baby and made Him our Savior!

 

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Hope to see you again soon!

© Copyright 2013, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Did They Drop the Nails?


The old Catholic convent smelled like smoke as we walked toward the flickering glow of small candles illuminating TVCthe altar.  Everyone had been handed a nail and most of us knew what we would be asked to do before the night was over.  It’s an annual tradition, a ritual of sorts, and a precious opportunity that only comes around on Good Friday.  Sometimes I think I would rather not go.  I came up with any number of excuses that sounded legitimate this year.  But just when I thought I had made up my mind to do something else, I felt drawn to go. 

            Our friends wanted to go with us this year and the desire to share this sacred moment with them was leading us back on the path that was now lit by tiny votive candles. 

            It was supposed to be a silent service.  But we, as a society, find it so hard to sit still, so hard to unplug, so hard to quit whispering messages to the person next to us.   When the auditorium was almost full and we had just begun to settle in and try to still our thoughts, a cell phone began to ring in the row in front of us.  The man’s wife gave him that scolding look only a wife can give a husband.   He struggled to turn it off as it rang and rang and rang.  About five minutes later, her phone began to ring and there was no stopping the laughter that came from all those around them.

          Then the ping, ping, ping of nails hitting the floor seemed just as distracting, at first.  But then I started to wonder, did they drop the nails?  Nails EdgeDid the men who crucified Jesus drop any of the nails?  Were their hands shaking in anger?  Were they shaking in fear?  How must it have felt to place that sharp point on His most perfect and innocent flesh and then raise the hammer, make contact with the head of the nail and drive it into those loving, giving, accepting, amazing, most beautiful hands?

          Our choir sang in Latin with an English translation on the large video screen.  It was amazing.  We silently read the last seven sayings of our Lord and Savior before He willingly gave up His spirit.  Tears were flowing throughout the darkened church as we each stood and walked toward the old wooden cross.  There, just beyond the altar, we each nailed our sins to the cross.  It is always the hammering that makes it almost unbearable.  Our son said he imagined the sound to be steady beats from a drum as he tried to contain his emotions while stepping forward to accept his part in the process.  No matter how many times you have heard hammering, you have not heard it like this.  It feels like the floor is moving, with our hearts pounding, and our hands shaking.  No matter how many times you participate, it feels much the same.  My sin, my shame, my fears, my failures, held Him there on that cross.

          Oh the sweet relief of communion.  The hammering finally subsided.  We ate the bread of life and drank from the fruit of the vine and it was over.  It was finished.  It was done.  He is alive.  Resurrected in all His glory and sitting at the right hand of our God.  Our debt PAID IN FULL!  Our lives begin again.  We are renewed.

          As we walk toward our cars, our friend says she has never gotten more out of an Easter service in her entire life.  We smile.  I joke that no matter how it made us feel, I will walk right out that door and sin again.  They double-check to make sure I’m not planning to sin anytime soon.  And I’m not.  But I know I will, probably even before the night is over.  He knows I will.  He knows me.  But He came to save me.  And He will save you too.   He can even save the men who crucified Him.  Did they believe in Him before their wretched job was over?  Did the earthquake, the sun going dark, the dividing curtain of the Temple ripping apart, convince them that He was and is in fact the Son of God?  Did they have extra nails?  Did they drop the nails?

Nails Edge

And Jesus said to the thief on the cross, the one who believed in him at the last-minute,the one who had sinned up until that very moment,

 “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

© Copyright 2013, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

I Saw the Light!

          It was just a passing comment; “I wish Judah’s breast collar had a hook instead of a buckle.   It would be so much easier to attach.”  That was it.  The full extent of a statement made in front of a barn full of other horseback riders.  It wasn’t unique or unusual, I didn’t put any particular emphasis on what I was saying, I just said it.  In fact, I had probably forgotten I said it before I rode Judah out of the barn and toward the trail. 

           The next morning, as I reached under Judah’s belly to attach the leather strap to her girth, there was a hook.  When I looked up in astonishment,  I was told someone I had just met fixed it for me.

          And I saw the light.
  

          A hot ham and cheese sandwich was what everyone wanted when we stopped at a restaurant in a busy part of town.  The waitress was asking a male customer if he needed anything and we were shocked to hear him scold her for sorry service and bad food.  She looked embarrassed when she saw our expressions, but came to our table with a smile on her face.  

          Her demeanor did not change, even when she returned to the man’s table to bring him another glass of tea.  She kept her smile.  She kept her cool.  She kept her customers.

          And I saw the light.

           If I had only looked a little closer, a little longer, at all the words written on the school website, I might have found the answer I needed.  But it was storming outside, and before I drove my son all the way across town, I wanted to make sure the Back to School Bash was still on tap.  As hot summer days gave way to cool August nights, classes were set to begin in just three days.  The phones had to be ringing constantly as new students, parents, teachers and delivery service personnel verified important information.  I knew the administrative assistant would probably be feeling overworked, but I still needed a quick answer to my question.  When she picked up the phone, I could hear in her voice that she was smiling.  She could have been short, stressed and irritated, but she was sweet, kind and helpful.

           And I saw the light.

          Yesterday, I called (weeks later than I should have) to make reservations for an event that almost always sells out.  I already knew the main section was full and I would be lucky if we could still squeeze into a less desirable spot.  The precious woman, who tirelessly coordinates all the visitors and their various requests, told me they were rearranging some things and the owner had reserved our spots…all I needed to do was send a deposit.

         And, I’m telling you,

                    I SAW THE LIGHT!

           Every day, we get a chance to be light in the darkness.  It’s a chance and it’s a choice.  Too often, I add to the darkness with my bad mood or attitude.  But we are called to step up higher…to lift each other up…encourage each other…to overlook offenses…to give anonymously…to choose kindness over criticism…to choose patience over anger…to choose to do something nice and kind just because it’s the right thing to do.  

           I’m sure I could find bigger examples, more impressive ways I’ve seen the light lately.  But after each of these things happened, I stopped and thought about the fact that the people had made a conscious choice to be kind. It’s usually not those in great positions of wealth and power who impact our every day lives…it’s often the people we meet in traffic…at school…at work…at home. 

 We are light.  We don’t have to be, but we can choose to be. 

And then we get to be!

 “You are the light of the world.”

Matthew 5:14

 “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  

Matthew 5:16

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

Live as children of light.”

Ephesians 5:8

 

“This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine…”

Ha ha just kidding you can stop singing now. 😉

 

© Copyright 2012, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved 

 

Search Engine Sanity

  (Audio version)   

         KeziahCarrie may not be the most memorable of website monikers, but when I was mulling over all the practical possibilities, it’s the one that seemed to have the most meaning and set the right mood for what I thought God might want me to say.

          During the mental competition that ensued, KeziahCarrie was deadlocked with Front Porch Swing, and every now and then I second guess myself and wonder if FPS might have made more sense than KC.  I’m a woman who contemplates things.  I analyze them.  I pick them apart.  I weigh the pros and cons.  I decide.  Then I unravel the decision and start asking opinions.  When other people weigh in, sometimes I listen and sometimes I’ve already decided, and I’m just searching for validation.   I sort of wear myself out.

          It’s the same type of thing that happens to a lot of WordPress writers when we start looking at stats.  Those are the daily/weekly/monthly/yearly numbers that tell us if anyone is reading what we’re writing…where they are in the world…what posts they preferred and whether they cared enough to click on the “subscribe button” and come back.  The stats can blow your mind in a moment, make your day and send you away walking ten feet tall… OR… they can leave you dumbfounded and doubting, teetering on the edge of depression and despair.   Such is the POWER of stats.  You try not to look and then you glance up and see the Stats button and you start to click on it, and then you don’t, and then you do.

          It’s a mountain I don’t intend to travel around for the next 40 years.  I see that sneaky snake.  And I remember the song we sang in Vacation Bible School.  Be careful little eyes what you see!  🙂  So, I cast my glance away from the numbers to the real reason many women have joined us here at www.keziahcarrie.com.  It’s the Search Engine Terms.  A column of information guaranteed to lift spirits, make you laugh and remind even a doubting Thomas that God has a sense of humor, and can send you straight to any website even if it has a strange name.

          Beautiful big houseskayak womanif I had the wings of an angel in prison walls have all landed women on this
page.  My sister’s smelly socks…. world’s most smelliest socks… and my son’s personal favorite… deadly smelly socks…may
have sent some men to this site.  I’m not pulling your leg or blogging about the pastor; KeziahCarrie popped up, as a possible
answer, for those Binging, Googling or Yahooing their way through these words.  How do you draw a guitarstand in the rain…or make an angry face in the darkness?   Happy people talkingGod dreamed you…and my personal favorite…handshake in front of the Christmas tree

          A donkey drinking oil painting may or may not be better than a gift wrapped in money but little things matter so reap investment in the long run.  There’s a time image, life memories and oddly enough someone beating donkey.

           Readers have searched their way here from Egypt, Italy, Australia, Indonesia, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Columbia, Trinidad, Canada, Singapore, Sweden, Jordan, the Philippines, Paraguay and some other places I need to Google.  I guess all writers dream of a mob mentality on their out day download.

          The Search Engine Terms surely documented to ease my wondering mind… two hits for front porch swing but many more for KeziahCarrie! 🙂

          God is good, God is fun, God loves laughter and whether you believe it or not, He works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose… even if He has to use majestic white horses calling on a rotary wall phone.

 

 “A joyful heart is good medicine…”

Proverbs 17:22

 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Proverbs 31:25

 The craziest thing I’ve searched recently:

 How to stop a fat horse from eating?

 And you know what?

There are DOZENS of pages dedicated to the topic.

Who knew?

What’s the wildest thing you’ve searched lately?  

Come on, you can tell us.

🙂

© Copyright 2012, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

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