Thursday, March 22, 2012

three years sober: back to the roots

the other day, in anticipation of today (my three year sobriety date), i wrote this really cool blog about my story and how i first started going to AA and how i never thought i'd make it a day without drinking and how god truly rescued me out of the mess i was in.  but i think it missed the point.

so, let's throw all the crap out of the window...shall we?

today i'm reminded of two basic things that i learned at AA (that i wish remembered all the time!!):  

radical honesty
i learned to be brutally honest about my flaws and failures.    

radical dependency
i know i cannot make it through another day without the help of my friends and without the help of god.

if we accept both of these foundations, we WILL experience true life change.  by god's grace, i'm a living example of that!  three years ago, i hit rock bottom, thought i'd never be able to quit, thought i'd never be able to change my life.  yet, through these basic (but difficult and profound) steps, my life has radically changed!  

may we all incorporate radical honesty and dependency into all areas of our lives.  and as a mentor reminds me on a frequent basis: "make war with your sin...not peace."

1 timothy 1:15-17

much love.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NIV bible app review

in exchange for this short blog, i received a free copy of the new NIV bible app for my ipad from zondervan.

here's my pro/con list of the app.


  • interactive maps, graphs, videos
  • study notes in the side bar (that slide down as you read)
  • able to see where other key vocab words are used in other sections of scripture
  • able to highlight and take notes (which i don't use)
  • expensive
  • they tried to cut word counts in the study notes by using abbreviations...they're confusing
  • it's kind of hard to navigate/find your way around

if you're into the electronic version of the bible (i go back and forth), then this is totally worth the 26ish dollars.  it's way cheaper then a print version of the study bible (about $95).  and it's way one want's to carry a huge/clunky bible around...unless you intend on beating people over the head with it.  haha.  so, buy it.  

much love.         

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

my firsthand experience with kony 2010

by now you've probably heard of joseph kony and invisible children (IC).  there's a lotta talk/drama circulating about the 30 minute video done by IC.  despite all that, this is a real problem...and kony does need to be stopped.  

but i don't really wanna get into that...what i'd like to share with you is a small portion of my experience in northern uganda while on the world race a couple of years ago.  i spent two months (on and off) in northern uganda, the area that was most impacted by kony and his LRA army.  

while we worked directly with the victims of kony/LRA for the two months, i vividly remember spending an evening with nancy and andrew the most.  nancy and andrew are just two of the thousands of children severely impacted by kony and his army.  we sat in their mud brick house and prayed together and listened to them tell stories (while drinking coca-cola and listening to a huge rain storm roll in...when the storm arrived, it was so fierce that i actually got super scared).  as a result of that night, my life will never be the same.  

a few days later, as i sat to type a blog about the experience in a tiny coffee shop in gulu, uganda, i was at a loss for words (it was a common experience for me on the race; i'd experience something beautiful and not be able to articulate it for my readers).  anyways, here's what i came up with (like my last blog, this is long but worth the read):  

"i spent the last 18 days or so in northern uganda...splitting the time between teams in lira and gulu.  i sat down this afternoon to try and put it all into words.  i tried to describe the pain and suffering the men and women of these communities have endured.  but more importantly, i tried to describe the faith that these people have through ALL of it.  i struggled to paint the appropriate picture but my friend, halley power, did an incredible below is her latest blog titled "children of war."  thank you halley!!  

(beginning of halley's blog) 
'When I was twelve years old, my main concern was surviving middle school. My mind was focused on things like impressing my crush, having my own phone line,and getting my first kiss. I think back to those years and remember how awkward I was. Life was tough on all of us at that age, right? So I thought.

In my last blog, I introduced you to Nancy. Now I'd like to share her story with you.
When Nancy was twelve, her concept of struggle was totally different than mine. In 2003, she was abducted from her home at night, along with 9 other siblings and cousins. The rebels targeted her home after being informed of two things. First of all, a teacher (her father-Santo-also introduced in my last blog) lived there, which to them meant he worked for the government. Second, they were informed that there would be many children there. The rebels came to the house around 11:30 that night. They threatened the bomb the entire house if they weren't allowed in, so the mother opened the door. Santo had left that very day to stay at the university, so he wasn't at home. If the rebels had come one day earlier or later, he would have been killed. Everyone was tied together and taken away. Nancy said she was cryinghysterically, but they threatened to kill anyone who cried. The rebels took all of the belongings from the house and dragged the children into the night. The mother was dropped off and allowed to return home because she had Robin (a small baby at the time). Out of the ten children taken from the home that continued with the rebels, the youngest was six. The commander told them that they wanted Santo to pursue them so that he could be killed. The kids were smeared with a black vasaline-type substance so that they could be identified by other rebels in the event of an escape. This marker meant they would be killed on site. They then began their walk to Sudan.
Andrew is Nancy's brother. I've also gotten very close to him. He has a large part in this story, as well. Andrew was ten when the rebels came. The ten children were separated into different groups. Andrew was with some of the other children, but not Nancy. Andrew had a special job. He was basically one of the commander's personal slave. He carried his equipment, gun, and food. They were given very little (if anything) to eat most of the time. Typically, two cups of beans was split between his group of twenty other abductees. The rebels had no regard for human life. If they came across a river that needed to be crossed, someone would be pushed in to gage the depth, which usually resulted in drowning. They were frequently beaten by canes for being "lazy". They were walking to Sudan to train to become soldiers. Yes, I do mean walking to Sudan. At one point, Andrew said he was too tired to keep going. His feet, ankles, and legs were swollen greatly. Running on barely any food, he had enough. He sat down and refused to keep walking. Keep in mind he is ten years old at this time. The commanders threaten to kill him if he doesn't continue. He tells them that they'll just have to kill him because he can't do it anymore. An older abductee (around thirty) had a similar response with exhaustion. Without thought, they killed him with a machete. Andrew guesses they let him live because he was the coveted luggage carrier. He finally got up and continued walking. 

Both Nancy and Andrew have a similar escape story, even though they happened two months apart. Government troops ambushed the rebels. Planes flew overhead and dropped bombs. Soldiers on the ground fired guns. The commander that Andrew was tied to was shot in the chest. They both fell to the ground. Andrew grabbed the knife from the rebel's waistbelt and cut himself free. He crawled on the ground until he escaped the gun fire. A soldier eventually found him and took him to safety. In the chaos of the battle Nancy encountered, she ran as fast as she could into the bush. She ran and ran until she finally found help.

Andrew was gone for one year and one month. He was the first to return home. Nancy was gone for one year and three months. Out of the ten that were taken, only six survived. Their sister was killed by a government bomb during an attack. Casualties was not a concern. Three cousins died as well, but I'm not sure of the details.Andrew thinks he was the only person to survive the day he escaped. He said, "God protected me...because I was tied to the commander who was shot, I fell on the ground. The bullets went above me. God must have a special plan for my life". Wow.
If you've seen the movie Blood Diamond, you remember the scene where the African father finds his young son who was abducted and turned into a child soldier. The son doesn't recognize his father. I always thought this part was dramatized in the movie. Who could forget their own father? Andrew could. He didn't rememberpeople. He didn't remember how to have normal conversations. He was used to only following commands. War was all he knew. It took time, but he was rehabilitated and is doing wonderful. He's so intelligent and mature for his age.
Nancy is doing well also. She is nineteen and just passed the exams to continue her education. She wants to be a doctor. She sings in the youth worship group and has been at church almost every day since we've been here. I'm really going to miss my friend. Santo, Nancy, Andrew, and the rest of the family have been so hospitable. We spent time at their home again this week and it was amazing, just like last time (refer to previous blog).
These are faces of Northern Uganda. This nation has been plagued with the longest running war of Africa's history. And it's been personal. Every single person we've encountered was affected. It's their story. And there are so many. These stories are no longer just stories. Nancy and Andrew are representations of the mllions ofpeople that  have endured through this conflict. They've all been through so much, but they have hope. They have joy. Last night there was worship time at the church. The last song they sang was one I'd heard before...but never in this light. "Sing for joy to God our strength." I've been in services in which we sang this song. For these people, it has so much more meaning. God has been their strength. And he is their joy. In the midst of the tragedies they've faced, they latched onto the hope of Christ. They glow with joy. Glow. And it's contagious. They give me hope.
If we call to him he will answer us
If we run to him he will run to us
If we lift our hands he will lift us up
Come now praise his name, all you saints of God
Sing for joy to God our strength
Sing for joy to God our strength
Draw near to him, he is here with us
Give him your love, he's in love with us 
He will heal our hearts, he will cleanse our hands
If we rend our hearts, he will 
heal our land.'"
god is love, nothing is impossible.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

in the name of jesus, breathe

**this is a blog my friend marissa villa wrote (with a small part i wrote at the end) just over two years ago about an incredible experience i had in uganda.  it's long but i think it's well worth the read.  two years later i still wonder if trevor was dead when i showed up to the motorcycle crash...but i'll never forget his little lifeless body as he lay motionless in the middle of the street.  and i'll never forget putting him in the back of the car and seeing him breathe for the first time.**  much love. 

They met for the first time in the Atlanta, Georgia airport back in May 2009. Matt PatchAustin Anglea and Dan Snyder: instant brothers with much in common. After training camp the three of them had dreams and visions of the Lord using them together. Even though they'd talked about it with each other, none really knew what it could possibly look like. 
In November 2009, Matt, Dan and Austin were baptized together in the Jordan River by their brother, Aaron Bruner.  As they prepared for the baptisms, they reminisced about the dreams and visions the Lord had given them and how He was going to use the three of them in His Kingdom to do huge things (read Aaron's blog about it here). 

It's now Feb. 26, 2010, and the three have gathered in Jinja, Uganda. 

Austin was in town purchasing bus tickets for his team as Dan and Matt took a boda boda, or a motorcycle taxi, into town to do some work on the Internet. 

Little did they know that God was about to use these three transformed men--one a former teacher/coach, another a former realtor, and the other a former cop--in a mighty way. Just one to three years ago they were living for themselves, living the American Dream, the party life. Today they were living for the Kingdom. 

As Matt and Dan rode towards the town of Jinja on the back of the boda bodas, they saw a man surrounded by a group of people, laying on the ground to the left of the road.  As the bodas slowed, the man, who was covered in blood, came to his feet. He'd obviously been hit by a car or thrown off of a boda, but seemed OK. The drivers kept moving.    

As the boda bodas came around a slight bend in the road, Matt and Dan noticed a motorcycle laying there. Its pieces were strewn across the road. As the bodas slowed, a young girl of about 7 years old came into view. She was wearing a pink dress and her face and arms were covered in blood, but she at least was standing. 

But just past her, a group of about 15 people were surrounding something else on the road. The boda bodas stopped in front of the group and a small boy, also about 7 years old, came into view. His body was laying in the middle of the road. 

He was lifeless.
"He's dead," they thought. 

A man shaked the boy, trying to bring him back to life, but he lay limp. 

Dan and Matt pushed through the crowd to get to the boy who had a four inch bleeding bulge on his forehead. His mouth and ear was spilling blood. 

Matt prayed as Dan looked around for a ride to get the boy to the hospital. 

It was then that Austin arrived on another boda boda that was coming from the other direction. Austin jumped off of the motorcycle and immediately ran to the boy. 

"The kid's dead," Dan told him. 

Dan told Austin that someone in the crowd was willing to take the boy to the hospital. The two of them and another man carried the lifeless boy's body to the car. 

"Do you feel a pulse or see him breathing?" Dan asked Austin. 

Austin stopped his prayer mid-sentence, looked up, and simply responded, "No." 

As they lay the boy in the backseat of the car, Austin pulled his sweatshirt off and put it under the boy's head. As he did this, the boy's chest started to rise and fall. 

He was breathing. 

The prayers for the boy continued as Dan, Matt and Austin climbed back on boda bodas. Matt and Dan rode to the hospital to pray over the boy again. The doctor on duty said the hospital didn't have the necessary medicine to stop the bleeding and swelling in the boy's head. 

Matt and Dan decided they'd have to buy the medicine. They ran across the street and bought some, ran back, and gave it to the doctor. 

They prayed again.  

Meanwhile, Austin hopped back on his boda boda along with the boy's friend and the driver on a mission to find the boy's parents. They drove along back roads, through clothes hanging on lines, and finally arrived in the boy's village. His parents weren't home, but they managed to find neighbors who agreed to tell the boy's parents about the emergency. 

A few hours later, Dan and Matt were at the hospital again to pray for the boy once more. They found him, his mother, and his close family friend there. They were told the boy, Trevor, and his sister, Precious, were both hit by a boda boda. 

And they both survived. 

The family is Christian and the family friend who was there is a pastor. Dan and Matt explained what had happened, that Trevor hadn't been breathing when they'd first arrived, but that his breathing came back after they started praying for him. 

As they prayed for him again, Trevor began to move his fingers and his eyes started to flutter. His mother, Sarah, thanked God and thanked them for praying for her son. 

They promised to keep Trevor and Precious in their prayers, and walked away knowing they'd experienced the miraculous ability of the Lord and prayer. 

I remember becoming irritated as it was taking a ridiculous amount of time to buy the tickets for the team. But it was no accident for it was the Lord delaying me for what was soon to happen!  After my time spent in town I headed back on the motorcycle taxi.  I looked ahead and saw a crowd of people and as soon as we pulled up close I saw Dan in the middle taking charge of the situation, and by the look on his face I knew something was wrong. I tapped my driver and told him to stop, I needed off!  I remember seeing the boy laying in the middle of the road saturated in blood, Dan looked at me and said, "he's dead."  Going up to the boy he was lifeless, as his eyes were open but glazed over, he surely looked dead. There was a man there trying to massage his chest trying to get his heart working. Not knowing what else to do, I put a hand on the boy and began to pray in the Spirit as Dan figured out a car to put the kid in.......we carried Trevor to the car while all three of us continued to pray and then the car pulled off to take the boy to the hospital. As quick as that, it was done.....riding back home on the taxi after we went and told the people in the boy's village, I began to cry thinking about the whole situation, but then I began to think how God aligned the three of us in order to be there for that boy, and I began to rejoice!  God has a plan for that boy and he wanted him to live, and how grateful the three of us are to be a part of what God wanted done that day. 

Once we pulled up I was scared, shocked, and felt useless. I was looking at a lifeless child. A million things started to create a wall in my mind. Then God busted through all of the feelings and said, "hold on, I'm bigger than that... pray." So, I did. I walked away from today realizing that being in God's will is just that... being. I can't do anything. However, in Christ I can do everything. All I have to do is "be". Did I raise the dead today? No. I witnessed the beautiful gift of life that was being stolen given back. Glory be to God. How wonderful and amazing He is to let us be a part of His plan, His miracles... His son Trevor's life.

once we pulled up and i saw trevor i thought without a doubt that he was dead...just the way he was laying on the pavement, i could tell.  as i got closer and saw his forehead, the blood coming from his ear and mouth and his half opened, glazed over eyes...i just knew he was dead.  in retrospect though, i have no idea if he was dead.  to be honest, i thought about praying but quickly replaced that thought with, "i've gotta get him to the hospital" and started working to find a driver to get him there.  i looked over at matty and saw him praying on the side of the road...and then out of nowhere austy showed think of all the different variables that went into the three of us being there at that exact's unbelievable.  anyways, i didn't think about praying again until i heard austin praying as we carried trevor to the car.  i immediately started praying and a few seconds later, after all three of us were praying, trevor started breathing.  i didn't realize it as it was happening but god put the three of us in this situation for a purpose...he had aligned blows my mind...three different guys...all doing different things amongst the chaos to help this boy...trusting our god...praying with all that we had...and trevor lived.  i know we didn't act any differently then most people would've but the lord put the three of us there for a experience his miracles and the indescribable power of prayer...and trevor lived...that's the kind of god i am willing to give my life to.  

*As of 2/27/10, Trevor is still alive but they doctors are concerned about the trauma to his head, please keep him in your prayers*