Esther Pavao
I feel like poetry and songs express what people feel far better than words every could, so I'm not even going to try and explain this one.

One wild rose-flower, growing alone
Surrounded by weeds, and sticks, and stone
In spite of all danger, no thought for herself
Lifts up her face, displaying her wealth
With all odds against her, she stands straight and true
A blessing to everyone, but mostly to You
Who placed her there, tilting her face to the sky.
If she can trust You, Lord, so can I.

On a soft breeze soars a small bird.
Though many a song from him, never a word.
Small and weak though he is, never a thought
Does he give for his safety. Clothes he has not
The future means nothing, he is simply free
To sing to his God who made him to be
A creature of worship, a jewel in His sky.
If he can praise You, Lord, so can I.

Her life has been nothing but hardships and sorrow
With no hope of change in her every tomorrow.
Alone in a world that cares nothing for her
She's lost all the family and friends that there were.
But on hearing Your name, she lights up with a smile,
Her trouble forgotton, no memory of trial.
She speaks of Your goodness, Your hand in her life.
If she can Love You, Lord, so can I.
Esther Pavao

I wanted to take a minute today to talk about one of my favorite miracles that God has done: my brother. At birth, my brother was born with congenital heart defects. A big word which summed up means, "Nothing exciting in your future". One of his valves in his heart was "stuck" and they performed a surgery on him within the first week of his birth. I won't go into all the medical terms that I've taken years to try to understand and can't remember what they're called, but they essentially sent a "balloon" down into his heart and tried to inflate it in order to release the tightness in the valve, and ripped it open, forcing them to perform open heart surgery on him. It didn't entirely fix the problem. The valve, while partially repaired, still leaked blood back into the chamber after pumping once, so his heart pumped a second time to send the rest of the blood on, making his heart beat twice when a normal person's would beat once. This began a series of hospital visits that frustrated Austin to no end.

Easter Photoshoot
When he was younger, the frustrations were hardly noticeable. He got tired before other people and he was not allowed to have any candy, soda, juice or popsicles with blue dye in the because when he stained the outside of his mouth blue, he looked like he didn't have any oxygen. As he got older and his friends were allowed to play sports while he was only allowed to spectate, he started to get angry with my mom and God for not letting him be normal.

Austin and Me!
Doctors and surgeons alike told him he'd never get to play sports or be active and his dream of becoming a pilot was ridiculous. No one in their right mind would let someone with his medical record pilot a plane because of the risk he held of having a sudden heart attack due to altitude. Many people would have given up and found a new dream. He could have chosen to give in and learn computer graphics or become a doctor himself, but Austin didn't. He begged for a chance to play soccer. The doctor was hesitant at first and told my mom a story of someone who had Austin's problem. He too had begged for a chance to play sports and wouldn't listen when they told him he shouldn't. He played football and one day, during a game,  his heart literally exploded. (That's what I remember being told. Maybe I was too young to understand the specifics of the story.) This story scared my mom and the rest of us, but Austin was undeterred, and after a lot of discussion, my mom finally decided to let him play soccer on the terms that he could only play goalie and had to sit out if he got tired.

This arrangement worked for a little while, but the exertion was making Austin's heart pump harder than usual and like all muscles, it started to grow with the exercise, sending him to the hospital for another open heart surgery at 15. This surgery, they said, would be the last one. They replaced the valve and it should've last for many years. A major infection discovered the day he would have been released from the hospital put him back in for another week. I remember how angry he was about this. He was so desperate to get out of the hospital and finally be normal.

I think it only took him two years to disintegrate that valve and have to have another emergency replacement. He was 18 this time and there was some question about how to do the surgery. All his previous hospital visits had been with Lebonheur hospital, but they specialize in children's medical care and Austin would normally have had to switch doctors at this point. His case was so complicated though, that my mom was very hesitant to have someone else perform the operation and against expectations, Lebonheur hospital agreed to keep him on.

Just over seven hours of surgery later, Austin was healed, and for good this time. He was not only allowed to play sports, he's receiving his medical records within the week to begin the process of getting his pilot's license. And a few days ago, he ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) in 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 44 seconds. We were asking if he felt all right and everything. His complaint?, "I wanted to do it in under two hours." Isn't that amazing? He will always have a scar on his chest and he will probably never be as bulked as other guys, but he is living proof that God still performs miracles. And I think he's pretty awesome.

Esther Pavao
I got outside of my box last night. It was Phil's birthday, and our house got cookie ingredients and since I had the night off, I volunteered to make them. Before I knew it, I had Vesper on one hip helping me run the mixer, Hopie measuring out dry ingredients, Faith helping with the wet and Sonrise and Caleb by my feet. And surprisingly, I had a blast!! They were adorable. Phil and Zube were there, and Phil said something that reminded me of what I wanted to blog about.

In our ladies meeting about three weeks ago, Jerusha said something that I haven't forgotten. We were talking about making good choices: what to wear, whether or not to eat, etc. What she said was something like we don't think enough of ourselves to make good choices for ourselves. We don't think we're worth it or don't care about ourselves enough. However, as soon as she had children, she had the ability to make better choices.

I am the same way. There is some music that I could listen to that doesn't affect me in the slightest, but some friends of mine struggle with it. There are clothes that I want to wear or I think look good, but if I put them on, my brothers struggle. What it comes down to, is that I don't think highly of myself and don't care enough about myself to listen to better music or wear more modest clothing. If it weren't for my friends and family and God, I'd do all manner of things that I would never do otherwise. But I don't do them. Because I care more about them than I do about me.

I think that if we care more about ourselves, then we can wear what we want, listen to what we want, and do what we want. If we care more about others, we'll do what is best for them and it's a small sacrifice. It only matters as much as you care about someone else.

So last night, we were making jokes about Phil eloping. It was all in jest and we were having fun, until Faith asked me, "Dassi, what's eloping?" I stopped laughing and looked at her. "It's running away and getting married without asking anyone." She looked at Phil and the look of shock and horror on her face stopped me dead in my tracks. She looks up to and respects Phil and could not imagine him doing anything like that. We quickly explained to her that he had done nothing like that and that it was a joke, but I'll never forget the look on her face. 

If I ever think of something I want, all I have to do from now on is imagine that look and know that I care more about Faith than I do about myself and even if I don't care enough about myself to make good decisions for myself, I care enough about Faith to make good decisions for her.
Esther Pavao
I just got back from a weekend trip to Jackson, MS to perform with WindDance at a Celticfest.

Friday morning, I worked at the Coffee shop and we were leaving at 1:30, so I packed the night before, staying up until after 1 making sure everything was complete. I got up at 4:45 am Friday, so I was pretty tired all morning at work and actually looking forward to the 5 hour drive, hoping I might be able to sleep since I had been pretty busy all week and hadn't had more than 5 hours of sleep a night for about two weeks. In a crazy whirlwind, we closed early, made it home and grabbed the rest of my stuff and went to the bus.

As soon as I walked to the car, my day started going downhill. I looked in dismay at the backseat of Johnny's tiny backseat. Both side seats were taken and as soon as I climbed in, I felt claustrophobic. I was crammed in between Maranatha and Samantha with my feet on the hump. Worse, I felt a migraine coming on. I scrunched down in the seat, trying to lay my head on the back of the seat and within five minutes my back and neck were aching. I sighed and sat up. So much for sleeping. I thought as we pulled out. This is going to be one miserable drive. 

Thunder rumbled and we drove straight into a wall of rain. I put my headphones in and turned my music up as loud as I could handle it so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone and looked out the windshield, keeping my mouth firmly shut to keep the complaints inside. I couldn't believe how bothered I was, but it just kept getting worse and I could not pull out of it. I closed my eyes and tried to pray, but couldn't. I leaned my head back thinking  The only thing that could  make this worse is if we got into a car accident. Actually, it might be better if we did. At least I'd be out of this car. There was a squeal of tires on the newly wet pavement and then WHAM! The car lurched forward and I felt myself thrown against my seatbelt. Yanking my headphones out, I turned around and saw that Asher's white van had rear-ended Johnny's little black jeep. Completely shaken, we pulled into the Bolivar BP and checked out the damage. The fender was dented and the back door wouldn't open, but the alignment was still ok and there seemed to be no problems. Apparently, the car in front of us stopped a little suddenly, forcing us to stop suddenly and the 15-passenger van, which was pulling the trailer with all of the luggage, couldn't stop fast enough on the wet pavement and had hit us from behind.

We had to pull over and answer questions for some police officers. I couldn't help but feel a little shaken. Literally as soon as I thought it, it happened. We hadn't even made it outside of Bolivar yet. My mom and Amy could tell I was tired and started trying to switch up the vehicles to move me somewhere I could sleep, which made me feel really bad. I didn't deserve it, but I got to switch to another van and sleep, waking up feeling much better.

For the rest of the weekend, though, I guess I forgot what God had gone out of His way to show me and before long, I got into that funk again. I don't know what it was, but everyone and everything started driving me crazy. The girls, who were behaving perfectly normal, seemed to me to be very immature. People were talking way too loud. Everyone felt like they had to walk on eggshells around me, and I could tell. The girls in my room went down to swim, and I, grateful for the opportunity to be alone and try to calm down, stayed behind. I pulled out my book, thinking that reading stories about missionaries would remind me that I had nothing to complain about, and wondering what on earth was the matter with me. As soon as I started reading, the girls came back...and turned on the TV. My black mood, which had drained away briefly, came back full-force and I had to force a half-smile on my face for all the girls who kept asking what was wrong, which I couldn't explain.

The next morning was no better. I woke up angry and on the verge of tears and as thoroughly confused about my mood as I was the day before. After breakfast, I escaped to our room, trying again to spend some time trying to get close to God, but He just seemed so far away, and I finally sent my mom a text when all the girls came back in and I was over it. She came and we talked for a little bit. It helped temporarily.

I'll spare all the details since this is getting much longer than I wanted. My mom had told me to stop thinking about myself and focus on other people. Stop trying to pray, stop trying to "be happy" just, think about the people with me and take care of them. Before long, I was smiling again. I had my friends laughing till they choked and I was happier than I'd been the whole trip.

I tell my friends that the only time I am insecure about my looks or my weight, it is because I was thinking about myself. Now, I will have to add that the times I am unhappy has nothing to do with God, has nothing to do with my circumstances, and even nothing to do with the people around me. It has everything to do with whether I am choosing to think about myself, or someone else, whether that someone is God, the friends I am with, or the person who walks by me.

My happiness is a choice, something I've been told before, and even believed, but never had to experience until this weekend. I had to apologize to a few friends after the weekend I put them through, and we're all fine again. (Thank God for my forgiving friends.)

Anyway, next time you get pulled under, remember that it is nothing to do with your circumstances, it is everything to do with how you see them.
Esther Pavao
I've been thinking a lot lately (a dangerous hobby, but necessary). I've been wondering why it is so hard for me to be content where I'm at. Clearly God put me here, and yet I struggle with wanting to be somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else, or whatever. I can't seem to just be where I'm at and be ok with it. I had a bit of insight, not sure where from really, but most likely from God. I think what I'm most afraid of is not being content, it's being complacent. I am afraid to allow myself to take root because I don't want to get stuck in a rut and miss God using the excuse that I'm learning to content myself. But the truth is that I need to be content. I need to be happy where God has me, but I can't allow myself to become complacent to the point that I don't want to move, I don't want to be anything different, I don't want to change.

Well this is much shorter than I had anticipated, but length doesn't determine depth I suppose, and even though this lesson may be blatantly obvious to some, it took me a long time to get there.
Esther Pavao
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling
Esther Pavao
I have reached a point in my life where I feel like I should know what I'm doing next. I want to know "what I want to be when I grow up" and I want to start working towards it now. There's just one problem with that. I don't know. While a lot of my friends already have their lives laid out and have started pursuing their dreams, I am still wondering what on earth I'm supposed to be doing here. Medical work makes me squeamish and I have no desire to be a doctor/nurse. I don't write music, just sing it, and so I don't think I'll be making a career of music.

Frankly, there's just nothing that I've stumbled across that "makes my heart beat faster" or I've dreamed of being since I was little. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pirate, a naturalist (Steve Erwin was my ultimate hero when I was 12 and 13 before I realized I was actually kind of scared of crocodiles.), and the president of the United States. Since none of those options seem very likely, and I'm not particularly interested in them any more, (except the pirate, that'd be pretty cool) I don't have a lifelong dream.

And I have a confession, I'm not that great with kids. Babies, I can handle. Vesper's age I get along fine with. I tell them what to do, they listen, if they don't, I show them who's in charge and then we have fun together. No problem. Then they get to this age that I become totally clueless. I have no idea what kids think about and even how to talk to them. My friends laugh endlessly about this, but it's true. I honestly cannot remember what I thought about when I was like 5, 6, 7, up until I was about 12. Then I was a total tomboy until I hit puberty. I didn't even brush my hair if I could get away with it. All that to say that I doubt I'd be comfortable in a career with kids like running an orphanage or something.

My brother says I have no hope in a political career. He says I'm too emotional and can't stay calm when people fire me up. Possibly true, though my roommate is correct in saying that I couldn't handle all the arguing with people. I'm already naturally argumentative, she says, and don't need any encouragement in that area. Ouch...but she's right too.

I've been praying for an answer to this. I started feeling restless and discontent and feeling like there was something else. I don't want to spend the rest of my life working and cooking and wondering what else there is for me. It seems to me that I'd already know, despite my mom's indignant response that I am only 18 and have plenty of time to figure it out.

In answer to my prayers...

I was looking through my notebook that I keep with my bible yesterday, and found the notes that I took while I was in Mexico. I found a page that I didn't remember writing, though reading it, I faintly recalled looking up the verses. It was simple; it just said

Jason: Matthew 8:9
Nicole: Phillipians 4:11

Curious, I looked up the verses. Matt 8:9 was "For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." I remember writing that. I was thinking about the authority Jason has with the men in the village in Mexico. When he speaks, everyone listens. When he suggests something, there's no hesitation, just instant obedience. The men and women there love him and it's clear he has God's authority. I feel like he got that from his own obedience to God and what He had for him and his obedience to God is evident. The greatest leaders are the ones who have followed first.

Nicole's verse, Phillipians 4:11, was the one that hit me. It says simply, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in." It goes on to talk about in prosperity and in meager times, but the part I was referring to stops there. That is what I admire about Nicole, and Amy Carmichael and others like them. They have learned to be content in whatever circumstances God places them, even if it requires moving to Mexico away from everyone and everything you know to work, almost entirely alone, for what could very possibly become the rest of your life or being stuck in bed in pain and unable to walk for the remainder of your life.

I admire that because I know that I do not have that. I am unable to be content even though I have everything necessary to live, a job I like and job for income, a family who loves me, and food to eat. I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I have far more than most people in this world, and yet I am not content with my lot in life.

Partially, I think this is a good thing. I think it will drive me to serve and give of what I've been given. But the truth is, God put me where I am for a reason. I am here for something and if I spend all my time looking for the next thing, I will totally miss what God has for me here. Somehow, I have to learn to be happy where I am and trust that God is holding my future in His hands and will reveal it to me a step at a time.

One of my favorite songs is Step by Step by Rich Mullins because it's "step by step You'll lead me" not "You'll show me where I'm going." It says nothing about knowing God's plan, simply that "I will follow You all of my days." It doesn't specify "only if You show me where I'm going" just "I will follow."

That was a bit longer than expected. All that to say that I am constantly having to remind myself that the step God has me taking right now is to not step. To sit still and learn to be content here. And when the next step  comes, I'll take that one. I don't have to worry about my future, I'm taking it one step at a time.
Esther Pavao
Be what you would seem to be -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. ~ Lewis Carroll
Esther Pavao
I posted this about three years ago, and found it this morning. Recently, I've been going through my older blog posts and found that some of the fire I had for Christ when I was younger has faded somewhat. I think my zeal for God waxes and wanes, and I wish that weren't true, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Zeal is often compared to fire, and it's an apt description. A flame on a matchstick may be brighter than a burning coal, but you can bet that coal will burn more sharply. That coal has been burning much longer and the heat has gone to its core. Though it appears cold and dead, its entire being is hot and with a little fanning and maybe some kindling, will burst into flame again. The matchstick will burn brightly, maybe catch something else, and then it is blown out or burns out on its own.

I've been thinking about what it means to be in this world, but not of  this world because of a project some of us young people have been working on. It was a discussion topic we were supposed to think about, research on, and pray about. I talked about it with a few people. How can you be born here on this planet, live here, and yet, not be "of" here? These are a series of thoughts that I came up with (with some help).

We Are Missionaries To Earth
For Christians, I think that living on earth is like being a missionary. When you are a missionary, you live in the country, learn their language, dress like them, eat like them, follow some of their customs, and yet, you are different. You are a different race and people can easily see you're not one of them, regardless of the language you speak or the clothes you wear.

We're not natives of earth. We're a different race, a different people. We're only here for a short time and while we're here, we may dress like Americans, speak English, and eat American food. We live in houses like all other Americans, but we are not Americans.The difference should be obvious.

Being A Missionary
When I was in Mexico, everyone could easily see that I was not Mexican. My light skin and hair set me apart, and when I spoke, my language separated me even further. I wore the same clothes as them, and this time when I go back, I'll even somewhat speak the same language as them. I ate what they ate, I followed their customs, even when they didn't make sense to me, and yet I stood out as totally different. In our daily lives, when we come into contact with people, the difference should be obvious. The way we speak, our values, and our behavior should instantly set us apart.

Our Example
When Jesus was on Earth, he attracted people to Him wherever He went. Every city, every house, he had a huge crowd of people who could see He was different. Before He taught, he already had people following Him. When He opened His mouth and spoke, people knew He was different. If we are followers of Christ, should it not be the same for us? If we are patterning our lives after His, shouldn't we be set apart on sight? Shouldn't we be in this world, as He was, and yet make it clear that we are only passing through? We shouldn't have any ties to this world. He told us that He had no place to rest His head. (Matt 8:20) He seriously was just passing through. He didn't allow Himself any ties to this world at all, not even a bed. How much more free would we be if weren't bound by earthly things?

(I'm not saying "Let's all sleep outside on the ground!", but try telling me that if you had to pick up and go right this minute, there wouldn't be several things that you would have to consider first.)

What Do You See?
I cannot remember where I heard or read this, but I remember a story. When Queen Elizabeth I was a little girl, she was misbehaving and her nanny, frustrated beyond measure, dragged her in front of a mirror and made her look inside. "What do you see? I see the future queen of England. Now start acting like it!"

I don't know if this is a true story, but I can imagine this little girl, feeling the weight of her lot in life and living underneath that weight. People will watch every move she makes, every word that comes out of her mouth will be judged and picked apart. Every person she talks to will be a judgment on her character. Every decision she makes as queen will impact an entire country of people. She will be the most liked and disliked person in the country. That's a lot of weight for a little girl to carry.

Take the time to look in the mirror. What do you see? You see a follower of God. Every word that comes of your mouth, everything you do, everywhere you go, you are being watched and judged. If we lived our lives that way, knowing what we are and acting accordingly, there would be a lot less carelessness in our treatment of people.

I used to laugh at those WWJD bracelets and bumper stickers, but in all honesty, "What Would Jesus Do?" If we are patterning our lives after His, wouldn't it be a good idea to ask ourselves what He would do in every situation and with every person we come into contact with?

 My closing thought is this: living in the world, and not being of it requires a constant reminder of who and what we are. Whether you need to remind yourself every morning when you look in the mirror or whatever, know you're not of this world and act accordingly.
Esther Pavao
I had the most amazing experience. On Friday, Tipharah called me and invited me to come over and listen to her baby's heartbeat. Shiphchah (her midwife while Ari is gone) came over and soon found the heartbeat. As the sound filled the room, the small, very fast beat, I couldn't help but wonder whether it would be a boy or girl, what he or she would be like. Would it play an instrument like Paul? Would he play soccer with Eli? Or would she dance with Tipharah? Or love to sing like I do, or whatever else.

Will he get Paul's curly hair? Tipharah's amazing eyes? Will she be chubby and cute? 

It was then that I realized that no matter what this baby did or looked like or acted like, I knew I loved it, no matter what. An undeniable, unconditional, powerful love.

I thought I could imagine God smiling and saying, "Now you finally know how much I love you. No matter what you do, or what you look like, or where you go, I love you even more than you love that unborn baby."

It amazed me. That baby didn't have to do anything to earn my love, and yet, it has it. Likewise, I never had to do anything to earn God's love.
Esther Pavao
My life has been very hectic recently. With working at the Coffee shop and HLA, planning two mission trips to Mexico, and all the drama that my family is experiencing, I've been wondering why I put myself through it. Most of the stress in my life is self-inflicted. No one asked me to plan a mission trip and if I felt too stressed, there are a few things I could drop without too much trouble. In spite of that, there are a few more things I'm trying to take up. Go figure.

However, I've found that I enjoy living this way. No, not the stress part of it, not the headaches or lack of sleep that I can't seem to catch up on. The part I enjoy is knowing that I can't do it. Ok, I know that sounds weird, hear me out. I can't do it alone. I am living in God's grace every minute of every day. I know I am living every day asking for His grace and receiving it. There's no way I could live my life in my own strength. I've come to the mindset of, "God, you know I can't do this, so if You want it to happen, You will make it happen." And you know what? He does! Every time I find I'm at the end of myself, He meets me there.

What a wonderful way to live! How crazy and yet wonderful. I love it. It makes God very real and near to me. I wouldn't trade it for a normal schedule, for less to do, or even sleep. I love each crazy minute because I know my God will see me through. I couldn't ask for more than that.
Esther Pavao
A friend of mine sent me to this verse last night, and I wanted to remind us all that
"...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Esther Pavao

Wow...I got on the internet, intending to blog, and it amazes me how much time I put into keeping up with the whole online world. I first had to check my email. I have my email, then my work email, then my HomeLife Academy email (which I still haven't gotten to), then I check the RCV chatroom to see if anyone has answered my question, which they have and I answer back then check all the new topics entered since the last time I was on. I then look up my sister's and friends' picasa albums and see all the new pictures they've put up. After that I read everyone's blogs and all the news from Memphis and other people's lives before I actually get to blogging. And now, after so much time, I don't even remember what it was that drove me to the computer to blog.'s food for thought. I didn't realize I spend so much time on the computer. I remember.

A few months back, I had someone ask me where I get my inspiration to write my blog. I just kind of gave a blank stare. I wasn't sure how to answer. Now I've had time to think about it, I guess I'd have to answer with "Out of the abundance of the heart, [the] mouth speaks."* (Luke 6:45, ESV) I write what I feel. If God shares something good with me, I get excited and want people to know about it. If I'm struggling and being tested, I need to share it. I don't think I'm a gifted writer, and I often forget people actually read what I write. I don't write a blog because I think people should read it or because I think I have something great to say.

I get my inspiration from the way I feel. I get it from the small things God shows me, and from the way I feel. I get it from the people around me, and the things I read and see. If something helps me out, I share it in hopes that it will encourage someone else. These aren't divinely inspired writings, they're the ramblings of a teenage girl trying to find her way.

I don't remember who asked me the question, but since you asked about it, I assume you'll read this, so here's your belated answer.

*Fun Fact: My mom used to quote this to me when I was younger whenever I'd say something harsh or rude, then say that I was kidding, or that I didn't mean it. I didn't quite understand the full meaning and I didn't know it was from the bible until I got a little bit older.
Esther Pavao
I actually got this in my work email address. I assumed it was spam, but since it's my work address, I have to check before deleting, so I was scanning through. Somehow it caught my attention, and I ended up reading the whole thing. Ken actually checked it out on Snopes and it is a true story, though the numbers are a little inaccurate. (i.e. it says 5,500 in one place where it was actually 6,500). I thought it was a very brave thing to do. If only more people would not be ashamed of God and would be ashamed of what our country has turned into, stories like this wouldn't be rare or amazing; no one would expect anything less of anyone who claims to be a Christian.

A  Pastor with GUTS!

Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their House of Representatives. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual  generalities, but this is what they heard:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem..
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today;  cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church,  where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India , Africa and Korea .

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,'and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called 'one nation
under God. If possible, please pass this prayer on to
your friends.

'If you don't stand for something, you  will fall for everything.'
Esther Pavao

I was helping Marlene get pictures of Mexico for the Conference the other day, and ended up on the Mexico blog. I found my notes that I wrote of the ladies meeting we had while we were there and the message Gannah brought, and it touched me as deeply that evening as it did the first time she said it.

She read the story of the man who, when he found the one pearl greater than all the others, sold all of his possessions in order to purchase it. She talked about being willing to make that sacrifice and asked whether we were focusing to much on the cost, instead of the pearl.

I have to be honest, the first time I heard this parable, I thought the man was a fool. Who would sell everything they owned for a pearl, no matter how precious? It made no sense to me at all. I'm the person looking at the cost, and deciding the pearl isn't worth it, and walking away. I have no concept of the worth of the pearl.

It scares me to know that I think that way. If the pearl is the kingdom of God and the sacrifice Christ made for us, I should not only be willing to leave all that I have for that pearl, it should be the only thing that I desire. When it seems hard to give up the small things in our life that I treasure, I need to be reminded that they are dust in the wind in comparison with that pearl. I need to focus on the pearl, not the cost.
Esther Pavao
Most of the people who will read this know that I've been planning a trip to Mexico for anyone I can drag along with me. There's a lot of history to that statement, though the purpose of this blog post isn't to explain that. Those who know me well will tell you that when asked to describe my character traits, 'patience' usually isn't mentioned, so you can imagine that when obstacles stand in my way, I get easily frustrated and start pushing people to try and keep things moving along. Sometimes that's a good thing, but somehow, I have difficulty finding that fine line until I've long since crossed it. Unsurprisingly, that happened with this Mexico trip.

Thursday night, I wrote an email to several of the leaders, expressing my frustration at the seeming lack of progress on this trip and my concern that I had missed the point where I needed to stop. I know my tendency to be pushy to a fault and so I wondered if I was really seeking God about this, or I was moving from myself at this point. Essentially, I had done that some (big surprise there), but I got vision on the next steps to take; however, there will still be a certain amount of waiting to do.

That was a struggle for me. It helped knowing that there was a next step to take, but knowing there was more waiting was still difficult. God always knows though, and He takes the time to send us small reasurances that He is aware of what we are going through and He has a plan. In all honesty, if I had the money and an ok from the Village, I'd leave for Mexico this afternoon.

Last night, Paul, Tipharah, and I stayed late at the coffee shop preparing for today, which is the Rockabilly Festival. I got in the car at about 11:30, and turned on the radio to K-LOVE. They were just starting this "behind the music" to the song "Power of Your Name" by Lincoln Brewster. That song was played at my passage, so it's kind of special to me, but it was late and I was only half paying attention as Lincoln was talking about the message of his song. I jumped at the words 'coffee shop'. "This song is not just inspiring people to worship, it's about inspiring people to be God's hands and feet." He was saying. "You never know how the things you say and do affect the people around you. The person in front of you in line at the coffee shop could be praying, 'God, somehow I need to know you're real. I need you to show Yourself to me somehow.' and something you say or do could be that answer for them without even realizing it."

I took that to be  God's answer to me. "You want to go to Mexico, and I put that desire in you, but I also put you right here, in a coffee shop to touch people and reflect Rose Creek Village and to reflect Me. You have no idea the impact you're making on people just where you are. Until I want you to go to Mexico, You need to be content right where I've put you and stop pushing to be somewhere else."

It was one of those moments where you know clearly that God has been trying to give a message to you and you've been missing it, so he had to make it unmistakably clear. And it helped me to see that what I dislike about waiting is feeling that I'm doing nothing to help anyone, just sitting around and living for myself. But when my time is consumed with obeying God in the small things He's put before me, the waiting doesn't seem so bad.
Esther Pavao
One very important part of being a woman which the value of is often underestimated is hospitality. It doesn't seem like much. In fact, it's kind of boring, tedious work that isn't appreciated very much or noticed by most. But it's one of those things that if done carelessly or half-heartedly, everyone can tell. I'm one of those people that don't think to thank those who take the time to make a house a home, but I am probably the first to notice (and complain) if a room is messy.

Hospitality is more than cleaning. It's taking care of people who may never know what you've done for them. A well-known fact is that Mercy used to do hospitality for visitors. A very little known fact is everything it entailed. Not only did she clean the guest trailer, but she made sure there was food in there and she didn't stop at preparing the house. She took the family under her wing and checked on them while they stayed there and if she couldn't, she made sure someone else did. A small detail that even less people know is that while she  was cleaning the rooms and making the beds and cleaning the bathrooms, she prayed for the family that would stay there. She asked God that the family staying there would feel the love that went into preparing a place for them. That is true hospitality.

Mercy is only one outstanding example of hospitality. Each woman in the hospitality group told stories of times they'd been taken care of, and times they'd noticed hospitality was lacking. Something Joy pointed out was that hospitality is the love and care that goes into the preparation.

The ladies then bent down and washed our (Nichole's and my) feet.  This was a little hard for me. I can't help but still feel like a child in the presence of these ladies, and as the day went on, I was more and more overwhelmed. (More on that later....) In any case, I didn't feel I deserved to have my feet washed. I had to keep reminding myself that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and when Peter refused to let Him, he (Peter) was rebuked for it. That thought helped me feel a little less...undeserving, I guess.

They also gave me one of my favorite things I received at my passage. It was a small white shoulder bag with two thin and one wide blue stripes along the flap, just like the Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's ministry)'s saris. Mother Teresa is perhaps the most well-known embodiment of hospitality. I now keep my bible in it and seeing that bag hanging by the end of my bed is a constant reminder of her.

We also got to the keep the basin and pitcher, which were beautiful.

I'll post pictures when I get a chance. Internet is too slow right now.
Esther Pavao
It was brought to my attention this morning that I'm shamefully overdue in writing...I guess it's hard to remember people actually read this, so I get busy and forget to write. I'm sorry. Something I've already begun doing, is copying all the posts about my passage and copying them onto a separate page on my blog. There is a link to it on the bottom of the page.

To take up where I left off with the sacrifice group.

They next told a story about a stick of bamboo. I don't have the exact copy with me, but the general summary is that a gardener has a beautiful garden, and his most favorite plant in it is a tall, strong, beautiful stalk of bamboo. One day, he comes to it with a knife and tells it that he will hurt it. He begins carving into the bamboo. Though it is painful, the bamboo knows that the gardener loves it and wouldn't hurt if for no reason. When the pain is over and the gardener stops to inspect his work, the bamboo sees that the master has carved his name into the bamboo so everyone would know that it and all its beauty belongs to the gardener. The bamboo is filled with pride and joy.

Later, the gardener comes with a hatchet. He cuts the bamboo down and strips it of all its branches and leaves and all its beauty. He then cuts it in half and carves out its heart. He then uses the bamboo for irrigation, bringing water to the fields and bringing water to other people. When the bamboo sees the joy and life that it brings by sacrificing itself, it is glad that the master used it.

It's a beautiful picture of sacrifice. We can never know why God puts us through the pain He asks us to. He asks us to give things up and strips us of all that we hold dear and all that we believe is good and beautiful in us. And then, when we find there is nothing good in us at all, then and only then can he use us to bring life and joy to others.
Esther Pavao
I have a lot I want to share from the sacrifice group. The first is a letter that Becky read.It's totally awesome and inspiring.
 I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made--I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence,  prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He stops me. And, when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing banner will be clear!

I keep finding conflicting messages about who the author is. A lot of people seem to think the author is Dr. Bob Moorehead and the other popular belief is Henry B. Eyring. Others say that it was found on a scrap of paper in the house of a pastor in Zimbabwe when they were searching his home before or after he was martyred. I honestly don't know, but God does. Regardless of the author, it's totally awesome.
Esther Pavao

This pitcher is overflowing with water, if that isn't evident by the picture, but it started out empty. The ladies who were in the service group set up a big jar of water, and each woman in the room came and put one cupful of water into the pitcher. It filled very slowly, and it took very many scoops to fill it, but by the time each woman had put her portion in, it was not only full, but overflowing. It was a beautful picture of how each woman has to do her part to make the whole.
Each lady had chosen quotes about service that they read that gave a picture that service isn't just work, it's choosing to give yourself, all of yourself, for others and for God.

They also gave us a broom with these words on it:
I will live to carry your compassion, to love a world that's broken, to be Your hands and feet. And I will give with the life that I've been given and go beyond religion to see the world be changed by the power of Your name.
These are the lyrics to a song, and they felt that they embodied their message to us. The broom was to represent the hidden work we do that no one sees, true service. They used sweeping as an example: the floor is swept three times a day, at every cleanup, and yet, because of our lifestyle, it always seems dirty. Sometimes, it doesn't seem worth it to sweep it one more time because no one notices when you do it, but when it isn't done, everyone can tell. It must be done. 

I don't have a picture of the broom. Sorry. It will be hanging on my wall whenever I move somewhere with more wall space. :)
Esther Pavao
Before I post all about the different groups of ladies, I think I should explain a few things.

The theme of our passage was based on Proverbs 31, among other things. They had divided up the verses, and picked one or two words that they felt defined those verses. Then all the ladies grouped up based on those verses and presented them through dramas, or songs, or pictures. It was truly beautiful.

Anyway, that's what I'm referring to when I say "The service group" or "the strength and dignity group".

Also, part of the theme was the Dawn and the Dusk. She was the dawn: the rising of the sun, the daytime, the bright, happy side. I was the Dusk: the evening star, the nighttime, the setting sun. (I don't think I can safely say the quiet, mysterious side, though the people who didn't know me so well seemed to think that was included.) The point being that each is not what it is without the other, and each gives way to the other to be complete. The day has to give way to the night, and nighttime disappears every morning. They are different, but similar, and each is strong in its own element.

Another aspect was the Conquerer and Defender. I was given a sword (a Joan of Arc replica) to represent the conquerer, attacker and fighter, and she was given a shield (which she was quick to point out, was "sparkly"). She is the defender, the protector. A lot was said about her connection with children. They love her, they follow her around, and she easily bonds with them. She was likened to a character in the Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, who, when appears, is followed by laughing, dancing children, flowers bloom when she passes birds and butterflies surround her (which is why they did her entrance the way they did). I was likened to Joan of Arc, who led warriors into battle and ended up being burnt at the stake, fighting for her belief, her God, and her country. Both very different, and yet, they can't be who they are without the other. There would be no safe place for the children and people like Nichole without the fighters, and there would be nothing to fight for without them.

Anyway, I'll add the pictures to this when I get to the coffee shop tonight.
Esther Pavao
We interrupt this Passage program to bring you....Coffee House Prayer!

I had a prayer experience that I actually found kind of funny. Last Thursday, the bible study was canceled. This is what actually helps our business on Thursdays since we close early (due to almost all of our workers being in WindDance). Tipharah and I were opening, so on the way in, I was praying that we'd have good business to make up for not having the bible study. God answered by giving us more business than we'd had all for two weeks. It was truly amazing since based on weather, we shouldn't've had much at all.

So Friday night, when the weather reports said we'd have a tornado watch, I wasn't expecting much business at all, and thought, It worked last week, why not today? So I prayed, "God, please help us have good business tonight, in spite of the weather. At least help us break $250." I was thinking, that's not asking too much. In fact, that's pretty reasonable. Not 10 minutes after I had prayed this, Beth and Benayah came in with their kids. I checked the drawer after they left and we were at $260.49...and that's were it stayed for the rest of the day. If Benayah's family hadn't come in, we wouldn't have broken $250.  God gave us exactly what I prayed more, and no less. Maybe I'm the only one who finds this funny, but I could totally imagine God doing that on purpose, to strengthen my faith in prayer? Probably. That was the result, but I also can't help but laugh, thinking, So, You do have a sense of humor.
Esther Pavao
Anne and April, sisters at heart

"Sisterhood, as we all know, is about what we have in common," April began. She and Anne began listing everything they have in common: their husbands are considerably older than them (and both men have amazing taste in women, of course), their engagement rings are identical, their weddings are the same month. Their oldest children were born the same month, a year after they were born. The next children, 4 days apart. "And of course, it helps when you dress alike and your hair is alike!" Anne adds at the end. "And we like the same cold cereal, eaten dry." 
"What are you talking about?" Jenn asked. And they talked about the true meaning of sisterhood, that it's deeper than having things in common, or even being born into the same family. It's about being there for each other and being able to trust each other.

It's a two-sided relationship, where each gives, not just takes. They then each said what they contributed to the sisterhood of the village. Each woman then stood and joined the circle, holding hands each pledging to give what she had to the village. Some said honesty, comfort, faith or life: the word we all think of when we think of them. Love and trust and even magic. (Can you guess who that was?) Some people said the ministry they were part of, like midwifery or being a doula. All together, you could see how the sisterhood would not be complete without each part. Nichole and I had been asked to think about it before the passage so we were ready with our pledges. 

"I pledge gentleness," Nichole vowed, and I pledged strength. (I guess a little explanation is necessary here. A few years ago, Amma had been meeting with the Messenger girls, and she gave us a word that she felt was our strength and weakness. Mine was strength and Nichole's was gentleness. On our outing before our passage, the Messenger girls had given us a quote that they felt linked our words together and proved once again, that neither of us would be who we were without the other.
"Nothing is as strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength." 
This was repeatedly referred to throughout the day, so I guess we chose well.)   

This group also gave us a necklace: a double wired necklace, a glass cross, and several colored beads. Each color represented different traits and personalities, and they said to remember, each time we wear the necklace, to remember we are wearing the sisters around our neck, and also, the necklace isn't complete without all of them. 

I feel so blessed to be part of that sisterhood.
Esther Pavao
I started blogging about my passage and it transformed into something way longer than I expected. I guess I'll post it in segments. Also, some of it is personal, so reading this, you may not get the full story. If you're a lady, you know what happened. If you're a girl, you'll have to wait till your passage to know how it really is. If you're a guy (of any age), you'll just have to wonder I guess. :)

How do I begin to describe the amazing journey my sister and I undertook? Maybe I should begin at the beginning, but this story begins long before Saturday, April 17th at 9:30 AM. It begins months, and even years earlier as we both began to find our place in the body of Christ, how we struggled with our peers and cried over losses when friends were taken out. Several times, we nearly went down ourselves, but somehow, Saturday morning, I awoke ready to take on the next and biggest step so far: Womanhood. We were given lists of tasks to accomplish to help prepare us for this day, and so as I began getting ready to leave, I wasn't very nervous, which is weird because I usually get nervous about much lesser things than a passage. (At my graduation, I was miserable to be around, and when required to give speeches, I'm exceedingly...unpleasant.)  This morning however, the only side effects I felt were that I couldn't eat, and I didn't talk much, just watched all my friends and the ladies in my house rush around in a frenzy, hair half-done, speaking cryptically when they noticed that I was in the room.

At about 8:15, I was driven down to Joy's cabin. They had me close my eyes and led me in slowly by the hand. I was seated in a chair and then told, "Ok, open your eyes!" I was skeptical that the delicate, pink dress in front of me was mine. It was beautiful, but my eyes were drawn to the one in front of Nichole. There was so much detail on it; I couldn't believe that someone would put that much time into something for me. It took a little bit to convince them that my stunned silence was overwhelming gratefulness, not that I didn't like it. The next 15 minutes were spent getting my hair twisted up and into a braided wire headband that Rushi had made for me. I couldn't believe it was actually mine, it was so beautiful.

     I then changed into the dress and waited for Nichole's hair to be finished, which took a little longer than mine.  Waiting there was the first time I felt a twinge of nervousness. Do you really know what you're getting yourself into?, my mind asked. A little late for doubts, I replied and resolutely walked out the door. It was then I found out I had to enter on horseback. Apparently, I was supposed to have a practice horse ride days before, but it hadn't worked out with my schedule because they couldn't tell me about it. I stood for a moment, trying to figure out how to climb up into a saddle in a full-length dress, and then made a rather undignified scramble up onto the horse. After we arranged my skirts and the other girls climbed up, we waited, hearing snatches of the speeches being made on the stage. I have to admit, that was the most nervous I was the entire day. I heard my name every once in a while, and people laughing, which was the worst thing since you couldn't hear what they were laughing at, I heard, ..."she struggled with that for a while, but..." What did I struggle with? The horse kept trying to sniff my foot, and I kept trying to kick it away without letting Samantha see when I heard the music start. At the last moment, Esther decided she couldn't ride a horse and carry the flag and threw it down.

     As soon as the horse started walking, I was totally fine. I straightened my back and held my head high, and for the strangest moment, I felt like Joan of Arc, riding home after a huge victory. I had worked long and hard to get to this place and time, and I rode in with my head held high. I looked over and saw Nichole being led in on a white horse with ribbons braided into his mane, surrounded by little girls dancing and carrying flowers. Even though I didn't know this was on purpose, the first thought that went through my head was, She looks like a queen. I was dreading trying to climb off the horse and keep my skirt down, but somehow I must have managed it. Nichole slid down gracefully (of course), and the little girls ran to give her the flowers. Those sweet girls noticed that my hands were empty (I was supposed to be carrying the standard) and they remedied that by handing me half of Nichole's flowers.

*note to anyone wondering why we looked like we were at a funeral, these little bugs kept flying into our eyes, and there was nothing we could do except kind of squint and hope they went away. I had someone ask what was wrong.

     The Messenger girls danced then, and then pulled us into the dance and then they whispered, "Walk over to the ladies now." I had been warned they'd ask us rite of passage questions, and I started to worry they'd do that now, but as we walked towards them, they began to sing the Bride song and formed an aisle leading to the door of the Town Hall. I walked through, feeling my nervousness drain away, glad I had managed to make it through without tripping once...thought too soon, I stumbled on the hem of my dress and nearly fell. Couldn't I have got any of the gracefulness in my family? Sigh... I couldn't help but pause on the porch and look back at my family in the field. I didn't feel an overwhelming feeling of leaving my childhood behind, or any momentous, recordable thoughts besides, "It's going to be an AWESOME day." Then pushed open the door and stepped inside.

                                   Waiting to see the dresses

We both instantly know there was a swap. Check out Nichole's adorable expression! 

Nathanael, talking about Nichole.                  

Abba, talking about me.

My grand entrance 

                      My beautiful sister

Little kids are so sweet! 

                                   Believe it or not, these flowers are not for a funeral. :)

  The Messenger girls!

Walking to the ladies. We look so different...

 Me                                                   Nichole

Singing the Bride song and walking up the aisle. :)
Esther Pavao
My passage is in 8 days. A lot of people keep asking me if I'm nervous, and honestly, for the first time in my life before a big event...I'm not. And I think I know why. I have been forced to get out of my box and really spend time with different ladies in the village that really intimidate me. There were eight ladies my mom chose for me to talk to, and I had to meet with them three times each before my passage: a total of 24 talks, each between 30 minutes to an hour. An astounding feat, even if they weren't the 8 busiest ladies she could find. :)  They set really high standards that you can't help but try to meet when you're around them. I can't help but try my best to be like them when I see the kind of impact they have on the people around them. Spending time with them has helped me to get closer to them and not feel so intimidated by them. If I hadn't had to do that, I would be terrified. As it is, I feel really excited and honored to spend a day with women I totally admire and love and I'm not scared of it at all.

Those are my thoughts for today. I'm so grateful and overwhelmed by everything that's being put into it. Especially to my mom for working nonstop for days and Amma for sewing my dress. Haven't seen it yet, but everyone tells me that it's a masterpiece...Those are really the only two I see because I live with them, but I know there're others.
Esther Pavao
I'm feeling totally overwhelmed by my sweet friends. The Messenger girls planned an outing for Nichole and me before our passage, and even though it was a learning experience for all of us (what isn't?) we had a wonderful time together. They gave us letters last night that weren't finished before our outing. I'm speechless. They are so awesome!

I have to admit that I thought that this passage would create a distance between us, but if anything, it's brought us closer together. I love my friends!

Esther Pavao
I am subscribed to get emails from the Rebelution website (Do Hard Things). This was the one I got this morning and it was so convicting, I had to share it. It's by Francis Chan. I don't know much about him now, but I think after this I'm going find out a little bit more.

"I think it’s time we stop asking ourselves the question: “Am I a good Christian?” We live in a time when the term “Christian” has been so diluted that millions of immoral but nice people genuinely consider themselves “good Christians.” We have reduced the idea of a good Christian to someone who believes in Jesus, loves his or her family, and attends church regularly. Others will label you a good Christian even though your life has no semblance to the way Christ spent His days on earth. Perhaps we should start asking the question: “Am I a good Christ?” In other words, do I look anything like Jesus? This question never even entered my mind until a friend of mine made a passing comment to me one day.

"Dan is a long time friend of mine. In fact, he’s the pastor who performed my wedding. He was talking to me about a pastor named Von. Von has been working with youth in the San Diego area for decades. Many of his students have gone on to become amazing missionaries and powerful servants of God. Dan described a trip to Tijuana, Mexico with Pastor Von. (Von has been ministering to the poor in the dumps of Tijuana for years). Dan didn’t speak of the awful living conditions of those who made their homes amidst the rubbish. What impacted Dan the most was the relationship he saw between Von and the people of this community. He spoke of the compassion, sacrifice, and love that he witnessed in Von’s words and actions as he held these malnourished and un-bathed children. Then he made the statement that sent me reeling:
“The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.”
 "Dan explained that the whole experience was so eerie because he kept thinking to himself: “If Jesus were still walking on earth in the flesh, this is what it would feel like to walk alongside of Him!” After that discussion, I kept wondering if anyone had ever said that about me: “The day I spent with Francis was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” The answer was an obvious “no.” Would any honest person say that about you?

"What bothered me was not that I hadn’t “arrived,” but that I wasn’t even heading in the right direction. I hadn’t made it my goal to resemble Christ. I wasn’t striving to become the kind of person who could be mistaken for Jesus Christ. Isn’t it ironic that a man can be known as a successful pastor, speaker, and CHRISTian even if his life doesn’t resemble Christ’s?

                                                                     Francis Chan
Esther Pavao

I just finished one of the books for my passage: No Greater Love by Mother Teresa. It was really awesome. I love the way she puts everything into a very practical sphere. She doesn't make love a lofty ideal that no one can ever achieve. She sets down simple ways to love people and then while you're sitting marveling at how she did it, she gently closes the back door and leaves you with no option or even desire to do anything else.

It's definitely helped me to re-look at the way I treat people. It's helped me to remember that each person I encounter is Christ. It's very hard to be disrespectful or crabby when your mindset is, "This person in front of me is Jesus."

Anyway, that's just one little thing I learned I wanted to share.
Esther Pavao
I am reading Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton as part of my pre-passage list and I just wanted to share something that really affected me.

The author includes a few pages of Amy's journal which I will quote.

"October 10,
....Lord, teach me how to conquer pain to the uttermost henceforth, and grant this my earnest request. When my day's work is done, take me straight Home. Do not let me be ill and a burden or anxiety to anyone...Thou knowest there could be no joy if I knew I were tiring those whom I love best, or taking the from the children.

January 16,
...O forgive me, but I must ask it: take me quickly when my work is finished. Do not, I beseech Thee, let me be disabled by pain or inability and live on a burden to others."

Reading these, I was horrified that God had chosen to end her life with her in bed, unable to walk or do anything for herself, and having her die the one way she would have not wanted. It also brought to mind the way Joan of Arc died. She is quoted as saying that she would rather die a hundred times by the sword before fire, and she was burned at the stake.

Why is it that God so often asks of us the one thing we are afraid to give or the hardest things of us? They both were sent out and never saw home again, though they didn't know that they wouldn't when they left. It was eating away at me and it bothered me that God would ask so much of  these people who had given their entire lives to Him. It seems to me that He would have at least granted the one thing they had asked.

As I thought about it more, I remembered also, that Jesus died the one way He didn't want to die. God asked His own Son to do the hardest thing for Him too. And somehow, that helped me to remember that we are supposed to be patterning our lives after His. Maybe that's not the reason God had them live and die the way they did, but I know that their hearts were to be what He needed them to be and that however hard it was, they were both honored God would use them.

I think what it comes down to, is that He sees the whole picture and He knows the fruit of our suffering. The years Amy was in bed produced so many books that have touched thousands of lives. She continued to serve and take care of people even when she was down. And the work Joan of Arc started continued to bring an entire country together even after she was gone.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment, or better still, come talk to me about it when I get home. I plan on asking a few people what they think when I get home.
Esther Pavao
I was talking to Miss Faith today, and my last blog post came up (the one about Nichole). She emailed me the link to this video, and I thought I'd pass it on.

A documentary went around a couple years ago about Abby and Brittany, conjoined twins who had learned to not only function, but live. This was put together around and on their 16th birthday. I think it speaks for itself.

Esther Pavao
Sorry it's been a long time. I guess I've just been busy and this wasn't the top of my priority list. I hope I never let that much time go by again.

I've been going through a lot recently...I don't even know where to start or how much I should put here. I want to share what I've learned, but some of it pertains to my friends, so I'll try to leave everyone nameless.

I've always known I had faults and weaknesses, but one thing I always thought I was pretty good at, was making friends. Whenever I've really gone out of my way to pursue someone, putting myself, my time, my effort into it, God has blessed it. Something I've failed to see, is that I'm not a good friend to everyone, only to the people I want to. In my attempts to make someone feel special and loved, I ignore other people.

For example, (And I am going to use a name here, because I think it's important.) I've lived with Nichole, my twin sister, since the day I was born. And since the day I was born (literally) I've bullied her, bossed her, took advantage of her willingness to please, and in short, completely ran over her. I've always had the more dominant personality, the louder voice, the more outgoing talents. I was born screaming my head off, she didn't make a sound. I walked at 9 months, she didn't walk till she was almost 18 months, because I liked to pick her up, and put her on one of our many push toys and push her around. I don't think she ever would have walked if my mom didn't make me stop. My first word was, "No." and I talked for her until she was well over two years old. As we got older, I'd make her ask for things, since she was more likely to get a 'yes' from my mom than I was.

Until recently, I just accepted that was the way of life. I was the one who did public speaking, planned parties, talked to strangers; she was the one who took pictures, baby-sat, created cards and flyers. She remembered all the important dates, everyone's birthdays, and upcoming events. I can't even remember what I wore yesterday without serious thought.

I actually started this intending to write about someone who spoke the truth to me instead of just listening to me talk about this and how I learned it, and ended up confessing my dominating, overbearing personality...I don't know if that's me getting sidetracked, or that I really needed to get this out.

Now that she's moved out, I feel this horrible lack and I don't know what to do with it. I've lived with her literally my whole life. We shared a basinette, a crib, and a bed until we were about 12. We shared a room until last year and this is the first time she hasn't been there. And suddenly I realized just how much she is a part of my life now that I don't see her anymore...and she's only been gone since Saturday!

She's always had the character traits that I want and I have the ones she wants. She is good with people and makes lasting friendships instantly while I stand off and feel totally awkward even looking at strangers. I think I've gotten better, but it's still totally nerve-wracking. I was really good in school and she struggled with it. When something bothers her, she won't really talk about it, but when I'm irritated...the whole world knows and stays out of my way. She's always been really sweet with people, and I have to work to be civil when I'm out of sorts. She gets excited easily and likes to do random outings, dress up weird, and go crazy. I get embarrassed easily, and don't really like doing out-of-the box things. I'm usually pretty good at explaining what I'm feeling and making myself heard in a group, and she gets talked over a lot. We've always been polar opposites, but as much as that's a joke in our family, it's always bothered us because the things we are opposite in are the things we wish we had in common. I don't really know how to explain it to someone who's never had a twin, but there's a constant competition to make your own personality and not be grouped as "the twins". There was always a "my friends, your friends" competition too, though we never could seem to figure out that they were the same people. I don't think I realized that sisters could be friends too.

I think I'm telling all of this just to show that I've had her my whole life, fought with her, cried with her, lived with her, and never realized just how much she was to me.

Anyway, my point is, I don't want to just take people for granted.  I didn't start out wanting to write all this, but I guess that's the most important thing I've learned. I take people for granted so often. They say, "We never realize just what we have until we don't have it anymore." I don't want that to be true. If someone means something to you, tell them! I've been working on writing a speech for Africa, and one quote that I use seems to apply very well here, "One good deed is worth more than a thousand good intentions." I actually am using that to tell people that feeling bad for starving children and actually giving to them is a world of difference, but I think it applies to the people around us as well. If you think someone is great, and you never tell them, they'll never know and when they start to get down and wonder if they're making any difference in the lives around them, they won't know.

That's what God showed me these past few weeks. I hope it affects you as much as it did me.