I am overwhelmed with emotion right now as I actually take the time to dwell on the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. How often do World disasters happen? Pretty often. How often do I really take time to think about them? Not very often. Because of the tender hearts of my friends Caroline Tigner and Caroline Fontenot for the already neglected and underprivileged country of Haiti, praise God that my heart is being affected by this awful tragedy.

All I can do right now is say "Why, God? WHY?" I don't get it. I don't get why a country that is already in so much pain has to go through more, but what I am feeling even more so right now is why I have the life that I do. I don't understand why I get to sit in a coffee shop in South Korea with a $3.00ish Blueberry tea, why I look down on my finger and see a pretty diamond, why I have clothes on my back and so many more back in our apartment...and then so so so many more back at home in Houston, why I have multiple options of things to eat for each meal of the day, why I get to leave on Saturday with my husband and meet my parents for a 2-week vacation, why I have a computer to type on, why I have healthcare...I could go on and on. I. AM. SO. BLESSED. God has had great mercy on me. For some reason that I will not understand until I get to Heaven and God shares with Believers His divine plan, I have been chosen by Him to be blessed beyond belief. I have excess. I have always had excess. But how dare me take that excess like I have earned it or deserve it and not give it away. How dare me not wake up every single day and cry in thanks about what God has given me. Maybe it's because I haven't seen with my own eyes what this life could be like and I haven't met the millions of people that can't say that they know what it feels like to have excess. How dare me forget that those people exist and that God created them and loves them just like He does me...

Friends, we are so very spoiled and have been so blessed by the Lord. What I have is not mine. What you have is not yours. I don't deserve it. You don't deserve it. Let's give thanks to God from deep deep deep in our hearts and ask that He save us from our selfish, naive, blind mind.

"Lord, give us a heart that is not blind to the pain and suffering outside of our 'world' and a voice that cries out daily in thanks for the provision that you have given us. Break our hearts for what breaks yours. Make us cry for what makes you cry. God, make us see through your eyes. Move us toward fulfilling the commands that you have given for believers: that we give freely the resources that YOU have given to us, that we love orphans, widows and the poor. Thank you so much that you have given to us so freely and that we have excess in this life. Thank you that we have food at each meal, that we have clothes to dress our bodies, that we have a roof over our head. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Now let's move. Let's help. Let's give. Let's give to where it hurts us. Let's give to those in Haiti to the point that we just might have to say "no" to some luxury in our own life in order to bless others. Let's do it!!

I am being convicted right now because it is very easy for me to hear about tragedies around the World and forget about it a minute later and never stop and thank God for His grace and pray for those hurting. But as a Christian, God desires for me to act differently. Don't let me throw my convictions on you, but do pray and see how God convicts your own heart.

Here are some websites that the Caroline's have sent to our friends that I get to pass on to you, blog readers:

Real Hope for Haiti, the organization that Caroline and Caroline raised money for a few months ago, is taking donations on their website (https://realhopeforhaiti.org/). Scroll down to the PayPal button. The biggest needs now are funds to purchase food and supplies and prices have already doubled in the last 36 hours. There are 75 children sleeping under a tarp tonight who need to eat 3 meals a day.

Red Cross An easy way is to text "Haiti" to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross. It will be on your next phone bill.

Compassion International. For a $35 donation you can help a family receive every sort of disaster relief they might need in this first critical week. You can CLICK HERE OR you can text "disaster" to 90999 to give $10 to Compassion's disaster relief program.

Lastly, you can purchase an awesome shirt (photo attached). 100% of the profits will go to support ministries in Haiti. You can buy them here (http://www.aaronivey.portmerch.com/stores/product.php?productid=17149&cat=0&page=1&featured)

I know there are tons of other ways to help, I just wanted to share these with some friends and family who I thought might be interested.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, THOUGH THE EARTH GIVE WAY AND THE MOUNTAINS FALL INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA, though its waters roar and foam and the MOUNTAINS QUAKE WITH THEIR SURGING..." Psalm 46:1-3


Why hello, 2010!

Well, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years have come and gone...I feel like every year it is so awkward writing the new year on everything that asks for a date, but this year's date seems especially uncomfortable. Are we supposed to say "2010" every time we say the date... or just "10?" Saying "0-" seemed fairly normal after doing that for 10 years and now we have to change our whole date-saying mentality.

I hope that each of you reading this had a wonderful and very blessed Christmas full of great memories that you can retrieve and smile on for years to come. Christmas in Korea is interesting. The province that we live in, Gyeongsangnam-do (Gyeongsang is the name, 'nam' means south, and 'do' means province), is known for being a predominantly Buddhist area, but spotted with several Christian church of various demoninations. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, however, store after store threw up their tiny Christmas tree, holly and ornaments and changed their normal Korean music to English Christmas music. Employees at stores wore Santa hats or festive beanies of some sort and even many delivery drivers (who don't drive cars but mopeds) wore entire Santa Claus outfits. The thought that consistently puzzled me was, "Do they even know what Christmas is about?" From my experience here so far (and others might see it differently), Koreans LOVE America. If asked where in the World they would want to travel most say the US, learning English here separates you from the rest of the Korean population and makes you a prized jewel, American celebrities and culture are very talked about here and, in general, Korean see the American culture as one to mimic.

Side note: There are, of course, many Koreans who do not feel this way and are angry that the US still occupies their country.
Side note #2: I often think this mentality is crazy.

But the whole reason for sharing this discovery is that despite the fact of if certain Koreans are Christian, Buddhist or some other faith they seemed to view the Christmas holiday and all that comes with it as this faddish, cool and copy-worthy Western invention. They know how to immitate all of the exterior sights and sounds of Christmas that has gotten way too out of hand in the West, but do they know why we celebrate Christmas? I dare say that most of the American traits that Korea has adopted are only the skin-deep, materialistic and idolatrous things that we pursue on a daily basis. I pray that many Koreans know that the whole reason for Christmas is Jesus, not how many lights you can hang, what colors of ornaments to put on your tree or how expensive the gift is you buy. Sadly, the probable reason why it seems that Koreans see Christmas as a materialistic celebration is because that is how most Americans see it...how sad this must make Jesus.

On a lighter note (phew!), I read my friend Kim Davis' New Years blog and she listed her top 10 favorite things from 2009 and I thought it was a brilliant idea...so I shall copy her. Thanks, Kim!

In chronological order:

#1. Living with A-mazing girls that really love Jesus and encouraged me everyday to pursue Him more and more and more. I miss this already. Pipey, you moved out in 2008 but I'm including you in this bunch for sure.

The gals minus Candice because she wasn't there, which means...

...she gets THIS.

#2. Leading a YoungLife Small Group in the Brazos Valley. My small group girls amazed me each week and loved on me and each other so very well. I pray that through our honest time of looking in to Scripture and analyzing our lives that they were able to intimately meet with Jesus. Sadly, I don't have a picture. They're too good looking to all be in one picture together. It just wouldn't be fair.

#3. Seeing many of my friends get married. Let me try to express how much I love weddings...everything about them...going to them, planning them, being in them, watching the groom watch the bride, eating good food, open bars (yep, I said it), looking at the pretty flowers, dancing all night...oh they are just great. What is even greater? Watching the friends that you love marry their loves and have the happiest day of their lives. 2009 weddings included: the Lewis' (I know, I know it was December 2008 but since it was only 11 days until the new year, I'm including it.), the Fordinal's, the Vacek's, the Dixon's, the Cotgreave's, the Jumonville's and the Todd's.)

The Jumonville's
Caldwell girl leaders at the Fordinal wedding
The Dixon's
The Lewis'

#4. My Bridesmaid's shower and Bachelorette Party. This day/weekend brought me so much joy my cheeks hurt so much from smiling. Having my best friends and wonderful family celebrating the excitement of Austin and my upcoming wedding was more than a girl could ask for...and it produced wonderful pictures and fun memories!

What we like to call "the girliest morning ever"
My bridesmaids and me
"Whose a super freak?"

#5. My parents buying a wonderful condo on Lake Conroe where we all spent many great weekends by the lake and on the boat...and where Austin and I got to live for a month and a half before moving to Korea. Score. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Sadly, again, no picture.

#6. Austin graduating. Him graduating meant that we could get married...yay!

#7. Marrying to the love of my life. Everything leading up to our wedding, with premarital counseling, planning the wedding, showers, etc. was just so wonderful and then our wedding day was the best day of my life so far. The exciting part is that we're only at about 6 months right now and have the rest of our lives to keep on lovin' each other. yippee.

#8. Honeymooning in Cabo san Lucas. Ahhh, I want to go back to that life. Eatin' Mexican food (best Guac everrr), sipping frozen beverages, laying by the beach/pool and not having a care in the World for 2 weeks. Yes, please.

#9. Moving to Yangsan, South Korea! Being adventurous and moving across an Ocean has been the best thing for our marriage and has taught us so much about ourselves as individuals. Also, we have gotten to travel. By the end of our year we hope to have traveled to: Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia (where my sister and brother-in-law (BIL) are moving!!!) and then finally London (to see Candice, Jon and my God-mother.)

#10. Learning Taekwondo. Austin and I knew that coming to Korea that we wanted to learn something new that was indigenous to Korea...so Korean Taekwondo it was. We are taking TKD with our friends in the above picture and will be taking our Green Belt test on Jan 11'th!!

Well, that's all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed my top 10 from 2009. See you again next time.