Tuesday, February 20, 2007

my grandpa...

Today is my dad's birthday. He is 54 today. And as he said to me this afternoon, at least he's still "driving under the speed limit" for another year. This morning, his dad, my grandpa, Benjamin Franklin Mann, passed away at 4:45 am. He was 89. I didn't know him all that well because weren't up in Orlando all that much and when we were, we would usually spend one afternoon over at his house. I do know that he was a proud man. I pulled out all of my family history papers that I've collected over the years and this is that they said regarding him:

He was born in Boston in March of 1917. He enlisted as an army private in March of 1941. He married my grandma, Mae Dolores Sacki, on Aug. 14, 1943 in GA. He was a Browning automatic gunner and a radio operator. In 1943, he transferred to the Army Air Corp for training as an aerial navigator, resulting in his commission as a second-lieutenant. During World War Two, he was stationed in Italy and flew 43 combat missions in Europe as a navigator. His last mission was on May 7, 1945, the day before the war ended. He made the military his career for 29 years- 15 as Chief Warrant Officer, 4 as a commissioned officer with the Reserve rank of Lt. Colonel, and the last 10 as a Master Sergeant. His overseas stations were in Italy, Ankara and Izmir (Turkey), and West Berlin. His man decorations and awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross and four U.S. Air Force Commendation Medals.

I wish that I had known him better. I would have loved to have heard stories about living overseas. It's actually really interesting now, as I think about it, that I would be reflecting on a member of my family who lived a good deal of his life overseas as I am strongly considering the possibility of someday living overseas, whichever sea that ends up being. I'll write more later when I know more.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

random things that few people know about me...

Ok, I've been working on this for about a week. You know, back when I didn't have anything of substance to post. Well, we all know that I've written more in the past two days than I have in the past four months! But, since I've been working on my fun little list, here it is:

Random things that few people know about me:

I love the sound of trains. If I could, I would wear jeans, a T-shirt and my Birkenstocks all the time...and my Braves cap. I love to be outside, even though I barely ever get to be. Some days I think I could live on sweet tea. At some point I want to live overseas, although the location keeps changing. I love road trips and enjoy them even more when the windows are down and the music is loud. I love to go swing dancing. In college I took rock-climbing, ballet, & golf and really would like to try all of them again. I'm messy. (Just ask my roommate!) At some point in life I want to live in Tennessee. I've only been camping once (with my youth group, in Tennessee right before we rafted down the Ocoee river!!). I've been teaching myself the guitar for 8 ½ years. I've lived in 4 states: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, & Illinois. I used to have a reading tree that I spent my time in until Hurricane Andrew blew it down. I speak a little French, a little more Spanish, and I can pronounce Italian, German, and Latin really well thanks to vocal diction classes! Oh, and I can speak Pig Latin too! I love to watch the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and PBS. And the last one for now, thanks to Brian, I realized tonight that I can sing all of "Matthew's Begats" by Andrew Peterson! (That's quite a feat!)

retracing my steps...

Sometimes, the best way to gain a clear focus is to go back and trace your steps. That's what I've just been doing. I've been reading over my blogs from the last year. It's a really interesting thing to do. It's especially interesting looking at when I wrote things. I think that I can safely say that the journey that I'm tracking right now started just one week shy of a year ago. (I've rewritten that sentence four times and I'm still not sure if that's how I would say it, but you get the gist of it!) On February 26th, 2006 (technically, February 27th, by the time I actually got it posted), I wrote this blog: Invisible Children. This was my first night going to Refuge. I remember that night. I remember us watching the video. I remember Brian leading us in "You Said" and thinking what a perfect song that was to end on. I remember wanting to do something. I also remember the feeling that I couldn’t do all the things that I would want to do because of my current circumstances. I remember feeling called to do more than what I wrote about, but afraid to talk about it, because then it would be real. I remember resigning myself to the fact that I would have to simply raise awareness. It broke my heart to see the kids in Uganda. I really did just want to pick them all up and hold them. It's the way I feel about all kids. They were meant to be loved. They were meant to be protected. They were meant to be nurtured.

This weekend at the conference, they asked us to examine ourselves and find what our passion is. Mine came to me quickly: children. It always has been. I am happiest when I'm around them. The Lord speaks to me through them and they feed my soul in a way that nothing else can. I have tried to see music as my passion for a long time, but I know now that it is more of an outlet than a passion. I enjoy making music. I love being with children.

Then I found this post from September: singin' in the rain. The second half of this post was a VERY short version of all the coincidental things that happened that week. One of the things that I left out, once again, because I would then have to think about it, was something that my boss said to me the week before. She looked at me when we were in the stockroom and just stared at me for a minute. She then said something that completely shocked me. She said, "You've been thinking about missions, haven't you? I know you have. I can just tell." I had not breathed a word to anyone regarding it until then. It had been bumping around in my heart, trying to get out, but I had never let it out until then. So, that weekend, when Drew preached on Gen 12:1-10, "A Vision Worth Dying For", speaking about Abraham's call and our call as well, to leave country and our father's house, I almost couldn't handle it. That, coupled with the passages in "My Utmost For His Highest" that week almost sent me over the edge. I didn't know what to do with it all. (It didn't help that my attitude at that time was not exactly one that I am proud of.) I have been processing it all since then and have talked to a few select people about it since.

And now, here I am. Still more confused than ever. It's been a year and I still don't know what this call means. The "Next Step Lunch" that I went to yesterday at the end of Fusion was with the Rafiki Foundation, which is an organization that has set up "villages" in ten countries in Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia, with villages still under construction in Ethiopia, Liberia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Right now, they take in teenagers and orphans under 6. Their mission is to educate and equip the next generation so that they can be leaders in their communities. It was a really interesting presentation, but I don't think it's an organization that I would necessarily be able to work with. Mostly, because what they need are teachers with certification. I, obviously, am not a certified teacher. So, that's that.

There is almost too much for me to process right now. I guess I felt that if I shared it, rather than keeping it inside like I normally do, maybe I can find some clarity. Right now, I'm just scared looking at all that I've just typed, knowing that I've just bared my soul. That's a new step for me. Maybe it's the first of many...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

fusion and change...

So, here we are again. It's been now almost 3 months since I've written this time. What is the deal? I have things to say! Why don't I write them? I guess I'm writing now because I need to process. This has been a roller-coaster week. (And not just because I rode the Triple Hurricane and the Okeechobee Rampage with Claire last Saturday at Cypress Gardens, although I did!) Doors have been shut, while other doors stand in front of me waiting to be knocked upon. The task at hand is discerning which doors are doors that I should knock on. That's the part that scares me. I'm not good at this part. Luckily, I won't be going through it alone, but still it seems daunting.

This weekend, I had the chance to go to the Fusion conference in Orlando. It was a last minute thing and a real blessing to me. I found out about it on Wednesday afternoon and decided to take my friend's ticket on Thursday. Then I found out that some guys from our church were going, which meant that I didn't have to just go and sit by myself. Oh, and the worship band? Yeah, that would be none other than the David Crowder Band!!! They were amazing, but that wasn't the point of the conference. Yes, it was the reason that I was coming to the conference, but luckily God had better ideas. He usually does. That's why I'm glad that He's in control and not me. After listening to the speakers, I have a lot of heart-searching to do. Now, I don't want to sound all cheesy and stuff, saying that I'm convicted of things now because I heard people talking about them. I've been processing this all day and I'm still not through with whole thought, but this is my response so far. It is one thing to latch onto what a speaker says for a short period of time and it's a whole other thing to have a speaker speak to something that has been on your heart and mind that you just hadn't completely worked out. I feel that the latter is where I am. I've been to conferences before. I went to Acquire the Fire my freshman year of college. It was a good conference. Did I feel convicted? Sure. Was it short-lived? Absolutely. I got back up to Greenville and went back to "daily life" and pretty much forgot about things. I don't think I can do that this time. My heart is involved this time. I can feel that He is working something in me, though I'm not sure what it is. It excites and scares me at the same time. Where does this leave me? For the time being, it leaves me here in Lakeland. But then what? Only He knows and in due time, He'll share that.

So, yeah. What a week. From a Wednesday that was horrendous to a Friday and Saturday that were completely blessed. God is good and faithful. I'm not going to promise to write more frequently, because every time I do that, I don't write for 2-3 months. I do feel like I need to write more, though, once I've processed some more of what this means for me. Until then,

Grace and peace,

Heather Irene