Tag Archives: mission

Haiti, Tuesday, February 21st

7 Mar

The day started bright and early as we loaded up the vans to start the day.  We collected the chickens and the goats and loaded them into the vans and on top of the vans and began our 45-minute drive to the village of Ti-Marche.  As we turned off the main highway, several team members chose to ride on top of one of the vans. So, again, we were very noticeable in our vans with the blancs on top of one and goats on top of another.  Lots of smiles and lots of waves as we drove through small housing areas and the “town” part.  

We arrived to the church where the pastor is the one who lets Second Chance know who in the village could use some extra help.  We began our parade of blancs carrying chickens, leading goats, and weighted down with 15-25 pounds of beans and rice in our backpacks.  And as we walked, our parade grew because kids and adults would join us to see what we were doing and where we were going.  They were also very quick to lend a hand to help us jump over a ditch filled with water or help us with a stubborn goat or cranky chicken.  Kids wanted to hold our hands and wanted us to take their pics and then see themselves on our phones.  I quickly learned that I couldn’t give something to one child because I would then be surrounded by 10 more and I didn’t have enough to give.  So, I will be making an Oriental Trading order before my next trip so I have something to give everyone!  They love watches, sunglasses, and bracelets.

We were out traversing fields and crossing little creeks for several hours as we were led to the homes of people who needed some extra love, some prayers and a little reminder that there are people in the world who care.  Most of the houses were one-room shacks made out of mud and straw….others were a little bigger made out of concrete block and tin roofs.  The views, however, were spectacular.  Mountains in the distance.  Lush vegetation – trees of coconut, mango, avocado, and lime.  Crops of beans, sugar cane, corn, beets, potatoes.  There were chickens, cows, pigs, and goats.  The children could run around and play and not have to worry about traffic and “city” dangers.  Far away from the loud noise and the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  Beautiful blue skies – palm trees – sunshine – I’ll share some pics later…or go follow me on Facebook or IG.

We would give one goat to a family because they then would allow that goat to breed their neighbor’s goat and then the baby goats would be shared with others in the village.  I think that is what I found so overwhelming and humbling is that even though they don’t have lots of material goods…what they do have, they share with one another and will share with you.  I think we Americans could learn a lot about it being more blessed to give than to receive and how we really don’t need all that we have in our houses and homes – wealth isn’t measured by what we have but by the relationships and love we have in our lives.  We left Bruno (the goat) with a mother of 7 who is a widow.  If I had to guess the size of her one-room house, I would say it was a square of 10 feet by 10 feet.  I know it wasn’t very big at all.  Our translator would translate what our spokesperson would say and would translate our prayers, as well.  I was able to hug her and be the recipient of one of her beautiful smiles.  The $30 it cost to purchase Bruno seems so small in relation to what it means to be given that goat.

It was such an incredible experience to be introduced to the various villagers….to see their smiles…to feel the love that was so evident in everything we said and did that day.  We may not speak the same language but a smile and hug says the same thing in any language and crosses all cultures, ethnic groups, and language barriers.

We came to a house where a lady was being cared for by her daughters and we found out that she had been out in the field working that morning and had suffered a stroke two hours prior to our arrival.  Nate and Jeff are first responders and have careers here in the US in the medical field so they were able to explain some things to the daughters and to give some recommendations.  However, we all knew it wasn’t very probable that she would survive.  Strokes are the number one cause of death in Haiti – the risk factors are high blood pressure and sickle-cell anemia.  Average life expectancy is age 60 for men and age 65 for women.  It was a sobering moment as we realized she was only 52… Yes, there are lots of moments where the reality of things can be very overwhelming and seem so hopeless; but then you see the eyes of a child light up when you give them a piece of candy or a pair of sunglasses or take their pic and your heart begins to feel hope and purpose again and you know that those are life changing moments for everyone..and that it is your life that will be changed the most profoundly.

You have to have moments of fun and laughter – otherwise, the sad emotions could be overpowering.  We had lots of those during our days.  I think of D’Anna passing out bags of beans and rice from her backpack and instead of her backpack getting lighter…it seemed just as heavy as when she started.  What she didn’t know is that every time Nate took a bag out, he put a big rock in.  She just kept trudging along while leaning forward because of the weight on her back.  After a while, Nate finally fessed up, and she, along with the rest of us, had a really good laugh.

We left the village and traveled to a lookout point where you could see the mountains of the Dominican Republic in the distance (we were only about 45 minutes from the border) and could see Lake Enriquillo….it’s the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. It was breathtaking!   A stop to meet the baby boy born to Roger, another of their translators, was a precious reminder of the circle of life.  We drove back to the orphanage a tired, dusty, exhausted team but with happy hearts and grateful spirits.

I also have to share how one always wants to travel with Second Chance Haiti board member, Mike.  He brings the sour patch kids and the twizzlers.  He was on our van so we were the ones who got to travel with the good stuff! Lol!  On Sunday afternoon, the people in the other van thought they could confiscate the bag of sour patch kids and that would be permissible.  We tried to get them back to no avail…even sending our security person over to use her authority to hand them over.  Well, all it took was Mike walking over and holding out his hand – they had to return the bag to its owner.  That is why you want to be on the van with Mike! In all seriousness – sour patch kids, twizzlers, peanut butter, nutella, tortillas to the side and not taken into consideration – Mike is a man with a servant’s heart who is willing to use his skills and talents to make life a little easier for those with whom he comes in contact….whether it be helping a little girl get her stubborn donkey to start walking, constructing trunks so the orphanage has storage, or praying for a person in the village. Just don’t ask him to go back to the market to carry chickens!!! lol

Addition for Monday’s blog:

I forgot to mention one of the most important things we did that day at the FOSA orphanage (in my opinion).  One of our team members wanted to carry on a ministry that her friend’s mother had started several years ago.  She has passed away and no one has carried on this ministry.  Britt had purchased stuffed animals for all of the children there; however, as people who believe in the power of prayer and in the love of a Heavenly Father who can watch over these children, she wanted several of us to join with her in prayer.  We all held several of the stuffed animals and then took turns praying over those animals – we prayed that these children would be comforted when they were feeling sad and that they would feel peace on days when everything seemed chaotic.  We prayed that they would feel love on the days they felt alone and uncared for and that they would remember there are people in this world who care about them and love them so much.  Tears fell from our eyes as we listened to the heartfelt prayers of our fellow team members.  Knowing that we cannot be there in person to brush the tears away from these children’s eyes and we cannot be there to give them a hug and we cannot be there to comfort them in the middle of the night when they have a bad dream.  However, we know a God who can do that and we knew that the power of prayer can transcend miles and distance and can do more than what we can do in our own human effort.  So, I would ask that you remember these children every time you pray for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren.  I know that it will make a difference!

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Haiti, Monday, February 20th

6 Mar

We started our day in the Croix-des-Bouquets market.  We were educated the night before and were told that we couldn’t take backpacks, purses, cameras, phones, etc.  We needed to stay in a line and with the group at all times – we were not to stop to look at anything.  It’s always a challenge for our security to take such a large group to the market and we needed to do all we could to make their jobs easier.  Well, they could tell us all they wanted to but it truly couldn’t prepare for the actual market.

If you’ve ever watched, The Amazing Race, when they go to a local market in a third world country, then you have some idea.  Even watching it on TV, I was not ready for the actual craziness.  I would never attempt this on my own and am glad for our security and our translator.  There were vendors, people, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, truck, BIG trucks, wheelbarrows, live animals, dead animals, etc.  Anything you can think of was being sold.  There were thousands of vendors.  I was trying to take it all in but it was very difficult because you had to look down at your feet to watch where you were stepping.  There were a few times that we had to grab the hands of the people in front of us and the people behind us.  BUT i loved it!!! And can’t wait to go back!!!

We were purchasing live chickens, live goats, beans and rice.  We went to the chicken lady first and let Ashley and the translator barter.  I think we ended up with 10 chickens.  They were tied together as pairs and we had to carry them by their feet.  You can imagine that this was quite the feat 😉  They didn’t really like being carried upside down and would get a little agitated.  Plus, from the time we bought them until we got back to the van was about one hour.  So, they had lots of time to get unhappy.

We went to the meat section next…..that is the area that I didn’t like.  Tables and tables of raw meat, organs, etc. It was warm so lots of flies and not a pleasant aroma to take in!!!  But, that is where we had to purchase the live goats.  I used some of the money given to me to purchase a goat.  So they got me a little male goat – I named him, Bruno.  And then I was able to parade Bruno all through the market.  He actually was a good goat – he didn’t like to get his feet wet so any time we came to a little bit of water, he would just stop and I would have to pull him to get him to move.  He also was quite hungry so would try to nibble on anything green that he saw.  Of course, the Haitian vendors didn’t like that so I had to make sure he didn’t “steal” anything!  You can imagine the fun we brought to the market.  There were 15 of us “blancs” and we all were parading goats or carrying live chicken all through the market.  One of the goats would just lie down in the middle of the road and refuse to move. So, our translator proceeded to just drag her as she bleated loudly! Yes, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the vendors and lots of laughter, as well.  We crazy white people parading with our menagerie!

We took the animals back to Bon Sam orphanage and then drove over to FOSA orphanage to spend the rest of the day.  Some of the team worked on getting the clothing and shoe sizes written down for all of the children.  The guys started building some storage trunks.  And then some of us went to another market so Mariflor could purchase the items to make us dinner.  Of course, I went with that group.  I loved the market experience and wanted to see a different one.  This second one was nicer and not as chaotic as the first one.  After that we went to a very nice grocery store, and we enjoyed some cheese, some bread, and a bathroom with running water!!! The rest of the day was spent having a Valentine’s Day Party with the kids, giving the kids their sponsor gifts and then enjoying a fabulous dinner made by Mariflor.  We had okra, plantains, potatoes, bread, spaghetti with a meat gravy and onions, peppers and garlic.  It was SOOOOO good!  Our van stopped at a cafe on the way back to Bon Sam to get food for a volunteer who had been ill – it was quite fun because the cafe is called, Vols Cafe, and is decorated in orange and white…but it has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee. Dena and I were happy girls because they had an espresso machine and we were able to get a latte.  It’s the little things, folks!

It was a great day – lots of fun memories made.  Some discovered that the market was not their thing and they don’t ever want to go back 🙂  Others of us loved the adventure and the chaos.  We ended the evening on the roof under the starry skies and shared our highs for the day, lows for the day, prayers, and devotion.  Then went to bed and fell asleep to the sounds of the Haitian city.  Nothing like it!

Haiti 2017, Sunday, February 19th

5 Mar

I’ve been home from Haiti for one week; however, it has taken me the entire week to process, ponder and reflect.  Today as my Pastor started a new series, The Blessed Life, I knew I was finally ready to begin sharing my week in Haiti.  

This blog will be about our first full day in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, which happened to be Sunday, February 19th.  We were up bright and early in order to attend Sunday morning services at the church our translator attends.  We arrived there around 8:30 but the congregation had arrived earlier for small groups.  The church was packed but they had reserved a space for us on the front row.  The church building made out of blocks – if I remember correctly, the roof was made out of metal.  There’s no air conditioning – only ceiling fans and some standing floor fans.  The Sunday we were there was the Sunday that the young people led the service from the singing to the speaking.  Beautiful voices filled the air as the Haitians worshiped God.  And although it was in French and I really couldn’t understand anything that was being said or sung, I could feel the joy, gratitude and love being expressed in their songs and words.  Their faith, their hope and their trust in God was very visible and evident in the way they sang and worshiped.

I noticed the joy on every face and I took note of how the people were dressed in their finest Sunday clothes….which don’t even get me started on how we Americans like to approach our church going in all of our casual, laidback attitudes and casual clothes as if we were spending a day working in our yards.  The colors of clothing were vibrant on the ladies and the men were wearing their suits and ties or slacks, dress shirts and ties.  It was very evident that going to church is very important to them and dressing for the occasion of being in God’s House is something that take as utmost importance.

After the service, our team served them sandwiches, chips and a drink.  I wish that I could have spent more time getting to know each of them but a quick “bonjour” and a heartfelt smile was all I had time to do.

We went back to the orphanage to change clothes and then head out of town to a remote village.  It was about 45 minutes out of the city;as we turned off the main road and drove on a dirt road for what seemed like miles and miles, we all questioned how in the world did they ever find this village to begin with!!! Nate and Jeff wanted to go back and check on a little toddler.  When Nate and Jeff were there in December, this little guy had fallen into a fire and was burned very badly.  Based on the severity of his burns, the toddler only had about a 10% chance of surviving.  Nate and Jeff did what they could and then they prayed for him.  Consequently, they wanted to go back and see how he was.  Well, the power of prayer was very evident because the little guy was well, walking, and the scars were so minimal…one would never be able to tell that he had been burned so severely in a fire.

Walking through the village where most of the houses were just little one-room shacks made out of mud with a straw roof, I was made aware of all the little things I take for granted on a daily basis.  When you go to one of these villages, your hand is very quickly taken by a child as you are walking.  All of a sudden there will be kids everywhere and they want to say “bonjour” and hold your hands.  Smiles are big and they are curious to see why the “Blancs” are there (french word for “white” and that’s what they call us!).  We had not had time to pre-make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; however, about 8 of us got in the van and had makeshift assembly line where we used machetes and pocket knives to cut the bread and then spread the pb and jelly with spoons, pocket knives and whatever else we could find that would serve a purpose.  We don’t have an exact count but I know we made at least 200 sandwiches.  We gave those out along with chips and a drink and some candy.  Lots of smiles because everyone loves a good ol’ pb&j!!!

We got back to Bon Sam (the orphanage where we stayed) tired but happy – we enjoyed some Haitian spaghetti on the rooftop and then came the best part of the day….we would sit in a circle and go around and share what was our high for the day and what stood out in our minds.  Fabulous moments spent with people who have become friends.

I climbed into my top bunk bed and shrouded myself in my mosquito netting and fell asleep listening to the dogs barking…roosters crowing (yes, they were a little confused as to when exactly they are supposed to crow!)….sounds of Carnival…  Hoping and praying that no spiders or any other kind of creepy crawly animal/bug would wander in via the window right beside me.  However, I had the best view – as I looked out the window right beside me, I could see the stars and then in the morning I could look out the window across the room from me and see the sunrise happening with the mountains in the distance.

Today, in my Pastor’s message, this is what made me think of Haiti and the beautiful Haitian people:

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in such generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”  2 Corinthians 8:1-3)

I saw time and time again during my week there that even in their poverty they have overflowing joy and such generosity.  I watched the kids at the orphanage over and over again receive something and then very quickly share what they had been given with their friends.  They wanted to share what they had with us.  But what stands out to me the most is their overflowing joy.  I am purposing in my own life to be joyful…to have overflowing joy and to give freely from my heart.  

Puzzle Pieces

15 Nov

This week was one of those weeks of question, uncertainty, and just feeling like pieces of dreams were falling all around me.  There are two of my friends that I group text with on a daily basis – we live in different states but our daily tag-ins keep us apprised of our days and what is going on in our lives.  My week started out with a negative doctor’s report and I was quick to text them and just share my fears and my doubts and my worries.  Both my girlfriends were there for me with words of encouragement and hope.  My friend, Dawn, made a great statement that has really stuck with me.  She said, ‘God will bring the puzzle pieces together in an organized fashion.’  Now, I’ve done several puzzles; in fact, my nieces and I have started a tradition of buying a Christmas puzzle and putting it together during Christmas break.  When you have 1,000 pieces all over the table, it can be quite overwhelming but you start with you foundation first – all the pieces that have a flat side you start connecting so you can make the frame.  And then you look for similarities and colors and start trying to fit pieces together.  You don’t wait to check if pieces will fit until you have found the perfect match…you just start trying to connect them.  If one piece doesn’t fit, you put it aside and try another.  That’s how life is…..you have the general frame of what you picture for your life and then there’s the pieces that somehow will fill the middle and make a beautiful picture.  You try things – sometimes they don’t work; but you don’t stop. You try something else.  You try a relationship and that person may not be the right fit at the time…so you go to another piece.  You make connections and you develop a network and somehow, eventually, more and more pieces fit together and it gets easier and easier to see the big picture and bring the puzzle to its completed perfection.  I’m not going to leave a puzzle half-finished with pieces scattered everywhere…i’m going to keep trying pieces and know that the puzzle will come together and will look better than what I could have pictured from just looking at the box!

WSSC13 Thoughts

7 Jun

I had the privilege of attending and volunteering for the World Spin and Sport Conditioning Conference in Miami.  Although I have been certified with Mad Dogg Athletics for a few years, I never had another Spin enthusiast to go with me until this year.  I could have went by myself but it’s nice to have someone with whom you can discuss lectures, workouts, workshops and rides….someone who “gets” your love and enthusiasm and craziness! 

For anyone who may not be aware of what Spinning is (no….it’s not twirling in circles and getting dizzy!!! I really have had people ask me that.) here is a brief explanation.  Johhny G is the man who was a cyclist enthusiast and wanted to be able to train indoors when it wasn’t feasible to be outside on a road bike.  He is one of the creators of the Spin bike and the concept of Spinning.  For detailed info, go to this page http://www.maddogg.com/history.html

Spinning is a trademarked name; and an instructor has to be trained through Mad Dogg in order to call himself/herself a “Spin Instructor”.  I am totally a Spin snob…..there are other indoor cycling programs out there but …. I’ll just leave it at that. 

The conference is one of the best that I have attended and I’ve been to several different conferences.  There were 17 different lectures/workshops/workouts/rides to choose from every block of time – barefoot, mind/body, boot camp/circuit, dance/barre, nutrition lectures, Spin lectures, Peak Pilates sessions, Spinning, stretch & restore, yoga, and mind/body business of fitness lectures. The presenters were some of the best in the fitness industry and were there to help us become better at what we do and were always willing to spend time answering questions.  Over 80 countries were represented at the conference and that diversity sparked great conversations and connections were made and friendships were formed. 

The conference began on Thursday night with over 256 energized and enthused people in the Grand Ballroom on Spin Bikes as master instructor Josh Taylor led them on the Fighter Pilot Ride.  He worked over 18 month creating the ride, putting it with music, and with a multi-media presentation that started you on a aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, had you up in the air flying, switching over to scenes of our men and women in the military and their families, back into the air and finally landing back on the carrier.  The crowd was energized to begin with; but when he started the ride with Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, it escalated to another level.  I was not able to actually ride but volunteered to fill water bottles just so I could be in and be part of the epic ride.  I could never adequately describe the energy, the camaraderie, and the fun that happened during those two hours.  I loved watching the hotel workers observe people “working out” and having a blast.  No one should ever suffer through a boring run on the treadmill with just one’s iPod for company!!!

I hit the ground running and ran hard.  If there was something going on, I was there.  I am not one who can attend a conference and go to my room and rest when there’s a lecture, workshop, or workout going on.  I’ll rest and recover when I get home – I’m there to learn, grow and become a better person….can’t do that when I’m going to my room to rest! I started two mornings with a ride….Friday morning, Master Instructor Elsa Storm from South Africa, created a ride called, “E = mc2”.  We challenged our body and our brain as we explored Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Saturday morning’s ride was SoulSistas….led by four fabulous female master instructors – Wow!  Once again, words fail so I’ll quote part of the description from the program guide:  “A strong woman works out to keep her body in shape.  A woman of strength builds relationships to keep her soul in shape.”  It was the first ever and I was lucky to be part of it. 

I gleaned from business lectures that I attended and from the valuable connections made with female studio owners.  It was during Vito LaFata’s session that I realized I had not changed my mindset to “I am an entrepreneur…I am a business owner” and that was quite the revelation.  I walked away from his lecture knowing what I need to do and how I need to think. 

The last session of the conference I chose to ride with Scott Schlesinger in Rare, Remixed and Mashed up.  During part of that ride, he had us envision another rider in the distance and he took us on a mental imagery journey.  He talked us through getting closer and closer to the rider….then coming up to the back of their bike….then starting to pass the rider….being side by side and looking over….seeing our old self – the person we were before the conference…and then pulling away from that rider and leaving that person behind and going forward with all we had learned and discovered to be the person we want and aspire to be.  I know I left the old me in the dust….I appreciate her but I’m ready for this next part of journey….in this ride of life. 

I’m still going through my notes…making contacts and connections via social media…processing everything I heard…and deciding what two things I am going to focus on in the rest of this year. 

I’ll finish this blog with some of the thoughts that stayed with me from Elsa’s Ride and SoulSista’s ride: 

As long as you’re moving, you are going somewhere.  ~Natasha

We’ve all come through struggles but we keep climbing. ~Elsa

Being strong is the ability to endure tough times but stay soft.

Life’s greatest mistakes bring blessings and we should capitalize on them.

It’s in the journey that women of strength become strong.

When it all falls into place, you wonder why you ever doubted that it would happen.

~Angela

This is Why…..

15 Feb

I am very passionate about motivating, inspiring and encouraging people that life and health is directly related to choices that we make….it’s not just something that happens to us.  However, I do not “preach” something that I do no practice.  Our bodies are amazing creations and daily choices can help those creations or hurt those creations.  I cannot put harmful foods, drinks, and substances into my body and expect my body to keep running at optimal performance.  I cannot sit all day and all evening and expect my body to continue being strong, flexible, and healthy.  I cannot think negative thoughts and expect my emotions, my outlook on life, and my interactions with people to be positive.

Yesterday, while sitting in the lobby at the UT Cancer Institute, I was reminding of why it’s so important for me to do what I can to help my body run at its best.  Last year, my doctor was concerned about some tests and wanted a second opinion and biopsy done by one of the best doctors for women’s health in our area – thankfully, there was no cancer; but I am on a follow-up program for a while.  Needless to say, the importance of making healthy choices became even more of a passion for me.

This small journey began in November of 2011; and at one of my very first appointments, the doctor went over with me the choices I needed to be making to help out my immune system.  Exercise, Rest, food choices, Positive thinking, no smoking, being careful of alcohol consumption, stress, and toxic relationships were all topics that entered that conversation.  I already was ahead of most people when it came to exercise, food choices, no smoking, and alcohol consumption; however, I needed to work on stress, rest and toxic relationships. I realized more than ever that I had to make good choices for me and my wellbeing. I could not continue to allow undue stress or relationships that were not healthy for me to be part of my daily life in any way, shape, or form. I also chose not to tell the whole world what was going on…just my family and a few trusted friends. I’m of the belief that the more you talk about something the bigger it can become and did not want to add more worry, fear, or stress.

I moved forward from that day – left certain things, situations, and people behind me – the past was the past and I just wanted to focus on the present moment and things I could do “today” to help make a better future for my mind, my emotions and my health. Was it always easy? No. Did I have moments where fear and worry would try to overwhelm me? Yes, I did. What I chose to do in those moments was very critical….I could allow the emotion to overwhelm me or I could acknowledge it and then remind myself that everything was going to work out and all would be well. I would quote Bible Scriptures or positive quotes….would spend time in prayer and meditation…or would lace up the running shoes and hit the road. I knew my choices would matter and make a difference. Now I’m not saying that my choices caused me NOT to have cancer – I am saying that I did what I needed to do to help my body out. Putting the wrong things into my body and my mind was not going to help my immune system get stronger – it would only weaken it. I did what I needed to do and that’s all that mattered. I controlled what I could and then let go of what I could not control. Choices…we are faced with them every moment and we have been given the power and the freedom to choose. I don’t take that lightly or for granted. This is why I do what I do, say what I say, live what I live – it’s my choice

Epiphany

6 Jan

Today is Epiphany Day. Many Christians around the world celebrate this Holiday and in many countries it is a public holiday. I’m not sure that many of us in the United States or especially those of us who are not Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican Christians have an understanding of what it is. Many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced; however, in general the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ. The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity to the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the Gentiles. In Eastern Christianity the emphasis is on the baptism of Jesus by John. Epiphany is also called, “Three Kings Day,” or “Twelfth Day.” It’s quite interesting to read how different countries celebrate – Wikipedia gives a great rundown of the countries that celebrate Twelfth Day and how they celebrate.

According to dictionary.com, one can use the word to refer to: 1) a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. 2) a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

Wikipedia gives a definition of Epiphany as it relates to a feeling. The word can be used to describe an experience of sudden and striking realization. “Generally the term is used to describe breakthrough scientific, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective…Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally following a process of significant thought about a problem….”

Now I know that few of us have epiphanies as defined by Wikipedia but I do believe during our lifetime we experience several occasions where we have our own personal epiphanies that change our lives, our thinking, our goals, and our spirituality. In my own personal life, my deeper understanding moments have occurred during or right after a very difficult time and they also did not happen while I was in my teens or twenties – no, most of them have happened in the last two years. I thought I knew what life was about and what I was doing and where I was going and then my world was shaken up. Maybe this happens so we have to stop, refocus, figure out if the path we are on is going in the right direction, figure out what really matters and what does not matter, and check in with ourselves to see if we are being true to our mission/purpose/passion.

As I reflect upon the holiday and feeling of Epiphany today, I hope that this year will be one of enlightening moments, deeper understanding, insight into situations, and more revelation of who God is and His love for us. Blessings!