Sunday, February 22, 2009


David and I just got back from an amazing trip to Nicaragua. I only got to spend 5 glorious days there, which I'll talk more about later, but my sweet, sweet husband spent 2 weeks down there setting up clinics and serving underprivileged children & their families.

I just have to brag on him for a second and tell you how amazing he is and what a heart he has for children. He is going to make such a wonderful pediatrician. The stories he shared and the pictures he took really capture what an impact he and the rest of the medical team made while they were there. For his independent project in his final months of medical school he is setting up a photo gallery in Shands displaying pictures and writings to capture the incredible experience that was Nicaragua; the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. I am so proud of him and can't wait to see his work displayed.

Here, he and Z are racing with some of the local kids. Dave said the 10 year old kid beat him because he got a cramp...maybe he let him win, we'll never know. He got to work and play with the kids, which is equally important in my mind.

One day they were working in a community near the border of Nicaragua & Honduras and the team was able to walk across the border. Dave was so excited that he got to visit 2 countries on his trip.

On their 1st weekend off, the team got to spend some time on a coffee farm. Dave said it was absolutely beautiful! They went on a long hike up to the top of a mountain and then back down. They continued hiking for 3 hours and eventually ended up on another coffee farm. They were so far away that they had to hitch hike their way back to where they were staying. Here is a picture of Dave at the coffee farm.

On Wednesday of their second week I flew down to meet Dave's group with the second group of medical students. It took an entire day to travel there, but it was worth it! The country may be poor, but it is an absolutely beautiful place. The first full day I was there we traveled to Playa Maderas, which is one of the best surf breaks in Nicaragua, other than Rancho Santana, where our uncle is building a vacation home. The waves were 6-8 ft high, but luckily there was a smaller break as well for me to surf on. I was not about to surf 6-8 ft waves with rocks jetting out everywhere you turn; 3-4 ft waves were just fine with me! :) Dave however, loved the big waves and spent the day out there ripping it up. Here is a picture of the group that went surfing. Other than the 30mph winds and the sand pelting us on the beach, it was a great day! We finished the day back at the beautiful house Dave rented and watched the sunset over the Pacific Coast. It was the end to a great first day and a gorgeous sight to see.

On Friday we hopped on a small, 10 person boat and traveled up the coast of Nicaragua. The coast is beautiful with not much development. Every couple 100 yards there were small coves, some with houses on them, but most without. The houses that are there are huge and gorgeous. It was amazing to me to see a coast as beautiful as that, with no condos and tourism. That just doesn't happen in Florida. At the end of that day we were able to see another amazing sunset, but this time we were cruising along the crystal blue ocean, with cool wind in our hair.

On Saturday, we went zip-lining! What an experience that was. This is a picture of us AFTER zip lining. Unfortunately, we didn't bring Dave's camera because it was too big to carry around. Our friend Z however, had his small camera and took lots of pictures for us, but the sad news is that he is still in Nicaragua so we don't have the pictures yet. I'll post them when I get them. The views from the top of the mountain were amazing. Looking out at the beach, the cliffs surrounding the beach, and the community below us was breathtaking. Just from looking at that sight I don't know how anyone can say there is no God. Who else could create something that beautiful? That just doesn't happen by chance.

We spent our last night there, Valentine's Day, enjoying a delicious dinner at one of the nicest restaurants on the beach. We enjoyed 2 glasses of wine, shrimp with rice, an entire white snapper, and 2 deserts for only 23 dollars. What a deal! If you were to go to Bonefish and order that same meal, it would cost you at least $100. It was one of the most romantic Valentine's Day dinners we have had and it was in Nicaragua!

It was a great mini vacation and I am so glad I got to meet Dave down there to spend time with him. I hope everyone had a Valentine's Day weekend as wonderful as ours. Cuz remember, it's all about the love!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

For Such a Time as This

Many of you who read my thoughts from Beth Moore two weeks ago have probably been wondering where I have been. I missed last week due to a UF basketball game, but I am back! :) The lesson we had yesterday was a lesson on being brave; trusting in the Lord with your whole heart - no matter what! I just can't get over what an amazing vessel Beth Moore is for sharing God's Word. Wow!

So, we are reading the book of Esther, which if you haven't read, is so far about a young Jew hiding her identity and becoming the Queen of Susa; taking place back in the day before Jesus. To make a long story short, the King, Xerxes, had some beef with a Jew named Mordecai, who raised Esther. Because of this "beef," Xerxes decided that he needed to issue an edict of government-sponsored genocide killing ALL the Jews. (Sound familiar? -- Hitler? hmmm) All except for Esther because no one knew she was a Jew, yet. Mordecai gets this edict in the mail, along with all the other Jews, and immediately goes to the Kingdom's Gates to talk to Esther, who knew nothing about what her husband had done. Mordecai pleads with her to talk with Xerxes, but she is afraid because back in that day, if you went to talk to the King without being summoned, the sentence was death. Yes, even for the queen! (I am so glad we didn't live back then, aren't you?) Mordecai reminds her that she is also a Jew and if she remains silent, someone is bound to find out and she in the end will die anyway. Finally, in the end of chapter 4, which is where we are now, Esther decides that she will go to the King and plead for her people because -- for such a time is this! Esther had to face her fear, trusting that the Lord would save her.

My first question was, what changed her mind? Why did she decide to speak out instead of remaining silent? Because if she remained silent, she would have been denying the reality she faced. How often do we do that? When we deny reality, we deny fear. God wants us to face our fears and trust that He will see us through. Want to know what the most frequent command in the bible is? "Don't be afraid! Fear not! says the Lord." Think about all the things you are afraid of, for just one second. Afraid of spiders, cockroaches, the dark, height, people, ... death. The list goes on. Beth Moore suggested to think about the WORST thing you fear. Maybe it's your husband cheating on you, maybe it's someone close to you dying, maybe...

God would say, "Ok, what would you do if that happened?"
"Well", you say, "I would just die if that happened. I would fall on the floor and be depressed for life!"
"Then what?" asks God.
"Then, I would lay in my bed for days, weeks, months, and cry my eyes out!"
"Then what?" asks God.
"Then, I would mope around my house and be completely useless!"
"Then what?" asks God.
"Well, then I guess eventually I would have to start picking myself up again. "
"Then what?" asks God.
"Well, I suppose I would have to start getting myself up in the morning and getting dressed again."
"Then what?" asks God.
"I guess I would have to go to work again and support myself."
"Then what?" asks God.
"Well, I suppose after a while, I would have to start living my life again."
"Why?" asks God.
"Because you are faithful, even when fear sets in. My God will take care of me!"

You see, Esther was willing to face her fears. She said in chapter 4, verse 16, "I will go to the King, even though it's against the law. And, if I perish, I perish." Basically Esther was saying, if this (fill in the blank here), then... God will take care of me! God will still be faithful! We cannot deny our worst fear; we must take courage over them. Not denying the reality, but denying it's victory over us! 1 John 4:18 says, "perfect love cast out fear." It is through God's love for us that we don't have to be afraid of ANYTHING! Does that mean it's always going to be easy? No! But, it does mean we have someone full of complete love for us to lean on when times are tough. Be brave ladies, for such a time as this! As Steven Curtis Chapman would say, don't miss the miracle of the moment!

Much love until next time... :)