Do I Even Know What Hunger Is?

First of all, I know, It’s been close to a year since I’ve blogged anything.  If you haven’t gotten bored enough to unsubscribe from my blog already, thank you… and I bet it was a surprise to see that email pop up about a new post from Britt!

This past Sunday, after a particularly lazy post-church afternoon including NASCAR, NCIS Season DVD’s and napping, Shaner and I realized that the hour had gotten late and we hadn’t had dinner.  We also didn’t feel like spending much money on a quick meal, so the combination of late and cheap led us to the drive thru of everyone’s favorite fast-food, taco-burrito-chalupa serving establishment.  As we turned in off the highway, we both groaned and sighed as we immediately hit the brakes and were stopped in a long line of cars waiting to order.  We teased each other with comments like, “who’s idea was this?” and “nice pick, honey… hope they serve breakfast!”

Out of curiosity I set the stopwatch on my watch to see just how long this would take.  Twenty-six minutes, fifty three seconds.  It took nearly 27 minutes for us to drive about 50 yards, pick up our chalupas and nachos and be on our way.  I know what you’re thinking: we could have gone inside, ordered, eaten, gotten a desert, and written this blog post in that time.  Needless to say, when we got home we thought we were “starving” and dove into our food.

But as sit here and think about it today, I wondered if I was really even hungry.  Could I even call what I experienced hunger?  Sure, it had been a little while longer since my last meal than I would normally wait, and I did want something to eat, but is simply wanting food hunger?

My thoughts turn to memories of my trip to Kenya in 2006.  It was such an awesome, life-changing, eye-opening blessing of a trip where I got the incredible experience of not only sponsoring a child through Compassion International, but I got to meet her!  I got to hold her in my lap and I got to give her a grocery bag full of cheap toys and gifts which she treated like treasure.  Her name is Naiponoi and now she’s almost 15 years old. I got to go to the market and stack up bags of grain, and rice, and corn to send to her family who lived in the plains, miles from any city or town.  It was such a great feeling.



As we spent the day together, visiting other Compassion sites with our group, I remember carrying her as we walked up the garbage-lined roads of the slums, with deep trenches dug by the wash of rain and sewage.   As I carried her, observing what was all around us, I realized I was seeing hunger.  I was seeing shack after tin-roofed shack, where families lived in a single dirt-floored room, wondering where their next meal would come from.  I remember fighting the tears as I thanked God that Naiponoi lived out in the plains, and not in the slums like these. I saw hunger. I saw children being sent to heaping piles of garbage to look for anything edible. I saw barefoot children playing in the streets lined with sewage and trash.  I saw orphans begging for money to buy a scrap to eat, or if no food could be found, to buy an 0ld glue bottle to sniff and get high to dull the growls of their stomachs. I saw hunger.

It’s weird how nearly 6 years later, after day-to-day life in America, one can almost become detached from such an experience. But it only takes one little thought for it to all rush back.  The sights.  The sounds. The smells.  It’s all as vivid this morning as if it happened yesterday. I know that trip may have very well been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I pray that God will not let me forget it for the rest of my days.  I feel as though I was given that chance, and shown those sights for a reason.  At the time, perhaps the reason was simply for me to sponsor a child, so that she may have hope and an escape from such an existence.  If you’ve ever considered the possibility of sponsoring a child, I strongly encourage you to do so, and I strongly recommend Compassion.  I’ve seen their work firsthand.  I’ve seen the results of sponsorship.  It would be the best $38/month you could ever spend.

But as for now, I pray that the Lord will give me more opportunities.  More chances to do something.  Hunger is a huge monster to tackle, but maybe I can start with not complaining when it takes 26 minutes to get my chalupa.


Are we Frustrating the Father?

        Last night was a first in the Johnson home.  I was watching tv in the living room about 10:30pm, getting ready to head to bed when I heard Shaner yell from the bedroom that she heard a noise.  “There’s something in here!” was the next yell that I heard, “there’s something in the floor!”

        Now, we have had a mouse or two in our nearly three years of living together in our house, and I have to admit I was pretty irritated at the thought of having to put out more traps and clean up the mess that mice leave behind. When I went to listen for the noise she was hearing, Shaner explained to me that it was coming from the AC vent in the floor, and there was something in it.  Something big.  My thoughts were racing as a listened for the noise, looking down the dark vent.  As Shaner had me prepared to see the head of a racoon or a giant vampire bat pop up in the vent, I finally heard the rustling noise.  “I’ll go get a flashlight,” I said.

        On the way back to the bedroom I was preparing myself to do battle with some sort of angry, vicious animal.  I removed the vent and shined the light down, cautiously tilting my head over the vent to see what horrible face was going to meet me.  There in the duct, breathing heavily but not moving, was a “5-lined skink”, those bluish-silver lizards that are so common in Georgia – quite suitably scientifically named Plestiodon Inexpectatus, as he was quite unexpected in our home.

        I’m no stranger to these little guys, having a childhood of playing in the woods, and I knew that if i were to grab him by the tail I would likely be left holding a wiggly tail and nothing else, as these lizards can shed their tails as a defense mechanism.  I had to have another plan.  My tools of choice: a Tampa Bay Rays souvenir cup and a spatula. While attempting to rake him into the cup he freaked out, as I thought he might, and plumeted down the AC duct. “Darn it!” I thought, “we’ll just have to wait and see if he climbs back up to the top.  A few minutes later, Shaner called me back into the bedroom to tell me he was back.  Time to try again.

        My second attempt yielded very similar results.  As soon as the cup or spatula would touch him, he’d spaz out and go crashing back down into the depths of the AC duct.  “C’mon!” I shouted. “I’m trying to help you!”  But the skink was too scared to allow me to touch him.

        Attempt number 3 came and went around 11:45pm with the same results.  This time I was angry.  “Fine, you dumb little lizard!  Die in there and stink up my house as you decompose!”  (Which of course was not what I really wanted, as I didn’t want our house to reek and Shaner wasn’t going to let me rest until I rescued this scared little lizard).

        Finally, a few minutes after midnight, on my 4th attempt, I was finally able to flip the little guy into the cup and carry him outside to release him.  I would have liked to have been able to know his thoughts at this point.  Was it something along the lines of “Ooooohhh… you were trying to help me!  Gosh I wish I had of gone along with the first try, it sure would have saved me a lot of pain and effort!”  I know… it’s a long shot for a tiny, lizard brain, but let’s go with it.

        How many times do we frustrate our Heavenly Father and fight His plan for us?  I don’t mean that to place myself in a God-like role by any means, in fact I’m identifying myself with “dumb little lizard.” How often do we lose our trust in Him, and try to do things our own way?  God knows what the result will be when we try to do things our way: more falling down and climbing back up. 

        God gives us a promise in the book of Jeremiah, “”I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). God’s plans are better than our plans.  His ways are better than our ways.  When might we learn to trust in His plan and His care, to follow Him in faith and allow Him to lead us to the future that He has in mind for us. 

        We may rest assured that God will never give up on us and leave us in the failures of our own plans.  He will seek us again and again and again.  May we pray to learn and recognize when God is giving us the help we so desperately need.


Enjoy the Climb


Atop Amicalola

This past summer Shaner and I joined something called the Canyon Climbers Club.  Basically, you pay a fee, ($10 I think), and you get a card to be punched as you complete the 4 “canyon climbs” of the state of Georgia:  Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Providence Canyon, and Tallulah Gorge – all of this leading to the reward of a T-Shirt which will proudly display one’s canyon climbing prowess to the world.  So far we’ve completed Tallulah Gorge and Amicalola Falls. We completed the Amicalola portion of the challenge just this past Thursday, the 7th of April. 

     We left the house about 2:00 or 2:30, thinking we’d enjoy a nice leisurely afternoon soaking in God’s beautiful creation and getting a little much-needed exercise.  We arrived at the park at about 3:30, and went into the check-in station’s front desk to inquire about where we needed to begin.  We’d both been to the falls before and done most of the hiking and stairs, we’d just never done it all at once or in order.
     “You’ll need to drive up to the bottom of the pathway that leads to the stairs, climb all 604, and then come back down here to this desk,” the nice man informed us. “Oh, and you’ll need to do it by 5:00 if you want your card punched, that’s when we close.” 
     Having never climbed the staircase all at once or from bottom to top, my stress level jumped.  My thoughts were, “I don’t know if we can do it in that time, We’ve never done it all at once.  It took us over an hour to get here, I don’t want to waste this trip… and I certainly don’t want to waste the effort of climbing 604 steps, (1208 round trip).”
     “Well, Honey… we gotta move!” I told Shaner as we hustled to the jeep and drove to the base of the trail.  We strapped on our daypacks and started the climb, trying to keep a decent pace and moving around families with kids who just didn’t seem to share our urgency.  I hurried Shaner along whenever we took short breaks and kept a close eye on my watch to keep track of how we were doing.  We weaved in between people posing for family photos as we crossed the bridge over the falls, thinking “get out of the way, people! We have a time-limit here!”
     Once we reached the top and paused for a breather and a drink of water, I noticed that our ascent had taken a little less than a half-hour.  Assuming our descent would take the same amount of time or less, we’d be back to the front desk about 4:30.  I breathed a sigh of relief and stared out over the falls. That’s when I began thinking about what had just taken place. 
     Hiking is near the top of the list of things my wife and I love to do.  We adore being out in God’s creation, especially in the mountains. What would usually be a great time shared between God, my wife, and me, was ultimately a stress-filled, taxing sprint up 604 stairs.  As we began walking back down, one of the first things I saw was a father and his young daughter, (which we had impatiently passed on the way up) sitting on one of the benches and laughing as she played with a stick she had picked up out of the woods.  They hadn’t even made it to the top yet, and judging by the speed they were traveling when we passed them, they had been going at their climb for quite a while. 
     There were more families taking pictures on the bridge as we arrived the second time, and this time I watched as they smiled and laughed in the mist of the waterfall (one of God’s underappreciated blessings on this warm day).   We waited behind them until they were finished, and then took a few photos of our own in front of the impressive waterfall.
     We reached the front desk in plenty of time (4:33 PM if I remember correctly), and the lady at the desk happily punched our cards.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at the top of the mountain (we drove this time) and walking a couple of the shorter trails they have in the park. 
     Are we so worried about the clock and achieving our goals that we miss out on God being a part of the ascent?  I missed out on what could have been a beautiful climb with God and my wife, but instead I had a stressful, tiresome climb with my wife who was surely annoyed by my efforts to hurry things along.   Thankfully we were able to slow down and enjoy the climb back down and the rest of the after noon at the park.  But here’s the thing:  we’re not guaranteed the trip back down.  We don’t know what tomorrow may hold.  We may not get the chance to slow down and soak in God’s beauty later. 
     Sure, it’s good to have goals, and sometimes reaching those goals can be stressful.  But in those times may we look for God in the journey.  May we work hard toward our goals without excluding God.  May we not procrastinate our time to enjoy being with our Father until the descent.  Let’s seek God in the ascent as well.  Let’s enjoy the climb.

Late to the Party

Yup.  2011, and I’m starting my first blog.  I know what you’re thinking, “way to catch up, Britt… blogs have only been around for about 15 years.”  But I’m slow to jump onto any bandwagon.  I just bought a smart-phone in January.  I didn’t get on facebook until my senior year of college.  I still don’t own an xbox 360, I don’t have a DVR and I played my first game of Call of Duty online multiplayer earlier this year.  (Not Black Ops, not MW2, but World at War – Wii platform).  I guess I like to make sure things aren’t just a fad that will fizzle out before I invest any time or money into them.  I suppose the blog passes that test.

My hopes for this blog are simple.  I only wish to share thoughts as God teaches me.  To share things that bring a laugh.  Maybe to share things that hurt.  But most importantly, to share things that set our minds and hearts on things above.

My junior year of high school, my U.S. History teacher, Mrs. Bryan, opened the first day of class with a question: “What is the one thing you can do anytime and anywhere, with no rules or laws which control how you may do it?” (forgive me if I’ve misquoted, Mrs. Bryan!)

Think.  No, I’m not telling you to think harder, that’s the answer.  Think.  You may think anytime, anywhere, whatever you want and no one can stop you.  No one can pass legislation telling you what to think.  No one can punish you for thinking.

That’s an awful lot of freedom, is it not?  It may seem like nothing, but I believe that freedom to be a huge gift out of our Father’s love for us.  But it’s also dangerous.  For we know that our actions are derived by our thoughts.  Even if we have a thought that we know we shouldn’t act on, it is the “i can’t do that” thought that stops us from acting.  Our thoughts control our actions. 

So what’s filling your heart and mind?  What are your heart and mind set on?  In the third chapter of Colossians, Paul writes:

“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV)

May our hearts stay set on things above.  May our minds stay set on things above.  If our hearts and minds stay set on the things of this world, our actions will be just that.  Worldly.  If we desire our actions to be righteous and of our Heavenly Father, then our hearts and minds must remain set on things above.  It is my hope that this blog, in some simple way, may help move us together toward that end.

Let the blogging commence. =)

Britt Johnson

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