Sunday, July 29, 2012

Do what you love

a hot u-haul will make you do this...
Last year around this time, my husband and I were unpacking the U-Haul after our 18 hour journey from Milwaukee to Denver! And man, what a year it has been! 

We moved to Denver because my husband was offered a position in Golden, Colorado. It wasn't easy leaving our family and life in WI behind, but we knew this opportunity was open for a reason. And so far there are plenty to list.

I can spend hours writing about the things that God has done for me and through me, but I'll save that for another day.

Today, I want to introduce my Etsy shop, give with JOY!! {Yay} I have the most supportive family and friends back in Milwaukee that encouraged me to do this shop. {special shout out to Carina and Lori for responding to my calls and texts about my shop}

And to my Denver friends! Thank you for pouring out encouragement. There are three wonderful ladies in particular that shared their time and talent to ensure givewithJOY would be a  success (hopefully it will be).

Rachael spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon with me taking photos of my cards and then a mini photo shoot of myself. Rachael, remind me not to wave my hair back and forth next time - awkward! Check out Rachael's blog here. Caitlin, thank you for sharing your knowledge about running your own Etsy shop! You're truly an inspiration - hey, you should call me, maybe? Caitlin is an amazing artist. Check out her store here. And last but not least, Sharon. Thank you for your friendship. I love having a friend that inspires me to live my life out loud. Sharon did all my branding for givewithJOY. 

The next post, I will reveal more about my shop and what inspired me to go after this dream!

with joy,
Aneta Nina

Photo credit - Rachael Hope -
You rock, girl!
visit givewithJOY to view my greeting card collection

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cambodia: Beauty for Ashes

Okay, it's almost 11 p.m. on a Saturday night and I am still lost for words to express my time in Cambodia. I have been typing away all day - a little here and a little there - but mostly I've been hitting the backspace key not satisfied with my expression. I boiled water for tea - which usually brings forth some inspiration - and turned on Pandora. I am already starting to feel more composed.
I have never been out of the country with the 'mission' to serve. Most of my trips outside of the U.S. were at beautiful resorts that hid the reality of the country I was visiting. But the trip to Cambodia is by far more memorable than any vacation I have been on.

In His Steps International is a ministry made up of some pretty amazing people who serve others with pure hearts. There are two American couples serving full-time as missionaries and we were able to witness their humble work, better yet, we were honored to be part of their mission for two weeks. Instead of Westernizing Cambodia, they are training and empowering Cambodians to influence their own country. And the Cambodian ministry leaders we met were examples of serving, obedience and unfailing love. The American missionaries and the Cambodian ministry leaders sacrifice everyday to empower and influence everyone they encounter.
Theavy - She is the national director of Sak Saum. Sak Saum believes that full restoration of trafficked victims requires treating the body, mind, emotions and spirit.
We spent most of our days teaching English, traveling to villages outside the ministry, and spending time with the women of Sak Saum. Those moments can be described as beauty to ashes - it was a common theme etched in my heart.

When I first arrived to Cambodia my physical eyes saw extreme poverty, chaos, and a country that is recovering from a deadly communist reign led by Pol Pot. But once I was able to really see Cambodia the way God sees it, my lens adjusted mightily. That's when I saw beauty for the ashes. That's when I heard stories of restoration and learned what it truly meant to love without borders. I learned from children who experienced abandonment and children who were sold into the sex trade - from them I learned all about LOVE and FORGIVENESS.

When I heard some of the children's stories, I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. Not because the stories weren't terrifying, not because the stories didn't fill me with anger, but because I saw the children and I experienced their joy. They allowed Jesus to come and restore their innocence that was stolen by man and by death.

Children truly are an example for us all. Matthew 18:3 reads, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." This passage became another popular theme during my time in Cambodia.
Tracy, from my team, and Lexi are nurses in Denver.
Going into the villages was a high point for me and I would have to say my husband's too! We both were in our element. My team's time in the villages focused on performing skits about Jesus, games and lots of playing time. In another village, we held a brief health clinic about treating burns and cuts, and performing CPR.

There were quite a few sweet moments with the children, but one in particular will always be hidden in my heart. I made up a game to play called Muy, Bee, Pie! (1-2-3). We raced on one foot! Seriously, it was the most fun I've had and the children's laughs and giggles were from the belly. The sweet moment is shown in the third picture below - this sweet little girl grabs my shirt and runs with me while holding onto my shirt. She saw that I was tired - so she gave me a hand. I will never forget her sweetness.

I could write more, but I will let the pictures show you what my team and I experienced. I can't believe we are home from Cambodia about a month now. My lens on life has been enhanced and adjusted because of Cambodia. When I first arrived, I felt out of place and uncomfortable, and from that came beauty. I saw beauty everywhere especially within the people.  

We don't all have to travel to another country to serve and grow. But we can start in our own community. There are many hurting people that need us to show them genuine love. 

Photo credit: Gabi Kelley

Photo credit: Gabi Kelley

Denver United girls with Father's House girls!

Cambodia is beautiful....

with joy,
Aneta Nina