Saturday, January 28, 2006
I was on a website today and this is how they described themselves (and I quote unfortunately)..."We seek no creed but Christ, no rule in religion but the Bible, no worship but that which is taught on the pages of the New Testament, no names but Bible names, and no plan of salvation besides what God has made known in His Word. In short, ours is a call to undenominational, first-century, New Testament Christianity in every regard (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We determine to "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11) in all we say, and act by the authority of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17) in all we do. We invite you to investigate what we believe and practice - compare it with what the Bible teaches, and we think you'll be pleased with what you find."
Whewwwww...I'll be honest with you I read things like that at this point in my journey and I get nervous and then usually sick to my stomach. The sales pitch I suppose is good, except what we're selling is a perfect church that doesn't need much blood to cover us because we've got it figured out and when you walk through the doors you'll see that we know alot.
How about this...how about we put the truth on our website? How about a description that says...Behind these doors you'll find a whole bunch of broken people who are absolutely lost without the blood of this One named Jesus. You'll find us to be hypocrites and prideful. We're weak and fickle and much of what we say and a lot of what we do will look good and equally as much will be self serving and do a horrible injustice to the heart of God. If you look at us you will undoubtedly be disappointed. We'll lift you up and encourage you sometimes and just as often let you down and beat you up by our own ignorance and insecurities. We certainly don't do this religion thing perfectly, matter of fact if it were up to us and the way we lived it out, no one would want anything to do with it.
Yep that pretty much describes us...but let me tell you what we've found together inside this place. We have found this God who always shows up. We've found a God who is big enough that He doesn't need us and yet tender enough that He'll always want us near Him. We've fallen in love with a man who went to a cross to prove that. We have found that we know next to nothing and God is everything and we're finally willing to let that be enough. And you know what's happened in the process...we're having fun loving on a God who doesn't feel like an obligation but a privilege. We're living out dreams that aren't graded by success or failure but are fulfilling because they're God's dreams and I get to come alongside and be part of His plan.
I just wonder what would happen if we'd ever just get honest and admit that we're nothing. I wonder if we'd finally realize we're all on even ground in desperate need of a Saviour. I'm pretty sure the world doesn't much care for a group of people who think they act right in "every regard" or perfom perfectly in "all we say and all we do." Pretty sure this world full of sinners is looking for some people who remember they're sinners too in search of a Saviour who seeks to love all over a sinner, no matter how dirty he or she may be.
I guess I just wonder when we'll get it, myself certainly included. Help us Lord, please help us have hearts that come before you humbly knowing that you don't need us, that you invite us to come alongside your awesome plans and to be a part of them. Oh what we'd miss out on had you not offered the invitation. Thank You for the offer. We say yes. Help us to remember our place.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Then tonight we took Dilcia out for her birthday. The following are some pictures you'll enjoy seeing. It's been a fun day watching some people delight in and enjoy some things we've taken for granted for a long time. If nothing else taking for granted the fact that people have made us feel special. Enjoy the pics...
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Ok God I get it again...humbled!!! It took two hours out of our day to bring tears to another person's eyes because they felt treasured and like they mattered. Two piddly hours!! Once again I am reminded that life is always always more fun when I attempt to make other people feel special, when I lose sight of me in an effort to see someone else better, and when I attempt with all that is in me to love people the way God does!!
It's been a GREAT day!! Today God was faithful to be patient enough to teach me more and I pray I was obedient enough to listen well...thank You Father for loving me the way that You do! Help me to learn how to love like that!
Sunday, January 22, 2006
My birthday was Thursday and it was super special even though I was miles and miles away from home this year. Some of my favoritest people from home had arranged for me to get a massage here, and that was WAY nice and then we went to lunch at this really nice restaurant called El Corral. Karen and I went after that to get a manicure and a pedicure. Met our friend Fabiola for chai tea at the little coffee shop that we love and sat on the patio and talked for a long time with her. Came home and Melissa brought me cheesecake (which I LOVE.) Friday night we went to the neat little Chinese restaurant where some other folks showed up to surprise me, thanks to the Kluge's. Today we went to the lawyer's house for a Honduran BBQ. It was so much fun, we got to eat all sorts of Honduran cuisine and let me just tell you I learned that I LOVE corn tomalitos. I will be learning how to make those somehow.
It's been a good weekend. So many neat things that people did to make me feel special and loved and I appreciated every single one of them.
My favorite gift this year came from one of my Honduran friends however. You all have heard me talk about Marta. She is the mother of the two boys you see on here often, Dennis and Christian. Anyway we were at Santa Ana yesterday working and Marta came in carrying this plastic Kroger bag. Inside was used wrapping paper from somewhere a piece of string tying it around this little vase with artifical flowers that she had made for me. On the outside of the vase in crayon she had written "Feliz Compleanos para Jenifer de Marta." Some of the words were spelled wrong, it was written in green crayon on a pink vase. The flowers were artificial and you might look at it and think ok well that's not too special there Jen. I will however treasure it as if it were gold. When I opened it with HUGE tears in my eyes, I thought what makes someone who has absolutely nothing come to offer you a gift. I was as humbled as I've been in a while.
Not always the gifts that cost the most or are the biggest and best that tug your heartstrings or touch you the most. This year it was this simple little vase of flowers that touched my heart as much as any gift ever has. It came straight from the heart and was offered because of that and it was a beautiful thing.
Thanks God for humbling me over and over and over again by the generosity of these people who have nothing to their name and yet give without a thought of keeping it for themselves. It's a Jesus kind of giving that I certainly can take some lessons from.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
While waiting however at the (place in Honduras where one goes to get a drivers license I'm not sure what it is called exactly) I got a chance to talk with Mark Connell for a bit. Don't know the guy well, have only had the privilege to be around him a few times but he is as real as it gets and his thoughts and heart challenge my own and I find his "ideas" for lack of a better word refreshing. So part of our conversation today went something like this...
His blog posts always have deep thoughts on them and the fellowship that he is a part of that we read and hear about often is one that is revolutionary in some ways. When I asked him how things are going with that these were some of his words..."It's great man, I love it. Everything happens in relationship you know. It's like we don't publicize we don't have signs and do bulletins, it all happens because of relationships. We just have a heck of a lot of fun. Sometimes we drive around and help people find jobs. Sometimes we sit with someone for hours because they're having a hard time not drinking, sometimes it's days. Sometimes we sit and talk with people who are struggling with all sorts of other things. It's ministry in it's own way I guess but we aren't necessarily termed...THE ministers...it's awesome because we don't have goals to "grow" the church numerically we're just all about investing in people. No decisions get made based on what will attract people to that place and I love that. It's great..."
That's just a small snippet of some other really good stuff but it's stuck with me all afternoon and this evening. It's not necessarily a brand new idea by any means. I think we all desperately want what he's speaking about. I just don't think it's practiced very often. There are places doing it and I think microchasms of it in so many different fellowships. I keep wondering why it doesn't happen more often when we all desire it so much. Is it because of the amount of ourselves it requires us to offer? Does fear keep us from being vulnerable enough with one another to make it work? What holds us back? What do you all think?
I guess what stuck out to me was his phrase, "Everything happens in relationships." It's so absolutely true isn't it. I tried to think of a single time that positive change has happened in my world and it hasn't been because of a relationship.
Sounds a lot like a Jesus ministry to me. Think that about summed up His life ... God and people!
Two things for tonight I guess...I remember when I truly took this God thing seriously, you know why it happened...yep because of relationship. My guess is that's how it happened for you too. Because someone took the time to invest in my life, to sit beside me for hours sometimes as I worked things out and shared struggles. You know the moments when I've truly grown...it's happened in relationship with other people chasing hard after God's heart. Perfectly, no, and they'd tell you so but with a group of people who are willing to rise and fall together and help pick each other back up.
It's been a rough year in this community of people that I am knit to...Satan has attacked on so many corners...hurting marriages, addictions, depression, floundering children...and the list probably could go on and on and on. I'm sure your list could as well. We've sat around circles of fellowship often and cried out to God together. Literally. Here's what I've learned. I'd never ever want to do this outside of a community, a fellowship, outside of relationships that grow me and change me, that strengthen me and energize me. I couldn't do what I'm doing now without these precious people. I thank God so much for them.
It also reminded me so emphatically though that I'll never lead someone to the ultimate relationship with Christ without investing in their life. Sometimes we get so formulated you know. We try to bring them in the doors for a church service that we think will impact them for forever. We try all new programs and so many things that for a time prove effective. I'm over and over convinced that people get serious about Jesus when you're serious about Him and you invest in them with a Jesus heart. They see that you're either genuine in your relationship with them or you gave a good sales pitch for something you're not sure you believed in either. You sit beside someone and prove you care about what goes on in their world and you show them a Jesus heart because of your love and people change. That's how we "win" people. It's how this heart got "won." How about you?
Everything, absolutely everything, (at least everything that matters) happens in relationship. I think you're right brother!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
so anyway we got those ft. knox gold valued fingerprints mailed out today which will take 8 days to get to the states because they will be personally hand delivered by armed guards who have decided to travel by plane with them in hand to deliver them to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation in London, Ohio and present them to two other guards who will replace them and bring them back to Honduras.
Ok the last paragraph is made up but the rest is totally for real and i can´t quit laughing about the whole doggone thing. It´s just become hilarious. We´re like what is going to come next. So please pray with all your heart those suckers don´t get lost in the mail. Doing this again would in fact send me to an insane asylum I do believe.
So next on the agenda for the day as soon as the lawyer´s assistant is ready is trying to go get our Honduras drivers license. If it´s anything like the first process I might write a book about these two events alone. It´s providing me great comedy if no one else gets a single laugh. Figure I might as well laugh or I´d be tempted to claw some eyeballs out.
Hope your day is as delightful as mine have been! :) God does have a sense of humor I never again will doubt that He laughs a BUNCH!!!
Just needed to share the day with ya. no one should get the luxury of keeping this to themselves.
Monday, January 16, 2006
We always take the kids to lunch with us too which is reason enough to eat lunch out there as opposed to anywhere else. They teach me about God every time I'm around them. The owner of the restaurant loves it when we come too because she can count on at least 10 pieces of chicken and a dozen papusas and it's a happy day in her world! :)
You've heard me say before that sometimes you forget. I mean these kids and their parents are my buddies now. They're just a part of everyday life. I love them so much. So there are moments when life just seems way normal with them around. Even in a little restaurant where they serve pollo and papusas that looks far different than any restaurant we've ever been in before! Sometimes it sorta seems like we all live in the same place. And if we're talking about geographically we do, but in so many ways we don't.
Something happens and you remember the tremendous gap between your life and theirs. See I sat down to lunch and I ordered a piece of chicken and I ate the entire thing. I ate some papas fritas (french fries) too and I drank all of my Coke. My tummy was full and lunch was good. Then I looked to my left and down toward the end of the table and I saw these sweet little boys taking their napkin and wrapping half of their chicken up in a napkin and sticking it in their shirt pocket. I saw this sweet momma of those boys doing the same with her napkin and asking the waitress for a bag to take it home. Sometimes my heart just gets yanked so hard by ordinary moments when God reaches down and is patient enough to open my eyes yet again.
When you live a life of daily dependence without some stocked away for later, you eat some and you save half because you're not sure where your next meal is coming from. You learn that young and you live that way. So I watched little boys who probably wanted to tear into that chicken and eat another piece eat half and save half while I didn't give a second thought to whether I needed to save a single bite. The bones were bare on my piece of chicken.
You ever spent a day wondering where your next meal might come from? No me either. It's in those moments that I am so aware that we don't live in the same place. I live in a world where I have never feared going without. I live in a world where I take things for granted because at moments they've come far too easily. I live in a world where I get to eat ALL my chicken!
Most importantly, I live in a world where I have blessings too numerous to count that God is offering me the privilege to share. It is a privilege.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Judy and Brett, I told them I was taking this one to send to you. So this is your gift from them. :) Enjoy!
Well God gave us the answer. We put a paint brush in his hand and let him come and help us paint in the children's home and we have a different kid. Seriously. Every day when we show up it's not 5 minutes before he's up there and usually he's waiting at the gate for us to get there. Daisy, his mother, was up the other day and asked him to go eat and have lunch with them and he said no he'd eat later. His mom told our friend Jen outside that he doesn't even want to eat when we're here because he doesn't want to miss a minute of time with us.
So...anyway, I'm posting this picture today as a testament to the power of prayer and a life invested in, because he's not just coming around, he's smiling, and letting us hug him and he's a happy kid who is doing well truly.
Every single time I tell him you said hello Jude he gets this HUGE grin on his face. He knows you all love them and you've made a huge huge huge difference in the life of this family. I hope you feel the weight of that even when you can't be here right now to see it. It's beautiful to watch and I pray often that through these pictures and our stories you might feel the depth of your love, prayers, and support over these precious ones. I'll post a couple more pictures of the rest of the family too.
Keep loving on people where you are. You never know when it might just be the one thing that makes a forever difference! Thanks to those of you who made the forever difference in my world.
Friday, January 06, 2006
We met these two sweet little girls yesterday. Where you ask? (thanks for asking) We met them in this very unique place...on top right in the middle of a HUGE trash dumpster digging for food. They were finding treasures in the middle of Honduran trash. To hungry bellies some things in there I'm sure looked like gold.
We drove past on our way to Santa Ana and Karen said, "did you see those two little girls in the trash dumpster?" I didn't but knew we had to go back. So we turned around and pulled up to them and we had a box of cookies in our car and gave it to them, asked them their name, and talked for a second and then we watched them walk to the back of the trash dumpster and hide so they could eat their cookies without someone taking them from them.
You know what I'll confess that sometimes you "get used to it" here. You are around the poverty and the hunger every single day. You see children who are dirty and naked and barefoot and it sometimes becomes all too familiar. It's sort of like driving to your house day after day after day. When you first paint your house you're aware of the color and it sticks out, but after a few days or weeks maybe a month when you drive into your driveway each day, the color has become familiar and you don't even notice it anymore. Sometimes it's like that here...sometimes these precious people become the surroundings and not the focal point and you fight hard for that not to be the case.
Then there are those moments however when no matter how familiar things have become get stuck in you somewhere. I call them my "clarifying moments." Those moments when in an instant all that matters becomes really clear. Seeing those two little girls sitting on the top of all that trash with their little heads peeking over the top was one of those pull over to the side of the road to catch your heart and your breath, put your head in your hands and weep moments. It certainly made all that mattered get really clear.
Humbled and reminded me of our powerlessness. I would have given anything to snap my fingers and give those little girls food for the rest of their lives so 5 and 8 year old little girls would not have to go searching through trash to find something to fill their tummies. Yet I was reminded that I am so small and my sandwich chips and a drink would only last for today and they were gonna need God to show up again tomorrow. I suppose that's what I learned in the moment. I will offer anything and everything that I have to these people and it still won't be nearly enough. They need a God who is FAR bigger than I am.
All of me will never be enough. Suppose it's good sometimes to be reminded how utterly helpless we are without Him. Help them Father in the ways only You can and show up for Maria and Angelica today Lord in ways beyond anything they could imagine. May your banquet table be filled with special treats for those who never got to feast while walking this planet. We'll wait for a very long time at the end of the line to watch their tummies and their souls get full!
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Please go to this link and read the moments for moms tab. (The Heartlift is also just doggone good.)
Someone in your world needs hugged on today, be the arms willing to wrap them up and the eyes willing to see that they need it.
As always momma Grose you make me proud to know you!
Hadn't seen them for 12 days or so and after working with them all day everyday for a few weeks our hearts got pretty attached and so today when they heard our voices and saw me standing up there, Eduardo came running full speed up the hill and in his trying to be a big guy most of the time self wrapped his arms around me and hugged and held on for a minute or two. It was just sweet. Then Dennis and Cristian followed close behind with their hugs and kisses and I was reminded that when God asks you to give something up even if for a time he always puts something in it's place. While their hugs will never be just the same, they are a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness.
The families are in the Cucuoy houses now and so it will be fun over the next couple of weeks to get to meet our neighbors. Please pray that God will work through us and will use all the different pieces of the puzzle on the property for his glory and honor above all other things.
Am headed to bed for the night, pillowing my head remembering that a children's home is being built and in the grand scheme of things that's my purpose in being here, but along the way there are some very sweet blessings of getting to invest in other people's lives and feel their life and their love touching mine. So grateful tonight for three little boys that I didn't realize I loved as much as I did until I saw their faces today and realized how much I missed them.
Is God cool or what???!!!
Monday, January 02, 2006
Had one of those moments today on the airplane. We were all seated and they had done their familiar speech about exit rows and lights and seatbelts and oxygen masks and how important it is for that tray table and seat to be in their upright position. (Someday I really would love someone to explain to me how that three inches your seat is able to recline is in some way going to help my safety should our plane start to nosedive but anyway…whew that was random.)
Anyway…then came this moment where they drew the curtain between first class and the peon’s who sit in the other ¾ of the plane. They serve them first, they get really souped up meals, you know you’ve seen it. Never really thought about that until today when they drew the curtain and said that all familiar statement about reserving the bathroom in the front of the plane for our first class passengers. Then God and I had a moment and I thought about how grateful I am that there are no first class seats when it comes to gathering around God’s throne. As I walk through my day there isn’t anyone who merits in anyway, financially or otherwise, more of God’s attention than I get the blessing of having. There is no curtain which is able to be drawn between a precious few and the rest of us who feel as though some days we are just “scraping by” to walk this thing out. I don’t spend my good days in first class and my all about me not so good days at the back of the plane so to speak.
God thinks I’m first class. Hard to fathom, difficult to believe, a feeling of unworthiness like I’ve never known when I think about it, but yet somehow somewhere in my knower I know that’s the way He feels about this broken, marred, prideful, selfish…Daughter!!
You know how I know because I look at my life and I watch Him every single day pampering me with the best this time on earth has to offer. Does it always look like a great meal, a cushy pillow and blanket, nope. Matter of fact sometimes it looks like a stern but loving hand disciplining my disobedient heart. Sometimes it looks like a love that goes beyond my human reasoning and allows me to go into an oven to be refined where it is HOT and it grieves His heart to watch and yet He allows it because at the moment it’s the best this life has to offer for me. But then there are those other times when it’s better than any pampering this world has to offer. Like when I drive out the road and the day has been frustrating and I see the sky painted in every shade of pink, orange, and red and something in the moment feels almost like it’s too sacred to be a part of as if God is making His power known all over the sky. Or the moments when someone you love as much as you know how to reminds you how much of a difference you’ve made in their world and for the moment God allows you to be reminded that this life does indeed mean something and yours matters not just to you but others, and you feel a part of the bigger picture. Those moments when a child chooses to love you with their pure simplistic untainted accepting arms and heart. Pampered, those moments are nothing short of pampered.
See I don’t really have much desire to sit in first class on this airplane (I mean really…if we nosedive they hit first have they not thought about this philosophy J) Don’t in any way need first class treatment on this airplane.
First class treatment from a Father who adores you…hmmm don’t deserve that for sure, but I will soak it up with a grateful heart that when it comes to the cross of Calvary we all have first class seats and when it comes to the love of the Father we all get first class treatment. Live grateful!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Will be in Honduras, Lord willing by noon-ish tomorrow and then it's back to the privilege of preparing for this children's home and the children who will soon be in it. Please continue to pray for all that must be accomplished for that to happen and for the rest of the money to come in so that we can operate for the first few months with some money in the account. God is good and we trust and wait for His timing.
Spent some time over the break with a very good friend who challenges me in really terrific ways...she sent an email after I left that had some words that I feel like were written by the Spirit's leading and I share them with you here... "I'd rather walk out my dream, and experience hardship, than to remain comfortable and never experience living the dream. I'd rather scrape by and do what I'm meant to do, and have a passion for doing, than to experience luxury and live a life of feeling like a failure."
I share that to say to all of us...Dream Big and Keep on Keeping On!! Better always to be a part of living out His dream than to sit back and let someone else live it for us! Enter in...His dreams for you are terrific!!