Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One of the things I do almost everyday is log onto this page and go to the right with the links and hit the Beth Moore blog link...I'm a groupie, I am.

I would do every single one of her bible studies, listen to anything she's ever done, read anything she's ever written, sometimes two or three times. I believe with all of my heart that she is annointed and boldly and courageously speaking the word of God in profoundly powerful ways in a day and time when we need someone to stand up and speak it because it's truth whether we like it or not.

I could share so much about what I love and appreciate about her heart for Christ, but today I just wanted to highlight one thing from her that I continue to see her write and hear her say. She primarily ministers to women and in her bible studies, on her blog, etc. she uses this line often.

"I love you and I am so blessed to be your servant."

That hit me this morning. You know so often I am well aware that my "job title" for this moment in life is to be a servant to these little brown souls that I have the opportunity to serve, but as I read that this morning, I couldn't help but think how God has given me the opportunity to be your servants as well.

I know full well that so many of you wish that you could be here among the kiddo's and people you've grown to love. If some circumstances were different, many of you would be.

I just wanted you to know today that I love you and I am so blessed to be your servant.

Please know that I take very seriously and consider it a tremendous privilege to be here. I know it is a gift, and while I am reaching and touching it is for your hands as well and always propelled with more purpose because of your prayers and support.

Just a humbled and honored servant today...who loves them so much...and loves you too!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just a note this morning to touch base and say hello to all of you who are faithful to check this thing no matter how sporadic I am with it at moments...

Have a dental brigade here this week and am working with them to hold hands and tell these sweet little souls that things are ok as we are extracting rotten teeth and putting fillings in others. The doctors who come have touched me deeply already in just a 24 hour time period. Their gentleness and desire to be here is evident and even when they don't speak a word or cross the barrier with words they have found a way to do it in so many other ways already. It is beautiful to watch them use their talents to help some kiddo's who have pain from never using a toothbrush ever.

You should see their eyeballs when the needles and drills come out. They have never even had a tootbrush in there and then this big hands and instruments are flying into their mouth. The doctors do not have an easy job.

Yesterday I sat beside a little girl who was terrified and she would look at the dentist through tear filled eyes and say, "ok I'm ready." Then when the doctor started to open her mouth and put the needle in she would clamp down and shake her head no. Then we'd try again. She was so sweet you couldn't get upset. This is HARD stuff.

I mean seriously who likes the dentist. I have some dentists in my world now that I love, but I do NOT like them so much when instruments are being plunged into my mouth. :):)

It's a great way to spend a week. Loving on some kiddo's who need help in these ways. There are lots of moments I've learned too while they're sitting there in those chairs to talk to them about God as well. Got to hold that little girls hand yesterday and tell her that even now while I'm a big girl, I get so scared sometimes and in those moments I ask God to give me courage and peace. That these are opportunities for my heart to grow bigger because when I conquer my fear this time, my heart gets bigger and doesn't get as scared the next time because I know God was with me and I remember.

Sweet stuff. I love being with these people in case I haven't mentioned that lately!!

Much love and blessings all over your day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

John Wooden

Monday, July 21, 2008

I was listening to a Louie Giglio talk last night that someone had given to me. I had listened to it one other time several months ago but found my heart saying amen to everything he said as silent tears ran down my cheeks.

He talked about the fact the church ought to be one of the most "unsafe" places on the face of the earth. Not talking about being a lunatic or danger for the sake of danger, but that we as the church ought to be going out into the most unsafe places in the world.

He mentioned a quote from a 14 year old girl that had come in the form of a letter and it said. "Hi Louie, my name is Jessica (can't remember what her name was for sure but you get the point) and my friends and I have a band. We go into hell and we pull people out!"

We go into hell and we pull people out...what a tremendous description of our calling. Don't know if you've looked around lately but there are some places that are hell on earth. Chances are you won't have to look far to find one.

Wonder how long it's been since someone looked into your eyeballs and said...yep you march yourself right on in there to hell and you help pull them out. It'll be messy and there will be pain and at times you might fail...but it's still worth your effort.

Wonder if instead of sending our children to church and expecting them to come away with a safe faith that behaves well and to christian schools to attempt to keep them from becoming tainted by the world and to social circles where the "good" kids hang out...wonder if instead we begged God to grow them into crazy God give them permission to get a little messy and try some things big enough that without God in them they will surely fail, I just wonder what that might do to a world full of hell on earth if we taught our children that our calling was to march into hell and help pull people out.

And don't even get me started on a church that might choose to start empowering people to be about that mission.

That's God's kingdom come to earth. May your kingdom reign Lord, start here please and please start now.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Changes...

There are so many things to say in this one letter that I am clueless as to how to many sentiments that need to be expressed adequately that will surely end up lacking. Always a daunting task, knowing you owe so much and have so little to offer. All the more reason to love a God who takes the little you offer and turns it into something I'll just ask Him to do that here and trust that His sufficiency will hover over these words.

Karen and I came as a team to the children's home in the fall of 2005. We started the journey in the spring and summer with funds and plans being made and so every year at that time we take a look at where we are and our desire to continue our work here. It was the commitment that we made when we began that we would commit a year at a time and would always have the option to do something else if that's what we felt God was leading us to do. In October of this year, we will have been here in the country for 3 years.

Allow me to say that it has been 3 of the very best years of my life. 3 of the most difficult, 3 of the most heart wearying, 3 of the most grueling emotionally, but 3 of the most growing changing fulfilling passionate years of my whole life. I have learned to love from a place deeper than I knew existed. I've prayed through sobs of desperation now unlike anything I had experienced before. I've cuddled up so tight with some little souls, that I'm not sure where my heartbeat ends and theirs begins, our hearts have just kinda become one in so many ways. I've combed lice, cleaned vomit, wiped up poo poo from the floor, all things that I could never have done before, my stomach is weaker than weak. I've also learned the "I love you more" game, the mountain of kisses game, the herbie - every color in the world game. Above all else, I have been taught through grace and patience how to be a mommy. These kiddo's will always hold the most precious of spaces within my heart because among them God grew a momma heart that will hold them so tightly for the rest of my days.

For the past several months though the staff here and the IRC board have known that I will be transitioning from my full time role here at Casa. That certainly doesn't mean that I will be walking away from their lives. I will come to visit and do anything I can to help if and when it is needed. I just feel called to a different form of ministry in the country at this point in the journey.

Every year when we bring teams down we spend our week visiting the hospital and the state run orphange that you've read about before on here and the mountain villages where people are sick and hungry. We spend time among the people and it is one of my very favorite things to do. I feel called out there among them. So, I want to schedule my days, weeks, and months to include more of that. I have an opportunity to go and spend a few hours a week with the teenage girls at Casitas Kennedy (the state run orphanage) who never get to leave there because the children's homes don't want to take them because they are too old and have too much baggage. So I will be starting a program next month to go in and invest in their lives for a few hours a week to remind them that they can "beat the system" and that they are worth it. I am way excited about that.

I will be spending a day a week visiting the hospital and especially helping with the babies with hydrocephaly. Attempting to start a program for the mothers who have just miscarried where they recieve a "prayer shawl" reminding them that we will be praying in their time of tremendous loss while they recuperate in a large hospital room where their beds rest right beside mothers who have delivered perfectly healthy babies who are crying and cooing right next to them.

I will spend days of my week on the mountains finding families who need help and attempting to find ways to meet that need more consistently than a few weeks out of the year. Adopt a family programs possibly or food drive through sacrifice, etc.

Have plans to work with the street kiddo's who haven't been taken in and cleaned up yet and who may never be who need the love of Christ as much as any of them. We're looking at ways to safely feed them a couple times a week and share some time with them and build relationships.

I want to spend some time in some of the private high schools setting up service learning programs. Some of the rich kids here in the country have no idea the "other side" exists and so merging the two is incredibly important for everyone. There is so much potential as we all know when we ignite passion within young people.

New things are happening, plans are being formed, God is giving my heart passion for things to come and I am excited for all that is yet to be.

Three of the biggest FOR ABSOLUTE SURE things that I'll be involved in are...

1) providing a "haven" for 3 guys who have grown so near and dear to my heart. They are like my little brothers and they have sooo much potential to be men of God with some help and guidance. They live near the Casa property now and ever since we have come to this country God has put them in our lives and I have heard Him whisper over and over again, "help them." So they'll be coming to live in a house that I rent in the city that will become my "ministry house." It will never be mine, it's all God's anyway, and He will show me what to use it for and when. I will begin by putting in 3 bunks for these guys and allowing them to call this place home. I will also open it up to folks who are wanting to come and minister here on a longer term basis so that they can have a home to serve out of.

2) and I am supremely excited about this...for the past year and a half or so you've read some things and certainly heard me talk about my little Larios family. I love them so much. They have gone above and beyond to serve me and people that God brings into my life that need help and I have watched from a distance at moments the way they live their lives. I am humbled beyond my ability to say so. Mami and Papi Larios started an organization twenty some years ago called Cadena de Amor (Chain of Love) to help children get back and forth to the States for medical treatment that they couldn't receive here. Essentially without help they would not make it. So Cadena arranges for their visas, finds a hospital that will donate their care, secures an escort for the child and sometimes their family, arranges their transportation and gets them to the States and back for treatment. In the past 20 years or so they have helped more than 8,000 children. They get no fanfare, there is no hype, they just set their hearts and minds to serve and help and it is beautiful. For so long they have done so much of the work without much adequate help. They both have private clinics, Mami is a dentist and Papi an orthopedic surgeon, but they both donate the first hours of their days to this volunteer effort. They wake at 6 to pray together, spend until about 12 doing volunteer work, then go to their clinics everyday from 1 until 8 or 9 at night. Lives lived well and I am grateful and honored to be invited to be a part of what they are doing to serve people. So I will be joining the "Chain of Love" team to help in whatever ways God allows me to do so.

3) And equally as exciting, a new ministry will begin working in Honduras, which also includes some dear people to my heart. My friend Steve Jeffers and some other folks have felt called to come and invest in life in Honduras and help the suffering as well. They have asked me to be their on the ground coordinator for what they will begin here and we are dreaming together of what that will look like. Steve's ministry is called International Agape Missions and he has done mission work in various countries, including Indonesia and others, and is a member of the disaster relief team that is called upon when disasters happen all over the world. He is a man of faith and he chases after God's heart and I am overjoyed to be able to work with he and his team.

Transition is always bittersweet. Excitement for the future and sorrow at leaving these sweet kiddo's to pursue it. Trust me when I say that if I didn't know this was of God I would never have been able to leave them and walk away. It still is one of the most difficult things I've ever done and I know it is from Him. It's difficult to leave something you've poured so much of your heart and soul into.

I would certainly appreciate your prayers for the next couple of months as we all transition. Please pray that for all the ways that Satan would like to wreak havoc that he will be stunted in every attempt. Pray that God will use us all in the ways He most wants to use us and that we will listen to His voice alone and follow His example.

Above all else please pray for the kiddo's here at Casa. Pray that they will be protected by His almighty hands and cradled in His arms of love as things change for them.

He is faithful.

Thank each of you so much for the ways you have encouraged and supported both me and this project. I pray you will continue to support this project and this girl as things look a bit different but this hearts goal continues to remain the same.

Called into his kingdom and compelled by love to live there. My hearts desire is still and prayerfully will always be to love others into His arms in any way He gives me to do so.

Blessings on all of you. Continue to seek His face. Much love.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's late here and it's quiet and for the first time in a while I have a cup of hot tea in my hand, a candle lit, some soft praise and worship music playing and God and I are alone in the stillness and that feels good. I've decided tonight to be still. Truth is, that I've allowed myself to get buried again. Goodness it makes me so mad at me when that happens, but I find myself here far more often than I'd like to admit. Buried and at total unrest. Perhaps you're familiar with that place that feels like the world is swirling and you cannot stop your head for long enough to just be still and even when your body is your mind isn't.

I got an email from one of my "adopted by heart" brothers today with some of the kindest encouragment I've received in a while. Didn't have much to do with me, and everything to do with seeking the kingdom and I needed reminded that was my job on this earth. He passed along this quote to me in reference to some of the "fighst" I'm feeling in regards to some things my heart is witnessing right now and it spoke. It just perhaps is it's own post tonight without any explanation needed from me.

It was written by a Danish pastor, Taj Munk, who at the end of WWII found himself one of the only outwardly vocal opponents of the Nazi regime. He saw what they were doing and all the horrors they perpetrated and got angry. This is what he wrote...

"What is, therefore, our task today? Faith, hope, and love? That sounds beautiful. But I would say, courage. No, even that isn't challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature - we lack a holy rage - the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity. The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth...a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world. To rage against the ravaging of God's earth, and the destruction of God's world. To rage when little children must die of hunger when the tables of the rich are sagging with food. To rage against the senseless killing of so many, and against the madness of militaries. To rage at the lie that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction "peace". To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God. And remember the signs of the Christian church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish...but never the chameleon."

Make us reckless Lord, in all the right ways, please call us out of our complacency and excessive abundance and please Lord help us live for more than ourselves. Please start here...right here in this heart, and then use this heart to speak and live with boldness and courage to affect change for those whose voice may never get heard but whose cry pierces your ears tonight and breaks your heart. For the times we've ignored their cry and sat in our selfishness forgive us. Help us God never to want to blend in but to stand up and live called out. Create within us a holy anger that compels us to a reckless life sold out to your kingdom. Please start here and please start now. Amen.

Monday, July 07, 2008

When God sees someone abusing his wife, betraying her husband, corrupting a child, or otherwise perpetrating injustice, it makes him mad. Anger is the healthy response of a holy and moral God to the unholy and immoral deeds we perpetrate against one another.

Some theories of social justice and the spiritual life are modeled more on Aristotle's god - the "Unmoved Mover" - than the God we know in Jesus. When thousands are starving because of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, homeless because of recent flooding, or being aborted and abused, anyone who can be "unmoved" is worshiping Aristotle's impersonal god who is without feeling.

Anyone who knows the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth has to feel something of God's outrage at the sight of innocent children suffering. He feels seething anger over the sordid things human beings do to one another. He should be enraged. Cry out for justice to be established.

"Give me 100 people who love God and hate sin," said John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church, "and we will turn the world upside down for Christ!" Dr. Jack Arnold quoted that line from Wesley in the final sermon he preached in January 2005 - collapsing and dying in his pulpit as he moved to its conclusion - and said, "I think I could find 100 men and women who love Christ in America, but I am not sure I could find 100 men and women in America that hate sin." I have been haunted by that line since reading it. I fear he is correct.

I fear we are so sophisticated and unmoved by evil that it doesn't make us angry. We'd rather do lists and observe rituals. We prefer to fight our church battles over whose doctrine is sounder than to follow Jesus into unpleasant places for the sake of caring about prisoners, prostitutes, and pushers.

Is there a parent reading this who would not be enraged at the person who seduced his daughter or hooked her son on cocaine? Is there anyone so cold and indifferent to the welfare of your own flesh and blood that you would be "unmoved" that your child has thrown away innocence? Made memories that will haunt and terrify for the rest of life? If you could receive such news with the calm of a statue, it is only because you have a heart of stone!

God has a tender heart that is passionate for his sons and daughters. If anyone has caused you to think that anger or getting mad is a wrong-headed thing for Christians, rethink that notion.

And get mad about something.

-- Rubel Shelly --

I was sent this article this morning after sending out a few emails just crying out with frustration to those who are near my heart. I am so trying to sort out what you do with the anger at watching so much of this.

I felt myself starting to get really angry a couple weeks ago when one of our interns Kalie was in the hospital downtown to have her appendix removed. I would be going back and forth from the hospital and every night I would see a young gal standing out there prostituting doubt for food to feed her family. I felt so mad. Mad for her not mad at her.

Then I watched 5 little boys, that I love like my own, climb up into my car and scour it for any sort of food we may have in there, after we'd already given them bags of food. They were so hungry.

I was so angry as I stood and watched. Angry at me. Angry at all of us. Angry at a society that convinces us the "right" thing to do is grow our 401K and save so that when we die we can have A LOT of money to give to our children, so that they can save and put away into their 401K and make sure they save enough to give to their children.

While just a 6 hour plane ride away mother's are watching their children die, with absolutely nothing to give to them in that moment. Does anyone see a vicious cycle that is wrong here??

I'm afraid that sometimes it's not just the perpetrator doing nasty bad things that perpetuates injustice. I'm afraid that we perpetuate it too.

Mom and dad, please know that I am as serious as I have ever been in my life right now. I don't want your money when your time on this earth is over. I will have been grateful for everything you have given me on this earth, but I will not need your pocketbook to treasure every one of those memories. Please spend my share now. You give it to somebody who today has nothing and has no hope of ever getting to save a penny, because they live day to day attempting to survive. You trust God to take care of me when you're gone, because He will. He always does. You hear me shout a loud thank you for loving me and for teaching me that God is in control of this life. I know that sometimes Him being in control has required some serious sacrifice from you. I know He'll have rewards waiting in Heaven for that. I'm sorry that anyone has ever attempted to make you think that to be good parents you owed us that. You do NOT owe me that. I would far rather know that while you were here you attempted to give of yourself and you left with nothing to pass on then that you saved to pass something on for my sake. So excuse yourself from that burden and live giving to those things that you're angry enough about to do something. That will make me prouder than any paycheck at the end of your days. Shame on us. Shame on all of us.

Maybe if we just start somewhere. Maybe getting angry enough to see it is a start.