Dec 5, 2016

Rats, ticks & other fun stuff

If you've been following along, you already know about  ALL THE RAIN and the flooding in the D.R. While we have had a little bit of sun here and there in the last week, EVERYTHING remains saturated. We've already talked about the mold. Mold is old news. (Not really, but a girl can dream!)

Like a dog on the street, the water has no where to go. And with that comes some *extra special features* of living on an island. Besides the the mold, there are *other* things that are thriving, multiplying and seeking higher ground with the *added bonus* of major breeding grounds for mosquitoes (NO!!!!!!!) And may I just add, unlike the Texas Gulf Coast where I grew up, where the mosquiteos are all plump and swarmy like, the mosquitoes here are dainty and few, but very, very viscious because they cause things like tropical diseases (read "and other fun stuff!" here): dengue fever, chikengunya, zika.  Who knows what new funny named mosquito causing problem will pop up next.

I don't want to alarm you - as if the mold post wasn't enough already, but if you are reading this you are still hanging in there with us: thank you! So our *newest special features* include thousands of ticks of all varieties climbing on our walls. We can't spray our yard because it is too wet. We've treated our pets but they are still covered, etc. The walls look like they are moving because, well, they are! Ticks are climbing towards the sky like our walls are an escalator to heaven. When I walk around the porch, I leave a bloody trail because I've popped ticks like I'm walking on bubble wrap. True. Story.

And then there are the SUPER rats . . . . that seem to have found a comfy and dry home under my kitchen cabinets. GROSS - on SO. Many. Levels. I am deeming them SUPER because they seem to be resilient to poison - what? I'm about to unload every peppermint essential oil vile I have onto cotton balls to see if what they say is true . . . that rats are offended by the strong smell of peppermint! Peppermint essential oil has saved me from critters on other occassions - so I am hopeful.

I am not sharing any of this with you as a complaint as I am truly grateful to be where we are and sharing the grace and love of Jesus with others. We live a life of daily adventure in the D.R. and I like it that way. Every one of you out there has *special features* and *other fun stuff* that you are dealing with too. It is my hope and prayer that whatever you are dealing with in your life - that you will struggle well. The struggle is real, but how well we wrestle through it is up to us, and often times the wrestling means surrendering it, laying it down at the foot of the cross. The Lord dispenses fresh mercy with the dawning of each new day so we are equipped to not just manage, but thrive . . . kind of like those SUPER RATS. Ha.

Dec 4, 2016

Gracious Tempest: When a song reaches in and massages your heart

I love it when a song touches your heart in a way that you feel like it was meant for you in that moment . . . when words are bent so beautifully and poignantly that they reach in and massage your heart. I ran across this song the other day and it TOTALLY BLESSED ME, especially in a season of literal flooding and complete saturation! Yep, still raining in the D.R., though we've had at least a little bit of sunshine peak through, but I digress. This song took me right back to the place where I want to be: spiritually submerged in the grace of my loving Father!  Have you heard this song?

"Gracious Tempest"
by Hillsong Young and Free

Your love towers over me
Gracious tempest in the sea
Surround me like a storm

Let your tide of mercy rain
Let it flood my heart again
Surround me like an ocean

Your love is crashing over me
It's surging like a raging sea
Immerse me in the wonder of Your love

A downpour of unending grace
Consuming all my reckless ways,
My sins submerged
Your love has saved my soul
Your love is like a storm

Your love is crashing over me
It's surging like a raging sea
Immerse me in the wonder of Your love

A downpour of unending grace
Consuming all my reckless ways,
My sins submerged
Your love has saved my soul
Your love is like a storm
Your love is like a storm
Your love is like a storm
Your love is like a storm

Do you have a song like this that is speaking to your heart these days?

Dec 1, 2016

A moldy situation

When you don't blink twice about baking the ants in your cake mix and then serving said cake to your friends,

When things like, "Oh look, a _________ (rat, tarantula, mouse, etc. - pick one or insert your own normally horrifying creature)," roll off your tongue just as normally as "Today is Tuesday,"

When you put your mostly wet clothes away with 95% humidity in the air and it doesn't bother you (because if it did you would have unraveled a long time ago!),

When your clothes, purses, shoes, ceilings, walls, furniture are covered in (*gasp*) mold and you know that there is no use in bothering with containment,

When you've suspended reality of your former-pre-cross-cultural life and traded it in for an alternate, current, very different reality, you know you are living the dream of missions.  Being a missionary can be a very moldy situation. Bare with me.

Mold is bad, right? (And we aren't talking about cheeses here!) Yes, but in a wet, tropical climate it is a reality that we contend with on a daily basis. We stare mold in the face and say, "Oh look, mold is growing on my shoes," while wiping it off and then putting the shoes on and walking forth in the name of Jesus to do His work.  It's not that we don't recognize that mold is bad, unhealthy and nasty. It's just that we have to learn to not let it keep us from thriving.

It's a moldy situation in the sense that it is necessary to come to grips with living with, struggling through, thriving amidst something what was (or currently is if you are reading this from North America) a negative buzz word and minimizing it down to an everyday reality that is normal, and then figuring out how to move beyond it.  Not everything can or should be minimized or made normal, but some things have to be.  Otherwise, we would all be rendered useless.

 I'll admit that I want a FIX when there is, say, a plague of tarantulas surrounding and invading my house/life, but that isn't always possible, likely, doable. And, sometimes the Lord is calling me to lean on Him to thrive amidst it all and not just survive, fetal positioned up in the corner. I am fairly certain that the lack of ability to "fix" things is sometimes a God send, pushing us deeper into relationship, reliance and trust in Him.

In an instant world where there is almost always "a guy for that," (that's the expression we use here when we need to find a way around a problem for which there is not an obvious direct route), especially in North America where there is access to a fix for almost every problem, we've grown accustomed to making our own way. We are mostly self-sufficient, self-reliant problem solvers - until we can't be (insert minion emoji banging head against wall here.)

There are some problems that can't be eliminated (apart from God), that don't have a "fix bugs now" button, that are way bigger than us, that are constant battles (i.e. mold), that require God to handle. Sometimes, we have to look mold in the face and admit, "I can't do anything about you, stinking mold. You are here and so am I. Lord help me!" and then move forward with the grace of God to the best of our abilities. God can handle any moldy situation in life, and He can equip us to deal with it, move beyond it, etc. He is awesome like that :)

You may not be a missionary or relate to what I've said about serving your friends ant-infused cake, but there is most certainly some "mold," in your life, a problem that you can't "fix" that maybe God is calling you to hand over to Him. Whatever your mold, God is able.

Nov 29, 2016

When Comfort Dies

Have you ever reached for something to hold onto or to hold you in place  . . . .
As if you so desperately needed that something to keep you from floating away, to tether you to this life? Ya, me too.

While I know that as a believer in Jesus Christ, there is only ONE true comfort and COMFORTER, I will confess right here and now that in the dark, desolate and desperate times,  at times I have been guilty of reaching for alternate comfort, instant and vapor like feel goods to soothe my wounded soul. I don't recommend it, but I do recognize it. Ultimately, any pseudo-comfort that we hold onto - even if it is real and good in the moment, yet not from the one true source of comfort - will fall through our fingertips like a swinging trapeze bar that we were never meant to grasp for longer than a second - a person, a pet, a purchase, a purpose.

Shortly after our 20th anniversary in August, he took me to the park where a man was selling furry four-legged comfort and we came home with a 3 month old Yorkie puppy which we named Ray (Star Wars: The Force Awakens - that Ray, girl power! :) In a season of excruciating difficulties that left us wiped, worn and exhausted, I had made a passing comment about wanting a lap dog to just sit with me, be by my side and offer unconditional love as pets are so prone to do. For I was desperate for tangible comfort. While we have 2 ginormous "lap dog" mastiffs already, the thought of having something small hold me down in my still moments of the day had become increasingly appealing.  He suprised me by taking me to the park that day, and we walked off with a month and a half's worth of cuteness and love. Unfortunately, Ray was not very healthy. On her good days she was a hopping delight of comfort. Her presence helped quiet my soul and met me in a vulnerable place.

In early October, after a long night of suffering and my prayers moving from "Please don't take my comfort," to "I surrender her to you - please take her quickly," she died. Her death came on the heals of some very major events and changes in our life. In my agony, I cried to the Lord, "WHY, GOD, would you allow this tiny source of comfort to leave me in this moment - a moment of being so stripped down, vulnerable and low?" I was devastated beyond devastation.

Her death  ushered in a  flood of intense emotion,  becoming an outlet for an outpouring of gutteral utterances for all things that had transpired recently - stifled tears flowed forcefully with wild abandon. Where there had been a semblace of control over the flood gates, there was now none, an involuntary reaction to unforeseeable circumstances on every side. My insides jumped into the boat of emotion like Ray into my lap. A cloud of disbelief hovered over my life: So. Much. Going. On. My little slice of purchased comfort took its last breath as she did hers.

I had no choice and at the same time, the only choice, but to turn back to the only ONE that could satisfy the aching slivers of my broken heartedness. Even my brokenness was broken and I knew it. I clung to Ray but what I needed to reach for was Jesus. Because I have access to the GIVER of all GRACE, I am free to share my fleshy shortcomings without fear of condemnation, and He is always with us waiting for us to turn to Him. If you are reading this and you've ever clung to something other than Jesus for comfort, you either already know or will one day know that whatever that thing is, it will at some point fade away, leave, die, get used up, etc. The time is now to secure your comfort in the only source of it that won't die, Jesus.

In this season of anticipation for the coming of Christ, I submit to you truths about the coming of comfort - the kind that can't be snatched away.

Psalm 119:50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."

Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."

Isaiah 49:13 "Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."

Jeremiah 8:18 "You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me."

Jeremiah 13:13 "Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."

Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

2 Cor 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,"

Phillipians 2:1 "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose."

God can certainly use the things of this world to be a source of comfort to us, but the only way to secure absolute comfort for all of eternity is to KNOW THE SOURCE of it and to ultimately turn to Him to provide it.  All you have to do is confess that you are a flawed vessel, that you need Him in your life to make things right, and He will show up. In fact, He's right there.

Nov 25, 2016

The power of "NOT"

The drip, drip, drip, drip, drip of a relentless stream of water from the sky has worn a blister in the pit of my stomach, like the rub of a not-quite-right shoe in the same place. Isn't it funny how something so small can make such a big commotion? Especially with persistence, a tiny bead of water falling in repeated succession will eventually create such an overflow that big things can be shifted,  altered, expanded beyond the normal boundaries.

It has been raining constantly in the D.R. now longer than Noah was on the ark. Rivers have risen and expanded larger than the marshmallows on top of the sweet potato casserole. Bridges are busted up, roads are more reminiscent of the surface of the moon, dams are spilling over. Drip, drip, drip.  Everything is saturated, rats and tarantulas and other creatures are seeking higher ground like the rest of us, mold grows on the walls, the dishes, the clothes. I am NOT complaining. These are just realities that come from living in  humid, constantly moist and overly saturated conditions. We are beyond overflowing up in here with more rain on the way.

But the overflowing is not limited to the catastrophic type of flooding this country is dealing with right now. In my heart, there is an overflowing of gratitude for the promises of God, for this special place that He has allowed us to live in, learn from and walk alongside others in, for the ways my eyes have been opened to how He works in uncomfortable ruts and grooves created by that same rubbing that sometimes makes me feel a little sick but also a lot grateful! My heart is full because of the way the Lord has revealed more of His character through the amazing people in this country. I'm not talking about perfection, but authenticity.  Like anywhere that humans are living, there is as much wrong as there is right, yet I see God in greater depth because of what I have experienced in this place. And eventually, He will make all things right. Thank you, God.

As I sit at my computer with the birds shaking out their soggy wings, the roosters calling out and a tiny bit of sun peaking through the clouds, yet knowing more rain is coming (unless God seals up the sky - which He can do should He choose!), I am reminded of the power of the "not."

"But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you." Isaiah 43:1 - 2

I am His. He has paid my debt and washed me white as snow. I will pass through the waters - not if but when. I will walk through the fire - not if but when. However, because of the power of "not" I will neither be drowned nor scorched! I am thankful that He is with us in every situation.

Nov 21, 2016

Deep calls to Deep

There are seasons of life that can feel like they will take you under, wave upon crashing wave without pause to gulp for air. Soul pummelled and tumbled like clothes being swished clean in the washer, the agitation shakes you loose and you wonder, "Will I make it out of this?" Perhaps your heart is shook loose that it beats wildly yet unattached to you, all out of sync like but loudly like a wake up call. In the sleepy background, you hear its piercing announcement to "RISE UP!" yet the ringing fades away as you drift out of reach. Woundedness becomes your wardrobe, yet in the bottom of your little toe you know you are not called to wear it - not for long, not for always. Oh but that woundedness be not worn, but also be not wasted, giving new eyes to see the beauty in the broken places, to see more clearly what was always there but obscured by something comfortable. The crushing and the heavy swishing in your soul have thrust you down deep below the surface, which  feels like both a retreat and a death sentence. Deep calls to deep.

In this time slot of life, there have been unending waves of grief, coming in one after the other after the other with little time to regroup. At times, the water was flat and then it wasn't - BOOM a crashing sucker punch of a wave. In other moments with eyes just above water searching the the horizon, waves for miles, we can see them coming.  Whether relentlessly predicatable or out of no where, each crash thrusts us deeper, and while the twirling under water feels impossible, maybe that is the point. Deep calls to deep.

For months I have sat silently. Sometimes because there were no words. Sometimes because I needed to listen. There is both the reaction and the being intentional when it comes to handling those waves and the unpacking process is not without great difficulty or great hope.  Deep calls to deep.

What is this deep calling to deep? Do you hear it too?

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:5-8

I hear you Lord and the waterfalls of your grace, mercy and love. Yes, you have wrapped me up in the waves and breakers, rolling over me with divine promises born out of your absolute GOODNESS. The going under is a deep submergence into your peace, and not only do I surrender, but I dive in! You are with me and You are calling. Yes, deep calls to deep.

Jul 11, 2016

Christ Be With Me

Christ be with me, 

Christ within me,

Photo by Emily Craft:)

Christ behind me,

Christ before me,

Christ beside me,

Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort 
and restore me.

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ in quiet,

Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of
all that love me,

Christ in mouth of 
friend and stranger.

~From St. Patrick's Breastplate


A sweet friend sent me these words today on the heals of an attempted robbery at our house last night. May His praise ever be on my lips, and may I hold fast to the truth that He is always with me. Thank you for the many prayers that have been said on our behalf over the last 24 hours - we have felt them.

Jun 25, 2016

Recent glimpses part II

A continuation of some of my favorite moments in the last few weeks . . .

My niece and her pal, both sweet and quiet, enjoying each other!

The heart of worship at the Mak house.


Spontaneous hugs for my friend, Stephanie, from these sweeties!

Joyful spinning!


Jun 24, 2016

Recent glimpses . . .

These are some of my recent favorite moments.

My new friend Kerri could be an Anthropologie model. She is getting her hair done at Salon de Chichigua!

Most photogenic baby girl ever! One of the things that I love here is how neighbors take care of each other as their own - always.

This chicken knows where to go to hide from Annabelle, the chicken chaser.

The glance. Love it.

People I love with people I love. My nephew.

Hugs are passed out freely here, but this one is special. She has been on a trip here for 3 years in a row and kids know and remember her. 

Tug of war of love. Sisters fighting over someone who loves them and seeks them out on a daily basis!

First graders at VBS cheering on their classmates in a three legged race.

More glimpses to follow :) What would you like to see more of?

Jun 23, 2016

Cien por Ciento (100%): The van saga

On April 14, 2016, one day into our 6 week medical stay in the U.S., we received word from the D.R. that the head gasket on our van motor was fried, done, toast. We sent $ to some of our D.R. friends via paypal to ensure that the work to replace the motor could begin - in hopes that it could be completed by our return on June 1. We checked in every couple of days to make sure that progress was being made so that when we returned we would not be without a vehicle - 6 weeks is a fair amount of time for a major repair, right?. Well, it was NOT ready, and as of today, June 23, it is STILL not ready.

Our second vehicle is a beater of an old jeep that on various occassions has had the drive train fall out. Well isn't that cute? It does get good gas mileage because it runs on propane.   However, for a family of 6, it doesn't function well as our only running vehicle since it only seats 4 (but hey, we live in the D.R. where 6 people can ride on a moto (motorcycle or moped) - so from time to time we do what we have to.)

So, everyday since June 1, 2016, the day we arrived back in the D.R., the mechanic who is working on the van has told us, "Cien por ciento, manaña, esta lista!" Translation: "100%, it will be ready tomorrow!" Jon has been up there multiple times a day checking in on the "progress" which has obviously been slower than    s                l                        o                          w. The process to repair it has been RIDICULOUS (and YES,  I AM YELLING!)   Orphan Annie was right, "Tomorrow is only a day away," but how many tomorrows is it going to take to get our van back????? Well, my friends, we will wait and see.

Here's the deal: we are fortunate enough to have not one car, but two - which is totally a luxury here. Many of our co-laborers on the field don't have cars but use public transportation only.  I don't want to grumble or complain, but have an attitude of gratitude - even when I am super frustrated - because I don't want to offend the Lord or those around me by diminishing these gifts!

One thing I've realized is that I grew up in and many of you are reading this from a place where customer service is somewhat of a right, and that business culture generally embraces the philosophy that the "Customer is always right." If, as a customer, things are less than satisfactory, there is always a course of action to take to bring some resolution to your dissatisfaction - talk to a supervisor/manager, get your money back, a new product, the opportunity to give a bad review, write a letter, affect change, etc. It doesn't work that way here, which has been a painful and eye-opening process to be a part of.

After all, you don't want to burn a bridge with the person who has your van in pieces because you need them, even though their 100% is actually more like 00%. In the U.S., we would just take our business somewhere else, but you can't always do that here. I wonder if there is a lesson in here somewhere? What do you think? If you were in a bad situation (not life threatening) as a consumer and had to stay in it, what would that mean? How would things be different?  What would resolution look like? You can't always get up and go somewhere else here when things don't work out as you expect, though you may want to - but I wonder if maybe there is a nugget to be harvested in this situation? Just curious about your thoughts. Are you guys out there?

P.S. In the near future, "Si Dios quiere/If God wants," we will likely be investigating and launching a campaign to replace our current vehicles with more reliable ones so that we can spend less time worrying about cars and more time doing what the Lord has called us here to do.

Jun 22, 2016

When Sewage Pops Up in the Street . . . in Front of Your House

A couple of times a year, on our nicely paved street, up out of the circular cement cover in the road seeps liquid sewage. Because of the slope of our street, the liquid stink rushes to reach the curb along our sidewalk and drains towards our house, creating a small mote of stinkiness around the front of it. Nothing says, "Come in. Stay a while. Welcome to our home," quite like this. It is lovely, the smell, and difficult to disguise. Because our doors are literally always open when we are home (air flow purposes), we can taste the aroma while we eat dinner in our house or on our back porch. It is a special feature of our current location, but also a great reminder.

Life stinks sometimes. Bad things happen. People get sick. Things don't work. There are misunderstandings. Systems are broken. People are broken. I am broken. There are painful question marks in places where we desire answers - even hard answers in place of the unknowing would be nice.  A million heavenly scented candles can't cover up the stink (believe me, I have literally tried to mask the stink of the sewage in front of our house.) I have also tried to distract myself from the stink of brokenness with healthy distractions and unhealthy ones - sometimes they both work, temporarily, but what happens when the stink remains and the distractions fade?

How do I leave the aroma of Christ when stink is all around me - or even when the stink is me? How do I live a life pleasing to Him, blessing others and gloryifying my Maker and the giver of life, when the stink is so overwhelming? 

Like the taste of stink in my mouth, the struggle is palplable. I taste it on my lips every day, and especially during a season of breakdowns of various kinds (our van has been at the mechanic's for 9 weeks now - but that is just the tip of the iceberg.) The struggle is real. The battle is on. So, I am writing this to myself, really, because I need to work through in a very real way what it looks like to thrive in Christ regardless of the circumstances around me. In short, I want to leave the aroma of Christ, not sewage, regardless of my personal situation.

Here is what I am focusing on:

Worship God.

Job is obviously the perfect example of someone responding to personal tragedy in praise and worship to the Lord. This is what he does in response to hearing that all of his livestock, servants and sons and daughters had perished:

 "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; my the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1: 20

(Our circumstances might not be as devasting as Job's but our posture needs to be as devout towards the Lord as His.)

Remind myself who He is and who I am.

He is the KING. I am His adopted daughter.
He is the potter. I am the clay.
I deserve nothing. He gave me everything in Christ Jesus.

"20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, " Romans 9:19 - 23
Trust and obey. 

I need to give up my need to fully understand that which I can not begin to comprehend (God's ways and thoughts), and I also have to give up my desire to be understood by others (because Pastor Wileman says so). Sometimes it is a major stumbling block for me - that whole deeply desiring to be understood by others - so I'm just going to lay that at His feet where that belongs. If anyone understands what it is like to not be understood fully by others, its Jesus, right? My stuff is nothing compared to His.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

I obey because I love Him.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15: 22

Claim His promises.

God's word is full of promises, and here are some of my favorites for difficult times:

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Who doesn't want to rest, truly rest, in the securest place of all?

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Yes, that being still part is a bit of a doozy :)

These are some of the tools I am using to fight the stink away. This is not a cover up job (like spraying lysol over vomit) but an actual fool-proof plan for being able to thrive in Christ in the midst of brokenness. I'm the fool and He's the King :)

P.S.  Here is a link to a great article about finding peace in the midst of a bad situation that goes into a great deal of detail and lists key bible verses.  

Jun 20, 2016

Look for a Hand

Squatting at her laundry tub beside her house with her skirt tucked between her legs, her eyes danced with joy and sorrow. She greeted me with a hug and as our cheeks touched, she grabbed my hand and pulled me into her home with a sense of urgency. 

Her parents are sick. She is an only child. She needs to leave for Haiti in the morning to take care of them and she doesn’t know when she is coming back. But THIS is her home and she has been here in this community for 40 years, she says.  We pray together with her lips quivering and me fumbling with my spanish and her filling in words for me when the silence grows too long.  I grapple with all of the emotion that has filled her home as we stand there hand in hand.  I am humbled by this sweet sharing of a burden by my sister in Christ, M, and her grabbing me by the hand with such urgency and intention was a gift to me. 

Moments earlier, and for weeks, actually, I have struggled with the despair that some issues in my own life have presented.  Quite honestly, I have felt like I am drowning in discomfort, discouragement and despair and the magnifying glass of the mission field in the blazing Carribean sun has intensifying properties.  Discouragement, dischord, disunity are all  powerful tools of the enemy, and while I have done my best to armor up in His word, with His truths as my offensive weapon, I confess that many days I have been rendered useless. I have let circumstances steal my joy.  I have allowed difficulties to dictate my worth. I have believed lies.  

But God . . . 

He was in that moment where sweat and tears mingled in the sweltering heat under her tin roof where everything she owned was visible to me - not her pots and pans, laundry tubs, clothes or bed, but the richness of God’s spirit indwelt in her, the bittersweet sacrifice of the trek she was making on behalf of those she loved, and her desire to pull someone into her pain for a moment to share in the immediate burden that was hers, and now that is also happily mine.  I needed my eyes to be redirected to another’s need rather than my own.  How many among you would welcome the hand of another woman vulnerably and intentionally letting you into her pain to share in the burden of it? Is it not a gift to be pulled in? 

If you are in the midst of an overwhelming struggle right now, I pray that you will also receive the gift of an outstretched hand of another whose challenges you may not know about. A little divine perspective goes a long way, not because we want to feel better because someone else has it way worse, but because there is a bigger picture that we need to see that is obstructed from us when we are focused on our own pain. M’s hand in my hand was a divine wake up call to guard against fixating on my own difficulties and to wake up to the gifts and opportunities He has for me today. It would be so sad to miss something so beautiful because of hardship, and I would have if she had not grabbed me by the hand!

I don’t know if I’ll see M again. I hope that she will be able to return to her home. She allowed me to snap this photo of her in front of her house right after our special time together, and it reminds me to look for a hand that needs to be grabbed and also to look for a hand to pull in when I am in need. There is a time for each and the Lord is in both.

I invite you today to ask the Lord which hand to look for in your life right now.

Feb 9, 2016

The Undoing of the Undone

I unravel for His glory.
I am the undone.

The undoing is the thorn that makes me shriek back, the knee jerk pulling away from the pointed ping of pain, the saving of self, which is actually the losing of self.  It is the shattering of my pride, the fraying of the person on the outside set against the person on the inside longing to be loosed yet clinging to the twine of me as it unwinds. How can one cling and reach at the same time?