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Monday, December 29, 2014

Just a thought on The Spirit of Giving

Just some thoughts on giving:

Before Roy & I moved to Lewiston we came to visit Pastor Mike & Debbie, to see the housing area and visit the church.  It was the weekend of the Women's Christmas lunch. Watching over 100 women hug and catch up with one another, I was overwhelmed and a bit intimidated by the love I saw displayed. There was so much comradery and joy in just getting together. 

I see the same thing in Africa.  In Kenya, we work at the WEEP (Women’s Empowerment Equality Project) centers in the Slums of Kiberia and Gnong. This is a program designed to save the lives of widowed or abandoned mothers suffering from advanced stages of AIDS sparing their children from becoming orphans. The WEEP program commits to providing medical care, nutrition, vitamins, rent assistance and access to ARV drugs; it also assures that their children have school uniforms and other necessary resources to attend school. Once physically stable, the mother is taught a trade to become self-sufficient and break through the impoverished cycle.

We sat with the ladies and listened to each of their testimonies – how they had been found dying of AIDS but now, because of the centers, able to function independently side by side with God.  We went to speak to them about hope and encourage them in their race, but instead they touched our hearts with increased faith. We walked out of each place a different person.

Our friend, Evelyn, knew this place of need. She had been introduced to the WEEP center 2 years earlier. Now, free of the ravages of AIDS, she is sharing her testimony and saving lives daily throughout the Kiberia Slums. One such woman Evelyn took us to see was Esther.  We found her drifting on her couch; she had not consumed any food or drink in 2 days which left her de-hydrated and confused.  She was 32 and weighed in at 62 pounds.  She had an 8 year old son with very little time left in life.  With the help of a nutritionist and nurse she was given water with re-hydration salts as well as a bit of rice.  Within an hour she could speak a little and began responding to questions. Sponsorship money had been donated to her that day so while waiting on Doctors Without Borders to arrive and transport her to the hospital, we processed her into the program. Esther passed away a few months later; however her son has been well taken care of by relatives and is finishing school. Sometimes they are just not found in time. This experience propelled Roy and I to begin a project through Eden's Song called the Esther Project to care for these people while they wait to be sponsored into the WEEP center.

Paul says to the Macedonians in 2 Cor 8:2-7 “Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they were glad to give generously. They gave as much as they could afford and even more, simply because they wanted to. They even asked and begged us to let them have the joy of giving their money for God's people. And they did more than we had hoped. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, just as God wanted them to do. Titus was the one who got you started doing this good thing, so we begged him to have you finish what you had begun. You do everything better than anyone else. You have stronger faith. You speak better and know more. You are eager to give, and you love us better.  Now you must give more generously than anyone else.”

Giving is not always about money. Evelyn shares her knowledge of God’s great goodness and love with the women in the slums; others give time, products, services, knowledge or discipleship. Seek Him and His Kingdom first. Whatever God has purposed your heart to do is what you move into.

“They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us”.  

I remember my favorite Christmas was when I was 9 and my siblings were 6, 4, and 2.  Daddy was getting his PHD and working as an intern at the hospital and mom was nursing at the same hospital.  We didn't have much money so again Christmas would be slim pickins.  Though I’m sure that we talked a lot about our hopes of receiving Barbie dolls and train sets, we were pretty sure that wouldn’t happen.

That year my Dad had joined a ‘frozen meat’ club knowing that with each order over a specific dollar amount he would get a ‘fake’ Barbie so over the year he and my mom ordered twice.  My mom was a beautiful knitter so she made each of my brothers a sweater embroidered with trains.   I can’t imagine how long it must have taken her; she must have knitted late into the evening while we were asleep. The toil it took on both my parents continues to touch me.  I still have a picture of us four kids proudly holding our gifts and though I was many years older before I realized the sacrifice, it has always been my favorite year because I knew how much love went into creating that special day just for us!

The Lord has also sacrificed to create days soaked in mercy and grace. His love for us is unfathomable.  Just as my parents put us first, so does our Heavenly Papa. God tells Jeremiah in 29:11 For 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.”  As the years go on and our relationship matures in trust, we learn to stand with conviction on the promises God has given us, salvation for those we are praying for even for the house we've been dreaming of.  

In Matthew 2:9-11 it says that “the wise men listened to what the king (Herod) said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They were thrilled and excited to see the star. When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him. (Gold prophetically stands for glory, wisdom and truthFrankincense was a valuable powder that was burned to make a sweet smell. Myrrh was a valuable sweet-smelling powder often used in perfume.)

And then look at the gifts God has offered us; the gift of salvation through His son Jesus Christ the Hope of Glory and the Holy Spirit who imparts the spiritual gifts.  

1 Cor 12 it says that “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit. To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick 1or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God's Spirit is present. Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean. But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.”

Paul brings us a great example through the Macedonians who gave:
1. During affliction
2. In spite of great poverty
3. With great joy
4. Beyond their means 5.  Freely.

Here’s the charge:
2 Cor 9:6-7 “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give”.

 And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure; “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  Proverb 22:8

Here is the promise:
2 Cor 9:8-11 “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (In the AMP it reads “8And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].)  9 As the, “They share freely and give generously to the poor.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. (Why, because if I know He will continue to provide out of my lack, then I have no qualms about continuing to give.) 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”

Here is the outcome:
2 Cor 9:12-15 “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”

Giving isn't just monetary; we give of our love and God will increase the love around us, we give of our spiritual gifts and we will begin to see the manifestation of healing, prophetic declaration and miracles.  We can give food, time and hope.

I've seen great examples in my own life:
Our new friend Evelyn (& many like her) gave of herself through and after her fight for life.

My parents sacrificed their own comfort time after time to see a smile on a couple of kids faces.

The Wise Men gave out of their abundance.

God freely gave His one and only Son.

This is the season of giving and all of us have a gift to offer whether it is a monetary gift, something home-made, spending time with someone who is lonely, reading to a child or taking a moment to listen to our spouse. 

Uncommon Compassion.
Give Big of yourself.

My Rock

I walk

in the pitter patter
of the iridescent colors
of life.

There is none like You.

Wrapped in a cloud
of the Holy Spirit’s love
I fear no evil.

My rock
My Salvation.

I am endless.
Time means nothing.

The mirror becomes
my friend

as I learn to love

she whom you created.

My Dad

You have taught me
the honesty of George Washington
the unprejudiced of Abe Lincoln
the forward thinking of JFK
the fight of Eisenhower

You have shown me
the brilliance of Einstein
the character of Christ
the heart of Mother Teresa
the unconditional love of a Father

You have encouraged me when I was disheartened & been the shelter I could run to in times of hurt and loss.  You have always been there for me during the laughter and tears.  You have shown me through your actions how to be a true friend, parent and spouse.  Though I've not learned the art of portraying the unconditional spirit you love us all with, I continue to pray that one day I will.

You have been an incredible example of how a man should live and love and play and pray.  Your strength of character – steadfast in goodness – is unsurpassed.  I am continually thankful to a God who would give me such a leader in my life.  You have taught me that people are more important than tasks.

We have had the greatest discussions and solved so many world problems in the middle of the night.  You've enthralled me with stories of our family’s history and we've grown together through the character of your ancestors.  We've counseled each other –good or bad- it was all fun.  I pray that this year you will receive as much as you have given and more. You are an excellent Dad.  I have learned more from you than anyone in my life and have loved you with the same intensity.

My Dad’s been visiting this week. I have been blessed to have known him for over 50 years now and I've laid everything aside to spend every minute I can soaking up the stories and listening to his voice.  I remember once Dad telling me that when Grandpa passed away the one thing he missed was hearing him tell the tales he had heard a million times before; I don’t want to miss a thing.  We've been great friends all my life.  I can tell him anything and visa-versa.  He is proud of everything I do; he champions all our causes, gets behind the ministry and cheers us on from behind the scenes.   We don’t always agree on politics but we wax eloquent for our ‘side’ and laugh as we move on to the next thing.  What we have no control over doesn't matter.  What do matter are our values and how much we love each other.  In 3 days he will leave again for another year.  We’ll cling to each other’s voice over the phone, knowing that if anything happens we have loved unconditionally. 

I am blessed, to know an earthly love that exemplifies a heavenly love.  And yet…not as much still.  God loves us even more.  How can that be?  I marvel at God’s heart for us.  It is so all-encompassing.  We can enjoy His presence in every step of our lives.  Wherever we go, He is there.  He IS love (1 John 4:8), and that love is ‘manifest in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him’ (1 John 4:9) Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).  That is enough, yet there is more.  More love, more forgiveness, more kindness, more provision…He is omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresence and omni-more!

Two Fathers, Two incredible Loves – one temporal, one Eternal.  Thank you to the One who loves me most!

Language Barrier

This weekend my husband blessed me with a Chinese massage.  I love this place.  The gals are so sweet and kind, but they barely speak English.  So, we communicate the best we can through hand gestures and giggles.  

Today, I was trying to ask one of the gals how to say Thank You in Chinese.  Of course she didn't know what I was asking & after 3 tries I realized that just saying the same thing over and over was not going to help her understand.  I tried sign language and we were laughing hysterically until I finally bowed and she said “Oh, shank shoo”.  Yes, I screamed!  And then she said “Xie xie” (pronounced “'she-ay”) and we hugged.  What an delicious moment of bonding!
It made me think of the many missionary friends we have around the world.  So many nations, countries and languages!  Barriers at first, connecting while learning from one another and the potential to share God’s love through it all.  I considered how some of them leave every comfort, everything secure behind to enter into a culture where one is not understood and cannot understand.  I thought about the patience that is needed, the love that is endured, the grace and precious desire to build a relationship that is required.  Even language school only teaches the basics but there are dialects, slang and mixtures of each to learn as well. 

We short-termers count on those that have moved in to buffer the language barrier; much like Heaven coming to Earth.  We have learned the language of this world and its mindset, but God would come to live within us teaching us His language and Kingdom mentality.  We don’t always understand what He is saying & rather than repeat the same thing over and over, He sends angels, gives us signs and performs wonders.  Sometimes we feel silly when we finally ‘get it’.  Shaking our heads, we laugh.  Often it’s an epiphany and we must stop to ponder in amazement at how our lives are so much more valuable having learned a lesson unique to the Heavens.  However, no matter our response we are creating an intimate and lasting rapport with our Father.  A relationship in which His language will become our language.

Just a normal day

Today seems like a normal day & yet there is a distinct, pungent stink of the devil invading the succulent aroma from Heaven.  Though my mind goes to the ‘stench’ of worldly affairs, my nostrils are drawn toward the beautiful fragrance of the Lord, my daily prayer time and that precious time with Papa.

Just as we run to grab the room freshener to mask the smells of strong kitchen or bath odors, we must run to the word of God to refresh our atmosphere when the enemy tries to invade our world with evil.

Run, crawl, drag yourself to His word wherever you are. You can make it to the refreshing river of life.

I'm 60

I’m turning 60. That alone should be enough said. If you’re younger or older than that it is of no consequence.  You are either not at that pivot point or you've surmounted it. At any rate, I am there and experiencing mixed emotions. 

I have more wrinkles than energy. I also have more wisdom. I have aches and pains where I used to have muscle. I also love harder. I say things like “the kids these days” and “when I was that age”. I’m also able to laugh at myself for sounding like my parents and my grandparents. 

I’m less tolerant of drama, attention grabbing, and system twisting while finding myself more merciful toward those attempting to cope during a rough time in our world. 
I strive less to wait on God. I am more patient. I have learned to stand on His promises rather than run after my own desires.  I still want what I want when I want it, but have learned to ask first and be ok with ‘not right now’. 

I have idiosyncrasies that at one time would have made me blush but now I don’t even notice. I have lost my grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, friends, my sister, a beloved step-mom and husband; but my sweet parents are both very much alive and healthy and I've gained inexplicable love with Roy. 
My hearing is going south but my spiritual ears are more attuned. I've found quiet time is a good thing. In fact I crave it. Time to meditate on the Word of God; how I can give more, love more and become more like the Holy Spirit that hovers over me. Time to look back over the years; to laugh and cry and give thanks to the One who got me through so many situations. Time to ponder the future; to dream-build with Papa God and set my eyes on where he is taking me.

I feel old(er) today. But still and yet God has a plan for me. I've not finished the race, in fact have not even gotten to the sprint yet. I've lived more years than I have left but I've learned to live with abandonment; I say yes and no at will, dance even though I don’t look the same in reality as I do in my mind’s eye, sing at the top of my lungs & wear make up as I please (oh yes, I understand those women who paint their faces & draw in their eyebrows and lips). 

I preach to whoever will listen, wax eloquent over global issues, read the news & tell whoever is with me how they (whoever they are) should fix whatever I don’t agree with. I am no longer too concerned with being politically correct because I have learned relevance is in the eyes of the beholder. What I DO care about is that I do not grieve the Holy Spirit, that anyone can tell I love Jesus just by my countenance, my words and my actions. 

So, 60 is creeping up & will be upon me next week. In MY mirror I see a young girl brimming with hopes and dreams. I see beauty the Lord created me with. I see Eve with her Adam trying to save a nation and bring revival to a world in need. I see a teacher, a preacher, a prophet, a missionary and a lover of life all encased in the wrinkles of a good, full and incredibly happy woman.

Happy Birthday to me.

I switched on my phone today

Roy asked me to check the battery in my phone.  As I turned it on for the first time in weeks the customary opening song welcomed me back to the hustle and bustle of city life.  Soon I will re-engage in balancing the ministry with a full-time job, relationships & housework. 
We are preparing to journey back home. 

On our last morning in Kenya I sit on our balcony shivering slightly from the cool morning breeze.  Terry McAlmon fills my senses along with the surrounding sounds & smells of a day getting started.  A small bird, aptly named the regal sunbird, comes to rest close to the rail.  I’ve never seen such beautiful colors.  Metallic blue, green and red shimmer as a sunbeam touches down to warm its little head.  I gaze beyond her feathers to peacefully watch the workers dig out the ground for the new addition to the lodge.  With shovels.  There are no dump trucks or big, loud machinery here.  A few young men pitch the rich red earth into mountains that will eventually be used in the gardens or carried away in wheelbarrows for neighboring gardens.  They sing and share stories as they go.  There is no ‘hurry’ here.  In Africa time is measured with an ‘ish’.  They will be ready to begin building December – ish. 

 It is an incredibly perfect morning.  I am as relaxed as one with my personality can be.  Our work is done except for making 300 peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for a village VBS.  I hear the newly- arrived visitors readying themselves for their outreaches today stretching with the contentment of a cat.  I will move slowly.  I will not allow tomorrow to enter in to this moment. I want to take this home with me; these new-found understandings that we are the ones that impress time constrictions on all we do.  I want to take the time to notice the beauty of God’s creation each day.  To daily extend and receive Christ’s love.   To perceive a need, then pause to fill it.  To be thankful for each breath rather than race through life so fast that you just stop to catch it every now and then.

It’s been a fulfilling few weeks.  Roy & I have poured out from the depths of our being and been quenched with the deep love of others in return.  We’ve gotten filthy, laid our heads on hard beds, cried and laughed from some unfathomable place within ourselves, given and received, prayed and been prayed for, embraced the pain of those we cannot help & seen the best and worst of what life has to offer.  All senses on overload; wishing we could stay and continue the work there is to do hereA, yet knowing God is calling us back to another mission field at home. 

I am blessed with this duplicitous life. 

God has assigned us with 2 nations, 2 people and a heart for many missionaries around the world.  He has entrusted us with much & will therefore give us the ability to soldier and steward it well. Though I grieve each leaving, I am learning to also rejoice in each coming home whether here or there.

I have turned on my phone once again.


Even in the harsh reality
of grief

There is beauty.

The eagle soaring.

The laughter of a child.

An unexpected look of love.

A touch from the Spirit

Tears become a river
of life.

The promise

of things to come.

God's Ninja Warrior

Roy & I have been watching Ninja Warriors. It’s very exciting and no, it’s doesn’t share a significant message or promote anything Spirit Filled but something hit me last night as we watched the US vs JAPAN teams battle for the title. There are 3 separate stages of obstacle courses in which individuals must endure physical challenges that demand upper body strength, balance & focus. One of them is the Cliffhanger; this is the most grueling addition to Sage 3. It consists of 6 bars, 2 drops and 1 of the bars being ½” long.  God prompted me to Hebrews 12:12 which says, “strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees and make straight the path for your feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated but rather healed”. The player had to have a deft grip to make it across; at times having to hold on by the fingertips of one hand while reaching for the next ledge. That is how it is in life as well; but God. We can draw on His strength.

As they came into the final session the US team was winning. Japan was catching up. Each player had an intense look of hope and determination on their faces.  It was down to the final warrior & we were on the edge of our seats. It was up to one guy to get the furthest through the heart-racing obstacle course so the US could win the coveted “Ninja Warrior” title. As he faced each new challenging set he would stop, kneel down and gather his wits, his strength & shake off the pain & weariness trying to distract him; he purposed in his heart he could do this. And he did. The US won and there was great rejoicing among the men.

As the athlete knelt the Lord reminded me of Matthew 6:33 “33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (NKJ) Another version says, “and he will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.” (TLB) The these and the thems the Lord is speaking of is the things we worry over.. the need for food, clothing, money … but don’t go there. He went on to say, “Stop & seek My guidance. I will direct your path if you acknowledge me first. Seek me first and draw on My strength”.

Paul says, “In a race everyone runs, but only one gets the prize” so we should “run with patience (endurance, persistence) the race set before us (Hebrews 12) & not aimlessly as if beating the air” (1Cor 9:26).  Jesus says in John 4:34, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

The enemy comes to lie, steal and destroy; turning our heads & shifting our concentration. I, being a sanguine and a feeler have allowed myself to get caught up in other people’s drama and sufferings creating chaos in my life. I personally cannot stay focused if my eyes are turning this way and that. However, there are still those times I get caught up in worldly worry or running after things that don’t matter; leading me to a place that isn’t pertinent to my call.

Each time I’m happy to report, He reigns me in and reminds me that in the race we are running there can be no distractions. The only way I can control this is to stop…and seek Him. The One Who directs my path. The One Who loves me most. The One Whom I will spend eternity with. I have to stop DOING long enough to BE. BE in His presence & in His perfect will.

Though written in a strange language to me, I enjoy Matthew Henry’s commentary:
There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting; distrustful cares about the things of this life. This often ensnares the poor as much as the love of wealth does the rich. But there is a carefulness about temporal things which is a duty, though we must not carry these lawful cares too far. Seek first the kingdom of God, and make religion your business: say not that this is the way to starve; no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. The conclusion of the whole matter is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us. Happy are those who take the Lord for their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves wholly to his wise disposal. Let thy Spirit convince us of sin in the want of this disposition, and take away the worldliness of our hearts.

“Seek first the Kingdom”. “His Kingdom come, His will be done”. What does His Kingdom consist of but love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control?  A place where all forgiveness reigns. We are citizens of God's kingdom and can no longer think and act like we are citizens of the world. As I seek first His Kingdom I become a representative of God's kingdom; an ambassador in a foreign land. Seeking His Kingdom first we find ourselves under the reign of God-past, present and future where He is in charge of all things, sovereign in Heaven and in our will. We are then able to run the race with strength, focus, endurance, & conviction. 

With God leading we win. 

Eyes of a Dove

Song of Solomon 1:15 Amp
“Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful! You have doves' eyes.”

I’ve been thinking about this scripture for a week or so.  “You have dove eyes.”  What does that mean?  When Roy and I lock eyes we can speak volumes.  Love Birds.  Yes, we are.  When we fix our eyes on each other we are not distracted by the things going on around us.  Unhindered devotion.  For just those few moments there is no-one there but us. 

I want to have dove eyes for the Lord.  I am hungry to sit in His divine presence; to be elevated from wordly aspirations.  I want to possess a greater spiritual awareness.  Matthew 6:23 says, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”  Jesus wanted us to understand the significance of directing our total attention on God.   This “single eye” will enable us to become sensitive to the Lord's presence, and obedient to His desire and purpose. 

The Lord's favor rests upon those who have cultivated a “single eye” toward Him.  These can be easily led by Him, for they are close enough to see which way His eye is looking.  Psalm 25:15 (Amplified Bible) “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.” 

Once we are reduced to a single vision and all else fades away, our one desire becomes to completely abide in the Lord.

A Trip to Kibera Slums with HEART

Esther through God’s Looking Glass

Gentle hands guide a pain-wracked body through the glass where legs, strengthened by nutrition, medication and God’s mercy bear a healthy body, a joyful heart and a smiling face.  Reconciled and redeemed by Christ, she is now a new creature; the old left behind & the new ahead of her.  Healed of past God concepts & renewed by God’s love, she has been crucified in Christ & able to embrace the abiding of the Lord.  She believes there is a call on her life and carries the sense of confident expectation that solid certainty brings. Hope for her child and the coming generation bring a peace to her countenance.  I sat in awe of the freedom filling the room emanating from the promise of life.

Each testimony told of the hardships, the fear and ensuing denial that come from the sentence of an HIV positive diagnosis.  Short and Sweet.  It was no longer their reality.  They were saved by the blood of the Lamb and the earthly angels God had put in their path.  Each woman realized the potential life carried for them.   Excitedly they showed us how to make candles; took us to their shop where they sold their crafts-purses, school uniforms, mosquito nets, aprons, dresses, blouses and men’s shirts they tailored; the beaded, be-jeweled and polished stoned jewelry; handcrafted blankets and many other wonderful gifts made by hands that once shook with illness. 

Now steady.
Now being held out to others in need. 

With uncommon compassion, the kind that can only come from one who has taken the journey before you, they visit other women languishing on the brink of death and offer them the same hope of glory.  We were blessed with the visual representation of “raham” or the “tender love of a mother for her child; to love from the womb”.  With no regard to time or space they pray, feed and help hold a bottle of oral re-hydration to dry lips. 

Quietly, one woman who understands the need for human contact will sit and hold a hand with full knowledge that soon this woman too will be free of the enemy’s plan. 

Through the help of Mom Gladys’s, Mary, Evelyn and others, each woman is given a chance to make a life for themselves.  We greeted graduates of the program walking the streets & purchasing food for the evening meal they will prepare for their family, by themselves, in their own home.   These women now give back to the program.  Self-sufficient, proud, shining with the light of He who has become their rock and strong tower.

Independent of handouts.

Dependent on God.  


Interwoven through a tapestry

Of many colors

Threaded in gold & silver

A design hewn

By the very

Hand of God;

My life

My call

My dreams

Manifesting the release

Of his Princess Warrior

I step out

Gold-dust glittering.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Crystal Invasion

Pure white mist
covers the valley
obscuring the mountains
from my sight.
Tenderly clinging to rose bushes
and grass-covered yards
homes are blanketed,
desperately send smoke signals
through their chimneys.
Soon it lifts
as if You’ve called it home
leaving behind
crystal remnants of the invasion.
A little like you, Lord.

I love crystal chandeliers, crystal candle holder, crystals hanging from any and everything.  Today, the sun shines through the windows and captures the light and colors of the world that surrounds them.  Prisms of light dance across the room in a playful display of joy… they pulse and radiate life…the red of the rose, the gold of sun, the green of the ivy and maroon of the room I’m sitting in. 

Captivated, I weep at the beauty.  I see You in every color, filling my life with passion and a hunger for more.  More of the One that loves endlessly and fervently.  More of the One that pours grace and mercy at the sound of “I’m sorry”.  More of the One that holds us when we are lonely, tired, lacking courage or bravado.  More of the One that takes every tear and stores it in a bottle. 

You’ve spoken promises over my life.  Promises I’ve packed away to observe at a later date and determine whether I’m ready or not.  They steal around the atmosphere today, peeking out from the crystal invasion, calling out to me, poking at me… tag you’re it.  And I am.  It’s time to say Yes.  It’s time to let go of the insecurities holding me back from running to the doors You stand prepared to open.  I’m ready to experience my defining moment, my strong & courageous season, my such a time as this. 

So I stir, from the carefree radiance of my illuminated world, to your arms.  One final waltz before we go…You and I…caught in the continuum of beauty.  Our Song of Songs.  The music ends.  I curtsy as reality births itself from the reverie.  I take off my dance shoes; tack on my armor and leave.  Through You, all things are possible.  Ready or not, here I go.

Blue and Broken

Pick up your heart
blue and broken
and entrust it to Me.
I will mend it
I will caress it
I will never misuse it.

Man can be so careless
with the fragile
but I created you.
For Myself
to be a light
to move mountains.

I will capture those tears
and clutch them to My heart
as pure joy.
I will embrace you
you will embrace the promise
and together
we will build My Kingdom.

Today I made Ice Tea…sun tea to be exact.  I chose the correct glass pitcher, filled it with RO water and added the perfectly picked tea bags to create a wonderful blend of sun drenched tea.  I set it out on the porch, covered so no bugs could get in, and left it to boil.  As I turned to come back in the house I was thankful for the grace of God.  For the love of Christ.  For a wonderful earthly family, husband and friends.  It’s been a long road for this girl.  There was a time I would think, ‘Here I am, covered in grace, loved by the Only One that matters, bound for greatness in His eyes and yet I have no love for myself.’  Struck down by words as a child, I fought a life tormented with insecurities.

I have my father’s feet; lovely on my father, not so attractive on me.  The infamous Venus di Milo second toe stretching beyond the first toe is apparently unattractive except on a Greek goddess.  I have my mother’s ankles and beautifully developed dancer legs, but in elementary school they are tagged ‘bird legs’. 

When I was 8 years old I had a friend who forever teased me about my ankle’s being too skinny and my toes too long.  And so I spent many years before and after the flash dance era wearing my socks scrunched down around my ankles and closed-toe shoes.  I was a faux pas waiting to happen.  My father would tell me that my ankles were not skinny, but shapely, and that Venus de Milo’s second toe was beautifully captured in sculpture.  But the voice of my ‘friend’ rang louder in my ears than the voice of my father who loved me more than any other earthly person.   

I began to see other flaws; one eye smaller than the other, one lip higher, one imperfectly formed eyebrow, barrenness… those are the things that shaped the way I felt about myself.  I’m not alone in this.  My younger brother faced much insecurity because he struck out as he came up for the winning run when he was a little boy.  There are the abused, the disabled, and the unwanted; all crying out for encouragement.  But sometimes a word isn’t enough.  What I’ve discovered as I walk with the Lord is that we must inhabit the belief that we are created BY God in HIS image!  How beautiful is the Face of He who sent His son in propitiation for our sins.

Though we are a fallen race, and must watch that fine line between walking in humility while knowing that we are Kings and Queens in His eyes, we must not allow others to determine the assurance in which we move through life.  1John 4 tells us we must love one another, for love springs from God and that we must know and understand the love God cherishes for us.  

“God is love and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God and God dwells and continues in him.  In this, love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment because as he is so are we in this world”.   

We must first love ourselves.  Now when I look in the mirror, rather than seeing a distorted view of the world’s image, I focus on the words of Song of Solomon 4:7, "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you."  You are beautiful in the eyes of your Beholder!

Beyond the word cancer

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because god has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (Romans 4:3-5 NIV)

I talked to one of my best friends this afternoon.   We’ve been friends for many years.  Through thick and thin.  Good times and Bad.  Today I shared all the details of our jaunt across Kenya.  Everything.  All the laughter and tears, the bittersweet moments of holding broken children, the old friends and new, each road and what it was like this time, each church, each person…everything I could think of. 

I told her how many people were praying for her even across the world…speaking life into her body, now wracked with cancer.  She should have been with us, but instead was fighting the good fight.  We didn’t talk much about the chemo or the pain or the loss of waist-length thick hair. We refuse to play into the hand of the enemy.  No, we zoomed by it and spoke instead of what life will bring tomorrow, next week, months and years from now.  Each word a dynamic press towards abundance. 

I’ve been down this path before with a loved one. Yes, cancer demands our attention.  It sucks the joy out of us and attempts to replace it with false bravado.  But God.   There is nothing false in Him.  There is joy in the suffering.  I breathe deeply and pull out the memories of a time gone past, looking them over one by one.  God’s grace is sufficient for each of us to embrace and come out the victor.  All those many years ago He sent His son to take the stripes & if you wipe away the tears to look closely you will find there are so many miracles woven through the fabric of anguish.  So many moments God’s hands reach down to hold them up when we cannot, offering the tender care of a future, just as promised…a future and a hope.  Divine marvels captured & clung to.   
So we caught up on all the news of the past few weeks, giggling over the silliness of life and the people in ours.  We made plans for our next conversation, our next visit & our next trip.  We hugged as only old and dear friends can over a phone line.  And I wept.  For what she must endure.  That I can’t be there for her.  For how she will be changed.  And yet God.  Our amazing and wonderful creator.  He will bring alongside her those that love beyond words, laugh through the tears and intercede with the Heavens…and with it healing. 

Today was a hard day.  I battled the line between whose report to believe and chose to act on the report of the Lord.  The stand came through tears.  I had to pull it out of myself.  It’s never pretty when you desire to be so perfectly staunch in God’s word and find a glitch, but Kingdom mentality won.   The Heavenly picture of my Father’s home brought the manifestations of grace to create with my friend new memories to look forward to.  Life.  That in abundance.  For eternity.

African Morning

I pull myself from the revelry of sleep into the cacophony of a bird-song soaked morning.  The gardener waters the plants while whistling a familiar tune, the cooks permeate my little world with the intoxicating aromas of breakfast, the old rooster down the street sounds the alarm of a fresh new day & my husband sweetly snores next to me.  Oh Lord, what have I ever done to deserve these extraordinary moments?  The day looms before me.  I try to tick off the tasks as any ordinary day, but giggle knowing I am so not in charge here. 

Today was planned as a study day for the week ahead, yet the WEEP ladies are coming to set up market for the guests as well as surrounding neighbors and churches.  These beautiful, single Moms, recovering from AIDS have worked long hours to prepare for this day where they will show off their beautiful jewelry, clothes and hand-crafted items making enough to save for the day they will own their homes and businesses.  Their children will run and play around the compound, happy for the frivolity the day will afford them. 

There is excitement in the air; anticipation of visitors who will walk the grounds and stay for a lunch which will include meat. The staff is already setting up the tables & chairs that will house up to 50 visitors shielded from the sun by umbrellas.  The drivers are sprucing up the vehicles that will escort some of the company back and forth.  The grounds are being clipped, the main rooms polished, glasses and silver wiped down so nicely you can see yourself in them.  It reminds me of a time long ago when hospitality held incredible significance – it still does here.

I’m tempted to snuggle down into the quilt against the chill of a Kenyan morning but refuse to miss a moment of what I look forward to all year – my limited time in the land I’ve been called to.  I set my to-do list aside, throw the covers aside, immerse myself in the beauty of sunrise & stretch my hand out to the God whose promise is yes and amen.  This is the day the Lord hath made and I will rejoice & be glad in it.  And again I say rejoice.

A Thank You Note

As I sit coffee in hand, lazily taking in the surroundings of my newly Christmasy-decorated home, I am thankful.  Thankful that Maslow’s theory is at work and we have the basic necessities to be comfortable, thankful that we have a little extra to make our home comfy cozy and probably way more clothes than 2 people need. I am thankful for a husband who loves me unconditionally and cheers me on as I run the race Christ has set before me.  I am thankful for parents who raised me to be compassionate and to give out of lack or abundance cheerfully.  I am thankful for a Father who sent His only Son to stand in propitiation for my sins and allow me to live a redemptive life.  I am thankful for Grace and Mercy and Love.   I am thankful that whether I have a good day or a bad day, I am content as I fall into the arms of refuge each and every night. 

This is all relative to what I see in the world.  Some by choice, most not, there are those that live on the streets, beg on the corners, are mentally incapable of living a normal life or choose drugs and alcohol over food.  There are those oppressed by government, threatened by rebels, soldiers and racists.  Many spend their lives suffering daily bombings, rape and picking through garbage to feed their children to offer them one more day of life.  Others experience affliction from drought and unhealthy environments.

 I feel like I’ve seen it all; fortunately I know I have not. 

We have, however, been privileged to work with those that have. 

Each missionary God has given us the honor of meeting has seen a different side of sorrow; some within our country and some outside.   Whether they have chosen to minister to a local church, community, a country or nation of people, their hearts are not their own.  Field warriors bear an uncommon compassion.  The dictionary describes the word uncommon as rare, unusual, exceptional; used to emphasize the great extent of something; concern, consideration, empathy and kindness.  The word compassion in Hebrew is “raham” and means “to love from the womb”; the tender love of a mother for her own helpless child.

(God uses “raham” when He describes himself to Moses in exodus 34:6.  ‘Then the LORD passed by in front of him (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth’.)

Those called to venture into a world many of us are unaware of, are rare and tender lovers of people. Abounding in ‘lovingkindness and truth’ they share the devotion of Christ with those that don’t know what a Christmas decoration looks like, who couldn’t dream of having food on the table every night or a change of clothes each day.   They hug the little children, wash feet with hidden tears and tell silly stories just to bring a laugh.

I’m thankful that my vision has been increased by these unique elite.


I feel like I’ve crossed through to the Promised Land and stepped into a plethora of opportunity.  Like a kid in a candy store I don’t know which chocolate to choose first.  My eyes shift from shelf to shelf; a little intercession, a little prophetic, a little apostolic, leadership…on and on it goes.  Though not new, it seems fresh and stirs my heart!  So many books to read, so much bible to ponder; in my newfound excitement I can’t get enough.  I don’t want to miss anything.  Spiritual overload…in a good way.

Once you’ve had your head in the heavenlies, praying the theophanies with its clouds, thunders and visions of the throne room, how do you walk when feet hit the ground? (Wesley Campbell)

I realize soon I will need to take my booty and spread it out; separating the favorite pieces to eat first and the ones I will share from those I do not really need according to my call.   But for right now I will just stand, quivering with child-like expectancy and stretching my hand heavenward prepared to possess the promise of the nations. 

“Get (skillful & Godly) wisdom! Get understanding (discernment, comprehension and interpretation) … Wisdom is the principle (‘the beginning of’; ‘first in importance’) thing.  Therefore get wisdom and in all of your getting, get understanding. Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her.  She shall give to your head a wreath of gracefulness; a crown of beauty and glory will she deliver to you.” (Proverbs 4:5-9)