Seeing Jesus …

August 15, 2008 - Leave a Response

Last night my youngest and I served dinner at the Denver Rescue Mission. It had been a while since I’d been there. I usually feel God in places like the Mission and wonder why I’m not there all the time by the end of it. But last night even was cooler than usual. There were a few quite stunning moments where I literally felt like I was looking at Jesus when I looked up at a man from my pot of soy sauce or salad dressing. I had never felt quite like that before. I had simply been hoping the men would feel valued and encouraged by a smile, a brief word, or just our attempts to serve them. I wish I could express how real it felt, that glimpse of Jesus. I looked twice several times trying to see him again, but I’d see a scruffy and ashamed young man standing in front of me, or a man who wouldn’t let me even look in his eyes. Even thinking of it now, my heart feels overwhelmed. It really took me aback. It was incredible. I feel so selfish wanting to go back soon in the hopes of seeing that glimpse again. I think it motivates me more than compassion. Is that o’kay? Last night after weeks of tossing and turning at night, I slept like a baby feeling God’s peace and presence still with me.

Watching my son …

It was great being there with my son, watching the guys seem to soften as they were served by a 13 year old boy. I saw a distinct difference as they appeared to drop their guard as they approached him and made their requests. With the rest of us they were often abrupt or guarded. My son was just enjoying himself and working hard. He would apologize if he’d slop their plate slightly and constantly checked to make sure they were happy before they moved on.

Last night it poured with rain. What was it like for those 181 men getting through the night. Not many slept at the shelter. Where did they sleep? Did they sleep?

Seeing his heart …

On the way home my son told me about a paper he wrote in class that day. It was meant to be about a  dream and about an inspiring moment or person.

The dream he stated simply … to have the opportunity to give extravagantly. He was surprised when others read their dreams of great wealth, elaborate homes, and possessions and that their dream ended there … with no follow up to use it to touch others.  

The inspiring person was a man he met and worked alongside in Juarez when he was building a house for a homeless family. This man had lived the worst life imaginable, committing unspeakable crimes. In a Mexican prison he met Jesus. Upon release from prison he returned to the community and the people he’d hurt so badly and sought to serve them and bring healing to the victims. He now works full time for the ministry we serve with in Juarez, pouring out his life, longing to be used by God to help others.

Hearing his heart was so much better than my feeble attempt to summarize what he shared in words.

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Lost In A Jungle …

September 11, 2007 - Leave a Response

On a lovely trip to Kauai for our anniversary we managed to have quite an adventure. O’kay, it was totally horrible, but somehow fun looking on it after the fact. We decide to take a kayak through a jungle and venture on a short hike to some beautiful falls … BUT we never saw them! Why? Because we got totally and utterly lost for hours and hours! I can talk flippantly about the whole “adventure” but the reality is it became quite terrifying with at least an hour hanging on a cliffs edge in real fear for our lives (honestly!). At one point husbands lost his footing and slid over 30 feet only to be caught by a tree. If the tree had not been there he would have fallen another 50 feel onto rocks below. So dramatic! I laugh now! But at the time it was all not so very funny.  The whys and wherefores of how we got in this predicament are pretty embarrassing, so I’ll skip them, but in that unpleasant situation I saw some pretty horrid things in myself. Who to blame for getting lost … that was my initial emotional reaction until there was no energy left for anything other than trying to hang on to rocks and find our way back. It had to be the guy who rented us the kayaks, then that unfriendly guide we ran into near the start that gave us bad directions … He probably did it on purpose just to mess with stupid unprepared tourists. Now who ever is responsible for marking trails in Kauai does a terrible job! It’s so embarrassing when I admit to what really went through my head for the first hour or two of this drama.

In the end I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. I’d been silly. More than silly. I’d been absolutely stupid. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I was at Disney or something where nothing bad could actually happen. I had pressed on when I should have turned back an hour earlier. I made ridiculous assumptions and we got terribly lost pushing on in completely the wrong direction. We survived, our boys weren’t left as orphans (not a funny thought really) … and it was good to realize how stupid we were and how ridiculous it was to try to find someone to blame. We had no one to be upset with aside from ourselves and the rotten bugs that almost ate us alive. They were nasty and deserved a good bit of wrath.

Thinking About Compassion …

August 29, 2007 - Leave a Response

I’ve seen a lot of suffering lately. The loss some have faced leaves pain that I can’t just sooth and fix with some encouraging words, a meal, or even the truth of God’s love for them.

Compassion: enduring-with, feeling-with, undergoing together.

I think about my frustration in wanting to provide answers and fix things, and wonder if it’s just my way of making sure I don’t get drawn in too far and have to just be there grieving with people, just doing life with them wherever they’re at. I do believe God gives answers and heals us. Job’s friends believed this and dispensed a bunch of “platitudinous advice” which seemed to be all true … His friends were trying so hard to be helpful. I know I do the same.

Please Lord, help me to listen from the heart and be there with people, and not draw away when I realize I can’t wave a magic wand and fix things.

From An Old French Guy …

May 30, 2007 - 2 Responses

“The great and solid foundation of the spiritual life is to give oneself to God in order to be the subject of His good pleasure … and afterwards to forget oneself so completely that one considers oneself as a thing sold and delivered to the purchaser …

“This foundation being laid, the soul has nothing to do save to pass all her life in rejoicing that God is good, abandoning herself so completely to His good pleasure that she is equally content to do this or that, or the contrary, at the disposal of God, without reflecting on the use which His good pleasure makes of her.

“To abandon oneself! … All that follows this simple acquiescence is the work of God and not of man.”

-Jean-Pierre de Caussade
Eighteenth Century French (ee-gad!) Jesuit

 

 

Fire …

May 29, 2007 - Leave a Response

A friend is here from Dwelling Places Children’s Home in Uganda. My husband connected with this place years ago on a trip there … I suppose before it was a “place.” It was just a dream in woman’s heart who wanted to be used by God to make a difference. So we’ve sought to help her do that. Over the years these people have captured and taken a piece of our hearts … which we are happy for them to have.

We asked this gal to explain to a group tonight why she does what she does. Why does she live to give her life away? Listening was extraordinary. To me it felt like looking into a piece of God’s heart. How she started in life pursuing her own dreams, but something caught her heart on fire. The course of her life was altered dramatically when she chose to look at what God put in front of her and allowed God to direct her life. She’s never married, but the burning that is inside of her to live for God, with her heart beating God’s heart, fills her with a life and love that so few ever experience. That life is mixed with pain to be sure … but I can see that it’s fulfillment mixed with painful longing … and fulfillment again. It’s giving everything for the Lord, and finding everything … and realizing you gave nothing! The way she aches inside for the kids God’s put in her life, loves and provides for them, will be known by so few in this world. But the beauty of transformed lives is something no one can measure.

What would happen if we all lived with this level of surrender and passion? I don’t mean selling everything and moving to Africa and caring for orphaned children. But letting God’s desires for our lives, and letting His love for others, burn within us.

I pray that if we ever succeed in building anything, we will build a community full of people who know God, and who live seeking to be God’s hands and feet, living with a fire that comes from allowing His heart to consume us.

Tough Times …

May 24, 2007 - Leave a Response

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise: though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me – Micah 7:8

When doubts disturb my troubled breast,
And all is dark as night to me,
Here, as on solid rock, I rest,—
That so it seemeth good to Thee.

– Ray Palmer

When trouble, restless fears, anxious fretfulness, strive to overpower the soul, our safety is in saying, “My God, I believe in Your perfect goodness and wisdom and mercy. What You do, I cannot now understand; but I shall one day see it all plainly. Meanwhile I accept Your will, whatever it may be, unquestioning, without reserve.” There would be no restless disturbance, no sense of utter discomfort and discomposure in our souls, if we were quite free from any—it may be almost unconscious—opposition to God’s will. But we do struggle against it, we do resist; and so long as that resistance endures, we cannot be at peace. Peace, and even joy, are quite compatible with a great deal of pain—even mental pain—but never with a condition of antagonism or resistance. – H. L. Sidney Lear


Let him set his heart firmly upon this resolution: “I must bear it inevitably, and I will, by God’s grace, do it nobly.”
– Jeremy Taylor

In God’s Hands …

February 6, 2007 - Leave a Response

I saw God holding out His hands, and I handed this “thing,” the place in the center of me that’s aching, to God. Now I could see what it was. It was the church, our church. It looked like a child’s social study project … a papier-mached structure in His hands with bits tacked on and added. It looked quite ridiculous, but I felt such love for it. I prayed for God to help me keep the church there, for Him to hold and care for the people and our community. After a while some pieces started to crumble and fall to the ground. In desperation I started to reach out to catch the falling dust, but I caught myself and realized how futile that was. If it crumbled while He held it, what could I do? Did I know better? Could I do better? I cried out to Him. I didn’t have words to express my grief but I knew He heard the cries of my heart. I knew He knew best and I could only trust Him. I felt a peace that what fell … well God truly knew best. But it still hurt. I hurt terribly. I grieved and prayed a long time for God to change my heart to fully be able to trust Him.

After a while I saw God starting to fold His hands in. Nothing was falling to the ground anymore. But what I had seen before was all disappearing. I thought, “Oh great God!” I was afraid. But I cried out again, “I trust you! Help me to trust you!” All I could see in His hands, flashing between His fingers, was light full of colors like a rainbow. I watched and waited, crying out in my heart! Eventually He began to open His hands. He was holding this little ball of light. It looked almost like a mini little sun. A small ball of fire in both His hands.

I can’t say I know what is ahead for us. But I know I have to trust God and continue to try to keep it all in His hands. What other hope do I have?

God I trust you! Help me to trust you!

When I Know Joy …

December 6, 2006 - Leave a Response

He has been so good to me. The most beautiful gifts my heart’s received have been my husband and boys. But in His presence there’s a stirring that goes beyond the most wonderful love I’ve ever known here on Earth.

let me be crazy with you, Lord …
crazy, in love with you,
and spend some time alone on the roads
that lead to the sun and the stars.
let me sing, let me dance,
let me rest in your arms,
let us be, Let us share,
let us run with the wind.
let me be me
and be crazy with you,
totally crazy, in love with you, Lord.
let me jump on your shadow,
let me blow on your ear,
let us dream, Let us touch,
let us laugh through the tears.
let me be crazy with you, Lord
totally crazy and in love with you,
totally crazy in love with you.
– Ruth McLean

I want to know Him more! I know so little, but what I know is so amazing! If I can know Him more … ! I want His life to fill me, flow through me … To see this transforming love and life overflow in this world!

Loving When It Hurts …

September 26, 2006 - Leave a Response

“God’s power is always able to deal with the unpredictable, even the rebellious and wayward, in ways that work every event towards God’s purposes.”

 

“What will God do? Discard the humanity project the way a potter throws a mis-shapen, still wet pot back into the primordial clay from which it sprang? Or continue to work with it? Courage is the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”

 

“The depths of all parental resilience are rooted in a courage that continues to invest in life in spite of surprises, difficulties, and disappointments, all because it’s love of that life is too great to give up.”

 

“Relationships are sustained by the courage to reach out again, forgive once more, seek clarity in the midst of confusion, and change expectations more than once.”

 

“Courage beyond all reasonable calculation is sometimes needed to sustain relationships.”

– Robert Morris, Suffering and the Courage of God