stacking stones

There is a small flower garden tucked behind the historic jail museum in the small coastal town of Southport, North Carolina.  Within the garden, there is a pathway of engraved stones called Heritage Stones. These Heritage Stones honor individuals who had a significant impact on the development of Southport. Some commemorate the signers of the 1792 original charter. Others represent women and men of various professions: postmistress, pastor, principal, artist, historian, and civic leader. Each left their mark on this town.

One Heritage Stone names an event, not an individual, that left its indelible mark. An event that forever changed Southport and eastern North Carolina: Hurricane Hazel. When Hurricane Hazel arrived on October 15, 1954, she brought with her 120+ mph winds and a storm surge of 15 feet. Southport and surrounding areas would eventually recover but the landscape would never look the same.

In our lives, people and storms change our trajectory and our lives are never the same. We are headed one way; but then our direction is altered. When that happens, it is important to pause and remember. It is time to stack some stones. The Heritage Stones invite the residents and visitors of Southport to pause and remember. Remember the people who gave unselfishly. Remember the Storm.  Do not forget. To help remind us, they placed stones.

Stacking stones as spiritual markers began in Genesis. In chapter 31, Jacob and his relatives stacked stones following their covenant with Laban. This monument of stones and this stone pillar that I have set up is a witness, a witness that I won’t cross this line to hurt you and you won’t cross this line to hurt me. Genesis 31: 51,52

Later in Joshua 4, the stone stacking continues. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. Joshua 4: 5-7

Stacking stones so those whom come after us will see and remember. Remember how the mighty God brought us through this situation. Do not forget. Stack stones.

If I were to stack stones representing my life-altering events, one stone would be for my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Cordell.  He inspired and encouraged me to be a teacher. His love for his students and for teaching left a mark on my life. My life was changed because of Mr. Cordell.

I would need another stone for Bill and Ruth, my Sunday School teachers. They took time, tons of time, to share about love, life, and God. They walked their faith everyday. They changed my life.

Another stone would represent my junior year at college: 215 Seavers. My 5 roommates drew me closer to God and made me laugh daily. It was crazy fun. They changed my life.

One more stone would be for a country that feels like my second home, Tanzania. I love the people. I love who I am when I am there. I love the beautiful children. I feel closer to God. Tanzania has changed my life.

There are many more stones that have shaped, molded, and altered my life. When I pause to remember, I know I am very blessed.

What about you? What names are on your stones? Who are the people who helped mold you into you?  Have you named your storms that altered your lifescape?  Let’s pause to remember.

We need to stack some stones for those who come after us. They will see the stones, and they will know we were here. But more importantly, they will know God was here.

Stacking stones claims ordinary moments of life for God. And when someone comes along and asks you, “What do these stones mean?” tell them the story of what God has done. ~ Jayne Hugo Davis

 

waiting

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work. 

~ Peter Marshall

Waiting is hard. Waiting for the light to change, the line to move, the game to start, and the phone to charge. I wait for the laundry to finish, the microwave to beep, and the repair person to show up.  I wait for my food to come through the magical drive-thru window and for the line to snake through the amusement ride queue. Please stop me if I ever insist on waiting five hours for Disney’s newly open Frozen Ever After ride. A five-minute boat trip through the mythical land of Arendelle is not worth the wait!

Winter-lovers await the first quiet snowflake. Summer-lovers await their first beach day. Moms and dads wait for doctors’ reports while comforting their sick child. Children, women, and men around the globe wait for their freedom from abuse and exploitation. My friend, Tommy, spent 8 days waiting on a boat while fleeing Communism in Vietnam. Some waiting is cruelly defined by life or death.

Waiting isn’t easy; it requires patience and perseverance both qualities I am recently lacking. I am a doer, by God’s design, not a wait-er. I want to go and do, not wait and see. Waiting is starting to freak me out. I am becoming  grumpy and fidgety. Let’s get on with it!  I don’t own a git ‘er done t-shirt but maybe I should as a visual reminder to God of my inner workings.  Nike and me: Just do it!

So here I am, anxiously waiting.  I am waiting for an answer, actually 2 answers. One answer from a lady regarding my writing. I am pretty sure what her response will be, but I am waiting to hear it in her own words. I pray she is kind.

The other response?  I am waiting on God. I am waiting for Him to tell me my purpose in life. My I-am-turning-55-and-at-a-crossroads purpose in life. You would think I would be willing to be extra patient for such an important answer, but no.  I am growing impatient with God. Sadly, my impatience is creeping toward anger. Why doesn’t God answer me? Doesn’t He hear my cries? Doesn’t He care?  I am starting to believe I am no longer a blip on God’s radar screen.

Perhaps my impatience is being fueled by a post mid-life crisis. Approaching birthday, getting older, slowing down, stepping away from ministry responsibilities, too much gray hair, too thick at the waist and other areas, too many new aches and pains. All those red flags which scream, Help me find my usefulness, my purpose in this life! Wherever I drive, speed limit signs remind me of my age and my anxiety gauge ticks up a few notches.

I know I have turned the page of a new life chapter,  but did God forget to turn the page? Is He a few chapters behind?

I need Him to show me my new path, my new game plan. What does He want me to do? How can I serve Him? I am seeking His direction, which is a good thing. But I so desperately want a map. A nice big, clear map, since my eyesight left a long time ago.  I need to know the next play.  Football players receive their next play through their helmets. I will strap on a helmet, if need be. I want to get busy for God; my hands aren’t happy idle. As these waiting days flow into each other with no answer, the grayness thickens. The darkness is getting uncomfortably close. How long will I have to wait?

When will God answer me? Not sure. Sarah spent many years in the harsh grip of childlessness while waiting on God. God’s people waited in Egypt for 400 years before hearing His response to their cries. How long did Simeon wait to see the child Jesus in the Temple? Paul waited in jail for two years before arriving in Rome.

Two requests before God and silence. The deafening kind of silence. I want answers, yesterday. I recognize my time-table is so nearsighted, so finite.  God’s time-table is beyond comprehension, certainly beyond my limited vision.

David reminds me over and over again in Psalms to wait and do so patiently.  Psalm 27:14,  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 37: 7a,  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

As I learn to wait, perhaps I will find God is patiently waiting for me. Is He waiting for me to become still? Is He waiting for me to start trusting Him again? Is He blessing me with time to be quiet but I am narrow-mindedly discarding it as wasted time? Is this waiting time a precious gift from my good, good Father?  Time to rest and refresh, not whine and complain. During this waiting period, I need to accept the open invitation to climb onto His lap and be close to my Heavenly Daddy. A gift of time to rest in His embrace.

Time to pull up a chair, grab a soda, and lots of chocolate. Time to wait but also time to read, pray, be still, and just enjoy Him. Maybe being in God’s waiting room isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I can learn to embrace this time and utter thank you, instead of hurry up. 

As I look around, I see I am in very good company. So many pictures of those who have passed through this same waiting room. Some waited longer than others, but all have waited. Joseph waited in a pit and prison. Job waited. Hannah waited. Father of the prodigal son waited. So many have waited and so many are still waiting. I am not alone here.

I will wait expectantly of what God will do. I will wait as He authors the next chapter in my life.

I will wait; for I know He is working.

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. ~ John Ortberg

 

 

open hands

With the close of the  2016 Olympics, I have my evenings back. More time to do whatever I did before the athletes paraded into my life.  No more late nights in the Olympic Zone and counting medals. This geography geek is putting her map away. FYI: Bhutan is in South Asia and has never won any medals.

I enjoyed learning tidbits about little known countries, like Burundi. Mentioned by ABC News as one of the countries with snazzy outfits, Burundi (FYI: south of Rwanda in Africa) entered the arena with each athlete wearing a traditional African attire featuring animal prints and carrying a wooden staff. They completed their look with neon  Nike shoes, combining traditional with modern. The 9 Burundi athletes returned with one medal, a nod for Best Looks, and tons of country pride.IMG_9781

Choosing to sacrifice my sleep time, I enjoyed women’s beach volleyball.  Looking beyond their ridiculously tiny uniforms, I was amazed by their athleticism on display in the big sandbox.

I noticed many of the female volleyball players stood waiting to receive a serve with open hands, palms up. The American, April ‘the Boss’ Ross would take her stance with open hands, palms up, and wiggle her fingers too. She was ready and waiting for whatever was coming her way.IMG_9780

 

Do I come before God with open hands, palms up, and fingers wiggling? Does my Father see me ready and willing to do His work? Does my stance convey the message, I am here and I am ready to be used by You?

Too often, I fear God sees my hands, tightly closed, like fists.  He sees me clinging to things that don’t really belong to me. I, like the selfish seagulls in the movie, Finding Nemo, declare to God, “Mine. Mine. Mine.” I foolishly and arrogantly believe all I have is mine. I am so wrong.

My family, my belongings, my life, my next breath: all from God. Everyone and everything in my life represent the blessings and perfect gifts from a loving Father.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Only open hands are ready to receive all the blessings and perfect gifts from a loving Father.  Only open hands can be used by Him to give and receive blessings. Only open hands can embrace a loved one and can reach down to pull up the fallen.  Only open hands can serve another. Only open hands can clap in praise and wipe away tears.

The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance as it receives. ~ Biddy Mason.

 Only open hands are ready to return a wicked volleyball serve as the beach volleyball players demonstrated.

What can I do with open hands? When offered in love,  everything!

Then, with a wink in His eye, I will hear my Heavenly Father say, “Mine.”

 

 

 

I didn’t know

Dear God,

I didn’t know the new boy in my eighth grade science class was someone very special.

I didn’t know IMG_9732 in tenth grade he would become more interesting to me.

I didn’t know our separate college years would deepen our bond.

I didn’t know there was a ring hidden in the drawer one December night.

I didn’t know a wedding could be planned in six weeks.

I didn’t know our first married year apart would strengthen our marriage.

I didn’t know 2 amazing blessings would result in this union.

I didn’t know loved ones would be gone too soon.

I didn’t know the tough challenges we would walk through.

I didn’t know family and friends would be such valued treasures.

I didn’t know daughters could also be dear friends.

I didn’t know the adventures ahead of us.

I didn’t know 2 wonderful sons would join our family.

I didn’t know we would be blessed to be involved in children’s lives around the world.

I didn’t know the path we would walk.

I didn’t know I would say ‘I do’ 33 years ago today.

But You did.

I say thank you with all that I am.

Krista

back stories

For the remaining 14 nights, you will find me in front of a TV.  Drawn by the lure of  Olympic-size competition, I will arrive with  snacks to watch toned and muscular bodies in action. With regular season football still weeks away, I will receive my sports fix via the race for medals. I will be mesmerized by superhuman feats of athleticism on display. Why does anyone even attempt to do back flips on a 4-inch wide beam? 

Focus. Toughness. Strength. Perseverance, Determination. Endurance. Resilience.

All show up every night; all exhibited in a wide array of colorful uniforms.

What makes a  person work so hard and practice so long while striving for perfection? Each athlete has an overachieving, internal drive force that keeps me tuning in for more.

During the opening ceremony, one commentator made an insightful comment. He said that for many of the athletes this single event of entering the arena to thundering applause and celebration was their Olympics. Most would not make it through preliminaries, most would not achieve a personal record, and most would certainly return home empty-handed. So before the cauldron was lit, most had achieved all they possibly would in the Olympics.

In addition to the drama and cheers,  I enjoy learning about the individual. Tell me about the person. I am curious about their journey. Their back story doesn’t need to focus on whether they set a personal record  or awarded a medal. Yes, I will see what they are capable of but who are they and what is their back story?   What did they and their family endure to arrive on this world stage? What did they sacrifice and was it worth it?

Terrorism, in its ugly form, has touched many people and nations. Freedom to live, work, practice, and train have been infringed upon. Yes, each athlete has a back story; we just aren’t privy to all of them. Occasionally, Bob Costas may enlighten us with a human interest story but with 11,000 + athletes competing in these  Olympics, there are  11,000 + back stories.

Tell me more about Laura Graves, the hairdresser from Boston. What motivates a hairdresser to purchase a horse that she saw on a sales video?  Why did she nickname him Diddy?  How did their journey unfold in Florida where they train in hopes of an equestrian medal? Curious stuff.

By telling me their back stories, these media-inflated gods and goddesses become more real and human. They are not to be worshipped, but they can be admired.  By telling me their back stories,  I hear their struggles and I don’t feel so alone in mine.

I was dialed in on night 3, when David Boudia and partner, Steele Johnson,  were competing in the 10-meter platform synchronized diving competition. One could say that Boudin’s back story is one of drugs, alcohol, and the contemplation of suicide. That is all true. But the climax to any good story is the most exciting part. It is when the conflict of the plot is resolved. That occurred when David accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.  The red  blood flowed from the cross and covered all of David’s back story. His life was never the same.

At the end of the night, David and Steele  celebrated their silver medal performance. With a microphone in front of them and the world listening, David put his back story front and center. On national TV, he told the world his identity is in Christ alone. He is more than a medal. David and Steele both openly shared  whose they are.

It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture. I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.           ~ David Boudia

When the cauldron is snuffed out and the Olympics rings go dark, the athletes will travel home.  Hopefully, they will carry David’s back story with them. Perhaps they will pause to consider their own identity, whether they have a medal around their neck or not.

Now when David stares down a dive from 10 meters high, he knows the climax to his back story carried him there.

That is all he needs to know.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in Heaven, your heart will be there too. Matthew 6:19-21

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

power of one word

Maneuvering the hallway lined with perfectly polished women, I keep my eyes downcast. Grasping my welcome bag and holding back tears, I rush into my hiding place: the ladies restroom. Why am I here? I must be crazy. Dabbing at my eyes, I catch my reflection in the mirror.  Good grief! Look at me!  My yard-sale find, a brown sweater, stares back at me reinforcing my unworthiness. As the tears begin again, I know only two things :  I do not have enough tissues and I do not belong here.

Attending a women’s conference in Charlotte, North Carolina seemed like a good idea six months ago.  Now, I am questioning my sanity and decision-making ability as I sink deeper into  yard-sale-girl-crying-in-the-bathroom-alone.  Staying here will only keep me locked in this dark and sad place feeding on the enemy’s lies.  Another woman, not wearing a yard-sale sweater, will eventually need to use the restroom.  Leaving my make-shift sanctuary is my only viable option.

Trying to re-establish my composure, I realize I need to do something, anything. A comfortable and familiar activity pops into my mind: eating! Yes, I will find something to eat. After making several wrong turns in the massive conference center, the lunch buffet for attendees comes into view. Choosing a table away from the chattering crowd, I engage my cloaking device for invisibility.  By burying my head in the thick conference notebook, I play invisible. However,  I am thankful my soda glass is not hidden as the kind staff continually fills it to the brim.  But then…

Hello.

One word. Just one word causes me to lift my head.

One word and I reach out to grab God’s life-line.

One word and I am looking into the eyes of a lady who is also searching and alone.

My new friend takes the seat across from me and begins chatting away in a lovely southern drawl. We easily slip and slide into each other’s life. We share. We laugh. We cry. We contemplate dessert choices and decide to get both.

One word. With one word, I am no longer alone.  With one word, I gain a lunch partner, a conference buddy, and a new friend.

My friend was brave to offer me one word; I want to be brave and offer one words freely to others. A simple one word like Hello. But maybe those who cross my daily path  need to hear the one word, Thanks, more generously.  My family needs to hear more often the healing one word, Sorry.

It is amazing how much meaning and power there is behind one word. But the greatest and most disarming one word of all is the name of Jesus. I want to be brave to offer ‘Jesus’  to someone who needs to hear this saving one word. I need to offer it to those outside of my church, small group, and safe places.  Maybe someone you know needs to hear the most important one word,  Jesus.

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear. Isaiah 45:23 NIV

Only one word will cause others to lift their heads.

Only one word will offer a  life-line to someone who desperately needs it.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pray like it matters

While in Tanzania, my itinerary included a visit to the country office on Friday morning.  As we drove toward the office, my guide informed me that Friday was prayer day. He said it with an enthusiastic anticipation that I usually reserve for a planned shopping trip with dinner and ice cream afterwards. He knew what was coming and he was looking forward to it.

Compassion International battles poverty in 26 countries, working through 26 unique in-country offices. So on Friday morning, we headed to Tanzania’s country office which is located in the city of Arusha.  The plan was to join the staff for morning devotions before heading out to visit a Compassion Center nearby.

The Compassion staff gathers for devotions every morning. However, Friday mornings are special because they are devoted to prayer. So after a time of worshipping God through singing, we got busy praying.  We prayed and then we prayed some more.  We prayed corporately and we prayed privately as some of the Staff sought a quiet place in the room.  Some prayed standing, some kneeling. We paired off and prayed with a partner. If there was a way to pray; we found it and we prayed!

During corporate prayer, we prayed for a country where Compassion is currently serving approximately 137,000 children. This country is facing questions from the government about their program. Will Compassion be asked to leave this country? What would become of the children? Such heavy burdens.

We  prayed for the sponsors. Yep, we prayed for you and me (if you are a sponsor). I was humbled. Then these questions popped into my brain: Why are you praying for me?  Why are you praying for sponsors?  None of us live in or near extreme poverty that exists right outside this office door.  That didn’t matter. I was prayed for and all the sponsors were prayed for.

When it was time to pray with a partner, I looked around for my guide. Partnering and praying with my guide seemed like a comfortable choice. But he had moved to the back of the room during the private prayer time. Nearby, a tall lady with a warm smile looked my way. Yes, let’s pray together. So we stood, faced each other and joined hands.  And we prayed. IMG_9568

What struck me most was how she prayed; how everyone in that room prayed. They prayed like it mattered. They prayed like they knew God was in the room, standing amongst us.  They prayed boldly and with authority.  They prayed like they knew their prayers made a difference. They prayed like they knew God was actually listening.

They rocked my prayer world.  Do I pray like it matters? Not usually. Do I pray expecting God to answer? Uh….maybe sometimes.

Sadly, I have to admit that my approach to prayer is very vanilla and lightweight.  When I take the time to pray, I lob softballs to God. I use the excuse that I am just too busy to really pray. But I make time to check Facebook and play cookie jam on my phone. That must make God sad too.

Recalling that day, I realize what an honor and privilege it was to spend time in prayer with my Tanzanian brothers and sisters. They taught me so much as they demonstrated how important prayer is to them and their work. They know they serve a Big God and they talk with Him openly and honestly – like it matters.

A little bit of Heaven moved that Friday morning because God was listening.

Pray like it matters, because it does.

 

Let’s Walk Worthy!

photo credit: dailyverses.net

 

 

The Collector

The  room is filled with the most beautiful  bottles you can imagine. Various shapes and sizes; all sealed with elaborate stoppers, not inexpensive twist-tops. They stand side by side, filling shelf after shelf. The shelves encircle the room  floor to ceiling. There are too many to count! The bottles are transparent enough to see that they are filled to the top; each and every one of them.IMG_9474

The door opens and the Collector enters. He has come for another bottle. Upon entering the room, His Brilliance illuminates everything inside. You and I would need to shield our eyes from the intensity, but the Collector carries on with His work unfazed. In one hand, He carries a book.  His other hand is closed tightly, like He is protecting something precious.  Approaching the bottles, He places the book aside for a moment.  His attention is on a particular bottle as He lifts off the stopper. He moves about slowly; His mood appears somber.  What could cause the Collector to be sorrowful?

 

IMG_9472 2

Then the Collector raises His hand above the bottle and releases its contents. Out of His hand and into the bottle pours a steady stream of a sparkling but clear liquid. The Collector studies the flow as if He recognizes each individual droplet. As He closes the bottle, He slowly bows His head. Gradually, He brings the bottle up to eye level and with a tilt of His head, nods, as if to say He understands.

         You keep track of all my sorrows.

        You have collected all my tears in your bottle. Psalm 56:8

The Collector then turns His attention to the thick book. He flips through the worn and yellowed pages revealing line after line of entries.  Using only the tip of His finger, He goes about recording this new entry.

Date: May 31, 2016   The tears collected saying goodbye to Jackline.

I remember that day! At the end of our special day together, Jackline and I both cried. I brushed away her tears as my own tears rapidly fell. There were so many of them; it was a busy day for the Collector.  He helped me to my feet when I thought it would be impossible to stand. He was there; gathering all those tears into His loving hands. I remember my deep sadness. IMG_8075

The Collector pauses and flips back several pages.

His book reveals numerous entries during September 1993 and November 2000. Yes, many bottles were filled during those seasons. Entry: Parents’ Home-Going

          You have recorded each one in your book.  Psalm 56:8

Again, the Collector pauses; He remembers too.

As He surveys the room, He can recall each time He has entered this room and filled another bottle with my tears. Tears from the dark days.  Tears following harsh words and unkind actions. Tears brought on by death and life. Tears collected when I thought no one else was around. But the Collector was always there. I was never alone when my tears fell. They were gathered into the caring hands of the Collector.

One day, “He will wipe every tear from my eye. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

And all those beautiful bottles will be empty.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Big God

There is magic in long-distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more profound. ~Diana Cortes

Pulkeria is my friend. An uncommon name for an uncommon lady. Our friendship shrinks the geographical distance between us. It also manages to minimize the cultural and language differences too. I was reunited with my dear friend during my second trip to Tanzania. We both squealed with joy at our reunion, like two teenage girls at a One Direction concert.

A single rose can be my garden….a single friend, my world. ~Leo Buscaglia

Pulkeria traveled 12 hours, one way, on a body-jarring bus. She lives in a coastal city where the temperatures are high and hot. As friends do, I teased Pulkeria about her many layers of clothing since the temperature on this day was near 80 degrees.  And as true friends do, she returned the teasing by asking me if I was cold throughout the day. 🙂

Pulkeria and I had time to catch up as we traveled throughout Arusha National Park searching for animals that I only see in zoos.  She had seen some of the animals before but I took pleasure in seeing the incredible animals through her eyes. It was a precious experience. She was enjoying the beauty of her country; away from the hard realities of poverty for one lazy afternoon. Between the giraffe and zebra sightings, we shared, questioned, and challenged one another. It is an honoring opportunity to be stretched by a true friend.IMG_7843

We laughed a lot too. Our guide and driver, both male,  would occasionally turn around when they heard giggling coming from the back of the safari jeep. We did what girlfriends do – we poured into each other’s life. It was a delightful day.

When I knew the day was coming to a close and the dreaded good-byes were on the horizon, I asked Pulkeria how I could pray for her. I will not forget her response. She said it with a sincere but heavy heart. She said she needed a BIG God. Her life was filled with so many challenges as a mother of 5 and as acting Director at a large Compassion Center that serves 300 impoverished children. Yes, she wanted and needed a BIG God. Big problems = Big God.

She shared how she struggles with trying to solve everyone’s problems and answering everyone’s questions. She doesn’t know how to balance her family, work, and life responsibilities. She realizes the only way to keep her family functioning, her marriage flourishing, and her Center running is to have a Big God in her corner 24/7.

Pulkeria needed a big God. A big God for when she looks into the hungry eyes of the many children that surround her. A big God when families at her Center come to her with marriage problems, when she faces her Center’s critical needs for more classrooms and modern toilets, and when a mother pleads for groceries to feed her family.

Pulkeria was stretching me again.  I wondered how big is my God? How big does He need to be? Without the complicated challenges of living in a still-developing country, perhaps my God doesn’t need to be super-sized. Do I really need a big God in my suburban life full of excess? If I live small, think small, dream small, then my God will stay small. My faith will be small.

Shame on me. Shame on me for limiting God and missing out on everything Big that my God has to offer: a big life, big dreams, big love, and a big faith. Shame on me for keeping my Big God small. Shame on me for confining my Big God to my small life.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12 NIV

No, there is nothing small about our God. He is only limited by my foolish and fearful restraints. Shame on me.

Yes, Pulkeria is my friend. I am thankful for this magical and profound long-distance friendship. Pulkeria will always have my love, my respect, my admiration, and my prayers. I pray she senses His Presence and sees the Shadow cast by our Big God. Then she will know her Big God is very close.

Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.  ~Washington Irving

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

tug of war

Writer’s block: when the words won’t come. That’s not my problem. I can think of words, plenty of words. Lots and lots of bottled-up words.  My struggle is how to convey the emotions behind the words. How do I connect the words with the myriad of feelings? There is a tug of war between my head and my heart. Facts vs. Feelings. To share, deeply share, will bring tears. A flood, perhaps. What will happen if I remove my finger from the dike? Will the tears ever stop?

My husband and the Compassion Team spent a week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. My week was spent on the dusty back roads and in the modest homes of Tanzanian families. What I witnessed was too hard, too unfair, too sad, too lovely, too everything.  At times, it seemed more challenging than climbing to 19,500 feet. The Team had to struggle for each breath at the high altitude. On ground level, I was struggling to make sense of everything around me; leaving me breathless at times.

To remain silent serves no justice and ignores the significance of  my new friendships and my unique experiences. I want to tell their stories with dignity and love. Yet, I fear my one-dimensional words will sound empty, flat, vanilla, small, and lifeless. Have you ever experienced something so beautiful, so unique, so precious, so life-changing that mere words were totally inadequate? I hope you have or will someday. Maybe my responsibility is to humbly tell you whom I met and how they changed me. Perhaps it will cause you to pause and think.

On this Father’s Day, I will begin with Samuel. I met Samuel at a Compassion Center in Tanzania. A tall, lanky young man dressed in worn black pants, white shirt and black jacket.  Samuel spent the afternoon demonstrating the welding, woodworking, and sewing skills he had perfected at the Center. Then I had the privilege to visit Samuel’s home.

Samuel is of the Maasai tribe and he is the man of the house. His parents died when he was young. He currently lives with his very ill grandmother in their mud-dung hut in a small Maasai village on the outskirts of town. Samuel would be considered a ‘modern’ Maasai because he lives near a town and is not nomadic.

To get to the small village, we drove part of the way and walked the rest. I was invited into the dark and smokey home. I humbly offered a prayer through translation for the grandmother’s broken leg and infected eyes. Outside, I found Samuel near his chicken coop. He is also an entrepreneur; raising a flock of chickens. I asked my guide if he would translate a message to Samuel. I sensed the heaviness on this young man’s shoulders. He has to be the man of the house and care for his sick grandmother. When she dies, then what? What does his future hold?IMG_9409

I put my hand on his shoulder and I offered encouragement as best I could; relying on God to put His words in my empty mouth.  I spoke of God’s Promises, to never leave him nor forsake him. I praised him for his skills and his work ethic. I told him it was OK to be scared.  I told him how proud I am of him and all that he is doing as the man of the house. I told him he is loved.

I gave Samuel a hug and then I left. This is where it doesn’t seem right. This is the part that really messes with my heart and my head. Tug of war. Is that it? Isn’t there more I can do or should do? How do I process this experience?  How do I comprehend what I just witnessed in this village?

My heart takes a picture. I walk away but Samuel stays in my heart and my prayers. God understands my facts vs. feelings tug of war. He gets me and all my many struggles.

Samuel means “God has heard”. I must trust that Almighty God has heard. He has heard and He cares and He loves Samuel so very much.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

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