Friday, September 11, 2015

my {sin}

I used to think that people who spoke about their sin were missing the point of grace and freedom in Christ.  I used to say to myself, “They need to get over that – they’re wasting their time grieving while they should be worshipping”.  But maybe grieving over sin is worshipping.  And maybe I thought that way because I hadn’t ever tasted the bitter death of my own sin.  My shortcomings and failures and blatant acts of rebellion were just something that I asked Jesus for forgiveness for, blocked out, and then moved on from.  I never truly sat in my mess and let myself look at my sin-stained heart.  Did I have lust?  I would ask God to cleanse my mind.  Did I have unrighteous anger?  I would ask God to calm me.  Did I speak dishonestly or too soon?  Were my words filled with venom as I hurt those around me?  I asked God to change my behavior.  Did I deliberately disobey my parents?  I would ask God to help me do better. 

My pleas with my Maker were empty.  I asked Him to change my sin-wrecked behavior the moment I felt I was doing something wrong.  But that’s it.  I would ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and move on before I ever let myself look deeply into my heart of sin. 

I viewed sin as a threat against my reputation, not as a deep wound to the Father’s heart.  And as my eyes gazed inward, sin seemed harmful, but easy enough to overcome. 

And when the view is on yourself, sin can never be shared.  What if they find me out?  What if they look at me differently because of the awful sins I have committed?  Paranoid and self-consumed, vulnerability feels like death.  We avoid it at all costs, we fear it, and in the midst of it all, we forget that everyone sins. 

But when my eyes are on my Maker, I see sin differently.  I see it as it is – ugly and appalling and altogether hurtful.  I see that I have failed miserably, and that I am so in need of Him.  And I see grace.  Because when you taste that bitter death of your own sin, you can taste His goodness and His grace that much more intensely.  And when you give up on trying to keep your fa├žade of an altogether-life, the Lord gets more glory.  And when you share what He has brought you through, and the things that you’re still battling, others get to see Him too. 

But when you pretend like you have it altogether, you shove Christ off His rightful pedestal, and you struggle to maintain it.  You get pride catalytic glory from people who admire your fake righteousness, and you send the message to those who are struggling that they should probably live close to perfection if they know Jesus. 

That’s not my Jesus.  My Jesus came to heal the sick, and I am one of them.  All glory be to Him!  For I am a sinner.  But I have been saved by grace alone, and this has nothing to do with me.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

set our hearts upon {truth}

For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.

Hebrews 4:12-13

Friday, March 27, 2015

let's go {deep}

Spend time with God.  Pray to Him.  Talk to Him.  Be in His presence.  Enjoy Him.  Enjoy the things He made.  Spend time with His people.  Get to know their stories (you know, the ones He authored).  Go deep.  Read His Word.  Be excited about what He's doing.  Let yourself be a part of what He's doing.  Rejoice! Be thankful.  Meet new people (you know, people He created).  Be thankful for the body of Christ.  Be thankful for the hippi who gave you stickers at a gas station.  Praise Him.  Praise Him in the flat tires and the "oops, that wasn't supposed to happen"'s.  Praise Him in the Grand Canyon.  Praise Him in the stories of suffering and heartache and abuse (you know, the ones that He ordained). Ask for forgiveness from Him.  Ask forgiveness from His people (you know, for the times where you were frustrated and stubborn).  Be thankful for life (you know, the one He gave you).  Be excited about the spontaneous.  Be ready to forgive.  Show grace.  Love a lot.  Experience life in Him (you know, life abundant).  Laugh about the inside jokes, the funny quotes, and the awkward conversations.  Be thankful for the black sky, icy, night, mountain roads.  Be thankful for the wind and the sunshine and the snow and the rain.  Be thankful for the sore body aches.  Be thankful for the hikes and the "not-so" hikes.  Be thankful for the lack of sleep.  Be thankful for the long days and the short ones. Be thankful for the sixteen states and the two countries.  Be thankful for paint spilled on the roof and bananas smeared across windows.  Be thankful for the USA and the UAE.  Be thankful for the exhaustion and the need to "shake it off".  Praise Him here.  Praise Him there.  Praise Him in every moment (you know, the ones He is sovereign over).

 Katie buried in the back - good sport!

 Mount Rushmore

 for the UAE!

 Thanks for all the laughs, Elise!

 Columbia River Gorge!

 Joshua Tree, CA

 Joel enjoying street tacos

 Roof painting

 Sweet, sweet friends

 Grand Canyon oasis

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

and so I {weep}

10 December 2014
I received another pain stricken e-mail this morning.  Another infant dead.  One to add to the list of children that I had already been grieving.

Was I even justified in mourning the loss of children I hadn’t known?  Of little ones whose families hadn’t been my own, but who had been living under the roof of my dear friends for the past several months? 

Each breath was a battle.  Breathe in, breathe out – these little, rapid movements were taking over their entire bodies.

They told me that when they held her up to the light, they could see through her tiny body covered in a thin layer of translucent skin.

Who was God in these moments?  Who was God when babes suffered and infants died?  Who was God in these moments?

August 2014 
I had been in bed when I received the news.  The chickungunya that had plagued my frail body had left me unable to get out of bed, let alone deliver babies in those weeks.  She walked by my bed stealthily, as if she didn’t want me to know of her presence.  I asked her how she was; I knew this girl well, having lived with her for over a month, yet I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering her. 

“Elda, ki sa te fe?” 


Nothing, she quickly whispered.  Nothing had happened.  I knew better.

“Dada, di mwen.”

She paused.  “Yon gason te mouri.” 

A baby boy had died.  I hadn’t been there, in the clinic, when the child was born dead, but the pain hit me still.  I wept.  My body was too weak to get up and go see the family, so I laid there ill, praying that the God that I knew could heal broken hearts, would carry mine and heal those of the family. 


3 February 2015
Today I received another heart-stinging message.  My dear friend, Bailey gave me the news that baby Sherry is dead.  She died this morning in heart surgery.  

We had rallied around this child.  Bailey had campaigned for her surgery; we all, as the body of the Lamb, came together and prayed over this one.  We prayed and we gave money, and it was a miracle. She, a child of a pastor in Ghana, was going to have heart surgery.  She was going to be healed.  She was a miracle.  Then she died.  In the middle of the very thing that was to save her.  

Who is God in these moments?  Who is God when babes suffer and infants die?  Who is God in these moments?

I wept.  I read the text on my phone as I left the Founder's Week session this morning, and tears started falling down my face. One by one, I wiped them off and asked God to let this bring intimacy.  I felt His peace and I somehow made it back to my dorm without crying another tear.  Then I fell on the ground and knelt before the One whose love is constant, and I wept.  I wept over this child.  I wept over her family.  I wept over Bailey because I know the helplessness felt and the pain that we don't feel is justifiable.  She wasn't our child.  She wasn't even "related" to us.  And I wept because I do not want this to be wasted.  

My God is good - here.  This pain brings intimacy with the Father who loves us and loves that baby more than human comprehension can contain.  This is not to be wasted.  I will weep because I know the great loss that this family is enduring.  I will weep because I know the Father's heart is broken too.  I will weep because my adopted mother, Carol Ann, once told me that it is a sad thing if you cannot weep in front of your Savior.  Ask the Lord to take out the bitter wall that is telling you that you are too strong to weep over a child you did not know.  

More than anything, I will taste His goodness here.  

He is good.  His character is unchanging.  

Please pray for Sherry's family, friends, and community.  Pray for Bailey and the other hurting missionaries in Ghana.