Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Only Hope

His words;"One thing is certain--He is calling you--calling you to give your all.", they say it all.

The lines blur as I read John Lello's words from March 2010. I can't help but weep...
Please, keep his family in prayer.

"Friend, will you lose your life for Christ? It’s your only hope of really living. Won’t you join us in answering God’s call? Perhaps He is calling you to give your life for the unreached. Maybe He is touching your heart with our mission to the Ama people and calling you to support us with your means and prayers. But one thing is certain—He is calling you, calling you to give your all. "--John Lello           

Your only hope of really living...

 He is calling.             

Saturday, August 25, 2012

His Joy

As the miles slip past my window, as the scenery morphs from green to desert and back again, and as the sun slips high in the sky, then sets behind the mountains in a wild rim of colors only to frame the moon hours later, the reality that some changes are irreversible, that what was may never be again, that what is may not be what will be, follows me. During this ten day cross-country trip spent with my family, memories of the past travel with me...And at first I try to cling to what was, to the life that feels like just yesterday was still mine--still ours.
But I see siblings seated close and I see me and I see how seasons change; just like the view out my window. And just because what was may never be ours again, just because what is and what lies just ahead seems darker than the view out my rear-view window, I must ever remember that there is One who never changes, One who never seals off a season of our lives a second too soon, One who never takes away without giving better in exchange. A God who keeps His promises. every.single.time.

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"-Romans 8:32

Freely. He gives it all. Gladly. Joyfully. Over and over.

This God who gave up His only Son, who counted life not worth living without us; traitors of His heart, He moves heaven and earth to reveal His good intention towards us. Time, and time again.

We shun Him, and He shields us still.
We reject Him, and He redeems us still.

His rejoicing, His happiness, is found in our "uplifting and redemption."
He knows that in Him, our future will always be brighter than our past. He wants His future to be our future, His joy, to be our joy.

"God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays of light from the sun, like the streams of water bursting from a living spring, blessings flow out from Him to all His creatures. And wherever the life of God is in the hearts of men, it will flow out to others in love and blessing.

Our Saviour’s joy was in the uplifting and redemption of fallen men. For this He counted not His life dear unto Himself, but endured the cross, despising the shame. So angels are ever engaged in working for the happiness of others.

This is their joy. That which selfish hearts would regard as humiliating service, ministering to those who are wretched and in every way inferior in character and rank, is the work of sinless angels. The spirit of Christ’s self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss. This is the spirit that Christ’s followers will possess, the work that they will do."
Steps To Christ, pg. 77

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Like Bob

"...And the cause which I knew not, I searched out."

Could it be, that those dearest, closest, to the heart of God, are furthest from ours?

My sister and I,  we share prayer requests late in the night, me in the little back closet so as to not wake the others, her in her dorm room hundreds of miles away. Some old requests, some new. And the newest one, it pierces deep pain into me.

She tells of the community in the middle east who have waited 6 years (6 years!!!) for their school to be built. At some point a group had committed to fund the project, but at the last minute changed their minds and left the locals waiting. And waiting. I promise to pray, ask her to keep me updated, but the pain deepens when she calls back, says that those she contacted, hoping they would offer to help, offered only words.

Who wants words when what's needed is works?

It's words lived out that count, not words spelled out. Words empty of action hold no weight--except the weight of the pain of countless forgotten and unnamed faces, the inconsequential ones, the causes that with them bring no recognition or acknowledgement.

"...And the cause which I knew not, I searched out."

I think of those closed-countries spanning continents, and how I hardly ever hear them spoken of in our big conferences and churches and meetings and prayer groups, and much less so in our daily lives. Those thousands of souls...Those who heaven waits to hear mentioned and prayed over and fought for, unceasingly, unwearingly.

O God, who hears their cries? Where are the Job's who seek out the causes that others pass by as too lowly?

How many of the causes, the ministries, the individuals we choose to claim as our own and support with prayers and friendships and money are influenced by what we might gain in return, instead of what we might give, period?

The truth we claim as ours is beautiful, but were we blessed with the truth just to enjoy it amongst ourselves? Have we forgotten of Luke 16, of the beggar named Lazurus outside our gate?
Could it be that what's popular within our christian circles isn't popular to the only One who matters? It was so in Jesus' day, why would we think it to be different now?

"Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."

We are constantly warned of the dangers of the world, the outside influences, but I wonder if we realize the more subtle and much more deadly dangers of the influences within our church? The dangers of getting comfortable and cacooning ourselves in truth, protecting us from the "evils" outside? Of holding on to truth instead of chasing after the darkness, setting souls free?

Are we so busy creating a piece of heaven here on earth that we've forgotten that it's in losing our lives that we find heaven in our hearts?

Could it be that the "broad way" is found not only in  the way of the world, but anywhere that a life of ease and comfort is sought? Have we forgotten that Jesus had nowhere to lay His head? That He lived and breathed to serve the forgotten and neglected? Why should our lives look any different?
Did He bear a cross so that we wouldn't have to, or is He really our example in all things?

If we as His professed followers truly cared as we ought, would malaria still exist? Have we forgotten that it was here once too? Just because it doesn't cross our shores anymore, does that mean it doesn't matter anymore? How many more needless deaths will occur before we stop caring about our clothes and gadgets and our words of "truth", and instead live out the gospel?...

On any given Sabbath, I can easily be at 5 different Adventist churces in the span of 15 minutes, and that number is just a quick mental count--there are more than that. And atleast 4 of those 5 churches hold multiple worship services in the span of a few hours, just to accomadate the sheer number of members. But 15 minutes further out, I find myself downtown, where a little rented baptist church building holds some of the most devote and evangelistic hearts I have ever met. A few years back a church plant, it grew thanks to these same faithful souls, along with some certain young people from my university. At one point, it became the "it" church to go to for people I've identified with my whole life (and still do); the "conservative" Adventist young people. And the faithful members welcomed one and all, and the church grew and there were some wonderfully dedicated young people who made a huge impact for good in that church. But as with all trends, when those certain key leaders of that group of young people graduated and went back to their home states, the tide shifted... elsewhere. And my heart broke. Broke for that little church that gave and gave, and were left with less than what they started with.

And I can count on one hand the number of young people who stayed. And what I find so interesting? After all the excitement and hype died away, and only the ones who truly were there because they saw the great need downtown remained, that is when people from off the street, from the heart of the city, found a welcoming home and made it their own. That little church across the river, the one with at best 25 regulary attending, has more recent converts actively involved and growing in their relationship with Jesus than any of the other area churches in proportion to their size, if not in every way. That church is doing a beautiful work...But it could be doing so much more, if only a few hearts from those churches with the multiple services, would step out of the comfortable and make a struggling church their mission field. Why is that such a hard thing? Why must the elderly be the ones to carry the burden of that little church? 95% are over the age of 65. There's maybe 4 other young people besides me in my age range--half of them new converts.

Where are the young families that are willing to fill the empty classrooms with happy children? Why must the handful of children from outside the church who we bring be robbed of the fellowship they could enjoy if only hearts rich with knowledge mere minutes away, mingling among themselves, focused on out-reach instead of in-reach? Might not more of our youth be staying in our churches as adults if they were taught to reach-out instead of getting comfortable?

Why is it that with all our talk of missionary work and evangelistic work and medical work, the areas that most need our help stand bent and weary and abandoned?

I fear many hearts are waiting in vain for God to move mightly in a corporate way. Sadly, as much as I love the big meetings and seminars and conventions, and as much as I'll keep supporting and attending and advocating for them, I firmly believe that it's not in the big, corporate events where the  transformation that needs to happen is going to happen (is already happening). By the time it's evident to our church as a whole that God is pouring out His Spirit, it will only be an outflow of what has already been going on in the corners of the globe where no flashy promo or trendy mantra announced it's beginning.  Truth in it's purity, the heart-work that must be accomplished before He can return, will it ever be trendy? At the end of the day, could it be that what God needs most is the quiet heart-work that only happens apart from the bright lights and cameras and masses of people? Could it be possible to get so caught up in the big, that we forget the small? Could it be that we have it all reversed?

Have we forgotten Jesus and the 11 disciples? Yes, the Bible is full of beautiful testaments to the huge numbers of hearts that can turn to Him in a day, but before that, how big was the group at Pentecost? And before Pentecost, how many smaller groups had there been? And how popular were the handful of Jesus-followers to the mainstream spiritual community? And when the 70, and the thousands came to the truth, did they all stick together and enjoy their Jesus, or did they scatter to the four winds with the irresistible love that compelled them to GO? 

In the midst of all my ranting and raving to God from the frustrations that have boiled over into hours and days; I hear a still small voice.
The whisper of a God who knows out of all the people I feel might be hindering His cause, I am actually the most guilty. Late one night as my frustration drains into heavy sadness, He reminds me of the huge beam in my own eye, and my need of not focusing on the perceived speck in my neighbors'. He cares for the unknowns and forgotten more than I will ever comprehend, and He saw me eager to point out where others were supposedly falling short, and quietly asks why, if I cared so much, I did nothing for 5 years for that little church across the river, why I didn't spend more nights in prayer pleading for the unnamed countries and faces and ministries, and why I had gotten upset when very few people greeted a couple that had never visited the church before, when I myself didn't welcome them, and on and on... 

For years, I refused to regularly attend that little church with my sisters, blaming the pretense and cliques and popularity games as my reason for not getting involved. I saw the need, but let people get in the way of Jesus. There will always be insincere individuals, but who put me as judge? Can I read hearts? Who am I to say anything at all about anyone?

Yes I am young and yes I am inadequate and yes like Jeremiah felt I feel as though I have nothing of value to offer, no words or wisdom or whit, and pretense and agendas make me squirm, but if I'm truly seeking souls, if self is not being sought but Christ, how hard is it to squeeze a hand, tap a shoulder, whisper out happiness at seeing someone, regardless of the intentions of others? How hard?

 In these past few months of regularly attending that little church, the one that is struggling to pay the rent and where there are rumors of darker days ahead, I am finding a hunger to do. To be the difference, not point fingers, not just see the need. But do, however meager my doing may be.

I smile just thinking of it, of how that couple that my shyness kept me from greeting, came back. I thought I had missed my chance with them forever, but I had promised God that by His grace I wouldn't let another opportunity slip through, and I begged Him to give me another chance with them. After a few Sabbaths, through the doors they came, and my heart raced. Hah-- again I looked around hoping others would greet them. I even nudged my mom and asked her to please make sure to say hi...but suddenly what I once thought was so incredibly hard to do, in my eagerness to have them know they were noticed and appreciated, I found myself slipping into their pew, and o how a simple hello and smile can make a world of difference in a persons day! And how easy it was to do! I don't know if they'll ever come back, but what I do know is that there's no room in God's kingdom for timidity, only boldness. Boldness hinged on love.

And even now my eyes fill with tears, as I think of Bob, who during the praise and prayer request time of our service, after some had mentioned financial concerns and family concerns and health concerns, raises his hand from the audio-booth in the very back, and says "I'm asking God for one more soul to witness to this week. One more soul. Please help me pray for that."

Bob, one of the newest members, who not long ago was baptized...who already knows more Bible-truths than I do--lives more Bible-truth than I do--, he wants souls. That was his only request.
And another member mentions that they thought he was already giving lots of Bible studies? And his quiet response makes me cry. "Yes, but I want more."
And long after potluck has started I notice he still hasn't come downstairs, and wonder when he will, and when everyone's almost done I see him slip into a chair and I slyly eavesdrop.
They ask him where he's been and what's taken so long and they thought something had happened to him, and again in his quiet, unassuming way he states that he was talking with one of the members Jesus-talk, and how one doesn't think about eating when they're in the middle of making plans for Jesus. And that's just a paraphrase of his humble words, but what moves me so deeply is not his words or his talents. He holds no claim to charm or elegance or special skills. It's the spirit of God, the transforming grace so unmistakably etched into his being that makes me want to weep.
He loves God. He lives and breathes God. And when he speaks, his words but belie what is already evident in his life.
"...And the cause which I knew not, I searched out."

It's people like Bob that make me love Jesus more. It's people like Bob, that care nothing for pretence or praise or popularity, but care instead for the cross and Christ and carrying the love of Jesus anywhere and everywhere he goes. It's people like him that make me want to be the change I've waited to see happen in our church. Bob isn't waiting. Bob isn't pointing fingers. Bob is living out the gospel. I want to be like him.

[I write all these incoherent questions and heart-aches and sentences and thoughts all running together because I must... I write this for me. I see my lack and it is great and I see my Savior and He is greater than all my lack. His mercy reaches even me.]

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"
Ps. 139:23,24

"God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty . . . that no flesh should glory in his presence."
1 Cor. 1:27-29.

"The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”— simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold and shape us."
-Oswald Chambers

Monday, June 18, 2012


Early June, between the hued edges of dusk and dawn, I saw it. There, in my hands.

I held it still.

But God...I thought I had already surrendered it..., I told Him, blinking hard, half hoping I was seeing wrong, had heard Him wrong. But no, my eyes- my heart - echoed His truth.

He had breathed but one word into my soul, so clearly.


I had seen it then... I saw that I held it still. And I knew what He was asking of me. Not that I hadn't surrendered it before. But He is always -will always- be calling me deeper. Would I go deeper?..

 I looked up that word;



Voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.

abandon - renounce - give up - quit - waive - leave

Could I abandon my treasure to Him? The treasure I thought I had already given up? Did I realize He was asking for not just access to my life, to my treasure, but for unconditional surrendering, giving up, of every area of my life? What would my answer be?...

The beauty of saying yes to God, is that with each new yes, the next yes becomes easier.

When you realize your hands are way too small for what you had been trying to hold on to, and you renounce any and all ownership and authority over it, placing it instead into the same hand that guides Venus across the sun, it unharmed, you realize that your treasure is safest when it's not yours, but His, the Consuming Fire that burns through you only to heal you, and not to harm.

You realize, that the only things that are fire-proof are those which are His, and if you are fully His, then you are fully safe.

 In this journey of unconditional surrendering, this relinquishing of every right to any and all parts of me, I'm finding the sweetest kind of happiness....And I know it's just the beginning, this joy-journey deeper into His heart--the only Treasure worth everything.

"It is a mercy that our lives are not left for us to plan, but that our Father chooses for us; else might we sometimes turn away from us the choicest and loveliest gifts of His providence"
- Susannah Spurgeon

"If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you-- and His  experiments always succeed."

"Put no conditions on your life--let Jesus be everything to you, and He will take you home with Him not only for a day, but for eternity."
Oswald Chambers

And eternity is so, so near.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Am

Would that this heart of mine wasn't perpetually bending into detour mode; would that I always trusted in the Hand that has yet to give more than one can bear... would that I never caused His heart sadness from my lack of quiet rest in His good intention for those dearest...

But although I often slip into quiet despair, He who is Quiet Rest finds His way into my heart time and time again, and daily moment-by-moment He reminds me Who He is. Not just with words.


Early one Tuesday morning I pick my mom up from the airport, her having arrived safely from South America. As I pull out her suitcase and bring it up our stairs I sigh relief, and there, at 3am, He pulls at my heart. Trust Me.

Not forty-eight hours later, I wake to find a smiling face bending over mine, one I all to often let my fears tell me I wouldn't get to see again, him having driven through the night after arriving from Afghanistan to surprise us. Thank you God, Thank you God....Thank you God! are the first whispered words out of my mouth, my face in my hands. And as I reach out and embrace the brother who's name means prayed for, who was prayed for even before he was born, He reaches me, this God who astounds me daily at His heart of love.  Trust Me.

And I am so grateful... grateful that my brother made it home safely. Not all brothers make it home after 4 deployments. And yet I can't help aching over the things I don't even know about, that he's had to see and do and hear over there, the things I may never know about...and renewed despair wants to settle into me, but again, His words settle over me. Trust Me.

Four days later sister Diana arrives safely from Africa, and at last our family is down to one continent after being stretched across four.

Two days later I pack up our Ford and as the miles clip past, and the distance between us and our destination falls away,  I plead with God to make the distance between my heart and His, the distance I've created, fall away too. I plead with him to help me see these days of change and transition as He sees them. (Matthew 6)

South Carolina welcomes us with rain showers and as we settle into our hotel, I wonder at my wandering heart;how worry can blind out hope. And sleep evades my evading soul.

Wide awake at four the next morning, I try to connect with this God who I do not understand. The heaviness inside is deeper than the muggy air outside. And I read how Jesus "...never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others."

Do I trust in what God's grace can do for others?...Or do I trust my own understanding of what God's grace should look like.

Hours later, as we drive the two miles on to Parris Island, through beauty that cuts deep, I sense His love deeper still. I am here. Trust Me. One hand on the steering wheel, the other on my phone, I pause to capture a piece of the One who has captured me.

And minutes later I get to see the brother I haven't seen in 13 weeks, who in spite of Pneumonia and dental surgery complications successfully completed training, and while worrying about both brothers night and day comes much easier to me than letting God carry the burden, merciful as He is, He reminds me this beautiful Thursday morning, that the past and future are His, and only the present mine to hold.
And He is present. And I smile long at Adrian, and remember to number the mercies that brought us each here.  "He trusted absolutely in what God's grace could do for others." I want that absolute trust.
And I see the smiles on their faces, friends that travelled 14 hours to show their support to a young man who's never known what it is like to have a father-figure that believes in him-until now- and I blink back tears all day, me trying to wrap my mind around a love like theirs.
And the next day, Friday June 1, the day of his graduation, I'm still numbering them, the harmony of gifts that make the present crowd out the dissonance of worries. Another friend, taking time off work, takes time to smile with Adrian, him being a faithful friend to this new Marine since they met many years ago.
My two brothers and our two friends, they smile and laugh long, and I think longer still on the goodness of God.

And all too soon it's time to say goodbye, us girls needing to make it back home to feed Kitty.
I'm too overwhelmed with this God that cares for the sparrow to be able to sleep, so my mother and sister rest, while I talk to Him as I drive down I-75.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. ...

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ...

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."

And 4 hours from home, He again pulls back a bit more of the curtain, and through the seen I catch a glimpse of the unseen God, the setting sun aflame.

Open your eyes. I am everywhere. Even in your deepest darkest pit; here I am. 

I love your family more than you do...They are mine. I am here. 

I will not leave... Why question Me when you can't understand My ways? Why not trust Me?

Do the cares of this life hold your heart, or does my care hold you?...

Do not dread tomorrow.

Seek first My Kingdom... Seek Me first... Open your eyes. I am everywhere. I am here.

Seek Me. First.

I will never leave.

"God will be to us everything we will let Him be."~ OHC, pg. 131

"Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I will never tire of thanking God for my mother, who's painted through her life-canvass one of the most beautiful pictures of Christ I have ever seen, in spite of experiencing suffering beyond what most people can imagine.

It's been 6 years since she was forced out of her home and marriage. And for years I have wondered how she endured those 25 years with someone so cruel, how she isn't bitter and hardened and angry, how the pain hasn't swallowed her whole. And all I can think is, it's because she's wholly swallowed up in the Shadow of the Almighty.

It's her resilience that sets her apart. Resilience that comes from spending numberless hours of head cradled in tear-soaked pillow and knees knelt in prayer to the only One who can fathom her anguish. Gentle as the dew, our mother has remained steel-resolved in her commitment to serve the One she came to know as a 23 year old.

Her heart was broken countless times by the one she vowed forever to, but not her spirit. Instead of dwelling on her own bleeding heart, she etched into ours the importance of always living out 1Corinthians 13. This mother of mine, who when growing up planned to be a nun, instead ended up in America at seventeen years of age to support her family in Colombia...And 36 years later has 6 children, and no home to call her own-- but she is one of the most cheerful and generous people I know.

Now, twelve years since her last visit to Colombia, she's emailing us from there, thanks to a kind loved one who paid for her trip. And even in her short paragraph, I see in her words that heart that beats for others.

"At home with mom, like a dream...coming here reminds me a little of Romania...poverty and sadness and at the same time beauty and mercy in everyday stuff...praying for wisdom and love as the days go by...love you lots, mami."

I think back to Sunday night, and those words I scribbled and sneaked into her bag as I packed it, that  all-time favorite quote on motherhood, the one I keep writing to her every mothers day, 

 "When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened; when the 'well done' of the great Judge is pronounced, and the crown of immortal glory is placed upon the brow of the victor, many will raise their crowns in sight of the assembled universe and, pointing to their mother, say, 'She made me all I am through the grace of God. Her instruction, her prayers, have been blessed to my eternal salvation.' "

Truly, when by God's grace I enter into eternity, the truth of those words will be echoed from my lips.

And how I wish I could fully express what my mother means to me, but I cannot. As I sit in our room, I find my moms nursing school binder, and tucked inside I find my previous mothers day card, and my poet-brothers' handwritten note to her from Christmas 2007, and as I read his words, I can see why she keeps them with her, them more beautiful than anything I could ever say about our mother.


Your heart is a river, so
gently flowing, its love and 
compassion, no end in going.

Your eyes a portal, a mirror,
a reflection, of the One so immortal.

Your hands have labored so 
endlessly, results are producing,
so righteously.

Those who match the love of 
God are few, He gave His life for
me, and so have you.

For reflection, the sun has the 
moon, humankind has itself, and 
God has you. 

This Mothers day, although she will be thousands of miles away, her influence, her spirit, her ocean-heart of love, still reach across the expanse and fill my heart with gratitude, me so blessed beyond expression... And I pray that as she serves her family there, she knows how much she is loved and missed by her little ones here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Too Old?

Ever felt too old to attempt something new?

Me too.  And for several days I had been telling God just that--and was beginning to think He might be agreeing with me--until He drew very near and made me hush...

It was just yesterday, day five of a really long week, and I was beginning to feel that God must surely agree with my thought that I'm too old to try to memorize 5 verses a day. Not that I didn't think it was a good thing to do. I knew it was. Just for me it was too late in life to try something like that. Maybe I'll just go back to my 2 verses a week, and leave it those still in their formative years and those with really sharp minds, to pursue anything more than that.

The things we tell ourselves!

As I'm having this ongoing conversation with God about me being too old, I head out the door to study my verses and I was impressed to bring along the latest Adventist World that had just arrived in the mail that morning.

And the simple article that my eyes fell to on page 6-7was anything but coincidence. Not only was I incredibly blessed and encouraged by this humble farmers' words, but I was rebuked, in a good way.

Excuses. I make the silliest excuses for not doing something that isn't all that extreme, compared to others who spend 6 hours a day doing what I think I'm too old to do, and what they "...cannot help doing...".

Too old? Think again, Sara. He's exactly 3 times your age, spending 6 hours a day in His Word, and you're trying to convince God that you're presuming on Him by expecting Him to help you with 5 verses a day?...

Ahh, there's nothing like being put in ones place! I feel as if God is not only more than happy to help me in my endeavor to memorize more than 1 verse a day, but it's as if He's also saying Is that it?...Ephesians 3:20.

God is big. So much bigger than what we give Him credit for. No matter how small you may feel your faith to be, purpose in your heart to expect great things from Him.

Big faith, or little faith, God accepts either. And He honors and blesses either.

It's only been a week since I first considered joining this challenge, and already I have been blessed beyond what I expected...way beyond what this hesitant heart of mine deserves, simply from meditating day and night on words that were written just for us.

And it makes me smile deep down inside when I think this, of how much more excited He must be than us, seeing His little children captivated with Him more and more each day as we soak in His words...

And here I thought God had shown Himself very near yesterday??? Not a second after I wrote the above sentence, my "little" brother Sam, who in a few weeks starts on his 3rd deployment to Afghanistan, and who we haven't seen since New Years, knocked on our door!...This surprise visit is extra special...God knew we really needed it. This week has been a difficult one for us, as our other brother Adrian left for the Marines on Monday, and words fail to express how it's affected our family... But truly God is good. And faithful. And never, ever gives His children more than they can bear...
God's two greatest gifts to our family...please help us keep them in prayer?

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Read this Psalm. Slowly. Then follow this link, read it... and tell me, if you aren't soul-nourished.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." -Psalm 23-

His promise isn't for the valley to be our lot one day, and the next a day of goodness and mercy. The text says "... surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all they days of my life"

If today finds you in a valley, remember, there is goodness and mercy, even (especially?) in the valleys.

...He ever walks with us--what more could we want?...

Friday, January 20, 2012

For Today

We grew up on them, on the storybooks, the cassette tapes, the legends, of heroes who served tirelessly, who counted nothing too costly--not even life itself-- if only they could relieve one suffering child, enlighten one ignorant seeker, feed one hungry mouth, stop one blow of an oppressor ...they were our role models. The daily companions to six starry eyed and energetic children on 30 acres of Illinois farmland.
Surrounded by waving fields; corn on one side, soybeans on the other, we lived and breathed these mission stories. And we each had our own favorite heroes--but they all had one thing in common. They had served the least of the least. 

And some things, if learned in childhood, are never forgotten. And we had learned. Learned that someone, somewhere, had no love. No hope. And we had learned that to have "seeing eyes and willing hands" as our mom would gently sing it to us, to live out the gospel, meant to serve those that had less, that had nothing. We had learned that to love Christ meant to love those that had never heard of Him--and that love acts, it fills the need.

And as the years passed, the cassette tapes wore out and the books fell apart; but not my hopes, my dreams, to one day spend my days in a distant land.

I have longed. For so long.

But although these hopes, these dreams, this longing, it only grows, I am learning some new lessons.

No longer am I surrounded by 5 raven-haired siblings, cornfields high and soybeans low. No longer do cassette tapes lull me quiet on cold winter nights under blankets wool. But I am learning new lessons that make those early lessons all the sweeter, all the more dear.


Andrea, the sister I followed overseas 5 years ago, on the last night before she flies back to school, unable to contain herself any longer as we sit quietly on the sofa, brought up that word. Unreached. The unreached. For days there had been a building tension in the air between us both. This expectancy of something important needing to be shared, but we each waited for the other to initiate, us both knowing how deep this longing is, and how hard it is to keep it in check, both sensitive to the reality that to bring up the impossible is painful, and maybe it's best to leave it unsaid, seeing that the other has seemingly found some temporary relief from the near constant restlessness. But she dares, and within minutes we're in tears and talking eager, both in awe at how at the same time, unknown to the other, that longing that we had for a brief time effectively buried just a little deeper out of sight, had again resurfaced with greater and stronger force than ever before. Both in tears of relief that we hadn't caused the other undue pain in bringing up that unfulfilled desire, that instead the other heart too, ached like never before-- the other hadn't forgotten those dreams instilled as stories were read under bunk-bed and tree-house alike those many years past.

And we talk late into the night.

She flies to California.

And still, two weeks later we talk, cry, pray, over the phone day after day, needing each other, needing someone who understands the singular longing, needing to keep fresh that rekindled resolve to not give up on old dreams.

And it helps.

What we at first feared might create more restlessness, instead, in our renewed commitment, although still painful, although we long like never before to just go, together we're learning in a deeper way what it means to be content.
We are learning that the more we love those far away, the more of a burden He gives us for those who have never known His love: the more we see opportunities to serve Him here.

He truly has us in the States for a reason. Her in college, me here. Although in our minds we don't understand why He still says not yet, we are finding it easier and easier to trust. It's on Him. He's placed the burden on our hearts. He's stirred the embers of longing into a flame. Not us. So we can trust His timing. And whether He ever leads us overseas again or not, our love for those who don't know Him? We are finding that it helps us love those right in front of us even more, it helps us serve them more tenderly.

Overseas the needs are more visible. But here, it takes a keener eye. A more sensitive heart. At least for her and I...And He is sharpening our eyesight. Softening our hearts. And suddenly there is so much more. So many more needs to fill. So many more hearts to minister to here, in the moment. And each moment is gold.

I could write for hours. But of the many lessons being learned He's distilling them into one main theme.

That life is short. That each moment counts. That He never makes mistakes on time, and so there's no need to live for tomorrow, to long for something He hasn't given. Instead, to best honor those in far away lands, means to serve those He has placed right in front of us, today. And if we can learn to serve faithfully here, we free Him to better care for those far away, Him so much better able to care for them than us.

And although going overseas anytime soon is more impossible for us right now than it ever has been, we have never been so at peace about it. We have never been so content to serve Him here, right now, and fully--not out of a divided heart, robbing those nearest of our full attention. No. They too deserve our kindest words, our deepest compassion and God has called us to serve them; Him, today.

Today only is ours to minister to His people. Tomorrow isn't. If I truly lived as if today were my last day, it wouldn't matter if I were here or overseas. It would only matter if I loved much the souls He placed in my path for today.

Prov. 3:3-8