Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What good can come out of ????

For those of us with much biblical awareness we recognize that just about everything is upside down in Jesus' Kingdom perspective.  The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.  The wisdom of God is foolishness in the world.  The least is the greatest.  The poor are blessed and the rich are brought down.

God took me down one of those roads last week as I have been working on fundraising for Haiti.  I was scheduled to speak at a Mother/Daughter banquet at my aunt's church.  It is a little Presbyterian church in the little town of Cambria, about 400 people.  I wondered what God might be up to in this little, off the beaten path village.

I had traveled home from Holland, MI earlier that day, which is about a six hour trip. I showered, changed, gathered up my projection and computer equipment, plus brochures, jewelry I was selling, etc. and dashed off to Cambria, a 2 hour trip west, picking up my mom on the way.

I was weary, and thinking, "What good can come from Cambria?"  much like Nathanael asked when told by Philip, "We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the law, the one the prophets foretold, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!"   Nazareth, that little podunk village?  You are talking about the Messiah here! God wouldn't let the Messiah come from that scrappy little village, that nowhere.  Everyone needs to know that he is here...a little fanfare would help. Nazareth, ha.

I know better, but sometimes I get sucked into thinking I need to find people with lots of money, discretionary funds that they would be willing to invest in Haiti.  And there may be those people out there, but in my wiser moments I also realize it is usually the humble, the "nobodies from nowhere"  that have hearts open to God's spirit of generosity.

And so wearily I arrived in Nazareth...I mean Cambria, and met with about 35 wonderful sisters in Christ. We shared a meal, a potluck, with tables overflowing, and I shared my story of what God is doing through Help the Youth and Beautiful Response in Haiti.  Humble, compassionate, generous hearts were opened and the people of Haiti were blessed.  Three students will be able to go to school next year because people who have never met them care, people who had never met me before that evening opened their hearts and pocket books.

Once again I learned my lessons in the upside-downness of the Gospel.   My heart was warmed and I hope and pray that they will welcome me again.  Cambria is a good place for Jesus to show up and blessings to flow.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ice chips! So Yummy!

Last week I had a nasty bout of stomach flu.  Very possibly the worst episode of activity leading up to dehydration I've ever hard. (Wasn't that nicely worded :)  At 2:00 in the morning I wanted to guzzle glasses of water, but knew that my system wasn't ready for that. So I made Al get up and get me a glass of ice chips.

Oh my goodness! It tasted so good.  I would eat a spoonful of chips and then force myself to wait about 20 minutes to eat some more.  As I relished these delightful chips of cold clear water I thought, "If I never eat anything again but ice chips I'll be fine. I"ll never put anything in water again to change the taste, no tea, no coffee, no gatorade, nothing but cool clear water!

I know, a little overboard, but it was real in the moment.

My thirst led to thoughts about Jesus, the living water.  Jesus, the one who quenches our thirst.  I thought about what makes me spiritually thirsty.  How much do I long for more of Jesus?  What sets Jesus apart from from all other spiritual nourishment and refreshment? What wakes me up to my need for Jesus, the living water?  Do I long for what Jesus offers me?

Often I drink most deeply when I'm also weeping most deeply.  Perhaps tears of sorrow, but also tears of awe for the fact that Jesus is present, real.  For me it happens through worship times when the words of a song or hymn just connect with my spirit to nourish me, or the Scripture speaks into the longing of my heart, or convicts me of sins I need to deal with.  Sometimes in prayer with others the community is so strong and Jesus presence is so sweet it feels like fresh rain. And sometimes the chaos in the world is so overwhelming I long for the Living Water to flood over me, to lift me out of the fear and muck I feel mired in.  Living Water...always available to wash us clean, set us free, nourish our souls, quench our thirst.

I'm wondering when it happens for you?   When do you find yourself longing for the Living Water?  

Looking Ahead

This is a big year!  Our son, Cory, turns 40.  I turn 65. I know, those of you who know me can't believe it :)  and neither can I, and Al turns 70; even harder to believe...but all true!  How does this happen?

So we are acknowledging that, even though we are still working hard, we are in our "golden years." Multiple trips to Haiti each year, visits to our kids and grandkids in Australia.  Life that is full and rich, even in the midst of the current chaos in the country.

Then there is the reality that we need to plan ahead...without knowing how much "Ahead" there is; 10 years, twenty years, thirty years, tomorrow?  As we contemplate this our thoughts run to Haiti. How can we ensure that the work that is being done through Beautiful Response and Help the Youth continues.  We are not in this for the short-term!  The needs are long-term: and we have children who will need assistance to become all God has created them to be for many years.  We are in for the long-haul.

When God first turned our hearts back to Haiti we realized it would involve raising funds.  Our first response was, "But God, you know we are not good fund raisers!"  (Yep, God knew, and assured us he would be the provider we needed.)  Today we look back on God's faithfulness, and ahead realizing that we need to set up a trust or foundation to provide a base for the fundraising that will need to continue.

On the one hand that is very intimidating for us. Again, WAY out of our comfort zone!  On the other hand it is very exciting.  How will God provide?  Who will come forward to give?  What will this need to look like?  Where are the "cattle on a thousand hills" that God has reserved to help his children in Haiti?  Where will we get the boldness to invite people to be a part of something life changing for so many people?  How much, Oh Lord?  How many people will be blessed in the giving and receiving?

We are also mindful that we need to watch for the next generation of leaders to take on this ministry 5, 10, 15? years down the road.  Who will God raise up?  Who will find their calling in joining this partnership with our Haitian friends?  Who will fall in love with God's leaders as well as the children of Haiti?

Big questions...big challenges!  We need your prayers!  We need your eyes and ears.  Please join us in the quest for big hearts and the ability to invest emotionally, spiritually and financially in the work God is doing through Beautiful Response in Haiti.  So many of you are dear to our hearts.  We thank you for your love and support!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

More Prayer?

I am so excited about the opportunity I am having to bless and invest into the lives of "young" moms.  Friday one of them said, "Yeah, but I'm the oldest of the "young moms."  So perhaps I should say, "The next generation."  I get to be the mentor that Pat Doolittle, Christine Noorlaag, Jo Bush, Shirley Borgman, and so many others were to me; beautiful women who are/were a little farther down the road of life than me.

Friday some of us were meeting for a Bible Study. It was a semester break day, so there were children playing while we met. Sometimes people are tempted to cancel, or postpone when the kids will be with them.  I'm so glad we didn't on this Friday.  

Part way through the morning we paused for a time of listening as we did a guided imagery prayer. In the midst of our silence, from around the corner, we heard 6 year old Judah softly singing, "Change the atmosphere, build your kingdom here, we pray."  Sometimes that is what listening for God sounds like.

Mary has two little adopted boys from an eastern european country. They are 5-6 years old, and both have Down's Syndrome.  We had been meeting for about an hour and a half and Jonah, who is quite non-verbal, was ready to go home. He climbed up on his mom's lap and was whining a little.  I said I was going to close in prayer and he settled down.  I prayed for the families and said Amen.  Jonah looked at his mom and signed, "more prayer."  His mom asked him if that was what he wanted and he signed again, "More prayer."  I prayed for Jonah rubbing his back, and he then was all ready to go.  It was beautiful and humbling. 

There are times we get reminded of what we really seek and how God wants to show up.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13

"And a little child will lead them."  Isaiah 11:6