Posted in Hope, life thoughts, my heart, Overwhelmingly Thankful

The Gift of Another Moment

Settling back in after a trip to South Africa finds me sitting in a quiet napping house with newly mopped floors. The week’s homeschool lessons are complete on this freeing Friday and the new trampoline is all set up to the squealing delight of four little girls.

Today our neighbor’s chicken decided to begin hatching her seven or eight eggs under our little “garden of Eden” tree. Little did mother hen know that we would be returning home with a pouncing seven month old puppy when she laid her happy little eggs under that quiet tree. You know mother hen was thankful I packed the toddler play pen gate in the crate so she and her little chirpers can live to see another day behind their fence of protection.

After completing week four of homeschooling things are starting to feel a little less crazy. We’re still working out the dynamics of six rambunctious girls in our home (with the addition of our two friends to our school day), but we are enjoying learning together. Patterns are sinking in so I no longer have to be everywhere at once. That right there is lovely, friends. Now I only need to multi-task two to three of these ladies at a time. That’s much more manageable. ūüėČ

I’ve found myself in a state of quiet lately. We have been working through news of dear colleagues going on to see Jesus face to face after a bad car wreck in the Congo. They already are and will continue to be sorely missed, especially here on Sub-Sahara African soil. We held our breath and sent out continual prayers as we awaited news of another couple that we hold dear who were also among the wreckage. We reached out to ‘hold hands’ with our precious friends in Uganda as we all waited to find out when the dear couple would make it to hospital care. And as God answered our prayers in them arriving safely, they have begun to navigate through the shock and the trauma of all that unfolded in the horrible accident. In the quiet, we too begin to sift through it all.

I wish our arms could really reach across countries. Just to hold your friends and sit in the quiet together. And just pray. Just so they’re not alone.

We are just so thankful that while we are far, our prayers cover great distances in a mere second. God is not limited by time and space. He has proven Himself to be Enough. In all circumstances.

These past forty-eight hours have been more quiet in heart. Prayers continually going up. And between the giggles of bounding little girls’ education, I just find myself stepping back for a minute here and there and saying “Thank You, Lord. … Thank You for the gift of another moment.”

Thank You for the gift of another hug from one of these wonderful little girls.

Thank You for the gift of hearing my husband share an encouraging conversation with his accountability partner. I can hear the joy bouncing in his voice as he shares of what You have been teaching him lately.

Thank You for the gift of colleagues that are there to support us, even researching and sharing tricks on how to get rid of ants for a friend.

Thank You for the gift of friends in our city that help teach our kids responsibility and share in deep conversations about life.

Thank You for the gift of a well-trained, tongue-bouncing dog trotting beside my preschooler as they run in the wind.

Thank You for community and the feeling of home.

Thank You for friends at church and encouraging each other through life struggles.

Thank You for long car drives to just hold Matt’s hand and laugh about old stories while the girls sleep in the back.

And yes, thank You for even those little chirpers in the backyard that arouse such curiosity and delight as we feed them over the fense before retunring them to the neighbors.

Thank You, Lord.

I don’t deserve it.

It really is a gift.

This very moment You have given.

Posted in Crossing Cultures, God's heart, Hope, JOY, my heart, Overwhelmingly Thankful

But For All Eternity

 

There’s no Christmas lights on houses. No tinsle. Not even Christmas trees. There’s no discounted decorations. No Christmas music playing in stores. No desirable presents to buy and wrap for expectant kids. There’s no sledding. No cold winter walks. No snow. Nothing that points to a familiar Western Christmas scene. Nothing here that even points toward the Christmas season.

That’s what it’s like to live in the seed-planting phase on the mission field. Where Christmas doesn’t even seem to exist. (Kind of like the first Christmas, I would imagine.) The “first feet on the ground”. We are literally two of a small handful of Christians swimming up a stream of 100,000+ people. When Matt and I stood up in church to receive communion with the other baptized believers in the church, we stood alone with a visiting pastor. In a congregation of about twenty (and that was on a good day!), we stood alone as baptized believers in our city.

‘Ok then, let’s get started!’

It’s the proclamation phase. The proclamation of the Good News to those inside of the church building because clearly there is much to be certain of in a foundation of the very basics. And the standing on the figurative street corner outside of the church calling out from the depths of your toes to a passing sea of faces.

“Noel, Noel! Come and see what GOD has done!”

 

It’s not just some story. A folktale. A feel good slice of religion for the weak.

It is a piercing light that breaks through the suffocating darkness surrounding us all. It is a promise of a God-man who stepped out of his place of honor into the filth and terror of this world.

This God-man who humbled Himself into the form of a needy babe that we could have the opportunity to be reconciled to a God we, as all of humanity, were actively, and still are, choosing to deny.

It’s a God-man that steps into the middle of egos, desperation, pride, selfishness, manipulation, corruption, hate, abuse, assumed self-sufficiency, deception, and a whole host of all our dirty laundry. The God-man that comes for the purpose of stretching out His arms to take the gut-wrenching blows in our place.

 

“Noel.

Noel.

The Light of the World given for us!”

 

He didn’t just leave us in the middle of our unraveling chaos.

No, beloved, instead –

Come. And see what God has done!”

 

May His Good News sweep through this home, this community, and this world,  breaking the Light of Hope into the hearts of those surrounding all of us.

It’s a story that changes absolutely everything. Not just for a season, but for all eternity.

 

“The story of AMAZING LOVE!

The Light of the World, given for us.”

May we never be the same.

Never.

 

Posted in Crossing Cultures, God's heart, honesty, Hope, Mozambique, my heart

But He Can

I can’t possibly put into words how things have changed since we’ve come here. Our roles right now are not what they will be come Maxixe, but we are here in Q… studying… still in transition and yet settled…. for a while at least.

I can’t possibly put into words what it’s like to send the very children you feel convicted to homeschool to a public school for a year. And a school in a different language and culture. I can’t put into words how I miss them in the house and how I miss knowing what they are learning. How I wish I could help Rachael on her homework, but it is beyond my Portuguese understanding.

I can’t possibly put into words the sacrifice of sitting upstairs for 5 hours of language and hearing your toddler downstairs calling you. It’s just a petty thing. She wants you to read her a book. But you can’t. I can’t describe what it is like to live on the fence, both dying to understand more in a language that still feels very unnatural and just wanting to hold your baby and absorb the little moments that used to surround you.

I can’t possibly put into words the feeling when you watch them building poor habits that you know you will need to spend months undoing. But their habits are acceptable in your host culture, just not in yours. So they’re not corrected. Some milestone regression will just need to be regression until you are there more consistently. Until things take on a new normal.

I can’t possibly put into words the frustration of returning to “school” and wondering if you’ll ever just “live normally”again. You know, just like go to the market and get food. Just do normal life stuff without feeling like it’s a language and culture test. Live in a place without fear of public speaking, when really there’s only just a handful of people in front of you, but the language barrier feels like a mountain before you.

I can’t possibly put into words the internal battle of studying so hard, but feeling like it’s never good enough and fighting that constant battle of comparison with your spouse who “just gets it”. Oh how the temptations can flair in the dark of the night and seem to swallow you whole.

But, precious friends and family, I can’t possibly put into words seeing another month under your belt, one step closer to your job city. I can’t possibly put into words how much of a blessing it is for your front tires to touch the pavement of the highway leading to your destination city. I can’t possibly explain the delight in seeing your children flourish, even if they’re not always running to your arms. I can’t explain the joy in hearing Portuguese church songs sung in echoing abandonment from a four-year old as she plays. I can’t put into words the delight of a small group of¬†believers living in a Muslim community remembering and repeating with smiles on their faces¬†the parables you all studied weeks ago.¬†I can’t explain the triumph you feel when leaving the market after navigating the local market playing a little game of trying to beat your sweet house helper to the punch of asking about produce.

I can’t begin to¬†express the gratitude of overcome tears and deep-heart prayers resulting in fruitful steps forward.

And it leads me to my knees again, praying for His perspective when mine feels challenged again. His patience when this road feels too long and costly. His calm when the uncertainties seem to surround.

Oh how the cost is high, how I long to return to being a homeschooling, ministry wife. But oh, dear beloved, how He proves Himself over and over to be MORE than enough.

Oh, precious friends and family, He IS so much more than enough.

Thanks be to God for using me as a tool in His hand in the midst of this 3 year transition from an American Associate Pastor’s wife to a bi-lingual Missionary Mom living in Africa.

His ways are prefect.

His timing is perfect.

How He refreshes my soul.

Posted in faith, God's heart, Hope, JOY, Mozambique, my heart

Immeasurably More

We sat at the table the other night and the girls brought up the topic of Heaven. It stemmed out of a conversation about the meaning of the word “paradise”. And after cleaning up some six year old confusion about Paris vs. Paradise, one of the girls mentioned Christ’s words to the broken sinner on the cross. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” He said in response to the man’s belief.

Paradise.

“What will Heaven be like?” the questions arose with great curiosity.

“No one really knows beyond the Bible’s description of it being immeasurably more than anything good we could imagine.”

“No more tears,” Hannah piped in.

“Lots of food!” Came Abi’s response through her mouthful.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Can you imagine what it will be like for some people here?”

Rachael caught my eyes.

“They will go from a life of¬†disease, surrounded by death, no electricity, no¬†running water, fighting for hope amongst abandonment and¬†challenge and¬†desperation¬†STRAIGHT to the banquet¬†feast of our Lord.”

A tingle went through my body.

I saw¬†the light¬†on Rachael’s face as we both¬†had very real pictures¬†flash through our minds.

Suddenly, I thought about the homeless man out on the main street a half-block over. He never makes eye contact, is always surrounded by cardboard and trying to make fire. His loins barely covered by a shredded rag. I don’t know how long he’s lived there. I don’t even know how he’s still alive.

I thought about the sea of chronic medical problems people live with here, from huge goiters to elephant legs and open sores. I thought about the tiny, emaciated bodies that fill the public schools¬†and the swollen preschool bellies and pencil-thin arms. I thought about the reading group girls who come in a capulana (thin, colorful yard of fabric) tied over a naked body underneath. This is all they own. That very well may be all they’ll ever own.

Can you even imagine, church?! Can you even imagine their faces when they’re given new robes? When those emaciated hands reach out in a new flesh for the banquet meal? Can you even imagine when the homeless man receives his house? Can you even imagine when the chronic¬†ill step foot into Heaven and feel for the first time a land where those is no more death, no more disease and no more tears?!

Oh church, can you even imagine?!!!!!

Brother’s, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved…¬†¬†For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? 

Romans 10:1, 13-15

May this truth permeate our very souls and open our eyes to His work laid before us. Oh the immeasurable value in all mankind that He would stoop down from the High places and rescue us into His arms.

Oh church, can you even imagine……

Posted in everyday schooling, faith, God's heart, Hope

Vocal Depth

I was listening to an audio reading of Genesis while I was folding clothes this morning. The children were playing together while the littlest napped, permitting me full attention to give to the listening amid the monotony of laundry.

And it hit my ears.

“Who told you that you were naked?” The narrator read with a tinge of desperation in his voice.

And through those words God reminded my heart of his desperation for mankind.

Sermons can and have been written on God’s compassion, willing Adam and Eve to confess their forbidden fruit sin. The Omniscient God did not need them to verbalize their sin. He already knew the question’s answer. But He gave them the opportunity to feel the relief of confession. The relief of releasing some of the guilt. Not adding salt to the wound by telling the truth.

But in that voice lies a deeper level. A deeper heartbreak chosen to be shouldered by the Ever-Loving Father. The disaster of the fall’s consequences had begun. And even though I wasn’t there, I think this audio Bible’s narrator got the tone just perfect. His desperation. His heartbreak for the newly lost mankind looking back at Him through the eyes of Adam and Eve. Never again to frolic in the garden together. Never again to share in closeness as before.

No, God doesn’t need us, dear friends. But here in His voice in This Genesis verse His heart pours out. He wants us.

Thank you, Lord, for still wanting us… even in the heat of our rebellion.¬†

“Blessed” somehow fails to describe the depth of Your gift of adoption.

– Please, Lord, keep teaching my heart to listen to Your Voice.