Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Build On! Better than Lego Pieces You Are

I recently read a newsletter that compared Lego pieces to the church's ability to do something amazing in foster care. I think the same is true in my line of work, orphan care with Back2Back Ministries. 

Allow me to recap a few points I really liked (*Lego analogy borrowed, not mine)...

"The thing with Legos is that often what you are able to build is limited by the pieces you have." Once you build up quite the collection, no matter how elaborate your Lego creation is, there are always more Legos there for you to use.  (2nd line is my paraphrase)

This summer I had the honor and privilege to serve alongside of HUNDREDS of people engaged in global orphan care. They traveled from all over the United States, Canada, and even Norway, using their vacation time and finances to invest in the lives of the orphans we care for.  One of the roles I had this summer was debriefing several of these visiting teams. Debriefing is a simple end of the day activity to reflect and capture how Heaven is invading/colliding with your life that day.  It is a moment to take stock on what God is teaching you about yourself, others/the world, and Himself. And what He is asking you to do about what He is pressing on your heart. 

Meeting all of these incredible Christ followers and hearing their stories, I realize that we have a surplus of Lego pieces to build something amazing in orphan care. We are not lacking pieces. I was surrounded by people who desire nothing more for the children and caregivers we serve to feel loved, cared for, appreciated, wanted and to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

"There are so many people who want to do something but just need encouragement and a few tools.  And of course, there are thousands of churches filled with people on a journey to figure out how the gospel can be demonstrated through their lives."

I witnessed that truth this summer; better than Lego pieces these people are.  Our guests are amazingly talented individuals uniquely called and desiring to serve Jesus with their lives.  I am thankful that the ministry I work with constantly strives to encourage and equip these individuals. It is a shared passion of mine.  

Thank you visiting teams, co-laborers, and countless other ministries involved in orphan care and foster care around the world. We are building something amazing and I can't wait to witness as much of it as I can in my lifetime.  Let's build on!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Relationships are Hard, Quit Faking

It's been awhile since I have blogged. I love to journal with pen and paper, so this blogging thing didn't go as smoothly for me as I had hoped. But, like many bloggers say...I'm going to try and do better. I was looking back through some of my journal entries from my transition "home" to the USA from Mexico. Here is one that I hope you enjoy.
For years now I have subscribed and strived for the Christian cliché, "You must be happy at all times. If you are sad, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, and anything but joyful and you have Jesus, why would someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus want to believe? Be joyful, so they will want the life with Jesus you have.” 

Someone once told me that crying and experiencing emotional ups and downs are only experienced by those who are not spending time with Jesus. I've wrestled with that for many years now, literally trying to train myself to control any and every emotion and when I have them. I force myself to control tears and keep my emotions in tact, especially in front of any authority figures or people in leadership. I feared that any emotion outside of "having it all together" would make people, especially in my "Christian circle," think I was unstable and not spending time with Jesus. And as for those in authority, this thought played in my head: how will I ever get leadership roles myself if I am not perfectly emotionally steady? 

I love Jesus and spend time just being His friend and learning from Him all the time. As I come to love Jesus more and more, I realize daily that relationships are tough and I've been believing lies- allowing my emotional steadiness to be a sign of my closeness with Jesus. 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 
Galatians 1:10
New International Version (NIV)

The origin or root of this fear goes even further back to my extremely legalistic beginnings as a Jesus follower. I wanted (and still do want) everyone to love the Jesus I am crazy about. So I subscribed to the notion that I could not display any emotions outside of joyful, content, and happy. Otherwise, who would want Jesus? I strived to model how great life was with Him at all times so people who didn't believe would want to believe. I could not let my faith cause any worry, fear, or feeling overwhelmed as that is not appealing.

Then one day it hit me. Or Jesus hit me. Either way, it was necessary. Choosing Jesus is a relationship. AND relationships are hard and real, and sometimes real hard. So why would I fake that? 

My heart was good. I wanted everyone to have, believe, and experience the fullness of life that I have only found in Jesus. But I wrongly believed that if my relationship wasn’t good all the time, well then, who would want that?!? 

Every relationship that I have and every relationship I watch as an outsider, I see a common thread between us.  The more we love and share, the closer we get with that person- the more likely we are to experience ups and downs, hard times, and friction. Not all the time. In fact, little of the time in comparison. But emotions happen. We are human and messy, and hence, messy humans.

There is no one I love more than Jesus. If I rub shoulders with Him daily then there are bound to be some highs and lows, right? He is going to refine my rough edges and cause good friction with me that I don't always receive with butterflies, unicorns, rainbows, and skipping. So I’ve come to the realization that if there weren’t some array of emotions, well then I am probably only loving Jesus from a distance and not really doing life in relationship with Him.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Praying in His Victory over Their Lives

October 1, 2012

Dear Papa,

So many good conversations this weekend; I’m not sure I can capture them all or do them justice at that. So here are some thoughts I need to further process and write about…

I am so lucky (in Jesus) to have the life I have- that I didn’t have to sort through some horrific mess or abandonment or abuse or neglect in my life. Yet out of my “luckiness” it would be foolish and a complete miss to not care for the orphan or person who is confined or presently defined by those situations. How much harder is it to believe Jesus in the midst of so much pain? Those sweet ones have so much to sort through and there is total warring over their life. The battle is not one that can be seen, but rather a major spiritual battle is being waged over their life. As much as Jesus is fighting for them, Satan is as well. The kids we meet are in such a place of brokenness and come from such terrible backgrounds… for them to find God is a total miracle of Jesus. We have nothing to offer the kids, literally nothing. Their turning point or choice to choose Jesus for their lives can only be attributed to a complete miracle of Jesus.

Side note for clarification…I have not had nor lived a “perfect” life, and I don’t see myself as any better than the beautiful ones I speak of. I was simply reflecting this week on present miracles of Jesus and Jesus in the midst of heartache. As I wrestle with the cruelties of  life His sweet ones have endured and find myself angry at those who left them in such places, I lean into the Truth of who this King of kings is and remember that He is always victorious! Let's pray it in!

Let me be Your light,
your little girl

Would you like Fries with all that Ketchup?

September 26, 2012

Oh Jesus,

The funniest thing happened yesterday. Well, funny now that it is past I should say…

From the time my students left their houses after lunch and showed up at school (a 20-30 second dash for them) they were COVERED in ketchup! My first thought was "What happened, are you ok?" (I only noticed one student covered in "blood") then I kept thinking "What is that smell?" As I looked around, I realized not one, but rather, all five were covered in "blood" and there was more to this story...

They do some of the grossest things in general (eat their boogers, bite the scabs off their knees, dig through any trash can to find, well, anything) but ketchup, really?!? And from where? I have no idea. I just sent them home for new clothes so we could start over. J

I tried all day to think how this relates to us (grown kids) and Jesus, what lesson You might have for me in this ketchup extravaganza… and all I got was that You, Jesus, love us anyway and You laugh at all the crazy things we do and go through. We do some pretty gross things too and You love us anyway.

And truth is, sometimes you probably wish our gross things were just being covered in ketchup or eating our own boogers!

How is that for an entry?! Sorry Jesus ;) 

-your peanut

La Cucaracha

I'm going to post some older journal entries to catch you (and me) up to speed. 

I laughed when I re-read this journal entry... Now I'm used to the gigante (he-gan-te) bugs around here... not so much that I want to see any in my house, let's be clear Jesus... but they pale in comparison to the real "bugs" in life- broken relationships, loneliness, unanswered questions, heartache, loss, feeling or being unwanted- all stories of beautiful children and teens I have met here. So this entry feels lame knowing what I now know, but it's part of my journey and what Jesus used to bring bigger perspective....

September 25, 2012
Dear Jesus,
I finally start to sleep ok here and then I get another bug! Ay yi yi! PLEASE no more. YES, that is girly, whiney, and in the scheme of life's problems, a ridiculous request and not a big deal, but for this God girl it is. And I'm begging in the name of Jesus that you kill them all. Amen.
your little one who has to kill all of the "on steroid" sized bugs in Mexico in her house and classroom by herself

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Simply Sweet Sara

It's been too long since I have posted.... my apologies. I have much to update you on, but this true story can't wait for time. And since it is just a short story, my bedtime can be stretched even further tonight. 

So I am watching three of my students this week FULL TIME. I became an instant mom of 3 girls (ages 5, 7, and 9) last Friday. It started out with the normal bumps- I don't cut the ham in the eggs like there mom does and I refrigerated the milk that they prefer warm (cultural training 101)... There are many other awesomely funny and splendidly enjoyable moments that we have had together thus far that I will share this weekend (promise! See, now I'm accountable to you, and you have to come back and check up on me)!

Ok, ok so the totally sweet moment tonight....

I have loved on Sara for what feels like so long now (which is really just since June when I got the job with B2B and began praying for my students and August 25 when I arrived and September something when I began teaching her in school). And you should know a morsel more about Sara that I have since learned...Sara is one sweet, yet strong individual, whose colors are rarely, if ever shown on the outside. So I have longed to have her love. Tonight, with the privilege of getting to tuck her in to bed I decided to sing her to sleep. The confidence of a six-year-old when asked if they can sing has long since left me. Although every once in awhile I try to put on my big girl pants and "not care anyway", I was a bit hesitant. I sang: 

"I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship You. O my soul rejoice! 
Take joy my King in what You hear let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear." 

And yes, as I sang to Sara I was praying those words to Jesus. The first verse came out confidently, in total adoration of King Jesus. However, by the second verse, moments of doubt slipped in and I sang the words as a prayer "Please Jesus, I can't make eggs the right way, at least let this sound good! I think my 28 year old self would be totally mortified if she negatively commented on my voice." Well, the Lord had mercy on me tonight and every time I would finish Sara would ask shyly (because she didn't know when I would say "we must go to sleep love"), "Teacher, you sing that again please?" 

Here's the pie! (Ice cream, whipped cream cherry, whatever you like best! Here it is...)

After I sang one last time and gently stroked her forehead I said "te quiero" (I love you) and in a soft, still, steady voice her teddy bear brown eyes met mine perfectly and she said "me too." And the curtain fell...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Few Thoughts, Prayers, and Tangents...

September 24, 2012
O Daddy,

How kind are Your ways. How I delight in Your truth and desire Your will. I pray my eyes be opened- to seeing truth in clouded situations, to foretell a situation, and to be obedient to a future or present direction or calling.

Today I am praying for someone I want to know Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. He has been on my heart and mind like crazy! Maybe it is because he loves one of my sweet girls that I have invested in, but it is also because I think he is an incredible guy and I can only imagine all he is capable of doing for the Kingdom. Lord Jesus in Your mighty name I ask for something so miraculous, so supernatural to happen to this great guy of Yours today, that he cannot deny You and in fact, craves You! Holy Spirit make Yourself known today! For Your glory. (If you are reading this right now, please join me in praying for my friend!)

Kind of all over the place today, but I don’t want to forget this story. Last week, out of know where, Zua (one of my students), got up from her seat and came over and gave me a hug. I’m not sure if she was just tired, if she was up to something, or if she just needed a hug, but I took full advantage of her desire and the fact that I work at a school that allows me to hold, hug, and cuddle my kids if necessary. We listened to a few worship songs together and then I sent her back to her seat to finish her paper. I’m thankful to Jesus that He puts times in my life where I get to hold people…

Unashamedly Yours,
your little one