February 21, 2011


Every once in awhile, when I'm feeling nostalgic, I'll go back and read some old posts. It's strange to revisit life before. Before what? Well, before anything and everything that has happened after. There are posts I don't remember writing and those that I can remember every nuance of how I was feeling when I typed the words. One post in particular, I have read and re-read many, many times......I have even read it to a group of women. It wasn't a sudden onset of self-promotion, it is just that I don't think it was me writing the words. I remember the heaviness of my heart and I remember crying while I wrote it, but honestly, the words on the screen are just not my own. I know that sounds weird, and I am certainly prone to sudden bouts of weirdness, but I don't know how else to explain how I feel about this post.

I found it again tonight because I needed to. My heart has been heavy for several friends lately going through major and minor things that I can't fix for them. I see them struggling for explanation.

I have been struggling. We've had some personal situations come up that have been really tough. We've been trying to sell a house for a year with enough drama surrounding it that it could qualify as a book in and of itself. And I find myself in a place where the extent of human inequality surrounds me. We are so, so, so blessed and why this is my life when hours from me there are women just hoping they can feed their children while maintaining a faith and love in God that is astounding.....I don't understand it. I just don't.

This is a first for me, but I am re-posting a blog entry called Miracles. I don't know if it will speak to any of you, but the words are ones I needed to read again.

For those of you out there, and you know who you are, I am praying so desperately for your miracle......whatever that may look like.

MARCH 11, 2009


She died.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom had a friend that had cancer. It was the first time I was ever exposed to the disease that has stolen so many lives. I don't remember the lady's name, or even what she looked like. What I do remember is my mom praying for her healing. The kind of prayer that will take you to your knees, begging God to spare a life. I remember being so affected by the fervency in which my mom pleaded for a miracle. Her friend died. I began to doubt that God would heal just because someone asked Him to.

When I was 30 years old, we moved to Florida. I had a 2 year old and a 5 month old and I was a walking disaster. Many times my husband would come home from work to find me in tears on the couch. I was overwhelmed and desperately missed the life I had left behind. I prayed for a miracle and God led us to a church that changed our lives. Then we were uprooted again to move to Houston. I began to doubt that God really cared.

My good friend of 15 years has lost 7 babies through miscarriage. I was determined to "stand in the gap" for her when days were so dark, she didn't want to get out of bed. I encouraged her, prayed for her, and begged God to give her a child. She has never been able to carry a baby past 8 weeks of pregnancy. No miracle.

I am now 38 years old. Life has been challenging these last several months, but I have been steadfast in my faith, determined not to waiver. I knew we were entering into economic times that would rival what I had only read about in history books, but I just knew we were safe. Then Scot got laid off from his job and my faith is shaken for a moment, but I am determined to trust God until I receive my miracle.

But what if I don't?

I am not the only woman in my situation that is standing firm on the promises of God. I have learned, some people get the miracle and some don't. What if I'm a "don't" this time around?

My child, what is your definition of a miracle?

You see, your mom's friend came home to me many years ago. My miracle was in allowing you, a young, impressionable girl, watch your mother demonstrate the kind of faith that you were going to need yourself some day. My miracle was allowing your mom's friend to have a legacy that exceeded her expectations, a legacy that has brought many to my feet with hurting, questioning hearts, so I could tenderly reach down and heal them.

My miracle was in giving you a friendship with your pastor's wife in Florida that would sustain you through many hard times. I needed you to be there so Lisa could nuture you, pour My word into you, and love you, so you could be more effective to Me when I moved you to Houston. My miracle was being very present when your marriage was put to the test - pouring grace and mercy all over both of you. Your marriage is stronger today because of it, that's a miracle.

My miracle was taking extreme heartache in the loss of so many babies, and making it a part of our friend's testimony. My miracle is taking what satan meant for evil, to hurt and destroy, and turning it into good. My miracle is giving her and her husband twins to adopt, children I knew would need her to be their mom.

Wait in anticipation of a miracle, but you must remove your own earthly, narrow-minded expectations of what that miracle will look like. If only you could see your life like I see it, you would have no fear, only excitement for what is to come. Your miracle may not come in the form of an incredible new job or financial gain, but stand strong in your faith with eager anticipation and let Me show you what a miracle really is.

February 18, 2011


Right outside our bedroom window we have a bird's nest.

An extremely determined bird has been working on building this nest for over a week. I have watched this bird use everything from string to leaves to feathers to slowly but surely build a safe home.

It's like it knows that having a home that works, means working on your home.

Without giving up when it gets hard.

The perseverance and dedication in making sure it's the best possible place for its family is inspiring.

You may be thinking this nest must look like this:

Where the birds only chirp between the hours of 9 and 5. Where there's a slew of National Geographic photographers lining up for the perfect shot to grace the cover of the latest issue.

In reality, it looks like this:

A home that is certainly not perfect on the outside. It looks half put together, even thrown together, with no attempts at achieving perfection. The birds chirp at all hours and I am the only crazy one taking loads of pictures.

It appears to be hanging on by a thread, but does not fall. Because this bird knows that its not about how much thread you have, but how strong it is. It is what's holding this home together.

The inside, though, is another story. It's warm and safe and protected.

It is not showy or fake. It's just real.

I think that's probably all this bird's offspring really care about.

It's the perfect home.

February 11, 2011


Today, I met Nona.

For several years now, our church has supported a Baptist school and children's home in Bantam, Indonesia. A group of women will go once a month to spend time with the children and to work on their English skills. This has been a trip I have been trying to go on since moving here and today, I finally got to go.

There were only 6 of us that went today. We got on the 45 minute ferry ride to Indonesia and I was nervously anticipating what I was going to find when I got there.

We made a quick pit stop at the school to admire some new windows that had been installed. Apparently a lot of work has been going on there and the kids now have a roof in their classrooms that doesn't sag along with ceiling fans and fresh paint.

They were all very busy cleaning up outside from all the construction work that had taken place.

As soon as our van drove up many of the kids greeted the women by name and were happy to see us there.

We left the school and headed to the home nearby where 33 children currently live. It is only run by a pastor and his wife, whome the children call Ibu. Some of the kids are orphaned, some abandoned, and some still have limited contact with their parents but because of work or money their parents can not provide for them.

We walked through the gate and we were immediately greeted by the pastor and his wife who hugged and kissed each of us. I was the only new girl so they were seeing familiar faces that they have grown to love.

Many of the children filtered in and out during the day as some would come home from school and others would go. We were testing the extent of their English skills today so there was a lot of one on one time with each child.

We were there about an hour when this little girl with curly hair plopped herself beside me on the floor where I was playing a game with another child. I have no idea how old she is......they know she was born April 6, but I'm not sure they even know which year. I would guess her to be about 5.

She has curly hair and gorgeous brown eyes. I pointed at her hair and then mine and told her we were the same. That seemed to seal the deal with her because before I knew it, she had me by the hand and we were settled in on a couch with a dry erase board and two markers to do some serious drawing.

She sat right next to me for the next hour looking through books and drawing pictures of houses and flowers and people with smiley faces. I was so happy to see the smiley faces.

She drug me by the hand into the kitchen to see some of the boys eating lunch before they headed off to school.

It was amazing how small the kitchen was for so many people. The pots and pans are all outside and there's no running water anywhere in the house. I loved opening the door to the outside wall and seeing all the pans hanging on the brick so I took a couple of pictures. Ibu walked into her kitchen and was gesturing to me that she was embarrassed by me being in there. I told her I thought it was really beautiful several times and she started to cry. So I hugged her because in that moment we were just two women living here on this earth, loving children God has given us and wanting to know that sometimes, another woman thinks our kitchen is beautiful.

It was fascinating to watch how incredibly well organized and behaved the children were. There was a system for everything. No yelling, no fighting....they each knew their jobs and they did them. This is honestly one chore list I would NOT want to keep up with!

When it was time for lunch, all the children sat in two rows while Ibu served plates and the older girls distributed them to the children.

After lunch, each child cleaned up after themselves and went right back to playing.
There was some arm wrestling....

and reading....

and very cute puppies that were just begging to be played with.

By this point, the kids were getting used to me and I heard a lot of "Miss, Miss", calling me to take their pictures. I was more than happy to oblige!

I looked right into the eyes of this teen girl and told her she was beautiful. About 10 times. She and I don't speak the same language, but she knew what I was saying to her.

Throughout the afternoon, my little friend was never far away. Several times I would feel her hugging my legs and I would look down to see her sweet face.

This was after Nona had finished her chores. One of the other ladies quickly came and got me to tell me that Nona was outside. I snuck out there to take her picture. She was on her tippy toes putting the dishes away all by herself. I was rewarded with a big 'ol grin when she caught me out there spying on her.

Then it was cupcake time. I am a firm believer in quality cupcake time and these women pulled out all the stops. Icing and sprinkles galore and the kids loved it!

It was almost time for us to go. Karen has been with these kids for a couple of years and had brought her iPad with pictures on it from one of the first times she was there. The children loved looking at themselves and friends that no longer live there. They were glued to her side.....how precious for her to be surrounded by young lives that she has poured so much love and energy into.

Judith pulled out her guitar for a quick song session and was an instant hit with the boys. One of them asked if he could play. She gave him her guitar and he started to play. Then he started to sing. That was it for me. I didn't understand a word and I didn't need to. It was amazing.

The women I was with, along with others who could not be there today, have worked tirelessly to establish relationships with many of the children. What a precious gift to hug those kids good-bye and be able to look them in the eye and tell them that you will come back. And you do.

Because there is going to be a certain little someone that I am going to be very, very excited to see again.

February 03, 2011

Rock On

I was a strong willed child. Seriously, I think my parents read James Dobson's book on strong willed children about 29 times. They needed all the help they could get.

And then they had four more children.

That means they either thought it could only get better or that I had put them through so much training, they could handle anything.

I was stubborn and opinionated and loved nothing more than a good argument. Throw in a dramatic running away from home once or twice and you get the idea of life with me in my early teens.

Many, many, many years have passed and I can still be stubborn and sometimes opinionated, but I don't have a burning desire to argue as much. Except with Scot, but he refuses to play along so no arguing for me.

What I have learned is that if I take the time to listen, it is amazing how often my point of view can be altered. Maybe not completely changed, but definitely altered.

In the past 7 months, my point of view has undergone some major alterations. I don't mean a little nip or tuck here and there, I mean rocking my world kind of stuff.

It started in Israel. The land where so much Biblical history resides. I walked Roman roads and touched the ground of the crucifixion - all reminders of men who gave their lives for their beliefs. I was having this experience while all around me there was evidence of two major non-Protestant people groups at war with one another. Orthodox Jews observing Shabat while prayers were played over loud speakers as Muslims bowed to pray. Both equally determined to fight for their beliefs, both equally fervent in their faith.

Then we land in Singapore. 10% of the population is Protestant. We are most certainly not in the Bible belt anymore. In this tiny country there are Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, and Hindis just to name a few. We have been exposed to a lot of religious observances we had never heard of before.

I had the chance to visit a mosque during Ramadan.

It was fascinating. I was amazed at the ritual of cleansing these men would go through before going inside to pray and the fact that if they messed up during that ritual, they would start all over. The discipline it takes to get on their knees and pray 5 times a day.

I sat down with a monk when we were in Thailand. I had a chance to ask him a lot of questions. Our guide for this day had also been a monk and then went on to study Christianity. I was completely fascinated with this guy. I was intrigued with the Buddhist idea of trying to reach a level of enlightenment that was above heaven. Their willingness to go so far as to alter their outward appearance as a display of their faith.

Then there was Thaipusam which is a Hindu religious celebration. I did not go, but my friends, Tiffany and Lisa went and observed. There is a lot of incense and praying and some extreme acts of piercing as a way to show their devotion to their gods. I stole these pictures from Tiffany and have no idea how to make them the same size as the others on here, so you're going to get a really good look at what goes on.

Do I know all there is to know about all these different religions? Absolutely not. In fact, my knowledge barely scratches the surface.

What I do know is that these other religions are not based on extraordinary love. They are based on fear, on good works, on an attempt to please a golden statue, on ritual but not one of them is based on belief in a Savior who made an extraordinary sacrifice with an extraordinary outcome through resurrection as a show of extraordinary love. A Savior that extends that love to us in exchange for our belief in Him.

What has rocked my world is realizing how flippant Christians can be about their beliefs. That there are religions that are totally devoted to extreme discipline or an extreme change in their appearance or an extreme stand in the face of adversity for a faith that has to leave them empty.

And what do I do? What part of my life is an extreme for what I believe? Can people watch how I spend my day and know what I believe? Can they talk to me or even look at me and know?

I have to think that He meant it to be so much more than an altar experience. That He offered amazing grace and amazing love so that our every single moment of every single day reflects who we are in Him.

That He wanted the sacrifice of His Son to mean more to us than warming a pew here or there.

That He wants to hear from us more often than in our times of extreme need.

I wonder if there will ever be a sign for "Christian praying". Is the assumption that we pray anywhere or is the assumption that we don't pray regularly at all?

In my previous life back in the great state of Texas I operated in a state of ignorance when it came to world religions. Now I live with them. It has changed me and challenged me in a way I never expected. It is truly rocking my world.

All I can say......Rock On.

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