unless you become like these…

It’s quite funny when this sort of thing happens. Lately something has switched in Eli and he has become somewhat obsessed with me. It has been trying for me. I keep wanting to figure out what happened and what is going on in his little body and his mind. He can’t be consoled by anything but me and television – which makes things even worse because I feel like a terrible mom for offering consoling through tv. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, and that’s not actually why I’m writing this.

Today I decided to picked up my old faithful friend “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. It has been a favorite of mine for years and years and I find his daily entries to always somehow align significantly to what is happening in my life during that particular time.

Anyway, I opened it up to June 2nd and read this:

“A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arrises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother. In that same way, we are to ‘live and move and have our being’ in God, looking at everything in relation to Him, because our abiding awareness of Him continually pushes itself in the forefront of our lives.”

My conclusion for today: “Stop trying to fix him (Eli) and learn from him.” I may never know what is going on with him and that’s ok – because i have 2 jobs here: 1. Care for him. Make sure all of his necessary needs are being met. 2. Learn from him.

The Lord has given us the gift of children to buffet us, that pure and unadulterated love might be produced. We are fools to think our children will come out pooping flowers and singing sweet praises to Jesus. No way.  Children are meant to serve as a mirror that we look into every day showing us once again how much selfishness still exists and rules within us. They are opportunities for patience and long suffering to be produced within us. For selfless love to be cruciformed within us. And, often more times than not, their weak frame is revealing to us how we ought to relate to God.

What we so often view as weak, irritating and frustrating about children the Lord would say to us, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” That is a humble pill to swallow.

Think about it outside of your familiarity with the text. We usually hide our kids – put them in the corner, or in their own classroom so as to not mess up the spiritual climate of our meetings. We love kids, they’re cute, they’re fun to cuddle when they let us and when they’re not poopy. But, they’re loud, they’re presumptuous, they’re disruptive, they require so much energy, and they’re sometimes embarrassing. It’s easier to just hide them while we do the serious grown up stuff.

But what are we missing out on?

He rebuked the disciples and said “let the little children come to me!” He did not, nor does he now, view children with the same eyes that we do. Is it because He’s a pied piper sort of figure who’s really good with children? Probably, because He is Jesus. But there was something intrinsically deeper and truer that He was communicating to us than just “play with the kids!”.

Children model something to us every day. They model to us the way that 1. we should relate to the Lord. And 2. The way that He relates to us.

I feel to caution myself and all of us – let’s not push the children in the corner and hide them away so as to have our neat and tidy meeting. Let’s invite them to teach us something that the Lord in His wisdom designed for them to teach us.

Hey, I know, it’s gonna be messy! I don’t even fully know what I mean when I say this! I’m more so addressing a state of the heart and mind than I am of physical and practical dynamics. I think, as with most (all) things, we must first deal with our hearts before we can start changing things practically – or else we will just get angry and miss the point all together.

But I don’t want to miss out on what jesus was truly getting at here. It’s not just a “Hey! Go play ring around the rosy with the kids and learn to appreciate them more!” There is a deep, deep truth He was revealing to us concerning how we ought to relate to HIM – not children. But the catch 22 is that the only way we can begin to relate to Him rightly is by first rightly relating with those that He has ordained to reveal these things to us through, and that is children.

The challenge for myself : Begin to look at my children and ask the Lord “What can I learn from them today? Help me learn from them.”

There is something deep and profound waiting to be revealed to us hidden in the weak and needy frame of a child. I want to find this treasure – so that I can be a good parent? Yes. But even more, so that I can be a good beloved of Christ.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Beloved, there is a new secret place awaiting us with store house after store house of revelation and it is called parenting.

A Small Window into to My Heart

This week we have some visitors from the states. A gentleman who is like a spiritual Father to us, a young couple contemplating joining us on the field sometime in the near future, two gentlemen whom are also considering bringing their families and joining us for a season, and a brother who is laboring in Iraq to see the gospel go forth. They are all precious people and their presence has tenderized my heart in a major way.

I am continually amazed by what the Lord is doing on the earth right now. The amount of young people, young families, that are considering moving to the middle east and laying down their lives for the sake of Christ. It is deeply moving and a marvelous thing to encounter. What is causing so many to sell their belongings, say good bye to the world they have known and sown into for years and years, pack up what they have left and move to a nation that is hostile towards the gospel and speaks a foreign tongue? Why? Why are so many considering doing this and some already doing it?

It’s because He is so beautiful. He is so very beautiful.

I have to tell you, with each passing day, my longing to see His face is growing stronger and stronger.

The last few weeks have been emotionally tiring for me. The Lord is reminding me, once again, how quick and fleeting this life is. I’m terrified at how easily I can slide into the comforts of this life, even living in this foreign nation away from all that is familiar to me. It terrifies me how quickly I can forget and begin living my life as if there wasn’t a Jewish Man seated at the right hand of the Father, with hair like wool, eyes like burning fire, a sword coming out of his mouth, and scars in his hands and feet. He’s there, right now, patiently waiting for the day that He is going to split the sky and come once and for all for His beloved. I can’t believe how easily it is for me to forget about Him and start living for this life instead of the one to come.

This is what our friend shared on today. He was reminding us to “see” and not just “look”. He was reminding us to see what is beyond this earthly life and fix our eyes on that which is eternal. He shared out of  2 Kings 6 when the Arameans surrounded Israel with horses and chariots and Elisha’s servant ran to him and said, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” Elisha told him not to be afraid and he said, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha then prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened so that he could see. The Lord answered Elisha’s prayer and when he looked again he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

I long for eyes that see beyond the physical. I think of Hebrews 11, “the hall of faith.” Abraham had eyes of faith and was looking for a city to come, a city whose builder and maker was God. His hope rested upon the fact that this life was but a vapor and there was coming something greater and far more magnificent than anything we could ever experience in this life.

I desperately want my eyes fixed on that which will last forever and not that which is quickly fading. But it’s my tendency to drink from the wells of the temporary. To draw courage and strength from things that are really weakening my spirit and dulling and numbing my conscience. It is my tendency to find rest in that which is not life giving but life draining. Not because I’m doing terrible things, but I’m not drinking from the fountain that never ever runs dry.

You see, there really are so many things that present themselves as harmless to us, but in truth they are robbing us of life, true life. There is no verse telling us not to do them, but what is happening is we are little by little selling our birth rite for a bowl of lintel soup. Our eyes are blinded to true things and all that we can see is what is right in front of us and it becomes our everything and He becomes a side dish that we sometimes eat from but often just take a taste and let it grow cold.

To sum this up, I need help from the Holy Spirit. My flesh is weak but my spirit is willing. I feel a cry of desperation for my eyes to be opened. For me to see with eyes of the spirit and not eyes of the flesh. I don’t want to see the same things that these blind and hardened Muslims see as they walk around me. I want to see Jesus, the beautiful Man who is high and lifted up and whose name is above every other name and the One who is more powerful than any other god. I want to see Him.

These are just the ramblings of my heart. No coherent theme really, just the gushing out of what I’m feeling and thinking on.

As I hear the call to prayer in the distance that has become so normal in some ways, tonight I feel the groan inside. I want to live differently than those that are around me who worship a false god. I want to see differently than them. Or else, what am I here for? What was the point of me moving across the ocean to a land that is not warm to the name of Jesus Christ, why did I bring my children here? I want, I need to see beyond this life because that is where my hope lies. This life, I will blink my eyes and it will be over. Lord help not to live for it but for that which will last forever.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless thing; preserve my life according to your word.” – Psalm 119:37

Don’t Be Stupid

Because it’s important to me to keep this blog updated I’ve decided to try something new to help me stay on point. Sometimes I don’t write because I just don’t have the energy to think of something to write about. So the other week I was reading Proverbs 12 and it was like every single verse was piercing my heart, convicting me and in a thousand different areas of my life but each one so relevant and in time. So I thought, why don’t I just take a proverb, not a whole chapter but just one out of a chapter, and use it to unravel the “in time” happenings of my life and heart. Takes the pressure off of trying to think anything up. I still may muck it up anyway, but I’m giving it a shot!

So today’s proverb is:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”

First question that has to be asked is, who loves discipline? This is evidence of a regenerated heart. Normal people don’t love discipline. I mean, my son, 3 years old and with no guile in him, does not like discipline. Not one bit. He does not like getting his way and he does not like getting disciplined for disobeying when he doesn’t get his way. And this happens a lot. 

I remember when I worked with YWAM in Australia I was working as an assistant to the director of our base. One day, I made a mistake and to cover up that mistake I lied about it. I was scared that he would be mad so I just lied out of self preservation and fear. I could have gotten away with this lie, he would have never found out about it. But it haunted me like a plague. I was consumed with guilt and deep conviction. So, I decided I was going to walk to work the next morning and the very first thing I was going to do was tell him the truth. I walked into his office, sat down, and spilled the beans. He was surprised, disappointed, but not angry. He asked me why I did it and then like a good father would explained the consequences of my actions. He told me I needed to confess and apologize to the other people that my little white lie had affected which I knew was right but of course the idea of having to come clean all over again to other people that I deeply respected and looked up to was horrifying to me. Before I left his office he opened his bible up to 1 Cor. 9:24.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize…”

And then in verse 26 it goes onto say,

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

He said to me, “Anna, don’t get disqualified from the race. Run in such a way to win the prize.” And then he hugged me and I wept. I wept out of relief, out of gratitude that he didn’t condemn and neither did the Lord, out of sadness that I had disappointed both him and the Lord and others who were affected by my fib. But the strangest thing happened, I walked out of that office so proud. I felt free and I felt so glad that I had done it, I had told the truth. I was proud but I also had required an obvious “limp” from the pride of my flesh taking a heavy blow. But for the most part, I felt free, light and cared for and loved by my spiritual father who was my boss and also by my heavenly Father.

What is the point of this? The discipline that I received that day was painful but it felt so very good. It was like water washing the guilt of my sin away and making me clean and bright. I loved it. It was addicting.

I loved discipline. This is evidence of a regenerated heart.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.

To love discipline is to love to know more. To love to know more is to love discipline. They go hand in hand.

I want to know more about life and godliness?

I want to know more about the purpose of life?

I want to search out the deep and immeasurable riches of Christ?

Then it is required that I also love the rod of His discipline. I must welcome it and give it complete access to my broken life.

Knowledge without discipline gives way to pride and arrogance which is like poison to our bodies. Knowledge with discipline forms us into the likeness of Christ.

“…but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

It is stunning that the human heart could begin to love and crave discipline. It is miraculous. But it’s possible. And when we do love it, that’s a pretty good sign. It is evidence of Christ in us conforming us into His image. Hallelujah.

And if we want knowledge without discipline or correction from The Father…well, then we’re just plain stupid.

“Whoever hates correction is stupid.”

Love it. We all need a good stern kick in the pants every so often. Thanks, Solomon for using such poetic language to cut straight to the heart.

So in closing my exhortation is – don’t be stupid! Welcome the discipline of the Lord into your life! Be cleansed and washed by His rod! Be conformed into the likeness of Christ! And take heart, we know we are children of God if we are being disciplined. Did you just feel that twig branch whip against your spiritual bum? Rejoice, HE LOVES YOU!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Update on Life

 

DALTON

Dalton took a trip with a small media team to Israel last month to work on this film. I can not tell you how excited I am about this film! I am so impressed with the work that these guys have done so far and can not wait to see the finished project. Read more about it on the website! Hoping that it will be released within the year.

Dalton heads to the states on Saturday to be a part of the Israel Convocation that is taking place in Kansas City. You can read more about it here. He will be gone for about 10 days and will be bringing us back some American treats! 🙂

In March he is heading with some dear servant hearted friends to the Syrian border where many of the Syrian refugees are coming in. We are hoping to form some relationships over that way and find some open doors so that we can continue to visit and lend a helping hand. Later in the month he is heading to France to teach on a DTS.

And finally, in April he is headed back to the states, this time to Chicago to be apart of the Ekballo Conference with our new friend, David Sitton. You can read more about what David and his team are doing here.

THE BOYS

Isaiah is cuter than ever and loving using the little bit of language that he has learned wherever he goes. He energetically and enthusiastically greats everyone that we pass and delights every passerby because of his joy and his efforts to communicate with them in their native tongue. It surprises them every time that this little blonde haired, blue eyed boy is speaking to them in their language. Isaiah is also VERY HAPPY to have his best friend from New Zealand join us with his brother and his parents.

Elisha turned 2 years old!! I can not believe it! My baby is growing so very fast and my heart just can’t keep up. He is delightful as ever bringing joy to all that he encounters. He is so affectionate and warms all of our hearts with his hugs and cuddles. He also is finding his temper and throws tantrums with the best of two year olds. He still isn’t interested in talking but we’re all ok with that because we love his gibberish. J I love watching him grow but want him to stay a baby forever too. I’m sure every parent can relate.

ANNA

I am doing well. It has been a crazy 4 ½ months! I have had more up’s and down’s than I can count and have thought numerous times about checking myself into a sanitarium. But, all in all, I am well. I feel honored to be here, ministering among these precious people. I have been deeply impacted by the warmth and hospitality of the people of this nation. I feel humbled that the Lord would bring me here and often feel I have little to offer but then of course I am reminded that no matter how warm and how hospitable these people are, if they don’t know Jesus they are going to hell. And it’s at that moment that I realize that that I have treasure of great value to offer these precious people. I’m marked by the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 1:27. I am weak and I am definitely foolish, therefore I am qualified. I am getting the hang of things here, making friends at the markets and the salon and even the stationary store. I am glad to be living here.

FAI

We have 3 new families and 1 young man that have joined us in the last month and a half. We have doubled in size and by May we will have tripled in size with still more dear saints joining us. In September we are running our first training school which you can read more about on our website. We are currently receiving applications and conducting interviews with prospective students. We have capped the number at 12 units. To us a “unit” includes single individuals, married couples as well as couples with children. We are excited to see what the Lord does during the time that we have these dear people that will join us for the school.

We are continuing in our language learning, which is challenging! But oh so rewarding every time we get to use what we have learned. We are making friends with neighbors, vendors, real estate agents, and anyone else we may happen to meet on the street. It’s not hard to make friends because of the warmth of the people. We’re meeting every morning for prayer and worship. WE meet twice a week for bible study, fellowship and prophetic exhortation from different ones in the community. We’re still learning, making lots of mistakes, and covered in lots of grace. The Lord is faithful and we are leaning in on Him for strength and guidance as we walk this journey.

I know my updates have been few and far between on this blog but it is sometime I desire to keep up. I have been sick for almost a month now, fighting a chest cold that I just can’t seem to shake. But, as I said, it is my desire to keep it up. Thanks for those who keep checking in to see if it’s been updated! It may take a while but eventually there will be something worth reading slapped up on here.

Pray for us! We need it. Pray for our family while Dalton is traveling. Pray for health in our family and community. Pray for us as we experience growth and the growing pains that come with it. Pray for grace upon grace upon grace to rest on our weak frames. We love you all and are so thankful for your love and support.

The End of a Year and the Beginning of Another

Here we are, finishing up 2012 and ringing in 2013, and I’m already dropping the ball in the blog department. Sigh. I guess it was inevitable.

Usually when this day of the year rolls around, you know, the very last one, I feel significance mounting up of things that the Lord has whispered or shouted in the previous year and expectations of what it looks like for those things to be fulfilled in the year ahead. This year, it just feels like any other day. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t taken the time to stop and reflect or what.

Something I have battled with for many, many years…if I’m honest as far back as I can remember…are my emotions. My emotions are like this extremely sensitive thermometer that reacts to even the most subtle changes of temperature or weather. It goes crazy. Even when my parents tell me stories of when I was a baby…there wasn’t much middle ground for me, I was happy or I was sad, none of this mediocre business for me. There have been times when I have absolutely hated this aspect of myself and wished that I were different. Then there have been moments when I love my ability to feel things intensely and deeply.

Why am I taking you on this emotional exploration of my soul you ask? Well, I guess it’s because as I think back to the time and attention and emotion that I put into reflecting on the year past and the year to come every new years I wonder, today as I feel very little at all, how much of it was Spirit wrought emotion and how much of it was flesh? I feel like as a human, I like things to be significant…I like to be significant. I don’t want to lead a dull and boring life. I want to feel important and feel like I am a part of something important. And so therefore New Years becomes a time of what could be, for me, emotional hype. It’s my tendency.

Now hear me, I am not saying that reflection and deliberate looking forward with expectancy and faith is a bad thing or is fake and emotional hype. No, I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is…it might be for me…personally. Sure, elements of it were good and helpful and blessed by the Lord. But I also think it was laced with my need and desire to feel significant and important and hyping myself up for things to seem bigger than perhaps they actually were.

So I guess what I’m feeling right now, at the end of this year and the beginning of the next, is a desire for authentic, born of the Spirit and not of the flesh, revelation of my significance not wrapped up in what prophetic words I may have heard spoken over me in the previous year or my expectations of the awesome and wondrous fire works show that I believe the Lord is mounting up and may just unleash it this next year but in the simple and yet incredible and endlessly profound truth that I am a daughter.

I am a part of the family of God. A phrase that has become religious rhetoric that never should have. It’s lost its meaning and has lost its weight because it has become all to familiar and ordinary. That is no ordinary statement and it grieves me that it has become one in my life. God, the Eternal, Immortal, Just, Flawless, Perfect, Self Sufficient, Self Sustaining, Beautiful, Majestic, All Powerful, King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s has adopted me, filthy, wretched, guilty, lost, confused, needy, no good within myself, bad, filled with hate, rebellious, disrespectful, dishonoring, mean, a prisoner to sin, me. He has brought me into His family and made me His own. He has covered me in the blood of His Son, washed me clean, put on garments of praise for my spirit of heaviness, called me by a new name and made me His forever.

The truth is, this hasn’t defined me in my own life yet. It hasn’t. There are far too many other things that define me and make me feel important. And all those things, they aren’t bad and they aren’t sinful. And many of them are more than likely gifts from Him to display His love for me. The Father doesn’t look upon me with disappointment in His heart. But I do believe there is still so much more freedom to be claimed and liberation to be had in the unlocking of my heart to the truth that I am a daughter of God. He loves me, provides for me, is committed to me, is patient with me, longsuffering with me and absolutely without reservation adores me.

I can’t tell you how badly I want my life to be utterly disrupted from its day-to-day activity with this revelation. I want to be bound up, consumed by, and defined by the love of the Father.

So, I guess that’s my New Years resolution. To set myself on this journey or exploration of the love that is wrapped around me like a blanket as we speak, covering me and keeping me, and have it radically transform me. That when I look back on 2013 I would be able to say “I have tasted and I have seen and I will never be the same again.”

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” John 3:1

The Glory of the Job

I just read an email that Dalton forwarded on to our whole team from a young man who’s laboring for the Lord in Europe. His brother was also serving the Lord in the Mid East and was martyred earlier this year. This young man was writing to encourage our team and affirm what we are doing here. His words were simple. As I read it “The Lorax” was playing in the background. My children were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the table. I was sitting on a nice comfy couch with my husband. And tears began to stream down my face as I felt once again the holiness of what the Lord has called us to.

Before we came here, when the Lord initially put forth the invitation to “lay down our lives” and forsake all the comforts of this earth that we cling to for the sake of the gospel going forth in regions of the earth where they still haven’t heard the name of Jesus uttered, we felt the weight of what He was inviting us to enter into. There was a deep sobriety and deep level of surrender that was taking place within our hearts. It was intense. On some levels we felt like we were marching to our death, because in very real ways we were. Our spirit man was clinging to our own cross and following Christ up that hill to Calvary. He was calling us to such a real place of surrender that we of course felt the heaviness of the call of Christ to forsake all else for the sake of His name.

But then we got here…and for a while we felt the weight of the sacrifice we made. It felt hard. We didn’t understand the language (still don’t). We missed our families. We were hot. We missed familiarity. We missed the ease and comforts of home. It all felt big and overwhelming and in so many ways we felt ill equipped for the task ahead of us.

After a while we started to settle. Things weren’t necessarily “normal” but they were beginning to reach a new level of normalcy to us. We were starting to get the hang of things. We got our TV to work. The weather started to cool off a bit. We got the hang of things around here, the bus system, grocery shopping. Cooking, the markets…foreign things started to become “normal”.

Just like life anywhere, things just get normal, and when they do, it’s easy to forget the honor and holiness of what we have been called to. I put my hand up, I forgot, even living here in the middle of this foreign land surrounded by people that do not have love for this Man. I forgot.

I am humbled that He has brought me here. That He would consider me worthy to be an ambassador of Christ. I don’t feel like one most days. I feel like a failure and a disappointment. But then in His kindness, for just a moment, He lets me feel the dignity He has bestowed upon me. The honor He has placed on me by inviting me into this holy calling of displaying the beauty and glory of God before man and before the principalities of the air that strongholds might be torn down and blind eyes might be opened and see for the very first time the worth of Christ, His beauty and splendor, and that their soul’s might be saved from an eternity spent apart from Him.

Excerpt from the email: I’m blessed to see (from a distance) the grace that God has given you and your team. I am highly convinced that these teams will shake the world in such dynamic ways as I have no doubt about the price for such world shaking…your words give me hope that God is and will continue to raise up many more people in our generation who will live for the advancement of the Kingdom instead of the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory…If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure with Him; we will also reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 8-12

 

 

Faith Like a Child

I am super envious of my children right now. Let me tell you why.

Yesterday, I was reclining on the couch reading a blog article on my phone when Elisha ran over to me and proceeded to climb up on me, nuzzle his way up on my chest and come in for some all intrusive, “I don’t care what you’re doing right now, I am the most important”, cuddles. It of course made me smile.

My kids do this to me all day long. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a conversations with someone, cooking dinner, washing the dishes, (trying) taking a break…whatever it is they want they belt it at me with all of their might until I drop what I’m doing and give them my undivided attention.

Most of the time, this frustrates me and I lose my cool and yell or rebuke them and occasionally handle it with grace and use it as an opportunity to teach them patience and manners.

So why am I envious of them you ask?

I wish, with every fiber of my being, that the confidence that they have, to presume upon my time, attention and affection, I shared with them for my (heavenly) Father.

Most of the time I’m frustrated with them for interrupting me once again and thinking that the world revolves around them but they just keep coming! Because they are sure that my world does in fact revolve around them! They are sure that I love them, even if I do get frustrated and irritated, they come back for more because it is their natural instinct to presume upon me for love, attention, time, energy, comfort, affection – whatever it is that their little bodies and hearts are telling them that they need.

But the Lord, He doesn’t get frustrated or irritated EVER when we presume upon His goodness. It is His greatest joy to lavish His kindness upon us. He wants us to presume upon Him every single time we are in need. He knows our frame. He knows our tendency to forget what He’s done for us and what He has promised to do for us and to lose hope. He knows that we are completely reliant upon Him for joy, peace, love, strength, rest, comfort…etc. That was His arrangement from the beginning, that we would need Him and run to Him in our time of need.

But I just don’t do that. I think I probably assume that He will react the way I react when my kids “bother” me. They keep coming back because they have goldfish memories and because they are sure that I love them. But I mean, I wouldn’t keep coming back to me?! And I think in my heart I believe that He is irritated with me, that I’m some kind of nuisance to Him, that He is irritated by my neediness.

But that’s not the case at all. He is good. He is longsuffering. He is patient. He is tender. He is loving. He is not easily frustrated. He is not easily angered. He is kind. He is the best.

If I could just have that same confidence and assurance that my kids have with me with the Lord, if I could just believe that it was a right that I had by being adopted into the family of God to presume upon His goodness…ugh…my life would be so.much.better.

Moral of this story? 2 fold.

  1. I want to be presumptuous with the Lord. Believe that He LOVES to love me and care for me through every single season of my soul.
  2. I want to be more Christ like in my response to my children. Lord grant me patience and gentleness in the way that I love and care for my own. Make me more like YOU!

I need this reality in my life right now. We all do.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

**I know this isn’t an update about the practical things of life right now but it is what is happening in my heart so I hope you don’t mind my epiphanies making their way onto this blog every once in a while.**

Looking for a City Whose Builder and Maker is God

Things are starting to calm down a bit while at the same time pick up a bit.

We’re slowly starting to find our bearings in this town and are starting to get used to the way of life here (as much as you can in 3 weeks). While we are getting the hang of things we are also beginning to meet regularly as a team for prayer meetings. Next week we will begin to have daily prayer meetings, which I am excited about! We were given an anonymous gift that will allow us to purchase a keyboard so that I can now share the load with Dalton in leading some of our sets throughout the week.  It will be so very good for my heart to be able to set my heart again in the place of devotion through the singing and praying of the Word. I have ached for it for some months now.

We have also begun language classes, which is both fun and daunting all at the same time. I am enjoying learning in a classroom type setting again but it also has been a very long time since I’ve been in this sort of learning context and the wheels of my brain are a bit tight and rusted. I’m being stretched. But it is an amazing experience to be able to sit in a classroom, learn some phrases, go out into the streets and begin to actually understand even just a little bit of the gibberish that has filled our ears over these last few weeks.  We have a long way to go, but at least we’re having fun right now!

Our exciting purchase over the week was a DVD player. The boys are pretty excited about this. To “rent” movies here you actually have to buy them and the most common way to do that is to go to the markets and buy bootlegged copies. There were already a few movies left in our house from the previous tenants, one of those movies being “Bolt”. It’s Isaiah’s new favorite. He almost has it memorized, which I am aware that that fact reveals my poor parenting because I have allowed him to watch enough to have it practically memorized! But it’s a nice break when the day is feeling overwhelming.

I watched it the other day with Isaiah while he just cuddled in my lap (love those rare moments) and as we approached the end I began to feel this watery substance formulating around my eyes and then running down my cheeks. I was surprised. What was happening? Was I truly crying at a John Travolta and Miley Cyrus movie? Worse, an animated John Travolta and Miley Cyrus movie?! It was at that point that I realized how fragile and tender my heart was…or that I was becoming psychotic. 

During the movie there is a point where Bolt the dog is realizing that his life is much different than it used to be and as he realizes that he also realizes that it will never be like it was ever again. His cat friend, “Mittens”, tries to help and encourage him by helping him adjust to this new way life. During this scene there is a song playing and the chorus goes a little something like this “There is no home like the one you got, ‘cause that home belongs to you.” I of course felt like I could really relate to this made up talking dog at this point. But there’s just something about it that just wasn’t quite satisfying that need for musical articulation of my current emotional state. And I decided that what bothered me was the line “…’Cause that home belongs to you”.

You see, nothing really belongs to me here, at least not a home and I don’t really expect to ever own while we’re on this earth. But then I got to thinking…nothing in this life truly belongs to us. I mean, we’ve been given things for a time, entrusted with relationships like spouses and children, but even they are only “ours” temporarily. But what does actually, truly belong to us…for keeps

Here’s where I started to like the song…the city of (the new) Jerusalem that will come down from the sky with the Man that will be sitting and ruling the nations with His iron scepter from His throne on Mt. Zion…that place, that place is mine…for keeps! So while I may, for the rest of my time here on earth, jump from house to house that is never my own, gain things only to lose them a few months or a few years later, there is coming a day when I will know what the rest of my life looks like and it will be all satisfying, full of pleasures and treasures and joy that will never ever be taken away from me…not ever!

So, I may not have a home that belongs to me…but I think I’m ok with that. Sure, I have my moments of discomfort where I throw temper tantrums like my 3 year old because I just want to have “a normal life”…but those are the times that I hope to lift my eyes up to that eternal hope that is coming for me and will keep me and satisfy me all the days of my life on this side of time and the next.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Heb. 11:8-10)

I’m holding out for that city who’s Builder and Maker is God. 

Grace

This week has flown by. Tomorrow will mark two weeks of being in the land. In many ways it feels like it should be 2 years. But mostly I still feel like a foreigner. The truth is, there have been a lot of difficulties since we’ve arrived. Sickness, fatigue, jet lag, exhaustion, emotional meltdowns…the whole gamut.

The hardest thing for me has been our boys. My Eli is the sweetest natured little butterball, always smiling and happy unless he has reason not to be and extremely easy going. Since we arrived, he has been so upset, will barely eat anything and extremely clingy with me. Isaiah has a short fuse, he is easily frustrated and easily loses his cool. Don’t get me wrong, they are still a delight and we have had a lot of sweet moments, but so far this has not been an easy transition for them.

Tonight as I was putting them to bed I began to say our nigh nigh prayers and I began to cry, which is not unusual. For some reason when I put the boys to bed my heart is incredibly tender and I almost always cry when I pray for them or read bible stories with them. Anyway, I began to cry and I asked the Lord for grace, as I always do. But tonight it dawned on me, His grace is covering us right this very moment. It is upholding us, surrounding us, enfolding us and keeping us. And then it provoked the question, “What if it wasn’t?”  You see, I often ask Him for grace as if I haven’t touched it yet or felt it yet, but tonight I thought, “What if the grace that has been given to us was removed, right now, or even just slightly withheld for a moment?” I all of a sudden became so incredibly grateful for the grace that was already present in my life. Instead of begging Him for more, I, in that moment, felt like I could actually see the odious amounts of grace that were already oozing all over us. Even now as I’m writing this I just feel so humbled. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I feel so very weak. My humanity is continually failing me and falling short. But to think about what it would be like, what it would feel like if His kindness wasn’t towards me right now, that His smile wasn’t over me, that His tender hand wasn’t upholding me?

99% of my day, I feel nothing. I am unaware of His nearness or His delight in me. I feel numb and I just hope to make it through the day. However, I know that His grace is covering me simply because His Word says it is and He promises that He gives it in our time of need and that it is sufficient in every circumstance of life and every season of the soul. He promised, therefore it is.

But tonight as I prayed, it was as if He opened my eyes and when He did, it wasn’t that He let me feel all those things that I long to feel, He just allowed me to consider and think upon a life where those things didn’t exist, the promise of them, the gift of them being there even when I can’t hear, see, smell or feel them, and the condition I would be in if they didn’t.

So tonight, I don’t want to ask Him for more as if He isn’t already richly lavishing it upon me because if He wasn’t I litteraly wouldn’t be able to stand under the weight of darkness. I would crumble and die and that is not an exaggeration, all of us would! I am so very thankful for His unseen and seemingly unfelt grace that keeps me from so much folly and harm and keeps my way upright and my feet steady. I am so very thankful for the kindness He bestows on me every moment of every day. I am so thankful that He is so incredibly faithful and has never left His post at my heart. He is a good, good God and I love Him.

I will end on one of those sweet moments that I had or have with Isaiah. He loves to read his Jesus Story Book Bible (thanks Joel and Katherine!) and lately when we look through the pictures he asks what everyone’s name is – he’s quite satisfied with all of my answers but every time, and I mean every time, we get to Jesus he says to me “What’s his name?” and I reply with “That’s Jesus” and he says to me “No, that’s God”. And every time he says it, I say “You are absolutely right, Isaiah.” I am so thankful every time I hear those words come out of his mouth. I don’t know where he got it from, I’m sure I’ve told him before that Jesus is God, but never deliberately while reading stories. I don’t know if he knows how profound what he is saying is, especially in the area that we are living in when so many just believe he was another prophet. My prayer is that this will be the message that marks my son’s life. That he will grow up proclaiming the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh and that He is coming again in that same Jewish body that He came in the first time. But He’s not just a man, He is THE God Man.

“He’s not just a teacher, He’s not one of many, He’s the very Son of God…”

P.S. I will try and get some pictures up here soon. I know that’s what most of you are wanting! You just have to put up with my ramblings until then! 🙂

A Whole New World

“A new fantastic point of view…”

It’s a new way of life here. And the funny thing is, I don’t even know fully how new it really is. So far I have only been “confronted” with the newness of practical things.

Not having a car. Walking everywhere. Buying fruit and veg from the markets. Using google translate to figure out what kind of meat or cheese or ANYTHING that I’m buying at the supermarket. Sweating constantly. Dusty roads. Dirty feet. Washing machines in the kitchen. Kitchens smaller than my parents guest bathroom. Different words for thank you, hello, goodbye. No flushing toiletpaper…etc. The list could go on.

But we haven’t even made it into a local’s home yet. I haven’t even had the opportunity to watch them interact, socialize, work, relax.

We’re taking it slow. We talked tonight about giving the first 2-3 years to 80% language learning and 20% ministry with the idea that once we hit year 2 or 3 we could flip flop the numbers and give 20% to language study and 80% to ministry. So, we’re easing our way into things.

We’ve only been here for 5 days today – which is crazy! It feels more like 5 weeks. I can barely even remember what my parents house smells like or feels like and yet we were there just over a week ago?

By the end of the day, I’m exhausted – the combination of walking everywhere, the heat and constantly having your brain wired to translation – it’ll wear a girl out. Not to mention the fact that I have been sick, along with at least one other person in our family, pretty much since we’ve arrived. But, I’m getting better and so is the rest of our family. And feeling physically tired at the end of the day is nice. It feels like it’s how we ought to feel. Like we’ve put the effort in, not wasted our minutes (though I still can and am sure once I get settled will wrestle just as much as I used to, to be deliberate with my time). It feels good. But I am tired and am going to have to learn to keep up with this new way of life.

Isaiah’s favorite story in his bible right now is “the storm”. The one where Jesus falls asleep on the boat and the disciples sail right into a massive storm that is just mutilating them and their boat and they just can’t take it any longer so they wake Jesus up frantically and ask, “Don’t you care?!”  And then, in a moment, in a word, Jesus silences the waves and the winds and the thunder and the lightening and the chaos stops. I guess what’s striking  me mostly about this story, is that the disciples tried for a while to do it on their own and when they couldn’t they grew frustrated and scared and even offended that Jesus was still sleeping. But all the while, all they really needed to do was remember who was on the boat with them. In Isaiah’s bible it says, “The waves and the winds stopped, the recognized His voice for it was the very same voice that created them.” The One in the boat with them was the One that created and stirred up the elements to make that monumental storm – He was laying in the boat with them. And all was revealed when they finally asked Him for help. It was taken care of in a second.

Moral of the story? I’m hoping and praying that I will remember who is in the boat with me. I don’t think I’m in any kind of storm. But I do think I’m in new and unfamiliar territory and it’s terrain that I need help walking. It’s uncomfortable for me, unfamiliar, and at times frightening. I know that if I forget to ask Him for help, I’ll become consumed with not only fear, but offense at His seemingly apathetic response to the chaos that is surrounding me and overcoming me. I’ll confuse His absolute peace for indifference and laziness and maybe even powerlessness. I would much rather know the One who is laying in the boat with me. The One who sleeps deeply and peacefully and is unmoved by the bigness of the storm…because He is so.much.bigger. He knows more about the storm than I do. But the storm certainly exposes not only what is really inside of me and how much I still need to be sanctified but it also exposes how I see Him. I hope that in the midst of this “storm” I learn to calmly, naturally, and certain of who is INSIDE THE BOAT WITH ME, call upon Him for help.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess…Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14, 16