Monday, January 26, 2015

bigger is better?

We live in a world where "bigger is better." The bigger the engine, the faster it goes. The bigger the baby the healthier it may be. But then you read Matthew 17.

"I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20).

A mustard seed is small...very small. If one has faith as small as that, mountains can be moved. That is hard for me to grasp folks. Mountains are HUGE, mustard seeds are little specks, often over looked as one journeys through life. How can something so small affect something so big? How can something so powerless, affect something that is so solid?

But then I look at the seed. What is a seeds purpose? To be planted in healthy soil. Once it is planted in healthy soil and properly nurtured, roots take form. The roots secure it to the land and give it strength. After the roots form, a stem is formed. As the stem pushes up, it has to have the force to break through the soil. As the stem grows, it because flexible. Flexibility is the key, because wind and storms are going to come and push up against the stem and it needs to have the ability to face the storm and not break. If the stem breaks, it is most likely because the roots were not strong enough to handle the storm.

As in life, there are moments when storms push in and surround you. Are you flexible enough to withstand them? Are your roots strong enough to secure you to the soil that nourishes you for your life?

When I think about the size of a tiny seed and the size of a massive mountain, I cannot comprehend how something so small can change something so massive. But they I think about the children at BG. They have faced massive things in their life, but it only takes somethings small to change their heart. Some of the children come and they are scared. Fear is their mountain. Others come in guarded. Trust is their mountain. But then I see the amazing staff and volunteers at BG come in and plant a tiny seed of love and nourish and help it grow and the mountains begin to move. I have seen this time and time again and I pray everyday that God will use me to plant seeds of love into those around me.

It doesn't need to be bigger to be better. It just needs to be genuine.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"I'm not in Kansas anymore"

I arrived at Beautiful Gate on Friday. What a feeling to walk on campus and hear the staff celebrating and the children chanting my name and running to me. I found it funny that there are a lot of new children and even though they did not know me they came running as well. It was a great time running around with them in my arms, as well as going into each and every house greeting the housemothers and meeting the new little babies. When I got on campus my friend Anita was at a meeting off campus. It was such a good feeling to talk out of a baby house and see her searching for me in the other houses. Coming to BG is a home coming for me. Every six months I leave a little piece of my heart here and when I come back I get reunited with it.

On Saturday, my housemates went into South Africa for the afternoon, I was excited to just spend the day relaxing at BG, playing with the children and getting organized so I stayed back. In the afternoon I took two of the older children on a walk. I loved this time with them. One of the boys has special needs and has very bad vision. As we walked he would trip and loose his balance on the dirt paths. The other boy would grab his hand and tell him where we were and if we heard an animal, he would explain what kind it was and what color it was. It was so good to see these two helping each other. The boy with the vision impairment is so funny. When he would trip and I would help him up, he would say "I am so clever." I could feel my heart growing every time. He didn't care that he had a hard time seeing, which caused him troubles getting around, he was so excited to be off campus walking around that he soaked in it all with joy.

On our walk, we saw an elderly woman hunched over walking with a cane very slowly. Her tattered clothes and wholly shoes made me assume she did not have much. There was a little boy walking with her, about 5 or 6 years of age. He was carrying a bucket of water back to their house. He was so focused on not spilling it, but when walking on uneven dirt roads, that is a tough thing to do. Every time any amount of water splashed out of the bucket the elderly women would take a switch and hit the young boy. He had tears running down his face as he stepped. I can only imagine the tears were a mix of the physical pain and the emotional pain of knowing that he was failing her expectation. As I thought about each splash on the ground, I thought about every time I failed an expectation of someone else or myself. With each set you feel the pain and you weep because in your heart your desire to do one thing, but the path you are on can cause obstacles that do not allow you to achieve that task. During those moments you may receive verbal or physical correction from someone and it hurts. Let's face it none of us want to let another person down. But the joy and hope we have as Christians is that with every step, our Father provides a place to put our feet. There maybe moments when the ground is rocky and uneven and it is hard, but there is always a place to step. There may be moments when the road is smooth and the journey seems easy to pass. On each journey we need to take heart, because as the gospel of John says, "I have told you these things so that in me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (16:33).

Currently I am a part of an accountability group in the States that is reading through the Bible. The past few days we have been reading in Matthew about how the Lord loves his children. He does not want anything to harm them or be put in their way. He adores them. As Matthew 18:6 says, "If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large milestone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." I am not sure about you, but that doesn't sound good to me. With every step of our journey let us find ways to grab children by the hand and guide them on the walk. Let us be like the two boys at BG who help each other and use our specific gifts to encourage those around us. Let us not take out our switches, either physical or verbal, and only guide through pointing out the faults of those we are with.

May we all be like God's children who walk in faith not by sight and laugh at our obstacles, because the Lord is using the journey to make us "clever."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Full arms

Here I sit, looking out the kitchen window seeing the beautiful sun reflecting off the white snow and thinking ahead to Friday when I will be seeing the hot sun beating down on a yard filled with green grass and little chocolate babies running around. The stillness and quietness that the Michigan winter brings will be replaced with the noises of African summer.

Tomorrow is the day. My bags are almost packed and most of the goodbyes are done. I am ready, in fact I have been ready for awhile. This year is different than years past. I am not sure if I just guarded myself a little more state side knowing I would be leaving again, or if the Lord has changed my heart to transition. Either way, I am ready to have my arms full again. I love being "state side." I get to see my family, be with my friends, worship at my church and travel around telling people about some of the most joyful people I have met. But through it all, my arms have seemed empty. In Lesotho they are full of kids, staff and volunteers. The sweetness of a tiny hand grasping mine and ready to go anywhere, as long as we walk together. When I am "state side" and people ask me what I miss, it is that, full arms.

This year I have heard the overwhelming message of dependance. In depending on God for everything, it is easier to say goodbye to the comforts of home, because it isn't my home. My family and friends and church are not mine. They all belong to God. No matter where I go He will provide. Now don't get me wrong, it still hurts to be far away from those I love. It isn't the big things that I miss, because social media covers those. The things I miss are the random text messages from a friend about everything and nothing at the same time. Or riding in the car and hearing my nephews and nieces sing at the top of their lungs to the radio (I have no idea where they got that from.) I will miss catching someone's eye at church while worshipping and knowing the sweetness of their worship. It is the little everyday things like "wing night" that I miss. But the great thing is when I depend on God for everything He gives me moments like those in Lesotho. A conversation with a friend about everything and nothing at the same time. Grabbing my guitar and singing with the kids at BG and leading worship with groups at BG and experiencing the sweet worship that it brings. It is there, I just need to depend on Him to provide those moments.

Friends, thank you for journeying this walk with me. It is overwhelming when I meet some one you for the first time and you tell me about a blog I wrote or a story I have shared in a presentation. You all remind me the importance of what the Lord has called me to. For me, flying to Lesotho and doing life there is a lot like how a lot of you see flying to Florida for spring break. I know the people i will meet, the places I go and the church I attend down there. It is routine for me. But in the routine there are moments where God reminds me I need to depend on Him for the energy, strength and joy to preserve through the "normalcy" of life in Lesotho.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. May the God of hope fill you all as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope. (Romans 13:15).

Some people have asked me how I pick my dates of travel. I will be honest when I look at flying I look at price. When the travel agent told me this week was the cheapest to fly out, I choose January 14. There was no question in it. January 14 was my friend Lindy's birthday. When I was wrestling with serving in Lesotho, she told me "Go. I got your back." I can't imagine a better way to celebrate her birthday and her life by doing just that. Happy birthday Lindy. I am sure the party in Heaven is amazing.