Sunday, February 12, 2017

For the Days When You Are Surrounded By Brokenness.....


I've witnessed brokenness today.
Lately, it seems I see it all around me.
If I open the news home page on the computer {which I purposely don't do very much any more}, it's there.
If I pay attention at all when I leave my house, I see it.
Sadly, in my home, with my own family, I feel it.

This morning started with someone sharing a broken heart.
I felt as if the hurting one might split apart from the pain.
I moved to teaching time, and in between songs and lessons and words of correction, I saw it staring back at me from the eyes of adults and children alike.
While home this afternoon, I had to deal with my children, little hearts and minds being guided by broken, sinful ideals.
Tonight, I witnessed a beating.
Yes, because sometimes here I get to see brokenness not in the uncomfortable ways that I can shut my heart and eyes to, but in it's most raw, savage forms.
Brokenness so immense that I can't hide from it.
I feel as if I might shatter.

In the past weeks and months I've sat and listened to story after story.
Women who feel as if others have broken them.
Mamas who want to love their babies well, yet feel so inadequate, so broken that they can't fulfill their duties.
Ladies who want to do right, but feel is if all they can ever do is mess up.
Others posing their questions, or shouting their anger, or spewing their hatred online, trying to cover up their pain and brokenness by wearing their self-made armor.

The brokenness cuts deeply, and I've asked myself how I can answer the questions, guide the conversations, help people to see the only One who can fix the most broken of us.
The answer comes from a woman carrying a small creamy-white jar.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye heave the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
There, looking up at me from the pages of Scripture is the truth:
brokenness can only ever be healed by more brokenness.
Me, being broken and spilled out, not for others, but as a gift to Jesus,
while pointing them always, only to the One who was broken for us.

All the right words cannot heal the brokenness.
Gifts, advice, hugs, time, notes, none of these can heal those who feel torn apart.
I can never repair the brokenness.
There is but one sure medicine ~
the love of The Broken One freely shared through my own brokenness.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

For the Days When You Are Afraid to Trust....



It's Monday afternoon and we are out for our weekly nature study.
After a very "monday-ish" Monday it is necessary to get all of us out of the house and into the fresh air.
I hope maybe it will lift the dark cloud everyone seems to be under.
We find a road on the University campus we've not walked before and decide to follow it wherever it will lead.

My mind and heart are full.
Maybe everyone has been feeling my heavy mood today and feeding off of it?
It is entirely possible.

It is dry season and we are never sure what we will find growing.
The weather here right now feels much like I've felt over this past year -- dry and shriveled.
We pass a huge termite mound and the girls enjoy trying to see if anyone is home.
On the other side of the road is a field.
Most of the undergrowth is brown and papery.
As this is the tropics, there is always some grass and weeds growing, but then I see a spot of fire in an otherwise plain clearing.
It is a lily, and the moment I see it, I'm transported to another day long ago, a day when I felt many of the same emotions churn in my soul.





We had been in Ghana just a few months, and we were deep in culture shock.
God chose deep immersion for us, and I felt as if I was drowning.
I was overwhelmed by everything - the culture, the climate, the language, the food, the relationships, the enormity of the task before us, but most of all, my own sinfulness.
A wise woman told Isobel Kuhn that when she reached the mission field, "all the scum of your nature will rise to the top."
I was seeing that truth unfold in me just as it had in Isobel, and I felt hopeless.
God in His love and sovereignty was allowing me to see myself for who I truly was, but all I wanted to do was run and hide.





One afternoon John thought it would be good to get out of our tiny apartment and try to practice our language skills and so we walked to an area where we had met some people.
They weren't home, and so after trying to greet a few new people we started the long walk home another way.
I don't remember us talking much on that long trek back to our community, but I do remember being on the verge of tears most of the time.
God had called me to this life, but I felt as if somebody had failed.
Most of the time, I was positive that it was me, but from time to time a voice would whisper that maybe the one who had messed up wasn't me, but God.






I was alone, my faith was about gone, and I didn't feel I could trust anyone with my secret fears.

And at that moment, God gave me a gift.
Not because He had to, but because He IS good.
We were crossing a bridge on a busy road, and as I looked down into the dirty, smelly gutter next to that bridge, I saw a beautiful red canna lily growing right up out of the sludge.
How could something so brilliant and lovely take root in that horrible place?
The Holy Spirit's gentle whispers brought His words to my mind, "Consider the lilies....."
His truth and His creation gave peace to my soul on that hard, hard day.
He could be trusted.





My mind snaps back to the present.

My family isn't far down the road, so I know I've not mused long, but in that short window of time, God has reminded me of time after time I've felt that I couldn't trust God again.....

when He asked us to trust Him to give birth to our first child on the field with no one to help us and how he provided a hospital, new friends, and a place to stay for free.

when we needed a new place to rent and He provided one for a fifth of what we had been paying for accommodations.

when God convicted me about submitting to my husband, and by His grace helped me to obey Him and in turn God changed John.

when we prayed for many long years for more children and after five years He gave us two more.

when we sought healing for our Lili's heart and instead He gave us doctors and a hospital here in Ghana and all the money we needed to pay for her heart surgery.

when we had people lie about us and betray us and God kept us safe through the storm.

when we needed a car badly, because it was so difficult to use public transportation with a family of six, and He gave us one for exactly the amount someone had gifted us for whatever needs we had.

when our baby church got kicked out of our rented school rooms and God gave us a new and better place on the last day we had.

immigration problems, and paperwork problems, and people in sin, and our own sin problems, and people needing to be saved, and He never failed us once.












I gaze at that orange and yellow flower flaming at my feet, and one of the verses that God gave us when He called us to Ghana settles in my mind....
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 
It is enough.
He can be trusted.
I run to join my family with trust ignited anew in my soul.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Reflections




Our year 2016 was not the year we planned at all.
We have been...
tired,
tried,
worn,
weary,
broken,
faint.
And yet, God has been with us each day, showing us that this was the way He had for us to walk.



He has
strengthened,
sustained,
guided,
spoken,
loved,
taught,
comforted.




Though I would have never chosen these days for myself, I am thankful He was wise enough to choose them for me.
He knows what is best for my life and the lives of those I love,
and I've seen His hand holding,
His words leading,
His voice comforting and convicting,
and His goodness prevailing.


I have seen again and again that He is not safe, but He is good.






We have seen God work in so many hearts and lives this year, not the least our own.
We are blessed more than I can recount to be allowed to serve the Lord and raise our family here in Ghana.
He is building His church, and He is growing His people.








There have been numerous times this year when I was so bone-tired that I didn't know if I could do the next thing He had for me,
when I was pouring out so much that I felt I would never have enough,
when all I could do was plead with God for mercy.
And every single time I was at that place,
God renewed me,
sustained me,
filled me afresh,
and wrapped His loving arms around me.
He gave me the truths I needed every time I needed to be reminded.









And then, in His kindness, He gave us time to rest.
To quiet our schedule,
our hearts,
our minds,
our home,
our family,
and make a peaceful place of joy,
and hope,
and renewal,
and refilling,
and fun.
Because He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.



Now that we've had our sabbath, we are ready to do what He has called us to next.
We are rested and ready to step into this new year following Him wherever He leads.



The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

Sunday, December 11, 2016

And We Wait.....

 










The tree is up.
The ornaments are hung.
Garlands are draped and lights are twinkling.
We count the days.
We read the books.
We watch the movies.
We listen to the music.
And we wait.




We go about our daily duties.
We learn.
We clean.
We cook.
We play.
But this month we add more.
We bake the special treats.
We cook the fancy meals.
We hide away to craft gifts and wrap presents.
And we wait.





This month we've had to wait for the results of our country's elections.
We don't leave the house.
We pray.
We listen to the radio.
We check the news dozens of times a day.
We hold our breath.
And we wait.





Every day we inch a bit closer to the day we celebrate Jesus' birth.
Emmanuel, God with us.
We think of how He came, and why He came, and we try to wrap our finite minds around infinite love.
Jesus, the One who will save His people from their sins.
We tell the beautiful story again.
We sing the carols.
And we wait.