Monday, April 25, 2011

It's not mine...

Easter morning we walked outside to something unexpected: my car in disarray with CDs strewn about the seats and my junk flung from the front seat to the back window. I was about to ask Steven what he was looking for when I realized someone had broken into my car. After a quick check, we realized that the only thing missing was 25 cents in nickels from my cup holder. Even as such, I was a little shook up. There is something violating about someone being in your life without being invited. It feels wrong that someone would be able to riffle through your things to pick what fits their fancy. On the way to church, I cried. I felt stupid for crying because I knew it wasn't a big deal. Steven validated my feelings as normal and then took my hand and thanked God for knowing that this would happen and taking care of us.
It reminded me of the story of one of my missionary friends in Guatemala. She was pulled over while driving and asked (in a very roundabout way) for a bribe. She declined. As he pushed her more, he threatened to take her car and she said, "That' fine. It's not my car anyways." And the office asked, "Whose car is it?" She proudly declared: "It's Jesus' car." The officer was so confused but insisted, "No, it's your car and we are going to impound it if you do not give us something." And she calmly said, "You can have it, its Jesus' car." The man angrily let her go, not wanting to take Jesus' car.
As I thought about that story in relation to what happened to me Easter morning, I realized that I too should think that way. Everything I have belongs to Jesus. He has given me these things on loan to use for his purpose and for his glory. If someone else takes it, they are stealing from Jesus.
I decided right then and there to take a dollar bill and put it in my glove box as a reminder to me and a warning if anyone ever breaks into my car again. Stapled to the dollar is a note that reads: If you have broken into this car, know that the car and everything in it belongs to Jesus. Whatever you take is Jesus'.
Everything I am, everything I have belongs to Him. It's not mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

When Life's Not Easy...

Life's not looking so good today and tomorrow's not looking any better. Not only is there no fruit, there's not even a bud to give me hope that fruit will come soon. There's nothing in the barn and so how can I even hope that there will be more! It's all gone and I have nothing left to give.
Yesterday at church, Matt finished up his sermon series on Habakkuk and it just made me think. At the beginning of the book, he is complaining that God won't do anything and God says, Oh I WILL do something, but you're not going to like it. At the end of the book Habakkuk looks around and says, "There is nothing left and no hope that it'll get any better." Here comes my favorite part: YET I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength.
In the blink of an eye, you can lose it all: health, wealth, family, friends. When it is all gone and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better, what is your outlook on life?
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer, his responce: If one person comes to know the Lord through my sickness, it'll all be worth it.
I do not have cancer, nor am I homeless. I haven't lost my husband or been betrayed by a close friend... Steven's just in seminary. But even there, I hide from struggle. I hate suffering. I want it to be a pleasant and easy ride with not too many bumps in it.
(I must preface the following paragraph: I'm about to be very honest, so if you can't handle reading my messiness, I would suggest you stop reading now.)
Instead, I have found myself frustrated with the workload. I found myself irritated at, what seemed to me as legalistic theology and griping at the burden of seminary tuition. This morning I had an epiphany. I am actually thankful for the struggles that seminary has brought into our marriage. It has caused me to pray more fervently for my husband, seek the Lord more passionately in my own life and united us together as we fight for a single goal. Prayer has so saturated our hearts that it has welded them together. I've realized that that is something only hardship can bring. Ease can not bring about the same closeness that struggle can.
My struggle may be nothing compared to what you daily undergo, but I have determined in my heart to no longer run from suffering. I want to be like Habakkuk and say even if it's looking bad today and worse tomorrow, I will find my joy, hope and peace in the lover of my soul for He is the only one who cannot be taken away from me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

So that God might be displayed...

Shanell and I have become friends in the past several months over stories and mop buckets. She is a beautiful, feisty mama with 9 kids that come in and out of her house, 4 of which are hers. On top of that, she has been helping out with the maintenance of the school while another employee is not able. To say the least, she is a busy woman.

Every morning I hear the usual "hello sugar" greeting as she passes my window. Last week she was exceptionally excited, so I inquired as to why. Her and her husband were invited to a medical facility that helps kids with glasses. Two of her husband's girls needed glasses, so they made it a family event and all went. Her oldest son, Dean is 16 years old and was born with no sight in one eye and impaired vision in the other. His eyes are both lazy and, as you can imagine high school kids are very unforgiving.

While they were there waiting their turn, the camera crew from News 4 was setting up to capture the other children as they received their new glasses. They asked if Dean would sit in the seat to get the lighting right since the rest of the children were engaged with other doctors. A doctor happened to catch Dean out of the corner of his eye and call him over. Before they knew what was happening, the doctor said to Shanell, "I want to help Dean." Come to find out, this doctor has been correcting eyes for over 40 years and Dean's condition is his specialty!

Tears blurred Shanell's vision as she raised her hands in the air and said, "God's gonna heal my baby!" As we talked, she told how she took him to doctors, clinics, healing services and preachers... but everyone said nothing could be done. Many people told her that Dean had this because he was born out of wedlock or that she had commited some sin.

It brought to my mind the story of the blind man where the disciples asked: "Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Jesus' response: "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." God took one doctor on one specific day to restore one 16-year-old boy's eyes so that GOD might be displayed in his life!

The surgery took place on Thursday and couldn't have gone smoother. Today, he has returned to school, eyes no longer lazy, vision restored in one eye and able to see lights and blurry images out of the other. Shanell told me today how perfect God's timing is. "He will be 17 in September. Once a child is 17, they can no longer do this type of surgery because the brain is fixed. Jesus knew the exact day and time he wanted to heal my baby."

Tears crept into my eyes as I rejoiced with my friend over the healing of her son and the goodness of our Father.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Song that Gets You Every Time...

I don't know about you, but there are songs that no matter how many times I've heard them, they will always stirs something up within my heart. It brings tears to my eyes and puts images in my head of another day and time. I heard that song this morning on the way to work.

It's the song of the redeemed

Rising from the African plain

Its the song of the forgiven

Drowning out the Amazon rain

The song of Asian believers

Filled with God's holy fire

It's every tribe, every tongue, every nation

A love song born of a grateful choir

My mind begins to swim with memories of Kenyan women dancing and singing their hearts out. I see Ecuadorian girls waving flags and lifting holy hands. I watch Burmese believers pray with an excitement I can only dream of. It takes me to a different place and time and suddenly I am there too. My eyes fill with tears and I sing with them, Glory Glory Hallelujah He reigns!

As the song comes to a close, I open my eyes once more to find that I am sitting in my car getting ready to start another day of work. Oh how I long to be there, but right now I am here, in a culture that some days feels more foreign to me than that of Ecuador.

But God's time is never wasted. Recently we have had lots of opportunities to minister to our neighbors upstairs. They are not super open, but the Lord is doing a work. On Sunday, Steven met a friend of theirs and a conversation ensued. She was outside smoking on their balcony and Steven was putting something in my car. Before you know it, she is asking Steven all about sin and Jesus. I was inside cooking and praying my heart out as my amazing husband looked up at her and answered her questions one by one.

That evening we all hung out and she began to tell me about her 98 year old sweet grandmother who wants to just "go home." I was able to share with her about my sweet grammee that just went home and how I know for sure that she is there waiting for me. She smiled at me a very genuinely and asked me if she could come to church with us the next time she is in town.

So even though I don't get to daily praise God with my friends around the world, I am very aware the the Lord is at work here in Dallas.

One day every tongue, tribe and nation will surround his throne with praises, but until then, my heart will be pulled toward that day each time I hear that song...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sometimes it's Messy...

"Over a Cup of Coffee" was me... just me telling people's stories. But now it’s not just me anymore. Now we are "we" and this is our story. Steven and I have a lot of differences: from the way we organize or lack there of, to the way we run, or lack there of. There is one thing very important, we share the same heart: We love telling stories and we love people.
One of my earliest memories of our time together was sitting in coffee shops laughing and telling stories. I HEARD about most of his friends before I ever shook one of their hands. He is my favorite person to tell a good story to and to hear one from.
One thing we have both learned well, if you love people and are willing to invest in their lives, Sometimes its Messy.
People's stories tend to draw you in and it’s hard to leave without getting some blood and dirt on you. When we agreed to be together forever, we knew that meant life would be much messier together, but that it would be worth it. We agreed to get our hands dirty in other people's lives and to live our lives to the fullest following after Christ.
So this is our story... no promises that it'll be all flowers and beautiful because if we're going to be honest, Sometimes it is Messy.
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy telling it.