Tuesday, September 20, 2011

O Magnify...

What does my life magnify?

  -the wretchedness, the anguish, the evil of the world around me?
  -the peculiar faults and needs of the people I work with?
  -the failures and weaknesses of my loved ones?
  -my own pain, my inadequacies, my fears, my burdens?

Or perhaps,
  -my possessions, my family, my ministry, my gifts?
  -my ambitions, my dreams, my experience, my achievements?
  -my opinions, my wisdom, or my goodness?

Oh, let it be none of that!  My heart cries with Mary, "My soul does magnify the LORD, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."  So, what does magnifying God look like in my life?  It is praise and thanksgiving, especially when it is costly.  It is inviting God to transform me by the renewing of my mind, although old thought patterns are easier.  It is living each moment in the reality that life is all about Jesus, and Jesus only.  It is not beating up my old self, but simply not taking it into consideration at all.  Surrendering my will for His, even when mine feels better...  Looking at life with eternity in my heart...  Expressing joy when I don't feel like it...  Showing appreciation when it's not deserved...  Loving people who don't make me look good...  Speaking words of life in place of condemnation...  Dispelling fear with trust and love...

What about magnifying God to my children?  Do they know that honoring God is the most important thing in my life?  What do they see when my plans are thwarted, my will crossed, my expectations not met?  Do they see me stress over my dirty house but careless about the hurting person beside me in church?  Obsessed with being right but casual about being loving?  Eager to invest in what directly benefits me, and reluctant to sacrifice for the sake of another?  Free to criticize behind someone's back, while being sweet to their face?

What would they say my life magnifies?  Me... or Jesus?

Friday, September 2, 2011


I have always been inquisitive by nature. I want to know the how, the why, and the because of everything. I love to learn and I abhor stagnation. In my journey with God, I ask questions, lots of them. I'm not the meek, resigned saint who dares not to wonder why; rather, I am the persistent two year old who trails after Daddy asking dozens of questions and responding to each answer with "Why?". Maybe that says something about my maturity- after all, Josh asked wa-a-ay more questions at two years old than he does now at fourteen. There have been times when my questions were demanding and I even tried bargaining with God in an effort to hear from Him, but now- I ask questions not so much because I expect to get answers, but because voicing them helps put them into perspective. That's how I've felt this week as I grapple with the death of the only son of my missionary cousin in West Africa. Christopher was a gift to his family and I know they loved him as such, but how could they know that the assignment of his life was for only ten short years? What parent is ever prepared for the searing pain of laying to rest the flesh and blood that they conceived and birthed and nourished and cherished? How do they go on living while dying, rejoicing while mourning, being strong when their world has fallen apart? How do they grieve the loss of one child while celebrating the gift of the remaining three? In the midst of such agony, how do they show the goodness of God to the world who is watching, or perhaps more importantly, to their own children? Is this anguish really worth the salvation of even one soul who may be watching?  My heart lies exposed to view as I wrestle with the questions. It is humiliating to realize that I have been economy-minded instead of heavenly-minded; that I want my sacrifices to insure me from grief and pain.

But I am slowly learning a few things...  One, that peace lies not in answers that I can grasp and interpret, but in JESUS.  Peace is relinquishing my right to know and to control, and resting in the goodness of God even when I can't feel it.  After reading a letter written this week by Christopher's mama, I am in awe at how abundant the grace and peace of God really is.  I do not doubt the intensity of the pain and the finality of death, but the faith shining forth from their broken hearts assures me anew of the greatness of my God.   My questions fall to the dust and I simply worship Him.  

Christopher, you never knew how many people would be touched by your death.  Eric, Martha, Marissa, Carolyn, and Bethany- you are being prayed for now more than ever before in your lives.  Who knows what  fruit may come forth from your sacrifice and the prayers invested in your family?  The Lamb will receive the reward of His sufferings in your lives, even now!  ...We love you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breakfast Table Conversation

Six year old: "When I get big, I am going to live in the States!"

Ten year old: "Why?"

Six: "Because that's where my friends are. And my uncles."

Three year old, giggling: "Uncles? Your uncles live in the states? Your uncles are on your feet!"

Mandie Jane, you light up my life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Spoiling of Our Goods

It was inevitable. For weeks we had been noticing the prowlers in the wooded property bordering ours; people chopping wood, taking bananas, digging in the dirt. Our egg-laying chickens were disappearing at an alarming rate so we put up extra lights between the shop and the hen house. But as is always the case, we do not calculate like thieves do and they do the very thing you don't expect them to do. In this case we cleaned our apartment on Friday forenoon in preparation for guests, then left the door unlocked since we were planning to be back in the room in the afternoon. While we enjoyed lunch with our visitors, a band of rogues must have tried the doors and found it to be their lucky day. In a very short time they carried off an amazing quantity of goods from the apartment and the kitchen. When I walked into the rooms shortly after lunch and found the doors open, muddy tracks on the floor, and furniture gone, I was in disbelief. I just didn't realize thieves would enter those rooms at midday and run off with things like a wooden dresser, large mirror, foam mattress, and electric roaster... but hey, what do I know about stealing? With the exception of a few small items, everything that was stolen was gifts to us, most given specifically for ministry purposes. The police came out and did the expected- strolled about with handcuffs dangling conspicuously from their pockets, remarked that our dogs weren't doing their job, and declared that the thieves were obviously not armed since they obviously weren't professionals. (Thank you very much for that information, now could you please get my stuff back?) But no, it's gone, and it is unlikely that we will ever see it again or know who the thieves were.

It's just stuff. It's earthly and temporal and what does it matter in the light of eternity? But it is the response of my heart that plagues me with doubt... Does "taking joyfully the spoiling of your goods" really apply to me? After all, this surely was not an attack on my personal faith in Christ... or was it? Did my three year old pick up on my attitude when she suggested "shooting them in the head"? If I committed all my possessions to God, why should I be troubled? I know that stuff won't matter in heaven, but is it okay to want it now? What would Jesus do??? The questions march round and round, and most of them remain unanswered. And so I take a deep breath, and let go. Let go of my rights, my goods, my wants, my questions. Empty myself. Trust God. Love passionately. Live joyfully. Believe in redemption...

These are still the best days of my life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Until recently, I didn't give much thought to the fact that freedom is a really big deal to God- so big, in fact, that He created us with free wills and gave us the option of making some really foolish choices. For some reason, He wasn't satisfied with making robots and placing them in a perfect Garden with only the best and loveliest of everything. No, He created humans in His image, and then put the option of a very bad choice right smack in the middle of their paradise. I don't know about you, but that's definitely not what I would have done! If there had to be a bad choice, surely it would have been a good idea to put it far away, well hidden from sight, or then build a tall fence around it plastered with lots of "Danger-Keep-Out" signs. But that wasn't God's way. Why, I've been asking myself, why did God do this? How could He put Himself at such a huge risk, knowing all the while the heartbreak we would cause Him? And the only answer I get is, because He had a plan- a plan for the worst case scenario- and that plan was redemption! Something inside of me (my personal John the Baptist, I like to think) leaps for joy every time this thought hits me. Redemption and reconciliation... it has been God's heart from eternity past. Jesus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world! Now this truth is the best news I've ever heard, but the real question is, what does it look like in my own life? How does this play out in my relationships with others? "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves." (2 Cor. 4:7) God chose to put His greatest treasure -His own glorious image in the person of Jesus- into our hearts. And maybe it wasn't so much "in spite of" our weakness and sinfulness, but "because of" -that the world would know that the power is God's and not our own. Suddenly I am looking at my fellow believers with a brand new perspective. God put His greatest treasure in him?! God took the risk of putting His treasure in her?! How can I possibly criticize them, their immaturity, their twisted way of viewing life? Oh, if we could capture God's heart for redemption and reconciliation, imagine how our relationships would be transformed! Instead of controlling each other and putting the pressure on for performance, we could relax and be free to just LOVE! Love our spouses, our children, our fellow believers, our leaders. Love them gladly, freely, and abundantly. Love them with the love of God Himself, drawing them right into His marvelous kingdom. Believing so firmly in God's power to redeem and save that we just love, love, love!

Oh, yes! Let's do it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Real Life

Last week the missionary man, better known as my husband, took a trip about seven hours south of here to preach the Gospel. Two of the guys from church accompanied him and they had a marvelous time with divine appointments, spiritual encounters, and making new friends in the Body of Christ. That's what missionaries do, right? Meanwhile, I stayed home and cheerfully carried the responsibility of the family, the house, the farm, the workers, and the animals. I prayed many hours for my preacher husband and gathered my children around me to teach them profound Bible lessons. That's what missionary wives do, right?

Ha. Did you really believe that? Oh the first part is true, alright, but the part about me is sort of, well, wishful thinking. (Except for the part about staying at home.) Truth be told, I didn't want my man to leave. It didn't feel good, and I didn't feel like playing the part of the proverbial brave missionary wife. The morning of his departure, I fried pancakes with a huge lump in my throat, packed his clothes in tears, and said "Goodbye, I love you" on the outside while saying "Just leave so I can cry!" on the inside. Yes, I cried a lot. And prayed. I prayed that God would bless him abundantly, although some times even that was laced with selfishness... "Please make his trip worthwhile so my sacrifice isn't in vain!" And I fought a lot. Fought for the lives of our new chicks, fought to bring my thoughts into captivity, fought the weeds in the garden, fought crazy hormones and moments of panic. "He hasn't called for a whole day, what could have happened?!" And then he did call, and I was so rattled I ended up in tears, again. I tried to share his excitement about their experiences and all the things God was teaching them about walking in the Spirit, but inside I was going, "You're not asking how I am!" But if he had asked, what would I have said? He's evangelizing the world and I want to complain about the chicken pen and my silly emotions?!

You're waiting for the punch line, aren't you? You're thinking, "Goodness she's crying the blues, will she ever get over it?"

I got over it, yes. :) And although this was very much reality to me, I thank God that there is a bigger reality... That HE is bigger than all that. In all my tears, frustrations, and frantic prayers, He never scolded. Never backed off like I do when people get belligerent. He was just there, not saying much, quietly waiting, catching my tears. I used to beat myself up like crazy after times like that, punishing myself until I felt like I was worthy of God's love once more. But He has delivered me from that and now I just rest. His love quiets me. And He reminds me that there have been, and will be, other times. Other realities, moments that take my breath away with the sheer delight of doing exactly what He created me to do...

These are the best days of my life.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

That's what they say.
I am not up to making an explanation about my absence from the blogging world. Those who really know us, have an idea of why I needed some time away, and those who don't know- well, what difference does it make? I have been praying for a long time about resuming blogging, and frankly I still don't have a clear answer. It's time consuming, and there is the constant snare of exalting something other than Jesus Christ, which is one thing I cannot afford to do, something, in fact, that I wish to abhorr like nothing else. If I choose to blog, something else will probably have to go. (Facebook, perhaps?) At any rate, I felt like it was time to break the silence, so Hello! You may hear from me again!