Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Giving Away the Whole Dump Truck

The other night, Isaac was playing with a toy dump truck filled with at least 20 toy cars.  Josiah wanted to play with them too.  Isaac's first response was 'no' and his second response was to let Josiah play with one broken car.  That moment was a powerful and sobering picture of how I often live and how too often the church and other Christians also live.  We have abundance and someone with nothing seeks help and at first we give him nothing.  Upon second thought, we give him broken leftovers and then we feel proud of ourselves!  We gave to the needy!!!  Look at us!!!  What this is actually called is injustice and it is easy to see a 4 year old practicing injustice on his little brother and attempt to teach him why that is wrong and far from the heart of God; it is much harder to look at our hearts and see how unwilling we are to not just give broken leftovers, but to give all of ourselves, to give away the whole dump truck.

Recently I finished reading a book called Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.  It is her story about following God's call to Uganda when she was just 18 years old and how she adopted 13 girls there and began an effective sponsorship ministry, while reaching the poorest of the poor.  For more on her ministry and how to help go to her website here:  http://www.amazima.org/.  Her story really pierced my heart, especially since a piece of my heart has been in Uganda since the day back in 2003 when a Compassion volunteer handed me a card with a little boy named Isaac from Uganda on it when I was at a Jars of Clay/Caedmon's Call concert and I began to sponsor him.  Then in 2005, I was given the wonderful opportunity to visit Isaac in Uganda and since then Ricky and I have also begun sponsoring another girl in Uganda named Doreen.  Katie Davis lives the life Jesus asks of His followers in Luke 14:25-33, a life where we bear our own cross and come after Him and where we renounce all that we have for the kingdom of God and follow after Jesus.  This is often called 'the cost of discipleship' and it is beautiful and free and convicting.  Near the beginning of the book, she responds to those who ask her if she is afraid living in Uganda and she talks about living with that risk 'because I am running from the things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance.  I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus that I am of any illness or tragedy.'  Later she adds, 'I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.'  And countless lives are transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in action.

Friends, let us walk into this beautiful surrender and watch God do the impossible in our lives as He rescues orphans and widows and the poor and us!  Let us no longer give our broken, leftover toys, but let us give all of ourselves with generosity and gratitude!  Let us live the full, abundant life Jesus promises to His followers!  Let us pray for sensitivity to His Spirit as He shows us the particulars on our call in surrendering!  And let us stand in expectant hope of the God who does 'immeasurably more than we ask or imagine' (Ephesians 3:20)!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thirtysomething and A Million Billion Moments to Praise

As I sit on the eve of my 'thirtysomething' birthday, (side note:  do you remember that show 'thirtysomething'?  Man, those people seemed SO old to me when that show was on and now I have been one of them for 6 years!) I'm going to take some time to reflect on some of the happenings of life and motherhood I have been thinking about lately.  Most of these thoughts come from a journal entry from earlier this week.

Motherhood is significant and I know what I do matters.  A million billion moments make up who my children will become.  And life is just too short.  Sometimes heartbreakingly short.  But sometimes being a mom just doesn't feel significant.  It seems so difficult to find enough people to help in areas of childcare in the church and even harder to find people to enter into lives of a mom and truly get to know and love her children (a special thanks to those who do that for mine!).  When minute after minute and hour after hour start closing in around me, I sometimes don't recognize just how deeply the gospel is at work here:  Jesus telling me to deny myself, Jesus telling me the last will be first, Jesus telling the little children to come to Him.  I've heard it said to not take too much credit for your children's successes or too much responsibility for their failures and this is wise.  But, when I lay next to Josiah in the middle of the night when he is scared or when I hold Emma's hand as she falls asleep or when I move towards Isaac in love when he is moving away from me in defiance, this is giving life and this is significant.  It matters.  I wish I always did those things with a gracious, surrendered heart.  I don't.  But sometimes I do.  Jesus taught me to live those moments.  He is refining me every day so my responses conform more to His.  He loves me!

As I write this, Emma is sitting on the floor screaming about stickers.  Josiah is trying to take other people's stuff (as he often does!).  Isaac is currently content with his stickers, but asked another why question (I wish I had a nickel for every why question he asks during a day!  And also a PhD in Science so I would actually answer half of them!).  Now Josiah is screaming.  I feel so bad at this.  God entrusted all of these children to me???  It's hard to believe sometimes.  He has given me the desires of my heart, but my heart is so fragile and weak.  The song I am listening to tells me I have never walked alone.  It says God is faithful.  It is right. 

In our hyper-independent culture, do other people ever feel this way?  Are we just afraid to admit out loud that we are inadequate for this task of motherhood?  There is hope in that moment because God is more than adequate and His Spirit lives in me!  This is what is true.  "He who calls you is faithful and He will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).  I want to care more about God's glory than my comfort, my adequacy, my self.  I guess, as usual, it comes back to thinking rightly about God.  He is here.  He cares.  He is in the hard moments and they are more than purposeful.  If I care as much about the gospel going out as I say I do, I will praise Him in this moment-when I am weary and weak, but where He is awake (He never slumbers!  Psalm 121!) and strong.

My precious little peach!

Celebrating our sweet King Josiah!

Enjoying beautiful days!..

And, of course, I cannot let my birthday pass without wishing you a 'Happy Flag Day!'