Monday, December 27, 2010

And There She Was

(Hey Sisters! Due to traveling and being with family, I don’t have the next chapter of Our Story written…look forward to sharing, hopefully next week! Trust, this story from the past week will bless:)

I rolled my shopping cart through Wal-Mart two days before Christmas, dazed and not feeling very close to the quiet I desired or the simplicity I craved.  Struggling amidst travel and somewhat reluctant, dutiful gift buying and oh this homeless, sojourning state where none is settled and all is transitory.  And there she was.

With strawberry blonde hair I could not forget, I saw a tall beautiful young woman who nine years ago was a student in one of my geometry classes.  I didn’t know what to expect as I doubled back and called her name.  She looked, figuring and then remembering ‘YOU were my teacher.’  ‘Yes’, I said, ‘was a I Miss then, or had I married’, not remembering.  And then it clicked for us both that I taught her that year.

That year was the year my mother was dying.  In its beginning I had rushed from the end of meeting my students on that first day to the (thankfully) nearby hospital where my mother was undergoing a five hour surgery to remove her kidney and all visible evidence of the massive tumor that had overtaken it.  It ended with a two week ‘leave of absence’ during the last days of my mom’s life and then her memorial service and burial.  There was the brief return to administer finals and close up my classroom.  And somewhere in the middle of it, there she was.

Days were spent teaching and caring for mom, twin sister’s wedding, mom’s cancer in bones at the same time and that year was the biggest blur of my life.  But, I did remember her, and her friends who were sassy and defiant and yes, did give me lots of trouble as I taught them something they didn’t want to learn.  And now, who was she nine years later?  And so I asked because there she was.

Maturity.  Tremendous maturity.  Becoming a mom earlier than I, her former teacher, had. This had a lot to do with it.  Finding out that life isn’t all about you.  Searching for the deeper things.  Studying to become a nurse.  And now engaged to a young man who grew up in the church and still believes.  She told me she does too, but doesn’t know how to teach her son.  I share how my tender-hearted three year-old grasps that Adam and Eve’s bad choice (sin) makes it so we all have ‘holes in our hearts’ that only.He.can.fill.  She is thinking and she wants to get it right.  Mommy just like me—student turned peer.  I see her for there she was.

At multiple points in the conversation, as had happened eight and one half years ago, she asks forgiveness.  She and three of her friends had come to mom’s memorial service with notes in hand and given in the receiving line.  With hugs exchanged, I read those words later.  Words of realization in seeing my broken humanity in a year that stretched me beyond the bearing.  Their ugly had brought forth my own.

But there were no words for that, just the ones of their own rebellious defiance that would round out those school days only walked by His Grace.  Asking forgiveness for terrible spewing behavior and taking life’s frustration out on me.  Only through His carrying me did I end each of those days and though in a failing, falling way, purposed to meet their eyes with forgiveness the next.  I pray as we talk that she felt it even then before she asked for that balm of Grace at the first.  I wrap her up in a big hug and Praise an Ever-Good God for there she was.

I think of all she taught me then and still teaches.  All is Grace and He Alone receives the Glory.  That was a broken year and a broken woman gave a broken Jesus who in the pouring gives hope for the redemption of each moment.  That she would see herself as the greater sinner amazes.  As I parented in a very real sense over one hundred broken lives that year, and cared for a dying mother, and by His hope ‘walked and did not faint’  the best I gave was a broken heart and no strength and somehow. somehow. He touched hearts and planted seeds that I see in this day nearly a decade later. For there she was.

And there I am with heart full as intimate knowledge grasps tight.  I see a God who is Everywhere inhabiting a messed up place with much disgrace on all sides and He smiles wide and forgives us all.  He writes her story as He writes mine.  And I marvel for there she was. And over all that we walked and have since, THERE HE WAS AND EVER WILL BE.

Thank You Lord: (#456-477)

-for You are bigger than the deepest brokenness
-and Your life pours through the barely breathing soul
-You gave a wonderful surprise Christmas gift in seeing her
-You never fail to amaze
-You have been at work hard in redeeming life for this one for whom I prayed
-You chose to give an amazing peek at what Eternity will hold in lives touched long ago
and for Christmas joys:
-for blessed time with family
-for wonderful playful grandparents
-for cousins who love and are full of life
-for a son who knows JOY
-for a daughter who warms any heart
-for the chance to share at our church
-for the beautiful faithful who encourage us deep
-for a husband who is beautiful to hear
-for all you have taken us through in these last months
-for dear nieces with whom I am staying
-for SISTERS—so thankful to see my family after 10 days north!
-for laughter (Tim Hawkins style)
-for an early riser whose been sleeping in
-for MORE TIME and precious days ahead
-for a chance to listen to Tim Keller sermons

Linking up also with amazing women at Jen's


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Things New…

The Complete Green Letters
I am going to spend the four Wednesdays of Advent integrating thoughts on this season of preparation with meditations from
The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth  A Clarion Classic by Miles J. Stanford (you might want to get “The Complete Green Letters” also available here)
If you don’t have this on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it.  It’s a ‘Lifer’.  A Book that you will come back to over and over again.  My husband and I were introduced to it while we were in a year internship in Hungary through our Discipleship Leaders, ministering twenty plus years there which began during Communism and they have fed long and hard off
of it.

Week #1: Do I Believe?

Week #2: In the Fullness of Time…

Week #3: Beloved Child…

This was His glorious purpose.  The reason to leave all Heavenly Glory beyond imagining and take on frail, humble, poor.  To walk in all of the broken realities of a world gone hell-bent wrong and to do what only He could ever have done.  To be what only He could be.  His glorious purpose coming into being as his own bodily existence that night in Bethlehem.  To make All Things New…

Purpose’ is the title of the fourth chapter of ‘the Green Letters’ and it is taking me where I want to be in these days swollen with anticipation.  So close, we CANNOT WAIT and yet we must for Christmas to be all that it can be and that our longing hearts desire it to be.  For the coming to our deepest places giving birth to All Things New…

The chapter begins looking squarely and deeply at the utter failure of ‘the First Adam’.  All of history and humanity lived under this condemnation with sacrifice and ritual as the skin of faith.  A Holy Spirit mediated through a flawed priesthood with crippled souls, hearts, minds, and wills making desperate pleas for another way.  For All Things New…

“’God…has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person’ (Hebrews 1:1-3)

“Our Heavenly Father is still carrying out His purpose of making man in His image.  Although His original purpose is the same, He is not using the original man to bring it about. All is now centered in the last Adam, our Lord Jesus.” (p.24)

This is why the purposeful quiet of Advent must lead to Him.  As we wait and let go, shedding the skins of self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-worth, self-etc…we face the First Adam we inherit at birth square in the face.  We see it for the decaying thing that it is.  As Eustace in ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, we are brought face to face with the dragon-likeness of our ugly parts and we are desperate for Him.  He hears our cries and sends a Saviour, born into time and space as the One, the Only One, to make All Things New…
“One of God’s most effective means in the process is failure…Failure where self is concerned in our Christian life and service, is allowed and often engineered by God in order to turn us completely from ourselves unto His Source for our life—Christ Jesus, who never fails.” (p.25)
And this is how all of that swiftly swallowing current of busyness and here and there and everywhere that often rules the day and stands in square contrast to Advent can itself be a blessing.  As we align our hearts with His coming, especially in a time when we can so easily be given to a million other things, our fallings and failures can be that extra blessing because they increase our desperation and stir our hunger.  ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears..’ Come, Emmanuel, We long for the waters to pour over us…we long for All Things New…
“As we, in our abject need, consistently and lovingly look upon our Lord Jesus revealed to us in the Word, the Holy Spirit will quietly and effortlessly change the center and source of our lives from self to Christ—hence for each of us it will be, ‘Not I, but Christ’” (p.25)

This is the gift of waiting.  Of Stilling.  Of Simplifying.  Of Clearing.  Of Advent Itself.  Of Life Itself.  Of Him.  May these final days of waiting for the glories of Christ be ones of failure and need embraced so that as we celebrate in our churches, homes and hearts His coming, it will be to selves come naked with nothing to stand in the way of His touch.  Of All Things New…


Monday, December 20, 2010

My Story. His Story. God’s Story: Part 3

I’m heeding the nudge of the Spirit to chronicle My husband and my and now OUR family’s story of calling.
I am choosing this for Tuesdays because of some of the special women at Jen’s (Jen, of course, and especially Amy) that I have been getting to know for a few weeks, and I feel that you and any other consistent readers (especially dear Cherry, who is a co-laborer and beloved bloggy friend) might be the most blessed to hear this story.
But, truly, I know I need to do this for myself and my God as we continue this unique journey that will, prayerfully, land me in Budapest, Hungary as a long-term missionary within the year.
Trusting all who read be blessed with a touch of Him…
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~Matthew 6:28-34

My Story. His Story. God’s Story: Part 1
My Story. His Story. God’s Story: Part 2

I fittingly write this ‘on the road’, the predicament, I mean nuisance, I mean stressful pain, I mean, of course, tremendous privilege, blessing, part of the whole of this gift of a life to which we are called…and aren’t we all ‘strangers’ and ‘aliens’?  Sojourners in this world that is SO NOT our Home…we long for a Heavenly city and I do very much PRAISE HIM for this constant transition that began the night I shared last week, when Zach and Julie came to our church’s youth group and cast the vision for ministry to high schools in Hungary…I PRAISE HIM that we CANNOT imagine our lives if we had not felt the stirrings of our heart that night…

Our Story: My dear husband sits with me now and we cannot remember the sequencing of events exactly.  I know that that night we shared our hearts with one another and the stirrings were real.  I don’t remember if we requested the STINT (Short Term INTernational Assignment) application for Hungary right away or a couple of months later. I DO know that we requested it, received it, but did not complete it until nearly a year later.

My Story: I ‘knew’ I wasn’t ready to have that 2003-04 school year be my last teaching. Funny, how that is since I had been so eager to leave and go anywhere else but my hometown and high school.  But then, again, everything had changed.  My mother gone—forever in Heaven now.  I was, by far, the closest to my father and my husband was as dear as a son to him. And I was married with the hopes of a family starting—it was becoming very difficult for this once free bird to make drastic changes like moving overseas.  
I was seeing clearly that this would be very different than any other time when I sensed the Lord leading me somewhere.  For one thing, I was not alone—there was a real, live person and if WE were going to go, it would NEED to be together.

His Story:  I believe I short-changed him a bit as far as his ‘career’.  He had changed from his first entry level job and was in ‘in-between’ work with his brother and friends painting the interior of houses.  It was a ‘dream job’ in the sense that he was with his best friends all day, but it was also very much not meeting his desire to impact the lives of others in significant ways—particularly young people.  He was laid off from this painting job shortly after we were married and spent a couple of months (not long) unemployed.  Then, he traded painting clothes for shirts and ties and a job with the hometown bank that his mom has worked for for years.
Outside of his monetary work, he was seeking out those in need of intentional guidance, care, leading and often those who had never heard of a personal relationship with Jesus.  For the most part, his heart was increasingly drawn to ‘young people’, teenagers struggling as he had for their place in this world.

Our Story: From that youth group night in late 2003 until we officially filled out our overseas application our journey was in some ways boring.  That first stirring, as so often can happen, faded in its emotional draw and without any on-going connection to the ministry it could very easily become ‘out of sight. out of mind.’ 
However, in the goodness that is God alone, I remember there were often times in the few minutes of quiet I would take before my school day would start, when I would be reminded of the possibility of doing something extraordinary.  I remember how very clearly I could see we were at a ‘crossroads’ and the decisions we made regarding moving forward with this opportunity or another radical, uprooting one OR remaining in our jobs, starting a family (good, good things to do and we’re all called to be faithful in) would have a lifelong impact on the kind of life we would be choosing to lead.

We would re-visit the topic as a couple and always experienced that we were both willing to move forward with the process.  Now, to find time to do it.  The Spring of 2004 found me teaching, coaching, cooking and cleaning when I could and he was training in and working a new job. 

My Story:  In much busyness that was always difficult for me to ‘hear’ within, I finished the ‘03-04 school year and headed to SUMMER BREAK!!  Again, I remember little except that there was a conference in August 2004 through the Brethren in Christ Church that we were a part of and it was called:  THE CALL.
Friends from church were going and we decided that we would go too and I remembered that we had the application for STINT in Hungary and that we needed to BEGIN IT—so, we brought it along.

However, although we did begin it there, it was a far deeper work that the Lord wanted to do in me.  God used this conference to heal some very deep places that were so broken from shattered dreams and the loss of my mother.  He was calling me forth from these ashes and asking me if I would rise in a trust-filled, fully committed life that I once had walked in and yet this would hold a new kind of sorrow wrought maturity and strength.

Our Story: That Fall found us in the beginning of another school year and the busyness that would keep us from moving forward.  Then, on a hurricane day where I was off from school due to…the hurricane, and there was no leaving the house, we made a call to our ‘friends’, Zach and Julie in Hungary.  Julie, being the motivator that she is, cracked the whip and told us that we needed to get our application completed (extensive with several references) ASAP. 

So, we did.  Then, they lost it.  We didn’t hear back for months and couldn’t proceed with the support raising necessary until we received our acceptance.  Then, in April of 2005, we finally got our acceptance.

His Story:  So, so faithful at his job and reaching out to any and everyone.  And, yet, so, so ready to do what it took to make the next step happen and prepare for a year overseas.

My Story-Defining Moment: It was a long day teaching and coaching and my husband told me we had received the breakdown of the funds we would have to have raised before we went to Hungary for our STINT.  All that Julie had told me was that it was less than they, as long-term missionaries, had to raise.  I don’t know what I expected, but with one-time costs included as well as living expenses for a year, ‘WE’ would need to raise $40,000 (in one-time or monthly gifts)…approximately!!!!!!!!!! What??!!!
The Director of the ministry in Hungary was going to call us that evening.  I was laying on our couch just wrecked and certain that this was impossible!  I shared just this with him, ‘I CAN’T do this.  There is no way.’  To which he replied with the calm and wisdom I have grown to so deeply respect, ‘Well, if YOU thought YOU could do it, then WHERE WOULD YOU NEED GOD?’  I was done.  Arrow through my heart and it was suddenly very clear—I needed to do this, because I NEEDED TO NEED GOD IN MY LIFE.

I resigned from my teaching position (before we even began raising our support)…

Our Story—What He did!!!  So, we did something we have never done since as far as raising support for ministry.  We sent out letters to everyone we could think of—didn’t do the follow-up calls we were strongly advised to do and had not a single meeting face-to-face which was also strongly advised.  I only began my diligent sending when the school year was out in June 2005 AND WE WERE HOPING/PRAYING to go to Hungary that August. 

And then it just started coming.  In the course of two months (give or take a little), the Lord raised up one year of funding for a couple, namely my husband and I, to live overseas and reach broken teenagers He loves and died for.

So, we boarded a plane in late August 2005, having moved everything in storage, except the two suitcases we each took with us, and headed for a year to a place we still knew little about that spoke a language we DID NOT KNOW A WORD OF to do something we only had a one-time broad stroke vision of because an amazing God had stirred our hearts and did not let us go until we said ‘yes’ and He showed up in ways that can ONLY BE HIM!
to be continued in Budapest, Hungary next week…

Linking up with some amazing ladies at Jen’s today…check them out!!

Finding Heaven


In the Keeping

 "Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known."
~John 1:16-18

In the Keeping I find His Grace manifested in myriad of ways throughout the course of a single day.

In the Keeping I partake of bread for this journey I live at any hour and moment I choose to eat.

In the Keeping I recognize the closest thing to heart and mind and soul is His Loving Presence.

In the Keeping I release the worries and cares that willfully overtake His peace that surpasses.

In the Keeping I receive truth even if it is hard, knowing that His kindness leads to repentance.

In the Keeping I laugh at the days to come and find all of life glistening with a lightness that comes from eyes set on Eternity.

In the Keeping
I brave cold windy days and breath in sharp air that I am unaccustomed to so that I may know Him in my steps.

In the Keeping I embrace the gift of presence and relish what makes a 19 hours over two days car trip exceedingly beyond the sacrifice.

In the Keeping I pursue the thread of clarity that is a journey we uniquely walk and look it squarely in the face.

In the Keeping I count blessings in a deliberate way although I am out of routine and far away from counting's normal space.

In the Keeping I continue to sew the fabric of my life with strings of words that have served well that reflective centering I desire.

In the Keeping I AM KEPT in manifold ways that can only mean HE IS IN THIS PLACE AND HE IS MINE AND I AM HIS!

Thank You Lord: (#426-455)

-for safety in 1000 miles over two days that took 19 hours
-for precious family that is a true JOY!
-for this here blog that calls to me wherever I go.
-for the things that home does to you that nowhere else does.
-for the grace to still love it when so much has changed.
-for family on all sides for both of us that love and fear you, LORD.
-for the chance to be fed from Your shepherd who has been a golden thread in our journey.
-for so many more to yet be face-to-face with...ahh...Christmas!
-for perspective that absorbs minutia
-for growth to let go of the pulling...
-for your patience as I have much further to go!
-for Your Promise to provide all that we need in all things
-for a mother-in-law to give us herself and especially our kids
-for her HUGE GIFT of loving our kids well so we could have the luxury of a midday date!
-for a restaurant we loved to go when first married!
-for grace one to the other
-for a quiet megachurch that keeps doors open on Monday for time with Him
-for the precious sharing of that time with beloved husband
-for the words of the book of Malachi that we are feasting on...last before the silence and then HIM!
-for a fun time in a grocery store...just because it was the two of us!
-for kids who 'troop' through long trips
-for kids who sleep so well away from home!
-for dearest of praying friends and family who have prayed us thousands of miles over trips home whether up the coast or over the ocean...multitude right here alone!
-for their rejoicing with us when we arrive safe
-for a Christmas Change that is making this year so special
-for all of the togetherness yet to be enjoyed
-for all of the HOPE OF HEAVEN that anchors me when I can see so few here and love so many!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beloved Child…

The Complete Green Letters

I am going to spend the four Wednesdays of Advent integrating thoughts on this season of preparation with meditations from The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth  A Clarion Classic by Miles J. Stanford (you might want to get “The Complete Green Letters” also available here) 

If you don’t have this on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it.  It’s a ‘Lifer’.  A Book that you will come back to over and over again.  My husband and I were introduced to it while we were in a year internship in Hungary through our Discipleship Leaders, ministering twenty plus years there which began during Communism and they have fed long and hard off of it.

Why Am I called, ‘My Beloved Child’?

It is because He condescended infinite lengths and took on frail human flesh.  It is because He did not hold back any of His divine goodness yet did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being made as us—in our propensity to all sorts of mess, brokenness, temptation, failure, fumbling stumbling tumbling steps—and withstood it all with the simplicity of a perfection wrought through communion with the Father and the seeking of His Glory alone.  He became as our servant.  With every breath He served the obstinate, rebellious, idol-worshipping, prodigal reality of our humanity—yours and mine.  He withheld none of Himself and ultimately walked the shameful Golgotha hill and lifted high that moment-to-moment dying to all that He. Truly. IS. making a way for the tripped up, unable to find the way, desperately lost ones—namely you and me.  And now in Glory that could come in no other way than being who He is and walking what He walked, He is lifted high over all Heaven and Earth and is the Glory of the Invisible God. (paraphrase of Philippians 2: 5-11)

It is because of His journey born into time that night in Bethlehem—the Event to forever change the course of time and Eternity for all who find Him and believe on His Name and for those who believed in His coming—that we have been given the right to become Children of God.  Not born of  blood or of the WILL of flesh or man, but.of.God.  (John 1:12-13)

It is because of He who I eagerly await this Advent THAT I AM GIVEN A NEW NAME CLOSEST TO HIS HEART AND MINE, He says ‘YOU. ARE. MY. BELOVED. CHILD.’

It is because He, the Christ-child, walked this life I walk in every aspect from first to last breath facing all that would tear me away from Abba Father and bridged that infinite gap through a life lived in perfect communion with God the Father that all of my moments can be new and lived in communion with Our. Abba. Father…

 So, this third chapter in ‘the Green Letters’ entitled ‘Acceptance’, that led to my writing the words above, has EVERYTHING TO DO WITH Advent.

As I wait and meditate upon His coming and why it is I am fully accepted, Beloved Child of God, I marvel and I let go.

The soul has to go on until it finds there is nothing to rest  on but the abstract goodness of God; and then, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us.’” (Darby quoted, p. 20)

I let go of all that could be considered the good that I do which I all-too-often cling to in spite of truth proclaimed long and deep all across the pages of my life that it is but filthy rags when it comes to my acceptance as God’s Beloved Child.  I let go of the plethora of performance-based arguments for my good standing before God as they rise up within me.  I let go and wait for the Christ-child to be born and to live the life I desperately need Him to live on my behalf.

“’Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human exigencies beforehand; His action was independent of them, not dependent on them.’” (Newell quoted, p. 21)

I journey deeper into this Grace that is an ideal reality made plausible through the implausible birth of Him. 

To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.”

To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.”

To rely on God’s chastening (child training) hand as a mark of His kindness.”

To ‘hope to be better’ (hence acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.”

To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.”

(Newell quoted, p. 21)

And so I receive the gift of Grace through Faith perfectly packaged in a Babe in a Manger and hold Him close and tight and allow His Father and Mine, Our Abba Father, to love me as His Beloved Child.  For all eternity there is no grander gift…and it is mine, and yours, this Christmas and always.

Week #1:  Do I Believe?

Week #2:  In the Fullness of Time…

Shared with ‘Rejoice!’ Blog Carnival



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Story. His Story. God’s Story: Part 2

I’m heeding the nudge of the Spirit to chronicle My husband and my and now OUR family’s story of calling.
I am choosing this for Tuesdays because of some of the special women at Jen’s (Jen, of course, and especially Amy) that I have been getting to know for a few weeks, and I feel that you and any other consistent readers (especially dear Cherry, who is a co-laborer and beloved bloggy friend) might be the most blessed to hear this story.
But, truly, I know I need to do this for myself and my God as we continue this unique journey that will, prayerfully, land me in Budapest, Hungary as a long-term missionary within the year.
Trusting all who read be blessed with a touch of Him…
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
~Matthew 9:36-38

 (FYI: Come back later if you don’t have a lot of time right now.  Come with a mug of cocoa, tea or coffee and pretend that I’m telling it to you face-to-face.  I think it’s an easy read, but I wrote quite a bit!)

Ok, where was I when I left you last Tuesday? Oh yes, that’s right…

My husband (His story) and I (My Story) living parallel lives (God’s Story) but still not having met!  Parallel lives that included growing up in the same town (or collection of small towns), living not more than 2-3 miles apart for the vast majority of it.  Going to the same school.  In our small town home.  So, why didn’t we meet?  Well, he was a freshmen and I was a senior in the year we attended the same high school…and, while we may have passed each other only a few feet or less apart in the hallways, it was unlikely that a senior girl and freshman guy would form a friendship and definitely not anything more!

My Story: I had just come home in the summer of 2000 after all of my dreams and deep beliefs of how my life would turn out in very specific colors and forms were shattered and I went the only place that felt right. Home.  I didn’t know what to do next.  Yes, if I had been thinking practically (not a strong suit for me;), I would have thought of applying for a teaching job in either Math or Spanish as I had both degrees.  But, I was desperately holding onto the life I thought I was supposed to lead and asking the God I believed then to be so small in some ways to mend my seemingly unmendable brokenness of a heart.

So, I finished two courses that I had gotten an extension for from seminary and applied for a ‘leave of absence’. I also thought this was the time to pursue freelance writing. For the first time in my life, my parents were in a somewhat okay place financially that I wasn’t a terrible drain living with them and not working full-time.  I sent some poetry to ONE PLACE, got rejected, and well, that perhaps sort of quelled the freelance writing thoughts. (can you tell I am used to INSTANT affirmation and success when I do something??!!)  Wrote some more poetry and a paper on Soren Kierkegaard and still remember the day I sensed the Spirit telling me that I would be coming fully back to Earth.  It sounds weird, I know.  But, I interpret it as ‘it’s time to leave the ivory tower of safe thoughts and parents supporting and roll up your sleeves and do what I ask you to do.’

His Story: He had graduated college in December of 1999 and til I came home in the summer of 2000 had already managed to seize an opportunity to go to Kosovo with two retired gentlemen and help re-construct in some small way what war had torn apart.  Although re-construction never materialized he met one young man named ‘Aben’ who was a true, loves Jesus, Christ-follower.  Missionaries had shared the Gospel with him and he had believed, but he told my future husband that he. was. the. only. Christian. friend. he. had. ever. had. I still get chills when I think of how this place is not too far from where we now prepare to go to. to live. and this special, only-God-can-do time in Kosovo burned a passion in his heart for all the ‘Aben’s’ who would believe if someone would only share and who need those to live in their countries and show them how to live the rest of their lives for Christ.

He was also living at home and, having the practicality I lacked, got a job using his degree (it’s a shocking idea, I know) and had begun to work full-time.

My Story: After the school year had begun, I decided to bring my application to the school district’s office to be a Spanish substitute. A. Spanish. Substitute.  However, they who remembered the former valedictorian-do- everything-and-everyone-knows-girl would not let me leave without agreeing to a Math position they had been frantically trying to fill. I lacked a bit of paperwork that I thought ruled me out of doing what I didn’t want to do. Who teaches Math?  Only the boring geeks who lack passion (and that was not me!) This, even though I had determined to be a Math major that day my twin suggested it and had studied hard through Calculus IV and the like until I was done!  Well, finally after being hit over the head with some clear leading (can you say ‘fell into my lap’ like a lightning bolt?!) I agreed to take the position.
After all, it would only be for a year or two and then I would be off to some other place. I could do anything for a year. And so it went.

His Story: He was living steady eddy life working his job and yet experiencing an overwhelming desire to impact young people that were outside of the church.  He began to inquire through a friend about helping out with the area Young Life ministry. And this is when I first heard his name.

My Story: It was a hard first year and my heart broke for my students.  I already knew I had a huge heart for ministry and this was ministry.  But, I also wanted to be able to form relationships with, and come alongside students in a greater depth than I could as a teacher.  Don’t get me wrong.  I did have many opportunities and stories that would fill a book, but I longed to do more for them.  I longed to be someone who poured into the lives of high school students in a way that would build them for life.  In a way that I would have clung to had it been offered to me in high school. So, I also became acquainted with the area ministry of Young Life through a friend who was, coincidentally, a very good friend of his friend.

Then, came the summer of 2001.  I took my twin sister back to Barcelona where I had studied in college.  She became engaged shortly after.  I began to imagine grand plans of returning to live there…far away from Home. Still running as I had been since I first left home for college.

And then, in August of 2001 my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). 

Everything changed.

Our Story:  We kept hearing each other’s name, including me meeting a college football buddy of his--one that he had discipled through a team Bible Study—while I was in the Munich airport (on the way back from my trip to Barcelona) and this friend of his ending up with the seat right across from me in a HUGE plane over the ocean!  I love sharing this part, because, in retrospect, it really seemed like a Great Enemy didn’t want my future hubby and I to team up.  That Enemy saw what God could do through two broken lives desperately seeking Jesus and developing very kindred hearts to reach a generation coming.  But, a Sovereign God kept reminding us of each other like he did on a plane from Munich, Germany to Newark, NJ.

Now back to my story:

My Story:  The first day of the 2001-02 school year I rushed from school to get to the hospital where all of my family awaited as my mom underwent a 5 hour surgery to remove her kidney and all visible evidences of cancer in that area.  I suppose it was seeking an escape from home that now held cancer and my still not dying to certain dreams, but that Fall incredibly so had me teaching full-time (the hardest I have EVER worked in my life) and holding a part-time ministry position at a church.  I also continued to pursue ministry with Young Life and on a cool late Fall evening was asked to attend a prayer meeting to seek direction for a ministry at the high school where I was teaching and also where he and I had both gone.

His Story: He too was asked to come to this same meeting and I believe I e-mailed him directions.  That cool Fall night when he met me outside in a driveway he said the Hallelujah chorus busted forth in his head:)

My Story: I had one simple reaction to watching him get out of his beat up Volvo station wagon and seeing his smiling face for the first time: How much younger is he? 

Our Story:  That night we heard one another pray and were thankful for some type of camaraderie in this venture.  We also left with a sense that the other had a very special heart.

My Story:  Before I would see him next, my mother, who experienced a wonderful lull that Fall after her initial diagnosis and surgery, had to be rushed to the hospital the night of my twin sister’s rehearsal.  Yes. The night before her wedding.  Our hearts broke and my twin wept as the news of cancer certainly in two places in bones and excruciating pain that had mom doped up on morphine made it impossible for her to be at her wedding the next morning.  This too is a book that perhaps she and I will write together…it is definitely an incredible heart-breaking and inspirational story as her wedding unfolded the next morning…my mother heard the service wired into her hospital room…yes, not a dry eye at that ceremony…twin left for her honeymoon…and the rest of us (Dad, two sisters, a brother) rushed from the reception to a hospital waiting room as mom was wheeled into the next of many surgeries.

His Story: He was taking part in his second overseas mission to London, England which was a quite intense time of engaging Muslims in dialogue about Christianity.  He had no idea what I was going through and neither of us could have imagined what God had in store for us in the next few months…

I am sorry…I am going to keep going…I understand if you don’t get to read this, because it’s gotten long…

My Story:  What followed after my sister’s wedding and the reality of cancer in bones was a whirlwind of decisions, coverage and missing school (something I hated to do!), and two hour treks back and forth from PA (home) and NJ (where Mom was during her rehab for 2 months!).

His Story:  Processing London…learning of what I was going through

Our Story: He and I began attending the Young Life Area Volunteers meetings that were happening weekly.  First we drove separately then we drove together…

My Story: I though I was a lot to handle and needed someone older that could keep me in check.  Mistakenly, thinking older would mean more mature.  In spite of myself, I began thinking of him as a possibility.  It didn’t help that one day when I came to see my mother in the hospital she said, “I told the Lord, ‘I’m ready to go, but I just want to see ALL of my children happily married’” To which I said Ok, Mom, no pressure!!” Since all of my other siblings were happily married!!

His Story: He was having a hard time with some personal struggles and ultimately his place in this world and what God would have for him.  He also felt that I was out of his league!  This makes me laugh, but I guess it was a throw back to those high school days…

Our Story:  We began leading a Bible Study one morning a week for students at the high school.  We would meet and plan and pray. These times were filling us more than we could say or even probably wanted to admit. 

My Story:  This was the least likely I ever felt to begin a relationship with my future husband.  Yet, it was the perfect time.  For the first time in my life I came to a relationship with nothing to give. Only a tired, grieving, broken woman who was seeking to love Jesus.  I was utterly bankrupt.  And I was indeed amazed to find that he was asking for nothing… and later to find he was falling in love with the broken, bankrupt me. 

His Story:  He, with the heart of gold that would outshine a hundred million others, wanted only to be my friend. He also felt that he was in no shape to meet his future wife.  He felt like he had no strength to give and what would I see in him?

Our Story:  My mama in the last few weeks of her life would meet him twice—not as my boyfriend, but simply a friend.  And would tell those closest to her (but not me) that ‘this was the one God had for me.’  She died that May of 2002 with full assurance that he would become my future husband and she could go Home in sweet mama peace.

It was one month later that we started to date (not without quite a few fumbles along the way…Job 42:2 I claim over our getting together)Six months later we were engaged.  Six months after that we were married in July, 2003.  Here’s the story of our proposal and a little more.

We continued that Bible Study the following year, but it was becoming increasingly harder for me to be a good wife and teacher and do this.  So he carried on without me.

The following December, less than six months after we were married, a missionary couple from HUNGARY! (yes, it’s coming, I promised!), Zach and Julie visited our church’s youth group and as volunteer leaders we both decided to go the night that they spoke.  We didn’t sit with one another but were each going through something similar.

God’s Story in Hungary:  Zach shared how in Hungary they had these incredible opportunities to speak in high school English classrooms.  That the teenagers were ‘harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ after the fall of Communism and their parents had to live in a completely new way under a free market economy and democratic government.  He shared how through an amazing opportunity developed in the mid ‘90’s that the ministry of Campus Crusade in Hungary had trained thousands of teachers in a drug, alcohol, AIDS prevention curriculum that includes the Gospel and because of this hundreds of thousands of students were being introduced to a relationship with Jesus.  Because of these in-roads English speakers working with the high school ministry in Hungary had almost unlimited access to high school students in their schools while simultaneously being able to form relationships with the students outside of school, sharing the Gospel with them and developing them in their faith.  (You can tell why I got so excited!!!!!!!!!)

Zach and Julie had come to recruit high school students for Speakout English Camp. But, they didn’t know who they were also recruiting…

My Story:  I talked to Julie after and shared how both Jared and I had already been on shorter projects and was there anything longer?  This is when the quick thinker she is mentioned STINT (a year-long internship with the ministry in Hungary) and, well, I was out of the gates and on my way!!

His Story:  He was about to hear an earful from me about where we were going…but he was already thinking too…

It would be nearly two years, from this one short youth group meeting, without any other face-to-face connection to this ministry…But we were headed to Hungary…

to be continued…

I would STILL love to hear your story…He is calling…tell me about it:)

Linking up with my amazing bloggy sisters…check this group out if you haven’t!



Monday, December 13, 2010

Once Upon Christmases…

Sea World Christmas, Eagles, etc 130  Once upon a Christmas a fluffy footed sleeper girl stumbled down stairs in the wee morning hours with her fellow fluffy footed twin and hugged newly filled stockings, having been given maternal permission to examine contents.  A toothbrush.  How exciting!  Lip balm.  Yeah!  Gum.  Woo, Luxury!  Avon samples would be some of the things to round out the treasured stocking and never-complete-unless Life-Saver Books were sticking out of the top!!  Mama’s tired-from-wrapping oft through the night heart relished the finding of Christmas wonder in her twins, always the babies, sleeping fluffy foot to fluffy foot in the morning dawn. Heart says ‘yes’, This. is. Christmas.

Once upon a Christmas Eve while still eking out a very hard earned Christmastime, home in PA, NJ, etc 139living as Dairy farmers pipes froze in the barn.  Disaster would ensue for the necessary milking and keeping—the vast majority of our too meager income—if the situation was not remedied.  All hands on deck except for little twins who were to stay warm inside.  Hair dryers came out and visiting friends lent a hand.  All together as one necessary unit to. survive.  Heart says ‘yes’, This. is. Best. of Farm Christmases.

Once upon many Christmases child-like wonder was replaced by stark dark realities of being in a livelihood that was outgrowing you.  You had to be big.  Have inherited your own land, barn, etc.  My hardest-of-faithful-working-papas was driven out of what he loved.  We simply could not survive.  Could our family?  Hard, hard years but Christmases remained warm and together.  Special gifts wrapped and the chance to feel like we could still give to each other.  Heart says ‘yes’.  This is the-tough-keep-going Christmas.

Sea World Christmas, Eagles, etc 098 Once upon a Christmas never-the-same when older siblings married and we were not.all.together.  Can’t imagine how much mama grieved so when Christmas Day held a little drear, fluffy footed twins of long ago cuddled and watched heart-warming yuletide tales with older sister and let a little wonder and peace of togetherness fill our seemingly empty home.  Heart says ‘yes’. This is fighting for Christmas.

Once upon a Christmas an ocean away in an exciting Study-Abroad-World, in almost pain (2.5 year-old niece would aptly miscue ‘Abby in ‘Pain’)  as host family ripped open Christmas gifts in an instant. Aching heart and lump in throat in an all-too-short call home right before caroling in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The. Gothic. Quarter. of Barcelona, Spain!!!  Gorgeous centuries old architecture and amazing lights-filled city that would have been instantly traded for cuddles and heart-warming movies with twin.  Little consolation was Eu-Rail trip commencing next day to Italy, Austria and a bit of Switzerland. A. Bit. of Switzerland??  Packages sent to open Sea World Christmas, Eagles, etc 165 in twelve days of Christmas saved from a death of homesickness.  Late January Christmas with completely dry tree when reunited with family. Heart says ‘yes.’  Christmas without family is no Christmas.

Once upon a Christmas forever changed. Carols sung in rehab center room.  Mom in wheelchair recovering   from surgeries due to cancer in bones.  Meetings to decide what next.  Terrible sickness.  Twin. on honeymoon. Blur of heartache, pain and the pursuit of joy still because mom did. The brave now Christmas wise auntie coached nieces in First Christmas re-telling.  Heart says ‘yes.’  This is the Christmas we need.

Once upon a Christmas new.  New love.  Newly engaged.  New family that opened arms wide.  All was changed and yet, sad, sad Dad was there.  Only grief this Christmas.  Happy for me, but oh, so sad for him.  Heart aching hug as he left for friends without me.  Happy for new Christmas with newly engaged love and family.  But so, so sad.  All of us apart.  Heart says ‘yes.’  This is Bittersweet Christmas.

Sea World Christmas, Eagles, etc 167Once upon the Christmases since.  Home from abroad, husband and I to see Dad re-married.  All apart.  Kids. TRAVEL.  A twenty-four hour harrowing blizzard trek home.  Home because there is no Christmas without home.  Yet, finding our family: husband, kids and I, IS Christmas and needs to be. Surrendering all that was for the new-found of Christmas.  Looking ahead and seeing many more Once upon Christmases an ocean away.

And yes, finding connection to the Christ-child who traveled so far from home and took on all strange and unknown so the spark of all that is Christmas would alight that night in Bethlehem.  Heart says ‘yes.’  He is all the Christmas we will ever need.


Lord Jesus Thank You for All I remember in these Once Upon Christmases:

-for ever since I can remember knowing we celebrate YOU at Christmas

-for ever since I can remember knowing you are real

-for ever since I can remember knowing you were ultimately tied to a Cross that saves me.

-for ever since I can remember knowing that this is all I truly need

-for how the joy of family fills my heart when I think of Christmas

-for the love that rose to the top like the cream from the raw milk we drank

-for simple child-like joy that anticipated and tumbled down stairs in wee hours

-for a twin who is just a phone call away to reminisce about these childhood days

-for lessons sewn deep in my heart that it was the being together that was the gift

-for a will to keep going when the going was tough exemplified in Christmas remembrances

-for how the heartache of being far away has kept the being together precious

-for Your Promise to be in our midst every Christmas ahead when we are far away

-for a husband that I love dearly and we together are a family at Christmas

-for two precious children that expand that family

-for the joyous anticipation of seeing our family soon

-for a 17 hour car trip that will increase that anticipation

-for a deeply woven reminder that the journey was infinitely long for you

-for starry nights that fly me back to that night

-for the Divine magic I can feel deep down as I await the Christ-child

-for knowing the secret


-for a ministry to send us over an ocean to do just that

-for a banner of purpose ‘until the whole world hears’

-for how we long for Your return

-for how we pray for fruitful days of much that is eternal until You come or take us Home.




live the gospel


Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Journey Ahead

And it’s a long road Home

and a long way back

that brings me here anew


The Places I have been

painting pictures in my mind

As I rolling hills stroll


Classic scenes of nurture

remembered and treasured

Silent cheers that bolster


Strength to forge ahead

epitomized in roots

of being that reach far down


As beauty allures unending

eyes gaze while under

smooth melodic terrain


And I know I’ve come

full circle and all that

is ahead has come before


Now I perch ready

to grasp it and mold it from

a me that has risen up


Amidst the days piled high

Of study formal yet it is

lessons integrated in the


woven tapestry of a

life only I have lived that

solidify the journey ahead.

AWA 12/12/2010

Written for One Shoot Sunday @ One Stop Poetry


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A World Colored Chaos


Spring colors

photo source

Upon the happening of seeming ‘random’ events in a world colored chaos I search for the bright pieces of faith to form a strand of clarity and wrap me up and all of the oh-so-many hurting...

We were on the way to the doctor and I thought how they hadn’t called to confirm and would I still get in?  I had worked and packed us all up to get there on. time.  And it’s all the remembering that winds me in that tight ball of stress for all of the ‘what if’s’ and i cannot take it but do the best that I can. 

I allow myself to sit for a couple of minutes, enough to read these words which are off-one-day in Sarah Young’s ‘Jesus Calling’

“Let My Presence override everything you experience.  Like a luminous veil of Light, I hover over you and everything around you.  I am training you to stay conscious of Me in every situation you encounter.”

Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 083And so we go and I take both kids and on our way a near accident ahead that would have hurt us too. I think of that Light around us protecting us…pure gift. we remain on our way.  And three-year-old-son says “What’s wrong?” and I say, “Somebody was not doing a good job on the road.” and he says, “I’m sorry.”  And I think, “Oh, I am sorry too, son, that the world is not as it should be and grief and near accidents and death and disease are our inheritance as sons of fallen Adam…”

And then we enter.  They do not have us on the books.  But they will fit us in.  Son is entertained by “Finding Nemo” and almost doesn’t join us in the back, but does.  Baby down to her diaper and traumatized and son needs. the. bathroom.  It is not going well.  Baby on the floor of dirty bathroom.  I wash us all with unfit tools and do my best to clean this mess.  I wonder at all that is going on in my brain and remember that ‘luminous veil of Light’ and the further of this same reflection

'”When the patriarch Jacob ran away from his enraged brother, he went to sleep on a stone pillow and the land seemed desolate.  But after dreaming about heaven and angels and promises of My Presence, he awoke and exclaimed:  “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” His discovery is not only for him, but for all who seek Me.”

And I say ‘Lord, You are here. Thank you for all of this mess. You are in it.’  And I rush to the examining room thinking I’d missed the doctor as he is not there.  He comes a little while later and I apologize certain he had come earlier.

He the heart-of-gold but strong and professional to care for little ones many years and six of his own the last adopted from Guatemala when he was almost a Grandpa and looking down still pulling himself together says, “no, I was just with a family who lost a child.  It is just so, so hard.”  And tears in his eyes and mine are pricked and we understand.  Oh preciousness of life.  Oh these kids in their messes are here and pure gift.

I murmur something of ‘Praise the Lord’ they are healthy. I mean it down deep but it falls shallow and breaks in loud painful noise hurting my ears.

We finish and he says, ‘Have a great Christmas’ and we look again and eyes of understanding meet and this. these kids. alive and here. are pure gift.

Why should I not have been the family who had lost?  Why do I have healthy, beautiful little ones?  And like waterfalls of remembrance come the oh-so-many who have lost.  Friends who have buried little ones that never made it home. Friends who brought home healthy babies only to lose a few weeks later.  Missionary friends gone to places His Name losing their two year-old son in unexplainable tragedy while they were ‘safe’ near home. Husband and dad gone the other side of the world to see His Kingdom Come. gone Home. Forever with Jesus. He oh-so-young with five wee ones left…the youngest not a year…And now these new ones whose names I will never know but He knows.  They with unbearable grief in a waiting room next door and me with my two healthy ones.

I break down as I share with my husband.  He is with the brother who lost his own and is finding strength to continue. Wants to know more of He who is Hope.  Pure gift. Undeserved.  All is gift.  No room for complaining hearts…yes they will come…and there is Grace…but remembrance so, so close sheds the scales and pours over.

I walk in the early evening to clear my head as I carry this family in my heart next door in a waiting room at an appointment that wasn’t in the books and intercede and feel the sharp cold of air. A place where it is to be warm.  It is too cold and a robin struggles for song and I pray His breath may warm her .  I plead with Heaven to do what I am helpless to do.  I hear clear the ending:

Whenever you feel distant from Me, say: “Surely the Lord is in this place!” Then, ask Me to give you awareness of My Presence.  This is a prayer that I delight to answer.”

(all reflections from December 5th reading…)

And my desperate cry reaches and I pray theirs comes and He is in that, sorrowful, grief-laden place.  The doctor who loves and cares and lives to protect but is helpless in a world diseased and loses a battle for life.  A family that must go. on.  A brother that is searching for legacy. For a world colored chaos to bleed crimson and make white as snow.

AWA 12/6/2010

impproseblog button



In the fullness of time…

I am going to spend the four Wednesdays of Advent integrating thoughts on this season of preparation with meditations from The Green The Complete Green LettersLetters: Principles of Spiritual Growth  A Clarion Classic by Miles J. Stanford (you might want to get “The Complete Green Letters” also available here) 

If you don’t have this on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it.  It’s a ‘Lifer’.  A Book that you will come back to over and over again.  My husband and I were introduced to it while we were in a year internship in Hungary through our Discipleship Leaders, ministering twenty plus years there which began during Communism and they have fed long and hard off of it.


“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

~Galatians 4:4-5 (emphasis mine)

Chapter 2 of the Green Letters is simply titled “Time.” And this has everything to do with Advent.  In the waiting we remember what it was like before the Incarnation and think upon the days of old.  The hope-filled anticipation for the fullness of time and God to be born of a virgin.  For Hope itself to come.  Emmanuel. God with us. The embodiment of Redemption…once-for-all Atonement and that Resurrection Power able to set right the deepest darkness in a world gone wrong.

But there was much time before He came and there is much time before all that is good. Truly good. 

“…God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life.  He is working for and from eternity!” ~The Green Letters, p. 13

And in these days of Advent Reflection, I am cut to the heart.  For, I bear a thorn in my side rooted in an unbelief that fuels impatience and impetuousness and frustration and anger and a thousand evils…Oh, if I could but trust that in that fullness of time the truly good will come.  Good that is born from eternity and will last through eternity.

Since the Christian life matures and becomes fruitful by the principle of growth (2 Peter 3:18), rather than by struggle and ‘experiences’ much time is involved.” p.14

This is why the wilderness wanderings were forty years.  The generation of unbelief needed to die and all of their struggle and experiences that brought them no closer to Yahweh.  This is why the years were few of a united kingdom and glorious kings and they were many of division, captivity and ruin.  The time was peeling away all hope in a seen world.  The Lord was calling His people to know Him.  Not His provision or gifts or even earthly freedom. But Him.

And this is why I can come back to the same thing and find it strong and ugly and wonder how I am there. again.  Time does not become full unless He. is. in. it.  Unless I allow Him to touch. heal. Redeem. Grow.  Unless I surrender and lay it upon the altar of worship to the God who is. All. The. Good. I. Will. Ever. Know.

“Unless the time factor is acknowledged from the heart, there is always danger of turning to the false enticement of a shortcut via the means of “experiences,” and “blessings” p.14

This is why in the seasons of comfort and ease and blessing Israel forgot Him as the prophets re-count again and again.  This is why the Red Sea crossing hallelujah was short-lived when immediate needs were not met.  This is why they yearned to be slaves rather than to wait for Him.

This is why when our missionary support is abundant my heart grows layers of comfort and I trust in what I see.  This is why I can love Him so well in the midst of a worship service and speak unkindly to my husband soon after.  I am enticed by the stuff and forget Him who wants all of me.  Every thought, moment, word devoted to Him.

But it is hard to wait.  And there is no definable date or hour to a time that is full.  And in the waiting I can’t see and times are dry and days I barely make it make me doubt His work.

quoting Graham Scroggie  “Spiritual Renewal is a gradual process.  All growth is progressive, and the finer the organism, the longer the process…And it is from day to day.  How varied these are!  There are great days, days of decisive battles, days of crisis in spiritual history, days of triumph in Christian service, days of the right hand of God upon us.  But there are also idle days, days apparently useless, when even prayer and holy service seem a burden. Are we, in any sense, renewed in these days? Yes, for any experience which makes us more aware of our need of God must contribute to spiritual progress, unless we deny the Lord who bought us.”  ~ p.15

And so, it is the faithful who wait.  It is the Hallowed Hall of Hebrews 11 . These are the great cloud of witnesses that guide us in our Advent waiting.  They each looked forward to The Day.  To the coming of a Glorious King. The Prince of Peace.  Emmanuel.  They spent their entire lives waiting.  And we remember them as a part of our history as the Redeemed.  And we remember them as we wait now.  We wait for a fullness of time.  A maturing of the good that only comes after waiting.  The right kind of waiting that trusts and hopes and believes.

We wait together…

Week #1 Reflection: Do I Believe?



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ode to Kairos

How to make a starry night sky 4

Infinite fullness bejeweled

Imaginative love communed

All living the Word so tooled


Crown of creation fooled

Love triune crafted a plan

Infinite fullness bejeweled


Promises in pages spooled

Unraveling midst midnights many

All living the Word so tooled


Oppressive chains in and out ruled

Hope’s hand shimmered and glossed

Infinite fullness bejeweled


So came baby fragile Who’ll

Bear rough sorrow-laden upon

All living the Word so tooled


Kairos displayed in perfect tune

Redemption sits on Heaven’s footstool

Infinite fullness bejeweled

All living the Word so tooled.

AWA 12/5/2010

Shared with One Stop Poetry for One Shot Wednesday

This is my attempt at a villanelle inspired by the one L.L. Barkat recently wrote and explained its form.  I was intrigued by the form and decided to try it…I don’t know if it’s that the gloriousness of what I’m trying to write about is something I will be deepening in for eternity or that I have been writing liberally in free-form poetry in this season of my life, but this ironically lacked luster of the ‘bejeweled’ essence I was trying to create…

Nonetheless, I trust it might bless or cause someone who reads it to contemplate more one of my favorite words, the Greek, Kairos, that has stayed with me since I studied that language for a year while at seminary.

This Kairos is something I very much think about during Advent, for it was in “the fullness of time” God came near and put on flesh as a vulnerable little baby…


Monday, December 6, 2010

My Story. His Story. God’s Story: Part 1

I’m heeding the nudge of the Spirit to chronicle My husband and my and our now OUR family’s story of calling.
I am choosing this for Tuesdays because of some of the special women at Jen’s (especially Amy) that I have been getting to know for a few weeks, and I feel that you and any other consistent readers (especially dear Cherry, who is a co-laborer and beloved bloggy friend) might be the most blessed to hear this story.
But, truly, I know I need to do this for myself and my God as we continue this unique journey that will, prayerfully, land me in Budapest, Hungary as a long-term missionary within the year.
Trusting all who read be blessed with a touch of Him…

Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 071

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”
~Isaiah 30:20-21 (NIV)

It is hard to know where to start.  Here goes… 

It began long before we met, though we likely passed each other in the halls of our high school.  Yes, we went to the same high school.  I knew his older brother.  Who was a year behind me in school.  Ha!  You’re getting the picture. My beloved was a freshman when I was a senior and we spent two different years at the same school.  The one when he had just poked his head into middle school and I was the last of the towering ninth graders (freshmen better known as).  The following year, freshmen would be attending high school with sophomores, juniors and seniors providing the opportunity for us to share (sort of) one more year in the same school.

We both believed in and loved Jesus during those high school years.  I was perhaps a bit more bold (okay, a lot more, you can read ‘Bible banger’ but there is Grace.  I was doing the best with what I had and claim true ‘Word that won’t return void.’)  But here is what was the same.  Our fledgling love for Jesus lacked the guidance and leadership to be strong in the midst of friends falling into parties. drinking. sex. throwing themselves into the reckless lot of the world.  My heart broke for them and I did the best I could, but I had so much to learn and was hurting…there were those who reached out to me, but weren’t equipped and I left battered and sitting on a ton of stuff.

His story through high school was similar.  He left with lots of regret of not living for his faith and beginning on that only path worth being on while I left wondering if I needed to walk my talk and love with deeper integrity.

One ‘random’ day as I had been planning to major in Elementary Education in college my twin sister suggests (she epitomized practical (yin) and I epitomized head-in-clouds, nose-in-books oblivious (yang)) ‘Abby, why don’t you pick a secondary concentration in a subject you are good at like…Math? since the Elementary Ed field is so flooded??…’ Guidance counseling session closed.  I would declare a ‘Math/ Secondary Education’ major the following fall. 

He picked his college based on the football program that he wanted to play with…having been re-directed in the final time of deciding…picked a simple major, ‘Business’ and off he went.

In our freshmen years of college we were both pursued by gifted discipleship leaders who persisted and were extremely faithful.  We were both led through the same discipleship program, called Sonship (highly recommended…others have been developed…Gospel Transformation and Gospel-Centered Life). God poured the Gospel vividly through ALL. OF. OUR. LIVES. We were forever changed.

I began to dream big dreams about SAVING. THE. WORLD!  Of course, it would be Jesus, but I was going wherever.  You can read some of that story here.  Becoming fluent in Spanish, adding that as a major, and in the spring of my junior year when I had dreamed every missionary dream decided, “oh, maybe I should start to work with high school students since I am majoring in Secondary Education??!!” (idealist dreamer should never die but at some point feet must hit the ground;)

He was finding life in deep, accountable relationships and wondering how he could ‘give this back.’  (note: it is not a coincidence that his paragraphs are MUCH more concise)

I went far and wide and taught at a Christian high school and poured everything I could into my students and wherever else I could take my feet. His hands and feet, I prayed.  I began seminary and continued groping for what a ‘call to full-time ministry’ might look like.  Followed Dreams and Saw Visions of Urban Renewal and thought I had met my life partner.  Hard-headed me refused to see the signs and had my heart and world completely broken.stephanie and thanksgiving 161  I knew nothing except that I was to return home—this was the last place my dreams would have taken me.

He returned home too. Gladly. A Business degree in toe and got a starter job in this field.  He was dealing with his own brokenness and a yearning to live for Jesus and make a difference in this world was fanning to flame.

to be continued…

It appears this will be a longer series than I anticipated…I hope you aren’t bored…I promise our introduction to ministry in Hungary will be included next time! stay tuned!!!! please!! and, in the meantime…


Join us at Jen’s for Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood on Tuesdays…it’s an amazing group!!!


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