Wednesday, March 30, 2011

His heart reaches…

{ please, check out this post and leave a comment for this week’s giveaway of the book, “Half the Church” a response, rally cry for the Church, to the book “Half the Sky
(I will leave comments open through the weekend)}
What does it really mean to have His heart?

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This is a question I have been asking, seeking, pleading to know and press into far deeper than I have.

I know that it takes God-sized compassion-filled heart to commit to a country called ‘the gloomiest on earth’ by one of its own.  The same country which when my husband asked a native earlier this week if he would be interested in knowing more about our ministry there, he honestly said that he didn’t care what happened to his homeland.  He believes it too far diseased to be redeemed and even tried to convince my husband we should be heading somewhere else.

Because this God, whose heart is beyond all description or imagining, inhabits our hearts, these depictions of the place we are being called to only serve to increase our resolve to go.  We pledge ourselves to the One who came from Heaven’s infinite riches and put on the stuff of rags and brokenness in a world gone completely wrong.  How can there be ‘a gloomiest place’ on earth when void of Him all of it is full of doom and gloom?

And how can any place be beyond redemption?  He came from the highest heights to the deepest depths, moved by His own character—the same yesterday, today and forever—and gave his life a ransom for many. He promises to speak the final world over all suffering and says that He has overcome it all.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!

I know that I know very little of His heart.  But I also know He promises to lead me in His perfect way.  He promises to give me eyes to see the despairing and diseased as He does.  He promises to take me step by step in my days in this world and to give me the strength to live and love for Him.

He promises not only His heart but the true acting of that heart over all of eternity, this world and my own life.  He knows the winds of change His Spirit will blow through all of the places where He is proclaimed in Spirit and Truth. 

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And as I sat with my beloved on a beach this past week and looked out over a glorious setting sun across a gulf’s expanse, I was reminded of the Beauty of Him.

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He paints His life and love and reaches across every gulf that separates and enters the hearts of all who would embrace His Beauty…His heart made flesh

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Sharing with Emily’s wonderful Thursday meme…

impproseblog button


when all you can do is cry…

{and please, check out this post and leave a comment for this week’s giveaway of the book, “Half the Church”.}

My dear blog friend, Natalie, has opened her (blog) home to me today.  Natalie blesses me with her openness about her own journey and her sincere desire to encourage, challenge and bless the lives of others.  Her blog, Mommy on Fire, stokedWinking smileme the first time I went to it.  I knew I had met a kindred spirit and woman who is passionate about moms (and everyone) being about the ONE THING we are called to above all others—being His.

Thank you for hosting, friend and sister.Smile

And what do I write about there? 

How He meets us when tears are the only things we have to offer…if you are anything like me, you may have shunned your own tears thinking they speak to weakness and an inability to endure.  But, I want to encourage you with the sweet, priceless reality of how our tears (and grief) really connect us with the Man of Sorrows in a way that few other things can.

Please click over and read

when all you can do is cry…



Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Story. God’s Story. Part 12

I am loving to put my hands to the keyboard and walk in this part of the Story.  Our Calling Story.   If you are new to all of this, just jump in, no need to catch up…no matter what, I pray you leave here with a touch of Him. 

He is Worthy of all of our lives.

{and please, check out this post and leave a comment for this week’s giveaway of the book, “Half the Church”.}

When I left you last in the story, a couple of weeks ago, I was rounding out our time in ministry to high schools here in Florida.  But, it is very true that if you would have asked me a year ago, I would have been very uncertain that we had ‘just one more year’ here.  I think deep inside I would have screamed that it would not be fair to have it be so.


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Jared in the back center at the UHS goodbye party for him…a friend on our team stayed with the kids while they napped so I could be there…such a blessing!

We love it here.  Honestly, we have incredible friends, a church community, a ministry that is growing and reaching students that seems to fit us, in many ways, like a glove.   As added perks, we are outside mostly all year and have a really sunshiny life…who would ‘want’ to leave?

The key word here is ‘want’.  I do believe that when God sweeps you up in a call that requires a great deal of sacrifice you are receiving the desires (wants) of your heart, BUT, often you have to wade through a lot of other wants…even very good wants like friends that are truly family.  Gifts that I want to hold onto with all I’ve got, not to mention how much we both love our families and miss them…these are gifts.  And in these days of following God overseas they become ‘costs’ of following Him that we count as they are surrendered.

So, as far as the story goes, it was last Spring that we began to ask if God was calling us to return again to Hungary and Speakout English Camp for the summer.  We spent some time praying apart, my hubby and I, and then agreed to a certain point when we would share how the Lord was directing us.  Neither of us had an earth shattering revelation that we were to go, but I do remember Jared saying, “it seems like the only things that would keep us from going are the comfort and convenience of staying. These are not valid reasons to say ‘no’.”

Wise man, don’t you agree?  So we continued to ask the Lord for peace as we stepped forward in our plans.  One week I asked for something very specific to confirm we were going in the right direction.  During this week I had the next meeting with a group of high school girls who were going to Speakout and I taught them the Diagram, which is a pictorial representation of the Gospel.

{pictures of kids taken on the soccer field at the dorm where we all stay and have Speakout}

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As I was preparing to meet them, I had that ‘holy uncomfortable’ feeling that we were to practice the Diagram with someone who had never heard it.  I asked the girls to invite their friends and one of them came.  As Emily shared the Gospel with her friend she had been so clearly ready to hear it and wanted to receive the gift of Christ into her life.  Yes, it is true to say that your heart soars with the hundred angels rejoicing when you are in the presence of this…I knew this was for realSmileRolling on the floor laughing

For me, this was clear confirmation and I moved forward with my whole heart and will after this week and the Ever-Faithful One meeting me and giving me a glorious picture of what continually stepping out in faith is about in His eyes.

So, in late June, 2010 we boarded a plane with our just shy of three and one year-olds and buckled up for the ride bathed in hundreds of prayers of our faithful team.  (send me an e-mail at aalleman_03(at)yahoo(dot)com if you would like to receive our prayer updates—or leave a comment, signing in with your e-mail saying you would like to join our prayer team)

After close to 24 hours of travel, we arrived at the Speakout Camp in Keszthely, Hungary…which has become my universal ‘happy place’.  And let me be clear: we arrived to boost the team, serve with our whole lives and step out in faith as a family NOT (at least NOT ME) to be called back long-term.  The Lord had other plans.

Soon after we arrived, the Hungarian national staff who have become extended family for us and have prayed fervently that we would return, began to ask us about our long-term plans.  I remember one evening, after dinner, the Director of the University ministry, Laci (“Lahtsi”) asked us if we were waiting for more confirmation other than the obvious—that our hearts have been knit together with this ministry, and there is amazing opportunity and so few workers—before we would decide to return long-term.

That conversation with Laci was a bit of a turning point for me in what was quite the furrowing up of the soil of my heart.  Others had been asking similar things and I was very much ‘held back’ and saying firmly {to myself} “it’s not time…we want a couple of more years (at least) in one place as a family.”  I was really trying to protect myself from the openness I had been declaring, all along, that I had to being called back long-term.

Then at the end of the first week there, I was sitting with Dan (Student Ministry and Speakout Director) and Aubrey, who is resolute that the Lord is calling her long-term to Hungary.  She was askingEnd of Speakout, etc 054 Dan questions about the process and possibly STINT-ing first (year internship) or joining long-term staff right away.  I thought Dan would encourage  STINT and training in the States (as he had with us), but it seemed he was re-thinking if this is the best way to go.

I was realizing as he and Aubrey were talking that I had questions that I need to be asking for us.  So after they are finished we have one of the most striking conversations I have ever had in my life.  I will never forget it.

I relay to Dan what our time in the States has been.  Very good, but my husband, though he has learned so much, has not been trained with the level of intentionality that he thrived under during STINT in Hungary.  Jared’s spiritual DNA seems to be a perfect fit for the ministry in Hungary…and overseas, period.  I realize that I am the one who is conflicted. 

I am relying on the old days of the dramatic and this all-of-life-coming-together in this glorious crescendo of a call…and I am holding my heart back from what is clearly step-by-step unfolding. A distinct part of that is how the Student Venture ministry in the States is expanding into Spanish-speaking countries.  I am a Spanish speaker and perhaps God would have me travel on projects to translate for the teams, etc. while we continued to work with the high school ministry here.  And very clearly I hear, ‘you have little kids and this is not the time when you can/will leave your family for weeks to do this.’  And I realize, ‘yes, it isn’t the time, AND THAT’S OK!  IN FACT, MORE THAN OK, this feels like a burden of obligation is lifted to say it’s ok to let go of this.’

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{Emily receives her goofy award—they’re all goofy—at the closing banquet for the Speakout staff}

At the same time, I sense the Lord drawing my heart to my husband, Jared, and say, ‘Look at your husband—how is he put together—what is going to grow his gifts/call the most?’ Well, then it was a NO-BRAINER.  OF COURSE!!!  My heart desires that his unique gifts and teachable spirit that just soaks up challenge, direction, mentoring FLOURISH HERE!!!  And, I want that for him!!!  I want that more than any thing!  I cry at the thought of his being able to grow and step into ways of blessing others…and so many more thoughts…

I realize now, too, that the Lord knew He was leading me in a calling (this blog and writing) that can happen anywhere and is a perfect fit for all of this too!

Dan was wonderful—though he very much would love for us to come back long-term HE WASN’T GOING TO MAKE ME THINK IT WAS THE ONLY CHOICE/OPTION.  He was very clear that it would be ‘so sad’ and ‘Hungary’s loss’ if we didn’t return.  Also, that he knew that wherever we went we would have the blessing of the Lord.  Also, perhaps God was calling us to stay and bring change in the areas we are gifted in, passionate about.  He models so well a pastor’s heart—putting his own interests aside and wanting to lead us in His best no matter how it affects him.

So I went back to where Jared was (by our sleeping kids) and we had a sweet, fervent time of sharing this conversation and prayer.  We decided that the Lord was calling us and now we’d have the nearly one month left in Hungary to ask Him to confirm it.

Which is how this story WILL CONCLUDE next week!

Sharing with wonderful sisters at Jen’s—PLEASE JOIN US if you haven’t


And with friend, Laura, and her great meme:



Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Thousand and MORE! and GIVEAWAY…

{New to this space?  Have a look around and enter the giveaway of the book, Half the Church, by leaving a comment below.  Thanks for stopping bySmile}

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{from our overnight getaway…sunset on the beach…PRAISE YOU!}

I’ve missed being here.  Has it really only been a week?  Though I vowed to take a break from the blogging world, in general, I did visit a few and comment a little.  It amazes how much a part of what is happening in my heart these days finds wings on this blog.  The blogging Sabbath is good and necessary.  The missing, and the realizing it is good that is missing, is very affirming.  And the sense of this all—these days, Click to see a larger image of Half the Church by Carolyn Custis Jamesthe ability to have a blog—being the gift that it is, is acute.

The mission coming clearer and the original inspiration to name this place ‘Fan the Flame’ is turning out to have deeper and deeper meaning both in me and I pray those who find it.  Wanting to lift up the Only Worthy One…Jesus and to be a part of His plan in these days is the passion that guides and brings life to what I do here.  What a gift that I live in a day and age where the things on my heart can truly be written for myself, my journey, but also for others.  And a Triune God whose Spirit finds those to touch…who lights darkness through this tiny part played here…and promises to do ‘exceeding immeasurably BEYOND ALL THAT CAN BE ASKED OR IMAGINED’??  Grace upon Grace.

“Lord of all that is and was and is to come, I consecrate this space to You afresh to do with as You will and to fan the flame of Your Glory that only Eternity will show. Amen.”


I pray this book makes in-roads into so many places in the hearts of women who have been hurt by the church and women AND MEN who long for something fresh to embrace as His Bride, The Church, sees in new ways the prophecies of Joel 2 quoted later at Pentecost in Acts 2.

In the introduction James cites the work of Amy CarmichaelI have heard Amy Carmichael quoted for a long time and it has been related to her devotional works as a prolific writer.  However, in writing this book, as James reviewed Carmichael’s work, she found, a ‘Half the Sky’ book written 100 years ago by a Christian missionary woman (Carmichael) entitled, ‘Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India’ {I just saw that there is a Kindle $0.99 edition of this—I just downloaded it to my PC with Kindle for PC}

Here are some quotes in “Half the Church” that James takes directly from Amy’s book where she details her rescue of little girls who were going to be ‘dedicated to the temple gods’ {sex trafficked}:

“(this is) a battle-book written from a battle-field where the fighting is not pretty play but stern reality.” p.22

James further details how these accounts (of the girls and other atrocities such as honor killings and the abuse of widows) were first received by Amy’s supporters:

“At one point, her supporters contemplated recalling her from the field. She was exasperated and dumb-struck when she was told to edit her reports and to focus on successes instead of upsetting everyone with harsh realities that her supporters didn’t want to hear.  She was unbending to the pressure and prayed instead that her words…would be “fire-words”. “We are so afraid to offend, so afraid of stark truth, that we write delicately, not honestly.  Our smoothness glides over souls.  It does not spur them to action, even though they be Christians to whom the thought of the glory of the Lord being given to another ought to be unendurable.” p.23

These words cut deep into my heart about what I invest all of myself in, especially this blog and writing.  

Half the Church” is continuing the work the Lord has been doing in me to peel back the layers of fear, self-protection, longing for comfort.  The pleasant things the prophet Isaiah de-cry’s, are simply not what brings Him the Glory He deserves and not what truly satisfies this deepest writing upon my heart, soul, life to bear His image in this world. Carolyn Custis James writes:

“God’s vision compels us to look beyond ourselves, to ponder a picture of how things were meant to be that leaves us aching for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and to look for ways to participate in moving the world toward that goal.” p.25

Carolyn Custis James is learned, passionate, sincere, caring, compassionate in relaying the message of God’s heart for His daughters. The desire is palpable and transferable for His vision to be re-captured for the advance of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus and this One Triune God’s reflection seen through ALL of His image-bearers, men and women:

“…when a global perspective is injected, women’s stories (in the Bible) become far more than inspirational fodder for women’s Bible studies and soothing devotional books…moments when a woman steps out to occupy center stage of the biblical narrative are countercultural events, for patriarchy’s interest in men and what the men are achieving.  The Bible doesn’t maintain the monolithic focus but repeatedly draws women into the action as unflinching heroines of the faith, stalwart kingdom builders, and valiant rescuers of the royal line of Christ.” p.33

I’m certain this is not the way I learned to view myself as a woman of faith growing up in the church.  At best, I received conflicted messages about what it meant for me to live passionately for the God I love and want to honor as a member of His Church.  I probably have a book’s worth of material from my own life that may poke through in upcoming posts…suffice it to say, “Half the Church” is a balm that touches deep wounds and is healing and fanning this heart’s flame and spurring me on to have this ONE LIFE count for His Kingdom.


Since two things from the sermon resonated with this post:

1) Find your ONE THING and do it well (FAN THE FLAME is my ONE {BLOG} THING)

2) We are made to reflect His heart

I am sharing with Michelle @ Graceful’s 

Use it on Monday


Living, Loving Lord, Thank You!

  • for a vision for this blog
  • for your promise to take care of the results
  • for fanning my own heart’s flame through words here
  • for knowing Your Spirit is doing the same in those You bring here
  • for how You receive All the Glory…
  • for the plea to give me a heart for Your Glory Alone
  • for how Your heart for the Whole Church is so poorly reflected so often
  • for the tremendous opportunity to live a life that changes that
  • for the truth that THIS 1000TH gift is a teeny tiny bit of ALL OF YOUR GIFTS TO ME IN THESE MONTHS RECORDING
  • for the chance to talk with Kelly, dear Kelly, this week
    • for her prayers to uphold me in all that presses hard in these immense life changes
    • for the invitation to call often as we continue to journey
    • for her thankfulness for the best possible outcome to her initial cancer diagnosis
    • for her next breath words that You would be thanked if it had been a far different outcome
    • for how she is an amazing testament of a woman who loves You and bears Your image mightily
    • for the sweet encouragement whenever we talk with her or Dan that we are so thankful You have called us to be under their mentoring
  • for how Jared is ‘going hard’ in this support process

‘Go Hard’ by Lecrae has become our family’s theme song

  • for being in a place where I NEED YOU to live this life…I CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
  • for a wonderful overnight getaway
  • for wonderful grandparents for our kids who are so fun, playful, young and inspiring
  • for MiMi’s reminder of what a fun age Susie is at
  • for all of the little things
    • for a wonderful field trip to a children’s museum
    • for picnics in the park afterwards
    • for kicking feet in the water—me with the 5 little ones—getting soaked!
    • for JOY so huge it bubbles over us all
    • for YOU the giver of such good gifts
    • for cherry-on-top trains going by to mesmerize little boys (and a girl)
  • for the need to stop but MANY MORE in this heart to write
  • for how this thankfulness thing is not an emotional wave
  • for the discipline that keeps it
  • for faithful friends who read such a long postWinking smile
  • for, ALL OF US, the BEST being ever YET TO COME!




Monday, March 21, 2011

Who got ‘Half the Sky’ and blogging Sabbath

The answer is, using this random number generator, Julie, who happens to be a very good friend of mine—and the one through which we initially found out about ministry in Hungary.  She didn’t think her heart could take reading the book as a friend had already suggested it through her blog, but after I talked about it too, she {reluctantly?} added a comment.  We agreed, that this was confirmation that she needs to read it.

I am hoping and praying that EVERYONE who didn’t know about ‘Half the Sky’ before or perhaps did but hadn’t gotten around to reading it, WILL NOW! 

I am posting my list of thanks this week and then will be taking a break from blogging this week.  I will either read more or study more and write about that, or hopefully all of it, or possibly none as my in-laws are visiting this week and my hubby and I are getting to go away TONIGHT.  OVERNIGHT!  This is only the second time we have gone away overnight in almost 4 years, so, yes, we’re quite excited!

I’ll be back next Monday with a giveaway of ‘Half the Church’!  Hope to ‘see’ you then!


Thank You for:

  • saving my soul.
  • making me whole.
  • for the amazing vision you cast for Your sons and daughters in these days!
  • for how You are clearing my life to see what I have been clouded about
  • for that deep gut, heart, soul determination to NEVER GO BACK
  • for the call to take a break from this place
  • for all that I don’t begin to know that You want to do in and through me/us
  • for COURAGE to DREAM BIG about the future {again}
  • for graciously drawing me back to only ‘holding’ this moment perspective
  • for how much more special it is, because it IS rare
  • for the GIFT I know it will be
  • for a marriage that heals and seals Your love to our hearts
  • for how we are best friendsSmile
  • for how we are a GREAT TEAM!
  • for bringing many encouraging things about our support trip home
  • for the future grace for all that’s coming
  • for the little things
    • a son who wants to do and get all things sports
    • the park and bike rides for little ones in the trailer
    • for a Pop Pop who loves to bike
    • for a MiMi who is young and the best playmate
    • for their reminder that the best we can give our kids is ourselves {not money, experiences, education, but us}
    • for baby girl loving the slide
    • for static-y hair coming down the slide
    • for how she is just a toddling machine
    • for black legs and hands
    • for a husband who exudes joy at a playground—not boredom
    • for son climbing the wall
    • for churchSmile
    • for a pastoral team that is incredibly refreshing
    • for gorgeous breezy 80 degree weather for months…{not trying to rub in, just THANK}
    • for tennis and swinging for the first time in years
    • for how fun it still is
    • for buddy boy wanting to get it so badly
    • for baby girl chasing the balls all over the court
    • for games in bed with son this morning
    • for cubby yummy cheeks, knees toes, hands…oh my!
  • for continual guidance as we walk to the unknown
  • for waiting and hoping both being ‘esperar’ in Spanish
  • for how worry is never Your will
  • for Life!
  • for the BEST being ever YET TO COME!

#946-990!!! {Next week…cross 1000!!!!}



Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On Waiting…

Before I post this week’s Five Minute Friday Prompt , I’d love for you to enter this week’s giveaway by leaving a comment at MONDAY’S POST.  In case you don’t have time to read the post, the giveaway is a book called ‘Half the Sky’ and all you need to do is let me know if you’ve heard of it and/or read it, BY A COMMENT HERE!  Thanks!

Directly from the Gypsy Mama, Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday Prompt.

5-minute-friday-1This is the place where once a week we take the chance to
just write, and not worry if it’s just right or not.

For five minutes flat.

Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write. Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect.

That’s how Five Minute Friday was born. Want to play? It’s fun. And it’s never too late to link up. Also? My friend Sara whipped up a hunky dory button for the occasion! You can grab the code over there in the right side bar. Then:

1. Write for only five minutes.
2. Link back here and invite others to play along.
3. Go high five the word artist who linked up before you with an awesome comment

It’s liberating; give it a a try and see. And there’s this great reminder for one of you from DaySpring of how- with faith – we don’t wait in vain.

On Waiting…


Waiting has everything to do with the Christ-following life and by that same One in me I am learning to wait with a heart that pleases Him.  I have never, ever been patient but know that in HIs Spirit I am learning a discipline most contrary to me.

And I love how in Spanish the word for waiting and hoping is the same.  It truly is what waiting is for the One who knows Him.  Waiting is Hoping and if I embraced nothing else about waiting or learned nothing else then it would be worth it.

Waiting right now is very active.  We are working hard to raise support and prepare to move overseas.  I can be in this time in anxiety or in hoping.  We don’t see how He will provide as we push into the unknown.  We know He is faithful and our waiting has everything to do with exercising our faith muscle.  If we never have to believe HIm for anything, how are we going to grow our faith?  I love this and get so excited at the thought of what it means to grow my faith in the best way…waiting and hoping.  To have this be the undercurrent of this life and to ‘count it all joy’ as I walk this way.  I have so far to go, but the goal is clear and sure and underlined through all of His Word.  I don’t need to ‘do’ anything except learn how to wait in faith and trust and LIVE while the waiting is happening.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a heart that breaks

I’d love for you to enter this week’s giveaway by leaving a comment at THIS POST (I’ll be accepting comments for the giveaway through Friday).  In case you don’t have time to read the post, the giveaway is a book called ‘Half the Sky’ and all you need to do is let me know if you’ve heard of it and/or read it, BY A COMMENT HERE!  Thanks!

I’ve been asking Him for a heart that breaks for what breaks His. 

I’ve been asking to be stretched and expanded to know more of His heart for this aching world. 

I’ve been asking Him to show me how to care without limit…to empathize with the grieving everywhere.

Then, I heard about and started to read ‘Half the Sky.  It is tearing me up and yet, this is how He is expanding my heart.  These horrific yet hopeful stories and statistics of what women endure are more than I can humanly bear.  I need His heart.  I want His heart.  I refuse to stop reading and pretend I don’t know.

This and! 063This and! 065

Consciousness has come and BY HIS GRACE I won’t turn back, but will seek increasingly to see Him be lifted up and that beautiful vision of Isaiah 58 be realized as His Church awakes, rises and shines His light where there’s only been darkness:

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

And then the earthquake and tsunami’s happen in Japan.  And I am overwhelmed with whole towns  washed away and I already carry a burden for the people we are preparing to live among.

But yet, some-beautiful-how ‘His yoke is easy and burden is light’.  I do not have to fear where His heart will take me because it will take me to Him.  His heart.  for the world.  for me.  The Author of Redemption promises to have all brokenness of heart lead me to Him where I can find rest for weariness—true rest.  The Amplified Bible calls this yoke ‘wholesome’.  That is amazing…Asking Him for His heart actually makes me whole.  I am made to bear His image.  Have His heart. 

And though it breaks it is not brittle, but the blood that is poured is actually healing me…mystery and miracle.

‘Precious Lord, the needs of this whole wide world are overwhelming and yet, you ask that we know Your heart and that we become like You.  You ask us to seek Your Heart and abide within it.  Show me how to run fully and richly in the wildness of Your Heart that breaks for an aching world and yet holds infinite rest.  This is the mystery of how to ‘run and not grow faint’ and this truly-live miracle only You can do and I boldly ask for just that.  For Your Glory, Amen.’

Sharing this breaking heart with Emily’s beautifully imperfect community:

impproseblog button


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

on cemeteries and contemplation

{If you’re coming from One Stop Poetry, I had this whole post written and went to the link-up and saw that the disaster in Japan was highlighted.  I express from my heart, that I do not mean this to be uncompassionate…I grieve and have cried tears for what is happening in that country…however, what I share here, in the poem below, is not this a part of the lesson? We do not know what tomorrow will bring…even as I pray for those grieving and those lost in this country…}

I am continuing a trip down Memory Lane through the journals that I found going through things as we prepare to move overseas.  This poem was written in the summer of 2000 at the cemetery on the hillside just a couple of blocks up from my parents’ house where I was living at the time.  It has one of the most gorgeous views, housed in quaintness of small town historic America.  It was a great place to think for me in this season when I had a lot to process…I hiked up the hill to a spot not far from where {very unbeknownst to me} my own dear Mama would be buried less than two years later.

It is most definitely true that we don’t know what tomorrow holds…my Mama lived the opposite of what this poem highlights…SHE LIVED FULLY ON SO MANY LEVELS, NOT PERFECTLY, BUT LEFT THIS LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS.  I hope and pray that you have a sense of spending this One Life on what really matters…

Baby JJ 5-11 Klingen girls and Mother's Day 009

Crazy are the days.

A tiny elm shades

in the house of the dead.

Behold, below! my stone hedge

a fountain of sorts

whose shape contorts

in passing of years

oddly like the fears

that keep us all going

always seeking never knowing

the day nor the hour

when through this field

our dead cries will yield.

We’ll speak of a life gone sour,

of searching for power

only to find a tower

of rubble


hay and stubble.

And we’ll want to double

our time

to be alive.

But, who will hear

the yearning cry

as others pass by

holding most--

the same fear?

AWK 6/19/2000

Sharing with One Stop Poetry’s One Shot Wednesday


Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Story. God’s Story. Part 11

Before I begin this week’s installment of OUR STORY , I’d love for you to enter this week’s giveaway by leaving a comment at THIS POST.  In case you don’t have time to read the post, the giveaway is a book called ‘Half the Sky’ and all you need to do is let me know if you’ve heard of it and/or read it, BY A COMMENT HERE!  Thanks!

If you are new to this Our Calling Story, well, just jump right in!  No need to catch up…I’m writing each segment to hopefully bring blessing in itself…

Trust all will be blessed with a touch of Him!


Do you remember, last week, I asked if you could guess whether the pregnancy test I took right before the high school girl’s bible study I was leading said ‘yes’ or ‘no’?  It was actually ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’.  I think everyone who guessed, said:

PREGNANT! AND YOU WERE CORRECT! We were jumping up and down excited thatSanford Zoo with Farr's 034 night and continued to be excited, however…

…at about week 5 (so a few days after taking the test) I got very sick.  On one hand, I was thrilled to know that the hormones were kicking in well and ‘hooray!’…a healthy pregnancy! But, on the other hand, I was so, so sick.  I had my initial appointment a little over a week after I started to get sick and I had already lost 4-5 pounds.  I was also throwing up popsicles. 

My doctor (thankfully) acted right away and prescribed the generic of ‘zofran’ which was initially used for chemotherapy patients and used to cost $1000 dollars a pill!!  But, now, I could get it for a $5 co-pay! This, in itself is a miracle!  And, it did work {pretty} well, but I was still quite weak.

This began a special never-will-forget era of ministry where almost every time Jared went to school sonogram shots 002lunches he would bring our son, pushing him in his little red stroller.  We were still at the first high school that I shared about last week and I am convinced that God did something special through seeing my husband being the loving, hands-on father that he is.  And it was confirmed that the adorable children God blesses us with open up many doors for ministry.

Along this same note, because of the sickness that necessitated my need for help with our son, we began a really wonderful pattern of ministry for our family.  There are so many things that our son and his daddy have gone to together—these lunches, football and basketball games.  And he loves it!  My husband is the most servant-hearted, do-anything-for-anybody, friendly person I know!  And my son is becoming the same! (still working on the doing for others, but FRIENDLY, YES!) He needs to know everybody’s name, even if it’s the delivery person at the neighbor’s house! Whenever he meets someone new, he walks right up to them and shakes their hand, because, THAT’S WHAT HE SEES HIS DADDY DO ALL THE TIME!

There’s a month’s worth of sermons in that one analogy, don’t you agree?

Cruise & before 053As the pregnancy continued, not until about halfway through, eventually I felt better.  We experienced a phenomenon in our family.  We actually stayed ‘home’ for the majority of the summer.  We did travel to Myrtle Beach for the same student conference that I talked about last week, home to Pennsylvania to visit family and to Colorado for a conference when I was 34 weeks pregnantWinking smile But, relatively, we were ‘home’ for a majority of May through August of 2009.

Then, in the middle of September, after a hospital stay for IV’s because of food-poisoning a few weeks prior, and walking around for weeks in pre-labor {to the point of being halfway dilated} our baby girl, named after my mother, Susanne, was born! 

Around the same time that she was born, we were re-located to our second high school here in Florida.  Weabby's shower 012 did not ask to be placed somewhere different and were willing to stay at the first school indefinitely, but hoped to have a team working with us.  However, after prayer and discussion, our leaders placed us at a new school.  It was really hard to have to abruptly leave the relationships we had begun, especially for my husband, but we trusted our directors and made the transition.

The new high school was the closest one to us.  It was 15-20 minutes closer and so my husband could go back and forth when our baby girl was still a newborn—as we don’t have our {blood} family nearby.  This high school also is a minority school where the majority of students are Hispanic and other minorities are also prevalent.  This is a great fit for us and my hubby, though quite whiteWinking smile, makes very good connections with ‘brothers’.  So does our son!!

DSCN0343The Lord has done amazing things in the year and a half in which we worked at this school.  Highlights from the first year were the continued in-roads to do outreaches {team talks and with pizza and the gospel and follow-up meetings with the teams} for all levels of the football and basketball teams as well as the girls’ basketball team and the volleyball team.  There was also the continued ministry over school lunches—meeting many new students and having spiritual conversations that introduced the gospel. 

Although I embrace the fact that this is ‘our’ ministry calling lived out at this high school, I struggled so with this year.  Yes, I had a two year-old and newborn and I don’t have family close, but I still so hoped that I could have a ministry to the girls at this high school.  There were no girl leaders to reach out to the many young women there.  The few interactions I did have showed me that there was great possibility, but I simply lacked the capacity to do what my heart wanted.

DSCN0235DSCN0238 DSCN0223DSCN0224







{These pictures are of a break dancing outreach soon after we went to the new school and our son watching, mesmerized!}

I prayed all through the year for the Lord to bring female leaders and He did! this year.  But there was a change in the capacity to volunteer of the main committed female leader and she had to stop after Christmas.  Would you pray right now that consistent volunteer leadership {particularly females} would be raised up to minister at this school?

And in this Sweet Interlude I describe the recent closure of ministry at this school so that we can prepare {raise support, pack, train, etc.} to move overseas…

So we are coming to the end of the story as the past is meeting the present.  When we decided last Spring that we would again return to Hungary in the summer, we honestly didn’t know it would lead us to a long-term, COME NOW!, call…we were open, but as I later realized, I WAS OPEN BUT WANTED MY TIMING AND MY WAY…

This is where we will pick up and (probably) spend two weeks detailing our return last summer and the call and confirmation we received.  I am so excited to write this!  All of the previous parts have set the stage for this!  And I can’t wait to process how all of this call took the definition and shape that we now walk in unflinchingly…


Sharing all of this, these weeks, with dear, sweet sisters at awesome Jen’s 


And with my sweet friend who loves Jesus and is just all-around amazing, Laura,



how can He be lifted up…{and giveaway}

when ‘half the sky’ is fallen?

“ And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” ~John 12:32

This and! 065

I CAN’T and I WON’T keep silent about what has been stirring these past ten days or so, ever since I heard at the Synergy 2011 Conference about ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’.  I still can’t get over how this bestselling book that describes in horrific and yet hopeful detail the plight of women all over the world WAS NOT ON MY RADAR!

Here’s a quote from the Introduction that should jolt you awake as it did me:

“The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing.  It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century.  More girls are killed in this routine ‘gendercide’ in ANY ONE DECADE than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.

“In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery.  In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism.  We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.”

In this Introduction we also meet, Rath, a Cambodian teenager who escaped two brothels where she was involuntarily trafficked to and subsequently enslaved.  The horrors she endured and the determination and resilience which led to her escape as well as her current success as a small business owner set the tone for similar stories throughout the book.  Stories relayed by the coauthors, a husband and wife pair of journalists, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn {who I heard speak and met at this same conference}, that are first hand interviews one or both of them conducted across years of field reporting.

This is not an easy read.  But it is a necessary read.  It will break your heart and birth within you His heart for each and every one of these suffering women, girls, babies whom He sees and hears their soul cries. 

Would you please take this journey with me and pray, as I am, about what I can do within my sphere of influence to be Christ to the suffering women that I am reading about?

This and! 089

This invitation is WHY I am giving away a copy of this book, Half the Sky, THIS WEEK.

If you would like to enter this giveaway, then, please leave a comment at the end of this post. (I will keep the giveaway open until Friday when I will announce here who will receive the copy of Half the Sky) Let me know if you have heard of and/or read this book and if you have, still, please enter.  If your name is chosen, I’d ask that you would give the book away to someone who has not read it, or even as a giveaway on your own blog.

NOTE: I will continue to share about Half the Sky on Mondays, especially, and will be hosting another giveaway, next Monday, of a companion book: Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James.  She wrote this as a call to the Church, particularly in North America, to rise up and lead the fight for justice for women worldwide.  This book was birthed, in part, as her response to get involved after reading Half the Sky.

 This is what I heard {last} Sunday, and so I am sharing it with

Michelle @ Graceful’s meme:

Use it on Monday


And also, will include my Monday list of thank you’s…


  • for the book, Half the Sky
  • for how you have spoken through two people who possibly don’t know Jesus personally
  • for their courage to go where others have not gone
  • for their courage and resolve to write the atrocities that happen outside of mainstream news coverage
  • for how you allowed me to learn about this book
  • for all that you want to do as Your Church wakes up and responds
  • for Your Love that has the power to reach any of these women
  • for how I carry them in my heart as I walk around these days (and I pray always)
  • for Your Grace that is ever-ready to wake us up and give us new days to walk with You anew!
  • for how You are moving in THIS GENERATION, in beautiful young people like Zach Hunter
  • for the chance to be a part of crucial work in incredible opportunities to educate young people in Eastern Europe
  • for how Your Gospel is a WHOLE Gospel…
  • for this blog—that I can impact whoever might read this post, hear and read along and I pray RESPOND
  • for the Infinite Love that flows from Your Heart
  • for how we can surrender our emotions to be swept up and enfolded with Your Heart
  • for all of the little things
    • first time family camping this weekend
    • for surviving with 4 adults and 6 kids 4yrs. and under!
    • for seeing our favorite baseball team playSmile
    • for the weather here…yes, it is still gorgeous
    • for roasting marshmallows
    • for children’s wonder
    • for watching a new child be so lovingly enfolded in a family
    • for this happening without blood relation
    • for the reminders of how Your blood and Spirit are the unifiers of all people
    • for skipping shells on the inlet by our campsite
    • for baby girl stomping her foot in the water
    • for kids who love each other and the beach!
    • for floppy haired son and friend running back and forth on the sand
    • for baby girl escaping and going right for the waves
    • for giggly glee at running to and away from the water
    • for buddy boy loving to play ‘what letter does Cat, or Pole or???’ start with??
  • for the all-encompassing Grace of a Godly man, I call 'husband’
  • for how this journey to move overseas is shaping us
  • for the daily end-of-self sense
  • for how faith must be breath
  • for a spiritual mentor/encourager I met through this blog
  • for Kelly reaching out to me in the midst of HER radiation treatment
  • for Michelle’s desire to not ‘waste her cancer’
  • for perspective that can snap me out of anything if I open my heart to it/HIM




Friday, March 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday: I feel most loved when…


It’s Friday. If you’ve got five minutes, I’m all ears.

Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write for five minutes flat! Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect.

Just let them be you.

1. Write for only five minutes.
2. Link back here and invite others to play along.
3. Go say hi to the five minute artist who linked up before you.

It’s fun, creative, and challenging. And there’s a happy red Life to the Full mug in it for one of you from DaySpring.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on the prompt:

I feel the most loved when …


I curl up somewhere, usually my bed because I am tired and I pour out my mixed up1-12-09Since Christmas here in Orlando 009 emotions to Him.  Abba Daddy and He calms my worries and fears as I simply lay weary before Him.  This was the place He met me when I was at the end of my rope, completely broken, and usually, I take a cat nap as I feel His presence warm and loving.  This one time though He gave me a sweet peace to move back home—not a choice I would have thought of making a couple of months previous.  So, I did and He healed me and I was there when mom got cancer and could be there to spend fleeting days with her.  It was His love and kindness that drew me Home.

2-16-09 V-tine's Day and cuddles 006I feel this love in the arms of my husband as He forgives me a thousand wrongs with soft tenderness.  He is the physical representation of that love that surrounds me when I curl on my bed.  Sometimes we curl there together and love meets us both.  And in that sweet love our family has now Visitors and finally Mommy 072been founded and as we cuddle each of our little loves this most loved feeling is multiplied.  The warm-ness of grace is palpable and I do not regret any step in the journey, especially the hard falls, because, well, that is when His Grace wrapped me up and led me in the way that I now walk.  All Grace and the Love that kisses it to my lips and so then I can sing it here in this hallowed five minutes that take me deep with words.



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