September 29, 2010

Compassion Awakened

holy experience

CJ handed me the bright white envelope and asked, "What's this?"

"Probably junk mail," I replied. Turning it over, I let my eyes fall to the return address. This package was most definitely not junk. It contained pure treasure.

Two weeks earlier, I'd read this post of Lisa-Jo's. My heart was immediately stirred. Even though I cannot give financially right now, I can still give! Anxiously, my fingers dialed the numbers and I was connected to a Compassion representative. I gave him the information, hung up the phone, and waited.

God showed up in my mailbox this weekend in the form of a beautiful 13-year old girl named Jennifer. The deep caramel color of her face brings back memories of others, equally precious, I saw in Peru. Her eyes bore into my heart and I ache with longing to pull her in close and whisper words of Jesus' love into her soul. Does she know Him?

The anger I felt in Peru, the sheer outrage that people live in such poverty and squalor, ignites again.  I remember the passion I carried for those children whose smiles lit up faces smudged with the dust of the Andes. They were joyful, happy. I was horrified.  Where did that passion go?

My circumstances are light, momentary. And I have let them consume my life. The force of this knowledge strikes me, humbles me. I am broken. I am swept away by the realization that although I thought I was going to help Jennifer through my prayers and words, I am the one being rescued. My Father has used a girl, not much older than my own, to wake me from my contented slumber and to remind me that the mission didn't end when I returned home.

Maybe one day I'll travel to Jennifer's country to wrap my arms around her and thank her for the gift she's given me. In the meantime, I'll be wrapping her in prayer and as much Jesus-love as I have within my wretchedly human heart.

(If you'd like to be a Compassion correspondent or sponsor a child, please visit Compassion for more information)

September 23, 2010

By the Numbers

13 days until CJ's birthday - she'll be 12

11 months since we learned R would lose his job.

10 days without complaining, so far. Now that I'm being intentional about it, I realize just how much I do complain!

9 x 4 = 36, the number of items on my Amazon wishlist.

8 days until a family beach weekend, and I. cannot. wait.

7 loads of laundry done each week (approximately). I'm still loving the homemade detergent & our clothes line.

6 writing instruments on the table in my Bible study corner. Have you tried the new Sharpie pen? It's divine.

5 books I'm in the middle of - why do I do this to myself?

4 girls in my Sunday School class last weekend, and it was a blast!

3 weeks until R's fall break. We'll be taking a family trip to Washington, DC.

2 bushels of apples to preserve this weekend. I'm thinking apple sauce, apple pie, and apple butter. Yum!

1 month since R returned to college. It's been a hard month in many ways, but really good in others. How great is our God!

September 22, 2010

Scenes of Autumn

holy experience

After my prayers have been poured out and the sun has poked its sleepy head over the pond, after breakfast is eaten and the bus has picked up our precious cargo, it's our time. The chill of the morning air stings our faces. We walk down the driveway, past the first of yellowed leaves scattered across the lawn. Our footsteps fall into a comfortable rhythm, much like our conversation. We savor these final quiet moments before work and school crowd our day. We knit our hearts together and forge a friendship ever deepening, this man I love and I.

Crisp red apples become sweet golden sauce, emptied into sparkling jars and stored away for the winter.

The soup pot, no longer ignored, cradles the first of many meals.

I smile as I hear the music start, then stop in hesitation. The song starts again. I can picture my girl, her face all concentration, her fingers poised over the keyboard. This new venture is part of her search for her place in ministry; these lessons are her offering to the Lord. I silently thank Him for drawing her near and pray He will teach her His music, that He will sing with her.

Evenings are filled with schoolwork and reading and music and conversation. Weekends are marked by football and bonfires.

The pace of life is steady and sweet, yet my heart longs to be settled.

After a particularly long day, I glance at my girl in the seat beside me. Her voice, unusually quiet. "Are you tired?" I ask. "Not really. I'm just ready to be home," she replies.

Me, too, my sweet girl.  Me, too.

I am ready to be tucked away safely with those I love most, hidden from the uncertainties and worries.

Some days bring us low, and we bow to drink deeply of the Living Water. The prayers of faithful friends have become our sustenance, nourishing us as we continue to feel our way around in this new place, these unfamiliar surroundings.

We cling to each other. We trust. We hope. And we see glimpses of the garment of praise that Our Father is fashioning for us.  It is more beautiful than the spectacular colors of Autumn.  May it proclaim His glory. grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
~Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)

September 13, 2010

Will in Join Me in this Challenge?

Conviction slices through the hardness of my heart, cutting deep through the tough layers of sin. It hurts. It is necessary if I want to purge this disease from my soul, sin-sick as it is.


It surrounds me and curls me in its tentacles, choking me until the darkness creeps over my eyes and I no longer see the Light. My gasps for air drown out my praises. I am desperate for help. Flailing wildly, I reach for those around me. I draw them into my clutches, and succeed only in bringing them into the trap with me. Together, we sink.

I need to be intentional about staying far away from negativity, and its source. There are idols I need to cast aside, people I need to limit interaction with, and words I need to stop uttering.  Which brings me to challenge myself for the remaining three weeks of September.


For my own good. For the good of my husband and my daughter. For the good of my friends. For the good of my Lord.

I'm praying that my heart will be changed by the end of this experiment and that it will make an impact on others around me.

Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son - a headache, an insult, a long line at the check-out, someone's rudeness or failure to say thank you, misunderstanding, disappointment, interruption. As Amy Carmichael said, "See in it a chance to die", meaning a chance to leave self behind and say YES to the will of God, to be "comfortable unto His death." Not a morbid martyr-complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives. Wouldn't our children learn godliness if they saw the example of contentment instead of complaint? acceptance instead of rebellion? peace instead of frustration?
Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

Are you with me?

(Comments are open so that we can hold each other accountable)

September 9, 2010


I'm blogging over at Southern Baptist Girl today. Read it here.

And get your hands Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels so you can join the discussion.

September 3, 2010

A New Dance

17 years of marriage should have prepared me for this, I think.

How? How do 17 years of day-to-day living in a comfortable rhythm, one that you've memorized so well you hear it in your sleep, prepare you to learn a new dance? Especially when the old one was so sweet that your heart aches at the memory. And your body aches at the stretching and moving this new dance requires.

We are clumsy, awkward. I push and turn when I shouldn't. I stubbornly take the lead because I think I know the steps better. He resists and strains in frustration. I, exasperated, step on his feet and demand he pay attention. Slowly I realize that he can't hear the music over the sound of my voice bellowing instructions. Neither can I.

We stop. In silence, we listen.

The chords come faint, unfamiliar. The tune is dissonant to our earthly ears, not at all what we anticipated. How can we learn this dance? Will we get the hang of it?

I look him in the face. Beyond the crinkles that frame his sea-green eyes and the specks of gray in his thick black hair. Here is the man I love, my partner for life. The Maestro is conducting the orchestra. The music of our lives washes over us, as we start moving slowly, tentatively.

We will learn this. And it will be beautiful.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
-Zephaniah 3:17

September 2, 2010

Spilling More Beans...

I got an email from a reader yesterday, asking when I was going to post some thoughts over at Southern Baptist Girl. Here you go!

September 1, 2010

Spilling the Beans

Last week, I mentioned that I had a surprise announcement coming. I'm joining Lisa and Leslie in a new blog adventure. Click here to find out more!