Monday, September 4, 2017

Bread From Heaven

"He let you be hungry which helped you to not have pride.  Then He fed you with bread from heaven...." Deut. 8:3a

To say these last four weeks have been tough would be an understatement. There have been few things in my life that have been more stressful that taking on a full time job in the midst of getting six kids back in school and trying to prepare for my trip to Ethiopia.

But...I asked for it.

Several months ago, God began stirring my heart.  He began showing me that I was getting comfortable.  That I was beginning to rely on my own strength. My family finally felt like it wasn't in complete chaos 24/7. I was planning to lead a team to China, which after eight trips felt very familiar.    And because I really am just like a dumb sheep, I began feeling like life was manageable.  Like I had things under control.  I realized pride was creeping back in.  Again.

And this scared me.  

See, at the beginning of 2015, God took me to Philippians 2.  He showed me the unbelievable humility of my Savior, who laid down His life for me.  Who did not hold on to His rights as God, but in humility, took my place on the cross.  The Lord opened my eyes to the ugly pride in my life.  He gently asked if He could do a work in my heart and in my life to remove my pride.  I said "yes." 

And He did.

That year was one of the hardest, darkest years of my life.  He took me to the bottom. He shook me to my core.  He opened my eyes to who I really was, weak, needy and completely inadequate to do my life in my own strength.  I saw my brokenness, and my desperate need for the Lord in every area of my life.  And without the strength of two dear friends who walked through the fire with me, I'm not sure I would have made it.  

God ripped my pride out by the roots, or so I thought.

But pride is really sneaky.  It can disguise itself really well.  It can slip in completely unnoticed. 

So, when God began to reveal the sneaky pride that was trying to slip back in, I desperately prayed for His help.  I had been to the bottom and did not care to go back there again.  Ever.  I came to Him in honesty, confessing my feelings of self-sufficiency. I asked Him to force me from the comfortable place I was a place where I had to rely totally on Him.  

And He did.  

Within a month, He turned my world upside down.  He changed everything that was comfortable in my life.  He redirected me from the country that holds my heart to country that is completely unknown to me.  A place that is so utterly different from China that I hardly even knew how to find it on the map.  Where is Ethiopia anyway?? And then He threw me into a place I said I would never ever go again...the classroom.  

It's not that I don't love teaching.  Or children (obviously I do because I have a lot of them!).  But, my time in the classroom many years ago was so very hard.  I always felt so inadequate.  I walked away from the profession to start our family feeling burnt out and defeating.  And I vowed I'd never go back. 

But, as it began dawning on me that my life was about to be very different....
... that, for the first time in 14 years, I would not have a baby at home,
... that at all six of my kiddos would be in school...
...I realized that I had no idea what I was going to do with myself.   

 So, I began making some plans.  Small plans.  Ones I thought I could handle.

I would go back to teaching.  As a sub.  Just a few days here or there.  I could say yes or no.  I'd be in control.  This was a good plan.  Except I had asked God not to let me be comfortable.  

 So, He didn't let me hold not my small plans.  He blew the doors right off my comfortable, safe place.  And He threw me right into the place I said I would never go...full time teaching.  I began to question my sanity.  Why in the world had I prayed such a prayer?  I realized I liked comfortable because it is so...comfortable and that  I really handle "comfortable" much better than "impossible."  

But, isn't that what faith is really about?  Allowing God to put us in places where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through (F. Chan)?  

When we allow God to lead us into places that reveal our inadequacies, we learn just how adequate He truly is. We learn that He is completely faithful to be with us and hold us up with His righteous right hand.  He gives us strength enough for each day as He Himself feeds us with "bread from heaven."

"Wait for the Lord;  be strong and courageous;  wait for the Lord!  (Ps 27:14)
"...for they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength." (Isa. 40:31a)
"So, fear not, for I am with you;  
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, 
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isa. 41:10)


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Brokenness: the heart of advocacy

Precious Peter

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
Ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice."
Prov. 31:8-9

Being broken for the cause of the orphan is not new to me.  My journey began many years ago with a beautiful girl named Anne.  Since then, I have adopted.  I have served in orphanages.  I have looked into the faces of children in desperate need and have suffered the crushing loss of precious ones gone too soon. 

But my trip last October was different.  Hope Journey was different.  
It was a completely new level of hard.  

We had 33 beautiful children in our Hope Journey Camp.  Our sole purpose in being there was to advocate for these children and find families for them.  Most of them had been waiting their whole life to be chosen.  Because they are older, because their needs are perceived as greater, because they had fallen through the cracks, they had been passed over, forgotten, time and time again.  

And these children knew why we had come.  To them, we represented hope of what they so desperately wanted.  

A family.  A mom and dad.  A place to belong.

My heart was not prepared...

To have children stand before me and plead with me, 

Sweet Laurel

 "Please find me a family..."  

For children to feel like they had to smile and string beads 

and do the song and dance to be worthy...

To have a child with CP get up out of his wheelchair and run 

 to show that he was capable...

To have a precious boy give me his name tag, look into my eyes,



and plead with me not to forget him...

To have a beautiful baby boy sit on my lap, to wipe away his tears,


and feed him my cake because I was desperate to do something...

It was heartbreaking.  
It was absolutely gut-wrenching.  
It was one of the most emotionally painful experiences I have ever had.

No child should have to beg for a family.


I have cried a million tears for these children.  My heart is literally crushed for them.  I cannot think about them or talk about them without weeping.  My heart cries out, "Where is the church?  Where are God's people? Is there no one, NO ONE, to say 'yes' to these precious babies??"  

Some days, I just want to be numb.  To forget their pleas.  To escape this heavy place of brokenness.  

But I cannot.  I will not.  
I know it is my brokenness that fuels my fight.  And fighting for this holy cause is one of the greatest privileges of my life.  

So, I will continue.  I will keep posting their pictures and telling their stories.  I will keep praying and crying out for them, asking God to wake up His people to the needs of orphans like Peter and Laurel, 
Flint and Benz, Wesson and Scottie.  

Because they matter.  Because they are valuable and precious.  Because they deserve a family.  Because Christ laid down His life for me, and He has called me to do the same for others.
1 John 3:16-18 says this:

"By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

Church, we have the world's goods.  There are so many precious ones in need.  Will we close our eyes?  Will we close our hearts?  


Will we love with reckless abandonment?  Will we hear their desperate cry and say "yes" to these treasures, knowing that when we say "yes" to them, we say "yes" to Him.  When we get them, we get Him.

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.'"
Matt 25:40 

A final thought...

Timothy Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, says this:  "Many who are evidently genuine Christians do not demonstrate much concern for the poor.  How do we account for that?  I would like to believe that a heart for the poor 'sleeps' down in the Christian's soul until it is awakened."  

Oh, friends, may these precious faces awaken our souls, break our hearts, compel us to step out of our comfort zone and send us running to the least of these...

We are rejoicing that nine of our Hope Journey children have been chosen!!  And, we continue praying hard for families for the rest of our precious ones. 

Here are links to learn more about these children: