Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dancing Heart Part 1

Dancing Heart Verses 2009
Verses from each book of the Bible that remind me of God’s unfailing love for me, his child. The verses that make my heart dance.

Genesis 18:19“I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is right and just.”
This was said of Abraham- but it is for me as well! He singled me out, that I might (teach) others the Way. Oh! How it makes my heart sing to know that God chooses me, as he chooses each of us, for follow hard after Him! Can’t you hear him calling?

Exodus 27:21“The lamp stand will be placed outside the inner curtain of the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. Aaron and his sons will keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence day and night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be kept by all future generations.”
We, as children of Abraham- with Jesus, our priest- should keep our lamps burning day and night. This means, He, the God of Heaven, desires us to come DAILY into his presence, to fan the flame of his love and affection!

Leviticus 26:12“I will walk among you. I will be your God and you will be my people.”
Here, in this book of laws, we find the reason for it all. God is saying, “I am a Holy God- I want to be with you. You have to do all these things and then I will walk among you! I will be yours! You will be mine! “Then, as you know, when it became clear (to us!) that there was no way we could live by this- He said, “I will come. I will live by this and I will take your punishment. THEN- I will be yours! You will be mine!”

Numbers 16:48“He stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped.”
God’s anger, that fearsome righteous anger, was destroying the Israelites. They had sinned again. But Aaron, knowing God’s mercy as well as his anger, ran into the midst of the people and made atonement.
Is that not what Christ did for us? Is that not what we are called to do? To run into the midst of the people- stand between the living and the dead and cry out to God! His mercy is as vast as his judgment. His love encompasses all.

Deuteronomy 7:6“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.”
I love those words, “Special Treasure”. They bring to mind… priceless beauty, unfathomable value, tender love… all things that make one’s heart squeeze in affection. And that’s how God thinks of His people!

Joshua 23:14“Deep in your hearts you know that every promise from the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!”
Our faith isn’t in “idols” without ears or words or hearts. Our faith is in a god who speaks. Who hears. Who never fails. Every promise comes true. We can count on it. Doesn’t that truth make your heart dance?

Judges 6:15“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh and I am the least in my entire family.”
I serve a God who chooses the least. The weakest. Perhaps, then, He will use me… with all my scars, my still healing wounds, my pains, my stumbling blocks, my desperate thirst… my need for Him. And somehow, perhaps, I will be used to rescue a part of God’s Israel. Maybe, somewhere out there in the vastness of this world, there is a person who is scarred, wounded, in pain, stumbling around, dying of thirst… and, not despite my weakness- but through it, another child of the King will be carried into the kingdom- where they can finally quench their thirst by the side of the fountain of living water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On Healing.

I know that I have been terribly negligent on writing. My apologizes.

As of now, there are roughly six weeks left for us here in Haiti. Two weeks of that will be with a group that is coming the end of July. We are very excited about their coming! In the meantime, I am trying to move myself into the “going home” mode. Which, basically, means that one must start putting all the little things to memory. All those parts of life here that have become “matter a fact” but will not always be here to enjoy.

Now, as for other things. I have been meaning for some time to write out this “documentary” of my physical/spiritual journey from this time of my life. And yes, the physical and spiritual are connected. Strongly.

Since being here I have gone on three different fasts and the results of all have been very encouraging. The first was a vegetable only fast (when our garden was in high production) and I immediately began feeling better than I have in over a year. I dropped a couple pounds but more than that, my temperature (that I’ve been keeping for some time- to record my non-existent cycles and also to keep track of how my thyroid is functioning) went from the terribly low number of 96.5 or 6 to 96.7 or 8. Yes, still low, but going the right direction!

I also, at that point, began taking regularly- three different supplements. The first was “Female” by Dr. . Tastes like licorice, which I hate, but when it’s in a bit of juice, it’s not the end of the world. The second was vitamin B tablets and the third, about 5 kelp tablets. Before this, I had taken 1 a day- but suddenly realized: The bottle says one a day because that’s what most people need- I am extremely deficient in iodine. I should probably take more!

That fast lasted about 1 week. At which time, we made a trip to Les Cayes, where we stopped at a restaurant. At that point, I was still very shy in this society- and ended up ordering the only thing in English on the menu. A sandwich and French fries. A Haitian with us didn’t eat the rice and beans that came with his meal and I would have given anything to just have that. Mostly because just a little bit of all the grease on my plate (my husband finished everything for me) made my stomach cramp awfully. After that I tried to add in rice and beans on a semi-regular basis. Eventually, all gardens ceased producing and I could barely get enough vegetables to eat some once a day, let alone only vegetables. (There hadn’t been rain in about three months at that point)

About then I began feeling poorly again. I got cranky and depressed. So, after talking to my husband, I went on a cleansing fast. Which meant, I had tea, one smoothie a day (He didn’t want me getting too weak, so I made a banana smoothie with milk each morning) and a bowl of potassium broth (made with potato peelings, carrot peelings, onion, hot pepper and a bit of salt- then strained). I did this for three days. I felt wonderful. My temperature sky-rocketed to 97.5! And, of all things… I had a period. Spotty and abnormal, but the first one that my body had done without any medication in a year!

Something else happened during that fast: See, when you replace food with God’s word and with prayer…He usually meets you there. He’s not a god to be commanded about at will- but he IS a God that comes to help us in our weakness. I should also explain- before I began the fast, I was reading a book called “The Real Faith for Healing” and, honestly, I was having a hard time understanding it. The author talks some about the woman with the issue of blood, who touched Jesus’ robe and was healed. So, in my prayer journal, I wrote:

Jesus, my Jesus. I cannot go on without a touch from you. I cannot be the woman you created me to be without a touch. I need you, Jesus. Don’t pass me by. I am reaching out- stretching my fingers to touch even the hem of your robe. I will not eat food- I will cry out for you instead. Be my strength, be my nourishment- for you are what I desire above all. Nothing else is even worth looking at- all my dreams are but burned out ashes without you. Jesus, I say it again- please do not pass me by! Touch me!

And so began the fast! It only lasted for three days because by the third day- I understood. My biggest struggle was with the places in God’s word where he talks about healing. By my stripes you are healed. Yet, here I was, with this broken, un-functioning body! And I was asking for healing. Why do some receive and others don’t? Then came the revelation.

During my quiet time I tried to take extra time to just listen to God, as part of the fast. And the third day, he asked me a question. He said, “What do you think healing looks like to me?” And for awhile, I didn’t answer. I just meditated. If I was to stand before God- completely healed- what would it look like?

Now, this was a interesting twist! Not stand before a mirror. Not stand before another person. Stand before God. What would I look like?

That same day, I was down at the hospital and a lady came in with her twin babies. When we first came they were terribly mal-nourished, but good food had picked up their weight and their skin was returning to the nice soft baby skin that it should be. I sat for awhile on the hospital steps, just holding them. I didn’t have energy for a lot else! Now, mind you, every time we see these people, they offer us their kids. “Take to New York.” They tell us. We shake our heads and say, “Pa kabob.” (Can’t.) And, somehow, when I was there- holding babies whose parents would gladly give them away- and thinking about the fact that I might never have my own… it came to me.

If I was to stand before God, completely healed, what I look like? I would look whole.

I wouldn’t be staring down at empty arms, desperate for a child. I wouldn’t be depressed. I wouldn’t be confused. I wouldn’t feel like there was a part of me missing.

No, I would be standing straight, with my eyes, not on myself, but on the Christ. My heart would be overflowing with joy. My mind would be filled with thoughts of Him. I would be whole.

When God promised healing, he didn’t promise a perfectly functioning body. He didn’t! He promised wholeness. He was beaten and nailed upon a cross so that we didn’t have to live incomplete. This includes our spiritual bodies- that were dead and in him are alive. And also, our physical- that are so dependant on our surroundings for comfort and happiness, but in him can be joy-filled and whole DESPITE our surroundings.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that God still does miraculous healings- just like he did in the Bible. He is the same God- yesterday, today and forever. But I think that our “wholeness” doesn’t come from those miracles. For some, it does! For others- like, say, Joni Erickson Tada, wholeness came in the form of a ministry and passion. Our wholeness can come in many different ways. For some- with my physical trouble- wholeness may come in a job that uses their gifts and abilities to help others… or in a miraculous conception… or through adoption… or through a ministry. Our wholeness will look as different as we are from each other. Each person unique. Each person a separate entity in God’s eyes.

Now, if you were counting- you’ll see that only accounts for two of the fasts. The third I am doing right now. The reason: with all the gifts from back home of candy and snack foods… my body started acting strange again! I think I really am “allergic” (per say) to anything artificial. Flavorings. Sweeteners. Whatever. So, I decided to do another cleansing fast. This time, to hopefully set my body into a regulated diet that cuts out the things that are hurting it. The good part- it should be different this time. Because this time I’m NOT trying to eat certain foods to bring myself wholeness! I’m already whole. This is just because my body is a temple of the Lord, and I want to treat it right.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Crying Savior.

I’ve been reading through the Bible and there is something startling that happens when you read the scriptures all together. I’ve always said that the Old Testament shows us the heart of God and it has proven true again. There, in the words of the prophets, you hear God’s desperate plea. His constant war with his justice and his mercy and in the midst of them, his cry of pain. And there, in the pages, you can find- our broken hearted Savior. One so desperate for the salvation of His people, that he was willing to come to earth and bear their sin upon himself.

All of Jeremiah, I think, could be condensed to three words, “Return to me.” Except that, even then, perhaps you wouldn’t hear the anguished cry that comes pouring out of the pages… He wavers between saying, “You are unfaithful. You must be destroyed.” and saying, “You are my loved ones! You were made for me! Come back!” As I read through chapter upon chapter, I could see why Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet”, it is simply because he prophesied the words of a weeping God. In my mind I could see the King of all kneeling before the blood stained Israel saying, “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me; I cannot keep silent.” (ch. 4:19) “Why? Why have you left me? Why have you done this? Why won’t you turn back to me? I have to destroy you but if you would just come back then I could redeem you! I would forgive everything. But you keep on going, you keep searching for other gods. Why?”

Yet, even there, amidst his crying and declaration of judgment- he proclaims that he will still save them. At the end of every tyrant of anger and frustration the tone changes. His words soften and a promise to bring them back screams the name of Jesus through the dripping of his tears.

The mighty nation that God built up from one man, falls into a heap. Yet, still, he loves them. In fact, if you listen through the anger, through the tears, through the pain- you can hear the song of love that reigns supreme through all of scripture. “I love you. I chose you. You turned from me. You mocked me. You hated me. You became everything that I can never be. But I love you. I love you still. I want you. Return to me.”

In the past I have heard people judge the Old Testament severely. They can’t understand the wars and the battles; the fierce God that you find leading the Israelites to “totally destroy” towns and villages, women and children, every living thing. But I somehow doubt that they’ve read the words while looking for the heart of God. If we just had the New Testament- there would be so much that we wouldn’t understand! The beauty of Jesus is magnified by the Old Testament. The relief of a new covenant is only there because of the pressing burden of the old. And the Justice of God is just as present in his heart as the Mercy of God. In fact, without the justice- the mercy isn’t nearly as breathtakingly beautiful.

God knows each of us. He sees into our hearts. He understands the incredible pain that life can bring. If you are dealing with heart-wrenching pain, then I hope you’ll go search out the God of the Old Testament… the one that battled horrifying rejection and came out saying, “I have to punish you because I am just but because I love you, I will bear your punishment.”

And when there is nothing you can do but cry, go read the book of Jeremiah and let God cry with you. For all the pain on this earth is here because of our rejection of Him and he too has wept at the pain we will face because of it. And then, when you’re finished crying together- go read the story of the crucifixion and then as Jesus conquers death to bring us life- allow your heart to bury the death that caused your pain and look with joy into the face of the Savior who brings you new life.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Way of the Father

Yesterday was quite the day in La Colline, Haiti. It started off quiet enough. I woke up around six o’clock and by six thirty was serving my parents (who are visiting!) French toast and my husband- eggs (he’s not fond of French toast.). At 7:30 Melen came and said she needed to go to Fondeneg.
Amos and I spent an hour at the hospital, then left for Fondeneg with a truckload of people. Sara, Melen’s 2 year old daughter, was sleeping when we got there so we sent my parents off through the market with Melen and Amos and I stayed with the truck and the baby. She woke up promptly enough so we decided to go out wandering with her. We bought some little lime muffins, a container of dry milk (we were running low) and a package of chicken bullion cubes (a staple in the Haitian diet). Amos told me at one point that Sara could probably walk if I didn’t want to carry her but I told him that it had been so long since I’d just carried a little kid around… He just smiled at me and told me I was cute.
We were getting thirsty so we decided to try one of the bagged juices (they sell water and juice in little sealed plastic bags here) that we assumed was like Kool-Aid. It was more like syrup. And the orange tasted suspiciously like banana. So, being the kind people we are… we gave it to Sara and went in search of a nice normal not-so-sugary Sprite.
Not too long after that, everyone made it back from the market, Mom with a big smile and a, “Wow, there’s a lot of people.” And Papa with a shake of his head and a, “Well, there’s no shortage of food in this part of the country for sure.”
It was around noon when we arrived back at the mission. We took a nice quiet couple of hours to get lunch on (rice and beans and spicy meat sauce). I finished reading “God’s Smuggler” to everyone. Afterwards we decided to go work at Anna’s house. She is a widow who has six children, whose house burned a while ago. The mission built her a new house but she’s been having trouble with rats coming in- so we are putting up screen to keep the rats out.
The men went down first and Mom and I followed a little later (she had to practice violin and I hadn’t finished my Bible study for that day yet.). It’s a pretty walk to her house anyway. We were there probably an hour when Selina showed up. I greeted him and he greeted me back, but he didn’t smile. In fact, he seemed agitated.
“Kote Amos?” (Where’s Amos?) He asked. I told him that Amos was there, just on the other side of the house. We started around when he suddenly turned to me and in broken chopped sentences that were half Creole and half English (I think I would have understood a lot faster if he had just stuck to Creole) he told me that there were tons of people at our house and someone had Amos’s cell phone.
Oh! Did I tell you that a couple weeks ago Amos’s cell phone was stolen? Well, regardless, it was. It was frustrating mostly because we have a lot of numbers on it that we needed and also because Amos has bad hearing and the borrowed phone we have now is much quieter.
I turned to tell Mom what was up and Selina went on to talk to Amos. By the time I made it over there- Selina and run through his Creole/English explanation and Amos looked as confused as I had been at the beginning. Finally I broke in and told him to go back to the house because someone was there with his cell phone. They left and Mom and I stood there with the tools. After a bit we decided that I would walk up and see what was going on and would come back it a few minutes to let her know.
On my way up I passed a couple ladies. I had to laugh when they began talking about me. They said,
“There is the white girl.”
“She walks very fast.”
“Talk to her.”
“She doesn’t understand Creole.”
At which point, I spun around and smile at them and said, “I understand a little Creole!” They laughed and laughed.
I came around the corner of the hospital and could hear a lot of talking. There was a group on young guys standing by the gate, looking up toward our house. As I came up behind them, one of them spun around- seeming surprised to see me. He rattled off something in Creole and everyone stopped talking. All I caught from his rapid speech was “understands Creole”. (obviously that was a little exaggeration.)
I went through the crowd and up to the other crowd that was inside the compound. There, in the middle was Amos, looking at his cell phone. He handed it to someone else and went inside to get the box to compare the UPS code. I walked with him and he informed me that it was definitely our phone but they had changed the S.I.M. card and filled it with trashy pictures.
He went back out with the box and I stood there for a second and prayed.
When I came back out everyone was down by the gate. Later I found out what had happened. Antipa, the kid that was helping Amos prove the phone was his (although I’m pretty sure that his is the only phone like that in the La Colline valley) was comparing the number from the paper to the number scratched into the gate (never did figure out how that all conspired) and when he said, “Yes, this is Amos’s phone.” And went to hand it to Amos- several of the guys from the other side of the gate reached over and forced the phone away.
Amos, bewildered at this response, back away. The guys went after Antipa, who was still holding the battery (you have to take the battery out to get to the codes on the inside of the phone). He back away from them and then dropped the battery in Amos’s hands as he went by.
A guy came through the gate and demanded the battery from Amos. Now, Amos didn’t know what exactly had taken place- everyone was speaking so fast and all at once- but he did know that whoever had the phone wasn’t using it for anything good. So, he made a decision right then that he wouldn’t give them the battery. He said later that if it was just a case of someone wanting a classier cell phone- then, well, whatever. Let them have it. But if they’re using our phone to take pictures like the ones he caught a glimpse of, then, no, he wouldn’t give them the battery. (in Haiti, it almost impossible to get a replacement battery)
Well, I was standing right there and Amos handed me the box that was in his hands. The guy demanded the battery, again, and Amos said, again, “No.” So the guy went after it. Immediately, three or four hands closed over his. His friends, who were helping him. The guy tried desperately to pry the hands apart but Amos said that he couldn’t have let go if he wanted to- the others were holding his hand closed. He pulled everyone over to a tree where he could get leverage, then he twisted his arm up and out of the group. He walked away from the crowd, up to the house and then turned the battery over to someone else. He told him, “I can’t understand enough to figure out what’s happening. You hold on to this.” Then he went back out.

Right about then Melen came over and said she was calling the police. We were a little flabbergasted. But as soon as word got out that she was on the phone with the police (actually, the police weren’t there- she was just talking to Frisno, the hospital administrator) all the young guys dispersed.

Then it happened. Amos was sitting there talking to the guys who had helped him (who were now arguing with each other because they both thought it was the other’s fault that the phone got away) and one of them was holding a glass bottle- which he smashed. I’m pretty sure that if Amos had said, okay, they would have gone after the phone and fought until blood-shed. But he turned to each of them and said, “Okay, listen to me.” Then, carefully, in halting Creole, he said, “Do you know what I’m here? I’m here because Jesus loves me and Jesus loves you and Jesus loves everyone. I want my phone. I don’t want it used for the bad things it was used for. But it has no eternal value. People have eternal value.” Then he asked for the jagged edged bottle. The boy nodded and surrendered it.
Then, over and over- person after person- he got to say the same thing… “Jesus loves people. He died for us so that we can have eternal life.”
One man came up (news travels fast) and told Amos, “You are my friend. All the time you drive by my house and you smile and wave. You have joy. I know it is because of Jesus.” As far as we know- we’d never met him before. I remember seeing him but never meeting him.
One guy said, “I know that you do not give give give like we ask you to. But if someone needs then you give. You are our friend.”

Over and over. Person after person. “You are my friend, Amos.” And Amos saying, “Do you know why I’m here? I’m here because of Jesus….”

As we lay in bed last night, Amos turned to me and said, “Tasha, do you realize that since we got here I have tried and tried to tell people what I said today and they haven’t ever stopped to listen. There were a dozen times when I would have gladly given $200 American dollars (the cost of the phone) just to tell them about Jesus without forcing them to listen.”

And I thought, “Isn’t that just the way of the Father?”