Friday, February 26, 2010

Wedding plans and Remembering.

I've been busy this week helping my dear friend, Delite, plan for her wedding this summer. As a girl who made it to her mid-twenties without dating and used her time to minister to people rather than bemoan the fact that she didn't have a guy, she is walking into her marriage with a literal ARMY of supporters. Which, in turn, translates into a huge wedding party.

And I do mean huge. As in, there are 8 Maids/Matrons of Honor. When she first said that, I was a little shocked but then I looked at the list and realized that I wouldn't know who to cut either. She really has that many close intimate friends who have shared her journey.

We each have a "job" that we've taken under our wing so that Delite can relax and enjoy her enourmous wedding (500+ people) and mine, as everyone knew I would claim, is the children.

Following in my pattern, Delite has all her little girl cousins (who are more like nieces to her) and all her close friend's little girls (also like nieces to her) in her wedding. The grand total is 18.

The wedding is going to be BEAUTIFUL.

I am so excited... I love all the little ones. It makes a wedding so precious.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Losing it.

Yes, I'm joining! 10 weeks. For more information go here.

These are my plans:

1) Drink 1/2 gallon of water a day (Which is just two of my water-bottles full. Not unreasonable)

2) Do some type of excersise 6 days a week. Even if I only do 15 minutes. Just SOMETHING.

3) Juicing for 1 meal a day.

4) Drink unsweetened tea instead of coffee.

The goal is 20 pounds in 10 weeks. Very attainable. (And it will help me fit into my dress for Delite's wedding this summer!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


In preparing for our "Set-Apart Retreat" through Women of Promise I've been going through some harsh soul-searching. It's been... at the very mildest, excruciatingly painful.

I hate to admit it but it’s true. I’m afraid of being different. I’m afraid of not being loved. I’d almost be willing to trade my relationship with my God for the approval of my friends. I want them to want to be with me more than I want to be with my King.

Oh, Jesus! Forgive me. Forgive my selfishness. Forgive my agonizing failings that haunt me. Cleanse me. Wash away these desires for the approval of man and turn my gaze again to your throne. I need you. Far more than I need them.

I am willing, Lord. I am willing to be set-apart. I am willing to be separate from those I love. I will not love my family or friends more than I love you. I will not. I choose you. Again. I choose you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

splashes of color.

In all the battles of life there are moments when God suddenly appears with a splash of color, the arrival of fresh troups, and the cry of victory.

One of my "mentors" in the faith has been Amy Carmichael. She was my hero. The woman I wanted my life to resemble. God has used her and her writings over and over in my life.

I ended up living and working among the "shawlies" of my town because of her. (To read the story go here.)

My journals are filled with quotes from her.

"It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates"

"I wish thy way.
And when in me myself should rise,
and long for something otherwise,
Then Lord, take sword and spear
And slay."

"Can we follow the Savior far, who have no wound or scar?"

And for all my life, I had dreamed of someday being called "Amma" (Mother) by a child who was not my own, as she was by the hundreds she cared for in India. Not just that but a child who was empty and lost but found when I was able to speak the name of Jesus into their lives.

Light in darkness.

When I got married, I knew without a doubt that God had led me. I had been busy with mission work and had told God that if it was his desire for me to marry then he needed to drop a husband in my lap. Instead he gave me a prophetic dream. One that he later fulfilled through a man that I had apparently met several times but never remembered. (He says that I was elusive. I say that God was leading me. He laughs and agrees. Then we both thank God for his divine intervention!)

I thought for a long time that in God giving me marriage, I would be giving up other dreams.

Then it happened. Not in Haiti where my husband and I lived for most of our second year of marriage. Not with the kids that I used to work with. Instead with a boy that follows my husband around like a puppy dog. One who thinks that my husband is great. A fourteen year old boy who breaks things, is extra hyper, wouldn't look me in the eye for the first fifty times I saw him... this boy who talks trash but begs to be loved... this boy who calls me "Ma". He was joking when he said it. I joked with him. And the name stuck. And I cried myself to sleep.

"You can trust him to fulfill the desire which he creates." Amy said.

Splashes of color. Glimpses of Jesus in every day life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

life-altering moments

In life there are moments that define you. At times they are simple little things that perhaps, to an outsider, look irrelevant, unimportant, dismissive; but to you, they are live-altering.

I had one of those recently. It was a sentence that I saw. I doubt that I was supposed to have seen it. It wasn’t something that was written to me, nor was it something that necessarily regarded me. At least, no one pushed it toward me, offered it to me or even desired my eyes to touch it. Still, as my gaze flicked over the words, I knew they were about me and my heart died a little inside.

One short sentence placed me face to face with the selfish evilness in my heart. Not because it was directed at me but because it fit me. I knew it. No one had to tell me. It simply was. And my initial reaction was to crumble on my living room floor and cry my eyes out.

Not because I was hurt. Not because I was angry. Because I was sad. A deep abiding sadness that welled up and spilled out.

Oh, God, how did I get here?

My mind filtered back and the whole sordid tale came spilling to the surface in a combination of words and actions that flashed sporadically through my mind like a bad movie.

Why would anyone want to be friends with her?
She thinks she’s perfect but I know she’s not.
You hurt people all the time.
You never admit if you do something wrong.
When you talk about your life you just sound like you’ve got it all figured out.
I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to try anymore.

Still, this time, as the words swirled with the sighs of frustration, the tears and anger that I had faced, this time the effect was different. Possibly it was the last sentence that had entered the memories. No, not possibly. It was. That sentence over powered everything else.

Lord, I don’t feel safe with her.

My mind stopped at the words. Nothing else mattered any more. It didn’t mattered how hurt I had been. It didn’t matter how desperate I was for love. It didn’t matter how empty I felt all the time. Nor did it matter how many demons I faced day after day, longing for someone to help me fight them.

All that mattered is that I realized that I had been given the chance to be to someone else the person I was always longing to have… and I hadn’t even recognized the opportunity. And in not recognizing it, I had failed.

Words from all the books that I’ve read, and started to write, began to fill the memories.
She was the one we just enveloped. Loved her even though she ran away.
In her I found the friendship that filled the loneliness.
She took my hand and drew into the Father’s embrace.
Remembering my pain and not her own.

In my heart, my selfish evil heart, I had been longing someone to be all those things to me. I wanted to be enveloped with love. I wanted someone’s friendship to fill the loneliness in me. I wanted someone to take my hand and draw me into the embrace of the father. I wanted someone to remember my pain.
If the cry of my heart could have been put into words it would have sounded something like this…
Don’t forget me! Don’t forget that I have pain. I hurt! I hurt! Remember my pain! Someone, please, please… remember my pain.

The problem with this is simple. Well, there are two problems. The first, that all of those sentences begin with me. I want, I want, I want… The second problem was that I was desiring for someone else to do those things for me.

In that one split second of my gaze filtering across those words, I finally saw clearly. I was finally set free. I am not here to have someone be those things to me. I am here to be that to others.
My responses changed in that second.

Why would anyone want to be friends with her?
My response had been: I don’t know. I don’t know. Why would they? And then I crumbled into a hole of self-loathing and pain. And dreamed of someone coming to my rescue and saying, “You’re sweet and lovely and I want to be friends with you.” But that never happened and the words always hurt.
Now my response was: I’m not sure but I know why I want to be friends with you… I love listening to your thoughts and hearing your dreams. I love walking down the road with you walking beside me. I love laughing with you and sharing joys with you. So, even if you won’t want me around, I love being with you and you’re stuck with me.

She thinks she’s perfect but I know she’s not.
My response had been: I don’t think that! Why would I think that? You want me to list my faults to you? I know them better than anyone! I’ll list them for you. I’ll write a long list. Would it make you happy if I just dwelt on them? Whined about them? Wallowed in them?

Now my response was: Oh, no. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to communicate my struggles in a way that you understood. I struggle so often but I feel a need to keep them bound up inside. Forgive me, please, please, forgive me.

You hurt people all the time.
My response had been: I know! I know! Do you feel a need to rub it in? Do you think that I don’t go home and replay every conversation that I’ve ever had and cry myself to sleep over them? Don’t you realize that I abhor myself most of the time? Can’t you see that I just need a little grace? Just give me a little grace!

Now my response was: Oh, my dear. My sweet, sweet friend. Forgive me for hurting you. I can tell that my actions and words have left scars. Please, find it in your heart to forgive me. Together, perhaps we can put enough oil onto the scars to make them fade.

You never admit if you do something wrong.
My response had been: Of course I do! The only thought in my mind is there I screwed up again. I’m consumed by it, filled with it! Look a little deeper if you can’t figure it out! Honestly, I do everything wrong.
Now my response was: I hate to. I really hate to. And I’m sorry for that. I see it inside and I hate to say it aloud. It’s my protective instinct trying to cover myself. I’m working on that but in the meantime, don’t doubt for a minute that I see my faults. And forgive me for the wrong things that I’ve done that have touched you.

When you talk about your life you just sound like you’ve got it all figured out.
My response had been: I hate this. If I talk I’m in trouble for sounding like a “know it all” and if I’m silent I’m accused of “not sharing about life”. I can’t win. Maybe this one isn’t me. Maybe this is your own problem.

Now my response was: Help me. I don’t feel that way and I don’t want to sound that way. If there are certain things I am doing that cause that, help me see them. Pray with me. Seek God with me. Listen with me for his guidance of when to speak and when to be silent.

I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to try anymore.
My response had been: Overflowing pain. Hurt. Betrayal. And accusations inside- I would never do that to you. I would never ever just walk away from you. How dare you do this to me!
Now my response was: I’ll try. I’ll do it. Just please, don’t walk away. Hold on. I’m begging you to hold on for just a little while longer. I’ll figure it out for us. I’ll fight for us. I’ll find my sword. I’ll spend hours on my knees. Whatever I need to do. I’ll do it but please, please don’t give up yet. I’m coming, my darling, my friend, I’m coming…

And now, there was the newest one. The latest memory to be faced. I couldn’t go back and change my reaction to the old ones but now I had a chance to respond right the first time.

Lord, I don’t feel safe with her.

How was I going to respond? This time I started it right- on my knees. Jesus, change me from the inside out. Fix this miserable heart of mine and give me something new.

And His words came. Just like he promised they would. Envelope her. Love her even if she runs away. Give her your friendship. No matter what. Take her hand and lead her into my embrace. Remember her pain and not your own.

Jesus, keep working on me. Thank you for never giving up on me. Enveloping me in your love even when I was running away. Giving me your friendship to fill the loneliness inside me. For taking my hand and leading me into the Father’s embrace. For remembering my pain and not your own. For being to me everything that you are asking me to be to others.

Then, as I finished praying, I remembered the sentence from the book Redeeming Love. The sentence that caused my heart to catch when I read it. The greatest desire of my heart.

“They were so beautiful. It hurt to look at them. Light shining in darkness.”

Make me like this, Jesus. Make me like this.

And I realized that it is in these little life-altering moments that define me that I’m able to become the person that God intends me to be.