Thursday, April 24, 2014

The 'THENS' of Life

You know most of you reading this(myself included) knew a relatively charmed childhood.  For me I was built in a house where love was being learned and taught and felt.. where God was declared and believed.  The house sat there in the middle of green miles that seemed to stretch endless.  My days were filled with grass beneath bare feet, sun kissing pink cheeks, little legs trying to keep up with brothers off creating a new adventures. Three times a day we were beckoned from our play and chores to a sit and share and love around a feast laid before us.  There was a father and mother learning grace and love and by a strength not their own they passed it on to the brothers and I.  There was time and words, discipline and fun, poured forth over and into us.  Then as the sun said goodbye to another day there was the fathers voice reading from That Book and there were the prayers and kisses as we climbed the stairs and were tucked in to bed by those work worn hands. As a little girl it was thought that this life I was living was the norm.  It was not until I had grown a bit older that the world showed me that this life I had known was rare and special.
And so as we grow and see, and the world lays hold of our childlike innocence we are left with a lot of wondering.  We grow hearing and reading that, God, He is sovereign!  But when you look into eyes and hands reaching out for nourishment, and when you hear of the fists flying, and you see the young girls facing grown men and their twisted propositions.... a soul and mind like mine raised knowing the "charmed" is left wondering. And so God in His mind blowing faithfulness, as we read and seek, His quells the questions.  And we read and our soul hears:
"They wandered in the desert in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty their souls fainted in them. THEN they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their troubles.  ....Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down and their was none to help. THEN they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. .....Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.  Their souls abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. THEN they called out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. ....Their soul melts because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end. THEN they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. "
Psalm 107:4-6,12-13,17-19,26-28
And as we read the fog is lifted and we begin to see... we see Him... once again coming face to face with the fact that His hand is in it all.  Sometimes it seems to takes many encounters with a truth for a soul to grasp it.  But He stays there, ever faithful.. showing again and again.  Calling the wondering mind to come and see and KNOW.  And so slowly the seed finds ground and goes deep and begins to take root.  And as it grows so do we! And our minds and hearts find that allusive answer and the result is praise and thanksgiving and peace.  Understanding that the "THENS" in life are all there for a purpose.. bringing us to the place where we call on The Rescuer, The Savior.. doesn't mean that the pain caused by hearing the stories and seeing the faces goes away.  But it gives such strength to the soul.  KNOWING that He is in control.  Knowing that every circumstance every situation is perfect... drawing us, leading us, sometimes it seems 'throwing' us to His feet.  It doesn't cease the flow of empathy but it does fill us with words that can bring life.  There is a time for sitting and listening and holding... that is important.  But then comes the time for reaching out with prayers and words and hands and lifting the weary arms and tongues to join you in the giving of thanks.  Thanks for the freeing understanding that it is all for our good and His glory.  And when we learn this art of thanks for the 'THENS" in life... well then, we can declare with lips washed white as snow.. "any life... any where that means MORE of Christ!"
So as we watch God raise the sun over this city with each new day and as we walk out and encounter the things that it holds we are learning to walk and talk and see differently.  We are learning how to speak LIFE... we no longer have to cower behind our wondering but we are learning to embrace the 'THENS" and encourage others to join us.  We don't have to hang our heads and look up and ask why... He has told us.  It can be a slippery seed to grasp at first.. but we are trusting Him, in His strength, to grab it and plant it deep. 
This lesson has been proven to be so timely as we are now becoming involved in a program for teenagers.  The things that you hear and are made aware of are sometimes shocking.. the things that some young boys and girls are facing are so far removed from anything I could have ever imagined at such a tender age. When divided and asked to do a skit we sat there and watched as the two dramas unfolded... and realized what it is we are dealing with.  Ten to fourteen year old youths doing skits on sex and witchcraft.  And I cling tighter to that truth.. and tighter to my Savior, Strength, and Hope praying that He will become the same to them! That they will be able to read Psalm 107 and declare amen as there souls digest verse 43.....
"Whoever is wise will observe these things (the "THENS" of life), and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord."
To think that all of this that they face.. and all that we face... that it helps us know His lovingkindness..
.....and just maybe it IS His lovingkindness!!!

We will be having a week long conference for them this coming week and would appreciate your prayer! We are excited to see what God does!

We have been so overwhelmed with the support that we have received... thank you seems so weak.  But we declare it daily.. and know that God hears and see's your deeds done in secret and will reward you!! Thank you and as always we pray.. that God may be glorified.. and may souls be called.. and may His words be declared.. and may Life be found!

Friday, April 4, 2014

To Give Thanks!

 “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!  Glory in His holy name, Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face forevermore.”  Psalm 105:1-4
As I sit down to attempt to put these past weeks into words these verses are on my mind.  To give thanksto make known His deedsTo sing to Him and talk of His wondrous works.  And my prayer is that in the end it will cause us all to seek Him to glory in Him and His name!
Life has this awesome way of showing you who you really are… It is like some circumstances are these big mirrors and you can’t step away.  You are forced to just stand there and see yourself for who you really are.  And at that point there are two options.. either one can stand there and let the waters of despair rise as you continue to stare at your lack.. OR you can choose to turn and stare at perfect strength and grace sufficient found in the person of Jesus Christ.   And you realize that the lack.. that you were just moments before trembling before is actually something to embrace.  Because if you had looked inside of yourself and thought there was strength enough that you could muster up then you would never have found that in Jesus.  And so these past two weeks we praise God for the numerous opportunities we have had to embrace our total lack and find Jesus completely sufficient.  It is one thing to read and have the knowledge that He will always provide and will never leave your nor forsake you.  But when God through life situations takes you to the place where you know that because you have experienced it…. THAT is a whole different thing. It is completely amazing…  this endless frontier never fails to provide new growth and adventure with each horizon. It leaves us with lips dripping with thanks and hearts near to exploding with gratitude to the King of the Universe. 
Saturdays at the hall where we do the feeding program it can be quite rambunctious.  Kids running and jumping and falling and skipping and laughing and crying as the dust swirls ‘round.  Two weeks ago some boys were playing on top of a water drum when one took a tumble.  After all was said and done he was left laying in his hospital bed awaiting surgery the next day.   Bernard is a real fighter…  He was brave and strong.  Yesterday he stopped by bringing the receipts from his check-up… he is all smiles and learning to live life as a lefty.  He stayed at the hospital for 4 days.  When we would visit his one request was always to ride the elevators.  The shiny doors would slide open and he would walk in with wide eyed delight.. pushing the buttons like a pro!  He was glad to come home but did enjoy his stay! A big bed.. a flat screen T.V. and three meals a day.  He was treated like a king! 
For those few days we were kept quite busy between hospital visits and trips to Immigrations to finish up our work permit process.  We want to praise God and tell you with a thankful sigh that we now both have them.  Chami received hers just hours before we headed to the airport so she could catch a flight home to surprise her family.  Certainly she wouldn’t have been flying home had we known all that would have been happening… but God knew all along.. He surely works in mysterious ways!!
The following weekend found me and some friends at a different clinic with a small a baby in need of some medical attention.  I met him down at the school/baby-care that we frequently visit.  He was acting a bit weak and I knew that he was under weight so I just wanted to take him for a check-up. I am no medical expert but I could tell that he was not as he ought to be.  As we were in the matatu I shook my head and thought “here we go again..” taking someone’s child to the doctor… praying that God would work it all out.  I had only been with the baby for one day… we had only gotten permission from the teacher at the school… the mother was oblivious to it all as she sat in school.  It turned out to be a very good thing that we went.  He was in serious need of fluids…  the doctor get him hooked up as fast as he could.  I had to leave him there sleeping under the watch of two dear friends while I went back down to the slum to wait for his mom.  She is in 9
th grade and so I had to wait for her to get out of classes. Two hours later we were finally on our way back to collect the little bundle.  Yesterday he was here at the house and doing much better! He is 10 months old.. weighs 11 pounds… and has the sweetest smile in the world.  By Gods grace we hope to help him grow in strength and the knowledge of his Maker!  It seems I will have the awesome privilege of caring for him while his mom is at school.. needless to say I am just a tad bit excited!! J I am sure there will be more than enough photos taken to keep you updated!
Oh and also… NEW house! I’m beginning to feel a bit like a nomad... 3 homes in 6 months.  The dear moving guys are getting some good business from us.  It feels kind of strange to load all of your earthly belongings on a cart and watch it be paraded through the streets... past the shops and the people walking and working.  I should have taken a picture… they don’t mess around… it is stacked and packed to capacity!  After it was all unloaded, the house was cleaned, and the curtains hung I sat down and thanked God that once again He provided the perfect place in the perfect timing.  … Just like we knew He would!  One thing is for sure.. we have been blessed with some of the most incredible friends one could ask for.. we have it good indeed!  Now there are new neighbors, new kiddos, new shops and a fresh adventure!!
So that is some of what has been happening in the past two weeks. 
We are changed.
 We are thankful. 
Thankful for the prayers that have been poured out on our behalf. Thankful for the support that we have received.  Thankful for the body of Christ that remains connected across the miles.  Thankful for human weakness and Divine strength.  Thankful for sickness, and lack, and all of the things we face in this world that drive us to Christ!!
Isn’t He good!!!

Some of the young ladies we are doing the bible study with.

 The baby with his new friend!
 cutest ever!!!