Category Archives: Guest Blogger

All in the Family

Standard

Isn’t the Family of God an amazing thing?  I find believers all around the world that have that same “click” in our hearts when we meet.  It’s the Spirit of God in me that recognizes the Spirit of God in you and there’s a “testifying” that we are from the same family.  Romans 8 talks about that special connection we have as members of the family of God.  (Read the whole chapter- the whole thing is amazing, but this is the part I’m talking about.)

Romans 8:14-17 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g]Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

When I first met my friend Courtenay at our school here in Costa Rica, my spirit testified that she was also a member of the family of God.  Others call that being “a kindred spirit”.  Yeah I do like her a lot as a friend, but more importantly, my heart is connected to her because we share the same Father.  She is the missionary that I wrote about yesterday who is just hoping to survive until December.  Do me a favor and click here to read her blog from last week where she talks about the realities of needing money while living on the mission field.  I think her honest description of how things look from our perspective is important.

Later on in the week I’m going to highlight some other missionaries so you can see just how far your missions dollars go.  Missionaries buy antibiotics for sick kids.  Missionaries buy cement blocks and toilets for poor families.  Missionaries buy tin roofs and build schools and plant gardens in poor communities.  These are the realities of where your monthly pledge is making a difference in people’s lives.  To you, it’s a small sacrifice.  To others it’s the difference between live and death for today.  Life is precarious and precious and something miraculous happened when we prayed for Courtenay.  You’ll just have to go to her blog to find out what it was.

Advertisements

Crazy Costa Rica Facts

Standard

Today I’m going to do something that I almost never do.  I’m going to shamelessly promote a friend’s blog.  Adam and Sarah Quinn are friends of ours who are raising their funds to come as missionaries to Costa Rica.  Hopefully they will be arriving next spring.  They have been coming down here on missions trips for ages, and the bug finally bit them, so to speak.  Anyhow, for the past 15 days or so they’ve been posting an interesting fact about Costa Rica on their blog once a day.  I thought those of you who are interested in travel and cross cultural adventures would be amused at some of the details that have captured their attention.  So scoot on over to Adam and Sarah Quinn’s blog and read their Crazy Costa Rica Facts… and feel free to send them a donation if you feel so inspired.  Tell them I sent you .  🙂  Chao!

The Insurmountable Debt

Standard

On Sunday night, my friend Jon shared this story with a group of missionaries gathered for our monthly English church service.  I have since then shared this verbally with 2 other missionary friends that I work with.  It was such an inspiring story of God’s faithfulness, that I asked Jon if I could share it today on my blog.  You can find the original post on his blog as well as read some of his other posts about living in Costa Rica here on Jon’s blog.

From August 3-12 my dad Ken Dahlager, my oldest son Jonathan, and I went to Cuba to participate in the sixth annual Assemblies of God Pastors’ Kids retreat. Our Costa Rica PK team helped start this ministry in 2008 and we have helped to make this event happen each year since. 500 young people participated in the 3 day event. The Lord’s presence was felt in every event, and we heard many stories of how God has used this ministry to change the direction of many young people, their families, and their churches.

We are still unpacking the many stories we heard in these amazing days, in a country where financial resources are very limited, but the Christians have incredible faith. This is one of those stories.

The young man in the photo below is Adriel, who is 19 years old and competes in the track-and-field event of hammer throw. As we were chatting one day he told me an amazing story. A year and a half ago his parents took out a $100 loan to buy 5 sheep and fatten them up to sell. All 5 got sick and died, leaving the family with a debt they had no way to pay off with their $20 a month salary. He said he had never asked anyone for money before, but he felt a special connection with me and asked if there was any way I could help. As missionaries we normally do not do cash help like this, as it can negatively impact our relationship with the people, but I told him I would think about it and give him an answer the next day.

I have been preaching a message from Matthew 18 about the man who was forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents, about 200,000 years worth of a worker’s salary, but who throttled his friend for a debt of 100 denari, or 100 days’ wages. Like the forgiven servant, I have received so much from God’s grace — perhaps it was my turn to help.

That night I felt the Lord speak to me to help Adriel, sensing that this was an act of faith the Lord was asking me to take. The next day he told me he was leaving the retreat early, since he got word that an aunt had died. I pulled him aside and told him the Lord had directed me to give him $100.

As soon as I did this, he put his strong hand on my shoulder and said “now let me tell you a story. When I was getting on the bus to come here, a little old man got on in front of me who had one arm cut off above the elbow. He didn’t have the 40 pesos (about $1.50) to pay, hoping the driver would let him on anyway. The driver was about to throw him off the bus when I felt God tell me that if I paid for the man, God would provide this week so my family could pay off their debt. I took out the only spending money I had for this retreat and paid it. Now you have fulfilled God’s promise to me.”

The crazy part is that we also have some huge financial needs this year, and I gave him the money sensing God wanted to provide for us as well. The first day I was back home I got emails telling me about special gifts that would pay for two major ministry events. This is a huge response immediately after I gave Adriel the $100, and I’m quite sure that God is big enough to provide for everything we need.

Insurmountable financial challenges are all relative – $1.50 for the old man on the bus, $100 for Adriel’s family, thousands for another. God is able to provide for all of them.

cuba-photo-adriel2

I love stories that build faith and inspire me to trust God more.  It does not matter if your insurmountable obstacle is a pebble or a boulder or a mountain, God is able to make a way for you.  Today I am praying for several missionary friends who are not sure they can survive until the end of this month or the end of the semester or the end of the year.  God is able.  If He can feed Elijah with ravens and the Children of Israel with Manna, then God can provide for your needs too.  Trust Him.

15 Ways to Pray for Your Missionaries

Standard

Last week on Facebook a friend of mine posted this and it’s just too good NOT to share!  (I take no credit for this whatsoever.)  This will help move your prayer life beyond the “Lord bless our missionaries” phase into something deeper and more meaningful for both you and the missionaries you pray for.  This is good stuff!

15 THINGS EVERY MISSIONARY NEEDS from WorldVenture

Specific guidelines to assist in praying for your missionary

Do you sometimes seem to “get stuck” when praying for missionaries? Are you frustrated because your prayers seem general or shallow? If so, here are some specific things you can pray for when you are interceding for missionaries.

1. Love for God

Overworked missionaries can become service-oriented rather than love-oriented. Pray that your missionaries’ love for the Lord will deepen, and that love for him will always be their prime motivation for service.

2. Love for Others

Yes, missionaries are human, and just like you, sometimes they have trouble showing love and respect to those “difficult to love” people-either their missionary coworkers or nationals. Pray that the Lord will make your missionaries’ love “increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

3. A Deeper Relationship with God

Missionaries’ schedules can become so packed that they might skip or skimp on their time with the Lord. Pray that your missionaries would follow Jesus’ example. It’s hard to imagine any missionary having a busier life that he did; yet he consistently sought out time alone to commune with his Father.

4. Spirit-Controlled Lives

Just like the rest of us, sometimes missionaries have a tendency to do the Lord’s work in their own energy and human ingenuity. Pray that all of your missionaries’ actions will be under the control, and by the power of, the Holy Spirit.

5. The Fruit of the Spirit

As you pray that your missionaries will be under the control of the Holy Spirit, pray that the fruit of the Spirit-the very beauty of Jesus-will be manifest in their lives.

6. Wisdom and Knowledge

Strong-willed missionaries often come into conflict when two or more of them have opposing viewpoints. Pray that missionaries will have the wisdom of God, which James describes as “first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

7. Courage

Imagine your missionaries making the same prayer request Paul did in Ephesians 6:19: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”

8. Receptive Hearts

Pray for divine providence, that the Lord will lead your missionaries to people whose hearts will be open to hearing and receiving the gospel message.

9. Disciples

Pray that your missionaries will experience the joy of leading others to salvation, and of “teaching them to obey everything [Christ] commanded” (Matthew 28:20).

10. Strong Faith

The apostles once made a direct request of Jesus: “Increase our faith!” Pray that your missionaries will have great faith that will lead them to ask great things of our Lord.

11. Steadfastness

Pray that your missionaries will follow Paul’s advice to the Corinthians: “Stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

12. Strong Family

Cross-cultural living can magnify even small family conflicts. Pray that members of missionary families will be drawn together, not torn apart, by living in a new culture.

13. Protection

Missionaries are prime targets of the enemy. Join Jesus in praying to the Father: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

14. Material Needs

Missionaries often face harsh living conditions, and may have to struggle to meet basic physical needs. Pray that the Lord will supply all their financial and material needs “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

15. Health and Strength

In today’s increasingly violent world, missionaries face not only sickness, they may also be victims of crime, civil unrest or political upheaval. Pray that the Lord will grant the measure of health and strength that will bring his greatest glory and the greatest good for the missionaries.

The next time you sit down to pray for your missionaries, use this list as a guide to help you pray specifically. And pray for your missionaries consistently. They need you, and the Lord needs you to help fulfill his Great Commission. Your prayers count!

How can anyone hold THIS all together?

Standard

A while ago I got an email from a friend of mine in Montana who wondered if I needed more ammo for my “Gross Mommy Stories”.   She sent me this tale of her own personal version of the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.  Seriously, under these conditions how could any mother be expected to hold it all together.  Don’t even mention being “Christ-like”  I’m sure Christ never had to clean up so many bodily fluids in one day.  So here’s Noelle’s family scene:

Gizelle got up fairly early this morning.  Mark just let her go out and watch some TV, but didn’t change her diaper.  When I got up almost 2 hourrs later, I found her in Addie’s room, and she was starting to take off her jammies.  She was taking them off because she had just peed through everything and it must’ve felt quite uncomfortable.  I couldn’t believe the puddle of urine on Addie’s carpet! Ugh!  (she’s been on an antibiotic for 10 days, so it smells SUPER gross!)  So, I got out the vinegar, towels, etc and spent quite a while cleaning carpet.

Next I watch Addie walk right into Gizelle’s cashew’s which are nicely placed on the floor in the middle of footpath (I just vacuumed, and washed that floor last night).  Sigh.

shoes2Then I took the kids on a long walk/ride/run.  Almost 2 hrs later,  we are finally on our street, when Ezekiel announces he has to use the restroom. Super, we’re almost home, so I tell him to go on ahead and use the restroom.  I dilly-dally and talk to our neighbors, then walk on home.  When I get home he’s outside playing, but he suddenly runs inside FAST.  A few minutes I go inside and see him in his room putting on different shorts.  Didn’t think much of it, because he loves to change into his swimsuit any chance he gets.  Then I go into the bathroom and see the pile of wet shorts, underwear and a HUGE puddle in the corner of the floor! I have no clue how he had that much in his bladder!!  Of course, I had also just scrubbed the bathrooms and the floors on my hands and knees last night as well.  Why didn’t he go straight home and nicely use the restroom!  I asked him about said mess and he said “I peed UP and it did that”… hmmm?  What does THAT mean?  (Please don’t laugh at that last comment, because he doesn’t deserve any mercy yet).

Next I take a quick shower because I want to go to Garden of Readin for a book signing for Janice Thompson.  It ends at 2pm, and it’s 12:54 when I get in the shower, so time to CRUISE!  I get out, get dressed and then work on getting everyone clothed.  I tell everyone to get in the car and get seat belts on.  Then notice Gizelle has a yucky, full diaper.  So I put her on the toilet and run to get her clothes.  I’m ready to go with only a few minutes to spare.  When I go out, I see that nobody is in the car with their seatbelts on.  

bubble-catcher_lCaleb’s driving the JEEP around and I tell him to stop now please.  He continues driving, so I tell him louder to “stop please!” Still ignores me, so I go tell him to go into him room.  I give him a swat for both disobedience with not getting in the car and not stopping the JEEP.  He’s already been disciplined today because he was being so unkind all day!  He stomps off and shoves his hand at the door in a huff,  Well, his height is a bit “wrong” for that screen door because when he pushed his hand hard into the door, his hand went right threw the glass!!!! He just broke our front door!  The door popped back at him since his hand went threw it and hit him on the face.  He got a little bloody nose!  So he was really crying hard (mostly scared about all the shattered glass around him)  No cuts on his hands or anything.  

In the end, I took all 4 kids with me because Mark needed to do some chain-sawing and thought it best to NOT be supervising kids while doing that.  With the way our day was going, I thought this was a VERY good idea.

spilt-tea-1_lSo, we made it to the book signing, then I took the kids to Safeway because we still have some Starbucks cards from Easter.  I thought it’d be fun to have a little drink and get a couple sandwiches for the kids to share since nobody really had lunch yet.  We get our drinks, then grab some sandwiches from the deli.  I tell them they can choose a box of fruit snacks.  So as we’re heading that way, Caleb drops his whole hot chocolate!! What a mess! Then Zekers promptly drops his cup into the mess too!  As I bend down to get his cup, my keys fly out of my purse into the puddle as well.  UGH!  So we humbly apologize to the nice lady who comes to clean up the mess, choose some fruit snacks, the go to the check-out.  Where AGAIN Ezekiel drops his hot chocolate.  He’s always quick to say “I didn’t spill ALL of it though!” (no he has a little more he can save to spill in the car)  I told the lady at check-out that I’ll try to hurry up and get us out of the store as fast as possible!

Addie had her own money with her, so I let her buy herself a little treat at Safeway.  When we get home, she was in the new room on the new rug.  She started jumping up and down on a dance-mat-type of thing, and proceeded to spill all the powder-sugar stuff from her candy on the new rug!  It sure smelled sweet in there!  So, I got to take out my lovely vacuum and clean up all the glass in the front entry and all Addie’s powdered sugar stuff in the rug.  

Just before dinner, I asked Addie to take all the toys off the dinner table.  She kept the book she was reading in her hand and tried to lift the huge pile of toys off the table.  It landed on her foot.  I hate it that I had so little empathy for that when she didn’t decide to put her book down first!  She was crying so hard and looking at me like “don’t you CARE!?!?”  ummm… I wish you would’ve put down your book first…

This is just the list of spills and drops today- there were so many more whines, disobediences, fights, and frustrating moments that I couldn’t even begin to write down… and thankfully I’ve mostly forgotten all of them already now that everyone’s in bed, clean after baths, and sleeping peacefully and sweetly. 

It feels so hard and exhausting trying to keep up and provide a comfortable, clean environment for our kids- not to mention a peaceful and happy home as well.  Wow, do I ever need the Lord’s grace and peace daily.  He’s so good and patient with me.  I never thought I’d have to ask forgiveness so much!  

Aren’t we so much like our own children in the house of God the Father?  We make messes, break things, disobey, bicker, whine, and basically act like… children.  Yet our Father God has infinite patience and forgiveness for our childish ways.  We love you Lord and thank you for your Grace.

 Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayani/2672808893/”>Rayani Melo</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kubina/185188456/”>Jeff Kubina</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/carowallis1/303633288/”>Caro Wallis</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Food/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Losing ourselves and loving it

Standard

It is time to revive a theme:  Gross Mommy stories.  Today’s horror story comes to you directly from the bowels of Costa Rica in the lovely town of Atenas.  Missionary friends of ours live out there with their brood of kids and their dog Lucy.  I hope your breakfast has already digested.  

This morning started out normally enough: early to rise, breakfast of homemade banana bread, the juiciest of pineapples, and yogurt (keep this menu in mind as I proceed). The kids had just finished clearing their morning dishes from the table, and Brody and Ashlyn had headed out to lounge in the hammock in the backyard till school started. I was at the sink washing dishes, which so happens to be a chore I don’t mind one bit.

As I watched the two littles perform their normal kid antics, I heard Ashlyn’s voice, full of shock, yell, “What’s Lucy doing?” I looked up and out the window above the sink to see Lucy squatting to accomplish her morning duty in the backyard. What I failed to miss at first glance was what Ashlyn’s sharp little eyes had spied. “Oh mom,” she screamed, “I’m going to throw up!”

I emptied my hands and leaned forward in an attempt to get a better look at what was so horrifying about Lucy’s very normal activity. It was then that I glimpsed it, the very non-typical neon green string, that was very much NOT a normal part of this normal dog activity. Within moments, Lucy seemed to finish up, and quickly began to jaunt away from the scene of the crime. As she did so, something stretched from her backside toward the ground. As her distance from the scene increased, so did the tension in the neon green string. Now taut, something attached to this green string jumped from the ground and slapped the unsuspecting Lucy on the haunches.

Commence the dry heaves and wretches that so often proceed an all out vomit fest…from both Brody and Ashlyn. As Lucy ran, helter skelter, to escape whatever was pursuing her and slapping her as she ran, Brody and Ashlyn came rushing toward the back door threatening to evacuate their stomachs. Ashlyn made it further than Brody, who ended up losing his just-eaten breakfast on the threshold of the back door. I heard Ashlyn make it around the corner into the hallway and it was there that I heard the tell tale splatters on the tile floor.

As I rushed to assist Brody at the back door, Lucy met me as she continued her attempted escape from the neon green assailant. And then the horror, oh the horror! The duet that met me on the threshold was the thing nightmares are made of. Brody, still in the midst of projectile vomiting, with Lucy standing beside him, soiled, neon green sticky frog glued to her side, string still trailing from somewhere deep inside.


It is worth mentioning that for the last few weeks I have had Proverbs 31:25 up on my fridge, as a constant reminder to myself, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (NIV).

Touché, Lord, for in that very moment I began laughing like never before. I was laughing so hard that big ol’ tears streamed down my face. Meanwhile the retching and vomiting continued in surround sound, Brody before me and Ashlyn behind. All the while Lucy tried to make a mad dash into the house to hide under the kitchen table.

I did all I knew to do in that moment. I shut the back doors. I shut the doors. And I laughed. Oh, did I ever laugh. The situation was unbelievable. Truly, truly, truly unfathomable. Oh if only I could have kept that door shut and not faced the reality of what awaited me on the other side: the clean up and the extrication of the stretchy green frog from the backside of our dog.

My one-day-a-week house helper snapped me from my reverie of insanity, having come running in alarm at what must have sounded like nothing short of pure pandemonium. I retold the story the best I could through giggles, snorts, and dripping eyes. You should have seen Liliana’s face. I saw shock, horror, alarm, hilarity, disgust, and a whole other gamut of emotions pass over her face as I spoke Spanish words I’ve yet to use together, recto (rectum), jugette elastico (elastic toy), pegado (stuck), and vomitando (vomiting). Sweet lady she is, she half-whispered that she would help. “No,” I told her, “no, this is my job.”

I’ll save you the details of untangling the stretchy poo-covered frog from Lucy’s long fur. I’ll also save you the details of the extraction of the string from her innards (suffice it to say that stretching, poo, and being slapped in the hand, rubber-band fashion, were involved). I’ll save you the details of the vomit clean up. I’ll save you the details of the smell. Lawdy, the smell!

Horrific as it all was, this is one story to remember. Epic in portion, outlandish in details, and like no other story I’ve ever heard. Indeed, “these are the days I’ll remember” (cue the 10,000 Maniacs song)!

You can read more of their crazy, wild adventures in missions and life over seas at Jennie’s blog “Losing ourselves and loving it”.

Broken Shells

Standard

Friends of mine from the other side of the world have been forced to abandon all their worldly possessions and leave a beloved country with a volatile and hostile government.  It was heart wrenching for them, not because of all the stuff they had to leave behind, but because they don’t know if they will ever be allowed to go back to the country where they left their hearts full of first love’s tenderness.  Though I’ve never had to flee a country, I related very deeply with a lot that my friend has to say about brokenness and keeping up the appearance of wholeness.  I wanted to share her blog with you today.  This is from The Overturfs: “Shells”.

One of my favorite things to do on the beach is find shells.  Often they tease me, a beautiful piece sticking out of the sand and I pick it up only to find it’s just a broken piece of what was once a beautiful shell.  In some places, where the tide hits the shore hard, the area is covered with bits and pieces of what were once beautiful, whole shells.

I would describe my past few months as feeling a bit like those shells.  With the illusion of a complete exterior, I can feel hypocritical. What if I am picked up, then everyone will see that I am just pretty in that one spot–but otherwise broken and even sometimes empty.  Crushing my “shell” has been everything from Arabic (a daily humbling!), to losing our vehicle and entire household in S*d., the very real possibility that we won’t be able to return to that country.  Learning our daughter needs surgery. The list goes on and really, not any one of these things has been so overwhelming in and of itself…’life’ is happening to every one of us!  The much greater issue is not what happens, but how we respond to the things that inevitably will.  We must be on our guard not to measure our struggles against anyone else’s or to judge them, for sometimes it is the smallest of things that can bring brokenness.

To be transparent, it is my frustration with the brokenness and the allure of keeping appearances, even/especially if it is only to myself (i.e. the shell is whole) which has been the struggle.  What happens when we just can’t do ‘x,y, and z’ and find ourselves so insufficient to the task?  I can’t do it, how wonderful that is.  I wish it hadn’t taken me the past couple of months to ‘wake up’ to the truths I know.  Brokenness, hiddenness, weakness…oh the joy of it!  How often we ‘know’ things but still resist His gifts to us because they don’t come in the form we anticipated or think they should.

In the book Practicing His Presence, Frank Laubach states:  ”If our destiny is to grow on and on and on, into some far more beautiful creatures than we are now, that means that we need to have the shells broken quite frequently so we can grow.”  Oh Father, break my shell.  Break it, and then break it over and over and over again.

I will, even if subconsciously, respond in some way to the events of each day.  Inviting Jesus into those moments, to filter them through His lens of purpose and eternity makes every single thing look different when we take the time to look, wait…listen.  Embracing brokenness.  Allowing Jesus to determine how he will be glorified in me.  Recognizing what He wants to do in any circumstance comes from knowing His heart.  Could it be that we will know His heart more fully as we experience it in our brokenness?

If so, let the tide come in, and let us frequently find ourselves in countless broken pieces upon the shore…if only we can know Him.

 

Beautiful Ugly Scars

Standard

This is a reblog from a blog I read regularly called Communicating Across Boundaries.  I connected with this on an emotional level because I too have a scar where cancer was cut out of me.  I also have scars on my tummy where babies pushed me beyond my physical limits.  I wouldn’t give a single one of them back in exchange for a tight, smooth stomach.  They are my badges of courage and war and love and sacrifice.

The wound did not heal well. Though it was small with only five stitches, it has healed into an angry red scar with jagged edges. By anyone’s assessment it isn’t pretty.

But to me this angry,red scar is beautiful. This ugly scar is a reminder to me every day that the biopsy was normal – it showed “no residual melanoma”.

Because I recently had the “M” word thrown at me – thrown in my face with a smile and a “you’ll probably be fine”. But is anyone fine when the word “malignant” enters their life? The “malignant” word was the first result of a biopsy of a mole. A  mole that seemed so small. So innocent. So benign.

Only it wasn’t. It was malignant.

And the second visit was to take more skin, find out if the melanoma had spread. It was this visit that produced the ugly scar. I saw the chunk of skin go into a small container, undoubtedly labeled with my name and the source of the tissue. Five stitches closed up the wound. The day the stitches came out was the day I heard the news that this mole had no residual malignancy. The bad tissue was gone, in it’s place an ugly scar.

So this ugly scar is beautiful. Like the scar on the woman’s face that makes her appear slightly deformed – beautiful because it is a survival scar from a fire that could have killed her. Instead every day her husband kisses that scar with all the love a human can possibly feel. Like the scar along the leg of the gentleman, for without it he would have been in the grave six years now. Rather, that angry, ugly scar is a beautiful war wound of survival. Like the ‘bikini’ scar low on a woman’s stomach, a scar that ensured a baby would be born healthy, not deprived of oxygen.

My scar is going to grow in size. They didn’t get enough tissue, and they want to do all they can to make sure the ‘M’ word is gone from my body. It will be long, and red, and initially painful, and beautiful ugly.

And as I lay waiting for a surgeon to look at my skin, to assess that ugly scar, to determine just how much longer and more ugly it needs to be, it comes to me, almost like a physical punch: I can enter eternity because of angry, red scars.

Ugly, brutal, angry, red scars on the hands and feet of the Saviour; the ugly become beautiful offering me a hope. an everyday wonder of grace, an eternity of God.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
    and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

 

Did Jesus say, “Change your neighbor as yourself”?

Standard

A Friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page as her status update one day:

“I have quite a diverse group of friends on my Facebook….many of whom believe and behave very differently than me. I have friends who are adulterers, at least one murderer, a rapist, an assorted atheist or two, a whole slew of gossips and slanderers, several liars, a couple exotic dancers, porno models and porno readers, gun lovers and gun haters, gays and lesbians, and more whiners than I can count.

Someone recently chastised me a little about this.

As gently as I could I pointed out that Jesus didn’t say “Change your neighbor as yourself.” He said “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

My job is to love people….it’s God’s job to change people. He’s welcome to start with me because I have my place in that list, too. How am I going to love someone if I will not learn how to be their friend…even on something as simple as facebook?

Here’s something I’ve learned from reading the status updates from all my friends no matter where they are in life: we all have emotions, we all get sick, we have jobs that make us a little crazy, we long for relationships, we have families we are trying to figure out, and we want a better future. I’d say we have enough in common to be able to get along and love each other.

May God help me to love the people that He loves…and, yes, to be friends. And I pray that I can love people enough that they feel safe to ask me the hard questions of life and that maybe, together, we can search out those answers that might lead to the change process that only HE can do.”

Did I mention that she’s a pastor’s wife?

I admit that my list of Facebook friends is a little more sterile than hers.  But I admire her heart and spirit and spunk.  She says strong things in a loving way.  This is a lesson that I am constantly trying to learn for myself.  I think this is the core of Grace.

Still I Rise- by Maya Angelou

Standard

Today feels like a Maya Angelou poem.  This poem makes me feel spicy and sassy, just like a good Friday should be.  Enjoy!

Still I Rise– by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.