Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Beloved

Linking up for Five Minute Friday again. Five minutes of writing, straight from the heart. Go.

"I bet you didn't picture yourself here nine Valentine's Days ago, huh?" He asked me with a smirk and a flirt in his eyes. 

"No, I absolutely didn't. No one warned me," I say with a wink, returning the playfulness. 

It is probably better that way--that we don't know what the future holds. 

I imagine that if someone would have laid out the past nine years in front of me when I was just 17 years old I probably would have run in the opposite direction. 

Because this journey has to be slow, one faithful step at a time. This growing has to take time. No one can drink from a fire hydrant. 

Now we sit together on a tiny sofa, barely big enough for the two of us, with two--yes, two!--kiddos fast asleep in our tiny apartment here in the middle of Recife, Brazil. Just four weeks from now we will once again pack up our possessions and move, this time to the Jungle where our hearts have resided for over four years now. 

And my heart is full. 

If I had seen this nine years ago, I probably would have been scared. But to say "no"…. I would have missed out on so very much. 

"Thanks for walking this journey with me," he says. 

I smile. 

How could I not? What's better than an adventurous life with my love, serving my Beloved?

Let's do this thing.

Me and Richard on our very first trip to the Amazon, April 2009. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Praying Bold

We are praying bold these days.

After Richard's most recent trip, we don't have a choice.

The needs are tremendous. The potential is unbelievable. The passion is overwhelming.

Our hands are empty and our hearts are full as we ask God to move in hearts, provide for needs, 
glorify His Name.

We ask Him to do what only He can--perform miracles.

Will you join us in this prayer? 

Will you join us as we ask God to make His name known in some of the darkest regions on the planet where His name has never been mentioned?

Some of Marcos' disciples

These boys traveled six days just like this to carry the Good News to their people.

"The prayer of a righteous person has 
great power as it is working."
James 5.16b

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pray Small, Too

Sometimes, when I pray and get the answer I'm hoping for, I tell myself it was a coincidence.

Lame, I know.

Why pray if, when it's answered, you write it off, right?

Here's an example:

About a month ago, Richard was on a trip to the Jung|e and I was at a beach house here in Brazil--suffering for Jesus--with some new friends.

One night, I was particularly tired. Elliott had been extra, shall we say, "passionate" that day and Raegan, while a very good baby, was still waking up during the night for feedings.

It was about 2am and I had just laid Raegan back down to sleep when.... she got the hiccups.

This may not seem like a big deal, but I knew from experience that these would keep her awake for at least 15 minutes and then I'd likely have to bounce her back to sleep for another 15 or so.

At 2am, that's just not on my things-I'm-excited-to-do list.

So, I prayed. As petty as it seemed, I prayed. Something like, "Lord, please--PLEASE--make these hiccups go away so I can sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep."

[There was admittedly some desperation sprinkled in there.]

What's funny? Before I had finished praying, the hiccups where gone and she was out like a light. Slept the rest of the night, too.

Again, may not seem like a biggie, but when this baby girl gets hiccups, they last a good 10-15 minutes. This had been less than a minute. That has never happened before.

Even in my foggy brain so early in the morning, I thought, "Really? Just like that, they're gone? Must've been a coincidence." And then I slipped off into dreamland.

The next morning, I remembered the incident and thought through it again.

Was it a coincidence? Does God really care if I get sleep? Aren't there more important things He has to deal with like the teenage girl who gave birth to a baby and had nothing for her that I had heard about earlier that same day? God is so much bigger than my sleep deprivation issues! Coincidence it was.

Then a thought hit me:

I'm not magnifying God by thinking He doesn't care about the little things in my life. I'm actually making Him very, very small.

Here's what I mean:

If God isn't big enough to care about the details of my life, how big does an issue have to be for Him to care about it? And does God have to divide up His "time" to make sure the "most important" things are taken care of in the world first?

Yes, I need sleep to survive... but there was a girl who gave birth to a baby and had nothing for her.

Yes, it was hard for this girl to give birth with nothing... but there are children starving around the world.

Yes, there are children starving around the world... but there are also children being sold as sex slaves.

So, how does God prioritize what He cares about?

What I'm saying is this: 

We serve such a BIG God that He can care about the seemingly insignificant things in my life, while simultaneously taking care of the needs of the dying, destitute, lonely, hungry, hurting, tired, lost, and broken all around the world.

He doesn't have to prioritize. He can meet all of our needs, all the time, in the best way possible.

He's GOD!

At the same time, God is not a genie in a bottle. I certainly don't think that He answers all of our prayers just how we want them. Trust me, if that were true I would get a full night's sleep every night!

He just loves us so personally and intimately that He can and does in fact take the time to listen to our "little" prayers.

Of course there are needs much greater in this world than my sleep. I could list a million of them right here!

But the point is we serve a BIG God. He loves us. He knows our needs. He hears our prayers. He knows the number of hairs on our head for goodness sake (Matthew 10.30)!

So now I find myself praying more detailed prayers. Things that, before I would have written off as "unimportant", I pray them. Because I know that, even though they may not be answered the way I would like, I have a Father in Heaven who is listening (Ps 145.18) and loves me because I am His child (Ephesians 1.5-6), created in His image (Gen 1.27) for His glory (1 Cor 10.31), and He will answer them according to His perfect plan (Rom 8.28).

Who knows? Maybe He answers my "small" prayer for rest to use me to answer someone else's prayer for a listening ear from someone who is fully engaged (hard to do when you're exhausted!)

There's a much bigger plan at play here. 

Let's remember how big God is and pray accordingly.

"Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond ALL that we ask or think according to the power that works in us--to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3.20-21 (emphasis mine)

Five Minute Friday: Bare

Joining up with Lisa Jo Baker on Five Minute Friday to simply write, unscripted for five minutes on a simple word. This week: bare.

In this world of fa├žades and masks, I try to live bare.

I don't do it because I like it. It's hard to live fully exposed. It's hard to admit my struggles, doubts, fears, failures as a wife, mom, missionary.

It's safe behind a mask of good. 

Good Christian. Good wife. Good mom.

But the world has enough masks. There are plenty of Christians trying to make this thing look easy so that they can pridefully impress the world. 

I know. I've been there. 

But being bare is where it's at. Exposing our fears and failures because that's when Christ is glorified. That's when His light shines bright and the world sees hope and help for their hopelessness and helplessness.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." -2 Corinthians 12.9

So even when it's hard, I write unscripted. I allow my heart to be bare because that's what I need. That's what the world needs to see. That there isn't a standard to meet because Christ already met it. And we are free indeed. 

It is my duty to be transparent if I want the world to know the hope that I know. 

So while so many paint on their smile and hide behind that checklist Christianity, I choose to be bare so that others can see that this thing called Christianity isn't about a set of rules. It's about a God who became bare on a cross so that we could be free to glorify Him despite our weakness.

That's where true hope lives. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

Today, I am joining Lisa-Jo and others for the 5 Minute Friday where we are given a word prompt and write for just 5 minutes simply for the joy of writing. No editing or backtracking necessary. No need to be perfect. Just words freely flowing from the heart.

Sometimes, I'm afraid.

There. I said it. 

Yes, even "bold, brave missionaries" can be afraid. 

I'm afraid of the malaria and yellow fever and dengue. It can strike my children, my husband, me. I'm afraid of those snakes with venom filled teeth and that river current that's so strong. 

It seems like in the Jungle we are more vulnerable some how. That death and hurt and sickness are more prevalent and lurking about. 

Is it so, though? God says not to be afraid (Isaiah 41.10). And I know in my heart that the fact of the matter is nothing will happen to us outside of His divine will for our lives and that everything He allows is indeed for our good and His glory. (Romans 8.28)

And I should be good with that.

But when I hold this warm little girl on my chest and my big boy declares proudly, "Mama, did you see that cool trick?!" as he jumps from the bed again in triumph, I can't help be fight fear that I could lose them. So, yes I, too, am afraid sometimes.

But I remember that God is good. That His plans are good. That His mercies endure forever.

I don't have to be afraid because He has conquered fear. 

And I am never safer than I am when I am right in the middle of his will for my life. 

So when the fear creeps in about the "what if" this and "what if" that, I choose faith instead. 

Faith in His goodness. Faith in His timing. Faith in Him.

It's much more peaceful here. Because fear is not of God. (2Timothy 1.7)

And I don't pray that we will be safe. I pray that we will trust Him.

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