Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Team is Safely Home

Just don't give up trying to do what you want to do. Where there is love and inspiration,I don't think you can go wrong.
- Ella Fitzgerald

The Kenyan mission team arrived home safe and sound on Friday afternoon. However, I don't think that I am risking exaggeration by saying that a part of our hearts are still in Kenya!

Some of the team members did become ill during the mission but, except for an exhaustion that often accompanies hard work done well, everyone recovered before departing for home. This was a special team and we felt God's presence throughout the mission in a special and even intimate way. We all feel that we received so much more than we gave!

Now we must process all that we experienced and seek God's leading for the future. As we do that in the coming weeks and months I will be sharing some of the amazing stories from our trip. On behalf of the entire team I want to express our heart-felt appreciation for the many prayers that covered our every step. With your prayers came a confident peace as we reached out to the precious Kenyans that God brought to us each day.

God is opening doors in Kenya for Touching Lives and as He does it is my joy to pass on all that He has planned for us with each of you who are supporting our ministry! I am certain that I will be sharing opportunities for you to become actively involved in what God is doing through TLM both here in the United States and in Kenya!

I do want to thank my clever husband for keeping everyone updated through this News/blog. He took the little bit of information I could text to him each day and turned it into a full update. Thank you, sweetheart!

And I want to thank each of you for coming along with us on this blessed journey. Fasten your seat belts the adventure is just beginning!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tired of or challenged by?

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I recently had an eye-opening discussion with someone who "has it all," at least by the world's standards. As I listened I heard concern, fear, frustration, anger, and helplessness in regard to the state of our world. But what captured me was that I saw each of those things in his eyes. I could almost touch the hopeless resignation before me. And my heart broke.

It was recently pointed out to me, through the vehicle of Mark Batterson's new book, Primal, that Jesus' admonition to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sould and with all your mind and with all you strength (Mark 12:30) begins with the heart. Jesus does not instruction us to love Him with our mind first. No, that is called science. He asks us to love Him first with our heart. That's called compassion.

And so I am faced with the next step in my journey to love like Jesus loves. And like so often in the past I am confronted by questions. Am I going to continue to look around or through the people I see every day or am I going to begin to see them with eyes of compassion? Am I tired of or challenged by their struggles, fears, and failures? Am I going to love like Jesus loves? Am I?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One of the "Hard to Love"

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe
Hebrews 11:31

I am Rahab...the harlot. It's not fair, but that is how I'm known. Or maybe it is fair. At any rate, it's certainly is not accurate - anymore. It just seems that some "titles" are hard to shake off. Actually, I've gotten used to it and it even makes me smile. But forgive me, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Let me tell you my story and hopefully it will make you smile too.

I live in the town of Jericho. It's a very small town made up of only ten acres of land but it is important to Joshua, the Israelite, partially because it's the home of a wonderful, perennial spring flowing with life-giving water. It also controls the northern road in the Jordan Valley that leads to the popular trade city of Beth-San. Oh, but the most important thing about Jericho is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promised to give this city to His children, the Israelites.

Everyone in Jericho had heard many stories about Joshua's God. And in time it became obvious to me that this God loves outrageously. Get this, He even loves me! I'm not sure I'll ever understand it but it has changed me! I left my former "career" and began to follow this God that they call Yahweh.

Then one day I opened my door to two young men. They told me that Joshua sent them to Jericho to spy out the land that they were preparing to take over and they needed refuge. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! God had sent them to me! He not only loves me, He trusts me. Really? Me? The only thing I could say was, "I am willing!"

The young men at my door, however, did not share my enthusiasm over the Lord's choice of accommodations for them! But that was only natural, they didn't know me like God knows me! Although I did win them over when I hid them on my roof under piles of flax and told the king's soldiers that my Jewish visitors had already left Jericho. I suggested that if they hurried they might be able to catch the two foreigners. My guests were so impressed with my willingness to protect them that before they left my home (in the opposite direction of the soldiers, of course) they promised to do the same for me and my entire family when they returned. And they were true to their word!

So you see, I am Rahab, the harlot. No, actually I am Rahab, the loved and forgiven harlot. And that makes me smile!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Day For All Moms

Motherhood is priced of God, at price no man may dare to
lessen or misunderstand.
-Helen Hunt Jackson

Whether your "baby" is young or old, on earth or in heaven, a child you bore or that of another, or a child waiting for the day of their arrival on earth, my prayer for this day is that you and your child would have a renewed awareness and celebration of the precious and eternal gift that is motherhood.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The "Act Like It" Phase

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will go strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

My last "break through" lesson in love was that God loves me. His love is unconditional, safe, and...permanent. The resulting challenge (God loves to challenge and stretch His kids!) was that I should live and love as though I am the recipient of the literally outrageous love of the Creator of the Universe. This is the "lab" part of my Love 101 course. This is where I apply what I've learned practically. I like to call it the "act like it" phase of my learning. The interesting thing is that, in this lab, I am studying myself as much as I am studying love.

What's that? You want to know what I've learned? I was really afraid you were going to ask! Well, the short version is that I've learned that I am a wimp! I am short-sighted, I am easily distracted, and I am self-focused. Hey, come on, you asked! BUT...I am also learning over and over on a daily basis, that I have an incredible Abba Daddy who is always willing to forgive and never willing to give up on me.

And although I am not setting any world's records in regard to how quickly I'm learning, I am finding that when I become distracted by my own fragile ego it is taking less time to re-focus and "hear" the Holy Spirit's still, small voice. And His voice always says, "Focus on Me, my daughter. Remember that I love you - always. And I will help you see those you are struggling with through My eyes. Sweetheart, I love them like I love you and I want you to love them the way I do."

Do I need to be loved by the people I love? Yes, the plain truth is that I do need some of them to love me. We all do, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. That is the way God wired us. But because of the safety and security in Jesus' love for me, I can love people who don't love me back. Some days when my focus is more on myself than Jesus it can feel brutal. At other times I am filled with a longing, a literal ache, for the "hard to love" people in my life to realize and embrace the intensity of God's love for them. On those days God's Spirit whispers to my spirit, "Now you are learning what real love looks like."

"Still the prayer I had prayed nearly every day for over a decade remained: Jesus, let me love with Your love and see with Your eyes. Show me what it means to be the expression of Your heart to those around me. Because I knew more than ever that His love did indeed have a face: mine."
Michelle Perry from Love Has A Face

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Psalm 3:5

So, I took the concept of loving people, especially those who are not particularly interested in me or my love, with an eternal perspective to heart and tried to put it into practice. And it worked...for about five minutes! That's about how long it took for those old feelings of hurt and bitterness to sneak back up to the surface. Oh, I would refocus on God and His love for them only to find myself saying, "Hey, what about me?"

"What about you, My daughter?"
"I want to be loved too. I want love to be safe."
"I do love you. You are safe with Me"
"I know."
"Do you really? Do you value My love? Do you trust My love?"
"Well...yes, of course I do."
"Then you are safe. Now I'm asking you to live and love like you believe it."

Ouch! Loving the hard to love is more about me and God than it is the person I'm trying to love. I know that I can trust Him and His love for me. He saw me through the loss of my precious baby, Peanut, and even turned my tragedy into triumph. And that's just one example of His tender love for me. He and I have history! God has proven to me that I can trust Him. Ok, I'll try again and again. "But God, why is it so hard? Shouldn't loving others be easier? Why does it sometimes feel like...well, suffering?"

"Unfortunately, my dear one, that is the only way you will learn obedience, not just in loving others but, in everything you do. And My Son modeled that for you. Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Hebrews 5:8"

So, loving others is really about trusting and obeying You. "Father, Author of my faith, please help me to trust you more."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Touching Lives is on the Move!

Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you!
As the Father has sent me,
I also send you.
John 20:21

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..." Well, not yet but God is asking me to take these love lessons on the road! Specifically He's sending me, with over 20 others, to Ahero and Wachara, Kenya this July! Two of the board members for Touching Lives Ministry are joining with a medical mission team to participate in medical camps while keeping the eyes and ears of our souls open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We at TLM believe that God may be sending us to this region to open our first medical clinic. We ask that anyone visiting this blog would partner with us in praying that God would reveal His perfect will for us during our mission. It is exciting to realize that God has provided for us to be vehicles of physical and spiritual healing through this trip whether we end up in Ahero full time or not. That is so God!

We do have some prayer requests to pass on:
  • Wisdom for the mission leaders as we prepare to go

  • Safety and health for the team and loved ones of team members while we're gone

  • Discernment for TLM leaders to hear God's call

  • Provision of a portable ultra sound machine for TLM in time for the mission

  • That lives would be touched and changed

  • That God will be glorified and magnified in all we do!

The trip dates are July 17 -29. I look forward to sharing all that God does during that trip with each of you who are partnering with us!

Now may the God of peace...make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13: 20a-21