Monday, November 30, 2009

Whom do our monuments honor?

And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him...Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King's Valley. For he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom's Monument.
II Samuel 18: 17a-18 (emphasis mine)

Having just celebrated the one special day of the year that we set aside to express our gratitude for our blessings to God, I do realize that there are many who desire to make every day a day of thankfulness. Yet, I was struck this year by the irony of the contrast between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. The one day that is isolated specifically to show appreciation is immediately followed by what is arguably the one day each year that brings out the height of our greediness. It is as though we say to God, "Thank you for all you've given to us and done for us, and now we want more!"

In my devotional time last week I read of the death of King David's son, Absalom. He was killed by those who fought in his father's army, thrown into a pit, and a large pile of stones, a monument if you will, was placed on his "grave." The very next verse in II Samuel 18 tells of the monument that Absalom erected to himself. I believe it is no accident the these two verses live side-by-side in God's word.

I also realize that there are many who have suffered loss this year, whether it be that of a dear loved one or employment and finances. I too, have felt the sting of loss in some areas of life this year. These challenges can often obscure the blessings in our lives and cause us to throw our hands up in resignation saying, "I'm going to take care of me because no one else will!" Isn't that what Absalom did when he erected his monument?

However, the stark reality is that, even with the losses and hardships we've endured this year, Americans and those in the western world are indeed blessed beyond measure. Anyone reading this has access to a computer and the internet. Add to that food, a place to live, freedom...I could go on and on. The bottom line is that life is all about where we chose to put our focus.

Ironically, everything that was purchased just three days ago, in time, will deteriorate and be discarded. But a life lived as a daily expression of gratitude will be a "monument" that will echo throughout eternity. The question we all should ask ourselves is, "Whom do I want to honor?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Isn't it Funny?

I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat
and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't
my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?
Yogi Berra

In light of the recent final game of the World Series, finding the above quote this morning proved to be both interesting (in the timing) and quite disturbing to me. Isn't it funny that those of us who would take on the name of Christ, those of us who would call ourselves "followers of Jesus," often will go to great lengths to avoid introspection?

Our flesh, the fallen state into which we are born is all about protecting - me. Of course, in some areas this is good. God "programmed" self preservation into us. But He never desired that we would protect ourselves at the expense of others. We, myself first of all, are much too quick to "change bats," as Yogi Berra put it. We cling to family, friends, jobs, Church as long as it feels good to - me. After all it is all about me, or is it?

When problems arise with family, friends, jobs, and Church and it's time to examine the cause of those problems, isn't it funny that it stops being all about me? "I certainly am not the cause of this problem or that problem. Don't they see what they have done wrong? Where is their integrity? I think they need to take a long, hard look at themselves!" Some how it is no longer about me.

Be careful Christians, be careful Church, be careful Kathi. We have told ourselves, those around us, and God that we long to be like Jesus. We stick our chests out and say that we imitate Christ. But Christ was mocked and rejected by the spiritual leaders of His day. He was physically beaten. He was labeled a madman. Do we really want to imitate Christ? Jesus said, "Father, forgive them."

Now, you might say that I'm "preaching to the choir." And my response would be that you are exactly right! And I am in the choir! You see, the only Jesus many will know is the Jesus they see in me. The choir sings God's praises with the most clarity when we're not on stage!

Isn't it funny that sometimes when life gets hard we take our eyes off Jesus? Isn't it funny that when trials, dilemmas, and hardships come we tend to blame "the bat?" Let's remember God's promise to forgive our sins if we confess them to Him (I John 1:9). Not only is it safe to look at ourselves and how we have contributed to a problem, it is one of the ways that we grow. Thankfully in God's economy there is no such thing as a useless, broken bat. And keeping that in mind, may each one of us take a good, hard look at ourselves because, in the end, it's not funny at all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day - Oct. 15th

Just an invitation to join parents all over the United States in lighting a candle tonight at 7:00PM in remembrance of our precious babies in heaven.

A Prayer for the Day

Dear Abba Daddy,

I thank you that your are the giver of all life. I pray that today, as we remember the babies we love but never really knew, that you will renew the lives of those of us who grieve for those babies with a fresh infusion of your comfort and peace.

I thank you that we know beyond doubt that our precious babies are with you. Knowing that helps us to realize that our grief is truly for ourselves: our loss, our hopes and dreams. I pray that you would show us creative and loving ways to be our little ones hands and feet, and in that way, we will know that our children can make a difference in the world.

Father, I especially lift up those whose wounds are fresh - today, this week, this month, this year. I pray that you would wrap your arms around them using the arms of the people in their lives who love them like you do. Please remind them anew that, in the midst of their chaos, you are in control. Remind us all that you are well acquainted with the pain and helplessness of the loss of a child.
I thank you with all my heart for those who are burdened for others who have lost a baby. They sacrificially make themselves available and vulnerable through their willingness to re-live the pain of their own loss. Bless them today, Lord, as they once again reach out to the hurting with the comfort with which you've comforted them.

I thank you that your mercies are new every morning and your promise to work all things for our good and your glory as we follow you. And for those who have not yet chosen to follow you I pray that the knowledge that their precious baby is in your arms would drive them to those same loving, Father's arms. Abba, may you be glorified even in the midst of grief. We love you, help us to love you more.

I pray this in the name of the Son that you sacrificed, giving us the privilege to come boldly before the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Baby's In Heaven?

"...I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
King David in II Samuel 12:2-23

I have discovered, sometimes painfully, that I am normal! I am not special or extra-ordinary and I do not stand out in a crowd. Of course, I am special to God, He is "especially fond" of all His kids but from an earthly perspective...I am average.

I find it necessary to point that out because I suspect that moms and dads who have lost a baby are just like me - normal. You see, when we lost our precious baby, Peanut, I adamantly expressed by belief that he is in heaven, in the presence of God. But somewhere deep down inside me I wondered...and prayed, "Dear God, please let that be so. Please somehow confirm that for me."

Thankfully our God is faithful, He both hears and answers our prayers. And our grief breaks His heart. So, when I was ready to receive it, God brought to me a story found in the Old Testament of the Bible in II Samuel 12. Here we learn that David sinned by having an affair with Bathsheba, having Bathsheba's husband murdered, and their union resulted in a pregnancy. Later the prophet Nathan informed David that his son would not live and immediately the child fell ill.

David tore his clothes, fasted, and prayed that God would spare his son but the infant died. When that happened David picked himself up off the ground, literally, cleaned up, ate, and went into the temple to worship God. Of course, the king's closest attendants were baffled by his behavior and questioned him. Here was his response, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." II Samuel 12:22-23 (emphasis mine)

God in His loving kindness to parents for generations to come recorded David's loss so that we do not have to wonder. We can know that we know that we know that our precious babies are just fine waiting for us to join them in heaven! We only need to accept Jesus' free gift of salvation.

On October 25,1988 President Reagan and the United States Congress declared October to be National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th has been specifically set aside to remember our sweet children. My prayer for every mother, father, and family member who have lost a baby is that you would be filled with comfort and peace, as you remember you child this month, knowing that he or she is safe in our Father's arms and enjoying His presence!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

God's Hands and Feet

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Beloved, now we are children of God...
I John 3:1a, 2a

Forgive me for saying so, but I enjoyed having my quiet time with God at the edge of the ocean in South Carolina this morning. Please know that I do not share that to boast or envoke envy, it really is paramount to what God spoke to my heart today!

As I sat on the beach my attention was drawn to a young father standing about 30 to 40 yards in the ocean holding his toddler in his arms. The dad was standing with his back to the breaking waves so as to shelter his precious son. To be sure, the lad did get wet but there is no way that young child could have been that far out in the ocean without his father's protection.

Watching the scene made me realize that spiritually I am that little boy! Sometimes life breaks on me, on us all, with the force of monster waves. Yes, we do feel the impact of the attacks but our Shelter is sure.

Then an interesting paradox hit me: on the earthly plane I am also the boy's father. God has called us to love and shelter our spiritual family and our human family alike. Being a part of a family does have its privileges but it also has its responsibilities. Some of us are called to go and do, others, especially those with physical limitations; to stay and pray. The important thing is that we are all called to love.

As we relish our sheltered position as children of God, may we boldly step out and be God's hands and feet to the world.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Restriction vs Freedom

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.
-John Locke

A few weeks ago I had the delightful burden of creating a website for my book. It was delightful because, after many hours of working on it, it worked! It was a burden because it took many hours!

I actually discovered that the longest and hardest part of the process was that I had to learn the "hoops" through which the web hosting service wanted me to jump. In my only mildly trained computer mind not all of those hoops were logical. And so, I would try it the way I thought the program should respond, when that didn't work I would alter one of the steps and try it again. Right around the fifth to tenth try I would finally stumble onto the proper sequence. This process would take around an hour or so and then I would repeat the chore on a different page doing a different task.

I found the process to be quite grueling, that is, until I discovered all the various pathways and hoops. It was at that point that I realized that I could accomplish my mission in a relatively short period of time now that I knew the process. What a shame I only needed one website!

Just a few days before this experience I had the pleasure of hearing a young pastor expound on the lament of the present generation that Christianity is too restrictive. It only offers one way to heaven. His words stuck with me as closely as my own name, "If you remove a fish from the restrictive environment of water, you do not give it more freedom, you give it death." The restrictions God places on us actually provide freedom for us!

The restrictions, or hoops, I ran into while creating the website provided great freedom (and even joy!) once I uncovered what was required. It is not until we feel the restrictive power of physical pain that we truly appreciate life without pain. Storms make sunshine brighter. The loss of a loved one teaches us to cherish those with us more. Struggles magnify triumphs. I have found this concept to be true in every area of life: politics, health, finances, relationships, the law, religion, education - you name it.

Our restrictions are actually a result of our flawed human nature and ignoring or refusing to acknowledge those restrictions only leads to pain and even death. But knowing the Truth offers freedom and life. May each of us find the freedom in our difficult circumstances and, like fish, swim to our hearts' content!

P.S. The address for my website is: I would appreciate you stopping by! Kathi

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

But I'm Unqualified!

I'm unqualified for anything else. I'm barely qualified for this.
- Catherine Keener

Recently I've been studying the life of King David and today came to the moment he became king of the entire Hebrew nation. At this point he had been king over Judah for several years, but finally he realized the fullness of his calling - somewhere around 15 years after he was called!

Then I was reminded that he had been a lowly shepherd boy when he was called. Beth Moore, the author of, "A Heart Like His - Intimate Reflections on the life of David," reminded me that God did not call David in spite of the fact that he was a shepherd, rather because of it. In 2 Samuel 5:2 we read, " The Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their leader.'"

I've shared several times that I not only feel unqualified for the calling God has put on my heart, I am severely unqualified. This confuses me and causes me to doubt myself. I don't doubt God but I do sometimes doubt if I've heard from Him what I think I did. It's at those times the Holy Spirit brings to my remembrance the things that I know about God - He loves and uses those who are weak and lowly, so the He will be lifted up.

If you a parent who has lost a baby, maybe several babies, and God is calling you to something, I would encourage you to ask God to help you take your spiritual eyes off yourself and your limitations and think about the things you know to be true about God. After all, it is He who will accomplish His good and perfect will in your life. It often feels like you're climbing an overwhelming mountain, to be sure, but it's really God who is doing the climbing and He's giving you the faith to hang on! I would encourage you to read Psalm 18 to remember who God is and what you mean to Him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life Well Lived

The most important things in life are not things.
- Anthony J. D'Angelo
In the last week I have been moved by learning that three incredibly brave souls finished their fight here on earth; two missionary pilots in Kenya and my son's mother-in-love. Their loss leaves a heavy sadness on those who love them, but the mark they've left on the world around them is a cause for celebration. Any life that touches and changes other lives is a life well lived. May we follow their example.

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, than should be brought to pass the saying that has been written: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
I Corinthians 15: 54-55 (NKJV)

When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for You?

When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I have done
For love's reward

Will stand the test of time
Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
That you found purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints

I will always sing Your praise
Here on earth and in heaven ever after
For you've joined me in my true home
When it's all been said and done
You're my life when life is gone.
- Robin Marks

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Making a Difference?

I wanted to change the world. But I have found that
the only thing one can be sure of is changing oneself.
-Aldous Huxley

Please allow me to give you a tour of my little oasis in the middle of life's busy-ness. The patio swing in my front yard provides a quiet, peaceful place outside where I can tune out our high tech world for a short while evey morning to have some one-on-one time with my God. It's really not much in comparison to many yards but it is special to me.

Besides providing respite, I enjoy my yard and garden because of the excitement I feel when something actually grows there! You see, I wouldn't exactly say that I have a "green thumb!" The label, "light gray thumb," would probably be a more accurate description of my gardening talent. That is clearly evidenced by these hanging baskets which were filled with beautiful little white, yellow, and lavender flowers on the day they were purchased. In my own defense I must say that I try, I really do try, to nurture these lovely baskets. But it seems that by mid-July each year my poor baskets make me wonder if it might be an act of kindness to put them out of their misery!

This morning as I was having my devotional time something caught my attention and just wouldn't let go! In fact, I had to get up from the swing to get a closer look...sure enough; some buds from the baskets had fallen onto the ground, taken root, and were blossoming! Even though my baskets have seen better days, their flowers had given of themselves and made a difference in the much larger and already blossoming garden.
As I looked with amazement at these flowers I felt tears welling up in my eyes. How many of us have felt like those hanging baskets look - standing alone, hardly worth noticing, not making much of a difference in the world around us? But God desires to take the little that we have to offer and breathe His Holy Spirit into it to touch and even change someone near us, maybe even someone we would consider to be lavishly florishing without our influence.

Like these poor baskets, may we obstinately refuse to give up in the face of discouragement. Sometimes appearances really are deceiving!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Birth of a Ministry

Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.
Ecclesiastes 11:1

As a child God called me to the mission field. A few years after that He gave me Ecclesiastes 11:1 as a reminder of that call. Thirty years later I found that verse printed on a devotional card tucked away in an obscure place in my house. And yet another five years passed when my husband and I received the letter we had waited for: on June 9, 2009 Touching Lives Ministry was awarded tax-exempt status as a non-profit ministry. Over the years God has proven Himself faithful to keep His calling alive and to finish what He started. By God’s grace, after many days that vision is being realized!

As we take baby steps forward we would appreciate the prayers of those who have a heart for the lost and poor around the world in the following areas:
· We believe that God may be leading us to open our
first medical clinic in the slums of Kenya

· We are still in need of a website

· Wisdom regarding fund-raising

· That God would continue to put our book, Our Baby, Our Love, Our Loss into the hands of couples grieving the loss of a baby

· Above all, that God will be glorified and lives would be changed through this ministry.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why we do what we do

Even the simplest wicker basket can become priceless when it is loved and cared for through the generations of a family. -Sister Parish

Recently several of my fellow nurses and co-workers have gone through tragedies, not mishaps or misfortunes, but tragedies. As the rest of us have tried to love and care for these people that we've been bonded to through our workplace, the subject of caring for the care-giver has come up.

I have often asked the rhetorical question, "Who cares for the care-givers?" Actually, the question is only rhetorical because it is often met with silence. Please don't misunderstand, I am not writing this as a complaint. Rather it is a reminder first to myself and then to the reader that we should fight against the human tendency to accept the love and nurturing we receive from those around us while forgetting to reciprocate. I believe that we often fail to recognize who some of our care-givers are because...well, because they're people who are just doing what they do.

  • Pastors or other clergy
  • Teachers and mentors
  • Friends who are single parents
  • Co-workers
  • Health care providers
  • Neighbors
  • Encouragers in our lives

Of course family and close friends are on that list but we generally express our appreciation and care for them more readily. And for each of us there are others we can add to this list, this is just a starting place.

As for Touching Lives Ministry, we do what we do primarily because God has called us to it that He would be glorified and lives would be changed. But we recognize that there are many who have sacrificed much to care for the poor around the world. One of our passions is to come beside those heros and care for them.

There are many things in our lives that we care for, I pray we will all become better at showing that same kind of care to the people God has placed in our lives to bless us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons from Nepal: Be Careful Who You Lean On

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding
Proverbs 3:5

After our first clinic day in Sera Bajar we set off down the mountain in our usual groups of four to six. Even though I do not have the “gift” of agility I felt quite safe armed with my trusty walking stick and aided by two of my two sisters in the Lord, Alex and Susan, in front and behind me. About mid-way in our travels we reached an area that had about five stone steps. To the left of us was a large yucca plant and to the right only the ground at the bottom of the steps. A five to six foot high retaining wall went from the top step to the ground.

Upon reaching the bottom step Alex turned and took my left hand. Susan supported my right arm as I planted my walking stick on the ground below us. All was well until I reached the third step. After moving the walking stick forward a little I felt my balance shift unexpectedly to the right. I struggled to straighten myself but this was a battle that gravity was determined to win!

Thank God Alex immediately felt me going and pulled my arm in the opposite direction. This caused the fall to happen literally in slow motion but, alas, Alex also succumbed to the laws of nature of landed on top of me. The entire grace-less episode ended with a thud as the back of my head hit the retaining wall. Upon hearing the “clunk” from my cranium I remember thinking, “Wow, that can’t be good!”

As soon as the “dust settled” Rich, the team’s EMT who is also one of our RNs, rushed to my side to evaluate any injuries. Because of the impressive sound emanating from the collision of my head with the wall everyone was concerned that I might have sustained a concussion or worse. However, God in His mercy used Alex to keep me from falling directly on my head thus making the sound of the impact much worse that the impact itself.

However, I did incur a much less obvious injury that resulted from the fact that when a person falls to their right but is being pulled to their left, they tend to bend in half at the hips. In hind sight (every pun intended) it became apparent that my “southern region” hit the ground first and hardest, softening the blow to my head. I knew immediately that I had fractured my coccyx! OK, go ahead, snicker if you have to – but don’t expect me to join in, it hurts more when I laugh!

After Rich examined my head and checked neurological signs, and with much insistence on my part, he realized that there was nothing anyone could do to treat my injury except gingerly help me to my feet. As I took my newly re-arranged bum for a test drive, Rich retrieved my walking stick. That was when we realized that my formerly trusty stick had snapped about two inches above the end.

Because I am convinced that short term mission trips are much more about the “giver” than the “receiver”, I always take time to ponder what it is that God was trying to teach me during each trip. Initially I thought that God was trying to keep me humble through this episode – a natural assumption given that He has been working on me in this area for years. And while that may be part of what He was doing, I haven’t been able to get my mind (the part of me that didn’t break) off of that flawed walking stick. After all, it had supported me through two other missions.

Finally just this past week I heard that “still, small voice” whisper to my spirit, “Kathi, be very careful about who and what you lean on.” Just as I had foolishly put my faith in a faulty walking stick, many are putting their faith in faulty gods. I pray with all my heart that God will use the time we spent in Nepal to open the eyes of the people we touched to the Truth that there is no other God like Him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lessons from Nepal: God is Sufficient

Faith is the virtue by which,
clinging-to the faithfulness of God,
we lean upon Him, so that we may
obtain what He gives to us.
- William Ames

The triage note handed to me by this beautiful 18 year old, first time mother-to-be read, “ten months pregnant.” Not a great start. As I began to examine her I first discovered that her blood pressure was elevated. My next finding was that her hands and feet had become swollen with water retention, medically known as edema. An ultra sound done by Dr. Joe disclosed that her placenta was not functioning at its maximum, most likely due to the fact that she was over-due. Most concerning of all was the fact that all of the previous findings contributed to an absence of amniotic fluid, leaving the baby’s umbilical cord vulnerable to being compressed which would cut off the baby's oxygen supply. Adding to the urgency of the situation was the fact that this sweet, young mamma-to-be was having no symptoms of labor.

In this small mountain clinic setting we did not have the medications nor facilities available to us to provide the care our patient so urgently needed. The closest facility that had the capability of meeting her needs was several hours down the mountain. So, we talked to the PUMA leaders to arrange transportation to the district hospital only to find that there were no vehicles available. With heavy hearts and at the peak heat of the day we sent our young patient down the mountain by foot.

As we prayed for safety for this mother and baby I began to feel first helpless and then angry. We came to Nepal to bring people hope and healing. This looked more like abandonment and fear.

“God, what are you doing? Please help us help her, please!”
“Yes, Lord.”
“Do you believe I am in control?”
“Well…yes…I do...”
“Then give her to me. She’s not yours, she’s Mine.”
“I know, Lord, but…”
“This is no different than giving me Mark, Jason, Peanut, yourself.”
“I know, Lord, but…”
“Am I sufficient to meet every need?”
“Yes, Lord, You are sufficient.”

We may not know until heaven what God did in that young lady’s life. But I do know that, once again, God was teaching me truths about Himself – about myself - through this. God is faithful and sufficient to meet all our needs. That is and always will be true whether I believe it or not. The crucial and intimately personal issue is this: do I believe Him and if I do, will I live it? When we weed through all the “stuff” I guess that’s the issue for us all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lessons from Nepal: A Vehicle for the Gospel

Fear defeats more people than any
other one thing in the world.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want to shout it from the rooftops, or rather the mountaintops: medical clinics for the poor in underdeveloped and developing countries are a vehicle to proclaim the Gospel to the lost!

It was the third day of our clinic in the first Nepali mountain village we visited and we were told during our morning devotions that the people would most likely take advantage of the recent rain to plow and plant their fields. Unfortunately Nepal has been caught in the throes of a drought for some time now and the thunder storms we had been having each day provided the answer to the prayers of many. This would most likely mean that the number of patients at the final clinic day in this village would be down.

And indeed, we were able to see all of the 150 to 200 patients waiting to be seen by about 2:00pm, easily two hours earlier than the previous two days. But that day I personally had possibly the most poignant divine appointment of the two week mission.

The patients waited in line to be seen by a triage nurse who would get the appropriate vital signs and question the patient regarding their physical complaints. The nurse would then assign the patient to a specific practitioner. Our Ob/Gyn doctor, another obstetrical nurse, and I would see the women with "female complaints." Our GI doctor would see patients with stomach/intestinal complaints as well as some with generalized physical symptoms. Dr. Thapa, a Nepali doctor who volunteer two weeks of his time to help with our clinics, would see patients with symptoms of diseases that we don't treat often in the U.S. like leprosy and viruses peculiar to the region. He also saw most of the infants and children. And the Occupational Therapist on the team saw patients with muscular-skeletal pain and/or injury. The triage nurse wrote each patient's chief medical complaint on a triage form and sent the individual to the appropriate practitioner.

Relatively early in the day a rather young, nicely dressed woman handed me her triage paper. On it were notations of a few superficial complaints, nothing that alerted me to any significant medical problems. But then I read, "cannot sleep." Considering the fact that the team was sleeping in sleeping bags on cement floors with no electricity and an outhouse about 50 yards away which was only a hole in the ground I was somewhat unsympathetic! In spite of trying to maintain a professional demeanor, I smiled a little and thought, "Join the club, honey!" But my grin disappeared when I read the final comment on her note, "is fearful."

My first thought was that the nurses doing triage are always swamped with long lines of people waiting to be seen, so they try to get to the major symptoms as quickly as possible. Part of the role of the specialized doctors and nurses was to question the patient more in depth about their complaints. If this poor woman was so plagued by fear that it was one of the first things she communicated to the triage nurse, this was neither a laughing nor small matter.

After quickly addressing the more minor complaints I said to the patient, through my interpreter, Gabi, "This says that you are having trouble sleeping at night."
Her response was, "Yes, I have many thoughts that go around and around in my head and they will not allow me to sleep."
"Do these thoughts make you afraid?"
"What are you afraid of?"
"Many things. I am afraid for my children."
"Are you afraid of death?"
"Have you ever heard about Jesus?"
"He can calm your fears and bring you peace. Would you like to get to know Him?"

My spirit leaped within me! Where are our pastors? Where are our spiritual counselors? This is much too important to speak through translator, even a good one like Gabi. This woman needs to speak to someone who knows her culture and language intimately. I need help here!

I told this gentle woman that I was going to take her to someone who would introduce her to Jesus. And with my arm around her shoulder I led her out the door to a dedicated, Godly man who has been on the PUMA staff in Nepal for several years. After explaining the situation to Phillip he tenderly walked Sipa to the shade of a nearby tree and there she met Jesus!

Later that day Phillip reported to the team that Sipa accepted Jesus as her Savior and went home with a Nepalese Bible. She told Phillip that she could be in danger for leaving her Hindu religion. He suggested that she privately read her Bible and pray for her family members that they would come to know the True and Living God. Our team is praying for dear Sipa and her family that some day we will see them all in heaven.

I want to shout it from the mountaintops!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nepal: Re-direction and re-focusing

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

-Erma Bombeck

I firmly believe that participating in a short term mission is much more about what God wants to do in the "server's" heart than those who are served. Of course we desire to be God's hands and feet to the poor, sick, and lost but it is my experience that almost universally team members are surprised by the ministry done in their own hearts when all is said and done.

One of my personal prayers for this mission was that I would be able to observe and learn from the team and PUMA ministry leaders. The time is coming soon when I will be leading a short term mission team. That is a daunting responsibility that I know I will only be able to do with the help of the Holy Spirit but I also know that I must do what I can to prepare for the task at hand. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul admonishes us to, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." Paul was speaking specifically of studying God's Word but I believe that his words can and should be applied to any calling that God puts on our lives. So, right from the first team meeting back in October I have been in "gleaning mode."

And did I glean! However it is often the case that when I set myself to the task of learning I find that the knowledge revealed to me is quite unexpected and Nepal was no exception. I was seeking leadership skills and I learned about a servant's heart. Toward the end of the trip I learned about accepting the service of others gracefully. I desired to become a better leader and discovered how to become a better follower. I wanted to know how to conduct effective medical camps and realized that every one of the approximately 1500 patients we treated will some day die - every one! My passion to make a difference for God's Kingdom grew exponentially while my focus on medical camps diminished somewhat.

Of course bringing medical care to the poor and sick is important but it falls short of meeting the need if we fail to offer the spiritual healing all mankind require. This lesson was driven home to me with the force of a blow to my head with a sledge hammer when a woman came to us with a complaint of a "mass" on her breast. The examination revealed that the woman had inflammatory breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of this disease. Of course, we were not equipped in our little mountain medical clinic to address such a critical problem and our only recourse was to encourage this dear woman to go the closest district hospital at the bottom of the mountain. My heart was heavy as the disappointed patient slowly walked away. How can we just do nothing? Hey,wait a minute, we don't just have medicine, we have Jesus!

Our translator ran out the door and called after the woman, urging her to please come back. For quite some time Dr. Joe, the American Ob/Gyn doctor on our team, talked to this sweet woman through our young interpreter, introducing her to the Great Physician. In the end she was "almost persuaded," but the seed was planted and we will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will "water" it and bring her to Himself while she still has breath.

The obvious question that must be answered as a result of all this learning is how does it impact Touching Lives? That's where the re-direction comes in! God is closing some doors and opening others with a renewed focus on medical clinics as a vehicle to proclaim the Gospel. This has been a burden on my heart for quite a while, now I am finally in position to have God show me how, where and when to carry out this ministry.

PUMA has been doing that kind of ministry beautifully for 10 years and the fruit of changed lives is blossoming. Seeing that first hand makes even whispering the calling that God has put on our hearts an intimidating thought. But my mantra throughout our two week mission became and remains, "not by might, nor by power, but by your Spirit!"

In God's perfect timing there will be more to come!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Hearing the Call

I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are over come when our hearts are ready to do the Lord's will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
-George Muller
In the past few months I've heard much discussion on the topic of knowing God's will. I have given a lot thought to this subject and I would thoroughly enjoy saying that I know with certainty how anyone can know God's will. Mainly I would like to be able to honestly say that because it would make following hard after Jesus a lot easier for me personally! However, often the painful truth is that knowing God's will is an incredibly and powerfully personal issue and therefore discerning His will is most likely just a little different for each individual. One thing I do know is that our God is not a God of "formulas," He is much more personal than that.
So, how do I know that Mark and I are following God's plan for our lives through Touching Lives? Well, we do have circumstantial evidence. For instance, through a series of events God led us to the couple we are partnering with in India, the person He'd chosen to guide us through the process of filing for non-profit status, the people He wanted on our Board of Directors and I could go on...
There are also areas in this calling that line up directly with what God's Word tells us about the kind of people God uses. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 Paul says that "...when I am weak, then I am strong." 1 Corinthians 1: 27 tells us, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty..." Time after time all through out the Bible God did things in ways that just makes you scratch you head and say, "If I were God I don't think I would have done it that way!" He rose up the nation of Israel through a barren couple, He had Noah build a boat nowhere near water, Joseph was put in prison to become a government official, Moses was much too young at the age of forty to lead the Jews out of Egypt, the Son of God was born in a barn, Paul - a Jewish rabbi - became the apostle to the Gentiles - need I continue?
So, the fact that this ministry is "being born" smack dab in the middle of the worst financial time since the Great Depression and that God has chosen to use a disabled chemical operator and a part-time obstetrical nurse who live in the poorest city in Pennsylvania, helps to confirm that this "craziness" is God's doing! I often tell people that if I were God I certainly would not choose Mark and Kathi Evans for this task!
Another confirmation of this calling is that God brought Godly people to us, some we knew and some who were strangers to us, who affirmed the calling. There are several other things that contribute to our ability to say that, "we know that we know that we know" that God has carved out this road for us but what I'd really like to share is how God communicated to me that it was His will to use me to help take others onto the foreign mission field.
It started with me begging! You see, God put in me a burning, and I do mean burning, desire to serve Him. Of course that is true of all His followers, but I had a gut-wrenching passion to serve Him on the mission field. On May 29, 2004 I wrote the following entry in my journal: "Jesus, I know what I want to do – so many things, so many visions. But, Master, I lay down all those aspirations so that I can be unencumbered to do what You want me to do. I want Your vision. I want Your will to be done, but it’s got to start inside me. I need courage, boldness, meekness.
You know I can speak, Lord, help me be silent. You know I can lead, help me to follow. Show me, help me, teach me, fill me, break me, but Sovereign God, in Your love, mercy, grace and faithfulness, please, I beseech You, use me!"
It wasn't until September 14 of that same year that God whispered to my spirit that He wanted to use me to train, equip, and take others onto the mission field, especially those who might not otherwise go. While I was confused and overwhelmed by that I was also excited about it. How? When? Where? Me?
Since that day God lead us to two locations that provide many of the luxuries of the United States - and us medical people do enjoy our luxuries. Our missions will not be "roughing it" like some missions and I believe that God designed our ministry that way to allow more people an insight into the plight of the starving and lost in under-developed and developing countries.
On September 14, 2004 I did not have the slightest clue how God was going to fulfill this new call on my life. And I did think that the call was pure lunacy. But I knew in my spirit that some day I would understand what He was up too! I guess that's what He meant when He said that we should "walk by faith, not by sight."

Thursday, February 5, 2009 India!

Faith is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Saint Augustine

In May of 2006 I found myself in Hyderabad, India on a mission "scouting trip" with another ministry. The last few days before going home were spent with the Amrutharaj's, a lovely couple who had a burden and vision for the poor in their area. They shared their calling to open a medical clinic in the Papireddy Colony and asked that we pray about partnering with them in this endeavor. After I recovered from yet another "spirit jumping in me" episode, we attended a church service in another of the slums in the area.

Throughout the service I could not help but notice a woman who sat on the floor across the room from me. She had the countenance of someone with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She rarely looked up and, as far as I could see, never looked anyone in the eyes. God broke my heart for this dear woman that day and for the many, many women just like her in this city. It appeared that God was using this woman to answer my prayers regarding partnering with Drs. Joseph and Vimala even before I prayed them! I pray that God will allow me to see this precious woman again while we're still on earth but if that is not God's will I look forward to telling her about the impact she had on my life and my calling!

I wasn't to return to Hyderabad until November of 2007, a full year and one half after my first visit. However this second mission was also a "scouting trip" only this time it was on behalf of Touching Lives! And this time my sweet sister in the Lord and now fellow Touching Lives Board Member, Darien, accompanied me.

As we discussed the future partnership between Touching Lives and Drs. Joseph and Vimala, once again my spirit leaped (my body should do as much jumping as my spirit does!) when I heard that their dream is not to open one but five clinics. To this day I don't quite understand why that felt so right, I can only tell you that it did!
Over the course of this mission we were able to visit the construction site of the first clinic. As the Amrutharaj's posed in what would become the doorway of the structure for us to take pictures of them, tears came to my eyes. Before me was God's visual confirmation that this crazy adventure we were on was His will. This was a wonderfully humbling moment!

One of the few regrets I have had in regard to participating in short-term missions has always been that, either because of his work schedule or his health, I have never be able to share a mission with Mark first hand. But while in India this second time I began to ask God to bring Mark here. It only felt right that he would meet Drs. Joseph and Vimala "up close and personal" as we begin this ministry partnership. The morning after we returned home as Mark "debriefed" me on the trip, he told me that he felt God leading him to go to Hyderabad! And, you guessed it, I got that spirit-jumping thing going again! So, we have begun to pray that God would open the doors for us to visit India this coming May. Please join with us in praying that 1) God's will is done and 2) that He receives all the glory, honor, and praise due Him as He carries out His will in our lives.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Call to Missions Realized

Today is the first day of your life because it has never been before, and today is the last day of your life becasue it will never be again.

- Frederick Buechner

As Jason reached his teenage years I began to feel the pull of the call to missions I heard when I was eleven. I still had not been introduced to ministries or organizations that could help me walk in that call but I had begun to do some research when God led Mark and me to a missions-minded church for the first time in our adult lives. I still remember feeling my spirit leap within me the Sunday morning I first heard the annoucement that our new church was having an informational meeting about their next mission to Trinidad in 2001.

Over the next 5 years I averaged two foreign missions per year. As I prepared for each mission I would send out support letters to family and friends, make items to sell, and pray for opportunities to work extra time to finance the missions. And God used these efforts to provide all the resources I needed for each mission. But God had something new for us in the spring of 2006.

Mark had triple by-pass surgery on January 31, 2006 and although there were a few "bumps in the road" of his recovery, overall it was fairly uneventful. So, at the beginning of April he was feeling well enough to be antsy but was not quite ready physically to return to his 48-72 hour work weeks and he began to "putz", as he puts it, around our home office. One of the end points of his putz-ing was that after 8 years he found that book CD!

One month later while on my first mission to India, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that He did not want me to ask people for financial support for my missions any longer.

" don't want me to go on the mission field any more?"

"I didn't say that, Kathi, I just want you to trust me to provide the funds for your missions."
"Ok, Lord," gulp, "with your help I'll trust you."

In July of 2006 I finished the book, in September we signed a contract with our publisher - Wheatmark, and in April of 2007 the book was published! As we prayed about what we should do with the funds from our book it was obvious that this way one of the means that God intended to use to provide resources for my missions. God was using Peanut's life to fulfill His call on my life!

So, why the 8 year delay? I asked the same question! In that time God introduced me to my now cherished friend and divinely gifted artist, Connie Beecher, who did all of the art for my book. He brought us to Calvary Chapel of Delaware County, the vehicle He intended to use to "launch" me onto the mission field. He introduced us to various mission ministries including PUMA that would mentor us on our road to Touching Lives. He introduced us to the ministries in India and Kenya with whom we would eventually partner. And He introduced and reunited us with the people He had choosen to be on the TLM board at the birth of this ministry. During those 8 years God was working "behind the scenes" to do His perfect will in His perfect time!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We're Not in Hawaii Any More, Peanut

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose
ways you may not understand at the time.
I share the details of Peanut's short life in my book Our Baby, Our Love, Our Loss. But the lessons I've learned and the twists and turns of my life's journey that have resulted from Peanut's 16 weeks of life would take volumes to communicate. However I can tell you that there is one thing of which I am convinced: returning to work just 2 weeks after we lost Peanut was one of the top five most difficult things I've ever done. Suddenly working in Labor and Delivery seemed more like a sacrifice than a privilege. Watching a woman deliver a baby she did not want while I longed for the baby I could not have was excruciating.
As time passed God gave me opportunities to reach out to other couples who were experiencing the gut-wrenching pain of losing a child and I slowly realized that my "cushy" job was being transformed into a ministry. I had become a member of a club that I would never want to join but with that membership came the realization that the call I felt on my life and career back in college really was a call and not just a desire. The cost of this ministry was indeed high, higher than I could ever have imagined, but that did not alter the call in any way.
After several years I began to "hear" God's Spirit speak to my spirit, this time telling me He could minister to many more couples through our experience if I wrote a book. I argued with God (talk about an exercise in futility!) but finally began to write. Interestingly after writing all but the last 2 chapters I misplaced the CD with the manuscript on it! When Mark and I were unable to find it we assumed that God's purpose in having me write our story was a cathartic one. The whereabouts of the manuscript remained a mystery to us for 8 years. During that time God was busy preparing the way...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Time of Preparation

If you put off everything till you're sure of it,
you'll never get anything done.
-Norman Vincent Peale
After our honeymoon Mark and I moved into a small apartment just south of Wilmington, De. and I took a position at what was then Wilmington Medical Center on an oncology unit. I learned tons on that unit and was tempted to change my site from obstetrics to oncology but God very sternly turned me back again. He has a way of doing that! So a little over a year after I started at the medical center I accepted a position in Labor and Delivery.
Talk about learning! At that time Wilmington Medical Center, now Christiana Medical Center, did over 6,000 deliveries a year. It was the third largest maternity center in the United States and I lovingly dubbed it a "baby factory"! For the most part I loved working there and learning the kind of things that only experience can teach.
Then on the same day that my maternal grandmother passed away we learned that I was pregnant. Can you say "mixed emotions"? The very next day I began to bleed and that began a 3 month emotional roller coaster of being uncertain that I would be able to carry the pregnancy to term. But praise God, I went back to work in the 13th week of the pregnancy and had to call in sick when I went into labor on my due date! Jason Zachary Evans entered the world!
By this time we had moved back to Pennsylvania and when the time came to go back to work I wanted to work closer to home so that I could get to Jason quickly if he needed me. So in October of 1983 I began to work at Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. I worked for a year on the maternity floor and then moved to Labor and Delivery, where I've been ever since.
I continued to learn over the next 4 years but always in the back of my mind was that nagging question: if God called me to Labor and Delivery, why?
And then came Peanut...

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Call to Hawaii!

Courage is the bridge between good ideas and action.
-Tim Hansel in Holy Sweat

The day I walked into the auditorium with the rest of the nursing class of 1977 to meet the Dean of Nursing and the nursing faculty at Widener University I felt in my spirit that God was calling me to work in Labor and Delivery. In all honesty I have to admit that for years I doubted the validity of that calling. In my mind it was akin to being called as a missionary to Hawaii, there aren't many who would refuse that calling! Many years later I would clearly understand that God did indeed call me to be an obstetrical nurse. I would also come to intimately see that, if God is in the calling - whether it be Hawaii or Labor and Delivery, sacrifice will be involved.
In fact, God in His kindness to His kids warns us that we should always "count the cost" when we accept His call on our lives. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it." Luke 14:28 For Mark and me the cost of this luxuriant call was quite high. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me take you back to one year before I entered that university auditorium: my father, who was the pastor of the church I attended, brought a group in to perform a musical. These Christian musicals were born out of the hippie generation and had become quite popular at the time. As I sat watching the performance my eyes kept wandering to one particular young man in the group. I did get a few moments following the service to talk to him briefly. I believe the conversation basically consisted of me drooling while I verbally gushed about his performance! After the group left I remember thinking with a sigh that it would be wonderful to get to know him but, alas I would probably never see him again. Imagine my surprise a few months later when he was one of the first people I saw as I walked into the church I would be attending during my college years! I do believe that God delights in setting up these little treats for His kids! Long story short: one month after I graduated from college I married that young man in that very church! And the rest, as they say, adventure!

I'd like to add a P.S. to today's blog. We received word on Tuesday that our application for Touching Lives Ministry's non-profit status was received by the I.R.S. Please join with us in praying that God will grant TLM favor with the government in this process - to the glory of God!

Monday, January 19, 2009

How the adventure began

"We need people who are more afraid of missing opportunities than making mistakes. People who are more afraid of lifelong regrets than temporary failure. People who dare to dream the unthinkable and attempt the impossible." Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase

I know that it's hard to believe - when I say it out loud even I find it some what incredible - but this passion began when I was 11 years old! At that tender age I "heard" the Holy Spirit call me to missions. Don't ask me how, I can't explain it except to say that I did not hear an audible voice. It was more like God's Spirit spoke to my spirit through my thoughts. So, how did I know that it was God's "voice"? Good question! I just knew. Not such a good answer! But I can tell you that my life's experiences since that time have repeatedly confirmed the original call.
Again, I can't tell you exactly why, but I thought that God was calling me to a Hispanic country so I proceeded to study Spanish all 4 years of high school. It turned out that my call has been predominately to Asia and Africa (although God's not done with me yet!). OK, so my spiritual "ears" don't always hear correctly, I guess that's why God instructed us in His word to test everything.
Any way, when I graduated from high school there was only one "vehicle" or organization that I knew of at that time that could get me onto the mission field. But I didn't have peace in my spirit about partnering with that group. As I was praying about what direction to go my mother came home from a hospital stay saying that she had a student nurse care for her in the hospital. Something about this nurse reminded her of me so she asked what I thought about majoring in nursing in college. It was one of a hand-full of times in my life that I almost physically felt my spirit leap within me! Yes, yes, why didn't I think of that sooner?
So, off to college I went...

Saddle up your horses......

Touching Lives is truly the movement of the Holy Spirit cuz none of us would be crazy enough to start this on our own..." Faith never knows where its being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading." " Saddle up your horses, this is the great Adventure!!!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Journey Begun

Hard to believe the journey has finally hit the road. This journey began so many many years ago. And yet God knew all the time when each event would unfold!! So like our Father!!! So full of surprises. I am blessed and humbled to be a part of this journey. I look forward to witnessing the hand of God move boulders out of the way just like he did when he rolled away the stone from the tomb of Jesus. We are on an adventure!!!

The "birth" of Touching Lives Ministry

The thought of posting this first blog and sharing the journey to Touching Lives Ministry is daunting! There is so much to share: so many dreams, visions and passions. My quest is to convey an excursion that has traversed a life time. I could write a book! Oh, wait, I did write a book!
Through Our Baby, Our Love, Our Loss I hoped to help couples who are experiencing the loss of a baby through the process from mourning to healing. As a registered nurse who has worked in Labor and Delivery for almost 30 years (that doesn't make me old, just experienced!) I pray that God will use our loss to assist others through theirs.
As we approached the publication of the book, my husband and I prayed about what God would have us do with the proceeds from the book. I will share more extensively in the future about the process we went through but given my involvement in an average of 2 foreign medical missions per year, it just seemed logical to commit any funds from the book to missions.
Then God lead us to a couple in India who have a dream of opening 5 medical clinics in the slums surrounding Hyderabad. After much prayer we decided to partner with them in pursuing this passion. But how could a part-time labor and delivery nurse and a disabled chemical operator realize such a lofty goal? God provided the answer: Touching Lives Ministry!
On Monday, January 12, 2009 we inched one step closer to "walking in" this calling when we put the application in the mail for the 501c3, non-profit status for Touching Lives Ministry. We would appreciate all prayer support regarding this venture in the following areas:
1. That Touching Lives Ministry would find favor with the government and our final non-profit status would be granted quickly.
2. That God would give the Board of Directors of TLM wisdom in leading this ministry forward.
3. That TLM would be blessed with the funds, equipment and donations needed to carry out our mission.
4. That we will be able to get a website up and running expediently. (Mark would especially prayer on his behalf as this task is falling mostly on his shoulders.)
5. That God will get the glory and honor from all that TLM does!
I am excited about including each of you in this journey as we boldly yet humbly move toward Touching Lives!