Wednesday, December 23, 2009
But that night... as the candles were lit and the music began... we remembeed in reverence the night that holiness touched the unclean. The night that the sacred was born amidst all that was profane. The night a King stepped down from His throne to romance a world that lay in endless night. That night, fourteen voices worshipped a Lord that abandoned His home to walk our sod, feel our pain, and cry our tears. We beheld our King that night... the one that gave up the riches of heaven for the poverty of the earth, the one who came wrapped in human flesh to blot out our darkness with His blood. The King in whom the soul would find it's worth. That night the heaviness I'd carried in was overwhelmed by light.
As my own womb swells with life this winter... I cannot help but think about the weight she carried. To be the womb to Emmanuel... to feel Christ kick and move within her must have given her such tremendous joy mixed with such an incredible sense of weight. As she held her deliverer in her arms did her soul feel it's worth? Did her longing and aching for a savior cease the moment she beheld his face?
Oh, Jesus have I remembered to see your face? To be a womb for you... a witness of your redemption? Or have I forgotten.... how big the small things are.... how seen the unseen is? Have I dare forgotten the extravagance of your gift to humanity?
A couple of days ago I recieved a most unexpected and extravagant gift. One that took my breath away and made my eyes brim with tears. I dare say it was the most moving gift I have ever experianced coming from human hands. And although the gift itself was extravagant... more moving still was that it was given to me... on a day I least deserved it. A beautiful reminder of the redemptiveness of grace... to be given freely extravagance that we do not deserve.
To be redeemed by a King who kneels....
For years Israel waited with longing for their deliverer. And today... two thousand years after his coming... we forget to long. We forget to wait with great anticipation. We forget to again let our souls find worth in our King. Amidst the lights and trees and gifts and lists of things to do we forget this extravagant gift of hope to a dark and broken world. A baby who scrubbed the world of it's profanity.
I don't want to miss it.
That night... as the fourteen of us woshipped the birth of our King we were asked a question...
"What treasure is God asking you to bring to the King?"
Under my tree lye presents for so many of those I love. What have I brought to my king?
So this week I have been on my knees asking Him what I could do or bring...
And this morning he brought something my mom did back to memory. I was in first grade at the time and just feeling incredibly unsure and scared. I didn't want to go to school... I wanted to stay at home... with her. And she could have been one of those moms who just said "tough it out"... I know many who would have. But she didn't. My mom came with me to school.... and sat with me in the reading circle as we read stories about Dick and Jane. She offered mercy when I was scared and unsure. She let go of her day and her agenda. And although she probably had no idea all that was going on in my little heart... she offered mercy anyway. She stayed anyway. And the impact of that event and so many like it has been huge. I credit much of the strength and self-identity I have to my mom. She was an incredible example of mercy and understanding. She has always been a womb for Jesus. Quick to give undeserved grace and slow to judge.
I think thats what he wants of each of us... to simply be a womb for Him. To offer extravagant love and mercy to those we feel least deserve it. To be a person who offers redemptive grace... To reach out instead of reaching in. To pick up the cheerios one more time.... and to do it with gratitude in our hearts. To sit with the unsure and scared and give up our own agendas.
To be a womb for the God whose only agenda was to offer hope to humanity.
Merry Christmas... may you be blessed by the extravagant gift of His grace.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
My heart is beating wildly and the tears are pouring... I'm sixteen and life is far too confusing. I'm watching my very best friend walk a road that will hurt her deeply... knowing there is nothing I can do. And I'm driving that road... because it's the place it all comes out for me... it's the place where it's impossible for me to hide anything from my Jesus.... it's the place where there are no lines, boundaries, boxes... it's just Him and my broken heart.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I'm nineteen and I'm driving that road.... weeping because I know He's asked me to walk away from someone I dearly love. I've just moved home and all of my plans for what I thought would be my life seem to be crumbling. I feel alone and scared and vulnerable. I ask Him if it's ever going to get easier... I ask Him to restore a broken situation. I ask Him what in the world I'm supposed to do with my life. I tell Him how deeply I love Him but how lonely it feels to walk this road.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I've just returned from Africa and I don't know where to go next.... My heart is having hard time adjusting to life... here. It was the hardest, most terrifying, heart-wrenching things I've ever done... and yet, I miss it. And I'm on that snowy road asking God how to bring the way I lived there... here.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I'm working in the foster care system... and my heart is shattered. A little boy who was neglected and abused has just been sent home. Only my heart isn't just breaking for him... but for all of them... each shattered little life, each bruised soul. And it's forcing me to look deep within the walls of my heart. I'm beginning to see the gentle leading of the hand of my Jesus... ushering me into a place I know I'm not prepared to go. I'm beginning to understand the ache in my arms and the prayers in my heart for these children I barely know.....
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I'm crying... but this time it's tears of rejoicing. I'm driving that road like a giddy little girl. I've just met Micaiah... and I know deep within my heart that I'm going to marry this man. That day God and I smiled together. That day I saw the redemption of many things. That day... was the day I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God always keeps His promises.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I've just moved into Grace Refuge and I'm falling in love... with the ministry.. with the kids.. with the outpouring and overflowing of life springing from this place. And I'm on that road asking God if this is it. My heart is drawn to this place in this way that is strong and deep and overwhelming... and I simply know I'm supposed to be here.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
It's just days before I'm supposed to get married... the snow is falling and so are my tears. There is nothing more frightening nor more beautiful than knowing you're about to give your entire heart to another. I love him, more deeply and with a differen't kind of love than I've ever loved anyone. He is everything I dont' know how to be and gives me this picture of another face of Jesus that I have simply fallen in love with. But God... will I know how to love him well? Will I add to his life? Will I be able to give him all he deserves?
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I'm twenty-one and it's the day of my wedding. I'm driving through snow drifts in Micaiah's tiny little car... my hair all curled and my heart racing.... And the peace floods in. Today I'm going to marry him and I have no reservations. I have no fears. I simply know. I love him, and I'm well aware my love alone will never be enough... and that day, on that road.. my Jesus reassures me that His love will always be what mine cannot.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I't a few months ago and Margy and I are juggling diapers and lunch and crying and a house that we simply cannot keep up with. There were twelve of them today... twelve small little children... each here by His hand. And I'm driving that road so overwhelmed by it all... Feeling so completely inadequate to play such a role in molding the clay that is their lives. I'm asking God if there isn't someone more qualified... more patient... more loving... more kind than me to love these precious little children.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I'm driving that very road with four small children in the back. We are singing songs and laughing... and as I come to the valley on that road that is my very favorite spot... Tears well in my eyes for all I've been given. These four little babes are praising the Jesus I've prayed they'd come to know. And their delight is the most beautiful worship I've ever witnessed. And my life has never felt so complete.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
It's a few days ago and I drove to the road I've driven so many times... the place I've gone for many of my most difficult conversations with Him... and before I even got there... the tears were falling and my heart was aching. This day was different. This situation, different. More painful, more raw, more desperate than any before this. Because this time, I was driving that road as a mother. A mother, who, for a week had been bleeding. I drove that road a scared mother who knew what this kind of bleeding could mean. And that day, my prayer was differen't than it has ever been. It was simple. "Please Jesus... please." There were a few more words but I just kept repeating the same thing.... "Please....." But it was on that day that I realized that this was all I would ever truly be able to do for the child within me. I realized that the most significant thing I could ever do for this baby was simply cry out His name. I didn't need any other words... He already knew. After all, he is the God whom.. on all of these drives and through all of these years has always known. So on that day I prayed that I might have the courage to love Him well and call out His name even if the news we heard that day in the exam room was the news we most feared....
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
I layed on the table and looked at Micaiah as they placed the ultrasound over my womb.... My heart was racing... "please God... a heartbeat... please."
And then I saw it... a little flicker of light dancing across the screen.
And then we heard the most beautiful sound I've ever heard in my life.
thump thump. thump thump. thump thump.
Thank you. Jesus.... thank you.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I love the body of Christ. I love the messiness of ministry. I love imperfection and how it gives us this chance to see God's grace in a way we never would without it. I love that daily each of us has the chance to become the hands of Jesus.... here. now. in this place. I love that God allows chocolate coffee to warm my heart and two girls dressed in mittens to make me laugh. I love that Angie Smith designed a book club I can do online so I can feel like a part of something... a community even though it's just me and the kids in this big big house most of the time. I love that the people in this house work with each other in such a way that it honors me to be a part of it.
I even like that we have really bad days... days where we want to quit and throw in the towel. I like it because it makes us realize how incredibly human we are and how very much we need Jesus in the every day things... like finding the lost paperwork. having patience with the three crying babies and the tantruming toddler. making lunch for twelve. and cleaning up the same mess five times over. I like it because we are reminded daily to keep Him in every little bit of our lives. We are stretched and get to see the ugly parts of ourselves come out when we snap... and then we get to humbly ask for forgiveness. I like it because it's good for me. It forces me to get over myself and my issues. And that, is a very good thing.
There have been some beautiful changes here the last month or two. There is a new mother here who needed refuge and healing... She and her 18 month old daughter add to the beauty here in ways I cannot describe... and watching this woman begin to heal and laugh again is daily reminding me of the ridiculousness of grace.... There is a young college student here who has blessed this ministry in ways I cannot describe. She brings laughter to my soul and is such an encouragement and complete joy. There is a precious new little one year old boy who now spends his days with us as well. As always, it is a house overflowing :) And my is it good.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
To hold a baby who lives in a dirty apartment with two pieces of furniture and a mommy who has no car, no money, and no hope.... and feel her body relax in your arms knowing she is safe...
To talk with a man who used to only see black and white and has learned how to see gray... to watch his redeemed, transformed life touch so many....
To look and see someone precious to me walk a terrible road, one that will scar her and hurt her beyond what she is able to know.... and be able to do nothing about it....
To loose a friend to the lies of this world and the enticement of riches and power and sin..... and have to watch it destroy her.
To watch a mother who has done nothing but sacrifice her entire life for those she's loved be told she has a disease that will ravage her body and leave her with yet more pain.... and wish I could take it away.... only to watch her walk the road with such dignity and grace it takes my breath away.
This is why I havn't been writing.... there are simply no words. There are no words to descirbe the great suffering of so many of those I love..... and there are no words for the redemption and hope I see transforming lives and healing hearts. Nothing I could write could convey some of the conversations I've had or tears that have been shed. I am watching Jesus move in a way that both humbles and astounds me in the lives of people all around me. And yet, I am watching many choose the darkness in which they live over the life He offers and it is breaking my heart.
I'm taking long walks lately not because of the beautiful fall weather but because there is so much welling up in my heart I just have to go be with Him to speak with Him about it. I'm driving around late at night because prayers leave my lips with such passion and convition I'm not sure it's me speaking..... there is this burden in my heart I can not explain for the lost, the hurting, the broken, those who live a life of shame and brokenness and darkness....
There is something coming up in me.... something I have to step into... encounter... be changed by... I know it because the situations all around me speak so loudly of it that I simply cannot ignore the feeling that something is shifting in my life. Maybe it's the way I pray... the way I love... the way I speak... the people He lays sweetly into the heartbeat of my life. I don't know... but something is moving in me and I simply cannot explain it. I am moved by situations and people in a way I never have been before.... I hold the kids differently than I've ever held them.... look at them with new eyes almost... as my love for them just grows deeper and deeper with each passing day that I care for them.
Life is messy right now. There are moments I feel like God is bringing out all of the ugly in me so that He can convict and change me so I might become a better lover of those around me. I'm being compelled to speak up in situations where normally I would remain silent. I'm compelled to risk being a fool on the chance that it might bring Him glory. I'm seeing my flaws in a way that forces me to be raw and honest about who I really am.
Something is shifting... and I haven't had the words.... so if you are still here... and still reading... thank you.... because something is changing in me... and I'm glad your along for the ride.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Learning how to cloth diaper....
Cleaning like a madwoman....
Camping in the rain....
Making hotdish and other fun recipes... thank you Shelly!
basking in the lovely fallish weather...
doing laundry, changing diapers, making lunches, watching Dora and Baby Einstein, having a wonderful time with my husband, attempting to change-up my wardrobe, discovering my love of our new GPS, visiting friends who live on a lovely little farm, having a love affair with McCafe Iced Coffees, helping head up a young adults service at our church, cutting my hair, going out with girlfriends, reading up on the new health care proposal, attempting to return phone calls, organizing photographs, pulling weeds, and enjoying the last bit of summer. So, incase anyone is wondering... that's where I've been. And may continue to be for awhile... we'll see.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The death of my brother. Her marriage. My marriage. The death of her husband. The births of her children. The children in both our lives whom we both love so much. The defining moment in our life when we knew there had to be more than what we knew... what we'd been living in that moment. The days we fell madly in love with Jesus and never looked back. The women we used to be and the ones we've become. Her foster daughters and their children. The children I've worked with in the system. Oh, all of the children..... who'd etched their way into our lives. The places we've lived, and how much we've lived.
Some people live their life like classical music. We agreed that although we think classical music is both lovely and soothing, our lives are neither. Our lives are more like Rock n Roll. Crazy, unpredictable, wonderful, moving, groove to your own beat type of rock and roll. The kind of Rock and Roll that both makes you want to dance and cry... sometimes all at once. The kind that makes you feel wild and alive and free.
The moment Margy realized that there had to be more to life.... that she ached for it with everything that she was.... she was standing outside a bar... 19 and pregnant with her second baby. The moment I realized... I was sitting at a bonfire smoking a cigarette feeling the emptiness that was my life, surround me... and feeling so alone. And each of us are similar in the way that we have always felt pursued by God.... wooed by Him. We both felt the ache to know him deep within us. We both knew the loneliness... the hurt... the emptiness of not knowing Him. And ever since the day we handed our lives over.... Her at 19 and me at 16.... we've never looked back. Both of us, since that time, have felt called, pursued, and completely madly in love with our Jesus. And although we are twenty-some years apart in age... our lives feel so meshed together. Because we share the same love of our Jesus.... and the same crazy passion to live our lives to the fullest. We are both married to men who are the solid rocks in our lives... and whom have shown us the meaning of what it is to be faithful. Neither of us understand how you could find God's word boring, or prayer impersonal... Yes, we've wavered. Yes, we've felt far away and even fallen in our walks.... many times. Yes we are imperfect and human and don't go around hearing audibly from God all day long. But boring? Never. Impersonal? Never. Because this Jesus, this Grace, this Love, this Redemption... that so sweetly worked it's way into our lives has changed us, and we have never been the same.
And even when we've been unfaithful to Him... even when we've walked... even when we've sinned and fallen and missed his voice... even when the consequences have been painful and the hurt deep... we have always known one thing. God is committed even when we're not. God keeps covenant even when we don't. Somehow, he keeps wooing his people into this beautiful love... this incredible way of living that at times, leaves me breathless and so filled I feel like I'm spilling over.
As Margy and I spoke of all of our memories today... we asked a question that has plagued us both.. Why do some of us feel as if we've been wooed by God throughout the course of our lives and others struggle to feel as if they've ever heard Him? Why do we find it so easy to fall madly in love with Him while many struggle because they so badly want to know His love? Why is that? We know it isn't that we're special... that is certainly not the case. We most assuredly know we aren't holier or more repentant than most... nor are we more submissive or less rebellious. In fact I think both of us are a little more stubborn, more rebellious, and have lived past lives that were anything but holy and repentant. So, why us? Why on earth would someone like Him passionately pursue women like us... when there are so many who were saved at bible school when they were three and have been faithful their whole life but still struggle to feel as if they truly know Jesus.... struggle with whether or not they've heard His voice? I think the heart of our question was this...
Jesus why would you give women like us such beautiful, redeeming, passionate lives? Why would you bless us with such abundant love and faithful families? Why would you give us the incredible honor of raising up these children to be lovers of you?
The answer... I don't really know. I'll probably never know. All I know is he uses people... people like me... people like Margy... not because we're special... not because we're loving or patient or kind... but because we're His. And God is committed to His children.
That place I go... It's my place with Him... it's where we work through things... it's where I can safely tell Him my heart and hear His... It's the place of longing and love that He wooed me to at the tender age of sixteen... and the place He has never ceased to call me back to.
Jesus never stop wooing... never stop calling... never cease knocking at the doors of our hearts and opening our eyes. Oh that we could only love you how you have loved us.... Thank you for the seasons you've allowed us to walk through.. for they have shown us who you are.
Monday, July 27, 2009
So as much as I'd love to write about it... I'll wait until the words come.
Thanks for those of you still hanging in there.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
A month ago, we went back. This time it was to have a wedding reception... as most of his relatives missed our wedding because of a huge snowstorm. It's only been a year but this time we drove my minivan... with four carseats and smashed fishy crackers in the back (romantic I know...). And as we drove, I reveled in how much had changed in so little time. We went from two people in college with practically no worries and a little sports car-- to married in a minivan with a life that was full to the brim. We turned into two people with a house and a minivan and carseats and bills and jobs and children overflowing! Our home was cute and clean when we first got married... Now it's child and puppy proof. I drove a sporty little jeep and he drove a hot little two door sports car. Now I drive a minivan filled with carseats, sippy cups, and mashed food and we sold his sports car to get something we could fit more people in. He shared a dorm room with his best buddy and had a small circle of close friends and a fairly quiet life.... Now we have these crazy overflowing lives with new and wonderful people coming in nearly every week.
And you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world.
As I looked at the man I married driving that minivan my heart melted. This man has given everything for me.. his whole life... his whole way of life for that matter! And he has graciously extended his hand to every child I bring into it... every person I befriend. He has given up much of his guy stuff, his nice car, his peace and quiet, his ability to be completely care free..... and he has done it for one reason....me. His idea of heaven is me and the dog in a little cabin in the woods. He got me and a bunch of crazyness... (although I did have to cave on the dog). Micaiah has stood beside me through every tough choice, every child that has melted my heart, and he has given up much for me to watch my dreams come true.
When we decided to get married... I'll admit... we were a little naive. We both, in our own minds, thought we'd have this little fairytale.... and just live happily ever after. Because, I mean... isn't that the way it's "supposed to be." I mean there are plaques people hang in their homes with this saying on it... people get divorces because they are not living happily ever after... it's in every fairytale ever written... and almost every romance movie ever made. So, I don't think we were crazy for thinking that's exactly what it would be... A fairytale.
Well... let me welcome you to our unfairytale life.
I say that with no cynicism whatsoever. Can I be real here... as it is my blog?? We didn't ride off into the sunset to go live in our beautiful castle... we drove our minivan to my parents house where we live underneath them... because we decided me being with these kids was more important than me getting a "good" job so we could get a house. And no, not every day is happily ever after. Some days are hard days and some days are really good days... Some days we are sick and tired and cranky and some days we are crazy and full of laughter. We don't live with everything cozy and neat in our lives. Rather, we live in the midst of the messiness of life.... but you know what? We live. My do we live.
Because I'm crazy about that man and he is crazy about me. Because we never stop striving to help make each others dreams come true... even if it means sacrificing some of our own desires. Because sometimes "a hot date" for us... Is sitting on the couch watching The Office and eating eggrolls. Because even though we're married.. we will never stop dancing together to cheesy romance music. We live when we get up in the wee hours of morning together to take care of a two year old or scrub puppy poop out of the carpet. We live when we giggle in bed late at night not because of anything funny but out of pure exhaustion. We live because we allow each other to be both ridiculous and serious. We live when we're sitting in front of the campfire and say nothing for almost an hour... because nothing really needs to be said. We live.. because no matter how much we hurt each other or what we might have disagreed about that day.... we always kiss each other goodnight. We may not have the storybook fairytale... but the way my husband looks at me makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. We may not always be "happy" but we will hold each other's hand and weather the storm... together. There may not be a white horse and a princess gown.... but there is eggrolls and The Office... which comes pretty darn close.
Life.. is precious and unpredictable.. it is fragile.. and I don't ever want to take it for granted. I, for the record... love my minivan because it's a symbol of what is most important to me... I love that we live beneath my sweet parents because they have spent their life blessing me and I want to the spend the rest of mine returning the favor. I love that we traded getting things so that we could have a life full of people. And for the record... sometimes I even like the messiness of it all. I love knowing that whether something takes my breath away or shatters my heart, I'll be standing beside the same man I decided to marry when life was a little more simple. I love that my Jesus is the same now as he was then.
I wore my wedding dress to our reception in Watertown and broke it in two places, Micaiah and I and some good friends of ours toilet papered his cousins' house in the middle of the night as payback for what they did to our hotel room :-) We drove home in the minivan head bobbing in the wee hours of the night... trying to keep each other up. We rode horses at his grandparent's with our very best friends... We went to visit his grandmother who asked to touch my face so she could know what I looked like. We hugged people we hadn't seen in forever, we laughed, we played, we walked the beach at the lake... and we remembered what it means to pour out your life for the one you love.
"And they lived."
Monday, July 13, 2009
I held him... so close I could smell his sweet baby skin and feel his soft breath as he slept... safe in my arms. He was a child of the system, a child who'd been through and seen more than any child should. A child without someone to call mommy. A child who had suffered abuse and neglect at the very hands of those who were supposed to protect him and keep him safe. And as I held this sweet baby boy, praying over him...the tears were too many... the heartbreak too much.... And as I wept and prayed... my heart breaking for every little child like him.. without a mother.. a home.. a place to feel safe... I heard Him speak.
"This, is what I want you to spend the rest of your life doing...
Mother the children who have no mothers. Pray for the kids who have no one praying for them. Love them... unconditionally... without reserve and without fear of having to let go. And show them who I am..."
That sweet baby boy... at the tender age of one... forever changed my life. That night a longing was placed in me deeper than any I have ever known. And I knew that if I didn't pour myself into doing that... I would never know the richness life had for me. And honestly... I thought it would be years before I would see the dream that was birthed in my heart that night... actually come to pass.
Only six months later... (last July) I moved into Grace Refuge... and life hasn't looked the same since. Grace Refuge is a home that after much toil and prayer and believing in what they could not see... finally came to pass. It was built by Ted and Margy Johnson. Lovers of God who both lost their spouces to cancer and then met, fell in love, and began an incredible life together. Between the two of them they have eight children. Each of them have three of their own and together they have two adopted children. But beyond being the parents to their own children... Ted and Margy take in foster kids. Usually pregnant teenagers, sometimes teens who are already mothers.. and they extend their hands, their hearts, and their home to these girls and absolutly pour themselves into loving them. They have been a constant voice for those children who cannot speak for themselves and they have taken on the load of caring for those the system would rather forget. I have seen Margy fight for these girls... and it is amazing. Beyond all of that (as if it isn't enough) Ted and Margy run a college ministry and take in college students and mentor and minister to them by involving them in their family. They lead bible studies, have people over for dinner, take people in who need a place to stay.... They see a need in the body of Christ, or outside of it, and they fill it the best they can. When Margy asked me to move in I was taken right into their family. Which, at that time, was 3 teenage mothers (two of them pregnant), three small children, their adopted daughter, and me. Plus whoever might need a place to stay or a place to eat on that given day. It was chaotic, hard, beautiful and full of life. Margy also took care of her two grandaughers all day simply because she wanted to have an influence in their lives.
I simply cannot do this woman justice with words. Margy is a mighty woman of God with a heart that is so big and real and full of life it makes me stand in awe. She herself was a pregnant teen and has an incredible story of God's redemption in her life and she has truly poured out her story and her life as one of the most beautiful daily acts of worship I have ever seen.
Margy and I quickly found a kindred spirit in each other. Because although we'd known each other for years.... there is something about getting your hands dirty together every day that forms a unique bond between two women called to be mothers of many.
About a month of two after I moved in... the saying "If you build it, they will come." became a reality in our lives. One of Margy's nieces who is a single mom moved in and needed someone to take care of her daugher... so we did. Then another niece who was a single momma with three kids lost her childcare assistance... and needed someone to care for her children... so we did. My sister had a baby... and the daddy decided he wasn't ready to be a father... So we took in my precious niece Madi. And pretty soon we found ourselves surrounded by many small children. And a bond was formed between us that is one of the strongest I have ever known. And I don't even remember how we decided to do this... What I do remember is looking at each other one day and saying. "Maybe we should start a daycare." We laughed hysterically as there were like already eleven children running around us that day. I went to a meeting... and about a hundred batches of paperwork later... They gave us a license to do what we were doing. Which has baffled so many county workers it astounds me...
Apparently people don't usually just take in chidren... they do things like draw up contracts, figure out hourly prices, and such things. Apparently there is a limit to how many of these lovely little fireballs you can care for at once. Apparently, we're completely nuts! At least if I had to gage it by the looks of the people who walks in the front door daily and is assalted by many small children, and whatever else may be going on that given day. Apparently when people build seven bedroom four bathroom homes they don't usually fill all of the rooms to the brim and need to buy a supersize table just to feed the people who dwell there. Go figure.
So, there is no good way to describe this place. It is a melting pot of ministries. For me, it's a friendship with a woman I love dearly... and many children who teach me so much about the love of Jesus it astounds me. For me its community, doing laundry, dishes, praying together, loving together, giving grace to each other, grieving with each other, and walking with each other through all that life throws in our paths. Honestly, Grace Refuge is simply a home filled with very real believers who are imperfect and flawed... but live surrounded by the grace of God and each other.
I think our hope is that the callings we have recieved in our lives will be fulfilled. Our hope is that each person who walks out of this home might know Jesus... or at least have seen a glimpse of Him in this place. Our prayer is that in our imperfections and our humanness... these kids might see Him. I've always wanted a big house filled with people I could pray with, do laundry with, make dinner with, and just live my life with. I love community because I feel like it is where I see life lived the way I believe God intended us to live is... And although there are days when Margy and I look at each other like we're crazy... there is simply no other way we know how to live.
Back to the little boy who changed my life.
The kids I care for daily at Grace Refuge are by no means the end to the story... rather, they are God's sweet beginning into molding me into who I know I need to become.... When Micaiah and I first met, one of the first things he asked me before we began dating was "Are you okay with adopting." A smile creeped across my face... and I replied with "Are you okay with adopting many?" We know that eventually we will do foster care of our own... that we will adopt children of our own... and we are believing for a home very much like Ted and Margy's. This is just the beginning... we are blessed because we are allowed to be part of what they do and who they are. I am so blessed because they open up their home for me to use with these kids. I am so blessed to be able to call them dear friends who have played an irreplaceable role in my life. That little boy began a new season... one I love very much. One that will continue to the rest of my life.
There is so much more to the story... but that, well, thats my small part of all that God does here. That is the song of my life.. sung to the tune of holding babies, play play dough, doing laundry and dishes, and reveling in how good life lived in community can be. For now, this is the part God has called me to play, and I do not take it lightly. In fact, sometimes when I stand back and just watch them grow and learn I am humbled that God would allow me to even be part of this incredible place. We truly stand in His grace here each and every day.
P.S. If you have commented, thank you. It has truly blessed me to know that a sort of community is beginning on this blog...
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
"Excuse me Maam" she says in that no nonsense tone that tells me I don't really want to hear whats coming next.
"Yes?" I said smiling as widely as I could knowing she was about to tell me one of my little angels had done something she thought severe enough to get my attention.
"Did you know your little girl is spitting at the other children and on all of the equipment?"
I look over at Rorie who is indeed making quite the puddle of spit as well as thouroughly enjoying giving everyone who comes her way a nice little shower. Then I look at the woman with a scowl on her face and nearly spit my beloved little drink all over her when I start to laugh hysterically.
"Uh... um... I'm so sorry about that." I say trying to contain myself as I go up to Rorie and tell her to stop.
Rorie looks at me, smiles, and spits again. So I grab her and we have our little battle as the prim and proper no nonsense lady gives me that look.
Then sweet 2 yr. old little Vaeh says loudly. "Don't worry Gorie! I woll wipe it wit my shurt!" So she takes her shirt and wipes up the puddle (I'm not kidding it was a puddle) of spit on the slide and then comforts Rorie. "There Gorie, all better!" I laugh and give the no nonsense lady a little smile and attempt to dry off Vaeh's no soaked little tee-shirt. No nonsense lady walks away unamused and keeps her grandchilden as far away from my brood as possible and we continue to play happily for another half hour with very few spit attacks.
And although this happend awhile ago... for some reason the Lord keeps brining it to my mind lately. I'm beginning to think I know why.
A week or so ago, my husband and I were spit on. Not literally but with words.. really nasty, disrespectful, hurtful, threatening words. Only I didn't feel as gracious as Vaeh. I just felt wronged. I wanted to throw some words back, write a letter, cut off all contact, get a restraining order... I wanted something to show this individual that what they had done was indeed very very wrong! But for one week I did and said nothing as the Lord (and my sweet husband) worked on my not so gracious heart. Then yesterday and today this story kept coming back to my mind.
Vaeh didn't care that the spit was not her own, nor that she would have to get her shirt all yucky to wipe it up. She saw Rorie getting in trouble and she wanted to cover for her... take it upon herself to make it better... make it right.. even though Rorie could care less. Her love for Rorie took cover and righted the wrong.
I wish I could say that because I love Jesus it's easy to forgive someone who spits on me.... It's not.
I wish I could say that turning the other cheek makes you feel holy and like you are being a better person.... sometimes getting your cheek slapped just plain hurts.
I wish I could tell you that I would gracoiusly offered my shirt to wipe up the nasty, biting words with no thought at all..... It took me a lot of thought.
What I can say is that I would rather wipe up the spit than spit back. I would rather offer mercy over judgement, kind words over hateful ones, and cover the offence with love rather than spit.
Because love covers over a multitude of sin... or spit... however you want to look at it.
Thanks for the reminder sweet Vaeh.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It was late at night... really late. And we were lost... really lost. Somwhere south of the Mexican boarder past Tiajuana and on our way to Reynosa. I barely knew her then but she'd immediatly found a place in my heart--there was something about her that was real. Her heart was real and she cared about people in this rare way that I found beautiful. We were talking about growing up and the lives we'd lived. We were talking about what we were about to do... what we were going into. We shared a love of the unknown and a sense of adventure and since that night we have spent much of our years apart, on different continents at times... but what we shared that night grew a friendship that has remained.
I know that I don't remember her exact words and I know I won't do them justice here but this is how I remember them, in my own heart... and how they profoundly impacted me.
"Have you ever just... been in tears in the middle of the night and reached out your hand to Him and needed Him so badly to just grab on? Wanted Him so badly to just take your hand?" she asked me her eyes full of a deep longing I knew far too well.
"Yes...." was all I could manage to answer.
"I've done that so many times...." she told me..
This precious girl was breaking my heart.
Partly because at that point in her life she was walking a difficult road... and partly because I knew exactly how she was feeling...... Mostly because it was healing to know that somoene else felt that ache...
We have been friends ever since. More than that, she has become like a sister to me. This precious woman has seen me at my very worst and my very best and loved me the same through the whole journey. We have seen each other off to college, and then to foreign countries... seperated for months at a time. We have seen each other fall in love, seen each others hearts break and seen them heal. We have shed many tears over lost dreams and aching hearts. We have shared each others darkest secrets and deepest pain. Together we have traveled to dark places and seen beautiful light shine through. We have seen the sun rise and set in many places together and apart. We have lived life together and we have seen His hand reach down and touch the lives of so many.
Yet, on so many occasions I remember her words... and the truth they held for me. Sometimes, in the middle of the night I still reach up my hand... tears falling... and ask Him to just take it and lead the way. The things is, I know He's never once let go.
But has anyone else been there?
Have you ever just reached out your hand?
What I'ved loved about this precious woman from the very beginning is that she was honest... raw... real. She wasn't afraid of baring her soul and her questions. She wasn't afraid to ask where God was in the midst of the mess. What I loved most about her and love still is that she continues to reach up her hand. And even when she doesn't understand why she's been called or what she has to give she extends her hand.... to anyone who comes along.
She has touched the lives of many orphans with the work she has accomplished in the country of Haitii, she has helped in the physical healing of many by translating for medical mission groups, she has put her heart on the line, her life at risk, and her hand has touched so many. She has literally followed the call to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and comfort the brokenhearted. And she would be absolutly embarressed if she knew I was writing about how wonderful she was. Because she sees herself as flawed and completely human. And there is no doubt she is. But she is also extraordinary.
Because she has never stopped reaching up her hand.
At dinner this past week we laughed and we talked and we got so brutally honest it hurt. We were real about all of our flaws and all of our issues and all that we were currently walking through. But the best part about it was that there was no pretending... we wore no vail... we hid no secret. And as I looked across the table at her that night in Mexico came flooding back. We have come so far since then... but there are still days... still moments when I know both of us feel like those girls lost in uncharted territory talking about reaching out our hands.
We lead such different lives now. Most of the time we even speak different languages and live in different countries. But we are always connected by one thing.
Our desire to know his hand in our lives.
There was a day a couple of months ago when I sat on the office floor at Grace Reguge and literally wept because I felt so unqualified for what I'm doing... felt so unqualified for these kids.. felt so unable to give them what they need and love them how they need to be loved. I felt so unqualified to be the one teaching them about Jesus. And that day... without even thinking... I reached up my hand.
And this truth opened my heart.
No one has ever been qualified.
And even the people we look at as incredible... even the people we look at and long to be like. Even people who have touched countless lives... people like Lauren... don't always feel incredible.
Because deep down inside we know we fall so short. Deep down is there any one of us that doesn't feel just a little lost and in uncharted territory? Is there anyone of us who doesn't reach up their hand, or their heart, or their hope.... or their prayers? If you do anything where you attempt to reach out your hand and show someone Jesus don't you feel just a little unqualified?
Because I do.
Every moment of every day of my life.
But what Lauren made me realize long ago still holds true.
He never asked me to be qualified. He just asked that I reach up my hand.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"Write it down, the funny things, the little things, the hard things, the lessons you learn day to day, the moments that seem small, write them down.. because you think you'll remember--trust me, you wont."
So, I guess it was that simple. The tug on my heart that convinced me how much I need to write again... for me. Because as far back as I can remember, writing has been a passion, but more than that, a place where I can convey all of the little things, even if it's for the sole purpose of coming to understand how I feel or where I'm at with something.
So, welcome to the beginning of this blog and the story that will be written here. I guess I'll just start from there (the beginning that is).
Hi, I'm Kayla. Kayla Becker. And if you're reading this, let me just say it's my pleasure to meet you. I'm married to Micaiah, wonderful, God-given just when I needed him Micaiah. We have been married six beautiful months and known each other less than two years. But what you should know, is that those years have been two of the most life-giving, wisdom gaining, eye-opening years of our lives. And we feel blessed to share the life we do, even when it's messy.
And sometimes, it's messy. Becuase our life is full of people. And people get messy. I spend my days at Grace Refuge with eight amazing kids. And to sum up what I do there would be impossible but you'll learn about how I went from majoring in elementary education and living a quiet little life to spending my days with these eight precious fire-ball's over the course of these pages. My husband spends his days doing more than I can truly imagine. To sum it up he is the hardest worker I know and has one of the most sincere hearts of anyone I've ever met. And he truly spends his days investing all of himself in me, in the kids, in the people he loves. He spends his days pouring himself out in every way he can (and in the midst of that he works two jobs and is in school full time too). I used to have this joke with my best friend Leah (you'll meet her here too) that my husband would have to put up with an incredibly "lived in" house full of people, five kids sleeping between us, and lots of hilarious chaos. Well, we're six months in and not too far from achieving the reality of that joke. We have an amazing life... and it's not a fairytale... it's not perfect... and we are so far from having it all together that it's not even funny, but it's ours. And I guess my greatest hope is that in the words that I'll write you'll see the God we serve and the Jesus we've fallen in love with. My prayer is that the more I write, the less you'll see of me, of us, of "our" life.... and the more you'll just see Him. Because at the end of the day... this really isn't "our story" it's the one He's writing for us, and I just have the pleasure of sharing it.
So welcome. To our life, our messiness, our good days and bad days, our hardships and "ah-ha" moments, and more than anything... welcome to the love we've known and hope we have.
Thanks for being here.