Friday, April 27, 2012

For the Fatherless

Did you grow up with a man to whom you cannot even grant the title father? When you think about the deep hurts and heartaches of your life, do you see the man whose genes and curse you bear?
Do you know that you are not alone? Actually wherever you are today…out to dinner, at a movie, standing in line at Walmart—half of the women around you can speak the same story. Coming from that place myself, let me tell you there is hope and freedom—only in Christ Jesus.
I often write about my daddy issues like over HERE, over HERE, over HERE and over HERE. Mostly because I think too many girls know the horrific pain, apart from the transformational hope. The church fails to meet the need, more often then acknowledging it. But men and women who fear the Lord—there is an overwhelming need of daughters without dads. And I guarantee they are sitting next to you in the pew every week.  
When I was a little girl, my dad did not protect me. When I was a young girl, my dad hurt me. When I was a teenage girl, my dad taught me I could not trust men. As a woman today, I am a mess!
Since knowing Him, God has strategically surrounded me with men who fear Him—and love me as He does. Yet the wounds from my past run deep, infection spreading to many areas of life, areas which I am yet to fully identify. I suppose He had the plan all along—He knew I needed gentleness and the flipping of the calendar in the way fatherly figures would pursue me. But then, at the age of twenty-one, He decided it was time for me to actually live beneath the very authority from which I have spent a lifetime running.
I just have to laugh. Laugh until I cry is more like it.
I watch the way he serves his wife, the way he disciplines his children because his love for them drives him to action. I watch him work hard to provide for his family, then come home and raise his boys while holding his girls’ hearts all at once. I notice the way he pursues his woman, honoring her in his thought and deed. I know that he fears the Lord more then anything else, and this is the only authority in his life. I know that by the grace of God in his life alone, he is different from the man whose genes I carry. So why is it so incredibly hard to believe it?
As I begin to see my heavenly Daddy through the lens of my spiritual one, the enemy continues prowling at the door, a roaring lion, ready to attack.
He tells me not to allow this adopted dad into my life. Fearful, my heart still jumps in my chest when he gives me a side-hug goodnight along with the rest of his daughters. I get so mad at myself too. I often think to myself—how could you, in your great power and love, still allow me to crumble in the consequences of decisions that were not even mine? Daddy, will you ever heal my brokenness?
Yet little do I notice, as the weeks and months pass, in the process of being made new, with great patience the way this spiritual mom and dad love me and protect me and counsel me is piercing through the stone in my heart. Sometimes I find myself wanting a hug goodnight. Though I often expect to be hurt upon making myself vulnerable as I hesitate to reveal my sin, fears, insecurities—he doesn’t hurt me. Actually, he often unloads the weight from my weary soul. That scares me too---is this also God’s desire in my life? Often times I find myself quiet, fearful of saying too much, requiring too much attention. When I do speak though, he is attentive and seems interested, even in the silly little things that don’t require deep conversation. Sometimes, I really just want to listen to him—to gather around the table and talk about the day, about life, about anything.

The Lord is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Ps. 103:13

I am learning that so often I still see the Lord through this lens of my earthly dad. I know that He is not him, but I can’t help it. My adopted dad—he is wrecking all of that. Just by allowing me to come beneath his authority and his home, day after day he is peeling back layer upon layer of hurt, deception, and a perverted view of my Heavenly Daddy. As I begin to trust him little by little, my trust in and desire to proclaim the love of Christ is changing my world. I am in awe of God’s grace in my life that he would choose me, allow me for this season of time to draw closer to Himself, to the true and undefiled Him, through relationship with this father he has provided in His grace alone, for me. Even as I soak in this picture, I know my heavenly Father’s love so intimately, more so then before.

There is power in the way I am becoming aware of the perversion which the enemy has built up over the years, in the way I have consistently, subconsciously, sometimes unknowingly known and related to my Heavenly Daddy through the lens of my earthly one
So, here I am an adult woman, with this adopted dad who protects me, who loves the hurt right out of me, who is restoring trust. I sit and write as the tears flow, seeing the Father’s faithfulness in spite of me overwhelms.  
I do not understand the process. All I know is that you don’t get from point A to point Z in a day—in a year. This season, I am working on point A to point B. And that is about all I can handle. Which of course, the LORD knows—and never will He give you or me more then we can handle, yet always He will provide a way out for us to stand up beneath. That is GOOD NEWS. Hello GRACE, oh how my dependency is in you. I will submit to the PROCESS!!

Ask the Lord will provide you a spiritual dad to fill in the gap. Pursue it. Practice submitting to the authority of a God-fearing couple. It is so freeing, even for a control-freak like me! Do life with them. There is only so much us fatherless women can learn from a book. Ask that God would reveal areas which your view of Him is not accurate. Trust that He is the perfect Father--He will never fail you or forsake you. Stand on guard against the enemy. Praise the King, that He has overcome the world!! Rest in the process...little by little, all in His grace and patience. 
27“I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
                                                                                             Exodus 23:27-30

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grace in South Asia

2nd most populous country in the world.

That's over 1.21 billion people.
Which is more than a sixth of the world's population.

Living in one country.
Out of these 1.21 billion people, 2.3% of the population are professing Christians.

Over 33 million gods captivate the attention of 97.7% of these 1.21 billion souls.

And I sit and wonder...why NOT me? Why was I born here, the land of the free? Couldn't that be me living in a slum with a choice of 33 million gods to worship, no knowledge of the one ture God? How is it that in His GRACE He is allowing me to know His Word? To know Him freely? At very little cost to me in the grand scheme of things. I mean, it's not like I consider the value of my life every time I open His Word.

I don't know why. I just know that GRACE has been lavished upon me, so what more can I do but preach the Gospel of Grace to this work-driven people. So I learn, that with GRACE, comes a weighty responsiblity to preach it.

Right now somewhere on the other side of the world, a man is waiting. He is praying and trusting in the God of the universe who places food on his table each day. He is anticiapting the month of May. For at that time, a team of beleivers from America will arrive in his small village. He knows their prescence will come with Truth and encouragement. He anticipates and He prays.

Whether we are born into the slums of South Asia or right here in the US, our sinful nature instists that we can make our way to God but GRACE says we don't have to.

I've been hunkered down in Galatians the past several weeks. Galatians Ch. 1:15-16 reads:
"But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being."

God set Paul apart from birth...called him by grace...but why?? SO THAT I MIGHT PREACH HIM AMONG THE NATIONS. Why was Paul saved? Why did God shower GRACE on Paul? Obviously, it's not like he deserved it! He did it so that Paul would be a proclaimer of GRACE to the nations...not for him to just sit in a pew and soak in it. Private relelation for public communication.

I am excited to go overseas and testify to God's GRACE in my life, speaking the gospel message through my story as I stand before the church. I am excited to interact with a body who knows the reality of working to reach God all too well. I am humbled to speak a message of GRACE to a cuture so driven by works. After all, that is Hinduism--working to earn favor in the eyes of all these gods.

Instead of striving for perfection, this is what I must understand personally. This is the messasge I will preach. Pray they will have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Beloved, you are free. You don't have to work anymore. I've got good news: He has made His way to YOU!! He is not one of 33 million gods, He is the ONE true Lord God and He has made His way to you and you dont have to do anything. No matter what your past looks like, no matter what you were struggling with at 2 o' clock this morning, the reality is this: YOU ARE FREE BY THE GRACE OF CHRIST. He is pleased with you based soley on you identification in Him.

He has  removed your sins as far as the East is from the west. He remembers your sins no more. He cleanses you of all unrighteousness. He makes you a chosen people, a royal preisthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God who once did not have mercy and now you have mercy. not based on your desire or effort, but based on the desire and effort of God. He has pursued His way to you. Mercy has come running to you and you are free by His GRACE. By His GRACE you are free--and that is good news.
As I prepare to head overseas in several weeks, this is the message God is revealing. Oh Lord, help me learn to soak in GRACE, let it flow through the depths.

Friday, April 13, 2012

City Girl Gone Country

I have always been a city girl. My early days were spent dressing Barbies, dining with my dolls, and teaching my Beanie Babies arithmatic. I loved riding my bike in the neighborhood, walking to school, and even eating dinner out on the deck every once in a while. But that is about the extent of my childhood outside of the AC or heat provided by four walls.

One summer, I got sent off to girl scout camp with my best friends for a week. The first night there I wept and wept at the thought of a spider creeping into my bed or a mosquito chomping away at my flesh. The tears didnt stop that whole week. Nothing about a week with nature much appealed to me, even as a young girl. My grandma still keeps the notes of desperation I sent her that week--pleas to come and get me. I missed my family of course, but more then anything I missed the comfort of the four walls that seperated me from the great out doors. I missed running water, food without dirt, and a clean-scented bed.

Even after coming home scarred from that experience, I never questioned my hatred of the great outdoors. My mom embraced the world of makeup, fashion, and cleanliness more then I have ever been able to mimic, yet undoubtedly her practices engrained themselves into my little girl heart as well.

I just have to laugh at the fact that God has birthed a dream and vision in my heart which would fully require not only a contentment with, but a confidence and fondness for the great outdoors in the future. I can see the sweetness of newness as a result of His resurection even in this area of my life. All things made new.

Perhaps it is a season of prepration in more ways then ever could have prayed for, then, or perhaps just ironic that at the age of 21 God would move me to the middle of no-where Arkansas, atop a mountain with winding dirt roads brushed with chickens, cows, goats, horses, country dogs and dirt---dirt everywhere. Oh and bugs. Lots of bugs. Snakes too. Either way, I want to formally intorduce you to this city girl gone country.

I have to say, despite all the things I dislike and fear outside of those four walls, just learning to step out that door I have found unfathomable freedom in His creation. The sights are breathtaking. The air is cleaner. The stars are radiant. The peace and quiet transcends my understanding. The pace is restful. The work is purposeful. The sun peirces the coolness of my ever-wondering soul. The prayers naturally plummet from my lips. Sometimes, the wind swirls around my whole body and I know that He is God. I am falling in love with the country--and with my Savior--in ways that I never imagined possible.

He is so faithful. Faithful to renew my mind in His word. Faithful to meet all of my needs. Faithful to adopt me and call me by a NEW name. Faithful to provide a home in the country. Faithful to provide a God-fearing father and mother, teaching nine little hearts to love Him and fear Him as well. My Father is Faithful.

The Snakes are everywhere, so I learned how to shoot a gun.

Fred the frog

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter in the Country

He has Risen! He has Risen indeed!!

This Easter I was blessed to have my adopted family host six of my international friends and an American friend for lunch and some time in the country. It was one of the sweetest things to watch this family welcome my friends into their home just like they have so graciously welcomed me.

The girls congregated in the kitchen hosting while the guys settled in the living room in deep conversation. The leader of the home did not hesitate in beginning gospel-centered conversation with the guys from Egypt. It was a moment I will never forget...walking back and forth from the kitchen to the living room drinks in hand, just hearing Him speak Truth over these boys...and of course they loved him instantly. He really has a way with internationals--it's something I really admire.

All eighteen of us gathered around the table to feast and talk. Michelle did an incredible job preparing the food and making everyone feel so welcome. I love her desire to open up her home and welcome anyone and everyone. she has a true gift. At the end of the lunch, I got to offer Easter baskets to my friends, filled with chocolate and some gospel-minded additions too. Then we headed outside for a bit, racing around on four-wheelers and getting a big group picture to remember this day, this day which we celebrate our Risen Savior.

I know God moves in powerful ways and I continue to pray that my international friends will know Him intimately in the month to come before they leave. Regardless of the timing, I am continually seeing the Spirit move in my time with them, and I am trusting Him more and more to do the work, instead of being so dependent upon myself. Sometimes I wish I could just shake them until they "got it"--I wish I could be the Holy Spirit. Then I realize I defiantly don't want that job. So if I can't do it, then all that's left is it remaining faithful to the One who can--and HE REALLY CAN!! Trusting that even if I never see the fruit, perhaps a seed is planted.

I know that Resurrection Sunday was a powerful testimony to a gracious God who loves each of us so much that He gave His Son to die on a cross, but He didn't stay there. He rose again that we might know He is Lord, that we might know the same resurrection from death to new life with Him. I know my friends listened to that message and I pray that they would have ears to hear.

Mummy and daughters
My little sisters :)

Both of my daughters learned how to drive the 4-wheelers!!

Boys vs. Girls

I never get tired of looking at this beauty.

Being goofy.
Kevin and Mike going out for a ride!
The little boys absolutely adored the older boys.
Daughter and I making goofy faces.

So thankful for this family...these friends...and our Risen Savior.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Season of Resurrection

Just as Christ from the grave, this season has birthed new life into the depths of my being. Praise His glorious name for new life.
This is a season of the dying coming to life. Of the wilted springing up. Of the old becoming new.

As I step out the door, the captivating scent of new life floods my nostrils. As I look back and forth, I see colors anew. As I feel the cool breeze brush my tanning skin, I can feel Him clothing me with newness.

I love spring. I love the newness He brings to my spirit as I witness everything around me changing from ashes to beauty; it so parallels His work in my heart these days.  

I CRAVE the sunshine beating across my skin, just like I CRAVE His Word alone.

I DRIVE just so I can feel the cool air wrestle my hair, just like I DRIVE so that I can come to Him in praise and endless conversation.

 I RUN as my feeble body is retrained to obey discipline, just like I RUN as the teaching of His Word feeds my thirsty spirit.

I WRITE to maintain sanity, just like I WRITE that His grace might be magnified over my insanity.

I SOAK in the time I have with this family of 11, just like I SOAK in learning how to serve in my role as a woman in the house and outside of it.

I LOVE my “daughters” through the heartaches, just like I LOVE hearing the Spirit speak in the midst of it all.  

I JUMP on a plane to South Asia in 5 weeks, just like I JUMP in excitement at the thought of taking His Word to the ends of the earth.  

I FEEL the death falling to my feet, just like I FEEL Him filling me with new life. 

I SEE my sin with more hatred then ever before, just like I SEE the grace He died to lavish upon me with more dependency then ever before. 

I REST in the victory of this season, just like I REST in the victory of my RISEN SAVIOR!!!  

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
                                                                                                                 Philippians 3:10-12