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Missionary Life

Growth Journey Missionary Life

Resting in Home

November 15, 2017

As I write this post, I sit in the middle of a food court surrounded by people who look slightly different than I do all speaking a language that is not my native tongue. But today I don’t feel like a fish out of water but rather someone who is at home.

Most days I am the only pale face in the group. Sometimes I get lots of stares especially in places I’ve never been. It can be a little unnerving. But it can also be hilarious.

Sunday night, as we sat around a table eating fish for our Christmas dinner with the artisans, I realized how at home I felt.

Do you know how beautiful of a feeling that is?

It may be one of the most wonderful feelings in the world—belonging. Knowing right here in this moment right where you are is where you belong. I’ve struggled so long with that. I’m sure I’ll struggle with it again in the future but today I’m resting in this peace of coming home.

Resting in the peace that home looks different for us all. Resting in the fact that for some of us, our moment is in the car pool line. Others in the office. Others in Honduras. But God uses each of our moments. Nothing is lost on Him.

Because there’s a mom in that car pool line that needs to know Jesus and you are the person to share Him, not the person in Honduras. There’s a client on the phone who needs prayer and you are the person to pray, not the mom. There’s a brother who needs a ride to the hospital over mountainous roads and you are the person to give that ride, not the person in the office. Our moments are beautiful. They are each needed and perfect.

They are where we belong because ultimately if we are seeking Him in genuine, we are in the center of His will. We are home.

In a few short hours, we’ll board a plane to the USA where we’ll be for the holidays. It will be a good time. A sweet time with family. But already in my heart of hearts, I know I’ll be ready to come home by the end of it, maybe before.

Because this, Honduras, is home now.

The truth is I’m not sure I would have dreamt this life for myself but our Father knows so much better than we do.

His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways are higher than our own.

Some days we curl up in a ball crying for home but sometimes when morning comes we realize, we’re already there.

We’re already home.

Growth Journey Missionary Life

I never wanted easy.

October 27, 2017

Last night, Ever and I were driving back from picking up some scarves from the El Cacao co-op. It was almost completely dark except for the lights coming from the truck and the occasional light post. As we bounced along that muddy mountain road with people in the back of the truck catching a ride into town, I realized this was what I had always wanted.

I never wanted easy. I just wanted to say “YES” to Jesus.

It’s no secret this has been a very difficult year. It’s been full of heartache and hardship, disappointment and broken relationships, closed doors and hurt. But last night in that truck, something began to stir in my heart.

Or maybe it was earlier in day. My SoloHope partner-in-crime, Ashley, and I were talking about writing an end of the year letter to supporters. We both felt a bit stumped because we have been overwhelmed by the “hard” of this year. After I got off the phone with Ashley, I begin to think over this year and yes, it did not go as planned and tears were shed often but I began to realize we have been right where God wanted us.

This morning, it was as if one thing after another was confirming this realization to my heart. I read Kristen Welch‘s blog (y’all, this gal gets me!) and she opened with…

“Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, this is what God has for you?  That this hard place, this battle, this struggle, this pit –it’s exactly where He wants you to be?”

Y’all, oh my goodness, my heart could have just exploded when I read that. This year has not been a failure. It has been exactly where God has asked us to be! We have been in the center of His will.

As I begin to realize this fully, my heart is overflowing with joy. No, seriously–overflowing! I’ve texted a mini-book to Ashley and am awaiting a call with my mom.

In James 1:2-3, it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 

Consider it pure joy, friends! I can honestly say that up until last night, I have not considered the hardships of this year pure joy. And in the midst of the hurt, the disappointments, the slammed doors, the drained bank accounts, the broken relationships, the failed plans, it is very difficult to consider it pure joy. But look what Raechel Myers says in this She Reads Truth devotional,

“James tells us not to be so hasty to escape the faith-testing valleys because those valleys contain the fertile soil needed to produce steadfastness.” 

Have you ever considered that the valleys contain fertile soil for spiritual growth?

As I look back over this year of valleys, I know it has taught me much. I know there has been growth. And I also know it has broken me. But as Ashley texted me after my mini-book text, “Our brokenness isn’t a hindrance to His plan. It doesn’t keep His purpose from being fulfilled.” Perhaps even, it enables it.

Because then, at the end of ourselves, we know there is no other we can trust fully, not even ourselves. Only Him.

This year has been exhausting. I have been tired and humbled. I have been broken and frustrated. But now, y’all, I can see. I can see that this year wasn’t a failure. I can see God answered my childhood prayers to live in the “olden days.” I can see He provided all that I needed. I can see He didn’t have me walk this journey alone. I can see His perfect timing in giving me a husband. I can see He has been training me this year. I can see that He sees me. And I can see that I’ve never been out of His sight. I can see that I have been right where He wanted me–in His will.

Sometimes it has felt like I couldn’t see Him but y’all, He never lost sight of me. Never. Not once.

And He hasn’t lost sight of you.

The valleys are hard. But even in the valleys, He is there.

Current Issues Missionary Life Women

I’m sorry.

October 20, 2017

I’m sorry. Truly I am.

You never should have had to go through what you did today but especially not what you went through on Tuesday.

I’m so so sorry.

My mind has swirled with emotion today. As I sat waiting for you as you spoke to the police, the doctors, the psychologists, I raged with anger and cried with hurt. It’s not right. I have questioned God why He allowed this to happen. And I’ve wished I could turn back time and make it go away. I wish I could say it was the first time I’ve heard this story but it’s not. It is a story that unfortunately is far too common.

I’m sorry that you too now have to say #metoo.

I’m sorry he stole your peace. Thankfully you fought, you kicked, you screamed and you escaped but you felt violated because you were. He tried to take something you didn’t want to give. He waited for you as you walked down the road. He attacked you.

Dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry it will be so hard now to walk alone without fear.

Today you shook nervously as you recounted the horrible events that took place Tuesday. Tears poured down your face. This asshole trespassed on your soul and you were so visibly shaken. When he ripped your shirt away from you, he might as well have been ripping your heart wide open to bleed.

And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we live in a world so full of hate and evil. I’m sorry that a man would try to force himself upon you. I’m so sorry that sin has left an evil stain on this world that some refuse to clean with the blood of Jesus. Instead they allow the sickness of their soul to grow into a deep nasty black mark on their hearts that allows them to only see themselves and not the ones they are hurting.

Oh dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.

But I’m also proud. Proud of you. You stood up to him today. You quite possibly stopped him from doing this to another woman or child. You spoke up.

Even though it was so hard. You did it.

He tried, my friend. He tried to destroy you but you didn’t let him. I know it will take time until you feel whole again but you will.

You will.

We serve a God who comforts. And draws us close. He didn’t leave you on Tuesday. As you hurt, He hurt. As you felt the world as you knew begin to crumble, He was in the midst of the ruins mourning the loss too. But our God rebuilds. He restores what the enemy tries to steal from us. He will restore you.

Don’t give up, my sister. Rest. Cry. Hurt. But don’t give up.

You are a mighty woman. You are a force to reckoned with. You are strong. And you will rise again from these ruins.

You will rise.

It’s a promise. Not from me but from God our Father.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

 

Friends, I ask for you pray for a dear friend of mine who this week has gone through hell. I wish her story was an isolated one but it is not. As more and more women and men feel empowered through the #metoo movement, to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, support these individuals. Speaking out is not easy.

If you have yourself have experienced sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, know you are not alone. Know it was not your fault. Know you can speak out. Know people will support you. Know you can get help. And know you will rise again. 

Journey Missionary Life

Invited.

October 10, 2017

Roni is the guard of our “gated community.”

Now being a guard entails making the rounds a few times a day on foot, carrying a gun (or a machete) and of course, his most important job, lifting the gate. Yep–up, down, up, down, making life easier for us lazy car drivers.

We’ve gotten to be friends with Roni. He’s a hard worker. He loves his family. And he loves Jesus.

Last week, when we got back from church, we invited him to come join us for supper. It’s become somewhat of a normal thing for us now to invite Roni over to eat when we’re home for a meal and it’s his shift but last Sunday was different.

It was different because Roni shared something with us that left my mouth on the floor.


As we all talked over some yummy barbecue chicken, he told us that we were the only people in the whole “colonial” that invited him to sit at their table to eat.

What?!

I was a little confused and thought maybe I had misunderstood. No one had ever invited Roni into their homes to share a meal? That couldn’t be right. He has worked as a guard here for over two years. But he confirmed it again.

Our home was the only home he had ever been welcomed into to share a meal as a friend, as an equal.

It’s one of the ugly sides of Honduras–classes. Unspoken but they are definitely there.

As we talked on, Roni shared a story he had heard from a pastor in San Pedro Sula. The pastor shared about a rich man who was told the Lord was coming to visit him. The man prepared his home and a yummy meal for his Lord. A sick old man stopped by and asked for something to eat but the rich man said “I’m sorry, I can’t give you anything because I’m waiting for my Lord.” Then a poor child in rags knocked on the rich man’s door and asked for something to eat. The rich man repeated the same, “I’m sorry, I can’t give you anything to eat because I’m waiting for my Lord.” It got later and later and still the Lord had not come to the rich man’s home. He thought perhaps he had confused the hour so he gave his Lord a call. The Lord told him, “I’ve already come by twice and you refused me both times.”

Isn’t that just what the Scriptures teach? That when we serve one of the least of these, we are serving Him. Now I’m not in any way saying Roni is one of the least of these because he’s not but he is my brother and he is welcome at our table.

Do you know the following Sunday after that conversation when we invited Roni and his family to join us at church that they said yes? Even though they haven’t been in church for some time, they still accepted.

We all piled into the car and the back row Sunday, together. #backrowbaptists (But actually there just wasn’t another aisle with enough seats for us all.)

 

All this has got me remembering…

Remembering when I was new to Albany and April Brown invited myself and a couple other girls over to her home for dinner and a movie. She put out such a beautiful spread for us. Her sweet kiddos helped serve us gals. Then her husband walked in from work. He looked at the table and immediately said, “Are those new plates?”

April was mortified. She said “Here I’ve told the kids not to say anything about the new plates in front of our guests and you walk in and that’s the first thing out of your mouth.” It was really quite comical. We assured her it was absolutely fine and we loved the plates.

But what she didn’t know is that night after we left her home, tummies full from yummy lasagna and hearts full from watching Return to Me, we talked about those plates. We talked about how special we felt that she would go out and buy new plates just for us. We felt loved.

And that’s what all this is about, that we can be welcomed to the table and feel love.

The love of Jesus.

The events over the last few weeks have made me realize how much value there is to opening our home and inviting someone over to break bread. How that alone can minister deep down to someone’s soul. It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor. A security guard or a bank owner. An indigenous Lenca or a university graduate. It doesn’t matter. We are all the same in the Father’s eyes.

We are all made in the image of the Father.

We all have value.

We all feel honored and loved when we are welcomed to the table.

So I want to invite you to the table. I want to invite you to share in this blessing of welcoming others to the table. I want to invite you to be a part of the work here in Honduras. Sometimes that work is just cooking a meal and inviting a family over to share it with us. But I want to invite you to be a part of that. You may not physically be able to sit at the table with us here in Honduras but you can through your prayers and support. You can through your financial donations.

We’ve got some special things up our sleeves for our financial donors coming soon. (Hint: ornament!) But most importantly we want to invite you to be a part of what is happening here on the ground in Honduras. We want to give you the opportunity to sow seeds and reap the blessings that comes with inviting others to the table.

You are invited to join us in this work. You are invited to the table.

Will join us?

Donate online at solohope.org/pages/donate.

Growth Journey Life Missionary Life

“Give her grace.”

October 4, 2017

Today was supposed to be a rest day.

With a busy week, today was going to be my day to rest and relax and recharge. Ever was working with a friend today and I was going to have the day to myself to read a book, bake a pumpkin roll (yes, I even picked out a recipe!) and to work on a personal passion project (more to come on that ;)). But today did not go as planned.

Last night I got in an argument with Ever and I let my anger carry over to today and then when he didn’t say what I wanted to hear this morning, I kinda sunk into self-pity. I stayed in bed and let Gilmore Girls drown out my thoughts. As if that weren’t enough to make for a crappy day, I opened Facebook. That alone should let you know how the day went from there. I saw a post that felt like a slap in the face. I know the intentions of this person was not to hurt me nor did they realize it would but gosh, it did.

It felt like I was being told that the work of this year didn’t count. That it had no value.

And y’all, that hurt.

More than that, it made me want to throw in the towel. To say, ENOUGH! I’M DONE!!

My anger with Ever quickly disappeared as it was replaced with anger for someone else. I called him. I vented. He spoke calmly and we considered what we should do. As I hung up the phone, I was still hot with anger so I texted my mom.

“Do I have the right to email this person and let them know how they’ve hurt me??”

She said to let it go. I wasn’t satisfied. I let her know that I expected this from other people but not from this individual. And my mom said something simple but totally profound.

“Give her grace.”

That kinda took the steam out of my angry little engine. So I decided to go for a walk to clear my mind. As I walked, I talked with God. I told Him how of all people I didn’t expect this from her. She’s someone I’ve always had a great amount of respect for and looked up to.

I told Him how sometimes I just wanted to gather those I love close to me and shut the door on the world so it couldn’t hurt us anymore. Or God forbid, that it be me hurting someone else in the world (which unfortunately is a given.)

I told Him how I hurt and how I couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t see how their actions and their Facebook post could be hurtful to me. Don’t they see!

I see. I hear you. God said in that still quiet voice.

I told Him how tired I was of this…

Of feeling like we take two steps forward and three steps back in ministry.

Of hearing the comments from other missionaries who should feel like a team but instead feel more like they’re just trying to break us.

Of being completely confused by when those same people refuse to even communicate with us.

Of giving grace.

I thought back over my mom’s simple text…”Give her grace.”

And then the truth of it rang out, BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!!!!

As soon as I thought that, another thought quickly followed. But what if Jesus had said that on the cross. What if He had said “BUT I DON’T WANT TO!”? Where would I be right now? I don’t know.

But I do know I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be forgiven. I wouldn’t be loved. I wouldn’t be strengthened. I wouldn’t be picked up when I fall down. I wouldn’t be held close in the Father’s arms when I realize how ugly my sin is.

Years ago, I remember going to a Sunday School class taught by former missionaries to future missionaries. One Sunday, Kelby Carter, former missionary to Peru, started the class and said, “I know we were supposed to talk about this but the Lord has laid on my heart to talk about grace.” So many times over the years, I have thought back to that specific class. The message Kelby shared that day has served me well. He shared with those of us, sitting in that class eagerly awaiting to hear more of what it would be like to be a missionary, a lesson that without it, I truly believe I would have thrown in the towel a very long time ago. Kelby told us that on the mission field, the people who will disappoint you the most won’t be the people you are trying to lead to Christ; it will be your fellow missionaries and partners in ministry and you will have to learn how to give grace. Oh how I wish his words weren’t true but they are.

Over the years, my heart has felt like a punching bag more times than I care to admit. Fellow missionaries have hurt me deeply. It’s one of the reasons I’m not fond of referring to myself by that word. I talk with others and find out my story is not too unusual and that the missionary world is quite often a dog-eat-dog world. And I’m sure you’ve experienced it too.

Maybe it wasn’t a missionary but maybe it was your pastor who let you down. Maybe it was the woman who led you to Christ. Maybe it was your small group leader. Or maybe just a Christian friend who you never in a million years thought would have hurt you so deeply.

Take some advice from my mom and “give them grace.”

Because maybe not today, maybe not even tomorrow but next week, you’ll–I’ll be the one in need of grace. So even if your heart and soul is crying out “BUT I DON’T WANT TO” and maybe you have every right to say that but grace is not something we deserve. It is something given freely. So give it. Give grace.

And then remember.

Remember how God has given us grace. Remember the woman who sends you links to blogs to encourage you as you battle homesickness and who makes the effort to come see you when it’s been years since you last saw each other. That’s God’s sweet grace.

Remember the person you send a text to asking about some urgently needed medical supplies for someone in the community who immediately jumps into action and says don’t worry about the cost, she’s got it. That’s God’s grace.

Remember the friends who check in on you just because. Just because they love you and want to encourage your heart in the journey. The friends who give and pray and encourage. That’s God’s grace.

And remember the mama that challenges you. Who doesn’t just say you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. That’s God’s grace.

He gives us His grace every day. Freely. Beautifully. Let us learn how to give it to others.

Grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

 

Okay, now I’m off to make that pumpkin roll! 🙂