Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the Shelter of the Father

Being a mother of two stagger-stepped toddlers has been a challenge in no uncertain terms. Yet I cannot remember a time in my life where I have ever experienced God in such real ways.

Apparently when you are emptied of yourself: all your ability, all your own power, all your own strength you become desperate for Him, well, He shows up!

What a great gift!!!

As you may know, many of us in the north are experiencing unusually warm temperatures and sunny days (HOORAY!) and there are a slew of storms that accompany this pre-spring treat.

Often they come at night.

When we sleep.

Well, most of us are sleeping.

Except one tiny Shaw. She's the youngest. She's the littlest. She's the one who sleeps the lightest. And she likes to let us know about it!

Across the 1,022 nights of her life we have been up with her many, many, many times. Responding to her cries, delivering water, finding Fluffernutter the Elephant who has once again tumbled to the floor.

I cannot say that my weary bones have delighted in these nightly treks across the squeaky wooden planks of the floor...trying not to trip on toys as I navigate my way to her toddler bed. No, no, far from it. I'm sad to say I've grumbled in my heart quite a bit. :(

Earlier this week we had a very loud, flashy storm that came complete with howling wind and pelting rain that crashed against the glass like bullets. I woke up too!

Suddenly our door was thrown open with a vehemence that only our Darrah Kate uses and I heard the toddling steps pass by Brian's side of the bed.

"Mommy? I scaaaaared!" she meekly pleaded.

It must have been God taking over because my immediate response was to swoop her up in my arms to hold and cradle her. Instantly I discovered she was violently trembling. She was so very, very frightened of the wildness just outside the glass window.

My heart broke for her. This was HUGE. She had very little past memory of wild storms to recall that she might be okay. She shook with the terror that she might be swept away!

I covered her quaking body with my own and pulled her into bed. Gone were the thoughts of was I going to get up for my workouts in a few short hours...I will filled with the love of our Father Himself.

Verses began to stream into my consciousness as I continued to shush, stroke her sweet hair and kiss her brow.

"The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

"For You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach," Psalm 61:3

"He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day." Psalm 91:4-5

I was overcome with emotion. Parenting is such a window into the loving heart of our own Father. I was flooded by His love for me in that precious moment. As I was wrapped around my own daughter's small sleeping body I knew for sure that His arms were wrapped around us both. 

She finally stilled. The trembling had stopped. 

Peace came.


Taken during an afternoon storm that interrupted her nap time.

Not for me, but for her. And I reveled in the fact that my own Father never slumbers nor sleeps. He holds me as I sleep toss-and-turn  and He is the One who gives me the strength to live the next day. I held my little child in my arms now safe and satisfied that the violence outside would not consume her...and I felt drawn deeper into this love with the God of the Universe.

Only God can give a gift like that at 2 am.

So although I am a bit tons weary the next day... and am looking anxiously to the toddlers' nap time for my own rest, I am drawn closer to the heart of God through this job to which He has called me.

And I am so grateful.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Clean a Sippy Cup...and Never Be the Same Again!

The other day I rather mindlessly asked Darrah Kate to put her sippy cup into the dishwasher.

I thought nothing of it, didn't check to see if she would do it. (Life moves fast around here!) And I did not remember this small request.

Fast forward 20 hours.

It was after the morning rush to get the children on the bus...I had returned with the two littles and was beginning to put away the "fall out" from the morning.

There it sat. That same sippy cup. Sealed. Along with the other items that our "I'm-too-short-to-put-it-away-properly" child had stacked along the counter for me to put away into the cupboard. The very sippy cup I'd asked DQ to take to the dishwasher.

It was clean.

On the outside.


...on the inside it had yesterday's milk.

(Are you "ewwwwing" yet???)

And as I opened up that sippy cup, I thought about our lives.

How often are we like that cup?

Do we wash our outside, making sure we appear clean but truly, inwardly we are carrying around sour milk?

How careful are we to keep up appearances? To clean our house for company? To only put make-up on for the days we have somewhere to go? To name drop around people who "matter?" To talk in ways that show off our intelligence, or hide our emotions from the outside world?


But what about the INSIDE OF OUR CUPS???

What about the person who thinks that because they attend church or read the Bible that they are "clean?"

What REALLY makes us clean on the inside, anyway?

Can we know for SURE?
Can we possibly DO ENOUGH to be truly clean?

Good news! The answers are YES and NO, respectively.

Yes, we CAN know for certain that we are clean on the inside!
No, we cannot possibly do enough to be truly clean.


It's the message that changed my life.

I am a dirty sippy cup with rotten milk inside. I have done all I can to try and clean up, but no matter how many times I go through the dishwasher cycle, I still reek of my rottenness. It's called "sin."

I am helpless. Oh, I can put on a pretty good show, for sure. But I know deep down that my insides are rotten. They are NOT clean. And I cannot seem to purify myself for the life of me!

But there is one who CAN. His name? You've heard it before: Jesus. He has come to earth, lived a sinless life, died for me on the cross (my very sins/rotten milk are the reason He died!) and then absolutely conquered death by rising from the dead! That act: His death and resurrection bought my freedom! You see, it was my rightful place--that death. My rotten milk/sin's punishment is death and total separation from God forever.

But the beauty is this: He didn't wait for me to run my life through the dishwasher before He died for me. He did it while I still was covered in the sticky fingerprints on the outside too!

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." (Romans 5:6)

You see, if I were a glorious looking and sweet smelling sippy cup, someone might dare to die for me. But read this:

"God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8)

Wow! Serious GOOD NEWS!!!!

There is no good you can do to earn God's favor. He sees right through the walls and insulation of your sippy cup.


                                ...AND HE LOVES YOU!!!

See, He doesn't love because of WHAT you have inside (or how pretty/clean you are on the outside!)

He loves you because He made you. That alone gives you VALUE. Plus, He sees the potential you have. The potential to reach your BEST for Him.

You matter.


He wants you. He loves you. He wants to clean you once and for all. No more dishwasher cycles, no more attempts to earn "points" for your good behavior.

He wants to overwhelm you with His love. He longs to set you free from keeping up appearances.

What does it cost?

It's free.

That's hard to take in, isn't it?

But do not be fooled, following Jesus is free, but it will cost you everything.


That's right.

It is a free gift, but one which will so change you that it will cost you what you used to be. That free  LOVE will overwhelm you and clean and will begin to work inside of you.

You will no longer want the things you used to want.

You will begin to want what HE wants.

Your friends may not understand, your priorities will change and you will begin to live each of your days with great purpose, meaning and joy.

You will give up things that have recently mattered. But you will discover that these are not truly sacrifices at all...they are a joy to lay down to know this new, deep, pure love!


My prayer is that this day will not pass before you allow Christ to wash you clean and make you HIS VERY OWN.


*Understand that you are a sinner. That ugly, stinky, rotten milk is yours. Own it. Then confess it. That's just a fancy word for "tell God about it." But don't worry, He already knows. You won't pull any big surprises.

*Understand that the death of Jesus was for YOU. For your stinkin' sippy cup. It was indeed for other people's as well, but this is personal. Jesus loves YOU. And His sacrifice was made with YOU YOU YOU in mind.

*Tell Him that you want that sacrifice to be for you. Ask Him to come and clean you out. Sit quietly. Wait for it. He will come with His Spirit and do that very work. It's a tummy-flipping amazing experience for some people! It's a quiet new belief for others.

*Tell someone important in your life what you've just done. You could say, "Dude! My sippy cup is CLEAN!" (well, that may not translate very well, but if you tell that to ME, I'll get ya!) ;) Be sure to tell a trusted friend or someone who also walks with Jesus about your experience. Don't keep it to yourself. You need to share your happy news!

*Get busy living your new life. Learn all you can. Study a book in the Bible. I suggest John or Philippians to begin. Find a church nearby that worships the God of the Bible. Seek out a new friend. Pray. Talk to God like He's sitting right there with you--that's a new truth in your life: HE IS!!!

*Share this news with the people you care about! Even ones you have never met. The truth is that your life is brief on this planet and you've got something worth SHARING WITH EVERYONE!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You Cannot Change the World with a Click

Surprise, surprise! You cannot change the world with a click of the "Share" button on Facebook.

But oh, we'd love that wouldn't we?

We could sit back on our comfy sofas, think about ourselves and our needs, have a heart for 30 minutes for the world and click "Share" and feel GOOD that we've done our part in saving the world and then go back to our self indulgence.

Although we would LIKE that, it isn't like that. And for good reason. Wow. Imagine how much MORE full of ourselves we would become! Already our country is at a dangerous state of comfort, self indulgence and ethnocentrism.

Let me let you in on what has been brewing in my mind since last night.

As I watched a very well made movie by a talented man about Joseph Kony, it hit on a very tender nerve for me: suffering children. I looked at several things before I posted and gave my social support, but I certainly did not look into the sponsoring group's method of handling donations. And as time has given my brain time to percolate, I've considered that maybe I don't want to help make an evil man famous. The end goal of the video Kony 2012 is to raise awareness in the US so that our leadership will send/maintain troops in Africa to help find Kony. At first glance this seems great. But I've begun to wonder, is this the BEST way? I am not doubting our militia/intelligence, I'm just wondering if this targeted method by Jason Russell is the best way to end this horrifying war and crimes against humanity.

The idea of the Kony 2012 video is great: let's do SOMETHING to help. Let's rally our voices, utilize our social media tools and move our leadership to solve the problem. I like this. I do. But reality is that things are complicated. Things are not so black and white and "just click here" to solve the problem.

The thing is, this has been going on for 26 years. TWENTY SIX YEARS. The idea of removing Kony is a great one, it will not solve all the problems borne from this crisis any more than our adoption of one orphan solved the orphan crisis for the entire planet.

Reality is, this is a VERY COMPLICATED MATTER. We cannot sit at home and judge the best way to solve such things anymore than we can read a friend's status update that she's a bit blue and tell her exactly how to get over it.


And He can! Oh yes He can! And His healing will be one heart at a time.

I am so glad we have all become aware of this war criminal and the people who have been victimized. They need our prayers. And shocking as it may be, Joseph Kony needs our prayers. He must be stopped and then he needs some serious mercy. It is counter my all human nature to want to pray FOR him, but we can rest in the knowledge that our God is JUST. He is also forgiving, and these matters are only between Kony and the Almighty. We are commanded to pray for our enemies. And I qualify him as my enemy because I align myself with the helpless children.

So, if clicking "share" on Facebook isn't going to solve the LRA problem and tweeting to get Kony famous isn't going to do it, what will?

So glad you asked.

I don't know.

But I do know this, it won't be easy. It will require sacrifice. It will require involvement. Two things we Americans just really don't want to do very much, do we?

Here's a story I came across today, of a woman becoming DOWNWARDLY MOBILE for the sake of Christ. She literally moved into a trailer park to better minister to fringe people for whom God had burdened her heart.

Ah. Now that involves sacrifice. That involves involvement!

See here's the thing, if saving my soul from sin cost my Savior EVERYTHING...why on earth would I assume I could get off scot free by an easy road? If I want to walk with Jesus, doing the work He has for me in this world, it will cost me. (Click here if you want to read Jesus say it in His own words.)

I do not have any answers about what needs to be done. I think the people who have been studying this problem don't know either. But I DO respect them, after all they haven't looked at a problem and shied away from it because it was too hard. They invented a solution. It may or may not be the right one, but they got involved. And although I may not get behind them 100%, I sure respect them for sticking their neck out and working for change.

I want to be keeping my eyes on Jesus and march when He says march. And He just might. I'm just waiting for the word.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who is Joseph Kony? Glad you asked...

Few things make me angrier than children being victimized.

I hope this is true for you too.

I am sure it would be, if you KNEW.

But first, I have a few questions for you.

Would you help rescue a child if it required you to give up your current lifestyle?

Let's back it down.

Would you help rescue a child if it cost you an evening out with your friends?

Let's back it down a bit more.

Would you help rescue a child if it took the cost of your morning coffee?

Well what if it were this easy...


I hope you said YES!
(see your step to action at the bottom.)

There is a nasty man named Joseph Kony who is loose in central Africa. You have probably never heard his name before. But you will. Oh yes, you will.

You might think he's running for president. I hope you do some quick investigating. You will see that he is not. Far from it. He's running, but FROM the president. That's right, Barack Obama sent 100 US troops to find and arrest this man last fall. Why didn't we hear about it?


(Let me make a parenthetical note here. I do not watch the news. I do not keep up. I am so incredibly swamped with my own life (sick face here) that I don't invest much energy at all into following the news. It's quite possible that people DID know of this and I just missed it. But if so, NO ONE I  KNOW HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT HIM!!!!!!!!!!!)

There are going to be YAHOOS who comment that a simple click to share something on Facebook is NOT going to rescue a child. Skip it. Don't give me flack. Use your energy toward something that MATTERS.

Back in 2006, I was in the process of leaving my American life to rescue children in India. God had other plans. He took our son Oskar at that very moment in time. I have every intention of moving to India someday and saving children. As you know if you've been reading my blog, in that time frame of being "redirected" we have adopted a child from Uganda.

What kept him-our Zebby-out of the clutches of Kony? I do not know. He is here now, he will not be abducted, forced to kill, rape, maim and trained to hate. But...what about the OTHERS???

I watched this video by Francis Chan earlier this week (thanks Shelly!) and it's been rolling around and around in my head. The question keeps coming back to me: Why is an "emergency" only an emergency if it happens to ME or MY CHILDREN? Are not ALL CHILDREN precious? Is not it time to give up my things, resources, to respond to such an emergency? Does it matter where they were born?

I have learned about Kony tonight. I cannot help thinking of the verse that says, "Rescue the perishing; don't hesitate to step in and help. If you say, "Hey, that's none of my business," will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know--Someone not impressed with weak excuses." Proverbs 24:11-12 (The Message)

I know of people that only quote verses that they like, or that offer comfort to themselves. This one from Proverbs sure won't be on their list of favs! But like it or not, we are called to justice.

I am not pretending that a simple click will save the life of a child. I know it won't. But educating people about WHO Kony is will put into motion some actions that will STOP THE CRIMINAL and therefore save children.

What are you waiting for?

Watch this: (Yes, it's 30 minutes of your time life. I wouldn't ask you if I didn't think it was important. It's worth it. I promise.)


I hope that you will leave your comfortable life and go and meet these people face to face. I hope you would be willing to give up a night out with your friends to make your voice heard. I hope you would be willing to part with $4 from a morning's coffee indulgence to help stop a world class atrocity. But if at the very minimum all you do is share this video, then you've done SOMETHING.

(I cannot end this post without reminding you that I met, held hands with, shared a meal with children (then and maybe still HOMELESS ON THE STREETS) who were victimized by this very man. If you want a recap, go here to read the story from last August as we met Sunday and Simon. There faces, their stories and this evil man are burning in my heart tonight.)

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