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Archive for November, 2015

Today represents both the birth of one grandma and the death of my other grandma.

My Grandmother Reva actually received the best birthday gift possible 53 years ago, a son.  However, 10 years ago, my father was unable to celebrate, when his birthday bore the responsibility to care for his wife whose mother had passed away the very same day.

So today my mother created a tribute album for her mother, my Grandmother Marjie.  My grandmother continues to be the person I attribute much of my character to.   Before Christ, she was the person I aspired to reflect the image of most.

Legacies are tricky to me.  I know it sounds harsh.  But, to me, legacies most often times are the boasting of a person’s name and achievements.  I have written on legacy before, and know that I desire to leave the legacy of “home matters;” the difference is, that legacy does not need to be attached to my name.  Rather, it is one that parallels the refuge of God’s wingspan as an eagle protecting His children.  It is a legacy that recognizes the purpose and ability God has established in me.

Another reaction to today’s contrast of events also seems to lack compassion, but has been reflected on in prayer and is worthy of sharing in transparency.  The simple task of memorializing a person’s death, considering anniversaries is not something I planned on partaking in, until my mother’s tribute was sent to me.

My grandmother passed when I was 14, a freshman in high school.  The moment I had freedom in driving, I began to spend more time speaking with her at her burial ground than I did speaking with my parents at the house.  It was about a year and a half later that I received the Lord in my life, and that stopped.

Until the moment I walked into the Family at North Coast Church, my grandmother was the guardian angel looking after me.  I had not known the Holy Spirit, and so she was the nudge I followed.  It was her life I emulated.

But that stopped. And I believe, rightfully so.

I respect the Jewish tradition of leaving rocks on the tombs of loved ones deceased.  But with Christ, I see freedom of souls.  The body buried in the ground no longer traps my grandmother, so why visit her there?

Within the last hour I was given a new perspective.  Thank You, Holy Spirit!

As the title suggests, today marks the day of my grandmothers birth.  Today, nearly 80 years ago, breath entered her lungs and she cried for the very first time.  She was embraced by two parents and entered life with a name attributed to her by her parents.  The celebration of birth, of life.

BUT it also is the day of my grandmother’s death.  Different lady, different bloodline.  Today marks the day her spirit entered into eternal life in the presence of Christ and His everlasting people.

I wrestled in the beginning of grief, years ago, whether my grandmother truly lived a selfless life of service for the betterment of people or as an act of serving Christ in them.  I gave up, recognizing that God had not given me the ability to understand.  So I faithfully set it aside and pursued His character, His life, reflected in my own living.

That was until just this hour.  Now, there is a peace in me assuring that she has life, eternal life, in God’s presence.

I am very grateful for the life Paul lived as an example of a man, surrendered before the purposes of God’s placement in His life.  I am very grateful to have read the burnout and struggles Mother Teresa experienced with her own faith as she served the lowest of the low in the Indian caste system.  I am very grateful to have lived over a decade under the leadership of my grandmother and seeing her humbleness in service: both in providing and receiving.

Their legacies point to the glory of God.  In their confessed weaknesses, His strength was made known.

Honestly, this was far from the hardest part of my day today.  Stephen, the man who God has placed as my partner in ministry, led me in worship tonight.  Especially in our wavering, we will continue to lift our voices:

“I love you, Lord:”

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear

Lord, as we consider the lives of those who continue to breath, and those who have left this earth, may we see their goodness as the blessings of gifts and experiences You poured out onto them, and worked through them.  May everything we see as good lead us to praise Your name.   May our sorrow in grief lead us to lean into Your comfort, into Your counsel.  Thank You for being present and for continuing to teach me, even 10 years later to view this day in a new perspective.  This day is incapable of overcoming me, rather it is a day You continue to reign over.  Thank You Lord, that I cannot fall.  I’ve stumbled, but Your strength has provided rest when I am too tired to consider anything more.  I carry on to lift Your name, sovereign King of all.

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This weekend I attended “Equipped to Care,”  the first conference held at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary focused on equipping parents, prospective parents, students, and professionals on how to best care for themselves and the orphans of our country through foster care and adoption.

This is my heart. A healthy burden I intend to act on.

Within a few weeks of Stephen and I sharing life–truly sharing the life the Lord has revealed would come of our commitment to ministry–I opened up about my heart for foster-adoption.

Already, I  knew that my beloved Stephen traveled to Uganda on a short-term missions trip this past summer with a married couple expecting to bring home a Ugandan orphan, a dear sister of Christ who is newly engaged to his best seminary friend, and others from the seminary community.  He brought back the vision for multiple tattoos to commemorate what God ignited in him during his time serving, but also the injury that left him forced to humbly submit to the care of his sisters.

The time he spent with these sisters ignited his commitment to pray for a wife who cares for the orphans and widows of the nations.  In our dating relationship, he even joked that these two sisters would have refused him dating me if it was not my heart.

That’s the backdrop.  Over the past months, I shared about how I committed to adopting a homeless gal’s baby if he were born 4 years ago, and then, my intent to foster while living and studying in Charlotte.  Both huge commitments, lost.  And I had only realized the need to grieve their loss just months before meeting Stephen.  I am burdened for the children of God who are not receiving His love through the compassionate hands and hearts of His people.

As I shared my past experiences and known commitment in the future, I thought he got it.

When he praised God that I was a woman who cared for the orphans and widows I thought he was also making the commitment, saying “I am also burdened for the children of God who are not receiving His love through the compassionate hands and hearts of His people.”

Communication.  I am a visionary by design.  Future minded while enjoying the present adventure.  Stephen is innately present always, and can glance into the future with joy as he faithfully believes in the Lord’s provisions.   A glance.  And for me, a nearly whole picture.  Two different perspectives requiring exchanges of words to make sure the picture described is truly being viewed by the other.

There have been several conversations this week on the topic.  Beautiful times of unveiling one another just a bit more.  He sees who God has made me to be, what life has brought me, and what the future shapes me to aspire towards.

But in these conversations, it has been made known, he had no idea what I was expecting him to understand, to sign up for in those initial conversations.

I asked him this week.  A few conversations with times to rest and reflect in between after he sat in a conference session with me, “When you began praying for a wife who cares for orphans and widows, is this what you meant?”  Really, I was realizing that I had basically just thrown my boyfriend into what seemed a bit like a parenting class and asking “is this too much for you?!?”

For me, it was an invitation to see what I study on a regular basis, what I intend to do professionally and personally.  He was grateful for the invitation and he understood my intent, the material discussed, and the impact of such knowledge in caring for America’s orphans.  But it still led to a hairy discussion.

Conversations can be difficult.  It is vulnerably putting out what my heart weeps for and faithfully believing that this is the man who God so elected to partner with me in this ministry, and He will therefore, grow Stephen’s burden for foster-adoption.  But it cannot turn into something I hold over him either.

Stephen shared with me a little about a friend’s marriage.  How difficult it is on their relationship as the wife dreamed of international missions and is now planted firmly in the states supporting her pastor-husband.  They spoke briefly of passions and desires, but it was never boldly proclaimed, “I want to follow the Lord’s call on my life and live overseas ministering to families of different ethnic origins,” and the response would have been, “I can’t offer you a life abroad.  I’m called to stand firm in a church right here.”  As beautiful as their ministry is together, perhaps this difference would have prevented their nuptials; perhaps then, she would be partnered with a male missionary and her pastor-husband would have the support of a wife called exactly to the role of pastor’s wife in the American south.

These are scary conversations, but they cannot be feared.  It is faithfully believing in the Lord’s sovereignty in growing the partnership, equipping both parties for the mission, and uniting their hearts in their ability to serve Him as He so leads.  This is the purpose, the foundation for speaking boldly of what God has planted and how He reveals your particular ministry call will continue to grow.

I believed before that Stephen is the man I intend to partner with in a lifetime of ministry, but after sharing this call to parent and to counsel foster-adoptive children as a “will you commit to praying this call into your own life as you lean into God to teach you how to father kids from hard places?” his response has affirmed it once more:

i really love you. and i really love that God is moving in our relationship.  to deeper things.  seeing the real and the unknown but yet, hand in hand.  100%. and i definitely started praying. you didn’t bombard me at all. maybe call it a burden.  but it’s a good one.

precious woman, i wouldn’t of asked for your hand that day six days in if i wasn’t taking this partnership seriously.  i love your words. sinking deep in my chest.

Our difficult conversations have very much been in person.  The above two messages were sent via text as an affirmation of where he is at currently, while taking the day to rest on his own.  Stephen uses only lower case letters in text in respect of God’s name, hence how I have written his words above.

Please commit to praying with me for the burden I have shared with my love.  And also, commit to praying for the burden you share and your love or future love shall share with you.  Let us be the Body, moving with God as He paves the way.

And the light of Christ shall be known.  We are an extension of His grace, His love to all the peoples of every nation.

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