Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ordinary People

So here I am on a plane… the house is packed into a storage unit… new people are living in our house… we have said more good byes than I would like to endure again… and the adventure is underway! Thank you for your prayers and support! Thank you for encouraging us to follow God! The Collies are excited about what God has in store for our lives tomorrow and also stoked to see what God has in store for your life as well. I was reminded of a simple truth about following God this week and I would like to take a moment to remind you as well.

It was Sunday night and we were frantically trying to pack the final details of our home and also attempting to clean behind all the things we never clean behind… aka, the oven, fridge, dryer, etc., when I heard a knock on the back door. Most people knock on our front door or just come in, but not Jeremy. I opened the door and there he was, Jeremy in all of his splendor. He was dressed in basketball shorts and a tank top sort of shirt, his hair a mess. He had dirt all over him and he was standing there with a bucket of fish, yes fish. There were sun fish, bass, and bluegill just piled in a five gallon bucket. I opened the door and he simply said, “you want some fish?”

Jeremy is fourteen. He just got back from about three months in Juvenile hall, his family is broken like a window in an abandoned house, and his brothers are constantly coaxing him to sell drugs and do other stupid illegal things for them. He is a good kid with a good heart who happens to live on my street. Four houses up on the right actually. I met Jeremy a few years ago when he was eleven. I was out mowing one day and he walked up and asked if he could mow my grass for me in exchange for some cash. I said no, but introduced myself and began a simple conversation with him. It was simple and shallow, but I got his name and remembered it. Every time I saw him after that I would simply say hi to him and call him by his name. Over the next few years I would see him and talk to him here and there. He was usually walking down the street to the school with his girlfriend or something. Eventually I found out more and more about him and got a chance to get to know him on a little deeper level. I kind of became his neighborhood counselor. He would come and hang out and talk. We invited him and his sister to eat with us every so often and we simply became his friend. I would sometimes even invite him down to hang out around the fire pit with my friends and I. We would joke and talk about life. He always seemed distant yet hungry for someone to listen, so that is what I tried to do.

So there Jeremy stood, asking if I wanted some fish that he caught. I hadn’t seen him much lately because he was off doing time at juvenile hall, so he didn’t know we were leaving town the next day. So as I broke the news to him that we were moving out of town tomorrow, his shoulders dropped and this looked of sadness swept over his face. He stood there a second, then he spoke. What he said shook me to the bones. He simply looked at me with this sad face and said, “Now what am I supposed to do? This street is going to go to hell. If you take your Christianity and leave, this street is going to hell.”

Sometimes we make Christianity and following Jesus this really hard thing to do. I have been memorizing and studying Romans 12 and there is a verse that simply says, “be okay with spending time with ordinary people.” Jeremy is a kid most people have already written off. He comes from a low-income family that is broken all to pieces, he has been in the system already and done time. He is the “ordinary people” we all come across everyday. It is not always easy or comfortable to hang out and spend time with people who don’t act and smell like you. They may even seem like an inconvenience, but it is our responsibility and calling to be okay with spending time with ordinary people. In doing so, you have the opportunity to share love, encouragement, safety, a listening ear, and truth with them.

My challenge to you and to myself as well, is to live a life for God that has time allotted for ordinary people. And when you spend time with them, love them, listen to them, encourage them, and give them truth. Live in such a way that when you leave they don’t miss you, they miss the love of God you displayed.

Love God. Pray always. Make time to love ordinary people. Keep the faith!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

If Life Were Easy...Part 2

Dave and I have generally been posting on this blog only once a week, but I felt today’s experience merited a follow-up to this week’s post. It was another somewhat “hard” day. I spent three hours trouble-shooting and fixing our car today…which was three hours too long according to what I had hoped to accomplish today. So, bedtime with the kids was later than usual. It was another struggle to get them to stay in bed. Myah threw up because she got the hiccups after she and Silas had played “sneak-out-of-bed-and-run-back-as-fast-as-you-can.” Which meant another load of laundry. By the end of it all, I felt like a horrible mom and still hadn’t packed a single box. It was 10:30 p.m.

After packing the Russian tea set in multiple layers of bubble wrap, I decided I could call it quits and thought I’d check my email really quickly before heading to bed. There were two messages from our Communitas accountant, giving an update on our financial support. I read the emails and then reread them and then sat down in the floor and cried. God just met me right there on the kitchen floor. We are at 14% of our monthly support! It blew me away. God is faithful and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). He captures my weak and failing heart and reminds me that He is good and powerful and loving. I was overcome with thankfulness for our Christian brothers and sisters who are making sacrifices so that we can go where God is leading. It really is amazing. Hard. And beautiful.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

If Life Were Easy...

It has officially begun!! The packing, that is! I was a lot more excited about it this morning. Now, having packed 21 boxes worth of books, more books, craft supplies, games, stuffed toys, and a few more books, I’m beginning to wonder if a week is enough time to pack up everything in this house. Dave is in Detroit this week on a mission trip with our youth. My mission this week is to get everything in our house in a box. One thing is for sure—I need more boxes.

I think my excitement began to wane just a bit mid-day when I realized this task is going to require a lot more time and energy and effort than I thought. In other words, I had hoped it would be easier. I think that I often hope for LIFE to be easier. But I don’t know if it ever is, or if it is ever supposed to be that way. I think I just want life to be easy. You know, the life where you pack lots of boxes and you can actually see a difference. (My house looks like I haven’t moved a thing yet.) The life where your car doesn’t die right after you get gas and require that you get a stranger to jump it for you. (Yep, that happened today too.) The kind of life where your kids go to bed without a fight. The life where you never have headaches. The life where your house sells the day you put the sign in the yard and your support comes in without having to make a single phone call.

Come to think of it…maybe I don’t wish life was that way. If it was, I probably would have missed the fourteen trips I took down memory lane while packing those boxes today. I would have missed the blessing of the lady who was right there at just the right moment to jump my car…and how perfect that it happened at the gas station where lots of cars come by all the time! I would have missed the wiggles and hugs and time with my kids. I would have missed Myah saying, “Mommy, you want me to kiss your head?” I would have missed the journey of trusting and waiting for God to provide. I would have missed the many blessed conversations and countless words of encouragement every time we talk to people about supporting us.

You know, it’s like the Bible story I read to the kids tonight about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I might have been easier if there was never a king who made crazy laws about bowing down to a statue and then throwing people into a fire if they didn’t. Or it might have been easier if those three guys had just bowed down. But they would have missed God being with them in the fire. They would have missed the power of obeying the one true God. They would have missed the exhilaration of God doing more than they could ask or imagine. What I really hope for is faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had. I want to live life, following God all-out and especially when it’s hard. So, what does that mean for you today? What does it look like to embrace the “hardness” of life with a faith in the God who is even stronger? For me, right now it means planning a Sunday School lesson even though it would be easier to go to bed!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why Do We Suffer...

C.S. Lewis said this - "The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not."

Jen and I were talking the other night about the fear and anxiety that we feel about this new way of life that we are embarking on. We were praying that God would give us the grace and joy to walk into this new adventure ready to give up "our" schedule, "our" security in things, "our" comfort of "our" own space and "our" own time, or even in giving up "our" own life and what we have known. We love people, we love God, we love serving, but to this point we have loved all that within the comfort of owning "our" own house and having a secure and definite income. This new lifestyle of faith and following God challenges all of "our" paradigms and yet we know that God promises peace and faithfulness if we just trust. We have this sense that God is going to allow us as a family to experience the Kingdom of Heaven in a brand new way this year. In light of this new adventure God is calling us to... please read this passage from Luke. Let it challenge your hearts as it has our hearts.
LUKE 17:20-33
The Coming of the Kingdom
20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won’t see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them.24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes. 25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation.

26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—29until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! 33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.

Giving up security, giving up the comforts of this world and following God brings challenges and fear, but we believe that God is calling us to follow Him to New Orleans and we also believe that what God promises, He always upholds. Therefore, friends, we want to live in God's promise that, if "we" cling to "our" life, "we" will lose it, and if "we" let "our" life go, "we" will save it. Pray that we continue to walk boldly into this new way of life and pray and ask what God would have you do with "your" life.

We love you and appreciate your prayers.