Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Commercial Break--Two Gates

In honor of our thirteenth anniversary, I am taking a commercial break from my posts on Kenya.

For the past couple of months I have been slowly but surely making my way through Kelly Minter's study on Nehemiah. Each entry has been eerily timely. Today's was entitled "Full Circle." In Nehemiah 12 we see him leading the people in celebration through songs and such rejoicing that it could be heard far away (v. 43). What is so remarkable about this is that he is standing in the exact spot that he first inspected when he arrived to survey the devastation. Kelly observes, "God had brought Nehemiah full circle, beginning at one broken gate on the circumference all the way around to the very same gate, only on this day all had been made new."

Thirteen years ago, there were two gates I stood in front of with so much hope and vision. But at the time, they were not all they could be. They were broken and in need of much repair and sanctification. The first gate was our marriage. So much love but also so much baggage. So much growing up to do. Together. We struggled for years because it was worth it. There were days we didn't like each other that much but there was that knitting of souls that kept us from ripping each other apart. I can honestly say each year has been exponentially better than the year before. Today, Matt and I can stand, hand in hand, with our eyes toward the gate, marveling at all the Lord has done--all that He needed to do because we were both in shambles. We are in no way perfect now but grace abounds so much more freely toward each other, and in turn, so much more love.

The other gate was a desire to sing honest, new songs to the Lord from my heart. This was a heavy one. It leaned oppressively on the first gate. It was a good desire the Lord placed in me that I made an ultimate desire (which made it an idol). The Lord was so jealous for my worship that He took His time with this gate. Years and years He pressed, broke, reshaped and set me. For my freedom, for my joy, for His glory alone. I stand gazing at this gate, still with Matt (as he has had a front row seat to this renovation), in awe of what the Lord has done and let me do. Even if I only get to listen to the rough recordings of my first album, it is enough because His grace is enough.

In all of this gate-repairing, I am struck with this thought: the point isn't the gate alone, it's the going through to what's on the other side. These gates have given me an opportunity to see and experience God Himself. To know His being enough in the very deepest places in my heart and soul. To know the narrow gate--Jesus--through whom I have been invited to enjoy forever and ever. That's full circle. That's lasting joy. That's a gate that will never be in disrepair. It will never be demolished.

Monday, July 30, 2012


31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” John 4:31-38

This passage comes on the heels of the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at the well (one of my favorites in Scripture). A dialogue in which Jesus enters so forthrightly yet tenderly into this woman’s world. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, He cuts through race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion and right into this woman’s heart. He reveals the depth of her thirst and the only thing that will satisfy--Him. 
I have sat down almost a dozen times to write this post. Once, I even finished it and perched my hand above the keyboard to press “finish” when all of a sudden it was gone. A wise woman told me that there must have been something I left out that the Lord wanted in. I think she was right.  I am using this as an introductory post to a series in which I attempt to download all the things I saw the Lord do in Kenya.

The need was so easy to see and meet there. In fact, there’s so much need that it can at times be overwhelming unless we anchor our hearts in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Even then, I think it’s a blessing to feel the weight of it--a blessed opportunity to experience the reality of living in the already but not yet.  It fuels our prayers and our sowing and reaping.

The impression I’ve been left with since being home has come in the form of a prayer. Lord, as my heart and days were full of doing “the will of him who sent me” in Kenya, may they be that way here. Give me eyes to see the need and the work there is to do around me--where you have planted me for now. Give me x-ray vision to see through the neatly manicured lawns, the crisp, freshly laundered wardrobes and nicely-kept homes and businesses to the deep-seated need. For I know that the fields are white for harvest.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kenya: Day 1

Today was our first full day at Naomi's Village. It has been all I had hoped for and more. The morning was cool and damp (very different from back home!). What darkness covered during the night, the early sunlight began to unveil--deep, green mountains, vibrant bougainvillea, and those trees (I don't know the name yet) that you picture in your mind when you think "Kenya" dotting the landscape. In a word: lovely. Children's voices sifted through the windows of our room. Sounds of life and love echoed from the courtyard. Each of us made our way downstairs to join the chorus.

Audrey and I had the honor of meeting our sponsored child, Hannah. She is truly a delight. We were invited to be a part of the preschool children's morning devotion. Their cheerful voices recited Psalm 19:1. We listened, we sang, we laughed. Our hearts were full.

We met a church planter and his wife (Isaac and Esther) who are longing to plant a church that is gospel-centered and makes a physical difference in their community. One of the places where this is being fleshed out is in the IDP (internally displaced people) camp. They have a contact there who helps coordinate needs and resources--physical and spiritual. We prayed with a woman (Eunice) whose husband was far away looking for work, barely making enough to make ends meet but not enough to seek medical treatment for her youngest son. The sores on his face looked painful. It appeared to be something that could easily be cleared up with medicine. Eunice went on to tell us how she earned a living before her house was burned and they moved to the IDP camp. She was a seamstress. But, when her workplace was burned, she lost everything--her machine, her supplies. She believed that if she had a machine, she could begin working again and bringing income for their family. What I love about Isaac and Esther is that they care more about a person's spiritual need but not at the expense of their physical need. Tomorrow, we will purchase a sewing machine and supplies, and provide medical care for her son. The money we use will be what you all have donated!! Thank you for making this possible!

We also met an elderly single mother/grandmother who sleeps on the concrete in her home. She has aches and pains in her legs that keeps her from fetching water. She has to rely on "well-wishers" to bring her food and water each day. Here's what's amazing--she loves the Lord. Like, really loves Him, really TRUSTS Him. As she recounted her heartbreaking story there was no hint of resentment in her voice--only peace. That is faith. That is something only the Holy Spirit can do! We prayed with her but I believe I walked away much more strengthened in my faith because of her. With your donations, we are purchasing mattresses, sheets, blankets and a water tank. Praise God!

As our day comes to a close and I think back on all the Lord has shown me today, I can't help but think of James 2:14-17:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them what the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

I am so grateful to the Lord for His gift of living, breathing faith! May He be praised!

More to come...

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Tomorrow around noon, eight of us will board a plane (the first of three) with Kenya as our final destination. Thank you to all who have been a part of this journey! I will do my best to blog while I'm there.

Today we met with our contacts from Lost Orphans International (Joey Darwin has been a HUGE help!) and a couple that recently returned from their fourth (yay!!) visit to Naomi's Village. They had so much to share with us about the children there, the Kenyans who live nearby, the Americans who are serving at NV and all they've seen the Lord do there. To say I am excited and expectant is an understatement! My heart (and eyes) welled up as I drank in the pictures of the people there. The Lord has been so faithful to align all of the details that I can't begin to imagine what He has in store for us!

Will you pray for (and with) us?

  • for unity among our team
  • for patience and safety as we travel
  • for peace in our hearts as we leave our families and our homes
  • for the Holy Spirit to speak clearly and LOUDLY
  • for the Lord to enlarge our hearts for whatever dreams He puts in them
  • that we would love well because we are so well loved by Him
  • for the Lord to sustain our health
  • for the gospel to go forth!!
Thank you, friends!