*Thread of Thanks*

IMG_0302Running around the house with these boys, watching them wrestle and help each other up.

IMG_1849Fire in the wood stove and sleeping puppies.

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Fresh, lovely smelling flowers from Mom and a coworker.

IMG_1826Cute flats that fit.

IMG_0314Having lunch with a former classmate and her adorable daughter.

Promises

“He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through

unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and

being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

Romans 4:20-21

 

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the

glory of God through us.”

2 Corinthians 1:20

 

Is there a promise you know God’s given you?  Something you know He said, but something that might be hard to believe or hold on to?  Let these verses encourage you and stir your faith.  We serve a God who delights in making impossible things possible.

*Thread of Thanks*

IMG_1820Fall foliage along a road less traveled.

IMG_1805One of three strong little candles… they smell so nice (in moderation).

IMG_1816This tree in the field — big, bold, and beautiful.

IMG_8263Homemade granola.

IMG_1815The field down the road — can’t get enough of its scenery!

IMG_1819A trailhead nearby (and all the pups that frequent it).

“Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.”Isaiah 40:26

As of now, I’m aiming to post pictures taken throughout the previous week of some of God’s many blessings.  They will be more specific in weeks to come; today was totally spur-of-the-moment.  :) 

Forgiveness, Part Two

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Take a good look at this little one.  I don’t know his name, but we’ll call him Michael.  He’s three.

Michael was born with a deformity.  His legs were crossed over each other inwards, like an X.  He couldn’t walk; he had to pull himself around if he wanted to get anywhere.  Because of his deformity, his parents didn’t want him.

But they didn’t just put him in the orphanage.  Instead, they put him in the dump.  He, in their minds, wasn’t anything more than a piece of trash.

He was found in the dump and brought to the orphanage.  Since then, he has had surgery to correct his legs.  The wooden stick in the picture is holding his legs apart, and every time he goes back for a checkup they shave off some of the wood to close the gap.  Slowly, his legs are healing straight.  The doctors say he’ll never walk.  (Will you believe with me that God will let this little boy walk?)

The lady at the orphanage (#1, if you read the first part of this series) said he’s the most joyful child she’s been around.  He doesn’t complain, and he’s always happy.

He may not know the word “forgiveness.”  He may not know all that’s happened to him in his three years of existence.  But someday he’ll start asking questions.  We can only imagine all the questions a child in this circumstance may have — Why am I in an orphanage?  Where are my parents?  Do – or did – my parents love me?  And the questions once he’s gotten some answers — How could my parents decide to put me in the dump?  Am I really worth anything?  Does anyone love me?

Michael is going to have to wrestle with questions once he gets older.  He’s going to have to learn what it means to forgive.  Most likely, he’ll be at the orphanage when he’s old enough to ask the questions and start to come to grips with his life.

We can’t forget the husband and wife who run the orphanage.  How does anyone help a child walk through the process of forgiveness?  How does anyone help anyone walk through the process of forgiveness?

It must take patience.  Revisiting Scripture; revisiting passages of God’s forgiveness for even the “most” unjust acts committed, and passages that remind us exactly why we need to forgive.  Understanding that forgiveness is hard and can even be excruciating.  An attitude of forgiveness to model to the one who needs to forgive.

If you think of it, please pray for Michael.  Pray for his healing, and for the path of forgiveness he’ll have to take.  Pray also for those who will be with him when he walks that path.

Pray as the Lord leads.  And I encourage you to think beyond this post.  In your life, are there situations of forgiveness or situations that need forgiveness?  Are there people you can walk with or people you need to forgive?  I’m asking the same questions.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Quick Look Back…

For those of you who don’t know, I traveled to Juarez, Mexico with a coworker and her husband.  We were there a week, with another small group of Americans, and were blessed to paint the inside and outside of a school building, stain a set of stairs and a play structure, re-roof a family’s house, and do some other fun things.

We visited two orphanages, which I mentioned in the previous post.  My coworker and I also spent a couple hours in Juarez buying supplies for the school kids and finding their world-famous vanilla.

It was an incredible week.  I haven’t ever laughed that much in a week!  Our team was a blast, and we had a great time getting to know each other.  We met many people and were encouraged by the faith of the Mexicans we spent time with.

As far as upcoming trips, we’ll all have to stay tuned to what the Lord is doing.  :)

Forgiveness, Part One

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This isn’t a post (or series of posts) I was planning to write.  But the Lord was ever so clear this morning as I asked Him for guidance… “Forgiveness,” He said.  “Write about forgiveness.”

I look at the sweet girl my friend Sheri is holding and remember the day we met her.  Our team of nine from the States drove to two orphanages that day, the first one being run by a Mexican man and his American wife and the second one being run by a Mexican couple.  The first houses 34 children, the second 65.

This little girl was at the second orphanage.  We were saying our good-byes in broken Spanish to the children and the few helpers, trying our best to encourage the man in charge and show him that every effort he makes is appreciated and worthwhile.  This girl gently put her arms up in front of Sheri, motioning that she wanted to be held.  Of course Sheri picked her up — but she wasn’t expecting the tight, unrelenting hung and the sad eyes.  As she put the girl down later, the girl’s face was completely broken and crushed.

I don’t know this girl’s story yet.  But could she be like so many of the others there at the orphanage?  The ones whose parents, for one reason or another (work, lack of work, lack of energy, lack of desire…), let their children run around in the streets and go wherever they please — the ones who then got picked up by police and brought to the orphanage?  Could she be like these kids, who have homes and at least one parent and/or guardian?  Could she be one of those kids who doesn’t need to be there?

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This man, in the middle, works hard day and night caring for all 65 children.  Upon arriving at their compound I thought, “How can one man love 65 children, individually, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?”  How can he possibly pour his heart into each child constantly?  As we talked with him I realized more of God’s power.  It’s God’s power that enables him to love like he loves, forgive like he forgives.

There’s a whole lot of forgiveness that has to take place for this ministry to function as well as it does.  Holding grudges, being bitter, keeping count of wrongs — those things can’t happen alongside love!  This man has to forgive the children for their mistakes and poor behavior.  He has to forgive the parents who neglect their children, abuse their children, provide poor examples for their children.  He has to forgive the police every time they bring another child to his door who doesn’t need to be there.  He has to forgive the community and culture for screwing up, for allowing injustice, for deciding that God is not priority.

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I watched these boys interact, and was amazed at their love for each other.  They have to forgive, too.  They have to forgive each other, they have to forgive the rest of the boys and girls who live there.  They have to forgive their parents for neglecting them, abusing them, and providing them with poor examples.  They have to forgive the police for taking them and the community and culture for not caring for them.

These kids are some of the most joyful people I’ve met.  They don’t have life easy.  They sleep two-to-a-tiny-bed because there are too many of them and too few beds.  They probably show up at the orphanage with the clothes on their backs and not much more.

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The girls in the top picture are working on their schoolwork.  I’m not sure if they actually attend school or not; $140 per uniform, per child would likely result in some form of homeschooling.  But I can’t say for sure.  The girls live in the bottom half of the building in the second picture; the half that has no windows, is dark and dank and stinky.  They have bunks (third picture) lined up in a U-shape around the room, with two exposed light bulbs on either side of the stairway in the middle.  You can imagine they have to forgive, too.

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The first picture here is the set of boys’ rooms, and the second is a common area with some computers and tons of water damage.  Months ago Mexico was hit with flooding.  If you know anything about Mexico, you probably know that northern Mexico is a desert.  It’s a beach without water — all sand, no dirt.  When it rains, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go.

This orphanage is on a hill, which starts up to the left of the green building.  When it flooded, the water came pouring down the hill and flooded their property.  It did a lot more damage than just that, though.

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There used to be a concrete barrier along the edge of the sand right there.  Now, there’s a makeshift fence.

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All the concrete that used to be their wall got thrown down into those houses below.  No more barrier.  The Mexican government has told the man and his wife that it’s now unsafe for the children — which it is — and that they shouldn’t have the children there with such a hazard.  Imagine the dilemma they now have.

When the wall got thrown apart, though, the children immediately helped clean it up.  They went out and worked hard till it was done.  Think of that!  To my knowledge, none of them tried to escape.  They didn’t complain.  They must’ve had to look out for each other, too, as the drop over the ledge is dangerous.

How can a community of love like that be cultivated?  How can all of those children get along the way they do?  Surely they have arguments and fights and miscommunications — but they love each other.

It has to be forgiveness.  Forgiveness allows love.  It doesn’t have to do with material things, physical abilities, or spiritual giftings.  Forgiveness just is.  And when there’s forgiveness, there can be love.  It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Halos

“Why do we require halos from anybody?”

-Misael Loera

We were driving in his old maroon van, us four friends having deep life discussions.  He’s a pastor, Pastor Misael, and he’s one full of grace and joy and love.

The topic of ‘doing well’ and ‘being good’ came up, and he shook his head in heartfelt pity.  “Why do we require halos from anybody?”  No one is perfect, he said, and we shouldn’t act like anyone is.  There is grace sufficient for every fault; love that covers over every sin.  We try to follow Christ — as we should — and we still fall.  Our friends still mess up.  Our families still go astray.

Take the pressure off, therefore, and live.  Accept His grace, and give it freely.  Stop expecting halos from people; rather, learn to love and encourage in the journey of being made like Christ.

Misael’s words hit me square in the face when he said them.  His word “anybody” includes myself.  Why do I require a halo from myself?  If I can give grace and learn to love others as I should, why can’t I do that for myself?  The answer is simple yet difficult: I can.  I can give grace to myself and learn to love myself as God does.  How?  By those very same parts of God — His grace and His love.

“But He said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'”

2 Corinthians 12:9a

If you have a few minutes, read over 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.