Monday, May 31, 2010

Hats Fingertips Off To Henckels!

While on my recent trip to Ohio, I purchased a 7" knife for slicing meat to make homemade beef jerky. I had Elizabeth with me, and knew that with her culinary brilliance and experience, she would help guide me to the best knife for my needs.

She's pretty sharp...

And so is the Henckels knife I purchased.

I thought my knives were sharp... after all, they cut stuff and they worked fine, didn't they? It wasn't until I used this new knife that I realized how dull the blades on my old knives were.

How did I find out?

First of all, the knife cut through the meat like a heated knife through butter.

Second of all, it cut off the corner tip of my finger just as easily as it cut through the meat.


(Rejoice in knowing that although you all likely prefer posts with photos, this won't be one of those...)

Brandon is sitting with me as I hen-peck type this post with a hand and a half, trying not to make a bloody mess on my new laptop... he's a little concerned that I will go into shock again. I'm unfazed and focused as I'm talking about this post with him, hoping to teach him the analogy that I'm seeing in this.

It's only when the new knife was compared to the old ones that I realized the truth -- that the old ones hadn't been working very efficiently. Due to the fact that I am not used to having knives this sharp, there will be a learning curve there as I adjust to the truth of how sharp this knife is... To ignore the truth I've been shown could lead to danger, pain, suffering, and even missing body parts.

What if this is like our walk with Jesus? Perhaps we think we're cruising along just fine as Christians until we feel the sharp double edged sword of The Word telling us that our lives for Him are in need of sharpening... that our hearts are dulled and not as effective as they could be? What if we were to just keep going as usual, not adjusting our ways to accommodate the truths He's shown us? To not heed to His warnings would be to place lives in danger, to risk pain and suffering not just within our own lives, our own bodies... but to the body of Christ.

The body of Christ needs all the parts sharpened and intact in order to fully function.

Bottom line is, when it comes to Jesus, don't cut corners -- off your fingers, or off your relationship with Him.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unearthed Healing

Last summer, I spent several weeks in my beloved flower garden, praying, gardening, healing, worshiping, and simply spending some alone time with God.

With each weed I pulled, pain was also pulled. With each plant placed into the ground, more healing also took root. As the old gave away to new, I felt completely renewed in Him.

Other than adding a few plants this spring, I hadn't planned on doing much gardening. I don't have the physical energy to do as much as I did last year, and I knew that even if the garden was left as is, I was satisfied with the way it was.

I felt as though the gardening, along with the healing, had been completed.

At least, that's how it looked on the surface... until...

... earlier in April when our temporary guest, Pepper, tore the entire flowerbed up, and turning my heart upside down. I wrote about it on my personal blog , trying to put the experience into words:

I got up from resting this afternoon, looked out the window of the master bedroom and into the back yard... the flowerbed with the miniature weeping cherry tree... torn up, desecrated. I turned to Terry in tears and frustration, and told him I didn't think I could take much more. Of the dog. Of the family mess. Of the relentlessness. Of the heartbreak. Of anything.

At some point, I gathered up whatever courage I had (there wasn't much, I'm afraid), and headed outside. I grabbed my garden tools, and fought back the tears. I started on the outer edges of the garden, on my hands and knees, working my way in, unable to even look ahead to the damage done to the heart of the flowerbed...

... Then, I got to the base of the tree. Not only had it been completely dug up, but the special ornament that I bought in Ohio last summer was buried in dirt.

I could barely breathe.

I picked it up, frantically brushing away the dirt from between the hands that held the tiny baby, and as the dirt fell away and the tiny face surfaced, I completely lost it. I had to bite the back of my hand to not scream as I sobbed from the weight of the things going through my mind right at that moment. It wasn't pretty.

"Tested", April 6th 2010

This experience brought me to my knees; not because the flowerbed had been damaged, but because of the weight of the pain I had experienced in those moments. The flashbacks, the crushing emotions, the shock, the shame.

As much as I had worked through so much last summer while gardening, my grief, the issues with my father, the message God had given me about my life... there was grief deeper below the surface that I had never dealt with, grief that I couldn't speak of. I felt blindsided.

"No stone left unturned."

God had made it painfully clear that it needed to be dealt with.

Back in April, I felt discouraged at first when I saw the damage that Pepper had done. It was difficult to see my hard work undone, to see sacred ground turned upside down. It hurt to feel the raw emotions so suddenly, so strongly, knowing I would have to face it and work through it even though I wasn't sure how I would.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll even find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

Within hours, I felt hope begin to grow from the rubble.

It didn't take long for me to see what God planned to do with this and to realize all over again what a blessing it would be.

As always, God isn't the cause of our pain and losses, but if we open our hands and hearts to Him, He replaces pain with something better, in ways only He can.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

The garden being torn up ended up being a beautiful analogy for how the healing process often goes. We heal as much as we can, we but once in a while something happens and triggers an old wound that hadn't properly healed. The unhealed scars gets dug up like the earth of a desecrated garden, leaving us with a need for further healing... leading the way to new life, new growth.

Sometimes, it's healing we didn't know we needed.

Sometimes, it's the healing we never thought we'd find.

We face a choice. Do we completely submit to God, bow down on our knees and do the dirty work, or do we allow our life to remain torn up and turned upside down, unfinished, undone?

Once we begin, we realize that it's not as hard as we had thought -- we build upon the progress we've already made. We don't need to start from scratch, we use how far we've already come as a building block to bring us further in our journey. God fills the gap of difficulty, if we allow and trust Him to.

If Pepper hadn't torn up the garden in April, would I have missed this blessing, this beautiful sight, this breathtaking gift? Would I have missed what God wanted to give me from this opportunity for growth?

What are we missing when we are too caught up in raging against what's "unfair" to notice how much He loves us?

When I wrote earlier this year that I longed for God to be the Vinedresser in my life, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew it would be worth it. My heart calls to Him for perpetual pruning.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Even though I didn't know how to even begin, once again, God led the way. I spent the month of April and May working through what I needed to, and during my time in Michigan, found healing and closure beyond what I had ever thought I'd find. It's amazing how something so broken can become so beautifully restored when we're willing to be raw clay in His hands.

I had every intention of waiting until Pepper leaves us in June before I began to restore my flowerbed, but God had other plans. Even though I was feeling physically miserable, I went to the garden center today, picked up 16 bags of soil, 12 bags of mulch, and nearly 50 perennials. The early bird gets the worm better prices and selection.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

I raised the flowerbed up by adding more soil getting Josh to haul all the soil, I planted most of the perennials I had bought, which Jillian cheerfully brought to the flowerbed for me. I removed the plants that had died from the mishap in April and was pleased to see life already growing in the rest of the plants I had placed there last summer. Even the "twisty grass" which was supposed to be an annual plant, was sprouting new life.

In the end, the garden had weathered the storm stronger, fuller, and more beautiful than ever...

... and so had I.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

God wasn't done yet.

He never misses an opportunity to blow my socks off...

In the years since I planted my miniature weeping cherry tree, I had only seen a few rare blossoms on the tree each spring, five or six at most. Last year, there was only one double blossom. I wondered if I'd ever see it really bloom in this lifetime, but in a way, it seemed symbolic of the way I grieved at the time -- reserved, sharing little.

Since then, SO much has taken place.

Today brought a visual reminder of all that has changed in my life.

Hundreds of delicate, pale pink double blossoms
covered the entire tree
in celebration of
of joy,
of LIFE.

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

What an incredible gift from God.

The timing was His... that the tree would be in full bloom this year is no mistake. God is rewarding the journey, and giving me the gift of seeing the fruits of my faith.

The tree of sorrow has given way to the tree of life -- life in full and glorious bloom.

Yet, in other ways, I also can't help but be reminded of some of my recent journaling...

Does a flower not bloom to its most magnificent glory just before it loses its life and withers and fades? Does that knowledge keep it from blooming, or does it make it all the more determined to bloom as beautifully as possible, taking our breath away with the fragrance of it's short lived life? Does it ever hesitate or fear?

Bloom purposefully.

"Beautiful Things" lyrics by Gungor.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Compassion Blog: We Are Making A Difference

When we think of sponsorship, we normally think of the difference it can make in the life of a chlid. It definitely does make a difference in the life of that child, that child's family, and in their community....

But what if I were to tell you that it makes a difference in the sponsor's marriage?

What if I were to tell you that it could radically change a sponsor's husband?

I have experienced this first hand, and I had the privilege of sharing this experience on Compassion's website recently.

Will you join me here to find out more?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Noah

We have welcomed another one of God's precious children into our family through sponsorship!

Please meet Noah. He is 8.5 years old, just a month younger than our daughter. He lives in Kenya. Noah lives with his mother, and has six siblings. He loves to play soccer, and so do we! He had been waiting for a sponsor for 444 days... 444 is a long, long time to wait for sponsorship. I would love to be there when he and his family receive the news that the wait is over.

We are his, and he is ours, and God orchestrated it all. He joins Bessy (Honduras), Lizbeth (Bolivia) and Suwanna (Thailand) in our Compassion family.

This is the first boy we've sponsored, and the first sponsorship from Africa. The kids are SO excited about Noah! We haven't received his information package and photo in the mail yet, but we'll have our first letter ready to send tomorrow... we are so eager to get to know him and his family!

If you sponsor a boy of a similar age, what kind of things do you like to send with the letters?
Saturday, May 01, 2010

Prayers & Support


On June 26th, I will be joining Compassion International ( on a mission trip to San Pedro Sula, on the northwestern coast of Honduras. As a Compassion Advocate, I will be working with those most in need, the poorest of the poor, in conditions that none of us can possibly imagine without having witnessed them in person. I will be documenting my trip online through this blog, sharing photos and writing about my experience while in Honduras in order to raise awareness of the need for child sponsorship. I will be witnessing first hand the difference that Compassion International makes through the local church in the lives of these precious children, their families and their communities.

Although it will be a heartbreaking experience, I believe it will also be a great opportunity to experience the gospel, to be His hands and feet for those in need.

Having followed the Compassion trips of other bloggers to Kenya, India, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Uganda in the past, I know that I will need the support of prayer to prepare my heart for what I will witness and experience during my time in Honduras, and for the transition as I return home after this life-changing experience and learn to live a "new normal" with a changed and broken heart for those in need.

Please join me in prayer as I work alongside Compassion not only on this trip, but in my work as a Compassion Advocate. Pray for me to have the heart of Jesus, to serve like He did, to honor Him through my words, my actions, my heart, my life, and to have the strength to continually reach outside my comfort zone to share Him with others. Pray for the children still in need of a sponsor, that we will help them connect with the sponsor God has chosen for them.

If you are able to offer financial support for the travel costs of this trip (airfare, lodging, etc), your contribution would be greatly appreciated. I have set up a Chip-In button on my blog for contributions. God will stretch even a one dollar donation into a great blessing. I know that not everyone is in a financial position to donate, know that your heartfelt prayers will be your priceless contribution.

Thank you, beyond measure, for your prayers, your love, and your support.

If you would like more information about the work that Compassion does, or if you would be interested in sponsoring a child, please don’t hesitate click on the following links:

Canada --
Click here!

U.S.A -- Click