If You Want To Be Moved Today, Read On…

I am honored to share my Aunt’s beautiful account of her mission experience with Healing Haiti this spring.  If you want to be moved today, read on…

 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor…

We made our way back to City Soleil to bring water, one of life’s most precious resources, and good will, to the people that live there.

As we maneuver the creaky Tap Tap and sister water truck into place, the residents of the city gather. Children smile and reach up and out, toddlers wait, for something–they don’t seem to know just what; and grown-ups are all business.  They line up their buckets quickly, looking for any hole in the line to slip into (we call it butting)–some succeed; others are reprimanded by the water truck driver, or our Haitian translators.

There is an energy circulating within the gathering–not upbeat as it was earlier in the week.  More unsettling, as if a storm was far off but brewing.

Our group begun to help;  carrying buckets, hoisting gallons of water to impossible positions on top of small heads; holding small children and babies, praying to infuse everything good thing that we held in our souls into these lovely beings as if for storage when needed.

Two young ladies shielded my team mate and me as we sat  in the hot sun, with a rag just big enough to cover our heads and the young children we were holding. They reminded me of sentinels; their sole duty to give back something to these strange white people whom they trust are here to help.

Later, a man vehemently slaps a young boy about the ears and on his head repeatedly.  I stand between them, helpless–to do much of anything else.  The man leaves; the boy begins to whimper, then sob.  I try to comfort him, to no avail.  He is distant–perhaps anticipating further unrest when finally he must go home sometime today for shelter.

Shelter.  4 by 5 feet, perhaps.  A couch. No bed. Dirt on the floor.  A chicken pacing in front of the towel hung in an opening to constitute a doorway.

 

The morning grows chaotic as the water begins to run out.  The people quicken their pace to retrieve water that they pray will get them through to the next delivery.

The water runs out.  Our group makes their way to the pier, as our driver tends to a flat tire.

When we return to the tap tap, we find waiting an injured woman, her head gashed and bleeding.  As our team mate,who is a nurse practitioner, and one of our leaders tend to her injuries, our translator explains that a man has intruded into her house and attempted to rape her 12-year-old daughter.  When the mother fended the man off to protect her daughter, he beat her severely. Our skilled nurse patched her up with with what tools we had from the tap tap first aid kit.  The woman would go back to her house.  No hospital–no money.  No police–there are none.

Love thy neighbor…

I stand by the tap tap. Lost. Where is God today, I’m wondering?

I feel like crying, and then I do. Stuck. Helpless. Saddened.

A little girl in a dirty white dress sees me from the other side of the tap tap.  She makes her way over to me, looks up at my tears with genuine, adult–looking concern.

Beautiful, deep brown eyes, furrowed brow.

Genuinely concerned.

She takes the hem of her dress and lifts it to my face to dab at my tears.

I hug her close, wanting to savor the utter, simple humanity of this moment.

The injured leaves, the crowd begins to thin.  we board the tap tap.

A morning of tension, a morning of violence, a questioning of faith–redeemed by a small child reaching out–an act as large as God–an act of loving thy neighbor.

After all…

 Marj Hellweg

Mom Thoughts

Written By Amy

We are so thankful for the comments we receive…they are always so meaningful to Jen and I because they are heartfelt, honest, and let us know that you, Jen and I are connecting at some level.

Yesterday, Liz, my mother-in-law, responded to Jen’s post by email.  We wanted to share it with you becasue it is another real voice speaking into this topic.  Liz is a faithful woman of God.  She allows Him to speak into her life, things both difficult and beautiful.  Thank you, Liz, for sharing your heart with us:

I really enjoyed today’s post written by Jen.  The continuation of that line of thinking is how competitive we are with our children – sports, grades, behavior.  How I would judge (a long while ago) a child or family by how that child dressed, combed or didn’t comb their hair etc.  How I could feel jealous of another child and wonder why my child didn’t achieve the same recognition.  Or the flip side – what sort of parent would allow a child to behave that way in a store or restaurant.  It is such an easy trap to fall into – although I have been known to tell a child I did not know to return to their seat or to go and stand by their parent rather than run around the clothing racks in a store.  Just saying!!!
 

Now take that back to Elizabeth and Mary.  One woman would be the mother of our Lord and the other would be the mother of someone living in the desert, dressed in funny clothes and eating weird food.  Yet there was shared joy.  Don’t we all need that sort of trust in the Lord and His plans?  Do we all need that sort of grace to extend to each other?  And just think how both of these mothers must have suffered as they watched their children – just as we sometimes suffer when we watch ours.  And then remember how both of these children – second cousins – died.  John was beheaded and Jesus was crucified.  

Do we ever know the full story behind other parent/child relationships?  I think this is just another opportunity given to us by God to extend grace, leave things in His hands and at the same time recognize that perhaps the best reaction we can have in almost any situation is to smile, offer a quick prayer and praise God that He can be trusted and He is in control.
Thank you for your post today.  I just LOVE when it opens the door for God to stir my soul.

Regardless

Posted By Amy

Hello!  The following post is from a Guest Blogger named Hester.  She has a wonderful blog called Hester’s Heart that I encourage you to visit.  I know of Hester through a mutual friend in Washington state.  She has a gift for teaching and writing and I wanted to pass on one of her lastest posts, with her permission.  Thank you Hester!

 Hester's Heart

REGARDLESS

 
Romans 12:17-19a (NIV 1984)  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.”

Voices raised, frustrations escalated and irritations, evident. Last week, while in the kitchen, I overheard commotion between two of our children.  Back and forth they went until one loudly blurted, “I’m trying to do what God taught me in my devotion this morning, but you’re making it really difficult!”  He emphatically continued, “God told me not to return evil for evil but you make it impossible!” I quietly chuckled and just had to smirk at his unashamed  and upfront honesty. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.  Boy, oh boy. How often do I try to blame others for my actions, that are of course, completely justified?

  • If it wasn’t for the check out lady playing Jenga with my groceries, I could be more patient.
  • If it wasn’t for the man trying to secure a home loan in the bank drive-thru, I could be more tolerant.
  • If it wasn’t for the stores unreasonable return policy, I could be more understanding.
  • If it wasn’t for my disobedient children, I could be a gracious and loving mother.
  • If it wasn’t for her lack of open-mindedness, I wouldn’t feel like judging her.
  • If it wasn’t for their sharp tongue, I wouldn’t have to retaliate.
  • If it wasn’t for his insensitivity, I wouldn’t be so angry.
  • If it wasn’t for their self-centeredness, I wouldn’t have to pretend to love them.
Honestly, I hate the ugliness that wells up inside me when I face frustrating scenarios.  I want to respond honorably, but in my haste, sometimes I hesitate to have reputable reactions.  Time and again, the Lord reproves me of my responsibility in the matter.
God also reminds me of these important truths which are applicable for us all:
  • We cannot change people . . . regardless.
  • We cannot force people to respond fairly . . .regardless.
  • We cannot blame others for our back-lash . . .regardless.
  • We are responsible for our reactions . . . regardless.
  • Our reactions impact our relationships . . . regardless.
  • We must choose to reciprocate in righteousness . . . regardless.
In Romans 12 Paul exhorts his audience with several biblical instructions.  Verse 17 and following pinpoints godly reactions.  “Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Human nature wants to get revenge.  When we are hurt or mistreated we often feel the need to teach a lesson, recover the damage or prove our rightness.  Paul insists we are not to repay evil with an evil response.  Rather, we are to conquer evil with uprightness. Living at peace with others carries weighty responsibility for the believer.   As much as we can, we are to be agreeable and peaceable with others, even when they wrong us. This means we resist the urge to seek vengeance. This doesn’t mean we ignore the offense.  But, it does mean we refuse to be offensive.    Resolution is possible when our reactions are communicated with respect, diplomacy and love. When we respond righteously and the other party doesn’t, we can be at peace because we have chosen to react correctly.  We no longer carry the burden and the shame is on their shoulders.  The reality is, there will ALWAYS be people who annoy us, schedules that bother us and circumstances that create chaos.  Each time we encounter them we have a decision:  a righteous response or an unrighteous reaction . . . regardless.
 
 
 
 

Heart Work: Consider the ways you try to justify your actions/reactions.  Seek the Lord for His supernatural strength to be upright in your reactions . . . especially with the most difficult circumstances. Choose a verse from below to memorize and meditate on this week.  When tensions rise repeat this Scripture over and over until its truth rearranges your heart.

Heart Exam: What specific situation(s) really push your buttons?  Can you identify the root in this matter? Are you prepared to accept your share of the responsibility? What would a righteous response look like?

Heart Changing Word: Proverbs 10:19 (NIV 1984) “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Ephesians 4:29 & 31  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” James 3:9 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.” Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.

Life-Giving? Toxic?

Posted by Jen, Guest blogger Michelle Greydanus

Our presence, words and conversations about or with others are either “life-giving” or “filled with the toxicity and stench of death.” (Paraphrase of Kathy Lee Gifford on the Today Show). I’ve been pondering the truth of this phrase all week and it led me to reflect on I Thess 5:11.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-12 (NIV)
“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Pondering the calling as a follower of Jesus to “Live together” in unity with Christ and the Christian’s role in encouraging and building others up. And how the opposite conversations of gossip and toxic negativity destroy this unity in the body. It builds walls of separation and establishes “armies” of dissention within workplaces, schools, churches and families. Yet, how quick am I to accept and join in on this behavior…yuck…to the Cross again I go.

Guest Blogger: Erin on Motherhood

Amy

Last week I posted an unknown author’s variation of Corinthians 13, and challenged us all to rewrite it for our own lives.  Well, a friend of mine did.  Erin is a mom of three and teaches at the school where Jen’s and my kids attend (I have been blessed to have my children in her class!).  She also has a blog called ThreeByThirty (click on our blogroll on the right) and she posted her version last week in response to this challenge.  It is inspiring and heart warming.

Erin with two of her kiddos

Here is what she wrote:

This morning, I read an entry written by Amy
entitled “How Well Do You Love?”.
I had never read that variation of 1st Corinthians 13 before, but immediately
began drawing parallels with my own life.  Of course, there are parts of that
version that don’t yet apply to my life, which is why I was inspired by the
challenge Amy presented, in re-writing a version that reflects where I am in my
life now.  Despite the non-stop pace of this day (and so many more before it, as
well as those to come), I found myself thinking about this post.  The hour is
late, the science tests that rode home with me sit unscored in my work bag, and
the laundry needs switched (sidebar: the washer buzzed just as I typed
that…a little extra reminder from God, since laundry is, in my opinion, the
worst.chore.ever.??).  All of these factors aside, I feel compelled to take on
this challenge tonight.  I know it won’t be my ‘ideal’, but that illustrates
just how organic motherhood and womanhood can be–tomorrow, this whole
thing could be different.

Here goes…

I can sing the theme song
to Spongebob and recite The Little Mermaid by heart, but without love, I am
merely a car alarm going off during nap time.

I can change the diaper of a
squirmy baby in ten seconds flat while watching a three-year old’s impromptu
dance routine and listen to my five-year old read a book for his homework  I can
chop veggies so fine they can’t pick them out of the sauce, while making a
grocery list complete with a stack of neatly trimmed coupons.  I can hold a
conversation with a magical fairy princess and a Storm Trooper from Star Wars
while tossing a football and blowing bubbles, but without love, I am
nothing.

Love is patient while listening to the
minute-by-minute account of a fight, told by a frustrated child who wants
validation in their decision to show their anger toward their sibling with their
fists.

Love is kind even when I’m overwhelmed and
exhausted, and I’ve heard ‘moooommmmy….?’ for the three thousandth time in the
day…my tone is nurturing and calm.

It does not envy the
mommies who somehow have time to work out, have standing pedicure appointments,
or a wardrobe from stores I can only dream of shopping in…but trusts
the Lord
to provide me with my own joys and pleasures as ‘treats’ for
myself.

Love does not brag about the blessings which
have been bestowed upon us.  Love rejoices in the blessings God
bestows upon our friends and family.

It does not boast,
when I’ve come home from a full day of work to prepare a healthy and
well-rounded dinner for my family when my husband’s ‘chef’s special’
incorporates peanut butter and jelly with bread.

Love is not
rude
, even when other customers at the grocery store are oblivious to
the family circus I am trying to keep under control, and run into my children
with their cart in an attempt to be first in the check out line (despite the
screaming baby in my car seat)

It does not immediately seek after
glory
after I’ve unloaded the dishwasher, or folded the
laundry.

It is not easily angered by other drivers who
*love* to drive in my blind spot, or by an endless slew of red lights on
mornings I’m already running late and evenings I
just.want.to.get.home.

It does not delight in evil when
I’m obviously right, but rejoices in the truth…that I
was right. (room for growth…I know!)

Love does not
give up hope
when you’re supporting your best friend through the fight
of her life.

It always trusts God to watch over my
husband when he’s driving in the middle of night on limited sleep, to keep my
children safe when I can’t be there or can’t put my ‘mommy bubble wrap’ around
them.  It always perseveres…through 3 kids in 5 years,
thousands of miles from family, non-traditional work schedules, crying babies
and tears, angry outbursts and tragic loss.

Love never
fails.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your life with us Erin!  If anyone else has decided to rewrite this scripture for their life, please email it to us (if you feel so inclined) at gracefullhome@yahoo.com and let us know if we can share it on our blog.  If you are reading this on email, please click on the GraceFullhome link above to see new pictures and other fun stuff on our sidebar!

 

 

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