Guatemala

I have done nothing to deserve these opportunities in which God shows me what He’s doing in His people around the world, nor do I deserve the very eyes in which I behold it all; but I am ever grateful.

On September 15, 2014 I embarked on a ten day trip to Tactic, Guatemala with a team of 18 people from my church, Harvest Bible Chapel. Every year Harvest sends a team to serve alongside and experience one of the ministries we partner with. This one is called Impact Ministries. I have never admired a ministry so much! To find out what they’re all about, visit http://www.impactministries.ca

It’s utterly useless to try to convey in words all that is in my heart… Maybe because a considerable portion of my heart is still in the mountains of Alta Verapaz. In a short amount of time, this place and the people have secured an indelible place within me, and I have loved them.

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to: Doug and Kristin Rowland, for being our leaders. Tim and Candy, for putting up with us and leading us well! Hugo and Claudia (and Julie), for keeping us safe, for being so loving, and for the verse. To Les and Rita Peters, who RADIATE Jesus.. so much so that I just wanted to be around you as much as I could! Every time you spoke it was like a motivational speech! Thank you for being so inspiring.. so much like our Lord and Savior. And to the kids, teachers and Church in the Tactic area, I love you and I’m praying for you!

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link to see more pictures of our team while in Guatemala- Harvest team

link to read from our blog while there- daily blog

 

“Depositen en el Señor toda ansiedad, porque él cuida de ustedes.” 1era. Pedro 5:7

 

 

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Peace: A Eulogy

 

Just before Jesus was arrested and suffered his crucifixion, an approaching time which He was fully aware of, He spoke of peace to His closest friends. John, being one of His closest, recorded Jesus as telling them this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.”

As the world gives…

The Son of God experienced the worst of what this world gives. It gave Him death. Surely, we have that same inheritance. At one point or another, we know death is a part of each of our lives. Yet Jesus spoke of peace.

Family and friends, loved ones of my Uncle Steve, my heart grieves with yours. The truth is, this life is hard. We experience trial and struggle, loss and heartache, pain and disappointment, illness and disease. For this, we can be glad Steve’s body no longer toils here. But for those of us here now, to where do we look for peace?

Beloved, I don’t have any magic words to cease all our sufferings. And though I would if I could, I cannot open our chests to wrap healing hands around our hearts, or mend the fractures and brokenness. Nor can I somehow fill those places of loss that feel like holes in our hearts, as if very pieces of ourselves were missing. No, I cannot do these things. But I know the One who can.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul, in the midst of great hardship, penned this, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Suffering flows over into each of our lives, yet I have in turn experienced a comfort in Christ which overflows. This is what I have to offer to each of you. Allow me to share an experience with you.

Some years ago, while I was away at college, I came to a particularly low point in my life. My heart was broken. I was suffering feelings of loss, loneliness and despair. There I was, broken and in tears, on the floor in the middle of my third story attic room, alone. In my sadness I closed my eyes and began to imagine what might possibly bring me some relief and comfort. I thought of a hug. If I could just get a hug from someone, someone who loves me, to have them close to me, maybe that would bring relief? I imagined hugging my Mom and Dad, yet that brought me no peace. I moved on to imagine embracing my brothers, my sister, my grandparents, a boyfriend, but still my heart found no peace. Then, when I had exhausted all the possible vessels of comfort in my life, without any announcement, suddenly and unexpectedly, a man robed in white came to my side. He knelt down beside me and gently put His arm around me. At that moment, peace flooded over me. It was a peace I had never known before, but was exactly what I was searching for. I found peace, comfort and healing that day in the presence of Jesus Christ.

And this is the same peace He spoke of to His loved ones, and to which He now offers to each of us. Not that He took away all my troubles or His disciples’ hardships, but that He walks through them with us. Though I don’t compare my grief in that time some years ago with the grief you are feeling today, I can assure you of God’s desire to hold you in the midst of it. If He came to me in my time of need, how much more does He long to hold each of us at such a time as this?

Such a time as this…

We may struggle with questions at such a time as this. Questions of why. Questions of doubts and fears. Maybe even questions of resentment or anger. And that’s ok. It is in our difficult times that we discover whether or not we really know God and trust Him. The God I’ve grown to know, mostly through times of turmoil, has taken and is still making good and beautiful things out of the mess, heartbreaks and things that just don’t seem to make sense in my life. And that is my prayer for us in this time. That although we are hurting, God would use this time to draw us closer to Him, and closer to one another in love. My prayer is that we come to know Him, each of us personally, in a way that grows our faith and trust in Him, so that when troubled times come we may have a peace that surpasses all understanding because we know and trust in a good God. A God who is in control, even when our worlds fall apart and things don’t make sense. In Matthew 10 Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father’s will. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Like you, Steve is worth more than many sparrows to God.

May we come to know and trust in the God whose ways and thoughts are not like ours, but are infinitely higher. May we know and trust in the God who loves us and has a plan for each of our lives- to give us hope no matter what this world gives us. The God who looked upon His world, saw pain and a problem that we were helpless to solve on our own, and willingly stepped down into our darkness to be with us. To make the way FOR us. A way that leads to life everlasting, not just after our time here draws to an end,  but for right here and right now. See, the Psalmist David, one who knew God intimately, wrote that, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

He is close, dear ones. Let us call on Him while He is near. That we may be comforted and have peace, as we take our good memories and loving moments we shared with Steve forward with us. That we may be thankful for the time He gives us to share our lives in love with one another, and hopeful to have every tear wiped away by the Lord Himself in Heaven.

Until then, let us seek to know Him now, the One who brings us the good news of peace. For “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”

May “grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

 

 

*In memory of lost loved ones. Dedicated to my Aunt Peg, Jenny and Jerry, and all Steve’s family.

 

 

Patience

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Fertile valley and wild hill
Such is the landscape of my heart
Twist and bend and secret place
You who have known me from the start

What faithfulness, what patience
In my small life You have displayed
Kindness reached His hands to me
As brier pushed my heart away

Tangled mass of prickly plants
Or windblown and battered peak
He who called me by my name
Knew in time His heart would I seek

O, what patience

A Sunset Heart

Sunset light…

It bathes in beauty all it touches.

Everything just looks better… More golden.

Yet what qualities revealed by this golden light don’t just spontaneously appear the moment the sun alights from its zenith. The beauty is always there. We just need to see it differently.

What if we looked at one another as if we were each standing in the sunset light?

What if we chose to see the best in others, like a sunset filter were placed over our hearts?

I’m not suggesting we overlook things that are unjust or wrong, or disregard truth. Nor am I suggesting we paint everything this golden hue simply because it’s easier than dealing with our own integrity of character. However, sometimes people achieve great things simply because there was someone who believed they could.

I want to see the best in others. After all, where would I be if I hadn’t been seen through the eyes of grace and mercy? Oh let grace and mercy be my sunset filter.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”         Romans 5:6-8

the field

After the harvest is complete and the land has given of all it bore, the fields are left. Stripped, empty, shaven and shorn down to the scalp. What good things there were have been given freely and lovingly. Now what remains is a barren space, exposed in the raw to the brutality of the winter wind.

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Maybe you’ve felt this way before? It would be a falsity to deny ever having found myself in such a condition. I have been those fields. Stripped of all I had to give. Cut and torn down to the bone. What I once gave so freely was now exhausted and unreplenished. What now did I have to offer? I am a desolate wasteland.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. With empty hands I lifted them to the only One who can make something out of nothing. I have nothing, Lord. But I believe my emptiness is another way for you to show me your power, glory, and beauty. What I cannot, you can.

Then the snow falls on the face of the field. When I had my eyes lifted in hopeful expectation, the cold came in a different form. Instead of the wind lashing across its face, the field is now under the full weight of winter. There is nowhere for this field to go. It must sit under cover and wait. Yet in that close space the quiet steals in, almost shocking in contrast to the howling of the winds. It is here, in the close and the quiet, where the Lord is found…Where my ears can hear his gentle voice.

“Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”          Isaiah 43:18,19

In this heavy space I struggled and pleaded. Please lift this from me. But the more I struggled, the less I could see what was really happening, there in that close and quiet place called waiting.

You see, under the snow, the tired field is insulated from the task of the cold wind. Under the snow, the field that was plucked over is now at rest. Without this rest, there would be no replenishment of what it needs to once again spring up.

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be fruitful and pleasing to my God. For his kingdom and for his glory. Try as I might. Out of desperation I asked what more needed to be done? What do I have to do to be healed and to have a pure heart? Jesus, I said. You did the work on the cross. You said, “It is finished.” So what now?

Then His words broke through my desperation.

“Wait, my child. You are worried and upset about many things, but only One thing is needed.”

Ah. Indeed it was pointed out to me that I was more akin to Martha than Mary in that moment. I had been distracted trying to prepare my own heart and grow my own fruit. It was as useless as the field trying to grow its own crop without the attention and the work of the hand who very first plants the seeds.

So as I waited there, like the fields closed in beneath the snow, I found I was in the best place I could be- stayed in the healing presence of Jesus Christ. He covered me and hid me beneath the shadow of his wing, drawing me close. It is here in His presence, focusing all my heart and mind’s attention on who He is, where true rest and healing is.

In time, as I’m learning to continually dwell in his presence, I’ve been more and more amazed at just how beautiful my God is, and how loving all His ways. My delight is in Him… And what’s this? In our quiet space when I close my eyes, what do I now see? This field, while still cut close to the ground, is NOT dormant. Watch the small green things and little dark berries pop up. Where it was once empty, new life is beginning to emerge. It may not be in full bloom yet, but knowing this field is capable of growing again brings such relief and hope for what is to come. Where there was always joy found in the Lord, now happiness flows once more. My God is growing fruit. He is making streams in the wasteland.

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.     Philippians 2:13

Beauty in the Beholder

Everything in creation has a name. Everything created serves a purpose. Even weeds. In fact, by the very definition, a weed is simply a plant in an undesired place. I have a growing affinity for these so called mislocated plants. When I venture down a road taking in that which lines my path- white Queen Anne’s Lace and blue Bachelor’s Buttons, or behold a field strewn in the rich hue of Goldenrod, I cannot help but praise the Creator for them.

Queen Anne's Lace & Bachelor's Buttons  For He has made everything beautiful in its time..   Ecc 3:11

  I remember the first time I thought to myself, “How good is God that He makes even weeds beautiful?” These plants that seemingly serve no purpose, or in the esteem of some only serve cantankerously, quite undeniably maintain an inherent beauty. I could intimate what this revealed about God- if even in this sin saturated fallen world His beauty and glory are clearly seen, how much greater is He? How much greater the things that await us? But what did this say about us? You see, I identified myself with the weed. Regarded in the lowest esteem, counted or counting myself as good-for-nothing and many times not even counted at all. What do I have that could possibly make a difference in God’s kingdom and in this world? With nothing to offer beside my very self, I considered the weeds before me. They are beautiful, yes. But I am a weed. I am not enough.

Yet this is called Foxtail, and here is Thistle..”

Foxtail Thistle

But in fact, God has arranged the parts of the body, each one of them, just as He wanted them to be.   1 Cor 12:18 

From nature’s perspective, there is no such thing as a weed. It is man who labels it, and the accuser points his finger. One may be labeled as bereft of value or usefulness, but in God’s kingdom all are valuable and all are essential. These weeds grow to a hymn of beauty, and this reminds me of God’s beautiful purpose for me and an unfathomably sacred value in the life He’s given me. In the lives He gives each of us.  What I lack is not important. He will give me what I need. After all, He gave me my name, and I am called by His. No, I cannot give what I don’t have, but what I do have I give it all back to my Maker. I have a heart that belongs to Him. I am His creation. He made me me. He made you you. In vain I have made comparisons to others- a sweet smelling Rose or a mighty Oak- only to come up short every time. Finally I understand, I am not called to be like anyone else other than Jesus Christ. 

So with all that I am and all that I’m not, with everything I have and everything I don’t, I offer this life back into the hands of my Maker. For it is in His hands His purposes will be accomplished. My dependence is on the One who is able and so much stronger than I could ever be. My heart’s focus is tuned to the One who is the Way. Through love and obedience on my part, He will do more with His part than I could even deem possible. And somehow, He will weave this weed’s short life into His beautiful story.

But now this is what the Lord says- He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.                 Isaiah 43:1