Quiet Faithfulness and Its Reward

He gets up at 4:30 a.m. most mornings, gets dressed in the dark, returns from pushing his body to its limits with Crossfit in his fight against diabetes. I start my day nearly 2 hours later, often to the bath water he runs for me or the sound of him making school lunches.

I am married to a good man.

We met in Bible College more than 20 years ago. I married a Pastor, we served The Church together the first nine years of our marriage.

When we left full time ministry nearly a decade ago, we were desperate for a break and a breakthrough. We ended up discovering a whole lot of brokenness. While we loved working together (offices next door and some killer youth illustrated sermons and vacation bible schools), our glass house needed some attention.

So we quit the only thing we knew how to do.

And spent the next five years finding Jesus in the broken places.

faithful

What started out temporary ended up being transforming and more permanent than we could have imagined.

Those first 5 months out of ministry were like a breath of fresh air. They were also terrifying. We were jobless and homeless (staying in a family member’s rent house). On the sixth month, my husband got a job offer.

He took it and has had the same job for 9 years and 4 months. That’s sort of a long break. And I’m pretty sure we can’t call it a break any longer.

So, this pastor-turned-sales-rep reinvented himself. He is smart and hard-working. And his daily faithfulness to the mundane takes my breath away.

My husband’s dedication to his secular job is the only reason we were able to start Mercy House three years ago. His hard work and consistency provides for our family, and has offered me the freedom to serve without being paid.

I’m still married to a pastor. He shepherds our family. He prays with co-workers and shines Jesus in his work. He is a light in our dark world. He spends evenings and many weekends quietly serving in the work of Mercy House.

It has been a hard road. One with turns and obstacles we didn’t expect.

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” -John Piper

But Jesus has been with us down every path. And as we dream of the future and ask God for direction, His invisible hand guides us. For His glory.

Hindsight is enlightening. God rewards faithfulness. Here’s what I’m learning:

  • God uses our brokenness for His purpose
  • What He puts back together, heals stronger.
  • Loving people is a full time ministry (title, position, pay, not necessary)
  • God plots our course for His glory.
  • There are setbacks and tragedies in our journey.
  • But there are also rewards (and sometimes they look like Hawaii!)

[P.S. We just found out that after nearly 10 years on the job, my husband earned a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to Hawaii in August for being one of the top 10 sales reps in his company.. We are going to Hawaii!]


My Walls Talk

My husband pulled the old windows out of a condemned building 10 years ago. Our life was crumbling, our glass house fragile, a lot like the dilapidated building. He brought them home and I cleaned them off and they’ve been on our walls since, serving as a reminder of our brokenness and more importantly, of how God put us back together.

Maps made their way into our lives, as we traveled to places here and there. They serve as the perspective we so desperately need in our safe little world, so we don’t forget all we’ve seen and how the rest of the world lives.

The colorful fun bunting is a simple reminder to have fun, be happy and not take life too seriously.

The large funky letters cover most of my living room wall. They are a proclamation of our emancipation. They are a freedom cry.

REDEEMED.

photo

Definition of REDEEMED

1a: to buy back : repurchase
b: to get or win back
2: to free from what distresses or harms: as

a: to free from captivity by payment of ransom

b: to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental

c: to release from blame or debt : clear

d : to free from the consequences of sin

The word embraces and encapsulates the very essence of who I am because of Who He Is.
I work from home, live and spend 90% of my time here. I want it to reflect the deep transformation that has occurred in my heart and my family.
What does your home say?

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Redeemed – Inspirational Wooden Letters – Set of 8

 

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When God Says Wait It’s For a Reason

I’ve been tentatively walking thru open doors lately.

Some I didn’t have the courage to even knock on.

Oh, life.

But if I’ve learned anything the last 3 years, it’s this: chasing the heels of Jesus leads you into the unexpected, saying the little yes’ everyday, often leads to more opportunities and bigger yes’.

When I wrote about the real estate situation in Kenya, it was to educate current and future donors. But really, I wrote because it was an oppressive weight on my chest. It made me feel better to explain all the impossibilities of owning a permanent home to continue to help pregnant girls and young mothers at Mercy House.

But just days after I hit publish, we stumbled upon a house that was about the same size as the one where we pay high rent, but instead of being priced at 1 million US dollars (like our current home), it was priced at a fourth, $250,000.

After we checked into the house and did our research, we were able to get the asking price reduced by more than $65,000 (the owner loves the mission of our maternity home and needs to sell).

And while that was a steal of a deal in the steep Nairobi housing market, the bottom line price was still more than we had.

Here’s that place I often find myself: the crossroads of I can’t and He can. It’s an uncomfortable gap in the road of life and the only tangible way to bridge the two is faith.

So, I did what all good type A control freak mothers who run a non-profit in a developing nation do, I tried to figure it out on my own. Without getting into all the financials, I asked a trusted generous donor to loan us the difference in good faith that we would pay it back and we tentatively began to move forward.

But just like that, my carefully manipulated plans fell apart and the Mercy House Board gave me one word: wait.

wait

48 hours passed and nothing happened.

Except that I resisted the urge to visit a bank and email all the rich people I knew-which at the time took serious constraint. And I’m serious about that. Because even when you have the power to make things happen and go your way, it doesn’t mean you should. 

Life lessons are hard.

I prayed and waited and as the sun set on the third day and the window of opportunity began to close, God showed up in way I didn’t expect or anticipate. It was big and beautiful and I cried knowing I almost missed a chance to see the Hand of God move.

Because instead of providing a loan, He gave us a gift.

When God says wait, it’s not because He’s not there, it’s because He’s getting ready to show up. We often miss it because we get in a hurry.

“This is how God works. He puts people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness.” David Platt

Not only did He provide the immediate cash I wanted to borrow, He reminded me (again) what He’s able to do–exceedingly, abundantly more and this –this– renews and strengthens the weary (raises hand) to keep going.

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

We are doing due-diligence, carefully navigating and negotiating the purchase of a 3,500 square foot residence in Kenya to house a dozen or so girls, plus their babies (phase 1). This is a small part of the big picture God is revealing to our slowly expanding organization.

I don’t know what the final outcome will be, God may close doors and open others, but I am confidant He will do something amazing.

If I wait and let Him.


When You Need to Be Carried

I fumbled my way through making dinner and pushed down the emotion I had felt rising to the surface all day long. It had been a normal Tuesday like most others–filled with car line drop offs and conference calls, writing, a load of laundry, organizing Mercy House volunteers. I squeezed in a quick visit to my mom who was recovering from knee replacement surgery and hurried home to get an update from Maureen on Skype about her recent trip to visit each of our girl’s families before I started car line pick ups.

Deep breath.

She told me of one our girl’s family who was being severely abused when she arrived for the home visit last week. The situation was so violent and potentially life-threatening, she put herself in harm’s way to offer immediate assistance to this family.

Deep breath.

footprints

And there were another half dozen equally disturbing and overwhelming updates like the first two. Hungry siblings, broken parents, and heartache. We ended our time talking about the real estate situation in Kenya and the big miracle we needed.

I didn’t have time to process it all before I changed hats and sat with my family around the table. Suddenly, the weight of the day and really, the heaviness that has become my normal felt like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I asked my kids to clean up the table and dishes and I told my husband I needed a minute.

Deep breaths weren’t working. I couldn’t breathe.

I stumbled to the bathroom and closed the door. I turned on the bathtub so the roar of the water would block out my sobs. I fell down on my knees and I cried like a baby.

“I can’t do this, God, I don’t know how to do this. The burden is too heavy. The more we help, the more help is needed. You’ve provided so much, but we need more. I’ve run out of faith,” Sobs racked my body as the hot water washed away my tears.

I told God I didn’t know it would be this hard.

I told God I couldn’t take another breath or one more step.

I closed my eyes and I waited and in the depths of my inadequacy and feeling overwhelmed, I experienced this:

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days-when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.” Rick Warren

I didn’t see writing on the wall. I saw footprints, like the ones in the sand from the infamous poem seen on countless plaques.

I will carry you.

I still don’t have the answers. I’m still waiting for direction and seeking wisdom. But I can breath again: I’m inhaling grace and breathing out praise.

When I handed that heavy burden over to God, He reminded me this battlefield isn’t just filled with struggles and scars, it’s filled with victories only He could win.

I am not alone, I’m being carried.

You are, too.


Your Family’s Greatest Mission

“I love what your family is doing, but we could never do that. We are just too _______ [insert one of 1000 reasons].

I cringe every time I hear the words.

I also understand them.

I feel the same way about 364 days a year. “I can’t do this mission. Our family is too human. We don’t know what we’re doing, I can’t even keep up with laundry. I yell at my kids. We are argue and live this grace thing out in ugly ways some days…”

My list of “I can’t and I shouldn’t” is endless.

But living on a mission doesn’t start with doing something for God. It begins with what he has done for us.

“We serve a missionary God. He is all about the sending. We are a missionary people. We are about the going.” -*Jason Johnson.

By nature we are a sent people. That’s our identity. It’s the why of our lives.

The question isn’t Is my family called to a mission? That question has already been answered.

We are called to GO.

Do you wonder what his will is for your family? It’s to go fulfill his mission. We wonder where, what, when… and often get bogged down in the unknown details.

Where are you going today? The grocery store. The school. The neighbor’s house. Wherever you go, fulfill your mission and shine Jesus. Your small step of obedience might lead you to great destinations or it might just lead you to the dog food aisle. Either way, going is half the victory. Because that is your family’s greatest mission.

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

He isn’t waiting for us to be perfect or get our acts together, so we can change the world; He specializes in  using the less-than-perfect places in our lives for His glory.

It’s your mission if you choose to accept it.

*Thanks to my pastor for inspiring this post.