Our Sisters in Africa

Take a hop, skip and a jump over a few continents and you find a tiny transformed village.  By plane, by bus and lastly by foot, we reached Adacar this past July and oh, what an amazing sight it was.  Our time there was short, relatively speaking, five full days and when I say “full” I mean it.  One of the most special times there was the visit to our sponsor children’s homes. I could go on and on, but I want to share this story about one of my sponsor children’s (Martin’s) mom, this lady is pretty amazing and after my visit to Adacar this summer, I find myself praying for her almost every single day because she’s got a huge job ahead of her…

As far as I can tell, Martin has four brothers and sisters and at least three of these, besides Martin are sponsored through Children’s HopeChest.  Martin looks just like his mother, ebony skin, high cheekbones, searching eyes, distinct nose, but I noticed that his other brothers and sisters didn’t resemble the two of them too much.  Slightly peculiar, but I know families there can be just as blended as ones here. The children adapt and life goes on, right?  Sorta. 
Martin has a slightly younger sister (15 or 16) named Betty.  Betty is beautiful, sweet, kind, lights up a hut.  Her and Martin seem to be very close, then comes Nicholas, talk about all smiles…an amazing kid and then the littlest (can we say cutie-cakes?) is Lucy and, as far as I can tell, they have one more brother.
As Martin led us to his hut, he signed something to our team member, Maddie.  She translated, “Martin apologizes for the appearance of his home.”  What?  I thought.  A hut is a hut. We got there, waited a while for his mom, hung out with the neighbors and their children–and waited a little more, finally Betty piped up and said (in Ateso), “Mom went to get the water jug fixed.”  Their only source of “running” water had sprung and leak and mom was out trying to get it repaired.  I don’t know where or exactly how, as it’s not like Target is just a mile down the road, but about 10 minutes after that, I hear, “Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi!!!!!” –a customary joyful expression of the women in Adacar–getting closer through the bush.  Music to my ears.  Martin’s mom comes running through the tall grass with the water jug on her head and embraces me.  It was a pretty cool moment.  We chatted a little while through the interpreter, she showed me around their homestead, a large dirt circle about 15 feet in diameter with three sturdy huts around it and one hut (possibly used for food/grain storage) in need of repair.  For the middle of nowhere, I have to say it was pretty beautiful.  Simple. We were taken to Martin’s hut, yes, it appears that the oldest child gets their own hut–a cool custom.  We chatted some more and I gave her the few gifts I got from the small town store for her.
This year’s visit to Adacar and seeing Martin’s whole family set things in a tailspin because their story is deeper and more complicated than I initially thought, in a story recounted by Betty to one of my teammates (cutie-pie Lucy’s sponsor): Martin’s biological mom and dad married and had two children.  At some point Martin’s father left Martin’s mother and married another woman, and had three children with her.  This woman died, and now Martin’s mom has taken charge of ALL the children. The father is nowhere in the picture. It appears, though, that his dad is still alive, because Martin gave me his cell phone number…
Wow.  Here is a woman, day after day, cooking, cleaning clothes, providing food and water and caring for three children that aren’t even her own ON HER OWN.  I’m astounded and challenged by her strength, love and her selflessness. 
I know this isn’t an isolated case, though, there are woman all over the CarePoint who are loving and providing for children who aren’t biologically theirs because one or both of their parents have died, either from HIV, or malaria and may have just left.  The enormity of their generosity puts me to shame and at the same time energizes and pushes me forward because I can see the supernatural strength that God has given to these women–and how their Maker, their Husband is providing for their children.  It sends chills down my spine to see the gospel in action: the Father of the fatherless, the Defender of widows setting the lonely in families, it makes me want to send up a couple of my own “Yiyiyiyiyiyis.” 

This got me to thinking, when do I feel the most secure, the least worried, and close to zero on the tense meter?  When I know my child is being provided for, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, when I don’t have to struggle to get these needs met. 
There is something tangible that you can do to give our sisters hope: support their children.  Imagine living in a world with no government subsidies, no free education and your food source heavily dependent on the weather and what you’ve been able to grow with your own hands.  The odds seem overwhelming.  But here is what HopeChest, through sponsorship, does in lightening that burden in very tangible ways, by providing:
-school fees and money for their uniforms
-regular Christian discipleship
-each sponsored child yearly physical exams and helps pay for medical emergencies
-one hot meal a day, sometimes, the only meal they get
-each child in the program also gets a goat, which can be used for trading in the market place
I know I’ve written sponsorship posts before, so maybe I’m a broken record. 
Over and over again, we are admonished in Scripture to put feet to our faith:
“What is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds, can such a faith save him?” James 2:14
“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
I’m going to be honest here: I tout Children’s HopeChestbecause I have SEEN the results with my own eyes: I have seen the hope, the life, the change it has brought about in these children’s lives and in their parent’s lives.  I have seen the TRANSFORMATION of an entire community in just a four years and I have seen what hours of prayers and commitment and love and traveling just once a year to say “hello” will do, and this verse in Isaiah LIVED OUT.  It is amazing and indescribable and just. Wow. God.

So yes, I want you to sponsor a child, but I also want you to accept them into your heart and into your life, into your family’s lives.  I have two sons: Martin and Paul who are growing into men who will one day be husbands and fathers and have important jobs to go to every day whether that is in the field or in the classroom or in an office somewhere in a big city. 
We all share a very important job, let’s roll our sleeves up and get to it.

Contentment Found In The Strangest Places

It was just this past Sunday evening when it hit me, square between the eyeballs while I was kneeling on the floor of Little A’s room.  Sometimes she is awake for these prayers and other times not, but after we close the Bible, I’ll plant my knees on the carpet beside her bed and say a prayer, no matter how tired I am, how done, how ready I am to go to bed myself, I do this, and if you think about it, He was not to weary to kneel for us (Luke 22: 39-46).
I’m not going to kid you, I’ve been struggling with contentment, because after five years, things are a bit lonely, and no matter how many books you read by Elisabeth Elliot, you still want to slip your hand into someone else’s and look across the room and see them looking at you and have that conversation in bed at night before you fall asleep, it’s ok to be brave, but I think it’s even more ok to admit when you want somebody there, but this brings me back to the prayer, the one that Little A is awake for this time, and I just start thanking God for that particular day, a day to:
worship in His place
to serve
to be with friends
to be in nature
to spend time with family
With my thick skull planted into the short nap, I realized just how wonderful God is, it was pretty much the perfect day without me planning it or even realizing it at the time, it was amazing and I didn’t even know it until I started this prayer of thanks, so I’m pretty sure Ms. Voskamp’s got something going on here.
Go ahead, if it’s the end of the day where you are, get out a sheet of paper and write down all the things you did today, the things you were most thankful for and you’ll find that, no matter what you’re going through right now, God is still, very muchamazing.
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he pronounced, O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.  He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.  He remembers this covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.  He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: to you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.  When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.  He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.  For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.  Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.  Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.  Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.  Tremble before him, all the earth!  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.  Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!  The the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good; his love endures forever.  Cry out, “Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.” Praise be to the Lord the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”
I Chron. 16: 8-36

Sometimes You Have to Go to Africa to Get Your Healing

The circumstances surrounding my separation and divorce were devastating and I think one of the biggest things that compounded the pain of it all was that my ex-husband now lives about a mile down the road.  It is actually a pretty good thing when in comes to co-parenting, but really, the pain of that daily reality dredge up some feelings that are incredibly hard.
All that to say, when I took my second journey to Uganda this summer, I really had no idea what awaited me.  Who am I?  A single mom, living in ATL, trying to figure out the trajectory of my life with a passion for the orphaned.  (Sound a little Moses-like?) But really, why was God sending me back?
I had no idea the healing that awaited me, but I as sat under that spreading tree with Martin that afternoon, and the tears just flowed out of me like water out of a sieve, I didn’t know it at the time, but God was putting the final piece of that healing puzzle in place.
Back at home, it took me a few weeks to fully grasp what had happened that day, but I sit back now in awe of how God works, that when we are transparent and willing and say “yes” to Him, then a transformation like no other happens.
When God is asking you to go places, just do it.
When God is asking you make that call, just pick up the phone.
When God is asking you to be brave and do that task one more time, send the e-mail, show up, because you have no idea what’s in store for you.
It will be amazing.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the let, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night , so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1: 5b-9

What Elsa’s Reading These Days

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Duet. 6: 6-9

I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready for work.  Little A had just received this awesome birthday gift in the mail yesterday and had been busy playing with her when I heard a little knock on the bathroom door.

Her: Look what I made!
Me: Oh cool.  What is that?
Her: It’s Elsa’s book!
Me (thinking): Neat. Why does that title sound so familiar?
Her: Look!  It’s your book!

Sure enough Elsa of Erendelle was enjoying the same Richard Foster title I had been reading at the beach a few days ago.  Do our kids really watch us that closely?  Yep, they sure do.

Riding Lessons

Creative Commons Arturo Sotillo
It happened yet again in that parent moment yesterday, as I tried for the first time to teach Little A to ride a two-wheeler.  Helmet? Check.  Brand-new Huffy?  Check.  Willpower?  Healthy dose of fear?  Check and check.

You see, we hadn’t intended on skipping the training wheels stage, but it just happened that way.  I bought training wheels when I bought the bike with every intention and effort to install them, and after an hour or so on the sidewalk with two of my neighbors and the bike in various stages of disassembly, we concluded that no, this was not the kind of bike that accepted training wheels. I knew in my head, though, that Little A could do this.  She could touch the ground while on the seat and that was all I was asking for.  It would take some work, but I knew she could do it.
Then came the coercion, forcing, prompting portion of our day, finally ending in, “We’re going to the park whether you like it or not.”  Me thinking, We’re getting this thing done.
So, we loaded up and at the peak of toasty Georgia day and we started practicing. 
I’m not going lie to you, there was a lot of tears. 
Little A cried too.
Pedal, pedal, push, push.  Became our mantra.  I felt like a combo riding coach/midwife.
I found myself crouching down, towards the beginning of our lessons, getting eyeball to eyeball, saying to her after a lot of body-shaking tear-filled gasps, “I know this is really hard, but Mom wouldn’t have put you on this bike if I didn’t think you could do it.” 
It was that very phrase that hit me in the gut.  You know those phrases, the words that seep out of our lips that we know our Heavenly Father have been saying to us for some time now. 
I wouldn’t have asked you to do this if I didn’t think you could handle it. 
More than running after my daughter, hand on the back of her seat, coaching encouraging, coaxing, it was that phrase that left me breathless.
And then came that moment, that beautiful moment, after about 10-15 minutes or so, when we are speeding through the park grass (it’s just safer that way–I’m not completely insane).  Repeating Pedal, Pedal, Push, Push, she’s got the speed up, bike pointed towards minimal imminent threat and I just let go. And she is one her own, pedaling and pushing, narrowly avoiding the trees and my heart soars and I do a little victory dance inside as I run to congratulate her. 
Remember the moment of Jesus inviting Peter out on the water?  Jesus simply said was “Come” and he did and that was all it took.  No fancy promises, 3-point sermons or motivational speeches, just “Come.”
Has He been speaking to you in the same way lately?  How will you respond?

Laboring in the Dark

Early this morning, before dawn, while reading the Bible, I thought about all the moments I’ve spent on my knees in the dark, wondering what God was doing while I poured out my questions and my anger and my tears.  Still, these days, I wonder what He’s up to in my life, but there are fewer tears and less anger and despair now.

But still, I’m in the dark.

I will always be in the dark until that glorious day when He reveals His face to me.

And all these thoughts about being in the dark made me think about the morning I gave birth to my daughter. My first child–my only child–so no explanation, no idea about those first labor pains starting around 1:30–were they the real thing?  They kept happening, and there was a tearful call to the midwife of, “What’s happening to me?!”  Like it or not, they were real.

Her dad kept time on the contractions while I slipped into the hot running water of the tub.  After a while the lights were too much, so I sat in the dark, with the door slightly ajar so I could yell/whimper into the bedroom that the contractions had started and stopped.

Thank goodness for online contraction timing programs.

And, after the initial drama, things got quiet again, I settled into the water, and bore down, contraction after contraction.  Her dad fell asleep after a while and I stayed in the water, in the dark and pulled down hard with each contraction on the towel that was draped around the towel rod above my head.  I spent about five hours here, and around 5:30/6:00 we headed out to the hospital in the semi-dark to welcome our little one into the world.

Maybe it’s my personality, but that day I preferred to suffer there in the dark, to myself, not knowing exactly what was happening.  In many ways, it was a good thing, even the midwife said so when she examined me after arriving at the hospital, my body was getting ready and by the time I arrived at the hospital, I was close to that transition point your read and hear about.  Still, we kept the lights low for as long as we could after I languished in the shower for a while and heaved myself up on the bed for the delivery.

And all these thoughts about the darkness were on the brain when I read this morning of Jonah.  It feels that there are epic amounts of information and dialogue that are left out of this story, but this is the Word of God, so we trust that what it written is what we need.  So chapter 2 of this book begins with a prayer by Jonah from the belly of the whale–just one–and I’m guessing this was his very best prayer, by virtue of the fact that it is beautiful and yielding and thankful, almost other-worldly when you imagine the circumstances.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.  From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.  You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.  I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’  The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.  To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.  But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.  When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.  Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.  Salvation comes from the Lord.(Jonah 2:2-9)

And maybe your darkness has been three days, or thirty or 3, 372 days and your prayers are beginning to change, you are beginning to sense the beauty that is coming–like labor pains, you know something good is happening because you can feel it and there are people on the other side telling you, you’re almost there, just keep working, keep going because it’s all going to be worth it. And they’re right, because when that baby arrived or that giant something spits you back up, you are grateful to be alive to see this gift of life right in front of you, whether it’s a baby or a new beginning, or a restored relationship or the job of your dreams, it’s happened and suddenly there is light.

The Danger of Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet-Part 3 of 3

photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

This week I began sharing about my struggle with learning how to lean on people again, (finding safe people, I believe is the trick and I believe God will give us the discernment in this area if we ask), I began sharing how I came to this realization through Elijah’s own “lone wolf” mentality:


…the Heavenly Father comes to Elijah like a good father would come to his son, tenderly, patiently, with love: in a gentle whisper, reassuring Elijah, that he is listening and he does love him and that he wants him to keep going.

God is listening, but he doesn’t allow Elijah to wallow, because he has very specific plans and instructions for him, instructions to get help, to anoint kings and to anoint Elisha as his successor. 
Here, God is bringing Elijah into a new phase, unlike those times of past, he is now asking him to enter a time a communion, fellowship and mentorship.
From all of this, I get these two things: that rest is essential and so is community.  God calls us to big things.  HUGE things in fact, but he also offers rest, and in Elijah’s case, he had to be reminded how important community and fellowship needed to be in his life.
We know that Elijah saw himself as a lone wolf and in fact he was, because the words “and I am the only one left” come twice in his conversation on the mountain with God.  Not only has he felt the physical strain of standing up to his enemies being threatened and subsequently running about 250 miles, he is tired and lonely–lonely for a fellow worker to convince him that though he wore animal skins and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8) and seemed more than just a little crazy, he was not alone. 
We have to hold on to who God is, and in order for us to remain refreshed and encouraged we must seek out the body of believers.  It’s a lesson that I’m learning and one I’ve really had to apply this last year.    I am not, you are not crazy.  There are other people out there wearing animal fur and preaching the word of the Lord, or in my case, there are other single moms out there who are trying to hold fast to the Word of God and make sure their children are too.  I had to place myself in a single mom’s Sunday school class, remain in a Bible study, and be vulnerable with people I knew I could trust and whom I knew I would see every week.  Community doesn’t have to be people in your exact life situation, but it helps to have people who know where you are coming from, at least, that’s were I’ve felt the safest.
Yes, community is sticky and can sometimes get ugly and is, but is oftentimes very beautiful too.  Group dating is the bigger picture, it’s about recognizing your gifts, offering them to those around you and if they sometimes get thrown back into your face, trampled on, or ignored, that’s ok, you still need these people anyway.  We do not grow in isolation, we cannot experience the highs of victory, nor can we face the intimidating giants of trials in isolation, we need to know that we have friends supporting and loving us, bringing our requests on the Father’s behalf in more objective ways than our own to know that no, we are not the only ones left. 

The Danger of Prolonged Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet-Part 2 of 3

photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

Yesterday I began sharing about my struggle with learning how to lean on people again, (finding safe people, I believe is the trick and I believe God will give us the discernment in this area if we ask), I began sharing how I came to this realization through Elijah’s own “lone wolf” mentality:

When Elijah’s God proved himself real and faithful, Elijah seized the false prophets and killed them.

And then God then sent rain.  And Elijah ran all the way to Israel, ahead of Ahab, to Jezreel.  When Jezebel, Ahab’s wife and originator of all things Baal-centered got wind of all the killing that Elijah had done, she sent a death threat to Elijah, “May the gods deal with me, bet it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”  (referring to the dead prophets). Elijah ran for his life and went to Beersheba, in Judah, leaving his servant there and continued another day’s journey into the desert.  Here he comes to a tree, heaves himself down and asks God to kill him, “I have had enough Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (I Kings 19: 4).
Been there. 
The fight is hard; there is persecution on all sides.   It is physically exhausting and mentally draining and you want it to stop, thinking it would be easier if we just didn’t have to go through it at all–take me now. 
In shear exhaustion, Elijah falls asleep. 
An angel appears to Elijah with food and drink and encourages him to refresh himself.  He gets up, eats and drinks and then lies back down again.  The angel comes back a second time, touches Elijah and says to him, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”  Elijah does just that, this refreshed him to the point that he could travel 40 days and forty nights to Mount Horeb where God has another word waiting for him. 
In our journey, there are going to be some really scary, physically and emotionally taxing things that God asks us to do: obey, confront, stand firm and see the deliverance of God.  Even when we see the miraculous, we falter, and we become afraid.  God understands this, because, as we see in James 5:17, Elijah was a man just like us! 
But here is a critical point in the story of Elijah, the point that I want you to come away with, when God appears to Elijah at Horeb, they have a conversation, twice God asks Elijah what he is doing there.   Elijah explains that he has been very zealous for God to a people who have no reverence for him.  He goes on to say that all of the other prophets have fallen by the sword, he is the only one left and that they are trying to kill him too, and in a powerful act of wind, earthquake and fire, all sent from the Lord, the Heavenly Father comes to Elijah like a good father would come to his son, tenderly, patiently, with love: in a gentle whisper, reassuring Elijah, that he is listening and he does love him and that he wants him to keep going.
Part 3 tomorrow…

The Danger of Prolonged Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet -Part 1 of 3

photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.  I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  (I Kings 19:10, NIV) Does that refrain sound slightly familiar?  Do we see ourselves as the “only” one going through a particular trial?  Have we isolated ourselves to that extent? 

Independence can sometimes be disguised as pride, at least, in my case, it has.  It’s something I’ve had to face head-on recently.  For the last few years, it’s true that I’ve had to dive in on a lot of things: a new life stage, single parenting and eventually, now, co-parenting.  It hasn’t been easy, I felt like, many times, that I was this lonely pioneer, forging a new territory, confident that if I cut myself, all it took was a decent tourniquet and a little bit of Neosporin and I could keep on trucking.  I had cordoned myself off, thinking that no one else understood where I was coming from, but it was through yet another trial that forced me to come to the end of myself and rely on the body of believers for their prayers and moral support that I realized that God wasn’t asking me to do this by myself.  
Upon receiving some teaching from I Kings, I was reminded just how important community really is and how much we can learn from the prophet Elijah’s example…
The time of the kings was a pretty messy one for the Israelites.  For years, they begged God for a leader like the nations around them, not realizing that here they had the perfect King of Kings guiding and instructing them…nevertheless, God relented and gave them over to these men, but it didn’t take long for these kings to corrupt God’s chosen nation and lead them into idol worship.  Prophets were sent to these kings to warn them of God’s judgment.
Enter Elijah. 
During King Ahab’s reign (the latest in a long line of kings who chose to marry foreign wives, thereby introducing false gods into the mix), he “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” I Kings 16:30.
So, scripture says, as judgment for turning the people’s heart from the one, true God, there would be a drought, per Elijah’s prayers. 
But in this, God protected his chosen prophet, first by having ravens bring him daily food and then provision through a widow.  God performed miracle after miracle in Elijah’s life during the three-year drought.
Scripture says, “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah.” instructing him to go back.  Whah?  Yes, go back, because God was going to use those years of complete reliance on him and extremely close communion with him (brought about by his social isolation) to have him do his greatest work yet: prove to Ahab that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the only God.  So the impossible got to be even more so, even a little bit scary, because in an effort to prove the existence of their false god, Baal’s prophets were cutting themselves, desperate for a sign from heaven to prove that their god was real and was listening to them, when Yahweh had only had to lick up a drenched altar in a flaming second to prove how mighty he is.  When Elijah’s God proved himself real and faithful, Elijah seized the false prophets and killed them.
To be continued…

What We Speak Into Our Children

A while back, I discussed what we read to our children, that it probably has more impact than we realize, by sharing what my mom read to me as a child.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I speak into my daughter.  Words have the power of life and death.
For instance, Little A was two at the time.  And, to say that her twos were terrible would be the understatement of the century, (so take heart, mother of the two-year-old, you will live to see another day).  We were visiting her great-grandparents one weekend shortly after she turned that magic number, I should add here that her great-grandparents are two very godly, wonderful people.  We were trying to have breakfast with them one morning, and when I say “trying,” I should say that Little A was an off the chain, wild child that morning.
There would be no sitting.
There would be no eating.
And there would be no ceasing of the mouth to run.
And if my life had more comedic value, it would have been one of those times where I’d lean in and take her little face in between my hands and say, “Girrrl, you better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.” Because it was just that bad.
And her great-grandfather, just paused for a moment, looked at her foaming at the mouth, half-in, half-out of her breakfast chair, and said, “She– is going to be an AMAZING woman someday.”
There you have it, the words of life, spoken in a moment of frenzy.
There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t remind Little A of what her name means, “Defender of Humankind.” Think she’s got a lot on her shoulders?  You bet she does.
We were in the bathroom one night getting ready for bed, and I felt a heaviness, I went into my regular spiel about what her name means, why it’s so important, etc.  when I told her that it was going to be very important for her to listen to God to find out exactly what He wants her to do in order for her to truly realize His plan for her life and it got very quiet and very serious for a few seconds, and I knew she was listening…
I met a little girl named Fadzwa in VBS last week, and I remarked to her, “Wow.  What a beautiful name.  What does it mean?”
“We are pleased.”
How amazing.
We are pleased.  Not overjoyed, not weeping with gratitude, not setting up the college fund with the hope of a future doctor.  We are pleased that God gave us this gift, entrusted us with this life and found this humble vessel worthy to raise up a child.
We ARE pleased.
I told her mom later how beautiful her name was and she explained to me that it was Zimbabwean.  She said, “That’s so interesting, we’ve never explained to her the meaning, she must just be listening when we tell it to other people.”
See what I mean?
James 3: 3-11
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
What truth can you speak into your child’s life right now?  Go ahead, step away from the computer screen and scoop ’em up and get eye to eye, because they’re ready.