I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free! Psalm 119:32, NIV1984

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Declaration of Intent

She walked right off that plane and into my waiting arms with this declaration of intent:

"I'm going back next year! And I'm taking my friends!"

Back to the 11 hour flight before the 7 hour drive in the sweltering heat.

Back to the rooster and the neighing horse outside her window each morning.

Back to the sheep and the goats, the geese and the cows, roaming freely across fields and roadways.

Back to a people set free from communism but still struggling to find their way in this world.

Back to the church service in a language her ears don't understand and her tongue doesn't speak.

Back to meals around a table with strangers who are brothers and sisters by faith.

Back to the homes of starving children scarfing down bananas and hot dogs as fast as they can swallow.

Back to the brown eyes and the blue eyes searching hard, looking for help and for hope.

Back to the stories told through translators of a Father who never forsakes.

Back to the giggles and chuckles and smiles that need no translation at all.

Back to the songs and the games and the crafts and the children joining in.

Back to the vibrant, jolly pastor and his wife who selflessly serve, who dream great-big-God-sized dreams and who wait and trust in the Lord.

Back to the grandmother who rises early to prepare meals for the team.

Back to the college students who translate stories, prayers, and hope.

Back to the people . . . the ones who have burrowed their way deep into the corners of her heart.

So the morning after she returned home, she shook off jet-lag like a blanket tossed aside on the bed, and she went to care for two sweet preschool boys she had missed while she was away.  Then she came home that afternoon and pulled the coffee can off the counter...the one she had stuffed full of cash and coins to pay for her trip this year.  She sat down on the floor and counted out what she had earned, setting aside her tithe and stuffing the rest in the can.  Then with a smile and a nod, she popped on the lid, and she patted the top of the can.  And she turned to me and said with conviction, "That's my first installment - for when I go back next year."

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go,
and I will bring you back to this land. 
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Genesis 28:15, NIV 1984
Photos of Romania by my dad, who traveled and served with my firstborn on her first mission trip overseas.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Giving Thanks . . . Summer Rain Edition

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm.  He said:
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm . . . ?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens . . .?
Job 38:1, 25, 37, NLT

Continuing to count His gifts and grace . . .

1367  booming thunder
1368  raindrops rolling down the window panes
1369  rainsoaked earth
1370  relief from the heat
1371  firstborn home from her trip overseas
1372  the friends and friends of friends who prayed her through
1373  listening to my dad and her tell stories of their days and the people 
1374  that she came home saying she wants to go back again
1375  roast and potatoes with apple pie dessert for their homecoming
1376  my boy-child's sweet delight at having his sister home
1377  husband hanging a new net on the basketball goal
1378  cooking dinner with my sister
1379  homemade pizza and milk-free ice cream for my milk-allergic kid
1380  praying over a friend

Sing out your thanks to the LORD;
sing praises to our God with a harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
Psalm 147:7-8, NLT

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Friday, July 6, 2012


During the afternoon of the Fourth of July, I stand in the kitchen with my grandmother, decorating cupcakes that we've baked into ice cream cones.  She smooths white icing and shakes red sprinkles onto the tops; I squeeze more white icing and add blueberries. 

We carry them outside for the children swinging a stick at a piñata that dangles beneath the limb of an old oak tree. We gather with neighbors, in the street and in the yard, drinking lemonade and licking sticky fingers smeared with savory drippings of smoked meat and barbeque. We linger in the shade, trading stories and memories, waiting for the stars to peek out and the sun to go into hiding. And with nightfall, we watch as flames shoot straight up in the sky, bursting into brilliant displays of light and color over our heads.

We have gathered to celebrate freedom

And I can't help thinking about this . . .

Half a world away across the sea, my firstborn sleeps.  But soon, she'll stretch weary limbs, wipe the sleep from her eyes, and rise again to join her team.  Together, they'll cook hot meals for hungry bellies and offer hope to hungry hearts.

They'll play "Raţă Raţă Gâscă," and they'll laugh and share hugs.

And my firstborn and her team will tell their new friends about a freedom that lasts beyond this broken world, a freedom that gives hope in the midst of a world that wounds.

I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you . . .
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
Isaiah 42:6-7, NLT

 So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out
 on us who belong to His dear Son.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that
 He purchased our freedom
with the blood of His Son
 and forgave our sins. 
 He has showered His kindness on us . . .
Ephesians 1:6-8, NLT

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