Rise.

It hit me hard, that Easter morning. We had gathered in a large school auditorium to celebrate our resurrected King. As I lifted my voice and my hands, I heard someone whisper. It was a sweet voice, singing a joyful song. Internally, it grew stronger with every external beat of the drum.

“Alive, alive, my Jesus is alive, alive forevermore,”

she sang, merry and happy and free. It was one of my translators — one of my friends. I set her voice on repeat, and it brought me back to a place up in the mountains — the Andes of Peru.

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I wanted to go back. I wanted to run “home.”

I prayed as the faces of my Peruvian friends flowed in and out of my conscious thought. I prayed for them and for my return, because being patient doesn’t come easily to this growing girl.

I am excited about God’s plans for this summer; I really am. But I want to go to Peru after this next trip. The doors seem locked and the way seems shut. But I pray anyway, because I’m stubborn and passionate and crazy like that.

Crazy like that.

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I posted this ^ collage on Instagram that Easter evening, knowing no one really cared and not caring that they didn’t know — didn’t understand. The caption I typed said, “…Because I just missed Peru today. Like crazy.” It was crazy; why would my sweet translator’s voice sing to me while we thanked God? It was crazy because it had been a crazy day; how could Peru be on my mind? It was crazy because I couldn’t explain it myself.

I’ve learned that my calling follows me everywhere. It is the bootstrap by which I pull myself up everyday. It is the purpose for which I work every week. It is my joy in serving my King.

Therefore, I’ll go back — someday. Someday, someday, someday I’ll kiss all those precious Peruvian cheeks again. But not until it is time — not until I am ready, perhaps. Lord knows when that will be or how long it could take. But in the meantime I’ll sing with a heart of gratitude — thanking God everyday for saving and calling and remaking me. Hearing that sweet voice rise with mine, I will sing:

Alive, alive, my Jesus is alive, alive forevermore.”

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 NLT

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Gates of Pearl.

imageWith dust on my feet – dust on my feet and dust coming out my pores and dust ground beneath my nails – I’ll spend my twenty years with a people I love. We’ll grow as family and into family – giving and loving and being like family. God as my guide, I’ll meet them someday – and serve with all I am thereafter.

I don’t know and I can’t see. Not yet, but someday soon – in one of these days – God will lift the veil from my eyes, and I’ll have found my people. Down this path called life and around one of these bends, I’m going to see them. And you know what I’ll do? I’ll run head first toward them, and grab them and hold them so tight they won’t be able to breathe.

And it will be alright, because we’ll be family.

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This – this fortieth trip in twenty years – this was special. And I’m so thankful I got to watch this woman and her people – her Christ-family. They differ in skin and differ in language and differ in being – but they are one in God through Christ Jesus. I thank Him for giving me insight on this dream for which I am waiting. Waiting and hoping and praying with a heart of expectancy, full of a simple joy in the Lord I serve.

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Espero. Y estoy rezando.

I hope / I wait. And I’m praying.

When I serve, the obstacles will grow. The mountains will loom high. The hour will be desolate. Down this old narrow road, I’ll meet Opposition; he’s already waiting on me. But imageI have a secret weapon, and He is bigger than anything I’ll face. In His word I hope, knowing He’s good and believing He’ll triumph. The victory we’ll share is worth the price paid on the battlefield. Actually, I’ll run and meet the enemy, knowing the battle really is already won – knowing I’ll be able to celebrate beside my people, my family. We’ll be found dancing through gates of pearl one day.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5, 6 ESV

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Breathe in Deep.

imageEach time I travel to the third world, a smell permeates the atmosphere. It’s different. It’s pungent. And sometimes it’s oppressive. It’s the first alteration you recognize and it’s the last thing to which you say, “Goodbye.” I have spoke to some people about this aroma and a good majority don’t like it; they find it repulsive.

But I find it like home.

To my missionary heart, that smell is full of peace and rest and goodness. And I only feel those things when I am far away from home. Of course, I have experienced these attitudes in the United States; God provides them in himself. But it’s different when I am away.

It’s real.

It’s not so much the smell that I adore; it’s the things it implies. When I breathe it in, I’m near people I find most beautiful. I’m embracing God’s plan for my life. I’m serving where my heart is at home. Peace is tangible. Rest is inevitable. And when I experience the fullness of His goodness, my joy is complete, bubbling up from places unknown. I feel God holding me tight, as if he were whispering, “We’ve made it to the Promise Land again.” And I so love having him so close.

And, oh, there is nothing – nothing – like encountering these things.

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This smell – dirty, sweaty, and homey – is the smell of Christ at work. It’s that fragrant offering and sacrifice rising to the nostrils of God. It’s the cologne of my life. And I humbly believe that God adores it too.

And this is why I cried. This is why I clutched my dirty t-shirt and held it close to my face. This is why I breathed in deep after landing in Lima.

imageAnd this is why it hurt so bad to leave Iquitos for the fresh air of the mountains.

I love this smell, because I love these people. They make my life rich and satisfying, abounding in joy and hope and peace through God. I’m so thankful that He is good to me. He’s walking me down this path called life, and nothing could be better.

I wish that smell could always stay with me.

But it can’t – yet.

And that’s why I breathe it in so deep when I’ve got it.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1, 2 ESV

The Only Voice

When you give and give and give, you look around and find that you are the one most greatly blessed.

And I want to know what that feels like.image

I want to give not just of my purse, but of my heart, my time, my joy. . . I want to give my God. I want to share him with those I pass on the street corner and those I hug in the church. I want to share him with this one who doesn’t know what it is to hope.

I might get dirty.

I might smell like the sheep I pastor. I might find my bank empty. I might come out a little imagebruised, and maybe broken. And more than likely, I’ll be empty. I’ll have lost my life in the service of others.

But this heart will be full of joy and this life will bloom in the hand of God. Suddenly, nothing matters besides obedience – obedience out of love for a God who gave his all for me.

And when I get to the end of my days, which may be many years yet, I’ll be able to smile wide, with a heart full of joy, despite my scars. The obstacles won’t matter. The disappointments won’t speak. The only thing with a voice will be the one full of praise to my King.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ” John 10:10, 11 ESV

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mi Dios Bueno.

20140228-193953.jpgI can’t believe you’re so good to me. I can’t believe it has only been seven months since I returned from Nicaragua and now, I’ve been to Peru too. I can’t believe you’ve called me to such “a rich and satisfying life.” And the only things I can say is You are good. You are a good God. You are good to me. Your goodness fills my life.

Eres un Dios bueno.

And I don’t know what to say and words never come to share with others and I can’t express what your goodness did in me. All I can whisper is, “Thank you, my God and my King.”

Gracias a mi Dios y mi Rey.

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You are so good to me.

I got to see you move right before my eyes and you allowed me to take part in the blessing of serving others when I really did nothing at all. I can’t believe you’d be so gracious.

But you are.

You’re gracious and good to me. And I’m just full of thanks. Is this – thanksgiving – maybe the only thing you want from me? I can provide this today and everyday. Because you are good all of the time, I can thank you with all of my time. I can live like I’m thankful. Because even when I feel I’m standing on shifting sand, you are good. Even when I’m anxious and scared and wondering, you are good. Even when I’m angry at you for something you did not do, you are good.

And maybe this is the biggest lesson I learned. More than trusting. Larger than patience. I learned that you are good, and I can cling to this because it is truth.

Everyday, you are a good God.

Eres un Dios bueno.

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods.” (1 Chronicles 16:23-25 ESV)

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