Thursday, December 22, 2016
Relentlessly dismal news hangs over us like thick grey skies, predicting gloomy days ahead. From bomb ravaging Aleppo, to friends’ struggle with cancer, tragic fires, plane crashes, terror and corruption, one might wonder about the Christmas greeting:
Emmanuel - God with us.
God with us?
The question pleads, “Really? Where?”
I’ve been tempted to ask this since returning from Kenya. Our first Christmas home in 5 years but hard realities of living in a developing nation return to haunt me… broken children crawling, limping, hoping for a smile. HIV positive mamas, orphaned babies, millions of abandoned, neglected, forgotten... God with us? I cry at the loss while colorful lights twinkle.
Where is He? The Savior heralded by an angel to lowly shepherds so long ago:
“Don’t be afraid! I bring good news of great joy to all people.”
“God is with you.” The voice resonates in my heart.
I’m reminded of a recent prayer time when an acquaintance assured me with confidence, “God wants you to know He is with you.” Or the stranger at the mall on Black Friday who took a risk by walking over to me, placing her hand on my shoulder and confessing, albeit uncomfortably, “I’m supposed to tell you God is near. He’s with you.”
These reminders shake my core. I recognize the mistake of missing this truth. Instead of welcoming God in the midst of misery and believing He restores all in His time, I expected God to follow my plan to right the wrongs. I forgot; there is an enemy named evil. Sadly, God get blamed for all its ugly turmoil. God also becomes guilty of mankind’s depravities – choices to inflict wickedness that spreads like a pandemic. The consequences ruin even innocence. Maybe God hates evil because its wounds infect us - His beloved.
Our Creator’s great love keeps us from being utterly consumed. He came as a babe who grew to a man. He felt tired, hungry and thirsty. He wept, groaned and experienced agony. His pure devotion, uncontaminated by evil, sacrificed to win our freedom from depravity. He willingly took the reproach forced on Him to remain with us forever.
God came to live with us.
He’s still here.
God wants to reach the desperate in Syria, He longs to rescue the lost from dirty streets, hold the overlooked, and find the broken hidden in far-away hovels. He desires to feed the hungry, to satisfy thirsty souls, to comfort those who suffer and soothe their aches with healing balms.
How does God do that when the earth itself moans from the weight of inhumanity?
God lives in the hearts of those who ask Him. And from those hearts, He touches others with mercy. His truth-bonded grace carries redemption far beyond the temporal. I see it when volunteers work with refugees and when our church shares food boxes with needy families. I read about it in a woman’s post thanking the community for their care during her grief and in beautiful letters from missionaries serving in desolate places. I receive it when helpful hands surround me, reminding me…
God is with you.
As you scan the horrible headlines or live in unnamed sorrow, please know Hope shines even when foggy confusion hovers. Believe the words of the angels spoken long ago –
“Don’t be afraid… there is good news that brings great joy…
Emmanuel, God with us.”
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Why the silence?
For the last 5 years I’ve written thoughts and experiences about our family, ministry and life in Kenya. I posted over 700 updates for those who supported our journey. It became therapeutic and a lovely way to record memories. For the last two months, I did not write. I avoided my blog and social media. It took me a while to respond to emails. I didn’t know what to say.
We’ve been stateside for 8 months. We have a few more to go. When we left Kenya for a much-needed furlough, weariness followed me. While home in Colorado, it shimmed up as my partner. Confusion joined in. Then Frustration appeared forming an overwhelming trio. For the last 8 weeks, every time I tried to write, these three actively get in the way. On the laptop, Word’s “new blank document” screen became my nemesis. I joined a great writing group to spark motivation but became disappointed by my lagging participation. I simply didn’t know how to communicate without feeling tired.
So. Very. Tired.
With that said, I apologize to those who support us for not keeping you updated. Please know how sorry I feel, how lost I felt, and how I’m processing long term life in Kenya - the fight for Henry, the threats of security, the management of effective cross-cultural ministry - all while being a wife, a mom, a friend with profoundly limited strength in a extremely foreign setting. Many of these things are still the reality we navigate from more familiar surroundings. I’m not feeling bad for my self. I certainly detest pity parties. I am recognizing I’ve been emotionally injured and the ever-healing wound sometimes seeps, especially when ignored.
As God nurture’s His “unforced rhythms of grace” within my heart, I’ve found my voice again but it may sound a bit different. Probably less-filtered. I’m searching for my humor though... Might wanna end me a joke to flesh it out...
Thanks for understanding.
- Obviously, for me ~lisa.
- The kids continued healthy transitions to life in USA.
- Henry’s medical needs to be addressed effectively - a consensus on the best course of action. Also, that immigration issues solve without uncomplicated delay.
- Mark’s bio-sand water filter training.
- The ministry in Kisumu – may fruit remain and multiply.
- Henry is doing so well acclimating to school (even though he did pull the fire alarm yesterday).
- His Special Needs Resource Team is AWESOME! (Which includes my super sis!)
- Taleah doesn’t experience anxiety attacks anymore. She really enjoys school, friends and singing in the traveling choir. She plans to attend One Thing at IHOP.
- Tavin’s maintaining his job, car and gym membership. He’s also songwriting, studying for the ACT and is a huge help around the house.
- The Resource Center’s amazing ministry to moms and children in Kisumu.