Saturday, May 2, 2015

Slow down

As I sit here rocking my baby at 6am because he won't go to sleep but doesn't want to get up, I'm reminded that sometimes the Lord gives us these moments as a reminder to slow down. It's Saturday morning. I don't have to be anywhere until 1pm. I had ideas of what I could do today before 1pm but none of them were urgent or, in fact, even important or necessary at all. They were "fun" things I'd concocted to make my kids happy.

I think I spend so much time trying to have fun with my kids and go take them places that I forget to stop and realize that watching cartoons on tv, snuggling with mom, and laughing about Mickey Mouse's laziness (because, as my older son pointed out, Mickey relies way too much on his "handy helpers" and would be better off just doing things himself) might be just what we all need.

The pace is so fast here.  "Here" as in consumer-driven, child-centered U.S. of A.  I'm guilty too. My kids have school, swimming, baseball, music lessons, play dates, drama club, and more things that I'm too tired to think of right now. It's so easy to get caught up in everything that everyone else is doing!

But with summer fast approaching, I'm going to do something different. I'm going to NOT sign up for summer camps and summer swim teams and summer activities. And if my family gets a vacation, it'll be to relax, not to go, go, go. You here that, sweetheart? I know, I'm the one always pushing us to go, go, go, but here's my admission of wrong. I'm going to regret putting that in writing...

A couple days ago I rushed off to grab dinner before baseball practice. We pulled into the drive-thru, ordered, got the window, and I realized I didn't have my wallet. [Where are those pay-it-forward drive thru cars when you need someone to surprise you with free food??]  I had to leave without dinner and take my kids to a practice where they'd be running and playing for an hour and a half without food! Luckily, I scrounged up $1.07 in change from the mini van carpet and, even more luckily, McDonald's had their double cheeseburgers on sale for $1. I had enough to feed the one kid who had to practice and Stephen grabbed the rest of us food, you know, since he had actual money, and brought it to practice a few minutes after we arrived.

And then... right after we got to practice I saw lightening. The mostly clear sky got dark out of nowhere and gray clouds moved in, pouring water all over us. Practice got cancelled and we went back home. I was driving home frustrated about "wasting my whole evening" when I looked up in the sky and saw a rainbow.  A beautiful rainbow.

I pulled into the little beach area of my neighborhood (have I mentioned this neighborhood is amazing?) and jumped out of the car to take a picture with my phone when I noticed the rainbow was actually two rainbows!

We could actually see the colors of light hitting the water. There wasn't a pot of gold, no, but it felt like a smile from God. It felt like a reminder that He's got everything beautifully, perfectly, completely under His control.

I need to slow down.
I need to believe Him, not just believe IN Him.
I need to be still and know He is God.

And I'm so excited to see what God can show me in those quiet moments.

Two hundred and fifty

Two hundred and fifty.
Two hundred and fifty.

That's the number I saw in my dream last night.

See, it's been in my head for a while. My friend Alli came from Cambodia and talked about the work they are doing there. She mentioned that the boys center, which had a regular attendance of less than 20, sometimes a few more and sometimes less, when we lived there, just after they opened their doors has grown. She said they have over 250 boys who they now know. There are more that come, too.

But that's the picture I see in my mind that just doesn't go away. It makes me smile to think of it. I get chills and butterflies in my stomach when I try to picture it in my mind.

I can hear their little feet running up the stairs in the building where the concrete walls amplify every sound. I can hear their laughter from every room as they play games and play with toys. I can imagine them standing outside the doors waiting for it to open each morning and running in, throwing off their shoes, and grinning at each other as they race for the room and hug the staff.

And last night I dreamed I was there with them.

I saw two hundred fifty faces, two hundred fifty smiles, two hundred fifty little hearts thumping with joy, five hundred little hands, and five hundred little feet. I could see it and smell it and hear it and my heart was full of joy.

I was there in my dream. I was right there with them all, laughing. And I woke up from it at 3am with my heart both heavy and joyful at the same time. I began to pray for these little souls. These little boys who have found a safe place to be little boys. A place to play. A place to grow. A place to be loved. A place to learn of Jesus. Of the God who created them and knows their struggles and knows their joy. Of the Jesus who gave his life for their lives and asked for nothing in return.

Somewhere in the depths of my sleepy mind, I saw this as a promise from the Lord that I will see this soon. I'm not ready to talk about that yet since I'm still processing it myself, but I knew at that moment it was true and it brought me incredible joy. I also found an overwhelming desire to pray for them and the leaders there. And I did at that moment. Sometimes it feels like all I can do for them from here. And then I realize that it is no small thing. The God who is here listening to my prayers is also there holding their hands. He loves them and loves for me to pray to him on their behalf.

So of course he loves it when others pray, too. I need you to join me. Pray to the God who sees.  Pray to the God who hears our thoughts even before we pray them. Pray to the God who died for us. For them.

Let's lift up the staff in Cambodia, the financial supporters around the world, and the children who are receiving just a touch of God's love every time they enter this safe place.

There is power in our prayers. Let's pray now and see what mountains He will move in Cambodia.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My heart is full

As the date that marks 3 years since I returned from Cambodia approaches, I find my heart full to the point of overflowing. My heart is heavy for those in the world who are hurting and joyful for those who've found restoration from dark, horrible places.

What a week I had.

First, I hosted my friend who is the director at Hard Places, Cambodia, where the boys and I would visit each week to play with kids. I can't talk about this without crying and I have to leave in a minute to go to get my kids at school, so I'll save that for later. 

Then it was my birthday, and my boys, who are growing older and wiser and more beautiful every moment, showed much kindness and compassion to me as I had a bit of a rough day. My friends showed up at my door with gifts, one after the other, so I felt a little love throughout my whole day. As I often struggle with the question of why God has me in North Carolina when I say I'm willing to go anywhere, moments like that show me a glimpse of the Father's love for me and remind me of His purpose for me.

Oh. And then we visited the IJM Global Prayer Gathering in Washington, D.C. where we heard stories of injustice all over the world but also stories of rescue, restoration, and redemption. It was such a moving weekend for my little heart that I can't even write about it yet. I wouldn't know where to start, so I'll save that for later, too.

What's on my mind right now, and pretty much every moment of my life lately, is that I want to do more.

I want to use my time more wisely. I want to spend my money more wisely. I want to change the way my kids see the world. I want to celebrate victories against sin and weep with victims. I want to pray fervently and passionately to my God, who I know hears my every word.
I want my eyes to transform into the eyes of Jesus and see others as He sees them.

I want to do more.

And I want others to do more, too.

So, I figure I'll just open up my broken, confused, but joyful heart and share what I learn as I pray Jesus shows me ways to help. Maybe someone will join me. That means I need to get more words on here instead of keeping them all in my brain.

I am working through Bible studies on missions and working with my church to give more to missions, both here in my backyard and around the world. As I learn from this, I feel the Lord telling me to share. To share my weakness, to share my strength, to share my heart.

So here I go.  It's how I'll do more. 
I hope you'll join me.