At first I did not want to go. It was going to break up my morning routine. What a goof I am. To think I would have missed all these smiles and giggles. The girls just seem to beam. I guess it is just a special thing for them to have me enter their world (okay, it could have been the donuts that made them so happy). I can't help, but think of some parallels of Jesus entering our world, only with Jesus it was not just donuts with dad, it was the bread of life offering eternal life so that you and I would never be hungry again. I am so glad I came, and I am way more glad that He came.
I discovered it is no small task to move a website. It is almost done. I found a service that is less expensive than the one I have been using and I will have less administration to boot. So I am looking forward to how this works out. I will of course be thrilled if you navigated over to our web space and looked it over. There are some undone things, but that is the nature of the web. It is a very dynamic place.
This site is for you. Lisa and I do it so we can connect with you. Let us know if you want us to write or talk about anything in specific.
We love and appreciate you. Thank you for partnering with us to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Okay, the sky was on fire on our ride down to see Madison at West Palm Beach. We should have stopped the car, to soak it in, but in typical American cultural fashion, we had things to do, places to go and people to see, and stopping was not discussed. So, this was taken at 75 mph going south on I95. Still, it is beautiful. God does it again. What a creator.
This was not the only God sighting today. I was meeting with Dan whom now supervises me and is our Vice President of Global Advancement. We opened our meeting with a prayer that God would guide us and that we would be open to his movements. That was it, short and simple. We then talked about how we were doing and Dan shared how he felt stuck on an initative that we both feel is vital and even critical to get to our goal of enabling 10 million to become multiplying disciples. Dan shared that he was even discouraged that forward motion on this initative was non existent. Our meeting had gone longer than we had scheduled and so we both looked at our calendars to see when our next meetings were. I looked at mine and some details of the meeting had changed. It had grown from a meeting of four to now 19. I looked at some of the people attending and it stirred something in me that this meeting may be important to us in pushing forward our initiative that we believe is vital and critical to our mission. Dan recognized an opportunity here and rearranged his schedule to join my meeting. Then in an amazing way Dan had the opportunity to pitch the very idea we barely rehearsed in our one-on-one meeting. God gave us favor and we sensed real alignment to moving forward on the initiative that had seemingly stopped. It was amazing, and both Dan and I quietly reflected on our earlier prayer and our discouragement, our idea and the opportunity to move it forward gaining favor with others who are positioned to help us. God does it again. What a way maker.
Thank you for partnering with us enabling us to watch for God's movements and follow His lead. I look forward to unfolding this idea with you in the weeks and months ahead. There will be more stories to tell to be sure. Again, thank you for partnering with Lisa and I as we together help to fulfill the Great Commission.
I love this guy. Today he is seventeen. I asked him what a highlight from this great year would be. Two notable highlights were ready on his lips. The independence driving gives him and going to Amsterdam with Cru. I agree those are great highlights.
"We have an appointment with heaven" our emcee for our day of prayer said in his opening comments. Two times a year our ministry around the globe pauses from mission activity to worship, intercede, and petition our Father. We pray for you too and we are so grateful to have you with us in this mission. Thank you for partnering with us.
See more photos at my Flickr site. Click here.
Called to Lead, Called to Serve was the theme of the 5th Global Operations Leadership Conference. The gathering of these important staff is great for they help to build capacity for our global outreach. The theme was a constant reminder that this group must stand up and lead, and that in that leading it is a sacred opportunity to serve God, our mission, our staff, and people who have come to Christ and who are coming to Him. We enjoyed instruction from God's words to cultivate Godly character, Godly conversations and growing faith to have God help us build systems that increase our capacity to be about the task of helping to fulfill the Great Commission.
The hotel we stayed in was nice, but the fourth day into the conference was a Learning Journey (tour day) and we busted out of our meeting room to explore a little of Greece. What a gift that was. We headed up to see the Corinth canal. Wikipedia says this, "The Corinth Canal (Greek: Dhioryga tis Korinthou) is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek Greek Mainland, thus effectively making the former peninsula an island." Here is a photo I took of it.
However, for me the show was the old city of Corinth. There in the ruins I pictured Paul making tents with Pricella and Aquilia staring at the temple of Apollo just above the Agora (market place) thinking about how to share the gospel with these people. He had just come from Athens, where he saw the huge temples they had built for Athena and Zeus, and although he knew that these structures could never house his God, I could see how it may have been intimidating to confront these people with the truth of the gospel. In Acts 18:9 we see the Lord in a vision given to Paul where He tells him to not be afraid, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent." As we see the masses smitten by idols of control, power, comfort and approval we too need these words reminding us that God is with us, and He is.
Cultures and Communication
After that great day of touring, we returned to the hotel for a couple more days exploring ways we can increase our ability to lead and to serve. We broke into Operational disciplines, and Operations carved out space and time for those who shepherd communication internally and externally to meet. That is where I engaged and my eyes were opened to the challenges of sending messages around the world. The languages and cultures experience words so differently. There are so many sensitivities that it would be foolish to think that a US based team could effectively communicate by itself without the aid of people embedded in these various cultures. I was so grateful to be there. I know that it will help me lead more effectively as we lean into our task of helping countries embrace advancing their ministries through a process of casting the vision of God's mission and inviting others to partner with them.
Thank you for your prayers, and for enabling me to learn better how to lead and serve in our gargantuan task of fulfilling the Great Commission.
It is called OLC5 and it stands for Operations Leadership Conference and the number 5 (this is the fith one since I don't know when). I no longer work in Operations, but there is a two day track focused on Communications and my new team, Global Advancement, is very much involved in that part of our mission. Working in this global part of our ministry really stretches the geographic scope of what I am doing and connecting with these other staff working in communications is valuable. We work with these people to bring back stories of what God is doing in various parts of the world. In addition, this trip will only deepen my understanding of what our ministry looks like in other parts of the world prayerfully giving me greater insight how we will might serve them in learning how to go about trusting God for the resources they need and teaching them how to look for friends who will join them in the mission.
I would covet your prayers as I make this trip. I want to be a curious learner. I want to build trust in what we can offer these global ministries. I want to learn ways that get timily information from our work abroad.
I would also ask you the favor of praying for my family. Travel is challenging, and I think it is hardest on the one that remains. No doubt you have been in the same place with your work.
Thank you for your partnership in helping to fulfill the Great Commisison. Getting to our goal takes many parts. This part is about building capacity so that we can see more lives changed by the person you and I call Lord–Jesus.
This just came in my inbox as I work in Global Advancement,
- In Mandano, Indonesia in 7 days, 30 staff shared with 595 people and 497 prayed to receive Christ.
- In addition, 100 of the new believers went thru follow up 1 that week.
- New believers were invited to share their faith- they shared with 119 and saw 97 trust Christ.
- Multiple generations were birthed that week as new believers shared Christ and started follow up.
That is so cool right? It is a blast to get a "sound bite" like that in the middle of the day. I love what God is doing. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory forever. Amen.
A question many are asking me is, “How is your new role going?” I am grateful for the care and interest. However, I have not figured out how to give a simple answer, for it is a bit complex.
Before I am able to fully dive into my new role, I need to find the funding to sustain us in this mission. This is a challenging task, but incredibly rewarding. We have moved to 77% of full funding and I can’t wait to see it at 100%. Until that day, the majority of my time and energy is spent sharing our ministry with potential partners.
I am delighted that nearly all of my former team has joined Lisa and me in our move to the Global Advancement team. I know them well, and I am finding that the team we are merging with is filled with sharp, competent, and daring people. Yes, daring, they believe we can help mobilize 10 million multiplying disciples by 2020! Incredible.
We have a team retreat next week and a team photo is planned. I hope to share that with you next week. Thank you for enabling Lisa I to be one of those that dare to believe that God will enable us to mobilize 10 million multiplying disciples by 2020.
Remember the story of the goose that laid golden eggs. I loved that story as a kid. I always wanted to have a goose like that. The point of the story of course is that you would want to provide for and protect that goose who brought so much value. Thankfully our leadership feels that way about me and our team. These next two days we will drink in the pearls of wisdom shared at this historic leadership conference. Thank you for enabling me to participate. If there is a site near you and you can give the time to it I wish you could go as well. It is short notice, but I hear they take in walk ins.
We live on giving. To some, that's appalling. To others, it's faith-filled. Some are indiffierent. And others have no category for it...at all. It's a foreign thought. For us, it requires grit, trust, sacrifice, flexibility. It tests us like nothing else. And it is the hardest thing we often do.
But we both believe we were made for our work with Cru. And so we persevere in living on giving. On the flip side of the coin, these people who partner with us in reaching the world for Christ...they love us like mad. And we don't know why. It seems like another incredibly undeserved outpouring of our God's grace upon us.
We have been spoiled the past 10 days with a visit to see our ministry partners in California. A few days into our time here, two of our kids expressed, "Mom, I wish we could live here with these friends." Our kids have seen and experienced much of the challenging side of living on giving. But from time to time, we head to the epicenter of our support and they are cocooned in with us into the silken threads of love. Today as we drive away from these ones we adore, we feel full. We are encouraged to press on in our work. Because we've been loved like mad.
As our flesh hungers for it's fallen vision of justice to be executed on others, judgment occupies such vast space in our souls that there is no room left for compassion, empathy, mercy, or grace. Judgment requires distance to take up residency in a soul. When we coddle judgment, a callous forms on the heart. And our vision of the other becomes skewed. I'm finding it's only when I am “with” another that judgment melts into compassion.
Dennis, Madison, and I approached the razor-wired fencing surrounding buildings expectant to commune with our friend who took up residency there months ago. Six months ago he left our community to serve time. A three-year sentence. The surreal hit us like a brick wall over two years ago when we received the news of his arrest. Our broken hearts pouring forth wails of grief over a friend who had fallen hard. Fallen into places unacceptable to our society...rightly so. He had poured into our sons and a thousand other youth at our church throughout the years. But darkness lurked and prowled and sought to devour. And he bought into the lie...as we all do at some point in time.
The exposure was merciless. Had I not known him, I could have poured out my judgment with the rest. But now this fallen one was "our" friend. "Our" fallen youth leader. The one who'd dined with us on Sundays and played with our family until sundown. Ache and tears and pain filled the space where judgment would have resided had he been a stranger. We were tasting the miracle of the incarnate Jesus. He released in us a hunger to walk beside our friend in the mire, to embrace him in his brokenness. To be “with.”
The One who came down to absorb all that judgment we so deserve. The judgment we brutally throw onto others. His name is Immanuel...God "with" us.
The revolutionary who lived out the loving the unlovely so we'd have a vision for entering into another's darkness. His name is Immanuel...God "with" us.
The One who showed us how to be "with" because it's so unnatural when someone's more broken that we think is acceptable. His name is Immanuel...God "with" us.
And this Jesus moved us to remain "with" our friend throughout his two-year sentencing journey. Because not many were moved as we were, we monopolized his weekends and he became one of us. We were graced to hold him in the darkness, where shame devours the bent over soul.
He spent the first two weeks of his sentence in the massive county jail. As Dennis, Keegan, and I entered the visitation center, surreal hit hard. These visitors were "our" people. People pulling out the stops to go be "with" the one they love. The one they love in spite of the brokenness. We sat at a kiosk in a line of three, only one of us able to talk through the phone at a time. The other two of us sticking our ears around the receiver hoping to capture as much conversation as possible in our 45 minute visitation. And we were surrounded by a roomful of others aching to hold the receiver and commune with their loved one. Laughter, sorrow, smiles, tears. All of us wishing we could touch the one on the other side of the monitor held in another building. These were now "our" people.
Dennis, Madison, and I arrived at the state penitentiary by 7:40 am last Saturday, hoping to acquire a spot at the front of the line. We had to leave the rest of the family behind because they were denied visitation rights. Two long rows of park benches lined a prison entrance. I'd never been so close to one before. The benches were almost filled and we arrived an hour before visiting hours began. We were surrounded by grandparents, mommas, papas, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, children, and friends. We spanned multiple ethnicities. There was no imbalance in color. More stereotypes shattered.
Within 30 minutes of our arrival, the door thunderingly unlatched and a young man walked out with a small Dillard's bag in his hand. His momma and another young man ran to him and embraced him tightly. Everyone began to clap so I joined the throng. With tearful eyes his momma yelled to us, the 40 there to witness his release, "My baby's been in there for three years!" That was the first time I'd witnessed somebody released from prison. And I felt momma's joy. And I ached for redemption to flesh into that young man's soul as one of the visitor's yelled, "Don't you come back!" I pray he doesn't.
I sat next to an older woman who, with a thick Cuban accent, was the consummate welcome wagon. She'd been there the day before as well, visiting her fiance. She'd befriended a striking twenty-something young woman who'd also spent the previous day there visiting her husband. Her style was punk. She had orange, black and blond hair with matching rainbow-colored eye shadow, perfectly applied. She was dressed to the hilt in black. Her daughter of two was decked out in a black sequined mini-skirt and tank with sequined skull and crossbones. They live three and one-half hours from this man they both love and adore. Spending their weekends in Ocala, Florida going between the prison and a cheap hotel, squeezing out every minute they can get with their man. This is their normal. A woman in her 90's dying of diabetes and her daughter joined us. They were visiting their son/brother. The woman's discomfort was great but nothing would keep her from communing with her son that weekend. She has another child in a prison in South Florida as well. Beside us was an academic middle aged man who looked like us, talked like us. He was visiting his brother. Another young woman on my right was visiting her boyfriend. They'd grown up in church together. With expectancy in her voice, she shared, "He gets out in 2021." 2021. And there she was, faithful to drive the distance into the middle of Florida to be "with" the one she loves. Every weekend. This space was filled with a stunning collision of worlds. I longed to sit with these people, my people, and hear their stories. But there wasn't enough time because at 9:15 we were finally invited to enter.
After our processing, we were sent into a large cafeteria-like room to await his arrival. At 9:40 he walked through a door and never have we seen him beam so brightly. His entire being smiled. We embraced for the first time in months. Then we sat across from each other at rectangular tables, inmates on one side, visitors on the other. There we sat as we shared our lives for three and one-half hours, surrounded by our new acquaintances doing the same. Most visitors affectionately and excitedly embraced their inmates. However, there were some who couldn't hide the tension between them. The loss, the betrayal, the ache was too much. But the people still came, and sat across from the ones they love, willing to be “with" them in the pain.
A handsome, tall young man entered the room and the two-year old in sequins squealed and sprinted into his arms. Then his wife decked out in black kissed him like she meant it. Around 10:30, daddy's girl laid down on the table between her parents and drifted into dreamland. This is her normal.
The time came for us to return to our children not with us. As we walked out the door, we were filled because we'd been "with" our brother again. And our God was protecting him. And working in Him as He is in us. We tasted our Immanuel. God ‘with” us.
I was in awe of the commitment and love to these men who'd violated societal laws to such an extent that this place without rights or comfort had become their dwelling. Christ follower or not, these people are reflecting His heart for the world. Love compelled them to be “with” whatever the cost. Bringing tastes of Immanuel into dark places.
Judgment is our natural response to another in this fallen state. A friend of mine exhorted me years ago, “Hang in there until your judgment turns to compassion.” I've found the only way to enjoy that movement is to be “with” the one from whose eye I seek to remove the plank. Only in that closeness can my calloused flesh be crucified and the love of Immanuel pour forth offering life through me. In this pursuit, I think I taste true justice.
“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. —Zechariah 11:9
Perhaps you have been exposed to the helpful acronym to prayer “ACTS”. The “A” is for adoration, the “C” is for confession, the “T” is for thanksgiving, and the “S” is for supplication. We gathered our team as we do each Tuesday to come before our Father and pray. We engaged in prayer using this framework to talk with our Father. It was meaningful as we used Psalms 145 to inform our prayer. I was thinking about something I read in RC Sproul’s book called The Prayer of the Lord where RC says that often our prayer times take the format of ACTS and turn it into SCAT. We spend a lot of time with S and push quickly through CAT. That was not our experience, and it was important for us to to adore and give thanks to our Father who each of us has has experienced in so many wonderful ways. Have you found ACTS in your prayers with God?
I wrote a note of thanks to a friend who partners with us, and I thought about many others who partner with us. I wanted to share the same thought with you.
The question was asked in a meeting I participated in this morning, "Why are we meeting ... in light of the 10 million?" I enjoyed framing our work today in light of our goal by 2020 to help launch 10 million multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ. The meeting continued as we discussed how we leverage the internet to help us toward our goal. This utility gives us great opportunities of access into people's lives never relized before. I was stimulated as we envisioned how this dream might become reality. Thank you for enabling me to be a part of it.
I stepped into the ballroom and immediately it felt different. To my eyes I saw a lot more color in the room. To my ears I heard many new accents. I struggled with names that to my tongue were challenging to say. It was the beginning of a week long conference our ministry calls the Global Leadership Conference (GLC). What fun it has been to be part of my new team called the Global Development Team.
One focus of our team is to help our leaders and our staff all around the world find and develop the resources they need to respond to God's vision and God's commision to tell everyone about Jesus. You could say we are about teaching and training our international communities how to fish and become less dependant on gifts from what we call phase three countries (US, Canada, Austrialia, Switzerland, etc.).
Thank you for those who pray and give through us to help fulfill the Great Commission. You know that as a part of the campus ministry sending students to reach the world for Christ has always been a central part of our ministry. Now we are getting a chance to be part of team that has a direct ministry to the international community. What fun it is. Again thank you.
So exciting and so exhausting. That sums it up for me. I love our new space and I believe the extra bathroom, bedroom and bonus room are going to release stress from this growing family. It feels like we added to our capacity and that that will free us to respond with greater energy in the various roles God has called us to do. There is so much to celebrate this post will not be enough to do that well, but we have a sea of boxes around us and move details still hang over me so this brief entry will have to do for now. Thank you for seeing us through this.
In addition to the successful move we have clarity on our next role with Cru. That too needs some more space to unpack and I am so excited to do so, but boxes first then another post. :)
Dennis took her senior pictures last week. My parents had taken us to Palm Beach, Singer Island for Spring Break. One of our favorite places on earth. One of her favorite places on earth. She's always been a beach girl. When she and I thought about the perfect setting to capture her senior year, the culmination of 18 years of growing up, it was a no brainer.
The wind whipped up to 30 mph. Clouds ran across the sky, Not ideal conditions for a portrait shoot. Madison and the photographer, her dad, had headed out to the boardwalk ahead of me. Five minutes later I turned a corner and there they were. She, a little hesitant. Passersby caused her discomfort. An introverts nightmare...to be the center of attention while the camera shoots is hard enough. Add an audience of passersby and the shell feels safer. But the shoot was scheduled and there she was, in charcoal gray dress. Stunning.
I was captured by her. Grateful for the 11 years of homeschooling we've shared. The good, the bad, the discovery, the growth, the tough questions, the challenges, the victories. The grit to press through another workbook was worth it. The grit to live the gospel together...sin, confession, forgiveness, repentance...was worth it. Over and over and over. And over. Together we learned to love closer to our Father's design. To love more for the other's sake. Our joy and brokenness all twisted together. Every hour. Every day. His grace weaving into our souls.
Now she's 18. Her hair is blowing long in the relentless wind. She's 5'6" tall. She's beautiful. And she's ready to launch. My girl is leaving for college in August. I offer my novice posing advice. Putting her in positions that reflect her. Simple. Not showy. Casual. Because I know her.
And my face is aglow and my heart full with pride. I am crazy about her. I am as proud as a momma can be. She received a letter in 7th period a few weeks ago. Her three girlfriends at her table eagerly awaited the revelation of its contents. The principal notified her that she's been chosen as a valedictorian for her senior class of Timbercreek High School. Over 700 seniors. And she earned it. All her years of diligence awarded. Within minutes she was on my caller ID. Joy screaming through phone. Mine screaming back.
Palm Beach Atlantic University is taken by her, too. An esteemed private University with a socratic, classical-based Honors program has chosen her. She has earned an almost $160,000 college education over the next four years. 13 students per professor, mentoring after the Oxford model. If I could craft a University for my daughter, this would be it.
As she smiles, sits cross-legged on a railing, resists some coaching, and fights the desire to hide, I see her and all of this. The Father's grace has been sufficient. He promised it would be, but I doubted Him. He covered my angst at never feeling like we'd studied enough. My angst over my inability to love well so many days.
11 years ago I sat across the table from the director of the kids' homeschool program. It was our first year of homeschooling. I was a young mother fearing my potential failure. Fearing I'd severely damage my children by my inability to be the mom I thought I should be. Fearing I'd make my kids stupid. As I poured out my fears, Linda said to me with conviction, "You have to believe that at the end of the day, God's grace is sufficient to fill in every crack, crevice, and gap that you created and couldn't fill. You have to believe God's grace is sufficient to cover your family every day." That has been my battle every day for the past 11 years.
I'm just starting to internalize His grace into my deepest parts. After 18 years of mothering her, I am changed. Changed by His grace, fleshed out. I'm captured by her. I'm captured by Him.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
P.S. A note from dad. Is a dad ever ready to “launch” his daughter? The above is my favorite picture (stand back 20 feet). It says it all. I think Lisa has processed this launching business a bit more thoroughly than I have. I am excited for Madison. I question if I am ready, but I could not be more happy for Madison. She has worked hard and it is a treat to see that work being rewarded so lavishly. God has been with her and will remain with her and that is a comfort for this dad.
Expectancy and hope filled our home last Wednesday as our realtor walked into our dining room. Since Mez and Kamise arrived from Ethiopia two years ago, we have worked hard to make our home accommodate our expanded family. We crammed Keegs and Cole into an open playroom with curtains for doors…’cause it wasn’t meant to be a bedroom. They have made it work. It just means everybody has to whisper and use subtitles after 9 pm when Keegs hits the sack. These are American discomforts. We are well aware of that. We’ve loved our beautiful home and made it our nest for the past 12 years. However, one of my favorite sayings….”You can’t do big what you did small” has been ringing true. We are on top of each other literally with zero break from the racket (you know it’s the momma writing when the noise is viewed as racket:)
So, for two years I’ve been twitching. Of course, for many reasons. I think I’ll be a recovering adoptive mom until I go see Jesus face-to-face! Then I won’t twitch anymore…I don’t think. There’s nowhere for squeals, screams and voices to go other than reverberating throughout our open one-story home. I’ve spent many hours hidden in my bedroom these past two years. Head between pillows admittedly. Wishing the noises away after another day that felt 72 hours long. But I wasn't ready to let go of our neighbors or our nest. I love it here.
The home on the market, which inspired us putting ours on the market, was for sale just before we brought Mez and Kamise home two years ago. Dennis was infatuated with it then. Especially
the 3-car garage. It was a two-story home with five bedrooms and a bonus room. And three bathrooms!!! The thought of another bathroom was so lavish. With five kids sharing a bathroom, it seems one is often running across the house to my bathroom yelling, “Blank stunk up the bathroom again!”
Uh, yeah. That’s what it’s there for. In this house, one needs thick skin to survive the outbursts against necessary bodily functions. To be shamed for a process God designed as “good” really stinks. Literally.
The Deljean Circle home was put back on the market this last September. We toured it two days later and the home, which I wouldn’t even look at two years ago, captured my heart. Then it captured our children’s hearts (except Madison who hates change and is the only one in our current home with “me space”). But the noise is so loud she doesn’t prefer to exit her “me space” much at all. Back to the story…
As I wrestled with my God about my fear to provide a home that would be as lovely as this one, He reminded me that He’d taken my breath away (literally) when I visited our home the first time. It was the Mustang among Pinto’s as we looked for a home 12 years ago to house our family of five. I heard Him whisper as I wrestled with fear, “I can take your breath away again.”
How is it that He takes my breath away over and over, and I still doubt He’ll continue to care for me?
When I stepped foot into the Deljean home, it took my breath away. When I opened the door to the back yard, I screamed at the top of my lungs! We’ve never really had much of a backyard. Nowhere for the kids to run and play on our property. Deljean possessed a huge rectangular backyard which backed up to a greenbelt. I gasped air. Our realtor didn’t think we’d get the house. The owner had moved out and was anxious to sell. “They won’t take a contingency offer.” She followed up with, “God can do anything, but I don’t think you’ll get this home.” I kept whispering, “I think God wants to give us this house” with a mustard seed of hope. Just a mustard seed.
Hearts captured, we jumped into the great abyss. Put our home on the market, aching for an offer which would enable us to obtain the Deljean home. And it was October, the time of year the market slows considerably. We had a showing here and there. Many no shows. I hate no shows! We cleaned our tails off and each appointment was like a miscarriage to us all. Demanding labor. No fruit.
Four months later, we received an offer. And Deljean was still on the market! We all let hope loose from it’s container. We were finally free to submit an offer. But when our realtor walked into our home to write it up, she said, “You’re not going to believe this. There were two offers placed on the Deljean home today. And they’re strong offers. And they’re not contingent on a home closing like yours. They’re not going to choose a contingency offer when they have two strong ones without a contingency.” And our gaze shifted downward, to the realities before us. And we felt sucker-punched. Just moments before, we couldn’t wait to sign away our nest. In an instant, we were signing away our home with hope uprooted. Fear seeking to consume hope. Faith hung by a thread…a thin, weak strand.
We gave our kids the news as each one returned from school. Hope deferred one after another. “I don’t want to leave this house then, I don’t want to leave Eastwood!” exclaimed one who aches for space more than the rest.
“We can’t stay,” I solemnly muttered. I thought of the Israelites longing to return to Egypt, to comfort, to the known. “We have to believe that God is good still. That He has our backs.” All the while my terror that “He’s going to hang us out to dry” fought for space in my soul. Belief and terror battled hard.
Our realtor left. I fell onto my bed and gave birth to tears. Asking God what in the world He was up to. Stunned. Clinging to the remnant of hope remaining. All these months Deljean sat empty and the day we are released to offer, two others are as well? As I voiced my psalm of lament, I saw my children’s faces in my head and a will to fight to the end overcame hopelessness. Our kids needed to see us fight to the end for the home we thought God was providing for our family.
We asked our realtor to call their realtor. She found out they were presenting the offers to the owner of Deljean that night. I went to my spiritual formation group. A text popped up on my phone from Dennis, “They asked for a verbal offer to see if it’s strong enough to write a formal offer.”
Next text, “It’s not too late. Come home now and we need send in our formal offer!” Hope rising, still fighting the terror longing to swallow me. As I walked toward the door, one of my Ya-Ya’s said, “Write a letter to the owner of Deljean sharing your story. I wouldn’t have thought of that I was so neck-deep in emotion.
I cranked out a letter sharing our family’s journey with the Deljean home which began 2 1/2 years ago. The adoption. Our family’s transition. And our ache to live this next season of life in their home. At 11:30 pm, our offer was official. I fell into bed and wondered again what our wild God was up to. A picture of a peacock flashed into my mind.
“God, is this one of those times when you are getting ready to flare your peacock feathers in all their brilliance and flaunt your glory? That you pulled off the, “They’ll never choose you with two strong offers without contingencies,” for your glory alone? I’ve never thought of God as a peacock before. That was a new one. As I drifted into sleep, the vision of a flare-feathered peacock in all its glory was my last thought.
Nine o’clock the next morning Dennis calls. “Lis, are you ready for the news?”
“They chose our offer! Because of your letter!” Because of the story our God has been authoring through us, we were chosen. Our limping, wrestling, grace-dependent family was chosen.
“I screamed at the top of my lungs, “His peacock feathers are flared!” My girlfriend across the room screamed with me. Celebrating our God in all His glory!!! Orchestrating for the underdog. Aching to grow my faith, Dennis’s faith, our children’s faith. In Him. In His “I’ve got your back” reality. He seems to be taking us into a promised land. It has been a barren and refining two years since Meseret and Kamise joined us. All of us dying to self in more ways than we can number. It takes the death for there to be hope of a resurrection. And had He ever deposited hope!
Then I remembered. Three years earlier I sat across from a precious new friend in a seminar about listening to our God and speaking into one another what we heard Him whisper to us on their behalf. After a few minutes, Ann smiled, said, “I don’t know what in the world this means, but it’s all that comes to mind so I just need to say it…..”
I was stunned by the memory. For three years as I’ve driven by wild peacocks here and there, I’ve wondered why in the world God whispered that word to me. In an instant, three years of mystery collided with being chosen!
Peacock was His promise to care for me. To provide abundantly in a thirsty land. To nourish with manna, heaven’s food. To awaken hope. To grow belief. To de-tar my vision of His face a little bit more so I can see the real Him a little clearer. A lot clearer.
He has overwhelmed me with His glory once again. Dormant parts of me are gasping as His breath fills their lungs. So much of me has been hidden the past two years. Hidden purposefully by a Father willing to go to all lengths to capture the heart of His beloved as never before. In the hidden space, the flesh loses its breath. Nothing brings life to the weary soul except the One who is Real Life. Worldly hungers no longer satisfy. And His Word is the only food which comforts the pang of hunger. In the hidden space, life hinges on a thread. With the hope that He’s weaving a stunning tapestry with that one, last thread. Only He has vision for that kind of beauty in the darkness. Because the only thing I could see in the darkness was Him.
On April 18th, we are to close on the nest which has been a haven for 12 years, as well as the home which will be our haven in the next season of our lives. This psalmist is writing of His faithfulness and wild, extravagant love with a believing that’s deeper than it’s ever been.
Imagine having the chance to thoughtfully lay out the Gospel so high schoolers all over the USA could engage in it with their friends in a small group. They would be laughing, brainstorming, and wandering upon "ah ha" moments while God’s Spirit builds convictions in their hearts about His ways and His kingdom.
Or picture a college student finding a compelling presentation on the Gospel designed for his eyes and mind where he could explore it at any time of the day through the Internet.
Lisa and I are called to be a part of work like this. We were invited to begin working on these very projects, but were never supposed to do it alone. We need a team of like-minded people who desire for the world to know about Jesus Christ. For us to give our best to this type of work, we need people supporting us by praying and funding our mission through their financial gifts.
Recently, we carefully looked through our mission status and personal budget and have decided to pause in our field activity and focus on our support. We are thankful for having more than 68% of what we need, but we believe God would have us trust Him for 100% of our support goal. Acquiring these funds would release us to give all we have into projects like the ones described above.
Please pray for us, and if you can support us financially, please do it. I have reset our progress bar to the right to our support reality, and now we are trusting God to move it all the way to 100%.
Today Meseret earned her green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Pictured above are all the belt winners with their old belts over their shoulders and their new belts around their waist. This is a real milestone. Meseret has worked hard to get to this point, and from here it is even more difficult to progress. She has her eye on a black belt though and she is a determined little girl.
The program is so great. All our kids are in the program. They learn what physical hard work is about, discipline, how to master kenitic movements, control their bodies and their minds when sparring always treating the opponent with respect, and in our club they memorize bible verses that go with each belt level. It is a ministry of University Presbyterian Church and it is the best value in town in terms of time and money. We are grateful for the program.
Meseret is a happy girl and we are proud of her.