This three minute video reminds us of how we came to follow Jesus, and invites us to continue to pass it on. You and I do that with our lives and through our mission. Thank you.
Her trauma seems to have found its way from inside of her and wraps itself tightly around her. It's not the gentle covering of a soft blanket. It's the kind which pierces her deep, causing leaps and jolts at unexpected moments. It's the kind of covering which pierces her to panic when she hears me open the bedroom door in the morning to gently awaken her for the new day. That whips covers hard and jerks her body fiercely when I lightly touch the top of her head and tell her it's time to get ready for school. It's the kind of wicked covering which makes me wonder what ungodly harm had been inflicted upon her so young in life. It is always with her. It is always with us.
We had made progress in being able to show her affection over her first three years in our family. We fought hard, wrestled 'til the fatigue consumed us. And then kept on wrestling. The stiff embrace sometimes softened. Our safe touches sometimes received. Her self-protective walls formed fissures and cracks through which our love could enter. And then...
A year ago, circumstances triggered her trauma and it took us back. Back beyond square one. Back to a place where she'd paste herself against the wall as we tucked her into bed.
"Don't touch me!" she'd command with ferocity. Like her life depended on the isolation to survive. Like we are the source of her trauma. Like letting us near would destroy her.
We've learned that trauma has no timeline. It is ever-present. Sometimes it sits beneath the skin, content to simmer there quietly. But when it is triggered, it fights to survive at whatever cost. And the cost has been high the past ten months. As days turn into years, we have to fight hard to gaze on the "bigger story." And hope that the bigger story which we are co-authoring with our God will somehow keep on releasing love out of us.
On the nights we aren't able to get to our girls' room to tuck them in, we've asked them to seek us out. Tell us Goodnight. I see the war within them to move toward connection. To be asked to move toward us causes one to rage beneath the surface. A rumbling anger oozing toward us. The other obediently comes with a stiff arm extended. A swift touch is all she can handle.
And then two nights ago happened. I sat on the couch writing a blog post. Suddenly she was standing behind me. She bent over me, arms draping mine. My entire body was shockingly present. Aware of life breaking through her broken heart. Aware of the stiff becoming soft. Then her cheek was next to my cheek. And hope washed over me. Gave me grace to keep pursuing her broken heart, hidden deeply away.
Then the unexpected grew more so. She didn't pull away. Her cheek remained, resting against mine. Her warm breath on my face. And then she let her whole being cover me. She stopped resisting... and rested as I was wrapped up in her. Every one of my senses was on high alert. Tasting, feeling, listening, receiving. My daughter enjoyed a few moments of freedom and she lavished me with her affection. I think she "saw" me as I am, not through the tainted lens of her traumatic past. And she drew so near.
Throughout the few days since, I can't help but think about the Garden. And Adam and Eve. And how they related to God so freely and shamelessly. Because they saw Him as He truly is. They allowed Him to satisfy their hungers and thirsts, so His love was able to flow freely through them and back to Him and into one another. Because they saw Him as He is, they were open to Him and His love filled them and covered them.
But then they hungered for the one thing God was protecting them from because He knew it would bring their self-destruction. With one indulgence, their vision of Him became skewed. "They dipped their paintbrush into the cesspool of sin and tarred the face of God," is how one of my favorite authors captures that moment.
And they were full of shame...because they no longer saw Him as He is.
And they hid...because they no longer saw Him as He is.
And He tenderly and graciously covered them and moved toward them. How He ached for them to see Him as He truly is. How He aches for us to see Him as He is. For when we do....we are never the same. One glimpse into His face and we are changed. For His face is love. The kind of love the world can't comprehend. A love that woos us to Him. Patiently. Tenderly. Fiercely. Unconditionally.
I am a weak image of Him. Yet in spite of this reality, it seems like love is entering our daughter's soul, invading spaces which trauma has held captive for so many years. Only this God could open my daughter's eyes to see me as I am and not as who her traumatic experiences destined me to be. She is such a delightful lover when she's living out of who she really is. He allowed me to feel that all throughout my body this past week as she covered me and rested.
Learning to truly love another is the fiercest battle in which I've ever engaged. It is bloody and requires everything I have to give. And then more. But I'm glimpsing that as she and I continue to fight for love, she will not only see me as I am, but we will both see our God as He truly is...and be released to love and be loved as never before.
"Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it--because it does." 1 Cor. 14:1 (The Message Bible)
This certificate came in the mail at the end of July. This piece of paper represents a twelve-year journey, which began with the intention of just attending Larry Crabb's School of Spiritual Direction (SSD). I didn't even know what that meant, but knew I wanted to attend one because of the impact it had had nine months earlier on my dear friend's soul. Let's just say...
Dr. Larry Crabb rocked my world, my theology, my heart, my mind, and my soul.
He painted a picture of Trinitarian theology which wooed me to desire God more than I'd ever desired to know or love him previously. And that picture stirred me to want to relate to others as He designed me to relate as His female image-bearer.
This is the description of the SSD on Larry's New Way Ministries website,
"This week long intensive for 30 students in a retreat setting is an opportunity to understand and experience how the Spirit works deep in our souls to spiritually form us: and learn and practice a way of following the Spirit in others to arouse and direct their hunger for God."
This week long intensive turned into three week long intensives over the following two years. These stirred a longing in me to journey with people into the heart of God. Twelve years later, I completed all of my education and now have this certificate. This certificate represents the blood, sweat, tears, toils and triumphs of my personal spiritual formation. It has been marked by my own brokenness which has grown my hunger to love God and others with greater abandon.
The certificate arrived folded up so it had this crease through it. I thought about requesting another one. But then I thought how perfectly it represents my pilgrimage into being broken, so that I can be poured out for the sake of another.
Just wanted to celebrate with others.
PS...This link will connect you to the video Dennis posted two weeks ago which YouTube erred in processing.
Last May, I fell very sick, and ended up pretty bedridden for four and a half months. I went to doctor after doctor all summer, and it wasn't till August 1st that I finally got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Now three months later, I'm back in this pose :) and so happy to be strong enough to finally be up and at 'em again. I'm so thankful for my Healer who loves me enough to use this illness to also heal my soul. And He provided abundantly throughout this healing journey. He gave me an internship on my dad's team at Cru, thanks to my lovely dad. I got to spend a week with my best friend in Canada for his wedding. I've been able to eat my mom's amazing food everyday like I used to before university, and that's a huge bonus, as many others understand. On top of that, I also have the full support of my professors and president at university, excited for my return in the spring. And lastly, speaking of supporters, I've had more people than I could have imagined supporting me so magnificently the entire way, and continue to feel their support as I keep working towards greater health. It's true—God can use anything for His good, especially fibromyalgia.
With love, Madison
Tomorrow I leave for a special gathering of partners in our ministry we call our Cru Briefing. We began preparations for this meeting a year ago when we flew up there to learn all we could about this wonderful place and give us ideas how we talk about this being a perfect place to meet with God and hear of some of His work around the world. These special people are just like You. Our theme for these four days in Québec Canada is "Gospel Champion". Through careful study of God's words, we know of critical roles of pastor, teacher, elder, deacon etc. in God's economy, but there has also been an ever-present role of the Gospel Champion. This follower of Jesus takes the gifts God has given them: time, skills, leadership and material resources and blesses others with them furthering the gospel. One example of this is the women in Luke 8:1-3. To tell this story we made a 3-minute video. I hope you will take a moment and watch it, and for you that come alongside Lisa and me in this mission of helping to fulfill the Great Commission, you are our Gospel Champions and you are furthering this good news and enabling disciples to be made in all nations.
Gospel Champion (~3 minutes)
The first moment it took my breath away was while reading a friend's Facebook post Monday night. She'd just dropped her son at college and posted an article titled "6 Reasons Why Moms Cry When They Leave Their Kids at College." Like a punch in the gut, reality hit me hard. The next morning we would pack up the cars and drive Keegan to Gainesville. While I read the article, I sat in the dining room while Keegan was around the corner in the kitchen pantry packing up his supplements (with his strength training regimen this took some time). I read, or kind of yelled, the words on the page loud enough for him to hear...
"1. My heart is so full of love for you that it aches like a physical pain and it's that almost unbearable fullness that brings tears to my eyes.
2. I will miss the way we were. Things will change between us now We will always be mother and son but I will become an increasingly less important person to you, as it should be.".......
And I choked over words, swallowing the lump in my throat back every fourth word. Wanting to share my mother's heart with him and his impact on me over these 18 years. Keegan bantered with me from the pantry as I barely made it through the article.
And that was just the beginning.
Transitions like this are like that. I never know when the next moment will come that steals my breath. Constantly in the space of unknowing, doing the next thing and then like a blast of cold wind down my lungs....
He'd been finishing his packing Tuesday morning. I'd gone to the gym, rushed home and readied myself for the day. I walked into Keeg's room and bam. Breath sucked right out of me. Involuntarily. And tears spilled forth. His room was almost empty. No more boxes. No more suitcases. No more Keegan. Only the memory of him in the bed and futon and fish tank and clothes which remained. I yelled through the house to him (one of our common playful bantering practices),
"I'm crying again. Your room is empty. I'm going to miss you so much!"
He yelled back,
"Oh that's so sad. It's ok, Mom."
It would be ok. But this moment of ache and hopeful expectancy all interwoven in me didn't feel ok. I knew it was good. And right. And just as it should be. Yet the ache of the closing of the part of our story where he's always under my roof and my care cuts to the core of my soul.
As we were close to walking out the door, my dear friend surprised Keegan with one last good-bye visit. As Sus spoke words of life into my son's soul, exhorting him to cling to his Lord, and pouring her love into him, I was filled and the filling spilt forth. Keegan has wooed the women in my life and brought joy to them. He has delighted in them and they have felt his delight. They have tasted the joy and delight I have marinated in so much of his 18 years.
I was spoiled to ride with Keegan for the two-hour drive to Gainesville. Both of us so excited for this next chapter in his story. Both of us knowing this day would be the final script of the chapters before. We bantered playfully as we've done for so many years, our inside jokes and phrases which no one else would appreciate filled our conversation. And I shared with him a part of my story he had not yet been entrusted to hold. But the day seemed right to offer that to him.
After meeting up with Dennis at Red Robin for ridiculous amounts of bottomless fries and our favorite burger ever, we headed to the Southern Scholarship Foundation house where he will likely reside over the next four years of his undergrad career.
After unpacking, shopping for essentials and setting up his space, we looked at each other. I told him again how he's made his momma proud. I told him how he brings me such deep delight and joy. I told him how glad I was for all our homeschool years together (even though he drove me to the edge of insanity for several years). I told him that I'm crazy about him and adore him and as I told him all of this....
Tears streamed down my face. He rose from his bed and wrapped his arm around me and leaned in, head to head. And I told him that the tears were the fruit of deep love and connectivity. The fruit of hearts intertwined from the good, the bad, the ugly, and the grace of God. The fruit of the delight I find in him. And how I would miss him. He is the source of so much light in our home.
For a long few minutes he and I stood there,
After Dennis took his turn embracing Keegan, speaking love into him, and losing it too, it was time for Keegan to join other housemates for a dinner. We stood in his room as he walked down the hall into new relationships and community.
And I decided that dropping the second child at college isn't any easier than dropping the first.
This is the work you and I do. We are about making disciples. I hope that the a Tagline for Cru will one day be simply Cru | Making Disciples. This video says it so well; it is the mandate of the Great Commission. I am grateful to be part of a mission that helps make disciples in all nations. Thank you for doing this, too.
I remember when this
This is what you and I are about: We make disciples in all nations. We are people reaching people. Jesus commissioned us when He said, "Go out and make disciples
It was 9:30PM when we kissed mom goodnight. She seemed at peace, albeit her breathing was more shallow than the day before. We all felt like we were ready for some rest and we left for my sister’s home not too far up the mountain. It felt good to stretch out and lie down in our beds for the night. It was 3:00AM when I heard my sister’s voice call my name a couple of times. I opened my eyes and learned that the hospice nurse called to tell us that mom passed away peacefully in her sleep. We gathered ourselves, and my brother, sister, and I headed down to begin the process of caring for my mom’s body. When we arrived and stood over my mom, it was sweet to think that she left here peacefully. It was clear that only a body remained and now mom was with Jesus, my dad, her parents, family, and friends, and on and on we could go. She is home. We will miss her presence and now look forward to our reunion in heaven. Thank you, Lord, for Your promise and hope.
You’ve heard the saying “If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but when you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime!” This is exactly what you and I are doing by
The challenge, however, is that Francophone Africa is one of the most economically challenged areas of the world with a lack of infrastructure and poor governance. Located primarily on the Western coast of Africa, these 16 French-speaking countries include the Ivory Coast, Mali, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, just to name a few. The goal
This past fall, Cru's
Staff support hasrisen from an average of 30% of the total need in September to 50% in December!
The capacity of the ministry team has risen from being able to fund 10% of their country budget locally, to now funding 25%.
The staff in Chad is rejoicing at this impact of local fundraising. The Area Fund Development Leaders say, “This is a direct result from the training the National Leaders received while at the Fund Development Summit.” Because the leaders have fully embraced the need for fund development, the staff are feeling supported with the freedom to act as fundraisers themselves, without relying on the area office or the global office for funding. Now that they have seen the fruit of their labor, the staff is very excited to continue making fund development a priority and see where it leads. This is just one of the 15 countries of Francophone making great strides to becoming self-sustainable. What could happen if every country gained this training?
This is one part of what YOU and I are doing as a part of our response to the Great Commission. Thank you for helping to make disciples in all nations!
We celebrated my mom's 80th birthday this year. This will be the year she joins my dad as she enters God's heavenly kingdom, finally free of the Parkinson's disease that has marked her journey throughout her golden years. She will be with the Lord
Right now, I am in Colorado Springs with my brother and sister, and there is a strong sense among us that mom's time with us here is coming to a close. Her systems are slowing down and her awareness of life around her is difficult for us to detect. It looks and feels like she is making a transition. For all of us, it is difficult to let her go; still, we share a faith in Jesus Christ, and through His resurrection, mom too will be resurrected to a new, eternal life with God. We want her to receive that wonderful life. This farewell is both bitter and sweet.
God's kindness toward us is beyond measure. Of course, we can't name the time or hour mom will take her first breath of celestial air, but our sense is that it will be soon. I am grateful to linger with her, hold her hand, pray with her, and simply be with her. Madison, our oldest daughter, is with me as well, and I am grateful that we can walk together through this farewell. The rest of my family is
For three days, it was my privilege to be in a room with leaders from all around the world. We opened our time by standing around a room facing each other stating our names, our roles, and where we are from — Indonesia, Mali, Cameroon, Francophone, Kazakhstan, China, Costa Rica, and several other countries. We were gathered leaders who will be helping our staff learn to find all the funds required to carry out their God-given dreams. That is part of what you and I are doing as you and I respond to God's command to "go out and make disciples."
You helped me answer the question "Do you have the leadership skills required to solve problems?" by ensuring me the opportunity to attend a training last week. I’ve always hesitated to respond to this question before, but no more. I know that I can help discover solutions following the coaching model from this training — it was one of the best trainings I have ever participated in. The teaching methods used were varied and purposeful in helping me and the other trainees understand and apply what we were learning.
Keith Webb was our trainer and he put a twist on leading. Instead of leading by telling, he taught us that we can lead by asking questions. He showed us how to make coaching a learning experience and how we can bring clarity to problems which also brings hope.
Do you have the leadership skills required to solve problems? Consider getting Keith's book and see if this approach opens greater ways to help tackle important problems. I am looking for the places where I can use it to help make disciples through finding resources required to carry out God given plans to expand His kingdom. Thank you for helping to make disciples with Lisa and me.
I have fond memories of my dad. At times he could make me laugh so hard I would literally pee my pants. He was generous, kind and patient. He loved my mom, brother and sister really well. I have a wonderful father-in-law who is a great dad, too. He continually initiatates and engages with five families of his own and pursues us corporately and individually. Father's Day is a great opportunity to celebrate these great men in my life.
It is now 20 years that I have had the honor of being a father. I am so proud of my five. They shared with me life-giving words that I will treasure. I shared with them that I love watching them grow and celebrating all of their human doings with them. They're doings are worthy of much praise. However, it is that they are growing as human beings, as image bearers reflecting God to those around them, that is especially exciting to me. It is a profound privilege to share in this part of their lives as their father.
My prayer for myself and my children is that we will follow in the footsteps of Jesus as it was recorded in Luke 2:52, "And Jesus kept on growing—in wisdom, in physical stature, in favor with God, and in favor with others."
You and I are so blessed to be engaged in introducing our Heavenly Father to a world in need of a loving Father.
She sat down on the couch, a few feet away from me. Dinner and evening chores were behind us. I purposely sat on the family room couch rather than dragging my tired body upstairs to prep for bed, in hopes of connecting with either of my daughters. And one of them came. After the relational challenges of this past winter and spring, it was no small thing that she came.
"Want to listen to the Witch of Blackbird Pond?" I asked.
"Yes!" She exclaimed.
Audible books seem to be reaching across the relational abyss for short moments.
I pressed play.
Over the next ten minutes, she slowly inched her way in my direction. With my biological children, couch time was our normal. In fact they clamored during those early homeschool years for my lap. My lap might have been the one thing I allowed them to fight for. Sometimes two piled high on me. The other snuggled up to my side. One big snuggle fest. There wasn't inching. There was no reserve.
With my youngest daughters, I'm strikingly aware of the slightest movement in my direction.
An inch toward me can take my breath away. She kept inching closer and closer. Then in one final move, she was shoulder-to-shoulder, leg-to-leg beside me. And it took my breath away.
The unexpected does that sometimes.
When movement toward me is so labored, terrifying, challenging...inches feel like they span miles.
And I'm more grateful for the rare "inching" than I ever imagined I could be.
He did it! Four years of high school completed, and with academic style. We are proud of his accomplishments. His bravery in trying new things and varied activities has impressed me. From cross country and track to debate, to swing dancing, to the high school ministry of Cru, to mission trips in the Dominican Republic and Amsterdam—Keegan has been an active guy. To cap off his years of study, he was honored to speak as a valedictorian in his class of 2016 commencement. He has made awesome memories.
Included in those memories is a growing relationship with Joyce, a beautiful young woman who also joined Keegan on the stage as a valedictorian. Together they have a growing friendship that is honoring of each other and to God.
It is so easy to gush about this guy. His mom and I are proud of him. The greatest thing is that we love him and he loves us. We could not be more grateful. However, even greater is that He loves Jesus Christ and, without a doubt, Jesus loves Keegan. We give thanks.
Keegan is a great disciple of Christ. We look forward to walking with him through the next adventures of his life.
It was so fun to travel to Fair Oaks, California about a month ago. It is a rare thing to be able to say thank you for 40 years of generous, faithful, and faith-filled giving through Cru which has totaled to more than a million dollars! That is what the community of believers at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church (FOPC) has done.
Extending their reach through numbers of staff (Lisa and I included), students, and ministry projects, this community of believers has literally circled the globe with their impact. Such intentionality, generosity, and commitment to being about our Father's business is worth celebrating. Well done, Church family.
While visiting friends in Fair Oaks, one friend mentioned that she wished more people at FOPC could be trained to share their faith. That is particularly distinctive of what we do in Cru. Our distance from FOPC—living in Orlando—makes it challenging for us to personally respond to that need.
However, we can help any willing people receive great training via Cru.org. In conjunction with our Global Outreach Day that took place this past Saturday, May 21st, Cru has created videos to equip a person to share their faith. Each video is no more than 90 seconds long. If anyone wants to learn how to talk to a neighbor, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend, it is easier than you think.
Check out these great tools and tell a friend, too: click here for the Cru website, and download God Tools on your phone or tablet for an interactive, spiritual growth-enhancing app that you can use with yourself or a friend.
"Do you have any video", asked Paulette, the Missions Coordinator when I called on Thursday afternoon after flying for six hours from Orlando. I kicked myself for not thinking to do that, but I was not trying to make this trip about me or Cru. This visit was an opportunity to acknowledge the couragous, faith-full, and generous community of faith known as Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church (FOPC). This family of faith has given more than a million dollars partnering with Cru to make disciples and help fulfill the Great Commission. Amazing. So, the thought was that we would play a video about Cru and then turn our attention on FOPC. I scrambled to create a video, but a mistake on my part did not enable it to be shown. Oh well, we made do, but let me share it with you. Let me know what you think.