Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Will Love

I'm thinking about many things. Things difficult to name and describe.

 I'm thinking of love as I read Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. How it is when we are broken that we can fully experience God's love for us and also fully loves others.

 Dirty trays pile up at work when I've already done more than my fair share. How much do I give? Do I wash their trays to love my co-workers, or do I love them by not letting them get away with laziness? What if washing their trays is the only act of kindness they will receive, today? 

 I am more aware of my brokenness these days than I have been in a while. I can feel my dreams fleeing, desires dying. There are things that I wanted but now only half want. There are things I desire that I can't have. What do you do when your life suddenly feels drained of purpose?

 I guess that's when God begins to pour His purpose in your soul.

 Ann Voskamp says we don't truly love something until we give it up. The Bible says that. It is in that most famous and cliche verse John 3:16: "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

 It is the good kind of cliche. The cliche that says we must never forget. 

 I'm still thinking of love. Thinking of the love I have for all of my friends miles away. Thinking of a love I hope to have for a special man someday. Thinking of the love I have for all of the children I have looked after. Thinking of the love I have for my family near and far. But mostly I'm thinking of Jesus' love for His people- a love so strong, so pure, that He was willing to die. God made flesh, made to struggle with us on earth, and then made to die a horrible death. For unrequited, undeserved love. 

 So I've decided to keep washing trays, and not just my own.

 I've decided to sing along even to country music, even if my heart does not feel like singing.

 I've decided to love others even when I feel unloved. 

 I've decided to love my uncertain future full of dead dreams.

 I've decided to love because He loves me. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nothing Gold Can Stay: The Joy After Sorrow

Sometimes life hits you, without warning, like a blizzard in March.

 There is grass. There is mild, winter weather, and the birds singing of spring. 

 And then there is cold, below zero temperatures, snow piling faster than you can shovel, and winds blowing snow and making it impossible to see in any direction around you.

 Sometimes, life is like that. 

 Sometimes things come so suddenly, so fiercely, so strongly, that you wonder how they could possibly stay. Like beautiful, spring weather during a New England March. 

 So I pray every morning and every night, "God, thank you for this gift you have given me today. And if I must, I pray You will give me the strength to let go and give it back to You."

 How did I know to pray that? Was it the speed in which "the gift" was given, the fear of it being taken away, or the Holy Spirit gently preparing me?

 Reader, He took the gift away as quickly as He gave it to me. 

 As my favorite poet says, "Nothing gold can stay."

 But there is something they don't tell you about blizzards- when the sun comes out again, it reflects off of all the fresh snow, and the sun, if possible, is even more glorious. 

 Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs' a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

 They tell you life is hard, but you always hope you will be the exception, that you will miss the blizzard. 

 I didn't know the strange joy that comes after sorrow, the brighter sun after a blizzard that only Jesus can bring. 

Nothing gold can stay. 

At least nothing except Jesus' promises.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Taming Colombia // Colombia 2017


 I'm not sure how to describe my Colombia trip to you. Our week in Medellin is a blur of images and feelings. My heart and mind are full of many stories from Medellin, but when I skyped with my friend it was hard to find words to begin to describe all of the things I saw. So here is a start to everything in my heart from our Colombia trip. 

 1. I found the sun. 

   The mornings and evenings were cool. The rest of the day was usually between 70 and 80 degrees. Though we got hot from working, we never got too hot. And every day there was the sun sitting glorious in the sky.

   I have S.A.D., which basically means that during the winter when the sun goes away and it is too cold to be outside I get depressed. While in Colombia, it was amazing how much the sunshine lifted my mood.

 2. I tasted fresh mango and pineapple for the first time. 

    There is a reason people rave about the fresh fruit in warmer and tropical areas- because it is AMAZING! Huge, juicy, sweet, golden fruit. Though I am sure it has been said before, it reminded me of heaven. In Vermont I can buy pineapple and mango and tangerines and lots of different fruit at my local grocery store and it tastes wonderful. In Colombia, it was the same taste that I loved, but fuller, or like it became real. What I have grown up with is not false, but just not the most it could be. And that is what heaven will be like. We get many glimpses on earth, but in heaven everything will be in its' true form.

 3. I worked hard.

    The church we served asked us to build a mezzanine to more people. They were filling their church to full capacity at four hundred and were telling their members to go to other churches so that unbelievers and non-church members could hear the gospel. It was a big job, but thanks to long hours and many skilled men on our team, we did it! Now the church can seat six hundred people! The photo below was taken from the mezzanine we built when it was almost finished.

 4. I realized again and more fully how weak I am and how strong my God is. 

  There were many things I couldn't help with as we were building the mezzanine. I am not strong and I am unskilled. I swept and picked up the work area a lot. Anything that I did do other than that I had to be taught and people had to be patient with them as I asked many questions and did things slowly.

  I was also a foreign woman in a city that spoke no Spanish- a triple whammy. For safety, women had to stay in the middle of the group as we walked the streets every day. I couldn't leave buildings on my own. I couldn't even take many pictures of the city since it would draw attention to me and distract me from being fully aware of my surroundings. I couldn't hold basic conversations with people I met.

 Then there was the contaminated water we couldn't drink and constantly wondering if they had prepared our meals and drinks without using that water. Did they use bottled water to make our coffee? Did they use bottled water in the juice? How much of their tap water were we consuming after they washed the fruit?

 The entire trip was a reminder of my weakness in all of those different ways. But it brought me to 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I would rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me." I am weak, but my Savior is strong, and my weakness points to His strength. 

 5. I worshiped with Colombian brothers and sisters in Spanish. 

  Before this trip I had never experienced worshiping with fellow believers in a different language, country, and culture, and like the fruit, it was a glimpse of heaven.  There were several melodies I recognized (like O Come O Come Emmanuel in February) despite the Spanish words.  But their smiles and their obvious joy for Christ and His gospel required no translator. 

 6. I cried when we left. 

  I always cry when I leave a place I love. And within the six days we were in Medellin I fell in love with the city and the country and the people. In The Little Prince, a favorite children's book of mine, it is explained as "taming". 

  "'I am looking for friends. What does that mean- tame?'
    'It is an act too often neglected,' said the fox. 'It means to establish ties.'
  'To establish ties?'
  'Just that,' said the fox. 'To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world...'" (Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince). 

 For better of for worse, I have tamed Medellin, Colombia.