Jesus Came, and Was Called Salomé.

This year, my daily morning prayer goes something like this: ” I’m all yours, Jesus.  I trust you.  Fill me afresh Holy Spirit.  Empower me to be love.  Whatever, Papa God, whatever you desire today.  Whomever you send to me today. Wherever you call me, I’ll go. Whatever you ask of me, I will give. Let me live not out of my soul-ish flesh, but out of the awakened spirit, utterly dependent upon You, my very life. I belong to you.”

It has taken me nearly 4o years to come to this place of surrender.

Many years I awoke with my fists clenched, ready for the fight or to create one.  Many years I awoke with simply a plea for help to make it through another day caring for babes.  Many years I awoke with hurling my anxieties upon my Papa God, wondering how we would eat that day and pay our rent that month.  Many days I woke determined to change the world, come hell or high-water.  Many days I awoke with what felt like the burden of a thousand souls on my back. Many days I awake and need to re-learn the Gospel all over again.

I have been dealt mercies upon mercies.  

I remember well the first time I heard the languished words of Rich Mullins in 1993 as he sang these lyrics to “Hold Me Jesus“.  I was 17, alone in my room when the words drifted out of my tape player and I wept:

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin 

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

It became my spiritual alma mater, this song.  Twenty-two years later I can hardly sing along without the pages of my days mentally opening before me and showing me how much he has become my Prince of Peace.  And how surrender has finally set me free. 

Free to say, “whatever my Jesus, whatever.”  Free to not feel undone and overwhelmed when  walking down the stairs this past Sunday night into my living room to find a young woman, holding her baby wrapped in blankets, shaking like a leaf and tears running down her face.

Larsen, my oldest son and my husband had been driving back from the small town of Trinidad, through Puebla when my son spotted her.  She was standing on a street corner, worry and confusion mixed into her tears.  They stopped and made inquiry. On impulse, they brought her home. I John 1: 3-7 had tugged on their hearts: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” and “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16).

I rushed to her with motherly affection, wiped her tears, oohed over her baby and led her to a comfortable chair. Her pants like thin pajamas and her tiny rubber shoes like from a dollar store, roughened callouses pushing out the sides.  We listened to her story, observing her intonations and word choice, watching her movements and expressions.

We are not naive to the fact that sob stories exist.  But this young woman, she seemed different.  Obviously  young and indigenous, her understandings and logic were simple, almost from another time and definitely another place.  She nursed her baby bare-breasted as the mothers from the villages do and spoke:

“I come a village deep in the hills of the Sierra Navada (about 3 hours away, but an 8 hour bus ride).  I think I am seventeen years old.  Last year, I got pregnant.  The boy left our town immediately when he found out.  My parents kicked me out of the house so I have lived with my aunt.  When I gave birth, I did not know it but there were three babies that had grown in me!  Two girls and a boy.  This is my daughter Salome.  I am named Salome too.  My other two babies were born connected by skin on their backs.  They had to have a surgery, but they lived.  They are in a clinic near my village.  They will always have bad scars.  My village loaned me money for the medical care, but I must pay it back very soon or they will beat me and throw me in jail.  My aunt got me tortilla making tools so I can work to earn money, but they were taken as collateral.  The doctor at the clinic told me I have to pay to get my babies out soon or he will call the DIF (child and family services in Mexico).  I got so scared that I took all the money I had and got on a bus and came to Puebla.  I started knocking on doors to look for work, maybe I can clean houses. Other girls I have heard do that here.  One lady took me in for work.  She asked me about my life and I told her.  She got very upset and called her friend who works for the DIF.  Her friend came and I had to repeat my story.  She told me if I did not get back to my other babies by the next day she would drive to the clinic and take my babies. She was so angry!  When they were talking, I ran outside and got on a bus, any bus.  It took me to the street corner where you saw me.  I don’t know what to do.  I have to go back to my town with money and I have to get my babies.  I can still live with my aunt, but I have to be able to get my tortilla making supplies back so I can earn money.  I don’t know what to do! I must get back to my town, to my babies!”

This is her story, though her actual words were not as fluid.  We wrote down the various possible spellings of her town to find it on a map, but she could not read or write to help us identify it. We welcomed her to sleep in our home for the night and talked about options of help we could offer the next day for long term benefit.  We assured her she was safe with us.  But, she was frantic to find a way back to her town to be sure she beat the DIF worker.  We assured her this was probably an empty and cruel threat for many reasons, but she would hear none of it.   She was young, her thinking was simplistic and her fear evident.

My husband and I talked and we prayed.  We came up with a plan to help her.  It was now midnight.  Benjamin figured out bus routes to get her near her home destination.  He called a taxi to get her to the station.  I ran upstairs and got her a warm coat, stuffing the pockets with socks.  We gave her all we could financially.  Benjamin wrote a clear note attached to the gift so there would be no doubt where it came from.

As we waited for the taxi, I held her baby. We told her about the Gospel, we told her how precious she is and how loved by her Papa God are she and her children.  She listened, wide-eyed, an occasional tear flowing down her brown face.  We told her all we were doing for her was because of God’s love expressed to us.  All those mercies…

The taxi came. I wrapped a little purse around her neck and showed her how to stuff it into her shirt for safety.  Benjamin ran upstairs and got two audio bibles, giving her a quick lesson on their use.  She stared at us, no words but relief falling down her face.  I bent down into the taxi and kissed her baby’s head and her cheek, reminding her she is loved and valued.

The taxi left through our gate and the two Salomes were gone.

We locked up our house, looked at the chair where she had sat — the same chair I had nursed my own babies in, in another time and place — and walked upstairs to bed.

It was as if Jesus had come to us.

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” – Matthew 25: 44-45

Salome means “peace” in Hebrew.

The old and dear lyrics came back to me:

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

 

All these years you have held me, I whispered to Jesus.
My King of Glory, my Prince of Peace.  Now, you have let me hold you.
Salome.  Shalom.

 

 

 

We Can’t Change the World.

When I was a girl, I often read biographies.  Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa stand out the most and I can still remember the shape and smell of those library pages and where I was when the ideas shook my little spirit from side to side, waking me up to the greater world.

biographies

I wanted to live an influential life; one that made an imprint on history, one that affected life after life with help and hope. I wanted to start movements!  It was bright and innocent, those aspirations from this idealist.  It was all-American too.  I was the product of a colonized country, a girl growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when the idea that people could “change the world” was just beginning to be written about, books on the subject breeding like rabbits into the 21st century until it spewed out all over the world-wide web.  No one has been immune to the seduction.

But the problem with little-girl aspirations and grown-up seductions is that they can turn into driven and delusional ambitions that are really all about me, and my heart that is deceptive above all things.  Trust me, I know, for bit by bit through the years God’s been hammering mine off, the freedom without them feeling so much better than the weight they brought.

You see, we live in an age that I believe particularly feeds an ego,  all these ideas about changing the world– so beautifully disguised in altruistic motives–with food that fuels every sinner’s inherent desire to be worshipped by being noticed.  Don’t we see it all around us?  So much self-promotion in the name of “helping others”, so much daily “show and tell” that easily becomes comparison and competition, so much of all our “promoting and marketing” as if we are back in Jr. High and needing to impress and prove while we compulsively “follow” the lives of others and report about ours, rather than simply live them.  Really, we are the ones in a ll of history whom invented “selfies”!  Need I elaborate on how much we have lost our sense of dignity and the beauty of our daily lives lived under the gaze of God and not the spotlight we project?  What is this really, all this clamoring to be heard, to be noticed, to be desired, to sell, to have an opinion and voice it?  And our compassion, even it can be a good costume for pride, for the burden we take on can make us believe we could be the Savior.

Do we have to give in?  What if we did not?  Is it possible?

When I think on the saints I have known, the saints I have read, it was those who were intentional about living a quiet, faithful and almost hidden life.  I noticed. They had the power, quite oblivious them, to “change my world”. They were, they are, not involved in noisy efforts to draw attention to themselves.  They keep their eyes on Jesus and when they act and how they act is only because the Spirit within them beckons and they obey. They abide.  They have no desire to sit and count their fruit or fertilize themselves.  It is not their prerogative. And they are at peace, for they have not distorted the Gospel and made it about their striving, but rather their grateful and loving obedience.

If you want to get intelligent about all this, then you could look at writer Andy Crouch and his study on culture-making where he states: “My ability to make small changes in my local world is dwarfed by my dependence on the changes other people make at larger scales of culture.”  Yes.  A whole lot of factors we have no control over.  Though we like to think we can and do, it is the Holy Spirit who first must work in the hearts of man.

But are we a generation of Christians who is more attuned to “postings” and “pins” than the voice of God?  It seems we are because we are the ones posting as much as we can on every social network in every form imaginable, it is us marketing to death, it is us “doing our part so He can do His”(where is that in the Bible?), it is us networking — I forgot, networking is dead now, right? It is us reading the life of Jesus with the paradigm of a 21st century CEO and thinking the Mt. of Olives was esentially His “platform”.  It is us offering commentary on everything from cleaning our toilets to our moonlight walks with our spouses so we can all feel we are human and validate our existence.

And it is all too much, more than we were even made to handle.

Is this making any sense?  Am I getting too snarky and cynical?  Of course, I do not dis-credit the good in our world becoming flat, I just feel we have been too much deceived and lulled, no different and in many ways, no better.

You see, I don’t live in the USA anymore and in me it is doing strange wonders.  I am pondering all this through different lenses.  One begins to see in new ways, one begins to breath in new ways.  I live in a country that was not colonized, but conquered.  Therefore, the thinking is different.  I walk among it all…the slowness, the lingering, even the fatalism. But, I see how life is savored.  It still sucks the marrow out of it, but it does not crush the bones.  You start to see that crawling into heaven worn-out is not particularly that admirable, it just says I was shooting at every good target I saw hoping I would hit something, ensuring my own fruitfulness and thinking that a reflective life was a wasted life and rest was in competition with activity.  What kind of “legacy” does that leave?

It strips you down, this moving to another country where you are really a nobody and how much you can talk and give, in the beginning stages of assimilation, is limited.  It speaks to you in the quietness of the night and tells you that the call to be a missionary, the call to be one who wants to serve and love, the programmed desire to “change this world” is rather a call to ultimate and grueling humility.  It’s a call to brokeness, to anaminity, to simplicity,  to emptying myself, to plodding, to feeling like a Moses, to dying to self so Jesus might be more alive in you and help Himself to your life whenever and however He pleases.  It was never a call to pose as a demigod; it’s a death blow to any remnant of pride or arrogance.  It is brutal and it is wonderful.  It is an invitation to experience just how little I am and how little I can do, but how much He can.  And how much in spite of me and yes, without me, He has this country, this world in His hands.

Imagine.

So, in light of all this, we can stop raising our hands and begging for Him to pick us! please?  Can stop pleading for the teams of this world to pick us, too as if we are in a non-stop popularity contest?  We can rest and we can know we have already been picked and we have already won.  That the world and all that is within it, belongs to Him.  That He wants us just to be still, to lean in and stick close, to be quiet and mind our own business, to do with joy the work that He has established for us. For He is watching and His records are true.

So, I wonder,  I have this dream that we could all shut-up and shut-down for just a day, the same day.  We could all find a tree firmly rooted for so many years without our help, and sit under it.  We could all bow our heads and our knees and worship Him and acknowledge He is the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  And all the change we want to see, all the goodness we want our lives to be, we could pray it out to Him.  We could pace and cry, hurl and yell and give it all to Him until the bowls in heaven full of the saint’s intercessions are so full they tip.  They come back down on us with answers and hope and change we never could bring, were God not God and we not His quieted and confident children, our energy directed in the one place that ushers forth any good change and that clarifies all our ambitions.

The biographies? I am still a sucker for them. They are still good.  So good, I read them to my children.  But I tell them God is writing their biography and no worry, they do and will serve to do more than inspire, they will declare His praises for the ages to come.

And the older I get, that is becoming my only ambition.

The Weeping.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” He asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”  – John 11:33-36 

Like you, I live in a place where death is all around me.  They are the walking dead.  Spirits completely cut off from the God who made them and is earnest that they be restored to Him. He knew no one could get back to Him after the great and burdensome lies of anxiety, fear, conflict, shame, mistrust and alienation set themselves up as impenetrable roadblocks.   No one could leap over the miserable mess or trudge through it or pretend it all did not exist.  No one could get back to the Papa’s embrace.  No one could take it all on.  And the Papa knew that, so He sent His son to bear the load and clear the way.  What good Papa would send his own for the sake of many to settle the payback?

But He did. And the deliciousness of it melts my heart.  But, like I said, I live where the dead walk. I am in the Papa’s embrace, but they cannot even look over the heap of sin to see the arms that are holding out for them.  I see those arms everywhere.  When He carries me through the streets and over the mountains I feel His arms are long enough to hold me and still lift them up too.  But they can’t see.  And they can’t hear.  And they can’t even want.

My words that cannot yet speak their language, are too short and small.  My startling image being so tall and so blond, must speak that I am some American heiress, my wallet full and my opportunities vast.  Quite the contrary.

There are days when it all seems too much and it feels that my presence here is for naught. I want to get riled up inside and run outside preaching.  I want to shake upside down the bodies of the “upper class” and see what falls out of them–would their souls come crashing to the ground, hollow or filled with stories they dare not tell? I want to snatch up every child I see on the street and kiss the feet of precious, poor wrinkled Indian women sitting on the side of the road selling a basketful of seeds.  I want to throw a rock at the windows of the sleek cars that drive right by the ragged children and the old women.  And when I pray with a woman in a village who looks at me listlessly out from her hole of depression and kiss her check, I want her healed, in Jesus’ name!

Oh God!  Where are you?  Really, you could do so much more.

You could  even set me aflame like your torch so I could do so much more.

I pick up the pink student bible I used as a teen until my early marriage.  Sometimes I reach for it because it has no study notes and maps to get engrossed in.  Only the raw Word.  “Turn to John 11”, You say.  Strange, I think.  I know that is the story of Mary and Martha and Lazarus.  What does this have to do with the rumblings in my interior landscape?

I read.  Again. Again. And then again. Slower. Outloud.  Standing up, pacing.  My children’s voices outside my room fade in their happy play.  My husband is in a village 45 minutes away in meetings with the mayor to discuss the digging of a new cistern.  Just me and the God of the universe. Whoa.

Jesus, He knew Lazarus was going to die.  He knew that He loved him and that sisters Mary and Martha loved him.  He finally goes to them, walks and walks to where they are even though He knows that so many along the way and so many there are not too keen about Him.  When Martha learns that Jesus is coming, she runs out to meet Him.  Mary doesn’t bother. Drat. I am always like that Mary.

Martha laments to Jesus that if He had been there, her brother would still be alive.  They have a brief and potent conversation where Jesus establishes His identity and Martha confesses its truth.  Always crucial in any hard place — remember and confess Jesus.

Jesus calls for Mary.  Mary runs to Him.  Again, like me, dear Mary.  She says to Him the same thing her sister did, but no conversation takes place.  It is all too much for her, her knowledge of who Jesus is and what could have been and she breaks down, sobbing.  Her tears mean something; her sobbing is a language for which there can never be any words.

Jesus could have gotten on with it and showed her what He could do–go raise the man to life!  Take away all the grief!  Don’t dwell in compassion, move on to action!  Go, Jesus! Show the glory! Show it!

But no.

Jesus is deeply moved in spirit and troubled. I pause.  There is more action here than I realized and it is important.  “Thank you, Yeshua”, I whisper.  I have read the passage dozen of times before but today it meant something to me that He wept.  He wept.

There was death and He hated it.  There was grief and it troubled Him.  There was love and it moved His Spirit.  So He joined the small crowd of weepers and I imagine sat down next to them and wiped His eyes on his shirt and blew His nose on a leaf He grabbed off a nearby tree.

What is the point of weeping?  Especially if you’ve got the power to do something?  I need to know.

“You don’t weep over something that has no value.”  Yes.  No one weeps over a bag of garbage.  And Satan thinks we are all trash bags.  He never weeps over us.  He never stops and sits next to us in our human condition and this story we are all in and cries.  But the Father of compassion and the God of all kindness (2 Cor. 1), does.  Because He loves.

That means something.  That is warfare.  That’s a stance. That’s a shout! That’s beautiful.

“We are at the weeping place together, my daughter.  I am sitting next to you, I am driving with you, I am walking with you and I am weeping with you as your spirit is deeply moved and troubled.  But keep believing!  I am getting to those living graves all around you, I’m coming!  I’m coming!  And when I say, “come out” those dead are going to come out and you are going to rip off those grave clothes and let them go free.”

“But for now, we are weeping together, you and I.”

Sometimes, yes sometimes, we are the weepers and wailers, announcing to the forces of evil and to the apathetic all around us that there are some things, there are some people worth our tears. Worth the Holy Spirit crying through us. Worth our being deeply moved and troubled.  Positioned in this strange and seemingly unproductive assignment, we display the heart of God.

And God, this is the God who will not stop with the weeping.  Not until there is resurrection.

Another Aspect of Culture Shock: Disillusionment

Last week while hiking, my husband and I saw a man in black speedo-like underwear and a straw hat walking through a cactus field, tapping with a slender stick the almost ripe napoles, three scraggly dogs marching in a line behind him. We hardly blinked.

This morning I passed a stately white horse–the tallest horse I have ever seen– riding on the side of the road, cantering along carrying a man who held in one arm what seemed to be a six-month old baby boy. That’s right, a baby.  I nodded as they passed and drove on, over yet another steep tope.

I stopped at my favorite little juice stand to get fresh jugo de zanahoria.  The young woman promised me she would make it right up and that yes, they indeed had zanahorias this morning.  They did not and she brought me jugo de betebel with a smile.  I took it with a gracious and handed her my 10 pesos.  Here, it was not a lie she told, it was a kindness she extended not to trouble my mind over what was not and then quickly replace it with something else.

This afternoon I biked next to a truck that had randomly stopped on a local street and proceeded to shovel out mounds of debris and garbage into the ditch and drive off.  I crinkled my nose to avoid the smell and rode on to get my daughter from pre-school.  A motorcycle holding an entire family, complete with another infant passed me, a herd of goats wandering around bleated and a man on a bike–with tires on his neck, arms and legs–struggled to get to the nearby auto mechanic to make a delivery.

I didn’t even smile.  The sights and smells have become normal.

Evidently, I am proceeding right along on the trail of culture shock.  Coming into the realm of acceptance and negotiation and all that jazz. However, an important stop I’ve made along the way is the little rest area marked with a hazy sign that reads, “disillusionment”.  I’ve unintentionally camped out there for the last couple of months; it has caused me to be rather frozen and unsure, both slow and wild in my thinking at the same time. But soon I think, I’ll be on my way again.  On my way, but not without being undone.  Yet again.

Disillusionment: Untrue ideas and beliefs one has acquired along the way; a false way of seeing things.

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Disillusionment is an important work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It wakes us up to see things as they really are and to recognize more clearly how to take a humble role in the midst.  All the great thinkers I have read who have wanted more of God in their lives recognize this and with it, cooperate fully.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that when we live with illusions we come to whatever it is God has brought us to as consumers and demanders (ouch!), often not noticing our posture.  CS Lewis said it drives us to deeper reliance on God for it makes us painfully aware that all, including ourselves, is not as it should be and we are at the mercy of a merciful and forgiving Savior.  St. John of the Cross wrote something to the effect of that when we draw nearer to God, we pull closer to His truth about all things, not ours.  Disillusionment is a hard acceptance of sorts, a relinquishment, an understanding.

So, disillusionment in culture shock, what role does it play?

I have found that when recognized it opens up space for grieving.  Grieving all the things, the places and the people you said farewell to when you yielded to a particular call in a particular place.  Grieving that all is not what you couldn’t help but envision from scraps of your memories and research, tidbits of hearsay and others experiences, understandings of what it would really look like, on a daily basis. Yes, those dreams that kept you up at night while you planned the details in your mind all nice and tidy with a certain excited anticipation.  It’s almost like falling in love and then encountering the un-beautiful parts of a committed marriage.  But the unavoidable grief– it is a holy and slow lament, often hard to even articulate, especially when one knows the deep joy in being right where they are to be–for me, here in Mexico.

Leaning into disillusionment also gives opportunity as you live day in and day out to see afresh that even here, things are not as they should be and not as you had hoped. The world is cracked everywhere, with as much severity, and aching for the day when all will be made right.

You knew that, of course your logical head knew that, but it hurts the heart to learn it again in another time and another place.  It makes your soul sigh and dig in for the long, long haul.  It can’t help but make your shoulders sag from time to time with the understanding again that we Christ-followers can be something else, even those here…perhaps, especially those here:)

Not only does it give the tickets to grief and the revelation to truly see things, it asks some hard and often plain annoying questions:  Are you willing to still be teachable?  Are you willing to keep observing?  Are you willing to speak when you know it is the zeal of the Spirit and not your own passion?  Are you willing to walk so in step with the Spirit that you know when to just accept that is how things work in this culture or say “no” and rise up in holy and defiant prayer and action?  Are you willing to keep on with trying to decipher another language, even when it seems futile and though your ear is advancing your response is often tongue-tied?  Are you willing to submit to the snail pace, it seems, of vision and communication?  Are you willing to give, to love, to rest when you need to and to keep on and keep on even with no “quantitative results”?  And the questions really, they just keep continuing.  Thankfully, Jesus showed the answer to every single one of them.

Normal?  What’s your daily normal?

Here in this place, mine is becoming more and more the truth of the Gospel.  The story that haunts me and never can seem to get enough of me nor I it:  I am more needy, more desperate, more sinful that I can fathom yet more loved, delighted in, more filled and sustained that I can imagine.

Thank God for the gift of disillusionment.

*If  you happen to read Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest” turn to the entry for July 30th.  

 

 

What Life is Like, Here.

It is time I write down some of my observations of living in Mexico as my fresh eyes are becoming more accustomed to the culture around me.  So, this is for my own records and for many of my friends who have asked me what life is like here. For many of you with young children, you understand that sometimes things in our lives must be reduced to bullet points:

  • The smell.  Mexico has a definite scent I noticed as a girl when I first came to this land. It is a mixture of fresh tortillas and lime, terracotta tile, dusty roads, floral-scented ajax, arroz con leche and cheaply floral infused detergent. Its a strange mixture of earthy and chemical.  I close my eyes and take a deep breath as I walk the streets here and I am 15 again with adolescent optimism and curiosity.  The smell makes me feel that the whole world lies before me.
  • The driving. Well. It is different.  My first experience driving on my own, I heard the strange squeal of an ambulance several cars behind me on the highway. Instinct told me to pull over, but then I noticed the cars around me were actually racing the ambulance.  If I did not join in the race, I would be smashed, so race I did. Like a crazy woman.  I beat the ambulance and eventually it turned off behind me in the direction of the hospital.  Then I did pull over just to ponder if that really happened.  And the police?  Well, thanks to my heavily tinted windows and Mexico plates I have never been pulled over.  But I thought I would be many times until I realized that the cops here just like to drive with their lights and sirens on for no particular reason than to feel high and mighty.  Yesterday I drove down a road that had four cops on each side pointing guns at each other. No one seemed alarmed.  So I sat at a red light between them and reviewed my Spanish flashcards, the one that said “I have moved to a strange planet.”
  • The grocery stores.  My first time in one alone I was approached every several feet by a smartly dressed representative of a particular brand of milk or yogurt, holding out a tray for me to sample their product.  Who knew Mexico has like 50 brands of milk and 80 brands of yogurt and that one store will actually carry them all? I should get a t-shirt that says “I don’t do dairy”  They don’t, however, carry things like lemons or natural peanut butter or imported ice-cream for less than $13. Who knew it takes so many people doing so many little jobs to run a grocery store?  And who knew the Holy Water of Mexico is Coca-Cola?  And who knew that man can live by bread alone, here in Mexico?
  • Roads.  I expected the potholes and topes (speed bumps).  I expected every car for itself and that a speed limit is a nice suggestion.  I even expected the crosses and flowers and shrines on the sides of the road to mark where someone met their death, but I did not expect the little men.  That is the little men (the ones I have seen are all little) who wake up in the morning and decide, “Today I will buy a small can of paint and a brush and paint bright lines on a tope so my fellow countrymen do not fly over the bump and damage their car.  I will then stand there and hold out a tin can so they can contribute to my kind act.  In fact I may not let them pass until they do, unless they put the medal to the pedal and I must leap out of the way for dear life. Yes, this is how I will spend my day!  Tomorrow I shall buy some cement and go around filling potholes.”  I confess I have hit the pedal hard more than once…
  • The unconventional ingenuity and nonchalance.  Unlike the US, this is not a crisis-oriented culture. At all.  Most people live fully in the present (why think forward when survival is at hand and hey, there is enough joy for today!) thus they make things work. Now.  Like hitching a ride in the back of a garbage truck.  Last week I was behind 4 men who were taking a snooze and getting a ride on a pile of trash. Yesterday about four kids were riding on top of a truckload (like 9 feet up) of cilantro.  The man down the street just ties his damaged bumper on with rope.  Black and white TVs?  Keep ’em working and open up your own shop to fix ’em!  Hang stiff underwear on special hangers and set them outside your store; the colors and shapes and variety of sizes are bound to attract! Upholster furniture on the side of the road, within inches of buses passing by because your little shop just doesn’t provide enough work room.  And car seats?  Just put the baby on your lap and when they get jittery have them crawl around on the floor in the backseat.  Mop with a stick and a rag at the end and just push it around.  Use Styrofoam to put in the walls for insulation when you are constructing a house.  Build the walls and then bang holes in them to install the pipes for plumbing.  Stick shards of glass on the tops of your walls to prevent robbers from jumping over.  Sleep late and stay up late and who says kids need bedtimes? Don’t have a car?  Then get a bike and stick your whole family on it!  You want your donkey to stop being distracted by the stray dogs when you are trying to plow the field with it?  Then stick a sack over its head so it can’t see them.  Don’t want to pay taxes on the house you are building?  Then leave some of it unfinished and dilapidated looking; it will save you money! Don’t give folks a menu in your little restaurant, just plop some food in front of them with a smile or go next door and see what produce just came in.  And should not every bank have a very armed guard pacing back and forth in front of it?
  • Contradictions.  Everywhere.  I often have on one side of me a new 2013 car, the driver looking like they are out of Vogue magazine and on the other side of me a donkey cart with a husband and wife in straw hats with no shoes or teeth.  It boggles the mind, the sharp distinction between the rich and poor with me sitting in between grieved over both sides and their obvious poverty. The same element is seen within housing and stores and it is all finely accepted.  The classes do not mix or hold out a hand to pull out or pull up.  Oh, it has been shocking to see how news is reported on the TV and in print media.  Dead bodies are shown, fully and all gory details right out there with no prudence or discretion.  Gulp.
  • People.  They are warm and accepting (and just beautiful), but do not easily trust and often speak what you want to hear.  Confrontation is not comfortable unless the venue (like a neighborhood meeting) is right, then it is like a soap opera drama.  Americans are loud, Mexicans are much more calm and reserved. They take things as they come with an element of fatalism yet contentedness. Yelling for my kids down the road is not kosher.  The more white, Spanish Mexicans and leery of the darker, more Indian looking Mexicans.  All these years I wanted to be tanner and they want to be whiter! The culture is quiet unless yet another fiesta is happening. There is pain, but it is inflicted behind closed doors.  Tradition here is paramount to the people, even if they don’t understand the significance of all that they do, they are doing what has always been done. They are proud of their history and culture.  Generosity?  I think this culture has a corner on that virtue, especially, ironically enough, among the poorest.  And clowns, how they love clowns and storytellers!  One can dress up even with just a red nose and painted smile, grab a mic and little amp and within 15 minutes have a large crowd hanging on their every word. They love oral transmission so puppets, still very cool here for all ages. The little ladies and men probably my parents age, they stand on curbs selling bits of fruits or vegetables to get by.  And when they are sick?  Well, they go to the low-end more normal hospital here but they must be accompanied by a family member or friend to change their bedpan and give them food and if there are no beds left, then roll out their IV and sleep on the sidewalk with them outside of the hospital.  Down the street are some of the best hospitals in Mexico. The ones that take our insurance card should we get ill.  Can hardly handle that fact.
  • Work.  Stats say that Mexico has the largest and hardest working work force in the world. Living here, I don’t doubt it.  But, certainly not the best paid for all their efforts. These are not lazy folks and they are not too proud to do whatever to make a peso.  Even if that means painting your body with silver paint, standing on top of a ladder at the end of a row of traffic waiting at a red light, taking a swig of gasoline and blowing a breath of real fire, while juggling.  One does not know whether to laugh or cry.  I opt for cry as I look at the slow death.  And then there is the lady selling green chicklet gum at the red lights, the children selling socks and nuts, the old man selling rags to wash your car with, the young man selling trays he made from pine.  Everywhere you go, someone is selling something. Handmade, bought in surplus or off the black market–its all around.  Folks even work at going through the garbage to take out the recyclables. No efficient (I don’t think they have that word!) recycle bins here, just more jobs for more folks to pick through more garbage. Meanwhile the CEO executives go to their jobs just around the corner from the heap of garbage and the “have everythings” go to the prestigious university just 15 minutes from our house.
  • The weather and altitude.  Granted, we moved from Florida. Zero elevation, 100% humidity, ocean air, shorts worn almost all year around, red ants, sand, alligators, scrubby pine trees.  You know.  Here we went up in the world to 7,000 feet.  The nights and mornings are cool, okay they are incredibly cold.  And the mountains, okay they are actually volcanoes we see on clear days surround us.  Majestic is barely the best word to describe the site. Ahhh…  There is no such thing as heat in these brick and/or cement made houses.  No such thing as screens in the windows.  Cracks around the windows and doors abound; things are not exactly an airtight fit.  At least in our house.  The wind often blows out of pilot light on the roof which heats our water tank, so sometimes I skip the shower.  In our home though, we always can count on having water! No dishwasher, just mounds of dishes that can be quite challenging to keep on top of.  And  don’t forget they must dry completely or the risk of parasites from the water.  Don’t stick your toothbrush in the water!  Some do, we tried and got sick.  Folks here do a parasite cleanse every six months, killing everything in their guts.  Its a normal part of life here, just like the wild dogs and the poop on the sidewalks and the scarcity of cats (they poison them).  Keeping house here is much harder because of the dust and the flies (we have sticky fly traps hanging from our ceilings).  Not to mention the lovely wolf spiders and the cara de ninos (giant ants; look them up and you’ll squeal).  We caught seven mice in our kitchen and pantry last week. Could be worse; we don’t have scorpions here!  We are getting used to the attitude though at times we still run out of breath and get tired. Perhaps we’ll be able to run a marathon when we visit Florida again!
  • Slower Pace and Lower Expectations.  There is not such stress in the air like I felt in the states.  Things are expected to take forever.  And they do.  Maybe if you pay and pay well a service will speed up.  Doubtful still.  Most places don’t even post store hours, especially family owned places (which is the majority of how families make it here). Timeliness is important in certain contexts, but lingering always happens.  Manana forever indeed! Expectations are much lower than in the states.  Things overall (except for the wealthy class and even then…) are not expected to be as sleek, progressive (c’mon the most common music we hear played here is from the 80’s) and put together. Folks are more accommodating, simple and patient.  Bathrooms don’t really need to provide toilet paper now do they? Another job can be provided for a woman if you pay her for a few squares.  And why should toilets be able to handling flushing the paper anyways?
  • Hand gestures.  They don’t mean the same things here.  If I motion for you to come, I am actually telling you to go. This one is very useful here: Bring your middle finger and your thumb together while extending your forefinger, then waggle your forefinger back and forth, like you are shaking your finger no. I use it at stop lights to prevent the windshield washing guys from smearing my windows. Now all I have to do is a very casual finger no and my car is skipped without comment.  And to say thank you, just put all your fingers together and hold up your hand, palm towards you and move it ever so slightly. There are more I am still learning.  But I do know you don’t point here. No, no!
  • Food.  Yep, it’s spicy!  And they eat breakfast twice, lunch late and supper way late.  Have not adjusted to that all the way.  You know what they sell by the gallons and smear on most things?  Mayonnaise!  Which  our whole family hates.  Food is a big deal here, they sell it on every corner and they love to snack.  The Mole Poblano is incredible as are several other common dishes I am growing to love but cannot remember.  Cannot however, do chicken feet, cow tongue, brains or intestines.  Cannot stand to walk by the butcher because everything is just out. And limes and chili–they are the spice of life here!  It has been a challenge to rethink how I feed my family and how to do it in an affordable and easy way.  All produce must be soaked in a bucket for 15 minutes in microderm, an iodine solution that kills parasites.  It can be a big job for folks like us who go through allot of produce.  But the fresh stuff is amazing tasting! And to boil water takes much longer, as does baking with my Celsius reading oven that I must hand light.   Oh my, I did not even mention that things here are weighed only in kilos, miles are measured in meters and all the like.  Still confused.
  • Followers of Jesus.  You know, this is getting long and this category I have much to say about.  I’ll save that for another post.

I like it here.  Really like it.  Wouldn’t you?

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Take Your Place.

The plight of women and children here in Mexico and specifically where we live in the Puebla/Cholula area breaks my heart.

Yesterday alone I was approached in my vehicle by 3 women and 4 children (under about the age of 8). One woman was about 8 months pregnant with three beautiful brown snotty-nosed children trailing her through traffic as she sold small handbags and chewing gum. Most likely she has more children at home and her husband is an alcoholic who beats her. Perhaps he has three other wives and their children he does not support. Maybe not, but that is how it goes here for so many women.

Another woman, thin and weary-looking, carried a sleeping child in her arms while she held up a doctor’s script, trying to get donations to purchase medicine.  And yet another woman with heavy eye-liner pounded on my window to hand out an advertisement for the local porn night-club. A boy dressed in pressed slacks and a collared shirt about the age of my 2nd grade son tried to hand me a business card to a local store for a discount on exotic sex toys. The other children were dodging traffic to sell flowers, fly swatters and and fresh-squeezed orange juice.  The children may or may not have a home and a family.  I kept driving, stopping at the red lights and distracting my 4-year old daughter from looking out the window to see rows of Playboy magazine displayed for sale on the grassy median.

Can you imagine your children out in the streets?

Or your pregnant daughter selling gum by knocking on car windows?

Many of these “stories” are not “legit” and others are; there is little way of knowing as you drive through the streets. It has all become our daily norm and most people become immune to the sights, just part of the local landscape.

Recent stats in Puebla state that 283,236 children between the ages of 5 and 17 work. Some 106,295 of them do not attend school. These children and their mamas who are out working in the streets in this urban area and then more so in the rural areas are open targets for human-trafficking.

There is a “hotel” I pass often with high brown metal gates and castle-like towers in which late at night or in the early morning hours van-loads of women and children are brought in, assumed to be forced into slavery. It is a known and accepted fact, even to the police. But nothing is done.

I weep. And sometimes I pull over near it in an inconspicuous place and pray so loud the windows in my Pilot almost rattle. There are times when our prayers are like a soft wind, a weeping prophet or a tenacious bulldog.  This gringo cannot storm the gates, but the armies of heaven can.

It was publicized that Mexico finally passed human-rights laws to protect women and children. Yet, bribes prevail and apathy ensues. The Government of Mexico does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it “says” it is making significant efforts to do so.

I spent time with a woman Monday night whom has worked for the last 20 years with her family in the villages rescuing women and children. She is a mother and a wife, just one year my elder. Her stories were horrific. Last week she had to take a 9-month old baby girl in for a hysterectomy as she had been so badly damaged by rape since her birth.

Yes, go ahead and vomit. I nearly did.

But then get on your knees with me.

Oh church, would you please walk away from all that distracts you and competes for your time and all your pettiness and get into your prayer closets?  Turn off your TVs and movies that mock the beauty of human sexuality and the covenant of marriage. Women, stop flaunting yourselves and wearing bikinis  and see-through blouses in front of your teenage sons. Save it for the bedroom.  Throw out your Victoria Secret magazines.

Call a spade a spade. You are called to live holy lives. Holy. Pure. Intentional. Disciples. Grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that declares you are more sinful than you could ever imagine, yet more loved than you dare to hope.

And you want to change the world you say? Then pray.

I am convinced that history belongs to the intercessors.

This woman I spoke with, begged me with tears in her eyes to pray. I hope to visit her and these rescued women and children (who often deny anything has been done to them though the damage and evidence is obvious) and pray over them, for this obscene mess of sin takes the power of a Savior. It is too big for me and you.

Yes, the more I live and the more I see, the more I am compelled to believe that prayer and living out of a prayerful life is the only real thing that changes the world.

I have been studying more about prayer and I see that God has indicated His desire to release His power in our world when we request it from His throne.   Jesus taught us how to pray when He said: “Our father who is in heaven, holy is Your name.” Then He gave is the “partnership phrase” as key: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God has basically said, “What you ask Me to do as we partner on earth, I’ll answer with My love, My power, My wisdom and in My time with all the force of heaven’s throne engaging whom and what you ask Me to engage.” 1

There is little time to dance around this theologically and debate together about the sovereignty of God and the place of prayer and such. I have spent years trying to work through all of that and I have no pat answers. But what I do know is God works through the prayers of His people and this He has ordained.  I am walking in the prayers of intercessors here and right now before the throne.  Most likely, so are you.

Most Christians I have met do not take this seriously; they prayer-whine or pansy pray or tag on to everything as if a disclaimer, “if it be thy will” or run ahead and make their plans and programs.  I spent my time doing this and then confessed it as sin.

You see, when we pray as individuals and corporately, when we seek His face in Scripture and when we worship, we WILL pray according to His will, for we WILL come to know His heart!   And He will throw up His arms in relief that we have finally ceased to be afraid of presumption.  We have learned to discern His heart and taken Him at His word to come boldly in His presence, in awe at His mighty power and holiness.   Taking up our place as intercessors, we are covered by the blood of Jesus and empowered by the Spirit.

Can I get an “amen”? Let it be so.

Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. He has sent us as His representatives, His redeemed image-bearers to set the captives free. That means we have to take notice of the captives and what it is that binds them. The root is often hopelessness. Which goes far, far back to the garden where the first relationships were broken and the DNA of the sin-seed began to be transmitted.

Only by prayer can those shackles begin to loosen and the Spirit of the Almighty breathe in hope. And if you have one ounce of disdain, a critical spirit, a tinge of unforgiveness, or a belief that your prayers are not effectual then let the Spirit deal with you or your prayers do not come from a heart that speaks truth (Psalm 15).  God cannot hear you when you cherish sin in your heart.

I am pleading with you that you invoke the name of Jesus with me for the women and children here in Puebla/Cholula and the surrounding villages. Through intentional intercession, take your role on the earth-side and God will answer with His works and His wisdom from His heaven-side throne.

Let it never be said that for the sake of the thousands of women and children He so loves that we never took our place this side of heaven.

6,000 Miles and the Lessons of Presence.

 From mid-June till almost the end of August our little family spent over 140 hours in a mini-van together, traveling 6,000 miles through fourteen states and even up into Canada.  We slept in cabins, cheap hotels, trailers, apartments, farmhouses and urban neighborhoods.  Three days before our scheduled departure date, we still had no money to go.  But we keep re-learning that trustful obedience always precedes provision.  Just in time, a check came to us from a couple we do not recall meeting, covering the amount anticipated we would need.  And as we drove, the generous hands of many filled our tank, offered the use of their washing machine or fed us a warm meal. 

We began the trip excited to tell people about our vision to serve the thirsty, but already exhausted on many levels.   Could we handle more blank stares or perplexed comments about what it means to go out as a “missionary”? Could we go where sometimes there were open arms and other times drilling questions?  Could we set up gatherings where we knew from experience many would be called, but few would come?  Could we tell the stories again and again, each time with the same enthusiasm?  Could we love and serve with no reserve, resolved to place all our hope in the One who does not disappoint?

The reality is that none of these questions will go away when we move to Puebla, Mexico in ten months.  They actually are mirrors to our own faltering hearts and as a Puritan prayer reads, “It is a good day when Thou givest me a glimpse of myself.”  Helping bring water to the thirsty in Mexico, this we know is too large of a task for one small family.  We are simply joining what God is already doing, for He has made a place holder for Himself already in every culture. We know that when you enter deep humanitarian and spiritual issues you agree to enter a journey with others that at times has great pinnacles of transformation but at most times are simply ordinary and faithful days.  

But we go because our God is a traveling God, bent on being with His people among them and as one of them.  He knew this was the only way to launch a rescue mission.  Presence transcends language and cultural traditions; it’s the definitive language of humanity. 

And that’s why we traveled all these miles this summer.  Sitting evening after evening with a man whose wife has left him for a time, filling his quiet walls with the squeal of children again. Listening to the story of a man who came out of atheism and into Christ only to find that on his first mission trip to Mexico he could miraculously understand the foreign words of a peanut farmer longing to come to Jesus.  Holding the newborn baby of a couple who served 8 hard years in Russian, now called to shine light in a forgotten Niagara Falls neighborhood.

Running with our own children up the edges of waterfalls to lie with them in the grass under the stars, loving who they are now.  Receiving the anointing oil placed upon our foreheads by a band of women who are sure that God cannot be kept in safe and tidy boxes.  Sharing a simple taco lunch with a retired Pastor who lost his first wife to cancer and with pensive eyes told us that everything you can know about God is “proved” not only in joy, but also in suffering.  Eating picnics with my father with whom Parkinson’s is making him seem so much less than what I remember about him; it was time to grieve the new reality without doubting the power of God to heal.  Walking the streets of Chicago and telling our children that their stories began in that arch at Moody Bible Institute when a short boy eyed a tall girl and they set out together to change the world. 

And there is more, so much more to the places and about the people with whom we found ourselves with. The funny thing is after all those miles–in spite of all the beds, the van repair, the stolen GPS, the ER visit, the destroyed cell phones and the screaming 2 year-old– we came home with rested souls. 

You see God is not always there in the form we want to see, but He is there in the form of human touch and presence.  A face book message or endless “show and tell” postings cannot begin to put flesh on this truth. A text cannot stare in the eyes of another.  A blog post, as much as I love the written word, cannot hear. An email is not multi-dimensional.  A Skype meeting cannot experience beauty together and even a phone call cannot stretch out a hand.

Only physical presence can give true access to the heart.  In John 15, Jesus called us friends.  He shifted from commandments to the presence, from the assignment to the relationship.  I think He was urging us not to neglect presence with each other, no matter the cost.  For only we, indwelt by the Spirit of the living God working from His favor and with Him, are Christ to one another in human form.  

So we keep writing to you about preparing to go to Mexico, not because we believe any longer that we can change the world.  We’ve tried.  Boy, have I tried.  But it is too big, too broken, and too complex.  We are not enough for that and the Maker, the Storyteller, He’s got it all in His hands.  No, we are going because He beckoned us to follow Him there and where He leads, we’ll follow.  We are willing to give the gift of presence.  My new Spanish teacher tells me we must be crazy. Maybe we are, but we want to witness more of His Great Rescue Plan.  Don’t you?

Each of us, we are a player in the larger world whether we receive that truth, or not.  I tell our boys that our lives, and namely our trust and obedience, has a “domino effect” on the lives around us and into the generations.  And I tell them that the Great Storyteller has been writing each of our stories to equip us to play a significant role in the now and into the days that lay far beyond our own.  Those of you who support us with your sacrificial prayers and finances, your stories intersect with ours.  This is more precious to us that you probably know for you make our strand stronger and longer.  Someday we’ll see the full glory of the beauty He is weaving.  And some of you, He wants to weave our threads together.  If you are sensing this, join our team!  

Our monthly support level is now at 78%!  We are praying and waiting for 25 more partners to join with us at $50 a month or 50 more at $25 a month.  You can go HERE to sign up for automatic electronic monthly giving if you wish, or send your check HERE.

We know we all live busy North American lives, but if our names come to mind while you are sitting at a red light or tossing in a load of laundry, then please pray for us.

  • Pray for the full increase of our monthly support to flow in.
  • Pray for Ben as he attends training in well drilling and pump maintenance at Living Water International in Houston 9/17-10/2.
  • Pray for Angela  and the group of women she’ll speak to in Texas on 9/27 and then as  both Ben and Angela meet with small groups in Texas.
  • Pray for Larsen and Angela as they study Spanish at the local state college.
  • Pray for the demands of homeschooling three children, language learning, support-raising and further training.
  • Pray for rest and stillness.  Pray for laughter and protection.
  • Pray for provision. Pray for odd jobs for Ben to help make ends meet.
  • Pray for our neighbors (Casey, Stephen, Joshua and Hannah and their parents) that their names might be written in the Lambs Book of Life. Our boys are longing for this!
  • Pray we receive and live out ALL the benefits of our salvation.

Thank you for your prayers and continued love and support! 

 You are abundantly blessed and highly favored.  You’ve been delivered from darkness and transferred into light.  You’ve been saved from yourself and Christ is your righteousness. You are part of an eternal Kingdom.  You are redeemed, forgiven and qualified.  He calls you His beloved one.  

Grace and Peace,

Angela (and Ben, Larsen (12), Anders (6) and Kiersta (3) too!) 

Hope of the Nations: From Angela in Central Asia.

* This post is about my travels to Central Asia to minister to women this past fall. For security reasons I cannot mention the name of this predominately Muslim nation. 

When I was about five years old and sensed that my Creator was calling me to Himself, I ran.  There was a world map hanging in an old church building that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Something came out of me as a small girl as I looked upon the nations with such an intensity that I lifted my skinny arms and whispered, “Jesus, give me the nations for you.” 

Thirty often hard yet clearly glorious years later, I found myself on series of plane rides that brought me ten time zones away from my little family and into uncluttered skies where I sat peering out the window and looking down upon culture after culture.  There are many times that I have known the summons of God, rode upon the intercession of the saints and could see with spiritual eyes the  presence of angels all around me.  This was perhaps one of the most pronounced times.  For those of you who were praying, my gratitude continues to mount. Thank you.  If we could but grasp the effectual power of our prayers, we would make it one of the greatest priorities of our lives.

So what do I tell you of these days?  Let me first sketch for you a bit of the context.  My church  has had the honor of sponsoring the 5-year training of national pastors. These  men were finishing their last training and graduation.  They came with their wives by train and bus from all parts of their country. The women had never been a part of the training time, never gathered together,and never sat under the teaching/preaching of another woman. The hope was that they would feel a sense of personal renewal and thanks for their years of sacrifice.  Renee (a dear friend, artist, and colleague) and I were invited to come and minister to these women.  I taught in the mornings followed by discussion, the afternoons were dedicated to the arts through Renee’s teaching and the evenings were joint marriage and family teachings. We worked alongside other leaders.  The presence and power of God is so often in proportion to the unity of His people.  I cannot help but to believe that the Spirit moved so mightily in response to this fluid unity among us and desire to serve.

None of us could have timed the conference and graduation with the arrival of the full bible in the heart language of many of these believers just days before we came.   I cannot express to you the joy it was to see the women open the Living Word in its fullness, in their own language for the first time.  I held it with awe.

The time was transformational. God used the messages, art, conversations, fellowship and prayer to stir hope again, release new vision, understanding of a woman’s identity, and practical help.  In a matter of days, I saw God bring women out into greater awareness and freedom through the healing and renewing of their inner-man.  It seemed that a years worth of ministry happened in just one week.  When Renee and I first arrived, delighted to find autumn birches outside our window, we put down our things and went into prayer.  The Spirit brought me immediatley to  1 Kings 19: 11-13, giving assurance that we would take part of and bear witness to a quiet and beautiful yet mighty movement and manifestation of the Spirit.   It was then that a longing filled me to be attentive and fully present for others in such a way that I contributed to their wholeness.  There is something within me that desires for people to know they are not forgotten, that understands presence is a blessing and believes that we as followers of Christ are to function as ministers. Praise Him that no language or cultural barriers inhibited or intimidated me from engaging through conversation and prayer with these precious people from dawn until far past dusk.

A bold sister came to on the second day and told me her story.  She was from a Muslim family and through a series of events, Jesus revealed Himself to her.  She was forced to choose between her husband, son and the rest of her extended family or this Jesus.  She chose Jesus.  Promptly thrown out into the street in the winter cold with only the clothes on her back, she would not recant.  Years later God gave her a godly husband and five more children. The oldest has had six heart surgeries and the youngest not even a year, born with cerebral palsy. “Angela, my sister, I must confess to you that I don’t want to live anymore.  This is out of despair, for my life is so hard–all the Muslims in our village taunt us and tell us that our God cannot be real for look at how He is not listening to our prayers to heal!  It is almost too much.  This is out of also my longing to see my Jesus and look upon His face, for He is more precious to me than anything.  What should I think, how should I respond, what should I do?”  I cried with her, walked her through scriptures and prayed over her releasing hope and binding up the spirit of despair. I prayed healing over her little boy for the sake of the name and fame of Jesus in her village.  Pray with me.

Because these women have suffered emotionally, physically and relationally they have a deep dependence on God.  It was not hard for them to feel their hunger and thirst for more of the fullness of Christ as I sometimes find prevalent in ministering to Western women.  The humility of these sisters was convicting as well as their reverence for God.  They would not read the Word sitting, but rather quietly stood and often broke out in a hymn of response.  I cannot imagine these women walking around with a Jesus T-shirt on or a cheesy bumper sticker. They live in awe and all of them said the greatest day of their history was their “day of repentance”.  But what was lacking in their depth and commitment to God was a real experience of hope.  Or better said, in their weariness, feelings of aloneness and what is often a legalistic form of Christianity, they had forgotten this for a bit.  Peter wrote that in spite of persecution believers suffered, he believed they were blessed (1 Peter 4:14) and then he went on to list the four benefits of persecution: restoration, strength, firmness and a steadfastness (5:10).  None of us can gloss over the brutal facts of our own current reality.  We have to confront them. Our faith does not consist in naive happy thoughts.  It is the rock-solid belief that God will prevail in every situation.  We are blessed when we suffer because  in this we are meant to experience the power of hope.  This is what is in each one of us who carry Christ around–the hope of glory! (Col. 1:27)

I worked alongside of a translator, hand-picked by God.  She ended up sleeping in the bunk above mine and we spent hours laughing, comparing cultural antidotes and praying.  Eliciting her abilities not only through vocal translations, I also wrote resources for the women to take home.  There is such a lack of resources for women as far as bible study, mothering, marriage and practical and creative ideas for building a home.

One of the last evenings, I was pressed to inquire into the marriage of my new friend.  This struck something and I ended up grabbing two of  our other teammates for some joint marriage counseling and prayer.  God was gracious to enable me to lead her through prayers of forgiveness and confession.  She awoke the next morning with waves of joy and lightness. We embraced before she left to go back to her husband and daughter, 2 1/2 hours away.  Imagine my surprise when she came all the way back the next day after graduation, with her husband announcing, “When I got home yesterday, he took one look at me and asked me what happened.  We talked for  4 hours.  He had to come and meet you all.  We have been praying for years to meet other believers of real faith.  He wants to confess some things, he wants you to pray with him, he wants forgiveness, healing and freedom.”  A small group of us sat with this couple and ministered to them through the Word and prayer for three hours. This young husband wept before God with a contrite and humble heart.  When he rose, I admonished them to go out and celebrate, making a “stone of remembrance” for this time.  He hugged me and said “You are a minister of God.  That God would love us this much to send a sister from across the ocean to speak words into our lives…this is too wonderful for me.  Pray for us, pray that we can find other believers, mentors to help us grow.  We want the Spirit of God in our lives, we want our lives to be His.”

And the words of his dear wife, my translator: “There are so many things I have never thought of as a mother, as a wife, as a Christian.  We don’t know these things here–there are no examples. I did not know that when I would be translating and then listening that the Lord would have words for me here too. I read a lot of books and I am very educated, but we just are so bound in legalism and certain ways of thinking. There is this difference between knowledge and wisdom I have never known before.  There are ways of thinking I did not know.   Never before have I experienced such love, wisdom, teaching and real fellowship.  I have prayed for this for so long that I might just see it and God has blessed me and met me here. I leave with a lightness and with new hope. This is the first time I feel truly forgiven and made pure by God. Weights are off of me; I have never known I could pray in such a way.  Pray for me that my faith can grow stronger. Pray for our people here.” Would you stop now and pray for this couple?

Another story that moved me was that of a young mother whom I perceived held herself with a measure of self-protection.  She stood up at our last night together with the women and said in tears (someone told me later that this was only the second time she has ever cried),  “I cried a lot this week. Thank you Angela for the teachings each day.  The Lord allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through you to our hearts.  He gave living words to us that were both true and practical. Your words were so alive!  We need to know what to do; we often just don’t know what to do!  We hear here that children just grow wild, like weeds.  But you spoke to us a different, new word.  You showed us the real story of Hannah and how she gave her child to the Lord and how this affected an entire nation.  I am very concerned that Islam has great impact on our  people.  I’m afraid.  This is growing so much where we live and we see it and feel it and it is hard.  I now know that mothers need to raise children to impact their nation. I have never thought of this.  We have a powerful role as mothers and we need much faith and wisdom and courage to raise our children and know how to intercede for them.  I won’t forget this. We pray for a movement among our people; my husband prays for 1 million people here to come to Jesus.  I confess I don’t often have the faith to believe this can happen.  I want to have this faith.  Please keep praying for me, for my family, for my church, for my country. Thank you .  Thank you all my sisters here; thank you we can be together. I have never known something like this.  Thank you for coming to us Angela and Renee, for being with us.  For being with us.  May the Lord bless you and your families  a hundred fold.”  Would you pray now just as she pleaded?

Here are some other words from these women:

“When I came my heart was heavy.  Very heavy. There is no one to share things with except my husband. No sisters.  I was weak before I came and embarrassed because of this. I learned a lot from Angela.  I never knew about Eve in the way she taught and what God’s purpose was and is for women.  I like knowing that I am a strong and mighty helper, a warrior in Christ’ strength. And so is my daughter.  Eve created and cultivated; I can do this, I feel free to do this more.  Hannah had great humility and the Lord spoke to me about coming to humility in certain areas of my life.  I know now about prayer more and standing firm now that I understand more what it means in Ephesians.  I have great freedom in my heart now (laughing).  Renee, she was like a doctor that came to us. Really! Through our art project she showed me all my illnesses and also showed me the healing too with true words that cover all the events of my life.  Jesus has always loved me.  Yes, I leave with freedom and new joy.”

I have come and have sat in on the teachings just for us as women and have regretted when I missed any because of my children.  We as women do not get teaching from another woman very much and this has meant so much to me.  I have learned so much; you came and gave us so much in such a short time that I will keep reviewing.  I think new about Genesis and Ephesians  and intercession and all the things you told us.  I am thinking different. My husband even noticed this week that I was changing, even my prayers have changed. The Lord met us here. He mas met us.  We have laughed so much together.  I don’t feel like I laugh often at home.  And the art, I will keep this and look at it again and again at how Jesus has always been calling me throughout my life and how I am so blessed to know him.  All I want to do is serve him; this is all that matters and it brings me and my family such joy even though it is hard.  I have written down your names and I will pray for you.  Please keep praying for us, that we will not feel alone.  And thank you to your church.  We don’t know you, but we love you.  Please pray for us.  We need your prayers.”
 
“When I came here, I realized I wasn’t right on many things and I was not speaking honorably to my husband.  The teaching last night and then Angela’s teachings spoke to me.  I have had so many opportunities to hear so much truth.  I am amazed the Lord would send you and bring us all together.  I have not experienced this before.  Thank you for your love for us which has strengthened us. I can go home with joy.  And I am so deeply moved (crying) the Lord already gave Renee a word for and about us in 1 Thes. before she came; many believers do care for us.”

There are more stories of the conversations I had with several of the men and the times of prayer.  There are stories of the joy these women had in receiving their first can openers, the weeping of one pastor as he held to his chest his first book of Systematic Theology, the making of “life books” in the afternoons with Renee in which each woman told her story, the encounters with others not even a part of this conference and all the wonderful cultural differences.  These are precious brothers and sisters.  When I told them at least 100 intercessors were praying for them that week, they covered their open mouths and with tears streaming down their faces confessed “we thought we were forgotten.”  They are not forgotten.  Please don’t forget them.  Pray for them.  Yes, it was an abundant time.  Peaceful, yet more powerful than I could have imagined.  I learned just as much, if not more, from these women than they professed to have learned from me.  It’s all to God’s glory.  We are honored to be a part of all that He is doing.  How humbling. We all walked away with more of Jesus.

I am challenged to pray like this and invite you to join me: “Lord, I give all of myself to you. Take every aspect of my life and use me for your Kingdom to glorify Your name. I’ll do anything You want me to do, go anywhere you want me to go and say anything you want me to say.  And I’ll make knowing you in true and restful intimate relationship my first priority.  Father, there isn’t any gift that you have for me that I don’t want. If you want to use me in a way I am not used to, I yield myself to that. I trust you.  Teach me and guide me as I dedicate my life to you.” Amen.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Together, we are a part of this quiet yet powerful movement and reign of God upon the earth.

Jesus, give us the nations for you!

~Angela

Learners. Followers. Messengers.

 Here is just one of my reflections from this past summer of support-raising. We traveled through parts of Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas with God’s provision of protection, endurance and remarkable connections with new and old friends.  The stories of His grace and lavish love in the lives of so many blessed us.  We know Him more now than we did when we began our adventure!

 Just outside of Dallas close to midnight, we were sitting in a driveway on couches with new friends, the sort we wished we had known our whole lives, the kind who pushes you forward when you didn’t even realize you are at a standstill.  We had helped them set up their moving sale and our boys were asleep on another nearby couch, their legs and arms all tangled together.  Kiersta finally ran out of energy and crashed to sleep on a bed. It was a strenuous, thickly hot and wonderful evening. We were all sweaty and our eyes were bloodshot but we were glad and contented.  

 As we talked, I confessed that this is the first year of my life I was given the peculiar title “missionary”.  Synonyms for this word are “disciple, follower and messenger”.  Noble words worthy enough to live out; they are what I’ve aspired to since I was a small girl. The implications are a lifestyle of constant learning, a willingness to go and of a desire to declare truth. Still, to be introduced here and there as “the missionaries” (full-time US based  “Christian workers” who serve global missionaries) seems awkward and elite.

 “Why is it,” I sighed, making a poor effort of articulating my inner conflict “that we can go about and be called ‘missionaries’ and solicit funds for our ‘ministry’ for 52 days, 4,500 miles?  We know God has laid out this vision, clearly revealing to us this is the way we are to walk, but this support-raising is tough.”

Jason leaned back, crossed his arms like a wise man and responded, “You know people give to you and others not because of what you have done or will do. Works give validity to your faith but they don’t make you worthy to be a “missionary”.  You can’t earn that title. Jesus gives it to you when He calls you.  He has commanded you to do this for this time and if you don’t you are walking in disobedience.  We believe in you because God does.  We give because we love Him.  Our giving is not based on what you or anyone else produces but on the Holy Spirit’s leading.  This should be freeing for you!  You can’t work for it, but you can pray for favor!”

Kristen nodded and then prayed for us like a woman in intimate and serious discussion with a head of state.  Boulders came  off my shoulders, dropping to the ground and rolling away in a fury like demons cast to hell.  We are all worthy to live out everything Christ has beckoned us to and made us for because of His endorsement.  When we follow Him, we must be willing to lay down everything, including our own sense of self-importance, fears and a need to know the outcome.  I began to believe again what we’ve always held so firmly in our hearts and hope our children witness and adopt: if we are willing to love people, God will pour out His resources to bless our lives and our efforts. 

Loving people freely is our best expression of our wild love for Him.  The surest way to make ourselves poor is to not invest in the lives of others.  Sometimes I beckon our children to stop and be still in a grocery store and look around at the man getting milk out of the refrigerator section and the woman weighing a pound of produce while her baby is screaming.  I lean in and whisper, “They are all deeply loved, all magnificent creatures made for a purpose – to live in relationship with their Creator! We are all sacred”.   I cannot stand the thought of people becoming mere landscape.  But they do.  I let it happen, you let it happen.  The throb of humanity is too massive for us, but not for our God.

Nonetheless, we are all privileged to be called His “missionaries”, sent ones to the masses as well as to each other.  Called to be learners of all that is good and true, followers of this Jesus who is the only One who can pilot our lives, and messengers of a gospel that is so profound it quenches the every thirst of the human soul and reunites us with the One who calls us all sacred. 

You are loved.

~Angela

 

 

 

 

 

One Voice.

I want to write my heart tonight.

As you read, assume you already know I’m writing from the perspective of one who is now “homeless” and on the road for most of the summer with a husband and three children doing the very thing we’ve tried to avoid most of our married lives: “raising support”. Grueling and exhilarating. That means asking people to give us a paycheck and a ministry account. More than that, we are giving other an oppourtunity to be a part of what God is doing all around the world! Exciting! Still, we trying to be delicate yet bold, vivid yet not pushy, prayerful yet intentional. We get blank looks, we get engaging conversations; we never know! God is hand-picking our team, but still can you imagine our audacity? Actually there are probably hundreds of us fools for Christ wandering the land this summer doing the very same thing.  We then ask people to also  pray for us like they really believe that we can’t do all this without serious intercession. They usually think that is less of a sacrifice than money.

Wrong.  

We spent our 13th Anniversary with three kids all sharing a bed in a hotel room. My husband leaned over, winked and said, “Babe, in thirteen years we’ve not even come close to the American Dream. In fact we’re the poster children for how to fail at the American Dream.  We’ve got 3 kids, no house to call our own, no paycheck and no retirement fund let alone savings. We are driving around for months with three kids strapped in a van, one who is almost two and so screams the majority of the time. Maybe we should panic or something.”  And then we laughed ourselves to sleep. This is all great, really.  We’ve told so many people about what God has called us to, but tonight I am weary of relating the details, so please just go HERE if you’re interested. 

For now, let me write my heart.  

I’ve been thinking on the words of Jesus when he said, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…and in the age to come, eternal life.”  When you do the math, this is really no sacrifice. I mean c’mon, we are only in the First Story.

But to be honest a sense of home, my own nest is rather important to me. I love my own space and creating culture within our own walls.  I’ve talked with Jesus every night about this and I am finding that I want more of Him more than I want a home for my children.  And if I had to choose between my very own bedroom and a hearing more stories of how He has revealed His manifest presence in the lives of the people we meet on this trip and at the mission where we serve, I think I’d rather hear of His lavish love.

He’s relentless I tell you.  He knows how difficult it is to live as a human being and how much we battle the old man within us and the adversary against us that tries to seduce us with idols, chain us with addictions and immobilize us with fear and yet He still comes to us.  He reminds us that no child of His is ordinary and left without a power within them greater than all the oppression against them.  And over and over He delivers these minds, these bodies, these wills.  We act like we must do something to show our allegiance, to show our indebtedness, to illustrate His goodness and to testify to His power.  But all He wants is what any of us really need to do and be: to know Him and love Him.

I do.  Yet it seems small. 

I seem small.  Just one funny often shy voice coming from a skinny too-tall blonde to declare that He is worthy to receive our best and brave enough to receive our worst.  Would He take this voice and make it into a roar like the sound of a million lions to shake the nations? Would He let me walk into the places where women are hungry and thirsty for Living Water and let me pour Him out? Could He use a little family whose children bicker and parents often clash to walk on foreign lands, washing the feet of those who serve the least of the least, pressing them to keep on? 

And this voice, oh this voice that chokes up every time it sings of the nations that will one day, every tribe, people and language bow around the throne and sing praises to the Lion of Judah who delights in crazy obedience–it will continue to testify that He is good.  And faithful.  And patient with a woman who can get real nervous about what lies ahead. 

Yes, this is my heart.  It’s good to let it out.

 

 

Day 29:The Whole World. The Whole Gospel. The Whole Church.

We’ve been on the road for 29 days. This is a mission-support raising trip.  Every day we tell our children that our focus is to love and serve people as a family for 42 days wherever God places us.  I’ve lost count of the different beds we’ve slept in, though as a writer the stories I’ve gathered from each place remain intact in my memory.  Each night when the dust has finally settled, I handle them all in my mind to see the angles.  With each turn my judgements are rubbed down and I discover again the redeemed humanity of the kingdom of God.  A throb that is in small need of me to assess all the motives therein, simply marvel that the Spirit of the Living God is indeed alive and well, the scurry of His kingdom quiet yet powerful.  I sit with a new awareness, brought low again to the place where I see God all the more clear.

 Our energy with towing three kids around is waning and the idea of a home of our own to return to sounds comforting.  This is all not easy. Even still, there is the hope that God makes a connection with those we sit with and they will want to partner with us in this crazy calling.  And after each encounter, what I leave most with is adoration of the God who cares; this “trip” is a privilege.

No doubt we are up against high obstacles: most people are struggling financially (tonight we sat with eight people skimming by on social security), churches are not keen to support those who will stay stateside to help support and equip those who will serve internationally (Ft. Myers is not all that exotic) and some are hesitant to give support to the seemingly fickle Blyckers’ who have spent 12 years following the voice of a Shepard who does not always give sustainable clarity.  All valid obstacles, but I would be a liar if I declared none of them have gotten us down.  They have. 

Again, Christ commands me to resist judgements on people or situations, though I want to strangle the idol of manna that grips our North American society.  I reason that if we all lived simpler the gospel would not be gagged to such an extent. It’s difficult  faced with these questions day after day, choosing to hand them over to Jesus. Kingdom living demands that we be dependent on one another and not self-sufficient. I admit it is more comfortable to be self-reliant.  

 My eyes, my eyes they drift from Christ and I sink down in this grimy thinking. Oh Christ–hold my gaze and put in me what I do not have myself!  We’ve been summoned to do a job, the work before us is plentiful.  But alas, the finances are as lean as ever.  Even after 29 days on the road and more encounters than I can number, the picture appears bleak in terms of financial support but hearty in terms of intercessors.  Oh Christ–show us your extravagance even in the smallest glimpses!  How short is this earthly pilgrimage, but how many tools needed. I proclaim Your goodness and Your provision.

Yes, I am but one small woman who is dead set on doing what I can.  I’ve a dream to be a part of bringing hope to women the world over.  Words are my best offering in all of this.  We keep on.  It is for sentiments expresses in this video that is but on of the reasons I press on on.  Yes! 

*Be sure to pre-order this book entitled “Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women” here.

Enough to Write About.

Yesterday I read a random news clip about a woman journalist in a closed country recently jailed and banned from writing for 30 years.  It is in a magazine upstairs by Kiersta’s rocker, but I’ll wake her if I attempt to give a credible citation.  This writer is not alllowed a computer, pen, paper, and probably no chalk.   I am horrified at such a sentence and pray for her, begging that at least a rock is found underfoot to scratch the walls with. No writing for a writer? To the soul it would be like taking water away from the body.  So I write tonight not because I have had the time to process and put down some cohesive thoughts lately, but in honor of this dear woman.  If I were her I would want the wide world to write tonight.  Proclaim all that is good and true, all that delights and leaves one tantalized by the thrill of being alive, by the goodness of a gracious God and the hope that this story we all find ourselves in indeed has an amazing end.  So I write.

We are knee-deep in seven weeks of training here at New Mission Systems International.  From eight o’clock until five we are in classes.  My first thoughts were “what can we possibly need to do for seven weeks?” but now I understand.  For a mother who has been home with children for almost ten years straight, it is exhilarating to have my intellect challenged and my heart stirred again with God’s passion for the nations.  Benjamin and I have felt that we have been on an extended date as it is good to know each other again as students and dwell in our shared and growing vision.  In many ways, we have waited and longed for this our whole married lives and belonging here in this community of grace and in this global missional context is deeply emotional and healing and simply exciting for us. We smile a lot.  If we were not sure that God indeed brought us here, summoned us to this next assignment we would think we were crazy. After all, who would choose to have to personally raise all of their living and ministry expenses to work in an office, on a campus in the US?  The support-raising will come this summer and we are excited to invite others to partner with us in what God is doing here and around the world with over 200 missionaries.  We have spent many hours in purpose planning about our vision, mission statement, goals and aims.  If you know me, you know I love this stuff! 

As for training, we are covering thinking skills, issues on world missions, HIV/Aids, spiritual formation, conflict resolution, financial stewardship, third-culture kids, women in ministry, team dynamics, youth hope, agriculture, personal and marital counseling, poverty response, enculturation, language learning skills, communication, living “truefaced” with vulnerability and grace as well as other topics.  We’ve enjoyed the lively discussions and study as well as filling our temporary missions house (our things are in storage for now) with people for various lunches and informal dinner events.  The boys are finishing up their schooling for the year with teachers and Kiersta is almost walking.  Anders likes to invite anyone he sees walking through campus for a meal, especially Tuesday Spanish lunch! 

Although this is a sending place for missionaries, we plan to stay here at the Center for Global Outreach.  Ben will use his gifts and experience to run the facilities, oversee new construction and do work projects to serve internationally as needed.  He is so giddy about this!  The dear man who was doing this position passed away only several weeks before God brought us here. This campus  is a vital place for the training, facilitating, housing and administration of the work that is happening in over 28 countries in the areas of church planting, orphan care, theological education, agriculture micro-businesses, health clinics, and the list goes on.  My purpose will be to serve, influence and empower women globally to fulfill their God-given potential, eventually hoping to start an arm of the mission that specifically equips the church globally to meet the holistic needs of women in a radical way.   There is much teaching, research and writing to be done to discuss the issues of women.  I have also been honored to sit down with the many women on staff here or passing through, getting to know their stories, praying with them and exhorting them as God leads.  The relationships, work and possibilities are endless.

I’ve been pondering a recent personal study of Christ’s use of the word “church” in Matthew 16.  He first introduced this word in the context of a kingdom, for in the Greek understanding of the day, the only context for this word was legislative.  “Church” has to do with being a governmental force with spiritual authority, not our relationship with God.  Jesus was calling the disciples, calling us to be his governmental force in the spiritual realm.  When we go to “church”, a divine congress is meeting to get their assignments. Way beyond friendly fellowships and sweet choirs, the movement of God’s kingdom upon this earth demands that we know what our orders are and carry them out with intentional boldness!    That’s how we view being here and going forward with this mission–we want to carry out our orders with power and authority, confident that He who calls will equip!

Now that’s worth writing about. And living for.  Church, Congress of the Most High God, let’s get to it! 

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”   -Jesus

Resources We Like.

The below information provided is to answer some recent questions I have had about some favorite resources our family uses throughout the year in terms of spiritual formation and developing a passion for the nations.  Please comment in and share some of yours! I don’t usually get so nitty-gritty in these details here…

Books:

YWAM Heros of the Faith and Heroes of History Series; historical fiction by GA Henty; grade-level reading guide from Classical Academic Press; Jr. Great Books Anthology; The Usborne Book of World History; The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia; A Child’s History of the World; A Child’s Geography of the World; Window of the World: Kid’s Prayer Guidebook for the Nations; God’s Little Devotional Book for Boys; Five-Minute Devotions for Children (based on animals); Understanding the Faith-Doctrine for Kids; Biblical Studies Curriculum for Children from Classical Academic Press; The Mission-Minded Child; The Mission-Minded Family (both through my publisher, Authentic); The Story of the World; The Dangerous Book for Boys; Harp & Laurel Wreath (poetry for all ages); The Victor Journey through the Bible; Apologia Science; Operation World; En-Gedi Resource Center (can’t get enough of the Jewish roots of our faith); God’s Global Mosaic; Let the Nations be Glad; The Well-Educated Mind, World Magazine and more.

Audio:

Radio Theatre: The Chronicles of Narnia; selections from Great Hall Productions, Inc.; Jungle Jam; Geography Songs–Sing Around the World; NIV Kids’s Club (download all four CDs for $6-best way I have gotten scripture in my boys’ heads).  We have a fondness for Patsy Kline, Sara Groves, Trisha Yearwood, Tito Puente, Sting, Norah Jones, U2, Steven Curtis Chapman, Phil Collins, Rich Mullins,  Nichole Nordeman, Sarah McLaughlin, Andrea Bocceli, Placido Domingo and classical music. 

Visual:

Yes, you might call us weird but we don’t watch TV; we don’t like the intrusion and we are not exactly fans of pop-culture.  Call us irelevant. Oh no. But we are real and we do believe in the other “r” buzz word of redemption. Our house is too full of books and projects and people with enough stories of reality and a loud baby… Ben and I order movies, especially foreign films and documentaries. We have family pasta and movie night every Fri. night and stick to classics (I am drawing a blank here, but I search through netflix), science stuff the boys like and documentaries about other countries. 

Happy reading, listening and watching.  The world is so full…

~Angela

 

~Angela

Release Event.

On February 16th at the home of my friend Ginger, a gathering of about 30 women took place.  The occasion?  The release of my book, but more so to me a fresh release of the Spirit.  My hope was that women would not leave with more of “me” but wooed by Christ, the fountain of life.  The night was amazing.  Sadly, in the excitement of the night a camera was forgotten!

Amiee, the one who has written the first review (and only, c’mon my readers!) on Amazon, spoke for ten minutes, referring to the book as a “tool box” and detailed who would best be served with the “tools” within.  Being an English teacher, book lover and writer in her own right, she shared her insights on what she termed as “an unusual writing voice in the sense that she (I) write inductively, not deductively, thus the reader is taken in on the author’s personal journey, yet she (I) makes it universal”.  I appreciated her insights and observations.

Ginger and I then hopped on stools upfront where Ginger proceeded to “interview’ me.  Oh how I love a large group of women to speak to, to compel, to invite, to proclaim the goodness of God!  I found this electrifying.  I was also excited to share about my partnership via the book with Living Water International and how one book purchased from me directly provides pure water for one person for just over seven months!  After I spoke, Aimee quietly played the keyboard in the background and about 8 women randomly read scriptures from my book about water.  Beautiful. 

Then friends Allison, Jaime and Aimee led a time of worship with songs centering around water, running and Christ.  This trio was amazing and generous with their gifts!  Here was a gathering of women I mostly did not know, coming together in worship.  I found this very moving, something I have prayed to “oversee” most of my life.  After the worship quietly died down, I prayed blessing and hope over these dear women.  We then sold books and I was able to speak personally with them, staying out late into the night to laugh and pray. 

The night was truly anointed.   

Special gratitude to Ginger, Aimee, Allison and Jaime for their care and generosity.

The first imprinted napkins I have ever had! 

Display I put togther about Living Water Internationl.

The Missional Mind Community.

Those of you who know me, know my great love for the nations.  Now, if only I could get some free air miles…  For those of you who want to grow in God’s love for all peoples, here is a great opportunity! 

The Missional Mind community continues to grow with more and more people opting in all the time to receive the monthly e-newsletter and free missions eBook downloads–you can join!  Go here  to receive the monthly e-newsletter that will feature missional articles.  You will also get six instant downloadable free missions eBooks, including the six country sample of the all new Operation World, not due out until August.  Join the conversation on The Missional Mind and make us all richer.  You can also become a part of the The Missional Mind Podcast which will feature interviews with other authors who have published with Authentic.  I am proud of the caliber (not your run-of-the-mill pop Christian writing) of the books with Authentic and am honored to work with them. 

Yes, I am giving you yet another way to be intentional…