Month: January 2015

Waiting for Spring

Blog_WinterSpringThe following are words I wrote to a friend who was going through a difficult season where it seemed all signs of life had disappeared. I hope they encourage you, as well—whatever season you’re in…

I’ve been praying for words to encourage you in this challenging season you’re in. Just remember that during the winter, it seems like nothing’s happening. Everything looks dead and barren, cold and empty. But beneath the surface, there’s a lot taking place.The snow is pushing the dead leaves into the ground so they can be used to produce fertile soil. This fertile soil will produce all the beautiful flowers and leaves and green grass for the spring.

We never know exactly when spring is going to come. The groundhog doesn’t determine it, God does! And it always comes, even if it’s late or unexpectedly early. But it always comes after winter. Our temptation is to give up in the winter—to become cold and die right along with it. But if we give up too soon, we’ll miss the spring that’s right around the corner.

Hebrews 6 says to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. A lot of times we have faith to believe, but we need the patience to wait. I experienced so many set-backs and disappointments while waiting to adopt our children. It was a discouraging process, and it seemed the dream would never come to pass. I almost gave up! But now I am holding God’s promises in my arms.

In order for there to be resurrection (spring), there needs to be death (winter). You may feel like your dreams are dead now, but that only means there’s a resurrection coming! All the great men and women of God throughout history had to go through a season of waiting before the dream HE had for them was fulfilled.

Even John the Baptist began to doubt when he was imprisoned, but Jesus told him “blessed is the man who does not stumble on account of me.” In other words, don’t stumble over your own expectations of what God will do and when He will do it. He will always be faithful, even if He doesn’t work as we expect and in the timing we expect.

(Originally posted by Jen on the Tears of Joy Blog as “Encouragement for the Wait”)

One Small Voice

AJ_EndItI first heard about human trafficking when I was in college. An article I read detailed the horrors of children in Asia, harbored as slaves, kept in the same cages we use to transport our pets. The thought that something so appalling could happen in our world kept me awake at night, stole my appetite. Rendered me powerless.

But for me, it was just that. A thought. An article I read. Nothing compared to the reality that is slavery for 20 to 30 million people every day.

The fact that we even have a number for it staggers me. How can we have a statistic for the insurmountable injustice and not have done anything about the people behind those numbers? How do we even acquire these statistics? Go to the slave yards and houses, get the numbers, and leave the victims to suffer?

And what can average me do about it? Cry? Feel a tinge of regret that it’s happening then go on with my comfortable life?

Since reading that article, I’ve been overseas. Encountered street children in the Philippines. Spoken with victims of sex trafficking in the red light district of Holland. Seen children lined up “for sale” in Tijuana. And I’ve been here, in our own “back yard.” Driving home at midnight, stopping because there’s a girl on the corner who looks like she could be my niece. And she doesn’t want help because she fears for her life at the hands of her traffickers.

It happens here, you know. In the city and the suburbs.

And it makes me sick. Drives me to depression sometimes just thinking that slavery has never really been abolished, like they say. But that’s not enough! Feeling sick and depressed about something so awful is not gonna do anything.

So I told my sister I want to raise awareness, want to do something. I’m writing a book, starting a blog. But what can my one, little, average voice do? Especially when there’s so many voices out there, clamoring for attention. And my sister reminded me…we need all the voices we can get. No matter how small, no matter how average—every voice that rises in outcry against the injustice of modern slavery is one more voice in the battle for freedom.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

I Finally Get the Concept

Blog_HideAndSeekMy six-year old daughter doesn’t get the concept of hide-and-seek. As I count down from ten, she giggles her way to her hiding place, proudly announcing her location once “hidden.” Roaming through the house, I pretend it’s impossible to find her while all the while she shrieks in delight, “I’m right here, Mommy! Right HERE!”

She doesn’t get the concept of most games we play. If it’s cards, she shows me the hand she’s supposed to keep hidden while peeking at mine. In board games, she moves her marker whatever amount of squares she sees fit, rather than following the number rolled on the dice. With tag, I’m always “it” no matter how many times I tag her.

We play on and I bask in the glow of her wonder-filled gaze, wondering if, in the end, it’s me who doesn’t get the concept. She doesn’t care about the rules or expectations of the game, she’s just happy to have some quality time…with me. She runs innocent through the joys of life, happiest when we’re enjoying it together. Me, I get bent out of shape when things don’t go as planned. Maybe I need to learn from her.

There will come a day when she learns to play hide-and-seek without drawing attention to her whereabouts. I’ll have to teach her not to cheat at cards and board games. And one day she’ll discover that she has to be “it” when someone tags her. But through it all, I don’t want to lose sight of the ultimate purpose behind these times—to be with her, enjoying her company, treasuring her presence.

Lord, help me to value time with my children. Sometimes I focus so much on how things are supposed to be that I forget the purpose behind it all. Remind me how few in number these days will be. Soon enough my children will be grown. Let me enjoy these fleeting yet precious moments while I can.

When the Lights go Out

Blog_CandlesI spent the night in the neonatal intensive-care unit once with my son. It was enough to know I’d never want to be there during a power outage. My cousin in-law, a director of the NICU at a local hospital, woke up early one January morning to that very crisis. Severe winter weather resulted in a power outage, and the back-up generator lost connection with the fuel supply.

She was responsible to oversee the safe transport of several critical-condition babies by teams of professionals through darkened hallways and stairwells. With only flashlights to guide them, the teams effectively intervened. Once power was restored, the babies were safely, miraculously returned to the hospital unharmed.

When she shared the story with me, I was amazed how she could have remained so clear-minded in the midst of such chaos. She said when she arrived at the hospital, she stood in the pitch-dark stairwell of her unit thinking of all the lives that were at stake. And she prayed.

Her story reminds me of how Captain Rostron of the Carpathia responded upon hearing the distress signal from the sinking Titanic. Before taking action, shipmates observed him praying. Once they moved forward, they were able to successfully navigate the same sea of icebergs that destroyed the Titanic.

Prayer may seem to some an afterthought or a crutch. But for the person of faith, prayer is the very lifeboat that draws us to the presence of a limitless God. For my cousin as for Captain Rostron, God responded to their prayers by bringing peace and clarity of mind to navigate through an otherwise catastrophic situation.

When the lights go out in our lives, there is one who supplies greater power. He may not make the difficulties go away. He may not make them easier. But He will give us the wisdom we need to make our way, and even lead others, safely through the darkness. He will give peace that passes all understanding, when there is no other source for such peace to flow.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)