Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 4 - Haiti Mission - Finding the Morning in Mourning

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. Lamentations 3:22-24 (The Message)

I firmly believe that at some point every Christian has somewhat of a "crisis of faith". I've found personally that it usually simply starts with the question "why?" This morning a had a brief questioning of why. I wouldn't consider it a crisis of faith. Just a "why?"

One of the most difficult moments I encounter as a believer is answering the questions....the really HARD questions....of the nonbeliever. The "why's". It makes it harder to help others when you have the same questions. What makes the difference? Faith. Webster's dictionary defines faith as: (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust. In Martin Luther's German Bible of 1522, Martin Luther says ~ Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. That's the kind of faith I want to have.

Today, I don't have an answer to the "why." My heart is heavy and grieving for my beloved sister-in-law and her family as they mourn the loss of a child. I pray that God will meet her right where she is, not to explain, but to show her that He's always been there and that nothing happens in this world without His knowledge and his divine permission. To help nurture her faith. I will glady be there to help decipher the "why" if she needs me, but I pray that God will give her the comfort she so desperately needs.

Do you, wonder why you have to, feel the things that hurt you,

if there's a God who loves you,where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see, and all those things are happening

to bring a better ending --some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see.

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,that you still have a reason to sing.

'cause the pain you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming.

So hold on, you got to wait for the light,

Press on, just fight the good fight

Because the pain you've been feeling, it's just the dark before the morning.

~Josh Wilson

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 3 - Haiti mission - Going it alone, sort of

"in you I trust, O God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me." ~Psalm 25:2

There are areas of all of our lives that we have serious difficulties trusting God with, right? You know I'm right. What is it? Money, work, media, family? I know that I have my fair share of areas. A lot of areas. Tonight, my struggle is with placing my son in the care of God. Now, this has not always been the case. When I was first divorced, I was completely sold out to Christ. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God went with my son wherever he went and had complete faith in my Lord. When I was wavering, all I needed to do was turn to Psalm 121:7-8 "The Lord will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Today, I can honestly say, I think my faith is wavering. Have I grown comfortable or complacent? I really don't know. All I know is that I'm in a custody battle and that I'm finding it difficult to trust God to make the right decision. Crazy. Even crazier that I know it's crazy.

I was having coffee with a good friend one day and she was talking about how we should be holding ALL things with an open hand. Everything we have belongs to God....our husbands, our children, our jobs, our homes......everything. It all belongs to Him. He is free to do with it what he wishes. He can take any of those things at any time he chooses. The question is, do I trust Jesus enough to see me through whatever His decision is? So in other words, God can choose to ALLOW me to lose this battle, but do I have the trust in God to believe that it will all work out for his glory? No, I don't. That's my struggle. I would honestly, at this point, believe that God is wrong. I don't mean that as blasphemy, only honesty. As parents, we firmly believe that we know what's best for our children......especially compared to what the "ex" thinks is best. But to put that into perspective, for myself if for no one else, doesn't God feel the same way? As my parent, doesn't he know what's best for me? So if He decides that this is what's best, who am I to argue with my Heavenly Father?

I spoke with Chris last evening for a nice length of time and briefly today. The internet connection is still hit or miss. He is adjusting to the climate and the taste of the water. I'm calling on Jesus to help me realize that I'm not going through this fight alone, even though without my husband by my side, it feels very much like it did 7 years ago. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know my husband is very supportive and we are still making decisions together and talking it over. But the one thing that remains the same even in Chris' absence, God still goes with me. He was there 7 years ago, and He's here today. It's just a matter of opening up my hand again to this part of my life. Without realizing it, I have closed a tight fist around my kids. My boys are the possession of the Lord, not a possession of mine. Yes, he has asked me to be a good steward of their lives, teach them in the way they should go, discipline where needed, and show them love, but ultimately, they belong to the Lord. So I pray that the Lord would increase my faith, help me to trust Him more. He's got this one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 2 - Haiti Mission - Ohio Thunderstorms, the pain they cause, and pride

"Just because it looks pretty outside, doesn't mean you're feeling pretty." ~Shannon Ghizzoni, Physicians Assistant, Columbus Arthritis Center

As my eyes fluttered awake this morning to the bright sunlight streaming through my drapes, it didn't take long for me to realize that the sunshine outside didn't mean that moving for me was going to be easy on the inside. I remembered the storms moving through last night, but I wasn't prepared for the pain this morning. It's Sunday, which means a huge range of emotions for me regarding the day, but the most evident today is guilt. Not that I believe that God would ever condemn me for not being in church every Sunday, but I do believe that there are people in the church and even friends and family that pass judgement when I mutter those 4 insignificant words, "I'm not feeling well." So, I spent the morning in battle with myself about how hard I want to push myself today. Unfortunately, the pain won and I crawled back into bed.

There is a bad habit I have of...hmmm.....how do I say it....not giving the most accurate representation of my pain. Yeah, I think that's a good way to put it. In the past 2 weeks, the heat and humidity have caused pain to rage through my body incessantly. Have I talked about it? Not a lot. I've taken a lot of medication and gone on my way. Like, dangerously overmedicated? No, it just means I've taken more than I normally need to. You see, here's the thing. I don't want my husband to think that I can't handle life without him. Yep. Totally a pride issue. As a matter of fact, I don't want ANYONE to think that I can't handle life without him. I don't want anyone to think that I can't handle this life, this pain, at all. Period.

So here's the downward spiral.....that means that eventually as people see you continuing to push through each day without even as much as a wince of pain, they assume that when you finally decide to succumb to the disease that you must be exaggerating. In other words, "It can't possibly be that bad." Oh, but it is. And it's at that point, in complete helplessness that the Lord humbles me and brings me back to where I need to be. Matthew 6:6 says "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." My most intimate moments with God are the ones where I have been down on my knees, in the dark, surrendering everything to Him because I'm finally resigned to the fact that there is no more that I can do. Should I let it get to that point? Nope. Totally a pride issue.

I spoke with Chris briefly via Skype last night. The connection was bad, and I couldn't really understand much that he was saying, but I am delighted that he has made it safely to his destination. As their work there progresses, I am confident that the communication abilities will improve. As for now, I don't know when I'll talk to him again. My heart is aching for my husband, but I was reminded by a wonderful friend that this is God time and I need to relax and abide in Him. I have abstained from crying and being emotional for days/weeks/months now as a matter of pride. To prove to my husband and my mother and my friends and my family and everyone who doesn't really matter that I'm strong enough to do this. When the truth is, I'm not. I have physical limitations that are going to hinder me every day that he's gone. And the truth is, I need Jesus because he strengthens me supernaturally. When I ask him to come and strengthen me for the minute, the hour, the day, He does. All glory to him that is made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So today is the day....the day I stop and let His grace cover me. Today is the day that it all comes to a head. In the presence of the Great Physician, Comforter I surrender my physical pain and today, in this moment, my emotional pain.

"This is where the healing begins. This is where the healing starts. You come to where you're broken within....the light meets the dark." ~Tenth Avenue North, "Healing Begins

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 1 - Haiti Mission - Departure Day

"To be liberated in Christ, we've got some sacrifices to make. Make sure He's the one asking for it, but if he is, any sacrifice you make will be wholly consumed by Him as such a sweet sacrifice. He will bless." ~Beth Moore, "Breaking Free"

Sometimes, we sacrifice and it takes a while for it to sink in that we are truly making a sacrifice. I never considered that I was being asked by God to sacrifice the time, love, and presence of my husband when he is asked to serve God's kingdom as a missionary. My husband is truly spiritually gifted to serve. He serves without question as to why or what for, and four years ago I couldn't have imagined that God would see me through to this place in my life. Through mission trip after mission trip, God has prepared me to be the wife of a missionary of this magnitude without me even realizing it. It wasn't until recently that I have come to realize that my sacrificial giving and understanding of this situation has just as much impact on those around me, especially my children, as the impact my husband is having in serving.

Today, my husband leaves for 4 weeks to serve as a skilled tradesman in Haiti. This is the longest mission trip he has taken, and by far the one I have been the most prepared for spiritually and emotionally. Will it stay that way? I doubt it. I mean, lets be honest....I'm a girl, and I'm human. That pretty much sets me up to be highly emotional at some point during this process. A lot of obstacles had crossed Chris' path in the past 24-48 hours and I have no doubt that Satan tried many different avenues to hinder his service. My husband's devotion to the Lord has been unwavering as he said it had never crossed his mind to not go on this trip. Money was raised, supplies were bought, plans changed, devastation occurred, and the whole time my husband put his faith in God's plan and not in his own desires or thoughts of what he thought needed to happen. Oh, what a powerful example he provides for our children about trusting God's plans and I truly believe that the Lord will reward such a commitment.

I have spoken to Chris for the last time stateside, so at this point, I'm not sure when I will talk to him again. That saddens my heart, but at the same time there is comfort and anticipation that when I have no husband to fall on, that I am left to desperately fall at the feet of Christ. Even more so, what does my sacrifice and how I handle it teach my children? Can I help my boys seek Christ in the midst of sadness and what seems like crisis? Can my sacrifice be turned into service right here in my home? I wholeheartedly believe that it can. Sometimes in what seems like a time that you aren't giving enough to God, the Lord is simply calling you to serve your families and to be the mother and caregiver that He has designed you to be.