Unconditional Love

Love is in the air. Hearts are everywhere – pink, red, and white. People in all forms of media and in buildings across America are talking about Valentine’s Day. Marketers are promoting in full force. In 2016 it was estimated that $19.7 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day, according to National Retail Federation. Outward expressions of romantic love are big business.

As for me, I’ll drop at least $10 into the holiday spending with Hallmark cards expressing my affection for my sweet husband and sweetheart daughter. Every $10 adds up – apparently to billions.

In direct contrast to the promoted and romantic love of Hallmark holidays is the deep love it takes day in and day out in family homes everywhere. This love sees and loves people with flaws and wounds – people who cry, hurt, make mistakes, run away, and mess up continually. This love loves in times of joy and fun as well as in times of pain and brokenness.

This is all in my mind and heart because of a book I recently finished. The book is called “To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care” by Cris Beam.

I heard the book recommended on a podcast and immediately put it on my library’s wait list. I was interested for at least four reasons. My husband and I had previously been licensed as foster parents with plans to adopt through our county’s system. Life happened and that door closed.

One of my best friends is currently pursing adoption through the foster system (in large part because of her experience as a youth when she lost her own mother to illness and was then fostered).

Another dear family friend has two foster children in her home now. I wanted to learn more and to be a good friend to my friends and better understand what they might be experiencing.

Currently, I also am voluntarily serving on the board for a local non profit committed to helping our community’s homeless youth. Most of the homeless youth on the streets have aged out of the foster care system. All are in need.

That was my motivation to read the book.

As always happens the book arrived at just the right time.

If you have any interest in this topic for yourself or a friend, read on for my opinions.

This book is easy to read as the author tells history and facts through real stories. This book is hard to read because the realities of foster children and families are so hard – filled with joy and also much suffering, wounds, and brokenness.

My favorite chapter in the book is called “There’s Something about Mary” because of the hope offered in the telling of Mary’s story.  Solutions lie in prioritizing faith and family first (regardless of birth) with supportive community and not in systems. According to the author, the foster system sees itself primarily as protecting the child from harm. Even with this aim, children are being harmed in unfathomable ways. Until the system sees itself as giving a child a loving home to prepare him to be an adult – it will continue to fail. Even then communities will need to step up and love deeper.

“The work at Mary’s was slow, ineffable, improbable. Mostly it took place in the kitchen, with kids long past the age when the system had let them go. And even when they insisted, as Arelis did that they were past saving, I watched the steady hand of unconditional love work it’s power on them. I saw healing inherent in what Mary provided, and in what they gave to each other. This was beyond any system or program or mandate; it was, as Kecia said to me in prison, just the humanness of things.” Cris Beam page 217-218 [italics mine]

My faith teaches that if we are truly believers we follow Jesus and love our communities – especially the windows and orphans. When parents are unable to care for their kids – orphaned can apply. And when addictions, illness, or choices interfere with family unity widowed can apply.

“Just like the people discussing the problems in foster care as a whole, everyone at the Greens’ was touching a different part of the elephant. And just like their counterparts in the bigger picture, everybody’s intentions were perfectly good.” Cris Beam page 246

You can’t help but see how much people care in the stories of this book and in the real life stories in my life. People care. They serve. They want to make a difference. And it’s hard work.

“This is why welfare courts try to fix the myriad problems in child welfare and fail: the problems are rooted in a society that cares little for its children, for its poor, its mentally ill, undereducated, incarcerated, addicted, and isolated. Child welfare is but a thimbleful if water on a raging social fire; the house in DeKalb couldn’t begin to contain its flames.” Cris Bean page 246

Beam’s book describes the current system and consciously avoids being prescriptive. She concludes with two final theories derived from interviews.

“One was Kecia’s ‘You gotta rock with a kid, all the way,’ as that simple fiction consistently proved key to a foster child’s ultimate internal survival.” Cris Beam epilogue

And two was spoken by Doreen who said, “‘History keeps playing itself.’ Over the five years of this book, kids replayed their parents’ patterns; agencies repeated their mistakes of the last. We do what we know, usually, not what we think, and we’re all, as Arelis once out it, ‘the self-destruct buttons of ourselves.’” Cris Beam epilogue

We can’t fix it on our own.  We need help – we need saving  faith.  Unconditional love is available to us.  And when we receive it we are more likely to offer it to others.  Social reform happens one person , one family, one choice at a time.  

This book has hard truths that everyone of us needs to face so we can stop replaying our past mistakes. Well written stories communicating why the foster system is where it is and the impact to children, teens and young adults.

Cris Beam offers no prescription and wisely says in the epilogue, “anything that touches social reform touches foster care too.” We can make a difference and must make a difference. What that looks like will be different for everyone (in process of discovering for myself and my family).

Reading this book provides more of a why so we can add the action – unconditional love, intentional involvement and staying power in our families and communities.

The Pit

Hi! How are you?

How was your week?

Hey, how’s it going?

All thoughtful questions.  And sometimes the asker really wants to know.  Other times these automatic questions become routine as does this common answer.  Fine.

I often respond just like this and have certainly been guilty of asking the questions even when I am unprepared or unwilling to hear the answers.

It’s been a tough week.  I wanted to isolate myself, be completely alone and never hear or ask these questions.  Or really, hear or ask any questions.

I have sat steeped in anxiety, pain, feeling negative and depressed, focused solely on how I am still dealing with the same issues after years of “trying”.  Each thing I have tried in the past and now to pull myself up and out has failed.  Even reading the Bible this week has only provided temporary relief from the pit.

Hormones. Diet. Exercise. Schedule. Responsibility.

All have been placed in a jury box, analyzed, judged to be the culprit of how I feel and why.  Solutions proposed and tried have come up wanting.

For all of my clawing, I have only gone deeper into the pit.  I am not out.  And yet I am sharing anyway.

This morning I see a glimmer of light because of time sitting alone with the Lord, a devotion, and meditation on two verses.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬

The light is not what I would have expected.  Today the reminders that I am a sinner and still loved provide the salve to my soul that give me hope.  Of course I am still struggling.  When did I decide I would arrive – solving everything and being perfect?

The problem is not that I am in the pit with my feelings and attitude.  The problem is that I have isolated myself fully expecting that I would get out of the pit myself.

God loves me wherever I am at.  I am dependent on that love and his truth.  Today I will steep myself in his grace.  Moment by moment.  I will not try.  I will rest in the truth as he lifts me out of the pit.

So go ahead and ask me anything you want.

Remaining True

Have you ever caught yourself on the calendar roller coaster of life?  Over scheduling yourself… vowing to simplify… then finding the calendar is full again… repeating itself season after season.

If you have, you are not alone.  I have felt the realization of being on this roller coaster repeatedly and many of my friends relate similar experiences.  The language may not be the same each time – overwhelming versus roller coaster, minimize versus simplify, prioritize versus schedule, productive versus full – but the impact to your life and soul is the same.

Last summer and fall I found myself saying it again.  And I was saying it because I could see the impact our busyness was having on me and on my family.  I knew something needed to change so in my search for solutions I picked reducing our family’s level of activity.  Relief was quick.  Until the calendar became full again.  Man, will I ever get this?  And then I did get it!  I realized that the calendar is not the enemy.  It is simply a tool for life management.

The real enemy is having priorities and values that differ from the activities we say yes too.  I felt strongly that in order to align the two, a solution outside of myself would be required.

If you know me at all you know I love the concept and practice of focus words.  If this is new concept for you check out some of these previous posts about focus words 2015 Focus and Remembering.

This is not true for everyone, but for me my word usually chooses me – and there is no mistaking that it is mine.  And this year was no exception.   The word chose me in part because of the calendar roller coaster our family had been on.  We needed a transformative solution.  Hence, 2018’s focus word is ABIDE.  As with all focus words, time and reflection will reveal it’s impact in our lives throughout the year but in the beginning of the year we can claim what we think it means for us for now.

Abide has three main meanings:  to accept or bear (someone or something bad, unpleasant, etc.); to stay or live somewhere; or to remain or continue.

For years and maybe even for forever, I was not remaining true to my values.  Whether circumstances were going my way or not, I failed to accept situations, stay in the same place, and be consistent in my choices.  I failed to abide.  This showed up as saying God and family were important, but then saying yes to other good activities that seemed fun or sounded interesting and ultimately pulled my time and attention away from God and family.

It showed up in many ways emotionally and spiritually, which mattered even more than the physical ways it showed up in how my time was spent.  Hence the frustration, fatigue, and failures that are related to a calendar roller coaster.

Abide for me means remaining true to my values.  My primary personal values include faith in Jesus and focus on family.  Both of these require flexibility, time, capacity and energy for these two key areas of my life.  Any time left over can then be devoted to other priorities.

Specific activities with those two values can be unique for each woman and family so there is a lot of variability.  You may be saying those are your priority values too.  We could have exactly the same two priority values and have two completely different calendars.  Isn’t God creative and good?!

The important part is that the values and activities line up to be true for you.

How I knew and how you will know that there is a problem is by acknowledging the frustration you feel when they are out of alignment.  Or maybe you are smarter than me and can be proactive now in asking yourself the right questions.

For me, what works best is abiding in Jesus and actively seeking his counsel for what I will say yes to.  And when in doubt I do nothing.  This is a new practice for me.  And so far I am loving the peace that marks abiding.

Below are just two of countless verses that show how God values abiding and what it can look like in practice.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 ESV  Abiding in faith is a way to honor God.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  Abiding in Jesus brings peace beyond understanding.

I invite you to join me in aligning our values with our activities. Maybe your focus word will help anchor you to your specific values.  Most importantly – instead of striving for more – remain true to who you are as you journey 2018.

Remembering

As a kid, I made a decision.  Not consciously but it turns out I made such a strong decision (or vow) that I carried it for more than 30 years.  The decision I made was that it was a given that I could not remember things.  I repeated this fact to myself consciously and unconsciously for so long the erroneous belief anchored itself in my soul.

There are lots of situations that cause people to lose their memory.  And quite possibly I will lose mine someday.  But to assume that I would follow in the steps of the women in my family and day after day live awaiting that reality was a mistake lived out of a wrong belief system.

Thankfully with prayerful guidance and the counsel of a trusted person, I was able to recognize this vow, repent of the childhood decision, and release the erroneous belief.  I no longer live in fear of forgetting things.  Sometimes I remember and sometimes I forget.  This same wise person taught me by example to simply ask Holy Spirit to bring things to my mind again IF I needed to know them.  This is such a freeing practice.

Being freed from this particular erroneous belief was such a gift.  One specific way was that it redeemed the word “remember” for me.  So in 2016 when I was prayerfully considering my focus word for the year and searching scripture, I wasn’t surprised that the word that chose me was REMEMBER. 

Remember is defined as to have a person come to mind or to keep in mind.  Throughout 2016, my focus was on Remembering who God is and who I am in Him.  You won’t be surprised to know that I often forgot.  One time in the year, I even forgot my focus word.  When I was asked at a social event by a dear friend, the word escaped me.  Good news though.  After feeling shamed to not remember the word “remember”, I realized that imperfection and dependency put me in the perfect place to remember who God is and to rest in Him.  So it was all good!!

Some of the scriptures that spoke to me about this word included the following verses.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  The value of rest and having a rhythm of resting, spending time with family, and trusting God (by not being in control) was a challenge.  However, each and every time I remembered and acted on God’s instruction to rest in Him, I was blessed.

Psalm 77:11  “I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.“ Remembering God’s faithfulness to his people in the Bible and in my own life brings encouragement.  Many times throughout the year I was able to sit in awe of who God is and his faithfulness in spite of his peoples disobedience and grumbling.  He is long suffering and patient.

Ecclessiastes 12:1 “ Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.”  God creates.  We sin and bring evil to the equation.  His response to our evil was to provide a way back into right relationship with our creator.  Reflecting on the cross helps me to remember how loved I am by the creator God.

Isaiah 43:25  “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”  God sent his son to die for us.  Jesus rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  Because of this truth God remembers the sins (of those who have placed their faith in Jesus) no more.  I am tempted to drudge up my sinful past and dwell on how unworthy I am.  God reminds me that I am forgiven and there is no need to dwell.

1 Corinthians 11:24  “and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” Each Sunday as we receive communion  at our church, I am called to remember Jesus’ great love for me through his sacrificial death.  He also reminds me by his example to give thanks in all things.

1 Corinthians 11:2  “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” My sometimes black and white brain needs lots of reminders to not compartmentalize my life.  Instead I can remember Jesus in everything.  Obedience to his traditions, example and the commands of the Bible are other ways I can honor as I remember.

In honor of remembering how God has transformed me, here is a list of each of my focus words from 2010-2018.

  • 2018 Abide
  • 2017 Rejoice
  • 2016 Remember
  • 2015 Stretch
  • 2014 Freedom
  • 2013 Receive
  • 2012 Promise
  • 2011 Still
  • 2010 Honor

What a wonderul experience it has been to have a focus word and live in curiosity and reflection about how God is transforming me year by year!  If you don’t already, I invite you to choose a focus word for yourself this year.  If mine and others’ stories hold true, your experience will be worth remembering.

Learning from Nature

Group of Canadian geese flying in V-formation over sunburst

I learned something this morning.  Well, technically I learned and relearned a lot of somethings (which I will share shortly).  The surprising thing I learned is that what I had always considered a “flock of geese” flying in the sky is not really a flock of geese.  The accurate term is skein instead of flock.  Who knew?  Really, who knew?  Tell me if you knew this already.  I’d love to know how you knew.

Geese are called a gaggle or a flock when they are in a group on the ground and called a skein when they are flying.  Flock references a group that feeds, herds and travels together so it makes sense that many of us consider a group of geese a flock.  And truth be told, going forward when I look into the sky and see a group my mind will still think “flock” and then probably smile knowing it is really a “skein”.

The reason I even learned this is because over the last week, I have observed a skein of geese flying in formation no less than seven times.  And when I observe something that frequently, I assume there must be something to learn from the observation and I get curious about what that something might be.

Each time I have seen the formation,  I find myself watching the sky with my mouth open seeing the beauty of the geese and vaguely remembering teamwork lessons from a former life.  I can take zero credit for these lessons and don’t even know who to credit.  Probably, God has revealed these same lessons from nature to many people who have willingly shared them with others.  Since I believe the lessons to be true and worth sharing, read on to learn or relearn them for yourself.

7 Lessons on teamwork from a Skein of Geese:

1. Choose one leader at a time and fly behind him. Respecting the role of the leader and allowing the leader to determine course ensures that the group goes in the same direction providing stability and increasing safety and results.

2. Share the lead routinely.  As one leader gets tired, rotate the position so you can have new vigor and energy.  This not only protects the leader but encourages others to learn leadership skills and get practice.  This makes the entire team stronger.

3. Don’t be afraid to fly behind some other members of the team.  When you are behind the group, your drag resistance is reduced by 70%.  There is a time for creativity and initiative and a time to stay in place.  Learning this lesson ultimately helps the team and the individual to have more energy and creativity.

4. When you fly in formation , you get 50% more lift than when you are out of formation.  By design the results are better when the formation or plan is adhered too.  After all, most teams are looking for results – qualitative or quantitative or both.

5. When you fall out of formation, not only do you affect your own drag and lift, but that of the rest of the team. They all feel it when one of the members falls out.  We can tell when someone is going their own way and the impact is far reaching.

6. When you are one of the geese on the rows behind, honk to encourage the ones up front.  Positive feedback goes a long way to motivate the team.  Each of us has a role.  Placement in the formation is not a sign of worth.  Instead we can embrace our place and focus on the entire group.  Our encouraging words can make a big difference.

7. If one of the members falls sick, have the pairing member look after him.  We need two to complete the formation and recovery is swifter when you know your teammates care.  Taking the time to check in on another and help them to heal quickly is a sure sign of teamwork.  Caring and knowing you are cared for is a universal need.  Work (whether professional, familial, or otherwise) brings challenge and knowing we are not alone can fuel us to engage in new and better ways.

Just like the last time I reviewed these lessons, today I am in awe of how much can be learned from observation, nature, and order. When I shut out some of the noise and remove distractions, I can pay attention to my surrounding world and am continually reminded of God’s character, attention to detail, and divine order.

The geese are simply going about their business AND at the same time God uses them to remind me of some truths that I can act upon.  I can choose to respect authority, step up as the leader, share responsibilities,  be part of the team, fly in formation, encourage people, and look out for others.

These are lessons that make an impact in the world and increase joy.   If impact and joy are important to you, consider these lessons too.  Ask yourself how these lessons can impact your workplace, your home, and your relationships for the better.  Then choose to move in that direction. 

No matter the term – gaggle, flock or skein – a group of us learning from nature is a good thing.

Rejoice

Choosing a focus word has been a rhythm that I have enjoyed for several years now.  The concept was introduced to me by a dear friend who spoke and continues to speak life into me.   Focus words are just one way to be inspired, encouraged, and intentional with your choices, time and energy.

The idea behind a focus word (versus a resolution) is that a word can have many defined meanings and relates to all aspects of your life – mind, body, soul, relationships, and more.  So instead of defining for an entire year or season (as resolutions do) your goals, you choose a word and watch with curiosity and intention how the word interacts with your life.  Another major difference is that a focus word is designed to inspire and encourage.  There is no condemnation for not achieving a goal that you chose days, weeks or months before. The focus word is not a weakness that you want to improve upon.  Instead a focus word is a word that inspires you to be who you are and to make choices that align with who you are and what your focus is for the year.  Then periodically you can reflect to observe and celebrate.

In 2017 my chosen focus word was Rejoice – to give joy in or to give joy to. 

I say chosen as if I chose it, yet more accurately it chose me.  Through prayer and reading scripture, the word was everywhere – confirming it was my 2017 word.  In the beginning of the year, my vision of how rejoice would show up looked like me being more grateful, complaining less, celebrating daily goodness, and rejoicing in the Lord.  One verse that I claimed a lot was 2 Corinthians 7:16 which says “I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.”  Instead of viewing and responding to my circumstances, I can anchor in God’s sovereignty and providence.

Another verse that became a guiding focus was Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”  In that same chapter verses 8 and 9 became key.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

When my focus shifted to goals and my peace left me, these verses encouraged me to refocus on REJOICE.  Seeing God in the circumstances of my life.  Seeing God in the people in my life.  Seeing God even in the disappointments of my life.  It is possible to rejoice when I see God – knowing his greatness and his great love for me.  God is for me.  And God is for you too.

The original vision did play out.  Additionally, God encouraged me to rejoice in who he created me to be (not do).  Spring was about goals so not a lot of rejoicing happened for me (necessary learnings happened for which I could later rejoice).  Summer brought lots of social, friends, and fun – rejoicing in relationships, laughter, and freedoms.  Fall was a time of travel, new experiences, service, family, and contentment and much rejoicing in the Lord.

2017 ended for our family with a 3 week trip to Spain.  The last images I have of the year were several firework’s displays over the Mediterranean Sea.  My daughter ran from window to patio to another window and back to the patio of our villa, in awe of the brilliance of the sky.  My husband’s laughter filled the air.  Lifelong friends were present, we were all healthy and happy – God’s blessings and presence at the forefront of our mind.  Rejoicing!  A great exclamation point on a year of intentional and more and more natural rejoicing.

Successes and failures both were a part of 2017 for sure.  Irregardless, my focus was on the action of rejoicing and the many reasons why God is worthy and that he is ever present.

Watch for upcoming post on my 2018 Focus word and comment or message me with yours.  It is fun hearing other’s stories and focus words encourage the telling.

If You Only Knew

I love books.  I love people.  And I love books that tell people’s real stories.  This book does that in a big and beautiful way.

Haven’t we all felt that if people really knew us, they would run?  It can be so easy to believe this about ourselves. We can habitually act in inauthentic ways and then be left feeling like a fraud.  In telling her story, Jamie Ivey gives us permission to be ourselves and trust God and others with our real story.   In doing this rich relationships and a rich life become not only possible but probable.

Our group is reading this as soon as it releases at the end of January.  Our first 2018 book club will be centered on the beautiful themes of this book.

Get yours and redeem for additional rewards at http://ifyouonlyknewbook.net/ and join in our online conversation.

Creative God

Knowing God created everything is one thing.  Seeing it is quite another.  The sights, smells, sounds and moving experience of hours of time in nature profoundly affected my vision for God’s creativity.

While in Rwanda our team was able to visit the Akagera National Park, one of the oldest national parks in Africa (1934).  Something about seeing the animals in their natural habitat caused us to slow and truly SEE them.  In each of the animals we observed, we could clearly see the imagination of God.

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

An impala is not a monkey is not an elephant is not a hippopotamus is not a giraffe.  God’s creative spirit is evidenced in all of the animals.  Shapes, sizes, colors, and behaviors are each unique and special.  Knowing specific details about the animal kingdom would take many lifetimes and is probably impossible.

The zebras were my favorite animal and no picture I have ever seen (including this ones I personally took) shows their true beauty.  Stripes with no beginning and no end, beautiful confident posture, and hefty weight delighted me.  Although they are beautiful each of their features also serves to help them survive and thrive, all designed by God and for His will.   Zebras live 20 – 40 years.  I was captivated by their stunning existence and the fact that we were so close and yet safe.

We we also saw baboons, monkeys, oribis, impalas, topis, waterbucks, elephants, hippopotamuses, buffaloes, giraffes, and countless birds, plants and trees.  Akagera is a 1,200 square kilometre savannah park renowned for its stunning landscapes and extraordinary biodiversity.

Our visit to Akagera was incredible and provided an invitation that I have accepted repeatedly in the subsequent weeks.  I don’t know when I will visit Rwanda next.  Yet the invitation to see all of creation and therefore our creative God is extended daily.  Will we accept this invitation?  I know for sure that when I (we) do we will be incredibly blessed.

 

Satisfying Thirst

Are you thirsty?  They say if you answer yes to that question, then you are already dehydrated.  By the time we realize our need for water we have already passed the point of simple thirst and dangerously entered into dehydration.  The negative impacts of dehydration on our body are many including dry mouth, headaches, fatigue and lethargy.  Our cognitive and psychological functions are also impacted.

Have you experienced being thirsty?  And after drinking a glass of water, then felt as if you were never in need.  I have.  Guessing you have too.  This is a universal experience – one we have all gone through at some point or another.   We need water to live.  It is universal.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 31:6 that God never forsakes his people.  We can trust His promises.  He alone provides, protects, satisfies.  He also allows us the privilege to participate in the ways He satisfies physical thirst.  We can choose to drink water.  We can choose to offer the water to others also in need.

From Isaiah 4-:17-20, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

There are many who need clean water today.  Not having access to clean water has dire consequences.  God can and does provide.   He uses people to be His hands and feet universally.  He invites us to pray.  He invites us to take action.

Join me in praying for all people to have access to clean water.  Join me in taking action whenever and wherever you can.  Be a part of God’s plan and provision to satisfy physical thirst.

https://water.cc/

God is good all the time

It shouldn’t have taken this, but it did.   It didn’t happen in my home town or anywhere close.  It happened on a different continent.  Finally, after traveling across the world my head and heart married to the truth that God is good all the time.

Countless times, I had heard the message, read the truth, witnessed miracles, or saw evidence to support the truth the Bible states in Romans 8:28.  Yet daily I struggled to continually and consistently believe in God’s goodness toward me.  When I felt like I was performing well I could receive the truth because I could attribute the outcome or feeling to something I had finally gotten right.  But most often I felt like I was not doing well enough to experience God’s goodness.  These feelings led me to look for all the evidence that I had not achieved enough and God was not pleased and giving me what I deserved.  Of course I found lots of negative things to focus on – all of it anti-gospel.  Do you see the errors in my thinking?

I am changed.  Spending time in Africa living repeated examples of God’s goodness in the midst of what most would call extreme poverty got my attention.  Most memorably, I experienced this marriage of head and heart while sitting in a church service in a small village in the district of Ruhango in Rwanda Africa.  Surround by our team and more than 50 people from across the district, I KNEW without a doubt of God’s great love for his people.  In spite of extreme poverty, disease, hardship all around, the villagers worshipped  God with full abandon and joy.  I watched in awe.  I participated with the same abandon.  I worshipped in another language with people whose names I did not know but whose heart and spirit I shared.  I couldn’t stop the tears as they rolled out of my eyes and down my face.  What had any of us done to earn the love of God?  Nothing.  He loves us because of who he is and not because of our actions or lack of action.

Thirteen of us had traveled more than 30 hours across the world to offer clean water and ourselves to a village in Rwanda.  We had prayed, prepared, battled fears.  We were there to do whatever was necessary to show the people of Rwanda God’s love for them.  And we did.  And so did they.  They showed me God’s love for me.  And I will never be the same.