Category Archives: Inspirational

I Wanted to be the Mother of Africa

Situation 1: When I went to Zambia as a 21-year old to work with street kids, I wanted to be a mom to all of the street kids in Africa.

As soon as I put my shovel to the ground, so to speak, I realized that my expectations were unrealistic and naive. But after over a year of working with a few kids, one of them said to me, “You love very nice.”

Situation 2: 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered outside the Lorraine Motel. He was only 39 years old, and he only saw tiny bits of the change he labored for.

I have listened to some of the MLK50 Conference, put on by The Gospel Coalition, and have been moved – deeply. Convicted. Motivated. Encouraged. Please, please, please do yourself and your fellow man a massive favor by listening to these talks! (Some are still happening today, and all will be made available for free.)

This anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in the midst of increased racial tension is no accident. This journey toward racial reconciliation has been going on a long time.

Putting it together: But what do Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial issues have to do with my desire to be the mother of Africa? I have learned something crucial – it’s one. Step. At. A. Time. One life at a time.

I want to see racial issues figured out today. I want my one act of kindness to my African American neighbor to result in healing and reconciliation of all racial tension. But that is unrealistic and naive. Just like my desire to be a mother to all African street kids.

Should I give up? No. Change happens one life at a time and, firstly, inside of me. And I need to be committed to doing 3 incredibly vital things.

Love. Love others as I love myself. As I love my children and family.

Speak up. To be silent is to oppose. So, speak. And I know that speaking up about racial issues will mean being unpopular. But this issue is in the heart of God.

Be kind. Reconciliation can happen through deeds of kindness.

There are loads of other things that could be said. Pray! Make friends with people who look different than me. Let them shape me. Ask them to tell their stories. Learn. Be humble. Repent. Get to know black history. The list goes on.

But, first, I need to love, speak up, and be kind. Would you join with me in this? It is “a mighty long journey.” But let’s join hands to help see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Piling It On

There have been moments in the last 6-12 months where I have wondered, “Really, God? Was that petty annoyance really necessary? Because it feels like insignificant frustrations are getting piled on.” And, of course, the answer is that God is sovereignly, lovingly working Christlikeness and worship in my broken heart…though it hurts and burns.

But, as I have thought quite a bit about the phrase “piling it on” – because the power still goes off at unscheduled times and just when I am ready to put the bread in the oven or wash a load of muddy boy clothes, or the hot water doesn’t work…again, or the water tank starts leaking out of the blue, or the boys are exceptionally needy and naughty when we’re about to host 13 people for dinner, or… – I was reminded of a different kind of piling it on this morning from Romans 5.

5:1 – we have justification through faith

5:1 – we have PEACE with God through Jesus

5:2 – we also have obtained access by faith into grace

5:2 – and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God

5:3-4 – not only that (!), but we rejoice in our sufferings…because we know that God is working good things (endurance, character, hope) through the suffering

5:5 – God’s love has been poured into our hearts

5:5 – we have the Holy Spirit

I hope and pray that, in all the “piling on” of God’s carefully designed “petty annoyances,” I will remember the much greater piling on of the incredible and totally undeserving riches of God’s glory.

A New Year – What Will It Bring?

Now that the Christmas and holiday rush is over, you probably have time to sit down and read all of those Christmas letters that people sent. Unless you are us, as we have not received any mail whatsoever in about 4 weeks. The post office went on strike for the month of December. I wonder if they regretted that decision when they came back to work and stood before Mt. Holiday Mail?! But, I digress.

As we begin a new year, there are millions of situations and decisions we will face. Many we anticipate, and many more we do not. This got me thinking about some of the decisions I have had to make over the last year that I did not anticipate. Here are a few:

  1. As I mentioned already, our mail has not been delivered for over a month. (Thank you to those of you who sent Christmas cards to Zambia! We look forward to reading those, hopefully, in a couple weeks when they are delivered). Since I have the email addresses of some key people in the postal system, I have wondered how often I should continue to email them to ask about the whereabouts of several packages, which people sent in November, especially since they don’t respond to my emails. 🙂
  2. What should we do with our dog between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day? Zambians LOVE fireworks. Our dog does NOT. From 8pm until 2:30am for 7-10 days, there are fireworks, a poor dog going out of his mind, and poor us trying to maintain stability and sanity.
  3. Sam has been growing some pretty cute curls at the nape of his neck along with some crazy flyaways behind his ears. When should I cut his hair for the first time in his life?
  4. Does freshly-picked-from-our-backyard mango salsa pair well with spicy shredded chicken on freshly homemade tortillas? (Yes. the answer is a resounding YES!)
  5. Does my househelper/maid do a good enough job that makes it worth it for me to pay her child’s school fees/day care costs? She is only able to work if she has someone to take care of her daughter, but she cannot afford day care costs.
  6. Should I continue on with my undergraduate studies for my Bachelor of Science?
  7. When am I supposed to start officially home schooling? What curriculum will I use? Am I up for the task?
  8. What will I cook for dinner when our power is off for 8 hours every day? Will I actually turn the oven on when it’s 100 degrees outside and 94 degrees inside?
  9. How hard do we push potty training, when someone has told us in no uncertain terms, “I do not want to. I just want to wear diapers.”
  10. At ACTION’s 40th Anniversary Jubilee in Canada, I asked Wheaton College professor and author, Scott Moreau, a question that I found rolling through my mind several times in 2015 – How do I know what the purpose is of each trial? Is it simply spiritual warfare trying to distract us from the work we are doing? Is it the consequence of sinful actions or attitudes? Is it general sanctification – purging sin and learning to rely on God? Dr. Moreau’s response was profound – pray. Ask God. Press in to him. Get counsel from godly men and women. He lamented that he couldn’t be more helpful. But I do hope and pray that I will press in to God this 2016. There will always be trials. So, may God grant faith to trust him and rely on him more, especially for all the decisions and questions that will arise. And may he do the same for you.

Never Received Any Accolades

IMG_1252 copy(Walking into Garden Compound for the CROSS Project – January 28, 2014)

When I think back over my life, I can think of numerous times that I have been recognized or clapped for in front of an audience or a small group of people. Some of those events were just causal events like a party or with a group of friends, and I got clapped for for winning a silly game or for saying something funny. And some of those events were serious like a graduation or our wedding that I or we got recognized or clapped for.

But what would it be like if you had never been recognized or clapped for in your whole life? or you have never really accomplished anything that the world would recognize you for or give you accolades for?

For the poor and urban poor in Zambia, this is very sadly the case. To point out a fact, they have accomplished a lot. Living on a few dollars a day in deplorable conditions, most of the urban poor, especially so many of the women, should get a standing ovation everyday for their hard work and ingenuity in scraping out a living and a life for them and their children. But, sadly, you don’t get recognized or get accolades for that.

A few weeks ago, at one of our CROSS Project Graduations, one of ladies was in tears as we called her name to come up and receive a certificate and Bible. I don’t know for sure the reason why she was so touched by that moment. But I later thought, it could be that this is the only time, or one of the few times in her life, that she has or ever will be recognized, clapped for, or receive accolades. Such is the case for so many of the poor around the world.

The good news for all of us, earthly poor or earthy rich, is that one day, if we have trusted in Christ as our treasure and savior and have lived a life that seeks to glorify Him and have been good stewards and faithful with what God has given us in this life, He will one day wipe every tear away and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21 ESV)

I think there are going to be a lot of very poor people from an earthy perspective that will be very rich in heaven, because they have been so faithful and glorified Him with what He has given them here. I know quite a lot of these people here in Zambia.

Running a Marathon at 25 Weeks Pregnant

Backstage crew. Support staff. Fans and spectators. Cheerleaders. Whatever term you want to use, we want to send a big shout out to all of the people who keep us going here. There are people who pray, people who give, people who email, people who text, and people who we don’t even know who do these things. 

We might be getting the recognition for doing the “real” work on the ground in Zambia, but there are lots of people who do things that make it all possible for us to be here. 

As we get closer to the end of this term, we have felt moments of fatigue and weariness with life and ministry and have felt just plain old ready for a break. Like being on mile 24 in a marathon (not that we would actually know anything about that!), our muscles are tired, and our spirits are searching for a glimpse of the finish line. 

This morning, we awoke to an email from ACTION Headquarters that reminded us about all the people who give sacrificially to enable us be here. By God’s grace, people believe that what we are doing in Zambia is worthwhile. Amazing!

As I rolled out of bed (and I literally did roll, with how big this baby belly is getting!), I felt like I had rounded a bend in the road of this marathon, and all of the sudden, I could almost hear people cheering us on: 

We believe in what you’re doing! 

Keep on going! 

Don’t give up!

The weariness and fatigue melted away in a moment. I felt renewed energy and passion for what God has called us to. And I praised God for all of you standing on the sidelines cheering us on. Seriously, we are just a part of what God is doing in Zambia – all of you are a huge part in making this happen. And today, we want to say a big THANK YOU to the many people who have our backs as we finish this term!!! We could not do this without you.

When Forgetting Is a Sin

Many who know me know that I often have a problem of remembering things. This has proved helpful and hurtful in my marriage with Derek. Helpful – it is difficult to hold grudges against Derek if I can’t remember the offense. Hurtful – if I forget important pieces of information or things important to Derek.

And while not minimizing the ways I have hurt Derek in my forgetfulness, there is a kind of forgetting that is infinitely more serious and hurtful – forgetting God.
This morning in my devotions, I read Psalm 78, and it recounts the many times and ways Israel sinned against God during their wilderness wanderings. It begins, though, by telling how to not be like them:
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (v. 4).
“…Arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God” (v. 6-7)
But here is what Israel did…
“They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them” (v. 11).
“They did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power” (v. 22).
“…despite his wonders, they did not believe” (v. 32).
“They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe” (v. 42).
O, to remember! I don’t want to be like the Israelites in their forgetfulness, although I wonder how much I really am. How often do I tell about God’s glorious deed and might or recall his wonders and power? I am thankful for a merciful God who does not consume my for my short-term memory! And I am thankful for the tangible example I have in Derek, who shows me mercy on a daily basis amidst all my shortcomings.

Happiness Depends On…

The following is an incredible blog post from our team leader in Zambia, Tim Hilty. Please take the time to read about how our brothers and sisters in Zambia are fighting the fight of faith in the midst of difficult times.
Last week a pastor in our mission’s pastors training classes passed through what most American’s would consider a tragedy. His wife gave birth to a baby boy via an emergency C-section operation. During the operation doctors and nurses told him to go home and wait for the outcome. They told him that the procedure was 50/50 survival for wife and child.

The next morning he returned to the hospital and found wonderful news waiting. His wife and child were okay… His boy was born with birth defects but the prognosis for future procedures seemed good. A week passed and all seemed well… He and his wife were exhausted from taking care of a newborn and recovering from the invasive surgery. Friday night they went to sleep and in the morning they found the baby struggling to breath.

They rushed to the government hospital but their son died on the way. The doctors pronounced the child BID (Brought In Dead). What started out as just another morning turned into a visit to the police, mortuary and hasty funeral service. In Zambia, children who are days / weeks old are not given the typical funeral. The pastor and his wife had not yet given the boy a name so the government documents indicated “son of…” Within hours, the death had been processed by the authorities and burial plot was given to the family in crisis. By 13 hrs. that afternoon, everything was finalized. The pastor and his wife returned to their home, stunned and exhausted.

I visited them the following day and sat with them in their home, me being mostly quiet. Lots of family members were packed into every room of the small house. Mothers, sisters, nieces, uncles sat on the floor and we all sat in silence. Communication was evident, soul to soul, spirit to spirit. Being surrounded by community like that would have been uncomfortable to me if I were the one loosing a child. I would probably want to be left alone. Not so in Zambia, the community shows profound solidarity and draws close to the grieving.

Looking around the room I saw the faces… and wondered how the happenings of the day before could possibly be true. The pastor was warm and appreciative of me passing through his place. He shared with me his deep conviction of the “supremacy of Christ” even in the midst of loss. He shared how he felt the tangible comfort of his Savior. As he talked I glanced over at his front door… A paper had been posted there at eye-level – no doubt put there deliberately. I’ll never forget what it read:

“Happiness depends on happenings, joy depends on Jesus.”

Already, the pastor had begun his fight for joy… in the midst of everything he had decided to soldier on.