September 6, 2012

The Coming and Going

One after the other they pass by, some on bicycles, some on horse-drawn carts, others walking with machete in hand. The day ahead is long, hot and difficult, but these men – young and old – head to the fields before the sun has a chance to scorch away any hint of the refreshing that came with the night.

The young ones have a spring in their gait that boasts of a coming-of-age sense of privilege to participate alongside the revered generations. The older ones proceed at an unhurried yet determined pace, moving along bent under the weight of what lies ahead.
I pause from my own morning routine of dishes and bed-making to simply watch these daily rain forest commuters. Here inside with a fan blowing I still cannot keep the sweat from sliding my morning face off in less time than it took to put on, and I wonder how they appear so dry out there walking and riding in the full sun, dressed in long-sleeved shirts, with trousers tucked into heavy rubber boots.
Each afternoon they return weary and tired, no longer dry, these walkers who carry bundles on shoulders, and bikers who precariously balance loads across spindly frames. Horses pull carts laden with the days' cuttings while thunderous motorcycles, brightly painted buses and large transport trucks rip past the slower travellers in a baffling scene of contrast and contradiction.

It's like watching the ebb and flow of the tide with some swimmers caught in the heavy under current that pulls them further and further out to sea, while others catch the surface of the same powerful force to glide by on a fast, furious ride toward solid ground.
And here I am. Watching. Absorbing. Struggling to connect, scrambling to identify with these colliding cultures and traditions, grappling to comprehend the way of life here in context with the various language groups represented. And all the while, the narrow perspective of my own life experience threatens to filter everything so fine that all that I see is limited to what I have previously known.
I don't want that kind of cramped horizon and heart. I want an expanded heart and an expanded vision to see what God sees as I adapt and adjust here in a new land. I want to see beyond the natural to look with spiritual eyes, and to filter new happenings and experiences according to His heart and purpose instead of through the narrow funnel of my own understanding. I want neither to be caught in the under current nor to be riding by oblivious, but to be fully engaged in what God is doing regardless of the cultural setting, the language barriers, or the daily tasks.

Challenging?  -- You bet! 

Impossible? -- Not with God. Not when there's the coming and going that happens when I allow Him to take center place in my life, and let my "me-ness" slip quietly out of the way.


August 18, 2012

S-T-R-E-T-C-H !

We’re on the home stretch! Monday our feet touch down on foreign soil – again--  only this time we’re staying for a while to serve and to work alongside others who have been working and serving others for a lifetime already.

Talk about feeling stretched right now. We’ve been looking forward to this target date, this major new step in life and direction for a long time, and it’s right around the corner. I anticipated challenges along the way, but I did not expect to juggle so many crazy emotions in the last couple of weeks before we leave! Can you relate?

You feel the impact of the next step even before it arrives, and part of you slightly recoils at the enormous amount of change just ahead.

You welcome the excitement of the experience, but know that this adventure will take you thinner and use up all the you there is to use in ways you never dreamed possible. And that just-not-knowing-thing is an irritating little beast conquered only by a disciplined focus on the One who knows all things.

You wonder if you have prepared well enough, and remember all the pulled muscles, awkward landings and fall-hard-on-your-face moments that go into a lifetime of simply trying to walk with God.

You try to ignore the unspoken question: Can I fill these shoes? – these brand new shoes with that delightful new-shoe-smell; these shoes that wear sore spots and blisters until the time of adjustment passes; these shoes that crowd out the comfy old flip-flops that slip on and off without a second thought.

You know there is grace to do what God has asked, but your heart still feels the pang when little ones whisper -- I don’t want you to leave. I wanna go with YOU!


So, you busy yourself with the packing list and what-if scenarios to distract your heart, and before you know it, you’re running on an exhilarating, exhausting, busy grace all pulled out of shape.


That’s where I am.

Happy. Excited. Anxious. Teary about things that women understand in the going and coming and transitions of life. Battling uncertainties and holding tight to His promises.


Yet in the midst of last-minute preparations and crazy emotions, there’s this place of peace that restores and renews and makes it possible to stretch a little further. Leaning on His strength reinforces tired faith fibers and revitalizes a spirit weighed down, and I delight to slip away in His grace and mercy -- always enough and fresh available each and every morning.

And so, with that reminder, I yield to the stretching and embrace it for all its worth, every exciting, rewarding, uncomfortable, heart-being-tugged-to-the-end-of-my-next-generation-mama-self-and-beyond, knowing that because of Christ… and only because of Christ… I can do this thing.




Where do you turn when life stretches you in new and challenging ways?


This post inspired by the Five Minute Friday writing prompt: Stretch.

I took way longer than five minutes on this one, and couldn’t help but do some editing, – two broken rules! -- so I won’t link up but I will shout out the FMF community so you can hop on over and enjoy other great reads. Just click the button.

Five Minute Friday

August 3, 2012

Along the Way to There

Sunset on Lago Peten Itza


Not there.

Lost in a moment or not willing to move on. What kind of here?

Actively working away at the necessaries of today, knowing full well the tasks that must be completed before tomorrow. Here.

Enjoying life in the moment and living fully engaged, but with full awareness that the moments are fleeting. Here.

Willing to receive and release the beauty of each second as it breathes in this space. Here.

Or so caught up in the drive to reach what I strive for that I totally lose today?

Balanced between today and tomorrow, this second and the next is the place where I am and where You are, and together we move and breathe and I follow Your lead. I don’t want to be unwilling to move on… stuck in some place in time, but I want to live yielded to your Holy Spirit each and every minute so that when I find myself in the place of down the road, or around the next corner, or face-to-face-with-life-I-can’t-even-imagine-yet, I am still very much HERE… with You.

Fulfilled. Productive. Engaged. Alive. And all because of You.



Acts 17:28

Five Minute Friday Click the 5 Minute badge to hop over to the writing free community with Lisa-Jo Baker, and join in on the fun!

How about it friends? Where are you in the journey today?

August 1, 2012

When Life Brings a Blueberry Bumblebee

A Blueberry Bumblebee flew through my door on a breeze of delight, flying fast on strong borrowed wings. And time froze as life, pure and right, exploded in the place that busyness cannot comprehend.

The slip of paper, all full of to-do’s, falls to the floor, and nothing else matters except to follow quick and light and keep up with your happy buzz.

You flitter about in your jerk-weaving way, playing with sunbeams all dazzling and bright. Your eyes smile that smile that goes straight to my heart, then you fold your wings and knees tight to your chest and giggle so hard you can barely breathe.

And Life ruffles the air!

Your fat little thighs bulge from the hem of a blue-striped suit and boast of promise, of someday and soaring so high. And I see with new eyes as I play with you here and feel a fresh heart beating inside.

Each zig-zagging, wobbly move that you make brings a flood of encouragement and coaxing and praise, with no need to get anything right except the pure savoring of the moment. 



Not like before, when the demands of tending, and harvesting and storing stole away from sweet times to chase after bees in carefree play.

This patience is born of time flown by, and do-overs desired; from knowing how fast those blueberries fade and how bumblebees fly away when you’re busy trying to gather fruit amidst all the hum and the buzz… and…

Because little striped suits get packed away in dusty boxes, shuffled from place to place, until one day cast aside from decades of disuse. And life feels all stagnant and serious and dull.

Then here you come, on a smile-driven wind, to zip in and flit out in the blink of an eye. Only this time I follow and fly fast and high to that place …

…where watching you sleep is a soothing reprieve, a reminder that serenity can be found in the midst of an angry and vicious world, and that innocence is always worth fighting for;

… where no other accomplishment compares to the weightiest satisfaction of holding you now, lost in a second-chance moment;

… and I wish time would STOP right here at the threshold of my happy heart and not steal one more second of this perfect joy.

So, when life brings a Blueberry Bumblebee, I’ve learned to pause long and let some things wait, and to hold tenderly tight because years can just vanish in a day.

Then as the love and the ache all boil up inside and fall hot on your soft sleepy head, I snuggle you close just a few minutes more, and then open my heart so you can fly on… and on… and…

I smile as I watch you fast slip away to places where I cannot go, happy and thankful you stopped by to play,

My beautiful, Blueberry Bumblebee.


Because sometimes life brings an unexpected chance to love and to laugh and to smile… again.

July 30, 2012

Outside the Boundaries Within

Five Minute Friday


There’s this place you strive to get to that never seems to be there once you arrive. There’s no hint of the target anywhere in sight. But it’s not a place. Not really. It’s more a sense of awareness that you really are where you need to be even though you are so undone and incomplete, and you might not even like this place very much.

You spend so much time looking for something up ahead and down the road and all along the way, – something so beyond yourself -- that you stifle the beautiful well of His delight bubbling deep within.

Stop looking and reaching and striving and seeking. Look to Him and discover so much more beyond the boundaries of your limited understanding. Right here, the Master Creator God who lives within you and all around you, can’t wait to show you His wonders and goodness.

Here. Not somewhere else. Here in this place absent the distractions; absent the bindings and trappings of your own design, and free of self-imposed inhibitions that squelch His creativity -- tap into the potential you’ve yet to discover. The potential He designed within you. The potential that lies a dormant slave to fear of the not-quite-there-yet voice that says…  play it safe – you’re not ready – it’s not my time.

Reach beyond the limits of the you that you are comfortable with. Reach to the limits of all that He is and who you are IN HIM… and for a few untethered minutes… just color outside the lines.


How about it friends? What have you done to unlock the creative YOU lately?



I’m late getting this posted from last Friday’s “Five Minute Friday” free-writing-no-editing-let-it-flow-exercise for the word: Beyond. Click the Five Minute Friday button at the top to find the rules and to enjoy postings by other participants. Plus… if you want to give it a try, join in on the fun.

July 20, 2012


It’s Five Minute Friday! To read the fun rules, click here.

When is enough... enough? When can I look at my life and feel satiated? Through human eyes and with human desires flooding my soul, the concept of reaching the point of completion or fullness is always just a little further than the here and now.

But this morning I paused. I stepped back and looked enough in the face even if just for a brief moment. It’s the awareness that my everything is found in something so much greater than I will ever be on my own. It’s in taking joy in the pleasure of the moment and savoring the memories and joys of the blessings of now.

Yes. The nowness. That word I self-invented for my 2012 year. The word almost forgotten in the busy rush of life that trips us up and dries our bones. Now, lost in the presence of the only One that matters, that’s where I find enough.

Enough to satisfy. Enough to quench the drive and silence the ever-nagging urgency to seek and search for anything more because all that I need is right here surrounding me with His presence. Filling my heart with all the joy and peace that makes the imperfections of living and being the me I don’t always like to see vanish in the greater goodness of who He is. And He is more than enough!
And then, when I turn to pick up that fussy little one, and I see his red-rimmed eyes and that clumsy little pudge-paw rubbing awkwardly at the sleepiness, my heart is ready to sit down in a rocking chair, to cuddle him close and let him enter the place of rest.

He settles against the front side of my squishy old arm, after a brief struggle, and buries his forehead against my chest in his five-month-old way. As security and safety overwhelm him, he is satiated with the contentment of being in the presence of one who comforts and soothes.

My time in Your presence is much like my sleepy Little One. That place where emptying myself in the fullness of You is more than enough.


Blessings to you, my friends. May your day be filled with the blessing of wholeness found in Christ.
{Picture and links added after the 5-minutes.}

Five Minute Friday

July 6, 2012

Refreshing Summer Memories

I ran across an old recipe card scrawled in my grandmother’s handwriting. Each unique stroke of her pen painted a vivid portrait as I turned the pages of time...

I could hear her chuckle and smell every delicious scent of her kitchen. Standing there beside me at that old farmhouse sink with the windows open and the fresh farm breezes ruffling the curtains, we laughed about some story she told that compared me at my age then to her and her mama what-seemed-to-me-eternities before. 
My grandma, a woman who wore Jesus as naturally as her everyday cotton print. Her work-worn hands etched with years of love perfected in the comforting and the toil of providing that flows from a godly mama heart. 
There in her apron-covered house dress, and me in my summer shift and ribbon-tied blonde braids, captured in a memory now instantly unlocked by a faded old recipe card.

I also remember how much I LOVED this refreshing summer salad! I don’t know the origins of the recipe, but you can Google “vintage Lemon Jell-O Salad” and get similar recipes. I remember enjoying it in the late-1960’s and early 70’s when Grandma took this salad to our annual community smorgasbord fundraiser, or to church fellowship dinners. Remember those?
Hazels Jello SaladHazels Jello Salad p2

She simply called it, “Hazels Jello Salad” – for the great aunt who passed the recipe on to her. This way of tagging recipes may have failed to give proper credit to the originator, but it sure had a way of making a memoir out of a recipe box!

Their voices light and happy, sharing life and hearts and new recipes as they caught up on distant family news while working away in that big ol' summer-time kitchen on the farm ...

What treasures are tucked away in your recipe box? 


[Recipe below typed from Grandma’s card]

Lemon Jell-O Salad with Pudding Topping
  • In 9x13 dish – dissolve 2 boxes lemon Jell-O in 2 cups hot water.
  • Add 2 cups ice water
  • Cool
  • 4 large bananas, sliced thin.
  • 1 – #2 can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • Refrigerate to set gelatin
Cook until bubbly & thickened
  • 1 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. butter or oleo (margarine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs – well beaten
Set aside to cool completely.
  • Prepare 2 pkgs Dream Whip according to pkg. instructions.
When topping is cold, add the prepared Dream Whip and blend well. Spread pudding mixture on top of set Jell-O salad and sprinkle with finely grated mild cheddar cheese.

May 29, 2012

Wishful Thinking: The Fertilizer of Disappointment

The gummy, difficult clay soil that plagues my region magnifies the nagging garden failures screaming from every corner of my yard: the half-eaten hostas; the yellow-leafed rhododendrons; and especially the blue-spruce ground cover my mom swore I could plant in gravel. “It grows anywhere. You can’t kill it!” 
Am I the only one who can’t grow the impossible-to-kill-plant? I blame it on the soil, but who am I kidding. So why do I get excited about Memorial Day plant sales and a beautiful day to work outside in the yard?
Like some hair-bent squirrel, I run around the yard digging holes and shoving poor little snippets of life in the ground, praying they survive in spite of me. I seriously wondered if it was heartless – maybe even tantamount to sinful -- to try planting anything again this year knowing full well the inevitable crucible of suffering it must bear!
Nevertheless, the holiday found me humming, and digging and planting away in my nasty unyielding clay-cursed soil. Did I take time to prep the planting area?  Nope.
Wishful thinking is the fertilizer of disappointment!
Still, a post-planting thorough watering eased my conscience and convinced me I was not guilty of subjecting these Green Beings to merciless agricultural ineptitude.
I’m in the “gardener’s honeymoon phase” right now. Checking the flower beds and watering my verdant little friends draws me outside early. This morning the soil still held the dampness of last night’s deep dousing, and a few large clay clumps caught my eye. When I gently compressed the softball-size clod, it easily broke apart in my hands. I was startled at the sheer joy that shot through me. I worked more clumps into delightfully dispersible little crumbs.
As the crumbled pieces fell back into the flower bed, I relished the feel of running my fingers through the surprisingly workable earth. The seedbed still isn’t what I want it to be, or what it needs to be to yield the best results. But it’s better than it was yesterday and far better than last year. With ongoing attention, my little garden beds will continue to get better until one day they boast the kind of rich, black soil I can’t wait to sink my hands into. The kind of soil that brings forth beautiful results and delights my heart.
In the meantime, no more wishful thinking! There’s work to do.

Father, please continue to prepare the seedbed of my heart. Help me yield to the work of your hands so that one day the results might bring you much joy.


May 9, 2012

Rainforests... here we come!

There has been a lot going on with this crazy writer of this weird little blog about seizing-the-cup and experiencing Life in Jesus Christ. My pen has been silent for a while, and I need to bring you up to speed:

The chapel at Hospital ShalomWe are returning to Guatemala to serve full-time with New Covenant World Missions and the ministry team at Hospital Shalom

Rainforest here we come! Suffocating humidity. Snakes. Big spiders. Scorpions. Howler monkeys. Banana trees. Little gecko's that bark in your room at night while gobbling up mosquitos and roaches. The five-minute-face, impossible hair, almost-always-ice-cold showers, and the never-quite-dry feel of a tropical wardrobe.
This would never have been our climate choice, but what we saw God doing in the hearts and lives of the people in this region stirred us like the promise of a refreshing breeze that evaporates the discomfort of soggy dampness and refreshes the spirit like a sudden, easy breath drawn by heavy-laden lungs.

Planning, preparation and language studies began immediately after we got home. 
I now have the equivalent Spanish skills of a pre-verbal Latin-American toddler! I totally get what it feels like to understand more of what I see than I can formulate into a coherent response.  Frustrating!  I guess this is a sign of progress?
The heart. How do I explain the way God seemed to instantly download a love for people so unique in experience, in life-perspective – in culture and practice – a love and compassion for men, women and children who have seen so much pain, so much war and heartache – who long for the assurance of lasting peace, quietude in spirit and rest from weary burdens? How do I convey God’s heart burning for them within us?

Ahhh… my pen. Our hands. Our feet. Stirred into action by the power of His love and by His Spirit, and so we go…
Artisan at Mayan ruins in Tikal

We are so overwhelmingly blessed by the many one-time gifts and your pledges of monthly support as your hearts have responded to God’s heart, and together we reach out to serve the people of northern Guatemala with the message of hope and healing through the ministry team of Hospital Shalom. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Simply serving…
De & Rod
Ephesians 1:17-19

To follow our Guatemala ministry updates, subscribe to Simply Serving via email.

Oh, yes I DID!

Did I mention the big spiders? This one is just a baby… or so I was told!

April 9, 2012

Reflections of His Goodness

Reflections 2005Your glory shines,
majestically displayed on earth and sky and waters still,

And heart cries out to Heart, Oh, Source of all this lovely, pure and good.

Your beauty sparks desire unquenchable and moves this heart to seek Your face,

To experience the hush of holy awe, and humbly mirror mercy received.

At times your Light falls gently on life’s waters smooth; unhindered,

Crater Lake reflections - 2005
And Reflector, tho’ in full view, lies cloaked, obscured by image born of Perfect beams.

 At times Your light falls hard upon these surfaces tossed by adverse winds, and

Marred, tho’ then Reflector be,
-- whether from that which lies aloft, or from that which protrudes from murky deep --

Your likeness, even then in shadowed distortion seen, beckons all to search for Beauty True;
                                                                                                        Eternal Light – Eternal Hope; 
                                                                                                        burst forth upon Reflector dimmed;
                                                                                                        Restore, renew, that all might see 
                                                                                                        pure reflections of Your Goodness.


What have you seen today that caused you to reflect on the Goodness of the Lord?

April 7, 2012

Resurrection truth for children

I asked my children's Sunday School class of 4-6 year olds why we celebrate Christmas, and the first thing they shouted was PRESENTS! More recently, I asked them the same question about Easter. Their response -- EASTER EGGS! --- The Easter Bunny!

Wow. That was a jolt! The reality of their understanding opened my eyes to the fact that even among our most faithful, church-attending children, these are their first thoughts about the most precious Christian celebrations and traditions of our faith.

That's why when I saw this idea over at Ministry to Children, I just had to pass it along. I wish I had found it earlier, but it just hit my inbox this morning. I appreciate Bethany Tapp's creativity and hope you find it helpful as you minister to the precious little ones you serve in the body of Christ. If you have a similar tool you use, please leave a comment below. Let's keep working together to establish in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children the foundational truths of our heritage in Christ.

May you celebrate with joy the beauty of new life we have through faith in Jesus Christ as you reflect on the full revelation of God's mercy and grace given to us through the atoning work of the cross.

March 29, 2012

Rooted in the right stuff

How about it?

Are your roots anchored deeply enough in the right stuff to hold you up when life gives way beneath you?

Crater Lake July2005

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure...   Jesus!"

Hebrews 6:19-20


March 26, 2012

Some things just aren’t what they seem…

CA Trip July2005 047[7]This is one of my favorite vacation pictures. Look closely. What do you see?

Clouds.  -- fact.

Evergreen trees. – fact.

Beautiful blue skies. – fact.

Stones. – fact.

Stair steps. – fact.

At first glance, it appears that you are looking upward at the sky through the trees. Right?

Wrong. Look again.

Wait a minute. I clearly see clouds and blue skies, and I know that clouds and sky are above trees, so… I have to be looking upward at the sky.


Oh. I see. The stair steps are going downward, right? So that means I’m standing somewhere really, really, really high up because I’m looking DOWN on the blue skies and clouds -- which everyone knows are above the trees. It has to be … Right?

Wrong again. It’s a FACT that the picture above shows trees, clouds, blue skies, stair steps, and stones. Facts are facts.

But facts are not the TRUTH.

That’s an amazing and life-changing principle I learned from my pastor several years ago. The truth of what I’m looking at in the picture is this:

I was standing at the top of a set of descending stone stairs on the edge of Crater Lake looking DOWN through the evergreens at the reflection of the clouds in the crystal clear, perfectly still waters below me.

You see… facts are tricky. They are merely pieces of data recorded to capture information. Facts only tell us part of the whole. Facts can be twisted to distort or to embellish reality. Let’s say a police officer records a statement given by a witness at the scene of a crime. That statement is fact, but the fact is merely a record of what a specific person said… it doesn’t mean that what they said is a true account of what actually happened. Get my drift here?

How we interpret and handle facts makes a tremendous impact on what we believe to be true.
When Joshua and the children of Israel entered the promised land, their fame in conquering Jericho and Ai spread throughout the land and struck fear in the hearts of the inhabitants. The nearby Gibeonites realized they were in the path of destruction and concocted a clever scheme. Dressed in old, tattered clothes and with their donkeys loaded down with old sacks and cracked, mended wine skins they approached Joshua offering themselves as servants in exchange for a peace treaty. As they told a tale of a long journey from a distant land, they pointed to their moldy dry bread and the condition of their appearance as factual proof that their story was true. Joshua and his men examined the facts carefully – even sampling their provisions – and they totally swallowed the lie.

Unfortunately, the facts – as convincing as they were – supported the deception, not the reality. In trying to decipher the information presented to them, Joshua and his men missed the most important step of all:

They failed to ask the Lord about it.

So, the next time the facts leave your head spinning in fear and confusion… STOP. Look again. And ask God to show you the TRUTH so you can see things the way they really are instead of merely how they seem.


March 9, 2012

The Drop Off

Our bus slowed and turned off the main road to begin the twenty minute drive into the jungle. The day before I helped assemble school supply packets for the children while the men on our construction team continued work on the second story expansion project at Hospital Shalom.

Standing in small groups outside the three single-room buildings, the children and mamas watched as we approached. Some giggled at these weirdly dressed strangers stepping down from the big yellow bus. Little ones hid behind safe skirts, while older children approached uninhibited, jostling to see what we had in those great big boxes and large black bags.
Classroom - Peten, Guatemala
While team leaders sorted and counted for the distribution, the rest of us engaged curious children and parents as best we could. A few snaps and I turned my camera so they could see the screen. Whether adults or children, the response was always the same: --GASP! followed by giggles as they chattered to each other and pointed out details in the image.

The women shook their heads “no” and hid their faces at first… but not their smiles. I knew the ladies were just as interested in the camera as the children, but they guarded their intrigue with that typical adult restraint we’re all plagued with. After a little coaxing they let me take their pictures, too. Still, as they viewed their results they waved off the image as if to say they didn’t like what they saw.  But their smiles said otherwise.

In the classrooms, barefoot and sandal-clad children waited expectantly while the team distributed the treasures.  The older boys tried to maintain their “cool” but couldn’t disguise their excitement altogether -- especially when they received “The Amazing Gospel” comic book.

Older children await school supplies, Peten

The younger children looked over the contents of the package together and talked among themselves
… grinning,

…touching the clear plastic carefully,

… stalling to open the bags as if to make the fun last.

EL Village outreach 203

Teachers are difficult to secure which results in children placed on long waiting lists for the opportunity to receive education. The children currently attending classes struggle to grasp the material.

 I could hear the compassion in their voices as hospital co-founder Doris Spurrier talked with other missionary and medical staff members in our group. 

They quickly ran down a check-list as they formulated a plan to address potential factors contributing to these learning difficulties. 
    • a follow-up trip to assess nutritional needs and general health care
    • a vitamin supplement program
    •  medicines for other common health issues 

And so it went, this heart response beating with the rhythm of their words.

As we headed for the bus, some of the village women walked with us and gathered nearby under a gnarled tree in the neglected church yard. Just behind them stood a cross… silent… as if unseen… beckoning... patient... totally ignored.

Women in the church yard at EL

The bus fired up, and we prepared to roll out when our leader suddenly boarded and asked us to wait... to stop and pray. The ladies under the tree looked up when the bus shut off again, and for the next few minutes the fervency of our corporate intercession for the people of this community echoed unanimously as God dropped His thoughts and His desires for them into our hearts.

Here we thought we were the ones making a drop-off in the village, and all the while God had a very different drop-off in mind.


What has God dropped in your heart lately?

March 5, 2012

The Symphony of the Streets

The streets explode with the texture of sound, motion, color and the aromas of everyday life. Everywhere I look, progressiveness pushes and crowds to find its place amidst the methods and modes that characterize decades of life lived. With positive changes come the certainty of challenges played out in the struggle between the way of life that once was and that which seeks to be.

The Petén Region of Guatemala has seen a tremendous growth in infrastructure, and an influx of population as more and more rural dwellers move into or closer to the larger cities. Housing is crowded. Streets are chaotic. Highways are hazardous to pedestrians and motorists alike. Yet Life plays on through the skillful hands of the Master Orchestrator.

As change continues to advance, I wonder what impact it will have on the melody of life here? What expressive cultural themes will we hear repeated throughout the composition, and what new phrases will be introduced with the changing rhythm, tempo and key? Only God, our Ultimate Creator/Composer knows the sound of the finished masterpiece, but it is clear that it will sound different than it does today.

Music is alive like that ... fluid, flowing adjusting and changing... just like life itself.

Below is a little composition of photos I took to give you a sampling of the sounds of life played out each day on the roadways between our hotel and Hospital Shalom, or to other villages where our team worked and ministered while there. I don’t know what you will see ... or hear... when you look at these images, but I saw the inviting beauty of the deeply relational lifestyle that graces the Guatemalan culture, and I heard the resounding rhythm of the heart of The Composer everywhere I looked.

Pause your cursor over each photo for added descriptions and a few fun guessing games. Post your answers in the comments section.
Going to work? Or coming home?How much does it take to take a took-took?
Little on waiting in the family car.
Along the streets of San Benito, Guatemala
Where yummy happens! - San Benito
Busy streets - Santa Elena/San Benito Guatemala
Chicken is done. What is she making now?
The family business - fresh pineapple vendor - Guatemala
Midday -- can you find the sneaky siesta taker?
Un perro. Dos caballos. Can you guess?
Life spilling over.

God is at work in the hearts and lives of the people of Guatemala. Please pray that God would release the floodgates of His love and His Spirit on this nation. Pray that hearts would be open and ready to receive Him, and that avenues would be opened to reach into areas where entire villages remain secluded in self-protection and fear.


Post your guesses to the picture-guessing-game questions in the comments below. What questions, you ask?  Hover your cursor over the pictures to see the statements or quiz questions. 
Have fun!

March 1, 2012

A Sunny Day … from Brazil, with a great hug!

Upon arrival home from our Guatemala missions trip, a letter awaited me from the little guy in Brazil that we sponsor through Compassion International. He sent me a ‘sunny day’ on the back of his letter, and this drawing sports his growing interest in cars along with his signature ‘intense sun’ and blue cloud.

My first guess on the vehicle is a stretch limo by the number of little penciled in bodies I detect in the interior. Then again, he may be trying to convey all the perspectives of a pick-up truck loaded down with  multiple passengers travelling together to the nearest town. Or, maybe it's a bus… of sorts? What do you think?

The best part of his brief note said that at the Compassion child development center he recently learned 1 Corinthians 3:16, and as a result he understands that …
“…we have to have Jesus forever in our hearts, and we have to let Him come in and live so that we are temples for Him… and it was really cool.”  ~Jonathan, age 7

J-drawing 2-15-12

Being a Compassion sponsor has been one of the most wonderful journeys for me. Sponsorship opened a door to the nations that allows me to regularly sow seeds of the gospel through the letters I write to our sponsored boys and girls. In each letter I have the opportunity to share bits of my life and to tell them what God has done for me. I especially love to share a bible verse or topic that reminds them how much God loves them and how special they are to His heart.

It’s so simple to provide this unique form of discipleship and encouragement that reaches around the globe, from here all the way to a very specific child in a unique household that lives in a certain village in a distant country. God does the work and multiplies the impact. I just have to be obedient to accept the invitation He offers me to join Him in the process.

What about you?  Have you ever desired to make a difference… to GO to the nations with the good news about Jesus… to be part of what God is doing outside your own backyard?

If you haven’t done anything about that desire yet, Compassion sponsorship is one of the easiest ways to be directly involved in reaching the world for Jesus Christ.

Do something  -- right now.

Click here to find out more about Compassion International’s Christian holistic child development approach to release children from poverty in Jesus name. Get started on your own personal journey to fulfill the Great Commission.

Happy travels!


February 25, 2012

The Home Visit

This is home . . .

Rains had moved in, the roads were wet and the grounds muddy as my teammate Steve and I set out with missionaries Mary Jo and Dick Crandall on a 30 mile journey to follow-up on a recent patient of Hospital Shalom. We were going to visit a young thirteen-year-old girl that Mary Jo said carried a rare grace like that of a princess. I couldn't wait to meet her and her family.

I wondered why we were travelling a mere 30 miles for a home visit -- that is until I experienced the conditions of the rural Petén highways from the back seat of our borrowed “low-rider.” The highways boasted gargantuan, crater sized pot-holes and random speed bumps that threatened to sheer the undersides of the car away and leave my feet dangling above the pavement. Just because it's paved doesn't mean it's smooth.

All was quiet when we finally rattled up in front of her palace an hour later. The rain-soaked yard boasted  mud, ducks, chickens and pools of stagnant water. Four young boys just returning from school scrambled out of the brush along the roadway and ran toward our car. Dick and Mary Jo recognized them from a previous visit, and we soon discovered that The Princess was not at home.

Four princes of the palace with Steve

She was at the hospital (!) which meant the family had spent scarce resources to travel into the city…one of the very situations we had meant to prevent by coming to the house for the follow-up in the first place.

Home visits for patients in the Petén Jungle region of northern Guatemala provide several benefits:
  1. It is very difficult – if not impossible – for many rural families to make a trip for follow-up visits because transportation either does not exist, is very difficult to arrange, or the distance and time required for travel are excessively burdensome. Many patients live hours away.

  2. Home visits allow workers to assess living conditions which may provide greater insight on the patient’s and the family’s overall health care, physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs.

  3. Home visits give hospital missionaries an opportunity to continue contact with the family and the community in order to build relationships and to share the love of Jesus.
While Dick and Mary Jo talked with the boys I pulled “The Amazing Gospel” comic books, crayons and some coloring books from my back-pack. One of the boys spied the enticing graphics on the cover and we quickly became their new best friends in town.

Gospel comic books -  un regalo (a gift)

Their faces exploded in smiles so huge it made my own cheeks hurt, and they repeatedly held the comics up so we could take pictures of them with their new books. Mary Jo asked one of the boys to read for her, and he flipped open the pages and read in unfaltering Spanish a portion of the greatest story he'll ever read! 

Guatemala 2012 284

The children in this village speak both Q’ueche and Spanish, but we learned that while speaking Spanish is common… READING Spanish at this age is a remarkable breakthrough. We were thrilled to hear this – not only for the potential economic advantage it affords them in the future – but just to know that they held in their hands the very words that would tell them about JESUS, about FORGIVENESS of sins, LIFE and HOPE in a format they cherished and could read on their own! Talk about amazing...


Before we left, they asked if their friends down the block could have comic books, too, so we sent them off with the few extra copies we had. The sight of them running off, calling out to their friends, so excited to share this wonderful book is forever imprinted in my mind.

Guatemala 2012 270

The home visit certainly didn’t turn out as we had planned. After all, we make our plans, but God directs our steps, and these four boys walked right across our foot path. Who knows? Maybe you’re looking at four future evangelists and powerful church leaders for the nation of Guatemala. Rise up, you mighty men!

Let it be, Lord.


Who can you share the good news of Jesus with today?

Note: “The Amazing Gospel” comic books are available from Gospel Tract Society. Contact them to order copies in Spanish & English or to check for availability in other languages.

February 10, 2012

Not quite home: the re-entry challenge

My internal thermometer seems broken after our brief stay in the humid biosphere of northern Guatemala. Here in Missouri (USA) the furnace roars and a chill slowly creeps into my aching joints. Time to grab another cup of coffee, not because I need a caffeine hit but because I cherish the opportunity to cling to its warmth.
Just last Saturday I awoke in the clammy, heat-blanketed rainforest to the cascading call of roosters competitively crowing up and down the shores of Lake Petén-Itza. The thunder of motorcycles and scooters -- zipping past bony, untethered horses grazing at whatever patch of green they found along the roadside -- was a welcomed excuse to crawl out from between sticky sheets and into my damp clothes.
The metal grates of local shops clanked and screeched as they opened for the start of business in this small town located on the way to somewhere else. Children laughing. A baby crying. Another round of crowing.
Wood smoke from a nearby outdoor cook fire drifted through the cabana screen, and my stomach responded with a hungry growl. Time for some bananas, scrambled eggs, black bean puree, toasted bread and that delectable grainy soft cheese --homemade by the farmer just down the road.

Guatemala 2012
Neighboring homesGuatemala 161

rural Guatemala

That was then.

Today I am home, but my thoughts and my heart haven’t quite arrived. The faces … the physical and spiritual needs of the people I met override the mental images of the construction projects yet to be done at the site where we worked.

Re-entry into the daily routine of “home” is an uncomfortable little time warp that still challenges me even after multiple short-term mission trips. I admit it’s my least favorite part of going… having to fully return.

Maybe that’s because it’s not what God has in mind. How can we “fully return” when there is so much God has for us wherever we gowherever we are?

What good is it to go and to see and to do… if I fail to return changed and empowered with new vision and determination to engage more fully in God’s invitation to join Him in what He is doing … everyday… all the time… whether here or there?

Curious eyes

Ahhhh…. the challenge. Getting back to normal.

Lord, I pray that never really happens.


Tips for re-entry adjustment after a short-term mission trip.

Debrief. Journal any remaining thoughts about your trip.
  • What did God speak to you? What action steps is He indicating? How will you respond?
  • If you’re not into journaling, then think about the most significant moment of the trip and how God spoke to you through it.
  • Summarize your thoughts so you are ready to concisely share the experiences with others in a way that helps them catch the vision of God’s heart for the area you visited.
Prayer. Word. Worship. Fellowship. Right after an outreach or ministry involvement you are even more spiritually vulnerable than before. Give time to your spiritual relationship with God, and don’t let the days slip by without investing yourself in prayer, bible reading, and getting lost in worship.

Expect a let down. You’ve been in high gear with a cram-packed schedule. Whether it’s your first trip or your fifty-hundredth veteran outreach, you’re not exempt from the natural let down that occurs from a sudden change in pace and purpose.
  • Guard against disappointment, discouragement and doubt
  • by expecting this physical, spiritual and emotional dip.
  • Counter the dive with … Prayer. Word. Worship … and a healthy dose of rest.
  • Talk with your prayer partners if you are struggling with the slump.
Health. Diet. Rest. Activity. These areas are surprisingly overlooked on re-entry but definitely have a bearing on the degree of post-trip let-down you may experience.
  • Avoid the temptation to dive into heavy meals and fast food especially if your diet abroad was considerably different. That McD triple stack can really H-A-U-N-T you... just sayin'...
  • Remain active.  If possible, schedule activities of a similar physical challenge to what you were doing on the field. 
  • Defeat exhaustion with rest.

What tips can you share to help with re-entry adjustments after a short-term mission trip?

February 4, 2012

Homeward bound…

The trip is done. This morning we boarded the plane and are currently en route to the home front. Whew! Filled with more than words can express at the moment, I know it will take a few days to process all that we have seen, all that we have felt in our hearts, all the aches and sore muscles and good challenges that come from a trip of this nature.

We look forward to coming home, but a part of our hearts is still there in Guatemala with the friends we made at Hospital Shalom, with memories of those we met and had opportunity to minister to in the villages and markets, and with new brothers and sisters we discovered along the way. I can’t wait to tell you more.
“God, what are you doing? Show me your heart for the people of Guatemala… for the people in my own neighborhood. Thank you for showing Your great mercy and grace to us, and lavishing your love on all who look to You, on all who seek Your face and desire to know You.
Wonderful, amazing God.”

Struggling with their faith...
787805_preparing_a_fire_Qeqchi girls_boletin
Ambulance at Hospital Shalom

Photo credits 1-3: Heriberto Herrera
Photo credit 4: New Covenant World Missions


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