Saturday, December 24, 2011

the LOVE

She was crying, and I was there. I opened my arms to her, but she didn't come. I went to her, picked her up, turned her around and sat her in my lap. I rocked her back and forth while I sang to her softly. The Love...the LOVE. Ohh...it was deep.

My heart was saying,

"I know...I know, child. I see you. You're a mess. You're a mess and you'll be a mess for a while. You've been wounded. But listen...do you hear it? Oh, child, you can rest in my arms. Love is here. I know you are afraid, but child, listen to me sing to you. Find comfort in the rhythm of love that is swaying you back and forth. Into your brokenness I AM COMING with all of my love because this love alters brokenness into wholeness. Sit here in this embrace, BEHOLD the love that surrounds you now, and just listen while I sing over you. Listen...rest...and stay. You cry now, but you will sing. Your legs are frail now, but they will dance. Come. Come and receive this living, healing water. The One who gives does not hold back. He too knows brokenness, because He was broken for us. Be still and hear that love swirling all around you. It is never not here."

"No dark can consume light; no death greater than this life. We are not forgotten. Hope is found when we say: I believe in sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. I believe, I believe..."

Friday, December 2, 2011

But if we love...

*Pictures will be added soon.

She's as gorgeous as gorgeous comes with her almond eyes and glowing smile. You would never know the suffering she has endured or how persistent sickness has been throughout her short life.

Her mother: murdered.
Her father: left.
Her extended family: abandoned her because she is a girl.
Before she was one: she lived on the streets of a slum.
Sickness: parasites in her brain resulting in seizures as contracted through the slum water she drank.

Her name: "Light."

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

It's true. It's really, really true.

There are forces that do not want that child alive. But greater forces, namely, Jesus, have another idea in mind.

He is Healer, and He is healing her.
He is Abba, and He has adopted her.
He is love, and He loves her.
He is Emmanuel, and He is with her.

When I think of her, two words come to mind:

Sloppy. Love.

When the younger children cry, she runs toward the crying. Even if they are in another part of the house. I don't know any other 5-year-olds like that.

When she comes up to me, she leans on me in such a way that if I move, she will lose her balance and fall. She leans all of herself on me, and on anyone who will let her. It's one of the many ways she exchanges love.

When I am not expecting it, she will say, "Auntie, I am liking you so much," or, "Auntie, I am thanking for you so much."

Note: Her words to me say far more about her than about me.

One day, she followed me up to the roof, took my hand in hers and said so maturely, "Auntie, thank you for your help to me." In disbelief and choked back tears I said to her, "Jyoti, how am I helping you?"


"You are giving work."

She understands that my being there is meant as love for her. She gets it...that check cleared.

Another interaction with her is always at the forefront of my memory. It was early morning, and we were just sitting together. She was sitting -- leaning back -- in my lap as I swayed her back and forth to the rhythm that Love was beating in me.

Later that day that memory was rewritten in my mind. Instead of seeing me holding her, I saw Jesus holding me as I leaned into His love and shared it with the one in my arms.

When I held her, He held me. I held her because He holds me. I held her as if I were holding Him -- loving her as I love Him, because He loves me and has given me the Spirit who readily loves.

From Him and to Him and through Him are all things.

From Him: "We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

To Him: "Whatever you do to the least of these brothers of Mine, you do to Me." Matthew 25:40

Through Him: "We have come to know and rely on [believe] the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." 1 John 4:16

"No one has seen God at any time. But if we love one another, God's love abides in us, and is perfected in us."
1 John 4:12

It looked like Jesus loving Jesus through Jesus. And it was beautiful.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Masters

They wander around looking for someone to beg. They've studied people; they easily judge who has the most wealth and they make a beeline for those with light skin. Persistence. Their entire life involves looking as pitiful as possible -- whether by their choice or someone else's. Sometimes their fingers, arms or legs are cut off to provoke more pity, and hopefully money, from people.

When I see them I am filled with rage. Holy rage. Not at them, but at their master. Not a human, but a spirit of poverty. Slavery. I rage against the thing that has so many convinced that they have to beg just right or look desperate enough to get attention from people.

But sometimes, I think just like them.

And that thing, that dark master is found all over the world. I have seen it in India. I have seen it in the States -- in churches. I have seen it in the Middle East, in Africa, in Europe, and in Mexico. And though it is very visible here, it is much deeper than that and goes far beyond a haggard and beautiful hand reaching out for a coin. But they need something they didn't know they could ask for. And did I mention that some people don't even have hands to beg with?

What master is this? It is the master that says, "You're unwanted. Get out of here. You're a burden. No one really loves you. There's not enough room for you. Don't even bother speaking, because no one will want to listen. You're hideous. You're not worth showing yourself to anyone. No one would even enjoy the real you. Stop dreaming and stop your hoping for love. It's preposterous."

I am appalled by how common it is for people to form their lives and beliefs around these things.

But grace is in the business of undoing...so consider me undone. And there is more.

The master of grace, who is full of truth, says this, "You are always welcome and always wanted. Be at home. You don't have to beg; just receive. You are worth enough to be seen and being seen does not deter love from you. Rest. You don't have to work for what can't be earned. Everything is paid for; just enjoy."

I have never been more aware of His grace than I have been the past few months. It's not because it wasn't there before, but because He made me aware of it...and it's honestly changed everything. It's not rarely given; only rarely received. And even being able to receive it is a gift. So it's all-around marvelous and baffling because Jesus chose to bring Himself glory by bringing us joy at a greusome cost that He absolutely did not have to go through...and now we desire what He desires because He changed us so that He could share His joy with us even though we all might as well have been the ones who drove the nails into his hands.

It's just good news, people.

It's the thing that changed everything for me.

In the words of a friend of mine, "Let us trust in Him, because when we trust Him we receive His love and when we receive His love then we can rest. Know that He wants us to rest in Him."

I hesitate to post this as-is because there is so much more.

To be continued,
A heart captured by grace

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Royalty


My Saniya,

You remind me of a queen. Beauty flows from you as Light adorns you. Love fills your heart and overflows. You are such a treasure. Whatever joy is in the air is multiplied when you are around.

You are an old soul. I love how obsessed you are with Jesus. When so many other six year olds fall falsely in love with celebrities and fictional characters, you have made Jesus your hero. I still love to remember the day when you tied a cape around you in a super-hero-like manner and went around "healing" the boys who were playing dead with David Uncle. Laura Auntie asked if you were a doctor. But you said, "No! Jesus Christ!"

I savored every moment and cherish every memory with you -- just because you are who you are. I especially loved lying next to you on the middle bunk as you told me stories about Jesus when you were supposed to be sleeping instead. You understand things. You told me in excellent English -- which is your second or third language -- how He was beaten and killed because we do bad things. You demonstrated the evil one with two fingers and said, "This one...don't say his name, it's not good name..." Your face lit up and your voice changed when you said, "Auntie, after three days -- Jesus wake up-ing!" You kept interrupting yourself to say, "Auntie, this is such good story...beautiful, beautiful story."

I never knew whether to laugh with delight or cry tears of joy when I was around you. Something about you reaches to the deepest part of my heart and awakens it, frees it, to come out and play in the Light. You are beautiful in every way and you beautify the world around you just by existing.

And child, those eyes...they shine. You love. I have learned much from you and your freedom from self-concern. You are genuinely one of the funniest people I know: Saniya Kangaroo.


I love hiding behind the church room door with you -- or from you. I love that you let me hold you, spin you around, and hang you upside down by your ankles while you shower the room with laughter. It amazes me how you love me -- which says far more about you than me.

I will never forget the day during lunch when I asked what you want to do when you become older. "Nurse? Teacher?" I asked. "Mother," you replied. And it made my heart sing.

My prayers for you are often and my thoughts of you are sweet. May nothing hinder you from telling everyone about your Hero. May shame or fear never come upon you. Live joyfully as His precious daugher, knowing that you are always welcome and always wanted in His presence, which is always with you. Thank you for being a beautiful example of living fully in freedom. You taught me well. I love you, my daughter.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sonship


My Shanu,

You are wonderful.

You stole my heart when I first saw you dance. I love that you dance so freely, yet subtly, for no one's entertainment but your own. I love your heart. It was evident today when Sonu grabbed the large piece of styrofoam from your hands and broke it into two pieces for his own benefit. Your face showed no sign of anger.

It was as if you had not been wronged.

And you were so humbly sweeping the dust in the kitchen. Most eight year old boys I know would complain about that. But not you.

I love being around you, sitting with you, calling your name and getting a dance in response. Your heart is beautiful. Simple. Loving. You are so playful but you are not naughty -- which is a rare thing to come by.

I am sitting in the church room with all the other children during study time. I keep stopping this letter to look up at you. You are such a handsome young man.

I especially love the way you eat -- with your head back and only your thumb and forefinger touching your food while the rest of your fingers curl loosely.

I love your voice. I can pick it out of a crowd of voices. Even your slight lisp is endearing and makes my heart happy. Your smile is like sunshine.


When I think about your future, I am filled with hope. I imagine you leading and caring for others, and it makes my heart swell with love and joy. You are precious. A gem. You are quiet, but you are noticed. By me, by Sir and Ma'am, and by our Love Jesus Christ.

I love how you pray for your father, who chose not to care for you and who continually threatens your sisters some nights in his drunkenness. "Pray for my dad; he needs a belt," will always sing grace to my ears.

May your life be filled with the love that has always surrounded you. Live freely, my son, and fear nothing. Rejoice, because Jesus defeated your worst enemy.

I could never forget you. I will miss being in your presence and I will pray for you every day. I love you with all my heart. Thank you for loving me too.

Love,
Chorta Auntie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frayed Fringes

It's been a while.


There is more to convey than I have words for. Since I am momentarily at a loss for words, I will copy some here from an email that I sent to my best friend a few days ago:

So much to write you about...so much that I don't know how to process or if I'm meant to.

Inhale.

Exhale.

First, I am so thankful for Jules. I love that Jesus put her and i together here. So many times she and i have wandered off or lagged behind just to sit and BE with the people who beg.

Whenever I feel like "just being" isn't good enough, I hear Him say, "I AM."

Today -- oh the things that happened today...I saw an old man with no shirt and massive bubbles of his own skin all over his body. I have never seen anything like it. Jules and I saw him yesterday and our world was rocked just to look into his eyes. We stopped, stooped down on the ground to be on his level (although we already were due to our humanity) and hold his hand and kiss his head and call him our friend and throw in Jesus' name. Today we came close to where he was sitting and she asked me to come with her to go sit with him again while the other three went on an ATM adventure.

We walked up to him and asked him his name again. (We did that yesterday too, i forgot to mention.) I really, really wish I could remember. It was three syllables and there was an M. He was so beautiful that you would have cried. Julia did. And you know how I am. Which means I didn't cry but would have if i were the crying kind.

We bent low and held his hands and just existed with him. Jules said a lot of words, and I said a few...most of what I said was just His name. I was so happy and filled with joy to be sitting with him.


Someone came up to us and said, "Ma'am, I want to tell you that this man has a skin disease that you will get if you touch him."

Julia's eyes were already full of tears -- not pitying the man on the ground, but LOVING him and BEING with him in his suffering and sitting with him and carrying buckets full of love to the places of abandon and shame and disgrace that have made their own claims on his life...and dumping those buckets on him in a mess of beauty and justice.

She spoke back to the man immediately with the same tears of love, "It is okay because my God is big and my God is Jesus Christ. It is already done; I have already touched him and I will not leave because he is my friend."

She then took the scarf from her neck and adorned him with it. We noticed then that a HUGE crowd had drawn and encircled us. I didn't look long enough to read the expressions on their faces. But i did hear mocking laughter. A sikh man came up to our friend and said things to him in a way that put a bad taste in my mouth. But i smiled at him too. And again i told the man on the ground that he is my friend.

A police man came with his big stick and started swatting it to disperse the crowd...but it grew. Laura, David and Sarah came and had to shove themselves through. We didn't hear until later how angry they were at the looks on people's faces who were watching us. I asked Him yesterday to only let me see what He wanted me to see...which is the same thing Rachel prayed when she was in Mumbai...and she didn't notice the men who stare all the time.

Which is HARD to miss. But Jesus. :)


Ohh Jesus...

Three years ago i remember believing that He is the God of the oppressed...but at the time it was hard for me to believe that He is also the God of the oppressor.

Something He did in me a while ago (I think it was the summer of '09) was show me His tenderness for those who oppress. Today He put words to it. Here are some of them:

"TRULY the oppressor oppresses for lack of trust in You. TRULY whatever isn't done in faith is sin. The one who steals does so because he does not trust Your loving provision. The one who lusts does so because he does not trust God to be his delight. The one who lies does so for the same reason the Israelites provoked You in the desert -- they did not trust the truth of Your love for them."

He is coupling that ^ with so much tenderness and compassion. And compassion is not a haze of pity that makes those who are wrong appear to be right. Compassion sees clearly but embraces anyway.

Jesus, yeah?


I have never spoken with so much momma bear syndrome as I did tonight. There was a boy with no shirt and no shoes, dirty as dirty comes and sporting a fresh wound on his left cheek. His eyes were not white anymore and there was a scar on his head where some gash was before. He was probably 12.

I saw desperation and thirst in his eyes.

The momma bear came out when i went to buy him food from a street vendor. I asked with a boldness so bold that it may have seemed harsh, but it was the, "You better listen to me because what I'm saying is important" kind of boldness. Authority. (I just realized that the word "author" is in authority.)

I said to the vendor, "Are you here every day?"

"Yes, yes madam."

"Do you see this boy every day?"

"Yes madam."

"You listen to me, bhaiya (brother) -- you take this money and you feed this boy tomorrow when you see him. Tk?" (tk = ok in Hindi.)

I gave him double the cost of the food i bought for the boy. I pray he actually feeds him tomorrow. Trust is really all i've got there...trust for God's goodness to override man's corruption.

It's just 200 rupees. And he's hungry.


Jules and I were approached by a family with no father and they asked us to buy them rice. We did. We just didn't realize that rice was going to cost $45 USD. They bought so much. The thoughts I hate but don't know how to ignore were swarming in my head:

"Do they have a pimp? Is he going to beat them for this? Will he let them eat it? Are they taking advantage of us? What's wrong with that anyway? Who will feed them tomorrow? Why didn't I go to the ATM this morning? What's that smell?"

But He hushed me with His soothing voice and said, "Do it in love, Brittany, only do it in love." Love makes it worth it. It simplifies everything. Doing it in love, doing it for the moment -- but not the eternal-less moment. The "I AM" is Love. He IS Love. Is...present tense. Present love. Presence. of love. Ah.

And then there was the 15-year-old beauty whose face was marred by fire seven years ago when her house burnt down and she lost everything -- including her parents. Her name is Pooja, which means "worship."

She asked if Julia and i are sisters and then she said, "I think you are sisters because you have the same look in both of your eyes and it is very beautiful."



Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Dream and Its Fruit

I had a dream that on my wall was a living mural -- moving images of mighty hands holding back the waters of the Jordan, a shepherd boy becoming a king, a pregnant virgin, tongues of fire, and multitudes of souls hailing the worthy Lamb.

Etched across the scene were four words:

"Do you doubt Me?"

Ravenous

There is a major difference between the children who have been satisfied by His love and those who haven't.

The ones who have are content, and love flows from them.

The ones who haven't are ravenous, and they devour one another for the slightest bit of loving attention.

One example of this happened yesterday at a leper colony in a busy section of Delhi.

I walked in with four of my friends and was swooned away by three or four girls to the very back of the colony. Christ in me was shining and I knew it.

I would be foolish to not say that the only reason they run to me as they do is because of Christ in me. Didn't He say to let the children come? And come they do! I refuse to believe that it is because I have light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, or because I "have a way" with kids...which is always relatively determined. It's just Jesus. They see something in Him that makes them come running. They know they are safe with Him.

I also would like to mention that the children here -- especially the begging ones -- are often yelled at and considered a nuisance to society. I imagine that it may have been the same when He told His disciples to just let them come.

Anyway -- there I was, in the middle of bustling Delhi at the back of a leper colony. Men worked the dusty ground behind us. A train passed not many yards away. The highway nearby was easily seen and very easily heard. The sun shone from the Brittany-blue sky and puffy white clouds made my heart happy. I was the only white person in sight, and I really loved that. What I didn't love was how the girls (the number had grown to 7 at this point) hit each other with all their might and pushed each other out of the way to have my full attention.

Their hearts are ravenous for love. They want what I have. I want them to have what I have. So much. It would change everything for them.

They wanted to dance. I showed them some dances and they returned the favor. I ballroom danced with some of them, spinning them around and enjoying the sight of their smile.

One of the girls kept stopping to hold her temples. Her face was etched with pain. I got eye-level with her and prayed for her on my knees while the world zoomed around us and the wind blew our hair. I prayed for her heart to be filled with His love. I prayed in Jesus' name for her pain to cease.

And I prayed for them to slap me instead of each other, just so I could kiss them back. Such love He has shown me.

It didn't happen, but I kissed them anyway.

We spun around -- the kind of spinning where you are facing each other, all four hands locked into a grip that is trusted to keep one or the other from flinging out of the force that intensifies as the spinning gets faster. (I love doing that.)

They made my chunni into a small sari and pulled me ruthlessly in all directions, sometimes simultaneously. They taught me Hindi phrases and I still have no idea what I repeated back to them. I smiled deep into them all and kissed their hands after they used them to hit each other. I prayed and prayed and prayed as I let them take me where they would, and I never knew which way to choose when I was being pulled in two or three different directions. I just wanted them.

I put one girl's hair up with the elastic band on my wrist. I imagined her being adorned with His righteousness and told her in Hindi that she is so beautiful.

There was a woman with leprosy sitting on a ledge nearby. I greeter her and held her hand for a while, smiling into her soul with His love and power. I kissed her head and hands and just sat in silence with her while the girls had stopped tugging on me. When they began again, I kissed her again, and let them lead me wherever they wished.

I was beaming with a smile the whole time. Just resting. Just being. Just letting Him love me and love them. Enjoying His restorative, gracious Self.

I adore Jesus so much. I saw Him in their eyes, staring back at me.

There is nothing like that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Favorite Part of my Favorite Story


Matthew 27:66-28:20

Men conspired against Him even when His body was in the grave.

The Pharisees were still fearing Him. They doubted His power and had strong men make the stone on His tomb as secure as they knew how. Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene watched the sealing of His grave, mourning and treasuring Him in their broken hearts.

A few days later, they came again to look at His grave, much the way we do to this day. But the earth shook that day, and an angel descended from heaven without any earthly disguise. The angel rolled away the "securely placed" stone and sat on it. Sitting...because it was finished. Sitting on the object that man used to try to keep Him in the grave.

But heaven came down and made earth's strongest barriers as nothing. He SAT on the stone, shaming the enemy as if to say, "In your face!" The enemy's strongest weapon had just been snapped in half.

The guards of the tomb fainted from fear. But the angel that so terrified the guards told the women not to fear. He then proceeded to tell them that he knew their heart's intention: To see Jesus' body.

They were about to see it. They just had no idea that they would see His body upright and fully alive, walking and talking and breathing again.


I want to get inside their hearts for a minute. I wonder if they doubted what Jesus said. I wonder if they clung to hope or submitted to despair. I wonder if they were trying to find a way to live like they did before Jesus came into their lives. I wonder if they slept or ate much.

I wonder if they believed that evil had won.

And there they were -- with their eyes wide with shock and their faces probably still stained with tears -- standing in full view of an angel who was telling them that the Man they love so much had risen from the dead and was about to SEE them.

Mary had experienced angels before. She knows they do not lie. One came to her when she became pregnant with the Messiah. How great of a song she must have sung upon hearing the news of His living after being a witness of His dying!

And so they ran -- with their hearts leaking with fear and joy, trembling and exulting with every breath. When they were on their way to tell His disciples what they had heard with their ears, Jesus met them along the way and let them see Him with their eyes. And then they grabbed hold of His tangible feet with their tangible hands and worshiped the Man who was so dear to them. And what did He say?

After greeting them (literally saying, "Hello"), He said, "Do not be afraid."

He spoke straight to the fear that had fueled their dread for the days that His body lie limp in the grave.

His following words were so perfectly timed. He told them where and who to go to. He told them to tell His brothers that they would get to see Him too. Do you see the tender love and hope in that?


Something very interesting: While all of this was happening, the chief priests lied about what happened to Him. They came up with a story about how the disciples were to blame for the empty tomb. Why? They wanted to save themselves from punishment. But they didn't realize the punishment that His death and resurrection had just paid for.

EVEN THOUGH these lies were spreading, Jesus didn't send His people to them to straighten things out. Instead He gathered them on a mountain in Galilee. When He was seen, He was worshiped. Simply. To the ones who doubted the incredulousness of it all, He said that He had all authority in heaven and on earth. It was really Him. He was really God. He really did just walk out of that tomb.

And then He told them to go -- because of His all-surpassing power and authority. He promised the very thing every flock would want to hear: He said He would be with them always. Any fear of lacking direction from there on out was alleviated when He spoke. He promised to lead them.

Something beautiful: He told them to go to every nation. That was the mystery revealed. Every nation could be grafted in. No more foreigners or slaves. Only sons and daughters and heirs of every good thing God had ever promised.

"By revelation there was made known to me the mystery...revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
Ephesians 3:3-6

"When the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. The peoples will take them along and bring them to teir place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the Lord as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors."
Isaiah 14:1-2

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There is, there are.


There is a moment that happens when the begging ones put away their tin cups and receive.

There is a before-and-after that trademarks the life of a weathered widow who no longer hides her face in her shawl before four foreign women who long to give her some of the Bread they have been feasting on.

There is a relief that happens when the accused woman is told that she is welcome and wanted at the table with the feast. There is disbelief when she hears that it was prepared just for her.


There is healing in the heart of the precious one who could never repay the abundance that has been -- and will be -- lavished on her.

There are tears that fall from the faces of the broken and healed alike. There is an exchange of brokenness and healing as the whole one weeps for the downtrodden and the broken breathes the fresh air of restoration.

There is a miracle that takes place every time a begging one walks away without what she was searching for, but is visibly transformed by an invisible satisfaction.

There is nothing in this world that could compare to the mystery of this radical, passionate love expressed to me through death so that I might know Eternal Life -- He Himself, Who was, Who is, and Who will be my Love. Forever.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Heart, Happy Feet

It's been a whale of a week.

My tendency to dance, jump, prance around, and do handstands against the wall have been increasing lately. My heart has been so full of worship and awe and I can't contain the joy that He lets me in on by letting know Him. And more than that, He has been letting me in on the things He is doing around me and I don't even know what to do with myself anymore. He is wholly worthy and so much praise is due Him for His constant goodness and graciousness to us.

This, written intentionally out of order, is the week that I have had:



A few days ago, an anonymous donor gave me $1,000. Whoever you are, you are an answer to prayer.

The other night we received word that $4,309 was donated for a slum church that Sarah (one of the women I am Living with here) has been raising since the beginning of this year. And how much did we need? $4,300. Slam. Dunk. Jesus.

Right?!

There are hopes and plans (Inshallah) for a building in the slums to be completed while we are here. The believers don't really have a meeting place anymore and there has been a lot more trouble than usual for the Christians there. More than we want there to be a building, we want there to be a revival. Not a revival of emotions or commitments that fall on rocky soil but a revival that calls the dead out of their graves, being set ablaze with abundant life for the union of His glory and their/our joy. So be it.

Deep breath...

Thursday we visited friends at a leper colony with whom we spent time in back in the fall of '09. We were embraced with joy and orange soda as we sat with some of the most childlike people I have met. They remind me of true royalty. I see Jesus in them...right in front of me.



Tuesday we visited friends at another leper colony. I was amazed -- the kind that caused my jaw to hang low -- when I saw that they remembered me. And more than that, my closest friend there brought me a picture of her and myself that was taken almost two years ago. It was in a small photo album that had her family photos, wedding photos, and photos of a few white people -- including me. It was strangely humbling to hear that she has prayed for me every day...and to hear that she has been asking God to bring me back to see her "once more." My favorite part, though, was when I asked her if her husband was still Hindu. She smiled and said, "No, he is Christian now. My whole family is Christian now!"

Later that day we encountered begging girls who approached us for chipati and money, neither of which we had to give them. We wanted to give them ourselves; we wanted to give them Jesus. So we did. We held their hands and walked around with them and clothed their naked feet with new shoes. We taught them silly songs and watched Kingdom come as He transformed their begging into laughing and satisfied them in such a way that they did not ask us for anything more. I saw myself in them. I saw Jesus in them. To behold Him at all is to Live. I was made for that.



Sunday morning we returned to Asha House. My soul! My soul, my soul, my soul. We walked in that gate and five of the kids were standing in a line with garlands of marigolds in their hands. One by one they placed them on our necks. We had to bend low for them to reach us. Our first interaction with them this time was on our knees. That seems so fitting to me. Let the children COME!

I cried tears of joy to see them again. Each of them hugged each of us and said, quietly but with a smile, "Good morning, Auntie." Seeing their faces and hearing their voices and getting to reach out and touch them sent me overboard. So I just cried and laughed and hugged and praised the One Who let me experience such a beautiful homecoming. And there's more where that came from. He promised. :)

Yesterday the kids gave me a name. They picked a name for me: Small Auntie. Or, in Hindi, Chorta Auntie. I was hiding with one of them behind a door in the lunch/church/school room and the others saw and told on me...they kept referring to the space behind the door and saying, "Small Auntie...Chorta Auntie..."

It is a beautiful thing to love and be loved.



There is so much more that has happened and is happening. I wanted to share the short version of it all. And also this, which has been fascinating me:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host...He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast...Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. for our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.

From Psalm 33


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Note to Self

I have to warn you. This will be one of those blogs where I don't have any idea what I'm going to say until it is typed. I'm interested to see what will come out.

Each day is a season in itself over here. The past day alone has been so memorable. Leper colonies. Old friends. Death. Life. Tears of sorrow and joy. Power outages that bring us closer together. Watching Him teach children how to add and read. Dancing. Sweating. Laughing. Laughing. Laughing. Washing dishes with all my heart. Doing laundry outside around chickens. Marveling at the blue sky over this city when I thought there was a permanent haze of pollution. Carrying a full heart within my chest. Full beyond my capacity. Surely I have a delightful inheritance. Surely it is Christ ALONE.

2:50 AM. I got sidetracked. But it was a glorious sidetracking. I'll leave you with this note to self that I quickly wrote earlier today in the taxi to Asha:

"Note to self:

Don't use that which God intended for your increased worship of Him as an object of worship or hoarding or an excuse to not follow Him in a direction that seems AWAY from that which He so clearly caused you to desire. It's all an important part of the same journey. Hold desire with an open hand and entrust it to the One who so graciously gave it to you, that He might show you and the world around you more of His incredible heart.

A place of surrender...

Do not be afraid to follow Him North when what you desire is South. Because if you go far enough North, it will eventually take you South. But even if it doesn't...

He's STILL going to give you the desires of your heart. He promised! He made you a promise and He doesn't go back on those.

See the mystery revealed: Delighting in Him IS the desire of your heart. He is mighty, jealous and gracious about this. He pursues like a lion and embraces like a lamb.

You just can't lose. His victory is that you can't lose. You're going to love what happens no matter what. I am sure of it. Your joy will overflow NOW if you rest in this certainty before these glories can be seen. Luke 1:45!

Be loved. Love. Be. Jesus is all around and richly within you. Is there really any difference between loving Him and loving those around you? I think not. Selah."

Jesus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Letting Him Love Me


Everyone calls him Papa. To tell you the truth, I actually don't know his first name.

He has been blind for ten years due to a cataract surgery that didn't go according to plan. But Who is sovereign? He spends his days in rest. Watching his wife take care of him is like getting to see the wind blow back a veil that covers an ancient treasure. I hope, if God desires for me to be a wife, that I will serve my husband as joyfully and sacrificially as she serves him.

I was blessed to spend five days around him. Every day we would sit and be. Just be. I liked to hold Papa's hand and he liked to get a feel for the size of my fingers, wrists and arms. He seemed to love my thumbnails, and his hands functioned as his eyes to discover what my hair is like.

As of now, there are very few people in the world who, when I sit around them, make me feel like I am sitting around Jesus in the flesh. Papa is one of those people, and I told him so. This was especially true the other night. Let me set the stage for you:

My heart was weary that night, having exited the honeymoon stage of this journey earlier that day. I felt pierced by the bumps in every road and the HEAT and the way every honk of a horn got under my skin. I couldn't stand the worship of nothing and the pride of the spiritually dead and the lust I see in the eyes of so many men here, whether or not I look at them directly. I was paralyzed by the fear of losing relationships that are precious to me because it happened last time I lived in this blessed country. The persistence of the ones who beg boiled me like a pressure cooker and cornered me into helplessness. The suppression of the beauty of these women made me want to scream. But most of all, I was terribly amazed at the massive darkness that so blinds and deceives these love-thirsty hearts into bowing down to something that doesn't even breathe.

And so I sat.

I sat on the ground next to Papa and reached up to take hold of his hand. He knew it was me. He rested my hand on his knee and held it with both of his hands. He felt every cuticle, just like he always does. He was getting a feel for the size of my small arms, again. He didn't know it then but he was comforting me. He kissed my hands more times than I could count and held my hand to his face, nearer to him.

I sat with him as I sit with Jesus: Sitting to sit and nothing more. Being. Getting loved. Healing, though I know not what from.

I was simply letting Him love me.

When no one was looking I kissed his feet. HIS feet. I could hear his (His!) soul sing a delighted sound as he immediately embraced me with a hug and rocked me back and forth in his arms. I remained on my knees on the ground. Covered. He kissed my head and hands incessantly, calling me his daughter, his doll. He said, "I am your Papa," with such delight in his voice and on his face.

All of the love that I've known to be real became visible and tangible to me in that moment. And now I see more: Jesus was kissing Papa's feet. Even more than that, I saw the love of the Father, Son and Spirit poured out from each to the other through us.

It was one of those times when I knew that "if" Jesus were sitting there in the flesh, He would have been doing the exact same thing. And so would I -- kissing His precious feet.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love With Skin On It


"Aren't you glad to know that Jesus loves you?"

"Yes, I'm glad to know that Jesus loves me, but sometimes I want to know love with skin on it."

This exchange happened between an American and an orphan in Kenya.

Love with skin on it. That child wasn't the first to think of that concept. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Love became flesh.


The past year and a half I have been living in a love that makes me -- mostly, yet not always entirely -- unafraid to lose. Recently, though, He has been nudging me into a realm that is not only unafraid to lose, but voluntarily sacrificial.


He knows this well. I will know Him there. I wonder what I am about to know -- really know -- of Him. Jesus. He has scars. Those precious feet...I can't stop thinking about them. So I will live bent low and grab hold of His feet and veer into the scars that were born of love for you and for me.

"Not many people love sacrificially without having to," said a beautiful and recently acquainted friend of mine. It resounded within me.

In Turkey, He sparked something in me that I hope remains as long as this heart beats inside this flesh. In everything, I want to expect to die and expect to raise the dead.

Expect to die. If I am expecting to die, I won't hold back in the ways that I let Him love through me. It will be free and sacrificial. Hopeful, because the Kingdom is at hand.

Expect to raise the dead. If I am expecting for the dead to come out of their graves (physically or spiritually), I will always (need to) be dependent and fixated on the glory of His resurrection power. His is the power above all powers. Praise and triumphant joy are certain side effects of that.

Do you see the love laced throughout both of those hopes?


He is love. He came as love with skin on it so that very skin could be pierced through and ripped from His body. I have so much more to learn of love -- of Him, and how He loved me, and how He loves me every day. I sort of feel like a sponge. I soak in His love and wring it back out. I absorb it to know Him and I pray that it may drench the world with the same awe-inspiring power that has so enamored me.

A friend of mine has been praying this, and now I am too:

"Holy Spirit, lead us into such radical intimacy that it shakes and heals the earth."

The way I see Him is unspeakably captivating and irresistibly alluring. He gave Himself up.

He gave Himself up. There are three verses in the NASB that have that exact phrase. Each of them follow some form of the word "love."

Galatians 2:20 - ...the Son of God...loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Ephesians 5:1-2 - Be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:25-26 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word.


In praying for India, I keep hearing "love." The passage in Ephesians 3:14-21 keeps coming to mind...understanding together how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know the love that surpasses knowledge that we may be filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God. That is amazing.

This is all a gathering of the thoughts He has been thinking loudly with my mind of Christ. I don't know what it is going to look like -- or feel like -- but I am so filled with joy and peace from the God of Hope. His grace gives me confidence that I will know His love even when I do not portray it. There is such freedom in living because He loves me instead of living in order to get Him to love me. I may not always love, but I will always be loved. He is relentless. I've been calling it "loving by faith": praying that those I come in contact with would be transformed by knowing more of His love, while being mindful that I am not a necessary element in that equation but giving myself up for it anyway.

Live loved, dear ones, live loved. Letting Him love you is the way to love Him, because He who loves His wife loves Himself. Those who are in Christ are an inseparable member of His body. It really is the best news ever.


Leaning in and living loved,
bd

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A new friend

I knocked. She opened. I explained.

She nearly cried, as did I.

She knows Him.

She received devastating news yesterday that is rocking her faith. Her heart is breaking.

Pray with me for her.

She, too, has done random acts of faith that could only be explained by the nudge of the Holy Spirit. That was encouraging.

I prayed with her as her child watched through the window. She invited me to come back after I return from India.

I want to obey Him immediately from now on. I used to look at it as having something to lose, when really there is only joy to gain.

I need so much grace!

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My voice and acts on them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock, and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

Luke 6:46-49

When much is given, much is required.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disobedience and Sovereignty


Sovereignty has the last word.

First, a story: I paid a bill online today and was left with $6 in my account. Later, I went (shall I call it home?) and opened an envelope addressed to me with a check inside for $500.

I say this a lot, but I love knowing that there will be times in my life where I stop and say to my past, present, and future self, "Why would you ever doubt Him?!" Knowing that now feeds the fire of my trust in the One who will never, ever, ever, ever, ever go back on His promises to provide for us. Trusting when these things are unseen increases the delight I have in Him in the meantime regardless of what He might or might not be allowing me to see. And He's intentional and gracious about that too.

If a shepherd boy became a king, if the Messiah was born of a virgin, if grass pierces concrete -- SURELY nothing is too hard for Him; SURELY He is unstoppable.


Lately I have been calling Him the God of surprises. That...does things to me.

Terrified and full of joy.

An acquaintance of mine wrote recently, "It's possible to be afraid of what obedience might bring next and be full of thanks and overflowing joy and TRUST anyway. This giddy anticipation because we see all that He has done for us and we believe that He can only bring more good. Good, even in the ugly."

I want to tell you how I have been disobeying Him lately.


But really, I want to tell you how incredible He is.

Keep in mind that one of the things I keep asking for is grace to trust Him more.

Several months ago, while driving by a house on the way to my mother's, I was nudged by the Spirit to visit whoever might live there. I didn't. I have passed that house several times since then and His Spirit keeps persisting...and I keep resisting. Wanting but resisting, praising but disobeying, as a good friend of mine wrote recently.

My initial response to His nudge is to look around my car to see what I have to offer the people of the house. Somehow I think that that would make it less weird for the person on the other side of that door. I'm probably dead wrong. Can you picture it? "My name's Brittany...I'm older than I look...uhh...here's a crumbled cookie...and a scarf from India...mind if I come inside?"

If we are out of our mind, it is for God, right?

I think of this and consider one of the things that His mind has been tumbling around in my head for the past few months:

Jesus isn't just the best thing I have to offer anyone. He's the only thing.

Christ, Christ, Christ. Nothing but Christ. He's good enough to stand alone. "Good" is so much of an understatement that it almost seems like a misrepresentation.


I just wonder. I just wonder what He will do next. And I wonder if wondering is idling. And He hushes my mind. But I wonder still.

Do I believe He's enough or not? Do I believe I can walk up to someone empty-handed and know that I am offering them the greatest thing that has ever existed? I think I believe that. There is nothing to lose; only joy to gain. I think I believe that too. And while I am now eager and resolute to knock on that door and speak things that will probably not come until the moment I open my mouth, I wonder why I waited to decide to follow Him there until it made more sense to me. Disobedience is nauseating at best. Sometimes I think when instead it is best to just follow...and thinking (questioning His leading, making excuses, etc.) always complicates things. I want to be one who follows His every nudge. I want a trust that neither questions nor delays. I want the only explanation for the things that happen in my life to be divine intervention.

But really, I want to know Him. There is so much yet to know of Him! Unchartered waters of trust flow into unchartered waters of intimacy with Him. Intimacy is ministry. I've lived that. It just spills over.


In the past month, different people have said a variation of a phrase that always resounds within me. I've heard, "Do it!", "Go for it!", and "Just go for it with Jesus!"

Just going for it...I intend to. I'll let you know who is on the other side of that door, and what He allows me to know of Him in the process.

He is such a Lion.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

To Know Him

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the the third day, that we might live before Him.

So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3

Friday, July 15, 2011

Intentionally Untitled

It's almost 2 in the morning and I am...inspired. I'm soothed by the peace of Christ as I recline against Him in this chair in a dimly lit kitchen. Thoughts are floating in and out of my mind and I desire to write them.

For starters, I just realized that the Irish flag looks like an Italian flag that has been sitting out in the sun for a few months. I also observed that the southernmost part of India is still in the Northern Hemisphere, so I'm wondering if I'll ever make it to the other side of the equator. It really is just a wondering -- a curiosity that is content to be anywhere in the world as long as I am in Him. But I must admit that I daily crave to be on the Arabian Peninsula. Daily. And the fact that the flight to India I just booked includes a stop in Bahrain excites me to the core. And I think I realized why some people consider some countries to be "closed," even though I don't believe in such a thing with His power. A visa to get into Bahrain allows a maximum stay of 28 days. Wouldn't it be cool to move to Jordan or Iraq or Lebanon and take somewhat frequent visits there? I daydream and scheme about ways to dwell in "those" lands and cultivate faithfulness. But His power is so much greater than my wildest imaginations! And I have some wild ones, courtesy of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Bah bah bah, bah Bahrain.

Anyway -- India. As I said, I booked a ticket there the other day. I originally thought it was going to be a one-way ticket, and was just as content either way. But it seemed good -- a phrase used to describe the decision-making of the disciples in the book of Acts -- to purchase a round trip ticket instead. I'm used to flying internationally with passengers I know, but this time it'll just be Jesus and me. There's something particularly sweet about that.

I mean it when I say that trust in Him is all I'm riding on right now. Three out of the six times I have traveled internationally, Spirit was specific in showing me the end from the beginning. I knew without a doubt that all the money was going to come in, that the planes would land, and that I would be well-taken-care-of.

I was trusting "that" and trusting "for." But this time, it's just trust. Period. Spirit hasn't shown me an "end" picture this time. He's just graced me with a lively faith that is so certain of His love for and faithfulness to me.

His victory is that I can't lose. He is GOING to provide for me regardless of where I am in this world. I am His precious! Even if I leave this country with nothing in "my" bank account, I am trusting that what I need will be there every time I go to an ATM. And if not, then He will do something even better than that!

Money does not provide for me.

Food is not the sustenance of my physical existence.

The extent of financial security is simple trust in His loving provision. He has unlimited resources. He is unstoppable and MIGHTY to save.

And please hear this, and consider it with your mind of Christ:

Faith is not a work.

I can't boast in it.

Faith is a gift. Trust is a choice. I think.

And when my faith wanes, He whispers to my soul,

There's grace for that.

There's grace for that...

In the recent seasons of my life, I have found that what keeps fueling my trust the most is a realization of His faithfulness. And when I want to delight in Him more, all I do is ask Him to show me how He delights in me. And when I want to love others, I ask Him to show me how He loves me. I used to think that was selfish. But it's just about knowing Him.

He died to know me. I don't understand that love. But I want to.

There will be ways that He provides for me and miracles that He does in and through me that I will be bursting to tell His Church. I speak from experience! But the greatest part about His provision and His power isn't the stories that will result -- it's knowing Him and experiencing Him personally through it all. HIM -- Jesus Christ. The One who is enthroned as we speak and is forever surrounded by those who impulsively repeat, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" as a natural response of beholding His goodness in its entirety.

Home...

For His sake, I want to know Him. He is so worthy. The best (only) thing anyone can do "for" Him is to know Him. I can't know Him for you just as I can't eat for you. He is just so much. He is the symphony and the conductor; the treasure and the chest; the ocean and the rain. He is the song that I sing and the air that I breathe and He loves me more than I could ever thank Him for while I remain an earth-dweller. But He's prepared another place for me.

And I'm GOING. I'm going to be with Him forever. Just as I am going to bed in a few minutes, I am going to heaven. Paradise. Gold. Pearls. Light. Unhindered and unceasing intimacy with my Precious.

I ache for that. And I am not alone. I don't understand why I sometimes refuse or resist that ache when it arises here...but He is persistent. And He is gracious. And His love drives out my fear because my sins have been punished so that I would not be.

He LOVES us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Merve.


Rachel: "What do you want to do?"

Me: "I...don't know."

I wanted to sing and dance and laugh and play with that precious child.


Rachel: "Are you going to India? Spirit told me to ask you."

Me: "That's what I've been thinking about this entire time...but Merve's not in India."

Rachel: "How are you going to leave Turkey?"

Me: "In pieces."

I had no idea.

Straight from my journal. 30 June 2011. Thyatira:

Jesus. You are so beautiful.

When i see those who are suffering, i see You Yourself -- Living and active, bruised and carrying Your cross. You captivate and soften me.

i see You most in the least. i see You, Jesus. i see You.

You led me to desire and to ask to see Your Kingdom and Your beauty and Your love and Your glory. It is a dangerous and lovely thing to request. And then You hit me with it.

It happened in Thyatira. Her name is Merve.

She was so beautiful, Jesus. i saw You. i see You most in the least. i want to see You always. You are so beautiful. SO beautiful.

She was standing around. She was young -- maybe eight or nine -- but she stood out from everyone else.

Matted hair. Dirty hands. Shoes that were obviously too big for her. Her eyes could not have been more piercing. They were deeply inset and striking white against her ebony skin. i saw innocence behind the hardness. But the hardness was not hard for long. Your love wooed her open and seeped through the cracks.



It all began (sort of) when the air conditioner on the bus quit working. We waited outside the Thyatira ruins for it to be repaired. i saw her first outside the jackpot candy store. i had a white chocolate bar and turned around to buy three more because it was so good. i walked up to her and offered it. She didn't accept. i smiled. i wanted to be around her and i wanted her to know that. Your Love in me pursues. So i asked her her name.

"Merve."




Beautiful.

She mingled around us and quickly realized that we don't speak much Turkish. We spoke as much as we knew how and smiled through it all. She seemed closed off. She told us more than we could understand. We smiled anyway.

Kristin bought her water. She accepted the chocolate on the second offer. A younger boy showed up and stayed around her. He may or may not have been her younger brother. He looked about five or six.

We sat on an umbrella table stump. Sitting was most of what happened. The boy kept pointing at my camera. i gestured an offer to take their picture. They nodded and loved it.

There was a word she kept repeating while she was with us. i didn't know it at the time, but she was saying, "Can I come with you? Can I come with you? Can I come with you?"

Heart.

i strongly remember the moment when You nudged me to open my hand to her. She latched onto it and i prayed Your peace over her. She leaned her head against my shoulder. i was instantly in pieces and especially in love.

You amaze me. You wanted to hold her hand.

She walked over to be with the larger portion of my friends. i sat speechless on the umbrella's base. After a minute or so of stunned silence i joined them by the gate. When i walked up, my heart rejoiced. She was gettin' loved. Some were letting her use their camera. Others were extending their hands for her to hold. Arms were available for her to lean on. Laughter was prevalent.



The Body of Christ.

My heart swelled to watch her interact with those who gave her their loving attention. i genuinely wondered if she had ever been hugged before. She took the next two pictures.


She came back over to me and took a picture of us.


i saw love bring her out of the dark. The Life in me brought her out of the grave. Kindness awakened her to goodness. Her smile was so beautiful. i won't forget it even though the photographic evidence suggests otherwise. i saw Your Light.

K I N G D O M

My arms couldn't resist hugging her. You couldn't resist hugging her. My hands couldn't help but reach for hers. The light in my eyes couldn't be kept from shining Hope into her soul. You did these things. My hands and arms and eyes realized why they were created. i spilled open and Love fell in. Now let it be unstoppable.

You gave me a smile that poured love over her and beckoned her into Your arms. She kept grabbing onto my arm with both of her hands and leaning against me. It melted me every single time.

Josh came to tell us that the bus had arrived. i embraced her joyfully and hugged her as tightly as i could. i leaned close to her ear and whispered the only sentence i know in her language:

"Isa Mesih Sani Savior!"

"Jesus Christ loves you!"


Her face...it lit up! i invited her to walk with us back to the bus. She grabbed my hand and i swung our arms back and forth as we walked. Again she leaned against me. Again my heart melted. Before i got on the bus, i got eye-level with her and held both of her hands in mine as i said, "Seni seviorum ve Isa Mesih Sani savior."

"I love you and Jesus Christ loves you."

We smiled and Turkish-kissed.

i got on the bus and watched her wave and smile from the street. She soon walked to the back of the bus and kept motioning for me to get off and stay with her. i had never been more thankful to not know the language of the country i was in. Even if i did, i would not have been able to tell her that i couldn't stay with her and she couldn't come with us.

After a few moments of her asking me to stay with her and me standing helplessly irresponsive, she walked up the stairs and pressed against the side of the bus, as if hiding. She looked so afraid and so almost-but-not-yet relieved. i looked at her longingly and lovingly and told her again that i love her. it took more trust than i had at that moment to believe that she would see love as more than something or Someone who comes and goes. Her name will never be "Abandoned." My hand remained in hers as the driver of our bus told her to get off.

She resisted -- much the way i resist when i'm about to jump off a cliff or a diving board. There is that start-stop movement that happens and an inner, rising tension that prevails and consumes. i saw this in her.

She kissed my hand and touched my fist to her forehead and then threw it behind her as she ran down the stairs of the bus. The door closed and as we pulled away i watched her weeping on the street by herself.

it wrecked me. Love wrecked me. And i knew that what had just happened was a before and after of sorts.



i remained standing on those steps for probably half an hour. i stood there missing her presence that once stood with me. Rachel came to stand by me and hold my hand. Nothing was spoken, but much was conveyed. We shared silence as we stared blankly out the window at the passing mountains. i thought of India. i wondered if it was worth it from her perspective to spend an hour with Americans who would love her so much only to leave her so quickly. i thought of Psalm 146. i thought of You, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry, Who sets prisoners free, Who protects the strangers, Who supports the fatherless and the widow, Who thwarts the way of the wicked. The only option i had was to trust You to do what You promised.

Fear not at all. Where your hands cannot reach and your love cannot help, His hands can reach and His love can help. So why are you afraid? Miles of space and solid walls and locked doors are nothing to love. Nothing at all. -Amy Carmichael

i love You, Jesus. i love You.

i realized then that i wasn't called to accomplish anything. In those moments i realized that my lot was to look that child in the eyes and love her. And as i did, i saw You staring back at me.

i thought more of You.

The crucifixion happened because of Love, not hatred. It was an act of justice from heaven's view -- not injustice. It was a momentary act of wrath on the spotless Lamb to bring about an eternal act of mercy on those who once opposed You.

G R A C E .

Something is happening to me. YOU are happening to me. As You wish, let it be so.

i'm all Yours.

Things Considered

There are so many blogs I haven't posted because they were incomplete or I didn't like the flow of my own words. My mom told me a month or so ago that I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I hadn't considered that before, but I think she's right. The blogs that come to mind are usually incomplete, or there is a full body paragraph with no introduction or conclusion. Maybe my thoughts don't have a beginning or an end because neither does He? Who knows. :) And why is an introduction or a conclusion important anyway? I was confining myself a little bit in putting such a high expectation on my written words. It is for freedom He set us free, and i have things to say, so here i go, with no introduction and with a run-on sentence and two intentionally lower-cased "I"s.

Lately, I have been absolutely fascinated by and enamored with the promise that God is always going to provide for me. It is like I am realizing it for the first time. Wherever I am in the world, He is going to sustain me -- until He brings me Home, which sounds amazing right now. As I was reveling in this with my closest human friend, she said, "Yes! His victory is that you can't lose!"

It sheds light on freedom and joy for me. Here's an example:

In the recent past, whenever I would meet up with a friend for food, my meal would always be eaten in tension if who was paying for it was not previously discussed. I am very much a saver when it comes to money, and I like to think I have good reasons for doing so. But His grace trumps my good intentions, just as it trumped Eve's. His promises to provide for me cannot be hindered or undone.

So He refined my mind in this way: No matter whose wallet the money comes from, God is the one Who just put chicken in my belly. (I say chicken because of how much I enjoy it and how often I eat it.) It doesn't matter how expensive it was; He considered that and is fulfilling His promises to provide. Understanding that gives me the liberty to give freely without giving cheaply.

Most of the meals I have eaten recently have been eaten in awe and joyful thanks. My Father feeds me! Daily! With good things! That is all I see when I eat or drink anymore -- not dollar signs or empty pockets or good intentions. Awareness of His grace causes me to eat in tension no longer. I am resisting the urge to counter-balance everything I just said with a reminder to not be unwise with what He has given us. But grace, once realized, instructs. It is not limiting. And there's enough grace, I once heard, to waste.

Enjoy His faithfulness.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Heaps of Grace, Relentless Kindness

Dear Church,

But God...raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

He keeps you. You are His. Pride has been defeated. Our enemy has been disarmed.

He put Himself under His own wrath in Jesus Christ, though you were the ones to provoke it. He preferred to experience avenging His own punishment (and therefore agony) on Himself, so that you would not be caught in its crossfires. He is the only one able to endure His own wrath. You surely would have perished.

And yet He still got what He wanted -- intimate relationship with you. The very things He formed you for are the very things He restored you to in Christ Jesus. It is exactly what He wanted.

He has made you objects of His kindness, thought for a short while He was the object of His own anger. And He tells you that your slate is clean, that the gift is free, that the joy is yours for the taking. He tells you that everything is paid for, that the punishment has been carried out, that you will never have to apologize to Him again.

He tells you that you are free from the very thing that caused His wrath to be aroused.

This is too good. This is grace. He never didn't want you.

Selah.

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and Renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:3-7

Monday, January 24, 2011

Help Our Indian Brothers and Sisters

Their resilience astounded us. Their love inspired us. Their joy was evident to us.

They chose to follow Jesus despite the unavoidable sufferings that would result. They have been beaten and threatened multiple times for choosing to follow Him by shepherding His people in the slums of New Delhi.



My friends and I had the opportunity to meet this family of six. Each week for three months we would drive about two hours until the road became too narrow for the vehicle. We walked the remaining distance: A few hundred yards down a narrow, bending alley filled with colored walls that somehow made the polluted sky look bluer. At the end of the alley on the righthand side, we were welcomed each time by one of the precious family members.



They would invite us in and offer us chai and biscuits. (They're called biscuits, but they're basically little cookies.) We would leave our shoes outside of the front door and sit in white plastic chairs or along the side of a bed. We would sit for 10-15 minutes and then some of the family would lead us to the heart of the slums just minutes away. Again, we would drive until the road became too narrow. From there we would walk less than 100 yards to the home of a Christian family that would soon be overflowing with children.



The children came from all over the slums. Their parents formed a spectrum of nominal to radical Hindus and Muslims. Each time we told them stories of Jesus, sang songs, asked their names, prayed for them, and a few times we gave them candy. Sometimes we would go to different houses and pray for those who wanted it. I could write a separate blog filled with those stories alone. Toward the end of our time there, one of the girls would always grab my hand and walk with us back to the vehicle. All we could do was smile, hug, and say, "I love you. I pray for you." I didn't know much Hindi, and she didn't know much English, but a definite, inexplicable connection was made.



My purpose in writing all of this is due to a need that has gone unfulfilled for over a year. This pastor -- whom I know and have seen many times personally -- has begun constructing a building immediately outside of his home. At this time, he does not have the means to finish it. His intention is to use it as a place for people to gather together, hear about Jesus, and worship Him.



It is roughly 200 square feet -- which is about twice the size of the home the believers usually meet in. Most of the walls are in place, but it is in need of doors, windows, a roof, and electricity. Recently some people have stopped coming to the original home because it is too small, too crowded and too cold on the floor. The estimated cost to finish is about $4,300. Those of us who have been are hoping for closer to $5,000 so that they will be able to have furniture of some sort and good mats for the floor.

Two main verses come to mind when I think of India. Isaiah 51:3 and Philippians 4:19.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the glorious riches that are in Christ Jesus.


I am asking you to pray with me for our brothers and sisters in India. I do not doubt that God will meet all their needs. Let me know if you are interested in being a part of that.

Peace,
Brittany