Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Finding the One Who Was Lost

The pastor relayed God's message to the "one" in front row...
Whoever believes in me, he shall live." That is, turn from self and die and then truly come to life.

And we bowed our heads and some our hearts, for I suppose there's always a grumbling Pharisee or scribe present. And "the one" heard Him. With heads bowed, no one to cheer him on, he said "Yes". When I heard the preacher say, "Anyone else?" I knew. God had not relented in this one's life, he pursued and was patient. He left the crowd to find him, and now his child turned to Him and lay on his shoulders, as the lost lamb on his shepherd's shoulders.
There was much joy in Heaven. The Spirit rejoiced within.

The preacher asked "the one" to pray with him. An outward sign of an inward turning? The sanctuary stilled and his voice went out, a lone voice in the crowd, even to the back and beyond the sanctuary, others would tell me later.

He prayed words of knowing he was a sinner and that only Jesus, his life, his death, his resurrection-his blood, could clean him, could bring him eternal life, this knowing of the Father.

My tears flow easy. Men save their tears. But that day, the men cried. They cried in this "knowing" and this eternal joy. I'm thankful this sinner was there that day to rejoice with other sinners covered by the blood of Jesus. I'm thankful that my Lord left the crowd to come after me, for I too was once "the one".

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes grumbled saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

So he told them this parable. What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. ~Luke 15:1-7

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19, 2012~

I remember when you told me to start in the praise team years ago and I searched my past and I searched my heart and I found no training in this. Only in the wise words of a wiser woman, as she heard me go on and on and on with questions of why. Why would I? I don't know how to do this and I'll fail. And she looked right at me and said, "Why not?" So I said I'd like to be there. I don't know if I was really ever there because I didn't think I deserved it. I would focus on me and things I was good at and things I wasn't good at. I rarely looked at you and certainly didn't realize that it's all about you. Everything. From you, through you, and to you. It's all because of who you are. You're the point. And I remember the first lessons on guitar how Shawn said I might just play in the background someday as a band played and I said, "yeah, right". And how the strings echoed in my ears of the song, "Only You". I remember saying to Becky on the phone as I gazed into the sky, the night of finding out which agency would help lead us the children you chose for us to shepherd. I remember saying to her that if I could do one thing, I take my guitar and play in an orphanage. Would you play in their hearts and sing of your love? And not so long ago, I told Paul I didn't want to lead a song. I really didn't. And then a few weeks pass and you whisper, "Yes, Angie. I want you lead this." And I cry and I say I can't. And you tell me you know. Only you can. My job is to trust and stay laid low and love. It's in the taking the step one learns if she really trusts-or not. And hours ago, after being hurt by daughter, I calmed, ready to discipline. And she fell into my arms and cried hard tears of "I'm sorry, Mama." And I forgave her, just like that. And you showed me right there that THAT is who you are. That is grace. I don't have to earn forgiveness. A heart changed-forgiveness is given. May I never forget this. Oh, how you love. In the quiet and the stillness. In the rage and tempest. May I hear you. Send me out to the wells, God. Send me to the crowds that you may love on the ones who feel unworthy to be loved. May they see YOU. For you met me at my well, when I was bone-dry and you saw right through the mess and acting-out behavior of a twenty-something little girl/woman. You came to my town and I reached out and touched you and you looked me square in the eye. Years of shame fell away. And you said I was clean. Oh, how I want to live in that. I remember falling in love with You as you pursued me from every angle and how I told Carla it's the most wonderful feeling and does everyone feel this way? There have been many other contenders for this heart since that day but your love is steadfast and your love is jealous. And you don't relent and you never let go. Make this heart to love you with all that I am. Make this life to glorify you-may others see You and your beauty and goodness and that you are the living God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


It must have been over 5 years ago when You started asking me to leave my job. I didn't understand it at the time. I was too entrenched. It was 4 years ago, shortly after Grandma died and before we sold her farm, that you asked us to sell our home. I argued and cried and gave it up and took it back again. It was 4 years ago, when the little boy we thought would be our son was reunited with his family. We rejoiced and we cried. Our hearts started opening to the possibility of a different country. It was then we started praying about where our child was. It was then you beckoned us to listen against advice, which You know I'm not so great at doing, and consider adopting two children at one time. I remember telling Jim, "I think we're supposed to adopt two." He smiled and said, "I knew that." I reacted, my normal tendancy, and reeled, "Why didn't you tell me?!" We could have saved a lot of time. He told me I needed to hear it for myself. Funny how he knows me. Funny how he knows how I trust You and your voice. You had us fly to Guatemala on July 11, 2009, the birthdate given to our son. Could it be that as we flew over country and water that across the ocean, a baby boy, our baby boy was being born? I remember when we landed in Guatemala and the sheer joy of it all. I remember stepping onto the grounds of Casa Bernabe and saying, "I'm home". I had all of these feelings of, "I was born for this" and "I know how these abused children feel." If not for our children at home, we could have stayed. We most likely would have stayed. Fast forward, October 2010. Jim shows up at work and I remember thinking this is either really good or really bad. It was really good. You allowed us to see the faces of our two newest children. I'll never forget staring at them on the computer screen. I remember leaving Cole and Julia to fly to Africa. None of us are particularly good at goodbyes. I cried. They cried. Don't know if Jim cried. I remember sitting in the van in Ethiopia-Cindy marveling at the fact she was in Africa. All I could think was, "I'm where my children are. They're here." And the waiting in the room as we waited for the nannies to bring them seemed like a lifetime, in reality, minutes. But you're not much one for microwave moments, are You. And how when I saw Gabriel, I knew. Do you remember how I kept repeating, It's him. It's him. It's him.? He's the one you showed me the picture of in November 2007, not even conceived in his mama's womb, not even conceived in his mama's heart. I don't understand it, but I'm thankful for it. I remember our last day in Addis, Cindy, baby girl, and me, all on our way to the doctor at the orphanage, trying hard to understand language and how to give medications and going to a little, hole-in-the-wall pharmacy and wanting to kiss the boy behind the counter because he spoke perfect english and told this mama how to administer medicine to one sick little baby on a plane in the middle of the Atlantic. Oh my, how I remember sprinting across the Dubai airport and the man being so kind to promise me my husband wouldn't miss the plane and he would help us. Thank you for sending him to us. And I remember landing at JFK and wanting to kiss the ground. And the sheer joy of Julia and Cole at the sight of their brother and sister. The weeks following were hard weeks. These days are hard days. But the remembering reminds me that You are good and you are Faithful and You are Sovereign and how how you love. I give you these hard days, these hard mothering two year old days. The days when the only thing I know to do is to lie on the ground and cry out and sometimes, just cry, when I forget who you are. And I remember that you've brought me home, to mother my children, even in my weak and not-so-nice moments, here is where you want me.

Thank you for loving me. For pulling me out of the pit. For saving my life. For making me free to love you and rest in you and breathe in you. I ask that you keep me abiding. Keep me laid low. I love you. For your great name. I pray for the honor of telling all the world of who you are, proclaiming your goodness and your greatness and your peace and your rest and power and your justice and mercy and redemption. For your glory- My deepest joy. A~